Tuesday, July 06, 2010





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 it...bw]


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




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

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

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

For updates, as well as a recap of the trial and links to news coverage:

Contact BAMN at 510-502-9072 for more info

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


JOIN US to Support Lynne Stewart

Save these Dates !!!!

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

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

July 15, 2010 : SENTENCING DAY
Sentencing is at 2:30pm, we will be there at 11am
Federal Courthouse
500 Pearl Street
Doors will open at 2pm

And check out this article (link) too!


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

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

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

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



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

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

Check our Websites:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United we can change the world!


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


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: http://groups.google.com/group/fallconferencesfsu




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


I Read Some Marx (And I Liked It)


BP Slick Covers Dolphins and Whales.mov


Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10



Georgia: Witnesses in Murder Case Recant
June 23, 2010

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


Two Pensacola Beach Scenes: Dying Baby Dolphin and Ocean "Water Bubbling "...Like It's Got Acid In It. God Help Us All"
For OpEdNews: theWeb - Writer
Two scenes from Pensacola--one of a dying baby dolphin, the other of water bubbling like there's acid in it.
A dying, oil-covered baby dolphin is taken from Pensacola waters. It died shortly after being discovered.




ROV films oil leak coming from rock cracks on seafloor.


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


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

Dear All:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours very truly,

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

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Please forward widely

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please write Lynne to express your love and solidarity:

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

In Solidarity,

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Roger Waters - "We Shall Overcome" for Gaza


Bernadette McAliskey Quote on Zionists:

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

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


Rachel Maddow: Disgraceful response to the oil itself


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


Gulf Oil Spill?

Dear Readers,

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

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

The two are inextricably entwined and interdependent.

--Bonnie Weinstein

*The black hole at the bottom of the Gulf
No one seems to know the extent of the BP disaster
By David Randall and Margareta Pagano
Sunday, 23 May 2010

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

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

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

Check out what BP does not want you to see. And please share this widely -- every American should see what's happening under the surface in the Gulf.

Live BP Gulf Oil Spill Webcam Video Reveals 5 Leaks

Stop Shell Oil's Offshore Drilling Plans in the Arctic

Sign the Petition to Ban Offshore Drilling Now!



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God gave us this land.
A land without a people for a people without a land.
Greta Berlin, Co-Founder
+357 99 18 72 75


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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

BP's Unmitigated Greed

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

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

BP's Materially False and Misleading Statements

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

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

Protecting BP's Super-Profits

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

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

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

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

Take Action Now

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

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


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


Operation Small Axe - Trailer


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal



Lynne Stewart in Jail!

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



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

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

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


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

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

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

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


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

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

This hearing is the first step.

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


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


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO


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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity!


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

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

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

4) And It's One, Two, Three, What Are We Fighting For?
by Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Thursday 01 July 2010

5) Is BP rejecting skimmers to save money on Gulf oil cleanup?
Anita Lee | Biloxi Sun-Herald
last updated: July 02, 2010 07:40:29 PM

6) Oil found in Gulf crabs raises new food chain fears
Geoff Pender | Biloxi Sun Herald
last updated: July 01, 2010 07:49:58 PM

7) BP's New Cover-Up Revealed
Posted By Shannyn Moore
July 1, 2010

8) War in Iraq Defies U.S. Timetable for End of Combat
July 2, 2010

9) In a Refuge Haunted by Katrina, BP Swirls In
July 2, 2010

10) Dispersants flow into Gulf in 'science experiment'
By Ed Lavandera, CNN
July 2, 2010

11) BP, Government Blocking Press from Reporting Their "Ballet at Sea"
By Kevin Gosztola
July 3, 2010

12) As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Subsidies
"The flow of revenues to oil companies is like the gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico: heavy and constant,' said Senator Robert Menendez..."
[This is an extremely important and fact-filled article...bw]
July 3, 2010

13) Where BP's Money Is Landing
[The filthy pigs know that the longer they take to pay out, the less it will cost them in the end--if there ever is an end to this corporate/Government-made catastrophe...bw]
July 2, 2010

14) Appeals Court Sides With Detainee
July 3, 2010

15) A Market Forecast That Says 'Take Cover'
July 2, 2010

16) BP Wants Partners to Help Shoulder Spill Cost
July 4, 2010

17) Troubling reason for drop in unemployment rate: People exiting work force
The unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent in June, an improvement over May's 9.7 percent. But the reason is that job seekers are giving up because the competition is so fierce for each open position.
By Mark Trumbull, Staff writer
July 2, 2010

18) Israel Grows Uneasy Over Reliance on Migrant Labor
July 4, 2010

19) Fending For Themselves
By Dahr Jamail
July 5, 2010

20) It's not just BP's oil in the Gulf that threatens world's oceans
Les Blumenthal
McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: July 06, 2010 11:59:20 AM

21) An Easy Call
"As Al Baker reported in The Times two months ago, black and Latino New Yorkers were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in 2009. But once stopped, they were no more likely than whites to actually be arrested."
July 5, 2010

22) New Charges for Soldier Accused of Leaking Video
"An Army soldier in Iraq who was arrested for leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced on Tuesday."
July 6, 2010

23) Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank
July 5, 2010

24) Calls to Update Maritime Laws
"Under current law, recoveries for those who die at sea - be it on a rig or a cruise ship - can be limited to funeral expenses."
July 5, 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show your love!

--(c) '10 maj

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

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at: http://www.prisonradio.org


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

Mumia Abu-Jamal's new book -- JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V. THE USA, featuring an introduction by Angela Y. Davis -- has been released! It is available from City Lights Books: http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100448090

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


Please mail donations/ checks to:
NY 10030

215 476-8812

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

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


Subscribe: mumiacolumns-subscribe@topica.com
Read: http://topica.com/lists/mumiacolumns/read
Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing


4) And It's One, Two, Three, What Are We Fighting For?
by Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Thursday 01 July 2010

It was 1967, and the world was on fire. War at home and abroad demonstrably began to rear its head, and long-held American values of moral exceptionalism and widespread prosperity were rapidly destabilizing. A Democratic president escalated warfare half a world away, and the generals offered red-herring rationales about resource control and the necessity of finishing the job in order to defeat evil.

Also that year, a large petroleum company named BP positioned itself as a global leader in overseas oil production, with its national sponsors
specifically taking measures "to inhibit undue governmental interference in the international oil trade." Meanwhile, Israel exerted its control over Gaza following the Six-Day War, with its actions being endorsed by the US even as many others decried them as violating international law.

BP, Israel and the war machine all operating with impunity: what year were we talking about, again? Indeed, the more things change ... and the rest, as they say, is history. Or actually, the rest is the present, and - unless we work to break the cycle - likely the future as well. As George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." To which we might add, "quite literally."

In that fateful year of 1967, Country Joe and the Fish immortalized the utility of the anti-war rag with a song that barely needs updating to fit today's news cycle:

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in [Afghanistan]
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.
And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop [Afghanistan.]

Speculating on possible answers to their own musical query about the reasons for war, Joe, et al. continued their ditty by casting a gaze upon certain likely suspects:

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last....
Well, come on Wall Street, don't move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade.

Today, it gets even better than that. In addition to greasing the skids of military contracting, it turns out that Afghanistan is potentially resource-rich to the tune of up to one, two, three trillion dollars, including certain minerals that are mostly precious to the workings of the digital age and that could render Afghanistan "the Saudi Arabia of lithium" according to intentionally leaked Pentagon memos. As David Sirota notes, there's nothing new about this knowledge of Afghan treasures, but the more important point is the naked assertion of "resource control" as an unabashed national interest sufficient to legitimately deploy the armed forces apparatus. In this lexicon, "war for oil" moves from being a peace placard to becoming a military mantra.

Still, there's nothing new about this turn of events, either. Upon invading Iraq, we were told that the exploitation of oil resources there could make the war essentially "pay for itself" - as if that would somehow overcome objections and justify the bloodbath. In 2008, as documented by Dr. Tom Clonan in The Irish Times, the US Army published a document outlining its modernization strategy, boldly asserting a vision of "perpetual warfare over dwindling resources" for the foreseeable future:

"We have entered an era of persistent conflict ... a security environment much more ambiguous and unpredictable than that faced during the cold war .... We face a potential return to traditional security threats posed by emerging near-peers as we compete globally for depleting natural resources and overseas markets."

Regarding Afghanistan, the revisionist invocation of "resource control" as a justification for the necessity of war actually utters a truth long understood by analysts and scholars. At root, warfare is always about resources despite oftentimes being couched in terms of human liberation or national defense. The baseline economic function of militarism is apparent in our federal budgeting process and the sheer scope of the enterprise. It is often said that "war is a continuation of politics by other means," yet, perhaps more to the point is that it serves as a continuation of the economy by similar means, as Thomas Friedman observed in "The Lexus and the Olive Tree":

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas.... And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."

It is of no moment if we spend more to wage a war than the potential resource return on our investment might yield, since the same basic interests make out just fine on both the expenditure and recompense side of the equation. Capitalism and militarism are inextricably intertwined, as Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler famously wrote in 1935:

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.... I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."

Butler's exegesis of war is remarkably prescient and unfortunately still spot on. Could you imagine the implications if General Petraeus were to offer such remarks today? Then again, the Pentagon basically admits as much in its protean rationale for continuing the Afghan war on the basis of "hidden treasures untold" and "resource control as essential to national security." Yes, war and the economy are inherently linked - and both are shrilly performing about as well these days. When Butler described war as a "racket," he, thus, might also have used that word in another sense, namely as a cacophony that drowns out good sense and meaningful discussion alike.

Alas, from 1935 to 1967 to 2010, it's one, two, three "war au-go-go" ... and the song (more like a dirge at this point) sadly remains the same.


5) Is BP rejecting skimmers to save money on Gulf oil cleanup?
Anita Lee | Biloxi Sun-Herald
last updated: July 02, 2010 07:40:29 PM

BILOXI, Miss. - From Washington to the Gulf, politicians and residents wonder why so few skimming vessels have been put to work soaking up oil from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

Investment banker Fred D. McCallister of Dallas believes he has the answer. McCallister, vice president of Allegiance Capital Corp. in Dallas, has been trying since June 5 to offer a dozen Greek skimming vessels from a client for the cleanup.

"By sinking and dispersing the oil, BP can amortize the cost of the cleanup over the next 15 years or so, as tar balls continue to roll up on the beaches, rather than dealing with the issue now by removing the oil from the water with the proper equipment," McCallister testified earlier this week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. "As a financial adviser, I understand financial engineering and BP's desire to stretch out its costs of remediating the oil spill in the Gulf. By managing the cleanup over a period of many years, BP is able to minimize the financial damage as opposed to a huge expenditure in a period of a few years."

A BP spokesman from Houston, Daren Beaudo, denied the allegation emphatically. He said, "Our goal throughout has been to minimize the amount of oil entering the environment and impacting the shoreline."

A report released Thursday by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform included a photo depicting "a massive swath of oil" in the Gulf with no skimming equipment in sight. The report concluded: "The lack of equipment at the scene of the spill is shocking, and appears to reflect what some describe as a strategy of cleaning up oil once it comes ashore versus containing the spill and cleaning it up in the ocean."

McCallister's experience in trying to win approval for the Greek vessels, along with the frustrations others have expressed in offering specialized equipment, contradicts the official pronouncements from BP and the federal government about the approval process. For foreign vessels, that process is complicated by a 1920 maritime law known as the Jones Act.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. James Watson, who oversees the Unified Command catastrophe response in New Orleans, determined in mid-June an insufficient number of U.S. skimming vessels is available to clean up oil, essentially exempting from the federal Jones Act foreign vessels that could be used in the response, said Capt. Ron LaBrec, a spokesman at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington.

The Jones Act allows only vessels that are U.S. flagged and owned to carry goods between U.S. ports.

To further clarify, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, promised expedited Jones Act waivers for any essential spill-response activities. "Should any waivers be needed," Allen said at the time, "we are prepared to process them as quickly as possible to allow vital spill response activities being undertaken by foreign-flagged vessels to continue without delay."

LaBrec said 24 foreign vessels, two of them skimming vessels, have operated around the catastrophe site, in federal waters with no need for Jones Act waivers. He also said Watson has the authority to approve operation of foreign-flagged vessels near shore, where the Jones Act comes into play because of the port restrictions.

Fred D. McCallister, Vice President, Allegiance Capital Corporation

"If the unified area commander (Watson) decides that it's a piece of equipment he needs, either BP would contract for it or he can do that himself," LaBrec said. "If it's something he decides is absolutely needed, he can get it in here without BP approval.

"The equipment that has been offered - the foreign equipment that has been offered that is useful for the response - has either been accepted or is in the group of offers that is currently in the process of being accepted. That has been occurring since early in the response and will continue to occur."

Dealing with BP

McCallister said none of his dealings have been with the Coast Guard. He submitted requests for Jones Act waivers to Unified Command, but said questions about the skimming vessels have come from BP.

BP spokesman Beaudo said McCallister was notified his offer of skimming vessels has been declined because the vessels will not pick up heavy oil near shore. Beaudo said he did not know when McCallister was informed. McCallister said he received communications from BP on Thursday that indicated his proposal was still under review. In fact, he sent supplemental material Thursday, which was accepted, to show the skimming vessels will pick up heavy oil like that bombarding Mississippi's coastline. The 60-foot vessels, he said, can skim high-density crude up to 20 miles offshore. Equipment on board separates the oil from water.

Desperate for skimmers

All the Gulf states dealing with oil have pleaded for more skimming vessels. The Deepwater Horizon Web site indicates 550 "skimmers" were at work before bad weather suspended operations.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's office has ordered private shipyards to build skimming vessels because so few have been working in state waters. George Malvaney, who heads the Mississippi Coast cleanup effort for BP subcontractor U.S. Environmental Services, said offers of skimming vessels and other equipment take time to review. He believes Mississippi will have a "substantial skimming effort" by late next week.

"Just because it's a skimmer doesn't mean it's effective," Malvaney said. "There's a lot of people out there saying, 'We've got skimmers.' Some are effective, some are not. That's what we're trying to wade through right now."

More than meets the eye?

As the catastrophe reaches Day 73, McCallister, who grew up in Mississippi and has family on the Coast, believes there is just more to it.

"Looking at it from a businessman's perspective," he said, "if I am BP, assuming I don't have a conscience that would steer me otherwise, the best thing I can do for my shareholders, my pensioners, and everybody else, is to try to spread the cost of this remediation out as long as I can.

"I am concerned it is seen by BP as being the most pragmatic financial approach. But they're playing Russian roulette with the Gulf, the marine life in the Gulf and the people in the Gulf region."


6) Oil found in Gulf crabs raises new food chain fears
Geoff Pender | Biloxi Sun Herald
last updated: July 01, 2010 07:49:58 PM

BILOXI, Miss. - University scientists have spotted the first indications oil is entering the Gulf seafood chain - in crab larvae - and one expert warns the effect on fisheries could last "years, probably not a matter of months" and affect many species.

Scientists with the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane University in New Orleans have found droplets of oil in the larvae of blue crabs and fiddler crabs sampled from Louisiana to Pensacola, Fla. The news comes as blobs of oil and tar continue to wash ashore in Mississippi in patches, with crews in chartreuse vests out cleaning beaches all along the coast on Thursday, and as state and federal fisheries from Louisiana to Florida are closed by the BP oil disaster.

"I think we will see this enter the food chain in a lot of ways - for plankton feeders, like menhaden, they are going to just actively take it in," said Harriet Perry, director of the Center for Fisheries Research and Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. "Fish are going to feed on (crab larvae). We have also just started seeing it on the fins of small, larval fish - their fins were encased in oil. That limits their mobility, so that makes them easy prey for other species. The oil's going to get into the food chain in a lot of ways."

Perry said researchers have not yet linked the hydrocarbons found in the crab larvae to the BP disaster, but she has little doubt it's the source. She said she has never seen such contamination in her 42 years of studying blue crab.

Richard Gollott is Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources commissioner for the commercial seafood industry and a seafood processing-plant owner from a family that's been in the business for generations. He said closure of Gulf fisheries "appears to have been the right thing to do."

"We are taking a beating with this," Gollott said. "But we would rather have our industry have a season closed down for a year or even two years rather than get a bad name. We have to take the long-term view. The worst thing in the world would be to take a short-term look at this and not be worried about the public, the consumers."

Gollott said he is still hopeful Gulf seafood can make a quick recovery, in "months instead of years," and be safe and plentiful. He said right now the only Gulf seafood he's supplying is coming from Texas, where fisheries are still clear and open.

"You've got to be optimistic to be a fisherman," Gollott said. "As quick as we can get our scientific facts and ducks in order, get FDA to check everything from Florida to Texas and make sure it's OK, I think we will get our market share back. But that will take some marketing and some work."

DMR Director Bill Walker said Thursday he was unaware of the USM-Tulane findings. He said DMR biologists continue to test the meat of shrimp and other edible species and have "not gotten any positive hits" for oil.

"But we are just testing the edible tissue, for public health," Walker said. "The more-academic research is looking at other parts of these critters. Sometimes materials will concentrate in the more oily tissue, but not make its way to the edible tissue."

Perry said the oil found in the crab larvae appears to be trapped between the hard outer shell and the inner skin. Perry said, "Shrimp, crab and oysters have a tough time with hydrocarbon metabolism." She said fish that eat these smaller species can metabolize the oil, but their bodies also accumulate it with continued exposure and they can suffer reproductive problems "added to a long list of other problems."

BP-contracted crews cleaned tar balls and patches from mainland beaches on Thursday. Walker said there are reports of oil or tar on or near all the barrier islands, although still in relatively small, isolated patches - "small in the sense of up to several hundred yards at a stretch," Walker said.

Harrison County Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy said storms the last few days "shook (tar pieces) up, shifted them around," but cleanup workers "are doing what they need to do," and getting beaches cleaned.

"Until they can get that well capped off and they get those big skimmers out there and really get into the skimming operations, we're going to see the remnants of this," Lacy said. "This is not a sprint; it's a marathon."

Perry said scientists are having to learn as they go along with the BP oil disaster.

"We can go to literature and get information on other spills," Perry said. "But this is not the same oil, this is not the same spill, this is not the same area and these are not the same species. Plus, the use of dispersant in the amounts they've used is totally unprecedented. So this is taking scientists a while to get up to speed and realize the enormity of it."

As not only a marine scientist but a longtime Coast resident, Perry said the enormity of the disaster gets to her personally sometimes.

"I had a sort of breakdown last week," Perry said. "I've driven down the same road on East Beach in Ocean Springs for 42 years. As I was going to work, I saw the shrimp fleet going out, all going to try to work on the oil, and I realized the utter futility of that, and I just lost it for a minute and had to gather myself.

"When you think about it all, how this has changed everybody's life and how life here revolves around the water and the beach and the seafood - just even going to get a shrimp po-boy - it's just overwhelming. I think a hurricane is easy compared to this.

"Let's just hope and pray first that they get the well capped, then secondly that they keep it from getting inshore into our marshes."


7) BP's New Cover-Up Revealed
Posted By Shannyn Moore
July 1, 2010

Cross-posted from Shannyn Moore's website and via The Mudflats.

We're getting reports from the gulf that BP is involved in another cover-up - in the literal meaning.

BP is trucking in sand to cover up the oil. Let me repeat that - instead of cleaning up the oil they are just bringing in sand from other beaches and covering it up. In the photos and the video you can see the layering of Grand Isle, LA sand, oil and then a sand of a different type. Photo-journalists have four independent confirmations by local Sheriff's in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

CS Muncy, a freelance photo-journalist from New York has gone down to report the story on his own dime. He's a friend of The Mudflats and has sent us these photos to get the word out. We're asking you to support his work, you can donate through PayPal to OilSpillStory@gmail.com - Click the link here.

Video by Save Our Shores's Judson Parker

In an interview Wednesday with journalist Allison Kilkenny, Muncy said he "went down onto the beaches, and we started inspecting them. There were tar balls, tar residue, and there was some oil on the beach. Apparently, the day before there was a lot of tar balls, and BP was working in the area pretty heavily, and we started noticing there was a different consistency in the sand."

Muncy added:

Closer to shore, there was this grainy, very rough shell-filled sand, and then you could see almost like a border where it just spilled over onto the beach sand, which is a very fine-grained sand. And it looked as if it was dumped. I mean, you could dig a few inches down, and you could see that it was a different type of sand beneath that, you know, without all the shell and grit, and what not. It looked very much like that. Our first assumption was, yeah, that they were dumping sand to cover up the tar balls.

You know, when I first said that...to me, it sounded conspiratorial - more so than I usually think. But then, soon after, we were stopped by some local sheriffs - actually, scratch that, they weren't local sheriff - they were working for the local sheriff, but these guys were bussed in from... (C.S. asks Judson if he remembers where they were bussed in from) ...from Jefferson Parish - from way up north - he was a city guy, and there were two of them that stopped us, and they weren't unpleasant about it - they weren't mean - but we could hear them talking on the radio, and their job was to run us off. So they told us, no more pictures - at least no more pictures of them. In fact, they stopped me from going out onto the beach a little bit further, and taking more pictures. But, you know, we got to talking with the guy, one of them, and he said, 'Yeah, they came here, and just dumped a bunch of sand on the beach.' They were just shoveling it on.

We could see the erosion and where the tar still was, and there was a total separate point from where the sand was dumped on.

UPDATE: The Times-Picayune reported Thursday that the Coast Guard "has put new restrictions in place across the Gulf Coast that prevent the public - including news photographers and reporters covering the BP oil spill - from coming within 65 feet of any response vessels or booms on the water or on beaches.

According to a news release from the Unified Command, violation of the "safety zone" rules can result in a civil penalty of up to $40,000, and could be classified as a Class D felony. Because booms are often placed more than 40 feet on the outside of islands or marsh grasses, the 65-foot rule could make it difficult to photograph and document the impacts of oil on land and wildlife, media representatives said.


8) War in Iraq Defies U.S. Timetable for End of Combat
July 2, 2010

NEAR TULUL AL-BAQ, Iraq - President Obama has set an August deadline for the end of the combat mission in Iraq. Here at this makeshift desert camp in the insurgent badlands of northern Iraq, a mission is under way that is not going to stop then: American soldiers hunting terrorists and covertly watching an Iraqi checkpoint staffed by police officers whom the soldiers say they do not trust.

"They're not checking anybody, and they're wondering why I.E.D.'s are getting in to town," said Staff Sgt. Kelly E. Young, 39, from Albertville, Ala., as he watched the major roadway that connects Baghdad with Mosul, regarded as the country's most dangerous city. He referred to improvised explosive devices, the military term for homemade bombs.

The August deadline might be seen back home as a milestone in the fulfillment of President Obama's promise to end the war in Iraq, but here it is more complex. American soldiers still find and kill enemy fighters, on their own and in partnership with Iraqi security forces, and will continue to do so after the official end of combat operations. More Americans are certain to die, if significantly fewer than in the height of fighting here.

The withdrawal, which will reduce the number of American troops to 50,000 - from 112,000 earlier this year and close to 165,000 at the height of the surge - is a feat of logistics that has been called the biggest movement of matériel since World War II. It is also an exercise in semantics.

What soldiers today would call combat operations - hunting insurgents, joint raids between Iraqi security forces and United States Special Forces to kill or arrest militants - will be called "stability operations." Post-reduction, the United States military says the focus will be on advising and training Iraqi soldiers, providing security for civilian reconstruction teams and joint counterterrorism missions.

"In practical terms, nothing will change," said Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, the top American military spokesman in Iraq. "We are already doing stability operations." Americans ceased major combat in Iraq long ago, and that has been reflected in the number of casualties. So far this year, 14 soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, and 27 more from accidents, suicides and other noncombat causes, according to icasualties.org.

As fighting involving Americans tapered off, thousands of items of Iraq war matériel were packed and shipped to Afghanistan. The complex and flexible mission of cutting down forces while simultaneously keeping up the fight with a festering insurgency could prove a model for Afghanistan, where withdrawal is scheduled to begin next year. Next summer, the Americans will begin to leave Afghanistan, too, and they probably won't be able to halt fighting completely as they do so.

Beyond August the next Iraq deadline is the end of 2011, when all American troops are supposed to be gone. But few believe that America's military involvement in Iraq will end then. The conventional wisdom among military officers, diplomats and Iraqi officials is that after a new government is formed, talks will begin about a longer-term American troop presence.

"I like to say that in Iraq, the only thing Americans know for certain, is that we know nothing for certain," said Brett H. McGurk, a former National Security Council official in Iraq and current fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The exception is what's coming once there's a new government: they will ask to amend the Security Agreement and extend the 2011 date. We should take that request seriously. "

The mission here in the desert, a temporary base of armored vehicles and one tent for two platoons, provided a vivid example of what American forces still do on the ground and, military officers said, would be able to do after the reduction.

"They needed someone killed, so they sent us," said Maj. Bryan L. Logan, squadron operations officer for the Third Squadron, Seventh Cavalry Regiment, referring to an insurgent cell that had been planting bombs near the highway.

Iraqi security forces were not present or informed of the mission, a seeming contravention of the emphasis from commanders that operations be conducted jointly, and at the request of the Iraqis. Lt. Col. Michael Jason, the brigade operations officer for the Third Infantry Division's Second Brigade, said that the operation was unusual because it didn't "have an Iraqi face."

The operation was justified by a liberal interpretation of the security agreement that allows unilateral operations to protect American forces, or, in Colonel Jason's words, to address "unique American problem sets."

"That's what they are doing," he said, referring to his soldiers.

For the troops living in the desert, it was a return to the soldiering life many hadn't experienced since earlier in the war or during training back home: eating Meals Ready to Eat, or M.R.E.'s; sleeping on top of vehicles or on the ground; firing artillery, albeit nonlethal, illuminated rounds to remind insurgents that Americans are still here.

The legacy of the United States' seven-year war here will partly pivot on how well the Iraqi police and army secure the country after the Americans are gone. American military officers praise the rising capability of the Iraqi security forces - especially in securing the country for the parliamentary elections in March. But questions of loyalty that arose during the sectarian warfare of 2006 and 2007 remain.

So as some soldiers in the desert hunted for insurgents, others felt they needed make sure that Iraqis at the checkpoint to Mosul were actually doing their jobs and stopping and searching vehicles. In Mosul, suicide attacks still regularly inflict damage.

The unit did not find the insurgents. But another unit close by found three of them laying a bomb. Days later, officers watched a video taken from the gunsight of an attack helicopter that killed the insurgents with a Hellfire missile.

In the closing window of the American war here, commanders are still trying to kill as many militants as possible, because they say it keeps American forces and Iraqis safer. But in doing so, the United States military command sometimes plays down the American role in the killing.

Almost daily, press releases are issued that announce the killing or capture of terrorists by the Iraqi security forces, usually noting the involvement of "U.S. advisers." Sometimes credit is not given when American soldiers kill militants.

In April, the third-ranking member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was killed by Iraqi forces, according to a press release. But officers on the ground said he was killed by fire from an American Bradley Fighting Vehicle. And no press release has been issued about the three insurgents who were recently killed by the American Hellfire missile.

As the soldiers were packing up the desert camp, Major Logan, who saw combat in Iraq in 2003, stood watching and quoted Robert Duvall from a movie about another American war, Vietnam, one that ended badly: "Someday this war is going to end."


9) In a Refuge Haunted by Katrina, BP Swirls In
July 2, 2010

There stands a building on Aycock Street through which the recent troubles of St. Bernard Parish continue to flow. All the grief and all the hope and all the miseries borne by water run through this unassuming rectangle of window and brick.

The two-story structure was once a parochial school, and the touchstone for a neighborhood boy, long ago. Then Hurricane Katrina filled it halfway with water. Then it became a time-frozen reflection of the surrounding emptiness. Then it became Camp Hope, where volunteers spent their nights after working to restore pockets of St. Bernard, as much as could be done with lawnmowers and drywall.

Now the building has a new purpose. BP, the energy behemoth, is spending an estimated $600,000 to renovate it into a carpeted, air-conditioned dormitory where more than 300 workers can sleep after long days of helping to clean up BP's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - a spill that has tainted the waters of this coastal parish, still grappling with its last calamity.

As a result, an air of premature transference has filled the building on Aycock Street. In its cafeteria, BP-hired construction workers have been eating lunch beside Hurricane Katrina volunteers. Then the BP workers have gone back to their renovations, while the volunteers have returned to toil in vacated, damaged houses, often just down the street.

All the while, a heavyset white-haired man with bad knees has taken in the awkwardness unfolding on the terrazzo floors. His name is Mark Madary, and he has many titles and functions: acting director of Camp Hope; real estate investor; former councilman; champion of the community; graduate of this parochial school; child of Arabi.

Mr. Madary, 58, can look across the cafeteria and remember his grammar school crushes, and he can look across the street and imagine the houses that once stood on those grassy lots. Now here comes BP to renovate his old school, motivated more by guilt and necessity than by charity, but promising to leave behind an asset to the community.

"I have mixed feelings," says Mr. Madary, whose eyes well if he lingers too long on certain subjects. "I am a realist when it comes to the damage. I am living proof that anything floats."

Mr. Madary was a young boy when he first walked into this building. Back then it was the brand-new parochial school for St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church in Arabi, a community on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River that was shedding its colorful past as a slaughterhouse center and gambling town.

He remembers when the church and school were renamed St. Louise de Marillac. He remembers every teacher, from Miss Chastant to Sister Angelina. He remembers the girls he admired from afar, Ramona and Thais. On that cafeteria stage, he sang "You Are My Sunshine." Down those steps, he carried a girl who was having an epileptic seizure, while a nun followed behind, warning him not to drop her.

He remembers Hurricane Betsy in 1965, when hundreds of people were rescued from the roof of this building by boat and helicopter. Most of all, he remembers the vibrancy of the neighborhood. "A glut of people, of first-time homeowners," he says. "Your playgrounds and schools were bursting at the time."

Mr. Madary grew up, ran restaurants, bought and sold property, and became a councilman in St. Bernard Parish, just in time for the 2005 hurricane and flood that spared only five of the parish's 27,000 homes. Arabi was all but destroyed; if you look up in the corner of the building's cafeteria, maybe 14 feet up, you will see the flood line.

Like so many people here, he has nightmarish stories of the hurricane and its aftermath, stories made no less horrifying by their familiarity: from praying on a rooftop as the waters rose to seeing the fear in the eyes of the old and infirm as they were evacuated to who knows where. His voice trembles in the telling, nearly five years later.

And, like so many people here in St. Bernard - which has about two-thirds of its pre-Katrina population of 66,000 - Mr. Madary has dedicated himself to rebuilding his neighborhood. Since losing a race for state representative, he has bought, rehabilitated and sold several buildings in Arabi, and is working on another.

Still, the sense of absence pervades. The Archdiocese of New Orleans canonically closed St. Louise de Marillac Church two years ago, then tore it down last year, along with a portion of the old parochial school. Sarah McDonald, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, says that after the hurricane, "there were not enough people to support the parish."

The archdiocese eventually leased this remaining building to St. Bernard Parish, which opened it in January as a volunteer base called Camp Hope 3, the successor to two other facilities that sheltered volunteers who came to the region to help rebuild. Since it opened, more than 3,000 volunteers from colleges, church groups and nonprofit organizations have paid $25 a day for the privilege of eating and sleeping in an old school building with spare amenities.

Two months ago, Mr. Madary assumed the unpaid position of interim camp director, and he has slept some nights in a glorified storage room next to the old custodian's office. He becomes emotional when talking of the sacrifices made by these visitors, the young and the not-so, who will be housed in a local motel while BP is in town. He points to ceiling tiles in the cafeteria that some volunteer groups have painted to commemorate their time together. "HOODAT!" one reads, from a group of University of Virginia students. "Katie, Rachel, Kevin, Derek...."

Now, beneath the artwork of those who bonded over the Hurricane Katrina recovery, BP workers prepare to move in. They have installed a gleaming chain-link fence around the property, lugged in new washers and dryers and made headway on a separate dormitory for women.

Upstairs, in the old classroom - once the domain of Sister Angelina and others - hundreds of new bunk beds have been assembled, all with just-unwrapped linens and blankets and pillows. Some stand a few inches from chalkboards that bear no chalk marks.

The first wave of BP workers, as many as 120, are expected to move in this weekend. Most will be working on land, loading boom and decontaminating boom. All will be required to follow strict house rules: lights out at 10 p.m.; no pedestrian traffic to and from camp; random drug testing; zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol.

Someday, BP will return to Arabi a building that is newly restored and available again to house Katrina volunteers, or even to serve as an evacuation site for the next emergency. "It's going to be a very positive leave-behind for the community," says Hank Garcia, a BP spokesman.

When that will be, no one knows. Three months? Six? The only certainty is that when BP finally does leave the building on Aycock Street, Katrina will still be waiting.


10) Dispersants flow into Gulf in 'science experiment'
By Ed Lavandera, CNN
July 2, 2010


* Chemical dispersants keep flowing at virtually unchanged levels
* EPA directive says level should be cut by 75 percent
* CNN analysis shows flow down by 9 percent per day
* Dispersant use called "science experiment"

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- Chemical dispersants keep flowing into the Gulf of Mexico at virtually unchanged levels despite the Environmental Protection Agency's order to BP to "significantly" scale back, according to a CNN analysis of daily dispersant reports provided by the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command.

When the May 26 directive was issued, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said dispersant use should be cut by 75 percent.

Public statements at the time made by the EPA administrator gave the impression that federal officials were trying to cut down overall dispersant use.

"We expect to see a substantial reduction in the overall amount of dispersant used," Jackson said in May.

Before May 26, BP used 25,689 gallons a day of the chemical dispersant Corexit. Since then, CNN's analysis shows, the daily average of dispersant use has dropped to 23,250 gallons a day, a 9 percent decline.

Gulf Coast environmentalists say it's another sign that the federal agencies monitoring dispersant use are not being tough enough with BP.

"I think the EPA has been struggling to respond to this crisis," said Aaron Viles with the Gulf Restoration Network. "It's all really a giant science experiment and we're terribly concerned that in the long run the impacts are going to be significant and we really don't know what we're doing to the ecosystem."

But the EPA argues it deserves credit for getting alarming dispersant use under control. The directive states that BP must ramp down dispersant use by "75 percent from the maximum daily amount used."

And that's the catch. The highest recorded amount of dispersant used occurred on May 23, when 70,000 gallons were injected into the Gulf of Mexico. EPA officials say they feared that number would have become the norm and that's why, they say, the directive was issued.

"This escalation was quickly reversed, ensuring BP only uses the lowest volume of dispersant needed," said Adora Andy, a spokeswoman for the EPA.

But even by the EPA's own standards, BP still routinely exceeds the daily threshold. The EPA and Coast Guard say they're trying to keep dispersant use to around 18,000 barrels a day.

But according to CNN's analysis, BP has gone over that amount 50 percent of the time since the May 26 directive was issued. To do so, BP must request permission from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials say dispersant use is "evaluated daily" and that it's using the "safest and most effective methods available" to protect the sea environment.

"The EPA-Coast Guard directive has been successful in ensuring that BP uses the lowest volume of dispersant necessary," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Erik Halvorson, a spokesman with the Unified Area Command.

The EPA continues testing the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500, which has been used by BP since the beginning of the oil disaster. So far more than 1.6 million gallons of the chemical have been injected into the Gulf of Mexico.

But the struggle over daily dispersant use has caught the eye of Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, one of the loudest critics of BP's response in cleaning up the oil spill.

"I think it is obvious we can never again allow for a repetition of what is happening right now, where the science experiment is being conducted without having any idea what the impact on marine life long term will be," said Markey.


11) BP, Government Blocking Press from Reporting Their "Ballet at Sea"
By Kevin Gosztola
July 3, 2010

"As high tourist season approaches, there will be people who 'come on down to Alabama' regardless of the oil spill. A delicate balance between preparation for the worst and the pleasure of tourists is in the making."

"At first glance, the process looks chaotic, but after a minute of watching the orchestration a brilliant concert plays out. One of the young men of the Alabama National Guard is from a town not far from the work on Dauphin Island's west end, as are many others in his outfit. He says that being on active duty in the place he calls home is something state guards hope for. Though they go wherever and whenever they are deployed, often overseas, working to protect home surf and turf is always a welcome assignment""

"A ballet at sea as mesmerising as any performance in a concert hall, and worthy of an audience in its own right."

Anderson Cooper, host of "Anderson Cooper: 360" on CNN, has been tracking BP's obstruction of freedom of the press. Cooper is in his element when covering the Gulf coast. Having earned respect and credibility through coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Cooper has no problem with publicly challenging attempts by BP to keep journalists or reporters away from the damaged areas of the Gulf.

COOPER: "the Coast Guard today announced new rules keeping photographers and reporters and anyone else from coming within 65 feet of any response vessel or booms out on the water or on beaches -- 65 feet.

Now, in order to get closer, you have to get direct permission from the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans. You have to call up the guy. What this means is that oil-soaked birds on islands surrounded by boom, you can't get close enough to take that picture.

Shots of oil on beaches with booms, stay 65 feet away. Pictures of oil-soaked booms uselessly laying in the water because they haven't been collected like they should, you can't get close enough to see that. And, believe me, that is out there.

But you only know that if you get close to it, and now you can't without permission. Violators could face a fine of $40,000 and Class D felony charges.

What's even more extraordinary is that the Coast Guard tried to make the exclusion zone 300 feet, before scaling it back to 65 feet"

The order comes just days after the ACLU of Louisiana wrote the following letter urging an end to blocking of the press and censorship of information:

"We have learned from several sources that law enforcement officers have prevented members of the public from filming activities on the beaches affected by the BP oil spill. We have learned of the following incidents, among others:

Several reporters have been told not to film at spill sites in Louisiana. Incidents include attempts to film on a beach in Grand Isle and near Venice. Reporters are told that they are not allowed to record because BP doesn't want filming there.

Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge, off of Grand Isle, is blocked by Jefferson Parish deputies. Deputies told one reporter not to photograph them blocking the road.

At least one person was told by a Terrebonne Parish sheriff's deputy working private security detail for BP that he wasn't allowed to film the outside of the BP building in Houma from a private, non-BP-owned field across the street. The deputy admitted that the guy wasn't breaking any laws but tried to intimidate him into stopping filming and leaving anyway.

We have reason to believe that deputies in other coastal parishes may also be working with BP to impede or prevent access to public lands and to interfere with members of the public and the media.

This letter is to notify you that members of the public have the right under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to film, record, photograph, and document anything they observe in a public place. No one -- neither law enforcement nor a private corporation -- has the legal right to interfere with public access to public places or the recording of activities that occur there. Nor may law enforcement officials cooperate with private companies in denying such access to the public.

Additionally, BP has "reporters" working for them, producing stories on the oil disaster that they contend are not being covered by media organizations.

The reporting consists primarily of puff-piece accounts of the damage, how awesome it is to be flying over the damage and looking down at the wetlands that the oil will likely spread into and further destroy. It consists of celebration of the tourism the Gulf coast has to offer and a profile of tourists who have not canceled their vacations. And, it glamorizes the service of the National Guard who have helped BP militarize the Gulf and turn areas into off-limit zones that members of the media are not allowed to venture into.

On July 2nd, Anderson Cooper covered BP's employment of "reporters" to propagandize their clean-up effort:

""It turns out BP has dispatched two employees to the Gulf who call themselves, according to their blogs, BP reporters. But their reporting looks nothing like our reporting or the rest of the media's reporting. It's far more positive. (voice-over): Check out this blog by BP reporter Tom Seslar, the same guy who interviewed Vicki Chaisson. Here, he interviewed a family in the seafood business, who says -- quote -- "There is no reason to hate BP, and, "The oil spill was an accident," this from folks in the seafood business, which has been destroyed by the BP spill""

"COOPER: The -- I mean, for 70-some odd days now, I have been kind of, I guess, complaining or pointing out the lack of transparency that BP has, even though they had promised transparency.

It doesn't seem like -- I mean, that still seems a major issue that no one else seems to be as concerned about as we have talked about.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But they can't be, because they have an obligation to their shareholders, just like they can't be transparent about the flow.

We discussed this last night. When the guy says, well, we don't -- it's irrelevant to us what the flow is, you have to pay probably, maybe $4,000 a barrel for the flow. And so they're -- you can't -- you can't believe anything that they say, because they have an obligation to their shareholders"

NOLA.com reported that Associated Press photographer Geoffrey Herbert thinks there is reason to be concerned about the restrictions:

"Often the general guise of 'safety' is used as a blanket excuse to limit the media's access, and it's been done before"It feels as though news reporting is being criminalized under thinly veiled excuses. The total effect of all these restrictions is harming the public's right to know."

In the middle of June, Associated Press writer Tamara Lush wrote:

Journalists covering the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been yelled at, kicked off public beaches and islands and threatened with arrest in the nearly three weeks since the government promised improved media access.

Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point person for the response, issued a May 31 directive to BP PLC and federal officials ensuring media access to key sites along the coast. BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles followed up with a letter to news organizations, saying the company "fully supports and defends all individuals' rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose."

Those efforts have done little to curtail the obstacles, harassment and intimidation tactics journalists are facing by federal officials and local police, as well as BP employees and contractors, while covering the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.

Lush went on to further illuminate how Adm. Allen's directive on May 31 was likely public posturing, purely an empty gesture to stem the outrage among journalists in attempting to cover the disaster:

_ On June 5, sheriff's deputies in Grand Isle, La., threatened an AP photographer with arrest for criminal trespassing after he spoke to BP employees and took pictures of cleanup workers on a public beach.

_ On June 6, an AP reporter was in a boat near an island in Barataria Bay, off the Louisiana coast, when a man in another boat identifying himself as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee ordered the reporter to leave the area. When the reporter asked to see identification, the man refused, saying "My name doesn't matter, you need to go."

_ According to a June 10 CNN video, one of the network's news crews was told by a bird rescue worker that he signed a contract with BP stating that he would not talk to the media. The crew was also turned away by BP contractors working at a bird triage area _ despite having permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enter the facility.

_ On June 11 and 12, private security guards patrolling in the Grand Isle area attempted repeatedly to prevent a crew from New Orleans television station WDSU from walking on a public beach and speaking with cleanup workers.

_ On June 13, a charter helicopter pilot carrying an AP photographer was contacted by the Federal Aviation Administration, which told the pilot he had violated the temporary flight restriction by flying below 3,000 feet. Both the pilot and photographer contend the helicopter never flew below 3,000 feet. However, the federal government now says helicopters in the restricted area are allowed to fly as low as 1,500 feet.

The federal government has sided with BP and helped BP obstruct press freedom. Even if the coverage would not condemn BP as criminal, even when press is willing to go along and play by the rules BP has outlined for media, the federal government has refused to give credence to the concerns of members of the press.

Now, with Adm. Allen's order, it appears the government will continue to protect BP. If it is protecting BP now, what will it do for BP later? Does such behavior warrant concerns about whether BP will actually pay one hundred percent for what it should as a result of the company's negligence and risky deepwater drilling operation?

In Obama Administration-speak, how long before the mantra becomes , "We need to move forward instead of looking backward," and Americans find it impossible to hold BP accountable because attention is no longer being directed at BP and the Gulf? Certainly, it seems the Administration and BP would like Americans especially journalists to concede that there's nothing to see here (or there) and, yes, they should move along.

People in areas nearby the damaged areas of the Gulf are depending on reports. In the same way that those impacted by Hurricane Katrina depended on reporters and journalists to cover what was really going on in the aftermath, fishermen, BP workers, residents who live on the coast, etc. are all depending on those who understand the value of reporting to society to stay firm, hold strong and not bow to the orders of BP or government officials to shy away from telling real stories of the people and areas most impacted in the Gulf.


12) As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Subsidies
"The flow of revenues to oil companies is like the gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico: heavy and constant,' said Senator Robert Menendez..."
[This is an extremely important and fact-filled article...bw]
July 3, 2010

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform set off the worst oil spill at sea in American history, it was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. Registering there allowed the rig's owner to significantly reduce its American taxes.

The owner, Transocean, moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Cayman Islands in 1999 and then to Switzerland in 2008, maneuvers that also helped it avoid taxes.

At the same time, BP was reaping sizable tax benefits from leasing the rig. According to a letter sent in June to the Senate Finance Committee, the company used a tax break for the oil industry to write off 70 percent of the rent for Deepwater Horizon - a deduction of more than $225,000 a day since the lease began.

With federal officials now considering a new tax on petroleum production to pay for the cleanup, the industry is fighting the measure, warning that it will lead to job losses and higher gasoline prices, as well as an increased dependence on foreign oil.

But an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.

According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by various credits. These companies' returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before.

"The flow of revenues to oil companies is like the gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico: heavy and constant," said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who has worked alongside the Obama administration on a bill that would cut $20 billion in oil industry tax breaks over the next decade. "There is no reason for these corporations to shortchange the American taxpayer."

Oil industry officials say that the tax breaks, which average about $4 billion a year according to various government reports, are a bargain for taxpayers. By helping producers weather market fluctuations and invest in technology, tax incentives are supporting an industry that the officials say provides 9.2 million jobs.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry advocacy group, argues that even with subsidies, oil producers paid or incurred $280 billion in American income taxes from 2006 to 2008, and pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than most other American corporations.

As oil continues to spread across the Gulf of Mexico, however, the industry is being forced to defend tax breaks that some say are being abused or are outdated.

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday announced that it was investigating whether Transocean had exploited tax laws by moving overseas to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Efforts to curtail the tax breaks are likely to face fierce opposition in Congress; the oil and natural gas industry has spent $340 million on lobbyists since 2008, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors political spending.

Jack N. Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, warns that any cut in subsidies will cost jobs.

"These companies evaluate costs, risks and opportunities across the globe," he said. "So if the U.S. makes changes in the tax code that discourage drilling in gulf waters, they will go elsewhere and take their jobs with them."

But some government watchdog groups say that only the industry's political muscle is preserving the tax breaks. An economist for the Treasury Department said in 2009 that a study had found that oil prices and potential profits were so high that eliminating the subsidies would decrease American output by less than half of one percent.

"We're giving tax breaks to highly profitable companies to do what they would be doing anyway," said Sima J. Gandhi, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization. "That's not an incentive; that's a giveaway."

Some of the tax breaks date back nearly a century, when they were intended to encourage exploration in an era of rudimentary technology, when costly investments frequently produced only dry holes. Because of one lingering provision from the Tariff Act of 1913, many small and midsize oil companies based in the United States can claim deductions for the lost value of tapped oil fields far beyond the amount the companies actually paid for the oil rights.

Other tax breaks were born of international politics. In an attempt to deter Soviet influence in the Middle East in the 1950s, the State Department backed a Saudi Arabian accounting maneuver that reclassified the royalties charged by foreign governments to American oil drillers. Saudi Arabia and others began to treat some of the royalties as taxes, which entitled the companies to subtract those payments from their American tax bills. Despite repeated attempts to forbid this accounting practice, companies continue to deduct the payments. The Treasury Department estimates that it will cost $8.2 billion over the next decade.

Over the last 10 years, oil companies have also been aggressive in using foreign tax havens. Many rigs, like Deepwater Horizon, are registered in Panama or in the Marshall Islands, where they are subject to lower taxes and less stringent safety and staff regulations. American producers have also aggressively exploited the tax code by opening small offices in low-tax countries. A recent study by Martin A. Sullivan, an economist for the trade publication Tax Analysts, found that the five oil drilling companies that had undergone these "corporate inversions" had saved themselves a total of $4 billion in taxes since 1999.

Transocean - which has approximately 18,000 employees worldwide, including 1,300 in Houston and about a dozen in Zug, Switzerland - has saved $1.8 billion in taxes since moving overseas in 1999, the study found.

Transocean said it had paid more than $300 million in taxes so far for 2009, and that its move reflected its global scope, with only 15 of its 139 rigs located in the United States. "Transocean is truly a global company," it said in a statement.

Despite the public anger at the gulf spill, it is far from certain that Congress will eliminate the tax breaks. As recently as 2005, when windfall profits for energy companies prompted even President George W. Bush - a former Texas oilman himself - to publicly call for an end to incentives, the energy bill he and Congress enacted still included $2.6 billion in oil subsidies. In 2007, after Democrats took control of Congress, a move to end the tax breaks failed.

Mr. Menendez said he believed the Gulf spill was devastating enough to spur Congress into action. But one notable omission in his bill shows the vast economic reach of the industry. While the legislation would cut many incentives over the next decade, it would not touch the tax breaks for oil refineries, many of which have operations and employees in his home state, New Jersey.

Mr. Menendez's aides said the senator thought it was legitimate to allow refineries to continue claiming a manufacturing tax credit that he wants to eliminate for drillers because refining is a manufacturing business and because refineries do not benefit from high oil prices. Mr. Menendez did not consult with New Jersey refineries when writing the bill, his aides said.


13) Where BP's Money Is Landing
[The filthy pigs know that the longer they take to pay out, the less it will cost them in the end--if there ever is an end to this corporate/Government-made catastrophe...bw]
July 2, 2010

AS the Gulf of Mexico continues to fill with oil this summer, condos and restaurants will sit empty, fishing boats will stay docked, and beaches - even those without a single tar ball - will attract fewer tourists.

Economists estimate that more than seven million businesses will suffer from both the spill and the tarnished reputation it has brought to the region.

BP has now begun reimbursing businesses that rely on the gulf for their revenue. Since May, it has paid just under a third of the more than 90,000 claims it has received, with the checks totaling more than $144 million.

About 80 percent of the payments have gone to self-employed workers - including shrimpers, charter boat captains and beachfront condo owners - who can clearly show that the spill has affected their ability to make a profit. Fewer large businesses have been compensated because their claims are more complex and take longer to process.

So far, payments have been fairly small, averaging about $2,500 a month for a deckhand or $5,000 for a fisherman. BP estimates that about 13,000 people are receiving prepayments, often 30 days in advance.

The total bill is sure to grow exponentially, with more than 2,000 applications coming in each day. After negotiations with President Obama last month, BP promised to set aside $20 billion to continue to pay business claims and handle requests from local governments to cover cleanup and administrative costs.

The company has also set aside $100 million to assist oil rig workers who cannot find work because of the moratorium on drilling in the gulf.

Even so, federal, state and local officials say the payments from BP have fallen short. Checks have been too small, and the company has not disbursed money quickly enough to workers who are desperate to pay bills, critics say. Lawmakers say they are also concerned that the system of tracking claims has not been transparent.

BP says it is doing the best it can to keep up with the sheer volume of claims, which it says it could not have anticipated when it wrote the first check on May 3.

"I'm not sure anybody in this kind of situation meets all expectations, but we're trying," said Patricia Wright, a BP spokeswoman. Lawmakers say they are optimistic that improvements will come in August, when Kenneth R. Feinberg, the lawyer known for handling compensation claims for Sept. 11 victims, takes over BP's claims system.

Mr. Feinberg, who was selected by the Obama administration and BP and will be paid by BP, will work closely with a team already contracted by the oil company. The group consists of some 950 claims adjusters in 35 offices across the region.

One of Mr. Feinberg's biggest challenges is to determine whether people requesting compensation for indirect effects of the spill will be eligible.

At a Congressional hearing last week, Representative Lynn A. Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican, asked Mr. Feinberg how he would compensate homeowners for depressed real estate values along the gulf's shores.

"On the one hand, those people are suffering; they deserve some help," Mr. Feinberg responded. "On the other hand, there's not enough money in the world to pay every homeowner wherever they live on the Gulf Coast who says my property is down because of the oil spill."

While Mr. Feinberg has acknowledged that many questions remain about the claims system, he has publicly promised officials that he will provide more transparency and speed up payments. He also wants to provide larger emergency checks - such as a six-month lump sum instead of a single month's pay.

Eventually, Mr. Feinberg says, he plans to write much larger checks to businesses, once his team is able to calculate the total loss an eligible claimant has faced.

But as long as the oil keeps flowing into the gulf, officials say that there is no way to know how much money businesses will lose or how much financial assistance will ultimately be needed.

"It sure would help if the oil would stop," Mr. Feinberg said.


14) Appeals Court Sides With Detainee
July 3, 2010

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court has sided with a Guantánamo prisoner whose case prompted a major internal argument among Obama administration legal advisers last year over how broadly to define terrorism suspects who may be detained without trial.

Belkacem Bensayah, an Algerian who was arrested in Bosnia in 2001 and accused of helping people who wanted to travel to Afghanistan and join Al Qaeda, cannot be considered part of the terrorist organization based on the evidence the government presented against him, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled.

"The government presented no direct evidence of actual communication between Bensayah and any Al Qaeda member, much less evidence suggesting Bensayah communicated with" anyone else to facilitate travel by an Al Qaeda member, Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg wrote in a 17-page opinion that was declassified late last week. Parts of the ruling were censored by the government.

Mark Fleming, a partner at the law firm Wilmer Hale who is representing Mr. Bensayah, praised the ruling and called on the Obama administration to send his client back to Bosnia, where his wife and daughters live.

"We're very happy with the decision of the Court of Appeals recognizing that the evidence does not justify treating Mr. Bensayah as an enemy combatant," Mr. Fleming said. "We hope the United States will now do the right thing and release Mr. Bensayah so he can begin to rebuild his life after his long captivity."

A Justice Department spokesman said the Obama administration was reviewing the ruling and had not yet decided how to respond.

The decision sends Mr. Bensayah's case for reconsideration by a district judge, Richard J. Leon, who in late 2008 ruled that Mr. Bensayah could be held indefinitely and without trial as a wartime prisoner because he had provided "direct support" to Al Qaeda by trying to facilitate travel. In that same ruling, Judge Leon ordered the release of five other detainees arrested with Mr. Bensayah in Bosnia, saying the government had failed to show that they planned to travel to Afghanistan to fight the United States.

The appeals court's reversal of Judge Leon's ruling has added significance because it followed two policy changes about the case that the Obama administration made after taking over from the Bush administration.

In September 2009, just before the appeals court heard arguments in the case, the Obama administration abandoned the argument that Mr. Bensayah could be detained as a substantial "supporter" of Al Qaeda. Instead, it portrayed him as functionally "part" of the terrorist organization - a narrower definition.

That switch followed an internal debate between senior State Department and Pentagon lawyers over whether the Geneva Conventions allow mere supporters of an enemy force, picked up far from any combat zone, to be treated just like members of the enemy organization.

The dispute ended without a clear resolution. But as a compromise, the administration decided not to argue that Mr. Bensayah, at least, could be detained as a supporter, while holding open the theoretical possibility of making that argument in other cases.

Still, Judge Ginsburg's opinion suggested that the appeals court ruling turned less on the recategorization of Mr. Bensayah's alleged ties to Al Qaeda than on skepticism about the basic credibility of the evidence the government presented against him.

While the appeal was still pending last year, the Justice Department withdrew its reliance on certain evidence it had presented to Judge Leon, but about which the government had lost confidence for undisclosed reasons, Judge Ginsburg's opinion said.

The nature of that evidence was redacted from the ruling, but it may have related to accusations that Mr. Bensayah had contact with Abu Zubaydah, another Guantánamo detainee who was once portrayed as a senior member of Al Qaeda, although officials have since lowered their estimation of his importance. A 2004 military document about Mr. Bensayah had accused him of having had phone conversations with Mr. Zubaydah about passports.

The government stuck with other evidence, including a raw intelligence report whose contents were largely redacted from the opinion, as well as accusations that Mr. Bensayah had used fraudulent documents and might have lied about his travel in the early 1990s. But Judge Ginsburg said "the evidence, viewed in isolation or together, is insufficiently corroborative" of the accusation that Mr. Bensayah was part of Al Qaeda.

The uncertainty about his travel history, the judge wrote, "at most undermines Bensayah's own credibility; no account of his whereabouts ties him to Al Qaeda or suggests he facilitated anyone's travel during that time. These 'questions' in no way demonstrate that Bensayah had ties to and facilitated travel for Al Qaeda in 2001."


15) A Market Forecast That Says 'Take Cover'
July 2, 2010

WITH the stock market lurching again, plenty of investors are nervous, and some are downright bearish. Then there's Robert Prechter, the market forecaster and social theorist, who is in another league entirely.

Mr. Prechter is convinced that we have entered a market decline of staggering proportions - perhaps the biggest of the last 300 years.

In a series of phone conversations and e-mail exchanges last week, he said that no other forecaster was likely to accept his reasoning, which is based on his version of the Elliott Wave theory - a technical approach to market analysis that he embraces with evangelical fervor.

Originating in the writings of Ralph Nelson Elliott, an obscure accountant who found repetitive patterns, or "fractals," in the stock market of the 1930s and '40s, the theory suggests that an epic downswing is under way, Mr. Prechter said. But he argued that even skeptical investors should take his advice seriously.

"I'm saying: 'Winter is coming. Buy a coat,' " he said. "Other people are advising people to stay naked. If I'm wrong, you're not hurt. If they're wrong, you're dead. It's pretty benign advice to opt for safety for a while."

His advice: individual investors should move completely out of the market and hold cash and cash equivalents, like Treasury bills, for years to come. (For traders with a fair amount of skill and willingness to embrace risk, he suggests other alternatives, like shorting the market or making bets on volatility.) But ultimately, "the decline will lead to one of the best investment opportunities ever," he said.

Buy-and-hold stock investors will be devastated in a crash much worse than the declines of 2008 and early 2009 or the worst years of the Great Depression or the Panic of 1873, he predicted.

For a rough parallel, he said, go all the way back to England and the collapse of the South Sea Bubble in 1720, a crash that deterred people "from buying stocks for 100 years," he said. This time, he said, "If I'm right, it will be such a shock that people will be telling their grandkids many years from now, 'Don't touch stocks.' "

The Dow, which now stands at 9,686.48, is likely to fall well below 1,000 over perhaps five or six years as a grand market cycle comes to an end, he said. That unraveling, combined with a depression and deflation, will make anyone holding cash "extremely grateful for their prudence."

Mr. Prechter is hardly the only market hand to advocate prudence now, but nearly everyone else foresees a much rosier future, once current difficulties are past.

For example, Ralph J. Acampora, a market analyst with more than 40 years of experience, said he moved entirely out of stocks and into cash late last month. Now a partner at Alverita, a wealth management firm in New York, he said recent setbacks suggested that the market would drop another 10 or 15 percent, probably until September or October, before resuming another "meaningful rally."

Over the next several years Mr. Acampora expects an "old normal market," characterized by relatively short-lived swings that will provide many opportunities for smart investors - one that resembles the markets of the 1960s and 70s. "I've lived through it," he said.

Like Mr. Prechter, he is a past president of the Market Technicians Association, the leading organization of technical market analysts, and he said that his colleague has done "some very good work." But Mr. Acampora doesn't agree with Mr. Prechter's long-term theories, either intellectually or emotionally.

The "mathematics don't work," Mr. Acampora said, because such a big decline would imply that individual stocks would need to trade at unrealistically low levels. Furthermore, he said, "I don't want to agree with him, because if he's right, we've basically got to go to the mountains with a gun and some soup cans, because it's all over."

Still, on a "near-term" basis, he said, "We're probably saying the same thing."

Similarly, Larry Berman, who co-founded ETF Capital Management in Toronto and recently ended his term as the president of the technicians association, says he sees a "classic" short-term negative market trend developing now. But he doesn't use the Elliott Wave theory, saying Mr. Prechter is trying to "measure the market in decades, which is too long a time frame for practical trading purposes or for risk management."

Mr. Prechter, 61, lives in Gainesville, Ga., where he runs Elliott Wave International, a forecasting and publishing firm. He graduated from Yale as a psychology major in 1971, dabbled as a singer, drummer and songwriter in a rock band and became a technical analyst for Merrill Lynch.

He became fascinated by Mr. Elliott's writings, which suggest that the market moves in predictable if complex patterns. Along with A. J. Frost, Mr. Prechter wrote "Elliott Wave Principle," a 1978 book that predicted the emergence of a great bull market - a forecast that was largely fulfilled. By 1987, he was widely regarded as an expert in technical analysis. Articles in The New York Times said he was known as "the market's leading technical guru" - and more. An article in October that year said he had "emerged as both prophet and deity, an adviser whose advice reaches so many investors that he tends to pull the market the way he has predicted it will move."

He has far less day-to-day influence now, after years spent developing a theory he calls "socionomics," which holds "social moods" as the cause not only of market cycles but also of economic and political events. A grand cycle is ending, he says, and the time for reckoning is near.

In 2002, he published "Conquer the Crash," which predicted misery ahead. Even so, he said in 2008 that the market would soon rally sharply - then said late last year that stocks were about to fall and that the great decline would resume.

Since 1980, the advice in his investing newsletters, when converted into a portfolio, has slightly underperformed the overall stock market but has been much less risky, losing money in only one calendar year, according to calculations by The Hulbert Financial Digest. Mr. Prechter said he disagreed with the methodology used in these measurements, but offered none of his own.

For his part, Mr. Acampora says that the Elliott Wave has some validity as an indicator but that "it's only part of the story" of technical market analysis, which also needs to be buttressed by economic and fundamental research.

Mr. Prechter says his unifying theory, socionomics, is a "young science."

"We're quantifying it," he said. "We're working on it." In the meantime, he contends, it has enabled him to "look around the corner" and prepare for a dangerous future.

Here's an update on the troubles at AXA Rosenberg, the quant unit of the French financial services giant AXA, which were reported in this column two weeks ago. A computer programmer made a "coding error" in AXA Rosenberg's risk management software, but the company didn't reveal or fix it for many months.

In a letter to clients last week, AXA Rosenberg said a management shakeup had accelerated. Its co-founder, Barr Rosenberg, and its director of research, Tom Mead, resigned from the board of directors and will be leaving the company. A review found that they had violated the firm's ethics policy and had withheld information about the mistake, the letter said. The executives did not respond to requests for comment.

Separately, Agustin Sevilla, global chief investment officer, stepped down from that post and will move to a "senior research" role, the letter said. He didn't return phone messages last week.

The company said it's bringing in a consultant to help improve risk management controls and reinforce "independent oversight." It said it is still reviewing the coding error's effect on investment portfolios.


16) BP Wants Partners to Help Shoulder Spill Cost
July 4, 2010

BP has said repeatedly that it will pay for the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But its actions show that it does not intend to go it alone.

Newly released documents show that on June 2, BP sent out demands for nearly $400 million to its partners in the well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui Oil Exploration Company of Japan, or roughly 40 percent of the $1 billion it had spent in May.

The amounts demanded by BP - $272 million from Anadarko and $111 million from Mitsui - reflect the provisions of each company's joint operating agreement with BP, which gives a share of liability equal to each company's share of ownership.

BP owns 65 percent of the well, Anadarko owns 25 percent and Mitsui 10 percent.

The total bill includes costs of drilling the relief wells, responding to the spill, and the reimbursements already sent to the federal government, as well as the claims that BP has already paid out in claims for economic loss to people along the Gulf Coast.

BP has handed also out $25 million checks to several gulf states for various costs, but did not attempt to pass a share of those expenditures on to its partners.

Toby Odone, a spokesman for BP, said, "We would expect the various parties involved in this to live up to their responsibilities."

The other companies are not so sure. Anadarko has suggested that BP has engaged in "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct" - terms that, if proved in arbitration or court, could allow it to slip the bonds of liability under its joint operating agreement with the oil giant. A spokesman for the company, John Christiansen, said that he would not comment beyond the company's previous statement, but added, "we are still assessing our contractual remedies."

Mitsui has not struck as belligerent a pose. In a statement, the company said it was too early to draw conclusions about what happened on the rig, but "as a ten percent minority non-operating investor, MOEX Offshore 2007 is fully cooperating with those investigations." The company added, "because we do not have the expertise required to fully evaluate the possible causes of the accident, we have decided to retain our own outside engineering experts to advise us on the matter."

BP has demanded payment "30 days upon receipt," or as early as Friday. When asked whether Anadarko had mailed a check, Mr. Christiansen, the Anadarko spokesman, reiterated, "we are continuing to assess our contractual remedies." A Mitsui spokesman said that the company had until the 12th to pay, but did not say whether the company would be doing so.

The invoices were released by the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security. They were first described by the website TPMMuckraker.com. The fact that BP was reaching out to its partners for payment was first revealed by Dow Jones Newswires in mid June, but the amounts were not disclosed.

The chairman of the federal financial management subcommittee, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, said, "We need to make sure that the taxpayer is not left on the hook for the damages associated with this disaster." Mr. Carper, who is a Democrat, said that the subcommittee "is focused on getting to the bottom of who owes who and what so that the communities and businesses hurt by this disaster are made whole and that the taxpayers are protected."

A Senate staffer said that it was unclear whether from the documents whether BP was expecting the companies to pay or was simply establishing its position for later battles in arbitration or court, saying "We can't characterize BP's intent." However, the staffer said, "from our perspective, it does look like a real bill" - and "we want to know when these parties are going to pay, and if they don't, why they feel they shouldn't."

The subcommittee has invited the chief executives of Anadarko and Mitsui Oil Exploration to testify.

The subcommittee also released a May 27 "bill for U.S. Government costs" for $1.8 billion from the Coast Guard's National Pollution Funds Center. The government sent that bill not just to BP, but also to its partners and to Transocean Holdings, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig and its insurer, Lloyds Syndicate, stating that under the Oil Pollution Act, "responsible parties and guarantors are jointly and severally liable for the costs incurred."


17) Troubling reason for drop in unemployment rate: People exiting work force
The unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent in June, an improvement over May's 9.7 percent. But the reason is that job seekers are giving up because the competition is so fierce for each open position.
By Mark Trumbull, Staff writer
July 2, 2010

America's official unemployment rate declined in June, but the reason was largely because people are opting out of the labor force - not because employers are adding lots of new jobs.

It's a sign of how difficult the job market remains, and it comes as Congress recessed for the July 4 holiday without extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Despite signs of economic recovery in recent months, the overall labor force shrank by 652,000 in June, even though the US population grew, the Labor Department reported Friday. That helped push the unemployment rate down to 9.5 percent, from 9.7 percent in May.

If the labor force participation rate had held steady for the month, at roughly 65 percent of the civilian population, the unemployment rate would have gone up - to about 10 percent - based on the current number of jobs in the economy.

"As the US population grows by about 200,000 each month, the labor force is also expected to grow," economist Charles McMillion said Friday in a report analyzing the monthly job-market data. In his view, the situation "almost guarantees that unemployment will again rise to over 10 percent when more of the unemployed again agree to be counted."

Earlier this year, as the job market began to show some signs of revival, labor force participation rose - meaning more people began looking for work. But the influx may have outstripped the number of available new jobs, sending some discouraged workers out of the labor force in the past two months.

The reversal, by Mr. McMillion's calculation, means that the labor force is no larger than it was when the recession began in late 2007, even though the adult population has risen steadily since then. And 1 million fewer people are in the work force now than one year ago.

The central problem is that, with so many already unemployed, there are multiple job seekers for every open position. Some 6.8 million people have been jobless for 27 weeks or more. Legislation in the Senate to extend jobless benefits, which have begun to run out for many long-term unemployed, stalled amid disagreement over how to pay for it. The House has passed an extension of jobless benefits.

Who's leaving the labor force, or not entering to begin with?

Labor Department data suggest that the problem spreads across virtually all demographic groups, but the trend is strongest among the men, African-Americans, and the young. Regionally, the Midwest appears to be most affected. Here are the numbers:

•Overall, labor force participation has fallen by 1.5 percentage points since January 2008, as the recession had just begun (from 66.2 percent of civilian adults - excluding those in prison - to 64.7 percent).

•Among men, participation has fallen 2 percentage points, while it has fallen 1.1 percentage points among women. Looking at 2010 alone, men's participation has risen slightly - perhaps a sign of rebounding hopes or expectations of finding work, while women's participation has continued to edge down.

•Among African-Americans, participation has fallen 2.1 percentage points, versus 1.4 for whites.

•By age, participation has declined most for teens (7.1 percentage points) and young workers ages 20 to 24 (down 3.3 percentage points). Declines have also occurred among older workers, but by amounts smaller than the national average.

•For one age group, those 55 and over, participation has actually risen during and after the recession - a sign of the headwinds facing many people in or near retirement. Many homes and investment portfolios have lost value.

A silver lining in the June jobs data is that the private sector added at least some jobs (83,000) for the sixth straight month.


18) Israel Grows Uneasy Over Reliance on Migrant Labor
July 4, 2010

TEL AVIV - Perched 22 stories above an affluent suburb of this prosperous seaside city, three Chinese construction workers inched their way along the arm of a crane last autumn and refused to budge. Facing deportation because of expiring visas, theirs was an act of desperation aimed at getting thousands of dollars in wages they claimed their Israeli employer had illegally withheld.

The daredevil protest had the desired effect: after the men spent nine hours on the crane, the construction company agreed to pay each the equivalent of $1,000. Satisfied, they climbed down and voluntarily headed to the airport.

For Israelis, the crane standoff - the second in a matter of months - was an unwanted reminder of their country's troubled economic experiment with foreign labor. Since the first intifada of the early 1990s, more than a million migrants from the developing world have come to Israel to replace the Palestinians, who were the country's original source of cheap labor.

At least 250,000 foreign laborers, about half of them illegal, are living in the country, according to the Israeli government. They include Chinese construction workers, Filipino home health care aides and Thai farmhands, as well as other Asians, and Africans and Eastern Europeans, working as maids, cooks and nannies.

"Israelis won't do this work, so they bring us," said Wang Yingzhong, 40, a construction worker from Jiangsu Province in China who arrived in 2006.

But even as foreign workers have become a mainstay of the economy, their presence has increasingly clashed with Israel's Zionist ideology, causing growing political unease over the future of the Jewish state and their place in it.

The government has lurched through a series of contradictory policies that encourage the temporary employment of migrants while seeking to impose tight visa and labor restrictions that can leave them vulnerable to abusive employers, advocates for the workers say.

Those who overstay their visas and try to remain in Israel live in fear of the Oz Unit, a recently created division of immigration police officers who hunt down illegal migrants and assist in their deportation.

The government insists it wants unskilled jobs to go to unemployed Israelis, especially Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox Jews. Critics say the policies are hypocritical and racist because they treat foreign workers as undeserving of legal protection.

"All too often we have to fight to make Israelis see that these foreign workers are human beings," said Dana Shaked, the coordinator for Chinese laborers at Kav LaOved, a workers' rights group.

Although the Israeli government issued a record 120,000 foreign work permits in 2009, the country's political leaders say they want to phase out migrant labor. "We have created a Jewish and democratic nation, and we cannot let it turn into a nation of foreign workers," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a conference of the Israel Manufacturers Association in January.

The No. 1 target is the Chinese, who in recent years have received nearly all of the construction work permits. Chinese accounted for a quarter of all deportations from 2003 to 2008, more than any other foreign group. The rate was expected to soar as 3,000 of those permits lapsed at the end of June.

The Chinese end up in the most desperate straits here partly because they are recruited through a murky network of manpower companies that rights groups say operate like human trafficking rings. Chinese pay up to $31,000 in illegal recruitment fees, the highest fees of all foreign workers, according to Kav LaOved, which says the money ends up in the pockets of go-betweens and government agencies in both countries.

The Chinese must work for an average of two years just to repay the money they borrow to afford those fees. Unaware of their rights and unable to speak Hebrew or English, many fall victim to a minefield of abuse like squalid living conditions, withheld wages and the early termination of work permits, which make them liable for deportation before they have repaid the recruitment fees or saved money for themselves.

Most Chinese endure the injustices more quietly than the workers who staged the dramatic crane protests last year. Some, like Liu Shiqi, 39, said he showed up to his job as a cook one March morning to find the restaurant closed and the owner gone without paying him. "They know we're alone and don't speak Hebrew, so they take advantage of us," he said.

Worker advocates say the Chinese Embassy has long been indifferent or even hostile to the workers' plight. When 170 construction workers went on strike in 2001 seeking back pay, embassy officials warned them that they would be imprisoned upon their return to China for breaching their contracts and breaking Chinese labor law. The men who protested on the crane did so after the embassy ignored their pleas, they told Kav LaOved.

Yang Jianchu, the Chinese consul for immigration affairs, says his staff does all it can to help those in trouble. He also dismissed accusations by worker advocates that the Chinese government profits from the exorbitant recruitment fees. "We don't know where the money goes," Mr. Yang said. "This is the truth."

Laborers who become illegal after losing their jobs or overstaying their visas say they are easily exploited by Israeli bosses.

One 40-year-old Chinese worker from Jiangsu Province said he was once forced to sleep in a shipping crate. Fears of being arrested by the immigration police consume him. "When I sleep, they catch me in my dreams," said the man, surnamed Jiang, who asked that his full name not be printed.

The government has quietly begun to replace Chinese with other non-Israelis, issuing 15,000 construction permits to Palestinians this year. This comes as right-wing politicians have heightened accusations that foreign workers are stealing Israeli jobs and threatening the nation's Jewish character, an assertion many on the left dismiss.

"Saying foreign workers are diluting the Jewish state is racism," said Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Israeli Parliament and a critic of the foreign-worker policy. "On one hand, Israel is bringing them here and making money off their backs, and on other they face all sorts of harassment."

Even if the law is changed, it will be too late for people like Lin Qingde, a Chinese construction worker who is one of 26 plaintiffs to sue an Israeli-Arab merchant accused of stealing $1.7 million from hundreds of workers, money that he was supposed to wire to their families in China. The police arrested the businessman, but, while waiting to testify at the trial, Mr. Lin's work visa expired and he was also arrested.

Stuck behind bars for five months and afraid he might be killed in China for failing to repay a $40,000 debt, Mr. Lin was finally called into court in May to give his account. A few days later, he was deported.

Hay Haber, the lawyer for Mr. Lin and the other plaintiffs, said he was ashamed of Israel's justice system. "These workers, unfortunately, have no place in Israel," Mr. Haber said, surrounded by stacks of evidence files in his Tel Aviv office. "Here they are nothing but cheap slaves."


19) Fending For Themselves
By Dahr Jamail
July 5, 2010

We drive south on Louisiana Highway 55 towards Pointe-au-Chien. The two-lane road hugs a bayou, like most of the roads leading south into the marsh areas. Incredibly green, lush forest gives way to increasing areas of water the further south we venture, until the very road feels as though it is floating.

We cross over a small concrete bridge over another bayou and find ourselves square in front of the Pointe-au-Chien sign informing us this is their tribal area. We've come to meet Theresa Dardar, in order to learn more about how the BP oil disaster is decimating the indigenous populations of Southern Louisiana.

Theresa is a member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. They are a small community of self-described Indians that live in southern Louisiana along a small stretch of the Bayou Pointe-au-Chien. Now, oil from the BP disaster threatens their very existence.

Historically, they have been a community reliant upon hunting, fishing, agriculture, and cattle. But due to, as Theresa puts it, "devastation of our land by the oil companies," the lack of protection of the barrier islands and lack of fresh water replenishment and saltwater intrusion, the Tribe has had to rely primarily on fishing to sustain itself.

On May 29, the shrimping season was closed in their area, putting most of the tribe out of work. On June 19, shrimping season reopened when oil in nearby bays abated somewhat, but shrimping was and still is only allowed in the Cut-Off Canal-a tiny area compared to what they are usually allowed access to.

This is what Theresa is most concerned about-behind of course, their land vanishing beneath their feet as it is, like much of the rest of southern Louisiana, swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico.

Today, members of her tribe, including her husband, spend their days contracting their shrimp boats to BP in order to lay out boom, instead of being in the midst of a busy and fruitful shrimping season.

Outside her home, like that of her neighbors, huge green nets hang from trees. Other fishing gear sits idly in yards, indicative of a way of life being placed on indefinite hold.

Theresa invites us inside her home, located among several other elevated houses that perch on the bank of the bayou. It is an area surrounded by marsh-much more water than land. It's an amazing experience to be in Louisiana's marsh-whether driving on the roads, or walking to someone's home, the water is so near, and the land barely above it, one often feels as though the water is actually higher than the land. The feeling of it possibly spilling onto the land is ever present.

"We are praying we don't have a hurricane, because if we do it'll blow the oil up here, they'll condemn this place and not let us back in until we clean it up," she explains. I later learn that this is a fear shared by basically everyone in the area.

Given the encroachment of what's left of their land by the Gulf, Theresa and the rest of her tribe intend to hold onto what they have. This is among their priorities listed on the Tribes' website, that includes the following goals:

-Protect Village, Sacred Sites, Fishing Grounds, and Cultural Sites.
-Plan needed for evacuation and relocation to keep tribal members together in the event of flooding-even with a tropical depression-for an unknown period of time.
-Workforce training and development in the event the oil spill contaminates fisheries for an extended period of time.
-Build tribal center to be used for relief and recovery efforts.
-Health issues associated with change in diet and stress from oil spill.
-Houses that haven't been elevated are at risk for condemnation if oil enters the community.

They are a people used to looking after themselves. "We fend for ourselves," Theresa continues, as we sit in her living room talking, "We can't wait for the Parish, or the State, to help us. The only time we see a politician is during election time, or when they come after we have a disaster and we've pretty much cleaned everything up ourselves."

Theresa says they want to put a sign up near the bridge one must cross to enter their area, one that reads, "No politicians allowed."

The area is also home to Indians that align themselves with the United Houma Nation and the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees. The land here is considered precious by the tribal community, and it includes at least seven cemeteries that contain the remains of their ancestors.

The livelihood of generations of these people is now threatened on multiple fronts-but for now, the most imminent threat seems to be oil lurking off-shore. According to Theresa, her tribe is now down to only 680 people, and the majority of them live in Pointe-au-Chien.

Like indigenous people around the world, place is paramount. Theresa speaks of their tie to the area in reverential tone. To be removed from this place is to disintegrate, figuratively and literally, her tribe.

"If we have to leave, we'll be spread out and no longer be a community," she explains, "We don't know where we'd go. BP should try to keep this community together because it's their oil that'll cause us to separate. Our attachment to our land is everything to us. We live off the land, so when you take us away, it won't be the same. It's like taking a fish out of water and seeing how long it will live."

She stops talking, and simply says that she doesn't know how to describe this.

Her 54-year-old husband has been a fisherman since he was 16. Now he's laying out boom for BP-a job that is temporary. Theresa tells me her husband is angry at BP for having put him out of his fishing job, but he needed the money so took the job laying boom for the company that destroyed his livelihood. It's a job that won't likely end soon, but when it does, he won't likely have his old job to return to.

She walks us outside, because her brother-in-law, Russell Dardar, is sitting out near the bayou after having just returned from crabbing. He shows us one of his boxes of crabs. One of the blue crabs reaches into the air, pincher open. "He's giving you the peace sign," Russell says with a half-smile.

Russell, wearing cut-off jeans and a t-shirt, is shoeless and completely in his element. He's going to take us out on his boat to show us where he's seen oil soiling the marshes in the area where he usually crabs. He's free to do so since he won't work for BP.

After looking at his photos of oil-affected marsh, we climb into his boat and start idling down the bayou. It's a tight waterway, lined with shrimp boats that would, in a time without an oil disaster, be out harvesting.

Russell doesn't talk much, but when he does, it is impactful. He tells me he used to work on a tugboat, work that is common with many of the people in this area of southern Louisiana, until a back injury led him back to crabbing and shrimping.

I ask him how many of the folks in his community are working for BP laying boom. "Maybe there are four or five of us left crabbing," he replies while looking straight ahead as we pass empty boats. I eye stacks of empty crab traps sitting on vacant piers.

It is gray, and dark rain clouds loom out in the marsh where we are headed. The rain begins slowly as we motor down the tight canal-green marsh on either side as we voyage down towards the head of the bay. The rain increases into a full shower, lightening flashes in the distance. We're all soaked within minutes. Erika sits in the front of the boat taking photos, her camera wrapped in its storm jacket. I'm in front of Russell, sitting in a white plastic patio chair while he pilots us along. I look up at him amidst the warm downpour and he smiles, which is a rarity, as he is usually completely focused on whatever it is he is doing.

He pulls us up amongst white booms bobbing in the small waves. They are held in place by flimsy white PVC pipes stuck in the mud-bamboo poles hold them in other areas.

We are struck by how useless they are. Several oil-scarred areas of marsh lie behind booms that are sometimes unattached to their support poles. Other areas float half a foot below the surface. In many areas, booms are washed ashore and sit amidst oil-soaked marsh.

I look back at Russell to find him looking off into the distance, across the marsh, with a stern face.

"These are completely useless," I say to him. "It's good for show," he responds while swinging the boat around in the surf.

He takes us along many areas to show us more of the same-sunken boom, boom washed ashore, oil-scarred soiled areas of marsh that is already dead.

"There was far more oil out here last week," Russell explains, "But the high tides that reached here from Hurricane Alex pushed all the oil deeper into the marsh."

The rain slackens as we head back home. Incredible bird life fills the marsh as we motor back...flocks of birds, everywhere. I wonder how long they'll last.

As we arrive back at the marina, I see that it has been turned into a staging area by BP. As though to intentionally underscore the futility of the so-called clean up effort, mountains of boom sit in plastic wrap on the shore, waiting to be taken out into the marsh. To the right of the marina building a statue of Jesus stands near a US flag, facing the mounds of boom, his arms outstretched as if he is questioning the futility of it all.

In the front of the Marina another US flag stands above more piles of boom. Erika later finds, upon closer inspection of the photo, it has an indigenous man atop a horse painted on the flag.

When she shows this to me, blown up on her computer, we can only shake our heads.

We idle the rest of the way up the bayou to Russell's dock and park the boat. Back on land he tells me how BP has promised everyone it's safe to work laying boom. "Somethin' don't sound right about that to me," he adds.

I thank Russell, shaking his hand, telling him I hope to see him again, and we walk over to Theresa's house to tell her goodbye. She brings us inside, however, and says, "I knew you'd be wet and hungry, so I made you lunch."

We sit down and feast on the crab casserole and fried shrimp she has made us while she tells us about a recent meeting at their town hall.

"About two weeks ago a BP spokesman held a town hall meeting," she explains, "He said, it's not if but when the oil comes here again. There was not one state or parish official at the meeting. BP is running things here now."

We finish eating and talk a little while longer before we thank Theresa again for her time and hospitality.

"We hope we don't have to wait as long as the Alaskans did for our marine life to come back," she says, referencing the Exxon Valdez disaster from 1989, "They had to wait 17 years for their shrimp to return, and they are still waiting on their herring."

It's a slim hope, considering the fact that to date 14 percent of the 250,000 barrels spilled in the Valdez disaster have been recovered. Even by the most conservative estimates, the ongoing BP disaster has erupted many times that amount of oil into the Gulf-and kept most of it underwater via dispersant. Higher-end estimates of the amount of oil erupting from the floor of the gulf show an Exxon Valdez worth of oil injected into the Gulf every two and a half days.

"I'm worried about health problems associated with this disaster," Theresa tells us before we leave, "And we're hoping we can avoid the divorces, suicides and alcoholism that hit so many communities up in Alaska. I'm telling people to stay busy and not think of the oil. Otherwise, you'll drown in it."


20) It's not just BP's oil in the Gulf that threatens world's oceans
Les Blumenthal
McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: July 06, 2010 11:59:20 AM

WASHINGTON - A sobering new report warns that the oceans face a "fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation" not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather.

The report, in Science magazine, brings together dozens of studies that collectively paint a dismal picture of deteriorating ocean health.

"This is further evidence we are well on our way to the next great extinction event," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia and a co-author of the report.

John Bruno, an associate professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the report's other co-author, isn't quite as alarmist, but he's equally concerned.

"We are becoming increasingly certain that the world's marine ecosystems are reaching tipping points," Bruno said, adding, "We really have no power or model to foresee" the impact.

The oceans, which cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, have played a dominant role in regulating the planet's climate. However, even as the understanding of what's happening to terrestrial ecosystems as a result of climate change has grown, studies of marine ecosystems have lagged, the report says. The oceans are acting as a heat sink for rising temperatures and have absorbed about one-third of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities.

Among other things, the report notes:

* The average temperature of the upper level of the oceans has increased more than 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, and global ocean surface temperatures in January were the second warmest ever recorded for that month.

* Though the increase in acidity is slight, it represents a "major departure" from the geochemical conditions that have existed in the oceans for hundred of thousands if not millions of years.

* Nutrient-poor "ocean deserts" in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans grew by 15 percent, or roughly 2.5 million square miles, from 1998 to 2006.

* Oxygen concentrations have been dropping off the Northwest U.S. coast and the coast of southern Africa, where dead zones are appearing regularly. There is paleontological evidence that declining oxygen levels in the oceans played a major role in at least four or five mass extinctions.

* Since the early 1980s, the production of phytoplankton, a crucial creature at the lower end of the food chain, has declined 6 percent, with 70 percent of the decline found in the northern parts of the oceans. Scientists also have found that phytoplankton are becoming smaller.

Volcanic activity and large meteorite strikes in the past have "resulted in hostile conditions that have increased extinction rates and driven ecosystem collapse," the report says. "There is now overwhelming evidence human activities are driving rapid changes on a scale similar to these past events.

"Many of these changes are already occurring within the world's oceans with serious consequences likely over the coming years."

One of the consequences could be a disruption of major ocean currents, particularly those flowing north and south, circulating warm water from the equator to polar regions and cold water from the poles back to the equator. Higher temperatures in polar regions and a decrease in the salinity of surface water due to melting ice sheets could interrupt such circulation, the report says.

The change in currents could further affect such climate phenomena as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation. Scientists just now are starting to understand how these phenomena affect global weather patterns.

"Although our comprehension of how this variability will change over the coming decades remains uncertain, the steady increase in heat content in the ocean and atmosphere are likely to have profound influences on the strength, direction and behavior of the world's major current systems," the report says.

Kelp forests such as those off the Northwest U.S. coast, along with corals, sea grasses, mangroves and salt marsh grasses, are threatened by the changes the oceans are undergoing, the report says. All of them provide habitat for thousands of species.

The polar bear isn't the only polar mammal that faces an escalating risk of extinction, the report says; penguin and seal populations also are declining.

"It's a lot worse than the public thinks," said Nate Mantua, an associate research professor at the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Mantua, who's read the report, said it was clear what was causing the oceans' problems: greenhouse gases. "It is not a mystery," he said.

There's growing concern about low-oxygen or no-oxygen zones appearing more and more regularly off the Northwest coast, Mantua said. Scientists are studying the California Current along the West Coast to determine whether it could be affected, he added.

Richard Feely, a senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said the report in Science seemed so direct because one of the authors was Australian.

"Australians come at you full-bore and lay it on the line," Feely said.

Even so, he said, the condition of the oceans is indeed deteriorating.

"The combination of these impacts are tending to show they are additive," he said. "They combine to make things worse."

Asked what the oceans will be like in 50 years if trends aren't reversed, Bruno, the UNC professor, said that all the problems would have accelerated and there'd be new ones. For instance, he said tens of thousands of species found only in the Pacific might migrate across the top of North America as the sea ice melts and enter the Atlantic, where they've never been.

Bruno said a 50-year time frame to consider changes in the ocean was way too short, however.

"I am a lot more worried about 200 to 300 years out," he said.


21) An Easy Call
"As Al Baker reported in The Times two months ago, black and Latino New Yorkers were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in 2009. But once stopped, they were no more likely than whites to actually be arrested."
July 5, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


22) New Charges for Soldier Accused of Leaking Video
"An Army soldier in Iraq who was arrested for leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced on Tuesday."
July 6, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


23) Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank
July 5, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palestinian officials expressed outrage at the tax breaks.

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

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

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

Sorting Out the Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The challenge is defining those terms and enforcing them.

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

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

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

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

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

Some pro-settler charities have obscured their true intentions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support From a Preacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Unyielding Stance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exacting a Price

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opaque Finances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isabel Kershner and Myra Noveck contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


24) Calls to Update Maritime Laws
"Under current law, recoveries for those who die at sea - be it on a rig or a cruise ship - can be limited to funeral expenses."
July 5, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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