Saturday, October 06, 2007






Hands Off Venezuela Campaign
PO Box 4244 St. Paul, MN 55104


What: Bay Area Premiere of "No Volveran!" A new film on the Venezuelan Revolution

When: Sunday, October 14, 7 PM

Where: Mission Cultural Center -- 2868 Mission Street (near 25th Street) San Francisco, 94110

The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign is proud to announce a new film on the Venezuelan Revolution. Filmed during an international delegation to Venezuela during last year's historic Presidential elections, the film makers take us on a journey through the fervor of those days in December 2006, traveling deep into the shanty towns (barrios), and to several factories under workers' control, to find out why there is a movement to overthrow capitalism, what Socialism of the 21st Century is, and how it is changing people's lives.

Also covering alternative community run media like CatiaTV, and Radio Negro Primero, and the social projects called misiones, the film helps explain why Venezuela has become a symbol of liberation for those in struggle around the world. With fantastic footage of the elections, demonstrations and the people and streets of Caracas, the revolution is brought to our screens in a rich tapestry of action and interview that gives us real insight into the process taking place, and the challenges that lie ahead. A must see!

Melanie McDonald, the film maker, will give a short presentation and answer questions. For more information visit

Admission: $5; For seniors and students: $3. Copies of the film and other materials will be available for purchase after the screening.

***Please distribute widely***

For more information, please call 415-821-1155 or write


Toxic West Virginia: Mountaintop Removal- Episode 1


Labor Conference to Stop the War!

October 20, 2007

ILWU Local 10 400 North Point Street, San Francisco, California @ Fisherman's Wharf

As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan enters its seventh year, opposition to the war among working people in the United States and the world is massive and growing. The "surge" strategy of sending in more and more troops has become a -asco for the Pentagon generals, while thousands of Iraqis are killed every month. Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, millions marched against the war in Britain, Italy and Spain as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the U.S. to oppose it. But that didn't stop the invasion. In the U.S., this "war on terror" has meant wholesale assault on civil liberties and workers' rights, like the impending imposition of the hated TWIC card for port workers. And the war keeps going on and on, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress keep on voting for it.

As historian Isaac Deutscher said during the Vietnam War, a single strike would be more effective than all the peace marches. French dockworkers did strike in the port of Marseilles and helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. To put a stop to this bloody colonial occupation, labor must use its power.

The International Warehouse and Longshore Union has opposed the war on Iraq since the beginning. In the Bay Area, ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called "war on terror" is really a war on working people and democratic rights. Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war. We need to use labor's muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The clock is ticking. It's time for labor action to bring the war machine to a grinding halt and end this slaughter. During longshore contract negotiations in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Bush cited port security and imposed the slave-labor Taft-Hartley Law against the ILWU in collusion with the maritime employers group PMA and with the support of the Democrats. Yet, he did nothing when PMA shut down every port on the U.S. West Coast by locking out longshore workers just the week before!

In April 2003, when antiwar protesters picketed war cargo shippers, APL and SSA, in the Port of Oakland, police -red on picketers and longshoremen alike with their "less than lethal" ammo that left six ILWU members and many others seriously injured. We refused to let our rights be trampled on, sued the city and won. Democratic rights were reasserted a month later when antiwar protesters marched in the port and all shipping was stopped. This past May, when antiwar protesters and the Oakland Education Association again picketed war cargo shippers in Oakland, longshoremen honored the picket line. This is only the beginning.

Last year, Local 10 passed a resolution calling to "Strike Against the War ï¿∏ No Peace, No Work." The motion emphasized the ILWU's proud history in opposing wars for imperial domination, recalling how in 1978 Local 10 refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. In the 1980's, Bay Area dock workers highlighted opposition to South African apartheid slavery by boycotting ("hot cargoing") the Nedlloyd Kimberly, while South African workers waged militant strikes to bring down the white supremacist regime.

Now Locals 10 and 34 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have called for a "Labor Conference to Stop the War" to hammer out a program of action. We're saying: Enough! It's high time to use union power against the bosses' war, independent of the "bipartisan" war party. The ILWU can again take the lead, but action against the war should not be limited to the docks. We urge unions in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country to attend the conference and plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.

For further information contact: Jack Heyman


Stop Government Attacks
Against the Anti-War Movement!
Take Action to Defend Free Speech


Domestic workers are one of the most invisible and exploited categories of workers in the United States. Many of them work for diplomats, who enjoy legal immunity and can exploit their domestic workers without any consequences. Employees of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are the largest group of employers of domestic workers in the U.S. The institutions have some direct responsibility in this regard, since they sponsor visas for domestic workers for their employees, but do not monitor the work situations of the domestic workers to make sure that they are being treated fairly.

Please watch the video, share it, and spread it far and wide!

And come to Washington DC October 19-21 to protest the IMF and World Bank annual meetings!




1) Lt. Watada subject to double jeopardy
We received this letter today from supporters of Ehren Watada.
Please pass this on to everyone you know.
News for Social Justice Activists

2) Officials Protest Antigang Raids Focused on Immigrants
October 2, 2007

3) G.M. Labor Accord Calls for More Plant Closings
October 2, 2007

4) Canada Arrests Worker Aiding Refugees
September 29, 2007

5) Texas Ruling Signals Halt to Executions Indefinitely
October 3, 2007

6) Nike Adds Indian Artifacts to Its Swoosh
October 3, 2007

7) Conservatives Are Such Jokers
Op-Ed Columnist
October 5, 2007

8) WELL: Evolution’s Secret Weapon: Grandma
October 5, 2007, 12:29 pm

9) Accounts Differ on U.S. Attack That Killed 25 Iraqis
October 6, 2007

10) Investigator Said to Find Case Against Marine Weak
October 5, 2007

11) Before and Beyond Jena
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
September 29, 2007

12) Out of Prison and Deep in Debt
October 6, 2007

13) Send in the Clowns
Op-Ed Columnist
October 6, 2007

14) Bush Says Interrogation Methods Aren’t Torture
October 6, 2007

15) The Whole World Will Be Watching
By Bill Simpich
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Saturday 06 October 2007

16) On Torture and American Values
October 7, 2007

17) For Schools, Lottery Payoffs Fall Short of Promises
"...a New York Times examination of lottery documents, as well as interviews with lottery administrators and analysts, finds that lotteries accounted for less than 1 percent to 5 percent of the total revenue for K-12 education last year in the states that use this money for schools."
October 7, 2007

18) A Heavy Toll From Disease Fuels Suspicion and Anger
October 7, 2007


1) Lt. Watada subject to double jeopardy
We received this letter today from supporters of Ehren Watada.
Please pass this on to everyone you know.
News for Social Justice Activists

Dear folks,

The Army is threatening to go ahead with a new
court of martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada on Oct.
9th. This is in gross violation of law and the
Constitution, because his lawyers have appealed
against a second trial on the basis of double
jeopardy. For quite some time, Ehren's lawyers
were proceeding on the assumption that since the
appeal is in progress in the court system, the
Army would cancel or postpone the Oct. 9th court
martial. But now it is only a week and a couple
of days away, and nothing has been cancelled or
postponed. The trial is looking very much like
it is on, yet nothing has been confirmed one way
or the other.

If the court martial is indeed going to happen,
we need all the help we can get! We need all our
friends and allies around the country to hold
teach-ins, demonstrations, press conferences (if
you have lawyers who can address the double
jeopardy issue, please have them speak), write
letters to the editors, anything you can do, on
the weekend prior to Oct. 9 and/or on the day of.
Anyone who can to come to Ft. Lewis and support
Ehren in this critical moment, please come.

The catch here is that the Army has us set up: If
we mobilize in a big way and they postpone the
trial, we may look foolish if we don't frame it
right. On the other hand, if we don't mobilize
and the court martial occurs, Ehren can be
railroaded while his supporters are caught
sleeping. Either way, this looks like a perfect
ambush by the Army.

However, the primary legal point here is the fact
that an appeal on the basis of double jeopardy,
guaranteed in the Constitution, is under attack.
If we mobilize around this basic point, then we
are proved right no matter what happens. Even if
they postpone the court martial at the last
minute, the question would remain: Why did they
wait so long? By not canceling the court martial
immediately when the appeal on double jeopardy
was filed, they were attempting to erode the core
Constitutional principle of double jeopardy. In
that case, if they postpone or cancel the court
martial at the last minute, we can rightfully
claim a victory. If they proceed with the court
martial, we rightfully voice our outrage. By
simply speaking the truth to their power, we turn
their ambush on it's head.

Let me provide some background here. In
pre-trial motions, the Army judge, Lt. Col. Head
(the same judge who lied and forced a mistrial
when things didn't go the Army's way in the first
trial), said that double jeopardy didn't apply
because they have "different rules" in the Army.
When Ehren's lawyers cited specific Army
regulations and case law that proved double
jeopardy does apply in the Army, the judge simply
rejected the facts out of hand. The entire
pre-trial motions were very scripted and
controlled by the judge, who told the prosecution
what to say and limited what the defense lawyers
were allowed to say. The appeal is still in
process and there are several layers of appeal
yet to be exhausted before the appeal has run
it's course. It is clearly illegal and
unconstitutional to hold a trial until the
question of double jeopardy is finally resolved -
but the Army is doing it. It appears that Ehren
is about to be railroaded by a kangaroo court in
which the whole proceeding will be very
controlled and scripted and the outcome
pre-determined. After they "convict" Ehren and
put him in prison, perhaps the Army will then say
that since he's been convicted and imprisoned,
the appeal is irrelevant and invalid. This is
what is going down.

Ehren's parents, Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi,
and Carolyn Ho will be going up to Ft. Lewis for
the court martial. So will folks from the San
Francisco Bay Area including myself. Anyone who
can, please join us! For those who can't, please
organize some event in your local area to
publicize this issue. Thanks very, very much.

I apologize for this extremely late notice.
Ehren has been prevented from communicating
anything of substance to any organizers because
of heavy military surveillance, and this came to
our attention only now. As you can imagine,
there have been frantic discussions since then.
Plans are being thrown together at the last
minute, and as of now I can't tell you exactly
what will happen or what plans different peace
groups might develop. Basically we are all
flying by the seat of our pants and I would say
to everyone everywhere, just do whatever the hell
you can do with whomever is willing to do it with
you. Please circulate this email widely among
peace activists, thanks.

Michael Wong
Veterans for Peace chapter 69
Watada Support Committee
San Francisco


2) Officials Protest Antigang Raids Focused on Immigrants
October 2, 2007

Nassau County officials today will call for a federal investigation into a series of antigang raids last week that resulted in the arrests of 186 immigrants on Long Island. They said that the vast majority of those arrested were not gang members and that local police were misled and endangered by the operation.

Until yesterday, officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement who conducted the operation would not answer questions about the raids, which began last Monday and ended Sunday night, and have drawn protests from immigrant families and their advocates.

But yesterday afternoon, Peter J. Smith, a special agent in charge of the operation, said the raids, conducted by federal agents from all over the country, were a result of a two-month investigation based on a list of possible gang members supplied by state, county and local officials.

“The county gave us a list of more than 2,000 suspects from Nassau that we vetted jointly,” Mr. Smith said. “They should be happy we’re taking these people out, that we’re making their streets safer.”

But Lawrence W. Mulvey, the Nassau County police commissioner, and Thomas R. Suozzi, the county executive, are disputing the figures supplied by the federal agency and criticizing the tactics and practices used in raids at Nassau County residences. They will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. today to detail their complaints, including that the vast majority of those taken into custody were not criminals or gang members, just illegal immigrant workers, and that the local police had been duped into participating.

The police commissioner told The Associated Press on Friday that his officers would not cooperate again in such an operation.

Mr. Smith, of the immigration agency, said that of the 186 arrested, 28 had been identified as gang members and 129 as “associates of gang members.” Asked how the agency defined “associates of gang members,” he replied, “If you’re hanging with gang members and you’re eating with gang members, there’s an affiliation there.”

Of the 157 identified as gang members or associates, 92 were taken into custody in Nassau County, and 13 of them were identified as gang members, he said; in Suffolk County, where 65 of the arrests took place, 15 were identified as gang members. In all, 59 had previous criminal convictions that might make them deportable, Mr. Smith said, including weapons possession, resisting arrest, robbery and gang assault. All 186 face deportation proceedings.

One of the arrests that drew protest was of the father of a 4-month-old whose mother was at work. Mr. Smith said that the father was not a gang member, but that another man living in his apartment in Westbury had been convicted of a robbery. He said when the father was taken into custody, he voluntarily left the baby in the care of others until his wife’s return.


3) G.M. Labor Accord Calls for More Plant Closings
October 2, 2007

DETROIT, Oct. 1 — General Motors plans to close as many as 13 factories, four more than it previously announced, within the next four years if members of the United Automobile Workers union approve a tentative contract that union leaders have said will save jobs.

An engine plant in Livonia, near Detroit, would close in 2010, according to the text of the contract, which U.A.W. members began to review over the weekend. Other plants vulnerable to being closed, according to the contract, are a small-engine plant in Parma, Ohio; a metal-stamping plant in Indianapolis; and a stamping plant in Flint, Mich.

Together, the four plants have about 2,500 employees. Many of their workers are eligible to retire with full benefits, and the contract states that G.M. is to offer more buyouts, which would ease the process of cutting jobs.

Anyone laid off, however, would be subject to new restrictions on the length of time they could continue receiving pay and benefits under a longtime job-security provision known as the Jobs Bank.

“It’s time to retire, is what it means for me,” said Rich Jerome, 55, who works at the Livonia plant and has been with G.M. for 37 years. “I’m not going to go to another plant and start over.”

Paul Holdinski, the Livonia plant union chairman, said the plant had seemed to be on its last legs for some time. It has just 300 hourly workers, down from about 1,400 when Mr. Holdinski started there in 1985, and the V-8 engines that it builds for Cadillac sedans are not as popular in a time of high gas prices and pressure for fuel economy.

“A plant this size, it’s like family,” he said Monday. “We knew it was coming, but when I saw it in writing, it was a bittersweet moment for me.”

The plant closings are among the negative aspects of the contract that workers are learning about since union leaders unanimously approved the deal Friday. All 73,000 of G.M.’s hourly workers are scheduled to vote on the deal by Oct. 10.

U.A.W. members have often said in the past that they did not find out about problems with a contract until after they approved it, which has some in the union concerned that there is even more bad news lurking in this deal.

“The old-timers have a saying that they show you the highlights but you won’t know the lowlights until a year later,” said Gregg Shotwell, who heads a union dissident group called the Soldiers of Solidarity.

“We’re not surprised at all,” he said. “G.M. has never lived up to its job-security promises, and the U.A.W. has never held them accountable.”

But union leaders say the tentative agreement, which was reached last week after a two-day national strike, improves workers’ job security over all. The deal calls for 3,000 temporary workers to be made full employees, with regular pay and benefits, and for what the U.A.W. has labeled a “total moratorium on outsourcing.”

Under the contract, G.M. would open one new plant in Flint, which would build as many as 1,200 engines a day. The new plant would open in 2011 and replace G.M.’s Flint North engine plant, a 102-year-old factory — formerly part of G.M.’s sprawling “Buick City” manufacturing complex — that already had been scheduled to close in 2010. It is expected to have 600 to 800 hourly workers, up from the 400 who now work at Flint North.

Bill Jordan, president of U.A.W. Local 599 in Flint, said workers who had attended informational meetings about the contract Sunday were jubilant. He said this was the first time in a long while that G.M. had committed to continue building engines for more than a few years.

“You can’t plan for anything in your life when it’s like that. You can’t buy a house,” said Mr. Jordan, who called the deal “really innovative” and “much better than expected.”

But workers across town at G.M.’s Flint stamping plant have been given no firm indication of their future. The agreement says that G.M. will keep the stamping plant running at least until the contract expires in four years, but does not commit any new products to the plant, saying only that the company and the union will “explore opportunities for current Flint seniority employees.”

Workers at the engine plant in Parma must cope with similar uncertainty. The contract says, “No future powertrain products will be allocated to Parma,” where 126 hourly employees are scheduled to continue production until 2010.

Likewise, G.M. does not have new product plans for its stamping plant near downtown Indianapolis, where 850 people work, and plans to close or sell it by 2011, according to the contract, although the company says it will consider keeping the plant open.

The closings would be in addition to nine others, including those of assembly plants in Oklahoma City and Doraville, Ga., and a foundry in Massena, N.Y., that General Motors had previously said it would close as part of its reorganization.

G.M. officials declined to comment, and U.A.W. officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Mary M. Chapman contributed reporting.


4) Canada Arrests Worker Aiding Refugees
September 29, 2007

An American refugee aid worker accompanying Haitians seeking asylum in Canada was charged by Canadian authorities this week with immigrant trafficking.

Canadian lawyers said it was the first time that a 2002 immigration law, intended to prosecute organized criminal smugglers, had been used against someone working for an immigrant assistance organization.

The aid worker, Janet Hinshaw-Thomas, is the founder and director of Prime — Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees, a two-decade-old refugee resettlement organization in Pennsylvania. Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas, 65, was arrested on Wednesday at the Canadian border station at Lacolle in Quebec. She was arraigned in a court near Montreal on Thursday and released on $5,000 bail.

The Canadian prosecutor said in court on Thursday that the office of the attorney general, Robert Nicholson, had approved the charges, as required by the law. The crime carries a maximum life sentence.

“She is not running some kind of covert murky operation at all,” Eric Sutton, Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview yesterday from Montreal. “She was doing this on a purely humanitarian basis to assist refugees who are seeking asylum in a country where they have a right to present their claims.”

The Department of Justice for Canada referred questions about Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas’s arrest to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Erik Paradis, a spokesman for the Quebec regional office of the agency, said that its officers had applied the law as they understood it.

This month, Canada has faced a surge of immigrants, primarily Haitians and Mexicans, traveling to border stations to present claims for asylum. At least 200 immigrants requesting asylum, mostly Mexicans, turned up in recent weeks at the station in Windsor, Ontario, across from Detroit. Many were sent by a group in Naples, Fla., the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center, that collected fees from some immigrants.

Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas said yesterday that she had not been aware of the border dispute brewing in Ontario. In an interview by cellphone as she drove back from Canada to her office in Landsdowne, Pa., she said that her group had made 19 trips to the Canadian border in the last five months, taking immigrants, primarily Haitians, who had despaired of obtaining legal status in the United States and feared deportation.

“We want to help people who are in really very dire need, who might even face death upon return to their home countries,” she said.

She said her trip this week was only the second time she had accompanied immigrants to Canada. She arrived at the Lacolle border station on Wednesday with the Haitians, five adults and seven children from four families. Following a procedure her group had used on previous trips, Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas said, she advised Canadian border authorities five days ahead of time by e-mail when she would arrive and how many asylum-seekers she would bring.

In her e-mail message, she said, she included information showing that her organization was a nonprofit assistance group, not a business. “I wanted to clarify that I am really not doing this for profit,” she said.

Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas said that during her first trip, on Aug. 22, a Canadian immigration officer warned her that she could be prosecuted for trafficking if she was making any profit from the refugee trips. She said she told the officer that she collected fees, about $250 per family, to defray travel expenses. Mr. Paradis, the Border Services Agency spokesman, confirmed the warnings. “If a person has been notified that this method of working is illegal and they continue, we’re going to take action,” he said.

Opposition lawmakers and immigrant advocates in Canada protested the arrest. Marlene Jennings, a member of the opposition Liberal Party, accused Mr. Nicholson of “attempting to criminalize good Samaritans.”

Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas, a granddaughter of John Foster Dulles, the secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, and a niece of Cardinal Avery Dulles of New York, is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 30.

Ian Austen contributed reporting from Ottawa.


5) Texas Ruling Signals Halt to Executions Indefinitely
October 3, 2007

HOUSTON, Oct. 2 — Signaling an indefinite halt to executions in Texas, the state’s highest criminal appeals court late Tuesday stayed the lethal injection of a 28-year-old Honduran man who was scheduled to be put to death Wednesday.

The reprieve by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was granted a week after the United States Supreme Court agreed to consider whether a form of lethal injection constituted cruel and unusual punishment barred under the Eighth Amendment. On Thursday, the Supreme Court stepped in to halt a planned execution in Texas at the last minute, and though many legal experts interpreted that as a signal for all states to wait for a final ruling on lethal injection before any further executions, Texas officials said they planned to move ahead with more.

As a result, Tuesday’s ruling by the Texas court was seen as a sign that judges in the nation’s leading death penalty state were taking guidance from the Supreme Court and putting off imminent executions.

The Texas court order gave state authorities up to 30 days to explain in legal papers why the execution of the inmate, Heliberto Chi, should proceed. With responses then certain from defense lawyers, the effect of the order was to put off the execution for months, lawyers said.

Mr. Chi was convicted of killing the manager of a men’s store in Arlington in 2001.

Other executions, including four more scheduled in the next five months, were also likely to be stayed, said David R. Dow of the Texas Defender Service, a nonprofit law clinic that worked on Mr. Chi’s appeal.

“Until the Court of Criminal Appeals addresses the questions raised in this case there will be no more executions in Texas,” predicted Mr. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston.

Acting less than a week after it rejected another inmate’s appeal 5 to 4, the appeals court justices provided no breakdown of the vote and did not give any reasoning for their decision. But they directed the state’s director of criminal justice, Nathaniel Quarterman, not to execute Mr. Chi and gave Mr. Quarterman and Tim Curry, the district attorney of Tarrant County, where the crime had been committed, up to 30 days to respond to claims by Mr. Chi’s lawyers that the formulation and administration of chemicals used for lethal injections did not quickly and painlessly kill but paralyzed the condemned inmates while they painfully suffocated.

Earlier Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 4 to 3 against recommending a stay for Mr. Chi. A request for a 30-day reprieve was also pending with Gov. Rick Perry.

Had the appeals court not halted the execution, Mr. Chi’s lawyers would have taken the case to the United States Supreme Court, which last Thursday stayed the execution for another Texas inmate, Carlton Turner Jr.

Bryan Stevenson, director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., and a law professor at New York University, said the Supreme Court’s ruling was a sign that while it was reviewing the legality of lethal injection in a Kentucky case, “it was at least unseemly for states to be carrying out executions.”

Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School, called the latest stay in Texas significant. “I do think Texas is reaching a turning point,” Ms. Denno said. “It’s not unusual throughout the country, but it is unusual in Texas. And not uncommonly when people are talking about the death penalty, there’s Texas and everywhere else, because Texas seems to be in its own death penalty world.”

But Diane Clements, president of Justice For All, a victims’ advocacy group in Texas, said the Supreme Court and the Texas appeals court gave no reasons for their rulings, “so we’re left here with no direction.”

The delays spelled more suffering for victims’ families, Ms. Clements said. “I’m sure family of that stayed-execution victim is on a roller coaster ride,” she said. “If there’s anything certain about the death penalty for families, it’s that it is very uncertain.”


6) Nike Adds Indian Artifacts to Its Swoosh
October 3, 2007

When Nike recently introduced a shoe designed specifically for American Indians, the company said it was to promote a healthy lifestyle on reservations.

But along with its trademark swoosh, the Nike Air Native N7 features feathers and arrowheads, which bloggers have found off-putting.

“If this isn’t an example of corporate manipulation of race, I don’t know what is,” wrote one of about 200 readers commenting online about an article that appeared in The Rapid City Journal in South Dakota. There, the response to the article was split.

“What makes this a ridiculously bad move is decorating it ‘Native American style,’” added a reader identified as “la foi,” on the Web site of The Portland Mercury, an alternative weekly near Nike headquarters in Bend, Ore.

“They probably brought in a Native consultant and heard what they wanted to hear, which is that Native Americans like sunrises and rainbows and feel real connected to the earth and the night sky and stuff.”

But one of those consultants, Rodney Stapp, a podiatrist and a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, begs to differ.

“There are always going to be negative comments,” said Mr. Stapp, who is director of the Dallas Urban Indian Health Center, “but most of them are saying that because they are not really familiar with the whole process that Nike went through.”

Mr. Stapp first contacted Nike several years ago, he recalled, after he discovered that a Nike crosstraining shoe, the Air Monarch, was well suited for his diabetic patients, who had turned up their noses at “those big ugly black shoes” made specifically for diabetics. (American Indians are more than twice as likely to be diabetic as non-Hispanic whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control.)

Mr. Stapp contacted the company, which agreed to provide the shoes to him at their wholesale price of $27.50 rather than the retail price of $60. The clinic, which was financed by the federal government, in turn agreed to provide the sneakers to patients free.

Three years ago, Nike approached Mr. Stapp about being part of a team of consultants to design a shoe from scratch.

“Indians tend to have a wider forefoot,” he said, “but their heels are about average,” which means that when shoes fit in the front, there can be “heel slippage” in the back.

Of course, the shoes will fit many who are not Indians perfectly well, but it is unlikely that they will be able to get their hands (or feet) on them.

According to a Nike spokesman, the shoes, which will be shipped starting Nov. 1, will not be available at conventional retail outlets but only through Nike’s Native American business program, which distributes through Indian clinics and businesses, many on reservations.

Doctors who serve American Indians may have even more cause to nag their patients to exercise than doctors elsewhere. Along with a higher incidence of diabetes, deaths from heart disease are 20 percent higher than in the American population over all, while deaths from strokes are 14 percent higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The shoes have an $80 suggested retail price and will be sold to the Native American groups for $42.80. The company says its first run of the shoes, which come in men’s and women’s models, will be about 10,000 pairs, and that all profits from those sales — estimated at $200,000 at first — will be put into American Indian communities through a Nike athletic program called Let Me Play.

While some have taken umbrage at the idea of designing shoes for a specific ethnic group, others take this all less seriously.

“When I heard it, the first thing I did is I laughed until I cried, because I just though it was hilarious,” said Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian and a novelist, who is on a book tour for “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” a young adult novel.

“The day it was announced, I thought: ‘Are they going to have dream catchers on them? Are they going to be beaded? Will they have native bumper stickers on them that say, ‘Custer had it coming’?”


7) Conservatives Are Such Jokers
Op-Ed Columnist
October 5, 2007

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.

In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

And on the day of the veto, Mr. Bush dismissed the whole issue of uninsured children as a media myth. Referring to Medicaid spending — which fails to reach many children — he declared that “when they say, well, poor children aren’t being covered in America, if that’s what you’re hearing on your TV screens, I’m telling you there’s $35.5 billion worth of reasons not to believe that.”

It’s not just the poor who find their travails belittled and mocked. The sick receive the same treatment.

Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad in support of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for Senator in Missouri. It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox’s affliction was obvious.

And Rush Limbaugh — displaying the same style he exhibited in his recent claim that members of the military who oppose the Iraq war are “phony soldiers” and his later comparison of a wounded vet who criticized him for that remark to a suicide bomber — immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. “In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act.” Heh-heh-heh.

Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.


8) WELL: Evolution’s Secret Weapon: Grandma
October 5, 2007, 12:29 pm

Are grandmothers an evolutionary necessity? The contributions of older women to society have long been debated by anthropologists. In the animal world, females often don’t live much past their reproductive years. But in our world, women live into their 80s and beyond — a fact that may be explained, in part, by evolutionary forces.

“It’s the norm in human population that women are vigorous and productive long past their fertility,’’ noted Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at the University of Utah. She spoke yesterday at the North American Menopause Society meeting in Dallas.

Today many women feel marginalized once they reach menopause. But research suggests that far from being a burden to societies, grandmothers have played an important role in the evolution of human longevity. Studies of modern hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, Venezuela and Eastern Paraguay — societies that offer insights into how humans evolved — consistently show that Grandma is doing much of the work.

Researchers have even measured the muscle strength of men and women in these communities and weighed the baskets and bundles carted around by them. Often, the scientists find, women in their 60s are as strong as women in their 20s. “It’s the women over 40 who are carrying the heavy loads,’’ said Dr. Hawkes.

The research is the basis for the grandmother hypothesis that may help explain why menopause occurs. The basic idea is that an end to a woman’s reproductive years allows her to channel her energy and resources into caring for her children and grandchildren, thereby providing her descendants with a survival advantage.

Until recently, many researchers argued that menopause isn’t natural and that modern medicines simply have increased life expectancy well beyond what nature intended. But while it’s true that the average life expectancy for women was just 40 years only a century ago, recent studies have found the number was skewed by high infant mortality rates at the time. Plenty of women were living well past age 40, Dr. Hawkes said. Even the Bible recognized that women can live well beyond their fertile years, menopause society president Dr. Wulf Utian noted.

In primitive cultures today, said Dr. Hawkes, “women are strong and economically productive into their 60s….Women are not being helped along by others. The flow of help is going into the other direction.”


9) Accounts Differ on U.S. Attack That Killed 25 Iraqis
October 6, 2007

BAGHDAD, Oct. 5 — American troops backed by aircraft support attacked a Shiite town north of Baghdad at dawn today killing at least 25 Iraqis the military described as criminals who were involved in the transport of weapons. But Iraqis at the scene said the dead were innocent, though armed, civilians.

The military said it was searching for an insurgent leader believed to be associated with the elite Iranian Quds Force, which American intelligence sources believe is working in Iraq to foment violent activity by some Shiite militias.

Iraqis at the scene gave a sharply divergent account, saying the Iraqis killed had been trying to defend their town from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni militant group that American intelligence believes has foreign leadership. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has been active in the Diyala Province, but so have militias associated with the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

“The residents were defending themselves and the town,” said Uday al-Khadran, the mayor of Khalis, the district in which the fighting occurred.

“They were not militias for killing people and they were recognized by the security forces in the district and this issue is familiar in all the towns of Khalis because of Al Qaeda threats, especially to the Shiite,” he said.

However, a statement released by the American military described a serious onslaught from the Iraqis in the town. As American forces approached the village, the statement said, they came under heavy fire and called in airstrikes. The bombing destroyed two buildings and the military estimated 25 people were killed.

“Responding in self-defense, the ground force returned fire,” said the statement. Then, it said: “Enemy fire intensified and supporting aircraft were called in an attempt to suppress the threat. The armed group continued to engage, and began to aggressively maneuver toward Coalition forces, firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

“The ground force also observed one armed individual carrying what appeared to be an anti-aircraft weapon into a nearby building. Perceiving hostile intent, supporting aircraft engaged.”

The town, Gizani al-Imam, has a Shiite population and is well known as a stronghold of Shiite militias. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia extremists have attacked the area repeatedly and in self defense the residents formed a guard force and kept a night watch for possible militant incursions. Interviews with several residents who were wounded suggest that the situation may have been extremely complex, with some townspeople merely helping more hardcore militia members.

Nasrallah Fadhil, a resident who was slightly wounded in his leg described the American attack as looking as if “fireballs were falling from the sky.”

“I heard three big blasts,” he said. “I didn’t know what happened afterward since I lost conscious. After I recovered I saw scattered bodies here and there, bodies of innocent people. We were not militias or Qaeda but innocent people who defend our honor and the Americans are criminals.” Diyala, a large province just north of Baghdad, is narrowly divided between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, and the two groups are fighting for dominance. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia appears to be methodically cleansing Shiites in some areas of the province. However, Shiite militias are also active and while some of those linked to Mr. Sadr have laid down weapons for the time being on his orders, other splinter organizations have persisted in attacks on American troops and on Iraqis who are perceived as working with them.

The American military said it believed that those who are continuing to fight were linked to Iran. “We continue to support the government of Iraq in welcoming the commitment by Muqtada al-Sadr to stop attacks and we will continue to show restraint in dealing with those who honor his pledge,” said Maj. Anton Alston, a military spokesman.

“We will not show the same restraint against those criminals who dishonor this pledge by attacking security forces and Iraqi citizens.”

An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Diyala Province.


10) Investigator Said to Find Case Against Marine Weak
October 5, 2007

BAGHDAD, Oct. 4 — A military investigator has recommended dropping murder charges against a Marine infantryman charged with killing 17 apparently unarmed Iraqis in the volatile city of Haditha nearly two years ago, a defense lawyer in the case said Thursday.

Instead, the investigator recommended that if the case proceeded to court-martial, the marine, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, be charged only with negligent homicide for the deaths of seven women and children killed in a home assaulted by a Marine squad after a roadside bomb struck its convoy, said Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Sergeant Wuterich.

The investigator recommended that no charges be filed against Sergeant Wuterich in the deaths of the other 10 Iraqis he was originally accused of killing. The investigator, Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware, a Marine lawyer, has sent his recommendation to the commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, who will decide whether to try the case by court-martial.

Colonel Ware has presided over hearings for all three enlisted men charged with murder in the Haditha episode and last summer recommended dropping all charges against the previous two, Lance Cpls. Justin L. Sharratt and Stephen B. Tatum, citing a lack of evidence. Colonel Ware said those killings should be viewed in the context of combat against an enemy that ruthlessly employs civilians as cover. He also warned that murder charges against marines could harm the morale of troops still in Iraq.

The commanding general, James N. Mattis, has dismissed the charges against one of the lance corporals but has not yet ruled on the other case.

In his 37-page report on Sergeant Wuterich’s case, Colonel Ware again struck a skeptical tone about the evidence presented by prosecutors, said someone who had reviewed the document, and seemed inclined to give the accused infantryman the benefit of the doubt.

Colonel Ware found testimony from the main prosecution witness, Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, to be “wholly incredible.”

“The case against Staff Sergeant Wuterich, that he committed murder, is simply not strong enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Colonel Ware wrote, according to a person who read the report and quoted portions of it to a reporter.

Prosecuting the Haditha case has posed special challenges because the killings were not comprehensively investigated when they first occurred. Months later, when details came to light, there were no bodies to examine and no Iraqi witnesses to testify.

On Nov. 17, 2005, Sergeant Wuterich, then a 25-year-old squad leader, was the senior enlisted man in a group of marines that attacked four homes after the roadside bombing of their convoy. Over several hours, the marines killed 24 people, including five men in a car that pulled up near the scene of the explosion, and about 10 women and children in the nearby homes.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” broadcast this year, Sergeant Wuterich, of Meriden, Conn., acknowledged killing the five men from the car because, he said, they had run away, disobeying shouted orders to stand still.

Sergeant Dela Cruz had testified that he saw Sergeant Wuterich kill the five men while their hands were up.

Inside the homes where many Iraqis were killed, including the seven women and children Sergeant Wuterich was accused of killing, marines used grenades and rifles to clear the structures of enemy fighters. No weapons were found in the homes.

In the report, Colonel Ware said he believed that a jury would probably decline to convict Sergeant Wuterich of any crime other than dereliction of duty, for failing to ensure that his men followed the rules of engagement when they fired their weapons, according to a person who has read the document.

“I believe after reviewing all the evidence no trier of fact can conclude that Staff Sgt. Wuterich formed the criminal intent to kill,” Colonel Ware wrote, the person who reviewed the report said. “The evidence is contradictory, the forensic analysis is limited, and almost all the witnesses have an obvious bias or prejudice.”

Several officers were earlier charged with dereliction of duty for failing to properly investigate the episode. Investigators recommended dropping all charges against a battalion lawyer, and last month prosecutors dropped all charges against the commander of Company K, Third Battalion, First Marines .

The case against a battalion commander was recommended to proceed to court-martial.


11) Before and Beyond Jena
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
September 29, 2007

Until several weeks ago, the name “Jena” was doubtless unfamiliar to millions of people in the U.S., until the demonstrations around the case of the Jena 6 brought attention to the small Louisiana town.

But, before the case occurred, the name became known to hundreds (if not thousands) of young Blacks, who came to know, quite intimately, that Jena was just another word for racism, rape, violence, and humiliation.

After the ravages of Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and its surrounding areas, hundreds of imprisoned people were transported to the Jena Juvenile Justice Center, in Jena, Louisiana, a place that became their nightmare. The place was so medieval and tortuous in its treatment of young people, that it was severely criticized by a federal judge as a place where people were "treated as if they walked on all fours," before it was closed.

According to published reports put out by the groups Human Rights Watch and the NAACP-Legal Defense Fund, people arriving at JJJC were beaten, brutalized, harassed, and subjected to racist taunts by staff members there. This was after it was reopened in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

They were denied things allegedly required by the Constitution, like grievance forms, calls to family, or pen and paper.

They were treated like they were al-Qaeda, and this was Guantanamo—this, in the country, and in many cases, the state of their births.

The Human Rights Watch and NAACP-LDF have tried to interest state officials in a meaningful investigation, but this has led to little more than lip service.

Although federal officials have reportedly announced their intention to investigate, it is equally doubtful that any real, serious investigation will emerge.

As for the media (except for some segments of the Black press), Jena was little more than a 1 day, or at best, a 3-day story.

Their coverage, such as it was, was little more than a platform to allow local Jenites to exclaim how they weren't racists, and that nooses are just “pranks'”used by “youngins” to have a little fun.

As ever, there has been little attempt to look backwards into recent history, and now that the last Jena 6 accused is out on bail, little looking to the future as well.
How is it possible in the U.S. today, for people wearing KKK robes to always intone, "I'm not a racist?"

When viewing or listening to locals there, it was almost impossible to not hear the echoes of 50 years ago, when civil rights actions began to stir the South, that “the problem” was, once again, "outside agitators", like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They were the problem, not “our darkeys.”

Only with the not-too-subtle death threats from Klan-related groups have we seen that the nooses from the so-called “white tree,” which sparked much of the Jena phenomenon, was far more than boys being boys.

The Jena case didn't start with 6 young schoolboys.

It won't end with them.

The case stems from something deep and abiding in the American heart and soul.
And it lives in every state of the union—not just in Louisiana.
This shouldn't be the end of the movement—but the spark for more.

(Source: "First youth, then hurricane evacuees were tortured by Jena prison guards," San Francisco Bay View, September 19, 2007, pp. 1,5,7,9: For more info: :or:)


12) Out of Prison and Deep in Debt
October 6, 2007

With the nation’s incarcerated population at 2.1 million and growing — and corrections costs topping $60 billion a year — states are rightly looking for ways to keep people from coming back to prison once they get out. Programs that help ex-offenders find jobs, housing, mental health care and drug treatment are part of the solution. States must also end the Dickensian practice of saddling ex-offenders with crushing debt that they can never hope to pay off and that drives many of them right back to prison.

The scope of the ex-offender debt problem is outlined in a new study commissioned by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and produced by the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center. The study, “Repaying Debts,” describes cases of newly released inmates who have been greeted with as much as $25,000 in debt the moment they step outside the prison gate. That’s a lot to owe for most people, but it can be insurmountable for ex-offenders who often have no assets and whose poor educations and criminal records prevent them from landing well-paying jobs.

Often, the lion’s share of the debt is composed of child support obligations that continue to mount while the imprisoned parent is earning no money. The problem does not stop there. The corrections system buries inmates in fines, fees and surcharges that can amount to $10,000 or more. According to the Justice Center study, for example, a person convicted of drunken driving in New York can be charged a restitution fee of $1,000, a probation fee of $1,800 and 11 other fees and charges that range from $20 to nearly $2,200.

In some jurisdictions, inmates are also billed for the DNA testing that proves their guilt or innocence, for drug testing and even for the drug treatment they are supposed to receive as a condition of parole. These fees are often used to run the courts, the sheriffs’ offices or other parts of the corrections system.

A former inmate living at or even below the poverty level can be dunned by four or five departments at once — and can be required to surrender 100 percent of his or her earnings. People caught in this impossible predicament are less likely to seek regular employment, making them even more susceptible to criminal relapse.

The Justice Center report recommends several important reforms. First, the states should make one agency responsible for collecting all debts from ex-offenders. That agency can then set payment priorities. The report also recommends that payments to the state for fines and fees be capped at 20 percent of income, except when the former inmate has sufficient assets to pay more. And in cases where the custodial parent agrees, the report urges states to consider modifying child support orders while the noncustodial parent is in prison. Once that parent is released, child support should be paid first.

The states should also develop incentives, including certificates of good conduct and waivers of fines, for ex-offenders who make good-faith efforts to make their payments. Where appropriate, they should be permitted to work off some of the debt through community service. Beyond that, elected officials who worry about recidivism need to understand that bleeding ex-offenders financially is a sure recipe for landing them back in jail.


13) Send in the Clowns
Op-Ed Columnist
October 6, 2007

It’s embarrassing.

The U.S. is going through a transitional period at least as important as the early post-World War II years. New worlds in energy, technology, the economy and global interdependence are either upon us or coming fast.

Yet much of the nation’s top leadership is either wasting its time on complete nonsense or trying with great determination to push us back to the era of top hat and tails.

Among other things, Republicans are trying to figure out what to do about Larry Craig, the loony senator from Idaho who got caught in a public toilet behaving as if he thought the promised land was just one stall away.

Democrats, unable to do anything about George W. Bush’s policy of eternal war in Iraq, found themselves reduced to fulminating in official Congressional proceedings about the latest wackiness from Rush Limbaugh.

Meanwhile, the president and his priceless band of can’t-get-it-right-wingers, are busy vetoing health insurance for children, dreaming up secret torture protocols, funneling lucrative federal contracts to friends and cronies and fulfilling their paramount mission — making the very rich richer.

So much for leadership.

The nation’s failure to deal constructively with the new realities of employment, education, health care, retirement and so on has taken a toll.

The Times’s David Leonhardt, in a column that ran in September, noted that when Americans think about their lives in relation to the past, they are very upbeat. Life for most Americans is better than it was for their parents and grandparents.

“But,” wrote Mr. Leonhardt, “when the discussion is about the future, the national mood darkens. In one typical poll from last year, only 34 percent of people said they expected today’s children to be better off than people are now, down from 55 percent when a similar question was asked in 1999.”

Americans have every reason to be concerned. A study released last spring showed that men who are now in their 30s earn less than their fathers’ generation did at the same age. The median income for men in their 30s in 1974, in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars, was $40,210. According to the study, which used Census figures compiled for 2004, those annual earnings had dropped to $35,010.

President Bush’s unconscionable veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program comes at a time when the number of uninsured children is rising and employer-based health insurance is going the way of rotary phones and carbon paper. That’s not neglect. That’s willfully doing harm to children.

In the first two or three decades after World War II, there was a broad sense of optimism, a strongly held belief, despite many crises, that Americans could achieve great things. Men and women of talent and vision gave us the Marshall Plan, the G.I. Bill, the interstate highway program, the Peace Corps, the space program, the civil rights movement and much more.

Where is the comparable vision for the early-21st century? Who is rallying America with the clarion call that we can do great things?

From the Republicans, we get the message that the most important thing to hold on to is fear itself. The terrorists are out to get us. From the Democrats, heavily armed with thermometers, barometers and windmills, comes the usual timidity. They behave as if their hearts would stop if they actually took a tough stand.

Meanwhile, there are many millions of Americans who are not doing well, and the nation is not addressing their plight. Thirty-seven million Americans, many of them children, are officially classified as poor. What is not widely known is that another 57 million are struggling just one notch above the poverty line. This is spelled out in a new book, “The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America,” by Katherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen.

Near-poor Americans live in households with annual incomes of $20,000 to $40,000 for a family of four. They work at jobs that are highly unstable and offer few if any benefits. Many of their children would qualify for insurance coverage under the S-chip program that the president so coldly vetoed on Wednesday.

No wonder so many Americans are turned off to politics.

One of the paramount challenges of the new era is the task of getting a legitimate four-year college degree into the hands of as many American young people as possible. A four-year degree has become a virtual prerequisite for a middle-class quality of life. The overall benefits to the country of such an explosive improvement in educational achievement are incalculable.

But at the moment, the geniuses running the country can’t even figure out how to cover the cost of keeping American children healthy. So we’ve got a way to go.


14) Bush Says Interrogation Methods Aren’t Torture
October 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

The remarks, Mr. Bush’s first public comments on the memorandums, came at a hastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as a talk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bush shifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: a once-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogate high-profile terror suspects.

“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said, without mentioning the C.I.A. by name. “And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information — actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That’s our job.”

Without confirming the existence of the memorandums or discussing the explicit techniques they authorized, Mr. Bush said the interrogation methods had been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.”

But his comments only provoked another round of recriminations on Capitol Hill, as Democrats ratcheted up their demands to see the classified memorandums, first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

“The administration can’t have it both ways,” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement after the president’s remarks. “I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.”

In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

The memorandums were written just months after a Justice Department opinion in December 2004 declared torture “abhorrent.”

Administration officials have confirmed the existence of the classified opinions, but will not make them public, saying only that they approved techniques that were “tough, safe, necessary and lawful.”

On Friday, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“I’ve had the awful responsibility to have to work with The New York Times and other news organizations on stories that involve the release of classified information,” Mr. Fratto said. “And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

The memorandums, and the ensuing debate over them, go to the core of a central theme of the Bush administration: the expansive use of executive power in pursuit of terror suspects.

That theme has been a running controversy on Capitol Hill, where Democrats, and some Republicans, have been furious at the way the administration has kept them out of the loop.

The clash colored Congressional relations with Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general. And by Friday, it was clear that the controversy would now spill over into the confirmation hearings for Michael B. Mukasey, the retired federal judge whom Mr. Bush has nominated to succeed Mr. Gonzales in running the Justice Department.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him whether, if confirmed, he would provide lawmakers with the Justice Department memorandums.

And Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat and Judiciary Committee member, said he expected the memorandums would become a central point in the Mukasey confirmation debate.

“When the president says the Justice Department says it’s O.K., he means Alberto Gonzales said it was O.K.,” Mr. Schumer, who has been a vocal backer of Mr. Mukasey, said in an interview.

“Very few people are going to have much faith in that, and we do need to explore that.”

The administration has been extremely careful with information about the C.I.A. program, which had been reported in the news media but was, officially at least, a secret until Mr. Bush himself publicly disclosed its existence in September 2006.

At the time, the president confirmed that the C.I.A. had held 14 high-profile terrorism suspects — including the man thought to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — in secret prisons, but said the detainees had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The 2005 Justice Department opinions form the legal underpinning for the program. On Friday, the director of the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden also defended the program, in an e-mail message to agency employees.

“The story has sparked considerable comment,” General Hayden wrote, referring to the account in The Times, “including claims that the opinion opened the door to more harsh interrogation tactics and that information about the interrogation methods we actually have used has been withheld from our oversight committees in Congress. Neither assertion is true.”


15) The Whole World Will Be Watching
By Bill Simpich
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Saturday 06 October 2007

Until today, the story about the impending second trial of United States v. Lt. Ehren Watada was how the Army was planning on a proceeding with very little publicity and almost no witnesses.

It almost worked. In a last-minute ruling at 4:48 pm on Friday, the Hon. Benjamin Settle stayed the Watada trial from beginning on Tuesday, October 9 and set a hearing for Friday, October 19. His ruling also states that the trial cannot begin until at least October 26. The bigger question is whether it will ever happen at all. Now there is no chance that this case is going to escape strict international scrutiny. None.

Antiwar activists are jubilant at this unexpected turn of events, as the anticipated media coverage of this clash will inevitably encourage participation in the nationwide "Iraq Moratorium" community events on October 19 and the national mobilization against the war in eleven major cities on Saturday, October 27. (Source: .)

During the first trial in February 2007, Lt. Watada and his defense team put on a stunning display of resistance before a bull-headed judge in the heart of Fort Lewis and in the eyes of the mainstream media. Every prosecution witness had attested to the stout heart and integrity of the defendant. Lt. Watada was about to tell his story about his belief in the illegality of the war in Iraq, based on his officer's oath to the United States Constitution, (Source: .) to what seemed like the entire world. (Source for this and succeeding trial description: .)

Abruptly, the judge halted the trial. Lt. Watada had submitted a document in open court at the beginning of the trial admitting that he had knowingly not boarded a plane to Iraq. The judge ruled that the lieutenant had made a fatal admission that would prejudice his defense.

It was the kind of argument that one might expect from a desperate defense attorney, but not from a judge. To top it off, Lt. Watada's own lawyer was asking for the trial to go forward even while the judge had ruled out all of Watada's defenses! It was apparent to observers that there was a real possibility that the military jury would be extremely lenient in deciding on Watada's guilt and sentence.

Since then, the question in activist and legal circles has been whether Lt. Watada should be forced to endure a second trial. The basis of the doctrine of double jeopardy is to ensure that the prosecution doesn't get a "mulligan" ( i.e., "do-over") whenever things aren't going their way.

The word was out that the Army Court of Criminal Appeals had granted a stay, and the assumption was that judges would spend years hoping that this would all somehow go away.

However, when the Army Court of Criminal Appeals ruled this summer in favor of the prosecution, the army saw an opening for a "snap trial". Activists were not following the case closely, believing that the stay was still in effect. Although the appellate court's decision dissolved the stay, that word didn't get out due to lack of publicity.

Two weeks ago, Watada's lawyers had gone to the next level - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces - and that court was apparently happy to do nothing and watch Lt. Watada go down. (Source: 10/5 Seattle P-I.)

The general rule is that a civilian judge will not interfere with a military proceeding. That's apparently why Watada's legal team waited until Wednesday to file their motion for stay. At that point, they could legitimately argue that they had exhausted their remedies.

The squeeze play to avoid publicity was in full effect. Early on Friday, Fort Lewis Public Affairs announced that media wanting to cover the trial had until Saturday at 4:30 pm to register with their office. (Source: David Mitchell and Gerry Condon, Courage to Resist; CtR organizer Jeff Paterson's letter.)

Rather than seek the testimony of journalists as in the initial trial - which only resulted in even further publicity - the Army subpoenaed regional anti-war organizers in an attempt to use their testimony against Lt. Watada.

It was a big moment for Northwest activists, who had been struggling to ensure at least a respectable showing of support for this unexpected trial. Their hands were already full in handling the campaign for Iraq war resister Robin Long, who was arrested on Monday in a small town just north of the Washington state line. Will Iraq War resisters be given sanctuary in Canada, like the Vietnam war resisters? The question is not yet settled, but the outpouring of support persuaded Canadian officials to temporarily release Long on Wednesday rather than deport him back to the US. The Watada victory was their second big win of the week. (Source: Courage to Resist, 10/3)

What has not changed is that Lt. Watada is facing six years in prison. One year of his looming prison term is based on a "conduct unbecoming an officer" charge , solely for a few well-chosen words in a historic speech last year to the Veterans For Peace Convention, with fifty Iraq War veterans standing by his side:

"Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War - but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it ...

"I tell this to you because you must know that to stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the unconditional support of the people. I have seen this support with my own eyes. For me it was a leap of faith.

"For other soldiers, they do not have that luxury. They must know it and you must show it to them. Convince them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities and education."


16) On Torture and American Values
October 7, 2007

Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

After the attacks of 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret. Some of their methods — simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress positions and isolation — had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations. The administration clearly knew this; the C.I.A. modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.

The White House could never acknowledge that. So its lawyers concocted documents that redefined “torture” to neatly exclude the things American jailers were doing and hid the papers from Congress and the American people. Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s loyal enabler, the Justice Department even declared that those acts did not violate the lower standard of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

That allowed the White House to claim that it did not condone torture, and to stampede Congress into passing laws that shielded the interrogators who abused prisoners, and the men who ordered them to do it, from any kind of legal accountability.

Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.

Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?

Truly banning the use of torture would not jeopardize American lives; experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confessions. Restoring the rule of law to Guantánamo Bay would not set terrorists free; the truly guilty could be tried for their crimes in a way that does not mock American values.

Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system. It also will add immeasurably to the risk facing any man or woman captured while wearing America’s uniform or serving in its intelligence forces.

This is an easy choice.


17) For Schools, Lottery Payoffs Fall Short of Promises
"...a New York Times examination of lottery documents, as well as interviews with lottery administrators and analysts, finds that lotteries accounted for less than 1 percent to 5 percent of the total revenue for K-12 education last year in the states that use this money for schools."
October 7, 2007

Last year, North Carolina’s governor, Mike Easley, finally delivered on his promise to start a lottery, making his state the most recent of the 42 states and the District of Columbia to cash in on legalized gambling.

If some voters in this Bible Belt state frowned on Mr. Easley’s push to bring gambling here, others were persuaded by his argument that North Carolina’s students were missing out on as much as $500 million in aid annually as residents crossed the border to buy lottery tickets elsewhere.

“Our people are playing the lottery,” the governor said in an address two years ago that was a prelude to the creation of the North Carolina Education Lottery. “We just need to decide which schools we should fund, other states’ or ours.”

Pitches like this have become popular among lawmakers who, since states began legalizing lotteries more than 40 years ago, have sold gambling as a savior for cash-starved public schools and other government programs. Lotteries have raised billions of dollars, and of the 42 states that have them, 23 earmark all or some of the money for education.

For years, those states have heard complaints that not enough of their lottery revenue is used for education. Now, a New York Times examination of lottery documents, as well as interviews with lottery administrators and analysts, finds that lotteries accounted for less than 1 percent to 5 percent of the total revenue for K-12 education last year in the states that use this money for schools.

In reality, most of the money raised by lotteries is used simply to sustain the games themselves, including marketing, prizes and vendor commissions. And as lotteries compete for a small number of core players and try to persuade occasional customers to play more, nearly every state has increased, or is considering increasing, the size of its prizes — further shrinking the percentage of each dollar going to education and other programs.

In some states, lottery dollars have merely replaced money for education. Also, states eager for more players are introducing games that emphasize instant gratification and more potentially addictive forms of gambling.

Of course, the question of how much lotteries contribute to education has been around for years. But the debate is particularly timely now that at least 10 states and the District of Columbia are considering privatizing their lotteries, despite assurances decades ago that state involvement would blunt social problems that might emerge from an unregulated expansion of lotteries. These trends fly in the face of marketing campaigns that often emphasize lotteries’ educational benefits, like a South Carolina lottery slogan, “Big Fun, Bright Futures,” or an ad campaign in North Carolina featuring a thank-you note passed through schools and signed “The Students.” The New York Lottery’s Web site includes the tagline, “Raising billions to educate millions.”

Promotions like these have taken root. Surveys and interviews indicate that many Americans in states with lotteries linked to education think their schools are largely supported by lottery funds — so much so that they even mention this when asked to vote for tax increases or bond authorizations to finance their schools.

A Growing Industry

Long a mainstay of American life, lotteries began as raffles in the 1700s to finance the Continental Army, bridges and roads, and Columbia University. But modern lotteries are big businesses, run by streamlined enterprises with managers and consultants from Fortune 500 companies.

State lotteries raised more than $56 billion and returned $17 billion to the state governments last year. They spent more than $460 million last year on advertising, making them one of the nation’s largest marketers. The 197,000 retailers that sell lottery products earned $3.3 billion in commissions in 2006.

Lottery advocates say the games live up to their public mandate. According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, $234 billion has gone into state coffers since the first modern lottery was started in New Hampshire in 1964.

“Lotteries bring additional money to states that can be used very effectively to fund special projects without raising taxes,” said Charles Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, a nonprofit group.

But among the states that earmark lottery money for education, lottery dollars accounted for 1 percent or less of the total K-12 education financing (including all state, federal and local revenue) last year in at least five states, including New Jersey. New York had the highest percentage, 5.3 percent.

(Five states — Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina and Tennessee — direct lottery dollars primarily to college scholarships. North Carolina and Florida also give some money to scholarships.)

At least five states — California, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington — channel lottery money to higher education as well as elementary and secondary schools. In these states, too, lottery proceeds amount to less than 5 percent of the total education financing.

In at least four states — California, Illinois, Michigan and Texas — lottery dollars as a percentage of K-12 education money has declined or remained flat over the last decade.

In California, for example, the lottery in 1985 accounted for almost 5 percent of all K-12 education dollars. Today, it makes up less than 2 percent, or about $1 billion, of the $54 billion the state spends on in K-12 education, according to the California Budget Project, a nonprofit research group in Sacramento.

The California Department of Education addressed this in its State Fact Book two years ago: “Although the public still perceives the lottery as making a significant difference in the funds available for education,” the book read, “it is a minor source that cannot be expected to provide major improvements in K-12 education.”

Some state lotteries have fallen short of projections. In North Carolina, where officials expected the lottery to generate $400 million to $500 million a year for education, revenue reached just over $300 million in its first full year of operations. In Oklahoma, officials expected schools to receive $52 million last year from the lottery, but the final tally was $15 million less.

Also, the portion of lottery money going to state programs is shrinking. When Missouri passed its lottery in 1985, it required that at least 45 percent of all proceeds go to the state, and the number went as high as 52 percent. Legislators revised the law, and now the state gets about 30 percent of proceeds.

The Times review of documents from all 42 states with lotteries and the District of Columbia found that nearly all have increased payouts and lowered the percentage going to programs. And those that have not changed their payout formulas are considering it.

Lawmakers and lottery officials defend the practices, saying schools and other programs will still benefit from the extra money raised by lotteries.

“Too much of the focus is on percentages,” said Gardner Gurney, acting director of the New York lottery. “My focus is on dollars. You can’t spend percentages.”

In 2000, New York State kept 38 percent of its lottery revenue for education. That share has dropped to 32 percent, but the dollar amount rose from $1.3 billion in 2000 to $2.2 billion last year.

But Jerry McPeak, a Democratic state representative in Oklahoma, said states that have committed to a percentage should not later lower that number.

“I think if you pass a lottery and tell people that a certain proportion of those dollars are going to something like education, then you ought to keep your word,” Mr. McPeak said.

School Budgets in Flux

In some states, lottery dollars are pooled with other funds, making it impossible to determine how much the lottery benefits schools. That is the case in Michigan, Texas and Illinois.

Because legislators in these states decide school budgets well in advance of knowing what lottery revenue will be, lottery money is just another part of the overall budget. If the lottery dollars are below projections, the state makes up the shortfall with money from other sources, or in some cases, simply gives schools less money. If the lottery dollars exceed projections, the state uses some of the money for other programs.

“Legislators merely substitute general revenue funds with lottery dollars so the schools don’t really gain any additional funding,” said O. Homer Erekson, dean of the business school at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, who co-wrote a national study on lottery money and school financing.

States including Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina have enacted laws that prohibit substituting lottery dollars for money that would have otherwise gone to education. But such laws have not stopped legislators.

Oklahoma, for example, used lottery money last year for a portion of promised teacher raises that were supposed to come from the general fund. The move provoked an angry response from education officials and some legislators.

In Nebraska, from 2002 through the last fiscal year, legislators diverted lottery dollars from the state’s K-12 education and other programs into the general fund to make up for a shortfall.

“Diverting lottery funds into the general fund was one of many ways to make up for the lost revenues,” said Bruce Snyder, a supervisor in the accounting office at the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services.

Lottery officials say they are unfairly blamed for legislators’ decisions. “Our job is to raise money for the things the legislators want,” said Clint Harris, director of the Minnesota lottery. “We don’t have any control over what happens to the money.”

But Brett McFadden, a budget analyst with the Association of California School Administrators, said: “It makes it harder for us to convince people that they still need to support education.” He added, “They think the lottery is taking care of education. We have to tell them we’re only getting a few sprinkles; we’re not even getting the icing on the cake.”

New Games and Gimmicks

As player interest has flagged, some lotteries have responded with aggressive marketing and new products that critics say can undermine public trust.

In an effort to attract younger customers, several states have introduced video lottery terminals, in which players wager against a computer, and Keno, a bingo-like video game. Critics have labeled both kinds of games “video crack” because of their addictive nature. Fifteen states offer electronic gambling machines, and several more are considering adding them.

This year in Florida, state officials estimated that the state could raise an additional $1 billion from video terminals and $39 million to $241 million from Keno. The report also noted that both games “are considered to be more addictive than traditional lottery games and could contribute to a problem of pathological gambling.”

While introducing Keno in Florida would require legislative approval because of potential problems associated with gambling, Florida officials view the issue through an economic lens.

“We will determine which, of the products legally available to us, fits in fulfilling that mission,” said Jackie Barreiros, a spokeswoman for the Florida lottery.

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said many states are also introducing higher-price games, underscoring a Vegas-style rivalry among states for gambling dollars.

California’s contract with its instant ticket vendor, Scientific Games, calls for the introduction of 30 to 45 new games a year. Kansas, Texas and Michigan recently introduced a $50 scratch ticket, the most expensive in the nation.

States are also trying to bolster the number of “core” players, according to interviews with lottery officials in several states. Such players typically represent only 10 percent to 15 percent of all players but account for 80 percent of sales, according to Independent Lottery Research, which does research and marketing for state lotteries.

In North Carolina, Mr. Easley faces a battle in proving that the lottery will be a winner for voters. After its first full year, revenue was 25 percent less than projected, giving critics ammunition in their case that lottery revenue is an unreliable source of money for schools.

The governor declined to be interviewed, but Dan Gerlach, his senior policy adviser for fiscal affairs, said lottery officials had overestimated the market size of rival lotteries in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia when developing the state’s gambling efforts. But Mr. Gerlach said he expected the state to sell millions more tickets in coming months than it did last year.

That is because Mr. Easley recently persuaded his legislature to increase lottery prizes. The move will reduce the percentage of lottery dollars going to education. But North Carolina is choosing a tried and true formula: raising payouts increases customer traffic.

“People like to win big,” Mr. Gerlach said. “Now, the pot is bigger.”


18) A Heavy Toll From Disease Fuels Suspicion and Anger
October 7, 2007

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass., Oct. 6 — The big news in this struggling southeastern Massachusetts community is a proposed $1 billion casino complex that many hope will bring financial salvation.

But for a small group of residents, the hope for economic revival is overshadowed by health concerns. They are awaiting a report later this year that could reveal whether the dozens of cases of Lou Gehrig’s disease centered around a downtown industrial area were caused by pollution.

The cases, which both state and federal officials call a disease cluster, are located within a mile of Everett Square — a densely settled neighborhood adjacent to the town’s onetime factory row. It is now home to two Superfund sites.

The study, which was financed by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and conducted by state health scientists, will be followed by the creation of a statewide registry to track cases of the disease, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the cause of which is not fully understood.

State Senator Marian Walsh, a Democrat from West Roxbury, said it was understandable that most residents were more interested in the prospect of obtaining a casino, which would be built by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians and is expected to create as many as 10,000 jobs.

“It’s human nature that we move toward pleasure and away from pain,” Ms. Walsh said. “But here, if we can understand the genesis, the registry will bring in money, information and resources that will help get to a cure.”

Word about the A.L.S. cluster surprised Scott Ferson, a spokesman for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

“We didn’t know about it,” Mr. Ferson said, asserting, however, that the revelation was not an issue in choosing to locate the project in the town. Middleborough residents voted to accept the casino in July.

In early September, Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, announced a plan to license three casinos, including one here in southeastern Massachusetts.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that destroys the ability to control movement. Patients lose their ability to move or speak, but their minds remain unaffected. It is nearly always fatal, usually within a few years of diagnosis.

Some residents, like Victor and Marion Sylvia, married 57 years, have spent years trying to prove that heavy metals and solvents from plating and shoe factories — and the toxic chemical cocktails of other industries — are to blame for the illnesses here.

Mr. Sylvia, a former town selectman, knew many of the dead and dying. Others seem like friends, though he knows them only on paper. “Our hearts go out to these poor souls,” he said. “There is no cure.”

Now dependent on a cane, Mr. Sylvia conducts much of his activism from the kitchen table, where 40 years of research fans out in yellowing stacks of maps, newspaper clippings and obituaries. He remembers a pivotal moment in winter 1976 that intensified his suspicions about toxins when he drove around a curve near the factories and found a multicolored mess of melting snow and ice.

Offending sites, like the abandoned Middleborough Plating Company and Rockland Industries, a chemical plant, are either already capped or under remediation.

But Mr. Sylvia, a farmer who once grew watercress and mint near waterways he insists are tainted, said it was not enough.

“People are still getting sick — that’s what bothers me more than anything,” he said. “But I’m getting tired. I’m 78 years old. I don’t know if they’ll ever prove that one company caused a problem.”

Town Selectman Wayne Perkins said: “For years, there’s been a fear that something was here creating more of an instance of A.L.S. I’m concerned. I’ve always been concerned. It can’t be undone, but it can be cleaned up.”

Suzanne K. Condon, director of the state’s Center for Environmental Health, said an environmental link may emerge from the report. “About 10 percent of the time we do these types of cluster investigations we tend to see that the environment may have played a role,” she said.

High incidences of breast cancer in some affluent communities may not so much be attributed to a cluster, for example, but rather better screening processes for early detection, she said.

“But with A.L.S., we don’t really have a surveillance system in place,” Ms. Condon said, because there is still no definitive answer to what causes it.

Investigations into such cases are often inconclusive, and what appear to be clusters often cannot be proven to be anything other than coincidence.

Donna Jordan and Mary Ann Singersen were co-founders of the A.L.S. Family Charitable Foundation in Buzzards Bay. Ms. Jordan’s brother, Clifford Jordan Jr., fell ill and died in his 30s, after living and working less than a mile from the plating factory.

Ten years after his death, her pain remains intense.

“I can’t believe they’re worried about a casino,” Ms. Jordan said. “We’re not messing around with something like a cold or a bug here. Here was a dad who rode his bike 20 miles a day. He didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. And then he couldn’t do anything but wither away.”

There are other stories, Ms. Jordan said, like the owner of a three-family home in the square who died of A.L.S. “Then someone else moved in, and they died from A.L.S.”

“We’ve been screaming about this for years,” Ms. Singersen added. “But for whatever reason, it keeps getting swept under the rug.”

Rick Arrowood, president of the state chapter of the national A.L.S. Association, said few officials had any idea there were so many cases in Middleborough before advocates brought the crisis to the state’s attention.

“What else didn’t they know?” Mr. Arrowood asked. “Unfortunately, it’s all an unknown. We can’t urge people to take steps to avoid something because we don’t know what that unknown is.”

Suzanne Dube lost a cousin to A.L.S. in 2000, after he worked much for of his life as an accountant in Everett Square. In August, an uncle who was a mechanic in the same area also died.

“Until the registry is in place, we are just shooting in the dark,” Ms. Dube said. “We need it. So history doesn’t repeat itself.”




Wisconsin Iraq vet returns medals to Rumsfeld
By David Solnit, Courage to Resist / Army of None Project.
"I swore an oath to protect the constitution ... not to become a pawn in your New American Century."
September 26, 2007

Madison, Wisconsin--Joshua Gaines, who served a year long tour in Iraq in 2004 to 2005 with the Army Reserve, returned his Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today by mail as dozens of supporters look on.

Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Messages
September 27, 2007

Manhattan: Slain Soldier to Receive Citizenship
A soldier from Washington Heights who was killed while serving with the Army’s Second Infantry Division in Iraq is to receive citizenship posthumously on Monday, immigration officials said in a statement yesterday. The soldier, Cpl. Juan Alcántara, 22, left, was one of four soldiers killed in an explosion as they searched a house in Baquba on Aug. 6. Representative Charles B. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, will speak at a ceremony at the City University Great Hall in Manhattan and present a certificate to Corporal Alcántara’s family. The corporal was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Washington Heights, Mr. Rangel’s office said.
September 14, 2007




Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


USLAW Endorses September 15 Antiwar Demonstration in Washington, DC
USLAW Leadership Urges Labor Turnout
to Demand End to Occupation in Iraq, Hands Off Iraqi Oil

By a referendum ballot of members of the Steering Committee of U.S. Labor Against the War, USLAW is now officially on record endorsing and encouraging participation in the antiwar demonstration called by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in Washington, DC on September 15. The demonstration is timed to coincide with a Congressional vote scheduled in late September on a new Defense Department appropriation that will fund the Iraq War through the end of Bush's term in office.

U.S. Labor Against the War

Stop the Iraq Oil Law

2007 Iraq Labor Solidarity Tour



This is a modern day lynching"--Marcus Jones, father of Mychal Bell


P.O. BOX 1890
FAX: (318) 992-8701


Sign the NAACP's Online Petition to the Governor of Louisiana and Attorney General

TIME: 9:00AM
MONROE RESIDENTS: 318.801.0513
JENA RESIDENTS: 318.419.6441
Send Donations to the Jena 6 Defense Fund:
Jena 6 Defense Committee
P.O. Box 2798
Jena, Louisiana 71342


Young Black males the target of small-town racism
By Jesse Muhammad
Staff Writer
"JENA, La. ( - Marcus Jones, the father of 16-year-old Jena High School football star Mychal Bell, pulls out a box full of letters from countless major colleges and universities in America who are trying to recruit his son. Mr. Jones, with hurt in his voice, says, “He had so much going for him. My son is innocent and they have done him wrong.”

An all-White jury convicted Mr. Bell of two felonies—aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery—and faces up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 31. Five other young Black males are also awaiting their day in court for alleged attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder charges evolving from a school fight: Robert Bailey, 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and Jesse Beard, 15. Together, this group has come to be known as the “Jena 6.”
Updated Jul 22, 2007

My Letter to Judge Mauffray:

P.O. BOX 1890


Dear Judge Mauffray,

I am appalled to learn of the conviction of 16-year-old Jena High School football star Mychal Bell and the arrest of five other young Black men who are awaiting their day in court for alleged attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder charges evolving from a school fight. These young men, Mychal Bell, 16; Robert Bailey, 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and Jesse Beard, 15, who have come to be known as the “Jena 6” have the support of thousands of people around the country who want to see them free and back in school.

Clearly, two different standards are in place in Jena—one standard for white students who go free even though they did, indeed, make a death threat against Black students—the hanging of nooses from a tree that only white students are allowed to sit under—and another set of rules for those that defended themselves against these threats. The nooses were hung after Black students dared to sit in the shade of that “white only” tree!

If the court is sincerely interested in justice, it will drop the charges against all of these six students, reinstate them back into school and insist that the school teach the white students how wrong they were and still are for their racist attitudes and violent threats! It is the duty of the schools to uphold the constitution and the bill of rights. A hanging noose or burning cross is just like a punch in the face or worse so says the Supreme Court! Further, it is an act of vigilantism and has no place in a “democracy”.

The criminal here is white racism, not a few young men involved in a fistfight!
I am a 62-year-old white woman who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Fistfights among teenagers—as you certainly must know yourself—are a right of passage. Please don’t tell me you have never gotten into one. Even I picked a few fights with a few girls outside of school for no good reason. (We soon, in fact, became fast friends.) Children are not just smaller sized adults. They are children and go through this. The fistfight is normal and expected behavior that adults can use to educate children about the negative effect of the use of violence to solve disputes. That is what adults are supposed to do.

Hanging nooses in a tree because you hate Black people is not normal at all! It is a deep sickness that our schools and courts are responsible for unless they educate and act against it. This means you must overturn the conviction of Mychal Bell and drop the cases against Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and Jesse Beard.

It also means you must take responsibility to educate white teachers, administrators, students and their families against racism and order them to refrain from their racist behavior from here on out—and make sure it is carried out!
You are supposed to defend the students who want to share the shade of a leafy green tree not persecute them—that is the real crime that has been committed here!


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War


"They have a new gimmick every year. They're going to take one of their boys, black boys, and put him in the cabinet so he can walk around Washington with a cigar. Fire on one end and fool on the other end. And because his immediate personal problem will have been solved he will be the one to tell our people: 'Look how much progress we're making. I'm in Washington, D.C., I can have tea in the White House. I'm your spokesman, I'm your leader.' While our people are still living in Harlem in the slums. Still receiving the worst form of education.

"But how many sitting here right now feel that they could [laughs] truly identify with a struggle that was designed to eliminate the basic causes that create the conditions that exist? Not very many. They can jive, but when it comes to identifying yourself with a struggle that is not endorsed by the power structure, that is not acceptable, that the ground rules are not laid down by the society in which you live, in which you are struggling against, you can't identify with that, you step back.

"It's easy to become a satellite today without even realizing it. This country can seduce God. Yes, it has that seductive power of economic dollarism. You can cut out colonialism, imperialism and all other kind of ism, but it's hard for you to cut that dollarism. When they drop those dollars on you, you'll fold though."

—MALCOLM X, 1965


Youtube interview with the DuPage County Activists Who Were Arrested for Bannering
You can watch an interview with the two DuPage County antiwar activists
who arrested after bannering over the expressway online at:

Please help spread the word about this interview, and if you haven't
already done so, please contact the DuPage County State's attorney, Joe
Birkett, to demand that the charges against Jeff Zurawski and Sarah
Heartfield be dropped. The contact information for Birkett is:

Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: (630) 407-8151
Please forward this information far and wide.

My Letter:

Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: (630) 407-8151

Dear State's Attorney Birkett,

The news of the arrest of Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Heartfield is getting out far and wide. Their arrest is outrageous! Not only should all charges be dropped against Jeff and Sarah, but a clear directive should be given to Police Departments everywhere that this kind of harassment of those who wish to practice free speech will not be tolerated.

The arrest of Jeff and Sarah was the crime. The display of their message was an act of heroism!

We demand you drop all charges against Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Heartfield NOW!


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War,, San Francisco, California


A little gem:
Michael Moore Faces Off With Stephen Colbert [VIDEO]


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


"We are far from that stage today in our era of the absolute
lie; the complete and totalitarian lie, spread by the
monopolies of press and radio to imprison social
consciousness." December 1936, "In 'Socialist' Norway,"
by Leon Trotsky: “Leon Trotsky in Norway” was transcribed
for the Internet by Per I. Matheson [References from
original translation removed]


Wealth Inequality Charts


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
can be found at:


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at:



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])