Sunday, July 11, 2010




RIP Oscar!

Victory for movement, but justice still needs to be won

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

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


The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

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

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

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

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

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

If you haven't already done so yet, join the JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT ACTION PAGE on Facebook at:


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

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

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

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

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

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

The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

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

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

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

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

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

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

(510) 502-9072 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (510) 502-9072 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Ronald Cruz
BAMN Organizer,
& Civil Rights Attorney




BP Makes Me Sick


Tar ball clean up in Cocoa Beach -- East Coast of Central Florida


Tar ball clean up in Cocoa Beach
Oil/Water samples from Gulf...VERY TOXIC


YouTube - Obama admin bans press from filming BP oil spill areas in the Gulf!


Police State Canada


BP Death Clouds Already Onshore! Benzene-3400ppb Hyrdrogen Sulfide-1200ppb TOXIC AIR ALERT.flv


Kid with oil stuck on her! Destin Beach, Fl. June 23rd, 2010


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:




JOIN US to Support Lynne Stewart

Save these Dates !!!!

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:


November 18-21, 2010: Close the SOA and take a stand for justice in the Americas.

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


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


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


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

Spread the word - Tell a friend about the November Vigil:

For more information, visit:

See you at the gates of Fort Benning in November 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



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) Greece Approves Pension Overhaul Despite Protests
"The bill would unify the retirement age at 65 years of age for both men and women and would reduce payouts by calculating salaries on lifetime income as opposed to a worker's highest, most recent pay. ...It would also make it easier for Greek companies to fire workers."
July 8, 2010

2) Owner of Exploded Rig Is Known for Testing Rules
July 7, 2010

3) Cuomo Finds Pattern of Workers' Inflating Pensions
"Many New York state and local government workers pad their pensions by drastically increasing their overtime in their last years of employment, according to a report released Wednesday by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo." [This is exactly what Greece put an end to. See article # 21 above--shades of things to]
July 7, 2010

4) Despite BP Disaster, Big Oil Has Its Eye on the Arctic
By Roger Shuler
July 7, 2010

5) Tar mats 'size of school buses'
Posted on Thu, Jul. 08, 2010

6) Officer Guilty in Killing That Inflamed Oakland
July 8, 2010

7) Court Rejects Moratorium on Drilling in the Gulf
"The administration's order halted 33 exploratory drilling projects and suspended new permits, but did not affect more than 3,000 platforms already in production."
July 8, 2010

8) Mehserle Trial Shows the System Is Guilty!
Oscar Grant Was Murdered!
By Chris Kinder
Oakland, Thursday, July 8, 2010

9) Is it almost over? BP will try to stop oil flow next week
Mark Seibel | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Fri, Jul. 09, 2010
last updated: July 10, 2010 06:47:24 AM

10) Threatening World Order: US and Israel Quietly Announce Plans to Reconstitute Their Nuclear Stockpiles
By Anthony DiMaggio, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
July 10, 2010

11) Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in 'Silent Raids'
"'Instead of hundreds of agents going after one company, now one agent can go after hundreds of companies,' said Mark K. Reed, president of Border Management Strategies, a consulting firm in Tucson that advises companies across the country on immigration law. 'And there is no drama, no trauma, no families being torn apart, no handcuffs.'...Federal labor officials estimate that more than 60 percent of farm workers in the United States are illegal immigrants....After completing a federally mandated local labor search, Gebbers Farms applied to the federal guest worker program to import about 1,200 legal temporary workers - most from Mexico. The guest workers, who can stay for up to six months, also included about 300 from Jamaica."
July 9, 2010

12) Dead for a Century, Twain Says What He Meant
"Twain refers to American soldiers as 'uniformed assassins.'"
July 9, 2010

13) Police Begin Releasing Protesters
Breaking News / Law Enforcement & Crime Puck Lo -
Fri, Jul 9, 2010

14) BP's Plan to Cap Oil Well Remains on Target
July 11, 2010

15) In Haiti, the Displaced Are Left Clinging to the Edge
"Only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have moved into new homes, and the Port-au-Prince area remains a tableau of life in the ruins."
July 10, 2010

16) Analysis Triples U.S. Plutonium Waste Figures
July 10, 2010

17) Libyan Aid Ship Plans Run to Gaza
July 10, 2010


1) Greece Approves Pension Overhaul Despite Protests
"The bill would unify the retirement age at 65 years of age for both men and women and would reduce payouts by calculating salaries on lifetime income as opposed to a worker's highest, most recent pay. ...It would also make it easier for Greek companies to fire workers."
July 8, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2) Owner of Exploded Rig Is Known for Testing Rules
July 7, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walter Gibbs contributed reporting.


3) Cuomo Finds Pattern of Workers' Inflating Pensions
"Many New York state and local government workers pad their pensions by drastically increasing their overtime in their last years of employment, according to a report released Wednesday by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo." [This is exactly what Greece put an end to. See article # 21 above--shades of things to]
July 7, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4) Despite BP Disaster, Big Oil Has Its Eye on the Arctic
By Roger Shuler
July 7, 2010

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

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

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

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

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

Key members of the Obama administration have been gung ho about drilling in the Arctic--and that's because an awful lot of oil is at stake:

"Ken Salazar, the Interior secretary whose staff allowed BP to drill in the Gulf based on pro-industry rules cooked up during the Bush years, has made no secret of his determination to push the 'frontier' of oil drilling into the Arctic. The region's untapped waters are believed to hold as much as 27 billion barrels of oil--an amount that would rival some of the largest oil fields in the Middle East."

Both BP and Shell Oil have their eyes on the Arctic Ocean. But BP's plans are particularly alarming. BP created an oil rig by building an island--a "glorified mound of gravel," Rolling Stone calls it--that means the operation is not subject to offshore drilling restrictions:

"Here's what BP has in store for the Arctic: First, the company will drill two miles beneath its tiny island, which it has christened 'Liberty.' Then, in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles, until it reaches an offshore reservoir estimated to hold 105 million barrels of oil. This would be the longest 'extended reach' well ever attempted, and the effort has required BP to push drilling technology beyond its proven limits."

Should we trust BP with such a high-risk drilling operation? Evidence in the Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere, provides a clear answer:

"BP, a repeat felon subject to record fines for its willful safety violations, calls the project 'one of its biggest challenges to date'--an engineering task made even more dangerous by plans to operate year-round in what the company itself admits is 'some of the harshest weather on Earth.'"

Warning signs seem to be everywhere. But the U.S. Minerals Management Service has given its blessing to BP's plans:

"The Obama administration has been warned by its own scientists that drilling in the Arctic poses a grave risk to the environment. Last September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration urged the president to halt future leases in the Arctic, warning that federal regulators operating on Bush-era guidelines had 'greatly understated' the risks of drilling. Both industry and government, the scientists added, displayed a 'lack of preparedness for Arctic spill responses' and had failed to 'fully evaluate the potential impacts of worst-case scenarios.'"

What challenges come from drilling in the Arctic? Well, they are daunting:

"Experts also warn that a spill in the Arctic would be far worse than the disaster currently unfolding in the Gulf, where experienced contractors and relief equipment are close at hand. By contrast, the sites in the Arctic where Shell plans to drill are devilishly remote. The closest Coast Guard station is on Kodiak Island, some 1,000 miles away. The nearest cache of boom to help contain a spill is in Seattle--a distance of 2,000 miles. There are only two small airports in the region, and even if relief supplies could somehow be airlifted to the tundra, there are no industrial ports to offload equipment into the water. Relief equipment can realistically be brought to the region only by boat--and then only seasonally. The Arctic is encased in ice for more than half the year, and even icebreakers can't assure access in the dark of winter."

What is at stake? The Arctic features bountiful marine life, including polar bears, walruses, seals, gray and bowhead whales, and migratory seabirds from every continent but Europe.

Is it possible that we will not learn anything from the disaster in the Gulf? At the moment, it certainly looks that way:

"'Drilling in the Arctic should make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck,' says Sylvia Earle, the former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 'There are values there that transcend the value of any fossil fuel we can extract--irreplaceable ecosystems that we don't know how to put together again. There are some places you should not drill, period.'"


Author's Bio: I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are all Republicans, and the attorney who filed a fraudulent lawsuit against me has strong family ties to the Alabama Republican Party, with indirect connections to national figures such as Karl Rove. In fact, a number of Republican operatives who have played a central role in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (a Democrat) also have connections to my case. I am married, with no kids and two Siamese cats. I am the author of the blog Legal Schnauzer. The blog is written in honor of Murphy, our miniature schnauzer (1993-2004)who did so much to help my wife and me survive our nightmarish experience with corrupt judges. I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, and I am pretty much a lifelong St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan. I've lived in Birmingham for almost 30 years and have adopted the UAB Blazers as my Southern college football and basketball team to follow. Also, follow East Tennessee State basketball. An avid reader, both fiction and non-fiction. Influential writers on public affairs are Kevin Phillips, Michael Lind, Thomas Edsall, E.J. Dionne, Molly Ivins, and Scott Horton.


5) Tar mats 'size of school buses'
Posted on Thu, Jul. 08, 2010

LONG BEACH - What appeared to be the largest amount of oily tar to hit the Mississippi Coast at one time was washing in from west of the Long Beach Harbor into the edge of Pass Christian late Wednesday night.

Crews also were removing large amounts of tar balls and patties that washed ashore Wednesday morning on a stretch of Hancock County beach from Nicholson Avenue to Lakeshore Drive.

Harrison County Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy said the material in Harrison County was "tar mats and patties ... kind of the consistency of liver." It was coming in over a 5- to 6-mile stretch from about a mile west of the harbor to the eastern edge of Pass Christian. He said the material was in large mats, floating near the bottom, and breaking up and washing onto the beach in smaller pieces.

Long Beach Fire Chief George Bass, the city's emergency manager, said Wednesday night there were some tar mats in the water "the size of school buses."

Lacy said workers began cleaning smaller pieces early Wednesday morning. Late Wednesday night there were about 300 cleanup workers out, planning to work through the night. He said some boats had been out trying to scoop up some of the material as well.

Mayor Billy Skellie said the largest tar patties, those the size of school buses, are out in the water and breaking up before they reach the beach.

Some parts of the beach are covered with thick, gooey oil balls, he said.

"There are two spots that are 20 yards wide and 40 yards long where it's pretty heavy," he said. "It's the largest amount of oil the cleanup crew said they've ever seen."

Lacy said he suspects rough seas the last few days had "pushed the product down," and as seas are returning to normal the tar is rolling onto the beach in eddies.

Hancock County officials said the Nicholson-to-Lakeshore area will probably be closed two to three days for cleanup. Sections of Beach Boulevard also were closed from Sears Avenue to Lakeshore Drive because the same type of oily tar was washing over the seawall and onto the flood-prone road.

"It's a safety hazard due to tar balls on there," Hancock County Emergency Manager Brian Adam said.

The closed parts of the road will take three to five days to clean, Adam said. Detours are marked. Some of the road was already closed for repaving projects, he said.

The state departments of Environmental Quality, Marine Resources and Health issued a joint news release Wednesday closing the area of beach from Nicholson Avenue almost to the Silver Slipper Casino at Bayou Caddy.

Silver Slipper General Manager John Ferrucci said Lakeshore Drive and Beach Boulevard are still open to the casino and it's business as usual there.

The casino's RV park is on the beach area that is closed, but Ferrucci said registered guests are still allowed access to the park.

Adam said southeasterly winds from a low-pressure system are causing the increase in tar balls, which started washing onto the beach in Bay St. Louis and Waveland on Saturday.

"That's what's pushing the water in on us," he said.

The tar balls and patties dotted the beach over the weekend, but are now covering most of the beach in that area.

Beach advisories remain in effect in Harrison County from Third Avenue at Henderson Point in Pass Christian eastward to Azalea Avenue in Biloxi.

The Jackson County advisory remains in effect and includes the area from Main Street in the Belle Fontaine area westward to Seashore Avenue.

DEQ urges people to avoid contact with oil-related materials such as tar balls and tar mats and stay out of the water if these materials are visible.


6) Officer Guilty in Killing That Inflamed Oakland
July 8, 2010

A white Bay Area transit officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday by a Los Angeles jury in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on Jan. 1, 2009, ending a closely watched trial that percolated with racial tension and cries for peace in the city of Oakland, Calif., where the killing occurred.

The officer, Johannes Mehserle, 28, had been accused of a more serious charge, second-degree murder, in the death of Oscar Grant III, 22, a butcher's apprentice who was shot while lying face down on a platform after being removed from a Bay Area Rapid Transit train during a fight.

City officials were worried about a reprise of the 2009 riots that erupted in downtown Oakland, with crowds burning cars and smashing storefronts after Mr. Grant's shooting, which was captured on cellphone video and widely disseminated on the Internet.

Initial reaction on Thursday was not promising: several hundred people gathered near Oakland City Hall early in the evening, and were seen to be taunting police officers in riot gear and throwing bottles. At least one person was either hit by a vehicle or injured by the surging crowd. But a heavy police presence seemed to be keeping the peace, and hundreds of others were listening peacefully to speakers who had gathered downtown.

Mr. Mehserle, who contended that the shooting was an accident caused when he mistook his sidearm for his Taser, faces up to four years in prison, and additional prison time because a gun was involved in his crime. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 6.

Mr. Grant's family seemed disappointed with the verdict, which came after just a day and a half of deliberation by the case's final jury. "We thought the jury was dismissive," said John Burris, a lawyer for the Grant family. "It's a small victory, but it is not a fair representation of what happened, an officer standing over him with his hands tied and shooting him."

The verdict, announced to a packed courtroom at Los Angeles Superior Court, was preceded by anxious moments in downtown Oakland, where some merchants were boarding up storefronts in recent days in expectation of civil unrest.

Yolanda Mesa, 31, who said she was Mr. Grant's sister-in-law, arrived downtown after the verdict and criticized the absence of blacks on the jury in Los Angeles. "We are not happy with this at all," she said. "This is not justice."

But for some, the very fact of a conviction of a police officer - a member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit police, not the Oakland force - was some solace. Black residents in Oakland, who make up a large portion of the population, have long had an uneasy relationship with the city's police, whose past episodes of brutality and malfeasance have led to a long period of oversight by independent monitors and a federal judge.

"We've been suffering police brutality for generations," said Lesley Phillips, a longtime Oakland resident. "We want it to end."

City officials and the police in Oakland had been preparing for the verdict for several weeks as arguments were under way in Los Angeles, where the trial had been moved because of worries about impaneling an impartial jury in Alameda County. Reaction in front of the Los Angeles courtroom was calm, but officials in Oakland closed City Hall and sent city workers home soon after word that a verdict had been reached.

Mayor Ron Dellums and Police Chief Anthony W. Batts had been urging calm as the jury began deliberating. The police had also been put on alert, practicing antiriot maneuvers and coordinating with representatives of several local agencies in case of civil unrest. City officials had argued that much of the violence from earlier riots had been caused by "outside agitators."

That message was echoed by a group called Oakland for Justice, which organized an evening rally to create "a safe space" where youths wouldn't be "exposed to the risk of arrest because of the actions of others."

But Arnold Lucas Jr., 19, said he was depressed by the verdict and thought it was unfair. "It's the same thing as Rodney King," he said. "Its 2010. The same thing is going on. There's never going to be peace on earth."

City Councilwoman Jean Quan said: "I don't think anyone is really happy with the verdict. At least we're pleased he didn't get total acquittal."

Rebecca Cathcart contributed reporting from Los Angeles Carol Pogash and Tad Whitaker from Oakland.


7) Court Rejects Moratorium on Drilling in the Gulf
"The administration's order halted 33 exploratory drilling projects and suspended new permits, but did not affect more than 3,000 platforms already in production."
July 8, 2010

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Thursday turned down the Obama administration's effort to enforce a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled shortly after a hearing in a lawsuit filed by companies that claim they are being financially crippled by the suspension of drilling.

The Interior Department said the moratorium was necessary because of the uncertainties about the cause of the BP oil well blowout in April, a shortage of response equipment and a need to write strict new drilling rules. The moratorium was struck down by a lower court on June 22 by a federal judge who found it arbitrary and economically ruinous to industry.

The appeals court found that the Interior Department failed to show the federal government would suffer "irreparable injury" if the moratorium is lifted while it appeals the trial court's decision.

A senior administration official said earlier Thursday that the Interior Department would immediately issue a new moratorium if it lost the court case. Those new regulations, revising the earlier suspension, could come as early as Friday.

In the afternoon hearing, industry lawyers urged the court to uphold the lower court ruling striking down the moratorium. "People are being put out of jobs," said Carl D. Rosenblum, a lawyer representing Hornbeck Offshore Services, a Louisiana firm that provides goods and services to offshore drilling and pumping platforms. "Rigs are leaving the gulf, and going to foreign waters."

Government lawyers responded that the suspension of drilling was justified. Michael T. Gray, a Justice Department lawyer representing the administration, said Congress gave the Interior Department the authority to take such actions to protect the environment and worker safety.

Hornbeck and a dozen other oil industry companies brought the suit last month, claiming their livelihoods were threatened by the federal drilling ban. They were supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and other local officials around the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Jindal said outside the courtroom on Thursday that the oil spill had already ruined Louisiana's seafood industry and dampened tourism throughout the region. The drilling ban, he said, is costing thousands of Louisianans their jobs.

Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of United States District Court in New Orleans agreed with the oil industry in a ruling handed down on June 22, saying that the federal moratorium was overly broad. He said the suspension of drilling was punitive to companies with good safety records and not supported by fact or history.

The administration's order halted 33 exploratory drilling projects and suspended new permits, but did not affect more than 3,000 platforms already in production.

Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group, reported on Thursday that two of the judges on the appeals court panel, Jerry E. Smith and W. Eugene Davis, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan, had represented the oil and gas industries while in private practice. Judge Smith's clients included Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Sunoco. Judge Davis represented a number of companies involved in offshore drilling and other oil field operations.

Judge Davis's 2008 financial disclosure reports listed $2,000 to $30,000 in investments in gas and oil concerns; Judge Smith had none.

The third judge on the panel, James L. Dennis, appointed by President Bill Clinton, had investments in at least 18 energy companies valued at between $31,000 and $300,000, the group found. Judge Dennis sold a stake in Transocean, the company that was drilling the well under contract to BP, in 2006, according to financial disclosure reports compiled by the group.

David Winkler-Schmit contributed reporting from New Orleans.


8) Mehserle Trial Shows the System Is Guilty!
Oscar Grant Was Murdered!
By Chris Kinder
Oakland, Thursday, July 8, 2010

"I AM," shouted the speaker at the Oakland protest of the verdict in the trial of ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle; "OSCAR GRANT!" roared back the crowd at 14th and Broadway.

The cold-blooded killer of Oscar Grant had just gotten off with an involuntary manslaughter conviction, in a trial in Los Angeles. After less than two day's deliberation, a jury with no black members cleared Johannes Mehserle of 2nd degree murder, and cleared him of voluntary manslaughter. They settled on the weakest compromise charge, involuntary manslaughter, enhanced by use of a gun. Mehserle could get felony probation, or perhaps 14 years in state prison, at the judge's discretion, when sentencing happens in August. Oscar Grant's family was outraged.

"My son was murdered," said Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson

And so he was. As everyone in Oakland knows by now (although the facts are less well known elsewhere due partly to media blackout,) Oscar Grant III, an Oakland grocery worker and father of a young daughter, was shot at point blank range, in the back, while he lay face down on a BART (subway) platform by BART cop Johannes Mehserle on New Years Day 2009. While Mehserle's partner, the since dismissed Tony Pirone, held Grant down with both hands and a knee on his neck, Mehserle stood up, pulled his gun, and fired directly down at Grant.

The facts were indisputable, since, in actions reminiscent of the early Black Panthers' practice of monitoring police behavior on the streets of Oakland, several BART patrons had recorded the events on cell phone video and submitted them to local media. The video images helped spur mass protests in Oakland, and forced the hand of the District Attorney, who made Mehserle the only Bay Area cop ever to be charged with murder for an on-duty killing. Then, the trial was moved out of Oakland to Los Angeles, because a cop allegedly couldn't get a fair trial in the city he was supposed to "protect and serve."

Taser or gun? Mehserle makes a decision

Mehserle's defense at trial was that he meant to fire his Taser at Grant, not his gun. Yet he said after the shooting, to several others over many days, that he "thought he [Grant] was going for a gun." Clearly, this is a defense of an intentional shooting, since Tasing a person holding a gun would likely cause the gun to discharge. Shooting someone who's going for a gun makes more sense. Importantly, Mehserle never once told anyone that he had mistakenly pulled his gun when he had meant to fire his Taser at Grant. Furthermore, the Taser is a lot lighter than the gun Mehserle carried. The gun was on a different part of his belt, and unlike the Taser, the gun had safety mechanisms that had to be dealt with before it could be pulled.

As if all that wasn't enough, it was revealed at trial that Grant had photographed Mehserle pointing his Taser at him only moments before the shooting! Thus Mehserle had drawn his Taser on Grant, holstered it, and then drawn his gun only a minute or two later to shoot Grant. How could this have been an "accident?" Despite all this, the "accident" story succeeded in saving another killer cop-one of many who have ended the lives of young black males-from a murder conviction.

"Peaceful, legal; peaceful, legal" ...oh shut up!

Oakland police may have gotten the Mehserle trial off their radar screens with the move to Los Angeles, but they knew they couldn't ignore the community reaction to the verdict. Protesters planned a rally outside City Hall on the day of the verdict; but it seemed most of the preparation-by city authorities under Mayor Ron Dellums, community and religious leaders, and police-went into protecting a few windows in downtown Oakland. The message that virtually blared from local newspapers and media in the week or so prior to the verdict was, with only light "translation:" "To hell with outrage over the murderous crimes of a racist criminal injustice system! We just want the victims of the system to keep their protests peaceful and legal!"

The main perpetrators of violence in the community, the police, went into over-time heaven with their "peaceful, legal" program, called "Operation Verdict." Weeks in preparation, "Operation Verdict" meant that downtown would be turned into a prison camp controlled by cops. Whole sections of the freeway coming into Oakland were sealed off so that police from the Highway Patrol, Alameda County and other jurisdictions-which underwent special training in advance with Oakland Police Department-could pour into downtown Oakland unhindered by civilian traffic. Downtown freeway entrances were also blocked to keep protesters from getting onto the roadways.

Cops mandate great skeedaddle, as peaceful protesters descend

Building managers in downtown were instructed to evacuate everyone from their offices at 4:00 P.M., just as the verdict was to be announced, according to reports on local Pacifica Radio KPFA. Blocks from downtown, where I was just after 4:00 P.M., you could see the result of this "great skeedaddle"1. People in shops along Telegraph Avenue were remarking on the excess traffic as hundreds, perhaps thousands jammed the streets to get away. Many more clogged BART entrances near 14th and Broadway to escape the hordes of violent youths who were (presumably) about to descend on the city center to make mayhem.

I, and two friends, were among the hundreds who did "descend" on the town to protest this racist injustice of a verdict, only to find-amazingly-a peaceful protest! Arriving around 6:30 P.M. or so, we had to pass through a phalanx of cops, who had the whole city center completely sealed off, between about 12th and 15th streets, along Broadway. Earlier, an altercation had occurred in which protesters briefly confronted police, and then were allowed to take over the now empty streets.

"Oakland says: GUILTY"

Once inside this makeshift ghetto in a boarded-up, deserted downtown, we joined what was a spirited, vibrant rally. A large colorful banner, hung from lampposts, proclaimed: "Oakland says: GUILTY!" The fully integrated and totally Oakland crowd of 1,000 was angry at the verdict, but welcoming and friendly. Two guys were playing chess on the asphalt, and they were still there an hour later.

Lack of an adequate sound system meant that most of the crowd was out of earshot of the podium. I heard a few of the speeches, including many who conveyed the message of "peaceful legal." "Don't follow the outside agitators," and "don't get involved with those anarchists," were all-too frequent refrains. These comments were met with some murmurs of support, but by far the biggest roar of approval went to the young black speaker, immediately following one of these "peaceful-legal" bobble-heads, who said, "How could protesting racist injustice make you an 'outside agitator' anywhere?! The police are the real outside agitators! You need to watch out for them-they are the ones who threaten us, the communities of Oakland!"

Watch out: "outside agitators" agitating...

"Outside agitator" is an old refrain-I was called that myself once, even though I lived locally, in Oakland, then as now-which is used to slander and taint legitimate protest. In the week or two after the police murder of Oscar Grant, in January 2009, protests filled the streets of Oakland. Over 160 people were arrested on various trumped up charges-including journalist JR Valrey ("Block Report," KPFA/Pacifica Radio)-but the police obtained no convictions. Then as now, the City's biggest concern had nothing to do with yet another killing of a young black male by police, but with protecting property. Then as now, some windows were broken, and some fires set in dumpsters, etc. Then as now, screams of horror rise up from business owners.

Tonight's great "crime," happened after the rally was shut down on orders from the City at 8:00 P.M., as darkness descended. No one was hurt but, oh dear, some window breaking and looting took place. The "victim" was the "Foot-Locker," a major shoe store chain on Broadway at 14th that somehow missed getting its window boarded up in the week prior to the verdict. Somebody smashed in a metal grate, and then broke the window. Shoes and t-shirts went flying through the air to the waiting crowd. A few youth made off with shoes and shirts, struggling to conceal their loot. Apparently a bank window was also smashed. Police stood by in their rows, guarding all exits, while this went on.

At a certain point the police declared an unlawful assembly and moved in, arresting some 50 or so youths. Though not a witness to the arrests, I suspect the cops ignored the two or three actual window breakers, and detained mostly innocent people, just as they did in 2009. News on local stations later that night went overboard emphasizing the "violence," while underplaying the earlier peaceful rally. They also neglected to mention that all the reported incidents took place in a one or two-block fishbowl. Police had the area surrounded the whole time, and provoked protesters, first with instructions to stay on the sidewalks, and later with a squeeze play of pushing and shoving. As if to force every last drop of so-called "news" out of this, the last broadcast I saw showed one car driving by on Broadway at about 11:30 P.M., while the newscaster proclaimed with satisfaction, "OK, traffic is beginning to flow again now!"

Dellums says, "keep calm, the government's on our side"

While in 2009 Mayor Ron Dellums had (safely, not threatened by anyone) roamed the streets talking to youth who were out to protest the police killing of Oscar Grant, this night in 2010 he chose to stay sequestered in a special "Operation Verdict" security bunker. Flanked by cops, he tried to calm things in advance by promising, at a 5:00 P.M. press conference, that he didn't like the verdict either, and he would work with the family on a hoped-for civil rights prosecution by the Justice Department! Thus the old myth that somehow the U.S. federal government, the greatest purveyor of violence on the Earth, is a friend of Black people is once again dragged out under Obama. And who better to do the dragging-out than Dellums, who has shown all along that he cares more for property than for the murderous actions of his own (or BART's) cops?

But no federal government, whether Democrat or Republican, is going to magically reverse the crimes of the racist injustice system in this country, even in one case, like that of Oscar Grant. No civil rights prosecution will bring Oscar back. But more than that, Grant was the victim not just of one out-of-control cop, but of a system that's out of control. The system that legally maintains the death penalty even for the "factually innocent;" that lets cops off with a slap on the wrist-if that-while black people are "legally" shot to death all the time off camera; and that violates its own precedents to frame those it considers its political enemies, such as journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal-that system is out of control.

That is, the system is out of our control, the working masses who make the things people need, and produce the wealth that the Wall Street tycoons love to squander. It is in control of our enemies, the capitalist ruling class. It's their system, not ours-no matter who's president. And their system can't be "reformed" it must be overthrown.

High-priced shoes to sell, or revolution?

But what about the window-breaking and looting? Is that a rebellion against the system? Or is it a way to get some high-priced shoes to sell?

However it's thought of, what is important here is the sadly ineffective nature of this response to the murder of an unarmed black man by police, and to the crimes of the racist injustice system as a whole. The "power" to break a window is not doing us any good right now. We need a different sort of power, the power that can only come from a disciplined, working-class mass movement, one which relies on its own strength, not on anarchist fantasies-and not on the Democratic Party or the U.S. federal government!

While numerous black community organizers, socialists and other radicals worked on organizing this protest, and spoke at the rally, they still lack the organized mass power that is needed to overthrow the true perpetrators of violence, the ruling-class. Despite the over-the-top paranoia of "Operation Verdict"-and despite the raid on the Foot-Locker-business does still go on as usual. The working people seem to have (temporarily!) lost their ability to bring the wheels of production to a stand still. But the power to do so-and the power to remake society into one that is truly color blind and just-is still there. What we need now is a multi-racial, working class revolutionary movement that can bring that power to life, a power for human life, for liberation of all peoples, for the planet.

Chris Kinder is an Oakland resident, socialist, and member of the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


9) Is it almost over? BP will try to stop oil flow next week
Mark Seibel | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Fri, Jul. 09, 2010
last updated: July 10, 2010 06:47:24 AM

WASHINGTON - In a dramatic turn of events, the Obama administration has given BP the go-ahead to remove the containment cap atop the runaway Deepwater Horizon oil well and replace it with a tighter fitting one in an attempt to stop all the oil now flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps as soon as the middle of next week.

If successful, no oil would gush into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time since soon after the Deepwater Horizon exploded in flames on April 20.

Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man on the oil spill, said Friday that the current containment cap will be removed on Saturday and that installation of the new one would begin three or four days later.

Once the new cap is in place, engineers will attempt to stop any oil from flowing out.

"Our first goal," Allen said of the new containment device, "would be to shut . . the well in. In other words, close all the means of oil to escape."

It was unclear how, after more than 80 days, officials suddenly had a seeming solution to the gushing oil ready in a short period of time. While the new containment cap has been under construction for weeks, officials previously hadn't portrayed it as having such a potentially crucial role.

Allen didn't say how many days it would be before the cap would be in place, but a timeline that BP provided to Allen on Friday shows that if all things go as planned, BP would be able to close off the well five days after the old containment cap is removed.

If technicians encounter difficulties, that period might stretch to nine days, the timeline showed.

Bob Dudley, the BP executive in charge of the Gulf oil spill, said in a letter to Allen that included the timeline that switching the containment cap wouldn't begin until hoses are connected that would allow BP to add a third ship to collect oil from the blown-out well.

Allen, however, appeared satisfied that those preparations are well on the way to completion and that engineers "will likely be in a position to be able to start removing the current cap . . . tomorrow."

Just Wednesday, Allen had declined to lay odds on whether the Obama administration would approve the new containment cap, and Thursday he remained skeptical that BP would be able to close off the well until mid-August.

Allen laid the decision to the weather, saying forecasters are predicting a seven to 10-day window of calm weather.

"We think this weather window presents a significant opportunity for us to accelerate the process of capping - shutting down the well from the top and increasing the prospects for being able to kill the well from below through the relief wells," Allen said.

Allen also said other events had come together to assuage earlier concerns that capping the well at the top would cause damage to the well itself - a concern that caused officials to halt the so-called "top kill" effort in late May.

"If there is a problem and we have to release the pressure ... there'll be four different ways to take (crude out) . . . and produce it," lessening the pressure.

Allen described a multi-step process of robots unscrewing six bolts to remove the sheared-off riser pipe, strapping together two pipes that will remain so it's easier to fit the containment cap over them, then bolting the new contraption in place and sealing it with a valve.

There are, of course, no guarantees.

For one, while Allen talked of a seven to 10 days of calm weather, BP's timeline shows only an eight-day window - a window just barely long enough to accommodate the work if unbolting the well's riser pipe takes longer than the ideal.

BP also provided Allen with a list of backup plans should the new containment cap take longer to install than anticipated or not work as officials hope.

Among those, Dudley wrote, would be the stationing between the Deepwater Horizon site and the Gulf Coast of nearly 400 boats and more than 50 aircraft that would be expected to spot and scoop up the additional oil that would flow into the Gulf between the time the current containment cap is removed and the time the new one is installed.

The primary backup plan, however, is the completion of connections that would allow oil to flow from the Deepwater Horizon well's failed blowout preventer directly to the Helix Producer I drill ship. Those connections are in place, Allen said, and the Helix Producer may begin receiving oil as soon as Sunday.

Having the Helix Producer in place will help ease one immediate negative result of removing the current containment cap - once it's gone, the 15,000 or so barrels of oil a day that had been collected through it by the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship will spew directly into the Gulf until the new cap is in place.

Allen said, however, that by Tuesday the Helix Producer will be taking on at least as much oil as the Discoverer Enterprise was.

"We're hoping to mitigate the gap without having the capping device on by bringing the Helix Producer on board," Allen said.

Allen also said the new capping device will help officials determine whether the Deepwater Horizon's wellbore was damaged by the April 20 explosion and fire that raged for more than 36 hours after. The condition of the wellbore has been a concern for weeks. A damaged well bore would complicate plans to kill the well permanently by pumping heavy drilling mud into it through a relief well.

Allen said that with the cap in place and closed, technicians will be able to measure the pressure inside. A pressure of 9,000 pounds per square inch, engineers believe, will be a sign that no oil is leaking out of the wellbore. A lower pressure would indicate that oil and natural gas are leaking out of the wellbore into the surrounding seabed.

The decision to move ahead with capping the well also complicates the task of determining how much oil is leaking from the well. Previously, Allen had said that government scientists would have a better chance of refining estimates of the leak once three ships were in place with a capacity to collect 53,000 barrels of oil a day. Currently, government scientists have said the well is gushing between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day.

With the new cap sealing the well, however, Allen said government scientists would have to estimate the well's flow rate solely by knowing precisely the pressure within the cap.

In addition, Dudley also outlined a schedule for permanently sealing the well with heavy drilling mud and cement through the relief well by Aug. 13, a date more in line with what Allen and others have long said was the most likely timeline.

That schedule forecasts that drillers of the relief well will be within 100 vertical feet of where they hope to intercept the runaway well by Monday and that by a week later, they should be ready to drill into the well bore and begin pouring heavy drilling mud into the well's "annulus," the space between the wall of the well and the drilling pipe inside.

That process will take 10 days, BP estimated, after which drillers will enter the pipe itself and pump in drilling mud and cement, a procedure that will take 14 days.


10) Threatening World Order: US and Israel Quietly Announce Plans to Reconstitute Their Nuclear Stockpiles
By Anthony DiMaggio, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
July 10, 2010

The world looks like it's about to become a more dangerous place. A recent report from Israel's newspaper Haaretz finds that the United States is moving forward with plans to strengthen Israel's nuclear weapons stockpile. The report, exposed within the last few days, originated from Israel's Army Radio, which sent along a secret document chronicling the nuclear cooperation between US and Israeli leaders.(1) Israel has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), meaning that it is not technically violating international rules under the NPT regarding the development and reconstitution of nuclear weapons, despite longstanding efforts of the international community to establish a "nuclear weapons free zone" in the Middle East.

Part of the fear of those advocating nuclear abolition in the Middle East is that the United States will agree to send nuclear materials - extracted from its own civilian nuclear power plants - to Israel, much as it did for India, another country that refuses to sign the NPT.

The Obama and Netanyahu governments are seeking to obscure their contempt for nuclear abolition by calling for "nonproliferation" in the Middle East, while Israel simultaneously boycotts New-York-based discussions (at the 2010 NPT conference) of the need for a "nuclear free" Middle East.(2) "Nonproliferation," within this context, can be understood to apply only to other countries such as Iran, which has long been a target for US and Israeli military planners.

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The Obama and Netanyahu governments recently announced that they will oppose efforts at singling Israel out in any "nuclear weapons free" Middle East discussion. The problem with this announcement is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East to currently have nuclear weapons. In light of this fact, any attempts to shield Israel from being "singled out" will inevitably prevent progress in moving toward nuclear disarmament in the region.

Much is made of Iran's alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons by Israel and the United States. This propaganda campaign appears to be paying off in light of Iran's recent announcement of its planned opening this September of a nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.(3) US and Israeli officials maintain that Iran is enriching uranium under the auspices of a civilian nuclear program, while secretly using its uranium stockpile to develop nuclear weapons. Those who make such claims are at a loss to explain why the International Atomic Energy Agency - in addition to the US National Intelligence Estimate - found no evidence of nuclear weapons development in Iran, despite countless inspections by international observers.(4) Those claiming that Iran is a threat are also unable to explain why inspectors are unable to uncover any evidence that Iran is producing highly-enriched uranium (of a quality suitable to develop a nuclear weapon), but instead only produces low-enriched uranium suitable for use in nuclear power plants.(5)

Despite the critical evidence above, the US-Israeli propaganda campaign is succeeding in obscuring Israel's and the United States' own open contempt for nuclear disarmament. It should be remembered that the US openly violated the NPT late last year when it announced it would extract plutonium from its own nuclear reactors in order to create a new generation of nuclear weapons (for more see the original news report here).

According to Fox News polling, as recently as April 2010, 65 percent of Americans support "the United States taking military action to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons."(6) This represents a four percent increase since September 2009. As of late 2009, CNN polling found that an astounding 88 percent of Americans believed that Iran is developing nuclear weapons - a 27 percent increase since December 2007.(7) Similarly, a poll from the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University found that 81 percent of Iranians believed Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, according to polling done in mid 2009.(8)

Recent revelations that Israel is moving forward with US help in reconstituting its nuclear weapons program are ignored in the US press. At the same time, the United States' own efforts to redevelop its nuclear stockpile are completely suppressed, despite the obsession of both the United States and Israel with Iran's fictitious nuclear weapons. The Obama administration and the mass media are now promoting a false narrative depicting the US as committed to nuclear transparency and disarmament, and its enemies as opposed to such practices. Nowhere is this strategy more evident than in the Obama administration's continuous attacks on Iran's "nuclear threat," pursued alongside Obama's announcement of a new commitment to "nuclear transparency." More specifically, the Obama administration publicly disclosed the (previously classified) total number of operational US nuclear warheads in existence today - which stands at just over 5,000.(9) While this step was a move in the right direction in terms of drawing attention to the United States' massive stockpile, it was cynically pursued alongside a quiet announcement by the Department of Energy (originally made in September 2009) that the US is moving forward with developing a new generation of nuclear weapons, rather than working toward nuclear disarmament as legally required under the NPT.(10)

The Obama administration makes Orwellian claims that it is moving toward disarmament - when in fact it's doing the opposite by reconstituting its aging arsenal. At the same time, Obama demonizes foreign nations such as Iran, which international inspectors and US intelligence agencies concede is not developing nuclear weapons (at least according to all available intelligence).

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced, following the administration's report on the US nuclear stockpile, "We think it is in our national security interest to be transparent as we can be about the nuclear program of the United States ... the important part is that the US is no longer going to keep other countries in the dark."(11) Such statements are disingenuous at best when the US decides to redevelop its aging weapons, while any discussion of this is omitted in media and political discourse. Instead, readers are subject to reporting from The Associated Press that frames the Obama administration as "serious about stopping the spread of atomic weapons and reducing their numbers."(12)

US attention to Iran's nonexistent nuclear weapons program is all the rage in the US media. According to a comprehensive search of the Lexis Nexis database, the words "Iran" and "nuclear weapons" appeared in nearly 1,000 stories across The New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox and MSNBC from January through June 2010. In contrast, the United States' own openly declared "Complex Modernization" program - in which the US allocated $55 billion to extracting plutonium pits and enriched uranium from existing nuclear power plants to place in new nuclear warheads(13) - received not a single mention in any of the above media outlets from September 2009 when the plan was first announced, through June 2010, shortly following Obama's announcement of his renewed commitment to nuclear "transparency" and "disarmament."

It is disturbing that the US plan for nuclear weapons production is completely censored from public discourse. Obama promised to "seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." The Department of Energy's plans clearly violate this promise, and run counter to US obligations under the NPT to pursue US nuclear disarmament, rather than rearmament. It is no surprise that the US media establishment is ignoring this story, considering that American journalists are heavily reliant on official sources to write their stories and since journalists see US foreign policy as benevolent and humanitarian in intent. By ignoring the United States' contempt for nonproliferation, the mass media is guaranteeing that Americans will remain ignorant of the United States' brazen commitment to power politics at the expense of global security and stability.


1. Barak Ravid and Reuters, "Report: Secret Document Affirms US Israeli Nuclear Partnership," Haaretz, 8 July 2010.
2. Mark Weiss, "Israel to Boycott Nuclear Free Middle East Plan," Irish Times, 31 May 2010,
3. DPA, "Iran Says Bushehr Nuclear Plant to be Ready by September," Haaretz, 7 July 2010.
4. Sylvia Westall, "No Sign Iran Seeks Nuclear Arms: New IAEA Head," Reuters, 3 July 2009.; Mark Mazzetti, "US Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work," New York Times, 3 December 2007.
5. BBC, "Iran Claims Higher Enriched Uranium Production," BBC, 24 June 2010.
6. For the figures provided on public opinion of Iran, see the poll aggregator, Polling Report.
7. Ibid.
8. Djallal Malti, "Israel Keeps Anxious Eye on Iran Turmoil," Agence France Presse, 24 June 2009.
9. Associated Press, "US Releases Details of Nuclear Weapons Inventory,", 3 May 2010.
10. Matthew Cardinale, "US Nukes Agency Pushes New Bomb Production," Truthout/Inter Press Service, 30 September 2009.
11. Associated Press, "US Releases Details of Nuclear Weapons Inventory,", 3 May 2010.
12. Ibid.
13. Matthew Cardinale, "US Nukes Agency Pushes New Bomb Production," Truthout/Inter Press Service, 30 September 2009.


11) Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in 'Silent Raids'
"'Instead of hundreds of agents going after one company, now one agent can go after hundreds of companies,' said Mark K. Reed, president of Border Management Strategies, a consulting firm in Tucson that advises companies across the country on immigration law. 'And there is no drama, no trauma, no families being torn apart, no handcuffs.'...Federal labor officials estimate that more than 60 percent of farm workers in the United States are illegal immigrants....After completing a federally mandated local labor search, Gebbers Farms applied to the federal guest worker program to import about 1,200 legal temporary workers - most from Mexico. The guest workers, who can stay for up to six months, also included about 300 from Jamaica."
July 9, 2010

BREWSTER, Wash. - The Obama administration has replaced immigration raids at factories and farms with a quieter enforcement strategy: sending federal agents to scour companies' records for illegal immigrant workers.

While the sweeps of the past commonly led to the deportation of such workers, the "silent raids," as employers call the audits, usually result in the workers being fired, but in many cases they are not deported.

Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted audits of employee files at more than 2,900 companies. The agency has levied a record $3 million in civil fines so far this year on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants, according to official figures. Thousands of those workers have been fired, immigrant groups estimate.

Employers say the audits reach more companies than the work-site roundups of the administration of President George W. Bush. The audits force businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant on the payroll- not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid - and make it much harder to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements. Auditing is "a far more effective enforcement tool," said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, which includes many worried fruit growers.

Immigration inspectors who pored over the records of one of those growers, Gebbers Farms, found evidence that more than 500 of its workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico, were in the country illegally. In December, Gebbers Farms, based in this Washington orchard town, fired the workers.

"Instead of hundreds of agents going after one company, now one agent can go after hundreds of companies," said Mark K. Reed, president of Border Management Strategies, a consulting firm in Tucson that advises companies across the country on immigration law. "And there is no drama, no trauma, no families being torn apart, no handcuffs."

President Obama, in a speech last week, explained a two-step immigration policy. He promised tough enforcement against illegal immigration, in workplaces and at the border, saying it would prepare the way for a legislative overhaul to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the country. White House officials say the enforcement is under way, but they acknowledge the overhaul is unlikely to happen this year.

In another shift, the immigration agency has moved away from bringing criminal charges against immigrant workers who lack legal status but have otherwise clean records.

Republican lawmakers say Mr. Obama is talking tough, but in practice is lightening up.

"Even if discovered, illegal aliens are allowed to walk free and seek employment elsewhere" said Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "This lax approach is particularly troubling," he said, "at a time when so many American citizens are struggling to find jobs."

Employers say the Obama administration is leaving them short of labor for some low-wage work, conducting silent raids but offering no new legal immigrant laborers in occupations, like farm work, that Americans continue to shun despite the recession. Federal labor officials estimate that more than 60 percent of farm workers in the United States are illegal immigrants.

John Morton, the head of the immigration agency, known as ICE, said the goal of the audits is to create "a culture of compliance" among employers, so that verifying new hires would be as routine as paying taxes. ICE leaves it up to employers to fire workers whose documents cannot be validated. But an employer who fails to do so risks prosecution.

ICE is looking primarily for "egregious employers" who commit both labor abuses and immigration violations, Mr. Morton said, and the agency is ramping up penalties against them.

In April, Michel Malecot, the chef of a popular bakery in San Diego, was indicted on 12 criminal counts of harboring illegal immigrants. The government is seeking to seize his bakery. He has pleaded not guilty. In Maryland, the owner of two restaurants, George Anagnostou, pleaded guilty last month to criminal charges of harboring at least 24 illegal immigrants. He agreed to forfeit more than $734,000.

But the firings at Gebbers Farms shocked this village of orchard laborers (population 2,100) by the Columbia River among sere brown foothills in eastern Washington. Six months after the firings, the silence still prevails, with both the company and the illegal immigrants reluctant to discuss them.

Farm worker advocates said the family-owned company, one of the biggest apple growers in the country, did not fit Mr. Morton's description of an exploiter.

"The general reputation for Gebbers Farms was that they were doing right by their employees," said Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The Gebbers packing house is the center of this company town, amid more than 5,000 acres of well-tended orchards, where the lingua franca is Spanish. Officials said public school enrollment is more than 90 percent Hispanic.

Throughout last year, ICE auditors examined forms known as I-9's, which all new hires in the country must fill out. ICE then advised Gebbers Farms of Social Security and immigration numbers that did not check out with federal databases.

Just before Christmas, managers summoned the workers in groups. In often emotional exchanges, managers immediately fired those without valid documents.

"No comment," said Jay Johnson, a lawyer for Gebbers Farms, expressing the company's only statement.

Many workers lived in houses they rented from the company; they were given three months to move out. In Brewster, truck payments stopped, televisions were returned, mobile homes were sold, mortgages defaulted.

Many immigrants purchased new false documents and went looking for jobs in more distant orchards, former Gebbers Farms workers said. But the word is out among growers in the region to avoid hiring immigrants from the company because ICE knows they are unauthorized.

"Many people are still crying because this is really hard," said M. García, 41, a former Gebbers packing house worker who has been out of a job since January.

There was no wave of deportations and few families left on their own for Mexico. "They are saying, what's going to happen to their kids?" said Mario Camacho, an administrator in the Brewster school district. "To those kids, this is their country."

After the firings, Gebbers Farms advertised hundreds of jobs for orchard workers. But there were few takers in the state.

"Show me one American -just one - climbing a picker's ladder," said María Cervantes, 33, a former Gebbers Farms worker from Mexico who gave her name because she was recently approved as a legal immigrant.

After completing a federally mandated local labor search, Gebbers Farms applied to the federal guest worker program to import about 1,200 legal temporary workers - most from Mexico. The guest workers, who can stay for up to six months, also included about 300 from Jamaica.

"They are bringing people from outside," Ms. Cervantes said, perplexed. "What will happen to those of us who are already here?"

Immigrant advocates said they are surprised and frustrated with Mr. Obama, after seeing an increase in enforcement activity since he took office. "It would be easier to fight if it was a big raid," said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of OneAmerica, a group in Seattle. "But this is happening everywhere and often."


12) Dead for a Century, Twain Says What He Meant
"Twain refers to American soldiers as 'uniformed assassins.'"
July 9, 2010

Wry and cranky, droll and cantankerous - that's the Mark Twain we think we know, thanks to reading "Huck Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" in high school. But in his unexpurgated autobiography, whose first volume is about to be published a century after his death, a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the role of the angry prophet.

Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic - at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as "uniformed assassins" - that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.

"From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out," Twain instructed them in 1906. "There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see."

Twain's decree will be put to the test when the University of California Press publishes the first of three volumes of the 500,000-word "Autobiography of Mark Twain" in November. Twain dictated most of it to a stenographer in the four years before his death at 74 on April 21, 1910. He argued that speaking his recollections and opinions, rather than writing them down, allowed him to adopt a more natural, colloquial and frank tone, and Twain scholars who have seen the manuscript agree.

In popular culture today, Twain is "Colonel Sanders without the chicken, the avuncular man who told stories," Ron Powers, the author of "Mark Twain: A Life," said in a phone interview. "He's been scrubbed and sanitized, and his passion has been kind of forgotten in all these long decades. But here he is talking to us, without any filtering at all, and what comes through that we have lost is precisely this fierce, unceasing passion."

Next week the British literary magazine Granta will publish an excerpt from the autobiography, called "The Farm." In it Twain recalls childhood visits to his uncle's Missouri farm, reflects on slavery and the slave who served as the model for Jim in "Huckleberry Finn," and offers an almost Proustian meditation on memory and remembrance, with watermelon and maple sap in place of Proust's madeleine.

"I can see the farm yet, with perfect clearness," he writes. "I can see all its belongings, all its details." Of slavery, he notes that "color and condition interposed a subtle line" between him and his black playmates, but confesses: "In my schoolboy days, I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware there was anything wrong about it."

Versions of the autobiography have been published before, in 1924, 1940 and 1959. But the original editor, Albert Bigelow Paine, was a stickler for propriety, cutting entire sections he thought offensive; his successors imposed a chronological cradle-to-grave narrative that Twain had specifically rejected, altered his distinctive punctuation, struck additional material they considered uninteresting and generally bowed to the desire of Twain's daughter Clara, who died in 1962, to protect her father's image.

"Paine was a Victorian editor," said Robert Hirst, curator and general editor of the Mark Twain Papers and Project at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, where Twain's papers are housed. "He has an exaggerated sense of how dangerous some of Twain's statements are going to be, which can extend to anything: politics, sexuality, the Bible, anything that's just a little too radical. This goes on for a good long time, a protective attitude that is very harmful."

Twain's opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep and includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the right wing to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers.

In a passage removed by Paine, Twain excoriates "the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish War" and Gen. Leonard Wood's "mephitic record" as governor general in Havana. In writing about an attack on a tribal group in the Philippines, Twain refers to American troops as "our uniformed assassins" and describes their killing of "six hundred helpless and weaponless savages" as "a long and happy picnic with nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory."

He is similarly unsparing about the plutocrats and Wall Street luminaries of his day, who he argued had destroyed the innate generosity of Americans and replaced it with greed and selfishness. "The world believes that the elder Rockefeller is worth a billion dollars," Twain observes. "He pays taxes on two million and a half."

Justin Kaplan, author of "Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography," said in a telephone interview: "One thing that gets Mark Twain going is his rage and resentment. There are a number of passages where he wants to get even, to settle scores with people whom he really despises. He loved invective."

The material in Volume 1 that was omitted from previous editions amounts to "maybe as little as 5 percent of the dictations," said Harriet E. Smith, chief editor of the autobiography. "But there will be a much higher percentage in Volumes 2 and 3," each expected to be about 600 pages.

By the time all three volumes are available, Mr. Hirst said, "about half will not have ever been in print before." A digital online edition is also planned, Ms. Smith said, ideally to coincide with publication of Volume 1 of "the complete and authoritative edition," as the work is being called.

Some of Twain's most critical remarks about individuals are directed at names that have faded from history. He complains about his lawyer, his publisher, the inventor of a failed typesetting machine who he feels fleeced him, and is especially hard on a countess who owns the villa in which he lived with his family in Florence, Italy, in 1904. He describes her as "excitable, malicious, malignant, vengeful, unforgiving, selfish, stingy, avaricious, coarse, vulgar, profane, obscene, a furious blusterer on the outside and at heart a coward."

About literary figures of his time, however, Twain has relatively little to say. He dislikes Bret Harte, whom he dismisses as "always bright but never brilliant"; offers a sad portrait of an aged and infirm Harriet Beecher Stowe; and lavishly praises his friend William Dean Howells. He reserved criticism of novelists whose work he disliked (Henry James, George Eliot) for his letters.

Critics, though, are another story. "I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value," Twain writes. "However, let it go," he adds. "It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and Congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden."

As aggrieved as he sometimes appears in the autobiography, the reliable funnyman is in evidence too. Twain recalls being invited to an official White House dinner and being warned by his wife, Olivia, who stayed at home, not to wear his winter galoshes. At the White House, he sought out the first lady, Frances Cleveland, and got her to sign a card on which was written "He didn't."

Mr. Hirst said: "I've read this manuscript a million times, and it still makes me laugh. This is a guy who made literature out of talk, and the autobiography is the culmination, the pinnacle of that impulse."


13) Police Begin Releasing Protesters
Breaking News / Law Enforcement & Crime Puck Lo -
Fri, Jul 9, 2010

Authorities have been slowly releasing today some of the 78 people who were
arrested during protests in downtown Oakland last night, following the
involuntary manslaughter verdict of former BART police officer Johannes
Mehserle, who shot unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in 2009.

Many of the arrestees, who included Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton
Hodge and Walter Riley, civil rights attorney and father of Oakland-based hip
hop artist Boots Riley, were supposed to be issued a ticket and then released,
said Marcus Kryshka of the National Lawyers Guild. The organization will be
providing pro bono legal support to many of those arrested during last night's

But almost seventeen hours later, many of the protesters are still being booked,
and lawyers expect that some of them will be transferred by bus to Alameda
County Jail in Dublin before being released. A handful of protesters will be
facing more serious charges of felony arson and assault charges, according to
the National Lawyers Guild.

Oakland attorney Michael Siegel, who tried to locate Hinton Hodge at North
County Jail in Oakland last night, said police refused to allow lawyers into the
jail. As reported earlier, Oakland police arrested Hinton Hodge last night when
she refused to stop playing chess during what at the time was a mostly peaceful
demonstration at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street. Michael Siegel,
whose father Dan Siegel was among the demonstrators who was with Hinton Hodge
but was not arrested, said that when he went looking for Hinton Hodge, jailers
said "in vague terms that there was a threatened inmate riot, so they were not
allowing any attorney visits of any sort."

The National Lawyers Guild also is looking into allegations that police roughed
up some protesters. "We got reports from the street of people saying they were
pushed to the ground with batons. There's a guy with a broken arm who we're
trying to get a lawyer to go see," said National Lawyers Guild volunteer,
Samantha Levens.


14) BP's Plan to Cap Oil Well Remains on Target
July 11, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - BP reported progress Sunday in the effort to install a new cap that could contain all of the oil spewing from its out-of-control well in the Gulf of Mexico, and said a flotilla of skimmers was helping to collect the additional oil that is leaking while the procedure was underway.

Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president in charge of the effort, said a remaining stub of riser pipe had been removed overnight, leaving a flange at the top of the well that the new cap will be bolted to.

"We're pleased with our progress," Mr. Wells said at a briefing Sunday morning in Houston. But he said the work was not expected to be finished until Wednesday at the earliest.

On Saturday, BP removed the old cap, a looser-fitting device that had been diverting 15,000 barrels of oil a day to a ship on the surface. The new cap should eventually enable BP to contain all of the oil from the well, estimated at up to 60,000 barrels a day, but until it is installed, oil will gush unimpeded from the top of the well once again.

To cope with the additional oil, Mr. Wells said, two more oil-skimming boats were being added to the 46 already out near the well site, 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. On Saturday, he said, the skimmers collected 25,000 barrels of mixed oil and water, and 15 controlled burns were conducted. With relatively calm seas, he said, "it was a good day in terms of containing oil at the surface."

Mr. Wells expressed confidence that the new cap - the latest in a string of efforts, many of which have failed - would succeed. But he said contingency plans were ready.

The old cap formed a loose seal, and oil and gas constantly escaped from it. The new one, two heavy-duty pieces of equipment that together are 30 feet high and weigh more than 100 tons, should eventually not allow any gas or oil to escape, and will be used to divert more oil to collection ships that will be brought in over the next two to three weeks, Mr. Wells said.

"Our intent is to have the ability to contain all the flow," he said.

After a request from Adm. Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard officer who is leading the federal response effort, to take advantage of an expected period of good weather and accelerate work to stem the leak, BP agreed to install the new cap as workers were bringing another collection system into operation.

Work on the new collection system, which would funnel up to 20,000 barrels a day from a pipe below the cap to another ship, the Helix Producer, had been delayed by high winds and rough seas. But Mr. Wells said the system would start collecting oil on Sunday and reach full capacity a few days later.

That may help reduce the amount of oil that is now rushing unimpeded from the top of the well. Another system, which is diverting 8,000 to 9,000 barrels of oil a day to another vessel, should not be affected by the cap work.

The installation of the new cap is complex and, as with previous undersea efforts to contain or stop the gusher, is being done by remotely operated robots in extreme conditions of temperature and pressure 5,000 feet below the surface of the gulf.

With the riser stub removed, there are now two pieces of drill pipe - presumably one that was in the riser when the blowout occurred on April 20, and one that was driven or fell into it in the disaster - sticking out of the flange. Mr. Wells said that technicians were deciding whether these would need to be bundled with a strap to make it easier to put the new cap on.

Mr. Wells said his team had a new looser-fitting cap, called a top hat, on standby should the installation fail.

Much like the failed blowout preventer, the new cap is outfitted with three valves that can be used to restrict the flow of the well. Mr. Wells said that as soon as the cap was installed, technicians would do just that, "shutting in" the well and taking pressure measurements.

Based on the results, he said, his team, with the help of government scientists and others, would decide how to proceed with other collection efforts.

The pressure readings would also be used to plan for the operation to eventually stop the leak and permanently seal the well by pumping heavy drilling mud into it, followed by cement, through a relief well.

Mr. Wells said that the first relief well was nearing its target point, but that the blown-out well would probably not be completely sealed until mid-August at the earliest.


15) In Haiti, the Displaced Are Left Clinging to the Edge
"Only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have moved into new homes, and the Port-au-Prince area remains a tableau of life in the ruins."
July 10, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Hundreds of displaced families live perilously in a single file of flimsy shanties planted along the median strip of a heavily congested coastal road here called the Route des Rails.

Vehicles rumble by day and night, blaring horns, kicking up dust and belching exhaust. Residents try to protect themselves by positioning tires as bumpers in front of their shacks but cars still hit, injure and sometimes kill them. Rarely does anybody stop to offer help, and Judith Guillaume, 23, often wonders why.

"Don't they have a heart, or a suggestion?" asked Ms. Guillaume, who covers her children's noses with her floral skirt when the diesel fumes get especially strong.

Six months after the earthquake that brought aid and attention here from around the world, the median-strip camp blends into the often numbing wretchedness of the post-disaster landscape. Only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have moved into new homes, and the Port-au-Prince area remains a tableau of life in the ruins.

The tableau does contain a spectrum of circumstances: precarious, neglected encampments; planned tent cities with latrines, showers and clinics; debris-strewn neighborhoods where residents have returned to both intact and condemnable houses; and, here and there, gleaming new shelters or bulldozed territory for a city of the future.

But the government of Haiti has been slow to make the difficult decisions needed to move from a state of emergency into a period of recovery. Weak before the disaster and further weakened by it, the government has been overwhelmed by the logistical complexities of issues like debris removal and the identification of safe relocation sites.

In some cases, the government has also been politically skittish about, say, creating new slums or encouraging people to return to undamaged homes when the ground beneath them could move again.

In others, it has taken charge but gotten bogged down. Since early May, President René Préval has personally focused, in granular detail, on returning about 11,600 Haitians camped in front of the National Palace to the Fort National neighborhood. But while Fort National is now a beehive of cleanup activity, no transitional shelters have been erected there yet.

In contrast, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, working directly with a hands-on mayor in the Carrefour municipality in metropolitan Port-au-Prince, has already moved more than 500 families from its large tent city into simple pine houses whose concrete foundations incorporate recycled debris.

"Even though I lost my mom in the earthquake, I feel so content, so comfortable and so lucky to have this place," Ketly Louis, 33, said, welcoming visitors into her new home on the site of the old home that collapsed on her mother.

International organizations here, while empathetic because of the difficulty of issues like land ownership, criticize the government for creating obstacles of its own. Significant delays in clearing supplies through customs, for instance, slow recovery efforts even as they earn the government substantial fees for storage.

And with hurricane season under way and many tents and tarpaulins needing replacement or reinforcement, some humanitarian groups complain about what they see as the government's failure to articulate a clear resettlement strategy.

"Everywhere I go, people ask me, 'When will we get out of this camp?' " said Julie Schindall, a spokeswoman in Haiti for the international aid group Oxfam. "And I have no answer. There needs to be communication on how all this camp business is going to be resolved."

Haitian and United Nations officials urge patience in the aftermath of what they call the largest urban disaster in modern history. They point to accomplishments in providing emergency food, water and shelter and averting starvation, exodus and violence.

"What hasn't happened is worth noting," said Nigel Fisher, deputy special representative of the United Nations secretary general in Haiti. "We haven't had a major outbreak of disease. We haven't had a major breakdown in security."

Also, they note, the Haitian government, while juggling the sometimes conflicting pressures from international donors, is handicapped by the destruction or damage of most of its ministries and the large numbers of civil servants killed. "I defy any country on earth to be fully functional at this stage after such a disaster," said Imogen Wall, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In Aceh, Indonesia, after the tsunami of 2004, which left the national government intact, it took more than two years to get the displaced population out of tents, Ms. Wall said.

Mr. Fisher said: "In terms of speed, it's never fast enough. But this matches what has happened around the world in comparable situations."

Perilous Settlements

That is little comfort to the residents of the median strip on the Route des Rails.

Since the earthquake, displaced people apparently with no alternatives have planted tenuous roots in the most unsettling places - atop a municipal dump, inside a graveyard, on the bank of a soccer field flooded with contaminated water.

But the median-strip encampment demonstrates acutely both how miserable many settlements are and how they have become hidden in plain sight. Every day, thousands of drivers pass by the threadbare shanties on this coastal thoroughfare.

Only a quarter of the more than 1,200 post-earthquake camps are managed externally by aid organizations; the rest fend for themselves. In the Route des Rails encampment, that means relying on Luma Ludger, the camp leader, who keeps meticulous records in a handwritten ledger - and prays.

"God takes care of us," Mr. Ludger said. He pointed across the highway. "And we also have those latrines."

In March, Islamic Aid, a French organization, set up the latrines, which require users to dash through traffic, especially trying for the many camp residents who have diarrhea. The Red Cross also came by and handed out hygiene kits.

"They told us it was very dangerous to be here, and asked what they could do for us," Mr. Ludger said. "I told them we need land. They said, 'Wow, we cannot help with that' and gave us toothpaste."

Gerta Mojene, a mother of four, asked a reporter how to find a safer place to live. Asked where she might want to go, Ms. Mojene lowered her reddened eyes and said, "Wherever you send me."

Mr. Ludger said that the mayor had spoken of evicting the median-strip squatters for their safety but had not proposed a substitute location. "Life here is a game of chance, you know," he said.

A couple dozen residents have been seriously injured by vehicles; they wear casts and slings. At least three have been killed, among them, relatives said, the father of a baby born on the median strip on the evening after the earthquake.

The baby's name is Katastrof Natirèl - Natural Disaster.

A Presidential Priority

By early spring, when many tent cities appeared to be getting entrenched, President Préval decided to make the large one on the Champ de Mars his personal priority. He wanted to demonstrate the logic of the government's plan to return displaced people to their original neighborhoods, in this case Fort National. He wanted to show progress and be associated with results.

But Mr. Préval created instead a showcase for the difficulties involved in finding a quick alternative to the camps. Fort National, a densely layered hilltop area badly hit by the quake, proved an especially difficult place to clean up and repopulate first.

The president's motivation for focusing on the Champ de Mars camp was at least partly political. The raggedy tent city, with its piles of garbage, puddles of standing water, swarms of mosquitoes, packs of thieves and an increasingly restive population, sits in the front yard of the smashed National Palace.

At the camp itself, where residents strip and bathe in the open, squatting over small plastic tubs, many remain unaware that they have become the president's pet project. "Nobody tells us anything," said Micheline Félix, 30. "It seems like they're just waiting for us to wash away with the first big rain."

But since May, right next door, Mr. Préval has presided over regular, often lengthy meetings of the Champ de Mars-Fort National working group; they begin at 7 a.m. and finish "when the president rises," said Shaun Scales of the International Organization for Migration.

According to Leslie Voltaire, Haiti's special envoy to the United Nations, the operating theory was that those with intact homes would be provided some kind of incentive to move back; those with reparable homes would get materials and assistance to fix them; and those with destroyed homes would be given transitional shelters in Fort National or moved to a planned settlement outside Port-au-Prince.

It soon became apparent, however, that Fort National was in very bad shape. In an engineering survey, some 55 percent of its structures received a red tag, meaning they were unsafe and destined for demolition. That is much higher than the average of 24 percent red tags elsewhere.

At the same time, only 18 percent of the homes in Fort National were tagged green, or immediately reinhabitable - compared with 47 percent in other areas surveyed.

Further, rubble removal, a $500 million problem facing the recovery effort, has proved especially difficult in Fort National. International experts say it would take three to five years to remove all the debris from Haiti if 1,000 or more trucks worked daily; fewer than 300 trucks are hauling rubble now. But those trucks cannot penetrate much of Fort National, which has only one main road and lots of steep alleys. In some places, even wheelbarrows cannot be used. Rubble has to be carried out pail by pail, which at least provides jobs.

Tortue Larose, 27, who earns $5 a day cleaning up Fort National, stood at the partly cleared summit of the neighborhood recently, pointing at a speck of green plastic in the dirt: "See that green?" he said. "That's where my house was. That's where I was born. That's where I intend to die."

Where to dump the rubble that fills Mr. Larose's buckets presents another problem. There is no debris plan for Fort National just as there is no master plan for rubble removal, said Eric Overvest, the United Nations Development Program's country director. Normally, he said, a rubble plan is developed within a month of a major disaster. Port-au-Prince, the capital, did not have a pre-earthquake land use plan, complicating matters.

Still, in almost six months the government has identified only one rubble site, the municipal dump called Truitier. More sites are needed - as are decisions on whether rubble will be recycled and how.

Additionally, debris contains personal effects, and sometimes bodies; it also has a potential monetary value if it is to be reused. "It's not just the rubble, it's the question of rubble ownership," Mr. Scales said. Most in Fort National are renters but the rubble technically belongs to the property owners. And sorting out who owns what land, and getting their permission to excavate has proved difficult, Mr. Scales said.

"It isn't a case of going straight onto land with an excavator," he said.

For those few whose homes in Fort National are intact, the government has to determine what kind of relocation package to offer. Will they subsidize tenants or landlords? Will they help pay back rent or negotiate some forgiveness? What help will be given those whose homes are reparable and how can repairs be aligned with a building code that has yet to be released? If a one-room transitional shelter is erected where a multifamily dwelling stood, who gets it?

Each issue has generated protracted debate. One international disaster expert, who requested anonymity because he did not want to offend Haitian officials, offered what he called "a microexample" of why bigger questions take a long time to resolve. It involved a flier instructing people on how to secure their tents during the hurricane season.

The government emergency management agency first asked that the phrase "hurricane-proof" be deleted, he said, worried about guaranteeing protection, and then that any reference to strong winds be removed. Finally, only rain could be mentioned and even then the flier did not get approved before hurricane season began.

"It's as if they imagined themselves to be in a brick and mortar world of real liability," the disaster expert said. "I think it's more than lack of capacity by the government. They're looking at the political landscape, weighing each word like David Axelrod with a focus group."

Still, many hope that the Champ de Mars process at least lays the groundwork for a speedier resolution of similar problems elsewhere.

And some residents of Fort National, tired of waiting for the government to act, have already moved back, even into dwellings that have been condemned or would be unsafe in a storm.

Negriel Dumas built a roughhewn shack for his family on the barren hilltop. "It's better to be here with the smell of the dead bodies than to be down at that camp where it stinks of pee," he said.

Aggressive Advocates

In late April, Rachelle Derosmy's family of four moved into one of the first transitional shelters to be completed in the Port-au-Prince area. It is a simple pine house, painted grey, with two windows, a concrete foundation and an inclined metal roof fastened with hurricane straps.

"Rain used to fall like a monsoon into our tent," Ms. Derosmy, 24, said, standing in her 150-square-foot home, which is still bare. "We feel so much better now, more secure. We hope in the future to have beds, too."

Ms. Derosmy's new home is in Carrefour, where most of the 1,300 transitional shelters in metropolitan Port-au-Prince have been built. That is partly because Carrefour's mayor has taken an active role in resolving land issues and partly because the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, long based there, has aggressively negotiated with local officials and landlords. It also settled more quickly than some other aid groups on a shelter design.

Transitional shelters are simple wood or steel-frame structures that offer more space, privacy and protection than tents or tarps. They are meant to last three to five years, tiding over a displaced population while permanent homes are repaired or built. But some disaster experts are ambivalent about them, as is the Haitian president, according to a senior government official. President Préval worries that transitional shelters might never be replaced, the official said, adding, "He thinks he will be attacked for creating new bidonvilles," or slums.

International experts estimate that Haiti will need 125,000 transitional shelters; so far, just over 5,500 shelters have been completed, mostly in the countryside where land issues are simpler.

In Carrefour, the Adventist agency has set up a well-oiled production workshop, where imported wood is cut and assembled into kits then constructed and painted on site by local workers. Anton De Vries, a South African engineer who runs the shelter operation, which is co-sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development, said he was determined to provide a home for every family in the Adventist-run tent city.

Tall and cheery, Mr. De Vries recently bumped into a local landlord, Henry Frantz St. Surin, on a construction site and displayed some of the hale-and-hearty diplomatic skill that has served him well here. "Thank you for your contribution," he said in a booming voice. "You are one of the few people who allow others to use their land. I'm sure God will bless you."

Mr. De Vries also crossed paths with one of his new shelter recipients. "Yoo-hoo!" Ms. Louis cried out to him. She ushered him inside, showing off her décor, a mélange of cloth flowers and stuffed animals, and explained why she preferred her new house to her old one: "If another earthquake happens, this one is not going to kill me."

Mr. De Vries said his biggest frustration had been bartering with customs authorities. "We work in very close partnership with the Haitian government," he said with a tight smile. He said that he did not understand why the government did not fast-track emergency supplies and housing materials through its port. He has managed to free 21 shipping containers, enough to complete just over 500 shelters. But another 21 containers have been "held hostage" by the customs agency for more than three weeks now - at a storage fee of almost $16,000 so far.

The port problem has pushed Mr. De Vries to buy local wood. Concerned about deforestation, he did not want to. But he is determined to keep building.

Talk Versus Action

For two months after the quake, Haiti's architects and planners worked in Pétionville to prepare the post-disaster needs assessment and action plan required to obtain international financial support for the reconstruction of Haiti.

Their dreams were grand. They envisioned Haiti 2030 as a self-reliant, democratically stable, decentralized and reforested land with decent housing and education for all, a national highway network, a hearty fruit and tuber industry, animal husbandry, industrial zones and tourism.

"The government is doing good things in thinking to the future," said Mario C. Flores, director of disaster response field operations for Habitat for Humanity. "I only wish that all those aspirational plans would become operational."

At a conference in New York on March 31, donors promised Haiti $5.3 billion over the next 18 months. Two weeks later, although questions about giving up control to foreigners arose, the Parliament approved the creation of an interim reconstruction commission to be led by former President Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, and Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti's prime minister. It took another couple of months to pick its 26 Haitian and international members, and the search for an executive director is still under way.

The reconstruction commission met for the first and only time so far in mid-June.

After that meeting, a Haitian journalist asked why there had been so much talk and so little progress. Mr. Bellerive mentioned road-building and other projects in the countryside and said, "There is a lot being done actually but some of it may not be visible if you confine yourself to the Port-au-Prince area," where the bulk of the destruction occurred.

Earlier in the spring, Mr. Bellerive and Mr. Voltaire, who is an architect and urban planner, had visited Mr. Clinton at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y. At one point, Mr. Clinton kept getting distracted by incoming e-mail messages. According to Mr. Voltaire, Mr. Clinton said, "If I receive one more suggestion for the ideal house for Haiti, I will explode." And Mr. Bellerive said, "You, too?"

After that, the government hired a London firm to solicit and sift through proposals for "the best, safest and most sustainable housing designs of the future. "In October, several dozen model homes will be built and displayed at a housing expo in Oranger, Haiti. People will be selected to live in the prototypes and to evaluate them, Mr. Voltaire said.

Eventually, permanent housing will be built, he said, at one of a few sites that the government is seizing through eminent domain and hoping to turn into new population centers.

One of those sites is Corail-Cesselesse, about 10 miles north of Port-au-Prince, where the first planned tent city was installed in April on a chalky gravel plane. Hastily created for displaced people who seemed most at risk from flooding or landslides in another camp, it is now home to about 5,000 who live in an orderly grid of white tents far from their bustling urban neighborhood.

Some aid groups criticize the location. "That site does not represent clear strategic thinking on the part of the government," said Ms. Schindall of Oxfam. "It's like the Sudan. There's not a tree in sight. And people feel marooned. They are having major issues finding income-generating activities and soon they are going to have trouble feeding themselves. It's inevitable."

But several residents interviewed seemed willing to tolerate the camp's remoteness because living there puts them in line for the transitional shelters that are supposed to be erected there, and then for the permanent houses that may follow.

Jean Mérite Pierre, a mason, asked visitors to accompany him to the barren land.

"Look at all this space," he said, sweeping his arms over an empty lot. "All those people who died lived in houses that collapsed like dominoes. So even if we are uprooted, life could be better here. We were renters, almost all of us. Here, maybe we can own a house someday. That's what they say. You have to believe them."


16) Analysis Triples U.S. Plutonium Waste Figures
July 10, 2010

WASHINGTON - The amount of plutonium buried at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is nearly three times what the federal government previously reported, a new analysis indicates, suggesting that a cleanup to protect future generations will be far more challenging than planners had assumed.

Plutonium waste is much more prevalent around nuclear weapons sites nationwide than the Energy Department's official accounting indicates, said Robert Alvarez, a former department official who in recent months reanalyzed studies conducted by the department in the last 15 years for Hanford; the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory; the Savannah River Site, near Aiken, S.C.; and elsewhere.

But the problem is most severe at Hanford, a 560-square-mile tract in south-central Washington that was taken over by the federal government as part of the Manhattan Project. By the time production stopped in the 1980s, Hanford had made most of the nation's plutonium.

The plutonium does not pose a major radiation hazard now, largely because it is under "institutional controls" like guards, weapons and gates. But government scientists say that even in minute particles, plutonium can cause cancer, and because it takes 24,000 years to lose half its radioactivity, it is certain to last longer than the controls.

The fear is that in a few hundred years, the plutonium could reach an underground area called the saturated zone, where water flows, and from there enter the Columbia River. Because the area is now arid, contaminants move extremely slowly, but over the millennia the climate is expected to change, experts say.

The finding on the extent of plutonium waste signals that the cleanup, still in its early stages, will be more complex, perhaps requiring technologies that do not yet exist. But more than 20 years after the Energy Department vowed to embark on a cleanup, it still has not "characterized," or determined the exact nature of, the contaminated soil.

The department has been weighing whether to try to clean up 90 percent, 99 percent or 99.9 percent of the waste, but because the extent of contamination is unclear, so is the relative cost of the options. For now, the preferred option is 99 percent.

Government officials recognize that they still have a weak grasp of how much plutonium is contaminating the environment. "The numbers are changing," said Ron Skinnerland, a radiation expert at the Washington State Department of Ecology, which is trying to enforce an agreement it reached with the Energy Department in 1989 for the federal government to clean up Hanford.

So far, the cleanup, which began in the 1990s, has involved moving some contaminated material near the banks of the Columbia to drier locations. (In fact, the Energy Department's cleanup office is called the Office of River Protection.) The office has begun building a factory that would take the most highly radioactive liquids and sludges from decaying storage tanks and solidify them in glass.

That would not make them any less radioactive, but it would increase the likelihood that they stay put for the next few thousand years.

In 1996, the department released an official inventory of plutonium production and disposal. But Mr. Alvarez analyzed later Energy Department reports and concluded that there was substantially more plutonium in waste tanks and in the environment.

The biggest issue is the amount of plutonium that has leaked from the tanks, was intentionally dumped in the dirt or was pumped into the ground.

Mr. Skinnerland said much of the waste was 90 or 100 feet underground, too deep to dig out. Some contaminants can be pumped out, but that does not work well for materials that contain low concentrations of plutonium.

The Energy Department has researched the possibility of shooting electric currents through the soil to create glasslike materials that would lock up contaminants, but it has not analyzed whether the technique would work at those depths.

Inés R. Triay, the assistant secretary of energy for environmental management, did not dispute Mr. Alvarez's new analysis of department figures. She said that decisions on the long-term cleanup would rely not on the 1996 inventory but on a systematic sampling of the waste, which she said had yet to begin.

Mr. Alvarez's report has been accepted for publication later this year by Science and Global Security, a peer-reviewed journal published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Another problem raised by the inaccuracies in the 1996 figures is that they could complicate the negotiation of new agreements with Russia or other countries about destroying bomb fuel, said Frank N. von Hippel, a professor of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School and a co-chairman of the journal's board of editors.

Gerry Pollet, executive director of the environmental group Hearth of America Northwest, said the government should embrace a cleanup plan that assures that even thousands of years into the future, an unsuspecting public will not be overexposed.

"What is reasonably foreseeable is that there are people who will be drinking the water in the ground at Hanford at some point in the next few hundred years," Mr. Pollet said. "We're going to be killing people, pure and simple."

Plutonium was first manufactured in World War II for use in bombs. (The one that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945 originated with plutonium made at Hanford.) For decades, the government produced it in military reactors by bombarding a natural element, uranium, with subatomic particles called neutrons, converting uranium to plutonium, and then using chemical processes to harvest the plutonium.

The new analysis indicates that the chemical separation process was not nearly as efficient as the government claimed and that a lot of the plutonium was left behind in various stages.

It also suggests that estimates of plutonium production by the Energy Department and its predecessors, including the Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Project, were not nearly as accurate as scientists and bureaucrats said they were.

Releasing declassified figures in 1996, the Department of Energy said that 111,400 kilograms (about 123 tons) of plutonium had been produced at Hanford or taken there from civilian reactors or foreign sources.

Of that, 12,000 kilograms were "removed," the department said. Some of that plutonium was consumed in weapons tests or in bomb attacks like the one on Nagasaki, but 3,919 kilograms of plutonium were stored as waste at Hanford, it reported.

However, Mr. Alvarez's analysis, based entirely on Energy Department documents, shows that the amount discarded as waste was actually 11,655 kilograms, nearly three times as much, and that the total inventory of plutonium produced and acquired was closer to 120,000 kilograms, not 111,400.

Mr. Alvarez's estimate indicates that enough plutonium is buried at Hanford to create 1,800 Nagasaki-size bombs, he said, but he played down any possibility of a weapons threat. "I don't think anybody stole anything," he said.


17) Libyan Aid Ship Plans Run to Gaza
July 10, 2010

ATHENS (AP) - A ship commissioned by a Libyan charity has left Greece with food and medical supplies for Gaza, but it remains unclear whether it will challenge the Israeli blockade of sea routes to the territory.

Greek authorities said the ship was headed to the Egyptian port of Al Arish, and not for Gaza, as originally planned. But Youssef Sawani, executive director of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which has mounted the aid operation, said that the goal remained to unload the supplies in Gaza.

Still, Mr. Sawani said that the ship, the Amalthea, would not seek confrontation with the Israelis and that it would seek another "appropriate" destination if the Israelis refused to give it access to Gaza.

The Amalthea's trip, which is expected to last several days, comes more than a month after Israeli commandos killed nine Turks in a raid on a flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade.


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