TSA To Put HUB Fliers On The Spot

MR: Great, exactly what we need: “Israeli-style screenings” by the TSA. Despite the increased scrutiny against the TSA’s invasive security procedures that involve groping children and humiliating the elderly, a new element of interrogation is being added to the security program in Logan Airport.

BOSTON HERALD– Boston’s TSA screeners — part of a security force whose competency has come under fire nationwide — soon will be carrying out sophisticated behavioral inspections under a first-in-the-nation program that’s already raising concerns of racial profiling, harassment of innocent travelers and longer lines.

The training for the Israeli-style screening — a projected $1 billion national program dubbed Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques — kicks off today at Logan International Airport and will be put to use in Terminal A on Aug. 15. It requires screeners to make quick reads of whether passengers pose a danger or a terror threat based on their reactions to a set of routine questions.

But security experts wonder whether Transportation Safety Administration agents are up to the challenge after an embarrassing string of blunders — including patting down a 95-year-old grandmother in Florida and making her remove her adult diaper and frisking a 3-year-old girl who screamed “stop touching me” at a checkpoint in Tennessee.

Civil libertarians argue the screening is TSA showmanship — coming just weeks before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — and could quickly devolve into profiling.

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© 2011 Boston Herald

Photo by Flickr user Lindsmo

Leaked Contract Reveals BP’s Control of Iraqi Oil

MEDIA ROOTS– To all those who mocked the anti-war community’s “no blood for oil” mantra, turns out BP has zeroed in on controlling a huge piece of Iraq’s oil pie. Instead of being punished for irreversibly polluting the earth’s oceans, BP’s criminality continues to be rewarded with even more government contracts. In addition to the $2 billion in annual US defense contracts, the company was awarded a 20 year contract deal with the Iraqi government to control their oil in 2009. Shockingly, a recently leaked version of that contract reveals that BP has locked in payment from future Iraqi governments, irrespective of whether or not oil is even extracted.

Abby

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NEW LEFT PROJECT– A leaked contract between BP and the Iraqi government has revealed the extent to which the company has gained control over Iraq’s oil. The 20-year contract for the Rumaila field near Basra published today by oil industry watchdog PLATFORM, commits future Iraqi governments to paying BP whether or not it extracts oil, irrespective of OPEC quotas and of the state of Iraqi pipeline and export infrastructure.

BP was awarded the deal at an auction in June 2009, but suspicions were raised when the company did not sign the contract until four months later. The Iraqi government said nothing had changed in the interim, only “clarifications” – claims that the leaked contract show not to be true.

This leaked version was compared in a briefing published today, ‘From Glass Box to Smoke Filled Room –  How BP secretly renegotiated its Iraqi oil contract and how Iraqis will pay the price’ with the official model contract, dated 23 April 2009, which formed the basis of the first bid round. The report shows that several key changes were made, including:

> BP could opt to be paid for oil not produced as a result of OPEC quotas or Iraqi infrastructure bottlenecks. In the model contract for which companies bid at the auction, the cost of such scenarios would have been shared by both sides.

> The threshold for BP’s project expenditure at which Iraqi approval was required was raised from $50m to $100m and tight time limits applied to Iraqis’ ability to check such expenditures are legitimate and not inflated.

Greg Muttitt, author of the report and the recently published book “Fuel on the Fire – Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq” said:

“The changes that took place behind closed doors at first look like technical details. But look more closely and you see their real meaning: BP, not the Iraqi government, will effectively control future rates of production. This gives the company a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy”.

Kevin Smith, a campaigner from oil industry watchdog PLATFORM said:

“Fully informed public debate and scrutiny are vital to prevent the worst excesses of exploitation taking place when oil contracts are agreed. Whatever pressure BP has brought to bear in these backroom dealings, the changes are clearly to the detriment of the people of Iraq.”

Also revealed today:

In April 2009, just two months before the auction at which BP won the contract, Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials sought training on commercial and negotiating skills – from BP, the very company with which it would be negotiating.

When parliamentarians called the Oil Minister in for questionning on the contract, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wrote privately to the speaker of parliament calling for him to block the it, on grounds that the questionning would hold back Iraq’s progress, in a way that would be “in harmony” with recent terrorist bombings in Baghdad.

© 2011 New Left Project, Press Release by PLATFORM

Photo by Flickr user Daniel Fogg

Belarus Moves To Ban ‘Silent Protests’

THE RAW STORY– The opposition in Belarus on Monday criticised a parliamentary bill that would give Alexander Lukashenko’s regime the legal right to crack down on protesters engaging publicly in “non-actions”.

The bill — submitted by top ministers to the lower house of parliament last week — proposes a ban on “previously-agreed actions or non-actions.”

This is apparently aimed at the numerous “silent” protests the opposition has held in recent months, where protesters chanted no slogans and merely stood clapping their hands.

Under existing legislation, the regime can act against protesters engaged in “hooliganism”, while the new bill also covers “the mass gathering of people at a previously-agreed location — including in the open air — at an agreed time to conduct previously-agreed actions or non-actions”.

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© 2011 The Raw Story

Photo by flickr user varjagg

Hungary Destroys Genetically Modified Corn Crops

LA WEEKLY– Hungary has destroyed almost 1,000 acres of corn found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, which are illegal in the country, International Business Times reports. The corn was plowed under so that pollen would not contaminate other crops.

The action came in response to a new regulation introduced in March that stipulates that seeds are supposed to be checked for GMO before they can be sold to farmers. But some of the GMO seeds, manufactured by U.S. seed giants Monsanto and Pioneer, made it onto the market anyway. The Hungarian government said it will continue to test seeds despite the fact that seed sellers are obliged to make sure their products are GMO-free.

Last week the Hungarian unit of Monsanto, the largest producer of GMO seeds, appealed to the Budapest Municipal Court to suspend the resolution by the Hungarian Agriculture Office to destroy the corn, but they were turned down, according to the Budapest Times.

With the growing season already underway, it’s too late to sow new seeds, so this year’s harvest is a total loss.

Monsanto released a statement saying it “respects Hungary’s efforts to prevent the production of genetically manipulated plants on Hungarian farms. Monsanto sells only traditional, not GMO seeds to Hungary. Our seeds can only enter Hungarian markets after they were tested for GMO and found clean, in accordance with national and international laws.”

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© 2011 LA Weekly

Photo by Flickr user A.W.A.N.

Nicaragua Eyes Reparation From US

PRESS TV– Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has called for a referendum on whether to demand billions of dollars in compensation from the US for its interference in the Central American state in the 80s.

President Ortega made the call on Tuesday as his country celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, CNN reported.

A huge crowd gathered in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, to celebrate the revolution that led to the ousting of the country’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in 1986 that the administration of former US President Ronald Reagan had violated international law by fueling the civil war in Nicaragua and mining the country’s harbors.

While the ICJ did not set a fixed amount for compensation, it ordered payment for the US wrongdoings.

Nicaragua, however, had asked for USD 17 billion

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© 2011 PressTV

Photo by Flickr user Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador