Friday, July 02, 2010





G20 Police Accused of Rape Threats, Strip-Searches
29 June 2010


I Read Some Marx (And I Liked It)


BP Slick Covers Dolphins and


Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10


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]


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




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:

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


Workshop and Political Analysis on Latin America
Saturday, July 3
At Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St., SF

11:00 AM - Presentations about Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Honduras
12:00 PM - Lunch Break
01:00 PM - Workshops to brainstorm tactics
02:00 PM - Assembly where each group will present the results of their workshops

Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Honduras have become key chess pieces for the control and the destabilization of the continent by the United States, the military coup in Honduras, the militarization of the border by the governments of Mexico and U.S.A, and the military bases in Colombia are only part of a situation that is more complex and profound. We will present a political analysis and workshops in order to plan solidarity actions in accordance to what the people that are struggling for sovereignty for a just society and against United States imperialist ask us to do.

Contact: Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition,
Free Event (Donations are Welcome)

Sábado, 03 de Julio
En el Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St., SF

Taller y Análisis Políticos Sobre América Latina

11:00 AM - Presentaciones sobre Colombia, México, Perú y Honduras
12:00 PM - Almuerzo
01:00 PM - Talleres para crear tácticas
02:00 PM - Assemblea en la que cada grupo presentará los resultados

Colombia, México, Perú y Honduras se han convertido en las piezas de ajedrez claves para el control y la desestabilización del continente por los Estados Unidos; el golpe militar en Honduras, la militarización de la frontera por parte del gobierno Mexicano y Estadunidense y las bases militares en Colombia son solo parte de una situación mucho más profunda y compleja que se presentara con análisis políticos y con talleres para planificar nuestro accionar en solidaridad de acuerdo a lo que nos piden los pueblos que aun luchan por su soberanía por una sociedad más justa y contra el imperio norteamericano.

Contacto: Coalición en Solidaridad con Latinoamérica de la Área de la Bahía,
Evento Grauito (Donaciones son Bienvenidas)

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545


After the historic Oakland port victory, time to intensify the struggle
Netanyahu in U.S.-Protest in the Streets!
at Israeli Consulate, 456 Montgomery St., SF
Tuesday, July 6, 4:30-6:30pm

Bring down the blockade of Gaza and Israel's apartheid wall!
Free Palestine-End colonial occupation!
Justice for the victims of Israel's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla!
End U.S. aid to Israel-Boycott Israeli Ships and Goods!

The 24-hour shutdown of the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland where an Israeli Zim lines ship docked on June 20 was an historic victory. More than 1,000 people joined the morning and afternoon mass picket lines, which were honored by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10. June 20 was the first time ever that an Israeli ship was boycotted in a U.S. port. Norwegian, Swedish and South African dock workers have called protests refusing to handle Israeli cargo.

The worldwide BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israeli apartheid is rapidly gaining momentum. Just last week, the largest British public workers union, UNISON, which has more than 1.4 million members passed a motion at it's national conference reading, in part: "Conference reaffirms the support for an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of Israel and call on Unison to join the scores of unions around the world who have endorsed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Further to that as an immediate sanction for the illegal attack on the flotilla, we call on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador."

Demonstrations are planned in Washington DC, San Francisco and other cities on July 6.
Join the protest at the Israeli consulate on July 6 and bring your friends, neighbors, fellow workers and students.

Initiated by: A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition-Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. Please reply to this email if your organization would like to be listed as a co-sponsor.

Volunteers and donations needed!
Call 415-821-6545 to volunteer or come by the ANSWER office to pick up leaflets and posters, 2489 Mission St. #24, SF. Volunteers are needed to help hand out leaflets, put up posters for the action and make alert phone calls to other activists. Click here to make a much-needed donation:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545


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
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
Doors will open at 2pm

And check out this article (link) too!


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

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!


Click here for details and figures showing why these corporations have no excuse not to provide hotel workers affordable quality health care:

UNITE HERE! Local 2 - Hotel Workers Struggle for a Contract in San Francisco:

Check our Websites:

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,
415-864-8770 ext. 759


United National
Peace Conference
July 23 - 25, 2010, Albany, NY or UNAC at P.O. Box 21675, Cleveland, OH 44121

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 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!


For more information: or call 518-227-6947. A registration form is attached. Brochures announcing the conference can be ordered by writing


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

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.

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:





Georgia: Witnesses in Murder Case Recant
June 23, 2010

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.
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: | | Savannah Branch NAACP: 912-233-4161


Two Pensacola Beach Scenes: Dying Baby Dolphin and Ocean "Water Bubbling "...Like It's Got Acid In It. God Help Us All"
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.




ROV films oil leak coming from rock cracks on seafloor.


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


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

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:

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: .

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

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


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
150 Park Row
New York, New York 10007

In Solidarity,

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


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.)

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.


Roger Waters - "We Shall Overcome" for Gaza


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?"


Rachel Maddow: Disgraceful response to the oil itself


It Ain't My Fault by Mos Def & Lenny Kravitz |


Gulf Oil Spill?

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

**Senate Approves Nearly $60 Billion for Wars
May 27, 2010

Watch BP Live Video Webcam Camera Feed of Gulf Oil Spill Here! (Update 7)

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.

Live BP Gulf Oil Spill Webcam Video Reveals 5 Leaks

Stop Shell Oil's Offshore Drilling Plans in the Arctic

Sign the Petition to Ban Offshore Drilling Now!



[ 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


This is just inspiring! You have to watch it!
Don't Get Caught in a Bad Hotel



[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!]


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*:


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. . ."


Operation Small Axe - Trailer


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"

(A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www.

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

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


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



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.



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

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

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


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:

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.

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


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO


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.
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 and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) Alex to Become Hurricane, Delay Oil Spill Efforts
June 28, 2010

2) Police in Toronto Criticized for Treatment of Protesters, Many Peaceful
June 27, 2010

3) Save a Whale, Save a Soul, Goes the Cry
June 25, 2010

4) Sticking the public with the bill for the bankers' crisis
By Naomi Klein
June 28, 2010

5) Shell: deep-water oil drilling will go on
"It appears BP will be given the go-ahead to drill in deep-water sites off the coast of north Africa. The head of Libya's National Oil Company said today that the 'accident' in the Gulf of Mexico would not mean that BP lost its contract to drill for oil in the Mediterranean Sea...'Accidents happen all the time. If an air crash takes place, we don't stop air traffic,' said Shokri Ghanem. 'So we have to continue but we take this step to learn more lessons.'"
BY Graeme Wearden
Sunday 27 June 2010 19.09 BST

6) BP accused of killing endangered sea turtles in cleanup operation
Environmentalists press Obama administration to put a halt to BP's 'burn fields' to dispose of oil from the Gulf spill
BY Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Friday 25 June 2010 23.16 BST

7) Wrong Track Distress
June 28, 2010

8) BP Discussing a Backup Strategy to Contain Oil
June 28, 2010

9) Recovery Effort in Gulf Expected to Continue Despite Storm
June 28, 2010

10) Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10

11) Who Will Fight for the Unemployed?
June 29, 2010

12) Governments Moving to Cut Spending, in Echo of 1930s
June 29, 2010

13) Winds From Gulf Storm Disrupt Cleanup Efforts
June 29, 2010

14) Banned Trailers Return for Latest Gulf Disaster
"But federal officials have struggled to figure out what to do with the contaminated trailers, which have cost nearly $130 million a year to store and maintain, according to federal records. As a result, the government decided to sell the trailers in 2006. The trailers have found a ready market in the gulf. 'The price was right,' said Buddy Fuzzell, an executive with Cahaba Disaster Recovery, a contracting firm that bought 15 trailers for about 45 cleanup workers. Several buyers said in interviews that they were unaware of any prohibition on using the trailers for housing."
June 30, 2010

15) Turkish Aid From Flotilla Begins Arriving in Gaza
June 30, 2010

16) House Panel Votes to Ease Cuba Travel Restrictions
June 30, 2010

17) Waves From Storm Hinder Spill Effort
June 30, 2010

18) Interior Delays Offshore Expansion Hearings
June 30, 2010

19) Economy Hurts Government Aid for H.I.V. Drugs
June 30, 2010

20) Biologists find 'dead zones' around BP oil spill in Gulf
Methane at 100,000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted areas devoid of life near BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, according to two independent scientists
By Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Wednesday 30 June 2010 19.49 BST

21) House Passes $80 Billion War Spending Bill
July 1, 2010

22) For Lynne Stewart: FREEDOM!
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
[col. writ. 6/26/10


1) Alex to Become Hurricane, Delay Oil Spill Efforts
June 28, 2010

Filed at 11:58 a.m. ET

CAMPECHE, Mexico (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Alex was likely to become a hurricane on Tuesday, delaying BP Plc's efforts to increase siphoning capacity at the gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters said Alex was moving slowly away from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The storm, however, is not expected to hurt current oil-capture systems at the BP oil spill or the company's plans to drill of a pair of relief wells intended to plug the leak by August, a BP executive told reporters in Houston.

Protectively, Shell Oil Co, Exxon Mobil Corp and Apache Corp evacuated nonessential workers from platforms near the forecast path of Alex. Shell also shut subsea production at the Auger and Brutus platforms during the weekend.

Oil prices fell toward $78 per barrel on Monday as most forecasters predicted the storm would pass southwest of major U.S. offshore oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

A hurricane watch has been issued for the coast of Texas south of Baffin bay to La Cruz in Mexico.

The ports of Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas, which handle 80 percent of all Mexico's oil export shipping in the Gulf of Mexico, have been closed since on Sunday due to strong surf in the area.

State-run oil giant Pemex said its platforms in the Campeche Sound were working normally on Sunday and that there was no evacuation plan yet due to Alex. Pemex officials were expecting updated reports from their facilities in the Gulf on Monday morning.

The storm is due to make landfall again between Brownsville, Texas, and Ciudad Madero in Mexico at mid-week, mostly sparing BP oil collection efforts south of Louisiana.

Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, had sustained winds of about 60 mph with higher gusts and was located about 85 miles west-northwest of Campeche, Mexico. The system was moving north-northwest at 7 mph.

"Some strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days and Alex is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on its latest update.


At least nine people were killed in Central America in accidents related to Alex, local authorities reported.

Two people died in El Salvador from flooding, two others were killed in a landslide in Guatemala and five people were swept away by swelling rivers in Nicaragua, emergency officials told Reuters.

Alex was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Yucatan Peninsula, southern Mexico and parts of Guatemala through Tuesday. Isolated amounts of up to 10 inches were possible over mountainous areas. Forecasters warned the rain could cause flash floods and mudslides.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 and meteorologists predict this year will be a very active one. Hurricanes feed on warm water and the sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are higher than usual this year.

(Additional reporting by Jose Cortazar in Cancun, Nelson Renteria in El Salvador, Sarah Grainger in Guatemala, Ivan Castro in Nicaragua and Mica Rosenberg in Mexico City; Editing by Vicki Allen)


2) Police in Toronto Criticized for Treatment of Protesters, Many Peaceful
June 27, 2010

TORONTO - An escalation of aggressive police tactics toward even apparently peaceful protests at the Group of 20 summit meeting led to calls for a review of security activities.

After allowing a small group of people to burn police cars and smash windows unimpeded on Saturday afternoon, many of the 20,000 police officers deployed in Toronto changed tactics that evening and during the last day of the gathering.

There was a notable increase in both the numbers of police officers who surrounded demonstrations as well as more use of tear gas and rubber or plastic bullets. At the same time, there was a visible drop in the number of demonstrators in the city streets.

As a result, the violence by some demonstrators that marred the opening of the Group of 20 meeting did not reappear on Sunday, and more than 600 people were arrested Saturday and Sunday.

"Civil liberties are in rough shape today," said Nathalie Des Rosiers, the general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which had two of its observers arrested and detained. "We will have to have some accountability for what is going on."

In a statement, the Canadian branch of Amnesty International called on governments to review the security measures made for the meeting, including a temporary suspension of various civil liberties in the portion of this city's downtown near the meeting site.

"The amount of money, reported to be in excess of $1 billion, that has been spent on security measures in Toronto over the past several days has been unprecedented," the rights group said. "Yet on one hand extensive acts of vandalism and other violence were carried out and on the other hand thousands of individuals felt nervous and uneasy about exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest."

The violence was not exceptional compared with problems at previous international meetings, like the World Trade Organization's gathering in Seattle in 1999. Toronto's shopping district sustained the greatest damage but quickly became something of a tourist attraction.

But it was nevertheless extraordinary for Toronto, a city with little history of violent protests. David Miller, the city's mayor, was among the many who swiftly condemned it. "Does today send signals about Toronto that I wish weren't sent?" he said on Saturday evening. "Absolutely."

Wesley K. Wark, a professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in intelligence and national security, was critical of the actions of the police. He said Toronto's experience should be a warning against holding future meetings in large urban centers.

"Whatever good comes out of the G-8/G-20 will be forever overshadowed by the violence," he said.

William Blair, the city's police chief, did not respond directly to the widespread criticism over the lack of police response during the period of violence. But at a news conference, he suggested that officers were deliberately held back.

The protesters, the overwhelming majority of whom were peaceful, promoted a variety of causes. Many were challenging the legitimacy of the Group of 20 and proposing that governments work through the United Nations. Others championed specific issues, particularly in relation to human rights and the environment.

As the police escalated their tactics, reporters were often kept at bay. Steve Paikin, a prominent Toronto journalist, said that he was escorted away by two police officers who saw his media credentials just before they moved to arrest a large number of demonstrators who were protesting the city's temporary restrictions on civil liberties.

Mr. Paikin said he saw another journalist, Jesse Rosenfeld, a contributor to Web site of The Guardian, the British newspaper, being held by two police officers while a third punched the reporter in the stomach. After Mr. Rosenfeld fell to the ground, the third officer jabbed an elbow into his back, Mr. Paikin said. Mr. Rosenfeld was released later on Sunday, his family said.The heavily protected meeting area in the city's downtown core attracted relatively few protesters on Sunday. The largest crowds gathered outside a film studio being used a base for security operations as well as a temporary jail where several people said that they were held in what they described as large cages.

The police conducted several raids on Sunday, arresting about 70 people at the University of Toronto in the morning and 80 people at a legal services clinic.

To avoid breaking Canadian laws about detention, five special courtrooms in suburban Toronto began processing arrested protesters on Sunday afternoon.


3) Save a Whale, Save a Soul, Goes the Cry
June 25, 2010

WHEN the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission ended on Friday with the 24-year ban on commercial whaling still intact, however tenuous its hold and leviathan its loopholes, sighs of relief issued from many quarters - along with, no doubt, a volley of whistles, clicks and proudly parochial squeals.

After two years of transcontinental haggling, the commission had been expected to replace today's hunting ban with limited hunting quotas. Supporters of the policy change had argued that by specifying how many whales of a given species could be sustainably harvested over a 10-year period, and by tightening or eliminating current loopholes through which whaling nations like Japan and Norway kill the marine mammals for "scientific" purposes, the new measure would effectively reduce the number of whales slaughtered each year.

Yet many biologists who study whales and dolphins view such a compromise as deeply flawed, and instead urge that negotiators redouble efforts to abolish commercial whaling and dolphin hunting entirely. As these scientists see it, the evidence is high and mounting that the cetacean order includes species second only to humans in mental, social and behavioral complexity, and that maybe we shouldn't talk about what we're harvesting or harpooning, but whom.

"At the very least, you could put it in line with hunting chimps," said Hal Whitehead, who studies sperm whales at Dalhousie University in Halifax. "When you compare relative brain size, or levels of self-awareness, sociality, the importance of culture, cetaceans come out on most of these measures in the gap between chimps and humans. They fit the philosophical definition of personhood."

How much more personable can you get than to wave the flag for tribe or team? Among sperm and killer whales, Dr. Whitehead said, "there's a feeling of what one might call ethnicity or cultural identity, of saying, 'This is my clan, and it's different from the others.' " One way whales express their ethnicity is through dialect. Every clan has its signature call, and in regions of the ocean where two clans overlap, the differences between calls become exaggerated. "It's like if you're Irish and you run across someone who is Scottish or Welsh," said Dr. Whitehead. "You'll speak with an even stronger Irish accent to make it really clear whose group you belong to."

When Richard C. Connor of the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth began studying bottlenose dolphins in the 1980s, he had no idea what to expect. "What I discovered was way beyond anything I might have imagined," Dr. Connor said. "Bottlenose dolphins have incredibly complex social lives mediated by emotions and feelings very much like our own." They are so sweet! "Dolphins pet and stroke each other a lot, and rub against each other in a gentle way," Dr. Connor said. And so mean! "It can be easy to tell when they're upset with each other," he said. "They have quite a few different vocalizations to express their displeasure."

Whatever they say, they say it with that unwavering, inviting, inscrutable dolphin smile. "They give no external cues when making their calls," said Janet Mann, a dolphin researcher at Georgetown University. "They don't open their mouths. The sound comes out of their forehead." The perceptual landscape of whales and dolphins is radically different from our own, she said, dominated by sonic narratives conveyed over miles and sung in ranges often far beyond the scope of our ears or devices. "The Navy salivates when it thinks about dolphin echolocation," she said.

If cetaceans seem, as Dr. Mann put it, "like intelligent aliens living among us," well, their terrestrial ancestors parted ways with ours more than 95 million years ago, and took to the seas 40 million years later. The cetacean brain has been evolving to its own mariner rhythms ever since. Its neocortex, the uppermost layer of neural tissue associated with learning, memory and other cognitive feats, is notably thinner than that of a primate brain, yet at the same time more deeply convoluted than even our own; and the more corrugated the cortex, the greater the surface area, or potential work space, of the brain. "It looks like a giant general-information-processing organ," said Dr. Mann.

Whale brains are indeed giant. At roughly 18 pounds to our 3, the sperm whale brain is the largest of any animal on earth. More significantly, the ratio of brain size to body mass in the sperm whale and other toothed whales and dolphins is impressively high, bested only by ours.

What to do with all that intellectual firepower? Primp in the mirror, of course. Dolphins have passed the famed mirror self-recognition test, which bespeaks possession of an inner life and a concomitant concern with its packaging. When presented with a mirror, dolphins take the opportunity to check their teeth and body parts they can't normally see, like their anal slit.

Or why not become a slave to fashion? One day, a killer whale in Puget Sound started pushing a dead salmon around in the water. The other whales in her community thought that was "really cool," Dr. Whitehead said, "and within a few weeks, everybody had a dead salmon they were pushing around." By summer's end, the fad was over, and the behavior was never seen again.

Yes, brainy cetaceans love to play copycat. When a wild bottlenose dolphin was injured in Australia and taken into an aquarium for rehabilitation, the mammal learned from its captive tank mates the trick of using its tail to walk on the surface of the water. On being released back into the ocean, the dolphin continued to tail-walk, said Dr. Whitehead, "and soon the other wild dolphins started doing it, too." Cetaceans are master mimics. "One prominent chimp scientist admitted that dolphins ape humans better than apes do," said Dr. Whitehead.

But mostly, whales and dolphins apply their minds to weighty matters, like learning what to eat and how to forage - and where to find the tastiest fish, and what your personal whistle will sound like, and where your mother, sisters, aunts, grandmother and great-aunts and your second cousin once removed can be found, and who your fast friends and half-friends may be, and which male ally deserted you when you needed a posse to help herd a fertile but recalcitrant female around. Whaling not only kills individual whales, scientists said. It can disrupt social networks an ocean wide and tens of thousands of Moby and Mabel Dicks strong.


4) Sticking the public with the bill for the bankers' crisis
By Naomi Klein
June 28, 2010

My city feels like a crime scene and the criminals are all melting into the night, fleeing the scene. No, I'm not talking about the kids in black who smashed windows and burned cop cars on Saturday.

I'm talking about the heads of state who, on Sunday night, smashed social safety nets and burned good jobs in the middle of a recession. Faced with the effects of a crisis created by the world's wealthiest and most privileged strata, they decided to stick the poorest and most vulnerable people in their countries with the bill.

How else can we interpret the G20's final communiqué, which includes not even a measly tax on banks or financial transactions, yet instructs governments to slash their deficits in half by 2013. This is a huge and shocking cut, and we should be very clear who will pay the price: students who will see their public educations further deteriorate as their fees go up; pensioners who will lose hard-earned benefits; public-sector workers whose jobs will be eliminated. And the list goes on. These types of cuts have already begun in many G20 countries including Canada, and they are about to get a lot worse.

They are happening for a simple reason. When the G20 met in London in 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, the leaders failed to band together to regulate the financial sector so that this type of crisis would never happen again. All we got was empty rhetoric, and an agreement to put trillions of dollars in public monies on the table to shore up the banks around the world. Meanwhile the U.S. government did little to keep people in their homes and jobs, so in addition to hemorrhaging public money to save the banks, the tax base collapsed, creating an entirely predictable debt and deficit crisis.

At this weekend's summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper convinced his fellow leaders that it simply wouldn't be fair to punish those banks that behaved well and did not create the crisis (despite the fact that Canada's highly protected banks are consistently profitable and could easily absorb a tax). Yet somehow these leaders had no such concerns about fairness when they decided to punish blameless individuals for a crisis created by derivative traders and absentee regulators.

Last week, The Globe and Mail published a fascinating article about the origins of the G20. It turns out the entire concept was conceived in a meeting back in 1999 between then finance minister Paul Martin and his U.S. counterpart Lawrence Summers (itself interesting since Mr. Summers was at that time playing a central role in creating the conditions for this financial crisis allowing a wave of bank consolidation and refusing to regulate derivatives).

The two men wanted to expand the G7, but only to countries they considered strategic and safe. They needed to make a list but apparently they didn't have paper handy. So, according to reporters John Ibbitson and Tara Perkins, "the two men grabbed a brown manila envelope, put it on the table between them, and began sketching the framework of a new world order." Thus was born the G20.

The story is a good reminder that history is shaped by human decisions, not natural laws. Mr. Summers and Mr. Martin changed the world with the decisions they scrawled on the back of that envelope. But there is nothing to say that citizens of G20 countries need to take orders from this hand-picked club.

Already, workers, pensioners and students have taken to the streets against austerity measures in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Greece, often marching under the slogan: "We won't pay for your crisis." And they have plenty of suggestions for how to raise revenues to meet their respective budget shortfalls.

Many are calling for a financial transaction tax that would slow down hot money and raise new money for social programs and climate change. Others are calling for steep taxes on polluters that would underwrite the cost of dealing with the effects of climate change and moving away from fossil fuels. And ending losing wars is always a good cost-saver.

The G20 is an ad hoc institution with none of the legitimacy of the United Nations. Since it just tried to stick us with a huge bill for a crisis most of us had no hand in creating, I say we take a cue from Mr. Martin and Mr. Summers. Flip it over, and write on the back of the envelope: Return to sender.


5) Shell: deep-water oil drilling will go on
"It appears BP will be given the go-ahead to drill in deep-water sites off the coast of north Africa. The head of Libya's National Oil Company said today that the 'accident' in the Gulf of Mexico would not mean that BP lost its contract to drill for oil in the Mediterranean Sea...'Accidents happen all the time. If an air crash takes place, we don't stop air traffic,' said Shokri Ghanem. 'So we have to continue but we take this step to learn more lessons.'"
BY Graeme Wearden
Sunday 27 June 2010 19.09 BST

Royal Dutch Shell's boss, Peter Voser, insisted that today it was not possible to satisfy the world's growing energy demands without drilling for oil in deep-water reserves, despite the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

At a conference in South Africa, Voser defended the oil industry's push into deeper oil reserves and said Shell would continue to play its part, even as a tropical storm threatened to disrupt BP's efforts to clean up oil off the coast of Louisiana.

"Given the rise in the population and the rise in the developing world of energy needs, we will have to develop those resources in deep waters, so my expectation is that we will go forward with it, but it will need some changes," Voser told the Fortune Global Forum in Cape Town.

It is now 68 days since the Deep-water Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, triggering a devastating leak on the seabed in which 100,000 barrels of oil have spewed into the water. BP's failure to cap the leak has put the oil industry's safety record under fierce scrutiny, with environmental campaigners demanding that deep-water drilling is banned until safety measures have been improved.

Voser, though, implied that the Macondo well would not have erupted with such devastating consequences if Shell, rather than BP, had been in charge.

"We would not have drilled the well in the same way. We have got other safety procedures across the globe. But I think for some companies there will be some learning from this as well," Voser said.

The future of deep-water drilling remains uncertain, after a US judge overturned a six-month ban imposed by President Barack Obama. The US is appealing against the ruling but may have to rewrite the moratorium if it is to prevent new wells being drilled in the Gulf this year.

It appears BP will be given the go-ahead to drill in deep-water sites off the coast of north Africa. The head of Libya's National Oil Company said today that the "accident" in the Gulf of Mexico would not mean that BP lost its contract to drill for oil in the Mediterranean Sea.

"Accidents happen all the time. If an air crash takes place, we don't stop air traffic," said Shokri Ghanem. "So we have to continue but we take this step to learn more lessons."

BP's shares plunged 6.5% to a new 14-year low of 298p last Friday, meaning that more than £60bn has been wiped off its market capitalisation since 20 April.

Weather experts warned today that Tropical Storm Alex could hamper the clean-up operation in the Gulf. Although Alex is not expected to cross over the area of the spill directly, it could generate high waves that would make it harder to collect some of the leaking oil or prevent the spill reaching land.

The UK continues to argue that BP should not be forced to pay excessive levels of compensation that would endanger its future as a company. Speaking at the G20 summit, chancellor George Osborne said David Cameron had reminded Obama that BP was an international company.

"We have stressed that BP is an important global business. It has many investors in the US, it is the largest oil company in the US and it is both in the US interest and the UK interest that BP has a strong future," said Osborne.

BP has put $20bn (£13bn) into a compensation fund, but faces the prospect of claims from tens of thousands of people indirectly affected by the spill. Last Friday, a top New Orleans chef, Susan Spicer, sued the company over the loss of valuable local seafood.


6) BP accused of killing endangered sea turtles in cleanup operation
Environmentalists press Obama administration to put a halt to BP's 'burn fields' to dispose of oil from the Gulf spill
BY Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Friday 25 June 2010 23.16 BST

Endangered sea turtles and other marine creatures are being corralled into 500 square-mile "burn fields" and burnt alive in operations intended to contain oil from BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration confirmed today.

The killing of the turtles - which once teetered on the brink of extinction - has outraged environmentalists and could put BP into even deeper legal jeopardy.

Environmental organisations are demanding that the oil company stop blocking rescue of the turtles, and are pressing the US administration to halt the burning and look at prosecuting BP and its contractors for killing endangered species during the cleanup operation. Harming or killing a sea turtle carries fines of up to $50,000 (£33,000).

"It is criminal and cruel and they need to be held accountable," said Carole Allen, Gulf office director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. "There should not be another lighting of a fire of any kind till people have gone in there and looked for turtles."

The Obama administration, confirming the kills, said BP was under orders to avoid the turtles. "My understanding is that protocols include looking for wildlife prior to igniting of oil," a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said. "We take these things very seriously."

The agency this week posted a single turtle spotter on the burn vessels, but government scientists are pressing for more wildlife experts to try to rescue the animals before the oil is lit - or at the very least to give them access to the burn fields.

"One can't just ride through an area where they are burning and expect to be safe while looking for turtles. We don't expect that, but we would like to access those areas where we suspect there may be turtles," said Blair Witherington, a sea turtle research scientist at Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

More than 425 turtles are known to have died in the spill zone since 30 April, Noaa said.

Conservationists say the losses could imperil the long-term survival of the creatures. All five species of turtles found in the Gulf are endangered or threatened: the Kemp's Ridley most of all.

But in a video posted on YouTube, Mike Ellis, a skipper from Venice, Louisiana, accuses BP of chasing away a boat of conservationists trying to rescue turtles caught in the oil and weed a few miles away from the leak.

"They ran us out of there and then they shut us down," said Ellis.

On days when the weather is fine and there is relatively no wind, BP conducts up to a dozen "controlled burns", torching vast expanses of the ocean surface within a corral of fireproof booms.

Biologists say such burns are deadly for young turtles because oil and sargassum - the seaweed mats that provide nutrients to jellyfish and a range of other creatures - - congregate in the same locations. The sargassum is also a perfect hunting ground for young sea turtles, who are not developed enough to dive to the ocean floor to forage for food.

Once BP moves in, the turtles are doomed. "They drag a boom between two shrimp boats and whatever gets caught between the two boats, they circle it up and catch it on fire. Once the turtles are in there, they can't get out," Ellis said.

The heartbreak for conservationists is that the convergence of sargassum and oil offers the best chance of finding young turtles before they suffocate on the crude. But it can also be deadly.

"When they breathe and come to the surface, they get a mouthful and a bellyful of toxic substance that is very much like wallpaper paste," said John Hewitt, the director of husbandry at the New Orleans aquarium. "If we don't remove them and clean them up, in three or four days that probably spells the end of the turtle."

Since the spill, the aquarium has taken in 90 sea turtles, scrubbing the oil off their shells with toothbrushes and washing-up liquid.

Even before the fires, the two-month gusher in the Gulf of Mexico was threatening the long-term survival of sea turtles.

"This is the worst calamity that I have ever seen for sea turtles," said David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy. "This is really the cradle of sea turtle reproduction for the western hemisphere."The threat to the turtles could continue well after the gusher is capped. The oil spill is turning vast expanses of the Gulf into a dead zone, killing off the jellyfish, crabs and conches that are the staples of an adult diet.

Conservationists are also worried about the survival of the next generation of loggerhead turtles, which are about to climb up on to badly oiled shorelines to begin their nesting season. "They are doomed" said Godfrey.

Godfrey said his organisation was working on plans to dig up about 1,000 nests, or 100,000 eggs, from nesting grounds in the Florida Panhandle and transfer them to hatcheries for safekeeping. "It is a last gasp measure to save 100,000 young sea turtles," he said. "We need every one of these turtles to survive."


7) Wrong Track Distress
June 28, 2010

It's getting harder and harder for most Americans, looking honestly at the state of the nation, to see the glass as half full. And that's why the public opinion polls contain nothing but bad news for Barack Obama and the Democrats.

The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the war in Afghanistan and, above all, the continuing epidemic of joblessness have pushed the nation into a funk. All the crowing in the world about the administration's legislative accomplishments - last year's stimulus package, this year's health care reform, etc. - is not enough to lift the gloom.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats have wasted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity handed to them in the 2008 election. They did not focus on jobs, jobs, jobs as their primary mission, and they did not call on Americans to join in a bold national effort (which would have required a great deal of shared sacrifice) to solve a wide range of very serious problems, from our over-reliance on fossil fuels to the sorry state of public education to the need to rebuild the nation's rotting infrastructure.

All of that could have been pulled together under the umbrella of job creation - short-term and long-term. In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Obama's historic victory, and with the trauma of the economic collapse still upon us, it would have been very difficult for Republicans on Capitol Hill to stand in the way of a rebuild-America campaign aimed at putting millions of men and women back to work.

Mr. Obama had campaigned on the mantra of change, and that would have been the kind of change that working people could have gotten behind. But it never happened. Job creation was the trump card in the hand held by Mr. Obama and the Democrats, but they never played it. And now we're paying a fearful price.

Fifteen million Americans are unemployed, according to the official count, which wildly understates the reality. Assuming no future economic setbacks and job creation at a rate of 200,000 or so a month, it would take more than a decade to get us back to where we were when the Great Recession began in December 2007. But we're nowhere near that kind of sustained job growth. Last month, a measly 41,000 private-sector jobs were created.

We are in deep, deep gumbo.

The Obama administration feels it should get a great deal of credit for its economic stimulus efforts, its health care initiative, its financial reform legislation, its vastly increased aid to education and so forth. And maybe if we were grading papers, there would be a fair number of decent marks to be handed out.

But Americans struggling in a down economy are worried about the survival of their families. Destitution is beckoning for those whose unemployment benefits are running out, and that crowd of long-term jobless men and women is expanding rapidly.

There is a widespread feeling that only the rich and well-placed can count on Washington's help, and that toxic sentiment is spreading like the oil stain in the gulf, with ominous implications for President Obama and his party. It's in this atmosphere that support for the president and his agenda is sinking like a stone.

Employment is the No. 1 issue for most ordinary Americans. Their anxiety on this front only grows as they watch teachers, firefighters and police officers lining up to walk the unemployment plank as state and local governments wrestle with horrendous budget deficits.

And what do these worried Americans see the Obama administration doing? It's doubling down on the war in Afghanistan, trying somehow to build a nation from scratch in the chaos of a combat zone.

By nearly 2 to 1, respondents to the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll believed the United States is on the wrong track. Despite the yelping and destructive machinations of the deficit hawks, employment and the economy are by far the public's biggest concern. Mr. Obama is paying dearly for his tin ear on this topic. Fifty-four percent of respondents believed he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs. Only 45 percent approved of his overall handling of the economy, compared with 48 percent who disapproved.

It's not too late for the president to turn things around, but there is no indication that he has any plan or strategy for doing it. And the political environment right now, with confidence in the administration waning and budgetary fears unnecessarily heightened by the deficit hawks, is not good.

It would take an extraordinary exercise in leadership to rally the country behind a full-bore jobs-creation campaign - nothing short of large-scale nation-building on the home front. Maybe that's impossible in the current environment. But that's what the country needs.


8) BP Discussing a Backup Strategy to Contain Oil
June 28, 2010

Since shortly after oil began spewing into the Gulf of Mexico two months ago, relief wells have been discussed as the ultimate solution, their success in permanently plugging the runaway well deemed a foregone conclusion.

But BP and government officials are now talking about a long-term containment plan to pump the oil to an existing platform should the relief well effort fail. While such a failure is considered highly unlikely, the contingency plan is the latest sign that with this most vexing of engineering challenges - snuffing a gusher 5,000 feet down in the gulf - nothing is a sure thing.

Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president in charge of subsea containment and capping efforts, said Monday that the first relief well was "progressing very well" and on target to intercept the runaway well more than three miles below the surface of the gulf.

"It's not a matter so much of if, as when," Mr. Wells said of the effort, which will involve pumping heavy mud and cement through the relief well into the damaged well to plug the damaged well permanently.

"But we always said we wanted to have backups for backups," he added about the contingency plan, which was first revealed by Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, the national incident commander for the spill.

Experts said it was conceivable that the "kill" procedure would not be effective, particularly if only a single relief well was used and the bottom of the well bore was damaged in the initial blowout. Pumping large quantities of erosive mud into the well could even end up damaging the well further, hindering later efforts to seal it.

"I won't say there haven't been relief wells that haven't worked," said a technician involved in the effort.

There are questions about the damaged well's condition, particularly near the point where the interception would take place, and whether it could affect the kill procedure.

"No human being alive can know the answers," said the technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the work.

The backup plan would involve continuing to collect the oil through several systems at the wellhead and pumping it through a subsea pipeline to an existing production platform at least several miles away. Mr. Wells said several platforms had been identified as possibilities, although no decisions had been made.

BP is currently drilling two relief wells from rigs that are each about a half-mile from the site of the blown-out well. The first well is about a thousand feet vertically from the interception point and more than 17,000 feet below sea level. The second well, which was started about two weeks later than the first, is not as far along, and Mr. Wells said Monday that if the first well succeeded in plugging the gusher, drilling of the second would be halted.

"We feel very good about the progress we've made," he said.

The company was still holding to a timetable of early August for completion of the first relief well, Mr. Wells added, barring delays due to bad weather. Tropical Storm Alex, which is expected to become a hurricane and is on track to hit Texas, is not expected to delay the drilling effort.

Mr. Wells said that the first well had closed within about 20 feet horizontally of the damaged well, and that crews would be conducting 8 to 12 more magnetic ranging tests - each of which takes about half a day - to determine the precise location of the metal casing pipe in the damaged well bore. The goal is to continue to drill the relief well in parallel with the damaged well to within about 200 feet vertically of the interception point, and within five feet horizontally. Then the remaining 200 feet will be drilled, and a milling device will be used to cut into the casing pipe of the runaway well.

Once the two wells are connected, heavy drilling mud will be pumped down the relief well and into the damaged well's bore, building up a column of mud that would eventually exert enough downward force to overcome the pressure of the rising oil. Mr. Wells said there were roughly 44,000 barrels of mud available at the site.

The advantage of such a "bottom kill" is that it immediately starts to reduce pressure in the damaged well bore as the column of mud builds up, Mr. Wells said. This is in contrast to the "top kill" procedure, which was tried unsuccessfully last month, in which pressure builds as mud is pumped into the top of the well. BP officials said one reason the top-kill effort was abandoned was out of concern that a pressure buildup might damage the well.

The technician, who has knowledge of the effort, said he was optimistic that the relief-well procedure would succeed, in part because the frictional pressure of the mud in the well bore would contribute to its ability to overcome the pressure of the oil. But he said BP would improve its chances for success if it waited for the second relief well to be completed, so that it could pump twice as much mud into "a well that's this powerful, this productive and this problematic."

He said that too little was known about the condition of the well bore near the bottom - whether, for instance, it had been enlarged by the high-pressure flow of oil over the past two months.

"The engineering suggests that one relief well is enough," he said. "But there are just all these unknowns."


9) Recovery Effort in Gulf Expected to Continue Despite Storm
June 28, 2010

A tropical storm moving across the western Gulf of Mexico that is likely to strengthen into a hurricane is not expected to seriously disrupt efforts to capture oil gushing from the stricken BP well, officials of the Coast Guard and BP said Monday.

Adm. Thad W. Allen, of the Coast Guard, who is commanding the federal response to the disaster, said at an afternoon press conference that high seas produced by Tropical Storm Alex should not force the evacuation of rigs and other equipment from the blowout site, which is 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Should an evacuation take place, he said, it could halt the work of collecting oil and drill relief wells for about 14 days.

"As it stands right now, absent the intervention of a hurricane, we're still looking at mid-August," to have relief wells shut off the gusher entirely, Admiral Allen said.

However, BP officials said that what could be delayed, even by current wave heights, is an effort to prepare what is known as a "floating riser system" that will help raise the daily total of collected oil from, about 25,000 barrels to as much as 50,000 barrels. At a briefing Monday morning, Kent Wells, a senior vice president of BP who is overseeing BP's efforts, said the storm is expected to follow a track that will take it well west of the blowout site, but it may produce waves of 10 to 12 feet, which Mr. Wells said was too high for the "very precise work" on the surface needed to prepare the floating riser system.

Mr. Wells said the containment cap and a second system that are collecting 25,000 barrels of oil a day would not need to be disconnected and the drilling of two relief wells should continue on schedule. The first relief well is supposed to pump in heavy mud and shut off the gusher sometime in August.

Tropical Storm Alex is on a course heading for northeastern Mexico and a stretch of Texas. Meteorologists at said they are anticipating a landfall between Tampico, Mexico and Brownsville, Tex. Wednesday night or early Thursday.

Meanwhile Associated Press reported that BP had filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that indicate the cost of capping and cleaning the spill have reached $2.65 billion. BP has lost more than $100 billion in market value since the drilling platform the company was operating blew up April 20. The costs include spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs, but not a $20 billion fund for damages the company created this month.


10) Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10

It was us and it was art!

Last night (28 June), as the Tate celebrated 20 years of BP 'support' for British Art with a Summer Party, Liberate Tate disrupted the proceedings inside and out by pouring hundreds of litres of 'oil'(molasses) and scattering thousands of feathers as the UK's celebrity glitterati watched on in fascination.

Sipping Pimms and gobbling canapés many of the guests expressed confusion at whether these striking actions were 'art' or not. Despite inaccurate reporting in various media outlets, Liberate Tate would like to claim full responsibility for these acts of creative disobedience as art - art that refuses to pretend to do politics but is politics, art that makes transforming the world a beautiful adventure.

The Tate Summer Party had been planned to be in the museum gardens and involve speeches from BP executives. However, due to the rumours of disruption, Tate was forced to hold the entire event inside the museum and no speeches were made.

As the evening sun baked down on the stone courtyard of Tate Britain and members of the cultural and corporate elite made their way into the party, 13 figures dressed in black, their faces veiled, appeared from around the corner. In a mournful procession the art-activists approached the entrance carrying large barrels branded with the BP logo. Dozens of photographers and TV cameras swarmed and a moment of tense silence enveloped the area. Something was going to happen.

Then in a perfectly choreographed moment, the front phalanx poured hundreds of litres of the black liquid all over the entrance, whilst others threw feathers into the air which gently drifted down into the huge sticky black pools. The sombre figures walked calmly away, disappearing into the city, as the security redirected the guests to another entrance as the cleanup operation began.

Meanwhile, despite the heavy security at the door, two Liberate Tate art-activists managed to infiltrate the party wearing large floral bouffant dresses underneath which were concealed large sacks filled with the oily molasses. Calling themselves Toni Hayward and Bobbi Dudley, they began their performance in the crowded central gallery. At first drips began to fall from their handbags. "Oh, I seem to have a leak" whispered one of them to the lined up waiters dressed in brilliant white, who kindly provided napkins to stem the spill.

Soon the sacks under their dresses burst releasing tens of litres of 'oil' across the shiny parquet floor. As a crowd formed around them, the two donned BP branded ponchos and scrambled on all fours trying to clean up the mess using their high heel shoes to pour the slick back into their handbags, but to no avail. "Compared to the size of the gallery this is a tiny spill, a drop in the ocean," they apologised to the viewers, "we'll definitely have it cleaned up by, say, August".

The polite crowd that had formed continued to watch appreciatively for another 20 minutes, amidst a sea of camera-phones. Many began debating among themselves whether this was art or not ("I think it is. I like it"), whether Tate had organised it, and what their personal aesthetic reactions to it were ("If I had seen this outside, I think I would have felt as I do seeing it... inside"). More than one invited artist openly described this to their fellow drinkers as the most sophisticated work in the room.


Liberate Tate, is a network dedicated to taking creative disobedience against the Tate until it drops its oil company funding. The 28 June art activist performances follow on from last month's disruption of Tate Modern's 10th Birthday celebrations by hanging dead fish and birds from dozens of giant black helium balloons.

The network was founded during a workshop in January 2010 on art and activism, commissioned by Tate. When Tate curators tried to censor the workshop from making interventions against Tate sponsors, the incensed participants decided to continue their work together beyond the workshop and set up Liberate Tate.




11) Who Will Fight for the Unemployed?
June 29, 2010

Without doubt, the two biggest threats to the economy are unemployment and the dire financial condition of the states, yet lawmakers have failed to deal intelligently with either one.

Federal unemployment benefits began to expire nearly a month ago. Since then, 1.2 million jobless workers have been cut off. The House passed a six-month extension as part of a broader spending bill in May, but the Senate, despite three attempts, has not been able to pass a similar bill. The majority leader, Harry Reid, said he was ready to give up after the third try last week when all of the Senate's Republicans and a lone Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, blocked the bill.

Meanwhile, the states face a collective budget hole of some $112 billion, but neither the House nor the Senate has a plan to help. The House stripped a provision for $24 billion in state fiscal aid from its earlier spending bill. The Senate included state aid in its ill-fated bill to extend unemployment benefits; when that bill failed, the promise of aid vanished as well.

As a result, 30 states that had counted on the money to help balance their budgets will be forced to raise taxes even higher and to cut spending even deeper in the budget year that begins on July 1. That will only worsen unemployment, both among government workers and the states' private contractors. Worsening unemployment means slower growth, or worse, renewed recession.

So if lawmakers are wondering why consumer confidence and the stock market are tanking (the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index hit a new low for the year on Tuesday), they need look no further than a mirror.

The situation cries out for policies to support economic growth - specifically jobless benefits and fiscal aid to states. But instead of delivering, Congressional Republicans and many Democrats have been asserting that the nation must act instead to cut the deficit. The debate has little to do with economic reality and everything to do with political posturing. A lot of lawmakers have concluded that the best way to keep their jobs is to pander to the nation's new populist mood and play off the fears of the very Americans whose economic well-being Congress is threatening.

Deficits matter, but not more than economic recovery, and not more urgently than the economic survival of millions of Americans. A sane approach would couple near-term federal spending with a credible plan for deficit reduction - a mix of tax increases and spending cuts - as the economic recovery takes hold.

But today's deficit hawks - many of whom eagerly participated in digging the deficit ever deeper during the George W. Bush years - are not interested in the sane approach. In the Senate, even as they blocked the extension of unemployment benefits, they succeeded in preserving a tax loophole that benefits wealthy money managers at private equity firms and other investment partnerships. They also derailed an effort to end widespread tax avoidance by owners of small businesses organized as S-corporations. If they are really so worried about the deficit, why balk at these evidently sensible ways to close tax loopholes and end tax avoidance?

House lawmakers made an effort on Tuesday to extend jobless benefits but failed to get the necessary votes, and it remains uncertain if an extension can pass both the House and Senate before Congress leaves town on Friday for a weeklong break. What's needed, and what's lacking, is leadership, both in Congress and from the White House, to set the terms of the debate - jobs before deficit reduction - and to fight for those terms, with failure not an option.


12) Governments Moving to Cut Spending, in Echo of 1930s
June 29, 2010

The world's rich countries are now conducting a dangerous experiment. They are repeating an economic policy out of the 1930s - starting to cut spending and raise taxes before a recovery is assured - and hoping today's situation is different enough to assure a different outcome.

In effect, policy makers are betting that the private sector can make up for the withdrawal of stimulus over the next couple of years. If they're right, they will have made a head start on closing their enormous budget deficits. If they're wrong, they may set off a vicious new cycle, in which public spending cuts weaken the world economy and beget new private spending cuts.

On Tuesday, pessimism seemed the better bet. Stocks fell around the world, over worries about economic growth.

Longer term, though, it's still impossible to know which prediction will turn out to be right. You can find good evidence to support either one.

The private sector in many rich countries has continued to grow at a fairly good clip in recent months. In the United States, wages, total hours worked, industrial production and corporate profits have all risen significantly. And unlike in the 1930s, developing countries are now big enough that their growth can lift other countries' economies.

On the other hand, the most recent economic numbers have offered some reason for worry, and the coming fiscal tightening in this country won't be much smaller than the 1930s version. From 1936 to 1938, when the Roosevelt administration believed that the Great Depression was largely over, tax increases and spending declines combined to equal 5 percent of gross domestic product.

Back then, however, European governments were raising their spending in the run-up to World War II. This time, almost the entire world will be withdrawing its stimulus at once. From 2009 to 2011, the tightening in the United States will equal 4.6 percent of G.D.P., according to the International Monetary Fund. In Britain, even before taking into account the recently announced budget cuts, it was set to equal 2.5 percent. Worldwide, it will equal a little more than 2 percent of total output.

Today, no wealthy country is an obvious candidate to be the world's growth engine, and the simultaneous moves have the potential to unnerve consumers, businesses and investors, says Adam Posen, an American expert on financial crises now working for the Bank of England. "The world may be making a mistake, and it may turn out to make things worse rather than better," Mr. Posen said.

But he added - after mentioning China, India and the relative health of the financial system, today versus the 1930s - that, "The chances we're going to come out of this O.K. are still larger than the chances that we aren't."

The policy mistakes of the 1930s stemmed mostly from ignorance. John Maynard Keynes was still a practicing economist in those days, and his central insight about depressions - that governments need to spend when the private sector isn't - was not widely understood. In the 1932 presidential campaign, Franklin D. Roosevelt vowed to outdo Herbert Hoover by balancing the budget. Much of Europe was also tightening at the time.

If anything, the initial stages of our own recent crisis were more severe than the Great Depression. Global trade, industrial production and stocks all dropped more in 2008-9 than in 1929-30, as a study by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke found.

In 2008, though, policy makers in most countries knew to act aggressively. The Federal Reserve and other central banks flooded the world with cheap money. The United States, China, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Europe, increased spending and cut taxes.

It worked. By early last year, within six months of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, economies were starting to recover.

The recovery has continued this year, and it has the potential to create a virtuous cycle. Higher profits and incomes can lead to more spending - and yet higher profits and incomes. Government stimulus, in that case, would no longer be necessary.

An internal memo from White House economists to other senior aides last week noted that policy makers "necessarily tend to focus on the impediments to recovery." But, the memo argued, the economy's strengths, like exports and manufacturing, "more than make up for continued areas of weakness, like housing and commercial real estate."

That optimistic take, however, is more debatable today than it would have been a month or two ago.

As is often the case after a financial crisis, this recovery is turning out to be a choppy one. Companies kept increasing pay and hours last month, for example, but did little new hiring. On Tuesday, the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence fell sharply this month.

And just as households and businesses are becoming skittish, governments are getting ready to let stimulus programs expire, the equivalent of cutting spending and raising taxes. The Senate has so far refused to pass a bill that would extend unemployment insurance or send aid to ailing state governments. Goldman Sachs economists this week described the Senate's inaction as "an increasingly important risk to growth."

The parallels to 1937 are not reassuring. From 1933 to 1937, the United States economy expanded more than 40 percent, even surpassing its 1929 high. But the recovery was still not durable enough to survive Roosevelt's spending cuts and new Social Security tax. In 1938, the economy shrank 3.4 percent, and unemployment spiked.

Given this history, why would policy makers want to put on another fiscal hair shirt today?

The reasons vary by country. Greece has no choice. It is out of money, and the markets will not lend to it at a reasonable rate. Several other countries are worried - not ludicrously - that financial markets may turn on them, too, if they delay deficit reduction. Spain falls into this category, and even Britain may.

Then there are the countries that still have the cash or borrowing ability to push for more growth, like the United States, Germany and China, which happen to be three of the world's biggest economies. Yet they are also reluctant.

China, until recently at least, has been worried about its housing market overheating. Germany has long been afraid of stimulus, because of inflation's role in the Nazis' political rise. In responding to the recent financial crisis, Europe, led by Germany, was much more timid than the United States, which is one reason the European economy is in worse shape today.

The reasons for the new American austerity are subtler, but not shocking. Our economy remains in rough shape, by any measure. So it's easy to confuse its condition (bad) with its direction (better) and to lose sight of how much worse it could be. The unyielding criticism from those who opposed stimulus from the get-go - laissez-faire economists, Congressional Republicans, German leaders - plays a role, too. They're able to shout louder than the data.

Finally, the idea that the world's rich countries need to cut spending and raise taxes has a lot of truth to it. The United States, Europe and Japan have all made promises they cannot afford. Eventually, something needs to change.

In an ideal world, countries would pair more short-term spending and tax cuts with long-term spending cuts and tax increases. But not a single big country has figured out, politically, how to do that.

Instead, we are left to hope that we have absorbed just enough of the 1930s lesson.



13) Winds From Gulf Storm Disrupt Cleanup Efforts
June 29, 2010

The first major storm of the season in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted oil spill cleanup and containment work on Tuesday, BP and the Coast Guard said.

But the storm, named Alex, was not expected to delay efforts to plug BP's runaway well 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, and it could help disperse some of the tens of millions of gallons of oil that have spewed into the gulf since late April.

Alex started the day as a tropical storm, but its winds reached hurricane strength, exceeding 74 miles per hour late Tuesday. The storm was on track to make landfall Wednesday in northern Mexico and southern Texas. That would keep it far southwest of the well site, as well as coastal areas of Louisiana and other gulf states affected by the disaster.

But the winds were raising wave heights to seven feet or more, forcing the suspension of skimming operations and controlled burns, the Coast Guard said. Rough seas make it impossible to contain oil so that skimmers can pick it up or it can be ignited.

High waves at the well site delayed surface work to prepare for the next phase of BP's system to collect oil at the wellhead, said Toby Odone, a company spokesman. That phase, in which up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day would be collected through a free-standing riser pipe that could be quickly disconnected if a hurricane threatened, is now expected to be completed in early July.

But BP said existing systems that are collecting about 25,000 barrels a day were not affected by the rough seas, nor were efforts to drill two relief wells that are considered the ultimate solution to plugging the well.

Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said winds from the storm might tend to push oil toward the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coasts. But there was little possibility of oil being pushed inland.

"We're not dealing with a situation where we're running the risk of having a storm surge with oil in it," he said.

Mr. Vaccaro said the winds and higher seas may help "weather" the oil, breaking it up into smaller droplets that are more easily consumed by microbes. While some weathering occurs in all conditions, he said, a major storm "helps by stirring up the water and literally pounding away at it."

In addition to higher winds and waves, the gulf was due for heavy rains as moisture brought into the region by the tropical storm encountered a cold front from the north, said Eric Wilhelm, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pa.

The rainfall may flush marshes and other sensitive coastal areas, Mr. Vaccaro said.

Any reprieve would be welcomed by fishermen throughout the gulf whose work has been halted by the spill. Some of them gathered in New Orleans on Tuesday to listen to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who met with response officials in a command center downtown and spoke at the dock of a seafood wholesaler that has been idled.

Mr. Biden traveled to Pomes Seafood with Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; Representative Anh Cao, Republican of Louisiana; Admiral Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard; and other officials.

The fishermen said it was as grim a time as they could recall. As the oil moves around Louisiana's southeastern shoreline, closings of fishing areas are being declared like a rolling blackout - this bay is out, now this one, they say this area will be closed on Wednesday - so hundreds of fishermen are fighting for smaller and smaller spaces.

Mr. Biden emphasized to the fishermen that the spill's effects were more than economic and ecological. The oil spill, he said, was not only a threat to a natural ecosystem but to a cultural ecosystem, a way of life that goes back generations.

"It's in your blood," he said. "It's in your bone, the bone of your bone. It's who you all are and who you've always been."

When the speech was over, Mr. Biden posed for pictures with the fishermen and their families and left for a flight to Pensacola, Fla., where an oil slick has washed ashore days before the holiday weekend, usually the peak of the tourist season.

Campbell Robertson contributed reporting.


14) Banned Trailers Return for Latest Gulf Disaster
"But federal officials have struggled to figure out what to do with the contaminated trailers, which have cost nearly $130 million a year to store and maintain, according to federal records. As a result, the government decided to sell the trailers in 2006. The trailers have found a ready market in the gulf. 'The price was right,' said Buddy Fuzzell, an executive with Cahaba Disaster Recovery, a contracting firm that bought 15 trailers for about 45 cleanup workers. Several buyers said in interviews that they were unaware of any prohibition on using the trailers for housing."
June 30, 2010

VENICE, La. - In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they became a symbol of the government's inept response to that disaster: the 120,000 or so trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to people who had lost their homes.

The trailers were discovered to have such high levels of formaldehyde that the government banned them from ever being used for long-term housing again.

Some of the trailers, though, are getting a second life amid the latest disaster here - as living quarters for workers involved with the cleanup of the oil spill.

They have been showing up in mobile-home parks, open fields and local boatyards as thousands of cleanup workers have scrambled to find housing.

Ron Mason, owner of a disaster contracting firm, Alpha 1, said that in the past two weeks he had sold more than 20 of the trailers to cleanup workers and the companies that employ them in Venice and Grand Isle, La.

Even though federal regulators have said the trailers are not to be used for housing because of formaldehyde's health risks, Mr. Mason said some of these workers had bought them so they could be together with their wives and children after work.

"These are perfectly good trailers," Mr. Mason said, adding that he has leased land in and around Venice for 40 more trailers that are being delivered from Texas in the coming weeks. "Look, you know that new car smell? Well, that's formaldehyde, too. The stuff is in everything. It's not a big deal."

Not everyone agreed. "It stunk to high heaven," said Thomas J. Sparks, a logistics coordinator for the Marine Spill Response Corporation, as he stood in front of the FEMA trailer that was provided to him by a company working with his firm. Mr. Sparks said the fumes in the trailer from formaldehyde, a widely used chemical in building materials like particle board, were so strong that he had asked his employer to provide him with a non-FEMA trailer.

The trailers - which are being resold for $2,500 and up - started down their road to infamy after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, when FEMA officials ordered nearly $2.7 billion worth of trailers and mobile homes to house victims of the storm.

Within months, some of these residents began complaining about breathing problems and burning eyes, noses and throats. One man who had complained about fumes was found dead in his trailer in June 2006.

Federal officials later discovered that formaldehyde - an industrial chemical that can cause nasal cancer, aggravates respiratory problems and may be linked to leukemia - was present in many of these housing units in amounts that exceeded federal limits. Scientists have since concluded that the high levels of formaldehyde found in the trailers probably resulted from cheap wood and poor ventilation. FEMA has produced other models and later batches of the trailers that do not have the health risks that the trailers built for Hurricane Katrina victims did.

But federal officials have struggled to figure out what to do with the contaminated trailers, which have cost nearly $130 million a year to store and maintain, according to federal records. As a result, the government decided to sell the trailers in 2006.

The trailers have found a ready market in the gulf.

"The price was right," said Buddy Fuzzell, an executive with Cahaba Disaster Recovery, a contracting firm that bought 15 trailers for about 45 cleanup workers.

Several buyers said in interviews that they were unaware of any prohibition on using the trailers for housing.

In an April hearing, members of the House Energy Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection raised concerns that the trailers would end up being used for housing. More than 100,000 trailers have been sold so far in public auctions.

The trailers are "not intended to be used as housing," said David Garratt, FEMA's associate administrator for mission support. "Subsequent owners must continue to similarly inform subsequent buyers for the life of the unit."

These rules are not being followed in many cases, however. Officials with the inspector general's office of the General Services Administration said Wednesday that they had opened at least seven cases concerning buyers who might not have posted the certification and formaldehyde warnings on trailers they sold.

Federal records indicate that of the hundreds of companies and individuals who have bought the trailers, dozens are in Louisiana. They include Henderson Auctions, which bought 23,636 units for $18 million, and Kite Brothers RV, which bought 6,511 mobile homes and travel trailers for $16 million.

On Henderson Auctions' Web site, a spokeswoman is quoted in a news video saying that people who live on the street or in their cars would much rather live in the trailers and that the formaldehyde has dissipated after four or five years.

Caren Auchman, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, said in an e-mail message that her agency was taking steps to ensure that the units were not used for housing.

Most of the workers in the gulf are not living in the trailers but in newer quarters provided by BP, its subcontractors or by state or federal agencies.

Still, housing remains tight. In June, Mr. Mason's firm and another consulting firm began proposing a plan to large contractors in the region to put about 300 of the trailers on barges for offshore worker housing.

Officials from BP and the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, which is BP's subcontractor that is handling most of the air sampling in the region, said they had no plans to move forward with the proposal.

But others are not hesitating.

John Sercovich, the owner of Bud's Boat Rentals in Belle Chasse, La., said that he thought the trailer he bought for some of his workers to stay in was more than adequate.

"We couldn't have afforded it any other way," he said.

Standing in a small field surrounded by a new shipment of the trailers, Mr. Mason declined to say whether he informed buyers of the formaldehyde risks or kept warning labels on the trailers.

One of Mr. Mason's trailers, shown to a reporter, had an overpowering smell of formaldehyde inside and none of the required placards on the outside or inside indicating the formaldehyde risk or that it was not supposed to be used for housing. The trailer did, however, have a note taped inside to call FEMA.

Mr. Mason, who is based in Texarkana, Tex., added that all of his customers have been happy and that he planned to lease land for 50 more trailers that he would rent out to workers.

"Bottom line," he said, "I'm providing a service."

Bob Driehaus contributed reporting from Cincinnati, and Kitty Bennett from St. Petersburg, Fla.


15) Turkish Aid From Flotilla Begins Arriving in Gaza
June 30, 2010

GAZA - One month after Israeli commandos killed nine Turks in a raid on a flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade, the ships' cargo of aid has begun to arrive here by land, starting Wednesday with 82 second-hand battery-powered scooters for the handicapped.

In the same pipeline are hundreds more scooters, hospital beds, drugs, crutches and surgical tools, building materials, food and clothing, said Mahmoud Daher, a health officer for the World Health Organization here.

The cargo has been sitting in Israel for weeks while the Hamas authorities, the Israeli military and international aid agencies negotiated its fate.

Israel wanted to send in only materials that it was sure could not be used for weapons by Hamas. It also did not want the sponsor of the flotilla, a Turkish Islamic charity known by the initials I.H.H., to distribute the goods because of its close ties to Hamas. Hamas, meanwhile, said it wanted either all the aid or nothing.

In the end, the United Nations agreed to distribute the goods. The arrangement was acceptable to all sides, but left I.H.H. officials in Gaza deeply upset.

A convoy of 128 trucks carried the cargo into Gaza from Israel as the American Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, watched from the Israeli side. He expressed approval at Israel's agreement, in the wake of the flotilla disaster, to ease its blockade somewhat, though the movement of goods and people out of Gaza remains largely blocked.

"We appreciate the changes that have been made," Mr. Mitchell said. "There has been a great deal of progress in terms of permitting additional goods into Gaza." He added that the United States would work with Israel on "further steps that will be taken in the near future."

The scooters were brought in on flatbed trucks and driven to Karni Crossing in east central Gaza. United Nations workers driving forklifts moved them into an unused warehouse in the evening, in near total darkness - because of a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank over who pays for electricity here, there is an acute shortage.

Mr. Daher, of the World Health Organization, told Israel he would not accept the scooters without their batteries and chargers, something Israeli officials considered withholding out of fear they would be diverted to militant use. Mr. Daher prevailed, and as the scooters began to arrive, a colleague, Khamis Abultayef, said each scooter would be checked for both.

Mr. Daher added that with numerous hospitals and clinics, Gaza could use a great deal of equipment and medicine, although he worried that the donations and the needs were not perfectly suited to one another.

"We have been given a great deal of Tamiflu and food supplements," he said, "but what we really need are cancer drugs and medicine for hemophilia and cystic fibrosis."


16) House Panel Votes to Ease Cuba Travel Restrictions
June 30, 2010

WASHINGTON - The House Agriculture Committee voted Wednesday to reverse a decades-long ban on United States citizens traveling to Cuba and to ease restrictions on the sale of American commodities there.

Though the vote is only a first step toward Congressional approval of the changes, supporters view it as a significant step toward normalization of the relationship between the countries.

The bill, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, must still go through the Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees before it can be considered by the full House. Then the Senate would have to act.

Proponents of the bill said it would be a major boost for American farmers. The bill, which would allow American commodities to be sold directly to Cuba and allow some direct financial transactions with Cuban banks, is supported by several business and farming groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Farmers Union.

"This is a great opportunity to expand trade," said Representative Collin C. Peterson, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairman of the committee. He added that American travel to Cuba would "show the Cuban people how great democracy can be."

Opponents of the bill argued that while export restrictions should be eased, lifting the travel ban would benefit only the Communist government led by Fidel and Raúl Castro.

"Every dollar spent by American tourists in Cuba would contribute to the regime's bottom line," said Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, who voted against the bill.

The measure was approved 25 to 20, with only four Republicans supporting the bill.

Before its final vote, the Agriculture Committee rejected several amendments that would have eliminated the travel ban reversal or delayed its enactment; those votes split largely along partisan lines, with Democrats favoring more immediate implementation.

In a report released Wednesday, Amnesty International called on the Cuban government to free political prisoners and end legal restrictions on freedoms of speech and the press.

Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, an organization that supports the normalization of relations with Cuba, acknowledged that American travel to Cuba would help the current government but said the gains for ordinary Cubans outweighed those considerations.

"Of course it benefits the regime," she said. "But it benefits the people more."

However, Ms. Stephens said, "There is a very clear trickle down, especially in the tourism industry. Ordinary Cubans feel the difference when there is an increase in tourism."

Ms. Stephens added that the vote Wednesday signaled an end to the cold war mentality of previous generations.

Both the House and the Senate tried to ease the travel ban during the Bush administration, but were threatened with a veto from the president. In April 2009, President Obama allowed Cuban-Americans with family members in Cuba to travel to the country without time restrictions.


17) Waves From Storm Hinder Spill Effort
June 30, 2010

Hurricane Alex halted progress on containment work in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and threatened to disperse oil farther into the marshes along the Mississippi Delta.

Although Mexico and southern Texas bore the full brunt of the storm, 10-foot waves rose at the site of the spill hundreds of miles to the east and winds blew at about 29 miles an hour, idling the vessels used for skimming and ferrying supplies back and forth.

"We've been held hostage by the oil, but now the weather is holding us hostage," Rear Adm. Paul F. Zukunft of the Coast Guard said in an afternoon teleconference.

Because of the seas and high winds, all 510 skimmers used to collect oil from the surface had to be recalled to shore, he said.

Perhaps the only positive news for officials was that the storm was not expected to delay efforts on the drilling of the two relief wells. That operation can function in seas of up to 15 feet, Admiral Zukunft said.

At 8 p.m., the center of Hurricane Alex was about 25 miles offshore and appeared headed toward the fishing village of La Pesca, Mexico, which lies about 105 miles southeast of Brownsville, Tex., the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The storm, the strongest June hurricane since 1966, had sustained winds of more than 100 miles an hour at its core. It was a sprawling system of rain and tropical-force winds that extended out for about 200 miles from its center, churning up the sea. It was deluging southern Texas and northern New Mexico with heavy rains, causing streets to flood in Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico. At least five tornadoes spun out of the storm and did minor damage Wednesday afternoon in Texas.

In Washington, Congress took the first steps on Wednesday on a number of measures responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including lifting liability caps for damages from an oil spill, revamping federal regulation of oil drilling and requiring more robust technology to prevent well blowouts.

None of the bills are close to becoming law, although portions of some may be included in a broader energy bill expected to come before the Senate in July. Provisions in some of the bills overlap with actions the administration is already taking under its regulatory powers.

The Interior Department, preoccupied with responding to the oil leak, said it was pushing back the date of public hearings on the administration's plan to expand offshore drilling announced this year. The department said that more extensive environmental and safety reviews were needed before moving ahead with any new leasing decisions.

Several Congressional committees took action on Wednesday on spill-related bills.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed, by voice vote, a measure lifting the cap on liability for damages arising from a major spill. Under existing law, a company responsible for a big oil leak is liable for only $75 million in damages beyond those of environmental cleanup. BP has said it will pay all legitimate claims and has set aside $20 billion for the purpose.

The Senate panel voted to remove the liability cap altogether, brushing aside a Republican amendment that would allow the president to set varying caps for individual accidents. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will take up its own version of a liability limits law on Thursday.

In the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, members approved a bill to overhaul regulation of offshore drilling, mirroring many of the steps already announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The bill would break up the department's Minerals Management Service, now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, by separating its revenue collection functions from safety and environmental oversight. The bill also contains a number of new requirements for drillers, including extensive technology and safety reviews.

Also on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony on a bill that would prescribe more stringent safety rules for all high-risk wells, including the installation of redundant systems for shutting down wells in the event of a blowout. The bill - sponsored by Henry A. Waxman of California, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, and other Democrats on the committee - would also set stricter standards for how wells are built and monitored.

Republicans on the committee objected that the Democrats were setting costly new standards for the industry before the exact causes of the BP explosion were known. The committee plans a vote as early as Thursday on the measure.

Separately, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said he was opening an inquiry into whether Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, evaded or exploited American tax laws. The company is based in Switzerland.

James C. McKinley Jr. contributed reporting.


18) Interior Delays Offshore Expansion Hearings
June 30, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Interior Department, preoccupied with its response to the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, said Wednesday that it was pushing back the date of public hearings on the administration's plan, announced before the disaster began, to expand offshore drilling.

The department said on Wednesday that more extensive environmental and safety reviews were needed before moving ahead with any new leasing decisions.

The process was to have begun with public hearings in Alaska, along the Gulf Coast and the southern Atlantic Coast in June and early July. Those hearings have now been put off until later in the year, the department said in a statement. No new dates were given.

President Obama announced on March 30 - three weeks before the fatal explosion and fire on April 20 that wrecked the BP Deepwater Horizon rig - that he intended to open large new coastal areas to offshore drilling, including some that had been off limits for decades. Environmentalists and many officials in the affected states protested the decision, saying that there had been inadequate planning for the environmental and economic damage from a major spill.

The Obama offshore drilling plan, which would have covered the years 2012-2017, remains the administration's policy, officials said on Wednesday, though it is likely to be significantly changed in the aftermath of the gulf spill. Several congressional committees began moving legislation on Wednesday that would tighten regulations for offshore operations and impose much stricter financial accountability for deepwater drillers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he expected offshore wells to continue to supply a significant share of the nation's domestic oil and natural gas production. But he said he would make sure that such operations are conducted safely and that they employ the best available technology.

Michael R. Bromwich, the new head of the Interior Department office overseeing offshore drilling, said: "We remain focused on responding to the BP oil spill and implementing strong reforms that are raising the bar for the oil and gas industry. At the appropriate time, we will begin the process of engaging the public, conducting environmental analysis and looking ahead to where and how to responsibly develop oil and gas resources under the next five-year program."


19) Economy Hurts Government Aid for H.I.V. Drugs
June 30, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The weak economy is crippling the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to people with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them. Nearly 1,800 have been relegated to rapidly expanding waiting lists that less than three years ago had dwindled to zero.

As with other safety-net programs, ballooning demand caused by persistent unemployment and loss of health insurance is being met with reductions in government resources. Without reliable access to the medications, which cost patients in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program an average of $12,000 a year, people with H.I.V. are more likely to develop full-blown AIDS, transmit the virus and require expensive hospitalizations.

Eleven states have closed enrollment in the federal program, most recently Florida, which has the nation's third-largest population of people with H.I.V. Three other states have narrowed eligibility, and two of them - Arkansas and Utah - have dropped scores of people from the program.

Last week, because of swelling numbers here in South Florida, the nationwide waiting list surged past record levels set in 2004, to 1,781 people, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. The growth is expected to continue when Georgia starts deferring enrollment in its drug assistance program on July 1. Illinois may soon follow, and New Jersey plans to cut eligibility on Aug. 1, removing 600 of the 7,700 people on its rolls.

Louisiana capped enrollment on June 1 but decided against keeping a waiting list. "It implies you're actually waiting on something," said DeAnn Gruber, the interim director of the state's H.I.V./AIDS program. "We don't want to give anyone false hope."

Ten states' programs have stopped covering drugs that do not directly combat H.I.V. or opportunistic infections. Unless money is found by Aug. 1, Florida plans to pare 53 of 101 medications from its formulary, including those for conditions that are often related to H.I.V., like diabetes, high blood pressure and anxiety.

In many states, there is a sense of reverting to the 1980s and early 1990s, before the development of protease inhibitors reversed the rise in AIDS deaths.

"The worry then was that there were no medications for AIDS," said Dr. Wayne A. Duffus, medical director of the drug assistance program in South Carolina. "The worry now is that there are medicines, but you can't afford them. A lot of patients are certainly old enough to remember what happens if you don't get your medicines."

For the moment, pharmaceutical companies have stepped into the breach, negotiating discounts for the state drug plans and accepting needy patients into programs that temporarily provide free medications. Although there is no data to prove it, state AIDS directors said a vast majority of people on waiting lists seemed to be getting medications one way or another.

But they concede that some patients may be going without, and that caseworkers are being diverted from critical tasks while navigating a thicket of cumbersome applications seeking drug companies' help.

"The drug companies are trying their best to lower prices," said Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, an advocacy group. "But we cannot rely on them to finance the health care of poor people living with H.I.V. and AIDS."

Tim Sweeney, 49, a Fort Lauderdale man who has depended on the assistance program for a dozen years, said he was put on Florida's waiting list because he was four days late to re-enroll, as is required every six months. Mr. Sweeney, who has AIDS, takes six H.I.V. pills twice a day, as well as three other medications. Their total retail cost: $4,500 a month.

Unemployed for 18 months, Mr. Sweeney said he spent three days filling out forms to apply for aid from pharmaceutical companies. While awaiting responses, he is being supplied with drugs, one week at a time, by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a social service agency.

The patchwork arrangement gives him little comfort. "My biggest fear," said Mr. Sweeney, who credits the drugs with vastly improving his immune cell counts, "is that I've done all this hard work over 20 years and now I'm going to fall back."

Scott Miller, 42, a northeast Florida truck driver who lost his health insurance in May along with his job, said he had never before sought assistance during five years with H.I.V. When his caseworker told him there was a waiting list, he asked what he was supposed to do.

"She just shrugged her shoulders and said, 'I don't know what to tell you,' " Mr. Miller said. After several days without drugs, Mr. Miller qualified for a free three-month supply of his medication, Atripla, from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Dr. Helmut Albrecht, director of the infectious diseases program at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, said he knew of one wait-listed patient who had died after a seizure while awaiting approval from drug company programs.

"In my world, there is never a certainty if meds would have prevented death," Dr. Albrecht said, "but the fact remains that the wait certainly did not help."

Drug assistance has grown since 1996 to become the largest component of the federal Ryan White program, which provides grants to states and localities. The drug program's budget from all sources is now $1.6 billion, with Washington contributing about 55 percent, states offering 14 percent and drug company rebates accounting for 31 percent, according to the state AIDS directors.

A confluence of factors has caused the strain. Enrollment has spiked during the recession, up 12 percent from June 2008 to June 2009, to about 169,000 people. The trend has probably accelerated since then. In Florida, monthly enrollments grew by a third between May 2009 and May 2010.

A renewed emphasis on testing is also driving up caseloads, and federal treatment guidelines now recommend an earlier start to drug therapy. Because the drugs are so effective, people often stay on the rolls for extended periods.

Meanwhile, federal financial support has stayed essentially flat, up barely 2 percent this year, while appropriations from state budgets have fallen 34 percent, according to the state AIDS directors. The drug companies increased their contribution by half, to nearly $500 million, but it is still not enough.

Once fully implemented in 2014, the new health care law is expected to close the gaps by expanding Medicaid, subsidizing private insurance and requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

More immediately, two Republican senators, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, have proposed redirecting $126 million from stimulus spending to the drug assistance program.

President Obama opposes taking money from stimulus projects but is "working to ensure" that the program gets adequate financing, said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman. He did not provide details. Mr. Obama recommended a $20 million increase in next year's drug assistance budget.

In Florida, where AIDS deaths have dropped by two-thirds since the introduction of antiretroviral drugs, state officials cannot forecast how long the waiting list might be necessary. Unemployment stands at 11.7 percent, and there is no budget relief in sight. The list, which was begun on June 1, already holds 361 names.

"I know people are scared," said Thomas M. Liberti, chief of the state H.I.V./AIDS bureau. "We haven't had a waiting list in 14 years. Unfortunately, we did not outlast the recession."


20) Biologists find 'dead zones' around BP oil spill in Gulf
Methane at 100,000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted areas devoid of life near BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, according to two independent scientists
By Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Wednesday 30 June 2010 19.49 BST

Scientists are confronting growing evidence that BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is creating oxygen-depleted "dead zones" where fish and other marine life cannot survive.

In two separate research voyages, independent scientists have detected what were described as "astonishingly high" levels of methane, or natural gas, bubbling from the well site, setting off a chain of reactions that suck the oxygen out of the water. In some cases, methane concentrations are 100,000 times normal levels.

Other scientists as well as sport fishermen are reporting unusual movements of fish, shrimp, crab and other marine life, including increased shark sightings closer to the Alabama coast.

Larry Crowder, a marine biologist at Duke University, said there were already signs that fish were being driven from their habitat.

"The animals are already voting with their fins to get away from where the oil spill is and where potentially there is oxygen depletion," he said. "When you begin to see animals changing their distribution that is telling you about the quality of water further offshore. Basically, the fish are moving closer to shore to try to get to better water."

Such sightings - and an accumulation of data from the site of the ruptured well and from the ocean depths miles away - have deepened concerns that the enormity of the environmental disaster in the Gulf has yet to be fully understood. It could also jeopardise the Gulf's billion-dollar fishing and shrimping industry.

In a conference call with reporters, Samantha Joye, a scientist at the University of Georgia who has been studying the effects of the spill at depth, said the ruptured well was producing up to 50% as much methane and other gases as oil.

The finding presents a new challenge to scientists who so far have been focused on studying the effects on the Gulf of crude oil, and the 5.7m litres of chemical dispersants used to break up the slick.

Joye said her preliminary findings suggested the high volume of methane coming out of the well could upset the ocean food chain. Such high concentrations, it is feared, would trigger the growth of microbes, which break up the methane, but also gobble up oxygen needed by marine life to survive, driving out other living things.

Joye said the methane was settling in a 200-metre layer of the water column, between depths of 1,000 to 1,300 metres in concentrations that were already threatening oxygen levels.

"That water can go completely anoxic [extremely low oxygen] and that is a pretty serious situation for any oxygen-requiring organism. We haven't seen zero-oxygen water but there is certainly enough gas in the water to draw oxygen down to zero," she said.

"It could wreak havoc with those communities that require oxygen," Joye said, wiping out plankton and other organisms at the bottom of the food chain.

A Texas A&M University oceanographer issued a similar warning last week on his return from a 10-day research voyage in the Gulf. John Kessler recorded "astonishingly high" methane levels in surface and deep water within a five-mile radius of the ruptured well. His team also recorded 30% depletion of oxygen in some locations.

Even without the gusher, the Gulf was afflicted by 6,000 to 7,000 square miles of dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi river, caused by run-off from animal waste and farm fertiliser.

The run-off sets off a chain reaction. Algae bloom and quickly die, and are eaten up by microbes that also consume oxygen needed by marine life.

But the huge quantities of methane, or natural gas, being released from the well in addition to crude presents an entirely new danger to marine life and to the Gulf's lucrative fishing and shrimping industry.

"Things are changing, and what impacts there are on the food web are not going to be clear until we go out and measure that," said Joye.


21) House Passes $80 Billion War Spending Bill
July 1, 2010

The House approved a war spending bill on Thursday with a provision that would include $10 billion to help school districts avoid educator layoffs, paying for the effort, in part, with $800 million in cuts to several of President Obama's key education initiatives.

The $80 billion bill would pay for the 30,000 additional troops ordered to Afghanistan.

The education measure provoked fierce debate, especially because it would reduce by $500 million the award money available to three dozen states that have submitted proposals in Round 2 of the Obama initiative, the Race to the Top competition.

To become law, the legislation needs Senate approval. The White House said in a statement that if the final bill included cuts to education reforms, Mr. Obama would most likely veto it.

"It would be short-sighted to weaken funding for these reforms," the White House said.

Using stimulus money voted on last year, the Department of Education awarded $500 million to Tennessee and $100 million to Delaware in March, and has promised to distribute the $3.4 billion that remains among additional winning states this year. The House bill would reduce the money available to $2.9 billion.

Teachers' unions lobbied for weeks for federal money to avert what the administration estimates could be hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs.

Several dozen charter school and other advocacy groups lobbied fiercely against cutting Race to the Top, which rewards states promising to overhaul teacher evaluation systems and shake up school systems in other ways.

Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a longtime ally of the teachers' unions, unveiled the school jobs provision late Tuesday. In Thursday's debate, he called Education Secretary Arne Duncan's objections to trimming Race to the Top "a joke."

Even with the proposed $500 million cut, Mr. Duncan still has about $3 billion left that "he can spend any way he wants," Mr. Obey said.


22) For Lynne Stewart: FREEDOM!
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
[col. writ. 6/26/10

Lynne Stewart, targeted by the Bush-era Justice Dept. for daring to forcefully advocate for her client, is in danger - and only immense popular support can save her.

She's in danger not just of a recent cancer diagnosis, but of the cancerous decision of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to re-sentence her to a longer, harsher term than the trial court decided.

Stewart has had an exemplary career as a defense lawyer for the poor, the oppressed and those deemed unpopular by the establishment. It was in this context that she was targeted by the state and unjustly convicted of providing material support to an alleged terrorist conspiracy, for speaking out on behalf of her client, the blind, Egyptian cleric.

The late William Kunstler, a radical lawyer who represented similar clients, said recently that defense attorneys should be "officers of their clients", instead of "officers of the court." *

Lynne Stewart was, like Kunstler, an "officer of [her] client", which is another reason she was targeted.

She violated what was essentially a prison regulation (called a SAM - for Special Administrative Measure), one that she probably rightly thought couldn't possibly supersede her constitutional and professional duty to defend her client. But she underestimated the base opportunism of government and the subservience of the courts, even at the costs of constitutional rights and alleged "guarantees."

On the evening of July 6th, at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South (in NYC), friends, admirers and supporters of Lynne Stewart will gather together to express their solidarity with an extraordinary woman, a gifted lawyer and a person convicted for her political ideas and affiliations.

Show your love!

--(c) '10 maj

[*Source: Kunstler, William M., The Emerging Police State, (Melbourne/New York: Ocean Press, 2004, p. 41]

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at:

Mumia's got a podcast! Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays - Subscribe at the website or on iTunes and get Mumia's radio commentaries online.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's new book -- JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V. THE USA, featuring an introduction by Angela Y. Davis -- has been released! It is available from City Lights Books:

Please make a contribution to help free Mumia. Donations to the grassroots work will go to both INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and the FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COALITION (NYC).


Please mail donations/ checks to:
NY 10030

215 476-8812

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


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