Thursday, July 22, 2010



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




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


Please Distribute Widely - Send to a Friend

Arab Film Festival Presents
The premiere of two powerful documentaries on the attacks on Gaza

produced by Najwa Najjar

A variety of short films about Gaza and Operation Cast Lead, a collaboration of 12 International filmmakers.

directed by Samir Abdallah & Kheredine Mabrouk

"We bring back images of Palestine, this country which is more and more becoming metaphorical. We entered Gaza as soon as the ceasefire of the last war (December 2008-January 2009) was announced and discovered with our friends from the Palestinian Human Rights Centre, the extent of the gaza-strophe. In spite of all this, our Gazaoui friends offered us poems, songs and even jokes and stories to tell" -Samir Abdallah

Films will be followed by discussion with a distinguished panel:
Paul Larudee, Nadeen Elshorafa, and Jess Ghannam. Facilitator: Michel Shehadeh

Buy Tickets Now:

Thursday, July 29th @ 7:00pm
Roxie Theatre, 3116 16th Street, San Francisco
Tickets: $9

After Event Party @ The Pork Store (Across from The Roxie)
Suggested Donation: $10 Students $15 Adults

Co-Sponsors: Al-Awda San Francisco, Middle East Children Alliance (MECA), Break the Silence and Mural Project, ANSWER Coalition, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, South Bay Mobilization, Culture and Conflict Forum, Free Palestine Movement, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine, Arab Cultural Community Center of Silicon Valley, Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice (LC4PJ), Palestine Youth Network, US Palestinian Community Network (SF Bay Area USPCN), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), American Friend's Service Committee-SF, Free Palestine Alliance, Sunbula: Arab Feminists for Change, Jewish Voice for Peace, Southwest Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ), Justice for Palestinians-San Jose, SOUL School of Liberty & Liberation...

If you are interested in becoming a co-sponsor, please email:

More info at

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



ILWU Local 10 Motion on the Verdict in the Oscar Grant Case
Whereas, Oscar Grant's killer, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle received a verdict of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, 2010; and

Whereas, video tapes show clearly that Oscar Grant was lying face down on the Fruitvale BART platform, waiting to be handcuffed with another cop's boot on his neck posing no threat when he was shot in the back and killed in cold blood by Mehserle; and
Whereas, this is just another example in a racist justice system where police officers go free for killing young black men; and

Whereas, the Contra Costa Times reports that police are holding a rally in Walnut Creek on July 19, 2010 to show support for the killer cop so his sentence will only be a slap on the wrist; and

Whereas; the ILWU has always stood for social justice;

Therefore be it resolved that the labor movement organize a mass protest rally September 15, 2010 with participation from community groups, civil rights organizations, civil liberties organizations and all who stand for social justice demand jail for killer cops.



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




Mexican kindergarten kids vs racist white minutemen
Little kids stand up for their parents after the minutemen go harass migrants at the Mexican Consulate in the city of Santa Ana.


HEALTH ALERT: Toxic Rain In Miami From Gulf Oil Leak, Plants & Trees Dying


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]

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


BP Slick Covers Dolphins and


Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10


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


Roger Waters - "We Shall Overcome" for Gaza


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!




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



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


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


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?"



[ 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


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) Bernanke Sees No Quick End to High Rate of Joblessness
July 21, 2010

2) Weather May Delay Work in Gulf
July 21, 2010

3) Witness Cancellations Thwart Hearings on Oil Spill
July 20, 2010

4) With Sale of Assets, BP Bets on More Deep Wells
July 20, 2010

5) A Smell of Pot and Privilege in the City
"...the chances of getting arrested on pot charges in Brownsville - and nothing else - were 150 times greater than on the Upper East Side of Manhattan."
July 20, 2010

6) Punishing Lynne
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
July 18, 2010

7) EPA Whistleblower Accuses Agency of Covering Up Effects of Dispersant in BP Oil Spill Cleanup
July 20, 2010

8) Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety
"Some workers also voiced concerns about poor equipment reliability, "which they believed was as a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance," according to the survey, one of two Transocean reports obtained by The New York Times."
July 21, 2010

9) Rig Worker Was Worried About Safety, Widow Says
"'From Day 1, he deemed this the 'well from hell,' Ms. Roshto told federal investigators at a hearing into the causes of the disaster. 'He said Mother Nature just didn't want to be drilled here.'"
July 22, 2010

10) Alaska Wells Halted
July 22, 2010

11) Geese Return to Prospect Park. Sort Of.
July 22, 2010, 12:43 pm

12) Drug War Statement Upstaged at AIDS Gathering
July 22, 2010


1) Bernanke Sees No Quick End to High Rate of Joblessness
July 21, 2010

WASHINGTON - The unemployment rate in the United States is likely to remain well above 7 percent through the end of 2012 and the duration of President Obama's current term, according to the Federal Reserve.

Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, told Congress on Wednesday that it would take "a significant amount of time" to restore the 8.5 million jobs lost in the United States in 2008 and 2009, and warned that "the economic outlook remains unusually uncertain." He also warned that financial conditions, particularly the European sovereign debt crisis, had "become less supportive of economic growth in recent months."

In presenting the Fed's semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, Mr. Bernanke struck a more cautious tone than he did when he last submitted the report, in February.

In written testimony to be delivered to the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Bernanke said that the economic expansion that began in mid-2009 was "proceeding at a moderate pace," though with substantial help from "stimulative monetary and fiscal policies," in the form of easy credit from the Fed and substantial federal spending.

He projected that rising demand from households and businesses should help sustain growth, although fiscal measures by the government and inventory restocking by businesses would account for less stimulus than they had in recent months. And he warned that the housing market "remains weak, with the overhang of vacant or foreclosed houses weighing on home prices and construction."

Mr. Bernanke described the slow recovery of the job market as "an important drag on household spending." Private payrolls grew by about 100,000 jobs a month in the first half of the year - a pace that Mr. Bernanke called "insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate materially." And nearly half of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months, with serious consequences for their long-term earnings and employment prospects.

Inflation has trended downward in the last two years, Mr. Bernanke said. That development has caused some Fed officials to worry that the economy could be threatened by the prospect of deflation, a fear that Mr. Bernanke did not explicitly address in his written remarks.

At its latest meeting, in June, the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's top policy-making arm, slightly lowered its growth forecast for the rest of this year, to a range of 3 to 3.5 percent. It expects growth of 3.5 to 4.5 percent in 2011 and 2012, and the unemployment rate to drop to 7 to 7.5 percent by the end of 2012.

"Most participants viewed uncertainty about the outlook for growth and unemployment as greater than normal, and the majority saw the risks to growth as weighted to the downside," Mr. Bernanke said. "Most participants projected that inflation will average only about 1 percent in 2010 and that it will remain low during 2011 and 2012, with the risks to the inflation outlook roughly balanced."

Mr. Bernanke's testimony came hours after President Obama signed into law a far-reaching overhaul of the financial regulatory architecture.

The Fed chief said that "much work remains to be done" to install the legislation through regulations, but added: "I believe the legislation, together with stronger regulatory standards for bank capital and liquidity now being developed, will place our financial system on a sounder foundation and minimize the risk of a repetition of the devastating events of the past three years."

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and the chairman of the Banking Committee, said in a prepared statement that "it looks like our economy is in need of additional help." He added that he intended to ask Mr. Bernanke "whether the Fed can do more to help expand output and employment."

A different view was offered by Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the committee.

"There are questions about whether the Fed has changed its focus from executing an exit strategy to lowering interest rates on reserves and possibly further ballooning its balance sheet with more asset purchases," Mr. Shelby said. "This is especially concerning because the purchase of even more long-term assets may channel credit to favored segments of the markets at the expense of others."

Mr. Bernanke also discussed several steps the Fed could take to use monetary policy to further stimulate the economy, having held short-term interest rates to nearly zero since December 2008 and having amassed a portfolio of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury debt to place downward pressure on long-term interest rates.

First, the Fed could signal to the markets that it intended to keep its benchmark federal funds rate, at which banks lend to one another overnight, at zero to 0.25 percent for even longer than the "extended period" the Fed currently cites.

Second, the Fed could lower the interest rate it pays on excess reserves - that is, deposits that banks keep at the Fed in excess of what they are required to keep - from its current level of 0.25 percent.

Third - and the mostly widely discussed option - the Fed could again expand the size of its balance sheet, which stands at about $2.3 trillion, by buying additional Treasury debt or mortgage-backed securities, or even other classes of assets like municipal bonds.

"We have not come to the point where we can tell you precisely what the leading options are," Mr. Bernanke told Mr. Shelby. "Clearly each of these options has got drawbacks, potential costs. So we're going to continue to monitor the economy closely and continue to evaluate the alternatives that we have, recognizing, as I said, that policy is already quite stimulative."


2) Weather May Delay Work in Gulf
July 21, 2010

Bad weather may delay work at BP's well in the Gulf of Mexico, but even if the sea and sky remain relatively calm, additional precautions will be taken before any effort is made to permanently stem the flow of oil, the official overseeing the spill response said on Wednesday.

The official, Thad W. Allen, a retired Coast Guard admiral, said that if an area of low pressure over Puerto Rico developed into a tropical depression or storm and heads into the gulf, all ships at the well site 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana might have to depart for safer waters. Government weather experts are evaluating the situation, he said.

If the forecast is for a storm, "we could be looking at 10 to 14 days" when no work could be done on a relief well that is considered the ultimate way to seal the BP well, Admiral Allen said. Containment projects and other work would have to be suspended as well.

The relief well is expected to intercept the bad well at the end of July and then it would take at least several days, and perhaps several weeks, to permanently shut the flow from the bad well.

No decision has been made yet whether the well, which is now sealed as part of a test to see whether it can hold pressure, would be left in that condition, Admiral Allen said. After nearly three months gushing oil, the well has not leaked since last Thursday, when valves on a cap atop it were closed to start the test. But if officials decided it was too risky to leave the well under pressure during a storm, the valves would be reopened and oil would once again spew into the gulf.

Admiral Allen said it was possible that the well would be left shut but closely monitored by remotely operated submersibles for as long as possible. The submersibles, and their relatively fast-moving support ships, would probably be away from the site for only three or four days, he said.

The admiral said that scientists from the government and BP were still evaluating whether to try a "static kill," in which drilling mud would be pumped into the well from the top and used to force the oil and gas back into the oil reservoir, 13,000 feet below the seabed. If the technique succeeded, then the relief well might only need to confirm that the well was sealed.

But he said that if a decision was made to proceed with the procedure, BP would have to wait until after a final section of steel casing pipe were installed in its relief well. The relief well is currently less than five feet horizontally from the bad well, Admiral Allen said, and "not far away from a place we had concerns about." The fear is that if the static kill damaged the well, it might damage the relief well, too. So having a steel liner affords some protection.

If good weather continues, Admiral Allen said, the casing job could be finished by Thursday or Friday, and the static kill, if approved, could start two days later.


3) Witness Cancellations Thwart Hearings on Oil Spill
July 20, 2010

KENNER, La. - Government investigators looking into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion are colliding with a frequent obstacle: witnesses canceling their scheduled testimonies.

So far, nine witnesses have withheld or delayed testimony here before a panel of federal government officials. Many were top-ranking officials aboard the rig, with critical roles in decisions that may have contributed to the disaster.

Reasons for cancellation have varied: some cited health problems, one pleaded the Fifth Amendment, and others said their lawyers had not received necessary documentation. And on Tuesday evening, the Coast Guard said that all four witnesses scheduled to testify on Wednesday had canceled, fueling concern that witnesses fear implicating themselves criminally.

"This is a challenge as we make sure we get to the facts," said Mike O'Berry, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, which is running the investigation along with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. "The board is trying to get as many witnesses to testify as possible."

Lawyers for the oil companies aboard the rig say the cancellations were thwarting their efforts to assign responsibility.

"It's holding us back a hundred percent," said Edward F. Kohnke IV, a lawyer for Transocean, the rig owner. "These are the guys whose cross-examinations will tell us the story."

Responding in part to those concerns, the Coast Guard announced Tuesday that the next hearings would be held in Houston. That places investigators closer to the many witnesses who live in Texas and within jurisdiction of a district court that can subpoena them. Currently, the hearings are held here in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans.

The two top-ranked BP officials on board the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the explosion, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the well-site leaders, have each canceled their testimonies twice. Mr. Kaluza pleaded the Fifth Amendment, and Mr. Vidrine cited health problems, which the Coast Guard said it had confirmed through his doctor.

The four officials who canceled their testimonies on Wednesday were all subsea supervisors or superintendents for Transocean. Their lawyers gave different explanations: one cited a possible conflict of interest in representing multiple witnesses, another cited the location of the hearing and a third said he had not received necessary documents.

These delays have not stopped the investigation from unearthing new details about the final days of the rig. In Tuesday's hearings, investigators focused on equipment failures leading up to the explosion.

A BP official, Ronald Sepulvado, a well-site leader, testified that BP continued drilling for oil in the days before the disaster despite internal reports of a leak on a safety device on the rig.

Mr. Sepulvado said he reported the problem to senior company officials and assumed it would be relayed to the Minerals Management Service, the predecessor to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which regulates offshore drilling. The leak was on a control pod connected to the blowout preventer, an emergency mechanism that failed to activate after the April 20 disaster.

"I assumed everything was O.K., because I reported it to the team leader and he should have reported it to M.M.S.," Mr. Sepulvado said.

He could not explain why the company did not respond to his report. Mr. Sepulvado was not aboard the rig at the time of the explosion because he was on shore for a blowout preventer training program.

Investigators also pressed Mr. Sepulvado about two audits that found problems with other equipment on the rig and the well it was drilling, including the blowout preventer, known as a BOP.

"In both of those audits, it indicated that the BOP was well past" its inspection date, said Jason Mathews, a panel member. Asked whether he realized that the manufacturer of the blowout preventer required that the device undergo specific tests every five years, Mr. Sepulvado said, "No, I did not."

The audits of the rig were conducted by BP in September 2009 and by ModuSpec in April 2010. The company's audit identified problems with the rig's engines, ballast systems, thrusters and drilling equipment, and as a result, BP scheduled the rig for a shipyard visit in early 2011.

A BP subsea well supervisor, Ross Skidmore, testified that the company ordered a device called a lockdown sleeve but did not install it until drilling mud was removed from the site, an untraditional approach. Mr. Skidmore said the device was normally installed in the mud.

"I asked why couldn't we go ahead and do this in mud," he said. "I was told it wasn't going to happen. We were going to go through in the sequence we were given."


4) With Sale of Assets, BP Bets on More Deep Wells
July 20, 2010

Despite the April 20 Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP has no plans to leave the Gulf of Mexico or stop drilling for oil in other deep ocean waters.

Just the opposite: with its runaway well apparently under control, the troubled oil giant is now staking its future more than ever on deepwater wells. Although such wells are far riskier than land-based or shallow-water ones, oil fields that are located under a mile or more of water can be extremely lucrative, and BP continues to see them as worth the risks.

Reflecting that strategy, BP announced Tuesday that it had agreed to sell $7 billion of oil and gas fields to the Apache Corporation. The assets being sold - in Texas, New Mexico, western Canada and Egypt - are all on land.

The move goes a long way toward raising the $20 billion that BP pledged to put in escrow by the end of 2013 to pay claims for the gulf oil spill. The company has already suspended its shareholder dividend to come up with some of the money, and it is expected to announce at least $3 billion in additional asset sales in the coming months.

Reflecting BP's urgent need for cash, Apache said it would advance BP $5 billion of the purchase price on July 30, even though the transaction is unlikely to close for several months as regulators in various countries review it.

But the deal is not just about the money. Although BP, based in London, could have raised the funds by selling valuable deepwater assets, it decided to dispose of onshore assets instead.

Analysts say the choice shows that BP is committed to deepwater drilling, despite the prospect of increased global regulation of such wells and an effort in Congress to bar the company from receiving new drilling permits in the gulf.

"The Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, Brazil, Egypt - these offshore areas are where you have significant deposits, and this is what BP will continue to go after," said Bruce Lanni, an energy portfolio strategist at Nollenberger Capital Partners. "BP has an opportunity to become a little leaner and meaner by selling some of its noncore assets on the periphery and emphasize the deepwater production."

On Monday, as optimism grew that the temporary cap put on the Macondo well was holding up against the pressure of the oil below, BP announced an expansion of its offshore portfolio. The company signed a deal with Egypt's government to develop new hydrocarbon deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, declared, "This agreement unlocks a new phase in realizing the huge potential of the Nile Delta basin."

News of the Apache deal came shortly after Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral in charge of the response to the gulf spill, said Tuesday afternoon that the government would give BP another 24 hours to test the cap on the Macondo well. The cap, which has been fully closed since Thursday, will remain shut while BP and government officials weighed whether to kill the well permanently by pumping heavy mud into it.

In their quest for new supplies, oil companies have gone after oil and gas reserves in ever-deeper waters since the 1990s. But no company has invested as much in deepwater exploration over the last decade as BP, which has often led the way in the industry's push into the deepest reaches of the oceans.

Deepwater production, traditionally defined as wells in more than 1,000 feet of water, now accounts for about a third of BP's 2.5 million barrels of daily oil output - surpassing Royal Dutch Shell or Exxon Mobil.

BP is the top producer in the Gulf of Mexico, with a daily output of 400,000 barrels in 2009. The company operates the world's biggest offshore platform, Thunder Horse, in the gulf. BP is also one of the top investors in Angola, which has turned into the fastest-growing source of oil in Africa thanks to its offshore deposits. Last year, the company made three discoveries in Angola's ultradeepwater Block 31. In addition, BP is also looking for oil off the coasts of Libya and Egypt, and it is the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan, where it operates two major fields in the Caspian Sea, Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli and Shah Deniz.

With most of the big onshore fields long since discovered or controlled by national governments, major oil companies view the world's oceans as their best opportunity to find vast pools of untapped oil and gas.

But for BP, the increasing dependence on deepwater drilling poses its own risks.

Deepwater projects are challenging under the best of circumstances - much of the work must be done using remote-controlled robotic vehicles, and the intense pressures and temperatures of the ocean depths make everything more difficult.

The Deepwater Horizon accident has gravely damaged BP's reputation. Even if the company can contain the political damage, its growth will be stunted by its need to save cash to pay for the spill. BP has already announced it would not pay a dividend this year and would reduce its capital spending program.

"BP will probably end up a more humble company," said Brian Youngberg, an energy analyst at Edward Jones, a brokerage firm based in St. Louis. "Their future growth will be challenged. Will other companies or countries want BP as an operator? That is a very valid question."

In the United States, where BP has a history of troubled operations in the gulf, its Alaska operations and its refineries, the government has shown increasing frustration with the company.

The House Committee on Natural Resources voted last week to bar BP from obtaining new offshore leases because of its previous safety violations. If the proposed legislation passes, it would hobble BP's growth. Although the company could continue to operate its existing facilities and invest as a minority partner in other companies' projects, it would not be able to drill new wells.

"The ripple effects to their reputation are huge," said John R. Kimberly, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "This is not the first time that BP has run into trouble. It is now on them to show they are not irresponsible."

Although some analysts and lawyers are concerned about a risk of bankruptcy, BP is likely to survive the crisis. The company will generate $30 billion in free cash flow this year; its operations in the United States are valued at about $100 billion. Its proven oil reserves alone are worth $150 billion, according to analysts at Société Générale.

In the short term, the company needs to raise cash to pay for cleanup costs from the spill and endow the compensation fund. At the same time, it is seeking to avoid any appearance of a fire sale.

The assets sold to Apache represent 2 percent of BP's reserves and 2.3 percent of its production. But the sale price represents 6.4 percent of BP's current market value of $110 billion.

BP had originally discussed selling half of its stake in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay field to Apache, but those talks fell through over the weekend because of complications in sorting out who would run the field, which BP now operates.

BP also confirmed Tuesday that it had recently informed the governments of Pakistan and Vietnam that it intended to sell production assets in both countries. The company's operations in both countries include onshore and offshore fields but have a marginal impact on BP's overall production.

Last week, BP sold some pipeline operations to Magellan Midstream Partners, including its crude oil storage facilities in Cushing, Okla. The $289 million transaction has puzzled analysts because BP's ownership of Cushing, the receiving terminal for West Texas Intermediate crude oil, has long given the company's oil traders precious market information that they could use to their advantage. Some analysts speculated that the sale might signal that BP was considering selling its highly lucrative oil trading unit.

BP is expected to lay out more details of its strategy on July 27, when it reports second-quarter earnings.

The ongoing uncertainty continues to weigh on its share price, which plunged as the impact of the April 20 accident became apparent. After hitting their lowest level since 1996 at the end of June, shares have bounced back in the last three weeks, closing Tuesday at $35.20 in New York.

Under Tuesday's deal, Apache will pay $3.1 billion for 10 natural gas fields in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, $3.25 billion for natural gas assets in western Canada and $650 million for BP fields and an exploration concession in western Egypt. Apache, a midsize oil exploration and production company based in Houston, is known for buying underperforming or declining assets and wringing more production out of them.

Clifford Krauss and Michael J. de la Merced contributed reporting.


5) A Smell of Pot and Privilege in the City
"...the chances of getting arrested on pot charges in Brownsville - and nothing else - were 150 times greater than on the Upper East Side of Manhattan."
July 20, 2010

The Bloomberg administration has quietly been fixing up its sons and daughters with cool summer internships, as reported Tuesday in The New York Times. Which is probably fine: It is hard to see nepotism as much of a sin when it is really just another chapter of Darwinism, the drive possessed by all creatures to finagle a better future for their offspring.

No matter how much Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg preached about meritocracy, no one expected that the laws of nature would be repealed when he was elected.

Sure enough, a Freedom of Information Act request showed that tucked among hundreds of summer interns picked through a competitive process were dozens of the children of City Hall insiders or of Mr. Bloomberg's friends. They reflected the mayor's social and political circles: mostly white, many quite wealthy, coming from private high schools and Ivy League colleges.

In short, these are not residents of Stop and Frisk New York.

Mayor Bloomberg promised to lead a government that looked like the city; in reality, he leads one that looks like his mirror, an administration in which key managers are overwhelmingly white and male. It is one thing if this means the annual crop of interns is heavily salted with young Bloombergians.

It is quite another when those managers are shaping policies that wind up leading to the deprivation of liberty of people who do not look like them.

Among the biggest but least discussed expansions of government power under Mr. Bloomberg has been the explosive increase in arrests for displaying or burning marijuana.

No city in the world arrests more of its citizens for using pot than New York, according to statistics compiled by Harry G. Levine, a Queens College sociologist.

Nearly nine out of ten people charged with violating the law are black or Latino, although national surveys have shown that whites are the heaviest users of pot. Mr. Bloomberg himself acknowledged in 2001 that he had used it, and enjoyed it.

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan where the mayor lives, an average of 20 people for every 100,000 residents were arrested on the lowest-level misdemeanor pot charge in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

During those same years, the marijuana arrest rate in Brownsville, Brooklyn, was 3,109 for every 100,000 residents.

That means the chances of getting arrested on pot charges in Brownsville - and nothing else - were 150 times greater than on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

No doubt this is, in large part, a consequence of the stop-and-frisk practices of the Police Department, which Mr. Bloomberg and his aides say have been an important tool in bringing down crime.

Nowhere in the city is that tactic used more heavily than in Brownsville. On average, the police conducted one stop and frisk a year for every one of the 14,000 people who live there, an analysis by The New York Times found. More than 99 percent of the people were not arrested or charged with any wrongdoing.

Brownsville has the highest marijuana arrest rate in the city. The top 10 precincts for marijuana arrests averaged 2,150 for every 100,000 residents; the populations in those precincts are generally 90 percent or more nonwhite.

Mr. Bloomberg's neighborhood has the lowest rate of marijuana arrests; the 10 precincts with the lowest rates averaged 67 arrests per 100,000 residents. The population in most of those neighborhoods was 80 percent white.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Bloomberg talked about proposals that would allow marijuana to be distributed for putatively medical purposes.

He said it was a Trojan horse for complete legalization.

"I mean, the idea of medical marijuana, we all know what that means: It means everybody is going to qualify," he said. "The worst thing is the hypocrisy of saying it's medical marijuana. If you want to legalize it, let's have that debate, but that's what you're really talking about. It has nothing to do with medicine."

In truth, in New York, the debate was over before it began.

For blacks and Latinos, it is very, very illegal.

But not in Mr. Bloomberg's neighborhood.



6) Punishing Lynne
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
July 18, 2010

Lynne Stewart, the activist-lawyer, was recently sentenced to ten years in prison. This outstanding lawyer, a 70-year old grandmother, who is facing the serious threat of breast cancer, was originally sentenced to two years and four months, but the Federal Appeals Court apparently thought that wasn't enough.

The same Appeals Courts that traditionally reverses the convictions of cops who torture or kill Black citizens, who traditionally rely on the judgments of the trial judges, reversed Stewart's sentence as not tough enough, so much for tradition.

For Lynne's tradition wasn't that of the tony "tie and tails" law firms in Manhattan. She didn't represent the rich, the powerful, the well heeled. She represented the poor, the oppressed, the dispossessed, the Black, the Latino, the Arab, the damned, those who Franz Fanon called the wretched of the earth. The juxtaposition-many, many lawyers in the Office of Legal Council, in the White House, in the CIA and the Defense Department violated criminal laws, the military codes, the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, to aid and abet violations of law and the Constitution for years. Guess how many of them faced trial? Guess how many of them will in the future? How many of them will ever face prison? None, none, and none, for their crimes were on behalf of the powerful, hence their immunity.

But consider what is known in international law as the supreme crime, wars of aggression. Iraq will be a basket case for generations, thanks to U.S. arrogance and greed. Will anybody be brought to book for this crime that shattered a nation, that sent millions into exile, and killed perhaps a million men, women and children? Don't hold your breath. There are still black sites, secret prisons where tortures happen daily. There are still extraordinary renditions, clear violations of the Convention Against Torture, but politicians are doing it not to protect the Nation, but to secure elections-torture for votes, and a 70-year old grandmother, a lawyer, is sent to prison for ten years for violating a prison rule that is an unconstitutional relic of the so-called war on terror. This is what an empire in decline looks like. From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.


7) EPA Whistleblower Accuses Agency of Covering Up Effects of Dispersant in BP Oil Spill Cleanup
July 20, 2010


Hugh Kaufman, senior policy analyst at the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

With BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants. We speak with Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and a leading critic of the decision to use Corexit.

SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: The Obama administration has given BP the go-ahead to keep its ruptured well sealed for another day despite worries about the well leaking some oil and methane gas. National Incident Commander Thad Allen said the seep was not cause for alarm.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has released its analysis of BP's data on the exposure of cleanup workers to the chemical dispersants being used in the Gulf. OSHA chief David Michaels told the environmental website Greenwire that, quote, "I think you can say exposures are low for workers. Exposures of workers on shore are virtually nonexistent. There are significant exposures near the source, and that's to be expected given the work being done there. Those workers are given respiratory protection," he said.

But with BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants. At a Senate subcommittee hearing last week, Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski grilled administrators from the EPA about Corexit and said she didn't want dispersants to be the Agent Orange of this oil spill.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI: I'm concerned because I feel and I believe, and my reading verifies, that we don't know enough about the impact of dispersants and dispersed oil on people, marine life and water quality. I'm very concerned. And my question is, should we ban them? Should we take a time out from using them? What are the short- and long-term consequences of using them? I don't want dispersants to be the Agent Orange of this oil spill. And I want to be assured, in behalf of the American people, that this is OK to use and OK to use in the amounts that we're talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski.

While concerns over the impact of chemical dispersants continue to grow, Gulf Coast residents are outraged by a recent announcement that the $20 billion government-administered claim fund will subtract money cleanup workers earn by working for the cleanup effort from any future claims. Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg says the ruling will apply to anyone who participates in the Vessels of Opportunity program, which has employed hundreds of Gulf Coast residents left out of work because of the spill. It's seen as an effort to limit the number of lawsuits against BP.

We're joined now by two guests on these two issues, on Corexit and the workers. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail is joining us from Tampa, Florida. He's been reporting from the Gulf Coast for three weeks. His latest article at Truthout is called "BP's Scheme to Swindle the 'Small People.'" And from Washington, DC, we're joined by Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. He's been a leading critic of the decision to use Corexit.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let's begin with Hugh Kaufman. First of all, explain what Corexit is, the company that makes it, what's in it, and your concerns.

HUGH KAUFMAN: Well, Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that it's invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the government-both EPA, NOAA, etc.-have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher that's been going on for almost three months.

Congressman Markey and Nadler, as well as Senator Mikulski, have been heroes in this respect. Congressman Markey made the BP and government put a camera down there to show the public the gusher. And when they did that, experts saw that the amount of material, oil being released, is orders of magnitudes greater than what BP and NOAA and EPA were saying. And the cover-up started to evaporate.

But the use of dispersants has not. Consequently, we have people, wildlife-we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that's what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really don't know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It's very dangerous, and it's an economic-it's an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.

Now, the one thing that I did want to mention to you, Amy, that's occurred in most investigations, back even in the Watergate days, people said, "follow the money." And that's correct. In this case, you've got to follow the money. Who saves money by using these toxic dispersants? Well, it's BP. But then the next question-I've only seen one article that describes it-who owns BP? And I think when you look and see who owns BP, you find that it's the majority ownership, a billion shares, is a company called BlackRock that was created, owned and run by a gentleman named Larry Fink. And Vanity Fair just did recently an article about Mr. Fink and his connections with Mr. Geithner, Mr. Summers and others in the administration. So I think what's needed, we now know that there's a cover-up. Dispersants are being used. Congress, at least three Congress folks-Congressman Markey, Congressman Nadler and Senator Mikulski-are on the case. And I think the media now has to follow the money, just as they did in Watergate, and tell the American people who's getting money for poisoning the millions of people in the Gulf.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Hugh Kaufman, who works at the Environmental Protection Agency. This is an issue we've brought up before, but it's an absolutely critical one, the issue of proprietary information of these companies, in particular, the ingredients of Corexit, even though 1.8 million pounds of it have been dumped into the Gulf. What's in Corexit? Do you know? What is EPA allowed to know, and what is the company allowed to keep private?

HUGH KAUFMAN: EPA has all the information on what's in-the ingredients are. The largest ingredient in Corexit is oil. But there are other materials. And when the ingredients are mixed with oil, the combination of Corexit or any dispersant and oil is more toxic than the oil itself. But EPA has all that information. That's a red herring issue being raised, that we have to somehow know more information. When you look at the label and you look at the toxicity sheets that come with it, the public knows enough to know that it's very dangerous. The National Academy of Science has done work on it. Toxicologists from Exxon that developed it have published on it. So, we know enough to know that it's very dangerous, and to say that we just have to know more about it is a red herring issue. We know plenty. It's very dangerous. And in fact, Congressman Nadler and Senator Lautenberg are working on legislation to ban it.

AMY GOODMAN: And I should correct myself: 1.8 million gallons, I think it is, of Corexit that's been dumped. Sharif?


HUGH KAUFMAN: Tha's correct, almost two million gallons of-yes, sir.


HUGH KAUFMAN: I'm sorry, I'm not-

SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: No, no, go ahead. The dispersant is-

HUGH KAUFMAN: I'm not hearing you, sir.

SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: These nearly two million gallons have been dispersed not only on the surface of the water, but also 5,000 feet below the water, as well. Can you talk about that?

HUGH KAUFMAN: Well, not only do you have airplanes flying and dropping them on the Gulf region, like Agent Orange in Vietnam, but a large amount of it is being shot into the water column at 5,000 feet to disperse the oil as it gushers out. And so, you have spread, according to the Associated Press, over perhaps over 44,000 square miles, an oil and dispersant mix. And what's happened is, that makes it impossible to skim the oil out of the water. One of the things that happened is they brought this big boat, Whale, in from Japan to get rid of the oil, and it didn't work because the majority of the oil is spread throughout the water column over thousands of square miles in the Gulf. And so-and there's been a lot of work to show the dispersants, which is true, make it more difficult to clean up the mess than if you didn't use them. The sole purpose in the Gulf for dispersants is to keep a cover-up going for BP to try to hide the volume of oil that has been released and save them hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of fines. That's the purpose of using the dispersants, not to protect the public health or environment. Quite the opposite.

AMY GOODMAN: You've made comparisons between Corexit, the use of Corexit and hiding BP's liability, and what happened at Ground Zero after the attacks of September 11th, Hugh Kaufman.

HUGH KAUFMAN: Yeah, I was one of the people who-well, I did. I did the ombudsman investigation on Ground Zero, where EPA made false statements about the safety of the air, which has since, of course, been proven to be false. Consequently, you have the heroes, the workers there, a large percentage of them are sick right now, not even ten years later, and most of them will die early because of respitory problems, cancer, etc., because of EPA's false statements.

And you've got the same thing going on in the Gulf, EPA administrators saying the same thing, that the air is safe and the water is safe. And the administrator misled Senator Mikulski on that issue in the hearings you talked about. And basically, the problem is dispersants mixed with oil and air pollution. EPA, like in 9/11-I did that investigation nine years ago-was not doing adequate and proper testing. Same thing with OSHA with the workers, they're using mostly BP's contractor. And BP's contractor for doing air testing is the company that's used by companies to prove they don't have a problem. If you remember the wallboard pollution problem from China, the wallboard from China, this company does that environmental monitoring. It's a massive cover-up. And so far, luckily, we have two members of Congress and one member of the Senate on the case. Hopefully more will join in.

SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: Let's go to a clip that's been circulating on the internet. It's from an investigation from WKRG News 5 into the toxicity levels of water and sand on public beaches around Mobile, Alabamba. One of the water samples collected near a boom at Dauphin Island Marina just exploded when mixed with an organic solvent separating the oil from the water. This is Bob Naman, the chemist who analyzed the sample, explaining why it might have exploded.

BOB NAMAN: We think that it most likely happened due to the presence of either methanol or methane gas or the presence of the dispersant Corexit.

SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: Hugh Kaufman, can you talk about this video clip?

HUGH KAUFMAN: Well, yes. I saw that when it first came out, I think on Sunday. And what they documented was that the water-you know, when you're on the sand with your children and they dig, and there's a little water?-they documented there was over 200 parts per million of oil waste in the water, and it's not noticeable to the human eye, that the children were playing with on the beach. On top of it, the contamination in one of the samples was so high that when they put the solvent in, as a first step in identifying how much oil may be in the water, the thing blew up, just as he said, probably because there was too much Corexit in that particular sample.

But what's funny about that is, on Thursday, the administrator of EPA, in answering Senator Mikulski's question at the hearing that you played the clip on, said that EPA has tested the water up to three miles out and onshore and found that it's safe. And then, a few days later, the television station in Pensacola and in Mobile document with their own limited testing that that statement was false, misleading and/or inaccurate by the administrator, under oath, to Senator Mikulski in that hearing.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: We want to also bring in Dahr Jamail. He's an independent journalist who's been reporting from the Gulf Coast for the past three weeks.

Dahr, you're joining us from Tampa, Florida, right now. You just drove along the Gulf Coast. But talk about this dispersant, as well. You wrote in article about the effect it had on you personally.

DAHR JAMAIL: Right. About a week and a half ago, my partner and I were down in Barataria talking with shrimpers and fishermen and people affected by the oil disaster. And literally within minutes of driving down there, the air was so chemically laden, you could smell and taste chemicals in the air. And immediately, our eyes began to burn. And everyone that we were talking with there, Tracy Kuhns with the shrimpers' union, Clint Guidry on the board of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, and their spouses and everyone else that we spoke with down there, everyone was complaining of different kinds of health problems-headaches, which, actually, again, within minutes, I personally was starting to experience that; shortness of breath; nausea-all kinds of different symptoms, which I then went home and started to educate myself on the immediate and then longer-term effects of the two Corexit dispersants being used and realized that myself and everyone that we spoke with down there were basically having onset of these symptoms, and people were suffering from it very much.

And another very disturbing thing that I saw down there was I met a charter fisherman named Gene Hickman, who showed me a video he had taken two days prior to my arrival there. He was outside of his house at night, and he had a video of, literally, crabs crawling out of the water at night onto his bulkhead to escape the water. And Tracy Kuhns, who I was also speaking with, said, "Look, we've been watching regularly these huge plumes of dispersant under the surface of the water coming into our canals, sometimes bubbling up to the surface. We've seen marine life fleeing from these." And there have been some reports of this happening throughout the Gulf. But then, I went down to Gene Hickman's house and then saw, just minutes after watching this video of crabs literally crawling out of the water trying to escape from the water, to see basically crabs floating belly up in the water, dead, all in his canal. There was sheen over the top of it, dead fish. And again, the stench of the chemicals was so intense that our eyes were watering.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail, your piece in Truthout is called "BP's Scheme to Swindle the 'Small People.'" What is that scheme?

DAHR JAMAIL: Right. Well, the scheme is-let's be really clear, Amy. We all know that context for news reporting is key. And Kenneth Feinberg, who is the Obama-appointed individual in charge of this $20 billion compensation fund for victims of the BP oil disaster, who is he being paid by? He is being paid by BP to do this job. When he was asked recently, just in the last forty-eight hours, how much he's being paid, he said, "That's between me and British Petroleum." So let's be-let's start right there.

And then, to move forward, this story came up because I was talking with Clint Guidry, who I just mentioned, and he was, like all the other fishermen, outraged by how this fund is being handled. And how it's being handled is that these people who join this so-called Vessels of Opportunity program, which are basically fishermen who are now completely put out of work, the shrimping and the fishing industry in Louisiana-and this is spreading across the coast along with the oil, as it travels across the coast-is completely shut down, so these people are forced in to do this work, going out skimming, putting out oil boom, other types of recovery efforts for BP, because it's literally the only way they can make a living now. And so, Feinberg then recently announces, last Friday, as you reported, that, "No, actually now all the money that you're earning, you folks in the Vessels for Opportunity program, any future compensation claims that you make, this money will be deducted from that claim."

And so, upon further investigation, it turns out there's a lawyer in Louisiana named Stephen Herman, and his firm, back on May 2nd, had an email correspondence with a law firm representing BP. And he questioned this very thing, because it had first come up way back at the beginning of this disaster when people were going and looking into joining the Vessels for Opportunity program, but before they could join, they were going to be asked to sign a waiver. Well, this was of course then brought-Stephen Herman brought this to the attention of the BP lawyer, questioned it, challenged it. And then the BP lawyer wrote back and said, "That is not going to happen. We're going to tear up those claims. We're not going to do that."

Stephen Herman also questioned BP's lawyer as to this very thing that we just saw Feinberg do, which was, "I want to make very clear," said Herman, "that any of this work, any of the payment for the work these folks do, will not later be taken out of claims that they may make for future compensation for loss of livelihood, etc." And he was told at that time in a response on May 3rd by BP's lawyer, "Absolutely, that will not happen. That is BP's stated position." And so, then we have Feinberg come out Monday, and every day since then, acting as basically a BP salesman trying to push this new agenda that you have to file your claim within a year, and then, once you do that, you'll get paid, and you will not file any further claims. And then, of course, any work that you've done in this Vessels for Opportunity program, any of that money will be deducted from any future claims. So this directly contradicts what BP said to Stephen Herman's law firm in New Orleans back on May 3rd. And again, we have Kenneth Feinberg running around, clearly accountable to BP, clearly working in the interests of BP, and as he's being accused by Clint Guidry and basically fishermen up and down the Gulf Coast at this point in the Vessels for Opportunity program, is that this a guy who's doing nothing but working to try to limit BP's long-term liability for this disaster.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail, we want to thank you very much for being with us, independent journalist. His latest piece in Truthout is called "BP's Scheme to Swindle the 'Small People.'" Special thanks to WEDU, PBS in Tampa. Florida, where he is speaking to us from. And Hugh Kaufman, senior policy analyst at the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, for joining us from Washington, DC. Of course, we will continue to cover the fallout of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


8) Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety
"Some workers also voiced concerns about poor equipment reliability, "which they believed was as a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance," according to the survey, one of two Transocean reports obtained by The New York Times."
July 21, 2010

WASHINGTON - A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems.

In the survey, commissioned by the rig's owner, Transocean, workers said that company plans were not carried out properly and that they "often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig."

Some workers also voiced concerns about poor equipment reliability, "which they believed was as a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance," according to the survey, one of two Transocean reports obtained by The New York Times.

"At nine years old, Deepwater Horizon has never been in dry dock," one worker told investigators. "We can only work around so much."

"Run it, break it, fix it," another worker said. "That's how they work."

According to a separate 112-page equipment assessment also commissioned by Transocean, many key components - including the blowout preventer rams and failsafe valves - had not been fully inspected since 2000, even though guidelines require inspection of the preventer every three to five years.

The report cited at least 26 components and systems on the rig that were in "bad" or "poor" condition.

A spokesman for Transocean, who confirmed the existence of the reports, wrote in an e-mail message that most of the 26 components on the rig found to be in poor condition were minor and that all elements of the blowout preventer had been inspected within the required time frame by its original manufacturer, Cameron. The spokesman, Lou Colasuonno, commenting on the 33-page report about workers' safety concerns, noted that the Deepwater Horizon had seven consecutive years without a single lost-time incident or major environmental event.

The two reports are likely to broaden the discussion of blame for the April 20 explosion, which killed 11 workers and led to the gusher on the seafloor that has been polluting the Gulf of Mexico for months.

Transocean has sought in federal court to limit its liability to $27 million under the limitation of liability act of 1851. Under the law, the limitation of liability is removed if the vessel owner acted negligently.

BP has been under the harshest glare for its role, but the Justice Department has said its criminal investigation of the disaster will look at the role of the many companies involved.

Together, these new reports paint a detailed picture of Transocean's upkeep of the rig, decision-making and its personnel.

BP was leasing the rig from Transocean, and 79 of the 126 people on the rig the day it exploded were Transocean employees.

The first report focused on the its "safety culture" and was conducted by a division of Lloyd's Register Group, a maritime and risk-management organization that dispatched two investigators to inspect the rig March 12 through 16. They conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with at least 40 Transocean workers.

The second report, on the status of the rig's equipment, was produced by four investigators from a separate division of Lloyd's Register Group, also on behalf of Transocean.

These investigators were scheduled to inspect the rig in April. While the report described workers' concerns about safety and fears of reprisals, it did say that the rig was "relatively strong in many of the core aspects of safety management." Workers believed teamwork on the rig was effective, and they were mostly worried about the reaction of managers off the rig.

"Almost everyone felt they could raise safety concerns and these issues would be acted upon if this was within the immediate control of the rig," said the report, which also found that more than 97 percent of workers felt encouraged to raise ideas for safety improvements and more than 90 percent felt encouraged to participate in safety-improvement initiatives.

But investigators also said, "It must be stated at this point, however, that the workforce felt that this level of influence was restricted to issues that could be resolved directly on the rig, and that they had little influence at Divisional or Corporate levels."

Only about half of the workers interviewed said they felt they could report actions leading to a potentially "risky" situation without reprisal.

"This fear was seen to be driven by decisions made in Houston, rather than those made by rig based leaders," the report said.

"I'm petrified of dropping anything from heights not because I'm afraid of hurting anyone (the area is barriered off), but because I'm afraid of getting fired," one worker wrote.

"The company is always using fear tactics," another worker said. "All these games and your mind gets tired."

Investigators also said "nearly everyone" among the workers they interviewed believed that Transocean's system for tracking health and safety issues on the rig was "counter productive."

Many workers entered fake data to try to circumvent the system, known as See, Think, Act, Reinforce, Track - or Start. As a result, the company's perception of safety on the rig was distorted, the report concluded.

Even though it was more than a month before the explosion, the rig's safety audit was conducted against the backdrop of what seems to have been a losing battle to control the well.

On the March visit, Lloyd's investigators reported "a high degree of focus and activity relating to well control issues," adding that "specialists were aboard the rig to conduct subsea explosions to help alleviate these well control issues."

The mechanical problems discovered by investigators found problems with the rig's ballast system that they said could directly affect the stability of the ship. They also concluded that at least one of the rig's mud pumps was in "bad condition."

The report also cited the rig's malfunctioning pressure gauge and leaking parts and faulted the decision by workers to use a type of sealant "proven to be a major cause of pump bearing failure."

Federal investigators have been focusing on the role that inadequate mud weight played in the blowout. Shortly before the explosion, workers on the rig replaced the heavy drilling mud with a lighter seawater. Drilling experts have speculated that having chosen a better mud weight could have prevented the disaster.

Transocean's equipment report also may shed new light on why the blowout preventer failed to stop the surging well, which is one of the biggest remaining mysteries of the disaster.

Federal investigators said Tuesday at a panel that continuing to drill despite problems related to the blowout preventer might have been a violation of federal regulations that require a work stoppage if the equipment is found not to work properly.

While the equipment report says the device's control panels were in fair condition, it also cites a range of problems, including a leaking door seal, a diaphragm on the purge air pump needing replacement and several error-response messages.

The device's annulars, which are large valves used to control wellbore fluids, also encountered "extraordinary difficulties" surrounding their maintenance, the report said.

Despite the problems, multiple pressure tests were taken of the blowout preventer's annulars and rams and the results were deemed "acceptable," the report said.

The two Transocean-commissioned reports obtained by The Times echo the findings of a maintenance audit conducted by BP in September 2009. But the Transocean-commissioned reports indicate that maintenance concerns existed just days before the explosion and the rig owner was aware of them. The 2009 BP audit found that Transocean had left 390 maintenance jobs undone, requiring more than 3,500 hours of work. The BP audit also referred to the amount of deferred work as "excessive."

Robbie Brown contributed reporting from New Orleans, and Griffin Palmer from New York.


9) Rig Worker Was Worried About Safety, Widow Says
"'From Day 1, he deemed this the 'well from hell,' Ms. Roshto told federal investigators at a hearing into the causes of the disaster. 'He said Mother Nature just didn't want to be drilled here.'"
July 22, 2010

KENNER, La. - The widow of a Deepwater Horizon worker who was killed in the oil rig explosion testified Thursday that her husband expressed grave concerns about dangerous work conditions before his death.

The widow, Natalie Roshto, said her husband, Shane Roshto, a 22-year-old roustabout for Transocean, and other workers felt pressure to continue drilling despite frequent equipment malfunctions and setbacks.

"From Day 1, he deemed this the 'well from hell,' " Ms. Roshto told federal investigators at a hearing into the causes of the disaster. "He said Mother Nature just didn't want to be drilled here."

Her testimony reinforced a growing perception that rig workers were concerned about personal safety standards on the rig, which caught fire on April 20, killing 11 men and triggering the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Ms. Roshto testified that her husband had not expressed similar concerns about other wells.

A confidential survey of rig workers conducted a month before the disaster showed that many were distressed about safety conditions and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems. The survey, commissioned by Transocean and obtained by The New York Times, reported that workers "often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig."

In testimony Thursday in this suburb of New Orleans, a BP official who supervised the Deepwater Horizon from shore said the rig had a variety of equipment problems in its final weeks. The official, A. John Guide, the well site leader, said workers were aware of a leak on a critical safety device called the blowout preventer. He said the leak was detected in February and March and was repaired, but the blowout preventer failed to activate after the explosion.

Earlier this week, another BP official testified to a separate leak with equipment connected to the blowout preventer.

Federal investigators pressed Mr. Guide about whether BP took shortcuts to save money. They noted that rig supervisors chose a potentially risky type of well casing over more traditional equipment, saving the company $7 million to $10 million.

"Is it true that decisions were made based on cost savings?" asked Jason Mathews, a member of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which is overseeing the hearings along with the Coast Guard.

"The culture is that safety is the priority," Mr. Guide said.

"Culture is one thing," said Hung Nguyen, the Coast Guard official who is chairman of the panel. Enforcement, he added, "is another thing."

Investigators noted that in one year, workers on the rig endured 15 accidents deemed "near hits," in which heavy equipment was dropped or other safety breaches occurred. And they questioned the decision to send workers back to shore without having them conduct a strength test of the cement in the well.

Ms. Roshto, the widow, who has also testified before Congressional investigators, urged the federal government to enforce safety regulations more rigorously.

"For our men to be there drilling and their lives to be put under business interests, that's what I want to stress," she said. "I don't think we need to make any more safety rules. I think they need to be implemented harder for our men who work out there."

Mr. Guide assigned blame for the safety problems on Transocean, the company that leased that rig to BP and employed most of its workers. "We had faith that Transocean was attempting to maintain a safe ship," he said.

Mr. Nguyen dismissed the answer as insufficient. "In the military, we often say hope is not a plan," he said. "It seems like faith is not a very good business decision here."


10) Alaska Wells Halted
July 22, 2010

ANCHORAGE (AP) - A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on leases off Alaska's northwest coast, saying the federal government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the drilling rights.

The 2008 lease sale brought in nearly $2.7 billion for 2.76 million acres of the Chukchi Sea.

The judge, Ralph R. Beistline of Federal District Court, said the Minerals Management Service had failed to analyze the effect of natural gas development and enjoined all activity pending more environmental reviews.

A unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC had hoped to drill three exploratory wells this summer. Those plans were halted when President Obama decided to delay offshore oil drilling in the Arctic until at least 2011.


11) Geese Return to Prospect Park. Sort Of.
July 22, 2010, 12:43 pm

The geese are back. Two weeks after the nearly complete extermination of the Canada goose population at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 28 geese have been seen meandering along the shore of the lake there.

It has been a slow but steady return. The day after nearly 400 geese from Prospect Park were corralled into crates and gassed to death, four geese were spotted on the lake. Unlike the geese that were caught by wildlife specialists, which were molting, those geese had their flight feathers, which might have helped them to escape.

In the ensuing weeks, out-of-town geese flew in, in groups of 6 to 16.

Ed Bahlman, a Brooklyn resident, counted 28 new geese with his partner, Anne-Katrin Titze, who counted waterfowl for the Department of Environmental Conservation in January.

"They look healthy - they definitely flew in," Mr. Bahlman said. "They had no fishing lines attached - no injuries like the ones before at Prospect Park Lake."


12) Drug War Statement Upstaged at AIDS Gathering
July 22, 2010

VIENNA - Some of the world's top AIDS experts issued a radical manifesto this week at the 18th International AIDS Conference: they declared the War on Drugs a 50-year-old failure and called for it to be abandoned.

No one heard.

Officially, the theme of this biannual AIDS meeting, the world's largest public health gathering, is the need to attack the rapidly growing epidemic among addicts in eastern Europe, Russia and Asia. It was held in Vienna because this city is the doorway to the East and, in this German-speaking country, all the conference signs are in English and Russian.

(In a lovely ironic touch, the conference hall is only a few steps from the Ferris wheel in the Orson Welles film noir classic set in post-war Vienna, "The Third Man." On it, a cynical dealer of counterfeit drugs tells his pursuer to look down at the people below and says: "Victims? Don't be melodramatic.... Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?")

But the organizers' efforts to get publicity for the Vienna Declaration, which calls for drug users to be spared arrest and offered clean needles, methadone and treatment if they have AIDS, have come to naught. Almost no one here talks about the war on drugs.

Instead, everyone is publicly worrying that the War on AIDS is falling apart. Donor money is evaporating in the recession, and it is looking likely that only about a third of the 33 million infected people in the world will have any hope of treatment.

Frustration is high. Speakers like Bill Gates were interrupted by demonstrators in Sherwood Forest green calling for a "Robin Hood tax" - a tiny fee on the $4 trillion in currency transactions made daily by banks and hedge funds that could raise billions for AIDS.

Many activists blame the Obama administration, which is shifting its priorities to mother-and-child health. The halls are decorated with posters comparing Mr. Obama unfavorably to George W. Bush. On Wednesday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticized Mr. Obama in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times.

In his speech here, former President Bill Clinton said Ambassador Eric Goosby, the administration's global AIDS coordinator, "ought to get some kind of Purple Heart for showing up."

However, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the United States still gives more than all other countries put together, accounting for 58 percent of contributions. Its donations are still going up slightly, while those from Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia are flat or falling.

Officials from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say they fear they will not come close to the $17 billion target they set for their next donors' meeting in September.

The other, more welcome, distraction has been the exciting results of a South African clinical trial in which a vaginal gel with an antiretroviral drug protected 40 percent of the women using it. This is the first good news about microbicides in decades of work. A gel women can use secretly has long been sought, since many men disdain condoms and many women want to get pregnant.

The Vienna Declaration is only the second time the International AIDS Society has issued such a document. The last was the 2000 Durban Declaration, which reaffirmed that H.I.V. was the cause of AIDS. It was a response to the government of South Africa, the conference's host, which at the time denied the virus caused disease and refused to buy medicine for its citizens.

Outside of Africa, almost a third of all H.I.V. infections stem from drug injection.

The declaration argues that arresting drug users forces them into hiding, which spreads the epidemic. It backs "science-based public health approaches" proven in clinical trials, which can include everything from clean needle swaps to 12-step recovery programs to methadone.

Dr. Evan Wood, an AIDS policy expert at the University of British Columbia and the chief author, cited Portugal's approach. According to a 2009 report by the libertarian Cato Institute, in the decade since Portugal legalized possession of up to 10 day's worth of any drug, including cocaine and heroin, its AIDS rate dropped by half, overdose deaths fell, many citizens sought treatment, drug use among young people fell and drug tourism did not develop. The institute called it "a resounding success."

The declaration is largely aimed at countries of the former Soviet Union. Russia, for example, is close to having one percent of its adult population infected.

Nonetheless, it forbids all methadone-type treatments, and the national health plan offers only abrupt detoxification, which has a high failure rate. The most frequent victims - prisoners and people not living in their assigned residence areas - are the least likely to get AIDS drugs, and activists say markups vastly inflate the prices of medications bought cheaply by foreign donors.

"The government says everything is fine, we're even donors to the Global Fund, but we don't have treatment, we don't even have prevention," said Aleksandra Volgina, the 31-year-old leader of Candle, a Russian AIDS organization based in St. Petersburg.

She has stayed off heroin thanks to a 12-step program her family paid for, she said, but every month she worries about whether the government pharmacy will have all three drugs she needs, and some of her friends have died for lack of them.

"What's going on in Russia is being silenced," she said. "You can't even knock on the health ministry's door."

Despite the quasi-Russian cast to the conference, no one from the Russian government attended, sponsors said.

Only two governments reacted to the declaration: Canada, which rejected it, and Georgia, whose First Lady signed it in a public ceremony. The tiny former Soviet republic has a history of brutal treatment of drug addicts, Dr. Wood said. But it also has taken to defying Russia, with which it fought a brief war in 2008.

In the large American delegation here, almost every top official refused to discuss the declaration. Finally, one government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he had just called the White House for guidance and was told no one had read it yet and there was no time to respond.

He did note that Dr. Goosby recently announced that countries getting American help to fight AIDS can use it to buy clean needles for addicts, which is a change from Bush administration policy.

The one exception to the official American silence was Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the normally low-profile director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who said she personally agreed with the declaration's premise.

"Addiction is a brain disease," she said. "I'm a scientist. The evidence unequivocally shows that criminalizing the drug abuser does not solve the problem. I'm very much against legalization of drugs or drug dealing. But I would not arrest a person addicted to drugs. I'd send them to treatment, not prison."

Asked if she feared being attacked by Congressional conservatives, she said: "I took this job because I want drug users to be recognized as people with a disease. If I don't speak about it, why even bother to gather the data?"


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