Thursday, November 20, 2003

Back to Work

Temperature’s back to normal, and I have a list of school sites to visit today because the downtown offices of M-DCPS are still closed – today is supposed to be the day of the biggest demonstrations, according to the Miami Herald. So, of course, guess where the school sites are that I’m supposed to visit? You guessed it…downtown.

In FTAA news, the police arrested a group of seven anarchists who had holed up in an abandoned mansion in the Morningside area of Miami, north of downtown.

In another, more ominous event, Miami police arrested what they called seven suspected ”anarchist types” in a long-abandoned, waterfront home known as the Prescott mansion in the historic Bayside neighborhood, a few miles north of downtown Miami.

Inside a guesthouse on the property, officers said they found gas masks, crowbars, makeshift slingshots, chains with heavy locks, walkie-talkies, two cans of fire accelerant and tire irons.

”Things to cause problems,” said Lt. Bill Schwartz, a department spokesman.

Painted on a wall in the house at 7101 NE 10th Ave.: a square drawn at the average height of a person with the word ”head” written inside it. A larger box labeled ”center mass” was drawn beneath that.

”They obviously used this for target practice,” Schwartz said. “These people were ready.”

Police said the following people were charged with burglary, though they were not certain that the suspects provided their real names: Harrison Richard Bartlett, 19; Sarah Beth Rochen, 19; Robert Matthew Gilbert, 21, of St. Petersburg; James Lennox, 24; James Michael Davidson, 23; Nicholas Gauger, 24; Joshua Davidson, 19, of Glenview, Ill. The other hometowns were not immediately known.

Meanwhile, at the actual meeting, negotiators reached a compromise agreement that would, in essence, allow members to opt out of parts of the FTAA that they didn’t like. This wasn’t greeted with enthusiasm by FTAA proponents.

”This is not the way we want to go,” said Frank Vargo, international vice president for the National Association of Manufacturers. U.S. manufacturers generally support the FTAA because it holds the promise of opening foreign markets to American products.

Vargo said his organization — politically influential in Congress, which ultimately must pass any FTAA treaty — wouldn’t back an agreement that fell short of business goals. ”If it is not a high-quality agreement, we are not going to support it,” he said.

A weak draft appeared to cost the support of one influential senator.

”I’m skeptical about any FTAA agreement that establishes only a minimum base line of commitments for all participants,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement. “Hemispheric integration will work only if all countries play by the same rules.”

It should be noted, though, that Senator Grassley is from the party whose idea of compromise is “be reasonable and do it my way.”

More updates later today as I get back out into the real world.