Saturday, February 24, 2007



REMINDER....10 days from today, all cell phone numbers are being
released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale
To prevent this, call the following number from your cell
phone:888-382-1222 or register your phone number at
It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of
your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years.
You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked.
You cannot call from a different phone number.


Lynne Stewart/Michael Ratner/Pam Africa/Jeff Mackler
Tour Bay Area for Civil Liberties
Saturday, Feb. 24:
5:30 pm Berkeley Reception, Middle East Children's Alliance,
901 Parker at 7th, Berkeley, 510-548-0542
7:30 pm Berkeley Mass Rally,
King Middle School,
1781 Rose (near North Berkeley BART).

"Fighting Back" for civil liberties & democratic rights
Defending Mumia Abu-Jamal: One court decision from
execution or new trial and freedom

"Fighting Back: No one shall be tortured, falsely imprisoned, or denied
basic democratic rights" is the theme of the upcoming February 23-28,
2007 San Francisco Bay Area tour of Lynne Stewart/Michael Ratner/
Pam Africa/Jeff Mackler

Sponsored by and a benefit for the Lynne Stewart Defense
Committee and the Northern California-based Mobilization
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the tour includes some eighteen
meetings, rallies, receptions and media events. (See tour
schedule below).

The tour is co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, the
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Middle East Children's Alliance,
Vanguard Public Foundation, the Marin Peace and Justice Coalition,
and Pacifica Radio Station KPFA.


Lynne Stewart/Michael Ratner/Pam Africa/Jeff Mackler Tour
(For details on all events, admission costs, or requests for
additional meetings call 415-255-1085)

Saturday, Feb. 24:
5:30 pm Berkeley Reception, Middle East Children's Alliance,
901 Parker at 7th, Berkeley, 510-548-0542
7:30 pm Berkeley Mass Rally,
King Middle School,
1781 Rose (near North Berkeley BART).

Sunday, Feb. 25:
1:00 pm, Palo Alto Reception,
Fireside Room,
2:00 pm Mass Rally,
both at Unitarian Universalist Church,
505 E. Charleston Rd., near Middlefield,
Palo Alto, 650-326-8837,

Monday, Feb. 26:
10:30 am Gray Panther Reception 415-552-8800
12:30 pm, University of SF Law School,
Fulton at Stanyon, Kendrick Hall, 646-729-4303
5:30 pm Fresno Reception
7:00 pm Fresno Rally, 559-255-9492.

Tuesday, Feb 27:
5:30 pm Reception, Santa Rosa Peace and Justice Center, 707-569-9922

Wednesday, Feb. 28:
12:00 Noon, UC Davis School of Law,
Moot Courtroom, 734-972-1036
5:30 pm Sacramento Reception,
403 21st Street, Sacramento, 916-369-5510


Tues. Feb. 27, 7pm
ANSWER Black History Month Forum
2489 Mission St. #30, (at 21st St.) near 24th St. BART / #49, #14 MUNI, SF
Report on the case of the San Francisco Black Panther 8 by Dr. Henry
Clark—former Black Panther and director of West County Toxics
Coalition in Richmond, CA. See the video “Legacy of Torture:
The War Against The Black Liberation Movement”


Iraq War Veteran – Conscientious Objector
Imprisoned awaiting court martial for refusing to return to Iraq


6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
War Memorial Veterans Building , 2nd Floor
401 Van Ness Avenue (across from City Hall), San Francisco



Agustín Aguayo, a 35-year-old Army medic and conscientious
objector, will face court martial on March 6 for resisting
redeployment to Iraq. He has been formally charged by the
Army with desertion and missing movement. If convicted
of all charges, Agustín faces a maximum of seven years
in prison for following his conscience and refusing to
participate in war. He is currently imprisoned pending
trial at a military brig in Manheim, Germany.

Tuesday, February 27 at 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Benefit Dinner with Helga Aguayo

SF War Memorial Veterans Building, 2nd Floor
401 Van Ness (Civic Center BART), San Francisco

With brief presentations by: Agustin's wife Helga Aguayo;
Journalist Sarah Olson who led a successful campaign to
oppose reporter subpoenas by the Army in Lt. Ehren Watada's
court martial; Pablo Paredes, former Navy sailor who in
2005 publicly resisted shipping out in support of the Iraq War.

Dinner hosted by Courage to Resist and Veterans for Peace
SF Bay Area Chapter 69. Co-sponsored by the American Friends
Service Committee, SF Code Pink, Watada Support Committee,
APIs Resist! and Not in Our Name-Bay Area. Call 510-764-2073

More info:

Saturday, March 2 at 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM
*PRAXIS* Party to Benefit Agustin Aguayo

Capoeira Angola Center 2513 Magnolia St., Oakland

*PRAXIS* party to benefit Agustin Aguayo and other soldiers
who refuse to fight! Wicked performers and stylin' djs. Including
ICAF-Oakland, Taiko Ren, Queen Deelah & Cov Records Artists,
Zazous, Fuga, DJ Zahkee, and Qbug. Good times for good causes
- Conscientious Objector Agustin Aguayo and Courage to Resist.

If you can't make either event, please consider an urgently
needed and much appreciated tax-deductible donation to
Agustin's defense fund. Online at
or make check payable to "Courage to Resist / IHC",
note "Agustin Aguayo defense" on the memo line,
and send to: COURAGE TO RESIST


You are invited to
Witness to War: Revisiting Vietnam in Contemporary Art
at the Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco State
1600 Holloway Ave @ 19th Ave, SF
Open through March 15, 2007
Visit our website at:
Please join us. Spread the word, bring a friend!
Sat, Feb 24, 2:00 p.m.
Witness to War Artist Lecture – Daniel Joseph Martinez
Thurs, Mar 1, 1:00 p.m.
Witness to War Artist Panel Discussion
Sat, Mar 10, 1:00 p.m.
Artists Binh Danh, Thai Bui and Long Nguyen moderated
by art historian Boreth Ly.
Nguyen Dance Company
Dance Performance
Sat, Mar 10, 2:30 p.m.
West Coast Premiere of Documentary Film The Rain on
the River
Sat, Mar 10, 3:30 p.m.
Hope to see you there.

Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


March 17: March on the Pentagon-1967/2007


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks


Free Speech Victory! Permits Secured for Pentagon Demonstration

SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2007
(The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is taking
place on Sat., March 17 in SF.)
For more information:
Phone: 415-821-6545
Fax: 415-821-5782




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


Petition: Halt the Blue Angels


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


Film/Song about Angola


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


[Col. Writ. 2/2/07] Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal
VIA Email from: Howard Keylor

2) Arab/Palestinian Mural at SFSU in Jeopardy!
Students need our support.

3) U.S. Used Base in Ethiopia to Hunt Al Qaeda in Africa
February 23, 2007

4) Cuba's known for cigars now, but oil could change that
Updated 2/22/2007 9:03 AM ET
By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

February 23, 2007
February 23, 2007; Page A5
VIA Email from:
Walter Lippmann

6) An American in Cuba
Nationality trumps race, and color still matters.
But everyone struggles together.
Erin Aubry Kaplan
February 21, 2007,1,1332754.column?coll=la-news-columns

7) "I Want To Be Free": 9-Year-Old Canadian Citizen Pleads
From Texas Immigration Jail
Friday, February 23rd, 2007

8) U.S. Weighs Extra Steps on Iran White House May Pursue
Sanctions Targeting Guard Corps Assets
February 22, 2007; Page A6
VIA Email from: Walter Lippmann

9) Cheney: 'All Options' Available for Iran
Filed at 3:42 a.m. ET
February 24, 2007

10) US Economy Leaving Record Numbers in Severe Poverty
by Tony Pugh
February 23, 2007

11) Chávez Ends Busy Week Aiding Venezuela’s Latin Neighbors
February 24, 2007

12) Blackstone Said to Plan Sale of 10 San Francisco Buildings
February 24, 2007


[Col. Writ. 2/2/07] Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal
VIA Email from: Howard Keylor

A lifetime ago, when the British rock band, the Beatles were at the top
of the charts, and before cable TV and the reign of computers,
anti-war activists sang a haunting chorus as they demonstrated
by the tens of thousands at the Pentagon: "All we are saying,
is give peace a chance."

Decades later, and there is still war (albeit in another place, and for
another 'cause'), and demonstrations seem far less potent
than times past.

American imperialism, unshackled by the prospect of a true global
rival, now fairly bellows in the face of its own unpopularity (in the
voice of its acolytes, like George W. Bush): "Give war a chance."

The Iraq invasion and occupation has been an admitted disaster,
and those who called for it the loudest are deserting that sinking
ship like rats on a wharf.

The US imperial president, flirting with disapproval numbers that
rivals Nixon's at the height of the Watergate scandal, is overwhelming
only in his irrelevance, and perhaps his inability to convince anybody
to believe his blather about the so-called 'war on terror.'

So, in light of the administration's latest maneuver to support the
flagging war with 'new ideas' about a "surge", the White House and
its minions on the Hill are asking Americans to 'give the president's
plan a chance.'

In the face of this catastrophe, what is the role of Congress?

It proposes to debate, and then, after debating, to issue a non-binding
resolution, which condemns the current troop build-up, and also
critiques the president's present handling of the war.

In essence, Congress agrees to say, 'We don't like what you're doing,
but we won't stop it.'

This, in a time of war, a war launched on lies and subterfuge.

Apparently, over 600,000 dead Iraqis, over 3,000 dead Americans,
and over 400 billion dollars lost in this failing effort, isn't quite enough.

In fact, the Congress could stop the war today, by cutting the war
budget. But it won't do this, for it might endanger a congressman's
future political prospects.

Most of the millions of people who voted in the mid-term elections
did so to send a strong anti-war message.

The majority party heading both houses of Congress has indeed
changed, but little else has. It has resolved to issue words, while
the president launches bombs.

And given his profoundly neoconservative bent, it is entirely possible
that, before the remaining two years have passed through time's
hourglass, the US may've launched a strike against Iran.

Even now we hear the media stirrings, provocations meant to soften
up the American populace for a new 'preemptive war.'

What did your votes really mean?

Do you really still believe that you live in a democracy?

What you voted for, and what you believe, is ultimately irrelevant.

The words of the legendary Black freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass
echo through the annals of time: "Power concedes nothing without
demand. It never has, and never will."

Voting is never enough.

These ruinous wars didn't begin in a voting booth; nor will voting,
standing alone, end them.

It will take much stronger stuff.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal


2) Arab/Palestinian Mural at SFSU in Jeopardy!
Students need our support.

We need your help. We are doing a petition drive right
now and we need as many signatures as possible to put
pressure on the SFSU president to approve our mural.
It is the first Arab/Palestinian Mural in a University
in the United States. Two governing boards approved it
but he remains against it. Sign it and forward this
message below in a bulletin, and whatever way you can
to help us get signatures.
Don’t be just hype! Be part of the revolution for
justice and equality for all!
Thank you very much.

HELP SPREAD THE WORD! Please post a bulletin etc…
Palestinian Mural in Jeopardy!

From: Norman Finkelstein

If you are in support of the Palestinian mural please
sign the petition. Our artists are Dr. Fayeq Oweis and
Dr. Susan Greene; a Palestinian Muslim man and an
American Jewish woman. Thanks for the support!

General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) 415-338-1908
San Francisco State University

In April 2005, the General Union of Palestine Students
at San Francisco State University proposed something
revolutionary, to begin a process of implementing a
mural paying tribute to Edward Said and Palestinian
culture on the University campus. This is the first
mural of its kind a University in the United States.
After over a year of painstaking efforts by the mural
committee to follow the established process, the
President of San Francisco State University, Robert A.
Corrigan, prematurely denied the mural just before the
final stage. It is 2007 and the mural is in jeopardy
and needs your immediate help The SF State president,
Robert Corrigan claims the mural represents a “culture
of violence” and is “hate to Jews.” He is saying that
the Palestinian house key and Handala are offensive
but he does not explain why or what to support his
claim. He allowed other murals up on the Cesar Chavez
Student Center, such as the Malcolm X mural, the Cesar
Chavez mural, the Filipino Mural, the Pan Asian and
Pacific Islander Mural, which depict struggles of
refugees and colonialism,

however the administration has been trying to stop our
mural since day one before they knew anything about
it. Please sign the latest online petition, and/or
writing a letter to President Corrigan from yourself
or your organization, and/or financially support the
legal process to show support for the mural and all
its elements including the Palestinian house key and
Handala! Go to for more info. (SFSU’s
newspaper website =

What You Can Do

1. Sign the New Online Petition:

2. Write a Letter or email SFSU President Robert A.
Corrigan: (,,

President Robert Corrigan
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132


General Union of Palestine Students
1650 Holloway Ave
Business Office, M100B
San Francisco, CA 94132

and CC:

Maria Liliana Cortez
1650 Holloway Ave
Business Office, C-134
San Francisco, CA 94132

3. Make a Donation: Donations are tax- deductible.
Financial Support for the mural; The American Arab
Anti-Discrimation Committee San Francisco Chapter is
helping with the collection of donations.

Please make checks payable to: ADCSF/AGAPE with “GUPS”
written in the memo section of the check.
Please send your donation to:
The ADC-SF (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee of San Francisco)
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, California, 94110
email: Phone (415) 861-7444


3) U.S. Used Base in Ethiopia to Hunt Al Qaeda in Africa
February 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — The American military quietly waged
a campaign from Ethiopia last month to capture or kill top leaders
of Al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa, including the use of an airstrip
in eastern Ethiopia to mount airstrikes against Islamic militants
in neighboring Somalia, according to American officials.

The close and largely clandestine relationship with Ethiopia also
included significant sharing of intelligence on the Islamic militants’
positions and information from American spy satellites with the
Ethiopian military. Members of a secret American Special Operations
unit, Task Force 88, were deployed in Ethiopia and Kenya, and
ventured into Somalia, the officials said.

The counterterrorism effort was described by American officials
as a qualified success that disrupted terrorist networks in Somalia,
led to the death or capture of several Islamic militants and involved
a collaborative relationship with Ethiopia that had been developing
for years.

But the tally of the dead and captured does not as yet include some
Qaeda leaders — including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Fahid
Mohammed Ally Msalam — whom the United States has hunted
for their suspected roles in the attacks on American Embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. With Somalia still in a chaotic state,
and American and African officials struggling to cobble together
a peacekeeping force for the war-ravaged country, the long-term
effects of recent American operations remain unclear.

It has been known for several weeks that American Special Operations
troops have operated inside Somalia and that the United States
carried out two strikes on Qaeda suspects using AC-130 gunships.
But the extent of American cooperation with the recent Ethiopian
invasion into Somalia and the fact that the Pentagon secretly used
an airstrip in Ethiopia to carry out attacks have not been previously
reported. The secret campaign in the Horn of Africa is an example
of a more aggressive approach the Pentagon has taken in recent
years to dispatch Special Operations troops globally to hunt high-
level terrorism suspects. President Bush gave the Pentagon powers
after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to carry out these missions, which
historically had been reserved for intelligence operatives.

When Ethiopian troops first began a large-scale military offensive
in Somalia late last year, officials in Washington denied that the Bush
administration had given its tacit approval to the Ethiopian government.
In interviews over the past several weeks, however, officials from
several American agencies with a hand in Somalia policy have
described a close alliance between Washington and the Ethiopian
government that was developed with a common purpose: rooting
out Islamic radicalism inside Somalia.

Indeed, the Pentagon for several years has been training Ethiopian
troops for counterterrorism operations in camps near the Somalia
border, including Ethiopian special forces called the Agazi Commandos,
which were part of the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to discuss details
of the American operation, but some officials agreed to provide specifics
because they saw it as a relative success story. They said that the close
relationship had included the sharing of battlefield intelligence on the
Islamists’ positions — a result of an Ethiopian request to Gen. John
P. Abizaid, then the commander of the United States Central Command.
John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence at the time,
then authorized spy satellites to be diverted to provide information
for Ethiopian troops, the officials said.

The deepening American alliance with Ethiopia is the latest twist in the
United States’ on-and-off intervention in Somalia, beginning with an
effort in 1992 to distribute food to starving Somalis and evolving into
deadly confrontation in 1993 between American troops and fighters
loyal to a Somali warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid. The latest chapter
began last June when the Council of Islamic Courts, an armed
fundamentalist movement, defeated a coalition of warlords backed
by the Central Intelligence Agency and took power in Mogadishu,
the capital. The Islamists were believed to be sheltering Qaeda
militants involved in the embassy bombings, as well as in a 2002
hotel bombing in Kenya.

After a failed C.I.A. effort to arm and finance Somali warlords, the
Bush administration decided on a policy to bolster Somalia’s weak
transitional government. This decision brought the American
policy in line with Ethiopia’s.

As the Islamists’ grip on power grew stronger, their militias began
to encircle Baidoa, where the transitional government was operating
in virtual exile. Ethiopian officials pledged that if the Islamists attacked
Baidoa, they would respond with a full-scale assault.

While Washington resisted officially endorsing an Ethiopian invasion,
American officials from several government agencies said that the
Bush administration decided last year that an incursion was the best
option to dislodge the Islamists from power.

When the Ethiopian offensive began on Dec. 24, it soon turned into
a rout, somewhat to the Americans’ surprise. Armed with American
intelligence, the Ethiopians’ tank columns, artillery batteries and military
jets made quick work of the poorly trained and ill-equipped Islamist militia.

“The Ethiopians just wiped out entire grid squares; it was a blitzkrieg,”
said one official in Washington who had helped develop the strategy
toward Somalia.

As the Islamists retreated, the Qaeda operatives and their close aides
fled south toward a swampy region. Using information provided by
Ethiopian forces in Somalia as well as American intelligence, a task
force from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command began
planning direct strikes.

On Dec. 31, the largely impotent transitional government of Somalia
submitted a formal request to the American ambassador in Kenya
asking for the United States to take action against the militants.

General Abizaid called Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and informed
him that the Central Command was sending additional Special
Operations forces to the region. The deployment was carried out
under the terms of an earlier, classified directive that gave the military
the authority to kill or capture senior Qaeda operatives if it was determined
that the failure to act expeditiously meant the United States would lose
a “fleeting opportunity” to neutralize the enemy, American officials said.

On Jan. 6, two Air Force AC-130 gunships, aircraft with devastating
firepower, arrived at a small airport in eastern Ethiopia. American Special
Operations troops operating in Kenya, working with the Kenyan military,
also set up positions along the southern border to capture militants
trying to flee the country.

A Navy flotilla began to search for ships that might be carrying fleeing
Qaeda operatives. Support planes were deployed in Djibouti. F-15Es from
Al Udeid air base in Qatar also flew missions. Intelligence was shared with
Ethiopia and Kenya through C.I.A. operatives in each country. American
military planners also worked directly with Ethiopian and Kenyan military

On Jan. 7, one day after the AC-130s arrived in Ethiopia, the airstrike
was carried our near Ras Kamboni, an isolated fishing village on the
Kenyan border.

According to American officials, the primary target of the strike was
Aden Hashi Ayro, a young military commander trained in Afghanistan
who was one of the senior leaders of the Council of Islamic Courts.

Several hours after the strike, Ethiopian troops and one member
of the American Special Operations team arrived at the site and
confirmed that eight people had been killed and three wounded,
all of whom were described as being armed. After sifting through
the debris, they found a bloodied passport and other items that led
them to believe Mr. Ayro was injured in the strike and probably died.
Several members of the Special Operations team were also in Somalia
at the time of the strike, one official said.

The second AC-130 strike, on Jan. 23, had another of the Islamic
council’s senior leaders, Sheik Ahmed Madobe, as its target. Mr. Madobe
survived and was later captured by the Ethiopians, Americans say.

American officials said that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the mastermind
of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the alleged
ringleader of Al Qaeda’s East African cell, remains at large. Some officials
caution that while the Ethiopians have said additional “high-priority
targets,” including Abu Talha al-Sudani, a leading member of the cell,
were killed in their own airstrikes, American intelligence officials have
yet to confirm this.

In late January, American officials played a role in securing the safe
passage of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the second-highest-ranking
Islamist leader, from southern Somalia to Nairobi, Kenya. The exact
role of American involvement is still not clear, but some American
officials consider him to be a moderate Islamist.

Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from Nairobi, Kenya.


4) Cuba's known for cigars now, but oil could change that
Updated 2/22/2007 9:03 AM ET
By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

One day soon - possibly before the end of this year - an oil rig will
maneuver into position in waters less than 100 miles from the coast
of Florida. A drill will plunge into the inky sea and begin chewing
its way into the ocean floor, hunting for oil.

But the drilling rig won't belong to an American company, and any
petroleum it discovers won't do a thing to curb the USA's addiction
to foreign oil. Instead, any new sub-sea gusher will belong to Cuba.

That's right: Cuba. The island nation long has been known for its
aromatic cigars and sweet rums. But after years of limited oil
production on lands around Havana and in neighboring Matanzas
province, Cuba is poised for a significant expansion of its oil
program into the waters that separate it from the United States. And
thanks to U.S. law, Cuba's drilling partners will be working closer
to Florida beaches than any American company ever could.

"Our studies . have shown there is a great potential, especially
offshore," says Dagoberto Rodriguez, the senior Cuban diplomat in the
USA. "Basically, we know that there is oil. The problem is just where
it is."

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) agrees. Two years ago, after
reviewing available data on the subterranean structures in the
region, the agency estimated Cuba can lay claim to 4.6 billion
barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

With oil prices hovering around $60 a barrel and global supplies
persistently tight, any new supply source could benefit the USA, the
world's top oil consumer. Likewise, Cuba, which relies on Venezuela
for more than half of its daily oil consumption, craves
self-sufficiency. "In economic terms, it could be a win-win," says
Daniel Erikson, an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue, a
Washington, D.C., think tank.

There's just one problem: politics. Since 1962, the U.S. has
maintained an economic embargo of Cuba, aimed at toppling the
communist government of Fidel Castro. The ailing dictator, who has
outlasted nine U.S. presidents, last summer handed power temporarily
to his brother, Raul, while he recovers from abdominal surgery.
Companies such as ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Halliburton
(HAL), however, remain barred from the Cuban market, which a 2001
Rice University study said could be worth up to $3 billion annually.

The embargo also will increase the time and cost of the Cuban program
by denying Havana access to the closest source of oil industry
technology, spare parts and expertise. Likewise, U.S.-owned
refineries in Aruba and St. Croix are off-limits for any of the
heavy, sulfur-rich Cuban crude.

"The U.S. (embargo) presents them with significant barriers and
obstacles," says Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, a political scientist at
the University of Nebraska who studies Cuban energy issues.

Replacing the Soviets

Cuba is modernizing a dilapidated Soviet-era refinery at Cienfuegos
with help from Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and
refurbishing three other facilities, Rodriguez said. Within 18
months, Cuba will be able to satisfy all of its refining demand, he
said. Independent analysts are less optimistic.

The Cuban oil fields were formed more than 50 million years ago in a
slow-motion collision between Earth's tectonic plates, which entombed
pulverized rocks, animals and plants. Over subsequent millennia, the
resulting stew cooked into buried petroleum deposits, says
Christopher Shenk, a geologist at the USGS in Denver.

Before Castro's 1959 revolution, U.S. oil companies such as Esso and
Amoco carried out preliminary explorations. The following year, Cuba
nationalized refineries belonging to Exxon, Texaco and Shell (
(RDSA,RDSB), and U.S. industry hasn't been back since.

In the modern era, Cuba's first significant oil find came in 1971
when Soviet engineers discovered the Varadero field, east of Havana.
After the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba opened its oil program to
foreign investment in 1993. Today, companies from Spain, Norway,
India, Malaysia and China are involved, either drilling wells onshore
or using horizontal drilling to reach reservoirs in shallow coastal

Canada's Sherritt is the most active foreign company with nine fields
operating onshore and five exploration or appraisal blocs being
drilled, says Michael Minnes, a company spokesman. Daily output from
the company's wells averages a modest 30,000 barrels a day, down from
about 43,000 in 2004.

"It's like any other foreign jurisdiction or developing nation. There
are challenges, and there are opportunities," Minnes said. "We see
Cuba as a great environment to do business in."

So far, only one offshore well has been drilled, in July 2004 by
Spanish oil company Repsol. The company said it found oil at the site
95 miles southwest of Key West, though not in commercially viable
deposits. Since then, the Spanish company has teamed with Norway's
Norsk Hydro, one of a select number of global oil companies with
expertise in deepwater exploration, according to Jorge Pinon, the
former president of Amoco's Latin American operations.

Offshore drilling this year

In an interview this week, Rodriguez, the chief of the Cuban
interests section in Washington, said widespread offshore drilling
could start by the end of this year. Cuban exploration, like drilling
ventures elsewhere, has been slowed by a worldwide shortage of
drilling rigs that has increased daily lease rates by more than 60%
since fall 2005.

Offshore wells aren't cheap: Those envisioned in Cuban waters will
cost $40 million to $50 million, says Pinon, the former oil executive
now affiliated with the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies. "This is a very high-risk, high-reward area,"
R.S. Butola, managing director of India's ONGC, said on the company's

Since 1981, the U.S. has observed a moratorium on coastal drilling,
except for a portion of the Gulf of Mexico and limited areas off of
Alaska. The drilling ban was enacted after a series of high-profile
oil industry environmental disasters. Perhaps the most notorious: the
1969 Santa Barbara spill that released 3 million gallons of oil in
waters off of California, coating 35 miles of coastline with oil up
to 6 inches thick.

Last year, the House voted to relax the prohibition on offshore
drilling, but the measure died in the Senate. There may be close to
95 billion barrels of oil affected by the ban, according to the
Interior Department.

The House-passed bill still would have allowed individual states to
ban drilling up to 100 miles from their shores. But Cuba's wells
could eventually be as close to the USA as 60 miles from Key West.
The two countries agreed in 1977 to a maritime boundary that evenly
divides the waters between them.

Capitol Hill takes notice

The prospect of foreign oil companies drilling Cuban wells so close
to American shores has unnerved some on Capitol Hill. Sen. Bill
Nelson, D-Fla., last year introduced legislation to deny U.S. visas
to executives employed by oil companies involved in the Cuban
program. Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Nelson, says the senator
plans to reintroduce the measure this year. Nelson also wants the
United States to renegotiate the 1977 treaty that defines the
U.S.-Cuban maritime boundary, a proposal Cuba's Rodriguez called

Others see the prospect of Cuban offshore oil rigs as a reason to
relax the U.S. embargo. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., co-authored
legislation last year that would have permitted U.S. firms to sell
their services to companies drilling for Cuba or to drill themselves.

"U.S. companies should be able to bid on these oil leases. . If there
are going to be oil rigs within 50 miles of Florida, . I'd rather see
U.S. oil rigs than Chinese oil rigs, given technological and safety
considerations," Flake said in a telephone interview.

For now, Big Oil is staying out of the political fray. But, at a time
when unexplored terrain is rapidly shrinking, the oil industry would
eagerly jump into Cuban waters if given the chance.

One year ago, a U.S.-Cuba Energy Summit attracted representatives
from Exxon and a handful of smaller oil service companies to three
days of meetings in Mexico City. Attendees viewed PowerPoint
presentations from Cuban government ministries including state-owned
oil company Cupet that invited American companies to help exploit
"several giant oil and gas fields."

Events since July, when Castro's illness forced him to step aside,
have rekindled industry interest in Cuba's future. "U.S. oil
companies would love to do business there as soon as this thing opens
up," says Ron Harper, an analyst at IHS Energy in Houston. "They're
looking at it quietly. They'd be short-sighted not to."

Earlier this week, Rodriguez reiterated that Cuba remains open to the
U.S. industry's involvement and may hold a second summit this year,
either in Mexico or Canada. But he said time may be running out for
the U.S. to change course. "In my opinion, if the American companies
are not able to get something, some changes before no more than one
year, after that it will be too late," he said.

For now, any U.S. involvement remains only hypothetical. Houston
oilman Antonio Szabo, president of Stone Bond Technologies, says U.S.
companies likely would require greater transparency, a commitment to
the rule of law and market economics in Cuba before investing
significant money there.

Some in the oil industry also have long memories when it comes to
Cuba. At the 1997 World Petroleum Congress in Beijing, a Cuban
official approached Lee Raymond, then Exxon's chief executive, and
asked in a jocular tone when the U.S. oil giant might return to Cuba.
"When you give us back our (expletive) refinery," Raymond growled.

Cuban officials note they already have willing partners from Canada,
Spain, Norway, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Venezuela and China.
Rodriguez made clear that the United States has no veto over Cuba's
oil plans.

"Everyone knows how advanced is American technology," the Cuban
diplomat said. "But we are going to continue with our programs - with
American companies or without American companies."


February 23, 2007
February 23, 2007; Page A5
VIA Email from:
Walter Lippmann

MEXICO CITY -- The Cuban government refused to renew the visas of at
least two resident foreign journalists, dimming hopes it will move
forward with reforms as Fidel Castro fades from power.

The refusals were "part of a political tightening in the expectation
that when Fidel dies they will have total control and there won't be
any opposition or resistance," said Jaime Suchlicki, an expert on
Cuba at the University of Miami.

Mr. Castro, 80 years old, handed power over to his brother, longtime
Defense Minister Raúl Castro, 75, on a provisional basis after
undergoing surgery in July. Since then, many analysts have speculated
that the younger Castro, who is believed to be more pragmatic than
his brother, would experiment with reforms and fresh thinking.

Since the younger Castro assumed power, there have been some signals
of a domestic thaw. In one speech, Raúl Castro urged university
students to question authority. On another occasion, intellectuals
took the unprecedented action of demanding an apology from the
government for seeming to bring back a hard-line official who had
been involved in censuring writers decades ago. The younger Castro
also has called for negotiations with the U.S. to resolve the
differences between the two countries.

While Raúl Castro has sounded like a moderate, Ramiro Valdez, a
hard-line former interior minister who is information and technology
minister, has been cracking down on the use of parabolic antennas
used by Cubans to pick up television signals from the U.S. He also
defended the restrictions Cuba places on its citizens to access the

Cuba recently announced regulations that it would require
correspondents to renew permits every 30 days, enabling the
government to keep a tighter leash on journalists.

Gary Marx, who has been based in Havana for the Chicago Tribune since
2002, and Cesar Gonzalez Calero, a reporter for the Mexico City daily
El Universal, were told this week by Cuban officials that their visas
wouldn't be renewed and they could no longer report from the island,
according to the Chicago Tribune and El Universal.

The Chicago Tribune said a reporter for the South Florida
Sun-Sentinel will continue to staff the Tribune Co. bureau in Havana,
and the Cuban government had told Mr. Marx that the government would
welcome an application from a new Chicago Tribune correspondent.

The Tribune quoted Mr. Marx as saying the Cuban government said it
had revoked his visa because he had been on the island too long, and
didn't give any examples of stories to which they objected.

Julia Sweig, a Cuba specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations,
said the Cuban government often exhibits a contradictory pattern of
opening up in one area and battening down in another. "It's like,
'Just in case someone is getting too excited that we might have
process of reform, we'll take a whack at the foreign press to show
who we are -- a closed society,' " she said.


6) An American in Cuba
Nationality trumps race, and color still matters.
But everyone struggles together.
Erin Aubry Kaplan
February 21, 2007,1,1332754.column?coll=la-news-columns

Havana — VISITING CUBA last week for the first time, I immediately
noticed something both startling and reassuring: Just about everyone
looks like me.

People are black. And black in an American way, with a range of skin
color and features and that I see every day from Leimert Park to
Compton. I know folks like these, have family like them. Ninety miles
offshore from my native country, I am home.

But I am not. People of color here identify first with their country,
not with their race; Cuba and the state of its revolucion are a
discussion everyone has in common. Before this trip, sponsored by the
Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies at North Carolina
Agricultural and Technical State University, I read about this
nationalism and admired it. But it was difficult to believe.

Surely, my American consciousness told me, race trumps everything —
undermines the best political intentions the world over. The racial
situation in Cuba, I expected, would be no different, or not
different enough, from the hard lines of racial separatism that still
define the U.S. I was ready to embrace my suffering brethren — give
them the benefit of my experience.

They didn't need me to. Race in Cuba is different, though hardly in
the way I expected. People I met did tend to talk ideology first, but
it was more mundane things that stood out: the casual, confident way
people walked and talked, the lack of tension in the streets (which
also lacked decent cars and were lined with decrepit buildings).
Where I saw ghettos, Cubans simply saw the places they had always
lived, a byproduct of a 50-year social experiment that had worked in
their favor. They had literacy and life expectancy and college
attendance rates on a par with, if not greater than, those in the

Despite the grim visuals, in other words, some crucial things worked
for them. It struck me that in the U.S., blacks often have great
visuals — a nice car, clothes — but the crucial things are still
missing. Cuba struggles, but with a payoff and with a sense that
everyone struggles together. In the U.S., for all our talk of
diversity, we struggle apart. And blacks struggle apart most of all.

Yet color does matter here; a common history of slavery assures that.
Digna Castañeda, a diminutive, decidedly black woman who teaches
history at the University of Havana, said both countries have the
infamous one-drop rule, though it is differently applied. "In the
U.S., one drop of black blood makes you black," she explained. "But
here in Cuba, it's the reverse — one drop of white blood makes you

Which is to say, people with any bit of black ancestry like to
identify themselves as white or mulatto, not black. This color
aversion is awfully familiar to me. But Cuba's law is that there is
no institutional racism. It is officially and culturally a mestizo
nation. Still, I wonder: Where do they draw the line between mulatto
and black? At what point is whiteness undetectable and blackness
inarguable? And who draws that line?

Our tour guide, Abel, was young, stern looking and wiry. He looked
black. He said he was, but his ID card said mulatto. Another guide
and fellow journalist, Alicia, looked similarly black; she also
considered herself mulatto. When I suggested that dark-skinned people
have it worst here, she didn't disagree. But when I criticized the
dolls with big lips and black skin that populate the souvenir stands,
she shrugged. "They're just funny to us," she said.

Funny? I'm not sure if that's denial or liberation. I think it's the
first, but I can't transcend the American paradigm in order to know.
What I know for certain is that even in a mestizo society, it's
clearly better to be mestizo than not. Though it may not have the
same effect, the racial math here is calculated the same way it is at

It's an uneasy kind of solidarity, not the sort I was expecting. Not
surprisingly, I was mistaken for Cuban more than once. "You look
Cuban," people told me. I felt for a fleeting moment the thrill of
nationalism that I'd never quite known. Wrong country, though.
"You look American" — I'm still waiting for that one.


7) "I Want To Be Free": 9-Year-Old Canadian Citizen Pleads
From Texas Immigration Jail
Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Majid and his nine-year old son Kevin are Iranian immigrants
currently being held at the Hutto detention center. They’ve been
forcibly detained since their plane was forced to make an emergency
landing in Puerto Rico as they made their way to Canada. Kevin says:
“I want to be free. I want go to outside. I want to go home to Canada.”
[includes rush transcript]

We are also joined on the phone by an Iranian immigrant named Majid
from inside the Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. He, his wife
and nine-year-old son Kevin have been held at the center for the
past 19 days.

Majid, Iranian immigrant detained at Hutto detention center.
Kevin, Majid’s nine-year old son.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to break in for one minute, because
we have just gotten a call from the Hutto detention facility. We're
joined on the phone by an Iranian immigrant named Majid, from
inside the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. He, his wife,
his nine-year-old son Kevin have been held at the center for the
past nineteen days. Majid, your story is quite a remarkable one.
Can you tell us how you ended up at this Texas jail?

MAJID: Hello. Thanks for taking my call. I was on my way to go
to Toronto, Canada, and my plane was -- after three hours in the
flight, somebody died on the plane and had an emergency landing
to Costa Rica. After that, they said everybody should come out.
After that, we went out. Immigration, they said you need to have
American visa. We had no American visa. And they hold us over there --

AMY GOODMAN: Now, just to be clear, you were never planning
to end up in the United States, is that right? You were flying to Canada,
but another passenger on the plane had a heart attack, and so you
guys had a forced landing in Puerto Rico, and when you had to come
out of the plane, while he was taken off the plane, that's when they
took you?

MAJID: Yes. This happened, yes -- was a Canadian Zoom Airline,
and our ticket was direct from Guyana to Toronto. And this happened.
They hold us -- my son is Canadian -- hold child is nine-and-a-half
years old, and they put us in detention in Puerto Rico. And from Monday
to Friday, I was in the jail in Puerto Rico between criminal people,
and my wife and son was other place. We had no news from each
other from Monday morning until Friday at noon, until we see each
other in a Puerto Rico airport. After that, they brought us here to
Hutto Detention Center, and here we are in same part, but different
room. My wife and my son is room, but it’s totally inside the room,
uncovered toilet. My son has asthma, and he’s very bad and still
comes here. It’s very horrible here. And we are in very bad situation.
We need help. We need the people help me --

JUAN GONZALEZ: Majid, in other words, basically, what reason did
they give you for holding you if you never intended to enter the
United States at all? What reason did they give for locking you up?

MAJID: Because they said, “You have an American visa?” That's why
you have to stay here. Just plane was waiting one hour for us, but
they didn't let us pass. A few officers came. They said Immigration
officers -- six, seven -- they said, “We’re going to send you, but
let us make decision.” After that, they called the police chief.
He came there. He said, “Let me think five minutes.” After five
minutes, he came, he said, “I’m going to send you to Canada,
but I’m afraid to lose my job. But usually we have to send with
your plane, but we keep you here. America is much better than
Canada. Here you have safer place. We send you to hotel, and after
a few days, you're going to be free.” But they broke their promise.
That's why they keep us here, and we have very bad situation here.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Do you know whether any other passengers
on your plane were also detained in the same way, or was your
family the only one, as far as you can tell?

MAJID: Only my family. No other passenger.

AMY GOODMAN: I just want to say to our listeners and viewers,
we are not giving your full name, we’re not showing your face
at your request. You did apply for political asylum in Canada
in the past when you lived there for ten years. You were ultimately
denied, sent back to Iran. And what happened when you were
sent back to Iran, you and your wife?

MAJID: Yes. In December 2005, we sent to Iran, whole family,
when my Canadian son born. And all documents -- the immigration
officer gave all our documents to the captain of plane. After that,
in Italy, we went with the Alitalia Airline. In Italy, police came to
plane. They took us to [inaudible] room in the transit of Italy, and
after that, again, they put us in the plane and give all documents
to the captain of Alitalia again. We went to Iran, and in Iran, the
plane’s captain said, “You have to sit until the police come to take
you.” All passengers went out, and four Iranian secret police came
in the plane, and he got all documents from the captain, and they
took us in the airport in the secret police office. We were there for
a few hours, four or five hours, in the same room.

After that, they separate us. They took me to other place, unknown
place. I was in Iran a small cell for six months, and lots of torture and
hitting. Now I have physical problem and knee problem and lots of
things. And they took my wife to other prison, where we have no
news from each other. And for six months, my wife was one year
and one month in the prison, and she [inaudible] -- after she was
free she [inaudible] the child, and because they [inaudible] him, and
she was [inaudible] two, three time in the jail. And it's a very bad
situation. But we had no news from each other. They told my wife,
because your husband, you have to cooperate with us.

AMY GOODMAN: They said they killed you?

MAJID: Yeah, they a few times told. One time they told her, “He's
in coma.” The other time, they said, “Already he was killed.” And,
you know, many times they play with her. After one month, they
free her in the street at nighttime. They did with me, too, after
six months, a lot of torture. And this one, they free me in the
street out of the town with closed eyes. And I didn't see anybody,
but they took me in daytime some day in winter -- you know, they
take my pants off to put in very cold water. They already broke the
ice, they put in the water, and they hit me every day, hitting me.

And when I came out, I was less than thirty kilograms, my weight.
And my wife was different, six months was under psychologist’s
medication over that. And after free, I should register two times
a week, every Sunday and Thursday. And when I took -- they took
us over there, they took me over there again. One week, they put
me in detention, and the other time, again three days. And after
that, one guard told me, “I’m going to help you.” After that, he
called me, said, “OK, your future is very dangerous. You have
to leave. Otherwise, you are in big trouble. I don't know what
will happen to you and your family.” That's why we decided
and we escaped from there.

AMY GOODMAN: And you tried to go to Canada. Can you put
your son Kevin on? He's standing next to you, nine years old?

MAJID: Yes. Just hold on, please?

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. We're talking to Majid and Kevin
in the Hutto Detention Center that’s run by the Corrections
Corporation of America in Taylor, Texas.

KEVIN: Hello.

AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Kevin. How are you?

KEVIN: Not good.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us the situation you're in right now
and what you want to happen right now?

KEVIN: Excuse me, I didn't hear you.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe where you are right now?

KEVIN: I’m in US jail right now.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Kevin, where are you staying at night?
Are you with your parents, or are they locking you
up separately?

KEVIN: I’m with my parents, but we’re in separate rooms.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In separate rooms?

KEVIN: Yeah.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And are they letting you -- are you getting
any kind of education, or are you just sitting in your cell all day?

KEVIN: We’re sitting in the cell all day.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to do now, Kevin?

KEVIN: I want to be free. I want to go outside, and I want to
go to school. I want to be in my homeland: Canada.

AMY GOODMAN: You want to go home to Canada?

KEVIN: What?

AMY GOODMAN: You want to go home to Canada?

KEVIN: Yeah. My home is in Canada.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you with your parents in Iran?

KEVIN: My parents -- what?

AMY GOODMAN: Were you with your mother and father in Iran?

KEVIN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And you were coming on the plane?

KEVIN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: What are the people telling you? Can
you go to Canada?


AMY GOODMAN: What are the guards telling you?
Will they release you?

KEVIN: I forgot what they were saying, but they told us
some stuff. I forgot what they were saying to us.

JUAN GONZALEZ: How are the other children there? Are you
spending time with any of the other children?


AMY GOODMAN: They don't let you spend time with the
other children?

KEVIN: No. I’m sleeping beside the washroom, and I can't --
and I’m upstairs. I can't go to the washroom all the time. And
there's a lot of smell coming out from the washroom. And the
food is garbage. And the school is very bad. I can't learn anything
good. And I have asthma, and I got sick in here. I can't stay
here anymore.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin, you said you're sleeping next
to the bathroom?

KEVIN: Yeah. And it's not a separate room. It's right beside the bed.
And I’m sleeping beside the wall, and my back gets sick and it hurts.

AMY GOODMAN: How is your mother?

KEVIN: My mother is sick.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin, can you put your father back on the phone?


AMY GOODMAN: Kevin is nine years old. He's a Canadian citizen, came
from Iran with his parents. They were flying over the United States,
when the plane had to land in Puerto Rico because a passenger had
a heart attack, and when they landed, the Majid family -- we're not
using their real name -- was taken off the flight. Majid, have you talked
to the Canadian consulate, and what is your hope when you get
to Canada, if you get to Canada?

MAJID: Yeah, on Monday, they came here. They said -- they come here,
and we spoke to each other. They mostly asked my wife and Kevin, “What's
your food, and what kind of food they give you? Are you in same room
with family?” My son said no, because he said, I was told -- “All your
family in one room?” -- he said, “No, we are in separate room, and
the toilet is inside, the uncovered toilet, in the room.” And only they
said [inaudible] said, “You’re going to help us?” They said, “We don't
know. You have to speak with your lawyer.” After that, just regarding
information, my son’s birth certificate information, and they left. And
two days ago, I tried to call them in consul, and no response, because
he was to be phone. I tried again, but I couldn't reach him. No more
information I have.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Majid, now, do you have a lawyer who is helping
you? And do you have a scheduled hearing anytime in the future
on your case?

MAJID: Yeah. I have lawyers that’s from immigration clinic here.
They’re students. They’re working. They are very good people. And no
hearing. Two or three time, I requested for hearing, but no response
so far in the past seventeen, eighteen days here. No response.
We don't know what's going to happen for us.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you want to stay in the United States?

MAJID: You know, we escaped from Iran, OK? We escaped to be
safe and free with my family. But our plan was in Canada. And
I don't know, they keep us here. Anyway, we want safe and free,
Canada or US. If Canada give us a visa, we go there; we go to US,
if here, we’ll stay here.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you afraid to use your full name
or to show your face?

MAJID: Because everybody knows the Iran. The Iran’s -- like this,
we are in very bad situation, because I don't trust here
immigration, because the first time they said lots of things
to us, but they broke their promise. They said you're going to
happen this, this, but now they said we're going to deported.
OK, maybe we deported. And we are like this. We are in 100%
in danger. If our whole full name goes, it's 200% in danger, because
especially United States -- if you go from other country, you have
less risk with government. If you go from United States, because
they said “US is our enemy,” they said, Iranian authorities says, OK?
But that's why we are in more and more trouble if we go back,
because they will say, “Why you go to US and this happen?”

AMY GOODMAN: Joshua Bardavid is an attorney that we are sitting
with in the New York studio. When you listen to this story,
what are your thoughts?

JOSHUA BARDAVID: Unfortunately, this is -- what he is experiencing
is a very common experience. It is the reflexive use of detention
for asylum seekers. The Majid family, they’re survivors -- from what
he’s describing, he’s a survivor of torture. He was detained in Iran.
He is seeking freedom, in this case, in Canada, arrives in the United
States and is placed back in detention. The re-traumatizing effects
of being placed back in detention cannot be underestimated. You
have a child who is sleeping in what was a jail cell for a maximum-
security prison that has been converted, but they still leave the
exposed toilet, you know, sitting in the middle of their room. There's
no privacy. With other children, he's in a room separate from his parents.
Now, but the door may be not locked at night, but that door is certainly
shut, and it’s a steel heavy door. They are placed in a prison. There's
no doubt that this is a prison. And what is particularly troubling about
this is that this was designed for the purpose of holding families,
yet they made a conscious decision to maintain the facility as a prison,
to leave the barbed wire, to leave the doors, to leave the environment
as a prison.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what about the issue -- I don't know if you've
found with other of your clients -- given the fact that you do have young
children like this, you’d think there would be some kind of process
for expedited hearing to find out -- have an immigration judge review
the case, but they've been there now, what, more than two weeks now.

JOSHUA BARDAVID: Yeah, that's definitely another troubling aspect.
In order to sentence somebody in the United States to two weeks in
jail, you would need to have guilt proved beyond a reasonable doubt
by a jury of your peers. In order for the Majit family to spend an
additional two weeks in jail, it simply could take an administrative
delay. This is one of the problems.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about the role of these private
prison companies. The Hutto facility is run by CCA, the Corrections
Corporation of America. In fact, the jail is named after CCA’s cofounder,
T. Don Hutto. I want to play a comment made by William Andrews, the
chair of the CCA board, during a conference call with investors two
weeks ago.

WILLIAM ANDREWS: I don't want to leave anybody with the impression
that these facilities that are being reported in the paper of ICE are in
any way substandard. In fact, they are above standard, and the reports
come from special interest groups that are attempting to do away
with privatization and the whole immigration situation. And, you know,
we welcome anybody to visit our facilities. And the family facility, particularly,
at T. Don Hutto is almost like a home.

AMY GOODMAN: That was William Andrews, the chair of the board of the
Corrections Corporation of America, describing the conditions at the Hutto
jail as “almost like a home.” Michelle Brane in Washington, D.C., your response?

MICHELLE BRANE: Well, as I mentioned already, and has been made very
clear by your other guests, it is very clearly a prison that is being used
to house inmates, and it has no resemblance to a home. I mean, there’s
sofas. There are plastic sofas and TVs, but that’s about it. And one of
the things that's very disturbing about this model that they’re using is that
there are alternatives. As I mentioned before, there are pre-hearing
release programs that could be used.

There’s a whole range of ways to ensure that people appear for hearings,
that they don't abscond and that enforcement of our immigration laws
can be accomplished without resorting to these drastic measures. And
that's one of the things that we've really been stressing in the report,
is that, you know, as you've heard from the responses, in the White
House response and the ICE response to our report, and to other
complaints about the Hutto facility, they are presenting it as an
alternative of either a facility like this or complete separation, into
different buildings and different centers, of entire families. And there
is a wide range of other alternatives in between those two.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. I also
want to thank Majid and Kevin. And we will certainly continue to cover
their story and update you on the situation. For one brief moment,
because they called in in the middle of you describing your own clients,
if you could briefly finish, Joshua, and then we're going to go to
Raymondville, to something that is, well, a tent city, a prison camp
for immigrants in the tip of Texas. But very briefly.

JOSHUA BARDAVID: Well, my clients now, the Hazahza family, who
are being held in Haskell, which is a county facility and is a maximum-
security facility, this is an entire family that again is being separated
in this center in extremely harsh conditions, that includes isolation
of a seventeen-year-old, who has now turned eighteen, but at the time
he was seventeen when he was placed in solitary confinement. You
have the -- there is physical threats. There is strip searches as a common
tool of discipline. And it is a prison. And this is an ongoing problem
with intermingling immigration detainees with criminal violent
offenders in the United States.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, again, the reason for their detention is they’re
-- are they asylum seekers?

JOSHUA BARDAVID: They were asylum seekers. They lost their asylum
hearing, but the US government has been unable to remove them,
so they do not know what to do with them, so they placed them
in this facility.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Joshua Bardavid, for joining us.

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8) U.S. Weighs Extra Steps on Iran White House May Pursue
Sanctions Targeting Guard Corps Assets
February 22, 2007; Page A6
VIA Email from: Walter Lippmann

WASHINGTON -- Amid signs of economic unease in Iran, the U.S. and its
European partners are weighing another set of financial restrictions
on Tehran, including the possibility of targeting companies run by
the country's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.

. The Goal: Officials from the U.S. and Europe say that U.N.
sanctions on Iran are working and plan to pursue further financial
restrictions in the Security Council to force Tehran to the
negotiating table.

. The Alternative: If the Security Council doesn't act, as is likely,
the Bush administration will take its own measures, and is keen to
find ways to home in on the growing business operations of the
Revolutionary Guard, Iran's paramilitary force.

. The Hurdle: Despite rising friction among various factions in Iran
over how to proceed on the nuclear front, there are few suggestions
so far that the Iranian government plans to bend.

U.S. and European officials say that the move toward a second round
of United Nations sanctions, which would likely involve freezing the
overseas assets of certain Iranian companies or individuals, reflects
their cautious optimism that sustained pressure on Tehran might
succeed in bringing the country to the negotiating table over its
nuclear program. International financial restrictions, including a
U.N. package in December, have stirred significant debate within Iran
about the wisdom of confrontation with the outside world, as the
economy there begins to show signs of distress.

Bush administration officials say they are also considering ways for
the U.S. to ramp up pressure on its own if countries within the U.N.
Security Council balk at sterner steps, as is likely. The
administration is particularly keen to find ways to home in on the
growing business operations of the Revolutionary Guard, the country's
secretive paramilitary force also known as the IRGC.

Keeping up the pressure may not be easy. Of the five permanent
members of the Security Council, France, Britain and the U.S. are
eager to push ahead on a second resolution and have already begun to
consider some potential targets. But China and, above all, Russia are
wary of pushing too hard. "Russia will control the pace of things
going forward," said one U.S. official.

The December resolution gave Iran a 60-day ultimatum to freeze its
uranium-enrichment work or face stiffer economic sanctions. The West
alleges Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of a
civilian nuclear program; Iran insists it is developing an
independent energy source. The U.N. deadline lapsed yesterday,
without any signs of compromise from Iran.

Despite rising friction among various factions in Iran over how to
proceed on the nuclear front, there are few suggestions so far that
the Iranian government plans to bend. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
said earlier this week that Iran might be willing to suspend its
uranium-enrichment work if other countries did the same, an offer the
U.S. quickly rejected. Yesterday, he said in a speech that the U.S.
and others will not "thwart the will of the Iranian nation to achieve
the peaceful use of nuclear technology."

Still, the combination of U.N. sanctions and more-focused U.S.
financial actions has already scared away some international business
from Iran and increased the cost for Iran of conducting international
trade. Recent U.S. moves to isolate Iranian banks and companies from
international financial circles have led several major European banks
to cut off their operations in Iran. So far, European trade with Iran
hasn't slumped substantially.

Current and former U.S. officials say they are now focusing on how to
combat the IRGC, which is seen as the power base behind Mr.
Ahmadinejad's presidency and the central Iranian player supporting
militant Islamist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. The IRGC is
also central to Tehran's pursuit of unconventional weaponry, and it
has increasingly taken a leading role in Tehran's business
activities, particularly gaining concessions in lucrative oil and gas
deposits, U.S. officials say.

The December U.N. resolution singled out the financial assets of two
of the IRGC's top leaders, Major Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi and IRGC Air
Force chief Gen. Hosein Salimi. It alleged that both are aiding
Iran's pursuit of nuclear technologies and long-range missiles.

Some U.S. officials now want to expand these sanctions to target the
financial assets of the IRGC. These officials argue that the listing
of the two IRGC leaders in the December resolution gives the
international community legal grounds to try to freeze all IRGC
assets internationally. The IRGC's oil and gas investments are seen
as particularly vulnerable, because they often would involve foreign
partners or foreign financing to succeed. Some U.S. officials believe
many Iranians would support sanctions against the IRGC, because the
organization is gaining a greater hold over Iran's overall economy.

Singling out the IRGC "buttresses domestic criticism of the regime's
cronyism; and it pulls at the purse strings of the specific element
of the Iranian bureaucracy responsible for the region's most
egregious behavior," said Matthew Levitt, who served as the
Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis
until last month.

Some U.S. and European officials working on Iran said there isn't yet
a consensus internationally or in Washington to challenge the IRGC
directly. Others disagree over whether the U.N. mandate provides the
legal grounds to try to freeze the IRGC's assets, while some U.S.
diplomats worry that taking a confrontational stance against the IRGC
risks undermining continuing efforts to find a negotiated settlement
over Iran's nuclear program.

A second U.N. sanctions resolution would most likely seek to expand
the list of targeted Iranian companies and individuals whose assets
abroad would be frozen, U.S. and European officials said. The U.S.
may try to include more IRGC officials, or even IRGC companies, on an
expanded list, although that debate has yet to begin among U.N.
Security Council members, which would need to approve any new
sanctions on Iran.

The December resolution demanded that countries freeze the assets of
10 companies and organizations and 12 individuals involved in Iran's
nuclear and ballistic missile programs. That list was the result of
months of debate between the U.S., Britain, France and Germany on one
side, and Russia on the other. China was less involved in the
negotiations. Moscow, in particular, resisted the imposition of any
restrictions that would take aim at Iran's economy generally or that
would impede its continuing construction of a nuclear-energy plant in


9) Cheney: 'All Options' Available for Iran
Filed at 3:42 a.m. ET
February 24, 2007

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday
renewed Washington's warning to Iran that ''all options'' are on the
table if the country continues to defy U.N.-led efforts to end
Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

At a joint news conference with Prime Minister John Howard during a
visit to Australia, Cheney also said Washington was ''comfortable''
with Britain's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq and that it was
up to Australia to decide if it would do the same.

Cheney said the United States was ''deeply concerned'' about Iran's
activities, including the ''aggressive'' sponsoring of terrorist
group Hezbollah and inflammatory statements by President Mahmoud

He said top U.S. officials would meet soon with European allies to
decide the next step toward planned tough sanctions against Iran if
it continues enriching uranium.

''We worked with the European community and the United Nations to put
together a set of policies to persuade the Iranians to give up their
aspirations and resolve the matter peacefully, and that is still our
preference,'' Cheney said.

''But I've also made the point, and the president has made the point,
that all options are on the table,'' he said, leaving open the
possibility of military action.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Thursday that Iran
had not only ignored a U.N. Security Council ultimatum to freeze its
enrichment program, but had expanded the program by setting up
hundreds of centrifuges. Enriched uranium fuels nuclear reactors but,
enriched further, is used in nuclear bombs.

The IAEA report came after the expiration Wednesday of a 60-day grace
period for Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad said on Thursday it was of no importance if countries did
not believe Iran's nuclear activities were peaceful, and said the
country would resist ''all bullies.''

Howard said efforts to keep Iran in check would be hampered if the
United States and its allies lose the Iraq war.

''I can't think of a country whose influence and potential clout
would be more enhanced in that part of the world than Iran's could be
if there were to be a coalition defeat in Iraq,'' Howard said.

On Iraq, Cheney sidestepped a question about whether the White House
had asked the British government to redeploy troops into another part
of Iraq rather than withdraw them.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has outlined a plan to withdraw
about 1,600 troops from southern Iraq in the coming months, and to
reduce Britain's 7,100-strong contingent further by late summer.

''They are going to continue to have a major presence there. They are
also ... beefing up their operations in Afghanistan,'' Cheney said.
''So we are very comfortable with that decision.''

Britain said Friday it will increase its troop strength in
Afghanistan to bolster NATO forces battling Taliban militants, with
media reports saying 1,000 soldiers will join the more than 5,000
troops already there.

Cheney declined to say if he had asked Howard during talks held
Saturday to add to the 1,400 troops Australian has in and around

''It's not for us to stress to our allies what their appropriate
response might be,'' Cheney said, adding there would be no damage to
the U.S.-Australian military alliance if Australia did withdraw its

Cheney -- due to leave Australia on Sunday -- promised that an
Australian who has been detained without trial at the U.S. military
prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than five years was ''near
the head of the queue'' of possible military trials.

Howard said he had expressed Australia's concern at the length of
time it was taking to bring David Hicks, a former kangaroo skinner
who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 on the Taliban side, to

''I can assure you we will be doing everything we can to deal with
these matters in as expeditious manner as possible,'' Cheney said.


10) US Economy Leaving Record Numbers in Severe Poverty
by Tony Pugh
February 23, 2007

The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has
reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer
to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and
"have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest
available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep
or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual
income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was
considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made
less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor
Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent
faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period.
McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases
in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215
large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review
also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined
to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual
economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically
since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have
lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income
going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages
and salaries. That helps explain why the median household income
of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five
straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's
37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate since
at least 1975.

The share of poor Americans in deep poverty has climbed slowly
but steadily over the last three decades. But since 2000, the number
of severely poor has grown "more than any other segment of the
population," according to a recent study in the American Journal
of Preventive Medicine.

"That was the exact opposite of what we anticipated when we began,"
said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who
co-authored the study. "We're not seeing as much moderate poverty
as a proportion of the population. What we're seeing is a dramatic
growth of severe poverty."

The growth spurt, which leveled off in 2005, in part reflects how
hard it is for low-skilled workers to earn their way out of poverty
in an unstable job market that favors skilled and educated workers.
It also suggests that social programs aren't as effective as they once
were at catching those who fall into economic despair.

About one in three severely poor people are under age 17, and
nearly two out of three are female. Female-headed families with
children account for a large share of the severely poor.

Nearly two out of three people (10.3 million) in severe poverty are
white, but blacks (4.3 million) and Hispanics of any race (3.7 million)
make up disproportionate shares. Blacks are nearly three times
as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be in deep poverty, while Hispanics
are roughly twice as likely.

Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, has a higher concentration
of severely poor people - 10.8 percent in 2005 - than any of the
50 states, topping even hurricane-ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana,
with 9.3 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively. Nearly six of 10 poor
District residents are in extreme poverty.


A few miles from the Capitol Building, 60-year-old John Treece
pondered his life in deep poverty as he left a local food pantry
with two bags of free groceries.

Plagued by arthritis, back problems and myriad ailments from years
of manual labor, Treece has been unable to work full time for 15 years.
He's tried unsuccessfully to get benefits from the Social Security
Administration, which he said disputes his injuries and work history.

In 2006, an extremely poor individual earned less than $5,244
a year, according to federal poverty guidelines. Treece said he
earned about that much in 2006 doing odd jobs.

Wearing shoes with holes, a tattered plaid jacket and a battered
baseball cap, Treece lives hand-to-mouth in a $450-a-month
room in a nondescript boarding house in a high-crime neighborhood.
Thanks to food stamps, the food pantry and help from relatives,
Treece said he never goes hungry. But toothpaste, soap, toilet
paper and other items that require cash are tougher to come by.

"Sometimes it makes you want to do the wrong thing, you know,"
Treece said, referring to crime. "But I ain't a kid no more. I can't
do no time. At this point, I ain't got a lotta years left."

Treece remains positive and humble despite his circumstances.

"I don't ask for nothing," he said. "I just thank the Lord for this
day and ask that tomorrow be just as blessed."

Like Treece, many who did physical labor during their peak
earning years have watched their job prospects dim as their
bodies gave out.

David Jones, the president of the Community Service Society
of New York City, an advocacy group for the poor, testified before
the House Ways and Means Committee last month that he was
shocked to discover how pervasive the problem was.

"You have this whole cohort of, particularly African-Americans
of limited skills, men, who can't participate in the workforce
because they don't have skills to do anything but heavy labor,"
he said.


Severe poverty is worst near the Mexican border and in some
areas of the South, where 6.5 million severely poor residents
are struggling to find work as manufacturing jobs in the textile,
apparel and furniture-making industries disappear. The Midwestern
Rust Belt and areas of the Northeast also have been hard hit as
economic restructuring and foreign competition have forced
numerous plant closings.

At the same time, low-skilled immigrants with impoverished family
members are increasingly drawn to the South and Midwest to work
in the meatpacking, food processing and agricultural industries.

These and other factors such as increased fluctuations in family
incomes and illegal immigration have helped push 43 percent
of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the
highest rate in at least 32 years.

"What appears to be taking place is that, over the long term, you
have a significant permanent underclass that is not being impacted
by anti-poverty policies," said Michael Tanner, the director of Health
and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, disagreed. "It doesn't look like
a growing permanent underclass," said Sherman, whose organization
has chronicled the growth of deep poverty. "What you see in the
data are more and more single moms with children who lose their
jobs and who aren't being caught by a safety net anymore."

About 1.1 million such families account for roughly 2.1 million
deeply poor children, Sherman said.

After fleeing an abusive marriage in 2002, 42-year-old Marjorie
Sant moved with her three children from Arkansas to a seedy boarding
house in Raleigh, N.C., where the four shared one bedroom. For
most of 2005, they lived off food stamps and the $300 a month
in Social Security Disability Income for her son with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. Teachers offered clothes to Sant's children.
Saturdays meant lunch at the Salvation Army.

"To depend on other people to feed and clothe your kids is horrible,"
Sant said. "I found myself in a hole and didn't know how to get out."

In the summer of 2005, social workers warned that she'd lose her
children if her home situation didn't change. Sant then brought
her two youngest children to a temporary housing program at the
Raleigh Rescue Mission while her oldest son moved to California
to live with an adult daughter from a previous marriage.

So for 10 months, Sant learned basic office skills. She now lives in
a rented house, works two jobs and earns about $20,400 a year

Sant is proud of where she is, but she knows that "if something
went wrong, I could well be back to where I was."


As more poor Americans sink into severe poverty, more individuals
and families living within $8,000 above or below the poverty line
also have seen their incomes decline. Steven Woolf of Virginia
Commonwealth University attributes this to what he calls
a "sinkhole effect" on income.

"Just as a sinkhole causes everything above it to collapse
downward, families and individuals in the middle and upper
classes appear to be migrating to lower-income tiers that bring
them closer to the poverty threshold," Woolf wrote in the study.

Before Hurricane Katrina, Rene Winn of Biloxi, Miss., earned
$28,000 a year as an administrator for the Boys and Girls Club.
But for 11 months in 2006, she couldn't find steady work and
wouldn't take a fast-food job. As her opportunities dwindled,
Winn's frustration grew.

"Some days I feel like the world is mine and I can create my own
destiny," she said. "Other days I feel a desperate feeling. Like I gotta'
hurry up. Like my career is at a stop. Like I'm getting nowhere fast.
And that's not me because I've always been a positive person."

After relocating to New Jersey for 10 months after the storm, Winn
returned to Biloxi in September because of medical and emotional
problems with her son. She and her two youngest children moved
into her sister's home along with her mother, who has Alzheimer's.
With her sister, brother-in-law and their two children, eight people
now share a three-bedroom home.

Winn said she recently took a job as a technician at the state health
department. The hourly job pays $16,120 a year. That's enough
to bring her out of severe poverty and just $122 shy of the $16,242
needed for a single mother with two children to escape poverty
altogether under current federal guidelines.

Winn eventually wants to transfer to a higher-paying job, but she's
thankful for her current position.

"I'm very independent and used to taking care of my own, so I don't
like the fact that I have to depend on the state. I want to be able
to do it myself."

The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation
shows that, in a given month, only 10 percent of severely poor
Americans received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in
2003 - the latest year available - and that only 36 percent received
food stamps.

Many could have exhausted their eligibility for welfare or decided
that the new program requirements were too onerous. But the low
participation rates are troubling because the worst byproducts
of poverty, such as higher crime and violence rates and poor health,
nutrition and educational outcomes, are worse for those in deep poverty.

Over the last two decades, America has had the highest or near-
highest poverty rates for children, individual adults and families
among 31 developed countries, according to the Luxembourg Income
Study, a 23-year project that compares poverty and income data from
31 industrial nations.

"It's shameful," said Timothy Smeeding, the former director of the
study and the current head of the Center for Policy Research at
Syracuse University. "We've been the worst performer every year
since we've been doing this study."

With the exception of Mexico and Russia, the U.S. devotes the smallest
portion of its gross domestic product to federal anti-poverty programs,
and those programs are among the least effective at reducing poverty,
the study found. Again, only Russia and Mexico do worse jobs.

One in three Americans will experience a full year of extreme poverty
at some point in his or her adult life, according to long-term research
by Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at the University
of Wisconsin, Madison.

An estimated 58 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and
75 will spend at least a year in poverty, Rank said. Two of three will
use a public assistance program between ages 20 and 65, and
40 percent will do so for five years or more.

These estimates apply only to non-immigrants. If illegal immigrants
were factored in, the numbers would be worse, Rank said.

"It would appear that for most Americans the question is no longer
if, but rather when, they will experience poverty. In short, poverty has
become a routine and unfortunate part of the American life course,"
Rank wrote in a recent study. "Whether these patterns will continue
throughout the first decade of 2000 and beyond is difficult to say ...
but there is little reason to think that this trend will reverse itself
any time soon."


Most researchers and economists say federal poverty estimates are
a poor tool to gauge the complexity of poverty. The numbers don't
factor in assistance from government anti-poverty programs, such
as food stamps, housing subsidies and the Earned Income Tax Credit,
all of which increase incomes and help pull people out of poverty.

But federal poverty measures also exclude work-related expenses
and necessities such as day care, transportation, housing and health
care costs, which eat up large portions of disposable income,
particularly for low-income families.

Alternative poverty measures that account for these shortcomings
typically inflate or deflate official poverty statistics. But many
of those alternative measures show the same kind of long-term
trends as the official poverty data.

Robert Rector, a senior researcher with the Heritage Foundation,
a conservative think tank, questioned the growth of severe poverty,
saying that census data become less accurate farther down the income
ladder. He said many poor people, particularly single mothers
with boyfriends, underreport their income by not including cash
gifts and loans. Rector said he's seen no data that suggest increasing
deprivation among the very poor.

Arloc Sherman of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
argues that the growing number of severely poor is an indisputable fact.

"When we check against more complete government survey data and
administrative records from the benefit programs themselves, they
confirm that this trend is real," Sherman said. He added that even
among the poor, severely poor people have a much tougher time
paying their bills. "That's another sign to me that we're seeing
something real and troubling," Sherman said.

McClatchy correspondent Barbara Barrett contributed to this report.


States with the most people in severe poverty:

California - 1.9 million
Texas - 1.6 million
New York - 1.2 million
Florida - 943,670
Illinois - 681,786
Ohio - 657,415
Pennsylvania - 618,229
Michigan - 576,428
Georgia - 562,014
North Carolina - 523,511

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


11) Chávez Ends Busy Week Aiding Venezuela’s Latin Neighbors
February 24, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 23 — President Hugo Chávez met here
on Friday with President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua to discuss
an array of Venezuelan assistance programs, capping an unusually
frenetic week for this country’s efforts to enhance its political
and economic influence in parts of Latin America.

At the heart of many of the agreements reached this week —
with Nicaragua, Ecuador and Argentina — is Venezuela’s use
of its windfall from historically high oil prices, and sometimes
its own reserves and exports of oil, to lift its regional profile.

Mr. Chávez is using Venezuela’s oil revenues, valued at more
than $50 billion a year, to counter the influence of the United
States and multilateral lending organizations like the International
Monetary Fund.

The Venezuelan aid for Nicaragua has been a godsend for
Mr. Ortega, the former Sandinista guerrilla leader who was
elected president last year. Venezuela has already agreed
to forgive more than $30 million in Nicaraguan debt, provide
more than two dozen generating plants to alleviate an electricity
shortage and open an office of Venezuela’s development bank
in Managua to offer low-interest loans to small businesses.

Venezuela is also considering building an oil refinery in Nicaragua
and a pipeline across that country from the Caribbean to the Pacific
to transport Venezuelan crude oil to refineries in China and Japan,
part of an effort to move away from exporting oil to the United States.

“Nicaragua can forget about fuel problems,” Mr. Chávez said
during a recent visit to Managua.

The talks with Nicaragua were preceded in recent days by an offer
from Venezuela of $500 million in financial assistance to Ecuador,
where the administration of President Rafael Correa has been
considering efforts to restructure part of its foreign debt.

On Friday, Rafael Ramírez, Venezuela’s energy minister, was
in Ecuador for the arrival of a Venezuelan tanker carrying 220,000
barrels of diesel fuel, part of a fuel swapping deal aimed at saving
Ecuador millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

This week, Mr. Chávez’s government said it would provide $135
million in financing for an Argentine dairy cooperative. Venezuela
and Argentina also said they would create a regional development
bank and carry out a joint $1.5 billion bond issue.

The bonds are intended to offer Argentina an alternative to the
monetary fund and to give investors in Venezuela a way of acquiring
dollar-denominated securities at a time when hard currency
is increasingly sought after here.

Elsewhere, Venezuela has revealed how it deals with countries with
governments that speak critically of Mr. Chávez. Venezuela shut
an aluminum plant in Costa Rica with 400 employees last week
after Óscar Arias, Costa Rica’s president, criticized Mr. Chávez’s
recently acquired power to govern by decree.


12) Blackstone Said to Plan Sale of 10 San Francisco Buildings
February 24, 2007

The Blackstone Group, which has been rapidly dismantling its new
acquisition, Equity Office Properties, plans to sell 10 buildings
in downtown San Francisco to Morgan Stanley for $2.65 billion,
according to an executive involved in the transaction.

The buildings include One Maritime Plaza at 300 Clay Street and
a 1.4-million-square-foot waterfront complex known as One Market.
Blackstone will continue to operate the Ferry Building, which is under
long-term lease from the Port of San Francisco.

Prices for San Francisco buildings have been rising, reflecting optimism
about the office market. But while rents are also going up, only
5.7 million square feet of space was leased last year, compared
with 7.8 million square feet in 2005, according to a report by Studley,
a national brokerage firm.

Blackstone, a private equity group, paid $39 billion on Feb. 9 for Equity
Office, the nation’s largest office landlord, and has sold or is under
contract to sell $22 billion worth of buildings.

Among these are five buildings in Denver, which the company plans
to sell to Callahan Capital Partners, a new real estate investment
company formed by Timothy H. Callahan, a former chief executive
of Equity Office. Callahan will pay $750 million to $800 million.

Because a challenge from another suitor drove up the price of Equity
Office by $3 billion, Blackstone is selling more buildings than it originally
intended to. But the equity firm plans to retain buildings in several
markets where rents are expected to rise, including West Los Angeles,
Boston and Silicon Valley. It will also keep the Verizon Building on 42nd
Street and the Avenue of Americas in Midtown Manhattan, which
is being redeveloped.



Army Files New Charges in Watada Court-Martial
The Army has filed a new round of charges against a Fort Lewis
officer who refused to deploy to Iraq and spoke out publicly
against the war, resurrecting a high-profile case aborted by
a mistrial two weeks ago. In a widely expected move, the Army
on Friday filed the same charges against Lt. Ehren Watada that
were brought against him in the wake of his refusal to board
a plane bound for the Middle East on June 22.

Retired Politicians Spend Unused Campaign Funds
February 24, 2007

Defense Secretary Vows Action on Medical Center Conditions
February 24, 2007

Guinea: Parliament Ends Martial Law
Parliament refused a request from President Lansana Conté to prolong
martial law in a rare act of defiance against his autocratic rule.
The period of martial law, imposed nationwide 12 days ago
to quell protests, riots and strikes calling for Mr. Conté to step
down, expired at midnight, along with a dusk-to-dawn curfew.
“We had to go in the direction of appeasement to maintain peace
and national unity,” Soriba Sorel Camara, a senior official from
Mr. Conté’s party, said after the vote.
February 24, 2007

U.S. in Talks With Britain on Installing Missile Defense System
February 24, 2007

U.S. Seizes Son of a Top Shiite, Stirring Uproar
February 24, 2007

Canadian Court Limits Detention in Terror Cases
"OTTAWA, Feb. 23 — Canada’s highest court on Friday unanimously
struck down a law that allows the Canadian government to detain
foreign-born terrorism suspects indefinitely using secret evidence
and without charges while their deportations are being reviewed."
February 24, 2007

Sorority Evictions Raise Issue of Looks and Bias
"Worried that a negative stereotype of the sorority was contributing
to a decline in membership that had left its Greek-columned house
here half empty, Delta Zeta’s national officers interviewed 35 DePauw
members in November, quizzing them about their dedication
to recruitment. They judged 23 of the women insufficiently
committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house.
The 23 members included every woman who was overweight.
They also included the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members.
The dozen students allowed to stay were slender and popular with
fraternity men — conventionally pretty women the sorority hoped
could attract new recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated they quit."
February 25, 2007

Another U.S. Military Assault on Media
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily
"BAGHDAD, Feb 23 (IPS) - Iraqi journalists are outraged over
yet another U.S. military raid on the media."

Canada's High Court Strikes Down Indefinite Detention
Filed at 7:51 p.m. ET
February 23, 2007

One Immigrant Family’s Hopes Lead to a Jail Cell Suicide
February 23, 2007

Report: over 5,000 Palestinians killed by the Israeli army since 2000
Date: 21 / 02 / 2007 Time: 16:00

Fallujans Defiant Amidst Chaos
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily
"FALLUJAH, Feb 22 (IPS) - Resistance attacks against U.S. forces
have been continuing in Fallujah despite military onslaughts
and strong security measures.

Britain to Trim Iraq Force by 1,600 in Coming Months
February 22, 2007

Law restricting Guantanamo appeals upheld
Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:07AM EST

Law restricting Guantanamo appeals upheld
Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:07AM EST

Soldiers coming home to neglect at Walter Reed
By Shelly Lewis

Gallaudet Accreditation in Jeopardy, Official Says
Gallaudet University, the only United States university for the deaf,
may lose its accreditation because of poor governance, low graduation
rates and a lack of tolerance on campus for varying views, a review
official warned. The official, Linda A. Suskie, vice president of the
Middle States Commission on Higher Education, wrote in a Jan. 13
letter to the university's interim president, Robert R. Davila, that
Gallaudet's accreditation was "fragile." Copies of the letter were
distributed yesterday by leaders of protests last year that led to the
ousting of the university's chosen president, Jane K. Fernandes.
Gallaudet has until March 1 to submit a supplement to an accreditation
report that did not meet the commission's requirements,
Ms. Suskie wrote.
February 21, 2007

737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire
By Chalmers Johnson

"I Swore to Uphold the Constitution. Instead, I Disgraced It"
Vermont Legislature Says Bring Them Home Now!
February 16, 2007

The giant Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell has signed a long-awaited
$800m deal with Iran to develop two offshore oil fields.

Kids get Addicted to WarSan Francisco's high school students
to study a different kind of schoolbook
By Amanda Witherell

Fed Chief Sees a Rate Rise if Inflation Rears Its Head
February 16, 2007

Hershey Cutting Work Force 12%
Hershey will close more than a third of its assembly lines and eliminate
12 percent of its work force after sales fell for the first time in 3 1?2 years,
the company said yesterday.
The company, whose products include Hershey's Kisses and Reese's
peanut butter cups, will cut 1,500 jobs over the next three years and
start production at a new factory in Monterrey, Mexico. The reductions
will cost as much as $575 million before taxes, the company said.
Hershey, which is based in Hershey, Pa., lost market share last year
to Mars, the maker of Snickers, and last month reported a fourth-
quarter sales decline of 0.7 percent.
Hershey's United States market share fell to 42.5 percent in the
13 weeks through Dec. 24, from 43.5 percent at the end of the
fourth quarter of 2005, according to Information Resources. Mars's
share rose to 25.9 percent, from 24.2 percent. The data excludes
sales to Wal-Mart Stores.
When the plan is completed, Hershey expects 80 percent of its
production to be in the United States and Canada.
Shares of Hershey rose 80 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $52.10 on
the New York Stock Exchange.
February 16, 2007

Radio Station Cries 'Enough' -- Won't Quote From Certain News Stories
Relying on Unnamed Officials
By Greg Mitchell
Published: February 13, 2007 10:55 PM ET




FEBRUARY 23-25 (Lynne and her husband Ralph will
stay on several more days. Stay tuned for complete
schedule of events.)
Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,
I am pleased to announce that Lynne Stewart and Michael Ratner have
just accepted our invitation to tour the Bay Area. The confirmed
dates are February 23-25, 2007. Lynne, accompanied by her husband
Ralph Poynter, will stay on several more days for additional meetings.
In solidarity,
Jeff Mackler,
West Coast Coordinator, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Co-Coordinator, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
O: 415-255-1080
Cell: 510-387-7714
H: 510-268-9429


May Day 2007
National Mobilization to Support Immigrant Workers!
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!
New York: (212)330-8172
Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
Washington D.C.: (202)595-8990



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


Call for action to save Iraq's Academics
A little known aspect of the tragedy engulfing Iraq is the systematic
liquidation of the country's academics. Even according to conservative
estimates, over 250 educators have been assassinated, and many
hundreds more have disappeared. With thousands fleeing the country
in fear for their lives, not only is Iraq undergoing a major brain drain,
the secular middle class - which has refused to be co-opted by the
US occupation - is being decimated, with far-reaching consequences
for the future of Iraq.


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


March 17-18, 2007

Please circulate widely


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])