Tuesday, May 13, 2008



ILWU May Day Protest--San Francisco



NO on state Prop. 98!

San Francisco Tenants Union (415) 282-5525 www.sftu.org

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.

READ ALL OF PROP. 98 at: http://yesprop98.com/read/?_adctlid=v%7Cwynx8c5jjesxsb%7Cwziq39twoqov52


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 http://www.stopthespray.org


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: natassembly.org) 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: NatAssembly@aol.com

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, jmackler@lmi.net 510-268-9429. Send contributions to: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610 Freemumia.org, 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) 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

2) Racial Inequity and Drug Arrests
May 10, 2008

3) Growing ocean dead zones leave fish gasping
By Andy Coghlan
NewScientist.com news service
May 1, 2008

4) The Oil Nonbubble
Op-Ed Columnist
May 12, 2008

5) Saying No to Everything
May 12, 2008

6) What Social Security Isn’t Meant to Do
May 12, 2008

7) Wall Street Journal: Unions Forge Secret Pacts With Major Employers
The Wall Street Journal:
By Kris Maher
Saturday, May 10, 2008

8) Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship
May 12, 2008

9) Ecuador Opposes Outpost in American War on Drugs
Manta Journal
May 12, 2008

10)To Curb Truancy, Dallas Tries Electronic Monitoring
May 12, 2008

11) Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court
May 12, 2008

12) Forget the two-state solution
Israelis and Palestinians must share the land. Equally.
By Saree Makdisi
May 11, 2008

13) The Greatest Story Never Told Study:
Smoking Pot Doesn't Cause Cancer--It May Prevent It!
Weekend Edition By FRED GARDNER
May 3 / 4, 2008

14) Here Come the Millennials
Op-Ed Columnist
May 13, 2008

15) Gates Wants Weapons Useful in Current Conflicts
May 13, 2008

16) Hundreds Are Arrested in U.S. Sweep of Meat Plant
May 13, 2008

17) 35 Years of Rockefeller Drug Laws, and Hope There Won’t Be 36
May 13, 2008

18) Cigarette Bill Treats Menthol With Leniency
May 13, 2008

19) Many Hispanics Are Hit Hard by Economic Slump
May 13, 2008


1) 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


2) Racial Inequity and Drug Arrests
May 10, 2008

The United States prison system keeps marking shameful milestones. In late February, the Pew Center on the States released a report showing that more than 1 in 100 American adults are presently behind bars — an astonishingly high rate of incarceration notably skewed along racial lines. One in nine black men aged 20 to 34 are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men.

Now, two new reports, by The Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch, have turned a critical spotlight on law enforcement’s overwhelming focus on drug use in low-income urban areas. These reports show large disparities in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, despite roughly equal rates of illegal drug use.

Black men are nearly 12 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as adult white men, according to one haunting statistic cited by Human Rights Watch. Those who are not imprisoned are often arrested for possession of small quantities of drugs and later released — in some cases with a permanent stain on their records that can make it difficult to get a job or start a young person on a path to future arrests.

Similar concerns are voiced by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which issued a separate study of the outsized number of misdemeanor marijuana arrests among people of color in New York City.

Between 1980 and 2003, drug arrests for African-Americans in the nation’s largest cities rose at three times the rate for whites, a disparity “not explained by corresponding changes in rates of drug use,” The Sentencing Project finds. In sum, a dubious anti-drug strategy spawned amid the deadly crack-related urban violence of the 1980s lives on, despite changed circumstances, the existence of cost-saving alternatives to prison for low-risk offenders or the distrust of the justice system sowed in minority communities.

Nationally, drug-related arrests continue to climb. In 2006, those arrests totaled 1.89 million, according to federal data, up from 1.85 million in 2005, and 581,000 in 1980. More than four-fifths of the arrests were for possession of banned drugs, rather than for their sale or manufacture. Underscoring law enforcement’s misguided priorities, fully 4 in 10 of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession. Those who favor continuing these policies have not met their burden of proving their efficacy in fighting crime. Nor have they have persuasively justified the yawning racial disparities.

All is not gloomy. Many states have begun expanding their use of drug treatment as an alternative to prison. New York’s historic crime drop has continued even as it has begun to reduce the number of nonviolent drug offenders in prison, attesting to the oft-murky relationship between incarceration and crime control. In December, the United States Sentencing Commission amended the federal sentencing guidelines to begin to lower the disparities between the sentences imposed for crack cocaine, which is more often used by blacks, and those imposed for the powder form of the drug.

The looming challenge, says Jeremy Travis, the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is to have arrest and incarceration policies that are both effective for fighting crime and promoting racial justice and respect for the law. As the new findings attest, the nation has a long road to travel to attain that goal.


3) Growing ocean dead zones leave fish gasping
By Andy Coghlan
NewScientist.com news service
May 1, 2008

"Dead zones" containing too little oxygen for fish to breathe are growing as global temperatures increase.

Warmer water dissolves less oxygen, so as temperatures rise, oxygen vanishes from oceans. Marine biologists are warning that if dead zones continue expanding, oceanic "deserts" could massively deplete marine life and fish stocks.

Previous studies have shown that surface layers of the ocean can be depleted of oxygen by pollution draining out from rivers, as in the Gulf of Mexico. However the new study finds depletion at intermediate ocean depths, between 300 and 700 metres. There has also been evidence of oxygen depletion closer to the sea bed in some regions, such as the Arabian Sea, but no one has looked before in detail at intermediate depths.

"From our observations we can only tell what happened in the past 50 years, but we need to find out what will happen in the future," says Lothar Stramma of the University of Kiel, Germany.
Oxygen shortfall

Stramma's team used data from historical records of oceanic oxygen concentrations, collected mainly from research vessels. They combined it with recent data from buoys newly equipped to measure oxygen concentrations, as well as temperature and salinity. "We added our own data from recent cruises and floats where available to continue the older data set to the present," says Stramma.

The combined data set shows that, over the past 50 years, large volumes of ocean previously rich in oxygen have become "oxygen minimum zones" (OMZs) containing less than 120 micromoles of oxygen per kilogram of water. These are the concentrations at which fish, squid, crustaceans and other marine creatures begin to suffocate and die.

On average, the team calculate that oxygen dropped by between 0.90 and 0.34 micromoles per kilogram of ocean per year.

Worst affected of six areas sampled was a tropical region of the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Africa. Between 1960 and 2006, the layer with less than 90 micromoles of oxygen per kilogram of ocean grew dramatically – its vertical thickness increased by 85%, from 370 to 690 metres. The other region of particular concern was in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Andy Gooday of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre in Southampton says that oxygen-deprived zones caused through pollution from human activity - such as those in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of Louisiana – are serious, but they're dwarfed in size by the OMZs in the current study. "They're far larger, and so could have a bigger impact if they expanded," he says.

But the ultimate impact and cause of the growing deserts is difficult to gauge, say the researchers.
Breathless waves

Oxygen is delivered to intermediate levels by surface waters which carry more oxygen, and sink through being colder and denser. Since warm water carries less oxygen and sinks less through being lighter, climate change, which has been blamed for increases in sea surface temperatures, could possibly account for the growing OMZs, says Greg Johnson, a co-author at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Gooday stresses that OMZs are a natural phenomenon, and have fluctuated in volume throughout history. They are influenced by natural climatic phenomena such as the cyclical El Niño weather patterns that whip up ocean currents every decade or so. Stramma's team acknowledge this, and point out that oxygen-depleted oceans driven by high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide were to blame for huge Permian extinctions of marine creatures 250 million years ago.

The big questions are whether global warming is making the deserts larger today, and how this affects marine life.

Gooday, who has studied how low-oxygen conditions affect marine life at the sea bed, says that mobile creatures can cope best, because they can move elsewhere.

Oxygen-poor water tends to become rich in the organic matter of dead organisms, as there's less oxygen available to aid decay. This provides food for fish, although they take risks accessing it because of the lack of oxygen to breathe.

"They can swim in and feed and swim out again, figuratively 'holding their breath' till they get out," says Gooday. This explains why marine creatures tend to live at the upper and lower limits of the OMZs, where they can "dip in and dip out", he says.


4) The Oil Nonbubble
Op-Ed Columnist
May 12, 2008

“The Oil Bubble: Set to Burst?” That was the headline of an October 2004 article in National Review, which argued that oil prices, then $50 a barrel, would soon collapse.

Ten months later, oil was selling for $70 a barrel. “It’s a huge bubble,” declared Steve Forbes, the publisher, who warned that the coming crash in oil prices would make the popping of the technology bubble “look like a picnic.”

All through oil’s five-year price surge, which has taken it from $25 a barrel to last week’s close above $125, there have been many voices declaring that it’s all a bubble, unsupported by the fundamentals of supply and demand.

So here are two questions: Are speculators mainly, or even largely, responsible for high oil prices? And if they aren’t, why have so many commentators insisted, year after year, that there’s an oil bubble?

Now, speculators do sometimes push commodity prices far above the level justified by fundamentals. But when that happens, there are telltale signs that just aren’t there in today’s oil market.

Imagine what would happen if the oil market were humming along, with supply and demand balanced at a price of $25 a barrel, and a bunch of speculators came in and drove the price up to $100.

Even if this were purely a financial play on the part of the speculators, it would have major consequences in the material world. Faced with higher prices, drivers would cut back on their driving; homeowners would turn down their thermostats; owners of marginal oil wells would put them back into production.

As a result, the initial balance between supply and demand would be broken, replaced with a situation in which supply exceeded demand. This excess supply would, in turn, drive prices back down again — unless someone were willing to buy up the excess and take it off the market.

The only way speculation can have a persistent effect on oil prices, then, is if it leads to physical hoarding — an increase in private inventories of black gunk. This actually happened in the late 1970s, when the effects of disrupted Iranian supply were amplified by widespread panic stockpiling.

But it hasn’t happened this time: all through the period of the alleged bubble, inventories have remained at more or less normal levels. This tells us that the rise in oil prices isn’t the result of runaway speculation; it’s the result of fundamental factors, mainly the growing difficulty of finding oil and the rapid growth of emerging economies like China. The rise in oil prices these past few years had to happen to keep demand growth from exceeding supply growth.

Saying that high-priced oil isn’t a bubble doesn’t mean that oil prices will never decline. I wouldn’t be shocked if a pullback in demand, driven by delayed effects of high prices, sends the price of crude back below $100 for a while. But it does mean that speculators aren’t at the heart of the story.

Why, then, do we keep hearing assertions that they are?

Part of the answer may be the undoubted fact that many people are now investing in oil futures — which feeds suspicion that speculators are running the show, even though there’s no good evidence that prices have gotten out of line.

But there’s also a political component.

Traditionally, denunciations of speculators come from the left of the political spectrum. In the case of oil prices, however, the most vociferous proponents of the view that it’s all the speculators’ fault have been conservatives — people whom you wouldn’t normally expect to see warning about the nefarious activities of investment banks and hedge funds.

The explanation of this seeming paradox is that wishful thinking has trumped pro-market ideology.

After all, a realistic view of what’s happened over the past few years suggests that we’re heading into an era of increasingly scarce, costly oil.

The consequences of that scarcity probably won’t be apocalyptic: France consumes only half as much oil per capita as America, yet the last time I looked, Paris wasn’t a howling wasteland. But the odds are that we’re looking at a future in which energy conservation becomes increasingly important, in which many people may even — gasp — take public transit to work.

I don’t find that vision particularly abhorrent, but a lot of people, especially on the right, do. And so they want to believe that if only Goldman Sachs would stop having such a negative attitude, we’d quickly return to the good old days of abundant oil.

Again, I wouldn’t be shocked if oil prices dip in the near future — although I also take seriously Goldman’s recent warning that the price could go to $200. But let’s drop all the talk about an oil bubble.


5) Saying No to Everything
May 12, 2008

Even before the House passed a new plan last week to prevent foreclosures, President Bush threatened to veto the bill, calling it “overly burdensome.” The bill is not burdensome enough.

To help an estimated 500,000 borrowers switch to federally insured loans, it relies on the voluntary participation of lenders, an approach that has doomed other foreclosure-prevention efforts.

Earlier this year, Mr. Bush derided a modest plan to provide $4 billion to states and localities to buy foreclosed properties, saying that buying up empty homes helps only “the lenders or the speculators.” Actually, it protects entire neighborhoods and local economies from the effects of foreclosures by preventing a greater buildup of unsold homes and a further drop in prices.

Most egregious, Mr. Bush has resisted efforts to allow bankrupt homeowners to have their mortgages modified under court protection, parroting the mortgage industry’s overwrought objections to what is arguably the best way to avoid preventable foreclosures. Letting homeowners have the loans modified in court would keep them in their homes, helping to stabilize the housing market while inflicting the considerable pain of bankruptcy on both lender and borrower.

When Mr. Bush hasn’t been busy saying no to worthy efforts, he has been endorsing Orwellian-named programs that have failed to address the problem effectively. Hope Now, the mortgage industry alliance that pledged a big effort five months ago to modify subprime loans, has barely made a dent. Project Lifeline, announced last February, has yet to release any results. The Times reported last month that another program much touted by Mr. Bush, FHA Secure, has helped fewer than 2,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

Meanwhile, defaults, the first link in the foreclosure chain, are running at an annual pace of 2.2 million so far this year.

But the Bush administration’s free-market biases have apparently convinced officials that bold action would impede a necessary economic correction. That is misguided. The housing bust is at the root of the economy’s problems, and foreclosures are its most serious manifestation. House prices have collapsed to a point where they are creating a negative spiral: price drops provoke foreclosures, which in turn provoke even lower prices, and so on. The danger now is not too much government intervention but too little.

The House is to be commended for defying Mr. Bush’s veto threat, especially the 39 Republicans who joined all the House Democrats. When the Senate considers a similar measure, Republicans there are likely to face pressure, too. At least the Senate bill will probably not be considered until after Memorial Day. While home for the holiday, senators are sure to hear from constituents about the need for mortgage relief. That might inspire lawmakers to do what Mr. Bush is unwilling to do.


6) What Social Security Isn’t Meant to Do
May 12, 2008

To hear some in Congress tell it, the federal government urgently needs to expand its electronic employment verification system, E-Verify, to all corners of the country and force every business to use it. But a hearing in the House last week raised serious questions about the costs and collateral damage of that expansion, the latest scheme by hard-liners to slam the door shut on unauthorized immigrant workers.

E-Verify is a voluntary program in which employers can check workers’ names against databases kept by the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. About 61,000 employers have signed up. A bill by Heath Shuler, a North Carolina Democrat, and Tom Tancredo, the Republican anti-immigration extremist from Colorado, would require each of the 7.4 million employers in the United States to participate in E-Verify — and to fire anyone, citizen or otherwise, who cannot prove that he or she has the right to work.

Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic representative from Connecticut and president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, warned at the hearing that forcing Social Security to take on the enormous burden of immigration enforcement would be a harmful diversion from its core mission and could strain the bureaucracy to the breaking point.

That would have frightening implications for millions of people who are supposed to be served by the Social Security Administration, particularly the elderly and those who are disabled. With Social Security struggling to provide existing services and the sunset of the baby boom approaching, Ms. Kennelly said, now is no time to pile on more responsibilities. The backlog of pending disability cases at the initial level is more than 500,000, and more than 750,000 people who have appealed rejected claims are awaiting decisions. As of February, the average wait on an appeal was more than 500 days.

Critics have noted other problems with the bill: the staggering costs to the federal budget — about $40 billion over 10 years, both from increased spending and falling tax revenue as workers are driven off the books — as well as the expense to businesses and the inconvenience and pain for workers caught by its flaws. Because the Social Security database is rotten with errors, the crackdown could force millions of Americans to battle a computerized bureaucracy that tells them, unjustly, that they cannot work. And the Government Accountability Office has cited evidence of employers abusing E-Verify, forcing workers who are tentatively flagged as unauthorized to take pay cuts or work longer hours until they can clear their names.

Supporters of Mr. Shuler’s and Mr. Tancredo’s hard-edged immigrant-deportation strategy have been pushing to get their bill to the floor. With any luck, testimony from experts like Ms. Kennelly will raise enough alarms to slow things down. If and when the government imposes a national employment verification scheme, it must be done with a serious commitment to fairness and accuracy, with ample protections for workers who fall into bureaucratic cracks, and for all who depend on the government to provide other critical services.

Such a system cannot be imposed without other immigration reforms, including a path to legalization for undocumented workers who would otherwise be pushed permanently into the shadows by a plan that gives them no way to work or to get right with the law.


7) Wall Street Journal: Unions Forge Secret Pacts With Major Employers
The Wall Street Journal:
By Kris Maher
Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two of the nation's largest labor unions have struck confidential
agreements with large employers that give the companies the right to
designate which of their locations, and how many workers, the unions can
seek to organize.Two of the nation's largest labor unions have struck
confidential agreements with large employers that give the companies the
right to designate which of their locations, and how many workers, the
unions can seek to organize.

The agreements are raising questions about union transparency and
workers' rights. A summary document put together by the unions says it
is critical to the success of the partnership "that we honor the
confidentiality and not publicly disclose the existence of these
agreements." That includes not disclosing them to union members.

The agreements involve workers who provide food, laundry and
housekeeping services on an outsourced basis. The employers are Sodexho
Inc. and the Compass Group USA unit of London-based Compass Group PLC.
The unions are the 1.7 million-member Service Employees International
Union, or SEIU, and Unite Here. The unions say they negotiated a similar
agreement with Aramark Corp. but that Aramark broke the deal last year,
and they're trying to reach a new one. An Aramark spokesman declined to
comment on that.

The unions defend the agreements and their secrecy, saying they've
helped workers join unions in growing industries at a time of declining
union membership in many sectors. Last year, 7.5% of private-sector
workers belonged to unions, compared with 17% 25 years ago. The
agreements have "resulted in tens of thousands of workers getting
unions" and been a major advance for the labor movement, said the
president of Unite Here, Bruce Raynor.

He defended keeping them confidential, saying the companies involved
insisted on that for competitive reasons.

The agreements go a step beyond what are called neutrality agreements.
Those agreements give unions the ability to organize workers free of
employer opposition. Unions often seek these in conjunction with an
agreement to organize workers via card-signing -- a speedier alternative
to secret-ballot elections, which can drag on and trigger
counter-campaigns by employers. Companies often agree to neutrality
after unions bring pressure on the employers from investors, local
politicians and community leaders.

Labor experts said agreements such as those the SEIU and Unite Here
reached open a window on a big debate within organized labor: what kind
of tradeoffs to make when forging neutrality deals, and whether to let
union members know of the tradeoffs.

The SEIU's president, Andy Stern, said the unions sought the agreements
after realizing that traditional organizing campaigns at individual
sites were proving ineffective. "The old ways aren't working, and we're
trying to find different relationships with employers that guarantee
workers a voice," he said. He dismissed the idea that the new agreements
are undemocratic. "These workers have no unions; that's where we start
from," he said.

In 2005, the SEIU and Unite Here created a partnership to represent
workers that provide food and housekeeping services. Then they
approached the companies individually. Since 2005, the unions have
organized about 15,000 workers at Aramark, Compass and Sodexho, which
collectively employ more than 300,000 people in North America, according
to an SEIU spokeswoman.

A key question in the agreements is determining at which sites a union
can organize. Unite Here's Mr. Raynor said specific sites where unions
can organize are selected jointly by the companies and the unions.

The agreements reached with Sodexho and Compass in 2005 give the
companies "the right to designate the sites" where unions may try to
organize workers, according to a confidential summary of the agreements
reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The companies wouldn't comment on
how locations were selected for organizing.

The agreements, which expire at then end of 2008, stipulate the number
of employees that the unions can try to organize: 11,000 Sodexho workers
and 20,000 Compass workers.

The Right to Strike

The unions gave up the right to strike and to post derogatory language
about the companies on bulletin boards. With Compass, the unions agreed
to these restrictions "anywhere in the world." In exchange, the
companies agree not to oppose union organizing at the designated locations.

But limits are also set. "Local unions are not free to engage in
organizing activities at any Compass or Sodexho locations unless the
sites have been designated," says the confidential summary.

Mr. Stern said that if workers wanted to join a union at a location the
companies had ruled out, having these agreements would enable a union to
negotiate on the matter. "If workers want a union we can discuss that,"
he said. "Trust me, a lot more workers are coming in than being excluded
by the agreement."

The companies said they reached the agreements because they support
their employees' right to unionize. A spokeswoman for Compass, Cheryl
Queen, said the agreement "protects the interest of both our associates
and our clients, while allowing us to develop positive relationships
with those trade unions." A Sodexho spokeswoman, Jaya Bohlmann, said,
"We pride ourselves on having a very open dialogue with the union and
their representatives."

The SEIU has added more members in recent years than any other labor
union. But resentment against Mr. Stern has been building among some in
the union, who see him as too close to management and too insistent on
centralizing power.

Some argue that the SEIU is adding new members at the expense of current
ones. "We really believe that Stern and the international are putting
growth in numbers ahead of any other consideration of what a union means
in the lives of working people," said Zev Kvitky, president of a small
SEIU local that represents food-service and custodial workers at
Stanford University. Mr. Stern, rejecting the criticism, said the union
actually is becoming less centralized.

'Not Widespread'

Labor experts said it was highly unusual for unions to give employers
the ability to choose which employees a union can try to organize.
"That's not widespread," said Robert Bruno, associate professor of labor
relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "When you agree to
these kinds of conditions the question is what is lost and what is gained?"

The agreements enable the unions to organize workers through a simple
card-signing process in which the companies agree to remain neutral,
rather than a secret-ballot election. The companies agree to provide the
unions with lists of employees and access to workers. The unions give up
the ability to strike and agree that they will present issues before a
labor-management committee before engaging in leafleting or rallies.


8) Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship
May 12, 2008

The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.

The measure would allow far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court, in which voters had to prove their identity with a government-issued card.

Sponsors of the amendment — which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum — say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.

Voting experts say the Missouri amendment represents the next logical step for those who have supported stronger voter ID requirements and the next battleground in how elections are conducted. Similar measures requiring proof of citizenship are being considered in at least 19 state legislatures. Bills in Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina have strong support. But only in Missouri does the requirement have a chance of taking effect before the presidential election.

In Arizona, the only state that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote, more than 38,000 voter registration applications have been thrown out since the state adopted its measure in 2004. That number was included in election data obtained through a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates and provided to The New York Times. More than 70 percent of those registrations came from people who stated under oath that they were born in the United States, the data showed.

Already, 25 states, including Missouri, require some form of identification at the polls. Seven of those states require or can request photo ID. More states may soon decide to require photo ID now that the Supreme Court has upheld the practice. Democrats have already criticized these requirements as implicitly intended to keep lower-income voters from the polls, and are likely to fight even more fiercely now that the requirements are expanding to include immigration status.

“Three forces are converging on the issue: security, immigration and election verification,” said Dr. Robert A. Pastor, co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University in Washington. This convergence, he said, partly explains why such measures are likely to become more popular and why they will make election administration, which is already a highly partisan issue, even more heated and litigious.

The Missouri secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, a Democrat who opposes the measure, estimated that it could disenfranchise up to 240,000 registered voters who would be unable to prove their citizenship.

In most of the states that require identification, voters can use utility bills, paychecks, driver’s licenses or student or military ID cards to prove their identity. In the Democratic primary election last week in Indiana, several nuns were denied ballots because they lacked the required photo IDs.

Measures requiring proof of citizenship raise the bar higher because they offer fewer options for documentation. In most cases, aspiring voters would have to produce an original birth certificate, naturalization papers or a passport. Many residents of Arizona and Missouri already have citizenship information associated with their driver’s licenses, and within a few years all states will be required by the federal government to restrict licenses to legal residents.

Critics say that when this level of documentation is applied to voting, it becomes more difficult for the poor, disabled, elderly and minorities to participate in the political process.

“Everyone has been focusing on voter ID laws generally, but the most pernicious measures and the ones that really promise to prevent the most eligible voters from voting is what we see in Arizona and now in Missouri,” said Jon Greenbaum, a former voting rights official at the Department of Justice and now the director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a liberal advocacy group.

Aside from its immediacy, the action by Missouri is important because it has been a crucial swing state in recent presidential elections, with outcomes often decided by a razor-thin margin.

Supporters of the measures cite growing concerns that illegal immigrants will try to vote. They say proof of citizenship measures are an important way to improve the accuracy of registration rolls and the overall voter confidence in the process.

State Representative Stanley Cox, a Republican from Sedalia and the sponsor of the amendment, said that the Missouri Constitution already required voters to be citizens and that his amendment was simply meant to better enforce that requirement.

“The requirements we have right now are totally inadequate,” Mr. Cox said. “You can present a utility bill, and that doesn’t prove anything. I could sit here with my nice photocopier and create a thousand utility bills with different names on them.”

From October 2002 to September 2005, the Justice Department indicted 40 voters for registration fraud or illegal voting, 21 of whom were noncitizens, according to department records.

In 2006, the Missouri legislature passed a photo identification bill that the State Supreme Court later ruled unconstitutional because it placed too much of a burden on voters. It was that ruling that has spurred state lawmakers to try to change the constitution.

The proposed amendment does not require the signature of the governor but would need to be approved by the voters in the state’s August primary in the governor’s race to take effect before the presidential election.

If passed this week, the amendment clears the way for a pending bill that would require some kind of identification in order to prove citizenship and to register to vote. But many questions about the bill — like whether current registered voters will have to obtain a new form of identification — have not been resolved.

Lillie Lewis, a voter who lives in St. Louis and spoke at a news conference last week organized to oppose the amendment, said she already had a difficult time trying to get a photo ID from the state, which asked her for a birth certificate. Ms. Lewis, who was born in Mississippi and said she was 78 years old, said officials of that state sent her a letter stating that they had no record of her birth.

“That’s downright wrong,” Ms. Lewis said. “I have voted in almost all of the presidential races going back I can’t remember how long, but if they tell me I need a passport or birth certificate that’ll be the end of that.”

A 2006 federal rule intended to keep illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid was widely criticized by state officials for shutting out tens of thousands of United States citizens who were unable to find birth certificates or other documents proving their citizenship.

Supporters of citizenship requirements, however, say the threat of voting by illegal immigrants is real. Thor Hearne, a lawyer for the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative advocacy group, cited a California congressional race in 1996 in which a Republican, Bob Dornan, was narrowly defeated. Mr. Dornan contested the results, claiming that illegal immigrants had voted.

After a 14-month investigation by state, county and federal officials, a panel concluded that up to 624 noncitizens may have registered to vote. The report came to no firm determination of whether any of those people had actually voted.

Mr. Hearne said the requirement would not pose a significant hardship on voters.

“There were a lot of the same alarmist charges regarding Indiana voter ID law and how it would disenfranchise so many people,” Mr. Hearne said, “and those allegations were not accepted by the Supreme Court.” He added that if states actively provided a free form of identification proving citizenship, the number of people who would be disenfranchised would be very low.

“To those who have spent great energy opposing some of the voter registration or voter identification requirements, I would say their energy would be much better spent working toward trying to provide identifications to those who need them or assisting these people with getting registered,” Mr. Hearne said.

But organizations working in Arizona say they are doing just that and running into problems.

“The requirement is having a devastating effect on our voter registration work in Latino communities because so many citizens simply don’t have a passport or original birth certificate,” said Michael Slater, deputy director of Project Vote, a liberal advocacy group that is working with Acorn, a national organizing group, to sign up new voters in Arizona.

But Arizona officials say the measure is broadly popular in the state

“The voters of Arizona feel strongly about proof of citizenship when registering to vote as a basic eligibility requirement,” said the secretary of state, Jan Brewer, a Republican, testifying before Congress in March.


9) Ecuador Opposes Outpost in American War on Drugs
Manta Journal
May 12, 2008

MANTA, Ecuador — The scene at the Manta Ray Cafe, a mess hall here at the most prominent American military outpost in South America, suggests all is normal.

A television tuned to Fox Sports beams in a golf tournament. Ecuadorean contractors serve sloppy Joes near refrigerators bulging with Dr Pepper and Gatorade. Air Force personnel in jumpsuits preparing to board an Awacs surveillance plane leaf through dog-eared paperbacks.

But by next year, if President Rafael Correa gets his way, this base will be gone, and, with it, one of the most festering sources of controversy in Washington’s long war on drugs.

“It’s not panic mode yet,” said Steven Tate, 42, a Clearwater, Fla., contractor who moved here two years ago after retiring from the Air Force to help run the base fire station. “I’m hoping a miracle will happen that will allow us to stay.”

To the Bush administration, the American air station here is a critical component in the war on drugs in the Andes. The 180 service members based here conduct about 100 flights a month over the Pacific looking for drug boats from Colombia, the source of about 90 percent of the cocaine used in the United States.

Last year, those flights led to about 200 cocaine seizures, the Air Force said.

But to Ecuadoreans, Manta is a flash point in a regional debate over the limits of American power in Latin America.

In 1999, American officials negotiated a 10-year agreement with President Jamil Mahuad to set up the elaborate airborne radar detection project at Manta, a port of 250,000. The deal did not require the United States to pay rent to Ecuador. Nor did it allow Americans stationed here to be judged in Ecuadorean courts for crimes committed in Ecuador. Nor was it submitted to the Ecuadorean Congress for approval.

Mr. Mahuad was toppled in a military coup a few weeks later.

To Mr. Correa, 45, who opposes renewing the agreement allowing the American base at Manta, the base compromises Ecuador’s sovereignty. Many Ecuadoreans fear it could end up dragging their nation further into Colombia’s long civil war, a fear that was heightened in March, when Colombian forces raided a rebel camp in Ecuadorean territory. Particularly after the Bush administration explicitly sided with Colombia in the diplomatic crisis that erupted after the raid, critics of the United States here see little reason to keep the base.

But to Mr. Correa, the debate is personal as well as political. When he was a child in Guayaquil, his father was imprisoned in the United States for several years on smuggling charges.

He has no intent of ensnaring Ecuadoreans further in the American war on drugs. He has proposed pardoning couriers with long prison sentences for smuggling small amounts of cocaine. He is also one of the most vocal proponents of creating a Latin American defense council that excludes the United States.

In a shake-up of the armed forces in April, Mr. Correa picked Javier Ponce, a poet who advocates less military cooperation with United States, as defense minister. “Should Ecuador have a base in Miami? Or New Jersey?” Mr. Ponce, 59, said. “The decision of the government is not to renew this accord.”

For now, operations here continue as they have for years. When asked what his mission consists of, Lt. Col. Robert Leonard, the ranking American officer in Ecuador, points to the blue waters of the Pacific.

The Awacs sitting on the tarmac at Manta are useless over Colombian soil; the jungle canopy effectively renders them blind for spotting small aircraft, Colonel Leonard explained.

But over the ocean, sometimes the Awacs’ radar happens upon speedboats, some of which transport Colombian cocaine to points north. If this seems like using a $300 million plane to track down far more primitive and cheaper vessels, the personnel here are the first to acknowledge that it is.

“It is a big game of cat and mouse,” the colonel said. “We look for dots on a radar screen. Those dots are smuggling drugs.”

None of the planes here are armed; their mission is detection.

The military says it spends $15 million a year for its operations here, although that figure excludes major expenses like fuel.

Finding another location would have been easier a decade ago, when American standing in the region was higher and allies were easier to find. For now, American officials are resigned to transferring Manta’s operations when the agreement expires in November 2009, most likely to bases in Curaçao and El Salvador.

Together, officials here said, those three bases, known in military jargon as F.O.L.’s, or forward operating locations, helped seize $1.1 billion worth of drugs in 2007, with the focus of the seizures on smuggling out of Colombia. The officials had no estimate of how much cocaine eluded them.

“We have had a lot of success in the fight against drugs with the F.O.L.,” Linda Jewell, the American ambassador to Ecuador, said recently. “We will talk to the government to find ways in which we can continue working together.”

But some antinarcotics experts in Ecuador and the United States question whether it is worth the cost of maintaining the base, both economically and politically.

And many Colombian traffickers have shifted tactics in ways that render Manta less effective. Smugglers, for instance, have begun to rely less on speedboats and more on semi-submersibles, the low-tech subs built for $1 million each in Colombia’s jungle that easily elude high-tech Awacs.

Russell Crandall, a former White House adviser and an expert on Andean antinarcotics efforts, said interdiction efforts, as well as Colombia’s resilient drug trade, would survive without Manta. “Manta is just icing on the cake,” he said. “We had the drug war going full speed before Manta, and we’ll have it full speed after Manta.”

Meanwhile, the four-member crews take off each day here for 12-hour sorties. “We have hours of sheer boredom followed by moments of sheer terror,” said Lt. Charles Moore, the leader of one Awacs crew. “It is like finding needles in a haystack.”


10)To Curb Truancy, Dallas Tries Electronic Monitoring
May 12, 2008

DALLAS — Jaime Pacheco rolled out of bed at dawn last week to the blaring chorus of two alarms. Then Jaime, a 15-year-old high school freshman, smoothed his striped comforter, dumped two scoops of kibble for the dogs out back and strapped a G.P.S. monitor to his belt.

By 7:15, Jaime was in the passenger seat of his grandmother’s sport-utility vehicle, holding the little black monitor out the window for the satellite to register. A few miles down the road, at Bryan Adams High School in East Dallas, he got out of the car, said goodbye to his grandmother and paused to press a button on the unit three times. A green light flashed, and then Jaime headed for the cafeteria with plenty of time before the morning bell.

It was not always like this. Jaime used to snooze until 2 p.m. before strolling into school. He fell so far behind that he is failing most of his classes and school officials sent him to truancy court.

Instead of juvenile detention, Jaime was selected by a judge to be enrolled in a pilot program at Bryan Adams in which chronically truant students are monitored electronically. Since Jaime started carrying the Global Positioning System unit April 1, he has had perfect attendance.

“I’m just glad they didn’t take him to jail,” said Jaime’s grandmother Diana Mendez, who raised him. “He’s a good kid. He was just on a crooked path.”

Educators are struggling to meet stricter state and federal mandates, including those of the No Child Left Behind Act, on attendance and graduation rates. The Dallas school system, which, like other large districts, has found it difficult to manage the large numbers of truant students, is among the first in the nation to experiment with the electronic monitoring.

“Ten years ago the issue of truancy just slid by,” said Jay Smink, executive director of the National Dropout Prevention Center. “Now the regulations are forcing them to adhere to the policies.”

Nearly one-third of American students drop out of school, and Dallas has the seventh-worst graduation rate among large school districts, according to a study released in April by America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state.

At Bryan Adams, 9 of the more than 300 students sent to truancy court this year are enrolled in the six-week pilot program. The effort is financed by a $26,000 grant from Bruce Leadbetter, an equity investor who supports the program’s goals. The bulk of the money pays the salary of a full-time case manager, who monitors the students and works with parents and teachers.

“I can’t do anything with them if they don’t come to school,” said Cynthia Goodsell, the principal at Bryan Adams.

Kyle Ross, who runs the in-school suspension program at Bryan Adams, was skeptical of the electronic monitoring until he saw that it worked. “We’re always yearning for something tangible to use as tools to teach self-efficacy,” Mr. Ross said. “Everyone’s so overwhelmed. We’ll try anything.”

Dallas’s experiments in tracking truancy started three years ago. Last year, case managers used a G.P.S. system to locate a truant student on the verge of overdosing on drugs, and they discovered that a student had skipped school because he was contemplating suicide.

Ricardo Pacheco, 18, who is no relation to Jaime, said electronic monitoring had helped him get on track last year, despite advice from his friends to “just yank it off.”

“It was easier to come to school each day, stay out of the streets and be home every night,” said Mr. Pacheco, a father of two young children and a former gang leader. Now he is about to become the first male from his father’s side of the family to graduate.

“They all dropped out or are in jail,” Mr. Pacheco said.

Paul Pottinger, the chief executive of the company marketing the truancy monitoring system being tested in Dallas, said, “With location verification, they can’t sneak through it, they can’t game it like they can game their parents and game their teachers and game their friends.”

Across the state, in Midland, county justice officials started using electronic ankle monitors last summer to track about 14 of the most chronically truant students. The officials hope to double the number of students monitored next year.

Truancy experts say the results in Texas are promising.

“It’s far better than locking a kid up,” and is cheaper, said Joanna Heilbrunn, a senior researcher for the National Center for School Engagement.

But the future of the Dallas program is uncertain. Mr. Pottinger’s company, the Center for Criminal Justice Solutions, is seeking $365,000 from the county to expand the program beyond Bryan Adams. But the effort has met with political opposition after a state senator complained that ankle cuffs used in an earlier version were reminiscent of slave chains.

Dave Leis, a spokesman for NovaTracker, which makes the system used in Dallas, said electronic monitoring did not have to be punitive. “You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.”

Jaime said he did not mind carrying the tracker.

“I’m actually happy about it, that I get another chance to do my work and catch up,” he said. “I never saw myself getting held back a grade.”


11) Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court
May 12, 2008

After listening carefully to the two policemen, the judge had a problem: He did not believe them.

The officers, who had stopped a man in the Bronx and found a .22-caliber pistol in his fanny pack, testified that they had several reasons to search him: He was loitering, sweating nervously and had a bulge under his jacket.

But the judge, John E. Sprizzo of United States District Court in Manhattan, concluded that the police had simply reached into the pack without cause, found the gun, then “tailored” testimony to justify the illegal search. “You can’t have open season on searches,” said Judge Sprizzo, who refused to allow the gun as evidence, prompting prosecutors to drop the case last May.

Yet for all his disapproval of what the police had done, the judge said he hated to make negative rulings about officers’ credibility. “I don’t like to jeopardize their career and all the rest of it,” he said.

He need not have worried. The Police Department never learned of his criticism, and the officers — like many others whose word has been called into question — faced no disciplinary action or inquiry.

Over the last six years, the police and prosecutors have cooperated in a broad effort that allows convicted felons found with a firearm to be tried in federal court, where sentences are much harsher than in state court. Officials say the initiative has taken hundreds of armed criminals off the street, mostly in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and turned some into informers who have helped solve more serious crimes.

But a closer look at those prosecutions reveals something that has not been trumpeted: more than 20 cases in which judges found police officers’ testimony to be unreliable, inconsistent, twisting the truth, or just plain false. The judges’ language was often withering: “patently incredible,” “riddled with exaggerations,” “unworthy of belief.”

The outrage usually stopped there. With few exceptions, judges did not ask prosecutors to determine whether the officers had broken the law, and prosecutors did not notify police authorities about the judges’ findings. The Police Department said it did not monitor the rulings and was aware of only one of them; after it learned about the cases recently from a reporter, a spokesman said the department would decide whether further review was needed.

Though the number of cases is small, the lack of consequences for officers may seem surprising, given that a city commission on police corruption in the 1990s pinpointed tainted testimony as a problem so pervasive that the police even had a word for it: “testilying.”

And these cases may fuel another longtime concern that flared up again in recent days: suspicions that the police routinely subject people to unjustified searches, frisks or stops. Last week, the Police Department reported a spike in street stops, which it said were “an essential law enforcement tool”: 145,098 from January through March, more than during any quarter in six years.

The judges’ rulings emerge from what are called suppression hearings, in which defendants, before trial, can argue that evidence was seized illegally. The Fourth Amendment sets limits on the conditions that permit a search; if they are not met, judges must exclude the evidence, even if that means allowing a guilty person to go free.

Prosecutors and police officials say many of the suppressions stem from difficult, split-second judgments that officers must make in potentially dangerous situations about whether to search someone for a weapon — decisions that are not always easy to reconstruct in a courtroom.

But one former federal judge, John S. Martin Jr., said the rulings are meant to deter serious abuses by the police. “The reason you suppress,” he said, “is to stop cops from going up to people and searching them when they don’t have reason.”

Federal judges rarely suppress evidence, Judge Martin said, and the unusual number of suppressions in New York City gun cases raises questions about whether such tactics may be common. “We don’t have the statistics for all the people who are hassled, no gun is found, and they never get into the system,” he said.

Whatever one makes of the legal debate, these cases offer a revealing glimpse into some police practices — in the street and on the witness stand — that have gone largely unexamined outside the courtroom.

‘A Dismal Record’

In one case, the officer explained that he had a special technique for detecting who was hiding a gun. He had learned it from a newspaper article that described certain clues to watch for: a hand brushing a pocket, a lopsided gait, a jacket or sweater that seems mismatched or out of season.

That was one reason, he told a judge, that he was certain the man he saw outside a Brooklyn housing project last September was concealing a gun. The man, Anthony McCrae, had moved his hand along the front of his waistband, as if moving a weapon, the officer said. Sure enough, a search turned up a gun.

The judge, John Gleeson of Brooklyn federal court, asked the officer, Kaz Daughtry, how successful his method had been in other cases.

Officer Daughtry replied that over a three-day period, he and his partner had stopped 30 to 50 people. One had a gun.

Calling that a “dismal record,” the judge said the officer’s technique was “little more than guesswork.”

Moreover, Judge Gleeson said he did not believe that Officer Daughtry could even have seen the gesture he found so suspicious: Mr. McCrae’s hand was in front of him and the officer was about 30 feet behind.

The judge would not allow the gun as evidence, and on April 24, federal prosecutors dropped the charges. A law enforcement official said the Brooklyn district attorney’s office learned of the ruling and was reviewing Officer Daughtry’s other cases to see if there were problems.

The Police Department declined to make Officer Daughtry, or any other officers, available for comment.

The decisions to suppress, which The New York Times found by interviewing lawyers and examining more than 1,000 court dockets since 2002, came from 18 federal judges in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Several rulings involved police raids on homes without warrants — and judges’ doubts that the owners had consented to a search, as the police claimed and the law requires.

In one case, a group of officers investigating a fatal shooting in 2002 entered an apartment in the Bronx and arrested a man named Justice Taylor after finding a shotgun in a bedroom. Sgt. Brian Branigan, who led the search, testified in federal court in Manhattan that Mr. Taylor had given the officers permission to enter.

But Mr. Taylor denied that. Two other officers did not mention his giving consent. And the judge, Jed S. Rakoff, said that Sergeant Branigan “felt the need to embellish his account with details indicating consent that the court finds unbelievable.”

Judge Rakoff even took issue with the demeanor of the sergeant, “whose cockiness was evident even on the stand.” His apparent “disregard for niceties,” the judge wrote, made it “wholly plausible” that he had forced his way into the apartment.

The case was dismissed, and the city, while denying liability, paid $280,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit by Mr. Taylor and others in the apartment.

In another case, a judge did more than cast doubt on an officer’s testimony. She proved it wrong.

The judge, Laura Taylor Swain, heard the officer, Sean Lynch, testify that he had shined his flashlight through the window of a parked sport utility vehicle one night in the Bronx and had seen a gun. The driver’s lawyer said that Officer Lynch could not have seen the gun because the car’s windows were heavily tinted.

So after sunset one evening in January 2006, the judge walked outside the Manhattan federal courthouse and shined a flashlight into the vehicle. She could see nothing.

Her inspection and other evidence, she wrote, “give the lie” to Officer Lynch’s account, which she called “impossible.” Prosecutors dropped the case.

The police, to be sure, have a difficult job trying to root out guns without overstepping the law. Some judges acknowledged this in court, saying they believed not that officers had lied, but rather that they had failed to recall an event accurately, perhaps because of its brevity, a limited vantage point or the subsequent passage of time.

And some expressed sympathy for the police. Judge Gleeson said in one case that while he found two officers’ testimony contradictory, he did not want to imply they had lied.

“I’m always reluctant in these circumstances, having been in the executive branch myself, having a feel for the consequences of an adverse credibility determination — I’m sensitive to it,” he said last November.

Judges typically do not discuss cases, but some have said that, in general, it is not their responsibility to follow up their criticisms of officers. The rulings are on the record, for prosecutors or others to act on if they wish.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said that only one of the critical rulings had been reported to the police, by a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who said he had no doubts about the officer’s truthfulness. The police took no action.

More broadly, Mr. Browne said an officer’s failure to convince a judge that his suspicions were justified “doesn’t necessarily mean the officer did something wrong.”

“In each case,” he added, “the suspect in fact had a gun.”

Federal prosecutors would not comment on individual cases. But Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said his office reviews any negative rulings about an officer’s credibility to decide whether any action is necessary.

“Any time evidence gets suppressed is a serious thing,” he said.

In court, prosecutors have vigorously defended the officers’ conduct and testimony. In one brief, a prosecutor argued that a police lieutenant had no reason to lie, because that could “jeopardize a fast-moving N.Y.P.D. career.” But writing in response, a federal defender, Deirdre von Dornum, cited cases in which officers faced no repercussions — “not the loss of their jobs, not disciplinary action.”

Still, one judge was so struck by what he said were an officer’s lies that he tried to do something about it.

Two officers had arrested a man and confiscated a gun in a Bronx apartment in 2002. But Judge Martin, then on the Manhattan federal court, was troubled that one officer had given the district attorney’s office an account of how she gained entry to the apartment, then largely contradicted it on the stand.

“This has to be one of the most blatant cases of perjury I’ve seen,” Judge Martin, a former United States attorney, said in his courtroom in September 2003. He said he doubted the officer, Kim Carillo, had “any use for the truth.”

“She will tell it, I think, whatever way it suits her to tell it,” he added.

The judge told the prosecutor to ask his superiors to review Officer Carillo’s testimony. They later replied that they had found no perjury, he said, and that the officer was not at fault.

Side Effects

If the fallout for police officers has been slight, the judges’ rulings have exacted other costs.

For one thing, they may free a weapons offender, and scuttle the chance to win his cooperation in more significant prosecutions, like investigations into violent gangs or gun trafficking. “The lost value of those bigger cases is really incalculable,” said Alan Vinegrad, a former United States attorney in Brooklyn.

Questions about police credibility can also hamper other cases. When a judge finds, for example, that an officer has lied, prosecutors must alert defense lawyers in other cases involving that officer.

Judge David G. Trager of Brooklyn federal court was so indignant over what he called an officer’s “blatantly false” testimony in an October 2005 suppression hearing that he told prosecutors, “I hope you won’t darken my courtroom with this police officer’s testimony again.”

Judge Trager did not suppress the gun, concluding that some of the officer’s testimony had been credible. But the officer, Herbert Martin, was about to testify in a federal trial stemming from another gun arrest.

The defense lawyer in that case, Howard Greenberg, said that learning of Judge Trager’s findings “was like manna from heaven.”

When Officer Martin took the stand in that trial, Mr. Greenberg confronted him, asking, “Didn’t you commit perjury a week ago when you said in this very building, in an altogether different case, that someone had a gun in his waist?”

The officer denied that he had lied. But Mr. Greenberg said he believed that his question made an impression on the jury. His client was acquitted.


12) Forget the two-state solution
Israelis and Palestinians must share the land. Equally.
By Saree Makdisi
May 11, 2008

There is no longer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Forget the endless arguments about who offered what and who spurned whom and whether the Oslo peace process died when Yasser Arafat walked away from the bargaining table or whether it was Ariel Sharon's stroll through the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that did it in.

All that matters are the facts on the ground, of which the most important is that -- after four decades of intensive Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories it occupied during the 1967 war -- Israel has irreversibly cemented its grip on the land on which a Palestinian state might have been created.

Sixty years after Israel was created and Palestine was destroyed, then, we are back to where we started: Two populations inhabiting one piece of land. And if the land cannot be divided, it must be shared. Equally.

This is a position, I realize, which may take many Americans by surprise. After years of pursuing a two-state solution, and feeling perhaps that the conflict had nearly been solved, it's hard to give up the idea as unworkable.

But unworkable it is. A report published last summer by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure -- roads, settlements, military bases and so on -- largely off-limits to Palestinians. Israel has methodically broken the remainder of the territory into dozens of enclaves separated from each other and the outside world by zones that it alone controls (including, at last count, 612 checkpoints and roadblocks).

Moreover, according to the report, the Jewish settler population in the occupied territories, already approaching half a million, not only continues to grow but is growing at a rate three times greater than the rate of Israel's population increase. If the current rate continues, the settler population will double to almost 1 million people in just 12 years. Many are heavily armed and ideologically driven, unlikely to walk away voluntarily from the land they have declared to be their God-given home.

These facts alone render the status of the peace process academic.

At no time since the negotiations began in the early 1990s has Israel significantly suspended the settlement process in the occupied Palestinian territories, in stark violation of international law. It preceded last November's Annapolis summit by announcing the fresh expropriation of Palestinian property in the West Bank; it followed the summit by announcing the expansion of its Har Homa settlement by an additional 307 housing units; and it has announced plans for hundreds more in other settlements since then.

The Israelis are not settling the occupied territories because they lack space in Israel itself. They are settling the land because of a long-standing belief that Jews are entitled to it simply by virtue of being Jewish. "The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel and only to the nation of Israel," declares Moledet, one of the parties in the National Union bloc, which has a significant presence in the Israeli parliament.

Moledet's position is not as far removed from that of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as some Israelis claim. Although Olmert says he believes in theory that Israel should give up those parts of the West Bank and Gaza densely inhabited by Palestinians, he also said in 2006 that "every hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic homeland" and that "we firmly stand by the historic right of the people of Israel to the entire land of Israel."

Judea and Samaria: These ancient biblical terms are still used by Israeli officials to refer to the West Bank. More than 10 years after the initiation of the Oslo peace process, which was supposed to lead to a two-state solution, maps in Israeli textbooks continued to show not the West Bank but Judea and Samaria -- and not as occupied territories but as integral parts of Israel.

What room is there for the Palestinians in this vision of Jewish entitlement to the land? None. They are regarded, at best, as a demographic "problem."

The idea of Palestinians as a "problem" is hardly new. Israel was created as a Jewish state in 1948 only by the premeditated and forcible removal of as much of the indigenous Palestinian population as possible, in what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe, which they commemorate this week.

A Jewish state, says Israeli historian Benny Morris, "would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. ... There was no choice but to expel that population." For Morris, this was one of those "circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing."

Thinking of Palestinians as a "problem" to be removed predates 1948. It was there from the moment the Zionist movement set into motion the project to make a Jewish state in a land that, in 1917 -- when the British empire officially endorsed Zionism -- had an overwhelmingly non-Jewish population. The only Jewish member of the British government at the time, Edwin Montagu, vehemently opposed the Zionist project as unjust. Henry King and Charles Crane, dispatched on a fact-finding mission to Palestine by President Wilson, concurred: Such a project would require enormous violence, they warned: "Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice."

But they were. This is a conflict driven from its origins by Zionism's exclusive sense of entitlement to the land. Has there been Palestinian violence as well? Yes. Is it always justified? No. But what would you do if someone told you that there was no room for you on your own land, that your very existence is a "problem"? No people in history has ever gone away just because another people wanted them to, and the sentiments of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull live on among Palestinians to this day.

The violence will end, and a just peace will come, only when each side realizes that the other is there to stay. Many Palestinians have accepted this premise, and an increasing number are willing to give up on the idea of an independent Palestinian state and embrace instead the concept of a single democratic, secular and multicultural state, which they would share equally with Israeli Jews.

Most Israelis are not yet reconciled this position. Some, no doubt, are reluctant to give up on the idea of a "Jewish state," to acknowledge the reality that Israel has never been exclusively Jewish, and that, from the start, the idea of privileging members of one group over all other citizens has been fundamentally undemocratic and unfair.

Yet that is exactly what Israel does. Even among its citizens, Israeli law grants rights to Jews that it denies to non-Jews. By no stretch of the imagination is Israel a genuine democracy: It is an ethno-religiously exclusive state that has tried to defy the multicultural history of the land on which it was founded.

To resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, Israeli Jews will have to relinquish their exclusive privileges and acknowledge the right of return of Palestinians expelled from their homes. What they would get in return is the ability to live securely and to prosper with -- rather than continuing to battle against -- the Palestinians.

They may not have a choice. As Olmert himself warned recently, more Palestinians are shifting their struggle from one for an independent state to a South African-style struggle that demands equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of religion, in a single state. "That is, of course," he noted, "a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle -- and ultimately a much more powerful one."

I couldn't agree more.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation," out this month from W.W. Norton.


13) The Greatest Story Never Told Study:
Smoking Pot Doesn't Cause Cancer--It May Prevent It!
Weekend Edition By FRED GARDNER
May 3 / 4, 2008

Smoking Cannabis Does Not Cause Cancer Of Lung or Upper Airways, Tashkin Finds; Data Suggest Possible Protective Effect

The story summarized by that headline ran in O'Shaughnessy's (Autumn 2005), CounterPunch, and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Did we win Pulitzers, dude? No, the story was ignored or buried by the corporate media. It didn't even make the "Project Censored" list of under-reported stories for 2005. "We were even censored by Project Censored," said Tod Mikuriya, who liked his shot of wry.

It's not that the subject is trivial. One in three Americans will be afflicted with cancer, we are told by the government (as if it's our immutable fate and somehow acceptable). Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and lung cancer the leading killer among cancers. You'd think it would have been very big news when UCLA medical school professor Donald Tashkin revealed that components of marijuana smoke -although they damage cells in respiratory tissue- somehow prevent them from becoming malignant. In other words, something in marijuana exerts an anti-cancer effect.

Tashkin has special credibility. He was the lead investigator on studies dating back to the 1970s that identified the components in marijuana smoke that are toxic. It was Tashkin et al who published photomicrographs showing that marijuana smoke damages cells lining the upper airways. It was the Tashkin lab reporting that benzpyrene -a component of tobacco smoke that plays a role in most lung cancers- is especially prevalent in marijuana smoke. It was Tashkin's data documenting that marijuana smokers are more likely than non-smokers to cough, wheeze, and produce sputum.

Tashkin reviewed his findings April 4 at a conference organized by "Patients Out of Time," a reform group devoted to educating doctors and the public (as opposed to lobbying politicians). Some 30 MDs and nurses got continuing medical education credits for attending.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported Tashkin's marijuana-related research over the decades and readily gave him a grant to conduct a large, population-based, case-controlled study that would prove definitively that heavy, long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung and upper-airways cancers. What Tashkin and his colleagues found, however, disproved their hypothesis. (Tashkin is to marijuana as a cause of lung cancer what Hans Blick is to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -an honest investigator who set out to find something, concluded that it wasn't there, and reported his results.)

Tashkin's team interviewed 1,212 cancer patients from the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program, matched for age, gender, and neighborhood with 1,040 cancer-free controls. Marijuana use was measured in "joint years" (number of years smoked times number of joints per day). It turned out that increased marijuana use did not result in higher rates of lung and pharyngeal cancer (whereas tobacco smokers were at greater risk the more they smoked). Tobacco smokers who also smoked marijuana were at slightly lower risk of getting lung cancer than tobacco-only smokers.

These findings were not deemed worthy of publication in "NIDA Notes." Tashkin reported them at the 2005 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and they were published in the October 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Without a press release from NIDA calling attention to its significance, the assignment editors of America had no idea that "Marijuana Use and the Risk of Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancers: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control Study" by Mia Hashibe1, Hal Morgenstern, Yan Cui, Donald P. Tashkin, Zuo-Feng Zhang, Wendy Cozen, Thomas M. Mack and Sander Greenland was a blockbuster story.

I suggested to Eric Bailey of the L.A. Times that he write up Tashkin's findings -UCLA provided the local angle if the anti-cancer effect wasn't enough. Bailey said his editors wouldn't be interested for some time because he had just filed a marijuana-related piece (about the special rapport Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access enjoyed with some old corporado back in Washington, D.C.) The Tashkin scoop is still there for the taking!

Investigators from New Zealand recently got widespread media attention for a study contradicting Tashkin's results. "Heavy cannabis users may be at greater risk of chronic lung disease -including cancer- compared to tobacco smokers," is how BBC News summed up the New Zealanders' findings. The very small size of the study -79 smokers took part, 21 of whom smoked cannabis only- was not held against the authors. As conveyed in the corporate media, the New Zealand study represented the latest word on this important subject (as if science were some kind of tennis match and the truth just gets truthier with every volley).

Tashkin criticized the New Zealanders' methodology in his talk at Asilomar: "There's some cognitive dissonance associated with the interpretation of their findings. I think this has to do with the belief model among the investigators and -I wish they were here to defend themselves- the integrity of the investigators... They actually published another paper in which they mimicked the design that we used for looking at lung function."

Tashkin spoke from the stage of an airy redwood chapel designed by Julia Morgan. He is pink-cheeked, 70ish, wears wire-rimmed spectacles. "For tobacco they found what you'd expect: a higher risk for lung cancer and a clear dose-response relationship. A 24-fold increase in the people who smoked the most... What about marijuana? If they smoked a small or moderate amount there was no increased risk, in fact slightly less than one. But if they were in the upper third of the group, then their risk was six-fold... A rather surprising finding, and one has to be cautious about interpreting the results because of the very small number of cases (14) and controls (4)."

Tashkin said the New Zealanders employed "statistical sleight of hand." He deemed it "completely implausible that smokers of only 365 joints of marijuana have a risk for developing lung cancer similar to that of smokers of 7,000 tobacco cigarettes... Their small sample size led to vastly inflated estimates... They had said 'it's ideal to do the study in New Zealand because we have a much higher prevalence of marijuana smoking.' But 88 percent of their controls had never smoked marijuana, whereas 36% of our controls (in Los Angeles) had never smoked marijuana. Why did so few of the controls smoke marijuana? Something fishy about that!"

Strong words for a UCLA School of Medicine professor!

As to the highly promising implication of his own study -that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant- Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed -a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, said Tashkin.

Much of Tashkin's talk was devoted to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, another condition prevalent among tobacco smokers. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two forms of COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Air pollution and tobacco smoke are known culprits. Inhaled pathogens cause an inflammatory response, resulting in diminished lung function. COPD patients have increasing difficulty clearing the airways as they get older.

Tashkin and colleagues at UCLA conducted a major study in which they measured lung function of various cohorts over eight years and found that tobacco-only smokers had an accelerated rate of decline, but marijuana smokers -even if they smoked tobacco as well- experienced the same rate of decline as non-smokers. "The more tobacco smoked, the greater the rate of decline," said Tashkin. "In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal." Tashkin concluded that his and other studies "do not support the concept that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD."

Hope that makes you breathe easier.

Fred Gardner is editor of O'Shaughnessy's. He can be reached at: fred@plebesite.com


14) Here Come the Millennials
Op-Ed Columnist
May 13, 2008

An important aspect of the presidential race so far has been the generational divide, with Barack Obama doing very well with younger voters and Hillary Clinton drawing strong support from those who are older. A similar split can be expected in a general election race between Senator Obama and John McCain.

However the election ultimately turns out, the Obama campaign has tapped into a constituency that holds powerful implications for the future of American politics. The youngest of these voters, those ranging in age from roughly the late teens to the early 30s, are part of the so-called millennial generation.

This is a generation that is in danger of being left out of the American dream — the first American generation to do less well economically than their parents. And that economic uncertainty appears to have played a big role in shaping their views of government and politics.

A number of studies, including new ones by the Center for American Progress in Washington and by Demos, a progressive think tank in New York, have shown that Americans in this age group are faced with a variety of challenges that are tougher than those faced by young adults over the past few decades. Among the challenges are worsening job prospects, lower rates of health insurance coverage and higher levels of debt.

We know that the generation immediately preceding the Millennials is struggling. Men who are now in their 30s, the prime age for raising a family, earn less money than members of their fathers’ generation did at the same age. In 1974, the median income for men in their 30s (using today’s inflation-adjusted dollars) was about $40,000. The figure for men in their 30s now is $35,000.

It’s not hard to understand why surveys show that overwhelming percentages of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. The American dream is on life support. Polls show that dwindling numbers of Americans (in some cases as few as a third of all respondents) believe their children will end up better off than they are.

The upshot of all this is ominous for conservatives. The number of young people in the millennial generation (loosely defined as those born in the 1980s and 90s) is somewhere between 80 million and 95 million. That represents a ton of potential votes — in this election and years to come. And the American Progress study shows that those young people do not feel that they have been treated kindly by conservative policies or principles.

According to the study: “Millennials mostly reject the conservative viewpoint that government is the problem, and that free markets always produce the best results for society. Indeed, Millennials’ views are more progressive than those of other age groups today, and are more progressive than previous generations when they were younger.”

The Demos study pointed to the very difficult employment environment confronting young adults. Fewer jobs offer the benefits of paid vacations, health coverage or pensions. And moving up the employment ladder is much harder.

As the study noted, “The well-paying middle-management jobs that characterized the work force up to the late-1970s have been eviscerated.”

The longer-term outlook is depressing.

Except for the expected continuing demand for registered nurses, the occupations projected to add the most jobs over the next several years do not offer much in the way of pay, benefits or career advancement. Demos listed the top five occupations in terms of anticipated job growth: registered nurses, retail sales, customer service reps, food preparers and office clerks.

Often saddled with debt, and with their job prospects gloomy, young Americans feel their government ought to be doing more to enhance their prospects. They want increased investments in education, health care and initiatives aimed at expanding the economy and fostering the growth of good jobs.

The American Progress study found that Millennials are more likely to support universal health coverage than any other age group over the past 30 years. By huge percentages, they want improvements in health coverage and support for education, even if it means increases in taxes.

The landscape is changing before our eyes. Younger voters struggling with the enormous costs of a college education, or trying to raise families in a bleak employment environment, or using their credit cards to cover everyday expenses like food or energy costs are not much interested in hearing that the government to which they pay taxes can do little or nothing to help them.

Whether young Americans can shift the balance of the presidential election is an open question. But there is very little doubt that over the next several years they are capable of loosening the tremendous grip that conservatives have had on the levers of American power.


15) Gates Wants Weapons Useful in Current Conflicts
May 13, 2008

COLORADO SPRINGS — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a clear warning to the military and its industrial partners on Tuesday that expensive, new conventional weapons must prove their value to current conflicts, marked by insurgency and terrorism, if they hope for a place in future budgets.

In his most direct comments to date on the expected division of labor across the military, Mr. Gates said that the Army and Marine Corps would continue to carry the brunt of the nation’s combat effort. The Air Force and Navy, he said, would be cast as “America’s main strategic deterrent” against potential adversaries such as Iran, North Korea and China.

“I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called ‘Next-War-itis’ — the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict,” Mr. Gates told a conference here sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy institute.

“Overall, the kinds of capabilities we will most likely need in the years ahead will often resemble the kinds of capabilities we need today,” he added.

Those comments are certain to alarm advocates of the newest generations of high-tech and high-cost weapons programs, in particular the Army’s Future Combat Systems and the Air Force’s F-22 advanced warplane. Both have come under the scrutiny of Pentagon budget officers questioning whether either would be required for missions similar to the current operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Army program, whose total cost could exceed $200 billion, “must continue to demonstrate its value for the types of irregular challenges we will face,” as well as for the full-spectrum of conventional conflict for which it was designed, Mr. Gates said.

The defense secretary also criticized a budget process that he said results in the production of fewer, but more expensive, warships, warplanes and armored vehicles.

Mr. Gates did defend his order to accelerate production of heavily armored mine-resistant troop transports for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even at $1 million each, he said, the vehicles have proven their value by saving lives of American military personnel from improvised explosives and suicide bombers, which Mr. Gates described as “the weapon of choice for America’s most dangerous and likely adversaries.”

The defense secretary went into great detail seeking to answer those who question whether the war in Iraq has left the United States unprepared for other conflicts, especially whether the military today could take on another challenger and whether the ground forces were stretched to the breaking point.

He acknowledged that given troop commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan, “it is true that we would be hard-pressed to launch a major conventional ground operation elsewhere in the world at this time.”

But he warned any adversary against believing the United States could not successful counter another threat.

The military, he declared, “has ample and untapped combat power in our naval and air forces, with the capacity to defeat any — repeat, any — adversary who committed an act of aggression, whether in the Persian Gulf, on the Korean Peninsula or in the Straits of Taiwan. There is a risk — but a prudent and manageable one.”

Mr. Gates did call for careful spending on modernizing and expanding the Air Force and Navy.

To be sure, the defense secretary is set to step down at the end of the Bush administration, and thus is not expected to be in a position to write his strategic view into any but the next budget. Thus, the services and industry may seek to push through the programs Mr. Gates said should be scrutinized.

Yet, in a steady stream of speeches and initiatives, Mr. Gates has made clear that he will aggressively seek to shape Pentagon policy through the end of his tenure.

The lessons of global conflict over the past quarter-century prove the greater risk is that “smaller, irregular forces — insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists — will find ways, as they always have, to frustrate and neutralize the advantages of larger, regular militaries,” he said.

And he called on the armed forces to “institutionalize the lessons learned and the capabilities honed” in the current counter-insurgency efforts. He cautioned against the “backsliding that has occurred in the past,” such as in the years after the war in Vietnam, when counter-insurgency skills were lost as the military returned to preparing for major conventional conflict against a nation-state rival.

Mr. Gates summoned the specter of Vietnam to argue that the stress of the current conflicts is not as grave a threat to the health of the armed forces as would be losing the war in Iraq.

“The risk of overextending the Army is real,” Mr. Gates said. “But I believe the risk is far greater — to that institution, as well as to our country — if we were to fail in Iraq. That is the war we are in. That is the war we must win.”


16) Hundreds Are Arrested in U.S. Sweep of Meat Plant
May 13, 2008

In the biggest workplace immigration raid this year, federal agents swept into a kosher meat plant on Monday in Postville, Iowa, and arrested more than 300 workers.

The authorities said the workers were suspected of being in the United States illegally or of having participated in identity theft and the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not say how many people had been rounded up beyond the initial 300 or whether the management and owners of the plant, AgriProcessors, would face criminal charges.

The plant has 800 to 900 people and is the country’s largest producer of meat that is glatt kosher, widely regarded as the highest standard of cleanliness.

The plant shut temporarily.

The agents set up a perimeter around the 60-acre plant, in northeastern Iowa, and entered on the morning shift, carrying out two search warrants, federal authorities said. An affidavit filed in court before the raid by the Homeland Security Department cited “the issuance of 697 criminal complaints and arrest warrants against persons believed to be current employees” and to have acted criminally.

The affidavit said a former plant supervisor had told investigators that a methamphetamine laboratory had operated at the plant and that some employees had carried weapons to the plant. The former supervisor, the affidavit said, estimated that 80 percent of the employees were in the United States illegally.

A spokesman for Representative Bruce Braley, Democrat of Iowa, said the number of arrests was expected to increase, perhaps even double, as the investigation continued.

Federal officials leased an expansive fairground area in nearby Waterloo to process and house the arrested workers. Among people at the fairgrounds and in Postville, “there is a lot of fear,” said Prof. Mark A. Grey, who focuses on immigration at the University of Northern Iowa.

“It’s absolutely devastating to the local economy,” Professor Grey said.

In a news release, Matt M. Dummermuth, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, called the sweep “the largest operation of its type ever in Iowa.”

Federal authorities have been conducting workplace raids across the country in recent years, with the pace accelerating since the failure of immigration legislation last year in Congress.

The raid had been planned for months and was conducted in coordination with local law enforcement, according to the news release, released jointly by Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for the ICE regional office in Bloomington, Minn.

Calls to AgriProcessors, a global giant in the kosher meat market and the major employer in Postville, a town of 2,200 people, were not answered. A lawyer for the plant did not return a call.

According to a company Web site, Aaron Rubashkin, whose family controls the plant, bought a defunct meat factory in Postville in 1987 and turned it into the present plant.

According to Menachem Lubinsky, the editor of Kosher Today and a marketing consultant, AgriProcessors provides 60 percent of the kosher retail meat and 40 percent of the kosher poultry nationally, and most retail chains depend on it for supply. Mr. Lubinsky said the company was also the sole American packing plant whose products are accepted in Israel.

The raid was not the first moment in the national spotlight for the plant. In 2004, it was asked to change its slaughtering methods after an animal rights group secretly documented workers cutting the throats of living steers and letting them bleed to death.

The company has also been a target of environmental pollution complaints.


17) 35 Years of Rockefeller Drug Laws, and Hope There Won’t Be 36
May 13, 2008

New York governors come and go (some more swiftly than others). State lawmakers tend to hang around longer, but most of them eventually move on as well. For true endurance, the statutes known as the Rockefeller-era drug laws are hard to beat. The same may be said about attempts to scrap those laws, which came into being in 1973, so long ago that disco was just beginning to be hot.

Nelson A. Rockefeller was governor then. Drug criminals had New York by the throat in one of the city’s periodic heart-of-darkness phases. Rockefeller wanted to show he could be tough as nails with dope dealers. The result was statutes that eternally bear his name in common idiom. Their essence was to send drug felons to prison for very long stretches, with sentences made mandatory and leniency rendered unacceptable even for first-time offenders.

The laws were amended in 2004 and 2005, to ease some of the most severe sentences. By then, they had been deemed overly harsh by most New Yorkers, save perhaps those with portraits of Torquemada on their walls. Occasional polls, like one for this newspaper in 2002, show that New Yorkers overwhelmingly would grant judges more of a free hand in sentencing. That includes a chance to send drug-addicted small fry into treatment rather than to prison.

We are now in a moment when the laws are being scrutinized again, in public hearings organized by a consortium of six New York State Assembly committees. A first round was held in Manhattan last Thursday, on the 35th anniversary of the laws’ signing by Rockefeller, and a second round is planned for Rochester on Thursday.

Judging from the remarks of Assembly members at last week’s session, they want major change, in particular to expand “judicial discretion” over the fate of convicted drug offenders. “We’re on the precipice of real Rockefeller law reform,” said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat. Mr. Lentol is among half a dozen lawmakers who were in the Legislature back in 1973. He voted against the laws then, and doesn’t like them any better now.

But it is far from clear what, if anything, lies beneath that precipice. The State Senate, dominated by Republicans, albeit with a weakened grip, has not been eager to join the Democratic-led Assembly in tossing the Rockefeller laws over the edge.

Indeed, positions have shifted little over the years.

Those who raise cries of “drop the Rock” say that mandatory sentences are mindless and unfair to nonviolent offenders, that they give too much power to prosecutors and not enough to neutral judges, that they steer too many low-level schnooks away from relatively inexpensive rehab that would serve them (and the state treasury) well, and that they are directed disproportionately hard toward African-Americans and Latinos.

A leading critic of the laws, the Correctional Association of New York, says that their effect is to give elected officials from 35 years ago, many of them dead, more power over today’s narcotics cases “than the judges who currently sit on the bench and hear all the evidence presented.”

In the same camp, you would probably find the present governor, David A. Paterson. He has not spoken up on the subject of late, but he got himself arrested in an anti-Rock protest six years ago, when he was a state senator.

On the other side are those, including many of the state’s district attorneys, who say that the threat of tough sentences is enough to induce some addicted drug violators to seek treatment. And don’t kid yourself, prosecutors say; street-corner dealers, even if not necessarily “drug kingpins,” are violence-breeding menaces. Neighborhoods, they say, are well rid of these lowlifes.

On the laws’ 35th anniversary, each side went to the hearing armed with anecdotes and statistics. A figure that stood out, though, was one that went unmentioned.

Bridget G. Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor for New York City, noted that in 1970 there were 1,146 homicides in the city. (Police records put the number at 1,117, but that’s not the point.) In 2007, that figure had been sliced to 496. The implication was that we could thank the Rockefeller laws for this marvelous result.

Unmentioned was another number: 2,245. That’s how many homicides the city recorded in 1990, our most blood-soaked year.

So for 17 years, starting with 1973, the murder rate grew and stayed implacably high, even with the Rockefeller laws. Then, over the next 18 years, the rate dropped sharply. The roller-coaster statistical ride is enough to make one wonder, at least in regard to murder, if the Rock really had anything to do with the numbers going up or down.

E-mail: haberman@nytimes.com


18) Cigarette Bill Treats Menthol With Leniency
May 13, 2008

Some public health experts are questioning why menthol, the most widely used cigarette flavoring and the most popular cigarette choice of African-American smokers, is receiving special protection as Congress tries to regulate tobacco for the first time.

The legislation, which would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to oversee tobacco products, would try to reduce smoking’s allure to young people by banning most flavored cigarettes, including clove and cinnamon.

But those new strictures would exempt menthol — even though menthol masks the harsh taste of cigarettes for beginners and may make it harder for the addicted to kick the smoking habit. For years, public health authorities have worried that menthol might be a factor in high cancer rates in African-Americans.

The reason menthol is seen as politically off limits, despite those concerns, is that mentholated brands are so crucial to the American cigarette industry. They make up more than one-fourth of the $70 billion American cigarette market and are becoming increasingly important to the industry leader, Philip Morris USA, without whose lobbying support the legislation might have no chance of passage.

“I would have been in favor of banning menthol,” said Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, who supports the bill. “But as a practical matter that simply wasn’t doable.”

Even the head of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, a nonprofit group that has been adamantly against menthol, acknowledges that the ingredient needed to be off the bargaining table — for now — because he does not want to imperil the bill’s chances.

“The bottom line is we want the legislation,” said William S. Robinson, the group’s executive director. “But we want to reserve the right to address this issue at some critical point because of the percentage of people of African descent who use mentholated products.”

Supporters of the tobacco legislation, including the Senate bill’s sponsor, Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, say the bill addresses the potential health risks of menthol by giving the F.D.A. the authority to remove cigarette additives, including menthol, if they are proved harmful.

Menthol is particularly controversial because public health authorities have worried about its health effects on African-Americans. Nearly 75 percent of black smokers use menthol brands, compared with only about one in four white smokers.

That is why one former public health official says the legislation’s menthol exemption is a “cave-in to the industry,” an opinion shared by some other public health advocates.

“I think we can say definitively that menthol induces smoking in the African-American community and subsequently serves as a direct link to African-American death and disease,” said the former official, Robert G. Robinson, who retired two years ago as an associate director in the office of smoking and health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The current lead scientist on tobacco related issues for the C.D.C, Terry F. Pechacek, said the legislation’s exemption for menthol was an issue being discussed in the scientific community. "I would just say this is an area of clear scientific interest and it merits very careful attention."

The legislation could soon be up for vote in both chambers of Congress, where it has broad support. It is by no means a sure bet — though not because of the menthol exemption.

Despite the support of Mr. Kennedy and 56 co-sponsors in the Senate, the legislation faces some determined opposition from tobacco-state lawmakers who resist industry regulation. And the White House has said it opposes the legislation, arguing that F.D.A. regulation could create the false impression that tobacco is safe.

The legislation is largely a result of negotiations during sessions in 2003 and 2004 between lawmakers, antismoking groups and Philip Morris — the only major American cigarette company that supports the effort to regulate the industry.

“My recollection is that we were able to eliminate the use of flavored cigarettes, strawberry, mocha, and all this stuff that is clearly targeted at young kids and to start them smoking tobacco,” Mike DeWine, the former Ohio senator who helped arrange a series of negotiations between Philip Morris and an influential antismoking group, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a recent telephone interview. “Where the compromise was made as I recall was on menthol,” Mr. DeWine said.

While Philip Morris and other tobacco companies acknowledge the health hazards of smoking, they contend that menthol does nothing to worsen those risks. One of the government’s current top public health scientists on tobacco, however, says there are few definitive answers about the health impact of menthol cigarettes. Still, he points to several studies that suggest menthol smokers may be exposed to higher levels of dangerous compounds than nonmenthol smokers.

“There are multiple lines of evidence, generally consistent, suggesting that there’s reason for concern,” said Dr. Pechacek, the associate science director of the office on smoking for the C.D.C.

Of 45 million smokers in this country, the American Lung Association identifies about 33 million as non-Hispanic whites and 5 million as African-American. Historically, statistics showed that a somewhat higher percentage of African-Americans smoked than whites. Recent figures, though, indicate about the same rate of smoking for both groups — in the 21 to 22 percent range.

But the use of menthol cigarettes is disproportionately an African-American phenomenon, which critics say has been reinforced by decades of advertising aimed at black consumers. Concerns about menthol have circulated since at least 1998, when the C.D.C. reported that menthol “may increase the absorption of harmful smoking constituents.”

Four years later the C.D.C., along with the National Cancer Institute, sponsored a meeting in Atlanta on menthol cigarettes and disease rates in African-Americans. The official report from that meeting said the research up to that point had been inconclusive, but it called for further studies.

In five large studies of menthol to date, only one has found higher rates of cancer among menthol smokers than nonmenthol smokers, and only in men. But a growing body of evidence suggests that menthol makes it harder to kick the smoking habit — a view shared even by many scientists who say that menthol in cigarettes is not itself dangerous.

A tobacco company spokesman, Brendan J. McCormick, said menthol was “an ingredient and a flavor preference that is widely preferred by more than a quarter of adult smokers out there, and it’s got a long history of use.”

Mr. McCormick works for the Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, whose Marlboro Menthol is the second-largest menthol brand in this country and also the fastest growing.

Last year, to counter concerns about menthol, a mint extract that can also be made synthetically, Philip Morris scientists published a 26-page paper in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. After examining dozens of studies on menthol, the company’s scientists said they found little evidence that menthol cigarettes were any more harmful or addictive than other types or that they encouraged people to start smoking at younger ages.

Its support of the tobacco legislation has put Philip Morris at odds with other cigarette companies, which generally oppose regulation. As the American industry’s biggest player, Philip Morris says it is willing to let the F.D.A. oversee tobacco because as the company tries to develop products that are less harmful, it wants a regulatory agency to evaluate and approve those products. The company also says it would prefer national tobacco regulations rather than a hodgepodge of state and local rules. But the company’s rivals complain that the legislation could help Philip Morris, with its best-selling Marlboro franchise, further entrench itself as the industry’s dominant player by placing new restrictions on cigarette marketing, making it difficult for rivals to use advertising to catch up. Besides banning the marketing of cigarettes on the basis of most flavorings — other than menthol — the new rules would also place additional limits on the types and placement of signs and magazine advertising for tobacco products.

Even with the menthol exemption, the legislation is opposed by Reynolds American, whose R. J. Reynolds unit sells menthol brands that include Kool and Salem. Another opponent is Lorillard, which makes Newport, the best-selling brand among African-Americans and the menthol market leader over all.

“Bottom line, the scientific publications to date have not concluded that menthol cigarettes are more hazardous or addictive than nonmenthol cigarettes,” a Lorillard spokesman, Michael W. Robinson, said in a written response to questions. Lorillard is a subsidiary of the Loews Corporation.

Scientists who study smoking have identified various disparities in the health of black and white smokers. National Cancer Institute data shows that African-American men get lung cancer at a rate 50 percent higher than white men — a gap that most scientists say cannot be fully explained by historically higher rates of smoking by black men.

One theory suggests that menthol in cigarettes, by providing an additional pleasurable sensory cue to smokers, reinforces addiction.

“There is evidence from different studies that it’s harder to quit menthol cigarettes,” said Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, a pharmacologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the nation’s leading tobacco researchers. He calls menthol a “public health risk.”

In work published in 2006, Dr. Mark J. Pletcher and colleagues at that same university analyzed smoking behavior for 1,535 people over 15 years. Their findings suggested that menthol smokers were 30 percent less likely to quit smoking and 89 percent more likely to relapse than other smokers.

One African-American woman, Joya Robinson of North Brunswick, N.J., said she began smoking Newport in 1988 and developed a pack-a-day habit. After several unsuccessful attempts to quit, she is now enrolled in a tobacco dependence program. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Ms. Robinson, 46, said.

Dr. Pechacek, the C.D.C. official, said a combination of menthol and genetic factors that predispose African-Americans to certain cancers may be in play for black smokers.

“There is sufficient reason to maintain a strong public health interest in it,” he said.


19) Many Hispanics Are Hit Hard by Economic Slump
May 13, 2008

DALTON, Ga. — In his first years in the United States, Carlos B. Jacinto endured the itinerant life of a Guatemalan migrant worker, from picking fruit in Florida to moving logs at a sawmill in Washington. Eventually, he settled here in northern Georgia and erected a middle-class American life.

The carpet factories that sustained this town were desperate for workers to supply a nationwide boom in home construction. The wages Mr. Jacinto earned over the last decade were enough to buy a minivan and a brick house with a yard and a swing set for his four young girls. It was a long way from his childhood home in Guatemala, a wooden shack without electricity or plumbing.

But last month, amid the shrinking fortunes of the American economy, Mr. Jacinto, 37, was laid off. Everything he has achieved is suddenly at risk.

“Am I going to be able to keep up the payments on my house?” he asked. “I never believed this could happen. Now, we don’t know the future.”

The economic downturn unfolding across the United States is imposing a particularly punishing toll on Hispanics, a group that was among the primary beneficiaries of the expansion in recent years. What had been a story of broad and steady advances has given way to growing joblessness, diminishing paychecks and lost homes.

The boom in American housing generated millions of new jobs for those willing to engage in physically demanding tasks, from factory work churning out floorboards, carpeting and upholstery, to landscaping, roofing and janitorial services. Latinos occupied widening swaths of these trades and filled large numbers of relatively high-paying construction jobs.

As a great influx of Latino immigrants spread beyond the initial entryways of the Southwest into smaller cities and towns across the South and the Midwest, many found employment doing much of the unpleasant work shunned by those with better prospects.

But now significant portions of this work are disappearing. What were once the fastest-growing areas of the nation, including states with expanding Hispanic populations like Florida, California, Georgia and Nevada, are often bearing the brunt of the pain.

From April of last year to April of this year, the Labor Department reported, the unemployment rate among Hispanics spiked 1.4 percentage points, to 6.9 percent. By comparison, the overall jobless rate rose half a percentage point, to 5 percent.

For the nearly 19 million Latino immigrants in the United States, the downturn in the job market has cut significantly into earnings, dropping the share of those sending money home to families in Latin America from nearly three-fourths two years ago to about half, according to a survey released last month by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Economic troubles now threaten to reverse a long period of gains in homeownership among Latinos as well. From 1994 to 2006, the rate of Hispanic homeownership climbed to 50 percent from 41 percent, according to census data, a pace more than double the increase among non-Hispanics.

Growth was fueled by heavy reliance on subprime mortgages — loans extended to people with troubled credit histories, which have since proved the most likely to go bad. By 2006, 47 percent of the loans issued for home purchases by Hispanics were subprime, nearly double the rate for non-Hispanic whites, according to a paper by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Only African-Americans leaned harder on subprime loans.

Last year, the homeownership rate among Latinos fell, a trend that is likely to continue: one in 12 of the mortgages made to Latino households in 2005 and 2006 is likely to fail, estimates Catherine Singley, a policy fellow at the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group in Washington.

Georgia is one of many states where Hispanics are now feeling strains. From 2000 to 2007, the state’s Hispanic population grew more than 70 percent, according to census data.

In the Atlanta area, construction exerted a strong pull, mirroring the national trend. Nationally, Latinos rose from one-fifth of the construction work force in 2000 to almost one-third by 2006, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Economic Policy Institute.

Among foreign-born Hispanics, construction was responsible for 46 percent of the growth in employment from 2004 to 2006, according to Rakesh Kochhar, an economist at the Pew Hispanic Center.

Now, that dynamic is working in reverse. “Hispanics are concentrated in an industry that is leading the downturn,” Mr. Kochhar said.

For the last eight years, Jose Serrano, an illegal immigrant, has crammed into rented houses in Atlanta with five and six other men while working construction jobs that paid about $10 an hour, sending most of his earnings home to Mexico City to support his wife and three children.

But since November, Mr. Serrano has failed to find steady work. Every morning, he joins dozens of others in a parking lot, where contractors hire for odd jobs. Most days, he waits in vain, he said.

Now, there is no money to send home. He has sold his car, navigating Atlanta’s freeway-laced sprawl by bicycle. He has been borrowing from friends to pay his rent of $150 a month.

Others in his situation have returned to Mexico, he said, discouraged by the deteriorating job market and a recent surge in crackdowns against illegal immigrants. If things do not improve soon, so will he, though he is pained by the thought of having to lean on the very family he is supposed to be supporting.

“Your dreams have disappeared,” Mr. Serrano said. “Your family is counting on you for basic necessities. You feel defeated.”

Dalton, a town of 35,000 people 90 miles northwest of Atlanta, is where three-fourths of the carpeting in the United States is produced. It benefited from the housing boom, serving as an archetype of Hispanic upward mobility.

Before the 1980s, the carpet industry attracted mostly white blue-collar workers from as far as Tennessee and Alabama, offering wages that paid enough to support families. But competition intensified and as similar jobs sprang up elsewhere, Dalton’s carpet mills struggled to find enough workers.

Among Latinos, word spread that a small town in Georgia, with fresh air and thick stands of trees, had abundant jobs at wages reaching $14 an hour. Houses were affordable.

“This was the dream they were seeing on television,” said America Gruner, founder of the Coalition of Latino Leaders, a local social service organization.

Today, Latinos make up about 40 percent of the city’s population, up from 10 percent a decade ago. Some 70 percent of the students in the city school system are Hispanic.

“They came in here and saved jobs,” said Dalton’s mayor, David E. Pennington. “This is a one-industry town. If they hadn’t come here, the carpet industry was going to leave.”

For several years, Rafael Ortiz picked strawberries in California for 12 and 14 hours a day, being paid about $250 a week. On a visit home to his village in the Mexican state of Guanajuato a decade ago, relatives told him he could make twice as much in northern Georgia, working indoors.

Mr. Ortiz and his wife boarded a Greyhound bus with their six children — the youngest then 8 years old. They arrived with no savings, staying with cousins.

Mr. Ortiz quickly found a job in a factory making bathroom mats and toilet seat covers. Nearly all of the workers were from Mexico or Guatemala, he said. He was paid $8.50 an hour, with as much overtime as he was willing to take. He brought home $450 to $500 a week.

Over subsequent years, Mr. Ortiz, 62, never lacked for work. In 2000, he paid $4,500 for a trailer, plunked it on a three-quarter-acre lot and called it home. He recently became an American citizen.

“I have 10 grandchildren, and there’s plenty of room there to run around,” Mr. Ortiz said. “That’s my satisfaction.”

But last fall, Mr. Ortiz’s father grew ill. He returned to Mexico to be with him before he died. Since coming back to Dalton in February, he has not found work. He no longer takes his grandchildren out to eat, he said. He relies on his grown children to pay the bills.

From the fall of 2005 to the end of 2007, carpet industry jobs in Whitfield County declined to 15,416 from 17,140, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

At the Southern Janitorial Services Corporation, where 95 percent of the employees are Latino, working hours are being cut and paychecks are down from $450 a week to as little as $300 a week, according to Gabriela Gardea, the company’s receptionist.

The impact of smaller paychecks is now rippling out to businesses built to serve the Latino influx. At El Sombrero, a Mexican restaurant in an old brick storefront downtown, sales have dropped by half since the beginning of the year, said the owner, Adolfo Morones. He has been forced to lay off a waiter and two kitchen employees, he said.

At La Michoacana, a grocery store festooned with colorful piñatas, the owner, Efrain Espinoza, said he was losing money. “We don’t know how long we can continue like this,” he said.

A taxi service that ferries Latino workers from home to job has idled three of its six cars, Maria T. Perez, the owner, said.

Born in Mexico, Ms. Perez arrived here from Los Angeles a decade ago to put her five children — then mostly teenagers — beyond the reach of gangs, she said. She started the taxi service in 2001, making use of no-money-down financing to buy her first car, a used Buick Regal.

As Dalton filled with Latinos, her business expanded, earning her a $40,000 profit in 2004 and again the following year, she said.

She and her husband, Ricardo Torres, bought a four-bedroom house with a swimming pool, a huge living room, a washer-dryer and a kitchen with granite countertops. They paid $240,000, with no money down, she said.

The promotional mortgage payment of $1,700 a month was manageable, she said. But the taxi business dipped the following year. And by early 2007, their mortgage payment had jumped to $2,500, she said.

Last summer, with the taxi service losing money, Ms. Perez stopped making house payments. In January, she and her husband gave up their home to foreclosure, she said, joining a growing crowd. From January to March of this year, Dalton registered 111 foreclosure filings, nearly four times the number of the previous year, according to data from RealtyTrac.

Ms. Perez and her husband are now camping in the taxi company office. They do their laundry at a Laundromat, and cook with a hot plate, opening the door to release the smoke.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” she said. “The only thing that’s left is to wait and see.”




Four Military Branches Hit Recruiting Goals
National Briefing | Washington
The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month, enlisting 2,233 people, which was 142 percent of its goal, the Pentagon said. The Army recruited 5,681 people, 101 percent of its goal. The Navy and Air Force also met their goals, 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen. A Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said that if the Marine Corps continued its recruiting success, it could reach its goal of growing to 202,000 people by the end of 2009, more than a year early.
May 13, 2008

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




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
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at: http://web.mac.com/rolandgarret


[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


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, below...bw]


"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 this...bw]


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 (dvasicek@earthlink.net, 303-903-2103) for information
about how they can purchase the DVD and have me come
to their children's school to show the film and to interact
in a questions and answers discussion about the Sand
Creek Massacre.

Happy Holidays!

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC

(scroll down when you get there])

donvasicek.com.Peace Articles at Libraryofpeace.org">

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