Tuesday, March 29 Nine Circles of Hell!


The Nine Circles of Hell! – all the news that gives you fits in print – for Tuesday, March 29, 2011, are:

Left, right denounce ‘silent raids’ on undocumented workers

US considers manslaughter charges against BP over Gulf worker deaths

Migrant protesters block port on Italian island

In Libya, “the possibility of a NATO stabilization regime exists”

Ugandan police stop anti-US march heading toward embassies

Hundreds of Bahrain protesters detained; dozens missing

Israel may annex West Bank settlements, undermine peace talks

Japan’s possible core meltdown raises fears of major radiation release

Hackers win battle in what could be a long war on Australia

Left, right denounce ‘silent raids’ on undocumented workers
The Wall Street Journal

‘Silent Raids’ Squeeze Illegal Workers

Jaime Lopez used to earn $14 an hour, plus benefits, as a maintenance man for an office building outside Minneapolis. Then his employer was audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Mr. Lopez and 1,200 other illegal immigrants in the Twin Cities lost their jobs in October 2009.

Today, the 30-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico says he is struggling to bring home $500 a month from odd jobs, often working for less than the state’s hourly minimum wage.

Critics of U.S. immigration policies on the left and right take issue with such audits by the Obama administration, also known as silent raids. They say that, as a practical matter, the raids shift illegal immigrants with relatively well-paying jobs into the underground economy. Conservatives would rather deport the immigrants; others call for a path to U.S. citizenship.

Javier Morillo, president of the Service Employees International Union’s local 26 in the Twin Cities, which represented Mr Lopez, said, “You are taking hard-working people in good-paying jobs and moving them to jobs where they are exploited.”

Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, a leading foe of illegal immigration, said, “Audits are not much of a deterrent” because undocumented workers “just walk down the street and get another job.”

In April 2009, the Obama administration shifted the focus of workplace enforcement from arresting illegal workers to pressuring employers. The strategy marked an end to the President George W. Bush-era policy of conducting high-profile work-site raids that rounded up illegal immigrants for deportation.

The silent raids have ensnared thousands of businesses, mainly in the restaurant, agricultural and janitorial sectors. ICE agents collect and review hiring files, typically I-9 forms that verify eligibility to work in the U.S. Companies with unauthorized workers can face civil and criminal prosecution.

President Barack Obama, who favors an overhaul of U.S. immigration law that would legalize large numbers of foreign workers, hoped the new strategy would show enforcement was a priority at a time of high unemployment among Americans.

US considers manslaughter charges against BP over Gulf worker deaths

BP Is Said to Face U.S. Review for Manslaughter Charges

Federal prosecutors are considering whether to pursue manslaughter charges against BP Plc (BP/) managers for decisions made before the Gulf of Mexico oil well explosion last year that killed 11 workers and caused the biggest offshore spill in U.S. history, according to three people familiar with the matter.

U.S. investigators also are examining statements made by leaders of the companies involved in the spill — including former BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward — during congressional hearings last year to determine whether their testimony was at odds with what they knew, one of the people said. All three spoke on condition they not be named because they weren’t authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Charging individuals would be significant to environmental- safety cases because it might change behavior, said Jane Barrett, a law professor at the University of Maryland.

“They typically don’t prosecute employees of large corporations,” said Barrett, who spent 20 years prosecuting environmental crimes at the federal and state levels. “You’ve got to prosecute the individuals in order to maximize, and not lose, the deterrent effect.”

BP fell 2.2 percent in London trading to 466.55 pence, the steepest drop since January. The shares have rebounded from a post-spill intraday low of 296 pence on June 25.

The Justice Department in June said it opened criminal and civil investigations into the spill, which began after an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig that London-based BP leased from Transocean Ltd. (RIG), of Vernier, Switzerland. The department filed a civil suit against BP in December and hasn’t filed criminal charges. It’s continuing to investigate.

Migrant protesters block port on Italian island
Al Jazeera

Italians block port in protest over migrants

Italian fishermen have barricaded the entrance of Lampedusa harbour with boats seized from illegal immigrants in an attempt to prevent further vessels from reaching the shore.

Protesters on and off the Mediterranean island on Monday voiced concerns about the relentless tide of North African migrants mainly fleeing unrest in Libya and Tunisia.

“Enough, we’re full,” read a slogan scrawled on a white sheet and carried by two protesters.

More than 3,000 new migrants have arrived in the last three days alone on the island of 5,000 residents, which lives off tourism and fishing.

The shelters on the island are full and migrants have taken to sleeping on the docks or in makeshift tent camps in fields.

More than 15,000 migrants have arrived since mid-January, when Tunisians overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the longtime former president.

Monday’s blockade was a mostly symbolic act, since few migrants’ boats have entered the small port or docked by themselves at Lampedusa.

In Libya, “the possibility of a NATO stabilization regime exists”

NATO Chief Opens The Door to Libya Ground Troops

The mantra, from President Obama on down, is that ground forces are totally ruled out for Libya. After all, the United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing the war explicitly rules out any “occupation” forces. But leave it to the top military officer of NATO, which takes over the war on Wednesday, to add an asterisk to that ban.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked Adm. James Stavridis about NATO putting forces into “post-Gadhafi” Libya to make sure the country doesn’t fall apart. Stavridis said he “wouldn’t say NATO’s considering it yet.” But because of NATO’s history of putting peacekeepers in the Balkans — as pictured above — “the possibility of a stabilization regime exists.”

So welcome to a new possible “endgame” for Libya. Western troops patrolling Libya’s cities during a a shaky transition after Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has fallen, however that’s supposed to happen. Thousands of NATO troops patrolled Bosnia and Kosovo’s tense streets for years. And Iraq and Afghanistan taught the U.S. and NATO very dearly that fierce insurgent conflict can follow the end of a brutal regime. In fact, it’s the moments after the regime falls that can be the most dangerous of all — especially if well-intentioned foreign troops become an object of local resentment.

In fact, Stavridis told Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that he saw “flickers of intelligence” indicating “al-Qaeda [and] Hezbollah” have fighters amongst the Libyan rebels. The Supreme Allied Commander of NATO noted that the leadership of the rebels are “responsible men and women struggling against Col. Gadhafi” and couldn’t say if the terrorist element in the opposition is “significant.” But the U.S. knows precious little about who the Libyan rebels are.

The new prospect of NATO force on the ground in Libya seemed to alarm Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who got Stavridis to say that there’s “no discussion of the insertion of ground troops” in NATO circles. (And “to my knowledge” there aren’t troops there now, he said.) But Stavridis told Reed that the memory of the long NATO peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans is “in everyone’s mind.”

Ugandan police stop anti-US march heading toward embassies
The Associated Press

Protesters in Uganda threaten to attack US, Western embassies for Libya; police shut them down

Police in Uganda say they stopped supporters of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from marching toward and possibly attacking U.S. and other embassies in Kampala.

A group of several hundred Africans from countries like Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania held an anti-U.S. rally where they held signs like “Down with America” and “Down with Obama.”

Hundreds of Bahrain protesters detained; dozens missing
Arab News

Bahrain opposition says 250 detained, 44 missing

Bahrain’s leading Shiite opposition party said on Monday 250 people have been detained and 44 others went missing since a security crackdown crushed weeks of protests.

The figures by Wefaq, the largest Shiite Muslim opposition party, has more than doubled since last week, when it counted 95 people missing or arrested.

Earlier this month, Bahrain’s Sunni rulers, the Al-Khalifa family, imposed martial law and called in troops from Gulf neighbors to quell weeks of unrest during pro-democracy protest led by mostly Shiite demonstrators.

The severity of the crackdown, which banned all public gatherings and spread masked security forces across the city to man checkpoints, stunned Bahrain’s majority Shiites and angered the region’s non-Arab Shiite power Iran.

Wefaq said many Bahrainis, mostly Shiites, are being arrested at checkpoints or in house raids. Other times, family members call up to say their relatives never came home, Wefaq member Mattar Ibrahim Mattar told Reuters by telephone.

Israel may annex West Bank settlements, undermine peace talks
The Associated Press

Israel considering annexing West Bank settlements

Israel is considering annexing major West Bank settlement blocs if the Palestinians unilaterally seek world recognition of a state, an Israeli official said Tuesday — moves that would deal a grave blow to prospects for negotiating a peace deal between the two sides.

Israel has refrained from taking such a diplomatically explosive step for four decades. The fact that it is considering doing so reflects how seriously it is concerned by the Palestinian campaign to win international recognition of a state in the absence of peacemaking.

The Palestinians launched that campaign after peace talks foundered over Israeli construction in West Bank settlements. On Tuesday, the Israeli Interior Ministry said it would decide next month whether to give final approval to build 1,500 apartments in two Jewish enclaves in east Jerusalem. Israel captured both east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in 1967.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem, home to shrines sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, immediately after seizing it. But it carefully avoided annexing the West Bank, where 300,000 settlers now live among 2.5 million Palestinians.

Although it is widely assumed that under any peace deal, Israel would hold onto major settlements it has built in the past 44 years, any decision to formally annex West Bank territory would be a precedent-setting move that could increase Israel’s already considerable international isolation. The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, in addition to the Gaza Strip, for a future state.

Japan’s possible core meltdown raises fears of major radiation release

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have “lost the race” to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel “lower head” of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.

“The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” Lahey said. “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards” …

The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it reacts with the concrete floor of the drywell underneath, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

Hackers win battle in what could be a long war on Australia
The Advertiser

Australia is ‘at war’ with hackers

Australia was “at war” with cyber criminals and should protect itself better, a UniSA expert has warned.

Responding to the cyber attack on Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s email system, information technology dean of research Dr Jill Slay said the nation had lost one battle with the hacking of these systems but must prepare for a longer conflict with hackers.

In May last year The Advertiser revealed Dr Slay had warned the Federal Government that politicians’ use of social networking was compromising the security of government computer systems.

Dr Slay said Australian governments must understand that they are vulnerable to the world’s most effective hackers.

“Think of what they have done to Google, the White House and governments in South-East Asia. A determined hacker, if they are determined to get in, they will get in there,” she said.

“It is a war and we will win some and not win some, and it looks like in the current case we have lost that battle.

“All politicians need to be extremely careful, especially with social networking.”