The Word is Recusal

When there is a conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict, the ethical step is to withdraw from presiding over the court action. This is called recusal.

Judge Feldman is no doubt familiar with the concept and he may even have made a reasonable decision in overturning the ban on deepwater drilling, but by failing to recuse himself from a case in which he clearly has a financial interest he has shown very poor judgment.

Let’s see, a judge with poor judgment. Kind of goes to the heart of the job, doesn’t it?

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Judge who nixed drilling ban has oil investments

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana judge who struck down the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has reported extensive investments in the oil and gas industry, according to financial disclosure reports. He’s also a new member of a secret national security court.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan, reported owning less than $15,000 in stock in 2008 in Transocean Ltd., the company that owned the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
Feldman overturned the ban Tuesday, saying the government simply assumed that because one rig exploded, the others pose an imminent danger, too.

Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure report — the most recent available — also showed investments in Ocean Energy, a Houston-based company, as well as Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Halliburton was also involved in the doomed Deepwater Horizon project.

Feldman did not respond to requests for comment and to clarify whether he still holds some or all of these investments.

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“What don’t you understand about illegal? “

“Well, it’s more complicated than that.”

Yes, it is more complicated than that. And it’s amazing that the US media spends so little effort trying to explain or illustrate the complications.

Here are some links to help explain the complications:

Profligate Water Use in the US Is Fueling the Flight of Mexicans Across the Border

Red Snow Warning: The End of Welfare Water and the Drying of the West

Mexico’s Entitlement to Colorado River Water
Transboundary Issues of Water Allocation

 One of the complications of this story is that the US has taken more and more water of the Colorado River causing farming south of the border to suffer.  Subsistence farmers who can no longer get water from the Colorado River follow the water north and do what they have done for decades, they labor in agriculture and irrigation.  But now they do it on corporate truck farming operations in the US to provide cheap vegetables  to the US food market.

 Another complication is that US demand for drugs creates a wildly profitable illegal business south of the border.  And to balance the flow of US dollars to Mexico for the drug trade, we sell guns to the narco-traders.   These guns are coming across the border now with the drug cartels and creating havoc and mayhem in cities from El Paso to Tijuana.  Generally speaking, these violent criminals in the drug trade and the undocumented workers who come north looking for a job to feed their families are apples and oranges.  But the US reaction and analysis of these complicated problems won’t take the time to acknowledge that this is complicated.

What a mess.   There are solutions available, but they require that you identify the various problems accurately.   Lumping all of this together with a get-tough approach on illegal immigration is a simple-minded soundbite. We can do better than that.

“It degrades me as a human being,” Mayer said, “when I can’t be compassionate to another human being.”

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In Arizona, ‘Los Samaritanos’ leave water and food on trails used by immigrants

GREEN VALLEY, ARIZ. — “Somos amigos,” called Shura Wallin, ducking low into the shade beneath the highway overpass. “We’re friends,” she said again in Spanish, calling out to anyone who might be hiding. “Don’t be afraid.”

At a time when state and federal governments are focused on tightening the border to keep out immigrants who cross illegally from Mexico, Wallin and her colleagues help people who make the trip. They leave water and food along well-known foot trails. They distribute maps showing the water sites and search for trekking migrants. Sometimes, they find dead bodies.While the debate goes on, Wallin and a group of 140 volunteers who call themselves Los Samaritanos work against brutal heat and an unforgiving desert landscape where 61 migrants died in the seven months that ended April 30. In a region split by the increasingly fortified U.S.-Mexico border, they say they are doing moral deeds in the face of a simple reality: Migrants keep coming.”Most of the people we find are broken, beaten down, sobbing, so lonesome, broken. They just want to go home,” said the Rev. Randy Mayer, pastor of Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Ariz., home to Los Samaritanos. “We’re just trying to stop people from dying. Somebody will say, ‘What don’t you understand about “illegal”?’ Well, it’s more complicated than that.”

“I can’t live here knowing that people are almost literally dying in my back yard and not do something to help,” she said during a recent search mission that took her south to the Mexican border town of Sasabe.

“We try to convince them that it’s dangerous and tell them to go home,” the official said. “But they say, ‘It’s the United States.’ ”

On many Sundays, a man stands outside Mayer’s church and protests the rescue and relief efforts. He wears a sign that says “Good Samaritan, Bad American.” After 12 years working along the border, Mayer is mindful of the complexities of the national immigration debate. But as he sees it, he is facing a moral imperative.

“It degrades me as a human being,” Mayer said, “when I can’t be compassionate to another human being.”

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Keep Your Kids Safe

If you think you are purchasing materials that were likely produced by globalized capitalism to keep the price down, remember that part of the globalized capitalism model is to manufacture in countries that have very weak regulatory functions. The end result is that not only are toxic waste materials dumped into the environment in poorly regulated countries, the toxic materials are also simply tossed into the manufacturing process.

The people who clamor for the free market and decry all regulation should consider whether they want their children and grandchildren exposed to cadmium.

Return These Glasses to McDonalds

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McDonald’s recalling tainted ‘Shrek’ drinking glasses

WASHINGTON — McDonald’s will recall about 12 million “Shrek” drinking glasses because federal regulators found they contain the toxic metal cadmium, which poses health risks.
The glasses have been sold for $2 apiece at McDonald’s restaurants across the country as a promotional tie-in with the movie. Purchasers will be advised to keep them away from children and to return them to McDonald’s for a refund.
The recall, which is scheduled to be officially announced Friday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, was set in motion by an anonymous tip last week to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. Speier alerted the consumer commission, which tested the glasses on an accelerated basis, confirming the presence of cadmium.In the past, the safety commission has warned manufacturers to avoid cadmium in children’s products. Speier said the episode points to the need for stronger safety measures. Speier has introduced legislation banning cadmium and other toxic metals from children’s jewelry.

The federal government describes cadmium as “an extremely toxic metal” and says long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium in air, food or water leads to a buildup of the metal in the kidneys and possible kidney disease. It also can cause lung damage and fragile bones.

The presence of cadmium in consumer products has drawn increasing scrutiny in recent months. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it was removing certain jewelry items, including necklaces and bracelets from a Miley Cyrus line, from its stores after news media reports indicated that they contained cadmium.

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Time to Divest from Israel and the Companies who Profit from Oppression

Israel has evolved into a rogue state. This is an amazing transition for a people who have been the victims of so many atrocities including the Holocaust to found a nation that has become a brutal oppressor of another people.

I understand the natural reaction, to be vigilant, to be committed to self-defense at this late date, but shouldn’t that commitment be leavened with some concern for the other?

We need to help Israel rejoin the world in a commitment to a just solution, to the establishment of an independent Palestine, to ending the occupation, the siege and the aggressive theft of Palestinian lands.

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U.S. urged Israel to use caution and restraint with aid boats heading to Gaza

The Obama administration said Wednesday that it had warned Israel’s government repeatedly to use “caution and restraint” with half a dozen aid boats bound for the Gaza Strip before Israeli commandos raided the flotilla this week in an operation that killed nine people.

“We communicated with Israel through multiple channels many times regarding the flotilla,” P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement issued in response to a question from The Washington Post. “We emphasized caution and restraint given the anticipated presence of civilians, including American citizens.”

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This Guy is Late to the Party

But he has a bully pulpit, maybe an audacious Obama is going to emerge and fight for change. I am not holding my breath. I suspect that no Democrat the US can elect will cross the corporate guys who are really in charge and no Republican the US can elect has any impulse to cross the corporate persons.

It’s not clear to me how we overcome the corporate control of the US. King George was a pushover compared to Boeing, Raytheon, Halliburton et al.

We start with legislation that reinstates the “original intent” of the founding fathers that corporate charters are not meant to be treated as immortal persons, but are legal fictions that are granted for purposes of the public good.

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Obama hopes oil spill boosts support for climate bill

By Steven Mufson and Michael D. Shear

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 3, 2010

President Obama tried Wednesday to channel public outrage about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill into support for a climate-change bill, seeking to redefine an issue that threatens to tarnish his presidency.

In a speech at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, Obama made one of his strongest pitches for comprehensive climate legislation, arguing that the case for breaking the nation’s addiction to fossil fuels has been made clearer by the environmental catastrophe in the gulf.

President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 1, 20010, after meeting with the BP Oil Spill Commission co-chairs. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“I will make the case for a clean-energy future wherever I can, and I will work with anyone from either party to get this done. But we will get this done,” Obama said. “The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century.”

Allies of the president have argued for weeks that the administration should stop talking about BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, and instead tap into the public attention to the catastrophe in hopes of giving it at least some redemptive value in the long term.

Can you say post-petroleum age? blog it