Friday, June 4, 2010

Breaking: Coast Guard confirms oil sheen in Florida Keys; Officials lay protective boom

Coast Guard pollution investigators from Sector Key West are currently responding to reports of an oily substance and tar balls near Duck Key, Fla., Long Key, Fla., and Grassy Key, Fla. …

Coast Guard Sector Key West received multiple notifications from the National Response Center Tuesday of an oily substance and tar balls approximately four nautical miles south of Long Key, Fla.

A Coast Guard HU-25 Guardian aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami conducted an aerial search and confirmed the presence of sheening in the vicinity of Duck Key, Fla., and deployed a self-locating data marker bouy (SLDMB) to determine the set and drift of the substance. Coast Guard Station Marathon launched a smallboat crew to collect samples of the substance and monitor the situation.

Analysis of the SLDMB on Wednesday morning indicated a potential for the sheen to land on Grassy Key Wednesday evening.

The Coast Guard is coordinating with the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key and Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck Key to develop and deploy protective booming strategies as a protective measure to protect the dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center and those at the Florida Keys Dolphin Interaction feature at Hawk’s Key Resort.

Shoreline assessment teams from the Coast Guard and contracted shoreline cleanup crews were deployed to the shorelines of Long Key, Grassy Key, and Duck Key to confirm the presence of tar balls. The team recovered tar balls and identified one oiled vessel in a canal in Duck Key. No tar balls were found in Grassy Key or Long Key. Shoreline assessment teams continue to monitor the shorelines for more possible tar balls. If detected, contracted crews will conduct cleanup operations. …

The Coast Guard, working with NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, Department of the Interior, and Monroe County Department of Emergency Management, has responded to 37 reports of tar balls in the Florida Keys and has sent representative samples of tar balls found in each location to the Marine Safety Laboratory for testing. None of those samples have been connected with the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

Capt. Pat DeQuattro, commanding officer of Sector Key West, has authorized the use of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to commence cleanups of any pollution.

Key West Keynoter:

U.S. Coast Guard pollution investigators from Sector Key West were responding Thursday to reports of an “oily substance and tar balls” near Duck Key, Long Key and Grassy Key, according to the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center, the federal government’s official clearinghouse for oil-spill information. …

A crew from Station Marathon “recovered tar balls and identified one oiled vessel in a canal on Duck Key.” That crew is collecting samples of the sheen.

A Coast Guard HU-25 Guardian aircraft from Air Station Miami conducted an aerial search and confirmed the “presence of sheening in the vicinity of Duck Key and deployed a self-locating data marker bouy (SLDMB) to determine the set and drift of the substance.”

Palm Beach Post:

Numerous reports of oil and tar balls in the southern Florida Keys and a confirmed siting of sheen by the U.S. Coast Guard prompted officials at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key and Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck Key to lay protective booming around their caged dolphin habitat. …

The Coast Guard station in Key West received reports of an oily substance and tar balls approximately four nautical miles south of Long Key. A Coast Guard HU-25 Guardian aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami conducted an aerial search and confirmed the presence of sheening in the vicinity of Duck Key. A buoy deployed to track the spill indicated the sheen could land on Grassy Key at any time.

About 600 feet of boom was deployed at the Dolphin Research Center this morning, said Mary Stella, the marketing director at the center in Grassy Key, about 59 miles north of Key West. Hawk’s Cay Resort, at mile marker 61 in Duck Key, did not return a phone call about their dolphins.

“No tar balls or sheen have been spotted on the Gulf side where we are,” Stella said. “This is strictly an extra precaution.

Sarah Palin Blames Oil Spill on Environmentalists

In her latest note on Facebook, Sarah Palin is blaming "extreme 'environmentalists'" for causing the gulf oil disaster that has been unfolding for over a month. Her logic is that because environmentalists push for tougher drilling regulations onshore in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (also known as ANWR) it forces oil companies to explore deeper offshore drilling which has more risks.

Palin writes:

With [environmentalists'] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you're doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You're not preventing environmental hazards; you're outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.
Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country's energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It's catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.

You can read her full note on Facebook here.

This is one of several comments about the oil spill Palin has made that has caused a stir, including a tweet in which she said we said we shouldn't trust BP because it is a foreign oil company. Palin's husband Todd worked for BP for 18 years.

Raw Video: How Bad Can the Spill Get?

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Yahoo and AP Caught Manipulating User Comments

It was like déjà vu all over again. I’d go from one Yahoo article to another and notice that regardless of the subject matter, the first user comment was always the same — at least on AP articles covering the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The comment that kept reappearing was posted by “Robert” and it was a one liner. “Hamas is now in control of the Gaza Strip after winning an election there against Abbas Palestinian Authority.” That was it. Fair enough — I’ve got no quarrel with the messenger or the message. But somehow that one comment generated an incredible 184 responses and, last I checked, readers had given it 3212 thumbs up and 2525 thumbs down.

I got a little curious about why Robert’s one liner had generated so much controversy. I’ve written hundreds of articles and never got anywhere near that kind of attention. Frankly, I was full of envy. How did ‘Robert’ pull this off with one miserly line? Then I noticed the strangest thing: it was dated March 09, 2010. The comment was two months old and was the lead comment of 40,000 responses. That seemed a little high considering the fact that the AP article I was reading had only been posted for thirty minutes.

What were Yahoo and AP up to? The answer is simple; they were porting comments from one article to another and, in this particular case, they’ve been doing it for two months. It took a little research till I realized that the first few hundred comments were related to Biden’s ill-fated visit to Jerusalem. It was an ancient story and quite unrelated to the posting I was reading which was a slanted AP article white washing the murderous Israeli assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

So why is this important? Well, you see, the default setting on comments for Yahoo articles is that readers get to see the oldest comments first. To see the newest comments, you have to know enough to change the default to engage other readers. Otherwise, you have to wade through tens of thousands of comments to get to the ones relating to the story.

Just to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing, I decided to do a little forensic analysis. I put an audit trail in and now have documented proof that Yahoo was porting tens of thousands of comments from one article to another including thousands of outrageously racist and derogatory comments that violated Yahoos terms of use. So I came up with an idea; I repeatedly responded to Robert’s one liner when I saw it appear on whatever AP article I happened to encounter. And sure enough, my comments were also ported from one article to another. Each of my comments specified the article I posted it from, the date, the title and the journalist who wrote it.

Now it’s time to name names. Among others, the AP journalists involved in this scam were Associated Press Writers Tia Goldenberg aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations. Steven Gutkin and Amy Teibel also have their handprints on this scam. I haven’t come up with the names of the Yahoo participants yet but it’s unlikely that Yahoo management didn’t understand and approve the conduct of their news staff. If this article gets any traction, their names will hopefully be publicly disclosed.

Let there be no confusion, this was not a software glitch. Yahoo didn’t port comments to AFP or Reuters articles — only AP articles and as far as I can tell this practice was limited to selected content related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Put aside that many of the ported comments were inane and blatantly racist. Some went so far as to incite violence and advocate genocide. But that’s not the issue here. We’re all believers in the First Amendment and, with the possible exception of comments that incite violence, Yahoo is entitled to propagate racist graffiti. After all, that’s one of the trademarks that distinguish the Yahoo brand name.

If this was merely a question of unethical behavior or slanted coverage, that’s par for the course. We’ve come to expect little more from Yahoo and AP or, for that matter, any other MSM outlet. But this is blatant fraud and it’s not just fraud against readers; it’s corporate fraud. Because the number of comments generated is one of the metrics Yahoo uses to cook the numbers to exaggerate user participation and it uses those numbers to defraud advertisers. The same goes for AP, which is obviously complicit in this racket.

What about the journalists involved in this scam, if you can call them journalists. Didn’t they notice that their articles were generating tens of thousands of comments the minute they appeared on Yahoo news? Is it possible that they didn’t keep reading Robert’s one liner over and over again?

Now, before the boys in Yahoo’s boiler room try to scrub their boards, let me go on record and advise them that I have documented evidence and an audit trail. I’ve seen my own comments ported from one article to the next and I’ve taken the liberty of putting the evidence in a safe place.

There is something else that’s worth bringing up. This pattern of media manipulation could very well be an Israeli Hasbara project coordinated with Yahoo and the AP. It’s no secret that Israel has ratcheted up its use of media operatives in the last few months. Are the boys in Yahoo’s boiler room working with AIPAC operatives and graduates of the Hasbara fellowship program? Have Yahoo and AP joined the ranks of the pro-Israeli activists that camp out on message boards to disseminate their canards and their venomous anti-Palestinian diatribes?

Just so we’re clear about this. I told the boys in Yahoo’s backroom that I would be writing about this but they didn’t seem to care. I gave them fair warning in a number of messages that are still being ported from one AP article to another.

I guarantee you one thing — those AP journalist involved in this racket know exactly how to get to the bottom of this. If they have a shred of integrity left, they might want to publicly reveal how they got ensnared in this racket. Because a lot of parties have a lot of explaining to do.

Ahmed Amr is the former editor of and the author of The Sheep and The Guardians - Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Ahmed.

Are Cameras the New Guns?

Are Cameras the New Guns?In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where "no expectation of privacy exists" (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, "[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want." Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, "The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law - requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense."

The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler's license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

In 2001, when Michael Hyde was arrested for criminally violating the state's electronic surveillance law - aka recording a police encounter - the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction 4-2. In dissent, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall stated, "Citizens have a particularly important role to play when the official conduct at issue is that of the police. Their role cannot be performed if citizens must fear criminal reprisals…." (Note: In some states it is the audio alone that makes the recording illegal.)

The selection of "shooters" targeted for prosecution do, indeed, suggest a pattern of either reprisal or an attempt to intimidate.

Glik captured a police action on his cellphone to document what he considered to be excessive force. He was not only arrested, his phone was also seized.

On his website Drew wrote, "Myself and three other artists who documented my actions tried for two months to get the police to arrest me for selling art downtown so we could test the Chicago peddlers license law. The police hesitated for two months because they knew it would mean a federal court case. With this felony charge they are trying to avoid this test and ruin me financially and stain my credibility."

Hyde used his recording to file a harassment complaint against the police. After doing so, he was criminally charged.

In short, recordings that are flattering to the police - an officer kissing a baby or rescuing a dog - will almost certainly not result in prosecution even if they are done without all-party consent. The only people who seem prone to prosecution are those who embarrass or confront the police, or who somehow challenge the law. If true, then the prosecutions are a form of social control to discourage criticism of the police or simple dissent.

A recent arrest in Maryland is both typical and disturbing.

On March 5, 24-year-old Anthony John Graber III's motorcycle was pulled over for speeding. He is currently facing criminal charges for a video he recorded on his helmet-mounted camera during the traffic stop.

The case is disturbing because:

1) Graber was not arrested immediately. Ten days after the encounter, he posted some of he material to YouTube, and it embarrassed Trooper J. D. Uhler. The trooper, who was in plainclothes and an unmarked car, jumped out waving a gun and screaming. Only later did Uhler identify himself as a police officer. When the YouTube video was discovered the police got a warrant against Graber, searched his parents' house (where he presumably lives), seized equipment, and charged him with a violation of wiretapping law.

2) Baltimore criminal defense attorney Steven D. Silverman said he had never heard of the Maryland wiretap law being used in this manner. In other words, Maryland has joined the expanding trend of criminalizing the act of recording police abuse. Silverman surmises, "It's more [about] ‘contempt of cop' than the violation of the wiretapping law."

3) Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley is defending the pursuit of charges against Graber, denying that it is "some capricious retribution" and citing as justification the particularly egregious nature of Graber's traffic offenses. Oddly, however, the offenses were not so egregious as to cause his arrest before the video appeared.

Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers. This argues strongly against the idea that some rogue officers are overreacting or that a few cops have something to hide. "Arrest those who record the police" appears to be official policy, and it's backed by the courts.

Carlos Miller at the Photography Is Not A Crime website offers an explanation: "For the second time in less than a month, a police officer was convicted from evidence obtained from a videotape. The first officer to be convicted was New York City Police Officer Patrick Pogan, who would never have stood trial had it not been for a video posted on Youtube showing him body slamming a bicyclist before charging him with assault on an officer. The second officer to be convicted was Ottawa Hills (Ohio) Police Officer Thomas White, who shot a motorcyclist in the back after a traffic stop, permanently paralyzing the 24-year-old man."

When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop.

Happily, even as the practice of arresting "shooters" expands, there are signs of effective backlash. At least one Pennsylvania jurisdiction has reaffirmed the right to video in public places. As part of a settlement with ACLU attorneys who represented an arrested "shooter," the police in Spring City and East Vincent Township adopted a written policy allowing the recording of on-duty policemen.

As journalist Radley Balko declares, "State legislatures should consider passing laws explicitly making it legal to record on-duty law enforcement officials."

Wendy McElroy is the author of several books on anarchism and feminism. She maintains the iconoclastic website as well as an active blog at

The WSJ's Hit Piece On Gold

The WSJ issues an amusing hit piece on why gold is nothing but a "Ponzi Scheme", ignoring the fact that by its definition the stock market is precisely the very same. Either way, since we are seeing no let up in the currency debasement department of Central Banks, and gold continuing to trade near record highs, it is a good thing to occasionally have a shake out of the weak hands. After all it will merely provide far better entry prices for countries like Russia, which as we disclosed recently, have been buying up all the IMF has to sell in the open market. At the end of the day - the opinion of Brett Arends or of David Einhorn, David Rosenberg, Jim Rickards, Eric Sprott, and, oh yeah, John Paulson.

Some philosophical snippets from the WSJ hit piece. No commentary necessary:

At some levels, gold, as an investment, is absolutely ridiculous.

Warren Buffett put it well. "Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace," he said. "Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head."

And that's not the half of it.

Gold is volatile. It's hard to value. It generates no income.

Yes, it's a "hard asset," but so are lots of other things—like land, bags of rice, even bottled water.

It's a currency "substitute," but it's useless. In prison, at least, they use cigarettes: If all else fails, they can smoke them. Imagine a bunch of health nuts in a nonsmoking "facility" still trying to settle their debts with cigarettes. That's gold. It doesn't make sense.

Some cherrypicking of facts:

As for being a "store of value," anyone who bought gold in the late 1970s and held on lost nearly all their purchasing power over the next 20 years.

Why gold is a ponzi:

Most of the new supply has come from mine production. Some, though a dwindling amount, has come from central banks. And a growing amount has come from recycling—old jewelry and the like being melted down for scrap. (This is a perennial issue with gold. I never understand why the fans think gold's incredible durability—it doesn't waste or corrode—is bullish for the market. It's bearish.) So if supply has consistently exceeded user demand, how come the price of gold has still been rising?

In a word, hoarding.

Gold investors, or hoarders, have made up all the difference. They are the only reason total "demand" has exceeded supply.

Lots of people have been buying gold in the hope it would rise. But the only way it can rise is if still more people buy it, hoping it will rise still further. And so on.

What do we call an investment scheme where current members' returns depend entirely on new money brought in by new members?

A Ponzi scheme.

We now realize we had it all wrong - it is not Keynesianism that is the biggest ponzi, it is gold, whose price suppression practices by JPMorgan and the LBMA cabal is now the target of a DOJ inquiry... Oh oops, the WSJ forgot to mention that part.

The WSJ's "powerful" conclusion

Yes, as I wrote earlier, gold may well be the next big bubble. And that may mean there is big money to be made in speculation.

But I don't trust it as an investment.

Something tells us that John Paulson, who has 30% of his fund now tied into gold, will read this article and rush to sell, sell, sell. Or not.

Interpol: Joran van der Sloot arrested in Santiago

Joran van der Sloot is being investigated in connection with the death of Stephany Flores Ramirez, right, and was a suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

[Updated at 1:13 p.m.] Joran van der Sloot has been arrested and is in police custody in Santiago, Chile, an Interpol spokesperson in Santiago told CNN.

Van der Sloot, who was previously considered a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba, is the main suspect in this week's slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez, officials said. She was was found Wednesday in a Lima, Peru, hotel room registered to van der Sloot. Chilean police told CNN that paperwork showed that van der Sloot entered Chile on Wednesday.

Peruvian Interior Minister Octavio Salazar Miranda said Thursday that Peru has made arrangements with Interpol to extradite van der Sloot.

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[Updated at 12:33 p.m.] Chilean investigators have told CNN Chile that Joran van der Sloot was spotted in Arica, Chile, near the Peruvian border and they believe he may still be there.

[Posted at 11:59 a.m.] Peruvian authorities investigating a young woman's slaying this week are working with officials from Interpol, Chile, Argentina and Colombia in the search for Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch man previously considered a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, the Peruvian justice minister said Thursday.

There is "incriminating evidence" linking van der Sloot to the killing of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez, who was found with multiple stab wounds in a Lima hotel room Wednesday, Cesar Guardia Vasquez, of Chile Interpol's criminal investigations unit, said at a news conference.

The hotel room where Flores was found was registered in van der Sloot's name, he said.

A hotel guest and an employee witnessed the pair entering the hotel room together at 5 a.m. on Sunday, Guardia said.

Police have video of the previous night, May 29, of van der Sloot and Flores together at the Atlantic City Casino in Lima, he said.

According to immigration officials, van der Sloot fled to Chile over land on Monday, Guardia said.

"We have all the evidence to show that the killer is this man," the victim's father, businessman and race-car driver Ricardo Flores told CNN en Español.

Los Angeles Students to Be Taught That Arizona Immigration Law Is Un-American

This article was updated on June 3. See update at the end of the article.

The Los Angeles Unified School District school board wants all public school students in the city to be taught that Arizona's new immigration law is un-American.

The school board president made the announcement Tuesday night after the district's Board of Education passed a resolution to oppose the controversial law, which gives law enforcement officials in Arizona the power to question and detain people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally when they are stopped in relation to a crime or infraction.

Critics of the law say it will result in racial profiling.

The school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to “express outrage” and “condemnation” of the law, and it called on the school superintendent to look into curtailing economic support to the Grand Canyon State. About 73 percent of the students in the school district are Latino.

But supporters of the law say the school board is way out of bounds and that the measure will just distract from the children's education.

“This is ridiculous, it’s ridiculous for us to be involved in Arizona law,” said Jane Barnett, Chairman, Los Angeles County Republican Party. “There is a 50 percent dropout rate in some parts of the school district—is this going to keep kids in school?”

According to its press release, "The Los Angeles Board of Education also requested that Superintendent Ramon Cortines ensure that civics and history classes discuss the recent laws with students in the context of the American values of unity, diversity and equal protection for all people.”

"America must stand for tolerance, inclusiveness and equality,” said Board President Monica García, according to the release. “In our civics classes and in our hallways, we must give life to these values by teaching our students to value themselves; to respect others; and to demand fairness and justice for all who live within our borders. Any law which violates civil rights is un-American."

In an e-mail to, school district spokesman Robert Alaniz elaborated:

“The Board of Education directed the Superintendent to ensure that LAUSD civics and history classes discuss the recent laws enacted in Arizona in the context of the American values of unity, diversity, and Equal Protection for all. Much like a number of controversial periods and laws that are part of our history and are currently taught including:

-- Slavery

-- Jim Crowe laws and segregation

-- Native American reservations

-- Residential schools (for Native Americans)

-- The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

-- Anti-Irish racism in the 19th century

-- Racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the 20th century

-- Anti-Semitism

-- Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II

-- The Mexican Repatriation Program (1929-1939)."

The school district resolution also opposed another new Arizona law that bans schools from teaching classes that promote the overthrow of the government or advocate ethnic solidarity.

The school board called on Arizona's leaders to reverse both of these “misguided” new laws, the press release said.

The board said the laws “effectively sanction and promote unconstitutional racial profiling and harassment,” and “blatantly violate the civil rights of both Arizona residents and all visitors to the State.”

They said Arizona’s new laws also “severely restrict the education of all children in Arizona by refusing to incorporate vital sections of history that incorporate the contributions of this country’s many diverse groups.”

The superintendent was also asked to investigate ways to curtail contracts with Arizona-based businesses and district travel to the state.

"We need to do everything in our power to help our students be global citizens, develop appreciation for the diversity in our midst, and reject any forms of racism or bias," said Board Vice President Yolie Flores. "This resolution highlights our commitment to ensuring that our students understand the ideals and constitutional rights that this great country is founded on, while also gaining an appreciation of the histories and cultural contributions of those who have helped build this nation."

“It is a sad day in America when the rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution are trampled upon under the color of law and authority,” said LAUSD Board Member Martinez. “Everyone, regardless of their status in the United States, has the right to equal protection under our laws. These Arizona laws are nothing but a knee-jerk backlash resulting from the lack of a comprehensive and well thought out immigration reform policy.”

The LA County Republican chairwoman said she’s been inundated with phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages from people all over Los Angeles who say their school district has no business meddling in another state’s laws when they’ve got so many problems of their own to deal with.

“This is really crazy,” she said. “Everybody is upset about this.”

Barnett called the school board resolution a “pathetic stunt” that distracts educators from what they should be focusing on: educating the students.

“This is nothing we should be involved in. Let the courts deal with this,” she said. “We need to keep out of other people’s states’ business.”

Nathan Mintz, the founder of the South Bay Tea Party and the Republican nominee for the 53rd State Assembly seat.

“This is just another example of these embedded bureaucrats in California doing anything they can to deflect and distract from the poor job their doing of educating our children,” said Nathan Mintz, the founder of the South Bay Tea Party and the Republican nominee for the 53rd State Assembly seat.

He said attacking Arizona’s immigration law is just “a distraction from the key issue of educating the kids in our schools.”

“We support Arizona,” Barnett said. “In fact, I think we ought to go there right now for vacation.”


UPDATE: On June 3, The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education offered the following official response to this article:

“The Board of Education has directed the Superintendent to ensure that LAUSD civics and history classes discuss the recent laws enacted in Arizona in the context of the American values of unity, diversity, and Equal Protection for all. This very important piece of current events would be taught in our classrooms along with a number of controversial periods and laws which are a part of our history and are currently being taught including: slavery; Jim Crow laws and segregation; reservations and residential schools for Native Americans; The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the anti-Irish racism in the 19th century; racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe during the 20th century; anti-Semitism; internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II and the Mexican Repatriation Program during the 1930s.

Let’s remember that these laws were all deemed as “necessary” (in some cases for the security of our nation) during particular times in our history. To ignore what is currently happening in Arizona would be total denial of current events and a part of our history. At the very least it’s a discussion that should take place in the classroom.”

At polls, South Korea conservatives pay for response to Cheonan sinking

City and provincial elections dealt a blow to the conservative government of South Korea President Lee Myung-bak. Many voters were unhappy with the strong response to the sinking of the Cheonan Navy vessel.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, running from the ruling Grand National Party, celebrates his re-election at his office in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, June 3, 2010. The deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on North Korea overshadowed local elections Wednesday seen as a gauge of public sentiment toward pro-American president Lee Myung-bak's handling of the security crisis.

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

Seoul, South Korea

The conservative government of South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak suffered a shocking setback in city and provincial elections seen as a referendum on policy toward North Korea and other issues.

As final returns came in Thursday, stunned analysts and politicians sought to figure out why so many voters clearly were not happy with the government’s response to the sinking of a South Korean Navy vessel in March in which 46 sailors died.

In voting for more than 4,000 city and provincial positions, candidates of the main opposition Democratic Party won seven of 16 elections for governor and mayor as opposed to six for Mr. Lee’s Grand National Party, which previously had 11 of the 16 positions.

No margin of comfort

The narrow victory of the mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, to a second term over a woman identified with leftist causes offered scant comfort to Mr. Oh or to Korean conservatives in general.

Declared the winner by a margin of less than 1 percent, Mr. Oh issued a statement in which he said he “in reality was defeated.” His opponent, Han Myeong-sook, who had been a prime minister in the previous liberal government under the late President Roh Moo-hyun, declared “the people of Seoul and the nation have won” even though “I may have lost.”

Oh did not pull ahead in the count until early Thursday when the National Election Commission said he had 47.43 percent of the votes as opposed to 46.83 percent for Ms. Han. The close vote may well have eliminated him as a possible conservative candidate in the 2012 election to succeed Lee, barred by the Constitution from a second five-year term.

A factor in the resurgence of the opposition was the desire of younger voters for change. All told, 54.5 of the electorate went to the polls, the highest percentage in 15 years. Many older voters, more likely to support the conservatives, stayed home or enjoyed the holiday that was set aside for voting.

Oh had earlier been viewed as an easy winner in elections in which Lee’s popularity was believed to have risen on the strength of his strong stance against North Korea. The government on May 20 announced the results of an investigation showing that a North Korean midget submarine had fired the torpedo that sunk the Cheonan in disputed waters in the West or Yellow Sea.

Making matters worse?

Instead of denouncing North Korea for the attack, however, Democratic Party candidates criticized their government for retaliatory measures on trade and aid that have infuriated the North. In rallies, Internet postings, and television ads, they often posed the question, “Do you want war or do you want peace?”

The government was “demonstrating and promoting this Cheonan thing right before the elections,” says Cho Min-soo, an office worker. “It was so carefully planned. People didn’t buy it.” By cutting off trade with North Korea, says Mr. Cho, President Lee “is somehow making matters worse.”

That sentiment prevailed as expected in the southwestern Cholla region, including Kwangju, an important city that was the scene of a bloody uprising 30 years ago. The southwest was the main source of strength for the late President Kim Dae-jung, who initiated the Sunshine policy of reconciliation with North Korea while president from 1998 to 2003.

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I am Israel Exposing true face of Zionist Occupation in English version.flv

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Global Covert Govt Inc.: Bilderberg gather forces near Barcelona

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North Korean envoy warns war could erupt soon

GENEVA (Reuters) – A North Korean envoy said on Thursday that war could erupt at any time on the divided Korean peninsula because of tension with Seoul over the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

"The present situation of the Korean peninsula is so grave that a war may break out any moment," Ri Jang Gon, North Korea's deputy ambassador in Geneva, told the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.

North Korea's troops were on "full alert and readiness to promptly react to any retaliation," including the scenario of all-out war, he told the forum.

Ri, departing from his prepared remarks, said that only the conclusion of a peace treaty between the two countries would lead to the "successful denuclearization" of the peninsula. The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice but no formal peace treaty.

Communist North Korea, hit with U.N. sanctions after testing nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009, is still under international pressure to dismantle its nuclear programme.

Ri repeated Pyongyang's assertion that North Korea had nothing to do with the sinking of the Cheonan warship which killed 46 sailors -- the deadliest military incident since the Korean War.

South Korea has accused North Korea of firing a torpedo at the vessel and said it will bring the case to the U.N. Security Council. A report by international investigators last month also accused North Korea of torpedoing the vessel.

Ri accused South Korea of trying to create a shocking incident in order to ignite a campaign against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea's official name.

South Korean ambassador Im Han-taek took the floor at the Geneva forum to voice regret at Ri's remarks, adding: "We believe it is only for propaganda purposes."

U.S. disarmament ambassador Laura Kennedy also rejected Ri's accusations that Washington had backed Seoul in "groundlessly" blaming the sinking on a North Korean submarine.

"I agree that the situation on the Korean peninsula is very grave but I disagree with the statement made and reject those allegations against my country," Kennedy said.

"The investigation carried out was scrupulous and painstaking and we certainly accept without doubt the results which clearly indicated where the blame lay," she added.

(Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Angus MacSwan)

Giuliani Rips Obama’s Handling of Oil Spill

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, whose tireless leadership in the days and weeks after 9/11 made him a national hero, has accused President Obama of doing everything wrong in his handling of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It couldn’t be worse,” Guiliani said Wednesday when asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity to rate Obama’s performance.

“I mean, this would be an example, if you’re taught ‘Leadership 101,’ of exactly what not to do: minimize it at first; two days after or three days after it happened, go on vacation,” said Giuliani, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

“He’s been on vacation more often than he has, by far, been to Louisiana or Mississippi, or any of the places affected,” Giuliani added.

And in a particularly stinging comment, the Empire State’s best-known Republican alluded to the criticism President Obama has been getting from one of the Democratic Party’s best-known strategists.

“He gives the sense that he’s very nonchalant and very lackadaisical about it – which I think are the words of Jim Carville, ‘lackadaisical,’” Giuliani said. Louisiana native Carville, famed as the “Ragin’ Cajun,” was the architect of Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 quest for the presidency.

Carville went into a near frenzy last week during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” angry about Obama not spending more time in the Gulf Coast areas affected by the spill, which the White House concedes is the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

“I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands-offy here,” Carville said. “The President of the United States could’ve come down here,” he charged. “He could’ve been involved with the families of these 11 people” killed in the rig explosion on April 20 that triggered the massive oil gusher.

“He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up. They could be deploying people to the coast right now,” Carville said. “He could be with the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard...doing something about these regulations.”

An exasperated Carville, whose wife is Republican strategist Mary Matalin, said of Louisianans, “These people are crying. They’re begging for something down here, and he just looks like he’s not involved in this.”

Apparently addressing Obama directly, Carville exclaimed, “Man, you gotta get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this thing moving! We're about to die down here!”

According to Giuliani, the president’s nonchalance delivers a “signal right into the entire bureaucracy, that they’re also very lackadaisical about it. But one of the things you understand as a leader is: your actions are going to energize your bureaucracy to do the best it can.”

The ex-NYC mayor charged that Obama exhibited a similar lack of leadership in the case of the Christmas Day botched airliner bombing last year, with a negative ripple effect as the result.

“He did the same thing on the Christmas Day bombing,” Giuliani told Hannity. “He stays on vacation for 11 days. So the other guys go on vacation.” That’s a clear reference to National Counterterrorism Center director Michael Leiter not cutting short a ski trip after the December 25 near-destruction of a Detroit-bound passenger jet.

“The reality is that the administration has made every mistake it could possibly make, right down to this criminal investigation of BP,” Giuliani complained.

“Why are you criminally investigating them until this is over?” he asked “Are you gonna distract them from the job of what they’re supposed to be doing? And if they’re being criminally investigated, then why are we allowing them to do it? If we’ve got a bunch of criminals doing it, they why are we allowing them to do it?” Giuliani wondered.

So far, as much as 45 million gallons of oil may now be in Gulf waters, already contaminating 125 miles of Louisiana’s coast, as well as coastline in Alabama and Mississippi, and currently within seven miles of the beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

© Newsmax. All rights reserved.

US Officials: US Might Send Carrier to Korea

The U.S. is considering dispatching the massive aircraft carrier USS George Washington to the waters where North Korea allegedly sank a South Korean warship, defense officials said Wednesday.

The deployment of the nuclear-powered carrier, one of the world's largest warships, would represent a major show of force by the U.S., which has vowed to protect South Korea and is seeking to blunt aggression from North Korea.

An international investigation last month blamed North Korea for torpedoing a South Korean navy vessel, the Cheonan, in March, killing 46 sailors.

Two U.S. defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made, said that a decision on deployment was likely by week's end.

Last week, the Pentagon announced that it was planning two major military exercises with South Korea to take place in the "near future." The exercises were to focus in part on anti-submarine operations.

The officials said the George Washington's deployment would be separate from the upcoming exercises.

The latest plans to bolster military cooperation in the Yellow Sea was aimed specifically at sending a message to North Korea that the U.S. would help defend South Korea if necessary.

The deployment of the aircraft carrier would be seen as a particularly aggressive move by the United States because of its sheer size. According to a Navy website, the carrier is 244 feet high from keel to mast and can accommodate some 6,250 crew members.

Built in the 1980s, the carrier uses two nuclear reactors that would allow it to steam almost 18 years before needing to refuel.

The sinking of the Cheonan was South Korea's worst military disaster since the Korean War, which started 60 years ago and ended in a cease-fire in 1953. No formal peace treaty was ever signed, and more than 28,000 U.S. troops remain stationed in the south, a critical regional ally.

© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

U.S. to Join South Korean Military Exercise Off North Korea Coast

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington will participate in a joint naval exercise with South Korea next week in the Yellow Sea, the same waters west of the Korean peninsula where North Korea is accused of sinking a South Korean warship last March, ABC News has learned.

A U.S. official said the carrier, which operates from its home port in Japan, “will be sent to the waters off South Korea within coming days to participate in joint exercises” with the South Korean navy.

Slated to begin June 8, the official said this exercise will be “separate and distinct” from an upcoming anti-submarine warfare exercise that Pentagon officials had said recently would be occurring “in the near future.” The upcoming exercise was first reported by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Another U.S. official says additional U.S warships will be participating in the exercise, including a Japan-based Aegis destroyer and a Hawaii-based nuclear submarine. South Korea will also deploy a destroyer, a submarine and F-15 fighter jets to participate in the exercise.

U.S. to Join South Korean Military Exercise Off North Korea Coast PTImb2Y9MA==

Full article here

Lies, damned lies, and Israeli propaganda‎

Following Israel’s murderous attack on the Freedom Flotilla taking humanitarian aid to Gaza, it is hard not to conclude that sections of the media in Britain and other Western countries have been desperate to find ways to justify the crime. On the BBC and Sky News, a frequent argument has been that Israel feels “isolated” by the international community and is in a “war” situation, and therefore feels that it has to take extraordinary measures to defend itself. To shore up this argument, these media outlets have, once again, repeated two tired fabrications; Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction and Israel’s blockade of Gaza was imposed in response to Hamas rocket attacks.

The reality is, of course, very different. Israel is not isolated by the rest of the world. On the contrary, unlike, say, Iran and Syria (and before 2003, Iraq) in the Middle East, Israel has not been subject to sanctions in any way by the international community. It remains the largest recipient of US financial, political and military aid, despite the much-hyped rift between the Obama administration and the right-wing Netanyahu government and was recently co-opted to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development with the blessing of the European Union Nations. Nor is Israel in a war situation. None of Israel’s Arab neighbours pose a military threat to its existence and two of them, Egypt and Jordan, have full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state; Egypt cooperates actively with Israel in the siege of Gaza.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is usually said to have started in June 2007, when Hamas took control of the territory after pre-empting a coup by a faction within political rivals Fatah, but Israel had been limiting the movement of goods and people into Gaza long before that. The rockets fired from Gaza are not a threat to Israel and are not the reason for the blockade. Israel conducts frequent and deadly raids into the Gaza Strip and the rockets are fired in response to these raids. These rockets are very basic and inaccurate, capable of causing limited damage; they are very rarely lethal and are the only “serious” weapon available to a desperate people who have been brutalised by Israel for years. What about the claim that Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction? Hamas has offered Israel an open-ended ceasefire if it withdraws from the West Bank and lifts the blockade of Gaza; Israel has refused. The very fact that this “hudna” has been offered is de facto recognition of the state of Israel.

It is still not known exactly how many fatalities there were during Israel’s assault on the flotilla. Most news reports claim that nine or ten of the passengers were killed by the Israeli commandos, but other sources suggest that the figure could be as high as nineteen. Israel has imposed an information blackout designed to make sure that only its version of events comes out. As part of this “hasbara” campaign, the Israeli military issued a grainy black and white video, labelled helpfully, showing some of its soldiers being attacked with iron bars and chairs, with one being thrown from one deck to another, as they stormed it from their helicopters. This film has been played without comment on Sky News, the BBC and other channels. In addition, Israeli claims that the activists were carrying knives and stun grenades on their ship have been taken at face value and reported without comment all too frequently. The Israelis would have us believe that helpless commandos were attacked by unarmed “terrorists” masquerading as activists and the main news channels in Britain and other countries have been more than willing to repeat this message.

In this way, the murder of at least nine unarmed people by soldiers armed to the teeth is made to look natural and justifiable. The Israeli video is so surreal and unbelievable that it is barely worth commenting on. Apart from the fact that there is another, better quality video of an announcement made by an activist to his fellow passengers telling them not to resist because there is nothing they can do against the Israelis’ live ammunition, suffice to say that Israel has used this tactic before. During the war on Gaza, in order to justify its attacks on civilians, the Israeli army posted videos of rockets being loaded or fired, which later turned out to be faked. Even if we suppose that the latest “attack” video is authentic, isn’t it natural for people under attack to defend themselves? And yet the activists are being portrayed as thugs, hooligans and terrorists for doing so.

Israel has called the Freedom Flotilla an “Armada of Hate” and said that the activists on board are linked with Hamas, al-Qaeda, and “global jihad”; again, these absurd claims have been taken at face value by sections of the media. The Turkish humanitarian organisation, IHH, which has played a leading role in the flotilla, has been smeared in the Daily Telegraph as a front organisation for al-Qaeda, without any evidence being proffered. This charitable society operates legally around the world apart from Israel where it is banned, as are many other legitimate charities which support Palestinians in the midst of a desperate humanitarian catastrophe; no credible evidence is ever provided for these bans. They are seen by many as just another tool used by Israel to deny Palestinians much-needed aid.

The same DailyTelegraph story mentions that the flotilla has been endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the British Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. On board the flotilla were the Swedish bestselling author Henrig Mankell, the former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Dennis Halliday and the founder of Northern Ireland’s “Peace People”, Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Did the Telegraph bother to ask why all these people endorsed and took part in a project organised by IHH if it was indeed an al-Qaeda front organisation?

One very important aspect has been played down amidst all this hostile media coverage – the dire need of the people of Gaza for the items on board the ships of the flotilla. Among other things the flotilla carried cement, building materials, school supplies and medical equipment. The admittedly limited quantity of aid on the convoy would still have been of immense value to the people of Gaza. The homes and buildings that Israel destroyed in its December 2008 assault on the territory are still in ruins because Israel has since blocked the import of building materials. In fact, there is a long and arbitrary list of items that cannot be imported: pencils, computers and other educational items, for example, are banned, as are many food items, such as canned fruit. The volume and category of goods permitted to be imported into Gaza are kept at a level low enough to create poverty, malnourishment and suffering but not too low to create a humanitarian catastrophe that will make Israel look bad in front of the cameras. Despite this, the statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that there is “no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” and that Israel is allowing thousands of tons of food and equipment in has been reported without comment. The organisers of the Freedom Flotilla have also been criticised by some for not accepting Israel’s offer to unload their ships in Ashdod so that the Israelis can deliver their cargo “through the usual channels”. They were, of course, supposed to believe that the same “channels” which have made the people of Gaza suffer for so many years would suddenly and willingly help to alleviate that suffering.

Media complicity in Israel’s crimes has long been accepted by analysts, and Israel has spent a great deal of money on promoting its side of the long-running conflict narrative through a sophisticated propaganda machine. This latest episode, however, has exposed the double-standards and lack of genuine objectivity by the compliant sections of the media. On BBC Radio 5′s “Up all Night” programme on 2 June, Bruce Shapiro, the executive Director of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University in New York City, said that in most cases, the “facts” which emerge within the first 24-48 hours of incidents like Israel’s hijacking of the flotilla are usually shown to be false with the passage of time. Should this happen in this case (and it has already been admitted by an Israeli military spokesperson that none of the passengers had any weapons on them prior to the assault), a lot of media outlets will be left with egg on their faces because they have allowed the Israeli side of the story to be pushed almost unchallenged. How long will it be before members of the public grasp the fact that they are being duped, say enough is enough, and demand a balanced media approach to this conflict?

Blagojevich subpoenas Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett

Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett have received subpoenas from defense lawyers in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, joining a long list of federal officials who could be called to testify in the closely watched trial.

A White House official confirmed that Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, and Jarrett, one of Obama’s senior advisers, received the subpoenas, the existence of which were first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday afternoon.

Blagojevich faces charges ranging from corrupt practices on the state level to trying to sell his power to appoint a successor to then-Sen. Barack Obama when Obama won the presidency in late 2008.

In addition to Emanuel and Jarrett, Blagojevich’s defense team has issued subpoenas to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

The trial is set to begin Thursday in Chicago.

Emanuel could shed light on the accuracy of two charges against Blagojevich: that he tried to sell the Senate seat and that he attempted to extort campaign money from Emanuel in exchange for state support of a school project that Emanuel backed when he was a congressman in the same 5th District Blagojevich once represented.

Blagojevich is accused of trying to trade the appointment of Jarrett to the Senate seat for the post of secretary of Health and Human Services or other jobs in the administration. According to a report issued by Obama’s transition team in late 2008, a union official who acted as a conduit for Blagojevich and Jarrett discussed Blagojevich’s interest in the HHS job with Jarrett but not in terms of a quid pro quo. Jarrett later removed her name from consideration and joined the administration.

BP paid for officials’ meals, airfare and polar bear trip

The embattled oil and gas giant BP paid for a slew of travel and dining arrangements for senior government officials in the years leading up to the massive oil leak in the Gulf. Critics say BP got too close with regulators, neutering the government's safety watchdogs.

The Washington-based newspaper The Hill revealed a series of BP-funded trips after a review of files at the Office of Government Ethics.

Among the more notable was a BP-sponsored trip to Alaska for officials of the Food and Wildlife Service, which involved “maintenance of video surveillance at polar bear den” and a “polar bear study.”

The paper adds:

In June 2004, BP paid for meals and airfare for a trio of Interior Department officials, including then-deputy secretary J. Steven Griles, while they visited an offshore oil rig off New Orleans, La. BP split the cost with the National Ocean Industries Association.

Griles later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

In February 2005, then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton and then-Minerals Management Service (MMS) Director Johnnie Burton attended a dedication ceremony for BP’s Thunder Horse oil rig off the coast of Texas. BP paid for travel and meals for the officials.

BP also paid for airfare and lodging in 2006 and 2007 for a trip by officials from the Fish and Wildlife Service to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, for “maintenance of video surveillance at polar bear den” and a “polar bear study,” according to documents. 

In August 2004, six EPA officials attended a meeting on Alaska’s North Slope near Prudhoe Bay, where they stayed at BP facilities. In 2006, BP was responsible for a large oil spill in Prudhoe Bay.

Former government officials are also an important part of BP's efforts to keep regulators and Congress at bay.

"In the first three months of this year alone, the company at the heart of the current crisis, BP, has hired at least 27 lobbyists who formerly worked in Congress or the executive branch," Huffington Post's Sam Stein noted Wednesday. "The revolving door between the oil giant and elected office is spinning fast -- so much so that good government officials are hard-pressed to name a comparable organization with that much institutional clout on tap."

"In the first three months of 2010 -- the three months that immediately preceded the explosion of its Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig -- BP spent more than $3.8 million dollars on lobbying the federal government," Stein added. "The cash was spread around seven prominent lobby shops within the D.C. area (including BP's own internal operation), who in turn employed 39 lobbyists to help the company push its legislative interests. That nearly 70 percent of those hired guns have experience in elected office doesn't surprise good government officials because those are after all the most sought-after hires on K Street."

BP also hired a spokeswoman this week who served in the Bush Administration.

Anne Womack Kolton, former head of public affairs at the Department of Energy and Cheney's onetime campaign press secretary, took over BP's public relations message this week.

While at Cheney's side, Kolton defended the secrecy of the Vice President's Energy task force, a group which held secretive meetings with energy company executives. When the General Accounting Office -- the research arm of Congress -- sued the Administraton for records relating to Cheney's meetings, Kolton (then Womack) was at his side.

‘New York Times’ fails to interview a single flotilla member about killings

This is amazing. The Israeli government held the hundreds of illegally-arrested people from the Gaza Flotilla incommunicado for several days to give Israel's version of the deadly raid time to harden. But yesterday, Israel started to release and deport the prisoners.

The London Financial Times then did exactly what a newspaper is supposed to do; it asked the detainees for their side of the story. In a short article, Vita Bekker found people like Norazma Abdullah, from Malaysia, who challenged the Israeli account:

[The Israeli commandos] fired with some rubber bullets, but after some time they used live ammunition. Five were dead on the spot, and after that we surrendered.

Let us turn now to The New York Times. In today's print edition, the main article, on page 1, is not directly about the Gaza Flotilla at all -- but a dispatch from Washington quoting "senior American officials" suggesting Israel should relax the blockade. Inside the paper, on page 4, we do see a story about the actual events, written by Michael Slackman, with contributions from 4 other Times reporters. The story repeats the Israeli version, that

soldiers opened fire when they said they were attacked by passengers with chains, knives, bars and clubs.

But none of The Times's army of correspondents found a single activist to interview. The Times did manage to locate Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, and a couple of Israeli experts, but not one of the people who had just seen (at least) 9 people killed were worthy of inclusion.

The current online version of the Times story still has no direct quotes from the actual participants, although it adds the news that one of the dead may have been an American citizen (of Turkish background). But it does include an intriguing revelation,

The senior Turkish official also said forensic examination of the bodies showed that one of the dead had been shot at very close range.

This startling new fact is buried in the 7th paragraph of the online article.

Will The Times pursue this angle? Or will we continue to have to look at other publications to find out the simple truth?

P.S. Keith Olbermann interviewed Ambassador Peck yesterday, Peck was aboard.

Sarkozy caught up in kickbacks scandal

A report by Luxembourg police has revealed President Sarkozy's involvement in a bribery scandal in the sale of French submarines to Pakistan in 1994.

It is suspected that the money from the contract was used to finance a 1995 presidential campaign managed by Mr. Sarkozy to support candidate Edouard Balladur against Jacques Chirac, France 24 reports.

On the sidelines of the sale of the submarines, tens of millions of euros were received by a company called Heine.

The reports suggest that Nicolas Sarkozy, who at the time served as French finance minister in 1994, may have been involved in the creation of this company.

“We stress that Edouard Balladur was a candidate in the 1995 presidential election against Jacques Chirac and that he was supported by part of the RPR [Gaullist party], including Nicolas Sarkozy," the police report says.

A number of lawmakers have called for French judges to obtain the police documents and investigate on them.

It is suspected that the deal was linked to an attack that killed 11 French engineers in Pakistan in 2002.

Feds Approve New Gulf Oil Well off La as the Marine Life Washes Ashore


New Gulf Oil Well Approved here:

"I'm outraged," said Kieran Suckling, executive director for the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity. "How is it that shallow water drilling suddenly became safe again?"

Bandon Oil and Gas first sought the permit in April shortly after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank. The permit was approved Wednesday morning, according to MMS records.

Suckling said the administration was misleading the public by quietly resuming work in shallow waters while acting as if it was taking a tough look at deepwater work.


Read entire article Dying, dead marine wildlife paint dark, morbid picture of Gulf Coast following oil spill*

" Here's what President Obama didn't see when he visited the Gulf Coast: a dead dolphin rotting in the shore weeds.

"When we found this dolphin it was filled with oil. Oil was just pouring out of it. It was the saddest darn thing to look at," said a BP contract worker who took the Daily News on a surreptitious tour of the wildlife disaster unfolding in Louisiana.

His motive: simple outrage.

"There is a lot of coverup for BP. They specifically informed us that they don't want these pictures of the dead animals. They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence. It's important to me that people know the truth about what's going on here," the contractor said.

"The things I've seen: They just aren't right. All the life out here is just full of oil. I'm going to show you what BP never showed the President.

6 Reasons We Can't Fix The Oil Spill

The much-vaunted "top kill" attempt to stop the worst oil spill in U.S. history has failed, adding yet another failure to the joint BP and U.S. mission to curb the oil that is already destroying the Gulf of Mexico's chemical balance, marine and bird populations, and delicate coastlines. Why are we struggling so to stop and contain the oil leak?
  • 'Fix-It' Faith in Technology 'Misplaced' The New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal writes, "Americans have long had an unswerving belief that technology will save us — it is the cavalry coming over the hill, just as we are about to lose the battle. And yet, as Americans watched scientists struggle to plug the undersea well over the past month, it became apparent that our great belief in technology was perhaps misplaced."
  • Not Enough Regulation The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus asks, "Does it show that the federal government should be given more power to regulate energy industries, just as the financial crisis showed that Washington needed more power to regulate Wall Street?" He answers, "On that count, this crisis is very different from Katrina, which was mostly about governments' failures to prepare for a natural disaster. The oil spill fits into a different political narrative: the Democrats' insistence on the need for more federal regulation, in this case to protect the environment. In the face of events, voters may take a second look at that proposition."
  • Our Limited Knowledge of Deep Sea The New York Times' William Broad writes, "Strange as it sounds, we know more about distant planets than we do about the deep sea. ... Inky darkness, icy temperatures and, most of all, crushing pressures conspire to make deep exploration daunting if not impossible. That is why scientists estimate that humans have glimpsed perhaps only a millionth of what there is down there to see. That also helps explain why a runaway oil well on the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico is a massive calamity, with crews struggling to stop the gushing crude. It is the brutal nature of the abyss."
  • Regulators and Industry Are Too Cozy Newsweek's Evan Thomas and Daniel Stone discuss "the limits of government regulation." They say that "the oil companies and the federal government grew a little complacent" in a way that "underscores an uncomfortable truth about government regulation in the modern age. The government is dependent on industry for essential know-how. ... Inevitably, when government regulators are dependent on the industries they regulate, coziness and sometimes corruption creep in. The [Minerals Management Service] appears to have been no exception."
  • White House Too Deferential To BP The Wall Street Journal's Miguel Bustillo and Guy Chazan write, "initial hopefulness has eroded in recent days as the federal government has continued looking for direction to BP, which has been unable to put a stop to the runaway spill despite company and government spending of more than $930 million."
  • Regulation Should Emphasize Oversight, Not Bans The Cleveland Plain-Dealer declares, "the cozy era of insider U.S. oil industry regulation has to end." However, "Now the president risks a whiplash in the other direction with tough directives that suggest an excessively cumbersome environmental review process for each well could be in store. What's needed is effective oversight, not knee-jerk bans."

Low-lying Pacific islands 'growing not sinking' as sea levels rise

Many low-lying islands in the Pacific are growing in size to counter the effects of rising sea levels, according to new research.

Scientists have feared that many of the small islands throughout the South Pacific will eventually disappear under rising sea levels caused by climate change.

But two researchers who measured 27 islands where local sea levels have risen 4.8 inches over the past 60 years, found just four had diminished in size.

The study found that the coral islands are able to respond to changes in weather patterns and climate, with coral debris eroded from encircling reefs pushed up onto the islands' coasts by winds and waves.

Professor Paul Kench of Auckland University's environment school said that the study shows the islands are coping with sea-level change, with higher waves and water depth supplying sand and gravel from coral reefs.

Professor Kench said: 'It has been thought that as the sea level goes up, islands will sit there and drown. But they won't. The sea level will go up and the island will start responding.'

'They're not all growing, they're changing. They've always changed ... but the consistency (with which) some of them have grown is a little surprising,' said.

Tuvalu, a coral island group that climate change campaigners have repeatedly predicted will be drowned by rising seas, has its highest point just 14 feet above sea level.

The research, which appeared in this week's New Scientist, found that seven of Tuvalu's nine islands had grown by more than 3 percent on average over the past 60 years.

In 1972, Cyclone Bebe dumped 346 acres of sediment on the eastern reef of Tuvalu, increasing the area of Funafuti, the main island, by 10 percent.

Another island, Funamanu, gained nearly 30 percent of its previous area.

On World Environment Day in 2008, Kiribati President Anote Tong warned parts of his island nation were already being submerged, forcing some of Kiribati's 94,000 people living in shoreline village communities to be relocated from century-old sites.

Worst case scenarios showed Kiribati would disappear into the sea within a century, he said at the time.

Professor Kench added: 'In other words, they (the islands) are slowly moving ... migrating across their reef platforms.'

'As the sea-level conditions and wave conditions are changing, the islands are adjusting to that.'

But he warned an accelerated rate of sea-level rise could be 'the critical environmental threat to the small island nations,' with 'a very rapid rate of island destruction' possible from a water depth beyond a certain threshold. That threshold currently is unknown.

Australian sea level oceanographer John Hunter said the findings 'are good news and not a surprise.'

'Coral islands can keep up with some sea-level rise, but (there's also) ocean warming ... and ocean acidification ... that are certainly problematic for the corals.

'Sea-level rise can actually make the islands grow - as it apparently is doing,' said Hunter.

'Those morons don't know what they're doing': James Cameron's view as yet another BP oil spill fix fails

'Titanic' director James Cameron has labelled those trying to clean up the BP oil spill 'morons' after revealed BP turned down his offer of help.

Mr Cameron also said he knew some 'really, really, really smart people' who could help with the spill. The director is considered an expert in undersea filming and who has extensive experience working with submersible robots,

'Over the last few weeks I've watched, as we all have, with growing horror and heartache, watching what's happening in the Gulf and thinking those morons don't know what they're doing,' he said yesterday at the All Things Digital technology conference.

Not another setback! An underwater robotic arm, right, attempts free the diamond saw that became stuck while being used to cut through the pipe at the site of oil leak in this image from last night

Not another setback! An underwater robotic arm, right, attempts free the diamond saw that became stuck while being used to cut through the pipe at the site of oil leak in this image from last night

Making things worse: Oil can be seen pouring out of several spots near the blowout preventer today after the saw being used to slice through the riser pipe had snagged after slicing through about half of the pipe

Making things worse: Oil can be seen pouring out of several spots near the blowout preventer today after the saw being used to slice through the riser pipe had snagged after slicing through about half of the pipe

He did not say explicitly who he meant when he referred to 'those morons'.

His comments came a day after he participated in the meeting at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to 'brainstorm' solutions to the oil spill.

Mr Cameron said he has offered to help the government and BP in dealing with the spill. He said he was 'graciously' turned away by the British energy giant.

'Morons': 'Titanic' director James Cameron

'Morons': 'Titanic' director James Cameron

He said he has not spoken with the White House about his offer, and said that the outside experts who took part in the EPA meeting were now 'writing it all up and putting in reports to the various agencies'.

The film director has helped develop deep-sea submersible equipment and other underwater ocean technology for the making of documentaries exploring the wrecks of the ocean liner Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck some two miles below the surface.

The BP oil spill off the U.S. Gulf Coast is located a mile below the surface.

'I know really, really, really smart people that work typically at depths much greater than what that well is at,' he said.

While acknowledging that his contacts in the deep-sea industry do not drill for oil, Cameron said that they are accustomed to operating various underwater vehicles and electronic optical fibre systems.

'Most importantly,' he added, 'they know the engineering that it requires to get something done at that depth.'

Among the key issues that Mr Cameron said he is interested in helping the government with are methods of monitoring the oil leak and investigating it.

'The government really needs to have its own independent ability to go down there and image the site, survey the site and do its own investigation,' he said.

'Because if you're not monitoring it independently, you're asking the perpetrator to give you the video of the crime scene,' he added.


BP fumbled its latest underwater experiment with the wild Gulf gusher - just like every other endeavour the company has tried to fix America's worst oil spill.

First, a 100-ton, four-story box couldn't contain the spill because icelike crystals clogged the top.

Then, a straw-like device that actually did capture crude was inconsistent at best.

The supposed top kill - shooting heavy mud and junk into the well - couldn't overcome the pressure of the oil.

And the most recent risky gambit ran into trouble a mile under the sea yesterday when a diamond-tipped saw became stuck after slicing through about half of the blown-out well.

It took BP 12 hours to free the saw, and the company hopes to use giant shears similar to an oversized garden tool to snip off the pipe.

However, the cut won't be as clean if successful, and a looser fitting cap will have to be placed over the spill.

No timetable was given for when that might start, a familiar refrain in this six-week-old disaster.

All along, the company has been drilling a relief well, the best option at stopping the gusher - but it's still two months away.

Mr Cameron made two documentaries about the wreck of the Titanic as well as the blockbuster 1997 movie 'Titanic' using a small fleet of specially designed remotely operated underwater vehicles.

He said his qualifications are not based on his background as a movie director but on his years of involvement in the deep-sea industry.

The well has leaked anywhere from 21 million to 45 million gallons (80 million to 170 million liters) since an explosion on the rig that killed 11 people on April 20.

Up to 125 miles of coastline in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have been fouled by the oil. Now it is threatening the white beaches of Florida.

BP's latest attempt to stop it, using a diamond saw to cut through the pipe, failed after the saw got stuck in the pipe.

That so-called cut-and-cap method, is considered risky because slicing away a section of the 20-inch-wide riser could remove kinks in the pipe and temporarily increase the flow of oil by as much as 20 per cent.

And the situation on the water's surface becomes more dire with each day.

Oil drifted perilously close to the Florida Panhandle's famous sugar-white beaches, and crews on the mainland were doing everything possible to limit the catastrophe.

As the edge of the slick drifted within seven miles of Pensacola's beaches, emergency workers rushed to link the last in a miles-long chain of booms designed to fend off the oil.

Forecasters said the oil would probably wash up by tomorrow, threatening the miles of beach that are a favourite tourist destination for Britons.

Officials said the slick sighted offshore consisted in part of 'tar mats' about 500 feet by 2,000 feet in size.

County officials set up the booms to block oil from reaching inland waterways but planned to leave beaches unprotected because they are too difficult to defend against the action of the waves and because they are easier to clean up.