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Fools' Errand: BP Well Closure Attempt Not Working as Hoped

By Dave Lindorff

The Coast Guard is conceding this afternoon that the pressure is not building up as hoped in the blown-out BP Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising concerns that the pipe that runs from the surface down through the bore to the oil reservoir 13,000 feet below the sea bottom has lost its integrity, and is allowing oil under high pressure to leak out into the surrounding concrete and rock outside the pipe, where it can and likely will make its way to the waters above.

So far so good, but hang on to your hat: This Thing's Gonna Blow!

By Dave Lindorff

What the hell are they thinking in Washington, and down at the “Unified Command” in New Orleans, letting BP try to close off the oil volcano spewing out the top of the damaged Blowout Preventer (BOP) stack?

And what the hell is the mainstream press doing not asking about the clear evidence of oil or gas spewing out under pressure from cracks in the seafloor around the base of the BOP? (See the image of oil spewing from the sea floor here.)

Sure the initial partial closing of the valves is working, but they haven’t built up much pressure yet, and a lot could go wrong. seriously wrong, and there’s good reason to think it will.

If You Want to Do Something Illegal in America, Do Something Spectacularly Illegal

By Dave Lindorff

If you want to avoid facing a tough prosecution for malfeasance, be a banker, not a biker.

That appears to be the lesson of Saturday’s front page of the Wall Street Journal, where the lead story was about how Bank of America repeatedly hid its massive bad debt holdings from regulators and investors through a creative accounting device called “repurchase agreements,” and the second story, just above the fold, was about how US Food and Drug Administration prosecutors are “Casting a Wider Net” investigating the use of steroids by competitive cyclists.

The Battle Between the First and Second Amendments

By John Grant

There is a contest going on in America between the First and Second Amendments as to which has more favor in our court system. It's a face off between gun violence and freedom of the press and it involves individuals, giant corporations and standing armies.

Last week in Oakland, CA, demonstrations followed the manslaughter conviction of a white police officer who claimed he had meant to shoot a young black man with his Taser but grabbed the wrong item from his belt. That whole incident was “shot” by two citizens with cell phones.

Deciding what trumps what in this kind of conflict between rights is an issue relegated to the Supreme Court, an aloof entity accountable to no one. The question that should concern every American though, is how this court and those below it have their fingers on the scale when it comes to the first two amendments of the Constitution.

A New Year's subway shooting

South Africa: The Ugly Underside of World Cup Soccer Mania

By Linn Washington

Soweto, South Africa – Less than seven miles from the carefully crafted glitter of Soccer City, the host complex for the World Cup, two legendary South African football players told fascinating often fearsome stories that powerful people want suppressed.

Two days before the recent World Cup championship match won by Spain “Smiley” Moosa and Nkosi Molala spoke at a community center in Soweto discussing their lives under apartheid and that ugly era’s lingering legacy on South African society.

Moosa and Molala both made their marks on South African soccer in the 1970s.

Under apartheid’s rigid racial categories Moosa carried the classification of Indian while Molala was African – designations barring these talented players from South Africa’s then whites-only national team.

Moosa holds the distinction of being the first non-white ever to play for an all-white soccer club in South Africa.

We Need Some Journalists With Guts to Take on the Government and BP!

By Dave Lindorff

The Obama administration and BP have clearly been conspiring to hide the magnitude of the Gulf oil catastrophe from the public. One way they're doing this is by threatening jail terms and $40,000 fines against those who go to document the fiasco.

That is ridiculous. There is not a conceivable justification for banning the media from fully covering this environmental disaster.

Capitalism is an Anti-Social Disease

By Dave Lindorff

Looking at the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, where impact of the greed of corporate executives at British Petroleum, TransOcean and Halliburton, not to mention the greed of paid-off regulators in the Minerals Management Service and the members of the House and Senate who took dirty money to water down drilling regulations is evident, I was reminded of a prominent business leader in New York, recently deceased.

Told by his sister of a young woman she knew who had posted a sign on her wall saying, “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have,” this executive, who had held a top position in the media, sniffed, “Ugh! That’s terrible. If people thought like that, no one would strive to do anything.”

Oil-Soaked Congress Tries to Clean its Plumage in Time for Election Day

By James Ridgeway

The way the Washington Post reported the story, Congress has finally pushed through “tougher” off-shore drilling regulations for oil companies. 

Two key Senate committees approved legislation before the July 4 holiday that purport to change the way the federal government regulates offshore oil drilling and that penalize companies for oil spills. Both measures passed on bipartisan voice votes. One approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee would raise the civil and criminal penalties for a spill, require more safety equipment redundancies, boost the number of federal safety inspectors and demand additional precautions for deep-water drilling. The other, passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee, would remove a $75 million limit on oil company liability and would retroactively remove the liability cap for BP and the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Long Wars, Violence and Change in America

By John Grant

It’s tough these days being a non-violent peace activist. Many see the notion of “peace is the way” as laughable, and the government equates peace with military domination.

The bi-partisan War Party in America won’t budge from its imperial wars despite majority polls and protests urging they do so. The right-wing base continues to narrow its range of toleration on everything. And the courts come down on the side of corporations, state power and a culture that has elevated guns into a religion.

I’ve worked in the peace movement for 30 years, and I believe in non-violently speaking truth to power. But the prospects for peace have never seemed gloomier or the situation more absurd.

Camp-following cheerleaders like ABC’s Martha Raddatz’s and others like her aside, General Stanley McChystal’s frustrations as revealed in a Rolling Stone article were a profound window into the fact the counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan is going badly.

Obama warns corruption erodes faith in government: Hillary Clinton Blasts Steel Vise of Government Crushing Dissent

By Dave Lindorff

Finally, a politician has stood up and boldly denounced the creeping fascism that is gradually crushing democracy and political activism.

Not mincing her words, or trying to justify the jackboot, Secretary of State and 2008 presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton roundly condemned government actions that she said are “closing in the walls” on unions, rights advocates and organizations that press for social change or that shine a light on government shortcomings.

“Democracies don’t fear their own people,” she declared in ringing tones. “They recognize that citizens must be free to come together to advocate and agitate.”

Clinton even got the normally taciturn President Obama to join her, releasing a statement in which he said he was concerned about “the spread of restrictions on civil society, the growing use of law to curb rather than enhance freedom, and wide-spread corruption that is undermining the faith of citizens in their government.”

Afghan War Funding: Oh It's 1-2-3 What Do We Spend It On?

By Dave Lindorff

Just days before we celebrate the 224th anniversary of America’s declaration of independence from a colonial overlord on the other side of the world, Congress approved the allocation of yet another $33 billion in funds to support America’s attempt to occupy and run, on the other side of the world, the incredibly poor nation of Afghanistan.

That’s $33 billion for a ninth year of war in a country that is being described apocalyptically by our leaders as America’s greatest existential threat, though in truth it is a landlocked nation of mostly illiterate and impoverished tribal peoples who for centuries have been occupied with battling each other, and most of whom have no idea where America is, or perhaps even if the world is round or flat. Afghanistan, in short, makes Saddam Hussein’s WMD-less Iraq look like a superpower.

George Washington's Slaves Slept Here: History of the Philly White House in Black&White or Just White?

By Linn Washington Jr.

Revered residence or house of horrors?

Intense controversy surrounds the President’s House project now under construction on America’s historic Independence Mall in downtown Philadelphia.

The multi-million dollar project located outside the iconic Liberty Bell, only a few steps from Independence Hall where America’s Founding Fathers declared freedom, commemorates the nation’s first Executive Mansion where two U.S. presidents lived, including George Washington.

The most inflamed controversy centers around who else lived in that rented residence with Washington and his wife Martha.

Washington, the general whose armies secured America’s independence during the Revolutionary War, kept slaves inside that house, many of whom slept in an area now literally on the doorstep of the Liberty Bell Pavilion.

The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus

By Dave Lindorff

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

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

Holding our Soldiers Accountable

By John Grant

The US Army is holding Specialist Bradley Manning incommunicado in Kuwait, under charges of leaking to WikiLeaks video of Apache helicopter pilots gunning down two Reuters cameramen and a number of Iraqis in a Baghdad neighborhood. The video is devastating in what it reveals about cold-blooded hi-technology warfare in a place like Baghdad. See it at: Collateralmurder.com

WikiLeaks has arranged for three pro-bono lawyers to assist Manning in his case. However, Manning must request for them to see him. Since the Army will not inform Manning of their existence, he cannot ask for them to see him. Joseph Heller would love it, a perfect Catch 22.

Prosecutors Perpetuate Prejudice in Jury Selection

Linn Washington Jr.

After spending more than ten years in jail without a formal sentence, Curtis Flowers now can point to another unenviable distinction – he’s the first person in U.S. history subjected to six murder trials for the same crime.

Two of the five previous trials of this Mississippi man charged with the 1996 murder of four people in a rural town ended in jury deadlocks. State courts voided Flowers’ three convictions, each time citing outrageous misconduct by prosecutors.

One instance of prosecutorial error in the tortured Flowers trial saga involved biased jury selection procedure so egregious that Mississippi’s Supreme Court tagged it the worst case of “racial discrimination we have ever seen…” – an extraordinary declaration considering that state’s history of over-the-top racism.

It's the War Stupid!

By John Grant

Following the tidal wave of media buzz over General Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone, you quickly notice the story succumbing to the gravity of our media-circus culture, to the point it has become a story about celebrity and score keeping.

Would Obama fire McChrystal? How will the scandal tarnish the various individuals mentioned: US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke National Security Advisor James Jones? Who will come out on top of the heap and who will be banished into oblivion?

The real, existential questions about the war in Afghanistan that should be discussed in our highest public forums are somehow always lost in the excitement of watching careers on the high wire.

The Dead Hand of Ronald Reagan Rises from the Gulf

By Dave Lindorff

As the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew out ever more toxic oil and methane into the sea, floating toxic sludge, by the millions of gallons, starts destroying the wetlands across the American Southeast, the dead hand of President Ronald Reagan is at work, making sure nothing is done to prevent yet another such disaster from occurring.

The name of that dead hand is Martin Leach-Cross Feldman, a federal judge in Louisiana, a part of the notoriously right-wing Fifth Circuit.

Barky Pyton's Dead Pelican Society

By Charles M. Young

CUSTOMER: I wish to register a complaint.

CLERK: Sorry, mate, it’s time for lunch.

CUSTOMER: Never mind about that, my lad. I wish to complain about this pelican that I purchased not half an hour ago from this very Oval Office.

CLERK: What’s wrong with it?

CUSTOMER: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. It’s dead. That’s what’s wrong with it.

CLERK: Naw, mate, he’s resting.

CUSTOMER: I know a dead pelican when I see one. And I’m looking at one right now.

CLERK: No no, he’s resting. Remarkable bird, eh? Beautiful plumage.

CUSTOMER: The plumage don’t enter into it. He’s covered with oil.

CLERK: No, that’s his natural color. He’s a Louisiana brown...

For the rest of this story, please go to ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper, at: www.thiscantbehappening.net

Deep Horizon

A poem by Gary Lindorff

(This poem appeared first in ThisCantBeHappening)

Looking out across the gulf
Of our mistakes, accidents and crimes
I see a murky horizon
Blurred by the brine of a tear
That is taking its time
Gaining enough weight
To trail down my cheek.
The deep horizon of this grief
Is far deeper than I thought. 
Was I foolish to come?
Didn’t I know that any space so hollowed
And left empty, 
Even for an instant, 
Fills with the tears of those
Who wept before us?
Such a weight, such a gulf,
Such a deep horizon. 
Even the crabs, the flattest of nations,
Cannot squeeze beneath
This mile-deep grief.
Fish roast in the sun
Like blackened shavings 
Of silver and copper;
In solidarity, 
I mimic their down-turned mouths.

. . .Sickened by the smell of the air we have made. . .

I come here to wade knee deep
Into this ruined place
And try to feel what we’ve done,

The Pentagon's Afghan Minerals Hype

By James Ridgeway

Last week, the New York Times ran a story headlined, ”US Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan.’’ Talk about old news! The country’s  mineral wealth has been known for centuries. Records of it date back to the time of Marco Polo.

Yahoo News points out that more recently, McClatchy Newspapers reported that this last year, Agence France Presse has written about it and Afghan President Hamid Karzai himself has boasted of the nation’s wealth . Afghanistan’s mineral reserves were mapped by the Soviets during their occupation of the country, and more recently by other mining experts. It’s possible that the team of Pentagon officials and American geologists credited with the “discovery” by the Times may have added some detail to existing knowledge on the subject, but it’s hardly the revelation their reports–and the article–suggest.

Truth Through a Soda Straw

John Grant

The truth about American politics is this: disguised by the theatrics of squabbling Democrats and Republicans, Washington governs according to limits prescribed by a fixed and narrow consensus. The two main parties collaborate in preserving that consensus. Doing so requires declaring out-of-bounds anything even remotely resembling a fundamental critique of how power gets exercised or wealth distributed.
-Andrew Bacevich

Barack Obama has two serious leak problems.

One is a real leak -- of oil from the bowels of the Earth into the Gulf of Mexico and onto the shores of the Gulf States. The other is a metaphoric leak -- of information from the vast reservoir of secrecy our military and its wars have become.

Dishonesty, the notion of “too big to fail” and Bacevich’s consensus are at the core of both leak problems.

Eyewitness to the Israeli Assault on the Mavi Marmara

By Dave Lindorff

Kevin Neish of Victoria, British Columbia, didn’t know he was a celebrity until he was about to board a flight from Istanbul to Ottawa.  “This Arab woman wearing a beautiful outfit suddenly ran up to me crying, ‘It’s you! From Arab TV! You’re famous!’” he recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she told me, ‘I saw you flipping through the Israeli commando’s book! It’s being aired over and over!’”

A soft-spoken teacher and former civilian engineer with the Canadian Department of Defense, Neish realized then that a video taken by an Arab TV cameraman in the midst of the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza of him flipping through a booklet had been transmitted before the Israelis blocked all electronic signals from the flotilla. The booklet had pictures and profiles of all the passengers, and he'd found it in the backpack of an Israeli Defense Force commando.

Israeli Raid Coverage: American Media Fail Again

By Linn Washington Jr.

An American art student loses an eye when struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) personnel breaking up a demonstration in the occupied West Bank which itself is a protest against the deadly commando raid on the Free Gaza flotilla.

No, you didn’t miss U.S. news media coverage of this IDF attack on 21-year-old Emily Henchowicz, a student at Cooper Union in New York City who was standing with a group of foreigners during that demonstration near a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

You didn’t miss it because the mainstream media in the U.S. ignored it.

Apparently news of Henchowicz’s maiming was not news deemed worthy enough for print in the New York Times or Washington Post or meriting broadcast network/cable news attention.

It’s no surprise that the avowedly right-wing FOX ignored this incident, but the liberal-leaning MSNBC ignored this story also.

A government gone mad, a media gone flaccid: Attacking the Wrong People

By Dave Lindorff

By Dave Lindorff

What does it say about the the American government, its president, and its military today, that the the largest military/intelligence organization in the history of mankind has launched a global manhunt for Julian Assange, head of the Wikileaks organization? And what does it say about corporate American journalists that they attack the only real journalist in the White House press corps, when she alone has shown the guts to speak truth?

The Hunt for Julian Assange

Israeli Lies Exposed: Smuggled Clip Shows IDF Executing Injured Activist (Possibly the American Furkan Dogan)

By Dave Lindorff

The false narrative initially put out by the Israeli government of hapless IDF commandos severely threatened by hardened "terrorists" on the Mavi Marmara has fallen apart, amid revelations of doctored photos, dubbed voices and other deceptions and the patent absurdity of the claim that the commandos had boarded the ship armed only with "paint guns" and low-caliber pistols. Now the Big Lie stands fully exposed, thanks to a smuggled-out video showing IDF commandos kicking a prone, helpless victim and then executing him with semi-automatic rifle fire.

This smuggled video, showing IDF commandos brutally kicking their captive, who is clearly posing no threat to them, and then firing four shots down at him from almost point blank range, proves these commandos were on the ship with intent to kill and injure, and that is what they did.

Milo Minderbinder in Afghanistan

By John Grant

1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder
:
"We're gonna come out of this war rich!"

Yossarian:

"You're gonna come out rich. We're gonna come out dead."

-From the Buck Henry screenplay of Catch 22

No one has captured the absurd spirit of US war-making better than Joseph Heller in Catch 22. Here’s one of the greatest literary symbols for capitalism, Milo Minderbinder, on the future of US warfare:

"In a democracy, the government is the people," Milo explained. "We’re people, aren’t we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry."

Does the Ruling Class Really Want to Commit Suicide?

By Charles M. Young

Last March I went to the Left Forum in New York, which is a yearly gathering of liberals, progressives, anarchists, socialists, communists, hippies, punks, mystics, conspiracy theorists and anti-conspiracy theorists who are all trying to figure out how to get to a decent future from the indecent present. Nobody, of course, knows how to do that. There may not even be a path to a decent future from the indecent present, but I always find the Left Forum hopeful because a few thousand people in one place are at least putting their minds to the problem.

Backing the Wrong Side: Eva Golinger's Tamil Libel

By Ron Ridenour

“Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse threatens to hang his partner in war crimes, former general Sarath Fonseka, in an indictment for “perpetrating genocide against Tamil civilians.”
-- BBC TV Hardtalk, June 7

On June 7, BBC presenter Stephen Sackur confronted Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, brother to Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse, with an assertion by Sarath Fonseka, former general who had led the final bloody assault against the Tamil Tigers, that he would testify before any independent investigation about alleged government abuses during the Tamil war. “I will not hide anything,” Gen. Fonseca had vowed.

Defense Secretary Rajapakse responded to the BBC interviewer, “That’s a treason. We will hang him if he do that.”

American Media Hide the Evidence: Did Israeli Troops Execute or Murder the Mavi Marmara Victims?

You want to know why we need independent journalism, and why those of you who are reading this article need to support the publication in which it is appearing and well as the one for which I originally wrote it? Because if you rely for your news on the US corporate media, whether ad-supported or underwriter-supported, you won’t learn that Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old American citizen slain by Israeli commandos in the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla May 31, was shot in the back and in the back of the head, as well as multiple times in the face.

This is the conclusion of the autopsy conducted by the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine, which also did autopsies on the eight other Turkish citizens killed in the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ferry and five other smaller boats in the so-called Freedom Flotilla. Of the other eight dead, the medical examiners found that five had been shot in the back, or in the back of the head.

This Can't Be Happening...Happens!

By Leslie Thatcher

On Sunday May 18, Truthout's Leslie Thatcher interviewed veteran reporter, master raconteur and founder of the This Can't Be Happening web site, Dave Lindorff. Dave's remarkable background - and that of his three colleagues at the new "news collective" - informs the style, content and unmistakable attitude the new venture brings to Internet journalism.

>b?

Leslie Thatcher for Truthout:

So who are you, Dave Lindorff?



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