How to fix Global Warming

From KOS

We’re All Going To Die Hotlist

Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 10:25:28 PM PDT

I was so excited this morning when I got up. Yesterday, I thought I saw a light. Some may remember a not very happy post I did a while back called, Time to Tell the Truth About Global Warming. In it I explain how global warming is so much worse than most people realize because once CO2 gets into the atmosphere, it stays there, to varying degrees, for centuries at least. And I explained how even if we stopped the engine of the world tomorrow, and reduced CO2 emissions to exactly zero, it would not avert the climate catastrophe that has begun, and will continue to get much much worse over the next 40 years and beyond.

This is incredibly important because it means that the only way we can really avoid the climate catastrophe is to not only cut emissions, but to remove the CO2 we’ve already put into the atmosphere.

The reason I was so excited is because I now believe that that technology is both available, and feasible to actually do just that – remove the billions of tons of CO2 that is threatening our very survival. The reason why we’re all going to die is because the people who run the world, and most importantly, our primary form of communication, television, are too stupid, greedy and corrupt to allow it to happen.

The only thing I’m going to say about Reverend Wright is this: Who gives a fuck.

If you combine a few of the most respected and prominent reports–many of which are ridiculously conservative and already obsolete in their optimism–what we are looking at over the next 50 or 70 years is apocalyptic – large continental areas turning to desert, billions forced to migrate seeking water and food, mass extinctions of species, disease and famine. Then the real fun begins as nations compete for diminishing water, food and energy, resulting in massive geopolitical instability and eventually war. It won’t all happen at once. It will play out over decades and, in fact, it’s already started. If I believed in such things I might be thinking, Cue horseman 1, horsemen 2-4 standby.

But about a year ago I heard about this guy who built a machine that could literally suck CO2 right from the air. His name is Klaus Lackner, a physicist at Columbia University. I didn’t take Professor Lackner’s machine too seriously at the time because his prototype is really small – it only captures about ten pounds a day.

But last night I saw an article in the LA Times about Lackner’s little machine and they had some numbers: “sucking up the current stream of emissions would require about 67 million boxcar-sized filters at a cost of trillions of dollars a year.”

Now, if you are like me, you’re probably thinking, SIXTY SEVEN MILLION? Trillions of dollars a year? We’re all going to die.

But I had a different take yesterday. Why? Because I had coincidentally been reading about how many automobiles are manufactured every year worldwide. And guess what, it’s almost the same. In 2005, Earthlings manufactured 65,318,744 cars, trucks, and buses. If I believed in such things, I might think this coincidence was divinely provident.

We make every year about the same number of autos as we would have to make of Dr. Lackner’s machines once, over say, ten years. That’s actually doable. The other catch though is Dr. Lackner’s CO2 removers are quite a bit more expensive than a Toyota Corolla.

According to the LA Times article:

Lackner calculated that sucking up all 28 billion tons of CO2 released worldwide each year would require spreading out his machines over a land area the size of Arizona.

That seems like a reasonable sacrifice to save civilization, until you consider the expense.

Experts estimate that it would cost up to $200 a ton to filter and store carbon dioxide from the air. That means the yearly vacuuming bill could reach $5.6 trillion.

Yes, by all means, let’s save civilization. Unless it’s going to be really expensive. Then let’s just all die. It’s cheaper.

Granted, 5.6 trillion a year is really expensive. That’s almost 7 times our annual defense budget. But since this is a world issue, we should probably use a world scale. The CIA has the annual Gross World Product (GWP) at around 65 trillion. So while it ain’t cheap, we can afford it.

Now, a quick reality check.

As you may have noticed though, even with all 67 million machines, we would only offset our current annual emissions. What about all that CO2 that’s already up there. That’s where reductions in emission comes in. It would only be through a combination of some serious emission reductions and CO2 removal that we could start seeing a reversal. But with out a device like Dr. Lackner’s machine, there will not be a solution to the climate catastrophe. Catastrophe will happen, even if we reduced emissions to zero.

There are, of course, other complications to implementing this technology. These devices require a lot of energy to work. And unless they are equipped with some kind of clean energy supply, they will just cancel themselves out. Again, from the LA Times:

The orchards of filters would have to be powered by complexes of new nuclear plants, dams, solar farms or other clean-energy sources to avoid adding more pollution to the atmosphere.

Notice the word “or”. It’s a small word wrapped around big words like nuclear and plants. I haven’t found the specifics on how much energy these things require, but there’s no reason to get the Nuclear Lobby all excited. There are ways to power these things without injecting uranium into the equation.

The bottom line

Dr. Lackner’s machine is a prototype. It works, but there can be no doubt the technology will improve dramatically, making them more efficient, and reducing costs. Other brands will come on the market. Competition will ensue. But we need to start building these things immediately. If something better comes along, we’ll switch to it. Lackner’s little startup company, Global Research Technologies, LLC needs to be bankrolled like they invented the fountain of youth.

And more than anything, especially as it applies here in the netroots, people need to be informed that the climate change we are experiencing now is not just the result of CO2 that was put into the atmosphere this year, or the last, but 100 years ago. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds, even thousands of years.

Cutting emissions will not save us. We MUST remove the CO2 that’s already there AND cut emissions. CO2 vacuum farms like Dr. Lackner envisions are our lifeline. This is a global problem that requires a massive global solution. That is hard enough.

But this problem also requires something else, something that may be even harder. Harder because, in spite of the challenges that we face in trying to develop and implement CO2 sequestration technology on a global scale, I sincerely believe that our time is optimum for taking on this kind of challenge. People can do incredible things, and we actually have the technological and communication infrastructure to pull it off – something we didn’t have 50 years ago.

But our biggest challenge is not the task. It is installing leaders who can actually call us to action. The United States has allowed itself to become subjugated to a small, corrupt, and frankly, stupid cabal of individuals. The “global elite” and their fawns in the media. We are witnessing it daily in the coverage of news and the election of 2008. We witness it in the response by the barons of industry who not only fail to act, but actually deliberately prevent us from acting, with their lobbying and PR campaigns to deceive the public about global warming.

The fight to retake our media, our democracy, and our country is no longer just about progress. It is about survival. We simply cannot afford to continue allowing the frivolous, the inane, the self-interested to manipulate our national conversation and our democracy. “Not this time” is not just about getting a good guy elected for a change. It is about our very survival.

Television is the most powerful political tool ever invented. And we have handed it over to people who use it for their own gain, at the expense of the public. They have lied about, distorted and filtered the information essential to a functioning democracy – all in the interests of protecting their interests. Quite simply, they have used our publicly owned airwaves against us. The responsibility to the Common Good for the use of those airwaves was the deal we made. They have abused it.

After watching yet another American election packed into banality by the corporate media, I am convinced more than ever that if we don’t retake the national conversation, through the democratic instruments of power, namely our government and the FCC, our nation and our world will see only darkness to come. We will never solve the problems we face. And we, or our children, may very well perish for it.


April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rev. Wright Swiftboating Turning Republicans Into Democrats

From Kos

Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 04:04:35 AM PDT

The swiftboating by McCain, the GOP, and their talking heads in the media is backfiring BIG TIME on the Republicans and will continue to do so.

A Republican supporter I know of McCain switched over to Obama on Monday because of the Reverend Wright Swiftboating. Here’s what’s happened. I’m seeing similar stories elsewhere on the Internet, perhaps you have a story like this that you would like to share.

First, let me be clear that the Republican who just switched over is not comfortable with the Reverend Wright clips shown endlessly on TV and that this Republican does not agree with them one iota. On that, we all happen to agree. Obama agrees with him as well but you would never know that watching Faux News.

Second, it then dawned on this Republican that Obama had already condemned these remarks but he still found the remarks troublesome. But then the Republican stated the obvious – That you just can’t automatically deem somebody guilty by this loose of an association.

Third, it next occurred to the Republican that the constant attacks on Obama were just unfair.

I then took a risk. I asked the man, “Do you know who John Hagee is?” He said, “No, never heard of him.”

I asked, “What if I told you that he was a pastor whom John McCain actively sought an endorsement from?” There was no problem with this. I then asked, “What if I could show you quotes where Pastor Hagee called Catholicism the great whore, said Jews deserved the Holocaust, and that Hurricane Katrina was god’s punishment for the people of New Orleans?”

I then said, “Let me ask you this. Why isn’t Fox News and the media running loops of these quotes 24-7? You’re an educated man and even you hadn’t known of these quotes until I told you. How does that feel?”

He told me, “If what you are saying is true, then John McCain is an asshole.” I gave him the sites to check out, the tools to research. And to his credit he did. He comes back a few minutes later and says, “To hell with McCain, I’m voting for Obama.”

I suspect that some form of the above is happening all across America as the swiftboating of Barack Obama is backfiring big time on the Republican Party, a Party that has inflicted severe damage on this nation for the past several decades.

Most Americans, even most Republicans, are not Insanitized. Most Americans are also decent by nature. They understand when an attack is unfair.

(Note- This article does not take into account Obama’s strong leadership and immediate denunciation of Wright’s latest remarks. I surmise that Obama helped himself even more.)

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Palestinian groups agree on truce

Palestinian leaders met in Cairo to discuss the deal

Several Palestinian factions have accepted, in principle, to a ceasefire with Israel.
A Palestinian official has said that 11 small groups agreed in Cairo on Wednesday to proposals that include a six-month truce, a prisoner exchange and reopening of the border between Gaza and Israel.
Israel will now be asked if it accepts the proposal.

The truce, if it is implemented, will initially take effect in Gaza, with a view to being extended to the West Bank.
Egyptian security officials mediated the talks with the factions, including Islamic Jihad, but not Hamas or Fatah, who control Gaza and the West Bank respectively.

Mena, the Middle Eastern and North African news agency, reported that some of the groups still had some reservations on the plan, despite a deal being reached.

Naser al-Kafarnah, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told Al Jazeera: “The armed groups of the Palestinian resistance movement have agreed on the Egyptian proposal.

“We at the PFLP have pointed out several points that we are not with the ceasefire in principle as long as there is an occupation.

“However, the PFLP will not launch any attacks that will affect the Egyptian proposal.”

No date set

Al-Kafarnah said that no date has been set as yet for the ceasefire to commence.

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However, a date could be set if Egypt manages to secure the acceptance of the deal by a majority of the Palestinian groups and presents it to the Israel.

Amani Soliman, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst, said: “There are three or four major groups that the talks have been going on with. But from these groups there are many splinter groups that are difficult to rein in … It’s these smaller groups that have agreed to this truce.”

Soliman said that Hamas had been talking with the Egyptian authorities separately and agreed to a truce last week.

The two deals will be taken to the Israeli authorities by the Egyptians in the next few days, she said.

“It will now be up to the Israelis to agree to the deal,” Soliman said.

Israel had said that Hamas’s agreement on a peace deal was simply a way for them to regroup and rearm.

But Soliman said that there was the possibility that Israel could observe this new truce as it is a short-term cessation of hostilities.

She said that because Israel is going to celebrate its 60th anniversary as a nation in the coming days, it would want peace during this time.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How about some “real” news….

People Exclusive

Miley Cyrus: I’m Sorry for Photos

Originally posted Sunday April 27, 2008 07:00 PM EDT

Miley Cyrus Photo by: Michael Anthony / INF
I'm Sorry for Photos | Miley Cyrus
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Miley Cyrus issued a statement exclusively to PEOPLE on Sunday, apologizing for a series of playfully provocative photos that circulated on the Internet last week, as well as those from a racy, as-yet unreleased Vanity Fair photo shoot in which she appears to be nude.

The singer, 15, tells PEOPLE: “My goal in my music and my acting is always to make people happy. For Vanity Fair

, I was so honored and thrilled to work with Annie [Leibovitz]. I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed.”

A source close to the singer tells PEOPLE that Cyrus is clothed but shown by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz in such a way that that the teen appears to be topless.

In the photos that circulated on the Internet, Cyrus, her midriff exposed, is shown draped over the lap of her then-boyfriend, her producer’s son. In another image, a hint of a green bra is evident. (Those photos alone prompted criticism from conservative TV commentator Bill O’Reilly, as well as words of support from the Jonas Brothers and a fellow Disney star.)

Cyrus goes on to say: “The pictures of me on the Internet were silly, inappropriate shots. I appreciate all the support of my fans, and hope they understand that along the way I am going to make mistakes and I am not perfect. I never intended for any of this to happen and I am truly sorry if I have disappointed anyone.

“Most of all,” she says, “I have let myself down. I will learn from my mistakes and trust my support team. My family and my faith will guide me through my life’s journey.”

Disney Channel Statement

In its own statement about the Vanity Fair story, the Disney Channel, which broadcasts Cyrus’s series Hannah Montana, said: “Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines.”

Describing the photo session to PEOPLE, a source close to Cyrus reiterated the teen’s excitement at working with Leibovitz, and also said of the shoot: “Her parents were there all day. [Father] Billy Ray shot, too.”

Though Cyrus’s parents left before the final shot, with Miley supposed to be appearing topless, the source said: “Miley’s grandmother and her teacher were there when she shot it. Annie convinced them it was going to be artistic. Her parents are mortified. They know this is a learning moment for Miley.

“The photo suggests that she is [naked], but she is not. She is covered by a sheet, and beneath the sheet she is clothed. Originally, she was in a flesh-colored tank top but was asked to remove it.”

PEOPLE’s requests to Vanity Fair for comment were not answered on Sunday. In a statement to The New York Times, Beth Kseniak, a spokeswoman for both Vanity Fair and Leibovitz, said: “Miley’s parents and/or minders were on the set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley.”


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April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I’m sorry, I’m so disgusted with the resurfacing of the Wright controversy via his remarks at the National Press Club that I am left speechless. Literally.

I’ll reemerge from my protective shell when I can stand it again.


April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sharpton vows to ‘close this city’ after officer acquittals – My Man!!

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of angry people marched through Harlem on Saturday after the Rev. Al Sharpton promised to “close this city down” to protest the acquittals of three police detectives in the 50-shot barrage that killed a groom on his wedding day and wounded two friends.

“We strategically know how to stop the city so people stand still and realize that you do not have the right to shoot down unarmed, innocent civilians,” Sharpton told an overflow crowd of several hundred people at his National Action Network office in the historically black Manhattan neighborhood. “This city is going to deal with the blood of Sean Bell.”

Sharpton was joined by the family of 23-year-old Sean Bell — a black man — and a friend of Bell who was wounded in the 2006 shooting outside a Queens strip club. Two of the three officers charged were also black.

The rally at Sharpton’s office was followed by a 20-block march down Malcolm X Boulevard and then across 125th Street, Harlem’s main business thoroughfare, where some bystanders yelled out “Kill the police!”

Fifty of the marchers carried white placards bearing big black numbers for each of the police bullets fired at Bell and his friends.

Sharpton urged people to return for a meeting this coming week “to plan the day that we will close this city down” with the kind of “massive civil disobedience” once led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“They never accused Sean Bell of doing anything. Then why is he dead?” Sharpton asked, his voice roaring with anger. Authorities “have shown now that they will not hold police accountable. Well, guess what? If you won’t, we will!”

“Shut it down! Shut it down!” the crowd chanted, standing up and applauding wildly.

Sharpton didn’t say exactly how they would protest the acquittals of the officers who fired the 50 shots. He said Bell’s supporters could demonstrate all over the city, from Wall Street to the home of Justice Arthur Cooperman, who on Friday acquitted the three detectives after a nonjury trial.

Sitting behind Sharpton as he spoke were Bell’s parents, his sister and Nicole Paultre Bell, who took her fiance’s name after his death.

“The justice system let me down,” Paultre Bell told the crowd in a soft voice. “April 25, 2008: They killed Sean all over again. That’s what it felt like to us.”

It was her first public comment since she stormed out of a courtroom Friday after the NYPD detectives were cleared in Bell’s killing as he left his bachelor party.

One of Bell’s companions, Joseph Guzman, also spoke briefly on Saturday, saying: “We’ve got a long fight.”

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Syria – Who, us? Nuclear weapons? Liar,liar… Pants on Fire!

WASHINGTON (AP) — Syria’s ambassador to the United States said Friday that the CIA fabricated pictures allegedly taken inside a secret Syrian nuclear reactor and predicted that in the coming weeks the U.S. story about the site would “implode from within.”

“The photos presented to me yesterday were ludicrous, laughable,” Ambassador Imad Moustapha told reporters at his Washington residence.

However, he refused to say what the building in the remote eastern desert of Syria was used for before Israeli jets bombed it in September 2007.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday they believe it was a secret nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium, which can be used to make high-yield nuclear weapons. They alleged that North Korea aided in the design, construction and outfitting of the building.

Syria bulldozed the building’s ruins a month after it was bombed and constructed a new, larger building in its place, leaving little or no evidence of what had been on the site.

Moustapha would not explain the purpose of the new building. But he said the lack of military checkpoints, air defenses or barbed wire fences around either building should show that it was not a sensitive facility.

So far, Syria has not allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the area.

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, pledged on Friday to cooperate with the IAEA and suggested that “the main target of the American CIA allegations against Syria is to justify the Israeli attack against the Syrian side.”

In a message to employees, CIA Director Michael Hayden praised the agency’s “outstanding” work, calling it “a case study in rigorous analytic tradecraft, skillful human and technical collection.”

But some outside nuclear experts were questioning some of the CIA’s analysis, though not disputing its conclusions.

David Albright, president of the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security, analyzed commercial satellite imagery of the bombed facility last fall and surmised then it was a nuclear reactor. He questioned the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the reactor was within months or weeks of completion.

“It’s not clear-cut it was ready to turn on,” Albright said.

He also took issue with the Bush administration’s assertion that the reactor was solely intended to support a nuclear weapons program. Officials said Thursday the reactor was ill-suited for electrical generation — it lacked distribution wires or substations — and did not bear the hallmarks of a research reactor. They concluded the plutonium was therefore meant for weapons but acknowledged they had no direct evidence of that.

Almost all reactors produce plutonium, even those dedicated to peaceful purposes, Albright said.

“Civilian uses are possible and cannot be dismissed out of hand,” he said. “I think the CIA and the White House have not shown that the only possibility for this reactor is that it was to make plutonium for nuclear weapons.”

“It very well could be true,” he said, “but it is far less than ironclad, absent other information.”

According to the CIA, the Syrian reactor was modeled on a small North Korean reactor built at Yongbyon. That facility produced a small amount of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Albright said that facility was also a research effort to determine if the North Koreans could scale up the model to produce electricity efficiently.

Siegfried Hecker, the co-director for Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said the evidence strongly suggests Syria’s intention was to produce plutonium. He agreed with the assessment that the plant was not well-suited for generating electricity.

“On the other hand, it was the best path to bomb-grade plutonium,” he said. “That was most likely the primary purpose of this facility.”

One piece of evidence that casts doubt on Syrian intentions to produce plutonium for weapons was the absence of a reprocessing facility, necessary to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.

But Anthony Cordesman, a military expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that may not have been a serious impediment. Syria could quickly build such a reprocessing capability, he said.

Cordesman also said the CIA undercut its case against Syria by not explaining how a plutonium-producing reactor would fit into Syria’s “long history” of suspicious activities that suggest it is trying to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bill Moyers on Jerimia Wright


By far and away the best documentary I have seen about this “infamous” man.

No surprise.

It’s Bill Moyers, after all.

Anyone interested can go to the site and watch it or read the whole transcript.

HIGHLY recommended!

Bill Moyers on Wright

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh Jesus, not the beginning, I hope….

From Debka

Exclusive: First frank talk of potential war on Iran from top US soldier

April 26, 2008, 10:10 AM (GMT+02:00)

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Addressing a news conference in Washington, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday, April 25, the Pentagon is planning for “potential military courses of action” against Iran. He spoke of the Tehran government’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. A conflict with Iran would be “extremely stressing” he said, but not impossible and “it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability.” The admiral stressed the reserve capabilities of the Navy and Air Force.

Adm. Mullen’s statement came four days after US defense secretary Robert Gates said he favored keeping the military option against Iran on the table “given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat – either directly or through proliferation.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources report those remarks were underscored by news of large US naval, air and marine forces on their way to beef up the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources reported Friday that the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group has just taken up position in Persian Gulf waters. It consists of 12 warships led by the giant LSD-41 class USS Whidby Island landing craft, submarines and eight assault squadrons. The legend on their banner is: Give ‘em Hell.

Another nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, will soon set out for the region from the South China Sea, along with two more US naval strike forces: the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Nimitz attended by strike groups.

Adm. Mullen went on to say: “I have no expectations that we’re going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future.” Our sources ask what time scale is indicated by the indefinite “immediate future” – the 8 months remaining to the Bush presidency or thereafter.

Mullen tied his remarks to Iran’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. Of late, the US Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus pointed out that Iran is interfering increasingly in Iran and continues to arm insurgent militias.

The Tehran government is clearly not deterred by Washington’s warnings or its military movements.

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remeber Rondney King? Does ANYTHING ever change?

I hope NYC doesn’t burn down, but I could hardly blame anyone if it did.



BREAKING NEWS: Officers Found Not Guilty In Sean Bell Case

NEW YORK — Three police detectives have been found not guilty of all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, the groom-to-be who was killed on his wedding day outside a Queens strip club.

Officers Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper were acquitted of all counts after Bell died in a hail of 50 police bullets. Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was shot just hours before he was to be married on Nov. 25, 2006. He was unarmed.

# Verdict Sheet

Oliver, 36, and Isnora, 29, faced charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment. Cooper, 40, faced charges of reckless endangerment.

Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a Queens courtroom packed with spectators, including victim Sean Bell’s fiancee and parents, as at least 200 people gathered outside the building.

The verdict provoked an outpouring of emotions: Bell’s fiancee immediately walked out of the room. His mother cried. Gasps were heard throughout the room.

Shouts of “No!” and “Not guilty!” erupted in the crowd outside the courthouse as word of the verdict began to spread. Dozens of people in the crowd began crying after hearing the verdict.

A number of people who had gathered at the scene also scuffled with police.

In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there were “no winners” in a trial in which “an innocent man lost his life.” He urged New Yorkers to accept the judge’s authority, even though they might disagree with his decision.

“There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation,” Bloomberg said. “We don’t expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it. We have come too far as society — and as a City — to be dragged back to those days.”

Before announcing the verdict, the judge made a statement indicating that the police officers’ version of events was more credible than the victims’ version. “The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified” in shooting the victims, Cooperman said.

Officers Michael Oliver, 36, and Gescard Isnora, 29, stood trial for manslaughter while Officer Marc Cooper, 40, was charged only with reckless endangerment. Two other shooters weren’t charged. Oliver squeezed off 31 shots; Isnora fired 11 rounds; and Cooper shot four times.

A conviction on manslaughter could have brought up to 25 years in prison.

The case brought back painful memories of other NYPD shootings, such as the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo — an African immigrant who was gunned down in a hail of 41 bullets by police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. The acquittal of the officers in that case created a storm of protest, with hundreds arrested after taking to the streets in demonstration.

The mood surrounding this case has been muted by comparison, although Bell’s fiancee, parents and their supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, have held rallies demanding that the officers — two of whom are black — be held accountable.

The officers, complaining that pretrial publicity had unfairly painted them as cold-blooded killers, opted to have the judge decide the case rather than a jury.

The nearly two-month trial was marked by deeply divergent accounts on the part of defense lawyers and prosecutors.

The defense painted the victims as drunken thugs who the officers believed were armed and dangerous. Prosecutors sought to convince the judge that the victims had been minding their own business, and that the officers were inept, trigger-happy aggressors.

In his closing arguments, prosecutor Charles Testagrossa alluded to the starkly different views of the shooting.

“If you are a police officer or sympathetic to police officers, the defendants are tragic heroes and the victims are thugs,” he said. “If you are friends of the victims, then the defendants are murderers.”

None of the officers took the witness stand in his own defense.

Instead, Cooperman heard transcripts of the officers testifying before a grand jury, saying they believed they had good reason to use deadly force. The judge also heard testimony from Bell’s two injured companions, who insisted the maelstrom erupted without warning.

Both sides were consistent on one point: The utter chaos surrounding the last moments of Bell’s life.

“It happened so quick,” Isnora in his grand jury testimony. “It was like the last thing I ever wanted to do.”

Bell’s companions — Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman — also offered dramatic testimony about the episode. Benefield and Guzman were both wounded; Guzman still has four bullets lodged in his body.

Referring to Isnora, Guzman said, “This dude is shooting like he’s crazy, like he’s out of his mind.”

The victims and shooters were set on a fateful collision course by a pair of innocuous decisions: Bell’s to have a last-minute bachelor party at Kalua Cabaret, and the undercover detectives’ to investigate reports of prostitution at the club.

The party, according to Bell’s friends, was boozy but uneventful. But the undercovers were jumpy.

“I felt uncomfortable,” testified Detective Hispolito “Hip” Sanchez, who with Isnora posed as a patron that night. “I just didn’t feel good about it.”

As the club closed around 4 a.m., Sanchez and Isnora claimed they overheard Bell and his friends first flirt with women, then taunt a stranger who responded by putting his right hand in his pocket as if he had a gun. Guzman, they testified, said, “Yo, go get my gun” — something Bell’s friends denied.

Isnora said he decided to arm himself, call for backup — “It’s getting hot,” he told his supervisor — and tail Bell, Guzman and Benefield as they went around the corner and got into Bell’s car. He claimed that after warning the men to halt, Bell pulled away, bumped him and rammed an unmarked police van that converged on the scene with Oliver at the wheel.

The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun.

“I yelled ‘Gun!’ and fired,” he said. “In my mind, I knew (Guzman) had a gun.”

Benefield and Guzman testified that there were no orders. Instead, Guzman said, Isnora “appeared out of nowhere” with a gun drawn and shot him in the shoulder — the first of 16 shots to enter his body.

“That’s all there was — gunfire,” he said. “There wasn’t nothing else.”

With tires screeching, glass breaking and bullets flying, the officers claimed that they believed they were the ones under fire. Oliver responded by emptying his semiautomatic pistol, reloading, and emptying it again, as the supervisor dived for cover.

The truth emerged when the smoke cleared: There was no weapon inside Bell’s blood-splattered car.

After an ambulance was summoned, the shaken detectives gathered in the middle of the street — a scene the supervisor described as “surreal.”

“We were all in shock,” he said. “We thanked God that none of us were hit and we were going home.”

In closing arguments, defense attorneys accused prosecutors of building their case on the unreliable testimony of Bell’s friends. They noted that Guzman and Benefield both have criminal records and $50 million lawsuits against the city.

The pair were part of “a parade of convicted felons, crack dealers and men who were not strangers to weapons,” said James Culleton, Oliver’s attorney.

A lawyer for Isnora, Anthony Ricco, portrayed his client as an unjustly vilified hero who had exercised “enormous restraint” before pulling the trigger. But Testagrossa depicted the detectives as cowboys who wildly overreacted to some harmless trash talk. He suggested Oliver was the worst offender.

“Thirty-one shots,” the prosecutor said. “Thirty-one separate pulls of the trigger. … Thirty-one separate decisions to use deadly force. Thirty-one opportunities to pause and reassess whether continuing firing was necessary.

“Thirty-one opportunities to save an innocent life.”

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment