Friday, January 18, 2008

BAUAW NEWSLETTER - FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2008

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Bay Area United Against War Statement in Response to IVAW

"In response to the Iraq Veterans Against the War Open Letter to the antiwar movement: We oppose any demand on the movement to refrain from mobilizing against the war. This demand has hurt the struggle in the United States to end the war. We support all actions of the movement to end the U.S. war on, and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. We urge the whole movement to come together to organize unified protest actions."

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THE NEXT MEETING OF THE STOP JROTC COMMITTEE IS
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 7:00 P.M.
GLOBAL EXCHANGE
2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco

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**Please circulate this message widely**

GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTING TO RESTRICT USE OF NATIONAL MALL
Take action right now to defend free speech rights!

Dear Linda,

At a public meeting called by the National Park Service on Saturday, January 12 in Washington, D.C., representatives from the Partnership for Civil Justice, ANSWER Coalition, Nicaragua Network, Grassroots America, ImpeachBush.org and others demanded that there be no new restrictions placed on the right of the people to access the National Mall for free speech activities.

The National Park Service (NPS) is undertaking an initiative similar to that launched to exclude protests from New York City's Great Lawn. It will be used to further restrict or ban protest on the Mall from current levels. This is a component of a nationwide campaign of corporate-sponsored organizations working in partnership with government entities that claim that protests, rallies and demonstrations harm grass or "green space" or "natural resources" and must therefore be restricted or banned or shunted off to designated protest pits.

TAKE ACTION

Right now, you can email the National Park Service demanding that there be no restrictions on the right of the people to assemble. We have set up an easy to use mechanism that will allow your message to be sent to the National Parks Service:

United States Government: National Park Service
www.nps.gov
http://home.nps.gov/applications/npspolicy/mail.cfm
614 H St NW, Washington, DC 20024 - (202) 619-7159

It is urgent that people around the country take action to stop the plan of the Bush Administration's Interior Department to obstruct free speech rights for mass assembly protest in Washington, D.C. The Bush White House plans to complete this process and deliver a knockout punch to free speech rights by January, 2009, the very last month that Bush will remain in office.

The National Mall has been associated for decades as the site for mass assembly protest and gatherings. On January 18, 2003, the ANSWER Coalition organized a demonstration of 500,000 prior to the invasion of Iraq. The Nation of Islam led the Million Man March in 1995 on the Mall. The National Organization for Women sponsored the March for Women's Lives bringing more than a million people to the Mall in 2004. A huge gathering for immigrant rights took place on the Mall in 2006 as part of a nation-wide outpouring. From the Bonus Marchers of the early 1930s, to Dr. King's Poor People's March of 1968, and the anti-war Moratorium of 1969, the Mall is the historic anchor for the exercise of free speech rights in the United States.

A lawsuit filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice on behalf of the National Council of Arab Americans and the ANSWER Coalition successfully overturned regulations in New York City that were used to prevent mass assembly protest in the Great Lawn of Central Park during the Republican National Convention. Those planning changes to the use and access to the National Mall have stated that they see structure used to restrict use of the Great Lawn as a model for their activities.

The NPS has set up a "public-private" partnership that allows business interests and real estate developers -- in coordination with the government -- to determine the future of the National Mall.

The Jan. 12 public meeting was intended to have low attendance to allow the government to claim public involvement while simultaneously excluding it. When confronted with the fact that they had done no legitimate outreach about the public meeting to the hundreds of thousands of people who have actually used the National Mall, the President of the Trust for the National Mall responded that she had sent notice to the Board of Trade! The NPS issues 3,000 permits a year for the use of the National Mall, but there has been no effort to notify any of those organizations about the proposed changes. Their attempt to exclude people from this process could not be more clear.

At the hearing the officials tried to quiet the outraged voices of the people, to change the topic of discussion, and to dismiss their concerns. They did, however, keep saying, just send us a message on-line. That is what we are asking everyone to do today.

The government is trying to end the public "comment" period by February 1, 2008. The ANSWER Coalition also demanded at the hearing that the sham process of the NPS be halted. We demanded that a moratorium be declared so that the people of this country can be able and informed to weigh in with their opinion. The National Mall belongs to the people. Click this link to send your message to the National Park Service

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=gvefvWFiPN-6IOEEkMDd1Q..

Please tell a friend about this important fight for free speech by forwarding this email by clicking this link.

http://www.pephost.org/site/TellAFriend?msgId=41981.0&devId=37301

PLEASE HELP WITH A DONATION IN THIS FREE SPEECH FIGHT

Help us in this fight to keep the National Mall open for the exercise of free speech. We are undertaking a major organizing initiative to counter the government's plans. The ANSWER Coalition has an unwavering commitment to defend the free speech rights and civil liberties of the people of this country. But this challenge, which ranges from the streets to the courtrooms, requires significant funds, and we simply cannot do it without your help. Please click this link to make your donation right now
http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=UI_mnDGQ0vdnt_RAEkD6eA..

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A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
www.answercoalition.org
info@internationalanswer.org
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

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Support GI Resistance!
Help stop the war... Support of U.S. war resisters currently seeking sanctuary Canada. What you can do today:
1. Attend or organize an event on January 25-26
2. Sign the "Dear Canada" letter (if you have not already)
3. Hold a house party to show "Breaking Ranks"
4. Use these resources to get friends involved
January 25-26 U.S.-Canada Actions
Courage to Resist
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/

On Friday, Jan. 25, community members will hold vigils and delegations to Canadian Consulates in Washington D.C., NYC, Seattle, SF, LA and elsewhere.

"Army of None" Pacific Northwest Tour
Co-author David Solnit and Seattle Chapter President of Iraq Veterans Against the War Chanan Suarez Diaz at events this week in Tacoma, Olympia, and Vancouver BC.

Oakland, CA Benefit Book Release Event Jan. 17
Col. Ann Wright (ret.) presents her new book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience" with special guests Daniel Ellsberg and Cindy Sheehan at Oakland, CA Courage to Resist benefit.

Sign the letter "Dear Canada: Let U.S. War Resisters Stay!" at:
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=499

January 25-26 Events: "Let Them Stay!"

There is still time to organize a delegation to a Canadian Consulate near you or hold vigils or other public events that day, or the following day Saturday, January 26 in support of war resisters.

Let us know what you are planning. Send events to courage@riseup.net

Friday January 25

Keith Mather, David Solnit, Father Louis Vitale, Steve Grossman, Gerry Condon, Jacqueline Cabasso, Jeff Paterson, Evangeline Mix comprise similar delegation to Canadian Consulate on 5/15/06 in San Francisco. Photo Bill Carpenter

SAN FRANCISCO
Consulate General of Canada
580 California Street, San Francisco
(four blocks north of Montgomery St BART)
Noon to 1 pm vigil, 1 pm delegation
Sponsored by Courage to Resist
Info: courage@riseup.net , 510-488-3559

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact:
Robert Manning (925)787-3354

BlogFest to Memorialize Molly Ivins and Demand an End to War in Iraq


WHAT: Raise Hell for Molly Ivins BlogFest.

WHERE: Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street in San Francisco.

WHEN: Thursday, January 31st, 2008, from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM. (the one-year anniversary of Molly Ivins' passing.)

WHO: The BlogFest is being produced by The Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign (www.raisehellformollyivins.org.) The campaign was inspired by Molly Ivins' words about the war in Iraq, in her last column before her passing. - "Raise hell...Hit the streets...We need people in the streets banging pots and pans and demanding END IT, NOW!"

PURPOSE: This special event will honor the memory of Molly Ivins and carry on her legacy of activism through the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign, which is organizing people across the United States to demand that Congress act to end the war in Iraq and stop an attack on Iran.

PROGRAM: The BlogFest will feature continuous blogging by activist bloggers and the public, the signing of an on-line petition, and a live netcast of the event. The evening's program will begin with an Interfaith Ceremony, followed by a Labyrinth Walk for Peace, the announcement of the Winner of "The Ballad of Molly Ivins" Songwriting Contest, a video presentation on Molly Ivins' life, a Memorial Pledge to Molly Ivins, by the event's participants, to work tirelessly to end the war in Iraq and stop an attack on Iran, and music and poetry performances.

HOW: People can participate in the BlogFest by adding their comments to the activist blogs during the event. They can also sign the on-line petition and participate in the "Pots and Pans Protests" on the third Friday of the month, to tell their local representatives and senators who voted for the surge and the on-going funding for the war in Iraq to change their vote or lose at the ballot box. The "Pots and Pans Protests" are held on the third Friday of the month to coincide with the monthly events of the Iraq Moratorium.

TICKETS: Tickets are $10.00 with no one turned away for lack of funds. Tickets are available at the door beginning at 5:45 PM. Advanced tickets are available by calling The Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign at (925) 787-3354.

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Honoring Mumia Abu-Jamal and His Friends - Fighters for Freedom
Dennis Bernstein, Lynne Stewart, Michael Franti,and others...
Sunday, February 3, at 2:00pm
ILWU Local 34 Hall, 4 Berry Street, San Francisco

Dear Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,

The struggle to Free Mumia is in high gear. With considerable media coverage and interest being generated with the showing of the interview on The Today Show with Maureen Faulkner and the mobilization of Mumia's supporters to ensure the truth about the case was televised, to the amazing new evidence of crime scene manipulation (all of which is viewable on the Mobilization's website), we think 2008 has the potential of making real gains in winning Mumia's freedom.

We proudly announce a very special event: On Sunday, February 3, at 2:00pm the Mobilization is sponsoring a gathering: Honoring Mumia Abu-Jamal and His Friends - Fighters for Freedom, with Dennis Bernstein, producer of KPFA's Flashpoints, Lynne Stewart, attorney falsely convicted of conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism, Michael Franti, performing artist and a founder of Power to the Peaceful concert festivals, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who shut down the West Coast ports to free Mumia, Barbara Lubin, Director, Middle East Children's Alliance, Jonathan Richmond, singer/songwriter and Aundre Herron, attorney and comedienne - "Wonderwoman", and many others. The event will take place at the ILWU Local 34 Hall, 4 Berry Street, San Francisco, just to the left (East) of the Pac Bell/Monster Baseball Stadium (plenty of free parking and Muni Metro accessible). The event will start at 2:00pm, sliding scale of $10-$15, no on turned away for lack of funds. We will show The Today Show program and people can stay afterwards for an information gathering (and Super Bowl watching).

We don't have much time to building the event - please post to your email lists and tell everyone you know.

Please attend the next Mobe meeting, which is on Saturday, January 12, 2008, 10:30 am at 625 Larkin near Eddy, San Francisco. Remember to press #202 to be buzzed in. That's the office of the Freedom Socialist Party.

We will be organizing for several important upcoming events at which we'll pass out leaflets for our February 3rd meeting, include the Demonstration to Defend Reproductive Rights and Roe v. Wade (Saturday, January 19th, 10:30am at Justin Herman Plaza, Market and Embarcadero in San Francisco) and at the annual Martin Luther King Day events (Monday, January 21).

See you at the Mobe meeting this Saturday, January 12th at 10:30 am, 625 Larkin Street, at Eddy in San Francisco.

FREE MUMIA!
End the Death Penalty!

Laura Herrera and Jeff Mackler, Co-coordinators
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
510-268-9429 (TEMPORARY NEW PHONE NUMBER)
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[ The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal is supporting this event and encourages you to publicize it and attend. - Howard Keylor (for the LAC) ]

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THE NEXT MEETING OF THE STOP JROTC COMMITTEE IS
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 7:00 P.M.
GLOBAL EXCHANGE
2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco

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SUPPORT THE DAY AFTER DEMONSTRATIONS TO FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

SEE THE "TODAY SHOW" STORY ON MUMIA ABU-JAMAL - NOW ON YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz-NL0Ju6aE

From: LACFreeMumia@aol.com

A ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Mumia's case, based on the hearing in Philadelphia on May 17th 2007, is expected momentarily. Freeing Mumia immediately is what is needed, but that is not an option before this court. The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal calls on everyone who supports Mumia‚s case for freedom, to rally the day after a decision comes down. Here are Bay Area day-after details:

OAKLAND:

14th and Broadway, near the Federal Building
4:30 to 6:30 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or on Monday if the ruling comes down on a Friday.

Oakland demonstration called by the Partisan Defense Committee and Labor Black Leagues, to be held if the Court upholds the death sentence, or denies Mumia's appeals for a new trial or a new hearing. info at (510) 839-0852 or pdcbayarea@sbcglobal.org

SAN FRANCISCO:

Federal Courthouse, 7th & Mission
5 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or Monday if the decision comes down on a Friday

San Francisco demo called by the Mobilization To Free Mumia,
info at (415) 255-1085 or www.freemumia.org

Day-after demonstrations are also planned in:

Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver
and other cities internationally.

A National Demonstration is to be held in Philadelphia, 3rd Saturday after the decision

For more information, contact: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, www.mumia.org;
Partisan Defense Committee, www.partisandefense.org;
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), www.freemumia.com;

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL IS INNOCENT!

World-renowned journalist, death-row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is completely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Mountains of evidence--unheard or ignored by the courts--shows this. He is a victim, like thousands of others, of the racist, corrupt criminal justice system in the US; only in his case, there is an added measure of political persecution. Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, and is still an outspoken and active critic of the on-going racism and imperialism of the US. They want to silence him more than they want to kill him.

Anyone who has ever been victimized by, protested or been concerned about the racist travesties of justice meted out to blacks in the US, as well as attacks on immigrants, workers and revolutionary critics of the system, needs to take a close look at the frame-up of Mumia. He is innocent, and he needs to be free.

FREE MUMIA NOW!

END THE RACIST DEATH PENALTY!

FOR MASS PROTESTS AND LABOR ACTION TO FREE MUMIA!

In 1995, mass mobilizations helped save Mumia from death.

In 1999, longshore workers shut West Coast ports to free Mumia, and teachers in Oakland and Rio de Janeiro held teach-ins and stop-works.

Mumia needs powerful support again now. Come out to free Mumia!

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610
510.763.2347
LACFreeMumia@aol.com

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ARTICLES IN FULL:

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1) On Education
A Queens High School With 3,600 Students, and Room for Just 1,800
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
January 16, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/education/16education.html?ref=nyregion

2) Square Feet
Worry in Michigan as Forests Change Hands
By KEITH SCHNEIDER
January 16, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/business/16timber.html?ref=business

3) Genetic Study Bolsters Columbus Link to Syphilis
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
January 15, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/science/15syph.html?ref=health

4) Anti-war groups retreat on funding fight
By: Ryan Grim
Jan 17, 2008 06:03 AM EST
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0108/7949.html

5) Israel Closes Gaza Borders
By STEVEN ERLANGER
January 19, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/19/world/middleeast/19mideast.html?hp

6) Gates Seeks Troop Estimates
By THOM SHANKER
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/washington/18military.html?ref=world

7) Facing Deportation but Clinging to Life in U.S.
By JULIA PRESTON
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/us/18hide.html?ref=us

8) Ex-Hospital Patients File Lawsuit Over the Status of Health Care Services in New Orleans
By LESLIE EATON
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/us/18orleans.html?ref=us

9) Legal Immigrants Facing a Longer Wait
By JULIA PRESTON
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/us/18immig.html?ref=us

10) Antidepressant Studies Unpublished
By BENEDICT CAREY
January 17, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/17/health/17depress.html?ref=health

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1) On Education
A Queens High School With 3,600 Students, and Room for Just 1,800
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
January 16, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/education/16education.html?ref=nyregion

From its brass entry doors to its rooftop observatory to the intricate oak paneling of the principal’s office, Richmond Hill High School in Queens was built to inspire something like awe for public education. The only discordant response during the structure’s dedication in 1923 was whether, with a capacity for 1,800 students, it was too large.

Nobody asks that question anymore. Over the past dozen years, Richmond Hill’s most notable architectural accouterment has been the quote-unquote temporary classroom. Twenty-two of these red metal trailers, encased within chain-link fencing, occupy the school’s former yard, evoking the ambience of the Port Elizabeth container-ship terminal.

As for the cargo, that would be the students, faculty members and staff. Richmond Hill currently holds more than 3,600 pupils, twice its supposed limit, and could have 4,000 next fall as other neighborhood high schools in Queens are broken into mini-schools with smaller, more selective enrollments. Andrew Jackson, Springfield Gardens and Franklin K. Lane have already closed; next year, Far Rockaway will, too.

These days at Richmond Hill, the first lunch period starts at 8:59 a.m., class sizes routinely exceed city and state averages and students have four minutes to negotiate hallways that one biology teacher at the school likens to clotted arteries.

The classroom trailers, never meant for more than a decade of nonstop use, need new walls, ceilings and plumbing. One social studies teacher, Peter McHugh, was reduced last year to conducting class while holding an umbrella against a leaky roof.

To a certain extent, the growing enrollment at the school reflects the influx of immigrants from Guyana and the Dominican Republic to the neighborhood. But more broadly, the problem is the outcome of Department of Education decisions to open scores of small, niched schools in the area, close large ones perceived as academic failures and leave the excess students to land in traditional schools like Richmond Hill that, while relatively successful academically, were often overcrowded to begin with. In this version of education reform, it is never hard to tell the winners from the losers.

City education officials do not dispute that Richmond Hill is severely overcrowded. But they predict that as the department builds and opens new small schools, including several in the Queens neighborhood of Corona next fall, students who might otherwise attend Richmond Hill will choose these options, gradually reducing the overcrowding.

Yet Garth Harries, chief executive for portfolio development for the school system, also said the department was “not in a position to say there is a specific target number, but it is a priority to reduce enrollment at Richmond Hill.”

The students and staff at Richmond Hill painstakingly calibrate their own comments. They cite the school’s myriad classes and clubs as a strength; they do not lay blame on the principal, Frances DeSanctis; and they hold Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein responsible for the situation.

“Who decides to treat people this way?” asked Brian Sutton, a dean and special education teacher and a 16-year veteran at Richmond Hill. “You don’t build a school for 1,800 students and stick nearly 4,000 in it. Why? Who would want to do something like that to other human beings? On purpose.”

When Christine Dayao entered Richmond Hill as a freshman in September 2005, she thought the 8:59 a.m. lunch period on her schedule had to be a misprint. “I was freaking out,” said Christine, 16, a junior. “My parents called up the school and said, ‘Is it normal for someone to have lunch that early?’ And they said, ‘At Richmond Hill, yeah.’ ”

To make it through her day, which ended just short of 3:30 p.m., Christine said she “drank a lot of water.” That way, her stomach at least felt full.

THE crowding has only grown worse since 2005. Freshmen take virtually all their classes in the trailers, separating them from the school’s community. When they do walk to and from the main building — for lunch, physical education and science labs — they can easily slip away to cut class.

Within the permanent building, the crowding has created a disciplinary headache. Ninety seconds after each new period begins, deans or teachers make a “hallway sweep” to catch the stragglers. Many of them wind up in detention for little more than having been caught in a human traffic jam.

“Students just have to cope with it,” said Shelleaza Ramdass, 18, a senior. “They don’t feel like they have a choice. That’s what they have to do.”

Richmond Hill received a C grade on its Department of Education report card, and its pupils perform decently on standardized tests. But daily attendance remains at about 80 percent, and the attrition rate from freshman year to senior year is more than 50 percent. It is only fair to wonder how much those numbers reflect the disenchantment or disengagement of students who begin their high school careers in trailers.

Ms. DeSanctis, the principal, has increased team-teaching, particularly in English as a Second Language classes, and has asked the education department to build a direct corridor from the main building to the trailer yard. (She is still waiting for an answer.) It is also possible, however, that next year Richmond Hill will have to extend its class day by one more period so that it will run 7:19 a.m. to roughly 4:15 p.m.

“What I’d love is a brand-new building,” said Ms. DeSanctis, offering her opinion. “What I know is that nobody who has trailers has ever had them removed.”

Samuel G. Freedman is a professor of journalism at Columbia University. His e-mail is
sgfreedman@nytimes.com.

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2) Square Feet
Worry in Michigan as Forests Change Hands
By KEITH SCHNEIDER
January 16, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/business/16timber.html?ref=business

MARQUETTE, Mich. — Last summer, as land and housing values crumbled in much of Michigan, Northern Michigan Land Brokers and a group of investors completed a $7.3 million deal to buy 7,300 acres of forest and undeveloped land — 80 parcels in all — along several rivers in the Upper Peninsula.

The sale of such a sizable expanse of forest and the modest price per acre were part of an enormous, and for some, worrisome transformation in timberland ownership and use throughout the Upper Peninsula, a territory twice as large as New Jersey, with 312,000 residents, more than 400 wolves and roughly as many counties (15) as stoplights.

Since 2005, more than a million acres of timberland have changed hands, most of it bought by just two owners. The investment firm GMO, based in Boston, purchased 440,000 acres from International Paper, and a Seattle real estate investment trust, the Plum Creek Timber Company, spent $345 million to buy 650,000 acres, the largest sale of timberland ever in the Midwest. Another big owner is the Forestland Group, which entered the Upper Peninsula in 2003 and now owns 550,000 acres.

The big land sales, and hundreds of smaller transactions, have caused many people in the Upper Peninsula to be concerned about changes in their ability to hunt and fish, and thousands of workers in forest product industries worry for their jobs. Others recognize the opportunity to expand the nearly $1 billion annual recreation economy in a region that is steadily losing jobs and nearly 1,000 residents annually.

Forest industry analysts, among them Steven Chercover of D. A. Davidson & Company, a brokerage firm in Portland, Ore., say that trends in the timber industry, land markets and tax policy are promoting the conversion of timberland to development.

Growing numbers of wealthy professionals and baby boomers from Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Traverse City are seeking land for second homes or for relocation, according to an analysis of census and land records by Eric Anderson, a senior Marquette County planner. In addition, buyers are eager to capitalize on the attractive land prices and the near certainty that they will continue climbing steadily.

“People are looking for and finding their slice of heaven,” Mr. Anderson said. “They are willing to come a long way to get it.”

Since Northern Michigan Land Brokers and investors bought the expanse of riverfront from We Energies, a Wisconsin utility, in June, the broker has sold 22 parcels, including a 200-acre block, at roughly $2,000 an acre — twice as much an acre as the company paid — according to Robert Sullivan, the firm’s principal owner.

“There’s been no downturn in land values in this market,” he said in an interview in his downtown office here, while trucks loaded with freshly cut logs rolled by. “We’re different from the rest of the state.”

Indeed, Naterra Land Inc., a recreational land development company, sold five heavily forested lots last year in the Cataract Basin, a wide bend in the Escanaba River about 40 miles south of here.

The company, which has offices in Michigan and four other states, bought 1,360 acres in 2005 from the Upper Peninsula Power Company for an estimated $1,100 an acre. It sold riverfront lots in December in the Cataract Basin for more than $10,000 an acre, and lots off the river for $4,000 to $5,000 an acre, according to county property records.

“The market is strong,” said Scott Cisney, vice president in Naterra’s Marquette office. “People want something in the north woods. They’ve got the funds to do it.”

The biggest landowners are also starting to quietly sell land. Plum Creek sold 1,060 acres last year in Marquette County to 10 buyers. Plum Creek said the sales prices ranged from $800 to $1,400 an acre, for land bought for just over $530 an acre.

“It’s a beautiful business model,” said Kathy Budinick, director for communications at Plum Creek, which owns 8.2 million acres nationwide, more than any other timberland company.

In the first three quarters of 2007, it sold more than 92,000 acres. “We recognize when we buy timberland that the trees and the land are growing in value,” she said. “How many other industries have inventory that appreciates in value?”

A report on corporate land ownership in the Upper Peninsula, published last month by a consortium of universities and nonprofit conservation groups, found that much of the 8.2 million acres of forest owned by big timber management companies, as well as by the state and the federal government, is likely to remain in traditional use for producing lumber and paper and for recreation and wildlife conservation.

But the report, “Large-tract Forestland Ownership Change,” also concluded that the day is approaching when a portion — probably 10 to 20 percent of the 2.1 million acres of commercial forest land owned by corporations — could be developed for housing or recreational use.

Those lands lie along the thousands of wild streams and untouched lakes in the Upper Peninsula, close to existing communities, or near the shore of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

In other words, those are the places that people want to buy for camps and cabins. Jackie Lykins, an assessment official in Marquette County, booted up her computer and displayed some of the dozens of sizable tracts of timberland — parcels ranging from 40 acres to 400 — that were sold last year to buyers from other states. Most were along streams and around lakes.

Michigan, moreover, has made it economically practical for timberland management companies to plan for development. Its Commercial Forest Act requires companies to pay just $1.20 an acre annually in taxes as long as they manage for timber harvest and allow fishing and hunting.

Mr. Chercover, the industry research analyst, said he was sympathetic to those worried about changes in land use, but he also said that executives were maximizing value for their shareholders. “It’s the future of timberland management,” Mr. Chercover said. “I understand why people who live there don’t like getting priced out of the market by some rich guy from Chicago who can buy 1,000 acres.

“But in the end, the Upper Peninsula will be what it’s always been. A place to hunt and fish and hike and have fun.”

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3) Genetic Study Bolsters Columbus Link to Syphilis
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
January 15, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/science/15syph.html?ref=health

Columbus, it seems, made another discovery of something that he was not looking for.

In a comprehensive genetic study, scientists have found what they say is the strongest evidence yet linking the first European explorers of the New World to the origin of sexually transmitted syphilis.

The research, they say, supports the hypothesis that returning explorers introduced organisms leading, in probably modified forms, to the first recorded syphilis epidemic, beginning in Europe in 1493.

The so-called Columbus hypothesis had previously rested on circumstantial evidence, mainly the timing of the epidemic. It was further noted that earlier traces of syphilis or related diseases had been few and inconclusive in Europe. Yet nonvenereal forms of the diseases were widespread in the American tropics.

Leaders of the new study said the most telling results were that the bacterium causing sexually transmitted syphilis arose relatively recently in humans and was closely related to a strain responsible for the nonvenereal infection known as yaws. The similarity was especially evident, the researchers said, in a variation of the yaws pathogen isolated recently among afflicted children in a remote region of Guyana in South America.

Researchers who conducted the study and others familiar with it said the findings suggested Columbus and his men could have carried the nonvenereal tropical bacteria home, where the organisms may have mutated into a more deadly form in the different conditions of Europe.

In the New World, the infecting organisms for nonvenereal syphilis, known as bejel, and yaws were transmitted by skin-to-skin and oral contact, more often in children. The symptoms are lesions primarily on the legs, not on or near the genitals.

Kristin N. Harper, a researcher in molecular genetics at Emory University who was the principal investigator in the study, said the findings supported “the hypothesis that syphilis, or some progenitor, came from the New World.”

The examination of the evolutionary relatedness of organisms associated with syphilis was reported on Monday in the online journal Public Library of Science/Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Ms. Harper, a doctoral student in the Emory department of population biology, ecology and evolution, was the lead author. Her co-authors included George J. Armelagos, an Emory anthropologist who has studied the origins of syphilis for more than 30 years, and Dr. Michael S. Silverman, a Canadian infectious diseases physician who collected and tested specimens from yaws lesions in Guyana, the only known site today of yaws infections in the Western Hemisphere.

The researchers said their study “represents the first attempt to address the problem of the origin of syphilis using molecular genetics, as well as the first source of information regarding the genetic makeup of nonvenereal strains from the Western Hemisphere.”

They applied phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary relationships between organisms, in examining 26 geographically disparate strains in the family of Treponema bacteria. Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum is the agent for the scourge of venereal syphilis. The subspecies endemicum causes bejel, usually in hot, arid climates, and pertenue spreads yaws in hot, humid places.

Della Collins Cook, a paleopathologist at Indiana University who did not participate in the study but specializes in treponemal diseases, praised the research as a “very, very interesting step” advancing understanding of syphilis. “They have looked at a wider range of the genome” of these bacteria, Dr. Cook said, “and have scared up some new samples from parts of the world and the group of related diseases that hadn’t been available to researchers before.”

But she recommended an even broader investigation of the natural history of these diseases, making an effort to find more people with active treponemal cases where they probably still exist in parts of South America. Cases of yaws in Africa and Asia are periodically reported.

John W. Verano, an anthropologist at Tulane, said the findings would “probably not settle the debate” over the origins of venereal syphilis, though most scientists had become convinced that the disease was not transmitted sexually before Europeans made contact with the New World.

Donald J. Ortner, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, questioned whether the organisms causing the first European epidemic were actually distinct from others in the treponemal family. “What we are seeing is an organism with a long history, and it is very adaptable to different modes of transmission that produce different manifestations,” Dr. Ortner said.

Three medical scientists, responding to the new study, pointed out what they considered shortcomings in its methods and interpretations.

In a critique also published by the online journal, Connie J. Mulligan of the University of Florida, Steven J. Norris of the University of Texas at Houston and Sheila A. Lukehart of the University of Washington wrote that caution “must be used in drawing conclusions about the evolution of ‘subspecies’ that may represent a biological continuum, rather than discrete agents.”

“Firm conclusions should not be based,” for example, on the two samples from one location in Guyana, they added.

But scientists generally agreed that the molecular approach would overcome some limitations of other investigations.

Paleopathologists like Dr. Cook have for years analyzed skeletons for the bone scars from lesions produced by treponemal diseases, except for the mild form called pinta. In this way, they traced the existence of these infections in the New World back at least 7,000 years. But it has often been difficult to determine the age of the bones and distinguish the different diseases that share symptoms but have different modes of transmission.

Dr. Cook said the skeletal evidence for treponemal disease in pre-Columbian Europe and Africa was sketchy and even more ambiguous than in the New World. In the 1990s, scientists reported finding bones in Italy and England, from before Columbus’s return, that bore lesion scars that they said appeared to have been caused by venereal syphilis.

Scientists remain skeptical of this interpretation. If highly contagious venereal syphilis had existed in Europe in antiquity, said Dr. Armelagos, the Emory anthropologist, there should be more supporting epidemiological evidence than two or three skeletons bearing suggestive scars.

In her investigation, Ms. Harper studied 22 human Treponemal pallidum strains. The DNA in their genes was sequenced in nearly all cases, examined for changes and eventually used in constructing phylogenetic trees incorporating all variations in the strains.

An Old World yaws subspecies was found to occupy the base of the tree, indicating its ancestral position in the treponemal family, she said. The terminal position of the venereal syphilis subspecies on the tree showed it had diverged most recently from the rest of the bacterial family.

Specimens from two Guyana yaws cases were included in the study, after they were collected and processed by Dr. Silverman. Genetic analysis showed that this yaws strain was the closest known relative to venereal syphilis.

Ms. Harper’s team concluded that New World yaws belonged to a group distinct from Old World strains, thus occupying the place on the tree more likely to be intermediate between the nonvenereal strains previously existing in Europe and the one for modern syphilis.

If this seemed to solidify the Columbus hypothesis, the researchers cautioned that a “transfer agent between humans and nonhuman primates cannot be ruled out using the available genetic data.”

Dr. Armelagos said research into the origins of syphilis would continue, because “understanding its evolution is important not just for biology, but for understanding social and political history.”

Noting that the disease was a major killer in Renaissance Europe, he said, “It could be argued that syphilis is one of the important early examples of globalization and disease, and globalization remains an important factor in emerging diseases.”

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4) U.S. Boosts Its Use of Airstrikes In Iraq
Strategy Supports Troop Increase
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2008; A01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/16/AR2008011604148.html?wpisrc=newsletter

The U.S. military conducted more than five times as many airstrikes in Iraq last year as it did in 2006, targeting al-Qaeda safe houses, insurgent bombmaking facilities and weapons stockpiles in an aggressive strategy aimed at supporting the U.S. troop increase by overwhelming enemies with air power.

Top commanders said that better intelligence-gathering allows them to identify and hit extremist strongholds with bombs and missiles, and they predicted that extensive airstrikes will continue this year as the United States seeks to flush insurgents out of havens in and around Baghdad and to the north in Diyala province.

The U.S.-led coalition dropped 1,447 bombs on Iraq last year, an average of nearly four a day, compared with 229 bombs, or about four each week, in 2006.

"The core reason why we see the increase in strikes is the offensive strategy taken by General [David H.] Petraeus," said Air Force Col. Gary Crowder, commander of the 609th Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia. Because the United States has sent more troops into areas rife with insurgent activity, he said, "we integrated more airstrikes into those operations."

The greater reliance on air power has raised concerns from human rights groups, which say that 500-pound and 2,000-pound munitions threaten civilians, especially when dropped in residential neighborhoods where insurgents mix with the population. The military assures that the precision attacks are designed to minimize civilian casualties -- particularly as Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy emphasizes moving more troops into local communities and winning over the Iraqi population -- but rights groups say bombings carry an especially high risk.

"The Iraqi population remains at risk of harm during these operations," said Eliane Nabaa, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq. "The presence of individual combatants among a great number of civilians does not alter the civilian character of an area."

UNAMI estimates that more than 200 civilian deaths resulted from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq from the beginning of April to the end of last year, when U.S. forces began to significantly increase the strikes to coordinate with the expansion of ground troops.

The strategy was evident last week, as U.S. forces launched airstrikes across Iraq as part of Operation Phantom Phoenix. On Thursday morning in Arab Jabour, southeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military dropped 38 bombs with 40,000 pounds of explosives in 10 minutes, one of the largest strikes since the 2003 invasion. U.S. forces north of Baghdad employed bombs totaling more than 16,500 pounds over just a few days last week, according to officers there.

"The purpose of these particular strikes was to shape the battlefield and take out known threats before our ground troops move in," Army Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, said at a news conference in Baghdad last Friday, describing the Arab Jabour attacks. "Our aim was to neutralize any advantage the enemy could claim with the use of IEDs and other weapons," he said, referring to improvised explosive devices.

Counterinsurgency experts said the greater use of airstrikes meshes with U.S. strategy, which calls for coalition troops to clear hostile areas before holding and then rebuilding them. U.S. forces have put the new counterinsurgency efforts into play by using their increased numbers to home in on insurgent strongholds.

Colin Kahl, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University who studies the Iraq war, said airstrikes rose in 2007 because of a combination of increased U.S. operations and a realization that air power can have a strong psychological effect on the enemy.

"Part of this is announcing our presence to the adversary," said Kahl, who recently returned from a trip to the air operations center. "Across this calendar year you will see a reduction in U.S. forces, so there will be fewer troops to support Iraqi forces. One would expect a continued level of airstrikes because of offensive operations, and as U.S. forces begin to draw down you may see even more airstrikes."

Senior Air Force officials said the greater use of airstrikes stems from better intelligence that provides a clearer picture of the battlefield. Commanders said the additional U.S. forces in Iraq over the past year have pushed insurgents out of urban areas and into places that are easier to target.

"You see an increase in the number of kinetic strikes because we have found the enemy, we are finding the enemy's emplacement sites, manufacturing facilities for IEDs and caches of weapons," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, the U.S. Central Air Forces and Combined Forces Air Component commander. "And we're striking them."

The Marine Corps keeps its own statistics for airstrikes in western Iraq but could not provide 2007 data.

In Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO bombings picked up in the middle of 2006, coalition airstrikes reached 3,572 last year, more than double the total for 2006 and more than 20 times the number in 2005. Many of the strikes have targeted the Taliban and other extremists in Helmand province, and military officials said they have been able to use air power to support small Special Forces units that engage the enemy in remote locations.

Human rights groups estimate that Afghan civilian casualties caused by airstrikes tripled to more than 300 in 2007, fueling fears that such aggressive bombardment could be catastrophic for the innocent.

Marc Garlasco, a military analyst at Human Rights Watch who tracks airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the strikes carry unique risks. "My major concern with what's going on in Iraq is massive population density," he said. "You have the potential for very high civilian casualties, so you need really granular intelligence on what you're going to hit. But I don't think they're being careless."

In preparation for last week's major airstrikes near Baghdad, North said, he met two weeks ago with Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and U.S. forces in Baghdad, to walk through the plans.

"What you're seeing in the last few days is a very deliberate process honed by intelligence, targeted and aligned to get the desired effect in a particular area," North said.

Commanders also said they are using air power more creatively, in some cases dropping bombs that explode in the air to detonate insurgent roadside bombs. Other U.S. munitions have cut off small bridges or roads to isolate insurgent movement. As seen in Air Force videos, some attacks have been extremely precise, such as when a Predator unmanned aircraft fired an AGM-114P Hellfire missile to kill three extremists who were setting up a mortar attack on Nov. 7 in Balad.

North said the Air Force has used concrete-filled bombs to detonate IED sites and is using 250-pound GBU-39 small-diameter bombs to make blasts safer for civilians. Commanders also have been using airstrikes on houses suspected to be rigged with explosives, called "house-borne IEDs."

Such a strike occurred Jan. 6, when soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team spotted five suspected insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles apparently rigging a house with explosives near Khan Bani Saad, northeast of Baghdad. Lt. Col. Stuart Pettis, air liaison officer for Multinational Division North, said the unit asked for airstrikes.

"After doing a show of force to get civilians out of the area, they engaged the house and the fighters with a 500-pound bomb," he said of the attack by two British Tornado GR4 jets. "They took the fighters out."

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4) Anti-war groups retreat on funding fight
By: Ryan Grim
Jan 17, 2008 06:03 AM EST
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0108/7949.html

After a series of legislative defeats in 2007 that saw the year end with more U.S. troops in Iraq than when it began, a coalition of anti-war groups is backing away from its multimillion-dollar drive to cut funding for the war and force Congress to pass timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.

In recognition of hard political reality, the groups instead will lower their sights and push for legislation to prevent President Bush from entering into a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could keep significant numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come.

The groups believe this switch in strategy can draw contrasts with Republicans that will help Democrats gain ground in November and bring the votes to pass more dramatic measures. But it is a long way from the early months of 2007, when Democrats were freshly in power and momentum for a dramatic shift in Iraq policy seemed overpowering.

“There was a consensus that last year was not productive,” John Isaacs, executive director of Council for a Livable World, said of a meeting attended by a coalition of anti-war groups last week. “Our expectations were dashed.”

The meeting, held at an office on K Street, was attended by around 20 representatives of influential anti-war groups, including MoveOn.org and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, which spent $12 million last year opposing the war.

Isaacs said he thought the meeting would be a difficult one, with an adamant faction pressing for continued focus on timelines and funding. It wasn’t to be.

“We got our heads together and decided to go a different way,” Isaacs said. “The consensus was not to keep beating our heads against the wall trying to block every funding bill — not because we don’t agree with it, but because we don’t have the votes.”

Moira Mack, a spokeswoman for AAEI, was also at the meeting. “There was a lot of agreement that this is really the way that we can best get our message across about endless war versus end-the-war and draw clear distinctions between anti-war Democrats and pro-war Republicans. They really don’t want to end the war. This is the perfect legislative opportunity.”

An additional factor: The failure of last year’s end-of-the-session efforts to oppose the war convinced some in the movement that the numbers just weren’t there. “At the end of the year, Congress went out with a whole bunch more votes on Iraq with the same result. Some of the [news] stories were saying that members of Congress were getting tired of it,” Isaacs said.

The new strategy doesn’t mean that the groups won’t be active during budget battles. “The budget debates provide an enormously rich opportunity to engage the public,” said former Maine Rep. Tom Andrews of the group Win Without War. “We’re spending $8 [billion] to $10 billion a month.”

During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) referenced the kind of legislation that the anti-war crowd will be backing when she asked Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) if he would co-sponsor a bill to prevent the president from entering into any long-term agreements with the Iraqi government without consulting Congress.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama will “support all common-sense efforts to ensure that President Bush does not tie the hands of future presidents through agreements with the Iraqi government.”

In December, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) sent a strongly worded letter to Bush asking for information about what types of agreements the president planned to enter into and urging that he consult with Congress first. It was signed by Clinton and Democratic Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.), Carl Levin (Mich.) and Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.).

“The feeling is that Clinton’s too hot to handle for legislation right now, so we’re hoping somebody like Casey will carry it,” Isaacs said, expressing concern that Clinton’s presidential run could give the bill too much partisan edge to get through the Senate.

In the House on Tuesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced a bill that would make clear that no federal money could be spent to implement an agreement Bush reaches with Iraq unless it’s in the form of a congressionally approved treaty.

Members of the anti-war coalition say they are working to gather co-sponsors for the bill but that they will also attempt to insert similar language in the upcoming supplemental spending bill. Late last year, Bush requested nearly $200 billion for the war effort; Democrats gave $70 billion and will be revisiting further funding soon.

For Mack, the logic of the argument seems straightforward. “Maliki is talking about getting congressional approval on the Iraq side,” Mack said, referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “It’s absurd that Bush wouldn’t go to the U.S. Congress.”

The anti-war movement also thinks it has a winning argument when it comes to the length of time Americans are willing to see U.S. forces in Iraq. Roughly half of Americans recently surveyed by CBS News want most U.S. troops out within a year, and more than half think it was a mistake to invade in the first place. Every Democratic candidate for president has promised to withdraw almost all troops from Iraq within the first year of his or her presidency.

Earlier this week, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qadir said U.S. troops might need to remain in Iraq until 2018, which could cost the United States $1 trillion or more between now and then, according to Congressional Budget Office projections. Bush said recently that it is “fine with me” if U.S. troop levels remain the same in Iraq, if Army Gen. David Petraeus recommends such a deployment.

Bush also said last week that U.S. troops “could easily” be in Iraq for a decade or more.

AAEI will have a budget roughly as large as it had last year, Mack said, and the new focus should be seen as an addition to its strategy, rather than as a retreat from a previous position. “Clearly, folks continue to oppose any more money for the war, and that was discussed as well. Our groups are still going to actively oppose any more funding,” she said.

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5) Israel Closes Gaza Borders
By STEVEN ERLANGER
January 19, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/19/world/middleeast/19mideast.html?hp

JERUSALEM — Israel closed all border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Friday, cutting off at least one aid shipment, and bombed the empty Interior Ministry building of the Palestinian Authority, which was already a ruin from a previous Israeli bombing.

Israel said it was acting to try to halt Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza, while Hamas and other Palestinian militants said that they had increased their rocket fire in retaliation against intensified Israeli raids.

In the bombing of the empty ministry building, which is in the crowded Al-Rimal neighborhood of western Gaza City, one woman, Haniah Abd-el Jawad, 52, was killed and up to 46 people injured by blast and shrapnel, some of them children, according to medical officials at Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital.

Israel has declared Gaza, run by Hamas, a “hostile entity” and has tried to convince its leaders to stop rocket fire by reducing supplies of gasoline, diesel fuel and electricity, a move that has brought challenges in the Israeli Supreme Court by Israeli nongovernmental organizations.

The Israeli military has been operating nearly every day inside Gaza, luring Hamas and allied gunmen into firefights, and 35 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Monday — 18 of them on Tuesday and another five on Thursday — and 80 people wounded, according to Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, director of the emergency medical service in Gaza.

After Tuesday, Hamas resumed firing Qassam rockets toward the Israeli border town of Sderot, along with other militant groups like Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. On Thursday, at least 40 rockets were launched, half of them landing in Israel, hitting two houses in Sderot and lightly wounding four Israelis, with a dozen more treated for shock.

On Friday, at least 31 more rockets were fired toward Israel and 16 landed, the Israeli army said, but no one was wounded.

But one rocket landed within 40 yards of a nursery school, which was in session, according to an Israeli spokesman, David Baker. Since Tuesday, the army said, 130 Qassams were launched; in general, about half land in Israel and the remainder land in Gaza.

The cycle of retaliation and response was described the other day by Yair Lapid, a well-known Israeli journalist, in the daily Yediot Aharonot: “The objective of the operation in Gaza is to prevent the Qassam fire. But the operation in Gaza is causing Qassams to be fired. The Qassam fire will, in turn, bring about the next operation in Gaza, which will lead to the next round of Qassam fire.”

Mr. Lapid continued: “Everyone is playing his role; each side pretends to be the initiator, while well aware in its heart of hearts that it is just as trapped as the other side is.”

On Friday, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, north of Gaza City-, Israel fired a rocket at a car killing a member of the Hamas military wing and another man whom Israel said were part of a rocket squad, and Israel also bombed a Hamas police facility in central Gaza.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, in the Balata refugee camp, Israeli commandos killed Ahmed Muhamad Ibrahim Sanakra, 21, a wanted gunman who was carrying a rifle, Israel said, and arrested four associates.

The Israeli decision to close border crossings is another attempt to pressure Hamas in Gaza, and at least one United Nations aid shipment was not allowed through on Friday.

The Defense Ministry said that all imports will have to be approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and would be limited to “humanitarian supplies” that are judged to be running low, like milk or cooking oil. Israel has already sharply restricted imports to Gaza since the Hamas takeover in June. The closure will likely be reviewed on Sunday in the weekly cabinet meeting.

Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that helps Palestinian refugees, said: “This situation in Gaza is dire and the continued closures, in the context of closures since June, only makes the situation of people of Gaza more perilous.”

His agency had been getting in 15 trucks of aid a day until Wednesday, he said, and while it has two months of stocks in Gaza, aid recipients still need fresh food to supplement the aid. He said Israel should broaden its definition of “humanitarian imports” to include schoolbooks, cement for needed health projects and chlorine for water purification.

In Sderot, Avi Barssessat, the president of a high-end mattress factory, Hollandia International, said he would now relocate his plant and its 120 employees to central Israel, exhausted by seven years of rocket attacks. “I hope it will be a warning light for the government,” he told the Jerusalem Post.

Separately, a study of the psychological impact of the rockets has found a very high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in Sderot, according to Dr. Rony Berger of the Natal Trauma Center.

In a survey of more than 500 adults in Sderot and an Israeli town of similar size, Ofakim, the survey found 28.4 percent of those in Sderot with the disorder, compared to 5.2 percent in Ofakim. The disorder means “functional impairment” and not just symptoms, Dr. Berger said in a telephone interview.

Some 44.9 percent of Sderot residents reported persistent symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including inability to sleep or concentrate, depression and anxiety, but without functional impairment, compared to 16.3 percent in Ofakim. New immigrants to Sderot have twice the frequency of symptoms compared to those born in Israel, who have become “more habituated to this kind of security pressure,” he said.

In Sderot, 91.9 percent said that a rocket had fallen on their street or an adjacent one, 55.8 percent have had their homes hit or hit by shrapnel from a Qassam and 48.4 percent said they knew someone killed by a Qassam. Thirteen Israelis, including eight from Sderot, have been killed by the rockets since 2001.

Dr. Berger and his colleagues treat families as a whole, he said. “It’s better to work with families, because those who learn ‘active coping’ are more resilient,” he said. “If they know what to do between alerts, whether it’s effective protection or not, they are better off than those who panic. It’s the helplessness that damages as much as the fear.”

Taghreed El-Khodary contributed reporting from Gaza City.

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6) Gates Seeks Troop Estimates
By THOM SHANKER
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/washington/18military.html?ref=world

WASHINGTON — When they decided last September to begin a slow withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the White House, Pentagon and senior military officers put off a harder decision about how long those withdrawals should continue.

Now, that battle is beginning again.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates disclosed on Thursday that he had instructed the top officer in Iraq, those responsible for the broader Middle East and those back at the Pentagon in charge of worldwide deployments to prepare to make their cases about the best way to proceed.

The process is meant to allow President Bush to balance troop requests from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, against other pressing national security needs, whether in Afghanistan or for a crisis elsewhere.

The overwhelming question is whether Mr. Bush will decide to halt the drawdown in July, when the number of troops is scheduled to revert to the 130,000 or so in place before the current troop “surge” began, or instead decide to order that the reductions continue, which would help ease strain on the overall force.

The answer will influence both the level of American commitment to Iraq and the future shape of the Army.

At a session on Wednesday sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, made clear his service’s desire to reduce those burdens, which have forced the lengthening of Army tours in Iraq to 15 months, three months longer than the service would like.

General Casey, who was General Petraeus’s predecessor in Iraq, said the ground force was “being so consumed” by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan that the Army was having “difficulty sustaining the all-volunteer force.”

By contrast, General Petraeus’s principal goal no doubt will be to seek sufficient troops to guarantee that security gains under the surge do not slip away, even as he reshapes the military commitment to focus more on training, supplying and otherwise helping Iraqi forces take over the country’s security.

Some outside experts have begun to warn in stark terms that to continue the drawdown beyond July could put at risk what the surge has accomplished.

Gen. Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff, said in Congressional testimony on Wednesday that it would be “an unacceptable risk” to reduce troop levels in Iraq below the cuts currently planned.

“We should not squander the gains that we’ve made,” he said.

Senior American commanders in Iraq declined to predict what troop levels might be at the end of the year, stating that their recommendations to the president would be based on security conditions on the ground.

“Everything I see now is, we will continue to make progress going down to 15 brigades,” Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said Thursday, referring to the level of combat troops now planned for July. “But to predict now whether we can go lower or not is difficult, and I would not want to make that prediction right now.”

The process that Mr. Gates outlined on Thursday would precede Congressional testimony that General Petraeus is scheduled to deliver in March or April, when his next troop request is due. It is similar to what Mr. Gates put in place last fall, before General Petraeus announced the decision to reduce troop levels from their peak of 20 brigades.

“I want to make sure that the president has the opportunity to hear from these different perspectives and to ensure that his senior military advisers and commanders have the opportunity to present their views directly and unvarnished to the president,” Mr. Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.

Among others who will present their views to the president are Adm. William J. Fallon, the overall American commander in the Middle East, who is being asked to assess military challenges and force requirements across the region.

That includes the current mission in Afghanistan as well as readiness for potential turmoil in Pakistan or hostile action by Iran.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, representing the institutional armed services, which provide trained forces for military operations, will also weigh in.

The Joint Chiefs, Mr. Gates said, “will look at the situation in Iraq and the situation in the region against the backdrop of our global requirements, stress on the force and all these other considerations.”

Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, acknowledged the differences among commanders trying to balance the demands of the current mission in Iraq, preparing for unexpected contingencies and relieving stress on the force. But he said there was no major rift.

At the briefing with Mr. Gates, General Cartwright said that when the Iraq force levels were debated last fall, all the senior officers in the discussion “came very, very close.”

“We had very few issues that we disagreed on,” he said, “and we worked through those issues to consensus to understand how we wanted to move forward.”

Both Mr. Gates and Mr. Bush have said that they want General Petraeus, when he puts forth his troop request, to think only of how to succeed in Iraq.

“I’ve asked General Petraeus to make his evaluation of the situation in Iraq and what he needs, and the situation on the ground, completely based on what’s going on in Iraq,” Mr. Gates said. “He doesn’t need to look over his shoulder, think about stress on the force or anything else.”

Mr. Bush spoke addressed the issue in a direct manner after meeting with General Petraeus and Ryan C. Crocker, the United States ambassador to Iraq, during his recent visit to the region.

After their closed-door discussion in Kuwait, Mr. Bush offered General Petraeus any support he might need for deciding that troop levels in Iraq could drop no further at this time.

“My attitude is, if he didn’t want to continue the drawdown, that’s fine with me, in order to make sure we succeed, see,” Mr. Bush said. “I said to the general, ‘If you want to slow her down, fine; it’s up to you.’ ”

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7) Facing Deportation but Clinging to Life in U.S.
By JULIA PRESTON
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/us/18hide.html?ref=us

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — She is a homeowner, a taxpayer, a friendly neighbor and an American citizen. Yet because she is married to an illegal immigrant, these days she feels like a fugitive.

Whenever her Mexican husband ventures out of the house, “it makes me sick to my stomach,” said the woman, who insisted on being identified only by a first name and last initial, Miriam M.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, he took too long,’ ” she said. “I’ll start calling. I go into panic.”

Over the last year, thousands of illegal immigrants and their families who live here have retreated from community life in Waukegan, a microcosm of a growing underground of illegal immigrants across the country who are clinging to homes and jobs despite the pressure of tougher federal and local enforcement.

From Illinois to Georgia to Arizona, these families are hiding in plain sight, to avoid being detected by immigration agents and deported. They do their shopping in towns distant from home, avoid parties and do not take vacations. They stay away from ethnic stores, forgo doctor’s visits and meetings at their children’s schools, and postpone girls’ normally lavish quinceañeras, or 15th birthday parties.

They avoid the police, even hesitating to report crimes.

“When we leave in the morning we know we are going to work,” said Elena G., a 47-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant and Waukegan resident of eight years who works in a factory near here. “ But we don’t know if we will be coming home.”

Last year, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than 35,000 illegal immigrants, including unauthorized workers and immigration fugitives, more than double the number in 2006. They sent 276,912 immigrants back to their home countries, a record number.

Since about three-quarters of an estimated 11.3 million illegal immigrants nationwide are from Latin America, and many have spouses, children or other relatives who are legal immigrants and citizens, the sense of alarm has spread broadly among Hispanics.

A survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, found in December that 53 percent of Hispanics in the United States worry that they or a loved one could be deported.

Stores catering to Hispanic immigrants in places like Atlanta and Cincinnati have closed because of the drop in customers. Michael L. Barrera, president of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said anecdotal reports had indicated that small storefront businesses had been the hardest hit by a sharp decline in spending by immigrants.

“The raids have really spooked them in a big way,” said Douglas S. Massey, a Princeton demographer who has studied Mexican immigrants for three decades.

Based on his own surveys and recent reports from other scholars doing field research in the Southwest and in North Carolina and other states, Professor Massey said the “palpable sense of fear and of traumatization” in immigrant communities was more intense than at any other time since the mass deportations of Mexican farm workers in 1954.

Federal immigration officials say that stepped-up enforcement over the last year by the Bush administration and some local authorities has persuaded growing numbers of illegal immigrants to return home. But in places like Waukegan, a racially mixed middle-class suburb north of Chicago, most have chosen to stay, held by families and jobs.

This city has been an immigrant landing for generations. Latinos have been coming since the 1960s and now are 40 percent of the population of 91,000. The number of illegal immigrants among them swelled in the last decade.

Despite their illegal status, those immigrants found steady jobs in factories and landscaping. Lacking Social Security numbers, they used Internal Revenue Service taxpayer numbers to open stores and businesses, enroll in the community college and take out bank loans to buy cars and homes.

The welcome began to fade four years ago, when the city government increased fines and penalties for driving without a license. Since Illinois requires a valid Social Security number for a license, many illegal immigrants lost their cars when they could not afford the fees for impounded vehicles.

Last summer the City Council voted to enter an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency, to train Waukegan police officers to initiate deportations of immigrants who were convicted felons. While city officials insisted the officers would handle only cases of imprisoned criminals, rumors spread that the traffic police would check the immigration status of anyone they stopped.

Also, in recent months federal immigration agents conducted two big raids nearby.

“People came to me and said, ‘Father, when did we become the enemy?’ ” said the Rev. Gary M. Graf, a Roman Catholic priest whose Waukegan parish includes many Latino immigrants.

City officials said that the tougher traffic ordinances were not intended to single out illegal immigrants or Hispanics, but to reduce accidents with uninsured drivers.

“The only reason we did it was for safety,” Mayor Richard H. Hyde said. “We don’t want anybody on the road that doesn’t have a license.”

Nonetheless, for many residents fear has become a daily companion. One woman, a 37-year-old naturalized citizen who was born in Central America but grew up in Waukegan, has decided to stay away from the city even though her mother still lives here. The woman, a lawyer practicing in the Chicago area, fell in love with an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

After they were married in 2004, she realized that under immigration law it would be difficult for him to become legal, even though she is a citizen. Because he had crossed the border illegally, seeking legal status would require him to return to Guatemala for years of separation, with no guarantee of success. She abandoned plans to move back to Waukegan. She and her husband feel safer in Chicago, with its large Hispanic population.

“I know everything about Waukegan; it’s my town,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous because of her husband’s status. “I know the high school, the first Mexican restaurant. I should feel free to go in and out whenever I want to. But it’s not the same freedom anymore.”

Raimundo V., 30, an illegal Mexican immigrant who has lived here for 13 years, said he canceled repairs on his home, which he owns, stopped buying in local stores, and was trying to save as much money as he could in case he should be arrested and deported.

“My expectation here is to be prepared for anything that comes,” Raimundo said.

Miriam M. and her husband, married in 2004, own a tidy house on a peaceful street and are raising four children from previous marriages, all United States citizens. He runs his own landscaping company, paying business and property taxes.

Even though Miriam M. is a citizen, it is difficult for her husband to obtain legal papers, since he entered illegally from Mexico 12 years ago. She did not focus on her husband’s illegal status when she first met him.

“Boyfriend and girlfriend, you don’t think much about it,” she said. “All right, maybe I didn’t want to think much about it.”

Now he stays close to home and avoids downtown Waukegan, driving around the city limits when he can.

Another immigrant, L. Gómez, 36, a Colombian recently on her way to becoming legal, said she had gone to the police and the courts in years past for protection from a violent husband. Since the crackdown, she said, she has avoided the authorities, even when her husband threatened her.

Hispanic business owners in Waukegan complain of a sales slump that they said went beyond the effects of a sluggish national economy.

“People are turning away from Waukegan business and going elsewhere to invest or to buy,” said Porfirio García, a Mexican-American who is president of Exit/Re-Gar Realty, a real estate brokerage firm.

At the Belvidere Mall, which caters to Hispanic customers, María Sotelo, a legal Mexican immigrant, said she was closing her store there after 17 years because her sales dropped in the last six months to $500 a week from $5,000. She sold satin and voile dresses for quinceañera parties and T-shirts from Mexican soccer teams.

“Since it all started with immigration, people don’t come here anymore,” Ms. Sotelo said.

Mr. Hyde and other city officials said they expected to wait several years before Congress adopted new laws to control illegal immigration. Meanwhile, the mayor said, he will do what he can by enforcing local law.

“Do I believe in closing the borders?” Mr. Hyde said. “Do I believe in putting troops down there? You bet your life. Illegal is illegal, and that’s the end of the conversation, really.”

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8) Ex-Hospital Patients File Lawsuit Over the Status of Health Care Services in New Orleans
By LESLIE EATON
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/us/18orleans.html?ref=us

A group of former patients of New Orleans’s shuttered public hospital filed a lawsuit on Thursday in a Louisiana state court, saying that medical care for the poor is still woefully inadequate in the city and asking for a return to the level of services the hospital provided before Hurricane Katrina.

Before the storm, Charity Hospital provided nearly all the basic, specialty and emergency care and mental health services for low-income residents. Louisiana State University, which operated the hospital, did not reopen it after the levees failed and the hospital’s basement flooded.

Instead, the state reopened the smaller University Hospital, which has an emergency room for trauma cases, but has many fewer beds and clinics than the larger hospital, known as Big Charity and built in the 1930s.

The plaintiffs, some of whom were born at the hospital, said in the lawsuit, which was filed in New Orleans, that they must travel hundreds of miles for care or incur big bills for treatment that had been free at Charity.

The lawsuit, which has been supported by some local politicians, doctors and law enforcement officials, argues that the university’s closing of the hospital was illegal without specific approval from the Legislature.

But Dr. Fred P. Cerise, vice president for health affairs at the university, said the state buildings department had made the decision to close the building.

“We happened to agree with it,” Dr. Cerise said, adding that university officials had planned to replace the building well before the storm and is pushing for a new, state-of-the-art hospital.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who are seeking class-action status to represent what they estimate are 100,000 uninsured residents in and near New Orleans, said they would ask a judge to require an evaluation of the old building.

But S. Stephen Rosenfeld, a Massachusetts lawyer who is working with local lawyers on the case, said the goal was not so much to reopen the building as to impel the state to develop a plan to restore medical services.

“This is about investing money in a system that works,” Mr. Rosenfeld said.

Dr. Cerise acknowledged that reopening clinics had gone much more slowly than the state had hoped, but he said that by the end of February the university would open three neighborhood clinics, a large clinic in a former department store downtown and a mental health emergency room.

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9) Legal Immigrants Facing a Longer Wait
By JULIA PRESTON
January 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/us/18immig.html?ref=us

Because of an unprecedented surge in immigration applications last summer, legal immigrants will have to wait much longer during the next two years to receive visas or naturalization papers, the top official of the federal agency that issues those documents said Thursday.

In a statement before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, the official, Emilio T. Gonzalez, the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said that from now until 2010 the agency would take an average of 18 months to process petitions from legal immigrants for citizenship, up from 7 months or less last year. Visas for permanent residents sponsored by relatives in the United States will take one year, up from the current average of six months or less, he said.

The announcement was awkward for Mr. Gonzalez, whose agency has long been criticized as a slow and confounding bureaucracy. In January 2007, when he announced a midyear fee increase of 66 percent for handling immigration documents, Mr. Gonzalez pledged to use the money to reduce the waiting time for naturalization to five months and for permanent resident visas to four months by the end of 2008.

He also promised that the higher fees, which took effect July 30, would allow the agency to “prevent future backlogs.”

But at the hearing on Thursday, Mr. Gonzalez said the prospect of higher fees had helped prompt a crush of more than three million applications of all types in June, July and spilling into August, a surge that he called “unprecedented in the history of immigration services of our nation.”

In June and July, he said, naturalization petitions spiked by nearly 350 percent compared with the same two months in 2006.

In the 2007 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the agency received 1.4 million citizenship applications, nearly double the number in the previous fiscal year. In the past, naturalization applications dropped off soon after surges provoked by fee increases, Mr. Gonzalez said.

Under questioning from subcommittee members, Mr. Gonzalez said he could not guarantee that immigrants who applied to become citizens last summer would be naturalized in time to vote in the November elections.

“It is really going to depend on where they filed and how clean their file is,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “There are a lot of moving parts,” he said, adding, “We are working this as quickly as possible.”

He said some offices had been overwhelmed by “a deluge.” According to agency figures, 145,251 naturalization applications were received by December in Los Angeles and 94,213 in Miami.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who leads the subcommittee, said she was frustrated with the waits for immigrants eager to become citizens. “We are not accepting that at this point,” she said.

Ms. Lofgren agreed with Mr. Gonzalez that delays for citizenship applicants were caused by, among other things, criminal background checks required by the F.B.I., which has a backlog of more than 300,000 such inquiries, including about 150,000 of more than six months, immigration officials said.

Jonathan Scharfen, the deputy director of the immigration agency, said the F.B.I. at one time had only 20 workers assigned to the checks, which often require manual review of paper records. The agency has since added 20 staff members and 220 contract workers to the task, Mr. Scharfen said.

By the end of last year, officials said, Citizenship and Immigration Services had sent receipt notices for all but a handful of the applications that arrived during the year. At one point last fall, the agency was struggling just to confirm that applications had been received.

Mr. Gonzalez said the agency planned to spend up to $480 million in fees from the recent applications to hire 1,800 employees in addition to 1,500 new workers who were already being selected and trained. The immigration agency pays for its operations almost entirely from fees.

Another witness at the hearing, Rosemary Jenks, said she had “come to dread the phrase ‘backlog reduction.’ ” Ms. Jenks, the director of government relations for NumbersUSA, a group that favors reduced immigration, said previous efforts by immigration agencies to handle surges like the recent one led officials to take “risky shortcuts.”

Mr. Gonzalez said on the whole, however, that the agency viewed the surge as good news. Immigrants are “demonstrating a deep desire to participate fully in this country’s civic life,” he said.

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10) Antidepressant Studies Unpublished
By BENEDICT CAREY
January 17, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/17/health/17depress.html?ref=health

The makers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil never published the results of about a third of the drug trials that they conducted to win government approval, misleading doctors and consumers about the drugs’ true effectiveness, a new analysis has found.

In published trials, about 60 percent of people taking the drugs report significant relief from depression, compared with roughly 40 percent of those on placebo pills. But when the less positive, unpublished trials are included, the advantage shrinks: the drugs outperform placebos, but by a modest margin, concludes the new report, which appears Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Previous research had found a similar bias toward reporting positive results for a variety of medications; and many researchers have questioned the reported effectiveness of antidepressants. But the new analysis, reviewing data from 74 trials involving 12 drugs, is the most thorough to date. And it documents a large difference: while 94 percent of the positive studies found their way into print, just 14 percent of those with disappointing or uncertain results did.

The finding is likely to inflame a continuing debate about how drug trial data is reported. In 2004, after revelations that negative findings from antidepressant trials had not been published, a group of leading journals agreed to stop publishing clinical trials that were not registered in a public database. Trade groups representing the world’s largest drug makers announced that members’ companies would begin to release more data from trials more quickly, on their own database, clinicalstudyresults.org.

And last year, Congress passed legislation that expanded the type of trials and the depth of information that must be submitted to clinicaltrials.gov, a public database operated by the National Library of Medicine. The Food and Drug Administration’s Web site provides limited access to recent reviews of drug trials, but critics say it is very hard to navigate.

“This is a very important study for two reasons,” said Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, editor in chief of The New England Journal. “One is that when you prescribe drugs, you want to make sure you’re working with best data possible; you wouldn’t buy a stock if you only knew a third of the truth about it.”

Second, Dr. Drazen continued, “we need to show respect for the people who enter a trial.”

“They take some risk to be in the trial, and then the drug company hides the data?” he asked. “That kind of thing gets us pretty passionate about this issue.”

Alan Goldhammer, deputy vice president for regulatory affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the new study neglected to mention that industry and government had already taken steps to make clinical trial information more transparent. “This is all based on data from before 2004, and since then we’ve put to rest the myth that companies have anything to hide,” he said.

In the study, a team of researchers identified all antidepressant trials submitted to the Food and Drug Administration to win approval from 1987 to 2004. The studies involved 12,564 adult patients testing drugs like Prozac from Eli Lilly, Zoloft from Pfizer and Effexor from Wyeth.

The researchers obtained unpublished data on the more recently approved drugs from the F.D.A.’s Web site. For older drugs, they tracked down hard copies of unpublished studies through colleagues, or using the Freedom of Information Act. They checked all of these studies against databases of published research, and also wrote to the companies that conducted the studies to ask if specific trials had been published.

They found that 37 of 38 trials that the F.D.A. viewed as having positive results were published in journals. The agency viewed as failed or unconvincing 36 other trials, of which 14 made it into journals.

But 11 of those 14 journal articles “conveyed a positive outcome” that was not justified by the underlying F.D.A. review, said the new study’s lead author, Dr. Erick H. Turner, a psychiatrist and former F.D.A. reviewer who now works at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His co-authors included researchers at Kent State University and the University of California, Riverside.

Dr. Turner said the selective reporting of favorable studies sets up patients for disappointment. “The bottom line for people considering an antidepressant, I think, is that they should be more circumspect about taking it,” he said, “and not be so shocked if it doesn’t work the first time and think something’s wrong with them.”

For doctors, he said, “They end up asking, ‘How come these drugs seem to work so well in all these studies, and I’m not getting that response?’ ”

Dr. Thomas P. Laughren, director of the division of psychiatry products at the F.D.A., said the agency had long been aware that favorable studies of drugs were more likely to be published.

“It’s a problem we’ve been struggling with for years,” he said in an interview. “I have no problem with full access to all trial data; the question for us is how do you fit it all on a package insert,” the information that accompanies many drugs.

Dr. Donald F. Klein, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Columbia, said drug makers were not the only ones who can be reluctant to publish unconvincing results. Journals, and study authors, too, may drop studies that are underwhelming.

“If it’s your private data, and you don’t like how it came out, well, we shouldn’t be surprised that some doctors don’t submit those studies,” he said.

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LINKS AND VERY SHORT STORIES

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National Briefing | West
California: Thermostat Plan
By FELICITY BARRINGER
After an outcry of objections, the California Energy Commission withdrew its proposal to require new buildings in the state to have radio-controlled thermostats that, in a power emergency, could be used to override customers’ temperature settings. Instead of making the proposal part of new state building requirements, the commissioners will discuss the use of the “programmable communicating thermostats” when considering how to manage electrical loads — with the understanding that customers would have the right to refuse to allow the state to override their wishes.
January 16, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/us/16brfs-THERMOSTATPL_BRF.html?ref=us

PDC Fact Sheet
Murdered by Mumia: Big Lies in the Service of Legal Lynching
Mumia is Innocent! Free Him Now!
http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/articles/factsheet-printable.html

Britain: Lethal Bird Flu at Famed Swan Reserve
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
World Briefing | Europe
The deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu has reached one of England’s most famous swan breeding grounds, the Abbotsbury Swannery on the Dorset coast. Tests on three dead mute swans confirmed the virus, spread by wild birds. The manager said he was working to determine how many swans might be affected.
January 11, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/world/europe/11briefs-swan.html?ref=world

Utah: Cholera Suspected in Bird Deaths
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
National Briefing | Rockies
About 1,500 dead birds that washed up on the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake may have been killed by avian cholera, an expert said. Dead grebes, ducks and gulls were being sent to the National Wildlife Health Center of the United States Geological Survey in Madison, Wis., for examination. “If I was a betting man,” said the expert, Tom Aldrich of the State Division of Wildlife Resources, “I would bet it was cholera.” The disease, which poisons the blood, spreads when birds are overcrowded and food supplies are short. It does not affect humans. [Doesn't affect humans? How does the death of birds not affect humans?...bw]
January 5, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/us/05brfs-CHOLERASUSPE_BRF.html?ref=us

United Nations: Assembly Calls for Freeze on Death Penalty
By WARREN HOGE
In a vote that made for unusual alliances, the General Assembly passed, 104 to 54 with 29 abstentions, a nonbinding resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Among the countries joining the United States in opposition to the European-led measure were Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Opponents argued that the resolution undermined their national sovereignty. Two similar moves in the 1990s failed, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the new vote was “evidence of a trend toward ultimately abolishing the death penalty.”
December 19, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/world/19briefs-deathpenalty.html?ref=world

Carbon Dioxide Threatens Reefs, Report Says
By KENNETH CHANG
National Briefing | Science and Health
Carbon dioxide in the air is turning the oceans acidic, and without a reduction in emissions, coral reefs may die away by the end of the century, researchers warn in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. Carbon dioxide dissolves into ocean water, changes to carbonic acid, and carbonic acid dissolves the calcium carbonate in the skeletons of corals. Laboratory experiments have shown that corals possess some ability to adapt to warmer waters but no ability to adapt to the higher acidity. “Unless we reverse our actions very quickly, by the end of the century, reefs could be a thing of the past,” said Ken Caldeira, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology and an author of the Science paper.
December 14, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/science/earth/14brfs-CARBONDIOXID_BRF.html?ref=science

Iraq: Marine Discharged Over Killing
By REUTERS
World Briefing | Middle East
A Marine reservist, Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced in rank to private, a day after being convicted at Camp Pendleton, Calif., of negligent homicide in the 2006 stabbing death of an Iraqi soldier he stood watch with at a guard post in Falluja. He has served 10 months in a military prison and will not spend any more time in custody. The lance corporal’s lawyer has said that the killing was in self-defense. Prosecutors contended that he killed the Iraqi and then set up the scene to support his story. He was also found guilty of making a false official statement.
December 15, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/15/world/middleeast/15briefs-MARINEDISCHA_BRF.html?ref=world

Canada: Mounties Urged to Restrict Taser Use
By IAN AUSTEN
In a report, the watchdog commission that oversees the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recommended that Taser stun guns be used only on people who are “combative or posing a risk of death or grievous bodily harm,” much like a conventional firearm rather than a nightstick or pepper spray. The report was ordered by the government after a confused and angry Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, left, died at the airport in Vancouver after being stunned at least twice by Mounties. The report found that Tasers were increasingly being used against people who were merely resistant rather than dangerous.
December 13, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/world/americas/13briefs-taser.html?ref=world

Greece: Tens of Thousands March in Strike
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A one-day strike by unions representing 2.5 million workers brought Athens to a standstill. Protesting planned government changes to the state-financed pension system, an estimated 80,000 people marched through central Athens. In Thessaloniki, 30,000 people rallied, the police said. The strike shut down hospitals, banks, schools, courts and all public services. Flights were canceled, and public transportation, including boats connecting the mainland with the islands, ground to a halt. More strikes are expected next week.
December 13, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/world/europe/13briefs-strike.html?ref=world

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GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS AND INFORMATION

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Russell Means Speaking at the Transform Columbus Day Rally
"If voting could do anything it would be illegal!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8Lri1-6aoY

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Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation
http://groups.msn.com/BayAreaIndianCalendar/activismissues.msnw?action=get_message&mview=1&ID_Message=5580

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We Didn't Start the Fire
http://yeli.us/Flash/Fire.html

I Can't Take it No More
http://lefti.blogspot.com/2007_11_01_archive.html#9214483115237950361

The Art of Mental Warfare
http://artofmentalwarfare.com/pog/artofmentalwarfarecom-the-warning/

MONEY AS DEBT
http://video. google.com/ videoplay? docid=-905047436 2583451279
http://www.moneyasd ebt.net/

UNCONSTITUTIONAL
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6582099850410121223&pr=goog-sl

IRAQ FOR SALE
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6621486727392146155

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Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOkn2Fg7R8w

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"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
http://www.accuracy.org/newsrelease.php?articleId=987

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A little gem:
Michael Moore Faces Off With Stephen Colbert [VIDEO]
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/57492/

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LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/qws/ff/qr?term=lapd&Submit=S&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&Go=Search&st=s

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Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007
http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeo9ewi/proudtobeblack2/

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"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]
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1936/12/nor.htm

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Wealth Inequality Charts
http://www.faireconomy.org/research/wealth_charts.html

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MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmzaaf-9aHQ

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

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YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtATT8GXkWg&mode=related&search

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The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/business/20070715_GILDED_GRAPHIC.html

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New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=795
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at: http://web.mac.com/rolandgarret

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[For some levity...Hans Groiner plays Monk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51bsCRv6kI0
...bw]

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Which country should we invade next?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3g_zqz3VjY

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My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup
http://www.myspace.com/thecoupmusic

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Michael Moore- The Awful Truth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeOaTpYl8mE

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Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_LsGoDWC0o

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Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfCjfod8yuw

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'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
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,2042968,00.html

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Introducing...................the Apple iRack
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KWYYIY4jQ

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"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, below...bw]

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THIS IS AN EXCELLENT VIDEO DESTRIBUTED BY U.S. LABOR AGAINST
THE WAR (USLAW) FEATURING SPEAKERS AT THE JANUARY 27TH
MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOCUSING ON THE DEMAND - BRING
THE TROOPS HOME NOW.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6935451906479097836&hl=en

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George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcJoJZIcQW4&eurl_

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Iran
http://www.lucasgray.com/video/peacetrain.html

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Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran
http://d3130.servadmin.com/~leeflash/

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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
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1091431409617440489

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Film/Song about Angola
http://www.prisonactivist.org/angola/

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"200 million children in the world sleep in the streets today.
Not one of them is Cuban."
(A sign in Havana)
Venceremos
View sign at bottom of page at:
http://www.cubasolidarity.net/index.html
[Thanks to Norma Harrison for sending this...bw]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"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 attack...film 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 http://www.fullduck.com/node/53.

Vasicek's web site, http://www.donvasicek.com, 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.

Contact:

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
7078 South Fairfax Street
Centennial, CO 80122
http://us.imdb.com/Name?Vasicek,+Don
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net
303-903-2103

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A NEW LOOK AT U.S. RADIOACTIVE WEAPONS
Join us in a campaign to expose and stop the use
of these illegal weapons
http://poisondust.org/

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You may enjoy watching these.
In struggle
Che:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqcezl9dD2c
Leon:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukkFVV5X0p4

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FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein
http://www.walterlippmann.com/sylvia-weinstein-fightback-intro.html

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[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
http://web.mac.com/rolandgarret]

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END ALL U.S. AID TO ISRAEL!
Stop funding Israel's war against Palestine
Complete the form at the website listed below with your information.
https://secure2.convio.net/pep/site/Advocacy?
JServSessionIdr003=cga2p2o6x1.app2a&cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=177

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Sand Creek Massacre
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FEATURED AT NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL:
http://www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/news/local/16035305.htm
(scroll down when you get there])
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING
WRITER/FILMMAKER DONALD L. VASICEK REPORT:
http://www.digitalcinemareport.com/sandcreekmassacre.html
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FINALIST IN DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL COMPETITION (VIEW HERE):
http://www.docupyx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=41
VIEW "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FILM MOVIE OF THE WEEK FOR FREE HERE:
http://twymancreative.com/twymanc.html

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.

You can help. The 22-MINUTE SAND CREEK MASSACRE
DOCUMENTARY PRESENTATION/EDUCATIONAL DVD IS
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 (dvasicek@earthlink.net, 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
http://us.imdb.com/Name?Vasicek,+Don
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net
303-903-2103

"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FEATURED AT NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL:
http://www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/news/local/16035305.htm
(scroll down when you get there])
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING
WRITER/FILMMAKER DONALD L. VASICEK REPORT:
http://www.digitalcinemareport.com/sandcreekmassacre.html
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FINALIST IN DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL COMPETITION (VIEW HERE):
http://www.docupyx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=41
VIEW "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FILM MOVIE OF THE WEEK FOR FREE HERE:
http://twymancreative.com/twymanc.html

SHOP:
http://www.manataka.org/page633.html
BuyIndies.com
donvasicek.com.Peace Articles at Libraryofpeace.org">

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