Friday, July 09, 2010

BAUAW NEWSLETTER - FRDAY, JULY 9, 2010

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HE WAS MURDERED!
HE WAS MURDERED!
HE WAS MURDERED!
HE WAS MURDERED!

RIP Oscar!

MARCH TODAY FOR JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT
Victory for movement, but justice still needs to be won

Calling on all supporters of justice for Oscar Grant and opponents of racist police brutality:

The jury verdict is not justice for Oscar Grant - it is up to the new movement to use its power to win real justice. THIS IS THE TIME TO ACT.

DEMAND:

The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

Jail Officers Pirone and Domenici, the two police who were accomplices to murder.

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

Provide massive funding to Oakland for education and jobs for Oakland's black, Latina/o, Asian, and poor and working-class white youth.

Stop police/ICE racial profiling of Latina/o, black, Asian, and other minority youth with and without papers.

Furthermore, we call on Oakland Mayor Dellums and other governmental authorities in Oakland to declare that this verdict does not render justice to Oscar Grant and to act on the demands of the movement.

If you haven't already done so yet, join the JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT ACTION PAGE on Facebook at: http://www.causes.com/causes/188135

BAMN STATEMENT:

Oscar Grant Verdict Is Victory for the Movement,
But Justice for Oscar Grant Still Needs to Be Won

Today's [THURSDAY, JULY 8, 2010] conviction of Johannes Mehserle is a victory for the movement. Despite all the foot-dragging and machinations of the police, the justice system, the government, and the politicians, the movement secured the first conviction of a California police officer for the killing of a black man. This victory is important and provides some greater protection for black and Latina/o youth. However, this verdict does NOT constitute justice for Oscar Grant.

Tens of millions of people around the world saw the videotape and know that Oscar Grant was murdered in cold blood by Johannes Mehserle. And yet, because of the failure of the prosecutor's office to fight the change in venue, and because of the pro-police bias of the judge, the jury was deprived of even being able to consider convicting Mehserle of first-degree murder. The Los Angeles county jury which heard that case did not include a single black juror.

BAMN salutes the new civil rights movement for this victory. However, achieving justice for Oscar Grant requires that the movement continue to build and grow in determination, drawing in millions more black, Latina/o and other youth.

BAMN also salutes Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant's mother, for refusing to accept a civil settlement and for fighting to achieve justice for her son. We pledge to Wanda Johnson, Oscar's daughter Tatiana, her mother, and all family and friends that we will not rest until we achieve justice for Oscar.

We call on the movement to maintain the fight for justice for Oscar Grant by raising and fighting to win the following demands:

The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

Jail Officers Pirone and Domenici, the two police who were accomplices to murder.

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

Provide massive funding to Oakland for education and jobs for Oakland's black, Latina/o, Asian, and poor and working-class white youth.

Stop police/ICE racial profiling of Latina/o, black, Asian, and other minority youth with and without papers.

Furthermore, we call on Oakland Mayor Dellums and other governmental authorities in Oakland to declare that this verdict does not render justice to Oscar Grant and to act on the demands of the movement.

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)

(510) 502-9072 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (510) 502-9072 end_of_the_skype_highlighting letters@bamn.com BAMN.com
--
Ronald Cruz
BAMN Organizer, www.BAMN.com
& Civil Rights Attorney

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VIDEOS:

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BP Makes Me Sick
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m5MeqlETpY

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Tar ball clean up in Cocoa Beach -- East Coast of Central Florida
http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/brevard_news/070710-Cocoa-Beach-tar-balls

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Tar ball clean up in Cocoa Beach
Oil/Water samples from Gulf...VERY TOXIC
http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2010/07/08/independent-water-samples-of-the-bp-gulf-oil-spill-contradict-epa-samples-and-found-to-be-highly-toxic/

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YouTube - Obama admin bans press from filming BP oil spill areas in the Gulf
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpJBsjKhRTo&feature=player_embedded#!

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Police State Canada
http://tv.globalresearch.ca/content/police-state-canada

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BP Death Clouds Already Onshore! Benzene-3400ppb Hyrdrogen Sulfide-1200ppb TOXIC AIR ALERT.flv
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dngpCYgKxZ0

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Kid with oil stuck on her! Destin Beach, Fl. June 23rd, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QwsCHd7Lcg&feature=player_embedded#

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Is it raining oil
in Metro New Orleans?
River Ridge, LA
Just south of the airport
[The question mark isn't appropriate in this title. The video clearly shows that it's raining oil in River Ridge--no question about it...bw]
http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/874.html

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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. SPECIAL APPEALS, VIDEOS AND ONGOING CAMPAIGNS
C. ARTICLES IN FULL

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A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS

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BAMN -- Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Intergration and Immigrant Rights And Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary -- E-MAIL - 06/27/2010
_
Closing Arguments in the Trial of Ex-BART Officer Mehserle for the Murder of Oscar Grant Expected Early This Week

Depending on how much the jury deliberates --- there could be a decision as early as this week! The call for a mass demonstration on the day of the verdict has gone out. Join BAMN and other community groups, organizations, and civil rights activists in downtown Oakland at 6:00pm on the day of the decision.

Mass Community Gathering in Downtown Oakland
On the Day of the Mehserle Verdict
** 6:00 pm ** 14th St. and Broadway **

For updates, as well as a recap of the trial and links to news coverage:
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/06/10/18650423.php
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53482409244&v=wall&ref=ts
http://apps.facebook.com/causes/188135

Contact BAMN at 510-502-9072 for more info

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights,
and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)
(313) 438-3748 www.bamn.com myspace.com/nationalbamn letters@bamn.com

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JOIN US to Support Lynne Stewart

Save these Dates !!!!

July 8, 2010 - 6pm - 10pm
Voicing Suport for Lynne will be:
Ramsey Clark
Ward Churchill
Fred Hampton Jr.
Ralph Schoenman
and many more !!!!!!!
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square So.
NY, NY 10012
http://www.judson.org/
This is a fundraiser, suggested donation is $20.00

July 14, 2010
5:30pm March from Tom Paine Park (Worth St. between Centre & Lafayette Streets) three blocks to Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC- where Lynne is detained)
7-9pm Vigil in Support of Lynne at Metropolitan Correctional Center 150 Park Row, NY NY

July 15, 2010 : SENTENCING DAY
Sentencing is at 2:30pm, we will be there at 11am
Federal Courthouse
500 Pearl Street
NY, NY
Doors will open at 2pm
LET'S PACK THE COURT!!!

And check out this article (link) too!
http://www.baltimorechronicle.com/2010/062210Lendman.shtml

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We are 50,000 strong!
We are Hotel Workers Rising!

BIG HISTORIC
MARCH AND RALLY
JULY 22, Thursday, 4:00pm
Local 2 Plaza, San Francisco
(Market and 4th Streets, next to Four Seasons Hotel)

On July 22, UNITE HERE! Local 2 and our supporters will join locals from 13 cities nationwide and in Canada in a historic coordinated protest to fight for dignity and respect for nearly 50,000 hotel workers. Some are engaged in contract campaigns and others are organizing non-union hotels.

We are at a crucial moment in our struggle against big greedy multi-national hotel corporations, and standing together with our locals across the country and Canada will bring us victory. Like the wealthy Pritzker family who run Hyatt, these corporations are taking unfair advantage, but we shall not be moved! Join us in this historic rally!

www.hotelworkersrising.org

SIGN THE HOTEL BOYCOTT PLEDGE!
https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dE9US3YwVmZyZFpLcVFUOFozWk4tZEE6MA

Click here for details and figures showing why these corporations have no excuse not to provide hotel workers affordable quality health care:
https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0BzaUbolMBN98NTZmZGU3MGUtM2NjMy00ZjgxLWFjYzgtYTcyOTRmZTA1NDgy&hl=en

UNITE HERE! Local 2 - Hotel Workers Struggle for a Contract in San Francisco:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVOzfbb08_0

Check our Websites:
www.unitehere2.org
www.unitehere.org

We are always on the look out for committed volunteers to drive the hotel boycotts and reach out to the community. Let us learn together, and fight together. Join Local 2's awesome Boycott Team.
For volunteer opportunities, please contact:
Powell DeGange, pdegange@unitehere.org
415-864-8770 ext. 759

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United National
Peace Conference
July 23 - 25, 2010, Albany, NY
Unac2010@aol.com or UNAC at P.O. Box 21675, Cleveland, OH 44121
518-227-6947 www.nationalpeaceconference.org

Call to Action!
United National Antiwar Conference (UNAC)
Join us in Albany, New York!
July 23-25, 2010

The National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now will take place against the backdrop of major developments in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Our planet is aflame with unending wars, threats of new wars and horrendous sanctions against Iran, atrocious attacks on innocent Freedom Flotillas bringing humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Palestinians of Gaza, and with an unprecedented corporate-driven environmental catastrophe.

With U.S. acquiescence, a humanitarian flotilla in international waters, carrying 10,000 tons of food, medical, construction and educational supplies and toys for children, has been brutally attacked by the Israeli military - nine killed and six others missing and/or presumed dead. The 750 peace activists aboard, including NGO members, pacifists, journalists, and members of the European Parliament, were kidnapped, then arrested - their cargo seized. As we write, Iranian and Turkish ships, also loaded with humanitarian supplies, have announced plans to head for beleaguered Gaza to challenge the illegal blockade and Israeli siege. Will the Israeli government once again attack with deadly force bringing the world closer to yet another war?

We are witness to seven years of war against Iraq, a war whose every pretext has been discredited and whose people demand U.S. withdrawal. War for oil, occupation and plunder does not sit well with Iraqis who have suffered 1.4 million dead. "Phased withdrawal" is designed to assuage the U.S. public, and Iraqi majority opposition notwithstanding, there is no end in sight.

Meanwhile, 60,000 barrels of oil daily for the past two months, barely impeded, pour into the Gulf of Mexico, wreaking death, destruction and massive loss of income in adjacent states and north to the Atlantic and beyond. Corporate greed and the absence of a semblance of serious government regulation threaten long-term destruction of the ocean's ecosystem. British Petroleum, the Transocean corporation, and subcontractor Halliburton Industries demonstrate once again that oil profits, whether in the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Mexico, trump human life and indeed life on earth in all forms. The insatiable drive for "black gold," the very resource that with continued use threatens all life, has brought us to the brink of what Mother Earth and its inhabitants can endure.

At the same time, our movement has registered some impressive gains while the government is registering important setbacks.

• Public opposition to the Afghanistan War is on the rise!
• The "victory" in Marja has proven ephemeral!
• The economic and political crises have awakened millions to the government's twisted priorities!
• Congressional debates reflect doubts about the war's objectives and costs!
• 24 Guantanamo torture protesters have been acquitted!

History demonstrates time and again that united, democratic and principled mass movements open the door to fundamental social change. That is the lesson of the fight against the Vietnam War, the broad civil rights movements, the struggles for equal rights for women and gays, and labor's struggle to unionize and advance the well-being of tens of millions.

And that's why the Albany conference is so timely. One hundred and twenty-five plenary and workshop speakers are scheduled! They include national and international leaders in the fight against war and for social justice. Twenty-nine national organizations are equal co-sponsors. (See nationalpeaceconference.org). For the first time in many years, a broad and diverse range of U.S. antiwar forces will be in the same room. Joined by social activists across the country and from around the world, they will lay plans to mobilize the American people to Bring the Troops and War Dollars Home Now! and to Fund Human Needs Not War!

The time to act is now! All antiwar and social justice activists welcome! One person one vote! See Draft Action Program online. Related amendments and resolutions are welcome.

The need now is to find common ground in the fight for life itself. The crisis-ridden system cries out for a challenge the world over. Let us be among the first to chart a winning course for the U.S. and for all humanity.

We say, "Massive funds for jobs, education, housing, pensions, the environment and health care! Bring the Troops, Mercenaries, War Profiteers and War Dollars Home Now! Close the 860 Military Bases! Bail Out the People, Not the Banks!"

United we can change the world!

JOIN US IN ALBANY, NEW YORK, JULY 23-25, 2010!

For more information: www.nationalpeaceconference.org or call 518-227-6947. A registration form is attached. Brochures announcing the conference can be ordered by writing UNAC2010@aol.com

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Education 4 the People!
October 7 Day of Action in Defense of Public Education - California

http://defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com/

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

http://defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com/

Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference at SFSU on OCT 16th
Posted on May 24, 2010 by ooofireballooo
Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference
@ San Francisco State University on October 16th

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Proposal: Form a conference organizing listserve immediately!

Please join the google group today.

* Group home page: http://groups.google.com/group/fallconferencesfsu

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NOVEMBER 2010 - CONVERGE ON FORT BENNING, GEORGIA
November 18-21, 2010: Close the SOA and take a stand for justice in the Americas.

The November Vigil to Close the School of the Americas at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia will be held from November 18-21, 2010. The annual vigil is always held close to the anniversary of the 1989 murders of Celina Ramos, her mother Elba and six Jesuit priests at a the University of Central America in El Salvador.

ORGANIZE YOUR COMMUNITY FOR THE 2010 VIGIL!

November 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of the vigil that brings together religious communities, students, teachers, veterans, community organizers, musicians, puppetistas and many others. New layers of activists are joining the movement to close the SOA in large numbers, including numerous youth and students from multinational, working-class communities. The movement is strong thanks to the committed work of thousands of organizers and volunteers around the country. They raise funds, spread the word through posters and flyers, organize buses and other transportation to Georgia, and carry out all the work that is needed to make the November vigil a success. Together, we are strong!

VIGIL AND RALLY AT THE GATES, NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION, TEACH-IN, CONCERTS, WORKSHOPS AND A ANTI-MILITARIZATION ORGANIZERS CONFERENCE

There will be exciting additions to this year's vigil program. Besides the rally at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia with inspiring speakers and amazing musicians from across the Americas, the four day convergence will also include an educational teach-in at the Columbus Convention Center, several evening concerts, workshops and for the first time, the Latin America Solidarity Coalition will stage a one-day Anti-Militarization Organizers Conference on Thursday, November 18, 2010.

SHUT DOWN THE SOA AND RESIST U.S. MILITARIZATION IN THE AMERICAS

Our work has unfortunately not gotten any easier and U.S. militarization in Latin America is accelerating. The SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras, the continuing repression against the Honduran pro-democracy resistance and the expansion of U.S. military bases in Colombia and Panama are grim examples of the ongoing threats of a U.S. foreign policy that is relying on the military to exert control over the people and the resources in the Americas. Join the people who are struggling for justice in Honduras, Colombia and throughout the Americas as we organize to push back.

Spread the word - Tell a friend about the November Vigil:
http://www.SOAW.org/tellafriend

For more information, visit:
www.SOAW.org.

See you at the gates of Fort Benning in November 2010

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B. SPECIAL APPEALS, VIDEOS AND ONGOING CAMPAIGNS

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G20 Police Accused of Rape Threats, Strip-Searches
29 June 2010
http://readersupportednews.org/video/4-video/2323-g20-toronto-police-rape-threats-women-strip-searched

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I Read Some Marx (And I Liked It)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyqJ9wxZ9L0

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BP Slick Covers Dolphins and Whales.mov
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxDf-KkMCKQ

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Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10
http://www.youandifilms.com/2010/06/licence-to-spill-full-report/

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SOME GOOD NEWS FOR TROY ANTHONY DAVIS - INNOCENT MAN ON DEATH ROW:
http://www.troyanthonydavis.org/call-to-action.html

Georgia: Witnesses in Murder Case Recant
By SHAILA DEWAN
June 23, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/us/24brfs-WITNESSESINM_BRF.html?ref=us

In an unusual hearing ordered by the Supreme Court that began in Savannah on Wednesday, several witnesses said they had concocted testimony that Troy Anthony Davis killed a police officer, Mark MacPhail, in 1989. Last August, the Supreme Court ordered a federal district court to determine if new evidence "clearly establishes" Mr. Davis's innocence, its first order in an "actual innocence" petition from a state prisoner in nearly 50 years, according to Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented. Seven of the witnesses who testified against Mr. Davis at his trial have recanted, and some have implicated the chief informer in the case. Mr. Davis's execution has been stayed three times.
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Troy Davis Hearing Week of Action Schedule of Activities Hour of Prayer:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 12 noon Call Number: (712) 432-1000 Access Code: 481005918# Join NAACP leaders for an hour of prayer. Community Mass Meeting - Tuesday, June 22 at 6:30pm New Life Apostolic Temple, 2120 West Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31415 Join National leaders of Amnesty International, Larry Cox, the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, Martina Correia (sister of Troy Davis), death row exonerees and other dynamic leaders. Wednesday & Thursday, June 23 & 24 Wright Square Vigil for Restorative Justice, 9am - 5pm Show your support by joining with others in Wright Square, across from the courthouse during the hearing. Drop by all day, or at the beginning, middle or end for prayer and meditation, opportunity for artistic expression, learning about restorative justice, stories from former death row prisoners who were innocent and exonerated, and more information about human rights. Evidentiary Hearing - Wednesday, June 23 at 10am Tomochichi Federal Courthouse (125 Bull St. in Savannah) Open to the public on a first come-first served basis. Please follow the courthouse rules and dress formally. Note: the hearing could last one or more days. During your weekly prayer and Bible study, please keep the Davis and MacPhail families in your prayers. JOIN US ON THE EVE OF HIS HISTORIC HEARING TO PRAY THAT JUSTICE IS FINALLY SERVED
For more info: www.iamtroy.com | www.justicefortroy.org | troy@aiusa.org Savannah Branch NAACP: 912-233-4161

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Two Pensacola Beach Scenes: Dying Baby Dolphin and Ocean "Water Bubbling "...Like It's Got Acid In It. God Help Us All"
opednews.com
For OpEdNews: theWeb - Writer
Two scenes from Pensacola--one of a dying baby dolphin, the other of water bubbling like there's acid in it.
A dying, oil-covered baby dolphin is taken from Pensacola waters. It died shortly after being discovered.
http://www.youtube.com/user/pcolagregg
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Video-Pensacola-Ocean-Wa-by-the-web-100624-933.html

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THE SHORT FILM BP DOESN'T WANT YOU TO SEE ABOUT WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING TO THE PEOPLE IN THE GULF
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRl6-o8CpXA

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ROV films oil leak coming from rock cracks on seafloor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2RxIQP0IBU

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Oil Spill Threatens Native American "Water" Village
The town of Grand Bayou, Louisiana, has no streets and no cars, just water and boats. And now the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens the very existence of the Atakapa-Ishak Indians who live there. "We're facing the potential for cultural genocide," says one tribe member.
(c) 2010 National Geographic; videographer and field producer: Fritz Faerber
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/06/100608-us-oil-gulf-indians-video/

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Mumia Abu-Jamal - Legal Update
June 9, 2010
Robert R. Bryan, Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117
www.MumiaLegalDefense.org

Dear All:

There are significant developments on various fronts in the coordinated legal campaign to save & free Mumia Abu-Jamal. The complex court proceedings are moving forward at a fast pace. Mumia's life is on the line.

Court Developments: We are engaged in pivotal litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia. At stake is whether Mumia will be executed or granted a new jury trial on the question of the death penalty. Two years ago we won on that issue, with the federal court finding that the trial judge misled the jury thereby rendering the proceedings constitutionally unfair. Then in January 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that ruling based upon its decision in another case, & ordered that the case be again reviewed by the Court of Appeals.

The prosecution continues its obsession to kill my client, regardless of the truth as to what happened at the time of the 1981 police shooting. Its opening brief was filed April 26. Our initial brief will be submitted on July 28. At issue is the death penalty.

In separate litigation, we are awaiting a decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on prosecutorial abuses, having completed all briefing in April. The focus is on ballistics.

Petition for President Barack Obama: It is crucial for people to sign the petition for President Barack Obama, Mumia Abu-Jamal & the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty, which was initially in 10 languages (Swahili & Turkish have since been added). This is the only petition approved by Mumia & me, & is a vital part of the legal effort to save his life. Please sign the petition & circulate its link:

www.MumiaLegalDefense.org

Nearly 22,000 people from around the globe have signed. These include: Bishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa (Nobel Peace Prize); Günter Grass, Germany (Nobel Prize in Literature); Danielle Mitterrand, Paris (former First Lady of France); Fatima Bhutto, Pakistan (writer); Colin Firth (Academy Award Best-Actor nominee), Noam Chomsky, MIT (philosopher & author); Ed Asner (actor); Mike Farrell (actor); & Michael Radford (director of the Oscar winning film Il Postino); Robert Meeropol (son of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953); Fatima Bhutto, Pakistan (writer); Noam Chomsky, MIT (philosopher & author); Ed Asner (actor); Mike Farrell (actor); Michael Radford (director of the Oscar winning film Il Postino); members of the European Parliament; members of the German Bundestag; European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights; Reporters Without Borders, Paris.

European Parliament; Rosa Luxemburg Conference; World Congress Against the Death Penalty; Geneva Human Rights Film Festival: We began the year with a major address to the annual Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin, Germany, sponsored by the newspaper junge Welt. The large auditorium was filled with a standing-room audience. Mumia joined me by telephone. We announced the launching of the online petition, Mumia Abu-Jamal & the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty.

A large audience on the concluding night of the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland, February 25, heard Mumia by telephone. He spoke as a symbolic representative of the over 20,000 men, women & children on death rows around the world. The call came as a surprise, since we thought it had been canceled. Mumia's comments from inside his death-row cell brought to reality the horror of daily life in which death is a common denominator. During an earlier panel discussion I spoke of racism in capital cases around the globe with the case of Mumia as a prime example. A day before the Congress on February 23, I talked at the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival on the power of films in fighting the death penalty & saving Mumia.

On March 2 in the European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, members Søren Søndergaard (Denmark) & Sabine Lösing (Germany) announced the beginning of a campaign to save Mumia & end executions. They were joined by Sabine Kebir, the noted German author & PEN member, Nicole Bryan, & me. We discussed the online petition which helps not only Mumia, but all the condemned around the globe.

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense & Online Petition: The complex litigation & investigation that is being pursued on behalf of Mumia is enormously expensive. We are in both the federal & state courts on the issue of the death penalty, prosecutorial wrongdoing, etc. Mumia's life is on the line.

How to Help: For information on how to help, both through donations & signing the Obama petition, please go to Mumia's legal defense website: www.MumiaLegalDefense.org .

Conclusion: Mumia remains on death row under a death judgment. He is in greater danger than at any time since his arrest 28 years ago. The prosecution is pursuing his execution. I win cases, & will not let them kill my client. He must be free.

Yours very truly,

Robert
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Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
www.MumiaLegalDefense.org

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Please forward widely

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

Forgive this hasty note updating Lynne's situation. I am off to Brazil shortly and must catch a plane soon.

I just spoke with Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter last night and learned the following.

A regularly scheduled follow up test to check on whether Lynne's breast cancel had reappeared revealed that Lynne now had a spot on her liver. Lynne struggled with prison authorities to have a required biopsy and related tests conducted at her regular, that is, non-prison, Roosevelt Hospital. Her requests were denied and she was compelled to have the biopsy done in a notoriously inferior facility where the results could not be determined for a week as compared to the almost immediate lab tests available at Roosevelt.

During Lynne's prison hospital stay she was shackled and handcuffed making rest and sleep virtually impossible. A horrified doctor ordered the shackles removed but immediately following his departure they were fastened on Lynne's feet and hands once again.

She is now back in her New York City prison cell. Her attorneys have filed for a postponement of her scheduled July 15 court appearance where Federal District Court sentencing Judge John Koeltl is to review the original 28-month jail sentence that he imposed last year.

This sentence was appealed by government prosecutors, who sought to order Koelt to impose a 30-year sentence. The U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, was sympathetic to the government's position and essentially stated that Koeltl's 28-month sentence exceeded the bounds of "reasonableness." Koeltl was ordered to reconsider. A relatively recent Supreme Court decision granted federal district court judges wide discretion in determining the length of internment. Koeltl's decision took into consideration many factors that the court system allows in determining Lynne's sentence. These included Lynne's character, her service to the community, her health and financial history and more. He ruled, among other things that Lynne's service to the community was indeed a "credit to her profession and to the nation."

Contrariwise, the government and prison authorities see Lynne as a convicted terrorist. Lynne was the victim of a frame-up trial held in the post-911 context. She was convicted on four counts of "aiding and abetting terrorism" stemming from a single act, Lynne's issuance of a press release on behalf of her client, the "blind" Egyptian Shreik Omar Abdel Rachman. The press release, that the government claimed violated a Special Administrative Order (SAM), was originally ignored as essentially trivial by the Clinton administration and then Attorney General Janet Reno. But the Bush administration's Attorney General John Ashcroft decided to go after Lynne with a sledge hammer.

A monstrous trial saw government attorney's pulling out all the stops to convince an intimidated jury that Lynne was associated in some way with terrorist acts across the globe, not to mention with Osama bin Laden. Both the judge and government were compelled to admit in court that there were no such "associations," but press clippings found in Lynne's office were nevertheless admitted as "hearsay" evidence even though they were given to Lynne by the government under the rules of discovery.

It is likely that Lynne's request for a postponement will be granted, assuming the government holds to the law that a prisoner has the right to partake in her/his own defense. Lynne's illness has certainly prevented her from doing so.

In the meantime, Lynne would like nothing more than to hear from her friends and associates. Down the road her defense team will also be looking for appropriate letters to the judge on Lynne's behalf. More later on the suggested content of these letters.

Please write Lynne to express your love and solidarity:

Lynne Stewart 53504-054
MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, New York 10007

In Solidarity,

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee

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Lynne Stewart and the Guantanamo Lawyers: Same Fact Patterns, Same Opponent, Different Endings?
Lynne Stewart will be re-sentenced sometime in July, in NYC.
By Ralph Poynter
(Ralph Poynter is the Life partner of Lynne Stewart. He is presently dedicated 24/7 to her defense, as well as other causes.)
Ralph.Poynter@yahoo.com

In the Spring of 2002, Lynne Stewart was arrested by the FBI, at her home in Brooklyn, for materially aiding terrorism by virtue of making a public press release to Reuters on behalf of her client, Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman of Egypt. This was done after she had signed a Special Administrative Measure issued by the Bureau of Prisons not permitting her to communicate with the media, on his behalf.

In 2006, a number of attorneys appointed and working pro bono for detainees at Guantanamo were discovered to be acting in a manner that disobeyed a Federal Judge's protective court order. The adversary in both cases was the United States Department of Justice. The results in each case were very different.

In March of 2010, a right wing group "Keep America Safe" led by Lynne Cheney, hoping to dilute Guantanamo representation and impugn the reputations and careers of the volunteer lawyers, launched a campaign. Initially they attacked the right of the detainees to be represented at all. This was met with a massive denouncement by Press, other media, Civil rights organizations ,and rightly so, as being a threat to the Constitution and particularly the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

A second attack on the Gitmo lawyers was made in the Wall Street Journal of March 16. This has been totally ignored in the media and by civil and human rights groups. This latter revelation about the violations, by these lawyers, of the Judge's protective orders and was revealed via litigation and the Freedom of Information Act. These pro bono lawyers serving clients assigned to them at Gitmo used privileged attorney client mail to send banned materials. They carried in news report of US failures in Afghanistan and Iraq . One lawyer drew a map of the prison. Another delivered lists to his client of all the suspects held there. They placed on the internet a facsimile of the badges worn by the Guards. Some lawyers "provided news outlets with 'interviews' of their clients using questions provided in advance by the news organizations." When a partner at one of the large Wall Street law firms sent in multiple copies of an Amnesty International brochure, which her client was to distribute to other prisoners, she was relieved from her representation and barred by the Military Commander from visiting her client.

This case is significant to interpret not because of the right wing line to punish these lawyers and manipulate their corporate clients to stop patronizing such "wayward" firms. Instead it is significant because, Lynne Stewart, a left wing progressive lawyer who had dedicated her thirty year career to defending the poor, the despised, the political prisoner and those ensnared by reason of race, gender, ethnicity, religion , who was dealt with by the same Department of Justice, in such a draconian fashion, confirms our deepest suspicions that she was targeted for prosecution and punishment because of who she is and who she represented so ably and not because of any misdeed.

Let me be very clear, I am not saying that the Gitmo lawyers acted in any "criminal" manner. The great tradition of the defense bar is to be able to make crucial decisions for and with the client without interference by the adversary Government.

I believe that they were acting as zealous attorneys trying to establish rapport and trust with their clients. That said, the moment the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice tried to remove Julia Tarver Mason from her client, the playing field tilted. Ms Tarver Mason was not led out of her home in handcuffs to the full glare of publicity. There was no press conference. The Attorney General did not go on the David Letterman show to gloat about the latest strike in the War on Terror, the purge of the Gitmo lawyer...NO.

Instead an "armada" of corporate lawyers went to Court against the Government. They, in the terms of the litigation trade, papered the US District Courthouse in Washington D.C. They brought to bear the full force of their Money and Power-- derived from the corporate world--and in 2006 "settled" the case with the government, restoring their clients to Guantanamo without any punishment at all, not to say any Indictment. Lynne Stewart, without corporate connections and coming from a working class background, was tried and convicted for issuing, on behalf of her client, a public press release to Reuters. There was no injury, no harm, no attacks, no deaths.

Yet that same Department of Justice that dealt so favorably and capitulated to the Gitmo corporate lawyers, wants to sentence Lynne Stewart to thirty (30) YEARS in prison. It is the equivalent of asking for a death sentence since she is 70 years old.

This vast disparity in treatment between Lynne and the Gitmo lawyers reveals the deep contradictions of the system ---those who derive power from rich and potent corporations, those whose day to day work maintains and increases that power--are treated differently. Is it because the Corporate Power is intertwined with Government Power???

Lynne Stewart deserves Justice... equal justice under law. Her present sentence of 28 months incarceration (she is in Federal Prison) should at least be maintained, if not made equal to the punishment that was meted out to the Gitmo lawyers. The thirty year sentence, assiduously pursued by DOJ under both Bush and Obama, is an obscenity and an affront to fundamental fairness. They wanted to make her career and dedication to individual clients, a warning, to the defense bar that the Government can arrest any lawyer on any pretext. The sharp contrasts between the cases of Lynne and the Gitmo lawyers just confirm that she is getting a raw deal--one that should be protested actively, visibly and with the full force of our righteous resistance.

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Roger Waters - "We Shall Overcome" for Gaza
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnMMHepfYVc

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Bernadette McAliskey Quote on Zionists:

"The root cause of conflict in the Middle East is the very nature of the state of Israel. It is a facist state. It is a international bully, which exists not to protect the rights of the Jewish people but to perpetuate a belief of Zionist supremacy. It debases the victims of the holocaust by its own strategy for extermination of Palestine and Palestinians and has become the image and likeness of its own worst enemy, the Third Reich.

"Anyone challenging their position, their crazed self-image is entitled, in the fascist construction of their thinking, to be wiped out. Every humanitarian becomes a terrorist? How long is the reality of the danger Israel poses to world peace going to be denied by the Western powers who created this monster?"

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Rachel Maddow: Disgraceful response to the oil itself
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#37563648

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It Ain't My Fault by Mos Def & Lenny Kravitz | stupidDOPE.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnR1BrGgRVM

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Gulf Oil Spill?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAHS5z6QKok

Dear Readers,

If you are wondering why an antiwar newsletter is giving full coverage to the oil spill, it's because:

(1) "Supplying the US army with oil is one of BP's biggest markets, and further exploration in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico is part of its long-term strategy."*
(2) "The Senate on Thursday, [May 27, 2010] approved a nearly $60 billion measure to pay for continuing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq..."**

The two are inextricably entwined and interdependent.

--Bonnie Weinstein

*The black hole at the bottom of the Gulf
No one seems to know the extent of the BP disaster
By David Randall and Margareta Pagano
Sunday, 23 May 2010
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-black-hole-at-the-bottom-of-the-gulf-1980693.html

**Senate Approves Nearly $60 Billion for Wars
By CARL HULSE
May 27, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/28/us/politics/28cong.html?ref=us

Watch BP Live Video Webcam Camera Feed of Gulf Oil Spill Here! (Update 7)
http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2010/05/20/live-video-feed-webcam-gulf-oil-spill/

What BP does not want you to see:
ABC News went underwater in the Gulf with Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of famous explorer Jacques Cousteau, and he described what he saw as "one of the most horrible things I've ever seen underwater."

Check out what BP does not want you to see. And please share this widely -- every American should see what's happening under the surface in the Gulf.
http://acp.repoweramerica.org/page/invite/oilspillvideo?source=sprd-fwd&utm_source=crm_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=oilspillvideo20100527&utm_content=link1

Live BP Gulf Oil Spill Webcam Video Reveals 5 Leaks
http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2010/05/24/live-bp-gulf-oil-spill-webcam-video-reveals-5-leaks/

Stop Shell Oil's Offshore Drilling Plans in the Arctic
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/308597489?z00m=19844689

Sign the Petition to Ban Offshore Drilling Now!
http://na.oceana.org/en/stopthedrill?key=31522015

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POEM ON WHAT ISRAEL DOES NOT ALLOW INTO GAZA - FROM THE IRISH TIMES / CARDOMAN AS A BIOLOGICAL WARFARE WEAPON

[ The poem does not mention that the popular herb cardamom is banned from importation into Gaza. Israel probably fears that cardamom can be used as a biological weapon. Rockets with cardamom filled projectiles landing in Israel could cause Israeli soldiers 'guarding' the border to succumb to pangs of hunger, leave their posts to go get something eat, and leave Israel defenseless. - Howard Keylor]

Richard Tillinghast is an American poet who lives in Co Tipperary. He is the author of eight books of poetry, the latest of which is Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2010 ), as well as several works of non-fiction

*

No tinned meat is allowed, no tomato paste,
no clothing, no shoes, no notebooks.
These will be stored in our warehouses at Kerem Shalom
until further notice.
Bananas, apples, and persimmons are allowed into Gaza,
peaches and dates, and now macaroni
(after the American Senator's visit).
These are vital for daily sustenance.

But no apricots, no plums, no grapes, no avocados, no jam.
These are luxuries and are not allowed.
Paper for textbooks is not allowed.
The terrorists could use it to print seditious material.
And why do you need textbooks
now that your schools are rubble?
No steel is allowed, no building supplies, no plastic pipe.
These the terrorists could use to launch rockets
against us.

Pumpkins and carrots you may have, but no delicacies,
no cherries, no pomegranates, no watermelon, no onions,
no chocolate.

We have a list of three dozen items that are allowed,
but we are not obliged to disclose its contents.
This is the decision arrived at
by Colonel Levi, Colonel Rosenzweig, and Colonel Segal.

Our motto:
'No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.'
You may fish in the Mediterranean,
but only as far as three km from shore.
Beyond that and we open fire.
It is a great pity the waters are polluted
twenty million gallons of raw sewage dumped into the sea every day
is the figure given.

Our rockets struck the sewage treatments plants,
and at this point spare parts to repair them are not allowed.
As long as Hamas threatens us,
no cement is allowed, no glass, no medical equipment.
We are watching you from our pilotless drones
as you cook your sparse meals over open fires
and bed down
in the ruins of houses destroyed by tank shells.

And if your children can't sleep,
missing the ones who were killed in our incursion,
or cry out in the night, or wet their beds
in your makeshift refugee tents,
or scream, feeling pain in their amputated limbs -
that's the price you pay for harbouring terrorists.

God gave us this land.
A land without a people for a people without a land.
--
Greta Berlin, Co-Founder
+357 99 18 72 75
witnessgaza.com
www.freegaza.org
http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza

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This is just inspiring! You have to watch it! ...bw
Don't Get Caught in a Bad Hotel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-79pX1IOqPU

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SEIZE BP!

[While this is a good beginning to a fight to put safety first--for workers and the planet--we must recognize that the whole thrust of capitalism is to get the job done quicker and cheaper, workers and the world be damned!

It is workers who are intimately aware of the dangers of production and the ways those dangers could be eliminated. And, if, say, a particular mine, factory, industry can't be made to be safe, then it should be abandoned. Those workers effected should simply be "retired" with full pay and benefits. They have already been subjected to the toxins, dangers, etc., on the job.

Basically, safety must be under worker's control. Workers must have first dibs on profits to insure safety first.

It not only means nationalizing industry--but internationalizing industry--and placing it under the control and operation of the workers themselves. Governmental controls of safety regulations are notoriously ineffectual because the politicians themselves are the corporation's paid defenders. It only makes sense that corporate profits should be utilized--under the worker's control--to put safety first or stop production altogether. Safety first has to be interpreted as "safety before profits and profits for safety first!" We can only hope it is not too late! ...bw]

SEIZE BP!

The government of the United States must seize BP and freeze its assets, and place those funds in trust to begin providing immediate relief to the working people throughout the Gulf states whose jobs, communities, homes and businesses are being harmed or destroyed by the criminally negligent actions of the CEO, Board of Directors and senior management of BP.

Take action now! Sign the Seize BP petition to demand the seizure of BP!

200,000 gallons of oil a day, or more, are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico with the flow of oil growing. The poisonous devastation to human beings, wildlife, natural habitat and fragile ecosystems will go on for decades. It constitutes an act of environmental violence, the consequences of which will be catastrophic.

BP's Unmitigated Greed

This was a manufactured disaster. It was neither an "Act of God" nor Nature that caused this devastation, but rather the unmitigated greed of Big Oil's most powerful executives in their reckless search for ever-greater profits.

Under BP's CEO Tony Hayward's aggressive leadership, BP made a record $5.6 billion in pure profits just in the first three months of 2010. BP made $163 billion in profits from 2001-09. It has a long history of safety violations and slap-on-the-wrist fines.

BP's Materially False and Misleading Statements

BP filed a 52-page exploration plan and environmental impact analysis with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, which repeatedly assured the government that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities." In the filing, BP stated over and over that it was unlikely for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill causing serious damage to beaches, mammals and fisheries and that as such it did not require a response plan for such an event.

BP's executives are thus either guilty of making materially false statements to the government to obtain the license, of consciously misleading a government that was all too ready to be misled, and/or they are guilty of criminal negligence. At a bare minimum, their representations constitute gross negligence. Whichever the case, BP must be held accountable for its criminal actions that have harmed so many.

Protecting BP's Super-Profits

BP executives are banking that they can ride out the storm of bad publicity and still come out far ahead in terms of the billions in profit that BP will pocket. In 1990, in response to the Exxon Valdez disaster, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Oil Pollution Act, which immunizes oil companies for the damages they cause beyond immediate cleanup costs.

Under the Oil Pollution Act, oil companies are responsible for oil removal and cleanup costs for massive spills, and their liability for all other forms of damages is capped at $75 million-a pittance for a company that made $5.6 billion in profits in just the last three months, and is expected to make $23 billion in pure profit this year. Some in Congress suggest the cap should be set at $10 billion, still less than the potential cost of this devastation-but why should the oil companies have any immunity from responsibility for the damage they cause?

The Oil Pollution Act is an outrage, and it will be used by BP to keep on doing business as usual.

People are up in arms because thousands of workers who have lost their jobs and livelihoods as a result of BP's actions have to wait in line to compete for lower wage and hazardous clean-up jobs from BP. BP's multi-millionaire executives are not asked to sacrifice one penny while working people have to plead for clean-up jobs.

Take Action Now

It is imperative that the government seize BP's assets now for their criminal negligence and begin providing immediate relief for the immense suffering and harm they have caused.

Seize BP Petition button*: http://www.seizebp.org/

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Rachel Carson's Warnings in "The Sea Around Us":
"It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself. . ." http://www.savethesea.org/quotes

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Operation Small Axe - Trailer
http://www.blockreportradio.com/news-mainmenu-26/820-us-school-district-to-begin-microchipping-students.html

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Please sign the petition to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and
and forward it to all your lists.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal and The Global Abolition of the Death Penalty"

http://www.petitiononline.com/Mumialaw/petition.html

(A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www. Amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/001/2000.)

[Note: This petition is approved by Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco (E-mail: MumiaLegalDefense@gmail.com; Website: www.MumiaLegalDefense.org).]

Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012

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Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia's freedom and life. His legal defense needs help. The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level. To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501c)3), and should be mailed to:

It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row. His life hangs in the balance. My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases. I will not rest until we win Mumia's case. Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

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FREE LYNNE STEWART NOW!

Lynne Stewart in Jail!

Mail tax free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: "Lynne Stewart Defense." Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.

SEND RESOLUTIONS AND STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT TO DEFENSE ATTORNEY JOSHUA L. DRATEL, ESQ. FAX: 212) 571 3792 AND EMAIL: jdratel@aol.com

SEND PROTESTS TO ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER:

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
53504-054
MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOQ5_VKRf5k&feature=related

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On June 30, an innocent man will be given a second chance.

In 1991, Troy Davis was sentenced to death for allegedly killing a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. There was no physical evidence tying him to the crime, and seven out of nine witnesses recanted or contradicted their testimony.

He was sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit. But it's not too late to change Troy's fate.

We just learned today that Troy has been granted an evidentiary hearing -- an opportunity to right this wrong. Help give him a second chance by telling your friends to pledge their support for Troy:

http://www.iamtroy.com/

Troy Davis may just be one man, but his situation represents an injustice experienced by thousands. And suffering this kind of injustice, by even one man, is one person too many.

Thanks to you and 35,000 other NAACP members and supporters who spoke out last August, the U.S. Supreme Court is granting Troy Davis his day in court--and a chance to make his case after 19 years on death row.

This hearing is the first step.

We appreciate your continued support of Troy. If you have not yet done so, please visit our website, sign the petition, then tell your friends to do the same.

http://www.iamtroy.com

I will be in touch soon to let you know how else you can help.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP

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Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to
http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!

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KEVIN COOPER IS INNOCENT!
FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
http://www.flashpoints.net/#GOOGLE_SEARCH_ENGINE
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
savekevincooper.org
LINKS
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/13/BAM517J8T3.DTL
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/05/11/05-99004o.pdf

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COURAGE TO RESIST!
Support the troops who refuse to fight!
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/
Donate:
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/21/57/

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C. ARTICLES IN FULL

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1) An Easy Call
By BOB HERBERT
"As Al Baker reported in The Times two months ago, black and Latino New Yorkers were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in 2009. But once stopped, they were no more likely than whites to actually be arrested."
July 5, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/opinion/06herbert.html?hp

2) New Charges for Soldier Accused of Leaking Video
"An Army soldier in Iraq who was arrested for leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced on Tuesday."
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
July 6, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/world/middleeast/07wikileaks.html?hp

3) Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank
By JIM RUTENBERG, MIKE McINTIRE and ETHAN BRONNER
July 5, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/world/middleeast/06settle.html?ref=world

4) Calls to Update Maritime Laws
"Under current law, recoveries for those who die at sea - be it on a rig or a cruise ship - can be limited to funeral expenses."
By BARRY MEIER
July 5, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/business/06seas.html?ref=us

5) Study: Recession Has Hit More than Half of Us
By James Parks
"Since the recession began 30 months ago, more than half of all adults in the workforce-55 percent-say that they have either been unemployed, taken a pay cut, had their work hours reduced or have become involuntary part-time workers, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project."
[A link to a downloadable PDF of the full report of the survey is also at this site...bw]
July 2, 2010
http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/07/02/study-recession-has-hit-more-than-half-of-us/

6) Oil seeps into New Orleans' Lake Pontchartrain
By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jul 6, 6:12 pm ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100706/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill

7) Louisiana and Scientists Spar Over How to Stop Oil
[This article exemplifies the facts that, 1, they have no idea how to keep the oil from contaminating the wetlands; and 2, instead of working together to find solutions, they are fighting each other; and 3, since numbers 1 and 2 are true, they have no business drilling offshore for oil in the first place...bw]
By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF
July 6, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/science/earth/07rocks.html?ref=us

8) Spill, Baby, Spill: Capitalism Gone Wild
By Bonnie Weinstein
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/

9) Colombian Army Attacks Striking BP Workers
By Claire Hall
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_12.html

10) Capitalist Production and the Earth's Imperative
By Bonnie Weinstein
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_13.html

11) Bloody Sunday: Put Britain in the Dock
By Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_23.html

12) Race and Law in the USA
By Kevin Cooper
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_34.html

13) "Deep Spill 2" sounds like a sequel to a Hollywood thriller.
If Only Information Flowed as Freely as Oil
by Amy Goodman
Published on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 by TruthDig.com
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/07-4

14) Obama's Orphaned Science Integrity and Transparency Pledge
Promised Rules for Scientific Whistleblowers One Year Overdue and Counting
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2010
10:14 AM
CONTACT: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/07/08-1

15) Lessons From Brazilian Oil Spill
By Gabriel Elizondo
Published on Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Al Jazeera English
http://www.commondreams.org/video/2010/07/08-0

16) Oil spill's toll on birds set to drastically soar
By Steve Gorman and Ernest Scheyder
Reuters - July 1, 2010
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=oil-spills-toll-on-birds

17) Mitigating Annihilation
By Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld t r u t h o u t | Photo Essay
Wednesday 07 July 2010
http://www.truth-out.org/mitigating-annihilation61145

18) Whistleblower: Relief payments get slashed if fishermen refuse to work for BP
"BP will deduct money from individual payments on claims for lost income if the claimant refuses to work in assisting the spill response."
By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 -- 11:25 pm
http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0706/whistleblower-bp-deducts-relief-payments-fishermen-refuse-aid-gulf-cleanup/

19) Obama Presses BP on Procedures to Recover More Oil
[Obama still leaves BP in charge as the Coast Guard keeps scientists away!...bw]
By JOHN M. BRODER
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/us/09spill.html?hp

20) The Latest on the Oil Spill
Updated: July 8, 2010
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/o/oil_spills/gulf_of_mexico_2010/index.html

21) Greece Approves Pension Overhaul Despite Protests
"The bill would unify the retirement age at 65 years of age for both men and women and would reduce payouts by calculating salaries on lifetime income as opposed to a worker's highest, most recent pay. ...It would also make it easier for Greek companies to fire workers."
By LANDON THOMAS Jr. and NIKI KITSANTONIS
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/business/global/09drachma.html?ref=world

22) Owner of Exploded Rig Is Known for Testing Rules
By BARRY MEIER
July 7, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/business/global/08ocean.html?ref=world

23) Cuomo Finds Pattern of Workers' Inflating Pensions
"Many New York state and local government workers pad their pensions by drastically increasing their overtime in their last years of employment, according to a report released Wednesday by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo." [This is exactly what Greece put an end to. See article # 21 above--shades of things to come...bw]
By STEPHEN CEASAR
July 7, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/nyregion/08pension.html?ref=nyregion

23) Despite BP Disaster, Big Oil Has Its Eye on the Arctic
By Roger Shuler
July 7, 2010
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Despite-BP-Disaster-Big-O-by-Roger-Shuler-100707-606.html

24) Tar mats 'size of school buses'
By GEOFF PENDER, MELISSA SCALLAN and DONNA MELTON
Posted on Thu, Jul. 08, 2010
http://www.sunherald.com/2010/07/07/2315960/tar-mats-size-of-school-buses.html

25) Officer Guilty in Killing That Inflamed Oakland
By JESSE McKINLEY
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/us/09verdict.html?scp=1&sq=oscar%20grant&st=cse

26) Court Rejects Moratorium on Drilling in the Gulf
"The administration's order halted 33 exploratory drilling projects and suspended new permits, but did not affect more than 3,000 platforms already in production."
By JOHN M. BRODER
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/us/09drill.html?ref=us

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1) An Easy Call
By BOB HERBERT
"As Al Baker reported in The Times two months ago, black and Latino New Yorkers were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in 2009. But once stopped, they were no more likely than whites to actually be arrested."
July 5, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/opinion/06herbert.html?hp

Gov. David Paterson is being urged to veto a bill that would prohibit the New York City Police Department from adding any more innocent individuals to its vast computerized database of personal information on the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers stopped, questioned and often frisked by police officers.

This should be an easy call for the governor. He should ignore this awful advice, which is coming from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the police commissioner, Ray Kelly, and others. Allowing the police to continue accumulating these permanent files on the innocent, an abomination in and of itself, would also encourage the cops to continue their Jim Crow stop-and-frisk policy, which has led to the systematic harassment and humiliation of young black and Latino residents who have done absolutely nothing wrong.

This racist policy needs to stop - and stop now. As Al Baker reported in The Times two months ago, black and Latino New Yorkers were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in 2009. But once stopped, they were no more likely than whites to actually be arrested.

An overwhelming majority of the people stopped, questioned and searched by the police are innocent of any wrongdoing and are sent on their way after the encounter. This illegal and inhumane policy has gotten completely out of control. From 2004 through 2009, police officers stopped people on the street and checked them out nearly three million times, an astounding figure. Nearly 90 percent were completely innocent, minding their own business.

These wholly unnecessary interactions with police officers are frequently traumatic and degrading. Men and women, boys and girls - in a vast majority of cases, black or Hispanic - are routinely ordered to sprawl face down on the sidewalk or in the street, or to spread-eagle themselves against a wall. They are frisked and often verbally humiliated. And I have been told time and again by people who have been through these encounters that police officers have threatened to charge them with disorderly conduct if they dared to raise any objections.

The Police Department has compounded this outrage by loading information on these innocent New Yorkers into its permanent database of stop-and-frisk encounters. The database is one of the first stops for cops investigating actual crimes. Thus, these innocent individuals become a permanent focus of the police, not because of anything they've done wrong but primarily because of their ethnic background.

The legislation Governor Paterson is being urged to veto would prevent police officers from putting personally identifiable information into the database on people who are stopped but who are not given a summons or arrested. The Police Department would be able to keep the data it has already compiled but would have to stop putting information into its files that would identify people who have done nothing wrong.

The bill has been passed by both the Senate and Assembly and awaits the governor's signature. He should sign it with dispatch.

The bill would not curb the department's stop-and-frisk policy. But as Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, noted on Monday, it would stop the continued expansion of the database, which is one of the policy's objectives. She also said, "It would send the message, loud and clear, that whatever pass the Police Department has gotten from city government on these policies, the state is being much more attentive."

That most New Yorkers do not seem to care about the way young black and Latino New Yorkers are treated by the police does not make that treatment any less noxious or vile. And it doesn't make it legal. Stopping and searching people without good reason is unconstitutional.

The stops and searches are an affront to the dignity of the people who are unfairly targeted. If these individuals are not violating any laws, they have the same right as anyone on Park Avenue in Manhattan to be left alone by the authorities. When you listen to the people who have been subjected to this relentless harassment, you get a sense of the awful personal consequences. People are made to feel low, intimidated, worthless, helpless. They dread the very sight of the police.

As one young man told me, "You can't do nothing when they roll up on you. If you say something, they tell you, 'Shut up.' "

The range of emotions of people who are stopped include anger, rage, sorrow and feelings of depression. A teenaged girl who was humiliated by officers as she walked to a subway stop in Brooklyn told me she was so mortified by the encounter that she hates to leave her apartment building - even to go to school.

Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly and the city's police officers should not be allowed to impose that kind of toxic burden on innocent New Yorkers.

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2) New Charges for Soldier Accused of Leaking Video
"An Army soldier in Iraq who was arrested for leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced on Tuesday."
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
July 6, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/world/middleeast/07wikileaks.html?hp

BAGHDAD, Iraq - An Army soldier in Iraq who was arrested for leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced on Tuesday.

The full contents of the cables remain unclear but according to formal charges filed on Monday, it appeared that a disgruntled soldier working at a remote base east of Baghdad gathered some of the most guarded, if not always scandalous secrets of American diplomacy. He disclosed at least 50 of the cables "to a person not entitled to receive them."

With the new charges, a case that stemmed from the furor over a graphic and fiercely contested video of an American helicopter killing 12 people, including a reporter and a driver for Reuters, mushroomed into a far more extensive and potentially embarrassing leak. The charges cited only one cable by name, "Reykyavik 13," which appeared to be one made public by Wikileaks.org, a furtive Web site devoted to disclosing the secrets of governments and corporations. The Web site decoded and in April made public an edited version of the helicopter attack in a film it called "Collateral Murder."

In the cable, dated January 13, the American deputy chief of mission, Sam Watson, detailed private discussions he held with Iceland's leaders over a referendum on whether to repay losses from a bank failure, including a frank assessment that Iceland could default in 2011. (The referendum failed, but negotiations continue.)

Wikileaks, which reportedly operated in the country for a time, disclosed a second cable from Iceland in March profiling the country's leaders, including Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

Although hardly sensational in tone, the cable does reveal a complaint over the "alleged use of Icelandic airspace by CIA-operated planes" by the Icelandic ambassador to the United States, Albert Jonsson, who is described as "prickly but pragmatic." Such are the sorts of assessments diplomats go to great lengths to keep private.

Wikileaks has not acknowledged receiving the cables or video from the analyst, Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, 22, whose case has been the subject of vigorous debate between defenders and critics. Private Manning, who served with the Second Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, based at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, was arrested in May and transferred to a military detention center in Kuwait after allegedly revealing his activities in online chats with a former computer hacker, who turned him in to the authorities.

Private Manning now faces an Article 32 investigation, the military's equivalent of a civilian grand jury, into charges that he mishandled classified information "with reason to believe the information could cause injury to the United States."

That investigation could lead to administrative punishments or more likely, given the gravity of the charges, a court martial.

Officially he has been charged with four counts of violating Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for disobeying an order or regulation and eight counts of violating Article 134, a general charge for misconduct, which in this case involved breaking Federal laws against disclosing classified information.

It is not clear what happened to the vast trove of diplomatic cables Private Manning collected, and whether any others would make their way into the public domain. The formal charges, though, suggested an extensive effort by military investigators to scour the official and personal computers he used to trace the recipients.

The charges cited unauthorized handling of classified information from Nov. 19, 2009 until May 27, two days before his detention and well after the leak of the helicopter video. The charges accused him of using the classified network to obtain the "Reykjavik 13" cable on the day the one disclosed by Wikileaks was written.

He was also charged with downloading a classified PowerPoint presentation, one of those heavily used by the American military, but what secrets it contained remained unknown.

Andrian Lamo, the former hacker who reported Private Manning to the authorities, has said they struck up on on-line friendship in which the private complained of personal discontent with the military and American foreign policies.

Because the investigation continues, military officials here would not elaborate on the case against Private Manning or his motives. The United States Embassy did not respond to a query. One senior commander, though, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the investigation, said, "It appeared he had an agenda."

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3) Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank
By JIM RUTENBERG, MIKE McINTIRE and ETHAN BRONNER
July 5, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/world/middleeast/06settle.html?ref=world

HAR BRACHA, West Bank - Twice a year, American evangelicals show up at a winery in this Jewish settlement in the hills of ancient Samaria to play a direct role in biblical prophecy, picking grapes and pruning vines.

Believing that Christian help for Jewish winemakers here in the occupied West Bank foretells Christ's second coming, they are recruited by a Tennessee-based charity called HaYovel that invites volunteers "to labor side by side with the people of Israel" and "to share with them a passion for the soon coming jubilee in Yeshua, messiah."

But during their visit in February the volunteers found themselves in the middle of the fight for land that defines daily life here. When the evangelicals headed into the vineyards, they were pelted with rocks by Palestinians who say the settlers have planted creeping grape vines on their land to claim it as their own. Two volunteers were hurt. In the ensuing scuffle, a settler guard shot a 17-year-old Palestinian shepherd in the leg.

"These people are filled with ideas that this is the Promised Land and their duty is to help the Jews," said Izdat Said Qadoos of the neighboring Palestinian village. "It is not the Promised Land. It is our land."

HaYovel is one of many groups in the United States using tax-exempt donations to help Jews establish permanence in the Israeli-occupied territories - effectively obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state, widely seen as a necessary condition for Middle East peace.

The result is a surprising juxtaposition: As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.

A New York Times examination of public records in the United States and Israel identified at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade. The money goes mostly to schools, synagogues, recreation centers and the like, legitimate expenditures under the tax law. But it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities: housing as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.

In some ways, American tax law is more lenient than Israel's. The outposts receiving tax-deductible donations - distinct from established settlements financed by Israel's government - are illegal under Israeli law. And a decade ago, Israel ended tax breaks for contributions to groups devoted exclusively to settlement-building in the West Bank.

Now controversy over the settlements is sharpening, and the issue is sure to be high on the agenda when President Obama and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, meet in Washington on Tuesday.

While a succession of American administrations have opposed the settlements here, Mr. Obama has particularly focused on them as obstacles to peace. A two-state solution in the Middle East, he says, is vital to defusing Muslim anger at the West. Under American pressure, Mr. Netanyahu has temporarily frozen new construction to get peace talks going. The freeze and negotiations, in turn, have injected new urgency into the settlers' cause - and into fund-raising for it.

The use of charities to promote a foreign policy goal is neither new nor unique - Americans also take tax breaks in giving to pro-Palestinian groups. But the donations to the settler movement stand out because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements. Tax breaks for the donations remain largely unchallenged, and unexamined by the American government. The Internal Revenue Service declined to discuss donations for West Bank settlements. State Department officials would comment only generally, and on condition of anonymity.

"It's a problem," a senior State Department official said, adding, "It's unhelpful to the efforts that we're trying to make."

Daniel C. Kurtzer, the United States ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005, called the issue politically delicate. "It drove us crazy," he said. But "it was a thing you didn't talk about in polite company."

He added that while the private donations could not sustain the settler enterprise on their own, "a couple of hundred million dollars makes a huge difference," and if carefully focused, "creates a new reality on the ground."

Most contributions go to large, established settlements close to the boundary with Israel that would very likely be annexed in any peace deal, in exchange for land elsewhere. So those donations produce less concern than money for struggling outposts and isolated settlements inhabited by militant settlers. Even small donations add to their permanence.

For example, when Israeli authorities suspended plans for permanent homes in Maskiot, a tiny settlement near Jordan, in 2007, two American nonprofits - the One Israel Fund and Christian Friends of Israeli Communities -raised tens of thousands of dollars to help erect temporary structures, keeping the community going until officials lifted the building ban.

Israeli security officials express frustration over donations to the illegal or more defiant communities.

"I am not happy about it," a senior military commander in the West Bank responded when asked about contributions to a radical religious academy whose director has urged soldiers to defy orders to evict settlers. He spoke under normal Israeli military rules of anonymity.

Palestinian officials expressed outrage at the tax breaks.

"Settlements violate international law, and the United States is supposed to be sponsoring a two-state solution, yet it gives deductions for donation to the settlements?" said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator. The settlements are a sensitive issue among American Jews themselves. Some major Jewish philanthropies, like the Jewish Federations of North America, generally do not support building activities in the West Bank.

The donors to settlement charities represent a broad mix of Americans - from wealthy people like the hospital magnate Dr. Irving I. Moskowitz and the family behind Haagen-Dazs ice cream to bidders at kosher pizza auctions in Brooklyn and evangelicals at a recent Bible meeting in a Long Island basement. But they are unified in their belief that returning the West Bank - site of the ancient Jewish kingdoms - to full Jewish control is critical to Israeli security and fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

As Kimberly Troup, director of the Christian Friends of Israeli Communities' American office, said, while her charity's work is humanitarian, "the more that we build, the more that we support and encourage their right to live in the land, the harder it's going to be for disengagement, for withdrawal."

Sorting Out the Facts

Today half a million Israeli Jews live in lands captured during the June 1967 Middle East war. Yet there is a strong international consensus that a Palestinian state should arise in the West Bank and Gaza, where all told some four million Palestinians live.

Ultimately, any agreement will be a compromise, a sorting out of the facts on the ground.

Most Jewish residents of the West Bank live in what amount to suburbs, with neat homes, high rises and highways to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Politically and ideologically, they are indistinguishable from Israel proper. Most will doubtless stay in any peace deal, while those who must move will most likely do so peacefully.

But in the geographically isolated settlements and dozens of illegal outposts, there are settlers who may well violently resist being moved. The prospect of an internal and deeply painful Israeli confrontation looms.

And the resisters will very likely be aided by tax-deductible donations from Americans who believe that far from quelling Muslim anger, as Mr. Obama argues, handing over the West Bank will only encourage militant Islamists bent on destroying Israel.

"We need to influence our congressmen to stop Obama from putting pressure on Israel to self-destruct," Helen Freedman, a New Yorker who runs a charity called Americans for a Safe Israel, told supporters touring the West Bank this spring.

Israel, too, used to offer its residents tax breaks for donations to settlement building, starting in 1984 under a Likud government. But those donations were ended by the Labor Party, first in 1995 and then, after reversal, again in 2000. The finance minister in both cases, Avraham Shohat, said that while he only vaguely recalled the decision-making process, as a matter of principle he believed in deductions for gifts to education and welfare for the poor, not to settlement building per se.

In theory, the same is true for the United States, where the tax code encourages citizens to support nonprofit groups that may diverge from official policy, as long as their missions are educational, religious or charitable.

The challenge is defining those terms and enforcing them.

There are more than a million registered charities, and many submit sparse or misleading mission summaries in tax filings. Religious groups have no obligation to divulge their finances, meaning settlements may be receiving sums that cannot be traced.

The Times's review of pro-settler groups suggests that most generally live within the rules of the American tax code. Some, though, risk violating them by using the money for political campaigning and residential property purchases, by failing to file tax returns, by setting up boards of trustees in name only and by improperly funneling donations directly to foreign organizations.

One group that at least skates close to the line is Friends of Zo Artzeinu/Manhigut Yehudit, based in Cedarhurst, N.Y., and co-founded by Shmuel Sackett, a former executive director of the banned Israeli political party Kahane Chai. Records from the group say a portion of the $5.2 million it has collected over the last few years has gone to the Israeli "community facilities" of Manhigut Yehudit, a hard-right faction of Mr. Netanyahu's governing Likud Party, which Mr. Sackett helps run with the politician Moshe Feiglin.

American tax rules prohibit the use of charitable funds for political purposes at home or abroad. Neither man would answer questions about the nature of the "community facilities." In an e-mail message, Mr. Sackett said the American charity was not devoted to political activity, but to humanitarian projects and "educating the public about the need for authentic Jewish leadership in Israel."

Of course, groups in the pro-settler camp are not the only ones benefiting from tax breaks. For example, the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the flotilla seeking to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, says on its Web site that supporters can make tax-deductible donations to it through the American Educational Trust, publisher of an Arab-oriented journal. Israeli civil and human rights groups like Peace Now, which are often accused of having a blatant political agenda, also benefit from tax-deductible donations.

Some pro-settler charities have obscured their true intentions.

Take the Capital Athletic Foundation, run by the disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In its I.R.S. filings, the foundation noted donations totaling more than $140,000 to Kollel Ohel Tiferet, a religious study group in Israel, for "educational and athletic" purposes. In reality, a study group member was using the money to finance a paramilitary operation in the Beitar Illit settlement, according to documents in a Senate investigation of Mr. Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to defrauding clients and bribing public officials.

Mr. Abramoff, documents show, had directed the settler, Shmuel Ben Zvi, an old high school friend, to use the study group as cover after his accountant complained that money for sniper equipment and a jeep "don't look good" in terms of complying with the foundation's tax-exempt status.

While the donations by Mr. Abramoff's charity were elaborately disguised - the group shipped a camouflage sniper suit in a box labeled "Grandmother Tree Costume for the play Pocahontas" - other groups are more open. Amitz Rescue & Security, which has raised money through two Brooklyn nonprofits, trains and equips guard units for settlements. Its Web site encourages donors to "send a tax-deductible check" for night-vision binoculars, bulletproof vehicles and guard dogs.

Other groups urge donors to give to one of several nonprofits that serve as clearinghouses for donations to a wide array of groups in Israel and the West Bank, which, if not done properly, can skirt the intent of American tax rules.

Americans cannot claim deductions for direct donations to foreign charities; tax laws allow deductions for domestic giving on the theory that charities ultimately ease pressure on government spending for social programs.

But the I.R.S. does allow deductions for donations to American nonprofits that support charitable projects abroad, provided the nonprofit is not simply a funnel to another group overseas, according to Bruce R. Hopkins, a lawyer and the author of several books on nonprofit law. Donors can indicate how they would like their money to be used, but the nonprofit must exercise "some measure of independence to deliberate on grant-making," he said.

A prominent clearinghouse is the Central Fund of Israel, operated from the Marcus Brothers Textiles offices in the Manhattan garment district. Dozens of West Bank groups seem to view the fund as little more than a vehicle for channeling donations back to themselves, instructing their supporters that if they want a tax break, they must direct their contributions there first. The fund's president, Hadassah Marcus, acknowledged that it received many checks from donors "who want them to go to different programs in Israel," but, she said, the fund retains ultimate discretion over the money. It also makes its own grants to needy Jewish families and monitors them, she said, adding that the fund, which collected $13 million in 2008, was audited and complies with I.R.S. rules.

"We're not a funnel. We're trying to build a land," she said, adding, "All we're doing is going back to our home."

Support From a Preacher

Late one afternoon in March, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. landed in Israel and headed to his Jerusalem hotel to prepare for a weeklong effort to rekindle Middle East peace talks.

Across town, many of the leading Israeli officials on Mr. Biden's schedule, among them Prime Minister Netanyahu, were in a convention hall listening to the Rev. John Hagee, an influential American preacher whose charities have donated millions to projects in Israel and the territories. Support for the settlements has become a cause of some leading conservative Republicans, like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.

"Israel exists because of a covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob 3,500 years ago - and that covenant still stands," Mr. Hagee thundered. "World leaders do not have the authority to tell Israel and the Jewish people what they can and cannot do in the city of Jerusalem."

The next day, Israeli-American relations plunged after Israel announced plans for 1,600 new apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their future capital.

Israeli officials said Mr. Hagee's words of encouragement had no effect on government decision making. And the preacher's aides said he was not trying to influence the peace talks, just defending Israel's right to make decisions without foreign pressure.

Still, his presence underscored the role of settlement supporters abroad.

Nowhere is that effort more visible, and contentious, than in East Jerusalem, which the Netanyahu government says must remain under Israeli sovereignty in any peace deal.

The government supports privately financed archaeological projects that focus on Jewish roots in Arab areas of Jerusalem. The Obama administration and the United Nations have recently criticized a plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes to make room for a history park in a neighborhood where a nonprofit group called El'Ad finances digs and buys up Arab-owned properties.

To raise money, groups like El'Ad seek to bring alive a narrative of Jewish nationalism in living rooms and banquet halls across America.

In May, a crowd of mostly Jewish professionals - who paid $300 a plate to benefit the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim - gathered in a catering hall high above Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens to dine and hear John R. Bolton, United Nations ambassador under President George W. Bush, warn of the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

A few days earlier, the group's executive vice president, Susan Hikind, had gone on a Jewish radio program in New York to proclaim her group's resistance to American policy in the Middle East. The Obama administration, she said, did not want donors to attend the banquet because it believed Jerusalem should "be part of some future capital of a Palestinian state."

"And who's standing in the way of that?" Ms. Hikind said. "People who support Ateret Cohanim's work in Jerusalem to ensure that Jerusalem remains united."

The Jerusalem Reclamation Project of Ateret Cohanim works to transfer ownership of Arab homes to Jewish families in East Jerusalem. Such efforts have generated much controversy; Islamic judicial panels have threatened death to Palestinians who sell property in the occupied territories to Jews, and sales are often conducted using shell companies and intermediaries.

"Land reclamation is actually sort of a bad name - redeeming is probably a better word," said D. Bernard Hoenig, a New York lawyer on the board of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim. "The fact of the matter is, there are Arabs who want to sell their homes, and they have offered our organization the opportunity to buy them."

Mr. Hoenig said that Ateret Cohanim bought a couple of buildings years ago, but that mostly it helps arrange purchases by other Jewish investors. That is not mentioned, however, on its American affiliate's tax returns. Rather, they describe its primary charitable purpose as financing "higher educational institutions in Israel," as well as children's camps, help for needy families and security for Jews living in East Jerusalem.

Indeed, it does all those things. It houses yeshiva students and teachers in properties it helps acquire and places kindergartens and study institutes into other buildings, all of which helps its activities qualify as educational or religious for tax purposes.

The American affiliate provides roughly 60 percent of Ateret Cohanim's funding, according to representatives of the group. But Mr. Hoenig said none of the American money went toward the land deals, since they would not qualify for tax-deductible donations.

Still, acquiring property has been an integral part of Ateret Cohanim's fund-raising appeals.

Archived pages from a Web site registered to the American affiliate - taken down in the last year or so - described in detail how Ateret Cohanim "quietly and discreetly" arranged the acquisition of buildings in Palestinian areas. And it sought donations for "the expected left-wing Arab legal battle," building costs and "other expenses (organizational, planning, Arab middlemen, etc.)"

An Unyielding Stance

Deep inside the West Bank, in the northern region called Samaria, or Shomron, lie 30 or so settlements and unauthorized outposts, most considered sure candidates for evacuation in any deal for a Palestinian state. In terms of donations, they do not raise anywhere near the sums produced for Jerusalem or close-in settlements. But in many ways they worry security officials and the Palestinians the most, because they are so unyielding.

Out here, the communities have a rougher feel. Some have only a few paved roads, and mobile homes for houses. Residents - men with skullcaps and sidelocks, women with head coverings, and families with many children - often speak in apocalyptic terms about the need for Jews to stay on the land. It may take generations, they say, but God's promise will be fulfilled.

In November, after the Netanyahu government announced the settlement freeze, Shomron leaders invited reporters to watch them shred the orders.

David Ha'Ivri, the public liaison for the local government, the Shomron Regional Council, has positioned himself as a fierce yet amiable advocate. As a leader of an American-based nonprofit, he also brings a militant legacy to the charitable enterprise.

Mr. Ha'Ivri, formerly David Axelrod, was born in Far Rockaway, Queens, and was a student of the virulently anti-Arab Rabbi Meir David Kahane and a top lieutenant and brother-in-law to the rabbi's son, Binyamin Kahane. Both Kahanes, who were assassinated 10 years apart, ran organizations banned in Israel for instigating, if not participating in, attacks against Arabs. The United States Treasury Department later added both groups, Kach and Kahane Chai, to its terrorism watch list.

As recently as four years ago, Mr. Ha'Ivri was involved in running The Way of the Torah, a Kahanist newsletter designated as a terrorist organization in the United States. He has had several run-ins with the authorities in Israel over the last two decades, including an arrest for celebrating the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a television interview and a six-month jail term in connection with the desecration of a mosque.

Treasury officials said a group's presence on the terror list does not necessarily extend to its former leaders, and indeed Mr. Ha'Ivri is not on it.

Mr. Ha'Ivri said he no longer engaged in such activism, adding that, at 43, he had mellowed, even if his core convictions had not. "I'm a little older now, a little more mature," he said.

A Sunday in late May found him in New York, on a stage in Central Park, speaking at the annual Salute to Israel celebration. "We will not ever, ever give up our land," Mr. Ha'Ivri said.

He posed for pictures with the Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, and distributed fliers about the "501 c3 I.R.S. tax deductible status" of his charity, Shuva Israel, which has raised more than $2.6 million since 2004 for the Shomron communities.

Although I.R.S. rules require that American charities exhibit "full control of the donated funds and discretion as to their use," Shuva Israel appears to be dominated by Israeli settlers.

Mr. Ha'Ivri, who lives in the settlement of Kfar Tapuach, was listed as the group's executive director in its most recent tax filing; Gershon Mesika, the Shomron council's leader, is the board's chairman; and Shuva Israel's accountant is based in the settlement of Tekoa. Its American presence is through a post office box in Austin, Tex., where, according to its tax filings, it has two volunteers who double as board members.

"I've never been to the board," said one of them, Jeff Luftig.

When asked about his dual status as leader of the charity and an official with the council it supports, Mr. Ha'Ivri said he was no longer executive director, though he could not recall who was. He said he was confident the charity was following the law, adding that the money it raises goes strictly toward improving the lives of settlers.

Exacting a Price

If Mr. Ha'Ivri has changed tactics, a new generation has picked up his aggressive approach. These activists also receive American support.

Their campaign has been named "Price Tag": For every move by Israeli authorities to curtail settlement construction, the price will be an attack on an Arab mosque, vineyard or olive grove.

The results were on display during a recent tour through the Arab village of Hawara, where the wall of a mosque had been desecrated with graffiti of a Jewish star and the first letters of the Prophet Muhammad's name in Hebrew. In the nearby Palestinian village of Mikhmas, the deputy mayor, Mohamed Damim, said settlers had come in the dark of night and uprooted or cut down hundreds of olive and fig trees.

"The army has done nothing to protect us," he said. Though the attacks are small by nature, Israeli commanders fear they threaten to scuttle the uneasy peace they and their Palestinian Authority partners have forged in the West Bank.

"It can bring the entire West Bank to light up again in terror and violence," a senior commander said in an interview.

Israeli law enforcement officials say that in investigating settler violence in the north, they often turn to people connected to the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in the Yitzhar settlement. After the arson of a mosque in Yasuf in December, authorities arrested the yeshiva's head rabbi, Yitzhak Shapira, and several students but released them for lack of evidence. Rabbi Shapira denied involvement. He is known in Israel for his strong views. He was co-author of a book released last year that offered religious justification for killing non-Jews who pose a threat to Jews or, in the case of young children, could in the future.

A plaque inside the recently built yeshiva thanks Dr. Moskowitz, the hospitals entrepreneur, and his wife, Cherna, for their "continuous and generous support." Another recognizes Benjamin Landa of Brooklyn, a nursing home operator who gave through his foundation, Ohel Harav Yehoshua Boruch. Mr. Landa said he donated to the yeshiva after its old building was destroyed in an Arab ransacking. None of the American donations have been linked to the campaign of attacks.

The Israeli military has activated outstanding permit violations that have set the stage for the yeshiva's threatened demolition. And officials have barred some of the yeshiva's students from the West Bank for months on end.

Od Yosef Chai's director, Itamar Posen, said in an interview that the military was unfairly singling out the yeshiva because "the things that we publish are things that are against their ideas, and they are frightened." Mr. Ha'Ivri and Mr. Mesika have charged the military with jeopardizing the men's livelihoods without due process.

A settler legal defense fund, Honenu, with its own American charitable arm, has sought to provide a safety net.

An online appeal for tax-deductible donations to be sent to Honenu's Queens-based post office read, "If the 3 men can have their families supported it will cause others at the Hilltops to brave military and government threats against them."

Reached last month, one of the men, Akiva HaCohen, declined to say how much support he had received from American donors; Honenu officials in Israel declined to comment as well.

There is no way to tell from Honenu's American tax returns; none was available through Guidestar, a service that tracks tax filings by nonprofits. Groups that raise less than $25,000 a year are not required to file. But a review of tax returns filed by other charities showed that one American family foundation gave it $33,000 in a single year, enough to have required filing.

Asked whether it had ever filed a tax return, Aaron Heimowitz, a financial planner in Queens who collects Honenu's donations there, responded, "I'm not in a position to answer that."

Opaque Finances

Religious charities are still more opaque; the tax code does not require them to disclose their finances publicly.

Mr. Hagee is one of the few Christian Zionists who advertises his philanthropy in Israel and its territories, at least $58 million as of last year, distributed through a multimedia empire that spins out a stream of books, DVDs and CDs about Israel's role in biblical prophecy.

Mr. Hagee's aides say he makes a large majority of his donations within Israel's 1967 boundaries and seeks to avoid disputed areas. Yet a sports complex in the large settlement of Ariel - whose future is in dispute - bears his name. And a few years ago, according to officials at the yeshiva at Har Bracha, Mr. Hagee donated $250,000 to expand a dormitory.

The yeshiva is the main growth engine of the settlement, attracting students who put down roots. (Some are soldiers, and the head rabbi there has called upon them to refuse orders to evict settlers.) After the yeshiva was started in 1992, "the place just took off," growing to more than 200 families from 3, said the yeshiva's spokesman, Yonaton Behar. "The goal," he added, "is to grow to the point where there is no question of uprooting Har Bracha."

Various strains of American pro-settlement activity come together in Har Bracha. The Moskowitz family helped pay for the yeshiva's main building. Nearby, a winery was built with volunteer help from HaYovel ministries, which brings large groups of volunteers to prune and harvest. Mr. Ha'Ivri's charity promotes the program.

The winery's owner, Nir Lavi, says his land is state-sanctioned. But officials in the neighboring Palestinian village of Iraq Burin say part of the vineyard was planted on ground taken from their residents in a parcel-by-parcel land grab.

Such disputes are typical for the area, as are the opposing accounts of what happened that February day when HaYovel's leader, Tommy Waller, and his volunteers say they came under attack and the shepherd was shot.

"They came up screaming, slinging their rock-slings like David going after a giant," Mr. Waller said. A Har Bracha security guard came to the rescue by shooting in the air, not aiming for the attackers, he added.

But, in an interview, the shepherd, Amid Qadoos, said settlers started the scuffle by throwing rocks at him as he was grazing his sheep on village land a few yards from the vineyard, telling him, "You are not allowed here." He and his friends then threw rocks in retaliation, he said, prompting the security guard to shoot him in the back of his leg. His father, Aref Qadoos, added, "They want us to go so they can confiscate the land, through planting."

Though two volunteers were hurt, Mr. Waller said neither he nor his group would be deterred. "People are drawn to our work who believe the Bible is true and desire to participate in the promises of God," he said. "We believe the restoration of Israel, including Samaria and Judea, is part of that promise."

In the last year, he said, he brought 130 volunteers here. This coming year, he said, he expects as many as 400.

Isabel Kershner and Myra Noveck contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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4) Calls to Update Maritime Laws
"Under current law, recoveries for those who die at sea - be it on a rig or a cruise ship - can be limited to funeral expenses."
By BARRY MEIER
July 5, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/business/06seas.html?ref=us

Lawmakers in Washington are fixed on the legal and financial fallout of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on BP and firms like Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank in April.

But a flurry of legislation in Congress could also have sweeping consequences, both intended and unintended, for other industries that work at sea.

One bill in the Senate would put cruise operators in its cross hairs by making it easier for damages to be awarded under the Death on the High Seas Act, which the cruise industry has lobbied hard in the past to keep unchanged.

There are bills in both the Senate and the House that would repeal a law Transocean has cited to cap some of its liabilities - the Limitation of Liability Act. Scrapping that law would also undo protection for companies that operate giant container ships, inland barges, tugs and fishing boats.

Other legislative proposals seek to amend the Jones Act, which governs death and injury claims by seamen, and to nullify the United States Supreme Court's decision in the Exxon Valdez case to allow jurors to mete out large punitive damages against any company involved in a maritime disaster.

Lynda D. Sanford made a trip recently to Washington to support the Senate bill on the Death on the High Seas Act. The proposed changes could make it easier for families of the workers killed on the Deepwater Horizon in April to sue for damages. But Ms. Sanford, an auditor from Atlanta, has no connection to the rig. Instead, she wants the bill extended to relatives of people who die while on cruises, as her mother did in 2001.

Under current law, recoveries for those who die at sea - be it on a rig or a cruise ship - can be limited to funeral expenses. "I have been doing this for nine years and I needed to tell them that victims like my mother had to be included in any bill," Ms. Sanford said.

Some legal experts said the BP debacle had created an opening to modernize the country's maritime laws, which often do not make legal or common sense because they have evolved by being amended in a piecemeal fashion over decades or centuries.

A decade ago, for instance, Congress narrowly amended the Death on the High Seas Act, which was enacted in 1920, to allow survivors of those killed in airline crashes over water to recover more damages. That move followed lobbying of lawmakers by the parents of high school students from Montoursville, Pa., who were killed in 1996 in the crash of TWA Flight 800 in the Atlantic Ocean. Yet the law still sidesteps the issue of deaths on cruise ships.

"You get traction in these things when there is a compelling tragedy," said Robert Force, a professor of maritime law at Tulane University.

For now, most big companies with a stake in the proposed changes see little to gain in being linked to BP's problems and are keeping a watchful eye on Washington while maintaining a low profile. And while several BP-related bills are moving through Congress quickly, it is impossible to say which, if any, will pass or the final shape they may take.

"Things are very fluid as members of Congress are considering a number of options to ensure families of the oil rig victims are taken care of," the Cruise Line Industry Association, a trade group, said in a statement.

Most of the proposed laws are a direct response to the actions of companies involved in the oil spill. For example, a Senate committee voted last Wednesday to end the current $75 million cap for oil spill-related environmental damage under a statute known as the Oil Pollution Act.

Transocean touched off a furor when it invoked another law, the Limitation of Liability Act, to try to limit claims against it arising out of the Deepwater Horizon incident to $26.7 million.

That law limits the total liability of a vessel's owner, apart from pollution-related claims, to the vessel's value, including any money owed to its owner, after an accident like a sinking.

The $26.7 million figure cited by Transocean was based on the money BP owed to it for the rig's services.

The company's filing drew the attention of lawmakers to the Limitation of Liability Act, and soon the Senate and House bills were introduced to repeal it.

Vincent J. Foley, a lawyer in New York who defends shipping companies involved in maritime accidents, said that repealing the law would have consequences far beyond Transocean because the statute was routinely used by operators of vessels like cargo ships, freighters, barges and tug boats. Along with limiting a company's liabilities, it also sets up a process to streamline claims against a vessel owner.

With some of the proposed legislation promising bigger payments to victims' families, a lobbying group for plaintiffs' lawyers, the American Association of Justice, is among those pushing for changes. Several lawyers said they have had to turn down otherwise compelling cases because existing statutes can sharply limit recovery - often in random and scattershot ways.

Some maritime law experts agreed that the laws had created inequities. "The laws are unfair, inconsistent and out of date," said one expert, Thomas C. Galligan Jr., president of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.

As an example, Mr. Galligan offered a hypothetical case of a worker killed in an oil rig explosion. If that rig is on land or fixed in water just off the coast, that worker's family can potentially collect damages related to emotional loss. But if that rig is located farther out to sea, as Deepwater Horizon was, the family cannot do so.

Ms. Sanford said she had run into the same problem after her mother's accident. She said lawyers had told her that there was little to be gained from suing the cruise ship's operator because the Death on the High Seas Act recognized only economic losses, not emotional ones. And because all of her mother's children were grown and no longer dependent on her, there had been no economic loss.

Ms. Sanford, who accompanied her mother on the trip, said she had eventually received some money related to the trauma of her mother's death when she settled her own claims against the cruise's operator. She was injured and her mother drowned when a day tour boat capsized off the coast of Mexico.

Cruise ship operators have long fought against changes to the Death on the High Seas Act, even agreeing last year to back a new federal shipboard safety bill if Congress left the law untouched. But that, and many other laws, are open to new scrutiny as Congress looks for new legislative muscle in the wake of the BP spill.

Last week, the cruise industry's trade association sent a letter to Florida's Congressional delegation urging those lawmakers to oppose proposed amendments to the Death on the High Seas Act that would expand its reach beyond Gulf of Mexico rig workers.

"We are concerned that the bill goes too far," the group said in its letter of June 29, adding the current proposals would "apply to all deaths beyond U.S. waters, including incidents involving foreign nationals."

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5) Study: Recession Has Hit More than Half of Us
By James Parks
"Since the recession began 30 months ago, more than half of all adults in the workforce-55 percent-say that they have either been unemployed, taken a pay cut, had their work hours reduced or have become involuntary part-time workers, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project."
[A link to a downloadable PDF of the full report of the survey is also at this site...bw]
July 2, 2010
http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/07/02/study-recession-has-hit-more-than-half-of-us/

Since the recession began 30 months ago, more than half of all adults in the workforce-55 percent-say that they have either been unemployed, taken a pay cut, had their work hours reduced or have become involuntary part-time workers, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project.

The survey shows the impact of the recession goes far beyond the 9.5 percent of the workforce that is unemployed and the 16.5 percent underemployed. About a third of respondents-32 percent-said they have been unemployed for some period of time during the recession.

The prolonged recession-the longest in recent history-has left a big mark on the country, Paul Taylor, the Pew project director, told ABC News:

What this report demonstrates is the breadth and depth of the impact of this recession on the American public. It's hit almost everybody in one way or another, and two and a half years after it began, people are still feeling the effects. This is still very much with us.

The survey points to the immediate need for action to create jobs and stem the economic hemorrhaging. But Republicans in Congress have refused to act to create jobs, stop layoffs and help the jobless. Writing today on Huffington Post, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says we need a job-centered approach to strengthening the economy. Read Trumka's Huffington Post column "Jobs Should Come First" here.

Here's even more evidence from the Pew survey that action is needed: About half of Americans said their household's current financial situation is worse now than before the recession, and many see a long road to recovery, with 63 percent predicting that it will take them at least three years to recover financially.

The survey also found that the recession has caused consumers to spend and borrow less and lowered their expectations about their retirements and their children's future. More than a quarter of Americans say their children will have a worse standard of living than they now have, compared to just 10 percent a decade ago.

A third of adults now say they are not confident they will have enough income for a secure retirement. Among adults 62 and older who are still working, a third say they have already delayed retirement because of the recession. And among workers in their 50s, about six in10 say they may have to do the same.

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6) Oil seeps into New Orleans' Lake Pontchartrain
By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jul 6, 6:12 pm ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100706/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill

NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans, which managed to escape the oil from the BP spill for more than two months, can't hide any longer.

For the first time since the accident, oil from the ruptured well is seeping into Lake Pontchartrain, threatening another environmental disaster for the huge body of water that was rescued from pollution in 1990s to become, once more, a bountiful fishing ground and a popular spot for boating and swimming.

"Our universe is getting very small," Pete Gerica, president of the Lake Pontchartrain Fishermen's Association, said Tuesday.

Over the July Fourth weekend, tar balls and an oil sheen pushed by strong winds from faraway Hurricane Alex slipped past lines of barges that were supposed to block the passes connecting the Gulf of Mexico to the lake.

State authorities closed the lake's eastern reaches to fishing on Monday, though most of it remained open. Barges were lined up at bayous and passes to stop the oil from coming in, and cleanup crews Tuesday used nets to collect tar balls from marinas and docks. They also planned to lay out 9,000 feet of special permeable booms. But the lake was too choppy for skimmer vessels to operate.

About 1,700 pounds of oily waste has been collected, said Suzanne Parsons Stymiest, a spokeswoman for St. Tammany Parish.

The amount of oil infiltrating 600-square-mile Lake Pontchartrain (pronounced PAHN-chuh-trayn) appears small so far. And tests on seafood have not turned up any oil contamination, said Brian Lezina, a state biologist. But the pollution is distressing to the many people in Louisiana who have a deep attachment to the lake.

"You won't hear songs about a lot of the marshes in south Louisiana, but you will hear songs about Lake Pontchartrain," Lezina said.

Out in the Gulf, meanwhile, stormy weather kept skimmers from working offshore Tuesday for yet another day and delayed the hookup of a big new ship intended to suck more crude from the gushing well. Also, the arrival of a Navy blimp intended to hover above the relief effort was delayed until Friday.

Tar balls from the spill also washed up on Texas beaches over the holiday weekend, meaning the disaster now touches all five Gulf Coast states, spanning more than 500 miles of coastline.

Lake Pontchartrain, named for the French count of Pontchartrain during the reign of Louis XIV, is on the northern edge of the city. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico by two main passes: the Rigolets, a winding passage of about 10 miles, and the Chef Menteur, around nine miles long.

For centuries, it has been a playground, a source of seafood and a backdoor route to New Orleans for invading British troops and hurricane storm surge.

Until the 1970s, its shores were a top destination for city folks who took streetcars and buses to the lake to swim and to dine at restaurants that cooked up the lake's crabs and other seafood. They played in penny arcades and rode the Zephyr roller coaster at the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park.

But pollution shut down the swimming and chased away marine life, and the amusement park closed in the early 1980s.

The lake's restoration included a ban on commercial clam dredging and new regulations governing urban runoff. Slowly, the lake revived. In recent years, sightings of dolphins and manatees have delighted locals, and commercial and recreational fishing is thriving.

About 60 commercial fishermen catch blue crabs and shrimp in the lake, and scores of sport fishermen can be found on any given day reeling in speckled trout, redfish, flounder, black drum and sheepshead.

"Even the people involved in the restoration didn't believe it could be restored. It was completely written off. It was thought to be an impossible task," said John Lopez, a scientist with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, which led the restoration effort. "It has been a dramatic turnabout."

The oil could be the second setback in five years. Hurricane Katrina knocked out seafood docks and lakeside restaurants in 2005. The lake's water quality also took a hit when the Army Corps of Engineers drained the city's contaminated floodwaters into the lake.

"So far, this stuff has been offshore for the majority of the population in the southeastern portion of Louisiana," Anne Rheams, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, said of the oil spill. "This is bringing it closer to home."

Gerica, like the dozens of other commercial fishermen who use the lake, planned to pick up his crab traps as soon as the weather cleared.

Anthony Montalbano Jr., the chef and owner of II Tony's, an Italian seafood restaurant next to the lake, said it has been a struggle to stay open. Katrina swamped his restaurant at Bucktown, a lakeside community in New Orleans that has the feel of a bayou town.

"This was going to be our best year since Katrina for sure, but not now," Montalbano said as the TV in the bar showed an ad for a law firm suing BP.

Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman and Tom Breen in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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7) Louisiana and Scientists Spar Over How to Stop Oil
[This article exemplifies the facts that, 1, they have no idea how to keep the oil from contaminating the wetlands; and 2, instead of working together to find solutions, they are fighting each other; and 3, since numbers 1 and 2 are true, they have no business drilling offshore for oil in the first place...bw]
By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF
July 6, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/science/earth/07rocks.html?ref=us

With oil hitting Barataria Bay, a vast estuary in southeast Louisiana that boasts one of the most productive fisheries in the country, local parish officials hatched a plan in May to save the fragile ecosystem: they would build rock dikes across several major tidal inlets between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico to block and then capture the oil.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana supported the plan, and BP agreed to pay for the project, estimated to cost $30 million. By early June, about 100,000 tons of rock began being loaded onto barges on the Mississippi River for transport to the coast.

But over the weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the project, citing environmental concerns, in particular the potential for the rock barriers to cause widespread erosion and the breaching of Barataria Bay's existing barrier islands. The ruling echoed the sentiments of independent experts on coastal wetlands who had strongly objected to the plan.

Now the rock sits on 75 barges on the Mississippi River with no immediate use.

As the gulf oil spill enters its third month, Louisiana officials have grown increasingly enamored of large-scale engineering projects, like sand berms and rock walls, to keep the oil off their coast. But these projects, which demand the swift restructuring of eastern Louisiana's dynamic and fragile coast, have brought the desires of state and local officials into sharp conflict not only with a complicated federal bureaucracy charged with protecting wetlands and estuaries, but also with an experienced and highly vocal community of local coastal scientists.

"They're just sitting back criticizing," said Deano Bonano, the emergency-preparedness director for Jefferson Parish, which borders Barataria Bay. "Where are they when it comes to protecting this bay?"

In a speech on Tuesday in New Orleans, Mr. Jindal said: "No one can convince us that rocks in the water are more dangerous than oil. That is absolutely ridiculous. The only people who believe that are the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., who can't see the oil, smell the oil or touch the oil."

The scientists insist the rock plan was misguided.

"There was very strong scientific backing for not doing this," said Denise Reed, a wetlands specialist and director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences in New Orleans. "This could really devastate our barrier shoreline, our first line of defense."

For decades, the independent experts have worked hand-in-hand with the state and the federal government to save and restore Louisiana's wetlands, which have lostroughly 1.2 million of acres to erosion since the 1930s and continue to disappear at the rate of 25 square miles every year.

It was these experts, along with their scientific peers in federal agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, who offered the strongest opposition to the proposed rock barrier. Many of those critiques were included in supporting documents released by the Army Corps of Engineers before the official ruling was announced.

The scientists explained to the corps how narrowing the inlets with rock would set the stage for the breaching of existing barrier islands during the region's frequent storms. They warned that damage to these islands - which have buffered the impact of major storms like Hurricane Katrina - would prove difficult to repair, perhaps impossible, and would most likely outstrip any benefit to the wetlands gained by stopping the oil with the rock barriers.

Having raised their voices in objection, these coastal experts now bristle at the accusation that they are out-of-touch academics or pencil-pushing bureaucrats, as state and local officials have charged.

"It's really offensive, I think, and not fair, to call the scientific community bureaucrats," said Dr. Ioannis Y. Georgiu, a professor of marine engineering at the University of New Orleans. "We are being demonized."

Yet by siding with federal agencies blamed from the beginning of the spill for a slow-footed and chaotic response - and for which resentment still lingers over the failings of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina - these coastal scientists have made themselves easy targets for leaders eager to portray themselves as stopping at nothing in the fight against the oil. For these politicians, swifter action is crucial.

"You don't wait weeks and weeks for studies and federal permits in the middle of a war," Mr. Jindal, a Republican, said in a speech on July 2. "You do what you need to do as quickly as possible to protect your land and your people."

The local scientists argue that quick-fix solutions are being sold to the public with little firm evidence that they will succeed, and with potentially dire side effects being minimized and ignored. A lack of engagement of the scientific community has also bred frustration. On the rock barrier plan, for instance, coastal experts were consulted only after a local engineering firm had drafted the permit application and orders had been placed for thousands of tons of rock to dump in the inlets.

"We've got such a coastal brain trust here, and they're being left out in the cold," said Dr. Len Bahr, a coastal scientist and former director of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Activities. "To me that's just unconscionable."

Some coastal experts concede that the scientific community has been more reactive than proactive regarding the spill, and has often waited to be consulted on solutions rather than offering up its own innovative ideas to keep oil off the coast, a criticism that local officials have echoed.

"We want to prevent the damage - we don't want to clean it up," Mr. Bonano, the emergency-preparedness director, said. "That's the big difference between us and them."

As charges fly back and forth, the prospect for a détente between the federal government and the coastal science community on the one hand and state and local officials on the other remains cloudy at best. Even with the rock plan soundly rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers, officials in Louisiana, from the governor's office down, continue to argue that the plan to build the rock dikes was scientifically sound, and vow to carry on their fight to see it carried out.

Mr. Jindal said in a statement Tuesday that officials would resubmit the plan.

"We've made countless revisions," said Garret Graves, the director of the governor's Office of Coastal Activities. "We jumped through all these hoops to address their concerns, only to wait a month and be rejected."

Mr. Jindal's office has also said the governor will keep pressing for the rock barrier.

Coastal scientists, for their part, say they are ready to start investigating other options for stopping the movement of oil into the bay.

"I just wish the energy would go into looking for alternatives, not into just banging on the table," Dr. Reed, of the Pontchartrain Institute, said. "Laying rock across passes is not the only way to stop the oil from getting into the marshes."

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8) Spill, Baby, Spill: Capitalism Gone Wild
By Bonnie Weinstein
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/

On a beautiful early autumn day last year we had a unique visitor to our back yard ponds. I noticed a giant bird perched on my neighbor's roof. At first, I thought it was a plastic bird, until it moved. It was a Great Blue Heron. The magnificent creature stayed around for about four days hopping from roof to roof intent upon catching my neighbor's Koi. The Great Blue Heron would have had no trouble catching our gold fish if it weren't for our dogs. The Great Blue Heron seemed especially pleased when perched just out of reach looking straight into our dog's big, round eyes. The bird did, however, swoop effortlessly into our neighbor's yard where there were no dogs, but bigger fish. Now, in the Gulf, these magnificent creatures, along with thousands of other species, are being threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil-volcano, disaster.

Day by day, estimates of the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf are pushed higher-it's now estimated to be 100,000 barrels a day-with no end to the man-made eruption in sight. This is a catastrophe of monumental proportions that will have an impact on life on earth for decades, if not centuries, to come. And, in spite of a temporary six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, they have plans to keep on drilling and spilling on land and sea all over the world.

In his speech from the Oval Office June 15, President Obama stressed that he would see to it that BP would pay for the damages and the clean up. Unfortunately, no amount of money-not even $20 billion-can compensate a child for the loss of a parent or a Great Blue Heron for a loss of its habitat. The obvious is ignored-the oceans are connected to fresh water, air and all life on Earth. That's where rain comes from and what all life on Earth depends upon.

A new Manhattan Project

What is so terrifying about this disaster is the total impotence of both the government and the oil companies to stop the gusher, clean up the catastrophic mess, or to quit the drilling. In fact, their solution to the spill is to drill what are euphemistically called, "relief wells" that could compound the disaster-they have no proof the "relief wells" will stop the gusher-it's a "guesstimate," at best and, at worst, may cause an even more catastrophic event.

Astonishingly, all of this is being left up to the profit-guzzling "experts" at BP-the very same "experts" who caused this ecological disaster! It is particularly telling that there has been no general call for a Manhattan-type project to deal with this corporate and government-sponsored disaster.

Logic and reason would dictate calling together the best scientific minds in the world, in cooperation with the workers on the rigs themselves who are intimately familiar with their operations, to figure out the best way to proceed-a kind of "Manhattan Project"-to save lives, not to end them.

From 1942-1946 over 130,000 scientists and engineers directed by American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, with a budget of over two billion dollars ($22 billion in today's terms) were brought together to develop the first atomic bombs that led to the death of millions of Japanese.1 This massive project was meant to prove that when the U.S. wanted to get a job done, the sky's the limit. Yet today, to save life, they find, their pockets are empty. No such "experts" have been called together. No such funds have been put into use. No such effort is being made. And it will take such a massive effort if we are to recover from this disaster, if, indeed, we can.

International capital and war

According to a May 23, 2010 article by David Randall and Margareta Pagano that appeared in the Independent, UK, titled "The Black Hole at the Bottom of the Gulf, No One Seems to Know the Extent of the BP Disaster,"2 "Supplying the U.S. army with oil is one of BP's biggest markets, and further exploration in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico is part of its long-term strategy."

As the oceans, land and shorelines are connected, the oil companies extraction of the oil and the armies they fuel, are indelibly and intimately connected. Both devastate human life and the environment. Both, with blatant indifference, depend upon human cannon fodder-the soldiers of war and the soldiers of industry-to carry out their goals.

On Friday, May 28, 2010, I was listening to a live broadcast of the U.S. Minerals Management Service and Coast Guard hearing on the Deepwater Horizon "incident." When I tuned in to the live stream on the Internet, a Horizon oil rig worker was giving testimony of what he observed at the time of the first explosion until he jumped off the rig. He was being questioned about emergency training procedures, frequency of safety drills, responsibilities of safety officers, what his duties were, as well as the details he observed at the time of the explosions.

Two things were clear from his testimony. First, all the fire drills in the world will not prepare you when everything just explodes, tearing out walls, ceilings and floors and sending fire plumes 500 feet in the air. Second, that safety was the least of the concerns of the corporate bosses running the rig. Increasing oil production levels was, and is, their primary concern. In fact, the main research BP was doing focused on how to drill in even deeper waters!

And ironically, the Senate, the day before the U.S. Minerals Management Service hearing, approved a $60 billion dollar allotment to pay for continuing military operations in Afghanistan
and Iraq.3

President Obama has left these same corporations that have U.S. military contracts to supply the oil needed to carry out these wars, in charge of managing the disaster and recovery operations in the Gulf.

However, their experience is in drilling and extracting, not in stopping spills or cleaning them up. In a May 28, 2010 New York Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal titled, "Our Fix-It Faith and the Oil Spill,"4 "As BP struggled last week to stanch the flow of spewing oil at the Deepwater Horizon rig, it has become clear that the pressure to dig deeper and faster from what Mr. Eyton then called a 'frontier province' of oil exploration has in some ways outpaced the knowledge about how to do that safely. (And there is still the question of whether BP used all the tools and safety mechanisms available.)"

Both the wars and the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe are preventable, corporate-made, human and environmental disasters of massive proportions. The difference between the two is that we could stop the wars immediately. Unfortunately, with all their "experience" and "expertise" neither BP, Transocean, Ltd., Halliburton, nor the U.S. government have a clue as to how to stop this out-of-control volcano of oil or how to clean it up-especially since the damage to the workers, the ocean, the shores and the estuaries has already been done-and with more oil on the way!

Can energy extraction ever be safe?

Rational and intelligent logic would dictate that safety can't be left in the hands of those who profit from energy extraction-whatever its form. Before trying such dangerous and potentially catastrophic techniques for energy extraction, a rational society would gather the best minds not connected in any way to the profiteering corporations-including the men and women who actually do the work in those industries and who take all the risks-to weigh-in on the feasibility of doing it safely. And before risks are taken, a rational society would take stock and review ways to cut down on the need for expanding energy extraction by doing things like ending the wars and manufacturing for safety, energy conservation and extending the durability of manufactured goods.

Money changes everything

All rational planning falls by the wayside under capitalist production for profit. The wars and the oil that supplies them safeguards the right of the wealthy micro-minority to privately accumulate huge reserves of wealth. To do this they must be able to go wherever there are resources to procure, to protect their wealth, fuel their military and ensure their ability to accumulate even more profits.

All decisions are based on one criterion-whether or not they will increase profits. Businesses and their puppet governments make their decisions based on this criterion. They are incapable of rational and reasonable thinking. Every money-saving shortcut will be taken no matter what the risk if it increases profit. That's why they are still planning to drill and spill even in the face of this devastating catastrophe.

In order to bring the best scientific minds together to solve the crisis that capitalist exploitation has brought about on every continent and in every industry, the capitalists and their paid puppet governments the world over must be bypassed, disarmed, and dethroned, and the masses of working people must come together and take the helm for the good of all.

Capitalism has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, incapable of fixing this disaster or preventing more. They have proven that they will not stop their pursuit of energy and the power it can buy them no matter what the cost.

Will we witness the extinction of the Great Blue Heron-or all life on Earth? That answer lies with us.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project

2 "The Black hole at the Bottom of the Gulf

No One Seems to Know the Extent of the BP Disaster,"

"Supplying the US army with oil is one of BP's biggest markets, and further exploration in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico is part of its long-term strategy."

By David Randall and Margareta Pagano

Sunday, May 23, 2010

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-black-hole-at-the-bottom-of-the-gulf-1980693.html

3 "Senate Approves Nearly $60 Billion for Wars"

By CARL HULSE

May 27, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/28/us/politics/28cong.html?ref=us

4 "Our Fix-It Faith and the Oil Spill"

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

May 28, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/weekinreview/30rosenthal.html?hp

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9) Colombian Army Attacks Striking BP Workers
By Claire Hall
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_12.html

A five-month long mobilization against BP in the Casanare region of Colombia has escalated after the Colombian army entered the BP installations with force this week and confronted workers who have been peacefully occupying BP installations since May 23 to protest BP´s failure to conclude negotiations with the workers and community.

At midday on Wednesday a heavily armed commando group of the National Colombian Army leapt over the security fence of the Tauramena Central Processing Facility and subjected the group of workers to physical and verbal aggression. Oscar Garcia, of the National Oil Workers Union said, "this war-like handling of a group of workers is an excessive use of force and treats a labor conflict as though it were an issue of public order. This shows how BP is bent on war against workers who are only demanding that their fundamental rights be respected."1

The calm response by the striking workers brought the situation temporarily under control but the army remains present and tensions are high. Colombia continues to have the highest level of trade union murders in the world with 17 trade unionists murdered so far this year.

"It is no secret that since BP arrived in the early nineties we have not been able to organize workers until now due to the presence of paramilitary groups operating in the oil fields," said Edgar Mojica from the National Oil Workers Union.

At night workers sleep chained to machinery under temporary shelters as a precaution against any further attempts to violently remove them.

"BP thinks that we will give up, tired and afraid but we will put up with these conditions as this is a struggle for everyone," said Ramiro from the Movement for Dignity of Casanare. "We will only leave here when BP signs an agreement on salary increases, more dignified working conditions, security guarantees for all involved in the mobilizations, and honors the pre-agreements made in the environmental, human rights, social investment and goods and services commissions."

The workers are saddened but not surprised at the measures they are forced to take to try to reach agreements with BP. The mobilization started in February of this year. Workers were forced to take direct action and block access roads to BP's installations after the oil corporation refused to recognize the workers rights to a union and to a collective bargaining agreement. The blockades were violently attacked by ESMAD, the notorious Colombian riot police, in an operation to end the protest.2

This is not the first time that civil society movements against BP have been met with violence. In 2003, communities protested against BP, demanding action on ecological, social and labor issues. BP refused to negotiate. In the months following community leaders involved in the mobilization were assassinated (2004, Oswaldo Vargas; 2005, Parmenio Parra).3 Furthermore, a preliminary public hearing held in 2007 in the UK on BP's activities in Colombia confirmed that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that BP has a case to answer that it is complicit in the extermination of social organizations in Casanare as part of direct strategy to maximize profits."4

Despite the history of repression, the response to the ESMAD attack in February was overwhelming. Two thousand people marched in support, fifteen more road blockades spontaneously sprung up, and community members and local businesses joined the strike and the Movement for the Dignity of Casanare was born. BP was forced to listen and agreed to participate in the five commissions. Popular assemblies where held to decide on the bargaining demands which were later presented to BP on March 23. However, after two months of dialogue, the labor commission had made no advances and the current strike began.

Casanare is a region characterized by extreme levels of poverty, in spite of the oil that flows out of the region to the United States. This poverty has been worsened by the environmental degradation caused by the oil exploration and extraction, and the subsequent contamination and loss of water sources, according to local farmers whose livelihoods depend on water.

"We have heard about the BP incident in the USA. We send our condolences to the families and fellow workers of those who died due to the failure of BP to take the necessary measures to ensure safe operations and protect the lives of people working for them," said Garcia of the National Oil Workers Union. "Here in Colombia, BP has also shown their lack of respect for life. They have brought about a war that has left over 9000 people dead."

He added, "We categorically hold BP to blame for this latest catastrophe in the USA and we demand that BP repairs to the extent possible the damage they have caused. We extend our solidarity to the North American people affected and we ask for your solidarity with the Casanarean people and you are welcome to visit and see how things are here."

BP continues to provide support to the 16th Brigade, which was created in 1991 in order to provide security to the oilfields in Casanare. They have a long, cruel and documented history of human rights violations, including: extrajudicial executions, disappearances, murders, torture, rape and the forced displacement of campesino communities. However the grave humanitarian crisis in Casanare and its relationship to the oil industry-in particular to BP-is not deterring the Movement for the Dignity of Casanare.

"Despite BP´s misinformation campaign we are determined and united and we will keep resisting with dignity," said Ramiro. "And if we can unite with people from the USA we will be even stronger and achieve much more."

-upsidedownworld.org, June 4, 2010

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/colombia-archives-61/2524-colombian-army-attacks-striking-bp-workers

1http://usofrenteobrero.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=840:arremetida-del-ejercito-nacional-contra-trabajadores-en-tauramena-casanare&catid=35:nacional&Itemid=143

2http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/events/26-upcoming-events/493-police-assault-bp-oil-workers-in-colombia

3http://espacio.org.uk/bp/CasanareMission2007Report.pdf

4http://espacio.org.uk/bp/PUBLIC_DECLARATION_Glasgow.pdf

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10) Capitalist Production and the Earth's Imperative
By Bonnie Weinstein
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_13.html

A common myth is that the average working person in the U.S. is selfish and refuses to give up dependence on oil and the material things that are produced from it or fueled by it. Some are calling for everyone to "reduce their dependency on oil." To, "reduce his or her carbon footprint," as if this were a personal choice each individual could make. Of course, to a certain extent, all of us could be more "fuel conscious." We can recycle our paper and plastics; compost our food scraps; properly dispose of hazardous waste; start a garden. But we can't all ride bicycles or grow our own produce.

Vastly overriding and dwarfing the ecological benefits of these "personal choices" is the massive pollution output of capitalist industry. From the procurement of natural resources of every kind necessary for product production to the actual manufacturing of the products themselves, capitalist industry is not only heedless of the safety of workers or the environment, but is intentionally and criminally wasteful of both labor and material resources.

In the past three months, I have had to throw away a year-old, electric coffee maker, a three-month-old electric coffee grinder and now, my screw-on water filter attached to my kitchen sink is literally coming apart at the seams-water squirts from every seam in the unit-and it holds only its third filter change. These breakdowns aren't flukes or anomalies. The products sold to workers are planned and engineered not to last so that they have to constantly be replaced.

We recently replaced our refrigerator-a "harvest gold" model from the '60s already over 35 years old before it finally broke down. When we purchased a new one, the salesman told us that it would last no more than eight years. Then he recommended we buy an insurance policy for the new fridge in case it breaks down sooner. We had to pay a couple of hundred dollars extra to warranty the thing for three more years.

Of course, what we're talking about is built-in obsolescence-the design and manufacture of products so that they break down and need replacement often. That's why the salesman knew the fridge would only last eight years-they built it to last only eight years.

If it weren't a common experience in the daily life of masses of people it would sound like a fantastic conspiracy theory. But we have grown to expect products to break down and to have to be replaced-even the big-ticket items like new homes and cars. New homes built in the price range most workers can afford today are "disposable housing" designed to start falling apart in about ten years-the foundations crack, the pipes leak, the tile pops off the bathroom walls, the electricity rots out, the appliances burn out. It's the same with cars.

The truth is, working people do NOT get what they pay for. Products that cost more are generally better made and last longer and/or run more efficiently. But these products are out of price-range for most working people. So, working people buy what they can afford, not the best quality.

Workers have no choice in the matter

This mundane and wasteful system of production has profound ramifications and exposes a fundamental flaw of capitalism-a flaw that will plunge humanity into the dark ages-if we cannot replace it with a society that produces for need and want and not for profit.

Workers do not have the choice on the production line to produce things that last any more than the Deepwater Horizon or any worker's safety warnings will be heeded. These things are out of the realm of concern for the bosses because adherence to quality or safety standards stands in the way of the pursuit of profit. That's why the Deepwater Horizon workers' safety warnings were ignored and why products are manufactured to break down within a pre-determined length of time no matter what the human or environmental cost may be. Anything that increases profits is on the table; anything that decreases profits is out, even if life-human or otherwise-is at stake.

Huge amounts of resources are wasted in the production of inferior goods. Still more waste is produced in packaging these inferior products for sale. Our garbage dumps are filled with "bubble plastic" containers that are frequently six-times the size of the object they contain in an effort to prevent theft-even if the packaging cost more than the product enclosed.

Instead of making sure our drinking water is safe and clean in the first place, they use huge amounts of fossil fuels to package drinking water into plastic bottles-bottles themselves that end up in landfills or in giant clusters in our oceans. Bottles that often contain toxic chemicals and poisons that contaminate the very water they hold!

In what realm is it rational to design corn or soy so that its offspring produces infertile seeds so the farmer can't just save some seed for next season but must buy new seed each year from the company that copyrights its impotent product?

Even in the light of this most horrendous disaster in the Gulf, that has already done irreparable damage, the oil rigs under temporary drilling moratorium are planning to move to other parts of the world where they have no such prohibitions. Whether it's safe or not is not in their realm of concerns. They are free to cross any and all borders in the pursuit of more profit. They make the laws that govern their own operations.

Good guys verses bad guys

Capitalism is out of control not because of the personalities of the individuals that are in its commanding heights, but because of its fundamental driving force-the pursuit of private profit. Personality has nothing to do with it.

A rational society-a democratically organized socialist society-would have as its fundamental concern what is in the best interests of the most. All industry would be re-tooled for efficiency, safety, and quality. The goal would be to produce the best, the highest quality and most durable, using the least amount of resources, instead of figuring out how to make a product break down so they can sell more.

We have all the technology available to us to figure out what is needed to feed, house, educate ourselves and nurture our environment if only we could concentrate on those things instead of how to turn a greater profit for a tiny minority of profit holders; and to fuel the never-ending wars waged to protect their right to horde those profits.

We know how to build buildings and bridges that last centuries because such structures are still standing today. We know how to rationally produce and distribute the most nutritious foods to stem starvation. We know how to keep our water clean and our air breathable and our oceans bountiful. It takes more care; more planning; more communication and cooperation-it takes indifference to private profits and attention to safety, human needs and wants.

Capitalism's insatiable dependency on the plunder of natural resources located across the globe are directly linked to its wasteful production for profit and indifference to these basic human needs, which includes the need for an environment conducive to life.

No doubt, tremendous damage to our environment; to the world's infrastructure; to diverse species necessary for the survival of the entire planet, has already been done. Certainly, a massive effort must be undertaken to reign in the chaos and devastation capitalism has wrought over the centuries if we are to save our planet and make it safe for life again.

In order to accomplish this ultimate goal we must take matters into our own hands and make these decisions together and for the good of all. That's what socialism is, plain and simple. Socialism is Earth's imperative.

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11) Bloody Sunday: Put Britain in the Dock
By Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_23.html

The outcome of the Saville inquiry has been published. A second British prime minister has apologized for the killing of unarmed and innocent protesters. This time the British government acknowledged the actions of members of the British army were unjustified and unjustifiable.

Prosecutions of individual foot soldiers are unlikely. Their own testimony cannot be used, and almost 40 years after the event, prosecution will raise a whole new series of concerns and debate about human rights violations oppressive litigation, and the application of the terms of the peace agreements. A respected human rights lawyer has already offered their services in prosecuting the real culprit, the British state. But Lord Saville has exonerated the state.

I was on the speaker's platform on Bloody Sunday. Despite burying the images in some deep mental archive, Bloody Sunday refuses to fade or mellow in my consciousness. Initially, disbelief gave way to fear, horror, anger, and then detachment. Finally, I was angry only with myself.

My political analysis had until then discounted any real belief-despite the long history of Anglo-Irish conflict-that the British government would countenance killing the people in order to suppress the protests. Now that it had happened, it made sense to me that it had always been going to happen and would continue; it was fundamental to the nature of the British state in Ireland. I felt I should have known that, and now I did, I was still up for the fight.

The key impact of Bloody Sunday was that a whole generation made a similar analysis and this fuelled some 25 years of violent, political conflict, at least tolerated by the majority of the "minority population" and actively pursued by a significant but sustainable minority. It is responsibility for this legacy that sets Bloody Sunday apart from subsequent atrocities on all sides.

As a member of parliament at the time, I was denied the right to give parliament an eyewitness account. The home secretary, Reginald Maudling, lied to the House and the media willingly collaborated in uncritically repeating the government misrepresentation. In what was considered gross overreaction and disgracefully violent behavior, I crossed the floor of the House and hit him.

I did not call for a public inquiry, did not welcome the Saville inquiry and only testified to respect the wishes of the bereaved families. I regret none of those things, but challenge the view that it was an expensive waste of time, energy and money. Had Bloody Sunday been no more than a violent and disgraceful overreaction or unlawful behavior on the part of a few "squaddies" or overzealous commanders, it would not have required the British government and its military to create the complicated labyrinth of lies and deceit which has taken hundreds of testimonies, thousands of pages, millions of pounds and 38 years to unravel.

The Bloody Sunday Trust and the bereaved families have shown great stamina and courage in their quest for disclosure and truth. Respectfully, however, Bloody Sunday isn't just about the families or how the 13 individuals lost their lives that day; the 14th dying later of his wounds. It is about whether the British government committed a war crime in 1972 and in so doing started a war. It is the British government, not their anonymous and brutalized soldiers of their alphabet army who should be in the dock, at the international court of justice at The Hague. If Saville has closed that route to truth and justice, the British government will consider it worth every penny.

Had the British state been speedily held to account at The Hague, things might have been different for a lot of people, not least for nine Turkish human rights activists on their way to Gaza. They might not have been so confidently slaughtered by the state of Israel.

-guardian.co.uk, June 15, 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/15/bloody-sunday-report-saville-inquiry

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12) Race and Law in the USA
By Kevin Cooper
July/August 2010
http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/julaug_10/julaug_10_34.html

We who oppose Arizona's new immigration/race law policy have a real and historic reason to do so. This policy is not new to non-white peoples within this country.

Nothing in this country is really "new," Most "new" laws have a real life history in this country, especially whenever it comes to land, wealth, water, freedom, and yes, citizenship, to name a few.

These supposedly new laws have been on the shelf, and have been dusted off and given a new name and are being reused by the same type of people who first brought them to light and life and used them back in the day.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries there were only two types of Black people in this country. There were Free Blacks, and Slaves. Both had to carry papers with them so that if they were stopped by certain white men, their status could be determined.

Yet many a Black man and Black woman who were supposedly free found themselves arrested, even though they had papers stating their status as Free Black people. Some found themselves on the auction block and sold into slavery. Why? Because their skin was just as Black as the people who were enslaved. There were certain white men who could not tell the difference between the black skin of a free person and the black skin of a slave. To that certain type of white person, "Black is Black!"

Now, in the 21st century, Latinos are facing this same kind of thing, but under a different name. Certain white people cannot, or will not, differentiate the Brown skin of "legal Latinos from that of "illegal Latinos." To them, "Brown is Brown!"

Having papers that prove U.S. citizenship doesn't mean that those Latinos will be protected from illegal and inhumane treatment by the same type of people in the 21st century that denied Free Blacks, enslaved Blacks, the Indigenous peoples to whom this land once belonged, Asians, and all other poor people throughout the tortured history of this country!

Race and the Law do not make sense most of the time, not in the past, nor here in the present, and not in the future. But it's not designed to make sense. It's designed to keep certain groups of people down where the powers that be have designated them to be within society. Or, as with the cases of slaves and undocumented immigrants, outside of that society!

Kevin Cooper is an innocent man sentenced to death, but continuing to fight for justice from his death row cell in San Quentin prison in California. His Address is:

Kevin Cooper
C.65304 4EB82
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94964

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13) "Deep Spill 2" sounds like a sequel to a Hollywood thriller.
If Only Information Flowed as Freely as Oil
by Amy Goodman
Published on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 by TruthDig.com
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/07-4

Unfortunately, it is more of a reality show. "Deep Spill 2" is the name of an ambitious series of proposed scientific experiments that should be happening right now. Scientists from around the globe are ready, literally, to dive in to understand what is happening with the oil and gas that are spewing into the Gulf of Mexico with the force of a volcano.

There is one problem, though: BP won't let them.

Ira Leifer is a scientist on the government-appointed Flow Rate Technical Group and a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He organized a team of scientists to develop intensive study of the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher, since so little is known about how oil and gas behave underwater, especially at the depths and temperatures one mile below the surface. The group of scientists presented the plan to BP, which ignored them, then to Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Markey wrote to BP on June 10:

"My understanding is that BP has not yet responded to Dr. Leifer's request to make direct flow measurement. ... I request that you provide whatever budget and ROV [robotic vehicle] access is needed to allow these scientists to deploy their measurement activities."

A month later, Dr. Leifer told me: "We have heard nothing from BP. ... Other scientists I know who are doing and trying to do research find themselves blocked at every turn from actually learning what we need to know so we can address this spill safely."

Ten years ago, scientists conducted "Deep Spill 1," a limited, 750-barrel controlled release off the coast of Norway, to study deep-sea oil spill phenomena. The lack of scientific knowledge of deep-water oil disasters allows BP officials like Tony Hayward to pronounce, as he did in late May, that "The oil is on the surface. ... There aren't any plumes."

So, while BP scientists, executives and public relations experts produce sound bites with their own fake "news teams," the world's leading experts are being shut out by BP itself.

Also shut out in the BP Gulf disaster are the media. The Coast Guard has announced new rules keeping the public, including photographers and reporters covering the spill, from coming within 65 feet of any response vessels or booms on the water or on beaches. Violators could face a fine of up to $40,000 and felony charges. In order to get within the 65-foot limit, media must get direct permission from the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans.

The 65-foot limit follows the rule requiring overhead flights with media to stay above 3,000 feet. Just like the Bush administration barring photographs of flag-draped coffins, the Obama administration seems to be colluding with BP to limit the images of the disaster. With current rules, and with photographers potentially facing felony charges, you can expect far fewer photos and videos of oil-soaked pelicans and dying sea turtles. You probably likely see fewer overhead close-ups showing how woefully inadequate the cleanup is, as 4 million gallons of oil jet into the Gulf every day.

Stories of denial of media access accumulate like tar balls on the beach (which have now made their way into Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain and to beaches in Texas). "PBS NewsHour" reporters were repeatedly denied access to a Department of Health and Human Services "National Disaster Medical System" trailer, ringed with barbed wire. A "CBS Evening News" crew on a boat was accosted by another boat with five BP contractors and two U.S. Coast Guard members, and denied access to an oil-drenched beach.

Dr. Leifer sees reporting as an essential part of the overall process:

"Reporters having access is part of the learning process as a society so that when there are accidents in the future, we actually can respond intelligently and not with a lot of unknown assumptions."

If only BP and the federal government allowed information to flow as freely as the oil, we might well be on the road to dealing with this catastrophe.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
(c) 2010 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 800 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the "Alternative Nobel" prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

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14) Obama's Orphaned Science Integrity and Transparency Pledge
Promised Rules for Scientific Whistleblowers One Year Overdue and Counting
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2010
10:14 AM
CONTACT: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/07/08-1

WASHINGTON - July 8 - Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the date when new rules to protect federal scientists and science from political interference were supposed to have been in place. As a result, federal scientists continue to report the same sort of suppression and skewing of scientific and technical reports by agency managers that occurred under the George W. Bush administration, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Memorandum to all federal departments and agencies declaring his intent to adopt policies that protect scientific integrity. The accompanying White House fact sheet described the action as addressing "one of the President's key campaign commitments on science policy, which was to 'restore scientific integrity in government decision making.'" That order directed the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop proposed policies for Presidential action by July 9, 2009. That deadline has long since lapsed with no new due date and without a cogent explanation for the delay.

"The atmosphere under Obama for federal scientists remains largely unchanged from the Bush era," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization works with federal scientists seeking to remedy scientific misconduct and political obfuscation. "Federal agency science is still manipulated for political reasons largely because there are still no rules against it."

The muddled federal response to the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico illustrates a lack of scientific transparency and candor in agency decision-making. Key examples include -

* Without any scientific undergirding, EPA approved widespread application of oil dispersants deep underwater, despite the fact that these chemicals were designed for surface application. EPA even lacked baseline information about oil droplet size, the information it would need to measure just how effective the dispersant is at breaking up the oil slicks;
* The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has flip-flopped on release of scientific observations about the size and nature of swelling underwater oil plumes; and
* EPA also lacks information about dioxin and other toxic byproducts of burning large expanses of oil in the Gulf.

"The BP spill shows Obama officials displaying scientific opacity, not transparency in futile attempts at damage control and news management," Ruch added. "The Obama White House is seemingly so devoted to message control that it cannot tolerate discordant, off-message transparency."

In addition, Obama policies still embrace many of the hallmarks of what had been Bush practices, such as gag orders on scientists, allowing industry to control information submitted to the government (for example, much of the data oil companies submit to the former Minerals Management Service cannot be circulated even for purposes of peer review) and resisting Freedom of Information Act requests for technical information.

See the 2009 Obama Executive Memorandum:
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1195

Look at continuing absence of rules against manipulation of science :
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1344

Note the prevalence of gag orders on federal workers:
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1298

View how MMS is bound by industry proprietary data rules:
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1291

Revisit how EPA tries to shield scientific debate from public scrutiny:
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1325

###

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.

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15) Lessons From Brazilian Oil Spill
By Gabriel Elizondo
Published on Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Al Jazeera English
http://www.commondreams.org/video/2010/07/08-0

I wanted to see the effects of an oil spill years later, so I came to Guanabara Bay near Rio de Janeiro.

It was here 10 years ago that 1.3 million litres of oil leaked from an underwater pipeline smothering in oil birds, sandy beaches, and much of the mangrove swaps that surround Guanabara Bay.

It was a major environmental catastrophe.

"The spill in 2000 on Guanabara Bay was one of the most serious and severe accidents in the environmental history of Brazil," Breno Herrera, the head of the federal governments environment office that oversees Guanabara Bay, told me recently during an interview.

Before I go any further, it's important to understand the bay is huge. The perimeter is almost 150km long and there are dozens of little islands inside the bay.

Guanabara Bay is legendary in Rio de Janeiro for its pollution, unrelated to the oil spill 10 years ago.

But what interested me in the oil spill from 2000 are two things.

First, I wanted to see how the mangrove swamps that were covered in oil have recovered, because that ecosystem is not too dissimilar to the swamplands in Florida and elsewhere now under threat from the BP Gulf of Mexico spill.

And, second, in 2000 at the time of the Guanabara spill people estimated it would take 10 years for the ecosystem to recover.

That was a decade ago, and the obvious question is 'has it recovered?'

I was recently led into a large patch of mangrove that was hardest hit by the oil, and let me be clear here: What I saw was evidence that there is no recovery after all these years.

The mud is thick, black and lifeless. And it stinks. Dead stumps - what used to be thick green mangrove swamps - protrude out from the mud as far as your eyes see.

It looks like a scene captured by a camera attached to an unmanned spacecraft that has just landed on a lifeless planet in another galaxy.

Nothing is growing here, and I can't imagine anything growing here in a very long time.

It's sad.

Effects

Evo da Silva, a local fisherman I met, said before the spill he it was not uncommon to net 100 kilos of fish and crab a day. Today, on a good day, he is happy with five kilos; 10 kilos is a great day.

He said after the spill the fish died off, and have yet to come back to pre-spill levels.

"There are some types of fish that simply do not exists anymore here in our bay," da Silva told me from Magé, a small town bordering the bay where he lives.

"I think they are extinct after the spill."

The problem, I was told, is that once the mangrove were killed by oil, it also permanently disrupted the life cycle of the fish and crabs that needed the healthy swamplands to feed and multiply.

Put simply, it's a vicious cycle: Oil kills mangrove, which in turn kills fish and crab, which in turn kills livelihoods of the local fishermen.

Until the mangrove can recuperate, the rest of the cycle can't be fixed properly.

Problem is, once the mangrove is dead it is hard to bring back to life.

"The mangrove is one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world and unfortunately, when industrial accidents - particularly petroleum - enter the areas of mangrove, it's a very slow process for the ecosystem to recuperate," Herrera, the environmentalist, told me.

Herrera said once the oil was cleaned off the water surface area after the spill, it can reappear years later in ways not imaginable at the time.

"What is happening in many parts of the effected mangrove in the Guanabara Bay is that bubbles of oil were formed that are below the surface," Herrera said.

"These bubbles are buried under sediment at the bottom of the bay, and then many years layer - even decades after the accident - we can still verify those bubbles can re-appear on the surface.

"We still get reports from fishermen that report small spots of oil that keep appearing in the mangrove, and that is what that is."

Economic Effects

The economic effects from the oil spill can still be felt on the fishermen in Guanabara Bay.

Alexandre Anderson runs a local association fighting for rights of fishermen on the bay and he told me buyers will only pay less than half the market value of the fish from Guanabara Bay because of the stigma of the fish "being contaminated".

Da Silva confirmed this to me, and said he fears the fishermen on the Gulf Coast of the US will face the same problem.

"I do not want to be pessimistic but it's going to be difficult if someone does not help (the fisherman in the Gulf Coast)," da Silva said.

"It is going to be impossible to support their families. Now they are going to have the problem of people saying, 'we are not buying that fish because it is contaminated.'

"We went through that here. Nobody wanted our fish, they said, 'your fish are contaminated because of the oil.'"

Of the 6,000 fishermen who used to fish Guanabara Bay, only about 2,000 are left da Silva said. Most have been forced to find other lines of work.

Petrobras reaction

Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company responsible for the spill in 2000, has invested over $200m in the last decade in environmental and social projects in Guanabara Bay.

The company has dramatically improved its environmental record in the last ten years, and is considered Brazil's most socially responsible company in an independent study released last year.

But recovering the environment after an oil spill is a long and difficult process, according to Petrobras CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli.

"Recuperation is always a challenge," Gabrielli said recently during a news conference at company headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.

"It's like tsunami; it's difficult after a tsunami to pretend that you resisted it.

"You have to avoid the tsunami in the first place. You have to move the population out of the area beforehand.

"But once the accident occurs, it's a very grave phenomenon; there is no doubt about it."

Gabrielli said the BP accident in the Gulf Coast is affirmation that the best treatment for an accident is to avoid it in the first place.

"The accident is teaching us in a clear way that prevention is the main instrument to avoid an accident," Gabrielli said.

"...We believe that our procedures and our operational discipline in relation to our operations can prevent accidents.

"This is essentially our policy and we are reinforcing it. We have reviewed all our procedures, we have analyzed our equipment, we are reinforcing our mechanisms for accompanying our operational procedures and we have confidence that what we are doing in the safest we can do."

Petrobras has not had an accident of the magnitude of what occurred on Guanabara Bay since.

The future

The lingering effects of the Guanabara Bay oil spill 10 years on are obvious after visiting some of the areas hardest hit.

But the effects in 2020 in the Gulf Coast could be much worse than anything seen here in Brazil.

The total amount of oil spilled in 2000 in Guanabara Bay was about 8,000 barrels and even by the most conservative estimates that is only about 25 per cent of the oil being leaked into the Gulf Coast everyday.

And as far as the full recovery of the mangroves in Guanabara Bay, that might not happen anytime soon.

"It is difficult to make a forecast concrete about these things, but without doubt it goes beyond 10 years," Herrera told me in regards to the recuperation.

"It is counted in decades, not years."

Herrera didn't want to make any predictions about what will happen in the Gulf Coast down the road, but he did say he thinks the BP spill is the worst environmental disaster the planet has ever seen.

When I ask da Silva - the fisherman - if he has any advice for the people in the Gulf Coast of America coping with the BP spill, he says simply: "They are going to have to be patient, because they will have the same problems we still have here.

"But I think they are going to have it even worse than we do."

Spoken from a man who has already lived it. And still is 10 years later.

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16) Oil spill's toll on birds set to drastically soar
By Steve Gorman and Ernest Scheyder
Reuters - July 1, 2010
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=oil-spills-toll-on-birds

LOS ANGELES/FORT JACKSON, Louisiana (Reuters) - Despite the images of oil-soaked pelicans flooding the media in recent weeks, wildlife experts say the toll on sea birds from BP's Gulf Coast oil spill is smaller than was anticipated, so far.

That is expected to change drastically for the worse.

Scientists warn that as shifting weather and sea conditions conspire with the dynamics of avian life cycles, a tremendous number of birds will soon be put in jeopardy.

In the coming weeks, millions of waterfowl and other birds that flock to the U.S. Gulf Coast on their annual fall migration will arrive in the region either to roost for the winter or to make brief stopovers en route farther south.

With toxic crude still gushing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and streaks of the slick creeping inexorably farther inland, many more birds and other wildlife that nest, feed and find shelter on shore are likely to become casualties.

"To this point, we haven't seen a lot of oiled wildlife based on the size of the spill," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Catherine Berg said. "(But) there's still a lot of oil out there. There's still a lot of wildlife in the area."

Birds migrating through the Gulf largely dodged a bullet in the spring when newly escaped oil from the ruptured BP wellhead took longer than expected to wash ashore.

"A lot of those birds were safe on their spring passage, but they won't be safe on their fall passage," said Greg Butcher, bird conservation director for the National Audubon Society.

Wildlife officials are taking various steps to minimize the risks, cordoning off rookeries with containment booms, paying farmers to flood fields that could serve as temporary bird-friendly wetlands, and considering new duck hunting restrictions.

Authorities are even weighing the possibility of capturing baby pelicans to move them out of harm's way, said Jay Holcomb, head of the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

Rehabilitation centers in the Gulf have treated over 800 oil-impaired birds and released at least 250 back to the wild.

The birds are tagged, and some have come through twice, said Holcomb, who oversees rescue operations out of the main treatment facility in Fort Jackson, Louisiana.

"A lot of these birds ... want to come back to their nest," Holcomb said. "Most spills are over really quick, but this is like a new spill every day. It's really discouraging."

BODY COUNTS

A container labeled "Bird Carcass Collection Drop Box" in a corner of the Fort Jackson center is a grim reminder of the difficulties the rehab teams face. Over 100 oiled birds brought there have died or been euthanized, Holcomb said.

To date, more than 2,000 dead and debilitated birds have been counted along the entire Gulf Coast -- quadruple the number reported a month ago when the government first began posting its daily tallies.

But Holcomb said partial or skeletal remains with no visible signs of oil exposure account for most of the 1,165 dead specimens found so far and unlikely were spill victims.

The high proportion of older remains from birds that died of natural causes can probably be attributed to the intense efforts to find and catalog every animal that may have been killed or injured in the disaster.

Those counts are more than just academic. They ultimately will help determine how much BP will be expected to pay into a compensation fund for wildlife damages.

Dr. Michael Ziccardi of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at the University of California at Davis, said dollar figures attached to birds counted as casualties of past spills have ranged from $500 to $20,000 per individual. Factors include whether the bird was an endangered species and whether any economic or commercial value could be ascribed to the animal.

As disturbing as pictures of oiled wildlife have been, the 850 oil-fouled birds found alive to date and hundreds more known to have died pale in comparison to the 250,000 seabirds estimated to have perished from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound.

"That may change as time goes on because more and more birds are probably going to be oiled," Holcomb said.

STORMS AND SITTING DUCKS

Experts say high winds and seas from any number of storms, including Hurricane Alex, could push more oil into the fragile patchwork of salt marshes, beaches, islands and inlets composing the Gulf's ragged shoreline. The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season that officially began last month is expected to be one of the more active in recent years.

Moreover, the Mississippi River's drainage into the Gulf is starting to dissipate after a robust spring outflow -- fed by heavy rains and Tennessee floodwaters upstream -- that helped keep oil away from shore in the early days of the spill.

As the river levels fall, the Gulf's waters will be drawn back up toward the mouth of the Mississippi and farther into the delta, along with more of the oil on the surface.

Pelicans, gannets and other plunge-diving species were among the hardest-hit at the spill's outset because they feed in open water -- where the oil was then most present.

Shorebirds such as sandpipers, and wading species like egrets and herons, are next in line.

"We have a lot of birds on rookeries. We have a lot of birds in the marshes, just roosting locally. Pretty soon, we're going to get an influx of waterfowl as they come in here to molt post breeding season," Berg said.

After mating and nesting in freshwater inland areas, many ducks and geese venture to the coast to molt, losing their worn summer feathers, then growing winter plumage, before continuing their fall migration. In between, they are flightless.

"Think about it. A whole bunch of ducks that can't fly, on the water," Berg said.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

The U.S. Gulf Coast straddles the Mississippi Flyway, one of the world's major bird migration corridors and one that brings about 1 billion birds from more than 300 species through the region each year.

Tens of millions of sandpipers and plovers from Alaska and Canada will be arriving within days on their way to Latin America, Butcher said. Most roost in the uplands away from shore but venture down to the beaches, mudflats and sand bars to feed at low tide.

Herons and egrets that have stayed fairly stationary while nesting are now on the move with their young, potentially becoming more exposed to oil in the marshes, he said.

Hoping to create safe, clean rest stops for migrating birds as alternatives to wetlands fouled by oil, a land conservation agency of the U.S. Agriculture Department announced this week it would pay growers to convert cropland to bird habitat by flooding rice fields.

Gulf authorities have had success here and there in keeping oil out of some prime bird real estate.

Hundreds of pelicans and other birds remain safe for now on Grand Terre Island, a major roosting ground in Louisiana's Barataria Bay that has been encircled with soft and hard boom.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and other local officials made the island's protection a top priority, though they acknowledge that a large storm could tear through the artificial barrier. Some of the surrounding marshes already have been fouled as oil continues to creep farther, especially during morning and evening tides.

"God forbid if we have another Katrina, we'll be picking oil off Bourbon Street," Nungesser said.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

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17) Mitigating Annihilation
By Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld t r u t h o u t | Photo Essay
Wednesday 07 July 2010
http://www.truth-out.org/mitigating-annihilation61145

From the air, the area north of Grand Isle, Louisiana, much of it around Barataria Bay, looks like scorched earth. This area has been and is heavily afflicted by BP's oil. The so-called cleanup efforts, including laying out booms to supposedly prevent oil from destroying more marsh and killing more wildlife, are a farce.

Opaque, multi-color sheen stains much of the bay and is visible in countless inlets that snake their way into the marsh. The contrast between the green marsh area yet to be soiled and the marsh already blackened by the oil and the sheen covered Gulf water is stark. The afflicted water appears as a lifeless, dull, silvery fluid.

While BP has put forth great effort in securing tax benefits acquired from leasing rigs like the sunken Deepwater Horizon, it has also saved money by choosing not to pursue better cleanup methods and technologies. We live in a corporate world where profit is god. Profit rules. Showing a profit on the next quarterly earnings statement is everything. This is how a multi-billion dollar oil giant like BP (yes, we can include the others as well - Exxon/Mobile, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Total S.A.) spends vast troughs of money on developing the latest oil exploration and drilling technologies. But when it comes to cleaning up their toxic mess when disaster strikes, every expense is spared.

Many people across varying industries working in the so-called cleanup effort understand that laying out boom to contain oil is largely an act designed primarily to impress politicians and uninformed media. The so-called cleanup work BP is engaged in on the soiled Gulf Coast has been shoddy, at best, including allegations that BP has been dumping sand atop oil on beaches to cover it up. Controlled oil burns in the Gulf are also, needless to say, coming under criticism for their devastating impact on the environment, in addition to negatively impacting the human health of residents on Louisiana's coast.

But this should not come as a surprise, given that one of the first things BP did in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster was to launch a campaign to strengthen its legal defense with the best attorneys money can buy, rein in legal teams and buy up experts who might otherwise work for plaintiffs in cases against the oil giant.

The more we see of this so-called cleanup and containment plan of BP's, the more it appears to be the second largest contributing factor in destroying the ecology and culture of the Gulf region, behind, of course, BP's oil volcano at the floor of the Gulf.

From the air, we see the same boom catastrophe as we did from our recent boat trip into the marsh. In some areas, boom does little more than outline the dead areas of the marsh, having gathered into piles and left to soak oil directly onto the land.

Time after time, we fly over small marsh islands, their shores scorched by oil, the marsh grass immediately dying, surrounded by boom.

Sheen covers the water, held against the islands by the booming.

"It's as though the booms do nothing more than hold oil in the marsh, rather than keeping it out," I comment into my headphones as we fly low, just above the soiled islands. Charlie, our pilot, nods.

Erika hangs out her open window, taking hundreds of photos of the destruction caused by BP's criminal negligence.

The vile physical destruction of these fragile wetlands is an ominous precursor of worse that is to come. Wildlife experts recently reported that the toll on sea birds from the BP catastrophe will soon change dramatically for the worse.

"Scientists warn that as shifting weather and sea conditions conspire with the dynamics of avian life cycles, a tremendous number of birds will soon be put in jeopardy," says an article in Scientific American. "In the coming weeks, millions of waterfowl and other birds that flock to the U.S. Gulf Coast on their annual fall migration will arrive in the region either to roost for the winter or to make brief stopovers en route farther south. With toxic crude still gushing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and streaks of the slick creeping inexorably farther inland, many more birds and other wildlife that nest, feed and find shelter on shore are likely to become casualties."

This warning has sparked a desperate rush to try to find ways to lure tens of millions of migrating birds away from the oil-infested marsh that has historically served as their habitat.

"The impact of the Gulf disaster on migrating birds will be like a train derailment during rush hour," Frank Gill, president of the National Audubon Society, said. "Not only will it affect the entire system, but its repercussions will be long-lasting."

This concern has spurred the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to launch a $20 million program that aims to pay landowners in the Gulf region to idle land, restore wetlands and enhance habitat.

Will it work? This worsening disaster shows us how futile it is to tinker with nature - whether it be via drilling for oil in the depths, or then trying to mitigate the annihilation of nature and life in ways that often make the situation worse via unforeseen consequences.

And this comes on the heels of destruction in this area caused by oil and gas companies that spans decades. "They dug these canals that have let the saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico into what used to be fresh-water marshes," Charlie, who has spent more than five years flying over this area, tells us while we fly over the remnants of what used to be a fertile, green carpet of a marsh, "that let all the saltwater in that killed the marsh. This land is now fractured. It's blown all to hell."

Most of the small marsh islands we fly over are soiled black and brown by BP's oil. Some of the worst areas are surrounded by brand-new, pure white boom that has no oil on it. This boom, aside from possibly keeping more oil from reaching the already destroyed area, functions as little more than show, given that the oil has already contaminated the marsh island.

Sheen covers most of the bay. As we fly low over shallower areas, ripples move across the sheen that are caused by schools of fish moving just below the surface.

In another area, a pelican flies parallel to a red boom. I wonder if it will land in sheen-covered water, or if its rookery has already been destroyed.

Charlie flies us out near the barrier islands that separate the bay from the Gulf of Mexico. Between two of the islands, just behind one of them, a series of barges are being set up, end on end, in a crude attempt to block off the pass between two islands.

"Here's where they are trying to block a pass to keep the oil from getting into the bay," Charlie explains while banking the plane so Erika can get a clear view, "But the wolf is already in the hen house."

It is impossible to articulate the futility of these cleanup and preventative efforts.

We do not see one marsh island surrounded by boom that has actually kept oil or sheen from reaching it.

But, again, we are looking at a company that only by threat of lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity agreed to stop incinerating endangered sea turtles alive.

Erika Blumenfeld is an internationally exhibiting artist and Guggenheim fellow with a BFA in photography from Parsons School of Design. She is known for her Light Recordings series and her ambitious work The Polar Project, a series of environment-focused artworks that document the environment of Antarctica and the Arctic. Blumenfeld's installations have been exhibited widely in galleries and museums in the US and abroad and have been featured in Art In America, ARTnews and more than half a dozen books. She is posting her photographs of the Gulf Coast on her blog.

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18) Whistleblower: Relief payments get slashed if fishermen refuse to work for BP
"BP will deduct money from individual payments on claims for lost income if the claimant refuses to work in assisting the spill response."
By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 -- 11:25 pm
http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0706/whistleblower-bp-deducts-relief-payments-fishermen-refuse-aid-gulf-cleanup/

Any relief payment plan established in the wake of the worst environmental accident ever was bound to have its flaws, but this goes to a whole new level of wrong.

According to Gulf resident Kindra Arnesen, who turned whistleblower and full-time activist when she saw how many people were put out of work by the spill, BP will deduct money from individual payments on claims for lost income if the claimant refuses to work in assisting the spill response.

Reading from a letter she'd received from BP, Arnesen quoted the company's line:

"BP will continue its efforts to pay legitimate claims for losses incurred due to the Deepwater Horizon incident. However, federal law clearly provides for adjustments for all income resulting from the incident, all income from alternative employment or businesses undertaken [...] and potential income from alternative employment or businesses not undertaken but reasonably available."

In other words, if you are a fisherman who was put out of work by BP and you do not elect to work in their employ, but you still file a claim for losses over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that claim could be significantly less than the actual damages incurred.

Arnesen, a fisherman's wife and longtime Louisiana resident, has been a true pitbull of an activist since she began popping up in area media. Finally, at the beginning of June, she gained enough notoriety that CNN picked up her story. She was one of the first to raise hell over reports of fishermen getting sick, allegedly from the oil and dispersant fumes coming off the Gulf.

Her husband David is one of thousands who opted to work for BP after the oil contaminated his usual fishing routes. She believes he was one of many who were sickened by BP's toxic vapors.

BP CEO Tony Hayward tried to pass off the multiple boats full of sick fishermen as "food poisoning." The company has since discouraged use of respirators because they don't want the task to appear dangerous. However, RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy traveled to the Gulf Coast to talk to cleanup workers and found that BP's active denial of proper safety equipment was having a serious health effect.

"In all three states that I've visited, fishermen said when they went out to work on the cleanup, that if they tried to bring respirators they were told it was unnecessary equipment and would only spread hysteria," Kennedy told Fox News.

"When I went out with eleven people, we had respirators on and within half an hour, all of our eyes were burning and our throats were closing and we all had headaches," she explained.

That got Kindra mad as hell.

In an amazing display of gusto, even with the possibility that she'd endanger his income by damaging their relationship with BP, Arnesen showed up absolutely livid to a citizens emergency summit on June 19. Her speech quickly gained traction in progressive media after she claimed BP's directors were eager to cut costs and merely put on a show every time a politician swings through, ushering cleanup crews out almost as fast as they're ushered in.

Visibly disturbed by BP's concise statement on relief payments, Arnesen jeered: "They summed it up in one paragraph: billions upon billions for coastal communities. One paragraph. One paragraph? This is what they think? That we're gonna clean up their toxic shit? For the same price that we're gonna pick up shrimp? Are they loony? Have they lost their minds?"

"Am I scared? Yes," Arnesen told CNN. "Anything that ever starts, starts with one. And if I have to be the one then I have to be the one."

The team that filmed her, Project Gulf Impact, also recently landed an interview with Dr. Chris Pincetich, a marine biologist, who claimed that the U.S. Coast Guard is involved in spraying Corexit oil dispersant and that the substance has made it ashore.

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19) Obama Presses BP on Procedures to Recover More Oil
[Obama still leaves BP in charge as the Coast Guard keeps scientists away! ...bw]
By JOHN M. BRODER
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/us/09spill.html?hp

WASHINGTON - With a weeklong window of favorable weather opening in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration is pressing BP to move quickly on two operations that could double the amount of oil captured from the gushing well.

An oil recovery ship known as the Helix Producer, capable of capturing up to 25,000 barrels a day, has been waiting near the crippled well for more than a week, unable to connect to the well because of high winds and waves from Hurricane Alex.

The weather has also delayed deployment of a new, tighter-fitting cap for the well that not only will be able to capture more of the spewing oil but could potentially shut down all oil releases from the well. Swapping the caps requires disconnecting the well from a recovery ship, the Discoverer Enterprise, potentially increasing the flow of oil by as much as 15,000 barrels a day for two to three days.

The two operations were to have begun a week ago and take place in sequence. The administration now wants BP to move forward with both at the same time to take advantage of a period of seven or eight days of predicted calm weather.

The administration is sending BP a letter today asking for details of how the company plans to proceed with attaching the Helix and replacing the cap while minimizing the unimpeded flow of oil during the changeover. The government wants to know how much of the oil BP can skim, burn or disperse during the swap.

Government officials expect a quick answer and plan to decide by Friday how quickly to proceed.

Meanwhile, work is proceeding on two relief wells that offer the promise of permanently killing the well. One of the wells is within 300 feet of the bottom of the spewing Macondo well.

A top BP executive told the Wall Street Journal and NBC on Wednesday that under the most favorable conditions the well could be killed by July 27, although he cautioned that the weather or technical problems could push that back. The original completion date was mid-August.

A senior administration official dismissed that scenario as probably overly optimistic. "It needs to be done in a safe and responsible manner," the official said, discussing the matter with a group of reporters on condition of anonymity because the official is not the government's designated spokesperson on the spill. "We don't think that's a reasonable expectation of a date."

"Our timeline is still mid-August," the official said.

The more immediate plan is to replace the cap and bring in additional vessels to capture oil. When the Helix is on line and the new cap in place, the system will be able to collect as much as 50,000 barrels a day of a flow that is estimated as high as 60,000 barrels a day. Additional ships could capture another 30,000 barrels.

The new cap also gives additional flexibility in the case of extreme weather. The new system will allow collection vessels to move on and off station much more quickly if storms blow up.

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20) The Latest on the Oil Spill
Updated: July 8, 2010
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/o/oil_spills/gulf_of_mexico_2010/index.html

Court Asked to Reinstate Drilling Ban

The Obama administration asked a federal court in Louisiana to reinstate the ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that the six-month ban on drilling in more than 500 feet of water, imposed in late May, was necessary to allow time to adopt stricter safety and environmental regulation of deepwater wells. Last month, Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of the United States District Court in New Orleans issued an order blocking the moratorium, saying the Obama administration had failed to justify the need for ''a blanket, generic, indeed punitive, moratorium'' on deepwater oil and gas drilling. A hearing is scheduled for July 8.

Capture and Containment Efforts

BP's capture system collected or burned off 24,760 barrels of oil on July 6, said Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is leading the federal spill response.

New Government Web Site

The federal government has opened a new Web site, RestoreTheGulf.com, for news related to the oil spill news and will soon phase out the site that it has run jointly with BP. The new site takes the place of deepwaterhorizonresponse.com, the existing Web portal, which BP has been largely paying for since April. BP, responsible for most of the costs of the response and cleanup of the spill, will contribute to the cost of the new Web site, officials said.

Group Releases Data on Birds

Roughly 420 birds harmed by oil have been found on the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, according to Ken Rice, director of wildlife rescue in those states. About 190 of the birds were found dead. The species hit the hardest has been the northern gannet, which spends most of its life over open seas. Other birds that have been found include brown pelicans, terns, loons and shore birds. A substantial number of birds harmed by oil are never found, Mr. Rice told The Associated Press.

Overview

An explosion on April 20 aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig working on a well for the oil company BP one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, has led to the largest oil spill in American history. After a series of failed efforts to plug the leak, government and company officials say oil will likely continue flowing until a relief well cuts off the gusher, an event expected sometime in August.

The government estimated that between 12,000 and 25,000 barrels a day of oil were escaping, then adjusted the estimate to a rate of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels a day.

On June 15, the government raised its estimate of the oil flow rate yet again, declaring that as much as 60,000 barrels of oil could be flowing into the Gulf every day.

A barrel of oil holds 42 gallons, so an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every four days.

The latest estimate reflects a possible increase in the flow rate that occurred after BP cut an underwater pipe called a riser on June 3 to install a containment cap to capture part of the oil. The cap began collecting 15,000 barrels of oil a day, and a second containment system was installed on June 16.

Up to the end of May, most of the oil making landfall from the distaster was in Louisiana. But in June, tar balls and oil mousse began to reach the shores of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The Coast Guard commander, Adm. Thad W. Allen, said on June 7 that it could take years to deal with the effects of the spill, in part because it had broken into hundreds of thousands of patches.

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21) Greece Approves Pension Overhaul Despite Protests
"The bill would unify the retirement age at 65 years of age for both men and women and would reduce payouts by calculating salaries on lifetime income as opposed to a worker's highest, most recent pay. ...It would also make it easier for Greek companies to fire workers."
By LANDON THOMAS Jr. and NIKI KITSANTONIS
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/business/global/09drachma.html?ref=world

ATHENS - The Greek government took a major step forward in overhauling its debt-plagued economy by forcing through, in principle, a pension bill that would dramatically cut the cost of Greece's welfare state by increasing the retirement age and slashing benefits.

For Prime Minister George Papandreou, who commands a seven member majority in his country's fractious parliament, the bill's many provisions represent the beginning of end of the cradle-to-grave state compact that his father put in place in the early 1980s.

The plan was approved in principle by a vote of 159-137 late Wednesday. Individual provisions were to be voted on Thursday before a final vote on the whole package.

Three months into an historic bail program worth 110 billion euros - about $140 billion or half of Greece's annual gross domestic product - the government has so far exceeded the deficit cutting benchmarks set by the International Monetary Fund. Government officials here see the bill's passage as further evidence for still-skeptical international investors that Greece is committed to pushing through painful reform measures.

"This is our passport out of hell," said Yannis Stournaras an Athens-based economist who has advised past Socialist governments. "It represents the toughest challenge for Papandreou and goes to the very heart of his party. No politician has ever been able to do this."

Greece's generous pension system has allowed many employees to retire before they turn 50 and earn the right to rich payouts calculated on the basis of bonus-laden salaries. The bill would unify the retirement age at 65 years of age for both men and women and would reduce payouts by calculating salaries on lifetime income as opposed to a worker's highest, most recent pay.

It would also make it easier for Greek companies to fire workers.

Athens was to a large extent shut down Thursday as public sector workers gathered in protest before the parliament building in Syntagma square. According to police estimates, the numbers were between 5,000 and 10,000 and despite a few challenges by hooded youths carrying sticks and axes, riot police with gas masks and shields seemed to be in control of the situation.

"Nobody expected this - this is worse than the occupation under the Germans," said Nikos Stathas, 60, a plumber who is just retiring now. He says he has just got his pension, but he is worried about his children and grandchildren. "This will demolish their retirement," he added.

Such strong sentiments aside, by most accounts protests have been relatively restrained since three people was killed in an attack on a bank in May - a sign perhaps that Greeks, while angry and unhappy at the sacrifices forced upon them, understand that they face little other choice than to tighten their belt.

Mr. Papandreou, a life-long Socialist, has managed to keep control of his party despite protests among influential advisers like his economy minister, Louka Katseli.

A team from the I.M.F. and the European Union is due in Athens next month to examine the government's progress, before the next 9 billion euro tranche is to be released.

Mr. Stournaras pointed out that the Greek economy performed better than expected in the first quarter, sustained by a surprisingly robust showing for private consumption, which was up by 1.5 percent.

A sharp cutback in public investment caused growth to decline by 2.5 percent for the quarter, but Mr. Stournaras expects the economy to shrink by less than the I.M.F. estimate of 4 percent and he forecasts a budget deficit this year of about 7 percent.

According to a presentation by the government's debt management agency, sharp decreases in public sector wages and investment, plus an increase in taxes have driven the improved deficit picture.

"The government's popularity is holding up very well," said Paul Mylonas, chief economist at the National Bank of Greece. "But after several years of reform, adjustment fatigue may set in if light does not appear at the end of the tunnel."

Indeed, senior government officials concede that they have yet to win back the confidence of foreign bond investors, many of whom believe that some form of a debt restructuring is inevitable, as the 10 percent-plus yields on the government's long term debt show.

"No one in Greece is looking at a debt restructuring. It's just not going to happen," said Petros Christodoulou, the head of the debt management agency insisted last month at an investor conference in London.

Still, doubts abound that the economy can survive the dramatic public sector retrenchment and continue to generate needed tax revenues to make a dent in a debt that even within three years will still be at around 120 percent of G.D.P.

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22) Owner of Exploded Rig Is Known for Testing Rules
By BARRY MEIER
July 7, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/business/global/08ocean.html?ref=world

Transocean is the world's largest offshore drilling company, but until its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, few Americans outside the energy business had heard of it. It is well known, however, in a number of other countries - for testing local laws and regulations.

Human rights advocates have called for an investigation into Transocean's recent dealings in Myanmar. They cite its involvement in a drilling project that apparently included a company that is suspected of having ties to two men accused of laundering money for Myanmar's repressive government, which is under United States trade sanctions.

Transocean has disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that its drilling equipment was shipped by a forwarder through Iran and that until last year it held a stake in a company that did business in Syria. The State Department says Syria and Iran sponsor terrorism.

In Norway, Transocean is the subject of a criminal investigation into possible tax fraud. The company has said in S.E.C. filings that Norwegian officials could assess it about $840 million in taxes and penalties. The filings also said that a final ruling against Transocean could have a "material impact" on the company, which has suffered a drop in its stock price of more than 40 percent since the Gulf of Mexico incident.

And in the United States, a federal bankruptcy judge recently found that one of Transocean's merger partners had repeatedly abused the legal system to try to avoid potential liability in a pollution case in Louisiana. Transocean is also the target of tax inquiries in the United States and Brazil.

Transocean declined though an outside spokesman to make company officials available for comment. The company said in a statement that it had always acted appropriately and believed that it would prevail in any investigations.

It is not unusual for large multinational companies like Transocean to find themselves in legal or tax controversies around the world and Transocean has noted the issues that face it in public filings. The company's most significant safety problem overseas involved a 2007 episode in which eight people died off the coast of Scotland when a support vessel capsized while towing a huge chain used to position a Transocean rig. A Norwegian board of inquiry found that missteps by several parties, including Transocean and the support vessel's owner, had contributed to the incident.

But the company's practices in the United States and abroad have come under new scrutiny since the oil spill in the gulf. Last week, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said that the panel would investigate whether Transocean had used its corporate base in Switzerland to exploit United States tax laws.

In its dealings with lawmakers, Transocean has stood its ground. Last month, in response to a demand that Transocean delay a planned distribution to shareholders of $1 billion in dividends, the company declared that paying the dividend "in no way affects Transocean's ability to meet it legal obligations."

Transocean has largely blamed BP, the well's operator, for the spill, describing it as a company that took shortcuts on safety. Transocean has had a long relationship with BP, and for the last two years, BP has been Transocean's largest single customer, accounting for 12 percent of its $11.5 billion in operating revenue in 2009, public filings show.

Industry analysts said that strong ties between the companies reflected the fact that both had staked their financial futures on pushing oil exploration as far off shore as possible. Transocean, which drills in some 30 countries and employs more than 18,000 people, owns nearly half of the 50 or so deepwater platforms in the world.

"These people are capable and considered the gold standard of deepwater drilling," said Peter Vig, managing director at RoundRock Capital Management, an energy hedge fund in Dallas.

Transocean's evolution into the world's biggest deep-sea driller follows a decade-long acquisition and merger spree.

It began in 1996 when a Texas-based company called Sonat OffshoreDrilling acquired Transocean ASA, then Norway's largest offshore driller. Three years later, the company, now known as Transocean, shifted its headquarters for tax purposes to the Cayman Islands from Houston, though a vast majority of its executives still work in Houston. In subsequent years, it acquired or merged with other drillers including R&B Falcon, the drilling unit of Schlumberger and GlobalSantaFe. Then, in 2008, for tax purposes, it moved its headquarters again, this time to Switzerland from the Cayman Islands.

The tax investigation in Norway involves how Transocean represented the sale of 12 drilling rigs owned by its Norwegian subsidiary to another company unit, said a spokeswoman for an agency known as Okokrim, which investigates economic and environmental crimes.

The case "raises several important questions regarding the taxation of multinational corporations," said the spokeswoman, Mie Skarpaas, who declined to discuss the investigation further.

A Norwegian newspaper, Dagens Naeringsliv, reported several years ago that a Transocean rig, while returning from a repair yard in Norway to a drilling site in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, diverted for several hours into British waters. During that time, Transocean transferred ownership of the rig between subsidiaries and later argued that it did not have to pay Norwegian taxes because profits on the transaction had been earned outside the country. The company subsequently settled the case involving that rig.

In 2008, Norway's highest court ruled that Okokrim and tax authorities could share documents and computer files seized during raids of Transocean and Ernst & Young which was the company's tax adviser. That ruling also said that at least three people, including two Ernst & Young employees, were under investigation in connection with the episode.

In its statement, Transocean said that its "tax returns are materially correct as filed" and that it "will vigorously defend any claims to the contrary." A spokesman for Ernst & Young, declined to comment.

In Myanmar, formerly Burma, a Transocean rig was under contract to a Chinese government-controlled oil company, Cnooc, as recently as this spring. Another apparent stakeholder in the drilling site, according to Cnooc, was a Singapore business. That business has been linked to two men identified by the United States Treasury Department in 2008 as major operatives and money launderers for the Myanmar government. At the time, American authorities described both men as longtime heroin traffickers.

Transocean said in a statement that its contract was with Cnooc and did not mention either man. Transocean also said it had not violated the trade sanctions against Myanmar. "No Transocean affiliate that is subject to the U.S. ban has ever done business in Myanmar," the company said.

In the United States, the recent ruling by a federal bankruptcy court judge involved one of Transocean's merger partners.

Judge Kevin Gross of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware found in May that the partner, GlobalSantaFe, had entered into a misleading bankruptcy scheme that included the use of shell companies to avoid potential liabilities in an oil pollution case. Judge Gross found the actions so egregious that he ordered GlobalSantaFe and related units to pay $2 million in sanctions to another company involved in the case.

In a statement, Transocean said the issues involving GlobalSantaFe had occurred before their 2007 merger.

Judge Gross did not mention Transocean by name. But in his ruling, he said that GlobalSantaFe and its units were still involved in a "gamesmanship with the judicial system" to thwart potential claims.

Asked about Judge Gross's ruling, Transocean said, "We are confident we'll prevail in the remaining legal issues that have yet to be decided."

Walter Gibbs contributed reporting.

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23) Cuomo Finds Pattern of Workers' Inflating Pensions
"Many New York state and local government workers pad their pensions by drastically increasing their overtime in their last years of employment, according to a report released Wednesday by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo." [This is exactly what Greece put an end to. See article # 21 above--shades of things to come...bw]
By STEPHEN CEASAR
July 7, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/nyregion/08pension.html?ref=nyregion

Many New York state and local government workers pad their pensions by drastically increasing their overtime in their last years of employment, according to a report released Wednesday by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.

"It is widespread, it is chronic and is very, very expensive," Mr. Cuomo said at a press conference in Manhattan at which he released preliminary results of a continuing investigation. "We can't afford it anymore."

Of the 50 agencies examined by his office, 28 had recent retirees who, before they approached retirement, had never worked overtime or who had worked far fewer extra hours, Mr. Cuomo said. With overtime, the 2008 pay for one employee cited in the report nearly doubled. Pension benefits, Mr. Cuomo noted, are often based on an employee's total income in the last few years of employment, and not just on base salary.

Soaring pension obligations resulting from contracts won by politically influential public employees' unions have become a financial liability for state and many local governments.

A statement released from Mr. Cuomo's office said, "If only 2 percent of new pension recipients followed some of the practices found in the attorney general's investigation, taxpayers could face an additional $120 million in pension benefit payments over the next 20 years."

The report analyzed payroll data for 3,688 workers who retired in 2009, including police officers, firefighters and teachers.

Payroll information had been sought from 64 state, regional and local governmental agencies. The attorney general's office would not identify which of those agencies had records reviewed for the report released on Wednesday. The investigation was expanded this month to 23 more government employers.

Mr. Cuomo held out the possibility of bringing fraud charges against those involved in the more egregious cases. He did not identify any pension recipients or their employers in his report, which did cite several examples of veteran workers whose overtime hours had skyrocketed:

A deputy commissioner of civil defense/disaster who had not previously recorded any overtime worked 1,629 additional hours in his last three years on the job.

A shovel operator averaged 144 hours of annual overtime between 2002 and 2005. In 2007 and 2008, the average jumped to 820 hours.

Stephen Madarasz, a spokesman for the Civil Service Employee Association, which represents 300,000 workers and retirees in New York, said some of the overtime might simply be a result of an agency's lacking workers.

It is unfair, Mr. Madarasz said, to make a broad assumption that most state workers try to take advantage of the system to gain higher pensions. In fact, those represented by the association, who make up about 40 percent of the state pension system, receive an average pension of about $16,000 a year, he said.

"Don't blame the vast majority for the abuses of the few," he said.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a government watchdog, said the pension system was already under financial strain, so reining in the costs by thwarting abuses should be a priority in Albany.

"The findings are important not only to save the taxpayer money," Ms. Lerner said, "but so that the public servants get the pensions they earn."

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23) Despite BP Disaster, Big Oil Has Its Eye on the Arctic
By Roger Shuler
July 7, 2010
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Despite-BP-Disaster-Big-O-by-Roger-Shuler-100707-606.html

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

With an environmental catastrophe evolving in the Gulf of Mexico, you might think big-oil companies would be restrained in their thinking about future exploration. You also might think that the Obama administration would be hyper vigilant about any future oil drilling in vulnerable ecosystems.

According to a new report in Rolling Stone, you would be wrong--on both counts.

Believe or not, Rolling Stone reports, BP could start drilling in the Arctic Ocean this fall, certainly in 2011. While President Barack Obama is taking a tough-guy approach with big oil at the moment, experts do not expect it to last:

"Indeed, top environmentalists warn, the suspension of drilling appears to be little more than a stalling tactic designed to let public anger over BP's spill subside before giving Big Oil the go-ahead to drill in an area that has long been off-limits: the Arctic Ocean. The administration has approved plans by both BP and Shell Oil to drill a total of 11 exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas above Alaska--waters far more remote and hostile than the Gulf. Shell's operations could proceed as soon as the president's suspension expires in January. And thanks to an odd twist in its rig design, BP's drilling in the Arctic is on track to get the green light as soon as this fall."

Key members of the Obama administration have been gung ho about drilling in the Arctic--and that's because an awful lot of oil is at stake:

"Ken Salazar, the Interior secretary whose staff allowed BP to drill in the Gulf based on pro-industry rules cooked up during the Bush years, has made no secret of his determination to push the 'frontier' of oil drilling into the Arctic. The region's untapped waters are believed to hold as much as 27 billion barrels of oil--an amount that would rival some of the largest oil fields in the Middle East."


Both BP and Shell Oil have their eyes on the Arctic Ocean. But BP's plans are particularly alarming. BP created an oil rig by building an island--a "glorified mound of gravel," Rolling Stone calls it--that means the operation is not subject to offshore drilling restrictions:

"Here's what BP has in store for the Arctic: First, the company will drill two miles beneath its tiny island, which it has christened 'Liberty.' Then, in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles, until it reaches an offshore reservoir estimated to hold 105 million barrels of oil. This would be the longest 'extended reach' well ever attempted, and the effort has required BP to push drilling technology beyond its proven limits."

Should we trust BP with such a high-risk drilling operation? Evidence in the Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere, provides a clear answer:

"BP, a repeat felon subject to record fines for its willful safety violations, calls the project 'one of its biggest challenges to date'--an engineering task made even more dangerous by plans to operate year-round in what the company itself admits is 'some of the harshest weather on Earth.'"

Warning signs seem to be everywhere. But the U.S. Minerals Management Service has given its blessing to BP's plans:

"The Obama administration has been warned by its own scientists that drilling in the Arctic poses a grave risk to the environment. Last September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration urged the president to halt future leases in the Arctic, warning that federal regulators operating on Bush-era guidelines had 'greatly understated' the risks of drilling. Both industry and government, the scientists added, displayed a 'lack of preparedness for Arctic spill responses' and had failed to 'fully evaluate the potential impacts of worst-case scenarios.'"


What challenges come from drilling in the Arctic? Well, they are daunting:

"Experts also warn that a spill in the Arctic would be far worse than the disaster currently unfolding in the Gulf, where experienced contractors and relief equipment are close at hand. By contrast, the sites in the Arctic where Shell plans to drill are devilishly remote. The closest Coast Guard station is on Kodiak Island, some 1,000 miles away. The nearest cache of boom to help contain a spill is in Seattle--a distance of 2,000 miles. There are only two small airports in the region, and even if relief supplies could somehow be airlifted to the tundra, there are no industrial ports to offload equipment into the water. Relief equipment can realistically be brought to the region only by boat--and then only seasonally. The Arctic is encased in ice for more than half the year, and even icebreakers can't assure access in the dark of winter."

What is at stake? The Arctic features bountiful marine life, including polar bears, walruses, seals, gray and bowhead whales, and migratory seabirds from every continent but Europe.

Is it possible that we will not learn anything from the disaster in the Gulf? At the moment, it certainly looks that way:

"'Drilling in the Arctic should make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck,' says Sylvia Earle, the former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 'There are values there that transcend the value of any fossil fuel we can extract--irreplaceable ecosystems that we don't know how to put together again. There are some places you should not drill, period.'"

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Author's Bio: I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are all Republicans, and the attorney who filed a fraudulent lawsuit against me has strong family ties to the Alabama Republican Party, with indirect connections to national figures such as Karl Rove. In fact, a number of Republican operatives who have played a central role in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (a Democrat) also have connections to my case. I am married, with no kids and two Siamese cats. I am the author of the blog Legal Schnauzer. The blog is written in honor of Murphy, our miniature schnauzer (1993-2004)who did so much to help my wife and me survive our nightmarish experience with corrupt judges. I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, and I am pretty much a lifelong St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan. I've lived in Birmingham for almost 30 years and have adopted the UAB Blazers as my Southern college football and basketball team to follow. Also, follow East Tennessee State basketball. An avid reader, both fiction and non-fiction. Influential writers on public affairs are Kevin Phillips, Michael Lind, Thomas Edsall, E.J. Dionne, Molly Ivins, and Scott Horton.

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24) Tar mats 'size of school buses'
By GEOFF PENDER, MELISSA SCALLAN and DONNA MELTON
Posted on Thu, Jul. 08, 2010
http://www.sunherald.com/2010/07/07/2315960/tar-mats-size-of-school-buses.html

LONG BEACH - What appeared to be the largest amount of oily tar to hit the Mississippi Coast at one time was washing in from west of the Long Beach Harbor into the edge of Pass Christian late Wednesday night.

Crews also were removing large amounts of tar balls and patties that washed ashore Wednesday morning on a stretch of Hancock County beach from Nicholson Avenue to Lakeshore Drive.

Harrison County Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy said the material in Harrison County was "tar mats and patties ... kind of the consistency of liver." It was coming in over a 5- to 6-mile stretch from about a mile west of the harbor to the eastern edge of Pass Christian. He said the material was in large mats, floating near the bottom, and breaking up and washing onto the beach in smaller pieces.

Long Beach Fire Chief George Bass, the city's emergency manager, said Wednesday night there were some tar mats in the water "the size of school buses."

Lacy said workers began cleaning smaller pieces early Wednesday morning. Late Wednesday night there were about 300 cleanup workers out, planning to work through the night. He said some boats had been out trying to scoop up some of the material as well.

Mayor Billy Skellie said the largest tar patties, those the size of school buses, are out in the water and breaking up before they reach the beach.

Some parts of the beach are covered with thick, gooey oil balls, he said.

"There are two spots that are 20 yards wide and 40 yards long where it's pretty heavy," he said. "It's the largest amount of oil the cleanup crew said they've ever seen."

Lacy said he suspects rough seas the last few days had "pushed the product down," and as seas are returning to normal the tar is rolling onto the beach in eddies.

Hancock County officials said the Nicholson-to-Lakeshore area will probably be closed two to three days for cleanup. Sections of Beach Boulevard also were closed from Sears Avenue to Lakeshore Drive because the same type of oily tar was washing over the seawall and onto the flood-prone road.

"It's a safety hazard due to tar balls on there," Hancock County Emergency Manager Brian Adam said.

The closed parts of the road will take three to five days to clean, Adam said. Detours are marked. Some of the road was already closed for repaving projects, he said.

The state departments of Environmental Quality, Marine Resources and Health issued a joint news release Wednesday closing the area of beach from Nicholson Avenue almost to the Silver Slipper Casino at Bayou Caddy.

Silver Slipper General Manager John Ferrucci said Lakeshore Drive and Beach Boulevard are still open to the casino and it's business as usual there.

The casino's RV park is on the beach area that is closed, but Ferrucci said registered guests are still allowed access to the park.

Adam said southeasterly winds from a low-pressure system are causing the increase in tar balls, which started washing onto the beach in Bay St. Louis and Waveland on Saturday.

"That's what's pushing the water in on us," he said.

The tar balls and patties dotted the beach over the weekend, but are now covering most of the beach in that area.

Beach advisories remain in effect in Harrison County from Third Avenue at Henderson Point in Pass Christian eastward to Azalea Avenue in Biloxi.

The Jackson County advisory remains in effect and includes the area from Main Street in the Belle Fontaine area westward to Seashore Avenue.

DEQ urges people to avoid contact with oil-related materials such as tar balls and tar mats and stay out of the water if these materials are visible.

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25) Officer Guilty in Killing That Inflamed Oakland
By JESSE McKINLEY
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/us/09verdict.html?scp=1&sq=oscar%20grant&st=cse

A white Bay Area transit officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday by a Los Angeles jury in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on Jan. 1, 2009, ending a closely watched trial that percolated with racial tension and cries for peace in the city of Oakland, Calif., where the killing occurred.

The officer, Johannes Mehserle, 28, had been accused of a more serious charge, second-degree murder, in the death of Oscar Grant III, 22, a butcher's apprentice who was shot while lying face down on a platform after being removed from a Bay Area Rapid Transit train during a fight.

City officials were worried about a reprise of the 2009 riots that erupted in downtown Oakland, with crowds burning cars and smashing storefronts after Mr. Grant's shooting, which was captured on cellphone video and widely disseminated on the Internet.

Initial reaction on Thursday was not promising: several hundred people gathered near Oakland City Hall early in the evening, and were seen to be taunting police officers in riot gear and throwing bottles. At least one person was either hit by a vehicle or injured by the surging crowd. But a heavy police presence seemed to be keeping the peace, and hundreds of others were listening peacefully to speakers who had gathered downtown.

Mr. Mehserle, who contended that the shooting was an accident caused when he mistook his sidearm for his Taser, faces up to four years in prison, and additional prison time because a gun was involved in his crime. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 6.

Mr. Grant's family seemed disappointed with the verdict, which came after just a day and a half of deliberation by the case's final jury. "We thought the jury was dismissive," said John Burris, a lawyer for the Grant family. "It's a small victory, but it is not a fair representation of what happened, an officer standing over him with his hands tied and shooting him."

The verdict, announced to a packed courtroom at Los Angeles Superior Court, was preceded by anxious moments in downtown Oakland, where some merchants were boarding up storefronts in recent days in expectation of civil unrest.

Yolanda Mesa, 31, who said she was Mr. Grant's sister-in-law, arrived downtown after the verdict and criticized the absence of blacks on the jury in Los Angeles. "We are not happy with this at all," she said. "This is not justice."

But for some, the very fact of a conviction of a police officer - a member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit police, not the Oakland force - was some solace. Black residents in Oakland, who make up a large portion of the population, have long had an uneasy relationship with the city's police, whose past episodes of brutality and malfeasance have led to a long period of oversight by independent monitors and a federal judge.

"We've been suffering police brutality for generations," said Lesley Phillips, a longtime Oakland resident. "We want it to end."

City officials and the police in Oakland had been preparing for the verdict for several weeks as arguments were under way in Los Angeles, where the trial had been moved because of worries about impaneling an impartial jury in Alameda County. Reaction in front of the Los Angeles courtroom was calm, but officials in Oakland closed City Hall and sent city workers home soon after word that a verdict had been reached.

Mayor Ron Dellums and Police Chief Anthony W. Batts had been urging calm as the jury began deliberating. The police had also been put on alert, practicing antiriot maneuvers and coordinating with representatives of several local agencies in case of civil unrest. City officials had argued that much of the violence from earlier riots had been caused by "outside agitators."

That message was echoed by a group called Oakland for Justice, which organized an evening rally to create "a safe space" where youths wouldn't be "exposed to the risk of arrest because of the actions of others."

But Arnold Lucas Jr., 19, said he was depressed by the verdict and thought it was unfair. "It's the same thing as Rodney King," he said. "Its 2010. The same thing is going on. There's never going to be peace on earth."

City Councilwoman Jean Quan said: "I don't think anyone is really happy with the verdict. At least we're pleased he didn't get total acquittal."

Rebecca Cathcart contributed reporting from Los Angeles Carol Pogash and Tad Whitaker from Oakland.

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26) Court Rejects Moratorium on Drilling in the Gulf
"The administration's order halted 33 exploratory drilling projects and suspended new permits, but did not affect more than 3,000 platforms already in production."
By JOHN M. BRODER
July 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/us/09drill.html?ref=us

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Thursday turned down the Obama administration's effort to enforce a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled shortly after a hearing in a lawsuit filed by companies that claim they are being financially crippled by the suspension of drilling.

The Interior Department said the moratorium was necessary because of the uncertainties about the cause of the BP oil well blowout in April, a shortage of response equipment and a need to write strict new drilling rules. The moratorium was struck down by a lower court on June 22 by a federal judge who found it arbitrary and economically ruinous to industry.

The appeals court found that the Interior Department failed to show the federal government would suffer "irreparable injury" if the moratorium is lifted while it appeals the trial court's decision.

A senior administration official said earlier Thursday that the Interior Department would immediately issue a new moratorium if it lost the court case. Those new regulations, revising the earlier suspension, could come as early as Friday.

In the afternoon hearing, industry lawyers urged the court to uphold the lower court ruling striking down the moratorium. "People are being put out of jobs," said Carl D. Rosenblum, a lawyer representing Hornbeck Offshore Services, a Louisiana firm that provides goods and services to offshore drilling and pumping platforms. "Rigs are leaving the gulf, and going to foreign waters."

Government lawyers responded that the suspension of drilling was justified. Michael T. Gray, a Justice Department lawyer representing the administration, said Congress gave the Interior Department the authority to take such actions to protect the environment and worker safety.

Hornbeck and a dozen other oil industry companies brought the suit last month, claiming their livelihoods were threatened by the federal drilling ban. They were supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and other local officials around the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Jindal said outside the courtroom on Thursday that the oil spill had already ruined Louisiana's seafood industry and dampened tourism throughout the region. The drilling ban, he said, is costing thousands of Louisianans their jobs.

Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of United States District Court in New Orleans agreed with the oil industry in a ruling handed down on June 22, saying that the federal moratorium was overly broad. He said the suspension of drilling was punitive to companies with good safety records and not supported by fact or history.

The administration's order halted 33 exploratory drilling projects and suspended new permits, but did not affect more than 3,000 platforms already in production.

Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group, reported on Thursday that two of the judges on the appeals court panel, Jerry E. Smith and W. Eugene Davis, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan, had represented the oil and gas industries while in private practice. Judge Smith's clients included Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Sunoco. Judge Davis represented a number of companies involved in offshore drilling and other oil field operations.

Judge Davis's 2008 financial disclosure reports listed $2,000 to $30,000 in investments in gas and oil concerns; Judge Smith had none.

The third judge on the panel, James L. Dennis, appointed by President Bill Clinton, had investments in at least 18 energy companies valued at between $31,000 and $300,000, the group found. Judge Dennis sold a stake in Transocean, the company that was drilling the well under contract to BP, in 2006, according to financial disclosure reports compiled by the group.

David Winkler-Schmit contributed reporting from New Orleans.

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