Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bangladesh, The US treads lightly.

Ruth Fremson for The New York Times

A mosque in southern Bangladesh was not spared by a cyclone that struck on Nov. 15 and killed more than 3,000 people.

Published: November 24, 2007

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Nov. 23 — As an American warship with more than 3,000 troops arrived off the coast of Bangladesh to help deliver food, water and medicine to the most remote corners of this cyclone-battered country, United States military officials took pains on Friday to say they would not take any steps that might seem intrusive.

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

A Bangladeshi military copter carried aid to Nalcity Friday.

Speaking to reporters, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, the commander of American forces in the Pacific, said American troops would work alongside Bangladeshi troops and make joint decisions about where American military assets would be helpful.

“This is not a U.S.-only operation; it’s in support of Bangladeshi operations,” he said at a news briefing after meeting with Bangladeshi Army officials here in Dhaka, the capital. “We are not just going to come storming ashore.”

The approach illustrated how tricky it has become for American troops to deliver even humanitarian aid to a friendly Muslim-majority nation.

The Bangladeshi Army’s chief of general staff, Maj. Gen. Sina Ibn Jamali, acknowledged that there was “sensitivity” to American military involvement in the nation’s relief operations. He said the Americans had been invited because his own military-backed government lacked the aircraft, in particular, to distribute aid swiftly to areas that needed it most.

“They will be working with us, uniform and uniform,” the general said.

The Associated Press reported that members of a small Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, protested the American military presence after Friday Prayer at Dhaka’s largest state-run mosque.

The American vessel, Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship equipped with 20 helicopters and three landing craft that can maneuver in coastal areas, was stationed Friday about 30 miles off the southern coast of Bangladesh.

United States military officials said that only a handful of American troops would be on Bangladeshi soil at any time, with most marines and Navy personnel staying aboard the Kearsarge and coming ashore to deliver supplies. Admiral Keating said the troops would stay as long as they were needed.

A second American ship was on its way, packed mostly with supplies. The Americans said they expected to start delivering aid as early as Saturday.

The Kearsarge arrived as aid workers warned of an imminent risk of water-borne disease from the Nov. 15 cyclone and, eventually, a worsening of childhood malnutrition, which already hovers around 48 percent, according to Unicef.

Although the cyclone’s death toll was put at nearly 3,200, according to Bangladeshi Army officials, with 1,700 more people still missing, the government estimated that the storm had affected more than six million Bangladeshis by destroying homes, fields and fish ponds.

The Bangladeshi military continued to ferry food and clothing to the cyclone zone. On Friday afternoon, a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter made its last run to a small town called Nalcity, where the cyclone had uprooted tall trees, blown off tin roofs and flattened acres of rice fields.

The birds scattered and the dust blew furiously as the helicopter descended, bearing dried dates and biscuits as well as saris and lungis, the basic clothing for Bangladeshi women and men.

After reading the above story and looking at the CIA profile of Bangladesh why might helping this grief stricken country be an issue?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dilemma: A Mother Torn From a Baby

Mp3 of interview with reporter.

November 17, 2007

Federal immigration agents were searching a house in Ohio last month when they found a young Honduran woman nursing her baby.

The woman, SaĆ­da Umanzor, is an illegal immigrant and was taken to jail to await deportation. Her 9-month-old daughter, Brittney Bejarano, who was born in the United States and is a citizen, was put in the care of social workers.

The decision to separate a mother from her breast-feeding child drew strong denunciations from Hispanic and women’s health groups. Last week, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency rushed to issue new guidelines on the detention of nursing mothers, allowing them to be released unless they pose a national security risk.

The case exposes a recurring quandary for immigration authorities as an increasing number of American-born children of illegal immigrants become caught up in deportation operations. With the Bush administration stepping up enforcement, the immigration agency has been left scrambling to devise procedures to deal with children who, by law, do not fall under its jurisdiction because they are citizens.

“We are faced with these sorts of situations frequently, where a large number of individuals come illegally or overstay and have children in the United States,” said Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for the agency. “Unfortunately, the parents are putting their children in these difficult situations.”

Yesterday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released new written guidelines for agents, establishing how they should treat single parents, pregnant women, nursing mothers and other immigrants with special child or family care responsibilities who are arrested in raids.

The guidelines, which codify practices in use for several months and apply mainly to larger raids, instruct agents to coordinate with federal and local health service agencies to screen immigrants who are arrested to determine if they are caring for young children or other dependents who may be at risk. The agents must consider recommendations from social workers who interview detained immigrants about whether they should be released to their families while awaiting deportation.

The new guidelines were a response to intense criticism from officials in Massachusetts about one raid, at a backpack factory in New Bedford in March. They do not specifically address the American citizen children affected by raids, whose numbers have only become clear in recent months.

About two-thirds of the children of the illegal immigrants detained in immigration raids in the past year were born in the United States, according to a study by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute, groups that have pushed for gentler deportation policies for immigrant families.

Based on that finding, at least 13,000 American children have seen one or both parents deported in the past two years after round-ups in factories and neighborhoods. The figures are expected to grow. Over all, about 3.1 million American children have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant, according to a widely accepted estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

Under the 14th Amendment, any child born in the United States is a citizen and cannot be deported. But with very rare exceptions, immigration law does not allow United States citizen children to confer legal status on parents who are illegal immigrants, until the children are 18 years old. While the federal government does not keep statistics on the children of deportees, immigration lawyers said that most immigrants who are deported take their children with them, even if the children are American citizens.

“Children have no rights to keep family members here because they are citizens,” said Jacqueline Bhabha, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who specializes in citizenship law. When parents face deportation, she said, the law “penalizes United States citizen children by forcing them to choose between their family and their country.”

Ms. Umanzor, 26, was arrested in her home on Maple Street in Conneaut, Ohio, on Oct. 26 and was released 11 days later on orders of Julie L. Myers, the head of the immigration agency. While in detention, Ms. Umanzor did not see her daughter Brittney, who had been fed only breast milk before her mother’s arrest. Ms. Umanzor remains under house arrest with Brittney and her two other children in Conneaut, 70 miles east of Cleveland, under an order for deportation. Her lawyer, David W. Leopold, has asked that her deportation be delayed on humanitarian grounds.

Ms. Umanzor had been at home with two of her three children, both American citizens, when the immigration agents arrived, along with a county police officer carrying a criminal warrant for a brother-in-law of Ms. Umanzor who also lived in the house.

As the agents searched, Ms. Umanzor breast-fed her jittery baby, she recalled in an interview after her release.

The baby was born in January in Oregon, where Ms. Umanzor’s husband, also Honduran and an illegal immigrant, was working in a saw mill.

Through a quick records check during the raid, the immigration agents discovered a July 2006 order of deportation for Ms. Umanzor, who had failed to appear for a court date after she was caught crossing a Texas border river illegally.

The agents detained her as a fugitive. She was forced to leave both Brittney and the other American daughter, Alexandra, who is 3, since the agents could not detain them.

“Just thinking that I was going to leave my little girl, I began to feel sick,” Ms. Umanzor said of the baby. “I had a pain in my heart.”

Ms. Umanzor turned over her daughters to social workers from the Ashtabula County Children Services Board, who had been summoned by the immigration authorities. In all, the social workers took in six children who lived in the Maple Street house, including Ms. Umanzor’s oldest child, a son born in Honduras. They also included three children of Ms. Umanzor’s sister, an illegal immigrant who was at work that day. Four of the children were born in the United States.

In jail and with her nursing abruptly halted, Ms. Umanzor’s breasts become painfully engorged. With the help of Veronica Dahlberg, director of a Hispanic women’s group in Ashtabula County, a breast pump was delivered on her third day in jail. Brittney, meanwhile, did not eat for three days, refusing to take formula from a bottle, Ms. Dahlberg said.

After four days, the county released all six children to Ms. Umanzor’s sister, who managed to wean Brittney to a bottle.

On Nov. 7, after two dozen women’s health advocates and researchers sent a letter protesting Ms. Umanzor’s detention, Ms. Myers issued a memorandum instructing field officers “to exercise discretion” during arrests by releasing nursing mothers from detention unless they presented a national security or public safety risk.

In cases where the breast-feeding children were United States citizens and entitled to public services, Ms. Myers urged the officers to seek assistance from social agencies to “maintain the unity of the mother and child.”

In their study, released this month, La Raza, a national Hispanic organization, and the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, examined three factory raids in the past year, in Greeley, Colo.; Grand Island, Neb.; and New Bedford. A total of 912 adults arrested in the raids had 506 children among them, three-quarters of whom were under 10 years old. About 340 of those children were born in the United States.

The study found that the children faced economic hardship after one or both of their bread-winning parents were detained or deported. Many families hid for days or longer in their homes, sometimes retreating to basements, the study reported. Although many children showed symptoms of emotional distress, family members were reluctant to seek public assistance for them, even if the children were citizens, fearing new arrests of relatives who were illegal immigrants.

Groups advocating curbs on immigration say that children of illegal immigrants cannot be spared the consequences of their parents’ legal violations just because they are American citizens.

“Children are not human shields,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Nobody wants to hurt anybody’s kids. But any time parents break the law, it has an impact on their children.”

Joseph Hammell, a lawyer from the Minnesota firm of Dorsey & Whitney who is conducting a separate legal survey of recent raids for the Urban Institute, noted that the authorities were guided by immigration law, which includes few of the protections for citizen children that are basic in family and criminal courts.

“In the context of immigration and deportation proceedings,” Mr. Hammell said, “we are completely out of step with our societal values of protecting the best interests of our children.”

Ms. Nantel, the immigration agency spokeswoman, said the primary responsibility for the plight of the American children of illegal immigrants rests with parents who violated the law. “It’s a challenging situation” for the agency, Ms. Nantel said. “It’s unfortunate that children are impacted negatively by the decisions of their parents.”

Look at the this interactive map: TO SEE MAP CLICK HERE

Why would immigrants risk being separated from their families and come to America?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Well- regualted militia

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

How do you interpret the second amendment?

Why is there such a dispute over gun ownership?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Immigrant Drivers

Should undocumented immigrants be allowed to carry state drivers licenses?

What are the arguments for and against this policy?

How do the presidential candidates feel about this issue?

Is this a topic that presidential candidates should be debating about?

Thursday, November 15, 2007


What qualities are we looking for in a presidential candidate?

What is the importance of primaries?

What would be the one question you would ask the all the candidates that would help you make a decision as who you would vote for as president?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Depleated Uraniumn

What issues does the documentary Poison Dust concentrate on? What point of view does the director have? What evidence is presented? What further questions might you have for the director? Was the documentary compelling? What is surprising about their website?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace

Today in class we were honored to have to members of the Veterans for Peace organization join us about their experience in the military. Ms Groebner contacted the non-partisan speakers to share their experiences and choices they made during the 1960’s while the country was recruiting soldiers during our armed conflict in Vietnam.

Their message was simple. They cautioned our graduating seniors against the dangers of racism that had been instilled in them during basic training and spoke about the danger of not having an action plan after graduation from high school.

Compare what you heard in class to what we are reading about in class. What does it mean to be courageous.? What does it mean to be a patriot?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

CLINTON Says Some G.I.'s in Iraq Would Remain

WASHINGTON, March 14 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.


The Times's Michael R. Gordon and Patrick Healy interviewed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday. Following are excerpts from that interview:
Audio Audio: Senator Clinton on Iraq (mp3)

Transcript of Interview With Senator Clinton (March 15, 2007)

If Elected ...


This is the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would confront as president. Future articles will look at the positions of the other candidates on Iraq and on other national security and domestic policy matters.

In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence — even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her campaign events, where she has backed the goal of “bringing the troops home.”

She said in the interview that there were “remaining vital national security interests in Iraq” that would require a continuing deployment of American troops.

The United States’ security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned into a failed state “that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,” she said. “It is right in the heart of the oil region,” she said. “It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel’s interests.”

“So it will be up to me to try to figure out how to protect those national security interests and continue to take our troops out of this urban warfare, which I think is a loser,” Mrs. Clinton added. She declined to estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she would draw on the advice of military officers.

Mrs. Clinton’s plans carry some political risk. Although she has been extremely critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war, some liberal Democrats are deeply suspicious of her intentions on Iraq, given that she voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force there and, unlike some of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, has not apologized for having done so.

Senator Clinton’s proposal is also likely to stir up debate among military specialists. Some counterinsurgency experts say the plan is unrealistic because Iraqis are unlikely to provide useful tips about Al Qaeda if American troops end their efforts to protect Iraqi neighborhoods.

But a former Pentagon official argued that such an approach would minimize American casualties and thus make it easier politically to sustain a long-term military presence that might prevent the fighting from spreading throughout the region.

Mrs. Clinton has said she would vote for a proposed Democratic resolution on Iraq now being debated on the floor of the Senate, which sets a goal of withdrawing combat forces by March 31, 2008. Asked if her plan was consistent with the resolution, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers said it was, noting that the resolution also called for “a limited number” of troops to stay in Iraq to protect the American Embassy and other personnel, train and equip Iraqi forces, and conduct “targeted counterterrorism operations.”

(Senator Barack Obama, a rival of Mrs. Clinton, has said that if elected president, he might keep a small number of troops in Iraq.)

With many Democratic primary voters favoring a total withdrawal, Senator Clinton appears to be trying to balance her political interests with the need to retain some flexibility. Like other Democratic candidates, she has called for engaging Iran and Syria in talks and called on President Bush to reverse his troop buildup.

But while Mrs. Clinton has criticized Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcements as an escalation of war, she said in the interview, “We’re doing it, and it’s unlikely we can stop it.”

“I’m going to root for it if it has any chance of success,” she said of Mr. Bush’s plan, “but I think it’s more likely that the anti-American violence and sectarian violence just moves from place to place to place, like the old Whac a Mole. Clear some neighborhoods in Baghdad, then face Ramadi. Clear Ramadi, then maybe it’s back in Falluja.”

Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she believed the next president is likely to face an Iraq that is still plagued by sectarian fighting and occupied by a sizable number of American troops. The likely problems, she said, include continued political disagreements in Baghdad, die-hard Sunni insurgents, Al Qaeda operatives, Turkish anxiety over the Kurds and the effort to “prevent Iran from crossing the border and having too much influence inside of Iraq.”

“The choices that one would face are neither good nor unlimited,” she said. “And from the vantage point of where I sit now, I can tell you, in the absence of a very vigorous diplomatic effort on the political front and on the regional and international front, I think it is unlikely there will be a stable situation that will be inherited.”

On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly vowed to bring the war to a close if the fighting were still going on when she took office as president. “If we in Congress don’t end this war before January 2009, as president, I will,” she has said.

In the interview, she suggested that it was likely that the fighting among the Iraqis would continue for some time. In broad terms, her strategy is to abandon the American military effort to stop the sectarian violence and to focus instead on trying to prevent the strife from spreading throughout the region by shrinking and rearranging American troop deployments within Iraq.

The idea of repositioning American forces to minimize American casualties, discourage Iranian, Syrian and Turkish intervention, and forestall the Kurds’ declaring independence is not a new one. It has been advocated by Dov S. Zakheim, who served as the Pentagon’s comptroller under former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Zakheim has estimated that no more than 75,000 troops would be required, compared to the approximately 160,000 troops the United States will have in Iraq when the additional brigades in Mr. Bush’s plan are deployed.

While Mrs. Clinton declined to estimate the size of a residual American troop presence, she indicated that troops might be based north of Baghdad and in western Anbar Province.

“It would be far fewer troops,” she said. “But what we can do is to almost take a line sort of north of — between Baghdad and Kirkuk, and basically put our troops into that region, the ones that are going to remain for our antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for, for the Iraqis.”

Mrs. Clinton described a mission with serious constraints.

“We would not be doing patrols,” she added. “We would not be kicking in doors. We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the various Shiite and Sunni factions. I do not think that’s a smart or achievable mission for American forces.”

One question raised by counterinsurgency experts is whether the more limited military mission Mrs. Clinton is advocating would lead to a further escalation in the sectarian fighting, because it would shift the entire burden for protecting civilians to the nascent Iraqi Security Forces. A National Intelligence Estimate issued in January said those forces would be hard-pressed to take on significantly increased responsibilities in the next 12 to 18 months.

“Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq,” the estimate noted, referring to the American-led forces.

Mrs. Clinton said the intelligence estimate was based on a “faulty premise” because it did not take into account the sort of “phased redeployment” plan she was advocating. But she acknowledged that under her strategy American troops would remain virtual bystanders if Shiites and Sunnis killed each other in sectarian attacks. “That may be inevitable,” she said. “And it certainly may be the only way to concentrate the attention of the parties.”

Asked if Americans would endure having troops in Iraq who do nothing to stop sectarian attacks there, she replied: “Look, I think the American people are done with Iraq. I think they are at a point where, whether they thought it was a good idea or not, they have seen misjudgment and blunder after blunder, and their attitude is, What is this getting us? What is this doing for us?”

“No one wants to sit by and see mass killing,” she added. “It’s going on every day! Thousands of people are dying every month in Iraq. Our presence there is not stopping it. And there is no potential opportunity I can imagine where it could. This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. If we had a different attitude going in there, if we had stopped the looting immediately, if we had asserted our authority — you can go down the lines, if, if, if — ”

Questions from class:

1. What is Hillary Clinton's position on troop deployment in Iraq?
2. Will this be a voting issue for the next election?
3. What should be our next step in Iraq?