Saturday, June 12, 2010



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


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Mass Protest -- Beginning of Mehserle Trial -- Justice for Oscar Grant!!
Date: Monday, June 14, 2010
Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Location: All Out to the Courthouse
Street: Temple and Broadway
City/Town: Los Angeles, CA


Please forward widely

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please write Lynne to express your love and solidarity:

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

In Solidarity,

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Twenty co-sponsoring national organizations urge you to attend this conference scheduled for Albany , New York July 23-25, 2010. They are After Downing Street, Arab American Union Members Council, Bailout the People Movement, Black Agenda Report, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Campus Antiwar Network, Code Pink, International Action Center, Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations, National Lawyers Guild, Peace Action, Peace of the Action, Progressive Democrats of America, The Fellowship of Reconciliation, U.S. Labor Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and World Can't Wait.

The purpose of the conference is to plan united actions in the months ahead in support of demands for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. military forces and contractors from Afghanistan and Iraq , and money for human needs, not for wars, occupations, and bail-outs. The peace movement is strongest and most effective when plans for united actions are made by the whole range of antiwar and social justice organizations meeting together and deciding together dates and places for national mobilizations.

Each person attending the conference will have voice and vote. Attendees will have the opportunity to amend the action proposal submitted by conference co-sponsors, add demands, and submit resolutions for consideration by the conference.

Keynoters will be NOAM CHOMSKY, internationally renowned political activist, author, and critic of U.S. foreign and domestic policies, MIT Professor Emeritus of Linguistics; and DONNA DEWITT, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO; Co-Chair, South Carolina Progressive Network; Steering Committee, U.S. Labor Against the War; Administrative Body, National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations.

The conference's website is and you will find there details regarding other speakers, workshops, registration, hotel and travel information, and how to submit amendments, demands, and resolutions. The action proposal has also been published on the website.

Please write us at for further information or call 518-227-6947. We can fill orders for copies of the conference brochure. Tables for display and sale of materials can be reserved.

We look forward to seeing you in Albany on July 23-25.

In peace,

Jerry Gordon

Secretary, National Peace Conference


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:




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


Shame on Arizona

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just signed a law that will authorize officers to pull over, question, and detain anyone they have a "reasonable suspicion" to believe is in this country without proper documentation. It's legalized racial profiling, and it's an affront on all of our civil rights, especially Latinos. It's completely unacceptable.

Join us in letting Arizona's leaders know how we feel, and that there will be consequences. A state that dehumanizes its own people does not deserve our economic support

"As long as racial profiling is legal in Arizona, I will do what I can to not visit the state and to avoid spending dollars there."

Sign Petition Here:


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


Collateral Murder



5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.

Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.


San Francisco City and County Tramples on Civil Liberties
A Letter to Antiwar Activists
Dear Activists:
On Saturday, March 20, the San Francisco City and County Recreation and Parks Department's Park Rangers patrolled a large public antiwar demonstration, shutting down the distribution of Socialist Viewpoint magazine. The rally in Civic Center Plaza was held in protest of the illegal and immoral U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Park Rangers went table-to-table examining each one. They photographed the Socialist Viewpoint table and the person attending it-me. My sister, Debbie and I, had set up the table. We had a sign on the table that asked for a donation of $1.25 for the magazine. The Park Rangers demanded that I "pack it up" and go, because selling or even asking for donations for newspapers or magazines is no longer permitted without the purchase of a new and expensive "vendors license." Their rationale for this denial of free speech is that the distribution of newspapers, magazines, T-shirts-and even food-would make the political protest a "festival" and not a political protest demonstration!
This City's action is clearly a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution-the right to free speech and freedom of the press-and can't be tolerated.
While they are firing teachers and other San Francisco workers, closing schools, cutting back healthcare access, cutting services to the disabled and elderly, it is outrageous that the Mayor and City Government chose to spend thousands of dollars to police tables at an antiwar rally-a protest demonstration by the people!
We can't let this become the norm. It is so fundamentally anti-democratic. The costs of the permits for the rally, the march, the amplified sound, is already prohibitive. Protest is not a privilege we should have to pay for. It's a basic right in this country and we should reclaim it!
Personally, I experienced a deep feeling of alienation as the crisply-uniformed Park Ranger told me I had to "pack it up"-especially when I knew that they were being paid by the City to do this at this demonstration!
I hope you will join this protest of the violation of the right to distribute and, therefore, the right to read Socialist Viewpoint, by writing or emailing the City officials who are listed below.1
In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, Editorial Board Member, Socialist Viewpoint
60 - 29th Street, #429
San Francisco, CA 94110

1 Mayor Gavin Newsom
City Hall, Room 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Board of Supervisors
City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689

San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department Park Rangers
McLaren Lodge & Annex
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Chief of Police George Gascón
850 Bryant Street, #525
San Francisco, CA 94103
(I could not find an email address for him.).



Lynne Stewart in Jail!

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



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

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

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


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

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

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

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

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

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

This hearing is the first step.

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

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


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO


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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) With Strikes, China's Workers Seem to Gain Power
June 8, 2010

2) CONFIRMED: Aerial Video Shows Second Leaking Rig Near The Deepwater Horizon
[There is a video of the Ocean Saratoga rig oil leak in addition to the Deepwater Horizon]
By Gus Lubin
Jun. 8, 2010, 9:18 AM

3) Spain Hit by Strike Over Austerity Measures
June 8, 2010

4) Police Officers End a Mine Strike in Mexico
June 7, 2010

5)Rate of Oil Leak, Still Not Clear, Puts Doubt on BP
June 7, 2010

6) Military Taps Social Networking Skills
June 7, 2010

7) Plumes of Oil Below Surface Raise New Concerns
June 8, 2010

8) Border Shooting Strains Tensions With Mexico
[Like the Israeli Defense Force, U.S. Border patrol carries out death sentence for rock-throwing]
June 8, 2010

9) Facing Misconduct Claims, Brooklyn Prosecutor Agrees to Free Man Held 15 Years
June 8, 2010

10) Jury seated in Mehserle trial
"The jury includes no African Americans..."
Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

11) Judge blocks nurses' strike at 5 UC hospitals
Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

12) Efforts to Limit the Flow of Spill News
June 9, 2010

13) Chilling Images of Drilling's Perils, Met by Numbed Eyes
"At this point the voice of reason is supposed to add, Yes. But. We need the energy from somewhere. What's the least bad alternative: Offshore or Middle Eastern oil? Gas? Nuclear? Coal? A conventional answer is gas. Only you look at those sickening images from the gulf and the shimmering green canvas of hills, lakes and dairy farms upstate and you add another "Yes. But." If there could ever be an event that would set our hair on fire, send us running a million miles an hour toward full-bore efforts at conservation and alternative energy, what else could it be if not this one?"
[Check out the very short video at this site:
It will shock and amaze you!]
June 9, 2010

14) [WAT] PRESS RELEASE: Trial for Anti-Torture Activists Begins Monday (6/14), GITMO Still Open Under Obama
Twenty-Seven to Go on Trial for Protesting the Obama Administration's
Failure to Close Guantanamo, Plan for Indefinite Detention, and
Refusal to Prosecute Torture
For Immediate Release, June 10, 2010
Contact: Jeremy Varon: M: 732-979-3119
Helen Schietinger: M: 202-344-5762

15) New Estimates Double Rate of Oil That Flowed Into Gulf
"The new estimate is based on information that was gathered before BP cut a pipe called a riser on the ocean floor last week to install a new capture device, an operation that some scientists have said may have sharply increased the rate of flow. The government panel, called the Flow Rate Technical Group, is preparing yet another estimate that will cover the period after the riser was cut."
June 10, 2010

16) Drug Maker Seen as Uncooperative on Inquiry
June 10, 2010

18) Students to Protest Possible End of Free Rides
June 10, 2010

19) China Inflation Rises to a 19-Month High
June 11, 2010

20) A Worthy Act of Civil Disobedience
By James Hunter
Bradley Manning, 22, an Army intelligence analyst has been arrested for leaking the profoundly disturbing video of a helicopter attack on a group of people in Iraq in 2007.
June 12, 2010

21) A Tourist Mecca Fears a Long-Term Oil Smear
June 11, 2010

22) Coast Guard Adjusts After Spill Estimate Rises
June 11, 2010

23) 5 Officers Indicted in Katrina Killing
June 11, 2010


1) With Strikes, China's Workers Seem to Gain Power
June 8, 2010

SHANGHAI - Just days after resolving a strike by agreeing to give substantial raises to 1,900 workers at its transmission factory, Honda Motor said Tuesday that employees at another of its parts plants in southern China had staged a walkout.

A Honda spokeswoman in Tokyo, Natsuno Asanuma, said workers at an exhaust-system factory in the city of Foshan had gone on strike Monday morning. She declined to say what demands they had made. But the walkout will force Honda to halt work Wednesday at one of its four auto assembly plants in China, the company said.

The four assembly factories had just reopened after closing for almost two weeks because of the earlier strike. It was unclear how long the assembly plant, Guangqi Honda Automobile, would remain closed.

The second Honda strike comes amid growing signs that China's huge migrant work force is gaining bargaining power. New pressure to raise pay and improve labor conditions is likely to raise the cost of doing business and could induce some companies to shift production elsewhere.

Foxconn Technology - a giant contract electronics manufacturer that also raised wages in China this month - said Tuesday it was reconsidering the way it runs its operations there.

The company, which has seen a string of suicides among workers at its sprawling, citylike campuses in the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, said it was considering turning the management of some of its worker dormitories over to local governments in China.

"Because Foxconn is a commercial enterprise operating like a society, we're responsible for almost everything for our workers, including their job, food, dorm and even personal relationships," Arthur Huang, a Foxconn spokesman, said Tuesday. "That is too much for a single company. A company like Foxconn shouldn't have so many functions."

Foxconn, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry of Taiwan, makes devices for companies like Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Hon Hai's shares fell more than 5 percent Tuesday in Taiwan, to their lowest since last August, after the company said it would seek to pass on its higher labor costs to clients.

As the company held annual shareholder meetings in Taipei and Hong Kong, small groups of people demonstrated outside, urging the company to improve conditions for workers.

Turning over management of employee dormitories to the government authorities would be a dramatic change for Foxconn, which - like thousands of other manufacturers in southern China - has lured peasants from rural areas to work at giant, gated factory compounds.

One of the company's Shenzhen campuses employs 300,000 workers and covers about 1 square mile, or more than 2.5 square kilometers. The gated campus boasts high-rise dormitories, a hospital, a fire department, an Internet cafe and even restaurants and bank branches.

Foxconn said Sunday that it planned to double the salaries of many of its 800,000 workers in China to 2,000 renminbi, or nearly $300, a month. The huge raise by one of the country's biggest exporters seems likely to put pressure on other companies to follow suit, analysts say.

Chairman Terry Gou told the Taipei shareholders' meeting that the company was looking to shift some unspecified production from China to automated plants in Taiwan, Reuters reported.

After years of focusing on luring foreign investment, Chinese officials are now endorsing efforts to improve conditions for workers and raise salaries. The government hopes the changes will ease a widening income gap between the rich and the poor and prevent social unrest over soaring food and housing prices.

On Friday, Beijing's municipal government said it would raise its minimum wage by 20 percent. Ma Jun, a Hong Kong-based economist at Deutsche Bank, said last week that more cities and provinces would soon raise their minimum wages 10 to 20 percent.

"We therefore believe that a faster-than-expected labor cost increase has now become a political imperative," Mr. Ma said in a report, citing comments from Beijing's leadership about improving social justice.

But analysts say wage pressure is also coming from labor shortages in coastal cities as the country's declining birth rate reduces the number of young people entering the work force.

Factories in southern China that used to advertise in search of employees 18 to 24 years old are now recruiting much older workers.

The labor shortages are being exacerbated by an economic boom and improving job prospects in inland provinces.

TPV Technology, a contract manufacturer that produces computer monitors with about 16,000 workers in five cities in China, says it raised salaries by 15 percent in January and plans to raise them again, perhaps as early as July.

"We'll adjust our salary to the market and to our competitors' level," said Shane Tyau, a vice president at TPV, which is based in Hong Kong. "If Foxconn announces another round of pay raises, we'll reconsider our wage level, too."

Economists say that China's labor force is growing increasingly bold and that over the past year, periodic strikes in southern China - some even involving global companies - have been resolved quietly or not reported in the media.

To resolve the strike at its transmission plant, Honda offered workers raises of 24 to 32 percent. The strike had forced Honda to shut down its assembly plants in China.

Now Honda, Japan's second-largest automaker, after Toyota Motor, has been a target again. The exhaust-system factory, which is controlled by a joint venture between a Honda subsidiary and a Chinese company.

Honda owns a network of production facilities in China, including the four car assembly factories and three auto parts manufacturers, as well as two motorbike plants, two plants that make generators, pumps and other power equipment and three research centers.

Those numbers do not include factories opened in China by Honda subsidiaries like Yutaka Giken, which separately runs four auto parts manufacturers in the country.

Honda denied Tuesday that it was vulnerable to more strikes because it had already shown a willingness to increase wages to get employees back to its production lines. "It's not at all clear at this point whether the two strikes are related," said Ms. Asanuma, the Honda spokeswoman.

"It's too early at this point to say whether we are looking at some kind of chain reaction."

Hiroko Tabuchi reported from Tokyo. Bao Beibei contributed research.


2) CONFIRMED: Aerial Video Shows Second Leaking Rig Near The Deepwater Horizon
[There is a video of the Ocean Saratoga rig oil leak in addition to the Deepwater Horizon]
By Gus Lubin
Jun. 8, 2010, 9:18 AM

Earlier we published speculation from satellite analytics group SkyTruth that there may be a second leak in the Gulf. A freelance pilot and photographer confirmed these rumors and a possible coverup.

Photographer J Henry Fair says the new photos show an oil plume originating from the Ocean Saratoga rig, which is operated by Diamond Offshore. A work ship in the foreground appeared to be applying dispersants to the oil. A larger rig in the background may be discharging another leak.

This leak was reported last night by Alabama local news. NOAA also mentioned this leak in a April 30 oil slick map [PDF].

Diamond Offshore spokesman Gary Krenek tells us his company was hired by Taylor Energy to "plug and abandon" the existing well. He declined to comment on the reported leak.

The rig was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, according to Times Picayune. However, Diamond Offshore tells us, however, it was not hired to close the well until 2009.

So how long and how much oil has leaked?

A NOAA spokeswoman said "scientists are looking into the leak." Meanwhile, Coast Guard rep Zachary Zubricki tells us "this is not a story."

Read more:


3) Spain Hit by Strike Over Austerity Measures
June 8, 2010

MADRID - Spanish public workers went on strike on Tuesday against a cut in their wages in what could be the first of several union-led protests against the government's latest austerity measures.

The strike reduced hospital care, mail distribution and other public services to a minimum, but did not cause a nationwide paralysis. Trade unions said that 75 percent of the country's 2.5 million public workers had gone on strike - a number that was contested by the government, which put the level of participation at about 11.85 percent.

Consuelo Rumi, deputy minister in charge of the civil service, described the protest as a day of "normality" with few incidents. "This strike has had a limited reach," she said.

Reports suggested that some regions were far more affected than others, particularly Catalonia, where the transport network was disrupted and protesters briefly cut off the city's main thoroughfare by burning tires. The public sector strike came on top of a separate protest by truck drivers angered by the cost of diesel fuel, which has notably hit traffic at the border with France.

Spain's public workers were protesting against a 5 percent average reduction in their wages this year, part of a government package of additional spending cuts worth 15 billion euros that was narrowly approved by lawmakers last month.

The cuts are designed to help appease international investors - concerned about Spain and other ailing economies among the 16 members of the euro - by cutting Spain's deficit from 11.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 to 3 percent in 2013, the limit under the euro rules.

Tuesday's strike, however, is widely expected to be the prelude to more severe labor unrest later this month, after the government unveils on June 16 plans to overhaul Spain's labor laws. The country's two main unions, which have been at loggerheads with employers over how to improve the labor market, have warned of a general strike should the government present a "hurtful" reform plan.

Spain has some of the highest firing costs for open-ended contracts in Europe, according to the World Bank. That, in turn, has encouraged employers to put a quarter of the country's workforce on temporary contracts. That contributes to rapid fluctuations in Spain's employment levels, with the jobless rate recently soaring to almost 20 percent, double the European Union's average.

As part of his labor reform, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the prime minister, is expected to propose next week a sharp cut in redundancy costs for companies, reducing the payment that fired workers on long-term contracts are guaranteed for each year of employment to as little as 20 days from the prevailing 45 days.

A second priority of the reform is to loosen the rigid system of collective bargaining that prevents companies from agreeing to their own terms with employees - and even forces them to follow different rules in different regions.

Still, the government is also expected to take additional steps - focusing this time on increasing state revenues - to help reduce the deficit amid concerns about Spain's growth prospects. BBVA, one of Spain's two biggest banks, forecast Monday that Spain's economy would contract 0.6 percent this year.

Mr. Zapatero recently warned the rich of higher taxes. The government is also considering a fiscal amnesty, according to the center-right newspaper El Mundo, that would seek to repatriate about 50 billion euros held offshore by granting tax evaders a pardon in return for investing in Spanish debt at below market rates.


4) Police Officers End a Mine Strike in Mexico
June 7, 2010

MEXICO CITY - For almost three years, the miners at the massive open-pit Cananea copper mine have been on strike, ground troops in a battle to force the recognition of their exiled leader.

The strike ended abruptly Sunday night as busloads of federal police officers poured into the mine, which is 25 miles south of the Arizona border, and took it over.

Mexico's interior ministry said the takeover was peaceful. But witnesses said the police used tear gas to disperse about 50 miners picketing outside the gates and then followed the miners to the union hall where they tried to take refuge.

There were no confirmed reports of injuries.

On Monday, people in Cananea, a tiny desert town, awoke to see the picket line replaced by federal police officers on guard inside the mine's fences. Police trucks rolled through the streets as helicopters clattered overhead.

The mine's owner, Grupo Mexico, which has reported that it has lost more than $1.5 billion from the strike, said that investigators had already entered the mine to assess the damage.

On its surface, the strike by more than 1,000 workers began over health and safety conditions at the mine, but both sides acknowledge that was never the fundamental issue.

The labor dispute at Cananea has been a proxy for a fight that is highly personal - between the miners' leader, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, who has been living in Vancouver, Canada, to escape corruption charges, and German Larrea, the company's secretive chief executive, who is one of Mexico's richest men.

"The reason for all this strike is they wanted to get rid of the orders of apprehension," said Juan Rebolledo, Grupo Mexico's vice president for international affairs. "It was not in our hands to fix the legal problems of Mr. Napoleon Gomez."

Mr. Rebolledo said that the company planned to invest billions of dollars in the mine, but that it could be months before it starts producing again. Before the strike, Cananea produced between 35 percent and 40 percent of Mexico's copper.

After Mr. Gomez Urrutia assumed the leadership of the union in 2001, he altered the traditionally placid labor relations between the country's officially recognized unions and the private sector. After only one strike against Grupo Mexico in the 1990s, the union has called 32 strikes against the company's operations, Grupo Mexico said.

His supporters argue that the Mexican government has allied itself with Grupo Mexico to get rid of Mr. Gomez Urrutia because of his combativeness.

Hours after the police action in Cananea, state police officers in the border state of Coahuila dislodged families of some of the 65 miners who were killed when the Pasta de Conchos coal mine exploded in February 2006. The coal mine is also owned by Grupo Mexico.

Some of the families had been camping outside the mine demanding the recovery of the miners' remains. Mr. Rebolledo said the police were accompanying officials who were shutting down the mine for good. The timing - on the same day as the Cananea action - was a coincidence, he said.

The miners' cause has been adopted by the United Steelworkers in the United States and Canada. Manny Armenta, a steelworkers representative in Arizona was in Cananea when the police arrived on Sunday. He said that he had helped get people out of the union hall when the police threw tear gas. "This is just a blatant violation of union rights and human rights and union autonomy by this government and Grupo Mexico," he said.

Grupo Mexico won a protracted legal battle with the mine workers in February when a court ruled that it could break its contract with the union and dismiss the workers.

Through the strike, the Cananea strikers have remained loyal to Mr. Gomez Urrutia.

"Grupo Mexico and the government wants to snatch the union away," Sergio Tolano, the general secretary of the local section of the union in Cananea, said Monday. "We know that what the government has been saying is slander."

The union's early battles with the company go back to the beginning of the 1990s, when the company offered the union 5 percent in stock as part of a privatization. The union demanded cash, but did not receive it until 2005 when the company put $55 million in a trust.

The union then took control of the trust, leading to the corruption charges against Mr. Gomez Urrutia.

"They are trying to silence our organization," Mr. Tolano said. "Our task is to defend it."


5) Rate of Oil Leak, Still Not Clear, Puts Doubt on BP
June 7, 2010

Staring day after day at images of oil billowing from an undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico, many Americans are struggling to make sense of the numbers.

On Monday, BP said a cap was capturing 11,000 barrels of oil a day from the well. The official government estimate of the flow rate is 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day, which means the new device should be capturing the bulk of the oil.

But is it? With no consensus among experts on how much oil is pouring from the wellhead, it is difficult - if not impossible - to assess the containment cap's effectiveness. BP has stopped trying to calculate a flow rate on its own, referring all questions on that subject to the government. The company's liability will ultimately be determined in part by how many barrels of oil are spilled.

The immense undersea gusher of oil and gas, seen on live video feed, looks as big as it did last week, or bigger, before the company sliced through the pipe known as a riser to install its new collection device.

At least one expert, Ira Leifer, who is part of a government team charged with estimating the flow rate, is convinced that the operation has made the leak worse, perhaps far worse than the 20 percent increase that government officials warned might occur when the riser was cut.

Dr. Leifer said in an interview on Monday that judging from the video, cutting the pipe might have led to a several-fold increase in the flow rate from the well.

"The well pipe clearly is fluxing way more than it did before," said Dr. Leifer, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "By way more, I don't mean 20 percent, I mean multiple factors."

Asked about the flow rate at a news conference at the White House on Monday, Adm. Thad W. Allen, the Coast Guard commander in charge of the federal response to the spill, said that as BP captured more of the oil, the government should be able to offer better estimates of the flow from the wellhead by tracking how much reaches the surface.

"That is the big unknown that we're trying to hone in and get the exact numbers on," Admiral Allen said. "And we'll make those numbers known as we get them. We're not trying to low-ball it or high-ball it. It is what it is."

Speaking at a briefing in Houston on Monday, Kent Wells, a BP executive involved in the containment effort, declined to estimate the total flow and how much it might have increased. He said that video images from the wellhead showed a "curtain of oil" leaking from under the cap.

"How much that is, we'd all love to know," Mr. Wells said. "It's really difficult to tell."

He said that more than 27,000 barrels of oil had been collected, and that engineers were working to optimize the collection rate.

On Sunday, engineers halted their efforts to close all four vents on the capping device, because even with one vent closed, the amount of oil being captured was approaching 15,000 barrels a day, the processing capacity of the collection ship at the surface.

Mr. Wells reiterated that a second collection system, involving hoses at the wellhead, would be implemented "by the middle of June." That oil would be collected by another rig with the ability to handle at least 5,000 barrels a day, he said.

The success of the containment device has cast new doubts on the official estimates of the flow rate, developed by a government-appointed team called the Flow Rate Technical Group. Before the riser pipe was cut, the group made estimates by several methods, including an analysis of video footage, and the overlap of those estimates produced the range of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day that the team reported on May 27. That was two to four times as high as the government's previous estimate of 5,000 barrels a day, a number that had been widely ridiculed by scientists and advocacy groups.

Yet the scientists who produced that new range emphasized its uncertainty when they presented it. In fact, a subgroup that analyzed the plume emerging at the wellhead could offer no upper bound for its flow estimate, and could come up with only a rough idea of the lower bound, which it pegged at 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day.

The Flow Rate Technical Group is scheduled to release a new estimate this week or early next, though it is not clear whether that report will take into account the changed circumstances of recent days.

Some scientists involved in the Flow Rate Technical Group say that they would like to produce a better estimate, but that they are frustrated by what they view as stonewalling on BP's part, including tardiness in producing high-resolution video that could be subjected to computer analysis, as well as the company's reluctance to permit a direct measurement of the flow rate. They said the installation of the new device and the rising flow of oil to the surface had only reinforced their conviction that they did not have enough information.

"It's apparent that BP is playing games with us, presumably under the advice of their legal team," Dr. Leifer said. "It's six weeks that it's been dumping into the gulf, and still no measurements."

President Obama has repeatedly criticized BP's handling of response efforts. He has been criticized for his seeming lack of outrage over the spill, but he took an angrier tone Monday in an interview to be broadcast Tuesday morning on NBC's "Today" show.

"I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar," Mr. Obama told the show's host, Matt Lauer, in an interview in Kalamazoo, Mich. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answer so I know whose ass to kick."

On Monday, Mr. Wells, the BP executive, said that engineers had always felt that the oil traveling through the damaged riser created some back pressure that reduced the flow rate. "We always expected to see some increase in flow" when the riser was cut, he said. "It's difficult to do any calculations on that."

The company, which for several weeks had publicly rejected the idea of using subsea equipment to measure the flow rate, now says it is up to the flow-rate group itself to decide whether to undertake such a step.

"We are fully cooperating with the Flow Rate Technical Group," said Anne Kolton, a spokeswoman for BP. "We are working very closely with their experts."

The difficulty adds one more item to the government's long to-do list as it begins planning its response to future oil spills: creating some kind of technology that can produce accurate numbers in a deep-sea blowout.

The lack of a reliable measurement system "opens the door to all this speculation and uncertainty," said Elgie Holstein, oil spill coordinator for the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group, "and we're all reduced to staring at grainy video footage from the ocean floor."

The success of the cap has prompted commentators on cable networks and the Internet to ask what BP intends to do with the oil, whether the company should be allowed to profit from it or even whether the federal government should confiscate it.

BP officials have said previously that they intend to refine the oil and sell it, although the oil may require special handling. They have also pointed out that any money to be made - at current prices the oil collected by the cap so far would be worth about $1.9 million - would pale in comparison with the costs of the spill, currently $1 billion and counting.


6) Military Taps Social Networking Skills
June 7, 2010

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - As a teenager, Jamie Christopher would tap instant messages to make plans with friends, and later she became a Facebook regular.

Now a freckle-faced 25, a first lieutenant and an intelligence officer here, she is using her social networking skills to hunt insurgents and save American lives in Afghanistan.

Hunched over monitors streaming live video from a drone, Lieutenant Christopher and a team of analysts recently popped in and out of several military chatrooms, reaching out more than 7,000 miles to warn Marines about roadside bombs and to track Taliban gunfire.

"2 poss children in fov," the team flashed as Marines on the ground lined up an air strike, chat lingo for possible innocents within the drone's field of view. The strike was aborted.

Another message, referring to a Taliban compound, warned: "fire coming from cmpnd." The Marines responded by strafing the fighters, killing nine of them.

Lieutenant Christopher and her crew might be fighting on distant keypads instead of ducking bullets, but they head into battle just the same every day. They and thousands of other young Air Force analysts are showing how the Facebook generation's skills are being exploited - and paying dividends - in America's wars.

The Marines say the analysts, who are mostly in their early to mid-20s, paved the way for them to roll into Marja in southern Afghanistan earlier this year with minimal casualties. And as the analysts quickly pass on the latest data from drones and other spy planes, they are creating the fluid connections needed to hunt small groups of fighters and other fleeting targets, military officials say.

But there can be difficulties in operating from so far away.

Late last month, military authorities in Afghanistan released a report chastising a Predator drone crew in an incident involving a helicopter attack that killed 23 civilians in February. Military officials say analysts in Florida who were monitoring the drone's video feed cautioned two or three times in a chatroom that children were in the group, but the drone's pilot failed to relay those warnings to the ground commander.

For the most part, though, the networking has been so productive that senior commanders are sidestepping some of the traditional military hierarchy and giving the analysts leeway in deciding how to use some spy planes.

"If you want to act quickly, you've got to flatten things out and engage at the lowest possible levels," said Lt. Col. Jason M. Brown, who runs the Air Force intelligence squadron at this base near Sacramento.

The connections have been made possible by the growing fleet of remote-controlled planes, like the Predators and Reapers, which send a steady flow of battlefield video to intelligence centers across the globe.

The Central Intelligence Agency and the military use drones to wage long-distance war against insurgents, with pilots in the United States pressing the missile-firing buttons. But as commanders in Afghanistan mass drones and U-2 spy planes over the hottest areas, the networking technology is expanding a homefront that is increasingly relevant to day-to-day warfare.

And the mechanics are simple in this age of satellite relays. Besides viewing video feeds, the analysts scan still images and enemy conversations. As they log the information into chatrooms, the analysts carry on a running dialogue with drone crews and commanders and intelligence specialists in the field, who receive the information on computers and then radio the most urgent bits to troops on patrol.

Marine intelligence officers say that during the Marja offensive in February, the analysts managed to stay a step ahead of the advance, sending alerts about 300 or so possible roadside bombs.

"To be that tapped into the tactical fight from 7,000 to 8,000 miles away was pretty much unheard of before," said Gunnery Sgt. Sean N. Smothers, a Marine who was stationed here as a liaison to the analysts.

Sergeant Smothers saw how easily the distance could melt away when an analyst, peering at images from a U-2, suddenly stuck up his hand and yelled, "Check!" - the signal for a supervisor to verify a spotting.

Sergeant Smothers said he and two Air Force officers rushed over and confirmed the existence of a roadside bomb. Nearby on a big screen map in the windowless room, they could see a Marine convoy approaching the site.

The group started sending frantic chat messages to their Marine contacts in the area.

As they watched the video feed from a drone, they could see that their messages had been heard: the convoy came to a sudden stop, 500 feet from the bomb.

"To me, this whole operation was like a template for what we should be doing in the future," Sergeant Smothers said.

Military officials said they are planning to repeat the operation around Kandahar.

The effort is a major turnaround for the Air Force, which had been criticized for taking too long to adjust to different types of threats since 9/11. During the cold war, it focused mostly on fixed targets like Soviet bases. But commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq have often complained that it is hard to get help from spy planes before insurgents slipped away.

Marine and Army officers say that that began to change as more planes were sent to Afghanistan in early 2009 and the Air Force got better at blending the various types of intelligence into a fuller picture.

And the new analysts, who were practically weaned on computers and interactive video games, have been crucial.

While Air Force analysts were once backroom technicians, the latest generation works in camouflage uniforms, complete with combat boots, on open floors, with four computer monitors on each desk. Large screens on the walls display the feeds from drones, and coffee and Red Bull help them get through the 12-hour shifts.

The chatrooms are no-frills boxes on a computer screen with lines of rolling text, and crew leaders keep dozens of them open at once. They may look crude compared to Facebook, but Lieutenant Christopher said they were effective in building rapport.

"When it's not busy, I'll be like, 'Hey, how's your day going?' " she said. "It's not just, 'What do you need?' "

There is also some old-fashioned interaction.

The Air Force, which has 4,000 analysts at bases like this and is hiring 2,100 more, has sent liaisons to Afghanistan to help understand the priorities on the ground. And some analysts pick up the phone to build closer bonds with soldiers they have never seen.

Andres Morales, a senior airman, said he often talked to a 24-year-old Army lieutenant, helping his battalion find arms caches and track enemy fighters.

But after four of his fellow soldiers were killed, "he didn't really want to talk about intelligence," Airman Morales, 27, said. "He wanted to talk, more or less, about how life is in California, and how when he comes back, we're going to go surfing together."

Quentin Arnold, 22, another enlisted analyst, said he had been working so closely with the Marines that 15 to 20 had asked to be friends on Facebook. He just collected $1,500 from analysts here to send a care package, including a PlayStation 3 game system and an Xbox 360, to some Marines.

Still, three-quarters of the 350 analysts here have never been to the war zones, so a cultural divide can pop up. Several said they were a bit intimidated when Sergeant Smothers, 36, who has had five tours in Iraq, strode onto the floor here in February.

At the time, the analysts were blending data from the U-2s and the drones to watch the roads into Marja and fields where helicopters might land. But as Sergeant Smothers looked over their shoulders, encouraging them to warn the Marines about even the most tentative threats, the analysts warmed up.

"It was like the shy house cat that wouldn't talk to you at first and now just won't stay out of your lap," he said.

As the operation unfolded, the analysts passed on leads that enabled the Marines to kill at least 15 insurgents planting bombs.

Lieutenant Christopher, who loves to chat on Facebook with her family in Ohio, was so exhausted from overnight shifts during that period that she skipped Facebook and went right to sleep. And sometimes, she said, she ended up dreaming about what she had just seen in the war.


7) Plumes of Oil Below Surface Raise New Concerns
June 8, 2010

The government and university researchers confirmed Tuesday that plumes of dispersed oil were spreading far below the ocean surface from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising fresh concern about the potential impact of the spill on sea life.

The tests, the first detailed chemical analyses of water from the deep sea, show that some of the most toxic components of the oil are not necessarily rising to the surface where they can evaporate, as would be expected in a shallow oil leak. Instead, they are drifting through deep water in plumes or layers that stretch as far as 50 miles from the leaking well.

As a rule, the toxic compounds are present at exceedingly low concentrations, the tests found, as would be expected given that they are being diluted in an immense volume of seawater.

"It's pretty clear that the oil that has been released is becoming more and more dilute," Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in an interview. "That does not mean it's unimportant - far from it. The total amount of oil out there is likely very large, and we have yet to understand the full impact of all that hydrocarbon on the gulf ecosystem."

BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, continued to insist Wednesday morning on the "Today" show on NBC that no underwater oil plumes in "large concentrations" have been detected from the spill, saying that it "may be down to how you define what a plume is here."

But scientists outside the government noted that the plumes appeared to be so large that organisms might be bathed in them for extended periods, possibly long enough to kill eggs or embryos. They said this possibility added greater urgency to the effort to figure out exactly how sea life was being affected, work that remains in its infancy six weeks after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.

"I'm glad to see the levels are low," said Carys L. Mitchelmore, an aquatic toxicologist at the University of Maryland who was not involved in the research. "But we're talking about a huge Gulf of Mexico here. I want to see evidence that this is one of the main plumes and there's not something way more concentrated somewhere else."

The announcement of test results came as the White House said President Obama would make his fourth trip to the region next week, visiting Mississippi, Alabama and Florida on Monday and Tuesday.

The results on the plumes came from samples taken by researchers at the University of South Florida, in St. Petersburg. NOAA helped finance the research and joined in Tuesday's announcement.

The test results, from samples taken in late May aboard the research vessel Weatherbird II, appeared to confirm information first presented three weeks ago by another group of researchers, who found evidence of large plumes of dispersed oil droplets in the deep ocean.

Those scientists have not yet completed their analysis of water samples, but one of them, Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia, supplied additional information at a news conference on Tuesday, including instrument readings taken on her most recent research cruise.

Those readings suggest that a large plume, probably consisting of hydrocarbons from the leak, stretches through the deep ocean for at least 15 miles west of the gushing oil well, Dr. Joye said. The top of the plume is about 3,600 feet below the sea surface; the plume is three miles wide and as thick as 1,500 feet in spots, she said.

The University of South Florida researchers found an even larger plume stretching northeast of the oil well, with the hydrocarbons separated into two distinct layers in the ocean. One layer is about 1,200 feet below the surface, and the other is 3,000 feet deep, the scientists said.

The government's confirmation of subsea oil plumes is significant in part because BP, the oil company responsible for the leak, had denied that such plumes existed, and NOAA itself had previously been cautious in interpreting the preliminary results from Dr. Joye's group.

"The oil is on the surface," Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said last week. "There aren't any plumes."

Descriptions of the plumes from the two groups of scientists are filling in details of one of the most remarkable findings to come from the disaster: the realization that much of the oil in a deepwater blowout may remain below the surface.

The scientists say the plumes are not bubbles of oil, as many people have imagined them, but consist of highly dispersed or dissolved hydrocarbons. In some spots, enough oil is present to discolor the water, but in most places, water samples come up clear. Yet the dissolved hydrocarbons show up vividly on instruments, and they can be smelled in some samples.

"This so-called invisible oil, which people tend to have a hard time grasping, is detectable clearly using analytical methods," said Ernst Peebles, a University of South Florida oceanographer who helped carry out the research.

Jeffrey Short, a marine scientist with Oceana, an advocacy group, said that even though the concentration of chemicals was low at any one locale, the magnitude of the plumes suggested a need for more research.

"We should, at a bare minimum, keep a much closer eye on how many plumes there are, how big they are, how long they last and what organisms they're affecting," Dr. Short said.

As the government wrestled with the many safety issues raised by the disaster, it imposed a drilling freeze late last month that halted virtually all new oil exploration in the gulf. On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced new standards that will allow resumption of drilling in water less than 500 feet deep.

All wells in water deeper than 500 feet remain under a moratorium for at least the next six months while a presidential panel studies the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion and makes recommendations on whether and how to resume such drilling.

The new rules address some of the problems that investigators believe contributed to the blowout of the BP well, including failure of the blowout preventer and improper design or application of the cement around the well bore.

"Oil and gas from the outer continental shelf remains an important component of our energy security as we transition to the clean-energy economy," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday in a statement, "but we must ensure that offshore drilling is conducted safely and in compliance with the law."

John M. Broder and Henry Fountain contributed reporting.


8) Border Shooting Strains Tensions With Mexico
[Like the Israeli Defense Force, U.S. Border patrol carries out death sentence for rock-throwing]
June 8, 2010

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities expressed fury at the shooting death of a Mexican teenager on Monday night by a Border Patrol agent, while the FBI, which is investigating the death, said the agent had been under attack by rock-throwing migrants attempting to cross into El Paso, Texas.

The government of the Mexican state of Chihuahua condemned the killing of the teenager, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, 15, calling it a blow to all Mexicans and an example of the xenophobia that the anti-immigration law in Arizona has fomented in the United States.

American officials described the shooting as an act of self defense. Several agents were on a bike patrol in the concrete channel alongside the Rio Grande at about 6:30 p.m. Monday when they encountered a group of suspected illegal immigrants entering the United States. After two suspects were arrested, others in the group fled just across the border to Mexico and began throwing rocks at the agents, the FBI said in a statement. One agent fired several shots and hit the victim, who died at the base of the Paso Del Norte international bridge, officials said.

The Border Patrol says it is subjected to hundreds of rock attacks during its patrols and takes them seriously. From October 2007 to the end of May 2008, there were 537 rock-throwing incidents involving agents, officials said. That number dropped to 460 the following year and then rose to 604 incidents in the most recent reporting period, which ended on May 31.

"There's a misperception people have that we're having pebbles thrown at us," said Mark Qualia, a United States Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Washington. "They are stones the size of baseballs in some cases or half a brick. You can't take this lightly."


9) Facing Misconduct Claims, Brooklyn Prosecutor Agrees to Free Man Held 15 Years
June 8, 2010

Facing questions about whether a high-ranking prosecutor's actions during a murder investigation and trial constituted misconduct, the Brooklyn district attorney's office agreed on Tuesday to allow a man imprisoned in that case to have his murder conviction vacated and his record cleared with the assurance that he will not be retried.

The agreement means that the man, Jabbar Collins, who 15 years ago was sentenced to 34 years to life in the murder of a Brooklyn landlord, will be freed later this week - the culmination of years of his own legal efforts to bring light to prosecutorial misconduct that he said deprived him of a fair trial.

The decision also spares officials from the Brooklyn district attorney's office - most notably the hard-charging prosecutor who oversaw the case, Michael F. Vecchione - from being compelled to testify about the allegations of misconduct during a habeas corpus hearing that was set to resume this week.

The deal amounted to a rare and embarrassing admission by the Brooklyn district attorney's office - which had initially insisted that Mr. Collins be retried - that the case had been mishandled.

Judge Dora L. Irizarry, of the United States District Court in Brooklyn, lamented that in agreeing to free Mr. Collins, the district attorney's office had avoided a hearing that would have offered greater transparency into the case's "troubling history."

"It is indeed beyond disappointing, it is really sad that the district attorney's office persists in standing firm and saying that it did nothing wrong here," the judge said. She described the handling of the case by the district attorney's office as "shameful."

The case cast a new, unflattering glare on Mr. Vecchione, who has overseen numerous high-profile cases in Brooklyn and even was one of the authors of a book about his exploits in the "Mafia Cops" case. In that book, "Friends of the Family," he described himself as "a prosecutor with a passion for justice who had spent most of his life trying to make sure bad things happened to bad people."

But he has also been dogged by allegations of impropriety from defense lawyers, and former colleagues who say his eye for the spotlight and willingness to cut corners to win convictions have caused some cases to fall apart, including the high-profile murder trial of Roy Lindley DeVecchio, a former F.B.I. agent.

"Prosecutors are supposed to hit hard, but he went far beyond," said Douglas E. Grover, who was Mr. DeVecchio's lawyer.

From prison, Mr. Collins, 37, had amassed evidence of misconduct by Mr. Vecchione, whom he accused of "playing God" by threatening a witness with physical violence, failing to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, knowingly eliciting inaccurate testimony and making false statements.

Through a spokesman, Mr. Vecchione refused to comment on Tuesday. But in 2006, he offered a sworn affidavit denying any wrongdoing, saying that he held himself and those who worked for him "to a high professional standard." Judge Irizarry described Mr. Vecchione's statements in that affidavit as beyond credulity.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who was in office during Mr. Collins's initial trial, vigorously defended Mr. Vecchione, who he said would not face any investigation or disciplinary action.

"Anyone who knows Mike Vecchione, who has ever seen him in action, knows that he is a very, very principled lawyer," Mr. Hynes said. He also defended the office's handling of the case and said the decision to drop it had nothing to do with the allegations of misconduct but rather the passage of time since the slaying.

Joel B. Rudin, who represented Mr. Collins in the hearing, called Mr. Vecchione's conduct disgraceful. "I was looking forward to confronting him with his affidavit and his statements at the trial and comparing those statements to the truth," he said. "Obviously in the final analysis, the district attorney did not want to expose Mr. Vecchione to cross-examination."

Ellen Yaroshefsky, the director of the Jacob Burns Center for Ethics in the Practice of Law at Cardozo Law School, said the decision to free Mr. Collins without a hearing raised red flags. "It is important that the D.A.'s office examine what went wrong and hold individual prosecutors accountable for any misconduct," she said. "Transparency and accountability are essential."

The chain of events that led to vacating the case against Mr. Collins began last month when, after years defending the handling of the case, the district attorney's office acknowledged that a key witness had briefly recanted his testimony in the presence of a prosecutor before trial, a fact never disclosed to the defense. The office, which said it had just discovered the information, offered to release Mr. Collins if he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, but Mr. Collins declined, saying he was willing to risk retrial to clear his name.

On Tuesday, in a court packed with family members including his three children, Mr. Collins thanked Judge Irizarry "for finally giving me the day in court that I have been deprived of the last 15 years of my life."

Several family members of Abraham Pollack, the Brooklyn landlord and father of nine who was shot and killed in 1994, were also in the courtroom; they said they remained convinced that Mr. Collins was guilty.

While the decision concludes Mr. Collins's long battle for freedom, it remains unclear whether the allegations of misconduct will have any impact on Mr. Vecchione, the chief of the rackets bureau and a 25-year veteran of the district attorney's office.

"Unquestionably, whether you agree with him or not, whether you like him or not, he's an aggressive prosecutor," said Richard E. Mischel, a defense lawyer who faced Mr. Vecchione in the case of the Brooklyn political leader Clarence Norman Jr. "That's not a criticism, it's just an observation."

Bruce Barket, a defense lawyer who pushed successfully to have another man who had been convicted of murder released during a 2003 habeas corpus hearing that featured similar allegations of misconduct, said he believed that Mr. Vecchione had a history of crossing the line in pursuit of convictions.

Mr. Barket said that in his case, he presented evidence that Mr. Vecchione had concealed from the defense the information that a key witness had been arrested on rape charges. Then at the trial, Mr. Vecchione allowed the witness to lie on the stand when he stated that he had never sought or received anything in return for his testimony - when, in fact, the lawyer for the witness said that he had sought a deal.

Immediately after the trial, the witness was allowed to plead guilty to reduced charges that did not include rape.

The cooperation agreement was personally signed by Mr. Vecchione. The agreement was never revealed to the defense in two subsequent trials that he supervised. And Mr. Vecchione also later, in a letter to the Nassau County district attorney's office, denied the existence of the agreement.

The district attorney's office also agreed to settle that case shortly before a ruling in the habeas corpus hearing from Judge Edward R. Korman of United States District Court in Brooklyn, who had expressed skepticism about Mr. Vecchione's testimony. The defendant was immediately released.

"Everyone pushes the envelope to some degree; everyone looks for strategic advantage," Mr. Barket said. "That's fine. But you have to play by the rules. What I've not seen is someone who disregards the rules so flagrantly. He looks at the rules as obstacles."

"I don't understand how he can continue to prosecute criminal cases," he added.

In the murder case vacated on Tuesday, there were serious questions raised about each of the three main witnesses who testified against Mr. Collins at the original trial. One of them, Angel Santos, was the only person to testify in the aborted habeas corpus hearing, before the district attorney agreed to the unconditional release of Mr. Collins.

Speaking reluctantly and at times saying he was unable to answer questions because his memory of the period "was all screwed up" by drugs, Mr. Santos described being coerced by Mr. Vecchione at the initial trial. "I told them I didn't want to get involved, so what they did, they locked me up," he testified. Mr. Vecchione repeatedly threatened to hit him and said, "If you don't testify you're going to be in jail a long time," Mr. Santos said. He said he was held in jail for a week before he agreed to testify and was kept in custody until he testified against Mr. Collins.

In 2006, Mr. Vecchione signed a sworn affidavit stating: "No deals were made with witnesses that were not disclosed by me to the court and the defense. No witness ever recanted a prior statement or grand jury testimony. No witness had to be threatened or forced to testify."

Mr. Rudin, the defense lawyer, declined to say whether Mr. Collins would file a civil suit or any formal complaints relating to the case. "Everything will be studied at the appropriate time. Right now we have to get him home and get him with his family," he said. "But it's not going to end here."


10) Jury seated in Mehserle trial
"The jury includes no African Americans..."
Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

(06-08) 18:55 PDT LOS ANGELES -- A jury of eight women and four men was seated Tuesday in the murder trial of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who fatally shot unarmed train rider Oscar Grant during an arrest at Fruitvale Station in Oakland on New Year's Day 2009.

Opening statements in a courtroom in downtown Los Angeles - where the trial was moved to escape heavy publicity in the Bay Area - are scheduled for Thursday. Today, Judge Robert Perry plans to rule on a final round of legal motions by attorneys in the case.

Six alternate jurors - five women and one man - were selected after a day of questioning by Alameda County prosecutor David Stein and defense attorney Michael Rains. The panel will be partially sequestered, court officials said, taking breaks in isolation but going home each night.

The jury includes no African Americans, disappointing Grant's family and some activists who see the shooting as part of a larger problem of police brutality against young men of color. Grant was black and Mehserle is white.

Grant's uncle, Cephus "Bobby" Johnson, said he would have preferred that some African Americans be included on the panel. But he said he was more concerned about decisions on evidence by the judge, including a ruling that allows the defense to tell jurors that Grant resisted San Leandro police during a 2006 arrest.

"This case is about the evidence presented," Johnson said.

The trial is expected to last about a month and revolve around video footage of the shooting taken by other BART passengers. Mehserle's attorneys say he meant to use a Taser to subdue Grant, but accidentally fired his gun.

Prosecutors call the Taser story a fabrication and say Grant was not a threat when he was shot.

The final legal motions included a bid by Rains to exclude evidence relating to former BART police Officer Anthony Pirone, who detained Grant after a 2 a.m. fight on a train and made the decision to arrest him for allegedly resisting.

Just before Mehserle took Grant to the ground and shot him, video footage shows, Pirone shouted at Grant, "Bitch-ass n-, right? Bitch-ass n-, right?"

Pirone, who is appealing his recent firing from the BART force, was responding to being called the name by Grant, Rains said. He said Mehserle hadn't heard the slur, but that jurors might penalize him for it unfairly if they learn of it.

Stein said Pirone's words were relevant to Mehserle's state of mind and Pirone's credibility as a witness.

"Not only did defendant hear those words, but he reacted to them," Stein wrote. "He reacted by pushing Mr. Grant face-first onto the train platform. After he did so, Officer Pirone then responded to the defendant's action by shouting, 'Yeah!' "

Another dispute involves video footage of the incident that was taken by BART riders. Both sides spliced together images from several cameras into one flowing video, allowing jurors to see what was happening at any given time from multiple viewpoints.

But the footage apparently varies, depending on the source. The prosecution video suggests that Grant had both hands behind his back when Mehserle shot him, while the defense video does not, according to Rains. He is seeking to exclude the prosecution's video as "unreliable."

E-mail Demian Bulwa at


11) Judge blocks nurses' strike at 5 UC hospitals
Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Plans by nearly 11,000 nurses to strike Thursday at five University of California medical centers were put on hold Tuesday when a San Francisco judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the walkout.

Nurses represented by the California Nurses Association planned to join 12,000 Minnesota nurses in the one-day walkout that, even without the California nurses, would still be the largest registered nursing strike in U.S. history. Nurses from both states who are part of a larger union called National Nurses United say staffing issues - not wages - are at the heart of the disputes.

UC officials sought an order to stop the strike, maintaining that the walkout would pose a threat to public safety. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch sided with attorneys representing the university, saying that to defer the issue for two weeks would not cause undue harm to either party.

Busch scheduled a hearing for June 18 on whether an injunction should be granted.

Thursday's strike would have been the first work stoppage by UC nurses since they became unionized in 1984. They had threatened to go on strike in 2005, but they were stopped by a court order.

Labor leaders said they scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the union's response to the ruling, which they expect to announce today.

Non-UC hospitals

Union officials said Tuesday's order did not apply to nurses at the three non-UC hospitals who planned to participate in the strike. Still, labor leaders said they would be evaluating whether to go ahead with Thursday's walkout at those hospitals.

The strike was to take place at five UC medical centers - San Francisco, Davis, Los Angeles, Irvine and San Diego. The non-UC hospitals are San Pedro Hospital, Citrus Valley Medical Center and Marina del Rey Medical Center, all in Los Angeles County.

The strike at 14 Twin Cities hospitals in Minnesota is still scheduled for Thursday. The California nurses decided to strike after the Minnesota nurses set their strike date. UC's attorneys argued that the timing was strategic.

"The California Nurses Association and its national leadership called for this strike as a tactical ploy in a campaign to increase membership rolls by building up staffing levels," said Dwaine Duckett, UC's vice president for human resources, in a statement issued after the ruling. "This ruling is a victory for our dedicated nurses; most importantly, a victory for our patients."

The nurses have accused UC management of failing to uphold California's nurse-to-patient staffing ratio law while nurses are on break or on meal times. They also accuse the university hospitals of failing to properly adjust those ratios for acutely ill patients.

UC officials say they are complying with the law. Both sides have agreed that wages are not a sticking point.
Technical issues

But in Tuesday's court hearing, the arguments centered on the technical contractual elements around whether the nurses had the right to strike at this point in the negotiations.

The nurses' current contract, which expires Sept. 30 and has a "no strike" provision, gives union leaders the right to reopen negotiations on certain key issues, including staffing, and the authority to suspend the no-strike clause.

The California nurses argued they have the right to strike if an agreement can't be reached on the key issues. But UC's attorneys contended that discussion over staffing concerns, which were reopened last fall, ended in December and that negotiations now pertain to the forthcoming contract, making the strike unlawful.

The judge, who received written and oral arguments and held an hourlong question-and-answer session, did not interpret the legality of the strike as part of his decision.

He sided with a decision made last week by the California Public Employment Relations Board, the quasi-judicial agency charged with administering the collective bargaining agreements for the state's public employees, which contended the strike could jeopardize the public's safety.

The nurses have a right to appeal the decision, but they declined Tuesday to discuss their options.

Nurses' strike

What happened Tuesday: A San Francisco Superior Court judge barred 11,000 UC nurses from participating in a one-day strike scheduled for Thursday.

The issues: The nurses say UC has failed to comply with California nurse-to-patient staffing levels during breaks and meal times as well as adjust staffing when patients are acutely ill. The nurses say they have the right to strike, while UC officials argue the strike is unlawful.

What's next: Both sides are scheduled to return to court June 18 for a hearing to determine whether a preliminary injunction is warranted.


12) Efforts to Limit the Flow of Spill News
June 9, 2010

When the operators of Southern Seaplane in Belle Chasse, La., called the local Coast Guard-Federal Aviation Administration command center for permission to fly over restricted airspace in Gulf of Mexico, they made what they thought was a simple and routine request.

A pilot wanted to take a photographer from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans to snap photographs of the oil slicks blackening the water. The response from a BP contractor who answered the phone late last month at the command center was swift and absolute: Permission denied.

"We were questioned extensively. Who was on the aircraft? Who did they work for?" recalled Rhonda Panepinto, who owns Southern Seaplane with her husband, Lyle. "The minute we mentioned media, the answer was: 'Not allowed.' "

Journalists struggling to document the impact of the oil rig explosion have repeatedly found themselves turned away from public areas affected by the spill, and not only by BP and its contractors, but by local law enforcement, the Coast Guard and government officials.

To some critics of the response effort by BP and the government, instances of news media being kept at bay are just another example of a broader problem of officials' filtering what images of the spill the public sees.

Scientists, too, have complained about the trickle of information that has emerged from BP and government sources. Three weeks passed, for instance, from the time the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20 and the first images of oil gushing from an underwater pipe were released by BP.

"I think they've been trying to limit access," said Representative Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who fought BP to release more video from the underwater rovers that have been filming the oil-spewing pipe. "It is a company that was not used to transparency. It was not used to having public scrutiny of what it did."

Officials at BP and the government entities coordinating the response said instances of denying news media access have been anomalies, and they pointed out that the company and the government have gone to great lengths to accommodate the hundreds of journalists who have traveled to the gulf to cover the story. The F.A.A., responding to criticism following the incident with Southern Seaplane, has revised its flight restrictions over the gulf to allow for news media flights on a case-by-case basis.

"Our general approach throughout this response, which is controlled by the Unified Command and is the largest ever to an oil spill," said David H. Nicholas, a BP spokesman, "has been to allow as much access as possible to media and other parties without compromising the work we are engaged on or the safety of those to whom we give access."

Anomalies or not, reporters and photographers continue to be blocked from covering aspects of the spill.

Last week, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, tried to bring a small group of journalists with him on a trip he was taking through the gulf on a Coast Guard vessel. Mr. Nelson's office said the Coast Guard agreed to accommodate the reporters and camera operators. But at about 10 p.m. on the evening before the trip, someone from the Department of Homeland Security's legislative affairs office called the senator's office to tell them that no journalists would be allowed.

"They said it was the Department of Homeland Security's response-wide policy not to allow elected officials and media on the same 'federal asset,' " said Bryan Gulley, a spokesman for the senator. "No further elaboration" was given, Mr. Gulley added.

Mr. Nelson has asked the Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, for an official explanation, the senator's office said.

Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said that about a week into the cleanup response, the Coast Guard started enforcing a policy that prohibits news media from accompanying candidates for public office on visits to government facilities, "to help manage the large number of requests for media embeds and visits by elected officials."

In a separate incident last week, a reporter and photographer from The Daily News of New York were told by a BP contractor they could not access a public beach on Grand Isle, La., one of the areas most heavily affected by the oil spill. The contractor summoned a local sheriff, who then told the reporter, Matthew Lysiak, that news media had to fill out paperwork and then be escorted by a BP official to get access to the beach.

BP did not respond to requests for comment about the incident.

"For the police to tell me I needed to sign paperwork with BP to go to a public beach?" Mr. Lysiak said. "It's just irrational."

In the first few weeks after the oil rig explosion, BP kept a tight lid on images of the oil leaking into the gulf. Even when it released the first video of the spewing oil on May 12, it provided only a 30-second clip. The most detailed images did not become public until two weeks ago when BP gave members of Congress access to internal video feeds from its underwater rovers. Without BP's permission, some members of Congress displayed the video for news networks like CNN, which carried them live.

For journalists on the ground, particularly photographers who hire their own planes, one of the major sources of frustration has been the flight restrictions over the water, where access is off limits in a vast area from the Louisiana bayous to Pensacola, Fla. Each time they fly in the area, they have to be granted permission from the F.A.A.

"Although there's a tremendous amount of oil, finding out exactly where it's washing ashore or where booming is going on is very difficult," said John McCusker, a photographer with The Times-Picayune. "At 3,000 feet you're shooting through clouds, and it's difficult to tell the difference between an oil slick and a shadow from a cloud."

A spokeswoman for the agency, Laura J. Brown, said the flight restrictions are necessary to prevent civilian air traffic from interfering with aircraft assisting the response effort.

Ms. Brown also said the Coast Guard-F.A.A. command center that turned away Southern Seaplane was enforcing the essential-flights-only policy in place at the time; and she said the BP contractor who answered the phone was there because the F.A.A. operations center is in one of BP's buildings.

"That person was not making decisions about whether aircraft are allowed to enter the airspace," Ms. Brown said.

But the incident with Southern Seaplane is not the only example of journalists being told they cannot go somewhere simply because they are journalists. CBS News reported last month that one of its news crews was threatened with arrest for trying to film a public beach where oil had washed ashore. The Coast Guard said later that it was disappointed to learn of the incident.

Media access in disaster situations is always an issue. But the situation in the gulf is especially nettlesome because journalists have to depend on the government and BP to gain access to so much of the affected area.

Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor at the Associated Press, likened the situation to reporters being embedded with the military in Afghanistan. "There is a continued effort to keep control over the access," Mr. Oreskes said. "And even in places where the government is cooperating with us to provide access, it's still a problem because it's still access obtained through the government."


13) Chilling Images of Drilling's Perils, Met by Numbed Eyes
"At this point the voice of reason is supposed to add, Yes. But. We need the energy from somewhere. What's the least bad alternative: Offshore or Middle Eastern oil? Gas? Nuclear? Coal? A conventional answer is gas. Only you look at those sickening images from the gulf and the shimmering green canvas of hills, lakes and dairy farms upstate and you add another "Yes. But." If there could ever be an event that would set our hair on fire, send us running a million miles an hour toward full-bore efforts at conservation and alternative energy, what else could it be if not this one?"
[Check out the very short video at this site:
It will shock and amaze you!]
June 9, 2010

The occasion was the screening of "Gasland," a polemical and quite frightening documentary on the impact of the new generation of gas drilling coming to upstate New York. But, given the news, there was also plenty of talk about that huge well explosion everyone had heard about.

No, not that one far away in the Gulf of Mexico. Closer to home was the natural gas blowout last week in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania that shot gas and water polluted with drilling fluids as high as 75 feet into the air until it was finally shut down 16 hours later.

As our numbed eyes witness every night on the news, stuff happens, particularly when it comes to extracting hydrocarbons. So here in the far reaches of the Catskills the issues in the film weren't abstract, and the gulf wasn't so far away. They were the stuff of daily politics, pitting neighbor against neighbor, revolving around two questions: Is the risk worth the reward? What's the alternative?

For this crowd, overwhelmingly antidrilling, the first answer was easy. The second, well, we're all waiting.

New York announced in April that it would impose stricter regulations on gas drilling in the watershed that supplies drinking water to 8.2 million people in New York City and about 1 million people in Westchester, Putnam and other nearby counties. Similar standards would be placed on the watershed serving about 200,000 people in Syracuse and elsewhere. That accounts for less than 10 percent of the New York portion of the Marcellus Shale, a giant gas deposit that extends through several states, chiefly New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

"Gasland" is the product of Josh Fox, a 37-year-old theater director who lives over the border in Milanville, Pa. In 2008, he received a leasing offer from a gas company. He set out to find the effects of gas drilling and captured harrowing footage from places like Dimock, Pa.; Pavillion, Wyo.; and Weld County, Colo., documenting polluted air, tap water that catches fire, tainted well water and families claiming to be sickened by drilling on their property. The film won the special jury prize for documentaries at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and will air on HBO on June 21.

It's one-sided, flawed and personal in the Michael Moore mode, and it jibes completely with the stories told by people from out west who offered cautionary tales at an information session at the same theater two years earlier, when the leasing frenzy upstate was just beginning.

Many people have signed leases hoping to get rich. Not many of them were at the screening. Most of those on hand were more concerned with the environmental risks. Gas is not oil. The Catskills region is not the gulf. But that endless underwater gusher, the oil-soaked pelicans in full cry, seemed just outside the door.

"What they have in common is that they're working on the hairy edge of the possible," said Laurie Spaeth of the Chenango Delaware Otsego Gas Drilling Opposition Group, whose Web site,, tracks drilling issues. "As impressive as the technology is, there are going to be accidents. What they're doing here is not quite as extreme as what they were doing in the gulf, but it clearly has the same potential for devastation."

Apparently others agree. The advocacy group American Rivers put the Upper Delaware River at the top of its annual list of the nation's 10 most endangered rivers, citing gas exploration and the millions of gallons of water used in the hydraulic fracturing of each well. Thousands of wells are projected to be drilled in New York, and a drilling boom is well under way in Pennsylvania.

At this point the voice of reason is supposed to add, Yes. But. We need the energy from somewhere. What's the least bad alternative: Offshore or Middle Eastern oil? Gas? Nuclear? Coal? A conventional answer is gas. Only you look at those sickening images from the gulf and the shimmering green canvas of hills, lakes and dairy farms upstate and you add another "Yes. But." If there could ever be an event that would set our hair on fire, send us running a million miles an hour toward full-bore efforts at conservation and alternative energy, what else could it be if not this one?

Or maybe there's no such thing. We look at the images from the gulf, feel ill, click to another channel. Leno and Letterman tell oil-spill jokes. Half comatose, half engaged, we gravitate toward whatever silos make us happy. Maybe New York has gotten ahead of the curve on regulation. Maybe the optimists hope it all works out - some get rich, some get run over, life goes on.



14) [WAT] PRESS RELEASE: Trial for Anti-Torture Activists Begins Monday (6/14), GITMO Still Open Under Obama
Twenty-Seven to Go on Trial for Protesting the Obama Administration's
Failure to Close Guantanamo, Plan for Indefinite Detention, and
Refusal to Prosecute Torture
For Immediate Release, June 10, 2010
Contact: Jeremy Varon: M: 732-979-3119
Helen Schietinger: M: 202-344-5762

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Monday, June 14 twenty-seven will face trial
stemming from arrests at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2010 - the
date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the
Guantanamo detention camp. The human rights activists will hold a
press conference outside the courthouse defending their protest,
condemning the Obama administration's continuation of Bush policies,
and explaining their use in court of the "necessity defense." The
press conference will be held Monday, June 14th at 8:30 am, across
from the Federal District Courthouse (333 Constitution Avenue, NW).

On January 21, twenty-seven people dressed as Guantanamo prisoners
were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading
"Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." Inside the Capitol
Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state,
fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for
three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006. Initially reported as
suicides, the deaths may have been - as recent evidence suggests - the
result of the men being tortured to death (see Scott Horton, "Murders
at Guantanamo, March 2010, Harpers).

"The continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo is
unacceptable," Matthew W. Daloisio of Witness Against Torture. "If
Guantanamo was a foreign policy liability and stain on the rule of law
on day one of the Obama presidency, it surely is eighteen months

"The deaths at Guantanamo show how barbaric US policies have been,"
says Helen Schietinger, a defendant in the trial. "We are still
waiting for accountability for those who designed and carried out
torture policies under President Bush. Obama can't restore the rule
of law if he doesn't enforce the law."

The human rights activists plan to mount a "necessity defense" before
Judge Russell Canan. "We will be arguing that we broke the law only
after exhausting all legal means of opposing a much larger crime-the
indefinite detention, mistreatment, and torture of men at Guantanamo
and other US prisons," says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois,
another the defendants.

The January protests were the culmination of a twelve-day fast for
justice and an end to torture organized by Witness Against Torture in
Washington, DC. More than 100 people participated in the fast and
daily actions throughout the nation's Capital.

Witness Against Torture formed in December 2005 when twenty-five
activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn
torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education,
community outreach, and non-violent civil disobedience. To learn more

Frida Berrigan


15) New Estimates Double Rate of Oil That Flowed Into Gulf
"The new estimate is based on information that was gathered before BP cut a pipe called a riser on the ocean floor last week to install a new capture device, an operation that some scientists have said may have sharply increased the rate of flow. The government panel, called the Flow Rate Technical Group, is preparing yet another estimate that will cover the period after the riser was cut."
June 10, 2010

A government panel on Thursday essentially doubled its estimate of how much oil has been spewing from the out-of-control BP well, with the new calculation suggesting that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days.

The new estimate is 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day. That range, still preliminary, is far above the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.

These new calculations came as the public wrangling between BP and the White House was reaching new heights, with President Obama asking for a meeting with BP executives next week and his Congressional allies intensifying their pressure on the oil giant to withhold dividend payments to shareholders until it makes clear it can and will pay all its obligations from the spill.

The higher estimates will affect not only assessments of how much environmental damage the spill has done but also how much BP might eventually pay to clean up the mess - and it will most likely increase suspicion among skeptics about how honest and forthcoming the oil company has been throughout the catastrophe.

The new estimate is based on information that was gathered before BP cut a pipe called a riser on the ocean floor last week to install a new capture device, an operation that some scientists have said may have sharply increased the rate of flow. The government panel, called the Flow Rate Technical Group, is preparing yet another estimate that will cover the period after the riser was cut.

The new estimate appears to be a far better match than earlier ones for the reality that Americans can see every day on their televisions. Even though the new capture device is funneling 15,000 barrels of oil a day to a ship at the surface, a robust flow of oil is still gushing from the well a mile beneath the waves.

The question of how much oil is pouring into the gulf has been a nagging one for weeks, especially since early estimates from BP and the government proved woefully low. And the new estimates come as the company, after weeks of failed efforts, is enjoying its first substantial success at preventing a significant volume of oil from entering the gulf.

The new numbers are certain to ratchet up the already intense political pressure on BP.

For days Mr. Obama and his advisers have fended off questions about why he has not spoken with the chief executive of BP, Tony Hayward. The president's commander for the spill response, Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, wrote on Thursday to the chairman of the BP board, Carl-Henric Svanberg, requesting that he and "any appropriate officials from BP" meet with administration officials next Wednesday. Mr. Obama will participate in part of the meeting, he wrote.

Administration officials suggested that they had no immediate plans to directly block BP from paying the dividend, even as the White House and its allies made clear that they would pressure the company to ensure that it made paying spill-related claims its top financial priority. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, told reporters that BP should withhold dividends to shareholders until it paid small-business owners along the gulf for their loss claims. Representative Edward J. Markey, who is chairman of one committee investigating the spill, suggested that the government would take action to block the payments if necessary.

"This company, I think, will stay solvent," said Mr. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts. "And we're going to make sure that the shareholders wait until the victims are paid first."

Andrew Gowers, a BP spokesman, said "there is no change in the position" of retaining the dividend. "We intend to meet all our obligations to all our stakeholders," he said. "We are a very financially strong company."

In coming weeks, BP hopes to start capturing the vast bulk of the oil emerging from the well. The new high estimate of 30,000 barrels, however, would exceed BP's current processing capacity, which is expected to reach 25,000 barrels a day by next week. The company plans to move an additional ship into position by early July to improve its ability to manage the flow.

Mr. Gowers said that the flow-rate group was doing "appropriate" work and that the new estimate would not affect the company's planned containment efforts.

Mr. Gowers noted that BP had supplied the information that allowed the technical group to make its calculation. "It's their job to produce the estimate, and we have nothing to add," he said.

As investors have fled BP stock over uncertainties about the company's future and its ability to pay what it will end up owing, BP has lost nearly half its market capitalization since April, and its bonds are now trading at junk levels.

Credit Suisse estimates the cleanup costs could end up at $15 billion to $23 billion, plus an additional $14 billion of claims. But analysts make much of BP's financial flexibility: it had net profit of $17 billion last year alone.

Mr. Gowers said the company did not have an estimate of what its potential liability costs would be. But he said that as of Thursday morning, the company had already spent $1.43 billion, including claims payments, the costs of trying to plug and cap the leak, and payments of block grants to gulf states.

On the new estimates of the flow rate, Marcia McNutt, director of the United States Geological Survey and chairwoman of the technical panel, said the new figures were based on a more detailed analysis of information like video of the gushing well. The new range was also based on the first direct measurement of the flow rate, using sonar equipment lowered to the ocean floor.

Two scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Richard Camilli and Andy Bowen, made that measurement on May 31, Mr. Bowen said.

As with the government's previous estimate, Dr. McNutt said subgroups of the panel applied various analytical techniques to come up with estimates. The best overlap among the techniques was the range of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels a day, she said, and that became the new official estimate.

Dr. McNutt added, however, that the range of estimates the technical panel considered plausible was actually wider, more like 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day.

A barrel is 42 gallons, so 30,000 barrels would equate to nearly 1.3 million gallons a day. The Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 is estimated to have spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska.

Ira Leifer, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a member of the flow-rate group, said the new figures confirmed a suspicion he had developed, based on looking at satellite data, that the rate of flow for the well was increasing even before BP cut the riser pipe.

"The situation is growing worse," Dr. Leifer said.

Jackie Calmes contributed reporting from Washington, and Graham Bowley and Liz Robbins from New York.


16) Drug Maker Seen as Uncooperative on Inquiry
June 10, 2010

A Congressional investigation into a recent recall of children's Tylenol and other pediatric medicines has been stymied by the manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, investigators say, raising the prospect that new measures - like issuing of subpoenas to compel cooperation - could be invoked.

The unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes the over-the-counter drugs, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, is already under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration for a pattern of violations in manufacturing and quality control practices that have led to a number of recent recalls. The agency said last month that it was considering criminal penalties or other actions against McNeil.

Now Representative Edolphus Towns, a New York Democrat who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Johnson & Johnson had used delaying tactics in its dealings with the committee and in some instances had provided misinformation - accusations the company denies.

Such conduct has cast Johnson & Johnson in an unusually negative light, Mr. Towns said, and might compel the committee to take more aggressive action as it looks into drug quality and safety issues raised by the recall. Other large corporations investigated recently by the committee, including Bank of America and the insurance giant A.I.G., were more forthcoming, Mr. Towns said.

"But we are not getting the kind of information and cooperation from Johnson that I would like," Mr. Towns said in a telephone interview.

A spokeswoman for McNeil offered a starkly different view of the company's dealings with the committee. The spokeswoman, Bonnie Jacobs, said Thursday that the company had provided the committee with about 20,000 pages of documents, made its executives available for interviews and answered queries in a timely manner.

"We have been very cooperative with the committee," Ms. Jacobs said.

Mr. Towns, however, said he was particularly troubled by apparent discrepancies in Johnson & Johnson's accounts of its activities. The company, he said, told members of his staff that the recall involved six million bottles of children's medicines even as it informed the F.D.A. that the recall involved more than 136 million bottles.

"It means that we didn't get a straight story from Johnson & Johnson," Mr. Towns said. "We need to know where the spin is and where the truth begins."

But Ms. Jacobs said there was a simple explanation: the numbers represented answers to two different questions from government officials. There were about six million bottles of the products in stores at the time of the recall, she said, and an estimated 136 million bottles in the hands of consumers.

The House committee opened its investigation in early May shortly after McNeil announced a voluntary recall of liquid pediatric Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and Zyrtec. The products, made at a company plant in Fort Washington, Pa., may have included metal particles, or too much of the active drug ingredient, or inactive ingredients that did not meet testing standards, the F.D.A. said.

McNeil said that it had rejected defective products before they reached stores and had not received reports of health problems caused by issues related to the recall. But consumers should stop using the products, the company said, even though the possibility of serious medical harm was remote.

On May 27, the committee held a public hearing, with testimony from an F.D.A. official and an executive from Johnson & Johnson, intended to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the large recall.

But, after the hearing raised new questions for legislators, the committee widened its investigation.

Mr. Towns said that the House committee was now examining a new recall of children's medicines that were made for another company by the McNeil plant involved in the Tylenol recall.

The committee has also opened an investigation into an incident last year in which McNeil hired private contractors to purchase certain defective Motrin products from stores, an event which Mr. Towns has described as a "phantom recall." After F.D.A. officials inquired about the contractors' activities, McNeil instituted an official recall.

"It was troubling to us," Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the agency's principal deputy commissioner said during the Congressional hearing. "When F.D.A. found out about this, we insisted that an actual recall occur."

Ms. Jacobs of McNeil said that the company had contacted the F.D.A. after it discovered that two lots of Motrin did not dissolve properly. The company, she said, informed the agency that it planned to remove the products from stores and regularly gave the agency progress reports.

The escalating Congressional investigation, along with Mr. Towns's complaints about stalling and discrepancies from Johnson & Johnson, has the potential to fuel the F.D.A.'s own inquiry. An agency official said during the hearing that the F.D.A. had referred the McNeil case to its office of criminal investigation, the agency's law enforcement arm, which works with the Justice Department to prosecute companies accused of violating the laws governing drug manufacturing and marketing.

On Thursday, an F.D.A. spokeswoman said that the agency did not comment once it had referred a case for criminal investigation.

In a statement in late May on a company blog, McNeil said that it was undertaking comprehensive improvements in manufacturing and quality control systems.

But Mr. Towns said he found some recent actions by company managers troubling.

In particular, he faulted a company executive for implying during her sworn testimony that the "phantom recall" incident - in which contractors bought defective Motrin products off store shelves - was a limited and transparent transaction. Documents later provided by the company, he said, suggested more covert and larger-scale activity.

One purchase order among the evidence indicated that McNeil had hired a contractor in 2009 to visit 5,000 stores, or about 100 stores per state, for a fee of $487,500. A document from another contractor, titled "Motrin Purchase Project (June 12, 2009)," instructed employees buying Motrin to "simply 'act' like a regular customer" and make "no mention of this being a recall."

Mr. Towns said he was "troubled by the information that was given to us at the hearing versus what we are actually seeing now in the documents."

But Ms. Jacobs of McNeil said that the documents fully supported the executive's testimony. The kind of Motrin was a small-volume product for McNeil, she said, and remained on sale mainly at convenience stores and gas stations. The "Motrin Purchase Project" document was created without McNeil's knowledge by a subcontractor, she said.

But Mr. Towns cited further issues. During an interview in late May, Peter Luther, the president of McNeil, told House investigators that the Fort Washington plant involved in the Tylenol recall did not make products for other companies, Mr. Towns said.

Four days later, Blacksmith Brands, which markets PediaCare children's medicines, announced its own voluntary recall "as a precautionary step" - because certain of its cough and cold products had been made at the same McNeil plant.

Ms. Jacobs said that McNeil had sold the PediaCare brand to Blacksmith last fall. The McNeil plant, she said, was making the PediaCare products on a temporary basis and had not fully transferred manufacturing to Blacksmith.

But Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from Washington, who sits on the House oversight committee, said the company's conduct seemed to her to demonstrate a continuing lack of transparency.

"The only way for Johnson & Johnson to reclaim any measure of credibility," Ms. Norton said, "is to let it all out now."


17) A Labor Movement Stirs in China
June 10, 2010

ZHONGSHAN, China - Striking workers at a Honda auto parts plant here are demanding the right to form their own labor union, something officially forbidden in China, and held a protest march Friday morning.

Meanwhile, other scattered strikes have begun to ripple into Chinese provinces previously untouched by the labor unrest.

A near doubling of wages is the primary goal of the approximately 1,700 Honda workers on strike here in this southeastern China city, at the third Honda auto parts factory to face a work stoppage in the last two weeks.

A chanting but nonviolent crowd of workers gathered outside the factory gates on Friday morning and held a short protest march before dissolving into a large group of milling young workers who filled the two-lane road for more than a block outside the factory.

They were met by black-clad police with helmets, face masks and small round riot shields. But the workers showed no signs of being intimidated. The police marched off at midmorning, leaving the workers to block the road into the small industrial park next to a eucalyptus-lined muddy canal that runs past the factory.

The workers dispersed about an hour after the police left and remained on strike.

Management helped defuse the march by distributing a flier that essentially offered 50 renminbi, or about $7.30, for each of the eight days that the factory was closed beginning in late May as part of a nationwide shutdown of Honda manufacturing set off by a transmission factory strike. Management previously wanted to treat the shutdown as unpaid leave, workers said.

Only 50 or so striking workers showed up outside the factory after lunch on Friday. Managers distributed a new flier urging them to return to work in the afternoon and saying that all would be forgiven if they did.

But the flier contained no new offer on wages, and there was no sign that any workers were going back into the factory. One worker said that the newly chosen factory council was not holding any negotiations because it could be physically dangerous for all of the representatives to gather in one place with management and the authorities.

The worker, an activist in the labor unrest here, said that the strikers were waiting for a genuinely new offer from management before holding any more talks.

This latest strike, which started Wednesday morning, has taken on political dimensions.

The strikers here have developed a sophisticated, democratic organization, in effect electing shop stewards to represent them in collective bargaining with management. They are also demanding the right to form a trade union separate from the government-controlled national federation of trade unions, which has long focused on maintaining labor peace for foreign investors.

"The trade union is not representing our views; we want our own union that will represent us," said a striking worker, who insisted on anonymity for fear of retaliation by government authorities or the company.

Geoffrey Crothall, the spokesman for China Labour Bulletin, a labor advocacy group based in Hong Kong that seeks independent labor unions and collective bargaining in mainland China, expressed surprise when told how the Honda workers here in Zhongshan had organized themselves. "It does reflect a new level of organization and sophistication" in Chinese labor relations, he said.

A Honda spokesman declined to comment on the details of the strike. The Chinese government has been relatively lenient in allowing coverage of the labor unrest because Honda is a Japanese company, and some anti-Japanese sentiment lingers in China as a legacy of World War II.

Despite unusual forbearance in allowing the various strikes so far, the Chinese government has shown no interest in tolerating unions with full legal independence from the national union.

Dozens of workers gathered in clumps shortly before sunset on Thursday in front of the sprawling parts factory and outspokenly criticized local authorities for seeming to side with the company.

The workers said that large numbers of police officers had been positioned in the factory on Wednesday and Thursday in an attempt to intimidate them. The two other Honda parts factories shut down by walkouts in recent weeks have reopened after workers were promised large pay increases.

The Chinese government has not allowed unions with full legal independence from the national, state-controlled union. But the government has occasionally finessed the issue by letting workers choose their factories' representatives of the national union, or by allowing the creation of "employee welfare committees" in parallel with the official local units, said Mary E. Gallagher, a China labor specialist at the University of Michigan.

But these exceptions have tended to be in less prominent industries like shoe and garment manufacturing, and not in bastions of heavy industry like automaking.

Workers here were not specific Thursday about what would qualify as having their own union. They are mostly in their early 20s, more than half are women. Their education levels are low. Although several said they had high school degrees, Honda requires only junior high school educations.

The workers say they want to be paid as much as workers at the first Honda factory recently to go on strike, a high-tech transmission factory in Foshan where the workers are almost entirely young men with a couple of years of vocational school training in addition to high school degrees.

Besides the Honda strike here, there were new reports Thursday of strikes at Japanese- and Taiwanese-owned factories in at least five other cities. Four of the cities are outside the heavily industrial Guangdong Province, where all three Honda auto parts strikes have taken place.

But the strikes involving the other employers appeared to have ended quickly as managers, faced with an acute labor shortage, sought to address workers' demands. Honda has settled the strikes at its other two factories as well.

Chinese-owned companies tend not to disclose when strikes have occurred, and it is not clear how many strikes over all have taken place in recent days.

The strike here has stopped work at a two-story factory that makes rear and side mirrors, door locks and a range of other auto parts for Honda assembly plants over the world. The workers here say that employees in each department of the factory held a meeting, discussed who would be their most persuasive representative and then selected that person to represent them on a factorywide council of about 20 workers that has held negotiations with management.

Municipal officials and representatives of the government-authorized labor union have also attended meetings of the workers' council with management, workers said.

In a flier that workers said had been distributed to them by managers on Thursday morning, the factory's management said it was beyond their authority to recognize a union. The management asked workers to submit a detailed application for a separate trade union to a government labor board by June 19, and asked that the workers return to their jobs in the meantime.

The workers voiced skepticism that the company would meet their demands, mainly an 89 percent increase in their pay. It is currently 900 renminbi a month, or $132, for a 42-hour week. An 89 percent increase would be about 800 more renminbi a month, or a raise of about $117. Many workers in Guangdong province already earn considerably more than the minimum wage because of an acute labor shortage even before the strike started.

The minimum wage varies from city to city and changes frequently. It is currently 900 renminbi in Zhongshan, according to workers. Workers said that they had read news reports on the Internet that Honda had already granted raises of 500 renminbi a month, or $73, in settling other strikes. Honda has not confirmed the raises, indicating only that they were large in percentage terms.

Workers at the factory here said that their jobs required them to stand for eight hours a day at their posts, and that pregnant women were allowed to sit only in their last trimester. Workers also complained that they were not allowed to speak while working - a common requirement in Chinese factories - and that they had to obtain passes before going to the bathroom. They said they were criticized if managers thought they took too long getting a drink of water.

A municipal official standing with a group of private security guards outside the factory said that there was no evidence that Honda had broken any employment laws. The workers "just want more money, they're inspired by the other Honda strikes," said the official, who insisted on anonymity.

The strike began Wednesday morning after a woman employee showed up with her identity card improperly attached to her shirt and was denied entry by a security guard. The woman criticized the guard, who responded by shoving her to the ground, the workers said.

Workers said that the factory's management had offered an increase of 100 renminbi a month in workers' allowance for food and housing. The allowance is currently 300 renminbi a month, or $44.

Chen Xiaoduan in Shanghai contributed research.


18) Students to Protest Possible End of Free Rides
June 10, 2010

Students are planning to walk out of 23 high schools to demonstrate outside City Hall against the threatened end of free bus and subway rides to and from school, protest organizers said Thursday.

The protest planned for Friday will, coincidentally, occur just one day after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced an initiative to combat chronic truancy.

While the two events are not related, the organizers say they are willing to risk punishment to demonstrate. At least two of them said the time of the walkout - noon - was chosen partly because the police generally stopped picking up truants at that hour.

Organizers said they expected more than 2,000 students to take part, but how many will actually come to City Hall was unclear. It is expected to be a day of light attendance anyway, with the looming end of the school year and an annual class-skipping tradition known as senior cut day, which different schools observe on different days. And since there was no school on Thursday due to a professional development day for teachers, the possibility of a four-day weekend may be too hard for some students to resist.

"Friday is a regular school day," said Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the city's Education Department. "We expect students to be in school during school hours."

The City Hall action is being organized by the Urban Youth Collaborative, an umbrella group of youth organizations.

Caitlin Ervin, a coordinator with the group, said the Police Department and the Parks Department had issued permits for the group's events, which include a rally outside City Hall at 1 p.m., a march across the Brooklyn Bridge and a second rally outside the New York City Transit headquarters, on Jay Street. But she said the group did not tell the police that most participants would be students skipping class.

Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department, said the police had issued a permit for approximately 150 people to gather in Brooklyn and walk across the bridge to Manhattan at 4:30 p.m., not during school hours. The Parks Department said it had issued a permit for the City Hall Park rally.

Mr. Browne would not comment on whether the police planned any action against the protest. "The Police Department addresses truancy on an ongoing basis but does not disclose enforcement tactics for any given day," he said.

Organizers said lawyers and parents would accompany the students, partly to help in case of a crackdown.

Students have been holding demonstrations supporting the long-standing practice of providing city students with free bus and subway rides since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed phasing them out several months ago, citing diminished contributions from the city and the state. The authority's board has not yet authorized ending the free rides.

Separately, the mayor announced a new task force on Thursday to address chronic absenteeism and truants, defined as students who miss school for 20 days or more in a year. Because the initiative is not directed toward students who skip one day, Jason Post, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, said the walkout did not directly relate to the new effort.

At Francis Lewis High School in Queens, one of the 23 schools participating, Khaair Morrison, 16, said he was having some trouble organizing students for the walkout because so many had indicated that they were not planning to be in school that day anyway. Friday is the school's unofficial, and unsanctioned, senior cut day, as well as the day after the senior prom. On top of everything else, it is also the day when the World Cup, a matter of obsession for some students, begins.

Of the school's 4,400 students, about 50 have told Khaair they will attend the City Hall rally. "We are trying to confirm with every student so that they go where they say they are going to go," he said.


19) China Inflation Rises to a 19-Month High
June 11, 2010

Fresh data from China on Friday further cemented the view that the country's giant economy continued to power ahead in May - though a marked rise in inflation also raised the pressure on Beijing to step up efforts to damp the booming pace of growth.

Friday's figures, part of a monthly flood of statistics from Beijing, showed consumer prices rose at their fastest rate in 19 months, at a pace of 3.1 percent from a year earlier. Across China, workers are beginning to strike for higher wages, which could cause inflation to rise further.

Industrial production and retail sales also powered along forcefully, figures showed Friday, while data out on Thursday revealed imports and exports both topped analyst expectations by a wide margin. Property prices continued to soar in May.

The strong economic data come despite debt concerns and fiscal austerity measures across Europe, China's biggest trading partner.

Combined, the figures on Thursday and Friday raised speculation among analysts that the Chinese authorities will have to intensify their efforts to tame the pace of growth - and the unwanted side-effect of inflation.

Tools at China's disposal include a gradual rise in interest rates and an appreciation for the renminbi, which has been effectively tied to the U.S. dollar since late 2008, at what many observes say is an artificially weak level to help Chinese exporters compete internationally.

The timing of any such policy moves remains unclear, and the Chinese statistics office on Friday stressed that it believed inflation would wane again after its rise above the 3 percent mark in May.

Economists at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a note to investors Friday that recent strikes "suggest that wage hikes will spread across industrial sectors, placing pressures on firms to raise prices on their final products" and that "inflation is far from its peak."

It is time for the Chinese central bank "to switch its policy priority from controlling credit to raising interest rates in order to counter the risk of run-away inflation," the bank said in its note.

The currency issue has caused considerable tensions with Washington, and on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, said that a change of China's exchange rate policy was "critically important" to the U.S. and global economies.

Chinese authorities may decide to allow the renminbi to fluctuate against the dollar in a tight trading band - rather than announce a one-off, revaluation against the U.S. currency, many observers believe.

Economists remain divided as to when China might move on interest rates, though many project a small increase in the course of the next few months.

A rise in the key lending rates could help damp soaring property prices, which have been a major thorn the side for Beijing amid concerns that a bubble is building, and that many ordinary citizens are being crowded out of the market.

So far, Beijing has avoided outright rate increases, preferring instead to instruct state-owned banks to scale back their lending - a milder tool that also has the effect of suppressing growth.

The global stock markets, meanwhile, have been heartened by the signs of China's economic resilience.

On Thursday, Wall Street rallied nearly 3 percent, in part because of the unexpectedly strong export data.

The markets in Asia followed suit on Friday. The Nikkei 225 index in Japan jumped 2 percent by lunchtime.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong, the Taiex in Taiwan and the S&P/ASX 200 were all up about 1.3 percent by late morning. The Straits Times in Singapore rose 0.4 percent. And the Shanghai composite, the main index for mainland China, gained 0.3 percent.


20) A Worthy Act of Civil Disobedience
By James Hunter
Bradley Manning, 22, an Army intelligence analyst has been arrested for leaking the profoundly disturbing video of a helicopter attack on a group of people in Iraq in 2007.
June 12, 2010

Some weeks ago I watched that video. If you go here [] and scroll down a little ways you will see it. It is called "Collateral Murder." I should warn you, it is not an easy video to watch. I had trouble believing I was seeing a real video recording of about a dozen people being murdered. I was horrified. Then I felt rage and confusion. I found myself screaming at the men doing the killing. I was appalled at their absolute indifference to human life to the act of killing. When it finished (it took about 17 minutes) I was left with a profound feeling of despair. I felt that I did not want to live in a place where this kind of thing can happen not just occasionally but more or less daily. Yet there is no place to move to unless I just want to kill myself. Which I don't, really. I suspect that I am not alone in having this kind of emotional reaction.

What I saw on the video was worse than earthquakes or tornadoes. Or disease. They cause suffering, but there is something especially horrifying about human beings doing this to other human beings. It is even worse when the killing is not an act of rage but something that is done in a methodical and dispassionate manner. When it is done even with joy with enthusiasm. "Pick up that weapon" one of the gunners pleaded. He was speaking to a wounded man who, of course, could not hear him. The soldier wanted the excuse he needed to kill again. "Good shooting" another said, after one of his buddies killed several people. "Thanks" the gunner replied. It was as though they were at a fair trying to win some cheap prize. They were enjoying it.

As I tried to make some sense of what I had seen I ran into an interesting commentary by a soldier who had seen action in Iraq. It was on here []

The observations of the soldier, Josh Stieber, are summed up by the OpEd reporter as follows:

"Josh told me that the horror and disgust over the words and behaviors of the soldiers involved in killing the Reuters photographer are misplaced because they were doing what the system wanted them to do. He suggests that our challenge is to not question the men but, rather, the system and policies that created them. He's suggesting that the self-righteous indignation currently being aimed at the soldiers who did the shooting should be aimed at the leaders, the policies and values that the US has established for training soldiers."

The point is well taken. Perhaps we should not be so self-righteous about what we are seeing, as horrible as it is. This is what war is. This is the kind of behavior and people that war inevitably creates. It is toward the politicians who lead us into wars that we should direct our indignation.


Its an interesting question. Who is responsible? The soldiers themselves? Politicians? The American people? Human nature? The wealthy people behind the military industrial complex? It would seem that we all share responsibility for this kind of thing. Perhaps graduations of guilt are irrelevant. Maybe its a binary thing guilty or innocent with no in-between. In that case none of us is in position to throw the first stone. Still, though, don't we as individuals have some responsibility for what we allow ourselves to become? We lose track of this fact because we are trained to believe authority. If authority tells us to injure or kill, it must be OK. And how many 18 year olds have any idea what they are choosing when they join the military? How many 22 year olds know when it is time to blow the whistle on brutal and illegal activities carried out by those in authority? Manning is the exception.

Once one grants the validity of war as a solution to a problem, one has made a choice that necessarily leads to unspeakable evil a choice that requires the gutting of our young people of their humanity. So we need to go back to the question of why the United States has embarked on a path of never-ending war.

Perhaps David Werner's "but why" approach will help us here.

David Werner, the author of "Where There Is No Doctor" recommends a "but why" game as a means of trying to expose the causes of events on increasing fundamental levels. (See for example, the use of this technique in a community diagnosis in "Health in Harmony A Program in Borneo that Links Community and Environmental Health" -- pp. 20ff -- which can be downloaded free, here). [] It is simple, really. One begins with the question, "why" and then in relation to each answer one continues to ask "but why" until arriving at the rock upon which everything else sits. Applied to the video that wikileaks made available, the technique might look something like this:

Q: Why were these people murdered?

A: Because that is the kind of thing war produces.

Q: But why were we at war?

A: Because the president and the politicians decided to go to war.

Q: But why did they decide to go to war?

A: To defend the American Empire.

Q: But why is it US policy to impose an Empire on the world?

A: To protect the financial interest of the very rich.

We seem to have dug down to solid rock. It is oil, after all, that is the key issue in the middle east. One would have to be pretty uninformed not to know that.

Let's go at this again:

Q: Why do the American people not vote the people responsible for this endless war policy out of office.

A: Because they are never offered presidential candidates that would oppose this policy. And only very rarely do voters have the chance to vote for less important public servants who seriously oppose the idea of Empire.

Q: But why?

A: Because the very rich decide with their campaign contributions, their advertising, and their lobbies who the candidates will be.

Q: OK. But many Americans support these wars. Why can they not see what is in their interest?

A: Because they have been systematically fed a very distorted image of the world they live in by the mass media.

Q: But why does the mass media not present a broader and more balanced picture of what really are the issues?

A: Because the bulk of the media is owned by the same big corporations who benefit from the US world empire. And those that are not, are controlled by their advertisers again mostly big multi-national corporations.

It seems that all our "but why games" lead us back to the same rock big multinational corporations and the banks that support them. It is hard not to conclude that the kind economic system we have requires war. War, to be effective, requires the creation of human beings who have had their humanity gutted out of them who are no longer able to feel compassion in the face of suffering, take responsibility for who they are becoming, assert control over what they are doing, or be guided by a sense of affinity with all human beings. It requires the murder of countless people. And it requires the loss of our collective soul.

So who should be condemned for what we see in this video? Maybe that has to be left between the individuals involved and their God or higher self. I would suggest that the goal of an enlightened morality is not the condemnation of anyone for whatever they have done, but the challenging of people to take responsibility for what they will do and become in the future.

The practical question is, how do we bell this huge cat the corporate oligarchy that has usurped our world and is determined to treat it as its own? An extensive answer to that question is beyond the scope of this article, but I might suggest in passing that addressing the problem of ignorance will have to be central. That means education:

--Schools which teach children how to gather evidence and think.
--Election reform so that the rich cannot buy the outcomes.
--Education of voters.
--Better control of lobbyists.
--Spreading real news and alternate perspectives on the Internet.
--Keeping the Internet free.
--Educating young people who are thinking about enlisting, about what their decision might actually mean.

That kind of thing.

Much of it boils down the the simple fact that if the American people are to gain a clear understanding of the world in which they live, they must have accurate information. Without this information it is not possible to be responsible citizens. Unfortunately real information is often not available to the mainstream press and when it is, it is often ignored. The secrecy that hides the reality of US foreign policy is not mainly for the sake of national security. It is about hiding information that would expose the United States for what it is: a nation that has embarked on an illegal, unconstitutional, and ill-advised project to enslave and micromanage the rest of the world for the benefit of large multi-national corporations. It is a policy that undermines democracy at home and abroad, and that is pursued by means of lying, assassinations, state terrorism, endless war, and the crushing of the hopes of the non-wealthy throughout the world.

Bradley Manning is not un-American. He believed in the American ideals that he was undoubtedly taught in school, and he has acted in the worthy tradition of Top Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King Jr. In various ways all of these people articulated a simple and valid principle: when those in power violate the basic principles of the constitution, and when they act in opposition to the basic principles upon which this nation was founded, then it is the responsibility of the people to resist them, with civil disobedience if need be.

We are in danger of creating a life that is not worth living, except perhaps for those 400 or so billionaires who run the show. But in this process they too, even if they have not noticed it, are losing their souls their capacity for love, for identification with the rest of life, for affirming a meaning larger than their own appetites, and for relationships based on reciprocity rather than domination. And it is, after all, this loss of our individual and collective souls that is the greatest threat of all to a meaningful and worthwhile life. And to life itself.

I believe Bradley Manning has earned a place of honor in American history for his courageous act in exposing the un-American activities of the American government.


21) A Tourist Mecca Fears a Long-Term Oil Smear
June 11, 2010

GRAND ISLE, La. - They are not selling many fried Snickers bars à la mode these days at the Kickin Chicken restaurant here, located by a wide, sandy beach that is now off limits to swimmers because of the oil spill. So its owners are going after different customers, with the help of a roadside sign: "Disaster Catering Available! Let's Talk."

Grand Isle, a normally picturesque seven-mile stretch of barrier beach off the Louisiana coast, is slowly waking up to a grim reality: the impact of the April 20 spill will not be measured in months, even if BP manages by fall to plug the well that is gushing oil 50 miles off the coast.

It is likely to be measured in years of oil-streaked beaches and marshes, of plummeting property values in a maritime community suddenly cut off from the water, of teams of hazmat-suited workers on beaches lined with orange booms, and cleanup crews in tourist motels.

"It's shifted from a beautiful tropical paradise with people running around in bathing suits with rods and reels, having fun, to feeling more like a coastal town near a military base," lamented Linda Magri, a real estate broker who rents summer homes and camps on the island. "We've got National Guard trucks running up and down."

Like many islanders, Patrick Shay can hardly bear to look at the beach in its current condition. He has transformed his family's front yard into a memorial for all the rites of summer that have been lost to the oil spill.

Mr. Shay planted 101 white crosses on his lawn, making it look like a national cemetery, and each cross is labeled for a loss: Brown Pelican. The Beach. Fishing. Riding My Golf Cart. Playing Board Games.

"This is our new way of life," said Mr. Shay, 43, who has a seafood business near New Orleans and comes to his beach cottage here often with his wife and son.

Grand Isle has undergone huge transformations before. Over the last 300 years it has been home to pirates and smugglers, sugar plantations and several grand hotels that were wiped out by the hurricane of 1893. It was the setting of Kate Chopin's 1899 novel, "The Awakening." Now most islanders make their living from fishing, tourism, or the oil industry, which have all been imperiled by the oil spill.

More recently it had to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. Some people here are wondering aloud if the spill is worse.

"A hurricane comes in one night, wipes you out, and you know you're dealing with mud and water, and material things," said Mayor David J. Camardelle. "When you're dealing with material things, on land, in just a little time everything gets better. You see progress. But this oil, it's like a monster in the Gulf of Mexico. It comes up on the beach, you get rid of it, and you pray the next morning it won't come back."

Oil first hit the shore just before Memorial Day, shutting beaches just when an influx of tourists was expected to triple the population of this small island, which has about 1,200 year-round residents. Since then, President Obama has visited twice. Now the mayor is hoping to block the oil from entering the delicate bay behind the island with barges and rocks. Many here pray it works.

Expensive flood insurance bills are due for many residents this month. At least one home was put up for sale because of the spill, a broker said, but it was unclear if anyone would buy it now.

The oil has cost the island another cherished tradition. The Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, a fishing tournament that packs an estimated 20,000 visitors onto the small island at the end of each July, was canceled.

Frank Besson, 61, a native of Grand Isle who runs a daiquiri stand and souvenir shop, said he had missed the rodeo only once, when he was stationed in Vietnam.

"It was the saddest day," Mr. Besson said.

Fishermen book their rooms for the rodeo a year in advance at the Sand Dollar Motel and Marina. When the rodeo was scrapped, the cancellations poured in, so Butch Gaspard, its owner, rented the whole place to BP and some of the contractors the company hired for the clean-up for the foreseeable future. But his marina is empty.

The contractors staying at Ricky's Motel and RV Sites have been telling Joe Lamothe, the manager, that they would be likely to need their rooms for at least a year.

But Mr. Lamothe took out a calculator to show that the motel will still be earning less than it would in a normal season. He is renting rooms to the contractors for $800 a month, which nets him less than half of what he would collect if they were going at their usual rate of $65 a day.

But even that kind of shortfall looks good to other local businessmen. Wesley Bland, 33, a builder who advertises all over the island with slogans like "Got Roof?" said that business fell off so abruptly that he had to let several workers go.

Kickin Chicken sold only two of the 12 cases of chicken it bought for Memorial Day. The restaurants here are being hit especially hard: BP has been using off-island caterers to feed the workers, so they do not have much reason to venture to local restaurants.

And there have been tensions between islanders and the cleanup workers, who are bused in from elsewhere. Most of the islanders are white; many of the workers are black. Mayor Camardelle said that he ran one contractor off the island for denigrating its residents.

Many houses on Grand Isle rest on tall pilings, to protect them from floods. The shade beneath them is a popular spot for escaping the blistering sun.

Sitting under the house he built, Curtis Vizier, 78, who came to the island from an isolated bayou as an infant, showed off some of the huge oyster shells he collected in the bay as a young man, and the ladder he built into a towering oak tree so he could climb up with binoculars to make sure his oyster beds were safe from poachers.

The spill will be adding some unpleasant memories to Mr. Vizier's later years.

"The oil ruined everything," he said. "It will be for years to come."

Tom Zeller Jr. contributed reporting.


22) Coast Guard Adjusts After Spill Estimate Rises
June 11, 2010

HOUSTON - BP said Friday that its board of directors would meet Monday to discuss whether to suspend the company's dividend to pay spill-related claims.

BP executives continued to say they were financially capable of paying the dividend, which amounts to $10.5 billion a year. But they also acknowledged the political pressures building in Washington to set aside at least the next dividend payment while the amount of oil being released into the gulf is assessed and the growing federal fines linked to that amount can be estimated.

"There are ongoing discussions, there are lots of options on the table," said Andrew Gowers, a BP spokesman. Among options being considered by board members, BP officials say, is suspending or cutting the dividend for a quarter, paying the dividend in shares of stock, or issuing an i.o.u. for delayed payment.

The BP board will discuss a strategy for a meeting between top company executives and President Obama on Wednesday. No decision is expected until then. By that time, the company hopes its containment efforts will be gathering most of the oil spilling into the gulf. Such progress could relieve some political pressure as well. Political controversy boiled on many fronts Friday as Attorney General Bill McCollum of Florida sent a letter to BP demanding that it put at least $2.5 billion into a dedicated escrow account to cover spill-related losses to the state and its residents. Mexico's environment minister told Reuters that Mexico was considering how to sue BP for environmental damage if oil reaches the country's shores.

BP's efforts to contain the spill were the subject of debate at hearings in Washington on Friday. Robert J. Barham, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told a House of Representatives subcommittee that chemical dispersants used underwater may be more environmentally damaging than the oil.

"As bad as it is, we have a whole lot more experience dealing with oil on the surface than we do in subsea, where we have literally no experience," Mr. Barham said.

He said that despite repeated requests to BP and to the manufacturer of the dispersant, they have not received information on the percentages of the components of the chemical, Corexit.

John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, told the committee that the shrimping industry was angry over the continued use of the dispersants without proper knowledge of how the chemicals could affect seafood.

Jackie Calmes contributed reporting from Washington.


23) 5 Officers Indicted in Katrina Killing
June 11, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - A federal grand jury charged five police officers Friday in connection with the shooting death of a civilian in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

An 11-count indictment against the officers revealed a sequence of events that led to the body of Henry Glover, 31, being found burned in an abandoned car.

The killing occurred Sept. 2, 2005, four days into the flooding of the city, in the Algiers neighborhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River, according to the indictment. David Warren, a police officer at the time, was charged with shooting Mr. Glover with an assault rifle.

Mr. Warren was arrested by federal agents on Friday after the indictment was returned.

Mr. Glover, who was bleeding to death, was picked up by William Tanner, a stranger, who said he drove him to an elementary school that was being used as temporary headquarters for a police special-operations unit, one that was later hailed as heroic for its hurricane rescue efforts.

There, Mr. Tanner has said, he was beaten by police officers and his car was seized, with Mr. Glover inside. Mr. Tanner left the city but returned weeks later, he said, and found his car, with the remains of Mr. Glover inside, burned and parked on a levee behind a police station.

Two other police officers, Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and Officer Gregory McRae, were charged with hitting and kicking Mr. Tanner and another man who was with him at the elementary school. They were also charged with taking Mr. Tanner's car and burning it, along with Mr. Glover's body.

They each could be facing 60 years imprisonment.

After the killing, the indictment said, a false police report was drawn up by Lt. Robert Italiano, who later left the force, and Lt. Travis McCabe. Both were charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to the F.B.I.

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Glover's death were first reported in late 2008 in an article that was a collaboration by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and the nonprofit investigative news service Pro Publica.

It became the most gruesome of several deaths that are believed to have occurred at the hands of the New Orleans police, a force that has been troubled for decades.

"Behavior such as described in the indictment has no place in a free society, let alone law enforcement," Dave Welker, the F.B.I. special agent in charge for Louisiana's Eastern District, said in a statement on Friday.

The case is one of at least eight investigations into actions of the New Orleans Police Department being conducted by the federal government.

Most of the investigations concern events in the chaotic days after the storm. The best known, concerning the shootings of civilians on the Danziger Bridge that left two dead and four wounded, resulted in five guilty pleas from current or former police officers.

Most of the pleas were to conspiracy charges related to an alleged cover-up of the shootings. But the accounts in the pleas described police officers shooting a mentally disabled man in the back and then beating him, and also strafing unarmed civilians. That investigation was continuing and more charges were expected.

Last month, the Department of Justice announced that it would conduct a full-scale investigation into the patterns and practices of the police force, a step that usually results in a legally binding blueprint for wholesale reform.

In a sign of just how grim the view of the police force is in New Orleans, the mayor himself formally solicited such a review, citing a need for "systemic and transformational change."


24) The Courage to Leave
“The U.S. doesn’t win wars anymore. We just funnel the stressed and underpaid troops in and out of the combat zones, while all the while showering taxpayer billions on the contractors and giant corporations that view the horrors of war as a heaven-sent bonanza. BP, as we’ve been told repeatedly recently, is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the wartime U.S. military.”
June 11, 2010

There is no good news coming out of the depressing and endless war in Afghanistan. There once was merit to our incursion there, but that was long ago. Now we’re just going through the tragic motions, flailing at this and that, with no real strategy or decent end in sight.

The U.S. doesn’t win wars anymore. We just funnel the stressed and underpaid troops in and out of the combat zones, while all the while showering taxpayer billions on the contractors and giant corporations that view the horrors of war as a heaven-sent bonanza. BP, as we’ve been told repeatedly recently, is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the wartime U.S. military.

Seven American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Monday but hardly anyone noticed. Far more concern is being expressed for the wildlife threatened by the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico than for the G.I.’s being blown up in the wilds of Afghanistan.

Early this year, we were told that at long last the tide had turned in Afghanistan, that the biggest offensive of the war by American, British and Afghan troops was under way in Marja, a town in Helmand Province in the southern part of the country. The goal, as outlined by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, our senior military commander in Afghanistan, was to rout the Taliban and install a splendid new government that would be responsive to the people and beloved by them.

That triumph would soon be followed by another military initiative in the much larger expanse of neighboring Kandahar Province. The Times’s Rod Nordland explained what was supposed to happen in a front-page article this week:

“The goal that American planners originally outlined — often in briefings in which reporters agreed not to quote officials by name — emphasized the importance of a military offensive devised to bring all of the populous and Taliban-dominated south under effective control by the end of this summer. That would leave another year to consolidate gains before President Obama’s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing combat troops.”

Forget about it. Commanders can’t even point to a clear-cut success in Marja. As for Kandahar, no one will even use the word “offensive” to describe the military operations there. The talk now is of moving ahead with civilian reconstruction projects, a “civilian surge,” as Mr. Nordland noted.

What’s happening in Afghanistan is not only tragic, it’s embarrassing. The American troops will fight, but the Afghan troops who are supposed to be their allies are a lost cause. The government of President Hamid Karzai is breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent — and widely unpopular to boot. And now, as The Times’s Dexter Filkins is reporting, the erratic Mr. Karzai seems to be giving up hope that the U.S. can prevail in the war and is making nice with the Taliban.

There is no overall game plan, no real strategy or coherent goals, to guide the fighting of U.S. forces. It’s just a mind-numbing, soul-chilling, body-destroying slog, month after month, year after pointless year. The 18-year-olds fighting (and, increasingly, dying) in Afghanistan now were just 9 or 10 when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked in 2001.

Americans have zoned out on this war. They don’t even want to think about it. They don’t want their taxes raised to pay for it, even as they say in poll after poll that they are worried about budget deficits. The vast majority do not want their sons or daughters anywhere near Afghanistan.

Why in the world should the small percentage of the population that has volunteered for military service shoulder the entire burden of this hapless, endless effort? The truth is that top American officials do not believe the war can be won but do not know how to end it. So we get gibberish about empowering the unempowerable Afghan forces and rebuilding a hopelessly corrupt and incompetent civil society.

Our government leaders keep mouthing platitudes about objectives that are not achievable, which is a form of deception that should be unacceptable in a free society.

In announcing, during a speech at West Point in December, that 30,000 additional troops would be sent to Afghanistan, President Obama said: “As your commander in chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined and worthy of your service.”

That clearly defined mission never materialized.

Ultimately, the public is at fault for this catastrophe in Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 G.I.’s have now lost their lives. If we don’t have the courage as a people to fight and share in the sacrifices when our nation is at war, if we’re unwilling to seriously think about the war and hold our leaders accountable for the way it is conducted, if we’re not even willing to pay for it, then we should at least have the courage to pull our valiant forces out of it.

[How about, it’s an unjust war; a war on a whole people who are responding the best way they can to a giant, military assault and occupation, by a foreign superpower—the U.S.—of their country! How about, it’s all about the oil, stupid! And how the U.S. commanders of world capital can get their greedy hands on it and all other natural resources that rightfully belong to all of us who inhabit the planet? That’s why our troops are killing—much more, by the way, than they are dying! Bring all the troops—military and contracted—home now! Tax the rich to pay for education, housing, healthcare, jobs and a healthy environment for all!]