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Archive for April, 2010

‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Champions Silent On Gulf Oil Spill [UPDATED]

The Huffington Post |  Nico Pitney First Posted: 04-29-10 11:39 PM   |   Updated: 04-30-10 10:54 AM

UPDATE: Palin has made her first comments on the spill, scroll down to see.

More than a week has passed since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers, injuring over a dozen more, and causing a massive oil spill that may eclipse the Exxon Valdez.

Yet the two most prominent political champions of offshore drilling — Sarah Palin and Michael Steele — appear not to have uttered a word about the incident.

Not that either one of them has been completely silent. Sarah Palin has published four new messages on her Facebook page since the initial explosion, including a post on Thursday titled “The Straight-talking ‘Hockey Dad’ with a Message for Reform” and another defending Rev. Franklin Graham after he was asked not to attend a Pentagon prayer event.

Likewise, Michael Steele has issued at least six statements over the past week, including one on a new Republican National Committee web video, “Mr. Obama’s Wild Ride.”

And yet, if they do comment, it’s hard to imagine that Palin and Steele would take the same tone that they’ve typically used when discussing offshore drilling.

“Drill, baby, drill! And drill now!” Steele memorably chanted at the Republican National Convention in 2008. “Do you want to put your country first? Then let’s make decisions about our security based on what keeps us safe and not on what’s politically correct,” he told the crowd.

MORE HERE

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FBI Investigating Fed Officials And Massey Energy Over Possibly Bribery

AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 04-30-10 11:19 AM   |   Updated: 04-30-10 11:40 AM

NPR News reports that the FBI is investigating the possible bribery of federal officials overseeing mining industry regulation by Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine that exploded three weeks ago, killing 29 miners.

“The Mine Safety and Health Administration is the target of a federal criminal investigation,” NPR notes, and “FBI agents are also exploring potential criminal negligence on the part of Massey Energy.”

The nation’s top mine safety official told lawmakers earlier this week that the government will start going directly to federal court to shut down mines that make a habit of ignoring safety.

Joe Main, director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said his agency has had the power to seek federal injunctions for years, but has never tried to use it.

“I can’t speak for past administrations,” Main said during the Senate’s first hearing on the accident that killed 29 men. “We’re going to use it.”

Main also called for a slew of other legal and regulatory reforms to beef up safety enforcement in the wake of this month’s deadly explosion at a mine in West Virginia.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee convened the hearing to look at weaknesses in current laws that encourage mine operators and companies in other industries to challenge safety violations to delay stiffer penalties.

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Justin Timberlake -What Goes Around

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Crooks and Liars- By John Amato Thursday Apr 29, 2010 1:00pm

The hits keep coming in for Arizona’s Tancredo/Buchanan bill. The Mayor of Phoenix is no fan of this legislation and said this on Friday:

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon says seniors, kids and out-of-staters should be wary of the Arizona immigration bill signed into law this past week — warning that it puts them at risk of being arrested.

The law makes illegal immigration a state crime. It gives police the authority to question people about their immigration status and arrest those who cannot show documentation to establish their legal residency.

Gordon, a staunch opponent of the state law, said that means anyone who doesn’t carry an Arizona license — children under 16, seniors who don’t drive and people from out of state — could be “at risk of being arrested and turned over to (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).”

“It tramples civil rights,” Gordon told Fox News on Sunday. “Now everyone has to show and prove that they’re a legal resident or citizen.” The mayor of Arizona’s largest city is at odds with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill Friday and described the legislation as her state’s answer to “decades of inaction and misguided policy” in Washington.

If I thought like Sarah Palin I might say that Arizona was more interested in ‘Arresting Grandma’ than solving the real immigration problem. Gordon makes good points on FOX because he’s talking about demographics in our society that will be out at risk. The elderly are always caught up on the down side of an issue when there are massive changes to laws like this.

Bill Hemmer does his FOX News best by quoting the odious Sheriff Arpaio, who says more people will come to Arizona because the state has become safer. Gordon smacked him around by saying that Arpaio is only making up his own statistics and noted that he’s actually under criminal investigation for civil rights violations. Sheriff Arpaio is one of those trusted FOX News sources. I should also include that most of the MSM uses Boss Tweed all the time. And there are plenty of reports in the news now saying that Arizona businesses are very afraid that this law will drive business away.

“Our members are concerned,” said Debbie Johnson, president and CEO of the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, which represents hundreds of hotels, bed and breakfasts and resorts in the state.

“They’re hearing from a lot of folks who visit and they’re obviously concerned with where this is playing out.”

On April 28th he told CNN that he’s going to sue Arizona’s bill:

Mayor Phil Gordon’s planned lawsuit contends Arizona’s recently passed immigration law is too vague and unenforceable.

The police will enforce it just fine. I bet taser sales go through the roof and I bet that’s one convention that won’t be cancelled.

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Lawsuits Over AZ Immigration Law Filed By Police Officer, Latino Group

BY JONATHAN J. COOPER and PAUL DAVENPORT | 04/29/10 04:58 PM | AP

PHOENIX — Anger mounted Thursday over an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration as a police officer filed one of the first lawsuits challenging the law and activists gathered outside an Arizona Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, chanting “Boycott Arizona.”

The lawsuit from 15-year Tucson police veteran Martin Escobar is one of two filed Thursday, less than a week after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law that’s sparked fears it will lead to racial profiling despite the governor’s vow that officers will be properly trained.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government may challenge the law, which requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

Escobar, an overnight patrol officer in a heavily Latino area of Tucson, argues there’s no way for officers to confirm people’s immigration status without impeding investigations, and that the new law violates numerous constitutional rights.

MORE HERE

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Intelligence officer says officers did not know rules on treatment of prisoners and one tried to mount ‘arse-covering exercise’ after Baha Mousa’s death

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian/UK, April 27, 2010

Baha Mousa inquiryBaha Mousa, a Basra hotel worker, was beaten to death in 2003 while in the custody of 1 Battalion Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. Photograph: Liberty/PA

An officer of the regiment detaining Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel worker, when he was beaten to death said his soldiers held the view that “all Iraqis were scum”, it was disclosed today.

One officer tried to mount an “arse covering” exercise after Mousa’s death, while others expressed ignorance of basic rules covering the treatment of prisoners, the public inquiry into the incident heard.

Continues >>

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By Joanne Mariner, Counterpunch, April 28, 2010

Congress is holding hearings this week on the legality of the US government’s drone warfare program. Conducted by the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the hearings will examine the CIA’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles – commonly known as drones – to fire missiles at suspected militants in Pakistan and elsewhere.

While the Bush administration had an active drone warfare program, US reliance on drones increased greatly after President Obama took office. According to Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann of the New America Foundation, who have carried out a study of the drone program, the Bush administration carried out a total of 45 drone strikes in eight years, whereas the Obama administration carried out 53 strikes in 2009 alone. The pace of such attacks quickened even further in 2010.

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The violation was known as “vagrancy.” If you were a black man in the South following Reconstruction, and you were unable to show proof of employment on-demand to the police, you could be arrested and delivered into what Douglas Blackmon, author of Slavery by Another Name, calls “Neo-Slavery.”

“Show me your papers” in the vernacular of the late 19th Century through World War II involved furnishing pay stubs or, if you were lucky, the word of your employer — some kind of evidence proving to a police officer that you were employed.

But what if you forgot to carry your employment records with you when you left the house that morning? What if you were — like so many regular citizens — unaware of the anti-vagrancy law? Hell, what if you were simply unemployed? It might be your last mistake as a free citizen of the United States.

Like so many other African American males of that era, you might be incarcerated, convicted and perhaps sold to a farming, mining or lumber operation. Yes, sold. After the Civil War. After the abolition of slavery and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Slavery, it turns out, survived.

In the Spring of 1908, a young African American son of slaves living in Alabama named Green Cottonham was arrested at a train station. We don’t know for sure what law Cottonham had violated to warrant his arrest because, at his trial, the arresting officer literally forgot the reason why Cottonham was picked up in the first place. So the charge of vagrancy was substituted. Cottonham convicted and sentenced to 30 days of hard labor, but since he was poor and couldn’t pay several intentionally impossible-to-pay fines, the 30 day sentence grew to a year. He was carted off and “legally” sold for $12-a-month to U.S. Steel. At age 22, Green Cottonham was shoved into a coal mine as a manual laborer — occasionally whipped and tortured, eventually dying before the end of his sentence.

Vagrancy and a wide variety of other similar violations were intentionally broad and trivial — not intended to clean up the streets, but, instead, to suppress the advancement of blacks, as well as to feed the engines of agriculture and industry in the South with cheap forced labor.

This was a back-door slave trade, ensnaring hundreds of thousands of African American men. The Southern judicial system, fueled by ridiculous laws and ridiculous trials, became an above-boards means of rebuilding the South on the backs of slave labor. And it flourished until just after Pearl Harbor when President Roosevelt asked the Justice Department to shut it all down for fear the Germans and Japanese would use it against us in their propaganda.

(more…)

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