Sunday, July 18, 2010





Sarah Kruzan: Sentenced to Life Without Parole at Age 16


Make A Living With My Own Two Hands/ Hell It's Part of Being Who I Am
by Abby Zimet
July 14, 2010

After two days of often emotional testimony from Gulf Coast residents, the White House oil spill commission heard Louisiana native, crawfisherman and singer-songwriter Drew Landry sing it like it is in a newly, sorrowfully minted lament for a way of life he fears has been destroyed. From "The BP Blues": "Kickin mud off up a crawfish hole/ barefooted with a fishin pole/ went to workin in the oil fields/ that's the only way to pay our bills..."

After the song, Landry told the hearing: "It feels like BP is in control of this deal, and the Coast Guard does what they want...More importantly, it feels like the people don't have a voice in this thing. It just sucks. Let's just do the right damn thing. It shouldn't be this hard. It shouldn't take a committee to listen to people."


The Gulf 20 years from now

Tell President Obama to demand that BP stop blocking
clean-up workers from using life-saving respirators:


"Corporations don't mind if we repeat history--it's cheaper that way." --Keith Olberman

Gulf's Human Health Crisis Explodes -- Countdown with Keith Olberman


COREXIT is Eating Through Boats in the Gulf


Gulf toxicologist: Shrimpers exposed to Corexit "bleeding from the rectum"


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:




Oliver Stone's new documentary SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Opens Friday July 16th in SAN FRANCISCO and BERKELEY !


"PROVOCATIVE...Oliver Stone's celebration of the leftward tilt of South American politics comes as a cheerful surprise."
- Stephen Holder , New York Times

"An EYE-OPENING DOCUMENTARY...captures South America in a paradigm shift, wrenching itself free of centuries of colonial control."
- Owen Gleiberman,

" INTERESTING and REVEALING film that challenges conventional thinking about Chávez and South America ."
- Matthew Garrahan, Financial Times

Synopsis: There's a revolution underway in South America , but most of the world doesn't know it. Oliver Stone sets out on a road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media's misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President N_stor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raúl Castro (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region.


Starts Friday 7/16



1881 Post Street at Fillmore
San Francisco , CA 94115

*Don't miss discussion with the film's co-writer Mark Weisbrot (Founder of CEPR) on Fri 7/16 after the main evening show



2966 College Avenue at Ashby
Berkeley, CA 94705

**Don't miss discussion with the film's co-writer Mark Weisbrot (Founder of CEPR) on Sat 7/17 after the main evening show


From: Jack Heyman

To All Participants and Supporters of the Israeli ship protest:

There will be a celebration of the victory of the first-ever successful U.S. labor protest against the Israeli repression of Palestinians. The dock demonstration demanded justice in the deadly IDF attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, an end to the blockade of Gaza and and dismantlng the apartheid wall in the West Bank. ( )(

The celebration will be held at the longshore union, ILWU Local 10; 400 North Point St.; San Francisco (near Fisherman's Wharf) in the Henry Schmidt room at 2:30PM Sunday July 18. A short video of the picket will be shown. Please make every effort to attend this important LaborFest event . (

The celebration will be preceded by a Local 10 presentation on the victorious struggle of the Charleston 5 longshoremen at 1PM . It was at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Charleston 5 in February when the International Dockworkers Council held its General Assembly and Zico Tamela, International Secretary of the South African dockworkers union (SATAWU), raised the call for other unions to follow the example of his union and take decisions for protest actions against Israeli ships to protest the Zionist blockade of Gaza.

In solidarity,


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




Please forward widely...

Lynne Stewart Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison
By Jeff Mackler
(Jeff Mackler is the West Coast Director of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee.)

The full force of the U.S. criminal "justice" system came down on innocent political prisoner, 30-year veteran human rights attorney and radical political activist Lynne Stewart today, July 15, 2010.

In an obviously pre-prepared one hour and twenty minute technical tour de force designed to give legitimacy to a reactionary ruling Federal District Court John Koeltl, who in 2005 sentenced Stewart to 28 months in prison following her frame-up trial and jury conviction on four counts of "conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism," re-sentenced Stewart to 120 months or ten years. Koeltl recommended that Stewart serve her sentence in Danbury, Connecticut's minimum security prison. A final decision will be made by the Bureau of Prisons.

Stewart will remain in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center for 60 days to prepare an appeal.

The jam-packed New York Federal District Court chamber observers where Koeltl held forth let our a gasp of pain and anguish as Lynne's family and friends were stunned - tears flowing down the stricken and somber faces of many. A magnificent Stewart, ever the political fighter and organizer was able to say to her supporters that she felt badly because she had "let them down," a reference to the massive outpouring of solidarity and defiance that was the prime characteristic of Lynne's long fight for freedom.

Judge Koeltl was ordered to revisit his relatively short sentence when it was overturned by a two-judge majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judges Robert D. Sack and Guido Calabresi ruled that Koeltl's sentence was flawed because he had declined to determine whether Stewart committed perjury when she testified at her trial that she believed that she was effectively operating under a "bubble" protecting her from prosecution when she issued a press release on behalf of her also framed-up client, the blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rachman. Rachman was falsely charged with conspiracy to damage New York state buildings.

Dissenting Judge John M. Walker, who called Stewart's sentence, "breathtakingly low" in view of Stewart's "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct" deemed the Second Circuit's majority opinion "substantively unreasonable." Walker essentially sought to impose or demand a 30-year sentence.

The three-judge panel on Dec. 20, 2009 followed its initial ruling with even tougher language demanding that Koeltl revisit his treatment of the "terrorism enhancement" aspects of the law. A cowardly Koeltl, who didn't need this argument to dramatically increase Stewart's sentence, asserted that he had already taken it under consideration in his original deliberations.

Government prosecutors, who in 2005 sought a 30-year sentence, had submitted a 155-page memorandum arguing in support of a 15-30 year sentence. Their arguments demonstrated how twisted logic coupled with vindictive and lying government officials routinely turn the victim into the criminal.

Stewart's attorneys countered with a detailed brief recounting the facts of the case and demonstrating that Stewart's actions in defense of her client were well within the realm of past practice and accepted procedures. They argued that Koeltl properly exercised his discretion in determining that, while the terrorism enhancement provisions of the "law" had to be taken into consideration, the 30-year-prison term associated with it was "dramatically unreasonable," "overstated the seriousness" of Stewart's conduct" and had already been factored into Koeltl's decision.

Stewart's attorneys also argued convincingly in their brief that the Special Administrative Measure (SAM) that Stewart was convicted of violating by releasing a statement from her client to the media was well within the established practice of Stewart's experienced and mentoring co-counsels- former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and past American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee president Abdeen Jabarra. Both had issued similar statements to the media with no government reprisal. Clark was an observer in Koeltl's courtroom. When he testified in support of Lynne during her trial one overzealous prosecutor suggested that he too be subject to the conspiracy charges. The more discreet team of government lawyers quietly dropped the matter.

At worst, in such matters, government officials refuse defense attorneys client visiting rights until an agreement on a contested interpretation of a SAM is reached. This was the case with Stewart and her visiting rights were eventually restored with no punishment or further action. Indeed, when the matter was brought to then Attorney General Janet Reno, the government declined to prosecute or otherwise take any action against Stewart.

But Koeltl, who had essentially accepted this view in his original sentence, reversed himself entirely and proceeded in his erudite-sounding new rendition of the law to repeatedly charge Stewart with multiple acts of perjury regarding her statements on the SAM during her trial.

Koeltl took the occasion to lecture Stewart regarding the first words she uttered in front of a bevy of media outlets when she joyfully alighted from the courthouse following the judge's original 28-month sentence. Said Stewart at that time, "I can do 28 months standing on my head." A few moments earlier Stewart, with nothing but a plastic bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and her various medications, had stood before Koeltl, who had been asked by the government to sentence her to a 30-year term, effectively a death sentence for Lynne, aged 70, a diabetic and recovering breast cancer victim in less than excellent health.

Koeltl dutifully followed the lead of the Second Circuit judges, who feigned outrage that Stewart could possibly appear joyful that her life was spared despite 28 months in prison. Koeltl insisted that Stewart's remark was essentially contemptuous of his sentence and insufficient to convince Stewart of the seriousness of her "crime." Lynne's defense was that while she fully understood that 28 months behind bars, separating from her "family, friends and comrades," as she proudly stated, was a harsh penalty, she was nevertheless "relieved" that she would not die in prison. Koeltl needed a legal brick to throw at Lynne's head and ignored her humanity, honesty and deep feeling of relief when she expressed it to a crowd of two thousand friends, supporters and a good portion of the nation's media.

The same Judge Koeltl who stated in 2005, when he rendered the 28-month jail term, that Lynne was "a credit to her profession and to the nation," clearly heard the voice of institutionalized hate and cruelty and responded in according with its unstated code. "Show no mercy! Thou shall not dissent without grave punishment" in capitalist America.

Lynne was convicted in the post-911 generated climate of political hysteria. Bush appointee, Attorney General John Ashcroft, decided to make an example of her aimed at warning future attorneys that the mere act of defending anyone whom the government charged with "conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism," could trigger terrible consequences.

On July 15 Judge Koeltl made the decision of his career. Known for his meticulous preparation in such matters, and already having enraged the powers that be with his "light" sentence of Stewart, he bent full tilt to the reactionary political pressures exerted on him by the court hierarchy. He had the option to stand tall and reaffirm his original decision. The "law" allowed him to do so. He could have permitted Lynne to leave prison in less than two years, recover her health, and lead a productive life. His massively extended sentence, unless overturned, will likely lead to Lynne's demise behind bars - a brilliant and dedicated fighter sacrificed on the alter of an intolerant class-biased system of repression and war.

Courage is a rare quality in the capitalist judiciary. For every defiant decision made, usually driven by a change in the political climate and pressed forward by the rise of mass social protest movements, there are thousands and more of political appointees that affirm the status quo, including its punishment of all who struggle to challenge capitalist prerogatives and power.

Lynne Stewart stands tall among the latter. We can only hope that the winds of change that are stirring the consciousness of millions today in the context of an American capitalism in economic and moral crisis keeps the movement for her freedom alive and well. The fight is not over! What we do now remains critical. Lynne's expected appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court cannot be written off as absurd and hopeless. What we do collectively to free her and all political prisoners and to fight for freedom and justice on every front counts for everything!

Write to Lynne at:

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

For further information call Lynne's husband, Ralph Poynter, leader of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759

Send contributions payable to:

Lynne Stewart Organization
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11216


Listen to Lynne Stewart event, that took place July 8, 2010 at Judson Memorial Church
Excerpts include: Mumia Abu Jamal, Ralph Poynter, Ramsey Clark, Juanita
Young, Fred Hampton Jr., Raging Grannies, Ralph Schoenman

And check out this article (link) too!


Requesting Your Support

By Dahr Jamail
July 12th, 2010
Dear Readers:

This morning we hired a flight out to the well site where the Deepwater Horizon sank. This environmental crime scene is now littered with boats and relief wells flailing to stop the flow of oil that has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for almost 3 months. Tomorrow, we are hiring a boat to take us to some of the most devastated coastline, which is still smeared in oil, causing harm to uncountable ecosystems and wildlife.

I have been on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana for two weeks now, and together with my partner, Erika Blumenfeld, we have brought you stories and photographs that document and archive the human and environmental impact of the historic and horrific disaster that is the BP oil catastrophe.

In our story, Fending For Themselves, we wrote about the growing crisis of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe being displaced by the encroaching oil, and showed you images of their dying marshlands.

We produced an original photo essay for Truthout, Mitigating Annihilation, which clearly depicts the futility of the booming efforts, and the resulting destruction of the local and migratory bird rookeries, along with South Louisiana's fragile and endangered coastline.

Our most recent post, Hell Has Come To South Louisiana, articulates the desperate situation of the shrimpers and fisher-folk whose livelihood that spans generations is threatened by extinction.

The complexity and breadth of this continued crisis is beyond what we could have imagined, and our questions have led us to dynamic and impassioned interviews with environmental philosophers, activists, scientists, sociologists, riverkeepers, bayoukeepers, indigenous tribes, and fisher people.

As a freelance team, we could not have produced this important work without your generous support. We are deeply grateful to those who were able to contribute to our efforts thus far.

Our work here is just beginning, and with so much of our investigation requiring that we be out in the field, I am humbly appealing for your continued support to help us extend our reporting, so that we may continue to bring you the unfolding events of this devastating issue that clearly effects us all.

Please support our work in the Gulf Coast by making a donation. There are several ways you can donate:

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, International Media Project (IMP) is providing fiscal sponsorship to Dahr Jamail.

Checks for tax-deductible donations should be made out to "International Media Project." please write"Dahr Jamail" in the memo line and mail to:

International Media Project/Dahr Jamail
1714 Franklin St.
Oakland, CA 94612

Online, you can use Paypal to donate HERE.

Donations can also be mailed to:

Dahr Jamail
P.O. Box 970
Marfa, TX 79843

Direct links to our pieces produced thus far:

Living on a dying delta

Fending For Themselves

No Free Press for BP Oil Disaster

Mitigating Annihilation

Hell Has Come to South Louisiana



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


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


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.

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


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.

Write to Lynne:

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


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


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) Oil Spill's Impact on Gulf Seafood Remains Uncertain
July 13, 2010

2) Scientists Say Gulf Oil Disaster Altering Food Web
by Matthew Brown and Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by the Associated Press

3) Ship Originally Bound for Gaza Docks in Egypt
July 15, 2010

4) Project's Fate May Predict the Future of Mining
July 14, 2010

5) 'Immigrant' List Sets Off Fears
July 14, 2010

6) Records Show Doubts on '64 Vietnam Crisis
July 14, 2010

7) Sentence Is Sharply Increased for Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terror
July 15, 2010

8) Paterson Signs Bill Limiting Stop-and-Frisk Data
July 16, 2010, 11:56 am

9) From a Gulf Oyster, a Domino Effect
July 13, 2010

10) Obama Reacts Cautiously to Hopeful BP Test Results
July 16, 2010

11) Texas Remains Stoic as Spill Hits Its Shores
July 15, 2010

12) Louisiana: Man Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings
July 15, 2010

13) Why a Self-Imposed Gag Rule Is Important
July 16, 2010, 12:30 pm

14) US Rig Count Increases by 4
July 16, 2010

15) Stewart Gets a New 10-Year Prison Sentence
By Mark Hamblett

16) Despair as Job Search Drags On and Money Dries Up
July 17, 2010

17) For Kenneth Feinberg, More Delicate Diplomacy
“Mr. Feinberg knew he was facing many skeptics — and cynics — who no doubt wondered if they could get more money from the oil company, not to mention satisfaction, in the courts.”
July 16, 2010

18) For BP, Rising Pressure in Oil Well Seen as a Positive Sign
July 17, 2010

19) After Much Bad News, Wary Acceptance of Good
July 16, 2010

20) Texas Judge Reprimanded in Death Row Case
July 16, 2010

21) Arizona: Immigrant Deaths Are on Pace to Hit Record
July 16, 2010

22) After Oil Spills, Hidden Damage Can Last for Years
"In 1969, a barge hit the rocks off the coast of West Falmouth, Mass., spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Today, the fiddler crabs at nearby Wild Harbor still act drunk, moving erratically and reacting slowly to predators."
July 17, 2010

23) Changing Stance, Administration Now Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax
July 16, 2010

24) Militia With Neo-Nazi Ties Patrols Arizona Desert
[Lynne Stewart gets ten years in jail while these heavily-armed Nazis are allowed to roam the Arizona Desert with impunity!]
July 17, 2010


1) Oil Spill's Impact on Gulf Seafood Remains Uncertain
July 13, 2010

THE oil from the broken well 40 miles off the Louisiana coast keeps getting closer to the plate.

Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi earlier this month found oil droplets in the tiny blue crabs that feed much of the larger sea life in the coastal gulf waters. And in what might be worse news, at least psychologically, oil from the spill has started to creep into Lake Pontchartrain, the sacred seafood pantry of New Orleans.

The lake, on the northern edge of New Orleans, is connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a series of waterways. It's a long way from the gulf shore, and since the explosion in April optimistic local eaters have believed that the lake, and its plentiful seafood, would stay clean.

But now, no one knows how much oil might reach the lake and, on a broader level, whether increased monitoring by state and federal officials will keep the gulf seafood industry from collapsing.

"We just don't know what it means, and that's what's driving us crazy," said Ralph Brennan, whose family runs 12 restaurants, 9 of which are in New Orleans.

Customers seem to feel the same way. Owners of restaurants across the country say diners are asking regularly why gulf seafood remains on the menu. And a recent national study by the University of Minnesota found that 44 percent of the people surveyed would not eat seafood from the gulf.

Although some scientists say it is too soon to know how the oil and efforts to clean it up will impact gulf seafood, state and federal officials say more testing is going on in the gulf now than ever before. No tainted seafood has entered the market, officials say, and they maintain that extensive testing and aggressive fishery closures should keep the supply clean and, with the exception of some gulf oysters, plentiful.

Within days of the spill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Food and Drug Administration began catching seafood to look for the carcinogenic components of crude oil, and federal and state officials, who are responsible for different portions of the gulf, began closing areas to fishing.

The only contaminated fish sample to have been found so far came from an area closed to fishing, said Lisa Desfosse, director of the NOAA Fisheries Mississippi labs, who is coordinating the collection effort in the gulf.

The federal government has closed 35 percent of the gulf waters under its jurisdiction to fishing. Officials in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida have also closed hundreds of miles of water along the coast. The idea is to make the margins around the spill so wide that even areas several miles from the site are off limits.

"The main tool is that closed area, that red line," said John Stein, the head of the NOAA Deepwater Horizon oil spill seafood-safety program, who spoke with reporters in Pascagoula, Miss., last week. "No fishing inside that red line."

Although the NOAA regularly keeps a handful of vessels in the gulf pulling samples to assess seafood stocks, in the months since the spill, the agency has provided 16 boats just to sample for evidence of oil. Its laboratories in Mississippi and Seattle have processed 1,576 samples to date. That includes oysters, which can't move through oiled waters, and big fish like swordfish and tuna, which can.

Late last month, federal and state agencies responsible for keeping tainted seafood from the market announced new rules to help monitor gulf waters and determine when some areas can be reopened. Initial responsibility now falls to a panel of seven trained analysts who smell samples of seafood from the area. If three of the seven testers detect the smell of oil or other chemicals, the sample is deemed tainted and the area where it was found is closed to fishing or kept from reopening, said Christine Patrick, a NOAA spokeswoman. If there is no taint, the sample is sent to labs in Seattle for chemical analysis. Once the oil stops flowing and pressure mounts to reopen the closed areas, the panels could be called upon to test up to 100 samples a day.

It might seem a surprisingly unscientific method, but sensory testing is considered the gold standard. "The nose, believe it or not, is a sensitive organ and is capable of detecting low levels of hydrocarbons," said Joan Bowman of the International Food Protection Training Institute, a nonprofit organization financed by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. "Some people have the DNA to do it and some don't."

So far, the organization has paid for 56 special sniffers to travel to the gulf for NOAA training.

The chemicals in petroleum have been linked to cancer if eaten at high levels over time, according to the F.D.A. But since the chemicals are not believed to accumulate in the body, the F.D.A. has said that low levels are not necessarily harmful. "However, it should not be present at all," the agency said in the statement.

The F.D.A. also says there is little public health risk associated with the dispersants used during the Deepwater Horizon response because they aren't likely to accumulate in seafood and "are low in human toxicity."

Not all scientists are as convinced as federal officials are. The health effects from oil altered by the 1.8 million gallons of dispersants pumped into the gulf so far and the impact of such great quantities of oil have never been studied, said Ron Kendall, director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech and a specialist on the environmental impact of oil spills.

"At this point it is premature to declare there is no problem, and I say that as someone who just loves gulf seafood," he said.

He also thinks the smell test is inadequate and that more precise testing and analysis are required.

"Everyone is racing around to give an answer before we have really done the science," he said. "We're just at the very beginning of this thing."

Government assurances might not be enough for Americans, many of whom are quick to abandon any category of food at the first hint of trouble in any one segment of it. A few years ago, spinach disappeared from dinner plates after packaged fresh spinach from a 50-acre organic farm in California was found to be contaminated with E. coli. And although no commercial peanut butter brands sold in grocery stores were linked to a salmonella outbreak last year, sales plummeted.

The seafood industry hopes to avoid a similar collapse, but it might be too late. "It's a perception challenge at the moment," Mr. Brennan said. "We battled this after Hurricane Katrina, too. People see those images and think automatically it's over." It's far from over, say fishermen and chefs.

Seafood marketing officials from the five states that border the Gulf of Mexico are developing campaigns to let people know there are plenty of oil-free waters yet to fish in the gulf. Restaurants in New Orleans are still serving platters piled high with fried soft-shell crabs and broiled drum. And nearly 90 percent of Florida's more than 1,260 miles of coastline remains unaffected.

Chefs are trying to rally support for the people who work the waters and whose livelihoods have been destroyed by an environmental disaster that dwarfs every other oil spill in the nation's history.

"There are two stories to tell right now," said Tom Colicchio, the chef and television personality. He, along with a handful of other celebrity chefs, took a quick trip to Grand Isle, La., in late June arranged by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board and John Folse, a local chef.

"On one hand, they are telling me there are plenty of fish," Mr. Colicchio said in an interview shortly after he returned to New York. "On the other hand, you don't want to make it seem like there's nothing wrong."

He was so moved by the plight of the fishermen there that he returned to New York dedicated to serving more seafood from the gulf at his restaurants - with a caveat.

"I said, 'I will pledge to serve it if you guys make sure it's safe,' " he said. Mr. Colicchio knows he's taking a risk, but said he had confidence in the system to keep tainted fish from his walk-in refrigerators.

"It's almost self-policing," he said. "They know if tainted seafood gets to the market they're done."

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 13, 2010

An earlier version of his article misstated the number of testers needed to determine if an area was safe for fishing.


2) Scientists Say Gulf Oil Disaster Altering Food Web
by Matthew Brown and Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by the Associated Press

New Orleans - Scientists are reporting early signs that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is altering the marine food web by killing or tainting some creatures and spurring the growth of others more suited to a fouled environment.

Near the spill site, researchers have documented a massive die-off of pyrosomes - cucumber-shaped, gelatinous organisms fed on by endangered sea turtles.

Along the coast, droplets of oil are being found inside the shells of young crabs that are a mainstay in the diet of fish, turtles and shorebirds.

And at the base of the food web, tiny organisms that consume oil and gas are proliferating.

If such impacts continue, the scientists warn of a grim reshuffling of sealife that could over time cascade through the ecosystem and imperil the region's multibillion-dollar fishing industry.

Federal wildlife officials say the impacts are not irreversible, and no tainted seafood has yet been found. But Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who chairs a House committee investigating the spill, warned Tuesday that the problem is just unfolding and toxic oil could be entering seafood stocks as predators eat contaminated marine life.

"You change the base of the food web, it's going to ripple through the entire food web," said marine scientist Rob Condon, who found oil-loving bacteria off the Alabama coastline, more than 90 miles from BP's collapsed Deepwater Horizon drill rig. "Ultimately it's going to impact fishing and introduce a lot of contaminants into the food web."

The food web is the fundamental fabric of life in the Gulf. Once referred to as the food chain, the updated term reflects the cyclical nature of a process in which even the largest predator becomes a food source as it dies and decomposes.

What has emerged from research done to date are snapshots of disruption across a swath of the northern Gulf of Mexico. It stretches from the 5,000-feet deep waters at the spill site to the continental shelf off Alabama and the shallow coastal marshes of Louisiana.

Much of the spill - estimated at up to 182 million gallons of oil and around 12 billion cubic feet of natural gas - was broken into small droplets by chemical dispersants at the site of the leaking well head. That reduced the direct impact to the shoreline and kept much of the oil and natural gas suspended in the water.

But immature crabs born offshore are suspected to be bringing that oil - tucked into their shells - into coastal estuaries from Pensacola, Fla., to Galveston, Texas. Oil being carried by small organisms for long distances means the spill's effects could be wider than previously suspected, said Tulane professor Caz Taylor.

Chemical oceanographer John Kessler from Texas A&M University and geochemist David Valentine from the University of California-Santa Barbara recently spent about two weeks sampling the waters in a six-mile radius around the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig. More than 3,000 feet below the surface, they found natural gas levels have reached about 100,000 times normal, Kessler said.

Already those concentrations are pushing down oxygen levels as the gas gets broken down by bacteria, Kessler and Valentine said. When oxygen levels drop low enough, the breakdown of oil and gas grinds to a halt and most life can't be sustained.

The researchers also found dead pyrosomes covering the Gulf's surface in and around the spill site. "There were thousands of these guys dead on the surface, just a mass eradication of them," Kessler said.

Scientists said they believe the pyrosomes - six inches to a foot in length - have been killed by the toxins in the oil because there have no other explanation, though they plan further testing.

The researchers say the dead creatures probably are floating to the surface rather than sinking because they have absorbed gas bubbles as they filtered water for food.

The death of pyrosomes could set off a ripple effect. One species that could be directly affected by what is happening to the pyrosomes would be sea turtles, said Laurence Madin, a research director at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod, Mass. Some larger fish, such as tuna, may also feed on pyrosomes.

"If the pyrosomes are dying because they've got hydrocarbons in their tissues and then they're getting eaten by turtles, it's going to get into the turtles," said Madin. It was uncertain whether that would kill or sicken the turtles.

The BP spill also is altering the food web by providing vast food for bacteria that consume oil and gas, allowing them to flourish.

At the same time, the surface slick is blocking sunlight needed to sustain plant-like phytoplankton, which under normal circumstances would be at the base of the food web.

Phytoplankton are food for small bait fish such as menhaden, and a decline in those fish could reduce tuna, red snapper and other populations important to the Gulf's fishing industries, said Condon, a researcher with Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Seafood safety tests on hundreds of fish, shrimp and other marine life that could make it into the food supply so far have turned up negative for dangerous oil contamination.

Assuming the BP gusher is stopped and the cleanup successful, government and fishing industry scientists said the Gulf still could rebound to a healthy condition.

Ron Luken, chief scientist for Omega Protein, a Houston-based company that harvests menhaden to extract fish oil, says most adult fish could avoid the spill by swimming to areas untainted by crude. Young fish and other small creatures already in those clean waters could later repopulate the impacted areas.

"I don't think anybody has documented wholesale changes," said Steve Murawski, chief scientist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. "If that actually occurs, that has a potentially great ramification for life at the higher end of the food web."


3) Ship Originally Bound for Gaza Docks in Egypt
July 15, 2010

CAIRO - A Libyan ship that tried to break Israel's blockade of Gaza docked in the Egyptian port of El Arish on Thursday afternoon, amid claims by the ship's sponsor, Saif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, that the boat agreed not to go to Gaza after a deal was struck with the Israeli government that would allow Libya to send building and reconstruction supplies to the Palestinians.

In an interview with an Arabic newspaper, Al Sharq Al Awsat, Mr. Qaddafi, the son of Libya's leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said that the Israelis "agreed to let Libya spend $50 million" through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

The money, he said, would be used "to support the Palestinians and for reconstruction, including allowing construction materials and prefabricated homes," and said the aid would be dispersed "without any intervention or problem." A spokesman for the United Nations agency did not immediately comment.

According to the port director in El Arish the ship, the Amalthea, docked at about 1 p.m. and was expected to immediately begin unloading more than 1,500 tons of food and medical supplies.


4) Project's Fate May Predict the Future of Mining
July 14, 2010

BLAIR, W.Va. - Federal officials are considering whether to veto mountaintop mining above a little Appalachian valley called Pigeonroost Hollow, a step that could be a turning point for one of the country's most contentious environmental disputes.

The Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit in 2007 to blast 400 feet off the hilltops here to expose the rich coal seams, disposing of the debris in the upper reaches of six valleys, including Pigeonroost Hollow.

But the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, in a break with President George W. Bush's more coal-friendly approach, has threatened to halt or sharply scale back the project known as Spruce 1. The agency asserts that the project would irrevocably damage streams and wildlife and violate the Clean Water Act.

Because it is one of the largest mountaintop mining projects ever and because it has been hotly disputed for a dozen years, Spruce 1 is seen as a bellwether by conservation groups and the coal industry.

The fate of the project could also have national reverberations, affecting Democratic Party prospects in coal states. While extensive research and public hearings on the plan have been completed, federal officials said that their final decision would not be announced until late this year - perhaps, conveniently, after the midterm elections.

Environmental groups say that approval of the project in anything like its current form would be a betrayal.

"Spruce 1 is a test of whether the E.P.A. is going to follow through with its promises," said Bill Price, director of environmental justice with the Sierra Club in West Virginia.

"If the administration sticks to its guns," Mr. Price predicted, "mountaintop removal is going to be severely curtailed."

Coal companies say politics, not science, is threatening a practice vital to local economies and energy independence. "After years of study, with the company doing everything any agency asked, and three years after a permit was issued, the E.P.A. now wants to stop Spruce 1," said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. "It's political; the only thing that has changed is the administration."

While the government does not collect statistics on mountaintop mining, data suggest that it may account for about 10 percent of American coal output, yielding 5 percent of the nation's electricity. The method plays a bigger economic role in the two states where it is concentrated, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The proposal to strip a large area above the home of 70-year-old Jimmy Weekley, Pigeonroost Hollow's last remaining inhabitant, was first made in 1997 by Arch Coal, Inc., of St. Louis. The legal ups and downs of Spruce 1 have come to symbolize the broader battle over a method that produces inexpensive coal while drastically altering the landscape.

Spruce 1 started as the largest single proposal ever for hilltop mining, in which mountains are carved off to expose coal seams and much of the debris, often leaking toxic substances, is placed in adjacent valleys.

After years of negotiations and a scaling back of the mining area to 2,278 acres, from its original 3,113 acres, the Spruce 1 permit was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 and limited construction began. But this spring, the E.P.A. proposed halting the project.

The announcement caused an uproar in West Virginia. The E.P.A. held an emotional public hearing in May and stopped accepting written comments in June. Arch Coal has objected publicly, but did not respond to requests to comment for this article.

The Obama administration's E.P.A. has already riled the coal companies by tightening procedures for issuing new mining permits and imposing stronger stream protections. But environmental groups were worried in June, when the agency approved a curtailed mountaintop plan in another site in Logan County, W.Va. Now, as negotiations between the E.P.A. and Arch Coal continue, the Spruce 1 battle is being closely watched as a sign of mountaintop mining's future.

Feelings run high in the counties right around the project area.

"Spruce 1 is extremely important to all of southern West Virginia because if this permit is pulled back, every mine site is going to be vulnerable to having its permits pulled," said James Milan, manager of Walker Machinery in Logan, which sells gargantuan Caterpillar equipment.

The loss of jobs, Mr. Milan said, would have devastating effects on struggling communities.

Maria Gunnoe, an organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and a director of SouthWings, which organizes flights to document environmental damages, said that if Spruce 1 went forward, "it's going to mean the permanent erasure of part of our land and our legacy."

"We can't keep blowing up mountains to keep the lights on," said Ms. Gunnoe, a resident of nearby Boone County who has received death threats and travels with a 9 millimeter pistol.

Mr. Weekley, whose house is in sight of the project boundary, remembers the day in 1997 when he decided to fight it. Nearby mining under previous permits had filled his wooded valley with dust and noise.

"You couldn't see out of this hollow," he recalled. "I said, Something's got to be done or we're not going to have a community left."

He and his late wife became plaintiffs in a 1998 suit claiming that the project violated environmental laws. A ruling in their favor was overturned, setting off litigation that continues.

Mr. Weekley said that he had rejected offers of close to $2 million for his eight acres and that he had seen the population of the nearby town of Blair dwindle to 60 from 600, with most residents bought out by Arch Coal.

A rail-thin man who enjoys sitting on his porch with a dog on his lap, Mr. Weekley uttered an expletive when told that coal industry representatives, including Mr. Raney in an interview, referred to the upper tributaries filled in by mining as "ditches" that can be rebuilt. In fact, some of the streams to be filled by Spruce 1 are intermittent, while others, including Pigeonroost Creek, flow year-round.

"I caught fish in that stream as a child, using a safety pin for a hook," Mr. Weekley said. "If they get that permit, there won't be a stream here."

In documents issued in March, the E.P.A. said the project as approved would still smother seven miles of streambed.

Filling in headwaters damages the web of life downstream, from aquatic insects to salamanders to fish, and temporary channels and rebuilt streams are no substitute, the agency said. The pulverized rock can release toxic levels of selenium and other pollutants, it noted.

The effects of Spruce 1 would be added to those of 34 other past and present projects that together account for more than one-third of the area of the Spruce Fork watershed, the agency said.

The debate over Spruce 1 and other mountaintop mine permits has been a source of division and anguish among local residents.

Michael Fox, 39, of Gilbert, is a mine worker who like many other miners here thinks the objections are overblown. "I have three kids I want to send to college," Mr. Fox said.

One former mountaintop miner who says he now regrets his involvement is Charles Bella, 60. He is one of the remaining residents on Blair's main street, along the Spruce Fork, which is fed in turn by Pigeonroost Creek.

"I know it put bread on my table, but I hate destroying the mountains like that," Mr. Bella said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 15, 2010

An earlier version of this article misstated the year that Jimmy Weekley and his late wife became plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the mining project. It was 1998, not 2008.


5) 'Immigrant' List Sets Off Fears
July 14, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - A list of 1,300 Utah residents described as illegal immigrants has sown fear among some Hispanics here, and prompted an investigation into its origins and dissemination.

Each page of the list is headed with the words "Illegal Immigrants" and each entry contains details about the individuals listed - from their address and telephone number to their date of birth and, in the case of pregnant women, their due dates. The letter was received by law enforcement and media outlets on Monday and Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Gov. Gary R. Herbert said Wednesday that an investigation was under way to see if state employees might have been involved in releasing the private information.

A memorandum accompanying the list said it was from Concerned Citizens of the United States. It urged immediate deportation proceedings against the people listed, as well as publication of their names by the news media.

The memo said an earlier version of the list had been sent to federal immigration officials in April. It promised that more names would be forthcoming, and promised authorities, "We will be listening and watching."

"We are not violent, nor do we support violence," the letter said.

A spokeswoman for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that the agency had received a letter from the group, dated in early April.

The list came at a time of increased tension over illegal immigration, both in Utah and in the country, two weeks before neighboring Arizona enacts a tough new law aimed at fighting illegal immigration. The federal government has sued Arizona over the law. Here in Salt Lake City, a group of state lawmakers is drafting a bill patterned after it.

Several people on the list expressed anxiety that their personal information had been released, and said they were concerned about their safety and that of their families. Some of those on the list said the heightened pressure could force them from the country.

One Guatemalan man, who spoke only on condition that he be identified as Monzon, admitted that he was in the country illegally. He said he had tried hard to keep off lists of all sorts, essentially by being the best American he could - paying his taxes and staying out of debt.

"I have always tried to keep my record clean," he said.

But he struck a fatalistic note that might please the letter writers: "It might just be time to reflect and think if the time has come to leave," he said.

A woman who identified herself as Liset said she was from Mexico and in the United States illegally. She said that her 2-year-old son was born in the United States, but that she had filed papers to give him Mexican citizenship as well.

"If something were to happen he will go with me to Mexico," she said. She said she believed her personal information on the list came from her application for Medicaid. As for what it was like having reporters call, reading from a sheaf of papers containing large and small details about her life, she said, "I find it strange that you know so many things."

Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for Governor Herbert, a Republican, said that the release of the material was significant, but that the specificity of detail was even more troubling.

"Any release of private information of this nature, especially the depth and breadth of it, is concerning," Ms. Welling said. "The governor wants to be sure that a state agency wasn't involved, and if it was, to make sure it doesn't happen again, and to get to the bottom of who was responsible."

Improper release of information from state records is a misdemeanor. The medical information on the list, however, from the notations about pregnancies, could potentially elevate the criminal implications far beyond that, to felony charges and lengthy prison sentences, for violation of federal medical privacy laws.

Proyecto Latino de Utah, one of the most prominent immigrant advocacy organizations in the state, received many frantic calls on Wednesday. People had heard about the list, but because no major news organization has actually published its full contents, the callers mainly wanted to know one thing: Am I on it?

"Nine missed calls this morning," said Tony Yapías, the group's director, glancing at his cellphone in an interview in his office. Most of the callers, he said, were not on the list.

One woman said that not knowing what could unfold next was the worst thing. "What's going to happen?" she asked.

Mr. Yapías, the former director of the state's Office of Hispanic Affairs, said he was convinced that the list had come from the State Department of Workforce Services, an agency that combines resources for job seekers, employers and people seeking assistance like food stamps or Medicaid. The list includes information that other agencies might collect, he said, but Workforce Services' application form includes a question that other information-laden agencies like the Division of Motor Vehicles, for example, would not ever ask: "Is anyone in your home currently pregnant?"

Ms. Welling at the governor's office said that the state's Department of Technology Services was leading the investigation, looking into whether a digital trail might been left behind if state computers were used to prepare the list. She said that Workforce Services, in particular, was doing its own investigation, which she called "extensive."

She said that to her knowledge no state agency had started any investigations of individuals based on the list.

A spokesman the Department of Workforce Services, Dave Lewis, said a team of information specialists was looking for patterns - whether the computer formatting would provide clues about the document's origin or creation and whether there had been any unusual activity in people accessing that information inside the agency.

For people who found themselves named and workers in Utah's government alike, the result was a real-life version of the old childhood game of "Telephone." Information had leaked out from somewhere. Where? Was it accurate? Who had compiled it? Who now had copies of the list and where might the chain of whispers go from here? Would the leakers be found?

Dabrali Jimenez and Lillian Polanco contributed reporting from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 15, 2010

An earlier version of this article had the incorrect name for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.


6) Records Show Doubts on '64 Vietnam Crisis
July 14, 2010

WASHINGTON - In an echo of the debates over the discredited intelligence that helped make the case for the war in Iraq, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday released more than 1,100 pages of previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts that show senators of the time sharply questioning whether they had been deceived by the White House and the Pentagon over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.

"If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great," Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of the future vice president, said in March 1968 in a closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The documents are Volume 20 in a regular series of releases of historical transcripts from the committee, which conducted most of its business in executive session during the 1960s, before the Senate required committee meetings to be public. The documents were edited by Donald Ritchie, the Senate historian, and cover 1968, when members of the committee were anguished over Vietnam and in a deteriorating relationship with the Johnson White House over the war.

Historians said the transcripts, which are filled with venting by the senators about the Johnson administration and frustrations over their own ineffectiveness, added little new to the historical record. Even at the time, there was widespread skepticism about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which the North Vietnamese were said to have attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after an earlier clash.

President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the attacks to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but historians in recent years have concluded that the Aug. 4 attack never happened.

Still, the transcripts show the outrage the senators were expressing behind closed doors. "In a democracy you cannot expect the people, whose sons are being killed and who will be killed, to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them," Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, said in an executive session in February 1968.

But the senators also worried that releasing a committee staff investigation that raised doubts about the Tonkin incident would only inflame the country more. As Senator Mike Mansfield, Democrat of Montana, put it, "You will give people who are not interested in facts a chance to exploit them and to magnify them out of all proportion."

At another point, the committee's chairman, Senator William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, raised concerns that if the senators did not take a stand on the war, "We are just a useless appendix on the governmental structure."

The current chairman of the committee, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said Wednesday in an interview that the transcripts were especially revealing to him. In February 1968, when some of the most intense debates of the committee were occurring, Mr. Kerry was on a ship headed for Vietnam.

The release of documents, he said, "shows these guys wrestling with the complexity of it when our generation was living it out in a very personal way."

He continued, "You couldn't have imagined in that room of the Capitol that policy makers were agonizing over it in that way, and having that gut kind of conversation."

In the end, however, the senators did not further pursue their doubts. As Mr. Church said in one session that was focused on the staff report into the episode, if the committee came up with proof that an attack never occurred, "we have a case that will discredit the military in the United States, and discredit and quite possibly destroy the president."

He added that unless the committee had the evidence to substantiate the charges, "The big forces in this country that have most of the influence and run most of the newspapers and are oriented toward the presidency will lose no opportunity to thoroughly discredit this committee."

Robert J. Hanyok, a National Security Agency historian, said Wednesday in an interview that "there were doubts, but nobody wanted to follow up on the doubts," perhaps because "they felt they'd gone too far down the road."

Mr. Hanyok concluded in 2001 that N.S.A. officers had deliberately falsified intercepted communications in the incident to make it look like the attack on Aug. 4, 1964, had occurred, although he said they acted not out of political motives but to cover up earlier errors.

Many historians say that President Johnson might have found reason to escalate military action against North Vietnam even without the Tonkin Gulf crisis, and that he apparently had his own doubts. Historians note that a few days after the supposed attack he told George W. Ball, the under secretary of state, "Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish!"


7) Sentence Is Sharply Increased for Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terror
July 15, 2010

A federal judge on Thursday increased the sentence of Lynne F. Stewart, a disbarred lawyer convicted of assisting terrorism, to 10 years - nearly five times as long as her original sentence.

An appeals court had ordered the judge, John G. Koeltl of Federal District Court in Manhattan, to resentence Ms. Stewart after it deemed his first sentence, of 28 months, too light.

Judge Koeltl, after speaking for about 45 minutes about the considerations he had made, the legal sentencing guidelines and the facts of the case, ordered Ms. Stewart to serve 120 months.

A collective gasp went up from Ms. Stewart's supporters, who packed the broad, high-ceilinged courtroom. That was followed by a few shrieks and sobs; some held their hands over their mouths.

Ms. Stewart, in an oversize navy blue prison jumpsuit, sat silently as the sentence was announced. Afterward, when Judge Koeltl offered her an opportunity to speak, she paused for several seconds before rising.

"I'm somewhat stunned, Judge, by the swift change in my outlook," she said. "We will continue to struggle on to take all available options to do what we need to do to change this."

She added: "I feel like I let a lot of my good people down," to which people in the gallery shouted, "We love you."

The sentence was the latest grim chapter in a long odyssey for Ms. Stewart, who was convicted in 2005 of assisting terrorism by smuggling information from an imprisoned client to violent followers in Egypt.

Ms. Stewart, 70, who has breast cancer and was given time to seek treatment before her first sentencing in 2006, said Thursday that incarceration was wearing her down.

"It's a death sentence," her husband, Ralph Poynter, said outside the courtroom.

The case was closely watched in legal circles, as Ms. Stewart presented herself as a martyr for lawyers who, she said, vigorously defended terrorism suspects in the post-9/11 era.

But Andrew S. Dember, an assistant United States attorney, said in court on Thursday that Ms. Stewart's actions went beyond advocating for her client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.

"She gave aid to pro-violence factions of a violent terrorist organization," said Mr. Dember, who sought a sentence of 15 to 30 years. The defense had sought to maintain the 28-month sentence.

In ordering Judge Koeltl to sentence Ms. Stewart, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked him to weigh, among other things, the prosecution's contentions that Ms. Stewart committed perjury when she testified at her trial and had abused her position as a lawyer.

Judge Koeltl, who praised the work Ms. Stewart had done throughout her career and said he had received an unprecedented 400 letters supporting her, ruled that she had lied and abused her position.

But what seemed to weigh heavily on the judge's decision were statements Ms. Stewart made to the press after her first sentencing that she could do 28 months "standing on my head" and that she would do it all again. Those comments, the judge said, indicated "a lack of remorse" and that "the original sentence was not sufficient."

Before Judge Koeltl ruled, Ms. Stewart tried to backtrack from those statements. She said that prison was worse than she could ever have imagined. "Over the last eight months, prison has diminished me," she said. "Daily, I confront the prospect of death."


8) Paterson Signs Bill Limiting Stop-and-Frisk Data
July 16, 2010, 11:56 am

Police officials in New York City can no longer electronically store the names and addresses of people stopped in the street to be questioned but found to have done nothing wrong, under a bill Gov. David A. Paterson signed into law on Friday.

At a signing ceremony in his Manhattan offices, Mr. Paterson ended a debate over the so-called stop-and-frisk database that had been raging for months and will fundamentally alter one of the Police Department's chief crime-fighting strategies.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly have argued that the database, originally created to comply with a law passed by the City Council in 2001, was invaluable because detectives could quickly cull it for clues they needed to solve cases and make arrests.

Stripping the database of the names and addresses of those stopped would result in more crime victims, Mr. Kelly said, who met twice with the governor this month in hopes of persuading him to veto the bill.

But in the end, Mr. Paterson said, "my conscience will not let me veto this bill."

"There is a principle - which is compatible with the presumption of innocence, and is deeply ingrained in our sense of justice - that individuals wrongly accused of a crime should suffer neither stigma nor adverse consequences by virtue of an arrest or criminal accusation not resulting in conviction," Mr. Paterson said.

Mr. Paterson was joined by the sponsors of the bill - Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Eric L. Adams - who voiced their support for the governor's decision and said the issue boiled down to finding a balance between law and order and civil liberties.

"This is a tremendous victory for all fair-minded New Yorkers," Assemblyman Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat, said.

He said he believed that "reasonable efforts" to attain public safety must be "tempered by the privacy rights of law abiding people."

Mr. Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat who had served 22 years on the Police Department before being elected to the Senate, said, "We do not allow the police in our country to hold the personal information of innocent people regardless of their ethnicity. This is wrong."

Many pitched the debate forward - saying that the broader context of the department's stop-and-frisk campaign could now be examined, with officials focusing on the "quality" of the street stops.

In 2009, the police documented 581,000 stops and have recorded nearly three million stops since 2004.

It is unclear how many of the people whose information is stored in the database were not fined or arrested after being stopped.

In a letter to Mr. Kelly on Thursday, Assemblyman Jeffries asked him to provide "the total number of people whose personal information is contained in the electronic N.Y.P.D. database." He said he wanted to know how many of them had not been charged with a crime or issued a summons.

The new law applies only to the New York City Police Department, not agencies around the state. Under the law, the database would still include a record of the stop and catalog its points of data - including where and when the stop took place, the age and race of the person stopped and the reason that prompted the officer to make it.

Late on Thursday, as word circulated that Mr. Paterson would sign the bill, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expressed dismay.

"We're disappointed that police officers will be denied an important tool they have been using to solve crimes and prevent others," said the spokesman, Stu Loeser.


9) From a Gulf Oyster, a Domino Effect
July 13, 2010


In Gulf of Mexico waters deemed safe, at least for now, the two metal claws of a weather-beaten flatboat rake the muck below for those prehistoric chunks of desire, oysters. Then the captain and his two deckhands, their shirts flecked with the pewter mud of the sea, dump the dripping haul onto metal tables and begin the culling.

They hammer apart the clumps of attached oysters and toss back the empty shells and stray bits of Hurricane Katrina debris. They work quickly but carefully; a jagged oyster will slice your hand for not respecting its beautiful ugliness.

The men sweep their catch onto the boat's floor, not far from a pile of burlap sacks. Their day will be measured by the number of full sacks their boat, the Miss Allison, carries to shore. Each 100-pound sack means $14 for the captain and $3 apiece for the deckhands.

The rocklike oyster and the burlap sack. As basic as it gets in the gulf, yet both are integral to a complex system of recycling and ingenuity, a system now threatened, along with most everything else, by the continuing oil-spill catastrophe in the gulf.

The disaster's economic fallout has had a sneaky domino effect, touching the lives of everyone from the French Quarter shuckers who turn oyster-opening into theater to the Minnesota businessman who grinds the shells for chicken-feed supplement. Some victims were unaware that they were even tiles in the game, so removed were they from the damaged waters.

Take the burlap sacks on this oyster boat, for example, bearing the markings of Brazilian, Costa Rican and Mexican coffee companies. They come from a simple business, Steve's Burlap Sacks, run out of a hot warehouse in Waveland, Miss., 120 miles away. And if you were to go there today, you would find the warehouse quiet, and the work-hardened owner trying very hard to keep it together.

"I don't think the Lord's looking this way no more," he says.

Before a distant and fatal oil-rig explosion nearly three months ago, here is how the symbiotic sack-and-oyster system worked:

Coffee companies in Florida, Louisiana and Texas would unload the raw beans shipped from around the world, then sell their sacks in bulk to just about the only person who wanted them, a callused former oysterman from Louisiana named Steve Airhart.

Burlap sacks have long seemed almost divinely designed to hold oysters. Resilient, ventilated, able to handle the wet, and when past their use, they even burn well enough to keep the docks free of the pesky bugs called no-see-ums. But two decades ago, when Mr. Airhart was still raking for oysters, he could never find enough sacks.

After a friend's relative helped him get some sacks from a large coffee importer, Mr. Airhart sensed opportunity. Within a year, he was harvesting sacks rather than oysters, sorting and stacking them in his driveway and then reselling them to oyster operations. From Bayou La Batre, Ala., to Galveston, Tex., he became known as the burlap-sack guy.

He had to start all over after Hurricane Katrina, living in a tent for several months while building a new warehouse in Waveland. But soon his employees were unloading truckloads of sacks, then laying the undamaged ones into a baler, 500 to a bale, each a ragged postcard from some faraway place.

"Produce of Indonesia."

"Produce de Cote D'Ivoire."

"Cafes do Brasil."

Mr. Airhart's six employees - Ben, Clyde, Jessica, Paula, Tommy and Tyler - would work from 7 a.m. until whenever, breathing in the fine coffee dust, sweeping up the stray green beans, taking in the smell that was like wet dog, earning $13 a bale. Then a trucker would deliver the baled sacks to Misho's Oyster Company, in San Leon, Tex., or to Crystal Seas Seafood, in Pass Christian, Miss., or to Motivatit Seafoods, in Houma, La.

Motivatit is owned by two brothers, Mike and Steve Voisin, whose family has dedicated several generations to the pursuit of a living thing in a forbidding shell; a thing that poses a faint risk when consumed raw, yet evokes the wildness of the ocean.

"You're getting a real bite of the sea," Mike Voisin says.

Motivatit is one of the gulf's dominant oyster operations. Before the spill, it managed 10,000 acres of oyster beds and processed 60,000 pounds of oysters a day. But to collect these craggy surprises of nature, the company hires boats like the Miss Allison.

Several times a week, the Miss Allison pulls away from a dock near a small place called Theriot, La., bound for where porpoises sometimes provide escort. Its captain, Santos Rodriguez, sun-baked and 44, has churned these waters for 26 years, long enough to wonder whether he's raking up the same shells and bottles; long enough to measure a bag's weight by hand rather than by scale.

And yes, the captain eats oysters. Using a short knife, he pops the seal of a just-harvested oyster with safecracker élan, makes a cut, and slurps the wild goop down.

But with the oil spill forcing the shutdown of oyster beds throughout the gulf - including about 60 percent of Motivatit's acreage - he has never seen the catch so low. Yes, the price for a sack is up, but the total number of sacks is down. Normally, he and his crew will return to shore with about 60 sacks; now, a good day is 35.

His two muck-spattered deckhands, Luis Gomez, 24, and Cesar Badillo, 23, reflect the changed life, having recently moved to Houma after oyster beds elsewhere in Louisiana shut down. Mr. Gomez wears a cross around his neck, Mr. Badillo wears a burlap sack for an apron, and both wear gloves over their shell-scarred hands.

After a piece of machinery breaks, the Miss Allison turns around. By the time it reaches shore, to a dock paved with crushed oyster shells, the crew has 30 sacks filled and knotted - about $90 each for the deckhands, and about $420 for the captain, who has paid for the gas and food and must now fix the broken equipment.

Early the next morning, amid the din of the Motivatit plant in Houma, a stocky woman in a blue construction hat weighs these bags and others by hook. She then dumps their contents, which look like bits of construction debris, onto a conveyor belt to begin a process that involves tumblers, washers and dozens of employees. Wearing hairnets and aprons adorned with their first names and hand-drawn hearts, they shuck and shuck.

But because the oil spill has forced the shutdown of so many of Motivatit's oyster beds - most of them out of precaution, some of them because of the presence of oil - these workers are processing about half the normal number of oysters. "With the lower amount of product, we're having to cut most of the orders," Mike Voisin says. "We've had to minimize."

This means that Motivatit now employs about 80 workers, two dozen fewer than usual. The entire night shift has been suspended.

This means that the weekly deliveries to Los Angeles, by way of El Paso, Tucson and Phoenix, have stopped, as have the deliveries to Las Vegas, where clients prefer smaller oysters from beds that are now off limits.

This means that Warehouse Shell Sales, in Newport, Minn., may have to adjust. Several times a year, it has 1,500 tons of gulf oyster shells, including many from Motivatit, barged up the Mississippi River to be crushed and sold as poultry feed mix; chickens draw calcium from the oyster-shell bits sitting in their gizzards, hardening the shells of the eggs they produce.

But the oil spill has the shell company's owner, Gary Lund, worried about supply. He says he is now exploring other options.

Finally, this means disaster for the burlap-sack guy, Steve Airhart.

Four months ago, his hot and dusty warehouse in Waveland was humming, with loose sacks coming in and baled sacks going out: 135,000 sold in March, 139,000 in April, and the busy summer season coming up. Then it stopped.

Mr. Airhart, 49, did what he could for a few weeks, but finally he had to lay off Paula, Jessica and the others. "One of the hardest days of my life," he says. "But they knew it was coming. They heard me on the phone, begging to make sales."

Now the warehouse is mostly empty, save for the few stacks of bales no one wants, and a boat that Mr. Airhart suddenly had the time to finish. He says that BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, has paid him $20,000 so far for lost business, but that is nowhere near enough to cover the $320,000, plus sweat equity, that he has invested in the company.

The former oysterman is looking forward to sliding this boat he's built into the damaged waters. He wants to help clean up what has broken so many fragile systems.


10) Obama Reacts Cautiously to Hopeful BP Test Results
July 16, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - BP said on Friday the early test results on its recently capped undersea well were heartening and there were no signs of fresh oil leaks, as the stricken well in the Gulf of Mexico held tight overnight and into the morning.

Kent Wells, a senior vice president at BP, told reporters on a conference call that the pressure inside the well had built up steadily, as engineers had hoped it would, and that engineers would continue to perform different analyses and scour video feeds from cameras to look for any underground leaks.

In Washington, President Obama hailed the development but cautioned against concluding that the corner had been turned, noting that it was still possible for there to be complications that "could be even more catastrophic" than the original leak.

Appearing in the Rose Garden before taking off for a long weekend in Maine, Mr. Obama said he and the government were staying on top of the problem and that all decisions would be based on science, "not based on PR, not based on politics." The final solution, he noted, will be the relief wells expected to be complete next month, and then after that attention still needs to be paid to the cleanup and compensation.

"The new cap is good news," he said. "Either we will be able to use it to stop the flow or we will be able to use it to capture almost all the oil until the relief well is done." But he added: "It's important that we don't get ahead of ourselves here. One of the problems with having the camera down there is that when the oil stops gushing, everybody feels like we're done, and we're not."

Mr. Obama said he planned to go back down to the region in the next several weeks and stressed again that "BP is going to be paying for the damage that it's caused."

Mr. Wells said that BP would take steps to resume the drilling of a relief well, which officials hope will provide a permanent solution to plugging the runaway well, which has belched millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico since a fatal explosion and fire sank a drilling rig in April.

The oil stopped flowing from the well around 2:25 p.m. Thursday when the last of several valves was closed on a cap that the company installed at the top of the well last week, Mr. Wells said. Earlier in the week, Mr. Wells said that the longer the test continued, the better, because it would indicate that the pressure inside the well was holding and that the well bore was intact. On Friday morning, the live video feeds from nearly a mile undersea showed no burbling geyser of oil and gas - only cloudy blue waters and white specks floating across the screen.

The announcement that the geyser of oil streaming from the well had been stopped came after a series of failed attempts to cap or contain the runaway well that had tested the nation's patience. Mr. Wells emphasized that pressure tests were being conducted to determine the status of the well, which is now sealed like a soda bottle. BP and the government could decide to allow the oil to flow again and try to collect all of it; they could allow the oil to flow and, if tests show the well can withstand the pressure from the cap, close the well during hurricanes; or they could leave the well closed permanently.

The last option seems unlikely, but whatever the decision, the cap is an interim measure until a relief well can plug the leak for good.

"I am very pleased that there's no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico," Mr. Wells said on Thursday after the test began, "but we just started the test and I don't want to create a false sense of excitement."

That was not much of a risk along the Gulf Coast, where countless livelihoods have been put in jeopardy and fishermen frequently and gloomily remark that Prince William Sound has never been the same since the Exxon Valdez disaster.

"It's like putting a Band-Aid on a dead man in my opinion," said Jeff Ussury, 48, who considers his days as a crabber over for good. He doubted the news of the capping was even true.

"I started out kind of believing in them," he said, "but I don't believe in them at all anymore."

Whether it was just the eye of the hurricane or the morning after the storm, the moment was a time to take stock of just how much damage had already been done since the deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on the night of April 20.

For weeks, the BP spill camera - which along with terms like "top kill," "containment dome" and "junk shot" made up a growing list of phrases that many people wish they had never learned - had shown a horrible chocolate plume of oil pouring upward from the broken blowout preventer, a symbol of government and corporate impotence. The plume has been a constant presence in the corner of TV screens, mocking reassurances from officials on the news programs who describe the latest attempt to stop the gushing.

Though the exact amount of the oil that has poured out of the well may never be known, it was suddenly and for the first time a fixed amount. The disaster was, for a little while at least, finite.

At the White House, President Obama called the development a "positive sign," though he cautioned that the operation was still in the testing phase.

In statements, Louisiana officials, including Gov. Bobby Jindal, said they were "cautiously optimistic."

Officials at all levels played down expectations. Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is coordinating the spill response, told reporters on Thursday that the cap was primarily meant to be used to shut the well during extreme weather.

"The intention of the capping stack was never to close in the well per se," he said. "It creates the opportunity if we have the right pressure readings to shut in the well. It allows us to abandon the site if there is a hurricane."

He said that after the test, the cap would be used to capture oil through surface ships - two that are on the site now and two more that will be in operation in a week or two. With all four collection ships in place, BP could capture all of the oil, estimated at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day.

Mr. Wells cautioned that the test could take 48 hours or more, as scientists study pressure readings from the cap. If pressure rises and holds, that would be a sign that the casing - the 13,000-foot string of pipe that lines the well bore - is undamaged.

But if the pressure stays low or falls, that would suggest the well is damaged. In that case, Mr. Wells said, the test probably would be stopped well ahead of schedule, valves would be reopened and collection systems that had been shut down for the test would start again.

"Depending on what the test shows us, we may need to open this well back up," he said.

The test had been delayed by about two days, first when the government ordered a last-minute review of the procedure out of concern that, by allowing the buildup of pressure, the test itself might harm the well. A particular fear, experts said, was that it might cause a shallow blowout - damaging the well lining close to the seabed, which could allow oil and gas to escape into the gulf outside the well, making the spill worse.

By Wednesday afternoon, those concerns had been allayed and preparations were made to begin the test. But late that night, a hydraulic leak was discovered in part of the choke valve equipment, and the test was scrubbed.

Thursday afternoon the test began again, first with the shutting down of pipes that funneled oil and gas to two surface ships.

In even the most optimistic case, the BP oil spill is far, far from over.

There are still millions of barrels of oil out in the gulf and months of work missing for fishermen and shrimpers; inestimable harm is still being inflicted on wildlife throughout the food chain; and anger still seethes along the Gulf coast.

"What's to celebrate?" asked Kindra Arnesen, the wife of a shrimper from Plaquemines Parish, La., who has become a recognizable voice of outrage over the past two and a half months.

"My way of life's over, they've destroyed everything I know and love," she said, before going on to explain, in detail, why she believes the pressure tests are likely to fail.

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington and Liz Robbins from New York.


11) Texas Remains Stoic as Spill Hits Its Shores
July 15, 2010

GALVESTON, Tex. - The crayons and paper were out, but not too many children made it to family day at the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum.

Granted, the exhibits of pipelines and seismic vessels may have been over the heads of many grade-schoolers. And despite a few cheerful displays about marine life around rigs and all the bounty that oil helps provide - including Barbie dolls and cellphones - the message of the museum is that offshore drilling is complicated and potentially risky, a big business overseen by grave-looking men whose mostly unsmiling faces line the Hall of Fame.

This island city, a tourist destination surrounded by drill operations and refineries, is being reminded anew about those risks, now that oil and other mysterious substances have been washing up on the shores - the first time the impact of the oil spill has touched Texas.

The mayor, Joe Jaworski, began a whirlwind of promotional events and appearances, canvassing beaches and creating a video to remind people that it was still business as usual in town.

"O.K., so tar balls have washed up, and I think we'd all agree, it's not a disaster, it's a nuisance," Mr. Jaworski said in an interview, after doing a radio broadcast with a visiting Houston D.J. from the lobby of one of Galveston's largest resorts.

"This thing put everyone on alarm," he said. "We're dealing with it in the best way we can."

For weeks, officials in Texas have expressed sympathy for those hit hard by oil contamination in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana without having to confront how it would effect their shores. Now the arrival of the spill - albeit in small amounts - has demanded a reaction that puts a twist on the complicated and lucrative relationship Texans have with big oil companies.

Will we "continue this perpetual cycle of disaster - is that what we're going to do? - frustration, the blame game?" Gov. Rick Perry asked in a speech on July 6, two days after the tar balls were discovered in Galveston. He announced the formation of the Gulf Project, a research group that monitors the offshore industry, adding: "Frankly, we don't have time to waste."

But he also called on the industry for support, noting its "professional insight and much-needed funding."

Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Governor Perry, said the state was taking "aggressive steps" to deal with the spill. "Now that the oil has reached our shores, we expect both BP and the federal government to treat Texas the same as other states that have been impacted by this disaster," she said.

Keeping tourism afloat is crucial for Galveston, which is still recovering from the devastating impact of Hurricane Ike in 2008. In the aftermath, 10,000 of the city's 60,000 residents permanently fled. Many who stayed are still awaiting federal money to rebuild. Tourist shops offer books documenting "The Storm" and businesses have signs pointing to the high-water mark. Some reopened barely a year ago.

"This is not what I needed this summer," said Cheryl Jenkines, the manager of her family's antiques and accessories shop, Hendley Market, a downtown fixture for 30 years. She began to cry. After Ike, she explained, her store was flooded with 10 feet of water; she was knee-deep in mud during the cleanup. The store reopened in May 2009, but only for three days a week and at a third of its original size.

Coupled with the economic slump, Ms. Jenkines, 51, worried that any negative attention from the oil spill would torpedo her business. "There are a lot of sleepless nights," she said.

Some are hoping to get BP to help ease the financial strain.

Katie's Seafood Market is a sliver of a shop that sits dockside in the shadow of the oil rig museum. Three of its boats are still working the gulf, 150 miles out, picking up tilapia for the fish tacos in Galveston's cafes and red snapper to supply the East Coast.

But Keith Guindon, the owner of Katie's Seafood Market and treasurer of a trade group, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, said he was preparing to file a claim with BP for lost income. "I'd be foolish not to be nervous," Mr. Guindon, 54, said. "Just the perception can really hurt things now."

Last week, a representative from BP came to the Galveston City Council meeting. "He seemed like a credible fellow," Mayor Jaworski said. "He came right up and listened to us and said he would help us pay for public relations." A spokeswoman for BP said no deal had been reached yet.

Others are shrugging off the news about the beaches, which have seen oil many times before. In the 1970s and '80s, slicks and tar balls were such a common sight on the beach that owners of vacation houses stocked their patios with baby oil and WD-40 for guests to clean off with, and regular visitors kept a separate pair of "tar sandals."

Teresa Sauer came to the beach from nearby Santa Fe, Tex., with her sister, Melisa Packard, and five children between them. "It's been on the news and we decided to get up and come today, just to have a little fun in the sun," Ms. Sauer said. "I don't think it's harmful to have a few tar balls. I think it's normal, with all the ships coming through."

She added: "I'm alert, but I'm not alarmed."

Galveston's tangled relationship with the energy industry - and with BP in particular - is made thornier by the explosion at the company's refinery in neighboring Texas City in 2005, which killed 15 workers and injured more than 170.

Alongside accounts of the oil washing up, The Galveston County Daily News carried articles about a $3.4 million grant BP was about to give a local school system as a penalty payout.

"I think people generally are very concerned with BP's safety record, and that's no big secret," Mayor Jaworski said, though he added that there was still a "loyalty" to the energy industry among his constituents.

Ted Williams, 58, a construction worker who lives in Texas City, watched a stretch of the Galveston beach cleaned of plants covered in oily goo. He said he believed that BP executives should be jailed. "The message would be, 'You can't cut corners,' " he said.

But others were more forgiving of a company that has poured money into the local economy.

S. C. Inman III, 64, an owner of five businesses in Galveston, including a surf camp and restaurants, praised BP's contributions to the community. A team from the oil giant always participates in his cook-offs. "They're a good neighbor," he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 16, 2010

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Katie's Seafood Market caught tilapia. It sells the fish, but does not catch it themselves.


12) Louisiana: Man Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings
July 15, 2010

A white man accused of shooting three black men in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was charged on Thursday with a federal hate crime. The man, Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., 47, is accused of firing a shotgun at men he suspected of being potential looters, seriously wounding them. According to a five-count indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors, he warned another black resident that he would shoot at "anything coming up this street darker than a paper bag" and displayed a victim's bloodied baseball cap. The shooting occurred in the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans in September 2005, three days after Katrina struck Louisiana, leaving armed groups of citizens to protect their homes against looting. If convicted, Mr. Bourgeois, who now lives in Mississippi, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.


13) Why a Self-Imposed Gag Rule Is Important
July 16, 2010, 12:30 pm

So that's why they tell their clients not to talk to us.

Part of the ritual in covering courts as a reporter is going to lawyers after their clients are accused of something and getting the token "No comment" or "We intend to vigorously dispute these charges" or, in the lucky few cases, a detailed explanation of their client's position. Almost never does the lawyer offer up the client to speak.

After Lynne F. Stewart, a disbarred lawyer convicted in 2005 of assisting terrorism, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday, it became somewhat clearer why many lawyers advise their clients to keep their mouths shut.

Ms. Stewart was charged with smuggling information from an imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to his violent followers in Egypt. The judge, John G. Koeltl of Federal District Court in Manhattan, was forced to resentence Ms. Stewart after an appeals court ruled that his initial sentence of 28 months was too light.

Among the reasons Judge Koeltl gave for his new sentence were comments Ms. Stewart made to the media after she was sentenced the first time in 2006.

Ms. Stewart said that she could do 28 months "standing on my head" and that she would not take back the actions that led to her conviction. Those comments, the judge said in court Thursday, indicated "a lack of remorse" and that "the original sentence was not sufficient."


"You invite the law of unintended consequences" by speaking to the media, said Andrew M. Lankler, a defense lawyer.

Mr. Lankler generally refuses to comment for reporters - except to explain to Courthouse Confidential his take on dealing with the media.

"There are three occasions where people speak to the media," Mr. Lankler said. "The first is, you didn't do it, your client didn't do it, and it's important for the world to know your client didn't do it.

"The other time you talk to the media is when you totally did it - there's no ifs, ands or buts. You might as well get out ahead of it and try to poison the jury pool as fast as possible.

"Every other reason, in my opinion, it's a mistake because you don't know how it's going to spin."

What is particularly striking about Ms. Stewart's media blunder is that it came at a moment when one would think would be the safest to open up - after your punishment is handed down.

Ms. Stewart was convicted of assisting terrorism by smuggling information from an imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to his violent followers in Egypt. Judge Koeltl was forced to resentence Ms. Stewart after an appeals court ruled that his initial sentence of 28 months was too light.

"There is a lesson: Don't speak to the media until it's really over," said Daniel S. Parker, a defense lawyer. "In this case it wasn't over enough."

Before becoming a lawyer, Mr. Parker dabbled in journalism as the editor of his college newspaper and a brief stint as a stringer for The New York Times. Talking to the press can lead to mixed results, Mr. Parker said. In Ms. Stewart's case, he said he believed that her comments after receiving a lenient sentence seemed to indicate she had "lost her perspective."

"Clients can be their own worst enemies," he said. "Other times clients can be their most effective advocates."

Gerald L. Shargel, a defense lawyer who also teaches at Brooklyn Law School, said he believed that Ms. Stewart's remarks were taken the wrong way. Mr. Shargel said Ms. Stewart spoke to one of his classes and he believed she really did have remorse.

"I think she didn't want to show that she was crumbling or crying or anything else," he said. "She made some statement of bravado, which I think was more bravado than real."

The comment probably did not really influence the judge, Mr. Shargel, and were probably just "a hook to hang on."


14) US Rig Count Increases by 4
July 16, 2010

Filed at 1:45 p.m. ET

HOUSTON (AP) -- The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by four this week to 1,571.

Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 979 rigs were exploring for natural gas and 580 for oil. Twelve were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 920.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma gained five, Colorado gained three and North Dakota gained one. California, Pennsylvania and New Mexico each gained two. Texas lost five, Alaska lost four and Arkansas and Wyoming each lost two. Louisiana and West Virginia remained unchanged.

The rig count tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and set a record low of 488 in 1999.

Baker Hughes is based in Houston.


15) Stewart Gets a New 10-Year Prison Sentence
By Mark Hamblett

A stunned Lynne Stewart was resentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday, in part because she crowed that she could handle the initial 28-month sentence ordered by Southern District Judge John Koeltl in 2006 "standing on my head."

Judge Koeltl, instructed by an appeals court to reconsider sentencing enhancements for terrorism, perjury and abuse of her position of trust as a lawyer, did just that as he ordered a longer term for the 70-year-old former defense lawyer for providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy.

But Judge Koeltl also said post-sentencing comments by Ms. Stewart in 2006, including a statement in a television interview that she would do "it" again and would not "do anything differently" influenced his decision to give a higher sentence than the one rejected as too light last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The comments, Judge Koeltl said yesterday, indicated the original sentence "was not sufficient" to reflect the goals of sentencing guidelines.

The announcement of the 10-year sentence drew gasps of disbelief from Ms. Stewart's supporters who had packed the courtroom at 500 Pearl Street.

Ms. Stewart was convicted in 2005 of providing material support by passing messages to and from her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to his followers in the U.S.-designated terror organization, the Islamic Group.

She did so, principally, by broadcasting the sheik's withdrawal of support for a ceasefire on terror attacks by the Islamic Group in Egypt-a violation of her repeated promises to abide by special administrative measures imposed to keep the sheik walled-off from his supporters.

Ms. Stewart's conviction was upheld in November by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which also revoked her bail and ordered that she begin her prison term. The circuit directed Judge Koeltl to review the 28-month sentence.

Ms. Stewart went in to the re-sentencing wearing prison blues, knowing that she had to address the comments she made outside the courthouse after being sentenced in 2006-and she did so head on after entering Judge Koeltl's courtroom and smiling at a standing ovation by family, friends and supporters.

"I have learned that no one, but particularly this 70-year-old woman, can do 28 months standing on their head," Ms. Stewart told Judge Koeltl. "I was wrong."

Ms. Stewart, who has been treated for breast cancer and is still taking chemotherapy medication, described the desolation of her life at the Metropolitan Correctional Center and told Judge Koeltl, "You gave me the promise of a future" with the 28-month sentence.

She talked about how her personality was "slipping away" and held back sobs and she described her visits with her grandson and other family members.

Ms. Stewart then addressed her comment to the television interviewer that she would do "it" again, saying she meant only that she would represent the sheik with compassion.

As to whether she would do anything differently, Ms. Stewart conceded she would-she would have challenged the special administrative measures directly in court "at the first government rumblings of disapproval."

Ms. Stewart was accompanied at the resentencing by attorney Jill Shellow, who also was co-trial counsel for Ms. Stewart. Ms. Shellow argued for re-imposition of the original sentence while Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember sought 15 to 30 years.

Ms. Stewart's initial attorney for the appeal, Josh Dratel, withdrew in February. That left Elizabeth Fink, who once shared a law office on lower Broadway with Ms. Stewart, to argue the re-sentencing ordered by the Second Circuit. But Ms. Fink quit in a letter to Judge Koeltl on July 11, citing the "total breakdown in trust and communication between Ms. Stewart and me."

Sitting behind Ms. Stewart at the hearing were her lead trial attorney Michael Tigar, and former Rahman lawyer and U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, as well as lawyers for her co-defendants, Ahmed Sattar, and interpreter Mohamed Yousry, who were both convicted with her in 2005 and sentenced to prison.

Mr. Dember aggressively reviewed the link from the sheik through Ms. Stewart to Islamic Group, telling the judge, "Ms Stewart gave aid to the pro-violence faction of a vicious terrorist organization and to one of its leaders."

"The most compelling factor, the one that should outweigh all the others, is that she provided material support to a conspiracy to commit murder," he said.

Mitigating Factors

The maximum Ms. Stewart could have received was 30 years, but Judge Koeltl, as he did in 2006, considered several factors in mitigation, including Ms. Stewart's age and health, her career of representing the poor and unpopular and the unlikely chance she would commit another crime.

But Judge Koeltl clearly got the message from the Second Circuit and the mitigating factors did not carry the same weight the second time around. Judge Koeltl found that Ms. Stewart had committed perjury when she testified at trial that she thought there was a "bubble" within the special administrative measures that shielded her attorney-client relationship and allowed her to issue the press release on the ceasefire and take other actions during prison visits to the sheik with Mr. Yousry.

In sentencing her to 10 years, he also recommended that she be placed in the federal facility in Danbury, Ct., to be closer to her family.

Ms. Stewart was given a chance to speak again at the end of the hearing.

"I'm somewhat stunned," she said. "We will continue to struggle on and take all available options to do what we can do to change this. I just feel I let a whole lot of my good people down."


16) Despair as Job Search Drags On and Money Dries Up
July 17, 2010

CARLISLE, Ky. — In her well-thumbed, leather-bound Bible, Terri Sadler recently highlighted in bright pink a passage in the Gospel of Matthew.

In it, Jesus urges his followers not to “worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

But Ms. Sadler’s tightening throat and halting breath when she tries to read the words aloud make it clear that she is having trouble mustering enough faith to follow them.

Ms. Sadler, who lost her job at an automotive parts plant in October 2008, learned last month that her unemployment insurance had been cut off. She is one of an estimated 2.1 million Americans whose benefits have expired and who are waiting for an end to an impasse that has lasted months in the Senate over extending the payments once more to the long-term unemployed.

Times have changed politically, however, and opposition is growing in Washington and abroad to deficit-bloating government spending, even for those who are hurting.

For Ms. Sadler, and many like her, each passing day has become an excruciating countdown of debts and deadlines.

“I’m basically applying for everything, trying to get something,” said Ms. Sadler, 52, who since early June has not received an unemployment check, which used to be about $388 a week before taxes. “If I don’t, I’m going to lose everything. I’m not going to have a roof over my head. I’m just going to have to walk away with what I have on my back, and my dog.”

She is down to $44 in her purse and a quarter-tank of gas. She says she has exhausted the help of family and friends.

Members of her tiny Baptist church just up the road from her cramped mobile home pooled their money on Sunday to come up with her car payment and insurance. A county ministerial association paid her water bill. A nonprofit organization covered her last two electric bills.

A notepad on her refrigerator lists the other outstanding bills: $102 cellphone, $79 cable and Internet, which she relies on for job-hunting; $15 for her credit card; and $30 for an end table she had bought on layaway. Not listed was $275 for her rent this month, which she still owes.

Every morning, after Ms. Sadler takes her dog out and turns on the coffee maker, she switches on the television to C-Span. Then she cracks open her laptop to resume a job hunt that has become frantic.

But as she has run low on money, her search has also become increasingly circumscribed. She used to drive to drop off résumés with businesses; now she is mostly limited to scanning online listings.

Ms. Sadler eagerly tuned in to C-Span last Monday, mistakenly believing that Senate Democrats returning from recess would quickly take up the unemployment insurance extension. But they remain a vote short of being able to block a Republican filibuster, forcing them to wait for Carte Goodwin, the successor to Senator Robert C. Byrd, who died last month, to be sworn in. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said the vote on an extension would occur on Tuesday.

The measure is now expected to pass, but advocates for unemployment insurance are hardly declaring victory yet. Fears about the country’s skyrocketing deficit, which are at the heart of Republican objections, have gained growing prevalence, even with moderate Democrats. Economic arguments that additional government spending is needed to spur the economy have been swamped.

Some Republican politicians have argued that continuing to extend unemployment benefits offers a disincentive for the jobless to find work. Supporters of unemployment insurance counter that job openings remain in short supply.

Ms. Sadler estimates that she used to spend six hours a day searching for work; now it is at least double amount of time.

“There’s been times I’ve had to make myself stop looking for jobs because it was driving me nuts,” said Ms. Sadler, who admitted that she had contemplated suicide.

Every day has become a tense scramble, highlighting just how thin the governmental safety net for the jobless becomes beyond unemployment benefits. After Ms. Sadler was cut off from jobless benefits, she qualified for $200 a month in food stamps, but food stamps do not pay her bills, nor do they cover other necessities.

She recently wrote to Tom’s of Maine, because she uses the company’s toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant, asking whether it might be able to donate some products to her. But she was informed that the company usually gives only to nonprofit organizations.

Ms. Sadler lives alone here in this small town in the northern part of the state, where Amish are sometimes spotted heading down the main road with horse and buggy. She has only her 2-year-old dog, Tootie-muffin, for company.

Before she lost her job, she had enrolled in community college to study medical billing and coding. She finished the program in May, but most of the medical billing jobs she has applied for require experience. The framed certificate, and another one for data entry, on her bedroom wall are just decorations at this point.

How she landed in this predicament is a product of both mistakes she made and forces beyond her control. She dropped out of high school and had her daughter, Chastity, at age 15. She started working in factories soon after and eventually earned her G.E.D. She had managed to scratch out a relatively comfortable life before she lost her job, making $14.65 an hour at Vuteq, in Georgetown, Ky., a company that makes sun roofs and windshields for Toyota.

But she never accumulated much savings, besides $3,000 she had socked away in a 401(k) account, which she quickly ran through. She has always had a thing for Ford Mustangs and bought a used red one in 2006 that she now admits was a bad decision.

She filed for bankruptcy in March 2009 and was allowed to keep her car on a reduced payment schedule, but she was barred from selling it.

After moving several times, she finally found her mobile home here, with cheap green siding and outdated wood paneling, at a monthly rent she could afford on unemployment insurance.

She had used up 79 weeks of benefits but was expecting an additional 20 weeks under the extended federal program.

On Tuesday, Ms. Sadler scored just her third interview since 2008, for a $7.50-an-hour job at a check-cashing business that is an hour’s drive from her home. It would have paid less than she received on unemployment benefits and left her still unable to cover her expenses, but she had little choice.

It took all her willpower not to reach across the table to shake her interviewer and beg for a chance. The company said she would know by Thursday, but as of Friday she had not heard back.


17) For Kenneth Feinberg, More Delicate Diplomacy
“Mr. Feinberg knew he was facing many skeptics — and cynics — who no doubt wondered if they could get more money from the oil company, not to mention satisfaction, in the courts.”
July 16, 2010

NEW ORLEANS — Kenneth R. Feinberg, hopping in and out a Learjet, a helicopter and several S.U.V.s, took his gift for oratory to four towns in southern Louisiana on Thursday to make his pitch to locals: The $20 billion fund from BP to compensate those harmed by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and they should get their share.

Even with that kind of bankroll to pay claims, he was playing the role of salesman and politician.

“This program I am running is absolutely voluntary — nobody has to do it,” he said at one stop. “It’s my opinion you are crazy if you don’t participate.”

Mr. Feinberg knew he was facing many skeptics — and cynics — who no doubt wondered if they could get more money from the oil company, not to mention satisfaction, in the courts. He acknowledged the doubters, noting that they were being asked to sign up for “a program that’s never been tried, never been tested and that they view with some skepticism.”

But Mr. Feinberg has brought people to the table many times before, including the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, Vietnam veterans injured by the herbicide Agent Orange and women harmed by the defective Dalkon Shield birth control device.

Such high-stakes mediation involves powerful, conflicting forces. In this case, BP hopes to settle disputes with money from the fund with as many people as it can to minimize the question of liability hanging over the company.

Federal officials hope they choose that route, too, because that will ensure that BP can keep paying its obligations. Courtroom litigation raises uncertainty — about the ultimate cost for BP, and for the victims who choose to fight in courts.

Despite his 64 years, Mr. Feinberg shows no sign of slowing down as he cajoles people to steer clear of the courts. His campaign stops are high-energy affairs. He jabs the air, punches up words to drive home a point and gets laughs with self-deprecating references to his Boston accent.

“It’s a campaign,” he said. “It’s a road show. It’s a seminar.”

And it is a long day.

Flying on a private jet paid for by BP, Mr. Feinberg arrived in New Orleans early, though it was already his second stop of the day, after a 7 a.m. visit with Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama.

At the Jefferson Parish Council chambers in Harahan, he told a crowd of civic leaders and business people that he was there because his years of experience in administering compensation funds taught him a lesson.

“You cannot do this from Washington,” he said. “You’ve got to be down here in the gulf.”

He assured them that while he was approved by the president and is spending BP’s money, “I am not beholden to the Obama administration, I am not beholden to BP — I am an independent administrator, calling the shots as I see them.”

He described the two-part claims process. It begins with the relatively easy process of getting emergency payments, available without obligation to eligible claimants who can prove their losses, up to six months’ worth of damages at a time. (BP has paid out more than $200 million from 36 claims offices to more than 32,000 claimants so far.)

Then, 90 days after the well is finally plugged, comes the tougher phase of the three-year program: negotiating with each claimant for the lump sum to cover economic losses from the spill. Those who accept the payment will have to sign a waiver stating that they will not sue BP.

“If you think the lump sum payment is inadequate, don’t sign,” he said, adding that the litigation route in court will mean uncertainty, years of delay and a big cut for the lawyers. “I am determined to come up with a system that will be more generous, more beneficial, than if you go and file a lawsuit.”

His message is blunt, but he wins many people over. Rather than saying “cheese” when he posed for a photo with four police officers, he said, “Everybody file a claim?”

Later that morning, in Houma, he faced an audience of oil rig workers and commercial fishermen. He acknowledged that many people run an all-cash business, explaining that his standards of proof, especially for emergency payments, were not crushing. “Show me a tax return,” he said in mock dialogue, and drawled in response, “Well, I lost it,” which elicited knowing laughs.

Mr. Feinberg said he could get to yes. “Do you have a profit and loss statement? Do you have a checkbook? Check stubs?” he said. “No? Well, then, tell the captain of the boat, or your priest, to vouch for you.”

During the Q. and A., Wade Bonvillain, who has a soft-shell crab business, claimed angrily that the gulf would be dead for 30 years. “Is BP or the government going to come eat those crabs?” he asked.

“I don’t know if I’m going to eat the crab or not,” Mr. Feinberg said, and then outlined the process that would be used for estimating and negotiating for lost revenue into the future.

Mr. Bonvillain, wearing a black T-shirt with images of the wrestler John Cena and the words “Hustle-Loyalty-Respect,” stalked out of the hall. Outside, he declared that he would not join the fund, which he called “selling yourself out cheap.”

Back inside, Jerri G. Smitko, a local lawyer, held a sign reading “BP — A Bayou Degradable Company.” She said she would urge her clients to join the fund for the relative certainty of a payment. “It would be silly not to go through the process,” she said.

The crowd was ethnically mixed, with Cajuns, African-Americans and Vietnamese in the church social hall, with its large crucifix and electronic bingo board.

After the talk, Joseph Buras complained that documenting income would be unfair because the last two years have been cruel to shrimpers, with low prices and high costs.

Mr. Feinberg replied, “If business was bad before the spill, I’m not a magician. I can’t change that. At some point I have to say, ‘Don’t blame the spill — life’s unfair!’ ”

At the Lafitte civic center stop in late afternoon, a woman waved a sheaf of receipts at him to claim that this was going to be a bountiful year for shrimping, so reimbursement should be higher than might be judged from the previous two disappointing years.

“Don’t give it to me now,” Mr. Feinberg answered, adding that they needed to prove it at the claims office. “You can’t go in and say, ‘Trust me.’ ”

That evening, at the New Orleans airport, Mr. Feinberg slumped in an armchair, his blue suit wrinkled, his shirt soaked through, and reflected on his latest challenge.

BP approached him in June about the fund, which was fast becoming a matter of contention as complaints about delays piled up. The White House approached him, too.

While he ran the 9/11 fund without charge, he is getting paid for this work, though he declined to say how much.

The job is only for those who can deal with the pain of others. After 9/11, a firefighter’s widow once told him, “I spit on your children,” he recalled. “You can’t let it get to you.”

Emotions run high across the gulf, with people seeing their way of life disappearing. “If you’re not willing to go into the lion’s den and confront the emotion and the hurt, you shouldn’t do it,” he said.

The plan has come under attack from some public officials, who argue that the three-year program for the fund ignores the potential long-term effects from the spill.

“This is going to go on for three, five, 10 years after the spill is stopped,” the Mississippi attorney general, Jim Hood, told The Mobile Register this week. Mr. Feinberg “can’t treat it like 9/11,” which, he said, for all of its horror, took place on a single day.

Mr. Feinberg said he would work with experts to project the long-term effects. Most people, he knows from experience, will accept the lump-sum payment once it is offered.

“The question is, is the payment sufficient” to account for damages into the future, he said. “Am I offering the right amount?”

He finished a cup of coffee and got up to go. He had a dinner meeting, and the next day was flying off to do it all again in Mississippi.


18) For BP, Rising Pressure in Oil Well Seen as a Positive Sign
July 17, 2010

As the Gulf of Mexico entered a third day free of fresh oil from BP’s blown-out well, a company official said Saturday that there were still no signs of damage in the 13,000-foot-deep hole.

“We’re very encouraged at this point,” said Kent Wells, a senior vice president of BP. He said that a test to assess the condition of the well was continuing, and that any decision to end it would be made by Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who commands the spill response.

“The longer the test goes, the more confidence we have in it,” Mr. Wells said. “But we don’t want to jump ahead of the process we’ve laid out. Admiral Allen is the ultimate decision maker.”

The test began on Thursday afternoon with the closing of valves on a new, tighter-sealing cap atop the well and was expected to last at least 48 hours. With the valves closed, oil stopped gushing into the gulf for the first time since the disaster began with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20.

The test will help determine whether the well can remain shut off or whether it must be reopened and containment systems restarted.

Two vessels that had been collecting oil through pipes at the well head are on standby, Mr. Wells said, and a third, the Discoverer Enterprise, could be brought in quickly with a device to funnel oil from the top of the cap.

With three containment systems working, Mr. Wells said, “We could very well be collecting all the flow at that point.” The flow rate is estimated at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day.

But in reopening the well, engineers would have to let oil gush into the water for a relatively short time to reduce pressure as the containment systems started.

Whatever decisions are made after the test, officials say work on a relief well would continue. It is considered the ultimate solution because it would permanently plug the runaway well.

On Friday, Admiral Allen said that the test results were ambiguous, and that the possibility remained that the well had been breached and that oil and gas were escaping into the surrounding rock and even into the gulf.

But Mr. Wells said on Saturday that there were still no signs of any leakage into the rock formation or up through the seabed into the water. “There’s no evidence that we don’t have integrity,” he said.

He said scientists were “not at all surprised” that pressure readings, while higher than had been forecast if the well was badly damaged, were lower than had been expected if the well was intact. One explanation could be that the reservoir of oil had been depleted by the gushing well, he said.

Mr. Wells said pressure in the well was still slowly rising, which he said was a good sign. Temperature readings showed that the well had cooled off; if oil was still flowing out through a leak, temperatures would be expected to be higher.

Scientists were reviewing data from seismic and sonar surveys as well, which could show if oil was leaking into shallow rock formations. And two remotely operated submersibles had video cameras trained on the seabed.

Video showed occasional small gas bubbles emerging from a valve on the topmost section of casing pipe, which starts at the seabed and is three feet in diameter. Mr. Wells said that instruments would sample the gas as a precaution, but he said that such bubbles were commonly seen coming from subsea wells.

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington, and Rogene Fisher Jacquette and Liz Robbins from New York.


19) After Much Bad News, Wary Acceptance of Good
July 16, 2010

Percy Baulden, a New Orleans firefighter, says that about a month ago he found himself coming down with an ailment that he has named “oil well fatigue.” The symptoms included a feeling of hopelessness and chronic irritation at the mention of “BP,” “Deepwater Horizon” and any combination of the usually innocuous terms “spill,” “containment” and “cap.”

So it would come as no surprise that Mr. Baulden reacted with skepticism and a shrug when he heard on local talk radio Thursday that BP had capped its runaway well, which had been spewing unabated in the Gulf of Mexico since an explosion on April 20.

“I’m tired of hearing about it, to be honest,” he said. “When they say ‘capped,’ does that mean ‘capped’?”

It took a day or so for Mr. Baulden, 29, to accept that what sounded like good news might actually be good news. “Now that I’m seeing more reports of it being stopped, I’m starting to believe it.”

Mr. Baulden was not alone in his delayed reaction. For many, the oil spill saga has been an incredibly long 87-day journey marked most memorably by dashed hopes (remember the “top hat” and the “junk shot”?), false claims (BP initially estimated that the well was leaking only 5,000 barrels a day), and generally diminished expectations all around.

Indeed, as early tests on Friday confirmed that there was no sign of fresh oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon rig, a sort of tentative acceptance began to take hold in New Orleans, and also across the country, that a new and more positive phase of the oil well fiasco might have begun.

“After the gulf is clean and the pelicans and wildlife are safe and the oysters and shrimp and crab are back in my gumbo, then I’ll start to parade,” said Bryan Batt, an actor from television’s “Mad Men” who is a native New Orleanian and one of the area’s biggest boosters. “Although I’d love to start the celebration, I remain cautiously optimistic.”

While the temporary capping of the well is a promising development, government and BP officials acknowledge that it is in no way a permanent solution to the disaster that has oiled wildlife and beaches from Texas to Florida and put tens of thousands of fishermen out of work. Experts say the oil currently in the gulf will continue to wash up onshore for a long time.

It is a reprieve of sorts, however, and has had the impact of recapturing some of the public’s attention, which had started to drift away about a month ago, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

“We needed a day of happy news,” said Louis Allen, a retired engineer in Atlanta. But, he added, “The story isn’t over. Not close. It’s only Chapter 1. The oil has only just begun to be a problem for the coast.”

Major news Web sites like have streamed the oil spill cam essentially around the clock since the feeds first became available to the public in late May. A CNN spokeswoman said traffic to the oil spill camera feeds was “steadily high” until mid-June, when it dipped somewhat, “and then picked up again big time this week,” some 345 percent over the previous 30-day average for all live video on

Other Web sites also said they saw a big spike in views on Thursday as the new cap was installed. The “PBS NewsHour,” which was among the first to post the spill cams online, counted 480,000 streams of the spill cam, including a remarkable 200,000 simultaneously. Earlier in the week, the oil spill cam was counting under 200,000 streams a day, PBS said.

In Denver, many were anxiously seeking out news updates on the efforts to contain the oil. Leigh Wills, an accountant, worried that the cap would not hold. She said she would also like the news media to keep on the well’s case. “You hear so many stories,” said Ms. Wills, 41. “But I’d rather hear about this than Mel Gibson or Tiger Woods.”

Mark Zwillich, a high school teacher in Atlanta, said he felt restrained enthusiasm about the situation in the gulf, for the first time in a long time.

“I’m relieved that they did what they should have done a long time ago,” said Mr. Zwillich, 57. “I’m happy for the environment. Now let’s see if BP can make good to the people of the Gulf Coast.”

Robbie Brown contributed reporting from Atlanta, Dan Frosch from Denver, and Brian Stelter from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 17, 2010

An earlier version of this article misidentified a Denver resident who was worried that the cap would not hold. Leigh Wills, who is a woman, is an accountant, not a consultant.


20) Texas Judge Reprimanded in Death Row Case
July 16, 2010

A judicial panel on Friday reprimanded a Texas judge who declined to keep the courthouse open for a last-minute appeal from a death row inmate.

Judge Sharon Keller, the state’s highest-ranking criminal judge, received a public warning from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for “willful or persistent misconduct” that “casts public discredit on the judiciary.”

On Sept. 25, 2007, when lawyers for Michael W. Richard asked the court to stay open to receive an appeal, Judge Keller reportedly told the clerk, “We close at 5 p.m.” Mr. Richard, who had been convicted of rape and murder, was executed that night.

Mr. Richard’s appeal was based on an action by the United States Supreme Court that effectively suspended executions for several months.

Judge Keller’s lawyer, Chip Babcock, argued that the fault lay with the defense lawyers, who did not contact other judges directly.

Judge David A. Berchelmann, who presided over a separate ethics hearing in 2009, wrote that Judge Keller’s conduct “was not exemplary.” But he also recommended that she be exonerated and found fault with the defense lawyers as well.

On Friday, Mr. Babcock issued a statement saying that his client was “disappointed and shocked” that the commission disregarded Judge Berchelmann’s findings and that she would challenge the decision.


21) Arizona: Immigrant Deaths Are on Pace to Hit Record
July 16, 2010

The number of deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico could reach a new monthly high, a county medical examiner said Friday. Since July 1, the bodies of 40 illegal immigrants have been taken to the office of Dr. Bruce Parks, the Pima County medical examiner. At that rate, Dr. Parks said, the deaths could top the single-month record of 68 in July 2005. His office began tracking such deaths in 2000. Dr. Parks said his office, which handles immigrants’ bodies from three counties, was currently storing about 250 bodies and had to start using a refrigerated truck because of the recent increase. The authorities believe that the high number of deaths are likely due to above-average and unrelenting heat in southern Arizona this month and tighter border security that pushes immigrants to more remote, rugged and dangerous terrain.


22) After Oil Spills, Hidden Damage Can Last for Years
"In 1969, a barge hit the rocks off the coast of West Falmouth, Mass., spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Today, the fiddler crabs at nearby Wild Harbor still act drunk, moving erratically and reacting slowly to predators."
July 17, 2010

On the rocky beaches of Alaska, scientists plunged shovels and picks into the ground and dug 6,775 holes, repeatedly striking oil — still pungent and dangerous a dozen years after the Exxon Valdez infamously spilled its cargo.

More than an ocean away, on the Breton coast of France, scientists surveying the damage after another huge oil spill found that disturbances in the food chain persisted for more than a decade.

And on the southern gulf coast in Mexico, an American researcher peering into a mangrove swamp spotted lingering damage 30 years after that shore was struck by an enormous spill.

These far-flung shorelines hit by oil in the past offer clues to what people living along the Gulf Coast can expect now that the great oil calamity of 2010 may be nearing an end.

Every oil spill is different, but the thread that unites these disparate scenes is a growing scientific awareness of the persistent damage that spills can do — and of just how long oil can linger in the environment, hidden in out-of-the-way spots.

At the same time, scientists who have worked to survey and counteract the damage from spills say the picture in the gulf is far from hopeless.

“Thoughts that this is going to kill the Gulf of Mexico are just wild overreactions,” said Jeffrey W. Short, a scientist who led some of the most important research after the Exxon Valdez spill and now works for an environmental advocacy group called Oceana. “It’s going to go away, the oil is. It’s not going to last forever.”

But how long will it last?

Only 20 years ago, the conventional wisdom was that oil spills did almost all their damage in the first weeks, as fresh oil loaded with toxic substances hit wildlife and marsh grasses, washed onto beaches and killed fish and turtles in the deep sea.

But disasters like the Valdez in 1989, the Ixtoc 1 in Mexico in 1979, the Amoco Cadiz in France in 1978 and two Cape Cod spills, including the Bouchard 65 barge in 1974 — all studied over decades with the improved techniques of modern chemistry and biology — have allowed scientists to paint a more complex portrait of what happens after a spill.

It is still clear that the bulk of the damage happens quickly, and that nature then begins to recuperate. After a few years, a casual observer visiting a hard-hit location might see nothing amiss. Birds and fish are likely to have rebounded, and the oil will seem to be gone.

But often, as Dr. Short and his team found in Alaska, some of it has merely gone underground, hiding in pockets where it can still do low-level damage to wildlife over many years. And the human response to a spill can mitigate — or intensify — its long-term effects. Oddly enough, some of the worst damage to occur from spills in recent decades has come from people trying too hard to clean them up.

It is hard for scientists to offer predictions about the present spill, for two reasons.

The ecology of the Gulf of Mexico is specially adapted to break down oil, more so than any other body of water in the world — though how rapidly and completely it can break down an amount this size is essentially unknown.

And because this spill is emerging a mile under the surface and many of the toxic components of the oil are dissolving into deep water and spreading far and wide, scientists simply do not know what the effects in the deep ocean are likely to be.

Still, many aspects of the spill resemble spills past, especially at the shoreline, and that gives researchers some confidence in predicting how events will unfold.

Remarkable Persistence

In 1969, a barge hit the rocks off the coast of West Falmouth, Mass., spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Today, the fiddler crabs at nearby Wild Harbor still act drunk, moving erratically and reacting slowly to predators.

The odd behavior is consistent with a growing body of research showing how oil spills of many types have remarkably persistent effects, often at levels low enough to escape routine notice.

Jennifer Culbertson was a graduate student at Boston University in 2005 when she made plaster casts of crab burrows. She discovered that instead of drilling straight down, like normal crabs, the ones at Wild Harbor were going only a few inches deep and then turning sideways, repelled by an oily layer still lingering below the surface.

Other researchers established that the crabs were suffering from a kind of narcosis induced by hydrocarbon poisoning. Their troubles had serious implications for the marsh.

“Fiddler crabs normally play a crucial role in tilling the salt marsh, which helps provide oxygen to the roots of salt marsh grasses,” Dr. Culbertson said about her study.

In Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spill dumped nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, and it spread down the Alaska coast, ultimately oiling 1,200 miles of shoreline. By the late 1990s, the oil seemed to be largely gone, but liver tests on ducks and sea otters showed that they were still being exposed to hydrocarbons, chemical compounds contained in crude.

Dr. Short, then working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, mounted a series of excavations to figure out what had happened, with his team ultimately digging thousands of holes in Alaska’s beaches. Oil was found in about 8 percent of them, usually in places with too little oxygen for microbes to break it down.

Exactly how much damage continues from the oil is a matter of dispute, with Exxon commissioning its own studies that challenge the government’s findings on the extent of the impact. But it is clear that otters dig for food in areas containing oil, and that they, like nearly a dozen other species of animals, have still not entirely recovered from the 1989 spill.

At the rate the oil is breaking down, Dr. Short estimates that some of it could still be there a century from now.

Increasing the Stress

Perhaps the greatest single hazard from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf is the long-term erosion of delicate coastal wetlands it could cause. At another spill site on the Massachusetts coast, not far from the West Falmouth spill, the legacy of oil contamination is evident in the difference between two marshes on either side of a pebbly shoreline road.

On one side, where the marshes were suffused in 1974 when the grounded Bouchard 65 barge dumped 11,000 to 37,000 gallons of fuel oil into the sea, the grasses are stunted and sparse. They cling tentatively to the edge of the sandy beach. But the grasses on the other side, untouched by oil, rise tall and thick.

Louisiana’s coastline contains some of the most productive marshes in the world, delivering an abundance of shrimp and oysters and providing critical habitat and breeding ground for birds and fish.

But even before the spill, the land was under enormous environmental stress, largely due to human activity. Dams on the Mississippi River and its tributaries have slowed the flow of sediment to the marshes, and global warming has caused sea level to rise.

The Louisiana marshes are eroding at an extraordinary rate — a football field’s worth sinks into the Gulf of Mexico every 38 minutes, according to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Management — and the worry now is that the oil spill will accelerate that erosion.

The Bouchard shows how that could happen. When the barge ran aground, thousands of gallons of a particularly toxic fuel oil spilled into the icy water and were swept to shore by the strong tides.

The oil made landfall just two miles north of where the West Falmouth oil spill had washed up only five years earlier. Winsor Cove, a classic New England bay surrounded by bluffs and stately homes, bore the brunt. Razor clams suffocated and rose to the surface by the hundreds to die.

But the lasting damage of the spill, severe erosion of the shoreline, took months longer to unfold.

George Hampson, now retired, was on the scientific team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that studied a series of spills in the area. He recalled that after the 1974 spill the beach grasses, called spartina, which had grown like luxuriant matting along the shore, died.

“The first year it was just like a moonscape,” Mr. Hampson said.

Spartina, a common beach grass that fills the marshes along the North Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico, is a crucial factor in keeping marshlands from eroding into the sea. Its roots act as a vast net keeping soil in place.

But the oil in Winsor Cove set off a vicious downward spiral. “It was a race between how much peat was eroding and how quickly the grass was coming back,” Mr. Hampson said.

Over the course of the next several winters, six feet of shore eroded, including a sand berm that stood above the rest of the beach. And as the view from the pebbled road indicates, the vegetation still struggles for a foothold today.

“It’s been 35 years, and I’d say the grasses are just beginning to grow back,” Mr. Hampson said.

It is certain that some of the heavily oiled spartina in Louisiana will die. For now, heavy oiling is limited to just the marsh fringes, but a strong surge in front of a hurricane could change that.

Bad Choices

Oil spills produce a powerful impulse to clean up the oil and restore as much of the environment as possible. But that impulse can itself be a source of destruction.

No case illustrates that point more starkly than the 1978 spill of the Amoco Cadiz tanker. Caught in a gale, it was propelled against rocks near the shore of northwestern France, spilling 67 million gallons of crude oil that washed over 200 miles of the coast of Brittany.

The immediate damage was bad enough: at least 20,000 seabirds found dead, thousands of tons of oysters lost and fish ridden with ulcers and tumors. But then the French authorities made it worse.

The area had marshes, and they were hit hard by oil that sank deep into the sediments. The authorities felt they needed to act aggressively.

Using bulldozers and tractors, they scraped close to 20 inches of oiled sediment from the top in the most polluted marshes and also straightened and deepened some natural tidal channels, to improve flushing.

Over time, these proved to have been disastrous judgments.

In areas that were not bulldozed, nature ultimately broke down most of the oil and the vegetation came back. But marsh plants turned out to be highly sensitive to the depth of the sediment, and more than a decade after the spill, the bulldozed marshes are still missing as much as 40 percent of their vegetation.

“In the case of Amoco Cadiz, the cleanup operations were more deadly than the pollution itself,” said Jean-Claude Dauvin, a professor of marine biology and ecosystems at the University of Lille in northern France.

Much the same dynamic played out in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill. In some areas, Exxon power-washed oiled beaches with high-pressure, hot-water sprayers. It made for dramatic television images, with the company seemingly working hard against the spill. But scientists ultimately determined that it was a disaster for the tidal ecology, with clams and other organisms showing greatly delayed recovery on the laundered beaches, compared with oiled beaches that were not cleaned.

The lesson, scientists say, is not that people should never try to clean up an oil spill. It is possible to do too little as well as too much. But the calculation of how much to do is tricky, demanding deep scientific understanding of an area’s ecology. Applying supposed common sense has repeatedly led to mistakes.

Already in Louisiana, battles have erupted between the Army Corps of Engineers and local residents, led by Gov. Bobby Jindal, over proposals to build sand and rock barriers to block the oil from coming into the marshes. The corps has been cautious on approval permits and recently rejected a plan to build a rock barrier outside Barataria Bay, arguing that such structures would change water-flow patterns to the possible detriment of the marsh ecology.

No matter how that battle plays out, a tough and potentially contentious issue in Louisiana in coming months may be the question of whether the marshes should be burned.

If the top layer of grasses and the clinging oil are burned off, the roots should survive and allow healthier grasses to sprout back. But scientists say that can be done only if there is no chance of new oil coming in, since burning might expose the roots buried in the sediment, making them vulnerable to absorbing the oil. Given the immensity of the spill, it is not clear when that hazard will have passed.

“If you consider the volume,” said Ronald J. Kendall, chairman of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University, “we could see re-oiling for years to come.”

Natural Resilience

The other day, a Mexican fishing boat threaded its way deep into a coastal mangrove swamp on the Bay of Campeche. It carried two scientists, an American, Wes Tunnell, and a Mexican, Julio Sánchez.

They were looking for remnants of an oil spill that happened 30 years earlier, when the Ixtoc 1 well in the bay exploded and gushed oil for 10 months. It has stood for decades as the worst accidental release of oil in any ocean. (It may or may not have been surpassed by the BP spill; estimates vary.)

Mangroves are vital coastal plants, providing rich habitat for many types of creatures and serving as a nursery for many marine species. To the untrained eye, the ones in Mexico appeared healthy, billowing up from the shoreline in shades of green, balanced on a gray carpet of roots that protruded from the water.

But Dr. Tunnell pointed out subtle signs of damage. There were clearings in the foliage, instead of an unbroken tangle of roots and mangrove trees. The branches of the outer layer of red mangroves seemed stunted.

“For a mangrove swamp, this should be much denser,” Dr. Tunnell said. “We shouldn’t even be able to see in here.”

The scientists scrambled out of the boats to a small clearing. Dr. Sanchez bent down, sliced out a layer of sediment and broke it to reveal gooey tar in the middle.

Dr. Tunnell sniffed. “It smells like a newly paved road,” he said.

They could not be sure it was oil from the Ixtoc well, since smaller spills have hit the area too, but the scientists agree with local fishermen that much of the damage to the mangroves goes back to Ixtoc.

They sent the sample to a laboratory. The fishermen also said that oysters that used to be found clinging to the mangrove roots seemed to have vanished after the spill and never returned.

The Ixtoc blowout of 1979-80 is the closest analogy to the BP spill, even though it happened in much shallower water. Ixtoc soiled hundreds of miles of beaches, all the way to Texas.

Dr. Tunnell, of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, was early in his career then. He was dismayed to see the oil kill 50 percent to 80 percent of the bottom-dwelling creatures in some areas near the Texas shore.

“As a young scientist, I thought, ‘Oh, no, this is wiping out our beaches,’ ” Dr. Tunnell said.

But then he watched in amazement as the recuperative powers of the gulf kicked in.

Because oil constantly seeps into the gulf from natural fissures, the water is teeming with microbes adapted to break oil down and use it as food. The breakdown happens faster there than in colder bodies of water, and the warm water helps some species recover faster, too.

Along the Texas coast, within a few years after the Ixtoc spill ended in 1980, it was hard to tell that anything had gone wrong. Creatures repopulated the areas that had been wiped out.

No one can be sure that the recovery from the BP spill will be a replay of Ixtoc. But the greatest reason for optimism is nature’s demonstrated capacity to handle the assaults on it.

“Thirty years ago, that 140 million gallons of oil went somewhere,” Dr. Tunnell said. “The gulf recovered and became very productive again. My concern is: Is it as resilient today as it was 30 years ago?”

Elisabeth Malkin contributed reporting from Isla Arena, Mexico, and Dheepthi Namasivayam from Roscoff, France.


23) Changing Stance, Administration Now Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax
July 16, 2010

WASHINGTON — When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.

While Congress was working on the health care legislation, Mr. Obama refused to accept the argument that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was equivalent to a tax.

“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”

When Mr. Stephanopoulos said the penalty appeared to fit the dictionary definition of a tax, Mr. Obama replied, “I absolutely reject that notion.”

Congress anticipated a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate. Accordingly, the law includes 10 detailed findings meant to show that the mandate regulates commercial activity important to the nation’s economy. Nowhere does Congress cite its taxing power as a source of authority.

Under the Constitution, Congress can exercise its taxing power to provide for the “general welfare.” It is for Congress, not courts, to decide which taxes are “conducive to the general welfare,” the Supreme Court said 73 years ago in upholding the Social Security Act.

Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, described the tax power as an alternative source of authority.

“The Commerce Clause supplies sufficient authority for the shared-responsibility requirements in the new health reform law,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “To the extent that there is any question of additional authority — and we don’t believe there is — it would be available through the General Welfare Clause.”

The law describes the levy on the uninsured as a “penalty” rather than a tax. The Justice Department brushes aside the distinction, saying “the statutory label” does not matter. The constitutionality of a tax law depends on “its practical operation,” not the precise form of words used to describe it, the department says, citing a long line of Supreme Court cases.

Moreover, the department says the penalty is a tax because it will raise substantial revenue: $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

In addition, the department notes, the penalty is imposed and collected under the Internal Revenue Code, and people must report it on their tax returns “as an addition to income tax liability.”

Because the penalty is a tax, the department says, no one can challenge it in court before paying it and seeking a refund.

Jack M. Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School who supports the new law, said, “The tax argument is the strongest argument for upholding” the individual-coverage requirement.

Mr. Obama “has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill,” Mr. Balkin said last month at a meeting of the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization. “This bill is a tax. Because it’s a tax, it’s completely constitutional.”

Mr. Balkin and other law professors pressed that argument in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in one of the pending cases.

Opponents contend that the “minimum coverage provision” is unconstitutional because it exceeds Congress’s power to regulate commerce.

“This is the first time that Congress has ever ordered Americans to use their own money to purchase a particular good or service,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

In their lawsuit, Florida and other states say: “Congress is attempting to regulate and penalize Americans for choosing not to engage in economic activity. If Congress can do this much, there will be virtually no sphere of private decision-making beyond the reach of federal power.”

In reply, the administration and its allies say that a person who goes without insurance is simply choosing to pay for health care out of pocket at a later date. In the aggregate, they say, these decisions have a substantial effect on the interstate market for health care and health insurance.

In its legal briefs, the Obama administration points to a famous New Deal case, Wickard v. Filburn, in which the Supreme Court upheld a penalty imposed on an Ohio farmer who had grown a small amount of wheat, in excess of his production quota, purely for his own use.

The wheat grown by Roscoe Filburn “may be trivial by itself,” the court said, but when combined with the output of other small farmers, it significantly affected interstate commerce and could therefore be regulated by the government as part of a broad scheme regulating interstate commerce.


24) Militia With Neo-Nazi Ties Patrols Arizona Desert
[Lynne Stewart gets ten years in jail while these heavily-armed Nazis are allowed to roam the Arizona Desert with impunity!]
July 17, 2010

PHOENIX (AP) — Minutemen groups, a surge in Border Patrol agents and a tough new immigration law are not enough for a reputed neo-Nazi who is now leading a militia in the Arizona desert.

Jason Ready is taking matters into his own hands, declaring war on what he calls “narco-terrorists” and keeping an eye out for illegal immigrants. So far, he said, his patrols have found only a few border crossers, who were given water and handed over to the Border Patrol. Once, they found a decaying body in a wash, and alerted the authorities.

But local law enforcement officials are worried, given that Mr. Ready’s group is heavily armed and identifies with the National Socialist Movement, an organization that believes that only non-Jewish, white heterosexual people should be American citizens and that everyone who is not white should leave the country — “peacefully or by force.”

“We’re not going to sit around and wait for the government anymore,” Mr. Ready said. “This is what our founding fathers did.”

An escalation of civilian border watches has taken root in Arizona in recent years. Various groups patrol the desert and report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol, and generally they have not caused problems.

But Mr. Ready, a 37-year-old ex-Marine, is different. He and his friends are outfitted with military fatigues, body armor and assault rifles. Mr. Ready takes offense at the term “neo-Nazi,” but admits he identifies with the National Socialist Movement.

“These are explicit Nazis,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. “These are people who wear swastikas on their sleeves.”

Mr. Ready is a reflection of the anger over illegal immigration in Arizona. Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new immigration law in April that requires police officers, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County said there had not been any episodes with the group in his jurisdiction. But he said he was concerned because an untrained group acting without the authority of the law could cause “extreme problems” and put itself and others in danger.

“I’m not inviting them. And in fact, I’d rather they not come,” Sheriff Babeu said. “Especially those who espouse hatred or bigotry such as his,” he said of Mr. Ready.

Mr. Ready said he is planning patrols throughout the summer.

“If they don’t want my people out there, then there’s an easy way to send us home: secure the border,” he said. “We’ll put our guns back on the shelf, and that’ll be the end of that.”


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