Saturday, May 16, 2009



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:

(If you would like to be added to the BAUAW list-serve and receive this newsletter via email, send your name (opitional) and email address to: -- it's free. Please put "Add me to the list" in the subject line.)




Cold-blooded murder is still cold-blooded murder:

On Monday May 18, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Johannes Mehserle, the cop who killed Oscar Grant, goes to court. That day there needs to be massive protest outside the Alameda County Courthouse, at Fallon and 12th Streets. You need to be there to demand:



News Flash! Coming to Berkeley Wednesday May 20 - BRITISH MP GEORGE GALLOWAY, with CHRIS HEDGES & LAILA AL-ARIAN!

British MP George Galloway will speak about Gaza - in addition to Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian speaking from their book, "Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians" - see below!


Presented by the Middle East Children's Alliance, co-sponsored by KPFA, 94.1 fm

"We are embarking on an occupation that...will be as damaging to our souls our prestige, power and security."
-Chris Hedges just prior to the US invasion of Iraq

In their book Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians, journalists CHRIS HEDGES and LAILA AL-ARIAN bring us the voices of fifty U.S. combat vets with the moral courage to speak out: "Civilians are routinely run over or shot to death. Soldiers fire upon Iraqi vehicles with impunity. Late-night detentions...terrify women, traumatize children, and radicalize the young men caught in their dragnet."

Civilians ask: "Can you imagine being innocent and no one understands what you're saying? Not able to stop the car at a check point because the brakes don't work? Having your friends killed because they couldn't avoid a convoy?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - 7pm
Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School
1781 Rose Street, Berkeley
(near No. Bkly BART, free parking)

Tickets $15; $10 students/low income: $15 tickets also available at these local bookstores: (East Bay) Black Oak, Diesel, Pegasus/Solano, Pegasus/Shattuck, Walden Pond; (SF) Modern Times. Benefit for MECA, no one turned away for lack of funds.

ASL interpreted, Wheelchair Accessible

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and graduate of Harvard Divinity School. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism.

Laila Al-Arian is a writer/producer for Al Jazeera International. Her writings have been published in The Nation, UPI, and Alternet. She is a graduate of Columbia School of Journalism. Her father, professor and activist Sami Al-Arian, has been unjustly imprisoned on bogus charges of . violating the Patriot Act.


End the Siege of Gaza! Rally in San Francisco on June 6
Solidarity Day on the 42nd Anniversary of Israel's seizure of Gaza
Support the Palestinian Right of Return! Stop U.S. Aid to Israel!
Saturday, June 6
12:00 noon
UN Plaza (7th and Market Sts.)

Saturday, June 6 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli seizure of Gaza. Organizations and individuals in solidarity with the people of Palestine will be taking to the streets once again to demand: End the Siege of Gaza!

The world looked on in horror this past winter as Israel mercilessly starved and bombed the people of Gaza, killing around 1,200 Palestinians (at least a third of whom were children). The Arab world now refers to the dark days from the end of December to mid-January "The Gaza Massacre." Although the mainstream media no longer focuses on Gaza, the suffering continues there nonetheless. Using the pretext of combating terrorism, Israel has refused to allow in even one truckload of cement into Gaza. In other words, the city that was reduced to rubble still lies in rubble today. All these months later, people are still living in tents and are scarcely able to secure the necessities of life.

People of conscience around the world continue to raise their voices in outrage at this crime against humanity, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza. We will also stand for all Palestinian people's inalienable right to return to their homes from which they were evicted. Let your voice be heard -- join us Saturday, June 6, at 12 noon at UN Plaza in San Francisco (7th and Market Sts.). There will be a joint action in Washington DC on June 6.

Sponsoring organizations include ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom, National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), Al-Awda - Palestine Right of Return Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and more!

Contact us at 415-821-6545 or to endorse or volunteer!

The June 6 demonstration is a major undertaking and we can't do it without the support of the large number of people who are standing with Palestine. Please click this link right now to make a generous donation:


Dear Brothers and Sisters:

On behalf of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations, we are writing to invite you and members of your organization to attend a national antiwar conference to be held July 10-12, 2009 at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The purpose of this conference is to bring together antiwar and social justice activists from across the country to discuss and decide what we can do together to end the wars, occupations, bombing attacks, threats and interventions that are taking place in the Middle East and beyond, which the U.S. government is conducting and promoting.

We believe that such a conference will be welcomed by the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Iran, who are the victims of these policies. It will also be welcomed by victims of the depression-type conditions in this country, with tens of millions losing jobs, homes, health care coverage and pensions, while trillions of dollars are spent bailing out Wall Street and the banks, waging expansionist wars and occupations, and funding the Pentagon's insatiable appetite.

This will be the National Assembly's second conference. The first was held in Cleveland last June and it was attended by over 400 people, including top leaders of the antiwar movement and activists from many states. After discussion and debate, attendees voted - on the basis of one person, one vote - to urge the movement to join together for united spring actions. The National Assembly endorsed and helped build the March actions in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the April actions in New York City.

We are all aware of the developments since our last conference - the election of a new administration in the U.S., the ongoing occupation of Iraq, the escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the horrific Israeli bombing of Gaza, and the extreme peril of an additional war in the Middle East, this time against Iran. Given all this, it is crystal clear that a strong, united, independent antiwar movement is needed now more than ever. We urge you to help build such a movement by attending the July conference and sharing your ideas and proposals with other attendees regarding where the antiwar movement goes from here.

For more information, please visit the National Assembly's website at, email us at, or call 216-736-4704. We will be glad to send you upon request brochures announcing the July conference (a copy is attached) and you can also register for the conference online. [Please be aware that La Roche College is making available private rooms with baths at a very reasonable rate, but will only guarantee them if reserved by June 25.]

Yours for peace, justice and unity,
National Assembly Administrative Body

Zaineb Alani, Author of The Words of an Iraqi War Survivor & More; Colia Clark, Chair, Richard Wright Centennial Committee, Grandmothers for Mumia Abu-Jamal; Greg Coleridge, Coordinator, Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) and Economic Justice and Empowerment Program Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Alan Dale, Iraq Peace Action Coalition (MN); Donna Dewitt, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Jerry Gordon, Former National Co-Coordinator of the Vietnam-Era National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) and Member, U.S. Labor Against the War Steering Committee; Jonathan Hutto, Navy Petty Officer, Author of Anti-War Soldier; Co-Founder of Appeal for Redress; Marilyn Levin, Coordinating Committee, Greater Boston United for Justice with Peace, Middle East Crisis Coalition; Jeff Mackler, Founder, San Francisco Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice; Fred Mason, President, Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO and Co-Convenor, U.S. Labor Against the War; Mary Nichols-Rhodes, Progressive Democrats of America/Ohio Branch; Lynne Stewart, Lynne Stewart Organization/Long Time Attorney and Defender of Constitutional Rights [Bay Area United Against War also was represented at the founding conference and will be there again this year. Carole Seligman and I initiated the motion to include adding opposition to the War in Afghanistan to the demands and title of the National Assembly.





Dear all,

This morning's Chronicle has an opinion piece by Debra J. Saunders that is a smear on Kevin Cooper and the dissenting judges on the 9th circuit court. This follows closely on her smear on Mumia. (I wonder if she is a member of the Fraternal order of Police??)
Here's a key quote from today's piece:

"Cooper's lawyers have long argued that three white men killed the Ryens and Hughes - an argument Fletcher [the dissenting judge] repeated. But for Fletcher's scenario to work, a number of law enforcement officers would have had to engage in a complicated fraud to frame an innocent black man starting in 1983 and continuing as late as the DNA testing in 2002. If Fletcher is right, a lot of cops should be under investigation - then behind bars."


This piece must be answered. I wonder if Kevin's attorneys would do so.

Has anyone noticed if Saunders attacked Troy Davis too?

Carole Seligman, Bay Area United Against War

Kevin Cooper is guilty
Debra J. Saunders
Thursday, May 14, 2009

[This is truly a horrible article by an author oblivious to the facts. Just read the Request denial publication at:

You will see proof of a consistent frame-up by police. Do the police plant evidence? ALL THE TIME--IT'S ROUTINE!!!...Bonnie Weinstein]

Appeals court denies Kevin Cooper request
Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/11/2009 06:57:04 PM PDT
Download: Request denial publication at:
(See article in full, no. 11, below)



Congratulations to Jane Kim, Kim-Shree Maufas and Sandra Fewer for standing strong to prevent our kids from more of the following:

Counseling Was Ordered for Soldier in Iraq Shooting
May 13, 2009
(see Article in Full no. 13 below)

The rest of you can hold yourselves responsible for what is bound to happen to some of our children JROTC is now training. The military is not a game. JROTC is not a game. The blood, death, rape, murder, destruction is ongoing in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan! The U.S. military is turning our children into cold-blooded murderers. JROTC is their fake introduction into military life--as if it's all about achievement ribbons, awards and fatherly encouragement for advancement!

You four--Rachel Norton, Hydra Mendoza, Norman Yee and Jill Wynns--the blood will be on your hands. Real blood; real guns; real bombs; real lives from a fake PE program run, owned and operated by the U.S. military--the military that Martin Luther King coined, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world!"

We will not stop our fight against military presence--in all it's forms--preying on our children in our schools.


Bonnie Weinstein,

Bay Area United Against War,


Alert: This could be it for Troy Davis
Global Day of Action for Troy Davis
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

While news channels across the country are consumed with counting up to President Obama's first 100 days in office, Troy Davis has been counting down his last 30 days before a new execution date could be set. Help make these extra days count.
On May 19th help save Troy Davis by putting together any activity, event or creative action that calls attention to his case.

The 30-day stay issued by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals expires on May 15th.

So now is the time for us to organize to save the life of Troy Anthony Davis. We're asking everybody to come out strong on May 19th - a day marked in human rights calendars across the world as the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis.

Whether you're holding a "Text TROY to 90999" sign on a busy street or organizing your local Amnesty chapter to hold a public demonstration or vigil, we need everybody to contribute their time on May 19th to make sure that the state of Georgia does not kill a man who may well be innocent. Register your Global Day of Action for Troy Davis activity or event now.

We know that time is short for organizing public events, but an execution date could be set as early as late May, so it is essential that action be taken soon. It's also really important that we get an accurate count of how many events and activities are taking place on May 19th, so we can share this information with officials in Georgia. Our emails and phone calls have gone a long way in buying Troy some much-needed time, but now we've got to take our action to the streets.

We appreciate the tens of thousands of you who have stood in Troy's corner while heart-stopping scenes have unfolded. On three separate occasions, Troy has been scheduled for execution. And on three separate occasions, his life was saved within a short period of time, even minutes, of his scheduled execution date.

Each time, those last minute stays came after people like you turned out by the thousands to rally in his defense. It was no coincidence. Troy's sister and long-time Amnesty activist, Martina Correia, has acknowledged Amnesty's powerful role in saving her brother's life each of those times.

Now here we are again with the clock winding down. While we can see little opportunity for legal recourse or second chances, we know that your advocacy has a strong record of making amazing things happen.

When we first introduced you to Troy Davis in early 2007, few people outside of Georgia knew about the injustice taking place. In the past two years, countless people have come to see Troy's case as a prime example of why the death penalty must be abolished - the risk of executing someone for a crime they did not commit is just too high.

We are serious when we say that we need everyone to support Troy Davis on May 19th by organizing their own event or awareness-raising activity.

After all, if you had 30 days left to fight for your life, wouldn't you want to know that you had thousands standing in your corner?

In Solidarity,

Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International USA




1) Homeownership Losses Are Greatest Among Minorities, Report Finds
May 13, 2009

2) Formaldehyde Linked to Cancer Death
May 13, 2009

3) Out-of-Wedlock Birthrates Are Soaring, U.S. Reports
May 13, 2009

4) New Commander for Afghanistan
May 14, 2009

5) Jump in Food Costs Drives Up Prices
May 15, 2009

6) Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More
May 14, 2009

7) Afghan Villagers Describe Chaos of U.S. Strikes
May 15, 2009

8) Food Companies Are Placing the Onus for Safety on Consumers
May 15, 2009

9) U.S. Again Warns Britain on Detainee Memo
May 15, 2009

10) Protests in France Spread to Hospital Workers
May 15, 2009

11) Angry Ads Seek to Channel Consumer Outrage
May 15, 2009

12) Treasures Lost to Time
Op-Ed Columnist
May 16, 2009

13) Obama to Keep Tribunals; Stance Angers Some Backers
May 16, 2009

14) Minorities Affected Most as New York Foreclosures Rise
May 16, 2009


1) Homeownership Losses Are Greatest Among Minorities, Report Finds
May 13, 2009

After a decade of growth, the gains made in homeownership by African-Americans and native-born Latinos have been eroding faster in the economic downturn than those of whites, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The report also suggests that the gains for minority groups, achieved from 1995 to 2004, were disproportionately tied to relaxed lending standards and subprime loans.

An exception to the reversal of homeownership gains, the research shows, can be found among foreign-born Latinos, whose rate of ownership, while low, has stalled during the downturn but has not fallen.

After peaking at 69 percent in 2004, the rate of homeownership for all American households declined to 67.8 percent in 2008. For African-American households, it fell to 47.5 percent in 2008 from 49.4 percent in 2004. Latinos, native and foreign-born together, had a longer period of growth, with homeownership rising until 2006, to 49.8 percent, before falling to 48.9 percent last year. Homeownership for native-born Latinos fell to 53.6 percent from a high of 56.2 percent in 2005.

The decline among whites was more modest, to 74.9 percent last year from 76.1 percent in 2004.

So was the decline among immigrants, to 52.9 percent last year from 53.3 percent in 2006. Latino immigrants, who have the lowest rate of homeownership among the groups studied, did not lose any ground, remaining at the high of 44.7 percent they reached in 2007.

The numbers are a reflection that immigrants today have typically been living in the country longer than immigrants of the past, said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research for the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the nonprofit Pew Research Center. The longer immigrants are here, the more secure they tend to become. Among foreign-born Hispanics, "the force of assimilation into homeownership is strong," even during a downturn, Mr. Kochhar said.

The decline in homeownership among other groups, he said, reflects both high foreclosure rates and lower rates of home buying.

Even with the decline, the rate for all groups together remains higher than before the boom, with nearly 68 percent of American households owning homes last year, up from 64 percent in 1994.

The gaps between white and minority households remain significant, however, with homeownership rates for Asians (59.1 percent), blacks (47.5 percent) and Latinos (48.9 percent) well below the 74.9 percent among whites.

Like previous studies, the report found that blacks and Hispanics were more than twice as likely to have subprime mortgages as white homeowners, even among borrowers with comparable incomes. In 2006, the last year of heavy subprime lending, 17.5 percent of white home buyers took subprime loans, compared with 44.9 percent for Hispanics and 52.8 percent for blacks.

These loans, which typically require little or no down payment and are meant for borrowers with low credit scores, made homeownership possible for many black and Hispanic families during the boom years, but also led to high rates of foreclosure.

"Basically, that gap was closed on poor loans that never should have been made and wound up harming folks and their neighborhoods," said Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, an organization of nonprofit housing groups.

African-Americans and Latinos remain more likely than whites to be turned down for mortgages, with 26.1 percent of applications from Hispanics rejected in 2007, 30.4 percent of applications from blacks and 12.1 percent of applications from whites.

Though there were no figures available on the race or ethnicity of homeowners in foreclosure, the researchers found that counties with high concentrations of immigrants had particularly high foreclosure rates.

But the research did not suggest that high rates of immigration on their own caused high levels of foreclosure, Mr. Kochhar said. High unemployment, falling home prices, subprime loans and high ratios of debt to income all contributed.

Enrique Lopez, a Miami real estate agent, said that with the tightening of credit, his Hispanic clients had had a harder time getting mortgages than non-Hispanics, in part because they had lower credit scores.

Mr. Lopez, a member of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, said, "There are people we work with that make enough money, and we can't put them in homes."

Carmen Gentile contributed reporting.


2) Formaldehyde Linked to Cancer Death
May 13, 2009

Factory workers exposed to high levels of formaldehyde were more likely to die of cancers of the blood and lymphatic system than workers with low-level exposures, according to a study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute.

But the risk of dying of these cancers diminished over time after the exposure stopped, said Laura E. Beane Freeman, lead author of the study, which was published online Tuesday in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The research looked at some 14,000 deaths among 25,619 workers, most of them white men, who began working before 1966 at 10 plants that produced formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin.

In the four ensuing decades, the researchers found, workers with the highest peak exposures to formaldehyde had a 37 percent greater risk of death from all blood and lymphatic cancers combined than those with lower peak exposures.

That is a lower risk of death from these cancers than was found in the same group of workers 10 years ago, when their risk was 50 percent higher than that of workers with lower exposure levels. The difference between the rates then and now indicates that this risk diminishes as time passes after exposure has ended.

"You usually don't develop cancer right away - there's a latency period," Dr. Freeman said. "Then, after you're not exposed to whatever it is - after people stop smoking for a while, for example - the risk returns down to that of the base-line population."

The exposure had ended by 1980 for a vast majority of the workers, who had either retired or moved to desk jobs. The researchers tracked cancer deaths among them through 2004.

Responding to the study, the Formaldehyde Council, a trade group, noted that it did not clearly establish a cause-and-effect relationship between formaldehyde and cancer. The council, which also pointed out that the government regulates the product, called for "a full scientific review of the health effects of formaldehyde" by the National Academy of Sciences.

Formaldehyde is widely used in manufacturing and as a preservative and disinfectant, although workplace exposures have decreased over time because of tighter regulations. The chemical has long been suspected of playing a role in the unusual number of leukemia deaths among pathologists and embalmers, who are periodically exposed to high levels.

Indeed, formaldehyde is also associated with nasopharyngeal cancer, a disease of the upper part of the throat, behind the nose, and has been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.


3) Out-of-Wedlock Birthrates Are Soaring, U.S. Reports
May 13, 2009

WASHINGTON - Unmarried mothers gave birth to 4 out of every 10 babies born in the United States in 2007, a share that is increasing rapidly both here and abroad, according to government figures released Wednesday.

Before 1970, most unmarried mothers were teenagers. But in recent years the birthrate among unmarried women in their 20s and 30s has soared - rising 34 percent since 2002, for example, in women ages 30 to 34. In 2007, women in their 20s had 60 percent of all babies born out of wedlock, teenagers had 23 percent and women 30 and older had 17 percent.

Much of the increase in unmarried births has occurred among parents who are living together but are not married, cohabitation arrangements that tend to be less stable than marriages, studies show.

The pattern has been particularly pronounced among Hispanic women, climbing 20 percent from 2002 to 2006, the most recent year for which racial breakdowns are available. Eleven percent of unmarried Hispanic women had a baby in 2006, compared with 7 percent of unmarried black women and 3 percent of unmarried white women, according to government data drawn from birth certificates.

Titled "Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States," the report was released by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Out-of-wedlock births are also rising in much of the industrialized world: in Iceland, 66 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers; in Sweden, the share is 55 percent. (In other societies, though, the phenomenon remains rare - just 2 percent in Japan, for example.)

But experts say the increases in the United States are of greater concern because couples in many other countries tend to be more stable and government support for children is often higher.

"In Sweden, you see very little variation in the outcome of children based on marital status. Everybody does fairly well," said Wendy Manning, a professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. "In the U.S., there's much more disparity."

Children born out of wedlock in the United States tend to have poorer health and educational outcomes than those born to married women, but that may be because unmarried mothers tend to share those problems.

Decades ago, pregnant women often married before giving birth. But the odds of separation and divorce in unions driven by pregnancy are relatively high. So when a woman gets pregnant, are children better off if their parents marry, cohabitate or do neither? That question is still unresolved, Dr. Manning said.

Some experts speculate that marriage or cohabitation cements financial and emotional bonds between children and fathers that survive divorce or separation, improving outcomes for children. But since familial instability is often damaging to children, they may be better off with mothers who never cohabitate or marry than with those who form unions that are later broken.

"There is no consensus on those questions," Dr. Manning said.

In an enduring mystery, birthrates for unmarried women in the United States stabilized between 1995 and 2002 and declined among unmarried teenagers and black women. But after 2002, the overall birthrate among unmarried women resumed its steady climb. In 1940, just 3.8 percent of births were to unmarried women.

The District of Columbia and Mississippi had the highest rates of out-of-wedlock births in 2007: 59 percent and 54 percent, respectively. The lowest rate, 20 percent, was in Utah. In New York, the rate was 41 percent; in New Jersey, 34 percent; and in Connecticut, 35 percent. Sarah S. Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit advocacy group, said sex and pregnancy were handled far too cavalierly in the United States, where rates of unplanned pregnancies, births and abortions are far higher than those of other industrialized nations.

"These trends may meet the needs of young adults," she said, "but it's far from clear that it's helpful for children."


4) New Commander for Afghanistan
May 14, 2009

The war in Afghanistan is not going well. And President Obama has the right to choose his own top commander. We hope that his decision this week to fire Gen. David McKiernan and replace him with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal means that the president and his team have come up with a strategy that will combine aggressive counterinsurgency tactics with economic development. That is the only chance for turning around a must-win war that America isn't winning.

We also hope that General McChrystal, who is an expert in special operations, will do a better job at limiting the number of civilian casualties that are helping to drive more Afghans into the Taliban camp.

Continued Taliban gains would bring even greater suffering to the Afghan people. It would also mean wider sanctuaries for terrorists plotting attacks against the United States and Europe and even greater instability in Pakistan. General McChrystal, a hard-driving and talented officer, impressed his superiors during his five years running Special Operations commando missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's a strong résumé. But other qualities are needed as well.

Success in Afghanistan will also require effective training for the Afghan Army and police forces so they can stand on their own, strengthened local institutions and an effort to rein in the officially condoned corruption and drug trafficking that have turned so many Afghans against their own national and local governments. And it will require skillful diplomacy with other NATO generals to ensure the best use of tens of thousands of allied troops in Afghanistan and with Pakistani military leaders who must do a lot more to deny cross-border sanctuaries and infiltration routes to Taliban fighters.

General McKiernan does not deserve the blame for the dismal military situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban had been gaining ground long before he took charge, in large measure because the Bush administration - focused on its misguided war in Iraq - failed for so many years to invest adequate troops, resources or attention to the Afghan fight.

General McKiernan publicly argued that many more American troops were needed. He was right, and more are on the way. But that apparently wasn't enough for either Defense Secretary Robert Gates or for the top American regional commander, Gen. David Petraeus.

The challenges now fall to General McChrystal, whose impressive military reputation rests in part on such stunning exploits as the capture of Saddam Hussein and the location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Both were carried out by special forces under his command.

Less impressively, some of his commando units were implicated in abusive interrogations of Iraqi prisoners. And it was General McChrystal who approved the falsified report that covered up the 2004 friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

These issues came at the time of his confirmation last year for his present job as director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Before confirming him in his new command, senators must assure themselves that he has learned the hard lessons from these mistakes and will insist on lawful treatment of detainees and candid military reporting.


5) Jump in Food Costs Drives Up Prices
May 15, 2009

Wholesale prices in the United States rose slightly in April, the government reported on Thursday, as falling oil and gasoline prices leveled off and food prices rose the most in a year.

The Labor Department reported that prices received by producers of finished goods rose 0.3 percent last month, further discounting the prospect that the economy was veering into a vicious cycle of lower prices and lower wages known as deflation.

But for some economists, the prospect of rising energy and food prices at a time of deep unemployment and shrinking wages raised concerns that strapped consumers could see their cost of living rise even as the job market continued to get worse.

Although falling producer and consumer prices raised fears about deflation last year as the recession deepened and the financial crisis broke, the end of $4-a-gallon gas and lower heating and energy costs effectively put billions of dollars into consumers' pockets.

"There's this squeeze going on," John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia Corporation, said. "We still have job losses. We still have a lot of pressure. And now you're going to tell me that a lot of these basic commodities are rising? People's real income is going to get squeezed."

The price index for intermediate goods fell 0.5 percent while the price for crude goods rose 3 percent because of rising food and energy prices.

Wholesale and consumer prices have stabilized somewhat this year, although producer prices are down 3.7 percent from last April. The Federal Reserve said it was concerned about anemically low inflation, but expected that inflation would run at a rate of 0.3 percent to 1 percent this year.

Much of the increase in producer prices in April was the result of a 1.5 percent jump in food prices. Egg prices rose sharply while prices for beef, coffee, vegetables and fresh fruit also increased.

Gasoline prices rose 2.6 percent, reflecting the end of a plunge in crude oil prices after rounds of production cuts by the OPEC cartel and a plateau in demand for oil and gasoline. Crude prices have risen from their recent lows of $33 a barrel to almost $60, and gasoline prices have ticked up to nearly $2.30 a gallon, according to AAA, the automobile club.

The so-called core Producer Price Index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.1 percent after staying flat a month earlier.

Also on Thursday, the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for unemployment rose more than expected last week, to 637,000 from a revised 605,000 the week before. Much of the increase was to the result of layoffs in the automobile industry, which is shrinking rapidly as it tries to stay afloat.


6) Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More
May 14, 2009

IMPERIAL, Calif. - Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

The responding officers - eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 - face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots - BAM! BAM! - fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

"United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!" screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence - an intense ratcheting up of one of the group's longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

"This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl," said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff's deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. "It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts."

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out "active shooters," like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

"Put him on his face and put a knee in his back," a Border Patrol agent explained. "I guarantee that he'll shut up."

One participant, Felix Arce, 16, said he liked "the discipline of the program," which was something he said his life was lacking. "I want to be a lawyer, and this teaches you about how crimes are committed," he said.

Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns - known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets - in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

"I like shooting them," Cathy said. "I like the sound they make. It gets me excited."

If there are critics of the content or purpose of the law enforcement training, they have not made themselves known to the Explorers' national organization in Irving, Tex., or to the volunteers here on the ground, national officials and local leaders said. That said, the Explorers have faced problems over the years. There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them.

Several years ago, two University of Nebraska criminal justice professors published a study that found at least a dozen cases of sexual abuse involving police officers over the last decade. Adult Explorer leaders are now required to take an online training program on sexual misconduct.

Many law enforcement officials, particularly those who work for the rapidly growing Border Patrol, part of the Homeland Security Department, have helped shape the program's focus and see it as preparing the Explorers as potential employees. The Explorer posts are attached to various agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police and fire departments, that sponsor them much the way churches sponsor Boy Scout troops.

"Our end goal is to create more agents," said April McKee, a senior Border Patrol agent and mentor at the session here.

Membership in the Explorers has been overseen since 1998 by an affiliate of the Boy Scouts called Learning for Life, which offers 12 career-related programs, including those focused on aviation, medicine and the sciences.

But the more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers' most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group's 145,000 members, said John Anthony, national director of Learning for Life. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many posts have taken on an emphasis of fighting terrorism and other less conventional threats.

"Before it was more about the basics," said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. "But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling."

The law enforcement posts are restricted to those ages 14 to 21 who have a C average, but there seems to be some wiggle room. "I will take them at 13 and a half," Deputy Lowenthal said. "I would rather take a kid than possibly lose a kid."

The law enforcement programs are highly decentralized, and each post is run in a way that reflects the culture of its sponsoring agency and region. Most have weekly meetings in which the children work on their law-enforcement techniques in preparing for competitions. Weekends are often spent on service projects.

Just as there are soccer moms, there are Explorers dads, who attend the competitions, man the hamburger grill and donate their land for the simulated marijuana field raids. In their training, the would-be law-enforcement officers do not mess around, as revealed at a recent competition on the state fairgrounds here, where a Ferris wheel sat next to the police cars set up for a felony investigation.

Their hearts pounding, Explorers moved down alleys where there were hidden paper targets of people pointing guns, and made split-second decisions about when to shoot. In rescuing hostages from a bus taken over by terrorists, a baby-faced young girl screamed, "Separate your feet!" as she moved to handcuff her suspect.

In a competition in Arizona that he did not oversee, Deputy Lowenthal said, one role-player wore traditional Arab dress. "If we're looking at 9/11 and what a Middle Eastern terrorist would be like," he said, "then maybe your role-player would look like that. I don't know, would you call that politically incorrect?"

Authenticity seems to be the goal. Imperial County, in Southern California, is the poorest in the state, and the local economy revolves largely around the criminal justice system. In addition to the sheriff and local police departments, there are two state prisons and a large Border Patrol and immigration enforcement presence.

"My uncle was a sheriff's deputy," said Alexandra Sanchez, 17, who joined the Explorers when she was 13. Alexandra's police uniform was baggy on her lithe frame, her airsoft gun slung carefully to the side. She wants to be a coroner.

"I like the idea of having law enforcement work with medicine," she said. "This is a great program for me."

And then she was off to another bus hijacking.


7) Afghan Villagers Describe Chaos of U.S. Strikes
May 15, 2009

FARAH, Afghanistan - The number of civilians killed by the American airstrikes in Farah Province last week may never be fully known. But villagers, including two girls recovering from burn wounds, described devastation that officials and human rights workers are calling the worst episode of civilian casualties in eight years of war in Afghanistan.

"We were very nervous and afraid and my mother said, 'Come quickly, we will go somewhere and we will be safe,' " said Tillah, 12, recounting from a hospital bed how women and children fled the bombing by taking refuge in a large compound, which was then hit.

The bombs were so powerful that people were ripped to shreds. Survivors said they collected only pieces of bodies. Several villagers said that they could not distinguish all of the dead and that they never found some of their relatives.

Government officials have accepted handwritten lists compiled by the villagers of 147 dead civilians. An independent Afghan human rights group said it had accounts from interviews of 117 dead. American officials say that even 100 is an exaggeration but have yet to issue their own count.

The calamity in the village of Granai, some 18 miles from here, illustrates in the grimmest terms the test for the Obama administration as it deploys more than 20,000 additional troops here and appoints a new commander, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in search of a fresh approach to combat the tenacious Taliban insurgency.

It is bombings like this one that have turned many Afghans against the American-backed government and the foreign military presence. The events in Granai have raised sharp questions once again about the appropriateness and effectiveness of aerial bombardment in a guerrilla war in which the insurgents deliberately blend into the civilian population to fight and flee.

Taliban insurgents are well aware of the weakness and are making the most of it, American and Afghan officials say. Farah, a vast province in the west, contains only a smattering of foreign special forces and trainers who work among Afghan police and army units. Exploiting the thin spread of forces, the insurgents sought to seize control of Granai and provoke a fierce battle over the heads of the civilian population, Afghan and American officials say.

After hours of fighting and taking a number of casualties, the American forces called in their heaviest weapon, airstrikes, on at least three targets in the village.

The rapid mass burial of the victims and the continuing presence of insurgents in the area have hampered investigations. Journalists were advised against visiting Granai. Villagers were interviewed here in Farah, the provincial capital, where they came to collect compensation payments, and in the neighboring province of Herat, where some were taken for treatment.

Much of the villagers' descriptions matched accounts given by the United States military spokesman, Col. Greg Julian, and the provincial police chief, Col. Abdul Ghafar Watandar. But they differed on one important point: whether the Taliban had already left Granai before the bombing began.

There was particular anger among the villagers that the bombing came after, they say, the Taliban had already left at dusk, and the fighting had subsided, so much so that men had gone to evening prayers at 7 p.m. and returned and were sitting down with their families for dinner.

The police chief said that sporadic fighting continued into the night and that the Taliban were probably in the village until 1 a.m.

Whatever the case, American planes bombed after 8 p.m. in several waves when most of the villagers thought the fighting was over; and whatever the actual number of casualties, it is clear from the villagers' accounts that dozens of women and children were killed after taking cover.

One group went to a spacious compound owned by a man named Said Naeem, on the north side of the village, where the two girls were wounded. Only one woman and six children in the compound survived, one of their fathers said.

Another group gathered in the house of the village imam, or religious leader, Mullah Manan. That, too, was bombed, causing an equally large number of casualties, villagers said. Colonel Julian, the American military spokesman, said that the airstrikes hit houses from which the Taliban were firing. The enormous explosions left such devastation that villagers struggled to describe it. "There was someone's legs, someone's shoulders, someone's hands," said Said Jamal, an old white-bearded man with rheumy eyes, who lost two sons and a daughter. "The dead were so many."

A joint government and United States military delegation visited Granai last week but came back sharply divided in their conclusions. The Afghan government said that 140 civilians were killed and 25 wounded, and that 12 houses were destroyed.

The United States military said the Afghan numbers were far too high. This week, a senior military investigator, Brig. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III of the United States Army, arrived to conduct an in-depth inquiry for the region's overall military commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus.

An independent Afghan organization, Afghanistan Rights Monitor, said Wednesday that at least 117 civilians were killed - including 26 women and 61 children - drawing on interviews with 21 villagers and relatives of the dead. The group criticized both the Taliban for fighting among civilians, and the United States military for using excessive force.

The police chief, Colonel Watandar, confirmed much of the villagers' accounts of the fighting. A large group of Taliban fighters, numbering about 400, they estimated, entered the village and took up positions at dawn on May 4. By midmorning, the Taliban began attacks on police posts on the main road, just yards from the village, they said.

The fighting raged all day. The police called in more police officers, Afghan Army units and an American quick reaction force from the town of Farah as reinforcements.

By midafternoon, the exchanges escalated sharply and moved deeper into the village. Taliban fighters were firing from the houses, and at one point a Marine unit called in airstrikes to allow Marines to go forward and rescue a wounded Afghan soldier, said Colonel Julian, the United States military spokesman. After that, Taliban fire dropped significantly, he said.

A villager named Multan said that one house along the southern edge of the village was hit by a bomb and that one Taliban fighter was killed there. But villagers did not report any civilian casualties until the American planes bombed that night.

Tillah, the 12-year-old girl, whose face bears the scars of a scorching blast, still twisted in pain from the burning in her leg at the provincial hospital in Herat, where she and other survivors were taken to a special burn unit. Her two sisters, Freshta, 5, and Nuria, 7, were barely visible under the bandages swathing their heads and limbs.

The three girls were visiting their aunt's house with their mother when a plane bombed the nearby mosque, around 8 p.m., Tillah said. That is when they fled to Said Naeem's seven-room home.

"When we reached there we felt safe and I fell asleep," Tillah said. She said she heard the buzzing noise of a plane, but then only remembers coming to when someone pulled her from the rubble the next morning.

A second girl, Nazo, 9, beside her in another hospital bed, said she saw two red flashes in the courtyard that kicked up dust seconds before the explosion.

"I heard a loud explosion and the compound was burning and the roof fell in," she said. Seven members of the family with her died, and four were wounded, her father, Said Malham, said.

"Why do they target the Taliban inside the village?" he asked wearily. "Why don't they bomb them when they are outside the village?"

"The foreigners are guilty," he continued. "Why don't they bomb their targets, but instead they come and bomb our houses?"

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.


8) Food Companies Are Placing the Onus for Safety on Consumers
May 15, 2009

The frozen pot pies that sickened an estimated 15,000 people with salmonella in 2007 left federal inspectors mystified. At first they suspected the turkey. Then they considered the peas, carrots and potatoes.

The pie maker, ConAgra Foods, began spot-checking the vegetables for pathogens, but could not find the culprit. It also tried cooking the vegetables at high temperatures, a strategy the industry calls a "kill step," to wipe out any lingering microbes. But the vegetables turned to mush in the process.

So ConAgra - which sold more than 100 million pot pies last year under its popular Banquet label - decided to make the consumer responsible for the kill step. The "food safety" instructions and four-step diagram on the 69-cent pies offer this guidance: "Internal temperature needs to reach 165° F as measured by a food thermometer in several spots."

Increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients. In this case, ConAgra could not pinpoint which of the more than 25 ingredients in its pies was carrying salmonella. Other companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers, interviews and documents show.

Yet the supply chain for ingredients in processed foods - from flavorings to flour to fruits and vegetables - is becoming more complex and global as the drive to keep food costs down intensifies. As a result, almost every element, not just red meat and poultry, is now a potential carrier of pathogens, government and industry officials concede.

In addition to ConAgra, other food giants like Nestlé and the Blackstone Group, a New York firm that acquired the Swanson and Hungry-Man brands two years ago, concede that they cannot ensure the safety of items - from frozen vegetables to pizzas - and that they are shifting the burden to the consumer. General Mills, which recalled about five million frozen pizzas in 2007 after an E. coli outbreak, now advises consumers to avoid microwaves and cook only with conventional ovens. ConAgra has also added food safety instructions to its other frozen meals, including the Healthy Choice brand.

Peanuts were considered unlikely culprits for pathogens until earlier this year when a processing plant in Georgia was blamed for salmonella poisoning that is estimated to have killed nine people and sickened 27,000. Now, white pepper is being blamed for dozens of salmonella illnesses on the West Coast, where a widening recall includes other spices and six tons of frozen egg rolls.

The problem is particularly acute with frozen foods, in which unwitting consumers who buy these products for their convenience mistakenly think that their cooking is a matter of taste and not safety.

Federal regulators have pushed companies to beef up their cooking instructions with the detailed "food safety" guides. But the response has been varied, as a review of packaging showed. Some manufacturers fail to list explicit instructions; others include abbreviated guidelines on the side of their boxes in tiny print. A Hungry-Man pot pie asks consumers to ensure that the pie reaches a temperature that is 11 degrees short of the government-established threshold for killing pathogens. Questioned about the discrepancy, Blackstone acknowledged it was using an older industry standard that it would rectify when it printed new cartons.

Government food safety officials also point to efforts by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, a nonprofit group founded by the Clinton administration. But the partnership consists of a two-person staff and an annual budget of $300,000. Its director, Shelley Feist, said she has wanted to start a campaign to advise consumers about frozen foods, but lacks the money.

Estimating the risk to consumers is difficult. The industry says that it is acting with an abundance of caution, and that big outbreaks of food-borne illness are rare. At the same time, a vast majority of the estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness every year go unreported or are not traced to the source.

Home Cooking

Some food safety experts say they do not think the solution should rest with the consumer. Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said companies like ConAgra were asking too much. "I do not believe that it is fair to put this responsibility on the back of the consumer, when there is substantial confusion about what it means to prepare that product," Dr. Osterholm said.

And the ingredient chain for frozen and other processed foods is poised to get more convoluted, industry insiders say. While the global market for ingredients is projected to reach $34 billion next year, the pressure to keep food prices down in a recession is forcing food companies to look for ways to cut costs.

Ensuring the safety of ingredients has been further complicated as food companies subcontract processing work to save money: smaller companies prepare flavor mixes and dough that a big manufacturer then assembles. "There is talk of having passports for ingredients," said Jamie Rice, the marketing director of RTS Resource, a research firm based in England. "At each stage they are signed off on for quality and safety. That would help companies, if there is a scare, in tracing back."

But government efforts to impose tougher trace-back requirements for ingredients have met with resistance from food industry groups including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which complained to the Food and Drug Administration: "This information is not reasonably needed and it is often not practical or possible to provide it."

Now, in the wake of polls that show food poisoning incidents are shaking shopper confidence, the group is re-evaluating its position. A new industry guide produced by the group urges companies to test for salmonella and cites recent outbreaks from cereal, children's snacks and other dry foods that companies have mistakenly considered immune to pathogens.

Research on raw ingredients, the guide notes, has found salmonella in 0.14 percent to 1.3 percent of the wheat flour sampled, and up to 8 percent of the raw spices tested.

ConAgra's pot pie outbreak began on Feb. 20, 2007, and by the time it trailed off nine months later 401 cases of salmonella infection had been identified in 41 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates that for every reported case, an additional 38 are not detected or reported.

It took until June 2007 for health officials to discover the illnesses were connected, and in October they traced the salmonella to Banquet pot pies made at ConAgra's plant in Marshall, Mo.

While investigators who went to the plant were never able to pinpoint the salmonella source, inspectors for the United States Department of Agriculture focused on the vegetables, a federal inspection document shows.

ConAgra had not been requiring its suppliers to test the vegetables for pathogens, even though some were being shipped from Latin America. Nor was ConAgra conducting its own pathogen tests.

The company says the outbreak and management changes prompted it to undertake a broad range of safety initiatives, including testing for microbes in all of the pie ingredients. ConAgra said it was also trying to apply the kill step to as many ingredients as possible, but had not yet found a way to accomplish it without making the pies "unpalatable."

Its Banquet pies now have some of the most graphic food safety instructions, complete with a depiction of a thermometer piercing the crust.

Pressed to say whether the meals are safe to eat if consumers disregard the instructions or make an error, Stephanie Childs, a company spokeswoman, said, "Our goal is to provide the consumer with as safe a product as possible, and we are doing everything within our ability to provide a safe product to them."

"We are always improving food safety," Ms. Childs said. "This is a long ongoing process."

The U.S.D.A. said it required companies to show that their cooking instructions, when properly followed, would kill any pathogens. ConAgra says it has done such testing to validate its instructions.

Getting to 'Kill Step'

But attempts by The New York Times to follow the directions on several brands of frozen meals, including ConAgra's Banquet pot pies, failed to achieve the required 165-degree temperature. Some spots in the pies heated to only 140 degrees even as parts of the crust were burnt.

A ConAgra consumer hotline operator said the claims by microwave-oven manufacturers about their wattage power could not be trusted, and that any pies not heated enough should not be eaten. "We definitely want it to reach that 165-degree temperature," she said. "It's a safety issue."

In 2007, the U.S.D.A.'s inspection of the ConAgra plant in Missouri found records that showed some of ConAgra's own testing of its directions failed to achieve "an adequate lethality" in several products, including its Chicken Fried Beef Steak dinner. Even 18 minutes in a large conventional oven brought the pudding in a Kid Cuisine Chicken Breast Nuggets meal to only 142 degrees, the federal agency found.

Besides improving its own cooking directions, ConAgra says it has alerted other frozen food manufacturers to the food safety issues.

But in the absence of meaningful federal rules, other frozen-dinner makers that face the same problem with ingredients are taking varied steps, some less rigorous. Jim Seiple, a food safety official with the Blackstone unit that makes Swanson and Hungry-Man pot pies, said the company tested for pathogens, but only after preliminary tests for bacteria that were considered indicators of pathogens - a method that ConAgra abandoned after its salmonella outbreak.

The pot pie instructions have built-in margins of error, Mr. Seiple said, and the risk to consumers depended on "how badly they followed our directions."

Some frozen food companies are taking different approaches to pathogens. Amy's Kitchen, a California company that specializes in natural frozen foods, says it precooks its ingredients to kill any potential pathogens before its pot pies and other products leave the factory.

Using a bacteriological testing laboratory, The Times checked several pot pies made by Amy's and the three leading brands, and while none contained salmonella or E. coli, one pie each of two brands - Banquet, and the Stouffer's brand made by Nestlé - had significant levels of T. coliform.

These bacteria are common in many foods and are not considered harmful. But their presence in these products include raw ingredients and leave open "a potential for contamination," said Harvey Klein, the director of Garden State Laboratories in New Jersey.

A Nestlé spokeswoman said the company enhanced its food safety instructions in the wake of ConAgra's salmonella outbreak.

Danger in the Fridge

ConAgra's episode has raised its visibility among victims like Ryan Warren, a 25-year-old law school student in Washington. A Seattle lawyer, Bill Marler, brought suit against ConAgra on behalf of Mr. Warren's daughter Zoë, who had just turned 1 year old when she was fed a pot pie that he says put her in the hospital for a terrifying weekend of high fever and racing pulse.

"You don't assume these dangers to be right in your freezer," said Mr. Warren, who settled with ConAgra. He does not own a food thermometer and was not certain his microwave oven met the minimum 1,100-wattage requirement in the new pot pie instructions. "I do think that consumers bear responsibility to reasonably look out for their well-being, but the entire reason for this product to exist is for its convenience."

Public health officials who interviewed the Warrens and other victims of the pot-pie contamination found that fewer than one in three knew the wattage of their microwave ovens, according to the C.D.C. report on the outbreak. The report notes, however, that nearly one in four of the victims reported cooking their pies in conventional ovens.

For more than a decade, the U.S.D.A. has also sought to encourage consumers to use food thermometers. But the agency's statistics on how many Americans do so are discouraging. According to its Web site, not quite half the population has one, and only 3 percent use it when cooking high-risk foods like hamburgers. No data was available on how many people use thermometers on pot pies.

Andrew Martin contributed reporting.


9) U.S. Again Warns Britain on Detainee Memo
May 15, 2009

LONDON - Renewing a warning given to Britain while President George W. Bush was in office, the Obama administration has threatened to curb the exchange of intelligence information between the countries if a British court makes public the details of the interrogation techniques used against a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who claims he was tortured.

In a letter forwarded to the High Court in London by British government lawyers this month, the Obama administration said the flow of information could be affected if the court made public a summary prepared by the Bush administration for Britain's Foreign Office on the treatment of the former detainee, Binyam Mohamed. Mr. Mohamed, 30, a citizen of Ethiopia who was arrested as a suspected terrorist in Pakistan in 2002, was released from Guantánamo and flown to Britain three months ago.

Lawyers acting on his behalf confirmed that a letter containing the Obama administration's warning was submitted by the British government to the court hearing a petition by a group of news organizations, including The New York Times, that are seeking the release of the Bush administration memo.

The renewed threat of curbs on intelligence cooperation was first reported by news agencies covering the British court case last week, and quotations from the Obama administration letter appeared in The Washington Times on Tuesday.

Although the Obama administration has criticized the harsh interrogation methods approved during the Bush years and has vowed to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the White House has declined to take certain tough actions demanded by critics of the previous administration's stances.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency, George Little, said that the issue would not cause a breach in American-British relations, "including on matters related to counterterrorism."

Lawyers involved in the court case are bound by a court order not to disclose the contents of crucial documents, including the letter threatening curbs on intelligence cooperation, at least until the judges decide whether to order the publication of the summary of Mr. Mohamed's treatment. That decision is expected within weeks. But the lawyers confirmed the accuracy of the quotations from the letter that appeared in The Washington Times.

The letter warned that if the British government "is unable to protect information we provide to it, even if that inability is caused by your judicial system, we will necessarily have to review with the greatest care the sensitivity of information we can provide in the future."

The letter also said the "seven paragraphs at issue are based upon classified information shared between our countries," and that "public disclosure of this information reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the United Kingdom's national security" if the United States withheld intelligence information in the future.

Under pressure from the British government, Mr. Mohamed was flown to Britain in February after terrorist charges against him at Guantánamo were abandoned. The charges were dropped after American officials acknowledged that some of the evidence against him was obtained during the questioning of Abu Zubaydah, a senior figure in Al Qaeda who was subjected to waterboarding - simulated drowning.

Britain sought Mr. Mohamed's his return to Britain on the grounds that he gained the temporary right of asylum here in the mid-1990s. He was released from custody hours after arriving in Britain. He has claimed that he was tortured during the seven years he was moved by the United States to prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan before he was taken to Guantánamo.

He has said that interrogators in Morocco tortured him by using razor blades to score his genitals and chest. He has denied American claims that he attended a Qaeda-run terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration was dealt a setback in another case involving Mr. Mohamed last month when a federal appeals court ruled that a civil lawsuit brought by him and four other men who say they were tortured could proceed. The Bush administration had intervened in the suit against an American aircraft services company that was contracted to assist in the transfer of detainees, asking a judge to throw out the case because its subject matter was a state secret.

The Obama administration pressed forward with its predecessor's stance. The court said the government could ask judges to conduct a case-by-case review of what documents to disclose.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Raymond Bonner from St. Andrews, Scotland.


10) Protests in France Spread to Hospital Workers
May 15, 2009

PARIS - In a further sign of discontent with President Nicolas Sarkozy's legislative program two years into his mandate, hospital workers took to the streets of France on Thursday to show their anger over government policy, while protesters continued to block students from some universities.

Coming after two large strikes in recent months, demonstrations on May 1 and several cases of workers' kidnapping their bosses to protest layoffs, the agitation is adding to the sense of anger about government measures. Yet the continued weakness of the political opposition and the unwillingness of the biggest unions to pursue more radical action is allowing the government to hold the line for now.

"We have a paradoxical situation," said François Dubet, a professor at the University of Bordeaux. "On the one hand, there is rising discontent; on the other, the opposition is quite dispersed and hasn't yet created a unified movement."

The agitation is causing unease within the government. "The problem is that the government was elected on a free-market platform, and in the current climate it's becoming harder to defend those changes," said a cabinet official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

On Thursday, doctors and hospital workers came together on the streets to express their concern that a law proposed by Heath Minister Roselyne Bachelot would shift the balance between hospital directors and doctors. Many fear that government-appointed administrators would impose performance targets, allowing layoffs and eliminating public services.

The government says the changes are needed to streamline service. It has talked about the need for "a true culture of results."

Protests were held in up to 30 cities, the largest in Paris, which was attended by 14,000, according to Cécile Marchand, spokeswoman for the health segment of the Confédération Générale du Travail union. The police said there had been about 8,500 protesters across France.

University students and employees joined the protests, held their own demonstrations and continued to block access to campuses; more than a dozen universities remain paralyzed by that movement, raising the threat that students will not be able to take exams. That dispute has been smoldering since early this year. It aims to force the withdrawal of unpopular laws giving university chiefs more power.

Some expect this will lead to a two-tier system, with humanities and social sciences suffering as they fail to attract funding, and a rise in tuition fees as universities compete with each other.

Mr. Sarkozy said Thursday that he would not back down, declaring the changes to be "in the interest of our students and our universities."

The government says about 15 of France's 82 state universities are still disrupted and about 50,000 students are uncertain about exams. A pressure group called Save the Universities 39 universities are still on total or partial strike.

Valérie Pécresse, the education minister, said Thursday that exams could be held in mid July at blocked universities, and even as late as September. In recent days, students at several universities, including Grenoble and Dijon, voted to end their action.


11) Angry Ads Seek to Channel Consumer Outrage
May 15, 2009

The mad men of Madison Avenue are really mad these days, creating a spate of angry advertising campaigns that seek to channel the outrage, frustration and fear felt by consumers hit hard by what some are calling the Great Recession.

The campaigns take an outspoken, provocative tone that is unusual for mainstream marketing messages, which typically try to avoid aggrieved attitudes for fear of alienating audiences. The change reflects the significant shift in sentiment as the public reacts to the wrenching and, at times, frightening financial events of the last year.

"We're turning up the volume in relation to what our customers are feeling," said Jeffrey W. Hayzlett, chief marketing officer at the Eastman Kodak Company, which is running ads for a new line of printers and inkjet cartridges that rant about a "$5 billion stain" on the economy caused by "overpaying" for other brands of inkjet printer ink.

"It's a departure for us," Mr. Hayzlett acknowledged, given the "touchy-feely" image the Kodak brand has long had, but "it's right for today's times."

Other brands trying to echo consumer anger include Post Shredded Wheat cereal, which declares in new ads that "Progress is overrated" and "Innovation is not your friend." JetBlue Airways revels in the discomfort of chief executives forced off corporate jets by greeting them with a sardonic "Welcome aboard."

Miller High Life is being sold by a blue-collar character who delights in removing the beer from hoity-toity bars, restaurants and stores that he believes are shortchanging shoppers. And Harley-Davidson deplores "the stink of greed and billion-dollar bankruptcies" in a campaign that carries a rallying cry defiant enough to be unprintable in a family newspaper. "It felt like something that needed to be said," said Jim Nelson, chief creative officer at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, the Interpublic Group agency that creates ads for Harley-Davidson.

The idea is to respond to "this climate of fear and worry and 'What's going to happen?' " Mr. Nelson said, with a campaign that will "strike an emotional chord."

"That unconventional, rebellious tone, that 'I'm going to live my life no matter what,' is something a lot of people could relate to," he added.

Indeed, Harley-Davidson has increased its market share since the campaign began in May 2008, Mr. Nelson said, and there have been "thousands and thousands of comments" praising the ads.

Kodak, Mr. Hayzlett said, is also pleased with the results of its angry ads, which are being created by Deutsch in New York, another Interpublic Group agency. Sales are "exceeding expectations" for printers and ink cartridges, he said.

The campaigns represent the intensification of a trend that began last spring, when the economy started to show signs of stress. Harley-Davidson was among the first marketers to try telling consumers it, too, was angry about how things were going.

"You need to walk in the shoes of the average consumers today," said Marc Brownstein, president and chief executive at the Brownstein Group advertising agency in Philadelphia. "They're a little beat up and their wallets are lighter, and the people they trusted stole from them."

Marketers "have got to rebuild that trust," said Mr. Brownstein, who blogs about the agency business for the trade publication Advertising Age, by being "brutally honest" in their ads.

"Candor is in," he advised.

Post Shredded Wheat, sold by the Post Foods division of Ralcorp Holdings, tries being candid in a campaign centered on a make-believe boss named Frank Druffel who wonders, "Has progress taken us to a better place?" and concludes, "I'd say it's taken us for a ride. (Probably in a carbon-coughing oil guzzler.)" The point is to present the brand, unchanged since 1892, as the cereal that "put the 'no' in innovation."

The tone reflects a belief now widespread among "fed-up" consumers that "as the world gets more complicated, the more trouble we get ourselves in," said Tim Piper, creative director at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in New York, the WPP agency that creates campaigns for Post cereals.

The boss character is supposed to be "a speaker for the truth," Mr. Piper said, "who could say what no one else is saying."

That tack is also being taken by JetBlue Airways in its "Welcome bigwigs" campaign, created by JWT in New York. "Looks like the days of padded paychecks, fancy drapes and private jets are over," one ad declares. "But hey, there is a bright side" - flying on JetBlue, with amenities like "comfy leather seats" that can assuage the sting of losing private plane privileges.

The JetBlue ads "poked at the guys bringing down the economy," said Wayne Best, executive creative director at JWT, also owned by WPP, but were not intended to cross into fury or mean-spiritedness.

In the words of Fiona Morrisson, director for advertising and brand at JetBlue, "We weren't looking for Versailles."

"Offering a hand to the beleaguered C.E.O.'s, telling them it's not so bad in the real world, brought the idea to life in a tongue-in-cheek way people could relate to," she said.

In other words, there may be a limit to how incensed a large corporation can get in an ad.

"People are disaffected and disillusioned," said Marc E. Babej, president of Reason Inc. in New York, a brand and corporate strategy consulting company, and siding with them can help advertisers "grab a bit of attention."

"But I would be careful as a marketer about playing with the notions of 'We understand you' or 'We're on your side,' " Mr. Babej said, "because there's some risk of it harming you if it's not really relevant to your product."

Or as Mr. Brownstein of the Brownstein Group put it, "You can't anger people into buying your brand."

In which category might anger be appropriate? Perhaps for one of the ground zeroes of the economy, financial services. A campaign for the Bessemer Trust Company, which helps the wealthy manage their money, carries this frank headline: "Why should you believe anything we say?"

"Rarely in history have so many been so violated by so few," the text begins. "We understand. We're as angry as you are, because the actions of those few have cast a pall of doubt and suspicion over everyone even remotely related to the financial industry."

The ad addresses consumers as if "they are basically frozen in place," said Orson Munn, chief executive at Munn Rabôt in New York, the Bessemer Trust agency. "You have to speak with them in a way that shocks them out of being frozen."

"It's a very fine line, because if we go too far it'll push the brand over the edge," he said. "But you have to feel a little uncomfortable with advertising for it to work."


12) Treasures Lost to Time
Op-Ed Columnist
May 16, 2009

Shaquille O'Neal, already a basketball legend, was speaking in his soft, husky voice about men with names like Woody Sauldsberry, Cleo Hill and Ben Jobe.

"Some of these guys, I'd never heard of in my life," he said. "So I guarantee you the younger players have never heard of them."

Dan Klores's stunning four-hour documentary film, "Black Magic," which will receive a Peabody Award on Monday, opens with a scene from America in 1944 that will seem for some people as ancient and backward as the Middle Ages.

It was a Sunday morning in March in Durham, N.C. A team of white basketball players from the Duke University Medical School who had bragged that they were the best players in the state had agreed to play an illegal game against an equally proud team from the North Carolina College for Negroes.

There is no way to overstate the danger of such a meeting. Black people in Durham were not even supposed to look too closely at white people. Some would step off the sidewalk into the street as a white person approached. For these two teams to play a basketball game was considered improper contact of the highest order.

As the white players walked toward the North Carolina College gym, they pulled their jackets over their heads. The game was to be kept as secret as a meeting of criminal conspirators, which is what the participants actually were. In addition to the coaches and the players, there were two referees and a timekeeper. No spectators. No cheerleaders. Just two teams going at it in an otherwise empty (and securely locked) gym.

North Carolina College won 88-44, but the participants needed very little urging to keep their lips sealed. The fact that the game was played was kept secret from the public for half a century.

Klores's film is about the many great players and coaches from the nation's historically black colleges and universities who fought their way through tremendous obstacles, racism chief among them, to make outstanding contributions to the game of basketball. Men like Ben Jobe, a brilliant coach whose fast-breaking, high-scoring teams won more than 500 games. ("I didn't know how to lose," he said.) And Cleo Hill, a scoring wizard at Winston Salem State Teachers College who was viewed by many as the best college player in the country in the late 1950s and early '60s.

"We're talking about absolutely phenomenal players and coaches," said Klores, who directed "Black Magic," which was televised last year by ESPN.

I don't have room to list even a handful of the astonishing basketball feats pulled off by the world-class talent at those colleges and universities. But for some odd reason, despite the undisputed greatness of so many players and coaches, they have not been welcomed into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Players and coaches from black colleges who excelled in the National Basketball Association have made it to the hall (which is not run by the N.B.A.). But those blacks from earlier years who were denied a full opportunity to display their talents because of their color deserve recognition, as well.

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., opened its doors to the greatest players of the old Negro leagues. What's wrong with basketball? With very, very few exceptions, those doors at the Basketball Hall of Fame have remained closed.

Hall officials, including the president of the board of directors, Mannie Jackson, who is black, have said that they would establish a commission to look at this issue, but nothing has happened yet.

Fran Judkins, the hall's director of development, told me that she felt "anyone who had made an inroad in basketball should probably be considered." But I've detected no real enthusiasm at the hall for doing the right thing by these most deserving athletes and innovators, which is a shame. They played in an era in which signs on a general store could read, "No Negro or Ape allowed in building," and when the N.C.A.A. would not let black colleges compete in its tournament.

They are growing old now, and many have already passed on. They are in danger of being completely forgotten.

The list of famous basketball names joining with Klores in the clamor for the hall to reach out aggressively to the greatest names from this fast-receding era is growing: Shaquille O'Neal, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe (who was a producer of "Black Magic"), Willis Reed and Julius Erving, among others.

"I just think it's an injustice that those who really deserve a shot at being in the Hall of Fame are not getting it," said Monroe, who played for historically black Winston Salem State University. "We're watching all that knowledge and history leave us. And the longer we wait on this, the less history we'll have to go back to."


13) Obama to Keep Tribunals; Stance Angers Some Backers
May 16, 2009

The White House said Friday that the administration would prosecute some detainees being held at the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in a military commission system, a much-criticized centerpiece of the Bush administration's strategy for fighting terror.

Administration officials said they were making changes in the system to grant detainees expanded legal rights, but critics said the move was a sharp departure from the direction President Obama had suggested during the campaign, when he characterized the commissions as an unnecessary compromise of American values.

In a statement, Mr. Obama noted that the country had a long tradition of using military commissions, and said the changes would make the tribunals, to be used along with federal courts, a fairer avenue for prosecution. "This is the best way to protect our country, while upholding our deeply held values," Mr. Obama said.

The commissions are run by the Pentagon under a 2006 law passed specifically for terrorism suspects, in part to make it easier to win convictions than in federal courts. The Obama administration suspended the military commission system in its first week in office.

Like Mr. Obama's about-face on Wednesday, when he decided not to release photographs documenting detainee abuse, the announcement Friday on tribunals left the administration in the awkward position of being cautiously praised by some adversaries and harshly rebuked by some usual allies.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has issued daily criticisms of the president's plan to close Guantánamo, called the move to revive the tribunals "an encouraging development."

David B. Rivkin Jr., a Washington lawyer who was an official in the Reagan administration, said the decision suggested that the Obama administration was coming to accept the Bush administration's thesis that terror suspects should be viewed as enemy fighters, not as criminal defendants with all the rights accorded by American courts.

"I give them great credit for coming to their senses after looking at the dossiers" of the detainees, Mr. Rivkin said.

The decision benefits the administration politically because it burnishes Mr. Obama's credentials as a leader who takes a hard line toward terrorism suspects. Some administration insiders say top officials have appeared surprised by the ferocity of the largely Republican opposition to Mr. Obama's effort to close Guantánamo, where 240 detainees remained after an Algerian, Lakhdar Boumediene, was freed Friday and sent to France. Mr. Boumediene was at the center of a landmark Supreme Court ruling against the Bush administration's Guantánamo policies last year.

Guantánamo has become a difficult issue for some Democrats on Capitol Hill because constituents have expressed anxiety about potentially freeing a small number of detainees or moving those that the Bush administration called "the worst of the worst" to prisons in the United States.

Some Democrats backed the president Friday. Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the military commissions could play "a legitimate role in prosecuting" detainees.

But given that Democratic leaders in the House this week pulled $80 million from a war-spending bill that the White House had sought for closing Guantánamo, saying the president had not presented a plan for the detainees there, it was not clear whether support for the president's approach on the issue was weakening among Democrats.

The Obama administration's proposed changes would limit the use of hearsay evidence against detainees, ban evidence gained from cruel treatment and give defendants more latitude to pick their own lawyers. Cases against 13 detainees were suspended in January. The administration said Friday it would seek to extend the suspension another four months.

Some liberals and human rights groups said they were stunned by the announcement on Friday, with several calling it a betrayal. They said the image of the new administration holding military trials at Guantánamo would hurt Mr. Obama's efforts to improve relationships around the world and would embroil the administration in years of legal battles.

"Tinkering with the machinery of military commissions will not remove the taint of Guantánamo from future prosecutions," said Elisa Massimino, the executive director of Human Rights First, an advocacy group.

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony D. Romero, said he was preparing an advertising campaign that would call the use of what he considered an inferior legal system to try detainees "the Bush-Obama doctrine."

The added rights proposed by the administration still fall far short of the protections provided defendants in federal court, lawyers said, predicting that the administration would encounter vigorous new legal challenges that could end up in the Supreme Court.

The Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, Tom Malinowski, said the decision on Friday was mystifying. He said he feared it would leave the administration with "the symbolic baggage of the system they inherited from the Bush administration without the procedural advantages" intended to assure easy convictions.

Officials said the decision to proceed with military commissions came partly as a result of concerns that some detainees might not be successfully prosecuted in federal courts. They said that questions surrounding confessions made after the brutal treatment of some detainees had become an obstacle. Though some detainees, in so-called clean confessions, admitted to terrorist activities in 2007, they were not given the warnings against self-incrimination that are standard in law enforcement.

Federal courts would likely ban such confessions, lawyers said, and, in some cases, convictions may be nearly impossible without them. The most prominent of the military commissions cases seeks the death penalty for five detainees charged with planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, including the self-described mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Administration officials said that some detainees would be prosecuted in federal courts, but did not specify which ones.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama criticized the military commission system as a failure. "It's time to better protect the American people and our values," he said, "by bringing swift and sure justice to terrorists through our courts and our Uniform Code of Military Justice," which is used to prosecute members of the armed services.

On cable television Friday, Republican loyalists called the decision to revive the military commissions a "flip-flop" by Mr. Obama. But Mr. Obama noted in his statement that as a senator in 2006, he once voted for military commission trials for detainees.

The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, objected when reporters suggested that the president was planning to use the Bush administration's system for prosecuting terror suspects. Mr. Gibbs said it was more like buying a used car but "changing the engine and painting it a different color."


14) Minorities Affected Most as New York Foreclosures Rise
May 16, 2009

Turn the corner on 145th Street in Jamaica, Queens, and it is as though a cyclone has wheeled through.

One resident, Lakisha Brown, a hospital worker and mother of two, snatched her house back from foreclosure last month, if only temporarily. "We need to sell fast," she says. "I'm just trying to save what's left of my credit." Across the street in this black middle-class neighborhood, Patrick Nicholas, a surgical technician in blue scrubs, shakes his dreadlocks and shrugs. He rents but is moving out. "The owner got foreclosed and told us to leave," he says.

Six doors away, past two foreclosed and boarded-up homes, a burly man in a blue union jacket declines to give his name but his problem is evident. A foreclosure notice is pasted to the door of his house. His tone is mournful. "Tough times, man," he says. "Tough, tough times."

Late to arrive in the Northeast, the foreclosure crisis has swept through the New York region at an explosive pace in the past two years, destroying billions of dollars in housing wealth, according to a New York Times analysis of foreclosures filed since 2005 and federal mortgage data.

It now touches every corner of the region, from estates along the Connecticut Gold Coast to the suburban tracts of Long Island, where 6 percent of all mortgages are at least 90 days delinquent, the point at which foreclosure proceedings usually begin.

But the storm has fallen with a special ferocity on black and Latino homeowners, the analysis shows. Defaults occur three times as often in mostly minority census tracts as in mostly white ones. Eighty-five percent of the worst-hit neighborhoods - where the default rate is at least double the regional average - have a majority of black and Latino homeowners.

And the hardest blows rain down on the backbone of minority neighborhoods: the black middle class. In New York City, for example, black households making more than $68,000 a year are almost five times as likely to hold high-interest subprime mortgages as are whites of similar - or even lower - incomes.

This holds a special poignancy. Just four or five years ago, black homeownership was rising sharply, after decades in which discriminatory lending and zoning practices discouraged many blacks from buying. Now, as damage ripples outward, black families in foreclosure lose savings and credit, neighbors see the value of their homes decline, and renters are evicted.

That pattern plays out across the nation. A study released this week by the Pew Research Center also shows foreclosure taking the heaviest toll on counties that have black and Latino majorities, with the New York region among the badly hit.

On 145th Street in southeast Queens, just south of Linden Boulevard, attached brick homes with tidy, fenced-in gardens stretch into the distance. Children play tag under blooming oaks. But 8 of these roughly 50 homes face foreclosure; 4 are vacant; 2 have plywood boards nailed over punched-out windows.

"My district feels like ground zero," said City Councilman James Sanders Jr., an African-American who represents hundreds of blocks in Queens like this one. "In military terms, we are being pillaged."

Years ago many banks drew red lines on maps around black neighborhoods and refused to lend; more recently, some banks began taking aim at those neighborhoods for the marketing of subprime loans, say consumer advocates.

Black buyers often enter a separate lending universe: A dozen banks and mortgage companies, almost all of which turned big profits making subprime loans, accounted for half the loans given to the region's black middle-income borrowers in 2005 and 2006, according to The Times's analysis. The N.A.A.C.P. has filed a class-action suit against many of the nation's largest banks, charging that such lending practices amount to reverse redlining.

"This was not only a problem of regulation on the mortgage front, but also a targeted scourge on minority communities," said Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in a speech this year at New York University. Roughly 33 percent of the subprime mortgages given out in New York City in 2007, Mr. Donovan said, went to borrowers with credit scores that should have qualified them for conventional prevailing-rate loans.

For anyone taking out a $350,000 mortgage, a difference of three percentage points - a typical spread between conventional and subprime loans - tacks on $272,000 in additional interest over the life of a 30-year loan.

"There's a huge worry that this will exacerbate historic disparities between the wealth of black and white families," said Ingrid Ellen, co-director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. Not that white neighborhoods and towns in the New York region stand immune. During the past decade, buyers of all colors scrimped to buy homes in one of the nation's most expensive housing markets.

Now mortgage delinquencies are rising sharply even in high-income, predominantly white enclaves, from Nirvana Avenue in Great Neck, N.Y., to Otter Rock Drive on a peninsula off Greenwich, Conn.

In the wealthiest ZIP codes, the median delinquency rate - although much lower than the regional rate, 5.3 percent - more than tripled from March 2005 to March 2008, then doubled again in the year since.

As a whole the region has fared better than stretches of Florida and California, where about one in every five borrowers is at least 90 days behind on payments.

Yet the pain in the New York region is considerable. The delinquency rate in Essex County, N.J., stood at 11 percent in March, more than two percentage points higher than in Genesee County, Mich., home to the battered city of Flint, which stands as a national symbol of this recession.

A World of Damage

Sitting on Long Island close by the Atlantic Ocean - salt air flares the nostrils on many days - Roosevelt is 79 percent black and has suffered grievously from segregation over the years. (Long Island, as measured by school and housing patterns, is among the most racially segregated suburban areas in the nation.) Still, as young black families sought bargains, home ownership rose.

Now subprime loans and a crippled economy have laid many of those families low. Olive M. Thompson, a 45-year-old nursing assistant, lost her $215,000, four-bedroom Cape in January, but not before she drained her 401(k) and declared bankruptcy.

A single mother of four, she recalled arriving in 2003 and seeing a home across the street with a garden so beautiful she fantasized about matching it. That house went into foreclosure.

"Next thing I know, it's boarded up," she said.

Foreclosure represents catastrophe on several levels. As families move to cheaper quarters, they often move their children to different schools. A rising number of foreclosures in a neighborhood is a singularly reliable predictor of an increase in violent crime, according to a recent academic study.

All these ills are magnified for black families, whose median net worth is far smaller than that of white families, and far more tied up in housing.

On Bainbridge Street in the predominantly black Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, 130-year-old brownstone homes loom like grand sailing ships, seemingly impervious to the ravages of time. That solidity is illusory. Looking closer, a visitor can identify homes in jeopardy by the cracked stoops, broken windowsills and tilting chimneys.

Alexia Billiart, 33, who is black, and her husband, who is white, moved a year ago from an expensive neighborhood into a handsome row house in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where they can manage their payments. Across the street, two foreclosed homes have fallen vacant, and a nearby apartment building stands broken and padlocked. At night, young men cluster on the stoops of the vacant homes.

"We figured we'd move here and participate in the rebirth of this block," said Ms. Billiart, who works for a financial planning firm. "It seems to be going backward; it's a little scary."

Several black homeowners along these blocks, including well-paid professionals, confide that they pay strikingly high mortgage rates - 9, 10 or 11 percent annually. How that came to happen is a complicated story.

Over the last decade, many commercial banks, from Wells Fargo to Bank of America to HSBC, acquired subprime lenders that thrived by offering loose lending standards and high interest rates. Court records show that brokers sometimes received bonuses for steering borrowers into high-interest loans laden with extra costs.

Even many blacks and Latinos who say they sought conventional loans ended up with subprime mortgages from these lenders. One reason, many say, was a mistrust of conventional banks.

Colvin Grannum grew up in a black neighborhood in Brooklyn and became president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a nonprofit organization that builds and renovates housing. His father bought several properties in the 1950s and '60s, often without turning to banks.

"I don't want to say it's in the cultural DNA, but a lot of us who are older than 30 have some memory of disappointment or humiliation related to banks," Mr. Grannum said. "The white guy in the suit with the same income gets a loan and you don't?"

"So you turn to local brokers, even if they don't offer the best rates."

This may help explain an unusual phenomenon: Upper-income black borrowers in the region are more likely to hold subprime mortgages than even blacks with lower incomes, who often benefit from homeownership classes and lending assistance offered by government and nonprofits.

Help for Lost Causes

The foreclosure storm shows few signs of abating. Scam artists and deed thieves prey on the desperate as complaints flood the offices of local prosecutors. In a church meeting room in the Guyanese neighborhood of Flatlands, Brooklyn, 200 homeowners tell of paying $3,000 or $4,000 to firms to "fix" their mortgage troubles. Often, these firms disappear with the money.

In southeast Queens, politicians have asked homeowner advocacy groups to set up shop in their offices. "My office is St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes," Councilman Sanders said.

A few step clear of the rubble. Antoinette Coffi, 45, saw an ad on the subway, a photo of a black couple gazing at a gleaming home. She walked into that company's office two years ago, and six weeks later she, her two children, her mother and cousin had a home in Queens. She ended up with not one but two mortgages, including a variable-rate loan that started at 11 percent.

Last year her work hours were cut and she fell behind. "The stress, oh my God," she said, her voice thick with the juicy vowels of her native West Africa.

With the help of Changer, an advocacy group, she has kept the house. But her neighbors may not be as lucky. "Everywhere, everyone talks about being put in the street," she said.

Foreclosure is cutting so deep as to reshape the geography. If enough homes go vacant in Queens and Newark and Roosevelt, a cycle of disinvestment could beckon.

"Some home-owning neighborhoods may turn back to rentals and some might not survive," said Jay Brinkman, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. "They might end up bulldozed."

That sounds a touch apocalyptic. The Obama administration has set aside $50 billion to persuade banks to reduce monthly payments to help borrowers avoid foreclosure. Immigrants continue to flock here, and New York City officials have spent tens of billions of dollars since the 1980s to rebuild and shore up hard-pressed neighborhoods.

But few in 1965 would have predicted the South Bronx devastation of 1979. At the very least, tens of thousands of people will lose their homes, their savings and their dreams.

"Rather than helping to narrow the wealth and home ownership gap between black and white," Mr. Grannum said, "we've managed in the last few years to strip a lot of equity out of black neighborhoods."