Friday, May 09, 2008



ILWU May Day Protest--San Francisco



NO on state Prop. 98!

San Francisco Tenants Union (415) 282-5525

Wealthy landlords and other right-wing operatives placed Prop. 98 on the state ballot. This is a dangerous and deceptive measure. Disguised as an effort to reform eminent domain laws and protect homeowners, Prop. 98 would abolish tenant protections such as rent control and just-cause eviction laws, and would end a number of other environmental protection and land use laws.


We All Hate that 98!

[The catch is, that while it's true that the landlord can increase rents to whatever he or she wants once a property becomes vacant, the current rent-control law now ensures that the new tenants are still under rent-control for their, albeit higher, rent. Under the new law, there simply will be no rent control when the new tenant moves in so their much higher rent-rate can increase as much as the landlord chooses each year from then on!!! So, no more rent-control at all!!! Tricky, huh?...BW]

Prop 98, a statewide measure on the June 3 ballot will end rent control and just cause eviction protections for renters. San Francisco will see massive displacement and the city will change forever if 98 passes.



Stop fumigation of citizens without their consent in California
Target: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Joe Simitian, Assemblymember Loni Hancock, Assemblymember John Laird, Senator Abel Maldonado
Sponsored by: John Russo

Additional information is available at


National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation

Dear Antiwar Activists,

You are invited to attend a special Bay Area meeting of antiwar activists who support or want to learn more about the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation. The meeting is set for:

Saturday, May 17, 2:00 P.M.
ILWU Local 6 Hall
255 Ninth Street, near Howard, San Francisco

The National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation (website: is planning an open national antiwar conference in Cleveland, Ohio on June 28-29 at the Crown Plaza Hotel.

To date almost 450 local, state and national organizations and prominent individuals have endorsed this first open antiwar conference. The complete list is on the website as well as the conference statement of purpose, schedule, workshops and all the rest.

Conference endorsers include the Cleveland AFL-CIO, the San Francisco and Los Angeles teachers unions, the Progressive Democrats of America, Veterans for Peace, Cindy Sheehan, Howard Zinn, Jonathan Hutto, U.S. Labor Against the War, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Country Federation of Labor/AFL-CIO, The Iraq Moratorium, Green Party of Ohio, Mumia Abu-Jamal, New England United Against the War, Peace and Freedom Party, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Greater Boston Stop the War Coalition, Ohio State Council/Here/Unite, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, Thomas Merton Center/Pittsburgh, the ANSWER Coalition, Middle East Children's Alliance, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, National Education Peace and Justice Caucus, Connecticut United for Peace, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement/Sacramento and hundreds of others.

The purpose of the Bay Area meeting is to promote support for and attendance at the Cleveland conference, to update the progress toward a united antiwar movement, and to seek new endorsers for the conference.

The National Assembly was formed as a network aimed at fostering a united, mass action-oriented, independent and democratic antiwar movement to Bring the Troops Home Now.

Speakers at the Cleveland conference include national leaders of the major antiwar coalitions, UFPJ (Leslie Cagan), ANSWER (Brian Becker), Jeremy Scahill, Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, Donna DeWitt, Pres., South Carolina, AFO-CIO, Cindy Sheehan (via satellite hookup) as well as leaders of several of the nation's most prominent antiwar and social justice groups.

The National Assembly was formed as an effort to achieve unity in action among the broad forces in the antiwar movement in order to close the gap between the mass antiwar sentiment and the still modest numbers that actively participate in the movement's activities.

As the Statement of Purpose states:

"We therefore invite everyone, every organization, every coalition, everywhere in the U.S. - all who oppose the war and 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."

The San Francisco meeting is initiated by representatives of the Bay Area groups that participate on the 40-person Coordinating Committee of the National Assembly.

These include:

Paul George, Director, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Patty Mote, National Network on Cuba
Tom Lacey, Peace and Freedom Party
Alan Benjamin, Executive Board, San Francisco Labor Council
Jeff Mackler, founder, Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice
Todd Chretien, International Socialist Organization
Bill Leumer, Workers International League
Millie Phillips, Socialist Organizer

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:

The Call for National Assembly:

List of Endorsers:

Endorse the conference:


Mumia Abu-Jamal:
Innocent Man on Death Row!
We Accept Nothing Less Than His Freedom!
Sunday, May 18, 2008, 2:00 pm
ILWU Local 6, 255 Ninth Street, near Howard, San Francisco


Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman from Georgia

Soffiyah Elijah, Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School. Legal counsel for Sundiata Acoli, Marilyn Buck, Kwame Ture', Nuh Washington and Jihad Abdul-Mumit

Cindy Sheehan, founding member, Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization founded in January 2005 by individuals who lost family members in the U.S. war on Iraq

Walter Turner, Host, Africa Today, Pacifica Radio/KPFA

Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Alan Benjamin, Exec. Bd., San Francisco Labor Council

Kali Akuno, Director, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

devorah major & Jack Hirschman, Former Poets Laureate of San Francisco

Mesha Monge Irizarry, Founder, Idriss Stelley Foundation,

Admission $10 sliding scale
Apologies: Bathrooms not wheelchair accessible.

Sponsor: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 510-268-9429. Send contributions to: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610, Tables: $25


For Immediate Release
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.

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.




1) Police Beating of Suspects Is Taped by TV Station in Philadelphia
May 8, 2008

2) Oil Giants to Settle Water Suit
May 8, 2008

3) Productivity Increases as Debts Accumulate
May 8, 2008

4) Psychiatry Handbook Linked to Drug Industry
Tara Parker-Pope on Health
May 6, 2008, 12:54 pm
Study Finds a Link of Drug Makers to Psychiatrists
April 20, 2006

5) Hezbollah fighters take much of Beirut
U.S.-backed security forces protect government buildings but avoid
street clashes. "The situation is chaotic," says one official.
By Raed Rafei and Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
4:10 AM PDT, May 9, 2008,0,1323502.story

6) Illegal Immigrants Turn to Traditional Healing
May 10, 2008

7) The Lucrative Art of War
May 9, 2008

8) Shiite Militias Seize Beirut Neighborhoods
May 10, 2008

9) Tensions, Suspensions, and a Police Funeral in Philadelphia
By Patrick J. Lyons
May 9, 2008, 1:35 pm

10) American Rancher Resists Land Reform Plans in Bolivia
May 9, 2008

11) Supporters Rally in Newark as an Imam’s Trial Opens
May 9, 2008

12) Senator’s Ties to Real Estate Draw Criticism
May 9, 2008

13) Juan Crow in Georgia
By Roberto Lovato
“We’ve globalized money, we’ve globalized trade and commerce, but we haven’t globalized fairness toward work and labor. The solution to the ‘problem’ of immigration and other problems is globalization of justice.” — Rev. Joseph Lowery, leader of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda
—The Nation, May 8, 2008


1) Police Beating of Suspects Is Taped by TV Station in Philadelphia
May 8, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — About 12 police officers were videotaped on Monday beating three men stopped in response to a drug-related shooting, and six of the officers have been removed from patrols, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Wednesday.

In the incident, captured by a Fox TV helicopter, officers surrounded a car carrying the three men. They were pulled from the car, and two were kicked and punched on the ground by officers on the driver’s side. The third man was beaten by other officers on the passenger side.

The incident, on Monday night, in the Hunting Park section followed the shooting death of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, 39, a 12-year member of the force, on Saturday in the nearby Port Richmond section.

Sergeant Liczbinski was pursuing three robbery suspects. The police arrested a man sought in the case late Wednesday night, the Associated Press reported. Another was arrested on Sunday, and a third was fatally shot by an officer shortly after the officer’s killing, The A.P. said.

Mr. Ramsey said at a news conference that the police were under great “stress and pressure” after Sergeant Liczbinski’s death. He is the third Philadelphia officer to be killed in the line of duty in the last two years.

But, Mr. Ramsey added, there was no excuse for the behavior on the videotape.

The video is being examined to try to identify more officers involved in the beatings. Mr. Ramsey said he expected more officers to be reassigned to administrative duties as a result.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham will decide on filing criminal charges against the officers, Mr. Ramsey said.

The new mayor, Michael A. Nutter, has emphasized reducing the violence that has given Philadelphia one of the highest murder rates in the nation.

Mr. Nutter and Mr. Ramsey are trying to overcome decades of distrust between the mostly black residents of areas like North Philadelphia and a largely white police force.

The beating victims, all from North Philadelphia, have all been charged with assault, conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person. D. Scott Perrine, a lawyer for the three, called the incident a blatant example of police brutality.

“We have not seen stuff like this since the 1960s and the 1970s in Philadelphia,” Mr. Perrine said. “These officers are criminals, and they should be prosecuted.”

He denied that his clients had any connection with the shooting of Sergeant Liczbinski, and he said the Police Department was seeking to explain the “zealousness” of the officers in the incident by saying the force as a whole was distressed and exhausted by the sergeant’s death.

The three men are being held on bail, awaiting a preliminary hearing on May 16.


2) Oil Giants to Settle Water Suit
May 8, 2008

Some of the nation’s largest oil companies have agreed to pay about $423 million in cash to settle a lawsuit brought by more than a hundred public water providers, claiming water contamination from a popular gasoline additive.

The terms of the settlement were submitted for approval in the federal court for the Southern District of New York. Under the terms of the deal, the companies also agreed to pay 70 percent of the future cleanup costs over the next 30 years.

The defendants that agreed to the settlement include BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Marathon Oil, Valero Energy, Citgo and Sunoco. Six other companies named in the lawsuit, including Exxon Mobil, did not agree to the deal, said Scott Summy, a lawyer at Baron & Budd and a counsel for the plaintiffs.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, which include 153 public water systems in New York, California and 15 other states, claimed that the additive, a chemical called methyl tertiary butyl ether, or M.T.B.E., was a defective product that led to widespread contamination of groundwater. The suit contended that the chemical was used by oil companies, even though they knew of the environmental and health risks that it posed.

Low levels of M.T.B.E. can make drinking water supplies unpalatable because of its “offensive taste and odor,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has also found that the compound caused cancer in laboratory rats that were exposed to high doses.

Since the mid-1990s, hundreds of lawsuits have been brought against oil companies for their use of the chemical. This deal, if approved, would be the largest settlement to date.

M.T.B.E. has been used since 1979 to increase octane levels in gasoline, but its use became more widespread after the 1990 Clean Air Act mandated the use of an oxygenate in certain cities to reduce smog and other pollutants.

When mixed with gasoline, the additive ensured that the fuel burned more thoroughly, thereby reducing air pollution.

But after being widely adopted, it was found to corrupt groundwater. Even in small amounts, the additive makes water smell and taste like turpentine.

The use of M.T.B.E. is now banned in 23 states, including New York and California.

In 2005, some 130,000 barrels of M.T.B.E. were produced a day, representing about 1 percent of the nation’s gasoline supplies. Oil companies stopped using it in 2006.

The oil industry has fought hard to avoid penalties related to its use of the additive, arguing that it should not be forced to pay for the cleanup of a product that it was mandated to use. Estimates of the cost of a total cleanup of M.T.B.E. have run to the tens of billions of dollars.

In 2003, the Republican-dominated Congress tried to pass a provision that would have shielded M.T.B.E. manufacturers from litigation, but failed because of strong opposition in the Senate. A second attempt to add a lawsuit shield also failed during discussion of the 2005 energy bill.

“No court has ruled that gasoline with M.T.B.E. is a defective product,” said Rick Wallace, a lawyer at Wallace King Domike & Reiskin in Washington, who represents Chevron and Shell. “This settlement does not concede the point. Quite the contrary, the settling companies are prepared to vigorously defend the product.”

The high risk of lawsuits related to M.T.B.E. has prompted the oil industry to stop using it and look for another gasoline additive. That eventually led to the development and use of ethanol as an oxygenate replacement.

Peter J. Sacripanti, a lawyer representing Exxon at McDermott Will & Emery, said that Exxon did not plan to settle and would “vigorously defend” itself.

“Exxon’s position is very simple,” he said. “When it engages in conduct that injures people, it pays recompense for that. In all these cases, our conduct did not cause injury, or cause damages. Our conduct was lawful.”

The suit, first filed in 2003 by public water providers in several states, was eventually consolidated into a single federal case.

The pending case will go to trial in September in New York.

Robert J. Gordon, of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York, also represented the plaintiffs.


3) Productivity Increases as Debts Accumulate
May 8, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — Worker productivity rose by a better-than-expected amount in the first three months of the year while labor cost pressures eased, the Labor Department reported on Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve Board, meanwhile, reported that consumer borrowing rose in March at the fastest pace in four months, more than double the increase of the previous month.

Productivity, the amount of output for an hour of work, increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter, slightly higher than the 1.5 percent increase expected.

In a sign that inflation could be easing, labor cost pressures slowed a bit. Unit labor costs rose at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, down from a 2.8 percent rise in the final three months of last year.

While rising wages and benefits are good for employees, those increases can lead to higher inflation if businesses are forced to raise prices on their products to cover higher payroll costs. If productivity is increasing, however, businesses can finance higher wages out of the increased output.

The Federal Reserve monitors productivity trends closely, because wage escalation is often the way that inflation gets out of control.

Private economists say they believe that the weakening economy will damp inflation pressures, but that the sharp economic slowdown is occurring at the same time that energy and food prices have continued to rise.

In further evidence of the squeeze on consumers, the Federal Reserve reported on Wednesday that Americans increased their borrowing at an annual rate of 7.2 percent, compared with a 3.1 percent rate of increase in February.

The gain was much larger than economists had been expecting and reflected strong borrowing on credit cards. Credit card borrowing was up at an annual rate of 7.9 percent, compared with a 5 percent gain in February, while borrowing in the category that includes car loans jumped by 6.8 percent, compared with a 2 percent increase in February.

The increase in consumer debt totaled $15.3 billion at an annual rate in March, much bigger than the $6 billion increase that economists had been expecting.

Consumers have been moving to put more purchases on their credit cards as banks have tightened lending standards for home equity loans in response to the deepening credit crisis.

The rise in productivity in the first three months of the year occurred as the number of hours worked declined at an annual rate of 1.8 percent.

That reflected layoffs as businesses cut their payrolls in the face of an economic slowdown prompted by a steep slump in housing.

The 2.2 percent rate of productivity growth in the first quarter was up slightly from a 1.8 percent increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

Productivity for all of 2007 rose by 1.8 percent, up a bit from the 1 percent gain in 2006. Both of those increases were far below the growth levels of the past decade as productivity experienced a healthy rebound, reflecting investments that had been made in equipment to improve efficiency, like computers.


4) Psychiatry Handbook Linked to Drug Industry
Tara Parker-Pope on Health
May 6, 2008, 12:54 pm

More than half of the task force members who will oversee the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s most important diagnostic handbook have ties to the drug industry, reports a consumer watchdog group.

The Web site for Integrity in Science, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, highlights the link between the drug industry and the all-important psychiatric manual, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The handbook is the most-used guide for diagnosing mental disorders in the United States. The guide has gone through several revisions since it was first published, and the next version will be the D.S.M.-V, to be published in 2012.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Web site has posted the financial disclosure of most of the 28 task force members who will oversee the revision of the D.S.M.

It’s not the first time the D.S.M. has been linked to the drug industry. Tufts University researchers in 2006 reported that 95 — or 56 percent — of 170 experts who worked on the 1994 edition of the manual had at least one monetary relationship with a drug maker in the years from 1989 to 2004. The percentage was higher — 100 percent in some cases — for experts who worked on sections of the manual devoted to severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, the study found. (For a Times story on that report, see below.)

The American Psychiatric Association allows members who work on the upcoming fifth edition of the handbook to accept money from drug firms. However, from the time of their appointment until the completion of the work, their annual individual income from industry sources cannot exceed $10,000. “We have made every effort to ensure that D.S.M.-V will be based on the best and latest scientific research, and to eliminate conflicts of interest in its development,” said Dr. Carolyn B. Robinowitz, president of the organization, in a press release.

The Integrity in Science group described the financial conflicts of interest by the task force members as ranging from “small to extensive,'’ including one member who over the past five years worked as a consultant for 13 drug companies, including Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Wyeth, Merck, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Study Finds a Link of Drug Makers to Psychiatrists
April 20, 2006

More than half the psychiatrists who took part in developing a widely used diagnostic manual for mental disorders had financial ties to drug companies before or after the manual was published, public health researchers reported yesterday.

The researchers found that 95 — or 56 percent — of 170 experts who worked on the 1994 edition of the manual, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or D.S.M, had at least one monetary relationship with a drug maker in the years from 1989 to 2004. The most frequent tie involved money for research, according to the study, an analysis of financial records and conflict-of-interest statements.

The percentage was higher — 100 percent in some cases — for experts who worked on sections of the manual devoted to severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, the study found. But the authors, from Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts, were not able to establish how many of the psychiatrists were receiving money from drug companies while the manual was being compiled.

Lisa Cosgrove, the study's lead author, who is a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, said that although the study could not prove that the psychiatrists' ties influenced the manual's development, "what we're saying is it's outrageous that the manual doesn't have a disclosure policy."

But other experts scoffed at the idea that commercial interests had influenced either the language or content of the manual. "I can categorically say, and I was there every step of the way, that drug-company influence never entered into any of the discussions, whatsoever," said Dr. Michael First, a psychiatry professor at Columbia, who coordinated development of the current D.S.M.

Some 400,000 mental health workers, from psychiatrists to nurses, use the manual to diagnose disorders in patients, and health insurers use the manual to determine coverage.

In recent years, critics have said that the manual has become too expansive, including diagnoses, like social phobia, that they say appear tailor-made to create a market for antidepressants or other drugs.

The study investigated the financial ties by sifting through legal files, patent records, conflict-of-interest databases and journal articles, among other records.

Twenty-two percent of the experts received consulting income in the years from 1989 to 2004, the study found, and 16 percent served as members of a drug maker's speakers bureau. Such services are typically more lucrative than research support.


5) Hezbollah fighters take much of Beirut
U.S.-backed security forces protect government buildings but avoid
street clashes. "The situation is chaotic," says one official.
By Raed Rafei and Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
4:10 AM PDT, May 9, 2008,0,1323502.story

BEIRUT — The Shiite militia Hezbollah today handily took over much of
the capital in a dramatic escalation of the months-long confrontation
with the Western-backed government, security officials said.

As Hezbollah swept through West Beirut, Lebanon's security forces, which
received more than $270 million in U.S. aid last year, mostly stood by,
protecting government buildings but stepping back from the clashes.

"Armed forces from the opposition have taken over Beirut; the situation
is chaotic," said a ranking official of the Internal Security Force.
"The army is controlling the sensitive spots like the [parliament] and
the residences of main political figures, but the army is not
interfering inside the alleys and the streets where the fights are
taking place."

Hezbollah and its allies swept into West Beirut after two days of
intense clashes with Sunni fighters loyal to the pro-government Future
movement. The clashes were sparked by a government decision Tuesday to
outlaw Hezbollah's fiber-optic communications network and remove an ally
as head of security at the country's sole international airport.

Hezbollah's allies responded Wednesday by blockading the airport and
setting tires on fire. In a major speech Thursday, Hezbollah chief
Hassan Nasrallah likened the government's decision to a "declaration of
war" on the Shiite militia and launched an offensive against the
neighborhood strongholds and informal militias loyal to the government
of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the leader of Lebanon's Sunni
community, Saad Hariri.

Sporadic gunfire continued throughout Friday morning and early afternoon
after an overnight thunderstorm subsided. But the heaviest fighting
appeared to have ended following a routing of the Future movement by
Hezbollah and fighters of the allied Amal movement.

Hezbollah and its allies avoided Christian neighborhoods, which remained
calm, focusing their offensive on Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shiite districts
of the capital. The operation effectively neutered the growing militia
of Hariri's Future movement, which was viewed by security forces and
Hezbollah as a potential threat to security.

Across West Beirut, streets were mostly devoid of civilians. Armed
Shiite militiamen guarded streets, asking passersby for identification
cards in what locals described as a harrowing reminder of the worst days
of Lebanon's 1975 to 1990 civil war.

Inside Tariq Jdideh, a Sunni neighborhood in West Beirut, a group of
around five men in their 20s, one holding an assault rifle and wearing a
ski mask, stood on a corner near a Future movement office.

"We don't have ammunition," one said.

"My parents want me to go back," said another. "All these guys you see
here are university students. We are not prepared for a war."

A man emerging from the office told everybody to go home. "I got orders
for everybody to leave," he told the young men. "They will attack us.
They will come and beat us. Let's all leave."

One man in the neighborhood, Tawfiq Saade, lamented the loss of his
shop, which he said was burned down because of a rocket attack. "They
fire rocket-propelled grenades at us as if we were the enemy," said the
60-year-old. "What can we do? We won't leave our homes." Hezbollah
effectively shut down the Future movement's television station, scaring
off employees and handing the empty offices over to the army. "The
station was closed down for security reasons," said Samir al-Ashi, a
spokesman for the movement.

The country's national carrier, Middle East Airlines, has announced that
it has suspended all incoming and outgoing flights until Saturday afternoon.


6) Illegal Immigrants Turn to Traditional Healing
May 10, 2008

MADERA, Calif. — The curandera is weary from work. Three, four, five times a day, the undocumented farm workers knock on her apartment door, begging her to cure their ailments.

They complain of indigestion, of rashes, of post-traumatic panic attacks. Then there are the house calls that compel her to crate up her potions and herbs and drive across town, often after midnight, to escape the notice of immigration police.

“I’ve done so many cures that I’m exhausted; it gives me no time to rest,” said Herminia L. Arenas, 55, the curandera, or traditional healer, who has practiced in this Central Valley town since migrating 14 years ago from Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. “I want to retire, but I feel like I was sent here to help these people.”

The people need help because they are in the United States illegally and because they are poor. Few have health insurance, but the backbreaking nature of their work, along with the toxicity of American poverty, insure that many are ailing.

They may visit a clinic or hospital if they are severely ill. But for many undocumented immigrants, much of their health care is provided by a parallel system of spiritual healers, home remedies and self-medication.

Stories abound here of people who died — of cancer, diabetes, even gangrene — because they did not make it to an emergency room until it was too late. Public health officials also worry that the lack of access to conventional care may contribute to the spread of communicable diseases. They warn that the rampant use of antibiotics, often without medical direction, may speed the development of resistant bacterial strains.

While acknowledging that some traditional treatments can complement modern medicine, they point out that others do considerable harm. Powders used to quiet colicky babies, for instance, have been found to contain heavy doses of lead. Without legal status, the immigrants have little protection against dangerous or fraudulent practices.

Immigrants interviewed amid the vineyards of Madera and the cantaloupe fields of Mendota said they had faced numerous obstacles to pursuing conventional medical care. Above all, they said, was cost, but other factors included fear of deportation, long waits for treatment in medically underserved areas, and barriers of culture and language.

Some said they supplement their care on occasional trips to Mexico or Central America, seeking out less expensive doctors and stocking up on pharmaceuticals before attempting the risky crossing back.

The healers, like their American counterparts, tend to specialize. There are sobadors, who massage away muscle pain, and hueseros, who set bones. The curanderos use herbs and incantation to return the spirit to its equilibrium.

Farm workers, community leaders and health researchers said many immigrants devised their own antidotes. They brew recuperative teas from exotic herbs and roadside weeds. They enlist neighbors to inject them with vitamins and antibiotics imported from Mexico. Some of the medicines are sold under the counter at flea markets and botanicas, where amulets and incense share shelf space with Advil and Afrin.

Though the unlicensed sale of pharmaceuticals is not legal, and though some healers approach the edges of practicing medicine without a license, local police say enforcement is rare.

It is not unusual for immigrants to alternate between traditional healing and clinical medicine. About a third of California farm workers surveyed in 1999 by the California Institute for Rural Studies, a nonprofit research group, said they had used home remedies and 1 in 10 said they had visited a traditional healer. Research by Bonnie Bade, a medical anthropologist at California State University, San Marcos, suggests much higher usage among indigenous Mexicans whose roots may be more Mixtecan than Spanish.

“The role that their own medical culture plays in supporting their health here is huge,” Dr. Bade said of the Mixtecs, who have migrated from Oaxaca in large numbers over the last two decades. “That’s true not only for the illnesses that our medical culture doesn’t recognize, but for clinical ailments, too.”

A recent visit to Ms. Arenas’s nondescript apartment found her in the middle of an eight-day limpia, or cleansing ceremony, for Maria de Jesus, a 28-year-old undocumented farm worker. Ms. de Jesus explained that she had been incapacitated by fearfulness and headaches since a car accident three months earlier.

“I feel like my heart is going to come out, it beats so fast,” she said. In visits to a clinic and an emergency room, she had been tested for high blood pressure and given some pills, to little effect. She said the doctors also had no answer for the grotesque swelling in the crook of her left arm, where she carries her tomato bucket.

At wits’ end, her husband delivered her to Ms. Arenas for extended inpatient treatment. “I have faith in the curandera,” Ms. de Jesus said. “That’s why I am here.”

Ms. Arenas, slightly built, her ink-black hair rooted with white, stepped outside to collect herbs from her tiny garden. After mixing them in a bowl with dashes of a Mexican cologne, she wrapped the sodden clumps around Maria’s head, waist and limbs with cloth tourniquets. Her cures come to her, she explained, in a flash of revelation, sometimes as she studies the movements of a broken egg yolk.

“Please bless this lady,” Ms. Arenas began. “Take all the bad spirits out and help me to heal her with your healing hands.”

Leaving her patient to rest, Ms. Arenas drove with Ms. de Jesus’s husband to the site of the accident, where he dug a hole and she sprinkled in rose petals, salt and holy water dispensed from a Gatorade bottle. After stomping in dirt, she waved Maria’s clothing and prayed for her spirit to return home.

Over the next few days, Ms. de Jesus reported feeling calmer and said her headaches were gone. The swelling in her arm had not subsided, however, so Ms. Arenas recommended she see a physician. Ms. Arenas asked the woman’s husband for $500 to cover her fee, as well as room and board, and he paid with a check (a more typical visit lasts a few hours and costs $10 to $60, she said).

Studies find that many Latino immigrants arrive healthy, but then develop the trademark afflictions of their new home: diabetes, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Long hours in the fields often leave them with muscular and skeletal injuries, as well as rashes and burning eyes from pesticides and dust.

There is no firm projection of the medical costs incurred by the estimated 11.1 million illegal immigrants in the United States, a fourth of whom reside in California. A RAND Corporation study pegged the cost in 2000 at $6.4 billion, including $1.1 billion from public sources. It found the share of medical costs attributable to illegal immigrants was half as large as expected for their share of the population.Health demographers estimate that half to two-thirds of California’s illegal immigrants are uninsured. Women may receive occasional check-ups because they qualify for prenatal and obstetrical care under the state’s Medicaid program. But RAND found that half of undocumented men had not seen a doctor in the previous year, compared to 25 percent of men born in the United States; one in six undocumented men had never seen a doctor.

Studies also find that newcomers are only half as likely as natives to use emergency rooms, which are required to treat patients regardless of immigration status. The California Hospital Association estimates that 10 percent of the state’s $9.7 billion in uncompensated care last year was for illegal immigrants, said Jan Emerson, an association spokeswoman.

“A lot of people assume the emergency room overcrowding problem is due to undocumented immigrants,” she said. “That’s not what we see. They show up when they truly need emergency care.”

Jurley Cortez, 20, an undocumented immigrant, has not been to an emergency room, doctor or dentist in her nine years in the United States, except for the perfunctory physical her school required for athletics. Now a high school graduate, she picks tomatoes and cantaloupe near Mendota.

Three years ago, when she injured a knee in the fields, her mother could not afford a doctor and took her to a sobadora. After several $20 treatments of ointment and massage, the swelling subsided. “It still hurts when it’s cold,” Ms. Cortez said. “I just take Tylenol or Advil.”

Even if farm workers in Mendota can afford the local clinic’s sliding-scale fees, they often cannot afford to miss work while waiting up to six hours to be seen. Sarah B. Horton, a University of Montana anthropologist who is studying health care in the Central Valley, said the lack of access to conventional care reinforces a culture of self-medication. There is a preference for potent Mexican drugs, she said, delivered, if possible, by syringe.

Rosie Q. Valdovinos, 57, a lettuce-picker, recently completed a self-prescribed regimen of three Penicillin injections, administered by a friend, to combat a cough.

“Penicillin or ampicillin will work on anything: a cough, a problem with your chest, or if you have an infection of your kidneys, even for a tooth,” she said. “There’s no choice but to take them sometimes. To go to a doctor, you miss a day of work. You miss a day, and the next day you’re gone.”

Ms. Valdovinos, an American citizen who said she immigrated when she was 3, is insured several months a year through Dole Food Company, but still prefers the ease and economy of Mexican medical care. In the few weeks between the end of lettuce season and her policy’s expiration, she hops a Greyhound to Mexico and stockpiles pharmaceuticals — including Prozac, Valium and antibiotics — for herself and others.

“You pay a doctor $30 for a prescription, and they’ll give you the medicine,” Ms. Valdovinos said. “I’ll spend $500 down there and that will take care of me for six months.”


7) The Lucrative Art of War
May 9, 2008

Congress is finally moving to shut one of the more egregious forms of Iraq war profiteering: defense contractors using offshore shell companies to avoid paying their fair share of payroll taxes. The practice is widespread and Congressional investigators have been dispatched to one of the prime tax refuges, the Cayman Islands, to seek a firsthand estimate of how much the Treasury is being shorted.

No one will be surprised to hear that one of the suspected prime offenders is KBR, the Texas-based defense contractor, formerly a part of the Halliburton conglomerate allied with Vice President Dick Cheney. According to a report in The Boston Globe, KBR, which has landed billions in Iraq contracts, has used two Cayman shell companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions in payroll, Medicare and unemployment taxes.

Unfortunately right now there is nothing illegal about this. The House has approved legislation to plug the dodge by treating foreign subsidiaries of defense contractors as what they are — American employers required to pay taxes. The Senate must quickly follow suit and not buy the contractors’ line that listing American workers at offshore companies is a cost saving passed on patriotically to the war effort. No less insulting, the Cayman dodge has been blocking Americans from the protection of labor and anti-discrimination laws.

The House has taken on another shamefully common abuse: voting to deny future government contracts to any company that fails to pay its corporate taxes, including an estimated 25,000 defense contractors keeping billions due the Treasury. The Senate should approve that legislation as well.

Companies enriched by taxpayers in the war boom should not be able to compound their profits by not paying their fair share of taxes. Congress must do far more to bring them to a full accounting.


8) Shiite Militias Seize Beirut Neighborhoods
May 10, 2008

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Heavily armed Hezbollah fighters seized control of large parts of western Beirut on Friday, patrolling the deserted streets in a raw show of force that underscored the Shiite militia’s refusal to back down in its latest confrontation with the American-backed government.

Hezbollah allies also forced a government-allied satellite television station off the air and burned the offices of its newspaper affiliate, as Sunni fighters loyal to the government largely melted away.

Those humiliating blows made clearer than ever the power of Hezbollah and its allies over the government majority, whose leaders were mostly holed up in their compounds, besieged by intermittent gunfire.

By Friday afternoon, a long column of Hezbollah fighters and paramilitaries was riding joyfully through west Beirut in trucks, cars and on scooters, shouting and firing their weapons into the air in a victory celebration.

Hezbollah fighters handed control of the areas they seized to the Lebanese Army in many cases, in an apparent effort to avoid being seen as conquerors.

The army, which was also out in force Friday, has carefully avoided all confrontations with both sides in an effort to preserve its reputation as the one neutral force in Lebanon’s bitter and complex political struggle.

Three days of street battles here have left at least 11 people dead and 20 wounded, after the government majority provoked a confrontation by challenging Hezbollah’s telecommunications network on Tuesday.

It was unclear what the developments would mean for Lebanon’s political future. For now, they seemed only to lead to stalemate and a deepening of Lebanon’s troubles. For 17 months, Lebanon has had a political crisis between the Hezbollah-led opposition supported by Iran and Syria and the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who is backed by the West and Saudi Arabia. The standoff has left the country without a president since November.

The latest clashes erupted after Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said the government had declared war by threatening to shut down the group’s private telephone network, which officials considered a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty. On Friday, the Shiite militias began to open up roads that had been blocked since a general strike began on Tuesday, including allowing cars through to the airport, and seemed to be waiting for the government to reverse its decision on the telephone network.

After Mr. Nasrallah’s speech, Mr. Hariri proposed a deal to end the fighting and called the government’s decision on the telephone network a misunderstanding.

Mr. Hariri said the decision should be left up to the army command, effectively taking it out of the government’s hands. He also urged the immediate election of the army commander, Gen. Michel Suleiman, as president and the convening of a national dialogue among the rival factions.

Later on Thursday night, Al Manar television, which is run by Hezbollah, said the group had rejected Mr. Hariri’s proposal. The station cited a pro-Hezbollah official, who said the group and its allies would reject any ideas for ending the conflict that were not proposed by Mr. Nasrallah.

Hezbollah has previously rejected proposals for electing a president before there is an agreement on a new cabinet and a new election law.

“The government’s proposal did not offer anything new on how to solve the political crisis,” said Talal Atrissi, a political sociology professor at the Lebanese University. “So one of the scenarios would be to continue fighting until either the government publicly backs off or the opposition agrees to hold dialogue.”

Mr. Hariri, the parliamentary leader, also urged Hezbollah to lift what he called its siege of Beirut.

“My appeal to you and to myself as well, the appeal of all Lebanon, is to stop the slide toward civil war, to stop the language of arms and lawlessness,” Mr. Hariri said in a televised speech.

Mr. Nasrallah, speaking at a news conference via a video link, said the telephone network, which connects Hezbollah’s officials, military commanders and emplacements, was a vital part of the group’s military infrastructure.

“We have said before that we will cut the hands that will target the weapons of the resistance,” he said. “Today is the day to fulfill this promise.”

The government’s decision, he added, “is first of all a declaration of war and the launching of war by the government against the resistance and its weapons for the benefit of America and Israel.”

Minutes after Mr. Nasrallah’s speech, armed men in mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods on the west side of Beirut engaged in heavy fighting using automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The army raced in armored personal carriers from one neighborhood to another, with soldiers shooting in the air to try to stop the fighting.

By late Thursday masked gunmen were roaming the streets with walkie-talkies. Some were seen shooting out streetlights to keep rooftop snipers from directing their fire at targets.

Many residents along Corniche Mazraa, a major highway that has become a demarcation line between the factions, were seen leaving their houses for safer areas. Others lined up in supermarkets, stocking up on food supplies.

Several parts of the city were shut down, and roads were blocked by burning tires and garbage cans set on fire.

Fighting also broke out in the Bekaa Valley, to the east, where government and Hezbollah supporters blocked roads and exchanged gunfire.

Nada Bakri reported from Beirut, Lebanon. Graham Bowley reported from New York.


9) Tensions, Suspensions, and a Police Funeral in Philadelphia
By Patrick J. Lyons
May 9, 2008, 1:35 pm

Emotions are running high in Philadelphia today as the city’s police bury one of their own and assess the impact of a video clip showing a crowd of police officers beating and kicking three suspects.

The funeral mass for Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, a 12-year veteran of the force who was shot to death on Saturday as he responded to a report of a robbery at a bank branch inside a supermarket, got underway at noon Eastern time; his coffin was escorted to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul through a spattering spring rain by an honor guard of officers.

Meanwhile, seven more officers involved in the beating incident, which was recorded from above by the local Fox TV affiliate’s news helicopter, were taken off the streets on Friday as the force investigates the incident, bringing the total now on modified duty to 12 officers and a sergeant. They may not be the last; the video appears to show at least 15 officers at the scene in all.

Anywhere you go, the emotional imperative to cops to rally ’round when a fellow officer falls in the line of duty is a powerful element of police culture, and Philadelphia is no exception. The still-developing narrative of what happened on the 4500 block of North Fourth Street Monday night seems to be picking up elements of that imperative as well.

At the time of the incident, only two of the three suspects in the bank robbery and the killing of Sergeant Liczbinski were accounted for; every officer in Philadelphia would have been keenly aware that the third was still at large (he has since been arrested). The police commissioner, Charles H. Ramsey, suggested in his comments on the Fourth Street beating on Wednesday that that awareness was a factor in the incident, though he added that it was no excuse for the violence of the arrest, in which three men were dragged from a car and were repeatedly beaten and kicked, with little sign in the video that they did any hitting back.

Another relevant bit of context: It isn’t evident in the shorter versions of the beating video, but the three men were suspects in a drive-by shooting minutes before that left three people wounded, and were fleeing the scene with police who had witnessed the shooting in hot pursuit. Forceful measures were certainly called for, defenders of the police say, even if not quite the brutal tactics seen in the videotape. The three men’s lawyer, D. Scott Perrine, a former prosecutor, said the police were mistaken and that his clients had nothing to do with the shooting.

Race is in the mix as well: White officers, black suspects, a history of friction and mistrust between the police and the black population. Top officials are insisting that race played no direct role in the episode, even as the Rev. Al Sharpton and other activists insist the opposite.

Current and former Philadelphians say that the sight of a swarm of officers letting a suspect have it but good is not a novel one (there are enough complaints of rough treatment that the city has at least one law firm specializing in police brutality cases), and the Fourth Street beating certainly seems to have much in common with an incident just before the Republican National Convention in July 2000: When a suspected carjacker who had already been wounded in a gunfight with police — an officer was winged as well — stole a squad car and tried to escape, a dozen officers caught up with him, dragged him from the car and beat and kicked him on the ground, all in the plain view of another television station’s helicopter camera.

Still to come is a decision from prosecutors on whether to pursue criminal charges as well as disciplinary ones against the officers in the Fourth Street video. Either a yes or a no would be likely to roil the city further.


10) American Rancher Resists Land Reform Plans in Bolivia
May 9, 2008

CARAPARICITO, Bolivia — From the time Ronald Larsen drove his pickup truck here from his native Montana in 1969 and bought a sprawling cattle ranch for a song, he lived a quiet life in remote southeastern Bolivia, farming corn, herding cattle and amassing vast land holdings.

But now Mr. Larsen, 63, has suddenly been thrust into the public eye in Bolivia, finding himself in the middle of a battle between President Evo Morales, who plans to break up large rural estates, and the wealthy light-skinned elite in eastern Bolivia, which is chafing at Mr. Morales’s land reform project to the point of discussing secession.

After armed standoffs with land-reform officials at his ranch this year, Mr. Larsen made it clear which side he was on, emerging as a figure celebrated in rebellious Santa Cruz Province and loathed by Mr. Morales’s government, which wants to reduce ties to the United States.

“I just spent 40 years in this country working my land in an honest fashion,” said Mr. Larsen, who resembled Clint Eastwood with his weathered features and lanky frame. “They’re taking it away over my dead body.”

Mr. Larsen’s standoffs with the central government, replete with rifles, cowboys and Guaraní Indians, might sound like something out of the Old West. In fact, the battle playing out in the cattle pastures and gas-rich hills of his ranch, amid claims of forced servitude of Guaraní workers in the remote region, exemplifies Bolivia’s wild east.

Tensions here erupted one day in February when Alejandro Almaraz, the deputy land minister, arrived before dawn at the entrance to Mr. Larsen’s Hacienda Caraparicito to carry out an inspection, a step usually taken before the government seizes ranches and redistributes them among indigenous farmers.

Both sides differ as to what happened, but everyone agrees that some violence ensued. “I didn’t want this guy making any trouble, so I shut him up with a shot at one of his tires,” Mr. Larsen was quoted as saying last month by La Razón, Bolivia’s main daily newspaper.

Mr. Almaraz said he was kidnapped and held for a day on Mr. Larsen’s ranch. He responded to the incident by identifying the American rancher and his son Duston in a criminal complaint for “sedition, robbery and other crimes.”

Faced with a legal tussle over the standoff, Mr. Larsen now claims that he did not shoot at Mr. Almaraz’s vehicle. “The tires were punched out with sharpened screwdrivers,” Mr. Larsen said. “If I’d have been shooting at people that day, there would have been dead and injured.”

At stake is the 37,000-acre Caraparicito ranch, which Mr. Larsen bought in 1969 for $55,000, and other holdings of more than 104,000 acres, the government estimates. Mr. Larsen, who as a protective measure transferred ownership of almost all his land to his three sons, who are Bolivian citizens, declined to say how much land his family owned.

With his reserved demeanor, Mr. Larsen, a descendant of Danish immigrants to the Midwest, made it seem as if it were the most natural thing in the world to have moved to Bolivia in the 1960s, after he got bored working as a department store manager.

“A buddy of mine in the Peace Corps told me Bolivia was a good place to invest,” he said.

His quiet style contrasts with that of his oldest son, Duston, born in Bolivia, reared in Nebraska and educated at Montana State University. While Mr. Larsen prefers to lie low at the family home in Santa Cruz, the provincial capital, Duston, 29, has been in the spotlight since moving here in 2004.

Within months of his arrival, he won the Mr. Bolivia beauty pageant. He compensated for his American-accented Spanish at the finale by shouting, “Viva Bolivia!” before the stunned judges. Shortly afterward, he was cast as himself in a Bolivian comedy about cocaine smuggling entitled “Who Killed the White Llama?”

Now Duston Larsen is focused on guarding the family’s land, ahead of his marriage to Claudia Azaeda, a talk show host and former beauty pageant winner. Depicted in newspaper cartoons as a gun-slinging “Mr. Gringo Bolivia,” he basks in the showdown with Mr. Morales, an Aymara Indian who as Bolivia’s first indigenous president has made land reform a top priority in his efforts to reverse centuries of subjugation of the indigenous majority.

“Evo Morales is a symbol of ignorance, having never even finished high school,” Duston Larsen said.

He vehemently asserted that ranch hands and their families were free to come and go, after the Larsens and other ranchers were faced with government claims that ranches in their region held their Guaraní workers in servitude; the government has used the charge to move ahead with land seizures.

The reality of life at Caraparicito and other ranches may be more complex than either side suggests. At Caraparicito, workers get work contracts, food, clothing, housing and education for their children at a schoolhouse on the ranch. But wages remain low, with senior farmhands earning less than $6 a day.

“We are not slaves,” said Oscar Robles, 52, a ranch hand for almost two decades. “But we are not prospering. We just exist.”

In 2004, the French energy giant Total discovered one of the largest unexploited natural gas deposits in Bolivia, called Incahuasi, on the ranch. The rights to such discoveries automatically go to the government in Bolivia.

But Mr. Larsen said he believed that one reason the central government was so interested in his land was its natural gas. President Morales could bypass the province of Santa Cruz in reaching deals related to the natural gas field if he is able to settle Indians on the land who are sympathetic to his government.

The combination of oil, guns and land becomes even more combustible when mixed with Bolivia’s volatile politics. In a sharp rebuke of Mr. Morales’s socialist-inspired policies, Santa Cruz Province approved measures on Sunday that would halt land redistribution and allow provincial officials to renegotiate some energy deals.

Such a vote, which some people in the province consider a possible precursor to secession, might be expected to halt the maneuvers around Caraparicito. Indeed, Mr. Larsen’s battle is being watched closely throughout Santa Cruz, where foreign agricultural settlers include Brazilians, Canadian Mennonites, Okinawans and a handful of Americans.

Each side is digging in its heels for the next stage in the fight.

Juan Carlos Rojas, the director of Bolivia’s land reform agency, said the battle got personal when Mr. Larsen issued a veiled threat against him and other officials when the American rancher referred to a well-known incident in the 1980s in which he shot dead three intruders inside his home.

“Larsen made it clear that he was above the law,” said Mr. Rojas, who emerged from an April standoff at Caraparicito with his face bloodied from a rock-throwing exchange. Echoing comments by Mr. Morales, he said Santa Cruz’s newly approved autonomy was “illegal” in his view.

“The last I looked, the Larsens were living in Bolivia and not the Republic of Santa Cruz,” Mr. Rojas said. “Despite Ronald Larsen’s resistance, we are going to get into his ranch.”


11) Supporters Rally in Newark as an Imam’s Trial Opens
May 9, 2008

NEWARK — The 14 charter buses started arriving at the Federal Building at 4:30 and continued throughout Thursday morning. They were filled with men and women who had taken the day off from work. Teenagers in brightly colored headscarves marched off the buses chanting “Allahu akbar” — God is great — and linked hands in a human chain that lined the block.

Three Orthodox rabbis had driven from Rockland County in New York, and all day long, men in dashikis strolled over from local mosques. All had come to show their support for Mohammad Qatanani, 44, the popular spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson.

Imam Qatanani is on trial and facing deportation because of his detention in Israel in 1993, and questions about whether he lied about it on his application for permanent residency in 1999.

The imam, a Palestinian, has been hailed as voice of moderation and an interfaith leader. But inside the immigration court of Judge Alberto J. Riefkohl, Angel Alicea, an F.B.I agent, testified that in February 2005 Imam Qatanani admitted having been arrested and tried, contrary to his green card application.

Testifying for the government, a law professor from the University of Utah, Amos Guiora, who was a judge and prosecutor in Israel’s military courts in the 1980s and ’90s, said that Imam Qatanani had confessed to recruiting students to join the Muslim Brotherhood, a student organization that was legal in Jordan, and the terrorist organization Hamas.

But the prosecution did not produce a copy of the confession, and Imam Qatanani’s name was not on a court document the prosecution did provide. In addition, Mr. Guiora testified that it was unclear from the documents whether Imam Qatanani was even present in the courtroom at the time of his conviction.

The defense has said Imam Qatanani was tortured in prison — an assertion that the prosecution conceded was likely — and was not aware he had been convicted.

The lawyer for Imam Qatanani, Claudia Slovinksy, has contended that the government has denied him permanent residency in the United States because his brother-in-law, who was killed by the Israelis, was a senior Hamas military leader, and because his predecessor at the Islamic center, Mohammed el-Mezain, is awaiting retrial in a terrorism-financing case.

But Judge Riefkohl stopped the prosecutor, Alan Wolf, who is with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, when he brought up Mr. el-Mezain. “I don’t want to get into inferences,” the judge said.

Earlier Thursday, Imam Qatanani — smiling as he walked into the courtroom in his white robe and skullcap — said he felt beautiful. “I believe that justice will go through,” he said.

He embraced almost everyone in the room and joked with the courtroom artist. He was followed by his six children — three of them American-born — and his wife, Sumia Abu Hanoud.

By noon the crowd outside had grown to more than 300. The imam’s supporters were lining up in front of a megaphone, where they broadcast personal testimonials about him. The teenagers cheered as if they were at a pep rally — “2-4-6-8, Who do we appreciate?” — and wore T-shirts printed with a big green Q with an American flag inside it, the logo of Americans 4 Qatanani, a group the Paterson mosque founded in March in the support of the imam.

The rabbis said they had come to support Imam Qatanani because at one time he had arranged for them to use a halal slaughterhouse in Paterson.

One group of supporters, cheering more loudly than the rest, was made up of classmates of the imam’s 16-year-old daughter, Israa, who is a junior at Al-Ghazaly, a Muslim school in Teaneck.

“I’ve been with Israa since first grade,” said Marwah Maasarani, 17. “I don’t want her to pick up and leave us all of a sudden.”

At precisely 1:12 p.m., when it was time for the third of the Muslim daily prayers, a giant blue tarp was spread over the sidewalk, and a crowd knelt and prayed for 15 minutes. Imam Qatanani normally chants their prayers; this time, they used a recording blasted from a loudspeaker.

“Now that’s unity,” said James Lewis, 50, a security guard who lives nearby, as he watched the group.


12) Senator’s Ties to Real Estate Draw Criticism
May 9, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — He has made millions as a title insurance executive, landlord and real estate developer in this college town, where the economy, despite trouble nationwide, is still growing nicely. Now, as a United States senator, with the mortgage mess fueling a national economic slowdown, Richard C. Shelby has more say over the revamping of housing finance laws than almost anyone else in Congress.

Mr. Shelby, 74, does not run a key Congressional committee. Instead, as the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, he is using his clout and the Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate to help determine what gets in, or almost as important, what is left out, of legislation.

He will soon play a major role in deciding the fate of one such bill, to help struggling homeowners, that the House passed, 266 to 154, on Thursday.

But over the years, his critics say, Mr. Shelby’s ties to the mortgage industry and the Alabama real estate market, and the generous campaign donations he receives from financial services companies, have distorted his perspective and led him to delay critical legislative remedies.

Indeed, Mr. Shelby’s legislative and business worlds have often intersected. For instance, while on the Banking Committee, he financed an apartment complex he owns in Tuscaloosa with a $5 million loan from Freddie Mac, the same government-sponsored mortgage company whose regulation his committee is reshaping.

Even his efforts to steer federal money to the University of Alabama, where a recently built $60 million science building is named after Mr. Shelby and his wife, Annette, have benefited him. The tens of millions in earmarks have helped the university, his alma mater, grow and attract more students. The tenants of his apartment complex are mostly students.

Mr. Shelby said in an interview his business dealings posed no conflict.

“It doesn’t affect me at all. I’m going to put the interests of the nation first,” he said. His stubbornness over housing laws, he said, stems from his free-market philosophy and opposition to using tax dollars to bail out people who acted recklessly. “We can’t bail out everything,” he added.

Others see it differently. “Senator Shelby would have prevented anything going through that the industry was not happy with,” said Representative Brad Miller, Democrat of North Carolina, who has pushed legislation to crack down on predatory lending, an effort that has stalled in the Senate in part because of Mr. Shelby’s reservations. “That’s the sense from all the people who are involved in the issue.”

Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who leads the House Banking Committee and has won points for working with the Bush administration on housing issues, said he had been surprised by Mr. Shelby’s unwillingness to accept several proposals like a permanent increase in the cap to $730,000 from about $360,000 on home loans that can be federally insured.

“I think he has been the major obstacle,” Mr. Frank said, calling it “a serious problem in getting things done.”

The son of an Alabama steelworker, Mr. Shelby was elected to the House in 1978, after working as a trial lawyer, prosecutor, magistrate and state senator in an up-by-the-bootstraps career that saw him earn a wide political base as a conservative Democrat in the deep South.

Eight years later, he won election to the Senate, but his ties to the Democratic Party ruptured with Bill Clinton’s election to the White House in 1992. Mr. Shelby blasted Mr. Clinton for what he considered his liberal tax-and-spend ways, and in 1994 he became a Republican, a split that caused lingering tensions with former colleagues.

A tall, imposing man, Mr. Shelby has adopted a much lower profile in the last few years after he and his office were the targets of an F.B.I. criminal investigation into the possible leak of classified information concerning a National Security Agency intercept on Sept. 10, 2001, indicating possible terror attacks in the works. No one was charged in the case, but the leak provoked tensions with the White House.

Mr. Shelby has become considerably richer in his years in Congress, with a net worth of $9 million to $32 million, according to his 2007 financial disclosure form.

The single biggest source of his new wealth is the 124-unit apartment complex — complete with a pool and a tennis court — that he built in Tuscaloosa with his wife in 1995 on land that had been assessed at a few hundred thousand dollars. Now, with the 13 new apartment buildings, it is worth nearly $8 million, property records show.

The financing on the apartments, Yorktown Commons, a few miles from the University of Alabama, shows the complications of serving on the Senate Banking Committee while also developing real estate.

A $5 million mortgage on the apartment complex, arranged in October 2002 by the Reilly Mortgage Group of Virginia, now owned by Wells Fargo Bank, was financed by Freddie Mac. Mr. Shelby said he did not know Freddie Mac would assume his loan. “This was just a plain-vanilla commercial loan,” said a Wells Fargo official, who asked not to be named because bank rules prohibit public discussion of loans.

While serving as chairman — a post he held until Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 — and more recently as the ranking Republican, Mr. Shelby has called for allowing Freddie Mac’s regulator to demand increases in the capital cushion the company must keep to back up its own debt and the mortgages it guarantees.

But Mr. Shelby has for years blocked legislation that would have restrained Freddie Mac and its sibling, Fannie Mae, on the grounds that the bills did not go far enough. In doing so, the mortgage financiers were able to expand rapidly. His positions on other housing issues have frequently been in line with those advocated by the Mortgage Bankers Association, whose legislative agenda was devised in part by Tom Szydlowski, a senior executive at Reilly Mortgage, the bank that arranged Mr. Shelby’s $5 million loan and sold it to Freddie Mac. Mr. Szydlowski joined Reilly a month after the loan to Mr. Shelby.

The Mortgage Bankers Association and Mr. Shelby opposed a provision in a Senate bill debated this spring that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to lower the principal on certain loans for homeowners facing foreclosure. Housing advocates viewed the provision as their highest priority, but Mr. Shelby and the mortgage bankers argued it would push up lending costs. It was removed from the measure.

Mr. Shelby and a spokesman for Mr. Szydlowski said there was no relationship between Mr. Shelby’s legislative views and the loan. What guides his positions, Mr. Shelby said, is his confidence in free markets, tempered by proper government oversight and disclosure requirements.

“I want the market to work if it can, and most of the time it will, but not without some pain,” Mr. Shelby said in an interview.

But Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington ethics group, said Mr. Shelby should not be playing a central role on legislation that would affect mortgage bankers and Freddie Mac.

“Even if everything is by the book, it looks bad, it just smells,” Mr. Buzenberg said.

Questions about the intersection of his two careers, in real estate and politics, have come up before. Just two blocks from the county courthouse here is the headquarters of Tuscaloosa Title, a real estate title insurance company Mr. Shelby has controlled since 1974.

When the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2002 proposed rules to save homebuyers hundreds of dollars in closing costs by allowing a single, discounted package that would include items like the appraisal and title insurance, Mr. Shelby objected, saying the rules would hurt small businesses. Tuscaloosa Title, in a one-story office building that he owns, employs about a dozen people.

“Only the larger institutions would have the market power and volume of business that would permit them to offer volume discounts,” he said in a 2003 speech to the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

The agency, under pressure from Congress, ended up withdrawing the proposal.

Since his early days in Congress in the 1980s, Mr. Shelby has won support from the banking industry, collecting fees for speeches before industry groups and, since 2000, raising nearly $1 million from industry powerhouses.

On occasion, the timing of the contributions and Mr. Shelby’s official positions have overlapped. Last June, Mr. Shelby pronounced in a television interview that Congress should not increase the taxes on private equity firms like Blackstone Group.

Six days later, campaign finance records show, Mr. Shelby collected nearly $25,000 in donations from Blackstone executives. Mr. Shelby said executives at Blackstone have long supported him. “That is not relevant to any decision I made, whether I raise money or don’t raise money,” he said.

Mr. Shelby, who has a reputation on Capitol Hill as a populist, has also taken certain positions that have alienated the banking and financial worlds and earned him admirers among some Washington consumer advocates. He has been particularly dogged in fighting for goals like privacy protections on the financial information of consumers and corporate reporting requirements.

“I’m on the taxpayers’ side,” Mr. Shelby said in the interview.

Whatever the issue, the Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate helps explain Mr. Shelby’s outsize influence. There are 49 Democratic senators and two independents who usually vote Democratic, but Senate rules require 60 votes to cut off debate on controversial legislation. Democrats realize they need Mr. Shelby to pass a deal.

“He may be slow, he may be cautious, he may be frustrating,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, who is the Banking Committee chairman. “But once he makes the deal, it happens.”


13) Juan Crow in Georgia
By Roberto Lovato
“We’ve globalized money, we’ve globalized trade and commerce, but we haven’t globalized fairness toward work and labor. The solution to the ‘problem’ of immigration and other problems is globalization of justice.” — Rev. Joseph Lowery, leader of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda
—The Nation, May 8, 2008

Justeen Mancha’s dream of becoming a psychologist was born of the tropical heat and exploitation that have shaped farmworker life around Reidsville, Georgia, for centuries. The wiry, freckle-faced 17-year-old high school junior has toiled in drought-dry onion fields to help her mother, Maria Christina Martinez. But early one September morning in 2006, Mancha’s dream was abruptly deferred.

From the living room of the battered trailer she and her mother call home, Mancha described what happened when she came out of the shower that morning. “My mother went out, and I was alone,” she said. “I was getting ready for school, getting dressed, when I heard this noise. I thought it was my mother coming back.” She went on in the Tex-Mex Spanish-inflected Georgia accent now heard throughout Dixie: “Some people were slamming car doors outside the trailer. I heard footsteps and then a loud boom and then somebody screaming, asking if we were ‘illegals,’ ‘Mexicans.’ These big men were standing in my living room holding guns. One man blocked my doorway. Another guy grabbed a gun on his side. I freaked out. ‘Oh, my God!’ I yelled.”

As more than twenty Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents surrounded the trailer, said Mancha, agents inside interrogated her. They asked her where her mother was; they wanted to know if her mother was “Mexican” and whether she had “papers” or a green card. They told her they were looking for “illegals.”

After about five minutes of interrogation, the agents—who, according to the women’s lawyer, Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, showed no warrants and had neither probable cause nor consent to enter the home—simply left. They left in all likelihood because Mancha and her mother didn’t fit the profile of the workers at the nearby Crider poultry plant, who had been targeted by the raid in nearby Stilwell. They were the wrong kind of “Mexicans”; they were U.S. citizens.

Though she had experienced discrimination before the raid—in the fields, in the supermarket and in school—Mancha, who testified before Congress in February, never imagined such an incident would befall her, since she and her mother had migrated from Texas to Reidsville. Best known for harvesting poultry and agricultural products, Reidsville, a farm town about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, is also known for harvesting Klan culture behind the walls of the state’s oldest and largest prison. But its most famous former inmate is Jim Crow slayer and dreamer Martin Luther King Jr. His example inspires Mancha’s new dream: lawyering “for the poor.”

The toll this increasingly oppressive climate has taken on Mancha represents but a small part of its effects on noncitizen immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and other Latinos. Mancha and the younger children of the mostly immigrant Latinos in Georgia are learning and internalizing that they are different from white—and black—children not just because they have the wrong skin color but also because many of their parents lack the right papers. They are growing up in a racial and political climate in which Latinos’ subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow. Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants. Listening to the effects of Juan Crow on immigrants and citizens like Mancha (“I can’t sleep sometimes because of nightmares,” she says. “My arms still twitch. I see ICE agents and men in uniform, and it still scares me”) reminds me of the trauma I heard among the men, women and children controlled and exploited by state violence in wartime El Salvador. Juan Crow has roots in the U.S. South, but it stirs traumas bred in the hemispheric South.

In fact, the surge in Latino migration (the Southeast is home to the fastest-growing Latino population in the United States) is moving many of the institutions and actors responsible for enforcing Jim Crow to resurrect and reconfigure themselves in line with new demographics. Along with the almost daily arrests, raids and home invasions by federal, state and other authorities, newly resurgent civilian groups like the Ku Klux Klan, in addition to more than 144 new “nativist extremist” groups and 300 anti-immigrant organizations born in the past three years, mostly based in the South, are harassing immigrants as a way to grow their ranks.

Meanwhile, a legal regime of distinctions between the rights of undocumented immigrants and citizens has emerged and is being continually refined and expanded. A 2006 Georgia law denies undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. Federal laws that allowed local and state authorities to pursue blacks under the Fugitive Slave Act appear to be the model for the Bush Administration’s Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security (ACCESS) program, which allows states to deputize law enforcement officials to chase, detain, arrest and jail the undocumented. Georgia’s lowest-paid workers, the undocumented, now occupy a separate, unequal and clandestine place that has made it increasingly difficult for them to work, rent homes or attend school.

The pre- and post-Reconstruction regional economic system centered on the stately Southern mansions that once graced Atlanta’s storied Peachtree Street has given way to a more global finance-driven system centered on the cold, anonymous skyscrapers that loom over Peachtree today. And in a more hopeful sign, some veterans of the civil rights struggle against Jim Crow are joining Latino immigrants in what will likely be one of the major movements of the twenty-first century.

These and other facets of immigrant life in Georgia, the Deep South and the entire country are but a small part of the labyrinthine institutional and cultural arrangements defining the strange career of Juan Crow.

The immigrant condition in Georgia worsened in the wake of the failed immigration reform proposal last year. The national immigration debate had the effect of further legitimizing and emboldening the most extreme elements of the anti-immigrant movement in places like Georgia. Since the advent of what he terms “Georgiafornia,” for example, D.A. King, a former marine and contributor to the anti-immigrant hate site VDARE, has leapfrogged into the national limelight to become one of the major advocates for deportation and security-only “immigration reform.” Strengthened by the defeat of national reform, King, State Senator Chip Rogers and a growing galaxy of formerly fringe groups succeeded in getting some of the country’s most draconian anti-immigrant laws passed. These new racial codes are disguised by the national security-infused bureaucratic language of laws with names like the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (GSICA).

Their efforts were egged on by the Bush Administration’s implementation of the ACCESS program last August. ACCESS provided new excuses for state and local officials to pursue the undocumented in states like Georgia. In tandem with the federal government, King and Rogers led the push to pass GSICA, which requires law enforcement officers to investigate the citizenship status of anyone charged with a felony or driving under the influence. GSICA and federal efforts laid the foundation on which the other legal and social structures of Juan Crow grow.

Georgia’s estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants must think twice before seeking emergency support at hospitals or clinics because of laws that require them to prove their legal status before receiving many state benefits. “No-match letter” regulations requiring all employers to confirm the Social Security numbers of their employees have been issued by the Social Security Administration and have resulted in firings and growing fear among immigrants. But even without the no-match letters, undocumented immigrants in Georgia have many reasons to fear going to work. If they work at a company with more than 500 employees, for example (and most undocumented immigrants are employed in meatpacking, agricultural, carpet and other industries with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of workers), they must worry about laws that punish employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants and mandate that firms with state contracts check the immigration status of their employees. Similar laws denying or restricting housing, education, transportation and other aspects of immigrant life are also being instituted across Georgia.

For a firsthand look at how the interplay of state and federal policies fuels Juan Crow, one need go no further than the immigrant-heavy area surrounding Buford Highway in DeKalb County, near Atlanta. During the weekend of October 18, 2007, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and other advocacy groups from across the state reported sharp increases in arrests of immigrants in the area. “This weekend alone we received more than 200 phone calls from people telling horrible stories of arrests,” said GLAHR executive director Adelina Nicholls of Mexico City. “There are hundreds of Latinos who’ve been hunted down like animals, taken to jail, and they don’t even know why or whether or not they’ll be released,” said Nicholls more recently.

Nicholls and other advocates are working feverishly in response to the exponential increase in official and extra-official profiling of immigrants. Last year there were forty-four reported armed robberies of DeKalb County-area Latino immigrants in August alone. One especially outrageous incident took place just west of Atlanta, in the rural town of Carrollton, last June. Emelina Ramirez, a Honduran immigrant, called local police to report that her roommates were attacking her, punching and kicking her in the stomach. Ramirez was pregnant. Locals say that when police got to Ramirez’s apartment, officers handcuffed her, took her to jail and then ran her fingerprints through a federal database. After discovering that she was undocumented, they contacted federal authorities as stipulated under ACCESS and GSICA. Ramirez was then deported.

Nicholls says she and GLAHR staff exist in a perpetual state of exhaustion after having to expand their DeKalb County work to deal with cases like Ramirez’s. Adding to their load is the situation in nearby Cobb County, where the local jail has 500 adults captured on streets, at work and in their homes. All of these people, says Nicholls, are awaiting deportation.

Beneath the growing fear and intensifying racial tensions of Georgia lies the new, more globalized economic system that sustains Juan Crow. At the core of the economy in Dixie are the financial dealings taking place in the shiny towers of Peachtree Street, buildings constructed atop the ashes of plantation houses.

Lining Peachtree today are SunTrust, Bank of America and other titans of global finance with major operations in downtown Atlanta. Along with the financial players of Charlotte, North Carolina, the companies occupying the towers on Peachtree are among the prime movers behind the transformation and restructuring of the Georgia economy—and of its race relations. On Peachtree you can find U.S. banks and financial firms investing in companies doing business in post-NAFTA Latin America, where nonunion labor and miserably low wages drive immigration to Georgia and other states. The investment portfolios of many of these companies have grown fat with high-yield investments in the poultry, meatpacking, rug, tourism and other Georgia industries employing undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. The need to keep down the wages of these undocumented workers is fulfilled with the legal, political and psychological discipline of Juan Crow. Along with the most visible legacy of Jim Crow—Georgia’s massive and growing population of black prisoners, housed in Reidsville and other, mostly rural prisons—the Peachtree State’s undocumented immigrants find themselves at the bottom of the South’s new political and economic order.

By keeping down wages of the undocumented and documented workforce, Juan Crow doesn’t just pit undocumented Latino workers against black and white workers. It also makes possible every investor’s dream of merging Third World wages with First World amenities. Promotional brochures put out by the state’s Department of Economic Development, for example, tout Georgia’s “below average” wages and its status as a “right to work” (nonunion) state. Georgia’s infrastructure, its proximity to U.S. markets and its incentives—nonunion labor, low wages, government subsidies, cheap land—allow the state to position itself as an attractive investment opportunity for foreign companies. While the fortunes of Ford, GM and other U.S. companies have declined in the South, the fortunes of foreign automakers here are rising. Companies like Korean car manufacturer Kia, which plans to open a $1.2 billion plant by 2009, see in Georgia and other Southern states a new pool of cheap labor. Of the $5.7 billion of total new investment in Georgia in 2006, more than 36 percent was from international companies—companies that were also responsible for nearly half of the 24,660 jobs created by government-supported foreign ventures that year.

Also critical to the economic strategies formulated in the towers on Peachtree Street is another Latin-centered component: free trade with Latin America. “We are the gateway to the Americas,” boasted Kenneth Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Stewart was among the more than 1,000 people, including three U.S. Cabinet members and finance ministers, trade representatives, investors, corporate executives and politicians from thirty-three countries in the hemisphere, who attended the sold-out Americas Competitiveness Forum at the Marriott on Peachtree Street last June. As an organizer of the event, the gregarious Stewart, like many of the region’s economic leaders, considers hosting the forum a critical part of Atlanta’s bid to become the secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas organization. Local elites support building a $10 million, privately financed FTAA headquarters complex, possibly in the area near Peachtree and the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.

Before being rapidly gentrified by the white-collar employees working in the Peachtree towers, Sweet Auburn, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., was one of the cradles of the African-American freedom struggle. Echoing the connection frequently made here between increased globalization and commerce and improved race relations, Stewart told me that free trade “will benefit citizens of Georgia and the citizens of Mexico and other Latin American countries.” But when I asked him about the increased racial tensions, including the murders of some immigrants in Georgia, and about the growing repression of noncitizen Mexican workers, Stewart abruptly ended the interview.

For her part, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin—among the most recent in a long line of African-American Atlanta mayors that includes former Martin Luther King colleague and Wal-Mart consultant Andrew Young (who has an office in a Peachtree high-rise)—also linked local freedom struggles with global free trade. Before the Americas Competitiveness Forum, she and other regional elites distributed splashy brochures promoting the city’s FTAA bid. Included in the brochure was a picture of the headstone of King’s grave, which bears the inscription Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free at last. The brochure promoting “the city too busy to hate” also paints a positive, global Kumbaya picture of the plight of Georgia’s migrants: “With its attractive quality of life and rapidly expanding job market, Metro Atlanta draws thousands of newcomers every year and has growing Latin, Asian and African American communities.”

“This is the home of Dr. King,” said Franklin in her welcome speech at the packed forum. “It is in the spirit of peace, it is in the spirit of collaboration and it is in the spirit of fairness that we attack this issue of [economic] competitiveness,” she told her audience in King-like cadences. But had Franklin taken her foreign visitors on the short stroll from their hotel to Sweet Auburn, they would not have found the racial harmony described in the glossy brochures and spirited speeches.

Documented and undocumented Latinos dealing with the economic and political effects of Juan Crow in Georgia (and across the country) find themselves unwitting actors in a centuries-old racial drama, which they must alter if Juan Crow is to be defeated. The major difference today is that Latinos also find themselves having to navigate a racial and political topography that is no longer black and white. Young Latinos, in particular, attend schools that teach them about Jim Crow while giving them a daily dose of Juan Crow.

High school senior Ernesto Chávez (a pseudonym) does not look forward to becoming one of the few undocumented students in Georgia to go to a university like Kennesaw State, which requires them to carry student IDs with special color coding, or to a college that denies them aid and forces them to pay exorbitant, nearly impossible-to-pay out-of-state tuition. He has already learned enough about Jim Crow—and Juan Crow—in high school.

Chávez, who sports a buzz cut and wears baggy clothes, said that when he studied Jim Crow in school, he identified strongly with the heroic generation of African-American youth who rebelled against it. “They couldn’t ride in the same trains, they couldn’t drink from the same fountains,” he said during an interview in a classroom at Miller Grove High School in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia. “I felt mad when I read about that, even though they weren’t my people,” said the soft-spoken Mexican, who is part of the small but growing minority of Latinos at Miller Grove (African-American students make up about 93 percent of the student body).

Chávez said he came to know the limits of his physical, social and psychic mobility, thanks to the Georgia law that requires people to show proof of citizenship or legal status in order to obtain a driver’s license. “It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be ‘illegal’ here in Georgia. It’s like you can’t move,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. “It feels scary because you know that when you go out to a public place, you might never know if you’re going to come back. I’m really scared because my mother drives without a license. She’s scared too.”

Chávez and other Latino students also expressed their shock and dismay at being discriminated against by some of the descendants of those discriminated against by Jim Crow.

“When I first got here, I was confused. I went to a mostly white school in Gwinnett County and started noticing the fifth-grade kids saying things to me, racial stuff, asking me questions like, ‘Are you illegal?’” said Chávez as he fidgeted nervously in one of those ubiquitous and visibly uncomfortable school desks. “But when I was in seventh grade, I went to Richards Middle School, where it wasn’t the white people saying things, it was black people. They didn’t like Mexican kids. They would call us ‘Mexican border hoppers,’ ‘wetbacks’ and all these things. Every time they’d see me, they yelled at me, threatened to beat me up after school for no reason at all.” Asked how it felt, he said, “It’s like, now since they have rights, they can discriminate [against] others.”

Chávez’s family, along with many immigrant families in Georgia, will be watching closely to see how the state’s justice system deals with the still-pending 2005 case of six Mexican farmworkers killed execution-style in their trailers, which were parked near the cotton and peanut farms they toiled on in Tifton. Pretrial motions began last July in the case, in which prosecutors allege that four African-American men bludgeoned five of the immigrants to death with aluminum baseball bats and shot one in the head while robbing them in their trailer home. Though the face of anti-immigrant racism in the Juan Crow South is still overwhelmingly identified as white by the immigrants I interviewed, some immigrants also see a black face on anti-immigrant hate.

Politically, a growing divide has emerged between pro- and anti-immigrant blacks in Georgia. The African-American face of Juan Crow is embodied by State Senator and probable Democratic Atlanta mayoral candidate Kasim Reed (he’s also considering a gubernatorial bid). Reed proposed a five-year prison sentence for anyone caught trying to secure employment with a false ID. Local Latino and African-American activists have criticized Reed for what Bruce Dixon of the online Black Agenda Report called his “morally bankrupt attempt to outflank Republicans on the right.”

Activists like Janvieve Williams of the U.S. Human Rights Network, based in Atlanta, counter the anti-immigrant tide by elevating the tone of the debate and shifting the terms to human rights. As an Afro-Panamanian immigrant, Williams says she feels discrimination from many whites in Georgia, but she also experiences discrimination from mestizo immigrants. Her perception of anti-immigrant sentiments among African-Americans adds another layer to the complex racial dynamics unleashed by Juan Crow. “I’m caught between African-Americans who don’t want to understand immigration and immigrants and Latinos who use words like ‘moreno,’ ‘negritos,’ ‘los negros’ and other terms that are not good,” says Williams.

But rather than see her Afro-Latino identity and her Latin American political experience as a barrier between communities, Williams—who co-hosts Radio Diaspora, a weekly Afro-Latino program that helped promote the 50,000-plus immigrants’ rights marches in 2006—uses Latin American media and organizing experience to cross linguistic and political borders. “We need to move from civil rights to human rights. We need to start using the language and tools of human rights around the issue of immigration. It’s an international issue that needs an international framework,” says Williams, whose organization co-sponsored the visit to Atlanta last May by the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. Williams’s organization brought together many groups who shared stories of Juan Crow with the special rapporteur, who took his report to the UN General Assembly.

In the same way that the concept of civil rights grew as a response to Jim Crow, the human rights framework advocated by Williams and other immigrants’ rights activists in the South and across the country challenges traditional approaches to race and rights. “Some civil rights leaders here don’t think human rights affects us in the United States,” says Williams. “A lot of the [civil rights] elders of that movement are not linked to the human rights movement, and that also gets in the way of working together.”

Not all of Georgia’s civil rights elders fit thirtysomething Williams’s description. The Rev. Joseph Lowery, the lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr., says he did not perceive the threat that some whites and African-American Georgians felt from the massive immigrant marches of 2006; instead he sees in the millions marching in Atlanta and across the country “instruments of God’s will to change this country.” Reverend Lowery, who now leads the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, has spoken eloquently and vociferously against what he considers “wicked” immigration policies and has attended pro-immigrant rallies. He believes that massive immigration to the United States came about because of the workings within the tall buildings like those in spitting distance of his office in the historic Atlanta Life building on Auburn Avenue. “We’ve globalized money, we’ve globalized trade and commerce, but we haven’t globalized fairness toward work and labor. The solution to the ‘problem’ of immigration and other problems is globalization of justice,” he said.

Speaking of the relationship between American blacks and Latino immigrants, Lowery said, “There are many differences between our experience and that of immigrant Latinos—but there is a family resemblance between Jim Crow and what is being experienced by immigrants. Both met economic oppression. Both met racial and ethnic hostility.

“But the most important thing to remember,” said Lowery, as if casting out the demons of Juan and Jim Crow, “is that, though we may have come over on different ships, we’re all in the same damn boat now.”

Lovato Roberto Lovato, a frequent Nation contributor, is a New York-based writer with New America Media




Texas: Prison Settlement Approved
National Briefing | Southwest
A federal judge has approved a settlement between the Texas Youth Commission and the Justice Department over inmate safety at the state’s juvenile prison in Edinburg. The judge, Ricardo Hinojosa of Federal District Court, signed the settlement Monday, and it was announced by the commission Wednesday. Judge Hinojosa had previously rejected a settlement on grounds that it lacked a specific timeline. Federal prosecutors began investigating the prison, the Evins Regional Juvenile Center, in 2006. The settlement establishes parameters for safe conditions and staffing levels, restricts use of youth restraints and guards against retaliation for reporting abuse and misconduct.
May 8, 2008

Michigan: Insurance Ruling
National Briefing | Midwest
Local governments and state universities cannot offer health insurance to the partners of gay workers, the State Supreme Court ruled. The court ruled 5 to 2 that Michigan’s 2004 ban against same-sex marriage also blocks domestic-partner policies affecting gay employees at the University of Michigan and other public-sector employers. The decision affirms a February 2007 appeals court ruling. Up to 20 public universities, community colleges, school districts and local governments in Michigan have benefit policies covering at least 375 gay couples.
May 8, 2008

Halliburton Profit Rises
HOUSTON (AP) — Increasing its global presence is paying off for the oil field services provider Halliburton, whose first-quarter income rose nearly 6 percent on growing business in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, the company said Monday.
Business in the first three months of 2008 also was better than expected in North America, where higher costs and lower pricing squeezed results at the end of 2007.
Halliburton shares closed up 3 cents, at $47.46, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Halliburton said it earned $584 million, or 64 cents a share, in the three months that ended March 31, compared with a year-earlier profit of $552 million, or 54 cents a share. Revenue rose to $4.03 billion, from $3.42 billion a year earlier.
April 22, 2008

Illegal Immigrants Who Were Arrested at Poultry Plant in Arkansas to Be Deported
Eighteen illegal immigrants arrested at a poultry plant in Batesville will be processed for deportation, but will not serve any jail time for using fake Social Security numbers and state identification cards, federal judges ruled. Magistrate Judge Beth Deere and Judge James Moody of Federal District Court accepted guilty pleas from 17 of those arrested last week at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant. Federal prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor charges against one man, but said they planned to ask Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin deportation proceedings against him. The guilty pleas will give the 17 people criminal records, which will allow prosecutors to pursue tougher penalties if they illegally return to the United States. They had faced up to up to two years in prison and $205,000 in fines. Jane Duke, a United States attorney, said her office had no interest in seeing those arrested serve jail time, as they were “otherwise law-abiding citizens.”
National Briefing | South
April 22, 2008

Coal Company Verdict in West Virginia Is Thrown Out
April 4, 2008
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
The State Supreme Court for a second time threw out a $50 million verdict against the coal company Massey Energy. The court decided to rehear the case after the publication of photographs of its chief justice on vacation in Monte Carlo with the company’s chief executive, Don L. Blankenship. The chief justice, Elliott E. Maynard, and a second justice disqualified themselves from the rehearing and were replaced by appeals court judges, but the vote was again 3-to-2 in favor of Massey. A third justice, Brent D. Benjamin, who was elected to the court with the help of more than $3 million from Mr. Blankenship, refused to recuse himself.

Utah: Miners’ Families File Lawsuit
National Briefing | Rockies
April 3, 2008
A lawsuit by the families of six men killed in August in a mine cave-in claims the collapse occurred because the mine’s owners were harvesting coal unsafely. The suit, filed in Salt Lake City, says the Murray Energy Corporation performed risky retreat mining last summer. It seeks unspecified damages. Three men trying to reach the miners died 10 days after the collapse in another cave-in at the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Regimens: Drug Samples Found to Affect Spending
Vital Signs
Having doctors distribute free samples of medicines may do exactly what drug companies hope for — encourage patients to spend more money on drugs.
A study in the April issue of Medical Care found that patients who never received free samples spent an average of $178 for six months of prescriptions. Those receiving samples spent $166 in the six months before they obtained free medicine, $244 when they received the handouts and $212 in the six months after that.
Researchers studied 5,709 patients, tracking medical histories and drug expenditures; 14 percent of the group received free samples. The study adjusted for prior and current health conditions, race, socioeconomic level and other variables.
The authors acknowledge that the study results could be partly explained by unmeasured illness in the group given samples.
The lead author, Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said although free samples might save some patients money, there were other ways to economize. “Using more generics, prescribing for three months’ supply rather than one month’s and stopping drugs that may no longer be needed can also save money,” Dr. Alexander said.
April 1, 2008

Rhode Island: Order to Combat Illegal Immigration
National Briefing | New England
Linking the presence of undocumented workers to the state’s financial woes, Gov. Donald L. Carcieri signed an executive order that includes steps to combat illegal immigration. The order requires state agencies and companies that do business with the state to verify the legal status of employees. It also directs the state police and prison and parole officials to work harder to find and deport illegal immigrants. The governor, a Republican, said that he understood illegal immigrants faced hardships, but that he did not want them in Rhode Island. Under his order, the state police will enter an agreement with federal immigration authorities permitting them access to specialized immigration databases.
March 29, 2008

North Carolina: Ministers Say Police Destroyed Records
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

Gaza: Israeli Army Clears Itself in 21 Deaths
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

World Briefing | Asia
Taiwan: Tons of Fish Wash Up on Beaches
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

Zimbabwe: Inflation Breaks the Six-Figure Mark
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




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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
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[For some levity...Hans Groiner plays Monk]


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


'My son lived a worthwhile life'
In April 2003, 21-year old Tom Hurndall was shot in the head
in Gaza by an Israeli soldier as he tried to save the lives of three
small children. Nine months later, he died, having never
recovered consciousness. Emine Saner talks to his mother
Jocelyn about her grief, her fight to make the Israeli army
accountable for his death and the book she has written
in his memory.
Monday March 26, 2007
The Guardian,,2042968,00.html


Introducing...................the Apple iRack


"A War Budget Leaves Every Child Behind."
[A T-shirt worn by some teachers at Roosevelt High School
in L.A. as part of their campaign to rid the school of military
recruiters and JROTC--see Article in Full item number 4,]


"200 million children in the world sleep in the streets today.
Not one of them is Cuban."
(A sign in Havana)
View sign at bottom of page at:
[Thanks to Norma Harrison for sending]


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


[The Scab
"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad,
and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with
which he made a scab."
"A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul,
a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.
Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten
principles." "When a scab comes down the street,
men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and
the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out."
"No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there
is a pool of water to drown his carcass in,
or a rope long enough to hang his body with.
Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab.
For betraying his master, he had character enough
to hang himself." A scab has not.
"Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.
Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of
a commision in the british army."
The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife,
his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled
promise from his employer.
Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor
to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country;
a scab is a traitor to his God, his country,
his family and his class."
Author --- Jack London (1876-1916)...Roland Sheppard]


Sand Creek Massacre
(scroll down when you get there])

On November 29, 1864, 700 Colorado troops savagely slaughtered
over 450 Cheyenne children, disabled, elders, and women in the
southeastern Colorado Territory under its protection. This act
became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This film project
("The Sand Creek Massacre" documentary film project) is an
examination of an open wound in the souls of the Cheyenne
people as told from their perspective. This project chronicles
that horrific 19th century event and its affect on the 21st century
struggle for respectful coexistence between white and native
plains cultures in the United States of America.

Listed below are links on which you can click to get the latest news,
products, and view, free, "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" award-
winning documentary short. In order to create more native
awareness, particularly to save the roots of America's history,
please read the following:

Some people in America are trying to save the world. Bless
them. In the meantime, the roots of America are dying.
What happens to a plant when the roots die? The plant dies
according to my biology teacher in high school. American's
roots are its native people. Many of America's native people
are dying from drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, hunger,
and disease, which was introduced to them by the Caucasian
male. Tribal elders are dying. When they die, their oral
histories go with them. Our native's oral histories are the
essence of the roots of America, what took place before
our ancestors came over to America, what is taking place,
and what will be taking place. It is time we replenish
America's roots with native awareness, else America
continues its decaying, and ultimately, its death.

READY FOR PURCHASE! (pass the word about this powerful
educational tool to friends, family, schools, parents, teachers,
and other related people and organizations to contact
me (, 303-903-2103) for information
about how they can purchase the DVD and have me come
to their children's school to show the film and to interact
in a questions and answers discussion about the Sand
Creek Massacre.

Happy Holidays!

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC,+Don

(scroll down when you get there])

SHOP: Articles at">


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