Police impunity for killing Anthony Lamar Smith in St Louis, USA

This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

No Justice for St. Louis Black Community

17 September 2017

Protests have been taking place in the wake of a not-guilty verdict delivered to former St. Louis cop Jason Stockley, who was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

By Ben Chacko in Britain:

US: Protests carry on after ‘not guilty’ verdict

Monday 18th September 2017

PROTESTS in the US city of St Louis continued for a third day yesterday following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley for killing Anthony Lamar Smith there in 2011.

Mr Stockley was found not guilty of murder on Friday, six years after having shot 24-year-old African-American Mr Smith five times after a car chase, on the grounds that he believed he was reaching for a weapon.

A gun was found in Mr Smith’s car after the event but the prosecution alleged it was placed there by Mr Stockley, who predicted the shooting during the car chase with the words: “Going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.”

But Judge Timothy Wilson said the court could not say it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the killing was not self-defence.

The ruling sparked immediate demonstrations in St Louis on Friday evening and a march of thousands on Saturday.

Some protesters attacked police vehicles and buildings on Friday night while “a few dozen” did not disperse after Saturday’s march and then clashed with riot officers who moved against them.

Electrician Damone Smith told reporters as his car was rerouted away from the demo that he was “proud” of protesters against a “disgusting” verdict.

If you look like me, then you feel like there is no other way to express yourself. Time and time again, African-American men are killed by police and nobody is held accountable”, he explained.

This video from the USA says about itself:

US: St. Louis protesters extend demonstration over Anthony Lamar Smith murder

17 September 2017

Protests in the US city of St. Louis … for a third night following the acquittal of a white former police officer over the shooting of a black motorist.

Six years ago, police officer Jason Stockley shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith after a car chase.

Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Stockley, who is white, with first-degree murder, alleging he planted a gun in Smith’s car.

On Friday, Stockley was acquitted of the crime.

At least 47 people have been arrested since Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

Over forty arrested in St. Louis as demonstrations continue against acquittal of killer cop

18 September 2017

Police intensified their crackdown on protesters in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday as demonstrations against police violence continued into the third day.

The protests erupted Friday afternoon following the announcement that police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2011 killing of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

Stockley, who is white, fired five bullets at point-blank range into Smith, who was African-American, while the victim was seated in his car after a three-mile chase. A police car dashcam recorded Stockley telling his partner in advance of the shooting, “We’re killing this motherfucker, don’t you know.” An FBI firearms analyst testified at the trial that one shot was discharged from only six inches away.

After the murder, video recordings show Stockley going into his police car to get a gun, which he then planted in the car of the dead victim. Only Stockley’s DNA was found on the gun.

Considering the precedent upheld across the board by both Democrats and Republicans of blanket immunity for killer cops it is hardly a surprise that Stockley was acquitted. However, the sheer amount of evidence and the blatant murderous character of the event makes his exoneration particularly egregious.

Demonstrations erupted immediately following the announcement and attracted as many as one thousand people at their peak. Protests were held outside of police department headquarters and numerous marches took place throughout the city Friday evening. On Saturday, hundreds held demonstrations in West County Center shopping mall in the city of Des Peres, west of St. Louis, and at Chesterfield Mall in the suburb of Chesterfield. Saturday’s demonstrations culminated in a gathering at the home of Democratic mayor, Lyda Krewson, where at least one window was broken after something was thrown at it.

St Louis police in riot geat walk over protesters

With the memories of the massive upheavals which erupted in Ferguson in 2014–only a 20-minute drive from St. Louis–state and local authorities had anticipated protests over the exoneration of yet another killer cop. Officials spent the past week preparing to impose a virtual lockdown on the city. Barricades were erected around police headquarters and the courthouse, among other sites, and Republican Governor Eric Greitens activated the National Guard on Thursday ahead of the announcement.

As early as 6:30 p.m. on Friday the St. Louis Police Department had determined that the protests were “no longer considered peaceful”, which they announced in a tweet. They claimed that demonstrators were ignoring commands to leave the streets, making all of those in the area subject to arrest.

Reports indicate that at least thirty-three people were arrested during Friday’s protests and an additional nine Saturday night through Sunday morning. According to officials, four of the nine people arrested will face felony destruction of property charges. Among those arrested were two minors and the other seven ranged in age from 22 to 37 years old.

The St. Louis Police Department took to Twitter to justify their actions throughout the weekend.

On Friday they posted pictures of rocks and water bottles that they claimed had been thrown at officers throughout the day adding that “officers showed great restraint.”

These photos stand in sharp contrast to the videos and photos posted by the protesters of hundreds of police officers dressed in riot gear and armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry attacking protesters.

Their “restraint” included firing pepper-spray balls and tear gas against the overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrators. In one instance police in riot gear marched over a woman after she was knocked to the ground. When several people rushed to her assistance they were also knocked to the ground by police officers armed with shields and large bats.

Krewson and Geitens were also active on their Twitter accounts throughout the weekend making veiled threats to the protesters and offering their full support for the police force.

Greitens publicly bolstered the law-and-order campaign, tweeting praise of the police actions and posting videos of himself shaking hands with law enforcement. Bragging in a Tweet on Saturday, he wrote “some criminals broke windows & thought they’d get away. They were wrong. Officers caught ‘em, cuffed ‘em, and threw ‘em in Jail.” The video posted along with the tweet shows five officers hauling away a cuffed young man who appears to be unconscious.

Greitens' tweet

The brutal murder of Anthony Lamar Smith and the subsequent violent crackdown on protesters by the political establishment are, in a very direct way, the product of twenty-five years of unending US wars abroad, with the same military gear and tactics being against the working class at home.

The officer responsible for the killing, Stockley, is a West Point graduate who served with the Army in the Iraq war. He carried his personal AK-47-style rifle with him as an officer in St. Louis, and noted in the trial that he felt that his life and the life of his fellow officers “depended on it”–a perspective likely ingrained in him throughout his time around the various military institutions.

Greitens, the most enthusiastic cheerleader of the St. Louis police force through the weekend, comes out of a long career in the military establishment, having served for years as a Navy Seal, the most notoriously brutal arm of the United States military Special Forces.

President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been vehement defenders of killer cops and violent police forces. Speaking for police officers in August, Trump encouraged them to be “rough” with those they were arresting. Later that month, he signed an order reinstituting the federal program that supplies military weapons and equipment to local and state police forces.

United States Republican advocates lynching for paint on Confederate statue

This video from the USA says about itself:

Politician Goes On Racist Rant After Confederate Monument Vandalized

2 September 2017

Hey Rep. Warren Love THIS is why it’s NOT OKAY to say what you said. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

“A Missouri legislator on Wednesday called for a vandal who defaced a Confederate statue to be lynched. State Rep. Warren Love (R[epublican]) was responding on Facebook to a story about an unidentified vandal who threw paint on a Confederate memorial in Springfield National Cemetery, the Riverfront Times reported. The paper published a screenshot of Love’s Facebook post above the article, which he quickly deleted. “This is totally against the law,” Love wrote. “I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope. National Veterans Cemetery in Springfield, Mo.”

Read more here.

The family of an 8-year-old biracial boy in New Hampshire say teens hung him from a tree with a rope.

New Film “Graven Image” Shows How Georgia Racists Created a Confederate Myth: here.

A lawmaker says a Confederate plaque in the Texas Capitol that rejects slavery as the underlying cause of the Civil War has been removed.

New Memorial Shows That Black Women Were Victims of Lynchings, Too. Saturday, April 28, 2018 By Evelyn M. Simien, The Conversation: here.

Walmart said it would seek a refund for its campaign donation to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who has sparked outrage for joking about public hangings.

LYNCHING IS FINALLY A FEDERAL CRIME Sixty-five years after 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi, the House has approved legislation designating lynching as a hate crime under federal law. The bill, introduced by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush and named after Till, comes 120 years after Congress first considered anti-lynching legislation and after dozens of similar efforts were defeated. [AP]

The US Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia ruled last week that extensive grand jury records in the notorious lynching of two African-American couples in 1946 must remain sealed. The 11th Circuit judges, by an 8–4 margin, citing the confidentiality of grand jury deliberations, declared that federal judges did not have the authority to release the records, which had been sought by historians and researchers. The decision came after the Trump administration’s Justice Department appealed a lower court ruling: here.

Rock ‘n roll pioneer Chuck Berry, RIP

This 2010 live music video is called Tina Turner & Chuck Berry – Rock ‘n roll music.

By Sara Boboltz in the USA today:

Rock ‘N’ Roll Legend Chuck Berry Dead At 90

The guitarist was known for a string of 1950s and ’60s hits.

Rock ’n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry has died, police said Saturday. He was 90.

“The St. Charles County Police Department sadly confirms the death of Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry,” police said in a statement posted to Facebook.

First responders were called out to a home on Buckner Road around 12:40 p.m. and found a man later identified as Berry unresponsive “and immediately administered lifesaving techniques,” the statement reads. They were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m.

Berry penned a great number of hits in the 1950s and ’60s like “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Rock and Roll Music” that influenced generations of rock groups, including The Beatles. Merging a captivating stage presence with his own blend of blues, country and jazz, Berry helped define the fledgling rock’n’ roll genre, later becoming one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Born into a middle-class family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry picked up the basics of guitar from a neighbor and started performing music as a teenager. In 1952, he formed a trio with Johnnie Johnson on piano and Ebby Harding on drums that rose to fame in the local nightclub scene. To pay the bills, Berry worked as a hairdresser. But soon enough he wouldn’t have time for that ― a trip to Chicago netted a recording session with Chess Records, during which Berry performed an old hillbilly tune called “Ida Red.” Changing the name to “Maybellene,” Chess sent the track to an influential New York DJ, and it became a hit among the teenage set.

According to an oft-cited line by John Lennon, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” Berry’s music became so well-known, he toured the country with only a guitar, trusting he’d be able to find musicians in each city he played who could serve as his back-up. Many of his lyrics focused on teen culture, although he was significantly past that age by the time he started traveling around singing about cars and dates.

But in the nascent era of the Civil Rights Movement, Berry’s status as a black man with a following of young white people ― a lot of them girls ― caused certain conflict. He’d been known to take refuge in police stations to dodge protesters after his shows, which sometimes featured police presence themselves, according to an Esquire profile. After a teenage coat-check girl who worked briefly at a club he owned alleged Berry had an affair with her, the guitarist served two years in prison. A tax evasion charge sent him to prison again, briefly, in 1979. …

Notoriously interview-shy, Berry had been living out his later years in Ladue, Missouri ― near his hometown. He never stopped writing music, and performed regular gigs at a local restaurant and club called Blueberry Hill.

United States racist charged with murder

This Indian TV video says about itself:

Kansas [City] People Reaction After Srinivas Kuchibhotla Murder | V6 USA NRI News

24 February 2017

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Murder charge for ‘racist killing’

UNITED STATES: A man accused of shooting two Indian men in a crowded suburban Kansas City [in Missouri] bar in what witnesses said was a racially motivated attack has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed, while Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot were hospitalised in a stable condition.
Authorities repeatedly declined at a Thursday news conference to say whether the shooting was a hate crime, although local police said they were working with the FBI.

A shooting in an Olathe, Kansas bar on Wednesday night killed one man and left two others injured. According to witnesses, the shooter harassed two Indian men with racial slurs, shouting, “Get out of my country!” before killing 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injuring 32-year-old Alok Madasani. Also injured was 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who had attempted to intervene in defense of the two men … “Trump’s executive order was for 7 countries,” said CAIR’s Hadeed, “but it affects the entire Muslim community.” She mentioned that there have been other instances like the Olathe shooting, in which non-Muslims have been targeted by Islamophobes: here.

Anti-immigrant Hate Slurs Lead to Fatal Shooting in Kansas: here.

Father Of Indian Man Who Survived Kansas Bar Attack Says The U.S. Is Not Safe. He urged Indian parents “not to send their children to the U.S.”: here.

Johnson & Johnson Big Pharma corporation loses cancer lawsuit

This video from the USA says about itself:

Johnson & Johnson Loses $55 Million Talc Powder Cancer Lawsuit

4 May 2016

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a jury in Missouri to pay $55 million to one woman who says that the company failed to give her and other consumers proper warning about the dangers of talc powder. Talc powder has been linked to cancer. Ana Kasparian, Brett Erlich (Pop Trigger), and Kim Horcher (Nerd Alert), hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) was ordered by a U.S. jury on Monday to pay $55 million to a woman who said that using the company’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene caused her to develop ovarian cancer.

The verdict, which J&J plans to appeal, was the second straight trial loss for the company, which is facing about 1,200 lawsuits accusing it of not adequately warning consumers about its talc-based products’ cancer risks.

Following a three-week trial in Missouri state court, jurors deliberated for about a day before returning a verdict for Gloria Ristesund. She was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.”*

Read more here.

See also here.

When I was young we used to have a bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s Johnson’s Baby Oil. My father used to refer to it as ‘the bottle of Johnson Murderer’. Not then because of suspicion that Johnson & Johnson products might cause cancer. Because of analogy to the name of the then president of the USA, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was called ‘murderer’ because of his lethal Vietnam war.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON SUBPOENAED OVER BABY POWDER Johnson & Johnson said it has received subpoenas from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission related to litigation involving alleged asbestos contamination in baby powder. [Reuters]

In Opioid Trial, Oklahoma Accuses Johnson & Johnson of Being Drug “Kingpin”: here.

The pharmaceutical company Mylan has been making headlines in recent weeks for hiking the price of its life-saving EpiPen device by more than 450 percent. A report released this past June, however, notes that the company has made similar price increases for a number of its drugs: here.

Hieronymus Bosch painting discovered in the USA

The Temptation of Saint Anthony, in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City in Missouri in the USA

This photo shows the painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony, in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City in Missouri in the USA; now discovered to have been painted by Hieronymus Bosch.

Translated from Omroep Brabant in the Netherlands:

New painting by Hieronymus Bosch discovered in United States of America

DEN BOSCH – A new work by painter Hieronymus (Jeroen) Bosch has been discovered. This conclude researchers from the Bosch Research and Conservation Project. This Monday they told about their research findings. It is the canvas “The Temptation of Saint Anthony”.

The painting is owned by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in the American city of Kansas City. It was hidden for years in the depot of the US American museum.

The painting from circa 1500-1510 has for decades been attributed to a pupil or follower of Bosch. But it turns out to be by Hieronymus Bosch.

Signatures found with infrared

With infrared technology, researchers have made visible signatures on the keypad. “These signatures dovetail perfectly with what is found on other panels from the core work of Bosch,” the researchers said.

Published: Monday, February 1st, 2016 – 10:37

See also here.

The researchers also claim that the number of drawings attributed to Bosh should rise from 10 to 20.

Detail of painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony, in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City in Missouri in the USA

This photo, via TripAdvisor, is of a detail of another painting about The Temptation of Saint Anthony, also in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City in Missouri in the USA; said to have been painted by 16th century Dutch-Flemish artist Jan Wellens de Cock. Look at the woman’s foot in this detail.

Dutch children’s book on Jeroen Bosch: here. And here.

Saving a squirrel from drowning in Missouri, USA

This video by Tony Weiss from the USA says about itself:

Surveying flooding in Fenton MO on 12-30-2015 where the Meramec river is at a historic all time high crest near 44ft. I saw this little guy jump and try to swim for a bigger tree for safety but the current was just too strong. You can see him jump from the tree in front of me and start swimming but the current was quickly pulling him downstream. I know squirrels don’t understand English but I couldn’t help but yell out some positive encouragement.

While there are dangerous and lethal flooding problems in Missouri and elsewhere in the USA, at least this bit of positive news on this squirrel.

Over the past four weeks at least 24 people have been killed by near-record flooding along the Mississippi River, caused by extensive storms throughout the central United States. An estimated 17 million people live in areas placed under flood warning, according to a report last week by the National Weather Service, or around 5 percent of the population of the entire country: here.

Nuclear weapons waste health catastrophe in St. Louis, USA

Manhattan Project sites in the United States and Canada. SOURCE: Wikipedia

By Gary Joad in the USA:

Manhattan Project fallout: Nuclear waste health catastrophe in St. Louis, Missouri

27 November 2015

Over the course of almost 70 years, former and current residents from the northern suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri have struggled with the devastating health consequences from a series of nuclear dump sites. Beginning in the mid-1940s, contractors working for the Manhattan Project deposited tens of thousands of tons of radioactive waste in St. Louis County, population 1.001 million as of 2013. Federal and state governments and agencies delayed even beginning cleanup activities for at least 40 years, constituting an appalling indifference to the health risks of the county residents and their families.

After the fatal results of radiation exposure for the seven decades became undeniable and were publicized, principally by the ill residents and their families of northern St. Louis County, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers, assigned by the federal government to oversee the “solving” of the crisis, displayed no urgency whatsoever in alleviating health risks to area workers and residents. Meanwhile, this last summer the Corp of Engineers documented the presence of radioactive isotopes in ball fields, public parks, playgrounds and backyards of homes.

The Manhattan Project, founded in 1939 by the US government, initiated the research and development for the world’s first nuclear weapons, and resulted in the first and only military uses to date of atomic bombs, dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. Over 100,000 civilians in both cities were killed instantly, and at least another 100,000 injured. Tens of thousands also suffered the long-term consequences of radiation exposure. Altogether, World War II resulted in the deaths of at least 60 million human beings.

Eventually the Manhattan Project grew to employ over 130,000 people. The cost of the atomic bomb development was almost $2 billion, or some $25 billion in 2015 dollars, most of which was used to build factories to produce fissile materials. More than 30 nuclear fuel development sites were spread across the United States, Canada and the UK.

At the outbreak of the war, Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. of G. Mallinckrodt & Co, a very old chemical and pharmaceutical firm in St. Louis, obtained a contract from the US government to purify large quantities of uranium ore imported to the city’s downtown processing plants and other locations around the city from mines in Utah and Colorado; Port Hope, Ontario and Radium City, Northwest Territories, Canada; and the Belgian Congo, West Central Africa.

Uranium ore importation to St. Louis, Missouri. Published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. SOURCE: US Department of Energy

Initially, the St. Louis purified uranium was sent to the University of Chicago for the demonstration of the first nuclear chain reaction, at the so-called Chicago Pile-1 location, under the supervision of Enrico Fermi’s research group.

From 1942 to 1957, the Mallinckrodt Co. purified some 50,000 tons of uranium, which was in turn shipped to other US facilities for further refinement in the process of weapons manufacture. Fifty-five gallon drums and piles of nuclear waste were dumped in vacant lots and fields north of St. Louis at and near the World War II Naval Air Station, now Lambert St. Louis International Airport. In the postwar boom, these would become the highly populated suburbs of Berkeley, Hazelwood, Bridgeton, Florissant, Earth City and Weldon Spring. The radioactive debris was stacked outside and open to the elements.

In the 1960s, the federal government approved the sale of a few thousand tons of the nuclear waste materials to private companies, firms which loaded and shipped the material out of state.

Beginning in the late 1980s, after “responsibility” for removal and/or long-term storage of the material was shifted around by the federal government and Congress from one set of reluctant bureaucratic hands to another, the US Army Corp of Engineers was assigned the task of removal of the nuclear waste from the old St. Louis downtown sites, the St. Louis airport area and sites nearby. After almost 10 years and numerous studies, the removal of waste piles began in the late 1990s and was completed late in the last decade, after several hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated waste and soil was shipped by rail from St. Louis County to federally certified nuclear dump sites, principally in Utah.

The 19-mile-long Coldwater Creek begins just south of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and courses beneath the runways to the north and northeast near the backyards of homes and businesses, emptying into the Missouri River near its confluence with the Mississippi River. In the decades since the dumping of nuclear waste at the airport and in the flood plains of the streambed, Coldwater Creek has been out of its banks numerous times. Over the many years, children played near and in the creek bottom, families moved into and out of the neighborhoods, all when few people knew of—let alone appreciated and understood—the risks of decades of exposure to uranium, thorium and radium isotopes.

Coldwater Creek illnesses and cancers in north St. Louis County, Missouri. SOURCE: coldwatercreekfacts.com

Since at least the early part of this century, persons who had grown up in, or had spent numbers of years in, northern St. Louis County became ever more aware of developing cancers in the area, including the number of persons with unusual tumors at a young age. An emergency department nurse currently living in Detroit, Michigan and who had spent her childhood near Coldwater Creek had a boy who was born with a fatal brain tumor. Another older St. Louis County resident lost both his father to a malignancy and his middle aged son to a rare form of colon cancer occurring in his appendix.

Another middle-aged woman with end stage lung cancer, who never smoked tobacco, was featured on CBS news recently with several of her neighbors, all of whom either suffered from malignancies or had family members who had cancer. Her backyard fronts Coldwater Creek.

In 2011, north St. Louis County residents established a website, coldwatercreekfacts.com, to spread the message of their common tragedies with a possible common origin.

The group compiled a list of illnesses with the use of a Facebook page, inviting present and former inhabitants of St. Louis County to report illnesses. As of this year, 45 cases of appendix cancer were reported (with a base incidence of less than one case in 100,000 persons), 448 autoimmune illnesses, 184 cases of brain cancer and tumors, 53 cases of Lupus, 84 cases of multiple sclerosis, 315 cases of thyroid illnesses and cancers. Cancers reported up to this year total 1,993.

In 1973, approximately 40,000 tons of radioactive waste were deposited in an unlined 1930s-era rock quarry at a 214 acre location, today called Westlake Landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri, also in northern St. Louis County. From 1979 to 2004, the majority portion of the same quarry was used as a municipal solid waste landfill, today managed by the for-profit Republic Services, the second largest “non-hazardous” solid waste management outfit in the US. In the world of Wall Street finance, it is praised for its swelling share price, attracting America’s richest investors, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Open air nuclear waste site in St. Louis County, 1950s. SOURCE: United States Army Corp of Engineers

The EPA designated the Westlake Landfill a Superfund cleanup site, although in an October 16 appearance on a CBS radio affiliate in St. Louis an EPA spokesman was reported to have minimized the health risk to county residents.

In 2010, Westlake Landfill was noted by residents, city officials and landfill workers to be burning, deep in the landfill, emitting noxious odors and smoke into the atmosphere. Numerous landfill gas extracting wells penetrate a thick and tough vinyl membrane cover deep into the solid waste mass of the landfill, the well heads of which have been gradually growing hotter, with temperatures and gas emissions confirming spreading of the subterranean fire towards the nuclear waste contained at the north end of the old quarry. As of two months ago, the fire was thought to be about 1,000 feet from the many tons of nuclear debris deposited at Westlake.

City, state and federal officials have been confronted this fall in jammed public meetings by angry and dismayed residents, who fear a landfill fire and/or catastrophic explosion resulting in a citywide dispersal of radioactive debris.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued Republic Services and commissioned a landfill risk assessment study, which was completed and published in September.

Among the critical findings include the observation that Republic Services is severely over-pumping the gas extraction wells, resulting in an inflow of excessive levels of oxygen that is feeding and spreading the landfill underground fire, now burning for five years. The attorney general’s assessment included a recommendation to shut down the wells immediately to stop feeding the fires with air pumped in from the surface through air leaks in the vinyl cover. The study indicated that numbers of the wells have been excessively pumped as far back as 2007.

The study also noted that while hydrogen, a highly flammable gas, is not typically observed in landfill gas extraction operations, at Westlake Bridgeton LF, very high levels of up to 30 percent and more were confirmed routinely in scheduled gas samplings. In a dire historical warning, the study’s authors also expressly and explicitly reminded the Missouri attorney general and Republic Services of a catastrophic hydrogen explosion that occurred over New Jersey in May 1937.

The attorney general’s study notes:

“It is not unreasonable to anticipate that a much larger bubble (of hydrogen gas) could develop beneath the EVOH (vinyl membrane cover) in the event of a prolonged power failure …

H2 is a highly flammable and explosive gas. Many will recollect the explosion of the Hindenburg dirigible as a graphic reminder of the danger posed by hydrogen gas in bubbles. LFCI (Landfill Fire Control, Inc., the company consulted by the state of Missouri) believes that an emergency plan needs to be developed concerning safe work procedures around these bubbles if one does not exist currently.”

The study adds:

“With elevated temperatures and exposure to oxygen through the observed overdraw condition, the oxidation of char could result in rapid escalation of temperatures. In LFCI’s opinion this condition has the potential to result in a major subsurface fire. Combustion temperatures for char can exceed 1,500 degrees F. There is a strong possibility that such a fire event would result in the melting of the EVOH membrane cap. If not quickly contained, this would allow very rapid incursion of atmospheric air in the subsurface, and potentially, a rapid escalation of the fire. At that point it may prove extremely difficult and highly dangerous to achieve control of the fire due to the risk of equipment collapse.”

Since the Westlake quarry was never lined before landfill filling began in the 1970s, the liquid (leachate) material within the waste mass is of profound health concern for the water table of St. Louis, and for the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers a scant few thousand yards away.

The attorney general’s recent study notes that Westlake LF is highly polluted with arsenic at 7 times water quality guidelines, mercury at 6 times drinking water (DW) limits and chromium at 1.4 times. An even greater concern are the volatile organic species including benzene at 182 times DW limits and 1,4 dichlorobenzene 6.7 times DW limits. A record finding for the company doing the study for St. Louis, however, was acetone at 140mg/L. Elevated cancer rates are noted for populations exposed to acetone concentrations at 6mg/L.

Moreover, butanone was found at 8.7mg/L. The EPA issues a 10-day health advisory for a 10Kg child at 7.5/L concentration, and a lifetime advisory at 4mg/L.

Of further vital importance, the attorney general’s consultants, in their September 2, 2015 report, scientifically documented the off-site migration of both toxins and uranium isotopes from the Westlake LF.

The nuclear waste and health calamity in St. Louis, like the many others around the country and globe, comprises yet another cataloguing of capitalism’s crimes, of the global profit system that constitutes a social and environmental scourge on humankind. And as far as America’s Wall Street elite is concerned, the working population is so much disposable refuse.

DOE SHIPPED NUCLEAR WASTE TO NEVADA FOR YEARS The U.S. Department of Energy shipped potentially dangerous nuclear material incorrectly labeled as low-level radioactive waste into Nevada for several years, the governor said. [HuffPost]

FBI spy planes over Ferguson and Baltimore, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

FBI Planes Are Watching You

3 June 2015

The Associated Press did a report on the FBI using small planes throughout the country to spy in on us. They claim that they are spying in on the bad guys. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks) and John Iadarola (Think Tank) break it down. Does the FBI need to gather this much data to keep us safe? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

“Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.

For decades, the planes have provided support to FBI surveillance operations on the ground. But now the aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and in rare circumstances, technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones, raising questions about how these surveillance flights affect Americans’ privacy.

“It’s important that federal law enforcement personnel have the tools they need to find and catch criminals,” said Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But whenever an operation may also monitor the activities of Americans who are not the intended target, we must make darn sure that safeguards are in place to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.”

By Tom Hall in the USA:

FBI director admits use of spy planes over Ferguson and Baltimore

26 October 2015

FBI Director James Comey admitted in testimony last week before the House Judiciary Committee that the agency conducted surveillance flights over mass protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland over the past year, at the request of local police departments. Comey’s remarks confirmed an earlier Associated Press report revealing the FBI’s extensive use of secret flyovers throughout the country.

The hearing itself, mislabeled as being dedicated to the “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” was a further indication of the ability of government agencies like the FBI to carry out illegal mass surveillance against the American population with impunity. Comey contradicted himself at key points through his testimony, which the members of the Committee allowed to pass without comment.

He absurdly claimed in his testimony that the FBI’s flyovers are not used for “mass surveillance,” but only to track specific individuals targeted by an investigation, despite the obvious fact that low-flying, camera-equipped aircraft are ideally suited to follow large numbers of people simultaneously over a wide area. As the ACLU noted recently on its website, new technologies that are now commercially available to police departments nationwide can monitor an area of 25 square miles from low-circling aircraft.

Comey subsequently contradicted this claim when he effectively admitted that the FBI’s spy planes were deployed to Ferguson and Baltimore to spy on the protests as a whole and not specific individuals. “If there is tremendous turbulence in a community, it’s useful to everybody, civilians and law enforcement, to have a view of what’s going on,” Comey told the Committee. “Where are the fires in this community? Where are people gathering ? Where do people need help? And sometimes the best view of that is above rather than trying to look from a car on the street (emphasis added).”

In fact, the federal government closely coordinated with state and local police from day one in both Ferguson and Baltimore in directing the military-style crackdown on largely peaceful protesters. Leading Washington officials, including Barack Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder, lent their voices to the demonization of protesters in order to legitimize the use of violence against them. There can be no doubt that the FBI, an organization with a long history of political repression against dissident groups, was intimately involved at the highest levels in the direction of the crackdown.

Comey then explained under direct questioning that the agency does not obtain warrants before carrying out flyovers, because, as he claimed, “We are not collecting the content of anybody’s communication or engaging anything besides following someone in that investigation … The law is pretty clear that you don’t need a warrant for that kind of observation.” However, Comey later admitted to the Committee that at least some FBI planes are also equipped with “Stingray” technology, which mimics cell phone towers in order to fool nearby phones into establishing connections with it, enabling police to monitor communications and track users’ whereabouts.

Although the Justice Department changed its internal policy last month to require the FBI and other agencies to obtain search warrants before using “Stingray” devices, state and local police are able to use their own devices, subsidized by the federal government, with complete secrecy and without even token oversight. Furthermore, while a recent Justice Department memo banned agencies from using drones “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment,” this restriction does not apply to manned aircraft such as those operated by the FBI.

Comey’s claim of a limited scope for surveillance does not square with the extraordinary level of secrecy surrounding the program. The Associated Press story this June, which first revealed the FBI’s use of surveillance flights, traced over 50 aircraft to shell companies set up by the bureau throughout the country, and found that the agency had conducted more than 100 flights in 11 states during a one-month span this spring.

The AP found that some flights circled “large, enclosed buildings,” such as malls and airports, “where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection,” suggesting the use of “Stingray” technology.

Furthermore, numerous flyovers have been observed in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb with the country’s largest Arab-American community and which has been subjected to routine harassment by local and federal police since the September 11th attacks.

Comey’s frank admission of the FBI’s use of aerial surveillance was met with hardly a word of protest from the members of the House Judiciary Committee, ostensibly tasked with overseeing the activities of the federal police. Neither Comey’s claim that the FBI planes were not conducting “mass surveillance” in Ferguson nor his argument that such flights did not require a warrant were challenged by the Committee. Instead, members of the Committee competed with one another in showering Comey and his organization with fawning praise.

The day following his testimony before Congress, Comey gave a speech at the University of Chicago Law School in which he attempted to pin the blame on a supposed rise in crime rates on the increased public scrutiny of police in the aftermath of the Michael Brown killing last year. Comey was in Chicago in advance of this week’s conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“I don’t know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year,” Comey said. “I’ve been told by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video … Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close ‘What are you guys doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning’ policing. We need to be careful it doesn’t drift away from us in the age of viral videos, or there will be profound consequences.”

The theory that a spike in violent crime nationwide in US cities is due in part to fear on the part of police that their activities will be recorded by hostile bystanders and posted on Youtube, known as the “Ferguson Effect,” has no basis in fact.

In the first place, there is no evidence that, outside of a few municipalities, there has been a statistically meaningful spike in violent crime in the United States at all. Second, the claim that police are legitimately concerned that they could face punishment if videos of their activity were recorded does not hold water when even officers who have been filmed committing acts of murder have not been disciplined, let alone arrested and charged with a crime. Finally, the only significant slowdowns in arrest rates this year have been due to work slowdowns, such as those organized in New York City and Baltimore, directed against city administrations deemed to be insufficiently fervent in their defense of the police.

Instead, the Ferguson Effect “theory” is a politically-motivated slander against police brutality protesters designed to portray police as victims and shield their activities from scrutiny. It has been most heavily promoted by right-wing demagogues and officials of local police unions. Even the New York Times, which functions as a compliant mouthpiece for the American state, was compelled to admit in its reporting of Comey’s remarks that the existence of a “Ferguson Effect” was “far from settled.”

The decision by Comey to publically solidarize himself with the arguments of the far-right was allegedly a source of some embarrassment to the Obama administration (the Times cited unnamed officials who “privately fumed” at Comey’s remarks).

If Comey felt secure in scapegoating police brutality protesters the day after he confirmed that the FBI conducted surveillance against them, it is because he knows his agency is subjected to virtually no democratic restraints.

WHITE HOUSE DISAGREES WITH FBI DIRECTOR ON SOURCE OF CRIME WAVE “The White House on Monday slammed FBI Director James Comey’s notion that pervasive cellphone footage featuring police actions has led to an uptick in violent crime.” [Nick Visser, HuffPost]

In two recent speeches in Chicago, FBI Director James Comey has asserted that police anxiety in “the era of viral videos” is partially responsible for a rise in violent crime in many big US cities: here.

FBI Director James Comey’s apology for police murder: here.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE STILL AT IT Almost 50 Ferguson protesters are fighting charges under a law critics say was declared unconstitutional nearly 30 years ago. [HuffPost

Ferguson School District Violated Voting Rights Act, Judge Rules. He concluded the district “deprives African American voters of an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice”: here.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sent feeds that helped police track minorities in Ferguson and Baltimore, report says: here.

Ferguson, USA residents interviewed

This video from the USA says about itself:

Ferguson, Missouri residents discuss social conditions, support autoworkers

6 October 2015

More than one year has passed since the police murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The peaceful protests that followed the killing were violently suppressed by police forces and the National Guard, which deployed military-grade vehicles and weapons against US citizens.

World Socialist Web Site reporters returned to Ferguson to ask residents for an update on the living conditions in this impoverished St Louis suburb. They discussed with Ferguson residents the ongoing fight of US autoworkers.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALLY SUES FERGUSON “The Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday in an effort to end what it described as patterns of constitutional violations by the city’s police department and municipal court.” [Ryan Reilly and Sebastian Murdock, HuffPost]