• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 29 mei 2010

Nederland en Afghanistan 254

L.S.


Bij de komende formatie van een nieuw kabinet zal zeker Afghanistan deel uitmaken van de besprekingen. Ik hoop dat U nog eens goed bekijkt in hoeverre het zenden dat en politie-missie naar Afghanistan een zinvolle activiteit is. Ik hoop ook dat bij Groenlinks, de PvdA en D66 nog eens goed naar dit punt wordt gekeken. Zie ook de uitvoerige bijlage.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Sietse Bosgra

- Het voornaamste bezwaar tegen medewerking aan de opleiding van de politie is dat de Afghaanse politie op grote schaal in de oorlog worden ingezet. Het aantal politie-agenten dat bij de strijd om het leven komt is drie maal zo hoog als het aantal gesneuvelde militairen. Dit komt mede door de zeer korte opleiding van de politie (zes weken), de slechte bewapening en de slechte bescherming: in tegenstelling tot het leger beschikt de politie niet over gepantserde voertuigen, vaak hebben ze geen kogelwerende vesten.

- Hoewel de Europese landen kritisch staan tegenover het Amerikaanse aanpak in Afghanistan is ook de Europese politie-missie EUPOL betrokken bij de counter-insurgency taken van de politie. Het feit dat Nederlandse militairen de politie-trainers moeten beschermen wijst er op dat het doel van de missie is om agenten op te leiden voor de inzet in levensgevaarlijke oorlogsgebieden.

Het opleiden van een civiele Afghaanse politie die de misdaad en corruptie in het land moet bestrijden is ongeloofwaardig omdat deze politie onderdeel is van de regering die zelf gebaseerd is op misdadige praktijken en corruptie.

- De publieke opinie keert zich steeds meer tegen de oorlog omdat het een uitzichtloze verloren zaak is. De westerse bezetting van Afghanistan en het corrupte Karzai-bewind hebben eerder tot een versterking dan een verzwakking van de taliban en van het islamitisch fundamentalisme geleid. In een jaar tijd is het aantal aanslagen door de taliban practisch verdubbeld.

- Ook wordt een politiemissie naar Afghanistan wordt niet door de Nederlandse bevolking gesteund. De meerderheid wijst het voorstel af, met name kiezers PvdA en Groenlinks.. Dat is de uitkomst van een onderzoek door TNS Nipo op verzoek van de Volkskrant.

- Door voorstanders van voortzetting van de oorlog wordt soms gewezen op de positie van de Afghaanse vrouw. Maar het westen heeft er juist alles aan gedaan om het PDPA-bewind (1978-1992) te vernietigen dat streefde naar gelijkheid tussen man en vrouw en dat vrouwen aanmoedigde te gaan studeren en werken. De Verenigde Staten brachten dit regime te val ten koste van een miljoen Afghaanse levens waarbij ze bewust de meest fundamentalistische en vrouw-onvriendelijke organisaties in Afghanistan met miljarden en wapens ondersteunden.

Women composed 70% of all teachers in Kabul, 40% of all doctors, and 50% of all students in the university.

The lives of Afghan women have improved only superficially since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001,

Gaza Freedom Flotilla 8


beste allemaal,
Een wrap up van al het nieuws en tekstberichten van Anne in de afgelopen 24 uur:
Anne's schip was donderdag vertrokken van Kreta, maar ondervond technische problemen en moest daardoor in Cyprus aanleggen om de passagiers op de andere schepen over te brengen. Vervolgens werd besloten om de schepen (Sumoud en Ship of Hope) te vervangen. Nu laat Cyprus - onder politieke druk van Israel - de passagiers niet toe van de schepen af te gaan. De gehele vloot wacht nog steeds op deze 2 flagships.

vivian korsten

Israel als Schurkenstaat 169

Stan,
Dit heeft wel niet met bovenstaande te maken, maar ik wil het toch doorgeven. Ik kreeg het net toegestuurd.



Beste mensen,
Bij mijn bezoeken aan de Palestijnse Gebieden heb ik herhaaldelijk de 'Tent of the Nations' bezocht, een project van Daoud Nassar een Palestijnse Christen op een boerderij vlak bij het dorp Nahalin. Ik heb ook geparticipeerd in één van hun workshops voor de vrouwen van Nahalin over een gezonde leefstijl. Daoud en zijn gezin zijn de enige Christelijke familie in het dorp, maar toch heeft hij veel gezag. Hij is een advocaat van geweldloos verzet tegen de drie Israelische nederzettingen die het dorp omringen. Zijn boerderij en projecten zijn al jaren het doelwit van allerlei acties vanuit die nederzettingen en het bezettingsleger. Nu is de bedreiging wel zeer acuut geworden. Via onderstaande website kan geprotesteerd worden tegen de sloopplannen van de Israelische overheid.
Ik hoop op ieders hulp daarbij.
Hartelijke groeten, Date

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/stop-the-demolition-of-nassar-family-farmtent-of-nations-buildings/458665763/taf


Oil 74


Scientists Build Case for Undersea Plumes

IN THE GULF OF MEXICO — The ocean caught fire.

As it blazed, a dense column of black smoke rose toward the sky. Oily water, the color of strong tea, slopped up the sides of boats. The breeze carried an acrid smell, like gasoline fumes.

Aboard the research vessel F.G. Walton Smith, anxiety was growing.

Five scientists and six students had come to study the oil leak and its effect on the sea. They brought flasks and gloves, refrigerators and freezers, tiny tools and huge cylinders of gas.

They were not looking for oil on the surface, where it was so thick in places that it was being burned off, but for plumes of fine oil droplets far beneath the waves.

The stakes were high. Two weeks earlier, when some of these scientists had disclosed evidence of undersea oil plumes, their claim had been greeted skeptically by the government. The scientists’ credibility was on the line.

If the plumes did exist, much of the wisdom about combating oil spills might need to be reconsidered. The plumes would suggest that any future oil leak in deep water could be expected to do much of its damage in the sea, not on shore.

But where were the plumes?

After a slow start, American science is finally beginning to tackle the oil disaster in earnest. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with monitoring the health of the oceans, is sending multiple boats into the gulf. The National Science Foundation, another arm of the government, is issuing rapid grants to finance academic teams, including the one aboard the Walton Smith. BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, has pledged $500 million for research. And scientists like those aboard the Walton Smith are getting emergency financing from the government for their studies.

This stepped-up effort is starting to bear fruit. This week, another research vessel confirmed the existence of a huge undersea plume. And on Thursday, a team of scientists appointed by the Obama administration offered a more credible estimate of the flow rate at the broken well, putting it at two to four times the previous calculation.

That higher estimate only added to the sense among academic scientists that much of the oil must be hovering in the deep sea, instead of surfacing. The goal of the researchers aboard the Walton Smith was to nail the existence of such deep-sea plumes beyond any doubt.

They sailed early this week from Gulfport, Miss., and went back to the spot where they had originally discovered a large plume. It was no longer there.

All one afternoon, the Walton Smith hopscotched across the gulf. The top scientists on board, Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia and Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi, peered intently at instrument readouts, hoping for a signal.

Down to the bottom of the sea went a huge apparatus designed to test the water and grab samples of it. The results kept coming up clean.

Then, late in the afternoon of the second day at sea, the entire scientific crew suddenly leapt to attention.

The boat had arrived at a new sampling site, west of the oil leak, and the instruments were traveling once again to the bottom. In a clean ocean, they would be expected to produce fairly straight lines on a graph.

Instead, wild squiggles were showing up. The display looked like one of those seismograph readings taken in the throes of an earthquake. At three different depths, the instruments picked up plumes of material drifting through the deep ocean.

Dr. Asper stood back, arms crossed, watching the squiggles appear. “To see something like this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. “It’s really remarkable.”

Soon, a giant winch on the rear of the boat hauled special bottles back from the deep, carrying water samples. The younger researchers rushed to the rear deck.

Working quickly in a daisy chain, circling the bottles, they filled small vials and other containers, then hustled back to their makeshift laboratory on the main deck of the Walton Smith.

Over the next few hours, they filtered some of the water. They shook some samples. They stirred some. They pickled some. They bubbled gases through the water. They refrigerated some vials. They froze some more.

Then they got ready to do it all again.

Within a day, word would come that a separate university vessel, the Weatherbird II, had discovered a giant plume stretching in the other direction from the broken well, toward Mobile Bay. That one threatens some of the finest fishing territory in the gulf.

It will take weeks of laboratory work to confirm with certainty that the plumes are made of oil droplets, or more likely, some complex mixture of oil and natural gas. If that idea holds up, the existence of these undersea plumes may well turn out to be the major scientific discovery of the great oil spill of 2010.


Lees verder: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/29/science/earth/29plume.html?pagewanted=2&hp

vrijdag 28 mei 2010

Oil 73

Paul heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Oil 72" achtergelaten:

Steekt weer ergens anders de kop op
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/28/AR2010052802346.html?nav=rss_email/components


Anoniem heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "
Oil 72" achtergelaten:

In BBC's
"Today" vanochtend een geweldig interview met een prof in bio-oceanografie in Florida (hij huilt door zijn uitspraken heen over de schade).
Zegt ie opeens: "He, nou ik een echte Brit aan de lijn heb, kun je me zeggen of (hoofd BP) Hayward een Lord of een Duke is of zo? Hij moet erg belangrijk zijn. Elke keer als hij hier op TV komt zegt ie iets geks zoals 'de hoeveelheid olie die lekt is maar klein t.o.v. het water in de Golf van Mexico'".
Oftewel: die vent zit daar vanwege een erfenis, elk normaal mens zegt verstandiger dingen.

eGast

Israel als Schurkenstaat 168

Stan,
Ik kreeg net deze email van Meta Floor.
Corrie

Goede mensen,

Vandaag ontving ik een e-mail van Daoud Nassar van de Tent of Nations, een Palestijns christen in Bethlehem (zie onder). Velen van jullie hebben Daoud en zijn broer Daher ontmoet tijdens één van de reizen. Zij zijn belangrijke mensen voor mij; in hun eenvoud blijven zij volharden en houden vast aan het motto 'We refuse to be enemies'.

Daoud mailt mij dat hij gisteren NEGEN demolotion orders heeft ontvangen van het Israëlische leger. Bijna vijfhonderdduizend Joodse Israëli's wonen momenteel illegaal op de Westbank en hebben bewegingsvrijheid, huizen en toegang tot water en electriciteit. Daoud woont op zijn eigen grond, heeft de eigendomspapieren, maar hem wordt de meest basale rechten ontzegd. Hij schrijft: 'They are trying to destroy our spirit, but we are determined to resist and overcome the Evil with GOOD and justice will prevail.'

Ik mail zijn boodschap aan jullie door met de vraag om - als je tot een kerkelijke gemeenschap behoort - zondagochtend voorbede te vragen voor de familie Nassar. Daarnaast zal Daoud het zeker waarderen om een teken van meeleven en support te krijgen via de e-mail, dnassar@tentofnations.org

In het verlangen dat er eens gerechtigheid zal zijn voor de inwoners van dit land,
Meta Floor

Lees meer: www.tentofnations.org en http://www.metafloor.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=194&Itemid=68



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: dnassar@tentofnations.org
To: dnassar@tentofnations.org
Subject: Urgent Message from the Tent of Nations
Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 00:16:11 +0300

Dear Friends of Tent of Nations all over the world,



Today at 2.00 pm in the afternoon, 2 officers form the Israeli Civil Administration guarded by Israeli soldiers came to our farm and gave us NINE demolishing orders for nine ( structures) we built in the last years without a building permit from the Israeli Military Authority. The demolishing orders are for: tents, animals shelters, metal roof in front of both old houses, the restrooms (Shelters) , a water cistern, a metal container and 2 underground renovated cave structures. One officer was writing the demolishing orders and the other was taking pictures with two cameras, Israeli soldiers were following them everywhere and pointing their guns on us.



The demolishing orders were written in Hebrew and I refused to sign receiving them. We have 3 days only to react against those demolishing orders. The timing for delivering the demolishing orders was plant properly and purposely on Thursday, in order to make it difficult for us to try to stop those orders by the Israeli court within 3 days, because of the Jewish weekend (Friday and Saturday). The idea is to make it impossible for us to act quickly. I contacted our Lawyer and he will write an opposition and send it to the military court on Sunday morning. We hope to get a paper from the court through our Lawyer on Sunday morning to stop the demolishing orders.



We would like to ask you to be prepared and alert for actions, if anything might happen. We will keep you updated and will guide you for actions but please forward this E-mail to your friends. PLEASE be prepared for actions… Thank you for all your solidarity and support.



They are trying to destroy our spirit, but we are determined to resist and overcome the Evil with GOOD and justice will prevail.



Blessings and Salaam,



Daoud





Daoud Nassar

Director



Tent of Nations

-People Building Bridges-

P.O.Box 28

Bethlehem - Palestine

Tel: +972 (0)2-274 3071

Fax: +972(0)2-276 7446

Mobile: +972(0)522 975 985

info@tentofnations.org

www.tentofnations.org


Israel als Schurkenstaat 167

MENTALITY OF MADNESS RULES MANY IN ISRAEL

“…. if Israel felt backed against a wall it could turn aggressive.” (Noam Chomsky)

COULD TURN AGGRESSIVE???? What have they been until now?

That’s what I love about Chomsky…. he says it as he sees it…. but he might need new glasses.


Chomsky with Fadlallah (Photo: Reuters)

Chomsky: Israel has persecution complex

During meeting with Hezbollah spiritual leader Fadlallah, Jewish-American professor says mentality of madness rules many in Israel

Roee Nahmias

Jewish-American linguist Noam Chomsky met with the spiritual leader of the Shiite Muslims in Lebanon, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, on Thursday and told him that if Israel felt backed against a wall it could turn aggressive.

It is not possible to foresee what Israel will do, because if it feels besieged it could turn aggressive, Chomsky said. Israelis’ actions are based on a persecution complex, meaning that aggression would not be an option again except out of a “mentality of madness” which rules many in Israel.

Fadlallah said that the balance of forces do not enable Israel to attack Lebanon again. The existence of the insane mentality in the “Zionist entity” demands great care, he said, but this insanity will not push “the enemy” to suicide.

Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, said that the “opposition” has experience, capabilities, readiness on the ground and strategic plans that can overturn the “entity” and prevent the enemy from taking on new adventures against Lebanon.

According to Fadlallah, the main problem is the US policy and its reliance on the Zionist entity. This policy, he said, does not honor humanity or human beings. He added that his movement is against the Zionists but not against Jews or Judaism.

Some ten days ago Israel prevented Chomsky from entering the West Bank, where he had been invited to lecture at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. The prevention drew extensive criticism from academics and leftwing organizations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was compelled to comment, saying he had learned of the fact only through the press.

Security sources accused the Interior Ministry, saying it had acted alone when it prevented a Jewish professor to pass the Allenby border crossing. The Interior Ministry blamed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Source


http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/mentality-of-madness-rules-many-in-israel/

Oil 72

Schoonmakers verwijderen aangespoelde olie van een  strand in Louisiana.    Foto AFP Schoonmakers verwijderen aangespoelde olie van een strand in Louisiana.

Gepubliceerd: 28 mei 2010 09:13 | Gewijzigd: 28 mei 2010 10:00

Door Marcel aan de Brugh en Freek Staps

New York, 28 mei. De olieramp voor de Golf van Mexico is de ergste in de Amerikaanse geschiedenis. Zowel olieconcern BP als de Amerikaanse overheid heeft de ramp de afgelopen vijf weken veel kleiner voorgesteld. Er lekken twaalfduizend tot negentienduizend vaten olie per dag de zee in, in tegenstelling tot de door BP en de Amerikaanse overheid geschatte vijfduizend vaten.

Daarmee is de omvang van de ramp groter dan de olieramp veroorzaakt door het schip Exxon Valdez in 1989, waarbij miljoenen liters olie in de zee voor de kust van Alaska lekten. President Barack Obama laat weten dat het olielek catastrofaal is voor de getroffen regio.

Gisteren is Elizabeth Birnbaum, hoofd van de Minerals Management Service-afdeling van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken, ontslagen door de Amerikaanse regering. Birnhaums toezicht op olieboringen op zee zou te laks zijn geweest. Het is niet duidelijk of Birnbaum zelf ontslag nam, of dat ze hiertoe werd gedwongen. Birnbaum bekleedde de positie vanaf juli 2009.

De Minerals Management Service-afdeling ontvangt vaker kritiek en wordt beschouwd als een van de slechtst functionerende afdelingen van de Amerikaanse overheid.

Top kill

BP is momenteel bezig met alweer een nieuwe manier om de weglekkende olie op korte termijn te stoppen. Het olieconcern voert nu de ‘top kill’-operatie uit, waarbij dikke boorvloeistof in het olielek wordt gepompt. Tot dusverre is de operatie succesvol, laat Thad Allen van de Amerikaanse kustwacht weten.

Het is niet bekend of de strategie op de lange termijn zal werken, maar de operatie wordt in elk geval voortgezet. Volgens president Obama is de strategie „geen garantie voor succes” op de lange termijn. Hij waarschuwt dat het proces om het lek te dichtenmaanden kan duren.

Als de top kill-operatie faalt, heeft BP geen directe andere oplossingen voor handen. Eerder voerde het bedrijf een vergelijkbare operatie succesvol uit in het Midden-Oosten, maar niet op grote diepte – anderhalve kilometer onder de zeespiegel.

Zuinigheid

Mogelijk hebben zuinigheidsoverwegingen een rol gespeeld bij het ontstaan van de explosie die tot de ramp leidde. Enkele dagen voordat boorplatform Deepwater Horizon explodeerde, besloten werknemers van BP de boorput te omhullen op een manier die meer risico’s meebracht dan een andere beschikbare methode. Hierbij zouden financiële overwegingen een rol hebben gespeeld.

http://www.nrc.nl/economie/article2552764.ece/Olielek_ergste_in_geschiedenis_VS


Opvallend is dat de neoliberale NRC van Derk Sauer het immer geprezen streven naar maximale winsten nu ineens 'zuinigheidsoverwegingen' noemt. Wat is er met de redactie aan de hand?

Gaza Freedom Flotilla 7

Flotilla Set for Final Leg of Gaza Blockade-Busting Bid

NICOSIA - Hundreds of activists on Friday braced for the final leg of their attempt to bust the Gaza Strip embargo, a bid Israel vowed to defeat as each side accused the other of violating international law.

[Banner reads:'No to the Gaza embargo'. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)  ]Banner reads:'No to the Gaza embargo'. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Two cargo ships and five smaller boats loaded with thousands of tonnes of supplies and hundreds of passengers steamed towards a rendezvous off Cyprus where they planned to regroup before setting out for the Palestinian territory.

Organisers said an eighth ship, the Rachel Corrie that had left from Ireland, was lagging behind and would travel towards Gaza separately.

The ships will meet in international waters, they said.

"The Cypriot government does not want us to leave from Cyprus. I can only assume pressure was put on them," said Audrey Bomse, a member of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) that organised the flotilla.

A Cyprus government official said of the flotilla that Nicosia had not received any formal request from the Palestinian Authority for humanitarian aid.

Bomse told AFP that a plan to ferry about 25 multi-national MPs from Cyprus to one of the ships also had been abandoned.

"This is a group of MPs waiting to be ferried to another boat. The government said if we kept it quiet we would be able to do it but there was a huge amount of pressure and I suppose they gave in to Israel," she charged.

Bomse added that the plan had been modified, and the group would now try to get the MPs on board the flotilla from the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island.

"We will now have to go to the north and lose the Cypriot and Greek politicians, but we have members of parliament from Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Bulgaria. We are going to put them on a boat in Famagusta," she said.

Greece and Cyprus regard the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, where Famagusta is the main port, as an illegal entity.

Bomse said that the new arrangement had now delayed the flotilla's departure for Gaza until later on Friday.

Israel earlier told the ambassadors of Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, and Ireland -- the countries from which the ships set sail -- it "issued warrants that prohibit the entrance of the vessels to Gaza" and that the flotilla would be breaking international law.

Israel made it clear it intends to halt the vessels and detain the hundreds of people aboard in the port of Ashdod before deporting them.

Bomse suggested this may just be "sabre rattling."

"We are planning on getting there and staying in Gaza for two days," she said.

But Israel has stepped up its warnings in recent days and readied naval forces.

Organisers dismissed the claim that their blockade-busting bid is illegal.

"Most despicably of all, Israel claims that we are violating international law by sailing unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid to a people desperately in need," the FGM said in a statement.

"These claims only demonstrate how degenerate the political discourse in Israel has become."

Israel imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas -- an Islamist movement committed to the destruction of Israel -- violently seized power in the impoverished, overcrowded Palestinian territory.

Because of the blockade, only limited reconstruction has been possible in the wake of the devastating 22-day offensive Israel launched on December 27, 2008.

In New York, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday appealed to all sides to act with care and responsibility.

"We strongly urge that all involved act with a sense of care and responsibility and work for a satisfactory resolution," Ban's spokesman said.

Pro-Palestinian activists have landed in Gaza five times, with another three attempts unsuccessful since their first such sea voyage in August 2008.

To date, the aid has been largely symbolic, but organisers say the flotilla now under way is laden with 10,000 tonnes of aid, ranging from pre-fabricated homes to pencils.


http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/28-2

Oil 71

Ex-EPA Officials: Why Isn't BP Under Criminal Investigation?

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
(Illustration: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

Why hasn't the government launched a criminal investigation into BP?

That's the question several former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have been asking in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig last month that killed 11 employees and ruptured a newly drilled well 5,000 feet below the surface that has spewed tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf if Mexico.

Scott West, the former special agent-in-charge at the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, who spent more than a year probing allegations that BP committed crimes in connection with a massive oil spill on Alaska's North Slope in 2006, said the company's prior felony and misdemeanor convictions should have immediately "raised red flags" and resulted in a federal criminal investigation.

"If the company behind this disaster was Texaco or Chevron I would have likely waited a couple of days before I started to talking to people," West said. "And the reason for that is those corporations do not enjoy the current criminal history that BP does."

West, who Truthout profiled in an investigative report last week about the Bush administration's scuttling of West's criminal probe into BP in 2007, was harshly critical of the way the disaster has been handled by the government. He said in an interview that BP and the oil conglomerate's executives are "known as liars" and the fact that the government has treated "and continues" to treat the company with kid gloves is "outrageous."

"BP is a convicted serial environmental criminal," West said. "So, where are the criminal investigators? The well head is a crime scene and yet the potential criminals are in charge of that crime scene. Have we learned nothing from this company's past behavior?"

Bob Wojnicz, a former EPA special agent who conducted criminal investigations into the Olympic Pipeline explosion in Bellingham, Washington, in 1999 and worked with West probing the oil spill in Alaska that resulted from a severely corroded pipeline, agreed.

In the case of the Olympic pipeline explosion, which killed three children, Wojnicz said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), one of the agencies involved in the investigation, treated it "like an accident." But EPA "got involved right away and we looked at the incident and found apparent crimes and were able to make recommendations for charges. You can't really get to that point unless you have preliminary criminal investigation into what happened."

"So how Is BP somehow above being treated like any other criminal suspect?" asked Wojnicz, who is also an attorney. "Recall that they are not just criminal suspects - they are convicted criminals still on federal probation. This whole affair needs to be aired out thoroughly. There is more than enough information available to justify initiating a criminal investigation. The fact that this has not yet happened is evidence of either gross incompetence by government officials or complicity by those officials in covering-up the true nature of BP's conduct. Either of those possibilities is completely unacceptable and should be dealt with immediately and harshly."

West said the EPA, along with, perhaps, the FBI, would be one of the agencies to lead a criminal probe because of possible criminal violations of the Clean Water Act.

"At the end of the day if it turned out to be a God-awful accident then you go home," West said. "But everything is lost by waiting."

Attorneys Dispatched

On Wednesday, however, BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward said he had not been informed that BP is the subject of a criminal investigation.

Tracy Russo, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told Truthout that she could not comment on specific questions about whether or not a criminal probe has been launched.

But in a letter sent Tuesday to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Welch appears to confirm that the incident is still being treated by the government as a civil matter.

Boxer and six other senators who are members of the Environment and Public Works panel wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder May 17 requesting that he launch a "inquiry" to determine whether BP lied to the federal government about whether it could adequately respond to oil spills in the Gulf.

The senators' letter cited a February 2009 document BP sent to federal regulators that said, "in the event of an unanticipated blowout resulting in an oil spill, it is unlikely to have an impact based on the industry wide standards for using proven equipment and technology for such responses, implementation of BP's Regional Oil Spill Response Plan which address available equipment and personnel, techniques for containment and recovery and removal of the oil spill."

But on May 10, BP released a statement that said the "techniques being attempted or evaluated to contain the flow of oil on the seabed involve significant uncertainties because they have not been tested in these conditions before."

The company has also been accused of publicly lying about the volume of oil that began gushing out of the deep sea well, which government geologists now estimate could be five times higher than BP's own assessment.

Questions about the veracity of statements made by the likes of Hayward and others about the oil gusher has convinced Larry Schweiger, the president and chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, that BP has engaged in a massive cover-up.

"It is now clear that BP had hoped to cover up the damage of their oil spill by withholding video evidence of the size of the gushers and preventing independent analysis. In Washington, it's been said that 'it's not the crime, it's the cover-up' - but in this case, it's both the crime and the cover-up that are an outrage."

Although Welch told Boxer that the Justice Department's "long-standing policy" is to "neither confirm nor deny the existence of a [criminal] investigation" he said the agency has "sent formal demands to [BP], Transocean [the owner of the Deepwater Horizon] and other companies to ensure the preservation of potentially relevant information."

"These letters invoke legal requirements in anticipation of litigation," Welch wrote. "Department officials have spoken with BP and Transocean counsel to ensure they are complying with these demands."

The Justice Department would not release the letters agency officials sent to BP and other companies that calls for the preservation of the documents.

In his letter to Boxer, Welch added that three weeks ago Holder "dispatched a team of attorneys from the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) and the Civil Division within the Department to monitor the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and assess the legal position of the United States in the aftermath of this environmental disaster."

"The team, headed by Ignacia Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for ENRD, and Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, met with the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the rest of the response team in New Orleans, as well as with state officials," Welch wrote. "Subsequently, Ms. Moreno and Mr. West convened a meeting of all of the United States Attorneys in the Gulf region to assure a coordinated effort.

"The Department team is examining the full range of affirmative legal options that may be available to the United States. The team is providing daily legal advice and coordination for federal attorneys from across the Government, a vital function. Department attorneys also are defending the interests of the United States in suits brought by others."

While Welch's letter may allude to the possibility of a criminal investigation down the road, West said the correspondence makes clear that the disaster is still being treated as "an accident."

"The magnitude of this disaster rivals any we have seen and yet it is being treated as an accident by the government," said Scott West, who spent nearly two-decades at the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. "I bet there are 1,000 criminal investigators in the federal government looking at this and are asking 'what the heck is going on?' but they can't speak out of school. So I am going to give them voice."

By comparison, a pipeline rupture that occurred last November at BP's Prudhoe Bay operations, which resulted in a 46,000 gallon oil spill, immediately lead the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division to issue astatement saying the agency was working with the FBI to investigate the cause of the incident and to determine if any laws were broken.

"The (EPA) Criminal Investigation Division is continuing to work in concert with our federal and state partners, and British Petroleum, to assess the situation associated with the Nov. 29 rupture," said Tyler Amon, the acting special agent-in-charge of the Northwest office of the EPA's criminal division. "This matter is under investigation."

Furthermore, BP's probation officer, Mary Frances Barnes, told Truthout that the EPA and FBI's investigation will determine if BP Exploration Alaska violated the terms of its probation.

But in the Gulf, the longer the government waits to conduct a criminal probe, West and Wojnicz said, the harder it will be to obtain accurate information about the events that lead up to the explosion.

"As time passes, people's memories fade," West said. "It's just a natural thing. The subjects of the investigation (BP and senior managers) have had over a month to sanitize records and get stories straight."

West said there should have also been a subpoena immediately issued for emails and other documents that may shed light on the events leading up to the spill and the discussions that took place afterwards.

"The thing that has brought most criminals down is their email," West said. "The first thing you do is grab the servers so they can't be doctored. But this company does not appear to be under a court order to produce or preserve so what's to stop them from tampering with potential evidence?"

Jurisdiction

West said if he were the special agent-in-charge of the EPA's Dallas office, which has jurisdiction over the area of the Gulf where the Deepwater Horizon sank, he would have "dispatched criminal investigators immediately just as I did in March 2006, as the special agent-in-charge in Seattle when BP's negligence resulted in the dumping of crude onto the North Slope of Alaska."

Ivan Vikin is the EPA's special agent-in-charge assigned to the Dallas office that would have jurisdiction over the Gulf disaster. He did not return calls for comment. An EPA senior criminal investigator who works in another office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said officials in the criminal division "are under direct orders not to talk about this case."

"We were told to direct all questions [about the Gulf disaster] to headquarters," the EPA senior criminal investigator said. "But I can tell you that a criminal investigation has not been approved and for the life of me I can't understand why."

An EPA spokesperson did not return numerous calls for comment on whether Vikin has initiated a criminal investigation. Asked whether a criminal investigation could be proceeding, but conducted under the cover of secrecy, West said, based on his experience, if that were the case it would be "damn near impossible" to contain leaks.

"Sure, it's possible but highly unlikely," West said. "We're not hearing about guys with a gun and a badge knocking on doors and asking questions or subpoenas being issued for documents. If that were taking place we would know about it, especially on something this big. You're just not hearing about it and that's the first clue that a criminal investigation isn't happening."

Wojnicz agreed. He said if there was a criminal investigation the media would "be all over it."

"You can try, but you can't keep something like this secret," he said. "And you would think that this administration may do themselves a favor if they announced an investigation because of the public relations nightmare they are dealing with over their handling of it."

West said it's also possible that people in government have been saying "'if we start a criminal investigation then BP will clam up and we will lose their cooperation and right now we just need to stop the flow of oil and conduct a criminal investigation later."

"I've heard that argument over and over during my tenure and I challenged it and said it was bullshit. The EPA tried to pull that with me when I sent an agent up to the North Slope after the pipeline rupture saying my criminal investigators were 'getting in the way.' It's a ridiculous statement. Criminal investigators work with emergency responders all the time and do not get in the way. It takes experience to know how to challenge this kind of push back when you're faced with it. If that were the case with the Gulf, the criminal investigator could say 'if you keep it up I may have to make an obstruction of justice referral to the US attorney.' But who has the balls to do that?"

A Powerful Company

Jeanne Pascal was the debarment counsel at the EPA's Seattle office who spent more than a decade working on issues related to environmental crimes BP had been convicted of.

Debarment is a process that happens when a company is convicted of a crime and prohibited from receiving government contracts for a certain time period. Pascal first started working on debarment with BP when the company was convicted of a felony in connection with illegally dumping hazardous waste in the late 1990s in Alaska.

In an interview, Pascal said there "doesn't appear to be a criminal investigation and there should be."

"This is a company that views itself as above the law," Pascal said. "Now why is that? The only thing I can come up with to explain the failure to launch a criminal investigation is that BP has so much political influence. Congress needs to step up if the president won't do the right thing. The FBI ought to be investigating this matter criminally along with EPA and [Department of Interior]. This is the fifth major incident committed by this company in 10 years."

She said the power the company wields might be due, in large part, to the fact that BP supplies the military with 80 percent of its fuel needs. Because of that, she had to proceed with caution. BP pled guilty to a felony in connection with a March 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City refinery, which claimed the lives of 15 employees and injured 170 others; BP pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for two oil spills in Alaska in March and August 2006 due to a severely corroded pipelines on which BP failed to perform maintenance; and, BP entered a deferred prosecution agreement related to price fixing scheme involving propane trading.

"If I had debarred BP while they were supplying 80 percent of the fuel to US forces it would have been almost certain that the Defense Department would have been forced to get an exception," Pascal said. "There's a provision in the debarment regulations that says in a time of war or extreme need exceptions can be granted to debarment so that federal agencies with critical needs can continue doing business with debarred contractors. I was in a quandary. If I moved forward with debarment we would have had a major federal contractor doing business with the federal government with no governmental oversight or audit provisions. I felt oversight terms and conditions were critical with BP, so I pursued settlement of the matter in the hopes of getting oversight and audit terms."

Pascal said she has observed similarities in BP's response to what happened aboard the Deepwater Horizon and the revelations that the company had been illegally dumping toxic waste at Endicott Island in that BP's initial response was then, and has been, to blame its contractors when, in fact, BP's "company man" on drilling rigs has control over drilling operations.

"When there is a failure they blame the contractor," Pascal said. "BP is the most retaliatory company I ever dealt with. They punish employees for bringing Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) concerns to the management or to regulators. BP management then fails to take responsibility. They manage the way they operate with profit foremost in their minds."

A major criticism shared by West, Wojnicz and Pascal is that Obama has moved forward with an independent commission to study what caused the disaster and make sure it doesn't happen again without the commencement of a criminal investigation and the subpoena and testimonial powers that gives the government the ability to compel documents and witness testimony. A civil approach relies too heavily on the veracity of what the company will be willing to disclose; and in this situation thoroughness is critical.

Wojnicz said a presidential commission "is a feel-good measure that the White House is putting out there to show they are making some kind of inquiry."

"They'll call witnesses and ask for documents and give certain people all the time they need to figure out what they are going to say," Wojnicz said. "There really is no place for this right now."

West said he intends to keep the pressure on about the need for a criminal probe lead.

"Criminal enforcement of the nation's environmental laws is a powerful and effective tool to achieve compliance with those laws," West said. "EPA Criminal Investigation Division is the best entity available for this work, yet the managers within [the agency] are timid at best and obstructionist at worst. If they are not going to bring criminal enforcement to bear in this, the most egregious assault on our environment, then when will they? So if we, as a nation, want the criminal enforcement program to work as Congress intended, then we need to send the current crop of managers home and bring in new ones who will."

http://www.truthout.org/ex-epa-officials-why-isnt-bp-under-criminal-investigation59936

Oil 70




NEWS AMERICAS
Obama defends oil spill response
Obama acknowledged that the US government was unprepared for such a major disaster [AFP]

Barack Obama has defended his response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill saying his administration has considered "every recommendation" about stopping and containing the leak.

At a press conference on Thursday, the US president told reporters that his administration was "in charge" of the response to the spill, which has now dumped at least 26 million litres of crude into the sea.

"Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don't know the facts," Obama said at his first press conference in nearly a year.

Obama ignored charges that the spill was "his Katrina," a reference to former president George Bush's poor handling of Hurricane Katrina, the deadly 2005 storm that decimated the city of New Orleans.

IN DEPTH

He told reporters history would judge his response to the oil spill.

But the US president acknowledged that the government simply was not prepared to handle a disaster of this magnitude.

"There was a lack of anticipation about what the worst case scenarios would be, and that was a problem," he said.

'Top kill' progress

US Coast Guard officials say BP's latest effort to plug the well has stopped the flow of oil, at least temporarily.

The British energy giant began pumping heavy mud into the gusher on Wednesday, a process called the 'top kill.' The company hopes that the mud will cap the steady stream of millions of litres of oil.

In video


Al Jazeera's Anand Naidoo reports on economic and environmental risks facing Florida Keys

Thad Allen, the head of the Coast Guard, said early on Thursday that oil is no longer coming out of the well. But he said the well still has some oil pressure, which could theoretically cause a weak spot in the pipe to explode.

BP will now pump cement into the well to permanently seal it off.

Lisa Novak, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard, later said that Allen "did not declare success." But "things are going according to plan," she said.

BP officials struck a more cautious tone. In a press conference on Thursday, the company said it could be 24 to 48 hours before the results of the procedure are fully known.

MMS director resigns

Meanwhile, Liz Birnbaum, the head of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) - the US agency which oversees offshore oil drilling - announced her resignation on Thursday.

Birnbaum's agency has been heavily criticised in recent weeks for its close ties with the oil industry.

A report from the agency's inspector general, released earlier this month, documented MMS employees accepting gifts from oil companies and allowing workers on drilling platforms to fill out their own inspection reports.

Obama criticised the agency last week for having a "cosy relationship" with industry.

"I'm surprised it took this long," said Tyson Slocum, the director of Washington-based Public Citizen's Energy Programme, referring to Birnbaum's resignation.

"Her agency took too much of a permissive role in trying to regulate the oil industry. It's clear that there are incestuous relationships within that agency."

Ken Salazar, the US interior secretary, called her a "good public servant" during testimony on Thursday before the US House of Representatives.

Frustration

BP's fresh attempt to contain the spill comes as fishermen, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the coast become frustrated over the company's previous unsuccessful attempts to stop the leak.

The leak began after an offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

By the most conservative estimate, 26 million litres of crude have spilled into the Gulf, fouling Louisiana's marshes, coating birds and other wildlife and curtailing fishing.

But US officials say the actual tally could be much higher. At a congressional hearing on Thursday, the head of the US Geological Survey estimated the flow at up to 19,000 barrels of oil (3 million litres) per day.

The US coast guard approved the mud injection on Wednesday after scientists ran a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether the procedure could work - or if it could potentially make the leak worse.

The Empire 570

Reagan Revolution Home to Roost: America Drowning in Debt

by: Dave Johnson | The Campaign for America's Future

"Watch what we do, not what we say." (Famous Republican advice.)

The Reagan Revolution was first and foremost about cutting the taxes paid by the rich and corporations. Now, almost 30 years later, the United States of America is drowning in debt. And that is exactly what they wanted to happen.

The Plan

There were the reasons for the tax cuts Reagan said, and there was the plan Reagan had. Reagan SAID that there was this thing called the "Laugher" Curve that he said proved cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue. But what they were saying was a smokescreen, something to tell the rubes. Increasing government revenue was the last thing Reagan and his cohorts wanted. They knew (and have since said so) cutting taxes would lead to terrible deficits. They called this a "strategic deficit." This was the plan.

Bankrupting our government (We, the People) was the plan and today we can see that it was what they did. They didn't want revenue to increase because the idea was to "starve the beast." Reagan called it "cutting their allowance."

The plan was that by cutting the funding for government, government would have to cut back on what it does: regulating business, protecting regular people against powerful interests, building infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly. With government (We, the People) out of the way businesses could be unleashed and really start to make money. And for those who could afford to pay, private companies would take over those other functions. That was called "privatization."

Infrastructure? We had plenty of infrastructure back then – grab the cash now and worry about that later. (It's later now.)

So taxes were cut. And immediately the budget went into deficit and the government started borrowing. The debt started to grow. That was the plan. They said so.

Conservatives well understood that the public was not behind their plan. This was why it was explained as a way to increase government revenue. "Watch what we do, not what we say" is about tricking the public – deceive people by telling them you are doing one thing while really doing another. They knew that if the public came to understand their plan they would all be voted out of office. The idea was to force the other party to make the cuts.

Every time someone did try to cut the public outcry was enormous. So they just kept borrowing, intentionally trying to make the debt get so bad that eventually the government would be faced with bankruptcy.

Clinton, for a time, foiled their plans. In 1993 there was a hard-fought battle to raise taxes at the top by just a small amount. Every Republican voted against it. The public was saturated with lie after lie about how this would destroy the economy. Of course, the economy boomed in the 1990s following the Clinton tax increases and by the end of Clinton's term the government was paying off debt so quickly that Alan Greenspan called for Bush II to again cut taxes on the rich, saying it was dangerous to pay off the government debt – yes, the same Alan Greenspan who now says we have to get rid of Social Security to pay off debt. The plan.

Bush called restoration of deficits "incredibly positive news"

Seven months after taking office, George W. Bush learned that his budgets had already erased the previous administration's huge surplus -- that was paying off our country's debt at a rapid rate -- and had instead forced the country to start borrowing heavily again. Bush said the huge deficit was "Incredibly positive news'' because it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." That's right, massive deficits were "incredibly positive news." The plan.

Deficit Hawks Today

Now we're experiencing part two of The Plan: use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. The deficit cutters insist that the government should cease investment in infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly and protecting regular people against powerful interests. First and foremost they want to cut Social Security. They blocked a reasonable health care plan in the name of "less spending." They fight every effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs so that We, the People can get out of this unemployment emergency. (High unemployment puts tremendous wage pressure on the remaining workers.)

Are we going to fall for it? Are we going to walk right into part two of The Plan? Or are we going to restore the tax base, which is the lifeblood of democracy. Taxes on the wealthy and big corporations are what brings the ability of We, the People to control our own destiny instead of yielding always to the powerful interests.

This is the choice we are faced with. The "deficit hawks" are offering only The Plan. So far restoring the tax base back to where it was is off the table, not even to be discussed. Are we going to allow that? Or are We, the People going to fight back and demand that democracy be restored?

Previously: Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling and Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation.


http://www.truthout.org/reagan-revolution-home-roost-america-drowning-debt59819

Gaza Freedom Flotilla 6





beste Allemaal,
Hierbij het laatste nieuws over Anne de Jong - Nederlands enige deelneemster aan de vloot naar Gaza.
Anne de Jong is gisteren vertrokken richting Gaza. Anne bevindt zich op de 'Sumoud', de leidende boot van de gehele vloot. Zij zal fungeren als europese woordvoerdster.
Vanochtend stuurde Anne ons een bericht met het volgende nieuws: Als onderdeel van de strategie om Gaza te kunnen bereiken, zullen passagiers van de Sumoud en Ship of Hope overgeplaatst worden naar de grote Turkse boot. Kleinere boten zullen de 'Rachel Corrie' begeleiden (eerst 5 boten, en 2 dagen later 3 boten) in een tweede vaart.
De vloot verwacht zaterdag Gaza te bereiken.

vivian korsten.

Israel als Schurkenstaat 166


  • Published 07:48 27.05.10
  • Latest update 07:48 27.05.10

Amnesty: U.S., Europe shielding Israel over Gaza war crimes

In its annual report, the rights group accuses Israel of continually violating human rights in Gaza with its ongoing economic siege.

By Haaretz Service and News Agencies Tags: Goldstone Gaza report Israel news

Gaza war



A cloud of smoke billows over Gaza after an Israel Defense Forces strike during the 2009 war.

Amnesty International complained in its annual report released Thursday that the U.S. and members of the European Union had obstructed international justice by using their positions on the UN Security Council to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes allegedly committed during last year's Gaza war.


The rights group also accused Israel of continually violating human rights in the Gaza Strip. It cited Israel's ongoing economic blockade as violating international law, leaving Gaza residents without adequate food or water supplies

In its report, Amnesty lauded a United Nations commissioned report released last year by South African justice Richard Goldstone for highlighting Israeli violations during the war in Gaza. Goldstone's findings found both Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes during the conflict.

"Israeli forces committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip during a 22-day military offensive codenamed Operation 'Cast Lead' that ended on 18 January (2009)," the rights group said.

"Among other things, they carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, targeted and killed medical staff, used Palestinian civilians as 'human shields', and indiscriminately fired white phosphorus over densely populated residential areas," it added. "More than 1,380 Palestinians, including over 330 children and hundreds of other civilians, were killed."

"In a display of counter political bias, the UN Human Rights Council, initially resolved to investigate only alleged Israeli violations," said the report. "To his credit, Judge Richard Goldstone, subsequently appointed to lead that investigation, insisted that the UN Fact-Finding Mission should examine alleged violations by both Israel and Hamas."

The group's report listed examples of what it said were war crimes committed by Israeli forces, but did not provide details of sources.

Amnesty's annual roundup of global human rights abuses urged members of the G-20 — a collection of major industrial countries and fast-growing developing countries — to set an example to the international community by signing up to the International Criminal Court.

The United States and others have refused to ratify the court's founding treaty partly because they fear the court could become a forum for politically motivated prosecutions of troops in unpopular wars like Iraq.

The U.S. State Department said in response to Amnesty's accusations that it "supports the need for accountability for any violations that may have occurred in relation to the Gaza conflict by any party."

"As we have said, the responsibility to address alleged abuses during the Gaza conflict lies with the Israelis and the Palestinians," the State Department said in a statement.

Israel earlier this year submitted a 46-page response to Goldstone's inquiry, which accused both Israel and Hamas of "grave breaches" of the fourth Geneva Convention.

In its report, Israel claimed its forces abided by international law throughout the war last year.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/amnesty-u-s-europe-shielding-israel-over-gaza-war-crimes-1.292505