Wednesday, July 14, 2010





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

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

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


The Gulf 20 years from now

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


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

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


COREXIT is Eating Through Boats in the Gulf


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


BP Makes Me Sick


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


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


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


Police State Canada


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


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


Is it raining oil
in Metro New Orleans?
River Ridge, LA
Just south of the airport
[The question mark isn't appropriate in this title. The video clearly shows that it's raining oil in River Ridge--no question about]


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




JOIN US to Support Lynne Stewart

Save these Dates !!!!

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

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

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

And check out this article (link) too!


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


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

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

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

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


Starts Friday 7/16



1881 Post Street at Fillmore
San Francisco , CA 94115

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



2966 College Avenue at Ashby
Berkeley, CA 94705

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


From: Jack Heyman

To All Participants and Supporters of the Israeli ship protest:

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

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

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

In solidarity,


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

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

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

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


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

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

Check our Websites:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United we can change the world!


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


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

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference at SFSU on OCT 16th
Posted on May 24, 2010 by ooofireballooo
Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference
@ San Francisco State University on October 16th

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Proposal: Form a conference organizing listserve immediately!

Please join the google group today.

* Group home page:


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

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


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


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


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

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

For more information, visit:

See you at the gates of Fort Benning in November 2010




Requesting Your Support

By Dahr Jamail
July 12th, 2010
Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online, you can use Paypal to donate HERE.

Donations can also be mailed to:

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

Direct links to our pieces produced thus far:

Living on a dying delta

Fending For Themselves

No Free Press for BP Oil Disaster

Mitigating Annihilation

Hell Has Come to South Louisiana



RIP Oscar!

Victory for movement, but justice still needs to be won

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

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


The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

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

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

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

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

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

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

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

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

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


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


BP Slick Covers Dolphins and


Licence to Spill
Posted on 06.30.10



Georgia: Witnesses in Murder Case Recant
June 23, 2010

In an unusual hearing ordered by the Supreme Court that began in Savannah on Wednesday, several witnesses said they had concocted testimony that Troy Anthony Davis killed a police officer, Mark MacPhail, in 1989. Last August, the Supreme Court ordered a federal district court to determine if new evidence "clearly establishes" Mr. Davis's innocence, its first order in an "actual innocence" petition from a state prisoner in nearly 50 years, according to Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented. Seven of the witnesses who testified against Mr. Davis at his trial have recanted, and some have implicated the chief informer in the case. Mr. Davis's execution has been stayed three times.

For more info: | | Savannah Branch NAACP: 912-233-4161


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




ROV films oil leak coming from rock cracks on seafloor.


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


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

Dear All:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours very truly,

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

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write to Lynne:

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


Roger Waters - "We Shall Overcome" for Gaza


Bernadette McAliskey Quote on Zionists:

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

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


Rachel Maddow: Disgraceful response to the oil itself


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


Gulf Oil Spill?

Dear Readers,

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

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

The two are inextricably entwined and interdependent.

--Bonnie Weinstein

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

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

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

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

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

Live BP Gulf Oil Spill Webcam Video Reveals 5 Leaks

Stop Shell Oil's Offshore Drilling Plans in the Arctic

Sign the Petition to Ban Offshore Drilling Now!



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

BP's Unmitigated Greed

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

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

BP's Materially False and Misleading Statements

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

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

Protecting BP's Super-Profits

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

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

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

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

Take Action Now

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

Seize BP Petition button*:


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


Operation Small Axe - Trailer


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal



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


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

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

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) 12 Leftist Rebels Killed in Colombia
July 11, 2010

2) A Few Blocks, 4 Years, 52,000 Police Stops
July 11, 2010

3) Israel's Video Game Killing Technology
By Jonathan Cook
The Electronic Intifada
July 13, 2010

4) Outside the Casino
July 12, 2010

5) Israeli Navy blocks aid vessel en route to Gaza
Topic: Israel attacks Pro-Palestinian aid flotilla
July 13, 2010

6) 500 Fishermen Claim BP Didn't Pay Them
* Video: 500 Fishermen Claim BP Didn't Pay Them
July 8, 2010

7) The Conscience of a Liberal
Paul Krugman
A Quotation Ruined By Context
"By the way, what is And why is it the best site for so many economics classics?"
July 13, 2010, 12:32 pm

8) BP Is Set to Test if New Cap Stops Oil
July 13, 2010

9) Chinese Factories Now Compete to Woo Laborers
July 12, 2010

10) 82 Police Hurt in Northern Ireland Rioting
July 13, 2010

11) Both Frail and Feisty, Fidel Castro Goes on TV
"'One day the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away,' Mr. Bush once said."
[Does that mean that Mr. Bush thinks he's immune to the will of the good Lord? Good Lord!]
July 12, 2010

12) 400 Park Geese Die, for Human Fliers' Sake
July 12, 2010

13) U.S. Issues Revised Offshore Drilling Ban
"The revised moratorium would allow some drilling rigs to resume operating under certain conditions. To qualify, the rig's owners must prove that they have adequate plans in place to quickly shut down an out-of-control well, that the blowout preventers atop the wells it drills have passed rigorous new tests, and that sufficient cleanup resources are on hand in case of a spill. Industry officials said it would be difficult to meet those conditions quickly, which could threaten thousands of jobs."
July 12, 2010

14) The Class War We Need
July 11, 2010

15) Throwing Mumia Under the Bus
The Politics of Death
By Dave Lindorff
June 30, 2010
The Secret Memo
By Elizabeth Zitrin, Death Penalty Focus (DPF); Renny Cushing and Kate Lowenstein, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR); Speedy Rice, National Association of Defense Lawyers (NACDL); Kristin Houle, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP); Juan Matos de Juan, Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA)
June 28, 2010

16) U.S. Delays Test of Device That Could Seal Gulf Well
"A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well."
July 14, 2010

17) Animal Autopsies in Gulf Reveal Only a Mystery
July 14, 2010

18) Trapped by Gaza Blockade, Locked in Despair
July 13, 2010

19) Philip Morris Is Said to Benefit From Child Labor
July 13, 2010

20) Police Are Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings
July 13, 2010

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


1) 12 Leftist Rebels Killed in Colombia
July 11, 2010

BOGOTÁ, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian forces killed 12 leftist rebels on Sunday in a surprise attack on a unit assigned to protect the nation's top guerrilla leader, punctuating a bloody weekend that left another 14 people dead around the country, the Defense Ministry said.

The rebels who died in the surprise raid, the ministry said, were part of the personal guard of Guillermo Sáenz, known as Alfonso Cano, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

In separate battles over the weekend, government officials said 10 soldiers, two police officers and two civilians also were killed as troops tried to wrest control of areas of the country from FARC.

Local news media reports have said Colombia's army is closing in on Mr. Cano. His death or capture would give political momentum to Juan Manuel Santos, a former defense minister who was elected president in June and is to be sworn in next month.

While serving as defense minister, Mr. Santos directed military strikes against FARC.

The surprise attack was carried out early Sunday morning by police officers and Colombia's Air Force and Army in the mountainous central province of Tolima. The remains of eight men and four women from a guerrilla unit assigned to guard Mr. Cano were recovered, according to a Defense Ministry statement.


2) A Few Blocks, 4 Years, 52,000 Police Stops
July 11, 2010

When night falls, police officers blanket some eight odd blocks of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Squad cars with flashing lights cruise along the main avenues: Livonia to Powell to Sutter to Rockaway. And again.

On the inner streets, dozens of officers, many fresh out of the police academy, walk in pairs or linger on corners. Others, deeper within the urban grid, navigate a maze of public housing complexes, patrolling the stairwells and hallways.

This small army of officers, night after night, spends much of its energy pursuing the controversial Police Department tactic known as "Stop, Question, Frisk," and it does so at a rate unmatched anywhere else in the city.

The officers stop people they think might be carrying guns; they stop and question people who merely enter the public housing project buildings without a key; they ask for identification from, and run warrant checks on, young people halted for riding bicycles on the sidewalk.

One night, 20 officers surrounded a man outside the Brownsville Houses after he would not let an officer smell the contents of his orange juice container.

Between January 2006 and March 2010, the police made nearly 52,000 stops on these blocks and in these buildings, according to a New York Times analysis of data provided by the Police Department and two organizations, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York Civil Liberties Union. In each of those encounters, officers logged the names of those stopped - whether they were arrested or not - into a police database that the police say is valuable in helping solve future crimes.

These encounters amounted to nearly one stop a year for every one of the 14,000 residents of these blocks. In some instances, people were stopped because the police said they fit the description of a suspect. But the data show that fewer than 9 percent of stops were made based on "fit description." Far more - nearly 26,000 times - the police listed either "furtive movement," a catch-all category that critics say can mean anything, or "other" as the only reason for the stop. Many of the stops, the data show, were driven by the police's ability to enforce seemingly minor violations of rules governing who can come and go in the city's public housing.

The encounters - most urgently meant to get guns off the streets - yield few arrests. Across the city, 6 percent of stops result in arrests. In these roughly eight square blocks of Brownsville, the arrest rate is less than 1 percent. The 13,200 stops the police made in this neighborhood last year resulted in arrests of 109 people. In the more than 50,000 stops since 2006, the police recovered 25 guns.

Greg Jackson, 58, a former professional basketball player who runs the Brownsville Recreation Center, said the rising tide of stops had left many who wanted a strong police presence here feeling conflicted.

"Do we welcome the police?" he said, "Of course I do. Ninety-nine percent of the people in the area do. But they also fear the police because you can get stopped at any time."

New York is among several major cities across the country that rely heavily on the stop-and-frisk tactic, but few cities, according to law enforcement experts, employ it with such intensity. In 2002, the police citywide documented 97,000 of these stops; last year, the department registered a record: 580,000.

There are, to be sure, plenty of reasons for the police to be out in force in this section of Brooklyn, and plenty of reasons for residents to want them there. Murders, shootings and drug dealing have historically made this one of the worst crime corridors in the city.

But now, in an era of lower crime rates, both in this part of Brooklyn and across the city, questions are swirling over what is emerging as a central tool in the crime fight, one intended to give officers the power to engage anyone they reasonably suspect has committed a crime or is about to.

The practice has come under intense scrutiny. Lawmakers are monitoring the situation. Civil libertarians are challenging it. The Police Department is studying it. And police officials, from Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly to local precinct commanders, are defending it.

"I don't know what too many stops are," said Deputy Inspector Juanita Holmes, who until recently was in charge of the department's officers specifically assigned to protect the housing projects that largely make up these blocks of Brownsville. "The stops conducted by us are to address the crime, or the quality-of-life issues."

A Troubled Neighborhood

In a dank stairwell inside 340 Dumont Avenue, a dim light flickers and the stench of urine fills the air. It was here in 1988 in the Samuel J. Tilden Houses that Officer Anthony O. McLean took a bullet to the chest. He had been searching for a missing 10-year-old girl when he stumbled into a drug deal.

Crime here - a rectangle of housing developments and faded commercial strips - is hardly what it was in those bloody days. But the labyrinth of stairwells, hallways, courtyards, lobbies and roofs of the complexes - 65 buildings ranging from 6-story apartment buildings to 20-story towers - still presents a dangerous challenge for police.

Lobby mailboxes are used for drug transactions. Locks and intercoms meant to allow in only residents and their visitors are routinely broken. Officers say they often find bullet casings on the roofs, where people take target practice or fire in the air in celebration.

In November 2008, a man delivering meals for charity was shot dead in a lobby of the Brownsville Houses after delivering food to two elderly women. Five months later, a 43-year-old woman was stabbed to death trying to break up a fight outside her apartment in the Tilden Houses.

"It's tough," said Deputy Inspector Holmes, who took over command of these housing projects in 2008. "A lot of our kids in the area carry guns. Whether they carry them for protection, 'because I'm trying to get to school without being victimized,' or they carry them 'because I'm going to rob somebody today,' there are a lot of guns out there. And it creates a challenge."

In 2007, the year before she took command, shootings in the five developments had reached a five-year high. During her first six months on the job, her officers increased stops by 23 percent from the previous six months, the data show. The next year, her officers made more than 10,000 stops.

Deputy Inspector Holmes said she studied the number of stop-and-frisks in her area closely, and credited them with making the houses safer for law-abiding residents. She said over the first six months of this year violent crime was down in almost every category in the five complexes.

But that same success has not been seen outside the developments. Shootings are up 39 percent in the 73rd Precinct this year. In 2008 the precinct, which includes these blocks of public housing, led the city in murders, and it consistently has one of the city's highest rates of violent crime.

Still, Deputy Inspector Samuel Wright, who took over command of the precinct in January 2009, says stop-and-frisks have "had a significant impact" on crime reduction.

"In 2008 there were a lot of murders in the 73rd Precinct," he said. "We were able to reduce homicides by 32 percent in 2009, and I think that was attributed to the stop, question and frisk policy. We had a reduction in robberies. We had a reduction in grand larcenies."

Law enforcement experts say that it is very hard, perhaps even impossible, to draw direct connections between the stop-and-frisk tactic and significant long-term crime reduction.

Certainly, some say that the New York Police Department has so far failed to convincingly link the explosion in the numbers of stops with crime suppression.

And some, from academics to the residents of these streets in Brooklyn, believe the stops could have a corrosive effect, alienating young and old alike in a community that has long had a tenuous relationship with the police.

"This is an important issue, right now, that the N.Y.P.D. must get out in front of as soon as they can," said Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. "And the best way they can do that is to provide credible evidence that the stop-and-frisk campaign actually is responsible for the crime reductions the city has enjoyed."

Without that evidence, he said, the stop-and-frisks that do not result in arrests could "reduce the perceived legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the public."

One researcher who has studied the impact of stop-and-frisk on crime insists it is effective. In a 2008 study presented to the City Council, Dennis C. Smith, a professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, wrote that the strategy was effective across the city for robbery, murder, burglary and auto theft. But it found no citywide impact on assault, rape or grand larceny. The study also suggested the tool's success varies over time and often loses effectiveness as the volume of stops increases.

"One important implication is that effective crime fighting requires continuous innovation," wrote Professor Smith, who is an expert witness for the Police Department in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights over allegations of racial profiling in stop-and-frisk. "Another is the interventions are blunt instruments that need to be used with care."

Calls for Sensitivity

To many residents here, care is exactly what is not being used. To them, the flood of young officers who roam the community each day are not equipped to make the subtle judgments required to tell one young man in low-hanging jeans concealing a weapon from another young man wearing similar clothes on his way to school.

The United States Supreme Court established the legal basis for stops and frisks - reasonable suspicion of a crime - in the 1968 case of Terry v. Ohio. But the officer in that case had a far different level of experience than many of the officers walking the streets of Brownsville. He had patrolled the same streets of downtown Cleveland for 30 years looking for pickpockets and shoplifters.

By comparison, the nearly 200 officers who operate in the neighborhood as part of Mr. Kelly's "Impact Zone" program - flooding problematic crime pockets with a battery of police - are largely on their first assignment out of the academy.

The data show the initiative is conducted aggressively, sometimes in what can seem like a frenzy. During one month - January 2007 - the police executed an average of 61 stops a day.

The high number of stops in this part of Brooklyn can be explained in part by the fact that police can use violations of city Housing Authority rules to justify stops. For instance, the Housing Authority, which oversees public housing developments, forbids people from being in their buildings unless they live there or are visiting someone.

And so on a single Friday in January 2009, the police stopped 109 people in this area, 55 of them inside the project buildings, almost half for suspicion of trespassing. The show of force resulted in two arrests for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and misdemeanor possession of a weapon.

Inside the project buildings and out, males 15 to 34 years of age, who make up about 11 percent of the area's population, accounted for 68 percent of the stops over the years. That amounted to about five stops a year each, though it was impossible to tell how often someone was stopped or if that person lived in the neighborhood, because the data did not include the names or addresses of those stopped. Police officials say the age figures sound right, since most crime suspects fit that description.

Young black men get stopped so often that a few years ago, Gus Cyrus, coach of the football team at nearby Thomas Jefferson High School, started letting his players leave practice with their bright orange helmets so the police would not confuse them with gang members.

"My players were always calling me saying 'Coach, the police have me,' " Mr. Cyrus said.

At an entrance to 305 Livonia Avenue, a 16-story building in Tilden Houses, the door lock has been broken for weeks. It is the same at 360 Dumont Avenue, negating anyone's need for a key to get inside. At 363 Dumont Avenue, in the Brownsville Houses, another metal lock is broken to another door.

Young men cluster around the doorways on hot summer evenings. Mothers sit on benches outside them as they guard children in the courtyard playgrounds.

And officers are watching. If someone enters without a key, it is reason to stop them, check for identification and, if necessary, take out handcuffs.

Many residents say they philosophically embrace the police presence. They say they know too well how the violence around them - the drugs and gangs - can swallow up young people.

Yet the day-to-day interactions with officers can seem so arbitrary that many residents say they often come away from encounters with officers feeling violated, degraded and resentful.

Almost everyone in the projects has a story. There is Jonathan Guity, a 26-year-old legal assistant with no criminal record, who, when asked how many times he had been stopped in the neighborhood where he grew up, said, "Honestly, I'd say 30 to 40 times. I'm serious."

The most recent stop, he said, was about three months ago after he had dropped his girlfriend off at the subway. As he walked home listening to his iPod, he noticed a dark blue Chevrolet following him. Suddenly, the car pulled up on the sidewalk, and two men jumped out. One put his hand on Mr. Guity's pants pocket, he said.

"I slapped his hand away and I'm like, 'What are you doing?' " Mr. Guity said. "He was like, 'Oh,' and he pulled out his badge, so he was like, it was like, 'There was a shooting around here five minutes ago and you fit the description.' "

Oddly, years ago when crime was higher, relations with the police seemed better, several residents said. The officers seemed to show a greater sense of who was law abiding and who was not, they said. Now, many residents say, the newer crop of officers seem to be more interested in small offenses than engaging with residents.

"Rookies," said Sandra Carter, 60, as she sat on a bench outside 372 Blake Avenue.

Several residents painted a portrait of officers moving in only to enforce rules that seemed to always be changing. Once, officers suddenly began telling people they could not congregate around the metal hand rails surrounding an entrance to the building, residents said.

At the local recreation center in Brownsville, Darryl Glenn, 49, stood in the gym with his son, Darryl Jr., and spoke of the need for officers to be there - but also of the equal need for them to improve their performance.

"If anything, there needs to be more police around," said the teenager, who is headed to college. But, he said, the officers could better handle some stop situations, particularly by working to get better descriptions of suspects and by communicating more effectively the reason for the stop.

"When they give a description, it's, 'Young black man, black pants, blue shirt, black hat,' " he said. 'That's mostly everybody. A better description would be better, so they can know who they're looking for, rather than just everyone walking around."

High Number of Stops

The Times, for this article, interviewed 12 current or former officers who had worked in this part of Brooklyn in the last five years, and all defended the necessity of the stop-and-frisks.

But some former officers who worked the area say the stops seem less geared to bringing down crime than feeding the department's appetite for numbers - a charge police officials steadfastly deny. Though none said they were ever given quotas to hit, all but two said that certain performance measures were implicitly expected in their monthly activity reports. Lots of stop-and-frisk reports suggested a vigilant officer.

"When I was there the floor number was 10 a month," one officer said. Like many of the officers interviewed for this article, he asked not to be identified because he was still in law enforcement and worried that being seen as critical of the New York department could hurt his future employment opportunities.

He said if you produced 10 stops - known as a UF-250 for the standardized departmental reports the stops generate - you were not likely to draw the attention of a supervisor. "And in all fairness," he said, "if you're working in that area, 10 a month is very low. All you have to do is open your eyes."

Another former officer who worked in the 73rd Precinct said the pressure was felt more overtly to get an arrest or a criminal summons, but in lieu of those, extra 250s would compensate.

"A lot of us didn't want to bang everyone," the officer said. "These people have a hard enough time in the situation they're living in without making it worse by hitting them with a summons, having them travel to Manhattan for criminal court, and the bosses would get upset and say, 'Well, give us some UF-250s.' It's an easy number."

While each 250 is required to be approved and signed by a supervisor, one former housing officer said getting them was easy: "Just go to the well."

The well, said this officer, is the lobby of any of the many housing buildings. Ryan Sheridan, one of the former officers who said he had never heard supervisors emphasize numbers, nonetheless acknowledged that the lobby and hallways were a legitimate source of 250s.

"Once they walk into the building, every UF-250 can come from a do-not-enter, meaning entering without a key," he said. "But once you ask them for an ID, 90 percent of the people live in the building. That's why the arrest rate is so low. They're not acting suspiciously, but like I said, they don't have a key to enter."

Deputy Inspector Holmes said she never emphasized numbers and scoffed at the notion that her officers were using broken locks to initiate 250s.

"I think that was bad information," she said.

One recent evening, the police stopped a 19-year-old man for spitting on the sidewalk, a health code violation, and entering Langston Hughes Apartments without using a key or being buzzed in, even though the doors were unlocked. "I've lived here for 19 years," the young man, who lived in a neighboring building, protested. "You see me coming into these buildings every day, and now you're going to stop me."

The reaction was natural. "People don't enjoy being stopped going to and from where they're going," one of the officers, Robert McNamara, said later. But the officers also had another rationale, he said. They had spotted the same man near the scene of a dropped gun some days earlier, and hoped to use the stop to check for outstanding warrants. None found, they let him go without citing him, using the kind of discretion necessary in these situations, Officer McNamara said.

Stop-and-frisk is a "valuable tool," he said, "but there needs to be some common sense when using the tool."


3) Israel's Video Game Killing Technology
By Jonathan Cook
The Electronic Intifada
July 13, 2010

It is called Spot and Shoot. Operators sit in front of a TV monitor from which they can control the action with a PlayStation-style joystick.

The aim: to kill terrorists.

Played by: young women serving in the Israeli army.

Spot and Shoot, as it is called by the Israeli military, may look like a video game but the figures on the screen are real people-Palestinians in Gaza-who can be killed with the press of a button on the joystick.

The female soldiers, located far away in an operations room, are responsible for aiming and firing remote-controlled machine-guns mounted on watchtowers every few hundred meters along an electronic fence that surrounds Gaza.

The system is one of the latest "remote killing" devices developed by Israel's Rafael armaments company, the former weapons research division of the Israeli army and now a separate governmental firm.

According to Giora Katz, Rafael's vice-president, remote-controlled military hardware such as Spot and Shoot is the face of the future. He expects that within a decade at least a third of the machines used by the Israeli army to control land, air and sea will be unmanned.

The demand for such devices, the Israeli army admits, has been partly fueled by a combination of declining recruitment levels and a population less ready to risk death in combat.

Oren Berebbi, head of its technology branch, recently told an American newspaper: "We're trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield. ...We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk."

Rapid progress with the technology has raised alarm at the United Nations. Philip Alston, its special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, warned last month of the danger that a "PlayStation mentality to killing" could quickly emerge.

According to analysts, however, Israel is unlikely to turn its back on hardware that it has been at the forefront of developing-using the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and especially Gaza, as testing laboratories.

Remotely controlled weapons systems are in high demand from repressive regimes and the burgeoning homeland security industries around the globe.

"These systems are still in the early stages of development but there is a large and growing market for them," said Shlomo Brom, a retired general and defense analyst at the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The Spot and Shoot system-officially known as Sentry Tech-has mostly attracted attention in Israel because it is operated by 19- and 20-year-old female soldiers, making it the Israeli army's only weapons system operated exclusively by women.

Female soldiers are preferred to operate remote killing devices because of a shortage of male recruits to Israel's combat units. Young women can carry out missions without breaking the social taboo of risking their lives, said Brom.

The women are supposed to identify anyone suspicious approaching the fence around Gaza and, if authorized by an officer, execute them using their joysticks.

The Israeli army, which plans to introduce the technology along Israel's other confrontation lines, refuses to say how many Palestinians have been killed by the remotely controlled machine-guns in Gaza. According to the Israeli media, however, it is believed to be several dozen.

The system was phased-in two years ago for surveillance, but operators were only able to open fire with it more recently. The army admitted using Sentry Tech in December to kill at least two Palestinians several hundred meters inside the fence.

The Haaretz newspaper, which was given rare access to a Sentry Tech control room, quoted one soldier, Bar Keren, 20, saying: "It's very alluring to be the one to do this. But not everyone wants this job. It's no simple matter to take up a joystick like that of a Sony PlayStation and kill, but ultimately it's for defense."

Audio sensors on the towers mean that the women hear the shot as it kills the target. No woman, Haaretz reported, had failed the task of shooting what the army calls an "incriminated" Palestinian.

The Israeli military, which enforces a so-called "buffer zone"-an unmarked no-man's land-inside the fence that reaches as deep as 300 meters into the tiny enclave, has been widely criticized for opening fire on civilians entering the closed zone.

In separate incidents in April, a 21-year-old Palestinian demonstrator was shot dead and a Maltese solidarity activist wounded when they took part in protests to plant a Palestinian flag in the buffer zone. The Maltese woman, Bianca Zammit, was videoing as she was hit.

It is unclear whether Spot and Shoot has been used against such demonstrations.

The Israeli army claims Sentry Tech is "revolutionary." And that will make its marketing potential all the greater as other armies seek out innovations in "remote killing" technology.

Rafael is reported to be developing a version of Sentry Tech that will fire long-range guided missiles.

Another piece of hardware recently developed for the Israeli army is the Guardium, an armored robot-car that can patrol territory at up to 80 kilometers per hour, navigate through cities, launch "ambushes" and shoot at targets. It now patrols the Israeli borders with Gaza and Lebanon.

Its Israeli developers, G-Nius, have called it the world's first "robot soldier." It looks like a first-generation version of the imaginary "robot-amour" worn by soldiers in the popular recent sci-fi movie, "Avatar."

Rafael has produced the first unmanned naval patrol boat, the "Protector," which has been sold to Singapore's navy and is being heavily marketing in the U.S.. A Rafael official, Patrick Bar-Avi, told the Israeli business daily Globes: "Navies worldwide are only now beginning to examine the possible uses of such vehicles, and the possibilities are endless."

But Israel is most known for its role in developing "unmanned aerial vehicles"-or drones, as they have come to be known. Originally intended for spying, and first used by Israel over south Lebanon in the early 1980s, today they are increasingly being used for extrajudicial executions from thousands of feet in the sky.

In February Israel officially unveiled the 14 meter-long Heron TP drone, the largest ever. Capable of flying from Israel to Iran and carrying more than a ton of weapons, the Heron was tested by Israel in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008-09, when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

More than 40 countries now operate drones, many of them made in Israel, although so far only the Israeli and U.S. armies have deployed them as remote-controlled killing machines. Israeli drones are being widely used in Afghanistan.

Smaller drones have been sold to the German, Australian, Spanish, French, Russian, Indian and Canadian armies. Brazil is expected to use the drone to provide security for the 2014 World Cup championship, and the Panamanian and Salvadoran governments want them too, ostensibly to run counter-drug operations.

Despite its diplomatic crisis with Ankara, Israel was reported last month to have completed a deal selling a fleet of ten Herons to the Turkish army for $185 million.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).


4) Outside the Casino
July 12, 2010

The hustlers and high rollers at Wall Street's gaming tables are starting to feel lucky again.

Hiring is beginning to pick up in the very sector that led the country to the edge of a depression. An article on the front page of The Times on Sunday noted that this turnaround "underscores the remarkable recovery of the biggest banks and brokerage firms since Washington rescued them in the fall of 2008, and follows the huge rebound in profits for members of the New York Stock Exchange, which totaled $61.4 billion in 2009, the most ever."

The hustlers and high rollers are always there to skim the cream, no matter what's happening in the real world of ordinary American families.

In a column that was published a few days before Christmas 2007, the very month that the great recession began, I wrote about the record-breaking seasonal bonuses being handed out on Wall Street: an obscene $38 billion, the highest total ever. The subprime mortgage debacle was already upon us and the economy was sinking like a stone, but the casino crowd was celebrating as never before. "Even as the Wall Streeters are high-fiving and ordering up record shipments of Champagne and caviar," I noted, "the American dream is on life support."

The fattest of the fat cats live in a perpetual heads-I-win, tails-you-lose environment. But if you step outside the Wall Street casino, you'll notice that things aren't going too well in the rest of the country. More than 14 million Americans are out of work, and nearly half of them have been jobless for six months or longer. The unemployment rate for black Americans is 15.4 percent.

School districts across the country are taking drastic steps to cope with collapsing budgets: firing personnel, increasing class sizes, cutting kindergarten and summer-school programs and, in some cases, moving to a four-day school week. The Associated Press, in a demoralizing report, recently noted: "As the school budget crisis deepens, administrators across the nation have started to view school libraries as luxuries that can be axed rather than places where kids learn to love reading and do research."

What a country. We'll do whatever it takes to make sure the bankers keep living the high life and swilling that Champagne while at the same time we're taking books out of the hands of schoolchildren trying to get an education.

I'm no friend of the deficit hawks, but the staggering amounts of money we've been spending for the past several years have not benefited the people most in need of help and have not laid the foundation for a more secure economy going forward. We've handed over unconscionable tax breaks to the very rich (you can see the Prada paraders high-stepping along Fifth Avenue in their million-dollar flip-flops) and countless billions to the private contractors brazenly feeding off the agony of the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Sunday's paper also had an article about six more American G.I.'s killed in Afghanistan.)

What's needed is the same sense of urgency about helping struggling families and putting people back to work as the Bush and Obama crowds showed when the banks were about to go bust. That sense of urgency is always missing when it's ordinary people who are in trouble.

Millions of Americans are stuck in an economic depression. Several million have either lost their homes to foreclosure during the recession or are in imminent danger of losing them. The long-term unemployed are facing painful daily choices on such basic matters as whether to buy food or refill needed prescription medication or pay electric bills to keep the lights on.

Back in February, The Times's Peter Goodman wrote about the new poor, "people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives - potentially for years to come."

There can be no real national recovery with so many millions of people in such deep economic distress. We can pretend that we're locked in some kind of crisis of confidence, that if only people felt better about themselves and the economy then they'd start spending again. This is a variation on the "mental recession" lunacy spouted by Phil Gramm, John McCain's top economic adviser during the presidential campaign.

People who are out of work and deeply in debt don't have any money to spend. The only way to get real money back into their wallets and bank accounts (and thus back into the economy) is to get them back to work.

With our help, the banks and Wall Street have done fine. Better than they had any right to expect. It's the ordinary folks outside the casino, in the real world, who are still in desperate need of help. But in a society of, by and for the rich, that help will be a long time coming.


5) Israeli Navy blocks aid vessel en route to Gaza
Topic: Israel attacks Pro-Palestinian aid flotilla
July 13, 2010

An Israeli Navy cutter has blocked the route of the Al-Amal vessel carrying humanitarian aid from Libya to Gaza, a statement from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) said on Tuesday.

"An Israeli Navy cutter is obstructing the Al-Amal on its way to Gaza ... The captain of the vessel has turned the ship round and is sailing to the Egyptian port of El Arish," the statement said.

A spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces said the vessel is not heading for El Arish.

"We have begun the process of indentifying the vessel and started negotiations to prevent it sailing to Gaza," she said.

The 92-metre Moldova-flagged Al-Amal ("Hope" in Arabic) cargo ship left the Greek port of Lavrio on Saturday to sail for Gaza, despite Israeli warnings that it should not approach Palestinian territory.

The aid ship is sponsored by the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF), headed by the son of the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The vessel is carrying around 2,000 tons of aid and many activists.

On May 31, the Israeli military stormed the Freedom Flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza Strip and up to 700 human rights activists in neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

The operation claimed the lives of at least nine activists of the Turkish Mavi Marmara. Arab media reports put the death toll at close to 20.

DUBAI, July 13 (RIA Novosti)


6) 500 Fishermen Claim BP Didn't Pay Them
* Video: 500 Fishermen Claim BP Didn't Pay Them
July 8, 2010

Hundreds Of Fishermen Missing Checks From BP
BP Gives No Indication Of When Payments Resume

GRAND ISLE, La. -- Hundreds of fishermen from Lake Charles to Moss Point, Miss., were supposed to get checks from BP on Wednesday but didn't.

Wednesday night, their lawyer wanted answers.

Jeffrey Briet represents more than 500 fishermen, and he said the payment system he set up with BP required his clients to be paid every 30 days. Now that process has suddenly changed without warning, Briet said.

"Not only did they spring it on us that the process has changed, but the people I've been dealing with for six weeks who've done a good job said, 'We don't know what the process is going to be. We're not authorized to talk to you about it. Someone from BP will contact you,'" he said.

But Briet said he hasn't heard from BP or its lawyers. He said the claims people have been given so much conflicting information about the process that they can't provide answers.

"They couldn't tell me," he said. "And I said, 'I've got 500 people I'm meeting on Saturday. They want to know what the process is.'"

It's not the first time BP has given conflicting information.

On June 11, BP's security contractors tried to keep WDSU from speaking to cleanup workers despite the fact that BP released a statement two days earlier saying the workers could speak to the media.

On May 14, St. Bernard Parish fishermen were upset with low pay and out-of-towners taking their work.

Briet said he's meeting with some fishermen from Moss Point Thursday morning and more on Saturday in Jennings. He said BP hasn't given him any indication when the payments will resume.


7) The Conscience of a Liberal
Paul Krugman
A Quotation Ruined By Context
"By the way, what is And why is it the best site for so many economics classics?"
July 13, 2010, 12:32 pm

Via Brad DeLong, I learned of this great line by J.S. Mill*:

What was affirmed by Cicero of all things with which philosophy is conversant, may be asserted without scruple of the subject of currency - that there is no opinion so absurd as not to have been maintained by some person of reputation. There even appears to be on this subject a peculiar tenacity of error - a perpetual principle of resuscitation in slain absurdity.

Right on! But wait - what is the absurdity of which Mill was speaking?

There are writers of pretension, not only out of Bedlam, but even, we can assure Sir Robert Peel, out of Birmingham, who think it the duty of the legislature periodically to degrade the standard (or to authorize an increase of inconvertible paper exactly equivalent) in proportion as the progress of industry creates an increase of productions and a multiplication of pecuniary transactions.

Translation: there are crazy people who think that the money supply should grow over time, in line with the long-run growth of real GDP. By that standard, Milton Friedman was crazy.

Oh well.

*By the way, what is And why is it the best site for so many economics classics?


8) BP Is Set to Test if New Cap Stops Oil
July 13, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - With a new, tighter-fitting cap in place on its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP prepared on Tuesday to test whether the gusher could be stopped completely.

Kent Wells, a senior vice president of the company, said a pressure test, in which valves on the cap would be closed, shutting down the leak for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in late April, would probably start later Tuesday and last for 6 to 48 hours.

Mr. Wells said at a briefing in Houston that the installation of the new cap was completed Monday evening, ahead of schedule. "It really went extremely well," he said. "But we know that the job's not over yet."

If the tests on the well show the pressure rising and holding - an indication that the well is intact, with no significant damage to the casing pipe that runs the length of the well bore to 13,000 feet below the seafloor - BP, working with government scientists, could decide to leave the valves closed, effectively shutting off the well.

On the other hand, the tests could show pressures that are lower than expected, Mr. Wells said, an indication that the well is damaged. That could mean that oil and gas are leaking into the surrounding rock.

In that case, keeping the cap closed could damage the well further. The valves would have to be reopened and oil would start escaping from the well again, although much of it, and perhaps eventually all, would be funneled through pipes to surface ships.

Mr. Wells said scientists would be analyzing the pressure readings throughout the course of the test. "When the data says we need to open up the well, we'll do that," he said. "When the data says we can shut it in, we'll shut it in. We'll just have to see what the test tells us."

Mr. Wells said crews were conducting a seismic survey of the seafloor around the well as a prelude to the test, to help scientists determine whether oil leaks out of the well under the seafloor during it.

A technician with knowledge of the operation said that it was unlikely that the well would be left shut beyond the test period, given the risk that the pressure could eventually cause problems within the well and given that with the new cap BP should soon be able to collect all the oil.

"Do I want to make that bet that there's sufficient inherent strength in that well path to keep that well contained?" said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the work. "Why would we take that chance?"

On Monday, Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer for exploration and production, said that engineers and scientists would evaluate risks based on the pressure results, and that the various collection systems, which would be shut down during the test, would be on standby if the company decided to leave the valves closed.

"If we did discover a problem, we could resume containment operations," he said. If containment were resumed, either at the end of the test period or later, it would continue until the company could complete work on a relief well - by the end of July or August at the earliest. Mr. Suttles said that even if the new cap was kept closed, the relief well work would continue "ultimately to make sure this well can never flow to surface again."

BP's latest subsea engineering effort proceeded smoothly, with few of the hitches that marred some earlier efforts. Removal of the old, looser-fitting cap went quickly, and clearing the way for the new cap by removing six 50-pound bolts that held a stub of riser pipe was straightforward.

At 6:20 p.m. central time on Monday, video from the seafloor showed the cap being lowered onto a connector pipe that had been installed the day before. The cap's latching mechanism had a sticker on the side that read "THINK twice, act once!!"

Mr. Wells said the cap was latched in place by 7 p.m. Perhaps learning from previous frustrations, engineers had made plenty of contingency plans, including having another loose-fitting cap on standby in case there were significant setbacks with the tighter-fitting one. Backup tools were available to help get the pipe stub off if the first one, called an overshot tool, did not work. The additional tools were not needed.

Engineers had performed dry runs, on land, of the installation of the cap, a 75-ton assemblage of forged steel with three hydraulic valves, or rams, much like those on the blowout preventer that failed when the blowout occurred on April 20. An animated video was produced to show technicians at the well site, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, how the work would proceed, to help coordinate the movement of vessels and remotely operated submersibles.

Mr. Wells said a new collection system that could divert up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day began operating Monday and was funneling oil to a surface ship, the Helix Producer, at a rate of about 12,500 barrels a day. It was expected to reach full capacity over several days, although it and another system that is diverting about 8,000 barrels a day to another ship will be shut down during the test.

The work on the new cap began on Saturday, when the old one was removed. That cap had been funneling about 15,000 barrels of oil a day. Since then, oil has been gushing from the top of the well.

If the pressure tests show that the well is damaged and the valves have to be reopened, full containment of the oil would probably not occur for several weeks, until one or two more ships could be brought in to handle more of the oil. That would raise total collection capacity to more than 60,000 barrels a day, the current high-end estimate of the well's flow rate. Halting the gusher would then await the completion of the first relief well at the end of July or later.

Henry Fountain reported from New Orleans, and Alan Cowell from London.


9) Chinese Factories Now Compete to Woo Laborers
July 12, 2010

ZHONGSHAN, China - If Wang Jinyan, an unemployed factory worker with a middle school education, had a résumé, it might start out like this: "Objective: seeking well-paid, slow-paced assembly-line work in air-conditioned plant with Sundays off, free wireless Internet and washing machines in dormitory. Friendly boss a plus."

As she eased her way along a gantlet of recruiters in this manufacturing megalopolis one recent afternoon, Ms. Wang, 25, was in no particular rush to find a job. An underwear company was offering subsidized meals and factory worker fashion shows. The maker of electric heaters promised seven-and-a-half-hour days. "If you're good, you can work in quality control and won't have to stand all day," bragged a woman hawking jobs for a shoe manufacturer.

Ms. Wang flashed an unmistakable look of ennui and popped open an umbrella to shield her fair complexion from the South China sun. "They always make these jobs sound better than they really are," she said, turning away. "Besides, I don't do shoes. Can't stand the smell of glue."

Assertive, self-possessed workers like Ms. Wang have become a challenge for the industrial titans of the Pearl River Delta that once filled their mammoth workshops with an endless stream of pliant labor from China's rural belly.

In recent months, as the country's export-driven juggernaut has been revived and many migrants have found jobs closer to home, the balance of power in places like Zhongshan has shifted, forcing employers to compete for new workers - and to prevent seasoned ones from defecting to sweeter prospects.

The shortage has emboldened workers and inspired a spate of strikes in and around Zhongshan that paralyzed Honda's Chinese operations last month. The unrest then spread to the northern city of Tianjin, where strikers briefly paralyzed production at a Toyota car plant and a Japanese-owned electronics factory.

Although the walkouts were quelled with higher salaries, factory owners and labor experts said that the strikes have driven home a looming reality that had been predicted by demographers: the supply of workers 16 to 24 years old has peaked and will drop by a third in the next 12 years, thanks to stringent family-planning policies that have sharply reduced China's population growth.

In Zhongshan, many factories are operating with vacancies of 15 to 20 percent, compelling some bosses to cruise the streets in their BMWs and Mercedeses in a desperate hiring quest during crunch time.

The other new reality, perhaps harder to quantify, is this: young Chinese factory workers, raised in a country with rapidly rising expectations, are less willing to toil for long hours for appallingly low wages like dutiful automatons.

Guo Yuhua, a sociologist at Tsinghua University, said the new cohort of itinerant workers was better educated, Internet-savvy and covetous of the urban niceties they discovered after leaving the farm. "They want a life just like city folk, and they have no interest in going back to being farmers," said Ms. Guo, who studies China's 230 million-strong migrant population.

But the more immediate challenge is to the Chinese export machine, which churns out about a third of China's gross domestic product. Stanley Lau, deputy chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Industries, whose 3,000 members employ more than three million workers, said he had been advising factory owners to offer better salaries, to treat employees more humanely and to listen to their complaints.

"The young generation thinks differently than their parents, they have been well protected by their families, and they don't like to 'chi ku,' " Mr. Lau said.

The expression "chi ku," or eat bitterness, is a time-honored staple of Chinese culture. But for young workers in Zhongshan, it is not the badge of honor that an older generation wore with pride.

In an effort to avoid eating too much bitterness, Zhang Jinfang, a talkative 28-year-old, has cycled through a dozen factory jobs since arriving in Zhongshan after high school. "Sometimes I'll quit after a few weeks because the work is too hard or too boring," he said, eating dinner at an outdoor restaurant. "Money is important, but it's also important to have less pressure in your life."

Mr. Zhang saves almost nothing of the $260-a-month salary he earns assembling cardboard boxes, another notable shift from the previous generation, which saved voraciously. By Western standards, he works hard - six days a week, sometimes more when orders pile up - and he spends about a fifth of his pay on a rented apartment, having long since fled the bunk beds and curfews of the factory-owned dormitory. His dream: to one day run a factory of his own. "But for now, I'd love to work in an air-conditioned office," he said.

One factor in the expanding consciousness of migrant laborers is an astounding rise in education, with an additional three million students graduating high school between 2004 and 2008. The result is that a growing number young people are ambitious, optimistic and more aware of their rights, said Lin Yanling, a labor specialist at the China Institute of Industrial Relations. Then there is their fluency with technology - cellphones, e-mail and Internet chat - that connects them to peers in other factories. "When they bump against unfair treatment, they are less afraid to challenge authority," she said.

With her iridescent fuchsia toenails and caramel-tinted hair, Liang Yali does not exactly fit the stereotype of the "made in China" worker bee. Raised by rice-farming peasants on the island province of Hainan, Ms. Liang, 22, is happily employed at a lock factory, where she packs up the finished product into boxes.

She rents an apartment with two friends, eats out for most meals and spends Saturday night bar-hopping or singing at a local karaoke parlor. At night, before she goes to sleep, she sometimes plays a computer game in which participants steal vegetables from one another's virtual farm.

Unlike many workers in Zhongshan, Ms. Liang had heard about the strikes, perhaps because the front door to Guangdong Mingmen Lock Industry sits across a muddy canal from where employees of a Honda lock factory held a rare protest last month. She expressed measured sympathy for the strikers, but said she was not interested in following their lead. "My boss is nice and the work isn't strenuous, so I have no complaints," she said.

Her friend and co-worker Li Jingling, 27, nodded in agreement, adding that their company sponsored sports activities and allowed employees to dress in street clothes on Saturdays. When the topic turned to her parents, Ms. Li said she felt sorry for them. "They go out to the fields when the sun rises and return home when the sun goes down," she said. "No matter how difficult their marriage was, they would stick it out. For us, whether a bad marriage or a bad job, we'll leave it if it's lousy."

Back on recruiters' row, the afternoon sun had thinned the already sparse crowd of job-seekers, leaving a few roughneck kids so undisciplined that not even the sweltering pipe factory was interested in taking them on.

Xiang Qing, a 22-year-old recruiter for the Funilai undergarment factory, was looking wilted and abject under the shade of a plastic canopy. Her factory, which normally employs 2,700 people, was about 700 bodies short. She did her best to sound upbeat, but admitted that it was getting more difficult to find people who are willing to "love the factory and make it their home," as her brochure suggested.

Ms. Xiang complained that too many young people were unwilling to work hard. "They're all spoiled and coddled and have no patience," she said. Then, with the interview over, she returned to her reading material, a woman's magazine called Beauty.

Xiyun Yang contributed research.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 13, 2010

An earlier version of this article misstated the number and year of students who graduated high school


10) 82 Police Hurt in Northern Ireland Rioting
July 13, 2010

LONDON - Six months after the British government handed control of the police in Northern Ireland to local officials, the worst rioting in years has left 82 police officers injured in Belfast, the provincial capital, including a woman officer who was hospitalized in stable condition after a concrete slab was dropped on her head from an overpass.

The rioting reached a peak on Monday in the north Belfast district of Ardoyne, triggered by one of the most emotive occasions in the calendar, the annual July 12 marches by the Orange Order. The order, a Protestant fraternal organization, has been a bulwark of Protestant - and British - supremacy in the six northern counties of Ireland. It stages its marches on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, when the victory by the Protestant English king, William of Orange, secured British dominion in Ireland for more than 200 years.

Hundreds of rioters in Ardoyne battled police with petrol bombs, bricks, metal bars and planks on Monday after police in riot gear moved in to remove a group of about 100 protesters who had staged a sit-in to prevent the Orange Order marchers from making their return passage through a predominantly Roman Catholic neighborhood.

The confrontation was a throwback to the violence that erupted regularly during the Orange Day parades in the years before the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which set a blueprint for peaceful settlement of the enmities between the mainly Protestant unionists, who seek to keep the province a permanent part of Britain, and the mainly Catholic republicans, who want a united Ireland. It led eventually to the establishment of the power-sharing government that has ruled in Belfast since 2007.

But the parade issue lingered, and erupted anew last weekwhen the Orange Order rejected a new system for mediation of the routes and timing, raising fresh anger, particularly among republicans.

That was followed by the rioting over the past 48 hours in Belfast, and lesser disturbances during Orange marches in the cities of Londonderry and Lurgan, that police officials said was provoked by so-called "dissident" republicans opposed to power-sharing. Reporters at the scene confirmed having seen members of breakaway factions of the Irish Republican Army moving among the protesters, many of whom were youths from Catholic districts in Belfast that have crushing rates of unemployment.

A senior police officer, assistant chief constable Alistair Finlay, spoke out after the rioting against what he described as the failure of the unionists and republican leaders of the power-sharing government, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, to intervene to stop the Ardoyne confrontation, a failure he said had left the police to "form a human barrier attempting to keep the peace."


11) Both Frail and Feisty, Fidel Castro Goes on TV
"'One day the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away,' Mr. Bush once said."
[Does that mean that Mr. Bush thinks he's immune to the will of the good Lord? Good Lord!]
July 12, 2010

MEXICO CITY - In one of his first public appearances since falling ill four years ago, a frail-looking Fidel Castro went on Cuban television on Monday night and warned in a near whisper that the United States was increasing the chances of nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula and Iran.

Mr. Castro, who underwent emergency gastrointestinal surgery in July 2006, wore a flannel shirt and jogging suit and appeared at times to struggle to get his words out. But some of the feistiness he was known for in booming speeches that could stretch on for much of the day remained.

Reading from a sheaf of papers and gesturing in the air, Mr. Castro rattled off statistics, gave his view of history and appeared cogent as Randy Alonso, a government journalist who is close to Mr. Castro, lofted softball questions at him.

Since undergoing surgery and turning over the presidency to his brother, Raúl, Mr. Castro has slipped from the spotlight, but never completely disappeared. He has met frequently with foreign leaders, usually while wearing a jogging suit, and written regular commentaries for Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, on everything from the global financial crisis to the World Cup.

But his Monday night appearance on "Mesa Redonda," or "Round Table," a public affairs program broadcast on Cuban television, was the first time since fall 2007 that Cubans could actually see and hear their once-omnipresent leader again. His attention to detail, even when it leaves listeners scratching their heads, is one thing that had not changed.

The appearance came as Raúl Castro, who formally took over the presidency in 2008 after two years as the country's interim leader, prepared to release dozens of political prisoners whom Fidel Castro had jailed in a crackdown on dissent in 2003. The first prisoner was released on Monday and placed on an airliner bound for Madrid, Reuters reported, with as many as a half-dozen others expected to follow shortly.

The prisoners did not come up in the hourlong interview show on Monday, and it remains unclear if the Castro brothers agree on the release.

Analysts said that it had always been difficult to interpret Fidel Castro's motives, and that remains the case. Just why he would make such an appearance now was anybody's guess. It followed the release of photographs over the weekend showing Mr. Castro greeting Cubans at a government-run scientific institute.

"It's more evidence that he continues to play a significant role," said Brian Latell, a former C.I.A. analyst whose 2005 book, "After Fidel," examined the transition in Cuba's leadership. Mr. Latell, now at work on another book about the long, slow-motion transition in leadership, noted that Fidel Castro, although no longer president or commander in chief, remained first secretary of the Communist Party and thus continued to wield influence in the Cuban bureaucracy.

As for his health, the television appearance seemed to put to rest speculation that Mr. Castro, who turns 84 on Aug. 13, was incapacitated or even dead. Former President George W. Bush, a fierce Castro foe, had expressed frustration that the ailing Mr. Castro continued to hang on. "One day the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away," Mr. Bush once said.

President Obama's words have been more restrained, but Cuba and the United States have nonetheless found themselves at odds on a number of issues.


12) 400 Park Geese Die, for Human Fliers' Sake
July 12, 2010

They have been a familiar sight around the lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn: Canada geese, scores of them. To some residents, the birds and their fuzzy offspring are charming hints of wildlife amid the bricks of the city. Recently, when one was found with an arrow through its neck, park rangers tried to corral it to administer first aid.

But then, over the last few days, parkgoers noticed something strange.

The geese were gone. Nearly 400 of them.

On Monday, the answer emerged. Wildlife biologists and technicians had descended on the park Thursday morning and herded the birds into a fenced area. The biologists, working with the federal Agriculture Department, then packed the geese two or three to a crate and took them to a nearby building where they were gassed with lethal doses of carbon dioxide, Carol A. Bannerman, a spokeswoman, said.

Ms. Bannerman said the measure was necessary. "The thing to always remember in this New York situation is that we are talking about aviation and passenger and property safety," she said. "In New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold."

The authorities have been thinning the region's ranks of geese since some of them flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in January 2009, forcing it to ditch in the Hudson River. Last summer, 1,235 were rounded up at 17 sites around the city and later killed. But the Prospect Park culling appears to be among the biggest, and its scope mortified some residents.

"It's a horrible end," said Anne-Katrin Titze, who went to the park nearly every morning to feed the geese. "It's eerie to see a whole population gone. There's not one goose on this lake. It looks as though they've been Photoshopped out."

Ms. Titze and her partner, Ed Bahlman, noticed that the geese were missing on their regular trip to the park on Thursday. The couple found plastic zip-tie restraints in a pile near gosling feathers. They learned what had happened to the geese from news reports on Monday.

"The fact that this was done without letting the public know is the first concern," Mr. Bahlman said. "There were so many people in the park over the last four days who noticed the geese were gone."

In recent weeks, the Canada geese have begun their annual molting, meaning they could not fly. Their capture was timed to the molting.

Susan Elbin, conservation director at New York City Audubon, was cautiously supportive of the mass euthanizing. "There are ways to manage birds nonlethally," Ms. Elbin said. "But if you're trying to manage a population level, sometimes those hard decisions need to be made."

The goal is to eliminate most of the geese within seven miles of the major airports in the region. Prospect Park is 6.5 miles from both La Guardia Airport and Kennedy Airport.

Seth Kaplan, a teacher who lives two blocks from Prospect Park, said he was crushed when he heard what had happened. Mr. Kaplan, who spends nearly every day in the park, had recently circulated a video of the goslings.

"It's really important to remember that the Canada geese that collided with Flight 1549 were tested by researchers at the Smithsonian and they were not populations that lived in our area," Mr. Kaplan said. Most of the Prospect Park geese that were gassed were resident.

Gone in the roundup, apparently, was a goose known alternately as Sticky or Target, who was discovered with an arrow through his neck last month. Park rangers tried and failed to catch the bird in a bid to nurse him back to health.

A goose found last year with a damaged beak, which Brooklynites living near the park had tried to help, was also believed to have been killed.

City parks officials granted signed permission for the removal of the birds but said they had not been notified of the specifics. They declined to comment further, referring the matter to the Agriculture Department.

Over the weekend, four geese were spotted in the lake.

Most of the geese at the park were probably year-round residents, said Paul D. Curtis, an associate professor of wildlife sciences at Cornell University. Dr. Curtis said there were two types of Canada geese in the region: those that migrate north to nest during the summer and those that stay close to the city. Even to biologists, Dr. Curtis said, they are nearly indistinguishable.

In the early 1900s, Canada geese were nearly extinct. In an effort to rebuild the population, they were brought to New York from the Midwest. In the 1930s, geese were added to be hunted.

Agriculture Department specialists started removing geese this year in mid-June. They expect to complete their schedule of roundups by the end of the week, Ms. Bannerman said.

Elsewhere in the country, nuisance wildlife birds are usually chased away by border collies or firecrackers. But in New York, Ms. Bannerman said, there is no relocation program for the geese, and they must be euthanized. Another method for controlling the birds is coating their eggs with corn oil, to prevent them from hatching.

The carcasses of the Prospect Park geese will be double-bagged and dumped in a landfill. Other states use different methods, like turning the geese into food or animal feed. This year, the Agriculture Department donated 900 pounds of goose breast to food pantries in Pennsylvania.


13) U.S. Issues Revised Offshore Drilling Ban
"The revised moratorium would allow some drilling rigs to resume operating under certain conditions. To qualify, the rig's owners must prove that they have adequate plans in place to quickly shut down an out-of-control well, that the blowout preventers atop the wells it drills have passed rigorous new tests, and that sufficient cleanup resources are on hand in case of a spill. Industry officials said it would be difficult to meet those conditions quickly, which could threaten thousands of jobs."
July 12, 2010

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued revised rules on Monday for a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, replacing an earlier one that had been declared invalid by federal courts.

The revised moratorium would allow some drilling rigs to resume operating under certain conditions. To qualify, the rig's owners must prove that they have adequate plans in place to quickly shut down an out-of-control well, that the blowout preventers atop the wells it drills have passed rigorous new tests, and that sufficient cleanup resources are on hand in case of a spill. Industry officials said it would be difficult to meet those conditions quickly, which could threaten thousands of jobs.

The original moratorium, struck down late last month by a federal judge in New Orleans, halted work on 33 wells being drilled in water greater than 500 feet deep in the gulf. Other new regulations have slowed or stopped work on dozens of other wells in shallower water.

Mr. Salazar directed federal regulators to come up with interim rules by the end of August that would clarify the steps needed to resume operations. But he made clear that most rigs would remain barred from drilling in deep water through November.

His department characterized the moratorium issued on Monday as a refinement of the previous one that was rejected by the courts, not a retreat from it.

"Like the deepwater drilling moratorium lifted by the District Court on June 22, the deepwater drilling suspensions ordered today apply to most deepwater drilling activities and could last through Nov. 30," the Interior Department said in briefing materials on the new ban.

"The suspensions ordered today, however," the materials said, "are the product of a new decision by the secretary and new evidence regarding safety concerns, blowout containment shortcomings within the industry and spill response capabilities that are strained by the BP oil spill."

The main lobby for the oil industry, the American Petroleum Institute, criticized the new order, saying it would worsen the economic hardship already being felt across the Gulf Coast.

"It is unnecessary and shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation's energy lifeline while working to enhance offshore safety," Jack Gerard, the association's president, said in a statement. "It places the jobs of tens of thousands of workers in serious and immediate jeopardy and promises a substantial reduction in domestic energy production. No certain and expeditious path forward has been established for a resumption of drilling."

Mr. Salazar directed Michael R. Bromwich, head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - the former Minerals Management Service - to conduct public hearings and discussions with industry officials to make recommendations for ways to improve the safety of deepwater drilling.

"I remain open to modifying the new deepwater drilling suspensions based on new information," Mr. Salazar said, "but industry must raise the bar on its practices and answer fundamental questions about deepwater safety, blowout prevention and containment and oil spill response."

In New Orleans, Bob Graham, a co-chairman of the presidential panel investigating the April disaster on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which left a well gushing oil and gas a mile below the surface of the gulf, said on Monday that the group would try to determine whether BP was operating in a riskier way than the rest of the offshore industry.

"Was the Deepwater Horizon an outlier, an oil rig operating outside the normal standards of safety, or was it representative of other rigs?" asked Mr. Graham, a former senator and Florida governor, before the seven-member commission opened its first public hearings on the disaster.

The answer, he said, will help guide the panel's deliberations and color its ultimate report to President Obama. The group has been charged with finding the root cause of the blowout and with recommending how to resume deepwater oil and gas drilling more safely. It has six months to complete its work and has only begun hiring staff and moving into offices in Washington.

Mr. Graham and the panel's other co-chairman, William K. Reilly, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the commission would not weigh in on whether the deepwater drilling moratorium declared by the Interior Department should continue. But the commission spent two hours Monday afternoon talking with industry representatives about the conditions under which drilling might safely resume.


14) The Class War We Need
July 11, 2010

The rich are different from you and me. They know how to game the system.

That's one interpretation, at least, of last week's news that Americans with million-dollar mortgages are defaulting at almost twice the rate of the typical homeowner. It suggests an infuriating scenario in which the average American slaves away to keep Wells Fargo or Bank of America off his back, while fat cats and high fliers cut their losses and sail off to the next investment opportunity.

That isn't exactly what's happening, most likely. Just because you have a million-dollar mortgage doesn't make you a millionaire, and a lot of the fat-cat defaulters probably aren't that fat anymore. Chances are they're more like Teresa and Joe Giudice from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," tacky reality-TV climbers who recently filed for bankruptcy after their decadent lifestyle turned out to be a debt-enabled fantasy.

Still, watching the Giudices sashay through their onyx-encrusted mansion, and knowing that thousands of similarly profligate homeowners are simply walking away from their debts, it's easy to succumb to a little class-warrior fantasizing. (Pitchforks, tar, feathers ... that sort of thing.)

The trick is to channel those impulses in a constructive direction. The left-wing instinct, when faced with high-rolling irresponsibility, is usually to call for tax increases on the rich. But the problem, here and elsewhere, isn't exactly that we tax high rollers' incomes too lightly. It's that we subsidize their irresponsibility too heavily - underwriting their bad bets and bailing out their follies. The class warfare we need is a conservative class warfare, which would force the million-dollar defaulters to pay their own way from here on out.

Consider the spread that the Giudices currently occupy (pending potential foreclosure proceedings, of course). The first million of its reported $1.7 million price tag is presumably covered by the federal mortgage-interest tax deduction. Intended to boost middle-class homebuyers, this deduction has gradually turned into a huge tax break for the affluent, with most of the benefits flowing to homeowners with cash income over $100,000. In much of the country, it's a McMansion subsidy, whose costs to the federal Treasury are covered by the tax dollars of Americans who either rent or own more modest homes.

This policy is typical of the way the federal government does business. In case after case, Washington's web of subsidies and tax breaks effectively takes money from the middle class and hands it out to speculators and have-mores. We subsidize drug companies, oil companies, agribusinesses disguised as "family farms" and "clean energy" firms that aren't energy-efficient at all. We give tax breaks to immensely profitable corporations that don't need the money and boondoggles that wouldn't exist without government favoritism.

And we do more of it every day. Take Barack Obama's initiative to double U.S. exports in the next five years. As The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney points out, it involves the purest sort of corporate welfare: We're lending money to foreign governments or companies so that they'll buy from Boeing and Pfizer and Archer Daniels Midland. That's good news for those companies' stockholders and C.E.O.'s. But the money to pay for it ultimately comes out of middle-class pocketbooks.

This isn't just a corporate welfare problem. The same pattern is at work in our entitlement system, which is lurching toward bankruptcy in part because of how much Medicare and Social Security pay to seniors who could get along without assistance. Instead of a safety net that protects the elderly from poverty, we have a system in which the American taxpayer is effectively underwriting cruises and tee times.

All of this ought to be grist for a kind of "small-government egalitarianism," in the economist Edward Glaeser's useful phrase, that seeks to shrink government by attacking Washington's wasteful spending on the well-connected. And sometimes conservative politicians make moves in this direction. President George W. Bush's Tax Reform Commission proposed sharply reducing the mortgage-interest deduction. House Minority Leader John Boehner, to his great credit, recently floated the possibility of means-testing Social Security. Many Republican senators have been staunch critics of corporate welfare.

In the age of Barack Obama, many rank-and-file conservatives have been more upset about redistribution of a different sort - the kind that takes money from the prosperous and "spreads the wealth" (as Obama put it, in his famous confrontation with Joe the Plumber) down the income ladder.

This kind of spending can be problematic. But conservatives need to recognize that the most pernicious sort of redistribution isn't from the successful to the poor. It's from savers to speculators, from outsiders to insiders, and from the industrious middle class to the reckless, unproductive rich.


15) Throwing Mumia Under the Bus
The Politics of Death
By Dave Lindorff
June 30, 2010
The Secret Memo
By Elizabeth Zitrin, Death Penalty Focus (DPF); Renny Cushing and Kate Lowenstein, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR); Speedy Rice, National Association of Defense Lawyers (NACDL); Kristin Houle, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP); Juan Matos de Juan, Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA)
June 28, 2010

"I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong." -Frederick Douglass

On the evening of March 4, participants at the Fourth World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland had assembled from all over the globe for a dramatic Voices of Victims evening. It got more dramatic than they had anticipated though, when suddenly a cell phone rang and Robert R. Bryan, lead defense attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal, jumped up on the stage to announce that his client had called him from death row in Pennsylvania.

The audience sat in rapt silence as the emcee held the phone up to the microphone. Abu-Jamal, on death row for 28 years after a widely disputed conviction for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, greeted the delegates and then, as he has done on many occasions before, described to them the horrors of life in prison for the 20,000 people around the world who are awaiting execution.

A small group of American death penalty abolitionist leaders, led by Renny Cushing, executive director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, stalked out of the hall. Two members of MVFHR, however, remained in the hall: Bill Babbitt, whose brother Manny, a Vietnam vet suffering acute post-traumatic stress disorder, was executed in California; and Bill Pelke, whose grandmother was murdered by a girl whom he later befriended and helped to spare from execution. Babbitt even joined Bryan onstage during Abu-Jamal's brief address.

What neither Babbitt nor Pelke, nor Abu-Jamal and his attorney, Bryan, knew at the time was that way back in December, leaders and individual board members of several of the organizations in the U.S. abolitionist movement had signed-without their full boards' or their own memberships' knowledge-a "confidential" memorandum, which they then sent to the French organizers of the World Congress, stating bluntly that, "As international representatives of the U.S. abolition movement, we cannot agree to the involvement of Abu-Jamal or his lawyers in the World Congress beyond attendance."1

Purporting to be from "the U.S. members of the Steering Committee" of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (though hardly an inclusive list of that committee's membership) and titled, "Involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the U.S. coalition for abolition of the death penalty," the memo claimed that the French organizers of the World Congress, Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), had arranged to have Abu-Jamal speak "over objection." The memo further asserted that the abolitionist movement in the U.S. is trying to "cultivate" the support of the ultra-conservative and staunchly pro-death penalty Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), an organization representing some 35,000 police officers in the U.S., that advocates the execution of Abu-Jamal and all other prisoners convicted of killing of police officers. The FOP, said the memo, has "announced a boycott of organizations and individuals who support Abu-Jamal," and therefore anything done by the Congress to aid his cause would be "dangerously counter-productive to the abolition movement in the U.S."

This past week we obtained a copy of that secret memorandum.

When we showed it to some other members of the boards of the organizations whose officers or individual board members had signed their names to it, responses ranged from consternation to outrage. Babbitt's brother Manny was killed as a direct result of a corrupt law enforcement system in California that for political points pressed for execution, even though it was clear from medical testimony that the elderly grandmother he allegedly killed actually died of shock when she discovered him breaking and entering her apartment. Left in the dark about the memo despite his being on the MVFHR board, Babbitt said, "My brother Manny's last words to me were to always take the high road, and to me that means telling the truth and being open and transparent." He added, regarding the content of the memo, "I think throwing Mumia under the bus is not the way to go in the abolitionist movement. You don't make bargains with a wolf whose motive is to devour."

Robert Meeropol, a son of Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg, who were executed as spies in 1953, is also a member of the MVFHR board. Currently traveling on behalf of the organization in Asia, he said through a staffer in the U.S. that he did not know about the memo, and added that he still stands "fully in support of a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal."

Several calls seeking a comment from Cushing or Lowenstein remain unanswered, though a staffer at the MVFHR Boston office, Susanna Sheffer, said, "This is a complicated thing. You need to understand the depth and texture of this."

Also surprised at the memo was actor Michael Farrell, president of the California abolitionist group Death Penalty Focus. Farrell, a long-time supporter of the call for a new trial for Abu-Jamal, said he had never seen the memo, though it was signed by a member of the DPF board, attorney Elizabeth Zitrin.

Other signers of the memo were Thomas H. "Speedy" Rice of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Kritsin Houlé of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Juan Matos de Juan of the Puerto Rican Bar Assn.

Bryan, a veteran death penalty defense lawyer who served ten years on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty-three of them as the organization's chair-says, "In all my years as an activist opposing the death penalty, I have never heard of any individual or group in that fight singling out anyone as an exception to our campaign to abolish capital punishment. Everyone is treated equally. To single someone out and say they don't count is chilling. Where do you draw the line? At people accused of killing cops? At people accused of killing old ladies? People accused of killing children? Where does it stop? It's appalling!"

Heidi Beghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, an organization that has long been in the forefront of the campaign to end the death penalty in the U.S., and which was not advised of the plan to circulate the memo on behalf of the U.S. Steering Committee to the World Coalition, despite the NLG'S being a member of the WCADP, roundly condemned the secret effort to silence Abu-Jamal at the March event.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal's case is emblematic of the inherent flaws in the capital punishment system," she said. "That he is castigated by leaders in the abolitionist movement shows precisely what is wrong with the system-it is a system enslaved to the whims and personal biases of police, prosecutor, judge, and jury. While cultivating certain voices of law enforcement may assist in efforts to achieve abolition, it should not be at the expense of exposing a case that embodies some of the most reprehensible actions on the part of the police, the district attorney and the judiciary. The powerful FOP, and their heavy-handed efforts to vilify Abu-Jamal and his supporters, should not be the barometer by which abolitionist leaders gauge their strategic priorities. Members of the abolitionist movement should be working together and not further censoring and ostracizing a death row inmate."

What makes the American abolitionists' petulant and manipulative behavior as expressed in the secret memo and their cynical threat to withdraw from the Congress particularly outrageous is that Abu-Jamal's arrest, trial and appeals process has been, as Beghosian notes, a textbook case of police and prosecutor corruption, malfeasance and abuse. From the beginning, even before his arrest, Abu-Jamal's case was poisoned by a police lust for vengeance. Although he had been shot through the lung and liver by a bullet fired from Officer Faulkner's service revolver, and was in danger of dying of internal bleeding that was filling his lungs with blood, Abu-Jamal was left lying in a police wagon for almost half an hour before he was finally delivered to a hospital emergency room, where hospital staff and at least one police officer on the scene observed him being kicked and punched by the officers delivering him.

During the jury selection process at the beginning of his trial, the presiding judge, Albert Sabo, who as a county sheriff's deputy was an FOP member before he was made a judge, was overheard by a second judge and his court stenographer saying to his own court clerk, as he exited the courtroom through the judge's robing room, "Yeah and I'm gonna help them fry that nigger!"

During the tortuous appeals process, both the state and federal courts have shamelessly bent their rules and violated precedents to deny Abu-Jamal the benefits of precedents that have been routinely accorded other appellants. Third Circuit Appeals Court Judge Thomas Ambro filed a stinging dissent to a decision by his two colleagues, who effectively created new law from the bench in rejecting Abu-Jamal's well-founded Batson claim of racial bias by the prosecution during jury selection at his trail. Scarcely concealing his outrage, Judge Ambro wrote: "Our Court has previously reached the merits of Batson claims on habeas review in cases where the petitioner did not make a timely objection during jury selection-signaling that our Circuit does not have a federal contemporaneous objection rule-and I see no reason why we should not afford Abu-Jamal the courtesy of our precedents." He added, "Why we pick this case to depart from that reasoning I do not know."

Abu-Jamal himself, interviewed by phone last Friday from his cell at the super-max death row facility SCI-Greene in western Pennsylvania, blasted the attempt to silence him at the Congress, and to ostracize him from the American abolitionist movement. "They are really making deals with the devil," he said, of claims that the U.S. abolitionist movement was trying to gain the support of the FOP. "My instinct, being from Philadelphia, is that money was passed, though I have no evidence to prove it." He added, "This secret action is a threat to the entire abolitionist movement. They are saying that because the opposition (to abolition) is so strong, we should not fight. If you have that attitude, why have an abolitionist movement at all?"

Abu-Jamal, whose death penalty was lifted by a federal judge in 2001, only to have the U.S. Supreme Court remand that decision back to the Third Circuit, where it could be reimposed, and who continues, in no small part thanks to pressure from the Pennsylvania FOP, to be held in solitary confinement on death row, where he maintains his innocence, calls the signers of the memo "co-conspirators," and says they are "naive" to believe they can win over the FOP by abandoning him to his fate.

"If the slavery abolitionists had taken this approach back in 1860," he says, "and said okay let's free the slaves, except those uppity ones with prices on their heads like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, we'd still have slavery today." Abu-Jamal said it appeared that the abolitionist movement appeared to have lost its way, and said that it needed to be broadened to more closely reflect the population of the nation's death rows. where nearly everyone is poor, and where 53 percent of the doomed inmates are non-white.


The Secret Memo
By Elizabeth Zitrin, Death Penalty Focus (DPF); Renny Cushing and Kate Lowenstein, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR); Speedy Rice, National Association of Defense Lawyers (NACDL); Kristin Houle, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP); Juan Matos de Juan, Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA)
June 28, 2010

CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM to ECPM [French organizers of the World Congress, Together Against the Death Penalty] from the U.S. members of the Steering Committee of the WCADP [World Coalition Against the Death Penalty] Involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the U.S. coalition for abolition of the death penalty ECPM has unilaterally, and over objection, determined to give the Mumia Abu-Jamal case a prominent role in the upcoming 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, including the participation of Mr. Abu-Jamal's lawyers and his direct participation by telephone. The U.S. members of the Steering Committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty do not agree to this, because it will be counter-productive to our effort to achieve abolition in our country.

The Abu-Jamal case, regardless of its merits, acts as a lightning rod that galvanizes opponents of abolition and neutralizes key constituencies in the cause of abolition. Continuing to give Abu-Jamal focused attention unnecessarily attracts our strongest opponents and alienates coalition partners at a time when we need to build alliances, not foster hatred and enmity.

While Abu-Jamal still attracts some positive attention outside of the United States, it is at a real cost to the U.S. abolition effort. In 1999, the world's largest association of professional law enforcement officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, announced a boycott of organizations and individuals who support Abu-Jamal. Bills have been introduced in both houses of the U.S. federal legislature condemning the naming of streets for Abu-Jamal. The result is that Abu-Jamal, rather than abolition of the death penalty, becomes the issue and the focus of attention. That is dangerously counter-productive to the abolition movement in the U.S. The voices of the Innocent, the voices of Victims and the voices of Law Enforcement are the most persuasive factors in changing public opinion and the views of decision-makers (politicians) and opinion leaders (media). Continuing to shine a spotlight on Abu-Jamal, who has had so much public exposure for so many years, threatens to alienate these three most important partnership groups.

The support of law enforcement officials is essential to achieving abolition in the United States. It is essential to the national abolition strategy of U.S. abolition activists and attorneys, that we cultivate the voices of police, prosecutors and law enforcement experts, to support our call for an end to the death penalty. It was key in New Jersey and in New Mexico, it is fundamental to abolition throughout the U.S., and it will be a primary focus for 2010 and beyond. We have begun to make real progress with police officers and prosecutors speaking out against the death penalty as a failed policy.

"In a national poll released in 2009, the nation's police chiefs ranked the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction. The officers did not believe the death penalty acted as a deterrent to murder, and they rated it as one of most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime.... "

Death Penalty Information Center, The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report, December 18, 2009. If the 4th World Congress gives Abu-Jamal and his lawyers the focus and attention proposed by ECPM, the U.S. movement for abolition will be exposed to a serious backlash that will directly damage the delicate alliances we are building with essential groups. As international representatives of the U.S. abolition movement, we cannot agree to the involvement of Abu-Jamal or his lawyers in the World Congress beyond attendance.

For these reasons, providing Abu-Jamal the World Congress stage will require us to consider how to distance our programs in order to protect our vital alliances with our key partners and constituencies. To be effective advocates within the U.S. we must and will continue our strategic approach to abolition with our core allies and our evolving partners. Featuring Mr. Abu-Jamal's case as ECPM has proposed presents an unacceptably high risk of fracturing a developing but still fragile alliance with vitally important constituencies-constituencies that can either help our movement reach the goal of abolition or severely hinder our progress.



The Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) is appalled by the news that several individuals of leading anti-death penalty organizations have signed a confidential memorandum stating that the "involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the U.S. coalition for abolition of the death penalty." The memo further argues that the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty should not highlight Mumia's case because doing so
"unnecessarily attracts our strongest opponents and alienates coalition
partners at a time when we need to build alliances, not foster hatred and
enmity." (

This memo was drafted on December 21, 2009, yet it only recently came to light following the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, held on March 4 in Geneva, Switzerland. At this meeting, a telephone call came in from Mumia Abu-Jamal, and he addressed the audience. At this point, several members of U.S. abolitionist groups got up and walked out in protest.

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty strongly condemns this action and completely disagrees with the approach to the anti-death penalty struggle that this memo puts forth.

First of all, we unequivocally support and endorse Mumia Abu-Jamal in his struggle for
justice. We believe in his innocence and see Mumia's case as fraught with many
of the same injustices as other death penalty cases--racial bias, police
misconduct and brutality, and prosecutorial and judicial prejudice.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on Pennsylvania's death row for the past 28 years and remains there because the courts, under pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police, have thwarted his efforts to win his freedom. From his prison cell, Mumia has galvanized an international movement of support towards his efforts to win justice. He has written numerous books and articles shedding light on our prison-industrial complex as well as other historical and current political issues. He is widely read, known and
respected. His commentaries on prison radio are nothing short of brilliant. He
has helped to educate millions of people about the true workings of the
criminal justice system. But most importantly, he has been an inspiration to
all those fighting to win abolition, lending his voice of hope, his
encouragement and his unfaltering determination to our movement.

So why would a delegation of U.S. abolitionists would get up and walk out of a meeting when Mumia addresses the audience? Shouldn't they have stood and applauded?

The explanation for this reprehensible action is explained in the secret memo,
which basically puts forth the argument that to have anything to do with
Mumia's case ruins the chances of winning abolition of the death penalty.

Why? Here is what the memo states, in part: "The support of law enforcement officials is essential to achieving abolition in the United States. It is essential to the
national abolition strategy of U.S. abolition activists and attorneys that we
cultivate the voices of police, prosecutors and law enforcement experts to
support our call for an end to the death penalty."

This statement points to a very disturbing direction that we have observed in
recent years among some organizations in the abolition movement--of
compromising our message in order to win the support of conservatives. This
has lead leading death penalty organizations to downplay the impact of race in
the criminal justice system and to advocate reaching out to law enforcement as
a means of winning abolition of the death penalty.

Those who espouse this strategy ignore or downplay the role that police play in
railroading many poor people and African Americans onto death row. They ignore
the role that police, prosecutors and judges play as guardians of an unjust
legal system that disproportionately targets the poor and people of color. The
outcome of this strategy has led to the marginalization of prisoners like
Mumia, whose voices from behind prison walls are so important in this

The individuals who drafted the memo go on to identify the voices that they seek to include: "The voices of the Innocent, the voices of Victims and the voices of Law Enforcement are the most persuasive factors in changing public opinion and the views of decision-makers (politicians) and opinion leaders (the media). Continuing to shine a spotlight on Abu-Jamal, who has had so much public exposure for so many years, threatens to alienate these three most important partnership groups."

We in the CEDP couldn't disagree more with this strategy. We believe the most
"persuasive factor" in changing public opinion is to build a vocal, visible
movement that forthrightly puts forward its demands-- instead of working to
make our message palatable to the opposition.

Consider the analogies to past struggles. What if Martin Luther King compromised the goals of integration in order to reach out and try to win over segregationists? No,
he reached out to organize and uplift progressive forces into fighting for
change. That is the kind of strategy we need.

The men and women on death row across the country--including the guilty--are not our
enemy. The enemy is the system of punitive thought that portrays them as
monsters so that the public can feel okay about killing them. It is part of
the punitive philosophy upon which the legal system is based--the same system
that breeds crime in the first place, that gives so little support to victims
of abuse, that says it believes in rehabilitation but then won't fund it, that
says it believes in education but then takes money away to build prisons

We reject the logic of having the Fraternal Order of Police as a partner or ally. The FOP has organized against our efforts to win justice for Mumia, for Troy Davis, for the Burge Torture victims in Chicago and countless others.

Our approach is based on an anti-racist perspective. We know that the history of aggressive policing, sentencing and the death penalty has its roots in slavery--that the tough on crime rhetoric of lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key is racially coded language.

The Campaign stands completely and unequivocally with Mumia Abu-Jamal. We also stand by a different strategy to win abolition.

Instead of marginalizing voices like Mumia, we should be developing more innovative and creative ways to put them forward--and not just Mumia's, but others, including Troy Davis, Rodney Reed and Kevin Cooper, to name a few. We need to put the human face on this issue. We need to build a movement that challenges the racism and class bias nature of the death penalty--and to point out that these injustices exist in the
broader criminal justice system as well.

In order to build a fight that can win real justice, we cannot marginalize "divisive"
issues like racism. Instead, we have to take them on frontally. And instead of
reaching out to the conservative elements in society, we should be reaching
out to progressive elements and building bridges there. Let's not forget that
the lowest level of support for the death penalty (42 percent) was in 1966, at
the height of the civil rights movement. Let's work to place the fight for
abolition squarely in the progressive camp, where it most surely belongs.



16) U.S. Delays Test of Device That Could Seal Gulf Well
"A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well."
July 14, 2010

ABOARD THE RESOLUTE, 40 miles off Louisiana - Workers on surface ships continued to flare gas and oil on Wednesday at the site of BP's runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico after officials announced that a critical pressure test on the well would be postponed.

Kent Wells, a senior BP vice president, said scientists from the industry and government were reviewing the test procedures. "This test is so important that a decision was made to give them another 24 hours," he said at a Wednesday morning briefing in Houston. "We don't want to end up with a test with inconclusive results."

He said that drilling of a relief well that is considered the ultimate solution to stopping the gusher would be halted during the test as a precaution.

Mr. Wells said that a decision about the test would be made at midday and that it would probably begin Thursday. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has been involved, he said. The decision to delay the test was made Tuesday afternoon by Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is the federal commander of the spill response.

The test would shut the well by closing off valves on a tight-sealing cap that was installed at the wellhead, 5,000 feet down and a few miles from this Coast Guard cutter.

BP officials have said that if the test shows that the well can hold pressure, the valves may remain closed. That would end the gusher that began shortly after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. It would not end the cleanup, however. That could go on for years.

If the test shows the well is damaged, the flow of oil into the sea could still be stopped by increased collection of oil and flaring, a process that could continue for weeks, awaiting completion of the relief well.

"It's very clear," Mr. Wells said earlier in describing the pressure test. "What we're looking for is for pressure to build up. The higher the better."

A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well.

"Some of this has been a topic of discussion for a long time," said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

BP has said that the test will provide data to help in planning the relief well operation. But the technician said many relief wells had been successful without such information. "In my opinion, it's not worth acquiring that data," he said.

For the test, engineers would also shut down the two collection systems, and the flaring would end, at least temporarily. Drilling of the first relief well, which is nearing completion, would be stopped during the test in case the pressure increase caused problems deep in the runaway well, which extends 13,000 feet below the seabed.

"It's a good precaution for us to take at this time," Mr. Wells said, but added, "It will set us back a couple days."

The test is expected to take as little as 6 hours to 48 hours or more. A short test would mean bad news: the well could not hold pressure, like a leaky soda bottle.

Mr. Wells said scientists would be analyzing the pressure readings throughout the test. "When the data says we need to open up the well, we'll do that," he said. "When the data says we can shut it in, we'll shut it in. We'll just have to see what the test tells us."

If containment was still necessary, it would continue until the company could complete the relief well work - by the end of July or August at the earliest.

He said that a seismic survey, taken Tuesday, had no bearing on the decision to postpone the test. That survey showed the condition of the seafloor, to a relatively shallow depth.

Mr. Wells said in reviewing the test procedure, the scientific team was trying to make sure that the results could be properly interpreted - if pressure decreases over time, for instance, what that might mean about damage to the well, either near the seabed or far down in the well.

"What we want to avoid is oil being put out in a shallow environment," he said, because if the oil seeps from the seabed it would add to the pollution.

At sunrise, bright tongues of flame could be seen coming from booms on two vessels: the Helix Producer, which began operating on Monday and is collecting oil and flaring gas; and the Q4000, which is burning both oil and gas, producing a sootier flame.

The Helix Producer should be able to collect up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day when it reaches full capacity. It collected 9,200 barrels Tuesday, Mr. Wells said. The Q4000 collected 7,900, its usual amount.

The test will suspend those operations and also end a period when more oil had been spewing from the well after a loose-fitting cap was removed to begin work on the new one. The old cap was diverting about 15,000 barrels of oil a day.

If the pressure test shows that the well is damaged and the valves have to be reopened, full containment of the oil would probably not occur for several weeks, until one or two more ships could be brought in to handle more of the flow. That would raise total collection capacity to more than 60,000 barrels a day, the current high-end estimate of the well's flow rate. Halting the gusher would then await the completion of the first relief well.

The relief well will proceed even if the well is able to remain shut in. When the relief well intercepts the runaway well, in the next few weeks, heavy mud, followed by cement, will be pumped in to seal it permanently.

The well site was a floating city on Wednesday morning, with scores of vessels scattered across the calm area. The activity was centered on the spot where the Deepwater Horizon burned and sank two days later. The cutter, which is on scene to provide emergency services and would be the last ship to leave in the event of a hurricane, was surrounded by a thin sheen of oil, diffracting into a rainbow of colors in the gulf sunshine.

A huge drill rig, the Development Driller III, was about a mile away, working on the first relief well. A nearly identical rig, the Development Driller II, was drilling a backup that is not as far along. Supply boats attended both rigs, long sections of casing pipe on their decks.

Ships attended the Helix Producer and the Q4000 as well, spraying seawater to keep the flaring booms as cool as possible.

Ships that service and control the submersibles dotted the area - at last count there were 14 underwater robots at work - and two more drilling ships waited nearby.


17) Animal Autopsies in Gulf Reveal Only a Mystery
July 14, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Kemp's ridley sea turtle lay belly-up on the metal autopsy table, as pallid as split-pea soup but for the bright orange X spray-painted on its shell, proof that it had been counted as part of the Gulf of Mexico's ongoing "unusual mortality event."

Under the practiced knife of Dr. Brian Stacy, a veterinary pathologist who estimates that he has dissected close to 1,000 turtles over the course of his career, the specimen began to reveal its secrets: First, as the breastplate was lifted away, a mass of shriveled organs in the puddle of stinky red liquid that is produced as decomposition advances. Next, the fat reserves indicating good health. Then, as Dr. Stacy sliced open the esophagus, the most revealing clue: a morsel of shrimp, the last thing the turtle ate.

"You don't see shrimp consumed as part of the normal diet" of Kemp's ridleys, Dr. Stacy said.

This turtle, found floating in the Mississippi Sound on June 18, is one of hundreds of dead creatures collected along the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Swabbed for oil, tagged and wrapped in plastic "body bags" sealed with evidence tape, the carcasses - many times the number normally found at this time of year - are piling up in freezer trucks stationed along the coast, waiting for scientists like Dr. Stacy, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to begin the process of determining what killed them.

Despite an obvious suspect, oil, the answer is far from clear. The vast majority of the dead animals that have been found - 1,866 birds, 463 turtles, 59 dolphins and one sperm whale - show no visible signs of oil contamination. Much of the evidence in the turtle cases points, in fact, to shrimping or other commercial fishing, but other suspects include oil fumes, oiled food, the dispersants used to break up the oil or even disease.

The efforts to finger a culprit - or culprits - amount to a vast investigation the likes of which "CSI" has never seen. The trail of evidence leads from marine patrols in Mississippi, where more than half the dead turtles have been found, to a toxicology lab in Lubbock, Tex., to this animal autopsy room at the University of Florida in Gainesville. And instead of the fingerprint analysis and security camera footage used in human homicides, the veterinary detectives are relying on shrimp boat data recorders and chromatographic spectrum analysis that can tell if the oil residue found in an animal has the same "chemical signature" as BP crude.

The outcome will help determine how many millions BP will pay in civil and criminal penalties - which are far higher for endangered animals like sea turtles - and provide a wealth of information about the little-known effects of oil on protected species in the Gulf.

"It is terribly important to know, in the big scheme of things, why something died," said Moby Solangi, the director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., where the initial turtle necropsies and some dolphin necropsies were performed.

"We might be doing what we can to address the issues of today and manage the risk," he said. "But for tomorrow, we need to know what actually happened."

Searching for a Smoking Gun

In a laboratory at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jennifer Cole, a graduate student, was slicing a precious chunk of living dolphin tissue into 0.3-millimeter sections.

Supervised by Céline Godard-Codding, an endangered species toxicologist, Ms. Cole was studying cytochrome P450 1A1, an enzyme that breaks down hydrocarbons.

Tissue samples are one of the only ways to learn more about toxins in marine mammals and sea turtles, whose protected status limits the type of studies that can be done - researchers cannot do experiments to determine how much oil exposure the animals can withstand.

Oil - inhaled or ingested - can cause brain lesions, pneumonia, kidney damage, stress and death. Scientists working on the BP spill have seen oil-mired animals that are suffering from extreme exhaustion and hyperthermia, with the floating crude reaching temperatures above 130 degrees, Dr. Stacy said.

Far less is known about the effects of dispersants, either by themselves or mixed with oil, though almost 2 million gallons of the chemicals have been used in the BP spill.

Studies show that dispersants, which break down oil into tiny droplets and can also break down cell membranes, make oil more toxic for some animals, like baby birds. And the solvents they contain can break down red blood cells, causing hemorrhaging. At least one fresh dolphin carcass found in the Gulf was bleeding from the mouth and blowhole, according to Lori Deangelis, a dolphin tour operator in Perdido Bay.

Investigators plan to take skin and mouth swabs, stomach contents, slices of organ tissue and vials of bile from animals that have died and test them for disease and hydrocarbons, as well as for dispersants, before a final report on the cause of death is written. But no samples have yet been sent to labs, because scientists are still evaluating what type of tests will prove most useful.

Jacqueline Savitz, a marine biologist with Oceana, an ocean conservation group, said there was no excuse for any delay in testing.

"It's absolutely urgent that it should be done immediately," she said, because the findings could influence response measures like BP's experimental use of dispersants underwater.

In the meantime, at places like the Texas Tech institute, the oil spill has set off a mad scramble to fill in the gaps in knowledge. In one laboratory, jars of BP crude in various stages of weathering await analysis to determine their relative toxicity. In another lab, graduate students paint precise amounts of oil on incubating duck eggs. Tanks of fiddler crabs awaited a shipment of Corexit 9500, the dispersant being used by BP in the Gulf.

In the end, Dr. Godard-Codding said, scientists will not find a single smoking gun. The evidence - results of laboratory tests, population counts, assessments of how well oil-drenched animals survive after rehabilitation - will all be circumstantial.

Suspicions Fall on Shrimpers

When Lt. Donald Armes of the Mississippi Marine Patrol heard about the rash of dead sea turtles littering the state's shores, his first thought was not of oil but of shrimp boats.

"Right off the bat, you figure somebody's gear was wrong," he said recently, after patrolling for shrimpers in the Mississippi Sound, a few days before floating islands of oil forced officials to close it. By gear, Lieutenant Armes meant turtles excluder devices, which shrimp trawlers are supposed to have. Without them, trawls can be one of the biggest dangers for turtles, which can get trapped in the nets and drown. The devices provide an escape hatch. Another kind of shrimp net, called a skimmer, is not required to have an excluder device - instead, the length of time the skimmers can be dragged is limited by law to give trapped turtles a chance to come up for air.

When shrimp season began in Mississippi on June 3, the marine patrol inspected all the boats and found no violations involving the excluders, Lieutenant Armes said. But on June 6, 12 dead turtles were found in Mississippi in a single day. Similar spikes have occurred when parts of Louisiana waters were opened to shrimpers, and since most of the waters in the spill area have closed, the turtle deaths have subsided.

Shrimpers emerged as a prime suspect in the NOAA investigation when, after a round of turtle necropsies in early May, Dr. Stacy announced that more than half the carcasses had sediment in the airways or lungs - evidence of drowning. The only plausible explanation for such a high number of drowning deaths, he said, was, as he put it, "fisheries interaction."

Environmentalists saw the findings as confirmation of their suspicions that shrimpers, taking advantage of the fact that the Coast Guard and other inspectors were busy with the oil spill, had disabled their turtle excluder devices.

The devices are so contentious that Louisiana law has long forbidden its wildlife and fisheries agents to enforce federal regulations on the devices. Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation that would have finally lifted the ban, citing the "challenges and issues currently facing our fishermen." By contrast, Mississippi officials strengthened turtle protections by decreasing the allowable tow time for skimmers, posting observers on boats, and sending out pamphlets on turtle resuscitation.

Officials in both states say that turtles die in shrimp season even when shrimpers follow the law, from boat strikes and other accidents. They also say there have been far fewer shrimpers working since the spill, in part because many have hired out their boats to BP. That should mean fewer, not more, turtle deaths.

But there has also been illegal activity. In Louisiana, agents have seized more than 20,000 pounds of shrimp and issued more than 350 citations to commercial fishermen working in waters closed because of the oil spill. In Mississippi in June, three skimmer boats were caught exceeding legal tow times - one just hours after the shrimper had been given a handout explaining that the maximum time had been reduced, Lieutenant Armes said.

As for the piece of shrimp that Dr. Stacy found lodged in the turtle's throat during the necropsy, it, too, pointed to shrimpers. A turtle is normally not quick enough to catch shrimp, Dr. Stacy said. Unless, of course, it is caught in a net with them.

Diagnosing Difficulties

In the necropsy lab in Gainesville, Dr. Stacy was slitting open the turtle's delicate windpipe, looking for traces of sediment, a tell-tale sign of drowning. He finds none there, so he examines a crinkled papery membrane barely recognizable as lungs. Nothing.

"Drowning can be a difficult diagnosis," he said. He has requested data that will show the level of commercial fishing in the area. But, he cautioned, "A lot of times our evidence is fairly indirect."

In a sense, the necropsies so far have posed more questions than answers, demonstrating how oil has become just another variable in an already complex ecosystem. Late in June, a dolphin examined at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss. showed signs of emaciation, but its belly was full of fish, suggesting that it may have gorged itself after a period of difficulty finding food.

Another dolphin, its ribs broken, was hit by a boat, a catastrophe that dolphins are normally nimble enough to avoid. The veterinarian, Dr. Connie Chevis, found a tar-like substance in the dolphin's throat. The substance will be analyzed to see if it is oil, but one theory is that the animal could have been disoriented by oil exposure, which can have a narcotic effect, rendering it incapable of avoiding a boat strike. Ms. Deangelis said the dolphins on her recent tours have been "acting like they've had three martinis."

The results raise questions about oil's indirect effects. Is crude, for example, responsible for what anecdotal reports say is a steep increase in turtles in Mississippi and Louisiana waters? The population of Kemp's ridleys has been rebounding thanks to years of protective measures. But some scientists have speculated that the spill is driving wildlife toward the coast, crowding areas where there is more boat traffic and setting the stage for fatal accidents.

In a normal year, one or two turtles might get snagged on the hooks of recreational fishermen at the piers. Now, the marine mammal institute in Gulfport is caring for 30 such turtles, a possible indication that they are desperate for food. In recent weeks, Dr. Chevis said, she has begun to see elevated white blood cell counts and signs of pneumonia in rescued turtles, both of which are symptoms of oil exposure, but could easily have other explanations.

In Gainesville, Dr. Stacy returned the jumbled remains of the turtle that ate the shrimp to its plastic wrapper and sent it back to the freezer. There, it will be stored indefinitely, just one piece of evidence among thousands.


18) Trapped by Gaza Blockade, Locked in Despair
July 13, 2010

GAZA CITY - The women were bleary-eyed, their voices weak, their hands red and calloused. How could they be expected to cook and clean without water or electricity? What could they do in homes that were dark and hot all day? How could they cope with husbands who had not worked for years and children who were angry and aimless?

Sitting with eight other women at a stress clinic, Jamalat Wadi, 28, tried to listen to the mental health worker. But she could not contain herself. She has eight children, and her unemployed husband spends his days on sedatives.

"Our husbands don't work, my kids are not in school, I get nervous, I yell at them, I cry, I fight with my husband," she blurted. "My husband starts fighting with us and then he cries: 'What am I going to do? What can I do?' "

The others knew exactly what she meant.

The Palestinians of Gaza, most of them descended from refugees of the 1948 war that created Israel, have lived through decades of conflict and confrontation. Their scars have accumulated like layers of sedimentary rock, each marking a different crisis - homelessness, occupation, war, dependency.

Today, however, two developments have conspired to turn a difficult life into a new torment: a three-year blockade by Israel and Egypt that has locked them in the small enclave and crushed what there was of a formal local economy; and the bitter rivalry between Palestinian factions, which has undermined identity and purpose, divided families and caused a severe shortage of electricity in the middle of summer.

There are plenty of things to buy in Gaza; goods are brought over the border or smuggled through the tunnels with Egypt. That is not the problem.

In fact, talk about food and people here get angry because it implies that their struggle is over subsistence rather than quality of life. The issue is not hunger. It is idleness, uncertainty and despair.

Any discussion of Gaza's travails is part of a charged political debate. No humanitarian crisis? That is an Israeli talking point, people here will say, aimed at making the world forget Israel's misdeeds. Palestinians trapped with no future? They are worse off in Lebanon, others respond, where their "Arab brothers" bar them from buying property and working in most professions.

But the situation is certainly dire. Scores of interviews and hours spent in people's homes over a dozen consecutive days here produced a portrait of a fractured and despondent society unable to imagine a decent future for itself as it plunges into listless desperation and radicalization.

It seems most unlikely that either a Palestinian state or any kind of Middle East peace can emerge without substantial change here. Gaza, on almost every level, is stuck.


A main road was blocked off and a stage set up for a rally protesting the electricity shortage. Speakers shook nearby windows with the anthems of Hamas, the Islamist party that has held power here for the past three years. Boys in military camouflage goose-stepped. Young men carried posters of a man with vampire teeth biting into a bloodied baby.

The vampire was not Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. It was Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

"We stand today in this furious night to express our intense anger toward this damned policy by the illegitimate so-called Fayyad government," Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, shouted.

As if the Palestinian people did not have enough trouble, they have not one government but two, the Fatah-dominated one in the West Bank city of Ramallah and the Hamas one here. The antagonism between them offers a depth of rivalry and rage that shows no sign of abating.

Its latest victim is electricity for Gaza, part of which is supplied by Israel and paid for by the West Bank government, which is partly reimbursed by Hamas. But the West Bank says that Hamas is not paying enough so it has held off paying Israel, which has halted delivery.

"They are lining their pockets and they are part of the siege," asserted Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader and a surgeon, speaking of the West Bank government. "There will be no reconciliation."

John Ging, who heads the Gaza office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as U.N.R.W.A., says the latest electricity problem "is a sad reflection of the divide on the Palestinian side."

He added, "They have no credibility in demanding anything from anybody if they show such disregard for the plight of their own people."

Today Hamas has no rival here. It runs the schools, hospitals, courts, security services and - through smuggler tunnels from Egypt - the economy.

"We solved a lot of problems with the tunnels," Dr. Zahar said with a satisfied smile.

Along with the leaders has come a new generation that has taken the reins of power. Momen al-Ghemri, 25, a nurse, and his wife, Iman, 24, an Arabic teacher, are members of it.

University educated, the grandchildren of refugees, still living in refugee camps, both of the Ghemris got their jobs when Hamas took over full control by force three years ago, a year after it won an election. Neither has ever left Gaza.

Mr. Ghemri works as a nurse for the security services, earning $500 a month, but is spending six months at the intensive care unit of Shifa Hospital.

Spare parts for equipment remain a problem because of the blockade. But on a recent shift, the I.C.U. was well staffed. In the office next door, there was a map on the wall of Palestine before Israel's creation.

Mr. Ghemri's grandparents' village, Aqer, is up there, along with 400 other villages that no longer exist. A wall in another office offered instructions on the Muslim way to help a bedridden patient pray.

Mr. Ghemri's wife greets visitors at home wearing the niqab, or face veil, only her eyes visible. She believes in Hamas and makes that clear to her pupils. But her husband sees the party more as a means toward an end.

"You can't go on your own to apply for a job," he said. "For me, Hamas is about employment."

He does like the fact that, as he put it, Hamas "refuses to kneel down to the Jews," but like most Gazans, he is worried about Palestinian disunity and blames both factions.

In fact, there is a paradox at work in Gaza: while Hamas has no competition for power, it also has a surprisingly small following.

Dozens of interviews with all sorts of people found few willing to praise their government or that of its competitor.

"They're both liars," Waleed Hassouna, a baker in Gaza City, said in a very common comment.

People here seem increasingly unable to imagine a political solution to their ills. Ask Gazans how to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - two states? One state? - and the answer is mostly a reflexive call to drive Israel out.

"Hamas and Fatah are two sides of the same coin," Ramzi, a public school teacher from the city of Rafah, said in a widely expressed sentiment. "All the land is ours. We should turn the Jews into refugees and then let the international community take care of them."

Dried-Up Fortunes

Hamza and Muhammad Ju'bas are brothers, ages 13 and 11. They sell chocolates and gum on the streets after school to add to their family income. Once they have pulled in 20 shekels, about $5, they go home and play.

On one steamy afternoon they were taking refuge in a cellphone service center. The center - where customers watch for their number on digital displays and smiling representatives wear ties, and the air-conditioning never quits - seems almost glamorous.

The boys were asked about their hopes.

"My dream is to be like these guys and work in a place that's cool," Muhammad said.

"My dream is to be a worker," Hamza said. He hears stories about the "good times" in the 1990s, when his father worked in Israel, as a house painter, making $85 a day. Later, their father, Emad Ju'bas, 45, said, "My children don't have much ambition."

The family is typical. They live in Shujaiya, a packed eastern neighborhood of 70,000, a warren of narrow, winding alleys and main roads lined with small shops.

The air is heavy with dust and fumes from cars, scooters and horse-drawn carts. Every shop has a small generator chained down outside. Roaring generators and wailing children are the sounds of Shujaiya.

Families are big. From 1997 through 2007, the population increased almost 40 percent, to 1.5 million. Palestinians say that large families will help them cope as they age, and more children mean more fighters for their cause.

Mr. Ju'bas and his wife, Hiyam, have seven boys and three girls. Two of their children have cognitive disabilities. Since Israel's three-week war 18 months ago here aimed at stopping Hamas rockets, their children frequently wet the bed. Their youngest, Taj, 4, is aggressive, randomly punching anyone around him.

For six years Mr. Ju'bas worked in Israel, and with the money he bought a house with six rooms and two bathrooms. In 2000, when the uprising called the second intifada broke out, Israel closed the gates.

After that, Mr. Ju'bas found small jobs around Gaza, but with the blockade that dried up. His only source of work is at the United Nations relief agency, where two months a year he is a security guard.

He admits that at times he lashes out at his family. Domestic violence is on the rise. The strain is acute for women. Men can go out and sit in parks, in chairs right on the sidewalk or visit friends. Women are expected to stay off the streets.

The women at the stress clinic gathered about 10 a.m. They entered silently, wearing the ubiquitous hijab head scarf and ankle-length button-down overcoat known as the jilbab. Two wore the niqab over their faces.

They spoke of sending their children to work just to get them out of the house and of husbands who grew morose and violent.

They blamed Hamas for their misery, for seizing the Israeli soldier, Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, which led to the blockade. But they also blamed Fatah for failing them.

"My own children tell me it is better to die," Jamalat Wadi said to the group.

Ms. Wadi's home was next door and she ran over to check on the family. She found her eight children wandering aimlessly in an open paved area, a courtyard filled with piles of clothes and plastic containers. The house had one unfurnished room and her husband, Bahjat, 28, was on the floor, unconscious, his arm over his head, his mouth open.

"He sleeps all the time," Ms. Wadi said, motioning as though throwing a pill in her mouth.

The Wadis are refugees, so they receive flour, rice, oil and sugar from U.N.R.W.A. Tens of thousands of others here receive salaries from the Ramallah government to stay away from their jobs in protest over Hamas rule. They wait, part of a literate society with nothing to do.

Ms. Wadi said that when she visited her mother, her two brothers fought bitterly because one backs Hamas and the other backs Fatah. Recently they threw bottles at each other. Her mother kicked them out.

In another meeting, Mr. Ju'bas was unshaven and unwashed. The previous night he had hit his wife, one of his children said. The washing machine had broken and he had no money to fix it.

He told his wife to use the neighbors'. But she was embarrassed. She stayed up all night cleaning clothes and crying.

"My only dream," Mr. Ju'bas said, "is to have patience."

Inside Looking Out

The waves were lapping the beach. It was night. Mahmoud Mesalem, 20, and a few of his friends were sitting at a restaurant.

University students or recent graduates, they were raised in a world circumscribed by narrow boundaries drawn hard by politics and geography. They all despaired from the lack of a horizon.

"We're here, we're going to die here, we're going to be buried here," lamented Waleed Matar, 22.

Mr. Mesalem pointed at an Israeli ship on the horizon, then made his hand into a gun, pointed it at his head. "If we try to leave, they will shoot us," he said.

There are posters around town with a drawing of a boot on an Israeli soldier, who is facedown, and the silhouette of a man hanging by his neck. The goal is to get alleged collaborators to turn themselves in. The campaign has put fear in the air.

Israel is never far from people's minds here. Its ships control the waters, its planes control the skies. Its whims, Gazans feel, control their fate.

And while most here view Israel as the enemy, they want trade ties and to work there. In their lives the main source of income has been from and through Israel.

Economists here say what is most needed now is not more goods coming in, as the easing of the blockade has permitted, but people and exports getting out.

That is not going to happen soon.

"Our position against the movement of people is unchanged," said Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Israeli in charge of policy to Gaza's civilians. "As to exports, not now. Security is paramount, so that will have to wait."

Direct contact between the peoples, common in the 1980s and '90s when Palestinians worked daily in Israel, is nonexistent.

Jamil Mahsan, 62, is a member of a dying breed. He worked for 35 years in Israel and believes in two states.

"There are two peoples in Palestine, not just one, and each deserves its rights," he said, sitting in his son's house. He used to attend the weddings of his Israeli co-workers. He had friendships in Israel. Today nobody here does.

The young men sitting by the beach contemplating their lives were representative of the new Gaza. They have started a company to design advertisements, and they write and produce small plays.

Their first performance in front of several hundred people involved a recounting of the horrors of the last war with Israel, with children speaking about their own fears as video of the war played.

Their second play, which they are rehearsing, is a black comedy about the Palestinian plight. It assails the factions for fighting and the Arabs for selling out the Palestinians.

"Our play does not mean we hate Israel," said Abdel Qader Ismail, 24, a former employee of the military intelligence service, with no trace of irony. "We believe in Israel's right to exist, but not on the land of Palestine. In France or in Russia, but not in Palestine. This is our home."

Mona El-Naggar and Fares Akram contributed reporting.


19) Philip Morris Is Said to Benefit From Child Labor
July 13, 2010

MOSCOW - One woman said children as young as 10 working in the fields developed red rashes on their stomachs and necks as they harvested tobacco for use in cigarettes made by Philip Morris.

Another migrant laborer working in the tobacco fields in Kazakhstan said a farmer confiscated her identification papers and withheld pay to force her to continue working despite dismal conditions.

Human Rights Watch, the group best known for documenting governmental abuse and war crimes, plans to release a report on Wednesday showing that child and forced labor is widespread on farms that supply a cigarette factory owned by Philip Morris International in Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.

While child labor should be condemned in any setting, the report said, employing children on tobacco farms is particularly hazardous because tobacco field laborers are exposed to high levels of nicotine while doing their jobs.

Only a tiny fraction of Philip Morris's global tobacco purchases are made in the country, and no tobacco raised on the farms employing child labor went into cigarettes sold outside of former Soviet countries. Philip Morris, after being provided with an advance copy of the report, said it agreed to sweeping changes in its purchasing policies in Kazakhstan.

"Philip Morris International is firmly opposed to child labor," Peter Nixon, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview from the company's office in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Although child labor is widespread in agriculture in Central Asia, Human Rights Watch said, the particularly harmful environment on the Kazakh tobacco farms warranted special attention. The report cited conditions it said were dangerous to children and adults alike. Lacking easy access to potable water, for example, laborers had resorted to drinking from irrigation channels contaminated with pesticides, the report said.

The group interviewed 68 tobacco farm employees in one district of Kazakhstan during the harvest last fall, identifying them only by their first names and initials.

All, including the children, were migrant laborers from neighboring Central Asian countries, mostly from impoverished Kyrgyzstan. The report also documented violations of basic farm safety rules, like laborers wearing open-toed shoes while working with sharp hoes.

Human Rights Watch researchers documented 72 instances of children working in the Kazakh tobacco fields, which employ about a thousand migrants each season.

Many are paid on a piecework basis, by the ton of harvested tobacco. The group said this was an inducement for parents to bring their children into the fields at harvest time. Even then, the report said, families made only a few hundred dollars for a half-year of farm work, after covering debts to farmers for board and travel.

"A company like Philip Morris certainly has the resources to put an end to these practices," Jane Buchanan, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher and the author, said in an interview.

Mr. Nixon, the Philip Morris spokesman, said the company already had policies in place prohibiting purchases from farms that used child labor. Over the years, he said, this policy had reduced abusive practices at Kazakh tobacco farms - an assertion that Human Rights Watch said was supported in its interviews.

All the same, Mr. Nixon said, Philip Morris would step up its efforts to eliminate child labor. The company, he said, was "appreciative" of Human Rights Watch for drawing the continuing abuse to its attention.

But Ms. Buchanan said Philip Morris bore moral responsibility for the fate of child laborers in Kazakhstan, even though it was not their direct employer, citing precedents established by apparel and athletic shoe companies that over the last decade had demanded Asian suppliers prohibit child labor.

"Companies are supposed to have policies to recognize and rectify problems with human rights in their supply chain," she said.

That many of the children worked alongside their migrant-laborer parents during the harvest, she said, did not diminish Philip Morris's responsibility for their safety.

Tobacco can be an unhealthy crop even before it winds up in cigarettes. Nicotine is absorbed through the skin through continual handling of tobacco leaves. The resulting ailment in tobacco farm laborers is called green tobacco sickness, causing nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Rashes are also common.

The report cited studies indicating that laborers can absorb, in one day, the amount of nicotine equivalent to smoking 36 cigarettes.

"Children are especially vulnerable due to their small body size in relation to the dose of nicotine they absorb," the report said.

The farmers studied by Human Rights Watch supply Philip Morris Kazakhstan, a wholly owned subsidiary of Philip Morris International, which is based in New York.

The company, spun off from its parent, the Altria Group, in 2008, sells cigarettes in 160 countries outside of the United States, including Kazakhstan. Philip Morris USA markets many of the same brands in America, most notably Marlboro, but is a distinct company.

Mr. Nixon said the company would require farmers to sign written contracts with adult laborers during this year's growing season, and would hire an outside monitor to police farms for compliance with child labor laws.

This year, the company opened a summer camp for the children of migrant laborers in Kazakhstan's tobacco-producing region. It will also require its suppliers to pay monthly salaries, rather than piecework pay, to discourage migrant parents from enlisting the help of their children.

In 2009, Philip Morris International's net revenue was $25 billion on sales of cigarettes including globally marketed brands like Marlboro, L&M, Chesterfield and Bond Street.

The company's purchases in Kazakhstan are tiny compared to its global operations; it bought 1,500 tons in 2009, compared to its global total of 400,000 tons. The company said it contracts with 300 farms in Kazakhstan, employing about 1,200 seasonal workers. These workers are typically accompanied by about 200 children, Mr. Nixon said.

The Kazakh tobacco is used only in local brands unknown outside their markets in former Soviet countries, including Polyot and Apollo-Soyuz.


20) Police Are Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings
July 13, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - Four current and two former New Orleans police officers have been charged in connection with the killing of unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, federal law enforcement officials announced here on Tuesday.

Four of the men - former Officer Robert Faulcon, Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius and Officer Anthony Villavaso - were charged with federal civil rights violations in the killing of 17-year-old James Brissette and the wounding of four others, all members of the same family, when the officers came across a group on the bridge in eastern New Orleans and opened fire.

In addition, Mr. Faulcon, who was arrested Tuesday morning by F.B.I. agents in Fresno, Tex., was charged with shooting Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man with severe mental disabilities, in the back, killing him, as he tried to flee.

All four of the men could face the death penalty.

The Danziger case is the most high-profile of at least eight incidents involving New Orleans police officers that are being actively investigated by federal law enforcement officials. The case became a flash point, in the city and throughout the nation, a symbol of the violence, disorder and official ineptitude in the storm's wake.

In particular, it shined a spotlight on New Orleans's long-troubled Police Department, the target of a major corruption investigation in the 1990s. Two former officers are sitting on death row.

In May, at the formal invitation of the city's newly inaugurated mayor, Mitch Landrieu, Justice Department officials announced they were conducting a full review of the Police Department, a process that often ends in a consent decree, a legally binding agreement for systemic reform.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who spoke at a news conference here on Tuesday, put the indictment in that context.

"It will take more than this investigation to renew the New Orleans Police Department and to allow it to thrive," Mr. Holder said, adding later, "We want to look at this in a holistic way."

The four men who were charged with killing Mr. Brissette are in custody, federal officials said, who added that the investigation was continuing. The three officers have been suspended without pay, a police spokesman said.

Two other men charged on Tuesday - one an officer and the other a recent retiree - received summonses, said a spokeswoman for the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

"We've known it was coming for at least six months and suspected it was coming for a year," said Frank DeSalvo, a lawyer for Sergeant Bowen. "It's not a shock. We're ready."

Eric Hessler, a lawyer who represents Sergeant Gisevius, said federal officials should have considered the chaos that the police were operating in during the first few days after Hurricane Katrina.

"The federal government has clearly forgotten or chosen to ignore the circumstances police officers were working under and clearly chose not to factor in any of those circumstances when they decided to charge them with an intentional act of murder," Mr. Hessler said in an interview.

Lawyers for the other men who were indicted could not be reached or did not return calls seeking comment.

Starting in February, police officers, often one at a time, began to plead guilty to lesser charges like conspiring to obstruct justice in the Danziger case; five former officers and a civilian have done so to date.

The 27-count indictment handed up by a grand jury on Monday paints a harrowing picture of the events on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, when much of the city was still underwater.

The details of the shootings on the bridge that began to emerge, and which were elaborated on in the indictment unsealed Tuesday, were ghastlier than many in the city had expected.

Responding to a call that the police were under fire, officers drove to the bridge over the Industrial Canal in eastern New Orleans in a Budget rental truck. Some were armed with assault rifles, others with a shotgun or a semiautomatic pistol.

Mr. Brissette and five members of the Bartholomew family were walking across the bridge to get food and other supplies from a supermarket, the indictment reads, when the officers opened fire. Four members of the Bartholomew family were shot. Susan Bartholomew, at the time 38, lost part of her arm; her husband, Leonard Bartholomew III, was shot in the head. Mr. Brissette, who was killed, was shot seven times.

Some officers then traveled to the other side of the bridge and found two brothers, Ronald and Lance Madison, who were on their way to check on a dentist's office that belonged to their oldest brother, Dr. Romell Madison. According to the indictment, Mr. Faulcon then shot Ronald Madison to death with a shotgun. Afterward, it continues, Sergeant Bowen kicked and stomped on Mr. Madison as he lay dying on the ground.

Lance Madison was arrested at the scene and later held on eight counts of attempted murder of a police officer. He was never formally charged and was released after three weeks in custody.

"Our family has waited a long time for justice in this case," Dr. Madison said in a statement. "These indictments represent another step forward toward that goal."

The three officers and Mr. Faulcon were also charged along Sgt. Arthur Kaufman and former Sgt. Gerard Dugue, both homicide detectives who were assigned to investigate the shootings, in connection with a cover-up of the shootings. Sergeant Kaufman faces up to 120 years in prison, while Mr. Dugue, who recently retired, faces up to 70.

The cover-up described in the indictment is methodical and blatant. It recounts a scene in the abandoned Seventh District police station where, it says, Sergeant Kaufman and Mr. Dugue met with other officers to ensure that their stories were consistent. Sergeant Kaufman is also accused of creating fictional witnesses and planting a pistol at the scene of the shootings.

In 2006, the Orleans Parish district attorney charged the four men now indicted in the killing of Mr. Brissette and three others with murder and attempted murder. In 2008, a judge dismissed those charges, citing improprieties in the handling of the case. The three others have since pleaded guilty to involvement in the cover-up.

Shortly after that dismissal, Jim Letten, the United States attorney for the district that includes New Orleans, announced that his office would open an investigation, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice.

The other federal inquiries are continuing.

Last month, five police officers were indicted in connection with the killing of Henry Glover, a 31-year-old man who was shot to death in the Algiers neighborhood in the days just after the hurricane and whose body was later found in a burned car behind a police station.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said at the news conference that he and Mr. Holder had discussed the New Orleans Police Department in one of their first conversations after Mr. Perez joined the Justice Department in October 2009.

Justice Department officials began considering the possibility of stepping in and systemically reforming the department, and Mr. Landrieu, who was elected mayor in February, began discussing such a step with federal officials before he even took office.

Two days after his inauguration, Mr. Landrieu formally requested federal involvement in the New Orleans police force, describing it as "one of the worst police departments in the country."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 13, 2010

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


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