Saturday, January 31, 2009

Backlash against immigrant workers in the UK

London Independent:  "Tensions over immigration are bound to increase during the recession. They go beyond jobs: research for the Government has found that white working class people believe immigrants get unfair (preferential) treatment on housing and benefits."

Andrew Grice: The soundbite that haunts the PM

I don't think he meant it literally. But he was trying to send a signal.

Saturday, 31 January 2009
London Independent

...It was too late. Mr Brown's original, stark message had stuck. If it was meant as a dog whistle, it failed – everyone heard it. Yesterday, it was certainly in the minds of the workers who staged wildcat strikes about construction jobs going to Italian and Polish workers. Their placards included: "In the wise words of Gordon Brown 'UK jobs for British workers'."

Tim Finch, head of migration, equalities and citizenship at the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank, said: "'British jobs for British workers' was a careless slogan that is coming back to haunt the Prime Minister." Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, warned: "Nationalist-protectionist rhetoric always does lasting economic and social damage."

The line from Downing Street is that Mr Brown does not regret his language. He doesn't do regrets – or sorry. However, ministers were sufficiently worried by the refinery protests to call urgent talks to try to ensure a level playing field for British workers in the recession.

If Mr Cameron had announced a policy of "British jobs for British workers", Labour MPs would have queued up to accuse him of racism. No one is suggesting Mr Brown has a racist bone in his body. But he was playing with fire and has been burnt.

Mr Cameron chooses his words on immigration carefully. The Tories' previous hardline rhetoric delighted traditional supporters but alienated others, contributing to their "nasty party" image. In fact, Mr Cameron hasn't changed his party's policies much. It is still committed to a cap (as yet undefined) on the number of immigrants coming to Britain from outside the EU. To try to reassure voters, Labour hints its "points system" for skilled workers amounts to the same thing, but does not support a cap.

Tensions over immigration are bound to increase during the recession. They go beyond jobs: research for the Government has found that white working class people believe immigrants get unfair (preferential) treatment on housing and benefits. Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, warns that such fears, however unfounded, should not be branded "racist", since that alienates people even more. The fears could hurt Labour at the general election.

Recently, Mr Brown has cooled on his "Britishness" agenda as he puts his energies into limiting the downturn. Unfortunately for him, the damage had already been done...

London Guardian: Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets

Strikes across the UK, riots across Europe:

"Mediators called in as wildcat strikes spread across UK"
    London Guardian, January 31, 2009

London Guardian:  Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets

* Ian Traynor, Europe editor
* The Guardian, Saturday 31 January 2009

France's trade-unions call on workers to strike all over the country

France paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battlefield. The Hungarian currency sinks to its lowest level ever against the euro, as the unemployment figure rises. Greek farmers block the road into Bulgaria in protest at low prices for their produce. New figures from the biggest bank in the Baltic show that the three post-Soviet states there face the biggest recessions in Europe.

It's a snapshot of a single day – yesterday – in a Europe sinking into the bleakest of times. But while the outlook may be dark in the big wealthy democracies of western Europe, it is in the young, poor, vulnerable states of central and eastern Europe that the trauma of crash, slump and meltdown looks graver.

Exactly 20 years ago, in serial revolutionary rejoicing, they ditched communism to put their faith in a capitalism now in crisis and by which they feel betrayed. The result has been the biggest protests across the former communist bloc since the days of people power.

Europe's time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.


Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old middle-class boy going to a party in a rough neighbourhood on a December Saturday, was the first fatality of Europe's season of strife. Shot dead by a policeman, the boy's killing lit a bonfire of unrest in the city unmatched since the 1970s.

There are many wellsprings of the serial protests rolling across Europe. In Athens, it was students and young people who suddenly mobilised to turn parts of the city into no-go areas. They were sick of the lack of jobs and prospects, the failings of the education system and seized with pessimism over their future.

This week it was the farmers' turn, rolling their tractors out to block the motorways, main road and border crossings across the Balkans to try to obtain better procurement prices for their produce.


The old Baltic trading city had seen nothing like it since the happy days of kicking out the Russians and overthrowing communism two decades ago. More than 10,000 people converged on the 13th-century cathedral to show the Latvian government what they thought of its efforts at containing the economic crisis. The peaceful protest morphed into a late-night rampage as a minority headed for the parliament, battled with riot police and trashed parts of the old city. The following day there were similar scenes in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital next door.

After Iceland, Latvia looks like the most vulnerable country to be hammered by the financial and economic crisis. The EU and IMF have already mounted a €7.5bn (£6.6bn) rescue plan but the outlook is the worst in Europe.

The biggest bank in the Baltic, Swedbank of Sweden, yesterday predicted a slump this year in Latvia of a whopping 10%, more than double the previous projections. It added that the economy of Estonia would shrink by 7% and of Lithuania by 4.5%.

The Latvian central bank's governor went on national television this week to pronounce the economy "clinically dead. We have only three or four minutes to resuscitate it".


Burned-out cars, masked youths, smashed shop windows, and more than a million striking workers. The scenes from France are familiar, but not so familiar to President Nicolas Sarkozy, confronting the first big wave of industrial unrest of his time in the Elysée Palace.

Sarkozy has spent most of his time in office trying to fix the world's problems, with less attention devoted to the home front. From Gaza to Georgia, Russia to Washington, Sarkozy has been a man in a hurry to mediate in trouble spots and grab the credit for peacemaking.

France, meanwhile, is moving into recession and unemployment is going up. The latest jobless figures were to have been released yesterday, but were held back, apparently for fear of inflaming the protests.


A balance of payments crisis last autumn, heavy indebtedness and a disastrous budget made Hungary the first European candidate for an international rescue. The $26bn (£18bn) IMF-led bail-out shows scant sign of working. Industrial output is at its lowest for 16 years, the national currency - the forint - sank to a record low against the euro yesterday and the government also announced another round of spending cuts yesterday.

So far the streets have been relatively quiet. The Hungarian misery highlights a key difference between eastern and western Europe. While the UK, Germany, France and others plough hundreds of billions into public spending, tax cuts, bank bailouts and guarantees to industry, the east Europeans (plus Iceland and Ireland) are broke, ordering budget cuts, tax rises, and pleading for international help to shore up their economies.

The austerity and the soaring costs of repaying bank loans and mortgages taken out in hard foreign currencies (euro, yen and dollar) are fuelling the misery.


The east European upheavals of 1989 hit Ukraine late, maturing into the Orange Revolution on the streets of Kiev only five years ago. The fresh start promised by President Viktor Yushchenko has, though, dissolved into messy, corrupt, and brutal political infighting, with the economy, growing strongly a few years ago, going into freefall.

Three weeks of gas wars with Russia this month ended in defeat and will cost Ukraine dearly. The national currency, at less than half the value of six months ago, is akin to the fate of Iceland's wrecked krona. Ukrainians have been buying dollars by the billion. In November the IMF waded in with the first payments in a $16bn rescue package.

The vicious power struggles between Yushchenko and the prime minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko, are consuming the ruling elite's energy, paralysing government and leaving the economy dysfunctional. Russia is doing its best to keep things that way.


Proud of its status as one of the world's most developed, most productive and most equal societies, Iceland is in the throes of what is, by its staid standards, a revolution.

Riot police in Reykjavik, the coolest of capitals. Building bonfires in front of the world's oldest parliament. The yoghurt flying at the free market men who have run the country for decades and brought it to its knees.

An openly gay prime minister takes over today as head of a caretaker government. The neocon right has been ditched. The hard left Greens are, at least for the moment, the most popular party in the small Arctic state with a population the size of Bradford.

The IMF's bailout teams have moved in with $11bn. The national currency, the krona, appears to be finished. Iceland is a test case of how one of the most successful societies on the globe suddenly failed.

link to article

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My terror as a human shield: The story of Majdi Abed Rabbo

As battle raged in Gaza, Israeli soldiers forced Majdi Abed Rabbo to risk his life as a go-between in the hunt for three Hamas fighters. This is his story...

By Donald Macintyre in Jabalya, Gaza
Friday, 30 January 2009
London Independent

After yet another fierce, 45-minute gun battle, Majdi Abed Rabbo was ordered once again to negotiate his perilous way across the already badly-damaged roof of his house, through the jagged gap in the wall and slowly down the stairs towards the first-floor apartment in the rubble-strewn house next door. Not knowing if the men were dead or alive, he shouted for the second time that day: "I'm Majdi. Don't be afraid."

All three men – with Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, wearing camouflage and headbands bearing the insignia of the Izzedine el Qassam brigades – were still alive, though one was badly injured and persuaded Mr Abed Rabbo to tighten the improvised bandage round his right arm. The youngest – perhaps 21 – was taking cover behind fallen masonry from where he could see the Israeli troops who had sent the visitor. Nervously, Mr Abed Rabbo told them: "They sent me back so I can take your weapons. They told me you are dead." It was the youngest who replied defiantly: "Tell the officer, 'If you're a man come up here'."...more

What is DHS defining as "criminal?"

Newspapers are reporting today that new DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano wants "alien criminals" out of the U.S.

"Homeland secretary wants criminal aliens out of US" (Washington Post/AP, January 29, 2009)  is stating:

"About 113,000 criminals who were in the U.S. illegally were deported last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The agency estimates there are now as many as 450,000 criminals in federal, state and local detention centers who are in the country illegally."

Are they considered criminals for having been in the U.S. without a visa?  Or not reporting for an ICE summons, or for murdering people?   Considering that so many studies of immigrant populations have found that the actual criminal rate among immigrants is extremely low, I am wondering what the criteria is for the latest need to eject people.

Military Suicides are Epidemic during Iraq War

click here for link to mp3 of report on PBS McNeil Lehrer
click here for link to video

McNeil Lehrer, January 29, 2009
Army Reports Record Number of Suicides Among Troops
Soldier; file photoArmy officials said Thursday that suicides among troops are at their highest level in decades. In 2008, the army suicide rate surpassed the civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War. Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser examined the problem last November.

Thank you Lou Dobbs

Hate spreads from television to real life

"Teenagers Charged with More Attacks on Latinos," New York Times, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Immigration and how Latinos Vote


Recently named NY Senator "Borderline Xenophobic"

Gillibrand’s Immigration Views Draw Fire
New York Times
Published: January 27, 2009

...Ms. Gillibrand, a Democrat, opposed any sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, supported deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws, spoke out against Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to allow illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses and sought to make English the official language of the United States...

...A group of Hispanic state lawmakers have threatened to support a primary challenger to Ms. Gillibrand, who must stand for election next year. And El Diario La Prensa, the Spanish-language daily, described her as “a disappointing choice.”

“If Gov. David Paterson wanted to deliver a slap to immigrant New Yorkers, he effectively did so with his appointment yesterday of Representative Kirsten Gillibrand,” El Diario said in an editorial on Saturday.

The flap over Ms. Gillibrand’s immigration record underscores the political challenges she faces as she broadens her political constituency from an overwhelmingly white district along New York’s eastern fringe to the entire state. Census data show that about 21 percent of the state’s population and 36 percent of New York City’s residents were born overseas, said Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Violence in Gaza - Wednesday morning

Last update - 07:35 28/01/2009
IAF strikes Hamas tunnels in response to Gaza border blast
By Amos Harel, Anshel Pfeffer and News Agencies
Haaretz - Israel

Israel Air Force aircraft struck before dawn Wednesday tunnels used for smuggling goods and weapons on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Rafah residents began to flee their homes in panic as the Israeli aircraft struck three times, Hamas officials said. There was no initial word of any casualties.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the attack came in response to a remote-control bomb attack at the Gaza Strip security fence Tuesday, which killed an Israel Defense Forces tracker and wounded three other soldiers, one seriously...more

One more Detention Death

Another Detention Death and Mounting Questions

by Nina Bernstein
New York Times
January 27, 2009

He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection.

His family and fellow detainees say the infection went untreated, despite his mounting pleas for medical care in the 10 days before his death. Instead, after his calls for help grew insistent, detainees said, guards at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., threw him to the floor, dragged him away as he cried out in pain, and locked him in an isolation cell...

Accounts of Mr. Newbrough’s last days echo other cases of deaths in immigration custody, including one at the same jail in December 2006, which prompted a review by immigration officials that found the medical unit so lacking that they concluded, “Detainee health care is in jeopardy.”

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement never released those findings, even when asked about allegations of neglect in that death, of Abdoulai Sall, 50, a Guinea-born mechanic with no criminal record whose kidneys failed over several weeks. Instead, officials defended care in that case and other deaths as Congress and the news media questioned medical practices in the patchwork of county jails, private prisons and federal detention centers under contract to hold noncitizens while the government tries to deport them...

Report of Abdoulai Sall's death recently obtained by the ACLU posted in the New York Times:

Obama's Interview with Al-Arabyia -

Part I

Part II

High Fructose Corn Syrup REALLY is Poison

Many of the store-bought foods we eat and drink contain High-Fructose Corn Syrup.  These include:

Soft Drinks (Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Pepsi)
Cookies - (Oreos, Chocolate Chip, etc.)
Fruit Juices 
Ice Cream
Breakfast Cereals (Corn Flakes etc)

see dreamacttexas post:  "Poison - High Fructose Corn Syrup," October 30, 2008

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

Monday, January 26, 2009; 12:00 AM
Washington Post

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies

Monday, January 26, 2009

DREAM Act Summit, Dallas, January 31

Dare to Realize the DREAM!
Texas DREAM Action Summit 2009

Dear DREAM Act Advocate,

On behalf of the New American PAC and University Leadership Initiative (ULI), we invite you to the 2nd Texas DREAM Action Summit this Saturday, January 31st in Dallas, TX.

With your assistance, we hope to plan coordinated and continuous campaigns throughout the year of (1) letter writing and call-ins (2) congressional district visits, (3) blogging, and most important (4) DC congressional visits; as well as other strategies brought to the table. As advocates we will strategize in accordance with the new president and cabinet, taking into account any up-dates (1) congressional targets, (2) talking points, and (3) messaging.

To ensure that the coordinated campaigns are effective, we will divide the state in regions; therefore, your participation is essential. We must ensure that our current Congressional co-sponsors sign the DREAM Act once its introduced and that we get other members of Congress to become co-sponsors; something we hope you will assist us with.
It is NOT too late to register. Please email the information requested below, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, to

University Leadership Initiative
New American PAC

Gaza, Empathy, and the Holocaust

In the previous post I mention Robert Fisk's article about the mail he receives regarding Gaza. I focus on a letter from a professor who believes the Gaza war was about oil.

Yet Fisk mentions a number of other issues in the article. He reports about the email going around with photos of the WWII Holocaust as compared to Gaza. I received one of these emails too.

Fisk says that there is no way the two can be compared. I agree. Millions and millions compared to 1500+ is a big difference. But what we have to remember is that for the families and supports of the 1500+ it feels like a holocaust.

This does not mean I am against Israel. I am saying that there needs to be empathy for what people are feeling, even if what they say is not totally accurate. The Israeli's still feel the WWII Holocaust. Each Hamas rocket that lands on Israeli land is a prickly reminder of the past.

What we need to say and repeat over and over again, is that the sadness and despair created by these events does not warrant more violence. Israel and Hamas have to find a better way.

link to Fisk article

Oil and Gaza: surprise?

Robert Fisk writes an interesting article in the London Independent, where he speaks of some of the letters he has received about Gaza.  He tells of a professor in Canada who believes the Gaza War was about oil. 

Robert Fisk: Plots, sense and nonsense: the view from the post bag

Saturday, 24 January 2009
London Independent

Mail that you don't see in the Letters to the Editor column. First, here's reader Jack Hyde tipping me off about a possible (real) reason behind Israel's bloodletting in Gaza. He encloses a paper by University of Ottawa economist Michel Chossudovsky who says that "the military intervention of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves". It's not exactly The Plot. But it's something that Obama and his lads and lasses may need to study in the next few days.

For according to Chossudovsky, British Gas and its partner, the Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company – owned, apparently, by two Lebanese families – were granted 25-year oil and exploration rights off the Gaza coast by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority in 1999. About 60 per cent of reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to "Palestine" (wherever that is these days).

But since the Hamas election victory in 2006 and its coup in Gaza in 2007, the Hamas government has been by-passed, even though poor old "President" Mahmoud Abbas, marooned in the West Bank, can only glimpse the Mediterranean from a hill near Jenin. Many negotiations later – and after Israeli "defence" officials claimed that the Palestinians could be paid only in goods and chattels for their gas rather than cash which might go to the dreaded Hamas – there was a proposed agreement under which Palestinian gas from Gaza wells would be channelled via undersea pipelines to the Israeli port of Ashkelon, thus transferring the control of gas sales to Israel. British Gas withdrew from these talks in December 2007.

But in June of 2008 – when, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Israel began its invasion plans for Gaza – Israel suddenly asked British Gas to resume talks. And, so says Chossudovsky, negotiations began again for the purchase of natural gas from the Gaza offshore fields. Israeli tanks have now driven out of the Gaza Strip, but Israeli naval vessels still control the coast and there's an obvious question: if the Israelis can continue to violate international law by seizing Palestinian land in the West Bank, why cannot they seize the sovereignty of Palestinian gas fields off Gaza? If Israel can annex Jerusalem, why not annex Gaza's maritime areas?.

link to image

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What was Pope Benedict Thinking?

Perhaps the Pope also thinks the Holocaust didn't happen, since he UN-excomunicated Richard Williamson - a priest who "believes there were no gas chambers" -- I find that odd (both what the Pope did and what Williamson believes), since there is tangible, concrete information readily available proving Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen really happened. Where has this guy Williamson been hiding? And why does the Pope think Williamson is ok? Is it because the Pope was a member of the "Hitler Youth?"  Is he trying to punish the Israelis for the Gaza bombardment?

Whatever the reason.  It seems like either Benedict has lost his reason; or he has a touch of evil in him.

Pope stirs up Jewish fury over bishop
The Vatican is reinstating a British priest who denies millions died at the hands of the Nazis

* Tom Kington in Rome and Jamie Doward
* The Observer, Sunday 25 January 2009

Tension between the Vatican and Jewish groups looked set to explode yesterday after Pope Benedict XVI rehabilitated a British bishop who has claimed no Jews died in gas chambers during the second world war.

Benedict yesterday welcomed back into the Roman Catholic Church Richard Williamson and three other men who were excommunicated in 1988 after being ordained without Vatican permission. The three had been appointed by breakaway French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Vatican decree issued yesterday spoke of overcoming the "scandal of divisiveness" and seeking reconciliation with Lefebvre's conservative order, the Society of Saint Pius X, which opposes the modernisation of Catholic doctrine.

But Jewish groups have warned the Pope that the decision could damage Catholic-Jewish relations after Williamson claimed in an interview, broadcast last week, that historical evidence "is hugely against six million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler ... I believe there were no gas chambers".

Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris, said he understood the German-born pope's desire for Christian unity but said Benedict could have excluded Williamson, whose return to the church will "cost" the Vatican politically.

2000 immigrants in detention center meant for 800

Migrants break out of overcrowded Italian facility

The Associated Press/Washington Post
Saturday, January 24, 2009; 11:24 AM

ROME -- Hundreds of migrants and refugees broke out of an overcrowded immigration facility on a Sicilian island Saturday to protest their treatment, authorities said.

About 600 people forced open the gates at the facility and marched toward the center of the island of Lampedusa before making their way back, according officials at the facility and news reports.

What the BBC refuses to air

This is the GAZA Charity appeal by the UK DEC that the BBC and Sky refuse to air:

BBC crisis over refusal to broadcast Gaza appeal

• Archbishop in attack on aid decision
• Isolated Thompson urged to rethink

* Caroline Davies, Vanessa Thorpe and Gaby Hinsliff
*, Saturday 24 January 2009 19.55 GMT

The BBC was in crisis last night as politicians including government ministers, religious leaders and senior members of its own staff condemned the decision not to broadcast a charity appeal to help the stricken people of Gaza rebuild their homes.

The corporation's director general, Mark Thompson, was left isolated as rival broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 agreed to put out the plea for aid made jointly by 13 British charities. The BBC has decided the broadcast of the appeal might be seen as evidence of bias on a highly sensitive political issue.

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has accused the broadcaster of "taking sides". He said yesterday: "This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity.

"This situation is akin to that of British military hospitals who treat prisoners of war as a result of their duty under the Geneva convention. They do so because they identify need rather than cause. This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief. By declining their request, the BBC has already taken sides and forsaken impartiality," the archbishop added.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said: "The BBC's decision should not discourage the public from donating to this important appeal. I sincerely hope the BBC will urgently review its decision."

The BBC's unrepentant stance has stirred up rebellion in the ranks of it own reporters and editors. One senior BBC news presenter told the Observer: "I've been talking to colleagues and everyone here is absolutely seething about this. The notion that the decision to ban the appeal will seem impartial to the public at large is quite absurd..

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ITV and Channel 4 to air Gaza appeal as pressure mounts on BBC
by Nicholas Watt
London Guardian
January 24, 2009

Agreement reached between majority of commercial networks to show appeal as protesters picket BBC

ITV and Channel 4 today announced they would screen an appeal to raise emergency funds for Gaza, as the BBC came under intense pressure from the government to reverse its decision not to transmit the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee..

BBC faces protest for blocking Gaza appeal

By Nicky Shaw
Saturday, 24 January 2009

Hundreds of protesters are expected to gather outside Broadcasting House in London today after the BBC defended its decision not to broadcast a public appeal to raise funds for Gaza.

The corporation said the decision was taken with other broadcasters not to show the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) crisis appeal because of impartiality concerns. There were also doubts about the delivery of aid in such a volatile situation, the BBC said..
. more

Friday, January 23, 2009

Phosphorus in Gaza

from Los Alamos National Laboratory:

"Phosphorus is very poisonous, 50 mg constituting an approximate fatal dose. Exposure to white phosphorus should not exceed 0.1 mg/m3 (8-hour time-weighted average per 40-hour work week). White phosphorus should be kept under water (as it is dangerously reactive in air) and should be handled with forceps, as contact with the skin may cause severe burns."

Growing concern over Israel's weapons use

By Donald Macintyre in Atatra, northern Gaza Strip
Friday, 23 January 2009
London Independent

...If the investigation which the Israeli military announced this week into the use of white phosphorous is serious, it will have to examine the events at the Abu Kalima house here in this semi-rural suburb of of Beit Lahiya, among many other locations. It's unlikely to dwell for long on the fact that the war saw the first use of artillery in Gaza since late 2006.

The military ended it after 18 members of one family were killed by shelling on a civilian house in Beit Hanoun in November 2006.

But it will have to take into account that the Amnesty International have no doubt that the shells which killed the Abu Kalima family contained phosphorus. Nafez al Shaban, the Glasgow and US trained head of Shifa Hospital’s Burns Unit is certain that the bone-deep tissue destruction sustained by Mrs Kalima, her critically injured daughter in law and grandaughter, were caused by it. And finally fragments of the brown spongy substance, with its unpleasantly pungent smell, are still lying in the debris outside the Abu Kalima house.

link to article in London Telegraph "Gaza's phosphorus casualties relive 3 week Israeli war"January 23, 2009

Open Letter to Obama RE: Immigration Policy

From Democracy in Action


Take Action to Ensure the Human Rights, Safety and Well-Being of Immigrant Communities!

DEADLINE TODAY: Friday, January 23rd (Friday). Sign now!


We believe we have an opportunity -- indeed a mandate -- to demand no less than an end to the cycle of punishment and abuse against immigrant communities: stopping raids and suspending detentions and deportations is not only a part of our agenda for immigration reform, it is a pre-requisite for a genuine, rights-based immigration policy. Join our “Open Letter” to President Barack Obama, to be released on January 27th.

Failing English Only: Nashville Does The Right Thing
JANUARY 23, 2009 2:58AM
by Thomas Horton

I am very proud to say that today, "New Nashville" struck a blow for what is decent and right, and defeated Crafton's "English Only" bill. A very organized movement got out the "no" vote, and Nashville thankfully did not become the largest city in the country to vote in such a law, sparing itself the embarrassment of being a national laughingstock, and whipping boy for late-night TV hosts

E-Verify Attached to Stimulus Bill - High % of errors plague the system

The newspapers are not saying anything about it. Yet, the old anti-immigration song it at it again. FAIR, the anti-immigration group has a campaign going, asking supporters to call Congressmen demanding E-verify stick with the stimulus package. No word from Obama.

Remember that E-Verify is a program that matches social security numbers within the system. The system has not been worked out well and this could mean that because of errors, many workers could lose their jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fighting it.

from National Immigration Law Center

The House Appropriations Committee made a serious mistake when it approved an amendment to the stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) that would require all businesses and other public or private "entities" that contract to receive money from the stimulus package to use the flawed federal Basic Pilot/E-Verify program. This will not only delay use of stimulus funds, but will hurt millions of workers. It should be stripped from the bill.

The amendment represents a massive expansion of the E-Verify program. As has been well documented, the E-Verify program is deeply flawed, inaccurate, and subject to substantial employer abuse. Bottom line - it is not ready for a massive expansion and definitely not in times of economic crisis.

The E-Verify provision in the stimulus will:
• Harm workers who are either falsely denied work or are targeted by employers abusing the E-verify program;
• Create substantial new burdens for businesses, especially small businesses, at precisely the wrong time;
• Send the wrong signal to new voters that the Congress prefers to play politics by enacting symbolic and ineffective immigration "enforcement" measures over serious and effective economic stimulus or serious immigration reform.

Stimulus E-Verify TPs - Final

December 23, 2008
U.S. Chamber: E-Verify Expansion Is Illegal
@ 3:39 pm by Walter Alarkon

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing the federal government to stop its expansion of a program that seeks to verify whether employees are legally allowed to work in the country.

The Chamber, a business-friendly group that has opposed measures expelling illegal immigrant workers, said that the Bush administration has unlawfully used an executive order to require federal contractors and sub-contractors to use the Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify program. The Chamber group said that the executive order discards federal immigration and procurement laws.

"This massive expansion of E-Verify is not only bad policy, it’s unlawful," said Robin Conrad, executive vice president for the Chamber's public policy law firm.

The executive order would make the E-Verify program mandatory for federal contractors with projects that cost more than $100,000 and for sub-contractors with projects that cost more than $3,000


Children of Gaza: stories of those who died and the trauma for those who survived
Rory McCarthy reports from Gaza City on the individual stories of some victims and the physical and psychological toll on an estimated 350,000 youngsters

*, Friday 23 January 2009 17.34 GMT

Amira Qirm lay on a hospital bed today with her right leg in plaster, and held together by a line of steel pins dug deep into her skin. For several days after her operation Amira, 15, was unable to speak, and even now talks only in a low whisper.

In her past are bitter memories: watching her father die in the street outside their home, then hearing another shell land and kill her brother Ala'a, 14, and her sister Ismat, 16, and then the three days that she spent alone, injured and semi-conscious, trying to stay alive in a neighbour's abandoned house before she could be rescued last Sunday.

Ahead of her, she has a long recovery. First there is an imminent flight to France for the best possible medical treatment, many more operations and then months of rehabilitation and psychiatric care.

Only now, after most of the dead have been buried, is the first properly researched reckoning of the toll emerging. What already stands out is the striking cost borne by the children of Gaza, who make up more than half of the 1.5 million people living in this overcrowded strip of land

The Slave Builders of the White House

White House and Supreme Court Building were built by slaves.

Jesse Holland on How Slaves Built the White House and the US Capitol

From Holland Book link to image

excerpt from Democracy Now
January 21, 2009

Associated Press reporter Jesse Holland. He is author of Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History In and Around Washington, D.C.

JESSE HOLLAND: Standing out there in front of the US Capitol will be Barack Obama, who will become the most powerful man in the United States, an African American president. But he is going to be standing in front of a building that was created and built by some of the least powerful people in the United States: African American slaves.

Through research, we’ve been able to determine that just about 400 of the more than 600 people who worked on the construction of the Capitol were African American slaves. Maybe another fifty or so were African American freedmen. These are people who had their papers to signify that they were free. So the entire building, the center of democracy in the United States, was created by African American slaves.

AMY GOODMAN: And the documents that prove this?

JESSE HOLLAND: The reason why we know this for a fact is because the federal government rented slaves from plantations in Virginia, Maryland and in the District of Columbia. The government had to write receipts for the use of these slaves, and those receipts still exist at the National Archives in the Library of Congress. Through meticulous searching through those archives, we’ve been able to determine, almost precisely, that just about 400 of the workers who created the US Capitol were slaves.

AMY GOODMAN: The year?

JESSE HOLLAND: This was in the—the construction of the Capitol began in the early 1700s, and it finished directly before the Civil War. Actually, one of the better stories comes at that time directly before the Civil War. To complete the Capitol, they wanted to put a statue on top of the Capitol Dome, and an American art student in Paris wins the competition and creates the Statue of Freedom, a statue that today sits on top of the Dome. He takes a picture of the statue, and he sends it back to the United States, and it wins the competition.

But the person in charge of the construction of the Capitol at that time was the secretary of war, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, who would go on to be the president of the Confederacy. Well, when Jefferson Davis saw the picture of the Statue of Freedom, he threatened to cancel the entire project. The reason why is because Thomas Crawford, the art student who created the Statue of Freedom, had placed on top of the Statue of Freedom what was called a liberty cap. Well, Jefferson Davis was a student of Roman history, and he knew what a liberty cap signified. What a liberty cap tells the world is that that person wearing the liberty cap is a freed slave. So what Thomas Crawford wanted to put on top of the Capitol was a statue of a freed slave. But when Jefferson Davis sees this, he goes ballistic. He says he is not going to put a picture—a statue of a freed slave on top of the US Capitol. And he tells Thomas Crawford that “you either change the statue, or we’re going to cancel the entire project.”

Well, Crawford is an art student, and he needed the commission money. But the only thing he did was he took off the liberty cap and put on an American eagle helmet. So when most people look at that Statue of Freedom, when they see the Statue of Freedom behind Barack Obama on Inauguration Day, most people are going to think that that’s a statue of a Native American. No, it’s actually a statue of a freed slave with an American eagle helmet on top...

Gaza & the Bush Admin. denial of Geneva Convention Rules could have encouraged Israel

If the U.S. is supporting Israel financially - and politically (just about everyone in Congress voted to support the Gaza invasion) - then it makes sense that Israel could have been copying our stance regarding the Geneva Convention.  If we tortured, why wouldn't they.

It will be interesting to see if Israel takes a different turn now that Obama is in office and has brought the Geneva Convention Rules back to light. Considering how most Israeli's feel about Arabs; how well will they negotiate with a peacemaker (George Mitchell) who is half Lebanese?  

Last update - 11:44 23/01/2009
UN human rights official: Gaza evokes memories of Warsaw Ghetto
By Haaretz Service and Reuters

There is evidence that Israel committed war crimes during its 22-day campaign in the Gaza Strip and there should be an independent inquiry, UN investigator Richard Falk said Thursday.

...Falk, speaking by phone from his home in California, said compelling evidence that Israel's actions in Gaza violated international humanitarian law required an independent investigation into whether they amounted to war crimes.

"I believe that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion," he told a Geneva news conference...."To lock people into a war zone is something that evokes the worst kind of international memories of the Warsaw Ghetto, and sieges that occur unintentionally during a period of wartime," Falk, who is Jewish, said, referring to the starvation and murder of Warsaw's Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two.

The Gift of McCain's Loss

McCain's lost bid for the presidency may be a gift for DREAMers.  He's back to his maverick ways.  He has little to lose these days and will surely be a backer of the DREAM Act.  Immigration is back on his agenda
Senate Gets Reacquainted With McCain the Maverick
He Chides Republicans Who Hindered Clinton

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 23, 2009; Page A01

McCain's ...agenda in the Senate: immigration reform; overhauling energy and environmental policies; budget restraint; improving Social Security..

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BBC denies help to Gaza Charity

Broadcasters refuse to air Gaza charity appeal

BBC declines to show DEC appeal under agreement dating back to 1963, leading to other outlets following suit

* Jenny Percival
*, Thursday 22 January 2009 19.27 GMT

The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 13 aid charities, launched its appealtoday saying the devastation in Gaza was "so huge that British aid agencies were compelled to act".

...The corporation said it had been concerned about the difficulties of getting aid through to victims in a volatile situation. The BBC, which has faced criticism in the past over alleged bias in its coverage of the Middle East, said it did not want to risk public confidence in its impartiality.

The DEC's chief executive, Brendan Gormley, said the decision could have a big impact on its appeal. "We are used to our appeal getting into every household and offering a safe and necessary way for people to respond. This time we will have to work a lot harder because we won't have the free airtime or the powerful impact of appearing on every TV and radio station."

DEC appeals have recently raised £10m for the Congo and £18m for Burma.

Gormley rejected the BBC's claim that it was difficult for aid to reach those in need, saying 100 lorries a day were entering Gaza. He challenged the corporation's concerns about impartiality. "We are totally apolitical and are driven by the principles of the Geneva conventions in terms of impartiality and neutrality. This appeal is a response to those humanitarian principles. The BBC seems to be confusing impartiality with equal airtime."

A BBC spokesperson said: "Along with other broadcasters, the BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC's public appeal to raise funds for Gaza. The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story. However, the BBC will of course continue to report the humanitarian story in Gaza.".

Continued Problems at Detention Centers

Report Faults Treatment of Women Held at Immigration Centers
New York Times

Published: January 20, 2009
Some 300 women held at immigration detention centers in Arizona face dangerous delays in health care and widespread mistreatment, according to a new study by the University of Arizona, the latest report to criticize conditions at such centers throughout the United States.

The study, which federal immigration officials criticized as narrow and unsubstantiated, was conducted from August 2007 to August 2008 by the Southwest Institute of Research on Women and the James E. Rogers College of Law, both at the University of Arizona. It was released Jan. 13.

link to summary of reportReport on Women in Detention