24 August

G20 protests: Inside a labour march

Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

23 August

By Hiring Wedding Photographers, Chicago Couples Can Tell A Story

byAlma Abell

Although there are a wide variety of expenses that relate to a marriage ceremony in Chicago, many people opt to make sure and set aside funds to hire wedding photographers. Chicago experts do more than just take a series of snapshots throughout the event. By capturing images in artistic ways, photography professionals can help everyone who sees the photos share in a couple’s joy, even if they weren’t able to be there during the event. Keep reading to learn a few ways to fill a wedding portfolio with beautiful memories.

Focus on Decorations

While you’ll certainly want to get plenty of pictures of the people who were in the ceremony or at the reception, don’t overlook some of the special things that made the celebration unique. Pictures of place settings, flower bouquets, color schemes and food displays are just some of the decorative aspects that can be captured by wedding photographers. Chicago area providers should offer some valuable insight especially once you tell them your desire to get pictures taken of particular items rather than just people.

Take Advantage of the Setting

Whether you choose to get married in a church, on the beach, or perhaps underneath a lakefront gazebo, try to use photographs that make it obvious why you chose to get married in a certain environment. Maybe you were persuaded by beautiful scenery, or perhaps the place had significance to where you met your partner. Regardless of the specifics, let the photographer know you want to experiment with creative ways to use your environment as a splendid backdrop.

Consider Getting Shots of the Preparations

When hiring wedding photographers Chicago couples have a big decision to make about when the photography team should show up and begin shooting. Many of today’s brides decide to get pictures of things like hairstyling and makeup application preparations, and it could also be fun to have pictures of things like the catering staff setting up trays of food.

Hopefully the suggestions above will spark your inspiration and show how easy it is to document all the details of your special day with help from wedding photographers. Chicago professionals should have further suggestions on how to take shots that are elegant, timeless and representative of your union. Look forward to treasuring them forever.

23 August

NASCAR: Greg Biffle wins 2010 Price Chopper 400

Monday, October 4, 2010

Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle, who qualified fifth, won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2010 Price Chopper 400 held on October 3, 2010 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, United States. This became his second win of the season.

Biffle was chased by Jimmie Johnson up to the finish line, but was not able to catch him this weekend. Following the race, Johnson became the points leader after three of ten events in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Kevin Harvick managed the third position in the closing laps of the race, after starting twenty-fourth on the grid. Pole position winner Kasey Kahne collided with the wall earlier in the race, which prompted him to a thirty-seventh place finish.

Tony Stewart, from the Stewart Haas Racing team, clinched the fourth position, after leading the most laps with 76. Jeff Gordon followed Stewart in fifth, while Carl Edwards could only manage sixth.

Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, and A. J. Allmendinger rounded out the top ten finishers in the race. Other drivers in the Chase, such as Denny Hamlin finished twelfth, and Kyle Busch finished in twenty-first.

Johnson now heads the Drivers’ championship with 5,503 points, eight points ahead of Denny Hamlin. Manufacturers’ ?hampionship standings is lead by Chevrolet with 212, thirty-seven points ahead of Toyota and 77 ahead of Ford. Once the race concluded, Johnson commented, “I know we came [into Kansas] second. Of course, I wanted to be leading. I could care less where the 11 [Hamlin] was [Sunday]. It’s just not time to worry about that stuff. After Talladega, teams and drivers can work on a strategy of protecting or taking chances. We have to get deeper into the Chase to be concerned about who the points leader is.”

23 August

Woman returns home with Christmas turkey, a month after setting out

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Scottish woman who set out before Christmas to purchase a turkey finally made it home on Monday, after being cut off by snow for a month. Kay Ure left the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage on Cape Wrath, at the very northwest tip of Great Britain, in December. She was heading to Inverness on a shopping trip.

However on her return journey heavy snow and ice prevented her husband, John, from travelling the last 11 miles to pick her up. She was forced to wait a month in a friend’s caravan, before the weather improved and the couple could finally be reunited.

They were separated not just for Christmas and New Year, but also for Mr Ure’s 58th birthday. With no fresh supplies, he was reduced to celebrating with a tin of baked beans. He also ran out of coal, and had to feed the couple’s six springer spaniels on emergency army rations.

“It’s the first time we’ve been separated”, said Mr Ure in December. “We’ve been snowed in here for three weeks before, so we are well used to it and it’s quite nice to get a bit of peace and quiet.”

23 August

“World Can’t Wait” protesters rally outside the White House

Friday, February 10, 2006

Washington, D.C. —

On a rainy Saturday, February 4, 2006, several thousand protesters gathered in a corner of the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. to protest the current administration’s stance on the War in Iraq and to demand that President Bush be impeached or resign as Commander-in-Chief.

Saturday’s demonstration that lasted through five hours of rain ended with a march around the White House was organized by a group called World Can’t Wait – Drive out the Bush Regime. The group organized a smaller rally near the Capital during the State of the Union.

Demonstrators came from as far away as Hawaii; New York sent 12 buses. However the crowd was significantly less than the 30,000 protesters that organizers had anticipated. The actual numbers were more like 2,000 to 3,000 and varied with the strength of the rain. Park Police refused to comment on the size of the crowd.

A series of speakers included a 96 year old great grandmother, and a Georgetown law student that led a protest against a speech given by Attorney General Gonzales. The speeches were followed by the dropping of a 30 foot wire effigy of President Bush from the stage. The crowd, which had already been in a frenzy, chanted in unison: “Bush step down! Bush step down!” After it fell, protesters kicked and cursed at the fallen mass of chicken wire and construction paper.

Some protesters got more visual and burned a mock US flag that contained corporate logos instead of stars as at least one protester yelled that the flag burners were “FBI Plants.”

The rally ended with a march around the White House through closed streets escorted by the Capital Police and the Uniformed Division of the United States Secret Service. A group of ten to fifteen counter-protesters waited in front of the White House and although cursing was traded, the obvious police presence kept the scene peaceful.

23 August

Poodles One Adorable Dog In Many Convenient Sizes

By Kirsten Hawkins

People love their poodles! A very popular but often misunderstood breed of dog, the poodle has been with us for centuries. Artifacts from ancient Egypt and Rome have been found bearing the images of poodles engaged in such activities as herding animals, retrieving game animals (small game animals, of course – especially birds), and assisting the dragging of game nets. In fact, the intentional breeding of various sized poodles (the American Kennel Club or AKC recognizes three sizes of poodles – Standard, Miniature, and Toy – which are all considered to be the same breed) likely dates back hundreds of years as opposed to other types of dogs which were bred this way only recently. Suffice to say that there have been oodles of poodles roaming the Earth for a very long time.

Defining the Poodles’ Sizes

The three sizes of poodle have distinct definitions according to the AKC. For purposes of competition in dog shows, the different sizes are determined by the poodle’s height at the shoulder. Standard poodles are defined by being taller than fifteen inches at the shoulder. Miniature poodles must stand no more than fifteen inches but more than ten inches at the shoulder, and Toy poodles must be ten inches or less. Recently breeders have been offering Teacup poodles as well. While the AKC does not recognize the Teacup distinction, most breeders consider a poodle that stands eight inches or less at the shoulder when full grown to be a Teacup poodle. Teacup poodles are proving to be very popular and fetch some of the higher prices for poodle pups.

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Poodle Popularity

The popularity of poodles is particularly due to a plethora of pleasant attributes in poodle personalities. Poodles are proud dogs and usually very active. It is said that the poodle carries an air of regal dignity unseen in other breeds of dog. Some poodles, however, can be exceptionally shy while others may be very cross creatures. These are the exception rather than the rule. Generally speaking, pet poodles please people.

Primping the Poodle

Poodle grooming is nearly an art form and there are four generally accepted styles used for show poodles. These are called ‘show quality clips’ and generally include shaping the poodle’s coat to exact specifications in some areas while completely shaving other areas. These four show quality poodle cuts are the Puppy Show Clip, English Saddle Clip, Continental Clip, and Sporting Clip. In addition to these there are five common ‘pet quality’ poodle clips that are employed with non-show dogs. They are known as the Kennel Clip, Dutch Clip (there are two styles of Dutch clip), Bikini Clip, and Puppy Pet Clip.

For those thinking about becoming poodle owners, the AKC has plenty of information on what to look for in a purebred poodle. The can help potential poodle procurers avoid unnecessary poodle pitfalls and start on the road to a long and happy relationship of poodle puppy love.

About the Author: Kirsten Hawkins is a dog lover and animal expert from Nashville, TN. Visit

doghealth411.com/

for more information on dog health, the care of dogs, and dog travel.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=15194&ca=Pets

23 August

Australian state of Victoria swears in new cabinet

Friday, August 3, 2007

At 11:20 a.m. in the Australian state of Victoria, the Governor David de Kretser started the ceremony for the swearing in of the new Brumby’s cabinet, attended by family and friends of the ministers. This comes a full week after the resignation of Steve Bracks from the top position, and his deputy John Thwaites.

The ministers and their portfolios are:

  • John Brumby has the role of Premier as well as the ministries of Multicultural Affairs and Veterans Affairs,
  • Deputy Premier Rob Hulls has the Industrial Relations and Racing,
  • Gavin Jennings Environment and Climate Change, and Innovation
  • Lynne Kosky has Public Transport and the Arts,
  • John Lenders is the new Treasurer,
  • Justin Madden retains his portfolio of Planning minister,
  • James Merlino takes on multiple roles of: Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation and Youth Affairs
  • Maxine Morand Children and Early Childhood Development
  • Lisa Neville has Mental Health, Community Services and Senior Victorians,
  • Tim Pallas retains Roads and Ports,
  • Bronwyn Pike changes to Education,
  • Tony Robinson has the multiple portfolios of Gaming, Consumer Affairs and the Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans Affairs,
  • Theo Theophanous retains Industry and trade and major projects, gains minister for Information Technology but loses Small Business,
  • Richard Wynne has Housing, Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs,
  • Peter Batchelor has Energy and Resources, and Community Development,
  • Bob Cameron retains Police and Emergency Services, and the Corrections portfolios,
  • Joe Helper retains both Agriculture, and Small Business,
  • Tim Holding has the Water, WorkCover, Finance, Tourism and Major Events and the TAC Ministries,
  • Jacinta Allan has the Regional and Rural Development, and Skills and Workforce Participation from the Education Ministry.
  • Daniel Andrews has Health
23 August

Wikinews Shorts: March 28, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Wednesday, March 28, 2007.

Contents

  • 1 US to seek less than 20 years for Hicks
  • 2 Global stock markets are lower
  • 3 Gunmen kill 50 overnight in Sunni district in Iraq
  • 4 UK releases GPS data in dispute with Iran
  • 5 First black airmen in US Airforce to be honored

The United States will reportedly seek a jail sentence of less than 20 years for Australian David Hicks. He pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism, but not an act of terrorism. Hicks may be sentenced by the end of the week. He could be returned to Australia to serve out his sentence, with credit for the years at Guantanamo Bay.

Related news

  • “Guantanamo detainee David Hicks pleads guilty to providing “material support”” — Wikinews, March 27, 2007
  • “US charges Australian David Hicks” — Wikinews, March 26, 2007

Sources


US stocks fell on Tuesday starting another round of global selling, as worries about the US housing market and weaker consumer confidence. Lennar Corp., one of the largest US home builders reported that profits fell 73%. Wednesday, Asia markets opened steady to higher, but fell as rising oil prices and the geopolitcal standoff between Britain and Iran made investors seek the safety of government bonds. European and North American markets are trading lower in the Wednesday trading session.

Sources


In an apparent reprisal for bombings in Shi’ite areas, gunmen went on a rampage in a Sunni in Tal Afar, Iraq, killing about 50 people. There have been reports that the gunmen included police.

Sources


The United Kingdom has made public GPS data that it says proves that the 15 navy personnel were well inside Iraqi waters when they were seized by Iran. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the dispute would be solved “based on rules and regulations” and that the female sailor would be released soon.

Related news

  • “UK prepared to go ‘into different phase’ if sailors and marines not released by Iran within days” — Wikinews, March 27, 2007
  • “British sailors detained by Iran “to be tried for espionage”” — Wikinews, March 25, 2007
  • “15 Royal Navy sailors captured at gunpoint by Iranian guards” — Wikinews, March 23, 2007

Sources


Surviving members of the 332d Air Expeditionary Group and 99th Pursuit Squadron, widely known as the Tuskegee Airmen, will be honored on Thursday by President Bush at a ceremony at the US Capitol. They will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for fighting both the Nazis abroad and racial segregation at home.

Sources

18 August

U.S. Supreme Court eases government ability to seize property

June 24, 2005

In a major decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has expanded the right of government to seize private property for public good by allowing the city of New London, Connecticut to invoke eminent domain and seize homeowners’ property for economic development reasons.

In a closely-divided decision, 5–4, the court determined that the city’s economic development plan constituted a “public use”, and therefore qualified under the U.S. Constitution’s fifth amendment’s Eminent Domain clause.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority decision, and was joined by Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. “Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government,” Stevens wrote, and justified the decision further by saying municipal authorities are better positioned to make decisions regarding a community’s best interests than judges.

Writing the dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor rejected the economic justification as a public use, pointing out that wealthy individuals are more capable of defending themselves and so are less at risk. But the greatest issue was the likelihood of abuse of eminent domain:

“The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory.” A separate dissent was also included written by Justice Clarence Thomas.

[edit]

18 August

BP says Gulf oil spill slowed as estimates of oil spilled increase

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A US Coast Guard official said today that BP’s latest effort to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been successful in slowing the amount of oil leaking from the well.

The official, Admiral Thad Allen, said that the procedure, known as a “top kill” operation, has been able to block some of the leaking oil at the source, the top of the damaged well. The operation involves pumping material into the well to plug the leak before cement is used to permanently seal the leak. Allen said the operation has “been able to force mud down and not allow any hydrocarbons to come up.”

BP hasn’t confirmed the success of the top kill operation, saying only that the “operation is proceeding as we planned it,” and that there had been no major incidents thus far. Although the possibility of failure is still present, experts say that the longer the procedure continues, the less likely it will be that anything goes wrong.

The procedure began yesterday afternoon, after diagnostics on the damaged equipment on the ocean’s surface indicated that it could withstand the added pressure of the mud being pumped into the well. Although engineers involved with the operation wore concerned that the pressure of the mud might not be able to overcome that of the oil, that has thus far not been the case.

Separately, a group of US scientists announced new estimates of how much oil was flowing from the well, ranging from 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day, far higher than BP’s original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day, a figure which BP warned was possibly inaccurate.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, US president Barack Obama also announced new measures in response to the spill, which include:

  • Suspending off-shore test drilling for six months
  • Extending the moratorium on issuing drilling permits for an additional six months
  • Cancelling the sale of leases for off-shore drilling.

In statements, Obama criticized the “scandalously close relationship” between government officials and oil companies in the past, saying that the Mineral Management Service, which is the agency responsible for monitoring off-shore drilling, had been corrupt for years.


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