Saturday, May 26, 2007



MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


Animated Video Preview
Narrated by Peter Coyote
Is now on YouTube and Google Video

We are planning on making the ADDICTED To WAR movie.
Can you let me know what you think about this animated preview?
Do you think it would work as a full length film?
Please send your response to:
Fdorrel@sbcglobal. net or Fdorrel@Addictedtow

In Peace,

Frank Dorrel
Addicted To War
P.O. Box 3261
Culver City, CA 90231-3261
fdorrel@sbcglobal. net
www.addictedtowar. com

For copies of the book:

Frank Dorrel
P.O. BOX 3261
CULVER CITY, CALIF. 90231-3261
$10.00 per copy (Spanish or English); special bulk rates
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1) Tale of last 90 minutes of woman's life
County officials express dismay at the events surrounding
the recent controversial death at King-Harbor hospital.
One nurse has resigned.
By Charles Ornstein
Times Staff Writer
May 20, 2007,0,6057993.story?coll=la-home-center

By Fidel Castro Ruz
May 21, 2007

3) Racism goes on trial again in America's Deep South
“The prosecution of three black Louisiana youths
reveals the rise of discrimination by stealth.”
by Tom Mangold in Jena, Louisiana
The Observer (UK) - May 20, 2007,,2083762,00.html

4) San Francisco Labor Council Resolution
Denounces the Proposed Iraqi Oil Law
Hands Off Iraqi Oil!

5) Immigration Raid Leaves Sense of Dread in Hispanic Students
May 23, 2007

6) Paramilitary Ties to Elite In Colombia Are Detailed
Commanders Cite State Complicity in Violent Movement
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; A01

7) Poll Shows Opposition to Iraq War at All Time High
May 24, 2007

8) Graft Mars the Recruitment of Mexican Guest Workers
May 24, 2007

9) Castro, in First Details of Health Crisis,
Says He Is Back on Solid Food
May 24, 2007

10) Where Nobody Is Accountable
Inter Press Service
Ali al-Fadhily*
May 21, 2007

11) Bolivia: Capitalism Humanity's Worst Enemy
Associated Press
May 23, 2007

12) Black Leadership and
Black Mass Incarceration
By Bruce Dixon
Black Agenda Report (BAR)

13) Immigrants and Politics
Op-Ed Columnist
May 25, 2007

14) Democracy or Puppetry?
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

15) Bush Expects Everything to be
Solved with a Bang
By Fidel Castro
May 25, 2007
VIA email from: Walter Lippmann

16) Chávez creates state of fear among businesses
Posted on Fri, May. 25, 2007

17) Arrested While Grieving
Op-Ed Columnist
May 26, 2007

18) Some Union Local Members Call for Using Mail Ballots
May 26, 2007


1) Tale of last 90 minutes of woman's life
County officials express dismay at the events surrounding
the recent controversial death at King-Harbor hospital.
One nurse has resigned.
By Charles Ornstein
Times Staff Writer
May 20, 2007,0,6057993.story?coll=la-home-center

In the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor
Hospital, Edith Isabel Rodriguez was seen as a complainer.

"Thanks a lot, officers," an emergency room nurse told
Los Angeles County police who brought in Rodriguez early
May 9 after finding her in front of the Willowbrook hospital
yelling for help. "This is her third time here."

The 43-year-old mother of three had been released from
the emergency room hours earlier, her third visit in three
days for abdominal pain. She'd been given prescription
medication and a doctor's appointment.

Turning to Rodriguez, the nurse said, "You have already
been seen, and there is nothing we can do," according to
a report by the county office of public safety, which
provides security at the hospital.

Parked in the emergency room lobby in a wheelchair after
police left, she fell to the floor. She lay on the linoleum,
writhing in pain, for 45 minutes, as staffers worked
at their desks and numerous patients looked on.

Aside from one patient who briefly checked on her condition,
no one helped her. A janitor cleaned the floor around her
as if she were a piece of furniture. A closed-circuit
camera captured everyone's apparent indifference.

Arriving to find Rodriguez on the floor, her boyfriend
unsuccessfully tried to enlist help from the medical staff
and county police — even a 911 dispatcher, who balked
at sending rescuers to a hospital.

Alerted to the "disturbance" in the lobby, police stepped
in — by running Rodriguez's record. They found an outstanding
warrant and prepared to take her to jail. She died before
she could be put into a squad car.

How Rodriguez came to die at a public hospital, without
help from the many people around her, is now the subject
of much public hand-wringing. The county chief administrative
office has launched an investigation, as has the Sheriff's
Department homicide division and state and federal
health regulators.

The triage nurse involved has resigned, and the emergency
room supervisor has been reassigned. Additional disciplinary
actions could come this week.

The incident has brought renewed attention to King-Harbor,
a long-troubled hospital formerly known as King/Drew.

The Times reconstructed the last 90 minutes of Rodriguez's
life based on accounts by three people who have seen the
confidential videotape, a detailed police report, interviews
with relatives and an account of the boyfriend's 911 call.

"I am completely dumbfounded," said county Supervisor
Zev Yaroslavsky, who has seen the video recording.

"It's an indictment of everybody," he said. "If this woman
was in pain, which she appears to be, if she was writhing
in pain, which she appears to be, why did nobody bother …
to take the most minimal interest in her, in her welfare?
It's just shocking. It really is."

The story of Rodriguez's demise began at 12:34 a.m. when
two county police officers received a radio call of
a "female down" and yelling for help near the front
entrance of King-Harbor, according to the police report.

When they approached Rodriguez to ask what was wrong,
she responded in a "loud and belligerent voice that her
stomach was hurting," the report states. She said she
had 10 gallstones and that one of them had burst.

A staff member summoned by the police arrived with
a wheelchair and rolled her into the emergency room.
Among her belongings, one officer found her latest
discharge slip from the hospital, which instructed
her to "return to ER if nausea, vomit, more pain
or any worse."

When the officers talked to the emergency room nurse,
she "did not show any concern" for Rodriguez, the
police report said. The report identifies the nurse
as Linda Witland, but county officials confirmed that
her name is Linda Ruttlen, who began working for the
county in July 1992.

Ruttlen could not be reached for comment.

During that initial discussion with Ruttlen, Rodriguez
slipped off her wheelchair onto the floor and curled
into a fetal position, screaming in pain, the report said.

Ruttlen told her to "get off the floor and onto a chair,"
the police report said. Two officers and a different nurse
helped her back to the wheelchair and brought her close
to the reception counter, where a staff member asked
her to remain seated.

The officers left and Rodriguez again pitched forward
onto the floor, apparently unable to get up, according
to people who saw the videotape and spoke on the condition
of anonymity.

Because the tape does not have sound, it is not possible
to determine whether Rodriguez was screaming or what
she was saying, the viewers said. Because of the camera's
angle, in most scenes, she is but a grainy blob, sometimes
obstructed, moving around on the floor.

When Rodriguez's boyfriend, Jose Prado, returned to the
hospital after an errand and saw her on the floor, he
alerted nurses and then called 911.

According to Sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy, the dispatcher
said, "Look, sir, it indicates you're already in a hospital
setting. We cannot send emergency equipment out there
to take you to a hospital you're already at."

Prado then knocked on the door of the county police,
near the emergency room, and said, "My girlfriend needs
help and they don't want to help her," according to the
police report. A sergeant told him to consult the medical
staff, the report said. Minutes later, Prado came back
to the sergeant and said, "They don't want to help her."
Again, he was told to see the medical staff.

Within minutes, police began taking Rodriguez into custody.
When they told Prado that there was a warrant for Rodriguez's
arrest, he asked if she would get medical care wherever she
was taken. They assured him that she would. He then kissed
her and left, the police report said.

She was wheeled to the patrol vehicle and the door was opened
so that she could get into the back. When officers asked
her to get up, she did not respond. An officer tried to
revive her with an ammonia inhalant, then checked for
a pulse and found none. She died in the emergency room
after resuscitation efforts failed.

According to preliminary coroner's findings, the cause
was a perforated large bowel, which caused an infection.
Experts say the condition can bring about death fairly

Hours after her death, county Department of Health Services
spokesman Michael Wilson sent a note informing county
supervisors' offices about the incident but saying that
that police had been called because Rodriguez's boyfriend
became disruptive.

Health services Director Dr. Bruce Chernof said Friday
that subsequent information showed Prado was not, in fact,
disruptive. Chernof otherwise refused to comment, citing
the open investigation, patient privacy and "other issues."

Peavy, who supervises the sheriff's homicide unit, said
that although his investigation is not complete, "the
county police did absolutely, absolutely nothing wrong
as far as we're concerned."

The coroner's office may relay its final findings to
the district attorney's office for consideration of
criminal charges against hospital staff members,
Peavy said.

"I can't speak for the coroner and I can't speak for
the D.A., but that is certainly a possibility," he added.

Marcela Sanchez, Rodriguez's sister, said she has been
making tamales and selling them to raise money for her
sister's funeral and burial. Her family has been called
by attorneys seeking to represent them, but they do not
know whom to trust.

She said the latest revelations, which she learned from
The Times, are very troubling.

"Wow," she said. "If she was on the floor for that long,
how in the heck did nobody help her then?

"Where was their heart? Where was their humanity? …
When Jose came in, everybody was just sitting, looking.
Where were they?"

Sanchez said her sister was a giving person who always
took an interest in people in need, unlike those who
watched her suffer. "She would have taken her shoes
to give to somebody with no shoes," she said. Rodriguez,
a California native, performed odd jobs and lived
alternately with different relatives.

David Janssen, the county's chief administrative officer,
said the incident is being taken very seriously.
In a rare move, his office took over control of the
inquiry from the county health department and the office
of public safety.

"There's no excuse — and I don't think anybody believes
that there is," Janssen said.

Over the last 3 1/2 years, King-Harbor has reeled from
crisis to crisis.

Based on serious patient-care lapses, it has lost its
national accreditation and federal funding. Hundreds of
staff members have been disciplined and services cut.

Janssen said he was concerned that the incident would
divert attention from preparing the hospital for
a crucial review in six weeks that is to determine
whether it can regain federal funding.

If the hospital fails, it could be forced to close.

"It certainly isn't going to help," Janssen said.

At the same time, he said, the preliminary investigation
suggests that the fault primarily rests with the nurse
who resigned. "I think it's a tragic, tragic incident,
but it's not a systemic one."

Supervisor Gloria Molina, who hadn't seen the videotape,
said she wasn't sure the hospital had reformed.

"What's so discouraging and disappointing for me is that
it seems that this hospital at this point in time hasn't
really transformed itself — and I'm worried about it,"
she said.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich said he believed care had
improved at the hospital overall, but added, "It's
unconscionable that anyone would ignore a patient
in obvious distress."

Rodriguez's son, Edmundo, 25, said he still couldn't
understand why his mother died. "It's more than negligence.
I can't even think of the word."

His 24-year-old sister, Christina, said, "It just makes
it so much harder to grieve. It's so painful."

Times staff writers Stuart Pfeifer and Susannah Rosenblatt
contributed to this report.


By Fidel Castro Ruz
May 21, 2007

The press dispatches bring the news; it belongs to the Astute Class,
the first of its kind to be constructed in Great Britain in more than
two decades.

"A nuclear reactor will allow it to navigate without refuelling
during its 25 year of service. Since it makes its own oxigen and
drinking water, it can circumnavigate the globe without needing to
surface," was the statement to the BBC by Nigel Ward, head of the

"It‚s a mean looking beast", says another.

"Looming above us is a construction shed 12 storeys high. Within it
are 3 nuclear-powered submarines at different stages of
construction," assures yet another.

Someone says that "it can observe the movements of cruisers in New
York Harbor right from the English Channel, drawing close to the
coast without being detected and listen to conversations on cell
phones". "In addition, it can transport special troops in mini-subs
that, at the same time, will be able to fire lethal Tomahawk missiles
for distances of 1,400 miles", a fourth person declares.

El Mercurio, the Chilean newspaper, emphatically spreads the news.

The UK Royal Navy declares that it will be one of the most advanced
in the world. The first of them will be launched on June 8 and will
go into service in January of 2009.

It can transport up to 38 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish
torpedoes, capable of destroying a large warship. It will possess a
permanent crew of 98 sailors who will even be able to watch movies on
giant plasma screens.

The new Astute will carry the latest generation of Block 4 Tomahawk
torpedoes which can be reprogrammed in flight. It will be the first
one not having a system of conventional periscopes and, instead, will
be using fibre optics, infrared waves and thermal imaging.

"BAE Systems, the armaments manufacturer, will build two other
submarines of the same class," AP reported. The total cost of the
three submarines, according to calculations that will certainly be
below the mark, is 7.5 billion dollars.

What a feat for the British! The intelligent and tenacious people of
that nation will surely not feel any sense of pride. What is most
amazing is that with such an amount of money, 75 thousand doctors
could be trained to care for 150 million people, assuming that the
cost of training a doctor would be one-third of what it costs in the
United States. You could build 3 thousand polyclinics, outfitted with
sophisticated equipment, ten times what our country possesses.

Cuba is currently training thousands of young people from other
countries as medical doctors.

In any remote African village, a Cuban doctor can impart medical
knowledge to any youth from the village or from the surrounding
municipality who has the equivalent of a grade twelve education,
using videos and computers energized by a small solar panel; the
youth does not even have to leave his hometown, nor does he need to
be contaminated with the consumer habits of a large city.

The important thing is the patients who are suffering from malaria or
any other of the typical and unmistakable diseases that the student
will be seeing together the doctor.

The method has been tested with surprising results. The knowledge and
practical experience accumulated for years have no possible

The non-lucrative practice of medicine is capable of winning over all
noble hearts.

Since the beginning of the Revolution, Cuba has been engaged in
training doctors, teachers and other professionals; with a population
of less than 12 million inhabitants, today we have more Comprehensive
General Medicine specialists than all the doctors in sub-Saharan
Africa where the population exceeds 700 million people.

We must bow our heads in awe after reading the news about the English
submarine. It teaches us, among other things, about the sophisticated
weapons that are needed to maintain the untenable order developed by
the United States imperial system.

We cannot forget that for centuries, and until recently, England was
called the Queen of the Seas. Today, what remains of that privileged
position is merely a fraction of the hegemonic power of her ally and
leader, the United States.

Churchill said: Sink the Bismarck! Today Blair says: Sink whatever
remains of Great Britain‚s prestige!

For that purpose, or for the holocaust of the species, is what his
"marvellous submarine" will be good for.


3) Racism goes on trial again in America's Deep South
“The prosecution of three black Louisiana youths
reveals the rise of discrimination by stealth.”
by Tom Mangold in Jena, Louisiana
The Observer (UK) - May 20, 2007,,2083762,00.html

In the cool and beflagged small courtroom in Jena, Louisiana, three
black schoolboys - Robert Bailey, Theodore Shaw and Mychal Bell - are
about to go on trial for a playground fight that could see them jailed
for between 30 and 50 years.

Jena, about 220 miles north of New Orleans, is a small town of 3,000
people, 85 per cent of whom are white.

Tomorrow it will be the focus for a race trial which could put it on the
map alongside the bad old names of the Mississippi Burning Sixties such
as Selma or Montgomery, Alabama.

Jena is gaining national notoriety as an example of the new 'stealth'
racism, showing how lightly sleep the demons of racial prejudice in
America's Deep South, even in the year that a black man, Barak Obama, is
a serious candidate for the White House.

It began in Jena's high school last August when Kenneth Purvis asked the
headteacher if black students could break with a long-held tradition and
join the whites who sit under the tree in the school courtyard during
breaks. The boy was told that he and his friends could sit where they

The following morning white students had hung three nooses there. 'Bad
taste, silly, but just a prank,' was the response of most of Jena's

'To us those nooses meant the KKK [Ku Klux Klan], they meant, "Niggers,
we're going to kill you, we're going to hang you till you die,"' says
Caseptla Bailey, a black community leader and mother of one of the
accused. The three white perpetrators of what was seen as a race hate
crime were given 'in-school' suspensions (sent to another school for a
few days before returning).

Jena's major industry is growing and marketing junk pine. Walk down the
usually deserted main street and you will not find many black employees.
Bailey, 56, is a former air force officer and holder of a business
management degree. 'I couldn't even get a job in Jena as a bank teller,'
she said. 'Look at the banks and the best white-collar jobs and you'll
see only white and red necks in those collars.'

Billy Doughty, the local barber, has never cut black men's hair. 'They
just don't come here,' he mumbled.'Anyway, their hair is different
and difficult to cut.'

The majority of blacks live in an area known as Ward 10. Many homes are
trailers, or wooden shacks. Rubbish lies in the streets. On 'Snob Hill',
where the whites live, the spacious gardens and lawns are trimmed, the
gravelled drives boast SUVs and nice new saloons. Only two black
families live there. A teacher from Jena High had enough money to buy
his way in. But when he arrived local estate agents refused to show him
a 'white'property even though several were advertised in the local paper
('they're all under contract,' the agents lied). The teacher eventually
went to see one white owner and offered him cash. 'The guy preferred
green [dollars] to black, so I got the property,' laughed the teacher,
'but since we moved in three years ago we haven't been invited by a
single neighbour.'

On 30 November, someone tried to burn Jena High to the ground. The crime
remains unsolved. That same weekend race fights between teenagers broke
out downtown, and on 4 December racial tension boiled over once more in
the school. A white student, Justin Barker, was attacked, allegedly by
six black students.

The expected charges of assault and battery were not laid, and the six
were charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to
commit second-degree murder. They now face a lifetime in jail.

Barker spent the evening of the assault at the local Baptist church,
where he was seen by friends to be 'his usual smiling self'.

Nine days later, with the case technically sub judice, the District
Attorney made the following public statement to the local paper: 'I will
not tolerate this type of behavior. To those who act in this manner I
tell you that you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law
and with the harshest crimes that the facts justify. When you are
convicted I will seek the maximum penalty allowed by law. I will see to
it that you never again menace the students at any school in this

Bail for the impoverished students was set absurdly high, and most have
been held in custody. The town's mind seems to be made up.

But now the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
and the American Civil Liberties Union - 'damned outsiders' - have
become involved and have begun to recruit, enthuse and empower the local
black population. Reporters from the BBC and the New York Times have
been drawn to the story. Jena does not like this publicity and shifts
uncomfortably in the glare.

It is 42 years since President Lyndon Johnson closed the loopholes that
allowed southern states to discriminate against blacks. When the accused
shuffle into court tomorrow, it's Jena that will be on trial.


4) San Francisco Labor Council Resolution
Denounces the Proposed Iraqi Oil Law
Hands Off Iraqi Oil!

WHEREAS, in the opening days of the 2003 Iraq invasion, US soldiers were
ordered to protect the Oil Ministry, oil fields and refineries while
wholesale looting of Iraq's antiquities unfolded. The message to Iraqis was
clear: "We've come for the oil." There were no weapons of mass destruction.
Rather than democracy, the US brought massive destruction and civil war to
Iraq; and

WHEREAS, giving credence to Iraqi fears, the oil cartel has prepared a new
Oil Law which, if enacted by the parliament, will put effective control of
Iraq's vast oil resources in the hands of foreign companies. Nationalized
since 1975, Iraq's oil was, before the years of US sanctions and invasions,
the foundation for a relatively high standard of living, producing more
PhD's per capita than the U.S. and a health care system prized as the best
in the region; and

WHEREAS, President Bush says the war is not about oil but his actions belie
that claim. Before the 2003 invasion, the State Dep't "Oil & Energy Working
Group" met to plan how to open Iraq to foreign oil companies. The proposed
new Oil Law is virtually a photocopy of the "Options" plan first conceived
in Texas long before the US occupied Iraq. The law would create an Oil &
Gas Council, on which would sit representatives of Chevron, Exxon-Mobil,
Shell, BP, etc., whose tasks include approving their own contracts; and

WHEREAS, the practice in Iraq -- as in other countries with giant oil
reserves -- has been that control of oil production, development and sale
rests with the public sector. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran run their
industries this way. Yet the proposed Oil Law calls for long-term
contracts, handing to foreign companies effective control of Iraq's oil
industry for up to 30 years, and as much as 70% of the profits; and

WHEREAS, the Iraqi people will not take this looting of their national
treasure lying down. The Oil Law has been unanimously and strongly
condemned by all of Iraq's major labor federations, including the
Federation of Oil Unions. The law would make a mockery of Iraqi sovereignty
and deprive Iraqis of the resources they need to rebuild their shattered
country; and

WHEREAS, the leadership of the Democratic Party has embraced the draft Oil
Law and put it into the supplemental funding bill as one of the
"benchmarks" by which the Iraqi government will be measured. By doing so,
the Democratic leadership becomes complicit in a backdoor effort to
privatize Iraq's publicly owned oil resources -- second largest in the
world; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Labor Council join in solidarity with the
Oil Workers and Trade Unions of Iraq in opposing the proposed new Oil Law,
which is nothing less than a hijack of Iraq's oil by the international oil
cartel; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Council urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional
Democrats to clearly oppose this shameful raid on Iraqi oil, and remove
passage of the Oil Law from their list of "benchmarks." The Bush
Administration and IMF are pressing Iraq to adopt this law. It is
unconscionable for the Congress to become partners in trying to shove this
law, which will benefit only the rapacious oil companies, down the throats
of the Iraqi people.

- Adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council May 14, 2007 by unanimous vote.


5) Immigration Raid Leaves Sense of Dread in Hispanic Students
May 23, 2007

The day before everything happened, Alex Sorto left Willmar
High School as usual at 2:30, and grabbed a ride to his night
job as a janitor at the Jennie-O turkey processing plant.
He had been working there for four months, saving money
for college tuition, and hoping to study art even though
his mother wanted him to be a lawyer.

Alex had already heard there were immigration agents
in town, raiding the trailer parks and rented homes
of the Hispanics who had flocked to this county seat
on the Minnesota prairie in search of work at Jennie-O.
Alex believed that because he was a citizen, he was safe.

So he put in his eight hours sweeping and swabbing, and
went home to finish up the portfolio that was his final
project for communications class. The portfolio consisted
mostly of an autobiography. In it Alex recalled his early
years in Los Angeles, the child of two Honduran immigrants,
and the divorce that sent him and his mother, Rosa Sorto,
to a green-shingled duplex on Ann Street in Willmar.

As a senior, just a few weeks from graduation, Alex had
already passed the required state tests, which were being
administered at Willmar High the next morning.

So he knew he could sleep late, a rare treat on a weekday,
before starting his regular classes.

The next thing he knew, at the unfair hour of 6:30 a.m.
on April 13, he heard a banging noise. Groggy, he at first
assumed the racket came from the family upstairs.

By the time he tugged on a pair of jeans and walked toward
the living room, he could hear nearby voices shouting.
He saw his mother on the couch, being peppered with questions
by four immigration agents — questions about her papers,
questions about his, questions about two single men who
rented rooms from them. In his entire life, all 18 years,
Alex had never seen her so close to crying.

In the end, the agents from Immigration and Customs
Enforcement accepted the proof that Alex and his mother,
who has permanent resident status, were legal. The two
renters, Roberto and Augustine, were led away in handcuffs,
Roberto wearing only his boxer shorts.

Then Ms. Sorto discovered how the agents had apparently
entered her apartment; the window of the locked side door,
intact the previous night, was now broken.

Even after all the tumult, Ms. Sorto insisted that Alex
go to school. Even though it was 8:30, and he had no classes
for another hour, she drove him there. He watched her hands
quake as she tried to steer. In art class, his favorite,
he could not get his pencil to move. All he could think
about was what would become of him if his mother were
taken away.

Such was the triumph of Operation Cross Check, the federal
raid against illegal immigrants that went on for four days
last month in this community of about 18,500 people. To the
Department of Homeland Security, the operation was a success,
catching a convicted sex offender and several welfare cheats
among its 49 arrests. In a news release announcing the toll,
an immigration enforcement director for Minnesota said,
“Our job is to help protect the public from those who
commit crimes.”

Yet more than half of those arrested had committed no crime
other than being in the United States illegally, doing
the jobs at Jennie-O that prop up the local economy. And,
as the experience of Alex Sorto demonstrates, the aggressive,
invasive style of the sweep instilled lasting fear among
Willmar’s 3,000 Hispanics, many of them students born or
naturalized in the United States. These young people are
the political football in America’s bitter, unresolved
battle about immigration.

“All of us are scared,” said Andrea Gallegos, a junior
at the high school. “When you go to school, you don’t
know if your parents will be there when you come home.
I don’t feel safe anywhere — walking to the school bus,
walking outside the school building.”

Sharon Tollefson, a guidance counselor, had one promising
student vanish in the aftermath of the raid. The young man,
whom she identified by only his first name, Santiago, had
been attending both day and night classes to graduate this
spring. Ms. Tollefson was helping to arrange for him to visit
a local college, where he planned to study law enforcement
with the goal of becoming a police officer.

The first morning of the raids, April 10, Santiago took
his required state test in writing. The next day, when
he was supposed to sit for the math exam, he did not show
up at school. Ms. Tollefson has since heard rumors that
he was deported to Mexico.

“He was working his fanny off,” Ms. Tollefson said, almost
wistfully, in an interview last week. “I keep saying I’m not
taking him off my roster. I can’t believe he won’t be coming

THE objections to the immigration raid go far beyond the
anecdotal. A group of about 30 Hispanic residents of Willmar,
including Alex and Rosa Sorto, has filed suit in United States
District Court in Minneapolis, alleging that the immigration
and domestic security agencies violated the Constitution.
The suit maintains that the armed officers engaged in racial
profiling, and that they broke into private homes without
search warrants as part of a “campaign of terror and

Tim Counts, a spokesman for the immigration agency in
Minnesota, declined yesterday to answer the suit’s
allegations in detail, beyond saying that the operation
was “fully within the law and appropriate.” He also said
that homes were entered only with the permission of
residents, and added, “We will make our case in the
court of law.”

When Alex Sorto moved to Willmar in the late 1990s, he
said he kept quiet about his past. He felt as if he was
the only child in school with divorced parents. Over time,
he grew comfortable enough to share the secret without
being ostracized.

Since that April morning, Friday the 13th, he has reacquired
the habit of silence. His communications teacher suggested
that he try to put the whole experience out of his thoughts.
But she isn’t the one who worries about what could happen
if his mother gets stopped by “la Migra,” as the immigration
agents are known, on a day she left her driver’s license
at home.

“This was the year everything was supposed to go right for
me,” Alex said. “And then all this happened.”

Samuel G. Freedman is a professor of journalism at Columbia
University. His e-mail address is


6) Paramilitary Ties to Elite In Colombia Are Detailed
Commanders Cite State Complicity in Violent Movement
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; A01

MEDELLIN, Colombia -- Top paramilitary commanders have in recent days
confirmed what human rights groups and others have long alleged: Some
of Colombia's most influential political, military and business
figures helped build a powerful anti-guerrilla movement that operated
with impunity, killed civilians and shipped cocaine to U.S. cities.

The commanders have named army generals, entrepreneurs, foreign
companies and politicians who not only bankrolled paramilitary
operations but also worked hand in hand with fighters to carry them
out. In accounts that are at odds with those of the government, the
commanders have said their organization, rather than simply sprouting
up to fill a void in lawless regions of the country, had been
systematically built with the help of bigger forces.

"Paramilitarism was state policy," Salvatore Mancuso, a top
paramilitary commander, said last week at a hearing in this city's
Palace of Justice. "I am proof positive of state paramilitarism in

In a scandal that began to gain momentum last fall, investigators
have revealed dozens of cases of government collaboration with
paramilitary groups. But Mancuso's testimony, buttressed with remarks
made in a jailhouse interview by another top paramilitary commander,
represents the first time that major players in the scandal have
described in detail how the establishment joined forces with them.

Dozens of other top commanders are scheduled to testify before
special judicial hearings in the coming days and weeks. Their
testimony could help uncover the roots of the violence and drug
trafficking that have plagued this country and commanded significant
aid from Washington.

The administration of President Álvaro Uribe says that it has moved
aggressively to dismantle the paramilitary groups, and that its
determination to do so has made the investigations possible. The
investigations, however, have resulted in a collective and painful
catharsis for this country.

Ivan Duque, a strategist who helped formulate the ideology of the
paramilitary coalition known as the United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia, or AUC, said in an interview that the group had alliances
with anyone of influence in the regions where it operated.

"Could these three groups -- I'm talking about political people,
economic people, the institutional people, meaning the military --
operate without having contact with the chief of chiefs?" said Duque,
speaking from the Itagui prison in Medellin, which houses dozens of
paramilitary commanders. "That's impossible. That cannot be."

Chosen by his fellow commanders to speak to two American reporters,
Duque said last week that, now that the paramilitary commanders have
decided to air their dirty secrets, it also was time for the elites
who helped the AUC to come clean. He said paramilitary groups had
17,000 armed fighters and more than 10,000 other associates, from
cooks to drivers to computer technicians and informers. And he said
it was plain for anyone to see.

"Men armed to the teeth," Duque said, gesticulating as he sat in an
office provided by prison guards. "Could you really travel the whole
territory so that no one could see them, notice them, that no one
collaborate with them? That's why I talk of this county of
hypocrisies, this society of lies."

Colombia's paramilitary movement began more than a generation ago to
counter a growing Marxist guerrilla force and quickly turned into an
irregular army that committed widespread massacres and
assassinations, funding much of its operations with cocaine
trafficking. The attorney general's office estimates the paramilitary
fighters killed about 10,000 people from the mid-1990s until the
early part of this decade, when its commanders began negotiating a
disarmament with Uribe's government. The AUC is on the U.S. State
Department list of terrorist organizations.

Now, in a crucial post-disarmament phase that requires commanders to
reveal their crimes in exchange for lenient treatment, Mancuso and
others have begun to speak.

Mancuso's testimony came in the midst of a difficult week for Uribe,
whose administration has received $4 billion in mostly anti-drug and
military aid from Washington since his election in 2002. Authorities
arrested more congressional allies linked to paramilitary commanders,
and then Mancuso began making his uncomfortable disclosures.

"Salvatore Mancuso spoke," the newsweekly Semana said, "and the
country's political sector trembled."

Uribe remains highly popular in Colombia for lowering violence, but
in Washington, Democrats on Capitol Hill are citing the recent
disclosures in holding back support for a U.S. free-trade deal with

So far, authorities have charged 14 members of Colombia's Congress,
seven former lawmakers, the head of the secret police, mayors and
former governors with having collaborated with paramilitary
commanders. A dozen more current congressmen are under investigation.
Most have been close Uribe allies who supported a constitutional
amendment permitting his reelection and approved the lenient law,
known as Justice and Peace, that governs the paramilitary disarmament.

Though Mancuso testified earlier this year to ordering murders and
collaborating with military units, his testimony last week was much
more explosive. He spoke of working closely with three former
generals, all of whom have denied ties.

Mancuso's disclosures -- particularly about retired Gen. Rito Alejo
del Rio, known in the state of Antioquia as the "pacifier" of the
Uraba region -- are embarrassing for Uribe. Though Uribe's
predecessor, Andrés Pastrana, fired del Rio for collaborating with
paramilitary groups, and though the United States rescinded his visa,
Uribe has publicly eulogized him as an "honorable man" and defended
him in Washington.

"I support all the generals who were in Antioquia," Uribe told
Caracol radio earlier this year.

Perhaps Mancuso's biggest impact came when he said that two current
ministers in Uribe's government, Vice President Francisco Santos and
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, met with top paramilitary
commanders in the 1990s. The two men, cousins in an influential
family that owns El Tiempo, Colombia's most influential newspaper,
had acknowledged long ago having met with the paramilitary members.
Both said they did so to further peace in Colombia, not as part of a
sinister plot, as Mancuso alleged.

Mancuso's allegations have prompted some commentators to note that
the commander has besmirched as many people as possible while still
falling far short of accounting for all of the crimes he has
committed. "The strategy behind three days of testimony that tainted
people, institutions and business must be understood," said El Tiempo
in a Sunday editorial. "If the whole county is responsible, then no
one is responsible."

Still, Attorney General Mario Iguaran has noted that, under a new
system specially designed to try the commanders, they are required to
tell the truth or face losing benefits acquired under terms of the
disarmament law. "We should believe him," Iguaran told El Tiempo in
an interview. "That's the principle of the Justice and Peace law."

In the interview, Duque, the strategist, explained that he's writing
a book, tentatively titled "Stories of Silence," in which he plans to
lay out the history of paramilitarism. Once a small-town mayor and
teacher, Duque spoke of how deep anti-Marxist sentiments led him to
join the paramilitary groups. "I fell in love with this cause," he said.

Still, Duque called Colombia's war "dirty, slimy, anarchic,
anachronistic," and said paramilitary fighters had killed countless
civilians in massacres, contradicting long-held claims that those
slain in the attacks were Marxist guerrillas. And he said that the
paramilitary groups also murdered many union members for their
"ideological posture," not for purported ties to guerrillas, as was
claimed. "It was profoundly unjust," he said.

But Duque, like Mancuso, said that much of Colombia has to take
blame. "Colombia would turn another page," he said, "if in an act of
faith for our country we'd stand up and say straight out: 'Yes, I'm
guilty. Yes, I'm responsible.' "


7) Poll Shows Opposition to Iraq War at All Time High
May 24, 2007

Americans now view the war in Iraq more negatively than
at any time since the war began, according to the latest
New York Times/CBS News poll.

Six in 10 Americans surveyed say the United States should
have stayed out of Iraq, and more than three in four say
that things are going badly there — including nearly
half who say things are going very badly, the poll found.

Still, the majority of Americans support continuing
to finance the war, as long as the Iraqi government meets
specific goals.

President Bush’s approval ratings remain near the lowest
point of his more than six years in office. Thirty percent
of poll respondents approve of the job he’s doing overall,
while 63 percent disapprove. Majorities of those polled
disapprove of Mr. Bush’s handling of the situation in Iraq,
of foreign policy, of immigration, of the economy and
of the campaign against terrorism.

At a news conference in the Rose Garden this morning,
President Bush seemed to acknowledge the erosion of public
support for his administration’s policy in Iraq, even as he
defended the policy. “Failure in Iraq affects the security
of this country,” he said. “And it’s hard for some Americans
to see that. I fully understand it. I see it clearly.”

Mr. Bush said he saw a need for “more of a national
discussion” on “the consequences of failure in Iraq.”

“See, people have got to understand that if that government
were to fall, the people would tend to divide into kind
of sectarian enclaves much more so than today,” he said.
“That would invite Iranian influence and would invite
Al Qaeda influence, much more so than in Iraq today.”Beyond
the war issue, the poll found widespread concern over the
nation’s overall direction. More Americans — 72 percent —
now say that “generally, things in the country are seriously
off on the wrong track” than at any time since the Times/CBS
News poll began asking the question in 1983. The figure
had been in the high 60’s earlier this year.

But the poll results made clear that the war continues
to be the issue Americans are most worried about. Sixty-
one percent of respondents now say that the United States
should never have taken military action against Iraq,
up from 51 percent in a CBS News poll in April and 58
percent in the same poll in January. Seventy-six percent
say that things are going badly in the effort to bring
stability and order to Iraq, including 47 percent who
say they’re going very badly.

Mr. Bush warned today of still worse violence to come
in Iraq in the months before Gen. David Petraeus is
scheduled to report on progress there in September.
“It could make August a tough month, because, you see,
what they’re going to try to do is kill as many innocent
people as they can to try to influence the debate here
at home,” Mr. Bush said, referring to Al Qaeda and
anti-American Iraqi militants. “Don’t you find that
interesting -- I do -- that they recognize that the
death of innocent people could shake our will?”

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Friday
through Wednesday with 1,125 adults. The margin of
sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A large majority of the public — 76 percent, including
a majority of Republicans — say that the additional
American troops sent to Iraq this year by Mr. Bush
have either had no impact or are making things worse
there. Twenty percent think the troop increase
is improving the situation in Iraq.

A majority of Americans continue to support a timetable
for withdrawal. Sixty-three percent say the United States
should set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq
sometime in 2008.

While the troops remain in Iraq, the overwhelming majority
of Americans support continuing to finance the war,
though most want to do so with conditions. Thirteen
percent want Congress to block all spending on the war.
The majority, 69 percent, including 62 percent of Republicans,
say Congress should appropriate money for the war, but
on the condition that the United States sets benchmarks
for progress and that the Iraqi government meets those goals.
Fifteen percent of all respondents want Congress to
approve war spending without conditions.

President Bush acknowledged the majority view at the
news conference today when he spoke about the war
spending bill now pending in Congress.

“As it provides vital funds for our troops, this bill
also reflects a consensus that the Iraqi government
needs to show real progress in return for America’s
continued support and sacrifice,” he said in his opening
remarks. “The Iraqi Study Group recommended that we hold
the Iraqi government to the series of benchmarks for
improved security, political reconciliation and governance
that the Iraqis have set for themselves. I agree. So does
the Congress. And the bill reflects that recommendation.”

Even so, the poll found that Americans now have more
faith in the Democrats than in the Republicans on the
issue of the Iraq war. For the first time, more than
half of those polled — 51 percent — said the Democratic
party is more likely than the Republican party to make
the right decisions about the war.

In general, more Americans now have a favorable view
of the Democratic party (53 percent) than of the
Republican party (38 percent). The Republican party
has not had a majority positive rating in a New York
Times/CBS News poll since December 2003.

As for Mr. Bush, 23 percent approve of his handling
of the situation in Iraq, while 72 percent disapprove;
25 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy,
while 66 percent disapprove; and 27 percent approve
of his handling of immigration issues, while
60 percent disapprove.

On the economy, 38 percent approve of Mr. Bush’s
handling of the issue, and on the campaign against
terrorism, 40 percent approve, matching his career
low on the issue.


8) Graft Mars the Recruitment of Mexican Guest Workers
May 24, 2007

TAMPAMOLÓN CORONA, Mexico — Cástulo Benavides, a union
organizer, came to this forgotten mountain town to tell
its men how to get legal jobs in the tobacco fields
of North Carolina.

But this year he introduced them to a change in
a longstanding practice: the men will not have
to pay anyone to get those jobs.

“That’s something that we won with the union,” Mr. Benavides
explained to the workers in the sweltering municipal auditorium
here. “We are stepping on some people’s toes, and we’re doing
it hard.”

The response, if that is what it is, has been brutal. In April,
Mr. Benavides’s co-worker Santiago Rafael Cruz was bound
and beaten to death at the union’s office in Monterrey,
in northern Mexico.

The Ohio-based union, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee,
says the killing was a political attack after the union
cleaned up corrupt practices of recruiting workers, like
charging them a fee to be hired.

Mr. Rafael Cruz’s killing comes as the United States Senate
has restarted debate on a long-stalled immigration package
that proposes an expanded guest worker program. But the way
those workers are recruited in Mexico has received little
attention in the debate.

Before planting and harvest time in the United States it
has been common for local recruiters to fan out across
Mexico’s parched countryside to sign up guest workers.
The recruiters charge the Mexicans hundreds of dollars,
sometimes more, for the job and the temporary visa that
comes with it.

“That line of corruption touches both countries,” said
Baldemar Velásquez, the president of the union. “And the
people at the bottom in Mexico end up paying the price.”

The aftermath of Mr. Rafael Cruz’s killing has rippled
all the way to Washington.

On May 8, Representative Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat,
and a dozen other legislators wrote to President Felipe
Calderón of Mexico and the governor of the state of Nuevo
León, of which Monterrey is the capital, urging them
to thoroughly investigate the killing and provide protection
for the rest of the Mexico staff of the farm workers’ union.

Closed-circuit cameras have been installed in the union
offices, and the police provide regular patrols.

A spokesman for the Nuevo León attorney general’s office
would not comment on whether the police were investigating
leads related to Mr. Rafael Cruz’s work. The spokesman
asked not to be identified, according to department policy.

The union opened its office in Monterrey two years ago
to help the 6,000 Mexican guest workers it represents
in a collective bargaining agreement with the North
Carolina Growers Association, a group of 650 farmers.

The association includes most of the growers in the
state who employ legal guest workers, said Stan Eury,
its executive director. Even so, a majority of farmers
in North Carolina, as in the rest of the United States,
hire undocumented immigrants.

Last year the United States issued about 37,100 temporary
visas for agricultural workers, said Todd Huizinga,
a spokesman for the United States Consulate in Monterrey.
Mexico accounted for 92 percent of them.

In Monterrey, part of the union’s work has involved
monitoring the association’s Mexican recruiting agency,
called Manpower of the Americas. That company sends out
local recruiters to hire the workers and then processes
their visas at the consulate.

After a lawsuit led to a settlement between the union
and the growers’ association in 2005, all of the workers’
recruiting fees were dropped for two years. For now it
is the growers, not the workers, who must pick up
recruiters’ charges, along with the costs of the visas.

“We did everything we could to get the word out,”
Mr. Velásquez said. “We took away a gold mine from
these operators.”

Since the start, though, the union has been threatened
and harassed in Monterrey, he said. Its office was
broken into twice and computer equipment was stolen.

Mr. Rafael Cruz, 29, who was originally from Oaxaca,
began working with Mr. Benavides in Monterrey in February
after working for the farm workers’ union in the United
States. He was sleeping in the union’s office while
looking for an apartment.

Mr. Velásquez was careful to exclude the growers’
association and the local recruiting agency’s management
from his allegations. Local recruiters working for other
agencies may have felt threatened by a series of meetings
the union held in March, union workers say.

“Who knows what underling was trying to prove himself,”
Mr. Velásquez said.

Mike Bell, president of the recruiting agency, Manpower
of the Americas, said his company kept a tight rein
on its local recruiters.

“I was already doing a good job policing before the union
ever showed up,” said Mr. Bell, a North Carolina native
who said his company sent about 12,000 Mexican workers
— including the 6,000 in North Carolina — to jobs all
over the United States.

“We don’t sit outside some bar and say, ‘Everybody pay
up and we’ll get you a job,’ ” he said.

Aside from the agreement reached in North Carolina,
there is nothing to stop the recruitment abuses, experts
on the guest worker program say.

Roman Ramos, a paralegal at Texas Rural Legal Aid in Laredo,
has followed the agricultural guest worker program, known
as H-2A, for 25 years. He was skeptical that the agreement
would have a wide impact. “There is no indication from
any source that what is happening in North Carolina
is in any form, way or fashion happening anywhere else
in the country,” he said.

“Other recruiters are still charging workers,” he added.
“Everybody makes money out of these guys.”

The starting rate is typically $600, he said. That
figure includes an unspecified fee that is split
between the local recruiter and the agent who has
been contracted to supply workers to the American

Once workers return home with money from their work,
it is common for the recruiter to stop by again.
Workers know that a couple of hundred dollars in cash,
or maybe a goat or a sheep, will get them on the
list next year.

Two years ago, Juan Bonifacio González gave about $450
to a woman here everybody knew as “La Tolentina,” who
promised to get him a legal guest worker visa. After
months of promises she disappeared. Mr. González borrowed
the money from a local moneylender and says he is still
paying back his loan, which has tripled with interest.

There are no jobs in this town of 14,000, lost in the
steep hills of the state of San Luis Potosí. The mayor
recently invited the farm workers’ union to come and
speak about legal job opportunities in North Carolina,
where the federally mandated wage for agricultural
guest workers is $9.02 an hour.

That seems a fortune to the mostly Nahuatl-speaking
Indians here, where the average wage is less than
$4 a day.

A few had worked in North Carolina and wanted to go back.
Florencio Hernández Angelina spent the past three harvests
there. This year he wanted help in changing employers.
The grower splits her work force between legal guest
workers and illegal migrants. “She gives us fewer hours,”
Mr. Hernández said.

She prefers the illegals, he said, because she pays them less.


9) Castro, in First Details of Health Crisis,
Says He Is Back on Solid Food
May 24, 2007

HAVANA, May 23 (Reuters) — Fidel Castro said Wednesday that
he was eating enough solid food to recover from several
intestinal operations that had not been successful at first.

In his first detailed account of his health crisis since
handing over power as Cuba’s leader 10 months ago, Mr. Castro
said he had spent months being fed intravenously. “It wasn’t
just one operation, but various. Initially there was no success
and this led to a prolonged recuperation,” Mr. Castro said
in an article distributed by the Cuban government by e-mail.

“For many months I depended on IVs and catheters through
which I received an important part of my nourishment,”
he wrote. “Today I receive orally everything my recovery

Mr. Castro, 80, has not appeared in public since emergency
surgery forced him to relinquish power temporarily
on July 31 to his brother Raul for the first time since
his 1959 revolution.

He is thought to have suffered from diverticulitis or inflamed
bulging of the large intestine.

Mr. Castro, who gave up smoking cigars 20 years ago, said
his greatest dangers now were his age and the abuses
he subjected his health to when he was younger.

The Cuban leader gave no indication of when he might
show up again in public or resume leadership of Cuba’s
Communist government.

Video images of Mr. Castro released in October showed
a gaunt and shuffling old man. Last month, however, images
of him meeting with a Chinese Communist Party delegation
showed him looking heavier, although still in a hospital.
Cuban officials say he has regained 40 pounds he had lost
after surgery.

Mr. Castro took to writing columns in March to reassert
himself in Cuba. The columns, called “Reflections
of the Comandante,” are published in the ruling
Communist Party’s newspapers and read repeatedly
on radio and television.

His articles have attacked the United States for threatening
the world’s food supply with its biofuels plans, promoting
free trade and encouraging defections from Cuba.

A column published Tuesday criticized Britain for building
nuclear-powered attack submarines, saying the money could
have been used to train 75,000 doctors, treat 150 million
people or build 3,000 polyclinics in poor countries.


10) Where Nobody Is Accountable
Inter Press Service
Ali al-Fadhily*
May 21, 2007

BAGHDAD, May 21 (IPS) - Killings, crime, lack of medical care,
collapse of education, the list goes on. But with the
occupation by U.S.-led forces now into a fifth year, and
a supposedly democratic government in place, no one knows
who to hold accountable for all that is going wrong.

It is the occupation forces, particularly the United States
and Britain, that must be held accountable, many Iraqis say.

"It is good of these people to discuss accountability for
theft, but the most important thing to account for is Iraqi
blood," Numan Ahmed, a human rights activist from the Adhamiya
neighbourhood in Baghdad told IPS.

The British medical journal Lancet has reported that by
July 2006, 655,000 people had died as "a consequence of
the war." It has reported that the risk of death among
civilians is now 58 times higher than before the U.S.-led
invasion in March 2003.

"By now a million Iraqis have been killed for no reason,
and many millions disabled or badly injured just because
of some thieves in Baghdad and Washington," Ahmed said.
"We are prepared to reveal the documents to condemn them
even if takes us a lifetime."

But Iraqis have no means to take action against occupiers.

The United States has not accepted jurisdiction of the
International Criminal Court, which has the power to
investigate complaints of genocide. The United States
took the view that the court could conduct "politically
motivated investigations and prosecutions of U.S. military
and political officials and personnel."

U.S. opposition to the ICC is in stark contrast to the
strong support for the Court by most of its closest
allies. But Iraqis have found no way to proceed against
these either.

With no doors of justice open to them, many Iraqis are
now taking to unlawful ways to hit back at occupation
forces and government targets.

"The only way to do it is at gunpoint," 32-year-old Ali
Aziz from Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad, told IPS.
"They invaded us at gunpoint and we find it ridiculous
to talk about any other way of getting back what
belongs to us."

Aziz said he had lost several friends in attacks by U.S.
soldiers. "The whole world is dealing with this in
a hypocritical way, and there is only us to claim our
rights the way we find proper."

The human rights group al-Raya filed a case in a local
court in Fallujah against U.S. forces in 2004, following
a massive military crackdown. About three-quarters
of all buildings in the city were destroyed or heavily
damaged during the U.S. assault in November 2004.

But U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces have hit out
at the human rights group. "The secretary-general for
the organisation has now been arrested by Fallujah
police for reasons that we are not aware of, and the
organisation is not functioning any more," a member
of the board, speaking on condition of anonymity,
told IPS in Baghdad.

"It is not the right time to talk about accountability
when daily killings by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers are
still ongoing. God knows if it will ever be possible."

A case for accountability could well be made. A judge
from the United States wrote at the time of the trial
of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg in Germany in 1946:
"To initiate a war of aggressionàis not only an
international crime; it is the supreme international
crime differing only from other war crimes in that
it contains within itself the accumulated evil of
the whole."

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was judged by former
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Sep. 16, 2004 as
"an illegal act that contravened the UN charter."

The lack of accountability appears now to be leading
to greater support for armed resistance against
occupation forces.

"What accountability are you talking about, sir," said
Abu Jassim from Fallujah, who lost four members of his
family when a U.S. bomb destroyed his home during the
first U.S. offensive in the city in April 2004. "Americans
are criminals, and the whole world is covering up for
their crimes." They will be held accountable, he said,
by "Allah" and by "the heroes of the Iraqi resistance."

Iraqis are also angry over destruction of their civilian
infrastructure, for which no one has been held responsible.

"The U.S. crime of deliberately crushing Iraqi infrastructure
must be looked at as a crime against humanity," chief engineer
Jalal Abdulla at Baghdad's Ministry of Electricity told IPS.
"They did not have to do this to support their military effort,
but they did it just to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths
for no reason but cruelty."

Others vent their frustration against what they see as an
impotent United Nations. "The UN should be the place for
asking those Americans why they committed so many crimes
in Iraq," said Baghdad resident Malik Hammad.

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration
with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who
travels extensively in the region)


11) Bolivia: Capitalism Humanity's Worst Enemy
Associated Press
May 23, 2007 - LA PAZ, Bolivia - President Evo Morales called
capitalism the "worst enemy of humanity" at a conference of Latin
American leftist intellectuals on Tuesday.

A coca-growers' union leader who became Bolivia's first Indian
president, the leftist Morales has nationalized oil and natural gas
resources as part of his effort to redistribute wealth in South
America's poorest country.

"The transnational corporations always provoke conflicts to
accumulate capital, and the accumulation of capital in a few hands is
no solution for humanity," Morales said at forum in Cochabamba. "And
so I have arrived at the conclusion that capitalism is the worst
enemy of humanity."

Morales also said Bolivia's new constitution, now being written,
would declare Bolivia a pacifist nation and explicitly renounce war.
"Instead of making more weapons and bullets to kill humankind, we
must concentrate on producing more food," he said.

The president spoke at a two-day conference on the role of media in
political efforts to create a new Latin American socialism, sponsored
by Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, and Ecuador. Morales counts Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro as close allies.

Morales has criticized the historic role of foreign business
interests in Bolivia, often noting that the 1879 War of the Pacific,
in which Bolivia lost its seashore to Chile, was sparked in part by a
British trading company's rush to control the coast's valuable guano
and saltpeter deposits.

Bolivia later lost tens of thousands of soldiers and another wide
swath of territory in the 1930s Chaco War with Paraguay, which many
historians describe as a proxy battle between U.S. company Standard
Oil and Dutch-British Shell Oil over land thought to hold valuable
petroleum deposits.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


12) Black Leadership and
Black Mass Incarceration
By Bruce Dixon
Black Agenda Report (BAR)

America’s undeclared but universal policies of racially
selective policing, prosecution and mass incarceration of
its Black citizens have imposed unprecedented strains on
the social and economic viability of Black families and
communities—of the entire African American polity. This
malevolent social policy demands a political response
from Black leadership, just as Jim Crow and lynching did
in our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ day. Why is
the current crop of Black leaders unable to rise to the
crisis of this generation—the fact of racially selective
mass incarceration? And if they did, what would such
a response look like?
—Bruce Dixon

The dismal stats are familiar to us all. America leads
the world in numbers of prisons and prisoners, and African
Americans, though only one eighth of its population, make
up nearly half the locked down. One out of three black men
in their twenties are out on bail, probation, court supervision,
community service or parole—or behind bars. And the fastest
growing demographic of the incarcerated, aside from immigration
prisoners, are black women.

America’s malevolent social policy of racially selective
mass incarceration is so ubiquitous, so thoroughly part of
its statutes, courts, its law enforcement apparatus and
traditions, that it’s hard to believe it was enacted in
a single generation, since the ending, about 1970 of the
black Freedom Movement. But as late as the 1960s whites,
not Blacks were the majority of the nation’s prisoners.
Since 1970 the U.S. prison population has multiplied about
sevenfold, with neither a causative or accompanying increase
in crime, and without a public perception that we are somehow
seven times safer.

The present level of mass incarceration and its deleterious
effects for decades to come upon the black work force,
on economic and health outcomes, on culture and family
formation are facts of African American life that seem
to demand a political response, a concerted and long-term
effort to change these awful public policies, much like that
called forth by lynching and legal segregation. But what
passes for today’s African American leadership is simply
not up to the challenge.

It doesn’t take a social scientist, let alone a rocket
scientist to spot some key differences between black
leadership fifty and sixty years ago and the current crop
of supposed African American leaders.

Throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s, being identified as an
active member of the NAACP in the South could cost your
livelihood and home, your freedom, even your life. Many
whose names nobody remembers served, and quite a few paid
that price.

Today’s NAACP officials, like their counterparts in corporate
America, fly and dine first class. They hobnob with celebrities
and CEOs, and they depend on Disney, Chrysler, Bank of America
and Fox TV to broadcast its annual Image Awards, which are
handed out to other celebrities and black officials of
whichever administration is in power. The NAACP has in the
recent past even chosen its CEO from the ranks of black execs
at telecommunications corporations that digitally redline
African American neighborhoods.

A significant portion of the black leadership in those days
was responsible to black communities alone. They crafted
political responses to the public policy crises of that era
which they pursued both inside and outside America’s legal
system, responses aimed at changing public policies that
harmed African American communities. Attorneys Charles
Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall crisscrossed the
continent defending black prisoners on death row and filing
cases to overturn legal segregation. It was due to years
of these efforts that Thurgood Marshall, in the 1940s became
known as “Mr. Civil Rights.”

By contrast, a current black elected official like Atlanta’s
Kasim Reed, whose legal practice consists of defending
corporate employers from civil rights and discrimination
lawsuits, represents himself with a straight face as
a “civil rights lawyer.” Presidential candidate Barack
Obama too, is widely credited with being a “civil rights
lawyer,” despite having tried few or no significant civil
rights cases in any court of law.

And of course our parents and grandparents’ generation
did not confine their challenges to Jim Crow to the
boundaries of the law. Visionaries like James Foreman,
Kwame Toure, Ella Baker, Diane Nash, E.B. Nixon and Martin
Luther King crafted strategies around mass mobilizations
in African American communities, and deliberately, creatively
violated the law in order to change the nation’s misguided
public policies. It was common practice, for instance,
in towns and cities where the 1960s Freedom Movement was
in high gear, to turn out a city’s colleges and high schools
for days on end.

Can you imagine the black leadership in your town even
talking to high school students, let alone calling them
out in the street to accomplish a change in public policy?
Can you envision today’s celebrity and business-oriented
black leadership trying to mobilize black America for
anything more radical than watching their TV shows, buying
their books, or volunteering and voting in their campaigns
for political office. It is hard to construct a scenario
in which today’s black leaders might be induced to stand
up to the crime control industry, to become persistent,
forceful advocates of revolutionary reforms which can
appeal broadly to the African American community like:

—Sunsetting all two and three strikes laws, and ending
indeterminate sentencing.

—Ending the trial and sentencing of children as adults.

—Requiring an ethnic impact statement before the
passage of any new sentencing legislation.

—Unconditional restoration of voting rights for all
persons who have served their sentences.

—Restoration of Pell Grants and student financial aid
to persons convicted of felonies.

Though many of the visionary leaders of that earlier generation
were young people it would be a mistake to compare today’s youth
unfavorably to them. Young would-be movement activists in the
1940s, the 50s, all the way till the early 1970s had at least
one key advantage today’s aspiring young movement activists
do not. They had black news, written in black newspapers.
They had black news broadcast on black radio, and with these,
this by itself created what media sociologists call a “public
sphere,” a space in which we could bring our individual and
family crises and situations and compare them with those of
others, and speculate on the nature of collective efforts
to solve what would otherwise be individual problems.

Corporate media has, in the ensuing decades, privatized and
commercialized what used to be public space, by virtually
eliminating broadcast news on black radio. The black print
press confines most of its “reporting” to government and
celebrity press releases. Black TV is worse than useless.
Activists in earlier eras could find out about each other’s
affairs on black radio and in the black press. Now that space
is reserved only for commercial “entertainment.”

Radical shifts in public policy have never arisen from the
pronouncements of public officials, bankers and celebrities.
They don’t come from the good will of real estate and marketing
professionals, or from enlightened decisions on the bench or
sermons in the pulpit. They come from widespread discussion
and exchange in the public sphere. They come from mass movements
which exists outside of and sometimes in spite of the law, and
which are able to capture the risk-taking energy and spirit
of youth.

Whenever we DO see the beginnings of a mass movement to
challenge our nation’s misguided policy of black mass
incarceration, one that unites our young and our old, our
churches and our unions and the people on our street corners
it won’t be led by the folks we think of as black leaders today.
And until the policy of mass incarceration is transformed into
an explicitly political issue and directly challenged, black
youth have little reason to listen to those leaders.

Black leadership has yet to rise to the challenge of the
current generation of black youth—ending our nation’s public
policy of mass imprisonment. And until they do, there will
be no resumption of a mass movement, and little or no real


13) Immigrants and Politics
Op-Ed Columnist
May 25, 2007

A piece of advice for progressives trying to figure out where
they stand on immigration reform: it’s the political economy,
stupid. Analyzing the direct economic gains and losses from
proposed reform isn’t enough. You also have to think about
how the reform would affect the future political environment.

To see what I mean — and why the proposed immigration bill,
despite good intentions, could well make things worse — let’s
take a look back at America’s last era of mass immigration.

My own grandparents came to this country during that era,
which ended with the imposition of severe immigration
restrictions in the 1920s. Needless to say, I’m very glad
they made it in before Congress slammed the door. And today’s
would-be immigrants are just as deserving as Emma Lazarus’s
“huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

Moreover, as supporters of immigrant rights rightly remind
us, everything today’s immigrant-bashers say — that immigrants
are insufficiently skilled, that they’re too culturally alien,
and, implied though rarely stated explicitly, that they’re
not white enough — was said a century ago about Italians,
Poles and Jews.

Yet then as now there were some good reasons to be concerned
about the effects of immigration.

There’s a highly technical controversy going on among economists
about the effects of recent immigration on wages. However that
dispute turns out, it’s clear that the earlier wave
of immigration increased inequality and depressed the
wages of the less skilled. For example, a recent study
by Jeffrey Williamson, a Harvard economic historian, suggests
that in 1913 the real wages of unskilled U.S. workers were
around 10 percent lower than they would have been without
mass immigration. But the straight economics was the least
of it. Much more important was the way immigration diluted

In 1910, almost 14 percent of voting-age males in the United
States were non-naturalized immigrants. (Women didn’t get
the vote until 1920.) Add in the disenfranchised blacks
of the Jim Crow South, and what you had in America was
a sort of minor-key apartheid system, with about a quarter
of the population — in general, the poorest and most
in need of help — denied any political voice.

That dilution of democracy helped prevent any effective
response to the excesses and injustices of the Gilded Age,
because those who might have demanded that politicians
support labor rights, progressive taxation and a basic
social safety net didn’t have the right to vote. Conversely,
the restrictions on immigration imposed in the 1920s had
the unintended effect of paving the way for the New Deal
and sustaining its achievements, by creating a fully
enfranchised working class.

But now we’re living in the second Gilded Age. And as
before, one of the things making antiworker, unequalizing
policies politically possible is the fact that millions
of the worst-paid workers in this country can’t vote. What
progressives should care about, above all, is that immigration
reform stop our drift into a new system of de facto apartheid.

Now, the proposed immigration reform does the right thing
in principle by creating a path to citizenship for those
already here. We’re not going to expel 11 million illegal
immigrants, so the only way to avoid having those immigrants
be a permanent disenfranchised class is to bring them into
the body politic.

And I can’t share the outrage of those who say that illegal
immigrants broke the law by coming here. Is that any worse
than what my grandfather did by staying in America, when
he was supposed to return to Russia to serve in the czar’s

But the bill creates a path to citizenship so torturous
that most immigrants probably won’t even try to legalize
themselves. Meanwhile, the bill creates a guest worker
program, which is exactly what we don’t want to do. Yes,
it would raise the income of the guest workers themselves,
and in narrow financial terms guest workers are a good deal
for the host nation — because they don’t bring their families,
they impose few costs on taxpayers. But it formally creates
exactly the kind of apartheid system we want to avoid.

Progressive supporters of the proposed bill defend the
guest worker program as a necessary evil, the price that
must be paid for business support. Right now, however, the
price looks too high and the reward too small: this bill
could all too easily end up actually expanding the class
of disenfranchised workers.


14) Democracy or Puppetry?
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

With wars waged abroad purportedly for “spreading democracy,”
it’s time to face some uncomfortable truths. People are awake
and aware that the U.S. and the West doesn’t give a fig about
democracy. They care about puppets—people in state power who
are answerable to them—and fear democracy more than terrorism.

From Karzai in Afghanistan, Siniora in Lebanon, al-Maliki in
Iraq, and beyond, people are rising up against these shills
for Western, corporate interests. Protests from Kabul to
Pakistan are raging against America’s alleged allies, who
rule by brutality, barbarity and torture.

There are several reasons for this state of affairs, but
perhaps it all bubbles down to two: Abu Ghraib, and the
Iraq invasion/occupation.

American performance on the ground, their treatment of
Iraqis, the chaos that has seized the country like a fever,
had fueled protests far beyond the borders of Iraq, blowing
around the world like the borderless wind. The war in Iraq,
and all of its consequences, has caused the U.S. to be
one of the most-feared and most-hated nations on earth.

Beyond the rhetoric of democracy lies the gloved hand of
international business; or, in a more commonly used term—
globalization. Globalization is far more than the newest
expression of an old economic theory (capitalism); it is
the force that requires the installation of puppets
throughout the Middle East.

One of the many, many protesters against the Siniora
regime in Lebanon, in explaining her opposition to the
government, voiced a concern not usually translated for
American audiences:

“We are peacefully contesting the government to show
that people without a voice are actually the majority.
It is only the rich people who have a voice in this current
government, while the middle and lower classes are not
listened to. There is a class mentality in this government.”
[Fr.: Jamail, Dahr, “Lebanon: this protest won’t go away,”
Asheville Global Report, May 3-May 9, 2007, p.12].

The reason for this infiltration? Oil! Do you really
think that Americans suddenly care about Arab suffering?
One glance at the pain of Palestinians will answer that
question. Indeed, life under any of America’s allies in
the region ain’t no cup of tea; in Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
Pakistan, or in Iraq, democratic activists have faced
the brutality of their regime’s police in the streets,
and the sneer of their torturers in the dungeons beneath
the streets.

America’s response is little more than stony silence,
broken intermittently by the cold academic listing in the
State Dept. report. The message couldn’t be clearer: “We’ll
talk about democracy, but that’s it!”

The U.S. didn’t march to Iraq to bring democracy, to spread
freedom, or anything even remotely like it. It didn’t go
there to stop the oppression of Iraqis. It didn’t go there
because Saddam Hussein was a “bad guy.” It went there because
access to the most precious commodity left on earth—oil—was
there. And the U.S. figured, that as a Superpower, Iraqi
oil was its imperial due.

Every nation in the world knows this. Billions of people
around the globe know this. The tragedy is that there are
still a few Americans who claim to believe in this madness.

If there really was democracy, America’s closest allies would
be out of a job (at the very least,) or hanging from the spires
of their professional palace. If there really was democracy
either in the U.S. or Britain, the most unpopular governments
in generations wouldn’t still be in power.


15) Bush Expects Everything to be
Solved with a Bang
By Fidel Castro
May 25, 2007
VIA email from: Walter Lippmann

A word popped up in my mind. I looked it up in the dictionary
and there it was; it’s an onomatopoeic word and its connotation
is tragic: bang. I’ve probably never used it in my life.

Bush is an apocalyptic person. I observe his eyes; his face
and his obsessive preoccupation with pretending that everything
he sees on the “invisible screens” are spontaneous thoughts.
I heard his voice quaver when he answered criticism from his
own father about his Iraq policy. He only expresses emotions
and constantly feigns rationality. Of course he is aware of
the impact of every phrase and every word on the public he

What’s dramatic is that what he expects to happen may cost
the American people many lives.

One can never agree, in any kind of war, with events that
take the lives of innocent civilians. Nobody could justify
the attacks of the German Air Force on British cities during
World War II, nor the thousands of bombers that systematically
destroyed German cities in the decisive moments of the war,
nor the two atomic bombs, which the United States dropped
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an act of pure terrorism against
old people, women and children.

Bush expressed his hatred of the poor world when he spoke
on June 1, 2002 at West Point, of the pre-emptive attacks
on “60 or more dark corners of the world.”

Whom are they going to convince now that the thousands of
nuclear weapons in their possession, the missiles and the
precise and exact delivery systems they have developed are
just to combat terrorism? Could it be perhaps that the
sophisticated submarines being constructed by their British
allies, capable of circumnavigating the globe without
surfacing and reprogramming their nuclear missiles
in mid-flight, will be used for that as well? I would
never have imagined that one day such justifications
would be used. Imperialism intends to institutionalize
world tyranny with these weapons. It aims them at other
great nations, which arise not as military adversaries
capable of surpassing their technology with weapons of
mass destruction, but as economic powers that would rival
the United States whose chaotic and wasteful consumerist
economic and social system is absolutely vulnerable.

What’s worse about the bang upon which Bush is hanging
his hopes is the antecedent of his actions during the
September 11th events, when, knowing full well that
bloody attack on the American people was imminent, and
having the capacity to foresee it and even to prevent
it, he took off on a vacation with his entire administrative

From the day of his appointment as President—thanks to the
fraud orchestrated by his friends from the Miami mafia,
in the manner of a “banana republic”—and prior to his
inauguration, W. Bush was informed in detail of the same
facts and in the same way as the president of the United
States, who directed that he be informed. At that moment,
the tragic events symbolized by the fall of the Twin Towers
were still more than 9 months away.

If something similar were to happen with any kind of
explosives or nuclear material, given that enriched uranium
flows like water throughout the world since the days of the
Cold War, what would be the probable fate of humanity?
I try to remember and analyze many moments of humanity’s
march through the millennia, and I wonder: could my views
be subjective?

Just yesterday Bush was bragging about having won the battle
over his adversaries in Congress. He has a hundred billion
dollars, all the money he needs to double, as he wishes, the
number of American troops sent to Iraq, and to carry on with
the slaughter. The problem in the region is increasingly

Any opinion about the president of the United State’s latest
feats grows old in a matter of hours. Is it perhaps that
the American people can’t take this little moral fighting
bull by the horns?


16) Chávez creates state of fear among businesses
Posted on Fri, May. 25, 2007

When the company president showed up to sign a loan from the
government of Venezuela, an official told him, without a greeting:
``To be rich is to be bad. Come in.''

Days later, the executive had to sign a form asking if he would
support the government's social missions and share with workers the
management of, and profits from, his business.

The businessman, who asked not to be identified, rejected the loan a
few days later, saying he had received it too late. The real reason,
he said: ``It was too much of a commitment for $200,000.''

Such experiences are part of what business people call ''the siege of
private industry'' -- government measures and threats that are
depressing the country's production capacity to an alarming degree,
they say.

''The industrialist lives in a constant state of fear,'' Agustín
Díaz, manager of the Center for Economic and Legal Studies of the
Venezuelan Industrial Federation, Conindustria, said. ``No growth can
take place in a country where the government's concept of private
property is different from that of the entrepreneur's.''

Yet the uncertainty and malaise come at a time when few can complain
about sales. In a survey by Conindustria in the second quarter of
2006, all forms of industry -- major, midsize and light -- responded
that their situation is good. The levels of satisfaction do not seem
to have changed this year.

''What's produced is sold,'' explained Diaz, who acknowledges the
irony of the economic picture. Another businessman, who asked for
anonymity, said the constant clashes between the good news of
prosperity and the bad news from the government are creating a dual
personality among producers.

''One minute we celebrate an increase in sales or a big order just
received, and the next minute we're struck by the feeling that
everything is going to burst and we'll have to drop everything, lose
everything,'' he said.

Some businessmen keep going and take advantage of the bonanza the
country is going through and the credits offered by the government.
Others stay in the country but do not invest in their companies'
growth because they don't believe in the future.

Others fold for fear of being punished if they don't comply with
government demands on prices, taxes and production. Yet others keep
their stores open but invest their profits abroad.


Two weeks ago, the Federation of Socialist Entrepreneurs, Conseven,
launched to shouts of ''Oooo-hey, Chávez is here to stay.'' As
reported in the daily El Nacional, director Marcos Zarikian proposed
that tax savings be invested in social works.

''I have a dream,'' Zarikian intoned. ``I would like to go someday
through the barrios of Petare [a marginal zone east of Caracas] and
dine in a fancy restaurant with the people who live there. I would
like to share a table with a rich man and a poor man, so we might
talk about a possible Venezuela.''

The federation claims it has 500,000 member companies, an exorbitant
figure it has not documented.

Venezuela's productive capacity is at its highest, yet the industrial
sector is not expanding. The 11,117 industrial establishments
officially registered in 1998 shrank to 6,756 in 2005, according to
figures by the National Institute of Statistics quoted by

In the past two years, Venezuela has been the country with the lowest
level of competitiveness worldwide, according to the IMD business
management school in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The government attributes the reduction in industrial capacity to
sabotage and the unease created by groups that oppose Chávez. But
businessmen say other factors discourage growth, such as:

-Threats to the guarantees of private property.

-Minimum-salary adjustments without consultation.

-Price controls.

-Massive importations and the waiving of tariffs for products the
government is interested in.

-The direct adjudication of government contracts.


''We're living in limbo,'' said Marinella Mata, legal advisor to the
Federation of Chambers and Associations of Commerce of Venezuela,
Fedecámaras. ``We used to have greater legal security. Now we work on
a day-to-day basis.''

Businessmen also are nervous about bills such as one that orders them
to grant employees four hours a week to attend ''ideological
training'' in socialism. Chávez's announcement that the work week
will be reduced to 36 hours also disturbs them.

Businessmen say the government is forcing the entrepreneurial sector
to shrink and cutting the production even of basics such as meat,
milk, cheese and sugar. The government claims the scarcities are due
to hoarding by merchants.

The government ''threat'' that has most recently troubled
entrepreneurs is so-called ''co-management,'' a system whereby the
employees have the right to manage the company or share in profits --
or both.

As part of the official campaign to promote co-management, a National
Encounter of Workers for the Recovery of Businesses was held in
Caracas in October 2005. Summoned by the National Workers Union of
Venezuela (UNT), the conference analyzed forms of ''occupation by
workers,'' the final report said.

''In Venezuela, co-management is an alternative to capitalism,'' said
Canadian economics professor Michael A. Lebowitz at the conference.
Lebowitz is a foreign scholar often quoted by Chávez sympathizers.

The businessmen interviewed by El Nuevo Herald say they have no
objection to discussing co-management. But they worry that someday,
without warning or discussion, the practice will be imposed.

''In industry, fear is never a good raw material,'' a businessman


17) Arrested While Grieving
Op-Ed Columnist
May 26, 2007

No one is paying much attention, but parts of New York City
are like a police state for young men, women and children who
happen to be black or Hispanic. They are routinely stopped,
searched, harassed, intimidated, humiliated and, in many
cases, arrested for no good reason.

Most black elected officials have joined their white colleagues
and the media in turning a blind eye to this continuing outrage.
And many black cops have joined their white colleagues in the
systematic mistreatment.

Last Monday in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, about three
dozen grieving young people on their way to a wake for
a teenage friend who had been murdered were surrounded
by the police, cursed at, handcuffed and ordered into paddy
wagons. They were taken to the 83rd precinct stationhouse,
where several were thrown into jail.

Leana Matia, an 18-year-old student at John Jay College,
was one of those taken into custody. “We were walking toward
the train station to take the L train when all these cops
just swooped in on us,” she said. “They cursed us out and
pushed the guys. And then they handcuffed us. We kept asking,
‘What are you doing?’ ”

Children as young as 13 were among those swept up by the
cops. Two of them, including 16-year-old Lamel Carter,
were the children of police officers. Some of the youngsters
were carrying notes from school saying that they were allowed
to be absent to attend the wake. There is no evidence that
I’ve been able to find — other than uncorroborated statements
by the police — that the teenagers were misbehaving in any way.

Everyone was searched, but nothing unlawful was found —
no weapons, no marijuana or other drugs. Some of the kids
were told at the scene that they were being seized because
they had assembled unlawfully. “I didn’t know what unlawful
assembly was,” said Kumar Singh, 18, who was among those

According to the police, the youngsters at the scene were
on a rampage, yelling and blocking traffic. That does not
seem to be the truth.

I spoke individually to several of the youngsters, to the
principal of Bushwick Community High School (where a number
of the kids are students), to a parent who was at the scene,
and others. Nowhere was there even a hint of the chaos
described by the police. Every account that I was able to
find described a large group of youngsters, very sad and
downcast about the loss of their friend, walking peacefully
toward the station.

Kathleen Williams, whose son and two nieces were rounded up,
was at the scene. She said there was no disturbance at all,
and that when she tried to ask the police why the kids were
being picked up, she was told to be quiet or she would be
arrested, too.

Capt. Scott Henderson of the 83rd Precinct told me that the
police had developed a “plan” to deal with youngsters going
to the wake because they suspected that the murder was gang-
related and there had already been some retaliation. He said
he had personally witnessed the youngsters in Bushwick
behaving badly and gave the order to arrest them.

Many of the kids were wearing white T-shirts with a picture
of the dead teenager and the letters “R.I.P.” on them. The
cops cited the T-shirts as evidence of gang membership.

Thirty-two of the youngsters were arrested. Most were charged
with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. Several were
held in jail overnight.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly did not exactly give the arrests
a ringing endorsement. He said, in a prepared statement,
“A police captain who witnessed the activity made a good-faith
judgment in ordering the arrests.”

A spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes,
said, “It wouldn’t be unusual for a lot of this stuff to get

The principal of Bushwick Community High, Tira Randall, said,
“My kids come in here on a daily basis with stories about
harassment by the police. They’re not making these stories up.”

New York City cops stopped and, in many cases, searched
individuals more than a half million times last year. Those
stops are not happening on Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue in
Manhattan. Thousands upon thousands of them amount to simple
harassment of young black and Hispanic males and females who
have done absolutely nothing wrong, but feel helpless to object.

It is long past time for this harassment of ethnic minorities
by the police to cease. Why it has been tolerated this long,
I have no idea.


18) Some Union Local Members Call for Using Mail Ballots
May 26, 2007

Larry Davis says it is ridiculous that only 2 percent of the
27,000 members in his union local — the largest in the
umbrella union, District Council 37 — voted in the local’s
last election.

In his view, the reason for the low turnout was obvious. His
local’s members, who are mostly school cafeteria aides and
crossing guards, work throughout the city, yet there was
just one voting site, at union headquarters in Lower Manhattan,
and it was open for only four hours.

In an effort to increase turnout, Mr. Davis, the parent
support officer for a school district in Harlem, has
collected 2,100 signatures as part of a petition drive
hoping to persuade his union, Local 372, to elect its
officers by mail ballot.

“The current system doesn’t give a lot of members the
opportunity to come down there and vote,” said Mr. Davis,
who lost a bid to be Local 372’s president two years ago.
“There are members who live in Staten Island and on Long
Island, and they don’t feel like trekking down all the
way to Local 372 to vote.”

Mr. Davis and several allies are seeking to collect 5,000
signatures because that would represent 12 times the number
of votes that Local 372’s president, Veronica Montgomery-
Costa, received when she won a new three-year term in 2005.
She received 417 votes to Mr. Davis’s 122.

Ms. Montgomery-Costa also serves as president of District
Council 37, which comprises 56 locals representing 121,000
municipal workers.

Tony Ferina, an aide at a high school in Elmhurst, Queens,
said it was important to increase democratic participation
in Local 372 because of its corrupt past. For more than
two decades, the local’s former president, Charles Hughes,
ran the local as his personal fief. In 2000, he was sentenced
to three to nine years in prison after pleading guilty
to stealing more than $2 million from the local.

“The advantage of a mail ballot is it gives everyone an equal
opportunity to vote,” said Mr. Ferina, who ran for secretary-
treasurer in 2005 but lost. “Since we’re the poorest-paid
union in the city, some of our members can’t afford the
$4 subway trip to go down to vote. And many of them work
second jobs and don’t have the luxury to take two hours
out of their day to travel back and forth to vote.”

Many of the local’s members earn less than $20,000 a year.

In an interview, Ms. Montgomery-Costa voiced no intention
of changing the voting system. She said Local 372’s
constitution permitted the system of voting at union
headquarters on a single day. She noted that a judicial
panel from the parent union, the American Federation
of State, County and Municipal Employees, had rejected
Mr. Davis’s appeal that the voting method denied many
workers the opportunity to vote.

After the decision, Ms. Montgomery-Costa agreed to lengthen
voting in next year’s election to nine hours.

“I have done nothing but follow the constitution,” she said,
adding that since being elected, she has worked to clean
up Local 372 and protect its members’ rights.

Ms. Montgomery-Costa said one problem with mail ballots
is the cost — about $2.50 per union member or $67,500
for Local 372.

Mr. Davis said that was a small cost considering that
the local’s members pay millions of dollars in dues
each year.

“If we took the $76,000 raise that Veronica gave herself
in 2002, that would easily pay for a mail ballot,”
Mr. Davis said.




By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Lebanon, 24 May 2007
"Thousands of Palestinian refugees are fleeing from Nahr
al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon as five days of
fighting by the Lebanese army and a militant group known
as Fath al-Islam has left dozens of soldiers and fighters
and an unknown number of civilians dead. As the situation
of these Palestinian refugees worsens, 59 years after they
were first expelled from their homeland into Lebanon, the
world looks on in silence. Electronic Intifada co-founder
Ali Abunimah spoke with As'ad Abukhalil, the creator of
the Angry Arab News Service blog on the origins of Fath
al-Islam, the events that led to the violence and what it
means for Lebanon and the region."

US Show of Force in Gulf "Greatly Alarming"

Federal agents arrest over 100 for immigration violations
in Missouri raid
Michael Sung

Oil Industry Says Biofuel Push May Hurt at Pump
May 24, 2007

For the First Time, New York Links a Death to 9/11 Dust
May 24, 2007

$5 Million Settlement in Boot Camp Death
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., May 23 (AP) — The family of a teenager
who died after being roughed up by guards at a juvenile boot
camp last year will receive $5 million under a bill signed
Wednesday by Gov. Charlie Crist.
The teenager, Martin L. Anderson, 14, died in January 2006
shortly after being kneed and struck and having ammonia
tablets held to his nose at the military-style facility
run by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office in Panama City, Fla.
Mr. Crist and several lawmakers pushed for the settlement
this spring despite the Legislature’s general distaste
for claims measures.
The state has already paid Martin’s parents $200,000, the
most allowed by law without legislative approval. The bill
signed by Mr. Crist pays the remaining $4.8 million.
The sheriff’s office has separately settled with the Anderson
family for $2.4 million. Seven guards and a nurse employed
at the camp face manslaughter charges.
An initial autopsy said Martin died of complications from
sickle cell trait. But a second autopsy said the death
was caused by suffocation resulting from being forced
to inhale the ammonia.
Martin entered the camp for a probation violation for
trespassing at a school after he and his cousins were
charged with stealing their grandmother’s car.
May 24, 2007




Democrats Pull Troop Deadline From Iraq Bill
May 23, 2007

Film Offers New Talking Points in Health Care Debate
May 22, 2007

Kentucky: Families Sue in Mine Blast
The sole survivor of a mine explosion last year and relatives
of four of the five miners killed sued the coal company,
saying it had put production over safety. The suit cited
safety violations against the company, Kentucky Darby;
a supervisor, Ralph Napier; and Jericol Mining, which
provided management, planning, engineering and safety
training to the mine, Darby Mine No. 1. The plaintiffs
also seek damages against the manufacturer of the emergency
air packs that the victims used.
May 22, 2007

IRAQ: Educational standards plummet, say specialists

Exclusive: Secret US plot to kill Al-Sadr
By Patrick Cockburn In Baghdad
Published: 21 May 2007

What's Next in Iraq? Juan Cole Interviews Ali A. Allawi
"Will a surge of U.S. troops make
a difference in Iraq? How viable is
the current Iraqi government? Will
an American withdrawal lead to
all-out civil war?
May 25, 2007

Black Media Delegation Returns from Darfur
Final Call, News Report, Jehron Muhammad,
Posted: May 20, 2007

Soldier’s Smallpox Inoculation Sickens Son
"A 2-year-old boy spent seven weeks in the hospital
and nearly died from a viral infection he got from
the smallpox vaccination his father received before
shipping out to Iraq, according to a government report
and the doctors who treated him."
May 18, 2007

My Dear Fellow Species
"THE Origin of Species” is almost 150 — a fit survivor
of the science canon even if not everyone has seen fit
to jump from the Ark to the Beagle on the matter of
evolution (three Republican presidential candidates,
for example). But Darwin himself was slow to come to
his ideas, and slower still to disclose them to
a skeptical public. Last week, the Darwin Correspondence
Project, based at Cambridge University, put about 5,000
letters to and from Darwin, some of them previously
unpublished, online at, with thousands
more to follow. The searchable database lets anyone track
the painstaking development of his research and thinking
— on all kinds of topics, personal and professional,
and with a huge array of correspondents." MARY JO MURPHY
May 20, 2007

The Closing of the University Commons
by Michael Perelman
May 19, 2007




LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


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])