Saturday, March 31, 2007



My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup

Michael Moore- The Awful Truth

Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments

Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage

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


CINE DEL BARRIO and New College Media Studies Program present:
The Red Dance (El Baile Rojo) directed by Yezid Campos
a film about Colombia, video, in color, 57 minutes, 2004
sub-titles in English plus, an up to the minute report on the
continuing struggle in Colombia by Cristina Gutierrez.
Saturday, April 7, 11:30 a.m.
at the Roxie New College Film Center
3117 - 16th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero)
San Francisco
No admission charge

This is part of "Nuestra America, Muestra de Cine y Video
Documental" series of film showings on Saturdays of March,
April, and May. All films are at 11:30am and 1:30pm on
Saturdays at the Roxie. Films on Nicaragua, Venezuela,
Colombia, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, and the U.S. (Immigrantes
Nuevo Orleans). Films are in Spanish with English sub-titles.
For more information: 415-863-1087


Anti-War Rally at Port of Oakland
Saturday, April 7, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
An anti-war rally will mark the fourth anniversary of the
Oakland police attack on anti-war protesters at the Port.
Port of Oakland Headquarters
530 Water Street, foot of Washington St. in Jack London Square.
For more information, call
415-863-6637 or email


March 22, 2007
The National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) demands the immediate
release of political prisoner, Dr. Sami Al-Arian.  Dr. Al-Arian is currently
under his 60th day of a water-only hunger strike in protest of his
maltreatment by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).   After an earlier
plea agreement that absolved Dr. Al-Arian from any further questioning,
he was sentenced up to 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before
a grand jury in Virginia.  

Dr. Al-Arian is currently being held at a medical facility in North Carolina.   
He is in critical condition, having lost 53 pounds, over 25% of his
body weight.  

According to family members who recently visited him he is no longer
able to walk or stand on his own.

More information on Dr. Al-Arian's ordeal can be found in the transcript
of a recent interview with his wife, Nahla Al-Arian on Democracy Now.



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

Call, Email and Write:

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

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

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

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

National Council of Arab Americans (NCA)


Excerpt of interview between Barbara Walters and Hugo Chavez


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


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




Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


Petition: Halt the Blue Angels


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


Film/Song about Angola


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


1) The War on Iraq and the Real Division in the US Ruling Class
By the Editors
March/April 2007

2) The Antiwar Movement An Editorial Opinion
By Carole Seligman

3) Gang Injunctions
By Bonnie Weinstein

4) Chavez lays out collective property plan
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 25, 10:50 PM ET

5) Army deployed seriously injured troops
"Soldiers on crutches and canes were sent to a main desert camp
used for Iraq training. Military experts say the Army was pumping
up manpower statistics to show a brigade was battle ready."
By Mark Benjamin
Mar. 26, 2007

6) War protest crowd count too low
Richard Becker
Monday, March 26, 2007

7) India Is Colonising Itself
By Arundhati Roy & Shoma Chaudhuri
26 March, 2007

8) New Coin of the Realm
March 23, 2007

9) Flood of Sewage in Gaza Kills at Least 4
March 27, 2007

10) Involuntary Call-Up Set for Marines
March 27, 2007

11) Inhumane raid was just one of many
By Carol Rose and Christopher Ott
March 26, 2007

12) KPFA: Will new gag rule kill ‘Free Speech Radio’?
by Minister of Information JR
From the latest edition of the San Francisco Bay View

13) In Defense of Day Laborers
March 28, 2007

14) Opposing the Iraq Supplemental & Iran Threats
By Phyllis Bennis
Institute for Policy Studies
26 March 2007

15) Report Says Interior Official Overrode Work of Scientists
March 29, 2007

16) Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows
"The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively
enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans.
Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average
person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980."
March 29, 2007

17) Chief Warns Automakers That U.A.W. Won’t Budge on Health Care or Jobs Bank
March 29, 2007

18) Reflections from the Commander-in-Chief
By Fidel Castro
March 28, 2007
[VIA Email from: Walter Lippmann]
Farmers to Plant Most Amount of Corn Since ’44
March 31, 2007

19) Statement of Protest Concerning the Unreasonable Bail Imposed
by the San Francisco Court, re: The San Francisco 8
By Three Former-Panthers: Larry Pinkney, Eddie Williams,
and Gerald Sanders Guest Commentators
March 29, 2007

20) Federal Agents Arrest 69 Immigrants in Baltimore in Raids
March 30, 2007

21) Rats in His Sights, and in His Backpack, Too
March 30, 2007

22) The Surprising New Face of Cuban Jazz
March 30, 2007
[The Wall Street Journal is normally relentless in its hostility to
Cuba, but here it surprises by publishing a straight-forward friendly
interview with a Cuban artist who continues to live and work on the
island and does not have any desire to leave. They try to get him to
make some anti-government statement, which he doesn't do, he politely
declines the bait, and they don't attack him. Here's a guy who has
never known any other world but the Revolution. Lives and works in
Cuba, travels internationally, and voluntarily goes back home.
Walter Lippmann ]

23) The Conscience of the Colonel
"Lt. Col. Stuart Couch volunteered to prosecute
terrorists. Then he decided one had been tortured"
March 31, 2007; Page A1


1) The War on Iraq and the Real Division in the US Ruling Class
By the Editors
March/April 2007

Aside from the deep division over foreign and domestic policy between
the U.S. ruling class and the American people, and aside from the fake
division between Republicans and Democrats, there is a very real division
among the ruling elite. As we shall see, however, it is not a division
between those for and against the War on Iraq, but rather how the
war can still be won.

What are the real reasons for the war on Iraq (since contrary to their
pretensions, there are no fundamental differences between the opposing
factions of the ruling class in regard to the real aims of the U.S.)? And
while everyone knows that it's really all about oil, behind that lies a more
complex and ambitious goal.

That is, the American Empire's aims go much further than a rip-off
of the world's second largest proven deposits of oil in Iraq. It's longer
-term objective is gaining decisive control over the largest of the world's
oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich nations in the region.

• • •
As things now stand, the countries that formed the Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (which was formed in 1960
to combat attempts by imperialism's international oil corporations
and cartels to gain a larger share of the profits from the oil-exporting
nations), are now a mite better able to defend their own interests.
Consequently, U.S. and British oil corporations, in retaliation, have
been pushing their governments toward policies leading to a radical
increase in their share of oil profits by any and all means-none fair!

This helps explain why both factions are also in agreement with the
administration's construction of 13permanent U.S. military basesin Iraq
immediately after the six-week invasion ousted Saddam Hussein's
dictatorship and disbanded his armed forces. The U.S. removed Hussein,
their man-in-Iraq, because he was beginning to go too far in putting
his regime's interests over Uncle Sam's. Besides, the U.S. wanted more
Iraqi oil as well.

The establishment of a powerful U.S. military stronghold in Iraq can
have no other purpose than to serve as a launching pad for gaining
a far greater measure of control over all Middle Eastern oil-providing,
of course, the U.S. superpower can subdue the Iraqi insurgency.

This contradiction between the Bush administration's words and deeds
gives the lie to itsstated intention of bringing freedom and democracy
and improved living standards to the people of Iraq and establishing
a democratic Iraqi government with a military force capable of defending
itself. And the fact that the administration's critics have not bothered
to point to this contradiction between words and deeds, goes a long
way toward proving that they also support the construction of a very
large U.S. military stronghold in Iraq as a launching pad for the
American Empire's longer-term goals in the Middle East.

In fact, when President Bush ordered 21,000 more troops to Iraq, he
also dispatched a powerful naval task force, including two big aircraft
carriers, into the Persian Gulf. Although it was loudly proclaimed as
being directed at Iran, it nevertheless constituted ade facto-threat
against Arab and Iranian oil most of which is transported by tanker
through the Gulf. Since then, a third U.S. Naval aircraft-carrier group
(twenty more ships) has been deployed in the Gulf!

There's yet another reason for building a powerful stronghold in Iraq.
Starting in 1948, because the colonial revolution had begun picking
up steam during and immediately after the Second World War, world
imperialism-through the medium of the UN-created the Israeli settler
state as its first major military foothold in the Middle East. Israel would
be a primarily American imperialist instrument for controlling the rising
rebellion against imperialist domination of the colonial world.

However, the Zionist containment of the Palestinian rebellion has
become a bigger and tougher job than anyone expected. Besides,
the irrepressible Palestinian rebellion has contributed heavily to the
destabilization of imperialist control over the entire Middle East,
including Iran. And when account is taken of the vast deposits of oil
already controlled by the United States, the achievement of even their
immediate goal of gaining decisive control over the prices and profits
of Iraqi oil would give corporate America an important lever with which
to regulate the market price of oil on a global scale.

But while both factions of the capitalist power structure are in agreement
with the two main objectives in Iraq and the Middle East, they are in sharp
disagreement over what it will take to win the war against Iraq's mass
rebellion. That's why the opposing faction has latched onto the well-
founded criticisms made by senior U.S. Generals, Army Chief of Staff
Eric Shinseki and CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks, who have argued
from its outset that it would take at least 200,000 troops for the offensive
to succeed; and far more troops-as many as 300,000-to pacify and police
the country after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the disbanding
of his armed forces!

But, while the Generals merely argue that a larger force is needed to win
the war, they don't of course, dare call for the reinstitution of the Draft.
And the reason they don't is no secret. The so-called Vietnam syndrome
has convinced both factions of the ruling class to avoid conscription like
the plague. The Vietnam experience has given them all very good reason
to believe that it would cause an explosive expansion of the already
existing mass opposition to the war.

But there may still be another way-if it's not too late-to get the additional
troops needed at this stage of a losing war. The Bush administration's critics,
who include among its chief spokespersons theNew York Times, and
a substantial portion of important representatives of the capitalist political
and economic establishment, had proposed such a solution starting before
the invasion of Iraq was launched in March 2003. And that could have been
done by offering the European Union the same guarantees they gave the
British to win its full political, economic and military support.

We now come to the main reason for the opposition by the more conservative
and less adventurous wing of the ruling class-an opposition that grows
with every military setback suffered by the Bush administration in its
losing war against the Iraqi insurgency.

What most of America's ordinary folks have not been told, is that the U.S.
had to pay a price to secure the whole-hearted military, political and
financial support of Great Britain for the daunting task of conquering
and pacifying the mass Iraqi insurgency. And that price could only have
been a promise to the British that in exchange for the pain of helping
in the conquest and pacification of Iraq, British capitalism would get its
fair share of the gain-joint monopoly control over Iraqi oil. And after the
consolidation of their grip on Iraq, the two world powers would then be
in position, to shoot for a monopoly on as much of the world's largest
proven deposits of oil in the entire Middle East and beyond that their
military and economic power would allow.

Furthermore, the U.S. power structure's insiders-including the
administration's critics-also understoodwhy Bush and company
had refused to make the same commitment to the European Union
that they made to the British.

Global economic competitionand the role played by oil

However, we must first establish how decisive control over Middle
Eastern oil today, can determine the winners and losers of the ever-
intensifying competition among the world's capitalist nations for
a larger share of the shrinking world marketplace tomorrow.

The main reason why the U.S./UK is locked on a course toward
gaining a virtual monopoly over the world's largest deposits of oil
becomes clearer when account is taken of their already existing
control over a major portion of the world's oil supply. Thus, gaining
decisive control over Iraqi oil would enable the American Empire and
its British junior partner to raise the cost of energy to selected
competitors and thereby raise the latter's cost of production
of all its exports.

And that's where the European Union's major powers, headed by France
and Germany, come into the picture. Western Europe is far more dependent
on Iraqi and Middle Eastern oil than other of the American Empire's major
competitors at the present stage of the deepening trade wars. That,
in turn, would permit the U.S./UK alliance to capture a larger share
of the world market forits products from one of its main competitors,
the EU, which is also its most vulnerable rival at this stage of the inter-
imperialist economic conflict.

In a word, that's why the U.S. refused to offer the same inducement
to the EU that won it the whole-hearted support of British imperialism
for the task of conquering Hussein and subduing the Iraqi insurgency.
It conflicts with the Bush administration's double purpose, of gaining
strategic control over the world supply of oil and stealing a march on
some of its main competitors today and more tomorrow.

Evidently, the faction of the U.S. ruling class opposed to the course of
action chosen by the Bush administration have judged it to be far too
risky. That is, the administration's decision to crush the insurgency
without the help of the political, economic and military support of the
European Union was too big a gamble, even though the rewards would
have been much greater.

A further reason why the administration's loyal opponents rejected such
a high-stakes gamble is the already enormous size of the antiwar
movement in the U.S. which can help upset the administration's
best-laid plans as it did in Vietnam.

They may well also have a deeper concern. Though the U.S. today may
not be the Russia of 1917 when the Bolshevik slogan "Land, Peace and
Bread" helped them lead Russia's workers and peasants to the overthrow
of Czarism, and toward socialist revolution, the U.S. can become another
Russia tomorrow, because the revolutionary dynamics at work at that
time in Russia apply with even greater force today to a capitalist world
that is on an irreversible course toward economic catastrophe.

Besides, capitalist America has been living on borrowed money and,
by the same token, borrowed time. The public debt, now stands at
8.7-trillion dollars and rises in pace with the balance of trade and
budget deficits that are rising faster than can be registered on the
U.S.-Debt Clock.

In addition, now that the world monetary system's link with gold has
been stretched to the breaking point, the U.S. Treasury is for all practical
purposes, already bankrupt. Two factors, however, stand in the way
of outright bankruptcy. One is the world's faith in the dollar because
of the enormity of the U.S. economy. The other is the fact that should
too many of the world's bankers and moneylenders demand payment
on the barrelhead or cash in their dollar holdings for Euros at the same
time, there would be a run on the dollar leading to its collapse. And
if the dollar collapses, the entire global monetary system would also
come crashing down.

More on the unique role of oil in the world today
This takes us closer to what is really driving U.S. economic, political
and military policy in the Middle East, in particular, and the world
in general.

Oil is a commodity unlike any other. It's more than a source of energy.
It is also more plentiful, accessible, portable and generally more
efficacious than any other fuel. The by-products of oil, after the
various fuels are extracted, are also an indispensable raw material
for the production of a multiplicity of products ranging from plastics,
to dyes to chemicals to dozens of other commodities.

Throughout most of the 20th century most of the world's industrial,
commercial and financial entrepreneurs had considered oil to be a special
commodity whose value, in many respects, was considered to be as
"good as gold" giving rise to its nickname, "Black Gold." This
characterization refers to its universal acceptance between industrialized
nations, by virtue of its "liquidity" (the abilityor ease with which a commodity
can be converted into cold cash).

Besides, this extraordinarily versatile raw material, whose value as a source
of profits greatly increases after it has been reduced and divided into
its valuable components, goes far beyond that of most other universally
coveted raw materials. Most importantly, the economy of industrialized
nations would come to a dead stop without oil, gas and other fossil fuels.
Oil, moreover, is a far more efficient fuel for powering everything from
cars, trucks, trains, planes and last but not least, the electricity-generating
powerhouses of the world!

Thus, in the world as it is today, oil is perhaps the closest thing to
a universal equivalent like gold, silver and other semi-precious metals
like copper which still serve as money in the form of coins.

And this adds another dimension to the value of oil in today's global
economy. Because the growing crisis of the dollar worsens in pace
with the rising balance of payments and budget deficits, gaining
a near monopoly over Iraqi oil would serve to stop and perhaps
reverse this deficit which would also strengthen the weakening
U.S. dollar.

However, the longer the war goes on, along with the increasing
effectiveness of the Iraqi insurgency in downing helicopters, destroying
armored vehicles and increasing the rate of killed and wounded
U.S. troops, it is draining the U.S. treasurynow, while the hoped
for Iraqi oil bonanza has yet to be realized-if ever!

Most importantly, the war is undermining the American Empire's
military and political position in Iraq as well as right here in the
imperialist heartland.

The US has broken from its winning policyduring the Cold War

The course being followed by the United States today in regard to
ts changed relationship with its imperialist allies during the Cold War
is a sharp departure from its successful leadership of world imperialism
against the Soviet superpower during the more than 40 years
of the Cold War.

During those years, it should be remembered, the policies followed
by the U.S. were guided by the need to maintain the unity of world
imperialism based on the defense of their most fundamental class
interests. The formidable power of the Soviet Superpower, its
satellites and neocolonial allies, kept the U.S. from going too far
in the direction of subordinating the interests of world imperialism
to the narrower interests of the American Empire.

The Bush administration's big mistake, as perceived by its critics,
is its break from the policy followed by the U.S. during the Cold War:
a policy that subordinated the narrower interests of U.S. imperialism
to those of world imperialism as a whole. That is, while the most sober
of the ruling class had no doubts about its ability to single-handedly
crush the army of Saddam Hussein and replace his dictatorship with
a "democratic" government subservient to the American Empire, they
knew it was something else again to suppress the Iraqi insurgency
solely with the help of the British Empire.

What divides the Bush administration from its critics is the former's
willingness to bet the family jewels on a long shot; and the latter's
belief that the gamble is not worth the effort. Besides, the critics may
well believe that it would be a better and safer bet to share the spoils
with the EU in exchange for their help in crushing the insurgency and
then play the inter-imperialist conflict by ear from then on.

Making bad matters worse is the recent deepening of the division
in the ruling class when the Iraq Study Group (ISG) published its Report
on the state of the war in the Middle East on December 6, 2006.
The ISG is a ten-person bipartisan panel appointed on March 15, 2006,
by the United States Congress.

The panel, composed of five Republicans and five Democrats, is no ordinary
congressional commission. All ten members had held high positions
in government including two former Secretaries of State, a former U.S.
Attorney General, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense, a retired Supreme
Court Justice, two former Senators, a former White House Chief of Staff
and one "highly respected" business executive.

Congress charged this prestigious panel with assessing the situation
in Iraq and the U.S.-led Iraq War and making policy recommendations.

The ISG Report, "The Way Forward-A New Approach," was widely interpreted
as being in essential accord with the political, military and diplomatic
orientation of the administration's Democratic Party critics. At the same
time, like all other of its critics, the ISG Report nevertheless made crystal
clear it's support for the main objectives in Iraq and the Middle East
of both the Bush Administration and it's loyal opposition.

However, what might be called the elder statespersons of the U.S. political
establishment who had been appointed to the ISG have taken the rebuff
by the Bush administration in stride. The reason for this is their obvious
concern that their differences, though very serious, should not be
allowed to get out of hand.

Obviously, it's not in either side's interests to let their real differences
over military and political strategy disrupt their need to stick together.
And secondly, an untoward sharpening of tone in their debate raises
the danger that one side or the other, in their zeal to score points
with the undecided sector of the ruling class, might lead them,
inadvertently, toward spilling the beans regarding the real reasons
for the Iraq War.

Ironically, while tens of thousands of antiwar protestors have been
chanting the slogan "No Blood for Oil!" starting with the first mass
march by ten million demonstrators in most of the world's major
cities back in February 2003, just weeks before the U.S. invasion
of Iraq had begun, both factions of the ruling class have issued little
more than one-sentence denials of the charge that oil had anything
to do with the invasion of Iraq.

But as the saying goes, though a lie can circle the globe before the
truth gets its shoes on, the truth will out in time.

Capitalism can no longer give its real reasons for war

There was a time-now long past-when capitalists organized and led
progressive wars. That is, wars such as the French and American
revolutions which were genuinely designed to improve the lives
of the great majority as well as advancing the interests of the
capitalist class. But even a progressive war like the U.S. Civil War-in
the hands of the capitalist class-killed many more innocent victims
than necessary.

That was more than a matter of being able to honestly give their real
reasons for war. Since there is no more effective propaganda than the
simple truth, it gave the revolutionary capitalist class a very powerful

And no less importantly, the capitalist revolution also gave a powerful
impulse to the development of science and technology, which laid
the foundation for a more or less steady expansion of the productive
forces of capitalist society. All of these revolutionary transformations
being the precondition for higher living standards, greater control
over the forces of nature, all of which leads to curative medicines
and vaccines that prevent disease. After all, there is no greater
improvement in mass living standards than a longer and healthier life.

However, even when capitalism did what was needed to develop science
and technology, control over the forces of nature and development
of the forces of production, it was consciously motivated by capitalist
greed and at the expense of the unnecessary human suffering of the
very people producing all of society's wealth-its workers and farmers.

While it is important to give due credit to the progressive role played
by capitalism and capitalistsin the past, it's more important to recognize
that whatever positive role it has played has gradually turned into

its opposite simply because it has outlived its usefulness.

And while the ruling class of every one of history's outmoded social
orders have refused to pass peacefully into oblivion without a fight
to the death, the consequences for humanity has never been as potentially
unthinkable as they are today. And that's because the very same forces
enhancing the forces of mass production-science and technology-are
also the forces of mass destruction.

Today, capitalism's once great contributions to humanity are no longer
forces of mass construction and progress. Rather capitalism today has
become the most powerful force for mass destruction in world history.
Consequently, long before the Vietnam War, it had become increasingly
difficult for capitalists to justify their wars, wars which have been re-
occurring with greater frequency as time marches on.

That's why the ruling class is compelled to come up with spurious
rationalizations for wars that are intended to benefit the rich with
the bulk of the fighting and dying imposed on the poor.

That's why the bipartisan U.S. government is compelled to justify its
horrendous crimes against humanity with the false claim that the war
on Iraq, like so many others that preceded it, is intended to bring
freedom, democracy and a better life to the people of Iraq
and the United States.

That's why, both factions are as economically and politically bankrupt
as is the U.S. Treasury today and even more importantly, that's why
the global capitalist monetary system is also a financial bankruptcy
just waiting to happen.

And, finally, that's also why, in the final analysis, both factions are
on an irreversible trajectory toward wars, more wars and unless the
capitalist social and economic order is overthrown and replaced by
a socialist world without borders, it's doomed to end in a global
thermonuclear conflagration.


2) The Antiwar Movement An Editorial Opinion
By Carole Seligman

A critical time for the antiwar movement arrived several months ago,
around the summer of 2006, when the tide of U.S. public opinion
turned against the war on Iraq. The majority of the American people
joined with the rest of humanity in opposing the war and they started
to weigh the various proposals on how to end it. This opposition and
open-mindedness continues to grow. It was reflected in the gigantic
antiwar mobilization in Washington, D.C., at the antiwar march
sponsored by United for Peace and Justice on January 27th.

The turn in massive war opposition signaled to the organized, independent,
antiwar movement that the time for unity in action against the war was
of critical importance. It also meant that there was a great need to get
our proposal for how to stop the killing and end the war out on the table
for the people to consider. The diverse organizations of the antiwar
movement all agree on how to end the war. They address these
demands to the government: Bring the troops home now! Stop
funding the war!

These are the means by which the antiwar movement champions the
cause of self-determination for the people of Iraq by ending U.S. war
and occupation. At the same time, these demands on the government
meet the needs of American workers not to be put in harms way, not
to kill, and not to die in an unjust war on behalf of the big oil corporations
and other private businesses who are raking in the profits as war contractors.

These demands put this antiwar movement way ahead of the Vietnam
antiwar movement in some respects. It took many years for the whole
movement against the Vietnam War to adopt the “Out Now!” demand.
There were a few years of debate and division within the movement
between the “Out Now!” wing of the movement and the liberals who
called for negotiations (between the United States and Vietnam’s National
Liberation Front) as a solution for ending that war. At that time, in the
1960s, only the conscious left wing of the movement, the socialists and
the radical pacifists, understood that the U.S. had no right to negotiate
anything in Vietnam, and that only unconditional withdrawal of the U.S.
from Vietnam could end the war.

Now, the debate on how to end the war is between the whole organized
antiwar movement on the one hand, and on the other, the various factions
of the government, whose views range from ending the war through total
U.S. military victory (Bush administration and some Congressional
supporters of both parties), to mild non-binding resolutions criticizing
the latest troop escalation, to liberals in Congress who call for withdrawal
within six months, or by the end of 2007, or later, or some other formula
which allows the U.S. to keep troops and bases there for some time to come.

So, why, if the national antiwar groups and coalitions agree that the war
must end, and they agree on how to end it, why can’t they manage
to put aside other differences of opinion in order to get the most massive
protest demonstrations of people in the streets on the same day and
the same locations? For example: Why can’t the UFPJ whole-heartedly
support and build the March 17th, 4 year anniversary of the war March
on the Pentagon initiated by the Act Now To Stop War and End Racism
(A.N.S.W.E.R.) Coalition?

The sticking point for the leadership of the biggest national antiwar
coalition seems to be an overly (and foolishly, I would argue) optimistic
hope that the new Democratic Party majority in Congress will actually
move to end the war. Some sections of the antiwar movement are tempted
to try to form an alliance with the Democratic Party “liberals” who advocate
gradual withdrawal (Woolsey, Lee, Waters), phased withdrawal (Obama),
or even re-deployment outside of Iraqi borders, but continue to encircle
the region with bases and warships (Murtha, Clinton).

Unfortunately, most of this Democratic Party majority is tainted with
its votes for the war budget, for the military, and even, in many cases,
for authorizing the war on Iraq. Even the most peace-talking Democrats
in Congress fail to put forward the sensible demands of complete and
unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and the immediate
cessation of all funding for the war and occupation!

In San Francisco, for example, some sections of the antiwar movement
put great efforts into building a public meeting for Democratic Party
presidential hopeful, Dennis Kucinich, who talks a lot about peace, instead
of efforts to build a massive demonstration in San Francisco. Despite this
partial abstention, the S.F. demonstration on January 27th mobilized about
10,000 people for “Out Now!” It was a case of the unorganized people
having a more developed consciousness about how to end the war than
several of the antiwar organizations.

There seems to be a welling up of antiwar sentiment among the people.
The internet and Pacifica radio (and even National Public Radio, to some
extent) have daily reports on a wide range of actions of all kinds of protests
against the war—speak-outs, die-ins, sit-ins, civil disobedience, pickets,
marches, rallies, lobbying of Congresspersons, coordinated meetings
in localities, petitions, town meetings, referendums, to name only a few.
But the gigantic turnout on January 27 (half a million was the reported
size of the Washington, D.C. demonstration!) shows that masses want
to unite and express their opposition to the war in the most massive
numbers possible because in unity there is strength. And in massive
numbers, there is power. And the activists know that the potential for
mobilizing on a more massive scale than ever is now possible with the
new antiwar majority and the growing number of Iraq war veterans and
active duty soldiers who are marching and speaking out against the war.
This phenomenon, of active duty soldiers going into opposition to the
war at a time when there is no draft, is unprecedented.

The real reason for the hostility of UFPJ to the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition,
which sponsored most of the big national antiwar demonstrations to date,
is the Democratic Party’s absolute hostility to any criticism of U.S. imperialism’s
best ally in the Middle East—Israel. Even the most “liberal” antiwar Democrats
are supporters of Israeli apartheid and have endorsed full funding for the
Israeli regime’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people
indigenous to the land now claimed by Israel. Opposition to the war on
Iraq cannot be artificially separated from the cause of Palestine’s struggle
against Israeli oppression and occupation. Israel and the United States carry
out their oppressive policies in collaboration. With the U.S. backed Israeli
attack on Lebanon, its bombing of nuclear plants, and its development
of nuclear weapons, Israel and the United States are in active collusion
in planning an attack on Iran.

During the Vietnam War, when the U.S. spread its air strikes (the heaviest
tonnage dropped until that date in the history of air war) to Laos and
Cambodia, the U.S. antiwar movement responded accordingly, demanding
that the U.S. stop all the bombing and get out of all of Southeast Asia.
In the same way, the antiwar movement today must demand an end
to all U.S. funding of Israel, whose violent acts of war against the
Palestinians allow their land (the Israeli state) to be used as a base
of U.S. imperialism in the whole Middle East.

Even if the antiwar movement cannot reach an agreement on the need
for the U.S. to stop funding Israel, there should be an agreement
to unite in massive demonstrations to get the U.S. out of Iraq and
let people who have different views on Palestine bring their own
signs and slogans and placards to a unified march. The Democratic
Party should not set the agenda for the antiwar movement and dictate
who is welcome and who is not. Letting the Democratic Party operatives
play any role in determining the degree of unity in the antiwar movement
is akin to allowing the Democrats to divide the movement. That’s what
happened in the very early days of the Vietnam antiwar movement.
It was a conscious effort on the part of a section of the ruling class
to keep the peace movement within respectable (and harmless) bounds
of opposing war in general, but not actively opposing the specific
Vietnam War of U.S. imperialism!

War is the most basic prerogative that the class in power reserves
for itself. And the development of a massive antiwar movement that
challenges that prerogative—that opposes killing people in other countries
—has within it the seeds of profound social change. Without the ability
to make war, the ruling class, the capitalists who profit financially from
war (and an economy based on production for war), can lose their ability
to rule over the workers at home. Workers who begin to see that we have
more in common with workers and farmers in foreign lands than with
our own ruling class at home are ready to rule society in our own name
and for our own interests. That is a potential revolutionary development,
whose seeds are germinating within class society right now.


3) Gang Injunctions
By Bonnie Weinstein

In San Francisco there is a new gentrification project going on in
Bayview/Hunters Point, a predominantly Black community made
up of people already displaced from the great Fillmore District
gentrification project in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

When I first moved into a flat in San Francisco’s now famous Castro
district (bordering the Fillmore) in 1966, the community was half Black.
Within a year or two it became almost all white. The rents began
to skyrocket. Renovations were going on all over and it was not
uncommon to see Victorian houses moving through the streets
on super-wide trucks as the Fillmore and Castro districts were
being transformed and gentrified. Now Fillmore Street boasts
of the most expensive boutiques in the city. It borders on Pacific
Heights, the wealthiest community in the city, and one of the
wealthiest communities in the world.

Now, especially in this commuting-nightmare situation of today,
where many former residents of the city who were forced to move
into the suburbs are experiencing a threefold increase in their
commute time to and from work, the Bayview/Hunters Point
district with its warm San Francisco summers (the warmest
district, right on the bay and in close proximity to downtown)
sits on choice land.

The City and County of San Francisco is bound and determined
to transform it into luxury land but has to get rid of the Black
community first. It is using every means, including the implementation
of eminent domain (whereby local governments may force property
owners to sell out and make way for private economic development
when officials decide it would “benefit the public”); citing building-
inspection violations against elderly owners of dilapidated homes;
frequent code inspections of Black-owned businesses in the community,
etc., to achieve their goal of driving out the Black and poor from the

They even disqualified a petition that gathered over 33,000 signatures
this summer to put a measure on the ballot against the current
gentrification plans in the Bayview/Hunters Point district. A court
case is pending against the city government office that dismissed
the petition out of hand and against all ballot regulations. (A declaration
by the city’s own signature-verification worker stated that the required
number of signatures were valid and received on time to qualify the
initiative for the ballot.)

They are beginning to use yet a new tactic—“gang injunctions”—
to facilitate the removal of the Black population. Gang injunctions have
been used to evict tenants from public housing. If you have a child in
a gang, you’re out. If you have a relative who’s a drug user and they
come to your house to stay a few days, you’re out. And so on.

Those the police identify as gang members are subject to immediate
search and arrest at any moment and are not allowed out in the street
after midnight; they can’t stand outside a store or in front of their
house together with one or more persons; and they’re barred from
public housing altogether.

What the City completely ignores is the unbelievably high unemployment
rate and rates of abject poverty in this same community, as well as in
similar poor communities across the country. Here are some statistics,
taken from a March 20, 2006, New York Times article, “Plight Deepens
for Black Men, Studies Warn,” by Erik Eckholm:

“The share of young Black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly,
with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990s.
In 2000, 65 percent of Black male high school dropouts in their 20s were
jobless—that is, unable to find work, not seeking it, or incarcerated.
By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent
of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school
graduates were included, half of Black men in their 20s were jobless
in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.... Incarceration rates climbed
in the 1990s and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995,
16 percent of Black men in their 20s who did not attend college were
in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their
mid-30s, 6 in 10 Black men who had dropped out of school had
spent time in prison.

“In the inner cities, more than half of all Black men do not finish high
school.... With the shift from factory jobs, unskilled workers of all races
have lost ground, but none more so than Blacks. By 2004, 50 percent
of Black men in their 20s who lacked a college education were jobless,
as were 72 percent of high school dropouts, according to data compiled
by Bruce Western, a sociologist at Princeton and author of the forthcoming
book “Punishment and Inequality in America” (Russell Sage Press). These
are more than double the rates for white and Hispanic men....

“Among Black dropouts in their late 20s, more are in prison on a given
day—34 percent—than are working—30 percent—according to an
analysis of 2000 census data by Steven Raphael of the University
of California, Berkeley.”

These are conditions resulting from centuries of slavery, racism and
imperialist-capitalist exploitation around the world. And this is the daily
brutal reality that poor and working poor residents of Bayview/Hunters
Point and in all such districts around the country must endure. The same
thing is happening in poor white communities. The difference between
those in the inner cities and those in the deteriorating rural areas is that
nobody wants the land in the rural areas. It’s only logical that those who
can afford to pay the highest price for real estate will buy up the choicest
property in the country. This is happening in all the metropolitan cities
around the world—it’s a worldwide trend.

When the gang injunction was put into effect on November 22, 2006,
for the first time in San Francisco, I searched the Internet with the words
“gang injunction,” thinking that the relevant article pertaining to the S.F.
injunction would come up right away. To my surprise, lists of gang
injunctions came up all over the country—especially in areas that the
real estate is at a premium.

This is just one more arm of the war on the poor designed to divide
worker against worker and enforce oppressive police measures against
the poorest communities.

How capitalism benefits from criminalizationof the poor

The City and County of San Francisco are supposed to use only local
labor for their constructions projects—private or public. This sounds
good, except for the fact that anyone with a felony is disqualified.
Drug tests further screen prospective construction workers, almost
all of whom are young and reflect the high rate of drug use among
youth of all colors, economic status, and ethnic backgrounds in today’s
world. Statistics show that young people use drugs—certainly marijuana
—on a routine basis, yet drug screening disproportionately leaves Black
youth out of job opportunities since they represent the bulk of the
applicants for the hardest and lowest paid jobs.

Because Black and Latino youth are disproportionately arrested and
incarcerated, their criminal records further screen them out of job
opportunities. Youth with felony records are disqualified from government
financial aid for college—even community college. This is being fought
but the incidences of discrimination are rampant. The criminal records
follow these youth to adulthood and remain an anchor to poverty and

San Francisco construction projects routinely violate the rule to hire
within the community and to employ union labor. Their excuse? They
can’t find a drug-free or criminal-record-free applicant. But there has
been a building boom of sorts, especially in California. In a review
of Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s new book, “Golden Gulag Prisons, Surplus,
Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California”, which appeared in the
S an Francisco Chronicle of December 31, 2006, author Tony Platt explains:

“California may lag behind many other states in high school graduation
rates, welfare benefits, and investment in public health, but when it comes
to punishment, we rank at or near the top. We’ve crammed 173,000 convicts
into the nation’s largest prison system, designed to house at least one-third
less. Our prison suicide and recidivism rates approach twice the national
average. And we have one of the most extravagant penal systems in the
country, costing taxpayers about the same as the state spends on higher
education.... Today, 90 penitentiaries, small prisons and camps stretch
across 900 miles of the fifth-largest economy in the world. It hasn’t always
been this way. Between 1852 and 1964, California built only 12 prisons.
Since 1984, the state has erected 43 penal institutions, making it a global
leader in prison construction.

“Most of the new prisons have been built in out-of-the-way rural areas,
making it easier to lose sight of the humanity of the people we warehouse:
mostly men (93 percent), mostly Latinos and African Americans (two-thirds),
mostly from big cities (60 percent from Los Angeles), and mostly unemployed
or the working poor.”

Now there is a massive criminalization of undocumented workers going
on across the country—many of whom share the same communities with
Black America. Police occupation of the inner cities is being beefed up and
expanded with new technology. They are putting up cameras on targeted street
corners; in front of every store; in front of public housing; and anywhere
young people tend to gather. In some of these communities it is illegal
for youth to gather, period—unless it’s at a private residence that isn’t
a housing project, a club, a store, or a ball game. I’m not kidding.
In San Francisco after 8:00 p.m., kids are not allowed to sit together in
a park. That’s illegal. So is hanging out together on a street corner or
on a front stoop.

Money for human needs, not war

Compounding the problems of youth, the general lack of employment,
and the high incarceration rate, is the fact that youth between 17 and
25 years of age are just now feeling the impact of the multi-tiered
union contracts their parents have been forced to sign. These kids
will earn, on average, half what their parents earned at the same job.
They won’t be able to afford to flee the nest. And many of them have
children of their own. Families are doubling up as they did in the

The multi-trillion-dollar U.S. war machine is feeding on these very
youth. With nothing but illegal street sales that lead to incarceration,
or a job at the local burger joint or supermarket to look forward
to for an income, the military seems like a good alternative. Especially
when the recruiters lie and tell them they won’t go to war. The military
also preys on poor rural areas, where they are sometimes more successful
because the youth so desperately want to get out. Many of their parents
have suffered the effects of factories closing down and the lack
of employment that results. These youth are more vulnerable
to the allure of the military because there are no opportunities
available in these communities that will allow them to rise above
abject poverty.

The military is even promising instant citizenship to non-citizens
if they join. But less than 10 percent ever actually get citizenship;
it’s easy to be disqualified for myriad reasons—like getting drunk,
say. Oh, you still get to stay and be cannon fodder, but you are
disqualified for future citizenship, or even benefits. There are now
plans to search Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America for volunteers
for the U.S. military, offering the chance of citizenship as a lure. This
will be a mercenary army being paid with the “promise” of citizenship
and the “American way of life.”

This is nothing but gang mentality: “We will provide for you if you fight
for us. And if you don’t, we’ll relegate you to poverty and the constant
threat of deportation, imprisonment or worse.” Ironically, the capitalist
class cannot survive without the masses, but the masses can save all
of humanity by disarming the capitalists—both financially and militarily.

This is a job for organized labor!

The recent Swift raids and the courageous stand of the fellow workers
of those who were arrested is an inspiration. Autoworkers are also
beginning to organize into a fighting force. Joining all our forces
together can become the axis of a new revolutionary movement
to defend the rights of all workers—organized and unorganized,
documented and undocumented.

The Democratic Party, which intends to dazzle American workers with
a meager increase in the minimum wage—an increase that still leaves
the working poor living on starvation wages—will not be able to
significantly change the circumstance of the poor. The capitalist can’t
afford to raise the standard of living of the poor without dipping into
the untouchable zone of soaring private profits. They will and must
continue to squeeze more, send more troops, hire more police, and
militarily assault more of the world to maintain their domination and
control over wealth, power, and natural resources, no matter whose
borders they have to cross to get them. From oil to gold to diamond
mines—the capitalists want to get their hands on it all. And right now,
U.S. capitalists are the most powerful.

The American labor movement is in a position to organize the unorganized.
By taking up the rallying cry of Blacks, Latinos, and white workers
for a decent living wage, healthcare, and educational opportunities—
especially for the young—by taking up the rallying cry of the most
disadvantaged workers of every ethnic background, the American
labor movement can expand its own ranks, broaden its base of support,
and successfully challenge capitalism’s interminable greed.

But no matter how many victories workers win, as long as capitalism
is in control, every one of these victories will be continually challenged.
To defeat these challenges, workers need to stand united against
capitalists and capitalism. Together, the workers of the world are
an undefeatable force. We make everything work and we can make
it stop working. This is the power of organized labor acting in its
own defense.

As leaders of the working class, organized labor has the job of giving
workers the tools necessary to harness the great power of the growing
turmoil. Labor must show how to direct its energy against capitalism
by organizing working-class solidarity in defense of all workers—
documented or undocumented, Black or Latino or whatever race,
religion or ethnic background they are from. The captains of labor—
those who are already organized into a fighting force—must begin
to organize the unorganized working class to join their ranks throughout
the world and across all borders, as the capitalists do. This is the depth
and breadth of solidarity needed to turn back these attacks and disarm
and defeat the ruthless and bloodthirsty capitalist attacker.

The single-minded principles of international working-class solidarity
for a world socialist revolution, the legacy of Lenin and Trotsky based
upon the fundamental analysis of Marx and Engels, still form the bedrock
of the struggle for human emancipation to come. This is because the
basic contradictory forces between workers and their bosses is still the
reality of capitalism on an international scale. But it’s the workers
themselves—also positioned internationally—that have the jackhammers
and the know-how to break up the foundations of capitalism and render
their military might defenseless.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. Our success will depend
on how seriously the organized labor movement adheres to the principle
that an injury to one is an injury to all and carries it out in concrete and
unified defensive action.

Special role of international, revolutionary socialists

Revolutionary socialists have the further responsibility to make the class
line clear! At every opportunity we must show that, indeed, this is a class
struggle between two fundamentally contradictory forces—labor and capital
—and that either labor is victorious or life on our planet will end at the hands
of the capitalist class and their mighty weapons of earthly destruction.

We must take up the struggle of inner-city youth; we must defend
undocumented workers; we must demand an immediate end to the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the War on Terror! We must demand
that all the troops be brought home now and that all U.S. funding and
support to Israel be stopped immediately. We must demand that massive
financial reparations be made to the people this government falsely made
war upon—making sure the money comes from the profits of the giant
corporations that have already profited from this bloody war for oil.

We must further demand that the multi-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget—
voted for by a 100 to 0 vote by the U.S. Senate last year—should be reallocated
to fulfill the needs of the people! We should demand that we tax the rich
not the poor, and promote a progressive income tax beginning with incomes
over $100,000, say. Enforce a sharply increasing rate of tax for incomes
higher than $100,000 per year, i.e., a progressive income tax where the
rich pay more and at higher, graduated rates and the poor don’t pay at all.

We must demand that the giant war budget be redirected to social and human
services such as improved housing and healthcare for all workers, the sick,
the very young, and the elderly. (It is a testament to capitalist injustice that
we even have to spell this out!) We must defend the inalienable right of all
human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That includes
the right to move to a location that will offer such when no such opportunity
exists where one lives. (Should we blame the masses who left the drought-
ridden dust bowl during the Great Depression to find work in California
to quench their thirst and feed their bellies, for leaving certain death
for a chance for survival?)

A powerful organized labor movement capable of organizing the unorganized
will be able to show concretely that universal labor solidarity in defense
of these basic human rights, whenever they are threatened, can ensure
them for everyone!

This will require that unconstitutional labor laws be revoked; that workers
from one industry, indeed, should go out on strike in support of workers
from other industries; that documented and native-born citizens should
support undocumented immigrant workers and their right to enjoy the same
pay, benefits, and conditions that they have. This kind of labor solidarity
increases workers’ power. In fact, workers in each industry should organize
themselves to fight for the same demands in each country across the globe
—after all; they very often work for the same corporations! The right
to strike should be exercised across all borders. That is workers’ solidarity!

These are just a few examples of the power and effectiveness of labor
solidarity and how it could solve so many of the economic problems
faced by the vast majority of humanity at the hands of the elite and
wealthy one percent. As dedicated Marxists, Leninists, and Trotskyists,
that’s our job. That’s what we’re supposed to aim the world’s working
class toward.

We already have a vast and powerful arsenal of Marxist thinking and
practice. We have the advantage of watching history in action from
a Marxist point of view and over a dynamic period of change—from
a period of an increase in the living conditions of workers to a marked,
overall decrease—in both living standards and in numbers of organized
workers in the past 50 or so years. We have seen the fall of the Soviet
Union, on the one hand, and the perseverance of the Cuban revolution
and the spread of its influence across Latin America and the world,
on the other. And we are witnessing a speed-of-light increase in the
gap between the wealthy and poor of the globe. Profits cross all borders
freely while workers are criminalized for seeking work where they can.

We are standing on the threshold of a new day. The economic impact
of lower wages and higher costs will force the issue. Workers will be
compelled to fight back and the capitalists themselves will be helpless
to stop it.

In the words of my mother, the great revolutionary fighter “I am an optimist.
I have witnessed the magnificent power of the workers in struggle for their
unions, women who have defended our clinics against the pro-life fanatics,
Blacks who have fought and won against the most racist system of Jim
Crow, and oppressed people who have the power to fight and the will
to win. If we are united and know who the real enemy is, we cannot lose.”

We who consider ourselves revolutionary Marxists, are obligated to
illuminate the glowing pathway of revolutionary worker’s solidarity
for a world socialist revolution, which will ultimately lead to human
salvation and universal emancipation.


4) Chavez lays out collective property plan
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 25, 10:50 PM ET

President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his administration plans to
create "collective property" as part of sweeping reforms toward
socialism, and that officials would move to seize control of large
ranches and redistribute lands deemed "idle."

The Venezuelan leader, speaking on his television and radio program
"Hello President," said the government was "advancing quickly" with a
concept of "social, or collective, property" to be included in
forthcoming constitutional reforms.

"It's property that belongs to everyone and it's going to benefit
everyone," said Chavez, who vowed to undermine capitalism's continued
influence in Venezuela.

Chavez did not elaborate, but stressed that collective property must
benefit workers equally.

"It cannot be production to generate profits for one person or a
small group of people that become rich exploiting peons who end up
becoming slaves, living in poverty and misery their entire lives," he

Government advisers preparing a blueprint for pending constitutional
reforms have floated proposals that would roughly define collective
property as state-owned assets such as farms that are managed by
workers who share profits.

Venezuela's government already helps organize and finance thousands
of cooperatives, but the state does not have full ownership of the
real estate or infrastructure used by most co-ops.

Chavez, who hosted Sunday's program from a ranch in Venezuela's sun-
baked plains, said his government planned to seize control of large
ranches and farms spanning more than 740,000 acres and redistribute
"idle" lands to the poor under a nationwide agrarian reform.

Re-elected to a fresh 6-year term in December, Chavez has accelerated
his push toward socialism by nationalizing Venezuela's largest
telecommunications company and the electricity sector, and imposing
greater state control over the oil and natural gas industries.

The leftist leader also plans to slap new luxury taxes on the wealthy
and do away with presidential term limits that would otherwise bar
him from running again in 2012.

Since reform began five years ago, officials have redistributed more
than 4.6 million acres of land that had been classified as
unproductive or lacked property documents dating back to 1847,
according to a recent government census.

Critics say reform has failed to revive Venezuela's agriculture
industry, which does not produce enough food to satisfy domestic
demand. The government has been forced to import food amid shortages
of staples such as meats, milk and sugar.

"If Mr. Chavez really wants to help Venezuela's poor farmers, he must
offer them technical assistance and sufficient financing because land
doesn't become productive without investment," said opposition leader
Alfonzo Marquina. "We're only seeing increasing shortages and more
expensive products."

Opponents accuse Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro,
of steering oil-rich Venezuela toward Cuba-style communism, becoming
increasingly authoritarian and dangerously dividing the country along
class lines.

Supporters say Venezuela's democracy is as healthy as ever under left-
leaning Chavez and applaud president's initiatives to improve living
conditions for the poor.


5) Army deployed seriously injured troops
"Soldiers on crutches and canes were sent to a main desert camp
used for Iraq training. Military experts say the Army was pumping
up manpower statistics to show a brigade was battle ready."
By Mark Benjamin
Mar. 26, 2007

Mar. 26, 2007 | Last November, Army Spc. Edgar Hernandez,
a communications specialist with a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry
Division, had surgery on an ankle he had injured during physical
training. After the surgery, doctors put his leg in a cast, and he
was supposed to start physical therapy when that cast came
off six weeks later.

But two days after his cast was removed, Army commanders
decided it was more important to send him to a training site
in a remote desert rather than let him stay at Fort Benning, Ga.,
to rehabilitate. In January, Hernandez was shipped to the
National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., where his unit,
the 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division,
was conducting a month of training in anticipation of leaving
for Iraq in March.

Hernandez says he was in no shape to train for war so soon
after his injury. "I could not walk," he told Salon in an interview.
He said he was amazed when he learned he was being sent to
California. "Did they not realize that I'm hurt and I needed this
physical therapy?" he remembered thinking. "I was told by my
doctor and my physical therapist that this was crazy."

Hernandez had served two tours in Iraq, where he helped maintain
communications gear in the unit's armored Bradley Fighting
Vehicles. But he could not participate in war maneuvers conducted
on a 1,000-square-mile mock battlefield located in the harsh
Mojave Desert. Instead, when he got to California, he was led
to a large tent where he would be housed. He was shocked by
what he saw inside: There were dozens of other hurt soldiers.
Some were on crutches, and others had arms in slings. Some
had debilitating back injuries. And nearby was another tent,
housing female soldiers with health issues ranging from injuries
to pregnancy.

Hernandez is one of a dozen soldiers who stayed for weeks in
those tents who were interviewed for this report, some of whose
medical records were also reviewed by Salon. All of the soldiers
said they had no business being sent to Fort Irwin given their
physical condition. In some cases, soldiers were sent there even
though their injuries were so severe that doctors had previously
recommended they should be considered for medical retirement
from the Army.

Military experts say they suspect that the deployment to Fort Irwin
of injured soldiers was an effort to pump up manpower statistics
used to show the readiness of Army units. With the military
increasingly strained after four years of war, Army readiness
has become a critical part of the debate over Iraq. Some
congressional Democrats have considered plans to limit the
White House's ability to deploy more troops unless the Pentagon
can certify that units headed into the fray are fully equipped
and fully manned.

Salon recently uncovered another troubling development in the
Army's efforts to shore up troop levels, reporting earlier this
month that soldiers from the 3rd Brigade had serious health
problems that the soldiers claimed were summarily downgraded
by military doctors at Fort Benning in February, apparently so that
the Army could send them to Iraq. Some of those soldiers were
among the group sent to Fort Irwin to train in January.

After arriving at Fort Irwin, many of the injured soldiers did not train.
"They had all of us living in a big tent," confirmed Spc. Lincoln Smith,
who spent the month there along with Hernandez and others. Smith
is an Army truck driver, but because of his health issues, which
include sleep apnea (a breathing ailment) and narcolepsy, Smith
is currently barred from driving military vehicles. "I couldn't go out
and do the training," Smith said about his time in California.
His records list his problems as "permanent" and recommend that
he be considered for retirement from the Army because of his health.

Another soldier with nearly 20 years in the Army was sent to Fort Irwin,
ostensibly to prepare for deployment to Iraq, even though she suffers
from back problems and has psychiatric issues. Doctors wrote
"unable to deploy overseas" on her medical records.

It is unclear exactly how many soldiers with health issues were sent
to the California desert. None of the soldiers interviewed by Salon
had done a head count, but all agreed that "dozens" would be
a conservative estimate. An Army spokesman and public affairs
officials for the 3rd Infantry Division did not return repeated
calls and e-mails seeking further detail and an explanation
of why injured troops were sent to Fort Irwin and housed
in tents there during January.

The soldiers who were at Fort Irwin described a pitiful scene.
"You had people out there with crutches and canes," said an Army
captain who was being considered for medical retirement himself
because of serious back injuries sustained in a Humvee accident
during a previous combat tour in Iraq. "Soldiers that apparently
had no business being there were there," another soldier wrote
to Salon in an e-mail. "Pregnant females were sent to the National
Training Center rotation" with the knowledge of Army leaders,
she said.

One infantry sergeant with nearly 20 years in the Army who had
already fought in Iraq broke his foot badly in a noncombat incident
just before being sent to Fort Irwin. "I didn't even get to put the
cast on," before going, he said with exasperation. He said doctors
put something like an "open-toed soft shoe" on his foot and put
him on a plane to California. "I've got the cast on now. I never even
got a chance to see the [medical] specialist," he claimed. The infantry
sergeant said life in the desert was tough in his condition. "I was on
Percocet. I couldn't even concentrate. I hopped on a plane and hobbled
around NTC on crutches," he said. He added, "I saw people who were
worse off than I am. I saw people with hurt backs and so on.
I started to think, 'Hey, I'm not so bad.'"

Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins was one of those soldiers at NTC with
a hurt back, even though late last year, doctors recommended he
be considered for medical retirement. Jenkins, 42, has a degenerative
spine problem and a long scar down the back of his neck where
doctors fused three of his vertebrae during surgery. He takes
morphine for the pain in his neck and back.

"I slept on a damn metal cot for 26 days with serious back problems,"
Jenkins told Salon. "It was an unpleasant experience," he said, adding
that his condition worsened while he was there. Hernandez, the
communications specialist, said he reinjured his ankle at Fort Irwin,
leaving him hobbling around in the sand and gravel for a month.
When he returned to Fort Benning, Hernandez had to be put into
another cast. (He is still in that cast now and hopes to start physical
therapy when it comes off on March 26.)

"We could not train," Jenkins said. "Why were we even there?"

Military experts point to the brigade's readiness statistics, including
"unit status reports" that carefully track personnel numbers and are
sent up through the Army's chain of command. "There are a number
of factors used to establish whether a unit is mission-capable,"
explained John Pike, director of, an independent
organization that studies military and security issues. "One of them
is the extent to which it is fully manned," he said. Pike says he
suspects the injured soldiers were camped out at Fort Irwin so that
on paper, at least, "the unit would have a sufficient head count
to be mission-capable."

Lawrence Korb, who was an assistant secretary of defense for manpower
during the Reagan administration and is now with the liberal Center
for American Progress, says that the 3rd Brigade can show statistically
that more troops trained in California simply because they were there.
"Basically, they could say 90 percent went through Fort Irwin," Korb
said about the brigade.

But injured soldiers from the brigade were not just shuttled
to California; some were sent on to Iraq. Earlier this month Salon
reported that on Feb. 15, shortly after returning from Fort Irwin
to Fort Benning, 75 injured soldiers from the 3rd Brigade lined
up for screenings at the troop medical clinic. Some of the soldiers
there that day described cursory meetings with a division surgeon
-- meetings designed to downgrade their health problems, the
soldiers said, so that they could be deployed to the war zone.
Records for some of those soldiers show doctors had previously
concluded that those soldiers could not wear body armor because
of serious skeletal and other injuries.

A military official knowledgeable about the training in California
in January and the medical processing of the injured soldiers
at Fort Benning in February told Salon that commanders were
taking desperate actions to meet an accelerated deployment
schedule dictated by President Bush's so-called surge plan for
securing Baghdad. "None of this would have happened if we
had just slowed down a little bit," the military official said.
"A lot of people were under a lot of pressure at that time."

In an interview for the Salon report earlier this month, Col. Wayne
W. Grigsby Jr., the commander of the 3rd Brigade, did not dispute
that injured troops were being deployed, but insisted they would
be put in safe noncombat jobs once they were in Iraq.

Some of those soldiers have since been deployed, while others
fought orders to go to Iraq. Jenkins, with the bad back, even
appealed his case to the Army surgeon general. Three days
after he was quoted in the Salon report, Jenkins received official
word through his chain of command that he would not be going
to Iraq. Smith, the soldier with sleep apnea and narcolepsy,
who was also quoted in the Salon report, also had his deployment
orders dropped by the Army in mid-March.

Jenkins said the disregard for soldiers' health motivated him
to speak out, despite his fears that as an active-duty soldier
he could suffer reprisal from superiors. "I am a guy who has
been in the Army for 21 years," he said. "For me to speak
about this -- and risk everything -- then there has got to be
a problem. There has got to be an issue here."

Pete Geren, the acting Army secretary, told a Senate panel
on March 14 that the Army would investigate the injured soldiers'
claims that their medical records were modified at Fort Benning
in February in order for them to be sent to Iraq. House Armed
Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., has asked the
Government Accountability Office to investigate. The Army
inspector general has also launched a probe. It remains unclear
if any of those probes will also look into injured soldiers' being
sent to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in January.

Experts say there is little doubt that military readiness has
diminished with the strain of the Iraq war. But the Army says
the problem is limited to units recuperating in the United States,
and that by shifting around troops and equipment, brigades
going to Iraq are in tip-top shape. "Today's deployed soldiers
are the best-trained, best-equipped and best-led we have ever
sent into combat," Army vice chief of staff Gen. Richard Cody
told a House Armed Services Committee panel March 13.
"However, we've done this -- after five years of combat --
we've done this at the expense of our non-deployed forces,"
he admitted. "We do have shortages with the non-deployed
forces." The New York Times reported on March 20 that of the
20 Army brigades not currently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan,
only one has enough equipment or soldiers to be sent quickly
into combat.

Indeed, there are indications that the problems go beyond Fort
Benning. When Skelton, the chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, wrote to the GAO asking for an investigation into
the deployment of injured troops to Iraq, he added in that letter
that "the committee has received a number of phone calls and
letters from concerned service members and their families,
including similar allegations that injured and wounded service
members are being deployed into combat despite their injuries."

"My back was broken while I was in the military, I now have
a ruptured/bulging discs in my lumbar spine," one distressed
soldier wrote to Salon in an e-mail earlier this month. She said
she had been in the process of a medical review that would
end her service in the Army. But upon her return from the National
Training Center in California, she claimed, doctors at Fort Benning
"changed my profile and made me deployable." She pleaded
for help in bringing attention to her case, after frantically seeking
help through military and congressional channels.

"If anyone has the ability to help ... PLEASE do so," she wrote.
"I am heading to Kuwait tomorrow where I will then
go to Baghdad with my unit."


6) War protest crowd count too low
Richard Becker
Monday, March 26, 2007

WHILE TENS of thousands of spirited anti-war marchers were still
entering the San Francisco Civic Center on Sunday, March 18, ANSWER
(Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition organizers got word that
a Chronicle reporter covering the event had already determined that
only 3,000 people were present. The San Francisco march was part
of a worldwide day of protest against on the fourth anniversary of the
U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Mainstream media undercounting of progressive demonstrations
is nothing new, but this one had a magician's touch. With just
a few keystrokes, a reporter made 90 percent of Sunday's crowd
disappear, hundreds of whom have since expressed their outrage.
Typical was the comment by one angry participant: "The Chron's
numbers were only off by about 1,000 percent."

We don't know why The Chronicle published such a shocking
undercount, but we do know that the first line of the Monday
Chronicle's report stated that just 3,000 people marched in San
Francisco on Sunday -- fewer, oddly enough, than took to the
streets in many U.S. cities. It wasn't just people in the Bay Area
who were misinformed by The Chronicle's article; the Associated
Press spread The Chronicle's ludicrous number across the country.

A Chronicle reporter claims to have counted 3,000 people in the
march. He agrees that it took 50 minutes for the entire march
to pass a fixed point as it made its way along Market and McAllister
streets. This does not make sense.

If people are walking at a moderate pace in pairs, 60 people will
pass a fixed point in roughly one minute. That would translate
into 3,000 people in 50 minutes. But the march wasn't made
up of people marching in pairs.

Many photos and video footage show the marchers were 20 to
30 across, filling wide streets. If The Chronicle maintains that
just 3,000 people joined the march, and the march took 50 minutes
to pass a stationary point, then only two or three rows of marchers
would have passed a fixed point in a minute, making the average
pace of the march about one step every 20 to 30 seconds.
That is impossible.

As TV news reports showed, it was a very dense, fast-moving
crowd. ANSWER organizers counted an average of 600 to 650
people passing per minute on McAllister St. between Hyde and
Leavenworth, from 1:42 p.m. to 2:32 p.m. Many people also
attended the opening or closing rallies without participating
in the march. At the peak of the rally, the Civic Center was about
two-thirds full. According to a 2003 Chronicle article, police
estimate that the Civic Center holds 42,000 people. As in every
similar demonstration, thousands of people who marched didn't
join the closing rally.

A Chronicle photo in the March 19 edition belied its own crowd
estimate. It shows just part of the packed center section of the
Civic Center early in the rally. When the photo was taken, the
march was still entering the plaza.

There are other factual inaccuracies in the article. Most notable
is the assertion of a stage speaker "telling the crowd it was
3,000 strong." As program manager, I can state definitively
that that is not true.

This is what actually happened: When informed of The Chronicle's
gross undercount, I took the microphone to say that there were
tens of thousands participating, and that The Chronicle estimate
was both ridiculous and demeaning. Those gathered expressed
thunderous agreement. This was the only mention of "3,000
people" from the stage. The reporter, in a serious journalistic
error, turned its meaning upside down.

Once again, The Chronicle failed to quote organizers on our
crowd estimate -- or anything else. In fact, no mention was
made of the sponsoring organization, the ANSWER Coalition.
Perhaps some reporters believe that stages and sound systems
spring out of the ground for anti-war rallies, and that thousands
of hours of volunteer labor doing logistical work and political
organizing are irrelevant to a growing movement.

Unlike corporate events, where official spokespersons are
invariably quoted, reporters covering progressive events
frequently ignore representatives of sponsoring organizations.
This practice continues despite a pledge made by Chronicle
editors to do otherwise after last May's huge immigrant rights
march sparked a similar controversy. When tens of thousands
of people come together to engage in collective free-speech
actions, they have the right to expect that their message and
very presence will be reported on in a fair and objective manner.

Richard Becker is the Western Regional Coordinator of the
ANSWER -- Act Now to Stop War & End Racism Coalition.
For more information and photos of the march,


7) India Is Colonising Itself
By Arundhati Roy & Shoma Chaudhuri
26 March, 2007

There is an atmosphere of growing violence across the
country. How do you read the signs? Do you think it
will grow more in the days to come? What are its
causes? In what context should all this be read?

You don‚t have to be a genius to read the signs. We
have a growing middle class, being reared on a diet of
radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike
industrializing western countries which had colonies
from which to plunder resources and generate slave
labour to feed this process, we have to colonize
ourselves, our own nether parts. We‚ve begun to eat
our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and
marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism)
can only be sated by grabbing land, water and
resources from the vulnerable. What we‚re witnessing
is the most successful secessionist struggle ever
waged in Independent India. The secession of the
middle and upper classes from the rest of the country.
It‚s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They‚re
fighting for the right to merge with the world‚s elite
somewhere up there in the stratosphere. They‚ve
managed to commandeer the resources , the coal, the
minerals, the bauxite, the water and electricity. Now
they want the land to make more cars, more bombs, more
mines ˆ super toys for the new super citizens of the
new superpower. So it‚s outright war, and people on
both sides are choosing their weapons. The government
and the corporations reach for Structural Adjustment,
the World Bank, the ADB, FDI, friendly court orders,
friendly policy makers, help from the Œfriendly‚
corporate media and a police force that will ram all
this down peoples‚ throats. Those who want to resist
this process have, until now, reached for dharnas,
hunger-strikes, satyagraha, the courts, and what they
thought was friendly media. But now, more and more are
reaching for guns. Will the violence grow? If the
Œgrowth rate‚ and the sensex are going to be the only
barometres the government uses to measure progress and
the well-being of people, then of course it will. How
do I read the signs? It isn‚t hard to read
sky-writing. What it says up there, in big letters is
this: The shit has hit the fan, folks.

You once remarked that though you may not resort to
violence yourself, you think it has become immoral to
condemn it, given the circumstances in the country.
Can you elaborate on this view?

I‚d be a liability as a guerilla! I doubt I used the
word Œimmoral‚-morality is an elusive business, as
changeable as the weather. What I feel is this:
Non-violent movements have, for decades knocked on the
door of every democratic institution in this country
and have been spurned and humiliated. Look at the
Bhopal Gas victims, the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The
NBA for example, had a lot going for it, high profile
leadership, media coverage, more resources than any
other mass movement. What went wrong? People are bound
to want to re-think strategy. When Sonia Gandhi begins
to promote Satyagraha at the World Economic Forum in
Davos it‚s time for us to sit up and think. For
example, is mass civil disobedience possible within
the structure of a democratic nation-state? Is it
possible in the age of disinformation and
corporate-controlled mass media? Are hunger-strikes
umblically linked to celebrity politics? Would anybody
care if the people of Nangla Machhi or Bhatti mines
went on a hunger-strike? Sharmila Irom has been on a
hunger strike for six years. That should be a salutary
lesson to many of us. I‚ve always felt that it‚s
ironic that hunger-strikes are used as a political
weapon in a land where most people go hungry anyway.
We are in a different time and place now. Up against a
different, more complex adversary. We‚ve entered the
era of NGOs ˆ or should I say the era of palthu shers
- in which mass action can be a treacherous business.
We have demonstrations which are funded, we have
sponsored dharnas and social forums which posture
militantly but never follow up on what they preach. We
have all kinds of Œvirtual‚ resistance. Meetings
against SEZs sponsored by the biggest promoters of
SEZs. Awards and grants for environmental activism and
community action given by corporations responsible for
devastating whole ecosystems. Vedanta, a company
mining bauxite in the forests of Orissa wants to start
a university. The Tatas have two charitable trusts
that directly and indirectly, fund activists and mass
movements across the country. Could that be why Singur
has drawn so much less flak than Nandigram, and why
they have not targeted, boycotted, gheraoed? Of course
the Tatas and Birlas funded Gandhi too ˆ maybe he was
our first NGO. But now we have NGOs who make a lot of
noise, write a lot of reports,but who the sarkar is
more than comfortable with. How do we make sense of
all this? The place is crawling with professional
diffusers of real political action. ŒVirtual
resistance‚ has become something of a liability.

There was a time when mass movements looked to the
courts for justice. The courts have rained down a
series of judgments that are so unjust, so insulting
to the poor in the language they use, they take your
breath away. A recent Supreme Court judgment allowing
the Vasant Kunj Mall to resume construction though it
didn‚t have the requisite clearances said in so many
words, that the question of Corporations indulging in
malpractice does not arise! In the era of corporate
globalization, corporate land-grab, in the era of
Enron and Monsanto, Halliburton and Bechtel, that‚s a
loaded thing to say. It exposes the ideological heart
of the most powerful institution in this country. The
judiciary along with the corporate press, is now seen
as the lynchpin of the neo-liberal project.

In a climate like this when people feel that they are
being worn down, exhausted by these interminable
Œdemocratic‚ processes, only to be humiliated
eventually, what are they supposed to do? Of course it
isn‚t as though the only options are binary ˆ violence
versus non-violence. There are political parties that
believe in armed struggle, but only as one part of
their overall political strategy. Political workers in
these struggles have been dealt with brutally, killed,
beaten, imprisoned under false charges. People are
fully aware that to take to arms is to call down upon
yourself the myriad forms of violence of the Indian
State. The minute armed struggle becomes a strategy,
your whole world shrinks and the colors fade to black
and white. But when people decide to take that step
because every other option has ended in despairˆshould
we condemn them? Does anyone believe that if the
people of Nandigram had held a Dharna and sung songs
the West Bengal Government would have backed down? We
are living in times, when to be ineffective is to
support the status quo (which no doubt suits some of
us). And being effective comes at a terrible price. I
find it hard to condemn people who are prepared to pay
that price.

You have been traveling a lot on the ground -- can you
give us a sense of the fissures you are seeing on the
ground. What are the trouble spots you have been to?
Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these

Huge question ˆ what can I say? The military
occupation of Kashmir, neo-facism in Gujarat, civil
war in Chhattisgarh, MNCs raping Orissa, the
submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada
Valley, people living on the edge of absolute
starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal
victims living to see the West Bengal government
re-wooing Union Carbide ˆ now calling itself Dow
Chemicals - in Nandigram. I haven‚t been recently to
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharshtra, but we know
about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have
killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters
and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of
these places is has its own particular history,
economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis.
And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge
international cultural and economic pressures being
brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the
Hindutva project, spreading its poison
sub-cutaneously, waiting to errupt once again. I‚d say
the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a
country, a culture a society which continues to
nurture and practice the notion of untouchability.
While our economists number-crunch and boast about the
growth rate, a million people, human scavengers - earn
their living carrying several kilos of other peoples‚
shit on their heads every day. And if they didn‚t
carry shit on their heads they would starve to death.
Some fucking superpower this.

How does one view the recent State and police violence
in Bengal?

No different from police and State violence anywhere
else ˆ including the issue of hypocrisy and
doublespeak so perfected by all political parties
including the mainstream Left. Are communist bullets
different from capitalist ones? Odd things are
happening. It snowed in Saudi Arabia. Owls are out in
broad daylight The Chinese Government tabled a bill
sanctioning the right to private property. I don‚t
know if all of this has to do with climate change. The
Chinese Communists are turning out to be the biggest
capitalists of the 21st century. Why should we expect
our own Parliamentary Left to be any different?
Nandigram and Singur are clear signals. It makes you
wonder ˆ is the last stop of every revolution advanced
capitalism? Think about it - the French Revolution,
the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the
Vietnam War, the Anti- Apartheid struggle, the
supposedly Gandhian Freedom struggle in India∑what‚s
the last station they all pull in at? Is this the end
of imagination?

The Maoist attack in Bijapur -- the death of 55
policemen. Are the rebels only a flip face of the

How can the rebels be the flip side of the state?
Would anybody say that those who fought against
Apartheid ˆ however brutal their methods - were the
flip side of the state? What about those who fought
the French in Algeria? Or those who fought the Nazis?
Or those who fought Colonial Regimes? Or those who are
fighting the US occupation of Iraq? Are they the flip
side of the State? This facile new report-driven
Œhuman rights‚ discourse, this meaningless
condemnation game that we all are forced to play,
makes politicians of us all and leaches the real
politics out of everything. However pristine we would
like to be, however hard we polish our halos, the
tragedy is that we have run out of pristine choices.
There is a civil war in Chattisgarh sponsored, created
by the Chattisgarh Government which is publicly
pursing the Bush doctrine ˆ if you‚re not with us, you
are with the terrorists. The lynch pin of this war,
apart from the formal security forces, is the Salwa
Judum ˆ a government backed militia of ordinary people
forced to take up arms, forced to become SPOs (Special
Police Officers). The Indian State has tried this in
Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands
have been killed, hundreds of thousands tortured,
thousands have disappeared. Any Banana Republic would
be proud of this record.. Now the government wants to
import these failed strategies into the heartland.
Thousands of Adivasis have been forcibly moved off
their mineral ˆrich lands into police camps. Hundreds
of villages have been forcibly evacuated. Those lands,
rich in iron-ore are being eyed by corporations like
the Tatas and Essar. MOUs have been signed, but no one
knows what they say. Land Acquisition has begun. This
kind of thing happened in countries like Colombia ˆ
one of the most devastated countries in the world.
While everybody‚s eyes are fixed on the spiraling
violence between government backed militias and
guerilla squads, multinational corporations quietly
make off with the mineral wealth. That‚s the little
piece of theatre being scripted for us in Chattisgarh.

Of course it‚s horrible that 55 policemen were killed.
But they‚re as much the victims of Government policy
as anybody else. For the Government and the
Corporations they‚re just cannon fodder ˆ there‚s
plenty more where they came from. Crocodile tears will
be shed, prim TV anchors will hector us for a while
and then more supplies of fodder will be arranged. For
the Maoist guerillas the police and SPOs they killed
were the armed personnel of the Indian State, the
main, perpetrators of repression, torture, custodial
killings, false encounters. The ones whose
professional duties involve burning villages and
raping women. They‚re not innocent civilians ˆ if such
a thing exists - by any stretch of imagination.

I have no doubt that the Maoists can be agents of
terror and coercion too. I have no doubt they have
committed unspeakable atrocities. I have no doubt they
cannot lay claim to undisputed support from local
people ˆ but who can? Still, no guerrilla army can
survive without local support. That‚s a logistical
impossibility. And the support for Maoists is growing,
not diminishing. That says something. People have no
choice but to align themselves on the side of whoever
they think is less worse.

But to equate a resistance movement fighting against
enormous injustice, with the Government which enforces
that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed
the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent
resistance. When people take to arms, there is going
to be all kinds of violence ˆ revolutionary, lumpen
and outright criminal. The government is responsible
for the monstrous situations it creates.

The term Naxals and Maoists and outsiders is being
used very loosely these days. Can you declutter it.

ŒOutsiders‚ is a generic accusation used in the early
stages of repression by governments who have begun to
believe their own publicity and can‚t imagine that
people have risen up against them. That‚s the stage
the CPI (M) is at now in Bengal, though some would say
repression in Bengal is not new, it has only moved
into higher gear.. In any case what‚s an outsider? Who
decides the borders? Are they village boundaries?
Tehsil? Block? District? State? Is narrow regional and
ethnic politics the new communist mantra? About Naxals
and Maoists ˆ well∑ India is about to become a police
state in which everybody who disagrees with what‚s
going on risks being called a terrorist. Islamic
terrorists have to be Islamic ˆ so that‚s not good
enough to cover most of us. They need a bigger
catchment area. So leaving the definition loose,
undefined, is effective strategy, because the time is
not far off when we‚ll all be called Maoists or
Naxalites, terrorists or terrorist sympathisers and
shut down, by people who don‚t really know ˆ or care
-who Maoists or Naxalites are. In villages of course
that has begun ˆ thousands of people are being held in
jails across the country, loosely charged with being
terrorists trying to overthrow the state. Who are the
real Naxalites and Maoists? I‚m not an authority on
the subject, but here‚s a very rudimentary potted

The Communist Party of India the CPI was formed in
1925. The CPI (M) Communist Party Marxist- split from
the CPI in 1964 and formed a separate party. Both of
course were parliamentary political parties. In 1967
the CPI (M) along with a splinter group of the
Congress, came to power in West Bengal. At the time
there was massive unrest among starving peasantry in
the countryside. Local leaders of the CPI(M) ˆ Kanu
Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar led a peasant uprising in
the district of Naxalbari which is where the term
Naxalites comes from. In 1969 the government fell and
the Congress came back to power under Siddharta
Shankar Ray. The naxalite uprising was mercilessly
crushed - Mahashweta Devi has written powerfully about
this time. In 1969 the CPI (ML) ˆ Marxist Leninist
split from the CPI (M). A few years later around 1971,
the CPI (ML) devolved into several parties: the CPI
-ML (Liberation) largely centred in Bihar, CPI ˆML
(New Democracy) functioning for the most part out of
Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, the CPI-ML (Class Struggle)
mainly in Bengal. These parties have been generically
baptized ŒNaxalites.‚ They see themselves as Marxist
Leninist, not strictly speaking Maoist. They believe
in elections, mass action and, when, absolutely pushed
to the wall or attacked- armed struggle. The MCC ˆ the
Maoist Communist Centre at the time mostly operating
in Bihar was formed in 1968. The PW Peoples War,
operational for the most part in Andhra Pradesh was
formed in 1980. Recently, in 2004 the MCC and the PW
merged to form the CPI (Maoist) They believe in
outright armed struggle and the overthrowing of the
state. They don‚t participate in elections. This is
the party that is fighting the guerilla war in Bihar,
Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.

The Indian state and media largely view the Maoists as
"internal security" threat. Is this the way to look at

I‚m sure the Maoists would be flattered to be viewed
in this way.

The Maoists want to bring down the State. Given the
autocratic ideology they take their inspiration from,
what alternative would they set up? Wouldn't their
regime be an exploitative autocratic violent one as
well? Isn't their action already exploitative of
ordinary people? Do they really have the support of
ordinary people?

I think it‚s important for us to acknowledge that both
Mao and Stalin are dubious heroes with murderous
pasts. Tens of millions of people were killed under
their regimes. Apart from what happened in China and
the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, with the support of the
Chinese communist party (while the West looked away
discreetly) wiped out two million people in Cambodia
and brought millions of people to the brink of
extinction from disease and starvation. Can we pretend
that China‚s cultural revolution didn‚t happen? Or
that that millions of people in the Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe were not victims of labour camps,
torture chambers, the network of spies and informers,
the secret police. The history of these regimes is
just as dark as the history of Western Imperialism,
except for the fact that they had a shorter life-span.
We cannot condemn the occupation of Iraq, Palestine
and Kashmir while we remain silent about Tibet and
Chechnya. I would imagine that for the Maoists, the
Naxalites as well as the mainstream Left, being honest
about the past is important to strengthen peoples‚
faith in the future. One hopes the past will not be
repeated, but denying that it ever happened doesn‚t
help inspire confidence∑.Nevertheless, in this part of
the world, the Maoists in Nepal have waged a brave and
successful struggle against the monarchy in Nepal.
Right now in India the Maoists and the various Marxist
Leninist Groups are leading the fight against immense
injustice in India. They are fighting not just the
State, but feudal landlords and their armed militias.
They are the only people who are making a dent. And I
admire that. It may well be that when they come to
power they will as you say, be brutal, unjust and
autocratic, even worse than the present government.
Maybe, but I‚m not prepared to assume that in advance.
If they are, we‚ll have to fight them too. And most
likely someone like myself will be the first person
they‚ll string up from the nearest tree ˆ but right
now, it is important to acknowledge that they are
bearing the brunt of being at the forefront of
resistance. Many of us are in a position where we have
are beginning to align ourselves on the side of those
who we know have no place for us in their religious or
ideological imagination. It‚s true that everybody
changes radically when they come to power ˆ look at
Mandela‚s ANC. Corrupt, capitalist, bowing to the IMF,
driving the poor out of their homes ˆ honouring
Suharto the killer of hundreds of thousands of
Indonesian communists with South Africa‚s highest
civilian award. Who would have thought it could
happen? But does this mean South Africans should have
backed away from the struggle against apartheid? Or
that they should regret it now? Does it mean Algeria
should have remained a French Colony, that Kashmiris,
Iraqis and Palestinians should accept military
occupation? That people whose dignity is being
assaulted should give up the fight because they can‚t
find saints to lead them into battle?

Is there a communication breakdown in our society?



8) New Coin of the Realm
March 23, 2007

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela had an especially good time baiting
President Bush during their recent competing tours of Latin America.
But demagoguery and showmanship will do nothing to solve Venezuela's
20 percent inflation rate — now the highest in Latin America — and
growing food shortages that are punishing the poor whose interests Mr.
Chávez so loudly declaims.

Venezuela's biggest problem is that there is no one to question Mr.
Chávez's increasingly erratic decisions. The National Assembly has
given him the power to rule by decree for 18 months. So instead of
seriously addressing Venezuela's serious problems, the showman has
settled for more showmanship.

As Simon Romero reported in The Times, Venezuela's currency, the
bolívar, has lost about a fifth of its value since January. The
government has now announced it will introduce a new "bolívar fuerte,"
or strong bolívar — worth 1,000 old bolívar, or roughly 25 American
cents. It is also reintroducing a coin known as the locha — to be
worth one-eighth of a bolívar fuerte — which last circulated in the

Mr. Chávez appears to be counting on a psychological boost from a
currency with three fewer zeros and a coin that evokes financially
happier days. But by drawing attention to the bolívar's recent
weakness and — even worse — to the government's capricious response,
the maneuvers could further undermine confidence, rather than raise

Government spending — fueled by the nation's oil wealth — rose an
extraordinary 48 percent last year, and is one of the main forces
driving inflation. Private-sector investment, meanwhile, has weakened
since Mr. Chávez decided to nationalize utility companies earlier this

Price controls intended to help the poor buy food and hold down rising
prices have led to a scarcity of staples like beef, chicken and milk.
Threats to nationalize grocery stores and jail their owners — whom Mr.
Chávez accuses of hoarding — have only made the situation worse.

Venezuela still has billions of dollars in foreign currency reserves.
And Mr. Chávez has used some of the oil wealth to push social programs
— including for literacy and health clinics — to improve the lives of
Venezuela's poor. But we fear that any good is quickly being undone by
the old strongman formula of cronyism, corruption and incompetence.


9) Flood of Sewage in Gaza Kills at Least 4
March 27, 2007

At least 4 people were killed today in the northern Gaza Strip and
more than 30 injured when a sewage system collapsed, flooding
a village with waste water, according to the United Nations agency
for Palestinian refugees.

The agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which
helps Palestinian refugees and their families, posted photographs
on its Web site showing Palestinians wading through the muck,
and waters rising about half way up structures in the area known
as Um al-Nasr.

The local Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported that at least
nine people were killed and scores wounded. Hundreds of houses
were flooded or damaged, the U.N. agency and Wafa said.

“The waters destroyed houses, tents, shelters, everything in its
way,” Musa Jaber, a 28 year-old Palestine refugee and father
of five, told the U.N. agency. “It was very high, more than
a meter. And horrifying! Women and children were screaming
at the top of their lungs for help.”

The U.N. agency estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000
inhabitants would evacuate as the flood waters spread to
outlying areas. The agency dispatched staff to the area, as
well as water and food supplies. Bulldozers were sent to
create earth barriers.

Village children clung to wooden doors floating on the putrid
waters and rescuers paddled through the village in makeshift
boats in search of victims, Agence France-Presse reported.
It said Palestinian television called the flood a “sewage tsunami.”


10) Involuntary Call-Up Set for Marines
March 27, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 26 — As many as 1,200 Marine reservists are
being involuntarily called up for duty in Iraq next year for jobs the
service has been unable to find enough volunteers to fill, the Marine
Corps said Monday.

The mobilization, which was approved by Defense Secretary Robert
M. Gates last week, reflects the increasing manpower shortages
the Marines are facing as the war in Iraq continues. Officials said
it would have been necessary even without the increase in American
force levels in Iraq, which will reach 160,000, including 25,000
marines, by June.

Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Riehl said Monday that the corps was notifying
1,800 members of the individual ready reserve, made up of inactive
marines who have not finished their service requirements, with
a goal of getting 1,200 marines for one-year deployments in 2008.
The affected marines will begin reporting for duty in October,
Colonel Riehl said.

The use of reservists is part of a push by Gen. James T. Conway,
the Marine Corps commandant, to give marines longer periods
at home before having to go back to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most of the call-ups are for support jobs, like aviation maintenance,
logistics and truck driving, but more than 200 marines will be put
into combat jobs, Colonel Riehl said.

The mobilization is the largest involuntary call-up since the initial
invasion of Iraq in 2003, when around 2,000 Marine reservists
were returned to active duty. The Army has made more extensive
use of a similar authorization, ordering back more than 5,000
soldiers since the war in Iraq began.

President Bush authorized use of the ready reserve last August,
specifying that only 2,500 marines could be mobilized at one
time. Only 69 marines have been activated so far under
that order.


11) Inhumane raid was just one of many
By Carol Rose and Christopher Ott
March 26, 2007

IF THE CHAOTIC immigration raid in New Bedford earlier this month
troubled you, we have news: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also
known as ICE, is just getting warmed up.

We know this because the New Bedford raid was part of a frighteningly
ambitious plan laid out by the Department of Homeland Security in
2003 -- and it hasn't received nearly enough scrutiny.

The plan is called Endgame, and its details are available online on
our group's website ( It's a 10-year
campaign to track down and deport all the immigrants to the United
States who are living and working here without proper documentation,
by the year 2012.

Let's be clear: This means expelling roughly 12 million people.

We've seen Endgame at work already in other parts of the country,
with ICE conducting more and bigger raids. In December, for example,
the agency raided Swift & Company slaughterhouses in six states,
arresting about 1,300 workers and deporting roughly half of them.

Already, on any given day, ICE holds approximately 26,000 people in
detention. And on March 6, we got a chance to see Endgame at work on
a large scale here in Massachusetts. We saw the human cost of an
operation directed at 361 people.

The pace of raids will need to accelerate, however, in order to meet
Endgame's aggressive deportation goals over the next five years.
We'll see more of the surreal New Bedford-style tactics: arrest
first, ask questions later. We'll hear more stories of the human
suffering that results from such tactics: of nursing babies who
become dehydrated when separated from their mothers, of 7-year-olds
frantically looking for their missing mothers, and of minors being
flown to distant states without adequate protection.

We'll see more people's rights trampled, and more families torn apart
by ICE's race to deport in order to meet Endgame's staggering goal.

Obviously, the United States has the right to control who enters our
country, as well as the right to deport those who are not authorized
to be here. But the US Constitution also says that everyone's
fundamental rights must be respected while it is being determined
whether or not they have a right to be here.

Even most US citizens could not prove their citizenship on demand. If
ICE raided your workplace, could you? If you're like most people, you
don't carry documents such as your passport or birth certificate with
you at all times. And in a free society, you shouldn't have to.

That's why those detained by ICE need protections such as the right
to a hearing before an immigration judge, legal representation, and,
when necessary, interpretive services. They need time and a fair
chance to prove their case. It's also critical to make provisions for
the children and other dependents of those arrested.

Some of those dependents are US citizens, even if the detainees
themselves are not -- and all of them are human beings.

The pandemonium of the raid in New Bedford was deeply troubling in
this regard. If ICE couldn't handle 361 detainees without violating
people's rights and tearing families apart, how will they cope with

The simple answer is they can't. There is no way to expel 12 million
people without terrorizing and compromising the civil liberties of
anyone who "looks foreign." Even US citizens, as well as immigrants
who are here legally, will live with the fear of arrest.

ICE tactics call to mind sinister human rights abuses from other
parts of the world. The United States went to war to stop Slobodan
Milosevic's attempt to "ethnically cleanse" Kosovo in 1999. We should
ask ourselves how, just eight years later, we came to be carrying out
a policy that involves such similar tactics -- lightning raids, mass
arrests, packed detention centers, and mass deportations.

We must stop it. It's time to bring operation Endgame itself to an
end. We need an immigration policy that balances the right to control
our borders with the civil liberties we must preserve in order to
remain free.

Carol Rose is executive director of the American Civil Liberties
Union of Massachusetts. Christopher Ott is communications director.


12) KPFA: Will new gag rule kill ‘Free Speech Radio’?
by Minister of Information JR
From the latest edition of the San Francisco Bay View

On Friday, Sasha Lilley, interim program director of KPFA, the station
long known as “Free Speech Radio,” imposed a gag rule on KPFA
broadcasters, saying: “KPFA program hosts may not actively urge
listeners to attend events. This is the case whether during a regular
program or a special remote broadcast.” The full text of her email
follows this story.
The issue started when Miguel Gavilan Molina, executive producer
of La Onda Bajita, co-founding producer of Flashpoints in Español
and a 25-year veteran KPFA programmer, was utilizing the KPFA
airwaves to urge youngstas in the Mission and other listeners
to attend last Saturday’s rally marking the fourth anniversary
of the war in Iraq. Sasha Lilley’s email was addressed to him.
Now whether this is a part of some right-wing agenda or self-
censorship under the Bush regime’s Federal Communications
Commission, the fact remains that KPFA broadcasters have
been stripped of their most fundamental power, the power
to promote events and urge people to attend demonstrations
and hearings.
The fact of the matter is that all radio stations, no matter where
they are on the political spectrum, promote events. Clear Channel,
the corporate media monster, has been engaged in promoting
pro-war rallies – yet KPFA broadcasters can’t promote anti-war
“Where’s the legal opinion to justify this gag rule, and when
did the KPFA Board, that we elected, authorize such a basic
policy change?” asked Willie Ratcliff, a former member of the
Local Station Board and publisher of the San Francisco Bay
View newspaper.
What is also notable about this email is that it says, “This is
a second notification.” A third notification means that this
producer will be banned from the KPFA airwaves.
In a March 20 email, Dennis Bernstein, executive producer
of Flashpoints, the investigative news hour broadcast at 5 p.m.
weekdays on KPFA and dozens of other stations around the
country, responded to Sasha Lilley: “It is further troubling to me
that you are now threatening to remove Miguel Gavilan Molina
from the air, based on a show which featured some of the most
marginalized youth of color, some speaking out on the radio
for the first time, speaking because Gavilan gave them a platform
and they trusted him.
“These are kids who have been raided by the feds, beaten by the
police and often separated from their families. They trusted
Gavilan because he was them; he had his father ripped out of
his arms and stolen, and watched as his mother was beaten
unconscious for trying to resist. Yes, this was the kind of
program that puts the community back in community radio.
And for this you sent him a punitive warning, and now he’s
a step away from being taken off the air.”
Radio has been and is one of the most popular media because
it doesn’t require people to look at anything and can be listened
to while people are commuting from their jobs.
KPFA radio, in Berkeley, was founded by Lewis Hill, a pacifist and
journalist, in 1949, and was the first community supported radio
station in the country. It has 59,000 watts of power and reaches
about a third of California on terrestrial radio. KPFA – at 94.1 FM
or , where you can listen
to live and archived shows – is the flagship station in the Pacifica
Network, which includes four sister stations: KPFK in LA, KPFT
in Houston, WPFW in DC and WBAI in New York.
Many in the Bay Area are content with saying that KPFA is the best
station on the dial, without knowing that every day has been
a fight for political broadcasters, especially Black and Brown ones.
It is also important to show that in ‘07, KPFA still doesn’t have
a show that speaks to the concerns of the Black community domestically.
Since management hasn’t authorized such a public affairs show
to be on the KPFA programming grid, POCC: Block Report Radio
has hooked up with Flashpoints during their prime time slot to
occasionally expose the world to the concerns of Black people
who live within the listening area of KPFA on the terrestrial radio
dial, as well as our national and international concerns.
And let me remind the readers of the Bay View and listeners to KPFA
that Lemlem Rijio, the interim general manager of KPFA, is an African
woman, which further reminds us that it is not just about Black
and White, it is about politics and interests.
In another recent occurrence that didn’t get a lot of coverage, Youth
Radio, a program that teaches radio production skills to Bay Area
youth from low income backgrounds, especially youth of color,
had their weekly show cancelled off of the air because of some
cuss words in a song. Yes, this is a FCC violation that KPFA did
not get charged for, but to kick them off of the air without any
warnings is kind of extreme.
Youth Radio was the first radio school for many of KPFA’s young
producers, including Anita Johnson of Hard Knock Radio, Nora
Barrows-Friedman of Flashpoints, Devrol Ross, executive producer
of Side Show Radio and production director of KPFA, and T-Kash,
producer of the Friday Night Vibe, just to name a few of the staff
that came through this valuable Bay Area radio industry channel.
Brian Edwards-Tiekert, a 20-something white producer for KPFA
Evening News, repeatedly said the word “shit” on the air during
a news broadcasts late last year. Needless to say, he was not
penalized, suspended or kicked off of the air, nor was the
Evening News.
“The core power of KPFA is racist, and Democrat … That’s who’s
running it … They are the worst kind of racists because they’re in
denial of their racism the same as a drug addict in denial,” said
former KPFA broadcaster and revolutionary journalist Kiilu Nyasha,
who produced and hosted a monthly show called A Luta Continua,
part of the series, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, from ’91 to ‘95.
“How can you have (revolutionary) politics, when you haven’t dealt
with your own classism and racism?”
Speaking about the purge of KPFA’s progressive broadcasters in 1995,
Kiilu said: “I went to all the meetings where we tried to make them
act right” before “Freedom...” and other radical programs were
surreptitiously cancelled. “They then gave Jerry Brown a daily show.
Look at (California Attorney General) Jerry Brown now, the Chief Pig.
The reactionaries got more reactionary.”
Many are puzzled as to what listeners should do about the criminal
radio junta that currently runs KPFA. They overthrew the last two
general managers – both Black – Gus Newport and, more recently,
Roy Campanella Jr. They selectively enforce policies that they have
created, even though policy making is legally the responsibility not
of management but of the Local Station Board of KPFA and the
National Governing Board of Pacifica.
Many of the staff inside the station and the SF Bay View newspaper
are considering promoting a boycott of the May fund drive and an
email campaign to Greg Guma, executive director of Pacifica, until
he fires the current KPFA administration or they resign. This will be
the test to see if Pacifica is truly “radio with a conscience” like it states
on its myspace page.
Are the forces running KPFA trying to drive away listeners so that the
station can be bought? Will progressive broadcasters and broadcasters
of color continue to be targeted and kicked out of KPFA? Will we let
them succeed? As Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz) used to say,
“Only time will tell.” The death of KPFA as we know it is around the
corner if we fail to act decisively now.
To contact Greg Guma of Pacifica, you could email him at; also cc your comments to
so that we could keep a record of what the community thinks about these
new happenings. You could also leave your comments with the KPFA Local
Station Board at (510) 848-6767, ext. 635, or in writing at
Email POCC Minister of Information JR at,
and listen to the Block Report at or
KPFA gag rule announced
Following is the email from Sasha Lilley exactly as it was received:
March 16, 2007
To: Miguel Molina
Re: Call to Action on Flashpoints
While Hosting Flash Points on Thursday 3/15, you urged people to attend
the rally scheduled for Sunday 3/18 at Civic Center Plaza by telling listeners
to “be there”.
Due to issues of liability, KPFA programmers are not permitted to urge
listeners to attend an event. If damage suits stem from injuries suffered
at an event, KPFA could be held liable for actively urging participation.
Last Year, on March 22nd, following a remote broadcast from a rally
in San Francisco, Chief engineer Michael Yoshida sent a memo to you
and the other producers of the rally asking you to be aware of and
prevent such language in future broadcasts.
This is a second notification.
KPFA program hosts may not actively urge listeners to attend events.
This is the case whether during a regular program or a special
remote broadcast.
Thank you for your cooperation
Sasha Lilley
Interim Program Director

To reach the Bay View, email


13) In Defense of Day Laborers
March 28, 2007

In cities and suburbs across America, the confluence of homes,
big-box stores and striving immigrant men has created an informal,
often unruly job marketplace that has survived every effort to ban
it or harass it out of existence.

This market, of Latino day laborers, is hardly the only manifestation
of the shadow immigrant economy, but it is the hardest to ignore.
These are the immigrants whom localities seem the most desperate
to subdue, usually with laws against loitering and job solicitation.
A Los Angeles suburb, Baldwin Park, is the latest of dozens to tackle
the problem, with an antisoliciting bill written broadly enough
to cover cookie-selling Girl Scouts but really meant for the Latino
men at Home Depot.

Such crackdowns are constitutionally dubious and usually fail, and
some lawmakers are having doubts about them. Last week, on Long
Island, the Suffolk County Legislature defeated a bill to drive away
day laborers by forbidding them to “obstruct” county roads. The
majority understood that the dimly reasoned measure would have
simply diverted workers and contractors’ trucks onto other roads
while inviting civil-rights lawsuits. It would not have reduced the
population of day laborers the least bit.

It was a good outcome for a bad bill, but the county is still stuck
where it has been for years — wondering how to handle a volatile
mixture of men and trucks in a suburb that wishes they would
go away. A good next step for Suffolk would be to come around
to a solution that other communities have tried, with generally
positive results: a hiring site.

One can oppose illegal immigration and still approve of hiring
sites, places where laborers can find shade, toilets and a safe
place to negotiate jobs with contractors and homeowners.
The most obvious reasons are crowd control and traffic safety.

But an equally compelling reason is that hiring sites impose
order on free-market chaos. An unregulated day-labor bazaar
wallows in the mud flats of capitalism, benefiting sleazy
contractors and fostering rock-bottom wages and working
conditions for all laborers, legal or not. Hiring sites that
register and monitor contractors and laborers can hold them
all to account. Employers who undercut competitors and rob
workers will find it hard to return to a well-established hiring
site, and drunks and belligerents among the laborers will
be pressured to toe the line. These places are sometimes
called “shape-up sites,” an apt term in more ways than one.

Some lawmakers have gotten over the notion that hiring sites
are gifts to illegals, and have concluded that approaching
day laborers as community members, with rights and civic
responsibilities, is smarter than ranting about them as pests.
It is heartening that some local officials are willing to confront
the realities of a flawed immigration system and to work
responsibly to lessen its troublesome side effects.

Then there are those who hold out hope that with just one more
crackdown, one more ticketing blitz, the men who make our
suburbs gleam will take their sweat and muscle elsewhere
and leave us alone to tend our homes and hedges by ourselves.
Government officials on Long Island, as elsewhere, have tried
stiff-necked hostility to day laborers, and have reaped years
of failure. They should consider hiring sites as the next,
positive step — one that promises not only to be practical
and humane, but also effective.


14) Opposing the Iraq Supplemental & Iran Threats
By Phyllis Bennis
Institute for Policy Studies
26 March 2007

The Congressional resolution passed last week gives Bush another
$100 billion to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq. That much
is now guaranteed. The timelines and restrictions included
in the bill -- clearly responding to the strong public support
for ending the war -- were weakened almost to the disappearing
point to allow the razor-thin vote. Very few of those toothless
restrictions will likely make it into the final bill that must survive
a super-majority in the Senate, a House-Senate conference
committee, and a likely Bush veto.

But the effort to hold Congressmembers to their electoral mandate
must be continued and ratcheted up, not abandoned, even as we
look towards pressing alternative centers of power (city councils,
state legislatures, mayors and governors, newspaper editorial
boards, influential clergy, etc.) as instruments to pressure
Congress from new directions.

Congress is not the peace movement. So the peace movement
must stay unified on our principles and our demands, in the
face of congressional waffling and "realistic" pragmatism,
unfortunately promoted by one influential part of our movement.
Whatever they do, we must stay consistent on demanding an
end to the U.S. occupation: de-funding (not re-funding) the
war, and bringing home (not redeploying) all (not just some)
of the troops (including the mercenaries) . The longstanding
AFSC slogan has it right: "Not one more death, not one more
dollar." That means STOP funding the war. STOP allowing
Bush to send more U.S. troops to kill more Iraqis and be
killed in the process. Just stop.

These talking points are in two parts: first, an assessment
of why the real peace movement must continue to stand
on principle and oppose the supplemental gift of $100 billion
to Bush to continue the occupations. Second an assessment
of some of the rising dangers of a U.S. attack on Iran, and
its potential consequences.


The Democratic leadership in the House claims the $125 billion
supplemental is the way to end the war. Something passed in the
Senate may include some of the same claims. Aside from setting
a date for bringing home troops, the House version included
a number of items many in the peace movement would ordinarily
support -- veterans' health benefits, Katrina survivors' assistance,
children's health insurance ...

So if there's a timeline, what's the problem with the supplemental?
Why shouldn't peace activists support it?

Because it gives President Bush another $100 billion to continue
the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it doesn't end the occupation
or prevent expansion of the war to Iran.


It calls for pulling out some troops from Iraq by August 2008.


It exempts whole categories of troops from the withdrawal ...

Troops "training the Iraqi military" can stay -- currently 6,000,
perhaps as many as 20,000 (no limit in the supplemental) .

Troops engaged in "special operations" can stay -- the Marines
say they want 20,000 for Anbar Province alone, perhaps as many
as 40,000 for the whole country (no limit in the supplemental) .

Troops "protecting diplomatic enclaves" like the huge Green Zone
and the US Embassy, the largest in the world, and maybe including
the numerous US bases established in Iraq, can stay -- 20,000
is a conservative number (no limit in the supplemental) .

That means Bush could keep unlimited numbers, perhaps 60,000-
80,000 troops, permanently in Iraq -- and still be in compliance
with the bill.

And the bill does not require that the troops withdrawn from Iraq
be sent home; they can be immediately deployed to Afghanistan,
or to bases in surrounding Arab countries, or to ships in the
Persian Gulf -- or be used to attack Iran.


It imposes restrictions on Pentagon deployments, prohibiting
the deployment of troops not fully trained, not adequately
equipped, and not adequately rested between deployments.


It includes a waiver for President Bush to simply state his
intention to override those restrictions, allowing him to send
in as many untrained, badly equipped and exhausted troops
as he wishes.


Prohibit construction of new permanent bases in Iraq.


It does nothing to close the existing permanent bases the U.S.
has built across Iraq and includes billions for "military construction"
presumably for those existing bases.


Require Iraq's government to pass a new oil law.


The law being debated in the parliament abandons Iraq's long
history of maintaining control of its oil resources in favor
of allowing international (especially U.S.) oil companies
to take control of large sectors of the vital oil industry.


Cut 10% of the funding for private military contractors.


It allows 90% of the 100,000 or so mercenaries who fight
alongside the U.S. military to remain in Iraq.


The supplemental does not prohibit an unprovoked attack on Iran.

The supplemental does not end the occupation of Iraq.


The U.S. is continuing to ratchet up threats against Iran. The current
stand-off in the Gulf between Iran and Britain may well not have been
a deliberate British provocation, beyond the "normal" provocative nature
of the U.S.-British strategy of boarding and "inspecting" ships, etc.,
but that doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. Blair isn't so keen on an attack
on Iran, his rhetoric even after the sailors were captured has been
remarkably low-key, and a move against Iran could threaten his
already-shaky political standing. The Shatt al-Arab waterway
is always a difficult navigation point, even aside from political
tensions, and this kind of move has happened before and blown
over in a few days. However, it's likely the Cheney gang is pushing
Britain to escalate, to make this Tonkin Gulf II (the false claim of
a North Vietnamese attack used to justify the Viet Nam war in 1964),
though it doesn't appear Blair/Brown are biting yet. But, once again,
having said all THAT, things are very tense could easily spin out of
control. So we need to keep up the pressure.

The UN Security Council resolution passed last week was the result
of heavy U.S. pressure, but also an example of the limitations of U.S.
diplomacy when imposed by a shoot-first- negotiate- later U.S. regime.
The pressure was enough to force opportunistically vacillating Russia
and China to toe the line, as well as to push the Council's Non-Aligned
members -- Indonesia, Qatar and even South Africa -- to give in as well.
But the final text was far weaker than the harsh sanctions the U.S. wanted,
and getting the others on board required significant concessions
in Washington's position.

The resolution does not impose broad economic sanctions similar
to those imposed on Iraq, with the inevitably devastating consequences.
The most dangerous immediate aspect of the new sanctions resolution
is that it broadens the range of Iranian institutions and individuals subject
to the "targeted sanctions," including not only those alleged to be involved
in Iran's nuclear enrichment programs, but as well leaders of the
Revolutionary Guard and other military officials whom the U.S. claims
are somehow connected to Iran's support for Hezbollah, Hamas and
Iraqi militias. The resolution forbids Iran to export weapons, and
freezes the assets of several dozen individuals and institutions,
of whom about 1/3 are involved with the nuclear program, and 2/3
with the Revolutionary Guards and others. But U.S. efforts to impose
travel bans, a full embargo prohibiting all countries from buying
Iranian weapons, and a denial of bank loans, grants and credits
from all international banks and financial institutions, failed --
all those punishments are merely "encouraged," not enforced.

South Africa failed in its effort to discard the imposition of military
and financial sanctions. But the non-aligned effort to demand a call
for a nuclear weapons-free zone across the Middle East had achieved
partial success. The U.S. and the other permanent members of the
Council (who not only hold Council vetoes but are also the five
"legal" nuclear weapons states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty)
agreed to include the nuclear-weapons- free zone (NWFZ) language,
but undermined its significance. It is included only as part of the
preamble, rather than an enforceable operative paragraph, and
even more fatally, it refers only to an earlier call for a NWFZ made
by the UN's nuclear watchdog agency (IAEA), rather than calling
for such a move itself. That is significant because Israel, the only
nuclear weapons power in the Middle East, is not a signatory
to the treaty creating the IAEA and therefore not subject to its
mandates. A Council resolution calling directly for creation of
such a nuclear-free zone (such as the one the U.S. drafted as
part of the resolution ending the 1991 Gulf War) is binding on
all countries, including Israel. A call from global civil society
demanding a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East
as the basis for resolving the current tensions could be based
on a call to enforce that early Council resolution.

Aside from the political posturing, the greatest actual danger
from the new resolution may be that it is already strengthening
U.S. efforts to enforce compliance with Washington's unilateral
economic sanctions against Iran on other countries around the
world. The model may be the U.S. embargo against Cuba --
ostensibly imposed only by the U.S. itself, but designed to force
other countries to abide by it as well. In the case of Cuba, this
means a U.S. law that prohibits any ship docking at a Cuban port
from coming to any U.S. port for six months. Faced with that choice,
how likely is it that profit-driven shipping companies will bother
calling at Cuban ports at all? Similarly, U.S. Treasury Department
officials are already pressing banks all around the world to refuse
to deal with Iran, on threat of losing U.S. business access.

Phyllis Bennis' new book is Challenging Empire: How People,
Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power, just published by
Interlink. It is available from IPS or from www.interlinkbooks. com .


15) Report Says Interior Official Overrode Work of Scientists
March 29, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 28 — A top-ranking official overseeing the Fish
and Wildlife Service at the Interior Department rode roughshod over
agency scientists, and decisions made on her watch may not survive
court challenges, investigators within the Interior Department
have found.

Their report, sent to Congress this week by the department’s inspector
general, does not accuse the official, Julie A. MacDonald, the deputy
assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, of any crime. But it
does find that she violated federal rules when she sent internal
agency documents to industry lobbyists.

Ms. MacDonald, an engineer by training, has provoked complaints
from some wildlife biologists and lawyers in the agency for
aggressive advocacy for industries’ views of the science that
underlies agency decisions. The words of more than a dozen
high-ranking career employees, from Interior Department
headquarters and regional offices in California and Oregon,
who are quoted usually by title in the report, describe a manager
determined to see that agency findings and the underlying
science conform with policy goals.

In recent years, agency lawyers reported, 75 percent of the
Western offices’ findings on endangered-species status reviews
and critical-habitat determinations were sent to Washington
without any assurance from career lawyers and biologists that
they were valid. Court challenges from both industry and
environmentalists are a regular occurrence at the fish and
wildlife agency. Making decisions that are vulnerable increases
the risk that time-consuming, labor-intensive scientific and
regulatory work must be redone.

The report, citing a lawyer in the Sacramento office, noted that
Ms. MacDonald lobbied for a decision to combine three different
populations of the California tiger salamander into one, thus
excluding it from the endangered-species list, and making
the decision legally vulnerable. A federal district judge
overturned it in 2005., saying the decision was made
“without even a semblance of agency reasoning.”

Ms. MacDonald, who said through a spokesman that she had
not seen the inspector general’s report, declined requests
for an interview.

When the inspector general asked her “why she ignored or
discounted” legal opinions from the regional offices, the report
said, “MacDonald replied it was a matter of policy, it was what
worked best, and it was the result of the risk balancing that
takes place” between pursuing policy goals and ensuring
decisions have an adequate basis.

She also denied giving preferential treatment to a California
Farm Bureau lobbyist who was a friend, or to any of his clients.

The inspector general also found that Ms. MacDonald had
sent internal government documents by e-mail to a lawyer
for the Pacific Legal Foundation — a property-rights group
that frequently challenges endangered-species decisions.

She twice sent internal Environmental Protection Agency
documents — one involving water quality management —
to individuals whose e-mail addresses ended in
“,” the report said.

The inspector general’s investigation started after an anonymous
complaint that Ms. MacDonald’s conduct was unethical and illegal.

A copy of the report was sent to Representative Nick J. Rahall II,
Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Committee
on Natural Resources; his office provided a copy
to The New York Times.

In a statement, Mr. Rahall said he would hold hearings to conduct
“a sweeping review on whether politics is infiltrating decisions
governing” endangered species.


16) Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows
"The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively
enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans.
Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average
person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980."
March 29, 2007

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent
of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000
— receiving their largest share of national income since 1928,
analysis of newly released tax data shows.

The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also
reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost
9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available,
average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly
compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose
to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more
than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively
enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans.
Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average
person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

Prof. Emmanuel Saez, the University of California, Berkeley, economist
who analyzed the Internal Revenue Service data with Prof. Thomas
Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, said such growing disparities
were significant in terms of social and political stability.

“If the economy is growing but only a few are enjoying the benefits,
it goes to our sense of fairness,” Professor Saez said. “It can have
important political consequences.”

Last year, according to data from other sources, incomes for average
Americans increased for the first time in several years. But because
those at the top rely heavily on the stock market and business profits
for their income, both of which were strong last year, it is likely that
the disparities in 2005 are the same or larger now, Professor Saez said.

He noted that the analysis was based on preliminary data and that
the highest-income Americans were more likely than others to file
their returns late, so his data might understate the growth in inequality.

The disparities may be even greater for another reason. The Internal
Revenue Service estimates that it is able to accurately tax 99 percent
of wage income but that it captures only about 70 percent of business
and investment income, most of which flows to upper-income individuals,
because not everybody accurately reports such figures.

The Bush administration argued that its tax policies, despite cuts
that benefited those at the top more than others, had not added
to the widening gap but “made the tax code more progressive, not
less.” Brookly McLaughlin, the chief Treasury Department spokeswoman,
said that this year “the share of income taxes paid by lower-income
taxpayers will be lower than it would have been without the tax relief,
while the share of income taxes for higher-income taxpayers will
be higher.”

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., she noted, has acknowledged
that income disparities have increased, but, along with a “solid
consensus” of experts, attributed that shift largely to “the rapid
pace of technological change has been a major driver in the
decades-long widening of the income gap in the United States."

Others argued that public policies had played a role in the shift.
Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities, an advocacy group for the poor, said that
the data understates the widening disparity between the top
1 percent and the rest of the country.

He said that in addition to rising incomes and reduced taxes,
the equation should take into account cuts in fringe benefits
to workers and in government services that middle-class and
poor Americans rely on more than the affluent. These include
health care, child care and education spending.

“The nation faces some very tough choices in coming years,”
he said. “That such a large share of the income gains are going
to the very top, at a minimum, raises serious questions about
continuing to provide tax cuts averaging over $150,000 a year
to people making more than a million dollars a year, while saying
we do not have enough money” to provide health insurance to
47 million Americans and cutting education benefits.

A major issue likely to be debated in Congress in the year ahead
is whether reversing the Bush tax cuts would slow investment and,
if so, how much that would cost the economy.

Mr. Greenstein’s organization will release a report today showing
that for Americans in the middle, the share of income taken by
federal taxes has been essentially unchanged across four decades.
By comparison, it has fallen by half for those at the very top
of the income ladder.

Because the incomes of those at the top have grown so much more
than those below them, their share of total income tax revenue
has risen despite the reduced rates.

The analysis by the two professors showed that the top 10 percent
of Americans collected 48.5 percent of all reported income in 2005.

That is an increase of more than 2 percentage points over the
previous year and up from roughly 33 percent in the late 1970s.
The peak for this group was 49.3 percent in 1928.

The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income
in 2005, up significantly from 19.8 percent the year before and
more than double their share of income in 1980. The peak was
in 1928, when the top 1 percent reported 23.9 percent
of all income.

The top tenth of a percent and top one-hundredth of a percent
recorded even bigger gains in 2005 over the previous year.
Their incomes soared by about a fifth in one year, largely
because of the rising stock market and increased business

The top tenth of a percent reported an average income of
$5.6 million, up $908,000, while the top one-hundredth
of a percent had an average income of $25.7 million,
up nearly $4.4 million in one year.

["Ain't we got fun?"]


17) Chief Warns Automakers That U.A.W. Won’t Budge
on Health Care or Jobs Bank
March 29, 2007

DETROIT, March 28 — Months before contract talks with Detroit’s
automakers are set to begin, the United Automobile Workers union
has seemingly declared two crucial issues off-limits for bargaining.

The union’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, said on Wednesday that
he saw no reason to accept any deal that requires workers to pay
more of their health care costs or that eliminates the jobs bank,
which allows laid-off workers to continue collecting most
of their pay and benefits.

Executives at General Motors, Ford Motor and the Chrysler Group
of DaimlerChrysler have complained that rising health care costs
and the jobs bank hinder their ability to compete with foreign-
based rivals like Toyota and Honda.

But Mr. Gettelfinger said the union had already done its part
to help curb health care costs when it struck deals to let G.M.
and Ford charge hourly workers for a part of their benefits.
(The union later refused to grant similar concessions to Chrysler,
saying its finances were better.)

“We addressed health care in ’05,” he told reporters at the end
of the U.A.W.’s two-day collective bargaining convention.
“You don’t get two bites at the apple, do you?”

The jobs bank was a nonissue, Mr. Gettelfinger said, because
most workers assigned to it left voluntarily during the recent

Two years ago, analysts estimated there were about 12,000
people in the jobs bank, which was created in the 1980s
to protect workers from being laid off as plants used more
robotics in their assembly lines.

In the last year, more than 70,000 workers at G.M. and Ford
took advantage of incentives of up to $140,000 to retire
or quit. Together, the two companies have announced plans
to eliminate 61,000 hourly jobs through next year.

David Gregory, a labor specialist at the St. John’s University
School of Law in New York, said the mere existence of the
jobs bank hurts the automakers.

“As long as the jobs bank dynamic is there, it gives the perception”
to Wall Street that Detroit’s business model is out of date,
Mr. Gregory said.

G.M.’s chief executive, Rick Wagoner, has said he wants
to re-examine the jobs bank during this summer’s contract
talks — the current agreement expires in September —
but has stopped short of saying the program should
be eliminated.

Mr. Wagoner and his counterparts at Ford and Chrysler could
seek changes, like removing language barring the automakers
from moving workers in the jobs bank to positions more than
50 miles away.

A G.M. spokesman, Dan Flores, declined to comment on the
automaker’s goals during the contract talks. He lauded union
officials for working with G.M. to reduce expenses but said,
“More change is required to structure G.M. for sustained
profitability and growth.”

Mr. Flores noted that G.M. spent $4.8 billion last year providing
health care to 1.1 million employees, retirees and dependents.

“Based on the magnitude of the cost, health care will continue
to be a discussion issue for G.M. and the U.A.W.,” Mr. Flores said,
adding that G.M. is willing to consider “a variety of alternatives
to address the health care burden.” Some experts have suggested
that retiree health care costs be paid for by a union trust fund
rather than by the automakers.

Mr. Gettelfinger and auto executives have said the best solution
would be a national health care system; the chief executives of all
three Detroit automakers raised that issue with President Bush last fall.

U.A.W. officials also said Wednesday that they had rejected the latest
proposal by the Delphi Corporation, the parts supplier seeking
to reduce wages and benefits as it works to emerge from
bankruptcy protection.


18) Reflections from the Commander-in-Chief
By Fidel Castro
March 28, 2007
[VIA Email from: Walter Lippmann]


It is not an exaggeration; this is rather a conservative figure. I
have meditated for quite a long time on that after the meeting held
by President Bush with the US automakers.

The sinister idea of turning foodstuffs into fuel was definitely
established as the economic strategy of the US foreign policy on
Monday, March 26th last.

A wire service issued by the AP, a US information agency with
world-wide coverage, literally reads:

WASHINGTON (AP), March 26 - President Bush touted the benefits of
"flexible fuel" vehicles running on ethanol and biodiesel on Monday,
meeting with automakers to boost support for his energy plans. Bush
said a commitment by the leaders of the domestic auto industry to
double their production of flex-fuel vehicles could help motorists
shift away from gasoline and reduce the nation's reliance on imported

"That's a major technological breakthrough for the country," Bush
said after inspecting three alternative vehicles. If the nation wants
to reduce gasoline use, he said "the consumer has got to be in a
position to make a rational choice."

The president urged Congress to "move expeditiously" on legislation
the administration recently proposed to require the use of 35 billion
gallons of alternative fuels by 2017 and seek higher fuel economy
standards for automobiles.

Bush met with General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick
Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally and
DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group chief executive Tom LaSorda. They
discussed support for flex-fuel vehicles, attempts to develop ethanol
from alternative sources like switchgrass and wood chips and the
administration's proposal to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent in
10 years.

The discussions came amid rising gasoline prices. The latest Lundberg
Survey found the nationwide average for gasoline has risen 6 cents
per gallon in the past two weeks to $2.61. I think that reducing and
recycling all fuel and electricity operated engines is an urgent and
elemental necessity of all humanity. The dilemma is not in the
reduction of energy costs, but in the idea of turning foodstuffs into

Today we know with accurate precision that one ton of corn can only
render as an average 413 liters of ethanol (109 gallons), a figure
that may vary according to the latter's density. The average price of
corn in US ports has reached 167 dollars per ton. The production of
35 billion gallons of ethanol requires 320 million tons of corn.
According to FAO, US corn production in 2005 reached 280.2 million

Even if the President is speaking about producing fuel out of
switchgrass or wood chips, any person could understand that these
phrases are far from realistic. Listen well: 35 billion gallons, 35
followed by nine zeros!

Beautiful examples of the productivity of men per hectare achieved by
the experienced and well organized US farmers will come next: corn
will be turned into ethanol; corn wastes will be turned into animal
fodder, with a 26 percent of proteins; cattle manure will be used as
raw material for the production of gas. Of course, all of this will
happen after a great number of investments, which could only be
afforded by the most powerful companies whose operations are based on
the consumption of electricity and fuel. Let this formula be applied
to the Third World countries, and the world will see how many hungry
people on this planet will cease to consume corn. What is worse, let
the poor countries receive some financing to produce ethanol from
corn or any other foodstuff and very soon not a single tree will be
left standing to protect humanity from climate change.

Other rich countries have planned to use not only corn but also
wheat, sunflower seeds, rapeseed and other foodstuffs to produce
fuel. For Europeans, for example, it would be a good business to
import the entire soybean production of the world to reduce the cost
of fuel for their automobiles and feed their animals with the wastes
of that legume, which has a high content of all kinds of essential
amino acids.

In Cuba, alcohol was produced as a sugar cane by-product, after three
extractions of sugarcane juice. Climate change is already affecting
our sugar production. Severe droughts alternate with record rainfall
values, which hardly allow our country to produce any sugar during a
period of 100 days with adequate yields during our very mild winter.
So, in Cuba, we are either producing less sugar per every ton of
sugarcane, or the number of tons of cane per hectare has been reduced
due to the long lasting droughts in the plantation and harvest

I understand that Venezuela would not export alcohol; it will use it
to improve the environmental safety of its own fuel. Therefore,
despite the excellent technology designed by Brazil to produce
alcohol, its use in Cuba to produce alcohol from sugarcane juice is
nothing but a dream, the ravings of those who entertain such ideas.
In our country, the land which would otherwise be devoted solely to
the production of alcohol could be better used to produce foodstuffs
for the people and protect the environment.

All countries of the world without exception, whether rich or poor,
could save trillions of dollars in investments and fuel if they only
replace all incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, which is what
Cuba has done in all the residential areas of the country. This would
be a palliative that will enable us to cope with climate change
without killing the poor people in this planet with hunger.

As can be seen, I am not using adjectives to describe either the
system or those who have become the owners of this world. That task
will be brilliantly accomplished by the information experts, the many
honest socio-economic and political scientists in this world who
continuously delve into the present and the future of our species. A
computer and the increasing number of Internet networks will just be
enough to do that.

For the first time a truly globalized economy exists and a dominant
power in the economic, political, and military spheres that is in no
way similar to the ancient Rome ruled by emperors. Some people may
wonder why I am speaking about hunger and thirst. And I will answer:
this is not about the other side of a coin, but of the many different
sides of quite another object, maybe a six-sided dice or a polyhedron
which has many more sides.

This time I will quote an official news agency, founded in 1945,
which is in general very familiar with the economic and social
problems of the world: TELAM. It literally said:

"Within hardly 18 years, nearly 2 billion people will inhabit
countries and regions where water might seem a far away memory. Two
thirds of the world population could live in places where the lack of
water could bring about social and economic tensions that could lead
peoples to go to war over the precious "blue gold".

In the course of the last 100 years, water consumption has grown at a
pace which is more than twice the population growth rate.

"According to the World Water Council (WWC), the number of persons
affected by this serious situation will increase to 3.5 billion by
the year 2015.

On March 23, the United Nations Organization observed the World Water
Day, urging all member countries to cope with the international water
shortage as of that day, under the auspices of FAO, with the aim of
emphasizing the increasing importance of water shortage in the world
and the need for greater integration and cooperation to ensure a
sustainable and efficient management of water resources.

"Many regions in this planet suffer from severe water shortage, where
the annual rate of cubic meters per person is less than 500. Every
time there are more and more regions suffering from a chronic
shortage of this vital resource.

"An insufficient amount of the precious fluid necessary to produce
foodstuffs, the impaired development of industry, urban areas and
tourism, and the emergence of health problems are some of the
consequences that derive from water shortage." So much for the TELAM
wire service.

I have not mentioned other important facts, such as the ice that is
melting down in Greenland and the Antartic, the damages caused to the
ozone layer and the ever higher titers of mercury found in many fish
species which are part of the regular people's diet.

Other topics could be addressed, but in these few lines I simply
intend to make some comments about the meeting held by President Bush
with the chief executives of US automakers.

March 28, 2007.

Fidel Castro


Farmers to Plant Most Amount of Corn Since ’44
March 31, 2007

American farmers are planning to plant more corn this year
than anytime since World War II, as farmers rush to cash
in on high prices bolstered by the demand for ethanol.

The United States Department of Agriculture released
a report today on prospective plantings that estimated
that American farmers would plant 90.5 million acres
of corn in 2007, a 15 percent increase over last year
and the most since 1944.

Considered one of the most highly anticipated agriculture
reports in years, if not decades, the prospective plantings
report promises to have broad implications throughout the
agriculture, food and energy sectors.

The rush to plant corn comes at the cost of other crops,
particularly soybeans and cotton. The Department of Agriculture
said that if farmers followed through with their stated intentions,
soybean acreage would drop 11 percent and cotton acreage
would fall 20 percent.

“This year, we are planting wall-to-wall corn,” said Webb Bozeman,
a farmer in Flora, Miss., who normally plants cotton, corn
and soybeans. “Corn is profitable. Cotton is pretty much
break-even at best.”

Commodity markets reacted immediately to the report, with
corn futures falling 5 percent. Soybean futures also fell, about
3 percent, but they had gained more than 30 percent over the
last year on expectations that farmers would reduce acreage.
Cotton futures rose about 0.5 percent.

With corn prices expected to soften, at least temporarily,
the report should ease concerns about increases in food costs,
which had started to tick upwards.

David Driscoll, an analyst for Citigroup, said that while the corn
crop was still dependent on the weather, he said the report was
a positive sign that there would be enough corn to meet both
fuel and food needs and to replenish depleted corn inventories.

“The moral of the story is, if you dangle money in front of farmers,
they take it,” Mr. Driscoll said.

Farmers also said they planned to plant 60.3 million acres of wheat
this year, a 5 percent increase over 2006.


19) Statement of Protest Concerning the Unreasonable Bail Imposed
by the San Francisco Court, re: The San Francisco 8
By Three Former-Panthers: Larry Pinkney, Eddie Williams,
and Gerald Sanders Guest Commentators
March 29, 2007

The San Francisco 8 are being held in de facto terms with NO bail.
Reducing a so-called bail from five million to three million dollars
is like stealing a body from a grave and claiming that it was not
theft because the victim did not resist! It is utterly absurd, and
it is an insult to all justice loving people. In this case we the people
MUST resist this outrage! These men, who have been convicted
of nothing in this matter, are already being punished by the very
amount of their so-called bail, which is nothing more than
a ransom, NOT bail.

When the 9/11 attack occurred many saw it as a tragedy, but the
ruling elite, both Democrats and Republicans saw it as an opportunity
to undermine and liquidate all legal, democratic, and constitutional
rights that they felt stood in the way of them holding absolute power.

There are counter-examples to this bastardized version of American
post-9/11 “justice”.

Bruce Wright, a New York City Judge, and author of “Black Robes,
White Justice” found himself in conflict with New York’s “Finest” over
his bail policy. The nickname, “Turn’em Loose Bruce”, was given
to him by the police “union” when he released an accused police
slasher on his own recognizance. Judge Wright pointed out that
“bail is not intended to be punishment. Rather, its function is to
guarantee that an accused person will return to court to face the
charges against him.” Judge Wright was adamant that his imposition
of low bail was both respect paid to the presumption of innocence
and an upholding the Eight Amendment, to the U.S. constitution,

Precisely who is it today that constitutes the real danger to the
Bill of Rights the court or the S.F. 8?

To ask the question is to answer it.

Exactly what does the Constitution and the Bill of Rights Guarantee?

All told, nothing!

We must never forget: The working class and the oppressed,
of this country, have no rights that they are unable or unwilling
to defend.

Only the conscious and uncompromising intervention of all those
who understand the true nature of this frame-up can free the
San Francisco 8.


20) Federal Agents Arrest 69 Immigrants in Baltimore in Raids
March 30, 2007

Immigration officers arrested 69 immigrants yesterday
in raids at a temporary job agency and eight sites where
the agency had placed workers in the Baltimore area,
including several warehouses in the city’s port.

The officers also seized $636,000 from the job agency,
Jones Industrial Network, and searched its offices. The
money was suspected of being proceeds from the employment
of illegal immigrants, according to James Dinkins, special
agent in charge in Baltimore for Immigration and Customs

Most of the arrests were made at a Baltimore packaging
plant belonging to Under Armour Inc., an athletic clothing
maker. In a statement, the company said the immigrants
worked for Jones Industrial Network and were not Under
Armour employees. Immigration officials said Under Armour
was not a target of the criminal investigation.

The raids were the latest in a series of high profile
operations by immigration authorities seeking to crack
down on employers of illegal immigrants. The raids have
sent a chill through many workplaces, as employers
scrambled to try to verify employment documents
and millions of illegal immigrant workers hoped
to avoid detection.

On March 6, immigration agents arrested more than
360 people at Michael Bianco Inc., a leather goods
manufacturer in New Bedford, Mass., including hundreds
of immigrant workers as well as the owner of the company,
Francesco Insolia, and three managers. Three days later,
state and federal charges were brought against Ivan Hardt,
the president of an Arizona construction company, Sun
Drywall and Stucco, and seven managers accused of
hiring illegal immigrants.

An uproar followed the New Bedford raid, with advocates
for the immigrants saying that children had been left alone
without their parents and that immigrants who were arrested
did not receive legal counsel.

In Baltimore, immigration agents seemed to go out of their
way to avoid another political furor. Immigrant advocates
there said agents contacted several groups ahead of time
to say there would be a raid. Representatives from Maryland
Child Protective Services and federal health officials
accompanied the agents on the raids. The immigration
agency set up a hotline for relatives of immigrants
who were arrested.

Immigration officials said 20 of the immigrants arrested
yesterday would be released on humanitarian grounds
at their deportation proceedings.

Mr. Dinkins said the investigation began a year ago with
a tip that illegal immigrants were employed in Baltimore’s
port. The immigrants arrested were accused of civil violations
of being in the country illegally. No managers from Jones
Industrial Network were arrested, but the authorities said
the criminal investigation remained open.

Jones Industrial Network shares a Baltimore telephone
number and office address with another temporary labor
agency, Jones Networking. A person who answered the phone
at the number said the two companies were separate,
but declined to comment further.


21) Rats in His Sights, and in His Backpack, Too
March 30, 2007

Robert M. Corrigan’s favorite table at his favorite Starbucks, just across
Park Row from City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan, looks out on an
ancient alley where he said rats often scamper.

He likes the view.

He liked it even better one afternoon last week when he strolled
through the alley and saw no rats at all.

Dr. Corrigan — he has a doctorate, in vertebrate pest management,
from Purdue University in Indiana, where he lives — was the expert
hired by a fast-food chain when television cameras zoomed
in on rats frolicking after hours in a KFC/Taco Bell in Greenwich
Village. But that is not his only job in New York.

He is also the star lecturer at the rodent control academy,
a three-day seminar for city employees from several agencies,
including the health department, and he was in New York last
week to provide additional training for city employees after
the restaurant episode, a health department spokeswoman said.

“I work at analyzing rat issues,” he explained. “I look at the
big picture, what a city can do to manage this kind of
a population.”

So what is the rat population in New York City? He was expecting
the question.

“We don’t know,” he said in the high tenor voice that carries
the telltale inflections of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he
spent his childhood. “We know the number of complaints
dropped, and the number of complaints about restaurants

He said the city has been working on something called indexing.
This involves focusing on specific neighborhoods, tracking
sightings and other evidence of rats, and estimating whether
the rat presence is minor, moderate or severe. A health
department spokeswoman said the program is still in its
early stages, and there are no findings to report yet.

“It just gives you an estimate,” he said. “I’m saying this:
Are there millions in New York? Yes. I don’t know if it’s 2 million
or 4.6 million. In some neighborhoods, there are probably four
per person, and in some, there are zero per person.”

At that moment, in fact, there was one rat very close to
Dr. Corrigan — a dead one, in his backpack. It is a visual
aid that comes in handy when he is teaching a class.

“I trapped it not too far from here,” he said, “and I stuffed it.
If you go to my house, I have a bunch of stuffed rats on
shelves and in the freezer.”

He also has a bunch of stuffed mice. One caused him some
trouble at a security checkpoint at Kennedy International
Airport several years ago.

The mouse was so small, Dr. Corrigan carried it his shirt
pocket. One tiny foot became stuck in the clip of his pen.
To his dismay — and more so to the dismay of the security
screener who was standing in range — the mouse went
flying when Dr. Corrigan emptied that pocket.

“The woman screamed,” Dr. Corrigan said. “She thought
I threw an animal at her.”

Dr. Corrigan has an endless supply of zippy, funny lines
that he can deliver like a standup comedian who has done
his act so often his timing is perfect. (“Sometimes I tell
people, when they ask what I do, ‘I’m a small-game
hunter.’ ”) But he is serious about his message, which
is that people need to rethink their approach to these
little animals that he says are both creatures of habit
and “creatures of quick adaptation.”

“In that way,” he added, “they’re the most successful
mammals on planet Earth.”

“One rat needs one ounce of food a day,” he said. “One
ounce. If you have lots of rats, ask yourself what are
they eating. Get rid of the food and you get rid of the rats.”

He favors the “interagency collaborative approach” because
he said it is pointless for one city agency — say, the parks
department — to deal with rats aboveground if the agencies
that control the infrastructure below ground do not deal
with them at the same time. That is the approach
of a multiagency rodent task force coordinated
by the health department.

Dr. Corrigan, 56, went to college hoping to be the next
Jacques Cousteau. He changed his mind, and his major,
after attending a lecture on rats and other urban animals.

Now, in addition to his work as a consultant to the city
and to companies that run restaurants like the infamous
KFC/Taco Bell on the Avenue of the Americas in Greenwich
Village, he is tackling a history project.

“I am trying to establish when the rat arrived in New York,”
he said. “We’re not even sure when the rat arrived in the
United States — it’s thought with British ships in the
Revolution, but I hypothesize the rat arrived earlier than
1777.” (In Virginia, by the way, according to Dr. Corrigan.)

And then he was off for a walk through the alley he likes
to watch from the Starbucks — Theater Alley, a shadowy
lane between Ann and Beekman Streets that ran behind
the stage door of the city’s most famous theater in the
early 19th century.

“Theater Alley has been fixed, you’re going to see,”
Dr. Corrigan said.

Still, he saw things that would appeal to rats: plastic bags
piled up by the curb, and what he called “food shrapnel”—
trash lying on the pavement. He also saw bait stations
containing rat poison and, as he stooped for a close look
at a manhole cover, he talked about the vermin food chain.

“At night, there are a lot of cockroaches,” he said. “Rats
chase them and eat them. When they eat a big cockroach,
it’s like eating a Big Mac: full of protein, and a rat needs
that for reproduction.”


22) The Surprising New Face of Cuban Jazz
March 30, 2007
[The Wall Street Journal is normally relentless in its hostility to
Cuba, but here it surprises by publishing a straight-forward friendly
interview with a Cuban artist who continues to live and work on the
island and does not have any desire to leave. They try to get him to
make some anti-government statement, which he doesn't do, he politely
declines the bait, and they don't attack him. Here's a guy who has
never known any other world but the Revolution. Lives and works in
Cuba, travels internationally, and voluntarily goes back home.
Walter Lippmann ]

If thinking of Cuban jazz conjures up images of old men playing in a
fog of cigar smoke and rum vapors, then pianist and producer Roberto
Fonseca should cause you to think again. Still in his early thirties,
the Havana native is the sharp-eyed, even-sharper-dressed rising star
of the genre. First dazzling Cuban audiences with an appearance at
the Jazz Plaza International Festival in the island's capital when he
was only 15, he has developed a growing fan base abroad over the past

Despite having no experience of life before the revolution, Mr.
Fonseca's supple piano style can evoke the 1940s and 1950s, when
Cuban and African-American musicians drew inspiration from each
other. With his lush arrangements and frequent shifts in tempo, his
work also betrays the eclecticism of someone who has dabbled in
everything from vintage R&B to the grinding beats of rap.

Aficionados of Cuban music focus on three pianists from the island:
Rubén González, Lili Martínez and Pedro Jústiz (better known by his
stage-name Peruchín). Judging by the praise he's received from his
elders -- "Boy, can the kid play!" was how Grammy-winning crooner
Ibrahim Ferrer put it -- and by his experience as a protégé of Mr.
González, Mr. Fonseca may soon join that list.

Mr. Fonseca produced "Mi Sueño" (My Dream), the final album by Mr.
Ferrer, who died in 2005 after a monthlong concert tour in Europe.
On the album, Mr. Fonseca helped Mr. Ferrer realize a longstanding
ambition of recording a series of tender love songs called boleros,
two of which he performed memorably with Omara Portuondo for Wim
Wenders's 1999 movie "Buena Vista Social Club."

Mr. Fonseca is also promoting his fourth solo album, "Zamazu," in
which he combines his passion for Afro-Cuban jazz with South American
grooves and rhythms. As well as his compatriots, Ms. Portuondo and
the bassist Orlando "Cachaíto" López, he recruited two of the most
illustrious figures in Brazilian music for its recording sessions:
the producer Alê Siqueira and the singer-drummer Carlinhos Brown.

Mr. Fonseca's European tour for the disc will take him to Vienna
(April 15), Munich (April 17), Madrid (April 26), Amsterdam (April
28), Brussels (April 29), Paris (May 9) and London (May 20).

Born in 1975, Mr. Fonseca was eight when he began learning the piano
and 14 when he started composing. But he initially entered show
business as a drummer with a Beatles tribute band. His interest in
drums has encouraged him to explore the percussive qualities of the

In 2000, Mr. Fonseca was invited to join the Orquesta Ibrahim Ferrer,
as support to the aging Rubén González. He spent hours observing the
stately ivory-tinkling of Mr. González, who made his recording debut
with the band-leader Arsenio Rodriguez in the 1940s.

A year later, Mr. Fonseca became the youngest member of the Buena
Vista Social Club lineup, taking the place occupied by Mr. González
on his retirement.

Mr. Fonseca spoke to David Cronin in Brussels.

Q: Did you grow up in a musical family?

Yes, there was music in our house 24 hours a day. My mum played the
piano and was a ballerina and my father was a drummer. I also have
two brothers: one plays piano, the other drums.

My mum was always singing boleros or classical melodies like those
from the Romeo and Juliet opera, whereas my brothers listened to
soul, funk and jazz.

I used to hear a lot of jazz on the radio, too. The first cassette I
bought was of Keith Jarrett.

Q: You played drums in your youth. Why did you decide to concentrate
on the piano?

The piano is one of the most complete instruments. You can use it to
make melodies or harmonies or as the rhythm section. When I realized
that, I decided to make the transition.

Q: What was it like being recruited to the Buena Vista Social Club?

I was a little scared. I greatly admired Rubén González and I said to
myself "I don't want to replace him." So, I just tried to bring my
own influences and put my own touch.

Q: It's more than a decade now since the Buena Vista Social Club
album was recorded and it remains one of the top-selling world music
albums in some European countries. Do you have any explanation for
its enduring popularity?

The music on that album is really fresh, clear, deep and natural.
I think people can relate to that.

The other reason it's so popular is that it features amazing
musicians: Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, Cachaíto López, Guajiro
Mirabal. The most wonderful thing that I noticed was the range of
people in our audience: from teenagers to old guys. This is music
that doesn't age.

Q: How do you feel about producing the last album that Ibrahim Ferrer

I think it's one of the most beautiful albums I'll ever work on
because I realized that Ibrahim was trying to pour all his life into

Q: Did you have any sense at the time that he didn't have long to

No, he seemed to be fine. He never gave any signs of being sick. It
was horrible, and it's still horrible. He was like my grandfather,
always teaching me different things about music and life.

He was really famous, this superstar of Cuban music, yet he never
acted like that. He was a simple guy, with no ego. The most beautiful
thing he helped me learn is no matter how important you are, you
should never forget where you come from.

Q: You have played with Western jazz musicians, including Herbie
Hancock. What was that like?

I was touring with Omara Portuondo in Japan and we were at the same
festival as Herbie Hancock. At the end of his shows, Herbie used to
call different musicians to jam with him. I was really surprised when
he called me and when we played on the same piano. He is one of the
best piano players in the world; he's like an idol for me.

Q: You've also worked with the Cuban hip-hop act Obsesión. Do you
think the growth of hip-hop in Cuba poses any threat to more
traditional idioms?

We listen to a lot of different music in Cuba: hip-hop, rock, jazz.
I'm open to new ways of playing Cuban music. My new album is not the
same as the older Cuban stuff you can hear. Cuban music is in a new
age but we'll never turn our backs on traditional music because it's
so beautiful.

Q: How did you become interested in Brazilian music?

Cuba and Brazil are really similar. We have Afro-Cuban music; they
have Afro-Brazilian. With this new album, we did the percussion and
drums in Carlinhos Brown's studio in Bahia. Alê Siqueira is a great
musician and a great producer. He showed respect for all my ideas and
was always determined to bring this baby to life.

Q: What does the title Zamazu mean?

Zamazu is a word that my niece made up. I liked it because everyone
can pronounce Zamazu without a problem, no matter where they come
from. I like language that doesn't have limits. The same goes for

Q: You've teamed up with the fashion designer Agnès B, who is
responsible for the suave outfits you wear onstage, including the
Byblos cotton and PVC hat featured on your new album cover. Are you
very image-conscious?

I met Agnès B, when she came to one of Ibrahim's concerts. I use her
clothes because they give me a style that I really like. It's
important for me to look good to people. When I look good, I feel

Q: Are you religious?

Yes, I believe in the Afro-Cuban religion Yoruba, which is similar to
Catholicism. My music is 100% about spirituality and soul.

Q: Do you think the end of the Fidel Castro era will have any
implications for Cuban music?

That political stuff is for the Cuban embassy. I've come here to talk
about music.

Q: But as an artist, do you feel any obligation to protest about how
the Havana authorities have imprisoned and denied freedom of
expression to their political opponents?

No, I don't feel any obligation. I've had a freedom in playing music
and I've had a lot of support within Cuba and outside Cuba. I've gone
to the U.S. many times and traveled around the world without any


23) The Conscience of the Colonel
"Lt. Col. Stuart Couch volunteered to prosecute
terrorists. Then he decided one had been tortured"
March 31, 2007; Page A1

When the Pentagon needed someone to prosecute a Guantanamo Bay prisoner
linked to 9/11, it turned to Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch. A Marine Corps pilot
and veteran prosecutor, Col. Couch brought a personal connection to the job:
His old Marine buddy, Michael "Rocks" Horrocks, was co-pilot on United 175,
the second plane to strike the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The prisoner in question, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, had already been suspected
of terrorist activity. After the attacks, he was fingered by a senior al
Qaeda operative for helping assemble the so-called Hamburg cell, which
included the hijacker who piloted United 175 into the South Tower. To Col.
Couch, Mr. Slahi seemed a likely candidate for the death penalty.

"Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands,"
Col. Couch says.

But, nine months later, in what he calls the toughest decision of his
military career, Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution.
The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi's incriminating statements -- the
core of the government's case -- had been taken through torture, rendering
them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.

The Slahi case marks a rare instance of a military prosecutor refusing to
bring charges because he thought evidence was tainted by torture. For Col.
Couch, it also represented a wrenching personal challenge. Laid out starkly
before him was a collision between the government's objectives and his moral

These kinds of concerns will likely become more prevalent as other
high-level al Qaeda detainees come before military commissions set up by the
Bush administration. Guantanamo prosecutors estimate that at least 90% of
cases depend on statements taken from prisoners, making the credibility of
such evidence critical to any convictions. In Mr. Slahi's case, Col. Couch
would uncover evidence the prisoner had been beaten and exposed to
psychological torture, including death threats and intimations that his
mother would be raped in custody unless he cooperated.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi attracted the attention of U.S. intelligence as early
as 1998, years before he would be suspected of indirectly helping to round
up future hijackers for the 9/11 attacks. Read more1.

Raised in Asheboro, N.C., Col. Couch, now 41 years old, was an Eagle Scout,
a graduate of Duke and commander of his Naval ROTC battalion. An Anglican,
Col. Couch says he counts among his heroes two men known for making a public
commitment to their faith: C.S. Lewis, the academic and book author, and
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor hanged by the Nazis in 1945.

In 1987, Col. Couch joined the Marines to be a pilot before an assignment on
the squadron's legal desk inspired him to enroll in law school. After
graduating from Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C., he was assigned to
the team prosecuting a flight crew for a 1998 incident in Aviano, Italy,
where a Marine Prowler clipped a ski gondola cable, killing 20. He still
keeps in touch with relatives of the accident's victims.

Col. Couch left active duty but found private practice boring. After 9/11,
he asked to return to the military. When President Bush issued his Nov. 13,
2001 order creating the first iteration of military commissions, he

"I did that to get a crack at the guys who attacked the United States," he
says. "I wanted to do what I could do with the skill set that I had."

Col. Couch began his assignment at the Office of Military Commissions in
August 2003. Soon after arriving at the commissions' offices in Crystal
City, Arlington, Va., he was handed files on several Guantanamo prisoners.
The Slahi file stood out as the one directly connected to 9/11.

Mr. Slahi, now 37, is the eighth of 12 children born to a Mauritanian camel
herder, according to his lawyers. He studied electrical engineering in
Germany and later ran an Internet cafe. Before 9/11, U.S. authorities tried
unsuccessfully to link him to the so-called Millennium Plot to blow up Los
Angeles International Airport. Mauritanian authorities picked him up after
Sept. 11, and shipped him to Jordan, according to testimony he gave to a
Guantanamo detention board.

The U.S. got a break one year later, when Ramzi Binalshibh, a top al Qaeda
operative, was captured in Pakistan. He told the CIA that in 1999, Mr. Slahi
sent him and three future 9/11 hijackers -- Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and
Marwan al-Shehhi -- from Germany to Pakistan, and then to al Qaeda
headquarters in Afghanistan. There, according to the 9/11 Commission, Mr.
bin Laden assigned them to the 9/11 operation.

But beyond Mr. Binalshibh's uncorroborated statements, Col. Couch had little
additional evidence.

In Crystal City, morale was sinking. Several junior officers complained
that, in its rush to win convictions, the office was proceeding with shaky
cases, overlooking allegations of abuse and failing to protect exculpatory
evidence. Allegations of torture at places such as Abu Ghraib had not yet
surfaced, but some officers were starting to express their unease in
private. A handful of prosecutors would later quit rather than take part in
trials they considered rigged.
Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch stands before his KC-130 during a 1992 mission to

Subsequent internal reviews found no criminal wrongdoing, but prompted a
shake-up in which the then-chief military commissions prosecutor was ousted.

Col. Couch had his own misgivings. On his first visit to Guantanamo in
October 2003, he recalls preparing to watch an interrogation of a detainee
when he was distracted by heavy-metal music. Accompanied by an escort, he
saw a prisoner shackled to a cell floor, rocking back and forth, mumbling as
strobe lights flashed. Two men in civilian dress shut the cell door and told
Col. Couch to move along.

"Did you see that?" he asked his escort. The escort replied: "Yeah, it's
approved," Col. Couch says. The treatment resembled the abuse he had been
trained to resist if captured; he never expected Americans would be the ones
employing it.

The incident "started keeping me up at night," he says. "I couldn't stop
thinking about it."

Col. Couch contacted a senior Marine lawyer who had been an informal mentor.
The officer said: "I know there's a lot of stuff going on, and that's why we
need people like yourself in this situation," Col. Couch recalls. "You're
shirking your responsibility if you've got issues and you're not willing to
do something about it."

"He was looking for a sanity check, asking: 'Am I crazy or does this smell
bad to you?' " the Marine lawyer, now a retired brigadier general recalls.
"My response was, 'yeah, this is a problem and you need to work this
problem.' "

Col Couch's wife, Kim, a nurse, says her husband began to rue each coming
week. "I called it the Sunday Night Blues," she says. "It got worse and

Under the Pentagon structure, Col. Couch had no direct contact with his
potential defendants, but received instead summaries of their statements. In
late 2003, Mr. Slahi suddenly started corroborating the Binalshibh

"After a while, I just couldn't keep up with him because things were coming
out every day," Col. Couch says. "He was giving like a "Who's Who" of al
Qaeda in Germany and all of Europe."

The sanitized reports reaching Col. Couch made no mention of what spurred
this cooperation. Intelligence agencies refused to share all the information
they had on the prisoner.

A colleague let on that Mr. Slahi had begun the "varsity program" -- an
informal name for the Special Interrogation Plan authorized by then-Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the most recalcitrant Guantanamo prisoners.

Col. Couch says he and his case investigator, an agent detailed from the
Naval Criminal Investigative Service, began an "under the table" effort to
find out what made Mr. Slahi break. Col. Couch says he was suspicious about
the sudden change, and felt he needed to know all the circumstances before
bringing the case to trial.

"It was like Hansel and Gretel, following bread crumbs," Col. Couch says.
The agent spoke to intelligence officers and others with more direct
knowledge, pursued documents with details of the interrogations, and passed
his findings on to the prosecutor.

What emerged, Col. Couch believed, was torture.

Initially, Mr. Slahi said he was pleased to be taken to Guantanamo. "I
thought, this is America, not Jordan, and they are not going to beat you,"
he told his detention hearing. But after Mr. Binalshibh named him as a top
al Qaeda member, "my life...changed dramatically," Mr. Slahi said.

The account of Mr. Slahi's treatment has been pieced together from
interviews with government officials, official reports and testimony, as
well as Mr. Slahi's attorneys and Col. Couch. Col. Couch wouldn't discuss
classified information, including aspects of the Slahi interrogation
involving the CIA.

Initially, Mr. Slahi denied having al Qaeda connections, frustrating his
interrogators. On May 22, 2003, a Federal Bureau of Investigation
interrogator said, "this was our last session; he told me that I was not
going to enjoy the time to come."

In the following weeks, Mr. Slahi said, he was placed in isolation,
subjected to extreme temperatures, beaten and sexually humiliated. The
detention-board transcript states that at this point, "the recording
equipment began to malfunction." It summarizes Mr. Slahi's missing testimony
as discussing "how he was tortured while here at GTMO by several

Mr. Slahi was put under more intense interrogation. On July 17, 2003, a
masked interrogator told Mr. Slahi he had dreamed of watching detainees dig
a grave, according to a 2005 Pentagon report into detainee abuse at
Guantanamo, headed by Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt and Army Brig. Gen.
John Furlow. (Gen. Furlow later testified that Mr. Slahi was "the highest
value detainee" at Guantanamo, "the key orchestrator of the al Qaeda cell in
[Bob Swann]

The interrogator said he saw "a plain, pine casket with [Mr. Slahi's]
identification number painted in orange lowered into the ground." Three days
later, the interrogator told Mr. Slahi "that his family was 'incarcerated,'"
the report said.

On Aug. 2, an interrogation chief visited the prisoner posing as a White
House representative named "Navy Capt. Collins," the report said. He gave
the prisoner a forged memorandum indicating that Mr. Slahi's mother was
being shipped to Guantanamo, and that officials had concerns about her
safety as the only woman amid hundreds of male prisoners, according a person
familiar with the matter.

"Capt. Collins" told Mr. Slahi "that if he wanted to help his family he
should tell them everything they wanted to know," the report continued.

The same day, an interrogator made a "death threat" to Mr. Slahi, Gen.
Schmidt said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. According
to records cited by the report, the interrogator advised Mr. Slahi "to use
his imagination to think of the worst possible scenario he could end up in."

In his detention-board testimony, Mr. Slahi provided further details, as did
other people familiar with the matter. Two men took a shackled, blindfolded
Mr. Slahi to a boat for a journey into the waters of Guantanamo Bay. The
hour-long trip apparently led Mr. Slahi to think he was to be killed and, in
fear, he urinated in his pants.

After making land, "two Arab guys" took him away, beat him and turned him
over to a "doctor who was not a regular doctor [but] part of the team," Mr.
Slahi said. The doctor "was cursing me and telling me very bad things. He
gave me a lot of medication to make me sleep," Mr. Slahi said. After two or
three weeks, Mr. Slahi said, he broke, "because they said to me, either I am
going to talk or they will continue to do this."

On Sept. 8, 2003, according to the Pentagon report, Mr. Slahi asked to see
"Capt. Collins." Mr. Slahi corroborated the account of Mr. Binalshibh and
provided an extensive list of other al Qaeda names.

In later testimony to the Army Inspector General, Gen. Schmidt said he
concluded that the interrogation chief "was a rogue guy," a "zealot" who
"essentially was having a ball." A Pentagon spokesman says the interrogation
chief, who invoked his right against self-incrimination and didn't testify,
was not court-martialed. The spokesman declines to say what discipline he

Military and law-enforcement officials started warning the Bush
administration in 2002 that its unorthodox interrogation practices, which
the president has called "tough" and "necessary," were hurting the ability
of prosecutors to bring cases to court. Officials expect the concern to
arise in particular with 14 "high-value" al Qaeda suspects transferred to
Guantanamo in September after years of secret CIA interrogation. They
include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who claimed responsibility for
planning 9/11. Some detainees, including Mr. Mohammed, have alleged they
were tortured. Pentagon reviews documented cruel and degrading treatment,
while declining to classify such abuse as torture.

"There's a serious question of whether they will ever be able to
legitimately prosecute those individuals," if necessary evidence was
produced through torture, says retired Maj. Gen. Thomas Romig, who served as
the Army's top uniformed lawyer, the judge advocate general, from 2001 to

Gen. Romig, recently appointed dean at Washburn University law school,
Topeka, Kan., says within the government "there was a view that we have got
to get intelligence out of these guys, and we don't care we if we prosecute
them or not."

The military commissions trying the cases of foreign terrorists don't hew to
the rules that govern civilian courts or courts-martial. The 2006 Military
Commissions Act permits use of evidence obtained before Dec. 30, 2005,
through "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods, although it bars any obtained
by torture.

Top U.S. government officials won't specify which practices cross the line
beyond stating that prisoners should be treated "humanely." Such ambiguity
has forced decision-making down the chain of command. Even Guantanamo's
chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Moe Davis, says he's still not sure how the
United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment applies to military commissions.

A report into abuses at Guantanamo concluded that the "threats" made to Mr.
Slahi "do not rise to the level of torture as defined under U.S. law" but
did violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs the conduct
of the armed forces. The Pentagon won't say how the report reached that

By May 2004, Col. Couch had most of the picture relating to Mr. Slahi's
treatment, and faced a painful dilemma: Could he seek a conviction based on
statements he thought were taken through torture, as permitted by President
Bush's November 2001 military commission order citing a "state of
emergency?" Or was he nonetheless bound by the Torture Convention, which
bars using statements taken "as a result of evidence in any

The convention says "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" can be cited
to justify torture, which it defines broadly. The 1994 federal statute
implementing the treaty contains additional definitions, including the
"threat of imminent death" or "severe physical pain or suffering," as well
as the actual or threatened use of "mind-altering substances or other
procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality."

Col. Couch was uneasy over interfering with plans to try Mr. Slahi, given
the detainee's history. He turned to others with his dilemma, including
Marine lawyers he knew and his wife's two brothers -- one a Protestant
theologian, the other a retired Marine infantry officer. Because of the
classified nature of the information, Col. Couch didn't give them specifics
about the case, and spoke only in generalities. Their advice conflicted.

"He wanted to be a good solider and yet on the other hand felt his duty to
his God to be the greatest duty that he had," recalls Bill Wilder, director
of educational ministries at the Center for Christian Study,
Charlottesville, Va. "He said more than once to me that human beings are
created in the image of God and as a result we owe them a certain amount of

Mr. Wilder says he agreed with Col. Couch's concerns. "Stuart, you need to
pray about this," Mr. Wilder says he advised.

Briant Wilder, the other brother and a former Marine lieutenant, urged Col.
Couch to instead consider the context of the war on terrorism, where
obtaining intelligence could be crucial to protecting innocent lives.

"I have to also say that I don't agree with everybody's definition of
torture," Mr. Wilder says. "If some of the things that people say are
torture were torture, then I was tortured at Officer Candidate School at
Quantico. And so was he."

In May 2004, attending a baptism at Virginia's Falls Church, Col. Couch
joined the congregation in reciting the liturgy. The reading concluded, as
is typical, with the priest asking if congregants will "respect the dignity
of every human being."

"When I heard that, I knew I gotta get off the fence," Col. Couch says.
"Here was somebody I felt was connected to 9/11, but in our zeal to get
information, we had compromised our ability to prosecute him." He says, in
retrospect, the tipping point came with the forged letter about Mr. Slahi's
mother. "For me, that was just, enough is enough. I had seen enough, I had
heard enough, I had read enough. I said: 'That's it.' "

In May 2004, at a meeting with the then-chief prosecutor, Army Col. Bob
Swann, Col. Couch dropped his bombshell. He told Col. Swann that in addition
to legal reasons, he was "morally opposed" to the interrogation techniques
"and for that reason alone refused to participate in [the Slahi] prosecution
in any manner."

Col. Swann was indignant, Col. Couch says, replying: "What makes you think
you're so much better than the rest of us around here?"

Col. Couch says he slammed his hand on Col. Swann's desk and replied:
"That's not the issue at all, that's not the point!"

An impassioned debate followed, the prosecutor recalls. Col. Swann said the
Torture Convention didn't apply to military commissions. Col. Couch asked
his superior to cite legal precedent that would allow the president to
disregard a treaty. The meeting ended when Col. Swann asked the prosecutor
to turn over the Slahi files so the case could be reassigned, Col. Couch

Through a spokesman, Col. Swann declined to comment for this article. Col.
Swann retired from the Army in 2005. He continues, as a civilian employee,
to serve as deputy chief prosecutor, playing a major role in commission

Other trial prosecutors in the office say they respected Col. Couch's
decision. "I thought his conduct was perfectly appropriate and I agreed with
his approach," says retired Navy Cmdr. Scott Lang, now a state prosecutor in

A week later, Col. Couch put his position in writing and asked that his
concerns be raised with the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes
II. The legal adviser to the military commissions office, Air Force Brig.
Gen. Thomas Hemingway, says: "Mr. Haynes was not informed of the issues
raised by Lt. Col. Couch nor did he expect to be told about all internal
operations within the Office of Military Commissions."

Gen. Hemingway says Col. Swann "was aware the interrogation techniques used
were under investigation at the time Lt. Col. Couch expressed misgivings
about the information he had received. Col. Swann removed Lt. Col. Couch
from the case to assuage his concerns."

In a written statement, the Defense Department says it "cannot comment on
Mohamedou Ould Slahi because he is under investigation. It would be
inappropriate for us to discuss ongoing cases that are pending prosecution."

In March 2005, Col. Couch considered quitting, frustrated by how the office
was run. Lt. Col. Daniel Daugherty, one of Col. Couch's best friends, urged
him in an email to reconsider. "Personally I would rather be fired than
quit," Col. Daugherty wrote. "Being fired for your ethics is (in my view)
better than walking away."

With the Slahi prosecution on ice, Col. Couch continued work on other cases
-- including another "varsity program" prisoner, Mohammmed al-Qahtani, who,
according to army report overseen by Gens. Schmidt and Furlow, had been made
to wear women's underwear, leashed, forced to perform dog tricks and berated
as a homosexual. Col. Couch refused to use statements obtained during these
interrogations. But he determined the prosecution could continue based on a
separate source of evidence compiled by the FBI before Mr. Qahtani's
Guantanamo interrogation.

He was also one of the prosecutors who worked on the case of Salim Hamdan,
Mr. bin Laden's former driver. Mr. Hamdan's case would eventually go to the
Supreme Court, which used the case to strike down the administration's first
attempt to create a military commissions system.

Col. Davis, the Guantanamo chief prosecutor, says Mr. Slahi remains among
the 75 or so prisoners potentially eligible for trial. He says no one is
assigned to the case and that it's unclear when Mr. Slahi will be charged,
due to Col. Couch's concerns and a staff shortage.

Today, Mr. Slahi is detained in private quarters at Guantanamo Bay, with a
television, a computer and a tomato patch to tend, according to people
familiar with the matter. "Since 2004, I really have no complaints," Mr.
Slahi told a military detention board.

He has asked to be resettled in the U.S., an option Pentagon officials have
not ruled out. Col. Davis declines to comment on plea negotiations. A lawyer
representing Mr. Slahi, Nancy Hollander, says that if charged with a crime,
Mr. Slahi would plead not guilty.

In a September 2006 letter to his attorneys, Mr. Slahi joked about their
request that he detail his discussions with interrogators.

"Are you out of your mind! How can I render uninterrupted interrogation that
has been lasting the last 7 years. That's like asking Charlie Sheen how many
women he dated," Mr. Slahi writes. He divided his time into pre- and
post-torture eras. In the latter, he wrote, "I yessed every accusation my
interrogators made."

Col. Couch had been assigned to the prosecutor's office for a three year
stint. When it came to an end, Col. Couch decided not to renew his
assignment. He says there was no attempt to remove him from office.

After he left, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld awarded Col. Couch the Defense
Meritorious Service Medal for his work on Guantanamo prosecutions as is
typical when officers move on to new assignments. The citation describes him
as "steady in faith, possessed by moral courage and relentless in the
pursuit of excellence."

In August 2006, he took on a new assignment as a judge on the Navy-Marine
Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.

Col. Couch says he's still frustrated that the actions of the U.S.
government helped ruin the case against Mr. Slahi. "I'm hoping there's some
non-tainted evidence out there that can put the guy in the hole," he says.


Read a transcript2 of Mr. Slahi's hearing before a Combatant Status Review
Tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
* * *
Read the unclassified summary3 of the spring 2005 Schmidt-Furlow report
presenting the results of a Pentagon investigation into detainee abuse at
Guantanamo. The section detailing Mr. Slahi's treatment is headed "second
special interrogation plan," on page 21.
* * *
Read a transcript4 of Mr. Slahi's Administrative Review Board hearing at
Guantanamo Bay in December 2005.
* * *
See the Defense Meritorious Service Medal5 and citation awarded to Col.
Couch by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in September 2006.
* * *
Read a letter6 Mr. Slahi sent to his attorneys, Nancy Hollander and Sylvia
Royce, from Guantanamo Bay on Nov. 9, 2006.


Note: Op-Eds from the Times can't be viewed without subscription to
Times Select. They are posted here only after I have previously published
them in full and they can still be found on the archive at


The Fake Fight Over the Iraq War
That Was an Antiwar Vote?
March 31 / April 1, 2007
Weekend Edition

Judge Allows Private Testing for Mad Cow
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writers
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Residents of Fallujah Fear a US 'Genocidal Strategy'

Gulf Hits Snags in Rebuilding Public Works
March 31, 2007

Bill to Legalize Abortion Set to Pass in Mexico City
March 31, 2007

Olmert Rejects Right of Return for Palestinians
March 31, 2007

How did the real hero of the anti-slavery movement
get airbrushed out of history?

Disuse of System Is Cited in Gaps in Soldiers’ Care
March 30, 2007

New York City to Reward Poor for Doing Right Thing
March 30, 2007

White House Proposal Would Move Illegal Immigrants
Off the Citizenship Path
White House officials have issued a discussion document
on immigration that calls for legislation that would grant
legal status to illegal immigrants and guest workers, but
would not put them on a path to citizenship. It would allow
illegal immigrants to remain in the country indefinitely,
under certain conditions, and would require guest workers
to leave the country after six years. The document, drafted
after several meetings with Republican senators, was
designed to garner broad Republican support for key
immigration principals. Democratic and Republican
senators are negotiating in hope of coming to a consensus
on an immigration bill.
March 30, 2007

Cuba: Castro Criticizes U.S. Biofuel Policies
The Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, lashed out against American plans
to increase use of renewable fuels, mainly ethanol, in a front-page
article in the Communist Party newspaper, Granma, warning that
food stocks for millions of people would be threatened. The article,
titled “Condemned to Premature Death by Hunger and Thirst —
More Than 3 Billion People of the World,” said that if the United
States and other wealthy nations decided to import huge amounts
of traditional crops like corn from poorer countries to help meet
their energy needs, “you will see how many people among the hungry
masses of our planet will no longer consume corn.” “Or even worse,”
it continued, “by offering financing to poor countries to produce
ethanol from corn or any other kind of food, no tree will be left
to defend humanity from climate change.” They were his first
comments on international issues since Mr. Castro took ill last July.
In recent weeks, several senior Cuban officials have indicated that
he might soon take a more active role and even return
to the presidency.
March 30, 2007

Opposition to the War Growing Among Troops
by Sarah Olson
March 30, 2007

Two Radical Immigrants, Framed for Murder, Executed by the State
Sacco and Vanzetti Revisited
March 29, 2007

Havana rights
Plans to legalise gay marriage and offer sex change
operations free of charge mean Cuba is set to become
the most socially liberal country in the Americas.
March 28, 2007 8:30 PM

Eighteen Months After Katrina
"When it is all said and done, there has been a lot more said than done."

Study Says Junk Food Still Dominates Youth TV
March 29, 2007

Located in Hospital, DNA Clears Buffalo Man Convicted in ’80s Rapes
March 29, 2007

Texas: Deal on Juvenile Prisons
Lawmakers and the governor vowed to abolish the Texas Youth
Commission’s board in favor of a juvenile prison czar. The plan
puts the agency into a conservatorship for now and allows a single
executive to take it over later. The commission has been in turmoil
since a two-year-old sexual abuse investigation surfaced a month
ago. Lawmakers still must introduce legislation and vote on the plan.
Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, made Jay Kimbrough the conservator.
Mr. Kimbrough, left, said that he would fire immediately 111
commission employees who have felony convictions and that
superintendents of commission facilities and other top officials
would have to reapply for their jobs.
March 29, 2007

California: Sentences in Immigrant Hiring
Two executives at a fence-building company were sentenced
to six months of home confinement for hiring illegal immigrants.
The men, Mel Kay, founder, chairman and president of the business,
Golden State Fence Company of Riverside, and Michael McLaughlin,
a manager, had pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
In addition, the two were sentenced to three years’ probation.
Also, Mr. Kay was fined $200,000; McLaughlin agreed
to pay $100,000.
March 29, 2007

Colleges Hiring Lenders to Field Queries on Aid
March 29, 2007

Street Violence by Paris Youths Intrudes Again Into French Politics
March 29, 2007

Inside the secretive plan to gut the Endangered Species Act
"Proposed regulatory changes, obtained by Salon, would destroy the
'safety net for animals and plants on the brink of extinction,'
say environmentalists.'
By Rebecca Clarren

Pennsylvania: Negligence Is Cited in Deadly Mine Explosion
Federal investigators found “flagrant violations” at a Pennsylvania
mine where a worker died last year in a methane gas explosion, the
federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said. The R&D Coal
Company did not ensure adequate ventilation, safe blasting practices
or proper preshift safety checks at the mine, Buck Mountain Slope,
directly contributing to the Oct. 23 death of Dale Reightler, 43,
a veteran miner, federal officials said. The miners conducting the
blasting that day were not qualified to handle explosives and set
them off before other miners could get to a safe area, investigators
found. State regulators have revoked R&D’s permit to operate the
Buck Mountain site, in Schuylkill County about 80 miles northwest
of Philadelphia. R&D officers did not respond to requests for comment.
March 27, 2007

Black Politicians Chicken Out on Reparations
Black Press International

Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day
March 26, 2007

Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers
March 26, 2007

Chavez Launches Formation of Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela
Sunday, Mar 25, 2007
By: Chris Carlson -

Four Years Later in Iraq
Where are the Laptop Bombardiers Now?
Weekend Edition
March 24 / 25, 2007

The Women’s War
Editors' Note Appended
March 18, 2007

City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention
For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention,
teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities
across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations
of people who planned to protest at the convention, according
to police records and interviews.
March 25, 2007

Another Casualty: Coverage of the Iraq War
Dahr Jamail | March 23, 2007
Editor: Erik Leaver, IPS and John Feffer, IRC
Foreign Policy In Focus
"Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.
Along with names and dates, the Brussels Tribunal has listed
the circumstances under which Iraqi media personnel have been
killed since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. This
extremely credible report cites 195 as dead. If non-Iraqi media
representatives are included, the figure goes beyond 200.
Both figures are well in excess of the media fatalities suffered
in Vietnam or during World War II."

Kentucky: New Mine Rules
Coal mines will get increased scrutiny from state inspectors under
legislation signed into law by Gov. Ernie Fletcher. The law will require
inspectors from the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing to double
their visits to underground coal mines to a minimum of six a year.
Two of the annual inspections must focus on electrical work inside
mines. The law also requires at least one member of every underground
crew to have a detector to monitor for the explosive gas methane.
Miners working alone would also have a detector. The law follows
one of the deadliest years in recent history for Kentucky coal miners;
16 miners were killed in 2006.
March 24, 2007

Three Detectives Are Indicted in 50-Shot Killing in Queens
March 17, 2007

Taming Fossil Fuels
The importance of these projects cannot be overstated. As a report
released Wednesday by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology observed, coal produces more than 30 percent of America’s
carbon dioxide emissions."
March 17, 2007

Utah Sets Rigorous Rules for School Clubs, and Gay Ones May Be Target
March 17, 2007

Cuba -- How scared should we be?

The Ides of March 2003
Op-Ed Columnist
March 18, 2007

In March, Protesters Recall War Anniversaries
March 18, 2007

The Army, After Iraq
March 18, 2007

Death of a Marine
Op-Ed Columnist
March 19, 2007

The Medicaid Documentation Mess
March 19, 2007

Tens of Thousands March on the Pentagon
Riot Police Block Buses and Deny Access to People
Coming to the Demonstration, plus, full
Message from Immortal Technique
on being denied entrance to the March
on the Pentagon
March 17, 2007

Students’ Right to Free Speech
March 20, 2007

Stepping on the Dream
Op-Ed Columnist
March 22, 2007

Congress’s Challenge on Iraq
March 22, 2007

Illegal Worker, Troubled Citizen and Stolen Name
March 22, 2007

Abolishing the Middlemen Won’t Make Health Care a Free Lunch
March 22, 2007

Foreclosures Force Suburbs to Fight Blight
"Noting that the problem with the desertion numbers arises
when the service cannot find enough recruits to fill certain
crucial specialties like medical experts and bomb defusers..."
March 23, 2007

Army Revises Upward Number of Desertions in ’06
March 23, 2007

New to Job, Gates Argued for Closing Guantánamo
"Some administration lawyers are deeply reluctant to move
terrorism suspects to American soil because it could increase
their constitutional and statutory rights..."
March 23, 2007

State Takes Control of Troubled Public Schools in St. Louis
March 23, 2007

They’re Looking for a Few Good Coal Miners
"YOU load 16 tons, and what do you get? How about a paycheck,
vacations, a dental plan and a 401(k)?"
[The Army is looking for a few good bomb diffusers, too!]
March 23, 2007

California: The Land of Milk and Megadairies
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a plan Tuesday
for two 160-acre megadairies to be built across from Colonel Allensworth
State Historic Park, a site dedicated to the history of California’s first
and only black planned community. The county approved the proposal
by a local rancher to establish two dairies with some 16,000 cows near
the park, in a remote corner of the Central Valley. Citizens, including
some from the original Allensworth Colony, and environmentalists
have protested the plan.
March 23, 2007

California: Marijuana Card Ruling
An appeals court ruled that California’s medical marijuana law does
not automatically shield patients from searches by law enforcement.
The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the State Court of
Appeal said a Napa County sheriff’s deputy had probable cause to
search the vehicle of Gabriel Strasburg, who claimed to have a medical
marijuana card, in October 2005. The law limits patient possession
to eight ounces. The deputy claimed Mr. Strasburg had about 23
ounces and a scale and was smoking in a parked car. Mr. Strasburg
pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession but appealed, claiming
an unlawful search. In the decision, Justice James Marchiano said the
amount of marijuana found in the search left “a strong suggestion”
that Mr. Strasburg “was using the act as a façade to conceal illegal
March 23, 2007

Rat Poison Found in Tainted Pet Food
Filed at 1:09 p.m. ET
March 23, 2007

French Court Rules for Newspaper That Printed Muhammad Cartoons
March 23, 2007

Kentucky: Soldier Pleads Guilty
A soldier pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the rape and murder
of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family. The soldier,
Pfc. Bryan Howard, 19, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct
justice. Under a plea deal, Private Howard will not serve more than
27 months if he obeys certain conditions. Private Howard’s rank will
be reduced, and he will be dishonorably discharged. He will also have
to testify against others charged in the attacks last year in Mahmoudiya,
20 miles south of Baghdad.
March 22, 2007

After Bell, Critics Want Mayor to Broaden Focus on Police
March 21, 2007

Israel Workers Launch General Strike
Filed at 3:45 a.m. ET
March 21, 2007

Britain Proposes Allowing Schools to Forbid Full-Face Muslim Veils
March 21, 2007

F.B.I. Is Warned Over Its Misuse of Data Collection
March 21, 2007

Doctors’ Ties to Drug Makers Are Put on Close View
March 21, 2007

No Paradise for Criminals Deported to Jamaica
March 21, 2007

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

Dems Abandon War Authority Provision
Associated Press
03.13.07, 12:28 AM ET

Defense Spending Soars to Highest Levels Since World War II

Iraqis Increasingly Pessimistic, Anti-US


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FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
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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])