Wednesday, May 14, 2008



ILWU May Day Protest--San Francisco



NO on state Prop. 98!

San Francisco Tenants Union (415) 282-5525

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


We All Hate that 98!

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



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

Additional information is available at


National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation

Dear Antiwar Activists,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Statement of Purpose states:

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

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

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

These include:

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

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

The Call for National Assembly:

List of Endorsers:

Endorse the conference:


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


Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman from Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

Kali Akuno, Director, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

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

Mesha Monge Irizarry, Founder, Idriss Stelley Foundation,

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

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


For Immediate Release
Embassy Suites Hotel Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard,
Garden Grove, California, 92840
May 16-18, 2008

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

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

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

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




1) 35 Years of Rockefeller Drug Laws, and Hope There Won’t Be 36
May 13, 2008

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

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

4) Oil Refiners See Profits Sink as Consumption Falls
May 14, 2008

5) Felled mangrove trees may have doomed the coast of Myanmar
Scientific American
May 9, 2008

6) Belief in God 'childish,' Jews not chosen people: Einstein letter
May 13, 2008, 08:24 AM US/Eastern

7) Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Thugs
[col. writ. 5/8/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

8) Colombia Extradites 14 Paramilitary Leaders
May 14, 2008

9) Americans Taking Prescription Drugs in Greater Numbers
May 14, 2008

10) JROTC must go now
By Riva Enteen and Tommi Avicolli Mecca
San Francisco Bay Guardian
May 14, 2008


1) 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.



2) 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.


3) 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.”


4) Oil Refiners See Profits Sink as Consumption Falls
May 14, 2008

While drivers are facing sticker shock at the pump these days, here is a bigger shock: high prices are putting a strain on oil refiners.

After last year’s stellar profits, American refiners are going through a traumatic period. In a time of record gasoline prices, some of them actually lost money in the first quarter, and for virtually all refiners, profits are down sharply.

Experts say the refiners are caught in a double bind. The price of their raw material, oil, is rising because of strong global demand. At the same time, consumption of gasoline in the United States is falling as a result of slower economic growth and consumer efforts to conserve.

However much the companies would like to raise gasoline prices enough to pass along the full increases in oil, analysts say they have been unable to do it. Oil prices doubled in the past year, while wholesale gasoline prices rose a mere 39 percent.

“Refiners are having a terrible time,” said Lawrence J. Goldstein, an economist at the Energy Policy Research Foundation.

For decades, global oil prices were tightly coupled to the ups and downs of the American economy. But in recent years, world oil prices have been pulled upward by heavy demand for diesel fuel from developing countries like China. American economic growth weakened in the last few months, but that has mattered little in the upward march of oil prices.

“What we see at the gasoline pump is increasingly driven by what is happening elsewhere in the global economy,” said Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm.

Gasoline prices rose on Tuesday to a nationwide average of $3.73 a gallon, according to AAA, the automobile club. That is yet another record. Diesel prices also set a record, at $4.39 a gallon. Crude oil futures closed at $125.80 a barrel, up $1.57, or 1.3 percent, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In its latest monthly report, the International Energy Agency, an adviser to industrialized countries, reduced its forecast for global oil demand for this year, as consumption drops by a bigger-than-forecast 300,000 barrels a day in the developed world.

But that decline will be more than offset by growth from developing countries. Consequently, global consumption is expected to rise this year by 1 million barrels a day, to 86.8 million barrels a day. Nearly all that growth will come from China, the Middle East and Russia.

In the United States, there is no longer much doubt that consumers are responding to higher fuel costs by driving less. Oil consumption fell by 3.3 percent in March, compared with March of last year.

But even as gasoline demand softens, the price keeps rising, driven by higher oil prices. The cost of oil represents about 75 percent of the price of gasoline at the pump, according to the Energy Department; state and federal taxes account for 12 percent, and refining and distribution make up the rest.

The rising oil prices have led to a sharp drop in refining profit margins, or the difference between the cost of oil and the cost of gasoline. These margins, at $12.45 a barrel on average, are 60 percent below their year-ago level, and in the lower half of their five-year range, according to a report by UBS.

In response to falling gasoline demand and rising costs, refiners have cut their production rates. Refining utilization rates, for example, slumped to a low of 81.4 percent in the second week of April, compared with 90.4 percent at the same time last year. Earlier this month, refineries were running at 85 percent of their capacity.

All this has translated into a tough quarter for some refiners. While large integrated companies, like Exxon Mobil, reported big profits in the first quarter thanks to their oil sales, smaller independent refiners that buy their oil, instead of producing it themselves, have been losing money.

Tesoro, Sunoco, and United Refining all posted losses in the first quarter. The hardest hit have been small refineries that tend to process the most expensive types of crude oil into gasoline. Sunoco, for example, lost $123 million in the first quarter, while Tesoro posted a $82 million loss for that period, in contrast to a profit of $116 million last year.

“We’re just not able to pass along the increased cost of crude oil on the gasoline side,” said Lynn Westfall, the chief economist at Tesoro.

At Valero, the nation’s largest independent refiner, first-quarter profit melted by 76 percent. Its refining capacity allows it to process heavier grades of crude oil that typically trade at a discount. Still, its profit dropped to $261 million in the first quarter compared with $1.1 billion last year.

Some consumer advocates say they are deeply suspicious about the behavior of refiners who are sharply cutting production at a time of record gasoline prices.

“They are not sitting in a boardroom and colluding, but they can see easily enough where their benefit lies, and it doesn’t lie in a price war,” said Judy Dugan, the research director at Consumer Watch. “In a truly competitive market, you might see some of these providers try to improve their market share by reducing prices. But this is not happening. They are all better off by restricting production to keep prices up.”

Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, said mergers in the 1990s had cut the number of refiners in the country and contributed to reduced competition in the refining market.

“We let them accumulate market power through the wave of mergers, and we’ve been paying the price in the last five years,” he said. “If there is a small number of players in the market, they learn from each other’s behavior.”

The demand for diesel has been one of the main drivers of oil demand in recent years. Diesel and other so-called middle distillates are used as transportation, power generation and industrial fuels.

In China, for example, oil imports have surged in recent weeks, a signal that the government is stockpiling oil and diesel in anticipation of the Olympic Games. Beijing, the International Energy Agency report said, is seeking to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing fuel shortages and power disruptions that plagued the country last year.


5) Felled mangrove trees may have doomed the coast of Myanmar
Scientific American
May 9, 2008

By cutting down 50,000 acres (20,235 hectares) of mangrove trees in the 1990s, and probably more since, Myanmar may have left itself much more vulnerable to last week's deadly Cyclone Nargis, according to Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. That shouldn't be surprising: A study appearing in Science in 2005 found that regions buffered by coastal vegetation sustain fewer deaths and less damage when they are swamped by inundations from strong storms or tsunamis, such as the one in December 2004. Roughly nine million acres (3.6 million hectares) of mangrove forests have been cleared worldwide since 1980, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). More than half of that loss took place in Asia, where trees are cleared to build fish and shrimp farms as well as resorts. According to Myanmar's minister for relief and resettlement, most of the deaths caused by Cyclone Nargis were due not to the 120 mile (190 kilometer) per hour winds, but to its storm surge—some of which the forests may have been able to absorb or at least moderate.


6) Belief in God 'childish,' Jews not chosen people: Einstein letter
May 13, 2008, 08:24 AM US/Eastern

The father of relativity, whose previously known views on religion
have been more ambivalent and fuelled much discussion, made the
comments in response to a philosopher in 1954.

As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish
people but said they "have no different quality for me than all other

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product
of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still
primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this," he
wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher
Eric Gutkind, cited by The Guardian newspaper.

The German-language letter is being sold Thursday by Bloomsbury
Auctions in Mayfair after being in a private collection for more than
50 years, said the auction house's managing director Rupert Powell.

In it, the renowned scientist, who declined an invitation to become
Israel's second president, rejected the idea that the Jews are God's
chosen people.

"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the
most childish superstitions," he said.

"And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose
mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me
than all other people."

And he added: "As far as my experience goes, they are no better than
other human groups, although they are protected from the worst
cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen'
about them."

Previously the great scientist's comments on religion -- such as
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind"
-- have been the subject of much debate, used notably to back up
arguments in favour of faith.

Powell said the letter being sold this week gave a clear reflection
of Einstein's real thoughts on the subject. "He's fairly unequivocal
as to what he's saying. There's no beating about the bush," he told


7) Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Thugs
[col. writ. 5/8/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

The scene is as common as sunlight: cops beating Black men in the streets.

This time, captured on videotape from a hovering helicopter, a malevolent swarm of cops pull occupants from a car, and then proceed to beat the paste out of the men, kicking, punching, and slamming with a club. At least 15 cops are seen in the broadcast beatdown; an average of 5 to 1.

Within moments of its broadcast came the predictable defense: cops in Philly are "stressed."

One need not even await such defenses anymore: just put a tape on speed dial, and repeat.

If ever there was irony, the three car occupants were charged with aggravated assault, and criminal conspiracy.

How much do you wanna bet that the cops, who were caught on film in the midst of aggravated assault, and as they committed the crime in common, criminal conspiracy, are never charged with these crimes -- and probably will never be arrested?

How can I dare make such a claim?

Well, I have plenty of practice.

Most folks flash back to the infamous Rodney King case, where cops in L.A. went into a whipping fit, because King tried to outrun them.

Were they too, stressed?

It also reminded me of the taped beating of Delbert Africa, a MOVE member who was beaten during the August 8th, 1978 police raid on MOVE's home.

These cops, too, were easily acquitted by explicit judicial decree.

If tape doesn't matter, what does?

In the case against three cops who rifle-butted, punched and kicked Delbert, the judge ignored the video tapes, and cited both Delbert's muscularity, and the claim of a Black TV reporter, who claimed she saw him armed --this, despite the tape showing him shirtless, empty hands opened, and naked from the waist up!

Prepare for the all but inevitable whitewash.

Look at that tape again, and you will see something that you'll see if you looked at a gang attack, for these are gangsters, pure and simple.

Only it's the Blue gang.

Welcome to Philadelphia: the city of brotherly thugs.

--(c) '08 maj


8) Colombia Extradites 14 Paramilitary Leaders
May 14, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela — Colombia extradited 14 jailed paramilitary leaders to the United States on Tuesday, in an effort by President Álvaro Uribe to take a hard line against the warlords and defuse a scandal that has tied them to senior lawmakers in the Colombian Congress and members of his own family.

The extraditions of so many paramilitary leaders at once was unprecedented in Colombia’s long history of trying to dismantle the hydra-headed syndicates that export cocaine to the United States. They come at a delicate moment for Colombia’s government, which is trying to win approval of a trade agreement with the United States.

Senior Democrats in Congress have opposed the trade deal, saying that Mr. Uribe has not made enough progress in curbing human rights abuses and prosecuting those responsible.

The extraditions seemed to indicate a new push by Mr. Uribe’s government to prevent the rearming of the paramilitary armies after years in which violence in Colombia’s internal war has waned.

The extraditions were carried out by surprise in the early hours of Tuesday with dozens of elite police officers gathering the men from three high-security prisons in Colombia. Interior Minister Carlos Holguín said the men were put aboard a plane in Bogotá bound for the United States, where they will face drug-trafficking charges.

“Most of the top bosses are there,” Mr. Holguín said, speaking on Colombian radio. “In some cases they were still committing crimes and reorganizing criminal structures.”

The extraditions are likely to add fodder not only to the fierce debate around the trade agreement, but also to the debate in Colombia about the best way to prosecute those accused of committing some of the worst atrocities in Colombia’s long war.

Human rights groups say the extraditions will put the warlords outside the reach of Colombia’s judicial system. While the men may now face lengthy sentences in the United States for drug-trafficking offenses, their crimes related to the war in Colombia may go unpunished, they said.

“These men are not going to be held accountable for the human rights violations they committed,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch. “Victims in Colombia will not be able to confront their tormentors and receive the reparations they deserve.”

Still, some of the men extradited to the United States could spend more time in prison in the United States on drug trafficking charges than they would in Colombia for their actions during the war. It was also clear that some warlords had effectively controlled their armies from prison, thwarting efforts to prevent a paramilitary resurgence.

Reports of an increase in extrajudicial slayings this year, in particular a rise in killings of union members, have plagued Mr. Uribe’s attempts to win approval of the trade deal in the United States Congress. In the past, paramilitaries were responsible for many of those killings, though it was unclear whether any of the extradited leaders were directly linked to the recent crimes.

In any case, the move by Mr. Uribe demonstrates a resolve to confront the paramilitaries despite a slow-burning scandal of revelations of ties to the militias that had ensnared the president’s political supporters, including top lawmakers and Mr. Uribe’s former intelligence chief.

“This is an astonishing move for Uribe, who is trying to demonstrate to the U.S. Congress that rumors of his ties to the paramilitaries are false,” said Bruce Bagley, an expert on the Andean drug war at the University of Miami. “This should go over well with the Democratic Congress.”

Still, perceptions of justice will depend on the sentences meted out. Mr. Bagley said human right groups would closely follow the sentencing, especially after moves by the Bush administration to reduce prison terms for top drug traffickers in exchange for information about the functioning of their networks.

American officials were vague as to whether prison sentences would be lenient or long. The Justice Department in Washington said in a statement that it had assured Colombia’s government that it would not seek life sentences for any of the defendants.

The paramilitary leaders extradited to the United States included a top warlord, Salvatore Mancuso, who oversaw atrocities like the massacre of 15 civilians and displacement of more than 600 people in 1997 in the town of El Aro, which has come to symbolize the path undertaken by the militias throughout the 1990s.

Mr. Uribe’s government, the Bush administration’s top ally in Latin America, has already extradited more than 700 Colombians to the United States since 2002. Most of those extraditions were of low-level operators in Colombia’s resilient cocaine trade.

Despite the disbursement of more than $600 million a year in aid from the United States to fight drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas, Colombia remains the world’s largest cocaine producer and the source of about 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States. Paramilitary leaders came to control many of the thriving drug syndicates.

Landowners established the private armies in the 1980s to combat the leftist insurgencies, but the paramilitaries eventually attained broad influence in Colombia’s economic and political structures. Disclosures of ties between the paramilitaries and prominent political supporters of Mr. Uribe have recently shaken the country.

For instance, Mr. Uribe’s cousin and close political collaborator, Mario Uribe, a former senator, was detained in April on charges of collaborating with the paramilitaries. And more than two dozen other members of the Colombian Congress have been arrested on claims of having similar ties.

Some of these revelations were obtained from the jailed warlords as part of a peace process that demobilized thousands of combatants in the private armies. That process is now thrown into doubt with these extraditions.

“The idea that the United States will require the paramilitaries to collaborate with the victims is a lie that is being sold to the country,” said Eduardo Bocanegra, the lawyer for Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, one of the extradited warlords.

“The reparations were not only monetary,” Mr. Bocanegra said. “They were also symbolic; the paramilitaries were providing information about the bodies found in mass graves.”

But Mr. Uribe said on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached for the proceeds obtained from fines and confiscations of property from the paramilitary leaders in the United States to go to Colombian victims or their families. “This is notice,” Mr. Uribe told reporters in Bogotá, “that the law must be respected.”

María Eugenia Díaz contributed reporting from Caracas, and Jenny Carolina González from Bogotá, Colombia.


9) Americans Taking Prescription Drugs in Greater Numbers
May 14, 2008

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- For the first time, it appears that more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems, a study shows.

The most widely used drugs are those to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol -- problems often linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The numbers were gathered last year by Medco Health Solutions Inc., which manages prescription benefits for about one in five Americans.

Experts say the data reflect not just worsening public health but better medicines for chronic conditions and more aggressive treatment by doctors. For example, more people are now taking blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medicines because they need them, said Dr. Daniel W. Jones, president of the American Heart Association.

In addition, there is the pharmaceutical industry's relentless advertising. With those factors unlikely to change, doctors say the proportion of Americans on chronic medications can only grow.

''Unless we do things to change the way we're managing health in this country ... things will get worse instead of getting better,'' predicted Jones, a heart specialist and dean of the University of Mississippi's medical school.

Americans buy much more medicine per person than any other country. But it was unclear how their prescriptions compare to those of insured people elsewhere. Comparable data were not available for Europe, for instance.

Medco's data show that last year, 51 percent of American children and adults were taking one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition, up from 50 percent the previous four years and 47 percent in 2001. Most of the drugs are taken daily, although some are needed less often.

The company examined prescription records from 2001 to 2007 of a representative sample of 2.5 million customers, from newborns to the elderly.

Medication use for chronic problems was seen in all demographic groups:

-- Almost two-thirds of women 20 and older.

-- One in four children and teenagers.

-- 52 percent of adult men.

-- Three out of four people 65 or older.

Among seniors, 28 percent of women and nearly 22 percent of men take five or more medicines regularly.

Karen Walker of Paterson, N.J., takes 18 prescription medicines daily for high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic back and shoulder pain, asthma and the painful muscle disorder fibromyalgia.

''The only way I can do it and keep my sanity ... is I use pill boxes'' to organize pills for each morning and night, said Walker, 57, a full-time nurse at an HIV clinic. Her 69-year-old husband, Charles, keeps his medicines lined up on his bureau: four pills for arthritis and heart disease, plus two inhalers for lung problems.

Dr. Robert Epstein, chief medical officer at Franklin Lakes, N.J.-based Medco, said he sees both bad news and good in the findings.

''Honestly, a lot of it is related to obesity,'' he said. ''We've become a couch potato culture (and) it's a lot easier to pop a pill'' than to exercise regularly or diet.

On the good side, he said, researchers have turned what used to be fatal diseases into chronic ones, including AIDS, some cancers, hemophilia and sickle-cell disease.

Yet Epstein noted the biggest jump in use of chronic medications was in the 20- to 44-year-old age group -- adults in the prime of life -- where it rose 20 percent over the six years. That was mainly due to more use of drugs for depression, diabetes, asthma, attention-deficit disorder and seizures.

Antidepressant use in particular jumped among teens and working-age women. Doctors attributed that to more stress in daily life and to family doctors, including pediatricians, being more comfortable prescribing newer antidepressants.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen's Health Research Group said the increased use of medications is partly because the most heavily advertised drugs are for chronic conditions, so most patients will take them for a long time. He also blames doctors for not spending the time to help patients lose weight and make other healthy changes before writing a prescription.

The study highlights a surge in children's use of medicines to treat weight-related problems and other illnesses previously considered adult problems. Medco estimates about 1.2 million American children now are taking pills for Type 2 diabetes, sleeping troubles and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn.

''A scarier problem is that body weights are so much higher in children in general, and so we're going to have larger numbers of adults who develop high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol or diabetes at an earlier age,'' said Jones, of the heart association.

Dr. Richard Gorman, an American Academy of Pediatrics expert on children's medicines, said more children are taking medicines for ''adult conditions'' partly because manufacturers now provide pediatric doses, liquid versions or at least information to determine the right amount for a child.

The Medco study found that among boys and girls under age 10, the most widely used medication switched from allergy drugs to asthma medicines between 2001 and 2007. Gorman said that's because over the last decade, asthma care has gone from treating flare-ups to using inhaled steroids regularly to prevent flare-ups and hospitalizations.


10) JROTC must go now
By Riva Enteen and Tommi Avicolli Mecca
San Francisco Bay Guardian
May 14, 2008

OPINION In November 2006, San Francisco made history when the school board made this the first big city in the nation to ban JROTC [Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps]. The board's resolution, which called for phasing out JROTC from high schools this June, stated that "JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm."

A poison pill was added to the resolution at the last minute: it called for a task force to be set up to find an "alternative" program to JROTC. The school district administration, in a particularly despicable move, set up the task force with more than 10 members supporting JROTC, and only one member opposed.

Surprise! After sitting for almost a year, the task force failed to come up with an alternative, so the school board rolled over and, except for two courageous members — Mark Sanchez and Eric Mar — voted last December to extend JROTC for another year.

In 2005, San Franciscans passed Proposition I by almost 60 percent, declaring it "city policy to oppose military recruiting in public schools." That same year, by the Army's own report, 42 percent of JROTC graduates across the nation signed up for the military. As this country enters its sixth year of the illegal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, it's time for the school board to go back to its original decision to kick the military out of our schools.

The school board must end JROTC — now. JROTC is currently scheduled to be "phased out," but not until June 2009. By then both Sanchez and Mar will be off the school board, and there will be little to prevent the military from orchestrating a vote to extend JROTC indefinitely. If, on the other hand, the school board votes to end JROTC this June as their original resolution required, JROTC would be gone.

Two progressives on the board must be convinced to send the military packing: Kim-Shree Maufas and Green Party member Jane Kim.

Both received endorsements from progressives. To convince them that they risk such endorsements in the future, the JROTC Must Go! Coalition is circulating the following statement: "We will look very closely at the next school board vote on JROTC and will consider the votes carefully when making any endorsements for future candidates."

Within a week, the Tenants Union, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and the San Francisco Bay View newspaper signed the statement. If Maufas and Kim join Sanchez and Mar, we'll make history again.

Riva Enteen is the former program director for the National Lawyers Guild and the mother of two San Francisco school district graduates. Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a southern Italian queer atheist writer and activist. For more information contact the JROTC Must Go! Coalition: (415) 575-5543,, or write:

—San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 14, 2008




Senate Revises Drug Maker Gift Bill
National Breifing | Washington
A revised Senate bill would require drug makers and medical device makers to publicly report gifts over $500 a year to doctors, watering down the standard set in a previous version. The new language was endorsed by the drug maker Eli Lilly & Company. Lawmakers said they hoped the support would prompt other companies to back the bill, which had previously required all gifts valued over $25 be reported. The industry says the gifts are part of its doctor education, but critics say such lavish gestures influence prescribing habits.
May 14, 2008

Texas: Sect Mother Is Not a Minor
National Briefing | Southwest
Child welfare officials conceded to a judge that a newborn’s mother, held in foster care as a minor after being removed from a polygamous sect’s ranch, is an adult. The woman, who gave birth on April 29, had been held along with more than 400 children taken last month from a ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was one of two pregnant sect members who officials had said were minors. The other member, who gave birth on Monday, may also be an adult, state officials said.
May 14, 2008

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




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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at:


[For some levity...Hans Groiner plays Monk]


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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


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


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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


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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

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

(scroll down when you get there])

SHOP: Articles at">


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