Jun 012012
 

 

* A REMINDER ABOUT WIKILEAKS 

As the risk intensifies that Assange may be prosecuted for his journalism, it is vital to remember what’s at stake

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

“Just in time to spoil the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn’t: indict a media organization. . . . Charging Julian Assange with ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as ‘conspiracy to commit journalism‘” — James Goodale, General Counsel of The New York Times during its Pentagon Papers fight with the Nixon administration, writing in The Daily Beast, June 12, 2011.

* * * * *

When, many years ago, I first read about the Nixon administration’s infamous break-in to the office of Daniel Ellberg’s psychiatrist as a means to discredit the Pentagon Papers leak, I was baffled by the motivation. The Pentagon Papers revealed systematic lying on the part of the U.S. Government to the American public about the Vietnam War. Why, I wondered with a not insubstantial amount of naïveté, would public revelations about Ellsberg’s personality and psyche have any impact on how those leaks were perceived?

But the answer to that is obvious, as Nixon well knew: by demonizing Ellsberg personally, even those inclined to defend the leak would be reluctant to be associated with him. If Ellsberg became associated in the public mind not with his noble exposure of government lies but rather with “strange” psychological drives or bizarre sexual fantasies — the sort of thing one is supposed to reveal to one’s psychoanalyst — then he would become a figure of derision, an embarrassment, and nobody would want anything to do with him for fear of having his foibles reflect negatively on them. You smear the messenger, and the message is smeared along with him — or, just as good, the message is forgotten and the messenger is abandoned to whatever punishments are doled out.

This has been exactly the strategy used to ward off support for Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning, with one difference: leaving aside Joe Biden, who denounced Assange as a “high-tech terrorist,” this time the role of Nixonian henchmen is played by establishment-defending or Obama-loyal media figures rather than the administration itself. The New York Times — led by John Burns and Bill Keller — has continuously obsessed on Assange’s alleged personality flaws while all but ignoring the vital disclosures about the U.S. Government for which he is partially responsible (Keller, the son of a Chevron CEO, wrote an article infamously complaining that Assange’s socks were “filthy” and that he “smelled”). […]

READ http://www.salon.com/2012/05/31/a_reminder_about_wikileaks/singleton/

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* WITH GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT ON ASSANGE CASE, BRADLEY MANNING MARKS 2 YEARS BEHIND BARS

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

This week marks two years since U.S. Army private Bradley Manning was detained on allegations of leaking classified documents to the online whistleblower WikiLeaks. Manning faces up to life imprisonment in a military trial set to begin in September. “It’s important to remember that what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done … was an act of incredible mobility, bringing immense amounts of transparency to the U.S. government and its war actions, ones that are usually shrouded in complete secrecy,” says Salon.com blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald who has been following the case closely.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOKTkRoui2Q&feature=player_embedded

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* NUMBER OF THE DAY: $3 MILLION – WHAT CHICAGO PAID TO DEFENDED CPD REPEATERS AGAINST ALLEGED ILLEGAL SEARCHES

By Yana Kunichoff, The Chicago Reporter

In a list of police misconduct, such as extended detention, malicious prosecution, false arrest and excessive force, illegal search may be among one of the lighter offenses. But it’s still an expensive one.

The city paid more than $3 million in settlements for 51 illegal searches by repeaters – the 1 percent of the Chicago Police Department who have two or more misconduct lawsuits against them. The exact cost between January 2009 and November 2011: a whopping $3.3 million.

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from illegal searches, and a 1961 Supreme Court decision ruled that evidence found in an illegal search and seizure cannot be used in a case. But police departments in cities including New York and Chicago continue to deal with claims of illegal searches, often of minority communities. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-muckrakers/2012/05/number-of-the-day-3-million-what-chicago-paid-to-defended-cpd-repeaters-against-alleged-illegal-searches/

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QUEBEC STUDENT MOVEMENT GROWS WITH POPULAR SUPPORT

Source: The Real News

People from Montreal’s communities bang pots and pans to show support as students broaden demands.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDf5Du7zV_k&feature=player_embedded

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* GREXIT? SPEXIT? LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

By Edward Hugh, Foreign Policy

One thing we’ve learned as the euro crisis has unfolded is that the enthusiasm of experts in London and New York for offering advice to the struggling countries on Europe’s periphery is matched only by their passion for awkward neologisms. The world was just getting used to “Grexit” (Get it? A Greekexit from the euro!) when “Spexit” began to rear its ugly head in the financial press.

Naturally, the events of recent days have brought Spain back to the forefront of the debt crisis, generating insecurity about the reliability of the official fiscal deficit numbers, the validity of central bank statistics, and new numbers showing capital flight reaching alarming levels. Only this week, Spain announced that the central bank governor, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoñez, will be leaving early as part of a government effort to restore its credibility. Some are now anticipating that Spain’s exit from the eurozone will come before Greece’s departure.

I would hope that those clamoring for these countries to go their own way are at least better intentioned than they are informed, since normally they exhibit a singular lack of understanding about how political systems in southern and eastern Europe actually work. […]

READhttp://experts.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/31/grexit_spexit_let_s_call_the_whole_thing_off

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* GREECE, SERBIA DEFY NEW WORLD ORDER

By Pyotr Iskenderov, Strategic Culture

It became clear when the dust settled after the recent elections in Greece and in Serbia that two epicenters of resistance to aggressive globalism continue to exist in Europe. The US and the EU with all their might neither succeeded in coercing the new cohort of Greek politicians into a deal that would establish a government ready to bow to the EU and the IMF nor managed to help Boris Tadic, long believed to be the front-runner, regain presidency in Serbia. In fact, the impression is that we have just witnessed a domino effect, with the determination demonstrated by the Greeks, especially by the leaders of the rising new nationalist and patriotic movements, causing Serbs to look for alternatives to the scenarios prescribed to their country by the West. Originally, Tadic polled a share of the vote 16% bigger than what forecasters gave to his nationalist rival T. Nikolic, but the advantage melted down hours ahead of the runoff, and the latter convincingly defeated the former. At the moment, there are serious reasons to take a closer look at the social and political dynamics which unravels in Greece regardless of the preferences expressed by the Brussels bureaucracy and the financial elites.

The May 6 snap elections in Greece highlighted an unprecedented decline of public support for the traditional heavyweights of the Greek political scene – the right New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) which only won 18.85% and 13.18% of the vote. In other words, this year the two combined got less than a third of the total, in contrast to the 2009 elections in which the figure was 77%. The second-largest share of the vote – 16.76% – was claimed by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

For a few days following the ballots count, there seemed to be absolute confidence in European capitals that the Greek parties would eventually negotiate a coalition and the arrangement imposed on Greece in late 2011 by the EU and the IMF – financial infusions for consent to a crippling austerity package – would not be called into question. European parliament speaker Martin Schulz bluntly dictated that “the negotiations to form a government in Athens should have as a target the honoring of the country’s obligations towards the European Union” [1]. German diplomacy chief Guido Westerwelle made an even stronger statement: “we expect the formation of prudence government in Greece, with a clear European orientation”. When it became clear that the first round of attempts to put together a government coalition in Greece failed, he added that the agreements between the EU and Greece must remain untouched and that this would not be a subject for further discussions [2].  […]

READ @ http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/06/01/greece-serbia-defy-new-world-order.html

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* MIKE SHEDLOCK ON THE SPEXIT, THE GREXIT AND RUNNING FRO THE EUROZONE EXIT

Source: RT News

Welcome to Capital Account. A slew of bad news out of Europe, as Irish voters today attempt to exercise their sovereignty and cast their ballots in a referendum on Europe’s fiscal consolidation treaty. Meanwhile, European central banker Mario Draghi made it clear he’s fed up with national sovereignty. The ECB says europe needs new tools to fight bank runs and Draghi says the lesson from Spain’s Bankia was that the supervision of eurozone banks should rest with a central authority, not national regulators. Isn’t that what we have in the US now with the Federal Reserve? How’s that working out?

And speaking of Spain, will we see a SPEXIT before a GREXIT? Mike Mish Shedlock is here to talk about why that could be the case. Mish says that the sooner Spain sees the light and gets out of the Euro that is strangling it, the better off Spain will be. The same goes for Greece, and possibly a slew of other nations in the Eurozone.

And last but not least, back in the US, GDP was revised downwards from 2.2 to 1.9 percent. At the same time, borrowing costs for the United States are at 60-year lows for the 10-year government bond. So what gives? Are the Hyperinflationists right, or is the market proving the Deflationists’ argument? Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s attempt to build an industry of battery-makers for electric cars is sputtering. Subsidized firms are struggling; they don’t have many customers. They are operating way below capacity. This is according to the Wall Street Journal. So what was the problem? Government grants were linked to production calendars and not to market demand. So is this a great example of what happens when government picks winners and losers? Or is there a role for Uncle Sam in alternative energy?

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=K-pAlzPmiNM

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* BANK OF AMERICA REACHES A NEW LOW IN SCUMBAGGERY

By Justin Rosario, Addicting Info

It’s like a bank heist in reverse, Via Mother Jones:

Bank of America, which last fall announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers, is about to go on a hiring spree—overseas.

America’s second-largest bank is relocating its business-support operations to the Philippines, according to a high-ranking Filipino government official recently quoted in the Filipino press. The move, which includes a portion of the bank’s customer service unit, comes less than three years after Bank of America received a $45 billion federal bailout.

BoA continues to spit in the face of the country that kept its bloated ass afloat when it got in over its head. Will it lower its fees now that it’s saving all that money by utilizing dirt cheap labor?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course not! It’ll just go to pad the bonuses of the CEO and other executives! […]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/05/30/bank/

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* KILLINGS, CANCER, CORRUPTION AND AZERBAIJAN: EUROVISION IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF BP?

By Greg Palast

Will “Beyond Petroleum” oil giant BP pick the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest today in Baku, Azerbaijan? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised.

When I was arrested by the military police of Azerbaijan during my investigation of BP for Channel 4′s Dispatches in 2010, one of the cops who surrounded our crew in the desert told us, with great pride:

“BP drives this country.”

Indeed it does.

In 1992, the newly independent former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan elected a kindly Muslim Professor, Abulfaz Elchibey, as President.

But the voters had made an error: Elchibey refused to give BP an exclusive contract to drill the nation’s massive Caspian Sea fields as the company wished. In 1993, with the assistance and, reportedly, guns provided by MI6, Elchibey was overthrown by the nation’s former Soviet KGB boss, Heydar Aliyev.

Within three months, Aliyev handed BP a sweetheart deal, called “The Contract of the Century”, to take Azerbaijan’s Caspian oil.

The way to the no-bid deal for BP was “greased”, to use the term applied by former BP operative Leslie Abrahams, with several million dollars in illicit payments and weekends with lap dancers in London for Azeri officials. I asked Abrahams, who was ordered by BP to provide military intelligence to MI6, whether he understood that he was paying “bribes on behalf of BP and the British government” – he replied, “absolutely, yes”.

When asked, BP would not directly deny paying bribes.

The company told us, tantalisingly, that:

“While there were some facts in [Abrahams] account that were accurate, we do not recognise most of it and regarded it as fantasy.”

Since BP has taken control of Azerbaijan’s oil, the nation has become fabulously wealthy – at least for those close to the Aliyev family and BP.

And they eat well. The daughters of the new President, Ilham Aliyev (son of Heydar), picked up the tab for dinner in London for a half dozen of their friends. It came to £300,000 (excluding tip and VAT).

According to Robert Ebel, the CIA’s former oil intelligence chief, the whereabouts of $140 million in BP and other oil industry payments are “totally unknown”.

This week, Eurovision Song Contest viewers will be treated to the images of the ancient city of Baku where the Silk Road streets are filled with Maseratis and Bentleys. The Bentley dealership, and much of the capital, is owned by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, the “Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World”.

That’s official, the vote was taken by Esquire Magazine. (She’s actually the twelfth “Sexiest Woman in the World”, but the other eleven, infidels all, can be ignored here.)
(Photo above with husband Ilham).

I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the title: her fashion model face has been created at great expense by “so much plastic surgery”, according to the US State Department Manning/WikiLeaks cables, that Lady Mehriban “appears unable to show a full range of facial expression.”

But when I left the Old City and its Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana stores and headed off to Sangachal, the town where BP’s terminal operates, I found a nation heading full speed into the 14th century…

Baku, once the world’s leading manufacturer of oil drilling equipment, is now one of the world’s leading centers of oil-toxin cancers. Walking along the main street of Sangachal, the aptly nicknamed, “Terminal Town”, was like doing the rounds in a cancer ward.

The local shoemaker, Elmar Mamonov – who hasn’t sold a shoe in two years – told me:

“This one’s daughter has breast cancer; there, Rasul had a brain tumor. Cancers we had never seen. His funeral was last week.”

Azlan, afraid to give his last name, paid to have a cancerous lung cut out, because employer BP wouldn’t pay. He says the oil company fired him after he could not keep up with his work.

And there was Shala Tageva, a schoolteacher, who has ovarian cancer. She needs treatment soon, but how to pay for it, Mamonov can’t imagine. Shala is Mamonov’s wife.

Suddenly, Mamonov stopped himself.

“If I am arrested, you will help me, yes?”

Sorry, sir, not in the Islamic Republic of BP.

Oil, their main industry, has seen employment drop about 90 per cent according to journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Her father, the former oil production minister, was fired by Aliyev when the minister suggested bribery was behind the destruction of the industry, bribes which allegedly allowed BP to avoid “local content” laws that would have saved those jobs.

Throughout the nation, we heard the same refrain: nostalgia for the old days of freedom and prosperity under Soviet rule; under BP rule, the people’s health, income and freedoms have decayed rapidly, as pollution has turned their Caspian fisheries into a dead, chemical toilet.

But Azeris are well entertained. The massive expenditure for the Eurovision Song Contest follows the government’s spending of $1 million for an Elton John concert during a depression.

Today, only one in seven dollars of GDP is paid in salaries (versus four of five dollars in the US and UK). Where have the billions gone? No one dare look for it, nor the source of the First Lady’s wealth. The last journalist who asked about the funds, Elmar Huseynov, was gunned down in his home. A journalist who questioned what happened to Huseynov was jailed. No third journalist is investigating what happened to the first two.

Azerbaijan is, nominally, a democracy. Indeed, the First Lady won a convincing election to Parliament (as did every other candidate supporting her husband’s regime – there was not a single member of the opposition elected). But it doesn’t, in the end, matter who is voted in, as long as “BP drives”.

Within hours of our arrest, my crew and I were released by the Deputy Chief of the Security Ministry: Imprisoning a Channel 4 reporter would have been an embarrassment for BP. But our witnesses to BP’s horrific drilling practices didn’t do so well. One made it out of the country, but others disappeared.

When you watch the Euro-warblers compete this Saturday, just remember that in Azerbaijan, the winners are already chosen: BP and the family of the Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World. And that’s not a pretty sight.

——–

Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast.

Here’s a clip from my interactive book

Greg Palast’s book on BP, “Vultures’ Picnic: A Tale of Oil, High-Finance and Investigative Reporting”, will be released in Britain on June 26th; click here for tickets and details of the launch event at ULU (the University of London Union) on June 26th..

You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.

READ / PHOTOS @ http://www.gregpalast.com/killings-cancer-corruption-and-azerbaijan-eurovision-in-the-islamic-republic-of-bp/

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* DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL, FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DECLARES

By Robert Barnes, Washington Post

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term.

The unanimous decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston was a big win for President Obama, who recently said he supported states allowing gay men and lesbians to marry.

His administration last year said it would no longer defend the 1996 law, which limits federal recognition of marriage to those between a man and a woman. The law thus denies a host of federal benefits, such as filing joint tax returns or receiving survivor benefits, to same-sex couples who were married in states that allow such unions. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/defense-of-marriage-act-unconstitutional-federal-appeals-court-declares/2012/05/31/gJQAHDxO4U_story.html

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* THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT’S CRUSADE AGAINST GAYS IS FAR SCARIER THAN YOU THINK

The money available to the Christian right is solidifying institutions — from right-wing universities to media outlets — that propagate a culture of hate.

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet

The sentencing of Dharun Ravi for the hateful abuse that may have driven his gay roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide, or Barack Obama’s public acceptance of gay marriage, prevents many of us from seeing that life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is getting worse—much worse.

No one understands this better than the gay activist and pastor Mel White. White, along with his husband and partner of 30 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization committed to using nonviolent resistance to end religion-based oppression. White and hundreds of Soulforce volunteers protest outside megachurches that preach hatred and bigotry in the name of religion. White travels to communities where young gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people have committed suicide. He holds memorial services for them in front of the church doors. He accuses the pastors of these churches of murder. His books “Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America” and “Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tell Us to Deny Gay Equality,” are two of the most important works that examine the innate cruelty and proto-fascism of the Christian right. White, more than perhaps any other preacher in the country, has pulled young men and women back from the brink of despair, from succumbing to the tragic fate of Tyler Clementi. And White is scared.

“What kind of environment creates a Dharun Ravi who would carry out that kind of bullying, as well as a kid like Tyler who would become a victim of that kind of bullying?” White asked when I reached him by phone at his home in Long Beach, Calif. “It is society. At its heart it is the church. The churches should be convicted, not just Ravi. He’s just an extension of the hatred that people feel about this threat, this gay threat. Pope Benedict XVI should be on trial. Richard Land from the Southern Baptists should be on trial. Religious leaders, Protestant and Catholic, should be on trial. They made this happen, but too few Americans make the connection.” […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155633

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* WTF: SOFA, CISPA, FISA

Source: RT

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was under debate on Thursday. US lawmakers discussed whether or not the bill’s overseas surveillance power should be renewed. FISA is one of several pieces of legislation that are targeting Internet freedoms for Americans and it gives the government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Rob Beschizza, managing editor for BoingBoing.com, gives us his take on Internet freedom.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfvCspbLBco

Apr 212012
 

 

* PCJF RELEASES MORE FOIA DOCUMENTS INDICATING FEDS HELPED COORDINATE OCCUPY EVICTION

By Susie Madrak, Crooks and Liars

[…] These initially released documents show:

  • The private corporate entity Brookfield Properties, which manages Zuccotti Park, had its security agency in communication with cities across the country about police actions designed to evict the Occupy movement and sought information as to Park Police plans to evict in D.C. 48 hours before OWS was evicted.
  • U.S. Park Police were communicating step by step, as they took action in regard to Occupy DC, with the Secret Service, DHS, and other police agencies as well as personnel affiliated with LEO.gov, the FBI’s nationally integrated network and alert system involving all aspects of civilian law enforcement, intelligence agencies and the military. As its website states, “LEO supports the FBI’s ten priorities by providing cost-effective, time-critical national alerts and information sharing to public safety, law enforcement, antiterrorism and intelligence agencies in support of the Global War on Terrorism.”

READ @ http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/pcjf-releases-more-foia-documents-ind

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* ARE WE SLIDING TOWARDS A POLICE STATE?

By Steven Greenhut, Reason Magazine

[…] Comb through newspapers across the country and one will find many incidents of officer-involved shootings and aggressive behavior by the authorities, who, as an aside, increasingly look like paramilitary rather than community officers. Police say society has become more dangerous, but crime rates are falling even during tough economic times. The number of officers killed on duty is at record lows. […]

[…] Police officers sometimes have to use deadly force. We all understand that. It’s an oftentimes tough job. But we keep seeing the fruits of America’s slide down that slippery slope toward a police state: 6-year-olds searched at airports, armed police patrolling the halls of junior high schools, drones deployed over U.S. skies to crack down on crime, SWAT teams arresting the sellers of unlicensed raw milk, armed agents shutting down peaceful medical marijuana clinics, code officers and other regulatory agents granted the powers and weaponry of peace officers, trigger-happy police who seem to reach for their weapons before trying other, less-deadly alternatives.

We’ve become a society of checkpoints and searches and increased surveillance wherever we go. We have federal officials who monitor bank accounts and gain added powers to snoop on us, broad anti-terrorism laws that allow the authorities to detain citizens indefinitely without due process. Many conservatives applaud these expansions of power because of their concern about terrorist threats and street crime. Liberals applaud them also, given how eager they are to use government to “improve” our society. The more laws and regulations one passes, the more authorities one needs to enforce them. […]

READ @ http://m.reason.com/26819/show/e89317aba62791fbe1b3c2131838c378/

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* 10 DISGUSTING EXAMPLES OF VERY YOUNG CHILDREN BEING ARRESTED, HANDCUFFED AND BRUTALIZED BY POLICE

Source: The American Dream

When did we decide that it was okay to treat very young school children as if they were terror suspects?  When I was growing up, I don’t remember a single time that the police ever came to my school and arrested anyone.  But now police are being called out to public schools at the drop of a hat.  All over America, very young school children are being arrested and marched out of their schools in handcuffs in front of all their friends.  For example, down in Georgia the other day police were called out because a 6-year-old girl was throwing a tantrum.  The police subdued her, slapped handcuffs on her and hauled her off to the police station.  Instead of apologizing for this outrageous incident, the police are defending the actions of the officer involved.  But this is not an isolated incident.  All over the country young kids are being handcuffed and mistreated by police.

The following are 10 more disgusting examples of very young school children being arrested, handcuffed and brutalized by police all over America….

#1 At an elementary school in Baltimore recently, three nine-year-old girls and an eight-year-old boy were arrested for fighting and marched out of their elementary school in handcuffs.  The police department is defending handcuffing these kids….

“It’s our policy, regardless of the age, when a suspect is arrested by police, they’re handcuffed. And the reason is just not for the suspect’s safety but also for officers’ safety,” Det. Jeremy Silbert of the Baltimore City Police Department said.

[…]

#3 Just last year, a 5-year-old boy at a public school in Stockton, California was arrested by police and handcuffed with zip ties because he was committing “battery on a police officer“.

Really?

How much damage can a 5-year-old kid really do to a police officer?

The boy was ultimately sent to a hospital and forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. […]

READ @ http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/10-disgusting-examples-of-very-young-school-children-being-arrested-handcuffed-and-brutalized-by-police

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* PENTAGON PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN TARGETED REPORTERS ASKING ABOUT PROPAGANDA

By Dasheill Bennett, The Atlantic Wire 

Two USA Today reporters became the targets of a ham-fisted online smear campaign after they started asking questions about the other ham-fisted propaganda efforts being carried out by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. The culprits used fake Twitter and Facebook accounts and set up slanderous Wikipedia entries to try and discredit Tom Vanden Brook and his editor Ray Locker, almost immediately after they began working on a story about military contractors hired to perform “information operations” in support of our overseas wars. The report, which ran on February 29, concluded that the Pentagon has spent of hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly executed and poorly monitored propaganda efforts that did little to help the war effort and possibly even undermined it. […]

READ @ http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/04/pentagon-launched-propaganda-campaign-against-reporters-asking-bout-propaganda/51367/

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* EXCLUSIVE: NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY WHISTLEBLOWER WILLIAM BINNEY ON GROWING STATE SURVEILLANCE

By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales, Democracy Now!

In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.

Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance. This interview is part of a 4-part special. Click here to see segment 2, 3, and 4. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/20/exclusive_national_security_agency_whistleblower_william

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* BP COVER-UP PART 2: BRIBERY, GEORGE BUSH AND WIKILEAKS

By Greg Palast, gregpalast.com

Evidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon and the Bush Administration in the deadly cover-up –– which included falsifying a report to the Securities Exchange Commission.

Yesterday, Ecowatch.org revealed that, in September 2008, nearly two years before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig had blown out in the Caspian Sea––which BP concealed from U.S. regulators and Congress.

Had BP, Chevron, Exxon or the Bush State Department revealed the facts of the earlier blow-out, it is likely that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been prevented.

Days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, a message came in to our offices in New York from an industry insider floating on a ship in the Caspian Sea. He stated there had been a blow-out, just like the one in the Gulf, and BP had covered it up.

To confirm this shocking accusation, I flew with my team to the Islamic republic of Azerbaijan.  Outside the capital, Baku, near the giant BP terminal, we found workers, though too frightened to give their names, who did confirm that they were evacuated from the BP offshore platform as it filled with explosive methane gas. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://ecowatch.org/2012/part-2-bp-covered-up-blow-out-prior-to-deepwater-horizon-2/

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* A STAIN THAT WON’T WASH AWAY

By Abrahm Lustgarten, NYTimes

[…] What is missing is the accountability that comes from real consequences: a criminal prosecution that holds responsible the individuals who gambled with the lives of BP’s contractors and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. Only such an outcome can rebuild trust in an oil industry that asks for the public’s faith so that it can drill more along the nation’s coastlines. And perhaps only such an outcome can keep BP in line and can keep an accident like the Deepwater Horizon disaster from happening again.

BP has already tested the effectiveness of lesser consequences, and its track record proves that the most severe punishments the courts and the United States government have been willing to mete out amount to a slap on the wrist.

Before the gulf blowout, which spilled 200 million gallons of oil, BP was convicted of two felony environmental crimes and a misdemeanor: after it failed to report that its contractors were dumping toxic waste in Alaska in 1995; after its refinery in Texas City, Tex., exploded, killing 15, in 2005; and after it spilled more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil from a corroded pipeline onto the Alaskan tundra in 2006. In all, more than 30 people employed directly or indirectly by BP have died in connection with these and other recent accidents.

In at least two of those cases, the company had been warned of human and environmental dangers, deliberated the consequences and then ignored them, according to my reporting. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/20/opinion/a-stain-that-wont-wash-away.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all

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* DAHR JAMAIL ON AL JAZEERA’S INSIDE STORY

By Dahr Jamail

Two years after the disaster, scientists and fishermen say they are seeing a disturbing amount of mutated sea life. Inside Story speaks with guests: Riki Ott, J Bennett Johnston, and Dahr Jamail.

READ and VIDEO @ http://dahrjamail.net/dahr-jamail-on-al-jazeeras-inside-story

Apr 212012
 

 

Source: Global Access Media

The first in a 12 part documentary series investigating the the real effects of the BP oil disaster on the people and environment of the Gulf.

The BP oil disaster has the potential to shift the entire global energy paradigm – IF the public stays focused and aware of the situation and it’s consequences. As the mainstream media shifts away from the people and stories of the Gulf, Global Access Media’s 12 part series, The Consequence of Oil, will continue to shine a light on the reality and long term effects of this disaster.

VIDEOhttp://globalaccessmedia.org/consequence-oil-part/

RELATED ARTICLEhttp://truth-out.org/news/item/8634-two-years-after-the-bp-drilling-disaster-gulf-residents-fear-for-the-future

Apr 202012
 

 

* NEW SCANDAL – GERMANS SET TO EXPOSE MPs WHO ACQUIRED SUDDEN WEALTH

Source: Hellas Frappe

We here at hellasfrappe have often said that the rich in Greece only get richer… and the poor only get poorer and we are not kidding! According to reports, while our government asked us to tighten our austerity belts for the good of the economy, they suddenly became very wealthy. How wealthy you ask? Well… according to a new scandal that is about to explode in the next few days from German reporters (who are presently investigating the matter) several MPs became so rich that they have been buying up a storm of properties all over the Greek capital with funds that cannot be explained!

According to a report in kourdistoportocali the scandal claims that top-level ministers suddenly gained enormous amounts of wealth during the 2009-2011 period in the backdrop of a bankrupt country. Was this because they wanted to challenge the posh lifestyle of their confident Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who incidentally lived like a king… but is now presently rotting away in some jail cell after being charged with money laundering? Or is it because they want to “launder” this sudden wealth? […]

READ @ http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2012/04/new-scandal-germans-set-to-expose-mps.html

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* HANG ON TO THAT PAYCHECK! ALEC “SHARPENS FOCUS ON JOBS”

By Mary Bottari, Truthout

[…] ALEC’s Race to the Bottom in Wages for American Workers

The “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act” would repeal and then ban local “living wage” ordinances like the ones in some 140 cities that provide a higher minimum for city workers/contractors — enough to maintain a safe, decent standard of living in a community. Similarly, the ALEC “Starting (Minimum) Wage Repeal Act” would preempt the ability of localities to pay a minimum wage higher than the federal level. Some 22 states allow starting wages, but ALEC objects to the policy as an “unfunded mandate.”

The ALEC “Prevailing Wage Repeal Act” would get rid of all state prevailing wage laws that give workers engaged in public works contracts a regional, average salary in an attempt to prevent contractors from entering into a race to the bottom in worker wages to win contract bids.

Not satisfied by pulling down workers’ wages in every imaginable domestic scenario, ALEC also supports a radical free trade agenda that pits U.S. workers against foreign workers making a fraction of their wage and facilitates the off-shoring of U.S. jobs. From China Free Trade in 2000 to Korea Free Trade today, ALEC has supported shipping jobs overseas.

Where is the bottom in ALEC’s race to the bottom? Why, prison labor of course. ALEC promotes the privatization of prisons and prison industries that do not have to abide by minimum wage rules. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8625-hang-onto-that-paycheck-alec-sharpens-focus-on-jobs

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* OCCUPY AND THE RIGHT TO PROTEST

By Laura Bolt, The Nation

On the morning of November 17, UC Davis students participating in a peaceful protest of rising tuition costs, in solidarity with the Occupy movement, were informed that they were to remove their tents from the quad on which they had been camping. The protesters had spent only one night there, but the university said the encampment was a health and safety violation. The students’ first instinct was to engage in a dialogue with the university; students requested that the administration cite the standards they were violating, but by that afternoon no details had been provided to them, so the students decided to continue to “occupy the quad.”

That occupation, however, did not last long. At around 3 pm, police in riot gear arrived on campus, threatening to “shoot” students who refused to leave. As students were pulled up from the ground at random, their hands violently tied behind them, twenty-five students remained peacefully seated in the center of the quad. A crowd of onlookers began to accumulate. In a scene that would go viral, thanks to cell phone videos, officers stepped within a few feet of the seated protesters, shook cans of pepper spray—“like cans of aerosol paint,” according to the students’ complaint—and doused the protesters. UC Davis student David Buscho described the experience as “absurdly painful…we were in a state of collective shock.”

Now that the shock has worn off, nineteen of these students, supported by the ACLU of Northern California, are fighting back with a lawsuit filed against UC Davis administration and officials that alleges that its actions violated the students’ First Amendment rights. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Mark Merin, believes that the police had no right to get involved in the protest, asserting that the “right of general assembly is enshrined in the constitution and should not be interfered with by police.” […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/167390/occupy-and-right-protest

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* SOMETIMES, WHEN “ALL THE FACTS ARE IN,” IT’S WORSE: THE UC-DAVIS PEPPER-SPRAY REPORT

By Brad Hicks, The Infamous Brad

[…] Chief Spicuzza “thought she made it clear” more than once that no riot gear was to be worn and no clubs or pepper sprayers were to be carried. What Lieutenant Pike said back to her, each time, was, “Well, I hear you say that you don’t want us to, but we’re going to.” And they did, including that now-infamous Mk-9 military-grade riot-control pepper sprayer that he used. Oh, funny thing about that particular model of pepper-sprayer? It’s illegal for California cops to possess or use. It turns out that the relevant law only permits the use of up to Mk-4 pepper sprayers. The consultants were unable to find out who authorized the purchase and carrying, but every cop they asked said, “So what? It’s just like the Mk-4 except that it has a higher capacity.” Uh, no. It’s also much, much higher pressure, and specifically designed not to be sprayed directly at any one person, only at crowds, and only from at least six feet away. The manufacturer says so. The person in charge of training California police in pepper spray says that as far as he knows, no California cop has ever received training, from his office or from the manufacturer, in how to safely use a Mk-9 sprayer, presumably because it’s illegal. But Officer Nameless, when he wrote the action plan for these arrests, included all pepper-spray equipment in the equipment list, both the paint-ball rifle pepper balls and the Mk-9 riot-control sprayers.

The students set up their tents on a Thursday night. Chancellor Katehi ordered the cops to (a) only involve campus police, because she didn’t trust the local cops not to be excessively brutal, and (b) get them out of here by 3 AM Thursday night. Chief Spicuzza had to tell her that that wasn’t physically possible, they couldn’t get enough backup officers from other UC campuses on that short notice, it was going to have to be Friday night at 3 AM. Chancellor Katehi said “no can do,” that they had to be out of there before sunset Friday night, so that the camp wasn’t joined by drunken and stoned Friday night partiers that would endanger the camp and even further endanger cops trying to deal with them — arguably an entirely reasonable objection. So she ordered Chief Spicuzza to get them out of there by 3 PM Friday afternoon. Chief Spicuzza “was under the impression” (oh, look, there’s that phrase again) that she made it clear to the Chancellor that for one thing, it couldn’t be safely done, at 3:00 PM the protesters and passers-by would way outnumber her officers, and for another, it couldn’t be legally done, because there was no way to legally arrest someone for “overnight camping” in the middle of the afternoon. Nobody else who was in that meeting thinks she made that clear, only that she made it clear that she didn’t want to do it but couldn’t explain why not. Still, when she gave the order to Lieutenant Pike, he very definitely did raise the same objections, clearly and unambiguously, backed up by multiple witnesses, who all agree that Chief Spicuzza told him, “This was decided above my level, do it anyway.”

So, there’s Lieutenant Pike. (Who, by the way, for obvious legal reasons since he’s still being investigated by internal affairs and, last I heard, still being sued by his victims, refused to be interviewed by the consultants, so everything we know about his side of this comes from what he told other people and what he wrote in his reports.) As far as he’s concerned, he’s been given an illegal and impossible order: take 40 or so officers – unarmed and unarmored officers – into an angry crowd of 300 to 400 people who aren’t doing anything illegal and make that crowd go away without using any force or getting any of your officers injured. For reasons Stanley Milgram could explain, it does not occur to Lieutenant Pike to disobey this order, so instead, he does the best he can, using his own judgement to decide which parts of his orders and which parts of the law to ignore. Unsurprisingly, it goes badly. Backed into a corner by an angry crowd (which has, by the way, demonstrably left him room to retreat, even with his prisoners, contrary to what he says in his report) that is confronting him with evidence that he is the law-breaker here, not them, he snaps. And rather than take it out on the more-powerful people who put him in this situation, he takes it out on the powerless and peaceful people in front of him, using a high-pressure hose to pump five gallons of capsacin spray into the eyes and mouths of the dozen or twenty people in front of him … and he would have used more if he’d had it, he only stopped when he did, halfway through his third pass down the line, because the sprayer emptied. When he gets back to the station, Chief Spicuzza (who has no idea what’s just happened) congratulates him in front of half the department for how well he just did. And now, as far as he’s concerned, he’s being hung out to dry. We’re apparently supposed to ignore the fact that multiple video sources contradict almost everything about his after-incident report because apparently, in his opinion, he was only following orders. […]

READ @ http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/459368.html

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* POLICE HANDCUFF GA. KINDERGARTNER FOR TANTRUM

Source: AP

Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action.

The girl’s family demanded Tuesday that this central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren’t treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by being put in a cell at the police station.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School, Macon television station WMAZ-TV (http://on.wmaz.com/HPb7nr ) reported. Police said the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. […]

READ @ http://news.yahoo.com/police-handcuff-ga-kindergartner-tantrum-112459850.html

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* HOUSE REPUBLICANS PASS DESTRUCTIVE RYAN BUDGET FOR SECOND TIME

By Stephen D. Foster Jr., Addicting Information

[…] The Ryan Budget is tremendously dangerous to our way of life and our economy and health care. Among the things the Paul Ryan Budget does includes:

• An average tax cut of $150,000 per individual for the wealthiest Americans. The budget also extends the unpopular Bush Tax Cuts which will give away $3 trillion dollars in revenues to the oil industry, Wall Street, and several other corporations and wealthy Americans. According to the Center for American Progress, “The only way to pay for such huge tax cuts for the 1 percent is to make the 99 percent pick up the tab.” That means the middle class, the poor, children, and seniors would sacrifice more so that rich people and corporations can have more wealth to hide overseas.

• The plan would wipe out Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. Medicare would become a coupon program in which seniors would receive a voucher to buy a private plan that may not cover the kind of medical care seniors need. Anything the voucher doesn’t cover would have to be paid for out of pocket. Coverage would not be guaranteed, meaning grandma and grandpa are on their own. The Republican budget also eliminates over $1 trillion of Medicaid funding, so low-incomes children, pregnant women, senior citizens and the disabled would be denying coverage. That’s about 60 million Americans that Republicans are throwing under the bus.

• The Ryan Budget keeps billions of dollars of subsidies for the oil industry and Wall Street and doesn’t close tax loopholes either. It also repeals reforms passed in the wake of the financial meltdown that would help prevent a repeat of the Great Recession.

Education and infrastructure are also affected. Under the Ryan Budget, education funding would be slashed by nearly 50 percent and infrastructure slashed by 24 percent. That means Republicans don’t care about educating the American people, and without education Americans will be less likely to get good paying jobs. And because of serious cuts to infrastructure, bridges, highways, rail lines, and clean energy production will all be allowed to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the rest of the developed world will continue to have better and more efficient infrastructures that are more efficient and better for business. […]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/04/18/house-republicans-pass-destructive-ryan-budget-for-second-time/

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* ITALIAN MUSEUM BURNS ARTWORKS IN PROTEST AT CUTS

A museum in Italy has started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts which it says have left cultural institutions out of pocket.

Source: BBC

Antonio Manfredi, of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, set fire to the first painting on Tuesday.

“Our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference,” he said.

The work was by French artist Severine Bourguignon, who was in favour of the protest and watched it online.

“The survival of the museum is such an important cause that it justifies the despicable, and painful, act of destroying a work of art,” she told the BBC.

“My work burned slowly, with a sinister crackle. It cost me a lot, but I have no other means of protesting against the loss of this institution.”

Mr Manfredi plans to burn three paintings a week from now on, in a protest he has dubbed “Art War”. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17754129

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* ‘THIS IS WAR!’ ITALY MUSEUM BURNS ART TO PROTEST DEADLY CUTS

Source: RT

Art is the latest victim of the EU’s debt crisis. A director of an Italian museum is burning works from around the world in protest at the government’s harsh austerity measures. With the permission of the artists, he’s promised to destroy three pieces a week until the government listens to what he has to say. Patrick Young, Executive Director of investment firm DV Advisors says although Italy’s art protest should be treated as a joke, the problems it highlights are very serious.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHj1ChIb9X8

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* FARM GROUP SEEKS U.S. HALT ON “DANGEROUS” CROP CHEMICALS

A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

By Carey Gillam, Scientific America

A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and Monsanto Co. are among several global chemical and seed companies racing to roll out combinations of genetically altered crops and new herbicides designed to work with the crops as a way to counter rapidly spreading herbicide-resistant weeds that are choking millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Dow and Monsanto say the new chemical combinations and new crops that tolerate those chemicals are badly needed by corn, soybean and cotton farmers as weeds increasingly resist treatments of the most commonly used herbicide – glyphosate-based Roundup.

“They (farmers) need this new technology,” said Dow AgroScience Joe Vertin, global business leader for Dow’s new herbicide-protected crops called “Enlist.”

But critics say key ingredients in these new herbicides – 2,4-D for Dow and dicamba for Monsanto – already are in use in the marketplace and have proved damaging to “non-target” fields because they are hard to keep on target. Wind, heat and humidity can move the chemical particles miles down the road, damaging gardens, crops, trees. Many farms have suffered significant damage in recent years even though the chemicals are currently sprayed under tight restrictions. […]

READ @ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=farm-group-seeks-us-halt-on-dangero&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20120419

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* DAHR JAMAIL: BP OIL DISASTER ONGING AFTER TWO YEARS

By David Swanson, Let’s Try Democracy

Dahr Jamail has covered the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico for two years.  He reports on massive environmental and economic damage and on oil continuing to enter these damaged waters.  Jamail is based in Doha, Qatar working as an Online News Producer for Al Jazeera English. His stories have also been published with Inter Press Service, Truthout, The Nation, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the Independent.  He’s been awarded the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His website is http://dahrjamail.net

READ and AUDIO @ http://davidswanson.org/node/3648

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* INVESTIGATION: TWO YEARS AFTER THE BP SPILL, A HIDDEN HEALTH CRISIS FESTERS

By Antonia Juhasz, The Nation

[…] As information about the settlement negotiations comes to light, several critical issues are not being adequately addressed—including the human health crisis brought on by the disaster.

Many people whose health was adversely affected by the spill would be excluded. The Medical Benefits Settlement covers about 90,000 people who are qualifying cleanup workers (out of an estimated 140,000) and 110,000 coastal residents living within one-half to one mile of the coast (out of a coastal population of 21 million). Although it would cover “certain respiratory, gastrointestinal, eye, skin and neurophysiological” conditions, it excludes mental health and a host of physical ailments, including cancers, birth defects, developmental disorders and neurological disorders including dementia.

The proposed settlement provides a health outreach program and twenty-one years of health monitoring—but not healthcare. If “nonspecified” ailments occur in this time frame, the patient must sue BP and prove causality to receive a settlement. Accepting the settlement also means forgoing the right to sue BP for punitive damages. BP estimates its total remaining liability for individuals and businesses at $7.8 billion—a lowball figure for many reasons, and much less than would be necessary if large numbers of people do suffer cancers and other chronic diseases as a result of the spill. […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/167461/investigation-two-years-after-bp-spill-hidden-health-crisis-festers

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* GULF SEAFOOD DEFORMITIES ALARM SCIENTISTS

Source: youtube

It’s almost two years since BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, scientists say they have found deformities among seafood and a great decline in the numbers of marine life. Dahr Jamail reports from New Orleans.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VVyPiV5xdY&feature=player_embedded

RELATED ARTICLE @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/18-1

RELATED ARTICLE @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155032

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* GULF OF MEXICO SPILL TAKES TOLL ON HEALTH

Source: youtube

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, local residents and clean-up workers say they have developed serious illnesses.

Those affected blame a combination of the five million barrels of oil spilled by BP and cleaning chemicals. Though some have settled with the British company, there are still several pending class-action lawsuits by plaintiffs who say the spill caused their illness.

Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports from Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FXxFFH3mM8