Monday, December 24, 2007



Next Antiwar Coalition meeting Sunday, January 6, 1:00 P.M.
474 Valencia St., Second Floor, rear.

Help Make History on the 5th Anniversary of the War
Iraq Occupation 5th Anniversary U.S. Mobilization Committee (Member Groups Listed Below)

Join us on Saturday, March 15th for a massive demonstration in Washington, D.C., at which we will exercise our rights to assemble and speak on behalf of the majority of Americans, the majority of Iraqis, the majority of U.S. troops, and the majority of people around the world who all say: U.S. Out of Iraq! This gathering will support the Iraq Veterans Against The War Winter Soldier Testimonial.

We call on people from throughout the United States, in solidarity with those planning similar events around the world, to come together in massive numbers on March 15th and 19th, 2008, to demand an immediate end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. To endorse this event, click here.

The events we create will mark the end of the fifth year and the start of the sixth year of this criminal, unprovoked invasion and occupation. Over a million Iraqis have been killed, and tens of thousands of U.S. service members have been killed or wounded. The occupation must end, and together we can end it!

Join us on Wednesday, March 19th, the anniversary of the invasion, for massive civil disobedience in Washington, D.C., and at the local level all around the United States. On this day, members of Congress will be in their districts. We will provide you with the resources you need to engage in effective nonviolent actions at locations of your choosing, including congressional district offices. On the same day the permanent military-industrial complex will be at work in Washington, and we intend to bring to bear on it the most massive, most creative, and most disciplined nonviolent resistance it has ever seen. Training sessions will be provided from the 15th to 18th. Toward these ends we have formed a short-term committee.

Organizations participating are listed below (Initial list),
In Solidarity for Peace and Justice,
Gold Star Families for Peace
Camp Casey Peace Institute
ANSWER Coalition
CODEPINK Women For Peace
Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
National Council of Arab Americans
Malik Rahim, Co-founder, Common Ground Collective New Orleans
Hip Hop Caucus
World Can’t Wait Drive Out The Bush Regime!
Cindy Sheehan and Cindy For Congress
Grassroots America
Democracy Rising
Voters for Peace

To endorse this event go to:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311



The regional antiwar demonstrations on October 27th were a great success.. The Boston mobilization organized by New England United (NEU) drew about 10,000 people, including many new activists and young people. Nationally, tens of thousands demanded an end to war and occupation now.

The NEU-sponsored action on October 27 was endorsed by a broad range of over 200 organizations. At a follow-up meeting, many members of NEU believed that we should build on this momentum by bringing together the antiwar movement in unified national protest in the spring for the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

Reasons given included: 1) March will be the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and the antiwar movement must come together to demand an end to this war now; 2) The war plans against Iran are intensifying, and we have to fight now to stop a war on Iran before it's too late. At the same time, it was recognized that successful national action in the spring would require a broad base of support from antiwar organizations around the country. Therefore, NEU decided to create a working group to assess the level of support for such an action, and report back to our next general meeting in December with both an assessment of support, and a detailed proposal for a unified national mobilization in the spring. As an indication of growing interest in national action, Cindy Sheehan is convening a peace summit in San Francisco in January to help develop a unified strategy for the peace movement and to develop a plan for a unified national mobilization in DC during the March anniversary of the Iraq war.

A strong base of support from the grass-roots organizations around the country will be necessary to make unified national action a reality. If your organization is interested in planning for unified national action in March, please contact us as soon as possible at the following email address: . Thank you. Spring Mobilization working group New England United

Can we all get together again?


Board approves year extension for high schools' JROTC program
Classes allowed to count for physical education credit
Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2007


474 VALENCIA STREET, FIRST FLOOR, Room 145 (To the left as you come in, and all the way to the back of the long hallway, then, to the right.)

School Board Cowers Behind Phony JROTC "Task Force"
by Marc Norton
Dec. 12‚ 2007





A ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Mumia's case, based on the hearing in Philadelphia on May 17th 2007, is expected momentarily. Freeing Mumia immediately is what is needed, but that is not an option before this court. The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal calls on everyone who supports Mumia‚s case for freedom, to rally the day after a decision comes down. Here are Bay Area day-after details:


14th and Broadway, near the Federal Building
4:30 to 6:30 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or on Monday if the ruling comes down on a Friday.

Oakland demonstration called by the Partisan Defense Committee and Labor Black Leagues, to be held if the Court upholds the death sentence, or denies Mumia's appeals for a new trial or a new hearing. info at (510) 839-0852 or


Federal Courthouse, 7th & Mission
5 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or Monday if the decision comes down on a Friday

San Francisco demo called by the Mobilization To Free Mumia,
info at (415) 255-1085 or

Day-after demonstrations are also planned in:

Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver
and other cities internationally.

A National Demonstration is to be held in Philadelphia, 3rd Saturday after the decision

For more information, contact: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,;
Partisan Defense Committee,;
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC),;


World-renowned journalist, death-row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is completely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Mountains of evidence--unheard or ignored by the courts--shows this. He is a victim, like thousands of others, of the racist, corrupt criminal justice system in the US; only in his case, there is an added measure of political persecution. Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, and is still an outspoken and active critic of the on-going racism and imperialism of the US. They want to silence him more than they want to kill him.

Anyone who has ever been victimized by, protested or been concerned about the racist travesties of justice meted out to blacks in the US, as well as attacks on immigrants, workers and revolutionary critics of the system, needs to take a close look at the frame-up of Mumia. He is innocent, and he needs to be free.




In 1995, mass mobilizations helped save Mumia from death.

In 1999, longshore workers shut West Coast ports to free Mumia, and teachers in Oakland and Rio de Janeiro held teach-ins and stop-works.

Mumia needs powerful support again now. Come out to free Mumia!

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610


Help end the war by supporting the troops who have refused to fight it.
Please sign the appeal online:


"I am writing from the United States to ask you to make a provision for sanctuary for the scores of U.S. military servicemembers currently in Canada, most of whom have traveled to your country in order to resist fighting in the Iraq War. Please let them stay in Canada..."

To sign the appeal or for more information:

Courage to Resist volunteers will send this letter on your behalf to three key Canadian officials--Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley, and Stéphane Dion, Liberal Party--via international first class mail.

In collaboration with War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada), this effort comes at a critical juncture in the international campaign for asylum for U.S. war resisters in Canada.


We, the Undersigned, endorse the following petition:
FedEx Ground: Your Drivers Deserve to be Treated Fairly!
Target: Dave Rebholz, President and CEO of FedEx Ground
Sponsor: American Rights at Work

More than 15,000 FedEx Ground drivers don't have a voice at work, or the ability to stand up to the company. These men and women work long hours, often without benefits, are frequently harassed and even fired for supporting a union.

What's more, FedEx makes the drivers lease their own trucks (which cost around $40,000) so quitting can mean losing a major personal investment. Unions are often their only recourse.

FedEx Ground advertises efficiency and professionalism, but their anti-union posters and the distribution of anti-union videos show they're more about pushing their own agenda.

A new report shows that when anti-union persuasion fails, there's outright bullying. High-level management arrive on the scene to harass, isolate, retaliate against and even fire union supporters!

Resorting to nasty labor tactics to increase company profits is just not right.
Demand that FedEx Ground give benefits and respect to the people who make the company so successful!



Harvard chaplain says communism comes closer than the established church
to following the radical gospel of Jesus.




1) Detroit Revival Vies With Industry’s Decline
December 19, 2007

2) Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US
Agence France Presse.
Thu Dec 20, 9:22 AM ET

3) Press Conference for FreshDirect Workers Announced for this Friday at
11 AM on the steps of City Hall

4) Panic at FreshDirect
A unionizing battle and a hunt for illegal immigrants collide
by Tom Robbins
December 18th, 2007 6:24 PM,robbins,78671,2.html

5) A Pause From Death
December 20, 2007

6) Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis
By Dana FordFri
Dec 21, 8:18 AM ET

7) Nightmare Before Christmas
Op-Ed Columnist
“For the very wealthy, of course, it’s been a different story. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the after-tax income of the top 1 percent rose 228 percent from 1979 through 2005.” December 22, 2007

8) A 1950 Plan: Arrest 12,000, Suspend Due Process
December 23, 2007

9) Ruling Lets Firms Bar Union E-mail
December 23, 2007

10) 9/11 Panel Study Finds That C.I.A. Withheld Tapes
December 22, 2007

11) Groceries on the Computer, and Immigrants in the Cold
December 22, 2007

12) Crisis may make 1929 look a 'walk in the park'
Last Updated: 11:40am GMT 23/12/2007

13) Interrogation Tricks Under Scrutiny After Ruling
December 23, 2007

14) In Kentucky’s Teeth, Toll of Poverty and Neglect
December 24, 2007

15) Tomato Pickers’ Wages Fight Faces Obstacles
December 24, 2007

16) In Wake of Recent Manpower Loss, FreshDirect Workers Vote ‘No Union’
December 24, 2007

17) 'Army Times' Article Describes U.S. Troop 'Mutiny' in Iraq
by Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 17, 2007 13:10:09 EST


1) Detroit Revival Vies With Industry’s Decline
December 19, 2007

DETROIT — For decades, city leaders and local business executives here have been predicting an imminent revival of their desolate downtown. For all their cheerleading, though, nothing much changed.

Even the Renaissance Center, an enormous office and hotel complex with seven soaring glass towers built 30 years ago on the city’s riverfront, did not spark the turnaround that its name promised.

But finally, downtown Detroit is showing signs of life — just as the automobile industry, its life force, is facing a further decline in 2008.

Regardless of what looms, investment money and people are pouring into the city — at least to visit. Thousands of people thronged to the renovated Detroit Institute of Arts when it reopened on Thanksgiving weekend, offering 32 hours of free admission.

Two new casinos opened this fall, creating thousands of jobs, and bringing luxury hotel rooms to a town where one of the few upscale choices was at the airport.

More rooms will come when the Book Cadillac Hotel, a city landmark from the 1920s but vacant and often vandalized for the last 20 years, completes a $180 million renovation next year that will create a 455-room Westin hotel and 67 condominiums, including the first in the city to sell for more than $1 million.

More jobs will arrive when Quicken Loans, a mortgage company, chooses the site downtown where it will move 4,000 employees from Livonia, a desirable middle-class suburb, putting all those jobs downtown next year.

Even the Detroit Lions did their part earlier this fall, scoring an impressive string of victories at the start of the N.F.L. season.

“Things are rolling,” said Detroit’s mayor, Kwame M. Kilpatrick.

But the direction is arguably as much downhill as up. Automakers have laid off nearly 100,000 workers in the last two years, announcing more cuts this fall and another round of buyout offers Tuesday, despite new agreements with the United Automobile Workers union that were supposed to be a new, leaner start for the American industry. The companies plan deep production cuts in the new year, which company executives and analysts expect will bring the worst industry sales since the mid-1990s.

Detroit’s poverty rate, 28.5 percent, is the nation’s highest. The area’s foreclosure rate is the second highest, behind Stockton, Calif., according to RealtyTrac, a statistics firm in Irvine, Calif. One in every 33 homes in Wayne County, home to Detroit, is in default.

Last month, The Detroit Free Press printed a 121-page pullout section listing more than 18,000 foreclosed properties across Wayne County. An estimated 4,500 homeowners attended a forum in Detroit last week, where they met with representatives from 23 lenders in hopes of saving their homes.

Even as a snowstorm battered the city on Sunday, local television reports showed one man slinging his possessions into a U-Haul van, forced to leave because his lender had seized his home.

Detroit’s population is now half its peak in the 1950s, and the city is as small as it was in the 1920s, before the auto industry boom that made Detroit an industrial powerhouse and one of the nation’s largest cities.

Houses sit begging at every price level, from the wealthy Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills to modest bungalows in the city. The average home requires six months to sell, compared with three nationwide.

And in a blow to the city’s heritage, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, and the city gave up on a plan to build a museum and entertainment center that would feature the record label’s music. The center was supposed to replace Motown’s second Detroit headquarters, which the mayor ordered torn down two years ago on the eve of the Super Bowl, declaring the long-empty building an eyesore.

“It has been 30 years of a strategy that says if we revitalize downtown the rest of the city will follow,” said Kevin Boyle, a Detroit native and professor of history at Ohio State University, who has written extensively on the city. “And that is simply not true.”

To Mr. Kilpatrick, though, one of the biggest obstacles is overcoming the city’s reputation — an unfair one, in his eyes — as a civic failure.

“In 2007, the perception of Detroit is as far away from reality as we’ve ever had it,” Mr. Kilpatrick said. “We’re ready to reintroduce the city to the world.”

On Thanksgiving weekend, many people took the mayor up on his offer. More than 57,000 patrons visited the art institute when it was reopened after an extensive renovation for 32 hours straight, with free admission, instead of the $8 admission charge that has been made mandatory (patrons previously were allowed to pay by donation, yielding an average $2.50 a person.)

“There are pockets where it is all starting to come together,” said Margaret Birkett, 38, of Huntington Woods, a Detroit suburb. She and her husband, Michael, had traveled into the city to attend his 20th high school reunion at a city restaurant, an event that never would have taken place downtown a few years back.

“It’s a long way to go, but we like it here,” he added.

Judy Dapprich, 65, of suburban Belleville, Mich., used to come to Detroit with her husband for special events like Christmas Eve, when they would shop at the J. L. Hudson’s department store, since demolished. Now they make six to eight trips a year. “I’m very impressed with everything that’s been done,” she said.

One big attention-getter is the new MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, which opened in October. Its gaming revenues rose in November compared with last year, when it was housed in a temporary building. But the occupancy rate at the hotel, where rooms start at $299 a night, is below the 55 percent average for the area, the owners told the state gaming commission this month.

And in the eyes of some, the new casinos, which include the 17-story Motor City Hotel and Casino that opened on Nov. 28, may be doing as much harm as good.

Some of the casino’s patrons include Detroit’s homeless. They used to buy food with the nickels and dimes they received for collecting returnable beverage containers, said Chad Audi, director of the rescue mission, which sits on a side street a few blocks from the Motor City.

Instead, these gamblers are spending their change in slot machines. “It’s turning into a very bad, negative impact on us,” he said.

This year, the rescue mission serves about 1,200 people daily, up from about 900 a year ago. More of them include entire families, not just single mothers or homeless men, Mr. Audi said.

He applauded the new investments downtown, but said there are not enough new jobs in neighborhoods “so people can have the lives they have had.”

Jennifer M. Granholm, Michigan’s governor, said she hoped areas beyond downtown would start to reap the benefits soon.

“There’s a lot of great stuff happening, it’s just got to filter out into the neighborhoods,” Ms. Granholm said this month, in an interview during a holiday party at her residence in Lansing. “No state can thrive without a vibrant urban center.”

But even Mr. Kilpatrick said the city could not completely rebound without better times across the state, which has an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, up 0.2 percentage points in October from 2006.

Still, John Ferchill, the Cleveland hotel developer overseeing the Book Cadillac project, is not concerned. The hotel, scheduled to reopen next fall, is already booked for special events through the end of 2008, while advance room reservations are “way over what we thought they would be.”

He added, “If there’s a bad economy, the Book Cadillac doesn’t know about it.”

But the city has a long way to go before it will be called vibrant. Indeed, many streets are largely deserted after dark, and echo with distant sirens. New developments are surrounded by empty buildings, with streetlights burned out on nearby roads. Tiger Stadium, stripped of its seats, signs and other memorabilia, sits awaiting its fate, which may include demolition.

And the Lions, meanwhile, lost their sixth consecutive game on Sunday, in a 51-14 rout by San Diego that ended their hopes for a winning season.

Still, long-patient local residents see signs of hope. “People’s hearts and minds have got to get over the past,” said Jay Meehan, a sociology professor at Oakland University in suburban Rochester, Mich. He spoke while sitting on a bench inside the art institute in front of murals by Diego Rivera that depicted the Rouge assembly line in the 1930s.


2) Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US
Agence France Presse.
Thu Dec 20, 9:22 AM ET

The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.

They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship, Means said.

The treaties signed with the United States are merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists say on their website.

The treaties have been "repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to maintain our way of life," the reborn freedom movement says.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.

"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row," Means said.

One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples -- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children," Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The US "annexation" of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people," said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies -- less than 44 years -- in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.

"Our people want to live, not just survive or crawl and be mascots," said Young.

"We are not trying to embarrass the United States. We are here to continue the struggle for our children and grandchildren," she said, predicting that the battle would not be won in her lifetime.


3) Press Conference for FreshDirect Workers Announced for this Friday at
11 AM on the steps of City Hall

For years the managers of FreshDirect have exploited undocumented
immigrants to work in their warehouses and deliver gourmet foods
across New York City. But when these workers began to stand up for
themselves and form a union, immigration officials showed up. So far,
more than 40 workers have been fired or suspended. Another 100 have
fled FreshDirect in fear and will spend the holidays without knowing
they will even get their final pay checks.

Below is the official announcement for the press conference to be
held this Friday morning outside City Hall.

For more details about this story, please click here , here or here
to Take Action


As we support the FRESH DIRECT workers right to fair
union elections and object to unwarranted
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.)
interference in this organizing drive.

WHEN: Friday, December 21, 2007, 11:00 a.m.
WHERE: City Hall Steps, Manhattan
WHO: New York City Central Labor Council
New York State AFL-CIO
Comptroller William C. Thompson
Speaker Christine Quinn
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)

Freeze immigration probe

El Diario/La Prensa


EDITORIAL - 12/17/2007

The federal agency in charge of immigration enforcement has once
again created a mess, this time by launching an investigation of
Fresh Direct workers as they prepare to vote on unionization.

Last week, at least 40 workers quit or were suspended after the
company announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
planned to inspect records of employees.

The Teamsters Union suggests Fresh Direct might have called ICE on
undocumented employees to intimidate workers, who are slated to vote
on adopting a union this weekend. The Teamsters and the United Food
and Commercial Workers Union have been vying to organize hundreds of
Fresh Direct workers, many of who are Hispanic.

Both Fresh Direct and ICE deny the accusation. ICE says that while
its probes may be coincidental to any allegations, they are in
compliance with its regulations.

But the Teamsters’ claim is not preposterous. Employers calling
immigration agents, or threatening to do so, to punish workers who
try to assert their rights is too frequent a scenario. And the timing
of this ICE investigation certainly begs the question of how Fresh
Direct got on the agency’s radar.

To avoid being used as a retaliatory weapon against workers, ICE is
supposed to take certain steps, including contacting the National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to determine if there is a union
election in progress before it conducts an investigation. The NLRB’s
New York office says it was not contacted by ICE.

Workers have a right to elect or not elect a union, without being
intimidated. ICE has undermined that process. The agency should stick
to its own policy of refraining from conducting audits during labor
disputes, and should immediately withdraw this investigation.


4) Panic at FreshDirect
A unionizing battle and a hunt for illegal immigrants collide
by Tom Robbins
December 18th, 2007 6:24 PM,robbins,78671,2.html

You'd figure it was hard enough already hauling boxes around in a massive, cold warehouse on the midnight-to–8 a.m. shift on the weekend for slightly better than minimum wage. But things got infinitely tougher on Sunday, December 9, for some 900 workers at the FreshDirect food plant in Long Island City.

It was around 3 a.m. that a notice appeared on the company bulletin board, announcing that employees had to produce new proof showing that they were legal residents. Many of the workers are immigrants, a fact that was no secret to the company, which has prospered hugely thanks to their hard work since it opened its doors in 2002. It shouldn't have been a secret to the government, either. Just stand by the G-train stop at 21st Street any morning and watch the men and women rushing past. There is not a lot of English spoken here.

The third paragraph in the notice is what sparked the stampede: "Immigration and Customs Enforcement ('ICE') at the Department of Homeland Security will be reviewing FreshDirect's employees' I-9 forms and accompanying documentation as part of an official audit later this month." Within hours, scores of employees who had worked at the company for years had sprinted out the door, many of them in tears.

This panic came as all of the Republican presidential candidates, including the former mayor of New York, try to outdo one another about what they would do to all the illegal immigrants if they could just get their hands on them. This is interesting because just five years ago the former governor, George Pataki, also a Republican, along with his top economic-development man, Charles Gargano—who raises so much money for Republicans that they want to make him an ambassador all over again—stood outside the sprawling block-long plant on Borden Avenue. There they talked about the millions of dollars in tax incentives that the state was happy to steer toward FreshDirect to help it generate jobs. What they said then was absolutely correct: Jobs are good. A company that prospers and puts many people to work is good.

Since then, FreshDirect has become a booming business. It makes $125 million a year in sales as a million New Yorkers happily punch in their Internet orders for fresh produce and food someone else has prepared. No one asks where the workers come from. And until the unions came knocking on the door, the owners of this wonderful 21st-century enterprise were naturally quite happy to pay their employees as little as they could get away with. This is why unions are supposed to be in business—to even the scales.

The trouble started not long after a Teamsters local union started organizing the warehouse. First, a pair of pro-Teamsters employees were fired. Then came last week's panic on Borden Avenue.

Employees were still getting the bad news Tuesday morning when, coincidentally, Teamsters Local 805, one of two unions that have been vying for months to represent the plant's workers, staged a rally outside the plant. Teamsters leader Sandy Pope, one of the only women to run an industrial union, braced herself on the bottom rung of a police barricade and shouted through cupped hands. "All they're ever going to pay here is minimum wage with no benefits," she yelled. "And then they'll throw you out like they're doing today. What you need is the Teamsters in here."

Pope is a veteran rebel in her own union and has even campaigned against Teamsters national president Jim Hoffa. But that morning the union turned out in force to support her organizing drive, complete with drivers in 18-wheel rigs driving up and down the avenue tooting their air horns. Hoffa himself put out a statement condemning the firings. "FreshDirect boasted to the workers that they had retained the services of an anti-union law firm," said Hoffa. "Now . . . ICE has only helped spread a culture of intimidation and fear."

But as the Teamsters marched back and forth on the sidewalk, a handful of workers from the warehouse stood nearby wearing paper-mesh hairnets on their heads and deep scowls on their faces.

"It's just a goddamned shame," said a tall man who said he'd been picking orders at FreshDirect for the last 18 months. "I went into the break room and it was like a funeral in there. All these people crying. It's dreadful what happened to them."

Company officials insisted they had nothing to do with the feds' sudden interest in their plant, although they were careful to avoid answering any questions directly. A spokeswoman sent e-mail messages stating that the company had asked ICE to delay its audit, given the pending union election, which is scheduled for December 22 and 23, but had been denied. Any suggestion that the company had invited the feds in the door to thwart the union election, said the statement, was "outrageous."

Maybe so, but the feds' audit is still a stunning coincidence. ICE is a law-enforcement agency, and officials were typically shy about talking, except to note that the agency conducts regular and random screenings at workplaces around the country.

"While it is ICE policy to neither confirm or deny any aspect of an investigation, this is part of a national workplace initiative and is coincidental to any local labor dispute," said agency spokesman Mark Thorn.

Whether the feds simply stumbled across FreshDirect or got a knowing tip, the impact of having hundreds of longtime workers running out the door is hardly a help for the union's chances.

"People were going to vote for the union, but I don't think they will now," said another worker, watching the Teamsters picket line. "Not with this going on. They'll be too scared."

If so, it won't be the first time in FreshDirect's brief labor-relations history that it has gotten lucky. Armed with high-priced legal help, the firm successfully defeated two organizing drives by separate Teamster locals seeking to sign up its 500 delivery workers, most of whom make a few dollars more an hour than the warehouse workers. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, along came Local 348S of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a catch-all union that represents everyone from nursing-home workers to garage attendants and which has long been angrily accused by other unions of offering employers what are called "sweetheart contracts." Such contracts give companies a safe harbor that protects them from other unions, while demanding little in economic benefits.

Within a few weeks, Local 348S had won a representation election, and a few months later it had a signed contract, lasting for all of five years. Anthony Fazio Jr., the local's secretary treasurer, said his union waged a tough fight to win recognition, though some plant workers reported that company officials had openly encouraged workers to sign up with the union.

Whatever its genesis, the new contract didn't bring the kind of economic justice that unions like to brag about. It includes no minimum starting wage but has a maximum that caps the highest wages the company must pay at $12 to $18. Fazio said that was unimportant. "What I know is when they get into the union, they get increases," he said in an interview at the local's offices in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Those raises total $2.55 over the life of the contract.

On the other hand, the union's officers do quite well. Fazio's father, Anthony Fazio Sr., earned $256,000 last year as local president, plus an added $81,000 in expenses. Fazio Jr. earned $170,000, as did his cousin, John Fazio Jr., who serves as vice president.

Last summer, after Teamsters Local 805 had started signing up warehouse workers, Fazio's union announced that this was their turf and demanded that the Teamsters back off. Teamsters leader Pope said nothing doing. On a couple days before Christmas, the plant workers that remain after last week's massacre will get to vote on the matter. They can pick one of the two competing unions, or they can vote for no union at all. It has not been what anyone could call a fair fight.


5) A Pause From Death
December 20, 2007

The United Nations General Assembly voted on Tuesday for a global moratorium on the death penalty. The resolution was nonbinding; its symbolic weight made barely a ripple in the news ocean of the United States, where governments’ right to kill a killer is enshrined in law and custom.

But for those who have been trying to move the world away from lethal revenge as government policy, this was a milestone. The resolution failed repeatedly in the 1990s, but this time the vote was 104 to 54, with 29 nations abstaining. Progress has come in Europe and Africa. Nations like Senegal, Burundi, Gabon — even Rwanda, shamed by genocide — have decided to reject the death penalty, as official barbarism.

The United States, as usual, lined up on the other side, with Iran, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Iraq. Together this blood brotherhood accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s executions, according to Amnesty International. These countries’ devotion to their sovereignty is rigid, as is their perverse faith in execution as a criminal deterrent and an instrument of civilized justice. But out beyond Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Myanmar, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, there are growing numbers who expect better of humanity.

Many are not nations or states but groups of regular people, organizations like the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic movement begun in Italy whose advocacy did much to bring about this week’s successful vote in the General Assembly.

They are motivated by hope — and there is even some in the United States. The Supreme Court will soon hear debate on the cruelty of execution by lethal injection. On Monday, New Jersey became the first state in 40 years to abolish its death penalty.

That event, too, left much of this country underwhelmed. But overseas, the votes in Trenton and the United Nations were treated as glorious news. Rome continued a tradition to mark victories against capital punishment: it bathed the Colosseum, where Christians once were fed to lions, in golden light.


6) Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis
By Dana FordFri
Dec 21, 8:18 AM ET

Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.

The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.

While no current residents claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree that tent city is a symptom of the wider economic downturn. And it's just a matter of time before foreclosed families end up at tent city, local housing experts say.

"They don't hit the streets immediately," said activist Jane Mercer. Most families can find transitional housing in a motel or with friends before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit tent city when they really bottom out."

Steve, 50, who declined to give his last name, moved to tent city four months ago. He gets social security payments, but cannot work and said rents are too high.

"House prices are going down, but the rentals are sky-high," said Steve. "If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a place to go."


Nationally, foreclosures are at an all-time high. Filings are up nearly 100 percent from a year ago, according to the data firm RealtyTrac. Officials say that as many as half a million people could lose their homes as adjustable mortgage rates rise over the next two years.

California ranks second in the nation for foreclosure filings -- one per 88 households last quarter. Within California, San Bernardino county in the Inland Empire is worse -- one filing for every 43 households, according to RealtyTrac.

Maryanne Hernandez bought her dream house in San Bernardino in 2003 and now risks losing it after falling four months behind on mortgage payments.

"It's not just us. It's all over," said Hernandez, who lives in a neighborhood where most families are struggling to meet payments and many have lost their homes.

She has noticed an increase in crime since the foreclosures started. Her house was robbed, her kids' bikes were stolen and she worries about what type of message empty houses send.

The pattern is cropping up in communities across the country, like Cleveland, Ohio, where Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program, said there are entire blocks of homes in Cleveland where 60 or 70 percent of houses are boarded up.

"I don't think there are enough police to go after criminals holed up in those houses, squatting or doing drug deals or whatever," Wiseman said.

"And it's not just a problem of a neighborhood filled with people squatting in the vacant houses, it's the people left behind, who have to worry about people taking siding off your home or breaking into your house while you're sleeping."

Health risks are also on the rise. All those empty swimming pools in California's Inland Empire have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can transmit the sometimes deadly West Nile virus, Riverside County officials say.


But it is not just homeowners who are hit by the foreclosure wave. People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, more expensive market as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean Beil, senior vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities USA.

"Folks who would have been in a house before are now in an apartment and folks that would have been in an apartment, now can't afford it," said Beil. "It has a trickle-down effect."

For cities, foreclosures can trigger a range of short-term costs, like added policing, inspection and code enforcement. These expenses can be significant, said Lt. Scott Patterson with the San Bernardino Police Department, but the larger concern is that vacant properties lower home values and in the long-run, decrease tax revenues.

And it all comes at a time when municipalities are ill-equipped to respond. High foreclosure rates and declining home values are sapping property tax revenues, a key source of local funding to tackle such problems.

Earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush rolled out a plan to slow foreclosures by freezing the interest rates on some loans. But for many in these parts, the intervention is too little and too late.

Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, said his organization is overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle the volume of people seeking help.

"We feel helpless," said Sawa. "Obviously, it's a local problem because it's in our backyard, but the solution is not local."

(Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ohio; Editing by Mary Milliken and Eddie Evans)


7) Nightmare Before Christmas
Op-Ed Columnist
“For the very wealthy, of course, it’s been a different story. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the after-tax income of the top 1 percent rose 228 percent from 1979 through 2005.” December 22, 2007

Christmastime is bonus time on Wall Street, and the Gucci set has been blessed with another record harvest.

Forget the turbulence in the financial markets and the subprime debacle. Forget the dark clouds of a possible recession. Bloomberg News tells us that the top securities firms are handing out nearly $38 billion in seasonal bonuses, the highest total ever.

But there’s a reason to temper the celebration, if only out of respect for an old friend who’s not doing too well. Even as the Wall Streeters are high-fiving and ordering up record shipments of Champagne and caviar, the American dream is on life-support.

I had a conversation the other day with Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. He mentioned a poll of working families that had shown that their belief in that mythical dream that has sustained so many generations for so long is fading faster than sunlight on a December afternoon.

The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Change to Win labor federation, found that only 16 percent of respondents believed that their children’s generation would be better off financially than their own. While some respondents believed that the next generation would fare roughly the same as this one, nearly 50 percent held the exceedingly gloomy view that today’s children would be “worse off” when the time comes for them to enter the world of work and raise their own families.

That absence of optimism is positively un-American.

“These are parents who cannot see where the jobs of the future are that will allow their kids to have a better life than they had,” said Mr. Stern. “And they’re not wrong. That’s the problem.”

Record bonuses on Wall Street at a time when ordinary working Americans are filled with anxiety about their economic future are signs that the trickle-down phenomenon that was supposed to have benefited everyone never happened.

The rich, boosted by the not-so-invisible hand of the corporate ideologues in government, have done astonishingly well in recent decades, while the rest of the population has tended to tread water economically, or drown.

A study released last month by the Pew Charitable Trusts noted that “for most Americans, seeing that one’s children are better off than oneself is the essence of living the American dream.” But for the past 40 years, men in their 30s, prime family-raising age, have found it difficult to outdistance their dads economically.

As the Pew study put it: “Earnings of men in their 30s have remained surprisingly flat over the past four decades.” Family incomes have improved during that time largely because of the wholesale entrance of women into the work force.

For the very wealthy, of course, it’s been a different story. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the after-tax income of the top 1 percent rose 228 percent from 1979 through 2005.

What seems to be happening now is that working Americans, and that includes the middle class, have exhausted much of their capacity to tread water. Wives and mothers are already working. Mortgages have been refinanced and tremendous amounts of home equity drained. And families have taken on debt loads — for cars, for college tuition, for medical treatment — that would buckle the knees of the strongest pack animals.

According to Demos, a policy research group in New York, “American families are using credit cards to bridge the gaps created by stagnant wages and higher costs of living.” Americans owe nearly $900 billion on their credit cards.

We’re running out of smoke and mirrors. The fundamental problem, the problem that is destroying the dream, is the extreme inequality pounded into the system by the corporate crowd and its handmaidens in government.

As Mr. Stern said: “To me, the issue in America is not a question of wealth or growth, it’s a question of distribution.”

When such an overwhelming portion of the economic benefits are skewed toward a tiny portion of the population — as has happened in the U.S. over the past few decades — it’s impossible for the society as a whole not to suffer.

Americans work extremely hard and are amazingly productive. But without the clout of a strong union movement, and arrayed against the mighty power of the corporations and the federal government, they don’t receive even a reasonably fair share of the economic benefits from their hard work or productivity.

Instead of celebrating bonuses this Christmas season, too many American workers are looking with dread toward 2008, worried about their rising levels of debt, or whether they will be able to hang on to a job with few or no benefits or how to tell their kids that they won’t be able to help with the cost of college.

It’s not the stuff of which dreams are made.

Gail Collins is off today.


8) A 1950 Plan: Arrest 12,000, Suspend Due Process
December 23, 2007

A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans that he suspected of disloyalty.

Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons.

Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau.

The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote.

“In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” it said.

Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has been a fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush administration’s decision to hold suspects for years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has made habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress and the Supreme Court today.

The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the F.B.I. from 1924 to 1972, stretched that clause to include “threatened invasion” or “attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory.”

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush issued an order that effectively allowed the United States to hold suspects indefinitely without a hearing, a lawyer, or formal charges. In September 2006, Congress passed a law suspending habeas corpus for anyone deemed an “unlawful enemy combatant.”

But the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of American citizens to seek a writ of habeas corpus. This month the court heard arguments on whether about 300 foreigners held at Guantánamo Bay had the same rights. It is expected to rule by next summer.

Hoover’s plan was declassified Friday as part of a collection of cold-war documents concerning intelligence issues from 1950 to 1955. The collection makes up a new volume of “The Foreign Relations of the United States,” a series that by law has been published continuously by the State Department since the Civil War.

Hoover’s plan called for “the permanent detention” of the roughly 12,000 suspects at military bases as well as in federal prisons. The F.B.I., he said, had found that the arrests it proposed in New York and California would cause the prisons there to overflow.

So the bureau had arranged for “detention in Military facilities of the individuals apprehended” in those states, he wrote.

The prisoners eventually would have had a right to a hearing under the Hoover plan. The hearing board would have been a panel comprised of one judge and two citizens. But the hearings “will not be bound by the rules of evidence,” his letter noted.

The only modern precedent for Hoover’s plan was the Palmer Raids of 1920, named after the attorney general at the time. The raids, executed in large part by Hoover’s intelligence division, swept up thousands of people suspected of being communists and radicals.

Previously declassified documents show that the F.B.I.’s “security index” of suspect Americans predated the cold war. In March 1946, Hoover sought the authority to detain Americans “who might be dangerous” if the United States went to war. In August 1948, Attorney General Tom Clark gave the F.B.I. the power to make a master list of such people.

Hoover’s July 1950 letter was addressed to Sidney W. Souers, who had served as the first director of central intelligence and was then a special national-security assistant to Truman. The plan also was sent to the executive secretary of the National Security Council, whose members were the president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and the military chiefs.

In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law authorizing the detention of “dangerous radicals” if the president declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal.


9) Ruling Lets Firms Bar Union E-mail
December 23, 2007

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employers have the right to prohibit workers from using the company’s e-mail system to send out union-related messages, a decision that could hamper communications between labor unions and their membership.

In a 3-to-2 ruling on Friday, the labor board held that it was legal for employers to bar union-related e-mail so long as employers had a policy barring employees from sending e-mail for “non-job-related solicitations” for any outside organization.

The ruling is a significant setback to the nation’s labor unions, which argued that e-mail systems have become a modern-day gathering place where employees should be able to communicate freely with co-workers to discuss work-related matters of mutual concern.

The ruling involved The Register-Guard, a newspaper in Eugene, Ore., and e-mail messages sent in 2000 by Susi Prozanski, a newspaper employee who was president of the Newspaper Guild’s unit there. She sent an e-mail message about a union rally and two others urging employees to wear green to show support for the union’s position in contract negotiations.

During the years that this case was pending, many companies were uncertain whether they could bar union-related e-mail. But the labor board’s decision gives companies nationwide the green light to flatly prohibit union-related e-mails as part of an overall non-solicitation policy.

“An employer has a ‘basic property right’ to regulate and restrict employee use of company property,” the board’s majority wrote. “The respondent’s communications system, including its e-mail system, is the respondent’s property.”

Labor leaders attacked the decision, saying that it is part of a recent string of labor board decisions that have favored employers and cut back the rights of unions and workers.

“Anyone with e-mail knows that this is how employees communicate with each other in today’s workplace,” said Jonathan Hiatt, general counsel for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “Outrageously in allowing employers to ban such communications for union purposes, the Bush labor board has again struck at the heart of what the nation’s labor laws were intended to protect — the right of employees to discuss working conditions and other matters of mutual concern.”

The two board members who dissented asserted that the employees’ interest in communicating with other employees about union activity and other collective concerns should, with regard to the e-mail system, outweigh the employers’ property interest.

The two dissenters wrote, “The majority erroneously treats the employer’s asserted “property interest “ in e-mail — a questionable interest here, in any event — as paramount, and fails to give due consideration to employee rights and the appropriate balancing of the parties’ legitimate interests.”

The majority’s decision was dated Dec. 16, just two days before the board’s chairman, Robert J. Battista, stepped down because his term expired. President Bush has not renominated Mr. Battista, with many Democrats threatening not to reconfirm him because he has been part of so many anti-union rulings. But several Republican and Democratic officials said in recent weeks that they expected the president to seek to keep him as chairman through a recess appointment.

The board overturned several previous decisions it had made in ruling that an employer does not illegally discriminate against pro-union speech if it lets employees use e-mail for personal communications but bars employees from using e-mails for solicitations for outside organizations, whether a union or a charity.

Adopting the reasoning of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involving two cases concerning the use of employer bulletin boards, the labor board distinguished between personal nonwork-related postings like for-sale notices and wedding announcements, on the one hand, and group or organizational” postings like union materials on the other.

In many past cases, the labor board had ruled that employers engaged in illegal anti-union discriminations if they barred workers from engaging in union-related speech on bulletin boards or telephones when they allowed workers to communicate on bulletin boards or telephones about other matters.

In its new ruling, the board’s majority wrote that employers can allow workers to use e-mail for personal communications while barring them from organizational-related communications. The board majority redefined the meaning of discrimination and wrote that the seventh circuit’s approach “better reflects the principle that discrimination means the unequal treatment of equals.”

The two dissenters wrote, “Given the unique characteristics of e-mail and the way it has transformed modern communication, it is simply absurd to find an e-mail system analogous to a telephone, a television set, a bulletin board.”


10) 9/11 Panel Study Finds That C.I.A. Withheld Tapes
December 22, 2007

WASHINGTON — A review of classified documents by former members of the Sept. 11 commission shows that the panel made repeated and detailed requests to the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 and 2004 for documents and other information about the interrogation of operatives of Al Qaeda, and were told by a top C.I.A. official that the agency had “produced or made available for review” everything that had been requested.

The review was conducted earlier this month after the disclosure that in November 2005, the C.I.A. destroyed videotapes documenting the interrogations of two Qaeda operatives.

A seven-page memorandum prepared by Philip D. Zelikow, the panel’s former executive director, concluded that “further investigation is needed” to determine whether the C.I.A.’s withholding of the tapes from the commission violated federal law.

In interviews this week, the two chairmen of the commission, Lee H. Hamilton and Thomas H. Kean, said their reading of the report had convinced them that the agency had made a conscious decision to impede the Sept. 11 commission’s inquiry.

Mr. Kean said the panel would provide the memorandum to the federal prosecutors and congressional investigators who are trying to determine whether the destruction of the tapes or withholding them from the courts and the commission was improper.

A C.I.A. spokesman said that the agency had been prepared to give the Sept. 11 commission the interrogation videotapes, but that commission staff members never specifically asked for interrogation videos.

The review by Mr. Zelikow does not assert that the commission specifically asked for videotapes, but it quotes from formal requests by the commission to the C.I.A. that sought “documents,” “reports” and “information” related to the interrogations.

Mr. Kean, a Republican and a former governor of New Jersey, said of the agency’s decision not to disclose the existence of the videotapes, “I don’t know whether that’s illegal or not, but it’s certainly wrong.” Mr. Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, said that the C.I.A. “clearly obstructed” the commission’s investigation.

A copy of the memorandum, dated Dec. 13, was obtained by The New York Times.

Among the statements that the memorandum suggests were misleading was an assertion made on June 29, 2004, by John E. McLaughlin, the deputy director of central intelligence, that the C.I.A. “has taken and completed all reasonable steps necessary to find the documents in its possession, custody or control responsive” to formal requests by the commission and “has produced or made available for review” all such documents.

Both Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton expressed anger after it was revealed this month that the tapes had been destroyed. However, the report by Mr. Zelikow gives them new evidence to buttress their views about the C.I.A.’s actions and is likely to put new pressure on the Bush administration over its handling of the matter. Mr. Zelikow served as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2005 to the end of 2006.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. McLaughlin said that agency officials had always been candid with the commission, and that information from the C.I.A. proved central to their work.

“We weren’t playing games with them, and we weren’t holding anything back,” he said. The memorandum recounts a December 2003 meeting between Mr. Kean, Mr. Hamilton and George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence. At the meeting, it says, Mr. Hamilton told Mr. Tenet that the C.I.A. should provide all relevant documents “even if the commission had not specifically asked for them.”

According to the memorandum, Mr. Tenet responded by alluding to several documents that he thought would be helpful to the commission, but made no mention of existing videotapes of interrogations.

The memorandum does not draw any conclusions about whether the withholding of the videotapes was unlawful, but it notes that federal law penalizes anyone who “knowingly and willfully” withholds or “covers up” a “material fact” from a federal inquiry or makes “any materially false statement” to investigators.

Mark Mansfield, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency had gone to “great lengths” to meet the commission’s requests, and that commission members had been provided with detailed information obtained from interrogations of agency detainees.

“Because it was thought the commission could ask about the tapes at some point, they were not destroyed while the commission was active,” Mr. Mansfield said.

Intelligence officials have said the tapes that were destroyed documented hundreds of hours of interrogations during 2002 of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, two Qaeda suspects who were taken into C.I.A. custody that year.

According to the memorandum from Mr. Zelikow, the commission’s interest in obtaining accounts from Qaeda detainees in C.I.A. custody grew out of its attempt to reconstruct the events leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Its requests for documents from the C.I.A. began in June 2003, when it first sought intelligence reports describing information obtained from prisoner interrogations, the memorandum said. It later made specific requests for documents, reports and information related to the interrogations of specific prisoners, including Abu Zubaydah and Mr. Nashiri.

In December 2003, the commission staff sought permission to interview the prisoners themselves, but was permitted instead to give questions to C.I.A. interrogators, who then posed the questions to the detainees. The commission concluded its work in June 2004, and in its final report, it praised several agencies, including the C.I.A., for their assistance.

Abbe D. Lowell, a veteran Washington lawyer who has defended clients accused of making false statements and of contempt of Congress, said the question of whether the agency had broken the law by omitting mention of the videotapes was “pretty complex,” but said he “wouldn’t rule it out.”

Because the requests were not subpoenas issued by a court or Congress, C.I.A. officials could not be held in contempt for failing to respond fully, Mr. Lowell said. Apart from that, however, it is a crime to make a false statement "in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch."

The Sept. 11 commission received its authority from both the White House and Congress.

On Friday, the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and to Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, asking them to preserve and produce to the committee all remaining video and audio recordings of “enhanced interrogations” of detainees in American custody.

Signed by Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, the letter asked for an extensive search of the White House, C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies to determine whether any other recordings existed of interrogation techniques “including but not limited to waterboarding.”

Government officials have said that the videos destroyed in 2005 were the only recordings of interrogations made by C.I.A. operatives, although in September government lawyers notified a federal judge in Virginia that the agency had recently found three audio and video recordings of detainees.

Intelligence officials have said that those tapes were not made by the C.I.A., but by foreign intelligence services.

Scott Shane contributed reporting.


11) Groceries on the Computer, and Immigrants in the Cold
December 22, 2007

For New Yorkers who crave onion-rosemary marmalade with their crostini, loathe the narrow aisles of the nearest supermarket or simply have no time to shop, Fresh Direct has been like a high-tech fantasy come true. With the touch of a computer mouse, it conjures up fresh, sophisticated groceries at the customer’s doorstep.

The company has grown in five years from a dot-com dream to a $200 million business, and its Web site features “celebrity shopping lists” from quintessentially New York figures like Spike Lee, Edward I. Koch and Cynthia Nixon, a star of “Sex and the City.”

But now an eruption of low-tech troubles is drawing a spotlight to what lies behind the computer screen. Last week, the company abruptly lost more than 100 of the roughly 900 employees at its huge plant in Long Island City, Queens, including many of its most experienced workers, when they learned that federal officials planned to check their immigration status.

It is battling not one, but two unions that want to represent the workers, with the election to be held this weekend. City labor leaders and several elected officials rallied at City Hall on Friday to accuse the company and immigration authorities of trying to block the union drive.

And when Fresh Direct held a job fair this week, though hundreds of applicants lined up in the cold, many lost interest as soon as they learned about the low starting pay and low-temperature workplace: $7.85 an hour to pick and pack groceries at night, in 38-degree chill, often for more than eight hours at a stretch. “They said, ‘Dress as warm as you can,’” reported one disenchanted applicant, Joy Brewster, 22, as she emerged from a group job interview with a toss of her head. “I don’t think so. I’d be stiff as a board.”

Another applicant, Eibar Amaya, 47, an immigrant from Colombia who is now a United States citizen, gave his verdict in succinct, if imperfect English: “Pay too little, no good.”

He now makes $12 an hour cleaning office bathrooms at night, he added in Spanish, and considering his legal status and valid driver’s license, he expected something better.

Such comments underscore what may not be evident to the online shopper: that Fresh Direct’s great successes — Internet efficiency, competitive prices, an array of locally grown produce and a loyal, well-heeled customer base — were built on a low-wage, transient work force that was anchored by illegal immigrants. And for all that, by its own account, the privately held company has yet to turn a profit for its investors.

“It’s definitely a very competitive business,” said Michael Garry, technology and logistics editor for Supermarket News, which covers the industry. “They’re just one of many employers that are taking advantage of these people. But that certainly is going to clash with their P.R. image.”

Jim Moore, the company’s senior vice president for business affairs, defended its record as an employer as well as its financial health. Fresh Direct has participated in a government Social Security verification system since 2004, he said, and had no idea that some employees’ documents were false.

Those who have left for fear of deportation now number about 100, he maintained, not 300, as organizers with Local 348S of the United Food and Commercial Workers insist.

He estimated the plant’s normal turnover at 45 to 50 percent each year, which he called “not particularly high.” And he said the job fair had produced more applicants than the company could possibly hire.

But among two dozen applicants who spoke with a reporter, only those with very limited options seemed undaunted by the job description — plying frigid miles of conveyor belts carrying tubs of products from far-flung departments to a central packing area.

One applicant hoping to be called back was Abdul Hakim, 33, who said he recently served four years in prison. Another, Nathaniel Griffins, 60, said he was living in a nearby veterans’ shelter and spent his mornings handing out free newspapers for $8.50 an hour. Like many other American-born and legal residents applying for work, they expressed sympathy for the illegal immigrants.

“Legal or not,” Mr. Griffins said, “people got to find a way to feed their families.”

Mr. Moore, the company vice president, acknowledged that many of the immigrant employees who fled, including butchers, kitchen workers and packers, had been with the company for three or four years and were among its most longstanding employees. Some had opposed unionization.

“They are very loyal folks who have been instrumental in helping us build the company,” he said. “It’s been incredibly hard for them and very, very sad for us.”

To union organizers, however, his expression of regret rang false.

Both the food workers’ local and Teamsters Local 805, the unions vying to represent plant workers, called the timing of the immigration audit highly suspect, and contended that under the immigration agency’s own guidelines, it should have been delayed until after the vote on a union.

Both accused the company of using the audit as its latest tactic in an aggressive campaign against the union drive, suggesting that management had called in the immigration authorities, in an effort to intimidate or drive away union supporters.

Mr. Moore denied that accusation, and turned it around by saying that some unions unable to win over workers had been known to try to improve their odds by summoning immigration officials.

But there was no lack of other theories for why Fresh Direct might have appeared on the radar of immigration officials: a call by a disgruntled native-born employee; retaliation by an angry competitor; or Fresh Direct’s high profile in the nation’s media capital, which might make it an appetizing target for the Bush administration, intent on publicizing more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws.

The accusations and confusion partly reflect the relative rarity of immigration enforcement in New York’s food industry.

Illegal immigrant employees abound in New York City’s 11,662 registered food stores — not to mention on the farms increasingly tapped as local suppliers of the tenderest arugula and tangiest goat cheese.

“On any given day, if immigration chose to, they could sweep into stores in any one of these five boroughs and literally take thousands and thousands of workers out,” said Pat Purcell, the director of special projects for the Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which has 23,000 members in the New York area, including the employees at Fairway markets, which emphasize freshness and selection to please the most finicky shoppers.

Full-time employees at Fairway, a family-run company with a long union history, earn at least $14.75 an hour, with generous benefits and time-and-a-half for overtime, Mr. Purcell said.

But in contrast, dozens of upscale or specialty food stores are more obvious offenders than Fresh Direct, he added, because they pay their lowest-rung employees, often Mexicans, in cash, below minimum wage, without asking for any documents.

Older supermarkets in the city, too, have had their share of scandals. Several years ago, Gristedes and Food Emporium agreed to $3 million settlements after the state attorney general accused them and their delivery companies of paying some deliverymen, many of them Africans, just over a dollar an hour.

As for Fresh Direct’s future, forecasts are contradictory. Nationally, only 1 percent of groceries are bought online, and such transactions are expected to nearly double by 2011, to $10.5 billion. But Fresh Direct keeps losing money, said Lawrence Sarf, the president of F & D Reports, a retail consulting company in Great Neck, N.Y.

“It has beautiful products, state-of-the-art equipment, and the best executives to raise money,” Mr. Sarf said. “But it doesn’t work.”

In its campaign against the Teamsters this summer, the company stated in a flier, “We have yet to have a profitable year.”

Mr. Moore now puts it differently. “We’ve taken the profits,” he said, “and we’ve plowed them into growing the company. Our investors are very bullish on what we’re doing.”

Most customers seem bullish, too, despite expressions of remorse about the fate of illegal immigrant employees.

“We’re all so liberal, but we’re really taking advantage of all these people,” said Betsy Jacobs, who described herself as a busy mother in her 40s who depends on Fresh Direct. “As a New Yorker, I really want to be helping these people, not hurting them.”

Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, the company’s first commercial spokesman, took a tougher tone. “The law should be enforced,” he said. “If there are no jobs, the illegal aliens will go home.”

“I am not for keeping prices down by underpaying the people who do the work,” he added. “Unions should be the norm.”

Actually, Mr. Koch confessed, he shops at Fairway and Citarella for his everyday needs, and uses Fresh Direct for large holiday orders. “Their produce is superb,” he said. “But I think they have to pay going rates for labor.”


12) Crisis may make 1929 look a 'walk in the park'
Last Updated: 11:40am GMT 23/12/2007

As central banks continue to splash their cash over the system, so
far to little effect, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues things are
rapidly spiralling out of their control

Twenty billion dollars here, $20bn there, and a lush half-trillion
from the European Central Bank at give-away rates for Christmas.
Buckets of liquidity are being splashed over the North Atlantic
banking system, so far with meagre or fleeting effects.

As the credit paralysis stretches through its fifth month, a chorus
of economists has begun to warn that the world's central banks are
fighting the wrong war, and perhaps risk a policy error of epochal

"Liquidity doesn't do anything in this situation," says Anna
Schwartz, the doyenne of US monetarism and life-time student (with
Milton Friedman) of the Great Depression.

"It cannot deal with the underlying fear that lots of firms are going
bankrupt. The banks and the hedge funds have not fully acknowledged
who is in trouble. That is the critical issue," she adds.

Lenders are hoarding the cash, shunning peers as if all were sub-
prime lepers. Spreads on three-month Euribor and Libor - the
interbank rates used to price contracts and Club Med mortgages - are
stuck at 80 basis points even after the latest blitz. The monetary
screw has tightened by default.

York professor Peter Spencer, chief economist for the ITEM Club, says
the global authorities have just weeks to get this right, or trigger

"The central banks are rapidly losing control. By not cutting
interest rates nearly far enough or fast enough, they are allowing
the money markets to dictate policy. We are long past worrying about
moral hazard," he says.

"They still have another couple of months before this starts
imploding. Things are very unstable and can move incredibly fast. I
don't think the central banks are going to make a major policy error,
but if they do, this could make 1929 look like a walk in the park,"
he adds.

The Bank of England knows the risk. Markets director Paul Tucker says
the crisis has moved beyond the collapse of mortgage securities, and
is now eating into the bedrock of banking capital. "We must try to
avoid the vicious circle in which tighter liquidity conditions, lower
asset values, impaired capital resources, reduced credit supply, and
slower aggregate demand feed back on each other," he says.

New York's Federal Reserve chief Tim Geithner echoed the words,
warning of an "adverse self-reinforcing dynamic", banker-speak for a
downward spiral. The Fed has broken decades of practice by inviting
all US depositary banks to its lending window, bringing dodgy
mortgage securities as collateral.

Quietly, insiders are perusing an obscure paper by Fed staffers David
Small and Jim Clouse. It explores what can be done under the Federal
Reserve Act when all else fails.

Section 13 (3) allows the Fed to take emergency action when banks
become "unwilling or very reluctant to provide credit". A vote by
five governors can - in "exigent circumstances" - authorise the bank
to lend money to anybody, and take upon itself the credit risk. This
clause has not been evoked since the Slump.

Yet still the central banks shrink from seriously grasping the rate-
cut nettle. Understandably so. They are caught between the Scylla of
the debt crunch and the Charybdis of inflation. It is not yet certain
which is the more powerful force.

America's headline CPI screamed to 4.3 per cent in November. This may
be a rogue figure, the tail effects of an oil, commodity, and food
price spike. If so, the Fed missed its chance months ago to prepare
the markets for such a case. It is now stymied.

This has eerie echoes of Japan in late-1990, when inflation rose to 4
per cent on a mini price-surge across Asia. As the Bank of Japan
fretted about an inflation scare, the country's financial system
tipped into the abyss.

In theory, Japan had ample ammo to fight a bust. Interest rates were
6 per cent in February 1990. In reality, the country was engulfed by
the tsunami of debt deflation quicker than the bank dared to cut
rates. In the end, rates fell to zero. Still it was not enough.

When a credit system implodes, it can feed on itself with lightning
speed. Current rates in America (4.25 per cent), Britain (5.5 per
cent), and the eurozone (4 per cent) have scope to fall a long way,
but this may prove less of a panacea than often assumed. The risk is
a Japanese denouement across the Anglo-Saxon world and half Europe.

Bernard Connolly, global strategist at Banque AIG, said the Fed and
allies had scripted a Greek tragedy by under-pricing credit long ago
and seem paralysed as post-bubble chickens now come home to roost.
"The central banks are trying to dissociate financial problems from
the real economy. They are pushing the world nearer and nearer to the
edge of depression. We hope they will eventually be dragged kicking
and screaming to do enough, but time is running out," he said.

Glance at the more or less healthy stock markets in New York, London,
and Frankfurt, and you might never know that this debate is raging.
Hopes that Middle Eastern and Asian wealth funds will plug every hole
lifts spirits.

Glance at the debt markets and you hear a different tale. Not a
single junk bond has been issued in Europe since August. Every
attempt failed.

Europe's corporate bond issuance fell 66pc in the third quarter to
$396bn (BIS data). Emerging market bonds plummeted 75pc.

"The kind of upheaval observed in the international money markets
over the past few months has never been witnessed in history," says
Thomas Jordan, a Swiss central bank governor.

"The sub-prime mortgage crisis hit a vital nerve of the international
financial system," he says.

The market for asset-backed commercial paper - where Europe's lenders
from IKB to the German doctors and dentists borrowed through Irish-
based "conduits" to play US housing debt - has shrunk for 18 weeks in
a row. It has shed $404bn or 36pc. As lenders refuse to roll over
credit, banks must take these wrecks back on their books. There lies
the rub.

Professor Spencer says capital ratios have fallen far below the 8 per
cent minimum under Basel rules. "If they can't raise capital, they
will have to shrink balance sheets," he said.

Tim Congdon, a banking historian at the London School of Economics,
said the rot had seeped through the foundations of British lending.

Average equity capital has fallen to 3.2 per cent (nearer 2.5 per
cent sans "goodwill"), compared with 5 per cent seven years ago. "How
on earth did the Financial Services Authority let this happen?" he asks.

Worse, changes pushed through by Gordon Brown in 1998 have caused the
de facto cash and liquid assets ratio to collapse from post-war
levels above 30 per cent to near zero. "Brown hadn't got a clue what
he was doing," he says.

The risk for Britain - as property buckles - is a twin banking and
fiscal squeeze. The UK budget deficit is already 3 per cent of GDP at
the peak of the economic cycle, shockingly out of line with its
peers. America looks frugal by comparison.

Credit paralysis

Maastricht rules may force the Government to raise taxes or slash
spending into a recession. This way lies crucifixion. The UK current
account deficit was 5.7 per cent of GDP in the second quarter, the
highest in half a century. Gordon Brown has disarmed us on every front.

In Europe, the ECB has its own distinct headache. Inflation is 3.1
per cent, the highest since monetary union. This is already enough to
set off a political storm in Germany. A Dresdner poll found that 71
per cent of German women want the Deutschmark restored.

With Brünhilde fuming about Brot prices, the ECB has to watch its
step. Frankfurt cannot easily cut rates to cushion the blow as
housing bubbles pop across southern Europe. It must resort to tricks
instead. Hence the half trillion gush last week at rates of 70bp
below Euribor, a camouflaged move to help Spain.

The ECB's little secret is that it must never allow a Northern Rock
failure in the eurozone because this would expose the reality that
there is no EU treasury and no EU lender of last resort behind the
system. Would German taxpayers foot the bill for a Spanish bail-out
in the way that Kentish men and maids must foot the bill for
Newcastle's Rock? Nobody knows. This is where eurozone solidarity
stretches to snapping point. It is why the ECB has showered the
system with liquidity from day one of this crisis.

Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS, HSBC and others have stepped forward
to reveal their losses. At some point, enough of the dirty linen will
be on the line to let markets discern the shape of the debacle. We
are not there yet.

Goldman Sachs caused shock last month when it predicted that total
crunch losses would reach $500bn, leading to a $2 trillion
contraction in lending as bank multiples kick into reverse. This
already seems humdrum.

"Our counterparties are telling us that losses may reach $700bn,"
says Rob McAdie, head of credit at Barclays Capital. Where will it
end? The big banks face a further $200bn of defaults in commercial
property. On it goes.

The International Monetary Fund still predicts blistering global
growth of 5 per cent next year. If so, markets should roar back to
life in January, as though the crunch were but a nightmare. There
again, the credit soufflé may be hard to raise a second time.


13) Interrogation Tricks Under Scrutiny After Ruling
December 23, 2007

Lies. Trickery. Deceit. For detectives interrogating murder suspects, they are part of the standard playbook.

And they are tactics that were clearly used by detectives who interviewed Martin H. Tankleff in 1988 hours after he called 911 to report finding both his parents stabbed and badly beaten in their Long Island home. Both parents died from their wounds.

Mr. Tankleff confessed and was convicted of their murders, and he served 17 years in prison before a state appeals court ruled on Friday that he may have been wrongly convicted, ordering a new trial.

While the court did not say that the detectives acted inappropriately, its decision renewed doubts about how Mr. Tankleff’s confession was obtained. In so doing, the ruling tapped into a longstanding conversation among legal experts and the law enforcement community about how much deception is too much.

Mr. Tankleff, now 36, remained in prison Saturday. But the Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas J. Spota, said that Mr. Tankleff could soon get a bail hearing that could lead to his release.

Somewhat cryptically, Mr. Spota also told reporters that he had never said that Mr. Tankleff was guilty in the deaths of his parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff.

In comparison with the ruses employed in Mr. Tankleff’s interrogation, most detectives’ tricks are relatively mundane, and are familiar to any casual viewer of television crime shows. There is the frequently used “we have witnesses” deceit, law enforcement experts said, and assurances that surveillance camera images can be produced. There is the common psychological ploy in which detectives try to win a suspect’s trust by confiding that the victim was a bad person who deserved what he got.

“Trickery and deceit are permissible and acceptable when dealing with a suspect in a murder case,” said Vernon J. Geberth, a former commander of the Bronx Homicide Task Force for the New York Police Department and an author and lecturer on homicide investigation techniques. “Sometimes you only get one shot in these cases, and people don’t give up information unless they have to.”

In the case of Mr. Tankleff, who was 17 at the time of his parents’ murders and who quickly recanted his confession, one detective’s ruse had an especially dramatic flair. He faked a phone conversation with a hospital worker that Mr. Tankleff could hear, saying, “No kidding, he came out?” The detective then told Mr. Tankleff that his father had regained consciousness briefly and had identified his son as his attacker. The performance was so convincing that another detective testified that he believed the call was real.

Detectives also told Mr. Tankleff that his hair had been found in his mother’s hands after she was attacked, and that a “humidity test” had been taken in a shower to establish that Mr. Tankleff had used it to wash off his parents’ blood and bodily fluids. The hair was not found, nor was a test conducted on the shower.

According to court documents, Mr. Tankleff asked investigators whether he could have blacked out during the attacks, then said that it wasn’t him, “but it was like another Marty Tankleff that killed them.” Then he asked, “Could I be possessed?” A detective responded, “Marty, I think that’s what happened to you.”

Finally, Mr. Tankleff said, “It’s coming to me.” He confessed to the attacks, but refused to sign a written confession, and then disavowed it.

A 1993 decision by the same court, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, denied Mr. Tankleff a new trial and found no fault with the lead detective in the case, K. James McCready, of the Suffolk County Police Department, who staged the telephone call.

“The type of trickery employed by Detective McCready in this case was not likely to provoke an unreliable confession; on the contrary, we find that the factual reliability of the defendant’s confession was, if anything, enhanced,” the 1993 opinion said. The court rejected Mr. Tankleff’s claim that he had been brainwashed.

In its ruling on Friday, the appellate court said detectives had “utilized a ruse” in interviewing Mr. Tankleff. It did not offer an opinion on the validity of the 1988 interrogation. But the ruling did say that the nature of the confession, “how the confession was obtained” and the quick recanting, combined with circumstantial evidence produced during the last few years that pointed to other suspects, were enough for a new trial.

The Suffolk County district attorney’s office said it might appeal the ruling and had no intention of dropping the case against Mr. Tankleff.

However, Mr. Spota said Saturday, “I never said that Martin Tankleff killed his parents.

“What I have consistently said is that I do not believe the people the Tankleff team said killed these people killed these people,” he added, referring to other potential suspects that Mr. Tankleff’s lawyers have named.

Mr. Spota, who was not district attorney when Mr. Tankleff was convicted, did not elaborate on his statement. Barry J. Pollack, one of Mr. Tankleff’s lawyers, said he hoped that Mr. Spota meant that he was “going to take a fresh look” at the case and decide that retrying Mr. Tankleff was unwarranted.

The decision on Friday, while it does nothing to limit what detectives can say when the questioning people suspected of violent crimes, comes at a time when civil libertarians are bringing attention to a long list of murder convictions that have been overturned, sometimes years after the fact, based on DNA evidence. Frequently, these advocates say, the convictions occurred after the defendants made false confessions.

“The rules today are pretty much that the police can do what they want,” said Stephen A. Saltzburg, a professor of law at George Washington University and chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association.

Many people “will think the case on Long Island is one in a million,” he said, “but it is much more common than that.”

Mr. Saltzburg said that the bar association had urged police departments to videotape the interrogations in cases involving violent crime so that the courts could review what ruses had been used, but that few had done so.

He said one clear limit exists: Detectives cannot threaten physical harm. “You can’t say, ‘I’ll beat you up’ or ‘I’ll lock you up with a serial killer,’” Mr. Saltzburg said. He said common tactics that are uncontested by defense lawyers or appeals courts include telling suspects that their fingerprints were found at the crime scene or that they were implicated by an accomplice.

Mr. Pollack, the lawyer for Mr. Tankleff , said, “The more elaborate the ruse, the more likely any confession that results is likely to be false, which is what happened in this case.”

Tim Motz, a spokesman for the Suffolk County police, declined on Saturday to comment on the Tankleff case or on the department’s interrogation practices.

Law enforcement experts said the use of ruses had rarely been challenged by defense lawyers, the courts or the public since the 1966 United States Supreme Court ruling that required Miranda warnings, in which people are told of their right to remain silent when they are placed in police custody.

Mr. Saltzburg said defense challenges usually concerned whether the police complied with the Miranda rules instead of the truthfulness of what detectives said in an interrogation setting.

“Most people believe Miranda provides as much protection as the government should provide,” he said. “They think interrogators should be given some leeway, and they don’t want to tie the hands of the police.”

Some courts and police agencies have sought to clarify the interrogation rules. In one example, a state court in Florida reversed an armed robbery conviction in 2005 after the convicted man said he had confessed in the face of a ruse. The court said the police had probable cause to charge the man in one robbery, but detectives told him that he would be charged with 15 of them unless he confessed to the one.

“Generally, deception is an acceptable interview and interrogation technique as long as it doesn’t amount to ‘police overreaching,’” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in an advisory opinion to police departments. Before using a ruse, it advised detectives to consult with legal advisers or an assistant state attorney.

Mr. Geberth, the former homicide detective, said the problems with trying to trick suspects had more to do with a detective’s need to maintain credibility in the courtroom than with fending off a challenge by defense lawyers. Generally, he said, his advice to detectives is, “You don’t make a false claim of evidence.”

Nonetheless, he said, ruses are often necessary during interrogations of murder suspects, who often cling to false accounts or alibis.

“I believe in trickery and deceit unless you are making an innocent person confess,” he said. “Most people who are charged with homicide probably did it.”

But Mr. Saltzburg said detectives and other police officials were sometimes swayed too much by the limited evidence that is available to them and by the belief that the person under suspicion must be guilty.

“Even after cases are cleared by DNA, it is not uncommon for a detective to say, ‘I know he did it,’” Mr. Saltzburg said. “They are true believers.”

Bruce Lambert and Nate Schweber contributed reporting.


14) In Kentucky’s Teeth, Toll of Poverty and Neglect
December 24, 2007

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — In the 18 years he has been visiting nursing homes, seeing patients in his private practice and, more recently, driving his mobile dental clinic through Appalachian hills and hollows, Dr. Edwin E. Smith has seen the extremes of neglect.

He has seen the shame of a 14-year-old girl who would not lift her head because she had lost most of her teeth from malnutrition, and the do-it-yourself pride of an elderly mountain man who, unable to afford a dentist, pulled his own infected teeth with a pair of pliers and a swig of peroxide.

He has seen the brutal result of angry husbands hitting their wives and the end game of pill-poppers who crack healthy teeth, one by one, to get dentists to prescribe pain medications.

But mostly he has seen everyday people who are too busy putting food on the table to worry about oral hygiene. Many of them savor their sweets, drink well water without fluoride and long ago started ruining their teeth by chewing tobacco and smoking.

Dr. Smith has a rare window on a state with the highest proportion of adults under 65 without teeth, where about half the population does not have dental insurance. He struggles to counter the effects of the drastic shortage of dentists in rural areas and oral hygiene habits that have been slow to change.

“The level of need is hard to believe until you see it up close,” said Dr. Smith, who runs a free dental clinic at a high school in one of Kentucky’s poorest counties. He also provides free care to about half of the patients who visit his private practice in Barbourville.

Kentucky is among the worst states nationally in the proportion of low-income residents served by free or subsidized dental clinics, and less than a fourth of the state’s dentists regularly take Medicaid, according to 2005 federal data.

Until August 2006, when the system was revamped, the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate was also one of the lowest in the country. Experts say this contributed to the shortage of dentists in poorer and more rural areas.

The state dental director, Dr. Julie Watts McKee, said that last year, Medicaid reimbursement for children’s dental services was raised by about 30 percent.

But even with this increase, which was paid for by cutting orthodontic benefits, reimbursement fees remain about 50 percent below market rate, said Dr. Ken Rich, the state’s dental director for Medicaid. And for adults, Dr. Rich said, they are about 65 percent below market rate.

“Not much has changed over the years here, really,” said Glen D. Anderson, who for two decades has made dentures in Corbin, Ky. He sells a pair of dentures for $400 that many dentists sell for more than $1,200. Like his brother, father and grandfather, he makes them without a license.

“Bootleggers exist here for a reason,” Mr. Anderson said. “People need teeth, but they can’t afford to go to dentists for dentures.”

While Kentucky may have some of the worse oral health problems in the nation, it is by no means alone. Residents in neighboring states across the region suffer similar dental problems for many of the same reasons — inadequate access to dental care or the inability to pay for a dentist, widespread use of chewing tobacco and a pervasive assumption that losing teeth is simply part of growing old. West Virginia, for example, which has the highest proportion of people over 65 without teeth, also has one of the lowest percentages of adults who visit the dentist at least once a year.

Dr. Smith is trying to catch these problems before they progress. Each week, he drives his mobile clinic, Kids First Dental Care, up the windy Appalachian roads to visit schools and to provide free check-ups to children in the poorest counties of Kentucky.

Dr. Smith paid about $150,000 of his own money to build the mobile clinic inside an 18-wheel truck. The clinic has a staff of seven and operates with private and Medicaid financing.

Pain caused by dental problems is a leading cause of missed school days in Kentucky, according to state health officials, and almost half of the state’s children ages 2 to 4 have untreated cavities. About 1 in 10 state residents are missing all their teeth, according to 2004 federal data.

At his private practice, Dr. Smith said that at least once a month he sees a patient who has used Krazy Glue to reattach a broken tooth to the root or to an adjacent tooth. Just as often, he sees patients who have tried to avoid the cost of a dentist by swishing with rubbing alcohol to deal with a tooth infection or by rubbing crushed aspirin pills on gums to numb pain. Both tactics worsen the situation by burning the gums and creating ulcers, he said.

“Under Medicaid,” Dr. Smith said, “the only choice a person with a severe infection has is to have the tooth pulled, even if she’s 25 years old and the tooth is right in the middle of her face.” He added that the program does not pay for root canals or dentures, though it does help pay for a liquid diet for those without teeth.

Medicare, the federal government’s health insurance program for seniors, does not pay for dental services.

Dr. Smith said some people assumed that if their parents and grandparents lost their teeth before they were 40, they would too. They figure no teeth, no costly toothaches, so they pre-emptively pull them.

“Try finding work when you’re in your 30s or 40s and you’re missing front teeth,” said Jane Stephenson, founder of the New Opportunity School in Berea, Ky., which provides job training to low-income Appalachian women.

Ms. Stephenson said the program started helping women buy dentures 10 years ago. She said about half of the women who go through the program, most in their 40s, were missing teeth or had ones that were infected. As a result, she said, they are shunned by employers, ashamed to go back to school and to be around younger peers and often miss work because of pain or complications of the infections.

His teeth crooked and blackened, Justin Baker is the face of another reason for Kentucky’s oral hygiene problems: methamphetamine use.

“They just rotted,” Mr. Baker, 16, said about the damage done in less than a year of drug use.

In 2006, Kentucky law enforcement seized 342 meth labs and made more than 32,000 arrests related to methamphetamine. The previous year, the Office of National Drug Control Policy designated Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, among 23 nationwide that were hot spots of methamphetamine use.

Kentucky also has the highest rate of cigarette smoking in the country and one of the highest proportions of chewing tobacco use. Smoking and chewing tobacco, which account for more than half of all cases of periodontal disease in the United States, often lead to oral cancer and can encourage the growth of the bacteria that erode teeth and eat away at the gums.

As Mr. Baker sat up to rinse and spit at a free dental clinic at his school, Knox Central High School in Barbourville, Dr. Smith shook his head.

“Even though he is turning his life around, the damage is done,” Dr. Smith said about the likelihood that Mr. Baker would soon lose all his teeth.

The consequences of oral hygiene problems are far reaching, Dr. Smith said. When teeth fall out, he explained, the mouth loses some of its structural support and turns in on itself; that can lead to distorted speech and, in the absence of dentures, force a person to eat only soft foods, which can lead to poor nutrition.

Back in the southeast Kentucky city of Corbin, Mr. Anderson, the maker of dentures, said, “People shouldn’t be ashamed to smile.”

Growing up, Mr. Anderson said he and his brother moved around — from Massachusetts to Florida to Oklahoma and, finally, to Corbin — whenever local dentists complained to the police about their father’s denture-making practice. In 1990, he said, their father moved to Washington State to practice legally after repeated arrests in Kentucky.

The American Dental Association objects to denturism, as the trade is called, because it says practitioners have not received proper training through dental school. They are not competent to diagnose cancers or other diseases in the mouth, the association says, or to spot broken roots of teeth, which can lead to injury if not corrected before the installation of dentures.

Denturists are allowed to practice independently in Idaho, Maine, Montana, Oregon and Washington. In Arizona and Colorado, they can practice with at least limited supervision of a licensed dentist, according to the National Denturist Association.

Pointing to the wall where his license to practice the trade in Maine is mounted, Mr. Anderson said he trained in a program at George Brown College in Toronto. He has continued to practice in Kentucky even though it is illegal because no one complains about the quality of his work, he said, and he has a licensed dentist on staff and in his office several days a week.

“The truth is that we see people dentists don’t because those people are too poor,” said Glen Anderson’s brother, Eric Anderson, 36. “And there’re a lot of these people around here.”

Seated in Glen Anderson’s office, David Caldwell, 53, smiled widely as he stared into a mirror at his first pair of dentures. Mr. Caldwell attributed his dental problems to his smoking habit. He said he quit smoking but still chews tobacco.

“You get in the habit of keeping your mouth shut if you’re in public,” Mr. Caldwell said about the embarrassment of having no teeth.

Now, with his full set of false teeth, he said he could stop talking with his hand in front of his mouth. He could stop tilting his head downward, so people would only see his lower, less damaged teeth.

“I’m a new man, I suppose,” he said with a shy laugh.


15) Tomato Pickers’ Wages Fight Faces Obstacles
December 24, 2007

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — In a colorful, often clamorous pressure campaign that has relied on support from college campuses and church groups, a group of farmworkers has persuaded McDonald’s and Taco Bell to have their tomato suppliers pay their pickers more.

But the workers’ efforts have recently collided with two big obstacles. Burger King has rejected the demands to have its tomato suppliers pay higher wages, and the main group of Florida tomato growers — calling the farmworkers’ tactics “un-American” — has threatened a $100,000 fine against growers that cooperate with McDonald’s or Yum Brands, the parent of Taco Bell, to pay their pickers more.

“The only way you can describe this industry is the way it was described 40 years ago: It’s a harvest of shame,” said Lucas Benitez, a co-founder of the farmworkers’ group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. “The wages are so low that a lot of workers are just surviving.”

Steve Grover, vice president for food safety and regulatory compliance at Burger King, said his company rejected the coalition’s demands because it did not employ the pickers directly and did not know how it would pay them, withhold their taxes or determine their immigration status.

“We’re being asked to do something that we have legal questions about,” Mr. Grover said. “We want to find a way to make sure that workers are protected and receive a decent wage.”

Immokalee (which rhymes with broccoli) is 25 miles inland from Fort Myers and seems an unlikely place for a self-proclaimed “fair food movement” to begin. Its downtown is cluttered with rundown trailers and ramshackle shacks where immigrant field hands often sleep three or four to a room.

The farmworkers’ coalition has garnered financial support from a dozen foundations and public support from former President Jimmy Carter; Ethel Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s widow; the National Council of Churches; and the Presbyterian Church.

On Nov. 30, the coalition attracted more than 1,000 participants to a nine-mile march in Miami that began at the Goldman Sachs office — Goldman is one of Burger King’s largest shareholders — and ended at Burger King’s corporate headquarters. Many signs said, “End sweatshops in the fields,” and many marchers wore yellow T-shirts with the logo “Exploitation King.”

They wanted Burger King to agree to pay pickers a penny more per pound — increasing their wage to 77 cents from 45 cents per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes, up from 40 cents in 1980. Professors at Florida International University estimated the state’s farm workers average $13,000 annually.

A bigger obstacle to the coalition’s efforts is the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a cooperative representing 90 percent of the state’s growers. It has threatened large “noncompliance penalties” for any growers that share information about wages or tonnage picked with third parties like McDonald’s. Florida grows 85 percent of the nation’s winter tomatoes.

Reggie Brown, the exchange’s executive vice president, said his group’s lawyers said the Coalition of Immokalee Workers violated antitrust laws in joining with Yum Brands and McDonald’s to get tomato growers to pay higher wages.

“I think it is un-American when you get people outside your business to dictate terms of business to you, to tell you to do something that your lawyers tell you is illegal,” Mr. Brown said.

But Mark Barenberg, a law professor at Columbia University, said, “The only possible antitrust violation is by the growers since they seem to be conspiring among themselves to refuse to deal with fast-food companies that want to buy supplies made under certain specifications.”

Mr. Brown disputed assertions that the tomato pickers were ill paid, saying that they averaged $12.46 an hour, and that did not include free transportation to the fields.

Angel Aguilar, a 36-year-old picker from Mexico, said: “It’s a gigantic lie to say we earn $12.46 an hour. If they were to ask all of us, who earns $12.46 an hour, nobody would raise their hands.”

He said he generally earned $40 to $50 a day for five to seven hours of picking, often taking home $200 to $250 a week. The pickers’ days often begin at 5 a.m. when they arrive at a downtown parking lot in the hope of being chosen for a crew. The labor contractors’ buses typically leave for the field at 6, arriving shortly before 7. The workers often do not begin picking until 10 or 11 because they are required to wait for the dew to burn off. They usually arrive back at the parking lot at 5 or 6 p.m.

Many live in bare-bones trailers a short walk from the parking lot, often paying weekly rent of $50 per person. A landlord whose trailer holds eight migrants will often receive $400 a week or nearly $1,800 a month. In many trailers, workers hang their food from a wire to prevent rats from getting at it.

As a result of the agreement the coalition reached with Yum Brands two years ago (after a four-year fight that included a boycott), many pickers receive an extra $5 to $25 some weeks. If 10 percent of a farm’s tonnage is sold to Taco Bell in a particular week, then the workers would receive a pay supplement on 10 percent of what they picked.

The coalition’s hope is that all purchasers will eventually agree to the penny-a-pound increase.

McDonald’s was scheduled to begin paying the higher wage this winter, but its effort and Yum Brands’ were suspended because growers pulled out after the exchange threatened fines. McDonald’s and Yum Brands say they are still eager to carry out their agreement with the coalition.

“It’s been our position all along that others need to step up and do more,” said William Whitman, a McDonald’s spokesman.

Mr. Brown of the Tomato Growers Exchange said the Immokalee coalition had improperly branded the growers as stingy and exploitative. “If we weren’t paying a very competitive wage and giving these workers enough money to send to their families in Mexico and Central America, we wouldn’t be able to attract a labor force,” he said.

But the Rev. Noelle Damico, national coordinator of the Campaign for Fair Food for the Presbyterian Church, said the church planned to continue putting pressure on Burger King and the Tomato Growers Exchange to increase wages.

“For years we’ve provided charity to farmworkers in South Florida, and we started asking, ‘Why are farmworkers who work six days a week and often 10 or 12 hours a day still needing help from charity?’” she said. “We saw that something was very wrong.”


16) In Wake of Recent Manpower Loss, FreshDirect Workers Vote ‘No Union’
December 24, 2007

The low-wage warehouse workers at FreshDirect, the online grocery delivery service, voted overwhelmingly against union representation this weekend, according to the company and the two unions vying to represent the workers.

The vote was held about two weeks after the company suspended and lost scores of employees who could not provide accurate records of their residency status. Most of them were Hispanic and many of them were among FreshDirect’s most experienced workers.

The National Labor Relations Board conducted the vote, by secret ballot, on Saturday and Sunday.

Workers at the plant, on Borden Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, could vote for Local 348 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 805 of the Teamsters or “no union.”

According to the company, about 80 percent of the 530 employees who participated voted “no union.”

Evan Theis, a spokesman for the Teamsters, said that FreshDirect usually had more than 900 warehouse workers. But many left in advance of a check by federal officials of employees’ immigration status.

“I think even though the results of the election turned out the way that they did, FreshDirect has now put itself in a very large, very deep public relations hole,” Mr. Theis said.

Citing the imminent federal audit, the company sent out a memo this month asking that workers update their files with the appropriate documents, like Social Security cards. From 100 to 300 of the warehouse workers then left their posts or were suspended.

Last week, the company, which serves mostly affluent New Yorkers, held a job fair. It offered $7.85 an hour for jobs packing groceries at night, in near-freezing temperatures.

The past weekend’s vote brings to a close a contentious battle between the company and the two competing unions. Both unions said the threat of a federal check was a scare tactic to keep the unions out of FreshDirect.

Jose Merced, an organizer for the food workers’ local, said Sunday that FreshDirect had sought “to create an atmosphere of fear and terror.”

He said the union would resume organizing efforts at FreshDirect next year.

Mr. Theis, speaking for the Teamsters local, said, “The best thing the company can do to restore the trust on their own is offer the workers a better standard of living, while not retaliating against those workers who have called them to account in the past.”

Although the warehouse workers decided against a union, Jim Moore, the company’s senior vice president for business affairs, said in a statement released on Sunday that FreshDirect’s approximately 500 deliverymen have been in a union since last year and are working under a collective bargaining agreement.


17) 'Army Times' Article Describes U.S. Troop 'Mutiny' in Iraq
by Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 17, 2007 13:10:09 EST

Spc. Gerry DeNardi stood at the on-base Burger King, just a few miles from downtown Baghdad, hoping for a quick taste of home.

Camp Taji encompasses miles of scrapped Iraqi tanks, a busy U.S. airstrip and thousands of soldiers living in row upon row of identical trailers. Several fast-food stands, a PX and a dining facility the size of a football field compose Taji’s social hub. The base had been struck by an occasional mortar round, and a rocket had hit the airfield two weeks before and killed an American helicopter pilot. But the quiet base brought on a sense of being far from roadside bombs, far from rocket-propelled grenades and far from the daily gunfire that rained down on the soldiers of Charlie 1-26 as they patrolled Adhamiya, a violent Sunni neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad.

Just two weeks earlier, the 20-year-old DeNardi had lost five good friends, killed together as they rode in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that rolled over a powerful roadside bomb.

As DeNardi walked up the three wood steps to the outdoor stand to pick up his burger, the siren wailed.

Wah! Wah! Wah! “Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!”

The alarms went off all the time — often after the mortar round or rocket had struck nothing but sand, miles from anything important. Many soldiers and others at Taji had taken to ignoring the warnings. DeNardi glanced around at the picnic tables to make sure everyone was still eating. They were. The foreign nationals who worked the fast-food stands hadn’t left; so he went back to get the burger he had paid for.

The mortar round hit before he could pick up his order.

“I turned around and all of Burger King and me went flying,” DeNardi said.

He’d lived through daily explosions in 11 months with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, at nearby Combat Outpost Apache, a no-frills fortress smack in the middle of Adhamiya’s hostile streets. He had rushed through flames to try to save friends and carried others to the aide station only to watch them die.

“I’m not getting killed at Burger King,” he thought, and he dived for a concrete bunker. People were screaming. DeNardi saw a worker from Cinnabon hobbling around, so he climbed out of the bunker, pulled shrapnel out of the man’s leg and bandaged him. The Pizza Hut manager was crying and said two more foreign workers were injured behind her stand — near the Burger King.

“Lightning doesn’t strike twice,” DeNardi said, “so I went back. But there were body parts everywhere.” The first man’s leg had been blown off, his other leg was barely attached and he had a chest wound. “He was going to die,” DeNardi said.

The other wounded man had shrapnel to his neck. DeNardi peeled off his own shirt and fashioned a bandage out of it as other soldiers started streaming in to help.

Then, “all clear” sounded over the loudspeakers as medics arrived and took over.

“I’m covered in blood, but I still have my hamburger receipt,” DeNardi said. “I went back to Burger King the next day, but they wouldn’t give me my burger.”

For all his dark humor, the “Hero of Burger King,” as fellow soldiers teasingly called him, was deeply rattled by the carnage of the explosion at the fast-food court. At Apache, he expected trouble. But not at Burger King.

“That affected me,” he said. For the next few days, he said, he slept in the open-ended concrete bunkers positioned between the housing units.

It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.

Though their commanders moved them from the combat outpost to safer quarters, members of 2nd Platoon would stage a revolt they viewed as a life-or-death act of defiance. With all they had done and all they had seen, they now were consumed with an anger that ate at the memory of the good men they were when they arrived in Iraq.
Primed for revenge

After June 21, most of Charlie Company moved out of COP Apache, their makeshift home on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein’s son’s palaces. At Taji, the company would try to recover for a new mission.

Sgt. 1st Class Tim Ybay, 38, served as 2nd Platoon’s platoon sergeant, but also its father figure. The former drill sergeant teased constantly and tried to treat his men like family. At memorial services for lost soldiers, he cried the loudest. He’d been on patrol June 21 when the five 2nd Platoon soldiers died in the Bradley. When he came back, his grieving platoon circled him as the weight of the loss forced him to his knees in the sand. He’d promised to bring all his boys home.

Now he would concentrate on the ones that remained.

“I knew after losing those five guys, my platoon had to get out of there,” he said. “These were the guys they slept with, joked with, worked out with. I don’t think they’d be able to accomplish the mission.”

The tears came again as he spoke, and he looked away.

“And I was having a hard time losing my guys.”

At Taji, the company had a week off. DeNardi looked more surfer than soldier after a couple of days at the pool. Ybay and his sergeants sat at the picnic tables drinking frozen coffee concoctions. The guys bought Persian carpets and brass lamps to send home as souvenirs — as if Taji were a vacation spot. But the anger over Adhamiya emerged even poolside, and erupted at the mental health clinic, which they visited in groups.

“You never really get over the anger,” said Staff Sgt. Robin Johnson, a member of Charlie’s scout platoon who had been especially close to Agami. “It just kind of becomes everything you are. You become pissed off at everything. We wanted to destroy everything in our paths, but they wanted us to keep building sewer systems and handing out teddy bears.”

Some of the younger members of the platoon were particularly disillusioned.

Spc. Armando Cardenas, 21, had taken honors classes in high school but feared college would bore him. He wanted something challenging and found it in the Army, in Iraq. As a soldier, he was the guy who leaped out of a truck to chase an insurgent, or instantly returned fire with an uncanny ability to tell where the rounds came from. When a friend, Pfc. Ryan Hill, was killed in battle, Cardenas helped carry him back.

But Cardenas’ anger was just as quick as his heroics.

He said the platoon had been waiting for June 21 — that they had known they would eventually hit a big IED and have a catastrophic loss.

Cardenas wanted revenge. “But they don’t let us take care of the people responsible,” he said. “It was a slap in the face.”

Adhamiya remained under the control of 1-26, but the brass moved Charlie 1-26 to another combat outpost, Old Mod — so called because it used to house Iraq’s Ministry of Defense — in a calmer area on the outskirts of Adhamiya. From there, they patrolled Kadhamiya.

“If my guys had stayed at Adhamiya, they would have taken the gloves off,” said Capt. Cecil Strickland, Charlie’s company commander. “We were afraid somebody was going to get in trouble.”

There had been close calls before. DeNardi had to fight back a strong desire to kill an Iraqi — accused of triggering an IED that killed two Charlie Company soldiers — as he held a 9mm Glock handgun to the man’s eye socket.

And Cardenas and Staff Sgt. John Gregory had been ordered to the Green Zone to talk to an investigator after they roughed up two insurgents. A week after Pfc. Ross McGinnis fatally threw himself on a grenade to save four friends, Cardenas and Gregory had chased a couple of guys on a scooter and managed to stop them. Cardenas kicked over a wooden box the two Iraqis stood next to.

“There was a grenade full of nails,” Cardenas said. “We had to go see a major about detainee abuse. We told him [the Iraqis] didn’t want to get in the Bradley.”

Nothing came of the investigation.

Such incidents belied the squared-away record Charlie 1-26 posted during its deployment to Iraq. In 15 months, they had one incident when two soldiers were caught with alcohol, Strickland said, but that was all.

“I think the performance comes from the level of discipline,” Strickland said. “And the discipline comes from the hardship. They’re a little bit more mature than a lot of other units.”

In Shiite Kadhamiya, Charlie Company found paved, clean streets. In Sunni Adhamiya, so many garbage collectors had been killed that the Shiite government workers refused to go there. “It was one road and one river away from Adhamiya,” DeNardi said. “But there was civilization on one side and chaos on the other.”
Suicide and a twist of fate

Lt. Col. John Reynolds replaced Lt. Col. Eric Schacht as battalion commander July 8. Schacht left after his son died of a heart condition in Germany, the same day Charlie Company lost five men in the Bradley. Even with the high operations tempo and the loss of so many men, Reynolds called the changeover “easy.”

“It was the best transition you could get,” he said.

But within days, he would lose five men, including a respected senior non-commissioned officer. Master Sgt. Jeffrey McKinney, Alpha Company’s first sergeant, was known as a family man and as a good leader because he was intelligent and could explain things well. But Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rausch of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon, a good friend of McKinney’s, said McKinney told him he felt he was letting his men down in Adhamiya.

“First Sergeant McKinney was kind of a perfectionist and this was bothering him very much,” Rausch said. On July 11, McKinney was ordered to lead his men on a foot patrol to clear the roads of IEDs. Everyone at Apache heard the call come in from Adhamiya, where Alpha Company had picked up the same streets Charlie had left. Charlie’s 1st Platoon had also remained behind, and Rausch said he would never forget the fear he heard in McKinney’s driver’s voice:

“This is Apache seven delta,” McKinney’s driver said in a panicked voice over the radio. “Apache seven just shot himself. He just shot himself. Apache seven shot himself.”

Rausch said there was no misunderstanding what had happened.

According to Charlie Company soldiers, McKinney said, “I can’t take it anymore,” and fired a round. Then he pointed his M4 under his chin and killed himself in front of three of his men.

At Old Mod, Charlie Company was called back in for weapons training, DeNardi said. They were told it was an accident. Then they were told it was under investigation. And then they were told it was a suicide. Reynolds confirmed that McKinney took his own life.

A week later, without their beloved first sergeant, Alpha Company would experience its first catastrophic loss on a mission that, but for a change in weather, was supposed to go to Charlie Company.

On July 17, Charlie’s 2nd Platoon was refitting at Taji when they got a call to go back to Adhamiya. They were to patrol Route Southern Comfort, which had been black — off-limits — for months. Charlie Company knew a 500-pound bomb lay on that route, and they’d been ordered not to travel it. “Will there be route clearance?” 2nd Platoon asked. “Yes,” they were told. “Then we’ll go.”

But the mission was canceled. The medevac crews couldn’t fly because of a dust storm, and the Iraqi Army wasn’t ready for the mission. Second Platoon went to bed.

They woke to the news that Alpha Company had gone on the mission instead and one of their Bradleys rolled over the 500-pound IED. The Bradley flipped. The explosion and flames killed everybody inside. Alpha Company lost four soldiers: Spc. Zachary Clouser, Spc. Richard Gilmore, Spc. Daniel Gomez and Sgt. 1st Class Luis Gutierrez-Rosales.

“There was no chance,” said Johnson, whose scouts remained at Apache and served as the quick-reaction force that day. “It was eerily the same as June 21. You roll up on that, and it looked the same.”

The guys from Charlie Company couldn’t help but think about the similarities — and that it could have been them.

“Just the fact that there was another Bradley incident mentally screwed up 2nd Platoon,” Strickland said. “It was almost like it had happened to them.”

The battalion gave 2nd Platoon the day to recover. then they were scheduled to go back out on patrol in Adhamiya on July 18.

But when Strickland returned from a mission, he learned 2nd Platoon had failed to roll.

“A scheduled patrol is a direct order from me,” Strickland said.

“‘They’re not coming,’” Strickland said he was told. “So I called the platoon sergeant and talked to him. ‘Remind your guys: These are some of the things that could happen if they refuse to go out.’ I was irritated they were thumbing their noses. I was determined to get them down there.”

But, he said, he didn’t know the whole platoon, except for Ybay, had taken sleeping medications prescribed by mental health that day, according to Ybay.

Strickland didn’t know mental health leaders had talked to 2nd Platoon about “doing the right thing.”

He didn’t know 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.

“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”

They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”

Ybay had gone to battalion to speak up for his guys and ask for more time. But when he came back, it was with orders to report to Old Mod.

Ybay said he tried to persuade his men to go out, but he could see they were not ready.

“It was like a scab that wouldn’t heal up,” Ybay said. “I couldn’t force them to go out. Listening to them in the mental health session, I could hear they’re not ready.”

At 2 a.m, Ybay said, he’d found his men sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They could not sleep. Some of them were taking as many as 10 sleeping pills and still could not rest. The images of their dead friends haunted them. The need for revenge ravaged them.

But Ybay was still disappointed in his men. “I had a mission,” he said. “The company had a mission. We still had to execute. But I understood their side, too.”

Somehow, the full course of events didn’t make it to Strickland. All he knew, the commander said, was his men had refused an order, and he was determined to get them to Apache.

“When you’re given an order, you’ve got to execute,” Strickland said. “Being told, ‘They’re not coming,’ versus, ‘They’re taking meds and went to mental health,’ are different things. It was just this weird situation where almost nothing connected.”
A revolt in the ranks

“They called it an act of mutiny,” Cardenas said, still enraged that the men he considered heroes were, in his mind, slandered. “The sergeant major and the battalion commander said we were unprofessional. They said they were disappointed in us and would never forget our actions for the rest of their lives.”

But no judicial action ever came of it.

“Captain Strickland read us our rights,” DeNardi said. “We had 15 yes-or-no questions, and no matter how you answered them, it looked like you disobeyed an order. No one asked what happened. And there’s no record — no article 15. Nothing to show it happened.”

After the members of 2nd Platoon had spent a year fighting for each other and watching their buddies die, battalion leaders began breaking up the platoon. Seven noncommissioned officers were told they were being relieved for cause and moved out of the unit. Three noncommissioned officers stayed at Old Mod. Two, including Sgt. Derrick Jorcke, would remain in Iraq for one month after 2nd Platoon went home in October because they had been moved to different battalions in different areas of Iraq.

“In a way, they were put someplace where they wouldn’t have to go out again,” Johnson said. “But as an NCO, they took these guys’ leaders away and put them with people they didn’t know and trust. You knew 2nd Platoon would die for you without a second’s hesitation. That’s what made them so great. These guys need each other.”

Then, they were all flagged: No promotions. No awards. No favorable actions.

“We had PFCs miss [promotion to] specialist for two months,” DeNardi said. “Bronze Stars and [Army Commendation Medals] were put on hold. You’re talking about heroes like Cardenas. These are guys who save lives and they can’t get awards.”

“I didn’t want to punish them,” Strickland said. “I understood what was going on. But they had to understand you couldn’t do something like that and have nothing happen.”

And things could not continue as they had. Strickland could not operate for three more months with a platoon that refused to go out.

“Within the company, we made some adjustments,” Strickland said. “They needed a fresh start. After looking into it, I didn’t feel the need to punish anybody.” However, he left the flags in place.

“If anything was going to be punishment, that was it,” he said. For at least one soldier, that meant going through a promotion board again. Jorcke lost his promotion table status, but Strickland signed a memo re-establishing it. “I’ve tried to fix those issues. Almost everybody else has been promoted except one guy.” Jorcke made his E-6 on Nov. 1.

Even after the “mutiny,” Strickland said, he had a great deal of admiration for his soldiers.

“I understood why they did what they did,” he said. “Some of the NCOs, I was disappointed in them because they failed to lead their soldiers through difficult times. They let their soldiers influence their decisions. But on a personal level, I applauded their decision because they stood behind their soldiers. I was disappointed, but I thought they had great courage. It was truly a Jekyll/Hyde moment for me.”

And though they were horrified at being torn away from each other, the soldiers themselves were conflicted about the outcome.

“For us being disbanded, now we definitely had unfinished business,” Jorcke said. “If we’d cleared Adhamiya, we could have said, ‘I left Iraq and my buddies didn’t die in vain.

“But in a way, the disbanding was good,” he said. “We — what was left of the platoon — got to come back home alive.”




United Nations: Assembly Calls for Freeze on Death Penalty
In a vote that made for unusual alliances, the General Assembly passed, 104 to 54 with 29 abstentions, a nonbinding resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Among the countries joining the United States in opposition to the European-led measure were Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Opponents argued that the resolution undermined their national sovereignty. Two similar moves in the 1990s failed, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the new vote was “evidence of a trend toward ultimately abolishing the death penalty.”
December 19, 2007

Carbon Dioxide Threatens Reefs, Report Says
National Briefing | Science and Health
Carbon dioxide in the air is turning the oceans acidic, and without a reduction in emissions, coral reefs may die away by the end of the century, researchers warn in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. Carbon dioxide dissolves into ocean water, changes to carbonic acid, and carbonic acid dissolves the calcium carbonate in the skeletons of corals. Laboratory experiments have shown that corals possess some ability to adapt to warmer waters but no ability to adapt to the higher acidity. “Unless we reverse our actions very quickly, by the end of the century, reefs could be a thing of the past,” said Ken Caldeira, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology and an author of the Science paper.
December 14, 2007

Iraq: Marine Discharged Over Killing
World Briefing | Middle East
A Marine reservist, Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced in rank to private, a day after being convicted at Camp Pendleton, Calif., of negligent homicide in the 2006 stabbing death of an Iraqi soldier he stood watch with at a guard post in Falluja. He has served 10 months in a military prison and will not spend any more time in custody. The lance corporal’s lawyer has said that the killing was in self-defense. Prosecutors contended that he killed the Iraqi and then set up the scene to support his story. He was also found guilty of making a false official statement.
December 15, 2007

Canada: Mounties Urged to Restrict Taser Use
In a report, the watchdog commission that oversees the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recommended that Taser stun guns be used only on people who are “combative or posing a risk of death or grievous bodily harm,” much like a conventional firearm rather than a nightstick or pepper spray. The report was ordered by the government after a confused and angry Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, left, died at the airport in Vancouver after being stunned at least twice by Mounties. The report found that Tasers were increasingly being used against people who were merely resistant rather than dangerous.
December 13, 2007

Greece: Tens of Thousands March in Strike
A one-day strike by unions representing 2.5 million workers brought Athens to a standstill. Protesting planned government changes to the state-financed pension system, an estimated 80,000 people marched through central Athens. In Thessaloniki, 30,000 people rallied, the police said. The strike shut down hospitals, banks, schools, courts and all public services. Flights were canceled, and public transportation, including boats connecting the mainland with the islands, ground to a halt. More strikes are expected next week.
December 13, 2007




Russell Means Speaking at the Transform Columbus Day Rally
"If voting could do anything it would be illegal!"


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

http://video. videoplay? docid=-905047436 2583451279




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


"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


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


"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:


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


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,]




George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


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])

SHOP: Articles at">


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