Saturday, March 15, 2008



Study Finds No Qaeda-Hussein Tie
WASHINGTON — There was no direct operational connection between Saddam Hussein’s government and Al Qaeda before the war in Iraq, says a Pentagon-sponsored study released Wednesday.
The report, by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally financed research institution, found “no smoking gun” after a review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that have come into American hands since the March 2003 invasion. Senior administration officials cited the existence of ties between Mr. Hussein and the terrorist network run by Osama bin Laden as a rationale for the invasion of Iraq.
While the report echoes findings of other independent analyses, it represents the most definitive assessment to date by the United States government.
Among other findings, the report said that Mr. Hussein’s government provided support to other regional and international terrorist operations.
March 14, 2008


Iraq: 5 Years too Many

Sunday, March 16, 5 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church
Franklin @ Geary, San Francisco

Speakers Include:

--Actor Sean Penn
--Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan
--Reverend Gregory Stewart

...and more peacemakers

Join us to remember American and Iraqi dead and wounded.
A time for reflection and renewal.

End the Iraq Occupation Now
Hold Responsible Those Who Started the War
No War In Iran

Suggested Donation: $5-$10.
No one turned away for lack of funds.

Event sponsored by:

The Iraq Moratorium, SF Bay Area
Unitarian Universalists for Peace
and other local peace groups.

More information at: 415-776-4580 and


On the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the
Founding Convention of the Peace and Freedom Party

The Peace & Freedom Party Presents a History Lesson

Sunday, March 16, 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
The Brava Center for the Arts
2781 24th Street (between York Street and Hampshire Street)
in San Francisco’s Mission District

GI Resistance During the War in Southeast Asia with
A special viewing of the documentary film: “Sir-No Sir!”


--R.G. Davis, founding Director of the San Francisco Mime Troupe
--Ralph Schoenmann, Co-Host of “Taking Aim” on KPFA
--Nathalie Hrizi, PFP Candidate for the House in the 12th CD
--David Ewing, GI resister during the War in Viet Nam

Other very special guests to be announced.



Help build the March 19th day of action!

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

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

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


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

March with us to demand:
No Military in our Schools!
Wednesday, March 19, 5 P.M.
Civic Center, San Francisco

Join with parents, teachers, students, and anti-war activists who demand that schools are for teaching about life skills, not military careers. Together we must demand that the San Francisco school board end JROTC at the end of this current school year, as they originally voted to do in 2006, but then, this year, caved in to Pentagon pressure and voted to extend JROTC for another year—reversing their original, well thought-out decision.

When in 2006, San Franciscans voted overwhelmingly to get the military out of our schools, the school board followed through with a strong resolution stating in part:

"The SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) has restricted the activities of military recruiters on our campuses...JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm; and...JROTC manifests the military's discrimination against LGBT people..."

It is legally and morally repugnant for the school district to continue to facilitate the military’s access to our students and become fixtures in our schools! As this illegal war in Iraq enters its 6th year, and a war with Iran looms ahead, JROTC must go NOW!

Contact JROTC Must Go!
(415) 575-5543

2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco
For more information on how you can become involved contact:
Bonnie Weinstein, (415) 824-8730
Nancy Macias, (415) 255-7296 ext. 229


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

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


Send a letter to the Board of Education

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

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

The reasons for phasing out JROTC are laid out very
clearly in the 2006 resolution.
(see below)

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Norman Yee

Hydra Mendoza

Eric Mar, Esq.

Kim-Shree Maufas

Jane Kim

Mark Sanchez

Jill Wynn

Norman Yee

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

Subject: Resolution No. 65-23A1


- Mark Sanchez and Dan Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Please Note:

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

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

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


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

List of Endorsers (below call):

Endorse the conference:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

List of Endorsers

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


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.

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


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

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

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


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


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


Organizational endorsements welcome. Please write to us at convention6@

For information on how to become part of the host committee, please write to convention6@

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

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

Until return,

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

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





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


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

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


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

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

Day-after demonstrations are also planned in:

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

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

For more information, contact: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,;
Partisan Defense Committee,;
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC),;


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

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




In 1995, mass mobilizations helped save Mumia from death.

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

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

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610




1) U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-41
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

2) Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring
March 10, 2008

3) Eminent Domain Measures on Ballot
"Proposition 98
What it would do: Prohibit state and local government from taking possession of private land and transferring it to a private party; would phase out rent control; would allow government to take property for public facilities.
Proposition 99
What it would do: Prohibit state and local government from using eminent domain to take a single-family home (including condominiums) to transfer it to another private party."
Tom Chorneau, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Monday, March 10, 2008 (SF Chronicle)

4) Sharing the Pain
Op-Ed Columnist
March 11, 2008

5) China’s Rate of Inflation Is Highest in 11 Years
March 11, 2008

6) Pollution Is Called a Byproduct of a ‘Clean’ Fuel
March 11, 2008

7) Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls
March 12, 2008

8) Arkansas Woman, Left in Cell, Goes 4 Days With No Food or Water
March 12, 2008

9) Effort to Prohibit Waterboarding Fails in House
March 12, 2008

10) Drawing Lots for Health Care
Bend Journal
March 13, 2008

11) U.S. Troops Kill Iraqi Girl; 3 Soldiers Die in Attack
March 13, 2008

12) Betting the Bank
Op-Ed Columnist
March 14, 2008

13) Palestinians Unite in Anger Against Israeli Attack
March 14, 2008

14) Cuba: Finally, Something to Buy
World Briefing | The Americas
March 14, 2008

15) Lilly E-Mail Discussed Off-Label Drug Use
March 14, 2008

16) Fed Chief Shifts Path, Inventing Policy in Crisis
March 16, 2008

17) C.I.A. Secretly Held Qaeda Suspect, Officials Say
March 15, 2008

18) In Alabama, a Crackdown on Pregnant Drug Users
March 15, 2008

19) Costs Surge for Stocking the Pantry
March 15, 2008


1) U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-41
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

We continue to await the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. I am in contact with the court, and will alert everyone immediately upon the issuance of a ruling. Oral argument was on May 17, 2007, thus people ask why the court is taking so long. This is a highly complex case involving issues of great constitutional significance and a voluminous amount of material. In three decades of successfully defending people in numerous murder cases involving the death penalty, I have not seen one more complicated.

It is impossible to know how the federal court will rule, but the briefing and arguments could not have gone better even though there have been problems due to mistakes by prior counsel. If the federal court follows the mandate of the U.S. Constitution, the decision should be favorable. However, Mumia's remains in jeopardy because courts are so unpredictable.

The pending issues, as set out in our federal briefing, are:

Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments because of the prosecutor's "appeal-after-appeal" argument which encouraged the jury to disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.

Whether the prosecution‚s use of peremptory challenges to exclude African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal's rights to due process and equal protection of the law under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, and contravened Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).

Whether the verdict form and jury instructions that resulted in the death penalty deprived Mr. Abu-Jamal of rights guaranteed by the Eight and Fourteenth Amendments to due process of law, equal protection of the law, and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and violated Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), since the judge precluded the jurors from considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on the existence of a particular circumstance.

Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments during post-conviction hearings as the result of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo which included the comment that he was "going to help'em fry the nigger."

There are many scenarios of how the federal court might rule. Among these are: (1) grant an entirely new jury trial; (2) order a new jury trial limited to the issue of life or death; (3) remand the case back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings; or (4) deny everything, thereby leaving the death judgment intact.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court For over two years we have been litigating issues in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding the prosecution falsely manipulating eyewitness testimony and fabricating evidence. Recently the court denied relief. (Commonwealth v. Abu-Jamal, ___ A.2d ___, 2008 WL 434567 (Pa. Feb. 19, 2008) .) Mumia and I talked just after the ruling on February 19, and I then issued the following public statement:

"Mumia and I had a long conference this afternoon, shortly after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made its ruling. We were not surprised since that court has a history of not addressing the racism and fraud that has dominated the prosecution since its inception over a quarter of a century ago. By dismissing the appeal on procedural grounds, the court avoided dealing with the compelling facts establishing that the prosecution of my client was based upon lies, half-truths, and bigotry. It is sad that the state court used possible mistakes of the previous lawyers in the case as an excuse to dodge the truth.

This state ruling has no bearing on the proceedings pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. If the federal decision is favorable, then the Pennsylvania Supreme Court judgment will be moot. Otherwise, I plan to seek relief in the U.S. Supreme Court. I will not rest until Mumia is free."

Germany On January 12, 2008, I spoke on behalf of Mumia at the annual Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin. As I concluded, the thousands in attendance gave a long and enthusiastic ovation. It was a nice tribute to my client who has become a symbol in the international struggle against the death penalty and human-rights abuses. Mumia asks that I convey his gratitude to the many good people in Germany who work so tirelessly for justice. These include especially his longtime German publisher and confidant Jürgen Heiser, the human-rights attorney Eberhard Schultz, Sabine Schubert, Petra Siemering, Victor Grossman, George and Doris Pumphrey, the distinguished actor Rolf Becker, the renowned Berlin filmmaker Thomas Giefer, the prominent writer Sabine Kebir, and German PEN.

France Professor Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol has written an excellent book, Mumia Abu-Jamal, un homme libre dans le couloir de la mort, which was published late last year. It has Mumia's endorsement, and has sold well. Claude has donated the proceeds from her book to help the defense of Mumia in our struggle for his freedom. The author represents the highest standard in the movement for she is totally committed to justice and the freedom of Mumia, and does not seek to exploit my client. Mumia expresses his gratitude to Claude, Jacky Hortaut, Mireille Mendes-France, Jacques Lederer, the Collectif Unitaire National de Soutien à Mumia Abu-Jamal, Senator Nicole Borvo Cohen-Seat, the Paris Bar, and the many others in France who have done so much.

England Mumia asked that I also thank Niki Adams, the legendary Selma James, and their colleagues at the Legal Action for Women, London, for their ongoing work on behalf of justice not only in England but throughout the world. I am particularly indebted for their extraordinary commitment that has resulted in programs on Mumia in the Inns of Court and other British venues, a petition for justice and a new trial signed by over 100 prominent lawyers there, and drawning public attention to the injustice in this case. And, of course, the efforts of Ian Mcdonald QC, Garden Court North Chambers, an outstanding barrister and friend, have been significant.

In Prison My Whole Life, British film The new documentary film on Mumia, In Prison My Whole Life, has been shown at a number of prestigious film festivals, e.g., International Film Festival & Forum on Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland; Sundance Film Festival; Belfast Film Festival; London Film Festival; Rome Film Festival; Copenhagen International Film Festival; Dublin International Film Festival. It was also recently screened by members of the House of Commons, London. Mumia and I are grateful to Colin and Livia Firth, and their associates, for having the courage to make this extraordinary film. They have my full support and that of my client, for this worthwhile film which deals with the larger issues of the death penalty, racism and injustice.

Donations in the United States for Mumia's Legal Defense With Mumia's authorization, a process exists which guarantees that U.S. donations go only to the legal defense, and are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left), and mailed to:
Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012

New York, NY 10159-2012
Conclusion The issues in this case concern the right to a fair trial, the struggle against the death penalty, and the political repression of a courageous writer and journalist. My goal is to win a new and fair trial for Mumia, and a jury acquittal upon his retrial. I want him to go home to his family. Nevertheless, Mumia is in great danger, for if all is lost he will be executed. We must never forget that racism, fraud, and politics are threads that have run through this case since the beginning and continue today.

Your interest is appreciated.

Cordially yours,
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-41
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


2) Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring
March 10, 2008

ALBANY - Gov. Eliot Spitzer has informed his most senior administration officials that he had been involved in a prostitution ring, an administration official said this morning.

Mr. Spitzer, who was huddled with his top aides inside his Fifth Avenue apartment early this afternoon, had hours earlier abruptly canceled his scheduled public events for the day. He scheduled an announcement for 2:15 after inquiries from the Times.

Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat who pledged to bring ethics reform and end the often seamy ways of Albany, is married with three children.

Just last week, federal prosecutors arrested four people in connection with an expensive prostitution operation. Administration officials would not say that this was the ring with which the governor had become involved.

But a person with knowledge of the governor’s role said that the person believes the governor is one of the men identified as clients in court papers.

The governor’s travel records show that he was in Washington in mid-February. One of the clients described in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, the Emperors Club VIP on the night of Feb. 13.

Mr. Spitzer appeared on a CNBC television show at 7 a.m. the next morning. Later in the morning, he testified before a Congressional committee.

An affidavit filed in federal court in Manhattan in connection with that case lists six conversations between the man, identified as Client 9, and a booking agent for the Emperors Club.

He had a difficult first year in office, rocked by a mix of scandal and legislative setbacks. In recent weeks, however, Mr. Spitzer seemed to have rebounded, with his Democratic party poised to perhaps gain control of the state Senate for the first time in four decades.

Mr. Spitzer gained national attention when he served as attorney general with his relentless pursuit of Wall Street wrongdoing. As attorney general, he also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

“”This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multitiered management structure,” Mr. Spitzer said at the time. ”It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring.”

Albany for months has been roiled by bitter fighting and accusations of dirty tricks. The Albany County district attorney is set to issue in the coming days the results of his investigation into Mr. Spitzer’s first scandal, his aides’ involvement in an effort to tarnish Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, the state’s top Republican.


3) Eminent Domain Measures on Ballot
"Proposition 98
What it would do: Prohibit state and local government from taking possession of private land and transferring it to a private party; would phase out rent control; would allow government to take property for public facilities.
Proposition 99
What it would do: Prohibit state and local government from using eminent domain to take a single-family home (including condominiums) to transfer it to another private party."
Tom Chorneau, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Monday, March 10, 2008 (SF Chronicle)

Celebrity developer Donald Trump stirred controversy last year with his plan to build an upscale golf community in Fresno that would have required the city to use eminent domain to help him get all the land he needed.

Fresno officials backed down, even though government's authority to condemn privately owned land for the use of another private buyer has been on the books for many years and was reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

On June 3, California voters will decide two ballot measures that would restrict government's use of eminent domain for private purposes - and one of them goes much further, eliminating rent controls in cities including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose.

Eminent domain is the power state and local governments have to take possession of private property for the public good. In its most common application, private landowners are given market value for their property that might be needed for things such as a highway expansion, a public building or installing utility lines.

In its ruling three years ago in the case of Kelo vs. City of New London, the nation's highest court said the power of eminent domain included the authority to take private land without consent of the owner for the express purpose of reselling that land to another private party.

The case involved members of a Connecticut family forced out of their home to make way for a privately sponsored development plan. The court said the taking was justified because eventually the new development would add to the local tax base.

Fearing similar confrontations in California, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association led an effort to qualify Proposition 98 for the June ballot. California voters narrowly rejected a similar measure in 2006.
Rental control targeted

Prop. 98 would not only prohibit state and local governments from taking private land and transferring it to another private party - but it would also phase out rent control ordinances and, some critics said, would undermine general land-use zoning and environmental protections.

Saying the Jarvis measure had a hidden agenda, a coalition led by the California League of Cities has qualified Proposition 99 for the June election. The competing measure would simply prohibit government from using eminent domain to take a single-family home to help a private landowner.

Prop. 99 is written so that if it receives more votes than its rival, it would become law - even if a majority of voters also supports Prop. 98.

Supporters of Prop. 99 said the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision raised an issue that needs to be addressed - but not the way Prop. 98 would solve the problem.

"The Kelo decision was about taking someone's home," said Tom Adams, president of the California League of Conservation Voters. "We believe that voters in California want clean, straightforward protection for residents (but) not having other issues being hijacked into eminent domain."

Jarvis group sees threat

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the Kelo decision poses a threat to landowners. If approved, Prop. 98 would still allow government to condemn land for public projects like schools, roads and parks.

But Coupal fears that if Prop. 99 is adopted, government officials will find ways to acquire private property for private use using other methods, such as increasing the use of rent controls. He said Prop. 98 is aimed at closing all the loopholes - including rent control.

Supporters of Prop. 98 contend that rent control is one way government officials could undermine private property rights. Coupal said government officials must be prohibited from imposing price restrictions on the sale or lease of private property.

If Prop. 98 is approved, it would eliminate rent control ordinances in at least 17 California cities. Much of the financial support for the Prop. 98 campaign has come from owners of mobile home parks and apartment owner groups, who together have contributed about $2 million.

Supporters of Prop. 99 include a long list of renter groups, including the San Francisco Tenants Union, Housing California and the Coalition to Protect California Renters.

Adams said Prop. 98 might also be interpreted to restrict laws that protect development of natural areas and laws that restrict pollution, which is why environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, California League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council are backing the competing measure.

Fresno officials reluctant

Officials in Fresno were reluctant last year to use their eminent domain powers to seize private property to help billionaire Trump move forward with his 480-acre Running Horse development.

"Eminent domain has its place," said Brian Calhoun, a member of the Fresno City Council. "We use it to help with road constructions and public housing. It's a tool to deal with recalcitrant landowners.

"But when it came to using that power to help Mr. Trump build a private golf course - I just couldn't see it. It just wasn't defensible."
Property rights initiatives

Voters June 3 will be asked to consider two ballot measures intended to curb government's use of eminent domain. If Proposition 99 receives more votes than its rival, it becomes law.

Proposition 98

What it would do: Prohibit state and local government from taking possession of private land and transferring it to a private party; would phase out rent control; would allow government to take property for public facilities.

Proposition 99

What it would do: Prohibit state and local government from using eminent domain to take a single-family home (including condominiums) to transfer it to another private party.

Sources: Legislative analyst; secretary of state.
To get involved

To learn more about Proposition 98's impact on rent control in San Francisco, a Save Rent Control convention will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Main Library, Grove and Larkin streets.

E-mail Tom Chorneau at


4) Sharing the Pain
Op-Ed Columnist
March 11, 2008

Now that the economic crunch is reaching those near the top of the pyramid, there is finally a sense that the U.S. is facing a real crisis.

Forget about a soft landing. The stock markets continue to tumble. The dollar has weakened. The subprime mortgage debacle has morphed into a full-fledged panic. And Joe Stiglitz is telling us the war in Iraq will cost $3 trillion.

Maybe now we can stop listening to the geniuses who insisted that the way to nirvana was to ignore the broad national interest while catering to the desires of those who were already the wealthiest among us.

We have always gotten a distorted picture of how well Americans were doing from politicians and the media. The U.S. has a population of 300 million. Thirty-seven million, many of them children, live in poverty. Close to 60 million are just one notch above the official poverty line. These near-poor Americans live in households with annual incomes that range from $20,000 to $40,000 for a family of four.

It is disgraceful that in a nation as wealthy as the United States, nearly a third of the people are poor or near-poor.

Former Senator John Edwards touched on the quality of the lives of those perched precariously above the abyss of poverty in his foreword to the book, “The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near-Poor in America,” by Katherine S. Newman and Victor Tan Chen. Mr. Edwards wrote:

“When we set about fixing welfare in the 1990s, we said we were going to encourage work. Near-poor Americans do work, usually in jobs that the rest of us do not want — jobs with stagnant wages, no retirement funds, and inadequate health insurance, if they have it at all. While their wages stay the same, the cost of everything else — energy, housing, transportation, tuition — goes up.”

The economic pain and anxiety felt for so long by the poor and the near-poor has been spreading like a stain in the middle class as well. It’s hardly been a secret. But neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have stepped up to this fundamental long-term challenge, and that includes the three remaining candidates for president.

No one will tackle the crucial issue of employment in a serious way. The cornerstone of a middle-class life in America (and that means the cornerstone of the American dream) is a good job. The American dream is on life support because men and women by the millions who want very much to work — who still have in their heads the ideal of a thriving family in a nice home with maybe a picket fence — are unable to find a decent job.

For years, families have been fighting weakness on the employment front with every other option imaginable. Wives and mothers have gone to work. People have been putting in more hours and working additional jobs.

And Americans have plunged like Olympic diving champions into every form of debt they could find.

As Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, told me some months ago: “Workers are incredibly, legitimately scared that the American dream, particularly the belief that their kids will do better, is ending.”

It is. The dream is in grave danger because the ruling elite stopped looking out for the collective interests of the society and all but stopped investing in the future. We are swimming in a vast sea of indebtedness, most of it bringing no worthwhile return.

Former Senator Bill Bradley, in a conversation the other day, described the amount of public and private indebtedness in the U.S. as “ominous.” In his book, “The New American Story,” Mr. Bradley said:

“For almost a generation, America has cheated our future and lived only in the here and now. Economic growth depends on the level of investment in both physical capital — machines, infrastructure, technology — and human capital, which consists of the combined skills and health of our work force.”

Instead of making those investments, we’ve neglected our physical and human infrastructure, squeezed the daylights out of the work force (now a fearful and demoralized lot) and tried to hide the resulting debacle behind the fool’s gold of debt and denial.

Americans save virtually nothing. They have looted the equity in their homes and driven their credit card balances to staggering heights. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has claimed colossal new standards of fiscal irresponsibility. At some point, to take just one example, someone will have to pay the $3 trillion for the war.

This craziness is not sustainable.

Without an educated and empowered work force, without sustained investment in the infrastructure and technologies that foster long-term employment, and without a system of taxation that can actually pay for the services provided by government, the American dream as we know it will expire.

David Brooks is off today.


5) China’s Rate of Inflation Is Highest in 11 Years
March 11, 2008

HONG KONG — Consumer prices in China surged to a 8.7 percent annual rate in February from a 7.1 percent rate in January, the fastest pace of increase in more than 11 years, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday morning.

Food prices were the biggest contributor, up 23.3 percent from February of last year. Snowstorms in China damaged harvests and interfered with food deliveries to cities, while rising global commodity prices made imports more expensive.

“The current price hikes and increasing inflationary pressures are the biggest concern of the people,” Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in a speech last Wednesday.

The Chinese government imposed complex price controls in January on a range of farm products, like cooking oil and grain. In a speech on Sunday, President Hu Jintao of China urged local governments to maintain stable prices for vegetables and other perishables, which suffered particular losses during the storms.

But some economists saw the consumer price index’s acceleration in February as a sign of a broader problem in China that could be harder to fix.

The Chinese government has been issuing vast sums of Chinese currency each week so as to buy up dollars from the country’s trade surplus and investment inflows, while Chinese banks have been lending aggressively, creating a surge in circulating money.

“While we believe the snowstorm contributed to the high February reading, we believe that rapid money supply growth has been the main driver of high and rising inflation,” said Yu Song and Hong Liang, two Goldman Sachs economists, in a research note.

China announced separately on Monday that producer prices were up 6.6 percent in February from a year earlier, compared with 6.1 percent in January.


6) Pollution Is Called a Byproduct of a ‘Clean’ Fuel
March 11, 2008

MOUNDVILLE, Ala. — After residents of the Riverbend Farms subdivision noticed that an oily, fetid substance had begun fouling the Black Warrior River, which runs through their backyards, Mark Storey, a retired petroleum plant worker, hopped into his boat to follow it upstream to its source.

It turned out to be an old chemical factory that had been converted into Alabama’s first biodiesel plant, a refinery that intended to turn soybean oil into earth-friendly fuel.

“I’m all for the plant,” Mr. Storey said. “But I was really amazed that a plant like that would produce anything that could get into the river without taking the necessary precautions.”

But the oily sheen on the water returned again and again, and a laboratory analysis of a sample taken in March 2007 revealed that the ribbon of oil and grease being released by the plant — it resembled Italian salad dressing — was 450 times higher than permit levels typically allow, and that it had drifted at least two miles downstream.

The spills, at the Alabama Biodiesel Corporation plant outside this city about 17 miles from Tuscaloosa, are similar to others that have come from biofuel plants in the Midwest. The discharges, which can be hazardous to birds and fish, have many people scratching their heads over the seeming incongruity of pollution from an industry that sells products with the promise of blue skies and clear streams.

“Ironic, isn’t it?” said Barbara Lynch, who supervises environmental compliance inspectors for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “This is big business. There’s a lot of money involved.”

Iowa leads the nation in biofuel production, with 42 ethanol and biodiesel refineries in production and 18 more plants under construction, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. In the summer of 2006, a Cargill biodiesel plant in Iowa Falls improperly disposed of 135,000 gallons of liquid oil and grease, which ran into a stream killing hundreds of fish.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, a trade group, biodiesel is nontoxic, biodegradable and suitable for sensitive environments, but scientists say that position understates its potential environmental impact.

“They’re really considered nontoxic, as you would expect,” said Bruce P. Hollebone, a researcher with Environment Canada in Ottawa and one of the world’s leading experts on the environmental impact of vegetable oil and glycerin spills.

“You can eat the stuff, after all,” Mr. Hollebone said. “But as with most organic materials, oil and glycerin deplete the oxygen content of water very quickly, and that will suffocate fish and other organisms. And for birds, a vegetable oil spill is just as deadly as a crude oil spill.”

Other states have also felt the impact.

Leanne Tippett Mosby, a deputy division director of environmental quality for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said she was warned a year ago by colleagues in other states that biodiesel producers were dumping glycerin, the main byproduct of biodiesel production, contaminated with methanol, another waste product that is classified as hazardous.

Glycerin, an alcohol that is normally nontoxic, can be sold for secondary uses, but it must be cleaned first, a process that is expensive and complicated. Expanded production of biodiesel has flooded the market with excess glycerin, making it less cost-effective to clean and sell.

Ms. Tippett Mosby did not have to wait long to see the problem. In October, an anonymous caller reported that a tanker truck was dumping milky white goop into Belle Fountain Ditch, one of the many man-made channels that drain Missouri’s Bootheel region. That substance turned out to be glycerin from a biodiesel plant.

In January, a grand jury indicted a Missouri businessman in the discharge, which killed at least 25,000 fish and wiped out the population of fat pocketbook mussels, an endangered species.

Back in Alabama, Nelson Brooke of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Black Warrior River and its tributaries, received a report in September 2006 of a fish kill that stretched 20 miles downstream from Moundville. Even though Mr. Brooke said he found oil in the water around the dead fish, the state Department of Environmental Management determined that natural, seasonal changes in oxygen levels in the water could have been the culprit. The agency did not charge Alabama Biodiesel.

In August, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, in a complaint filed in Federal District Court, documented at least 24 occasions when oil was spotted in the water near the plant.

Richard Campo, vice president of Alabama Biodiesel, did not respond to requests for an interview, but Clay A. Tindal, a Tuscaloosa lawyer representing the refinery, called the suit’s claims “sheer speculation, conjecture, and unsupported bald allegations.” Mr. Tindal said that “for various reasons,” the plant was not now producing fuel.

The company has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it has entered into a settlement agreement with state officials that requires it to pay a $12,370 fine and to obtain proper discharge permits.

Don Scott, an engineer for the National Biodiesel Board, acknowledges that some producers have had problems complying with environmental rules but says those violations have been infrequent in an industry that nearly doubled in size in one year, to 160 plants in the United States at the end of 2007 from 90 plants at the end of 2006.

Mr. Scott said that the board had been working with state and environmental agencies to educate member companies and that the troubles were “growing pains.”

Ms. Lynch said some of the violations were the result of an industry that was inexperienced in the manufacturing process and its wastes. But in other instances, she said, companies are skirting the permit process to get their plants up and running faster.

“Our fines are only so high,” Ms. Lynch said. “It’s build first, permit second.”

In October 2005, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management informed Alabama Biodiesel that it would need an individual pollution discharge permit to operate, but the company never applied for one. The company operated for more than a year without a permit and without facing any penalties from state regulators, though inspectors documented unpermitted discharges on two occasions.

For some, the troubles of the industry seem to outweigh its benefits.

“They’re environmental Jimmy Swaggarts, in my opinion,” said Representative Brian P. Bilbray, Republican of California, who spoke out against the $18 billion energy package recently passed by Congress that provides tax credits for biofuels. “What is being sold as green fuel just doesn’t pencil out.”


7) Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls
March 12, 2008

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly half the African-Americans in the study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study — human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite.

The 50 percent figure compared with 20 percent of white teenagers, health officials and researchers said at a news conference at a scientific meeting in Chicago.

The two most common sexually transmitted diseases, or S.T.D.’s, among all the participants tested were HPV, at 18 percent, and chlamydia, at 4 percent, according to the analysis, part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Each disease can be serious in its own way. HPV, for example, can cause cancer and genital warts.

Among the infected women, 15 percent had more than one of the diseases.

Women may be unaware they are infected. But the diseases, which are infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, can produce acute symptoms like irritating vaginal discharge, painful pelvic inflammatory disease and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. The infections can also lead to longterm ailments like infertility and cervical cancer.

The survey tested for specific HPV strains linked to genital warts and cervical cancer.

Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the findings underscored the need to strengthen screening, vaccination and other prevention measures for the diseases, which are among the highest public health priorities.

About 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year among all age groups in the United States.

“High S.T.D. infection rates among young women, particularly young African-American women, are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk,” said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., who directs the centers’ division of S.T.D. prevention.

The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, said the new findings “emphasize the need for real comprehensive sex education.”

“The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

Although earlier annual surveys have tested for a single sexually transmitted disease in a specified population, this is the first time the national study has collected data on all the most common sexual diseases in adolescent women at the same time. It is also the first time the study measured human papillomavirus.

Dr. Douglas said that because the new survey was based on direct testing, it was more reliable than analyses derived from data that doctors and clinics sent to the diseases center through state and local health departments.

“What we found is alarming,” said Dr. Sara Forhan, a researcher at the centers and the lead author of the study.

Dr. Forhan added that the study showed “how fast the S.T.D. prevalence appears.”

“Far too many young women are at risk for the serious health effects of untreated S.T.D.’s, ” she said.

The centers conducts the annual study, which asks a representative sample of the household population a wide range of health questions. The analysis was based on information collected in the 2003-4 survey.

Extrapolating from the findings, Dr. Forhan said 3.2 million teenage women were infected with at least one of the four diseases.

The 838 participants in the study were chosen at random with standard statistical techniques. Of the women asked, 96 percent agreed to submit vaginal swabs for testing.

The findings and specific treatment recommendations were available to the participants calling a password-protected telephone line. Three reminders were sent to participants who did not call.

Health officials recommend treatment for all sex partners of individuals diagnosed with curable sexually transmitted diseases. One promising approach to reach that goal is for doctors who treat infected women to provide or prescribe the same treatment for their partners, Dr. Douglas said. The goal is to encourage men who may not have a physician or who have no symptoms and may be reluctant to seek care to be treated without a doctor’s visit.

He also urged infected women to be retested three months after treatment to detect possible reinfection and to treat it.

Dr. Forhan said she did not know how many participants received their test results.

Federal health officials recommend annual screening tests to detect chlamydia for sexually active women younger than 25. The disease agency also recommends that women ages 11 to 26 be fully vaccinated against HPV.

The Food and Drug Administration has said in a report that latex condoms are “highly effective” at preventing infection by chlamydia, trichomoniasis, H.I.V., gonorrhea and hepatitis B.

The agency noted that condoms seemed less effective against genital herpes and syphilis. Protection against human papillomavirus “is partial at best,” the report said.


8) Arkansas Woman, Left in Cell, Goes 4 Days With No Food or Water
March 12, 2008

A woman was locked for four days in a tiny holding cell in a northern Arkansas courthouse, forgotten by the authorities and left without food or water, the local Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.

The woman, Adriana Torres-Flores, 38, a longtime illegal immigrant from Mexico, slept on the floor with only a shoe for a pillow, and with nothing to drink except her own urine, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. There was no bathroom in the cell.

A bailiff had apparently forgotten that he placed Ms. Torres-Flores, a mother of three, in the cell last Thursday, and simply left her in the empty courthouse, in Fayetteville, over the weekend, said the chief deputy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Jay Cantrell. A snowstorm meant that there were far fewer people than usual working at the courthouse on Friday.

“He just flat forgot about her,” Mr. Cantrell said, adding that the bailiff, Jarrod Hankins, had been placed on administrative leave, having been on the job a few months. “It was just a horrible mistake,” Mr. Cantrell said.

When the bailiff opened the door of the cell on Monday, Ms. Torres-Flores was lying on the floor, the deputy said. The cell typically holds prisoners for no more than an hour, measures 9 feet by 10 feet and contains only a metal table with benches that swing out from it. It has a steel door and concrete walls.

“From what I understand — it sounds horrible to say — it was an oversight,” said Nathan Lewis, Ms. Torres-Flores’s lawyer. “No one is walking around there Friday, and she just got left in there over the weekend.”

“There’s no water, there’s no food,” Mr. Lewis added. “She basically said it was really bad.”

She was taken to a hospital and treated, and is now recovering at home, Mr. Lewis said, “very worn out from the whole ordeal.”

Ms. Torres-Flores has been in the United States for 19 years, and her children were born here, though she is in the country illegally, said her immigration lawyer, Roy Petty. Mr. Petty said she had been among numerous people arrested at a flea market on charges related to the sale of pirated DVDs and CDs.

She went to court Thursday for a hearing on a plea agreement over the charges, but decided to plead not guilty. She was then placed in the holding cell for transfer to the county jail, since the new plea was contrary to the terms of her original release on bond. Instead, she was forgotten.

“Everybody is backing away from it as fast as they can,” Mr. Petty said. “Frankly, that’s how they treat Hispanics down here. They treat Hispanics like cattle, like less than human.”

Mr. Cantrell, the deputy, said there would be an investigation. “There was no malicious intent,” he said. “The whole thing is terrible.”

In Little Rock, Rita Sklar, executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Arkansas, said the organization was very concerned.

“There certainly have been a lot of problems in that corner of the state, in terms of police treatment of Latinos and bigoted statements by government officials,” Ms. Sklar said. “We’re looking into the general problem in northwest Arkansas of racial profiling and abuse of power.”


9) Effort to Prohibit Waterboarding Fails in House
March 12, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Tuesday failed to overturn President Bush’s veto of legislation that would have prohibited the Central Intelligence Agency from using waterboarding, which simulates drowning, on terrorism suspects.

The measure would have limited the agency to 19 techniques approved in the Army field manual on interrogation. The Army rules ban the use of waterboarding.

The C.I.A. director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, has confirmed that the agency used the technique on three terrorist suspects in 2002 and 2003.

The House roll call was 225 to 188, or 51 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to override a veto. Mr. Bush has vetoed seven bills and has been overridden only once.

The interrogation limits were part of the first intelligence authorization bill produced by Congress in three years.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, framed the vote as a human rights referendum, saying, “This is about torture.”

The ranking Republican on the committee, however, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, called the measure “ill-advised” and said it was like giving terrorists the American “playbook” on interrogation.

Mr. Bush said his veto on Saturday was not specifically about waterboarding but about wanting the C.I.A. to have the flexibility to use legal and effective interrogation methods that were not part of the Army regulations.

“I cannot sign into law a bill that would prevent me, and future presidents, from authorizing the C.I.A. to conduct a separate, lawful intelligence program, and from taking all lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack,” Mr. Bush said in a statement.


10) Drawing Lots for Health Care
Bend Journal
March 13, 2008

BEND, Ore. — Last month, right after he had the heart attack and then the heart surgery and then started receiving the medical bills that so far have topped $200,000, Melvin Tsosies joined the 91,000 other residents of Oregon who had signed up for a lottery that provides health insurance to people who lack it.

“They said they’re going to draw names, and if I’m on that list, then I’ll get health care,” said Mr. Tsosies, 58, a handyman here in booming Deschutes County. “So I’m just waiting right now.”

Despite the great hopes of people like Mr. Tsosies, only a few thousand of Oregon’s 600,000 uninsured residents are likely to benefit from the lottery anytime soon. The program has only enough money to pay for about 24,000 people, and at least 17,000 slots are already filled.

“Maybe we can hope that as time goes on,” said Jim Edge, the state Medicaid director, “there will be state money added back to this program and it can grow again.”

The challenge of providing health care in Oregon, once a trailblazer in the field but now facing soaring numbers of uninsured, is vivid here on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range. About 19 percent of the 150,000 people in Deschutes County are uninsured, compared with about 16 percent statewide and nationally.

The region has roared with development in recent years, driven by wealthy retirees and transplants from California who have turned old ranching outposts like Bend into stark counterpoints in comfort and struggle.

The area has been dependent on seasonal and service workers who do landscaping and construction, on single mothers who wait tables and on Hispanic immigrants who might come to work one farming season in a town like Madras, up the road, but stay after finding other jobs that often offer no health care benefits. A recent slowdown in construction work has made it even harder for some workers to pay for health care

“There’s so much need that there’s really no way you can meet it,” said Chris Coon, the outreach manager for the Community Clinic of Bend and the two other clinics that make up the nonprofit Ochoco Health Systems.

“Using a random process to decide who gets health care is a sign of profound desperation,” Mr. Coon said of the lottery in an e-mail message after an interview in his office here.

The lottery was born out of a consensus among state officials and advocacy groups that small steps can help. As part of the state’s Medicaid program, known as the Oregon Health Plan, the lottery is intended for low-income adults who lack private insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. Although the plan once served more than 100,000 people, budget cuts in 2004 reduced the number to about 17,000.

State officials now say they can expand the program to serve 24,000 residents. Because more than 130,000 of the 600,000 uninsured in the state meet the program’s criteria on income, age and other factors, the question became how to choose fairly the few thousand new enrollees.

“We thought about other options, such as should we try to pick all of the sickest people or the kids or the people with cancer or heart disease,” Mr. Edge said. “But the Feds won’t allow that, and there’s just no way to guarantee the fairness of that. Why would cancer be more deserving than heart disease?”

The state led a promotional effort that culminated with a one-month window, ending in late February, in which people who wanted to be considered for the program had to submit basic information. Of the more than 91,000 who have asked to enroll, about 3,000 initially will receive applications based on a computer selection. Those applications will then be reviewed for eligibility. Mr. Edge said more applications would be distributed over the coming months in batches of 3,000 until the program reached an average of 24,000 participants.

Oregon once sought to serve a far larger population of those in need.

It has been more than a decade since the innovative Oregon Health Plan became a forerunner of state health care reform as it pursued universal health coverage. Conceived on a restaurant napkin in the late 1980s, the program had by 1996 reduced the number of the uninsured to about 11 percent of all residents, down from more than 18 percent in 1992. But then, early in this decade, the state endured a wrenching recession.

“Oregon was way ahead of everyone else,” said Charla DeHate, the interim executive director of Ochoco Health Systems. “And then we went broke.”

Late this year, a special state board plans to present an outline for how to put Oregon back on the path to universal health coverage as similar efforts in other states continue to meet political and financial obstacles.

Barney Speight, who is director of the board, was present when the rough outlines of the Oregon Health Plan were sketched out. Mr. Speight said that many of the dynamics present two decades ago were present today, including a slowing economy and declining state revenues. But he said the challenge was even greater now because health care costs were rising at a greater rate than they were then.

“I think we still have to aspire to great goals,” Mr. Speight said, “but I think we have to temper that with a dose of reality.”


11) U.S. Troops Kill Iraqi Girl; 3 Soldiers Die in Attack
March 13, 2008

BAGHDAD — American soldiers accidentally shot and killed a young Iraqi girl in Diyala Province on Wednesday, and three soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in the southeast, as a wave of deadly violence continued.

The military said soldiers in Diyala fired a warning shot near “a suspicious woman who appeared to be signaling to someone.” They then found the girl, whose age was not released, with a gunshot wound. She was given medical treatment but died on the way to a hospital. Military officials, who referred to the shooting as “an escalation of force incident,” said improvised explosive devices had recently been found in the region where the shooting occurred.

The deaths of the three soldiers in an early morning attack on a base near Nasiriya brought to 12 the number of American soldiers killed over three days.

Five soldiers on foot patrol died Monday in a suicide bombing in a busy shopping district of central Baghdad. Three died the same day in a bombing in Diyala Province. Another was killed Tuesday by an improvised explosive device while on combat patrol near Diwaniya.

“This has unquestionably been a tough few days,” a military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, said in a news conference on Wednesday

“And despite the gains of the past several months,” he added, “we have additional work to do.”

Statistics released by the federal government this week indicate that after dropping significantly last fall, the level of violence remained essentially stable from November through early this year, with an average of about 60 insurgent attacks a day in January.

Maj. Nasir al-Majidi, a spokesman for the Iraqi police in Nasiriya, said that in the attack on Wednesday, six 122-millimeter rockets were launched about 6 a.m. at Combat Outpost Adder. The rockets were fired from a nearby area called Albu Faiad, which has many fruit orchards.

Major Majidi said security forces located the launching site and defused six other rockets and two improvised explosive devices set there as a trap. The base was the target of a similar rocket attack a week ago, he said.

In Basra, in the south, a dispute arose between American military officials and family members of 16 Iraqi bus passengers who were killed Tuesday on a highway between Nasiriya and Basra.

The military has said that the passengers died when an explosively formed penetrator, or E.F.P., detonated. A convoy of American soldiers was passing on the highway in the other direction at the time of the explosion, the military said.

“The E.F.P. was facing the southbound lane and was aimed directly into the bus,” said a statement released by the military. “The copper splash from the E.F.P. indicates that the bus was hit.”

Family members, who demonstrated Wednesday outside the provincial council’s office, said the convoy began firing on the bus after the explosion. A passenger on the bus, Qasim Salih Jaber, also said that when the bomb detonated, the convoy fired.

Asked Wednesday about the attack, General Bergner said the troops “did not open fire in connection with that incident.” He did say the military was working with the Iraqi security forces “to learn whatever we can about the specifics of the attack.”

Major Majidi said 13 adults and 3 children had been killed. But accounts from witnesses said up to 6 children had been killed.

Mudhafer al-Husaini and Ahmed Fadam contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Basra and Nasiriya.


12) Betting the Bank
Op-Ed Columnist
March 14, 2008

Four years ago, an academic economist named Ben Bernanke co-authored a technical paper that could have been titled “Things the Federal Reserve Might Try if It’s Desperate” — although that may not have been obvious from its actual title, “Monetary Policy Alternatives at the Zero Bound: An Empirical Investigation.”

Today, the Fed is indeed desperate, and Mr. Bernanke, as its chairman, is putting some of the paper’s suggestions into effect. Unfortunately, however, the Bernanke Fed’s actions — even though they’re unprecedented in their scope — probably won’t be enough to halt the economy’s downward spiral.

And if I’m right about that, there’s another implication: the ugly economics of the financial crisis will soon create some ugly politics, too.

To understand what’s going on, you have to know a bit about how monetary policy usually operates.

The Fed’s economic power rests on the fact that it’s the only institution with the right to add to the “monetary base”: pieces of green paper bearing portraits of dead presidents, plus deposits that private banks hold at the Fed and can convert into green paper at will.

When the Fed is worried about the state of the economy, it basically responds by printing more of that green paper, and using it to buy bonds from banks. The banks then use the green paper to make more loans, which causes businesses and households to spend more, and the economy expands.

This process can be almost magical in its effects: a committee in Washington gives some technical instructions to a trading desk in New York, and just like that, the economy creates millions of jobs.

But sometimes the magic doesn’t work. And this is one of those times.

These days, it’s rare to get through a week without hearing about another financial disaster. Some of this is unavoidable: there’s nothing Mr. Bernanke can or should do to prevent people who bet on ever-rising house prices from losing money. But the Fed is trying to contain the damage from the collapse of the housing bubble, keeping it from causing a deep recession or wrecking financial markets that had nothing to do with housing.

So Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues have been doing the usual thing: printing up green paper and using it to buy bonds. Unfortunately, the policy isn’t having much effect on the things that matter. Interest rates on government bonds are down — but financial chaos has made banks unwilling to take risks, and it’s getting harder, not easier, for businesses to borrow money.

As a result, the Fed’s attempt to avert a recession has almost certainly failed. And each new piece of economic data — like the news that retail sales fell last month — adds to fears that the recession will be both deep and long.

So now the Fed is following one of the options suggested in that 2004 paper, which was about things to do when conventional monetary policy isn’t getting any traction. Instead of following its usual practice of buying only safe U.S. government debt, the Fed announced this week that it would put $400 billion — almost half its available funds — into other stuff, including bonds backed by, yes, home mortgages. The hope is that this will stabilize markets and end the panic.

Officially, the Fed won’t be buying mortgage-backed securities outright: it’s only accepting them as collateral in return for loans. But it’s definitely taking on some mortgage risk. Is this, to some extent, a bailout for banks? Yes.

Still, that’s not what has me worried. I’m more concerned that despite the extraordinary scale of Mr. Bernanke’s action — to my knowledge, no advanced-country’s central bank has ever exposed itself to this much market risk — the Fed still won’t manage to get a grip on the economy. You see, $400 billion sounds like a lot, but it’s still small compared with the problem.

Indeed, early returns from the credit markets have been disappointing. Indicators of financial stress like the “TED spread” (don’t ask) are a little better than they were before the Fed’s announcement — but not much, and things have by no means returned to normal.

What if this initiative fails? I’m sure that Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues are frantically considering other actions that they can take, but there’s only so much the Fed — whose resources are limited, and whose mandate doesn’t extend to rescuing the whole financial system — can do when faced with what looks increasingly like one of history’s great financial crises.

The next steps will be up to the politicians.

I used to think that the major issues facing the next president would be how to get out of Iraq and what to do about health care. At this point, however, I suspect that the biggest problem for the next administration will be figuring out which parts of the financial system to bail out, how to pay the cleanup bills and how to explain what it’s doing to an angry public.


13) Palestinians Unite in Anger Against Israeli Attack
March 14, 2008

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — It was a display of Palestinian unity rarely seen since the militant Islamic group Hamas seized power in Gaza last summer and left the rival pro-Fatah Palestinian Authority struggling to hold on to the West Bank.

As thousands of men and women crowded into Manger Square on Thursday to attend prayers and the funerals for four local militants killed by Israeli undercover forces in a raid the day before, a general strike was observed throughout this Muslim-Christian city of 30,000 people.

In the square, youths held flags representing the mainstream Fatah, Hamas, the smaller, more extreme Islamic Jihad and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The body of one of the victims, a local Islamic Jihad leader, Muhammad Shehada, was draped with the increasingly popular emblem of the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

More than creating a temporary fusion of political and ideological divisions, though, the killings enraged Fatah advocates of negotiations with Israel, who posed questions about its commitment to peacemaking.

“The crime committed by Israel against our people aims to blow up the peace process,” said Muhammad Khalil al-Laham, a Fatah legislator who came to the square, and whose voice rose in fury as row upon row of Muslim mourners bowed down on the paving stones in silent prayer.

“Bethlehem was the calmest and most committed city,” Mr. Laham said, noting that Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority prime minister, had planned an international investors’ conference to be held in the city in May under the slogan, “You can do business in Palestine.”

Israel strongly defended the killings on Thursday as a legitimate response to terrorist acts. “Yesterday, in Bethlehem, we again proved that the state of Israel will continue to hunt and to strike any murderer who has Jewish blood on his hands, and those who send him,” said the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak. “It is unimportant how much time has elapsed. Israel’s long arm will reach him.”

The Israeli raid came at a delicate time for the authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Egyptian mediators are trying to broker a truce that would calm the hostilities between Israel and Hamas in and around Gaza, a truce that Mr. Abbas called for after violence spiraled there earlier this month.

Mr. Abbas’s office issued an unusually strong statement after the Bethlehem raid. “These barbaric crimes reveal the true face of Israel, which speaks loudly about peace and security all the while committing murders and executions against our people,” it said.

In a response, Islamic Jihad fired more than 20 rockets from Gaza at Israel on Thursday, after refraining from launching any for nearly a week. Only a small number of them fell inside Israel and they caused no casualties, the Israeli military said. Before dawn the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike in Gaza, also the first in nearly a week, hitting a rocket launcher, the military said.

To Israel, the four men were dangerous fugitives with long records in terrorism; two had been on Israel’s most wanted list for years. For the thousands who attended their funerals they were local heroes of the Palestinian resistance who had managed to survive this long. Mr. Shehada ran in the Palestinian elections as an independent candidate in 2006 and won 7,000 votes. One of the companions he was killed with, Issa Marzuk, 36, was voted onto the Bethlehem city council on an Islamic Jihad ticket in 2005.

The four, including Ahmed Balboul, a local commander of Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, were shot while riding together in a car. Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, is a militia affiliated with Fatah.

Palestinians say that all four had been hoping to be included in an amnesty agreement with Israel, but that Israel had refused. The 178 militants Israel did offer amnesty to last summer, under certain conditions, were all from Fatah.

Mr. Balboul, 48, had spoken in recent months about his support for a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Shehada, 45, had used “the language of resistance up to the last minute,” said Ata Manaa, a journalist for a local Bethlehem television station who interviewed the fugitive earlier this week.

But many here believe that Mr. Shehada and his companions had not been engaged in violence against Israelis in recent years. “Though they opposed the Palestinian Authority’s position,” said Hassan Abed Rabbo, a spokesman for Fatah, “there was a clear commitment to the authority’s decision to maintain calm.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said it was true that the West Bank had been relatively quiet, “but that,” he added, “is largely because the Israeli Army is conducting these ongoing operations.” The Authority’s own security forces are in a process of capacity building, said Mr. Regev, “but we have no doubt they could do much more than they have done. They’ve been extremely reticent to take on the terrorist infrastructure,” he said.

There were no gunmen visible in Manger Square on Thursday, and only a couple of traffic policemen in uniform. Other members of the security services joined the mourners in civilian clothes. There was one burst of gunfire in the air as the funeral procession set off for the cemetery; otherwise, order prevailed.

“The Palestinian Authority doesn’t control an inch of the West Bank,” said Shawqi Issa, the director of the Ensan Center for Human Rights in Bethlehem. “Israel is everywhere.” Nor, he said, does Israel want peace. “Their strategy is to put obstacles in the way every day.”

Mr. Issa was a classmate of Mr. Shehada’s 30 years ago. The two happened to meet in an elevator about 40 minutes before Mr. Shehada was killed. Mr. Shehada, who was with Mr. Balboul, knew he was being pursued. “He said, ‘They don’t want to arrest me, they want to kill me,’ ” Mr. Issa recalled.

Israeli Attacks Condemned

DAKAR, Senegal (Agence France-Presse) — The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, sharply condemned the Israeli attacks in a speech here on Thursday at the start of a meeting of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference.

“Israel’s disproportionate and excessive use of force has killed and injured many civilians, including children. I condemn these actions and call on Israel to cease such attacks,” Mr. Ban told an audience that included the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. “At the same time,” he added, “I also condemn the rocket attacks directed against Israel and call for the immediate cessation of such acts.”

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Taghreed El-Khodary from Gaza. Khaled Abu Aker contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Graham Bowley from New York.


14) Cuba: Finally, Something to Buy
World Briefing | The Americas
March 14, 2008

Citing “the improved availability of electricity,” an internal government memo has authorized the sale of long-desired appliances and electronics, including computers, DVD and video players, electric pressure cookers and rice cookers and microwave ovens. The items can freely be bought immediately, it said, although air-conditioners will not be available until next year and toasters until 2010, when power supplies are expected to improve further. Until now, only foreigners and companies could buy computers in Cuba, while DVD players were seized at the airport until last year, when customs rules were eased. Raúl Castro, who was formally installed as president last month when his brother Fidel’s 49-year rule ended, has promised to ease some of the restrictions on daily life.


15) Lilly E-Mail Discussed Off-Label Drug Use
March 14, 2008

ANCHORAGE — John C. Lechleiter, an Eli Lilly official who is about to become the company’s top executive, wrote e-mail in 2003 that appears to have encouraged Lilly to promote its schizophrenia medicine Zyprexa for a use not approved by federal drug regulators.

Dr. Lechleiter’s comments came in a March 2003 e-mail message he wrote to other Lilly executives, after he traveled to Cincinnati to watch Lilly sales representatives talk to doctors.

The e-mail message was discussed earlier this week in an Anchorage courtroom in a lawsuit against Lilly by the state of Alaska. The suit seeks reimbursement for the medical costs of Medicaid patients who developed diabetes while taking Zyprexa. The drug causes severe weight gain and cholesterol problems in many patients and has been linked to diabetes.

Zyprexa is federally approved only for use by adults diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. While doctors are free to prescribe it “off label” for any patients for any use, it would be a violation of federal law for Lilly to actively encourage off-label use of the drug. In his e-mail message, Dr. Lechleiter discusses the use of Zyprexa by children and teenagers.

In the message, Dr. Lechleiter, who was then the company’s executive vice president for pharmaceutical products, noted to other Lilly officials that company representatives were already promoting Strattera, a second Lilly psychiatric drug, to pediatricians and child psychiatrists. The representatives could also discuss Zyprexa with such doctors, he said.

“The fact we are now talking to child psychs and peds and others about Strattera means that we must seize the opportunity to expand our work with Zyprexa in this same child-adolescent population,” Dr. Lechleiter wrote in the message. He also encouraged Lilly to get data on the use of Zyprexa in treating “disruptive kids” in order to increase the drug’s sales.

A spokeswoman for Eli Lilly said Dr. Lechleiter, an organic chemist, was not advocating off-label promotion in his note but simply wanted the company to respond to physicians’ requests for information. The company declined to make Dr. Lechleiter available for comment.

Because of Zyprexa’s physical side effects, many psychiatrists now say it is appropriate only for severely mentally ill patients. Clinical trials have shown that its tendency to cause dangerous weight gain appears to be especially severe in younger patients. The Food and Drug Administration has for more than a year declined to act upon an application by Lilly to broaden the drug’s label to allow its use in people under 18.

Dr. Lechleiter’s e-mail message has not previously been discussed publicly. In the Alaska trial, after plaintiff lawyers presented it without the jury present, Judge Mark Rindner, said it could not be admitted into evidence in the trial because off-label use was not at issue in the case.

Its disclosure nonetheless comes at a sensitive moment for Lilly, which is also under federal criminal investigation for the way it promoted Zyprexa and played down the drug’s risks to doctors. Between 2000 and 2002, internal Lilly documents show that the company aggressively tried to expand Zyprexa’s sales into markets for which the drug was never approved, including elderly patients with dementia.

To settle that investigation, and related investigations by several states, Lilly is negotiating with federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania on a deal that could result in the company’s paying $1 billion to $2 billion in fines and restitution, according to people involved in the investigation. The prosecutors declined to comment on Friday.

Because Dr. Lechleiter is a senior official about to become the company’s chief executive, the public disclosure of e-mail in which he appears to have encouraged off-label promotion of Zyprexa could complicate the talks.

On April 1, he is scheduled to become the company’s chief executive, replacing Sidney Taurel, with the plan to replace Mr. Taurel as Lilly’s chairman at the end of the year.

Since 2003, as information about the drug’s risks has spread, prescriptions for Zyprexa have fallen sharply in the United States.

But Lilly has repeatedly increased the drug’s price to counteract the slumping prescriptions, and Zyprexa remains by far Lilly’s best-selling product, with worldwide sales of $4.8 billion last year, about half in the United States. Zyprexa now costs about $8,000 a year at commonly prescribed doses.

Marni Lemons, a spokesman for Eli Lilly, said Dr. Lechleiter’s e-mail message was meant to encourage Lilly representatives to answer questions from doctors who were already prescribing Zyprexa off-label to children and teenagers.

“Rather than driving physician demand, what he was doing was responding to demand from physicians, which we are allowed to do,” Ms. Lemons said. Federal law does let companies send “medical letters” with additional information about off-label uses to physicians who request the information, although sales representatives are not supposed to discuss it.

In the e-mail message, Dr. Lechleiter made several other references to off-label use of Zyprexa. He wrote, “we are losing scripts to Risperdal for treatment of disruptive kids, because Johnson & Johnson has the data and we don’t.” Risperdal, made by Johnson & Johnson, is another drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Unlike Zyprexa, it has been approved for pediatric use.

Dr. Lechleiter also wrote that “Zyprexa is getting traction with some neurologists for treatment of pain,” another off-label use of Zyprexa, which has never been approved for pain relief.

The federal government has investigated drug companies for promoting their medicines off-label before, but Dr. Lechleiter’s note is rare documentation of a senior drug executive’s openly discussing the practice.

The Alaska state trial over Zyprexa began March 5 in the Nesbett Courthouse in downtown Anchorage and is expected to last until late this month. In its initial complaint, the state tried to recover costs associated with Lilly’s off-label promotion of Zyprexa. But just before the jury was chosen, Judge Rindner dismissed that claim.

As a result, jurors have not been permitted to hear any evidence relating to off-label promotion in the case. But lawyers for the state tried on Tuesday to introduce the e-mail message into evidence anyway. Although the judge ruled against them, the message became part of the court record.


16) Fed Chief Shifts Path, Inventing Policy in Crisis
March 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — As chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke has long argued that a central bank should base its policies as much as possible on consistent principles rather than seat-of-the-pants judgment.

But now, as the meltdown in credit markets threatens major institutions on Wall Street and a recession appears inevitable, Mr. Bernanke is inventing policy on the fly.

“Modern monetary policy-making puts a lot of weight on rules, but there is no rule book for an economic crisis,” said Douglas W. Elmendorf, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Fed economist.

On Friday, the Federal Reserve seemed to toss out the rule book altogether when it assumed the role of white knight, temporarily bailing out Bear Stearns, one of Wall Street’s biggest firms, with a short-term loan to help avoid a collapse that might send other dominoes falling.

That move came just days after the Fed announced a $200 billion lending program for investment banks and a $100 billion credit line for banks and thrifts. In a move that would have been unthinkable until recently, the central bank agreed to accept potentially risky mortgage-backed securities as collateral.

On Tuesday, the central bank is expected to reduce short-term interest rates for the sixth time since September. The Fed has already lowered its benchmark federal funds rate to 3 percent from 5.25 percent, and investors are betting that it will cut the rate to just 2.25 percent on Tuesday.

The mounting crisis has forced Mr. Bernanke, a former professor of economics, to discard the sanguine view of the nation’s economic health that he expressed last summer. He has also abandoned his skepticism about the need to calm financial markets and set aside his concerns about the “moral hazard” of bailing out big financial institutions.

In Washington and in New York, Fed officials were expected to work through the weekend, analyzing the books of Bear Stearns and trying to prevent its troubles from setting off a chain reaction of failures among its lenders and trading partners.

It was just 10 months ago that Mr. Bernanke, in discussing his reluctance to regulate the booming market for arcane credit instruments, declared: “Central banks and other regulators should resist the temptation to devise ad hoc rules for each new type of financial instrument or financial institution.”

As recently as last summer, Wall Street executives grumbled privately that Mr. Bernanke was too disengaged from the real world, too slow to understand the plight caused by bad mortgages and too hesitant about lowering interest rates.

But Mr. Bernanke has become Wall Street’s most important and most powerful friend. Executives are praising him for his creativity and willingness to act boldly.

Beyond trying to lower borrowing costs by reducing the federal funds rate, the Fed has adopted a widening array of unconventional tools to infuse money into the banking system.

The question now is whether the Fed is already too late and whether it has enough power to stabilize the markets without starting a new round of inflation. With oil and gold prices soaring to new highs and the dollar falling to new lows, investors already appear to be worrying about higher inflation.

Officially, the Fed continues to predict that the United States can narrowly escape a recession. But Mr. Bernanke has made it clear that the economy is in perilous shape, plagued by a continuing plunge in the housing market, rising job losses, rising energy prices and a paralysis in credit markets as banks and financial institutions sell off even high-quality mortgage-related securities at fire-sale prices.

Most private forecasters contend that a recession is already under way, and even the dwindling numbers of optimists warn that growth will be almost stagnant for the first half of this year.

“The self-feeding downturn now in place shows signs of becoming deeply entrenched,” economists at Citigroup wrote Friday, predicting that the Federal Reserve would cut its benchmark federal funds rate a full percentage point on Tuesday to 2 percent. Citigroup itself has already booked huge losses from its holdings of mortgage-backed securities, and it could face additional losses if Bear Stearns were to fail.

The evolution of Ben Bernanke, who took office in February 2006, began in early August, as credit markets were beginning to freeze up in panic over losses from subprime mortgages. The Fed stunned investors by refusing to lower interest rates and even refusing to change its view that rising inflation posed a bigger risk than slowing growth.

The Fed’s rigidity aggravated fears, and investors suddenly became reluctant to finance a wide variety of short-term commercial debt, known as asset-backed commercial paper. It is used to finance mortgages, credit card debt, automobile loans and business loans.

With stock markets plunging and credit availability disappearing, the Fed, along with European central banks, began injecting billions of dollars into financial markets through open-market operations — the buying and selling of Treasury securities.

On Aug. 17, 10 days after the Fed refused to lower its key rate, the central bank held an unscheduled emergency meeting and announced that it would cut the rate at which banks could take out short-term loans from its “discount window,” a program normally used by banks in trouble, and it said banks would be able to pledge mortgages as collateral.

It was the Fed’s first step in what quickly became a major course reversal. The central bank signaled that it would probably lower its most important interest rate, the federal funds rate, but the Fed also took its first step toward addressing a cash shortage by lending cash or Treasury securities, backed up by packages of mortgages.

Fed officials say they have not changed their basic principles. Rather, they say, they have changed their view of the economy’s prospects. Throughout the spring, Mr. Bernanke hoped that the economy’s problems would be limited to the housing market and that the financial sector’s problems would be confined to subprime loans.

But by late August, Mr. Bernanke had immersed himself in the structural plumbing of financial markets, from inscrutable mortgage securities like “collateralized debt obligations” to the proliferation of “structured investment vehicles” that permitted investors to borrow at short-term rates to buy long-term debt securities like mortgages.

Mr. Bernanke, working closely with a group of other prominent officials, including Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, began looking for new tools, beyond interest rates, that the Fed could use to provide relief.

Still, Fed officials found themselves repeatedly startled by the persistence of acute stress in the credit markets. After the Fed lowered the federal funds rate in September and October, the panic appeared to subside as investors lowered the risk premiums they were demanding on debt securities.

But the panic returned in December and again in January. When Fed officials met Dec. 11 and lowered their key rate another quarter-point, the stock market plunged amid widespread disappointment that the central bank had not done more.

Fed officials hastily telegraphed that they were planning other measures and the next morning announced a new lending program called the “Term Auction Facility.”

The program was open to any bank or depository institution, which would be allowed to bid for up to $20 billion in one-month loans. The twist was that banks could pledge mortgage-backed securities as collateral —including securities that could not be traded and had no current market price.

Fed officials expanded the program to $60 billion a month in January and $100 billion a month in March.

Mr. Bernanke did not stop there. On March 7, the Fed said it would infuse an extra $100 billion into the financial system through its open-market operations. And on Tuesday, it created an additional $200 billion lending program that would permit a select list of big investment banks to borrow money and post mortgage-backed securities as collateral.

“They have been very creative in what they’ve been doing,” said Richard Berner, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. “The key issue is whether the traditional tools of monetary policy — lowering the federal funds rate — is enough to address the financial crisis. These tools don’t solve the credit problem, but they do provide liquidity to the market.”

But by Friday morning, it became clear that more tools would be necessary. Bear Stearns, which had been one of the most aggressive financiers of subprime mortgages, was on the brink of collapse largely because of the sinking value of its own assets.

Hoping to avoid the collapse of a major trading firm that might set off a chain reaction at other firms, the Fed officials helped work out a deal under which Bear Stearns would borrow money long enough to keep from defaulting on its obligations and either be restructured or sold to its rivals.

The bailout had officially begun.


17) C.I.A. Secretly Held Qaeda Suspect, Officials Say
March 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency secretly detained a suspected member of Al Qaeda for at least six months beginning last summer as part of a program in which C.I.A. officers have been authorized by President Bush to use harsh interrogation techniques, American officials said Friday.

The suspect, Muhammad Rahim, is the first Qaeda prisoner in nearly a year who intelligence officials have acknowledged has been in C.I.A. detention. The C.I.A. emptied its secret prisons in the fall of 2006, when it moved 14 prisoners to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but made clear that the facilities could be used in the future to house high-level terrorism suspects.

Mr. Bush has defended the use of the secret prisons as a vital tool in American counterterrorism efforts, and last July he signed an executive order that formally reiterated the C.I.A.’s authority to use interrogation techniques more coercive than those permitted by the Pentagon.

Mr. Bush used his veto power last weekend to block legislation that would have prohibited the agency from using the techniques, and this week the House of Representatives failed to override the veto.

Military and intelligence officials said that Mr. Rahim was transferred earlier this week to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay. In a message to agency employees on Friday, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, said Mr. Rahim had been put into the C.I.A. program because of “his past and the continuing threat he presented to American interests.”

Intelligence officials would not say whether the C.I.A. had used any of what it calls an approved list of “enhanced” interrogation techniques against Mr. Rahim during his months in secret detention.

“This detention, like others, was conducted in accordance with U.S. law,” said Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman. He declined to say whether the C.I.A. currently had custody of any other prisoners.

Government officials described Mr. Rahim, an Afghan who has fought battles for two decades, as a Qaeda planner and facilitator who at times in recent years had been a translator for Osama bin Laden.

They said he was captured and detained by local forces last summer in a country they would not name before being transferred to C.I.A. custody. Pakistani newspapers reported last summer that Pakistani operatives arrested Mr. Rahim in Lahore in August.

Before Mr. Rahim, the last prisoner the C.I.A. acknowledged it had detained was Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an Iraqi Kurd held by the agency for six months before being transferred to Guantánamo last April.

In his message to C.I.A. employees on Friday, General Hayden called Mr. Rahim a “tough, seasoned jihadist” with “high-level contacts” who at times had served as a personal translator for Mr. bin Laden. The message said that in 2001, Mr. Rahim helped prepare the Afghan cave complex of Tora Bora as a hideout for Qaeda fighters fleeing the American-led offensive.

According to an American counterterrorism official, Mr. Rahim is in his 40s and is a native of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan, a rugged mountain territory that has long been a hive of jihadi activity.

The counterterrorism official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said that Mr. Rahim had attended radical madrasas, or religious schools, in Pakistan.

The Bush administration last month formally charged six Qaeda operatives said to have been involved in plotting the Sept. 11 attacks. Five of the six detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, had been in C.I.A. custody until September 2006, when they were among the 14 prisoners moved to Guantánamo.

Military prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty against the six men, government officials have said. During a speech on Friday in London, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said he hoped that the six men would not receive the death penalty. If they were to be executed, he said, “they would see themselves as martyrs.”

Also on Friday, a lawyer representing Majid Khan, who had spent more than three years in the C.I.A.’s secret prisons, briefed Senate Intelligence Committee staff members on her client’s description of his treatment there as torture. The lawyer, Gitanjali Gutierrez of the Center for Constitutional Rights, is the first lawyer to speak to Congress after meeting with a prisoner who was in the C.I.A. program.

The 90-minute meeting was closed, and Ms. Gutierrez said that she could not reveal what Mr. Khan had said about his treatment because the government declared prisoners’ statements to be classified.

Ms. Gutierrez said her testimony was aimed at giving Congress independent information on the C.I.A. program, which she said “is operating criminally, shamefully and dangerously.” C.I.A. officials say all of the agency’s interrogation techniques were lawful at the time they were used.

Scott Shane contributed reporting.


18) In Alabama, a Crackdown on Pregnant Drug Users
March 15, 2008

ANDALUSIA, Ala. — A day after she gave birth in 2006, Tiffany Hitson, 20, sat on her front porch crying, barefoot and handcuffed. A police officer hovered in the distance.

Ms. Hitson’s newborn daughter had traces of cocaine and marijuana in its system, and the young woman, baby-faced herself, had fallen afoul of a tough new state law intended to protect children from drugs, and a local prosecutor bent on pursuing it. She made arrangements for the baby’s care, and headed off to a year behind bars.

“I couldn’t believe it,” recalled Ms. Hitson, who was released in November after spending much of the first year of her daughter’s life at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama.

Two worlds are colliding in this piney woods backcountry in southern Alabama: casual drug use and a local district attorney unsettled that children or fetuses might be affected by it. The result is an unusual burst of prosecutions in which young women using drugs are shocked to find themselves in the cross hairs for harming their children, even before giving birth.

Over an 18-month period, at least eight women have been prosecuted for using drugs while pregnant in this rural jurisdiction of barely 37,000, a tally without any recent parallel that women’s advocates have been able to find. The district attorney, Greg L. Gambril, acknowledges the number puts him at the “forefront,” at least among Alabama prosecutors. Similar cases have come up elsewhere, usually with limited success. But Alabama, and in particular this hilly, remote terrain just above the Florida Panhandle, is pursuing these cases with special vigor.

In Maryland, the state’s highest court in 2006 threw out the convictions of two women whose babies were born with cocaine in their bloodstreams, ruling that punishment was not the right deterrent. Last year, the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected a woman’s child-abuse conviction in a similar case, declaring a fetus was not a child. Some doctors and advocacy groups maintain that the effects of drugs on pregnant women and their fetuses are not fully known; in Alabama, though, these arguments have yet to be officially made.

A cultural clash, unfolding within the confined world of Covington County, is at the origin of this prosecutorial crusade. Here, unlike in other jurisdictions, women are not appealing their convictions, and lawyers and doctors talk about these cases reluctantly, if at all. Too many people know one another in these quiet little towns that fade abruptly into the countryside.

There has not been a murder here in over three years, the prosecutor said. But a year ago a newborn died at the local hospital, and the mother had traces of methamphetamines in her system. Doctors told the police that the infant’s premature birth could be attributed to maternal drug use, and she was charged with “chemical endangerment of child,” which carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.

“In my jurisdiction, a baby being born dead because of drug abuse is a huge deal,” Mr. Gambril said.

Mr. Gambril makes little distinction between fetus and child. He said his duty was to protect both — though the Alabama law he uses makes no reference to unborn children, and was primarily intended to protect youngsters from exposure to methamphetamine laboratories.

“When drugs are introduced in the womb, the child-to-be is endangered,” Mr. Gambril said. “It is what I call a continuing crime.” He added that the purpose of the statute was to guarantee that the child has “a safe environment, a drug-free environment.”

“No one is to say whether that environment is inside or outside the womb,” he said, and no judge or other authority in Alabama has so far disagreed.

Covington County is an isolated rural terrain where drugs are a recreational outlet in the absence of others, where the police found nearly 200 methamphetamine laboratories in the first years of the decade, and where they made more arrests for abusing the drug than anywhere else in the state.

“This is a meth town,” said Ms. Hitson’s grandmother, Shirley Hinson, who helped take care of the baby while Tiffany was in prison. Speaking of youth here, Ms. Hinson said, “There’s nothing for them to do.”

The county is the kind of place where young women — white, working-class, on probation for other offenses — sometimes take a chance while pregnant.

“I made the biggest mistake of my life & did some drugs with her father right before I went into labor, unaware I was about to have her,” Ms. Hitson wrote to the court from the Covington County Jail, in neat schoolgirl script, pleading to be released after her arrest in October 2006. “Please, please let me spend this most important time with my baby,” she wrote.

But the judge had set bond at $200,000 — Ms. Hitson had earlier been charged in connection with a break-in, and with credit-card fraud — and in jail she stayed.

The environment can be unforgiving. Rachel Barfoot, 31, who had been charged before with beating her niece, told her probation officer that she was pregnant. When she tested positive for cocaine, she was arrested.

“I was in shock,” said Ms. Barfoot. “I told the truth, but the truth got me nowhere,” she said in an interview. Three months pregnant, already a mother of four, she spent five weeks in the Covington County Jail.

“It was hell,” said Ms. Barfoot, now jobless and struggling. Police affidavits make it clear that local doctors are cooperating in these investigations.

The women are sent off to county jails, state prisons, or drug rehabilitation clinics, and often emerge bitter at the collaboration of police, prosecutors, judges, doctors and social workers they say is less keen on help — Mr. Gambril insists otherwise — than punishment.

“In Covington County, I don’t think they’re interested in helping mothers,” Ms. Hitson said. “They’re just sending people straight to prison. It doesn’t help their drug problems.”

A few of the local defense lawyers express similar sentiments: “None of those cases should have been brought,” said Rod Sylvester, who represents another woman charged with chemical endangerment. “It’s an overreaching.”

But others bring up the powerful, unspoken community sanction against the combination of drugs and pregnant women. And so far, none of the women have risked trial.

“Our ultimate goal is to protect mothers and children,” Mr. Gambril said.

Meanwhile, Shirley Hinson, Ms. Hitson’s grandmother, is still furious over Tiffany’s year of imprisonment. “They took something away from my granddaughter and my grandbaby they can’t give back,” she said. “They made an example out of Tiffany. That’s all they did.”


19) Costs Surge for Stocking the Pantry
March 15, 2008

The government announced Friday that the cost of food had gone up yet again. This came as no revelation to Bruce Newton, a single father of two children.

As he wheeled a cart full of groceries out of a Stop & Shop supermarket in Bloomfield, N.J., on Thursday night, Mr. Newton complained that the price of chicken had become “outrageous,” and eggs were so costly his mother sent him from store to store hunting for the cheapest ones. Essential breakfast items like milk, cereal and orange juice have become “so expensive, but what are you going to do?”

Mr. Newton’s pain is being felt in grocery checkout aisles across the country. Government figures released Friday showed that grocery costs had jumped 5.1 percent in 12 months, the latest in a string of increases. In fact, the nation is undergoing its worst grocery inflation since the early 1990s.

With a few exceptions, nearly every grocery category measured by the Labor Department, which compiles the official inflation numbers, has increased in the last year. Milk is up 17 percent, as are dried beans, peas and lentils. Cheese is up 15 percent, rice and pasta 13 percent, and bread 12 percent.

No food product has gone up as much as eggs, jumping 25 percent since February 2007 and 62 percent in the last two years.

“It’s a great time to be an egg farmer,” said Paul Sauder, a third-generation farmer in Lititz, Pa. His farm ships eggs to food service customers and grocery stores, including Stop & Shop. “We’ve never encountered this kind of run like we’ve had right now.”

While food costs increased, overall inflation held steady in February as the cost of gasoline declined that month, according to the latest Consumer Price Index, which the Labor Department updates monthly. That was an unexpected dose of good economic news that opens the door for more aggressive interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, which is trying to head off a recession.

But many analysts do not expect the lower inflation rate to last. Gasoline prices turned around in March and are setting records every day, hitting a nationwide average of $3.28 a gallon in the most recent report by AAA, the automobile club. That puts more pressure on consumers’ pocketbooks as they muddle through an economic slowdown.

“It’s a temporary respite,” said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody’s Investors Service. “The renewed ascent of gasoline prices, if nothing else, promises a faster rate of inflation for March.”

Still, the flat reading on the Consumer Price Index was a welcome development after several months of steadily building price pressures. Consumer prices were unchanged in February, and the closely watched core index, which excludes the prices of volatile food and energy products, also stayed flat.

With the economy in a significant downturn, and possibly a recession, some had feared a repeat of 1970s-style stagflation. Inflation rose 0.4 percent in January and December, and economists had been bracing for another uptick last month.

Instead, the Labor Department report showed price declines across a broad range of consumer products, including clothing, personal computers and automobiles. The easing came despite a record-low dollar and a rise in the price of imports.

The March inflation report, due April 16, “will capture the extraordinary surge in oil, food and commodity prices that we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief United States economist at the research firm IdeaGlobal.

Lower inflation may encourage the Fed to lower interest rates more aggressively at its next scheduled meeting, on Tuesday. Rate cuts promote growth but can push prices higher, and the Fed has struggled to balance its attempts to stave off a recession with the brisk pace of inflation.

For the year, inflation is still running high. Compared with a year ago, consumer prices were up 4 percent in February, and the core index rose 2.3 percent, higher than the Fed’s comfort level.

If there is a silver lining in the food statistics it is that grocery prices did not increase as much in February (up 0.3 percent from the previous month) as they did in January (up 0.9 percent).

But Ephraim Leibtag, who tracks food prices for the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, said that with farm prices remaining near record levels, he was not optimistic that food prices would moderate in 2008. Instead, he predicted that food inflation would be at least as high as in 2007, perhaps higher.

Mr. Leibtag predicted that cereal and baking products would continue to increase because of steep prices for wheat; in fact, the price of cereal and bakery products increased 1.8 percent in February, the largest monthly gain since January 1975. Economists say higher food costs are being caused by rising energy prices, a weak dollar that encourages exports of American crops and food products, and soaring prices for farm commodities like milk, corn and wheat.

Whether eggs will continue to lead the way on prices remains uncertain. For the time being, farmers like Mr. Sauder are enjoying the high prices while they last.

“Two years ago, everyone was ready to give their farm away because they were all losing money,” Mr. Sauder said. “It goes in cycles.”

The sharp increase in egg prices was caused by a confluence of factors, among them a contraction of the industry because of the slump in 2005 and 2006 and a major increase in feed costs. About three-quarters of feed for laying hens is corn, and the price of corn has been driven up in part by government mandates for production of ethanol.

Gene Gregory, president and chief executive of the United Egg Producers, said feed costs have increased about $100 a ton in the last year, to $250. Because the cost of feed is so high and its future direction uncertain, many farmers have reduced the size of their flocks, he said.

“We are in uncharted waters,” Mr. Gregory said. “Egg producers are recognizing higher profits now than they have for many years. But we also realize these things change quickly.”

At the store in Bloomfield, shoppers complained the other night that food costs have left them reeling. “I’ve spent $300 in a matter of two weeks,” Roseann Fede said. “It used to be like $150. Milk, eggs, nonperishable things, everything has gone up in price.”

Jomarie and Rafaelito Ortiz emerged from Stop & Shop with a cart stuffed full of bags, mostly to feed their four teenage boys. Asked whether they have noticed a difference in their grocery bills, Ms. Ortiz said, “Are you kidding me?”

“Our food bills are $600, $700,” she said, explaining that they were closer to $400 a year or two ago. “The cereal was astronomical.”

Her husband agreed and suggested that they might be better off buying a few cows of their own. “The way food prices are going,” he said, “I’m going to buy a ranch.”




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

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

World Briefing | Asia
Taiwan: Tons of Fish Wash Up on Beaches
About 45 tons of fish have washed up dead along 200 miles of beach on the outlying Penghu Islands after an unusual cold snap. News reports said 10 times as many dead fish were still in the water.
February 23, 2008

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




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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
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">