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Archive for the ‘Flashpoints Column’

Dying Sea Turtles Warn of Toxic Gulf 0

Posted on July 16, 2010 by Flashpoints

Many of Nature’s most ardent defenders are gathered in the Gulf of Mexico, engaged in a desperate rescue mission, trying to save not only the wildlife directly endangered by BP’s massive oil spill but the ecosystem’s viability for sustaining future animal life as well as the economic life of coastal communities.

Scientists and environmentalists across the United States and around the globe have their fingers crossed that BP’s claim to have finally capped its runaway well, after three months, is true, and that the damage of history’s worst environmental disaster can now be assessed in finite terms.

Yet, it will take years, if not decades, to truly comprehend the extent of the devastation: the dead and damaged wildlife, the soiled beaches and marshes, and the huge swaths of the sea that may become dead zones, so polluted that fish and other animals can’t survive there.

Even as BP was announcing its alleged capping success, many more wounded animals were being spotted and oil was still splashing on shorelines across the Gulf. Just recently, oil surged into one of the largest sea-bird nesting areas along Louisiana’s coast near Raccoon Island.

Three hundred to four hundred more pelicans were spotted with oil, as well as hundreds of terns. Scientists say these visible blotches of oil mean death for the sea birds.

To date, it’s estimated that over 3,000 birds have been killed, 59 dolphins, at least one sperm whale, and more than 460 turtles. Indeed, perhaps the species most threatened by the tens of millions of gallons of oil and toxic dispersants is the giant prehistoric sea turtle.

Dr Christopher A. Pincetich, a marine biologist and toxicologist for the Turtle Island Restoration Network, is convinced that the BP oil spill has destroyed a “generation” of turtles.

“We’re working as fast as we can on several fronts,” Dr. Pincetich said in an interview from New Orleans. “Most urgent right now is the immediate rescue of more of the endangered sea turtles that are in the Gulf oil spill right now.”
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Oakland criminalized by its own mayor, after slap-on-the-wrist verdict for a killer cop 0

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Flashpoints

by Dennis Bernstein

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums had a chance to shine last Thursday, after the verdict was announced in the murder trial of transit cop Johannes Mehserle for the Jan. 1, 2009, killing of a 22-year-old unarmed Black man named Oscar Grant.

Grant was shot in the back at close range while lying face down with his hands behind his back on a BART platform. Mehserle claimed he pulled the wrong gun and meant to stun Grant with a Taser. The killing was filmed on several cell phones and witnessed by a train car full of witnesses. The killer cop was convicted in a Los Angeles court of involuntary manslaughter on July 8.

The fact that Mehserle, who is white – with a history of violent behavior against Black and Brown people – could be sentenced to as little as two years in jail or even given probation did not sit well with the Grant family or their thousands of supporters who have vowed over the last 18 months never to forget Oscar Grant.

Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, spoke out at a hastily assembled press conference in front of the Los Angles courthouse after the verdict was announced. “My son was murdered, he was murdered, he was murdered,” Johnson said repeatedly. “And the law has not held the officer accountable the way that he should be held accountable.”

“We as a family have been slapped in the face by a system that has denied us true justice,” Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson said.

The FBI has since launched a federal civil rights probe into the case to determine whether Mehserle violated Grant’s civil rights by snuffing out his life. The sentencing, originally set for early August, has been postponed until November.

After the verdict was announced, Dellums asked the people of Oakland to “show the nation” that Oakland can respond respectfully and peacefully to the verdict. Dellums said on the street Thursday night, “I don’t want anyone hurt. I don’t want anyone jailed. I don’t want the police to hurt anyone.”

But apparently Dellums and a thousand cops from around the state were not going to treat the people of Oakland peacefully or with respect. Rather, Oaklanders were about to get another dose of unbridled police power.


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Mississippi Gov. Barbour Fronts for BP 0

Posted on July 06, 2010 by Flashpoints

By Dennis Bernstein
July 6, 2010

Louie Miller, state director of the Sierra Club in Mississippi, is burning up. And its not the sweltering heat typical of Mississippi summers that’s getting to him: It’s Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and his kid-glove treatment of BP over its oil blow-out disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I don’t know how to express the level of frustration and disgust and contempt that we have for this whole episode and the havoc that it is wreaking on our coastline,” said Miller, a native of Mississippi. Read the rest of this entry →

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Video Captures Another Border Killing 0

Posted on July 03, 2010 by Flashpoints

By Dennis Bernstein

It’s a muddy cell phone video, taken from a difficult angle, but the audio recorded on the modest device, is both revealing and chilling: the contents cast doubt on claims by the U.S. Border Patrol, regarding the death of a Mexican national who died in custody after being beaten and electric-shocked by federal agents on May 28.

This video is stoking anger already simmering along the U.S.-Mexico border in part fueled by the June 7 shooting at the El Paso/Juarez crossing where a U.S. Border Patrol agent killed an unarmed Mexican junior high school student after a brief chase and scuffle. That case also involved a cell-phone video that appeared to contradict the self-defense claims of the Border Patrol. Read the rest of this entry →

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Oakland Transforms as it Prepares for Street Rebellions 2

Posted on July 02, 2010 by Flashpoints

By Jesse Strauss

Oakland Stores Closed - Preparing for Street Rebellions

The trial of Johannes Mehserle, the cop who killed Oscar Grant, has re-awoken a rebellious campaign against police brutality in Oakland, California.

Oscar Grant, of course, was the unarmed young father who was pulled off a BART car for allegedly fighting early in the morning of January 1st, 2009. Read the rest of this entry →

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BP’s Oil Spill Fouls Water, Land and Air 0

Posted on July 02, 2010 by Flashpoints

by Dennis Berstein

Pensacola Beach, Fla., last week. (Globe and Mail)

On a morning last week, Floridians along the pristine beaches of the Florida panhandle found themselves the latest shoreline victims of the underground volcano of oil and dangerous gasses released by BP into the Gulf of Mexico.

And again, the disaster was winning in the water, on the land — and in the air. Read the rest of this entry →

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Witness: US Agent Aimed at Mexican 0

Posted on June 18, 2010 by Flashpoints

By Dennis Bernstein and Jesse Strauss
June 18, 2010

An eyewitness to the June 7 shooting death of a 14-year-old Mexican youth said a U.S. Border Patrol agent took aim at the boy for several seconds after the boy emerged from behind a pillar of a bridge on the Juarez side of the border near El Paso, Texas. Read the rest of this entry →

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Witnesses of Border Killing Dispersed 0

Posted on June 18, 2010 by Flashpoints

By Dennis Bernstein and Jesse Strauss
June 15, 2010

At dusk on June 7, Bobbie McDow and her husband were heading south across the busy Paso Del Norte foot-bridge, which connects El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico. In the sweltering heat, McDow asked her husband if they could pause for a moment so she could catch her breath. Read the rest of this entry →

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Interview Transcript w/ Bobbie McDow on Border Killing from 6/11/2010 0

Posted on June 18, 2010 by Flashpoints

Dennis Bernstein interviewed Bobbie McDow on last Monday, on June 11th, 2010, about what she saw as an eye-witness to the killing by a border patrol agent of 14 year old Mexican national Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka.

This is the transcript of that interview. Read the rest of this entry →

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Eyewitness Contests Israeli Account 0

Posted on June 13, 2010 by Flashpoints

By Jesse Strauss and Dennis Bernstein

Fatima Mohammadi was on board the Mava Marmara on May 31 when it was attacked in international waters by Israeli commandos who killed nine activists and wounded many more in stopping the Turkish-flagged ship from running the Gaza blockade.

After the attack, the Israeli government quickly released video showing the commandos descending by ropes from helicopters onto the top deck, followed by a melee as some activists resisted with sticks and knives. Read the rest of this entry →

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