Saturday, November 17, 2007



474 Valencia Street, SF (Near 16th Street)



Remember when SF made history a year ago when the Board of Education voted to phase out JROTC from our public schools? Well it seems like the military forces have succeeded in delaying, if not stopping, the phase out. Even previously anti-JROTC school board members are wavering.

In 2004, 63 percent of San Franciscans voted to withdraw all troops from Iraq. In 2005, 59 percent of San Franciscans voted to end military recruiting in our public schools. In 2006 the school board, the first in the country, voted to phase out JROTC. San Franciscans clearly do not support the military taking our children. We MUST muster enough support to hold the school board to its courageous vote last year.

Attend a meeting:
Monday, November 26
7:00 P.M.
474 Valencia Street
(Near 16th Street, San Francisco)
For more info, call: 415-824-8730

In solidarity,

Medea Benjamin
Eric Blanc
Riva Enteen
Bob Forsberg
Vickie Leidner
Cristina Gutierrez
Tommi Avicoli Mecca
Millie Phillips
Carole Seligman
Bonnie Weinstein

Please sign this letter and pass it along to all those opposed to JROTC in our schools.


Dear Friends,

Please take a quick moment to help free Manzoor Ahmed, a Member of Pakistan's National Assembly, who was arrested. Ahmed is also the President of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He was arrested demanding protesting the murderous dictatorship in Pakistan. Your call today can help free him. The embassy and consulates now that the days are numbered for Musharref's government. Your call now will help get a leading campaigner out of the grips of the dictatorship!

Here is a quick script and information on how to call the Pakistan Embassy.

Below are its numbers and a recommended script for your reference.

Callers should be polite, to the point, and prepared to give their name.

If you wish to, you can say that you are calling as part of the Pakistan Trade Union Defense Campaign.

Tell them you are deeply concerned about political freedom in Pakistan and that it is incompatible with human rights that a Member of the National Assembly be
arrested for demanding democracy.

They will ask your name and phone number. Speak Slowly and Clearly. Be prepared to leave your name and number. I suspect for those of us in the US, at worst you may be denied a visa to visit Pakistan.

I am calling to urge the Embassy) to take urgent action to secure the immediate release of a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for the district of Kasur, Manzoor Ahmed, who is being held at the Model Town Police Station in Gujranwala (pronounced Guj-ran-wala). I also demand the release of all PPP, PTUDC, Student, and other activists that have been rounded up in the latest repression by the Musharraf
regime. MNA Manzoor committed no crime, demonstrating is not a crime. I call on the Embassy to act now on behalf of Manzoor Ahmed immediately!

Pakistan Embassy in Washington

Email address:

Telephone: 202-243-6500 Press 5


http://video. videoplay? docid=-905047436 2583451279




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


Help end the war by supporting the troops who have refused to fight it.

Please sign the appeal online

"I am writing from the United States to ask you to make a provision for
sanctuary for the scores of U.S. military servicemembers currently in
Canada, most of whom have traveled to your country in order to resist
fighting in the Iraq War. Please let them stay in Canada..."

To sign the appeal or for more information:

Courage to Resist volunteers will send this letter on your behalf to three
key Canadian officials--Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley, and Stéphane Dion, Liberal
Party--via international first class mail.

In collaboration with War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada), this effort
comes at a critical juncture in the international campaign for asylum for
U.S. war resisters in Canada.




1) Ford to Offer Buyouts and Scrap Plan for Plant
November 15, 2007

2) Chiquita Brands accused of funding death squads
Wednesday, November 14th 2007, 4:56 PM

3) An exclusive interview with Mariela Castro Espín, director of Cuba‚s
National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).
By: Hinde Pomeraniec
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann
CLARIN (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

4) Militants Gain Despite Decree by Musharraf
November 16, 2007
Photo of protest in Pakistan

5)After a Death, Use of Taser in Canada Is Debated
"Mr. Dziekanski was the 18th person to die since July 2003 after being hit by a Taser in Canada, a country where the weapons may be owned only by police forces. Amnesty International estimates that in the United States, a country with roughly nine times the population of Canada, 280 people have died after being struck by police Tasers since 2001. Tasers can also be used by civilians in many states."
November 16, 2007

6) German Rail Strike Disrupts Travel and Freight
November 16, 2007

7) Red Cross Monitors Barred From Guantánamo
November 16, 2007

8) Gap Campaigns Against Child Labor
November 16, 2007

9) In Mississippi, Poor Lag in Hurricane Aid
November 16, 2007

10) Ford Scraps Plans for New Assembly Plant
November 16, 2007

11) It’s Not Just the Uninsured
Op-Ed Columnist
November 17, 2007

12) Chávez’s Vision Shares Wealth and Centers Power
November 17, 2007

13) Immigration Dilemma: A Mother Torn From a Baby
November 17, 2007

14) Striking to Protect Gains, With Eye on the Future
November 17, 2007


1) Ford to Offer Buyouts and Scrap Plan for Plant
November 15, 2007

DETROIT, Nov. 15 — The Ford Motor Company said today that it would offer more buyouts to unionized workers and that it had canceled plans to build a new low-cost assembly plant in North America.

The plans, which are part of Ford’s newly ratified agreement with the United Automobile Workers union, were revealed in a presentation posted online before a conference call with executives this morning.

The company did not say how many jobs it wants to eliminate with the buyouts. Ford, which lost $12.6 billion last year, already cut about 30,000 hourly jobs through a recent buyout program that gave workers as much as $140,000 to leave without any benefits or $35,000 to retire.

The buyouts are part of a new Job Security Program created by the contract. The program shortens the time that workers can continue receiving most of their pay and benefits after being laid off to two years from four years, or less if there is an opening at another factory.

The plan to build a low-cost assembly plant was part of Ford’s restructuring, called the Way Forward, which the company unveiled in January 2006, and later expanded. Ford touted the low-cost assembly plant as part of its strategy to become “America’s car company,” as William Clay Ford Jr., then its chief executive, said when he announced the plan.

Ford never identified a location for the plant, which some analysts said they expected would be built in Mexico. The Canadian Auto Workers union also made a strong case for building the plant in Canada, using empty space inside one of Ford’s factories. But the strong Canadian dollar, as well as Ford’s falling American market share, worked against that idea.

Ford is scrapping the plan after it agreed, as part of the deal with the U.A.W., to keep open five factories that were designated to be closed. The company for the first time identified the saved plants today as being in Dearborn, Wayne and Ypsilanti, Mich., and in Louisville.

Ford agreed to keep those plants open at least through September 2011, when the four-year contract expires, but today’s presentation suggested that they could close soon after that.

Over all, Ford said it now planned to close 15 North American plants by 2012, one fewer than the latest version of the Way Forward called for. Six factories already have closed since last year, and four others have been told they will close by 2010, leaving five closures that have yet to be announced.

“This agreement will help us remain on track to deliver our key business and financial goals over the next few years,” the presentation said.

The contract allows Ford to pay newly hired workers as little as $14.20 an hour, about half of what workers make now. Ford said its costs for each new hire will be $26 to $31 an hour, including benefits but excluding post-retirement costs, compared with $60 for current workers.

After 2010, retiree health care costs will be paid by an independent trust financed in part by Ford.

The U.A.W. said Wednesday that 79 percent of workers had voted to approve the contract.

Micheline Maynard contributed reporting.


2) Chiquita Brands accused of funding death squads
Wednesday, November 14th 2007, 4:56 PM

Banana importer Chiquita Brands International got hit with a multi-billion dollar lawsuit yesterday filed by the families of nearly 400 murdered or tortured Colombian civilians who accuse the U.S.-based company of funding terrorists.

The $7.86 billion suit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, notes that Chiquita has recently pled guilty to criminal charges of making payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC, between 1997 and 2004.

"While Chiquita paid a fine to the United States government of $25 million, none of that money went to any of the victims," said attorney Jonathan Reiter.

"Chiquita has admitted to making payments to the AUC and now it should be held accountable by the families of people who were murdered by this organization.

In their suit, the 393 plaintiffs allege that the $1.7 million Chiquita gave to the right-wing paramilitary group contributed to the murders of thousands of Colombians during the country’s bloody civil conflict.

Chiquita has maintained that the payments were necessary to protect the lives of their employees.
"We reiterate that Chiquita and its employees were victims and that the actions taken by the company were always motivated to protect the lives of our employees and their families," Chiquita spokesman Michael Mitchell said in a statement.


3) An exclusive interview with Mariela Castro Espín, director of Cuba‚s
National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).
By: Hinde Pomeraniec
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann
CLARIN (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

She arrived in Buenos Aires to talk about what she knows best. The
daughter of Raúl Castro, currently Cuba‚s strongman, and Vilma Espín,
a former guerrilla who for years headed the Federation of Cuban Women
(FMC), Mariela Castro Espín (1963, married, three children) is the
director of her country‚s National Center for Sex Education. To many
people‚s surprise, she‚s also the spirit behind a bill to make
sex-change operations legal and modifying identity documents for
Cuban transsexuals possible. Castro Espín welcomed Clarín in the
Communist Party‚s headquarters at Entre Ríos Street, a picture of Che
Guevara hanging on the wall above her.

Q: Where does your interest in these topics come from?

„I got involved in sexuality while I was working for the Pedagogical
University. At the time I was the youngest professor, so when
research teams were established all the others got the most
high-sounding topics and they asked me to take this one. I started
with sex education for children and then for teenagers. I had always
felt curious about how the issue of homosexuality was approached in
Cuba, and knowing it mad me feel unhappy; I was very uncomfortable
about homophobia and certain attitudes, even at institutional level,
towards homosexuals. I thought it was awful to see that neither the
Communist Party nor the Young Communist League would accept them as
members. I was in total disagreement and always voiced my opposition
in the relevant places, first as a student and later as a professor.‰

Q: Did you have gay friends?

„No particular or close friends, but I always listened to those who
told me their stories or the things that happened in the 1960s or
70s. I used to ask people because I wanted to be sure about what it
was like, even to those who knew from their own experience. However,
there was no resentment in their tales, as if they understood why it

Q: Are you talking about the work camps where they were sent?

„Those were not camps, but military units in support of production
set up as a military service of sorts to make it easier for the
children of workers and peasants to get a qualification and thus
better paid jobs. That‚s what the new Ministry of the Revolutionary
Armed Forces had set out to do. Those days were marked by a
prevailing state of unrest: there was a revolutionary nation in the
making, and the Cuban people were the victims of attacks prompted by
a State terrorism aimed at making everything very difficult for them.
That‚s when this idea came up. In some of those units the homosexuals
suffered humiliation, inflicted by those who thought they had to be
Œchanged‚ and therefore put to work so they could become Œmen‚. Such
was the fashionable mindset in Cuba and elsewhere. Even the
psychiatrists had therapy sessions conceived to make heterosexuals
out of them.‰

Q: Were lesbians discriminated against too?

„Gay men took most of the humiliation because women tend to be more
careful and keep a lower profile than men. However, no one went
missing or submitted to torture; contrary to those who are always
trying to distort Cuba‚s realities, never has any hate crime based on
sexuality been committed in Cuba. But it‚s true that the whole thing
was in violation of these people‚s rights.‰

Q: You were saying that you suddenly took an interest in the issue of
sexual diversity...

„Though my work was not directly related to it, I somehow managed to
broach the subject of homophobia in my sex education courses, either
on radio and TV programs or even in one or two interviews published
in the newspaper Granma in 1990. Before that, in the 1970s and 80s,
my mother[1] had brought it up in the Federation of Cuban Women, who
always took a stand against homophobic attitudes even inside the
Party, but with little or no success, considering their expectations.
Nevertheless, they smoothed the way for us, and thanks to those first
steps we can now do what we do.‰

Q: When did you first take concrete steps regarding the sexual
diversity policy?

„In 2004, when a group of more than 40 transvestites and transsexuals
in Havana came to see me at CENESEX to complain about their problems
with the police in the downtown area around La Rampa Street, their
usual hangout then ˆand since. The police were arresting them on a
whim and then releasing them with no charges, because the population
usually protested against that practice.‰

Q: Did they engage in prostitution?

„Some did, but not all of them. The police would take them away to
silence the protests, but in fact there were other kinds of
individuals there. In addition to transvestites and transsexuals,
there were some people who were robbing and harassing the tourists.
They had to curb those incidents, but not the way they did it,
putting these transvestites and transsexuals on a level with the
local scum. We thought it was the wrong treatment, requested to meet
with the police and agreed to stop the isolated efforts in favor of a
nationwide strategy to provide health, social, educational and
employment services to transvestites and transsexuals. From it
stemmed the guidelines for a Law on Gender Identity and amendments to
our Family Code approved in 1975.‰

Q: Did you have in mind the possibility of providing for gay

„By 1975 we had already set our sights on something along those
lines. My mom in particular used to talk about marriage as the Œunion
of two persons‚. Yet, it went no further than that, since people
voted against the proposal when it was submitted to a popular vote.‰

Q: Why do you think it happened? Was it because of Catholic
traditions, because of machismo?

„It was both machismo and the hegemonic heterosexuality that prevails
in our cultures, and also because these issues were not the object of
public discussion as they are today, so the process was slower. Our
Family Code could only go as far as the Cuban people‚s analytical
capability at the time allowed it to go. All along the 1970s, 80s and
90s we worked nonstop with the FMC and other institutions who had
joined the sex education program until new amendments were made. Now
we are drafting another article related to people‚s right to a free
sexual orientation and gender identity which includes same-sex Œlegal
unions‚. Talking about marriage would entail changes to the
Constitution. This provision will protect the same patrimonial and
personal rights of a legal marriage, including adoption, which is
precisely what most people are reluctant to accept. The same thing
happens in Europe, though.‰

Q: You mentioned the 1980s. What did the appearance of AIDS in Cuba

„Actually, it was Fidel who had the broadest and clearest views about
AIDS, since he kept up to date with what was going on in the world.
So back in ‚85 or ‚86 he asked the staff at the Tropical Medicine
Institute whether they had thought about what they would do about
AIDS, for he believed ˆhe told themˆ that it would grow to become the
epidemic of the century. ŒHave you thought about what to do to keep
it out of Cuba or prevent its progress?,‚ and they answered, ŒNo, we
haven‚t, but if you tell us what to do∑‚ So they went to France, got
in touch with Luc Montagnier and learned all about the latest
developments. A series of tests began, mainly with comrades returning
home from assignments in Africa, and it was precisely among them
where the first cases were detected.‰

Q: Are there [antiretroviral Œdrug] cocktails‚ in Cuba?

„Yes. Fidel‚s question triggered the Cuban Strategy for AIDS Control
and Prevention. That‚s the kind of name he likes (laughter), and
right after that a whole government team was established to be
directly supervised by our Commander together with the Ministry of
Public Health, which makes it possible to make very quick decisions,
mainly of budgetary nature. AIDS-related healthcare is very
expensive, and the Cuban State covers all expenses. Fidel said the
United Nations may take care of prevention expenses, but medical
attention is every State‚s responsibility.‰

Q: What‚s the male-female proportion among AIDS patients?

„Males account for 80% of the cases, and of them 85% are men who have
sex with other men, often in connection with prostitution.‰

Q: Are condoms available?

„Free of charge; it‚s a state subsidy. And they are for sale in
drugstores at hardly half the price the State pays for them in Europe
or Japan, since the U.S. blockade keeps us from buying condoms there,
or anything else for that matter.‰

Q: I read in an article that you wrote part of a soap opera script∑.

„That idea came from our TV authorities who decided to make a soap
opera called ŒThe hidden face of the moon‚, divided into several
stories that included one about a married man who finds himself
attracted to a homosexual. It was the first time such things were
seen in Cuban TV, and it caused a huge stir, even if our approach was
rather moderate. There was some stereotyping too, but what matters is
that it paved the way for social debate. TV dramas are a great
favorite with everybody, be they marginals, newspaper readers, smart
or dumb people.‰

Q: Who promote change the most in Cuba, men or women?

„Cuban women have changed a lot. As early as in his revolutionary
program History Will Absolve Me, Fidel referred to the awful
situation of exploitation Cuban women suffered. A very high percent
of women in Cuba had no choice but to become prostitutes. They would
go to Havana looking for jobs as servants and ended up as working
girls. So one of the Revolution‚s first measures was to give these
women medical attention, teach them to read and write, qualify them
for better jobs∑ Their life changed, and they were recognized as
victims instead of criminals, unlike their pimps, who do violate the
law that forbids exploitation of a human being by another human

Q: Prostitution made a comeback with the arrival of tourism∑

„We had already got rid of that, but then tourists began to come and
our people were deeply hurt when women turned to prostitution all
over again after the Revolution had given them back their dignity.
That they resorted to prostitution was deemed unworthy of these
capable, skilled women to whom Cuban law guarantees employment by any
means, our hardships notwithstanding. We were, and still are, so
sorry that it happened. Cuban women have benefited from the most
significant changes at subjective level and hence our men in turn
have changed. Not that they have a choice: their women got jobs and
things at home changed as a result, for they have been forced to take
on housework.‰

Q: What about gays in the military?

„I always say where there‚s humanity there‚s diversity, and the
military is not the exception. They have gays too, who of course try
to keep it in the closet, conscious that their presence in such
milieu is rejected. The proper conditions to make any changes are yet
to exist. Well, my dad, the Minister of the Armed Forces, tells me:
ŒLook, I think that as people change so will the Army. So go on with
your work, raise awareness, do things, change Cuban society and thus
you will change all the rest, including our institutions...‚."

Q: What was it like to grow as a woman in a family with so many
important men?

„Fighting like crazy, quarreling and making demands all the time, and
we all keep up the fight, otherwise they will make mincemeat of us,
as you can imagine. Women are now showing their worth in every
patriarchal society, lest they be trampled on.‰

Q: Can you envision a future government headed by a woman?

„Yes, of course. Many Cuban women have leadership qualities; there
are female ministers, deputy ministers and directors of

Q: Are people in Cuba ready to be governed by a woman?

„Yes, they are.‰

Q: Would it have been possible 10 years ago?

„I never thought about it 10 years ago. But in the last few years
there have been policies to promote women issues. Right now we are
doing research on voluntary childlessness. Like in Italy, Cuban women
give birth once, twice at most, and have no intention whatsoever of
being slaves to their household and children. They have made great
strides in their studies and gained in self-sufficiency, but only if
and when your standards of living improve will you risk having many
children. One thing is certain: women will no longer be bound to
their homes. It‚s getting more and more common to find them in
managerial and decision-making positions. Many women, including some
very young ones, won Parliament seats in our last election.‰

Q: Do you get to travel much to exchange views with colleagues in
other countries?

„Quite a few times, but if I don‚t go, my colleagues do it in my

Q: Do you ever go to the United States?

„We never get a visa. I was there once, and I was invited to go on
two occasions after that, but they never replied to my applications
for a visa, and there‚s no reason for me to beg anything of the
Americans. In the end, the U.S. professionals come whenever they want
through a third country, and we have excellent relations and contacts
by e-mail.‰

Q: Tell us about the bill on sexual diversity.

„We submitted it to the CP, and they put us in touch with the
relevant State bodies. I don‚t know when it will be approved; many
big issues are under discussion in Cuba as we speak that I guess have
taken precedence. It will be approved, that much we‚ve been told. The
Party has asked us to raise public awareness and work with the media
to that end so that everyone is familiar with this subject when the
bill is passed.‰

Q: How many people are waiting for gender reassignment surgery?

„There are 27 transsexuals waiting, and as soon as the medical team
is ready ˆthey are being trained nowˆ they will proceed. We already
have a resolution by the Ministry of Public Health to implement
integral medical attention procedures, and even a special unit for
transgenders has been approved.‰

Q: Is there any country where the treatment of sexual diversity
sounds ideal to you?

„Ideals are always a wonderful thing; practice is what comes as the
hard part. Today in Cuba we are discussing the socialism we want, how
to make it more to our liking, and what to do to provide the economic
structure we need to sustain it, avoiding at all times any kind of
exploitation of a human being by another human being, which is the
essence of capitalism. That‚s what we‚re doing.‰

Copyright 1996-2007 Clarí - All rights reserved

Director: Ernestina Herrera de Noble

[1] Raúl Castro‚s recently deceased wife Vilma Espín.


4) Militants Gain Despite Decree by Musharraf
November 16, 2007

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Nov. 15 — Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, says he instituted emergency rule for the extra powers it would give him to push back the militants who have carved out a mini-state in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

But in the last several days, the militants have extended their reach, capturing more territory in Pakistan’s settled areas and chasing away frightened policemen, local government officials said.

As inconspicuous as it might be in a nation of 160 million people, the takeover of the small Alpuri district headquarters this week was considered a particular embarrassment for General Musharraf. It showed how the militants could still thumb their noses at the Pakistani Army.

In fact, local officials and Western diplomats said, there is little evidence that the 12-day-old emergency decree has increased the government’s leverage in fighting the militants, or that General Musharraf has used the decree to take any extraordinary steps to combat them.

Instead, it has proved more of a distraction, they said, forcing General Musharraf to concentrate on his own political survival, even as the army starts its first offensive operation since the Nov. 3 decree.

The success of the militants in Swat has caused new concern in Washington about the ability and the will of Pakistani forces to fight the militants who are now training their sights directly on Pakistan’s government, not only on the NATO and American forces across the border in Afghanistan, Western officials said.

After several weeks of heavy clashes, the militants largely control Swat, the mountainous region that is the scenic jewel of Pakistan, and are pushing into Shangla, to the east. All of the sites lie deeper inside Pakistan than the tribal areas, on the Afghan border, where Al Qaeda, the Taliban and assorted foreign and local militants have expanded a stronghold in recent years. In Alpuri, the administrative headquarters of Shangla, a crowd of militants easily took over the police station, despite the emergency decree, Mayor Ibad Khan said.

“They came straight to the police station; it was empty,” he said in a telephone interview. The district police officer had run away. “I am still searching for him,” Mr. Khan said. Asked why the police station was empty, he said, “I am asking myself the same question.”

The shelling of militant positions in several subdistricts of Swat, and in neighboring Shangla in the last several days, was the first significant action by the Pakistani Army in the area, Western defense officials said.

One Western diplomat said a government military briefing Thursday in Islamabad was intended to convince foreign countries of the feasibility of the government offensive. Instead, the official said, the presentation only underscored the Pakistan Army’s lack of counterinsurgency skills as it tries to battle about 400 well-supplied and well-trained militants in the region.

In the past, the government has relied on paramilitary forces, the Frontier Corps and the constabulary to control Swat, which is part of North-West Frontier Province.

More than 2,000 Pakistani Army soldiers were deployed to the province in July, but they remained largely inactive, intimidated by the militants’ ability to capture soldiers.

The army said Thursday that more than two dozen militants had been killed in clashes since operations began three days ago.

But Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, a military spokesman, said the army had not cleared the main road in Alpuri by Thursday night.

The local militants in Swat are led by Maulana Fazlullah, a charismatic Islamic cleric, and are fortified by Islamic fighters of Uzbek, Tajik and Chechen origin, residents say. They say that although masks hide the foreigners’ faces, it is clear that they do not speak Pashto, the local language.

Mr. Fazlullah leads the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws, a Taliban-style group that has forced the closing of schools for girls and shut down video stores. He delivers his message on FM radio, a technique that the government has not curbed. Civilians in the area said the arrival of the army three days ago was not reassuring.

“The army has moved to the area, but so far I don’t see any practical steps for this crisis,” said Sher Muhammad, a lawyer, in a telephone interview from Swat. “We are just waiting. The situation is worse than 10 days ago.”

Civilians have already been killed, local residents said by telephone.

In Kanju, a town under the militants’ control, the army shelled a house, killing four people, said Walyat Ali Khan, a lawyer.

“The army controls the airport,” Mr. Khan said. “But the militants openly control the one-kilometer road from the airport to Kanju.” The militants also control the 15-mile stretch from Kanju to Matta, a town to the north.

In Koza Bani, another district the militants control, the army has suffered more casualties than the militants, said Amina Khan, who works with a local nongovernmental organization. “I called the mayor, and he said eight soldiers are dead, and only three Taliban are killed,” Ms. Khan said.

In Kabal, Fazal Wahab, a pharmacist, said the army and government paramilitary forces now controlled the main road. Three civilians, including a 9-year-old boy, were killed Wednesday by government shelling, and a government curfew that kept people inside on Wednesday meant it was hard to get food, he said.

Several events in the 12 days of martial law illustrate how little impact General Musharraf’s greater powers have had on the expanding insurgency.

On Nov. 4, the day after the declaration, General Musharraf approved the release of 213 soldiers who had been held captive by Baitullah Mehsud, one of the most powerful militant commanders in the tribal areas, in exchange for 25 militants captured in August.

General Musharraf acknowledged in an interview this week that some of the militants handed back to Mr. Mehsud were trained suicide bombers, and that one of the militants had been charged with involvement in a suicide attack.

The general said that he was not happy with the deal, but that Pakistan needed the soldiers back.

A suicide bomb attack on a government official in Peshawar last week showed how the militants were aiming at officials allied with General Musharraf.

The government official, Amir Muqam, the minister for political affairs in the tribal areas, survived the suicide attack on his home. His cousin, who was also a government official, was killed in the blast.

The attempt on Mr. Muqam’s life sent a chill through the government. He was carefully chosen. He had been a member of a religious party alliance that was sympathetic to the militants, and then switched allegiance and joined the general’s political party, the Pakistani Muslim League, several years ago.

General Musharraf seemed so appreciative of Mr. Muqam, that he hailed him at a public ceremony as a special friend, and presented him with a pistol.

Even though the militants numbered only in the hundreds, they would give “a tough time to the army, and they will cost the army a lot,” said Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a military analyst in Lahore.

He said the army would probably be able to expel the militants from the cities and towns. But the militants would take shelter in the mountains, and could survive the winter unscathed.

The soldiers, almost all of whom do not come from the region and feel like outsiders there, are unprepared for what could amount to a guerrilla war, he said.

Another problem was the intense barrage of propaganda from the religious clerics in the region. The messages exhorting soldiers not to fight a “foreigners war,” meaning a war on behalf of the United States, had undermined the morale of the government paramilitary forces that were leading the fight, he said.

“The army has never faced such a serious challenge in the tribal areas or in Swat before,” Mr. Rizvi said.


5)After a Death, Use of Taser in Canada Is Debated
November 16, 2007

OTTAWA, Nov. 15 — A video recording showing an emotionally wrought immigrant dying after being hit with a police Taser at an airport last month has touched off a fierce debate in Canada on police actions in the case and the rules governing use of the weapon.

The 10-minute recording, which was widely broadcast Wednesday night, was made last month by another passenger and initially seized by the police. It shows a Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, being hit just 46 seconds after four members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived to subdue him at the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia. The recording also supports accounts from witnesses who said the police officers did not appear to be in danger when the weapon was fired at least twice.

Mr. Dziekanski was the 18th person to die since July 2003 after being hit by a Taser in Canada, a country where the weapons may be owned only by police forces. Amnesty International estimates that in the United States, a country with roughly nine times the population of Canada, 280 people have died after being struck by police Tasers since 2001. Tasers can also be used by civilians in many states.

Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International in Canada, which has called for a suspension of Taser use, said, “There is a very good likelihood that the Taser was used well before the situation called for it.”

The federal minister for public safety, Stockwell Day, said in Parliament on Wednesday that he had ordered a review of the police use of Tasers in Canada shortly after Mr. Dziekanski’s death.

Mr. Dziekanski, a 40-year-old construction worker, arrived in Vancouver on Oct. 14 to begin a new life with his mother. After a 10-hour delay caused by immigration processing, Mr. Dziekanski became upset when he could not find his mother, Zofia Cisowski, who waited several hours before returning to her home in Kamloops, British Columbia, under the mistaken impression that her son had not arrived in Canada.

Unable to speak English, Mr. Dziekanski became distressed and began shouting in Polish, moving furniture around, shoving a computer off a desk in an arrival area and, at one point, throwing a chair. His actions soon attracted the attention of other passengers and security officials.

The recording shows that when airport security officials first appeared, passengers could be heard shouting to them that Mr. Dziekanski did not understand English.

Moments later, four members of the Mounties arrive in the waiting area wearing bulletproof vests. Mr. Dziekanski repeatedly shouted either the Polish word for “help” or “police,” which sound similar, before walking away with his arms raised in the air. There was a brief conversation followed by a loud sound, apparently a Taser shot, and Mr. Dziekanski fell to the ground screaming in pain.

The recording captured what appeared to be a second Taser shot as three officers piled onto Mr. Dziekanski to subdue him. One minute and eight seconds after the police arrived, Mr. Dziekanski appeared to have stopped moving, and the recording ended shortly afterward.

An autopsy showed no evidence of alcohol or drugs in his system, but was unable to determine a cause of death.

The Polish government has sent two lawyers to Vancouver to investigate the death and raised the issue with Canadian officials and diplomats. After watching the recording, Piotr Ogrodzinski, the Polish ambassador to Canada, said he found the use of a Taser on Mr. Dziekanski to be excessive.

“He was desperately in search of assistance or help,” Mr. Ogrodzinski said. “He did break a computer and throw a stool, but there was no gesture suggesting that he intended to fight anybody. Here was a very helpless person, a disoriented person.”

When the police seized the recording at the airport from Paul Pritchard, who was returning home to Victoria, British Columbia, they characterized it as an important piece of evidence. Mr. Pritchard recovered the recording after threatening legal action and it was released it to the news media late Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Mounties, Cpl. Dale Carr, said, “It’s just one piece of evidence, one person’s view.”

A coroner’s inquest, which will not determine legal fault, has been ordered for the case. Some critics of the police are calling for criminal charges against the police officers.

The case is being reviewed by an independent commission that investigates complaints about the Mounties.


6) German Rail Strike Disrupts Travel and Freight
November 16, 2007

FRANKFURT, Nov. 15 — A bitter strike by train drivers in Germany has tied up freight traffic, shut down an auto factory and stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers in what has become the German state rail system’s largest work stoppage.

Since Thursday morning, when the three-day strike spread from freight trains to commuter and long-distance service, Germans have gotten a taste of the chaos in France, where the railroads are also paralyzed.

But while the French strike is the result of a power struggle between the labor unions and a new government, the German job action reflects what labor experts regard as a bold gamble by an isolated union.

The locomotive drivers’ union is demanding a 31 percent increase in wages from the Deutsche Bahn, the state company that operates Germany’s railroads — far more than the 4.5 percent raises agreed to in July by the company’s other, larger unions.

The Deutsche Bahn has rejected this initial demand, saying the union’s bid for a wage deal of its own would splinter Germany’s tradition of collective bargaining, in which several unions sign on to the same contract.

The union, known by its German initials as the G.D.L., argues that its members are paid less than train drivers, or engineers, in other European countries. It points to other skilled workers, like pilots and air-traffic controllers, who have begun organizing outside mainstream unions.

Strikes of this magnitude are rare in Germany, which values consensus in its labor relations, and rarer still when the employer is a state monopoly like the Deutsche Bahn. No other big union is supporting the strike, nor is the German federation of trade unions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far declined to intervene but has expressed qualms about giving the union an exclusive contract. Government officials, who are seeking to privatize the railway, pleaded with the two sides to sit down for negotiations.

That seems unlikely in the short term, given the stream of vitriol from the company and the union.

“What I cannot understand is that the country can be raped — as it has been for months now — just because Deutsche Bahn management refuses to take up negotiations,” Manfred Schell, the union’s tough-talking leader, said in an interview on German public television.

The Deutsche Bahn accused the union, which it says represents only 3 percent of the railroad’s work force, of seeking to increase its power.

“Stop this insanity, Mr. Schell!” it said in a full-page advertisement in several German newspapers. It sued the union for 5 million euros ($7.3 million) in damages from a strike in July.

As each side digs in, the strike threatens to dent the German economy, which has hummed along nicely for the last year but is showing signs of slowing. The Deutsche Bahn said the strike was costing 50 million euros ($73 million) a day, and could cost more than $700 million if it lasted more than a week.

Among companies, Audi said it canceled three shifts at its factory in Brussels because of delays in deliveries of body panels for its cars. The panels are made in Bratislava, Slovakia, and transported across Germany by train.

“The major problems are in eastern Germany, where there are huge delays,” an Audi spokesman, Eric Felber, said.

New cars are piling up outside factories as Audi and other carmakers, which depend heavily on trains, look for other ways to ship them. The port of Hamburg has become clogged with containers.

For the Deutsche Bahn, the standoff comes at a bad time. Chancellor Merkel’s government hopes to sell as much as 49 percent of the company on the market by 2009. But even before the strike, the plan was bogging down in squabbles between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, who govern Germany in an increasingly fractious coalition.

“This strategy isn’t very good for Deutsche Bahn’s reputation,” said Hermann Reichold, a professor of labor law at the University of Tübingen. “They can’t afford this kind of chaos.”

The stakes for the G.D.L. are even higher. Founded in 1867, it says it is Germany’s oldest union. But it has become a renegade, breaking with other unions in wage negotiations with Deutsche Bahn because it felt the interests of its rank and file were not being served.

Some critics of organized labor say the G.D.L. is no different from any other German union — fighting to stay relevant with an aging membership and dwindling influence. But the union says only 35 percent of its 34,000 members are retired, a number that has not changed in a decade, and that it has not lost members.

“We don’t feel isolated,” Claus Weselsky, the union’s vice chairman, said in an interview. “We’re convinced the future of labor lies in these highly organized unions for specialized workers. The big unions can’t serve them.”

French Strike Is Extended

PARIS, Nov. 15 — Travelers and commuters in France were resigning themselves to a third day of transport disruptions after unions voted Thursday to extend a national strike for at least another day. But there were signs that the walkout might be losing momentum after the government offered to negotiate on its pension overhaul plan.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose plans to change retirement benefits for 500,000 public employees prompted the strike, has granted a request by labor leaders for a meeting of unions, companies and a government representative.

The French labor minister, Xavier Bertrand, has made clear that the centerpiece of the overhaul, which would increase the number of years required for public employees to be eligible for pensions, was not negotiable.

But in a letter to unions Wednesday night, he proposed a one-month period to discuss ways of making the changes acceptable to each of the public companies that still offer the early-retirement benefits in question, notably state-controlled transportation companies and utilities.

“Our red lines are known. They haven’t changed,” Mr. Sarkozy’s spokesman, David Martinon, said Thursday. He also seemed confident that a quick end to the walkout was possible, adding, “We are not pessimistic.”

Commuters, meanwhile, were bracing for more disruptions. Extensive traffic jams were reported Thursday in and around Paris.


7) Red Cross Monitors Barred From Guantánamo
November 16, 2007

A confidential 2003 manual for operating the Guantánamo detention center shows that military officials had a policy of denying detainees access to independent monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The manual said one goal was to “exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee,” by denying access to the Koran and by preventing visits with Red Cross representatives, who have a long history of monitoring the conditions under which prisoners in international conflicts are held. The document said that even after their initial weeks at Guantánamo, some detainees would not be permitted to see representatives of the International Red Cross, known as the I.C.R.C.

It was permissible, the document said, for some long-term detainees to have “No access. No contact of any kind with the I.C.R.C.”

Some legal experts and advocates for detainees said yesterday that the policy might have violated international law, which provides for such monitoring to assure humanitarian treatment and to limit the ability of governments to hold detainees secretly.

The document, a two-inch-thick operations manual, was first posted on Wikileaks, a Web site that encourages posting of leaked materials. Military officials said that the manual appeared genuine but described outdated policies and that all Guantánamo detainees could now see Red Cross monitors. In response to critics’ assertions that the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, may have violated international law, a spokesman, Lt. Col. Edward M. Bush III, said, “I am in no position to speculate about what happened in 2003.”

Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the organization was aware that it was not seeing all Guantánamo detainees from 2002, when the detention camp was opened, to 2004. He said the policies outlined in the manual “run counter to the manner in which the I.C.R.C. conducts its detention visits at Guantánamo Bay and around the world.”

He added that Red Cross officials worked with American officials “to resolve this issue confidentially, since gaining access to all detainees in full accordance with its standard practice was paramount.”

The Red Cross has been critical of Guantánamo, saying publicly in 2003 that keeping detainees indefinitely without allowing them to know their fate was unacceptable and, in confidential reports, that the physical and psychological treatment of detainees amounted to torture.

The manual is a detailed directive of standard operating procedures at Guantánamo intended for use by the hundreds of people involved in running the detention camp. It provides one of the most complete portraits of the rules of the camp in its early days, when it was a largely closed place where detainees were not publicly identified.

In some instances, the manual echoed the arguments then being advanced by Washington officials as they fended off criticism of Guantánamo. The manual described point-by-point instructions for many camp procedures, including feeding and restraining detainees, and forced extraction of inmates from their cells by military troops. It said a major goal was to foster detainees’ dependence on their interrogators, in part by isolating them. In a section labeled “psychological deterrence,” the manual said military working dogs should be walked in the camp “to demonstrate physical presence to detainees.”

The spokesman, Colonel Bush, said yesterday that dogs were no longer used at the detention camp.

Some international law experts said yesterday that they were startled that military officials had put in writing a policy of denying the Red Cross access to prisoners.

“The world recognizes that the I.C.R.C. should get access” to prison camps, said Richard J. Wilson, a law professor at American University who was until recently a lawyer for a Guantánamo detainee.

Deborah N. Pearlstein, a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, said international principles were aimed at preventing governments from “disappearing” opponents. “I.C.R.C. access and the obligation to record and account for detainees is very clear under international law,” Ms. Pearlstein said.

The military spokesman, Colonel Bush, said: “All I can tell you is what we do today. And the absolute policy now, today, is that the I.C.R.C. is granted access to everything.”


8) Gap Campaigns Against Child Labor
November 16, 2007

NEW DELHI, Nov. 15 — Gap has begun an effort to rebuild its reputation after a child-labor scandal in India, announcing a package of measures on Thursday intended to tighten its commitment to eradicating the exploitation of children in the manufacture of its goods.

Embarrassed by reports that some GapKids clothes had been hand-embroidered by child workers in Delhi, Gap said it would refine its procedures to ensure that items made in textile workshops in India were not being produced by children.

It also announced a grant of $200,000 to improve working conditions and said it would hold an international conference next year to come up with solutions for issues related to child labor.

The statement from the company came after an internal investigation by a British newspaper, The Observer, which printed pictures last month of children making clothes for Gap in a sweatshop. The newspaper reported that children, some as young as 10, were working for up to 16 hours a day to embroider clothes, some of them bearing Gap labels and bar codes.

The company’s president, Marka Hansen, said in an open letter to customers that the children who were found to be embroidering decorations on blouses for toddlers for Gap would be paid until they were of working age and then offered employment.

“They’ll also get the back wages and education they deserve,” she wrote in the letter, which was posted on the company’s Web site.

Bhuwan Ribhu, of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a Delhi-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to outlawing child labor, welcomed the announcement. “They say they believe child labor should be eliminated,” he said. “This is a good start.”

His organization is caring for 14 children, all thought to be younger than 14, who were removed by the police at the end of October from the shop where the Gap clothes were made. They are staying at a children’s home run by the organization until their case is investigated and a court issues a release certificate allowing them to return to their villages in West Bengal.

The statement from Gap said that the vendor that got the Gap order for the children’s clothes had employed a rural community center to do the embroidery work but that this entity had subcontracted the work to a Delhi workshop where children were employed. While auditing in factories is relatively straightforward, checking conditions in the informal workshops where hand embroidery is done is harder.

The company said it had suspended 50 percent of orders placed with the vendor for the next six months and placed it on probation, demanding that it make “significant improvements to its oversight of its subcontractors who handle this type of work.”

Shireen Miller, head of policy at Save the Children, said Gap had a responsibility to check working practices along the entire supply chain, even the fields where cotton is produced for the clothes.

Official figures suggest that about 12 million children are working in India, but some opponents of child labor estimate the actual figure could be closer to 60 million.

The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act in India prohibits the employment of children younger than 14 in hazardous jobs, which includes work in the embroidery industry.


9) In Mississippi, Poor Lag in Hurricane Aid
November 16, 2007

GULFPORT, Miss., Nov. 14 — Like the other Gulf Coast states battered by Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi was required by Congress to spend half of its billions in federal grant money to help low-income citizens trying to recover from the storm.

But so far, the state has spent $1.7 billion in federal money on programs that have mostly benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses. The money has gone to compensate many middle- and upper-income homeowners, to aid utility companies whose equipment was damaged and to prop up the state’s insurance system.

Just $167 million, or about 10 percent of the federal money, has been spent on programs dedicated to helping the poor, mostly through a smaller grant program for lower-income homeowners.

And while that total will certainly increase, Mississippi has set aside just 23 percent of its $5.5 billion grant money — $1.25 billion — for these programs. About 37 percent of the residents of the state’s coast are low income, according to federal figures.

Mississippi is the only state for which the Bush administration has waived the rule that 50 percent of its Community Development Block Grants be spent on low-income programs, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the program. It is also the only state to ask for such waivers.

State officials, from Gov. Haley Barbour on down, insist that the state does not discriminate by race or income when it hands out aid to storm victims.

“We feel like we have programs in place to address all walks of life,” said Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, which administers the federally financed grant programs.

Any delays in spending money on low-income projects have been caused by the complexity of creating the projects, said Donna Sanford, director of the disaster recovery program for the development authority. The state, Ms. Sanford said, “has done everything that we can to keep it on track and moving as fast as possible to meet the needs of everyone.”

Nonetheless, resentment at being left out of Mississippi’s economic recovery has been stirring in poor communities along the coast, and nowhere more so than in this city, hit hard by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge, where the state plans to spend $600 million of the federal money to repair and improve its shipping port.

Though the expansion will increase employment here, historically very few port jobs have gone to low-income residents.

Some critics contend that the main interest of state leaders in spending community development dollars is to help big businesses like shipbuilders and casinos and the port.

The state’s spending plan “moves business to the forefront and forgets about the people on the ground,” said Anthony Thompson, pastor at Tabernacle of Faith Ministries, whose spotless church (rebuilt by volunteers) is next to a moldering subsidized housing project that he says has not been touched since the storm.

In his mostly black neighborhood in west Gulfport, Mr. Thompson said, “I see a lot of people waiting on help; I see a lot of houses still damaged.”

State officials say that programs not limited to lower-income residents help them nevertheless.

The aid to utilities helped everyone on the coast, including renters, officials say. And almost a third of the families who got money from the state’s main housing compensation program were low-income, which in Gulfport would mean an annual income of less than $39,000 a year for a family of four.

The nature of that program helps explain the unhappiness in some neighborhoods. It provided grants of up to $150,000 to homeowners who lived outside of the federally defined flood plain and so did not have flood insurance to cover their losses when their houses were swamped by the storm surge.

To be eligible, families had to have carried regular homeowners’ insurance, so that, as the governor said when he was selling the plan to Congress, “we’re not bailing out irresponsible people.”

But advocates for the poor said that requirement barred many of the least affluent, especially retirees and the disabled, who live on fixed incomes. “The fact is, people who have no money choose food and medicine, and not insurance,” said Ashley Tsongas, a policy adviser for the aid group Oxfam America. “That moral superiority doesn’t recognize the reality people face.”

Renters were also excluded from the program, as they were in Louisiana, and homeowners who had wind damage were also not covered. Some federal officials have said Louisiana’s decision to help cover wind losses is one reason its program almost ran out of money.

Two-thirds of Mississippi’s block grants have not yet been spent. In fact, few of the coastal states have spent much of their grant money, with the exception of Louisiana, which has already used almost half of its original allotment and just received an additional $3 billion for its home-rebuilding program.

Because fewer applicants than expected applied for Mississippi’s assistance program, the state still has almost $2 billion left, some of which it plans to use for community development projects and for the port expansion.

The port, at the foot of Gulfport’s main street, flies a Chiquita banner under its American flag; fruit imports remain down but are bouncing back, though exports of frozen poultry have stopped since the storm destroyed the port’s refrigerated warehouses. The state says that the expansion will add about 1,000 jobs over the next five years, and that many of those will be reserved for low-income residents.

But some community advocates are dubious, noting that before the storm only 10 percent of the port jobs went to low-income residents. They also think the cost per job will be too high.

And they note that the port’s own master plan envisions a new tourist and casino development. “It’s not all about bananas,” said Reilly Morse, a lawyer for the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Mr. Morse and many others who oppose the port plan say the state should first ensure that all the families now living in more than 10,000 government trailers have a permanent place to live, that rental housing gets built and that all homeowners can repair their houses.

“I don’t have any problem with economic development and expanding the port, but not at the cost of people,” said James W. Crowell, president of the N.A.A.C.P. branch in Biloxi, just down the beach from Gulfport.

Brent Warr, who became Gulfport’s mayor just months before the storm, called the port expansion “an incredible opportunity for the city,” and said he had been assured that the new facilities would be devoted to maritime use, not to gambling and cruise ships. “We don’t have to make this community about neon and chrome,” he said.

Asked about the frustrations some residents have about the lack of aid in their communities, Mr. Warr said it would take time, because the development authority has to create programs all at once while making sure the money is well spent. “It’s like taking a funnel and packing it so full of money that nothing can come out,” he said.

Dorothy J. McClendon fears that none of that money will reach her east Gulfport neighborhood, Soria City, where she leads a civic group with the modest motto, “Moving Toward a Drug-Free Community.”

Because it is north of the railroad tracks which serve as a sort of levee, the neighborhood did not flood, so residents cannot get state grants, Ms. McClendon said. Few had insurance to cover their wind-damaged roofs; she is sleeping on a couch in her living room because she fears that the water-damaged ceiling in her bedroom is going to fall.

Repairs to public works and economic development projects appear to happening elsewhere; Soria City’s main business is a tiny shop selling sodas and snacks and 25-cent cigarettes. Even the program to help small landlords does not apply to this neighborhood, Ms. McClendon said, because while there are plenty of properties that could be fixed up and rented out, few were occupied right before the storm, as the program requires.

“But we’re here, we’re hurting,” she said. “We need help, too.”


10) Ford Scraps Plans for New Assembly Plant
November 16, 2007

DETROIT, Nov. 15 — The car factory of the future is becoming a thing of the past.

The Ford Motor Company said Thursday that it scrapped plans to build one such factory, a “low cost” assembly plant that it had promised to put somewhere in North America.

Ford, which last year said the plant would be an important part of its revamping effort, now says it is not needed, because the company’s newly ratified contract with the United Automobile Workers union allows it to save money by paying lower wages to many workers at existing plants.

The low-cost plant is also unnecessary because Ford agreed in the contract not to close assembly plants in Wayne, Mich., and Louisville, Ky., and still has more production capacity than it is expected to use in the near future.

“A lot of the flexibility that you would achieve in a greenfield site is pretty much available to them under the terms of the new U.A.W. contract,” said Greg Gardner, an analyst with Harbour Consulting in Troy, Mich; “greenfield site” is an industry term for a new plant.

Ford had promoted the plant, which it called “a new low-cost manufacturing site for the future,” as part of its strategy to become “America’s car company,” as William Clay Ford Jr., then its chief executive and now executive chairman, said when he announced the company’s revamping plan in January 2006. (The restructuring plan, known as the Way Forward, was expanded later that year.)

Ford never identified where it planned to build the plant, but experts said the most probable location was Mexico, where the carmaker already has several factories and can pay workers less.

The Canadian Automobile Workers union also lobbied Ford to build the plant in Canada, using empty space inside one of the company’s factories. But the strong Canadian dollar, as well as Ford’s falling American market share, worked against that idea.

The factory would have built small cars, which automakers generally import from countries with low labor costs so that they can sell them in the United States at a profit.

General Motors had a similar concept in mind for its Saturn Corporation factory in Spring Hill, Tenn., which was intended to compete with low-cost factories run by Japanese automakers when it opened in 1990.

The plant narrowly avoided being closed as part of G.M.’s restructuring plan and today operates no differently than any of G.M.’s 18 other car factories. After an $800 million overhaul, Spring Hill will build Chevrolet crossover vehicles and, eventually, sport utility vehicles.

In 1992, G.M. closed another plant the company had hailed as its “factory of the future”: one in Saginaw, Mich., where robots could build vehicles in the dark because it needed no human workers. The plant, called Saginaw Vanguard, opened a decade earlier as part of a campaign by G.M.’s former chairman, Roger B. Smith, to increase productivity through automation.

When Ford announced plans for the low-cost plant, assemblers made an average of about $28 an hour. Now, as part of its new four-year contract with the U.A.W., it can pay newly hired workers — up to 20 percent of its work force — as little as $14.20 an hour.

Ford said its costs for each new hire would be $26 to $31 an hour, including benefits, about 68 percent less than for current workers. Retirement costs for the new hires, who will have 401(k) plans rather than the traditional pension plans that current workers have, will also be much less.

Ford’s vice president for labor affairs, Martin J. Mulloy, said the contract comes “very close” to eliminating what Ford had said was a $30-per-hour labor cost gap between itself and nonunion foreign-based competitors but does not go “all the way” toward doing so. The company expects to save $1.2 billion a year in cash from the deal, which shifts $23.7 billion in retiree health care liabilities to an independent trust.

“The contract terms significantly improve Ford’s competitiveness and provide the flexibility for the company to continue to pursue its restructuring efforts,” Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said on a conference call with reporters and analysts Thursday.

To make room for new hires, Ford plans to offer another round of buyouts to hourly workers, although it gave no details of the program. Besides keeping open the two previously doomed assembly plants in Michigan and Kentucky, Ford said it would not close component plants in Dearborn, Wayne and Ypsilanti, Mich. By replacing many workers at those plants with new hires at the lower wage rate, Ford said building more parts at its own factories became cheaper than buying them from suppliers.

“It makes sense to keep that work in-house and not send it outside,” said Joseph R. Hinrichs, Ford’s vice president for manufacturing in North America.


11) It’s Not Just the Uninsured
Op-Ed Columnist
November 17, 2007

Sandra Hightower never thought of herself as particularly political. She worked, and much of her free time revolved around her daughter, Brittney, a fiercely outgoing teenager with a passion for cheerleading at her high school in Nacogdoches, Tex.

But “after getting slapped in the face with reality,” Ms. Hightower said she’s ready to go to Washington herself if that would help get Congress to do something about the health insurance crisis that is responsible for so much unnecessary suffering and death in the U.S.

The tedious, hair-splitting debates over health care that we’re getting from the presidential candidates — those who talk about health care at all — seem out of sync with the enormity of the problem. For families without the protection of health insurance, the devastating combination of serious illness and imminent financial ruin can be absolutely mind-numbing, stunning in its tragic intensity.

For Sandra Hightower, the nightmare began in the summer of 2005 when Brittney had to have a cyst on an ovary removed. More cysts developed and in early 2006 doctors found that Brittney had cancer. She underwent surgery in Houston and the prognosis, according to Ms. Hightower, was good. “Everything was fine,” she said. “All results came back clear.”

Ms. Hightower did not think at the time that she would take too much of a financial hit because she had health insurance at her job, and the policy covered Brittney.

“All I had on my mind was Brittney,” she said.

The cancer recurred three or four months later and more surgery was required, followed by chemotherapy. The 15-year-old who loved to dance, and who wasn’t sure whether she wanted to be a model or a pediatric nurse, was now having to battle for her life like a warrior in combat.

The next round of bad news came in a double dose. One night, after coming home from school, Brittney suddenly found that she couldn’t walk. The cancer had attacked her spinal cord. As the doctors geared up to treat this new disaster, Ms. Hightower received word that her insurance policy had maxed out. The company would not pay for any further treatment.

Ms. Hightower was aghast: “I said, ‘What do you mean? It was supposed to be a $3 million policy.’ ”

She hadn’t understood that there was an annual limit of $75,000 on benefits. “It was just devastating when they told me that,” she said.

Most of the debate about access to health care has centered on people without insurance. But there are cases like this one all over the country in which individuals are working and paying for coverage that, perversely, kicks out when a devastating illness kicks in.

Americans with inadequate health coverage — the underinsured — are a major component of the national health care crisis. Like the uninsured, they can be denied desperately needed treatment for financial reasons; they often suffer financial ruin; and in many cases they die unnecessarily.

“This is a very significant problem,” said Daniel Smith, president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. “We want to help educate Americans more broadly about the idea that while they think they might be insured, when they’re diagnosed with something as devastating as cancer their policies may not give them the coverage they need.”

Sandra Hightower became almost frantic with the combined tasks of caring for her daughter and trying to figure out how to pay for the increasingly expensive treatments.

“Her back surgery, with the reconstruction and all that, was over three hundred and some thousand dollars,” she said. “I had to start doing fund-raisers, bake sales. And the community kicked in, my community here in Nacogdoches. Definitely the high school. And people donated to a benefit fund at the bank.”

After several months, Brittney was declared eligible for federal disability benefits, which enabled her to qualify for Medicaid. “But we still owed for everything before that,” said Ms. Hightower.

Brittney fought like crazy to survive, her mother said. But in the end, she didn’t make it. She died, at age 16, on June 5.

“I see her everywhere,” said Ms. Hightower, who still owes thousands of dollars in medical bills. “When I go to the grocery store, I see her favorite food. I go shopping, and I see the perfect little outfit that she would love.

“I’m so lost right now. And I feel like I failed my baby because I couldn’t bring in all the help she needed.”

Last week, I mistakenly wrote that the Consumer Price Index does not take into account the cost of food and energy. It’s the “core” C.P.I. that does not take those costs into account.


12) Chávez’s Vision Shares Wealth and Centers Power
November 17, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 16 — In two weeks, Venezuela seems likely to start an extraordinary experiment in centralized, oil-fueled socialism. By law, the workday would be cut to six hours. Street vendors, homemakers and maids would have state-mandated pensions. And President Hugo Chávez would have significantly enhanced powers and be eligible for re-election for the rest of his life.

A sweeping revision of the Constitution, expected to be approved by referendum on Dec. 2, is both bolstering Mr. Chávez’s popularity here among people who would benefit and stirring contempt from economists who declare it demagogy. Signaling new instability here, dissent is also emerging among his former lieutenants, one of whom says the president is carrying out a populist coup.

“There is a perverse subversion of our existing Constitution under way,” said Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel, a retired defense minister and former confidant of Mr. Chávez who broke with him in a stunning defection this month to the political opposition. “This is not a reform,” General Baduel said in an interview here this week. “I categorize it as a coup d’état.”

Chávez loyalists already control the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, almost every state government, the entire federal bureaucracy and newly nationalized companies in the telephone, electricity and oil industries. Soon they could control even more.

But this is an upheaval that would be carried out with the approval of the voters. While opinion polls in Venezuela are often tainted by partisanship, they suggest that the referendum could be Mr. Chávez’s closest electoral test since his presidency began in 1999, but one he may well win.

“We are witnessing a seizure and redirection of power through legitimate means,” said Alberto Barrera Tyszka, co-author of a best-selling biography of Mr. Chávez. “This is not a dictatorship but something more complex: the tyranny of popularity.”

One of the 69 amendments allows Mr. Chávez to create new administrative regions, governed by vice presidents chosen by him. Critics say the reforms would also shift funds from states and cities, where a handful of elected officials still oppose him, to communal councils, new local governing entities that are predominantly pro-Chávez.

Interviews this week on the streets here and in Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second largest city, offer a window into the strength of Mr. Chávez’s followers and the challenges of his critics. His supporters, many of whom are public servants in a bureaucracy that has recently ballooned, have flooded poor districts to campaign for the overhaul.

“The comandante should have more power because he is the force behind our revolution,” said Egda Vilchez, 51, a pro-Chávez activist, as she campaigned in favor of the new charter this week at a busy intersection in Cacique Mara, an area of slums in eastern Maracaibo.

Such statements may sound dogmatic, but they are voiced with a fervor in organized campaigning that is unmatched in richer areas of Venezuela’s largest cities, from which much of the opposition to Mr. Chávez is drawn.

Aside from a nascent student movement, which has held protests of increasing defiance in recent weeks, the middle and upper classes seem largely resigned about the outcome of a referendum that is less about specific issues than Mr. Chávez’s resilient support among the poor.

In comments after a summit of Latin American leaders this month in Chile, Mr. Chávez laid out his project in simple language. “Capitalist Venezuela is entering its grave,” he said, “and socialist Venezuela is being born.” Indeed, socialist imagery is pervasive throughout this country, from the red shirts worn by Mr. Chávez and his followers to the chant of “Fatherland, socialism or death!” repeated at the end of his rallies.

But walking into a grocery store here offers a different view of the changes washing over Venezuela. Combined with price controls that keep farmers from profitably producing some basic foods, climbing incomes of the poorest Venezuelans have stripped supermarket aisles bare of items like milk and eggs. Meanwhile, foreign exchange controls create bottlenecks for importers seeking to meet rising demand for many products.

Such imbalances plague oil economies elsewhere, with oil revenues often making it cheaper to import goods than produce them at home. But the system Mr. Chávez is creating is perhaps unique: a hybrid of state-supported enterprises and no-holds-barred capitalism in which 500,000 automobiles are expected to be sold this year.

Lacking here, for instance, is the authoritarianism one might expect in a country where billboards promoting Mr. Chávez have proliferated in the last year.

Looming above the Centro San Ignacio, a high-end shopping mall here, is one of the president hugging a child while he explains the “motors” of his revolution. Others show him kissing old women, decorating graduates of the military university and embracing an ally, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Beneath these images, a lack of order persists at the street level, reflecting a state flush with oil money but weak when facing systemic problems like violent crime. The country had 9,568 homicides in the first nine months of this year, a 9 percent increase from the same period last year.

Private companies here, meanwhile, are in the awkward position of profiting from a growing economy even as many are dreading what is to come, their fears illustrated by the accelerating capital flight that has caused the currency, the bolívar, to plunge in value against the dollar since Mr. Chávez proposed the constitutional overhaul in August.

Sparse details as to how Mr. Chávez’s government would carry out measures like a six-hour workday or finance a new social security system have done little for economic confidence, with Fedecámaras, the country’s main business association, urging voters to oppose the new charter “by all legal means.”

The proposals have also revealed sharp divisions among the president’s own supporters, symbolized by the sharp criticism from General Baduel, who had helped reinstall Mr. Chávez in power after a brief coup in 2002.

Marisabel Rodríguez, the president’s ex-wife and former first lady, came out against the new charter this week, saying it would lead to “absolute concentration of power.” And previously pro-Chávez governors like Ramón Martínez of Sucre State, sensing their power could be curtailed, have begun criticizing the measures.

Under the project, term limits would be abolished only for the president, not for governors or mayors. Another item raises the threshold for collecting signatures to hold a vote to recall the president, effectively shielding him from one option voters have to challenge his power under the existing Constitution of 1999.

Other measures in the project are considered progressive by both critics of Mr. Chávez and his political base, which includes leftist military officials, academics, civil servants and a large portion of the urban and rural poor.

The voting age in this demographically young country, for instance, would be lowered to 16 from 18. Discrimination based on sexual orientation would also be prohibited. Many of the items are vaguely worded, however, like one giving the president the power to create “communal cities.”

“Clearly there are positive aspects to the reform, but the government has committed a political error by trying to rush it to voters without enough discussion,” said Edgardo Lander, a sociologist at the Central University of Venezuela who is generally sympathetic to Mr. Chávez. “The opposition can argue this is illegitimate if it is approved by a low margin.”

Mr. Chávez, 53, who recently hinted at staying in power until 2031, might also be preparing for resistance here if oil revenues prove insufficient to finance his ambitions. One of the reforms allows him to declare states of emergency during which he can censor television stations and newspapers.

“Chávez wants to liquidate challenges to his rule to enable him to govern Venezuela for the rest of his life,” Manuel Rosales, governor of Zulia State and the main challenger to Mr. Chávez in presidential elections last year, said in an interview at his office in Maracaibo.


13) Immigration Dilemma: A Mother Torn From a Baby
November 17, 2007

Federal immigration agents were searching a house in Ohio last month when they found a young Honduran woman nursing her baby.

The woman, Saída Umanzor, is an illegal immigrant and was taken to jail to await deportation. Her 9-month-old daughter, Brittney Bejarano, who was born in the United States and is a citizen, was put in the care of social workers.

The decision to separate a mother from her breast-feeding child drew strong denunciations from Hispanic and women’s health groups. Last week, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency rushed to issue new guidelines on the detention of nursing mothers, allowing them to be released unless they pose a national security risk.

The case exposes a recurring quandary for immigration authorities as an increasing number of American-born children of illegal immigrants become caught up in deportation operations. With the Bush administration stepping up enforcement, the immigration agency has been left scrambling to devise procedures to deal with children who, by law, do not fall under its jurisdiction because they are citizens.

“We are faced with these sorts of situations frequently, where a large number of individuals come illegally or overstay and have children in the United States,” said Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for the agency. “Unfortunately, the parents are putting their children in these difficult situations.”

Yesterday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released new written guidelines for agents, establishing how they should treat single parents, pregnant women, nursing mothers and other immigrants with special child or family care responsibilities who are arrested in raids.

The guidelines, which codify practices in use for several months and apply mainly to larger raids, instruct agents to coordinate with federal and local health service agencies to screen immigrants who are arrested to determine if they are caring for young children or other dependents who may be at risk. The agents must consider recommendations from social workers who interview detained immigrants about whether they should be released to their families while awaiting deportation.

The new guidelines were a response to intense criticism from officials in Massachusetts about one raid, at a backpack factory in New Bedford in March. They do not specifically address the American citizen children affected by raids, whose numbers have only become clear in recent months.

About two-thirds of the children of the illegal immigrants detained in immigration raids in the past year were born in the United States, according to a study by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute, groups that have pushed for gentler deportation policies for immigrant families.

Based on that finding, at least 13,000 American children have seen one or both parents deported in the past two years after round-ups in factories and neighborhoods. The figures are expected to grow. Over all, about 3.1 million American children have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant, according to a widely accepted estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

Under the 14th Amendment, any child born in the United States is a citizen and cannot be deported. But with very rare exceptions, immigration law does not allow United States citizen children to confer legal status on parents who are illegal immigrants, until the children are 18 years old. While the federal government does not keep statistics on the children of deportees, immigration lawyers said that most immigrants who are deported take their children with them, even if the children are American citizens.

“Children have no rights to keep family members here because they are citizens,” said Jacqueline Bhabha, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who specializes in citizenship law. When parents face deportation, she said, the law “penalizes United States citizen children by forcing them to choose between their family and their country.”

Ms. Umanzor, 26, was arrested in her home on Maple Street in Conneaut, Ohio, on Oct. 26 and was released 11 days later on orders of Julie L. Myers, the head of the immigration agency. While in detention, Ms. Umanzor did not see her daughter Brittney, who had been fed only breast milk before her mother’s arrest. Ms. Umanzor remains under house arrest with Brittney and her two other children in Conneaut, 70 miles east of Cleveland, under an order for deportation. Her lawyer, David W. Leopold, has asked that her deportation be delayed on humanitarian grounds.

Ms. Umanzor had been at home with two of her three children, both American citizens, when the immigration agents arrived, along with a county police officer carrying a criminal warrant for a brother-in-law of Ms. Umanzor who also lived in the house.

As the agents searched, Ms. Umanzor breast-fed her jittery baby, she recalled in an interview after her release.

The baby was born in January in Oregon, where Ms. Umanzor’s husband, also Honduran and an illegal immigrant, was working in a saw mill.

Through a quick records check during the raid, the immigration agents discovered a July 2006 order of deportation for Ms. Umanzor, who had failed to appear for a court date after she was caught crossing a Texas border river illegally.

The agents detained her as a fugitive. She was forced to leave both Brittney and the other American daughter, Alexandra, who is 3, since the agents could not detain them.

“Just thinking that I was going to leave my little girl, I began to feel sick,” Ms. Umanzor said of the baby. “I had a pain in my heart.”

Ms. Umanzor turned over her daughters to social workers from the Ashtabula County Children Services Board, who had been summoned by the immigration authorities. In all, the social workers took in six children who lived in the Maple Street house, including Ms. Umanzor’s oldest child, a son born in Honduras. They also included three children of Ms. Umanzor’s sister, an illegal immigrant who was at work that day. Four of the children were born in the United States.

In jail and with her nursing abruptly halted, Ms. Umanzor’s breasts become painfully engorged. With the help of Veronica Dahlberg, director of a Hispanic women’s group in Ashtabula County, a breast pump was delivered on her third day in jail. Brittney, meanwhile, did not eat for three days, refusing to take formula from a bottle, Ms. Dahlberg said.

After four days, the county released all six children to Ms. Umanzor’s sister, who managed to wean Brittney to a bottle.

On Nov. 7, after two dozen women’s health advocates and researchers sent a letter protesting Ms. Umanzor’s detention, Ms. Myers issued a memorandum instructing field officers “to exercise discretion” during arrests by releasing nursing mothers from detention unless they presented a national security or public safety risk.

In cases where the breast-feeding children were United States citizens and entitled to public services, Ms. Myers urged the officers to seek assistance from social agencies to “maintain the unity of the mother and child.”

In their study, released this month, La Raza, a national Hispanic organization, and the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, examined three factory raids in the past year, in Greeley, Colo.; Grand Island, Neb.; and New Bedford. A total of 912 adults arrested in the raids had 506 children among them, three-quarters of whom were under 10 years old. About 340 of those children were born in the United States.

The study found that the children faced economic hardship after one or both of their bread-winning parents were detained or deported. Many families hid for days or longer in their homes, sometimes retreating to basements, the study reported. Although many children showed symptoms of emotional distress, family members were reluctant to seek public assistance for them, even if the children were citizens, fearing new arrests of relatives who were illegal immigrants.

Groups advocating curbs on immigration say that children of illegal immigrants cannot be spared the consequences of their parents’ legal violations just because they are American citizens.

“Children are not human shields,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Nobody wants to hurt anybody’s kids. But any time parents break the law, it has an impact on their children.”

Joseph Hammell, a lawyer from the Minnesota firm of Dorsey & Whitney who is conducting a separate legal survey of recent raids for the Urban Institute, noted that the authorities were guided by immigration law, which includes few of the protections for citizen children that are basic in family and criminal courts.

“In the context of immigration and deportation proceedings,” Mr. Hammell said, “we are completely out of step with our societal values of protecting the best interests of our children.”

Ms. Nantel, the immigration agency spokeswoman, said the primary responsibility for the plight of the American children of illegal immigrants rests with parents who violated the law. “It’s a challenging situation” for the agency, Ms. Nantel said. “It’s unfortunate that children are impacted negatively by the decisions of their parents.”


14) Striking to Protect Gains, With Eye on the Future
November 17, 2007

Suddenly, it seems, organized labor is flexing its muscles again.

In the first strike in its 121-year history, the stagehands’ union local in New York has shut down much of Broadway, while a walkout by 12,000 Hollywood writers is creating havoc for television and film producers. These work stoppages come on the heels of brief strikes by 74,000 workers at General Motors and 45,000 at Chrysler.

Do the walkouts portend a resurgence of labor, even a new union militancy? The answer, for various reasons, appears to be no.

Harley Shaiken, a labor relations expert at the University of California, Berkeley, said the disputes showed that unions, although weaker than before and going on strike far less frequently than before, will not shrink from some battles.

“To paraphrase Mark Twain, all this shows that reports of the death of strikes are greatly exaggerated,” he said. But many labor experts said the strikes resulted not from a newfound aggressiveness, but from a defensive effort by unions to hold onto what they have.

When 350 stagehands went on strike last Saturday, closing down 27 Broadway shows, it was after the producers announced a policy that would reduce the number of stagehands per production as well as the overtime that stagehands would receive. The theater producers complained that the old union contract had unreasonably increased their costs on many shows by calling for more workers than necessary.

In Detroit, G.M. and Chrysler workers went on strike after the automakers, with higher labor costs than their Japanese competitors, demanded a less costly health plan for retirees and a lower wage scale for new hires. Some auto workers said union leaders had orchestrated short strikes to try to convince the rank and file that they had fought their hardest; the union leaders described the strikes as effective bargaining tactics.

“These aren’t strikes to explore new territory, but rather to protect past gains — to prevent deterioration in working conditions and job security,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “All this shows that management is getting stronger and much more confrontational.”

Detroit’s automakers, in their struggle to compete against Toyota and Honda, took their toughest bargaining position in decades. The latest U.A.W. talks seemed light-years removed from those of a half-century ago when, with each round of negotiations, the mighty union would win an ever-better health plan or pension.

U.A.W. leaders said they agreed to concessions with Detroit’s Big Three because the union and its members have a stake in seeing the automakers grow competitive and survive.

The Writers Guild took to the picket lines after Hollywood producers refused to increase the payments they give writers from sales of DVDs and refused to offer extra payments when many works were used in new media like the Internet or cellphone transmissions. Many writers were seething that the producers continued to offer them only around 5 cents in payment per DVD.

“In all these situations, management basically said you do what we want you to do or you have to stage a strike, and the union viewed a strike as a good piece of strategic leverage,” said Richard W. Hurd, a professor of labor relations at Cornell University.

He saw an important parallel between the disputes in Hollywood and Detroit. “The unions there are struggling to keep up with the changing structure of the industry,” Mr. Hurd said.

Ruth Milkman, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Los Angeles, argued that the writers’ strike was an offensive struggle, not a defensive one, because the union was pushing to increase the payments.

“They’re trying to push the envelope, but they don’t have tremendous leverage,” she said. “They don’t have the type of leverage that auto workers and the truckers once had when they could shut everything down.”

Mr. Shaiken suggested that the stagehands had more leverage than the writers. “The stagehands have darkened the theaters. Period. With the writers, it’s a long test of wills,” he said. “The TV networks can always show reruns, but the strike will exact a long-term toll in a volatile industry.”

He said the stagehands’ dispute is a more conventional confrontation. “Broadway producers can’t simply move a play to a theater in Mexico and have a New York audience watch it there,” he said.

These much-publicized strikes are by no means the only ones where unions are on the defensive. For example, 600 nurses went on strike seven weeks ago at Appalachian Regional Healthcare, a chain of nine hospitals in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, after management insisted on increasing health insurance premiums, reducing holiday pay and eliminating a policy of giving 40 hours of pay for 36 hours of work.

Mr. Chaison said the strikes in Detroit had a lot in common with another recent strike: the walkout by subway and rail workers in France that crippled high-speed train service and the Paris subways. The workers in France flexed their muscles to block President Nicolas Sarkozy’s demand to raise the age at which train workers can retire with a full pension, now 50. Most French workers cannot receive a full pension until age 60.

Mr. Sarkozy has argued that overly generous salaries and benefits for public employees have raised taxes so much as to weaken the competitive position of French industry.

“The U.A.W.,” Mr. Chaison said, “is trying to defend their jobs and income against the pressures of globalization, and the French government is trying to hold down costs because of pressures from globalization.”

These labor experts see some recent gains for America’s labor unions, despite their weakened position.

Over the last year, unions have organized tens of thousands of low-wage workers, most notably at hotels, in child care, janitorial service and home health care. And the experts said labor was looking to make further gains in next year’s election.

“Unions have a tremendous amount of influence in the Democratic Party,” Mr. Hurd said. “Labor knows that the Democrats have a pretty good chance of winning the White House, but whether they can win a big enough majority in Congress to enact pro-labor legislation over a filibuster, that may be tough. A lot of unions are placing their future hopes on that.”




Manhattan: Teachers Criticize Review Unit
Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, called for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor to apologize to the city’s 80,000 teachers yesterday, a day after the chancellor sent principals an e-mail message announcing the formation of teams of lawyers and consultants meant to help principals remove poorly performing tenured teachers. Ms. Weingarten said that the message seemed timed to the release yesterday of national reading and math test scores showing little progress among New York City students. “The first speck of bad news, all of the sudden they go after teachers,” Ms. Weingarten said. The mayor said yesterday that removing tenured teachers was “a last alternative.”
November 16, 2007
New York

Waterboarding and U.S. History
by William Loren Katz
"U.S. officers in the Philippines routinely resorted to what they called ‘the water cure.'"
November 14, 2007

Writers Set to Strike, Threatening Hollywood
November 2, 2007

Raids Traumatized Children, Report Says
Hundreds of young American children suffered hardship and psychological trauma after immigration raids in the last year in which their parents were detained or deported, according to a report by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute. Of 500 children directly affected in three factory raids examined in the report in which 900 adult immigrants were arrested, a large majority were United States citizens younger than 10. With one or both parents deported, the children had reduced economic support, and many remained in the care of relatives who feared contact with the authorities, the study said. Although the children were citizens, few families sought public assistance for them, the study found.
November 1, 2007

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




Russell Means Speaking at the Transform Columbus Day Rally
"If voting could do anything it would be illegal!"


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,]




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]


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Complete the form at the website listed below with your information.


Sand Creek Massacre
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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

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