Saturday, April 28, 2007



Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


March for Unconditional Amnesty
Celebrating International Workers Day
No Work, No Shopping, No School -- Join the March for Amnesty!
Tues. May 1, 12noon
Gather at Dolores Park, (Dolores & 18th St) San Francisco,
March to Civic Center, 1pm rally


TUESDAY, MAY 1, 7-9:00 P.M.


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


Hands Off Venezuela:
Jorge Martin Speaking Tour Date in San Francisco
When: Wednesday, May 9, 2007, 7:00 PM
Where: Center for Political Education,
3rd Floor Auditorium
522 Valencia, near 16th St.
(ring bell; not wheelchair accessible)
Cost: $5/$3 students, seniors, unemployed
Transit: BART station, 16th St.
Parking nearby: Mission & Bartlett Garage;
16th & Hoff Garage
Visit our websites at:



Stand with Mumia Abu-Jamal May 17 in Philadelphia
and San Francisco.

On May 17, 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal's lead attorney, Robert
R. Bryan, will present oral arguments to the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Despite
a mountain of evidence of his innocence, a U.S. criminal
"justice" system saturated with race and class bias has
reduced his case to just four issues: exclusion of Blacks
from the jury panel, racial bias, improper instructions
to the jury regarding the death penalty and prosecutorial

In a 1982 frame-up trial that has been condemned by groups
and individuals including Amnesty International, the
European Parliament, the NAACP, the National Lawyers
Guild, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa,
President Jacques Chirac of France, the Congressional
Black Caucus, hundreds of U.S. and international trade
unions and the Detroit, San Francisco, and Paris, France
city councils, Mumia was falsely convicted of the murder
of a Philadelphia police officer.

Six eyewitnesses stated that the real
killer fled the murder scene while
Mumia himself was found near dead next
to the slain police officer.
Critical evidence of Mumia's innocence
was destroyed or withheld.
"Witnesses" never at the murder scene
were coerced to state that they were
present. Police distorted events and
material evidence at the murder scene.
Mumia himself was excluded from the
majority of his own trial.

Mumia was the victim of a political
frame-up. He is an award-winning
journalist, whose widely-respected
social commentaries are today broadcast
on 124 radio stations. In 1981, as
a radio commentator and President of the
Philadelphia Association of Black
Journalists, he was a leading human
rights critic of the Philadelphia Police
Department, many of whose officers had
been indicted and convicted on charges
of corruption, witness intimidation and
the planting of evidence.

Mumia's judge, Albert Sabo, was overheard
by court stenographer, Terri
Maurer Carter, to say in his antechambers
about Mumia, "Yeah, and I'm going
to help 'em fry the n----r."

Mumia has been on death row nearly 25 years.
He has become a worldwide symbol in
the fight against the barbaric and
racist death penalty. Pennsylvania
authorities seek, for the third time,
to impose the death penalty and
murder Mumia by lethal injection. We must
make the political price of this
execution and continued incarceration
too high to pay. We stand with Mumia as
he fights for his legal right to a new
trial and for his life and freedom.

Join us in Philadelphia on Thursday,
May 17, 9:30 am at the U.S.
Courthouse, 6th and Market Streets,
Philadelphia. On the East Coast call:
215-476-8812. On the West Coast, we
mobilize at the U.S. Court of Appeals
Building, 7th Street and Mission, San
Francisco, 4-6 pm. Call: 415-255-1085

Pam Africa; Ed Asner; Harry Belafonte;
Heidi Boghosian, Exec. Dir, *National
Lawyers Guild; Angela Davis; Hari Dillon,
President, Vanguard Public Foundation;
Eve Ensler; Bill Fletcher Jr., Co-founder,
*Center for Labor Renewal; Danny Glover;
Frances Goldin; Rick Halperin, President,
*Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty;
Dolores Huerta; Barbara Lubin, Dir., *Middle
East Children's Alliance; Jeff Mackler; Robbie
Meeropol, Exec. Dir., *Rosenberg Fund for
Children; Michael Ratner, President, *Center
for Constitutional Rights; Lynne Stewart;
Alice Walker; Cornel West; Howard Zinn
*Organization listed for identification
purposes only.


Please make checks payable to: Mobilization
to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 298
Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. -;

Sponsors: The Mobilization to Free Mumia
Abu-Jamal (Northern California);
International Concerned Family and Friends
of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Coalition (NYC); Chicago Committee to Free
Mumia Abu-Jamal; Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal




1) For Indian Victims of Sexual Assault, a Tangled Legal Path
April 25, 2007

2) Group Proposes Detailed Plan to Reduce Poverty by Half
April 25, 2007

3) Bush Presses Schools Plan During Trip to New York
[Bush pushes reauthorization of No Child Left Behind Law,
"...which, among other things, ties federal school financing
to performance-based results over time, measured by annual,
standardized tests." Unfortunately, it also ties Federal
school funds to allowing each branch of the military access
to the schools and the students--two recruiters
from each branch of the military, in fact--for the purposes
of recruitment--each time a College, University, Technical
or other schools such as beauty and culinary schools; or
Union apprentice programs; or special scholarship opportunities
are presented to students at any time. The military is also
allowed access to schools from kindergarten up. Just read
the U.S. Army School Recruiting Program Handbook available
at There is also a link to the text of the
current No Child Left Behind Law at our]
April 25, 2007

4) New Planet Could Be Earthlike, Scientists Say
April 25, 2007

5) The Coming Attack Against Auto Workers--And You
April 25, 2007

6) Gilded Once More
Op-Ed Columnist
April 27, 2007

7) After the Lawyers
April 27, 2007

8) Echoes of Terror Case Haunt California Pakistanis
April 27, 2007

9) Prosecutors Say Corruption in Atlanta Police Dept. Is Widespread
April 27, 2007

10) California to Address Prison Overcrowding
With Giant Building Program
April 27, 2007

11) Human Risk Played Down in Bad Feed
April 27, 2007

12) Police Subdue Man, Who Dies
April 27, 2007

13) For $82 a Day, Booking a Cell in a 5-Star Jail
April 29, 2007

14) The Abstinence-Only Delusion
April 28, 2007

15) Somali Capital Now Calm After Month
in Which 1,000 Were Killed
April 28, 2007

16) Ethiopia bought arms from North Korea with U.S. assent
By Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti
Sunday, April 8, 2007

17) San Francisco Bay Area Reacts Angrily
to Series of Immigration Raids
April 28, 2007

18)Hold the reforms -- Castro is back
"Cuba's leader is reasserting some leadership
roles. That's bad news for those who hoped to ease
economic strictures."
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer
April 28, 2007,0,4583238.story?coll=la-home-headlines


1) For Indian Victims of Sexual Assault, a Tangled Legal Path
April 25, 2007

As a Cherokee woman charging rape by a non-Indian, Jami Rozell
could not go to the tribal court, which handles only crimes
by Indians against Indians in Indian country. So after five
months of agonizing, she went to the district attorney in
Tahlequah, Okla., and testified at a preliminary hearing.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, get up there in
front of my family with all these men I’ve grown up with
all my life,” said Ms. Rozell, now 25 and a first grade
teacher in another town. But that was not the worst of it.
The police, she said she was soon told, had cleaned up
the evidence room and thrown out her rape kit, and with
it all chances of prosecution.

However, Chief Stephen Farmer of the Tahlequah police
says the department had received permission to destroy
the evidence after Ms. Rozell initially declined to press

Human rights advocates say such troubled cases involving
Indian victims are common. And, American Indian women
are voicing growing anger at what they call their
disproportionate victimization in crimes of sexual
assault, most often committed by non-Indians, and
attitudes and laws that they say deter many from even
reporting an attack.

“Indian women suffer two and a half times more domestic
violence, three and a half times more sexual assaults,
and 17 percent will be stalked — and I’m a victim of
all three,” said Pauline Musgrove, executive director
of the Spirits of Hope Coalition, an advocacy group
in Oklahoma.

Now Amnesty International has taken up the issue,
calling on Congress to extend tribal authority to
all offenders on Indian land, not just Indians, and
to expand federal spending on Indian law enforcement
and health clinics.

In a report released yesterday, the American arm
of the organization said sexual violence against
American Indians had grown out of a long history
of “systematic and pervasive abuse and persecution.”

Chris Chaney, deputy director of the office of
justice services at the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
and a member of the Seneca-Cayuga tribe of Oklahoma,
said that Indians fell victim to crime at a higher
rate than members of any other ethnic group and
that domestic violence was on the rise because
of methamphetamine abuse.

But Mr. Chaney said that the bureau recognized the
problem and that the new federal budget proposed
an increase of $16 million to aid Indian law
enforcement agencies.

With just over 4 million American Indian and Alaska
Native people in 550 federally recognized tribes
scattered over Indian and non-Indian lands throughout
the United States, jurisdictional questions often
throw cases into limbo, Amnesty International found.
In cases where tribal courts have jurisdiction, they
can only impose punishments of up to a year in jail
and a $5,000 fine. The report cited Justice Department
figures suggesting that more than one in three American
Indian and Alaska Native women would be raped in their
lifetime, almost double the national average of 18 percent.

In 86 percent of the cases, the report said, the
perpetrators were non-Indian men, while in the population
at large, the attacker and victim are usually from
the same ethnic group.

Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International
USA, said the organization had been studying violence
against women worldwide “and then somebody said why
not look at what’s happening here.”

The 73-page report focused on Indian communities in
Alaska, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Alaska has the highest incidence of forcible rapes
of all women, the report said, and Native Alaskans
in Anchorage were nearly 10 times more likely to be
victims of sexual assault than non-natives. Oklahoma’s
401,000 American Indians (according to 2005 Census
estimates that include people listing mixed racial
heritages) share 39 tribal governments and a patchwork
of Indian and non-Indian lands; there are no reservations
in Oklahoma, which is second only to California in
its Indian population.

At Help in Crisis, a shelter for Indian women and
their children in Tahlequah in eastern Oklahoma,
many told of suffering assaults, often by husbands,
without filing complaints.

Among them was Kendra Hunter, 25, who said she had
been raped by three white men who held her captive
for three days in 2001. Ms. Hunter said that she did
report it, but that police officers turned away the
complaint, saying that the sex was consensual and
that with three witnesses against her, there was
no chance of a case. “I had cigarette burns on me,
and they called it consensual,” she said.

Deana Franke, director of the shelter, showed off
an exercise room she had built for the women but added,
“I should be building a shooting range.”

Nearby in Tahlequah, at offices of the United Keetoowah
Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, the director,
Sonya K. Cochran, and two advocates, Lois Fuller and
Sue Gaytan, displayed the legal records of a local Indian
woman who complained of having been raped and sodomized
by a brother-and-sister team of attackers in Fort Smith,
Ark., in 2004, only to have the charges dropped after
a prosecutor said the woman had repeatedly missed court
dates. The woman contends she was in court.

Culturally, some advocates said, Indians, fearing
humiliation, are often reluctant to press a complaint,
seeing it as a test of faith or preferring to “let the
creator take care of it,” as one said.

The jurisdictional complexities were evident outside
the offices of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee.
A nearby fast-food drive-in stands on state land, the
north lane of the road is on city land and the south lane
is Potawatomi land, where Jason O’Neal, chief of the
Lighthorse Police of the Chickasaw Nation, has

Chief O’Neal said that increasingly, Indian and non-Indian
police departments are recognizing each other with cross-
designations of authority.

But even on Indian land, if a crime is committed by,
or suffered by, a non-Indian, federal law applies — except
in states (not including Oklahoma) where such jurisdiction
has been ceded to the state. Yet tribal courts enjoy
concurrent jurisdiction when the crime is committed by
an Indian, regardless of the victim, on Indian land. And
the federal government retains jurisdiction over 14 major
crimes, including rape, committed by Indians in Indian
country. Another problem is figuring out just who is an
Indian — an enrolled member of a tribe, for sure, and
less certainly, anyone a tribe considers Indian, but beyond
that definitions blur.

“I can’t get a U.S. attorney to take a domestic violence
case unless there’s severe physical harm or use of
a deadly weapon,” said Kelly Stoner, director of the
Native American Legal Resource Center at the Oklahoma City
University School of Law. “If you just knock a tooth out
it’s not enough.”

Renée Brewer, a child welfare and family violence counselor
at the Potawatomi Nation and a member of the Creek Muskogee
tribe, said she recently had four agencies arguing over
jurisdiction after a woman from the Absentee Shawnee Nation
called 911 to say she had been raped.

“The D.A. was so confused,” Ms. Brewer said. The woman
eventually left the state. And the accused rapist?
“Oh, he walked,” Ms. Brewer said.


2) Group Proposes Detailed Plan to Reduce Poverty by Half
April 25, 2007

With a large increase in the minimum wage and a handful
of other measures to raise the income of low-end workers,
the United States could cut the number of people living
in poverty by half within a decade, a report from
a liberal research group says.

The antipoverty strategy, which would cost the government
$90 billion a year, was developed over the last year by
a group of economists, poverty experts and leaders of labor
and community groups. It is to be issued today by the Center
for American Progress in Washington. It is likely to be
a fount of ideas for Congress, where Democratic control
has led to new interest in fighting poverty and for
candidates, especially Democrats, in the presidential

According to federal data, 37 million residents lived
below the poverty line in 2005, defined as an income
of $20,000 a year for a family of four.

The new strategy reflects a change in the political
climate since the welfare overhaul of 1996. That put
strict limits on cash welfare that many experts said
had reduced incentives to work. The new strategy emphasizes
measures to promote work and would use tax credits
and other measures to bolster the incomes of low-wage

Peter B. Edelman, a co-chairman of the group and
a professor of law at Georgetown University who advised
the Clinton administration on social policy, cited the
antipoverty initiatives of Mayors Michael R. Bloomberg
of New York, a Republican, and Antonio Villaraigosa
of Los Angeles, a Democrat, as evidence of a growing
and widely shared concern.

Many of the proposals in the report seem unlikely to
fly unless a Democrat is in the White House.

The panel argues that although the $90 billion price
tag may appear unrealistic amid the current Congressional
stalemate over taxes, rescinding tax cuts for the
wealthiest Americans would free more than the
required dollars.

Other experts, including Douglas Besharov, a public
policy scholar at the American Enterprise Institute,
say that even the Democrats will be divided on using
any money freed by tax changes and that reducing the
alternative minimum tax for the middle class may,
for example, have a higher priority than the
proposed strategy.

Citing studies by the Urban Institute, the report says
steps in three areas, costing the government $50 billion
a year, would reduce poverty 26 percent, or nine million

First is an increase in the minimum wage to half the
average hourly wage. Congress has just agreed to raise
the minimum wage, to $7.25 an hour by 2009 from its current
$5.15 an hour. By the report’s standard, the wage would
have reached $8.40 in 2006 and be higher in future years.

Research indicates that such an increase would eliminate
a relatively small number of jobs, the institute said,
while lifting the incomes of more than 4.5 million poor
workers and nine million people whose incomes are just
above the poverty line.

Second, the report calls for expanding the earned-income
tax credit and the child care credit. The earned-income
tax credit for childless workers and noncustodial parents,
in particular, which is now negligible, would increase
along with credits for working families. That would
reduce the number of poor by two million.

Third, expanding child care subsidies for families with
incomes below $40,000 a year and expanding the child
care tax credit would raise employment and help lift
nearly three million people out of poverty, the study


3) Bush Presses Schools Plan During Trip to New York
[Bush pushes reauthorization of No Child Left Behind Law,
"...which, among other things, ties federal school financing
to performance-based results over time, measured by annual,
standardized tests." Unfortunately, it also ties Federal
school funds to allowing each branch of the military access
to the schools and the students--two recruiters
from each branch of the military, in fact--for the purposes
of recruitment--each time a College, University, Technical
or other schools such as beauty and culinary schools; or
Union apprentice programs; or special scholarship opportunities
are presented to students at any time. The military is also
allowed access to schools from kindergarten up. Just read
the U.S. Army School Recruiting Program Handbook available
at There is also a link to the text of the
current No Child Left Behind Law at our]
April 25, 2007

President Bush fought with the Democrats over war financing
yesterday morning. But in the afternoon he came to Harlem
to seek common cause with the rival party, on its home turf,
on his signature education initiative, No Child Left Behind.

The trip gave the president a chance to joke with
Representative Charles B. Rangel, usually a Democratic
nemesis, who rode with him in the presidential limousine
to Harlem and to praise Joel Klein, chancellor of the New
York schools and a former Clinton administration official.

“You know, the people in Harlem have got a fantastic
congressman in Charles Rangel,” Mr. Bush said, speaking
in the auditorium of the Harlem Village Academy Charter
School. “He can agree with me a few more times, but —
I don’t expect him to — but I do expect him to do what
he does, which is work for the good of the country.”

After complimenting Mr. Klein on the school system, Mr.
Bush, who was soundly defeated in the city in the 2000
and 2004 presidential campaigns, said, “As a result of
that endorsement, he may never find work again in New York.”

The contrast in mood from the morning was part of the
new normal for Mr. Bush as he adjusts to life with an
adversarial Congress controlled by Democrats and populated
with restive Republicans.

Even as he battles Democrats over war financing, he must
rely on them for help winning approval of major domestic
initiatives like his proposed immigration law overhaul
and the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law,
which, among other things, ties federal school financing
to performance-based results over time, measured by annual,
standardized tests.

Mr. Bush views the legislation, passed with help from
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts,
as a legacy project. But, like so many other parts of
his agenda, it is coming under fire in Congress.

A group of Republicans is pushing legislation that would
free states from the law’s mandates, and they have some
Democratic support. Other Democrats, including Mr. Kennedy,
are seeking various changes, including higher financing

The White House still views Mr. Kennedy as a crucial ally,
and, Mr. Bush said at the Harlem school, “When we put our
mind to it, actually Republicans and Democrats can work
together — we did so to get this important piece of
legislation passed.”

But, he warned, “When Republicans and Democrats take
a look at this bill, I strongly urge them to not weaken
the bill, not to backslide, not to say, accountability
isn’t that important.”

Mr. Bush was speaking at a charter school — privately
run with public money — in which the Bloomberg administration
takes pride because of the sharp improvements in its
students’ test scores.

Mr. Bush hailed those scores, saying, “We can see that
No Child Left Behind is working nationwide.”

[Like any private school, they can simply drop students
that fail. This is the reason for their "success rate."]


4) New Planet Could Be Earthlike, Scientists Say
April 25, 2007

The most enticing property yet found outside our solar system
is about 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra,
a team of European astronomers said yesterday.

The astronomers have discovered a planet five times as
massive as the Earth orbiting a dim red star known
as Gliese 581.

It is the smallest of the 200 or so planets that are
known to exist outside of our solar system, the extrasolar
or exo-planets. It orbits its home star within the so-
called habitable zone where surface water, the staff of
life, could exist if other conditions are right, said
Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory.

“We are at the right place for that,” said Dr. Udry,
the lead author of a paper describing the discovery that
has been submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

But he and other astronomers cautioned that it was far
too soon to conclude that liquid water was there without
more observations. Sara Seager, a planet expert at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “For example,
if the planet had an atmosphere more massive than Venus’s,
then the surface would likely be too hot for liquid water.”

Nevertheless, the discovery in the Gliese 581 system,
where a Neptune-size planet was discovered two years ago
and another planet of eight Earth masses is now suspected,
catapults that system to the top of the list for future
generations of space missions.

“On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted
to mark this planet with an X,” said Xavier Delfosse,
a member of the team from Grenoble University in France,
according to a news release from the European Southern
Observatory, a multinational collaboration based
in Garching, Germany.

Dimitar Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics, who studies the structure and formation
of planets, said: “It’s 20 light-years. We can go there.”

The new planet was discovered by the wobble it causes
in its home star’s motion as it orbits, using the method
by which most of the known exo-planets have been discovered.
Dr. Udry’s team used an advanced spectrograph on
a 141-inch-diameter telescope at the European observatory
in La Silla, Chile.

The planet, Gliese 581c, circles the star every 13 days
at a distance of about seven million miles. According to
models of planet formation developed by Dr. Sasselov and
his colleagues, such a planet should be about half again
as large as the Earth and composed of rock and water,
what the astronomers now call a “super Earth.”

The most exciting part of the find, Dr. Sasselov said,
is that it “basically tells you these kinds of planets
are very common.” Because they could stay geologically
active for billions of years, he said he suspected that
such planets could be even more congenial for life than
Earth. Although the new planet is much closer to its star
than Earth is to the Sun, the red dwarf Gliese 581 is
only about a hundredth as luminous as the Sun. So seven
million miles is a comfortable huddling distance.

How hot the planet gets, Dr. Udry said, depends on how
much light the planet reflects, its albedo. Using the
Earth and Venus as two extreme examples, he estimated
that temperatures on the surface of the planet should
be in the range of 0 degrees to 40 degrees centigrade.

“It’s just right in the good range,” Dr. Udry said.
“Of course, we don’t know anything about its albedo.”

One problem is that the wobble technique only gives
masses of planets. To measure their actual size and
thus find their densities, astronomers have to catch
the planets in the act of passing in front of or behind
their stars. Such transits can also reveal if the
planets have atmospheres and what they are made of.

Dr. Udry said he and Dr. Sasselov would be observing
the Gliese system with a Canadian space telescope named
MOST to see if there are any dips in starlight caused
by the new planet. Failing that, they said, the best
chance for more information about the system lies with
the Terrestrial Planet Finder, a NASA mission, and the
Darwin missions of the European Space Agency, which
are designed to study Earthlike planets, but have
been delayed by political, technical and financial

“We are starting to count the first targets,” Dr. Udry said.


5) The Coming Attack Against Auto Workers--And You
April 25, 2007

The real story bubbling within the auto industry is not
the news that Toyota vaulted over General Motors in worldwide
auto sales. Rather, it's the growing ideological--not economic
--drumbeat that is gathering targeting the livelihoods of tens
of thousands of auto workers. And this is a direct attack
against a decent standard of living for every worker. That
means you!

The ideological assault goes something like this: American
auto companies are in trouble. The trouble is caused by
"generous" benefits paid to auto workers. Solution: cut those
benefits to save the auto companies.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal typified the rhetoric that
I've been seeing for some time now, rhetoric that has picked
up in the past few months and is certain to get even louder.
In a piece on DaimlerChrysler, columnist Dennis Berman wrote:

"Forget about making better cars. Or even about the
rise of private equity. The best way to understand the sale
of Chrysler Group is as blood sport between parent
DaimlerChrylser and its North American unions.

"Is DaimlerChrysler willing to get fully ruthless
with its employees, in spite of its well-hewn image as loveable
corporate citizen? The answer will make for some gripping
theater in the months ahead. That is because this deal really
is about persuading the company's unions to roll back their
own health and pension benefits."

I want to explain why these attacks, by in large, are ideological,
not economic, in nature. If they were economic, then, a whole
other set of issues would be on the table beyond cutting rank-
and-file workers pay, health care and pensions. Let's see how.

First, the real burden to auto companies is health care costs.
If the auto executives and their counterparts actually dealt
with the economics of health care--as opposed to ideology--they
would wake up and be avid supporters for a single-payer health
care plan. Enacted this year, such a plan would immediately
lift off auto companies tens of billions of dollars--that's
BILLIONS--in health care costs for current and, most notable,
retired workers.

This is nothing new. Almost two years ago, I cited General
Motors as the prime example of a company that should be arguing
that single-payer health care is an economic necessity. Many
others have made that point before and since. And, yet...these
guys are unwilling to break from their ideological framework,
even though the economics are unassailable.

Second, it is not rank-and-file workers pensions that are
causing a financial problem for auto companies, or, for that
matter, many other big companies. CEO pensions are the problem.
I pointed this out last summer by highlighting a terrific article
in the Wall Street Journal. Here are two snippets from that

"Even as many reduce, freeze or eliminate pensions
for workers -- complaining of the costs -- their executives
are building up ever-bigger pensions, causing the companies'
financial obligations for them to balloon.

"Companies disclose little about any of this. But
a Wall Street Journal analysis of corporate filings reveals
that executive benefits are playing a large and hidden role
in the declining health of America's pensions. Among the

"- Boosted by surging pay and rich formulas, executive
pension obligations exceed $1 billion at some companies.
Besides GM, they include General Electric Co. (a $3.5 billion
liability); AT&T Inc. ($1.8 billion); Exxon Mobil Corp. and
International Business Machines Corp. (about $1.3 billion each);
and Bank of America Corp. and Pfizer Inc. (about $1.1 billion
"- Benefits for executives now account for a significant
share of pension obligations in the U.S., an average of 8% at
the companies above. Sometimes a company's obligation for
a single executive's pension approaches $100 million.

"- These liabilities are largely hidden, because
corporations don't distinguish them from overall pension
obligations in their federal financial filings.

"- As a result, the savings that companies make by
curtailing pensions for regular retirees -- which have
totaled billions of dollars in recent years -- can mask
a rising cost of benefits for executives.

"- Executive pensions, even when they won't be paid
till years from now, drag down earnings today. And they do
so in a way that's disproportionate to their size, because
they aren't funded with dedicated assets."


"When General Motors cites retiree costs, the giant
auto maker has a point: It owed nearly 700,000 U.S. workers
and retirees pensions that totaled $87.8 billion at the
end of last year.

"But $95.3 billion had already been set aside to pay
those benefits when due.

"All of these assets are earning investment returns,
which offset the pensions' expense. GM lost $10.6 billion
in 2005. But deep as its losses have been, they would have
been far worse without the more than $10 billion per year
in investment income that the GM pension plan for the rank
and file generates.

"The pension plan for GM executives is another matter.
Unfunded to the tune of $1.4 billion, it detracts from GM's
bottom line each year."

To underscore: workers pensions are funded, CEO pensions
are not.

More recently, I also pointed out the vast CEO pension
riches now coming to light because of new disclosure rules.
So, the obvious solution is to first cut CEO pay and
pensions deeply. If you want economic solutions, to
paraphrase Willie Sutton, go where the money is.

Third, as a matter of economics--and, to be fair, a tad
of ideology--it's worth noting what auto workers "generous"
pensions amount to: an average of $32,000 if you worked
30 years and retired. And that monthly payment by the company
GOES DOWN once a worker begins to collect Social Security.

It's ironic that the ideologues are calling for cuts
in auto worker pensions, of all places. After all, it was
Henry Ford himself who used to say that he wanted to pay
his workers enough money so they could buy Ford cars.
Exactly how do the ideologues think retired auto workers,
not to mention other workers, will be able to participate
as consumers in the fall and winter of their lives if they
are asked to live on less even as expenses like health
care, rent and gas go up?

And that's where this all comes back to you. We all need
to see the coming attack against auto workers as a direct
attack on the ability of average people to make a fair wage
and retire with dignity and respect. The attack against auto
workers will be lead by the same voices who have fashioned
a global economy with rules that enrich a few and impoverish
the many; the same people who have created, in our country,
the chasm between rich and poor and the obscene spectacle
of CEO legalized robbery with very little resistance from
our elected leaders.

Our response has to be very clear: The auto worker pension
is not the "gold" standard. It is the decent and fair standard.


6) Gilded Once More
Op-Ed Columnist
April 27, 2007

One of the distinctive features of the modern American right
has been nostalgia for the late 19th century, with its minimal
taxation, absence of regulation and reliance on faith-based
charity rather than government social programs. Conservatives
from Milton Friedman to Grover Norquist have portrayed the
Gilded Age as a golden age, dismissing talk of the era’s
injustice and cruelty as a left-wing myth.

Well, in at least one respect, everything old is new again.
Income inequality — which began rising at the same time that
modern conservatism began gaining political power — is now
fully back to Gilded Age levels.

Consider a head-to-head comparison. We know what John D.
Rockefeller, the richest man in Gilded Age America, made
in 1894, because in 1895 he had to pay income taxes.
(The next year, the Supreme Court declared the income tax
unconstitutional.) His return declared an income of $1.25
million, almost 7,000 times the average per capita income
in the United States at the time.

But that makes him a mere piker by modern standards. Last
year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine,
James Simons, a hedge fund manager, took home $1.7 billion,
more than 38,000 times the average income. Two other hedge
fund managers also made more than $1 billion, and the top
25 combined made $14 billion.

How much is $14 billion? It’s more than it would cost to
provide health care for a year to eight million children —
the number of children in America who, unlike children
in any other advanced country, don’t have health insurance.

The hedge fund billionaires are simply extreme examples
of a much bigger phenomenon: every available measure of
income concentration shows that we’ve gone back to levels
of inequality not seen since the 1920s.

The New Gilded Age doesn’t feel quite as harsh and unjust
as the old Gilded Age — not yet, anyway. But that’s because
the effects of inequality are still moderated by progressive
income taxes, which fall more heavily on the rich than on the
middle class; by estate taxation, which limits the inheritance
of great wealth; and by social insurance programs like Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which provide a safety net
for the less fortunate.

You might have thought that in the face of growing inequality,
there would have been a move to reinforce these moderating
institutions — to raise taxes on the rich and use the money
to strengthen the safety net. That’s why comparing the incomes
of hedge fund managers with the cost of children’s health
care isn’t an idle exercise: there’s a real trade-off involved.
But for the past three decades, such trade-offs have been
consistently settled in favor of the haves and have-mores.

Taxation has become much less progressive: according to
estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez,
average tax rates on the richest 0.01 percent of Americans
have been cut in half since 1970, while taxes on the middle
class have risen. In particular, the unearned income of the
wealthy — dividends and capital gains — is now taxed at
a lower rate than the earned income of most middle-class

Those hedge fund titans, by the way, have an especially sweet
deal: loopholes in the law let them use their own businesses
as, in effect, unlimited 401(k)s, sheltering their earnings
and accumulating tax-free capital gains.

Meanwhile, the tax-cut bill Congress passed in 2001 set
in motion a complete phaseout of the estate tax. If the Bush
administration hadn’t been too clever by half, hiding the true
cost of its tax cuts by making the whole package expire
at the end of 2010, we’d be well on our way toward becoming
a dynastic society.

And as for the social insurance programs —— well, in 2005
the Bush administration tried to privatize Social Security.
If it had succeeded, Medicare would have been next.

Of course, the administration’s attempt to undo Social
Security was a notable failure. The public, it seems,
isn’t eager to return to the days before the New Deal.
And the G.O.P.’s defeat in the midterm election has put
on hold other plans to restore the good old days.

But it’s much too soon to declare the march toward a New
Gilded Age over. If history is any guide, one of these days
we’ll see the emergence of a New Progressive Era, maybe even
a New New Deal. But it may be a long wait.


7) After the Lawyers
April 27, 2007

It can be hard to tell whom the Bush administration considers
more of an enemy at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp:
the prisoners or the lawyers.

William Glaberson reported in The Times yesterday that the
Justice Department had asked a federal appeals court to remove
some of the last shreds of legal representation available
to the prisoners.

The government wants the court to allow intelligence and
military officers to read the mail sent by lawyers to their
clients at Guantánamo Bay. Lawyers would also be limited
to three visits with each client, and an inmate would be
allowed only a single visit to decide whether to authorize
an attorney to handle his case. Interrogators at Guantánamo
Bay have a history of masking their identities, so the rule
would make it much harder than it already is to gain the
trust of a prisoner.

Perhaps the most outrageous of the Justice Department’s
proposals would allow government officials — on their own
authority — to deny lawyers access to the evidence used
to decide whether an inmate is an illegal enemy combatant.
Not even the appalling Military Commissions Act of 2006,
rammed through in the last days of the Republican-controlled
Congress, goes that far.

The filing, with the federal appeals court in Washington,
D.C., says lawyers have caused unrest among the prisoners
and improperly relayed messages to the news media. The
administration offered no evidence for these charges,
probably because there is none. This is an assault on the
integrity of the lawyers, reminiscent of a former Pentagon
official’s suggestion that they are unpatriotic and that
American corporations should boycott their firms.

The Justice Department also said lawyers had no right to
demand access to clients at Guantánamo Bay because the
clients are “detained aliens on a secure military base
in a foreign country.”

The Supreme Court has already rejected that argument,
and President Bush can hardly be worried about the
sensibilities of Fidel Castro’s government. (The camp
is on land leased to Washington after the Spanish-
American War.)

It’s obvious why the administration is attacking the
lawyers. It does not want the world to know more than
it already does about this immoral detention camp. And
brave lawyers have helped expose abuse and torture there,
as well as detentions of innocent men — who are a large
portion, if not a majority, of the inmates at Guantánamo
Bay. The Bush administration does not want these issues
aired in public, and certainly not in court.

Mr. Bush thinks that he has the right to ignore the
Constitution when it suits him. But this is a nation
of laws, not the whims of men, and giving legal rights
to the guilty as well as the innocent is a price of true
justice. The only remedy is for lawmakers to rewrite the
Military Commissions Act to restore basic rights to Guantánamo
Bay and to impose full accountability for what has happened


8) Echoes of Terror Case Haunt California Pakistanis
April 27, 2007

LODI, Calif., April 24 — Khalid Farooq has shunned the low-
slung yellow bungalow that serves as the Pakistani community’s
mosque here for nearly two years, ever since a father and son
who worshiped there were arrested on suspicion of being foot
soldiers for Al Qaeda.

If he runs an errand at someplace like Wal-Mart, away from
the neat, tree-lined streets that constitute the heart of
Lodi’s Pakistani neighborhood, Mr. Farooq trades his traditional
baggy clothes for standard American attire, he said, as often
as four times in one day.

“Something has changed in the air; it’s a scary time,” said
Mr. Farooq, who first arrived to work in the flat, black fields
that surround this town 25 years ago. “We don’t want to talk;
we’re all afraid.”

The tide of fear rolled in and has never quite receded after
an informant incriminated two Lodi men, Umer Hayat, an ice
cream truck driver, and his son Hamid, who were arrested in
June 2005. Their trial ended a year ago with the younger
Mr. Hayat, 24, convicted of providing material support for
terrorism by attending a training camp in Pakistan. His l
awyers recently began seeking a new trial based on arguments
that the jury was tainted.

Members of the Pakistani community here distrust one another
almost as much as they do outsiders. Even now, residents with
evidence of sudden wealth, like a new car, are immediately
rumored to be on the F.B.I.’s payroll. Anything connected
to the government is inherently suspect.

Some people have stopped home visits by social service
agencies; others have balked at writing their Social Security
numbers on government documents. Some residents returning
from Pakistan avoid including their Lodi addresses on their
United States customs forms.

“You don’t use the word ‘terrorist’; you don’t use the word
‘bomb,’ because people’s ears are up instantly,” said Taj Khan,
a retired engineer and an unsuccessful candidate for the Lodi
City Council. “People are looking at each other with suspicion
to see who is the F.B.I. informant, who will rat on whom?”

All terrorism charges were dropped against Umer Hayat, 48,
who was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to
lying about the amount of money he took out of the country.

The case against Hamid Hayat was built around his confessions
as well as testimony from the informant, who was paid about
$225,000 after telling the Federal Bureau of Investigation
the somewhat improbable story that Osama bin Laden’s deputy,
Ayman al-Zawahri, once visited the Lodi mosque.

Nobody in the Pakistani community here seems to believe that
the Hayats, both American citizens, were guilty of anything
beyond bad judgment. Even the prosecutor in the case, McGregor
W. Scott, the United States attorney for the Eastern District
of California, while endorsing the conviction, has expressed
regret about using the Qaeda label.

But that hardly dilutes the sense of fear and isolation. Lodi,
a city of 62,000 people 72 miles east of San Francisco, is
something of an anomaly among Pakistani immigrants. Most come
to the United States to pursue professional careers, to become
doctors or academics in large cities. But mainly rural peasants
started coming to Lodi around 1920, and residents say 80 percent
of the town’s 2,500 Muslims are Pakistanis.

They came as agricultural laborers and never really assimilated,
preserving their traditional ways by dispatching the young
back home for arranged marriages.

“Our parents get us married too quick. You get married and
you don’t go to school and you don’t learn anything,” said
Usama Ismail, the younger Mr. Hayat’s 21-year-old cousin,
who sometimes stumbles over words as he translates street
slang into regular English. “If you have a son or a daughter
who gets engaged back in Pakistan, at least one parent is
going to be illiterate, and if the man is illiterate, he
will definitely kick it with the people from back home.”

Robina Asghar was a teenage bride who sometimes waxes
nostalgic about the smell of the orange groves in her
native village. But she earned college degrees here and
became an accomplished social worker.

“We are so fearful about preserving the culture that
we don’t build the bridges to learn how to survive in
the larger community,” Mrs. Asghar said. “We isolated

One of the strongest elements in that culture is that
men and women do not mingle in public. Many Pakistani
girls in Lodi are taken out of the school system and
taught at home once they reach puberty, school officials
said. There are no Pakistani restaurants and just two
shops, one selling fabric and the other a grocery
specializing in items like the half-white, half-wheat
flour needed to make naan bread.

Razia Farooq, Mr. Farooq’s wife, sells gauzy bolts of
fabric in pink and tangerine and lavender. The small-
town banter from other Lodi residents evaporated after
the arrests, Mrs. Farooq said, with any woman walking
on the street in her traditional clothes likely to hear
“Why don’t you go back to your own country!” shouted
with expletives from a passing car.

Her store is unmarked, and after the arrests she installed
blinds because customers worried that anyone passing might
notice Pakistanis and do something violent.

Mr. Ismail said that people shushed him when he mentioned
the Hayats on the telephone, and that high school students
grew instantly leery of anyone asking questions.

“If somebody asks something personal like how many kids
in your family, they will shut up and walk away,” he said.

It is a form of paranoia to point fingers at everyone,
Mr. Ismail admitted, but his cousin’s fate is the dire model.
“My cousin is locked up because of what he said, not because
of what he did, so that is going through their heads,”
he said.

Among high school students, two reactions to what happened
to the Hayats predominated. First, Mr. Ismail said, it
engendered a certain sense of pride and solidarity.

“The feds came over here and they went after little kids,
teenagers,” he said. “At most the kids might have been pot
heads or thieves, but they were trying to label them
as terrorists and they were following all of us around.”

On the other hand, verbal harassment also spawned a gang,
the O.P.C., or Original Pakistani Clique, whose members
take on any student who calls a Pakistani a terrorist
in the hallways of Lodi High.

The tension builds upon an already deep split over control
of the mosque; indeed, many suspect that one faction may
have brought in the F.B.I. to smear its rivals. Two imams
imported from Pakistan, the initial targets of the federal
investigation involving the Hayats, were expelled on
immigration charges. One faction accused them of developing
a school and Islamic center that would teach radical Islam.
The other faction believes that the group controlling the
mosque was jealous of the budding center, so its members
concocted the story and might similarly denounce others.

“That’s a bunch of baloney,” said Nick Qayyum, the mosque’s
secretary. “People are using this for their own purposes.”

The ruckus at the mosque every Friday prompted scores
of worshipers to defect some months back, and they now
hold congregational prayers in a church. Umer Hayat
is among them.

Others are moving away altogether, viewing the prospect
of life with relatives in North Carolina or Texas as better
than being stained by what they call Lodi’s undeserved

“Once your name is out there, I don’t know how that will
ever go away,” said Shakila Khan, who runs social programs


9) Prosecutors Say Corruption in Atlanta Police Dept. Is Widespread
April 27, 2007

ATLANTA, April 26 — After the fatal police shooting of an
elderly woman in a botched drug raid, the United States
attorney here said Thursday that prosecutors were
investigating a “culture of misconduct” in the Atlanta
Police Department.

In court documents, prosecutors said Atlanta police officers
regularly lied to obtain search warrants and fabricated
documentation of drug purchases, as they had when they raided
the home of the woman, Kathryn Johnston, in November, killing
her in a hail of bullets.

Narcotics officers have admitted to planting marijuana in
Ms. Johnston’s home after her death and submitting as
evidence cocaine they falsely claimed had been bought
at her house, according to the court filings.

Two of the three officers indicted in the shooting, Gregg
Junnier and Jason R. Smith, pleaded guilty on Thursday
to state charges including involuntary manslaughter and
federal charges of conspiracy to violate Ms. Johnston’s
civil rights.

“Former officers Junnier and Smith will also help us
continue our very active ongoing investigation into
just how wide the culture of misconduct that led to
this tragedy extends within the Atlanta Police Department,”
said David Nahmias, the United States attorney.

Asked how widespread such practices might be, Mr. Nahmias
said investigators were looking at narcotics officers,
officers who had once served in the narcotics unit and
“officers that had never been in that unit but may have
adopted that practice.”

The investigation has already led to scrutiny of criminal
cases involving the indicted officers and others who may
have used similar tactics. Paul Howard, the Fulton County
district attorney, said his office was reviewing at least
100 cases involving the three officers, including 10 in
which defendants were in jail.

If they continue to cooperate, Mr. Junnier, who retired
after the shooting, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison
and Mr. Smith, who resigned Thursday, faces 12 years.

The third officer, Arthur Tesler, declined a plea deal.
He was indicted on charges of violation of oath by
a public officer, making false statements and false
imprisonment under color of legal process.

Mr. Tesler’s lawyer, John Garland, said his client was
following his training when he put false claims in
an affidavit.

Mr. Nahmias took a moment to dwell on what he said was
the unusual nature of the officers’ offenses.

“The officers charged today were not corrupt in the sense
that we have seen before,” he said. “They are not accused
of seeking payoffs or trying to rob drug dealers or trying
to protect gang members. Their goal was to arrest drug
dealers and seize illegal drugs, and that’s what we want
our police officers to do for our community.

“But these officers pursued that goal by corrupting the
justice system, because when it was hard to do their job
the way the Constitution requires, they let the ends
justify their means.”

Mr. Nahmias said the statement in the plea agreement
that officers cut corners in order to “be considered
productive officers and to meet A.P.D.’s performance
targets” reflected their perception of the department’s

The police chief, Richard Pennington, said that officers
were not trained to lie and that they had no performance
quotas. Two weeks ago, he announced changes to the
narcotics squad, including increasing the unit’s size
and more careful reviews of requests for so-called no-
knock warrants like the one served on Ms. Johnston’s home.

“Let me assure you, if we find out any other officers
have been involved in such egregious acts, they will
be dealt with just as sternly as these other officers
have been,” said Chief Pennington, who after the shooting
asked for a review by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“I assure you that we will not tolerate any officers
violating the law and mistreating our citizens in this city.”

The death of Ms. Johnston, whose age is listed variously
as 88 or 92, outraged Atlantans, brought simmering discontent
with police conduct toward residents to a boil and led
to the creation of a civilian review board for the Police

The day she was killed, narcotics officers said, they arrested
a drug dealer who said he could tell them where to recover
a kilogram of cocaine, and pointed out Ms. Johnston’s modest
green-trimmed house at 933 Neal Street.

Instead of hiring an informant to try to buy drugs at the
house, the officers filed for a search warrant, claiming
that drugs had been bought there from a man named Sam.
Because they falsely claimed that the house was equipped
with surveillance equipment, they got a no-knock warrant
that allowed them to break down the front door.

First, according to court papers, they pried off the burglar
bars and began to ram open the door. Ms. Johnston, who lived
alone, fired a single shot from a .38-caliber revolver through
the front door and the officers fired back, killing her.

After the shooting, they handcuffed her and searched the
house, finding no drugs.

“She was without question an innocent civilian who was
caught in the worst circumstance imaginable,” Mr. Howard,
the district attorney, said at a news conference on Thursday.
“When we learned of her death, all of us imagined our own
mothers and our own grandmothers in her place, and the
thought made us shudder.”

When no drugs were found, the cover-up began in earnest,
according to court papers.

Officer Smith planted three bags of marijuana, which had
been recovered earlier in the day in an unrelated search,
in the basement. He called a confidential informant and
instructed him to pretend he had made the drug buy
described in the affidavit for the search warrant.

The three officers, Mr. Junnier, Mr. Smith and Officer
Tesler met to concoct a story before talking with homicide
detectives, the court filings say.

Though the three met several more times, prosecutors said,
Mr. Junnier admitted the truth in his first interview
with F.B.I. agents. Mr. Smith at first lied about his role,
but later admitted to the conspiracy.


10) California to Address Prison Overcrowding
With Giant Building Program
April 27, 2007

LOS ANGELES, April 26 — In a move to ease chronic overcrowding,
California lawmakers on Thursday approved the largest single
prison construction program in the nation’s history and agreed
to send 8,000 convicts to other states.

The plan, which would cost $8.3 billion and add 53,000 beds,
has the strong backing of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,
a Republican, who is eager to avert a federal takeover
of the state’s prison system, one of the most dysfunctional
in the nation.

California prisons are so overcrowded — 16,000 inmates
are assigned cots in hallways and gyms — that the governor
recently took the highly unusual step of declaring a state
of emergency in the system. The state’s prisons house
173,000 inmates — far ahead of Texas, which has the next
largest state prison system with 152,500 inmates —
and has an $8 billion budget.

The California prisons are the subject of several lawsuits,
their medical program is in federal receivership, and various
other components of the system are under court monitoring.
The courts had given the state until this spring to come
up with an overpopulation plan or face possible receivership.

Under the plan that narrowly passed both houses of the
Democratic-controlled State Legislature, the state will
move prisoners out of 17,000 temporary beds in places like
gymnasiums and day rooms, either through transfers to prisons
in other states or to older, unused jails in California
that need repairs to be brought up to building and safety

The plan, aimed primarily at easing the prison population,
would also free space for rehabilitative programs for inmates,
lawmakers said.

Further, the state will add the 53,000 beds over the next
five years by building additions to existing prisons and
through construction of so-called re-entry centers, or
smaller buildings where prisoners would spend the last
few months of their sentences in the towns and cities
where they would eventually be paroled.

The plan calls for two phases of construction, with the
financing of the second phase contingent on benchmarks
like the start of rehabilitation and mental health programs.
The plan would be paid for over two phases with $7.1 billion
in state bonds and $1.2 million in local money.

Missing from the plan were a proposed sentencing commission
and a program to reduce the number of parolees who re-enter
the system, components that had been embraced by Democratic
lawmakers and prison reform advocates, and, this year,
by the governor. Seven of 10 inmates released from California
prisons return, one of the highest recidivism rates
in the country.

But Mr. Schwarzenegger, made anxious by the watchful eyes
of judges around the state, backed off the contentious
proposals to change the parole structure and to examine
sentencing practices, handing a victory to Republicans
in the Legislature who would abide neither.

“The things we didn’t want to have in this bill are not
in it,” said Senator George Runner, chairman of the
Republican caucus in the Senate. “We need a program that
keeps people incarcerated and tries to rehabilitate them.
But if they can’t be rehabilitated, then we need enough
beds to bring them back.”

The Democrats who ultimately voted for the plan despite
its perceived shortcomings appeared to calculate that
they would avoid looking soft on crime while leaving
any legal fallout at the governor’s door.

The state had until the middle of May to convince the courts
that it had a plan to relieve some of the overcrowding
or face a takeover and the potential imposition of caps
on the size of the prison population.

It was unclear on Thursday whether the bill would pass
muster with the courts. For instance, recent moves by the
state to send prisoners to other jurisdictions around
the nation was ruled unconstitutional by a state judge;
lawmakers said language in the new bill would address
the judge’s concerns.

The plan also does little to change the structural problems
that have led to overcrowding, like the unusual parole
system, which sends former inmates with minor infractions
back to prison. Further, the state’s sentencing structure
is blind to the problem of prison population, meaning new
inmates keep arriving regardless of the ability to accommodate

Don Specter, the director of the Prison Law Office, which
has filed a class-action lawsuit against the state over
prison conditions, said the plan did not address many
of the most serious concerns raised in the courts.

“It won’t do anything to provide short-term relief on
the overcrowding,” Mr. Specter said.

Like many other states, California has had large prison
building programs over the years, but few come close
to the size or speed of this program. For example, since
1987 when Texas began to use general obligation bonds
to build prisons, the state has used $2.3 billion in such
bonds to do that.

Some California lawmakers who voted against the plan
expressed outrage on Thursday.

“This is not a plan,” said the Senate majority leader,
Gloria Romero, Democrat of Los Angeles. “This is a classic
Hollywood prop that the governor wants to have when he walks
into court on May 15. All we have done is dig ourselves into
a deeper hole. This plan is not workable, and I fully expect
a constitutional challenge.”

For his part, Mr. Schwarzenegger seemed ebullient.

“For the first time in a decade, we can add prison beds
in California,” he said in a statement. “And that does not
just include traditional beds. We will add beds with programs,
education, drug and mental health treatment so that the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
can truly live up to the rehabilitation part of its name.”


11) Human Risk Played Down in Bad Feed
April 27, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 26 — The potential risk to humans who might
have eaten meat contaminated with melamine is extremely low,
and the Food and Drug Administration believes that only 6,000
hogs may have eaten the reconstituted feed.

But concern has shifted to encompass melamine-related
compounds that include cyanuric acid, which can be used
as a pool cleaner, and mixed with melamine could cause
crystal formations that damage kidneys and could in some
cases cause the organ to fail, an F.D.A. official said.

Melamine, a compound used to make plastic utensils and
as a fertilizer in some countries, has been found
in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate that came
from two Chinese suppliers starting as far back
as July 2006.

On Thursday, a new recall was issued for food containing
rice protein concentrate, said David Elder, the director
of enforcement in the Office of Regulatory Affairs
at the F.D.A. More than 100 pet foods have been recalled
since March.

The majority of the 6,000 hogs thought to have eaten the
contaminated product are still on the farms where they
were raised, but the Department of Agriculture is still
tracking down products from 345 hogs: 50 from a custom
slaughterhouse in California that cannot be sold in
retail, 195 from a farm in Kansas that were sent to
a facility in Nebraska, and no more than 100 hogs from
the processing plant in Utah, said Nicol Andrews,
a spokeswoman for the department. It is not known if any
of these hogs were eaten, she said.

Pork producers in California, New York, North Carolina,
South Carolina and Utah are being investigated, and
Oklahoma has been added to the list. It has been determined
that the feed sent to Ohio predated the tainted food,
and that state has been taken off the list. Swine that
ate the adulterated product will be euthanized and farmers
compensated for the animals. A feed mill in Missouri
is still being investigated, Ms. Andrews said.

China, it was reported Thursday, has banned the use
of melamine in food. The F.D.A. is preparing to send
investigators to the country to track down the source
of the melamine.


12) Police Subdue Man, Who Dies
April 27, 2007

A 41-year-old Queens man died early yesterday morning after
police officers and medical workers responded to a 911 call
that he was emotionally disturbed and acting irrationally,
the police said.

The police said that they arrived at 104-36 204th Street
in St. Albans, the home of the man, Patrick Ryan, after
the 4:20 a.m. call, which came from his girlfriend. Seven
officers sustained minor injuries trying to subdue
Mr. Ryan, they said. He was strapped to a backboard
and taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital, where he was
pronounced dead at 6:13 a.m., the authorities said.

The police said that they did not know the exact cause
of death, and that the medical examiner would perform
an autopsy.

Family members and friends, however, said they believed
that Mr. Ryan, who they described as legally blind,
died at the hands of the police before he was taken
to the hospital. Family members estimated that as many
as eight or nine officers tackled Mr. Ryan, and they
said the ambulance that took him away did not have
its siren on.

“The police killed my son, and I’m grieving,” said
Justiana Reid, Mr. Ryan’s mother, who was downstairs
in the house when the police arrived.

Family members said that Mr. Ryan could see only shadows
and received disability checks. They added that his
girlfriend was eight months pregnant.


13) For $82 a Day, Booking a Cell in a 5-Star Jail
April 29, 2007

SANTA ANA, Calif., April 25 — Anyone convicted of a crime
knows a debt to society often must be paid in jail. But
a slice of Californians willing to supplement that debt
with cash (no personal checks, please) are finding that
the time can be almost bearable.

For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor
(carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts
remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state
offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet,
if not exactly recherché alternative to the standard
county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow
inmates are hardened and privileges are few.

Many of the self-pay jails operate like secret velvet-
roped nightclubs of the corrections world. You have
to be in the know to even apply for entry, and even
if the court approves your sentence there, jail
administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting
anyone they wish.

“I am aware that this is considered to be a five-star
Hilton,” said Nicole Brockett, 22, who was recently
booked into one of the jails, here in Orange County
about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and paid
$82 a day to complete a 21-day sentence for a drunken
driving conviction.

Ms. Brockett, who in her oversize orange T-shirt
and flip-flops looked more like a contestant on
“The Real World” than an inmate, shopped around
for the best accommodations,

“It’s clean here,” she said, perched in a jail day
room on the sort of couch found in a hospital
emergency room. “It’s safe and everyone here is
really nice. I haven’t had a problem with any of
the other girls. They give me shampoo.”

For roughly $75 to $127 a day, these convicts —
who are known in the self-pay parlance as “clients”
— get a small cell behind a regular door, distance
of some amplitude from violent offenders and, in some
cases, the right to bring an iPod or computer on which
to compose a novel, or perhaps a song.

Many of the overnighters are granted work furlough,
enabling them to do most of their time on the job,
returning to the jail simply to go to bed (often
following a strip search, which granted is not
so five-star).

The clients usually share a cell, but otherwise mix
little with the ordinary nonpaying inmates, who tend
to be people arrested and awaiting arraignment, or
federal prisoners on trial or awaiting deportation
and simply passing through.

The pay-to-stay programs have existed for years, but
recently attracted some attention when prosecutors
balked at a jail in Fullerton that they said would
offer computer and cellphone use to George Jaramillo,
a former Orange County assistant sheriff who pleaded
no contest to perjury and misuse of public funds,
including the unauthorized use of a county helicopter.
Mr. Jaramillo was booked into the self-pay program
in Montebello, near Los Angeles, instead.

“We certainly didn’t envision a jail with cellphone
and laptop capabilities where his family could bring
him three hot meals,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, the
public affairs counsel for the Orange County district
attorney. “We felt that the use of the computer was
part of the instrumentality of his crime, and that
is another reason we objected to that.”

A spokesman for the Fullerton jail said cellphones
but not laptops were allowed.

While jails in other states may offer pay-to-stay
programs, numerous jail experts said they did not
know of any.

“I have never run into this,” said Ken Kerle, managing
editor of the publication American Jail Association
and author of two books on jails. “But the rest of the
country doesn’t have Hollywood either. Most of the
people who go to jail are economically disadvantaged,
often mentally ill, with alcohol and drug problems
and are functionally illiterate. They don’t have
$80 a day for jail.”

The California prison system, severely overcrowded,
teeming with violence and infectious diseases and so
dysfunctional that much of it is under court supervision,
is one that anyone with the slightest means would most
likely pay to avoid.

“The benefits are that you are isolated and you don’t
have to expose yourself to the traditional county system,”
said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for CSI, a national
provider of jails that runs three in Orange County with
pay-to-stay programs. “You can avoid gang issues. You
are restricted in terms of the number of people you are
encountering and they are a similar persuasion such as you.”

Most of the programs — which offer 10 to 30 beds — stay
full enough that marketing is not necessary, though that
was not always the case. The Pasadena jail, for instance,
tried to create a little buzz for its program when it was
started in the early 1990s.

“Our sales pitch at the time was, ‘Bad things happen
to good people,’ ” said Janet Givens, a spokeswoman
for the Pasadena Police Department. Jail representatives
used Rotary Clubs and other such venues as their potential
marketplace for “fee-paying inmate workers” who are
charged $127 a day (payment upfront required).

“People might have brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.,
who might have had a lapse in judgment and do not want
to go to county jail,” Ms. Givens said.

The typical pay-to-stay client, jail representatives
agreed, is a man in his late 30s who has been convicted
of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to a month
or two in jail.

But there are single-night guests, and those who
linger well over a year.

“One individual wanted to do four years here,” said
Christina Holland, a correctional manager of the
Santa Ana jail.

Inmates in Santa Ana who have been approved for pay
to stay by the courts and have coughed up a hefty
deposit for their stay, enter the jail through
a lobby and not the driveway reserved for the arrival
of other prisoners. They are strip searched when
they return from work each day because the biggest
problem they pose is the smuggling of contraband,
generally cigarettes, for nonpaying inmates.

Most of the jailers require the inmates to do chores
around the jails, even if they work elsewhere during
the day.

“I try real hard to keep them in custody for 12 hours,”
Ms. Holland said. “Because I think that’s fair.”

Critics argue that the systems create inherent
injustices, offering cleaner, safer alternatives
to those who can pay.

“It seems to be to be a little unfair,” said Mike
Jackson, the training manager of the National Sheriff’s
Association. “Two people come in, have the same offense,
and the guy who has money gets to pay to stay and the
other doesn’t. The system is supposed to be equitable.”

But cities argue that the paying inmates generate cash,
often hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — enabling
them to better afford their other taxpayer-financed
operations — and are generally easy to deal with.

“We never had a problem with self pay,” said Steve Lechuga,
the operations manager for CSI. “I haven’t seen any
fights in years. We had a really good success rate
with them.”

Stanley Goldman, a professor of criminal law at Loyola
Law School in Los Angeles, has recommended the program
to former clients.

“The prisoners who are charged with nonviolent crimes
and typically have no record are not in the best position
to handle themselves in the general county facility,”
Professor Goldman said.

Still, no doubt about it, the self-pay jails are not
to be confused with Canyon Ranch.

The cells at Santa Ana are roughly the size of a custodial
closet, and share its smell and ambience. Most have little
more than a pink bottle of jail-issue moisturizer and a book
borrowed from the day room. Lockdown can occur for hours
at a time, and just feet away other prisoners sit with their
faces pressed against cell windows, looking menacing.

Ms. Brockett, who normally works as a bartender in Los
Angeles, said the experience was one she never cared
to repeat.

“It does look decent,” she said, “but you still feel
exactly where you are.”


14) The Abstinence-Only Delusion
April 28, 2007

Reliance on abstinence-only sex education as the primary
tool to reduce teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted
diseases — as favored by the Bush administration and
conservatives in Congress — looks increasingly foolish
and indefensible.

The abstinence-only campaign has always been driven more
by ideology than by sound public health policy. The program’s
tight rules, governing states that accept federal matching
funds and community organizations that accept federal grants,
forbid the promotion of contraceptive use and require teaching
that sex outside marriage is likely to have harmful
psychological and physical effects.

At least nine states, by one count, have decided to give
up the federal matching funds rather than submit to dictates
that undermine sensible sex education. Now there is growing
evidence that the programs have no effect on children’s
sexual behavior.

A Congressionally mandated report issued this month by the
Mathematica Policy Research firm found that elementary
and middle school students in four communities who received
abstinence instruction — sometimes on a daily basis — were
just as likely to have sex in the following years as students
who did not get such instruction. Those who became sexually
active — about half of each group — started at the same age
(14.9 years on average) and had the same number of sexual
partners. The chief caveat is that none of the four programs
studied continued the abstinence instruction into high school,
the most sexually active period for most teenagers, so it
is not known whether more sustained abstinence education
would show more effectiveness.

Supporters of abstinence-only education sometimes point
to a sharp decline in teenage pregnancy rates in recent
years as proof that the programs must be working. But a paper
by researchers at Columbia University and the Guttmacher
Institute, published in the January issue of The American
Journal of Public Health, attributed 86 percent of the decline
to greater and more effective use of contraceptives — and
only 14 percent to teenagers’ deciding to wait longer to
start having sex. At the very least, that suggests that
the current policy of emphasizing abstinence and minimizing
contraceptive use should be turned around.

As Congress prepares to debate further financing, it should
either drop the abstinence-only program as a waste of money
or broaden it to include safe-sex instruction. Abstinence
deserves to be part of a comprehensive sex education effort,
but not the only part.


15) Somali Capital Now Calm After Month
in Which 1,000 Were Killed
April 28, 2007

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 27 — An eerie calm slipped over
Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on Friday for the first
time in a month.

After intense combat that killed more than 1,000 people,
insurgents melted back into the broken city, and hundreds
of families began to return home.

The transitional Somali government claimed victory,
saying that its troops had vanquished the insurgency
and that peace and prosperity were just around the corner.
“The fighting in Mogadishu is over,” said Abdikarim Farah,
Somalia’s ambassador to Ethiopia, at a news conference
in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“Mogadishu was once called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean,”
he said. “God willing, it will come to deserve that
name again.”

On Friday, though, the city hardly looked like a pearl.
Bodies covered with flies littered the streets, and many
buildings were still smoking. Looters picked through the
Coca-Cola factory, where a year’s supply of sugar was stolen.

In the past month the people of Mogadishu have endured
some of the heaviest combat ever fought in the city,
which like the rest of Somalia has gone 16 years without
a functioning government.

Much of the fighting was artillery exchanges between
Ethiopian-led forces backing the transitional government
and insurgents connected to the Islamist movement
that was recently ousted from power.

Civilians were caught in the cross-fire, and United Nations
officials estimate that more than 350,000 people fled.

On Friday a trickle of them returned to inspect charred
homes and bullet-pocked streets. The United Nations has
ambitious plans to roll a convoy of trucks into Mogadishu
and the surrounding area to feed hundreds of thousands
of people. The first food shipment arrived Thursday.

But the insurgency is probably not over.

Instead, it seems, the insurgents have simply absorbed
the same lesson that the Islamist militias learned in
December when the conflict started: that undisciplined
bands of young fighters are no match for better trained,
better equipped Ethiopian soldiers.

“Their snipers were killing us left and right,” said
Mohammed Isse, 45, a gunman who left an Islamist militia
to join an insurgent group.

Mr. Isse estimated that Ethiopian soldiers had killed
more than 800 insurgents. Still, he was unbowed. “We’re
just going to switch tactics,” he said. “We’re thinking
suicide bombs, kidnappings and attacks on government hotels.”

“Stuff like that,” he added.

Will Connors contributed reporting from Addis Ababa,
and Yuusuf Maxamuud from Mogadishu.


U.S. Launches Targeted Assassination Air Strikes in Somalia,
Many Reported Killed
Tuesday, January 9th, 2007


16) Ethiopia bought arms from North Korea with U.S. assent
By Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti
Sunday, April 8, 2007

WASHINGTON: Three months after the United States successfully
pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North
Korea because of that country's nuclear test, officials in
the Bush administration allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret
arms purchase from Pyongyang in what appears to be a violation
of the restrictions, according to senior U.S. officials.

The United States allowed the arms delivery to go through
in January in part because Ethiopian troops were in the midst
of a military offensive against Islamic militias inside Somalia,
a campaign that aided the U.S. policy of combating religious
extremists in the Horn of Africa.

U.S. officials said they were still encouraging Ethiopia
to wean itself from its longstanding reliance on North Korea
for cheap Soviet-era military equipment, and that Ethiopian
officials appeared receptive.

But the arms deal is an example of the compromises that result
from the clash of two foreign policy absolutes: the Bush
administration's commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism
and its effort to starve the North Korean government of money
it could use to build up its nuclear weapons program.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as the administration
has made counterterrorism its top foreign policy concern,
the White House has sometimes shown a willingness to tolerate
misconduct by allies that it might otherwise criticize,
like human rights violations in Central Asia and anti-
democratic crackdowns in some Arab nations.

Nor is this the first time the Bush administration has made
an exception for allies in their dealings with Pyongyang.
In 2002, the Spanish military intercepted a ship carrying
Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen. At the time, Yemen
was working with the United States to hunt members of Al Qaeda
operating within its borders, and after its government protested,
Washington asked that the freighter be released.

Yemen said at the time that the shipment was the last one
from an earlier missile purchase, and that it would not
be repeated.

U.S. officials from a number of agencies described details
of the Ethiopia episode on the condition of anonymity because
they were discussing internal Bush administration deliberations.

Several officials said they first learned that Ethiopia planned
to receive a delivery of military cargo from North Korea when
the country's government alerted the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia's capital, after the adoption on Oct. 14 of the
UN Security Council measure imposing sanctions.

"The Ethiopians came back to us and said, 'Look, we know we
need to transition to different customers, but we just can't
do that overnight,' " said one U.S. official, who added that
the issue had been handled properly.

U.S. intelligence agencies reported in late January that
an Ethiopian cargo ship that was probably carrying tank
parts and other military equipment had left a North Korean

The exact value of the shipment is unclear, but Ethiopia
purchased $20 million dollars worth of arms from North Korea
in 2001, according to U.S. estimates.

After a brief debate in Washington, the decision was made
not to block the arms deal and to press Ethiopia not to
make future purchases.

John Bolton, who helped to push the sanctions resolution
through the Security Council in October before stepping
down as UN ambassador, said the Ethiopians had long known
that Washington was concerned about their arms purchases
from North Korea and that the Bush administration should
not have tolerated the January shipment.

"To make it clear to everyone how strongly we feel on this
issue we should have gone to the Ethiopians and said they
should send it back," said Bolton, who said he was unaware
of the deal before being contacted for this article. "I know
they have been helpful in Somalia, but there is a nuclear
weapons program in North Korea that is unhelpful for
everybody worldwide.

"Never underestimate the strength of 'clientitis' at the
State Department," said Bolton, using Washington jargon for
a situation in which State Department officials are deemed
to be overly sympathetic to the countries with which they
conduct diplomacy.

Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, declined
to comment on the specifics of the arms shipment but said
the United States was "deeply committed to upholding and
enforcing UN Security Council resolutions." Repeated efforts
to contact the Ethiopian Embassy were unsuccessful.

In other cases, the United States has been strict in enforcing
the Security Council resolution. U.S. intelligence agencies
tracked a North Korean freighter suspected of carrying illicit
weapons and pressed several nations to refuse to allow the
ship to dock. The government of Myanmar finally allowed
it to anchor and insisted that officials had found no cargo
that violated the resolution.

North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on Oct. 9.
The Security Council resolution, adopted less than a week
later, was hailed by President George W. Bush as "swift
and tough" and a "clear message to the leader of North
Korea regarding his weapons programs."

In 2005, the Bush administration told Ethiopia and other
African nations that it wanted them to phase out their
purchases from North Korea. But the Security Council
resolution put an international imprimatur on the earlier
U.S. request, and the administration sought to reinforce
the message.

In late January, the CIA reported that the Tekeze,
a vessel flying the flag of Ethiopia, had left a North
Korean port and that its cargo probably included "tank
parts," among other military equipment. U.S. officials
said the Ethiopians acknowledged that the ship was en route
and said they needed the military equipment to sustain
their Soviet-era military.

Ethiopia has a longstanding border dispute with Eritrea,
but it was also focused on neighboring Somalia, an issue
of greater concern to Washington. Islamic forces there had
taken over Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, six months earlier
and were attacking Baidoa, the seat of a relatively powerless
transitional government that was formed with the support
of the United Nations.

The timing of the shipment was awkward. The Ethiopian
military began an offensive in Somalia to drive back the
Islamic forces and install the transitional government in
Mogadishu late last year, and the United States was providing
it with detailed intelligence about the positions of the
Islamic forces and had positioned navy ships off Somalia's
coast to capture fighters trying to escape the battlefield
by sea.

After some internal debate, the Bush administration decided
not to make an issue of the cargo ship.

U.S. officials insist that they are keeping up the pressure
on Ethiopia. While Ethiopia has not provided an ironclad
assurance that it will accept no more arms shipments from
North Korea, it has told the United States that it will
look for other weapons suppliers.


17) San Francisco Bay Area Reacts Angrily
to Series of Immigration Raids
April 28, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, April 27 — It was not the typical Bay Area
morning. Before dawn on March 6, dozens of federal
immigration agents conducted surprise raids in San Rafael
and nearby Novato, two comfortable Marin County suburbs
where the idea of early morning excitement usually involves
a trip to Starbucks.

The raids are part of the government’s Operation Return
to Sender, in which more than 23,000 people have been
arrested nationwide, including more than 1,800 in Northern
and Central California, immigration officials said.

And while the raids have upset many pro-immigrant groups
nationwide, that displeasure has been particularly acute
in the Bay Area, a region that generally bends left
politically and where many cities consider themselves
so-called “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants.

“These people have been here many, many years and they
have an investment in the community,” said Mayor Al Boro
of San Rafael, a city of about 56,000 residents, a quarter
of whom are Latino. “And we need to respect that.”

Several city councils have passed resolutions expressing
their anger about the raids, and local religious leaders
have issued stern proclamations. The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of San Francisco, for example, said in late
March that they were inhumane and called for their
immediate end. The raids have also led to protests
in several cities, with another round planned for
Tuesday in the area’s three largest cities: San Francisco,
San Jose and Oakland.

The raids have even upset people in more conservative
regions to the east. In Mendota, an agricultural town
in the Central Valley that calls itself the “Cantaloupe
Center of the World,” the City Council passed a resolution
last month condemning them. The raids, according to the
resolution, had driven much-needed migrant workers
underground and caused “emotional turmoil and financial

In Richmond, another economically challenged city just
east across the bay from San Francisco, Mayor Gayle
McLaughlin, a member of the Green Party, wrote a bill
restating an ordinance that prohibits city employees
from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
It passed the City Council unanimously in February.

That sanctuary sentiment was also echoed on Sunday
in a speech by Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco,
a Democrat, who repeated his city’s noncooperative
status, a move that drew a rebuke from a Republican
lawmaker in Washington, Representative Tom Tancredo
of Colorado, who called the mayor’s actions “a clear
and direct violation of the law.”

The anti-raid sentiments have also energized some
opponents of immigration. A recent protest in San
Rafael was also attended by nearly 100 members of
anti-immigrant groups, including members of the
Northern California chapter of the Minuteman Civil
Defense Corps, a group that advocates stronger

Much of the debate has been focused in San Rafael,
a genial bayside commuter city about 20 miles north
of San Francisco. Shortly after the raids, Mr. Boro
sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat
of California, saying they had “left our city in
turmoil,” with residents now distrustful of the
police and children fearful of losing their parents.

“Waking people up in the dark of night, at 5 a.m.,
in their homes seems more like a scare tactic than
a law enforcement necessity,” Mr. Boro wrote.

Calls to the local police have decreased in recent
weeks, Mr. Boro said, and he attributed the dropoff
to the immigration raids’ “chilling effect because
people think our police were involved.”

Educators in San Rafael said the raids sent schools
into “a state of emergency” as American-born children
were suddenly without one or both parents who had
been caught up in the sweeps. Shortly afterward,
absenteeism at school spiked, and school officials
asked teachers and others to ride buses with students
to make sure a caregiver picked them up.

A school board member, Jenny Callaway, said she
feared that test scores of anxiety-ridden students
would suffer. “Our charge is to provide a quality
education regardless of citizenship,” Ms. Callaway
said. “How do we do this when children are afraid
to come to the bus stop?”

One student caught up in the raids was 7-year-old
Kebin Reyes, who was with his father, Noe, when he
was arrested early in the morning of March 6. Mr. Reyes,
37, a Guatemalan, said that after his arrest, he was
not allowed to call relatives to come to pick up his
son, and that they both were held all day in a locked
room at the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
in San Francisco, an experience he says left his
son traumatized.

“Before the arrest, my son was very friendly and would
speak to most anyone, very active,” Mr. Reyes said,
through a translator. “Since the day of the arrest,
Kebin has turned to be very reserved and quiet and
not as open to speak to anyone.”

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed
suit on behalf of Kebin, who was born in the United
States and is an American citizen, charging that
federal authorities had violated his constitutional
rights. Immigration officials would not comment
on the specifics of the case, but said agents had
acted appropriately.

“When we encounter minors in the course of an enforcement
action, we will not leave them unattended,” said Virginia
Kice, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency. “This
young man was not arrested; he was transported along
with this father to the I.C.E. office, where he was
supervised until a family member came to get him.”

Immigration agency officials say Mr. Reyes was ordered
deported in 2000, the same year his son was born. He is
fighting that order, and a hearing is scheduled in June.
But there is no question, Mr. Reyes said, about his
son’s status.

“My son has the same rights as any American citizen,”
he said. “He is born here in California.”


18)Hold the reforms -- Castro is back
"Cuba's leader is reasserting some leadership
roles. That's bad news for those who hoped to ease
economic strictures."
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer
April 28, 2007,0,4583238.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Nine months after falling victim to an illness
that many U.S. analysts assumed would prove
fatal, Fidel Castro appears to have come back
from death's door to resume some leadership
responsibilities and rein in Cuba's would-be

He's receiving visiting dignitaries, not just
friends such as Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia
Marquez and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez but
official delegations, including one last week led
by a senior figure in the Chinese Communist Party,
Wu Guanzheng.

Castro's name is again attached to editorials for
Cuba's state-run media, ones in which the U.S.
government is lambasted for freeing an accused
terrorist and Brazil is criticized for using food
crops for ethanol production when they could be
feeding Latin America's poor.

And, to the alarm of veteran Cuba-watchers who
sensed a new degree of openness to economic
change during Castro's absence, the apparently
reinvigorated revolutionary is now believed to be
blocking moves to let Cubans open small businesses.

U.S. analysts of Cuban developments acknowledge
that they know little about Castro's illness or
the degree of his recuperation. His personal
secretary said he was suffering from intestinal
bleeding when he handed over power last summer to
his brother Raul. U.S. intelligence sources have
speculated that he has cancer.

But the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported the
most detailed and plausible version of his
prolonged medical attention, citing unidentified
doctors familiar with Castro's case. The
newspaper said the Cuban president had undergone
three surgeries to remove infected intestinal
tissue and became gravely ill when the incisions
failed to heal and the infection spread to his

Since July 31, when Raul Castro, the defense
minister and first vice president, took over for
his older brother, state-authorized media exposes
on rampant corruption and the younger Castro's
public criticism of shortages in food,
transportation and housing have hinted at
internal review of Cuba's political and economic
system, said Phil Peters, vice president of the
Lexington Institute near Washington and a veteran
analyst of Cuban affairs.

Raul, the pragmatist

Raul Castro has a reputation for pragmatism about
private enterprise within the state-run economy,
having inaugurated many of the island's most
successful hard currency-earning joint ventures
in tourism in the early 1990s, when the country
was reeling from the sudden cutoff of Soviet aid.

After Fidel Castro was too sick even to make an
appearance at the September summit in Havana of
the Non-Aligned Movement or at his delayed 80th
birthday celebrations in December, the government
said that a thorough review was underway to
identify, and presumably correct, flaws in the
communist ideology guiding the country.

"Now it looks like cold water's getting poured
over all that," Peters said. "That, to me, is the
clearest sign that Fidel Castro is getting better
and getting closer to coming back to office."

Castro remains staunchly critical of income
disparities among Cubans, including the estimated
$1 billion in annual remittances from relatives
abroad that are believed to benefit as much as a
third of the island's population.

State salaries average about $15 a month for most
workers, so the $100 a month that Cubans in the
United States can legally send their relatives in
Cuba has created a class divide between those who
receive dollars and those who do not.

Also prospering out of proportion to those in
state enterprises are the thousands of
entrepreneurs who secured licenses during the
early 1990s that allowed them to open private
restaurants, pensions and consumer services that
cater to the 2 million foreign visitors
to Cuba each year.

Castro revoked many of those private-enterprise
licenses three years ago and imposed withering
taxes, just before he ordered the removal of the
U.S. dollar from circulation in Cuba and replaced
it with a new national currency called the
convertible peso, which has no value outside Cuba.

Hopes of an expansion in self-employment were
buoyed last fall when Raul Castro began speaking
out in interviews and speeches against the
government's inability to properly provide for
its 11.2 million citizens.

Those hopes were dashed, at least for the short
term, this month when Cuban Vice President Carlos
Lage, architect of the early 1990s reforms,
parroted Fidel Castro's condemnation of "social
distortions" in a speech to a Communist youth
group. Cuban media also reported recently that
the academic commission assigned to examine
problems with state ownership wouldn't deliver
its verdict for three years.

Peters believes the debate opened late last year
will continue "airing out all kinds of dirty
laundry" and putting pressure on the leadership
to make course corrections.

"Carlos Lage also said, 'We, the Cuban
government, no longer pay a just wage that allows
people to cover their basic needs,' " Peters
said. "You can only say that so many times before
you have to come up with a solution to the problems."

Damian J. Fernandez, head of the Cuban Research
Institute at Florida International University in
Miami, agrees that a Pandora's box of ideological
debate has been opened that will eventually lead
to change.

"People are talking in Cuba. When the talk is
going to materialize into action, I don't know.
But this moment of succession, the transfer of
power, has broadened the parameters of what is
discussable, what is permissible," he said.
"There are still parameters, but the borderlines
are fuzzier."

Cubans remain patient

Still, Castro's return to the power structure
would put a damper on the debate, he said.

"To have an open, full-fledged discussion on the
future, Castro would have to be gone," Fernandez said.

Other analysts say the seesawing on reform could
threaten Cuba's relative social peace. Although
Cubans privately express a hunger for more
opportunity to improve their living standards,
they have remained patient throughout Castro's
rigid opposition to capitalist activity,
including the types of business now allowed
in allied Vietnam and China.

"He's in the way," Frank Mora, a professor of
national security strategy at the National War
College, said of Castro's apparent return to the
policymaking arena. "He's prolonging a real
transition. Whatever support Raul has been able
to build can run out quickly if he's not able
to deliver the goods."

However, he said, Cubans have shown little
inclination to challenge their system in the way
Eastern Europeans did two decades ago with
pro-democracy marches and protests. There also is
no discernible divide in the Cuban political or
military elite, Mora said, that could be
exploited by pro-democracy advocates, who are few
and fearful since a major crackdown on dissent
four years ago.

Although Cuba-watchers differ in their forecasts
of whether Fidel Castro will resume full power,
they agree he is making at least a partial
leadership comeback. By Communist protocol, the
head of the Cuban party should have received the
Wu delegation--a role Castro signed over to his
brother nine months ago.

"At least the PR campaign is that he is trying to
get back in the saddle," Fernandez said. "Can he
mount the horse as totally as in the past? I
think that's unlikely. But he can still have
a lot of influence."

What is the elder Castro's motivation for
reasserting control despite advancing age,
persistent infirmities and his own stated need to
groom a new generation of leaders?

"Once a micromanager, always a micromanager," Fernandez said.




Where is the outrage over military rape?

Bill Moyers special on how the press contributed to the
selling of the Iraq War.
11.[Skip this one -- it's the same as Part 10]

Americans want to give undocumented a break
By Emile Schepers
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 04/26/07 13:14

Soldiers Indicted in Killing
MADRID, April 27 (AP) — A judge indicted three American
soldiers on Friday in the 2003 death of a Spanish journalist
who was killed when their tank fired at a hotel in Baghdad.
Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip
DeCamp were charged with homicide in the death of the journalist,
José Manuel Couso Permuy, and with “a crime against the
international community,” defined as an indiscriminate or
excessive attack against civilians during war.
At the time of the shooting, the three soldiers were from
the Army’s Third Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga.
April 28, 2007

C.I.A. Held Qaeda Leader in Secret Jail for Months
"WASHINGTON, April 27 — The Central Intelligence Agency held
a captured Qaeda leader in a secret prison since last fall
and transferred him last week to the American military prison
at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, officials said Friday."
April 28, 2007

Rebuilt Iraq Projects Found Crumbling
April 29, 2007

Army Officer Accuses Generals of "Intellectual and Moral Failures"

By Dahr Jamail, Electronic Lebanon
"SRIFA, Southern Lebanon, 27 April (IPS) - Close to a
million unexploded bombs are estimated to litter southern
Lebanon, according to UN forces engaged in the hazardous
task of removing them. The United Nations Interim Force In
Lebanon (UNIFIL) was created by the Security Council in
1978 to confirm an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and
restore international peace and security. After the war
last year it has a new job on its hands."
27 April 2007

"Lawsuit Filed as NYPD Data Shows Police Stops Increased
by More than 500 Percent between 2002 and 2006, with Blacks
Comprising More than Half of All Stops"

Case of Police Videotaping Is Back in the Public Eye
April 27, 2007

Hurricane Survivors to Buy U.S. Trailers or Pay Rental Fee
April 27, 2007

Criminal Charges Are Expected Against Marines, Official Says
April 27, 2007

Court Asked to Limit Lawyers at Guantánamo
April 26, 2007

U.S. Officer in Iraq Charged With ‘Aiding the Enemy’
April 26, 2007

Israeli Democracy: For Jews Only?
April 25, 2007

Move Over G.M., Toyota Is No. 1
April 25, 2007

Manhattan: Housing Law Struck Down
Justice Marilyn Shafer of State Supreme Court yesterday
struck down the Tenant Empowerment Act, a 2005 New York
City law giving tenants in subsidized rental buildings
the right of first refusal to buy their buildings if the
owners decide to sell or quit rental assistance programs
like Mitchell-Lama. Justice Shafer said she “reluctantly”
concluded that the city cannot limit rights granted to
building owners by the State Legislature in allowing them
to withdraw from Mitchell-Lama. The Legislature itself
could choose to protect middle- and low-income tenants
in those buildings, she pointed out. “In failing to do
so, or to permit the City of New York to do so, the State
Legislature has failed the residents of the City of New
York,” she wrote in her opinion.
April 25, 2007

Guantánamo Detainee Charged
A Canadian detained in Afghanistan and held at Guantánamo
Bay since 2002 was charged with murder. The detainee, Omar
Khadr, 20, is accused of throwing a grenade that killed
a Special Forces soldier while fighting with the Taliban
in Afghanistan, and planting mines aimed at American convoys.
The military charged him with murder, providing support
to terrorism, attempted murder, conspiracy and spying.
April 25, 2007

Panel Hears About Falsehoods in 2 Wartime Incidents
April 25, 2007

Mexico City Legalizes Abortion Early in Term
April 25, 2007

OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry
April 25, 2007

Chavez Asks UN to Intervene in Posada Case
"CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asked the United
Nations on Sunday to intervene in the case of international
terrorist Luis Posada Carrilles, placed in freedom last week
by the United States government.
Speaking on his Alo Presidente TV and radio program, Chavez
called the decision to release Posada embarrassing and proof
of the double standard by the US government on the issue
of terrorism.
Chavez reiterated Venezuela’s demand that Posada be extradited
to the South American country to stand trial for organizing
a 1976 plane bombing that killed 73 persons.
The outcry against the freeing of the terrorist was echoed
in several countries around the world.
Upon arriving for a visit to Havana, Gennady Andreyevich
Zyuganov, chairman of the Central Executive Committee
of Russia's Communist Party, said the release of Posada
exceeds the limits of cynicism and shame.
La Opinion, the Los Angeles Spanish language newspaper,
ran an editorial Sunday calling the release of Posada
a defeat of the US legal system and adds that the move
sends a contradictory message from the US government.
In Haiti, Dr. Jean Renald Clerisme, minister of Foreign
Affairs and Worship, said the release of the terrorist
was an insult to justice. "This man deserves to be
brought to justice and there is no doubt that the
world has already condemned him".
In Moscow, the Russian Venceremos Movement, made up
of different leftwing parties, and labor and civic
organizations, delivered a message to the United
States Embassy in which it repudiates the freeing
of Posada Carriles on bail. (Taken from Granma Daily)."

If You Want to Know if Spot Loves You So, It’s in His Tail
April 24, 2007

Nissan Will Offer Buyouts
April 24, 2007

California: City Won’t Aid Immigration Officials
Police officers and other city employees will not help
federal immigration authorities seeking to round up and
deport illegal immigrant workers in San Francisco, Mayor
Gavin Newsom said Sunday. The mayor told a predominantly
Hispanic audience at St. Peter’s Church that while city
and state officials could not stop Immigration and Customs
Enforcement from conducting sweeps in the city, he would
do everything within his power to discourage them. “We
are a sanctuary city, make no mistake about it,”
Mr. Newsom said.
April 24, 2007

"Is It Too Late to Get Out?"
Housing Bubble Boondoggle
April 24, 2007

An island made by global warming
By Michael McCarthy, Environmental Editor
Published: 24 April 2007

Incremental Health Reform: Whose Life Doesn't Count?
by Rose Ann DeMoro

Officials Backing Down From Plan for Wall in Iraq
April 23, 2007

When Bremer Ruled Baghdad
How Iraq was Looted
April 21 / 22, 2007

FOCUS | Key Part of Bush's "No Child" Law Under Federal Probe

Now That Imus is Gone, What About All The Right-Wing Lies?
Fire The Media
by Mark T. Harris; April 22, 2007

William Fisher | Guantanamo Detainees in Isolation,
Diplomatic Limbo

Lower Manhattan, Higher Testosterone
"Since 2000, men, mostly between ages 25 and 44, have
accounted for more than three-fourths of the population
increase in Lower Manhattan. As a result, according to
a special census calculation, the sex ratio there increased
to 126 men per 100 women in 2005, from 101 men per 100 women
in 2000. In the rest of Manhattan, and in the city over all,
there were only 90 men for every 100 women."
April 22, 2007

Blue Angel Jet Crashes at S.C. Air Show
April 22, 2007

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves
April 22, 2007

War Resister Agustin Aguayo Released
"Army medic Agustin Aguayo was released this week after
more than six months in military custody for refusing
to deploy to Iraq a second time.
Aguayo went AWOL for weeks after refusing the order.
He was taken into military custody and jailed after
turning himself in. We speak with Agustin Aguayo's
wife, Helga."

Mike Farrell of M*A*S*H on His Journey to Actor and
"Actor Mike Farrell is perhaps best known for his role
as Captain B.J.Hunnicutt in the popular TV series
M*A*S*H. But aside from that, he is also
known for his decades of social justice activism.
Farrell has just come out with a new book called "Just
Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and

VIDEO | Depleted Uranium: Poisoning Our Planet

FOCUS | Soldier Says He Was Deployed With Head Injury

Ongoing Defiance/Political Gridlock in Lebanon
April 20, 2007

Maryland: Bodies of Miners Are Found
Workers found the bodies of two miners trapped when a wall
section collapsed in an open-pit coal mine in western Maryland,
a federal mine official said. The official, Bob Cornett,
acting regional director for the federal Mine Safety and
Health Administration, said the men, one of whom was found
in a backhoe, and the other, found in a bulldozer, appeared
to have died instantly. The cause of the collapse was under
investigation. Mr. Cornett said heavy rain and the ground’s
freezing and thawing could be a factor. The mine, about
150 miles west of Baltimore, has had no fatal injuries since
at least 1995 and was not cited for violations in its most
recent inspection, which began March 5, according the federal
mine agency.
April 21, 2007

Fish-Killing Virus Spreading in the Great Lakes
"CHICAGO, April 20 — A virus that has already killed tens
of thousands of fish in the eastern Great Lakes is spreading,
scientists said, and now threatens almost two dozen aquatic
species over a wide swath of the lakes and nearby waterways."
April 21, 2007

Army’s Documents Detail Secrecy in Tillman Case
April 21, 2007

Anger and Alternatives on Abortion
April 21, 2007

World Opposed to U.S. as Global Cop

Supreme Court Backtracks on Abortion Rights

Report: World Needs to Axe Greenhouse Gases by 80 Pct

Iraq Refugees: The Hidden Face of the War

World Bank May Target Family Planning

2 Miners Trapped in Maryland Under Up to 100 Feet of Rock
April 20, 2007

Leading Article: A global warning from the dust bowl of Australia
Published:?20 April 2007

General strike in the Spanish province of Cadiz to support
employees of Delphi
April 18, 2007

Graffiti Figure Admired as Artist Now Faces Vandalism Charges
April 19, 2007

Pet Food Recall Expanded
April 19, 2007

Pet Food Recall
Updated: April 19, 2007

Gates Reassures Israel About Arms Sales in Gulf
April 19, 2007

A Lot of Uninvited Guests
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail
"DAMASCUS, Apr 18 (IPS) - The massive influx of Iraqi refugees
into Syria has brought rising prices and overcrowding, but most
Syrians seem to have accepted more than a million of the
refugees happily enough."

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Abortion Procedure
Filed at 12:53 p.m. ET
April 18, 2007

Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter
April 17, 2007

Housing Slump Takes a Toll on Illegal Immigrants
"HURON, Calif. — Some of the casualties of America’s housing
bust are easy to spot up and down California’s Central Valley."
April 17, 2007



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



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

Call, Email and Write:

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

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

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

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

National Council of Arab Americans (NCA)

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


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


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

Excerpt of interview between Barbara Walters and Hugo Chavez

Which country should we invade next?

My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup

Michael Moore- The Awful Truth

Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments

Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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




Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


Petition: Halt the Blue Angels


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


Film/Song about Angola


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


You may enjoy watching these.
In struggle


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

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

(scroll down when you get there])