Sunday, March 09, 2008

BAUAW NEWSLETTER -SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2008

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COUNTDOWN TO MARCH 19!

Help build the March 19th day of action!

Volunteer now to get the word out! Plug into Tues. evening and Sat. afternoon outreach teams to make sure people know about the March 19 march and rally.

Postering & Outreach every Saturday through March 19
Help with postering and outreach tabling in San Francisco and the East Bay.
SF Outreach - 12-3pm, meet at 2489 Mission St. at 21st. St. (Rm. 24)
East Bay ANSWER Activist Meeting & Outreach - 12noon, 636 - 9th Street at MLK, Oakland
Join us for political analysis and discussion of the ongoing occupation of Iraq and plans for the March 19 demonstration on the 5th anniversary of the invasion. We will go out in teams to poster after the meeting.

You can also pick up flyers and posters in San Francisco at 2489 Mission St. Rm. 24. Call us at 415-821-6545. In the East Bay, call 510-435-0844.

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"What are they recruiting for?
Murder, rape, torture, war!"

What we should be teaching our children.
Watch this video then join us to get rid of JROTC.
Out of the mouths of babes:
http://lasinhanesia.multiply.com/video/item/5

THE NEXT MEETING OF JROTC MUST GO!
TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 7:00 P.M.
GLOBAL EXCHANGE
2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco
For more information on how you can become involved contact:
Bonnie Weinstein, (415) 824-8730
Nancy Macias, (415) 255-7296 ext. 229

NEW DANGER: ASSEMBLY BILL NUMBER 2429

California Assembly Bill Number 2429.
Bill Number 2429 was introduced by Assembly member Strickland on February 21, 2008 in the California Legislature. "This bill would require that a school district that prohibits JROTC programs from being established or conducting activities on its campus or campuses, or that prohibits or hinders its pupils from participating in an off-campus JROTC program, be prohibited from expending state funds on any extracurricular activity, as defined." For more information see
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/0708/bill/asm/ab_24012450/ab_2429_bill_20080221_introduced.pdf

ASSEMBLY BILL No. 2429
California legislature—2007–08 regular session
Introduced by Assembly Member Strickland
February 21, 2008
An act to add Article 5 (commencing with Section 52760) to Chapter
11 of Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, relating
to extracurricular activities.
Legislative counsel’s digest
AB 2429, as introduced, Strickland. Extracurricular activities: Junior
Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs.
Existing law establishes the public school system in this state, and,
among other things, provides for the establishment of school districts
throughout the state and for their provision of instruction at the public
elementary and secondary schools they operate and maintain. Existing
law establishes a public school funding system that includes, among
other elements, the provision of funding to local educational agencies
through state apportionments, the proceeds of property taxes collected
at the local level, and other sources. Existing law authorizes public
schools to sponsor various extracurricular activities for their pupils.
This bill would require that a school or school district that prohibits
Junior Reserve Officers’Training Corps (JROTC) programs from being
established or conducting activities on its campus or campuses, or that
prohibits or hinders its pupils from participating in an off-campus
JROTC program, be prohibited from expending state funds on any
extracurricular activity, as defined.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.
99
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
123456789
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
SECTION 1. Article 5 (commencing with Section 52760) is
added to Chapter 11 of Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the
Education Code, to read:
Article 5. Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC)
Programs
52760. A school or school district that prohibits Junior Reserve
Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs from being
established or conducting activities on its campus or campuses, or
that prohibits or hinders its pupils from participating in an
off-campus JROTC program shall be prohibited from expending
state funds on any extracurricular activity. As used in this article,
“extracurricular activity” includes, but is not necessarily limited
to, cultural activities such as dramatic or musical performances,
field trips, and interscholastic sports events, and payments made
to school personnel who provide supervision for those activities.
O
99
— 2 — AB 2429

and
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/0708/bill/asm/ab_24012450/ab_2429_bill_20080225_status.html

Send a letter to the Board of Education
JROTC MUST GO!

Please expand upon or send the letter below to the members of the
San Francisco Board of Education declaring:

We/I demand that the San Francisco school board phase
out JROTC at the end of the current 2007-2008 school
year, as you voted to do in 2006.

The reasons for phasing out JROTC are laid out very
clearly in the 2006 resolution.

http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/board/pdf/memberreso/sanchez%20kelly%20sub%20motion%20jrotc%20to%20budget%2010%2018%2006.pdf
(see below)

"The SFUSD has restricted the activities of military
recruiters on our campuses...

"JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated
by the United States Department of Defense, whose
documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an
important recruiting arm; and...

"JROTC manifests the military's discrimination against
LGBT people..."

Given the dangerous role that the U.S. military is
playing in the world today, and given the military's
ongoing discrimination against LGBT people, it would
be legally and morally repugnant for the school
district to continue to facilitate the military's
access to our students.

Send letters to: (please send copies to Bonnie Weinstein at giobon@comcast and Riva Enteen at riva187@yahoo.com

Mr. Norman Yee
YeeN1@sfusd.edu

Hydra Mendoza
MendozaH@sfusd.edu

Eric Mar, Esq.
mare@sfusd.edu

Kim-Shree Maufas
MaufasKS@sfusd.edu

Jane Kim
kimj7@sfusd.edu

Mark Sanchez
sanchezm5@sfusd.edu

Jill Wynn
wynnj@sfusd.edu

Norman Yee
YeeN1@sfusd.edu

Substitute Motion , As Amended
Adopted by the Board of Education at its Regular Meeting of November 14, 2006.

Subject: Resolution No. 65-23A1

PHASING OUT THE JROTC PROGRAM

- Mark Sanchez and Dan Kelly

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has banned educational partnerships with outside organizations that discriminate against any group based upon sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS: Civilian control of the military, and restriction of military involvement in civilian affairs is a fundamental characteristic of a healthy democracy; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has restricted the activities of military recruiters on our campuses; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has adopted violence prevention and conflict resolution strategies that promote non-violent behavior; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District requires that teachers of all academic courses be fully credentialed; and

WHEREAS: JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm; and

WHEREAS: No other potential employer or recruiter is given such a high profile, nor such extensive contact with students; and

WHEREAS: JROTC instructors are not certificated teachers, and may not even possess a college degree of any kind; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District share of JROTC salaries is provided from central budget, while regular PE teachers are charged against each school’s site-based budget; and

WHEREAS: JROTC manifests the military’s discrimination against LGBT people by offering non-LGBT students preferential enlistment options; and

WHEREAS: JROTC is one of the largest after school activities at some High Schools; and

WHEREAS: The Board of Education has received extensive testimony that JROTC promotes self-esteem, community service, and academic and leadership skills; and

WHEREAS: Many other student extra-curricular activities also develop self-esteem, academic and leadership skills, and a commitment to service; and

WHEREAS: The California Education Code permits, and some SFUSD schools allow, students to receive PE credit for sports participation, independent study, or other classes deemed equivalent.

Therefore Be It Resolved: The Board of Education finds that credentialing requirements for academic instructors and courses are not met by the JROTC, except where specifically allowable as a substitute for Physical Education; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that JROTC programs on campus constitute a form of military recruitment and are in violation of our policy governing fair access for recruiters on campuses; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC program violates our anti discrimination policies with regard to LGBT students and adults; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the funding mechanism of the JROTC creates inequities between High Schools in SFUSD; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC is an inappropriate extension of the nation’s military into the civilian sphere; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education hereby begins a two-year phase out of all JROTC programs in the SFUSD resulting in no JROTC classes in the 2008-2009 school year and beyond; and

Be it Further Resolved: No new JROTC units or programs may be initiated at any SFUSD schools, effective immediately; and

Be it Further Resolved: That SFUSD staff shall not direct or require that students enroll in JROTC as an alternative to PE, or for any other reason; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education will grant PE credits for sports participation, independent study, and other courses deemed appropriate, and requests staff to provide guidelines for Board approval by the first meeting in January 2007; and

Be It Further Resolved: That the Board of Education calls for the creation of a special task force to develop alternative, creative, career driven programs with the elements of the existing JROTC program that students have indicated important to them, which then will provide students with a greater sense of purpose and respect for self and humankind; and

Be It Further Resolved: That any new programs being implemented beginning academic year 2007-08 are evaluated before the end of the school year to test student satisfaction.

11/14/06

Please Note:

Taken up by the Curriculum and Program Committee on August 23, 2006. Substitute motion accepted by general consent of the Committee. Substitute Motion forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation from Committee, and to be taken up for action at the September 12, 2006 Regular Board Meeting by a vote of 2 ayes (Mar and Kelly), and 1 nay (Lipson).

Taken up by the Budget and Business Services Committee on 10/18/06. Substitute motion, as amended, forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation (2 ayes, l nay (Wynns) ). The Budget and Business Services Committee recommends to the Board that the intention of the original motion to develop an alternative program be addressed.

Substitute motion amended and adopted on 11/14/06.

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Call for an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference
Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!
Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.
Crown Plaza Hotel
Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation
P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email: NatAssembly@aol.com
http://natassembly.org/thecall/

List of Endorsers (below call):
http://natassembly.org/thecall/

Endorse the conference:
http://natassembly.org/endorse/

THE PURPOSE OF THE CONFERENCE:

2008 has ushered in the fifth year of the war against Iraq and an occupation "without end" of that beleaguered country. Unfortunately, the tremendous opposition in the U.S. to the war and occupation has not yet been fully reflected in united mass action.

The anniversary of the invasion has been marked in the U.S. by Iraq Veterans Against the War's (IVAW's) Winter Soldier hearings March 13-16, in Washington, DC, providing a forum for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to expose the horrors perpetrated by the U.S. wars. A nonviolent civil disobedience action against the war in Iraq was also called for March 19 in Washington and local actions around the country were slated during that month as well.

These actions help to give voice and visibility to the deeply held antiwar sentiment of this country's majority. Yet what is also urgently needed is a massive national mobilization sponsored by a united antiwar movement capable of bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets to demand "Out Now!"

Such a mobilization, in our opinion, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the war -- and held on a day agreeable to the IVAW -- could have greatly enhanced all the other activities which were part of that commemoration in the U.S. Indeed, a call was issued in London by the World Against War Conference on December 1, 2007 where 1,200 delegates from 43 nations, including Iraq, voted unanimously to call on antiwar movements in every country to mobilize mass protests against the war during the week of March 15-22 to demand that foreign troops be withdrawn immediately.

The absence of a massive united mobilization during this period in the United States -- the nation whose weapons of terrifying mass destruction have rained death and devastation on the Iraqi people -- when the whole world will mobilize in the most massive protests possible to mark this fifth year of war, should be a cause of great concern to us all.

For Mass Action to Stop the War: The independent and united mobilization of the antiwar majority in massive peaceful demonstrations in the streets against the war in Iraq is a critical element in forcing the U.S. government to immediately withdraw all U.S. military forces from that country, close all military bases, and recognize the right of the Iraqi people to determine their own destiny.

Mass actions aimed at visibly and powerfully demonstrating the will of the majority to stop the war now would dramatically show the world that despite the staunch opposition to this demand by the U.S. government, the struggle by the American people to end the slaughter goes on. And that struggle will continue until the last of the troops are withdrawn. Such actions also help bring the people of the United States onto the stage of history as active players and as makers of history itself.

Indeed, the history of every successful U.S. social movement, whether it be the elementary fight to organize trade unions to defend workers' interests, or to bring down the Jim Crow system of racial segregation, or to end the war in Vietnam, is in great part the history of independent and united mass actions aimed at engaging the vast majority to collectively fight in its own interests and therefore in the interests of all humanity.

For an Open Democratic Antiwar Conference: The most effective way to initiate and prepare united antiwar mobilizations is through convening democratic and open conferences that function transparently, with all who attend the conferences having the right to vote. It is not reasonable to expect that closed or narrow meetings of a select few, or gatherings representing only one portion of the movement, can substitute for the full participation of the extremely broad array of forces which today stand opposed to the war.

We therefore invite everyone, every organization, every coalition, everywhere in the U.S. - all who oppose the war and the occupation -- to attend an open democratic U.S. national antiwar conference and join with us in advancing and promoting the coming together of an antiwar movement in this country with the power to make a mighty contribution toward ending the war and occupation of Iraq now.

Everyone is welcome. The objective is to place on the agenda of the entire U.S. antiwar movement a proposal for the largest possible united mass mobilization(s) in the future to stop the war and end the occupation.

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.

List of Endorsers
http://natassembly.org/thecall/

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.
Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation
P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email: NatAssembly@aol.com

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For Immediate Release
UPDATE: SIXTH AL-AWDA CONVENTION TO MARK 60 YEARS OF PALESTINIAN NAKBA
Embassy Suites Hotel Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard,
Garden Grove, California, 92840
May 16-18, 2008

The 6th Annual International Al-Awda Convention will mark a devastating event in the long history of the Palestinian people. We call it our Nakba.

Confirmed speakers include Bishop Atallah Hanna, Supreme Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al Tamimi, Dr. Adel Samara, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Dr. Ghada Karmi, Dr. As'ad Abu Khalil, Dr. Saree Makdisi, and Ramzy Baroud. Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Salim El Hos and Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar have also been invited.

Host Organizations for the sixth international Al-Awda convention include Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Palestinian American Women Association, Free Palestine Alliance, National Council of Arab-Americans, Middle East Cultural and Information Center - San Diego, The Arab Community Center of the Inland Empire, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid - Southern California, Palestine Aid Society, Palestinian American Congress, Bethlehem Association, Al-Mubadara - Southern California, Union of Palestinian American Women, Birzeit Society , El-Bireh Society, Arab American Friends of Nazareth, Ramallah Club, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, International Action Center , Students for Justice in Palestine at CSUSB, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCR, Students for International Knowledge at CSUSB, Muslim Students Association at Palomar College, Muslim Students Association at UCSD, and Muslim Students Association at Mira Costa.

BACKGROUND

In May of 1948, with the support of the governments of the United States, Britain, and other European powers, Zionists declared the establishment of the "State of Israel" on stolen Palestinian Arab land and intensified their full-scale attack on Palestine. They occupied our land and forcibly expelled three quarters of a million of our people. This continues to be our great catastrophe, which we, as Palestinians with our supporters, have been struggling to overcome since.

The sixth international Al-Awda convention is taking place at a turning point in our struggle to return and reclaim our stolen homeland. Today, there are close to 10 million Palestinians of whom 7.5 million are living in forced exile from their homeland. While the Zionist "State of Israel" continues to besiege, sanction, deprive, isolate, discriminate against and murder our people, in addition to continually stealing more of our land, our resistance has grown. Along with our sisters and brothers at home and elsewhere in exile, Al-Awda has remained steadfast in demanding the implementation of the sacred, non-negotiable national, individual and collective right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands.

The sixth international Al-Awda convention will be a historic and unique event. The convention will aim to recapitulate Palestinian history with the help of those who have lived it, and to strengthen our ability to educate the US public about the importance and justness of implementing the unconditional right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. With symposia and specialty workshops, the focus of the convention will be on education that lead to strategies and mechanisms for expanding the effectiveness of our advocacy for the return.

INVITATION

We invite all Al-Awda members, and groups and individuals who support the implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin, and to reclaim their land, to join us in this landmark Sixth Annual International Convention on the 60th year of Al-Nakba.

MASS RALLY FOR THE RETURN TO PALESTINE

The convention will culminate in a major demonstration to mark 60 years of Nakba and to call for The RETURN TO PALESTINE. The demonstration will be held in solidarity and coordination with our sisters and brothers who continue the struggle in our beloved homeland.

DON'T DELAY! REGISTER TODAY!

Organizational endorsements welcome. Please write to us at convention6@ al-awda.org

For information on how to become part of the host committee, please write to convention6@ al-awda.org

For more information, please go to http://al-awda. org/convention6 and keep revisiting that page as it is being updated regularly.

To submit speaker and panel/workshop proposals, write to
info@al-awda. org or convention6@ al-awda.org

Until return,

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568
E-mail: info@al-awda. org
WWW: http://al-awda. org

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to Palestinian human rights. We are a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.

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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) Israeli ‘Holocaust’ in Gaza
By Ali Abunimah
The Electronic Intifada
February 29, 2008
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9354.shtml

2) REVEALED: THE US PLAN TO START A PALESTINIAN CIVIL WAR
Report, The Electronic Intifada
March 4, 2008
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9366.shtml
The Gaza Bombshell
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
by David Rose April 2008
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804

3) Venezuela Adds Forces at Colombian Border
"In the mounting diplomatic crisis, Mr. Chávez has called Colombia the 'Israel of Latin America' saying both countries bombed and invaded neighbors by invoking 'a supposed right to defense' that he said was ordered by the United States."
By SIMON ROMERO and GRAHAM BOWLEY
March 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/americas/06venez.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

4) Cash Culture
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
February 26, 2008
Prisonradio.org

5) Rights Group: More than 50% of Gaza casualties weren't militants
By Haaretz Service
03/03/2008
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/960338.html

6) Colombian defense minister says ties with Israel are strong
By The Associated Press
February 7, 2008
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/952272.html

7) Picking Up Pieces, Gazans Debate Israel Incursion
By STEVEN ERLANGER
March 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/middleeast/06gaza.html?ref=world

8) Iraq in Talks With American and European Companies to Develop 5 New Oil Fields
By SOLOMON MOORE
March 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/middleeast/06iraq.html?ref=world

9) Economy Lost 63,000 Jobs in February
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
March 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/business/07cnd-econ.html?hp

10) Nicaragua Breaks Ties With Bogotá Over Crisis
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
March 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/world/americas/07latin.html?ref=world

11) When Ben Bernanke Speaks ...
Editorial
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/opinion/09sun1.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

12) The Food Chain
A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can’t Fill
By DAVID STREITFELD
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/worldbusiness/09crop.html?ref=us

13) Fair Game
As Good as Cash, Until It’s Not
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/09gret.html?ref=business

14) The Feed
Fighting on a Battlefield the Size of a Milk Label
“A new advocacy group closely tied to Monsanto has started a counteroffensive to stop the proliferation of milk that comes from cows that aren’t treated with synthetic bovine growth hormone.”
By ANDREW MARTIN
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/09feed.html?ref=business

15) Lilly Waited Too Long to Warn About Schizophrenia Drug, Doctor Testifies
By ALEX BERENSON
March 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/08/health/policy/08drug.html?ref=health

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1) Israeli ‘Holocaust’ in Gaza
By Ali Abunimah
The Electronic Intifada
February 29, 2008
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9354.shtml

Israeli officials began damage limitation efforts after the country’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip with a “holocaust.”

The comments came a day after Israeli occupation forces killed 31 Palestinians, nine of them children, one a six-month-old baby, in a series of air raids across the Gaza Strip. Israel claimed that the attacks were in retaliation for a barrage of rockets fired by resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip, which killed one Israeli in the town of Sderot on Wednesday, February 27. Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas, said the rockets were in retaliation for the extrajudicial execution of five Hamas members carried out by Israel on Wednesday morning. Israeli occupation forces have killed more than 200 Palestinians since the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis peace summit last November. In the same period, five Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.

Speaking to Israeli army radio today, Vilnai said, “the more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

A report on the BBC News website headlined “Israel warns of Gaza ‘holocaust’“ noted that in Israel the word “holocaust”—shoah in Hebrew—is “a term rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi genocide during World War II.”

The BBC later reported that “many of Mr. Vilnai’s colleagues have quickly distanced themselves from his comments and also tried to downplay them saying he did not mean genocide.” An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Arye Mekel, claimed that Vilnai used the word “in the sense of a disaster or a catastrophe, and not in the sense of a holocaust.”

The attempt to limit the damage of Vilnai’s comments is not surprising. It was recently revealed how another Israeli official, Major-General Doron Almog, narrowly escaped arrest at London’s Heathrow airport in September 2005, in connection with allegations of war crimes committed against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. British police feared a gunfight if they attempted to board the El Al civilian aircraft on which Almog had arrived and on which he hid until he fled the United Kingdom back to Israel as a fugitive from justice.

Incitement to genocide is a punishable crime under the international Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948 after the Nazi holocaust.

“The 8 Stages of Genocide,” written by Greg Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, sets out a number of warning signs of an impending genocide, which include “dehumanization” of potential victim groups and preparation, whereby potential victims “are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved.”

Vilnai’s holocaust threat, however much Israeli officials attempt to qualify it, fits into a consistent pattern of belligerent statements and actions by Israeli officials. Israel has attempted to isolate the population of Gaza, deliberately restricting essential supplies, such as food, medicines and energy, a policy endorsed by the Israeli high court but condemned by international officials as illegal collective punishment.

As The Electronic Intifada has previously reported, dehumanizing statements by Israeli political and religious leaders directed at Palestinians are common (see “Top Israeli rabbis advocate genocide,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2007 and “Dehumanizing the Palestinians,” Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, September 21, 2007)

On February 28, Vilnai’s colleagues added their own inflammatory statements. Cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit stated that Israel should “hit everything that moves” in Gaza “with weapons and ammunition,” adding, “I don’t think we have to show pity for anyone who wants to kill us.”

And today, Tzachi Hanegbi, a senior member of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party said that Israel should invade Gaza to “topple the Hamas terror regime” and that Israeli forces, which now enforce the occupation of Gaza from the periphery and air, should prepare to remain in the interior of the territory “for years.”

While Israeli leaders escalate the violence and threats, some other top officials and a vast majority of the Israeli public support direct talks with Hamas to achieve a mutual ceasefire, something Hamas has repeatedly offered for months.

“Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on February 27 citing a Tel Aviv University poll. The report noted that half of Likud supporters and large majorities of Kadima and Labor party voters support such talks and only 28 percent of Israelis still oppose them.

Knesset Member Yossi Beilin, leader of the left-Zionist Meretz-Yahad party, called for an agreed ceasefire with Hamas, noting that “there have been at least two requests from Hamas, via a third party, to accept a cease-fire,” Haaretz reported on February 29. Israel’s public security minister, Avi Dichter, visiting Sderot the previous day, criticized Israel’s military escalation, saying, “Whoever talks about entering and occupying the Gaza Strip, these are populist ideas which I don’t connect to, and in my opinion, no intelligent person does either.” And, in an interview with the American magazine Mother Jones, published on February 19, the former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Efraim Halevy, repeated calls for Israel and the U.S. to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas. Dismissing lurid rhetoric about the group, Halevy stated that “Hamas is not al-Qaida,” and “is not subservient to Tehran.”

The question remains as to why when the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, some senior Israeli officials, and Hamas leaders are all talking about a ceasefire, the Israeli government refuses to accept one and the U.S. refuses to call for one. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has blamed the escalating bloodshed entirely on Hamas, and has failed to call for a ceasefire. This echoes her support for Israel’s merciless 2006 bombardment of Lebanon, which she notoriously celebrated as being “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

The Palestinian and Israeli populations are exhausted by the relentless bloodshed, however unequal its toll. They are paying the price of a failed policy, pushed by Washington and its local clients, which attempts to demonize, isolate and destroy any movement that resists the order that the United States seeks to impose on the region.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

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2) REVEALED: THE US PLAN TO START A PALESTINIAN CIVIL WAR
Report, The Electronic Intifada
March 4, 2008
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9366.shtml
The Gaza Bombshell
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
by David Rose April 2008
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804

United States officials including President George W. Bush
and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice participated in a
conspiracy to arm and train Contra-style Palestinian
militias nominally loyal to the Fatah party to overthrow
the democratically-elected Hamas government in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories, an investigative article
in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair has revealed. [1]

The allegations of such a conspiracy, long reported by The
Electronic Intifada, are corroborated in Vanity Fair with
confidential US government documents, interviews with
former US officials, Israeli officials and with Muhammad
Dahlan, the Gaza strongman personally chosen by Bush.

The article, by David Rose, recounts gruesome torture
documented on videotape of Hamas members by the US-armed
and funded militias under Dahlan's control. Hamas had
repeatedly alleged such torture as part of its
justification for its move to overthrow the Dahlan
militias and take full control of the interior of the Gaza
Strip in June 2007.

Vanity Fair reported that it has "obtained confidential
documents, since corroborated by sources in the US and
Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by
Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams
to provoke a Palestinian civil war." The magazine adds
that the plan "was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed
with new weapons supplied at America's behest, to give
Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the
democratically-elected Hamas-led government from power."

Abrams was one of the key Reagan administration figures
involved in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, whereby
the US illegally armed militias in Nicaragua to overthrow
the ruling Sandinista government. Abrams was convicted and
later pardoned for lying to Congress.

While it has been known that the US engaged in covert
activity to subvert Palestinian democracy and provoke
Palestinians to shed each other's blood, the extent of the
personal involvement of top US officials in attempting to
dictate the course of events in Palestine -- while
publicly preaching democracy -- has only now been brought
to light.

Muhammad Dahlan's 13 July 2003 letter to then Israeli
defense minister Shaul Mofaz.

Bush met and personally anointed Dahlan as "our guy" in
2003. In July 2007, The Electronic Intifada reported on a
leaked letter written by Dahlan and sent to the Israeli
defense minister in which he confirmed his role in a
conspiracy to overthrow then Palestinian Authority
President Yasser Arafat for whose replacement Bush had
publicly called. Dahlan wrote: "Be certain that Yasser
Arafat's final days are numbered, but allow us to finish
him off our way, not yours. And be sure as well that ...
the promises I made in front of President Bush, I will
give my life to keep."
(http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7116.shtml)

The US planning to overthrow the government elected by
Palestinians under occupation began immediately after the
Hamas movement won a clear victory in the January 2006
election for the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hamas,
however, proved "surprising resilient."

At a meeting at Abbas' Ramallah headquarters in October
2006, Rice personally ordered Abbas to dissolve the
government headed by Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh "within two
weeks" and replace it with an unelected "emergency
government."

When Abbas failed to act promptly on Rice's order, the US
stepped up its efforts to arm Dahlan in preparation for
the attempted coup. Hamas foiled the coup plot by moving
preemptively against Dahlan's gangs, many of whom refused
to fight despite being furnished with tens of millions of
dollars in weapons and training. The US-conceived
"emergency government" headed by a former World Bank
official, Salam Fayyad, was eventually appointed by Abbas,
but its authority is limited to parts of the
Israeli-occupied West Bank.

While the United States and Israel were the driving forces
behind the civil war and coup plot, others had a hand
including several Arab states and their intelligence
services. "The scheme," Rose writes, "bore some
resemblance to the Iran-contra scandal" in that "some of
the money for the [Nicaraguan] contras, like that for
Fatah, was furnished by Arab allies as a result of US
lobbying."

Endnotes [1] "The Gaza Bombshell," Vanity Fair, April
2008, (http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/
gaza200804)


Related Links:

Politics of fear, Osamah Khalil (8 October 2007)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9028.shtml

Overcoming the conspiracy against Palestine, Ali Abunimah (18 July 2007)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7116.shtml

Subverting democracy, Joseph Massad (4 July 2007)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7083.shtml

A setback for the Bush doctrine in Gaza, Ali Abunimah, (14 June 2007)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7030.shtml

Palestinian Pinochet Making His Move?, Tony Karon, (21 May 2007)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6925.shtml

The American proxy war in Gaza, Ali Abunimah (3 February 2007)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6494.shtml

Who is Mohammad Dahlan?, Arjan El Fassed (20 December 2006)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6275.shtml

Pinochet in Palestine, Joseph Massad (11 November 2006)
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6018.shtml

--
ABOUT US: The Electronic Intifada (EI), found at http://electronicIntifada.net, publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian perspective. EI is the leading Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its depiction in the media. More information about our work can be found at http://electronicIntifada.net/v2/aboutEI.shtml

To find out about other EI/eIraq lists available, see: http://lists.electronicintifada.net/mail.cgi

SUPPORT OUR PROJECT: Our work needs funding. We accept donations via credit card and cheque. U.S. donations are tax deductible. More information can be found at: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2162.shtml

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3) Venezuela Adds Forces at Colombian Border
"In the mounting diplomatic crisis, Mr. Chávez has called Colombia the 'Israel of Latin America' saying both countries bombed and invaded neighbors by invoking 'a supposed right to defense' that he said was ordered by the United States."
By SIMON ROMERO and GRAHAM BOWLEY
March 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/americas/06venez.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela said it was moving air, land and sea forces to its border with Colombia on Wednesday, in a further escalation of tensions that erupted after Colombian forces crossed into Ecuador over the weekend and killed a guerrilla leader taking refuge there.

At a morning news conference, the Venezuelan defense minister, Gustavo Rangel, gave fresh details of the forces his country was deploying, saying 10 battalions of troops were being put in place. On Tuesday, Venezuelan television broadcast images of tank battalions heading to the border.

The United States’ longstanding support for Colombia has become a focal point in the tensions. At the news conference, Mr. Rangel said the military maneuvers were directed at containing the United States’ reach.

“It is not against the people of Colombia, but rather the expansionist designs of the empire," Mr. Rangel said, referring to the United States.

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said on Sunday that Colombia would be inviting war if it carried out an incursion in Venezuela similar to the one on Saturday in a remote Amazonian province of Ecuador that killed 21 guerrillas.

In the mounting diplomatic crisis, Mr. Chávez has called Colombia the “Israel of Latin America” saying both countries bombed and invaded neighbors by invoking “a supposed right to defense” that he said was ordered by the United States. He has expelled Colombia’s ambassador. His agriculture minister said Tuesday that the frontier with Colombia would be closed to commerce.

In turn, Colombia said it would file charges against Mr. Chávez with the International Criminal Court, accusing him of assisting Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

President Bush has fiercely defended Colombia, which receives $600 million a year in American aid to fight the leftist rebels and drug trafficking. He used the diplomatic crisis to push Congress to approve a Colombia trade deal that has been stalled for more than a year because of concerns among senior Democrats over human rights abuses there.

Mr. Bush, who telephoned Colombia’s president, Álvaro Uribe, on Tuesday morning, told reporters at the White House, “I told the president that America fully supports Colombia’s democracy, and that we firmly oppose any acts of aggression that could destabilize the region.”

Employing a new strategy to portray the trade agreement with Colombia as an issue of national security, Mr. Bush used the occasion to call on Congress to ratify the deal as a way of countering leaders like Mr. Chávez who had emerged as scourges of American policies in the region.

“If we fail to approve this agreement, we will let down our close ally, we will damage our credibility in the region and we will embolden the demagogues in our hemisphere,” Mr. Bush said.

Although Colombia’s raid violated the sovereignty of Ecuador, not Venezuela’s , Mr. Chávez, an ally of Ecuador, has taken the lead in accusing Colombia of being an American stooge. That has been a favorite theme of his, especially since November, when Colombia abruptly withdrew support for Mr. Chávez’s mediation with the FARC, the group that Colombia attacked over the weekend.

Adding to the tensions on Tuesday, Colombia’s vice president, Francisco Santos, said Colombian forces had found evidence that the FARC had been seeking the ingredients to make a radioactive dirty bomb.

Material found on a laptop computer recovered in the raid into Ecuador provided the basis for Mr. Santos’s accusations about a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines highly radioactive material with conventional explosives to disperse deadly dust that people would inhale.

“This shows that these terrorist groups, supported by the economic power provided by drug trafficking, constitute a grave threat not just to our country, but to the entire Andean region and Latin America,” Mr. Santos said at a United Nations disarmament meeting in Geneva, in a statement that was posted in Spanish on the conference’s Web site. The rebels were “negotiating to get radioactive material, the primary base for making dirty weapons of destruction and terrorism,” he said.

It was unclear from Mr. Santos’s statement with whom the rebels were negotiating.

Mr. Santos made his claim based on information provided Monday in Bogotá by Colombia’s national police chief about the FARC’s negotiations for 110 pounds of uranium. The date were obtained from the laptop computer of Raúl Reyes, the senior FARC commander killed Saturday in Ecuador.

Colombia’s government also said this week that it had obtained information on the computer showing that Mr. Chávez was channeling $300 million to the FARC. The information is the basis for its plan to file charges against Mr. Chávez in the International Criminal Court, Mr. Uribe said Tuesday in Bogotá.

The tensions produced a heated diplomatic exchange during an emergency meeting convened Tuesday by the Organization of American States in Washington, during which several countries denounced Colombia’s actions as a violation of Ecuadorean sovereignty.

Foreign Minister María Isabel Salvador of Ecuador demanded that the organization formally condemn the actions by Colombia, dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate the events on its border, and call a meeting of regional foreign ministers to consider further action.

“Ecuador rejects any effort by Colombia to avoid responsibility for violating its sovereignty, which is a right that secures the peaceful coexistence of all nations,” Ms. Salvador said. “Diplomatic apologies are not enough.”

Ambassador Camilo Ospina of Colombia strongly denied accusations that Colombian troops had used military force on Ecuadorean territory, saying that aircraft fired into Ecuador from the Colombian side of the border.

He acknowledged that after the bombing, Colombian forces entered Ecuador to examine the FARC camp. And what they found, he said, was evidence that Ecuador had been harboring members of the FARC.

Mr. Ospina said that, in addition to the alleged payment by Mr. Chávez, the information found on the laptops that Colombian troops seized indicated that the government of the Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, had met several times with the FARC and allowed it to set up permanent bases in his country. Mr. Ospina said Colombia would seek charges against President Chávez at the International Criminal Court.

“There is not the least doubt that the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador have been negotiating with terrorists,” Mr. Ospina said. “Allowing terrorist groups to keep camps on their territory border for the planning and execution of terrorist acts is a crime and a clear violation of international treaties.”

Mr. Chávez’s threat of military action, which included a taunt that Venezuela would use its Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets to attack Colombia, has been interpreted here as a sign that Mr. Chávez stands ready to defend the FARC, a group classified as terrorist in the United States and Europe that is reported to operate without hindrance along Venezuela’s porous 1,300-mile border with Colombia.

Contrasting the FARC’s image in Colombia as a group that finances itself through cocaine trafficking and abductions and still plants land mines in rural areas, documentaries on state television here in Venezuela portray the FARC as an insurgency born out of efforts to combat Colombia’s moneyed elite.

On his Sunday television program, Mr. Chávez went further by calling for a minute of silence to mourn for Mr. Reyes, the fallen guerrilla leader whose real name was Luis Édgar Devia.

“Chávez is effectively supporting narcoterrorists who take refuge in Venezuela and Ecuador while saying a democratically elected leader of Colombia cannot fight back,” said Diego Arria, a former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations who is a vocal critic of Mr. Chávez.

Still, Mr. Uribe, Colombia’s president, is struggling to convince other countries in the region of Colombia’s need to carry out the foray into Ecuador. Even if they may agree with Mr. Uribe in private, leaders are hesitant to publicly back him, given sensitivities over territorial sovereignty.

“Uribe hasn’t developed much of a foreign policy strategy beyond depending on the United States,” said Michael Shifter, vice president for policy at Inter-American Dialogue, a research group in Washington. “This puts him into a bit of a bind.”

Few places can profess such longstanding support for the United States as Colombia, which sent battalions to fight alongside American troops in the Korean War.

Despite remaining the largest supplier of cocaine to the United States, Colombia has emerged as a top ally of the Bush administration, with hundreds of American military advisers welcomed there to assist Colombian security forces in counterinsurgency and antinarcotics operations.

But just as Mr. Uribe may be suffering because of his close ties to the United States, he may also be fortunate to have Mr. Chávez as his main adversary. Other countries in the region are increasingly uncomfortable with Mr. Chávez’s belligerence as concern emerges over Venezuela’s intervention in a matter involving Colombia and Ecuador.

“South America is not prepared for conflicts, and we do not want conflicts,” Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, told reporters in Brazil on Tuesday, explaining that his government would try to negotiate a solution to the dispute along with other countries.

Jenny Carolina González contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia; Uta Harnischfeger from Zurich; and Ginger Thompson from Washington.

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4) Cash Culture
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
February 26, 2008
Prisonradio.org

At the heart of the modern American entertainment industry, is the shameless, savage pursuit of profit.

I don't mean the commercial end, as is usual, but the so-called creative end, as shown by the flood of alleged "reality shows."

For many of the (as yet) unfamous, one is promised a knot of money; the more one gets, the more one debases himself. 'Eat a handful of writhing worms, and get a thousand bucks.' While the many shows have various themes, this is its essence; money for humiliation.

And with the recent writers' strike, we have seen the growth in such programming -- which often needs little or no scripting.

I'm convinced that such shows do far more than reveal a shadow-side of the American psyche; they reflect the will of the well-to-do; the wealthy few of the society, who demonstrate their power and dominance by such public displays.

Two thousand years ago, a handful of coins were cast to the teeming crowds as they gathered at the Coliseum. Then, as now, entertainment reflected the cruelties inherent to their cultures, and how such shows reinforce the positions of the powerful.

We can look beyond the contours of the idiot box to the outer world in which we live and breathe. Such shows give us insight into how workers daily are forced to accept humiliations in order to pay for food and shelter. Such shows merely reinforce this social dynamic.

Moreover, what is our politics but a grim replay of the same?

Politicians willingly humiliate themselves daily, wear silly hats, and make stupid promises, to get elected.

These exercises cost absolutely obscene amounts of money. just as the nation slides into recession. For example, each Democratic presidential candidate has raised (and spent!) over $100 million dollars. $100,000,000! -- for a job that pays $400,000 a year!

And, truth be told, politicians, even the seemingly most powerful, are but puppets of those more powerful than they.

Such is American cash culture at the beginning of this new century, where everything is for sale -- for the right price!

But just because something is for sale doesn't mean it's truly worth anything.

--(c) '08 maj

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5) Rights Group: More than 50% of Gaza casualties weren't militants
By Haaretz Service
03/03/2008
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/960338.html

The human rights organization B'Tselem on Monday said in a statement that more than half of the Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip in Israel Defense Forces operations in recent days did not take an active part in the fighting. This statement came after the IDF Chief of Staff issued a statement saying that 90 percent of those killed were in fact armed militants.

In their statement, B'Tselem outlined a string of incidents in which IDF allegedly killed innocent bystanders in the course of military operations aimed at battling the escalating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel.

According to data gathered by B'Tselem, 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and march 3. Fifty four of them were civilians who didn't take part in the fighting, and 25 were under 18, the statement said.

The human rights group cites as an example an incident that occurred on Thursday, in which four children were killed and two others were wounded in an Israel Air Force strike targeting rocket launchers. The children had been playing soccer in a street east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. The organization's inquiry into the incident revealed that the Qassam launcher may have been situated 100 meters from the site of the strike, and no militants were harmed in the strike.

Another incident cited by B'Tselem is the death of a brother and sister aged 16 and 17 while they were watching the violence from the window of their home east of Jabaliya. According to witnesses, the two were shot in the head and the chest.

B'Tselem expressed concern over the high number of civilians, especially children, who have been killed recently in the Gaza Strip. "Israel has a right to defend its citizens from rockets, which are in themselves a war crime, and it is what it must do," the organization wrote. "Israel must do so within the confines of the law, which must conform to the criteria of differentiation and proportionality as defined by international humanitarian law."

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6) Colombian defense minister says ties with Israel are strong
By The Associated Press
February 7, 2008
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/952272.html

Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday praised his country's long defense relationship with Israel, saying he sought to boost it further by setting up a bilateral fund for technological research and development.

Hosting Santos at his official Jerusalem residence, President Shimon Peres said that in the 1950s, Colombia defied international embargoes to ship weapons to the newly created Jewish state, a statement from Peres' office said.

"In recent years the situation has come full circle, and Israel is able to repay Columbia in kind," it quoted Peres as saying, without elaborating.

Israel does not publish details of its arms exports but local media reports have said it is a major supplier of military hardware and expertise to Colombia.

Israeli media reported last week that Israel has been supplying Bogota with drone aircraft, arms, ammunition and electronic equipment for use in combatting the country's drug lords, quoting the Colombian weekly Semana as saying that Santos had confirmed that Israeli advisers had been working with his men.

"I have come to strengthen cooperation, not only in the defense field but in every area," Peres' office quoted Santos as saying. Israeli government data list overall exports to Colombia last year as worth $151 million.

During a fall trip by Santos to Washington, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on Congress to extend a freeze of $55 million in military assistance to Colombia and ask the minister to explain what the groups called a steep rise in reports of illegal executions by the country's military.

Information on Santos' visit to Israel was scanty. The Colombian Embassy in Israel said only that he arrived Sunday and was scheduled to return home on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry referred inquiries to the Defense Ministry, where officials said Santos had met his Israeli host Ehud Barak but gave no details of their talks.

One issue the two were expected to discuss was the fate of a former Israeli army officer wanted by Colombia for training the country's right-wing death squads.

Yair Klein, a former lieutenant colonel, was detained last August at a Moscow airport on an arrest warrant issued by Interpol. Bogota is seeking his extradition.

A Colombian judge convicted and sentenced Klein in his absence to 10 years in prison for his role in the 1980s training of far-right paramilitary groups responsible for mass murder and widespread land theft. Klein and two other Israelis are also accused of training the private army of druglord Pablo Escobar, shot dead by police in 1993.

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7) Picking Up Pieces, Gazans Debate Israel Incursion
By STEVEN ERLANGER
March 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/middleeast/06gaza.html?ref=world

JABALIYA, Gaza — In a small shop by their rocketed, bullet-pocked apartment building, the Abed Rabo family argued raucously about the impact of the 48-hour Israeli military incursion, which killed nearly 100 Palestinians, including some neighbors.

“We all support resistance to the Israelis,” said Hitam Abed Rabo, 33, a lawyer with the military court set up by Hamas, which she supports. “They talk about responding to rockets, but nothing justifies what the Israelis did here. They have to be confronted with strong resistance, so they don’t come back.”

Will firing rockets on Israeli towns bring independence and freedom? “Yes,” she said. “Absolutely.”

Ayash Abed Rabo, 34, her cousin, scoffed. “These rockets are a joke,” he said. “We want to live. We want peace. I don’t want Israel here, and I don’t want resistance.”

It was a conversation that, in various forms, was repeated across the Gaza Strip this week.

Israeli officials say the operation was meant to show Hamas — the militant Islamist group in power here, which opposes peace with Israel — the cost of continuing to fire rockets, especially the longer range ones, and to try to create further popular dissatisfaction with Hamas. Arguments persist over how many of the dead were truly uninvolved civilians, with Palestinian officials saying half or more than half, and Israel saying far less than half.

But the residents here were horrified by the numbers of civilians they believed had died, and even officials here of Fatah — the more secular Palestinian party negotiating with Israel — think the popular reaction has served to strengthen Hamas by turning it into the victim, at least in the short term.

Nabil Katari, 46, is a local organizer for the Fatah youth, and his brother is a prominent local member of Hamas. “I think Israel is strengthening Hamas by aiming at civilians,” he said, a charge Israel vehemently denies. “People always sympathize with the fighters and the victims.”

Worse, he said, both Hamas and Israel are exaggerating the threat and the number of weapons here. “When we claim we have a lot and really don’t have much compared to the Israelis, we serve their interests and let them justify hitting so hard,” he said. “I feel something catastrophic coming.”

The Abed Rabo family has traditional ties to Fatah, like many of those along Al Quds Street here in eastern Jabaliya, where the Israeli forces concentrated and where mourning tents now line the road.

Mr. Abed Rabo owns the shop, and he, like the other 60 people in the building, many of them relatives, were kept in a single room by Israeli soldiers during the incursion. Hitam went to march on Monday in the large Hamas demonstration celebrating the Israeli withdrawal, which Hamas called a victory. Ayash said: “That celebration was a lie. To celebrate what? More than 100 people killed? And only two Israelis were killed?”

Hitam broke in. “It was a celebration. We pushed them out. We aren’t equal militarily, and two dead soldiers is a lot for them. And it was a celebration because our dead are martyrs and will go to paradise. They were strong and powerful.”

There is anxiety in Gaza about Hamas, which has moved swiftly to consolidate its power and whose armed policemen and military men are visible in the streets. They provide order and have ended security chaos and much crime, but they are also an intimidating force, smoothly breaking up a Fatah rally called for Wednesday by changing its venue, turning back buses of supporters trying to reach Gaza City and putting hundreds of men, armed with guns and wooden sticks, along the streets.

Ayash Abed Rabo, the shop owner, said: “People are afraid to express themselves fully. We spoke to you, but someone will go to them and say that you were here and that this is what was said by whom. But I’m not afraid — I haven’t said anything that Mahmoud Abbas hasn’t said, and he’s the president.”

Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, said in an interview that people were free to express themselves, and that the dead died honorably. “The number of martyrs is the price of convincing world opinion about the justice of the Palestinian cause,” he said. “The celebration was in support of the martyrs and of resistance as a choice.”

He insisted that Hamas was in control of Gaza and coordinated rocket firing with other groups, but a moment later said that Hamas would not stop other groups from firing rockets and resisting Israel in their own fashion. But he also said that the number of rockets fired depended on Hamas’s calculation of the Palestinian interest at the time, and that Mr. Abbas’s negotiations with Israel were futile and a form of collaboration. “The Hamas project is liberation, and Hamas believes that Israel only understands the language of force.”

Mr. Barhoum, too, seemed to think that this incursion was a kind of advertisement for the future, and insisted that Israel would fail in any larger military operation, “which will just increase the popularity of Hamas.”

The intense fighting here took place during the first two hours of the incursion Saturday just after midnight, when most of the fighters were killed. Most of the time Israeli soldiers took up positions, moved from house to house, looked for weapons, interrogated young people and arrested several dozen for further questioning inside Israel.

Tanks and armored bulldozers chopped up pavements and broke down walls, knocking down hundreds of yards of electricity and telephone cables, now being respliced. But the damage is relatively limited, and the incursion seems to have been a kind of exercise in how to take over a heavily populated area from which Hamas and other gunmen are fighting and firing rockets.

Residents say the Israeli soldiers were more anxious than during past incursions, and gruffer. At least four young men said independently that the soldiers used them as human shields. The young men were blindfolded and handcuffed, and then lined up, two or three at a time, in front of an Israeli soldier, they said, who guided them from behind as they moved down this street or entered another building. Sometimes, they said, a soldier used their shoulders as props for his M-16 rifle.

The young men — Riad Abed Rabo, 26; his brother, Muhammad, 21; his cousin Majdi, also 21; and Hassan Abu Sabah, 32 — all said that the Israelis picked them out from the rooms in which building residents were kept, searched them, handcuffed and blindfolded them, and used them as shields before letting them go seven to eight hours later. The use of civilians as shields has been banned by Israel’s Supreme Court. A military spokesman said that some young men were cuffed, blindfolded and walked to an interrogation center, but denied that anyone was used as a human shield.

Some 50 yards down the street, next to a bullet-hole-pocked Internet cafe painted with the Microsoft Windows logo and the slogan, “Word without Borders,” there was another mourning tent, the site of an extraordinary political and family drama.

The family of Muhammad Abu Shbak, 37, lives here. Mr. Abu Shbak is a cousin and was a bodyguard of an important Fatah general, Rashid Abu Shbak, an ally of Muhammad Dahlan and his successor as chief of preventive security. After numerous assassination attempts by Hamas and its allies, Rashid Abu Shbak fled Gaza for Egypt. Muhammad Abu Shbak fled to Ramallah, in the West Bank, when Hamas forces routed Fatah forces last June, and neither dared to return.

Mirvat Abu Shbak, 34, Muhammad’s wife, stayed behind with their five children. The two eldest — Jacqueline, 17, and Iyad, 16 — were killed in the incursion, and Mirvat insists they were shot by an Israeli sniper.

“We were sleeping at midnight when there was a lot of shooting,” she said, in a room of mourning women, sitting on floor cushions under a patterned nylon blanket. “An Israeli sniper took a position in the house next door, and he could see me, and me him,” she said. “I was with all my kids. At 2 a.m., Iyad wanted to go to the bathroom, and when he got up they shot him in the chest, and I could feel the bullet pressing out his back,” she said.

“Jacqueline had been sleeping, and woke up and said, ‘My mother, Iyad is injured,’ and she moved her head a little and she was shot in the mouth, and the bullet came out the back of her head.” Mrs. Abu Shbak kept her composure, as her relatives patted her hand.

“There was blood everywhere, and I fell to the floor, and the sniper kept shooting, every 30 seconds, and I managed to help my children crawl out of the room.”

Her husband, she thought, could never return. But with the help of the Hamas brother of Nabil Katari, the Fatah organizer, who arranged a safe passage for him, Mr. Abu Shbak arrived home Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, he, too, was at the mourning tent, with Khaled al-Batsh, the head of Islamic Jihad here, watching over him. “Now I’m back, I’m not going to leave,” Mr. Abu Shbak said. “I think Hamas will be no problem. We are one people.”

He spoke to Jacqueline on the phone 20 minutes before she died, he said. “She wanted to tell me her exam results — she got 97 percent, this I remember, and Iyad told me, ‘I miss you a lot, Dad.’ ” He seemed shaky and spoke quietly. “I give the blood of my children as a gift to national unity,” he said. “All my interest now is unity. We have to end the division.”

Mr. Katari, their neighbor, thinks unity is far away. “Hamas is very closed-minded,” he said. “Abu Shbak wants to stay here, but he should probably take his family and go.”

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8) Iraq in Talks With American and European Companies to Develop 5 New Oil Fields
By SOLOMON MOORE
March 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/middleeast/06iraq.html?ref=world

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government is negotiating with American and European oil companies to manage the development of five new fields in northern and southern Iraq, an Oil Ministry official said Wednesday.

Iraq hopes to reach agreements that will help it reach its goal of increasing crude oil production — now 2.3 million barrels a day — by 500,000 barrels a day, said Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Oil Ministry.

The oil minister, Hussain al-Sharistani, is in Vienna for a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and did not respond to requests for an interview.

Iraq once had one of the region’s strongest agricultural and industrial economies. But United Nations sanctions and years of war with Iran destroyed much of its economic base, leaving the nation heavily dependent on petrodollars.

Hobbled by armed conflict, mismanagement and neglect, Iraq produces less oil than Saudi Arabia (more than nine million barrels a day) or Iran (nearly four million barrels a day), and far less than its potential capacity.

Mr. Jihad said Iraq hoped to produce six million barrels of crude a day by 2015.

He declined to identify the companies invited to bid on the technical service contracts because the deals have not been completed. But in previous interviews Iraqi officials have described meetings in February with executives from Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA.

Mr. Jihad said Iraqi officials selected specific companies for their knowledge of Iraq’s oil fields and their expertise in managing large development projects.

The negotiations are in their second round, he said, and would probably be completed by the end of this month.

“These companies can offer their management experience, oil field studies and consultation on technology,” he said. “And the Iraqis will execute. The Iraqis will provide the labor.”

Despite Iraq’s enormous reserves — in excess of 100 billion barrels — global oil corporations have been reluctant to invest because of a lack of clarity among Iraqi politicians about how to develop the industry and how to share profits. The monumental scale of the violence in Iraq has also dissuaded many investors.

“Companies have been hesitant to invest in Iraq’s oil fields because of the security conditions,” Mr. Jihad said. “But these contracts are short term. These contracts are the best we can do under the current conditions.”

The Oil Ministry is studying more than 70 oil exploration bids, he added.

Parliament has still not agreed on a law to determine how the country’s oil wealth will be divided. But a Kurdish official reached late Wednesday said that while he was not familiar with the details of the negotiations, he could not immediately see why the Kurdish government would oppose them.

The Kurds angered Sunni and Shiite leaders last fall when they signed oil exploration and development deals with international oil companies.

In a development in the aftermath of the trial of two former high-ranking Health Ministry officials, the Justice Ministry released them on Wednesday.

Ghadanfar Hamood al-Gasim, Iraq’s top prosecutor, said the three-judge panel that acquitted the two of running Shiite death squads in 2005 and 2006 had ordered their release from American custody.

The trial of the men, Hakim al-Zamili, a former deputy health minister, and Hameed al-Shimari, the former director of the ministry’s 13,000 member security service, was the first major prosecution of suspected Shiite death squad leaders.

The sectarian death squads, many of whose members were government security guards, paramilitary personnel and police officers, killed thousands of people, most of them Sunni Arabs, from 2005 to 2007, and reshaped the sectarian demographics of Baghdad.

Violence swept the predominantly Sunni Salahuddin Province in northern Iraq on Wednesday, even as the American ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker; the deputy prime minister, Barham Salih; and other top officials from seven northern provinces met to discuss reconstruction plans.

Insurgents and local townspeople exchanged heavy gunfire in a village near Balad, about 60 miles north of the capital, the Iraqi police said. At least two people were killed in the clashes and at least 10 others were wounded.

A roadside bomb in the same town the day before hit an American convoy, killing a Sudanese interpreter and wounding two American soldiers, the American military confirmed Wednesday.

Another roadside bomb in the same vicinity killed an Iraqi and wounded three other people.

In Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein about 80 miles north of Baghdad, the Iraqi police killed a suspected insurgent during a raid on his home, an Iraqi security official said.

In Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his van near a checkpoint, wounding six people. A police official said the blast could have been more deadly, but guards shot the driver before he reached the checkpoint.

In the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, about 180 miles north of Baghdad, gunmen killed a man with Iraqi and New Zealand citizenship.

The victim, Dr. Abdul-Satar Tahir Sharif, 75, was a lecturer at Kirkuk University, local police officials said.

In a separate attack near Kirkuk, gunmen killed two people and wounded four others, the police said. All the victims were members of the same family. And in a third attack in the Kirkuk area, a roadside bomb killed one person and wounded two others.

In Mosul, a city about 230 miles north of Baghdad that still seethes with sectarian violence, local police officials said insurgents had killed two policemen.

The police also discovered three unidentified bodies, including one that had been decapitated.

In Baghdad, gunmen killed one man and Iraqi police discovered four bodies, a police spokesman said.

Ahmad Fadham and Mudhafer al-Husaini contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Tikrit, Mosul and Kirkuk.

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9) Economy Lost 63,000 Jobs in February
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
March 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/business/07cnd-econ.html?hp

The economy shed 63,000 jobs in February, the government said on Friday, the fastest falloff in five years and the strongest evidence yet that the nation is headed toward — or may already be in — a recession.

Manufacturers and construction companies, reeling from the worst housing slump in decades, led the declines in payrolls. But the losses were spread across a broad range of businesses — including department stores, offices and retail outlets — putting increased pressure on consumers’ pocketbooks.

The unexpected decline raised anticipation on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates again later this month, perhaps by as much as a full percentage point, as the central bank scrambles to stave off a steep economic slowdown.

“I haven’t seen a job report this recessionary since the last recession,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “This is a picture of a labor market becoming clearly infected by the contagion from the rest of the economy.”

Stock markets dropped after the opening bell, then recovered before heading down again as Wall Street weighed the economic news. The Dow Jones industrials closed down 146.70 points, or 1.2 percent, at 11,893.69.

Before the jobs report was released, the Fed announced that it would increase the amount of money it makes available to banks in a larger effort to unlock a panic in the credit market. As part of the plan, the Fed will release $100 billion in through a series of auctions intended to make it easier for banks to borrow money from the government.

But the focus on Friday was squarely on the jobs report, which revealed widespread cracks in the nation’s labor market.

The private sector lost 101,000 jobs last month, the biggest dropoff in five years. Retail stores shed 34,000 jobs, while the manufacturing sector lost 52,000 workers and construction firm payrolls shrank by 39,000 jobs.

The loss in February was the second consecutive monthly decline in the labor market; economists had predicted a slight increase. The government also revised down its estimate for January to a loss of 22,000 jobs — the first decline in four years — and cut in half its estimate for job growth in December.

“One month you can dismiss,” said Ethan Harris, chief United States economist at Lehman Brothers. “Two months is a lot harder.”

In an interview, Mr. Harris sounded discouraged, a feeling shared by the growing number of Americans who are out of a job. Fewer Americans looked for work in February, and the size of the nation’s overall labor force declined.

Those developments sent the unemployment rate down to 4.8 percent last month from 4.9 percent in January. “Had the 450,000 people who left the labor force last month been counted among the unemployed, the jobless rate would have been 5.1 percent instead of 4.8 percent,” said Mr. Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute.

Wages stayed stagnant in February, further depressing the outlook for consumer spending over the next few months. Among rank-and-file workers — more than 80 percent of the work force — average pay grew just 0.3 percent to $17.20 an hour. Wages are effectively running flat when adjusted for inflation.

President Bush acknowledged on Friday afternoon that it is “clear our economy has slowed.” But he said he was confident that the recently enacted stimulus package, which will soon put checks in the mail for millions of Americans, would indeed be the “booster shot” the economy needs.

The president, who appeared briefly outside the White House and took no questions, said nothing has shaken his faith in his “pro-growth, low-tax policies that put faith in the American people.”

The White House also released a “fact sheet” asserting that the economy remains “structurally sound for the long term.”

Despite the latest report, the White House insisted that, over all, job growth has been encouraging in recent months. “Our economy has added about 860,000 jobs over the last 12 months — an average of 72,000 jobs per month — and more than 8.1 million since August 2003,” the White House said.

The White House pointed to recent steps to aid “responsible homeowners,” as opposed to irresponsible speculators, with their mortgages, and it called on Congress again to modernize the Federal Housing Administration to help out even more people.

The Fed has signaled it will focus on stimulating growth when it meets on March 18, and the weak jobs report raised expectations among investors that the central bank will continue cutting interest rates. Futures markets have begun to price in a full percentage point cut, though the majority of investors who bet on the Fed’s actions think the central bank will lower rates by three-quarters of a point.

Earlier on Friday, the Fed announced two actions intended to keep supplying extra money to the economy for at least the next six months and, if necessary, to lend out even larger amounts in the future.

In its first move, the Fed will increase its lending through the “Term Auction Facility,” a program it started in December to help relieve what was already a deepening credit squeeze. Starting on Monday, the Fed will increase the amount available to $100 billion a month and either continue or increase that pace in the months ahead.

In its second move, the Fed will buy about $100 billion in securities ranging from Treasury securities to mortgage-backed securities issued by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The big uncertainty is whether the infusion of fresh money from the Fed will address the real fear that is paralyzing financial markets: bad credit quality on what had seemed to be safe debt. Senior Fed officials said their decision to inject an extra $200 billion into the banking system was based on the substantial deterioration in credit markets over the last several days and was not influenced by the job loss announced on Friday.

But Fed officials said their moves represented a sizable increase in the amount of money that they were making available. The Fed said it would provide the additional liquidity through two separate auctions; in both instances financial institutions will be able to borrow money from the Fed for 28 days at low interest rates.

As part of the plan, banks will be able to pledge collateral that includes mortgage-backed securities, the soured assets that led to the recent market tumult. Though Fed officials said they would discount the value of those securities based on the riskiness of their underlying assets, the moves mean that the central bank will take on some of the risk that has spooked investors.

Fed officials said their goal was simply to address general liquidity problems in the credit markets, but they predicted that the result was likely to be an increase in the central bank’s holdings of mortgage-backed securities.

Edmund L. Andrews and David Stout contributed reporting.

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10) Nicaragua Breaks Ties With Bogotá Over Crisis
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
March 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/world/americas/07latin.html?ref=world

MEXICO CITY — Nicaragua broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia on Thursday, entering the fray on the side of Ecuador and Venezuela in a tense standoff over Colombia’s decision last week to raid a rebel camp on Ecuadorean soil.

President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua said he was taking the action to show solidarity with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who was visiting Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. Mr. Ortega’s government also has a territorial dispute with Colombia.

The strike on Saturday against Colombian rebels hiding just over the border in Ecuador has ignited a diplomatic and military crisis. Ecuador and Venezuela have sent troops to their borders with Colombia, which is the largest recipient of American military aid in Latin America.

With Mr. Ortega’s diplomatic maneuver, he joined an alliance of left-leaning states trying to isolate Colombia and to press its president, Álvaro Uribe, to apologize. The move occurred on the same day that Ecuador reported capturing five people on its northern frontier.

Ecuador’s security minister, Gustavo Larrea, said in Quito that they were believed to be rebels who survived the raid, according to news reports.

Mr. Uribe regards the rebel group — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the acronym FARC — as terrorists and drug traffickers, while other leaders in the region see them as revolutionaries fighting a United States-backed puppet government.

“We are breaking with the terrorist politics that Álvaro Uribe’s government is employing,” said Mr. Ortega, who once led the Sandinista guerrillas against American-backed forces in Nicaragua.

Colombia, for its part, played down worries that the dispute could escalate into a war. The Colombian vice president, Francisco Santos, told Reuters in Brussels that his country “won’t fall into the game of provocation.”

Colombia has contended that Ecuador’s government has tolerated the FARC’s presence on its soil. But Ecuadorean officials say they have destroyed more than a dozen FARC camps in their territory in recent years.

Simon Romero contributed reporting from Bogotá.

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11) When Ben Bernanke Speaks ...
Editorial
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/opinion/09sun1.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

In a speech on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, observed that the upsurge in mortgage delinquencies is closely linked to falling prices, which have left many borrowers owing more on their houses than they are worth. With little or no home equity, he noted, borrowers cannot refinance, which means higher payments for those who have adjustable-rate mortgages. The result, all too often, is foreclosure — especially given the added strain of today’s higher prices for food and gasoline and a contracting job market.

Mr. Bernanke’s recognition of reality set off a tempest because the best way to help “underwater” borrowers who are in danger of default is to reduce the principal balance on their loans. That helps restore equity to the borrower, and is exactly what Mr. Bernanke suggested.

Lenders do not like that approach. They prefer temporary repayment plans and, less frequently, reductions in the loan’s interest rate, neither of which is as effective in these cases. Lenders fear that a manifest need for principal reductions strengthens the case for allowing hard-pressed borrowers to have their mortgages modified in bankruptcy court, which is currently not allowed.

Those courts routinely reduce principal on other loans and could accomplish the task efficiently. So for lenders, who do not want to recognize their losses and do not want to lose control of the process that lets them postpone that reckoning, allowing homeowners to turn to bankruptcy court is anathema.

Mr. Bernanke did not mention amending the bankruptcy code. But he did suggest creative ways that principal reductions could be combined with possible government assistance. For example, a lender could reduce a borrower’s principal to a level that could qualify for a loan from a reinvigorated Federal Housing Administration. Or, a lender who agreed to reduce a borrower’s principal could become eligible to share in any future profit from selling the house, an idea broached by the Office of Thrift Supervision.

The worthy goal is to help troubled borrowers, and in so doing, avert harm to the economy and the financial system. But Mr. Bernanke’s proposals are unlikely to work, because they are based on the notion that lenders and everyone else in the mortgage chain will act voluntarily. That has been tried and has not worked in any way that reflects the nature or scale of the problem.

What is needed is a prod for lenders to reduce the principal balances of underwater homeowners who cannot pay. That prod is to amend the bankruptcy law so that borrowers can have their mortgages modified by the court. Senate Republicans recently blocked attempts to debate a good bankruptcy amendment bill, but Democrats have said they will try again. The bill is intelligently drafted to spur lenders to act before a homeowner files for bankruptcy. If they continued to balk, the court could take over.

It is past time to try something that has a real chance of working. Mr. Bernanke laid out the problem. Congress should act accordingly.

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12) The Food Chain
A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can’t Fill
By DAVID STREITFELD
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/worldbusiness/09crop.html?ref=us

LAWTON, N.D. — Whatever Dennis Miller decides to plant this year on his 2,760-acre farm, the world needs. Wheat prices have doubled in the last six months. Corn is on a tear. Barley, sunflower seeds, canola and soybeans are all up sharply.

“For once, there’s great reason to be optimistic,” Mr. Miller said.

But the prices that have renewed Mr. Miller’s faith in farming are causing pain far and wide. A tailor in Lagos, Nigeria, named Abel Ojuku said recently that he had been forced to cut back on the bread he and his family love.

“If you wanted to buy three loaves, now you buy one,” Mr. Ojuku said.

Everywhere, the cost of food is rising sharply. Whether the world is in for a long period of continued increases has become one of the most urgent issues in economics.

Many factors are contributing to the rise, but the biggest is runaway demand. In recent years, the world’s developing countries have been growing about 7 percent a year, an unusually rapid rate by historical standards.

The high growth rate means hundreds of millions of people are, for the first time, getting access to the basics of life, including a better diet. That jump in demand is helping to drive up the prices of agricultural commodities.

Farmers the world over are producing flat-out. American agricultural exports are expected to increase 23 percent this year to $101 billion, a record. The world’s grain stockpiles have fallen to the lowest levels in decades.

“Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe,” said Daniel W. Basse of the AgResource Company, a Chicago consultancy. “But if they do, we’re going to need another two or three globes to grow it all.”

In contrast to a run-up in the 1990s, investors this time are betting — as they buy and sell contracts for future delivery of food commodities — that scarcity and high prices will last for years.

If that comes to pass, it is likely to present big problems in managing the American economy. Rising food prices in the United States are already helping to fuel inflation reminiscent of the 1970s.

And the increases could become an even bigger problem overseas. The increases that have already occurred are depriving poor people of food, setting off social unrest and even spurring riots in some countries.

In the long run, the food supply could grow. More land may be pulled into production, and outdated farming methods in some countries may be upgraded. Moreover, rising prices could force more people to cut back. The big question is whether such changes will be enough to bring supply and demand into better balance.

“People are trying to figure out, is this a new era?” said Joseph Glauber, chief economist for the United States Department of Agriculture. “Are prices going to be high forever?”

Competition for Acres

At a moment when much of the country is contemplating recession, farmers are flourishing. The Agriculture Department forecasts that farm income this year will be 50 percent greater than the average of the last 10 years. The flood of money into American agriculture is leading to rising land values and a renewed sense of optimism in rural America.

“All of a sudden farmers are more in control, which is a weird position for them,” said Brian Sorenson of the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, N.D. “Everyone’s knocking at their door, saying, ‘Grow this, grow that.’ ”

Mr. Miller’s family has worked the Great Plains for more than a century. One afternoon early last month, he turned on the computer in his combination office and laundry room to see what commodity prices were up to.

“Oh, my goodness, look at that,” Mr. Miller said. Barley was $6.40 a bushel, approaching a price that would tempt him to plant more. Soybeans were $12.79 a bushel, up from $8.50 in August.

The frozen earth outside was only a few weeks from coming to life, but Mr. Miller was happily uncertain about what to plant. Last year, the decision was easy for Mr. Miller and everyone else: prices of corn were high because of new government mandates for production of ethanol, a motor fuel. This year, so many crops look like good bets, and there is so little land on which to plant them.

“I’m debating between spring wheat, durum wheat, canola, malting barley, confection sunflowers, oil sunflowers, soybeans, flax and corn,” Mr. Miller said.

The biggest blemish on this winter of joy is that farmers’ own costs are rising rapidly. Expenses for the diesel fuel used to run tractors and combines and for the fertilizer essential to modern agriculture have soared. Mr. Miller does not just want high prices; he needs them to pay his bills.

Until recently, he could expect around $3 a bushel for his wheat — far less than his parents and grandparents received, when inflation is taken into account. Consumption in the United States was dropping as Americans shunned carbohydrates. The export market, while healthy, faced competition.

Now prices have more than tripled, partly because of a drought in Australia and bad harvests elsewhere and also because of unslaked global demand for crackers, bread and noodles. In seven of the last eight years, world wheat consumption has outpaced production. Stockpiles are at their lowest point in decades.

Around the world, wheat is becoming a precious commodity. In Pakistan, thousands of paramilitary troops have been deployed since January to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Malaysia, trying to keep its commodities at home, has made it a crime to export flour and other products without a license. Consumer groups in Italy staged a widely publicized (if also widely disregarded) one-day pasta strike last fall.

In the United States, the price of dry pasta has risen 20 percent since October, according to government data. Flour is up 19 percent since last summer. Over all, food and beverage prices are rising 4 percent a year, the fastest pace in nearly two decades.

The American Bakers Association last month took the radical step of suggesting that American exports be curtailed to keep wheat at home, though the group later backed off.

If all this suggests a golden age for American growers, it could well be brief, said Bruce Babcock, an economist at Iowa State University. He predicted that farmers would do their best to ramp up production, possibly to the point of pulling land out of conservation programs so they could plant more. “Give farmers a price incentive, and they’ll produce,” he said.

The Agriculture Department forecasts that world wheat production will increase 8 percent this year. In the United States, spring and durum wheat plantings are expected to rise by two million acres, helping to drive prices down to $7 a bushel, the government said.

Yet the competition among crops for acreage has become so intense that some farmers think the government and analysts like Mr. Babcock are being overly optimistic.

Read Smith, a farmer in St. John, Wash., thinks a new era is at hand for all sorts of crops. “Price spikes have usually been short-lived,” he said. “I think this one is different.”

His example is plain old mustard. Two years ago, Mr. Smith would have been paid less than 15 cents a pound for mustard seeds. As more lucrative crops began supplanting mustard, dealers raised their offering price to 20 cents, then 30 cents, then 48 cents early this year. Mr. Smith gave in, agreeing to convert up to 100 acres of wheat fields to mustard.

Mr. Smith said it was inevitable that supermarket mustard, just like flour, bread and pasta, would become more expensive.

“We’ve lulled the public with cheap food,” he said. “It’s not going to be a steal anymore.”

Bread to Be Had, for a Price

As the newly urbanized and newly affluent seek more protein and more calories, a phenomenon called “diet globalization” is playing out around the world. Demand is growing for pork in Russia, beef in Indonesia and dairy products in Mexico. Rice is giving way to noodles, home-cooked food to fast food.

Though wracked with upheaval for years and with many millions still rooted in poverty, Nigeria has a growing middle class. Median income per person doubled in the first half of this decade, to $560 in 2005. Much of this increase is being spent on food.

Nigeria grows little wheat, but its people have developed a taste for bread, in part because of marketing by American exporters. Between 1995 and 2005, per capita wheat consumption in Nigeria more than tripled, to 44 pounds a year. Bread has been displacing traditional foods like eba, dumplings made from cassava root.

Nigeria’s wheat imports in 2007 were forecast to rise 10 percent more. But demand was also rising in many other places, from Tunisia to Venezuela to India. At the same time, drought and competition from other crops limited supply.

So wheat prices soared, and over the last year, bread prices in Nigeria have jumped about 50 percent.

Amid a public outcry, bakers started making smaller loaves, hoping customers who could not afford to pay more would pay about the same to eat less. Sales have dropped for street hawkers selling loaves. With imports shrinking, mills are running at half capacity.

At Honeywell Flour Mills, one of the largest in Nigeria, executives were glued one recent day to commodity screens. The price of wheat ticked ever upward. “Even when you see a little downturn, you wait for some few hours or a day, and before you know it, it’s gone way up again,” said the production director, Nino Albert Ozara.

Despite the crisis, there is little sense of a permanent retreat from wheat in Nigeria. The mills are increasing their capacity, hoping for a day when supply is sufficient to stabilize prices. “The moment you develop a taste, you are hooked,” said a confident Muyiwa Talabi, director of an American wheat-marketing office in Lagos.

Mr. Ojuku, the man who buys fewer loaves, and one of his fellow tailors in Lagos, Mukala Sule, 39, are trying to adjust to the new era.

“I must eat bread and tea in the morning. Otherwise, I can’t be happy,” Mr. Sule said as he sat on a bench at a roadside cafe a few weeks ago. For a breakfast that includes a small loaf, he pays about $1 a day, twice what the traditional eba would have cost him.

To save a few pennies, he decided to skip butter. The bread was the important thing.

“Even if the price goes up,” Mr. Sule said, “if I have the money, I’ll still buy it.”

Will Connors contributed reporting from Lagos, Nigeria, and Salman Masood from Pakistan.

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13) Fair Game
As Good as Cash, Until It’s Not
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/09gret.html?ref=business

INVESTORS across the nation are finding themselves in Wall Street’s version of the Hotel California: they have checked into an investment they can never leave.

The investments, which Wall Street peddled as a cash equivalent, are known as auction-rate notes. They’re debt instruments carrying rates that reset regularly, usually every week, after auctions overseen by the brokerage firms that originally sold them. They have long-term maturities or, in fact, no maturity dates at all.

But because the notes routinely traded hands at auctions, Wall Street convinced investors that they were just as good as cold, hard cash.

Lo and behold, the $330 billion market for auction-rate notes ground to a halt in mid-February when bids for the securities disappeared. Investors who thought they could sell their holdings easily are now stuck with them. It turns out that the only thing that’s really just as good as cash is, well, cash.

While investors pray for a resurrection in the auction market, they are receiving a fixed interest rate outlined in offering documents. Historically, these securities have paid approximately one percentage point more than money market funds. Many purchasers of these notes are relatively small individual investors; several years ago, banks dropped the minimum investment in them to $25,000 from $250,000.

Municipalities and other tax-exempt institutions have issued most of the current crop of auction-rate notes. But closed-end mutual funds issued $65 billion worth. Such borrowings provide leverage to the funds, letting them generate slightly higher yields for their common stockholders.

Closed-end funds that issue auction-rate notes typically sell them in amounts worth one-third the value of their underlying assets. For example, the John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Dividend Income fund, with $1.17 billion in assets, has issued $380 million in auction-rate notes.

Owners of notes issued by closed-end funds are faring far worse than investors stuck with municipal issues. That’s because the interest rates paid on municipal notes when auctions fail are capped at as much as 12 percent, much higher than the caps on closed-end fund notes, which are currently around 3.25 percent.

In other words, holders of closed-end fund notes receive little to no premium for being stranded. Even airlines try to give you a free meal or an upgrade when they leave you at the gate. Investors are likely to remain in this vise because closed-end fund issuers have no incentive to redeem their notes since the interest rates resulting from the failed auctions are so low.

Some customers who have tried to get their brokers to cash them out say the firms have responded by offering to let them borrow against the value of these securities. At a cost, of course: the typical margin rate for borrowers is at least 7 percent at most shops. Other holders are selling the notes at a deep discount to speculators willing to buy distressed securities.

Wall Street made generous fees issuing these securities and running the auctions — as long as there were bidders. After the bidders vanished, some firms stepped in and bid for the securities for a while, giving investors a way out.

No more. What’s the sense stretching your already-thin balance sheet just to keep a market open for your customers?

In interviews, investors who own these securities say they weren’t warned that they might not be able to sell them if an auction failed. They say they were told that the instruments were as safe and liquid as — yes, you guessed it — cash.

Stephen N. Joffe, a client of UBS Financial Services, is suing the firm because it put all $1.35 million of his charitable foundation’s cash into auction-rate securities issued by Eaton Vance Limited Duration funds. This, even though he said he explicitly told the broker to take no risk and that he would need constant access to the funds.

Dr. Joffe, 65, is a former professor of surgery who founded LCA-Vision Inc., a company that operates laser vision-correction centers. “I never asked my broker to get me a better rate,” he said. “I felt the responsibility to maintain this account as a risk-free account. I believed this was in the equivalent of an overnight money market account.”

Now, the Joffe Foundation can no longer fund programs that help prevent AIDS in Africa, provide indigent people with laser vision correction and correct the cleft palates of African children.

“This was another hit and run by Wall Street,” said Jacob H. Zamansky, a lawyer in New York who represents Mr. Joffe. “The banks reaped huge fees on the auctions and underwriting, then left investors holding the bag.”

UBS declined to comment.

IN recent days, executives at several closed-end funds have held conference calls with stricken investors. But the investors say that none of those funds have offered to redeem their auction-rate notes. That’s not surprising: their fee structures give them no incentive to buy out investors.

Unlike no-load mutual funds, closed-end funds are sold, not bought. They often decline to prices that are a discount from their net asset values after they are first offered for sale. One reason for the discount is that it reflects the brokers’ commissions.

But Arthur D. Lipson, an investor in distressed securities and a principal at Western Investment LLC, argues that these discounts present an opportunity for closed-end funds to do the right thing, for both common and preferred shareholders.

Here is Mr. Lipson’s solution: Because these funds trade at discounts, he suggests that their managers sell underlying securities — utility stocks and shares of real estate investment trusts — and use the proceeds to buy back common shares. This would shrink the size of the funds and allow them to redeem some of the preferred shares they issued to increase the fund’s yield.

Managers hate this idea, Mr. Lipson said, because it would severely reduce the management fees they receive, based on the assets in the funds. So he has mounted proxy fights at three funds, seeking board representation to try to force them to follow his prescription.

The three funds are John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Dividend Income, which trades at around 7.5 percent less than its net asset value; the Cohen & Steers REIT and Utility Income fund, trading at a 10.5 percent discount; and Cohen & Steers Select Utility, which carries a 5 percent discount.

“The directors of these funds have ignored their responsibilities to the shareholders and have chosen to protect the managers’ fee income,” Mr. Lipson said. “These are not operating companies where moms and pops would be out of work. They are merely financial engineering companies.”

Officials at the funds contend that Mr. Lipson is a speculator out for a fast buck. They urge shareholders to vote against him, saying that they have taken steps to improve fund performance.

As for the frozen market for auction-rate notes, both fund companies say they are working with regulators on a solution.

The annual meeting for shareholders in the John Hancock fund is scheduled for March 31; shareholders in the two Cohen & Steers funds will vote on Mr. Lipson’s dissident slate the next day.

That is about the time that investors will receive their first brokerage statements reflecting major declines in the value of auction-rate notes. It certainly would be a happy ending to this mess if closed-end funds were forced to redeem the notes by selling holdings as Mr. Lipson suggests.

Stay tuned.

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14) The Feed
Fighting on a Battlefield the Size of a Milk Label
“A new advocacy group closely tied to Monsanto has started a counteroffensive to stop the proliferation of milk that comes from cows that aren’t treated with synthetic bovine growth hormone.”
By ANDREW MARTIN
March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/09feed.html?ref=business

IT may be the last stand of Posilac.

A new advocacy group closely tied to Monsanto has started a counteroffensive to stop the proliferation of milk that comes from cows that aren’t treated with synthetic bovine growth hormone.

The group, called American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, or Afact, says it is a grass-roots organization that came together to defend members’ right to use recombinant bovine somatotropin, also known as rBST or rBGH, an artificial hormone that stimulates milk production. It is sold by Monsanto under the brand name Posilac.

Dairy farmers are indeed part of the organization. But Afact was organized in part by Monsanto and a Colorado consultant who lists Monsanto as a client.

Afact has also received help from Osborn & Barr, a marketing firm whose founders include a former Monsanto executive. The firm received a contract in 2006 to help with the Posilac campaign.

Lori Hoag, a spokeswoman for the dairy unit of Monsanto, said her company did provide financial support to Afact. But Ms. Hoag asserted that the group is led by farmers, not Monsanto.

“They make all the governing decisions for their organization,” she said. “Monsanto has nothing to do with that.”

Afact has come together as a growing number of consumers are choosing milk that comes from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone. Even though the Food and Drug Administration has declared the synthetic hormone safe, many other countries have refused to approve it, and there is lingering concern among many consumers about its impact on health and the welfare of cows.

The marketplace has responded, and now everyone from Whole Foods Market to Wal-Mart Stores sells milk that is labeled as coming from cows not treated with the hormone. Some dairy industry veterans say it’s only a matter of time before nearly all of the milk supply comes from cows that weren’t treated with Posilac. According to Monsanto, about a third of the dairy cows in the United States are in herds where Posilac is used.

And the trend might not stop with milk. Kraft is planning to sell cheese labeled as having come from untreated cows.

But consumer demand for more natural products has conflicted with some dairy farmers’ desire to use the artificial hormone to bolster production and bottom lines, and it has certainly interfered with Monsanto’s business plan for Posilac.

Cows typically produce an extra gallon a day when they are treated with Posilac. That can translate into serious money for dairy farmers at a time when prices are near record highs.

So Afact has embarked on a counteroffensive that includes meeting with retailers and pushing efforts by state legislators and state agriculture commissioners to pass laws to ban or restrict labels that indicate milk comes from untreated cows.

Last fall in Pennsylvania, Dennis Wolff, the agriculture secretary, tried to ban milk that was labeled as free of the synthetic hormone because, he said, consumers were confused. Mr. Wolff’s office acknowledged that it had no consumer research to back up his claim, and he eventually had to scale back his plans when consumer groups and Gov. Edward G. Rendell balked.

Instead, the state tightened up the language on milk labels to make sure it was more accurate.

But Posilac’s supporters haven’t given up.

In recent months, labeling changes have been floated in New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Missouri and Vermont, according to Michael Hansen, who has tracked the issue as a senior scientist for Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

A Consumer Reports survey last summer found that 88 percent of consumers believed that milk from cows not treated with synthetic hormones should be allowed to be labeled as such.

Afact says it believes that such “absence” labels can be misleading and imply that milk from cows treated with hormones is inferior. In fact, the F.D.A. maintains that there is no significant difference between milk from cows that are treated and from those that are not.

Afact also argues that some consumers are paying a premium for milk that doesn’t include artificial hormones.

“We know it’s a technology that makes us money and is safe for our cows,” said Carrol Campbell, a Kansas dairy farmer who is co-chairman of Afact. Mr. Campbell said he became involved in the issue because his cooperative called him and asked him to stop using Posilac; instead, he found a new cooperative.

Ms. Hoag of Monsanto said her company was not actively pushing changes in milk labeling laws.

Advocates for Posilac, including Monsanto, have been complaining for years about milk labeled as free of artificial bovine growth hormone. In September 2006, Kevin Holloway, president of the Monsanto dairy unit, gave a speech in which he said the “fundamental issue” was dairy farmers’ ability to choose the best technology. “Dairy farmer choice to use a variety of F.D.A.-approved technologies is at risk,” he said.

That same year, the Monsanto dairy unit hired Osborn & Barr to handle, among other things, the Posilac brand, according to an article in the St. Louis Business Journal.

In 2007, Monsanto and several dairy organizations met by phone to “lay the groundwork” for a grass-roots organization, according to an online dairy industry newsletter.

Afact was created in the fall of 2007. In addition to receiving money from Monsanto, Afact has received help with its Web site from Osborn & Barr, said Monty G. Miller, a Colorado consultant who was hired to organize the group.

Afact believes that the push for milk from untreated cows is being driven by advocates like Consumers Union and PETA, “who make a profit, living and business by striking fear in citizens,” Mr. Miller said in an e-mail message.

The group also believes it will be hard for food retailers to “move away from the rBST-free stance without legislation and government policy,” according to an Afact presentation to dairy farmers in January.

In the presentation, Afact also listed “integrity,” “honesty” and “transparent” as “words we wish to embody.”

They could start by being more straightforward about who is behind Afact.

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15) Lilly Waited Too Long to Warn About Schizophrenia Drug, Doctor Testifies
By ALEX BERENSON
March 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/08/health/policy/08drug.html?ref=health

ANCHORAGE — Eli Lilly, the drug maker, could and should have warned physicians as early as 1998 about the link between Zyprexa, its best-selling schizophrenia medicine, and diabetes, an expert witness told jurors Friday in a lawsuit that claims that Zyprexa has caused many mentally ill people to develop diabetes.

Instead, Lilly hid Zyprexa’s risks from doctors to protect the drug’s sales, according to the witness, Dr. John Gueriguian. Lilly waited until 2007 to add strong warnings to Zyprexa’s label to reflect the drug’s tendency to cause severe weight gain and blood sugar changes.

Lilly put “profit over concern of the consumer,” Dr. Gueriguian said Friday near the end of four hours of testimony.

Zyprexa, a drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is by far Lilly’s top-selling product, with worldwide sales of $4.8 billion last year.

The company has said it did nothing wrong and fully disclosed what it knew about Zyprexa to the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Gueriguian is testifying on behalf of the State of Alaska, which has sued Lilly to recover its costs for treating Medicaid patients who developed diabetes after taking Zyprexa. The trial is being heard in state court in downtown Anchorage before a jury of seven women and five men.

Dr. Gueriguian is a specialist on diabetes and was a medical reviewer for the Food and Drug Administration for 20 years before retiring in 1998.

At the F.D.A., he recommended against the approval of Rezulin, a diabetes drug that was later withdrawn for causing severe liver damage in patients.

Under examination by Tommy Fibich, a lawyer from Houston who is representing Alaska, Dr. Gueriguian methodically reviewed about a dozen documents in which Lilly scientists and executives discussed the potential links between Zyprexa and diabetes.

Zyprexa was introduced in September 1996 and hailed as a breakthrough medicine for the treatment of schizophrenia.

But doctors quickly began to report to Lilly that patients suffered severe weight gain, high blood sugar and even diabetes after taking the drug.

By the fall of 1998, the combination of adverse-event reports, clinical trial data that showed hyperglycemia and weight gain, and problems in animal studies should have been enough for Lilly to warn doctors about Zyprexa’s links to diabetes, Dr. Gueriguian said. Instead, the company did nothing.

Documents from 1999 and 2000 also showed that Lilly was accumulating evidence of Zyprexa’s risks but not sharing it with doctors, he testified.

And in 2002, only 10 months after Lilly began selling Zyprexa in Japan, medical regulators in that country required Lilly to warn doctors against using Zyprexa in diabetic patients.

But Lilly did not issue a similar advisory to doctors in the United States. Instead, the company advised its sales representatives not to discuss diabetes with doctors unless the doctors brought it up first, according to another document presented at the trial.

“We will NOT proactively address the diabetes concerns,” the document, an internal Lilly memorandum, said.

Court recessed on Friday before lawyers for Lilly could cross-examine Dr. Gueriguian. They will have the opportunity to do so on Monday.

A lawyer for Lilly said after Dr. Gueriguian’s testimony that the company had shared all it knew with the F.D.A. and that the question of the link between Zyprexa and diabetes was still a subject of scientific debate.

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LINKS AND VERY SHORT STORIES

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North Carolina: Ministers Say Police Destroyed Records
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
National Briefing | South
Three ministers accused a Greensboro police officer of ordering officers to destroy about 50 boxes of police files related to the fatal shooting of five people at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in 1979. The Revs. Cardes Brown, Gregory Headen and Nelson Johnson said an active-duty officer told them he and at least three other officers were told to destroy the records in 2004 or 2005, shortly after a seven-member panel that had been convened to research the shootings requested police files related to them. The ministers did not identify the officer who provided the information. On Nov. 3, 1979, a heavily armed caravan of Klansman and Nazi Party members confronted the rally. Five marchers were killed and 10 were injured. Those charged were later acquitted in state and federal trials. The city and some Klan members were found liable for the deaths in civil litigation.
February 27, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/us/27brfs-MINISTERSSAY_BRF.html?ref=us

Gaza: Israeli Army Clears Itself in 21 Deaths
By ISABEL KERSHNER
World Briefing | Middle East
The army said no legal action would be taken against military officials over an artillery strike in Beit Hanun in 2006 in which an errant shell hit residential buildings and killed 21 Palestinian civilians. An army investigation concluded that the shell was fired based on information that militants were intending to fire rockets from the area, an army statement said. The civilian deaths, it said, were “directly due to a rare and severe failure” in the artillery control system. The army’s military advocate general concluded that there was no need for further investigation.
February 27, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/world/middleeast/27briefs-israelistrike.html?ref=world

World Briefing | Asia
Taiwan: Tons of Fish Wash Up on Beaches
By REUTERS
About 45 tons of fish have washed up dead along 200 miles of beach on the outlying Penghu Islands after an unusual cold snap. News reports said 10 times as many dead fish were still in the water.
February 23, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/world/asia/23briefs-TONSOFFISHWA_BRF.html?ref=world

Zimbabwe: Inflation Breaks the Six-Figure Mark
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
World Briefing | Africa
The government’s statistics office said the inflation rate surged to a new record of 100,580 percent in January, up from 66,212 percent in December. Rangarirai Mberi, news editor of the independent Financial Gazette in Harare, said the state of the economy would feature prominently in next month’s presidential and parliamentary elections. “Numbers no longer shock people,” he said. Zimbabweans have learned to live in a hyperinflationary environment, he added, “but the question is, how long can this continue?”
February 21, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/world/africa/21briefs-INFLATIONBRE_BRF.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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"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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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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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:
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BuyIndies.com
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