Monday, May 31, 2010

Jim March Responds to Bread and Beyond Open Carry Hysteria

As the Arizona Daily Star tries to push the public outrage over citizens exercising their right to "open carry", we at the Intercept present a point of view that counters the push to disarm the public. Enjoy!
I was one of the attendees at the last open carry dinner at Beyond
Bread in Tucson. There's a fair chance you noticed me, as it's rather
uncommon to carry a replica 1873 Colt "Peacemaker" single action
revolver and even less common to carry one with a holster bearing a
prominent yin-yang symbol. This was mainly a way to divorce myself
from the common stereotype of the "right wing Christian Conservative
gun nut".


Where do we start...

OK. Us "gun nuts" fully understand that we're a minority view - esp.
those of us who tend to pack daily, be it open carry or on a carry
concealed weapon (CCW) permit. The vast majority of the people at
that dinner (myself included) have CCW permits and mostly pack

We exist, we're fully legal, and the statistics from our behavior in
AZ and the other 40-ish states where we legally exist show that we're
not criminal threats to anybody. How you "feel" about us is one
thing, the facts of the matter are another.

You should be aware of a very, VERY firm rule we have for such events,
whether there's just one of us or hundreds: no gun comes out of a
holster, no holster comes off a belt. Period. Unless we're actually
threatened with deadly force and on a night like that? Heh. Pretty
unlikely :).

OK. So why were we there?

Three reasons which I'll explain in detail:

1) Hanging out with friends while "being ourselves".

2) Making sure that open-carry doesn't become a "police thing only" in
terms of either law or culture.

3) Acclimating our fellow citizens to the idea that yeah, there's
armed citizens among you, get used to it because it's our civil right.

Let's talk about 1 and 3 together. Where do you think we got the idea
of being "public" like that?


Quoting wikipedia:

On March 20, 1990, sixty LGBT people gathered at the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender Community Services Center in New York's
Greenwich Village to create a direct action organization. The goal of
the unnamed organization was the elimination of homophobia, and the
increase of gay, lesbian and bisexual visibility through a variety of

The direct-action group's inaugural action took place at Flutie's Bar,
a straight hangout at the South Street Sea Port on April 13, 1990. The
goals included a desire to make it clear to (straight) patrons that
queers would not be restricted to gay bars for socializing and for
public displays of affection, and to call attention to the fact that
most "public" space was in fact heterosexual space. Through parodying
straight behavior (such as "spin the bottle") at these events, queers
refused to be invisible while publicly questioning the naturalized
status of heterosexual coupling activity. Visibility actions like this
one became known as "Queer Nights Out."


Yup. I shit you not: we're coming "out of the gun closet" :).

Look, people have a basic urge to be themselves, and to not live their
lifestyle in hiding. Which is why gays come out of the closet a lot.

Why would you expect "gun nuts" to be any different?

More to the point, how is your discomfort at seeing folks strapped
really any different than prissy folks at a "straight bar" being
revolted by gays holding hands and tastefully kissing now and again?

There's no violence either way. There's no difference in "violence
level" between guns concealed or open carry for that matter. What's
different is perception.

Which varies over time. Gays are proof - 30 years ago in Tucson, any
two gays kissing in public would likely be arrested for disturbing the
peace, if they didn't get beaten to a pulp by law enforcement. Today?
Not so much.

Well if it works for them...?

Point 2 involves police attitudes and the law. See, if we don't have
an open carry right that's both legally and practically respected, we
end up with the situation in Texas, Florida and elsewhere in which
*accidental* exposure of our hardware gets us arrested and our carry
rights stripped away. One breeze catching a jacket and we're hosed.
And if some in law enforcement get their way, that's where we'll go -
because some cops see their open-carried gun (usually with a belt
badge worn next to it if they're plainclothes or off-duty) as "their
thing" - as a symbol of police authority. And they hate the idea of
sharing that symbolism with non-cops like me.

In a lot of states, open carry is technically legal but brings massive
police harassment, false arrest and sometimes even beatings.
Michigan, Wisconsin and Connecticut are all notorious for this sort of
thing, with frequent civil suits by gunnies falsely arrested or
harassed. Arizona doesn't have this problem YET but to keep it from
cropping up, we need to make sure that legal open carry is at least
slightly practiced and known.

Rights are like muscles - exercise 'em or lose 'em.

The goal is NOT to scare or offend people. We realize it may have
that effect sometimes, and we regret that. But we also have at least
as much right to exist and practice our beliefs as gays do, so we've
borrowed a major page from the playbook of "ACT-UP" and the like.

I know that connection is downright weird but it happened because
there's a younger, more Libertarian crowd of gunnies, some of whom are
actually gay, others like me who support gay rights, who have created
this admittedly bizarre cross-pollination of political action
techniques. Not to mention the Pink Pistols, literally the "Gay NRA":

In conclusion, I'm reminded of a conversation famous among us gunnies:

Anti-gunner: "why don't you damned gun nuts go off and form your own
country where you can all be armed any time you want!!!"

Gunnie: "we did - what the hell are you doing here?!"


Jim March

Turkish Media Reports of Murder List Provided to Israeli Soldiers

Kawthar Salam

Turkish sources and media revealed a document which shows that a death list had been prepared in advance by the Israelis, showing names and pictures of people on board of the ships to be murdered, who, according to Israel, were “involved in the International humanitarian aid for Gaza”. According to the Turkish sources, hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed the blue Turkish ship “Marmara” flotilla and they had copies of the death list. The list included the names of civilians on the fleet who should be killed”. The document was apparently recovered after one of the Israeli soldiers lost it during the piracy act.

The leaders of the Israeli gang of War criminals, the so-called “Israeli government” is currently engaged in inciting and planning to launch a nuclear war against Iran, was not able to do anything in response to the Turkish- Iranian-Brazilian agreement of last May 17 2010 to transfer 1.200 Kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for nuclear fuel. In retaliation, they perpetrated the massacre on the Freedom Flotilla of humanitarian aid-carrying ships aiming to break the Israel genocide of siege on Gaza imposed since 2006. The Turkish-Iranian-Brazilian agreement stood as an obstacle against the Israeli ambitions to force the world to enter into a spiral of bloody nuclear war. It is wrong to believe that the Turkish government was not expecting the massacre against the Freedom Flotilla which carried 10.000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Deck of an israeli gun boat.

The military maritime piracy and massacre operation carried out by Shayetet 13, a naval commando unit, in which at least 20 peace activists were murdered and over 50 were wounded, was a decision of the inner circles of power in israel and approved by the Israeli Cabinet headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and other war criminals. This Israeli massacre was a message addressed to Turkey and its new Iranian and Syrian allies. Anyone who knows to read between the lines and the history of Israel’s military leaders can understand that Israel has never distinguished between civilians and militants of the groups which are considered as enemies according to the non-logical standards of the zionists.

The Turkish Aid Ship, Marmara.

Israel committed a massacre against the Turkish ship “Marmara”, which carried humanitarian aid to the Palestinians besieged in the Gaza concentration camp. This massacre was well prepared by the Israeli cabinet, and some pro-Israel governments were informed with full details about the planned crime. Israel commissioned a special unit in the Marine Corps, deployed boats and helicopters patrolling the coast of Ashdod and Gaza and announced the waters off the coast of Gaza a closed military zone. They also announced via their propaganda organs of their intent to transfer the ships and the solidarity activists to the port of Ashdod before deporting them to their countries as illegal immigrants, and to arrest those who refused to identify themselves and sign a pledge not to return. They also prepared tents as detention units to jailing the activists and investigating them; the team of the interrogators which Israel choose to interrogate the peace activist was manned by people with experience as torturers and who had previously “worked” the Palestinian prisoners of the israeli gulag.

Israeli special forces helicopter.

The Israeli ships monitored the Freedom Flotilla from a distance of about 124 km away of the coast of Israel. According to the international movement, the passengers rushed to wear the safe jackets and raised the alert status as soon as the war ships were visible. The peace activists on board of the convoy stated that three Israeli ships spoke to the Turkish ship Captain over radio and warned him of the consequences of approaching the coast of Gaza which was declared as the a closed military area. They demanded from them to bring the humanitarian aid to the port of Ashdod, stressing that the Israeli navy would prevent the penetration a military closed area at any price, meaning that they would not shrink from murdering anybody.

Israeli gun boat, paid in full by German tax payers.

The ships were carrying 10.000 tons of medical supplies and building materials, timber, and 100 pre-built houses, for ten thousands of people who lost their homes due to the Israeli war crimes on Gaza early in the year of 2009. They also carried 500 electric vehicles for the use of disabled people, especially since the recent Israeli war crimes over 600 were left permanently disabled, with amputated legs.

The Israeli Arab Knesset MP Hanan Al-Zoubi had spoken through a loudspeaker in Hebrew with the Israeli military telling them to not attack ships carrying civilian peace activists and humanitarian aid. She added that during her appeal the Israeli soldiers fired live bullets at ships, which led to the wounding of civilians, among them the Arab-Israeli citizen Sheikh Raed Salah, who was shot and now in a critical conditions. She added: “the Israeli gunboats approached the “Caravan of freedom” and asked the captain of the ship to identify himself and the identity of the boat. The ships were in the International waters about 100 miles from Gaza. At this moment the Israeli helicopters attacked the ships from the sky.

Turkish sources and media revealed a document which shows that a death list had been prepared in advance by the Israelis, showing names and pictures of people on board of the ships to be murdered, who, according to Israel, were “involved in the International humanitarian aid for Gaza”. According to the Turkish sources, hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed the blue Turkish ship “Marmara” flotilla and they had copies of the death list. The list included the names of civilians on the fleet who should be killed”. The document was apparently recovered after one of the Israeli soldiers lost it during the piracy act.

Regarding the complicity of other foreign states in this crime, it has transcended that the Germans Parliamentarians who were on-board, Annette Groth, Inge Höger and Norman Paech, had repeatedly asked the German Foreign Ministry for support and protection, but were rebuffed and instead they were warned to get off the flotilla because of unspecified “dangers”. The strange attitude of Cyprus, which neither allowed the ships to enter port, nor allowed a delegation of Parliamentarians to board the ships, can in retrospect only be explained with the prior knowledge and complicity in the crime if the Cypriot regime.

In the end, Israel has carried out a horrific bloody massacre, and the victims were all civilians.The questions remain: Did Israel achieve its goals with the massacre on the Freedom Flotilla ship? Did Turkey and the other countries on Israel secret hate list (who are listed in secret as “hostile enemies”) receive the Israeli message? Which was the Israeli message? The answer to the first question is a clear now, and the coming days will reveal the answer to the second question and whether Israel really considers Turkey an enemy in secret. Whatever the answers to these questions, Israel should admit that the political equation has changed in the region and Israel and its allies can no longer change the politics.

In the best interest of everybody, Israel should understand that everything they do is against them and that it would be better to desist from further criminal actions. Also in the best interest of everybody, all other nations must understand that Israel no longer has any legitimacy whatsoever as a state, and that its continued existence as a state is undesirable in the extreme to everybody outside of the tiny corrupt elites which are its support base overseas.

German President Resigns Over "Telling it Like it Is"

New York Times

BERLIN — President Horst Köhler of Germany resigned Monday amid a barrage of criticism for remarks he made during a visit to Afghanistan.

It was the first time in four decades that a German president has quit the post, the nation’s highest even though it is largely ceremonial.

Mr. Köhler set off the criticism when he said in an interview with Deutschland Radio, the public broadcasting station, that German soldiers serving in Afghanistan or with other peacekeeping missions were deployed to protect German economic interests.

His resignation was another blow for Chancellor Angela Merkel, a close friend and an important conservative ally. She had lobbied hard for him to become president, first in 2004 and again in May 2009, and his departure came just a week after another leading conservative politician, Roland Koch, resigned as premier of the state of Hesse, saying he had had enough of politics.

Mrs. Merkel said Monday that she regretted Mr. Köhler’s decision to resign, adding that she had tried to persuade him to change his mind when he phoned her about his decision.

“I was very surprised,” Mrs. Merkel said. “We had had a very good cooperation. I respect his decision.”

In the radio interview, which was conducted on May 22, Mr. Köhler, a former director of the International Monetary Fund, emphasized the importance of the nation’s economy.

“A country of our size,” he said, “with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests, for example, when it comes to trade routes, for example, when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes.”

In a short resignation statement delivered alongside his wife, Eva Luise, he said he regretted his remarks and the way he said they were misunderstood. He said he could not remain in office in the face of such intense criticism and loss of confidence.

“I regret that my comments in an important and difficult question for our nation were able to lead to misunderstandings,” Mr. Köhler said.

He complained that some critics had suggested he supported military “missions that are not covered by the Constitution.”

“This criticism lacks any basis,” he said. “It also is lacking in the necessary respect for the presidential office.”

He added, “It was an honor to serve Germany as federal president,” then walked off without taking questions.

Mr. Köhler’s resignation is certain to lead to a fresh debate over the role of German troops in Afghanistan and in other international missions.

Denis MacShane, a British Labour legislator and German expert, said that Mr. Köhler was only speaking the truth but that German commentators did not want to recognize what he had said.

“Köhler made the point that German military capability was relevant to German interests, including German economic interests,” Mr. MacShane said.

“As the world’s second-biggest exporter after China it is self-evidently in Germany’s interest to keep the world as open as possible for the free flow of trade and commerce. It is self-evidently in Germany’s interests to help defeat the growing scourge of piracy.”

Mr. MacShane added that Mr. Köhler’s remarks were “grotesquely and cynically misinterpreted by the German press.” He added, “He expressed the self-evident truth that German military power was now an expression of German national interests.”

Mrs. Merkel, who has come under repeated criticism from her own Christian Democratic Union party as lacking leadership ever since her new coalition of conservative and Free Democrats took office last October, had long tried to avoid dealing with Germany’s new role.

With Mr. Köhler’s resignation, analysts said Mrs. Merkel showed she was out of touch with what some of her closest allies thought.

“Merkel has not got a firm grip on her party,” said Nils Diederich, political scientist at the Free University in Berlin.

He added: “It’s as if she is out of her depth when it comes to deal with crisis over the euro, Greece, the future of Europe and Afghanistan.”

Opposition parties, after roundly criticizing Mr. Köhler last week, had only praise for him on Monday.

The Left Party, the only party that has consistently called for the withdrawal of Germany’s 4,500 troops from Afghanistan, said they respected Mr. Köhler’s decision to resign.

Gesine Lötzsch, leader of the Left Party, praised Mr. Köhler, saying he was speaking out about why German troops are involved in peacekeeping missions. His resignation showed why a major reassessment of Germany’s foreign policy was needed, she said.

“If that takes place as a result of the resignation of the federal president, then it will perhaps be a good signal,” Ms. Lötzsch said.

Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats, praised Mr. Köhler’s commitment to environmental issues and Africa, the president’s two main interests.

Guido Westerwelle, foreign minister and leader of the Free Democrats, said he regretted Mr. Köhler’s resignation.

A new president will have to be chosen by a joint session of the two houses of Parliament, the Bundestag, the lower house, and the Bundesrat, the upper house, by June 30.

In the meantime, the president of the Bundesrat, Jens Böhrnsen, the Social Democratic mayor of Bremen, will take over.

Turkish Navy to Escort Additional Supply Vessels to Gaza

IBN Live

New Delhi: Turkey has threatened Israel with unprecedented action after Israeli forces attacked an aid vessel, killing 10 peace activists headed to Gaza.

Israel said 10 people died while those on the ship said at least 15 were killed.

A shocked world has responded with outrage. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and warned of unprecedented and incalculable reprisals.

Two Turkish activists were reported to be among those killed in the flotilla. Ankara warned that further supply vessels will be sent to Gaza, escorted by the Turkish Navy, a development with unpredictable consequences.

Israel has sounded an alert throughout the country fearing rocket attacks by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Arab League has called an urgent meeting on Tuesday to decide on a common response. Egypt is under pressure to end the blockade of Gaza while Greece has cancelled a military exercise with Isreal.

The world is waiting for the response from Washington, how will President Obama react to the provocation from America's closest ally.

(With inputs from Agencies)

'Israel is a Lunatic State' - Finkelstein on Gaza Flotilla Attack

Netanyahu cancels Obama meeting amid raid furore

Notice: No mention of bullets hitting activists before the boats were boarded.

Times Online

Israel’s prime minister has cancelled a planned meeting with President Obama to deal with the escalating international crisis over an attack by the Israeli military on civilian aid ships that left at least 10 dead.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, is in Canada and had been due to visit the White House tomorrow after a series of increasingly fractious meetings with the US over the stalled Middle East peace process.

But after Israeli naval commandos stormed the ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla overnight, killing up to 19 according to some reports and leaving dozens wounded, Mr Netanyahu has found his country the target of international condemnation and protest.

He said he gave the Israeli military his “full backing” but after initially saying his trip would continue, his office said it had been cancelled.

The Israeli army admitted to 10 deaths in the operation, with reports suggesting nine victims of the violence – which mainly took place on a Turkish vessel – were from Turkey. The reports prompted a furious reaction in Istanbul, where tens of thousands of protesters attempted to storm the Israeli consulate, chanting slogans calling for revenge. Turkey, whose relations with Israel were already tense, immediately withdrew its ambassador and cancelled joint military exercises. At least 28 Britons were aboard ships in the flotilla but it is not known if any of them were involved in the violence.

An Israeli government spokesman said its troops were attacked last night with knives and metal pipes as they attempted to board one of the ships from a helicopter. He said that shooting started when one of the civilians made a grab for a soldier’s gun.

A total of ten soldiers were wounded, including at least one hit by live fire, the army said. Two of the dead activists had fired pistols snatched from soldiers, the army said.

As the Israeli Defence Force towed the six ships into the Israel port of Ashdod, some of the wounded were ferried to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

Countries around the world condemned the raid, with the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay saying she was “shocked” at the violence and the UN Middle East envoy saying that “such tragedies are entirely avoidable”. The UN security council is to meet this afternoon over the crisis. Hamas, the Islamist group which rules the Gaza Strip, called on Muslims around the world to “rise up” in protest.


Huwaida Arraf, the Free Gaza Movement chairperson speaks before departure

Flotilla Fired Upon Long Before Boarding

16 Killed as Israeli Commandos Raid Unarmed Humanitarian Aid Ship

Caffeinated Thoughts

JERUSALEM—About 15 people were killed on Monday when the Israeli navy intercepted a convoy of aid ships that activists were trying to sail to the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 10 private television network said.

Earlier, a spokesman for the Free Gaza Movement which organized the six-ship flotilla said at least two were killed.

Casualties could hurt Israel’s international image and diplomatic relations, especially its long-time regional Muslim ally Turkey, whose flag some of the aid ships were flying.

Israel has said it was absolutely determined to maintain its blockade of the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory of 1.5 million. It has previously halted such activist ships, although others have reached Gaza before.

Amid Israeli military censorship and a refusal of Israeli officials to comment on what appeared to be a continuing operation three hours after dawn broke over the Mediterranean, Channel 10 made clear it was not citing foreign sources.

After initially reporting that at least 10 people were dead, it later said the death toll was between 14 and 16. It said commandos who had boarded the convoy were still conducting searches and encountering what it called violent resistance.

“Two people have been killed on board the Turkish boat and 30 or more were wounded,” said Mary Hughes Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Free Gaza Movement, which was behind the convoy.

“As far as we know IDF (Israeli military) commandos descended on the boat from helicopters and took it over.”

The convoy set off in international waters off Cyprus on Sunday in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip and warnings that it would be intercepted.

The flotilla was organized by pro-Palestinian groups and a Turkish human rights organization. Turkey had urged Israel to allow it safe passage and said the 10,000 tonnes of aid the convoy was carrying was humanitarian.


Turkey, long Israel’s best Muslim friend and a key ally in a hostile Middle East, was highly critical of Israel’s attack on Gaza 18 months ago, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Relations between the two states are now distinctly chilly and bloodshed at sea will do nothing to improve them.

CNN showed pictures of a commando apparently sliding down a rope and clashing with a man wielding a stick. Other TV images showed what appared to be rubber boarding launches.

France 24 television aired video of a woman in a Muslim headress holding a stretcher with a large bloodstain on it. A man lay below her, apparently wounded, in a blanket.

Israel had said it would prevent the convoy from reaching the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Egypt tightened a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took over the territory in 2007. Israel launched a devastating military offensive in Gaza in December 2008 with the aim of halting daily rocket fire towards its cities.

Most of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza rely on aid, blaming Israel for imposing restrictions on the amount and type of goods it allows into the territory.

The United Nations and Western powers have urged Israel to ease its restrictions to prevent a humanitarian crisis. They have been urging Israel to let in concrete and steel to allow for postwar reconstruction.

Israel denies there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying food, medicine and medical equipment are allowed in regularly. It says the restrictions are necessary to prevent weapons and materials that could be used to make them from reaching Hamas.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gaza TV's phlog - George Galloway Speaks Out

Update: Initial reports – 10 people killed, 30 injured in Israeli attack on freedom flotilla

Watch live streaming video from insaniyardim at

The above video is a live feed of Turkish television from the flotilla. If anyone can translate the Turkish, please post any relevant news in the comments.

Follow #flotilla on twitter for the latest updates.

Update (12:45 am 5/31/10): Haaretz is reporting: "At least 10 activists killed as Israel Navy opens fire on Gaza aid flotilla." Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros just tweeted that Israeli Army Radio is saying "between 10-14 people killed on flotilla."

We have a number of reports from the Mediterranean in the last few hours that the Israeli government is following through on its self-destructive and brutal determination to stop the freedom flotilla, and doing so at night. Live feed shows people still on deck. Isabel Kershner of the Times says Israeli boats have approached in international waters, intending to intercept. AP says that the Israeli navy is "stalk"-ing the flotilla. (Great for the rebranding campaign, huh?) Emails, rumors, follow:

From Iara Lee: israeli navy is already coming toward us/ we are still in intl waters and they are already here/ women are instructed to go downstairs/ men have gas masks and i am not sure what they are instructed to do....

From a friend of the flotilla: I was just told by Audrey, a spokesperson, that Israel told the captain that they're expanding Israel's territorial waters to 68 miles. The boats are at 70 right now with helicopters flying around. I think it's going to be very difficult to get timely and accurate news at this point. Hope I'm wrong.

From Felice: The White House is directing callers to contact the State Department main switchboard and ask for the duty officer responsible for dealing with imminent threats of abduction of American citizens. Please call the State Department as well. 202-647-4000. You can remind them that American citizens are being attacked with American military aid given to Israel and tell them they have ample influence with Israel to keep the flotilla safe.

From Lubna, on board, to Greta:

Urgent we have threat from israel (check out the HELP button on

What is happening?

Lubna: two israeli ships coming toward us me.... they contact the ship asked who we are and disappeared, now they getting close to the ship we can see them stay here 3 boats are coming not two 3 israeli boats we are 78 mile from israel

people here put on their life jackets, every body preparing here

we didnt expect them now, we thought they will arrive at the morning.

Gaza TV's phlog - 3 Confirmed Dead

Report: Israel Navy opens fire on Gaza aid flotilla; 2 activists killed


Some 700 pro-Palestinian activists are on the boats, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, European legislators and an elderly Holocaust survivor.

Several pro-Palestinian campaigners wounded after six-ship convoy sailing for Gaza Strip ignored Israel's order to turn back, Turkish news reports.

Israel Navy troops opened fire on pro-Palestinian activists aboard a six-ship aid flotilla sailing for the Gaza Strip, killing two and wounding several others after the convoy ignored orders to turn back, Turkey's NTV reported early Monday.

Earlier Monday, Al Jazeera reported that the Gaza aid flotilla had changed course to avoid a confrontation with Israeli warships.

The Israeli naval vessels reportedly made contact earlier with the six-ship flotilla, which is carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and supplies to Gaza.

The Israeli navy was operating under the assumption that the activists manning the boats would not heed their calls to turn around, and Israeli troops were prepared to board the ships and steer them away from the Gaza shores and toward the Israeli port city of Ashdod.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the flotilla organizers, said the six-ship flotilla began the journey from international waters off the coast of Cyprus Sunday afternoon after two days of delays. According to organizers, the flotilla was expected to reach Gaza, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) away, on Monday afternoon, and two more ships would follow in a second wave.

The flotilla was fully prepared for the different scenarios that might arise, and organizers were hopeful that Israeli authorities would do what's right and not stop the convoy, one of the organizers said.

"We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us," Arraf said. "They are going to have to forcefully stop us."

After nightfall, three Israeli navy missile boats left their base in Haifa, steaming out to sea to confront the activists' ships.

Two hours later, Israel Radio broadcast a recording of one of the missile boats warning the flotilla not to approach Gaza.

"If you ignore this order and enter the blockaded area, the Israeli navy will be forced to take all the necessary measures in order to enforce this blockade," the radio message continued.

The flotilla, which includes three cargo ships and three passenger ships, is trying to draw attention to Israel's three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. The boats are carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials.

The activists said they also were carrying hundreds of electric-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that after a security check, permitted humanitarian aid confiscated from the boats will be transferred to Gaza through authorized channels. However, Israel would not transfer items it has banned from Gaza under its blockade rules. Palmor said that for example, cement would be allowed only if it is tied to a specific project.

This is the ninth time that the Free Gaza movement has tried to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza since August 2008.

Israel has let ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009. The flotilla bound for Gaza is the largest to date.

Some 700 pro-Palestinian activists are on the boats, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, European legislators and an elderly Holocaust survivor.

The mission has experienced repeated delays, both due to mechanical problems and a decision by Cyprus to bar any boat from sailing from its shore to Gaza. The ban forced a group of European lawmakers to depart from the breakaway Turkish Cypriot northern part of the island late Saturday.

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade on Gaza after Hamas militants violently seized control of the seaside territory in June 2007.

Israel says the measures are needed to prevent Hamas, which has fired thousands of rockets at Israel, from building up its arsenal. But United Nations officials and international aid groups say the blockade has been counterproductive, failing to weaken the Islamic militant group while devastating the local economy.

Israel rejects claims of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying it allows more than enough food and medicine into the territory. The Israelis also point to the bustling smuggling industry along Gaza's southern border with Egypt, which has managed to bring consumer goods, gasoline and livestock into the seaside strip.

Israel has condemned the flotilla as a provocation and vowed to block it from reaching Gaza.

Israeli military officials said they hope to resolve the situation peacefully but are prepared for all scenarios. Naval commandos have been training for days in anticipation of the standoff. Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under official guidelines, said the forces would likely take over the boats under the cover of darkness.

Palmor said foreigners on the ships would be sent back to their countries. Activists who did not willingly agree to be deported would be detained. A special detention facility has been set up in Ashdod.

Barack Obama Poised to Restict Social Security Benefits

The Nation

In setting up his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Barack Obama is again playing coy in public, but his intentions are widely understood among Washington insiders. The president intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits for future retirees while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.

William Greider

William Greider, a prominent political journalist and author, has been a reporter for more than 35 years for newspapers...

Low-income mothers can't work without child care and can't afford child care without working. As local governments refuse funding for child-care subsidies, moms are ending up back on welfare rolls.

During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve handed out $2 trillion in emergency loans and other goodies. Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul have proposed a bill to force an audit of the central bank

Obama's commission is the vehicle created to achieve this deal. He ducks questions about his preferences, saying only that "everything has to be on the table." But White House lieutenants are privately talking up a bargain along those lines. They are telling anxious liberals to trust the president to make only moderate cuts. Better to have Democrats cut Social Security, Obama advisers say, than leave the task to bloodthirsty Republicans.

The president has stacked the deck to encourage this strategy. The eighteen-member commission is top-heavy with fiscal conservatives and hostile right-wingers who yearn to dismantle the retirement program. The Republican co-chair, former Senator Alan Simpson, is especially nasty; he likes to get laughs by ridiculing wheezy old folks. Democratic co-chair Erskine Bowles and staff director Bruce Reed secretly negotiated a partial privatization of Social Security with Newt Gingrich back when they served in the Clinton White House, but the deal blew up with Clinton's sex scandal. Monica Lewinsky saved the system.

Any recommendations require fourteen votes, and Obama has at least five loyalists who will protect him—Senators Dick Durbin and Max Baucus, Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Xavier Becerra, and former SEIU president Andy Stern. On the other hand, if Obama really wants to make a deal, these commissioners will very likely support him.

The people, once again, are kept in the dark. The Obama commission will not report its recommendations until after this fall's elections—too late for voters to express objections. Both parties assume they can evade blame by holding hands and jumping together.

What's extraordinary about this assault on Social Security is that a Democratic president is leading it. Obama is arm in arm with GOP conservatives like Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, who for decades has demonized Social Security as a grave threat to the Republic and has spread some $12 million among economists, think tanks, foundations and assorted front groups to sell his case. If Obama pulls the deal off, this will be his version of "Nixon goes to China"—a leader proving his manhood by going against his party's convictions. Even if he fails, the president will get some protective cover on the deficit issue. After all, he is targeting Big Government's most beloved and trusted program—the New Deal's most prominent pillar.

Obama's initiative rests on two falsehoods spread by Peterson's propaganda—the notion that Social Security somehow contributes to the swollen federal deficits and that cutting benefits will address this problem. Obama and his advisers do not say this in so many words, but their rhetoric implies that Social Security is a big source of the deficit problem. Major media promote the same falsehoods. Here is what the media don't tell you: Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus—$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. This vast wealth was collected over many years from workers under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to pay in advance for baby boom retirements. The money will cover all benefits until the 2040s—unless Congress double-crosses workers by changing the rules. This nest egg does not belong to the government; it belongs to the people who paid for it. FICA is not a tax but involuntary savings.

As a candidate, Obama assured voters that any shortfall was in the distant future and could be easily resolved with minor adjustments. As president, he has abandoned this accurate analysis and turned rightward without explaining why. He faces an awkward problem, however. Despite conservative propaganda, cutting Social Security will have no impact on the deficit problem that so stirs public anxiety. The White House knows this, and some advisers admit as much. So why is the president targeting Social Security?

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chair and adviser to the president, declares, "In my view, we can deal with the Social Security problem fairly promptly." Cutting benefits, Volcker adds, "is not going to deal with the deficit problem in the short run, but it's confidence building." John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, another adviser, agrees but says, "Reforms could starkly demonstrate to skeptical debt markets that the United States is willing to take on a politically difficult fiscal issue."

In other words, targeting Social Security is a smokescreen designed to reassure foreign creditors and avoid confronting the true sources of US indebtedness. The politicians might instead address the cost of fighting two wars on borrowed money or the tax cuts for the rich and corporations or the deregulation that led to the recent financial catastrophe and destroyed vast wealth. But those and other sources of deficits involve very powerful interests. Instead of taking them on, the thinking in Washington goes, let's whack the old folks while they're not watching.

This issue is a seminal fight with the potential to scramble party politics. If Democrats can no longer be trusted to defend Social Security, who can be? The people from left to right overwhelmingly support the program (88 percent), and a majority (66 percent) believe benefits should be increased now to cope with the loss of jobs and savings in the Great Recession.

Citizens can win this fight if they mobilize smartly. We can do this by arousing public alarm right now, while members of Congress face a treacherous election and before Obama can work out his deal. Some liberal groups are discussing a "take the pledge" campaign that demands senators and representatives sign commitments to keep Hands Off Social Security Benefits. If politicians refuse to sign, put them on the target list for November. Barack Obama is standing on the third rail of politics—let's give him a warning jolt.

Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran

Times Online

Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.

The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military organisation in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.

The submarines of Flotilla 7 — Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan — have visited the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.

The flotilla’s commander, identified only as “Colonel O”, told an Israeli newspaper: “We are an underwater assault force. We’re operating deep and far, very far, from our borders.”

Each of the submarines has a crew of 35 to 50, commanded by a colonel capable of launching a nuclear cruise missile.

The vessels can remain at sea for about 50 days and stay submerged up to 1,150ft below the surface for at least a week. Some of the cruise missiles are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal.

The deployment is designed to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents. “We’re a solid base for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in one place,” said a flotilla officer.

The submarines could be used if Iran continues its programme to produce a nuclear bomb. “The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.

Apparently responding to the Israeli activity, an Iranian admiral said: “Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us.”

Israel’s urgent need to deter the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance was demonstrated last month. Ehud Barak, the defence minister, was said to have shown President Barack Obama classified satellite images of a convoy of ballistic missiles leaving Syria on the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, will emphasise the danger to Obama in Washington this week.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s business and defence centre, remains the most threatened city in the world, said one expert. “There are more missiles per square foot targeting Tel Aviv than any other city,” he said.

Media claim access to spill site has been limited

NEW ORLEANS—Media organizations say they are being allowed only limited access to areas impacted by the Gulf oil spill through restrictions on plane and boat traffic that are making it difficult to document the worst spill in U.S. history.

In at least two cases, a media organization and a seaplane pilot say BP PLC -- the company responsible for cleaning up the spill -- appeared to have a role in deciding on access.

Other media, including The Associated Press, have reported coverage problems because their access has been restricted, though not all have linked the decision to BP. Government officials say restrictions are needed to protect wildlife and ensure safe air traffic.

Ted Jackson, a photographer for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, said Saturday that access to the spill "is slowly being strangled off."

A CBS news story said one of its reporting teams was threatened with arrest by the Coast Guard and turned back from an oiled beach at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The story said the reporters were told the denial was under "BP's rules."

U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration officials said BP PLC was not controlling access.

Coast Guard officials also said there was no intent to conceal the scope of the disaster. Rather, they said, the spill's complexity had made it difficult to allow the open access sought by the media.

Associated Press Senior Managing Editor Mike Oreskes said the news organization was concerned about the restrictions.

"The Coast Guard obviously has a responsibility to protect natural habitats from both the seeping oil and from excessive traffic," Oreskes said in a statement. "But we have a shared responsibility to keep the public informed about this extraordinary event. It is not the job of either the government or BP to keep journalists from seeing what has happened."

Coast Guard Lt. Commander Rob Wyman said personnel involved in the CBS dispute said no one was threatened with arrest.

Vessels responding to the spill are surrounded by a 500 yard "standoff area" with restricted access, he said.

"If we see anybody impeding operations, we're going to ask you to move. We're going to ask you to back up and move away," he said.

BP contractors are operating alongside the FAA and Coast Guard at a command center that approves or denies flight requests. Charter pilots say they have been denied permission to fly below 3,000 feet when they have reporters or photographers aboard.

Those special flight restrictions, imposed on May 12, cover thousands of square miles of the Gulf and a broad swath of Louisiana's coast. Normally there are no restrictions on flying.

Charter seaplane pilot Lyle Panepinto of Belle Chasse, La., said his request to enter restricted airspace was denied after he told a BP contractor that his passenger was Jackson, the Times-Picayune photographer

The contractor, Dennis Dorsey, worked in a command center staffed by the company, the Coast Guard and the FAA. Reached by telephone Dorsey, who works for O'Brien's Response Management, said Panepinto's flight was rejected because it was not part of the response to the spill. He said that was based on rules set by the FAA.

"We don't want people (in the restricted flight area) that aren't working through this group trying to take care of the environmental problem," he said. "That's all set by the FAA."

Government officials and BP contractors take turns answering calls from pilots with requests for exemptions from the flight restrictions, Dorsey said.

The chief of the Coast Guard's public affairs programs branch said access had been hampered by a cumbersome approval process that stretched all the way to the White House.

Chief Warrant Officer Adam Wine said White House officials had to sign off on requests for tours of the spill zone before they could proceed. The Coast Guard is attempting to increase access through guided boat and aircraft tours, he said. Still, there is no plan to lift restrictions on flights or boat traffic into offshore areas -- including some barrier islands.

White House officials referred questions about their involvement to Wyman. He said Wine's description of the chain of command was incorrect and that all requests from media were decided on by the command center in Robert, La. The Department of Homeland Security is notified, he said.

Two weeks ago, oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau was turned away from waters near a wildlife sanctuary after the Coast Guard discovered a reporter and a photographer from The Associated Press were on board.

Jackson, The Times-Picayune photographer, said he had been kept back from oil-covered beaches and denied a request to fly below 3,000 feet.

Referring to the elevations pilot are mandated to maintain, Jackson added: "The oil spill from there is just a rumor."

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said hundreds of flights related to the recovery effort go each day into the restricted airspace, including aircraft from the oil industry and law enforcement that are exempt from the flight restrictions.

Oil spill threatens 'total destruction'

Press TV

The British Petroleum oil spill is threatening the entire eastern half of the North American continent with "total destruction," reports say.

An ominous report by Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources warned of the impending disaster resulting from the British Petroleum (BP) oil and gas leak in the Gulf of Mexico, calling it the worst environmental catastrophe in all of human history, the European Union Times reported.

Russian scientists believe BP is pumping millions of gallons of Corexit 9500, a chemical dispersal agent, under the Gulf of Mexico waters to hide the full extent of the leak, now estimated to be over 2.9 million gallons a day.

Experts say Corexit 9500 is a solvent four times more toxic than oil.

The agent, scientists believe, has a 2.61ppm toxicity level, and when mixed with the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, its molecules will be able to “phase transition.”

This transition involves the change of the liquid into a gaseous state, which can be absorbed by clouds. The gas will then be released as “toxic rain” leading to “unimaginable environmental catastrophe” destroying all life forms from the “bottom of the evolutionary chart to the top,” the report said.

Netanyahu to ask Obama to block measures over Israel's nuclear program


The prime minister will meet with the U.S. president at the White House on Tuesday, after the U.S. backed a call for inspection of Israeli nuclear installations at the NPT Review Conference.

By Barak Ravid, Yossi Melman and Amir Oren
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask for clarifications about the U.S. position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference when he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

Review Conference participants decided that the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Sorek should be brought under the international inspection regime.

A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu will ask Obama for American guarantees to block any practical measures, including an international conference on the matter.

The Review Conference was held at the UN headquarters in New York. Its conclusions included a number of decisions that affect Israel: It called for an international conference in 2012 for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons; it called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear installations to international inspection; and it called for the appointment of a special UN envoy on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Saturday, sources in Jerusalem expressed disappointed over U.S. conduct on the matter. A senior Israeli official described the American behavior as "surrender and bowing to pressure."

The senior official said Israel has held intensive exchanges with the U.S. in recent days in an effort to foil the anti-Israel initiative, but the Americans chose to make a statement that fits the international consensus, even though this went against Israeli interests.

"We have explained to the Americans over and over that preserving Israel's security is the most basic precondition for progress in the peace process," said a senior Israeli official. "This decision will make it difficult for us to do this."

The U.S. administration announced after the conference ended late last week that it would not support an international conference on a nuclear-weapon free Middle East without coordinating with Israel. National Security Adviser James Jones said the fact that Israel was named in the concluding statements of the conference raises doubts about holding an international conference in 2012.

Jones said the U.S. would ensure that such a conference would take place only if all the countries feel secure to participate.

Israel said Saturday that it has no intention to fulfill the decision of the Review Conference to the NPT, which calls on it to allow international inspection at its nuclear installations.

"This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical," an official statement by the Prime Minister's Bureau read.

"It singles out Israel, the Middle East's only true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation. Yet the terrorist regime in Iran, which is racing to develop nuclear weapons and openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, is not even mentioned in the resolution. The real problem with weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East does not relate to Israel but to those countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT ) and brazenly violated it - Iraq under Sadaam, Libya, Syria and Iran."

Israel is not a signatory to the NPT and is therefore not obligated by the decisions of the conference. Nonetheless, the resolution was passed unanimously by the 189 signatories to the NPT that participated in the Review Conference.

The draft resolution that was accepted was an initiative of Egypt, which heads the largest block comprising 110 Non-Aligned states.

Israel did not participate in the conference since it is not part of the NPT, and the U.S. agreed to the final draft of the resolution following a threat by the Non-Aligned states that unless the Egyptian initiative was accepted they would veto any other draft and foil the conference.

The proposed 2012 conference is meant to include all countries of the Middle East, including Iran. However, it is doubtful whether Iran will agree to participate in the same conference as Israel, even though in an international nuclear disarmament conference held in Cairo last December, Iranian representatives and Israeli officials from the Atomic Energy Commission took part, and even conversed.

President Obama welcomed the decision of the conference, and said that there are balanced steps that will further the prevention of nuclear proliferation and the furtherance of peaceful nuclear energy. However, Obama also said that he is opposed to the singling out of Israel and is opposed to any step that will threaten its security.

Obama noted that the gravest threat to Middle East peace is if Iran does not abide by its obligations as a signatory of the NPT.

Obama's letter to Lula exposes US dishonesty with Iran

Campaign Against Sanctions and
Military Intervention in Iran

Washington supported mediation by Brazil and Turkey when it did not expect them to succeed and turned its back when they accomplished exactly what the Obama administration said it sought from Iran.

The full text of a letter sent by President Obama on April 20, 2010 to President Lula da Silva regarding Brazil's and Turkey's negotiations is now available and we reproduce it here. In the letter, the White House strongly encouraged the intermediaries to negotiate with Iran for a single purpose, namely to persuade the Islamic Republic to send 1200 kg of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor. Brazil’s respected daily O Estado de S. Paulo yesterday quoted Turkish prime minister Erdogan revealing that he, too, had received a (presumably similar) letter from Obama.

This initial US stance completely contradicted Washington’s hostile response three weeks later to the Tehran Declaration, in which Iran agreed to precisely such an exchange. On May 18, a day after the Declaration was issued, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismissed the Brazil-Iran-Turkey offer and announced instead a draft UN Security Council resolution to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran. The punitive escalation, she said, was "as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Tehran over the last few days as any we could have taken."

This was predictable. Washington grew visibly nervous as signs emerged that Brazil and Turkey might achieve peacefully what threats and sanctions from major powers had not accomplished in Iran. Hours before the prime minister of Turkey and president of Brazil left for Tehran, Clinton told a Washington news conference their mission was doomed.

U.S. hostility to the Tehran Declaration contradicts also what Washington insisted it wanted last October, when the White House supported a UN-sponsored nuclear fuel swap that was essentially identical to what Iran is now offering.

Even if one disregards that background, the main point in the May 17 Tehran Declaration is precisely what Obama had asked for in his letter as a satisfactory step forward for Iran to prove its goodwill. To quote from Obama's letter, "For us, Iran’s agreement to transfer 1,200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s LEU stockpile. I want to underscore that this element is of fundamental importance for the United States. For Iran, it would receive the nuclear fuel requested to ensure continued operation of the TRR to produce needed medical isotopes and, by using its own material, Iran would begin to demonstrate peaceful nuclear intent."

The contradiction between President Obama's letter to President Lula and the US response to the Brazil-Iran-Turkey offer is the latest evidence that the US does not intend to negotiate with Iran in good faith and has hidden motives. Under pressure from the same neoconservatives and Israel lobby that pushed the Bush Administration to invade Iraq illegally, the Obama Administration is inventing excuses to avoid a peaceful resolution to the stand-off with Iran.

But as Obama initially agreed in his letter, the nuclear fuel swap agreed to by Iran is actually an historic breakthrough. A new round of sanctions on Iran that the US is now seeking would surely sabotage this historic opportunity. It is therefore imperative that the world public opinion, the international peace and justice movement, and all non-aligned countries exert pressure on UN Security Council members to defeat the US-led draft sanctions resolution. Washington needs to demonstrate it is sincere by negotiating with Iran on the basis of the Tehran declaration.

For more information or to contact CASMII please visit

BP Oilpocalypse Creates Underwater Nightmare

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Energy expert: Nuking oil leak ‘only thing we can do’

Raw Story

BP 'totally in charge of the news' about oil leak, energy expert says

As the latest effort to plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico meets with failure, the idea of nuking the immediate area to seal the oil underground is gaining steam among some energy experts and researchers.

One prominent energy expert known for predicting the oil price spike of 2008 says sending a small nuclear bomb down the leaking well is "probably the only thing we can do" to stop the leak.

Matt Simmons, founder of energy investment bank Simmons & Company, also says that there is evidence of a second oil leak about five to seven miles from the initial leak that BP has focused on fixing. That second leak, he says, is so large that the initial one is "minor" in comparison.

Simmons spoke to Bloomberg News on Friday, before BP announced that its latest effort to plug the leak, known as the "top kill" method, had failed.

"A week ago Sunday the first research vessel ... was commissioned by NOAA to scour the area," he said. They found "a gigantic plume" growing about five to seven miles from the site of the original leak, Simmons said.

Simmons said the US government should immediately take the effort to plug the leak out of the hands of BP and put the military in charge.

"Probably the only thing we can do is create a weapons system and send it down 18,000 feet and detonate it, hopefully encasing the oil," he said.

His idea echoes that of a Russian newspaper that earlier this month suggested the US detonate a small nuclear bomb to seal the oil beneath the sea. Komsomoloskaya Pravda argued in an editorial that Russia had successfully used nuclear weapons to seal oil spills on five occasions in the past.

Live Science reports:

Weapons labs in the former Soviet Union developed special nukes for use to help pinch off the gas wells. They believed that the force from a nuclear explosion could squeeze shut any hole within 82 to 164 feet (25 to 50 meters), depending on the explosion's power. That required drilling holes to place the nuclear device close to the target wells.

A first test in the fall of 1966 proved successful in sealing up an underground gas well in southern Uzbekistan, and so the Russians used nukes four more times for capping runaway wells.

Simmons also told Bloomberg that the idea to use radical measures like a nuclear bomb to seal the leak is probably not being contemplated by decision-makers "because BP is still totally in charge of the news and they have everyone focused on the top kill."

Asked by a Bloomberg reporter about the risks involved in setting off a nuclear bomb off the coast of Louisiana, Simmons argued that a nuclear explosion deep inside a well bore would have little effect on surrounding areas.

"If you're 18,000 feet under the sea bed, it basically wont do anything [on the surface]," he said.

Joe Wiesenthal at Business Insider says the idea of using nukes will be getting a lot of attention now that the "top kill" procedure has failed.

Next, the so-called "nuclear option" is about to get a lot of attention. In this case, of course, nuclear option is not a euphemism. It's the real idea that the best way to kill this thing is to stick a small nuke in there and bury the well under rubble. ... By the middle of the coming week, it will be all over cable news, as pundits press The White House hard on whether it's being considered and why not.

The following video was broadcast on Bloomberg News, Friday May 28, 2010.

Gaza flotilla delayed after mystery faults hit two boats


A Gaza-bound flotilla's confrontation with the Israeli navy was delayed yesterday after mystery faults developed simultaneously in two of its boats. The Greek Cypriot government also prevented up to another 30 pro-Palestinian activists – including European parliamentarians – from joining the crafts.

The flotilla, now down to five instead of the original eight boats, is carrying 10,000 tons of aid supplies and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists. It prepared to leave Cypriot waters en route to Gaza last night despite warnings by Israel that it would be stopped – by force if necessary – from landing in the besieged territory.

The voyage – the biggest effort yet to break through the three-year blockade of Gaza – had been described by senior Israeli spokesmen as a "cheap political stunt" and "an attempt at violent propaganda against Israel". But Greta Berlin, one of the flotilla's organisers, said yesterday that it had been mounted by "intrepid civilians who are doing something [about the siege of Gaza] because their governments don't".

Israel has made it clear that its navy is ready to arrest the flotilla's passengers and hand them over to civilian authorities for deportation or trial if they ignore warnings to turn back or yield control of their vessels to the military. Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, said: "We will not let this flotilla get through. It harms Israeli security."

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed that, either way, the flotilla would bring the end of a blockade imposed when the Islamic faction seized control of the strip after its coalition with Fatah broke down in June 2007. As he toured Gaza City's fishing harbour, he told around 400 supporters: "If the ships reach Gaza, it's a victory for Gaza. If they are intercepted and terrorised by the Zionists, it will be a victory for Gaza, too, and they will move again in new ships to break the siege of Gaza."

The Greek Cypriot authorities, under pressure from Israel, refused to allow the boats to dock at its ports. They also prevented passengers who had flown to Cyprus to join the flotilla, including MPs from various European countries, to transfer on to the vessels. Yesterday's delay came as attempts were made for an alternative embarkation from the Turkish Cypriot port of Famagusta.

Turkey has been the most prominent national supporter of the flotilla, with its Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging Israel to let the boats through. Israel's alliance with Ankara was severely strained by the 2008-09 military offensive in Gaza.

Meanwhile, two of the movement's small passenger boats developed mechanical trouble at around 3.30pm on Friday as they neared the Cyprus coast from Crete. Last week, another vessel was delayed leaving Ireland by a propeller fault.

While saying Free Gaza was still awaiting details of Friday's malfunction from the boats' captains, Ms Berlin said the coincidence of faults developing in all three boats had given rise to speculation of possible sabotage. Claiming that one Israeli official had indicated that the best tactic would be to pick off the boats one by one before they joined the flotilla, she added: "As far as I am concerned, there is a suspicion that this is what was done."

Israel has accused the participants of betraying their claim to be human rights activists by ignoring Hamas's attacks on Israeli civilians and internal repression within Gaza. Critics of the blockade argue that it has harmed and impoverished the 1.5 million population of Gaza while leaving the rule of Hamas intact, and even entrenched.

“Attack against South Korean ship looks like false flag operation”

Published 29 May, 2010, 10:16

Edited 30 May, 2010, 04:49

While international investigators have accused North Korea of sinking a South Korean patrol corvette in March, China has taken a more cautious position.

Investigative journalist and RT contributor Wayne Madsen says it is because Beijing suspects there was greater deception at work.

“The Cheonan [navy corvette] was sunk by this torpedo that was later to be discovered to have been of German manufacture. Germany said it sells no military weapons to North Korea. This thing is starting to look like a classic false flag operation,” Wayne Madsen says.

“Kim Jong-Il who very rarely travels – and when he does, he only travels by train – went to Beijing. My sources in Beijing say that he went to Beijing, that Chinese authorities said that North Korea did this, he denied it. They were satisfied with his response,” Madsen adds. “Now the Chinese are very suspicious of the US’ intentions in richening things up in the Korean peninsula.”

“Consensus” crumbles. But why did these scientists not say so earlier?

Herald Sun

Andrew Bolt

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 06:32am

Very, very belatedly we see scientific bodies now endorsing what sceptical non-scientists have tried to warn of for years.

In Australia:

Australia’s former chief scientist, Professor Robin Batterham, is embroiled in a bitter dispute over climate change within one of the nation’s elite science academies.

As president of the peer-elected Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Professor Batterham faces demands by members to drop plans for the academy to issue a policy statement supporting climate sceptics… A two-page draft, posted on a password-protected section of the academy’s website, said the academy ‘’does not believe the science is settled’’ regarding climate change.

In Britain:

The most prestigious group of scientists in the country was forced to act after fellows complained that doubts over man made global warming were not being communicated to the public…

Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, admitted that the case for man-made global warming has been exaggerated in the past.

He emphasised that the basic science remains sound but agreed to issue guidance so that it better reflects the uncertainties.

“Climate change is a hugely important issue but the public debate has all too often been clouded by exaggeration and misleading information,” he said…

The Royal Society will look again at the public communications on climate change after 43 fellows complained that so far the message has not reflected the uncertainty in the debate.

(Thanks to reader elsie.)


The (Royal Society) appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.” ...
Sir Alan Rudge, a society Fellow and former member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee, is one of the leaders of the rebellion who gathered signatures on a petition sent to Lord Rees, the society president.

He told The Times that the society had adopted an “unnecessarily alarmist position” on climate change.

"Hope-and-Change," A Hoax


By Michael Rectenwald and Lori Price 27 May 2010

In our encounters on various social networking sites and political blogs, we consistently encounter the faithful remnants of the “hope-and-change” believers. To combat the onslaught of evidence and opinion that leads one to the conclusion that Obama is a fraud at best and represents a hoax at worst, they point to lists of his accomplishments and the ways he has delivered on his campaign promises. Such lists, we believe, are generally misrepresentations and fail to rise to the level of credibility. They are misleading because they represent minor deeds that might very well have been accomplished otherwise. We have characterized them as delivering on promises to “sharpen the pencils in the White House --mission accomplished.” There are some notable changes, but are they commensurate with Obama’s euphuistic campaign rhetoric? We think not. We believe that Obama’s rhetoric was a complete fabrication aimed at diverting real energy for change into a cul de sac of Democratic apologetics. It was, in short, a hoax.

By “hoax” we mean that it represents a corporate takeover the dissent that bubbled up in the country against the Bush administration, including his economic but mostly his imperialist agenda in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presenting Obama as a candidate of amorphous “hope-and-change,” the corporate sponsors of Obama intended to divert this dissent into acceptable (Democratic) channels. Some if not most of it had, indeed, arisen from Democratic channels, but the meaning of this dissent far exceeded anything that the Democratic Party represented either in its stated platform, or its actual practices, especially the consistent and over-riding support of the wars. The corporate and military backers of Obama bet on Obama’s oratorical skill and civil-rights-sounding rhetoric to effect a prestidigitation of incredible proportions. The intention of the magic was to fool tens of millions of voters, small-scale individual contributors, and campaigners into believing that Obama was the genuine article, that he represented change from the very policies and practices that had made Bush so virulently despised and vehemently opposed. These policies include first and foremost the war.

While Obama maintained that Al Qaeda was best fought in Afghanistan, he nevertheless left a distinct impression that his intention was to end all of the wars as soon as possible, and to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq on “day one.” Troops have indeed been moved around, repositioned outside of predefined “combat zones.” But Obama missed his own deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq, and the message of Obama was anti-Bush doctrine, anti-war escalation, and anti-pre-emptive intervention. Nonetheless, after taking office, Obama proceeded to keep most of the Bush military team, including General David Petraeus and Bush’s last Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. During Obama’s first full year in office, a record number of civilians were killed in Afghanistan. The number of troops killed in Afghanistan in the first three months in 2010 doubled that of the same period a year before.

Obama has embraced the Bush “surge” policy, adopted from the Iraqi “surge” and implemented in Afghanistan. The effect has not been the victory supposedly desired (a premise we utterly reject—the intention is not to “win” but to maintain occupation), but rather continued embattlement in territories continually under siege. Again, as in Iraq under Bush, the enemy in Afghanistan has changed under Obama. The troops admittedly fight the Taliban and not al-Qaeda, as promised. Furthermore, evidence points to the fact that we are actually funding the enemy that we are supposed to be fighting: The US is funding the Taliban militants via contractors. The bounty being offered by the Taliban for NATO troops killed is, in other words, being paid from the U.S. Treasury. Under Obama, the dreaded drone bombings in Pakistan, which kill thousands of civilians, have increased considerably.

Another major area of Obama’s hope-and-change rhetoric has to do with domestic surveillance. Where domestic surveillance is concerned, Obama actually has morphed into a more draconian form of Bush, extending domestic surveillance to the web. The USA PATRIOT Act has been extended under Obama -- although he campaigned against its renewal during his presidential campaign -- with no new added protections for civil liberties. The Obama Administration is seeking to weaken Miranda rights for terror suspects, venturing deep into territory on which George W. Bush did not tread.

In the area of treatment of “enemy combatants,” which Obama renamed “unprivileged enemy belligerents,” Obama has also maintained and extended the Bush policies. In May of 2010, the Obama Administration secured a legal victory from the D.C. Circuit Court. The Court ruled, “Foreign nationals held at a U.S. military prison at Bagram airbase outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, do not have a right to challenge in U.S. courts their continued imprisonment.”

In early May 2010, an article in The Sydney Morning Herald revealed, ‘The CIA received secret permission to attack a wider range of targets, including suspected militants whose names are not known, as part of a dramatic expansion of its campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan's border region… The expanded authority, approved two years ago by the Bush administration and continued by Barack Obama, permits the agency to rely on what officials describe as ‘pattern-of-life’ analysis, using evidence collected by surveillance cameras on the unmanned aircraft and from other sources about individuals and locations. The information was used to target suspected militants, even when their full identities were not known, the officials said. Previously the CIA was restricted in most cases to killing only individuals whose names were on an approved list.’ Such de-facto ‘death squads’ represent a breathtaking expansion of executive power and provide clear evidence that Obama’s oratorical pleadings for ‘change' were fueled by a desire to garner votes rather than a wish to implement actual change.

On the environment, Obama has been a complete disaster. Need one mention that Obama has utterly failed to respond to the oil gusher crisis in the Gulf of Mexico? More than a month after the disaster began, Obama has still not responded with federal direction of containment and clean-up efforts, leaving such to the very criminal culprits who caused the gusher that spews an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf daily. Just yesterday, the Obama administration once again defended BP’s containment and clean-up efforts, and refused to take charge of the disaster response, a disaster affecting four states directly, major fishing industries, thousands of jobs, and the health of tens of thousands if not the entire U.S. population. The damage to the Florida the wetlands and to other coastal areas surrounding the Gulf may be irreversible. This is a U.S. crisis affecting the U.S. continent and its citizens. Obama has utterly and miserably denied this fact and completely failed the U.S. population. His environmentalism is a complete fraud.

An earlier report published on this site pointed to the Obama’s support of the financial oligarchy over the people of the United States--of Wall Street over Main Street (“I’m Barack Obama and I approve this bailout.”) We are told now by Obamaphiles that the phrase is now irrelevant. It is called irrelevant because it represents a major breach of campaign promises -- the implication of which was that Obama would enact policies that favored the workers over the bankers and brokers on Wall Street and elsewhere in the financial oligarchy. This is nothing like the truth. After more than tripling Bush’s bailouts, Obama has done nothing but chide Wall Streeters verbally, while doing nothing substantial to reform their behavior. He defended the payout of bonuses for executives of the very companies that caused the financial meltdown of 2008. The financial “reform” recently passed has given Wall Street a “sigh of relief” because it is so favorable to them and does nothing to stem the tide of corruption, greed and the potential damage to the economic well-being of the vast majority.

The health care reform was apiece with this sort of reformism --a reformism that actually favors the corporations over the individuals supposedly protected. Rather than a public option that he campaigned on, the reform amounts to a bailout for the health care and pharmaceutical industries, funneling as it does coerced payments under penalty of fines from millions of the uninsured into corporate coffers. According to the CBO, an estimated four million of the uninsured will pay fines.

Have we missed anything? Most definitely, we could continue to point to Obama’s “out-Bushing” of Bush. We provide a list of stories to support our case.

Now, why and how is the Obama presidency a hoax? The litany of “failures” and “betrayals” is just too long to maintain another narrative. The attempt is a vain endeavor continued only by the most recalcitrant of the Obama orthodoxy. In fact, we believe that a majority has implicitly accepted the fact that the word hoax best describes the Obama presidency. We see this position growing in the cyber sphere. It is the position of the most wizened political observers we know. But if the serious evidence is not enough, we point to a joke as an illustration.

We refer to Obama’s joke during the White House Correspondents' Dinner regarding the use of predator drones to attack the boy band, the Jonas Brothers. Jokes always reveal a kernel of truth. Every joke contains a parcel of latent seriousness. This joke reveals the true tenor of Obama’s thinking, or rather an admission of his real function. He is the leader of a military machine that kills without conscience. Unmanned drones represent the evacuation of human presence, cognition, and decision-making from the battlefield itself. Without review or visual recognition of an enemy from a human standpoint in the air or field, unmanned drones nevertheless kill. This is not indiscriminate killing, but it is indirect and undirected to an unconscionable degree. And it is not as accurate as to be able to target and kill particular individuals without “collateral damage,” as Obama seemed to suggest. With this joke, Obama recognized and confessed the truth of his presidency. He is a leader of an imperialist financial and military oligarchy that has no conscience and no objective but profit and gain, no matter the cost in human misery and death. There is no “hope” for “change” under these conditions. The Obama hoax was to suggest that there was.

Let’s no longer refer to the Obama administration as a “failure,” or his failures as “betrayals.” To fail you have to intend to succeed, and Obama never intended to succeed at matching rhetoric and reality. The point was in fact to make rhetoric replace reality and to “hope” that the rhetoric would continue to work as such for about four years. At that point, the corporate oligarchy may continue on the current tack, or it may adopt another tactic. Our feeling is that the country is set-up for reactionary retrenchment, based on the mistaken opposition to the Obama presidency from the right. This will be the subject of a future report.

Michael Rectenwald and Lori Price,