Oscar Lopez Rivera: Will Obama Pardon This Political Prisoner?

Published on Truthout, 28 May 2015.

Puerto Rican activist Oscar López Rivera, who was convicted by the US government of “seditious conspiracy” in 1981, is now one of the longest-held political prisoners in the world. President Obama has the opportunity to pardon López Rivera, 72, a move that could have political implications for the 2016 presidential election.

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Destroying What Remains: How the US Navy Plans to War Game the Arctic

This essay is a joint Truthout/TomDispatch report, published 21 May 2015.

I lived in Anchorage for 10 years and spent much of that time climbing in and on the spine of the state, the Alaska Range. Three times I stood atop the mountain the Athabaskans call Denali, “the great one.” During that decade, I mountaineered for more than half a year on that magnificent state’s highest peaks. It was there that I took in my own insignificance while living amid rock and ice, sleeping atop glaciers that creaked and moaned as they slowly ground their way toward lower elevations.

Alaska contains the largest coastal mountain range in the world and the highest peak in North America. It has more coastline than the entire contiguous 48 states combined and is big enough to hold the state of Texas two and a half times over. It has the largest population of bald eagles in the country. It has 430 kinds of birds along with the brown bear, the largest carnivorous land mammal in the world, and other species ranging from the pygmy shrew that weighs less than a penny to gray whales that come in at 45 tons. Species that are classified as “endangered” in other places are often found in abundance in Alaska.

Now, a dozen years after I left my home state and landed in Baghdad to begin life as a journalist and nine years after definitively abandoning Alaska, I find myself back. I wish it was to climb another mountain, but this time, unfortunately, it’s because I seem increasingly incapable of escaping the long and destructive reach of the US military.

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Experts Warn of “Cataclysmic” Changes as Planetary Temperatures Rise

Published on Truthout, 27 April 2015.

As California’s epic drought worsens, every day is considered “fire season,” record temperatures are set in the Antarctic and the majority of glaciers in Canada are expected to be gone by the end of the century. According to recent studies, we are at the very beginning of a period of “abrupt” climate disruption.

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Gulf Victims Suing BP Disaster’s Compensation Czar

Published on Truthout, 20 April 2015.

Shortly after BP’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, 2010, one of the most politically well-connected attorneys in the United States was appointed to administer the $20 billion fund to, in theory, pay compensation to those harmed by BP’s catastrophe.

President Obama and BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, agreed that attorney Kenneth Feinberg should head the fund. Feinberg would later be chosen, also by Obama, to oversee the compensation of the top executives of the banks that were bailed out with US tax dollars in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

He has, almost needless to say, been accused of being a fox guarding a chicken house.

Feinberg’s firm was paid $1.25 million per month by BP – that we know of (Feinberg refused to disclose the full amount of his compensation and the details of his deal with BP) – to run the so-called Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

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