The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it had decided to expand the fishing closure from its current northern boundary as a precautionary measure to make sure consumers don't eat seafood contaminated by the gulf oil spill. All told, a little more than 80,000 square miles, or 33 percent of Gulf of Mexico's federal waters, are now considered a closed area.
Because this remains an evolving situation, NOAA said that it will retest the area and reopen fisheries when they are deemed safe.
Meanwhile, commercial fishermen in the Gulf, who harvested more than one billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2008, face another threat to their livelihood: a growing "dead zone" with little or no oxygen in the water.
Double Trouble: Hurricane Alex's High Winds Drive Oil Ashore as High Surf Forces Halt to Skimming Work
As rough seas generated by Hurricane Alex pushed more oil from the massive spill onto Gulf coast beaches and sidelined cleanup vessels, a member of Congress scolded BP for not including hurricanes or tropical storms in its disaster response plan.
The waves churned up by the hurricane splattered beaches in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida with oil and tar balls.
Rep. Edward Markey said Wednesday that BP's omission is yet another example of what the oil giant was not prepared to handle.
Congressman Ed Markey talks with Rachel Maddow about his frustrations with the oil industry, most recently because of revelations that they have no plan for dealing with a hurricane catastrophe. [ 5:14 ]
As Hurricane Alex Barrels Through Gulf, Chairman Queries BP on Contingency Plans
June 30, 2010 - As Hurricane Alex moves through the Gulf of Mexico today, disrupting spill response operations, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) revealed that BP makes zero mentions of the words “hurricane” or “ tropical storm” in its response plan to a Gulf spill. Following this latest revelation highlighting BP’s unpreparedness for disasters, Rep. Markey asked BP to explain their storm contingency plans in full.
“The BP plan had walruses in the Gulf, but no hurricanes,” said Rep. Markey, who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Walruses haven't been in the Gulf in a few million years, while a hurricane is just a few hundred miles from the spill site right now. This is yet another example of BP serial complacency.”
Given that the always-civil and intellectually open-minded members of the Tea Party have slammed FAILBlog.org comments because FAILBlog complained about Meg Whitman hijacking FAILBlog imagery, the picture above seems an appropriate summary of the high degree of mental acuity and scholarly objectivity that rivets the Tea Party to reality.
The larger question, however, is obvious: What should we call these people?
Certainly, she is a "Tea Party Member," but is that enough? Are we doing these exemplary Americans a disservice with such bland appelation. Can we do better? Can we be more descriptive? Can we parsimoniously convey all that it means for a person to be affiliated with the wave of revolutionary fervor embodied by such brave, God-fearing, responsible parents, patriots, and public servants as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck?
The poll below will determine the official name for those in the Tea Party movement. While other names are certainly allowed, the name getting the most votes in the poll below will henceforth be the standard in American English usage and will thereby be encouraged in everyday conversation and literary works across the Blogosphere.
Please vote and, in so doing, set the standard not just for today, but for historians of the future who would otherwise drift aimlessly from one name to another for the 21st Century extremists who aspire to be more than just a flash in the pan like the Know Nothing Party and the Alaskan Witchdoctor Christianity enthusiasts.
Gov. Riley is following the new m.o. in our technologically-advanced modernity: prevailing upon the Gods for a propitious outcome. Everything old is new again. Sadly, the hair from the good ladies who donated theirs to the cause and the duffers' old Titleists didn't plug the gap. Perhaps some crop circles might help speed the matter.
Isn't it strange that a U.S. military-industrial complex which has the power to obliterate civilization does not possess the ability to cap an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico? We destroy with more facility than we repair.
The latest news assures us our next best hope is for mid-August, when a relief well will supposedly divert the gusher; but even that is not guaranteed.
The GOP, who since the inauguration of President Obama has suddenly found an overriding concern about "the deficit", has chosen to deny the struggling unemployed extra weeks of negligible unemployment checks, so that those unable to find jobs might be able to keep a roof over their heads a little while longer.
That's because the GOP, in spite of behaving like public funds are unlimited when it comes to bailing out their corporate masters on Wall Street, quickly morph back into the greedy, miserly Scrooges that they are when it comes to even the most minimal assistance for "the small people."
As noted on TMRP several days ago, the average unemployment check is $320.00 per week, which means that half the payments are less than that. No one could pay all their bills on that amount around here, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be in urban areas. Yet we have these GOP brain-trusts like Rep. John Linder of GA calling unemployment benefits "too much of an allure."
Please. That paltry sum is hardly an incentive to lay around the house all day watching The Price is Right, as these incredibly ignorant GOP bubble boys suppose.
The reality is that there are five job seekers for every available job opening, and thanks to the "Free Trade" bullshit which was largely engineered and promoted by the GOP, millions of jobs have been lost to the third world during the past couple of decades. Furthermore, many of the jobs that went overseas were the higher paying production, engineering, technical, and manufacturing jobs. Many of the jobs being created now are jobs that are low-paying service and labor jobs. Mid-level management and tech jobs have been decimated. And many of the so-called "newly created jobs" that are being touted by Gov-Corp are temporary positions that will not continue beyond a specific timeframe.
Look at the graph below, which shows the average lengths of time people have remained unemployed since about 1950:
As stated in a recent piece in The Business Insider, "It is getting really hard to find a job in the United States. A total of 6,130,000 U.S. workers had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in December 2009. That was the most ever since the U.S. government started keeping track of this statistic in 1948. In fact, it is more than double the 2,612,000 U.S. workers who were unemployed for a similar length of time in December 2008. The reality is that once Americans lose their jobs they are increasingly finding it difficult to find new ones."
And according to projections by Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder, 22% to 29% of all current U.S. jobs will be offshorable within two decades. There is nothing stopping corporations from exporting American jobs to the cheapest possible sweatshop in the most profitable third world hell-hole they can dig up (literally). Labor laws? Workers' rights? Environmental protections? Dream on! Casualties of the multi-national profit machines - idealistic, progressive dreams that have been ground into dust as the machines roll over them, steamrolled under the relentless, soul-less pursuit of more resources to consume and more profits to generate for the world's wealthiest stockholders. And more cheap junk for Americans to buy - for a little while longer, at least.
I think what's become obvious, in the contemptuous way the millionaire congressional elites treat the American citizenry, is the fact that the wealthiest Americans really don't need a functioning and relatively well-off middle class anymore. The labor functions that once were fulfilled by the middle class worker can mostly be done elsewhere for far less cost to the corporation. We have become, for the most part, expendable.
What's needed by the elites now is a generation of willing lower-wage service workers - people to wait on the well-to-do in their upscale restaurants, clean their exclusive homes, maintain the grounds, work their banquets. The wealthy still need drivers and nannies; retail clerks, massage therapists, and hair stylists.
While the professions of teaching and nursing have been harder to outsource, that pain has been eased by imposing far longer working hours and additional job duties. In general, this amounts to dumping the workload of three people onto a single worker, and then calling it cost management. Of course, the employee is so burnt out that they often can't last in their field until retirement age rolls around - but that's no matter to the corporate or Gov-Corp employer. There's always a fresh crop of younger human resources graduating from their educational "programming" at the university, and best of all, they can be paid much less!
I don't think there can be a more blatant statement of our value in the eyes of those who are paid to allegedly represent us: Refusing to help the unemployed with such minimal amounts of assistance, but approving - virtually no questions asked - billions upon billions of taxpayer money for corporate welfare and bailouts. Which nearly ALL the republicans and democrats did in 2008 for Dubya. Without regulation, without oversight, without even knowing for sure who all got what - something we STILL don't know, because the Fed and its congressional lackeys don't believe we have a right to know.
These slick corporate executives weren't even required to forgo their multi-million dollar bonuses, and were not removed from their jobs - in spite of the fact that it was their underhanded, unethical dealings and extremely poor judgement that got them into their mess in the first place. A mess which caused a worldwide economic meltdown.
But where were the GOP cries for "accountability" and "responsibility" then? (Weren't those the words they used when making it nearly impossible for average americans to discharge their debts through "bankruptcy reform"?) And where was the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the deficit when Cheney-BushCo was borrowing gazillions from China to fight the entirely bogus Iraq invasion - the premeditated oil war based on outright lies and fabricated evidence? Strangely, none of them seemed remotely concerned about the deficit then. And Dubya had inherited a surplus!
The next time you hear some idiot wingnut going off about the deficit, do me a favor and ask them those questions. Ask them why the deficit has only become a problem for them since Obama took office. And why their "deficit "concerns don't extend to any expenditures except those involving social programs and assistance. Their answer, if they can actually frame one, is sure to be entertaining in a sad, sick sort of way.
Also see this article:How Conservatives Helped Cause the Economic Destruction of America.
Byrd died at 3 a.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., according to the statement.
Byrd was hospitalized late last week with what was thought to be heat exhaustion and severe dehydration, according to his staff, which did not announce his hospitalization until Sunday afternoon. At that time, doctors described him as "seriously ill."
... his replacement would be named by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat.
Byrd's current term expires on January 3, 2013. Under West Virginia state law on handling Senate vacancies, "if the vacancy occurs less than two years and six months before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to fill the unexpired term and there is no election". Otherwise, Manchin would appoint an interim replacement, and an special election would be held in November to determine who held the seat in 2011 and 2012.
All along the Gulf coast, local officials have been demanding more help from the federal government to fight the spill, yet the Gulf states have deployed just a fraction of the National Guard troops the Pentagon has made available, CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.
That's a particular problem for the state of Louisiana, where the Republican governor has been the most vocal about using all resources. [snip]
But CBS News has learned that in addition to Louisiana's 1,053 troops of 6,000, Alabama has deployed 432 troops of 3,000 available. Even fewer have been deployed in Florida - 97 troops out of 2,500 - and Mississippi - 58 troops out of 6,000.
Following a CBS News Investigates report that Gulf coast governors haven't been fully utilizing the 17,500 National Guard troops authorized by the federal government to help them with the oil spill, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's office offered a tart response.
In a statement sent to ProPublica, Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said that Louisiana would "call up more National Guard troops as the Adjutant General tells us he needs them."
He followed up with a harsh criticism of the federal government's response efforts. [snip]
Jindal's statement doesn't address the specific question of why Louisiana is using only 1,053 of the 6,000 National Guard troops available to the state. The governor said that he would "deploy every resource" available to win the war against the BP oil spill, and complained that Coast Guard and BP authorization were required for individual tasks, which apparently slowed down the deployment of National Guard troops. However, the governor's office told CBS News that he has not specifically asked for more National Guard troops.
Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government official in charge of the response to the BP oil spill, said, "There is nothing standing in the governor's way from utilizing more National Guard troops." The Coast Guard has typically approved requests to deploy National Guard troop in a day.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) criticism of the federal government has been loud and frequent as the BP oil spill crisis intensified, but CBS News ran a very damaging piece last night, noting that Jindal has the authority to dispatch thousands of National Guard troops to the coast to help with the response, but has chosen not to. (via Jed Lewison)
The video is well worth watching -- it's only two-and-a-half minutes long -- in part because Jindal's decisions have been so inexplicable. The governor asked President Obama two months ago to authorize the use of 6,000 National Guard troops for the disaster, and the president immediately agreed. Jindal, however, only deployed 1,053 -- less than a fifth.
When CBS asked why, Jindal said he's forbidden from deploying more because it's up to "the Coast Guard and BP" to "authorize individual tasks."
In reality, Jindal is either deeply confused about something he should understand, or he was lying.
That's one "solution" proferred by the Governor of Louisiana. He's also been screaming that the federal government hasn't been doing enough. But, Jindal has one major resource at this disposal -- the National Guard -- and as John noted below, he's not using it.
Gov. Bobby Jindal rejected a bill Friday that would have required him to make public and to preserve all his office's documents involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In his veto letter, the governor said the legislation would have hurt the state's position in future litigation against BP PLC, the oil giant that leased the rig which exploded April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing the disaster.
"This bill would allow BP and other parties with potential liability to the state to obtain information retained by any state agency responding to this tragic event," Jindal wrote, saying such access could jeopardize the state's position in seeking legal remedy for the spill's damage.
Today's report in the NYT adds more detail to Jindal's failure. The basic story: Louisiana's spill response plan was inadequate, largely because the state failed to fully develop a plan. As a result, instead of following a methodical, well-prepared plan, Bobby Jindal winged it, pursuing grandiose (and politically sexy) schemes that most state and local officials as well as experts consider counterproductive, such as Jindal's proposed barrier islands.
1. The state's oil spill coordinator's office has had its budget slashed by 50% over the last decade.
2. Last year, Jindal cut funding from the state's oil spill research program.
3. The state's oil spill contingency plan's include "pages of blank charts that are supposed to detail available supplies of equipment like oil-skimming vessels." A plan for a worst-case scenario was labeled "to be developed."
4. Before Jindal decided to attack the Federal response, state officials signed off on all Coast Guard response plans.
5. Jindal, who raged at the Federal government for not having enough boom, requested three times as much boom as the state's plan had called for -- and 50% more boom than existed in the entire nation.
The NYT report also details how Jindal developed and used his foolish "sand berm" idea as a political weapon. Nobody -- clearly not even Jindal himself -- actually took his idea seriously, but because it sounded nice at first glance, he proposed and almost immediately turned around and attacked the administration for not approving it, even though nobody thought it would actually work -- and some thought it would make things worse.
Therefore, a prince, not being able to exercise this virtue of liberality in such a way that it is recognized, except to his cost, if he is wise he ought not to fear the reputation of being mean, for in time he will come to be more considered than if liberal...
We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean... A prince, therefore, provided that he has not to rob his subjects, that he can defend himself, that he does not become poor and abject, that he is not forced to become rapacious, ought to hold of little account a reputation for being mean, for it is one of those vices which will enable him to govern...
[T]here is nothing wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even whilst you exercise it you lose the power to do so, and so become either poor or despised, or else, in avoiding poverty, rapacious and hated. And a prince should guard himself, above all things, against being despised and hated; and liberality leads you to both. Therefore it is wiser to have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred, than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred.
Perhaps Mr. Obama is learning to be a good prince.
Even at this late hour, perhaps it is not too late.
The Website that helped bring the word "fail" into everyday usage as a summary of judgment for acts of stupidity has a post up today detailing how California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman hijacked the site's reputation for her own campaign. From FAILBlog.org, part of the Cheezburger Network, comes this statement:
Some of you have emailed us concerning a political attack video by the Meg Whitman campaign for California governor which features a screenshot of FAIL Blog attacking the other candidate Jerry Brown. We want to make it VERY clear that FAIL Blog nor the Cheezburger Network had any involvement or knowledge of the Whitman campaign use of a screenshot of FAIL Blog. In fact, the screenshot portrayed in the video never existed because the Whitman campaign faked the content within the screenshot. FAIL Blog or the Cheezburger Network has never been involved in any endorsement of any candidate or political party and do not plan to do so.
This is a place for humor, a place to laugh, and to have light-hearted fun poking at each other and what we see in the world. The FAIL Blog community involves liberals, conservatives and everyone across the political spectrum. And we do not endorse the use of FAIL Blog’s image or any content on any of the Cheezburger sites for anyone’s political gain.
We demand a written apology from the Whitman campaign and the removal of the video.
Ben Huh, Founder of the Cheezburger Network
P.S. Jerry Brown, you better not be thinking of using this image or post in your political ad either.
In the true spirit of the FAIL blog, the post is accompanied by this assessment of Ms. Whitman, who has, indeed, earned her place in the pantheon of FAIL.
Now, be sure to see more Epic Fails at the best FAIL site on the Internet, and while you're there, don't forget to stop by and have a look at the Dark Wraith's LOLz at the Cheezburger Network.
The announcement followed a short meeting between McChrystal and the president. Obama summoned McChrystal to Washington after learning of a Rolling Stone profile in which the general trash-talked the president, his national security team and war strategy rival Vice President Joseph Biden.
As if all the Websites with blinking, flashing, jerking, twitching, annoyingly distracting ads weren't bad enough, the State of California is considering digital electronic license plates (DELPs) that would display ads when the vehicles on which the plates were mounted had not been in motion for at least four seconds.
Yes, the financially destitute state that brought us everything from tax revolts and Ronald Reagan to Hollywood and legalized medical marijuana is exploring the commercialization of license plates.
Bear in mind that license plates on vehicles are required by law, so this hare-brained, soon-to-be-a-stupid-reality plan would thereby make it effectively illegal not to allow corporations the use of private, personal property for advertisements.
Front-end public relations shills managing initial public perception of the scheme are quick to point out that the electronic license plates would also display "public service" messages about such important matters as traffic conditions and Amber alerts, but the unqualified intent of DELPs is to generate revenue for the money-starved, nearly bankrupt state.
Those who do not live in California might think that the DELP technology would never catch on in other states, but that is most certainly wishful thinking, not merely because of the inflow of hard cash any state could earn selling ad space on every car licensed in the state, but also because the DELP technology would necessarily require, at least in its most effective deployment, a national grid to communicate information for the license plates to display. That data would most likely be downloaded via satellite, and other states might find it contrary to their own interests to have California cars driving on their roads earning money for California while cars from their own jurisdictions were not. Moreover, state police in non-DELP states would have to be at least marginally aware of and knowledgeable about DELP vehicles, anyway, which would give one more justification for embracing the technology.
While some commenters are suggesting that this technology is not viable because of the potential for hacking the plates, that is unlikely to be much of a problem given the degree of security with which communications can be transmitted these days. Of greater concern, aside from the obvious "takings" of private property this technology would impose, is the possibility that the electronic license plates would not be mere receivers, but interactive devices, meaning that DELP-equipped cars could transmit location and telemetry data via uplink, either routinely or on command, to roadside or other aggregators.
Notwithstanding privacy concerns, which are quickly becoming a dismissable commodity in modern life, the digital electronic license plate technology is very likely to become a reality for every driver in America within the next five to ten years.
That means your cars, dear readers, will become rolling billboards for corporations, whether you want those ads on your cars or not. Your private propertywhat you paid for with your own money, what you are required to maintain in drivable condition, what you pay the money to fuelwill show advertisements even for products made by companies of which you do not approve, quite possibly like BP, which is paying serious money to search engine companies like Google and Yahoo to show top listings for BP-approved Websites, or like FOX News, which could pump ads for its Right-wing shows to every driver and passenger in America, using your vehicles as its carriers.
Is there anything you can do to stop the eventual deployment of DELP?
He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~Clarence Budington Kelland
Only a Dad
by Edgar Guest
Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.
Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.
Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.
Only a dad but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.
BP chief executive Tony Hayward, often criticized for being tone-deaf to U.S. concerns about the worst oil spill in American history, took time off Saturday to attend a glitzy yacht race off England's Isle of Wight.
BP chief 'sailing into PR disaster'
Under-fire BP chief executive Tony Hayward has gone sailing in the UK despite mounting criticism that he is not doing enough to control the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
As company officials insisted Mr Hayward was still in charge of the operation to control spill amid confusion over his role, he was relaxing on the Isle of Wight at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
A yacht named Bob that is co-owned by Mr Hayward was taking part in the event.
A company spokeswoman said: "We wouldn't dream of commenting on what the chief executive does in his rare moments of private time."
BP CEO Tony Hayward's decision to take time off Saturday to attend a glitzy yacht race in England was assailed by critics who said he was "just numb" to the plight of Gulf Coast residents struggling with the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. [snip]
Robert Wine, a BP spokesman at the company's Houston headquarters, said it's the first break Hayward has had since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and setting off the undersea gusher.
"He's spending a few hours with his family at a weekend," Wine said Saturday. "I'm sure that everyone would understand that." [snip]
Wine said Hayward is known to be keenly interested in the annual race around the Isle of Wight. It's one of the world's largest such races, attracting more than 1,700 boats and 16,000 sailors as famous yachtsmen compete with wealthy amateurs in the 50-nautical mile course around the island.
Hayward was watching his 52-foot yacht "Bob," made by the Annapolis, Md.-based boatbuilder Farr Yacht Design. It has a list price of nearly $700,000. [snip]
Critics said the outing is the latest in a series of missteps by Hayward in recent weeks. Hayward suggested to the Times of London that Americans were particularly likely to file bogus claims over the spill, then later told residents of Louisiana that no one wanted to resolve the crisis as badly as he did because "I'd like my life back."
Even the British press, much more sympathetic to the company's plight, has expressed disbelief at its media strategy.
According to the European financial database Amadeus, JPMorgan Chase is the No. 1 holder of stock in BP. That distinction also has earned the Wall Street bank the title of “Global Ultimate Owner” of the oil giant, as it owns 28.34% of BP.
BP ("Big People") chairman of the board, Carl-Henric Svanberg:
"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."
stevegoodie03 — June 09, 2010 — So maybe you've heard that there's this oil spill thing going on in the Gulf Of Mexico. But don't worry... "The ocean will take care of this on its own," according to Rush Limbaugh. "It's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is." In Rush's defense, he's only marginally stupider than most people when it comes to proposing solutions. In fact, since some of BP's actions indicate that they're smoking something, their team really should be renamed The Doobie Brothers...
BP has long touted itself as a “green” company interested not only in oil and other fossil fuels, but in renewable energy like wind and solar. But as Rebecca Lefton reported on ThinkProgress last week, BP barely invests anything in clean energy — most of its green campaign is actually just a massive advertising gimmick to conceal the truth about the company.
While BP has spent hundreds of millions building its brand, it has offshored the dirty work of promoting expanded drilling to right-wing front groups and trade associations.
The chief of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation said Friday that the oil spill in the Gulf was the "the direct result of BP's reckless decisions and actions" and, as such, BP should continue to pay all legitimate claims.
BP was the company's partner in the drilling of the well that has been spewing oil and gas into the gulf since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 men.
Anadarko Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett added in a statement that "BP's behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct and thus affect the obligations of the parties under the operating agreement."
The statement said that the joint operating agreement provides that BP is responsible to its co-owners for damages caused by its gross negligence or willful misconduct.
The GOP becomes the party of BP and Republican Joe Barton goes full on belly up for his European masters:
I apologize ... I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown ... I apologize ...
OK, traditional media, now's your big chance to distinguish yourself from Fox Noise and right-wing radio apologists. You have a senior conservative lawmaker apologizing, twice, to the CEO of a negligent foreign oil company simply because we demand they pay for their massive, ongoing clusterfuck that is covering US fisheries and beaches in thick oily goo and ruining thousands of lives every day. With the implication, we can infer, that taxpayers should pay for it. A company incidentally that had 760 safety violations -- about 50 times more than all the other big oil companies combined.
So why is Barton generating so much heat, while the Republican Study Committee's nonsense has been largely overlooked? Because there's just something about the apology.
Barton -- the man positioned to lead the House Energy Committee if Republicans re-take the majority -- issued a public apology (twice) to the chief executive of a foreign company, which is directly responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history. Why? Because Barton didn't want President Obama to secure money for victims of the disaster. The RSC statement was genuinely ridiculous, but at least those 114 members didn't apologize to BP.
As Greg Sargent put it, "Every now and then a gaffe comes along that really cuts through the noise and perfectly crystallizes the argument one side is trying to make, driving the debate with a whole new level of velocity and momentum. Barton's apology, with its extraordinary public display of solicitousness and even pity towards the despised BP, even as the country is suffering wrenching losses from a major disaster of BP's making, is one of those moments."
Making matters worse for Barton is the identity of the top contributor to his election campaigns. Since 1989, it has been the company Anadarko Petroleum, from which he's received $56,500 in PAC donations and another $90,000 in individual contributions.
The following investigative piece from Rolling Stone is a comprehensive, detailed expose of why the uncontrolled BP oil gusher happened. To be sure, there is an enormous amount that can be laid at the Cheney-BushCo doorstep. The wingnut contingent, naturally, just wants to pin the whole thing on Obama, just as they do with the economy, the deficit - in short, any and everything gone wrong. They're frantically trying to re-write history, hoping that most of us are as dense as they are, and are already forgetting the unmitigated disaster that was the BushCo years.
But it is far too simplistic to stop there, as many liberals want to do. Liberals who are now shouting down progressives and independents (true independents, not the self-styled mess calling themselves libertarian these days). A common theme being heard on commercial liberal talk radio is that complain-y progressives are always whining that nothing Obama does is ever good enough, and therefore are paving the way for the next repug administration - BushCo in spades.
Let me address that: Bullshit. We owe no allegiance, no unquestioning solidarity to any political party or movement. We think for ourselves, and question everything. When we see the public interests being utterly betrayed at every turn, in every realm of life, we speak up. Loudly. We take action. That's what citizens do. That's what individuals capable of independent, rational thought do. That's what real Americans do. We owe that to each other, to the earth and all the beings that also live here - and we owe that to future generations.
The nonsensical group-think that the liberal conformists espouse is utter hypocrisy and a cop-out. These same folks correctly observed that the Bush apologists justified everything he did, and never protested or questioned it. (And of course, NOW Bush devotees now call themselves "tea-baggers", and vehemently oppose all the exact same policies that were just fine when white wingnut guys enacted them). I would caution my democratic compadres not to fall into that same, unthinking trap. We've used up all the get out of jail free cards, folks. If we haven't already sailed way past it, we're at the environmental precipice of no return. There is no wiggle room left. We can't afford any more disastrous policies and lapses.
If the corporate takeover of the government, and the western world in general isn't halted, we can kiss life as we know it goodbye. In exchange we'll have a very toxic, (more) completely controlled life in a corpo-fascist regime, where true choice, freedom, and individual rights are but distant memories.
So this piece in Rolling Stone is also a cautionary tale, a horror story of what happens when giant corporations, whose number one allegiance is always profit, run the show:
The Spill, The Scandal, and The President Rolling Stone
"...Salazar himself has worked hard to foster the impression that the "prior administration" is to blame for the catastrophe. In reality, though, the Obama administration was fully aware from the outset of the need to correct the lapses at MMS that led directly to the disaster in the Gulf. In fact, Obama specifically nominated Salazar – his "great" and "dear" friend – to force the department to "clean up its act." For too long, Obama declared, Interior has been "seen as an appendage of commercial interests" rather than serving the people. "That's going to change under Ken Salazar."
Salazar took over Interior in January 2009, vowing to restore the department's "respect for scientific integrity." He immediately traveled to MMS headquarters outside Denver and delivered a beat-down to staffers for their "blatant and criminal conflicts of interest and self-dealing" that had "set one of the worst examples of corruption and abuse in government." Promising to "set the standard for reform," Salazar declared, "The American people will know the Minerals Management Service as a defender of the taxpayer. You are the ones who will make special interests play by the rules." Dressed in his trademark Stetson and bolo tie, Salazar boldly proclaimed, "There's a new sheriff in town."
Salazar's early moves certainly created the impression that he meant what he said. Within days of taking office, he jettisoned the Bush administration's plan to open 300 million acres – in Alaska, the Gulf, and up and down both coasts – to offshore drilling. The proposal had been published in the Federal Register literally at midnight on the day that Bush left the White House. Salazar denounced the plan as "a headlong rush of the worst kind," saying it would have put in place "a process rigged to force hurried decisions based on bad information." Speaking to Rolling Stone in March 2009, the secretary underscored his commitment to reform. "We have embarked on an ambitious agenda to clean up the mess," he insisted. "We have the inspector general involved with us in a preventive mode so that the department doesn't commit the same mistakes of the past." The crackdown, he added, "goes beyond just codes of ethics."
Except that it didn't. Salazar did little to tamp down on the lawlessness at MMS, beyond referring a few employees for criminal prosecution and ending a Bush-era program that allowed oil companies to make their "royalty" payments – the amount they owe taxpayers for extracting a scarce public resource – not in cash but in crude. And instead of putting the brakes on new offshore drilling, Salazar immediately throttled it up to record levels. Even though he had scrapped the Bush plan, Salazar put 53 million offshore acres up for lease in the Gulf in his first year alone – an all-time high. The aggressive leasing came as no surprise, given Salazar's track record. "This guy has a long, long history of promoting offshore oil drilling – that's his thing," says Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "He's got a highly specific soft spot for offshore oil drilling." As a senator, Salazar not only steered passage of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which opened 8 million acres in the Gulf to drilling, he even criticized President Bush for not forcing oil companies to develop existing leases faster.
Salazar was far less aggressive, however, when it came to making good on his promise to fix MMS. Though he criticized the actions of "a few rotten apples" at the agency, he left long-serving lackeys of the oil industry in charge. "The people that are ethically challenged are the career managers, the people who come up through the ranks," says a marine biologist who left the agency over the way science was tampered with by top officials. "In order to get promoted at MMS, you better get invested in this pro-development oil culture." One of the Bush-era managers whom Salazar left in place was John Goll, the agency's director for Alaska. Shortly after, the Interior secretary announced a reorganization of MMS in the wake of the Gulf disaster, Goll called a staff meeting and served cake decorated with the words "Drill, baby, drill."
Salazar also failed to remove Chris Oynes, a top MMS official who had been a central figure in a multibillion-dollar scandal that Interior's inspector general called "a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling." In the 1990s, industry lobbyists secured a sweetheart subsidy from Congress: Drillers would pay no royalties on oil extracted in deep water until prices rose above $28 a barrel. But this tripwire was conveniently omitted in Gulf leases overseen by Oynes – a mistake that will let the oil giants pocket as much as $53 billion. Instead of being fired for this fuckup, however, Oynes was promoted by Bush to become associate director for offshore drilling – a position he kept under Salazar until the Gulf disaster hit.
"Employees describe being in Interior – not just MMS, but the other agencies – as the third Bush term," says Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which represents federal whistle-blowers. "They're working for the same managers who are implementing the same policies. Why would you expect a different result?"...." Read entire article.
The remarks were not made in anger or haste, as were the now infamous, flippant and ill-conceived comments that cost White House reporter Helen Thomas her job, if not her legacy. Instead, they were made quite deliberately, with an air of thoughtfulness, while leaning over a lectern, as if lecturing to a class.
Thomas was forced into retirement for declaring that Jews "should get the hell out of Palestine," but New York Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the most powerful politicians in the US, has avoided any criticism or even major press coverage for remarks he made only days later that supported the continued "economic strangulation" of Gaza; in part, because, he essentially argues, the inhabitants of the benighted Strip are not Jewish.
Schumer made his remarks during a brief talk to the Orthodox Union, a well-known politically conservative Jewish educational, outreach and social service organisation.
A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said.
The "King of Kings" statue, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.
The lightning strike set the statue ablaze around 11:15 p.m., Monroe police dispatchers said.
The sculpture, 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained early Tuesday.
Wait. What? A sea lion, only the most recent of half-a-dozen this year, has been sentenced to death because he ate salmon at the base of a federal spillway, which is a federal offense. The first court petition on behalf of the sea lion was rejected because animals have no standing under the law.
Yes, agencies of sovereign entities may kill animals at will, even in some cases when such individual executions or cullings are contrary to statutory prohibitions protecting the species in question. Constitutional law assigns no inherent rights to non-humans (unless those non-humans are corporations, of course), so the condemned sea lion is probably toast.
But shooting a sea lion for eating salmon where he wasn't supposed to? REALLY?
The much-maligned oil company BP is working hard to rehabilitate its image in the eyes of consumers, and what better way to do that than to shape the information people get? BP is paying Google and Yahoo to put Websites favorable to and/or approved by BP at the top of searches for terms like "oil spill." People who believe that they can acquire knowledge easily and rapidly merely by going to such search engines are generally unaware that their perception of what constitutes "information" is being shaped by the profit motive of the engine providing them with results.
Students in schools and universities cannot fathom why many teachers and professors prohibit the use of online information repositories like Wikipedia. The young consider it "old-fashioned" and silly when told of prohibitions on the use of open search engines to collect citations for term and research papers. In my own classes, I try to explain the multiple dimensions in which Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed as a resource for academic-quality research; and now, with BP flagrantly and rather shamelessly paying Google and Yahoo, I have yet another means by which to demonstrate the essential flaw in using open-access Internet search engines.
BP is carrying out what, for its interests, are rational measures to improve its tarnished image: it is spending money to shape "facts" as many people who think they are tech-savvy think facts can be gathered.
The downside can be fun, though. YouTube, a service of Google, is taking money from BP to put ads on videos. Below is a screen shot from a video I was watching. My search term to get to this video was "fail," given that I was looking for a specific clip of an incident where a very long line of bicyclists in some kind of race began to have multiple accidents along the chain. (The way the accident proceeded is an excellent example of how a failure at some point in a chain can lead to clusters of accidents instead of a single, "domino effect" collapse of the chain).
Anyway, there at the bottom of the video I was watching was an ad bought and paid for by BP offering me the highly desirable opportunity to "Friend BP on YouTube":
Yes, BP is so craven for friends that it will pay serious money to ask for friends on a video about the "Biggest ever fails."
The company that has arguably executed the biggest fail ever is so hard up to force its narrative on the public that it will position its brand name anywhere and everywhere, including right smack on a video about the biggest fails ever.
By the way, nothing on that particular fail video was even in the same universe as what BP has done (and is continuing to do every day). Ultimately, even though the video itself didn't include the biggest fail ever, the ad on top of the video did, so the title of the video, "Biggest fails ever," was accurate.
So much for BP's efforts to shape the narrative.
The company should have stuck with its partnership with the government to keep journalists and independent scientists away from the site of the gusher. Now, there's money well spent.
I have published articles in which I set forth the rumors and other indications of the extent of former Vice President Richard Cheney's power over former President George W. Bush. In this video, Isaac Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, lays out how Bush finally, by the end of his second term, grasped just how powerless he had been. This, in my judgment, is why Cheney's plan to attack Iran was ultimately shot down by none other than President Bush, himself, in 2008, notwithstanding the censoring of articles about the build-up by a certain first-tier "liberal" blogger.
Watch the video. It's about eleven-and-a-half minutes long, and it's worth your while if you want to understand a little more about the complexities and nuances of the Bush presidency and, for political events on the ground in the here and now, why a gaggle of loose-cannon Teabaggers could have as much momentum and effect as they're having.
If you think the past is dead, wait until you see its children.
"The system has just begun its crash, and already we are seeing an armed infantilized nation wail, hurl blame and do horrific things, the worst of which we do to one another (excluding sending predator drones after Middle Eastern school kids). Surveillance, witch hunts, destruction of civil liberties, and the government inching toward star chamber trials for those who do not display correct traits. Citizens embracing totalitarianism as stability in the face of the ultimate instability -- the death of the planet."
We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
And *some* minds are a little more "disordered" than others:
O RLY Sore Loser
What did you think Orly was going to do after losing the CA SOS primary Tuesday night? She's suing, of course. Over massive fraud!
I NEED ALL THE PATRIOTS OF THIS COUNTRY TO HELP ME FIGHT THIS ENORMOUS VOTER FRAUD, ASSOCIATED WITH VOTE COUNTING MACHINES RUN ON TRADE SECRET PROTECTED SOFTWARE, WHICH DOES NOT ALLOW PUBLIC OVERSIGHT. OUR ECONOMY AND OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS WERE BOUGHT FOR $16 MLN DOLLARS COMING FROM THE COMMUNIST TYRANNY OF VENEZUELA. IF YOU ARE A VOTER AND WANT TO BE PART OF A CLASS ACTION LEGAL ACTION, PLEASE E-MAIL ME AT ORLY.TAITZ[a@t]GMAIL[d.o.t]COM
Posted on | June 10, 2010 | 2 Comments
All quotes in ALL CAPS are messages from Orly herself, via her virus-riddled, no link, don't-go-there site.
Incredibly, 375,000 votes were cast for Orly Taitz Queen of the Birthers. California, how do you explain this?
The Los Angeles Times no longer allows anonymous comments, and it no longer has its own system for registering commenters. One must use a "third party" account, which means exposing sensitive information from privacy rights-challenged behemoths like facebook or Google.
Many sites block my commentary, anyway. This is the case at the Huffington Post and truthout.org; others like CNN.com used to sporadically published my comments on their articles, but I wearied so much of infotainment sites like CNN.com masquerading as news services that I no longer annoy myself by going there.
The Los Angeles Times has tilted Right under new management, particularly since eviscerating its journalistic ranks as it did several years ago, but it is still a site with decent news articles to read from time to time.
Let me share a comment that I would have posted at the Los Angeles Times were that news service able to provide its own commenter registration service.
The article on which I provide commentary, below, was about Lindsey Lohan, whose drunken excesses have earned her multiple court appearances, an alcohol detection ankle bracelet, and several nights ago a near-brush with another court appearance after the bracelet reported the presence of alcohol vapor just above her skin, indicating that she might have been drinking after her appearance at the MTV Awards.
Although I care not one bit about actors and actresses, their movies, their shows, their music, and their other less-than-stellar talents pumped up as genius by opinion makers, I most certainly do care about the rule of law, which has become a diminished farce in modern America.
You see, just two weeks ago at one of the local high schools, the police roamed the parking lot with their drug-sniffing dogs. Dozens of kids were hauled out of their classes and more or less forced to open their vehicles because four-legged animals had accused them of having drugs stashed in their cars.
Quite a few of those kids will go to prison. It's the usual stuff for heartland, family-values, Bible Belt America: meth, hillbillie, pot. The girls carry their Special K in tiny little vials, so the cops don't catch this too often; ditto for the other creepy stuff that's starting to show up around here. Girls at the junior and senior highs are more likely to get shaken down by school administrators for passing Tylenol for menstrual cramps. The pre-fab, FDA-approved kid-brain suckers like Ritalin get shared among the kids on the bus, at the mall, and at home, not so much at school anymore unless the kids are really defiant or just plain dumb.
The police get their share of kids, though, and the prosecutors get their little piles of feathers in their caps with under-aged citizens charged as adults and copping pleas to lesser felonies to avoid going down for decades on trafficking charges.
But the celebrities? They get one chance after another. Even if they go to jail, it's usually small-time stuff in protected enclaves away from the general prison population. One way or the other, their wasted lives go on. They game not just the legal system, but a pathetically two-faced society that loves their salacious excesses and half believes them that it's somehow the "pressure" of their high-and-mighty lives that drives them to be grotesque, self-destructive monstrosities.
This bizarre double standard applies every bit as much to political celebrities as it does to those in the entertainment business. News, politics, tragedy, human suffering, triumph: it's all just entertainment, now, anyway. Stay in your seats and watch theatre, the enforced narrative that asks nothing more of you than your acquiescence to the latest authoritarian solution to the complexities of modernity and its confluences of peoples and events. Remember: as long as you, yourself, have done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to worry about, so enjoy the show through the looking glass whose name is Vicarious.
Anyway, just to ensure that the Los Angeles Times cannot silence commentary on its articles by mere demand that I subscribe to one of its oligolopic symbiots, below is what I had to say about Lindsey Lohan and what her worthless, wasting life story means to the real issue for which that worthless, wasting life of hers stands as sad statement.
A society functioning under the so-called "rule of law" ensures that every person is treated equally when the law is applied to the facts of a case. In the United States, the incarceration rate and the prison populations at state and federal levels exceed those in some of the world's most repressive, loathsome regimes. In this country, people of youth, of color, of economically distressed circumstances are processed through the courts in machine-like fashion with only the most paltry of defense attorneys, often over-burdened by the sheer numbers of clients they defend at the behest of the courts.
Yet here is the product of dissipated, extreme wealth, given one pass after another by a court. A young person of low socio-economic standing exhibiting this behavior, this contempt for a court and the relevant laws, would be imprisoned and subjected to the multiple dimensions of horror that Americans, in their deepest sickness, think is just and proper to set upon inmates.
Kids watch celebrities. The kids who see this mess of a human being coddled learn two lessons: first, it can be done; and second, it is rewarded with greater and greater fame. Later, when those kids see their friends sent to prison, and when they, themselves, get treated far more brutally by the courts of this land, they will develop an insidious disdain not just for the rule of law, but also for the nation that lies to them about it.
Readers here at Big Brass Blog are free to comment without having a facebook or Google account.
The downside of that freedom is this: if your comment is stupid or disrespectful, someone most likely me since this is my article will almost assuredly eat your head off.
There is, you see, a fundamental difference between an authoritarian and a bitch. While I cannot be the former on most occasions, I am quite happy to be the latter on almost any day.
...to stop the Senate from bailing out Big Oil. On June 10th, the Senate is voting on a resolution, crafted by Big Oil lobbyists, that will make it easier for polluters to get around EPA regulations -- even while oil continues to gush into the Gulf from the BP disaster!
This arrogant move comes as the public is learning more about how the oil industry got around environmental and safety regulations for years, leading to the disaster in the Gulf.
Now Alaska senator and Big Oil ally Lisa Murkowski is pressing forward with a resolution that will gut the Clean Air Act and strip the EPA of its authority to limit global warming pollution.
Tell your senators enough is enough -- Big Oil needs more regulation, not less. Click the Sierra Club's link here to make the call.
The Sierra Club says, "Worried that your call won't make a difference? The resolution only needs 51 yes votes to pass, and it will be close. Senators are looking for cues from their constituents before making a final decision. We've already seen grassroots calls move Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown from a 'maybe' to a 'no,' and we need your help to show the rest of the Senate that Americans will not allow the cozy relationship between Big Oil and government to continue."
Call your senators today and tell them to vote against efforts to weaken EPA oversight of Big Oil. Nothing you do today will be as important, so please take just a couple minutes to call, email, or fax your Senator.
See also this link, but remember we no longer have 72 hours as the page indicates. Today is IT!
First, let me say I'm not thrilled at the prospect of having to pull for Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln in November after her victory last night in the runoff election against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But, the voters have spoken and made their choice. I wish Senator Lincoln the best of luck against Republican John Boozman come November. She's going to need the best and lots of it.
I am much more thrilled and excited by the outcome in the race for the 2nd Congressional District which covers central Arkansas.
State Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock defeated state Rep. Robbie Wills of Conway in Tuesday’s race for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder in central Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District.
Elliott, widely regarded as part of the political left, and Wills, who has called Elliott “extreme” in her views, led a five-way Democratic race May 18, Elliott getting 30,370 votes to Wills’ 21,290, according to the uncertified results. Again, he led in seven of the eight counties, but she bested him strongly in the most populous one, Pulaski.
This race is critical because the winner will be replacing the "left-leaning" Vic Snyder. Needless to say, Elliott's Republican opponent in November calls himself a "conservative" who will be the "polar opposite" of Snyder.
A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways. [snip]
Similar themes about BP operations elsewhere were sounded in interviews with former employees, in lawsuits and little-noticed state inquiries, and in e-mails obtained by ProPublica. Taken together, these documents portray a company that systemically ignored its own safety policies across its North American operations - from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to California and Texas. [snip]
Because of its string of accidents before the recent blowout in the Gulf, BP already faced a possible ban on its federal contracting and on new U.S. drilling leases, several senior former Environmental Protection Agency debarment officials told ProPublica. That inquiry has taken on new significance in light of the Gulf accident. One key question the EPA will consider is whether the company's leadership can be trusted and whether BP's culture can change.
The reports detailing BP's Alaska investigations -- conducted by outside lawyers and an internal BP committee in 2001, 2004 and 2007 -- were provided to ProPublica by a person close to BP who believes the company has not yet done enough to eradicate its shortcomings. [snip]
When gas leaks from a pipeline break or a blowout near a running engine, it's a lot like stomping on the accelerator of a car: The engine will suck up the fuel vapors and scream out of control. Gas sensors are critical to preventing an explosion, because they can shut down a rig engine before that happens.
Now investigators are learning that similar sensors -- and the shutoff systems that would have been connected to them -- were not operating in the engine room of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
In sworn testimony before a Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation panel in New Orleans last month, Deepwater mechanic Douglas Brown said that the backstop mechanism that should have prevented the engines from running wild apparently failed -- and so did the air intake valves that were supposed to close if gas enters the engine room. The influx of gas from the well gave the engines "a more volatile form of burning mixture," he said, and caused them to rev out of control. Another system was supposed to kick in and shut the engines down, but that system also failed. He said the engine room wasn't equipped with a gas alarm system that could have shut off the power.
Minutes later, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in a ball of fire, killing 11 workers before sinking to the seafloor, where it left a gaping well pipe that continues to gush oil and gas into the Gulf.
BP CEO Tony Hayward has made gaffe after gaffe defending his company's response to the gulf oil spill.
BP initially estimated that between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels of oil were gushing into the gulf each day. The current consensus pegs the figure at between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels. [snip]
Among Hayward's bizarre statements since the accident:
On April 29, The New York Times reported that Hayward, apparently exasperated, turned to fellow executives in his London office and asked, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?" (A possible answer might be the company's 760 safety violations over the last three years. ExxonMobil, in contrast, has had just one.)
On May 14, Hayward attempted to persuade The Guardian that "the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."
Only a few days later, he told Sky News that "the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest." That might surprise the many scientists who see the spill as a true environmental calamity, the full extent of which remains unclear.
On May 30, Hayward was less bullish and decided to play the sympathy card. He told the Today show that "there’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." (He has since apologized for those remarks.)
On May 31, he told the world that ecosystem-threatening underwater oil plumes — consisting of droplets of partially dissolved oil suspended in water that many scientists have observed — do not exist. He said simply, "There aren't any plumes."
Tony, Tony, Tony. You and your lying cronies need to get better acquainted with reality.
As if the pictures of birds, fish and animals killed by floating oil in the Gulf of Mexico is not disturbing enough, scientists now say they have found evidence of another danger lurking underwater.
The University of South Florida recently discovered a second oil plume in the northeastern gulf. The first plume was found by Mississippi universities in early May.
USF has concluded microscopic oil droplets are forming deep water oil plumes. After a weeklong analysis of water samples, USF scientists found more oil in deeper water.
"These hydrocarbons are from depth and not associated with sinking degraded oil but associated with the source of the Deep Horizon well head," said USF Chemical Oceanographer David Hollander.
Through isotopic or microscopic fingerprinting, Hollander and his USF crew were able to show the oil in the plume came from BP's blown out oil well. The surface oil's so-called fingerprint matched the tiny underwater droplet's fingerprint.
BP chief executive says the cap is likely to capture 'vast majority' of crude
Since it was placed over the busted well on Thursday, the cap has been siphoning an increasing amount of oil. On Saturday, it funneled about 441,000 gallons to a tanker on the surface, up from about 250,000 gallons it captured Friday.
But it's not clear how much is still escaping from the well that federal authorities at one point estimated was leaking between 500,000 gallons and 1 million gallons a day. Since the spill began nearly seven weeks ago, roughly 23 million to 49 million gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf.
The ecological damage effects could last for decades, because you screwed up. Big time. You and your 760 violations.
Twenty-three years earlier, in 1979, an oil well named Ixtoc I had a blowout in 150 feet of water in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The Mexican national oil company Pemex tried to kill the well with drilling mud, and then with steel and lead balls dropped into the wellbore. It tried to contain the oil with a cap nicknamed The Sombrero. Finally, after 290 days, a relief well plugged the hole with cement and the spill came to an end -- but only after polluting the gulf with 138 million gallons of crude.
That remains the worst accidental oil spill in history -- but the Deepwater Horizon blowout off the Louisiana coast is rapidly gaining on it.
The spill has now been partially contained with the cap that BP engineers lowered onto the mile-deep geyser Thursday night. That means roughly a quarter to half of the flow is being piped to a surface ship, the national incident commander, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Saturday. BP hopes to improve the rate captured in coming days. If official government estimates are correct, 23 million to 47 million gallons of oil have spewed so far.
Giant plumes of crude oil mixed with methane are sweeping the ocean depths with devastating consequences.
Now it is increasingly clear that the initial reports of undersea oil were right, that life-giving oxygen in the water column is indeed being depleted, and that unless the laws of chemistry have been repealed, dispersants are likely worsening the tentacles of undersea crude. What might have been just another oil spill—albeit a bad one—has been transformed into something unprecedented. Even if the containment dome lowered into place late last week continues to siphon off some of the leaking crude, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will enter the record books not for how much but for where: an enormous release of crude oil not only onto vulnerable shorelines and fragile marshes but into the largely unexplored depths of the sea. The consequences for the delicate balance of existence in the vulnerable ecosystems of the gulf, and for the vast cycles of nature that sustain life there and beyond, are as incalculable as they are potentially devastating. [snip]
As far as scientists can tell, the undersea oil is actually a witch’s brew of crude mixed with dissolved methane, stretching 15 miles long, 5 miles wide, and 300 feet thick in the case of one plume detected by the Pelican, and 22 miles long, 6 miles wide, and 3,000 feet thick in the case of a plume found by University of South Florida researchers aboard the WeatherBird II last week. The latter plume reaches all the way to the surface. [snip]
These undersea rivers of oil, though not nearly as concentrated as oil at the surface, are likely to affect the gulf through two mechanisms. The first is oxygen depletion, which has been estimated at 30 percent in the plumes. The other will be direct toxic effects of the oil and methane.
Residents Are Fed Up With BP's History of Failed Fixes as the Oil Giant Says the Containment is Working
The day's headline seems like good news: BP's latest fix is working. On Grand Isle, people have had it with BP's history of false hope and failed fixes. They're skeptical and running out of patience...
In an even harsher environment - a mile undersea - BP says its latest fix is working. Its new containment cap over the broken wellhead is sucking more oil to a surface ship.
Two hundred fifty-thousand gallons on Friday. Four hundred forty-one thousand gallons - or 10,000 barrels - on Saturday. But many scientists believe much more oil's still bleeding into the gulf every day.
"We have a further containment system to implement in the course of the coming week, which will be in place by next weekend," said BP CEO Tony Hayward.
But all that's too late to stop the millions of gallons already in the Gulf. In places like Grand Isle - places in the bull's-eye of the blob - clean-up crews could work 24/7, but the damage is already done.
Oil continued to pour from a runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday as engineers worked to close two of four vents on a capping device lowered onto the gushing riser pipe.
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A technician working on the operation said the engineers were also working slowly and deliberately because of a concern that the volume and velocity of the escaping oil could create so much friction on the inside walls of the new 5,000-foot pipe that it could force it entirely off the cap.
_ _ _ _ _
It was not immediately clear how significant a gain the initial capture of the roughly 6,000 barrels — the precise number was 6,077 — represented.
Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, official estimates have put the flow rate at 12,000 barrels to 19,000 barrels a day, although some scientists have said it could be substantially more. Government officials also said the volume might have increased by as much as 20 percent when engineers cut the damaged riser, which they did before lowering the containment dome.
Investigators have focused on the minute-to-minute decisions and breakdowns to understand what led to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 people and setting off the largest oil spill in United States history and an environmental disaster. But the lack of coordination was not limited to the day of the explosion.
New government and BP documents, interviews with experts and testimony by witnesses provide the clearest indication to date that a hodgepodge of oversight agencies granted exceptions to rules, allowed risks to accumulate and made a disaster more likely on the rig, particularly with a mix of different companies operating on the Deepwater whose interests were not always in sync.
And in the aftermath, arguments about who is in charge of the cleanup — often a signal that no one is in charge — have led to delays, distractions and disagreements over how to cap the well and defend the coastline. As a result, with oil continuing to gush a mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, the laws of physics are largely in control, creating the daunting challenge of trying to plug a hole at depths where equipment is straining under more than a ton of pressure per square inch.
I have obtained a copy of the almost-600-page BP Regional Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico as of June, 2009, thanks to an insider. Some material has been redacted, but these are the three main takeaways from an initial read. The name of the well has been redacted, but if it's not Deepwater Horizon, then there's another rig still out there pumping oil and aimed at Plaquemines Parish.
For crowdsourcing here's the link, but it's 29 mb so make sure you have the room to download:
1) In the worst case discharge scenario (on chart below), an oil leak was expected to come ashore with highest probability in Plaquemines Parish within 30 days (see map above from the Advance Response Plan). This makes it clear that BP could have stored adequate boom there before a rig failure like the Deepwater Horizon, and workers could have been mobilized to apply the boom in the 30 days that the response plan predicted oil would hit our wetlands.
2) Spokespersons were advised never to assure the public that an ecosystem would be back to normal after the worst case scenario, which we are now living through. "No statements shall be made concerning any of the following: promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal." Even in BP CEO Tony Hayward's new television commercial his assurance is an ambiguous, "We will make this right," which does not specifically address preserving or restoring America's Wetlands.
3) Corexit oil dispersant toxicity has not been tested on ecosystems, according to the Oil Spill Response Plan. "Ecotoxilogical effects: No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product." It is contradictory that the question and answer section discusses the choice of a dispersant with: "Have environmental tradeoffs of dispersant use indicated that use should be considered? Note: This is one of the more difficult questions" and "Has the overflight to assure that endangered species are not in the application area been conducted?" Brown pelicans and sea turtles would have been the answer to the latter.
Birds hailed as conservation success are 'in dire trouble,' warns scientist
For more than a decade, the hundreds of brown pelicans that nested among the mangrove shrubs on Queen Bess Island west of here were living proof that a species brought to the edge of extinction could come back and thrive.
The island was one of three sites in Louisiana where the large, long-billed birds were reintroduced after pesticides wiped them out in the state in the 1960s.
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The images of oil-covered birds — pelicans, northern gannets, laughing gulls and others — are eerily reminiscent of the Exxon Valdez disaster 21 years ago, and have in recent days have become the most vivid symbol of the damage wrought by the hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil that have poured into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research, which does a lot of computer modeling of the air and oceans, has put together a simulation of where the oil from the Deepwater Horizon might go over the next hundred days. In a word: far.
Al’s is a unique place. It’s run by an erudite, quite opinionated, self-ascribed chef/gourmet, better than average photographer, computer techie/ geek/programmer/webmaster, somewhat private sometimes aloof sometimes gruffy individual, fine writer, sort of left of center old-time conservative who looks at the world more objectively than any conservative I’ve ever known, excellent college professor and maybe the only instructor more stubborn than I was. Other than that he’s basically an ok guy.
The diner he operates is as unique as the owner. Whether some know it or not, there are two entrances, one for the public, bigbrassblog.com and one for advanced reservations, dark-wraith.com. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The menu is pretty much the same for both dining rooms although occasionally one has a daily special while the other a one-time meal.
The clientele of both are equally astute even if some in the open room become a little rowdy or somewhat less than refined but those are few and far between. To say that the patrons in the reserved chamber are always sober would be a bit of understated misrepresentation of fact. Actually some of those in the reserved room act directly proportionately to the amount of specialties consumed. Not quite Animal House but certainly not Sunday-go-to-meeting.
The banter during and after meals is often at times lively, subdued, quite varied, lengthy or brief or combinations of all. It's quite eclectic, really! There’s nothing like a good discussion of current events after a good meal whether it’s a simple hamburger, fries and soft drink (I prefer Pepsi but that’s a subject for discussion much as which way the toilet paper should be installed on the dispenser) or a full course meal washed down with a good Bollinger or Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Personally, after one of the Wraith’s special meals, I prefer a rather large Grand Marnier, but I have a tab (and someday, I’ll probably have to pay it!)
I would say to those of you who frequent the reserved area to try the fare at Big Brass Blog. You’ll find it refreshing. And those who have only used the public dining room, consider setting up reservations in the forum. You’ll enjoy it.
And you may find our host adding to your dining experience with his stash of inimitable knowledge. However, don’t get the idea he’s never wrong even if he won’t admit it. After all, he hired me, Peter, Foiled Goil, konagod, Anna, Missouri Mule, Debra and Lisa and some others to serve the patrons. If that doesn’t show a continued pattern of mental lapses, I don’t know what does.
But the best times are those after hours when the general public has gone and we all pull up chairs, grab a cold one and piece of left over whatever and just talk about life. Those are the times you remember long after you’ve gone.
Here’s to another round!
In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.
Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
Want to invoke your right to remain silent? You'll have to speak up.
In a narrowly split decision, the Supreme Court's conservative majority expanded its limits on the famous Miranda rights for criminal suspects on Tuesday – over the dissent of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said the ruling turned Americans' rights of protection from police abuse "upside down."
This decision means that police can keep shooting questions at a suspect who refuses to talk as long as they want in hopes that the person will crack and give them some information, said Richard Friedman, a University of Michigan law professor.
Big Brass Blog writer Foiled Goil has published a gloss below of recent news articles highlighting various political dimensions of the catastrophic, still-uncontrolled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Entitled, "Heads Should Roll," the post, among other important matters covered, indicates the extent of the culpability of BP in the worst oil spill in American history.
In comments to the article, fellow Big Brass Blog contributing writer Father Tyme made the following observation:
It seems BP lost 21 billion in market value Tuesday according to Crooksandliars.com.
I smell an oily bailout coming! It'll be couched as some bullshit spin that tells us how much we'd really lose if BP went under. But it'll come, sure as winter in Wasilla.
AIG, Goldman Sachs, BP...Too Big to Fail!
America...not so much!
Below, I offer a rejoinder to that assessment.
Here's the bad news: we really will lose if BP goes into catastrophic financial freefall.
In the absence of diligent regulatory control, and in the absence of diligent maintenance and upgrading of the laws enabling that regulatory control, the banking system became an incomprehensibly complex web of interrelationships. These interrelationships ultimately (and rather quickly in historical terms) were constructively a hierarchical, top-down matrix that included not just traditional banks, but every manner of what could be described as "financial institutions." The rock-solid walls of separation that had once existed by statutory law were no longer there to keep sectors like the securities industry (in its secondary markets aspect and in its investment banking activities) and insurance (in its property and casualty and even in its life and health components) from becoming entirely entangled, quite literally in existential ways, in the dynamic system.
Even worse, that network included both the Federal Reserve and the United States Treasury in a symbiotic relationship with the banks that were the key to a cyclical movement of government debt from the table at the Treasury auctions to be absorbed, in part, by the banking system (then back to the Fed in open market operations) while the central bank maintained liquidity in the system that would otherwise have been eviscerated by the demand draw from the government as expenditures outpaced tax revenues year after year.
Let the big banks die and thereby find out the rude way that the entire, credit-driven private economy and the public sectorfrom the federal to the municipal levelshad become dependent clusters of nodes in the financial network.
Now, let's talk briefly about BP, and I promise that the adverb "briefly" will be operative.
The failure of regulatory oversight and, more importantly, the failure to maintain relevance of enabling statutory laws that allowed the interdependent complexity of the financial system to become a dangerous house of cards is nothing compared to what has been allowed to happen in the energy sector.
Let BP die without a meticulous, detailed, ready-to-go, do-or-die receivership plan, and what almost happened to the global financial system in September of 2008 will seem like a mild annoyance compared to what will happen to the global economy if one of the oligopolists at the nexus of the world's energy system collapses.
Anyone who thinks that's A-OK has no idea of what would happen. The consequences would fundamentally, permanently alter the course of the 21st Century, not just geo-politically, but also into exploitable places in other parts of the inner solar system, where resources, strategically vital military vantage points, and staging grounds will step out of science fiction in this first half of the new century. From the depths of the oceans to the cold of space where asteroids tumble, the frontiers of the 21st Century will be ravaged by partnerships of massive corporations and nation coalitions.
Put it this way: How does life under the economic, political, and social control of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization sound to you? "Unpleasant" comes to mind, at least for me. (Not that economic, political, and social control by the conservatives and neo-liberals of the United States is turning out to be particularly palatable, either, mind you.)
So, who's to blame for us being held hostage by failed corporations?
We are. Specifically, "we" as we project ourselves through a government that has failed in its greatest duty of diligence, which is to protect our nation and its people from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. While terrorists knock down buildings because amateurs in Washington think they know what they're doing when they don't, and while corporations plow into sovereign territory in their scales of economies, our government sits on its fat ass.
Our neo-liberal President cowers to some mythical "center" dictated by Right-wing interests; our mainstream news media, as always, pretend to report news that is nothing but show-style entertainment pumped to gullible audiences by journalists with fluff degrees; and the political debate includes positive valence implicitly assigned to dumb failures like Sarah Palin and economics "libertarian" idiots like Rand Paul, along with a staggering list of corporatized post-neocons/neo-liberals like Barack Obama, Al Gore, a whole host of Democrats in Congress, and some first-tier bloggers and other opinion-maker wannabes.
Where are wethe real, flesh-and-blood peoplein all of this?
We're on the basement level of a multi-story outhouse. That's where we are. The view from our penthouse-in-the-cellar is awful, and the emergency escape stairwell has been closed for a long time.
The good news is this: if that multi-story outhouse ever does collapse under the teetering weight of its upper-level occupants, it is they who will unceremoniously come down to our level. That's when, for the very first time, they'll find out what their success really smelled like on the back-end port of the free-markets-gone-wild food tube.
In case anyone is actually worried, though, the multi-story outhouse won't fall down. Not just yet, anyway.
There's still way too much money to be made selling fossil fuels to a world of consumers who want their energy resources fast, hot, and available while acting breathlessly shocked at what can happen when fools are in charge and the government doesn't care until it's politically expedient to do so.
Of all the bad predictions and downright misinformation we've seen surrounding the Gulf oil spill, this one ranks pretty high: BP actually told the government last year that it was prepared to respond to a blowout flowing at 300,000 barrels per day -- as much as 25 times the rate of the current spill.
The latest government estimate of flow rate from the current spill is 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day -- orders of magnitude less than the worst case scenario BP said it was prepared for.
The 2009 plan document [pdf] puts the volume of an uncontrolled blowout at 300,000 and 162,000 barrels per day respectively, for two wells in the Mississippi Canyon block of the Gulf. (The 162,000 figure is for block 252, where the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling when an explosion occurred April 20.)
The 2009 document can be read here (.pdf, via the Press Register of Alabama).
June 1: Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation talks with Rachel Maddow about the considerable financial liability BP faces for spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. [ 11:14 ]
BP stock chart - This is the 5-Day view, so if you click it today you get May 25 - June 1. If you're clicking this at some point in the future, set the date range to include June 1 because that's where traders came back from the Memorial Day weekend to the news of BP's latest failure and started unloading.
By talking about possible criminal charges, the administration is in essence threatening something that BP and other firms involved in the crisis must already have known was coming. Given the loss of life on the Deepwater Horizon rig, local and federal law-enforcement agencies almost certainly would look at what happened as a matter of course.
Civil lawsuits related to the disaster are already proliferating. Construction giant Halliburton has been named in 112 suits connected to Deepwater Horizon, noted James Ferguson, a Halliburton senior vice president, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oil-spill liability last week.
As if the water wasn't deep -- or oily -- enough around British Petroleum's public relations, the company has hired a former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney to be its public face for the disaster.
Anne Womack Kolton, former head of public affairs at the Department of Energy and Cheney's onetime campaign press secretary, will take the baton from BP this week.
While at Cheney's side, Kolton defended the secrecy of the Vice President's Energy task force, a group which held secretive meetings with energy company executives. When the General Accounting Office -- the research arm of Congress -- sued the Administraton for records relating to Cheney's meetings, Kolton (then Womack) was at his side.