Thursday, January 31, 2002

Integrity and the State of the Union
…We are told that "the state of our union has never been stronger." More significantly, we are told that the war has united Americans and made them better people, with a new ethic and a new creed.

This shift toward an elaboration on national character may help explain a major omission in the president's war talk: his failure to make any mention of Osama bin Laden, who planned the Sept. 11 attack but has yet to be captured. In many minds, the justification of the United States attacks on Afghanistan was retaliatory, exemplified by the president's vow to track down Mr. bin Laden. This is what Americans want, the yardstick they have identified for victory.

But Mr. Bush has become transcendental. The war may have to be enlarged to deal with added threats in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere. The fight against "evil" — a word he used five times — may require it. Justifiable retaliation may be turning into a wider crusade. Mr. Bush, a Bible-minded man, also preaches to Americans the need to collaborate on domestic policy as they have on war.

This is red, white and blue bunting on an inaccurate reading of history. In America's traditional military conflicts, from 1812 through Vietnam, large and disunited chunks of the country spoke disrespectfully of Mr. Madison's war, Mr. Lincoln's war, Mr. Wilson's, Mr. Roosevelt's or Lyndon Johnson's. Domestic consensus was not expected, although from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one recurrent presidential wartime emphasis was greater tax fairness — rates that rose most for the wealthy because of their greater ability to pay. Mr. Bush, in contrast, had nothing to say about who ought to pay for the war.

Meanwhile, the president's talk of escalating America's war against terrorism to include new foes, this time definable states like Iraq, stands in sharp contrast to his abandonment of a domestic battlefront. This is the war that many in Congress and the nation as a whole want to declare — the war on money politics and the big-contributor stranglehold on policy making that lets a rogue corporation like Enron rise to influence and power. The unexpected consequences have ranged from last year's California energy crisis, in which Enron was both a victim and a culprit, to Enron's bankruptcy, with its loss of jobs and pensions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Voting Rights in Peril
America has tried leaving election decisions to each state. We have no minimum federal voting rights standards for voting machines. The result: In the 2000 presidential election, 1.5 million ballots were discarded due to defective voting equipment. We have no minimum federal standards guaranteeing the right of a voter with a disability to cast a private and independent vote. The result: In 2000, 47 percent of voters with disabilities encountered physical barriers or had trouble getting to the polling place.

State and local officials say they will eventually make necessary changes on their own. History teaches us, however, that states have been slow in outlawing discrimination. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was adopted, guaranteeing black citizens the rights and privileges of citizenship. In the name of states' rights, implementation was left to local control. This model failed, and federal legislation became necessary: Without the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination in public establishments and in hiring might still be legal in some parts of the country. Without the Voting Rights Act of 1965, poll taxes might still be prevalent.
Israeli Group Declares Limit in Making War on Palestinians
The statement, which was published in the liberal newspaper Haaretz last week as Israelis began their weekend, condemned military actions against the Palestinians during the last 16 months of violence.

It asserted that people on both sides of the conflict were paying in blood for what it called Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory and its war to protect Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"The price of occupation is the army's loss of its human image and the corruption of all of Israeli society," the statement said. "We will continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel's defense. The mission of occupation and repression does not serve this goal and we will not take part in it."

The statement said that during their service in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the signers had received orders "that have nothing to do with the security of the state and their only purpose was perpetuating control over the Palestinian people."

Such orders "destroy all the values we have absorbed in this country," the statement added.

Those orders have included demolition of homes, firing heavy machine guns into civilian neighborhoods in response to Palestinian mortar fire, shooting at stone-throwing boys, and blockading villages, the signers of the statement said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Let Them Be P.O.W.'s
…Michael Durant was shot down in the "Black Hawk Down" incident in Somalia and seized by gunmen. The Somalis accused him of terrorism and initially threatened to put him on trial.

That conflict was a muddy one, not involving a declared war against a government. It was, in short, the kind of situation that the Bush administration seems to think is not covered by the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war.

Fortunately, the Somali gunmen were scrupulous about international law. They affirmed that Mr. Durant was a "prisoner of war" under the Geneva Convention and allowed a visit by the Red Cross.

The Bush administration owes it to the world — and to our own national interest — to rise to the level of Somali gunfighters and apply the Geneva Convention to the men at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Bush Reconsiders Stand on Treating Captives of War
Mr. Bush attempted to dismiss the issue today as a small legal distinction. "I will listen to all the legalisms and announce my decision when I make it," he said.

But several governments are now seeking the return of their citizens who are being held at Guantánamo Bay. Mr. Bush said today that he would "consider" such requests, but administration officials made it clear that none of the captives were leaving Cuba soon.

Saudi Arabia's interior minister said today that the United States was holding "more than 100" Saudi citizens at Guantánamo Bay. American officials have not publicly confirmed the identities of the prisoners or their nationalities, on the grounds that their identities could signal to the enemy what information could be gleaned from interrogating them. But a senior administration official said tonight that the number given by the Saudis "sounds too high."

Citizens of at least 25 countries make up the population of 158 captives at the prison compound. The countries include Britain, Australia, France, Belgium, Sweden, Algeria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to ministers from those countries.
The Geneva Convention on P.O.W.'s
The Geneva Convention on P.O.W.'s
A P.O.W. Tangle: What the Law Says
Human Rights Watch argues that it is inconsistent for the United States to contend that Geneva does not apply because this is an unconventional war. "The United States government could have pursued terrorist suspects by traditional law- enforcement means, in which case the Geneva Conventions indeed would not apply," Kenneth Roth, executive director of the group, wrote in a letter today to Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser.
Palestinian Suicide Attacks Resume
Arafat declared a cease-fire Dec. 16 and it brought an immediate and sharp drop in violence -- no Israelis were killed by Palestinians for almost a month afterward. However, Palestinians say that Israel did not respond in kind.

From Dec. 13 to Jan. 9, no Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks. During the same period, 33 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces -- 22 in Israeli raids and 11 while carrying out attacks on Israeli soldiers or civilians.

When a Palestinian militant was killed on Jan. 14 in an attack that had the hallmarks of an Israeli targeted killing, Palestinian militants vowed revenge, and the suicide attacks resumed almost immediately.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Corporate Collapse: Top 10 Warning Signs
Top 10 Signs a Company Is Headed South

How can you tell if a high-flying company is cruising for a fall? Management guru and World Economic Forum speaker Jim O'Toole offers a tongue-in-cheek Top 10 list of warning signs.,3658,s%253D2105%2526a%253D21667,00.asp

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Enron's Way: Pay Packages Foster Spin, Not Results
"You're providing C.E.O.'s with a perverse incentive," said Nell Minow, the editor of the Corporate Library, a research firm in Washington. "You're rewarding them for a goal that is not in the interest of long-term shareholders."

The executives who have made millions of dollars selling once-expensive shares say they have done nothing wrong. They simply followed a regular, legal schedule of selling stock, they say, and would be far richer if the stock price had not dropped.

All of that is usually true. But it is also true that when an economic system richly rewards certain behavior, no one should be surprised when that behavior becomes the norm. If you want to change it, you have to change the incentives. The Enron mess has the potential to focus people's attention on the complicated task of doing precisely that.
Trusting Pessimissm
THIS is how peace was supposed to come to Israelis and Palestinians over the last eight years: Israel would yield territory parcel by parcel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority would strive to keep Israelis safe and the antagonists would come to understand and trust each other as they coordinated the handoffs.

It was to be a true process of peace, a self-reinforcing cycle powered by an incrementalism of ever-bigger, reciprocal concessions and tightening ties that would yield common economic interests, tranquillity and, ultimately, reconciliation.
Incrementalism turned out to be as powerful an engine as the framers of the Oslo accords envisioned. But it has so far proved most effective in reverse.

Things here have a way of going bad, staying that way long enough for everyone to adjust and then getting worse. Yesterday's horrifying attack becomes tomorrow's familiar tactic; yesterday's terrifying reprisal becomes tomorrow's starting point. Everyone says they have no other choice.
Powell Asks Bush to Reverse Stand on War Captives
Breaking with other cabinet officials, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has asked President Bush to declare that the United States is bound by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of the captives in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, administration officials said today.

Seeking a review of a presidential decision made nine days ago, when the administration determined that the captured fighters were not prisoners of war and hence not fully protected by the Geneva Conventions, Mr. Powell and his lawyers at the State Department urged Mr. Bush to affirm that the international law of war does govern the United States' treatment of all captives of the Taliban military and the terrorist network Al Qaeda.

Mr. Powell asked for the review after allies and human-rights advocates suggested that the United States had skirted some of the conventions' technical requirements.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Israel, the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Authority Territories
Israel and the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip

The Israeli-Palestinian clashes continued throughout the first ten months of 2001. In December 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and his Labor Party-led coalition lost office following an early election for prime minister called by Barak. Ariel Sharon, leader of the Likud party, won a decisive victory, replacing Barak as prime minister, and fashioned a governing majority in alliance with Labor and other, mainly rightwing, parties.

The IDF resorted to excessive and indiscriminate use of lethal force, causing civilian deaths and serious injuries and damaging or destroying homes and other property. In one case directly investigated by Human Rights Watch, on December 22, 2000, IDF soldiers used live ammunition against a stone-throwing crowd of Palestinian youth in Hebron district, killing 15-year-old Arafat al-Jabarin with several shots. The soldiers, equipped with several armored cars and a tank, were located in a defensible position above and nearly 150 meters from the youths. Given the distance and the elevation, the stone throwers did not pose the "grave threat to life" that both the United Nations (U.N.) Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the IDF's own open fire regulations require before allowing the use of lethal fire. The subsequent IDF account of the incident did not allege any use of firearms by Palestinians, and said that the IDF had responded "with riot dispersal equipment." In another incident, on June 9, an IDF tank fired flechette shells in a populated area between Gaza City and the settlement of Netzarim. The shells, which spread razor-sharp darts over a wide area, killed three Palestinian women and injured three others. IDF officials initially said they fired in response to Palestinian gunfire from the area, but Prime Minister Sharon acknowledged on June 11 that the killing of the three women "should not have happened." IDF officials said that they opened an internal inquiry, but the results had not been made public as of this writing.

As the clashes continued, Palestinians fired at Israeli settlers and carried out suicide bombings against Israeli civilians while the IDF made increasing use of heavy weaponry, including F-16 fighter jets, combat helicopters, tanks, and light rockets against Palestinian targets, including PA police stations, security offices, prisons, and other installations.

Under Prime Minister Sharon, Israel maintained the "liquidations" policy initiated by the previous Barak administration, targeting individuals whom it accused of planning or carrying out attacks on Israeli security forces or civilians. The IDF used snipers, helicopter-fired missiles, tanks, and explosive devices to carry out the assassinations. When first introduced, Israeli authorities justified the policy as neessary to prevent a "clear, specific and imminent terrorist threat," but then expanded it to include those considered responsible for planning or carrying out atttacks on Israelis. In some cases, however, it appeared that those targeted were killed in circumstances where Israeli forces could have arrested them. According to Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, at least thirty-five Palestinians were targeted under the "liquidations" policy between November 2000 and October 2001. In one case under the Barak government, on December 31, 2000, IDF snipers killed Thabet Thabet, the secretary general of Tulkarem's Fatah branch and director general of the PA's Health Ministry. Israel subsequently accused him of being the regional head of a Palestinian squad responsible for shooting at Israelis. On January 9, Thabet's widow petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to order Prime Minister Ehud Barak to refrain from "executing people without trial." The court first accepted to hear the petition but then changed its decision when the government contended that the court had no jurisdiction in the matter.

Israeli security forces were responsible for a number of killings and shootings of Palestinian civilians under circumstances that warranted investigation and possible criminal prosecution. In January, the Israeli government publicly categorized the clashes as constituting "armed conflict" and insisted that it was therefore under no obligation to carry out investigations of wrongful deaths at the hands of its security forces. There was no investigation, for instance, of a February incident where soldiers opened fire on a minibus carrying sixteen Palestinian workers to their jobs, killing twenty-year-old Ziad Abu Swayyeh and injuring several others, one seriously. The shootings took place when the minibus, after driving around an army roadblock, followed the soldiers' orders and turned around to go back to al-Khadr, near Bethlehem.
Middle East and North Africa Overview
Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians that erupted in September 2000 overshadowed most other developments in the Middle East and North Africa region. Over seven hundred Palestinians and over two hundred Israelis, many of them civilians, were killed in the violence by November 2001. The conflict was marked by attacks on civilians and civilian objects by both Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups, suggesting that respect for fundamental human rights and humanitarian law principles counted for little among leaders of either side.

Israeli security forces were responsible for extensive abuses, including indiscriminate and excessive use of lethal force against unarmed Palestinian demonstrators; unlawful killings by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers; disproportionate IDF gunfire in response to Palestinian attacks; and inadequate IDF response to abuses by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians; and "closure" measures on Palestinian communities that amounted to collective punishment. They also mounted a series of killings of suspected Palestinian militants under a controversial "liquidations" policy directed against those believed responsible for orchestrating attacks against Israelis.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority (PA) did little to exercise its responsibility to take all possible measures to prevent and punish armed attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings. In addition, the various security forces of the Palestinian Authority carried out arbitrary arrests of alleged Palestinian "collaborators" with Israel. Many were held in prolonged detention without trial and tortured; others were sentenced to death after unfair trials and two were executed. The PA also arrested some Islamist and other militants suspected of responsibility for attacks against Israelis and held them in untried detention. Both Israeli and Palestinian authorities failed to take the necessary steps to stop the security forces under their control from committing abuses, and failed to adequately investigate and punish the perpetrators.
Identity Theft Heads the FTC'S Top 10 Consumer Fraud Complaints of 2001
Identity theft headed the top 10 consumer fraud complaints of 2001, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft accounted for 42 percent of the 204,000 complaints entered into the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database last year. The top 10 list of consumer fraud complaints includes:

Identity Theft (42%)
Internet Auctions (10%)
Internet Services and Computer Complaints (7%)
Shop-at-Home and Catalog Offers (6%)
Advance Fee Loans and Credit Protection (5%)
Prizes/Sweepstakes/Gifts (4%)
Business Opportunities and Work at Home Plans (4%)
Foreign Money Offers (4%)
Magazines and Buyers Clubs (3%)
Telephone Pay-Per-Call/Information Services (2%)

Friday, January 25, 2002

Playing Into Sharon's Hands
There is an oddly abstract quality to the current reaction to Palestinian belligerence, as if that belligerence were devoid of context. Of course, it is not. The Palestinian people will have to think long and hard about how their actions led them to the edge of the abyss. But regardless of how the current intifada began, it has by now become a mutually reinforcing cycle of Palestinian violence and terror on the one hand and devastating Israeli military attacks on the other.

As evidenced by the increasing number of Palestinians protesting even halfhearted efforts by Yasir Arafat to detain his militants, for the Palestinian Authority to crack down on its own people while Israel maintains its aggressive military action is politically and practically implausible.

Of course, the United States is justified in pressuring Chairman Arafat to act against Palestinian terrorists. But so, too, must it admonish Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to cease those policies that inflame the Palestinian public and paralyze its security services: the targeted assassinations, home demolitions, suffocating closures and creeping reoccupation. By his actions, and not without considerable help from the Palestinians, Mr. Sharon has done all in his power to make it unfeasible for them to meet their obligations. For Mr. Arafat to play into Mr. Sharon's hands in this, alas, has come to be expected. But for the rest of us?
Arafat Adviser Warns U.S.
A U.S. decision to cut ties with the Palestinian Authority ``will cause an earthquake in the region that no one will be able to stop,'' Abu Rdeneh said.

``What is needed is to isolate Sharon,'' he said.

Arafat, who has been confined by Israel to his West Bank headquarters in the town of Ramallah for the past week, has not commented on the U.S. policy shift.
In an interview with Greek TV earlier Friday, Arafat accused the world of ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. ``We are the only people under occupation all over the world. Can this be accepted internationally?''
Car Bomb Kills Figure in 1982 Lebanese Massacre
Mr. Hobeika had just this week reaffirmed that he would testify in a case initiated by Palestinians in a Belgian court last June against the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, accusing him of war crimes in connection with the massacre.

Mr. Hobeika, 45, was the intelligence chief of the pro-Israel Lebanese Forces militia that was held responsible for the slayings of hundreds of men, women and children in the Palestinian refugee camps in September 1982. An Israeli commission of inquiry found that Mr. Sharon, then the defense minister and architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, was among those who bore "indirect responsibility" for the massacre.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

U.S. Suspends the Transport of Terror Suspects to Cuba
The United States' treatment of the prisoners has drawn especially blunt criticism from Europe, where it has raised fears that Washington may be applying international law selectively.

The decision by the Pentagon to keep the detainees outside the United States and not to classify them as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions has troubled European and other allies. The United States may be "making up the rules as it goes along," said a West European ambassador here.

"This is international law à la carte, like multilateralism à la carte," the ambassador said. "It annoys your allies in the war against terrorism and it creates problems for our Muslim allies, too. It puts at stake the moral credibility of the war against terrorism."

In the last few days, the German and Dutch governments and the European Union have openly criticized the treatment of the captives. They were spurred by a Pentagon photograph of bound, shackled prisoners, their heads and eyes covered, kneeling before American soldiers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Census Bureau Estimates 115,000 Middle Eastern Immigrants Are in the U.S. Illegally
The estimates do not include the number of illegal immigrants from Pakistan and from the Arab nations of northern Africa. Immigration officials said there were 40,000 illegal immigrants from Pakistan.

Whatever the grand total, it far outstrips the 6,000 Middle Eastern men recently sought by the Justice Department for ignoring deportation orders.

Responding to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the authorities said this month that federal, state and local officials would work with immigration officers to find and deport such immigrants.
At least three of the hijackers on Sept. 11 were in the United States illegally, the authorities say.

Saturday, January 19, 2002

The Fate of Qaeda Prisoners
…One of the most dangerous problems in the world today is that those who commit human rights violations so frequently get away with them. It is therefore critical that everyone responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks and for human rights crimes in Afghanistan be brought to justice.

How that happens, however, will ultimately help determine the success of the war on terrorism. President Bush has made it clear that this is a war not just to protect national security but also to defend principles of freedom and the rule of law. It is those very principles, as embodied, for example, in the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war and civilian protection and in the United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, that require prisoners to be treated humanely.

To the extent that the United States has decided to accord Taliban and Qaeda detainees at least some of the rights of prisoners of war, it should be commended. But the International Red Cross has declared that they should be treated as prisoners of war until proven otherwise, and to the extent that the United States ignores that ruling and disregards international standards, we compromise the very integrity of the struggle we are waging. The danger is that we hand the enemies of the rule of law — those who are looking for any opportunity to convince the world of our hypocrisy — a perfect excuse and an easy victory.

And we do two things more. We provide cover to other governments to ignore human rights standards and in the process make their regions of the world less stable. If the United States does not abide by human rights rules, why should others? And, perhaps most compelling, we may subject our own troops to greater peril.
Public Opinion on Poverty,Income Inequality and Public Policy: 1996-2001
The conventional wisdom used to explain why the United States has failed to adopt comprehensive anti-poverty measures has been that the public "hates the poor" and blames them for failing get ahead. This review of public opinion over the last five years reveals that the public's views are both more complex and supportive than is generally assumed.

Friday, January 18, 2002

EPIC Sues Govt. Agencies Over Privacy Data
Federal agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, have purchased personal information from profiling companies such as Experian Information Solutions Inc. and ChoicePoint Inc., the suit alleges.

EPIC officials said they have documents that show these companies have sold the IRS credit data, property records, and marriage and divorce data.

"Through the mining of public records and the purchase of credit reporting data, private sector companies are amassing troves of personal information on citizens for the government," said Chris Hoofnagle, an attorney with EPIC in Washington. "Serious questions exist involving citizen access to profiles, their accuracy and the potential for misuse of personal information."

Under FOIA regulations, the recipient of a request for information has 20 working days to respond. EPIC's suit alleges that the various law enforcement agencies to which it sent requests not only failed to respond within the allotted time, but haven't responded at all.,3658,s%253D701%2526a%253D21275,00.asp

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Baby Bells Preparing to Reveal Customers' Personal Calling Data

Security Update 10 January 2002
In a move so brazen that it has rendered thousands consumers first incredulous and then irate, at least two of the United States' regional telephone monopolies have sent notices to customers indicating that they intend to trade, sell, or use for marketing purposes the calling records they accumulate from every telephone customer. These records include not only whom, when, and where you call, but also -- if you're on a wireless phone -- your physical location. They can be used to program telemarketers' computers to call you when you are most likely to be home -- or to compile a dossier of your most frequent contacts.,3396,s%253D25124%2526a%253D21033,00.asp

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Justices Limit Reach of Arbitration Law
The Supreme Court ruled today that arbitration agreements that bar employees from suing their employers for discrimination cannot prevent a federal agency from going to court on the workers' behalf and seeking back pay, damages and reinstatement for victims of discrimination.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Britain Turns Aside Criticism About U.S. Treatment of Detainees
Amnesty International called their treatment "cruel, degrading and inhumane" and said, "Degrading treatment of prisoners is a flagrant violation of international law which cannot be justified under any circumstances." Human Rights Watch stated, "The proposed cages are a scandal. The United States should not be transporting detainees to Cuba until it can provide decent shelter."

Both organizations disputed the decision announced by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday that the prisoners would be held as "unlawful combatants", a status that gives them less protection than the Geneva Convention affords prisoners of war. "The U.S. is placing these people in legal limbo," Amnesty said today. "They deny that they are prisoners of war (POWs) while at the same time failing to provide them with the most basic protections of any person deprived of their liberty."

Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent London rights lawyer, called Mr. Rumsfeld's finding "deplorable" and said the United States was abandoning the same Geneva Convention protections that had saved the lives of American prisoners in Korea and Vietnam. He urged Britain "to remind our U.S. allies that the conventions lay down that anyone captured in the course of such a conflict must be presumed to have POW status until a competent court — not Donald Rumsfeld — declares otherwise."
Doctors' New Practices Offer Deluxe Service for Deluxe Fee
If you had a substantial portion of America's doctors doing this, who's going to take care of everybody else?" said Dr. Richard Roberts, chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "We've got 40- plus million people in this country without health insurance, another 20 million who are underinsured. What's wrong with this picture?"
New Jersey Troopers Avoid Jail in Case That Highlighted Profiling

The legal finale to the case today outraged longtime critics of racial profiling. Civil rights leaders have vowed to press state officials to discipline the supervisors who taught racial profiling and to adopt a new law making it a crime.

"This was not justice," said the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey. "And we will not stop until justice is ours."

Yet as the criminal charges in the shooting came to an end today, and the Justice Department agreed not to prosecute the troopers, John Hogan, 32, and James Kenna, 31, on federal charges, even civil rights leaders conceded that since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the practice has become even more pervasive. Since Sept. 11, thousands of Middle Eastern men have been apprehended and questioned with little public protest in the government's terrorism investigation.

The two men who began the furor by firing 11 shots into a van carrying black and Latino men from the Bronx on April 23, 1998, publicly acknowledged today for the first time that they had stopped the vehicle because its occupants were black and Latino. The troopers said their supervisors had trained them to focus on black- and brown-skinned drivers because, they were told, they were more likely to be drug traffickers.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

TAKING AFTER FATHER -- A Frozen Sperm Riddle
"It's another in the long string of examples of the law struggling to come to terms with new reproductive technologies that raise questions that traditionally did not have to be faced," said Sally Goldfarb, who teaches family law at Rutgers Law School in Camden, N.J. "It used to be that a child born more than a year after a man's death was conclusively presumed not to be his child. We can't say that anymore. There's a vacuum in terms of legislation on the issue, so the courts deal with it, case by case."

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled this month that twin girls born two years after their father's 1993 death from leukemia should have normal inheritance rights, if both the man's consent to the conception and his genetic relationship with the children could be proven.

"Posthumously conceived children may not come into the world the way the majority of children do," said Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. "But they are children nonetheless. We may assume that the Legislature intended that such children be `entitled,' insofar as possible `to the same rights and protections of the law' as children conceived before death."

Her decision acknowledges that granting inheritance rights to posthumously conceived babies may complicate life for earlier-born heirs. "In an era in which serial marriages, serial families, and blended families are not uncommon, according succession rights under our intestacy laws to posthumously conceived children may, in a given case, have the potential to pit child against child and family against family," she said, since the later child's share of the inheritance would reduce the amount available to any older children.

Saturday, January 12, 2002

Gaza Picks Up Pieces Left by Israeli Bulldozers
At the refugee neighborhood, known as Block O, residents wandered through a scene of devastation. A United Nations official said that more than 50 homes had been destroyed and more than 500 people were left homeless.

Climbing over piles of rubble and twisted steel, people collected pieces of wood and scavenged for other items they could salvage or sell. A day after the destruction, little was left of the contents of their homes. A torn schoolbook and notebooks were under the remains of one house, a crushed stroller and smashed sink were strewn a short distance away.

Displaced residents said they had spent their first homeless night sleeping in the houses of neighbors and relatives. Zeinat Abu Jazzar, 23, flanked by her two little sisters, one barefoot and the other in oversize borrowed shoes, managed to keep her composure as she ticked off the meager belongings her family had lost.
Everything was gone, she said, including a supply of medication her sisters had to take every week.

Then her voice broke.

"I can't find shelter since yesterday," she said, tears in her eyes. "Look at us, the clothes we're wearing are from the neighbors, my sister ran out of the house barefoot, we had to borrow shoes."
U.S. Selling Papers Showing How to Make Germ Weapons
For $15, anyone can buy "Selection of Process for Freeze-Drying, Particle Size Reduction and Filling of Selected BW Agents," or germs for biological warfare. The 57-page report, dated 1952, includes plans for a pilot factory that could produce dried germs in powder form, designed to lodge in human lungs.

For years, experts have called such documents cookbooks for terrorists and condemned their public release. Now, with new urgency, scientists and military experts are campaigning to have the weapon reports locked away from public access. The Bush administration is considering such restrictions, said John H. Marburger III, the White House science adviser.

Experts warn that the documents, even though decades old, contain information that could help produce the kind of sophisticated anthrax powder that killed five people and traumatized the nation last fall.
About PHIL
Much of the information critical to the communication of public health messages is pictorial rather than text-based. Created by a Working Group at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PHILTM offers an organized, universal electronic gateway to CDC's pictures. We welcome public health professionals, the media, laboratory scientists, educators, and the worldwide public to use this material for reference, teaching, presentation, and public health messages. The content is organized into hierarchical categories of people, places, and science, and is presented as single images, image sets, and multimedia files.
Public Health Image Library

Friday, January 11, 2002

Judge Rules Fingerprints Cannot Be Called a Match
A judge has ruled for the first time that fingerprint evidence, a virtually unassailable prosecutorial tool for 90 years, does not meet the standards set for scientific testimony and that experts in the field cannot testify that a suspect's prints definitely match those found at a crime scene.

The decision, by a senior federal judge in Philadelphia, comes after two years of efforts by defense lawyers to hold fingerprint analysis to standards set by the Supreme Court in 1993.

The judge, Louis H. Pollak, found that fingerprint analysis had not been subjected to the rigorous testing required under those standards.
Judge Pollak ruled that fingerprint experts could still point out the similarities between prints from a crime scene and those of a defendant.
They may also still point out that no two people have the same prints. But, the judge wrote, "what such expert witnesses will not be permitted to do is to present `evaluation' testimony as to their `opinion' that a particular latent print is in fact the print of a particular person."

Thursday, January 10, 2002

The Season

Peace on earth?
Peace on planet three?
That's something we'd
all like to see.

how could that be?
when human hearts
lie dormant in their
own early winter,
and faith itself is

Frozen hearts dream
of killing, imagine that
their twisted rage is key
to God's eternal presence
when a heart filled with
hate has no room,
no more room than
the inn in Bethlehem.

Have we chosen?
To be like them
frozen? Compassion
dead, justice dying
in a world of hungry
children crying.
Why can't we see
beyond our hardened

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Justices Narrow Breadth of Law on Disabilities
The unanimous ruling was the latest and one of the most important in a series of Supreme Court decisions that have interpreted and, for the most part, narrowed the broad terms of the 1990 law, which obligates employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers.

As a result, plaintiffs are finding it much more difficult than the law's advocates expected to win their cases, or even to get into court in the first place under increasingly stringent definitions of disability.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

XML Schema Part 0: Primer

XML Schema Part 0: Primer is a non-normative document intended to provide an easily readable description of the XML Schema facilities, and is oriented towards quickly understanding how to create schemas using the XML Schema language. XML Schema Part 1: Structures and XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes provide the complete normative description of the XML Schema language. This primer describes the language features through numerous examples which are complemented by extensive references to the normative texts.

Monday, January 07, 2002

News: Could CD-copying actually be legal?
Record companies' efforts to protect CDs against digital copying are beginning to draw scrutiny from lawmakers concerned that the plans might violate the law.

On Friday, Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., sent a letter to executives of the recording industry's trade association, asking whether anti-piracy technology on CDs might override consumers' abilities to copy albums they have purchased for personal use.

A 1992 law allows music listeners to make some personal digital copies of their music. In return, recording companies collect royalties on the blank media used for this purpose. For every digital audio tape (DAT), blank audio CD, or minidisc sold, a few cents go to record labels.,4586,5101267,00.html
ZDNet: Tech Update: Trojan horse conveys IE users to porn
The JS/Seeker-E script can arrive by e-mail or can be embedded into a Web page: When a user opens the e-mail or clicks on the Web page, the script is activated. Once activated, Seeker attempts to change the user's IE settings, such as the start page and search settings, and will redirect the infected user to a porn site.

"It isn't terribly damaging, as it exploits a bug in IE that was first found in October 2000," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos. "Seeker will only affect those who have not updated their necessary patches.",14179,5101254,00.html

Sunday, January 06, 2002

Profile of a Killer
In fact, many experts believe that the killer is tied to the American bio-weapons program because the anthrax he sent out is genetically identical to the anthrax kept by the United States Army. A microbiologist named Paul Keim is helping the authorities compare the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax, and every indication is that it derives at least indirectly from the mother lode of the military strain, kept at Fort Detrick, Md.

The mailed anthrax is also astonishingly pure and equivalent (in spore size and concentration) to the best the American Army ever achieved. Making anthrax in a dry powdered form of this quality is difficult, and beginning in 1959 took 900 workers in the "hot" area of Fort Detrick years of effort (and two accidental deaths, including that of an unlucky electrician who changed light bulbs at the wrong time). Thus it seems that the murderer had access not only to the American military germs but also to some knowledge of the American military method of preparing it in its dry form.
'The Future of Ideas'
In the process of making a film, a director must "clear rights." A film based on a copyrighted novel must get the permission of the copyright holder. A song in the opening credits requires the rights of the artist performing the song. These are ordinary and reasonable limits on the creative process, made necessary by a system of copyright law. Without such a system, we would not have anything close to the creativity that directors such as Guggenheim have produced.

But what about the stuff that appears in the film incidentally? Posters on a wall in a dorm room, a can of Coke held by the "smoking man," an advertisement on a truck driving by in the background? These too are creative works. Does a director need permission to have these in his or her film?
Huge Decline Seen in Budget Surplus Over Next Decade
"We're a world away from where we were at this time last year," said Representative John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "I'm not sure how you solve this equation, arithmetically or politically."

The new figures, developed separately by the Democratic staff of the House Budget Committee and the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee, are an effort to predict official figures to be released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office this month and the White House's Office of Management and Budget next month.

The numbers developed by the two staffs are very similar. They provide a clear sense of the scale of the reversal in the nation's fiscal fortunes in the wake of the economic downturn, the Sept. 11 attacks and the $1.35 trillion tax cut President Bush pushed through last year over opposition from most Democrats.

With the money drying up and Democrats and Republicans facing painful choices between cutting the budget and abandoning any pretense of fiscal responsibility, the political and economic considerations are complex.

Saturday, January 05, 2002

Democrat Assails Bush on Economy
Mr. Daschle tried to dispel the idea that the Sept. 11 attacks and the war on terrorism were the main causes of returning federal deficits. "Sept. 11 and the war aren't the only reasons the surplus is nearly gone," he said. "They're not even the biggest reasons. The biggest reason is the tax cut."

At the heart of Mr. Daschle's speech was an effort to contrast Mr. Bush's economic policies with those of former President Bill Clinton and to tie Democrats to the prosperity of the last decade. He was flanked by a former Clinton treasury secretary, Robert E. Rubin, and a onetime Clinton budget director and chief of staff, Leon E. Panetta, who is board chairman of the Center for National Policy, the site of the speech.

"In 1993," Mr. Daschle said, speaking of Mr. Clinton's first year in office, "our economy was saddled with a record $290 billion deficit, and that deficit was projected to grow substantially for years. By 2000 not only was the deficit gone, we had a record $236 billion surplus, and that surplus was expected to increase dramatically for years."

Careful not to attack Mr. Bush by name, he said that when the recession started in March, "Republicans chose exactly the wrong solution" and pushed through the $1.35 trillion 10-year tax cut. Mr. Daschle said supporters of the tax cut had been "certain we could do everything" — reduce taxes, increase spending, protect the federal retirement programs and pay off debt.
Nation's Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.8%
Unemployment for black and Hispanic workers continued to climb. The jobless rate for blacks rose to 10.2 percent in December, twice the rate for whites. Maya Rockeymoore, a labor expert at the National Urban League, said that more blacks worked in the service industries that suffered after the terrorist attacks, especially hospitality and entertainment. "The unfortunate incidents of Sept. 11 actually had disproportionately negative impact on African- Americans," she said.
U.S. Says It Did Not Help Israel Seize Ship
The officials cautioned that they had no evidence at this point that the weapons were destined for the Palestinian Authority, as claimed by Israel, and that it was more likely they were headed for the anti-Israeli Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

One senior official said he assumed that the ship originated in Iran, but he acknowledged that American intelligence began tracking the ship at sea and not from an Iranian port, so he could not be sure. Another senior official said it was too early to speculate on either the origin or the destination of the weapons.

Friday, January 04, 2002

Fresh Start 2002: Weird Ideas That Work
Weird Idea #1. Hire slow learners of the organizational code. Specifically, hire people with a special kind of stupidity or stubbornness -- who avoid, ignore, or reject how things are "supposed to be done around here." Surround those slow learners with fast learners who understand how to promote their creative ideas.

Weird Idea #1 1/2. Hire people who make you uncomfortable -- even those whom you dislike. Once you've hired people who prompt discomfort, take extra care to listen to their ideas.

Weird Idea #2. Hire people whom you ( probably ) don't need. Interview and occasionally hire interesting or strange people with skills that your company doesn't need at the moment -- and might never need. Then ask them how they can help you. You might be surprised.

Weird Idea #3. Use job interviews to get new ideas, not just to screen candidates. Job interviews are a weak way to select employees. Still, there is a little-known benefit: They provide the opportunity to learn something new. Give job candidates problems that you can't solve. Listen as much as you can. Talk as little as you can.

Weird Idea #4. Encourage people to ignore superiors and peers. Hire defiant outsiders. Rather than teaching newcomers about company history or procedure, have the newcomers teach the old-timers how to think and act. Encourage people to drive you crazy by doing what they think is right rather than what they are told.

Weird Idea #5. Find happy people, and let them fight. If you want innovation, you need upbeat people who know the right way to battle. Avoid conflict during the earliest stages of the creative process, but encourage people to fight over ideas in the intermediate stages.
LRB | Edward Said: Is Israel more secure now?
Edward Said

'The world is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and we tear off our limbs to pass through.' Thus Mahmoud Darwish, writing in the aftermath of the PLO's exit from Beirut in August 1982. 'Where shall we go after the last frontiers, where should the birds fly after the last sky'? Nineteen years later, what was happening then to the Palestinians in Lebanon is happening to them in Palestine. Since the al-Aqsa Intifada began last September, Palestinians have been sequestered by the Israeli Army in no fewer than 220 discontinuous little ghettoes, and subjected to intermittent curfews often lasting for weeks at a stretch. No one, young or old, sick or well, dying or pregnant, student or doctor, can move without spending hours at barricades, manned by rude and deliberately humiliating Israeli soldiers. As I write, two hundred Palestinians are unable to receive kidney dialysis because for 'security reasons' the Israeli military won't allow them to travel to medical centres. Have any of the innumerable members of the foreign media covering the conflict done a story about these brutalised young Israeli conscripts trained to punish Palestinian civilians as the main part of their military duty? I think not.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Terrorism: Test Your Knowledge At Public Agenda
Study Backs Idea That Heart Can Repair Itself
Doctors have long assumed that damage from a heart attack or other ailment is irreversible and that the heart cannot regenerate tissue the way other organs can. But last year, a team of American and Italian researchers demonstrated that heart muscle cells multiplied after a heart attack.

And now they have shown that in heart transplant patients, primitive cells from the patient travel to the new heart and grow new muscle and blood vessels. Studying men who received transplanted hearts from women, the researchers discovered male cells in the donated female hearts — cells that could only have come from their own bodies.
con·cept: January 2002