Saturday, April 18, 2009



EMERGENCY UPDATE: Bad news for Troy Davis
Amnesty International USA

Dear Readers,

It's not the end of the road for Troy Davis, but the news is not good.

Yesterday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Troy Davis' bid for a new trial. In a 2-1 vote, the court cited technical reasons to reject Davis' petition for a hearing.

But all hope is not lost. Troy has 30 days to file another petition with the US Supreme Court.

Troy and his lawyers are doing everything they can to fight this decision from the inside. It is up to us to turn up the pressure on the outside. Even if you've taken action before, keep flooding Governor Perdue's office with emails demanding justice for Troy. And pass the action on to everyone you know. There is power in numbers and when you stand behind Troy Davis, you make the fight for justice even stronger!

We can't thank you enough.

In solidarity,
Sue, Brian, Jessie, and the rest of the Death Penalty Campaign team

P.S. Save the date — National Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis coming in May. We'll be in touch soon to let you know how you can support Troy in your own community!

To send a message to Governor Perdue:


Please spread the message where ever you will be during the next weeks!

Thank you so much,
Annette in Heidelberg - Germany
German Network Against the Death Penalty and to Free Mumia

Dear co-strugglers for Mumia,

this is our call for action - sign the online-petition to the Justices of the US Supreme Court.

We launched it at the beginning of March in Germany and Austria - and it is growing fast now.

It was already signed by Noam Chomsky, Frances Goldin, Robert Meeropol, Harold Wilson, Colin Firth, Anthony Arnove, Marc Taylor, Julia Wright, Pam Africa, Veronica Jones and so many others.

The updated letter with the 3500th signature was sent to the Justices this Easter Monday, April 13.

Support Mumia in this most dangerous state of his life.
Please spread it as far as you can! Post it, send it around, use all your powerful means of creating news and attention.

German Network Against the Death Penalty and to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal -


Celebrate the release of the new book by Mumia Abu-Jamal:

"Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs. the USA"

Friday, April 24th (Mumia's birthday!), 6:30 P.M.
Humanist Hall
411 - 28th Street, Oakland

$25.00 donation or what you can afford.


Angely Y. Davis
Mistah F.A.B.
Lynne Stewart
Tory Serra
Kiilu Nyasha
JR Minister of Information POCC
Ed Mead
Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia
Molotov Mouths

Prison Radio, 415-648-4505


4/26/2009 SF Speak-out and Video With UE Chicago Republic Workers And Screening
Sunday April 26, 2006 2:00 PM
ILWU Local 34
2nd St and Embarcadero on the left side of AT&T Park

The UE Republic workers of Chicago who occupied their factory to demand their pay and compensation as a result of their factories closure will be speaking and screening a labor film of their occupation on Sunday April 26, 2009 at 2:00 PM in San Francisco at ILWU Local 34 next to AT&T at 2nd St & Embarcadero St. in San Francisco.
The meeting which is being hosted by ILWU Local 34 and also sponsored by,, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and other unions and organizations will be the first eye witness report of this important event which electrified the US labor movement. As a result of protests throughout the country including San Francisco at the Bank Of America, the workers won their demands. Bay area workers who are in struggle will also speak at this forum.
To endorse, support or to get more information about this labor solidarity event contact
(415)282-1908 or

YouTube - Angry Laid-off Workers Occupy Factory in Chicago


Bail Out Working People -- NOT the Banks!

Join us on May 9 in San Francisco for a

Without joining together for our common interests, we don't have the strength to change our government's priorities. We must begin to build a massive movement that will have the power to impact government policy and give people genuine hope for a better future.

Help organize a mass mobilization and ongoing action campaign around the following demands:

- No layoffs. Massive job-creation program.
- Tax the rich -- don't bail out the banks.
- Pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
- Single-payer healthcare for all.
- Affordable housing for all. Tenants' rights. Moratorium on foreclosures & evictions.
- Funding for jobs and for social services & infrastructure, not for war.
- Stop the ICE raids and deportations. Legalization for all!


- Art Pulaski, Secretary-Treasurer, California Federation of Labor;
- N'tanya Lee, Executive Director, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth;
- Mark Dudzic, National Organizer, Labor for Single Payer Healthcare Campaign (Washington, D.C.);
- Rosie Martinez, SEIU Local 721 (Los Angeles);
- Steve Williams, Executive Director, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights);
- Conny Ford, Vice President, San Francisco Labor Council;
- Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10;
- Jack Rasmus, Professor of economics St. Mary's College and Santa Clara Univ.;
- Alan Benjamin, Executive Committee, San Francisco Labor Council and Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign;
- Student representative, City College of San Francisco, Mission Campus.


Extended remarks from Bay Area labor and community leaders -- and ample time for dialogue among teach-in participants.


Spoken Word performance by YOUNG PLAYAZ

SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2009 - 1 to 5 p.m.
(registration begins at 12:30 p.m.)
Plumbers Hall,
1621 Market St. @ Franklin St.
San Francisco

Initiated by the San Francisco Labor Council, South Bay Labor Council, and Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign

(list of dozens of teach-in endorsers in formation)

Donations will be requested at door to defray cost of renting the hall, printing leaflets and posters, and copying teach-in packets for all participants. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.


Call for May 9 Teach-In:
Bail Out Working People, NOT the Banks!

The severity of the economic crisis we are currently facing is predicted to rival the magnitude of the Great Depression. Some say it could be even worse. Over 6 million jobs have already been eliminated since the current recession began. Millions of working people have lost their homes to foreclosures and evictions, and many more homes are in or near default, while housing remains unaffordable to millions of people. The ranks of those without health insurance continue to grow. But even these statistics fail to reflect the growing insecurity and stress of working people across the country as we wonder when we, too, might be next.

Meanwhile, the federal government has showered billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars on financial institutions in the form of bailouts. In other words, working people, who are bearing the brunt of the crisis, are being required to shoulder an additional burden. Our tax dollars are being funneled to the very financial institutions and wealthy investors whose reckless gambling in pursuit of unbridled profit was responsible for driving the economy over the cliff. They have refused to say what they've done with trillions. Worse still, to emphasize their contempt for public opinion, these priests of high finance have spent some of the bailout money on huge bonuses, office decorations and the purchase of more CEO jets.

In response to this unprecedented crisis, many organizations have emerged that are addressing specific issues. Some are fighting foreclosures. Others are fighting for a single-payer healthcare system that would guarantee health coverage for everyone. Still others are pressing for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which, if passed, will greatly facilitate the ability to form unions.

Although our problems take many forms, most of them stem from a single source. During the past three decades, the inequality in wealth has surged to historic proportions not seen since the 1920s. The hourly wage of working people has actually declined, forcing many additional family members into the workforce just to make ends meet. Aggressive campaigns by employers have created additional barriers to unionizing, resulting in a sharp decline in the percentage of unionized workers. Without unions, workers have not had the means to struggle successfully for higher wages, healthcare coverage, pensions and other benefits.

Given these conditions, can there be any wonder that we have a housing crisis and a healthcare crisis? And during this same period, the taxes on corporations and on the rich in general have dramatically declined, thereby accelerating the accumulation of unprecedented wealth, on the one hand, and the decline of tax dollars for public infrastructure and services, on the other.

In order to have any chance of altering these trends, given the magnitude of the crisis we confront and the forces we're up against, we need to come together, unite all our separate organizations and mount a collective struggle around our common concerns. Without joining together for our common interests, we don't have the strength to change our government's priorities. Only in this way can we begin to build a massive movement that will have the power to impact government policy and give people genuine hope for a better future.

We working people constitute the vast majority of the population. We need to ensure that our society operates in the interests of the majority. But we can only succeed if we stand together in solidarity with each other's demands and struggles.

The goal of the May 9 teach-in is to inspire other teach-ins. It is aimed at organizing massive Solidarity DAYS OF ACTION in support of our common demands. By bringing huge numbers of people together in common actions, people will realize through their own experience that they do not stand alone, and they will gain the confidence that by uniting we can begin to exercise real power.

- Join us and help build a movement.
- Together we can prevail.
- An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!



In the aftermath of the March 21 and April 3-4 demonstrations, a number of critical questions must be addressed by the antiwar movement: What next for the movement? Where do we go from here? How can we broaden the movement and win new forces to our cause? How can we help ensure that our next demonstrations are larger than the ones organized in March and April and that the ones organized after those will be even larger?

We who are supporters of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations believe these questions can best be answered by convening a national antiwar conference open to all peace activists who will have the opportunity to share their ideas and proposals, be part of a broad ranging discussion and debate, and help make decisions based on one person, one vote.

Such a conference will be held at La Roche College in Pittsburgh on July 10-12, 2009.

The National Assembly was established nearly a year ago at a national conference attended by over 400 people, including top leaders of the antiwar movement as well as activists from many states. One of the main decisions that conference made was to do everything possible to unite the movement in urgently needed visible street actions.

Now we look to the July conference, which will provide a forum for dealing with crucial issues as Washington escalates its wars, occupations, bombing attacks, sanctions, threats and illegal interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. We need your ideas, your input and your presence to help make this conference a success. Please join us in Pittsburgh on July 10-12. Bring all the troops home now!




1) At Summit Meeting, Cuba Will Be Absent, Not Forgotten
April 18, 2009

2) Green Shoots and Glimmers
Op-Ed Columnist
April 17, 2009

3) Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan
April 17, 2009

4) Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A.
April 17, 2009

5) French Strikers Hang On to Threads of a Worldview
Échirolles Journal
April 17, 2009

6) Gates Takes His Case for Military Budget on the Road
April 17, 2009

7) Child Obesity Is Linked to Chemicals in Plastics
By Jennifer 8. Lee
April 17, 2009, 1:31 pm

8) No Cause for Arrest
Op-Ed Columnist
April 18, 2009

9) Obama Calls for Thaw in U.S. Relations With Cuba
April 18, 2009

10) Internal Bleeding Said to Cause Death at G-20
April 18, 2009

11) Latest Adventure for Pirate: Capturing Courtroom Buzz
April 18, 2009

12) US Aircraft and Elite Navy SEALs Defeat Three Somalis in a Lifeboat
By Glen Ford
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford, BAR Executive Editor
Black Agenda Report, April 15, 2009

13) A Plan for U.S. Emissions to Be Buried Under Sea
April 18, 2009

14) F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases
April 19, 2009


1) At Summit Meeting, Cuba Will Be Absent, Not Forgotten
April 18, 2009

President Obama will meet many of his counterparts from Latin and America and the Caribbean for the first time at a three-day summit meeting that starts on Friday in Trinidad, but much of the focus leading up to the event has been on a nation that is not invited: Cuba.

On Thursday, the interest heightened when Raúl Castro, the president of Cuba, responded in unusually conciliatory language to recent overtures from the Obama administration and said he had sent word of a new openness to the United States government in private and public.

"We are willing to discuss everything, human rights, freedom of press, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything they want to talk about, but as equals, without the smallest shadow cast on our sovereignty, and without the slightest violation of the Cuban people's right to self-determination," Mr. Castro said in Venezuela during a meeting of leftist governments meant as a counterpoint to this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad.

In remarks over the past several days, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have signaled a new openness to discussions with Cuba, with President Obama saying in Mexico on Thursday that he would like to "recast" the American-Cuban relationship, which has been mired in Cold War hostility for half a century.

"I don't expect things to change overnight," Mr. Obama told reporters. "We are not trying to be heavy handed, we want to be open to engagement, but we're going to do so in a systematic way that keeps focus on the hardships and struggles that many Cubans are suffering."

Mr. Obama, who opened a crack in the American embargo against Cuba this week by scrapping restrictions on family travel to Cuba and letting American firms bid for telecommunications licenses there, said Thursday it was up to Cuba to take the next step. Mr. Castro made his remarks a few hours later.

Cuba experts said the language in Mr. Castro's response was some of the boldest that he or his brother Fidel, who handed him the presidency a year ago after falling ill, have used with any American administration since that of Dwight D. Eisenhower in early 1961, when the nations broke off relations.

The Obama administration has made clear that it expects greater political openness in the island, which severely limits freedom of expression, puts limits on foreign travel by its citizens and does not hold multi-party elections.

On Friday, Mrs. Clinton said she welcomed Mr. Castro's latest remarks, which were broadcast on Cuban television, but not published in the Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma, The Associated Press reported.

"We have seen Raúl Castro's comments. We welcome this overture. We're taking a very serious look at it," Mrs. Clinton said at a news conference with Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.

In Trinidad, Mr. Obama was expected to receive encouragement toward greater rapprochement between the two nations from many of the 33 other leaders attending the summit. As the summit got underway, José Miguel Insulza, the head of the Organization of American States, which is sponsoring the event, said the organization should readmit Cuba, wire services reported.

Latin American leaders are seeking other shifts in United States policy as well.

"I'm going to ask the United States to take a different view of Latin America," Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, said last month before meeting with Mr. Obama in Washington. "We're a democratic, peaceful continent, and the United States has to look at the region in a productive, developmental way, and not just think about drug trafficking or organized crime."

Leaders from the 34 countries with democratically elected governments that make up the Organization of American States are also expected to press Mr. Obama on issues including the global economy and the United States' policies on drugs.

The conference, which opens with a glittering Carnival-inspired ceremony Friday night, is formally to focus on "human prosperity," energy security and environmental sustainability. But the global economic crisis will be an overarching issue for Latin American leaders, including Mr. da Silva, who is still smarting over how the crisis threatens to derail one of Brazil's greatest periods of prosperity in a generation.

The Latin American leaders are hoping Mr. Obama will not shy away from subjects that have historically been taboo at such meetings. In the past, the United States has vetoed discussions about Cuba and shrugged off criticism of its drug policy.

But the Obama administration has signaled it agrees with some leaders in the region who want to rethink the approach to curbing drug violence. Several of the region's leaders have also said in recent months that lifting the Cuba embargo would go a long way toward repairing relations between Latin America and the United States.

American officials said this week that the president welcomed the discussion, but he is not expected to go beyond the steps announced on Monday: lifting restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba by Cuban-Americans.

"They may not lift the embargo or legalize drugs, but there will be more space to talk about those kinds of things," said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy research center in Washington.

When President George W. Bush traveled to Argentina four years ago for the last Summit of the Americas, protesters smashed windows, looted stores and sang anti-Bush slogans. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president, drew 25,000 to a soccer stadium to rail against the United States' free trade policies.

Mr. Obama, however, currently has rock-star status in the hemisphere, a factor that could keep anti-Americanism in check, analysts said. Mr. Chávez, a fiery populist, is also less likely to try to use the event to take a stand against the United States. In Argentina his ire was directed at sinking a free trade agreement, a deal that ultimately died and has yet to be revived.

In an interview this week with Univision, Mr. Obama also signaled a more dialogue-oriented approach to Washington's relationship with Venezuela. Asked whether he would meet with President Hugo Chavez, who has characterized Mr. Obama as "ignorant" about Latin America, the president said he did not think a bilateral meeting had been arranged, but he was almost certain to have encounters with the Venezuelan leader during summit's multilateral sessions.

"Whether it's Chavez or any other leaders," Mr. Obama said, "my attitude is that I am there to listen."

Prior Beharry contributed reporting from Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Ginger Thompson contributed from Washington.


2) Green Shoots and Glimmers
Op-Ed Columnist
April 17, 2009

Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, sees "green shoots." President Obama sees "glimmers of hope." And the stock market has been on a tear.

So is it time to sound the all clear? Here are four reasons to be cautious about the economic outlook.

1. Things are still getting worse. Industrial production just hit a 10-year low. Housing starts remain incredibly weak. Foreclosures, which dipped as mortgage companies waited for details of the Obama administration's housing plans, are surging again.

The most you can say is that there are scattered signs that things are getting worse more slowly - that the economy isn't plunging quite as fast as it was. And I do mean scattered: the latest edition of the Beige Book, the Fed's periodic survey of business conditions, reports that "five of the twelve Districts noted a moderation in the pace of decline." Whoopee.

2. Some of the good news isn't convincing. The biggest positive news in recent days has come from banks, which have been announcing surprisingly good earnings. But some of those earnings reports look a little ... funny.

Wells Fargo, for example, announced its best quarterly earnings ever. But a bank's reported earnings aren't a hard number, like sales; for example, they depend a lot on the amount the bank sets aside to cover expected future losses on its loans. And some analysts expressed considerable doubt about Wells Fargo's assumptions, as well as other accounting issues.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs announced a huge jump in profits from fourth-quarter 2008 to first-quarter 2009. But as analysts quickly noticed, Goldman changed its definition of "quarter" (in response to a change in its legal status), so that - I kid you not - the month of December, which happened to be a bad one for the bank, disappeared from this comparison.

I don't want to go overboard here. Maybe the banks really have swung from deep losses to hefty profits in record time. But skepticism comes naturally in this age of Madoff.

Oh, and for those expecting the Treasury Department's "stress tests" to make everything clear: the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, says that "you will see in a systematic and coordinated way the transparency of determining and showing to all involved some of the results of these stress tests." No, I don't know what that means, either.

3. There may be other shoes yet to drop. Even in the Great Depression, things didn't head straight down. There was, in particular, a pause in the plunge about a year and a half in - roughly where we are now. But then came a series of bank failures on both sides of the Atlantic, combined with some disastrous policy moves as countries tried to defend the dying gold standard, and the world economy fell off another cliff.

Can this happen again? Well, commercial real estate is coming apart at the seams, credit card losses are surging and nobody knows yet just how bad things will get in Japan or Eastern Europe. We probably won't repeat the disaster of 1931, but it's far from certain that the worst is over.

4. Even when it's over, it won't be over. The 2001 recession officially lasted only eight months, ending in November of that year. But unemployment kept rising for another year and a half. The same thing happened after the 1990-91 recession. And there's every reason to believe that it will happen this time too. Don't be surprised if unemployment keeps rising right through 2010.

Why? "V-shaped" recoveries, in which employment comes roaring back, take place only when there's a lot of pent-up demand. In 1982, for example, housing was crushed by high interest rates, so when the Fed eased up, home sales surged. That's not what's going on this time: today, the economy is depressed, loosely speaking, because we ran up too much debt and built too many shopping malls, and nobody is in the mood for a new burst of spending.

Employment will eventually recover - it always does. But it probably won't happen fast.

So now that I've got everyone depressed, what's the answer? Persistence.

History shows that one of the great policy dangers, in the face of a severe economic slump, is premature optimism. F.D.R. responded to signs of recovery by cutting the Works Progress Administration in half and raising taxes; the Great Depression promptly returned in full force. Japan slackened its efforts halfway through its lost decade, ensuring another five years of stagnation.

The Obama administration's economists understand this. They say all the right things about staying the course. But there's a real risk that all the talk of green shoots and glimmers will breed a dangerous complacency.

So here's my advice, to the public and policy makers alike: Don't count your recoveries before they're hatched.


3) Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan
April 17, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants, according to government officials and analysts here.

The strategy cleared a path to power for the Taliban in the Swat Valley, where the government allowed Islamic law to be imposed this week, and it carries broad dangers for the rest of Pakistan, particularly the militants' main goal, the populous heartland of Punjab Province.

In Swat, accounts from those who have fled now make clear that the Taliban seized control by pushing out about four dozen landlords who held the most power.

To do so, the militants organized peasants into armed gangs that became their shock troops, the residents, government officials and analysts said.

The approach allowed the Taliban to offer economic spoils to people frustrated with lax and corrupt government even as the militants imposed a strict form of Islam through terror and intimidation.

"This was a bloody revolution in Swat," said a senior Pakistani official who oversees Swat, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the Taliban. "I wouldn't be surprised if it sweeps the established order of Pakistan."

The Taliban's ability to exploit class divisions adds a new dimension to the insurgency and is raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan, which remains largely feudal.

Unlike India after independence in 1947, Pakistan maintained a narrow landed upper class that kept its vast holdings while its workers remained subservient, the officials and analysts said. Successive Pakistani governments have since failed to provide land reform and even the most basic forms of education and health care. Avenues to advancement for the vast majority of rural poor do not exist.

Analysts and other government officials warn that the strategy executed in Swat is easily transferable to Punjab, saying that the province, where militant groups are already showing strength, is ripe for the same social upheavals that have convulsed Swat and the tribal areas.

Mahboob Mahmood, a Pakistani-American lawyer and former classmate of President Obama's, said, "The people of Pakistan are psychologically ready for a revolution."

Sunni militancy is taking advantage of deep class divisions that have long festered in Pakistan, he said. "The militants, for their part, are promising more than just proscriptions on music and schooling," he said. "They are also promising Islamic justice, effective government and economic redistribution."

The Taliban strategy in Swat, an area of 1.3 million people with fertile orchards, vast plots of timber and valuable emerald mines, unfolded in stages over five years, analysts said.

The momentum of the insurgency built in the past two years, when the Taliban, reinforced by seasoned fighters from the tribal areas with links to Al Qaeda, fought the Pakistani Army to a standstill, said a Pakistani intelligence agent who works in the Swat region.

The insurgents struck at any competing point of power: landlords and elected leaders - who were usually the same people - and an underpaid and unmotivated police force, said Khadim Hussain, a linguistics and communications professor at Bahria University in Islamabad, the capital.

At the same time, the Taliban exploited the resentments of the landless tenants, particularly the fact that they had many unresolved cases against their bosses in a slow-moving and corrupt justice system, Mr. Hussain and residents who fled the area said.

Their grievances were stoked by a young militant, Maulana Fazlullah, who set up an FM radio station in 2004 to appeal to the disenfranchised. The broadcasts featured easy-to-understand examples using goats, cows, milk and grass. By 2006, Mr. Fazlullah had formed a ragtag force of landless peasants armed by the Taliban, said Mr. Hussain and former residents of Swat.

At first, the pressure on the landlords was subtle. One landowner was pressed to take his son out of an English-speaking school offensive to the Taliban. Others were forced to make donations to the Taliban.

Then, in late 2007, Shujaat Ali Khan, the richest of the landowners, his brothers and his son, Jamal Nasir, the mayor of Swat, became targets.

After Shujaat Ali Khan, a senior politician in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, narrowly missed being killed by a roadside bomb, he fled to London. A brother, Fateh Ali Mohammed, a former senator, left, too, and now lives in Islamabad. Mr. Nasir also fled.

Later, the Taliban published a "most wanted" list of 43 prominent names, said Muhammad Sher Khan, a landlord who is a politician with the Pakistan Peoples Party, and whose name was on the list. All those named were ordered to present themselves to the Taliban courts or risk being killed, he said. "When you know that they will hang and kill you, how will you dare go back there?" Mr. Khan, hiding in Punjab, said in a telephone interview. "Being on the list meant 'Don't come back to Swat.' "

One of the main enforcers of the new order was Ibn-e-Amin, a Taliban commander from the same area as the landowners, called Matta. The fact that Mr. Amin came from Matta, and knew who was who there, put even more pressure on the landowners, Mr. Hussain said.

According to Pakistani news reports, Mr. Amin was arrested in August 2004 on suspicion of having links to Al Qaeda and was released in November 2006. Another Pakistani intelligence agent said Mr. Amin often visited a madrasa in North Waziristan, the stronghold of Al Qaeda in the tribal areas, where he apparently received guidance.

Each time the landlords fled, their tenants were rewarded. They were encouraged to cut down the orchard trees and sell the wood for their own profit, the former residents said. Or they were told to pay the rent to the Taliban instead of their now absentee bosses.

Two dormant emerald mines have reopened under Taliban control. The militants have announced that they will receive one-third of the revenues.

Since the Taliban fought the military to a truce in Swat in February, the militants have deepened their approach and made clear who is in charge.

When provincial bureaucrats visit Mingora, Swat's capital, they must now follow the Taliban's orders and sit on the floor, surrounded by Taliban bearing weapons, and in some cases wearing suicide bomber vests, the senior provincial official said.

In many areas of Swat the Taliban have demanded that each family give up one son for training as a Taliban fighter, said Mohammad Amad, executive director of a nongovernmental group, the Initiative for Development and Empowerment Axis.

A landlord who fled with his family last year said he received a chilling message last week. His tenants called him in Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, which includes Swat, to tell him his huge house was being demolished, he said in an interview here.

The most crushing news was about his finances. He had sold his fruit crop in advance, though at a quarter of last year's price. But even that smaller yield would not be his, his tenants said, relaying the Taliban message. The buyer had been ordered to give the money to the Taliban instead.


4) Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A.
April 17, 2009

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department on Thursday made public detailed memos describing brutal interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama sought to reassure the agency that the C.I.A. operatives involved would not be prosecuted.

In dozens of pages of dispassionate legal prose, the methods approved by the Bush administration for extracting information from senior operatives of Al Qaeda are spelled out in careful detail - like keeping detainees awake for up to 11 straight days, placing them in a dark, cramped box or putting insects into the box to exploit their fears.

The interrogation methods were authorized beginning in 2002, and some were used as late as 2005 in the C.I.A.'s secret overseas prisons. The techniques were among the Bush administration's most closely guarded secrets, and the documents released Thursday afternoon were the most comprehensive public accounting to date of the program.

Some senior Obama administration officials, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., have labeled one of the 14 approved techniques, waterboarding, illegal torture. The United States prosecuted some Japanese interrogators at war crimes trials after World War II for waterboarding and other methods detailed in the memos.

The release of the documents came after a bitter debate that divided the Obama administration, with the C.I.A. opposing the Justice Department's proposal to air the details of the agency's long-secret program. Fueling the urgency of the discussion was Thursday's court deadline in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the government for the release of the Justice Department memos.

Together, the four memos give an extraordinarily detailed account of the C.I.A.'s methods and the Justice Department's long struggle, in the face of graphic descriptions of brutal tactics, to square them with international and domestic law. Passages describing forced nudity, the slamming of detainees into walls, prolonged sleep deprivation and the dousing of detainees with water as cold as 41 degrees alternate with elaborate legal arguments concerning the international Convention Against Torture.

The documents were released with minimal redactions, indicating that President Obama sided against current and former C.I.A. officials who for weeks had pressed the White House to withhold details about specific interrogation techniques. Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, had argued that revealing such information set a dangerous precedent for future disclosures of intelligence sources and methods.

A more pressing concern for the C.I.A. is that the revelations may give new momentum to proposals for a full-blown investigation into Bush administration counterterrorism programs and possible torture prosecutions.

Within minutes of the release of the memos, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that the memos illustrated the need for his proposed independent commission of inquiry, which would offer immunity in return for candid testimony.

Mr. Obama condemned what he called a "dark and painful chapter in our history" and said that the interrogation techniques would never be used again. But he also repeated his opposition to a lengthy inquiry into the program, saying that "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

Mr. Obama said that C.I.A. officers who were acting on the Justice Department's legal advice would not be prosecuted, but he left open the possibility that anyone who acted without legal authorization could still face criminal penalties. He did not address whether lawyers who authorized the use of the interrogation techniques should face some kind of penalty.

The four legal opinions, released in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the A.C.L.U., were written in 2002 and 2005 by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the highest authority in interpreting the law in the executive branch.

The first of the memos, from August 2002, was signed by Jay S. Bybee, who oversaw the Office of Legal Counsel, and gave the C.I.A. its first detailed legal approval for waterboarding and other harsh treatment. Three others, signed by Steven G. Bradbury, sought to reassure the agency in May 2005 that its methods were still legal, even when multiple methods were used in combination, and despite the prohibition in international law against "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment.

All legal opinions on interrogation were revoked by Mr. Obama on his second day in office, when he also outlawed harsh interrogations and ordered the C.I.A.'s secret prisons closed.

In the memos, the Justice Department authors emphasized precautions the C.I.A. proposed to take, including monitoring by medical personnel, and the urgency of getting information to stop terrorist attacks. They recounted the C.I.A.'s assertions of the effectiveness of the techniques but noted that interrogators could not always tell a prisoner who was withholding information from one who had no more information to offer.

The memos include what in effect are lengthy excerpts from the agency's interrogation manual, laying out with precision how each method was to be used. Waterboarding, for example, involved strapping a prisoner to a gurney inclined at an angle of "10 to 15 degrees" and pouring water over a cloth covering his nose and mouth "from a height of approximately 6 to 18 inches" for no more than 40 seconds at a time.

But a footnote to a 2005 memo made it clear that the rules were not always followed. Waterboarding was used "with far greater frequency than initially indicated" and with "large volumes of water" rather than the small quantities in the rules, one memo says, citing a 2004 report by the C.I.A.'s inspector general.

Most of the methods have been previously described in news accounts and in a 2006 report of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which interviewed 14 detainees. But one previously unknown tactic the C.I.A. proposed - but never used - against Abu Zubaydah, a terrorist operative, involved exploiting what was thought to be his fear of insects.

"As we understand it, you plan to inform Zubaydah that you are going to place a stinging insect into the box, but you will actually place a harmless insect in the box, such as a caterpillar," one memo says.

Mr. Bybee, Mr. Bradbury and John Yoo, who was the leading author of the 2002 interrogation memos, are the subjects of an investigation by the Justice Department's ethics office about their legal analysis on interrogation. Officials have described the draft ethics report, by the Office of Professional Responsibility, as highly critical, but its completion has been delayed to allow the subjects a chance to respond.

The A.C.L.U. said the memos clearly describe criminal conduct and underscore the need to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate who authorized and carried out torture.

But Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, cautioned that the memos were written at a time when C.I.A. officers were frantically working to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing," said Mr. Blair in a written statement. "But we will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos."

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.


5) French Strikers Hang On to Threads of a Worldview
Échirolles Journal
April 17, 2009

ÉCHIROLLES, France - The workers here at Caterpillar have been on strike for more than a month, and they see themselves in a battle for all the workers of France.

They have "boss-napped" management officials, blocked intercity trains, stopped and interrogated the local police prefect, set up picket lines and organized assemblies to seek more solidarity with workers at other companies whose jobs are also at risk. Asked if France will experience a hot summer of protest, Pierre Piccarreta, a factory representative with the main union here, the General Confederation of Labor, or C.G.T., said, "It's already a hot spring."

A sign on a factory fence reads "Les Cater en lutte" - the Caterpillars at battle - and many workers spent a rainy Wednesday night on the site in tents, in what has become the most prominent labor conflict in France.

The workers are fighting for their own jobs, of course, and the jobs of their children here in the Isère region, around Grenoble, where the icy peaks of the Alps rise impassively above the clouds. But in a way these workers are also fighting for a traditional kind of French management-worker relationship that is quickly fraying in this global economic crisis.

"Today, politicians don't put people at the center of life," said Michel Palomera, 64, who retired in 2005 after 40 years at Caterpillar but came here out of solidarity with the strikers. "Today, the only value is money."

Even 20 years ago, he said, "the bosses came from the bottom of the scale, with another attitude, and a good knowledge of the company and its values." Today, he said, with globalization and the intensity of the crisis, "it's all changed."

Caterpillar, an American company that makes sophisticated agricultural and construction equipment, reported a profit last year of $3.5 billion. But in January, presuming a continued drop in orders, the company announced immediate cuts of 5,000 jobs worldwide and the gradual elimination of 22,000.

Here, where Caterpillar started operations in the early 1960s and now employs about 3,000 people in two plants, the immediate issue has been 733 jobs that management said must go.

But Mr. Piccarreta, 53, said that in addition to full-time jobs, management wanted to get rid of an additional 300 or so contract workers.

"That means that one-third of the work force may disappear in six months," Mr. Piccarreta said. "We insist that they have the financial capacity to do otherwise." He complains that management refuses to sit down with the union and discuss alternatives, including a shared reduction of working hours and a reorganization of what has been a seven-days-a-week workplace.

While the conflict is about a global company with a distant management, there is affection for Caterpillar and the tenor is not anti-American.

Last week, management offered to fire only 600 people in return for major changes in working times and a rollback in benefits like the 35-hour week, free transportation and cafeteria privileges. The union refused. "They want to profit by the global crisis to take back social advantages won at Caterpillar," said José Muñoz, 64, who worked here for 37 years.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who aides said was anxious about a possible season of escalating protests in France, tried to intervene early. He would not let the workers down, he said, and vowed to save the plant.

But the workers here consider this just another empty Sarkozy promise. Mr. Muñoz cited a Sarkozy vow last year to save 575 steelmaking jobs at the Arcelor Mittal foundry at Gandrange - jobs that have since disappeared.

Unemployment in France is now about 8.3 percent and is expected to reach nearly 10 percent this year. In this region, unemployment has hit 12 percent.

The unions, traditionally strong in France, are struggling to find an effective response to the crisis and the threat to jobs. Many analysts say that the power of the unions has long passed its peak and that while they are able to disrupt everyday life - and let off steam - through one-day general strikes, they are no longer powerful enough to force substantive changes.

Asked if the workers regret holding four of their bosses overnight in their offices, which created a furor, Mr. Piccarreta said: "We didn't mean to end up there. But it was exasperation, anger, and the bosses were making us go in circles." The management representatives either do not show up to meetings or arrive late, he said. "We weren't able to negotiate."

Mr. Muñoz said, "The tradition of social dialogue is disappearing." He said he considered it a question of manners and attitude, but also of strategy in a globalized company. "The bosses here are young," he said. "They don't know how to listen and manage people. They don't have the power to decide."

The press office at Caterpillar here said only that the situation was "sensitive" and that the company would have no comment.

Dominique Quercia, 36, has been a welder for 15 years, and has a 9-year-old daughter. "I'm fighting for the people here, because it makes me heartsick to see people leave the company," he said. "They have kids to feed." New jobs are scarce, he said. "These people," he added, "are going to be in deep trouble," despite French social protections.

Michel Laboisseret, the C.G.T.'s main delegate to both Caterpillar plants, said the hope was that politicians, both national and local, would bring pressure to bear on the company to reopen negotiations in earnest with the unions.

"We're realistic," Mr. Laboisseret said. "We know we won't be able to avoid layoffs. The point is to save the maximum number of jobs."

Management has agreed to a fund of 50 million euros (about $66 million) to pay and help retrain those laid off. The unions want the number of jobs to be lost reduced to 600, but they also want the same special fund and a promise that Caterpillar will keep the plants open for at least five years.

Mr. Piccarreta has four children. "I'm 53 and I still have years to work," he said. "I'm fighting against this economic system that makes men, women and entire families suffer. Everyone realizes this now. This system is starting to explode; it should no longer exist. It makes the entire world suffer, it enriches the rich and impoverishes the poor."

Mr. Palomera was more practical. "We don't want to break this company," he said. "We just want to work."

Maïa de la Baume contributed reporting.


6) Gates Takes His Case for Military Budget on the Road
April 17, 2009

CARLISLE, Pa. - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates took his campaign for the Pentagon's budget to one of the nation's premier military institutions on Thursday as he pressed his argument for shifting billions of dollars from future Army weapons programs to the more immediate needs of the country's two wars.

"For too long, there was a belief, or a hope, that Iraq and Afghanistan were exotic distractions that would be wrapped up relatively soon," Mr. Gates told a sometimes skeptical audience of officers and civilians at the Army War College here in south-central Pennsylvania.

As a result, Mr. Gates said, weapons and equipment most urgently needed for Iraq and Afghanistan were "fielded ad hoc and on the fly" and with temporary financing by Congress "that would go away when the wars did, if not sooner."

Mr. Gates, a former director of central intelligence, was on the fourth day of a weeklong political swing to sell the Pentagon's half-trillion-dollar 2010 budget, an exercise that has left his adversaries - many in the military contracting industry and Congress - taken aback by what they say is both his deftness and his aggressiveness.

Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who presided over six years of robust wartime budgets, never had to make difficult choices about killing weapons programs and so never undertook a similar campaign. Mr. Gates, who replaced Mr. Rumsfeld in 2006, spent the last two years of the Bush administration focused on problems in Iraq rather than on the bottom line.

But now that Mr. Gates is settling in as President Obama's defense chief for what seems likely to be longer than a single year - his expected tenure when Mr. Obama offered him the job - he has opened an offensive to overhaul Pentagon spending and the way the military does business. His proposals include cutting back on the Air Force's most advanced fighter jet, the F-22, but adding programs in other areas, so that the Pentagon budget is projected to grow by 4 percent in 2010, to $534 billion.

The changes were all announced, executives in the military industry noted, when Congress was out of town on a spring break and less able to mount loud objections.

"Gates didn't spend his career at the C.I.A. for nothing," said George Behan, the chief of staff to Representative Norm Dicks, a Washington Democrat who is a member of the defense appropriations subcommittee. "He waited until Jack Murtha was in the hospital and my boss was in Mexico, Brazil, Panama and Colombia."

Mr. Behan was referring to Representative John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and defense appropriations subcommittee chairman who had knee-replacement surgery during the break.

Mr. Gates encountered some resistance to his budget at the war college, where an Army officer told him in a question-and-answer session that the proposal to cut back on an expensive Army weapons system "appeared like a unilateral decision on your part."

Mr. Gates responded that trimming the Future Combat Systems, a mix of robotic sensors and combat vehicles designed to provide soldiers better intelligence on the battlefield, "was the hardest decision I had to make." He said he had conferred with the Army leadership, including the Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., "and I made a decision I think it's fair to say they disagree with."

Mr. Gates, who had proposed keeping the sensors but canceling the combat vehicles, said he believed that the vehicles were too light and not well suited to the roadside bombs and other threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. The premise behind the old combat vehicles, he said, "was belied by the close-quarters combat, urban warfare and increasingly lethal forms of ambush that we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan."

He pledged to put $87 billion budgeted for the vehicles toward a program to develop new ones.

Mr. Gates, who spoke to the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday and is to speak at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., on Friday, said he was taking his budget on the road "not to talk about dollars but ideas."

Loren Thompson, a consultant for Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-22, had another view. "His message is that a lot of thought went into this and this reflects emerging military needs," Mr. Thompson said. "But this is a budget-cutting exercise masquerading as a strategic shift."

Representatives of other contractors said that for now they were holding their fire, in part because Mr. Gates had successfully promoted himself as a reformer. They said they did not want to take him on in a public relations battle that would cast them as part of the lavish, over-budget old order.

But that could change when Capitol Hill is in business next week, they said.

"He's done a very good job publicly in controlling his message, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Congress comes back," said Douglas A. Birkey, the director of government relations for the Air Force Association, which has opposed the cuts in the F-22.


7) Child Obesity Is Linked to Chemicals in Plastics
By Jennifer 8. Lee
April 17, 2009, 1:31 pm

Exposure to chemicals used in plastics may be linked with childhood obesity, according to results from a long-term health study on girls who live in East Harlem and surrounding communities that were presented to community leaders on Thursday by researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

The chemicals in question are called phthalates, which are used to to make plastics pliable and in personal care products. Phthalates, which are absorbed into the body, are a type of endocrine disruptor - chemicals that affect glands and hormones that regulate many bodily functions. They have raised concerns as possible carcinogens for more than a decade, but attention over their role in obesity is relatively recent.

The research linking endocrine disruptors with obsesity has been growing recently. A number of animals studies have shown that exposing mice to some endocrine disruptors causes them be more obese. Chemicals that have raised concern include Bisphenol A (which is used in plastics) and perfluorooctanoic acid, which is often used to create nonstick surfaces.

However, the East Harlem study, which includes data published in the journal Epidemiology, presents some of the first evidence linking obesity and endocrine disruptors in humans.

The researchers measured exposure to phthalates by looking at the children's urine. "The heaviest girls have the highest levels of phthalates metabolites in their urine," said Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai, one of the lead researchers on the study. "It goes up as the children get heavier, but it's most evident in the heaviest kids."

This builds upon a larger Mount Sinai research effort called "Growing Up Healthy in East Harlem," which has looked at various health factors in East Harlem children over the last 10 years, including pesticides, diet and even proximity to bodegas.

About 40 percent of the children in East Harlem are considered either overweight or obese. "When we say children, I'm talking about kindergarten children, we are talking about little kids," Dr. Landrigan said. "This is a problem that begins early in life."

The Growing Up Healthy study involves more than 300 children in East Harlem, and an additional 200 or so children in surrounding community.

The phthalate study follows a separate group of about 400 girls in the same communities, who range in age from 9 to 11.

One thing researchers have found is that the levels of phthalates measured in children in both studies are significantly higher than the average levels that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have measured for children across the entire United States.

The findings may presage a new approach to thinking about obesity - drawing environmental factors into a central part of the equation. "Most people think childhood obesity is an imbalance between how much they eat and how much they play," Dr. Landrigan said.

But he thinks the impact of endocrine disruptors on obesity could be more significant than many people believe. "Most people think it's marginal," he said, paling in comparison with diet and exercise.

But he likened it with the impact of lead on a child's I.Q. "Lead never makes more than 3 or 4 percent difference in margin, but 3 to 5 I.Q. points is a big deal," he said.

Of course, at this stage, researchers cannot say if the exposure actually causes obesity, simply that it seems to be linked. "Right now it's a correlation; we don't know if it's cause and effect or an accidental finding," Dr. Landrigan said. "The $64,000 question is, what is causal pathway? Does it go through the thyroid gland? Does it change fat metabolism?"

The National Children's Study, which will follow 100,000 children from across the country from birth to age 21, will look more broadly at endocrine disruptors and other issues.

"Some of the clues that come out of East Harlem will actually be pursued in the larger one," Dr. Landrigan said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Landrigan advised people to reduce their exposure to phthalates as a precautionary measure. "You can't avoid them completely, but you can certainly reduce their exposure," he said.

It's somewhat difficult to do, since many things do not contain labels identifying phthalates, and in the case of perfumes they can simply be labeled as "fragrance."

Phthalates are found in certain personal care products (like nail polish and cosmetics), though recent regulation has encouraged companies to reduce or eliminate them.

They are also found in common everyday objects, including vinyl siding, toys and pacifiers. A number of environmental Web sites, including The Daily Green, have advised certain strategies, including learning to recognize the abbreviations for certain common phthalates and to prefer certain kinds of recyclable plastics over others.


8) No Cause for Arrest
Op-Ed Columnist
April 18, 2009

The youngsters who were surrounded by New York City police officers and arrested for no good reason while walking along a street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn nearly two years ago are being vindicated.

The city has agreed to settle false arrest lawsuits brought by 16 of the youngsters and will pay them from $9,000 to $23,000 each. The settlement papers are expected to be signed by the youngsters on Saturday, according to their lawyer, Michael Scolnick.

The arrests and prosecution of the young people — more than 30 in all — amounted to an outlandish abuse of police and prosecutorial power. Police officers swooped in and arrested everyone in the group, boys and girls and young men and women, ranging in age from 13 to their early-20s.

They were not just arrested while walking peacefully down a quiet street in broad daylight, but they were publicly bad-mouthed by police officials and the Brooklyn district attorney. In fact, the kids had done nothing wrong. They lacked even the normal exuberance you might expect from a large group of young people. They were grieving.

The youngsters had assembled in a park on May 21, 2007, and proceeded to walk toward a subway station. They were planning to attend a wake for a friend who had been murdered in what the police believed was a gang-related crime.

According to the police, the group went on a rampage on a residential, tree-lined block of Putnam Avenue. Top Police Department officials, including Commissioner Ray Kelly, said the kids were yelling, blocking traffic and climbing on top of parked cars.

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, told a radio audience: “They were not just walking on one car; they were trampling on all sorts of cars. It was almost as if they were inviting their arrest.”

The only problem was that this rampage never happened. No evidence was ever produced of the kids blocking traffic (there was hardly any vehicular or pedestrian traffic on the street), or of anyone clambering on top of cars. Witnesses who saw the kids, including one man who used his cellphone to take photos of some of them who were handcuffed on the sidewalk, said they had been orderly, quiet and well behaved.

The arrests took place right outside the first-floor windows of Greer Martin, a woman who spoke on the record a few days after the arrests, despite her reluctance to have her name printed in a newspaper, because she felt the police officers had abused their power. “I was shocked beyond shock,” she told me. “My windows were open, and it didn’t look like the kids had done anything wrong.”

Leana Mejia, a student at John Jay College who was among those arrested, said the cops were the ones out of control. “They cursed us and pushed the guys,” she said. “And then they handcuffed us. We kept asking, ‘What are you doing?’ ”

If the police or prosecutors thought the kids would plead guilty to some minor offense and go quietly on their way, they were mistaken. The kids fought back, asserting their innocence and refusing to acquiesce in their humiliation. The authorities stalled and some of the cases dragged on for months, some for more than a year.

The prosecutors had nothing. Because the rampage was a fantasy.

One by one, the cases were dismissed. In some instances, the prosecutors themselves threw in the towel.

Diana Rodriguez, an assistant D.A. in Mr. Hynes’s office, told me on Friday: “As to some individual defendants, we felt we could not prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So there were some cases that we on our own moved to dismiss.”

Many of the youngsters sued, charging that they were falsely arrested and illegally held at a local precinct house, some of them for a day and a half.

In agreeing to settle the lawsuits, the city refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing. But it has agreed to pay from $20,000 to $23,000 to individuals who were held in custody overnight and subjected to prolonged exposure to the criminal justice system. Others, many of them younger, reportedly will receive $9,000 each.

When asked to comment on the case, Mr. Scolnick said: “My impression is that the bulk of our police officers do what they are supposed to. On the other hand, what I have been told by my clients is that their being stopped on the street merely for being on the street is about as common an occurrence in their lives as me getting up in the morning and brushing my teeth, and that’s pretty outrageous.

“I can’t imagine that 32 young white people walking down the streets of Scarsdale to pay their respects to a friend would have been arrested that way.”


9) Obama Calls for Thaw in U.S. Relations With Cuba
April 18, 2009

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues.

Mr. Obama’s remarks, during the opening ceremony at the Summit of the Americas, are the clearest signal in decades that the United States is willing to change direction in its dealings with Cuba. They capped a dizzying series of developments this week, including surprisingly warm words between Raúl Castro, Cuba’s leader, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Other leaders here said that in watching Mr. Obama extend his hand to Cuba, they felt they were witnessing a historic shift. And in another twist, Cuba’s strongest ally at the summit, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, no fan of the United States, was photographed at the meeting giving Mr. Obama a hearty handclasp and a broad smile.

Cuba is not on the official agenda here; indeed, Cuba, which has been barred from the Organization of American States since 1962, is not even on the guest list. But leaders in the hemisphere have spent months planning to make Cuba an issue here.

The White House was well aware that if Mr. Obama did not address it head on, the issue would overwhelm the rest of the summit gathering. This week, the president opened the door to the discussions by abandoning longstanding restrictions on the ability of Cuban-Americans to travel freely to the island and send money to relatives there.

“I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he was “prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues.”

Mr. Obama’s message was not entirely new; he has said in the past that he was willing to engage with Cuba. But making a public pledge before leaders of 33 other nations, many of whom he had not yet met, gave his words added heft.

He came here with the aim of reaching out to leaders in a region that felt ignored by the United States during the Bush years. Just as he campaigned on the theme of change when running for the White House, he made change a theme of his speech here, saying: “I didn’t come here to debate the past. I came here to deal with the future.”

He said the United States needed to acknowledge long-held suspicions that it has interfered in the affairs of other countries. But, departing from his prepared text, he also said the region’s countries needed to cease their own historic demonization of the United States for everything from economic crises to drug violence.

“That also means we can’t blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere,” he said. “That’s part of the bargain. That’s the old way, and we need a new way.”

On Cuba, the president’s words were as notable for what he said as for what he did not say. He did not scold or berate the Cuban government for holding political prisoners, as his predecessor, George W. Bush, often did.

But he also did not say that he was willing to support Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States, or lift the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, as some hemisphere leaders here want him to do.

And his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way here, pointed out that Cuba needed to take concrete action to “bring greater freedom to the Cuban people.”

In his speech, Mr. Obama gave a nod toward these issues, although not explicitly.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.”

The new tone from Washington drew warm praise from leaders like President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. Mr. Ortega, who said he felt ashamed that he was participating in the summit meeting without the presence of Cuba, evoked images of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, saying, “I am convinced that wall will collapse, will come down.”

Mrs. Kirchner praised Mr. Obama for “what you did to stabilize the relationship from the absurd restrictions imposed by the Bush administration,” adding: “We sincerely believe that we in the Americas have a second opportunity to construct a new relationship. Don’t let it slip away.”

Mr. Obama’s speech on Friday night was only the latest in a string of overtures between the countries. On Thursday, Raúl Castro, Cuba’s president, used unusually conciliatory language in describing the Obama administration’s decision to lift restrictions on family travel and remittances.

“We are willing to discuss everything, human rights, freedom of press, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything they want to talk about, but as equals, without the smallest shadow cast on our sovereignty, and without the slightest violation of the Cuban people’s right to self-determination,” Mr. Castro said in Venezuela during a meeting of leftist governments meant as a counterpoint to this weekend’s summit meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

On Friday, Mrs. Clinton responded, saying, “We welcome his comments, the overture that they represent, and we’re taking a very serious look at how we intend to respond.”

Earlier this week Brazilian officials signaled in Rio de Janeiro that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, potentially flanked by the Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe, would raise the issue of accepting Cuba into the Organization of American States at the summit meeting. Cuba’s “absence is an anomaly and he is waiting for this situation to be corrected,” Marco Aurélio García, Mr. da Silva’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters.

On Friday, the secretary general of the O.A.S., José Miguel Insulza, said he would call for Cuba to be readmitted. And Mr. Chávez recently said he would refuse to sign the official declaration produced at the summit meeting because Cuba was not invited.

There are no plans for Mr. Chávez and Mr. Obama to meet privately, but White House officials said before the meeting that the two would participate in at least one small group leaders’ meeting, and that Mr. Obama would not spurn any outreach by Mr. Chávez, who frequently referred to Mr. Bush as “the devil.”

Indeed, Mr. Obama made the first move, officials said, striding across the room to introduce himself to Mr. Chávez as the leaders were lining up to parade into the opening ceremony. As he extended his hand, the Venezuelan government reported, Mr. Chávez told Mr. Obama: “I greeted Bush with this hand eight years ago. I want to be your friend.”

Alexei Barrionuevo contributed reporting.


10) Internal Bleeding Said to Cause Death at G-20
April 18, 2009

LONDON — The newspaper vendor who died after being struck by a police officer during the Group of 20 summit meeting earlier this month was killed by abdominal bleeding and not by a heart attack, according to an independent autopsy whose conclusions were released Friday.

This flatly contradicts earlier assertions by the police, who maintained that the newspaper vendor, Ian Tomlinson, died of a heart attack. It also opens the door for possible manslaughter charges against the officer who attacked Mr. Tomlinson, pushing him and striking him from behind with a baton, shortly before he collapsed.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the incident, said that because of the new autopsy, the officer in question had been “interviewed under caution for the offense of manslaughter.” That means that the officer, whose name has not been released, has been formally interrogated but not charged with a crime.

Mr. Tomlinson died April 1 in London’s financial district during protests against the Group of 20 meetings. He was trying to walk home from work and was not part of the protests.

The police originally claimed that they had no contact with Mr. Tomlinson other than to offer him assistance and put him in an ambulance after he collapsed. But videotape provided by members of the public to The Guardian and other news outlets proved that was untrue.

Mr. Tomlinson, the video showed, had been struck from behind and pushed roughly to the ground as he tried to walk away from an officer in riot gear. He then got up unsteadily and began walking again, only to collapse soon afterward.

The original autopsy was conducted by Dr. Freddy Patel, a pathologist assigned to the case by the Home Office. Dr. Patel found blood in Mr. Tomlinson’s abdomen, but also said that his liver and heart were diseased and that the cause of death had been hardening of the coronary arteries.

After the revelation of the new video evidence, the complaints commission then ordered that a second autopsy, by Dr. Nat Cary, a pathologist who is part of the Forensic Pathology Services and who usually deals with suspicious deaths in London, be carried out.

“Dr. Cary’s opinion is that the cause of death was abdominal hemorrhage,” a statement issued by the City of London Coroners Court said. “Dr. Cary accepts that there is evidence of coronary atherosclerosis, but states that in his opinion its nature and extent is unlikely to have contributed to the cause of death.

Dr. Cary added that he did not know what had caused the abdominal bleeding.

A lawyer for the Tomlinson family, Jules Carey, said that the autopsy findings “significantly increase the likelihood that the officer will now face the more serious charge of manslaughter.”

The family said it had been misled by the police at every turn.

“First we were told that there had been no contact with the police, then were told that he died of a heart attack; now we know that he was violently assaulted by a police officer and died from internal bleeding,” said Paul King, a family spokesman. “As time goes on, we hope that the full truth about how Ian died will be made known.”

The case has raised many questions about accountability at the Metropolitan Police Service, which, after scores of complaints about its conduct during the Group of 20 protests, has already said it will review its strategy for dealing with mass protests.

It also brings to mind the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician who was shot and killed by the police in a subway train in the summer of 2005, in the tense days after the subway bombings. The police originally said he was a terrorist. Though it later turned out that they had made multiple basic mistakes in the operation, mistaking Mr. de Menezes, for example, for someone else who lived in his apartment building, no individual officers were ever punished for his death.

The Guardian reported last week that questions had been raised in the past about the judgment of Dr. Patel, who conducted the original autopsy on Mr. Tomlinson. In one instance, in 1999, Dr. Patel was reprimanded by the General Medical Council when he announced to reporters that medical records revealed that a 30-year-old man who had died in police custody “was a user of crack cocaine.” The man’s family disputed that he was a drug user.

In a second instance, Dr. Patel conducted the autopsy on a woman whose body was found in the locked bedroom of a man named Anthony Hardy. The case was originally considered suspicious, but the police dropped it when Mr. Patel ruled that the woman had died of a heart attack, The Guardian said. Mr. Hardy, the paper reported, then went on to kill two women and place their body parts in garbage bags.


11) Latest Adventure for Pirate: Capturing Courtroom Buzz
April 18, 2009

Over the years, New York courts have handled almost every kind of villain the world could cough up: mass murderers, mob kingpins, hell-bent terrorists, greedy politicians and Ponzi schemers.

But it has been a long time, if ever, that a pirate has gone on trial.

Now, with word that the United States government plans to try the Somali pirate captured in the daring Navy Seal operation that rescued an American cargo ship captain in the Indian Ocean, legal experts are abuzz about the challenges such a case would pose, as well as the opportunities.

“The minute I heard they were bringing him to the United States,” said Benjamin Brafman, a defense lawyer, “my first instinct was, ‘Just what New York needs — another show trial that is going to heighten our security concerns and consume a courtroom for however many months it will take.’ ”

But he said the government might want to “demonstrate to the world that we take these crimes seriously, and that people who are caught are going to be given a trial, and there is going to be swift justice imposed if convicted.”

No formal announcement about a prosecution has been made, but a senior law enforcement official said on Friday that the plan was to try the suspect in New York. The city is a logical site because the federal prosecutor’s office in Manhattan has developed great expertise in trying crimes that occur outside the United States.

Federal prosecutors had no comment.

Just how swiftly a trial would be held is uncertain, and much would depend on the defense strategy, which almost certainly would involve an investigation into the man’s background and the circumstances under which he became involved in the hostage-taking.

The suspect has been identified in news reports as Abduhl Wal-i-Musi, and is described as being in his late teens.

“We don’t know a thing about him,” said Joshua L. Dratel, a lawyer who has handled terrorism cases in federal court and Guantánamo Bay. “He may have been a conscripted child soldier. There may be a whole back story to his motivation that’s very different than just criminal behavior and criminal intent.”

The defense could also seek to have him cooperate with prosecutors in return for being placed in a protected prison program, and even later relocated in the United States, if he could provide truly useful information about how the pirate networks operate, who runs them and who pays for them.

Piracy law experts said a criminal trial would be historic, and a useful new approach to an age-old problem.

Samuel P. Menefee, a lawyer who has written and lectured on piracy law, said a trial would be significant because piracy in the waters off Somalia has become a growing concern, and the United States government has already used diplomatic and military approaches.

“Now the judicial system will have an opportunity to address the problem,” he said.

At first glance, a piracy trial would seem to resemble the international cases involving terrorism and other crimes that have ended up in New York in recent years.

But Gerald L. Shargel, a lawyer whose white-collar practice has included defending members of the Gotti family and others in organized crime, said a piracy trial would be different, and it should be easier for a pirate to get a fair trial.

“Until this rash of actual piracy,” Mr. Shargel said, “pirates were romanticized — one of the most popular rides at Disney World is Pirates of the Caribbean.”

In terrorism cases, he said, jurors are likely to be afraid, and that can influence their verdict.

“A terrorism trial is more chilling because a terrorist belongs to an organization that’s hidden in darkness and seemingly strikes at will and is a threat to us all,” Mr. Shargel said. “Unless a prospective juror is planning a cruise to Somalia, I don’t think that anyone in the process is going to feel threatened.”


12) US Aircraft and Elite Navy SEALs Defeat Three Somalis in a Lifeboat
By Glen Ford
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford, BAR Executive Editor
Black Agenda Report, April 15, 2009

What a weekend for American foreign policy! The United States Navy, backed up by warships from 20 other nations, knocked off three Somali guys crouching with rifles in a lifeboat tied by a rope to a U.S. destroyer. To hear the U.S. corporate media tell it, the Americans had won a huge victory over the forces of evil. The sole surviving Somali was in custody—a 16-year-old who essentially gave himself up, earlier, after being hurt in a scuffle with the American cargo ship captain who is now celebrated as a hero of the seven seas and defender of United States national honor.

There is something obscene about a superpower whose media and population find great satisfaction, and some sick form of national catharsis, every time they manage to overcome a weak and desperate opponent.

Some dreaded seagoing Somalis began taking up piracy in 1991, when the Somali government disintegrated and there was no one to patrol the country’s coasts. About the same time, and not coincidentally, commercial fishing fleets from around the world took advantage of the lack of a Somali coast guard, to steal every fish they could find in Somali waters. That’s “robbery on the high seas,” the definition of piracy. An estimated $300 million worth of Somali sea life is pirated by foreigners every year. Other kinds of pirates nowadays often leave something behind—the piratical poisonous waste dumpers. They seem to be mafia-connected outfits that dump the radioactive waste from European hospitals into Somali waters, along with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals of all kinds. A survey by the Somali news agency Wardheer News shows that 70 percent of Somalis “strongly supported piracy as a form of national defense of the country’s territorial waters.”

Having seen their coastal waters pirated by foreigners since 1991, Somalis were then forced to endure the land and air piracy of the Ethiopians and the United States, who collaborated in late 2006 to invade the country and oust the only relatively effective government Somalia had had in 15 years. Occupied by Ethiopia with the backing of the American superpower, Somalis were stripped of the last thing they had on land or sea—their national sovereignty. The foreign super-pirates had taken everything.

But the Somalis kept fighting back, anyway, driving out the Ethiopians and making the Americans fume with rage. The Somalis refused to roll over and die, or beg. Black U.S. Congressman Donald Payne’s airplane was targeted by mortars when he visited Somalia’s ravaged capital, Mogadishu, over the weekend. Payne opposed the U.S.-Ethiopia invasion of Somalia, but some of the Islamist fighters battling for control of the country may not make distinctions among the foreigners who pass through or over their land—and who can blame them? Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, a young Black woman named Susan Rice, is positively rapid when it comes to beating Somalia into submission. She was more gung-ho for the U.S.-Ethiopian invasion than George Bush.

Susan Rice is no doubt searching for a military solution to Somali piracy—which would amount to more piracy by the same foreigners that have driven Somalis to such desperate measures.


13) A Plan for U.S. Emissions to Be Buried Under Sea
April 18, 2009

In an ambitious proposal to counter global warming, an upstart power developer wants to build a coal-fired electric plant on the outskirts of New York City that would capture its emissions of carbon dioxide and pump the pollutant 70 miles offshore. The gas would be injected into sandstone a mile beneath the ocean floor in the hope that it would stay there for eons.

Experts have thought for years that capturing the emissions from power plants will be a crucial technology for limiting climate change. But high cost projections and scientific uncertainty have meant that progress on the technique has been limited, even as the effects of global warming are starting to be felt around the world.

Now SCS Energy, based in Concord, Mass., contends not only that it can build the world’s first such plant and get it to work, but also do so profitably, despite costs that could approach $5 billion. If it succeeded, the plant might become a model that could be copied elsewhere.

A key to the proposal is location: an old industrial site near the shore in Linden, N.J., just across the Arthur Kill waterway from Staten Island. Generating power there would allow the company to sell it into one of the country’s most expensive markets, and injecting the gas deep beneath the ocean floor, where pressure would help keep it down, would eliminate some of the uncertainty that might attend a similar project on land.

The proposal raises many environmental and political questions, and it is far from clear that the company can overcome the opposition that seems to crop up to any new power plant in the Northeast. But if the proposal wins approval and if it succeeds in burying 90 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions, as planned, it could be a major step toward finding a technological fix for global warming.

“If this succeeds, it’s going to be very hard for utilities to say, ‘Oh no no, you can’t do this,’ ” said Daniel Schrag, a Harvard geochemist whose work inspired the proposal.

The plan may get an attentive hearing in Washington, where President Obama has installed a team at the Energy Department and other agencies that is determined to put new clean-energy plans into effect.

The Linden proposal builds on the work of Mr. Schrag and one of his graduate students, Kurt Zenz House. In a paper in 2006, they argued that layers of rock beneath the ocean floor might be the best place to bury the huge amounts of carbon dioxide that industrial societies emit into the atmosphere.

SCS Energy, which hired Mr. Schrag as a consultant after learning of that work, has specialized in tricky projects. Despite intense opposition, it succeeded in building a power plant fired by natural gas that began operating in Astoria, Queens, in 2006.

The company has struck a deal to pay $95 million for an old DuPont chemical factory site at Grasselli Point in Linden. The site is near rail lines and barges that can deliver coal. More than a dozen permits are needed from state and federal agencies, and those are likely to take years.

In an unusual twist, SCS says it intends to bolt a fertilizer plant onto the power plant to improve the economics. When power prices are high, the plant would concentrate on making electricity, but when they are low, it would also make nitrogen fertilizer.

Richard J. Gerbounka, the mayor of Linden, said he was “very excited about the project,” which would help redevelop a desolate industrial area.

A buried steel pipe, two feet in diameter, would transport liquid carbon dioxide from the power plant to a site 70 miles offshore, beneath half a mile of water. A well would inject the carbon dioxide to a depth of about a mile below the sea floor, into a layer of ancient sandstone. Mr. Schrag said the carbon dioxide would stay there for millions of years, kept down by a thick layer of mud and the weight of the sea. Not even earthquakes or underwater landslides would be likely to dislodge it, he said.

“The worst thing that could happen is a little bit of CO2 escaping into the atmosphere,” said Dean Malouta, the manager of technology for exploration and production for Shell’s Americas region, which has financed some related research.

A well would be drilled to reduce the pressure and release the seawater displaced by the carbon dioxide, providing a better way to manage pressure than is possible on land, Mr. Schrag said.

Already, some oil companies pump carbon dioxide into their drilling fields in places like Texas, to help squeeze out more oil. The carbon dioxide put underground has mostly remained there, preventing it from re-entering the atmosphere.

But capturing carbon dioxide from power plants is expected to be costly, adding 25 percent or more to operating expenses, in addition to higher construction costs. In this country, utilities are planning only modest demonstration projects. One larger project in Illinois, FutureGen, was abandoned by the Bush administration as costs escalated.

Worldwide, more than a dozen projects are under way to store power plant emissions. Norway is the only country to have undertaken a large project to bury greenhouse gas emissions under the sea floor, at the Sleipner gas field 155 miles off the coast in the North Sea. That project has been going safely for 13 years, but it buries less than a quarter of the amount of carbon dioxide as proposed in New Jersey.

Environmental groups have been divided over whether this approach is a good idea. “The burden of proof is clearly going to be on the project developers” to prove the geological suitability of undersea storage, said Mark Brownstein of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Partly because of tight regulations and environmental opposition, no coal-fired plants have been built in New Jersey since the mid-1990s, and even renewable energy projects can be hard to site along the East Coast because of the difficulty of obtaining permits.

“It’s an exciting project, but it’s an unproven technology at the scale proposed,” said Elaine Makatura, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey, which has had preliminary meetings with the developers.

The company sees the main hurdle as financing. SCS has begun informally talking with banks, and hopes to sidestep the credit crisis because it will not need large sums until about 2011. “As a business investment in the electricity industry, it’s an attractive investment,” said Frank Smith, a founder of SCS.

The company hopes to tap close to $100 million a year in federal tax credits for its technology and says it believes it can turn a profit without additional grants. The plan features not only the fertilizer plant, but also other aspects that would improve the finances.

For instance, the carbon dioxide disposal pipe would be large enough to carry emissions not only from the power plant but also from factories nearby, a potentially valuable service if the government cracked down on emissions.


14) F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases
April 19, 2009

Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move, intended to help solve more crimes, is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.

Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will also collect DNA from detained immigrants — the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants.

The F.B.I., with a DNA database of 6.7 million profiles, expects to accelerate its rate of growth from 80,000 new entries a year to 1.2 million by 2012 — a 17-fold increase. F.B.I. officials say they expect DNA processing backlogs — which now stand at more than 500,000 cases — to increase.

Law enforcement officials say that expanding the DNA databanks to include legally innocent people will help solve more violent crimes. They point out that DNA has helped convict thousands of criminals and has exonerated more than 200 wrongfully convicted people.

But criminal justice experts cite Fourth Amendment privacy concerns and worry that the nation is becoming a genetic surveillance society.

“DNA databases were built initially to deal with violent sexual crimes and homicides — a very limited number of crimes,” said Harry Levine, a professor of sociology at City University of New York who studies policing trends. “Over time more and more crimes of decreasing severity have been added to the database. Cops and prosecutors like it because it gives everybody more information and creates a new suspect pool.”

Courts have generally upheld laws authorizing compulsory collection of DNA from convicts and ex-convicts under supervised release, on the grounds that criminal acts diminish privacy rights.

DNA extraction upon arrest potentially erodes that argument, a recent Congressional study found. “Courts have not fully considered legal implications of recent extensions of DNA-collection to people whom the government has arrested but not tried or convicted,” the report said.

Minors are required to provide DNA samples in 35 states upon conviction, and in some states upon arrest. Three juvenile suspects in November filed the only current constitutional challenge against taking DNA at the time of arrest. The judge temporarily stopped DNA collection from the three youths, and the case is continuing.

Sixteen states now take DNA from some who have been found guilty of misdemeanors. In South Carolina in 2007, a court ordered a DNA sample to be taken from a man found guilty of loitering for the purpose of prostitution.

As more police agencies take DNA for a greater variety of lesser and suspected crimes, civil rights advocates say the government’s power is becoming too broadly applied. “What we object to — and what the Constitution prohibits — is the indiscriminate taking of DNA for things like writing an insufficient funds check, shoplifting, drug convictions and other cases where police don’t have a need to obtain DNA because it’s not relevant to charges facing them,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

This year, California began taking DNA upon arrest and expects to nearly double the growth rate of its database, to 390,000 profiles a year from 200,000.

One of those was Brian Roberts, 29, who was awaiting trial for methamphetamine possession. Inside the huge Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles last month, Mr. Roberts let a sheriff’s deputy swab the inside of his cheek.

Mr. Roberts’s DNA will be translated into a numerical sequence at the F.B.I.’s DNA database, the largest in the world.

The system will search for matches between Mr. Roberts’s DNA and other profiles every Monday, from now into the indeterminate future — until one day, perhaps decades hence, Mr. Roberts might leave a drop of blood or semen at some crime scene.

Law enforcement officials say that DNA extraction upon arrest is no different than fingerprinting at routine bookings and that states purge profiles after people are cleared of suspicion. In practice, a number of defense lawyers say this is a laborious process that often involves a court order. (The F.B.I. says it has never received a request to purge a profile from its own database.)

When DNA is taken in error, expunging a profile can be just as difficult. In Pennsylvania, where DNA cannot be taken from juveniles for misdemeanors, Ellyn Sapper, a Philadelphia public defender, has spent weeks trying to expunge the profile of a 14-year-old boy guilty of assault and bicycle theft — his first misdemeanor. “I’m going to have to get a judge’s order to make sure that all references to his DNA are gone,” she said.

The police say that the potential hazards of genetic surveillance are worth it because it solves crimes and because DNA is more accurate than other physical evidence. “I’ve watched women go from mug-book to mug-book looking for the man who raped her,” said Mitch Morrissey, the Denver district attorney and an advocate for more expansive DNA sampling. “It saves women’s lives.”

Mr. Morrissey pointed to Britain, which has fewer privacy protections than the United States and has been taking DNA upon arrest for years. It has a population of 61 million — and 4.5 million DNA profiles. “What you find is that about 8 percent of the people commit about 70 percent of your crimes, so if you can get the majority of that community, you don’t have to do more than that,” he said.

In the United States, 8 percent of the population would be roughly 24 million people.

Britain may provide a window into America’s genetic surveillance future: As of March 2008, 857,000 people in the British database, or about one-fifth, have no current criminal record. In December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Britain’s practice of collecting DNA profiles from innocent people, including children as young as 10, violated international privacy protections.

Critics are also disturbed by the demographics of DNA databases, and again Britain’s example is instructive. According to a House of Commons report, 27 percent of black people and 42 percent of all black males are genetically registered, compared with 6 percent of white people.

As in Britain, expanding genetic sampling in the United States could exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system, according to Hank Greely, a Stanford University Law School professor who studies the intersection of genetics, policing and race. Mr. Greely estimated that African-Americans, who are about 12 percent of the national population, currently make up 40 percent of the DNA profiles in the federal database, reflective of their prison population. He also expects Latinos, who are about 13 percent of the population and committed 40 percent of last year’s federal offenses — nearly half of them immigration crimes, including illegal entry — to dominate DNA databases.

Enforcement officials contend that DNA is blind to race. Federal profiles include little more information than the DNA sequence and the referring police agency. Subjects’ names are usually kept by investigators.

Rock Harmon, a former prosecutor for Alameda County, Calif., and an adviser to crime laboratories, said DNA demographics reflected the criminal population. Even if an innocent man’s DNA was included in a genetic database, he said, it would come to nothing without a crime scene sample to match it. “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear,” he said.