Sunday, August 12, 2007



MONDAY, AUGUST 13, 2007, 11:00 A.M.



Dear Mayor Newsom,

The following is a letter I sent to the Board of Supervisors. And I have posted it to the Bay Area United Against War website ( so that others can express their feelings as well. I have encouraged everyone to write their objections to the "performance" of the Blue Angels over our city.

I think the letter is self-explanatory and please know that it is meant for you as well.

You have a say and should be mandated by the electorate of this City to conform with our wishes and ban the Blue Angels from our skies.

Bonnie Weinstein

Here is the letter:

Dear Supervisors,

I am writing to all of you although I live in Bernal Heights. The Blue Angels fly and terrorize all of us in this city and in the Bay Area. Lethal weapons flying close to the ground right over our heads is neither celebratory nor fun. The noise is deafening--and no one can avoid it by choice--just as we can't avoid the war on Iraq and Afghanistan by choice--so much for our "democracy" that ignores the voice of its people!

We shouldn't have to plead with our supervisors nor our Mayor to carry out what is surely the will of the people of San Francisco who have already voted twice to end the war and the military recruitment in our city.

We, the people, have made our wishes clear already. We are against the war; against the military industrial complex that is the U.S. Military that is personified by the Blue Angels--the "Angels of Death."

That our warplanes are the fastest and that our pilots are the best trained to bring death and destruction does not comfort us or make us proud. It is an abomination and a condemnation of our government and its brutal, world war, domination plan!

And if this isn't enough, the Blue Angels' "performances" are wrought with danger already resulting in 26 fatalities. How can this threat to the wellbeing of the people of San Francisco be considered fun entertainment?

There is no excuse for their presence in our air! They should all be grounded permanently.


Bonnie Weinstein
San Francisco, CA 94110

Gavin Newsom

Dear Ms. Weinstein,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding San Francisco's annual
Fleet Week.

As you likely know, Supervisor Chris Daly has recently introduced a
policy resolution at the Board of Supervisors calling for the ending of
Fleet Week in San Francisco. I continue to support Fleet Week as a
popular and long-standing community event enjoyed by the entire Bay
Area. Notwithstanding the Bush Administration's current shortcomings in
foreign policy, San Francisco government continues to support the men
and women of the United States Armed Forces and is proud to take part in
honoring our troops and their families during Fleet Week.

Recently, some safety concerns have been raised about the Blue Angels
air show, based on a recent accident elsewhere. Our City has ensured
that the Navy and the City of San Francisco have a comprehensive
emergency response plan to ensure the safety of the event. Additional
concerns have been raised regarding the noise caused by flyovers is
being addressed by the Federal Administration creation of a flight plan
that takes place mostly over the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.

In addition to honoring our troops, Fleet Week provides the city with
significant economic benefits. Over one million people view the air
show in San Francisco and thousands of more visitors come to San
Francisco throughout Fleet Week. For all of these reasons, I am proud
to continue that San Francisco continues to host Fleet Week.

Again, thank you for contacting my office with you concerns. If you have
further questions, please contact my office at 415-554-7111 or visit for more information


Gavin Newsom


Help Save Kenneth Foster—An Innocent Man on Texas Death Row
Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976
(Texas tops the list with more than three times the executions than any other State in the U.S. at 398 out of 1,089 total executions. The next highest execution rate is Virginia, with 98; Oklahoma, 85; Missouri, 66; Florida, 64; California is sixteenth on the list at 13 executions since 1976—the most recent being Tookie Williams in 2006.) Get the full stats at:


September 15: A showdown march from the White House to Congress in Washington DC

North/Central California "End the War Now" March
Saturday, October 27, 2007, 11am, San Francisco Civic Center Plaza

Momentum is building for Oct. 27 and beyond.

Here is a schedule of coalition meetings coming up:

Tues. Aug. 14, 7pm - Outreach Committee Meeting - basement of ANSWER
office, 2489 Mission St.

Thurs. Aug. 16, 6pm - Fundraising Committee Meeting - 2489 Mission

Sat. Aug. 18, 11am - Program Commitee Meeting - 2489 Mission St.

Tues. Aug. 21, 6:30pm - Oct 27 Steering Committee Meeting - location
To be determined

The media committee has not finalized the time and place for its next
meeting yet.

Help build for a massive, united march and rally in San Francisco Oct. 27 to End the War NOW.

This action is sponsored by a broad coalition of groups in the Bay Area. A list will be forthcoming—we are all united on this one and, hopefully in the future.

Funds are urgently needed for all the material—posters, flyers, stickers and buttons, etc.—to get the word out! Make your tax-deductible donation to:

Progress Unity Fund/Oct. 27

and mail to:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco, CA 94110

Please sign up to pass out flyers and to volunteer your time and energy to making this one of the truest expressions of the sentiment of we, the people this October 27.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein

To get more information on meeting times or distribution dates call or drop into the ANSWER office at the above address.

Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
(Call to check meeting and event schedules.)




1) Inequality has run amok. Do leaders care?
Posted Wednesday, June 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

2) National "Sick of War" Sick Day
- A Proposal by Workers Against War

3) Cuba formally protests US visa failures
By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 3 minutes ago

4) Very Scary Things
Op-Ed Columnist
August 10, 2007

5) Getting the Rescue Right
NYT Editorial
August 10, 2007

6) Projecting La Memoria in Southwest Colombia
by Peter Bearder, an independent journalist currently based in Bogotá.
July 30, 2007
From: Greg McDonald

7) The Need to Know
NYT Editorial
August 11, 2007

8) Democrats Say Leaving Iraq May Take Years
August 12, 2007

9) A Segregated Road in an Already Divided Land
August 11, 2007

10) Security Council Approves a Broader U.N. Mandate in Iraq to Seek Reconciliation
August 11, 2007

11) To Curb Illegal Migration, Spain Offers a Legal Route
August 11, 2007

12) Canada Announces Plans for 2 New Bases in Its Far North
August 11, 2007
[How the vultures are gathering to fight over the spoils of an ecosystem destroyed while planning its plunder and rape for profit and power…bw]

13) Farmers Call Crackdown on Illegal Workers Unfair
August 11, 2007

14) Pressured School District Reverses, Allowing Play on Murder of Gay Student
August 11, 2007

15) Far From the Reservation, but Still Sacred?
Yuma, Ariz.
August 12, 2007

16) Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look
Filed at 7:32 p.m. ET
August 10, 2007

17) World’s Best Medical Care?
NYT Editorial
August 12, 2007

18) Losing the Advantage
How the ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Went Bad
August 12, 2007

19) Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq
Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis
Peter Beaumont in Baghdad
Sunday August 12, 2007


1) Inequality has run amok. Do leaders care?
Posted Wednesday, June 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

When pets are poisoned by imported pet food or U.S. attorneys are fired under suspicious circumstances, Congress gears up hearings and vows quick action. A far greater scandal, however, has hardly gained the interest of legislators or the presidential candidates. That is the increasing wealth gap between the rich, the middle class and the poor, which is reaching alarming proportions.

The top 10% of income earners in the United States now owns 70% of the wealth, and the wealthiest 1% owns more than the bottom 95%, according to the Federal Reserve. In 2005, the top 300,000 Americans enjoyed about the same share of the nation's income - 21.8% - as the bottom 150 million.

New York is an especially bleak case study. The top fifth of earners in Manhattan now makes 52 times what the lowest fifth makes - $365,826 annually compared with $7,047 - roughly comparable to income disparity in Namibia.

Meanwhile, the ratio of average CEO to worker pay in the U.S. shot up from 301-to-1 to 431-to-1 in 2004. The average CEO now earns substantially more in one day than the average worker earns all year. Adding insult to injury, taxpayers actually give tax breaks to corporations for those salaries, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a country founded on the principle that "all men are created equal," this stark and growing economic inequality has become a third rail. Almost no one in political leadership touches it for fear of being accused of inciting class warfare.

Government has more than a right to confront the problem. It has an obligation to do so.

A small first step would be passing the Income Equity Act, denying corporations a tax deduction for excessive CEO salaries (defined as pay greater than 25 times the company's lowest full-time worker). They could still pay CEOs whatever they wished, but taxpayers would no longer subsidize it. That would create downward pressure on executive income while saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

More substantive would be a fix to Social Security's dirty little secret of favoring the rich: Annual wage income above $94,200 is completely untaxed by Social Security. While an average worker pays 6.2% of her income to Social Security, a CEO earning $1 million pays only 1% of his salary. As is, only 83% of all wages are subject to Social Security taxes, so this would increase annual revenues by nearly 20%, or $100 billion a year.

Other worthy proposals include providing child care for working parents, expanding health care and lowering college costs. But the most direct way to address inequality is to reimpose higher income tax rates. Under President Dwight Eisenhower's Republican administration, the maximum marginal tax rate was 87%. The Reagan tax cut of 1981 dramatically lowered this to 50%, then again to 28% in 1986. Since then, no surprise, our nation has seen a steady rise in wealth disparity.

It is long past time for our political leaders toput aside the scandal du jour and take urgently needed action to slow if not reverse our nation's growing economic inequality.

Iglitzin is a labor law attorney. Hill is director of the political reform program of the New America Foundation and author of "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy."


2) National "Sick of War" Sick Day
- A Proposal by Workers Against War

The working class has nothing to gain and everything to lose from the wars being waged by our ruling class.

We are expected to pay for every crime and bloody mistake made by the ruling class. It is our sisters and brothers, and our sons and daughters that are to die for rich peoples' schemes of world domination.

We are expected to spill the blood of other working people who have done us no harm.

We are expected to bear the mass lay-offs, shredding of our democratic rights and violations of our privacy and dignity.

We are expected to suffer in large numbers while an exploiting and oppressing minority of rich people gets richer.

We are expected to bear our share of "sacrifice" – which is usually the entire weight.

We are expected to sit down, shut up and be good little obedient slaves.

We are NOT expected to realize that the working class is the overwhelming majority and that we have the power to not only stop the war, but to also create a system that serves our needs instead of the greed of a few.

Workers Can End the War – By Refusing to Work

Working people are the real majority and we are in a position to end this war immediately. We run the machines, haul the cargo, load the planes and ships, drive the buses and trains and create all of the wealth that those who rule take as their own. Without us the ruling class would have nothing – not even the clothes on their backs.

As workers, we are used to the idea that we must sell our ability work in order to survive. Now it is time to consider the idea that we may have to withhold our ability to work in order to survive. If workers across the US decided to stop working until the war ended, it would only be a matter of days, if not hours, before the first soldiers were on the planes heading home.

In order to send the message that we are serious about stopping the war, and capable of doing it, working people must organize themselves for a national "Sick of War" sick day. Workers Against War has been formed with the purpose of bringing this plan forward to all anti-war, social justice and working class organizations and individuals with the hope that they will form their own "Sick of War Committees" to build and promote this event in whatever way they can.

Workers Against War is proposing the date of October 26th, 2007 for the "Sick of War" sick day. This will provide an opportunity for last minute promotion of and participation in the major regional anti-war demonstrations being organized by United for Peace & Justice on the following day.

The basis of unity for the "Sick of War" sick day should simply be that we are all sick of war. Workers Against War is proposing the slogan "Are you sick of war? Call in sick on October 26 th!" as the unifying theme of this event. All organizations and individuals are encouraged to incorporate additional demands and slogans that address the issues important to them.

In addition to this broad appeal for a national "Sick of War" sick day, Workers Against War aims to build a solidly working class formation within the anti-war movement. In order to do this we are calling on all working people who agree with the 3 demands listed below to organize their own local chapters of Workers Against War. Our main purpose between now and October 26 th will be to make the "Sick Day" a reality, but we must also look beyond any one particular action and begin preparations for a national convention to formulate more demands and to plan our next steps.

If you are a working person, and this idea appeals to you, please get in touch.

Workers Against War – 3 Demands

1. An immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US troops and private mercenaries from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The continued military and corporate occupation of both of these countries has nothing to do with any humanitarian concerns or with "making us safe" but has everything to do with economic interests. If corporations want to steal other countries resources, let them send their boards of directors and stockholders to fight and die.

2. An immediate end to the phony "War on Terror".

The "War on Terror" is merely a cover for endless wars of aggression in pursuit of profits for the ruling class. In reality, this has been a "War of Terror" waged not only against the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan, but also against Lebanese civilians, Palestinians fighting for their homeland, Colombian trade union organizers, supporters of democracy in Haiti and the Philippines… the list goes on and on. The doctrines of "Regime Change" and "Preemptive War" are designed to remove threats to rich peoples' wallets, not to stop terrorists. In fact, the "War on Terror" is likely to create more terrorism. Who usually dies in terror attacks? - Working people.

The "War on Terror" is also a war on working people in the US. Strikes have been broken for "national security" reasons and the largest teachers' union was labeled a "terrorist organization" by Bush's Secretary of Education. Repressive laws such as the USA-PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, the Military Commissions Act and others have enabled the government to violate the privacy of all people and have stripped us of basic democratic rights. The immigrant community, especially Arabs, Muslims and South Asians has been terrorized by the "War on Terror". Many thousands have been arrested and held with little or no access to lawyers or their families. If it is true that "the terrorists hate us for our freedom", then we should stop worrying. Soon there will be no freedom left for them to hate.

3. A Thoroughgoing Democratic Renewal of Society

A workers' movement against war can not limit itself to ending only one of the many injustices that we face in our daily lives. Even if the war were to stop tomorrow, many working people would still be without health insurance, a living wage, educational opportunities, housing, etc. A movement capable of stopping the war would be able to achieve all of our demands and bring about a truly democratic society that serves the interests of the majority of the population – the working class.


3) Cuba formally protests US visa failures
By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 3 minutes ago

Cuba's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had formally protested the U.S. State Department's acknowledgment it will not meet this fiscal year's minimum quota of 20,000 visas for Cubans wanting to live in the U.S.

It accused Washington of violating accords aimed at ensuring safe and orderly migration, while U.S. officials blamed Cuban restrictions for the problem.

Dagoberto Rodriguez, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, said in a statement distributed via e-mail that his office sent a diplomatic note to State Department officials.

"It now corresponds to the United States government to end with the manipulation of the migratory issue in its relations with Cuba," Rodriguez said.

The visa quota flap erupted in mid-July, when Havana warned that the U.S. Interests Section, the American mission here, was not on track to grant at least 20,000 emigration visas before the end of the U.S. government fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

U.S. officials confirmed that they would not fill the quota and blamed the Cuban government, saying it had blocked necessary materials and American personnel from entering the country.

"We categorically reject that accusation," Rodriguez said. "The United States authorities deliberately lie."

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey on Wednesday again blamed Havana for failure to reach the quota, saying if Cuba wanted to help it could "stop interfering with the work of the Interests Section."

"There have been any number of instances over the last few months where vital equipment and supplies, personnel needed to repair some of the things in our Interests Section, have been blocked or prevented from entry," Casey told a news briefing in Washington.

Havana has suggested that American officials denied visas were not involved with visa processing, and sought mostly for help in renovating mission facilities.

As for equipment and supplies, Rodriguez said the American mission had been allowed to import 80.3 metric tons of goods into Cuba in 2006 and suggested other goods still held up by Cuban customs were materials "used for the promotion of subversive activities against our country."


4) Very Scary Things
Op-Ed Columnist
August 10, 2007

In September 1998, the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, a giant hedge fund, led to a meltdown in the financial markets similar, in some ways, to what’s happening now. During the crisis in ’98, I attended a closed-door briefing given by a senior Federal Reserve official, who laid out the grim state of the markets. “What can we do about it?” asked one participant. “Pray,” replied the Fed official.

Our prayers were answered. The Fed coordinated a rescue for L.T.C.M., while Robert Rubin, the Treasury secretary at the time, and Alan Greenspan, who was the Fed chairman, assured investors that everything would be all right. And the panic subsided.

Yesterday, President Bush, showing off his M.B.A. vocabulary, similarly tried to reassure the markets. But Mr. Bush is, let’s say, a bit lacking in credibility. On the other hand, it’s not clear that anyone could do the trick: right now we’re suffering from a serious shortage of saviors. And that’s too bad, because we might need one.

What’s been happening in financial markets over the past few days is something that truly scares monetary economists: liquidity has dried up. That is, markets in stuff that is normally traded all the time — in particular, financial instruments backed by home mortgages — have shut down because there are no buyers.

This could turn out to be nothing more than a brief scare. At worst, however, it could cause a chain reaction of debt defaults.

The origins of the current crunch lie in the financial follies of the last few years, which in retrospect were as irrational as the dot-com mania. The housing bubble was only part of it; across the board, people began acting as if risk had disappeared.

Everyone knows now about the explosion in subprime loans, which allowed people without the usual financial qualifications to buy houses, and the eagerness with which investors bought securities backed by these loans. But investors also snapped up high-yield corporate debt, a k a junk bonds, driving the spread between junk bond yields and U.S. Treasuries down to record lows.

Then reality hit — not all at once, but in a series of blows. First, the housing bubble popped. Then subprime melted down. Then there was a surge in investor nervousness about junk bonds: two months ago the yield on corporate bonds rated B was only 2.45 percent higher than that on government bonds; now the spread is well over 4 percent.

Investors were rattled recently when the subprime meltdown caused the collapse of two hedge funds operated by Bear Stearns, the investment bank. Since then, markets have been manic-depressive, with triple-digit gains or losses in the Dow Jones industrial average — the rule rather than the exception for the past two weeks.

But yesterday’s announcement by BNP Paribas, a large French bank, that it was suspending the operations of three of its own funds was, if anything, the most ominous news yet. The suspension was necessary, the bank said, because of “the complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments” — that is, there are no buyers.

When liquidity dries up, as I said, it can produce a chain reaction of defaults. Financial institution A can’t sell its mortgage-backed securities, so it can’t raise enough cash to make the payment it owes to institution B, which then doesn’t have the cash to pay institution C — and those who do have cash sit on it, because they don’t trust anyone else to repay a loan, which makes things even worse.

And here’s the truly scary thing about liquidity crises: it’s very hard for policy makers to do anything about them.

The Fed normally responds to economic problems by cutting interest rates — and as of yesterday morning the futures markets put the probability of a rate cut by the Fed before the end of next month at almost 100 percent. It can also lend money to banks that are short of cash: yesterday the European Central Bank, the Fed’s trans-Atlantic counterpart, lent banks $130 billion, saying that it would provide unlimited cash if necessary, and the Fed pumped in $24 billion.

But when liquidity dries up, the normal tools of policy lose much of their effectiveness. Reducing the cost of money doesn’t do much for borrowers if nobody is willing to make loans. Ensuring that banks have plenty of cash doesn’t do much if the cash stays in the banks’ vaults.

There are other, more exotic things the Fed and, more important, the executive branch of the U.S. government could do to contain the crisis if the standard policies don’t work. But for a variety of reasons, not least the current administration’s record of incompetence, we’d really rather not go there.

Let’s hope, then, that this crisis blows over as quickly as that of 1998. But I wouldn’t count on it.


5) Getting the Rescue Right
NYT Editorial
August 10, 2007

Help has been way too slow in coming for the estimated 1.7 million people who will lose their homes to foreclosure this year and next. A modest bill to bolster funds for state, local and nonprofit agencies that help hard-pressed homeowners renegotiate their mortgages and restructure their debts has been slogging through the Senate since April, and it won’t be passed until October at the earliest — if ever. On the presidential campaign trail, Senator Hillary Clinton recently promised to introduce a similar relief measure — next month.

There has been far less procrastinating, however, when it comes to offering help to investors, bankers and other lenders who are feeling squeezed as the mortgage mess restricts their access to easy money. Yesterday’s smackdown in the stock market — like others this year tied to mortgage woes — will likely only intensify lawmakers’ desire to ride to the rescue of Wall Steet constituents.

Earlier this week, Senator Christopher Dodd, another Democratic presidential hopeful, and Senator Charles Schumer, called on federal regulators to ease restrictions so that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the quasi-government mortgage agencies — can buy more mortgages and mortgage-related securities from lenders. That would grease the now creaky mortgage-lending process with fresh capital. The White House is considering their proposal.

What is absolutely crucial, however, is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be required to use that enhanced capacity to help homeowners who are in distress.

That means buying only from lenders who commit to using their newfound capital to refinance loans for borrowers now facing default and foreclosure. Otherwise, easing the restrictions could end up doing a lot for lenders and investors and very little for Americans who are in the direst straits.

Many strapped borrowers stuck in subprime loans, with adjustable rates that reset sharply upward, could have qualified for higher quality loans to begin with. Instead they were steered into the subprime variety by brokers who earned bigger fees by making dodgier mortgages. Now that the lenders are suddenly in trouble and credit standards have been tightened, those borrowers cannot refinance into higher quality, more affordable loans. They clearly deserve help to keep their homes.

In other instances, borrowers who had weak credit a few years ago and so had no choice but to take out subprime loans, now have track records of good payments. They, too, should be allowed to refinance into loans that would let them keep their homes.

Policy makers must also acknowledge that even if the limitations are eased on Fannie and Freddie — and the freed-up credit is used to help responsible borrowers trapped in irresponsible loans — there will still be many more struggling homeowners who need help.

As a quid pro quo for freeing up capital via Fannie and Freddie, policy makers and regulators must pressure lenders to do more to restructure needy borrowers’ loans. Lenders could extend the low teaser rates that got marginal buyers into their now unaffordable loans, or raise those loan rates gradually rather than in one explosive surge.

And when lawmakers return to Washington in September, they must complete legislation to help states and localities provide the ever-increasing numbers of at-risk borrowers with assistance in modifying their loans. American homeowners need a hand now.


6) Projecting La Memoria in Southwest Colombia
by Peter Bearder, an independent journalist currently based in Bogotá.
July 30, 2007
From: Greg McDonald

It is Friday in Trujillo, Valle de Cauca and a collection of youths
are finishing a week’s work of repairs to the sculptures of their
Memorial Garden. More than 350 residents of this small town have been
assassinated or forcefully disappeared in a plague of paramilitary
and State violence. Two more disappeared the night before I arrived
in Trujillo. There are believed to be many more victims that have not
been reported due to fear of reprisals. One relative described it as
the “law of silence.” But the victims of Trujillo refuse to let the
memory die. Their hillside memorial shouts loudly across the town
below. The psychology behind it is as audacious as it is ambitious.

Trujillo lies in a mountainous drug trafficking corridor linking the
east of the country to the Pacific port of Buenaventura. According to
those I spoke to, there exist a powerful local “mafia” of
paramilitaries, narco-traffickers, landowners, and local political
and armed functionaries. It is common knowledge that the State is
working hand in glove with more illicit actors and there are many
accounts of the army brigade, based in neighboring Buga, entering the
town by jeep at night and rounding up victims.

Following the massacre carried out by the Colombian Army in 1990,
Trujillo became the first Colombian case to be brought before the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It is becoming increasingly
necessary to seek transnational paths to justice while the State
maintains a de facto policy of impunity. The much-hated Justice and
Peace Law offers knock down sentences, releases and special prisons
for paramilitary leaders in exchange for the appearance of
“demobilization.” Countless national and international bodies,
including Amnesty International, have condemned the process for not
meeting international standards on truth, justice, and reparation.

In Trujillo’s Memorial Garden, concrete sculptures depict the lives
and work of the town’s victims below a plaque containing their names.
Most of the artists are children or relatives of the dead. Many of
the tombs are empty—except for personal artifacts and gifts—as the
victims have either been “disappeared” or mutilated beyond
recognition. Ágata visits the memorial with her granddaughter to
honor her 18-year-old son who disappeared one evening in 1989 and his
body has never been found. Every night she wonders where he is. Ágata
is by no means alone in Colombia, a country that has seen 40,000
political assassinations and over 7,000 forced disappearances since

The late parish priest, Father Tiberio Fernández Mafla, is a heroic
and well-remembered figure in Trujillo. In his final Sunday service
he declared, “If my blood helps Trujillo to dawn and flower in peace,
I will gladly spill it.” Two days later he was found dead, beheaded
and chopped into pieces. Chainsaws are a favorite weapon of the
“paras.” Another family member told how one victim was made to drink
bleach. Methods of torture are brutal and designed to act as social

Towards the back of the garden stands the Seven Countries Wall, which
is part of a circle and links up with six other walls worldwide to
complete the circle. Inside this monument are seven boxes that once
contained artifacts from the respective countries. Paramilitaries
have shot out the glass windows and stolen the items. The mourners
see this as evidence that the Memorial Garden represents a threat to
their reign of terror.

Memorial coordinator Sister Maritze possesses an inspiring energy and
warmth. “We are fighting to keep the memory alive and fighting
against the impunity,” she states. In Colombia, this constitutes a
political act. Perhaps this explains why this short, gray haired
nun’s email communications have been repeatedly intercepted and
blocked, forcing her to change accounts on numerous occasions.

Frederico coordinates youth arts projects in Trujillo. I met him at
the opening of La Galería de Memoria Padre Tiberio Fernández Mafla
(The Gallery of Memory—named after the martyred priest of Trujillo).
Frederico was one of two survivors of a group of 11 who were
kidnapped and tortured. His hands bear the scars of being fed into a
coffee-processing machine. “But I go on living, and with greater
purpose and inspiration,” he says with a smile.

The Gallery is a space for the historical memory of crimes against
humanity in southwest Colombia and is sustained by victims and human
rights groups. Using artistic expression, testimonies and photos it
aims to fight against impunity and for social justice. The
psychological and emotional benefit of this is obvious. During the
opening ceremony one of the victims, while standing next to a photo
of her murdered father, gave a tearful thank you: “Spaces like this
are incredibly important for us so that the memory lives on. We
simply cannot carry on in the absence of justice without your

Trujillo’s Memorial Garden and Gallery of Memory reflect the type of
work being carried out by many Colombian human rights NGOs. These
organizations are not only recording such crimes for posterity, but
also in the hope of eventually achieving justice and ensuring that
they will not be repeated. This is the thinking behind the ambitious
multi-volume project Colombia Nunca Mas (Colombia Never Again). The
books chart the atrocities of the State and paramilitaries between
1965 and 2000 and frame them in their historical and social context.
Each 500 plus page volume covers a region that corresponds to a
brigade of the Colombian Army. The crimes of the insurgency are not
included because those compiling the data believe it is the job of
the State to investigate those, whereas the State isn’t always the
most effective institution for investigating State terror.

The aspirations of these brave individuals do not stop with la
memoria or even la justicia. They are also demanding integral
reparation: psychosocial, political, organizational, economic,
environmental and cultural. The National Movement of Victims of State
Crimes believes that reparation should reflect the completeness of
the harm suffered by the victim. One the one hand, it should
understand the need of individuals for indemnification and re-
adaptation. And on the other, it should assure more general measures
of reparation such as satisfactory guarantees that the atrocities
will not be repeated.

Symbolic and artistic edifications of memory like Trujillo’s Memorial
Garden and the Gallery of Memory amount to a potent dynamic of
resistance. Far from being negative and backward looking they are
essentially positive and based on concepts of solidarity and hope. By
refusing to forget, the victims of southwest Colombia are bravely
projecting their right to truth, justice and reparation, not just for
themselves, but for all those who have died and those who have still
to live.


7) The Need to Know
NYT Editorial
August 11, 2007

Like many in this country who were angered when Congress rushed to rubber-stamp a bill giving President Bush even more power to spy on Americans, we took some hope from the vow by Congressional Democrats to rewrite the new law after summer vacation. The chance of undoing the damage is slim, unless the White House stops stonewalling and gives lawmakers and the public the information they need to understand this vital issue.

Just before rushing off to their vacations, and campaign fund-raising, both houses tried to fix an anachronism in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get a warrant to eavesdrop on conversations and e-mail messages if one of the people communicating is inside the United States. The court that enforces the law concluded recently that warrants also are required to intercept messages if the people are outside the United States, but their communications are routed through data exchanges here.

The House and Senate had sensible bills trying to fix that Internet-age problem, which did not exist in 1978. But that wasn’t enough for Mr. Bush and his aides, who whipped up their usual brew of fear to kill off those bills. Then they cowed the Democrats into passing a bill giving Mr. Bush powers that go beyond even the illegal wiretapping he has been doing since the 9/11 attacks.

The new measure eviscerates the protections of FISA, allowing the attorney general to decide when to eavesdrop — without a warrant — on any telephone call or e-mail message, so long as one of the people communicating is “reasonably believed” to be outside the country. The courts have no real power over such operations.

The only encouraging notes were that the new law has a six-month expiration date, and that leaders of both houses of Congress said they would start revising it immediately. But there’s a big catch: most lawmakers have no idea what eavesdropping is already going on or what Mr. Bush’s justification was in the first place for ignoring the law and ordering warrantless spying after 9/11.

The administration has refused to say how much warrantless spying it has been doing. Clearly, it is more than Mr. Bush has acknowledged, but Americans need to know exactly how far their liberties have been breached and whether the operation included purely domestic eavesdropping. And why did Mr. Bush feel compelled to construct an outlaw eavesdropping operation — apart, that is, from his broader effort to expand presidential power and evade checks and balances?

It’s not that FISA makes it too hard; the court approves virtually every warrant request. It’s not an issue of speed. The law allows the government to initiate surveillance and get a warrant later if necessary.

Instead of answering these questions, the administration has done its best to ensure that everyone stays confused. It has refused repeated requests by Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for documents relating to the president’s order creating the spying program, and the Justice Department’s legal justifications for it.

When this issue resurfaces, Mr. Bush will undoubtedly claim executive privilege, as he has done whenever he has been asked to come clean with Americans about his decision-making. But those documents should be handed over without delay for review by all members of Congress. We also agree with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has petitioned the FISA court, which normally works in secret, to make public its opinion on the scope of the government’s wiretapping powers.

If Mr. Bush wants Americans to give him and his successors the power to spy on them at will, Americans should be allowed to know why it’s supposedly so necessary and how much their freedoms are being abridged. If Congress once again allows itself to be cowed by Mr. Bush’s fear-mongering, it must accept responsibility for undermining the democratic values that separate this nation from the terrorists that Mr. Bush claims to be fighting.


8) Democrats Say Leaving Iraq May Take Years
August 12, 2007

DES MOINES, Aug. 11 — Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years.

John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the country to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.

These positions and those of some rivals suggest that the Democratic bumper-sticker message of a quick end to the conflict — however much it appeals to primary voters — oversimplifies the problems likely to be inherited by the next commander in chief. Antiwar advocates have raised little challenge to such positions by Democrats.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico stands apart, having suggested that he would even leave some military equipment behind to expedite the troop withdrawal. In a forum at a gathering of bloggers last week, he declared: “I have a one-point plan to get out of Iraq: Get out! Get out!”

On the other side of the spectrum is Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who has proposed setting up separate regions for the three major ethnic and religious groups in Iraq until a stable central government is established before removing most American troops.

Still, many Democrats are increasingly taking the position, in televised debates and in sessions with voters across the country, that ending a war can be as complicated as starting one.

“We’ve got to be prepared to control a civil war if it starts to spill outside the borders of Iraq,” Mr. Edwards, who has run hard against the war, said at a Democratic debate in Chicago this week. “And we have to be prepared for the worst possibility that you never hear anyone talking about, which is the possibility that genocide breaks out and the Shi’a try to systematically eliminate the Sunni. As president of the United States, I would plan and prepare for all those possibilities.”

Most of the Democratic candidates mention the significant military and logistical difficulties in bringing out American troops, which even optimistic experts say would take at least a year. The candidates are not only trying to retain flexibility for themselves in the event they become president, aides said, but are also hoping to tamp down any expectation that the war would abruptly end if they were elected. Most have not proposed specific troop levels or particular rules of engagement for a continued presence in Iraq, saying the conditions more than a year from now remain too uncertain.

In political terms, their strategies are a balancing act. In her public appearances, Mrs. Clinton often says, “If this president does not end this war before he leaves office, when I am president, I will.” But she has affirmed in recent months remarks she made to The New York Times in March, when she said that there were “remaining vital national security interests in Iraq” that would require a continuing deployment of American troops. The United States’ security, she said then, would be undermined if part of Iraq turned into a failed state” that serves as a Petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda.”

So while the senators’ views expressed on the campaign trail do not conflict with their votes in Congress, particularly to set a deadline for withdrawal, they are grappling as candidates with the possibility of a sustained military presence in Iraq, addressing questions about America’s responsibility to Iraqi civilians as well as guarding against the terrorism threat in the region.

Among the challenges the next president could face in Iraq, three seem to be resonating the most: What to do if there is a genocide? What to do if chaos in Iraq threatens to engulf the region in a wider war? And what to do if Iraq descends into further lawlessness and becomes the staging ground for terrorist attacks elsewhere, including in the United States?

“While the overwhelming majority of Americans want to bring the troops home, the question is what is the plan beyond that?” said Gov. Chet Culver of Iowa, a Democrat. “The first candidate running for president, I think on either side, who can best articulate that will win.”

Four years after the last presidential race featured early signs of war protest, particularly in the candidacy of Howard Dean, a new phase of the debate seems to be unfolding, with antiwar groups giving the Democrats latitude to take positions short of a full and immediate withdrawal. Neither nor its affiliated group, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, have sought to press Democrats here in Iowa to suggest anything short of ending the war immediately.

“Of course we would like to get them out right now. That sounds wonderful,” said Sue Dinsdale, who leads the Iowa chapter of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and has seen nearly all of the Democratic candidates. “I don’t think that people realize what their specific plans are and what they are saying about it, but just that they are working to end the war.”

The leading Republican candidates have largely chosen not to wrestle publicly with Iraq policy questions, instead deferring to President Bush and waiting until Gen. David H. Petraeus delivers a progress report next month on the troop buildup this year.

While the Democrats talk exhaustively about Iraq, a review of the remarks they have made during campaign stops over the last six months leaves little ambiguity in their message: If the president refuses to end the war, they will.

To accomplish that goal, they all discuss a mix of vigorous diplomacy in the region, intensified pressure on the Iraqi government and a phased withdrawal of troops to begin as soon as possible. But their statements in campaign settings are often silent on the problems of how to disengage and what tradeoffs might be necessary.

“It is time to bring our troops home because it has made us less safe,” Mr. Obama said to a throng of supporters, cheering wildly despite the pouring rain, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire last month.

Mrs. Clinton has been equally vocal in making “bringing the troops home” a central theme. In February, she said her message to the Iraqi government would be simple: “I would say ‘I’m sorry, it’s over. We are not going to baby-sit a civil war.’ ”

Both candidates, in interviews or debates, have said that they would not support intervening in a genocidal war should the majority Shiites slaughter Sunnis — and Sunnis retaliate — on a much greater scale than now takes place.

Mr. Edwards, who has suggested that he would intervene in a genocide, has tried to position himself as the more forceful antiwar candidate by criticizing both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama for not pushing hard enough in the Senate to bring the troops home.

“There are differences between us,” Mr. Edwards said in a June debate. “I think there is a difference between making very clear when the crucial moment comes, on Congress ending this war, what your position is and standing quiet.”

Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut has called for the United States military to “begin redeploying immediately.” In a debate this week in Chicago, he said: “We can do so with two and a half divisions coming out each month, done safely and reasonably well.”

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq has created its “Iraq Summer” campaign to persuade members of Congress to support legislation changing course in Iraq. While the group is focusing on Republicans across the country, including deploying a blimp to fly above the Iowa straw poll on Saturday, it has not weighed in on the Democratic side of the presidential race and the fact that several Democratic candidates call for an extended but limited military commitment in Iraq. “We are in a good position when leaders are debating the best way to bring our troops home,” said Moira Mack, a group spokeswoman, “rather than whether or not to bring them home.”

Marc Santora contributed reporting from New York.


9) A Segregated Road in an Already Divided Land
August 11, 2007

JERUSALEM, Aug. 10 — Israel is constructing a road through the West Bank, east of Jerusalem, that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to travel along it — separately.

There are two pairs of lanes, one for each tribe, separated by a tall wall of concrete patterned to look like Jerusalem stones, an effort at beautification indicating that the road is meant to be permanent. The Israeli side has various exits; the Palestinian side has few.

The point of the road, according to those who planned it under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is to permit Israel to build more settlements around East Jerusalem, cutting the city off from the West Bank, but allowing Palestinians to travel unimpeded north and south through Israeli-held land.

“The Americans demanded from Sharon contiguity for a Palestinian state,” said Shaul Arieli, a reserve colonel in the army who participated in the 2000 Camp David negotiations and specializes in maps. “This road was Sharon’s answer, to build a road for Palestinians between Ramallah and Bethlehem but not to Jerusalem. This was how to connect the West Bank while keeping Jerusalem united and not giving Palestinians any blanket permission to enter East Jerusalem.”

Mr. Sharon talked of “transportational contiguity” for Palestinians in a future Palestinian state, meaning that although Israeli settlements would jut into the area, Palestinian cars on the road would pass unimpeded through Israeli-controlled territory and even cross through areas enclosed by the Israeli separation barrier.

The vast majority of Palestinians, unlike Israeli settlers, will not be able to exit in areas surrounded by the barrier or travel into Jerusalem, even into the eastern part of the city, which Israel took over in 1967.

The road does that by having Palestinian traffic continue through underpasses and over bridges, while Israeli traffic will have interchanges allowing turns onto access roads. Palestinians with Israeli identity cards or special permits for Jerusalem will be able to use the Israeli side of the road.

The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has recently made conciliatory gestures to the Palestinians and says it wants to do what it can to ease the creation of a Palestinian state. But Mr. Olmert, like Mr. Sharon, has said that Israel intends to keep the land to the east of Jerusalem.

To Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer who advises an Israeli advocacy group called Ir Amim, which works for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in Jerusalem, the road suggests an ominous map of the future. It is one in which Israel keeps nearly all of East Jerusalem and a ring of Israeli settlements surrounding it, providing a cordon of Israelis between largely Arab East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, which will become part of a future Palestinian state.

In a final settlement, Israel is expected to offer the Palestinians land swaps elsewhere to compensate.

The road will allow Israeli settlers living in the north, near Ramallah, to move quickly into Jerusalem, protected from the Palestinians who surround them. It also helps ensure that the large settlement of Maale Adumim — a suburb of 32,000 people east of Jerusalem, where most of its residents work — will remain under Israeli control, along with the currently empty area of 4.6 square miles known as E1, between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem, which Israel also intends to keep.

For the Palestinians, the road will connect the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. In a future that may have fewer checkpoints, they could travel directly from Ramallah north of Jerusalem to Bethlehem south of it — but without being allowed to enter either Jerusalem or the Maale Adumim settlement bloc.

“To me, this road is a move to create borders, to change final status,” Mr. Seidemann said, referring to unresolved issues regarding borders, refugees and the fate of Jerusalem. “It’s to allow Maale Adumim and E1 into Jerusalem but be able to say, ‘See, we’re treating the Palestinians well — there’s geographical contiguity.’ ”

Measure it yourself, he said. “The Palestinian road is 16 meters wide,” or 52 feet, he added. “The Israeli theory of a contiguous Palestinian state is 16 meters wide.”

Khalil Tufakji, a prominent Palestinian geographer, says the road “is part of Sharon’s plan: two states in one state, so the Israelis and the Palestinians each have their own roads.” The Palestinians, Mr. Tufakji said, “will have no connection with the Israelis, but travel through tunnels and over bridges, while the Israelis will travel through Palestinian land without seeing an Arab.”

In the end, he said, “there is no Palestinian state, even though the Israelis speak of one.” Instead, he said, “there will be a settler state and a Palestinian built-up area, divided into three sectors, cut by fingers of Israeli settlement and connected only by narrow roads.”

Asked for comment, David Baker, an Israeli government spokesman, said: “The security arrangements on these roads are in place to protect the citizens of Israel. And they are not connected to any other matter.”

A spokesman for the Israeli military’s civil administration department pointed out that Palestinians with permits to enter Israel could use the Israeli side of the road, and that for ordinary Palestinians, the road will be a quicker, better route from north to south than any current route.

There are numerous roads that only Israelis and Israeli-permit holders can travel on, but none segregated like this one.

E1 has been a key battleground in the struggle over control of Jerusalem. Some, like Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel now running the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, argue that Israel should yield E1 to the Palestinians. “E1 is a critical issue in maintaining the territorial integrity and contiguity of the West Bank with East Jerusalem — it’s the only place where it’s possible to do that,” he said.

Israel has promised the United States that it will not build housing now in E1, freezing a plan to construct 3,500 homes. But Israel is completing a large, four-story police station on a commanding hill in E1, intended to be the main police headquarters for the West Bank, and it is laying down electrical and water lines for future development.

And it is building this road.

What is nearly finished now, awaiting the fixing of lights and the completing of tunnels and underpasses, stretches about 2.4 miles.

The road is currently open to the West Bank, but it cuts through the intended path of the Israeli separation barrier, which has not yet been built around E1 or Maale Adumim.

Presuming that the barrier will be completed, the road will be a kind of umbilical cord that cuts through Israeli-controlled and walled territory to connect the two parts of the West Bank.

“Now there’s a big gap in the barrier between Azzariya and Shuafat,” of about 2.4 to 3 miles, “and Israel hasn’t started to build the fence around Maale Adumim,” said Mr. Arieli, the reserve colonel. “But this road will be the answer if and when Israel builds the fence around Maale Adumim. You see that Israel is creating the conditions for the future. They try to take advantage of the current situation to prepare the infrastructure for the right time to start building E1.”

Mr. Seidemann believes that Mr. Olmert, facing many problems now, will not start building in E1, but that the leader of Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu, if he is elected prime minister, might do so. Mr. Netanyahu said in 2005 that he would build in E1 no matter what Washington thought.

Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the American Consulate in Jerusalem, repeated American policy that Palestinians should be allowed to travel more easily through the West Bank “consistent with the need to maintain security.” Asked if this road predetermines final status, she said, “The U.S. government has encouraged the parties to avoid any actions that would predetermine permanent status,” but said she was not authorized to comment more specifically.

Mr. Tufakji said he had become cynical about the way Israel builds for the future it defines, no matter what it promises Washington. He sees a West Bank divided into three parts by Israeli settlement blocs, the most important of which are Maale Adumim and E1, around the capital that both peoples claim as their own. “Israel is building the infrastructure to keep E1, to surround Jerusalem,” he said. “They are working to have an area of minimum Palestinians and maximum Israelis.”


10) Security Council Approves a Broader U.N. Mandate in Iraq to Seek Reconciliation
August 11, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 10 — The Security Council approved a resolution on Friday that broadened the United Nations mandate in Iraq to include efforts to promote national reconciliation, help settle border disputes, encourage internal dialogue and lay the groundwork for a national census.

Though not specifically mentioned in the text, the resolution also raises the allowable ceiling for United Nations international staff in Iraq significantly, to 95 members by the end of October from 65 currently.

“This updated mandate marks another important step along the road to increased support for Iraq, from the region and the international community,” said the United States ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, in a statement read after the vote. “In fulfilling the tasks set out in this resolution, U.N. staff in Iraq are making, have made and will make a vital contribution to Iraq’s future stability.”

Before the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003, which killed the chief United Nations envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others, there were an estimated 350 to 500 international staff members in Iraq, according to a spokesman. In the wake of the bombing and attacks on relief workers, Kofi Annan, then the secretary general, withdrew all personnel in October 2003.

When the United Nations returned to Iraq in 2004, the staff ceiling was set at 35 and has slowly risen since then. United Nations staff members in Baghdad currently number about 50.

Friday’s resolution, which passed unanimously, also places an increased emphasis on providing aid, protecting human rights and promoting the safety of civilians and relief workers in Iraq. Voting on the resolution, which was jointly sponsored by the United States and Britain, had been delayed for 24 hours to allow Iraq to make minor adjustments to the text. It extends the United Nations mandate for one year.

Since it was established in 2003, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has focused on providing electoral assistance, monitoring human rights and helping develop institutions for representative government.

Some Iraqi leaders greeted the resolution for the expanded mandate warily, as a potential encroachment on Iraqi sovereignty. Sadr Adeen al-Qubanchi, a senior leader with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, one of the major Shiite parties, said he welcomed the expanded United Nations role, but “with the condition that Iraqi autonomy is respected.”

“We are worried about this,” he said, speaking at Friday Prayer in Najaf. “We want the U.N. to support the Constitution and the elections. If not, they will undermine Iraq’s independence and leave Iraq at the mercy of other countries.”

Baghdad remained relatively calm on Friday, the third day of a curfew for a Shiite religious holiday. North of the capital, though, a car bomb exploded at a market in Kirkuk, killing at least seven people and wounding at least 49, the police said. Burhan Habeeb Tayyb, director of the Kirkuk police, said that four people were missing, likely buried in the rubble of a blast that destroyed 25 shops and charred at least 15 cars. “The explosion happened in the middle of the market, which was crowded with shoppers and vendors,” he said.

Officials in Diyala Province said they had found nine bodies in and around Khalis, the site of vicious battles recently between Sunni militants and local, mostly Shiite residents. Four of the dead belonged to the same family, according to security officials.

In Mosul, a suicide car bomber killed six Iraqi soldiers, security officials said. Gunmen kidnapped three policemen and executed them, according to the authorities, who also said they had found 11 bodies in the city. Seven of the victims were guards at a local power station who had been kidnapped from their posts on Thursday.

In the southern Baghdad area of Dora, a roadside bomb hit an American patrol, an Interior Ministry official said. It was unclear if there were casualties. At least six unidentified bodies were found throughout the city.

British military officials said two British soldiers were killed Wednesday, and two were wounded, when a roadside bomb exploded near a military convoy driving from Kuwait to Basra, the Shiite southern city that 5,500 British troops have been struggling to control.

The United Nations resolution was passed after a highly public declaration of opposition by the United Nations Staff Council, which represents more than 5,000 workers in New York and 18,000 more involved in peacekeeping and other operations worldwide.

On Tuesday the Staff Council ratified a statement urging Secretary General Ban Ki-moon not to deploy additional staff members to Iraq and to remove those currently serving there until the security situation improved.

The Staff Council concerns itself primarily with contracts and hiring and promotion practices, but has in the past addressed questions of security for the staff in Iraq.

Mr. Ban was present in the Security Council chamber for Friday’s vote. In a brief statement, he paid tribute to the United Nations staff members who died in Baghdad in 2003 and those who continue to serve. “As we move forward, their safety will be a paramount concern,” he said.

The new resolution authorizes the United Nations to “advise, support and assist the government and people of Iraq on advancing their inclusive, political dialogue and national reconciliation.”

The mission is also directed to help to “facilitate regional dialogue, including on issues of border security, energy and refugees,” and assist in “planning, funding and implementing reintegration programs for former members of illegal armed groups.”

Daniel B. Schneider reported from the United Nations, and Damien Cave from Baghdad.


11) To Curb Illegal Migration, Spain Offers a Legal Route
August 11, 2007

TORRIJOS, Spain, Aug. 7 — Fatou Faye was not the first person to head for Spain from her run-down corner of Dakar, the Senegalese capital. Half a dozen friends and relatives left before her, squeezing into wooden fishing boats and wagering their lives on the high seas for the chance of a future in Europe.

“Some succeeded,” Ms. Faye said flatly. “Some were sent back. Some drowned.”

But there was no dangerous sea voyage for Ms. Faye, a 32-year-old mother of two who came to Spain under circumstances that thousands of her compatriots can only dream of: on a plane, with a visa and a job that pays five times what she earned back home.

Ms. Faye is one of the first Senegalese workers to be hired under a Spanish labor plan that offers legal passage and a one-year work permit to some with the idea that by raising the possibility of reaching Spain legally, young Africans will be dissuaded from throwing themselves on the mercy of the Atlantic.

The program, promoted by the Spanish and Senegalese governments, aims to bring hundreds of workers to Spain this year with renewable one-year visas and jobs. Workers on one-year permits may have their contracts extended, at which point they have the right to bring over their immediate family. Ultimately, officials here say, the plan is to bring in thousands of immigrants through the program.

“I thought, ‘Thank God. I will be able to help my father and mother, my brothers and sisters,’ ” Ms. Faye said of the moment when she heard she had a job waiting for her at Acciona, a major Spanish building and cleaning company.

In January, she flew with 72 others to Spain, where Acciona helped her find the three-bedroom house she shares with four other Senegalese on the edge of this small industrial town. She now earns $960 a month after taxes, as part of a cleaning team at a ham processing factory.

As Europe struggles to cope with an unstinting flow of desperate migrants to its southern shores, Spain’s African initiative, a blend of carrots and sticks, has won praise for the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Several companies are in the process of hiring people in Dakar to come to work in Spain for a year, potentially more. Those companies include McDonald’s; Carrefour, a French retailer; and Vips, a Spanish convenience store chain.

“It’s advanced thinking in terms of migration policy,” Peter Sutherland, the United Nations special representative for migration, said in a telephone interview. “It’s trailblazing.”

Supporters of the program say they are under no illusion that it will fix Europe’s migration problem.

“When you measure the volume of people we can hire against the needs of their countries, it’s a drop in the ocean,” said Miguel Ángel García, head of human resources for Vips, which has hired 25 people from Senegal and is in the process of hiring 40 more. “But we just have to keep working, drop by drop.”

A surge in sub-Saharan migration last year to the Canary Islands, a Spanish possession that many Africans try to use as a gateway to Europe, prompted Spain to toughen its stance on immigration and, along with the rest of Europe, extend the cordon around its shores with international patrols.

This year, the number of arrivals has fallen steeply: about 6,000 migrants landed in the Canaries in the first seven months, compared to 13,000 in the same period of 2006. Spanish officials and emergency workers based in the Canaries attributed the decline to better maritime surveillance and cooperation from countries like Senegal, as well as rougher seas.

Mr. Zapatero’s immigration policy has not always drawn applause. Spain’s decision to legalize 600,000 immigrants in 2005 infuriated some European partners, who believe it encouraged a flood of migrants.

But as Europe closes its door to illegal immigrants, Spain is opening a small window of possibility. Labor Minister Jesús Caldera signed an agreement with Gambia on Wednesday to invest $1.3 million to train Gambians who could be recruited to work in Spain. In July, Spain signed similar agreements with Mali and Mauritania.

It is not just for humanitarian reasons that Spain is reaching out to African migrants. Rapid economic growth has forced companies to look abroad to cover a dearth of local labor. Thousands of migrants are hired from Eastern Europe, Morocco and Latin America each year to pick strawberries, wait tables and work in the country’s booming construction sector.

“There are parts of Spain where it’s impossible to find qualified workers,” said Juan Manuel Cruz, head of labor relations for Acciona. He said the group of Senegalese workers was “very well trained, with strong language skills” and had “a huge will to work.”

For Ms. Faye, the message behind the new Spanish labor program was clear. Senegal announced the plan after it agreed to take back hundreds of illegal Senegalese migrants from Spain in September.

When Ms. Faye boarded a Spanish government plane bound for Madrid in January, it had just returned a group of illegal Senegalese immigrants to Dakar. No migrant in Spain illegally in the past two years was considered for a job with Acciona.

“There need to be more contracts like this, more possibilities for young people to come here,” said Issa Faye, 30, no relation to Fatou. He was earning $130 a month driving a taxi in Dakar when he was recruited by Acciona to work in Torrijos, about 1,800 miles from his home.

Mr. Faye said that getting to Europe was a local obsession. He had made three unsuccessful attempts, once losing about $1,600 to an immigration agent.

“If a person has no alternative, he will board a fishing boat,” he said.

Spanish officials say the government approach to African migration squares with existing efforts to raise Spain’s profile in the region under a three-year Africa Plan unveiled in 2006. Spain has opened new embassies in Cape Verde, Mali, Niger, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, and has installed full-time diplomatic representatives in Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

“We want to completely change the parameters of Spain’s relationship with Africa,” Bernardino León Gross, secretary of state for foreign affairs, said in an interview.

Even though migration has risen to the top of the agenda, Mr. León said, Spain is trying to maintain a long view and deal with the factors that prompt migrants to leave home in the first place.

Mr. Sutherland of the United Nations said that Spain’s approach could serve as an example for Europe. “Immigration involves foreign affairs, health, economics, border affairs, all of those things,” he said. Immigration is “clearly a European problem, so the Spanish efforts have to be married into a European policy,” he said. “Europe doesn’t stop at the Pyrenees.”


12) Canada Announces Plans for 2 New Bases in Its Far North
August 11, 2007
[How the vultures are gathering to fight over the spoils of an ecosystem destroyed while planning its plunder and rape for profit and power…bw]

OTTAWA, Aug. 10 — In the latest of a series of claims over portions of the Arctic, Canada said Friday that it planned to build two new military bases in the far north to assert its sovereignty over the Northwest Passage.

The status of the shipping route, navigable only with the aid of icebreakers for a small part of the year, has been the source of a longstanding dispute that has pitted Canada against the United States and Russia.

Warming climate trends may reduce ice in the passage and make it a substantially shorter alternative to the Panama Canal for commercial shipping. The seabed under the route may also contain oil, gas and minerals that could be extracted if the ice cover diminishes.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been touring the Canadian Arctic for several days, said the military would convert a former mining site in Nanisivik, in the territory of Nunavut, into a deep-water port and ship refueling station. Existing government buildings in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, will be turned into an Arctic training center for the army, and the Canadian Rangers, mostly made up of Inuit volunteers, will be increased by 900 members and re-equipped.

“The first principle of Arctic sovereignty is use it or lose it,” Mr. Harper said in Resolute Bay. “Today’s announcements tell the world that Canada has a real, growing, long-term presence in the Arctic.”

The Canadian military now has only a very small presence in the far north, relying traditionally on training exercises in the spring and summer to assert its claim over the region. Many of those excursions involve the Rangers, who currently number about 4,100 and are equipped largely with little more than obsolete rifles.

Mr. Harper’s tour and announcements took place after a Russian mission planted a tiny flag in a titanium capsule on the seabed at the North Pole last week. While the effort was billed as a claim on the territory, it was seen as mostly symbolic.

Denmark is mapping an underwater ridge that extends from Greenland as a prelude to claiming the territory. But Russia and Canada also have designs on the ridge, which may be rich in minerals.

The new port will be located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, making it a point of potential contention with other nations.

Canada maintains that the passage is an inland waterway, giving it the right to control when or if any ship crosses it. Most other nations, including the United States, dispute that and argue that a right of international passage exists.

The United States and Russia have run ships through the passage without Canada’s permission to assert their position. However, Canada and the United States signed a treaty in 1988 that effectively prevents American crossings except for ships also carrying Canadian scientists.

James K. Foster, a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Ottawa, said Washington was concerned only about maintaining the right of international passage through the area. “The U.S. has no claims on minerals and land,” he said.

In the past, environmentalists have been among those encouraging greater control of the Arctic and the Northwest Passage in particular. The region’s ecosystem is particularly fragile and would be likely to suffer tremendous damage if, for example, an oil tanker sank or sprang a leak in the passage.


13) Farmers Call Crackdown on Illegal Workers Unfair
August 11, 2007

Facing the prospect of major layoffs of farmworkers during harvest season, growers and lawmakers from agricultural states spoke in dire terms yesterday about new measures by the Bush administration to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants.

“This is not just painful, this is death to the American farmer,” Maureen Torrey, who runs a family dairy and vegetable farm in Elba, N. Y., said in a telephone interview.

“We’ve tried everything we can do,” Ms. Torrey said. “But they are leaving us with no options.”

At a news conference in Washington yesterday, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and Carlos M. Gutierrez, the secretary of commerce, formally unveiled the measures, which had been disclosed in general terms earlier, to reinforce border security and drive illegal immigrants out of the labor force.

The new effort was cautiously welcomed yesterday by conservative Republicans who defied President Bush in June and opposed a broad immigration bill he supported that failed in the Senate. That bill included provisions to give legal status to illegal immigrants and to create a guest worker program for agriculture.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who turned against that bill, said the measures were “a long-overdue step to regaining the trust of the American people that the federal government is serious about securing our borders and enforcing our laws.”

Under the new rules, employers will have 90 days to resolve discrepancies between Social Security numbers provided by their workers and the records of the Social Security Administration.

If the employers cannot obtain valid Social Security information for an employee within three months after receiving a notice of any discrepancies, they must fire the worker. Illegal immigrants often present false Social Security numbers on job applications.

Fines levied on companies for knowingly hiring illegal workers — currently $2,200 for a first offense and up to $10,000 for repeat offenses — will increase by 25 percent, officials said.

Mr. Chertoff said the “real hammer” would be more frequent use by the immigration authorities of criminal felony charges against employers and illegal immigrant workers. He said the authorities had made 742 criminal arrests so far this year in illegal employment cases, compared with 716 such arrests in all of last year, which was a record.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who has worked closely with growers, described the new enforcement as a “catastrophe.”

“The crisis is that crops will not be harvested,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

Employers in low-wage industries were critical but guarded, reluctant to admit openly that they hire illegal immigrants. Randel K. Johnson, a vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, said the measures were “one more kick in the pants” for meat-packing, construction and health care companies that employ immigrant workers in unskilled jobs.

Farmers were less shy, saying at least 70 percent of farmworkers are illegal immigrants.

Ms. Torrey, the New York farmer, and other growers expressed their distress to White House and Homeland Security Department officials during a conference call with the National Council of Agricultural Employers, arranged by the administration to explain the new plan. Ms. Torrey warned that dairy cows would die from lack of milking if New York farmers had to fire immigrant dairy workers.

Luawanna Hallstrom, a tomato grower in Oceanside, Calif., who also participated in the conference call, called the measures “a train wreck.”

At the Washington news conference, Mr. Gutierrez said part of the new plan was to streamline the existing agricultural guest worker program, which he acknowledged was “not workable.” But growers said only 2 percent of farmworkers nationwide came from that program.

Mr. Chertoff suggested that employers should focus their ire on Congress for failing to pass the broader immigration measure. “We can be very sure that we let Congress understand the consequences of the choices that Congress makes,” he said.

To simplify slightly the burden on employers, Homeland Security Department officials will reduce the number of documents — currently 29 — that they can accept to verify that a job applicant is authorized to work. They also pledged to clean up an error-prone database that employers can use to check a job applicant’s immigration status, and said they would seek to add state driver’s license information to the data.

The administration proposed new rules, which should take effect in a few months, to require federal contractors and vendors to check their employees through the database.

To increase border security, beginning Jan. 31, 2008, all travelers entering the United States will be required to show passports or other secure documents.


14) Pressured School District Reverses, Allowing Play on Murder of Gay Student
August 11, 2007

OCEAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. Aug. 10 — After a week of public outcry over the school district’s decision to block Ocean Township High School’s drama club from performing “The Laramie Project,” Superintendent Thomas M. Pagano decided Thursday to let the play go on this fall.

“People disagreed with my posture,” Mr. Pagano said, referring to the district’s earlier decision against the show. “I got no feedback from anybody who said, ‘We understand your position.’ ”

Mr. Pagano said he was willing to bear the brunt of the controversy, despite the fact that it was the school’s principal, Julia Davidow, who first raised objections in May to the play, which focuses on the 1998 beating and murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming.

“I am responsible for the community, the children and the board of education being in this position; therefore I have a responsibility for getting them out of it,” the superintendent said after meeting late Thursday with the drama club coach, Bob Angelini. (Ms. Davidow, who is recovering from double knee surgery, was not at the meeting.)

The play will be presented as an assembly for the high school and will also be performed there on three evenings in the first week in November.

Elated by the superintendent’s reversal, Mr. Angelini said he hoped that there would “not be any ill feelings toward anyone” and that the community would “let the students have the opportunity to present this wonderful play in the name of Matthew Shepard.”

In a flurry of e-mail exchanges with the drama coach beginning in May, Mr. Pagano and Ms. Davidow said that the play’s explicit themes and sometimes strong language had the potential to cause “undue disturbance” for the school and the community. They declined the choice and told Mr. Angelini to select another play. After Mr. Angelini went public with the messages last week, gay rights advocates from across the state and the country took up the cause.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay advocacy organization based in Montclair, N.J., said 2,000 of the group’s members sent letters to school officials in the last week protesting the district’s original decision. The group was also planning to bus in up to 1,000 people to rally at a coming school board meeting.

“Had this school district not allowed this play to go forward, it would have sent a chilling effect to schools across the state and country about doing any plays with homosexual themes,” Mr. Goldstein said.

Mr. Pagano acknowledged that he received many e-mail messages, mostly from outside Ocean Township. “It had reached the point where the universe was focused on this community,” he said. “It was time to move on.”


15) Far From the Reservation, but Still Sacred?
Yuma, Ariz.
August 12, 2007

SQUINTING against the harsh desert sun, Mike Jackson, leader of the Quechan Indians, looks out past his tribe’s casino and the modern sprawl of Yuma and points to the sandy flatlands and the rust-colored Gila mountain range shimmering in the distance. “They came this way,” he says, describing how his ancestors followed the winding course of the Colorado River and ranged over hundreds of miles of what is now western Arizona and southeastern California. “There’s a lot of important history here, both for the Quechan and the U.S.”

And if it’s up to him, that history will go a long way in determining the future of this corner of the West, one of the fastest-growing parts of the country and a place where developers are increasingly running up against newly powerful but tradition-minded American Indian leaders like Mr. Jackson.

As president of the Quechans over the last decade, Mr. Jackson is leading a new kind of Indian war, this time in the courts. The battlegrounds are ancient sites like the religious circles, burial grounds and mountaintops across the West that Indians hold sacred and are protected by federal environmental and historic preservation laws. After successful smaller battles, Mr. Jackson is now challenging a bigger project, arguing that the construction of a planned $4 billion oil refinery in Arizona could destroy sites sacred to his tribe.

What makes this case different from more traditional fights between Indians and developers is that the refinery isn’t on the Quechan reservation or even next to it. In fact, the refinery is planned for a parcel of land some 40 miles to the east of the reservation, on the other side of Yuma and the Gila mountain range. But Mr. Jackson and the tribe’s lawyers argue that before the land can be transferred to the company building the refinery, Arizona Clean Fuels, or construction can start, an exhaustive archaeological and cultural inventory must take place.

The Quechans are not a large tribe. Also known as the Yuma Indians (they prefer the name Quechan, which means “those who descended”), they number about 3,300 and their reservation on the California-Arizona border covers roughly 70 square miles. That is a small fraction of the size of lands the federal government set aside more than a century ago to better-known nations like the Apaches or Navajos. Mr. Jackson has already stopped two planned projects — a low-level nuclear dump and a $50 million gold mine on the California side of the border — both also well away from the Quechan reservation. This year, he helped defeat the nomination of a Bush administration official who favored the mine to a federal appellate court.

LIKE the land itself, the fight over the refinery reflects a tangle of cultures and centuries of bitterness between Indians and newcomers. Mr. Jackson says it’s about respect for Quechan culture, and a new willingness on the part of Indians to stand up to the local establishment after centuries of not having a say. Business and political leaders in Yuma argue that it’s little more than a land grab by Mr. Jackson, a dubious attempt by the tribe to block much-needed development and assert claims to territory lost long ago.

What’s more, says Glenn McGinnis, chief executive of Arizona Clean Fuels, a preliminary inspection failed to turn up evidence of ruins near the site, which was privately owned for decades by local farmers but was later bought by the federal government to acquire water rights.

In any case, Mr. McGinnis says he’s committed to protecting any sacred remains that turn up once construction begins. But doing the more extensive survey sought by Mr. Jackson and the Quechans now would not only delay the project by months, it would also cost about $250,000, which Arizona Clean Fuels would be obligated to cover.

The dispute is about more than money, though. It has also brought resentment of the tribe’s newfound clout to the surface. David Treanor, vice president of Arizona Clean Fuels, calls the Quechans’ stance “psychological imperialism” and compares Mr. Jackson to Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s left-wing leader.

Casey Prochaska, chairwoman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, adds: “My grandmother probably went across here in a covered wagon. This country didn’t stop because they walked over this land.”

Indeed, the refinery isn’t even the main issue for some business leaders. “It’s a question of how far does their sphere of influence go,” says Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce. “Does it go clear to Phoenix? To Las Vegas? The whole West?”

Mr. Rosevear may be exaggerating, but his fear illustrates just what’s at stake. If the Quechans’ lawsuit succeeds, it would bolster the efforts of other, larger tribes to block development on territory where they also once lived and prayed.

ALREADY, in northern Arizona, Navajos, Hopis and other Indians have effectively stopped plans to expand a ski resort roughly 50 miles from the nearest reservation, after convincing a federal appellate panel in March that using wastewater to make artificial snow would desecrate peaks long held sacred.

Leaders of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, meanwhile, have been using similar arguments to block drilling for coal-bed methane near their reservation in Montana. Pumping water out of underground aquifers to extract natural gas will harm the spirits that inhabit the springs and streams where the Northern Cheyenne worship, says Gail Small, a Northern Cheyenne tribe member who heads Native Action, an environmental group she founded after graduating from law school.

Adding weight to her argument is the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, passed by Congress in 1978, which acknowledges the link between native American religion and land both on and off the reservation.

“You’re seeing a real renaissance of tribes becoming aware of their cultural resources and heritage, and reclaiming that heritage even when it’s off the reservation,” says Robert A. Williams Jr., a law professor at the University of Arizona who has advised tribes on the legal issues surrounding off-reservation sacred sites.

And, thanks to the rise of casino gambling on Indian reservations, many tribes now have the money to challenge natural resource companies, real estate interests and other wealthy players who have long held sway in the West.

“Tribes no longer have to hope for or rely upon the efforts of outside environmental groups or pro bono law firms,” says Joseph P. Kalt, director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. “Not only are they much more sophisticated, but they have the money to fight for themselves.”

Mr. Jackson doesn’t dispute that the opening of the popular Paradise Casino on his reservation in 1996 has shifted the balance of power in these parts. “It’s made all the difference in the world,” he says. “We didn’t have the money to hire attorneys before; we didn’t have the tools. We also learned how to play the political game in America that’s been played against us in the past.”

During the winter months, when snowbirds fill local hotels, it’s hard to find a spot in the Paradise Casino parking lot on some nights, and the casino generates an estimated $45 million a year in net revenue for the Quechans.

Mr. Jackson isn’t always against new development. The Quechans are considering building a second casino on the California side of the border, and he has faced protests of his own from tribal elders who argue that the $200 million project also happens to be on sacred ground. In June, the Quechan police force arrested tribe members protesting at the site of the new casino. Yuma officials like Ms. Prochaska call that hypocrisy, but Mr. Jackson says it’s not up to them to decide what is sacred to Indians and what’s not.

The son and grandson of tribal leaders, Mr. Jackson, who is 60, says that in the past, “the government gave us funds just to survive and they didn’t hear a word from our people.” Now, he says, local leaders like Mr. Rosevear have to come to him. “They come, smile, and shake my hand, but they don’t like it. Too bad. That is how the process is now.”

Glamis Gold, the Canadian mining company that sought to build the California mine, learned that the hard way several years ago. After investing $15 million, the company watched Mr. Jackson tie up the project with regulators. It was finally killed when Gray Davis, then the governor of California, issued an emergency order.

Charles A. Jeannes, an executive at Glamis at the time, says the company tried to negotiate with Mr. Jackson. “We’d told them we’d discuss any number of kinds of compensation,” says Mr. Jeannes, now executive vice president of Goldcorp, which acquired Glamis in 2006. “But we never got specific because they made it clear they wouldn’t accept the mine.”

Mr. Jackson has a slightly different recollection. “They came and offered money, trucks and other things,” he says. “I told them I’m not going to take one penny, and to get out of my office.”

In Quechan lore, dreams are sacred — they are a literal path to knowledge and power. So perhaps it’s fitting that the refinery has been a business dream in Arizona for two decades, a long-talked-about project that if completed, would be the first new refinery constructed in the United States in more than 30 years.

It’s also a vision that could prove hugely profitable. Refining margins in the Southwest are among the healthiest in the country, while gasoline demand in Arizona, Nevada and California has been growing at twice the national average. And until Mr. Jackson and the Quechans challenged their plans, the 1,400-acre site seemed like the rare spot in America where a refinery might actually be welcomed.

The last fruit orchard on the site died out decades ago, after the federal government acquired the land and bought up the water rights. The nearest homes are miles away. Now the silence is broken only by the sound of passing freight trains and the occasional rumble from the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground.

Earlier this year, the government transferred the land intended for the refinery to the local irrigation district, which in turn sold it to Arizona Clean Fuels for $15 million in March. It’s this transfer that the Quechans are challenging in their suit, arguing that procedures required under federal law to protect Indian sites were not followed properly.

Mr. McGinnis, a soft-spoken veteran refining executive who retains the accent of his native Toronto, says he is sensitive to the tribe’s worries. And unlike other officials, he shies away from criticizing Mr. Jackson or the Quechans.

“But there’s not a whole lot here,” he says, pointing to the furrowed ground and a few remaining tree stumps bleached white by the sun. “The probability of finding any relics is next to zero because the land has been disturbed and farmed for a long, long time. But we’ll bring in surveyors to walk the site, and I committed to that two years ago.”

Bringing in experts once the project is under way isn’t enough for Mr. Jackson. He says that he’s not against the refinery but merely wants experts to survey 100 percent of the land now, before any land transfer is approved by the courts. Still, it’s clear he’s not happy that the government is selling land to private buyers like Arizona Clean Fuels. “If they have no use for it, give it back to us,” he says of the federal government’s move. “We know how to protect it; it’s our ancestral land.”

FOR Arizona Clean Fuels and Mr. McGinnis, the Quechan lawsuit couldn’t have come at a worse time. After years of negotiations, the company renewed its state emissions permit last September. Now, Arizona Clean Fuels, which is owned by individual investors in the Western United States, is seeking an outside institutional backer with deep-enough pockets to put up the initial $1.5 billion to start construction and eventually borrow an additional $2.5 billion to finish the refinery by 2011.

Mr. McGinnis says he’s negotiating with two investor groups over that crucial $1.5 billion initial investment. But the lawsuit is a distraction for him, and a worry for any potential financial backer. “We spend half our time dealing with our attorneys on this when we should be dealing with other things,” he says.

The tribe’s effort to seek a preliminary injunction was rejected in federal district court in late June, but now the Quechans are appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, a traditionally liberal panel that has been sympathetic to Indian claims in the past, including the suit over the ski resort.

Both sides seem to be digging in, even though Mr. Jackson has never visited the refinery site, and Mr. McGinnis has never spoken directly to Mr. Jackson. “We’ve had many doors slammed in our face in the past,” says Mr. Jackson, sitting in the tribe’s council chambers on the reservation. “But that’s the old way. Today, my foot is in the door and I’m going to kick it wide open for my people.”

Mr. McGinnis avoids responding to that challenge. Because of the lawsuit, he says he hasn’t picked up the phone to call Mr. Jackson directly, but adds that “our attorneys have requested meetings and I’ll sit down with him anywhere and anytime he wants.”

That’s not likely to happen soon, and Mr. Jackson says he is willing to take the suit to the Supreme Court if necessary. As was the case with the gold mine, he doesn’t seem interested in a financial settlement with Arizona Clean Fuels but is focused on the land itself. “We’re a tenacious people,” he says, citing earlier fights of a different kind between the Quechans and the Spanish, the Mexicans and the United States cavalry. “We’re still here. The cavalry is gone.”


16) Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look
Filed at 7:32 p.m. ET
August 10, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush's new war adviser said Friday.

''I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,'' Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio's ''All Things Considered.''

''And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another,'' Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a ''major policy shift'' and Bush has made it clear that he doesn't think it's necessary.

''The president's position is that the all volunteer military meets the needs of the country and there is no discussion of a draft. General Lute made that point as well,'' National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

In the interview, Lute also said that ''Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well.''

Still, he said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military.

''There's both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families,'' he said. ''And ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.''

The military conducted a draft during the Civil War and both world wars and between 1948 and 1973. The Selective Service System, re-established in 1980, maintains a registry of 18-year-old men.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has called for reinstating the draft as a way to end the Iraq war.

Bush picked Lute in mid-May as a deputy national security adviser with responsibility for ensuring efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are coordinated with policymakers in Washington. Lute, an active-duty general, was chosen after several retired generals turned down the job.


17) World’s Best Medical Care?
NYT Editorial
August 12, 2007

Many Americans are under the delusion that we have “the best health care system in the world,” as President Bush sees it, or provide the “best medical care in the world,” as Rudolph Giuliani declared last week. That may be true at many top medical centers. But the disturbing truth is that this country lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely and effective care.

Michael Moore struck a nerve in his new documentary, “Sicko,” when he extolled the virtues of the government-run health care systems in France, England, Canada and even Cuba while deploring the failures of the largely private insurance system in this country. There is no question that Mr. Moore overstated his case by making foreign systems look almost flawless. But there is a growing body of evidence that, by an array of pertinent yardsticks, the United States is a laggard not a leader in providing good medical care.

Seven years ago, the World Health Organization made the first major effort to rank the health systems of 191 nations. France and Italy took the top two spots; the United States was a dismal 37th. More recently, the highly regarded Commonwealth Fund has pioneered in comparing the United States with other advanced nations through surveys of patients and doctors and analysis of other data. Its latest report, issued in May, ranked the United States last or next-to-last compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — on most measures of performance, including quality of care and access to it. Other comparative studies also put the United States in a relatively bad light.

Insurance coverage. All other major industrialized nations provide universal health coverage, and most of them have comprehensive benefit packages with no cost-sharing by the patients. The United States, to its shame, has some 45 million people without health insurance and many more millions who have poor coverage. Although the president has blithely said that these people can always get treatment in an emergency room, many studies have shown that people without insurance postpone treatment until a minor illness becomes worse, harming their own health and imposing greater costs.

Access. Citizens abroad often face long waits before they can get to see a specialist or undergo elective surgery. Americans typically get prompter attention, although Germany does better. The real barriers here are the costs facing low-income people without insurance or with skimpy coverage. But even Americans with above-average incomes find it more difficult than their counterparts abroad to get care on nights or weekends without going to an emergency room, and many report having to wait six days or more for an appointment with their own doctors.

Fairness. The United States ranks dead last on almost all measures of equity because we have the greatest disparity in the quality of care given to richer and poorer citizens. Americans with below-average incomes are much less likely than their counterparts in other industrialized nations to see a doctor when sick, to fill prescriptions or to get needed tests and follow-up care.

Healthy lives. We have known for years that America has a high infant mortality rate, so it is no surprise that we rank last among 23 nations by that yardstick. But the problem is much broader. We rank near the bottom in healthy life expectancy at age 60, and 15th among 19 countries in deaths from a wide range of illnesses that would not have been fatal if treated with timely and effective care. The good news is that we have done a better job than other industrialized nations in reducing smoking. The bad news is that our obesity epidemic is the worst in the world.

Quality. In a comparison with five other countries, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States first in providing the “right care” for a given condition as defined by standard clinical guidelines and gave it especially high marks for preventive care, like Pap smears and mammograms to detect early-stage cancers, and blood tests and cholesterol checks for hypertensive patients. But we scored poorly in coordinating the care of chronically ill patients, in protecting the safety of patients, and in meeting their needs and preferences, which drove our overall quality rating down to last place. American doctors and hospitals kill patients through surgical and medical mistakes more often than their counterparts in other industrialized nations.

Life and death. In a comparison of five countries, the United States had the best survival rate for breast cancer, second best for cervical cancer and childhood leukemia, worst for kidney transplants, and almost-worst for liver transplants and colorectal cancer. In an eight-country comparison, the United States ranked last in years of potential life lost to circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes and had the second highest death rate from bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. Although several factors can affect these results, it seems likely that the quality of care delivered was a significant contributor.

Patient satisfaction. Despite the declarations of their political leaders, many Americans hold surprisingly negative views of their health care system. Polls in Europe and North America seven to nine years ago found that only 40 percent of Americans were satisfied with the nation’s health care system, placing us 14th out of 17 countries. In recent Commonwealth Fund surveys of five countries, American attitudes stand out as the most negative, with a third of the adults surveyed calling for rebuilding the entire system, compared with only 13 percent who feel that way in Britain and 14 percent in Canada.

That may be because Americans face higher out-of-pocket costs than citizens elsewhere, are less apt to have a long-term doctor, less able to see a doctor on the same day when sick, and less apt to get their questions answered or receive clear instructions from a doctor. On the other hand, Gallup polls in recent years have shown that three-quarters of the respondents in the United States, in Canada and in Britain rate their personal care as excellent or good, so it could be hard to motivate these people for the wholesale change sought by the disaffected.

Use of information technology. Shockingly, despite our vaunted prowess in computers, software and the Internet, much of our health care system is still operating in the dark ages of paper records and handwritten scrawls. American primary care doctors lag years behind doctors in other advanced nations in adopting electronic medical records or prescribing medications electronically. This makes it harder to coordinate care, spot errors and adhere to standard clinical guidelines.

Top-of-the-line care. Despite our poor showing in many international comparisons, it is doubtful that many Americans, faced with a life-threatening illness, would rather be treated elsewhere. We tend to think that our very best medical centers are the best in the world. But whether this is a realistic assessment or merely a cultural preference for the home team is difficult to say. Only when better measures of clinical excellence are developed will discerning medical shoppers know for sure who is the best of the best.

With health care emerging as a major issue in the presidential campaign and in Congress, it will be important to get beyond empty boasts that this country has “the best health care system in the world” and turn instead to fixing its very real defects. The main goal should be to reduce the huge number of uninsured, who are a major reason for our poor standing globally. But there is also plenty of room to improve our coordination of care, our use of computerized records, communications between doctors and patients, and dozens of other factors that impair the quality of care. The world’s most powerful economy should be able to provide a health care system that really is the best.


18) Losing the Advantage
How the ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Went Bad
August 12, 2007

Two years after the Taliban fell to an American-led coalition, a group of NATO ambassadors landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, to survey what appeared to be a triumph — a fresh start for a country ripped apart by years of war with the Soviets and brutal repression by religious extremists.

With a senior American diplomat, R. Nicholas Burns, leading the way, they thundered around the country in Black Hawk helicopters, with little fear for their safety. They strolled quiet streets in Kandahar and sipped tea with tribal leaders. At a briefing from the United States Central Command, they were told that the Taliban were now a “spent force.”

“Some of us were saying, ‘Not so fast,’ ” Mr. Burns, now the under secretary of state for political affairs, recalled. “While not a strategic threat, a number of us assumed that the Taliban was too enmeshed in Afghan society to just disappear.”

But that skepticism had never taken hold in Washington. Since the 2001 war, American intelligence agencies had reported that the Taliban were so decimated they no longer posed a threat, according to two senior intelligence officials who reviewed the reports.

The American sense of victory had been so robust that the top C.I.A. specialists and elite Special Forces units who had helped liberate Afghanistan had long since moved on to the next war, in Iraq.

Those sweeping miscalculations were part of a pattern of assessments and decisions that helped send what many in the American military call “the good war” off course.

Like Osama bin Laden and his deputies, the Taliban had found refuge in Pakistan and regrouped as the American focus wavered. Taliban fighters seeped back over the border, driving up the suicide attacks and roadside bombings by as much as 25 percent this spring, and forcing NATO and American troops into battles to retake previously liberated villages in southern Afghanistan.

They have scored some successes recently, and since the 2001 invasion, there have been improvements in health care, education and the economy, as well as the quality of life in the cities. But Afghanistan’s embattled president, Hamid Karzai, said in Washington last week that security in his country had “definitely deteriorated.” One former national security official called that “a very diplomatic understatement.”

President Bush’s critics have long contended that the Iraq war has diminished America’s effort in Afghanistan, which the administration has denied, but an examination of how the policy unfolded within the administration reveals a deep divide over how to proceed in Afghanistan and a series of decisions that at times seemed to relegate it to an afterthought as Iraq unraveled.

Statements from the White House, including from the president, in support of Afghanistan were resolute, but behind them was a halting, sometimes reluctant commitment to solving Afghanistan’s myriad problems, according to dozens of interviews in the United States, at NATO headquarters in Brussels and in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

At critical moments in the fight for Afghanistan, the Bush administration diverted scarce intelligence and reconstruction resources to Iraq, including elite C.I.A. teams and Special Forces units involved in the search for terrorists. As sophisticated Predator spy planes rolled off assembly lines in the United States, they were shipped to Iraq, undercutting the search for Taliban and terrorist leaders, according to senior military and intelligence officials.

As defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld claimed credit for toppling the Taliban with light, fast forces. But in a move that foreshadowed America’s trouble in Iraq, he failed to anticipate the need for more forces after the old government was gone, and blocked an early proposal from Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, and Mr. Karzai, the administration’s handpicked president, for a large international force. As the situation deteriorated, Mr. Rumsfeld and other administration officials reversed course and cajoled European allies into sending troops.

When it came to reconstruction, big goals were announced, big projects identified. Yet in the year Mr. Bush promised a “Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan, the country received less assistance per capita than did postconflict Bosnia and Kosovo, or even desperately poor Haiti, according to a RAND Corporation study. Washington has spent an average of $3.4 billion a year reconstructing Afghanistan, less than half of what it has spent in Iraq, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The White House contends that the troop level in Afghanistan was increased when needed and that it now stands at 23,500. But a senior American commander said that even as the military force grew last year, he was surprised to discover that “I could count on the fingers of one or two hands the number of U.S. government agricultural experts” in Afghanistan, where 80 percent of the economy is agricultural. A $300 million project authorized by Congress for small businesses was never financed.

Underlying many of the decisions, officials say, was a misapprehension about what Americans would find on the ground in Afghanistan. “The perception was that Afghans hated foreigners and that the Iraqis would welcome us,” said James Dobbins, the administration’s former special envoy for Afghanistan. “The reverse turned out to be the case.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the administration’s policy, saying, “I don’t buy the argument that Afghanistan was starved of resources.” Yet she said: “I don’t think the U.S. government had what it needed for reconstructing a country. We did it ad hoc in the Balkans, and then in Afghanistan, and then in Iraq.”

In interviews, three former American ambassadors to Afghanistan were more critical of Washington’s record.

“I said from the get-go that we didn’t have enough money and we didn’t have enough soldiers,” said Robert P. Finn, who was the ambassador in 2002 and 2003. “I’m saying the same thing six years later.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, who was the next ambassador and is now the American ambassador to the United Nations, said, “I do think that state-building and nation-building, we came to that reluctantly,” adding that “I think more could have been done earlier on these issues.”

And Ronald E. Neumann, who replaced Mr. Khalilzad in Kabul, said, “The idea that we could just hunt terrorists and we didn’t have to do nation-building, and we could just leave it alone, that was a large mistake.”

A Big Promise, Unfulfilled

After months of arguing unsuccessfully for a far larger effort in Afghanistan, Mr. Dobbins received an unexpected call in April 2002. Mr. Bush, he was told, was planning to proclaim America’s commitment to rebuild Afghanistan.

“I got a call from the White House speech writers saying they were writing a speech and did I see any reason not to cite the Marshall Plan,” Mr. Dobbins recalled, referring to the American rebuilding of postwar Europe. “I said, ‘No, I saw no objections’, so they put it in the speech.”

On April 17, Mr. Bush traveled to the Virginia Military Institute, where Gen. George C. Marshall trained a century ago. “Marshall knew that our military victory against enemies in World War II had to be followed by a moral victory that resulted in better lives for individual human beings,” Mr. Bush said, calling Marshall’s work “a beacon to light the path that we, too, must follow.”

Mr. Bush had belittled “nation building” while campaigning for president 18 months earlier. But aware that Afghans had felt abandoned before, including by his father’s administration after the Soviets left in 1989, he vowed to avoid the syndrome of “initial success, followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure.

“We’re not going to repeat that mistake,” he said. “We’re tough, we’re determined, we’re relentless. We will stay until the mission is done.”

The speech, which received faint notice in the United States, fueled expectations in Afghanistan and bolstered Mr. Karzai’s stature before an Afghan grand council meeting in June 2002 at which Mr. Karzai was formally chosen to lead the government.

Yet privately, some senior officials, including Mr. Rumsfeld, were concerned that Afghanistan was a morass where the United States could achieve little, according to administration officials involved in the debate.

Within hours of the president’s speech, Mr. Rumsfeld announced his own approach at a Pentagon news conference.

“The last thing you’re going to hear from this podium is someone thinking they know how Afghanistan ought to organize itself,” he said. “They’re going to have to figure it out. They’re going to have to grab ahold of that thing and do something. And we’re there to help.”

But the help was slow in coming. Despite Mr. Bush’s promise in Virginia, in the months that followed his April speech, no detailed reconstruction plan emerged from the administration. Some senior administration officials lay the blame on the National Security Council, which is charged with making sure the president’s foreign policy is carried out.

The stagnation reflected tension within the administration over how large a role the United States should play in stabilizing a country after toppling its government, former officials say.

After the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, Mr. Powell and Ms. Rice, then the national security adviser, argued in confidential sessions that if the United States now lost Afghanistan, America’s image would be damaged, officials said. In a February 2002 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Mr. Powell proposed that American troops join the small international peacekeeping force patrolling Kabul and help Mr. Karzai extend his influence beyond the capital.

Mr. Powell said in an interview that his model was the 1989 invasion of Panama, where American troops spread out across the country after ousting the Noriega government. “The strategy has to be to take charge of the whole country by military force, police or other means,” he said.

Richard N. Haass, a former director of policy planning at the State Department, said informal talks with European officials had led him to believe that a force of 20,000 to 40,000 peacekeepers could be recruited, half from Europe, half from the United States.

But Mr. Rumsfeld contended that European countries were unwilling to contribute more troops, said Douglas J. Feith, then the Pentagon’s under secretary for policy. He said Mr. Rumsfeld felt that sending American troops would reduce pressure on Europeans to contribute, and could provoke Afghans’ historic resistance to invaders and divert American forces from hunting terrorists. Mr. Rumsfeld declined to comment.

Some officials said they also feared confusion if European forces viewed the task as peacekeeping while the American military saw its job as fighting terrorists. Ms. Rice, despite having argued for fully backing the new Karzai government, took a middle position, leaving the issue unresolved. “I felt that we needed more forces, but there was a real problem, which you continue to see to this day, with the dual role,” she said.

Ultimately, Mr. Powell’s proposal died. “The president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the national security staff, all of them were skeptical of an ambitious project in Afghanistan,” Mr. Haass said. “I didn’t see support.”

Mr. Dobbins, the former special envoy, said Mr. Powell “seemed resigned.”

“I said this wasn’t going to be fully satisfactory,” he recalled. “And he said, ‘Well, it’s the best we could do.’ ”

In the end, the United States deployed 8,000 troops to Afghanistan in 2002, with orders to hunt Taliban and Qaeda members, and not to engage in peacekeeping or reconstruction. The 4,000-member international peacekeeping force did not venture beyond Kabul.

As an alternative, officials hatched a loosely organized plan for Afghans to secure the country themselves. The United States would train a 70,000-member army. Japan would disarm some 100,000 militia fighters. Britain would mount an antinarcotics program. Italy would carry out changes in the judiciary. And Germany would train a 62,000-member police force.

But that meant no one was in overall command, officials now say. Many holes emerged in the American effort.

There were so few State Department or Pentagon civil affairs officials that 13 teams of C.I.A. operatives, whose main job was to hunt terrorists and the Taliban, were asked to stay in remote corners of Afghanistan to coordinate political efforts, said John E. McLaughlin, who was deputy director and then acting director of the agency. “It took us quite awhile to get them regrouped in the southeast for counterterrorism,” he said of the C.I.A. teams.

Sixteen months after the president’s 2002 speech, the United States Agency for International Development, the government’s main foreign development arm, had seven full-time staffers and 35 full-time contract staff members in Afghanistan, most of them Afghans, according to a government audit. Sixty-one agency positions were vacant.

“It was state-building on the cheap, it was a duct tape approach,” recalled Said T. Jawad, Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff at the time and Afghanistan’s current ambassador to Washington. “It was fixing things that were broken, not a strategic approach.”

A Shift of Resources to Iraq

In October 2002, Robert Grenier, a former director of the C.I.A.’s counterintelligence center, visited the new Kuwait City headquarters of Lt. Gen David McKiernan, who was already planning the Iraq invasion. Meeting in a sheet metal warehouse, Mr. Grenier asked General McKiernan what his intelligence needs would be in Iraq. The answer was simple. “They wanted as much as they could get,” Mr. Grenier said.

Throughout late 2002 and early 2003, Mr. Grenier said in an interview, “the best experienced, most qualified people who we had been using in Afghanistan shifted over to Iraq,” including the agency’s most skilled counterterrorism specialists and Middle East and paramilitary operatives.

That reduced the United States’ influence over powerful Afghan warlords who were refusing to turn over to the central government tens of millions of dollars they had collected as customs payments at border crossings.

While the C.I.A. replaced officers shifted to Iraq, Mr. Grenier said, it did so with younger agents, who lacked the knowledge and influence of the veterans. “I think we could have done a lot more on the Afghan side if we had more experienced folks,” he said.

A former senior official of the Pentagon’s Central Command, which was running both wars, said that as the Iraq planning sped up, the military’s covert Special Mission Units, like Delta Force and Navy Seals Team Six, shifted to Iraq from Afghanistan.

So did aerial surveillance “platforms” like the Predator, a remotely piloted spy plane armed with Hellfire missiles that had been effective at identifying targets in the mountains of Afghanistan. Predators were not shifted directly from Afghanistan to Iraq, according to the former official, but as new Predators were produced, they went to Iraq.

“We were economizing in Afghanistan,” said the former official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. “The marginal return for one more platform in Afghanistan is so much greater than for one more in Iraq.”

The shift in priorities became apparent to Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon’s former comptroller, as planning for the Iraq war was in high gear in the fall of 2002. Mr. Rumsfeld asked him to serve as the Pentagon’s reconstruction coordinator in Afghanistan. It was an odd role for the comptroller, whose primary task is managing the Pentagon’s $400 billion a year budget.

“The fact that they went to the comptroller to do something like that was in part a function of their growing preoccupation with Iraq,” said Mr. Zakheim, who left the administration in 2004. “They needed somebody, given that the top tier was covering Iraq.”

In an interview, President Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, insisted that there was no diversion of resources from Afghanistan, and he cited recently declassified statistics to show that troop levels in Afghanistan rose at crucial moments — like the 2004 Afghan election — even after the Iraq war began.

But the former Central Command official said: “If we were not in Iraq, we would have double or triple the number of Predators across Afghanistan, looking for Taliban and peering into the tribal areas. We’d have the ‘black’ Special Forces you most need to conduct precision operations. We’d have more C.I.A.”

“We’re simply in a world of limited resources, and those resources are in Iraq,” the former official added. “Anyone who tells you differently is blowing smoke.”

A Piecemeal Operation

As White House officials put together plans in the spring of 2003 for President Bush to land on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and declare the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the Pentagon decided to make a similar, if less dramatic, announcement for Afghanistan.

On May 1, hours before Mr. Bush stood beneath a “Mission Accomplished” banner, Mr. Rumsfeld appeared at a news conference with Mr. Karzai in Kabul’s threadbare 19th-century presidential palace. “We clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities,” he said. “The bulk of the country today is permissive, it’s secure.”

The Afghanistan announcement was largely lost in the spectacle of Mr. Bush’s speech. But the predictions of stability proved no less detached from events on the ground.

Three weeks later, Afghan government workers who had not been paid for months held street demonstrations in Kabul. An exasperated Mr. Karzai publicly threatened to resign and announced that his government had run out of money because warlords were hoarding the customs revenues. “There is no money in the government treasury,” Mr. Karzai said.

At the same time, the American-led training of a new Afghan Army was proving far more difficult than officials in Washington had expected. The new force, plagued by high desertion rates, had only 2,000 soldiers. The Germans’ effort to train police officers was off to an even slower start, and the British-led counternarcotics effort was dwarfed by an explosion in the poppy crop. Already, small groups of Taliban fighters had slipped back over the border from Pakistan and killed aid workers, stalling reconstruction in the south.

A senior White House official said in a recent interview that in retrospect, putting different countries in charge of different operations was a mistake. “We piecemealed it,” he said. “One of the problems is when everybody has a piece, everybody’s piece is made third and fourth priority. Nobody’s piece is first priority. Stuff didn’t get done.”

A month after his announcement in Kabul, Mr. Rumsfeld’s aides presented a strategy to the White House aimed at weakening warlords and engaging in state-building in Afghanistan. In some ways, it was the approach Mr. Rumsfeld had rejected right after the invasion.

Pentagon officials said that Mr. Rumsfeld’s views began to shift after a December 2002 briefing by Marin Strmecki, an Afghanistan expert at the Smith Richardson Foundation, who argued that Afghanistan was not ungovernable and that it could be turned into a moderate, Muslim force in the region.

Mr. Strmecki said that the United States needed to help Afghans create credible national institutions and that Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group and historically the Taliban’s base of support, needed a more prominent role in the government. Mr. Rumsfeld, according to aides, was impressed by Mr. Strmecki’s emphasis on training Afghans to run their own government and hired him.

Then another personnel change helped alter Afghanistan policy. Mr. Khalilzad, an Afghan-American who was a senior National Security Council official and a special envoy to Iraq exiles, was appointed ambassador to Afghanistan.

Mr. Khalilzad said he accepted the job after Mr. Bush promised to greatly expand resources in Afghanistan. “We had gotten the president to a significant increase,” Mr. Khalilzad recalled.

A leading neo-conservative, Mr. Khalilzad could get Ms. Rice or — if need be — Mr. Bush on the phone. He had been a counselor to Mr. Rumsfeld and had worked for Dick Cheney when Mr. Cheney was the first President Bush’s defense secretary. “Zal could get things done,” said Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, a former American military commander in Afghanistan.

When Mr. Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Thanksgiving 2003, he brought nearly $2 billion — twice the amount of the previous year — as well as a new military strategy and private experts to intensifying rebuilding.

They started a reconstruction plan dubbed “accelerating success” that involved the kind of nation-building once dismissed by the administration. General Barno expanded “Provincial Reconstruction Teams” to build schools, roads and wells and to win the “hearts and minds” of Afghans. The teams amounted to a much smaller version of the force that Mr. Powell had proposed 18 months earlier.

By January 2004, Afghanistan had reached a compromise on a new Afghan Constitution. With American backing, Mr. Karzai weakened several warlords. In October 2004, Mr. Karzai, who had been appointed president, was elected. At the same time, NATO countries steadily sent more troops to Afghanistan, and soon Mr. Rumsfeld, needing for troops for Iraq, proposed that NATO take over security for all of Afghanistan.

By spring 2005, Afghanistan seemed to be moving toward the success Mr. Bush had promised. But then, fearing that Iraq was spinning out of control, the White House asked Mr. Khalilzad to become ambassador to Baghdad.

A Lingering Threat

Before departing Afghanistan, Mr. Khalilzad fought a final battle within the administration. It revealed divisions within the American government over Pakistan’s role in aiding the Taliban, a delicate subject as the administration tried to coax Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to cooperate.

In an interview on Afghan television, Mr. Khalilzad noted that Pakistani journalists had recently interviewed a senior Taliban commander in Pakistan. He questioned Pakistan’s claim that it did not know the whereabouts of senior Taliban commanders — a form of skepticism discouraged in Washington, where the administration’s line had always been that General Musharraf was doing everything he could.

“If a TV station can get in touch with them, how can the intelligence service of a country, which has nuclear bombs, and a lot of security and military forces, not find them?” Mr. Khalilzad asked.

Pakistani officials publicly denounced Mr. Khalilzad’s comments and denied that they were harboring Taliban leaders. But Mr. Khalilzad had also exposed the growing rift between American officials in Kabul and those in Islamabad.

Mr. Grenier said that when he was the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad the issue of fugitive Taliban leaders was repeatedly raised with senior Pakistani intelligence officials in 2002. “The results were just not there,” he recalled. “And it was quite clear to me that it wasn’t just bad luck.”

Pakistani had backed the Taliban throughout the 1990s as a counterweight to an alliance of northern Afghan commanders backed by India, Pakistan’s bitter rival. Pakistani officials also distrusted Mr. Karzai.

Deciding that the Pakistanis would not act on the Taliban, Mr. Grenier said he had urged them to focus on arresting Qaeda members, who he said were far more of a threat to the United States.

“From our perspective at the time, the Taliban was a spent force,” he said, adding, “We were very much focused on Al Qaeda and didn’t want to distract the Pakistanis from that.”

But Mr. Khalilzad, American military officials and others in the administration argued that the Taliban were crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan and killing American troops and aid workers. “Colleagues in Washington at various levels did not recognize that there was the problem of sanctuary and that this was important,” Mr. Khalilzad said.

But it was not until 2006, after ordering a study on Afghanistan’s future, that Mr. Bush strenuously pressed General Musharraf on the Taliban. Later, Mr. Bush told his aides he worried that “old school ties” between Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban endured, despite the general’s assurances. The Pakistanis, one senior American commander said, were “hedging their bets.”

“They’re not sure that we are staying,” he added. “And if we are gone, the Taliban is their next best option” to remain influential in Afghanistan.

As 2005 ended, the Taliban leaders remained in hiding in Pakistan, waiting for an opportunity to cross the border. Soon, they would find one.

To Afghans, a Fickle Effort

In September 2005, NATO defense ministers gathered in Berlin to complete plans for NATO troops to take over security in Afghanistan’s volatile south. It was the most ambitious “out of area” operations in NATO history, and across Europe, leaders worried about getting support from their countries. Then, American military officials dropped a bombshell.

The Pentagon, they said, was considering withdrawing up to 3,000 troops from Afghanistan, roughly 20 percent of total American forces.

NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said he had protested to Mr. Rumsfeld that a partial American withdrawal would discourage others from sending troops.

In the end, the planned troop reduction was abandoned, but chiefly because the American ground commander at the time, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, concluded that the Taliban were returning and that he needed to shift troops to the east to try to stop them. But the announcement had sent a signal of a wavering American commitment.

“The Afghan people still doubt our staying power,” General Eikenberry said. “They have seen the world walk away from them before.”

To sell their new missions at home, British, Dutch and Canadian officials portrayed deployments to Afghanistan as safe, and better than sending troops to Iraq. Germany and Italy prevented their forces from being sent on combat missions in volatile areas. Those regions were to be left to the Americans, Canadians, British and Dutch.

Three months after announcing the proposed troop withdrawal, the White House Office of Management and Budget cut aid to Afghanistan by a third.

Ms. Rice said that much of the money allocated to Afghanistan the previous year had not been spent. “There was an absorption problem,” she said.

Mr. Neumann, then the ambassador, said he had argued against the decision.

Even so, American assistance to Afghanistan dropped by 38 percent, from $4.3 billion in fiscal 2005 to $3.1 billion in fiscal 2006, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.

By February 2006, Mr. Neumann had come to the conclusion that the Taliban were planning a spring offensive, and he sent a cable to his superiors.

“I had a feeling that the view was too rosy in Washington,” recalled Mr. Neumann, who retired from the State Department in June. “I was concerned.”

Mr. Neumann’s cable proved prophetic. In the spring of 2006, the Taliban carried out their largest offensive since 2001, attacking British, Canadian and Dutch troops in southern Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Taliban swarmed into the south, setting up checkpoints, assassinating officials and burning schools. Suicide bombings quintupled to 136. Roadside bombings doubled. All told, 191 American and NATO troops died in 2006, a 20 percent increase over the 2005 toll. For the first time, it became nearly as dangerous, statistically, to serve as an American in Afghanistan as in Iraq.

Mr. Neumann said that while suicide bombers came from Pakistan, most Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan were Afghans. Captured insurgents said they had taken up arms because a local governor favored a rival tribe, corrupt officials provided no services or their families needed money.

After cutting assistance in 2006, the United States plans to provide $9 billion in aid to Afghanistan in 2007, twice the amount of any year since 2001.

Despite warnings about the Taliban’s resurgence from Mr. Neumann, Mr. Khalilzad and military officials, Ms. Rice said, “there was no doubt that people were surprised that the Taliban was able to regroup and come back in a large, well-organized force.”

Divisions Over Strategy

In July 2006, NATO formally took responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan. To Americans and Europeans, NATO is the vaunted alliance that won the cold war. To Afghans it is little more than a strange, new acronym. And NATO and the Americans are divided over strategy.

The disagreement is evident on the wall of the office of Gen. Dan K. McNeill, the commander of the 35,000 NATO forces in Afghanistan, where he keeps a chart that is a sea of yellow and red blocks. Each block shows the restrictions that national governments have placed on their forces under his command. Red blocks represent tasks a country will not do, like hunting Taliban or Qaeda leaders. Yellow blocks indicate missions they are willing to consider after asking their capitals for approval.

In Washington, officials lament that NATO nations are unwilling to take the kinds of risks and casualties necessary to confront the Taliban. Across Europe, officials complain the United States never focused on reconstruction, and they blame American forces for mounting air attacks on the Taliban that cause large civilian casualties, turning Afghans against the West.

The debate over how the 2001 victory in Afghanistan turned into the current struggle is well under way.

“Destroying the Al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan was an extraordinary strategic accomplishment,” said Robert D. Blackwill, who was in charge of both Afghanistan and Iraq policy at the National Security Council, “but where we find ourselves now may have been close to inevitable, whether the U.S. went into Iraq or not. We were going to face this long war in Afghanistan as long as we and the Afghan government couldn’t bring serious economic reconstruction to the countryside, and eliminate the Taliban’s safe havens in Pakistan.”

But Henry A. Crumpton, a former C.I.A. officer who played a key role in ousting the Taliban and became the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, said winning a war like the one in Afghanistan required American personnel to “get in at a local level and respond to people’s needs so that enemy forces cannot come in and take advantage.”

“These are the fundamentals of counterinsurgency, and somehow we forgot them or never learned them,” he added. He noted that “the United States has 11 carrier battle groups, but we still don’t have expeditionary nonmilitary forces of the kind you need to win this sort of war.”

“We’re living in the past,” he said.

Among some current and former officials, a consensus is emerging that a more consistent, forceful American effort could have helped to keep the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s leadership from regrouping.

Gen. James L. Jones, a retired American officer and a former NATO supreme commander, said Iraq caused the United States to “take its eye off the ball” in Afghanistan. He warned that the consequences of failure “are just as serious in Afghanistan as they are in Iraq.”

“Symbolically, it’s more the epicenter of terrorism than Iraq,” he said. “If we don’t succeed in Afghanistan, you’re sending a very clear message to the terrorist organizations that the U.S., the U.N. and the 37 countries with troops on the ground can be defeated.”

Carlotta Gall contributed reporting.


19) Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq
Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis
Peter Beaumont in Baghdad
Sunday August 12, 2007

Lieutenant Clay Hanna looks sick and white. Like his colleagues he does not seem to sleep. Hanna says he catches up by napping on a cot between operations in the command centre, amid the noise of radio. He is up at 6am and tries to go to sleep by 2am or 3am. But there are operations to go on, planning to be done and after-action reports that need to be written. And war interposes its own deadly agenda that requires his attention and wakes him up.

When he emerges from his naps there is something old and paper-thin about his skin, something sketchy about his movements as the days go by.

The Americans he commands, like the other men at Sullivan - a combat outpost in Zafraniya, south east Baghdad - hit their cots when they get in from operations. But even when they wake up there is something tired and groggy about them. They are on duty for five days at a time and off for two days. When they get back to the forward operating base, they do their laundry and sleep and count the days until they will get home. It is an exhaustion that accumulates over the patrols and the rotations, over the multiple deployments, until it all joins up, wiping out any memory of leave or time at home. Until life is nothing but Iraq.

Hanna and his men are not alone in being tired most of the time. A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust.

Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.

They are not supposed to talk like this. We are driving and another of the public affairs team adds bitterly: 'We should just be allowed to tell the media what is happening here. Let them know that people are worn out. So that their families know back home. But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'

The first soldier starts in again. 'My husband was injured here. He hit an improvised explosive device. He already had a spinal injury. The blast shook out the plates. He's home now and has serious issues adapting. But I'm not allowed to go back home to see him. If I wanted to see him I'd have to take leave time (two weeks). And the army counts it.'

A week later, in the northern city of Mosul, an officer talks privately. 'We're plodding through this,' he says after another patrol and another ambush in the city centre. 'I don't know how much more plodding we've got left in us.'

When the soldiers talk like this there is resignation. There is a corrosive anger, too, that bubbles out, like the words pouring unbidden from a chaplain's assistant who has come to bless a patrol. 'Why don't you tell the truth? Why don't you journalists write that this army is exhausted?'

It is a weariness that has created its own culture of superstition. There are vehicle commanders who will not let the infantrymen in the back fall asleep on long operations - not because they want the men alert, but because, they say, bad things happen when people fall asleep. So the soldiers drink multiple cans of Rip It and Red Bull to stay alert and wired.

But the exhaustion of the US army emerges most powerfully in the details of these soldiers' frayed and worn-out lives. Everywhere you go you hear the same complaints: soldiers talk about divorces, or problems with the girlfriends that they don't see, or about the children who have been born and who are growing up largely without them.

'I counted it the other day,' says a major whose partner is also a soldier. 'We have been married for five years. We added up the days. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan we have been together for just seven months. Seven months ... We are in a bad place. I don't know whether this marriage can survive it.'

The anecdotal evidence on the ground confirms what others - prominent among them General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State - have been insisting for months now: that the US army is 'about broken'. Only a third of the regular army's brigades now qualify as combat-ready. Officers educated at the elite West Point academy are leaving at a rate not seen in 30 years, with the consequence that the US army has a shortfall of 3,000 commissioned officers - and the problem is expected to worsen.

And it is not only the soldiers that are worn out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the destruction, or wearing out, of 40 per cent of the US army's equipment, totalling at a recent count $212bn (£105bn).

But it is in the soldiers themselves - and in the ordinary stories they tell - that the exhaustion of the US military is most obvious, coming amid warnings that soldiers serving multiple Iraq deployments, now amounting to several years, are 50 per cent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress.

The army's exhaustion is reflected in problems such as the rate of desertion and unauthorised absences - a problem, it was revealed earlier this year, that had increased threefold on the period before the war in Afghanistan and had resulted in thousands of negative discharges.

'They are scraping to get people to go back and people are worn out,' said Thomas Grieger, a senior US navy psychiatrist, told the International Herald Tribune in April.

'Modern war is exhausting,' says Major Stacie Caswell, an occupational therapist with a combat stress unit attached to the military hospital in Mosul. Her unit runs long group sessions to help soldiers with emerging mental health and discipline problems: often they have seen friends killed and injured, or are having problems stemming from issues at home - responsible for 50 to 60 per cent of their cases. One of the most common problems in Iraq is sleep disorders.

'This is a different kind of war,' says Caswell. 'In World War II it was clear who the good guys and the bad guys were. You knew what you would go through on the battlefield.' Now she says the threat is all around. And soldiering has changed. 'Now we have so many things to do...'

'And the soldier in Vietnam,' interjects Sergeant John Valentine from the same unit, 'did not get to see the coverage from home that these soldiers do. We see what is going on at home on the political scene. They think the war is going to end. Then we have the frustration and confusion. That is fatiguing. Mentally tiring.'

'Not only that,' says Caswell, 'but because of the nature of what we do now, the number of tasks in comparison with previous generations - even as you are finishing your 15 months here you are immediately planning and training for your next tour.' Valentine adds: 'There is no decompression.'

The consequence is a deep-seated problem of retention and recruitment that in turn, says Caswell, has led the US army to reduce its standards for joining the military, particularly over the issue of no longer looking too hard at any previous history of mental illness. 'It is a question of honesty, and we are not investigating too deeply or we are issuing waivers. The consequence is that we are seeing people who do not have the same coping skills when they get here, and this can be difficult.

'We are also seeing older soldiers coming in - up to 41 years old - and that is causing its own problems. They have difficulty dealing with the physical impact of the war and also interacting with the younger men.'

Valentine says: 'We are not only watering down the quality of the soldiers but the leadership too. The good leaders get out. I've seen it. And right now we are on the down slope.'

'War tsar' calls for return of the draft to take the strain

America's 'war tsar' has called for the nation's political leaders to consider bringing back the draft to help a military exhausted by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a radio interview, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute said the option had always been open to boost America's all-volunteer army by drafting in young men in the same way as happened in Vietnam. 'I think it makes sense to consider it,' he said. Lute was appointed 'war tsar' earlier this year after President Bush decided a single figure was needed to oversee the nation's military efforts abroad.

Rumours of a return to the draft have long circulated in military circles as the pressure from fighting two large conflicts at the same time builds on America's forces. However, politically it would be extremely difficult to achieve, especially for any leader hoping to be elected in 2008. Bush has previously ruled out the suggestion as unnecessary.

Lute, however, said the war was causing stress to military families and, as a result, was having an impact on levels of re-enlistment. 'This kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living-room conversations within these families. Ultimately the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions,' he said.

A draft would revive bad memories of the turmoil of the 1960s and early 1970s when tens of thousands of young men were drafted to fight and die in Vietnam. Few other policies proved as divisive in America and the memories of anti-war protesters burning their draft cards and fleeing to Canada are still vivid in the memory.




Storm Victims Sue Over Trailers
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 8 (AP) — More than 500 hurricane survivors living in government-issued trailers and mobile homes are taking the manufacturers of the structures to court.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in New Orleans, the hurricane survivors accused the makers of using inferior materials in a profit-driven rush to build the temporary homes. The lawsuit asserts that thousands of Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 were exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde by living in the government-issued trailers and mobile homes.
And, it accuses 14 manufacturers that supplied the Federal Emergency Management Agency with trailers of cutting corners in order to quickly fill the shortage after the storms.
Messages left with several of those companies were not immediately returned.
FEMA, which is not named as a defendant in this suit, has agreed to have the air quality tested in some of the trailers.
August 9, 2007

British Criticize U.S. Air Attacks in Afghan Region
August 9, 2007

Army Expected to Meet Recruiting Goal
After failing to meet its recruiting goal for two consecutive months, the Army is expected to announce that it met its target for July. Officials are offering a new $20,000 bonus to recruits who sign up by the end of September. A preliminary tally shows that the Army most likely met its goal of 9,750 recruits for last month, a military official said on the condition of anonymity because the numbers will not be announced for several more days. The Army expects to meet its recruiting goal of 80,000 for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the official said.
August 8, 2007

Beach Closings and Advisories
The number of United States beaches declared unsafe for swimming reached a record last year, with more than 25,000 cases where shorelines were closed or health advisories issued, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported, using data from the Environmental Protection Agency. The group said the likely culprit was sewage and contaminated runoff from water treatment systems. “Aging and poorly designed sewage and storm water systems hold much of the blame for beach water pollution,” it said. The number of no-swim days at 3,500 beaches along the oceans, bays and Great Lakes doubled from 2005. The report is online at
August 8, 2007

Finland: 780-Year-Old Pine Tree Found
Scientists have discovered a 780-year-old Scots pine, the oldest living forest pine known in Finland, the Finnish Forest Research Institute said. The tree was found last year in Lapland during a study mission on forest fires, the institute said, and scientists analyzed a section of the trunk to determine its age. “The pine is living, but it is not in the best shape,” said Tuomo Wallenius, a researcher. “It’s quite difficult to say how long it will survive.” The tree is inside the strip of land on the eastern border with Russia where access is strictly prohibited.
August 8, 2007

The Bloody Failure of ‘The Surge’: A Special Report
by Patrick Cockburn

Sean Penn applauds as Venezuela's Chavez rails against Bush
The Associated Press
August 2, 2007

California: Gore’s Son Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges
Al Gore III, son of the former vice president, pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana and other drugs, but a judge said the plea could be withdrawn and the charges dropped if Mr. Gore, left, completed a drug program. The authorities have said they found drugs in Mr. Gore’s car after he was pulled over on July 4 for driving 100 miles an hour. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of drug possession, two misdemeanor counts of drug possession without a prescription and one misdemeanor count of marijuana possession, the district attorney’s office said. Mr. Gore, 24, has been at a live-in treatment center since his arrest, said Allan Stokke, his lawyer.
July 31, 2007

United Parcel Service Agrees to Benefits in Civil Unions
July 31, 2007

John Stewart demands the Bay View retract the truth, Editorial by Willie Ratcliff,

Minister to Supervisors: Stop Lennar, assess the people’s health by Minister Christopher Muhammad,

OPD shoots unarmed 15-year-old in the back in East Oakland by Minister of Information JR,

California: Raids on Marijuana Clinics
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided 10 medical marijuana clinics in Los Angles County just as Los Angeles city leaders backed a measure calling for an end to the federal government’s crackdown on the dispensaries. Federal officials made five arrests and seized large quantities of marijuana and cash after serving clinics with search warrants, said a spokeswoman, Sarah Pullen. Ms. Pullen refused to disclose other details. The raid, the agency’s second largest on marijuana dispensaries, came the same day the Los Angeles City Council introduced an interim ordinance calling on federal authorities to stop singling out marijuana clinics allowed under state law.
July 26, 2007




Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


USLAW Endorses September 15 Antiwar Demonstration in Washington, DC
USLAW Leadership Urges Labor Turnout
to Demand End to Occupation in Iraq, Hands Off Iraqi Oil

By a referendum ballot of members of the Steering Committee of U.S. Labor Against the War, USLAW is now officially on record endorsing and encouraging participation in the antiwar demonstration called by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in Washington, DC on September 15. The demonstration is timed to coincide with a Congressional vote scheduled in late September on a new Defense Department appropriation that will fund the Iraq War through the end of Bush's term in office.

U.S. Labor Against the War

Stop the Iraq Oil Law

2007 Iraq Labor Solidarity Tour



This is a modern day lynching"--Marcus Jones, father of Mychal Bell


P.O. BOX 1890
FAX: (318) 992-8701


Sign the NAACP's Online Petition to the Governor of Louisiana and Attorney General

TIME: 9:00AM
MONROE RESIDENTS: 318.801.0513
JENA RESIDENTS: 318.419.6441
Send Donations to the Jena 6 Defense Fund:
Jena 6 Defense Committee
P.O. Box 2798
Jena, Louisiana 71342


Young Black males the target of small-town racism
By Jesse Muhammad
Staff Writer
"JENA, La. ( - Marcus Jones, the father of 16-year-old Jena High School football star Mychal Bell, pulls out a box full of letters from countless major colleges and universities in America who are trying to recruit his son. Mr. Jones, with hurt in his voice, says, “He had so much going for him. My son is innocent and they have done him wrong.”

An all-White jury convicted Mr. Bell of two felonies—aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery—and faces up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 31. Five other young Black males are also awaiting their day in court for alleged attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder charges evolving from a school fight: Robert Bailey, 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and Jesse Beard, 15. Together, this group has come to be known as the “Jena 6.”
Updated Jul 22, 2007

My Letter to Judge Mauffray:

P.O. BOX 1890


Dear Judge Mauffray,

I am appalled to learn of the conviction of 16-year-old Jena High School football star Mychal Bell and the arrest of five other young Black men who are awaiting their day in court for alleged attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder charges evolving from a school fight. These young men, Mychal Bell, 16; Robert Bailey, 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and Jesse Beard, 15, who have come to be known as the “Jena 6” have the support of thousands of people around the country who want to see them free and back in school.

Clearly, two different standards are in place in Jena—one standard for white students who go free even though they did, indeed, make a death threat against Black students—the hanging of nooses from a tree that only white students are allowed to sit under—and another set of rules for those that defended themselves against these threats. The nooses were hung after Black students dared to sit in the shade of that “white only” tree!

If the court is sincerely interested in justice, it will drop the charges against all of these six students, reinstate them back into school and insist that the school teach the white students how wrong they were and still are for their racist attitudes and violent threats! It is the duty of the schools to uphold the constitution and the bill of rights. A hanging noose or burning cross is just like a punch in the face or worse so says the Supreme Court! Further, it is an act of vigilantism and has no place in a “democracy”.

The criminal here is white racism, not a few young men involved in a fistfight!
I am a 62-year-old white woman who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Fistfights among teenagers—as you certainly must know yourself—are a right of passage. Please don’t tell me you have never gotten into one. Even I picked a few fights with a few girls outside of school for no good reason. (We soon, in fact, became fast friends.) Children are not just smaller sized adults. They are children and go through this. The fistfight is normal and expected behavior that adults can use to educate children about the negative effect of the use of violence to solve disputes. That is what adults are supposed to do.

Hanging nooses in a tree because you hate Black people is not normal at all! It is a deep sickness that our schools and courts are responsible for unless they educate and act against it. This means you must overturn the conviction of Mychal Bell and drop the cases against Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and Jesse Beard.

It also means you must take responsibility to educate white teachers, administrators, students and their families against racism and order them to refrain from their racist behavior from here on out—and make sure it is carried out!
You are supposed to defend the students who want to share the shade of a leafy green tree not persecute them—that is the real crime that has been committed here!


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War


"They have a new gimmick every year. They're going to take one of their boys, black boys, and put him in the cabinet so he can walk around Washington with a cigar. Fire on one end and fool on the other end. And because his immediate personal problem will have been solved he will be the one to tell our people: 'Look how much progress we're making. I'm in Washington, D.C., I can have tea in the White House. I'm your spokesman, I'm your leader.' While our people are still living in Harlem in the slums. Still receiving the worst form of education.

"But how many sitting here right now feel that they could [laughs] truly identify with a struggle that was designed to eliminate the basic causes that create the conditions that exist? Not very many. They can jive, but when it comes to identifying yourself with a struggle that is not endorsed by the power structure, that is not acceptable, that the ground rules are not laid down by the society in which you live, in which you are struggling against, you can't identify with that, you step back.

"It's easy to become a satellite today without even realizing it. This country can seduce God. Yes, it has that seductive power of economic dollarism. You can cut out colonialism, imperialism and all other kind of ism, but it's hard for you to cut that dollarism. When they drop those dollars on you, you'll fold though."

—MALCOLM X, 1965


Youtube interview with the DuPage County Activists Who Were Arrested for Bannering
You can watch an interview with the two DuPage County antiwar activists
who arrested after bannering over the expressway online at:

Please help spread the word about this interview, and if you haven't
already done so, please contact the DuPage County State's attorney, Joe
Birkett, to demand that the charges against Jeff Zurawski and Sarah
Heartfield be dropped. The contact information for Birkett is:

Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: (630) 407-8151
Please forward this information far and wide.

My Letter:

Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: (630) 407-8151

Dear State's Attorney Birkett,

The news of the arrest of Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Heartfield is getting out far and wide. Their arrest is outrageous! Not only should all charges be dropped against Jeff and Sarah, but a clear directive should be given to Police Departments everywhere that this kind of harassment of those who wish to practice free speech will not be tolerated.

The arrest of Jeff and Sarah was the crime. The display of their message was an act of heroism!

We demand you drop all charges against Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Heartfield NOW!


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War,, San Francisco, California


A little gem:
Michael Moore Faces Off With Stephen Colbert [VIDEO]


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


"We are far from that stage today in our era of the absolute
lie; the complete and totalitarian lie, spread by the
monopolies of press and radio to imprison social
consciousness." December 1936, "In 'Socialist' Norway,"
by Leon Trotsky: “Leon Trotsky in Norway” was transcribed
for the Internet by Per I. Matheson [References from
original translation removed]


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


Animated Video Preview
Narrated by Peter Coyote
Is now on YouTube and Google Video

We are planning on making the ADDICTED To WAR movie.
Can you let me know what you think about this animated preview?
Do you think it would work as a full length film?
Please send your response to:
Fdorrel@sbcglobal. net or Fdorrel@Addictedtow

In Peace,

Frank Dorrel
Addicted To War
P.O. Box 3261
Culver City, CA 90231-3261
fdorrel@sbcglobal. net
www.addictedtowar. com

For copies of the book:

Frank Dorrel
P.O. BOX 3261
CULVER CITY, CALIF. 90231-3261
$10.00 per copy (Spanish or English); special bulk rates
can be found at:


"There comes a times when silence is betrayal."
--Martin Luther King


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at:



The National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) demands the immediate
release of political prisoner, Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Although
Dr. Al-Arian is no longer on a hunger strike we must still demand
he be released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). After an earlier
plea agreement that absolved Dr. Al-Arian from any further questioning,
he was sentenced up to 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before
a grand jury in Virginia. He has long sense served his time yet
Dr. Al-Arian is still being held. Release him now!



We ask all people of conscience to demand the immediate
release and end to Dr. Al- Arian's suffering.

Call, Email and Write:

1- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Fax Number: (202) 307-6777

2- The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax

3- Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

4- Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
March 22, 2007
[No email]

National Council of Arab Americans (NCA)

Criminalizing Solidarity: Sami Al-Arian and the War of
By Charlotte Kates, The Electronic Intifada, 4 April 2007


Robert Fisk: The true story of free speech in America
This systematic censorship of Middle East reality
continues even in schools
Published: 07 April 2007
http://news. independent. fisk/article2430 125.ece


[For some levity...Hans Groiner plays Monk]


Excerpt of interview between Barbara Walters and Hugo Chavez


Which country should we invade next?

My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup

Michael Moore- The Awful Truth

Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments

Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


'My son lived a worthwhile life'
In April 2003, 21-year old Tom Hurndall was shot in the head
in Gaza by an Israeli soldier as he tried to save the lives of three
small children. Nine months later, he died, having never
recovered consciousness. Emine Saner talks to his mother
Jocelyn about her grief, her fight to make the Israeli army
accountable for his death and the book she has written
in his memory.
Monday March 26, 2007
The Guardian,,2042968,00.html


Introducing...................the Apple iRack


"A War Budget Leaves Every Child Behind."
[A T-shirt worn by some teachers at Roosevelt High School
in L.A. as part of their campaign to rid the school of military
recruiters and JROTC--see Article in Full item number 4,]




Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


Petition: Halt the Blue Angels


A Girl Like Me
7:08 min
Youth Documentary
Kiri Davis, Director, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Producer
Winner of the Diversity Award
Sponsored by Third Millennium Foundation


Film/Song about Angola


"200 million children in the world sleep in the streets today.
Not one of them is Cuban."
(A sign in Havana)
View sign at bottom of page at:
[Thanks to Norma Harrison for sending]



"Cheyenne and Arapaho oral histories hammer history's account of the
Sand Creek Massacre"

CENTENNIAL, CO -- A new documentary film based on an award-winning
documentary short film, "The Sand Creek Massacre", and driven by
Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho people who tell their version about
what happened during the Sand Creek Massacre via their oral
histories, has been released by Olympus Films+, LLC, a Centennial,
Colorado film company.

"You have done an extraordinary job" said Margie Small, Tobient
Entertainment, " on the Colorado PBS episode, the library videos for
public schools and libraries, the trailer, etc...and getting the
story told and giving honor to those ancestors who had to witness
this tragic and brutal is one of the best ways."

"The images shown in the film were selected for native awareness
value" said Donald L. Vasicek, award-winning writer/filmmaker, "we
also focused on preserving American history on film because tribal
elders are dying and taking their oral histories with them. The film
shows a non-violent solution to problem-solving and 19th century
Colorado history, so it's multi-dimensional in that sense. "

Chief Eugene Blackbear, Sr., Cheyenne, who starred as Chief Black
Kettle in "The Last of the Dogmen" also starring Tom Berenger and
Barbara Hershey and "Dr. Colorado", Tom Noel, University of Colorado
history professor, are featured.

The trailer can be viewed and the film can be ordered for $24.95 plus
$4.95 for shipping and handling at

Vasicek's web site,, provides detailed
information about the Sand Creek Massacre including various still
images particularly on the Sand Creek Massacre home page and on the
proposal page.

Olympus Films+, LLC is dedicated to writing and producing quality
products that serve to educate others about the human condition.


Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
7078 South Fairfax Street
Centennial, CO 80122,+Don


Join us in a campaign to expose and stop the use
of these illegal weapons


You may enjoy watching these.
In struggle


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


[The Scab
"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad,
and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with
which he made a scab."
"A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul,
a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.
Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten
principles." "When a scab comes down the street,
men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and
the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out."
"No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there
is a pool of water to drown his carcass in,
or a rope long enough to hang his body with.
Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab.
For betraying his master, he had character enough
to hang himself." A scab has not.
"Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.
Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of
a commision in the british army."
The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife,
his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled
promise from his employer.
Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor
to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country;
a scab is a traitor to his God, his country,
his family and his class."
Author --- Jack London (1876-1916)...Roland Sheppard]


Stop funding Israel's war against Palestine
Complete the form at the website listed below with your information.


Sand Creek Massacre
(scroll down when you get there])

On November 29, 1864, 700 Colorado troops savagely slaughtered
over 450 Cheyenne children, disabled, elders, and women in the
southeastern Colorado Territory under its protection. This act
became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This film project
("The Sand Creek Massacre" documentary film project) is an
examination of an open wound in the souls of the Cheyenne
people as told from their perspective. This project chronicles
that horrific 19th century event and its affect on the 21st century
struggle for respectful coexistence between white and native
plains cultures in the United States of America.

Listed below are links on which you can click to get the latest news,
products, and view, free, "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" award-
winning documentary short. In order to create more native
awareness, particularly to save the roots of America's history,
please read the following:

Some people in America are trying to save the world. Bless
them. In the meantime, the roots of America are dying.
What happens to a plant when the roots die? The plant dies
according to my biology teacher in high school. American's
roots are its native people. Many of America's native people
are dying from drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, hunger,
and disease, which was introduced to them by the Caucasian
male. Tribal elders are dying. When they die, their oral
histories go with them. Our native's oral histories are the
essence of the roots of America, what took place before
our ancestors came over to America, what is taking place,
and what will be taking place. It is time we replenish
America's roots with native awareness, else America
continues its decaying, and ultimately, its death.

READY FOR PURCHASE! (pass the word about this powerful
educational tool to friends, family, schools, parents, teachers,
and other related people and organizations to contact
me (, 303-903-2103) for information
about how they can purchase the DVD and have me come
to their children's school to show the film and to interact
in a questions and answers discussion about the Sand
Creek Massacre.

Happy Holidays!

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC,+Don

(scroll down when you get there])


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