Friday, March 09, 2007



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


Video: March on the Pentagon, March 17th


Iraq: US and Iraqi Forces Raid Trade Union Offices-Petition


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



It starts out with a statement by Fred Mason on behalf of the AFL-CIO
in favor of "Bring the troops home Now". This marked the first time
the AFL-CIO has come out against a U.S. War.

The speeches concentrate on the need to call for immediate and
unconditional withdrawal of troops as opposed to a gradual (even
for only a month or two) withdrawal of troops. Very strong arguments
are given by a variety of people in support of Bring the Troops Home Now.

Gerry Gordon gives a great statement for immediate and unconditional
withdrawal from Iraq and for Congress to de-fund the war.

Howard Wallace is in this video and he does a good job as a representative
of the San Francisco Labor Council in support of USLAW and the importance
of massive demonstrations to bring the troops home now.

Anthony Arnov gives a fantastic presentation placing the blame where
it lies--on the U.S. Government and nailing Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton
and the Democrats as being the new owners of the war! He quotes from
Obama and Clinton and videos of them are cut into his speech exposing
their ultimate support for the war and for a U.S. "victory" in Iraq.

There are moving interviews with Iraq Veterans Against the War--some
who are taking the courageous stance of refusing to return to Iraq who
have experienced unimaginable horrors.

All of the speakers call for continued mass actions against the war
to Bring the Troops Home Now!

I highly recommend this video...BW.


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, 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.


Come listen and participate in a series of community conversations on
what's happening in public education. Get the 411 on:
Code Breakers: Deciphering Military Myths
Thursday, March 22, 2007 6pm-8pm
At New College of California
780 Valencia (@19th) San Francisco,CA
Military recruiters with a multi-billion dollar budget easily outnumber
college recruiters at most working class high schools. Black hummers,
outfitted with sound systems, flat screen TVs and video game systems
roll up to campuses luring students with false promises of job training,
college support, travel, and non combat positions. At this t4sj 411,
teachers from Community MultiMedia Academy in Hayward will lead
a workshop about the impact of military recruiters on campus and
how this can become an opportunity to think critically about media
campaigns, poverty, personal ethics and the role of a military
in US and global society. Curriculum and student work will be
shared. Participants will be encouraged to participate and share
their insights and work.
For future events check out


Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


March 17: March on the Pentagon-1967/2007


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


Petition: Halt the Blue Angels


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


Film/Song about Angola


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


1) UFPJ Finally Mentions the March on the Pentagon March 17, in D.C.
A letter VIA Email from Leslie Cagan to UFPJ member groups
to the UFPJ list:

2) Open Letter to Lesie Cagan, National Coordinator, UFPJ
In Response to her letter to UFPJ Member Groups (Above).
by Bonnie Weinstein

3) U.S. House Democrats seek more war funds than Bush
01 Mar 2007 23:53:19 GMT
By Richard Cowan

4) Inmates to fill the void in farm fields
"Pilot program to help farmers replace workers driven
off by state's new immigration laws."

5) No More Denials, Please
March 3, 2007

6) Warm Winters Upset Rhythms of Maple Sugar
March 3, 2007

7) New Design for Warhead Is Awarded to Livermore
March 3, 2007

8) The Must-Do List
March 4, 2007

9) The Nation In Wartime, Who Has the Power?
March 4, 2007

10) Judge to Decide Validity of Case on Marijuana
March 4, 2007

11) Investigations Multiplying in Juvenile Abuse Scandal
March 4, 2007

12) Antiwar Caucus Wants to Be Heard Now
March 4, 2007

13) State Facilities’ Use of Force Is Scrutinized After a Death
March 4, 2007

14) 16 Civilians Die as U.S. Troops Fire on Afghan Road
March 5, 2007

15) The Right to Organize
March 6, 2007

16) Visit by Bush Fires Up Latins’ Debate Over Socialism
March 9, 2007

17) Veterans Face Vast Inequities Over Disability
March 9, 2007


1) UFPJ Finally Mentions the March on the Pentagon March 17, in D.C.
A letter VIA Email from Leslie Cagan to UFPJ member groups
to the UFPJ list:

Dear UFPJ Member Groups,

In a short while the national office of UFPJ will be sending out an email
notice to our full national email list and we wanted to give you - the
member groups of UFPJ - a bit of advanced notice about this one.
Here's why...

In the blast that is sent out you will see a reference to the demonstration
that ANSWER is calling for March 17th in Washington, DC, as well as
an effort being organized by the Troops Out Now Coalition, also in
Washington, DC right before the weekend of the 4th anniversary
of the war. We want you to know that this does not mean UFPJ has
endorsed either of these activities, and it certainly does not mean that
we have changed our own call for local, decentralized actions all around
the country to mark the 4th anniversary.

In the alert we are sending to our full list there are examples of some
local and regional actions also taking place that weekend, as well as
a list of ways people can get involved. In other words, the full text
makes it clear that we believe local antiwar activities - using the full
range of tactics available to our movement - is the critical next step
for our work. We also know that some people would like to be in
Washington and there is no reason for us to dissuade them. In fact,
many actions against the war in Iraq and against a new war on Iran
are needed.

Here is a part of the message we'll soon be sending out to the
national list:

"On March 19th the fifth year of this illegal, immoral, disastrous war
will begin, and we must mark this occasion with the loudest and
widest demonstrations for peace that we can muster. ANSWER is
organizing a March on the Pentagon on March 17, and Troops Out
Now Coalition is calling for an Encampment to Stop the War beginning
March 12 in Washington, DC. We encourage you to attend these actions
if you are able to do so. At the same time, United for Peace and Justice
knows that our movement must also be vocal and visible in every
community across the country, around the 4th anniversary and beyond.

"We must capture the momentum of the huge numbers of new people
coming to the realization that this war must be stopped. UFPJ member
groups and allies from Alaska to Florida are working hard to organize
a wide array of actions, including vigils, marches, rallies, nonviolent
civil disobedience and more, to mark this tragic milestone and to raise
the demand to bring the troops home

"We urge you to take a moment now to find an event to participate in,
to begin planning one or to make your arrangements to go to DC.
Whatever you do to mark the 4th anniversary, start spreading the
word now to ensure a great turnout! To make Congress, the White
House, the media and our communities take notice, we need to be
loud and we need to be everywhere, saying, END THE WAR and

We also want to remind you - and encourage you - to post any
antiwar events or activities you know about on the calendar on the
UFPJ web site. And to do so right now! There are several reasons
to do this:

1) Each day more and more people are looking for ways to get involved.
By posting your activities on the calendar you will make it possible
for more people to find out what's happening in their area.

2) Activists and organizers often look at the calendar to see what
other groups are planning. By posting your activities you might
inspire others to plan something in their town or community.

3) Reporters and journalists look at the UFPJ calendar to get a sense
of what's going on around the country, including in their own city
or state. Let's show them how widespread our movement really is!!

Leslie Cagan
National Coordinator


2) Open Letter to Lesie Cagan, National Coordinator, UFPJ
In Response to her letter to UFPJ Member Groups (Above) .
by Bonnie Weinstein

Dear Leslie,

As a UFPJ member group, we are encouraged that finally, UFPJ will,
at least, be mentioning the March 17, March on the Pentagon in D.C.,
in your calendar of events and in your announcement.

It is a step forward from completely ignoring that the event is even
taking place, but a far cry from what is needed by the Iraqi people,
our troops and the American people.

What we need, is the greatest united force possible to be organized
in opposition to the war and for the immediate and unconditional
withdrawal of all U.S. Troops and “support-services” from Iraq NOW;
as well as against a myriad of other atrocities committed by the U.S.
Government that we all can agree upon!

Although it can be a difficult process at times, there is no excuse
for refusing to work together toward a massive outpouring of protest
on the fourth anniversary of this ongoing and expanding human
catastrophe--now on the verge of expanding to monumental proportions;
or for refusing to continue our cooperation and unification around these
goals for as long as it takes to achieve them.

Of course there is room for all kinds of protests in addition to mass,
peaceful demonstrations. But these actions should be viewed as ways
to link more individuals to united and massive, peaceful protests as
a culmination of events or as the launching of further, united, ever
larger outpourings of peaceful protest, up until our goals
are met and our troops are brought home and the will of the
majority is honored.

The U.S. escalation of the war and its continued and expanded
assault on the democratic process; on human rights across the globe;
the continued use of torture, imprisonment and rendering of innocent
people; the wanton disregard for the troops on the ground or the
troops tragically wounded; and, most of all, for the Iraqi people who
have suffered the greatest atrocities; compels the movement to bury
their differences and come together to make these protests as large
as possible. This isn’t a popularity contest this is a matter of peoples
lives and of human decency.

We urge UFPJ to go further and endorse, support and build the March 17
March on the Pentagon as well as the mass demonstrations organized for
Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere the weekend of March 17/18
as a first step toward the reorganization of the U.S. Antiwar movement
into a real, democratically structured, united front against the war.

Let’s utilize the full length and breadth of the movement to unify it and
bring more people into the fold. The more people who are involved
in the day to day organizing of the movement toward democratically
agreed upon unified goals--the easier our job will be and the faster
we can achieve our goals—which is the main point of our protests.

Clearly, by the sheer number of appeals for unity in the antiwar
movement recently from groups and individuals across the country—
this is what the people want.

Since it was UFPJ who stated categorically that it would not ever work
with A.N.S.W.E.R. again—it has the responsibility to make the first
move toward unity around the March on the Pentagon, March 17
in D.C.--and give it its full support.

The entire movement has the obligation to work together toward
these same unified goals.


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

U.S. Out of Iraq Now!
From Iraq to New Orleans, Fund People's Needs NOT the War Machine
End Colonial Occupation: Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, Afghanistan & everywhere
U.S. Hands Off Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Somalia, Philippines North Korea
Shut Down Guantanamo

In solidarity for antiwar unity and an end to the war,

Bonnie Weinstein,

If you would like to receive the Bay Area United Against War (BAUAW )
newsletter via email please send your name and email address to:


3) U.S. House Democrats seek more war funds than Bush
01 Mar 2007 23:53:19 GMT
By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Democrats will
more than fully fund President George W. Bush's request for money to fight
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, but are still debating conditions
that could be attached, senior lawmakers said on Thursday.

"There will be $98 billion for the military part," about $5 billion above
the Bush administration's request, said Rep. John Murtha, chairman of a
defense spending panel overseeing war funds.

Murtha told reporters Democrats were still discussing provisions he wants to
attach requiring that U.S. troops have proper training, adequate equipment
and enough rest before being deployed into combat. "We don't have it yet.
We keep going back and refining it," Murtha said.

But he sketched out a certification process that could be tougher than one
floated earlier this week in which Bush would have been given flexibility to
"waive" Murtha's requirements.

Republicans and many conservative Democrats have expressed opposition to
adding such conditions. That has forced House Democratic leaders to try to
find a compromise that allows them to say they are working to phase out the
war while also fully funding troops already in Iraq.

The additional money House Democrats want to add in includes $1 billion more
for U.S. troops girding for a spring offensive in Afghanistan, Murtha said,
and nearly $1 billion more to treat wounded American soldiers suffering from
brain injuries and psychological problems related to combat.

With other add-ons to the massive spending bill, including more U.S. Gulf
Coast rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, possible aid to farmers who have
suffered crop losses and around $3 billion added in to help close some U.S.
military bases and modernize others, the price tag could rise significantly
above $100 billion, according to several lawmakers and congressional aides.


Rep. Bill Young of Florida, the senior Republican on the House
Appropriations defense panel, said lawmakers were still negotiating over
whether money should be included in the emergency war spending bill to fund
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to replace F-16s lost in Iraq.

The airplanes, to be built by Lockheed Martin Corp. , would not be
delivered for another three years, according to some estimates. Young said
he supported funding the purchase now.

Murtha was one of the earliest and highest profile members of Congress to
call for an end to the Iraq war in late 2005 and since then he has come
under sharp attack from Republicans.

But in seeking conditions on war funds, Murtha has insisted that he is
simply calling on the Pentagon to follow its own criteria for the training
of soldiers and their duration in combat.

The former Marine says he is concerned about stressed American troops and an
overall weakening of the military four years after the Iraq war started.

Speaking to reporters, Murtha said that during a recent visit to a military
base he was looking at a seven-ton truck "and the damn seat fell out."
Humvee vehicles, used to move troops around Iraq, have been outfitted with
heavy armor, but lack strong enough suspension systems and engines to
support them, Murtha complained.


4) Inmates to fill the void in farm fields
"Pilot program to help farmers replace workers driven
off by state's new immigration laws."

DENVER - It may not be too long before Pueblo County residents start
seeing inmates from state prisons working area farms.

Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, has managed to work out, at least
in principle, a new program that would call on the Colorado
Department of Corrections to supply inmates to work area farms.

The new work program would operate under the department's
successful Correctional Industries Program, which helps inmates
obtain work while in prison and learn a skill at the same time,
DOC Executive Director Ari Zavaras said Monday.

"We have a lot of details to work out, but this probably will start
as a pilot program in Pueblo County," he said. "Depending
on how well it works, we'll see where it will go."

Zavaras, the newly installed DOC director, said the program
fits in with his and Gov. Bill Ritter's new emphasis on reducing
recidivism in state prisons. Their thinking is that by reducing
recidivism, the state can save money on having to build new
prisons, which under current growth estimates will cost the
state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.

Butcher started the idea with a handful of area farmers who
were complaining that new state laws cracking down on illegal
immigration and the stringent document rules adopted by the
Department of Revenue under Gov. Bill Owens, have left them
short-handed in the field.

Immigrant workers, legal or otherwise, are too afraid to come
to Colorado because of the state's tougher immigrant laws,
Avondale farmers Joe Pisciotta and Phil Prutch told Zavaras
and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a special meeting
that Butcher had arranged.

The two men said that because of the new law that the Legislature
passed during a special session on illegal immigration - and the
new documents rules that have frustrated several Colorado
citizens who were trying to get driver's licenses and state
identification cards - they and other farmers are having
problems finding the workers they need.

"We're aware there was a problem (with illegal immigrants),
but you just created another problem," Prutch said.

"They've just given up and gone to other states that don't have
these new laws," Pisciotta said. "They just don't want to deal with it."

Like others around the state, the two Pueblo vegetable farmers
said they need from five to 20 workers and are willing to pay
up to $9.60 an hour, more than they've paid migrant workers
in the past.

But they can't find anyone to do the work.
That's why they turned to Butcher, who in turn went to Zavaras.

"The agricultural business will suffer and some could even
go out of business if we're unable to provide labor for them,"
Butcher said. "They're not asking for something for free.
They're willing to pay more than the minimum wage."

Zavaras said it will take some time to work out the details
to the new pilot project, but he is hopeful something will be
done before the farmers need them in May and June, when
the local growing season begins.

Romanoff said many of the stringent documents rules are
expected to be eased, but there's no guarantee on when
or if that will happen.

"It's something we tried to talk to the old administration
about and didn't get very far," Romanoff said. "Now we're
talking to the new administration."

©1996-2007The Pueblo Chieftain Online


5) No More Denials, Please
March 3, 2007

It is time for the Justice Department to stop issuing rote denials that
are becoming increasingly hard to believe about the suspicious firing
of eight United States attorneys. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
should appoint an impartial investigator to get to the bottom of this
unfolding scandal.

Just this week, David Iglesias, one of the eight fired United States
attorneys, charged that he was dismissed for resisting pressure
to begin a politically charged prosecution before the 2006 election.
His allegation came shortly after performance evaluations came
to light that throw considerable doubt on the Justice Department’s
claim that the United States attorneys were fired for poor performance.

United States attorneys, the highest federal prosecutors at the
state level, must be insulated from politics. Their decisions about
whether to indict can ruin lives, and change the outcome of elections.
To ensure their independence, United States attorneys are almost never
removed during the term of the president who appointed them.

The Bush administration ignored this tradition, and trampled
on prosecutorial independence, by firing eight United States attorneys
in rapid succession, including one, Carol Lam of San Diego, who had
put a powerful Republican congressman in jail. Mr. Iglesias, who was
the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, says two members of Congress
called him last October and urged him to pursue corruption charges
against a prominent Democrat before the November election.
He did not. He was dismissed.

Most of the fired United States attorneys’ performance evaluations
praise them for the quality of their work, and for following the priorities
set in Washington. These do not appear to be the evaluations
of people who were fired for poor performance.

A House subcommittee has subpoenaed several of the fired United
States attorneys to testify next week. The Senate is doing its own
investigation. They should question the fired prosecutors, as well
as top members of the Justice Department, to find out how these
dismissals came about. They should also investigate Mr. Iglesias’s
allegations about the two members of Congress, who may have
violated Congressional rules, and even criminal law.

Mr. Gonzales should also begin his own inquiry. Mr. Iglesias has
raised a serious question about politicization of the Justice Department.
That, and not public relations, should be the attorney general’s primary


6) Warm Winters Upset Rhythms of Maple Sugar
March 3, 2007

MONTPELIER, Vt. — One might expect Burr Morse to have maple
sugaring down to a science.

For more than 200 years, Mr. Morse’s family has been culling sweet
sap from maple trees, a passion that has manifested itself not only
in jug upon jug of maple syrup, but also in maple-cured bacon,
maple cream and maple soap, not to mention the display
of a suggestively curved tree trunk Mr. Morse calls the
Venus de Maple.

But lately nature seems to be playing havoc with Mr. Morse
and other maple mavens.

Warmer-than-usual winters are throwing things out of kilter,
causing confusion among maple syrup producers, called sugar
makers, and stoking fears for the survival of New England’s
maple forests.

“We can’t rely on tradition like we used to,” said Mr. Morse, 58,
who once routinely began the sugaring season by inserting taps
into trees around Town Meeting Day, the first Tuesday in March,
and collecting sap to boil into syrup up until about six weeks later.
The maple’s biological clock is set by the timing of cold weather.

For at least 10 years some farmers have been starting sooner.
But last year Mr. Morse tapped his trees in February and still
missed out on so much sap that instead of producing his usual
1,000 gallons of syrup, he made only 700.

“You might be tempted to say, well that’s a bunch of baloney —
global warming,” said Mr. Morse, drilling his first tap holes this
season in mid-February, as snow hugged the maples and Vermont
braced for a record snowfall. “But the way I feel, we get too much
warm. How many winters are we going to go with Decembers
turning into short-sleeve weather, before the maple trees say,
‘I don’t like it here any more?’ ”

There is no way to know for certain, but scientists are increasingly
persuaded that human-caused global warming is changing
climate conditions that affect sugaring.

While some farmers and other Vermonters suggest the recent
warm years could be just a cyclical hiccup of nature or the result
of El Niño, many maple researchers now say it seems more like
a long-term trend. Since 1971, according to National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration data, winter temperatures
in the Northeast have increased by 2.8 degrees.

“It appears to be a rather dire situation for the maple industry
in the Northeast if conditions continue to go toward the predictions
that have been made for global warming,” said Tim Perkins,
director of the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University
of Vermont.

Dr. Perkins studied the records of maple syrup production over
the last 40 years and found a fairly steady progression
of the maple sugaring season moving earlier and earlier,
and also getting shorter.

“We had this long list of factors we started with that could possibly
explain it,” Dr. Perkins said. “We have eliminated all of those various
factors. We are at this point convinced that it is climatic influence.”

Over the long haul, the industry in New England may face an even
more profound challenge, the disappearance of sugar maples
altogether as the climate zone they have evolved for moves across
the Canadian border.

“One hundred to 200 years from now,” Dr. Perkins said, “there may
be very few maples here, mainly oak, hickory and pine. There are
projections that say over about 110 years our climate will be similar
to that of Virginia.”

Dr. Perkins and Tom Vogelmann, chairman of the plant biology
department at the University of Vermont, said that while new sap-
tapping technology is helping sugar makers keep up syrup production,
for now, at some point the season will become so short that large
syrup producers will no longer get enough sap to make it worthwhile.

“It’s within, well, probably my lifetime that you’ll see this happen,”
Professor Vogelmann said. “How can you have the state of Vermont
and not have maple syrup?”

Experts say gradual warming has already contributed to a shift
of syrup production to Canada, although other factors may be more
responsible, including Canadian subsidies, improved technology,
and a decline in New England family farms.

“In the ’50s and ’60s, 80 percent of world’s maple syrup came from
the U.S., and 20 percent came from Canada,” said Barrett N. Rock,
a professor of natural resources at the University of New Hampshire.
“Today it’s exactly the opposite. The climate that we used to have
here in New England has moved north to the point where it’s now
in Quebec.”

Maple trees are so iconic here that a good deal of tourism revolves
around leaf peeping of the maples’ fall tapestry, maple syrup
festivals and visits to maple sugar bushes, the name for sugar
maple orchards.

While there have always been some weather fluctuations, certain
conditions are critical to syrup production. To make sap, trees
require what Professor Rock called a “cold recharge period,” several
weeks of below-freezing temperatures that traditionally fell
in December and January, followed by a span of very cold nights
and warmer days.

Catching the first sap of the season is important because it “makes
the best syrup,” Dr. Perkins said. But tapping too early can cause
a sugar maker to miss the back end of the season because eventually
bacteria clog the holes in the trees and prevent more sap from emerging.

“It’s a real conundrum the sugar producers face,” Professor Rock said.
“Do I tap early to catch the early sap flow or do I wait until the regular
season, and maybe not get the highest quality syrup, but the tap flow
remains open until the first buds on trees in April?”

In Vermont, which makes a third of the country’s syrup, sugar makers
are trying different approaches.

Rick Marsh, president of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association,
has kept his production high by tapping his 8,000 maples in January
and using a tap with a disposable tip designed to minimize bacteria
growth and keep the holes open longer. Instead of having the tap spill
the sap into buckets, Mr. Marsh, like many sugar makers, hooks the
tap to a labyrinth of plastic tubes and uses a high-powered vacuum
to suck out the sap through the tubes.

“Farmers say, ‘I can’t afford to keep making these changes’ ”
in technology, Mr. Marsh said. “I say you can’t afford not to.”

Still, Mr. Marsh, whose sugar bush in Jeffersonville is near
a “Think Maple!” sign, said it was a “crapshoot” to decide when to tap.
“Anybody plays poker, you’re a sugar maker. If you don’t get the right
weather, it’s like not getting the right cards. And if you misjudge the
weather, it’s like you misplayed your cards.”

Tim Young in Waterville tapped his 10,000 maple trees in November.
“The environment’s changing, and I want to change with it,” said
Mr. Young, who made 1,800 gallons of syrup by January and has
left the taps in in hopes of catching a second sap run by April.

Not every sugar maker believes global warming is responsible
or that the weather changes are part of a long-term trend. Don Harlow,
75, of Putney, said there were some warm years in the 1950s,
and he blames El Niño for the current weather pattern.

Still, he said, “I think what we’re experiencing is a tragic, disastrous
change.” He added that he tapped too late last year and made only
1,800 gallons of syrup, instead of his usual 2,500. This year, he said,
“in the first week of January, heaven sakes, it was 60 degrees in Vermont.”

Global warming is such a concern to Arthur Berndt, one of Vermont’s
largest sugar makers, that he became a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed
by environmentalists and four cities against the Export-Import Bank
and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The suit says the
agencies contribute to carbon dioxide emissions by financing overseas
fossil fuel projects like oil fields and pipelines, and seeks to compel
them to abide by American restrictions.

December was so warm, Mr. Berndt said, “I was seeding my asparagus
bed on Christmas day.”


U.S. Predicting Steady Increase for Emissions
"The Bush administration estimates that emissions by the United States
of gases that contribute to global warming will grow nearly as fast
through the next decade as they did the previous decade, according
to a long-delayed report being completed for the United Nations."
March 3, 2007


7) New Design for Warhead Is Awarded to Livermore
March 3, 2007

The Bush administration announced yesterday the winner
of a competition to design the nation’s first new nuclear weapon
in nearly two decades and immediately set out to reassure Russia
and China that the weapon, if built, would pose no new threat
to either nation.

If President Bush decides to authorize production and Congress
agrees, the research could lead to a long, expensive process
to replace all American nuclear warheads in the next few
decades with new designs.

The first to be replaced with the new Reliable Replacement
Weapon would be the W-76, a warhead for missiles deployed
on submarines.

Officials said the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
in California would design the replacement warhead based
on previously tested components, allowing the administration
to argue that no new underground tests would be necessary
before deploying the new weapon.

Officials said, however, the Livermore design might eventually
draw on technical contributions from a more novel approach
on the drawing boards at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico,
Livermore’s longtime rival.

The surprise choice of a single laboratory reversed a tentative
decision, reported in January, to combine elements of the Livermore
and Los Alamos designs. In a behind-the-scenes debate over the
last two months, nuclear experts inside and outside the government
faulted the hybrid approach as unusual and technically risky, with
some calling it a “Frankenbomb.”

Administration officials said the Livermore design had won primarily
because its main elements were detonated beneath the Nevada desert
decades ago, making it a better candidate under the nuclear test
ban treaty, which the United States has signed but not ratified.

Thomas P. D’Agostino, acting administrator of the National Nuclear
Security Administration at the Energy Department, told reporters
that the Livermore design was “the most conservative approach.”

Administration officials said the hybrid had been rejected after senior
members of the Navy, which will manage the W-76 replacement,
worried that members of Congress would perceive it as more likely
to require explosive testing.

The announcement of the research path had been expected in early
January but was delayed, officials said, because of last-minute Navy
concerns over control of financing and dividing the scientific labor.

The potentially expensive initiative faces an uncertain future and
has generated much criticism from skeptics who argue that a new
design for the nuclear arsenal is unneeded and is a potential stimulus
to a global nuclear arms race.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Daryl G. Kimball,
executive director of the Arms Control Association, a group in
Washington. “There is an urgent need to reduce these weapons,
not expand them. This will keep the Chinese, the Russians and others
on guard to improve their own stockpiles.”

Among lawmakers who declared their opposition was Senator Dianne
Feinstein, Democrat of California.

“What worries me,” Mrs. Feinstein said, “is that the minute you begin
to put more sophisticated warheads on the existing fleet, you are
essentially creating a new nuclear weapon. And it’s just a matter
of time before other nations do the same thing.”

Critics had ridiculed the hybrid approach as a compromise dictated
by the politics of survival for the nuclear laboratories, rather than
technical merit. In an unusual move, even senior arms designers
spoke out publicly against what they called serious risks of merging
differing designs from different laboratories.

“A hybrid design by inexperienced personnel, managed by committee,
is not the best approach,” John Pedicini, technical head of the design
team at Los Alamos, said last month in a public blog entry.

Mr. Pedicini conceded that the Livermore design had features “that
are an advance over ours, and if we get the assignment, I would
incorporate them in our design.”

“If this is what is meant by hybrid,” he said, “then the outcome
would be good.”

The goal is to replace the arsenal of aging warheads with a generation
meant to be sturdier, more reliable, safer from accidental detonation
and more secure from theft.

The replacements will have the same explosive yields and other
military characteristics of the current weapons, officials said,
a point that senior administration officials have made to Russia
in arguing that the new weapons do not represent an expansion
of the American arsenal.

Mrs. Feinstein cited a report in December saying plutonium pits
have a lifespan of at least 85 years, leading critics to question
whether the new weapons are necessary.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting.


8) The Must-Do List
March 4, 2007

The Bush administration’s assault on some of the founding principles
of American democracy marches onward despite the Democratic victory
in the 2006 elections. The new Democratic majorities in Congress
can block the sort of noxious measures that the Republican majority
rubber-stamped. But preventing new assaults on civil liberties
is not nearly enough.

Five years of presidential overreaching and Congressional
collaboration continue to exact a high toll in human lives, America’s
global reputation and the architecture of democracy. Brutality toward
prisoners, and the denial of their human rights, have been
institutionalized; unlawful spying on Americans continues;
and the courts are being closed to legal challenges of these practices.

It will require forceful steps by this Congress to undo the damage.
A few lawmakers are offering bills intended to do just that, but they
are only a start. Taking on this task is a moral imperative that
will show the world the United States can be tough on terrorism
without sacrificing its humanity and the rule of law.

Today we’re offering a list — which, sadly, is hardly exhaustive —
of things that need to be done to reverse the unwise and lawless
policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Many
will require a rewrite of the Military Commissions Act of 2006,
an atrocious measure pushed through Congress with the help
of three Republican senators, Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham
and John McCain; Senator McCain lent his moral authority
to improving one part of the bill and thus obscured its many
other problems.

Our list starts with three fundamental tasks:

Restore Habeas Corpus

One of the new act’s most indecent provisions denies anyone
Mr. Bush labels an “illegal enemy combatant” the ancient right
to challenge his imprisonment in court. The arguments for doing
this were specious. Habeas corpus is nothing remotely like
a get-out-of-jail-free card for terrorists, as supporters would
have you believe. It is a way to sort out those justly detained
from those unjustly detained. It will not “clog the courts,”
as Senator Graham claims. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont,
the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has
a worthy bill that would restore habeas corpus. It is essential
to bringing integrity to the detention system and reviving
the United States’ credibility.

Stop Illegal Spying

Mr. Bush’s program of intercepting Americans’ international calls
and e-mail messages without a warrant has not ceased. The
agreement announced recently — under which a secret court
supposedly gave its blessing to the program — did nothing to
restore judicial process or ensure that Americans’ rights are
preserved. Congress needs to pass a measure, like one proposed
by Senator Dianne Feinstein, to force Mr. Bush to obey the law
that requires warrants for electronic surveillance.

Ban Torture, Really

The provisions in the Military Commissions Act that Senator
McCain trumpeted as a ban on torture are hardly that. It is still
largely up to the president to decide what constitutes torture
and abuse for the purpose of prosecuting anyone who breaks
the rules. This amounts to rewriting the Geneva Conventions
and puts every American soldier at far greater risk if captured.
It allows the president to decide in secret what kinds of treatment
he will permit at the Central Intelligence Agency’s prisons.
The law absolves American intelligence agents and their bosses
of any acts of torture and abuse they have already committed.

Many of the tasks facing Congress involve the way the United
States takes prisoners, and how it treats them. There are two
sets of prisons in the war on terror. The military runs one set
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. The other is even
more shadowy, run by the C.I.A. at secret places.

Close the C.I.A. Prisons

When the Military Commissions Act passed, Mr. Bush triumphantly
announced that he now had the power to keep the secret prisons
open. He cast this as a great victory for national security. It was
a defeat for America’s image around the world. The prisons
should be closed.

Account for ‘Ghost Prisoners’

The United States has to come clean on all of the “ghost prisoners”
it has in the secret camps. Holding prisoners without any
accounting violates human rights norms. Human Rights Watch
says it has identified nearly 40 men and women who have
disappeared into secret American-run prisons.

Ban Extraordinary Rendition

This is the odious practice of abducting foreign citizens and
secretly flying them to countries where everyone knows they
will be tortured. It is already illegal to send a prisoner to a country
if there is reason to believe he will be tortured. The administration’s
claim that it got “diplomatic assurances” that prisoners would
not be abused is laughable.

A bill by Representative Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts,
would require the executive branch to list countries known to abuse
and torture prisoners. No prisoner could be sent to any of them unless
the secretary of state certified that the country’s government no longer
abused its prisoners or offered a way to verify that a prisoner will not
be mistreated. It says “diplomatic assurances” are not sufficient.

Congress needs to completely overhaul the military prisons for terrorist
suspects, starting with the way prisoners are classified. Shortly after
9/11, Mr. Bush declared all members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban
to be “illegal enemy combatants” not entitled to the protections
of the Geneva Conventions or American justice. Over time, the
designation was applied to anyone the administration chose,
including some United States citizens and the entire detainee
population of Gitmo.

To address this mess, the government must:

Tighten the Definition of Combatant

“Illegal enemy combatant” is assigned a dangerously broad definition
in the Military Commissions Act. It allows Mr. Bush — or for that matter
anyone he chooses to designate to do the job — to apply this label
to virtually any foreigner anywhere, including those living legally
in the United States.

Screen Prisoners Fairly and Effectively

When the administration began taking prisoners in Afghanistan,
it did not much bother to screen them. Hundreds of innocent men
were sent to Gitmo, where far too many remain to this day. The vast
majority will never even be brought before tribunals and still face
indefinite detention without charges.

Under legal pressure, Mr. Bush created “combatant status review
tribunals,” but they are a mockery of any civilized legal proceeding.
They take place thousands of miles from the point of capture, and
often years later. Evidence obtained by coercion and torture
is permitted. The inmates do not get to challenge this evidence.
They usually do not see it.

The Bush administration uses the hoary “fog of war” dodge to justify
the failure to screen prisoners, saying it is not practical to do that
on the battlefield. That’s nonsense. It did not happen in Afghanistan,
and often in Iraq, because Mr. Bush decided just to ship the prisoners
off to Gitmo.

Prisoners designated as illegal combatants are subject to trial rules
out of the Red Queen’s playbook. The administration refuses to allow
lawyers access to 14 terrorism suspects transferred in September from
C.I.A. prisons to Guantánamo. It says that if they had a lawyer, they
might say that they were tortured or abused at the C.I.A. prisons,
and anything that happened at those prisons is secret.

At first, Mr. Bush provided no system of trial at the Guantánamo camp.
Then he invented his own military tribunals, which were rightly
overturned by the Supreme Court. Congress then passed the Military
Commissions Act, which did not fix the problem. Some tasks now
for Congress:

Ban Tainted Evidence

The Military Commissions Act and the regulations drawn up by the
Pentagon to put it into action, are far too permissive on evidence
obtained through physical abuse or coercion. This evidence
is unreliable. The method of obtaining it is an affront.

Ban Secret Evidence

Under the Pentagon’s new rules for military tribunals, judges are
allowed to keep evidence secret from a prisoner’s lawyer if the
government persuades the judge it is classified. The information
that may be withheld can include interrogation methods, which
would make it hard, if not impossible, to prove torture or abuse.

Better Define ‘Classified’ Evidence

The military commission rules define this sort of secret evidence
as “any information or material that has been determined by the
United States government pursuant to statute, executive order
or regulation to require protection against unauthorized disclosure
for reasons of national security.” This is too broad, even if
a president can be trusted to exercise the power fairly and
carefully. Mr. Bush has shown he cannot be trusted to do that.

Respect the Right to Counsel

Soon after 9/11, the Bush administration allowed the government
to listen to conversations and intercept mail between some prisoners
and their lawyers. This had the effect of suspending their right
to effective legal representation. Since then, the administration
has been unceasingly hostile to any lawyers who defend detainees.
The right to legal counsel does not exist to coddle serial terrorists
or snarl legal proceedings. It exists to protect innocent people
from illegal imprisonment.

Beyond all these huge tasks, Congress should halt the federal
government’s race to classify documents to avoid public scrutiny
— 15.6 million in 2005, nearly double the 2001 number. It should
also reverse the grievous harm this administration has done to the
Freedom of Information Act by encouraging agencies to reject requests
for documents whenever possible. Congress should curtail F.B.I.
spying on nonviolent antiwar groups and revisit parts of the Patriot
Act that allow this practice.

The United States should apologize to a Canadian citizen and a German
citizen, both innocent, who were kidnapped and tortured by American

Oh yes, and it is time to close the Guantánamo camp. It is a despicable
symbol of the abuses committed by this administration (with Congress’s
complicity) in the name of fighting terrorism.


9) The Nation In Wartime, Who Has the Power?
March 4, 2007

THE Constitution seems relatively clear. The president is the
commander in chief, and he has the power to deploy troops and
to direct military strategy. Congress has the power to declare war
and can use its control over the purse to end a war. But it has no
say over how the war is actually prosecuted.

That poses a problem for Congress, as it debates the course
of the Iraq war. Democratic proposals to check President Bush’s
increasing unpopular war range from Senator Barack Obama’s
“phased redeployment” of all combat troops out of Iraq by
March 3, 2008, to Representative John Murtha’s attempts to
impose specific standards for the training and equipping
of troops.

Regardless of how these proposals fare politically, they raise
serious constitutional questions that could affect not only the
conduct of the Iraq war, but also the balance of power between
Congress and the president in wartime.

Legal scholars — both critics and supporters of the Iraq war —
say that if Congress tries to manage the deployment and
withdrawal of troops without cutting funds, the president’s
powers as commander in chief would be encroached, perhaps
leading to a constitutional confrontation of historic proportions.

“If there were to be a binding resolution that said troops had
to go from 120,000 to 80,000 by April 15, Congress would
be, in my view, transgressing on the conduct of a military
campaign,” says Samuel Issacharoff, a law professor at New
York University. “Congress can’t tell the president to charge
up the east side of the hill rather than the west, which is the
definition of the president’s military authority.”

So how, exactly, can Congress assert power over the war,
beyond its ability simply to pull the plug on its financing?
History suggests that Congress has found ways of checking
the president in the past without encroaching on his power
as commander in chief. And, history suggests, as well, that
neither side is that eager for a constitutional showdown.

There is little dispute that Congress could, if it had the political
will, end the war in Iraq tomorrow by using its power over
appropriations to cut off funds to the troops. “Congress could
easily check the president,” says W. Taylor Reveley III, the dean
of William and Mary School of Law and author of “War Powers
of the President and Congress.”

“If Iraq continues to go badly or if it looks like the president
might actually use force in Iran, I can easily see Congress
passing something like the Cambodian or Vietnam spending
cutoffs, which would force the setting of a timetable
for withdrawal that was pretty brisk,” he said.

If Congress used its appropriations power in this way, even
the most vigorous defenders of executive power agree,
President Bush would have to acquiesce. “He would have
to comply, and he would comply,” says John Yoo, the University
of California at Berkeley law professor who, as a Bush
administration official, defended the president’s authority
to act unilaterally. According to Professor Yoo, Congress
could immediately cut funds, or could order a phased
withdrawal by authorizing a fixed amount of money each
month for specified numbers of troops.

“The idea that the funding tool is too blunt is a view held
by people who have never worked in Congress,” he says.
“It can be a scalpel as well as a baseball bat.”

The problem is not that Congress lacks the constitutional
power to cut off funds, but that it may lack the political
will to do so.

“I think it’s inconceivable that Congress will cut off appropriations,
because no one wants to leave people on the field without support,”
says Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina Law School.

Congress, however, has other cudgels. During the War of 1812,
Federalist critics of President James Madison forced the
resignation of his secretary of war, and, decades later, the
House passed a resolution censuring President James Polk
for unconstitutionally beginning a war with Mexico.

During the Civil War, Congressional Republicans wanted Lincoln
to fire Gen. George B. McClellan and prosecute the war more
aggressively. But they never tried to control actual troop movements.
Instead, Congress tried to shame the Union generals into fighting
by hauling them repeatedly before Congressional committees.

“It bordered on harassment, and Lincoln resisted some of the
excesses, but even then, Congress never tried to issue orders
about the deployment of troops,” says Professor Issacharoff.

Congress, of course, could assert itself in similar ways today,
according to Professor Gerhardt. “Congress is entitled to have
oversight hearings to see how well things are going, and
to figure out where we should go from here,” he says.

Changes in technology also make it easier for Congress to
micromanage military decisions if it chooses to do so. “In the
19th century, simply to send a command and find out what
happened in the battle took weeks,” says Professor Issacharoff.
“So neither Congress nor the president could micromanage.
Now you can have battlefield commanders in a speakerphone
in the well of Congress — you could have 535 generals shouting

Congress would also be perfectly competent to examine civil
liberties questions, like the restoration of habeas corpus for
detainees held at Guantánamo Bay. It could pass resolutions
opposing the war effort over Republican opposition, as Democrats
have proposed to do. It could demand compliance with international
norms about how the war is conducted.

But let’s say Congress passed a binding resolution that reduced
troop levels without actually cutting off funds. What then?

“What’s likely to happen is that Congress will assert its power,
and the executive will resist through delay, redeployment of troops
elsewhere or simply disregarding Congress,” Professor Issacharoff
says. “It will never be presented to a court, because when both
branches are involved in disputes about war and claim overlapping
powers, the courts tend to back down.”

Dean Reveley agrees. “These disputes about the powers of the
president and Congress in wartime are waged with almost theological
passion and conviction and the Supreme Court rarely intervenes,
which is why war powers are still so murky,” he says. “Every time
we’ve gotten involved in an unpopular war, which has been all our
wars except the two World Wars, there has been an enormous
amount of bickering between the president and Congress when
it didn’t come out the way we wanted. Sometimes presidents have
acted, Congress said ‘Don’t do that,’ and the president acceded,
as in Vietnam. But mostly Congress has stood on the sidelines
and complained.”

In other words, a constitutional crisis may not be the inevitable

“I think this will be resolved politically, as it has been in the past,
and either the president or Congress will back down,” Professor
Issacharoff says. “My sense is that it’s more likely to be Congress,
because nobody wants to assume responsibility for managing
a disaster.”

Even if President Bush wins a constitutional confrontation, Congress
may react by asserting its powers against future presidents. “Congress
will be much more careful in the future about authorizing force
without restrictions on presidential power,” says Jack Goldsmith
of Harvard Law School. “Every action on each side tends to provoke
a counterreaction, which is probably what James Madison wanted.”

Jeffrey Rosen’s new book is “The Supreme Court: The Personalities
and Rivalries That Defined America.”


10) Judge to Decide Validity of Case on Marijuana
March 4, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, March 3 — A federal judge has asked the United
States attorney here to submit all trial preparation memorandums
in the case against a leading advocate of medical marijuana
so that the court can determine if the government has been
pursuing a “vindictive prosecution.”

The judge, Charles R. Breyer, ordered the review at the request
of lawyers for Ed Rosenthal, a spokesman in the effort to legalize
marijuana who has been in a closely watched court battle
with the government.

At a motion hearing in Federal District Court here on Friday,
defense lawyers for Mr. Rosenthal urged Judge Breyer to dismiss
an array of federal drug, money laundering and tax evasion
charges against their client, saying an appellate court judge
had overturned his conviction in a nearly identical case last year.

The new charges, outlined in a federal grand jury indictment
issued in October, accuse Mr. Rosenthal of 14 felonies, including
conspiracy to grow and sell marijuana for medical use, laundering
$1,850 and failing to report income from the sale of crop plants
on his tax returns.

The overall charges are nearly identical to a 2003 federal case
against Mr. Rosenthal, which ended with a one-day prison sentence
after members of the jury disavowed the verdict, having learned
belatedly that Mr. Rosenthal was growing marijuana under
Proposition 215, the state’s medical marijuana law.

“We are outraged that the prosecutor continues to pursue this
case,” said Shari L. Greenberger, a lawyer for Mr. Rosenthal.
“The vindictive nature of the prosecutor is clear-cut and utterly

Despite the short sentence in the 2003 case, Mr. Rosenthal
challenged the fairness of his trial, and in April, a federal judge
with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the marijuana
growing conviction, citing jury misconduct. The decision punctuated
a contentious three-year volley of legal appeals and cross complaints
that were given a second wind on Friday, with the start of the new case.

The United States attorney, George Beven, declined to answer questions
about the case, citing an office policy. But at Friday’s hearing he agreed
to provide Judge Breyer with all interoffice memorandums pertaining
to his office’s decision to seek another trial and expanded charges.


11) Investigations Multiplying in Juvenile Abuse Scandal
March 4, 2007

HOUSTON, March 3 — A sexual abuse scandal in the Texas juvenile
justice system has state politics in an uproar, with accusations that
damning reports were doctored and shelved and sexual predators
in high positions were allowed to resign without facing charges.

Late Friday, Ronnie Earle, the district attorney of Travis County who
has jurisdiction over Austin, the state capital, announced a criminal
investigation into possible records tampering at the Texas Youth

And Gov. Rick Perry, pressed by angry legislators to put the commission
into conservatorship, appointed a special master, Jay Kimbrough,
a former deputy state attorney general and state director of homeland
security, to lead an investigation into the agency and “reports
of failures and wrongdoings.”

According to officials, at least 13 boys and girls were molested
by staff members at two state schools run by the commission.
Even before Mr. Earle and Mr. Perry took action on Friday, there were
already inquiries under a previously appointed special prosecutor
and legislative committees.

At a State Senate hearing in the capital Tuesday, parents complained
of sexual abuse and other mistreatment of their children in state

“My son is home, but he is not the same since he was raped in the
T.Y.C.,” said Mary Jane Martinez of San Antonio, who told the Senate
Criminal Justice Committee that her 17-year-old son “is so ashamed
of himself he built a wall.”

Ms. Martinez said her son refused to detail what happened to him
at the Victory Field Correctional Academy in Vernon.

With the state’s Republican leadership under strong challenge,
a high-level legislative audit committee called on Governor Perry
on Friday to appoint a conservator to take over the commission,
or, failing that, to send in state auditors to investigate how it was
handling nearly 8,000 youthful felons, misdemeanants and parolees
in 36 facilities.

One top Democratic lawmaker with bipartisan support said he
would seek to introduce a bill on Monday ordering a takeover
of the agency.

“The allegations of sick sexual abuse of troubled youths are
so severe, the Legislature needs to bypass the bureaucracy and
protect the victims and prevent more children from becoming
victims,” said the lawmaker, Representative Jim Dunnam of Waco,
leader of the House Democratic caucus.

In recent days, top officials of the youth commission have resigned
or been ousted. Many lawmakers — already furious with the governor
for bypassing them last month on an order that sixth-grade girls
be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus causing cancer —
have criticized the commission as dysfunctional.

Officials who testified at the State Senate hearing said that the
commission staff members trained for only 80 hours compared with
300 for adult criminal justice employees, and that last year the
commission’s staff turnover rate was 52 percent. There is only
one staff member for each 18 juveniles ages 10-21.

“What scares me the most is what I don’t know,” Senator John H.
Whitmire, the Houston Democrat heading the Criminal Justice
Committee, told Neil Nichols, then the acting executive director,
at the hearing this week.

Mr. Nichols, the longtime general counsel who took over last Friday
upon the sudden retirement of the previous executive director,
Dwight Harris, acknowledged that “T.Y.C. is in hard times,” saying
that some of the events “would be impossible to explain to
a parent or family.”

Mr. Nichols was among the officials replaced this week over
the scandal.

The State Senate hearing drew anguished mothers like Katrina
Cannon of Troy, near Waco, whose 17-year-old son is now
at the McLennan County State Juvenile Correction Facility and
who, she said, had once suffered an unexplained incident
of rectal bleeding.

“I have asked him and he will not admit anything,”
Ms. Cannon said.

The revelations, disclosed in recent weeks by news organizations
that had obtained long-secret reports by the youth commission
and the Texas Rangers, have reverberated around the state.

Will Harrell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
of Texas, which has investigated juvenile mistreatment allegations
for years, said the juvenile justice system was overwhelmed and
needed alternatives to incarceration, like probation programs.

The furor is centered on the commission’s handling of allegations
of sexual abuse by two former high-ranking administrators.

One, Ray Brookins, a security director at the San Saba State School
in central Texas, was allowed to transfer to the West Texas State
School in Pyote on Oct. 1, 2003, although a commission report
compiled in 2005 said he had been disciplined for having adult
pornography on his work computer and had been admonished
for regularly taking students into his office alone at night with
the blinds drawn.

The report was not made public until last month.

The superintendent at Pyote, Lemuel Harrison, said he not been
told of Mr. Brookins’s history. But the report criticized Mr. Harrison
as having ignored repeated complaints from staff members that
within days of arriving, Mr. Brookins began taking boys out
of the dormitory at night for sexual encounters.

A caseworker later reported overhearing a boy telling his mother
that Mr. Brookins had molested him in the dormitory.

When Mr. Harrison went on medical leave in October 2004,
Mr. Brookins became acting superintendent and, the report said,
“used his authority and powers of persuasion to keep his victims
and West Texas State School staff from reporting his conduct.”

Mr. Brookins, 41, who was said at the Senate hearing to be
working now at a bar in Austin, could not be reached for comment.
Two Austin phone listings in his name were out of service and the
youth commission has no way to reach him, said a spokesman,
Tim Savoy.

Two weeks after Mr. Brookins’s arrival at Pyote, the West Texas
State School hired a new principal, John Paul Hernandez.
Mr. Hernandez, too, began taking boys out of the dormitory
to private late night encounters, the report said.

The Texas Rangers later found that both men “engaged in sexual
contact with several students.” Federal prosecutors declined
jurisdiction in the matter and the findings were referred to the
Ward County district attorney, Randall W. Reynolds, who said
this week that the case was still active, if delayed.

“Frankly I wish it had moved quicker,” Mr. Reynolds said. Now
it has been turned over to a special prosecutor.

Mr. Savoy of the commission said Mr. Hernandez had “staff sexual
contact” with two 17-year-olds and a 20-year-old, and that
Mr. Brookins had sexual contact with an 18-year-old and committed
“unprofessional conduct” involving other sex-related offenses
with six youths 15 to 19.

Both men resigned without criminal charges in 2005. The commission’s
executive director at the time, Mr. Harris, ordered his own report,
which remained secret until last month when The Texas Observer
and The Dallas Morning News obtained it and other records and
revealed the abuse allegations.

Mr. Hernandez was later named principal of a charter school,
the Richard Milburn Academy in Midland. The superintendent,
Norman Hall, said that he had not been told of Mr. Hernandez’s
history at his hiring and that he had now suspended him.

Mr. Hernandez, 41, reached by phone on Wednesday, denied the
charges but said he was declining to comment further on the
advice of his lawyer.

Mr. Harrison was later named the commission’s director of juvenile
corrections in charge of several state schools but has now also
been suspended, Mr. Savoy, the commission spokesman, said.

Pete C. Alfaro, the chairman of the youth commission board from
2004 until he was demoted by Mr. Perry and announced he would
resign this week, said the first he knew of Mr. Harris’s 2005 report
was from the recent news accounts.

Mr. Earle, the district attorney, said he was investigating an account
in The Austin American-Statesman that even when the 2005
commission report was released last month, a section showing
that high agency officials had been alerted to the abuse, but
ignored it, had been deleted.


12) Antiwar Caucus Wants to Be Heard Now
March 4, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 2 — About a dozen members of the Out of Iraq
Congressional Caucus gathered on a sunny day last summer on the
terrace outside the Capitol for a news conference. The only problem:
no reporters showed up.

The members of the group, made up entirely of House Democrats,
cracked jokes among themselves before heading back inside,
chalking it up as another failed attempt to get noticed.

“I had 30 press conferences where no one showed up,” said
Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who leads
the 75-member caucus in the House.

Now, with a change in power in Congress and a new military strategy
to increase the number of American troops in Iraq, the members
of the group — most of them liberals — are suddenly much in
demand, finding themselves at the center of the debate over the war.

Yet even with a majority of Americans opposing the war, the caucus
is struggling to overcome its fringe image and is becoming
increasingly frustrated by what its members say is the Democratic
leadership’s unwillingness to heed their calls for decisive
action to the end the war.

At the same time, though the members are united in their desire
to bring American military involvement in Iraq to a speedy end,
they are still debating the best way to do so. In that sense, they
reflect the broader struggle among Democrats in Congress, who
have been unable to coalesce around a single position on how
strongly to confront President Bush over the war.

House Democratic leaders this week seemed to back away slightly
from a proposal by Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania,
chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, to limit
Mr. Bush’s latest supplemental spending request for the war.
Mr. Murtha’s proposal would have required strict readiness for
troops sent to Iraq, essentially limiting the president’s ability
to follow through on his plan to deploy an additional 21,500.

Mr. Murtha’s conditions were favored by caucus members, though
it has come under fire from Republicans who labeled it a “slow
bleed” strategy. The proposed strategy has also run into opposition
from conservative House Democrats, who argue that their concerns
need to be taken seriously because they helped deliver the
Democratic majority in the midterm elections. The Murtha
proposal, they said, would leave the party vulnerable to charges
of abandoning troops.

“My concern, representing the state where we’ve got the highest
percentage call-up of guard and reserve in the country, I want to
make sure Congress does not do anything that hamstrings troops
on the ground,” said Representative Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat
who is a member of the Blue Dogs, a coalition of party moderates
and conservatives.

Democratic leaders have responded to critics by floating a new
plan that would allow Mr. Bush to waive the readiness standards,
a possibility that has left many of the party’s vocal left wing
unhappy. About 30 members of the Out of Iraq Caucus met
Thursday to plot strategy. They warned that they might vote
against any supplemental bill that did not more strictly limit
the president’s options, a vote that could prove embarrassing
for a Democratic leadership trying to preserve a fragile majority.

“Nothing is going to happen unless we use the power of the purse,”
said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. “It’s time to draw
a line in the sand.”

The House minority leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said Republicans
would oppose any measure that “restricts the president’s ability
to win the war in Iraq.”

Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, a co-chairwoman
of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a founder of the Out
of Iraq Caucus, is drafting an amendment that would allow financing
only to protect American troops in Iraq pending a full withdrawal
under a set timetable.

Assuming the supplemental bill is unsatisfactory to the caucus, war
opponents are discussing whether to threaten to vote against
it when it comes to a vote in the House floor in mid-March,
unless the House leadership also permits a vote on the
amendment from Ms. Lee.

Ms. Lee said her goal was to shift the discussion to a “fully funded
withdrawal” from “cutting off funding.”

“There’s a distinction between cutting off funding and using the
funding to begin a speedy and secure withdrawal within
a specific timeframe,” she said.

Created as an offshoot of the Progressive Caucus in the summer
of 2005, the Out of Iraq group began with about 50 members.
Its slow climb began when Mr. Murtha, an influential lawmaker
and Vietnam veteran, unveiled his first plan calling for
redeployment of troops in late 2005.

“The Out of Iraq Caucus grabbed onto Murtha,” Ms. Waters said.
“Don’t forget, we were considered liberals and/or progressives
that did not present a real threat to the administration, or even
to the leadership.”

Suddenly, though, they had Mr. Murtha’s backing. The group’s
numbers have since swelled, and now include a third of the
Democratic majority.

The roster includes nine House committee leaders. Also among
its membership are Representative George Miller of California,
a trusted confidant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, and
Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut, the vice-chair
of the Democratic Caucus and the only member of the leadership
in the group.

But many members rarely attend meetings. Some of its active
members are lawmakers who play easily into Republican
characterizations of some Democrats as peaceniks far from the
mainstream. Ms. Lee was the lone dissenting vote in Congress
against the resolution authorizing the president to use force
to respond to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. In 2005,
she co-sponsored a bill with Representative Dennis J. Kucinich,
Democrat of Ohio (also a caucus member), and others to create
a cabinet-level office called the Department of Peace.

With such a large tent, caucus members are hardly uniform in
their views. Some are pondering whether they should simply
continue to be patient. Representative Charles B. Rangel of New
York, who heads the influential Ways and Means Committee, said
he was not sure how he would vote on the supplemental measure.

He called the war “morally wrong” and said “it goes even beyond
the brutality of slavery and the lynchings.” At the same time, he
said, Democratic leaders must be careful to carve out a consensus

Governing as a majority requires compromise, said Representative
James P. Moran of Virginia, a caucus member who also sits on the
Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Hopefully we don’t have
to compromise too much.”


13) State Facilities’ Use of Force Is Scrutinized After a Death
March 4, 2007

In one of Darryl Thompson’s last photos, he is wearing a blue cap
and gown and gripping a rolled-up diploma from Public School 360
in the Bronx. A proud smile dents his cheeks and big fake diamonds
glint from his ears.

It is a sweet face tinged with mischief, not a bad reflection, his
friends say, of how he lived his life.

That life ended on Nov. 18 in Johnstown, N.Y., in a bathroom
of the Tryon Boys Residential Center, a juvenile rehabilitative
center where he had been sent after a string of crimes, including
burglary and robbery.

Darryl was angry about losing recreation privileges and pushed
a staff member, according to Louise K. Sira, the Fulton County
district attorney. The worker and a colleague, both of them aides
assigned to monitor the boys, restrained Darryl, Ms. Sira said,
pinning him to the floor face-down until he could be handcuffed.
Minutes later, he stopped breathing, she said, and he died at
a nearby hospital. He was 15.

A medical examiner ruled Darryl’s death a homicide, Ms. Sira
said on Feb. 20. While he had a heart defect, he died of an irregular
heartbeat caused by the altercation. The case will be reviewed
by a grand jury, but Ms. Sira said she did not consider Darryl’s
death intentional.

Darryl’s mother, Anntwanisha Thompson, 33, disagrees.
“I believe he was murdered,” said Ms. Thompson, who lives
in an apartment building in the Highbridge section of the Bronx.

“I want them to be held accountable.”

Michael M. Albanese, a Gloversville lawyer who represents
John P. Johnson and Robert Murphy, the workers who restrained
Darryl, said his clients “did what they were trained to do.”
A spokesman for the state’s Office of Children and Family
Services, which operates Tryon, declined to discuss Darryl’s
death or his behavior at Tryon.

Whatever the outcome of the grand jury review, Darryl’s death
has refocused attention on the use of physical restraint in state
youth facilities. About 1,500 young people, mostly 12 to 18, are
in the custody of the Office of Children and Family Services, which
runs 31 juvenile rehabilitative facilities. As of late December, 885
of those youngsters were from New York City.

Brian Marchetti, spokesman for the agency, said physical restraint
was used “to prevent youth or staff member injury.” Although he
did not have information on how often youngsters at Tryon were
restrained, he said that since 2002 there had been 122 abuse
complaints filed against Tryon staff members, and that six
of them were found to be valid and eight remained under

Last September, two advocacy groups — Human Rights Watch
and the American Civil Liberties Union — said in a report that they
found a pattern of excessive force in a girls’ center that shares
Tryon’s campus and in another girls’ center, the Lansing Residential
Center, near Ithaca. Face-down restraint was noted as a particular

In recent months the agency has limited the use of physical
restraint to only the most serious situations, banning it in instances
where residents disobey orders or damage property. A bill pending
in the state Assembly would create an independent Office of the
Child Advocate to monitor youth facilities.

Changes like those afford little comfort to Darryl’s family. “They
took him out of the streets supposedly to protect him, but he ends
up dying,” Ms. Thompson said. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Darryl was born on Jan. 31, 1991, just before his identical twin,
David. Ms. Thompson was 17 and already had another son. Asked
about the twins’ father, she said simply, “Not around.”

Darryl had a fondness for hip-hop and a wide circle of female
friends, recalled a family friend, Tyesha Castle, 18. She recalled
impromptu parties when Darryl and his brothers would come
over to her Bronx home in Kingsbridge Heights and they would
dance late into the night.

Adama Wint, 15, a baby-faced girl with braces, dated Darryl from
age 12 to 14 and considers him her first love. He was playful but
respectful, and once trudged through the snow to see her in
a blizzard. “He was real hard to get mad at,” she said.

But there was another side to Darryl. He was quick to fight if
he felt disrespected, friends said, and though he was not in
a gang, he associated with people who were. “Being a boy, you
turn to older people on the corner,” said Evelyn Jackson, 14,
a former schoolmate of his. “You just get caught up.”

In August 2005, Darryl was arrested for breaking into an apartment
with three other young men, a police official said. Two months
later, the official said, he was arrested twice within days, first for
biting and punching a 13-year-old boy and then for helping rob
an 11-year-old boy.

In January 2006, Ms. Thompson said, Darryl was sent to Horizon
Juvenile Center, a city-run detention center in the Bronx. After
getting into fights there, she said, he was moved last March
to Tryon, about three hours north of the city. The 180-bed center
consists of six low-slung cottages, a school, a gym, a medical
center and offices. Its perimeter is rimmed with razor wire.

Ms. Thompson said she spoke with Darryl shortly before he died,
and learned that he had been named student of the month. In letters,
she said, Darryl rarely described his life there, focusing instead
on happier times and dreaming about January 2007. That is when
he was supposed to come home.


14) 16 Civilians Die as U.S. Troops Fire on Afghan Road
March 5, 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 4 — American troops opened fire
on a highway filled with civilian cars and bystanders on Sunday,
American and Afghan officials said, in an incident that the Americans
said left 16 civilians dead and 24 wounded after a suicide car bombing
in eastern Afghanistan. One American was also wounded.

The shooting sparked demonstrations, with local people blocking
the highway, the main road east from the town of Jalalabad to the
border with Pakistan. And there were differences in some of the
accounts of the incident, with the Americans saying that the civilians
were caught in cross-fire between the troops and militants, and
Afghan witnesses and some authorities blaming the Americans
for indiscriminately shooting at civilian vehicles in anger after
the explosion.

The United States military said the unit came under fire after
a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car near their
convoy “as part of a complex ambush involving enemy small-
arms fire from several directions.”

Members of the unit, on patrol near Jalalabad airfield, returned fire,
and the civilians were killed and wounded in the cross-fire during
the battle, according to a statement from the military press office
at Bagram Air Base, 40 miles north of Kabul.

“We regret the death of innocent Afghan citizens as a result of the
Taliban extremists’ cowardly act,” Lt. Col. David Accetta, a military
spokesman, said in the statement. “Once again the terrorists
demonstrated their blatant disregard for human life by attacking
coalition forces in a populated area, knowing full well that innocent
Afghans would be killed and wounded in the attack.”

Yet some of the wounded interviewed in the hospital by news agencies
said the only shooting came from the American troops. A hospital
official, who asked not to be identified, said all the wounded were s
uffering from bullet wounds and not shrapnel from the bomb explosion.

Hundreds of Afghans blocked the road and threw rocks at police
officers in protest afterward, with some demonstrators shouting
“Death to America! Death to Karzai!” a reference to President Hamid
Karzai, The Associated Press reported.

The shooting will be a setback for American forces in Afghanistan,
who have been working to contain the continuing insurgent attacks,
in particular roadside bombs and suicide attacks, and win the support
of the people with reconstruction and development projects. Deadly
riots shook Kabul last May after American troops were involved
in a fatal car crash and then opened fire on the crowd.

Among the dead on Sunday morning were a woman and two children
in their early teens, said Dr. Ajmal Pardez, the provincial director
of health, speaking by telephone from the Jalalabad city hospital.
He said the hospital received 10 dead and 25 wounded people from
the incident, with four people in critical condition.

After the suicide attack, the Americans treated every car and person
along the highway as a potential attacker, though none of the people
showed hostile intent, Muhammad Khan Katawazi, the district chief
of Shinwar, told The A.P.

“They were firing everywhere, and they even opened fire on 14 to
15 vehicles passing on the highway,” said Tur Gul, 38, who was
standing on the roadside by a gas station and was shot twice in
the right hand. “They opened fire on everybody, the ones inside
the vehicles and the ones on foot.”

Some of the wounded interviewed by The A.P. said the soldiers
opened fire indiscriminately on passing cars and pedestrians
on the busy main road.

“When we parked our vehicle, when they passed us, they opened
fire on our vehicle,” said 15-year-old Mohammad Ishaq, who was
hit by two bullets, in the left arm and right ear. “It was a convoy
of three American Humvees. All three Humvees were firing around.”

In other fighting, two British soldiers were killed Saturday in
southern Afghanistan, the British Defense Ministry said Sunday.
The men were involved in heavy fighting that has raged for three
days in the town of Sangin, said Col. Tom Collins, a NATO spokesman
in Kabul. Townspeople have fled the town and abandoned their shops
as Taliban insurgents and British forces stationed there have been
trading artillery and rocket fire, according to a resident of the area.


15) The Right to Organize
March 6, 2007

There are many reasons for the long decline in the membership rolls
for private sector unions, including powerful changes in the economy
and the unions’ past corruption scandals. And there is little doubt that
federal rules and regulations for union organizing have also become
increasingly hostile to labor, helping to drive unions’ share of the
work force down from a peak of 35 percent in the 1950s to a mere
7.4 percent today.

The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would
strengthen the rights of employees to form unions, and it drew
an immediate veto threat from President Bush. But if Mr. Bush were,
as he claims, truly concerned about rising income inequality and truly
committed to improving the lives of America’s middle class, he would
support the legislation and urge the Senate to approve it.

The most significant change in the bill is known as a majority signup,
which would allow employees at a company to unionize if a majority
signed cards expressing their desire to do so. Under current law,
an employer can reject the majority’s signatures and insist on
a secret ballot. But in a disturbingly high number of cases, the employer
uses the time before the vote to pressure employees to rethink
their decision to unionize.

The bill would also increase the penalty for employers who fired
or otherwise discriminated illegally against pro-union employees.
An employer currently found guilty of an illegal firing must pay back
pay, minus whatever the fired employee might have earned at a new
job — a fine so low as to be meaningless. And the bill would require
binding arbitration if a newly formed union and company management
were unable to agree on a first contract after 120 days. The refusal
to bargain is among the most common allegations against employers
in filings to the National Labor Relations Board.

Some employers, like Cingular Wireless and the health care provider
Kaiser Permanente, have voluntarily embraced the practice of the
majority signup. But many others, represented by interest groups
like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National
Association of Manufacturers, remain rigidly opposed.

The bill’s opponents charge that replacing secret ballots with the
majority signup would be undemocratic. But the current system
is by no means fair. The law prohibits union advocacy by employees
during work hours and allows employers to ban organizers from the
work place. But employers can require workers to attend anti-union
presentations, and can discipline or fire those who refuse to attend.

In 2005, according to the most recent annual report of the National
Labor Relations Board, 31,358 employees were receiving back pay
after being discriminated against for their union-related activities.
In research for a bipartisan Congressional commission in 2000,
Kate Bronfenbrenner, a labor relations professor at Cornell University,
reported that 25 percent of employers illegally fired at least one
employee during organizing campaigns.

Labor unions have a role to play in helping to fix today’s economic
ills — most notably, worsening income inequality, a problem that’s
caused in part by unions’ decline and the workers’ resulting lack
of bargaining power. What’s needed is a Congressional drive to help
Mr. Bush see this obvious connection. The Senate should take up
the House bill promptly and send it to the president for his signature.


16) Visit by Bush Fires Up Latins’ Debate Over Socialism
March 9, 2007

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, March 8 — President Bush has portrayed
his trip to Latin America this week as a “We Care” tour aimed
at dispelling perceptions that he has neglected his southern

But fresh graffiti on streets here in São Paulo, where he landed
Thursday night for his first stop, calls him a murderer. The
smattering of protests and the placement of military vehicles
around the city, South America’s largest, also present an alternate
interpretation of his visit: as a clash between the open capitalism
that Mr. Bush espouses and the socialist approach pushed
by leftist leaders who have grown in power and popularity.

And as the administration prepares to use the president’s
five-nation tour to highlight a new ethanol development deal
with Brazil, the most efficient producer of the fuel, and American
health care and education programs elsewhere, much of the tour
attention is focusing on what may best be called “the Rumble
on the River.”

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Mr. Bush’s chief nemesis
in the region, will be leading a protest against him in Buenos
Aires, as Mr. Bush arrives Friday in Montevideo, Uruguay, across
Rio de la Plata from Argentina. “Our planes will almost cross
paths,” Mr. Chávez said this week, though he denied any
intention to sabotage Mr. Bush’s visit.

In interviews with Latin American reporters this week, Mr. Bush
played down Mr. Chávez’s planned rally, telling one group
on Tuesday: “I go a lot of places and there are street rallies.
And my attitude is, I love freedom and the right for people
to express themselves.”

Whether inadvertently or not, though, Mr. Bush irritated
Mr. Chávez with a speech on Monday in Washington, in which
he said Simón Bolivar, the hero of South America’s independence
struggle and Mr. Chávez’s idol, “belongs to all of us who love
liberty.” This brought a sharp and sarcastic rejoinder from
Mr. Chávez the next day.

But in spite of administration attempts to minimize the shadow
cast on the visit by Mr. Chávez — who has pushed an aggressively
anti-American agenda throughout the region — the tour itself
seems at least in part geared to counter his influence. Mr. Chávez
has built that influence in part by showering poor communities
with money for housing and health care and by freely dispensing
oil at cut-rate prices.

Mr. Bush’s new agreement with Brazil to increase ethanol production
in the region represents a way to cut back on the influence that
Mr. Chávez’s oil supply gives him, while encouraging employment
and economic development. And before arriving here, Mr. Bush
announced a number of programs to help the poor in the region,
whom he referred to, in Spanish, as “workers and peasants.”

He promised hundreds of millions of dollars to help families buy
homes and said he would dispatch a Navy hospital ship to the
region to provide free health services.

In his interviews this week, Mr. Bush has repeated that the United
States’ aid to the region has doubled during his tenure, to about
$1.6 billion annually. “When you total all up the money that is spent,
because of the generosity of our taxpayers, that’s $8.5 billion
to programs that promote social justice,” including education
and health, he told reporters on Tuesday.

But the view from here could scarcely be more different.

In an editorial headlined “Uncle Scrooge’s Paltry Package,” the
conservative daily newspaper O Estado de São Paulo noted Wednesday
that Mr. Bush’s offering amounted to “the equivalent of five days’
cost of the war in Iraq, and a drop of water compared with the ocean
of petrodollars in which Chávezism is navigating at full speed, from
Argentina to Nicaragua.”

Some of Mr. Bush’s aides said they were worried that perceptions
that the United States had neglected its southern neighbors,
and frustration in lower classes that had not reaped the benefits
of free trade, were helping to fuel leftist movements.

Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, said,
“Something we have not done well enough is getting out the
full scope of the president’s message.”

Mr. Bush told reporters that he hoped to counter Mr. Chávez’s
message by espousing the benefits of free trade.

Asked by a reporter about Mr. Chávez’s “so-called alternative
development model” calling for nationalization of industry,
Mr. Bush said: “I strongly believe that government-run industry
is inefficient and will lead to more poverty. I believe if the state
tries to run the economy, it will enhance poverty and reduce

He added, “So the United States brings a message of open
markets and open government to the region.”

But even Mr. Bush’s Brazilian hosts seemed divided in their
reaction to that message. Although President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva will be meeting with Mr. Bush on Friday to sign
the ethanol accord and is scheduled to visit him at Camp David
on March 31, the leftist Workers’ Party he leads has chosen
to support and take part in the anti-Bush demonstrations.

The party warned on its Web site that Mr. Bush “shouldn’t count
on Brazil for imperialist actions in the region.” One essay called
him “the big boss of international terrorism,” while another
declared that Mr. Bush was “persona non grata” in Brazil.

“The United States in general and the Bush government in particular
are brutally violent,” wrote Valter Pomar, the party’s secretary for
international relations. “We will only be free of this threat when
the North American people constitute a government on the left.”

At an evening rush-hour protest in the central business district
here, several thousand activists wore stickers showing Mr. Bush
with a Hitler-style mustache and a swastika next to his head and
the words “Fora Bush,” or “Bush Out.”

With the police standing by in riot gear, antiwar protesters mixed
with unionists and environmentalists, who are concerned that
harvesting ethanol from sugar could hurt the Amazon. A sea
of signs read “Adolf Bush” or “Quit Playing With the Environment.”

Later, the Brazilian news media reported that police officers used
tear gas and batons on protesters who were throwing rocks and
struggling with the officers, sending hundreds of demonstrators
running through the streets of São Paulo. There were no major
injuries reported.

Jim Rutenberg reported from São Paulo, and Larry Rohter
from Buenos Aires.


17) Veterans Face Vast Inequities Over Disability
March 9, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 8 — Staff Sgt. Gregory L. Wilson, from the
Texas National Guard, waited nearly two years for his veterans’
disability check after he was injured in Iraq. If he had been an
active-duty soldier, he would have gotten more help in cutting
through the red tape.

Allen Curry of Chicago has fallen behind on his mortgage while
waiting nearly two years for his disability check. If he had filed
his claim in a state deploying fewer troops than Illinois, Mr. Curry,
who was injured by a bomb blast when he was a staff sergeant
in the Army Reserve in Iraq, would most likely have been paid
sooner and gotten more in benefits.

Veterans face serious inequities in compensation for disabilities
depending on where they live and whether they were on active
duty or were members of the National Guard or the Reserve,
an analysis by The New York Times has found.

Those factors determine whether some soldiers wait nearly twice
as long to get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs
as others, and collect less money, according to agency figures.

“The V.A. is supposed to provide uniform and fair treatment
to all,” said Steve Robinson, the director of veteran affairs for
Veterans for America. “Instead, the places and services giving
the most are getting the least.”

The agency said it was trying to ease the backlog and address
disparities by hiring more claims workers, authorizing more
overtime and adding claims development centers.

The problems partly stem from the agency’s inability to prepare
for predictable surges in demand from certain states or certain
categories of service members, say advocates and former
department officials. Numerous government reports have
highlighted the agency’s backlog of disability claims and
called for improvements in shifting resources.

“It’s Actuary Science 101,” said Paul Sullivan, who until last
March monitored data on returning veterans for the V.A.
“When 5,000 new troops get deployed from California, you
can logically expect a percent of them will show up at the V.A.
in California in a year with predictable types of problems.”

“It makes no sense to wait until the troop is already back home
to start preparing for them,” Mr. Sullivan said. “But that’s
what the V.A. does.”

Veterans’ advocates say the types of bureaucratic obstacles
recently disclosed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are
eclipsed by those at the Veterans Affairs division that is supposed
to pay soldiers for service-related ills. The influx of veterans from
the Iraq war has nearly overwhelmed an agency already struggling
to meet the health care, disability payment and pension needs
of more than three million veterans.

Stephen Meskin, who retired last year as the V.A.’s chief actuary,
said he had repeatedly urged agency managers to track data
so they could better meet the needs of former soldiers. “Where
are the new vets showing up?” Mr. Meskin said he kept asking.
“They just shrugged.”

Agency officials say they have begun an aggressive oversight
effort to determine if all disability claims are being properly
processed and contracted for a study that will examine state-
by-state differences in average disability compensation payments.

“V.A.’s focus is to assure consistent application of the regulations
governing V.A. disability determinations in all states,” the
department said in a written statement.

Many new veterans say they are often left waiting for months
or years, wondering if they will be taken care of.

Unable to work because of post-traumatic stress disorder
and back injuries from a bomb blast in Iraq in 2004, Specialist
James Webb of the Army ran out of savings while waiting 11 months
for his claim. In the fall of 2005, Mr. Webb said, he began living
on the streets in Decatur, Ga., a state that has the 10th-largest
backlog of claims in the country.

“I should have just gone home to be with family instead of trying
to do it on my own,” said Mr. Webb, who received a Bronze Star
for his service in Iraq. “But with the post-traumatic stress disorder,
I just didn’t want any relationships.”

After waiting 11 months, he began receiving his $869 monthly
disability check and he moved into a house in Newnan, Ga. About
three weeks ago, Mr. Webb moved back home to live with his
parents in Kingsport, Tenn.

The backlogs are worst in some states sending the most troops,
and discrepancies exist in pay levels.

Illinois, which has deployed the sixth-highest number of soldiers
of any state, has the second-largest backlog. The average disability
payment for Illinois veterans — $7,803 a year — is among the lowest
in the nation, according to 2005 V.A. data.

In Pennsylvania, which has sent the fourth-highest number of troops,
the claims office in Pittsburgh is tied for second for longest backlogs,
where 4 out of 10 claims have been pending for more than six months.
Veterans from this state on average receive relatively low payments,
$8,268 per year, according to 2005 V.A. data. Comparable 2006 data
were not available.

The agency’s inspector general in 2005 examined geographic variations
in how much veterans are paid for disabilities, finding that demographic
factors, like the average age of each state’s veteran population, played
roles. But the report also pointed to the subjective way that claims
processors in each state determined level of disability.

Staffing levels at the veterans agency vary widely and have not kept
pace with the increased demand. The current inventory of disability
claims rose to 378,296 by the end of the 2006 fiscal year. The claims
from returning war veterans plus those from previous periods increased
by 39 percent from 2000 to 2006. During the same period, the staff
for handling claims has remained relatively flat, a problem the
department highlighted in its 2008 proposed budget. The department
expects to receive about 800,000 new claims in 2007 and 2008 each.

“It’s clear to everyone here that the system over all is struggling and
some veterans are waiting far too long for decisions,” Senator Larry E.
Craig, Republican of Idaho, said Wednesday at a hearing before the
Senate veterans affairs committee.

The growing strains on the veterans agency have affected some
soldiers more than others.

While the Reserve and National Guard have sent a disproportionate
number of soldiers to the war, the average annual disability
payment for those troops is $3,603, based on 2006 V.A. data
for unmarried veterans with no dependents. Active-duty soldiers
on average receive $4,962.

Though the V.A. acknowledged that there were discrepancies,
officials also said they believed that a significant factor might
be length of service. Active-duty soldiers generally serve longer,
and therefore more suffer from chronic diseases or disabilities
that develop over time. Many who served in the Guard think they
are losing the battle against the bureaucracy.

“We take a harder toll,” said Mr. Wilson, the Texan, referring
to the fate of reservists and Guard troops compared with active
duty soldiers.

He said that last month he received his disability check for his
back injuries but only after a 21-month wait and the intervention
of a congressman and a colonel.

When active-duty soldiers near discharge, they have access to far
more programs offering assistance with benefits than do reserve
and National Guard soldiers, according to veterans’ advocates.

“The active-duty guys, they get those resources,” Mr. Wilson
said. “We don’t.”

He said that while active-duty soldiers often received medical
disability evaluations in about 30 days, many reservists he knew
waited two years or more to get an initial appointment. Active-duty
personnel also routinely received legal advice about appeals
and other issues from military lawyers, while reservists had
to request those hearings, he said.

For years, the V.A.’s inspector general, the Government Accountability
Office, members of Congress and veterans’ advocates have pointed
out the need to improve how the V.A. tracks data on soldiers as they
are deployed and when they are injured. That would help prepare for
their future needs and ease delays in processing health and benefit

In 2004, a system was designed to track soldiers better, prepare
for surges in demand and avoid backlogs. But the system was shelved
by program officials under Secretary Jim Nicholson for financial
and logistical reasons, V.A. officials said Thursday at a hearing before
the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The V.A., which has said it has an alternate tracking system nearly
operational, depends on paper files and lacks the ability to download
Department of Defense records into its computers.

President Bush has appointed a commission to investigate problems
at military and veterans hospitals.

For Mr. Curry, the reservist from Chicago who has fallen behind on his
mortgage payments, his previous life as a $60,000-a-year postal worker
is a fading memory. “It’s just disheartening,” he said. “You feel like
giving up sometimes.”

Richard G. Jones contributed reporting from Trenton, Bob Driehaus
from Cincinnati, and Sean D. Hamill from Pittsburgh.


Malachi Ritscher, 1954-2006 | By Nitsuh Abebe

I Heard You, Malachi | By Jennifer Diaz
Malachi Ritscher, 1954-2006
by Nitsuh Abebe | Reprinted with permission from

War Protestor's Public Suicide in Chicago Went Unnoticed by Media
The Associated Press
Sunday 26 November 2006

Missing Tape of Padilla Interrogation Raises Questions
"A videotape showing Pentagon officials' final interrogation
of al-Qaeda suspect Jose Padilla is missing, raising questions
about whether federal prosecutors have lost other recordings
and evidence in the case."

Immigration Raid Under Way in Arizona
"Federal authorities raided a southern Arizona business
accused of hiring illegal immigrants Friday, three days
after immigration agents detained more than 360 workers
at a leather factory in Massachusetts."

Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit
By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA, Associated Press Writer

The Decline in African-American Representation
In Unions and Manufacturing, 1979-2006
By John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer
Center for Economic and Policy Research

Making Biofuels Without Wasting Food
Patricia Grogg

Pentagon Deploys 2,200 More Troops to Baghdad

One Woman, Fighting to Save Her People From Extinction
"If Nobel Peace Prizes could refreeze the polar ice caps, then Sheila
Watt-Cloutier would be a very happy woman indeed because her
people are "defending the right to be cold."

Without Health Benefits, a Good Life Turns Fragile
March 5, 2007

Amnesty International
The case of Gary Tyler, Louisiana

Food or Fuel?
Thursday, March 2, 2007

Putting to a Vote the Question ‘Who Is Cherokee?’
March 3, 2007

U.S. Predicting Steady Increase for Emissions
"The Bush administration estimates that emissions by the United States
of gases that contribute to global warming will grow nearly as fast
through the next decade as they did the previous decade, according
to a long-delayed report being completed for the United Nations."
March 3, 2007

U.S. Says Air Strike Killed Iraq Insurgents Targeting Copters
Filed at 11:34 a.m. ET
March 3, 2007

A Federal Witchhunt
The Persecution of Sami Al-Arian
March 3 / 4, 2007

Army Secretary Is Ousted in Furor Over Hospital Care
March 3, 2007

Chavez says he has no plans to eliminate individuals'
private property in Venezuela
Bloomberg News
Sunday, February 25, 2007

Junior ROTC takes a hit in L.A.
"At Roosevelt High, a coalition of teachers and students works
to end the program, and its numbers are dropping."
By Sonia Nazario
Times Staff Writer
February 19, 2007,0,6116682.story?coll=la-home-he

Government by Law, Not Faith
February 28, 2007

Low Pay and Broken Promises Greet Guest Workers
February 28, 2007

Chávez Shares Some Airtime With Castro
February 28, 2007

Jailers Testify About Padilla’s Confinement
February 28, 2007
U.S. Judge Finds Padilla Competent to Face Trial
March 1, 2007

Service Members Sign Appeal Calling for Troop Withdrawal
February 28, 2007

After Inquiry, Grand Jury Refuses
to Issue New Indictments in Till Case
February 28, 2007

F.B.I. Is Reopening Civil Rights Deaths
February 28, 2007

Some Immigrant High Schoolers Receive a Lesson in Disappointment
February 28, 2007

Two Victims and Three Officers to Testify in Shooting Inquiry
February 28, 2007

5 Ex-Managers Plead Guilty in Hiring of Illegal Immigrants
February 28, 2007

US's Iraq oil grab is a done deal
By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times (Hong Kong)
Feb 28, 2007

In Medieval Architecture, Signs of Advanced Math
February 27, 2007

What Castro and Chavez spoke about
The following is the transcript of the conversation between Venezuela's
President Hugo Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. It has been
edited for brevity.
February 28, 2007

Slavery Is Not Dead. It's Not Even Past.
March 1, 2007

The Big Meltdown
FEB. 27, 2008
March 2, 2007

Killing Highlights Risk of Selling Marijuana, Even Legally
March 2, 2007

U.S. Reviewing Safety of Children’s Cough Drugs
"The agency has for decades promised to review systematically
the safety of all old drugs, but for a variety of reasons like
budgetary constraints, time and popularity of a particular
drug has not done so."
March 2, 2007

House Passes Bill That Helps Unions Organize
March 2, 2007

Proposed Increases in Fees for U.S. Residency
and Citizenship Stir Protest in Newark
"'I have no savings,' she said in Spanish. 'If I couldn’t pay before,
imagine now, with this increase.' The cost for her family
to apply would rise to $3,620 from $1,300."
March 2, 2007

Councilor Turner attacked after
City Council passes anti-war resolution
By Phebe Eckfeldt
Published Mar 1, 2007 9:44 PM

Cuba oil boom may complicate U.S. embargo
Posted on Fri, Mar. 02, 2007

Groups Mum On Iraq, Despite Antiwar Tide
New Polling Research Finds Opposition Highest Among Jews
Nathan Guttman
"Washington - Even as a new study found that American Jews
are significantly more opposed to the Iraq War than are Christians,
Jewish organizations decided not to take up the issue at their
annual policy conference."
Fri. Mar 02, 2007

Fears of recession spark further turmoil in markets
By David Usborne in New York
"Fresh anxiety erupted about the health of the world's major economies
yesterday after investors in stock markets across Asia, Europe and the
United States once again staged significant retreats two days after
Tuesday's unexpected global equity sell-off."
Published: 02 March 2007

Education class war
"What the battle of Brighton over a lottery for school admissions
really means for..."
Published: 01 March 2007

Rape Cases Emerge From the Shadows
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily
"BAGHDAD, Mar 1 (IPS) - Reports of the gang-rape of 20-year-old
Sabrine al-Janabi by three policemen has set off new demands
for justice from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government."

Outrage over Imminent Execution of Iraqi Women
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily
"BAGHDAD, Mar 2 (IPS) - Three young women accused of joining
the Iraqi insurgency movement and engaging in "terrorism" have
been sentenced to death, provoking protest from rights organisations
fearing that this could be the start of more executions of women
in post-Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

Soldiers Move to Small Posts in Baghdad's Most Violent Areas
"American soldiers are leaving their sprawling fortress-cities
and establishing many small outposts in the capital's most
violent neighborhoods in a major tactical shift under the
two-week-old Baghdad security plan. American soldiers
say these outposts pose new risks to their safety and
require pulling soldiers off patrols to protect their lodgings."

Walter Reed Hospital Officials Knew of Neglect for Years
"Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including
the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about
outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups,
and members of Congress for more than three years."

Most Support U.S. Guarantee of Health Care
"A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee
health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing
to pay higher taxes to do it, according to the latest New York
Times/CBS News poll."
March 2, 2007

Veteran Care to Be Reviewed After Firing of General
WASHINGTON, March 2 — President Bush has ordered a top-to-bottom
investigation into the medical care available to returning veterans,
the White House said today, a day after the firing of the two-star
general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center over shabby
conditions there.
March 2, 2007

National Guard Underfunded, Not Prepared for Crises
"The stress of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has hindered the National
Guard's ability to respond to another attack, major natural disaster
or other domestic crisis, a congressionally appointed commission
said Thursday. Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro
explains the problem."
March 1, 2007


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])