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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Thursday, July 31, 2003

Here's The Onion's infographic on the RIAA crackdown.

Posted by Rob at 9:25 PM

Although the news cycle might be over, I thought I might weigh in on the heinous murder of Saddam's two sons by U.S. forces. I believe that assassinating two political leaders instead of capturing them and charging them with crimes was a mistake, not to mention that the death of Saddam's innocent grandson seems to have been accepted as a reasonable casualty. The refusal of the U.S. to participate in any sort of multilateral process of adjudication to me is a grave failure of the global community. It seems to me the just path for a myriad of reasons - legal, ethical, and otherwise.

Resorting to political assassination of the type followed with gusto by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq not only shows an arrogant disregard for international law, but also wastefully throws away an opportunity to further bolster the machinery of international justice. (Not that anybody in the U.S. government seems interested in that vague idea these days) I myself relish the thought that Milosevic languishes in a European cell while his horrible acts as Serbia's ruler are meticulously documented before he will receive a prison sentence of ridiculous length. However, by brazenly refusing to subject any Afghanis or Iraqis to similar treatment, the U.S. is only showing they are just as much a thug as some of the people they have murdered, or decide to detain indefinitely in Camp X-Ray. (A group of sickly and elderly old men, some in their 80s, were released a few months ago from that facility after the Bush administration was forced to conclude they were 100% innocent)

Posted by Rob at 6:12 PM

Articles of note:

> DetNews: "Downtown attracts more retailers"
> DetNews: "Downtown Detroit draws housing"
> AP: "Librarians nationwide chafe under Patriot Act"

Posted by Rob at 5:40 PM

Thanks to work by some of the fine people at the University of California - Berkeley, the origins of political conservatism are finally being probed:

"Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

* Fear and aggression
* Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
* Uncertainty avoidance
* Need for cognitive closure
* Terror management"

> See "Researchers help define what makes a political conservative"

Posted by Rob at 12:56 PM

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The American Civil Liberties Union recently announced the first-ever legal challenge of a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot act that allows federal authorities to demand individuals turn over "any tangible thing" without a warrent, and in total secrecy. The suit is let by attorneys from the Michigan state office. From their press release:

“Ordinary Americans should not have to worry that the FBI is rifling through their medical records, seizing their personal papers, or forcing charities and advocacy groups to divulge membership lists,” said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU and the lead attorney in the lawsuit.

“We know from our clients that the FBI is once again targeting ethnic, religious, and political minority communities disproportionately,” she added. “Investing the FBI with unchecked authority to monitor the activities of innocent people is an invitation to abuse, a waste of resources, and is certainly not making any of us any safer.”

[ ... ]

Significantly, the launch of the ACLU’s suit coincides with a Justice Department public forum set for tonight at Wayne State University in Detriot. The event appears to be a strategy by the Justice Department to ease rising public concern about its use of the PATRIOT Act and other post-9/11 anti-civil liberties measures.

As at similar events around the country, protesters are expected at the forum. The ACLU will also hold a media availability outside the forum venue featuring one of the litigators in the PATRIOT lawsuit and members of the state affiliate. Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D) - one of the main opponents of the Justice Department’s expanded surveillance and enforcement powers -- will also be present.

> ACLU PR: "ACLU Files First-Ever Challenge to USA PATRIOT Act, Citing Radical Expansion of FBI Powers"
> AP: "ACLU, community groups challenge Patriot Act surveillance"

Posted by Rob at 7:41 PM

The Downtown Development Authority is considering improvements to Huron street, Fifth Avenue, and Division, including "bike lanes, art sculptures and trees" by commissioning a $500,000 study. I applaud their initiative, but it seems secretive - the Ann Arbor News must concede "details are sketchy." I believe planning of this sort comes out best when the most community members - especially the people who actually use the street - have input. However, the DDA is quasi-private, and can commission expensive private studies with taxpayer money without citizen oversight. That matter aside, here are my suggestions: a tree-lined median with broad crosswalks and benches, parking along both sides (to slow traffic and make pedestrians feel safer), and wider, well-lit sidewalks.

> "DDA: Streets in need of makover"

Posted by Rob at 5:09 PM

This was sent to my by my friend Adam Konner, and I thought it made a lot of sense so I decided to post it here ...

Boycott the Recording Industry

"The RIAA has issued at least 911 subpoenas so far, according to court records. Lawyers have said they expect to file at least several hundred lawsuits within eight weeks, and copyright laws allow for damages of $750 to $150,000 for each song.

"If they end up picking on individuals who are perceived to be grandmothers or junior high students who have only downloaded in isolated incidents, they run the risk of a backlash," said Christopher Caldwell, a lawyer in Los Angeles who works with major studios and the Motion Picture Association of America."

The recent actions of the Recording Industry Association of America completely baffle me. Do they really expect that they are going to improve their business by suing their own customers? It seems to me that the only reasonable way to respond to this is to boycott the recording industry. This means, simply, don't buy any albums in the stores. If you want a new album, find a friend who has it and copy it, get it directly from the artist, or, if it remains possible, try to download it from the internet or from a private network.

The victims of a boycott of this hopelessly corrupt industry would be almost exclusively record companies. Musicians get an oppressively small percentage of album sales. It is common knowledge that musicians don't get rich from album sales, but from concert tickets.

The RIAA contends that internet music sharing is responsible for the fact that music sales have greatly fallen in the past few years. But the past few years have been the midst of a recession. Music is a luxury, one of the first things people will stop buying if they are in financial trouble. The fact is, music sales boomed during the time that Napster was fully functional, and it was only after the RIAA killed Napster that sales began to decline.

In addition to all this, CD's have always been vastly overpriced. CD technology has been available for two decades, and it now costs far less to make a CD than it ever did to make a cassette tape. Despite this, CD's started out costing about 50% more than tapes, and instead of getting cheaper as the technology improved, CD's have been gradually getting more and more expensive over the years. Add this to the oppressively small percentage of album sales afforded to artists, and it becomes clear that a boycott of the recording industry has been ripe for a long time.

The RIAA is missing the point here, and missing a great opportunity. Ever since the beginning of the World Wide Web, countless services and sources of
information have been provided free, funded by advertising. There is no reason internet music sharing cannot function the same way. Instead of fighting this inevitable trend, the RIAA should be embracing it.

Adam Konner

Posted by Rob at 1:12 PM

Who is Howard Dean?

"In the Vermont political spectrum, he was a moderate or a centrist," said Eric L. Davis, a professor of political science at Middlebury College in Vermont. "In the spectrum of Vermont, he was not someone who was a strong supporter of left or progressive causes."

Not having read much about Howard Dean, I found today's New York times story "Defying Labels Left or Right, Dean's '04 Campaign Makes Gains" interesting. It paints a picture of a moderate, pragmatic politician that has tapped into a rich vein of liberal fury that has catapulted him to the lead position in the race for the Democratic primary. While the New Dems are hand-wringing over a rumor Karl Rove likes Dean because he is "too liberal," I'm worried for a different reason - that the narrow portion of the electorate that controls the presidential election will be too whipped up into a racist, jingoist, ignorant love-fest over Bush to elect a pragmatic moderate that might actually work to improve government and fight the 'war on terror' they love so much - instead re-electing a president too busy war mongering and giving handouts to corporate scoundrels to help them.

"... Vermont now offers the nation's most generous health benefits to children, low-income adults and elderly residents of modest means. Almost all children in the state have full medical insurance, and more than a third of Vermont residents on Medicare get state help in paying for prescription drugs.

Posted by Rob at 1:01 PM

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Another U-M Blogger Mike Roth has posted a response to the RIAA's tactics of attacking individual MP3 file traders, announcing he's going to resume buying CD's but do everything he can to keep the record labels from making any money from him.

All good stuff, until I get to the part where he bashes the United Auto Workers ("It's not that I hate the concept of the recording industry - hell, the UAW plays a part in pretty much every car I've ever driven, and I have no problem with it - it's that I hate their tactics.") Yikes. I suppose it's an example of the effects of media and education systems that largely leave out the important historical role unions have played in America that makes an 18-year old feel as if he can dismiss the UAW because of their "tactics," (which have been mostly nonexistant since they sold out in the 1950s.) Without digressing further I'll simply refer the visitor to Detroit, I Do Mind Dying, a great book about the radical union movement in Detroit in the 1960s and 1970s.

Posted by Rob at 8:39 PM

The University of Michigan Hospital was given the green light by the U-M Regents to begin improvements that will total $260 million at their meeting last month. The projects include a new cardiovascular center, expanded laboratories, more operating rooms and procedure rooms, more hospital beds, and hiring more surgeons.

> See "U-M hospitals' $260M campaign aims at increased revenue"

Posted by Rob at 1:12 PM

"Akerlof: "... As of March 2003, the CBO estimated that the surplus for the next decade would approximately reach one trillion dollars. But this projection assumes, among other questionable things, that spending until 2013 is going to be constant in real dollar terms. That has never been the case. And with the current tax cuts, a realistic estimate would be a deficit in excess of six trillion.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the government's just bad at doing the correct math?

Akerlof: There is a systematic reason. The government is not really telling the truth to the American people. Past administrations from the time of Alexander Hamilton have on the average run responsible budgetary policies. What we have here is a form of looting.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: If so, why's the President still popular?

Akerlof: For some reason the American people does not yet recognize the dire consequences of our government budgets. It's my hope that voters are going to see how irresponsible this policy is and are going to respond in 2004 and we're going to see a reversal. "

> From an interview of George Akerlof, economist at UC-Berkeley and Nobel Prize winner in economics in 2001, in the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Posted by Rob at 12:54 PM

The reading room at the Bentley Historical library will be closed for the month of August for construction of a new addition. See official website here.

Posted by Rob at 12:38 PM

Monday, July 28, 2003

“Surely, such a threat should be met with intelligence gathering of the highest quality — not by putting the question to individuals betting onan Internet website. ...Spending taxpayer dollars to create terrorism betting parlors is as wasteful as it is repugnant,” they added.

> From a letter written by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to Adm. John Poindexter, who leads the section of DARPA developing the Policy Analysis Market.

Posted by Rob at 11:19 PM

Think you know what will happen in the Middle East? The chances Yasser Arafat will be assassinated? How long Saudia Arabia's monarchy will last? Put your money where your mouth is. Thanks to the Defense Department, you might soon be able to do just that in the Policy Analysis Market: "Pentagon's futures market plan condemned"

While I predict the plan will not be put into place, there already exist companies that make profits by investing in terrorism, war, and political unrest by selling insurance to U.S. corporations. The man who started one of the largest companies in this "emerging field"? None other than the U.S. civilian ruler of iraq, Paul Bremer.
> See Naomi Klein's "Downsizing in Disguise" or,
> A policy paper by Paul Bremer titled "New Risks in International Business"

Posted by Rob at 8:49 PM

A friend recently sent me a link to this story on about the Transportation Security Administration's "No-fly" and "strict security" lists with either prohibit certain people from flying, or single them out for searches or detentions: "Grounding the flying nun"

"Evidence compiled in a series of interviews suggests that activists on the left and right have been affected, as have many Arab Americans. That has civil liberties experts warning that the airport security checks have a chilling effect on routine political activity that is unprecedented in recent times."

Posted by Rob at 7:30 PM

Haddad's family has been deported:
> AANews 6/27: "Family's deportation closes one chapter"
> DetNews: "Supporters rally as Haddad's wife, children deported"
> Freep: "Wife, children of Ann Arbor activist also deported"

Also, this on the RIAA's crackdown on teens for file-swapping, something most musical artists encourage:

"The RIAA subpoena claims the Ann Arbor user violated copyright laws by offering up pop and rock songs, including Madonna's "Material Girl," No Doubt's "Underneath it All," and the Guns and Roses tune "Sweet Child of Mine.""

> From AANews 6/25: "Recording industry subpoenas Comcast for local 'swapper'" The article quotes University administrators who say the RIAA's changing tactics mean they may be forced to divulge the identities of students caught file-swapping using university computers.

Posted by Rob at 6:38 PM

This week's Michigan Daily, includes among its three news stories a lengthy write-up about the 6-year dispute between University administrators and Prof. William Kauffman: "Intellectual frad trial against 'U' postponed"

"The trial comes after at least one failed attempt between the parties to settle, in which the University offered Kauffman $300,000 on the conditions that he retire and sign a gag order."

Another article wraps-up the Friday fire at the Ann Arbor Technology Center, a large warehouse-like building that had been the only place near downtown where an eclectic combination of bands, artists, and small businesses could afford rent. The fire sped the destruction of the building, further squeezing the small percentage of Ann Arbor that makes it unique. City leaders obviously haven't read Jane Jacob's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, where she discusses the need for unusual, older buildings to provide space for individuals that can't manage the high rent new construction demands.

"Michelle Hinebrook, a painter who had a studio on the second floor, said the Technology Center was the home to many organizations, including the Five Five Five Galley, Flockworks Studio, and a dance studio.
Hinebrook added that she feels the Technology Center is something you don't find in most cities, and its destruction represents a great loss to the community.

"Ann Arbor likes to see itself as a cultural hub, and it is -- to a certain extent, but it's taken a great loss," she said.

She added that efforts should be made to find another low-rent space for the artists to relocate to, as most who were formerly based at the Technology Center have relocated to Ypsilanti or Detroit.

"It's sad that things are just stopping for the creative community that existed there," she said. "When all the artists leave the city, you are going to feel the after-effects of that."

Posted by Rob at 6:14 PM

Thursday, July 24, 2003

According to a complaint filed by civil rights organizations opposed to Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action initiative in Michigan, his group may be laundering the money used to run the campaign.


"Some Republicans worry that a contentious battle over affirmative action could adversely impact President Bush's chances of capturing Michigan in next year's re-election bid. Bush applauded the Supreme Court's admissions decision that Connerly and House Republican supporters are seeking to disallow in Michigan"
> From Booth Newspapers: "Drive to begin in September to put race admission ban on the ballot"
> AA News: "Connerly continues push"

Posted by Rob at 4:50 PM

Long overdue, the RIAA's war on teens swapping the latest TRL hit has reached Ann Arbor:

"The RIAA has issued at least 911 subpoenas so far, according to court records. Lawyers have said they expect to file at least several hundred lawsuits within eight weeks, and copyright laws allow for damages of $750 to $150,000 for each song.

The AP tracked targets of subpoenas to neighborhoods in Boston; Chicago; St. Louis; San Francisco; New York and Ann Arbor, Mich."

> From AP: "Music-sharing subpoenas target parents, grandparents"

Posted by Rob at 11:25 AM

Inspired by the post below, I've finally got my U-M Gallery of Shame online, which features the Frieze Building prominently. What am I missing?

Also, my exclusive U-M earnings spreadsheet has been downloaded 1,642 times since I posted it in May, over 800 times in July.

Posted by Rob at 11:09 AM

Ann Arbor News columnist Judy McGovern mentions efforts by graduates of the old Ann Arbor high school to preserve the Frieze Building in a recent column. She quotes from an article the class has sent to U-M presidents since the Bollinger days:

"Those of us interested in preserving the integrity of Ann Arbor streetscapes and the university campus would be pleased if you would enquire about this situation and bring us up to date as to the possibility of maintaining and preserving this important building."

While Ann Arbor Sucks is sarcastic, I do agree with the class of '51 - the Frieze Building is the only campus building I know of that the University seems to have decided isn't worth repairing, painting, or maintaining in any way. Paint on external trip is badly blistered, in many places peeled down to bare wood. The antiquated heating system is so inadequate some professors use space-heaters in their offices for much of the year. And most of a second-floor men's room was out of service for a period of months when I took a class nearby last year. Budget cuts aside, the University has not let any other campus building I know of deteriorate to such a pathetic state (except perhaps the Chinese Studies Center across the street) - and I believe it's because of a conscious plan of university officials to wear the building out to such an extent they can deck it without protest and build some sort of MLB-like modernist monstrosity. Would it cost more to maintain and rennovate the Frieze Building? Probably. Would it be worth it? In my opinion, yes.

(Thanks to AASux who found the column and once again proves she has more patience navigating MLive than I)

Posted by Rob at 8:30 AM

The Detroit News' coverage of the Michigan leg of Bush's economic recovery tour is appropriately critical:

"The simple fact of the matter is the country was prosperous when (the Bush administration) came to office. It is not prosperous today."

Dingell pointed to data from the National Association of Manufacturers showing that Michigan has lost one out of every six manufacturing jobs since July 2000, shortly before Bush was elected, and 1,200 manufacturing jobs in June alone. "

> From: "Democrats blast prersident's visit"
> See also: "Stumbling economy tops Michigan worries"

While I have plugged Dennis Kucinich from this podium before, Carol Moseley Braun also seems an appealing candidate.

Posted by Rob at 7:55 AM

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The U.S. Attorney's office is planning an information session in Detroit to 'foster understanding' of the U.S. "Patriot" Act:
> AANews: "Feds to get in on 'act'"

Also, Ann Arbor police are reporting they suspect GHB was involved in a recent rape:
> "Woman raped at club thinks she was drugged"

Posted by Rob at 5:35 PM

Monday, July 21, 2003

International labor organizations are launching tomorrow a worldwide boycott of Coca-Cola to protest their alleged role in the death of eight union organizers in Columbia.

Posted by Rob at 8:22 PM

All University of Michigan Residence Hall Libraries with the exception of Bursley and East Quad have been closed for the upcoming academic year, apparently as a cost-saving measure. The old libraries will be replaced with "a new service model based on partnerships with the University Library," according to Director of Residence Hall Libraries David Pimentel in an email to former undergraduate employees of the residence hall libraries. Pimentel wrote:

"We anticipate phasing in the new program immediately. The first phase will include a change in the number of residence hall library sites: in fall 2003, East Quadrangle and Bursley Hall are targeted for traditional RHL operations."

Read the entire memo here

It's unclear how the reorganization will impact the Residence Hall Head Librarians, graduate students in the U-M School of Information who recently petitioned to join the Graduate Employees Organization. The closing comes after another low-budget campus institution, the U-M Student Woodshop, was abruptly told they would lose all funding earlier this summer. Woodshop supporters are trying to raise enough money to keep the shop open this year while a long-term solution is found.

Posted by Rob at 1:47 PM

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Jeremy Berkowitz emailed me a link to this story he wrote for today's Washington Post: "For internships, this summer's not so hot"

Posted by Rob at 3:45 PM

Officials in four states - Texas, California, Washington and Georgia - are considering reviving affirmative action policies.
> DetNews: "Four states may revive affirmative action"

According to the A2 News, 'Fair weather for fairgoers may have drawn 650,000'

And a controversy about Rabih Haddad's deportation continues:
"As the case slowly worked through the immigration courts, the Justice Department said to itself, 'Look. This guy is small potatoes. He may have some links to terrorists, but he is not a dangerous terrorist. Now, what do we do with him?' ... They followed the course of least resistance. ... They can get someone thrown out of the country on a ham sandwich."
> From "Haddad gone, but questions remain"

Posted by Rob at 3:15 PM

Saturday, July 19, 2003

A group calling themselves the Ann Arbor Bill of Rights Defense Committee thinks the Ann Arbor Police might have been more involved with the deportation of former Ann Arbor resident Rabih Haddad than they're letting on, stating the following in a press release this week:

"After an initial denial by AAPD Public Relations Officer George Patak, Lieutenant Detective Chris Heatley also confirmed last week that the AAPD officers have been attending Detroit Joint Terrorism Task Force meetings since before Haddad's arrest. When asked if the AAPD had prior knowledge or participated in the arrest, Heatley stated, "I have no comment."

A refusal to comment is an admission of nothing. However, given government claims and Haddad's significant ties to Ann Arbor it seems unlikely that the AAPD had no role whatsoever in Haddad's arrest. It seems more likely that the AAPD shared intelligence with the JTTF, participated in planning, offered backup, or, perhaps, even undertook surveillance of Haddad's activities in Ann Arbor. These are all matters that should be addressed in a public investigation.
According to yesterday's Ann Arbor News, a press release from ICE (formerly INS) headquarters in Washington, DC hailed Haddad's deportation and claimed "This action is also a testament to the cooperation between law enforcement agencies in pursuing and removing those individuals linked to terrorism." The people of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County have a right to know if their police forces participated or plan to participate in unjust or unconstitutional federal law enforcement operations like the arrest of Haddad. It is noteworthy, too, that Ann Arbor's recently adopted civil liberties resolution would likely not prevent AAPD participation in future arrests of other immigrants who like Haddad are accused of threatening national security."

Posted by Rob at 1:34 AM

Friday, July 18, 2003

"I'm not sure people in Washington really know what it's like here," said Corp. Todd Burchard as he stood on a street corner, sweating profusely and looking bored. "We'll keep doing our jobs as best as anyone can, but we shouldn't have to still be here in the first place."

Nearby, Pfc. Jason Ring stood next to his Humvee. "We liberated Iraq. Now the people here don't want us here, and guess what? We don't want to be here either," he said. "So why are we still here? Why don't they bring us home?"

> From SF Chronicle: "Pentagon may punish GIs who spoke out on TV"

Posted by Rob at 10:28 PM

Life During Wartime - Lists of the Dead
> CNN: 269 Confirmed coalition deaths in database
> Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Profiles of Americans who have died
> Newsday: List of U.S. Soldiers who have died, also: List of journalists killed in Iraq

Posted by Rob at 5:13 PM

"America is the enemy of God," a crowd chanted as the servicemen towed away a charred Humvee
"We will not cooperate with the council," he told the crowd. "We will form our own council. Iraq will then have two councils: one of the wrongdoers and one of the righteous."

"Zionists!" the crowd chanted. "Zionist council!"

In an interview later with The Associated Press, al-Sadr said he would launch a parallel government and draft a constitution in consultation with all the country's Islamic movements.

"Eventually, we'll have a referendum separate from the Americans and, God willing, elections separate from the Americans," he said.

> From AP: "Explosives kill U.S. soldier in Iraq"

Posted by Rob at 5:02 PM

British police have found dead a government official that is suspected to have leaked information to the media about how Tony Blair's government lied about Iraq's weapons as a pretext for war.

Some details about Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force are coming to light. The documents turned over as a result of a FOIA lawsuit include "a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects" and a document titled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”

Posted by Rob at 4:45 PM

Careful what you read in public, or the FBI might pay a visit: "Careful: the FB-eye may be watching"

[FBI Special Agent] Trippi's partner speaks up: "Any reading material? Papers?" I don't think so. Then Trippi decides to level with me: "I'll tell you what, Marc. Someone in the shop that day saw you reading something, and thought it looked suspicious enough to call us about. So that's why we're here, just checking it out. Like I said, there's no problem. We'd just like to get to the bottom of this. Now if we can't, then you may have a problem. And you don't want that." (via Tom Tomorrow)

Posted by Rob at 4:35 PM

While you won't find it in the Michigan Daily coverage, out-of-state tuition will increase 6% next year, less than in-state tuition, perhaps because it's already so inflated. From the A2 News' "U-M Budget Highlights": "Nonresident freshman and sophomores in LS&A will pay $24,778, an increase of 6 percent, or $1,412." I am assuming the increase is similar for me, an "upper-level" (juniors and seniors) out-of-state LSA student .

Here's a roundup of tuition-increase stories:
> AP: "U-M, Western Michigan approve tuition increases"
> AANews: "Tuition burden rises for U-M undergraduates"
> Freep: "U-M, in a bind, raises tuition by 6.5 percent"
> Det. News: "U-M boosts tuition by 6.5 percent"

Also, this story on Haddad:
AANews: "Rep. Conyers demands information on Haddad"

Posted by Rob at 2:45 PM

It turns out suing Oakhurst Dairy wasn't the first time Monsanto bullied others to keep information about the Bovine Growth Hormone they produce, rBGH, away from consumers. In 1998, two Pulitzer-prize winning journalists were fired from a Fox affiliate in Florida after reporting on the dangers of BGH. Steve Wilson and Jane Akre had been leaked a Canadian study that concluded Monsanto's synthetic hormone needed more testing because some lab rats developed throid cysts and infiltration in the prostate, and milk produced by cows given BGH contained high levels of IGF-1, a compound that has been linked to increased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Fox pressured the two to re-write the story numerous times after being contacted by Monsanto, ultimately firing the two reporters. The two have documented the lengthy court battle with Fox on a website,

Posted by Rob at 2:26 PM

Thursday, July 17, 2003

According to this University Press Release, the budget approved by the Regents today increases in-state tuition $490, or 6.5%. The Michigan Daily story, which reads like a re-write of the official press release, is here. It's unclear how much out-of-state tuition will increase. The University claims changes to their employees' prescription drug benefits have saved the University - and cost their employees - about $1 million.

Posted by Rob at 8:18 PM

Conyers on Haddad:
"If your immigration officials are correct, your staff released a person with credible ties to terrorism. If they are wrong, Mr. Haddad was a victim of guilt by association and unlawfully ejected from a community where he has played a constructive role (as) a spiritual leader." - U.S. Representative John Conyers in a letter to Department of Homeland Security director Tom Ridge.

> From the AP story "Conyers demands information on Haddad deportation"

Posted by Rob at 8:02 PM

The Regents are set to increase tuition 7% at their monthly meeting today according to the Ann Arbor News.

Also, in the News' "Haddad's wife vows to vindicate spouse" Salma Al-Rushaid told reporters in a press conference: "Willingly, I don't want to return to America unless the old America comes back."

Thanks to MG for pointing out this article in the Free Press: "U-M graduate rurnning independent news magazine in Baghdad"

Posted by Rob at 2:11 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

More details on the Haddad story today - after being detained for six hours by authorities in Lebanon he was released. Also, Haddad's friends and local activists held a press conference today at 1 pm at Ann Arbor's Islamic Center.

> NYTimes: "U.S. Deports charity leader in visa dispute"
> AANews: "Haddad deported from U.S."
> Freep: "U.S. deports Muslim activist to Lebanon"

This is from the Ann Arbor News story:
"Greg Palmore, a spokesman for the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), had confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Haddad was deported but then called The News to ask the story be held until Thursday for "national security" reasons. He said two federal agents were accompanying Haddad to Lebanon and feared for their safety if word leaked out.

The request came to hold the story even though the agents had allowed Haddad to call his family from The Netherlands.

Palmore withdrew the request when it became apparent that Haddad's deportation had become public knowledge."

I wonder if they considered holding the story?

Posted by Rob at 2:04 PM

The AP has lengthened their story on Haddad to include quotes from Haddad's wife and a confirmation from Department of Homeland Security that Haddad was actually deported, although details remain sketchy.
> AP: "Haddad deported, family to remains in U.S."

Posted by Rob at 12:31 AM

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I recently added left-leaning cartoonist Tom Tommorrow's latest book to my books page. In light of the news about Haddad, who apparently is already in Lebanon, I thought this Tomorrow cartoon particularly apt.

Posted by Rob at 11:20 PM

Iraq's 'Governing Council met today for the first time while Paul Bremer said in a press conference it would be up to "Iraqis" to determine how long U.S. troops would remain in Iraq. Showing a characteristic failure to understand democracy, the 25-member council was appointed by the U.S. and any decision they make can be vetoed by Bremer. Not suprisingly, the council's meeting was met with a protest (which seems little reported aside from a few seconds on PBS's News Hour) and skepticism:
"We cannot back the council. It is backed by America and it won't change anything. America has just made empty promises," said Sabah Kathim, an ice-seller who earns $3 a day."
> From Reuter's "New Council takes first step towards democracy"

Imagine if in the 1760s King George had appointed a council of tories in the 13 colonies, reserved the right to veto anything they decidied, and said they would be the sovereign government. What would Thomas Paine have done? George Washington? Sam Adams?

Posted by Rob at 9:44 PM

According to an Associated Press story, Ann Arbor resident Rabih Haddad has been deported. His family, however, will remain in the U.S. even though they faced the exact same minor immigration violation - overstaying their visas. At the time of his arrest, (first reported by this website) Mr. and Mrs. Haddad had applied for citizenship, and their application was being considered when their visas expired. Although the entire family had violated their visas, only Mr. Haddad was arrested and detained when federal agents stormed his residence on December 14, 2001, on "Farewell Friday," or the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Haddad had been inprisoned until his deportation Monday, allowed only short visits with his wife and four children. Mr. Haddad and the charity he co-founded, the Global Relief Foundation, have not been charged with any crime after lengthy federal investigations.

AP: "Haddad deported, family remains in U.S."

Posted by Rob at 7:31 PM

Alright, my Monsanto blurb may have been a bit over the top, but commercial speech isn't exactly a clear-cut field, as this column makes clear: "Commercal free speech may be key".

Posted by Rob at 2:20 PM

The Detroit News asks "Is growth good for art fairs?" in an article about what to expect. Meanwhile, read up on the history of Art on a Stick, or sign the petition.(Out of date, but fun.)

Also, Chris Webber avoided jail time by admitting he did accept cash from Ed Martin.

Posted by Rob at 2:01 PM

Monday, July 14, 2003

Art fairs are coming! The Record article "Art fairs expand around campus" discusses how the enlarged fairs will impact the campus area.

Posted by Rob at 9:17 PM

The Monsanto Corporation, producer of an artificial hormone injected into dairy cows to increase their milk production, recently sued a small Maine dairy that places their pledge never to use the hormone on every carton, jug, and bottle they produce. Monsanto is alleging in the lawsuit that the warning, which reads “Our Farmers' Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones” misleads customers by implying milk without the hormone, known as rBST, is healthier than milk without it. Although rBST has been approved by the U.S. FDA, Canada and the European Union have banned it citing health concerns and inconclusive science.

After the lawsuit was announced, the CEO of Oakhurst Dairy, (son of the man who began the dairy in 1921) told the media that the company had received more than 100 e-mails, more than 50 phone calls and dozens of faxes and letters in the first 48 hours after the lawsuit was announced – all in support of Oakhurst. The local newspaper, the Portland Press Herald, has run a staff editorial and dozens of letters in support of Oakhurst, including one from a doctor who alleged her son suffered from a rare enlargement of one breast until she switched from generic to Oakhurst milk.

Monsanto had requested the state of Maine discontinue a state program called the “Quality Trademark Seal” that marks containers of milk without the hormone earlier in the year, but the Maine Attorney General turned down their request. If Monsanto expected a different response, they must not know much about Mainers, who value locally produced foods and distrust giant corporations from out of state. Many communities shoulder significant tax burdens to keep working farms viable, and local supermarkets heavily market locally produced milk, fruit, bread, and - of course - seafood.

This sort of practical preference for the welfare and well being of Maine residents over the bottom lines of multinational corporations isn’t new. Maine recently showed a similar lack of deference towards enormous, extremely profitable corporations when they announced a plan where the state would negotiate lower prescription drug prices directly with drug companies to save both the government and state residents money. The protestations of drug companies were cut short when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program last month.

While these pragmatic approaches to reign in multinational corporations may be foreign to much of the rest of the nation, for Mainers the matter is clear-cut: a local milk company that provides consumers the assurance they can avoid a controversial hormone banned in many countries will always win out over one of the world’s most profitable, and controversial agribusinesses.

> NYTimes: "Monsanto sues dairy in Maine over label's remarks on hormones"
> Press Herald: "Oakhurst Lawsuit: David vs. Goliath"

Posted by Rob at 9:06 PM

An article I wrote after taking Prof. Ian Robinson's class “Labor in Mexico’s Maquiladora Zone: Nogales Field Study,” appears in this summer's edition of Michigan Today, the U-M alumni magazine:

> "A Tale of Both Nogales"

Prof. Robinson wrote a companion piece:
> "Why Mexicans head for our border"

Posted by Rob at 12:28 PM

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Prof. Darwall posted on his blog yesterday responding to emails he has received since announcing he was the new director of the honors program. Replying to one email (which I suspect was from a good friend of mine) about the exclusivity of the honors program, he writes the following:

"In my view, "Honors Program" is actually a misnomer. What we should be about is nothing honorary, not honoring ourselves, but the kind of challenging, committed intellectual exchange that is worthy of our honor. My idea is that to do this we need a place outside of the classroom where these exchanges can reliably be expected to take place, and my hope is that at least one such place will be the Honors Commons. So we need to maintain a relevant sense of place there (so that it doesn't just become, say, an extension of the Computer Courtyard). However, I regard it as an open, discussable question exactly how we maintain this sense of place--suggestions appreciated."

I am optimistic that inclusive, intellectual, creative programs and functions can be created that can utilize the Honors Commons both as a resource for honors students, but also for intellectual life at Michigan in general. I think that if the honors program staff or honors students organized receptions, discussion groups, and other events in the commons open to all, they would not only foster the type of "vibrant intellectual culture" Prof. Darwall and many others desire, but also elevate the reputation of the program and caliber of honors students.

Posted by Rob at 5:58 PM

Woodshop supporters have announced the creation of a student group:

"Dear Student Woodshop Users
As many of you know the student wood shop has been closed and may never be opened again. But there is still a possibility that it could be kept open with your help. Student participation is one of, if not the most important way that the shop doors can reopen. There have been a group of around a hundred individuals students, staff, alumni and community members meeting weekly on Sundays to discuss ways in which the wood shop can be reopened. If you can attend then please do, we need your input and voice to be heard. The next meeting is this Sunday July 13 in Lorch 201 off of Tappin St at 3:00pm and the following Sunday same time and place. The wood shop started off as a student run organization and has been mis funded. A student organization is in effect as of now and we need as many members to join and attend meetings as possible. If the student interest is strong enough then they cannot deny us our right to keep the doors open. Please use your voice and right as a student to email Mary Sue Coleman at and tell her what you think about the closing.
There are many ideas already on the table to keep the shop open and a lot of bases are covered but the one thing that there can never be enough of is the voice of the very members that make up the university and that is the students. We invite anyone who is available and willing to contribute to come to the next meeting, email me with ideas, write a letter to the president, contact other people who you know who use or have used the woodshop and get them on board. If we want this shop to stay open which many of us do then we need to do it because no one is going to do it for us.
Anthony Arnold
Co-Chair of Student Woodshop Organization"

Posted by Rob at 3:59 PM

Articles of note:

AANews: "Drive to save U-M woodshop falling short of fundraising goal"

Freep (Jul. 9): "Anti-affirmative action initiative: Activist targets U-M policy"

Detnews: "Two teens do prison time for robberies"

Posted by Rob at 2:29 PM

Friday, July 11, 2003

Former philosophy department chair and new LSA Honors program director Stephen Darwall introduced himself today in an e-mail to honors participants, introducing his new blog "The Director's Page" where he pledges to " ... knit the Honors community together in all sorts of different ways to make for a more vibrant intellectual culture." While I suppose it was only a matter of time before an administrator started a blog, I must admit Prof. Darwall's new blog took me by surprise - hopefully he takes full advantage of it to communicate to students. As far as I know, History professor Juan Cole is the only other professor to maintain a blog - if you know of any others please let me know so that I can add them to the U-M blogs page.

Although I think his initial goal of trying to forge a more cohesive honors community a good start, I think there are two clear changes that should be made to the honors program:

1) The honors admissions criteria- simply a minimum GPA and SAT score - is flawed. If the University recently won a supreme court decision by arguing in part that test scores alone are not enough to determine admissions, why does the honors program do it? The honors program should put more effort in communicating to incoming students, trying to recruit intellectually curious people through a broad variety of criteria, including students' geographic and economic backgrounds, race, academic interests, and activities.

2) Prof. Darwall should focus not exclusively on forging an honors community, but an intellectual community in general at Michigan. By limiting events and resources to LSA Honors participants, they leave out many students who have much to give, and, I think, make the honors program unnecessarily elitist. I believe the Perlman Honors Commons and events held there should be open to all students - providing academic resources to motivated students is one thing, but creating a space exclusively for honors students at the center of campus is another entirely.

Posted by Rob at 3:35 PM

Thursday, July 10, 2003

From the Grand Rapids Press, a story about my friend Dave Enders: "City High graduate launches Englishs publication in Baghdad"

His Baghdad magazine recently ran an op-ed piece I wrote: "Democracy and Profit in Iraq"

Posted by Rob at 4:02 PM

"Indian American Files Lawsuit Alleging Caste Bias"

In the first known case of its kind in the United States, an Indian-American has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging discrimination based on caste, reports the weekly India Abroad in its July edition.

Pinaki Mazumder, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, filed the case alleging his former department chair "harbored individual hostility against (him) based on (Mazumder's) inferior caste." The dean, Pramod Khargonekar is a Brahmin, the highest caste in the Hindu hierarchy. Mazumder is a Kayastha, which is one rung lower.

Mazumder alleges that Khargonekar's "bias" affected his performance reviews and pay raises. He also complained that Khargonekar allowed another Brahmin research student to take files from Mazumder's computer without his knowledge.

"I never imagined I would have to take such a traumatizing step when I left India 20 years ago," Mazumder told India Abroad. The University of Michigan has dismissed the allegations. "The University of Michigan College of Engineering faculty is quite diverse, including many highly successful faculty members from India," said spokeswoman Julie Peterson."

Posted by Rob at 3:53 PM

Here are two crime alerts from my week away...



Date: July 5, 2003 between 7:30 p.m. and 8:40 p.m.
Location: 3900 W. Liberty, Scio Twp. (Saginaw Forest)
Offense: Kidnapping/2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Summary: A 15-yr.-old male reported being forcibly fondled.
Suspect: White male, about 35 yrs., 5'6-8", thin build, dark hair,
dark complexion, sideburns, possible mustache, wearing a blue sweatshirt,
blue shorts, and grey shoes. Vehicle involved was an old, blue or grey
4-door, poor condition with rust, loud muffler.


Date: July 3, 2003
Location: Pedestrian path between Hubbard and Hayward
Offense: Assault
Summary: A woman was walking on the path and was grabbed from behind. She was able to break free and fled from the area.
Suspect: Black male, approximately 6'2" wearing a dark short sleeve shirt


Posted by Rob at 3:41 PM

Articles of note:

CNN: "Extreme weather on the rise"

NYTimes: "Ballot measure seen in wake of rulings":
"Michigan is a racially polarized state — one of the most segregated places in the United States," he said. "It's a dangerous place to stir up these issues."

"Weapons of Mass Destruction"?

Posted by Rob at 3:37 PM

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The Ann Arbor city council passed the resolution protesting the Patriot Act: "Council protests Patriot Act"

And, Ward Connerly is in Michigan:
> DetNews: "GOP shuns affirmative action vote"
> Daily: "Ward Connerly to speak at U, may lead state ballot initiative"

An op-ed piece I wrote about Iraq was printed in this week's Baghdad Bulletin.

Detroit News columnist Luther Keith on the vocabulary of the affirmative action debate.

Posted by Rob at 12:46 PM

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