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On ships in the city

Sailing Away
By JOHN MAXTONE-GRAHAM

ON its maiden arrival in New York in June 1911, White Star's giant liner Olympic berthed at the Chelsea piers, at 700 feet the longest in Manhattan. But the vessel's stern still jutted 180 feet out into the Hudson River. Clearly, Europe's naval architects had surpassed New York's harbor engineers.

Not until 1935 would the city catch up. The Normandie, the first of the 1,000-foot vessels, was due that June. To accommodate the French liner, New York's Department of Docks decided to create a series of 1,100-foot piers in Midtown by lengthening three existing 800-footers — Nos. 88, 90 and 92 — which stretched from West 48th Street to West 52nd Street.

The plan promptly ran aground when the federal government ruled that no Manhattan pier could be extended farther into the water, so as not to obstruct the shipping channel. But the Department of Docks was not deterred; it devised an ingenious if labor-intensive response. Rather than extend the three chosen piers into the river, the agency decided to extend them inland, the equivalent of lengthening trousers by raising the crotch rather than letting down the hems.

That decision would help usher in the age of Manhattan's super piers, as the news media quickly called the big new berths, an era that helped define the city at midcentury. But the super piers will lose much of their remaining luster next month as several star players abandon Manhattan, among them the Queen Mary 2, which will sweep into Red Hook on April 15.

The mammoth stretching project required to accommodate the Normandie and its equally enormous rivals began in 1933. Hundreds of thousands of tons of stubborn Manhattan schist were blasted, clawed and excavated from the head of each intervening slip. After more than a year's toil, three 300-foot indentations had been gouged out of the West Side.

The construction project did not include refurbishment. New York's piers had always fallen woefully short of their more civilized European counterparts, which included bars, restaurants, waiting rooms, even post offices. By contrast, Manhattan terminals were dreary, cavernous warehouses, broiling in summer, frigid in winter, and utterly devoid of decoration. Passengers embarking onto the world's most luxurious conveyances did so through indifferent, almost squalid anterooms. But now, at least, the piers would be long enough.

The newly stretched Pier 88, the southernmost of the three, was completed just in time. On the morning of June 3, 1935, as the Normandie steamed triumphantly upriver, bunting was being draped atop wet paint.

Enormous crowds packed 12th Avenue to watch as the ship, assisted by a dozen tugs, struggled to make its way into its new digs. Only after two abortive attempts did the liner manage to execute the tricky 90-degree turn east required to ease its huge bow into the slip. Even as the Normandie was tying up on the north side of Pier 88, across the way, work was continuing on Pier 90, where Cunard White Star's 1,000-foot Queen Mary was scheduled to arrive a year later.

For more than seven decades, Manhattan's super piers served generations of ships and their passengers. During World War II, they played host to troop ships, a flotilla of gray-painted, ghostlike vessels that included the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the Aquitania, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Ile de France, which had all been dragooned for the urgent business of war. Packed with troops, they slipped their moorings on secret nocturnal sailings that were furtive rather than festive, bound for high-risk passage across a hostile North Atlantic. After V-E Day, the same vessels completed happier crossings, spilling millions of khaki-clad soldiers and sailors onto the super piers along with many of their wounded comrades and thousands of wartime brides and their children.

The three piers, christened "luxury liner row," resumed their role as Manhattan's only working passenger docks, accommodating fleets of restored and repainted ocean liners that were cashing in on America's postwar wanderlust and leading countless East Siders to admit, without a trace of self-consciousness, "We only travel to the West Side to sail to Europe."

But a threat was looming, courtesy of aircraft that could cross the ocean in hours rather than days. In 1956, more Americans booked airline seats than they did shipboard cabins; for ocean liners, that statistic represented the beginning of the end as one by one, liners were either laid up or retooled as cruise ships.

There is great irony in the fact that just a year before both Queens departed from New York for good in the late 1960's, the super piers were renovated, air-conditioned, topped with parking lots and christened the North River Passenger Ship Terminal. By then, nearly all the vessels they were intended to accommodate had disappeared.

BUT the role of the super pier continued. Superannuated ocean liners were supplanted by cruise ships offering warm-weather voyages to Bermuda and the Caribbean, although many of these ships forsook New York for bases in Florida or Puerto Rico, so as to more quickly provide the turquoise waters that America's new sun-worshiping passengers craved.

Today, it is not the length of the new ships but their huge passenger loads that overwhelm the super piers, especially since cruise ships turn around in one day, arriving at dawn and departing by dusk.

When several of these monsters tie up at the same time, the result can be chaos, especially since economy dictates that cruise ships turn around in one day, arriving at dawn and departing by dusk; like aircraft they make money only under way. More than 12,000 passengers debark into fleets of waiting buses, and, by lunchtime, equivalent thousands descend from buses to take their place. Because ship storerooms must be replenished on the same day, dozens of 18-wheelers jostle for entry into the lower levels of the pier sheds.

The congestion is so acute that Micky Arison, Carnival's chief executive and the owner of Cunard, began searching New York Harbor for an alternative berth for his Miami and Fort Lauderdale fleets. He settled on an abandoned coffee pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Renovation and construction is under way, and when the Queen Mary 2 arrives from the Pacific on April 15, it will turn east toward Red Hook rather than continue upriver to its customary super pier berth.

Other owners have directed their vessels to the harbor's opposite shore. Royal Caribbean ships, including Celebrity Cruises, tie up in Bayonne, a New Jersey slip that is barren but blessed with infinite parking space.

At the same time that these relocations may be helping write the epitaph for Manhattan's super piers, they are also laying waste to hallowed tradition.

For more than a century, sailing near the Statue of Liberty was a rite of passage for vessels sailing into and out of the city. But as they approach New York Harbor, vessels headed for Red Hook will veer to starboard, and those destined for Bayonne will turn to port. Both detours will mean that as they sweep into a storied harbor, passengers will get only a distant glimpse of the Lady with the Lamp.

On Japan's Succession, and nationalism

To Japanese Nationalists, Only the Y Chromosome Counts
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

TOKYO

IT was one of the biggest rallies in support of Japan's imperial system since the end of World War II: Some 10,300 men and women gathered at the Budokan martial arts arena to protest a proposal that would let women become empresses and pass along title to the Chrysanthemum Throne. At the end, the throng stood and raised their arms in unison while shouting, "Long live the emperor!"

What could possibly stir so much passion about monarchy in the 21st century?

The question of admitting women to the line of imperial succession, often presented outside Japan as little more than a curious anachronism, has been growing in importance for the last six months. The issue has been promoted by Japan's nationalist movement, whose influence has risen along with the controversy.

The nationalists, who offer the public a version of Japan's past that is cleansed of remorse for World War II, are now putting the issue of imperial succession — and the imperial system itself — at the heart of their appeals.

"Search all over the world, but you won't find any other family besides the Japanese imperial family that has maintained an unbroken male line for 125 generations," Takeo Hiranuma, a former minister of economy, trade and industry, said at the rally, which was organized by Nippon Kaigi, one of Japan's largest nationalist groups. "In other words, it is the precious, precious treasure of the Japanese race, as well as a world treasure."

The object of the crowd's ire was a plan by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to revise the Imperial Household Law to allow a female line to hold the throne. Never mind that Mr. Koizumi has shelved the plan, after a rebellion by lawmakers in his center-right party and after an unexpected announcement last month by Emperor Akihito's second son and his wife that she was pregnant.

If the baby, due in September, is a boy, the problem will be moot for another generation, even if the emperor's first son, Crown Prince Naruhito, and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, never have their own son. The birth of a girl, however, would bring Japan back to square one. So until September, at least, there are likely to be more rallies as conservatives try to keep the issue alive.

The opposition to a female line is part of a larger nationalist movement that seeks a tougher stance against China and North Korea, presses aggressively for a revisionist history of Japan's wartime past, and pushes the myth of Japanese racial exceptionalism. Indeed, many at the rally are the same politicians, scholars and journalists who contend that the Nanking Massacre was vastly exaggerated, that Japan invaded continental Asia to liberate it and that Japan was tricked into war by the United States.

Historians trace the start of Japan's imperial system to the fourth or fifth century, though Japanese myth says the first emperor, Jimmu, a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, began his reign 2,665 years ago. Political heavyweights like Mr. Hiranuma are now stating the myth as fact. In addition, the foreign minister, Taro Aso, has said that because Japanese soldiers died for the emperor, the emperor should visit the Yasukuni Shrine, the memorial to Japan's war dead and 14 Class A war criminals.

What these comments have in common is the belief that the imperial system stands at the core of Japan, defines Japan — is, in fact, Japan. To conservatives in a country that has been transformed by outside forces in everything from its laws to its social mores, the imperial system is the one institution that has remained purely Japanese.

In the imperial system, only a male relative who was a direct descendant of the imperial line could become emperor — a rule designed to keep the male bloodline pure. Eight women were allowed to reign as empresses, but only because age or marital circumstances had made them unable to bear children, which eliminated the possibility that a man outside the imperial line would father a successor, said Takeshi Hara, a professor specializing in the monarchy at Meiji Gakuin University here. An empress "had to have a pure body," he said.

Until the 20th century, concubines ensured that a male heir was born, but that practice died with the advent of modern social mores in Japan.

Nobody, perhaps, has symbolized such changes more than Crown Princess Masako, the Harvard-educated, multilingual former diplomat who married the crown prince in 1993. Back then, she represented the new Japanese woman.

Once in the palace, however, she found that only one thing was expected of her: to produce a male heir. She gave birth to a girl in 2001, and sank into a long depression. The crown prince complained in 2004 that there had been a "move to deny Masako's career and personality."

Career? Personality? This outraged conservatives who thought any Japanese woman should devote herself to bearing and raising children. Princess Masako became the bête noire of the right wing and, especially in the last six months, the target of ceaseless attacks in the popular press.

Conservatives also oppose reforms that would promote gender equality — or what the Japanese call a "gender free" society. The result is that, compared to women in other advanced countries, Japanese women have little economic or political power.

They do, however, have power over childbearing. And Japan's plummeting birthrate suggests that many women are deciding not to have children, boy or girl.

Oh dear. We have a Trader Joe's now.

A Tiki Room With Aisles of Discounts Makes Its City Debut
By ANTHONY RAMIREZ

New York City — sharp-elbowed metropolis of ambition — was having a nice day yesterday. Trader Joe's, a California-based grocer of antic charm and discount prices, opened its first store in the city, in Union Square, to the giddy excitement of the long-since converted and a few startled novices.

A store is a store, and Manhattan has plenty of them: specialty foods, discount foods and everything in between, from caviar emporiums to Bangkok grocers. But foodies have been looking forward to Trader Joe's for weeks, and while the crush may soon lessen, the crowd was cheek-by-jowl for opening day. Everyone was happy, for 40 minutes at least.

Under sunny skies, scores of Trader Joe's fans lined up on East 14th Street an hour before the store's scheduled opening at 9 a.m. They smiled at television camera crews and bounced up and down on the balls of their feet. Some begged for the store to begin business early. It did, by 10 minutes.

But this being New York, with lines for the cash registers already snaking around the store, an annoyed middle-aged woman bellowed to those in front of her — at 9:30 a.m., to be precise — "So, you going to move or what?"

And thus the day went, Manhattan impatience mixed with dried hibiscus flowers, a specialty sweet of Trader Joe's. "It's my favorite store in the world," declared Barry Lapidus, 47, a freelance writer in Brooklyn. "I used to take a train and a bus for two and a half hours to the Trader Joe's in Hartsdale" in Westchester County.

Why?

"Why?" he exclaimed. "They have the best minestrone soup and egg rolls. The egg rolls are better than you can get in a Chinese restaurant."

Loni Sherman, a retired food-service manager who lives nearby in Peter Cooper Village, said her friends were planning a Trader Joe's party, at which mass quantities of Trader Joe's products would be consumed at will.

Steven Arvanites, 40, a Manhattan screenwriter, had never been to a Trader Joe's. "This is like a designer Costco," he said.

Trader Joe's built its reputation, in part, on Two Buck Chuck, a wine that sells for $1.99 a bottle in most places, but costs more on the East Coast. (The nearby wine shop is still being built and will open soon.)

Shoppers love the prices. "Daffodils, $1.49; I'm saving a buck," said Dr. Jacqueline Stevens, a physician who lives on the Upper East Side.

Of course, not everything at Trader Joe's is inexpensive. The organic free-range chicken costs $2.49 a pound, or $12.33 for a whole chicken. Walnut halves, for tossed salads, cost $5.29 a pound.

The Union Square store is the 253rd of a chain based in Monrovia, Calif., that has spread to 19 states. The original Trader Joe was Joe Coulombe, who started a chain of convenience stores called Pronto Markets in the Los Angeles area.

By the 1960's, he expanded the stores' offerings and emphasized in-store labels (more than 80 percent of its products are now Trader Joe-related brands) and health foods.

Mr. Coulombe, who sold the company, introduced a tiki-room theme, with employees wearing Hawaiian shirts and leis. The chain is now owned by the two billionaires who own the Aldi Group, a food conglomerate in Essen, Germany.

Doug Rauch, Trader Joe's president, said yesterday that the chain had long had its eye on the city. But it was hard to find a spot with high foot traffic that would also not charge ruinously high rent, Mr. Rauch said. Trader Joe's, however, found an agreeable landlord in New York University.

"We were able to work out a deal with N.Y.U. that made sense for them and made sense for us," Mr. Rauch said. "It's a deal that allows us to have the same prices here that we have everywhere else on the East Coast. We haven't raised our prices a nickel for Manhattan." Trader Joe's plans other stores soon in the city, if it can find equally agreeable landlords.

John Beckman, a spokesman for N.Y.U., said the university is charging market rent for Palladium Hall, where Trader Joe's 12,000-square-foot store is located. He declined to be more specific. But, he added, "We wanted to add luster to the Union Square neighborhood."

One thing worrying shoppers yesterday is where Trader Joe's could find friendly clerks in flinty Manhattan.

Jennifer Swanhart, 32, a Trader Joe's clerk, commutes for an hour from Brewster, N.Y., more than 45 miles away, to work in Union Square. Finding suitable Manhattan employees will not be hard, she said, because "there are nice people everywhere."

Frank Iacovello, a senior clerk, noted there is a store dress code. "Anybody who likes to wear a Hawaiian shirt is going to be cool," he said.

On John Rabe, China's own "good Nazi"

China Hails a Good Nazi and Makes Japan Take Notice
By HOWARD W. FRENCH

NANJING, China — From the outside it does not look like much: the shell of a two-story brick building with scaffolding running up its sides and, on a drizzly winter day, a pair of construction workers kicking around in a courtyard littered with building materials.

But 69 years ago the courtyard was filled with hundreds of Chinese seeking refuge from Japanese troops who were rampaging through the city, then China's capital. The invaders subjected Nanjing to a six-week reign of terror, killing large numbers of Chinese soldiers who had thrown down their weapons and murdering and raping thousands of civilians.

The property was the home of John Rabe, a Nazi Party member and employee of Siemens. In addition to sheltering people in his own compound, Mr. Rabe led a score of other foreigners in the city to form an international safety zone that shielded more than 200,000 Chinese from the Japanese.

Despite his heroism, Rabe was for decades all but forgotten here. Even the location of his house, today all but swallowed up by the sprawling campus of Nanjing University, was unknown.

But now, amid a political and intellectual cold war with Japan that revolves to a great extent around the history of China's conquest by its neighbor, this country is seizing on the memory of a man often called "the Good Nazi," and even China's Oskar Schindler.

Since the publication of Mr. Rabe's diary in 1997, his story has become a central theme in narratives of the Nanjing Massacre, much as the massacre story itself has become an important pillar in China's emerging new nationalism. In addition to the Rabe museum there is a new, minutely detailed 28-volume history of the massacre, and academics are rethinking the way the episode is taught in schools.

Why this sudden interest in an event that took place nearly 70 years ago? Historians cite two reasons: to refute Japanese denials and to encourage patriotism among Chinese youth.

"The Japanese right is becoming stronger and stronger, and they have denied causing the war in Asia," said Zhang Xianwen, the editor of the recently published history and director of the Center for the History of Republican China at Nanjing University. "We have decided to fight back and force Japan to admit its responsibility."

Yet seven decades after the event there is still serious academic dispute, even over something so fundamental as the death toll. Estimates range from a few tens of thousands to more than 300,000, the official Chinese number that is literally set in concrete above the entranceway to the expansive Nanjing Massacre memorial here.

China is by no means alone in this. In Japan, denial of the killings — once restricted to the far-right fringe — has entered the mainstream as the country's politics have shifted rightward. Today, in the face of the best evidence, many Japanese textbooks minimize the event, playing down suggestions of Japanese atrocities.

Experts say the fact that there were mass killings is beyond any reasonable dispute. "It was not until we toured the city that we learned the extent of the destruction," Mr. Rabe wrote on Dec. 13, 1937, just a day after Japan took control of the city. "The bodies of the civilians that I examined had bullet holes in their backs. These people had presumably been fleeing and were shot from behind."

His account is backed up by the few remaining survivors from his courtyard, like Mu Xifu and Li Shizhen, who fled there for shelter and married each other years later. "The Japanese were killing people and raping people," said Mr. Mu, who is 83. "You could see dead bodies in the river and all over the road."

But official records tend to be scarce or unreliable. During the war Japan rigorously counted its own dead but paid little attention to Chinese casualties. The defeated Japanese military also took care to burn its records in the city.

China's accounting of the incident has been consistently marred by politics.

During the war Nanjing was the capital of the Chinese Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, which mounted a brief investigation after the Japanese defeat in 1945. From the time of the Communist takeover in 1949 until the early 1980's, when disputes over Japanese textbooks first arose, Chinese experts say there was no serious study of the massacre.

More curious still, there is no record to show that Mao, who died in 1976, ever spoke publicly about it. Save for a brief mention in a 1960 middle school textbook, the Nanjing Massacre was not featured in Chinese textbooks until the early 1980's. As recently as the early 1990's, historians and others who wanted to organize conferences about the event were barred from doing so.

The decades of silence were owing in part to the government's unwillingness to recognize the resistance that China's Nationalist armies put up against the Japanese. Although recently the Nationalists' role has been acknowledged more, official histories of the war have always credited Mao's Communist armies with defeating Japan.

There was also a deep sense of humiliation surrounding the fall of the city, in which scarcely trained Chinese conscripts stripped off their uniforms and fled the invading Japanese. "It is a natural Chinese character to be ashamed to speak of being raped, about being massacred while hardly resisting," said Shao Tzuping, a founder of the Alliance in Memory of the Nanjing Massacre, a private association.

In recent decades, partly in response to Japan, Beijing has itself looked toward nationalism as a spur to unity and a way to quell social troubles, especially in light of Marxism's fading relevance. "It was in the last 20 years, with the Japanese denials, that we found it essential to intensify our propaganda, to make sure that our people remember this better," said Zhang Lianhong, a historian at Nanjing University.

Such efforts mirror those of Japan's new rightists, who say their aim is to bring an end to what they call a masochistic style of teaching history and make young people feel proud to be Japanese.

"Both the Japanese and the Chinese have clung to a sense of victimhood: the Chinese for what happened during the war, the Japanese for what happened after," said David Askew, a professor of law at Ritsumeikan University in Japan. "They are not so much interested in Nanjing as their country's place in the world."

On teaching Our National Anthem

Project Reteaches National Anthem
By MICHAEL WILSON

Correction Appended

PHOENIX, March 10 — Consider little Dean Nunley, 3 years old and warbling in a breathy, singsong voice at a "Star-Spangled Banner" singing contest at the Phoenix Zoo on Thursday: "Ooooh, say kin yooseeeeee?"

His treatment was touchingly intelligible before running into trouble at the ramparts and the perilous fight. He came back strong at the end, a feat of memorization and tune over comprehension. Dean, who had learned the song at hockey games, smiled at the applause and waddled off with his mother.

The problem, it has been suggested, is that little Dean is about as good as it gets in this country. The National Anthem Project, undertaken by a group of the nation's music teachers, says most Americans have largely forgotten the words to the national anthem and the story behind the song.

A Harris poll of 2,200 men and women conducted for the group found that 61 percent did not know all the words. For example, when asked what follows "whose broad stripes and bright stars," more people than not tended to mistakenly place phrases like "were so gallantly streaming" (34 percent) or "gave proof through the night" (19 percent).

The National Anthem Project is touring the country with a singular mission: to reteach a nation its anthem. The effort is much like the way the song first spread, state by state, though this time it has corporate sponsors, led by Jeep. The tour began in January in Florida, and Thursday's visit to the Phoenix Zoo was its 17th stop.

"Of all the millions and millions of songs that Americans are exposed to, the national anthem is our national anthem, the one piece that people should know how to sing," said David E. Circle, president of the National Association for Music Education, the teachers' group that came up with the idea.

And Cliff Siler, the tour manager, said: "This song is the spirit of America. We lost a lot of that at some point along the line."

As the girls from the choir of Cordova Middle School in Phoenix just learned, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814.

"Something about Fort McHenry," said Bianca Nevarez, a seventh grader. "It was actually a poem, but they made it into a song."

Bianca is correct: struck by the sight of the American flag amid the smoke and flames of a battle with the British on Sept. 13, 1814, Key dashed off a poem on the back of a letter. The first verse became widely known as the anthem, but there are three that follow. The poem, "Defence of Fort McHenry," was published in newspapers around the country.

(The later verses maintain the hopeful tone while examining the effects of all those rockets and bombs bursting in air. "Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution," Key wrote of the enemy, a line perhaps not ill suited for hockey games, but difficult to imagine teaching 3-year-olds. "No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.")

Another choir singer, Kassandra Rosas, 12, said: "It was a beer-drinking song. They made it into the national anthem."

Kassandra is correct: it is believed that a relative of Key got the idea to sing the words of the poem to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," an English song popular in taverns. In fact, the first known performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" took place in a bar the month after the battle, sung by a Baltimore actor, Ferdinand Durang. The song became the national anthem in 1931, having been performed at military and sporting events for many years.

There have been earnest attempts to drop the song as the anthem, and replace it with something more benign, like "America the Beautiful." A major problem with "The Star-Spangled Banner," experts say, is that it is all but unsingable.

Steven Blier, a vocal coach at the Juilliard School, rattled off four reasons: "It's rangy, it has that legato phrase on a high note, the climax ends on a high note with a bad vowel, and the word setting is bad at some crucial spots." The song's lowest note, at the word "say" in the first line, is an octave and a half below its highest notes, at "red glare" and "free" toward the end.

So, paradoxically, the song may arouse feelings of humiliation and embarrassment rather than pride. "It's an awkward song to ask untrained people to belt out," Mr. Blier said.

The song's pitfalls did not dampen the spirits at the Phoenix Zoo, where several children and adults took turns before a microphone in unseasonably warm weather. Lynda Holly, 56, a former lounge singer who is a train operator at the zoo, was among the first.

"It's always been my mom's dream," Ms. Holly said, quoting her: " 'If I ever had a last wish, it would be to have my daughter sing at a ballgame.' "

The tour manager, Mr. Siler, is a father of five in Fort Worth, a stuntman and performer at live-action shows for children. "This is the job of a lifetime for me," he said. "I love this song."

At each stop, the tour sets up tents with literature, games and musical instruments. Two young men from Flint, Mich., operate the 48-foot tractor-trailer that hauls everything to the next state.

"I was in school, and I needed a break from that," said one of them, Mike Kirkwood. Mr. Kirkwood hears more of the anthem than he would prefer — "It haunts me," he said — but what drew him out of Flint might have made Key proud.

"I just wanted to see the country," he said.

"Acquittal in Killing Unleashes Ire at India's Rich"

Acquittal in Killing Unleashes Ire at India's Rich
By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Correction Appended

NEW DELHI, March 12 — The crime itself was sensational. A fashion model was shot dead in an unlicensed bar stuffed full of fashionable people. The prime suspect was a member of the capital's brat pack and the son of an influential politician.

The verdict turned out to be even more lurid. Nearly seven years after the killing of Jessica Lall at the trendy Tamarind Court bar and the about-face of several celebrity witnesses on the stand, a Delhi court acquitted all nine defendants, including Manu Sharma, the one accused of being the gunman. The others were charged with aiding him.

The acquittal two weeks ago unleashed a rare outrage in this country, just as it raised uncomfortable questions about the uneven course of justice in a society evermore polarized between the well-heeled and the rest.

Most noticeably among India's urban middle class, the acquittal has released a pent-up frustration with an often blundering and corrupt law enforcement bureaucracy and a deep disgust with the rich and famous who, by all appearances, manipulated it to their advantage.

"The concept of justice has once again proved to be a silly bedtime story for the gullible," concluded an editorial in The Hindustan Times, an English-language daily.

For nearly two weeks, the Jessica Lall story has dominated Delhi's newspapers and magazines, providing both a window on the world of the privileged and a morality tale about the perils of Indian justice. The latest issue of the newsmagazine The Week blazed on its cover: "How the Rich Get Away with Murder!"

A 24-hour news channel, NDTV, stepped well beyond news gathering to start a campaign urging viewers to petition for a new trial; in a matter of days, more than 200,000 cellphone text messages had poured in.

Indians have flocked into the streets for marches and rallies, including a candlelight vigil at the capital's most famous monument, India Gate, that resembled a scene from a movie. That was because it was lifted from a scene from a recent Bollywood blockbuster called "Rang de Basanti," about a group of Indian college students rising up against an inept state bureaucracy.

The film featured a scene of a candlelight vigil at the same spot to protest the killing of an innocent young man.

"It's a deep, deep fear that it could happen to your children and the politicians are running amok," is how Malvika Singh, publisher of the monthly journal Seminar, characterized the fury over the Lall case. "It's a public outcry. The courts have failed us. Governance is nonexistent. The law-and-order situation even in the capital city has broken down. A point comes when the citizenry says enough."

The outcry seems to have achieved instant results. The police last week ordered an investigation into unidentified people who are said to have conspired to tamper with evidence. The police have not officially said they would seek a new trial, but the public pressure seems difficult to ignore.

"One never expected it," the victim's sister Sabrina Lall said in a recent interview. "It's been a great sense of support."

Ram Jethmalani, a lawyer who represented the prime suspect in a bail hearing, insisted that there were insufficient grounds for a retrial.

In a speech on Saturday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, without referring directly to the Lall case, said it was time to "reflect" on whether existing laws were sufficient or "whether we need new provisions in law so that the justice system is seen to deliver justice."

The facts of the case, as reported by the Indian news media, are these: Late one night in April 1999, Jessica Lall, 34, was working behind the bar well past closing time at the now-shuttered Tamarind Court restaurant when a customer, Manu Sharma, heir to a sugar mill fortune and son of a politician, demanded a drink.

Ms. Lall reportedly refused. Mr. Sharma was accused of shooting her at point-blank range. Or at least that is what witnesses initially told the police.

As it turned out, the restaurant was not licensed to serve liquor. The owner contended it was a private party. The bloody mess of the killing was quickly cleaned up, ridding the crime scene of crucial evidence. The weapon disappeared.

Mr. Sharma confessed to the police, then retracted his statement, which inexplicably had been taken without following legal procedures. Once in court, a stream of witnesses lifted straight off the gossip pages said they could no longer recall what had happened, or who had shot whom.

On Feb. 21, a Delhi High Court judge rendered his verdict, saying the evidence was insufficient to convict anyone.

On Tuesday, a pack of 150 college students poured onto Parliament Street, the hub of the capital, to protest. "Jessica, Jessica," they chanted, pumping their fists.

They held up their homemade placards. "Wake up from Ur Insane Slumber," read one, as though it were a cellphone text message. "We are in a country where you can get away if your dad is a politician," read another.

Many of the students said they were first-time protesters. Something about the acquittals hit home. But they took pains to point out that the protests were not just for Ms. Lall, but for all Indians who deserved a fair shake. "It could be happening to anyone," said Divya Prakash, 19. "We do identify with her."

Jumping on the Jessica bandwagon, a Brazilian cosmetics company, Surya, passed out "Justice for Jessica" temporary tattoos. The company, which recently entered the Indian market, also volunteered to run a "Justice for Jessica" Web site, a move that conveniently yielded the names and e-mail addresses of thousands of Indians who registered their support online.

The students, the news media and others were not alone in their unflattering impression of the justice system. The Supreme Court, ruling in an unrelated case last week, made clear that it, too, was aware of the exploitation of the courts. "Laws are like cobwebs," it said, "which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through."

If the Lall verdict outraged a nation, it also raised a certain discomfort. Why, in a country where cases of corrupt, inept, blundering justice have long been familiar, was everyone rallying together for this case?

In life and in death, this case shows, it still matters who you are. "If you take out a march like this for the common man, the media won't cover it," said Ravi Pathak, one of the organizers of the college students' march.

Next to the students stood another group of protesters, much larger but out of the focus of television cameras — farmers holding placards denouncing rural debt.

"The Jessica Lall narrative is essentially about The Beautiful People vs. The Beautiful People," wrote Vinod Mehta, editor of Outlook, in a stinging back-page essay. "After all, Jessica was horribly let down by The Beautiful People who turned tail."

That aspect, said Dipankar Gupta, a sociologist, was what had fueled the clamor among middle-class Indians — not simply rage against the killer, but also against those who protected the killer.

"I think the outrage was against the fashion types, the glossy types who went back on their testimony," Mr. Gupta said. "There's an extraordinary delight in setting them right."

Correction: March 14, 2006

An article yesterday about the uneven course of justice in India and the outrage provoked by the acquittal of defendants in a murder trial misidentified the monument in New Delhi where a candlelight protest vigil was held. It is the India Gate. (The Gateway of India is in Mumbai.)

On upstate wind farms

Upstate New York Farms Begin Raising New Crop: Electricity From Windmills
By ANTHONY DePALMA

LOWVILLE, N.Y. — William and Patricia Burke have lived in their white Colonial-style farmhouse on the edge of the Tug Hill plateau for 36 years. And for 35 of those years they have cursed the winter wind as it whistled through every crack and hole in the house.

But this season they welcome the sound of the wind, because it represents their newfound security.

The Burkes' old farmhouse is now surrounded by a forest of 120 huge windmills. Each one, called a wind turbine, is 320 feet tall, about the same height as Big Ben in London or the same length as the football field at Giants Stadium.

This new wind farm, called Maple Ridge, is already the largest alternative-energy project east of the Mississippi, and a second phase, which will include 75 more windmills, is scheduled to be built this year, starting in the spring.

Mr. Burke, 58, has pinned the security of his fifth-generation dairy farm on the seven turbines that he allowed to be built on his 600 acres last fall. Each one will generate an annual lease payment of $5,000 to $10,000, based in part on the electricity generated, that will allow the Burkes to stay on their land after they retire.

"For me, this project is an excellent exit strategy," Mr. Burke said. "Having the towers will allow us, when the time comes, to sell the cows, lease the land and keep the farm."

The towers can also be said to represent enhanced national security, because they are the kind of project that President Bush has promoted of late to help break the nation's addiction to oil.

The 120 windmills are spread out in a jagged 12-mile line through rural Lewis County, leeward of Lake Ontario. Powerful lake-effect winds can generate enough electricity to power about 500 homes from each turbine.

The turbines that have changed the Burkes' life have transformed the landscape and the economy of the county, an area where it seems most barns are as swaybacked as an old mare. Environmentalists say the windmills provide a glimpse of what the future of alternative energy could be in the Northeast.

These new-generation turbines are far larger and more powerful than any others in the region. The blades are 131 feet long, and although they seem to be rotating at a lazy Sunday afternoon clip, they are so large that their tips are actually racing around at 138 miles per hour.

When all 195 towers are operating at full capacity, they would generate a total of 320 megawatts of pollution-free electricity, the equivalent of a midsize power plant.

Maple Ridge is a symbol of the maturation of wind energy in New York from a demonstration project to a bona fide alternative to fossil fuel-based energy, and it has been accomplished with little help from the federal government.

"The president is now talking about ending our addiction to oil, but he's not following through with the national policies we would need to create a Marshall Plan for renewable energy," said Katherine Kennedy, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We're looking at states like New York to give us the projects that will change the energy picture from carbon to a much cleaner mix."

Maple Ridge also represents Wall Street's new interest in renewable energy. The company behind the project, Horizon Wind Energy, is owned by Goldman Sachs. The Maple Ridge Wind Farm resulted from a partnership between Horizon and PPM Energy of Portland, Ore.

"The firm is committed to committing capital to environmentally friendly technology and investments, and wind energy is certainly one of them," said Neil Auerbach, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, who is involved in the wind project. "But this investment is by no means propelled solely by these concerns. It was evaluated on its merits."

The company declined to discuss the actual costs of the project, but typically, each 1.65 megawatt turbine costs $2.3 million to $2.8 million to build. That would put the cost of the completed Maple Ridge project at somewhere between $450 million and $550 million. That sounds like a lot, but once the turbines are built, fuel costs are zero because the wind is free.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind is the fastest-growing electricity-generating technology in the world. Wind still accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation's electricity, but wind-generating capacity has tripled over the past five years.

Alec G. Dreyer, chief executive of Horizon, said New York was an ideal choice for the wind farm because the state has a growing energy market and an electricity grid that the company can easily hook up to.

Besides completing Maple Ridge this year, Horizon is working on projects in windy areas of Clinton and Wyoming Counties and elsewhere in the state. The projects could add 500 megawatts of electricity to the state's power grid.

The company said it was staying away from the most obvious wind source in New York, the Long Island shore, because it feared being caught in a battle with residents worried about the visual impact of the turbines.

New York has plenty of wind resources besides Long Island, Mr. Dreyer said, and it also has an open attitude toward alternative energy that welcomes investment. In 2003, Gov. George E. Pataki set a goal of having 25 percent of the state's energy come from alternative sources by 2013. A utilities surcharge was added to consumers' bills to help start the projects.

New Jersey has also taken a chance on wind. Five turbines, owned by Community Energy of Wayne, Pa., on the grounds of the Atlantic County Utility Authority's water treatment plant will generate 7.5 megawatts of electricity this year.

Another factor has made upstate New York a particularly good place to build wind farms: The wind turbines are widely seen as an economic bonanza.

The only other sizable enterprises in this region are a Kraft Foods plant, a bowling pin factory and dairy farms. But the growing season is short, and many longtime farm families have given up on their dairy operations. Only Amish farmers are moving in, and so far none of them have allowed wind turbines to be built on their farms.

But for many other local residents, the towers represent millions of dollars in payments in lieu of taxes to support the schools and local governments. And for property owners who have them, each turbine can represent a new pickup truck, or a child's college education.

"I know of one man who left each of his kids a windmill in his will," said Martin J. Beyer, a retired farmer who owns a motel and has two turbines on his land. He said a few local residents, mostly those who do not farm, objected to the turbines, saying they obstructed rural vistas.

But they were outnumbered. "Does anybody pay any attention to electric light poles on the side of the road?" Mr. Beyer asked, saying, "That's exactly what windmills are going to be like in a year."

On Irish-Americans and illegal immigration

An Irish Face on the Cause of Citizenship
By NINA BERNSTEIN

Rory Dolan's, a restaurant in Yonkers, was packed with hundreds of illegal Irish immigrants on that rainy Friday night in January when the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform called its first meeting. Niall O'Dowd, the chairman, soon had them cheering.

"You're not just some guy or some woman in the Bronx, you're part of a movement," Mr. O'Dowd told the crowd of construction workers, students and nannies. He was urging them to support a piece of Senate legislation that would let them work legally toward citizenship, rather than punishing them with prison time, as competing bills would.

For months, coalitions of Latino, Asian and African immigrants from 50 countries have been championing the same measure with scant attention, even from New York's Democratic senators. But the Irish struck out on their own six weeks ago, and as so often before in the history of American immigration policy, they have landed center stage.

Last week, when Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer declared their support for a new path to citizenship, and denounced criminal penalties recently passed by the House of Representatives, they did so not at the large, predominantly Hispanic immigrant march on Washington, but at the much smaller Irish rally held there the following day.

Some in the immigrant coalitions resent being passed over, and worry that the Irish are angling for a separate deal. Others welcome the clout and razzmatazz the Irish bring to a beleaguered cause. And both groups can point to an extraordinary Irish track record of lobbying triumphs, like the creation of thousands of special visas in the 1980's and 90's that one historian of immigration, Roger Daniels, calls "affirmative action for white Europeans."

Mainly, though, they marvel at the bipartisan muscle and positive spin the illegal Irish can still muster, even as their numbers dwindle to perhaps 25,000 to 50,000 across the country — those left behind by a tide of return migration to a now-prosperous Ireland.

This week, as the Senate Judiciary Committee wrestles with a comprehensive immigration bill, towns across the country are preparing to celebrate their Irish roots. On Friday, St. Patrick's Day, President Bush is to meet with Ireland's prime minister, Bertie Ahern, who has vowed to put the legalization of the Irish at the top of his agenda. And Irish Lobby volunteers are ready to leverage the attention, with "Legalize the Irish" T-shirts and pressure on senators like Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, who is in a tight race against Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat of Irish ancestry.

The new Irish dynamic is all the more striking because the Republican Party is fiercely split over immigration, and many Democrats have hung back from the fray, judging the issue too hot to handle in an election year.

"They're still good at the game," said Linda Dowling Almeida, who teaches the history of Irish immigration at New York University. She and other historians noted that in the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants used the clout of urban political machines and leadership by the Roman Catholic Church to beat back a nativist movement that saw them as a threat to national security and American culture.

More recently, Mr. O'Dowd, the publisher of The Irish Voice, was himself part of a lobby that leaned on legislators with Irish heritage to engineer more than 48,000 visas for the Irish, legalizing many who had re-greened old Celtic neighborhoods in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

But much has changed. After 9/11, a groundswell of anger over illegal immigration converged with national security concerns, propelling a populist revolt across party lines. Immigration is now seen as a no-win issue in electoral politics. And both opponents and supporters of legalization take a more jaundiced view of the Irish role in the debate.

"They're essentially saying, 'Look, we're good European illegal immigrants,' " said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports the House and Senate measures that would turn "unlawful presence," now a civil violation, into a crime. "The reason they've been more successful is the same reason it appeals to editors — immigration nostalgia from 150 years ago."

He added: "Can they be bought off by a special program for a handful of remaining illegals? I'm not saying it's a good idea, but you just start talking about the old sod and singing 'Danny Boy,' and of course it's possible."

A special measure for the Irish would be hard to pass today, countered Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the New York office of Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that has generally supported immigrant amnesties. In earlier campaigns, he recalled, an Irish lobby worked with other immigrant groups, and all won pieces of their agenda.

"It was extremely important for the optics on Capitol Hill," Mr. Chishti said. "The Irish were also very savvy about it at that time. They knew that they would get some special Irish treatment, but they also wanted to make it look like they were part of the immigrant coalition."

Today, the lobby's most crucial role, he said, may be changing the political calculus of Democrats who have shunned the immigration issue as a no-win choice between responding to Latinos and looking tough on immigration. Many Irish-Americans are swing voters, he said, and "it becomes sort of a tipping point for the Democratic Party."

For now, Mr. O'Dowd said, the Irish Lobby's focus is entirely on supporting the McCain-Kennedy bill, which would allow illegal immigrants who qualify to pay a $2,000 fine and work toward citizenship. But if no such measure emerges from Congress, he added, the Irish Lobby will push for any special arrangement it can get — "as will every other ethnic group in the country."

Special visas for the Irish "would be brilliant," said Valery O'Donnell, a house cleaner and single mother of 7-year-old twins who was at the Rory Dolan's meeting, and said she had lived in New York illegally for 13 years. "There's no harm in us. We're all out here to work hard."

But several immigrant advocates in New York said that even the hint of special treatment for the Irish would inflame the hurt feelings that began in February when Senator Schumer first spoke out on immigration at an Irish Lobby event in Woodside, Queens, after declining invitations by veteran immigrant organizations more representative of an estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants in the state. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 78 percent of the nation's nearly 12 million illegal immigrants are from Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America.

Spokesmen for the two senators said that their appearances had been determined only by what fit their schedules, and that their support for immigrants was not meant for a specific group.

Some immigrant leaders were not convinced. Juan Carlos Ruiz, the coordinator of the predominantly Hispanic rally of 40,000 held March 7 on Capitol Hill, said that only one senator had shown up there, without speaking: Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. The next day, Mr. Ruiz said, when he and his 14-year-old son stopped by the Irish gathering of about 2,400 and realized that the speakers included Senators Edward M. Kennedy, John McCain, as well as Senators Clinton and Schumer, his son asked, "Why didn't the senators come to our rally?"

"I was heartbroken," Mr. Ruiz said. "I needed to explain to him: 'The immigrants of color, for these senators we are not important enough for them to make a space in their calendar.' "

He added: "The Irish are not at fault. They are suffering the same troubles that we are. But it is discrimination."

Monami Maulik, a leader in another coalition, Immigrant Communities in Action, echoed his sentiment. "For a lot of us, this is a current civil rights struggle," she said.

But when the phrase was repeated to Mr. O'Dowd, he countered: "It's not about that at all. It's about how you change the law." For years, he added, he has lobbied to win nearly lost causes, including helping to broker a ceasefire in Northern Ireland. "It's not about being fair, it's about being good," he said. "It's about getting it done."

Separate and Unequal for Gypsies

Separate and Unequal for Gypsies

For all the difficulties Muslim immigrants face, Europe's most-abused group is still, by far, the Gypsies. They are compelled to live in slums, shunted off to inferior schools and denied jobs. They are subjected to pogroms, forced sterilization and police abuse.

The view that Gypsies, also known as Roma, are capable of only playing the violin and picking pockets is widely and deeply held, especially in Eastern Europe. Many there still believe the Communist humbug that says discrimination is found in America and South Africa, not in Europe.

Sadly, the European Court of Human Rights has just backed one of the worst forms of discrimination: the nearly automatic placement of Gypsy children in dead-end schools for the mentally handicapped. The case was brought by families of 18 Czech Gypsy children, but according to the European Roma Rights Center, based in Budapest, similar discrimination exists throughout Eastern Europe. The Czech government estimates that 75 percent of Gypsy children go to these schools, and that 90 percent of the children in Czech remedial schools are Gypsies.

The court's majority, made up largely of Eastern Europeans, acknowledged the problem but found no proof that bigotry was the cause. The president of the panel, a Frenchman, voted with the majority but recommended that the case go to the court's appeals body.

Decades ago, America painfully learned that government policies and social attitudes could keep an underclass down, and that discrimination might exist even though laws seemed fair. Europe has not yet absorbed these ideas. The Court of Human Rights has long been reluctant to prohibit biased practices without proof of intent to discriminate, allowing discrimination to hide behind another name. The court should seize the opportunity to modernize and reverse a decision that has anchored European race relations today well behind where America was in 1954.

On a Muslim part of China

Deep in China, a Poor and Pious Muslim Enclave
By JIM YARDLEY

DONGXIANG, China — No, the old man answered, standing in his bare home deep in a mountain ravine, he had never seen an airplane. The man, Tie Yongxiang, has never watched television, either. He listened to the pop quiz and seemed pleased when he could answer the last question in the affirmative.

China? Had he ever heard of it?

"I know what China is," said Mr. Tie, 68. "It is a country run by people who are supposed to be helping us."

"Us," as Mr. Tie puts it, are the Dongxiang people, an ethnic group that has lived for eight centuries in the dry, forbidding mountains that make this county in Gansu Province one of the most isolated places in China.

The most recent census found 513,000 Dongxiang people in China, and an overwhelming majority live in and around Dongxiang County. Of the 25 townships in the county, 19 do not have a single Chinese person. Most people do not speak Chinese, and some, like Mr. Tie, have only a vague notion of China, despite living in the middle of it.

The geographic isolation has helped preserve an Islamic culture, as well as an ancient language, but it has also separated the Dongxiang people from the prosperity lifting other parts of China. The Dongxiang, one of China's 56 officially recognized ethnic minorities, are now among China's poorest and most illiterate people.

On a recent Friday, two days after a heavy snowstorm had coated the mountains and left a sheet of ice on the narrow village roads, old men in white caps trudged through the snow to different mosques. Though some are too poor to send their children to school, they have pooled money to build village mosques as well as graceful towers with elegant curved roofs that serve as Muslim burial vaults.

"The Dongxiang people have always believed in Islam," said Ma Ali, 36, the imam at an old mosque in the village of Hanzilin. Indeed, even within a larger region known as the center of Islam in China, the people of Dongxiang have a reputation for being particularly steadfast in their faith.

"People were devout in the past," said Ma Kui, 75, as he leaned on a wooden cane and waited for afternoon prayers with other farmers dressed in lambskin coats. "They are still devout now."

But as everywhere in China, modernity is seeping up the winding roads to the county's larger settlements and beckoning many younger people. In the county seat, Suonanba, cellphones, blue jeans and Internet cafes arrived several years ago. So did Chinese building contractors, cigarettes, alcohol and food not prepared to Islamic code.

"The Islamic atmosphere has become watered down over time, and the older people are aware of that," said Ma Chunling, who is 22. "So they want to protect their culture, and particularly Islam."

Growing up, Ms. Ma (the family name is quite common here) felt the otherness of being from Dongxiang. Her mother told stories of hiding in caves during her own childhood, fearful that "the Chinese" were coming.

"All of the people in the village were waiting for the Chinese to come and slaughter them," Ms. Ma said. "But the Chinese never came."

Ms. Ma, now a primary school teacher, spent three years at a vocational school in the eastern port city of Tianjin and wanted to stay and become a hairdresser. But she said her parents were conservative Muslims who believed it was inappropriate for an unmarried woman to travel far from home.

"A lot of young people really want to go out and see the rest of China," she said. "But often their families don't let them. It's still very, very isolated."

For years, many Chinese scholars assumed that the Dongxiang descended from the Mongol soldiers in Genghis Khan's army who eventually settled in Gansu during the 13th century when the Mongols ruled China under the Yuan Dynasty. But their exact origins were never fully known, an uncertainty that fed an inferiority complex.

"A man once asked me, 'Where do the Dongxiang come from?' " said Ma Zhiyong, a historian who grew up in the county but moved to the provincial capital, Lanzhou, as a teenager. "I was 18 or 19, and couldn't answer the question. I was ashamed."

Mr. Ma decided to look for an answer. Over several years, he scoured research libraries in Gansu, talked to other scholars and studied old maps. He found that some Dongxiang villages shared names with places in Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan.

He also found shared customs. He said peasants in Uzbekistan and Dongxiang both learn to cut a slaughtered chicken into 13 pieces. He found that Dongxiang people described themselves as sarta, a term that once referred to Muslim traders in Central Asia.

There was even a physical similarity, as many Dongxiang look more like people from Central Asia, as opposed to Han Chinese.

Mr. Ma decided that the story about Genghis Khan's army was only half right. Some of the Dongxiang ancestors were Mongol soldiers. But he concluded that many others were a diverse group of Middle Eastern and Central Asian craftsmen conscripted into the Mongol army during Khan's famed western campaign. They brought several languages and, in many cases, a strong belief in Islam.

Mr. Ma said that generations of intermarriage, including marriages with local Han Chinese and Tibetans, resulted in a new ethnic group and language.

The language, if a source of pride, is also blamed for Dongxiang's educational shortcomings. The language is oral, so children never learn to read or write in their native tongue.

In grammar school, the curriculum is in Chinese and many students drop out. Government statistics show that the average person in Dongxiang has only 1.1 years of schooling. Because of the cost, many families never even send children to school, particularly daughters.

"When I was in primary school, I didn't understand what I was learning," said Chen Yuanlong, a local official and scholar. "Often, I wanted to talk to the teacher, but I couldn't communicate my ideas in Chinese. It was very difficult."

The challenge of trying to teach Chinese to Dongxiang children has attracted international aid groups to Dongxiang. The British government is financing a large training program for teachers.

Another pilot program, paid for by the Ford Foundation, has created a bilingual curriculum using a Dongxiang-Chinese dictionary developed by Mr. Chen and other scholars. That program has already produced an improvement in test scores, but its supporters are searching for more financial backing.

Education is a basic problem but many people still struggle just to survive. Villages in the deepest ravines depend on potatoes and face starvation during drought years.

Some men who live closer to roads and commerce have become mules for drug runners. Others have left for manual labor in bigger cities, demolishing buildings or working as butchers or dishwashers.

Mr. Tie, the man who took the pop quiz, is too old for such work. He lives halfway down a ravine with his wife and their 16-year-old mentally retarded son. "We beg," Mr. Tie said. "We have land but when our crops aren't enough, we go to nearby villages to beg."

Farther up the ravine, closer to the road that leads to the county seat, Ma Hezhe, 25, watched over her 3-month-old son. Her family is like a snapshot of Dongxiang: two of her husband's brothers had left the county to work as migrant laborers; her mother-in-law, huddled in the corner of the communal bed, had not left Dongxiang in her entire life. The tiny baby, the newest generation, had been given an Islamic name, Ibrahim.

Ms. Ma had not yet given him a Chinese name. "He doesn't need one until he starts school," she said. It was a local custom, she added, to wait until a child came "into contact" with Chinese society.

There would be plenty of time.

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