Saturday, October 27, 2007




Anyone who can volunteer should try to arrive at the Civic Center by 9am and come to the coalition table near the main stage.

Carole Seligman
On behalf of the October 27th Coalition--San Francisco

The final march route has been selected:

Exit Civic Center to the west via Grove Street.
Turn left on Van Ness Avenue.
Turn right on Market Street.
Die in when the front of the march reaches Market and Octavia.
Turn left on Dolores Street. Enter Dolores Park at 18th Street.

Total Distance is 3 Kilometers. A good workout for a great cause.



Please send these instructions for the die in out to all of your lists
tonight if possible. We think that most people will be eager to participate
but the more people who know about it and the details the better our chance
for success.

The march will be going out Grove St., left on Van Ness St., right on Market
(the die in will begin when the front of the march reaches Octavia and
Market) left on Dolores to the park.


Symbolic "Die-In" During Oct. 27 March to End the War Now in San Francisco.

During the Saturday, October 27 March to End the War Now in San Francisco,
there will be a mass Die-In symbolizing the deaths of the almost 3,900 U.S.
service members and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people.

This will be a permitted action that will last for five minutes. The October
27 Coalition is asking that all marchers who are able participate in the
Die-In, which will simply mean lying down during the time that the action
takes place.

The Die-In is voluntary. There is no risk of arrest for those who
participate. Those that do not wish to participate can move to the side for
the short duration of the Die-In.

The Die-In will begin when the front of the march reaches Octavia St. on
Market. You will hear the security monitors' bullhorn sirens go off three
times. When you hear the bullhorn sirens, please lay down in the street
wherever you are standing. You can watch the people in front of you to see
when to stand back up. The march will not resume until everyone is back on
their feet.

The Die-In will be dramatic and visually powerful. It will help to convey
the human cost of the war in Iraq and help deliver the message around the
world that the people of the United States want the war to end NOW.

If you can volunteer as a monitor for the Die-In, please
email Tom Lacey or show up at the volunteer table in the Civic Center at 9am.



Frank Morales, Two-time winner of Sonoma State University¹s Project
Censored Award for Journalism
Ralph Schoenman & Mya Shone of Pacifica Radio¹s WBAI ³Taking Aim² radio

Tuesday, October 30, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Frank Morales on Police State America & Pentagon Civil Disturbance Planning
Ralph Schoenman & Mya Shone on 9/11 & the Architecture of the Fascist State

Berkeley Unitarian Center, 1606 Bonita Ave. (Corner of Cedar and Bonita)
Berkeley, CA

Frank Morales is an Episcopal priest, writer, musician and activist born and
raised on New York City's Lower East Side. He is a central leader of New
York 9/11 Truth and the foremost investigator on the militarization of the
police and preparations for military rule in America.

Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone are co-producers of Taking Aim, now heard in
seventy-seven countries. Their broadcasts, lectures and writing on the
"treason at the top" that defines the role of U.S. governmental authority in
the events of 9/11 have offered a class analysis that reveals the nature of
capitalist rule today.

A $10.00 donation is requested. The hall is wheelchair accessible.
Contact: 707-552-9992 for more information.
for the Taking Aim program archive spanning
six years.
for more information on NY 911 Truth Movement.


Wed., Nov. 7: The Jena 6 Are Back in Court
Drop All the Charges! Free the Jena 6!

Rally Wed., Nov. 7, 5pm
Federal Courthouse
7th and Mission
"Until the 6 Are Free, Neither Are We"
San Francisco

Contact 415-821-6545 or to get involved or for more information.
Click here for a short eyewitness video from Sept. 20:

Last week, the racist judge that originally presided over Mychal Bell's conviction sent him back to jail for 18 months for "violating probation" from an earlier conviction. The precise violation was his arrest in the Jena 6 incident. While the racist thugs who started this cycle of events continue to walk free, the Jena 6 are still facing long prison sentences.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the growing movement to free the Jena 6 will face an important challenge. On that day, four of the Six -- Theodore Shaw, Robert Bailey, Bryan Purvis, and Mychal Bell -- are expected in court for pre-trial hearings. The ANSWER Coalition is calling on all progressive and anti-racist forces to come together for rallies in front of local courthouses across the country with the demand to free the Jena 6, and drop all the charges. Demonstrations are already confirmed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and New Haven (CT).

The case of the Jena 6 has garnered international attention, and shone a spotlight on the racist nature of this country's criminal "injustice" system. Without activists taking action across the country, however, it is certain that their case -- like so many others -- would never have received the attention that it has. Mychal Bell's original conviction never would have been overturned; instead he would have become just another statistic.

On Sept. 20, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Jena, Louisiana and in other cities around the country to demand the complete freedom of the Jena 6, and the release of Mychal Bell. A week later, after 10 months in prison, he was granted bail and released. But shortly afterwards, the Louisiana judge that originally convicted Bell struck back, ordering him back into custody.

The spirit and determination of Sept. 20 protest in Jena has to be replicated over and over across the country on November 7th. The movement is locked in a tug-of-war with the racist Louisiana justice system. Now we have to dig in our heels and until all charges against the Six are dropped, we have to keep on pulling! All out for November 7th to Free the Jena 6!

For more information email us at




1) Bush to Warn Cuba on Plan for Transition
October 24, 2007

2) State Department Use of Contractors Leaps in 4 Years
October 24, 2007

3) To Be a Journalist in Iraq
October 24, 2007

4) Ill-Equipped Soldiers Opt for "Search and Avoid"
Inter Press Service
By Dahr Jamail

5) Another $200 Billion
October 25, 2007

6) U.S. Levels Sanctions Against Iran Military Unit
October 25, 2007

7) Under Siege, Blackwater Takes On Air of Bunker
October 25, 2007

8) Workers at 4 Plants Back Chrysler Pact
October 25, 2007

9) Profits Higher at Military Contractors
October 25, 2007

10) Science courses nearly extinct in elementary grades, study finds
Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2007

11) A Catastrophe Foretold
Op-Ed Columnist
October 26, 2007

12) Lone Bidder Buys Strands of Che’s Hair at U.S. Auction
October 26, 2007

13) Georgia Supreme Court Frees Man in Sex Case
October 26, 2007

14) Dead Student Had Infection, Officials Say
October 26, 2007

15) High-Ranking Jail Officer Is Convicted of Conspiracy in Beating
October 26, 2007

16) U.A.W. Shifts Its Attention to Ford
October 27, 2007

17) Glare of Fires Pulls Migrants From Shadows
October 27, 2007

18) 1944 Conviction of Black G.I.’s Is Ruled Flawed
October 27, 2007


1) Bush to Warn Cuba on Plan for Transition
October 24, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 — President Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.

As described by an official in a background briefing to reporters on Tuesday evening, Mr. Bush’s remarks will amount to the most detailed response — mainly an unbending one — to the political changes that began in Cuba more than a year ago, when Fidel Castro fell ill and handed power to his brother Raúl.

The speech, scheduled to be given at the State Department before invited Cuban dissidents, will introduce the relatives of four Cuban prisoners being held for political crimes. A senior administration official said the president wanted to “put a human face,” on Cuba’s “assault on freedom.”

In effect, the speech will be a call for Cubans to continue to resist, a particularly strong line coming from an American president. He is expected to say to the Cuban military and police, “There is a place for you in a new Cuba.”

The official said Mr. Bush would make the case that for dissidents and others pursuing democracy in Cuba, little has changed at all, and that the country has suffered economically as well as in other ways as a result of the Castro rule.

He will say that while much of the rest of Latin America has moved from dictatorship to democracy, Cuba continues to use repression and terror to control its people. And, the administration official said, Mr. Bush will direct another part of his speech to the Cuban people, telling them they “have the power to shape their destiny and bring about change.”

The administration official said Mr. Bush was expected to tell Cuban viewers that “soon they will have to make a choice between freedom and the force used by a dying regime.”

Some of the sharpest parts of the speech, however, will be aimed directly at Raúl Castro. Mr. Bush is expected to make clear that the United States will oppose an old system controlled by new faces. The senior administration official said that nothing in Raúl Castro’s past gives Washington reason to expect democratic reforms soon. And he said the United States would uphold its tough economic policies against the island.

Mr. Bush would hold out the possibility of incentives for change, if Cuba demonstrated an openness to such exchanges, the official said. Those steps might include expanding cultural and information exchanges with Cuba and allowing religious organizations and other nonprofits to send computers to Cuba and to award scholarships.

However, he is expected to reiterate the administration’s long-standing demands for free and transparent elections, and the release of political prisoners.

John Kavulich, senior policy adviser at the U.S.-Cuba Trade andEconomic Council, said those demands would likely be non-starters for Cuba. He said the technology and educational opportunities Mr. Bush intends to offer are being provided to Cuba by Venezuela and China.

He suggested that the real constituency for Mr. Bush’s speech was the politically-powerful exile community in Miami.

Phil Peters, an expert on Cuba at the non-partisan Lexington Institute, said he saw Mr. Bush’s speech as an attempt to reorient a policy that had fallen behind the times. American policy, he said, had been centered around the idea that the Communist government would fall once Mr. Castro left power, and that Mr. Castro, 81, would be forced out of power only by death. Instead, Mr. Peters said, Raúl Castro’s rise caught the administration off guard.

President Bush has remained largely silent, Mr. Peters said, while Raúl Castro consolidated his control over Cuban institutions by establishing his own relationships with world leaders, and opening unprecedented dialogue with the Cuban people about their visions for their own country. Meanwhile, all the doomsday scenarios predicted for Cuba once Fidel Castro left power — a violent uprising by dissidents and a huge exodus of Cuban refugees — never materialized.

“The administration realized they had missed the boat,” Mr. Peters said. “Succession has already happened. They can no longer have a policy that keeps them waiting for Castro to die when the rest of the world has moved on.”


2) State Department Use of Contractors Leaps in 4 Years
October 24, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — Over the past four years, the amount of money the State Department pays to private security and law enforcement contractors has soared to nearly $4 billion a year from $1 billion, administration officials said Tuesday, but they said that the department had added few new officials to oversee the contracts.

It was the first time that the administration had outlined the ballooning scope of the contracts, and it provided a new indication of how the State Department’s efforts to monitor private companies had not kept pace. Auditors and outside exerts say the results have been vast cost overruns, poor contract performance and, in some cases, violence that has so far gone unpunished.

A vast majority of the money goes to companies like DynCorp International and Blackwater USA to protect diplomats overseas, train foreign police forces and assist in drug eradication programs. There are only 17 contract compliance officers at the State Department’s management bureau overseeing spending of the billions of dollars on these programs, officials said.

Two new reports have delivered harsh judgments about the State Department’s handling of the contracts, including the protective services contract that employs Blackwater guards whose involvement in a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad has raised questions about their role in guarding American diplomats in Iraq.

In a report made public on Tuesday, a review panel found that there were too few American officials in Iraq to enforce the rules that apply to Blackwater and other security contractors. It also found that the conduct of the contractors had undermined the broader mission of ending the insurgency and establishing a democratic government in Iraq.

Ms. Rice approved a number of the review panel’s recommendations intended to strengthen oversight of the security contractors, including a revision of the rules for the use of deadly force to bring them more in line with the military’s rules of engagement, and creation of review panels to investigate every incident involving the injury or killing of a civilian. The panels could refer possible instances of wrongdoing to the Justice Department. The contractors would also undergo more rigorous training in Iraqi culture and language.

The other report was an audit of the State Department’s oversight of DynCorp, released Tuesday, which found that records tracking hundreds of millions of dollars paid to the company were in “disarray.”

Interviews with administration officials, auditors and outside experts show that the use of contractors has grown far beyond what department officials imagined when they first outsourced critical security functions in 1994 and hired private security guards to protect American diplomats in Haiti, which was thrown into turmoil by civil strife.

Today, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the small State Department office that oversees the private security contractors in Iraq and elsewhere, is overwhelmed by its responsibilities to supervise the contractors, according to former employees, members of Congress and outside experts. They say the office has grown too reliant on, and too close to, the 1,200 private soldiers who now guard American officials overseas.

“They simply didn’t have enough eyes and ears watching what was going on,” said Peter W. Singer, an expert on security contactors at the Brookings Institution. “Secondly, they seemed to show no interest in using the sanctions they had.”

Another State Department office, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, has issued more than $2.2 billion in contracts for police training and drug eradication in Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America and elsewhere, according to State Department records. Ninety-four percent of that money has gone to DynCorp.

State Department officials say they have tried to increase competition, but few companies are able to operate in war zones. “The lack of competition does concern us a great deal,” said a senior State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We want as many companies as possible.”

State Department contracting officials complain that they do not have nearly enough people to properly oversee the more than 2,500 contractors now under their informal command around the world. And a proposal to charge contractors a fee to pay for additional government compliance officers has stalled in the State Department bureaucracy.

The ballooning budget for outside contracts at the State Department is emblematic of a broader trend, contracting experts say.

The Bush administration has doubled the amount of government money going to all types of contractors to $400 billion, creating a new and thriving class of post-9/11 corporations carrying out delicate work for the government. But the number of government employees issuing, managing and auditing contracts has barely grown.

“That’s a criticism that’s true of not just State but of almost every agency,” said Jody Freeman, an expert on administrative law at Harvard Law School.

On the eve of the 1994 American invasion of Haiti, the State Department’s law enforcement bureau received an urgent request. The department needed 45 American police officers to help secure the nation.

Officials in the small bureau contacted DynCorp, a Texas aviation services company with a $30 million bureau contract to operate counternarcotics flights in Latin America. Impressed with its aviation work, a selection committee awarded DynCorp a small contract.

State Department officials viewed it as an interim measure. DynCorp viewed it as an opportunity. “We always saw it as a growth area because of the conflicts in the world,” said Steve Cannon, a former DynCorp executive.

Later that year, DynCorp won a contract from the diplomatic security office to guard American diplomats in Haiti. Over the next several years, the two small State Department offices issued more than $250 million in police training and diplomatic security contracts to DynCorp for work in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo.

After the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan, contracts grew again, eventually bringing the company $400 million a year. The law enforcement office had DynCorp dispatch dozens, then hundreds, of police trainers to Afghanistan. The diplomatic security office had DynCorp send employees to guard the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

Former State Department officials and Afghan officials said the DynCorp guards were far too aggressive in their tactics, and their conduct alienated Afghan and European officials, as well as Afghan citizens. Gregory Lagana, a DynCorp spokesman, said the company agreed there was a problem and replaced the guards. “The demeanor, the swagger, was wrong,” he said. “We put a stop to that.”

State Department officials said DynCorp had performed well over all, and won most contracts through competitive bidding.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq opened new opportunities in the burgeoning world of government security. Blackwater got a toehold with a $27 million no-bid contract to guard L. Paul Bremer III, the administrator of the American occupation in Baghdad. A year later, the State Department expanded that contract to $100 million. Blackwater now employs 845 of the more than 1,100 private security contractors at work in Iraq and holds a contract worth $1.2 billion.

Assistant Secretary of State Richard J. Griffin, who oversees the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, told Congress this month that his office had 36 agents overseeing the guards.

Congressional investigators say the security bureau has sought to minimize episodes like the shootings of civilians.

“We are all better off getting this case — and any similar cases — behind us quickly,” one State Department security official in Iraq wrote to another, after Blackwater guards killed a father of six in Hilla in 2005, according to an internal State Department memo turned over to Congress. He recommended paying the man’s family $5,000.

The State Department took no action against Blackwater for the killing. Blackwater declined to comment for this article. The company has denied any wrongdoing and said that its techniques have resulted in no diplomats, visiting members of Congress or other American dignitaries being killed or seriously hurt in thousands of escort missions since 2005. Twenty-seven Blackwater employees have died in Iraq.

DynCorp’s work and the department’s oversight of the company have been questioned also. In interviews in Iraq and Afghanistan, local police officials said DynCorp’s trainers were costly and in some cases poorly qualified. The trainers are mostly retired civilian police officers from the United States who are paid up to $134,000 in Iraq and $118,000 in Afghanistan for a year of service.

State Department and DynCorp officials said all of the trainers were carefully screened and well qualified. Department officials also said they had added some two dozen staffers to oversee DynCorp over the past year.

American military officials in Iraq and Afghanistan said the quality of trainers was mixed as well. Jonathan Shiroma, a captain in the California National Guard who worked with DynCorp trainers in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, said some were “outstanding,” while others preferred to remain on base.

DynCorp and Blackwater, meanwhile, continue to win contracts.

The State Department has said it will continue to rely on contractors because, for now at least, it has no choice. It cannot quickly hire the bodyguards and trainers it would need to replace the contractors, and the military does not have the trained personnel to take over the job.

John M. Broder reported from Washington, and David Rohde from Washington, Baghdad and Kabul, Afghanistan. Paul von Zielbauer contributed reporting from Baghdad.


3) To Be a Journalist in Iraq
October 24, 2007

The International Women’s Media Foundation awarded its “courage in journalism awards” yesterday to women who risk their lives covering the news. One award was given to six Iraqi women who work in the McClatchy Newspapers bureau in Baghdad, a job so dangerous that they cannot take the chance of being photographed, not even in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue.

Speaking for the six, Sahar Issa had a powerful message that we wanted to share with our readers:

“To be a journalist in violence-ridden Iraq today, ladies and gentlemen, is not a matter lightly undertaken. Every path is strewn with danger, every checkpoint, every question a direct threat.

“Every interview we conduct may be our last. So much is happening in Iraq. So much that is questionable. So much that we, as journalists, try to fathom and portray to the people who care to know.

“In every society there is good and bad. Laws regulate the conduct of the society. My country is now lawless. Innocent blood is shed every day, seemingly without purpose. Hundreds of thousands have been killed for seemingly no reason. It is our responsibility to do our utmost to acquire the answers, to dig them up with our bare hands if we must.

“But that knowledge comes at a dear price, for since the war started, four and half years ago, an average of about one reporter and media assistant killed every week is something we have to live with.

“We live double lives. None of our friends or relatives know what we do. My children must lie about my profession. They cannot under any circumstance boast of my accomplishments, and neither can I. Every morning, as I leave my home, I look back with a heavy heart, for I may not see it again — today may be the day that the eyes of an enemy will see me for what I am, a journalist, rather than the appropriately bewildered elderly lady who goes to look after ailing parents, across the river every day. Not for a moment can I let down my guard.

“I smile as I give my children hugs and send them off to school; it’s only after they turn their backs to me that my eyes fill to overflowing with the knowledge that they are just as much at risk as I am.

“So why continue? Why not put down my proverbial pen and sit back? It’s because I’m tired of being branded a terrorist: tired that a human life lost in my county is no loss at all. This is not the future I envision for my children. They are not terrorists, and their lives are not valueless. I have pledged my life — and much, much more, in an effort to open a window through which the good people in the international community may look in and see us for what we are, ordinary human beings with ordinary aspirations, and not what we have been portrayed to be.

“Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to reach out. Help us to build bridges of understanding and acceptance. Even though the war has cast a dark shadow upon your nation and mine — it is never too late.”


4) Ill-Equipped Soldiers Opt for "Search and Avoid"
Inter Press Service
By Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail's new book, /Beyond the Green Zone/ is NOW AVAILABLE!
"International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former
foreign desk chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah's Men/
"Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really
happening in Iraq." --Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The
Independent; author of /The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq/
Order /Beyond the Green Zone/ today!

WATERTOWN, New York, Oct 24 (IPS) - Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here say that morale among U.S. soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed "search and avoid" missions.

Phil Aliff is an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, both west of Baghdad.

"Morale was incredibly low," said Aliff, adding that he joined the military because he was raised in a poor family by a single mother and had few other prospects. "Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan."

According to Aliff, their mission was to help the Iraqi Army "stand up" in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad, but in fact his platoon was doing all the fighting without support from the Iraqis they were supposedly preparing to take control of the security situation.

"I never heard of an Iraqi unit that was able to operate on their own," said Aliff, who is now a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). "The only reason we were replaced by an Iraqi Army unit was for publicity."

Aliff said he participated in roughly 300 patrols. "We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralised, so we decided the only way we wouldn't be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time."

"So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine," he said, adding, "All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command."

Aliff, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), refused to return to Iraq with his unit, which arrived in Kirkuk two weeks ago. "They've already lost a guy, and they are now fostering the sectarian violence by arming the Sunnis while supporting the Shia politically ... classic divide and conquer."

Aliff told IPS he is set to be discharged by the military next month because they claim his PTSD "is untreatable by their doctors".

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking treatment for PTSD increased nearly 70 percent in the 12 months ending on Jun. 30.

The nearly 50,000 VA-documented PTSD cases greatly exceed the 30,000 military personnel that the Pentagon officially classifies as wounded in both occupations.

VA records show that mental health has become the second-largest area of illness for which veterans of the ongoing occupations are seeking treatment at VA hospitals and clinics. The total number of mental health cases among war veterans increased by 58 percent; from 63,767 on Jun. 30, 2006, to 100,580 on Jun. 30, 2007, according to the VA.

Other active duty Iraq veterans tell similar stories of disobeying orders so as not to be attacked so frequently.

"We'd go to the end of our patrol route and set up on top of a bridge and use it as an over-watch position," Eli Wright, also an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division, told IPS. "We would just sit with our binoculars and observe rather than sweep. We'd call in radio checks every hour and say we were doing sweeps."

Wright added, "It was a common tactic, a lot of people did that. We'd just hang out, listen to music, smoke cigarettes, and pretend."

The 26-year-old medic complained that his unit did not have any armoured Humvees during his time in Iraq, where he was stationed in Ramadi, capital of the volatile Al Anbar province.

"We put sandbags on the floors of our vehicles, which had canvas doors," said Wright, who was in Iraq from September 2003 until September 2004. "By the end of our tour, we were bolting any metal we could find to our Humvees. Everyone was doing this, and we didn't get armoured Humvees in country until after we left."

Other veterans, like 25-year-old Nathan Lewis, who was in Iraq for the invasion of March 2003 until June of that year while serving in the 214th field artillery brigade, complained of lack of training for what they were ordered to do, in addition to not having armoured Humvees for their travels.

"We never got training for a lot of the work we did," he explained. "We had a white phosphorous mortar round that cooked off in the back of one of our trucks, because we loaded that with some other ammo, and we weren't trained how to do it the right way." The "search and avoid" missions appear to have been commonplace around much of Iraq for years now.

Geoff Millard served nine years in the New York Army National Guard, and was in Iraq from October 2004 until October 2005 working for a general at a Tactical Operation Centre.

Millard, also a member of IVAW, said that part of his duties included reporting "significant actions", or SIGACTS, which is how the U.S. military describes an attack on their forces.

"We had units that never called in SIGACTS," Millard, who monitored highly volatile areas like Baquba, Tikrit and Samarra, told IPS. "When I was there two years ago, there were at least five companies that never had SIGACTS. I think 'search and avoids' have been going on there for a long time."

Millard told IPS "search and avoid" missions continue today across Iraq.

"One of my buddies is in Baghdad right now and we email all the time," he explained, "He just told me that nearly each day they pull into a parking lot, drink soda, and shoot at the cans. They pay Iraqi kids to bring them things and spread the word that they are not doing anything and to please just leave them alone."


5) Another $200 Billion
October 25, 2007

President Bush waited until he had vetoed a relatively inexpensive children’s health insurance bill before asking for tens of billions of dollars more for his misadventure in Iraq. The cynicism of that maneuver is only slightly less shameful than the president’s distorted priorities. Despite a pretense of fiscal prudence, Mr. Bush keeps throwing money at his war, regardless of the cost in blood, treasure or children’s health care.

Mr. Bush is threatening to veto most of the 12 domestic spending bills now before Congress because Democrats want to provide $22 billion more than the $933 billion he has requested. His argument? Something about the president’s responsibility to rein in lawmakers’ “temptation to overspend.”

This from a leader who turns federal surpluses into deficits, believes that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars can be financed on a separate set of books with borrowed money, and keeps having to go back to Congress for “emergency funding” because he cannot or will not tell the truth about what it is costing to fight these wars.

Mr. Bush’s latest emergency request is for $46 billion. That would bring the 2008 price tag for Iraq and Afghanistan to $196.4 billion. Starting at Sept. 11, 2001, war-fighting expenses total a staggering $800 billion or more. The nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments says that by the end of the year spending on Iraq will probably surpass that on the Vietnam War.

Mr. Bush has said most of the new money would go for “day-to-day” military operations and “basic needs” like bullets, body armor and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, which are designed to withstand bomb attacks, a rising threat to American forces in Iraq. The troops need safer vehicles and better armor, but it is beyond our ken why Mr. Bush could not cover this in his original budget submission, unless he wanted to confuse the public and limit Congressional oversight.

And there is no end in sight. Mr. Bush clearly plans to keep fighting this pointless war until his last day in office. The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told The Times that he will press Congress to sustain current military spending levels even after the Iraq war ends so the Pentagon can repair and replace worn-out weapons and rebuild ground forces.

The Pentagon will certainly need help recovering, but the country cannot keep signing blank checks. The next president, and Congress, will finally have to impose some discipline, starting with an honest review of what is needed to keep America safe, not just enrich military contractors and their lobbyists.

Democrats have failed repeatedly to end the Iraq war or to substantially change its course. Now they face another test. Mr. Bush will try to ram his spending request through Congress before Christmas, using the impending holiday to create a false sense of urgency. They must resist that, and try again to use their power of the purse to force the president to begin serious planning for a swift and orderly exit from Iraq. They cannot have it both ways — opposing the war and enabling Mr. Bush to keep it going full speed and full cost ahead.

If the Republicans block that, then the Democrats must at least insist on the fiscal prudence that Mr. Bush and his party claim to believe in so fervently. Representative David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is already calling for a war tax. That, at least, would be a more honest and responsible way to ensure that all Americans share the financial burden of this war.


6) U.S. Levels Sanctions Against Iran Military Unit
October 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 — The Bush administration announced a long-debated policy of new sanctions against Iran today, accusing the elite Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting terrorism.

The administration also accused the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps, a part of Iran’s military, of proliferating weapons of mass destruction. While the United States has long labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the decision to single out the Guard reflects increased frustration in the administration with the slow pace of diplomatic negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The designations put into play unilateral sanctions intended to impede the Revolutionary Guard and those who do business with it. This is the first time that the United States has taken such steps against the armed forces of any sovereign government.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced the new sanctions at a State Department news conference.

Ms. Rice said the measures were intended “to confront the threatening behavior of the Iranians.” As the Bush administration has many times before, the secretary drew a distinction between the Iran government and the country’s people. “We in the United States have no conflict with you,” she said.

While Washington is open to a diplomatic solution, Ms. Rice said, “Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon, building dangerous ballistic missiles, supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and denying the existence of a fellow member of the United Nations, threatening to wipe Israel off the map.”

Mr. Paulson said that, in dealing with Iran, “it is nearly impossible to know one’s customer and be assured that one is not unwittingly facilitating the regime’s reckless behavior and conduct.”

“It is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran you are doing business” with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Mr. Paulson said.

The announcement also intensifies the strained relations between the two countries. The administration has accused Revolutionary Guard members of providing weaponry and explosive devices used by Shiite militias against American troops in Iraq — a charge that Tehran has denied.

In August, White House officials said they intended to declare the entire Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization, but reports of such a move so raised the hackles of America’s European allies and some officials in the State and Treasury Departments that the administration put those plans on hold while the internal debate continued. The announcement today reflects a compromise.

Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent Democrat from Connecticut, and Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, immediately applauded the move. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps “has long had blood on its hands, most recently in supporting terrorist actions against our troops in Iraq,” they said in a joint statement.

“Far from taking us closer to war with Iran, as some have irresponsibly suggested, these kinds of targeted sanctions represent our best chance to influence Iran’s action so as to be able to avoid military action,” they said.

In the internal debate over American policy toward Iran, Ms. Rice has been struggling for more than a year to hold together a fragile coalition of world powers that have been trying to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions through what was supposed to be a gradually escalating series of United Nations sanctions. But after two rounds of sanctions, Russia and Chinahave balked at escalation to another round.

Last week Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, caused consternation in the administration when he visited Tehran and said publicly that there was no need for military strikes. The guard and its military wing are identified as a power base for Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under his administration, American officials said, the Guard has moved increasingly into commercial operations, earning profits and extending its influence in Iran in areas involving big government contracts, including building airports and other infrastructure, producing oil and providing cellphones.

The immediate legal consequence of designating the Quds unit as a terrorist organization will make it unlawful for anyone subject to United States jurisdiction to knowingly provide material support or resources to it, according to the State Department. Any United States financial institution that becomes aware that it possesses, or has control over, funds of a foreign terrorist organization would have to turn them over to the Treasury Department.

Because Iran has done little business with the United States in more than two decades, the larger point of the designation would be to heighten the political and psychological pressure on Iran, administration officials said, by using the designation to persuade foreign governments and financial institutions to cut ties with Iranian businesses and individuals.

David Stout contributed reporting.


7) Under Siege, Blackwater Takes On Air of Bunker
October 25, 2007

BAGHDAD, Oct. 24 — The Blackwater USA compound here is a fortress within a fortress. Surrounded by a 25-foot-high wall of concrete topped by a chain-link fence and razor wire, the compound sits deep inside the heavily defended Green Zone, its two points of entry guarded by Colombian Army veterans carrying shotguns and automatic rifles.

In the mazelike interior, Blackwater employees live in trailers stacked one on top of the other in surroundings that one employee likens to a “minimum-security prison.”

Since Sept. 16, when Blackwater guards opened fire in a crowded Baghdad square, the compound has begun to feel more like a prison, too. On that day, employees of Blackwater, a private security firm hired to protect American diplomats, responded to what they called a threat and killed as many as 17 people and wounded 24.

Richard J. Griffin, the State Department official who oversaw Blackwater USA and other private security contractors in Iraq, resigned Wednesday.

For weeks, not a word has emerged publicly from the compound, as the F.B.I., the American military and the Iraqi government investigate the Sept. 16 and earlier Blackwater shootings in Iraq.

But in recent days, that secretive Blackwater world has begun to fray under so much scrutiny, said four current and two former Blackwater employees. They described a grating sense among many of Blackwater guards, especially those with years of experience, that the killings on Sept. 16 were unjustified.

“Some guys are thinking that it was not a good shoot, that it was not warranted,” said one Blackwater contractor, using military jargon for an episode that results in a wrongful death. “I don’t think there was criminal intent involved. I just think it was the application of the use of deadly force gone horribly wrong.”

He added, “To mitigate one threat, 17 people had to die?”

Blackwater employees are aware of the conclusions of Iraqi investigators: that Blackwater never received fire and that any threat was illusory. Like the company in its official statements, the guards appear to believe that three armored Blackwater vehicles received several rounds of gunfire somewhere in the city that day, and that this might help explain why the guards fired into Nisour Square.

Still, a growing number of Blackwater guards here believe that the federal investigation may result in criminal charges against some of the four to six members of the team believed to have fired weapons on Sept. 16. Most of the men who fired are former Marine infantrymen still in their 20s, said one Blackwater contractor with a military background.

In a series of detailed interviews, given despite a company policy that forbids contractors to speak openly, the Blackwater employees provided the first glimpse into how the deaths on Sept. 16 and in prior episodes were being recounted and understood by the armed men who protect American officials on Baghdad’s streets each day.

Reporters for The New York Times spoke directly with four of the current and former employees; two others communicated with The Times in discussions and e-mail messages passed through intermediaries.

In the weeks since the shootings, Blackwater has been flooded with federal agents and investigators. A new group of State Department security agents have flown in to help supervise each Blackwater convoy. F.B.I. agents are interviewing guards involved in the Sept. 16 episode. Blackwater lawyers also arrived at the camp about two weeks ago, contractors here said, to monitor those interviews.

“I’m just trying to hold on,” said one member of the Blackwater convoy that was involved in the Sept. 16 killings, in an e-mail message. “They’ve been trying to bring in so many State agents, it’s getting full over here.”

Inside the Blackwater camp, a crisp American flag is carefully raised and lowered each day in Baghdad’s dusty heat. In the closely stacked gray metal trailers that serve as living quarters, employees have 8-by-12-foot rooms and shared bathrooms. Recreation time is limited, and the employees eat among themselves. Many of the younger guards sunbathe on their trailer roofs — a few regularly did so in the nude, until female helicopter pilots flew overhead, saw them and complained.

According to Blackwater employees, the leader of the convoy on Nisour Square was a man known as Hoss. He and two or three other members of the team have returned to the United States because their tours of duty were up or their contracts with the company had ended, one employee here said. In Hoss’s case, the trip home was to remove shrapnel from a wound he received before the Sept. 16 shootings.

Blackwater workers rarely interact with Iraqis in Baghdad, and regulations forbid them to travel outside the Green Zone when they are not on well-armed missions to protect State Department officials. Most convoys through the city do not carry Iraqi translators, leaving the young guards, former military men, to judge whether a gesture, a foreign phrase or a glance suggests a threat strong enough to justify a violent response.

Even in the Blackwater compound, no definitive account has emerged of how and why the Sept. 16 shootings occurred, company employees said. For its part, Blackwater has said that its guards were responding to an insurgent attack. But in furtive discussions over recent weeks, certain details about the episode, they said, have gained currency among many Blackwater workers, many of whom would like to believe that their colleagues acted appropriately.

Those workers said, for example, that Blackwater guards who fired at Iraqis in Nisour Square described how an Iraqi driver had pulled up his car well after the Blackwater convoy had arrived and warned traffic to stay back. The encroaching car, the workers said, caused their colleagues to feel threatened and initiate machine-gun fire. They also said that friction between Blackwater convoys and groups of armed Iraqi police in the days before the shooting had created a mutual distrust, and that the police officers, perhaps as a result of earlier disputes, fired at the Blackwater convoy. “The Iraqi police were testing these guys at various intersections,” said one former Blackwater guard who has spoken with men on the convoy at Nisour Square.

Iraqi police at the intersection have said they were not armed that day, and none of the dozens of Iraqi witnesses interviewed by Iraqi investigators and reporters for The New York Times said they saw anyone firing at the Blackwater convoy or even brandishing a weapon.

But in a measure of the gulf between the narratives that have taken hold in the Blackwater compound and on the streets of Baghdad, the former guard and a current employee said that a consistent view had developed within the compound: that Blackwater was fired upon by Iraqis with AK-47s who fled the scene after Blackwater returned an overwhelming amount of fire.

“How long does it take for a dead terrorist to become a dead civilian?” a Blackwater employee said. “As long as it takes to remove an AK-47 from the body,” suggesting that accomplices might have removed weapons as they fled.

The Blackwater employees said that talk about the Sept. 16 shootings had also focused on a heated dispute between members of the team in the square, pitting the men pouring gunfire into Iraqi vehicles against other Blackwater guards who were imploring them to stop.

“There was turmoil in the team, where half the guys were saying, ‘Don’t shoot,’” said a military veteran who spoke to a member of the Blackwater team on the convoy.

But that dispute, the guards said, like the uncertainty in the compound, is likely to remain unresolved until federal investigators finally report their conclusions on what really happened that day on Nisour Square.


8) Workers at 4 Plants Back Chrysler Pact
October 25, 2007

DETROIT, Oct. 24 — The tentative agreement between Chrysler and the United Automobile Workers union appears headed for approval, after four big union locals in the Detroit area voted strongly in favor of the contract tonight.

The likely approval of the Chrysler contract is a victory for union leaders, who put on a last-minute lobbying push after the agreement appeared to be in jeopardy last weekend.

The four Detroit area factories — two assembly and two stamping plants in Warren and Sterling Heights, Mich. — each approved the contract tonight by wide margins. Together, the plants have more than 9,000 workers.

The Sterling Heights assembly plant voted in favor of the agreement even though the local union president, Bill Parker, who headed the U.A.W. bargaining team at Chrysler, opposed the contract. Mr. Parker declined comment tonight.

The latest votes mean the contract is passing by 56 percent, with about 4,000 more votes in favor than those opposed, according to a person with direct access to vote totals. That yes vote, though enough to pass, is far smaller than U.A.W. contracts normally would receive.

There seems to be enough support to offset any possible rejection at the last remaining factory to vote on the contract, the Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill., which has about 3,444 workers. The plant is set to vote Friday.

The contract only needs a simple majority of those voting to pass. There are about 45,000 U.A.W. members at Chrysler.

The U.A.W. and Chrysler reached the tentative agreement on Oct. 10, after a six-hour strike. Union leaders approved it on Oct. 15, clearing the way for a vote by union members, despite opposition from a number of local union officials including Mr. Parker.

The Chrysler contract follows a similar agreement approved by workers at General Motors earlier this month.

Defeats are rare for U.A.W. contracts at Detroit auto companies. The last one came in 1982, when Chrysler workers turned down a contract that did not restore the pay cuts they granted the company when it was close to bankruptcy in 1979.

Once voting is complete, the union will step up the pace of talks at Ford Motor, the final company that must reach a deal with the U.A.W. Negotiations have continued there during the Chrysler vote, which has been tumultuous.

Five factories defeated the contract in the first few days of voting, raising doubts about its chances for approval. The opposition stemmed primarily over concerns that the contract did not give as many promises of future work as the agreement at G.M.

That left the future of several Chrysler plants in doubt, including St. Louis South plant in Fenton, Mo., which makes minivans. That plant turned down the contract, as did the St. Louis North plant and assembly plants in Newark, Del., and Detroit.

Those defeats prompted leaders to step up their efforts. Both General Holiefield, the union’s vice president in charge of Chrysler bargaining, and Ron Gettelfinger, the U.A.W.’s president, visited meetings held by individual locals, with Mr. Holiefield arguing strongly for the contract.

On Wednesday, “We probably had the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” said Bob Stuglin, president of Local 1264, which represents 2,000 workers at the Sterling Heights stamping plant.

“General Holiefield and his staff turned the tide,” Mr. Stuglin said.

John Kronenberg, who has spent 16 years at Chrysler’s plant in Sterling Heights, was still undecided before the vote, however.

“I’m worried because I’m not sure if they go back and negotiate they can get us a better contract,” Mr. Kronenberg said on Tuesday.

He wondered whether bargainers should have held out for a better deal. “Maybe that little strike was just a ploy, to make us think they were out there fighting for us,” he said.

Approval in at Chrysler’s truck plant in Warren came despite the company’s plans to cut one of two shifts at the plant, under a restructuring plan that will eliminate 13,000 jobs in the United States.

“You know it’s not a good contract if you have seven, eight, nine plants voting it down,” said Nina Hodge, a 13-year line worker whose T-shirt said "VOTE" on the front and “NO” on the back.

James Cooper, 43, who inspects vehicles, said he also voted no. “In the past we have supported contracts and then later found out we voted for something that wasn’t in our best interests,” said Mr. Cooper, who has worked at Chrysler for 15 years.

But Charles Xerri, 32, who supported the contract, said he was fearful about actions Chrysler and its new owner, the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, might take if the contract fails. “I’m worried that we won’t have a job at all,” said Mr. Xerri, who has worked at Chrysler for 12 years. “You never know what they could do.”

Added Mr. Xerri: “Now is not the time to fight.”

Nick Bunkley contributed reporting from Warren, Mich., and Mary M. Chapman from Sterling Heights, Mich.


9) Profits Higher at Military Contractors
October 25, 2007

The military contractors Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics posted higher third-quarter profit yesterday and raised their financial forecasts as a result of strong Pentagon spending.

The broadly positive results come a day after Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor, beat Wall Street’s profit expectations and raised its full-year forecast on record Pentagon spending and demand for its jets.

Northrop beat Wall Street’s quarterly profit forecasts and also raised its full-year profit forecast, helped by strong sales at its information technology and shipbuilding units.

Northrop, like its rivals, is concentrating more on information technology and civil projects as a way of hedging the risk of a slowdown in the building of military hardware. The company, based in Los Angeles, made no financial projections for next year.

Its shares rose $2.72, or 3.4 percent, to $82.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.

General Dynamics also posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings and raised its full-year earnings forecast above Wall Street’s expectations based on strong demand for its military vehicles and business jets.

The company, which makes Abrams tanks, Stryker fighting vehicles, and submarines and ships for the United States Navy, was bolstered by a 37 percent jump in sales at its military vehicles unit, which is seeing increased business supplying American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shares of General Dynamics rose $2.90, or 3.3 percent, to $90.

“The military side is turning a bit weak,” said an aerospace analyst, Paul Nisbet, at JSA Research. “If anything there’s less money for missile defense.”


10) Science courses nearly extinct in elementary grades, study finds
Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2007

The third-graders looked puzzled when asked what they liked best about science. No answer.

OK, then, next question: "What is science?" a visitor asked the children in a hallway at Bessie Carmichael Elementary School in San Francisco.

"Science is like art," said Manuel, 7, who let that cryptic response hang in the air as he ducked away.

He might have meant that both can open the heart to beauty. Or maybe he was saying that science, like art, is something students don't get much of these days in elementary school.

If it were the latter, a new survey of 923 Bay Area elementary school teachers would agree.

About 80 percent of those teachers said they spent less than an hour each week teaching science, according to researchers from the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley and from WestEd, an education think tank based in San Francisco.

In contrast, a national study seven years ago found elementary school science instruction averaged more than two hours per week, said Rena Dorph, the lead researcher on the new study.

"It's alarming because it's a very short amount of time per week dedicated to a subject that's considered a core subject in schools," said Dorph, who is director of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Assessment at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Understanding science helps children learn to think and solve problems while questioning the world around them, Dorph said.

There is also evidence that people who go into scientific fields generally learned to love science as children, she said.

And as a practical matter, colleges require applicants to have taken science in high school.

"And how are you going to understand high school science if you haven't had it before fifth grade?" Dorph asked.

Her research team - reviewing responses from more than 80 Bay Area school districts as well as the teachers - made other sobering findings about elementary science instruction in Bay Area schools:

-- About 16 percent of the elementary teachers said they spent no time on science at all. (Most taught at schools that had missed the reading and math benchmarks of No Child Left Behind and were trying to catch up.)

-- Most kindergarten to fifth-grade students typically had science instruction no more than twice a week.

-- Ten times as many teachers said they felt unprepared to teach science (41 percent) than felt unprepared to teach math (4 percent) or reading (4 percent).

-- Fewer than half of Bay Area fifth-graders (47 percent) scored at grade level or above on last spring's California Standards Test in science. (Only fifth-graders are tested in science at the elementary level.)

"The demands of No Child Left Behind have made it almost impossible to devote enough time to science," said Melinda Dart, a fourth-grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Daly City's Jefferson Elementary District.

Dart was not among the anonymous hundreds surveyed by the researchers. But she agrees with the findings.

Dart is planning a field trip to the Exploratorium in December and is preparing her students by teaching them about electricity and magnets. In one lesson, she had them rub balloons with various materials so they would see the effects of positive and negative charges.

But she has had time for only three 30-minute science lessons since the semester began.

"It's very rushed," she said. "In order to develop a scientific way of thinking, the thing you need most is time. And in our test-driven schools today, time for experimenting and exploring is what we have the least of."

In San Francisco, Principal Jeffrey Burgos of Bessie Carmichael Elementary agreed - but said teachers can find ways to be creative beyond the limited time already set aside for science.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you can't get everything into one day," which is about five hours of instructional time, he said.

So you shoehorn it in, sneaking science into reading and math lessons.

Second-grade teacher Bernadette Ison is a master at that.

Her classroom at Bessie Carmichael is filled with children who are learning English and who come from lower-income families - just the kind of challenges that policymakers say is why basic reading and math should trump science and social studies.

"So we integrate science into our literacy," Ison said. "Our reading curriculum is called "Nature Walk," and we have a theme called "Animals."

On Friday, the students will take a nature walk around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. Afterward, they'll write an essay on what they saw and learned, Ison said.

This year, the California Board of Education has purchased new elementary science textbooks and materials that are just now reaching classrooms.

The reviews have been mixed. Some teachers said the materials were clearer than what they replaced, though they covered less ground.

Others said they were overwhelming. One teacher counted 1,199 pages in the teachers' edition science workbooks, as well as flip charts, four large boxes of materials, vocabulary and concept cards, CDs and DVDs.

Perhaps it's no wonder that teachers have little time to teach it all. They barely have time to learn it themselves.

The other day, the textbook company came to the Jefferson Elementary District in Daly City to show teachers how to use all the new stuff, said third-grade teacher Janet Harrison.

The textbook instructors stayed 90 minutes, Harrison said. And then they were gone.

Got science?

Some of a new study's findings about elementary school science instruction in Bay Area schools:

-- 80 percent of teachers say they spend less than an hour each week teaching science.

-- 16 percent of the elementary teachers say they teach no science at all.

-- Ten times as many teachers say they feel unprepared to teach science than feel unprepared to teach math or reading.

-- Fewer than half of Bay Area fifth-graders scored at grade level or above on last spring's California Standards Test in science.

To see the full report, visit

E-mail Nanette Asimov at


11) A Catastrophe Foretold
Op-Ed Columnist
October 26, 2007

“Increased subprime lending has been associated with higher levels of delinquency, foreclosure and, in some cases, abusive lending practices.” So declared Edward M. Gramlich, a Federal Reserve official.

These days a lot of people are saying things like that about subprime loans — mortgages issued to buyers who don’t meet the normal financial criteria for a home loan. But here’s the thing: Mr. Gramlich said those words in May 2004.

And it wasn’t his first warning. In his last book, Mr. Gramlich, who recently died of cancer, revealed that he tried to get Alan Greenspan to increase oversight of subprime lending as early as 2000, but got nowhere.

So why was nothing done to avert the subprime fiasco?

Before I try to answer that question, there are a few things you should know.

First, the situation for both borrowers and investors looks increasingly dire.

A new report from Congress’s Joint Economic Committee predicts that there will be two million foreclosures on subprime mortgages by the end of next year. That’s two million American families facing the humiliation and financial pain of losing their homes.

At the same time, investors who bought assets backed by subprime loans are continuing to suffer severe losses. Everything suggests that there will be many more stories like that of Merrill Lynch, which has just announced an $8.4 billion write-down because of bad loans — $3 billion more than it had announced just a few weeks earlier.

Second, much if not most of the subprime lending that is now going so catastrophically bad took place after it was clear to many of us that there was a serious housing bubble, and after people like Mr. Gramlich had issued public warnings about the subprime situation. As late as 2003, subprime loans accounted for only 8.5 percent of the value of mortgages issued in this country. In 2005 and 2006, the peak years of the housing bubble, subprime was 20 percent of the total — and the delinquency rates on recent subprime loans are much higher than those on older loans.

So, once again, why was nothing done to head off this disaster? The answer is ideology.

In a paper presented just before his death, Mr. Gramlich wrote that “the subprime market was the Wild West. Over half the mortgage loans were made by independent lenders without any federal supervision.” What he didn’t mention was that this was the way the laissez-faire ideologues ruling Washington — a group that very much included Mr. Greenspan — wanted it. They were and are men who believe that government is always the problem, never the solution, that regulation is always a bad thing.

Unfortunately, assertions that unregulated financial markets would take care of themselves have proved as wrong as claims that deregulation would reduce electricity prices.

As Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, put it in a recent op-ed article in The Boston Globe, the surge of subprime lending was a sort of “natural experiment” testing the theories of those who favor radical deregulation of financial markets. And the lessons, as Mr. Frank said, are clear: “To the extent that the system did work, it is because of prudential regulation and oversight. Where it was absent, the result was tragedy.”

In fact, both borrowers and investors got scammed.

I’ve written before about the way investors in securities backed by subprime loans were assured that they were buying AAA assets, only to suddenly find that what they really owned were junk bonds. This shock has produced a crisis of confidence in financial markets, which poses a serious threat to the economy.

But the greater tragedy is the one facing borrowers who were offered what they were told were good deals, only to find themselves in a debt trap.

In his final paper, Mr. Gramlich stressed the extent to which unregulated lending is prone to the “abusive lending practices” he mentioned in his 2004 warning. The fact is that many borrowers are ill-equipped to make judgments about “exotic” loans, like subprime loans that offer a low initial “teaser” rate that suddenly jumps after two years, and that include prepayment penalties preventing the borrowers from undoing their mistakes.

Yet such loans were primarily offered to those least able to evaluate them. “Why are the most risky loan products sold to the least sophisticated borrowers?” Mr. Gramlich asked. “The question answers itself — the least sophisticated borrowers are probably duped into taking these products.” And “the predictable result was carnage.”

Mr. Frank is now trying to push through legislation that extends moderate regulation to the subprime market. Despite the scale of the disaster, he’s facing an uphill fight: money still talks in Washington, and the mortgage industry is a huge source of campaign finance. But maybe the subprime catastrophe will be enough to remind us why financial regulation was introduced in the first place.


12) Lone Bidder Buys Strands of Che’s Hair at U.S. Auction
October 26, 2007

DALLAS, Oct. 25 — The hair itself looked unexceptional, dark with sun-burnished tips, perhaps 100 strands, wrapped in a piece of notebook paper. But when the final gavel fell Thursday in a bizarre auction conducted under high security here, the hair and the sheaf of historical documents that accompanied it sold for $100,000, the minimum bid.

The lock of hair on auction was taken 40 years ago from the corpse of Che Guevara, the famed revolutionary and cultural icon, by one of the men who had tracked him down and, after he was killed, buried him.

The lone bidder was Bill Butler, 61, a Texas bookstore owner and collector of ’60s memorabilia. After making the bid, Mr. Butler told reporters by telephone that Mr. Guevara was “one of the greatest revolutionaries in the 20th century” and that it was “a great feeling” to own the items, which he said he would display in his bookstore.

The lock of hair was trimmed from Mr. Guevara’s body by Gustavo Villoldo, a Cuban-born C.I.A. operative who helped Bolivian troops capture him in 1967. He took the hair from Mr. Guevara’s head shortly before he and some of the soldiers buried him in an unmarked grave.

Mr. Villoldo, now 72 and a Miami resident, said he told few people about the lock until arranging to sell it this year. He said he took the hair out of spite while Mr. Guevara’s body was briefly displayed for photographers and examined by Bolivian doctors before burial.

“I basically took it because the symbol of the revolution was this bearded, long-haired guy coming down the mountain,” Mr. Villoldo said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “To me, I was cutting off the very symbol of the Cuban revolution.”

Mr. Villoldo was not present at the auction. His involvement with the C.I.A. has been corroborated by declassified American government documents.

The house that conducted the auction, Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, in April sold the diaries of Anna Nicole Smith, the celebrity who died of an accidental drug overdose. Mr. Villoldo said he heard of that sale and decided to sell his material as well.

Along with the hair were a map used by the Bolivian military to track down Mr. Guevara in the remote jungle region where he was captured, fingerprints taken from his corpse, grisly photographs of Mr. Guevara and his comrades after their deaths and various other documents.

By selling the lock of hair, Mr. Villoldo said he was closing a chapter in his long effort to end the rule of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Mr. Villoldo took part in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and spent years after that tracking Mr. Guevara, Mr. Castro’s most famous and charismatic associate, around the world.

The hair and the documents were part of Mr. Villoldo’s personal scrapbook, he said, which he would pull out from time to time to relive the old days.

“This is some of the most macabre memorabilia of the history of the cold war that’s ever gone on the auction block,” said Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, an organization at George Washington University that stores and chronicles declassified government documents.

Academics continue to debate the role of the C.I.A. in Mr. Guevara’s death. Not in doubt is that agency operatives aided the Bolivian Army in tracking him and his small band of guerrillas. But the order to kill him appears to have been made by the Bolivian Army brass, and possibly from the president at the time, Gen. René Barrientos Ortuño.

A declassified memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson from a senior adviser, Walt Rostow, dated Oct. 11, 1967, called the decision to kill Mr. Guevara “stupid” but “understandable from a Bolivian standpoint.”

General Barrientos’s son, who teaches math at Miami Dade College and uses the same name as his father, said it was his understanding that his father gave the order for Mr. Guevara’s killing, although he never discussed the issue with his father, who died in 1969. The decision was justified, the son contends.

“There is no basis to admire him,” Mr. Barrientos said of Mr. Guevara. “He destroyed a lot of lives. Those are the facts.”

As for the auction, Mr. Barrientos said he found it surprising that anyone would pay for such memorabilia. “Why anyone would want to buy this kind of stuff, I don’t know,” he said. “I would find better uses for my money.”

But Mr. Kornbluh said the material was historically significant.

“If I had $100,000, I’d buy it,” he said. “It’s not just about the hair. It’s the other documents, intercepts. It all deserves to be in a museum.”

Mr. Butler, the buyer, paid a total of $119,500, including a 19.5 percent buyer’s premium.

There had been widespread speculation that President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, an admirer of Mr. Guevara, planned to bid. The auction house received a call from Caracas recently asking that a copy of the catalog to be sent to Venezuela via overnight mail, but no telephone bid came.

This was not the first time that the auction house had sold off hair, although the price broke all records. Earlier this year, three strands of Abraham Lincoln’s hair sold for $11,095, and a lock of Lincoln’s hair drew a winning bid of $21,510. What was described as a large lock of hair from J.E.B. Stuart, the Confederate general, garnered a winning bid of $44,812.

“I don’t care what other people think,” Mr. Villoldo said of his decision to sell the items. “I have a clean conscience. I’m 72, am getting older, and my kids don’t care about this like I do. I see this as history and I want someone else to take care of this.”

As for what Mr. Villoldo will do with the money, he said he had made no definite plans. A portion of the proceeds, however, may go to make a political point.

Mr. Villoldo said if he could make contact with the widows of the 55 Bolivian soldiers who were killed by Mr. Guevara’s guerrillas, he would use some of the money to help them out.


13) Georgia Supreme Court Frees Man in Sex Case
October 26, 2007

ATLANTA, Oct. 26 — The Georgia Supreme Court today ended the 10-year prison sentence of a man who was convicted in 2003 of having consensual oral sex with another teenager. The court said the harsh sentence violated the Constitution’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In a 4-to-3 ruling, the court’s majority said the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the crime, which the justices said “did not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children.”

The inmate, Genarlow Wilson, who is now 21, was 17 when he was caught on videotape having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a drug- and alcohol-fueled New Year’s Eve party in 2003. He was released this afternoon.

Mr. Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation for the act, a charge which carried a mandatory minimum prison term so harsh it shocked his jury and prompted an international outcry from critics who charged that prosecutors had been overzealous and racially motivated. The law, critics said, was meant to keep child molesters behind bars, not to curb teenage sexual activity.

The year after Mr. Wilson was sentenced, the Georgia General Assembly changed the law to make consensual sex between teens a misdemeanor punishable by no more than a year in prison; but the legislature declined to apply the law to Mr. Wilson’s case retroactively. That decision set up a test of wills between the lawmakers and judges, as Mr. Wilson’s attorney appealed to both camps to set free her client, who had been an honors student and star athlete.

Writing for the majority in Friday’s 48-page opinion, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears noted that changes to the law made after Mr. Wilson’s conviction “represent a seismic shift in the legislature’s view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.

“The severe felony punishment and sex offender registration imposed on Wilson make no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment,” she wrote.

But dissenting judges said the legislature had clearly not intended to make the new law retroactive to Mr. Wilson’s case.

As a result, wrote Justice George Carley in dissenting opinion, the punishment should not be deemed cruel and unusual. He said the majority decision represented an “unprecedented disregard for the General Assembly’s constitutional authority” and wrote that it would open the door for other felony offenders convicted of aggravated child molestation to be “discharged from lawful custody.”

Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, in a written statement, indicated that he would not challenge the high court’s decision.

“I respectfully acknowledge the court’s authority to grant the relief that they have crafted in this case,” Mr. Baker said. “I hope the court’s decision will also put an end to this issue as a matter of contention in the hearts and minds of concerned Georgians and others across the county who have taken such a strong interest in this case.”

John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, called the case “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Georgia in modern times.”

“Each day this young man spent in jail is one day too long,” Mr. Lewis said in a statement. “It was unbelievable for this young man to go through what he went through.”

After spending more than two years behind bars, Mr. Wilson was released from the Al Burrus Correction Training Center in Forsyth.

“The courts can work; the courts do work,” said Brenda J. Bernstein, Mr. Wilson’s lawyer in telephone interview.


14) Dead Student Had Infection, Officials Say
October 26, 2007

New York City health officials said yesterday that a Brooklyn middle school student who died on Oct. 14 had become infected with a virulent, drug-resistant strain of bacteria that is primarily spread in hospitals but that in recent years has surfaced increasingly in schools, gyms and other nonhospital settings.

The health officials, who said they were investigating the circumstances of the case, were unable to confirm whether the student contracted the infection at the school, Intermediate School 211 in Canarsie. The school remained open yesterday, and the officials said that school health officials would make any decision to close it.

The school sent out a letter informing parents that a student had died from the infection, and that the school had been thoroughly cleaned. The letters also said that hand-washing was the best way to prevent infections.

“At this time the health department does not believe that other children are at increased risk for the infection,” the letter said.

At an assembly held at the school yesterday morning, the principal, Buffie Simmons-Peart, announced the student’s death and urged that good hygiene be practiced to prevent the spread of infection.

Neither health officials nor school officials would release the identity of the student. But classmates and neighbors said he was Omar Rivera, a seventh grader. The three-story school in Canarsie serves 770 students who are largely black and poor. It is divided into small learning academies, and students said that Omar attended the academy that focused on cultural arts.

A woman who came to the door of an apartment believed to be the Riveras’ yesterday told a reporter in Spanish, “He was my son and my pain is very great.”

Over the last month, schools in the New York region and in other states across the country have reported cases of students infected with the bacteria, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Scores of schools have canceled events, closed buildings or sanitized them from top to bottom, and sent health warnings to parents by e-mail and letter.

In most cases, the illnesses have been mild and the students, after treatment, recovered. But at least three deaths have been reported, in New Hampshire, Virginia and Mississippi.

Health officials said it was unclear whether such cases were increasing or whether news reports had increased awareness of the infection. This month, a widely publicized federal report said the infection was rampant in hospitals and nursing homes, where a vast majority of cases occur, and might account for more deaths in the United States each year than H.I.V.-AIDS.

New York City health officials said yesterday that nonhospital cases of the infection were usually mild, and often limited to the skin. But the bacteria are highly opportunistic and can enter the bloodstream through incisions and wounds and quickly overwhelm a weakened immune system. The student who died, they said, may for some reason have been more susceptible to a serious form of the infection.

“These things happen rarely and there are other factors that could have contributed to this that we don’t know about,” said Dr. Don Weiss, director of surveillance for the Bureau of Communicable Disease at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is investigating the case.

On its Web site, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that a decision about whether to close a school because of a communicable disease should be made by school officials or by local or state health authorities. But the site advises that “in most cases, it is not necessary to close schools because of an MRSA infection in a student” and that “it is important to note that MRSA transmission can be prevented by simple measures such as hand hygiene and covering infections.”

The bacteria is resistant to penicillin-type medications, but can be treated by other, more powerful antibiotic drugs.

City and state health officials say they have been hampered in their efforts to address the growing concerns about MRSA infections because doctors do not have to report cases of the bacterial infection occurring outside hospitals or nursing homes, as they do with certain types of food poisoning and sexually transmitted diseases. As a result, it is impossible to tell if the number of cases is increasing. But on Wednesday, the Board of Health agreed to consider requiring the reporting of nonhospital cases of staph infections.

In New Jersey, state education officials sent a memo on Monday to the superintendents of the state’s 615 school districts asking them to report any individual MRSA cases to the Education Department. Since then, districts have reported about two dozen cases among students and staff in recent weeks, officials said.

“According to the reports we have received so far, none of the incidents have been life-threatening,” said Kathryn Forsyth, a department spokeswoman.

New York State education and health officials yesterday sent a joint advisory by e-mail to more than 5,000 schools, including schools in New York City, with recommendations for preventing staph infections. The recommendations included a 17-page appendix of cleaning products known to be effective against the bacteria that cause the infection.

In recent weeks, reported MRSA cases have cropped up in schools around the New York metropolitan region. Students at two separate schools in Longwood, in Suffolk County, were discovered to have the infection by members of the nursing staff, who were told a month ago to watch out for the symptoms, said Michael R. Lonergan, the deputy superintendent.

In Southampton, school officials sent out general information about MRSA to parents last week and disinfected locker rooms and wrestling mats as a precaution before learning that three high-school students, all athletes, had become infected, according to the schools superintendent, J. Richard Boyes.

In New Jersey, school officials in Point Pleasant, in Ocean County, brought in infectious disease experts to address concerns from about 100 parents at a meeting on Monday after a high school student who had been out sick with skin lesions was found to have the infection. The district’s four schools have been sanitized with a hospital-grade cleaning agent in the last week.

At the Brooklyn school, Isaiah Peeples, 13, a student there, said that after a school assembly yesterday, “I was a little scared.”

He said that the principal, Ms. Simmons-Peart, “was on the verge of tears” and that “it was a sad moment.”

Another student, Bobby Dewindt, 12, said, “The principal told us to take a good shower and make sure you’re not dirty.”

Reporting was contributed by Annie Correal, Ford Fessenden, Jennifer Medina and Anthony Ramirez.


15) High-Ranking Jail Officer Is Convicted of Conspiracy in Beating
October 26, 2007

One of the highest-ranking officers at the Metropolitan Detention Center, the large federal jail near Gowanus Bay in Brooklyn, was convicted yesterday of conspiracy in connection with the beating of an inmate in the jail’s high-security special housing unit.

The officer, Capt. Salvatore LoPresti, was also found guilty of covering up the assault. While the jury in his trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn found that he had conspired with other officers to plan and carry out the assault, it acquitted him of actually taking part in the beating itself.

According to the government, Captain LoPresti was making rounds of the special housing unit on Nov. 13, 2002, when he asked the inmate, Robert George, to remove a T-shirt wrapped around his head in violation of jail regulations. Mr. George refused, causing Captain LoPresti to feel “disrespected,” court papers in the case have said. He returned later with other guards to beat the man, according to the court papers.

Prosecutors originally contended that the assault was so violent that it left “clumps of the inmate’s dreadlocks” on the floor of his cell, although testimony at the trial suggested that the beating was not exceptionally brutal. Some of that testimony was provided by a beautician, who appeared on behalf of the defense and told the jury that dreadlocks tend to fall out much more easily than other sorts of stylized hair.

To cover up the beating, witnesses said, Captain LoPresti and at least two others, Lt. Kelly Tassio and Officer Scott Rosebery, took a sheet from Mr. George’s bed and draped it from the bars of his window.

Two more guards, Officer Alfred Santana and Officer Steve Peterson, joined them in filing false reports claiming that Mr. George became enraged when they stopped him from attempting suicide.

In all, 11 guards, including Captain LoPresti, were named in an original indictment, which was handed up in April. Of those, four pleaded guilty in the case, two of whom — Officers Santana and Rosebery — testified for the government at Captain LoPresti’s trial. The rest are scheduled to be tried separately in January.

“The jury made it clear that Mr. LoPresti did not actually use excessive force,” said his lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma. “We’ll be looking at our options for appeal.”

The Metropolitan Detention Center has housed some of Brooklyn’s most notorious federal inmates, from terrorists to gangsters. In recent years, it has come under scrutiny for its treatment of inmates, particularly those swept up after Sept. 11, 2001, as part of terror investigations.

Captain LoPresti, Officer Rosebery and a lieutenant at the jail, Elizabeth Torres, are accused of abusing inmates in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of several Muslim prisoners who say they were mistreated at the jail after being arrested in roundups following the Sept. 11 attacks.

According to the suit, filed in April 2002 by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit legal and educational group, at least five Arab and South Asian inmates at the jail were subjected to abuse, including being kept in solitary confinement with the lights on 24 hours a day.

The suit, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, accuses Officer Rosebery of repeatedly stepping on an inmate’s shackle chains in the elevator, and Officer Torres of forcing another to strip in front of her. While the suit, currently before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, does not accuse Captain LoPresti of any specific act, it says he allowed an atmosphere of abuse to exist.

Captain LoPresti has been on unpaid leave since his arrest this spring, Mr. Margulis-Ohnuma said, but under federal regulations he will lose his job because of his conviction. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a maximum penalty of five years and three months in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 18.


16) U.A.W. Shifts Its Attention to Ford
October 27, 2007

DETROIT, Oct. 26 — With voting wrapping up at Chrysler, the United Automobile Workers union is about to turn its attention to Ford Motor, the last Detroit company that must reach an agreement on a new labor contract.

Workers at Chrysler’s plant in Belvidere, Ill., were the last to vote on the contract Friday. But through Friday, the contract was passing by about 56 percent in favor to 44 percent opposed, with a margin of about 4,000 votes.

That appears to be enough to offset even a unanimous “no” vote at Belvidere, where leaders have told the plant’s 3,444 workers that they oppose the contract. Voting there is set to conclude at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday.

The Chrysler vote was far more turbulent than the process at General Motors, where 66 percent of the members who voted approved the contract this month after a two-day strike.

Workers at Chrysler walked off the job for six hours, but local union leaders were split over the agreement. It was rejected by four assembly plants, but received support from a number of smaller factories as well as four big plants in the Detroit area, which approved the contract on Wednesday.

Opponents voiced concerns that the Chrysler pact did not provide as many guarantees of future work as the G.M. contract. That issue is front and center at Ford, which lost $12.6 billion last year and does not expect to earn a profit in North America before 2009.

Talks there, which continued at a slow pace during the Chrysler vote, are expected to step up over the weekend. Generally, the U.A.W. expects to win the same contract terms under its practice of pattern bargaining, but as at Chrysler, the union may have to settle on something apart from the G.M. pact.

“There’s a lot of confusion at my plant, with all the things that have happened” at G.M. and Chrysler, said Jim Stoufer, the president of Local 249 at Ford’s assembly plant outside Kansas City, Mo.

“We don’t know where we’re at, how Ford’s going to be approached and how it’s going to work for us, since we’re in worse shape than everybody else.”

Ford, whose market share in the United States has dropped by nearly 2 percentage points this year, to 16 percent, has yet to name all the plants it expects to close under a restructuring plan called the Way Forward.

“If there’s going to be a difficult issue, that’s it,” said Richard Block, acting director at the Michigan State University School of Labor and Industrial Relations. “The U.A.W. is going to want Ford to reveal any product development plans that it has.”

But Chrysler’s disclosure that it had no plans for a future investment at the St. Louis South plant outside Fenton, Mo., prompted workers there and at the adjacent St. Louis North plant to reject the contract. Chrysler workers in Newark, Del., which is scheduled to close, also rejected the contract.

Rather that risk such “no” votes, Ford instead may try to give as little information as possible about any factory whose future is on the line, said David L. Gregory, a professor of labor law at St. John’s University in Queens.

“Ford I don’t think is in a position to make anything beyond the barest good-faith declaration of principle that they’re going to do their best,” he said.

Workers, however, are likely to want reassurances before they will vote in favor of the contract. Even those promises are no guarantee, however. G.M. has announced plans to eliminate shifts at two Michigan factories since its contract was approved.

It remains to be seen whether Ford workers will be in as feisty a mood as their Chrysler counterparts. But there is cause for concern, analysts said.

Two years ago, Ford workers barely approved a series of cuts in health care benefits that G.M. workers voted to accept. The slim margin at Ford was a reason Chrysler workers were never asked to vote on similar cuts, for fear they would turn them down.

Ford workers, in addition, have the benefit of having watched their counterparts at the other companies wrestle with the cuts in their contract.

“At G.M. and Chrysler, the autoworkers really rose up to give a big fight against concessions,” said Ron Lare, 60, who has worked at Ford’s assembly plant in Dearborn, Mich., for 20 years.

Mr. Lare said he was concerned that the contracts created a two-tier wage system that meant newly hired workers would be paid less than their elders.

“The issue seems to be whether we’re going to sell out the next generation of autoworkers,” Mr. Lare said.

Nick Bunkley and Mary M. Chapman contributed reporting.


17) Glare of Fires Pulls Migrants From Shadows
October 27, 2007

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 26 — Out of the burning brush, from behind canyon rocks, several immigrants bolted toward a group of firefighters, chased not by the border police but by the onrush of flames from one of the biggest wildfires this week.

Their appearance startled the firefighters, who let them into their vehicles. But with the discovery of four charred bodies in an area of heavy illegal immigration, concern is growing that others may not have survived.

“Their hands were burned, and they were clearly tired and grateful,” Capt. Mike Parkes of the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported on what his firefighting team saw.

Immigrants from south of the border, many illegal, provide the backbone of menial labor in San Diego, picking fruit, cleaning hotel rooms, sweeping walks and mowing lawns.

The wildfires, one of the biggest disasters to strike the county, exposed their often-invisible existence in ways that were sometimes deadly.

The four bodies were found in a burned area in southeastern San Diego County, a region known for intense illegal immigration. It is near Tecate, where a chain securing an evacuated border crossing was cut and people were seen flowing into the United States until the Border Patrol arrived, said Michael J. Fisher, the chief patrol agent in San Diego.

As firefighting continued on Friday, makeshift camps for immigrants in the northern part of the county stood largely abandoned. Some immigrants were said to be hiding in even more remote terrain. Others sought help from churches.

“I was pretty scared. We had to leave in the middle of the night, and we went to the church,” said Juan Santiago, a immigrant worker in the Rancho Peñasquitos neighborhood, just south of the hard-hit Rancho Bernardo area.

Terri Trujillo, who helps the immigrants, checked on those in the canyons, urging them to leave, too, when she left her house in Rancho Peñasquitos ahead of the fires.

Ms. Trujillo and others who help the immigrants said they saw several out in the fields as the fires approached and ash fell on them. She said many were afraid to lose their jobs.

“There were Mercedeses and Jaguars pulling out, people evacuating, and the migrants were still working,” said Enrique Morones, who takes food and blankets to the immigrants’ camps. “It’s outrageous.”

Some of the illegal workers who sought help from the authorities were arrested and deported. Opponents of illegal immigration, including civilian border watch groups, seized on news that immigrants had been detained at the Qualcomm Stadium evacuation center as evidence of trouble that illegal immigrants cause.

The Border Patrol also arrested scores of illegal immigrants made visible by the fires. Agent Fisher of the Border Patrol said 100 had been arrested since the fires started Sunday.

He said that the agency never abandoned enforcing the border and that agents helped with removals and rescues. Fire blocked some access points to border areas, but Agent Fisher said, “We were very conscious in making sure our border security mission was met.”

Some people have speculated, including on the Web, that immigrants might have set some of the fires, as has occurred with campfires lighted in fields.

The authorities have not given any causes linked to immigration.

Two men, one in San Diego County and the other in Los Angeles, who were arrested on arson charges, accused of setting small fires this week, are believed to be deportable, a federal immigration official said.

The San Diego police detained people suspected of stealing at Qualcomm Stadium. Six were handed over to the immigration authorities when it became apparent that they might be in the United States illegally.

The Border Patrol said the six, and at the group’s request, an American juvenile with them, were returned to Mexico.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it had received reports that people had been denied help at shelters because they lacked proper identification. Officials have been checking identification to prevent people not affected by the fires from taking advantage of the free food, clothes and other services.

The concerns of the rights group drew a rebuke from Representative Brian P. Bilbray, a Republican who represents areas along the border.

“People are dying because we can’t control our border,” Mr. Bilbray said. “That’s what they should be screaming about. Anyone who knows the land and the illegal activity in that rugged terrain knows there was no way we would avoid deaths in this.”

Wayne A. Cornelius, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who studies border questions, said that if the past was a guide there would be more friction over the fires and their effects on illegal immigrants.

“San Diego likes its illegal migrants as invisible as possible,” Mr. Cornelius said. “So whenever something happens that calls attention to their presence, it is fodder for the local anti-immigration forces.”

In one sign of cooperation, a Mexican firefighting team from Baja California helped American firefighters with a major blaze along the border early in the week.

For the immigrants, the fires may have dried up some work. But some speculate on strong work prospects like cleanups. By early afternoon near a heavily damaged neighborhood in the Rancho Bernardo area, four men stood on a corner, waiting for work offers.

“It is a shame what happened,” said a man who gave just his first name, Miguelito. “But we think there will be jobs to clean or build.”

Dan Frosch contributed reporting from Denver, and Carolyn Marshall from San Francisco.


18) 1944 Conviction of Black G.I.’s Is Ruled Flawed
October 27, 2007

SEATTLE, Oct. 26 — Guglielmo Olivotto, an Italian prisoner of war, died with a noose around his neck, lynched at a military post on Puget Sound 63 years ago. Samuel Snow, 83, hopes that people will stop blaming him and the 27 other black soldiers convicted of starting the riot that led to Mr. Olivotto’s death. It was one of the largest Army courts-martial of World War II.

This week, a review board issued a ruling that could lead to overturning the convictions of all 28 soldiers, granting honorable discharges and providing them with back pay.

The board found that the court-martial was flawed, that the defense was unjustly rushed and that the prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, a young lieutenant colonel who went on to fame three decades later as a Watergate special prosecutor, had important evidence that he did not share with defense lawyers.

All of the 28 have died except for Mr. Snow and another soldier.

“It means a lot to me that it’s going to come out in the paper,” Mr. Snow said Friday from his home in Leesburg, Fla. “Now people are going to see that I wasn’t a villain. And I’m not a villain.”

Mr. Snow’s son Ray, 55, said his father came home from prison “highly disappointed.”

“He walked with it all his life,” Ray Snow said.

Samuel Snow, who said he spent 45 years working as a janitor in Leesburg after serving one year in a military prison for his conviction on the rioting charge, requested the review, as did the families of three of the dead soldiers, Pvt. Booker M. Townsell, Pvt. William G. Jones and Cpl. Luther L. Larkin. Private Jones and Corporal Larkin were also convicted of manslaughter.

United States Representative Jim McDermott, a Democrat whose Seattle district includes Fort Lawton, where the riot occurred, said a senior military officer in charge of the review told him that the convictions of all four men would be overturned.

The ruling, by the Army’s Board for Correction of Military Records, specifically set aside the conviction of Private Townsell, and an Army spokesman said Friday that he could confirm only that the one conviction had been overturned.

Last year, the House, led by Mr. McDermott and Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, passed a measure directing the Army to open the review after the 2005 publication of a book, “On American Soil,” by a Seattle author and journalist, Jack Hamann. The book detailed evidence from the case that had not been made public.

Mr. McDermott has suggested that the convicted soldiers were “victims of racial injustice.”

The case could be the largest Army court-martial of World War II. The largest court-martial of the war is thought to be that of 50 black sailors who were convicted of mutiny and sentenced to 15 years in prison for refusing to load ammunition aboard a ship at Port Chicago, a Navy depot 30 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The 28 soldiers in the Puget Sound case were stationed at Fort Lawton on Aug. 15, 1944, when Mr. Olivotto was found dead after a night of fighting among American and Italian soldiers on the base. Some American soldiers — white and black — objected to what they saw as lenient treatment of the scores of Italian prisoners held there.

The 28 black soldiers were among 43 initially charged with rioting, but charges were dropped against 2 of the 43 and the other 13 were acquitted.

Two defense lawyers, representing all 43 initially charged, had 13 days to prepare for trial. According to the board’s ruling, they did not have full access to a confidential Army inspector general’s report that Mr. Jaworski had seen, which suggested that evidence at the scene had been destroyed, and that white military policemen with animosity toward the Italians may have played a role in the riot.

“Under military law as it stands today, people would laugh,” said John Tait, an Army lawyer who reviewed the case for the board. “You don’t have two people represent 43 people. It just doesn’t happen. And when three people are charged with murder? No.”

The board’s decision instructs the Army to set aside Mr. Townsell’s conviction, and to change his dishonorable discharge to honorable, making his family eligible to receive back pay. Members of his family did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The analysis used by the board in reaching its decision about Mr. Townsell would apply “to anybody who was convicted in that court-martial,” Mr. Tait said.

Soldiers or their families must request that their case be reviewed. Mr. Townsell’s family requested the review after hearing Mr. Hamann discuss the case in a radio interview.

Mr. Hamann, a former reporter for CNN, said he struggled to locate many of the families during his research, which he conducted with the help of his wife, Leslie.

“There are still a lot of families out there that have never heard about this,” he said. “They’re all over the United States.”

It was not immediately clear what kind of back pay or benefits the soldiers or their families might receive. The ruling says Mr. Townsell or his estate should receive “all back pay and allowances due as a result of the above corrections.”

Col. Dan Baggio, chief of media relations for the Army, said late Friday: “I’m not really sure how much that is going to amount to. I’m sure there are folks who are going to look at what is the right and equitable thing to do.”

The ruling does not say that the convicted soldiers were not guilty, but that the process by which they were convicted was unjust.

The ruling notes that white military police were lax in quelling the riot. And it suggests that Mr. Jaworski, who died in 1982, would have been aware of testimony, which he did not share with the defense, that suggested a white military policeman could have been involved in the Olivotto killing.

One black soldier had told an investigator that a white military policeman had threatened to “bust” the skull of an Italian soldier.

In his book, Mr. Hamann said the evidence pointed to a white military policeman who had been present at every critical moment in the days leading up to the lynching, and who discovered Mr. Olivotto’s body. The policeman, who is deceased, was convicted of going absent without leave.




Newark: Recalled Meat Found in Store
New Jersey consumer safety officials said yesterday that state inspectors bought recalled frozen hamburgers at a store weeks after the meat was recalled because of fears of E. coli contamination. The 19 boxes were bought in Union City on Wednesday, nearly four weeks after the manufacturer, the Topps Meat Company, issued a nationwide recall of 21.7 million pounds of frozen patties. Officials would not name the store yesterday because of the investigation, and investigators have not determined when the store received the meat, said Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs.
New Jersey
October 26, 2007

Florida: Sentence for Lionel Tate Is Upheld
An appeals court has upheld a 30-year probation violation sentence for Lionel Tate, who for a time was the youngest person to be sentenced to life in an American prison. The ruling Wednesday by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach sets the stage for Mr. Tate’s trial on robbery charges that could carry another life term. Mr. Tate, 20, had sought to have the sentence thrown out based on procedural mistakes. Mr. Tate was 12 at the time of the 1999 beating death of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick. An appeals court overturned his murder conviction in 2004, and he was released but was on probation. In May 2005, the police said, Mr. Tate robbed a pizza delivery man, and he was found to be in possession of a gun even before that, a violation of his probation.
October 26, 2007

Submarine’s Commanding Officer Is Relieved of His Duties
The commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine Hampton was relieved of his duty because of a loss of confidence in his leadership, the Navy said. The officer, Cmdr. Michael B. Portland, was relieved of duty after an investigation found the ship had failed to do daily safety checks on its nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission. Commander Portland will be reassigned, said Lt. Alli Myrick, a public affairs officer. [Aren't you glad they are out there making the world safe for democracy?]
October 26, 2007

Britain: New Claim for Sovereignty in Antarctica
World Briefing | Europe
Britain plans to submit a claim to the United Nations to extend its Antarctic territory by 386,000 square miles, the Foreign Office said. Argentina wants some of it, and its foreign minister said his country was working on its own presentation. May 13, 2009, is the deadline for countries to stake their claims in what some experts are describing as the last big carve-up of maritime territory in history.
October 18, 2007

California: Veto of 3 Criminal Justice Bills
Bucking a national trend toward stronger safeguards against wrongful convictions, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed bills that would have explored new eyewitness identification guidelines, required electronic recordings of police interrogations and mandated corroboration of jailhouse informant testimony. Mr. Schwarzenegger cited his concern that the three bills would hamper local law enforcement authorities, a contention shared by several state police and prosecutor associations. The proposals had been recommended by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a bipartisan body of police officials, prosecutors and defense lawyers charged by the State Senate to address the most common causes of wrongful convictions and recommend changes in criminal justice procedures.
October 16, 2007

Illinois: Chicagoans May Have to Dig Deeper
Chicagoans would have to spend 10 cents more on a bottle of water, pay higher property taxes and spend more for liquor under Mayor Richard M. Daley’s proposed budget for next year. Also financing Mr. Daley’s $5.4 billion budget are higher water and sewer fees and more expensive vehicle stickers for people driving large vehicles, $120 a vehicle sticker, up from $90. Mr. Daley announced his budget to aldermen, calling it a last resort to ask taxpayers for more money. His budget closes a $196 million deficit and avoids service cuts and layoffs. Budget hearings will be held, and a city spending plan will require a vote by aldermen.
October 11, 2007

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


"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


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


"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:


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


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


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])

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