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Archive for August 14th, 2010

Obama Signs Law To Militarize US-Mexico Border Into Police State

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August 14, 2010: Bill Van Auken / Global Research – August 14, 2010

President Barack Obama signed into law Friday legislation that will further militarize the US-Mexico border.

It includes the deployment of Predator pilotless drones, like those used in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to conduct surveillance against immigrants crossing the border. Obama signed the $600 million bill without making any comment.

Previously, the administration and its supporters had claimed that a crackdown on the border was a necessary precursor to comprehensive immigration reform, to include a path to legal status for undocumented workers. The president’s silence on any path to legalization only underscores that the border legislation is part of a turn to the right in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections. The Democratic Party is preparing to compete with the Republicans in the scapegoating of immigrants by boasting of its record of police-state persecution of one of the most exploited sections of the American working class.

A statement issued by the White House said that the legislation, the Southwest Border Security Bill, would allocate the $600 million “to enhance technology at the border, share information and support with state, local and tribal law enforcement, and increase (federal) presence and law enforcement activities at the border.” It added that the law would provide “increased agents, investigators and prosecutors, as part of a multilayered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons and money.”

The bill will pay for the hiring of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents to be deployed along the Southwest border. With 20,000 such agents, the Border Patrol has already doubled in size since 2005. The government will also hire 250 new Customs and Border Protection officers and 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.

The legislation allocates $32 million for the deployment of more Predator drone aircraft to conduct spy flights over the border. Additional money will go to set up military style bases in the border area and to assist local police agencies. The Obama administration had already ordered 1,500 National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border. These units should all be in place within the next weeks.

A written statement issued in Obama’s name on Thursday, after the Senate’s passage of the legislation in an extraordinary session, emphasized the border crackdown, while making no mention of normalizing the status of some 12 million undocumented immigrant workers who are facing conditions of super-exploitation and repression within the US.

Earlier this week, the administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton vehemently denied reports of plans for a wide-ranging amnesty for the undocumented. Right-wing groups denounced the administration after the leaking of an internal memo supposedly contemplating the possible granting of delays in deportation to limited categories of immigrants.

“The President doesn’t support amnesty, the [Homeland Security secretary] doesn’t support amnesty and I don’t support amnesty,” said Morton, speaking to Fox News. He vowed that his agency would redouble its effort to increase deportations. “There is no administration in the history of this country that has removed more people from the United States,” he said.

In his statement, Obama boasted of having made “securing our Southwest border a top priority since I came to office.” He claimed that the new law would “build upon our successful efforts to protect communities along the Southwest border and across the country.” While vowing to “work with Congress toward bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform,” the statement said that the purpose of such legislation would be “to secure our borders, and restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system.”

Gone is any reference to even the punitive measures included in a proposed pathway to legal residency for undocumented immigrants floated earlier this year. This bipartisan proposal would require these immigrants to confess to immigration crimes, pay fines and “get to the back of the line” of those applying for legal status.

Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, appeared at the White House Friday to praise the new border legislation for providing “permanent resources” for enforcement and calling the effort “a matter of national security.”

While Napolitano made a brief reference to “immigration reform,” she indicated no timetable for enactment of such legislation, asserting that the issue was “in the hands of Congress.” In other words, having reneged on an election promise to press for immigration reform during his first year in office, the Obama White House is making it clear that it will do nothing to push for normalizing the status of the undocumented. Instead, it is joining with the Republican right in an attempt to whip up anti-immigrant chauvinism with a campaign to convince the public that immigrants are responsible for rising crime, disappearing jobs and threats to “national security.”

The bill was passed under extraordinary conditions, with both the House and Senate called into special sessions. For the Senate, it marked only the second time that such a session had been held during the August recess since the vacation period was formalized in 1970. The only other time was in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Having secured unanimous consent from both Democrats and Republicans, the formality of the vote was carried out by just two senators.

The portrayal of immigration enforcement as some kind of national crisis is based entirely on right-wing anti-immigrant propaganda fomented by the Republican Party and abetted by the Democrats.

The recent passage of anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona—ruled unconstitutional last month by a federal court—has been followed by a proposal floated this week in Florida for an even more reactionary state law. Like its Arizona counterpart, the Florida law would order state law enforcement personnel to investigate the immigration status of state residents where there existed a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented.

The legislation, proposed by Florida State Attorney General Bill McCollum, in an attempt to outdo an even more right-wing rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, would impose 20-day jail sentences for even legal resident aliens if they are caught not carrying their documents. It also would allow judges to impose stiffer criminal sentences on immigrants than they would on citizens.

The claims that such measures are justified by an immigration-driven crime wave, the stock-in-trade of Republican politicians like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, have no factual basis whatsoever. Arizona itself has seen its crime rate drop 12 percent over the last year; between 2004 and 2008 it fell by 23 percent, even as its undocumented immigrant population rose.

And, according to FBI figures, the four US cities with populations over 500,000 that recorded the lowest rates of violent crime—San Diego, California, Phoenix, Arizona and the Texas cities of El Paso and Austin—are all in the border states that are now being treated by Washington as the scene of a national emergency.

There is a deliberate attempt by both parties, aided by the media, to associate immigrants with crime, drug-trafficking and the ongoing war between the Mexican military and the drug cartels. They deny the essential reality: that millions of people worldwide are driven to leave their homelands by intolerable economic and social conditions created by transnational banks and corporations that subordinate everything to profit.

Obama is outdoing the Bush administration in the brutality of the crackdown by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against undocumented immigrants. According to recently released ICE figures, during the first nine months of the present fiscal year, the US government deported 279,035 people. This represents a 10 percent jump compared to the same period for Fiscal Year 2008—the last full fiscal year of the Bush administration. The number of people deported today is roughly double what it was five years ago.

While the Obama administration had claimed that its deportation campaign was targeted at so-called “criminal aliens,” the ICE figures reveal that only 17 percent of those deported were accused of serious crimes. More than half—51 percent—had no criminal record, while the rest had been charged with minor offenses.

Leading Republicans dismissed the new repressive legislation backed by Obama and the Congressional Democrats as insufficient, insisting on the deployment of far more personnel and resources along the border, combined with an even more draconian crackdown on the millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in the US. The official debate on immigration moves inexorably further to the right.

Many immigrant workers are torn from their families, which often include spouses or children who are US citizens. Undocumented immigrants also hesitate to travel back to their native countries to visit relatives, for fear of arrest at a US airport and subsequent deportation. These human tragedies are a matter of indifference to both big business parties.

Rather, the entire political establishment seeks to foment and exploit anti-immigrant chauvinism as a means of diverting rising popular anger over record unemployment and falling living standards away from their source, the profit system.

At the same time, the police state and militarized measures being employed against immigrants pose a grave threat to the democratic rights of all sections of the working class. There is no reason to believe that the Predator drones flying the border areas of the Southwestern US will be limited to spying on immigrants. They could well be used for the Afghanistan-style “targeted killings.” That is well within the realm of possible policy decisions by a White House that has already claimed the right to assassinate US citizens abroad.

The fight to defend democratic rights, jobs, wages and social conditions of working people in the US can only be waged successfully by unifying all sections of the working class – native-born and immigrant alike – against the reactionary, pro-capitalist policies of both the Democrats and the Republicans. This struggle must include the defense of immigrant workers against raids, deportations and sweat-shop exploitation by the employers. Working people must oppose the militarization of the US borders and uphold the right of workers from every country to live and work in the land that they choose.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Van Auken is a socialist. However, this truly is a conundrum we all face concerning the immigration issue that has now taken an ominous turn with the signing of this dangerous bill. On the one hand, we have a corrupt Mexican government and military working with the CIA, US government and international bankers to move illegal drugs and slaves into the US through proxy gangs while fighting against the non-compliant gangs who refuse to play ball with them. As a result of the poverty and violence, many Mexicans are fleeing for their safety only to now be caught up in a police state dragnet here in the US as we in America struggle to strike a balance between perceived security and Constitutional liberty.

Meanwhile, the illegal immigration of an estimated 30 million refugees into this country – many of whom are indeed dangerous criminals, gang members and revolutionaries, and if not, are nonetheless already guilty of violating US law the instant they step foot on American soil – has been purposely orchestrated by the US and Mexican governments for obvious reasons in order to severely undercut both security and liberty, and pit us one against another to distract the people from the real globalist agendas at work here.

Secure the borders, but abide by the State’s and the US Constitutions in doing so. Otherwise, the police state measures meted out to the illegal immigrants will eventually be turned on all Americans, which as many of you already know, is the ultimate plan. And no amnesty, because that will further invalidate the all ready shredded Constitution, thus playing into the globalist’s agenda of destroying all sovereignty! Comprender, mis amigos?! SJH   

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6 Million Fish, Turtles, Alligators, Dolphins Killed In Bolivia Rivers

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August 14, 2010: Bolivia Bella Editor’s / Blog – July 31, 2010

August 3, 2010 – Update: The number of dead fish and other water-dependent wildlife has increased to about 6 million.

August 9, 2010 – Update:Due to the extremely high degree of interest and numerous comments generated by this event, we interviewed authorities today and took them the questions YOU posted in our forums. Here’s what really caused the fish to die.

Over 1 million fish and thousands of alligators, turtles, dolphins and other river wildlife are floating dead in numerous Bolivian rivers in the three eastern/southern departments of Santa Cruz, Beni and Tarija. The extreme cold front that hit Bolivia in mid-July caused water temperatures to dip below the minimum temperatures river life can tolerate. As a consequence, rivers, lakes, lagoons and fisheries are brimming with decomposing fish and other creatures.

Unprecedented: Nothing like this has ever been seen in this magnitude in Bolivia. Inhabitants of riverside communities report the smell is nauseating and can be detected as far as a kilometer away from river banks. River communities, whose livelihoods depend on fishing, fear they’ll run out of food and will have nothing to sell. Authorities are concerned there will be a shortage of fish in markets and are more concerned by possible threats to public health, especially in communities that also use river water for bathing and drinking, but also fear contaminated or decaying fish may end up in market stalls. They’ve begun a campaign to ensure market vendors and the public know how to tell the difference between fresh and unhealthy fish. In university fish ponds and commercial fisheries the losses are also catastrophic.

For automatic updates on this and other news stories, please subscribe to the Blog. We’ll run more information on it when we have news.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Here’s your man-made global warming, folks. Record cold throughout South America killed all these animals– SJH 

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Written by Steven John Hibbs

August 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

The Flower – The Socio-Economic Effects Of Marijuana Prohibition

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August 14, 2010: / YouTube – July 27, 2010 

The Flower contrasts a utopian society that freely farms and consumes a pleasure giving flower with a society where the same flower is illegal and its consumption is prohibited. The animation is a meditation on the social and economic costs of marijuana prohibition…

The Flower

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: A must see video! This is a brilliant animated synopsis concerning this controversial issue. Whether you agree with the legalization of marijuana or not, the simple fact is that the socio-economic costs of marijuana prohibition far outweigh the alternative in every aspect…  – SJH   

Link to YouTube video below…

BP Continues With Relief Well – The Needle And The Damage Done

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August 14, 2010: Bettina Boxall / The Los Angeles Times – August 14, 2010

Although BP‘s troubled well in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be plugged from the top and bottom, the federal spill commander said Friday that government and company officials have agreed that a relief well should be completed to ensure a permanent seal.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen raised the possibility Thursday that last week’s “static kill” operation, in which the well’s inner casing was jammed with cement, might have made that final step unnecessary. A four-hour pressure test was conducted to determine whether oil was still flowing freely from a deep reservoir into the outer ring of the well bore. The readings indicated the flow had been blocked by last week’s cementing. “We have sealed the well at this point,” Allen said Friday.

But engineers can’t tell whether that bottom plug of the outer ring, called the annulus, is good and solid, or thin and flimsy. So they are not yet declaring victory over a well that caused one of the world’s largest oil spills, shut down a third of federal waters in the gulf to fishing and wiped out much of the region’s summer tourist season.

“Everybody is in agreement we need to proceed with the relief well. The question is how to do that,” Allen said after consulting with the head of BP and the secretaries of Energy and the Interior. Work on two relief wells, which must travel more than two miles to reach their target, began in May.

Paradoxically, the success of the static kill has complicated the final phase of the relief-well maneuver. “We probably did too good a job,” Allen said. Not only did the static kill stuff the well’s casing with dense mud and cement, it seems to have forced cement down into the oil reservoir and back up into the base of the annulus. That has trapped what BP estimates to be 1,000 barrels of oil between the bottom and the top cap.

Scientists are worried that when the relief well pours more mud and cement into the bottom to thoroughly seal it, the increased pressure could force the trapped oil upward, perhaps damaging the capping apparatus, or downward, breaking the bottom seal. “What we don’t want to do is somehow upset what we’ve already done,” Allen said.

Engineers spent Friday debating how to proceed with the relief well without creating new problems. It is possible, Allen said, that they could devise some way of diffusing a pressure buildup. They may even consider installation of a new blowout preventer on the wellhead. “It remains a work in progress. We’re trying to assess the options we have,” Allen said. Once he issues the order to resume the relief-well operation, Allen said, it will be four days before the drill gnaws through the final 50 feet and into the damaged well. That timetable could change if extra measures are taken to guard against pressure problems.

Engineers also want to be careful to preserve the condition of the blowout preventer, which will be removed and examined as part of the investigation of the April 20 explosion that ripped through the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers. It’s estimated that 205.8 million gallons of oil escaped from the crippled well before it was capped with a temporary fix July 15.

Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reopened more than 5,000 square miles off Florida to commercial and recreational fishing. At the peak of the fishing bans, NOAA had closed 37% of federal gulf waters, an area encompassing more than 88,000 square miles. Now, about 22% remains closed.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: And of course we all know that we can trust NOAA’s scientific integrity about as much as BP or this fascist US government… RIGHT?! Here’s a recap of just the past week– SJH

We Found Their Missing Oil & Corexit Filled Blue Crabs (VIDEO) – August 7, 2010

ROV On BOP Inspection Films New Leaking Pipe (VIDEO) – August 10, 2010

Black Blobs Streaming From Seafloor (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

Seepage Of Methane Hydrates Continues To Increase (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

Non-Stop Black Seepage From Spot Nearby Opening In Seafloor (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

More Oil Washes Up In Gulf Shores, Alabama (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

Clean-up Worker Sprayed With Corexit, Leg Swells Like Balloon (VIDEO) – August 12, 2010

Tar Balls And Massive Fish Kills In Northeast (VIDEO) – August 12, 2010

Dead Fish Are Washing Up Everywhere (VIDEO) – August 13, 2010

CNN: Plumes Of Oil “Resting On Bottom” Hit Gulf Beaches (VIDEO) – August 14, 2010

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Obama Closes Curtain On Tranparency – More Smoke And Mirrors

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August 14, 2010: Timothy P. Carney / Washington Examiner – August 12, 2010

President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.

Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Bauer is renowned as a “lawyer’s lawyer” and a legal expert. His resume, however, reads more “partisan advocate” than “good-government crusader.” Bauer came to the White House from the law firm Perkins Coie, where he represented John Kerry in 2004 and Obama during his campaign.

Bauer has served as the top lawyer for the Democratic National Committee, which is the most prolific fundraising entity in the country. Then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the caricature of a cutthroat Chicago political fixer, hired Bauer to represent the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the White House, Bauer is tight with Emanuel, having defended Emanuel’s offer of a job to Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., whom Emanuel wanted out of the Senate race.

Another Bauer client was New Jersey Sen. Robert “Torch” Torricelli back in 2001. When one Torricelli donor admitted he had reimbursed employees for their contributions to the Torch — thus circumventing contribution limits — Bauer explained, “All candidates ask their supporters to help raise money from friends, family members and professional associates.”

Bauer’s own words — gathered by the diligent folks at the Sunlight Foundation — show disdain for openness and far greater belief in the good intentions of those in power than of those trying to check the powerful. In December 2006, when the Federal Election Commission proposed more precise disclosure requirements for parties, Bauer took aim at the practice of muckraking enabled by such disclosure.

On his blog, Bauer derided the notion “that politicians and parties are pictured as forever trying to get away with something,” saying this was an idea for which “there is a market, its product cheaply manufactured and cheaply sold.” In other words — we keep too close an eye on our leaders.

In August 2006 Bauer blogged, “disclosure is a mostly unquestioned virtue deserving to be questioned.” This is the man the White House has put in charge of making this the most open White House ever.

Most telling might have been Bauer’s statements about proposed regulations of 527 organizations: “If it’s not done with 527 activity as we have seen, it will be done in other ways,” he told the Senate rules committee. “There are other directions, to be sure, that people are actively considering as we speak. Without tipping my hand or those of others who are professionally creative, the money will find an outlet.”

This perfectly captures the Obama White House’s attitude toward disclosure. Sure, the administration publish the names of all White House visitors, but, as the New York Times reported a few weeks back, White House folks just meet their lobbyists at Caribou Coffee across the street. Sure, they restrict the work of ex-lobbyists in the administration, but lobbyists who de-list aren’t questioned.

And we’ve seen just a few of the e-mails former Google lobbyist, now Obama tech policy guru, Andrew McLaughlin traded with current Google lobbyists using his Gmail account, but who knows what else the White House whiz kids are doing to avoid the Presidential Records Act — Facebook messages? Twitter direct messages?

Did I mention Bauer was a lobbyist? At Perkins Coie, Bauer lobbied on behalf of America Votes Inc., a Democratic 527 funded by the likes of the AFL-CIO and ACORN.

The Sunlight Foundation is also concerned about the fact the White House no longer has anyone whose job is transparency, as Eisen’s job was. John Wonderlich, at, lists a few transparency promises on which the president hasn’t followed through, including earmark transparency, a single Web site ( with all ethics and accountability information, and better lobbying disclosure, among others.

As with his other reformer rhetoric, Obama’s transparency is mostly smoke and mirrors.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Has this administration been transparent about anything anyway?! – SJH

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