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After Oil Rig Blast, BP Refused to Share Underwater Spill Footage
Message Control A Key Industry Focus During Oil Disaster Drills
By Matthew Mosk, Avni Patel, John Solomon, and Aaron Metha | ABC News And Center For Public Integrity | May 12, 2010
"The technology that's being used on the surface is over 30 years old," said Jerome Milgram, a professor of marine technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I can say this. I don't see any practical effect for putting out booms when the sea conditions are such that the booms are totally ineffective."
BP's "worst case" scenario for a huge oil spill in the Gulf relies heavily on being able to boom and skim a half million barrels a day, according to the oil spill response plan the company filed with federal regulators.
During a series of dry-run exercises, where the U.S. Coast Guard, other agencies and oil companies practiced their response to major oil spill disasters, industry executives repeatedly pressed federal regulators to give them more say on what information would be released to the public if disaster struck.
Reports obtained in a joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity show oil companies targeted the potential release of "confidential" information as a key concern.
That behind-the-scenes lobbying effort helped foretell a tug of war this week over images that BP America did not want the public to see as the company struggled to try and contain the massive spill unleashed after one of the company's offshore oil rigs exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Throughout the clean-up effort, BP has monitored the spill site around the clock using submarine-mounted cameras at the mouth of the spill. An official at Oceaneering International, the company that operates the submarines under a contract with BP, told ABC News he "could walk right down the hall and watch it, but I can't share it without BP's express permission." Read more.
Billions of oil barrels spilled reminiscent of Exxon Valdez catastrophe
Protesters called out "BP kills" and waved signs denouncing the British energy giant Tuesday as the US Congress opened its first hearing into the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"BP kills wildlife, BP kills people, BP kills the planet," two of the demonstrators, members of the anti-war group Code Pink, called out moments before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources began the session.
The protesters also waved signs that read "BP = Bad People," and one wore a T-shirt with a crudely painted "power to the people."
A second group of protesters staged a more quiet show of opposition in black T-shirts emblazoned with "Energy Shouldn't Cost Lives," applying make-up in the shape of black tears.
(PressTV) – BP dome fails to stop oil leak
British Petroleum (BP) has failed in its first attempt to contain oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico with a metal box as crystallized gas fills the structure. Read More Here
- (McClatchyDC) – Video: Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in gulf. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. Video Link Here
- Video: Southern Boys Show US Government How to Clean Up Oil With Hay! – Video Link Here
- (MediaConsortium) – Weekly Mulch: Slick of Oil Industry Cash Gummed up Regulatory Works
- The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is worse than anyone thought, and the crisis will likely go on for months. British Petroleum (BP) is tripping over itself to say it’ll cover the costs of the clean-up, yet before the spill, the company spent its time and money pushing back against government regulation and safety measures. Read More Here
- (Spiegel) – Expert Recommends Killing Oil-Soaked Birds A German biologist says that efforts to clean oil-drenched birds in the Gulf of Mexico are in vain. For the birds’ sake, it would be faster and less painful if animal-rescue workers put them under, she says. Studies and other experts back her up. Kill, don’t clean,” is the recommendation of a German animal biologist, who this week said that massive efforts to clean oil-soaked birds in Gulf of Mexico won’t do much to stop a near certain and painful death for the creatures Read More Here
- (Guardian) – Chevron wins access to film-maker’s Amazon pollution footage
- Crude, released last year, focuses on the 17-year legal battle between Chevron and 30,000 Ecuadorians who say their land, rivers, wells, livestock and own bodies were poisoned by decades of reckless oil drilling in the rainforest. Read More Here
- (AP) – Oil spill may endanger human health, officials say
- With a huge and unpredictable oil slick drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, state and federal authorities are preparing to deal with a variety of hazards to human health if and when the full brunt of the toxic mess washes ashore. Read More Here
(GreenPeace) – BP working hard to keep the damage hidden – Read More Here
The Cover-up: BP's Crude Politics and the Looming Environmental Mega-Disaster
By Wayne Madsen | Oil Price | Note: Bolding mine. ~Chip :)
WMR has been informed by sources in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that the Obama White House and British Petroleum (BP), which pumped $71,000 into Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign -- more than John McCain or Hillary Clinton, are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP's liability for damage caused by what can be called a "mega-disaster."
Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working with BP's chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. However, WMR's federal and Gulf state sources are reporting the disaster has the real potential cost of at least $1 trillion. Critics of the deal being worked out between Obama and Hayward point out that $10 billion is a mere drop in the bucket for a trillion dollar disaster but also note that BP, if its assets were nationalized, could fetch almost a trillion dollars for compensation purposes. There is talk in some government circles, including FEMA, of the need to nationalize BP in order to compensate those who will ultimately be affected by the worst oil disaster in the history of the world.
Plans by BP to sink a 4-story containment dome over the oil gushing from a gaping chasm one kilometer below the surface of the Gulf, where the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers on April 20, and reports that one of the leaks has been contained is pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources. Sources within these agencies say the White House has been resisting releasing any "damaging information" about the oil disaster. They add that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf. Read more.
Since Spill, Feds Have Given 27 Waivers to Oil Companies in Gulf
By Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers via Truthout
Given the MMS approvals, however, Galvin said the administration’s pledge appears disingenuous.
“It looks to me like they’re misleading the public,” he said.
Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.
The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling.
The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet. Read more.
RSVP for Transforming Catastrophe into Opportunity
A Conversation on Gulf Eco-Crime, Big Oil, & Carbon Tax as a Tool to Transition Off Fossil Fuels
- Antonia Juhasz - author of The Tyranny of Oil
- James Handley - CarbonTax.org, and
- Kathy Callan - Legislative Coordinator, PDA's Global Warming Issues Organizing Team
RSVP for Instructions to Join Conversation on Monday, May 10 at 5:30pm (Pacific) / 8:30pm (Eastern)
As we recoil in horror that not 1,000 - not 5,000 - BUT 25,000 barrels of oil per day are gushing into ocean waters poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, let us prepare for action. This is another "shock doctrine" moment - and it is up to us to seize it. On May 16, actions will be held in around the country. Don't you think it's time to shift the national dialogue away from Wall Street dependent solutions and time to assess fossil fuels for their true cost?
Backbone Campaign is organizing Monday's (5-10) Conversation with the Cabinet conference call/interview/webcast to help you channel your rage into action with the strongest possible demands. We have a moral obligation and a strategic opportunity to seize the debate and insist on real tools for the transition off fossil fuels and one of those tools is the Carbon Tax.
The owner of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and causing a giant slick, has made a $270m (£182m) profit from insurance payouts for the disaster.
The revelation by Transocean, the world’s biggest offshore driller, will add to the political storm over the disaster. The company was hired by BP to drill the well.
The “accounting gain” arose because the $560m insurance policy Transocean took out on its Deepwater Horizon rig was greater than the value of the rig itself. Transocean has already received a cash payment of $401m with the rest due in the next few weeks.
The windfall, revealed in a conference call with analysts, will more than cover the $200m that Transocean expects to pay to survivors and their families and for higher insurance costs. Read more.
Beach is executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee in Alaska. She said this afternoon: "Today I'm in Gulfport, Mississippi, one of the areas that's going to be impacted. These people have no idea what they're in for. People buy the oil companies' propaganda and allow them to do what they want without a plan or real safeguards.
"Many are claiming that BP will cover the costs, but people in Alaska waited for 20 years to be compensated by Exxon for the Valdez spill and even then only got a pittance of what they were due, if they were still alive."
A Texas fisherwoman and environmental campaigner, Wilson is author of the book An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas.
She said today: "Corporations, whether it's BP in the Gulf or Dow Chemical / Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, don't follow the precautionary principle. They say that their worst-case scenarios won't ever happen and so we shouldn't dare threaten their profits with extra safety costs. Thanks in part to the deregulation from Dick Cheney's energy task force during the Bush administration, the U.S. doesn't require an emergency 'acoustic' shut-off valve that costs $500,000 and could have prevented BP's disaster. ... Yet most of the other oil-producing nations require the 'acoustic switch' and it has been used in Norway since 1993. These corporations don't want to spend a tiny portion of their billions of dollars on something that can prevent a disaster. They get the legal rights of being people and yet take actions that destroy the lives of real people.
"What BP has done is just a giant example of what happens constantly with the chemical and oil companies in the Gulf. They pollute, then they say it didn't get into the water, then they say, well, it was only 20 gallons, then they say it was 200 gallons. Then it's too much to clean up. One big problem is that so much is dependent on industry's self-reporting. You can't get decent information from companies. I find out a great deal because I work with an injured workers group."
Background: On April 2, President Obama stated: "It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."
Both marine protection areas provide safe homes for sea turtles, sharks, breeding sea birds, and coral reefs. But they are also home to major U.S. military bases. Chagos’s largest island, Diego Garcia, hosts a secretive billion-dollar Air Force and Navy base that has been part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Pacific protection areas are home to U.S. bases on Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota, Farallon de Medinilla, Wake Island, and Johnston Island.
In both cases, the otherwise “pristine” protected environments carve out significant exceptions for the military. In Chagos, the British government has said, “We nor the US would want the creation of a marine protected area to have any impact on the operational capability of the base on Diego Garcia. For this reason...it may be necessary to consider the exclusion of Diego Garcia and its three-mile territorial waters.” In the Pacific, the Bush administration stressed that “nothing” in the protected areas “impairs or otherwise affects the activities of the U.S. Department of Defense.”
Just weeks before today’s Earth Day, and for the second time in little more than a year, environmental groups have teamed with governments to create massive new marine protection areas across wide swaths of the world’s oceans. Both times, however, there’s been something (pardon the pun) fishy about these benevolent-sounding efforts at environmental protection.
Most recently, on April 1, the British government announced the creation of the world’s largest marine protection area in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago, which would include a ban on commercial fishing in an area larger than California and twice the size of Britain. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called it “a major step forward for protecting the oceans. Read more.
The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) has offered to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster caused by the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Following an explosion on a BP-operated oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last month, at least 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) of crude oil are thought to be spilling into the water every day.
NIDC managing director Heidar Bahmani announced the firm's readiness to use its decades-long expertise to fight the oil slick, the company's public relations office told Press TV.
"Our oil industry experts in the field of drilling can contain the rig leakage in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent an ecological disaster in that part of the world," Bahmani said. Read more.
One of the key signs that we are in the early stages of an economic collapse and that we are heading towards another Great Depression is America's crumbling infrastructure. The truth is that our infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us. Thousands of bridges are structurally deficient and there have already been some very high profile collapses. Over 30 percent of the highways and roads in the United States are in very poor shape. Aging sewer systems are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. There have already been some regional blackouts, and unless something is done quickly things promise to get even worse. The truth is that a nation's infrastructure says a lot about who they are. So what does America's infrastructure say about us? It says that we are a rusting, crumbling, decaying leftover from a better, more prosperous time.
Just consider the following facts about America's infrastructure from the Pew Research Center website.....
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America's nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
- According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately a third of America's major roadways are in substandard condition - a significant factor in a third of the more than 43,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year.
- The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that traffic jams caused by insufficient infrastructure waste 4 billion hours of commuters' time and nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline a year.
The Triple Curse of the Corporate Climate Bill
By Harvey Wasserman
Legend says curses come in threes. Let's pray that doesn't happen with the unholy trinity of the Corporate Climate Bill.
It demands drilling for oil, digging for coal and big money for new nukes. How such a devil's brew could help save the Earth conjures a corporate cynicism beyond the scope of the human mind and soul.
It all now bears a special curse. It was meant for Earth Day. Then it slipped to the April 26 Chernobyl anniversary. But co-sponsor Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pitched a fit over immigration and pulled his support.
As did Earth herself. Just prior, more than two dozen hill country miners were killed in a veritable Three Mile Island of black carbon. This entirely avoidable accident was built on years of sloppy denial by King Coal and the tacit assent of pliant regulators. With mountains of offal being pitched into rivers and streams, and underground hell holes filled with gas and soot, coal has been slaughtering people and eco-systems here for more than a century. Now, as at TMI, the death has become visible.
Meanwhile, the undersea gusher destroying the Gulf of Mexico may soon pour up the east coast. Like Chernobyl, it defies comprehension.
Ted Glick wrote:
I go on trial, a jury trial, on May 11th in Washington, D.C. This is for hanging a banner last Sept. 8th, 2009, the day Congress returned from their summer recess, which said: "Green Jobs Now, Get to Work." This was part of a demonstration of about 40 people inside the Hart Senate Office Building.
It's ironic, and sad, that this call for action is as relevant now as it was eight months ago.
I was originally scheduled for trial in late February but it was postponed until May 11th. The government has made it clear they want to make an example of me because of prior convictions for similar actions. Their plea deal offer to me, which I rejected, was that if I pleaded guilty I'd have to serve 30 days in jail. They have filed a motion that, because of my past convictions, they may be asking for additional jail time if I'm convicted beyond the maximum 6 months that I'm liable for right now. I will be defending myself, with the assistance of lawyer Ann Wilcox.
I'm asking people who can to show up in court the morning (or the afternoon) of the 11th. The courtroom is the Superior Court building, 500 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington DC, Judge Frederick Weisberg presiding.
Please sign up at this link if you will be able to attend. Thanks much, Ted Glick
One thing you don’t hear much mention of in all the coverage of the BP oil rig blowout that is now pouring 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, just a few dozen miles off the coast of Louisiana, is the 2010 hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1, but which can start significantly earlier.
This is, after all, an El Nino year, so storms could be more frequent and stronger than usual. In 2007, recall, the first storm of the season was Tropical Storm Andrea, which reached a size strong enough to merit a name on May 7, just a week later than today.
Why does this matter? Because any attempt to use booms or chemicals keep the oil away from the Gulf Coast would be completely impossible in the event of a major storm entering the Gulf. The combination of high winds, storm surges and high waves would push the oil slick way inland up the bayous and onto the shelter islands that protect 40 percent of America’s wetlands.
Washington, D.C.--StopTheChamber.com, a network of national organizations dedicated to corporate accountability, has been calling for months for a full criminal investigation into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its top staff, including CEO Tom Donohue, for racketeering, fraud, false reporting, and campaign finance violations. Now the network is adding obstruction of justice to that list. In the past two weeks, the United States has been hit with three major disasters, all tied to the polices and practices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. First, 29 miners were killed in a Massey Energy coal mine explosion, second, 11 oil workers were killed in an British Petroleum oil rig fire, and third, Goldman Sachs was charged with a massive billion dollar fraud enterprise. Each of these companies uses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with its army of lobbyists and lawyers, as its first line of defense, corruptly influencing politicians and judges to protect corporations and thwart investigations, and spinning public relations to justify criminal conduct.
The Chamber has spent hundreds of millions on behalf of Wall Street robber barons, and has been directly coordinating with Goldman Sachs to maximize its profits and minimize the fallout from its criminal activities. The Chamber has been fighting laws and regulations to protect worker safety on behalf of Massey Energy and British Petroleum, and in fact, Massey CEO Don Blankenship is a Director of the Chamber and confidant of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue. Massey and BP have been cited for thousands of safety violations, while the Chamber has been representing them and their trade groups to avoid regulation of any kind.
Bobby Kennedy Jr. said on Sunday (watch video here) that “Massey Energy is a criminal enterprise” that “cannot stay in business without breaking the law.” He says that Don Blankenship should “be in jail” for creating the conditions that led to the deaths of the 29 miners. On Tuesday, Eliot Spitzer, probably the most experienced attorney general to go after Wall Street criminals, asked, with regard to Goldman Sachs, “Where are the prosecutors?”
StopTheChamber.com calls on both the United States Attorney General and state attorneys general to launch widespread criminal investigations of the operations of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, racketeering and other serious felonies. “The Chamber is like the mafia dons of past eras,” said campaign spokesman and attorney Kevin Zeese. “All the criminal companies have to pay off the Chamber in order to get protection. The Chamber in turn launders that money in secret, and then pays off judges, politicians and even the media with donations, advertising, jobs, and other means of corruption. Tom Donohue, to quote Eliot Spitzer, ‘has never once found a crime that he couldn't justify, as long as it was committed by one of his dues-paying members.’ The Chamber, like the mafia, also uses threats to get its way, unleashing waves of goons, lobbyists and lawyers to intimidate anyone who dares to challenge it. Tom Donohue proudly says that the Chamber is so strong that ‘when it bites you in the butt, you bleed.’ We are calling on attorneys general across the country to focus their prosecutorial resources on the root of the corporate wrongdoing problem, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which enables, protects and conspires with these criminal companies to violate the law to the detriment of all Americans. There can be no more business as usual, and the Chamber must be held accountable in the same way the mafia dons were held accountable—prosecutions for conspiracy and racketeering.”
Hey, Sierra Club: There’s a giant flaming ball of oil being pushed straight for the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi. Might be the worst environmental event in decades. I know it makes the President’s recent decision to allow offshore drilling look. . . well, awkwardly timed, but this is, sort of, you know, your issue, and there’s no mention of it on your landing page. Was it not on the agenda at the Tuesday afternoon veal pen meeting?...
Shortly after Obama took office, the White House tried to cut Social Security benefits, but they had to back off, fearful that they would lose the support of liberal interest groups who joined together en masse behind the scenes to oppose it. The administration subsequently herded them all into a room, threatened their funding, and captivated them in an effort to pass a health care bill written by the Heritage Foundation and the insurance industry. And the progressive groups went along with it, proving that there is absolutely no limit to what they’ll accept.
Of course, the White House is going to go after Social Security again. It’s the pot of gold at the end of Wall Street’s rainbow, and they desperately want that injection of cash which could keep their giant ponzi scheme from exploding. . . for a little while.
Lucky for them, Obama has successfully dismantled the opposition that kept George Bush from privatizing Social Security at Wall Street’s behest only a few years ago. Did anybody fail to get that message when majority whip Dick Durbin yesterday told “bleeding heart liberals” that they need to be willing to accept cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits for the economic well-being of the nation? And there will be zero pushback. Read more.
"It's a low-cost solar cell that can be made to work with local, low-cost agricultural crops like pokeberries and with a means of production that emerging economies can afford," Carroll said.
A purple berry used by U.S. Civil War soldiers to write letters home could be used to advance solar power in poor rural areas, scientists said....When applied to fiber-based solar cells, the berry's dye acts as an absorber, helping the cell's fibers capture more sunlight to convert into power, Carroll said in a release from the university Thursday. Read more.
Nation's first offshore wind farm approved for Nantucket Sound
By Wayne Drash | CNN
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday approved the nation's first offshore wind farm, signing off on a project that has bitterly divided Cape Cod over the last nine years.
The 130 turbines are to be located several miles from the Massachusetts shore in the iconic waters of Nantucket Sound. The interior secretary said Cape Wind, as the project is known, is the start of a "new energy frontier."
"The United States is leading a clean energy revolution that is reshaping our future," Salazar told reporters in Boston. "Cape Wind is an opening of a new chapter in that future, and we are all part of that history."
"Cape Wind will be the nation's first offshore wind farm, supplying clean power to homes and businesses in Massachusetts, plus creating good jobs here in America," he said. "This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast." Read more.
Seven years under occupation, Iraqis still cope with what Refugees International calls "a dire humanitarian crisis that sees huge numbers of displaced (and other Iraqis) struggl(ing) to survive," a situation "for which the US bears special responsibility" but does nothing to correct.
Recent UNHCR figures estimate around 4.5 million refugees, nearly 2.8 million internal ones (IDPs), a third of these in squatter slums in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah al-Din. Many fear returning home. Most are impoverished. Settlements lack basic services, including water, sanitation, electricity, and health care. Education is difficult where available.
Camps are built in precarious places - under bridges, alongside railroad tracks, and near garbage dumps. In 2009, they were ordered to vacate. They remain. The directive was postponed, but they fear eviction with nowhere else to go, and little help for their needs and welfare.
Most get no government, US, UN or NGO aid given security's top priority. "The zero-risk mentality of the burgeoning security industry has hijacked more rational and creative thinking" to provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance.
As a result, the occupation grinds on while conditions deteriorate, "3,000 new individuals registering for refugee status each month," adding to a growing crisis. They lack proper shelter, food, health care and other essentials, living day to day fearing greater misery, disease or death.
By Dave Lindorff
British Petroleum had a fail-safe system for it’s Deepwater Horizon floating deep-water drilling rig.
You know, the one that blew up and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a tangled spaghetti pile of 22-inch steel pipe one mile long all balled up on the sea floor a mile below the surface, and that is leaking oil at 42,000 gallons per day...so far.
The thing is, the fail-safe system, about the size of a McMansion sitting at the wellhead on the ocean floor, um, failed. It didn’t collapse and shut off the flow of oil as intended, and it could take months now to shut the well down--during which time the leak rate is likely to increase to up to 300,000 gallons per day, or over two million gallons a week.
Chernobyl demands a REAL climate bill
By Harvey Wasserman | April 26, 2010
This week 24 years ago, untold quantities of lethal radiation began pouring into the atmosphere from the catastrophic explosion at Chernobyl Unit 4. Nearly a million people have died because of it.
And on this horrific anniversary we have now seen the stumble of a very bad climate bill. The events are directly related.
Chernobyl's death toll has been bitterly debated.
But after nearly a quarter-century of industry denial, the New York Academy of Sciences has published, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, the definitive catalog and analysis. Drawing on some 5,000 studies, three Russian scientists have placed the ultimate death toll at 985,000.
The authors include Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the president of Russia; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist who was, at the time of the accident, director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. The book has been edited by Dr. Janette Sherman, a toxicologist expert in the health impacts of radioactivity.
As Karl Grossman has shown, Chernobyl's death toll stretches worldwide. Its apocalyptic cloud blanketed Europe and blew across the northern tier of the United States. Sheep in Scotland and milk in New England were heavily contaminated, along with countless square miles of land and sea.
Ohio's Davis-Besse may have come within a fraction of an inch of such a disaster, and has again been found with potentially apocalyptic structural flaws. Michigan's Fermi I and the infamous Three Mile Island Unit 2 did melt.
Now the brand new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 design has been deemed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as unable to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, and has turned up with a critical generic flaw that could cause it to explode.
Which is where the climate bill comes in.
TomDispatch: 350 Degrees of Inseparability, The Good News About the Very Bad News about Climate Change
From TomDispatch this morning: a typically inspired Rebecca Solnit on Bill McKibben's remarkable new book, Eaarth, and possible paths out of a global catastrophe. This is must-read Solnit about a must-read book by a must-read author -- "350 Degrees of Inseparability, The Good News About the Very Bad News about Climate Change." (And you can catch a TomCast audio interview with Solnit in which she discusses what hope can do in the worst of circumstances here.)
"These days, I see how optimistic and positive disaster and apocalypse movies were," begins TomDispatch regular Rebecca Solnit in her latest incandescent post. "Remember how, when those giant asteroids or alien space ships headed directly for Earth, everyone rallied and acted as one while our leaders led? We’re in a movie like that now, except that there’s not a lot of rallying or much leading above the grassroots level. The movie is called 'Climate Change,' and you can tell its plot in a number of ways.
Her piece focuses on one way that story has just been told -- in environmental activist Bill McKibben's new book Eaarth whose premise, she writes, "is not that something terrible came to Earth -- after all we were the ones, over the last 200 years, who sent all those billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere -- but that we ourselves have landed on a strange, dangerous, unfamiliar new planet he calls Eaarth. Think Forbidden Planet without Robby the Robot; think The Tempest with neither Ariel nor Prospero." If the first half of that book offers a nightmare vision of the transformed planet we're already living on, "the second half," she adds, "is a very practical handbook," and it's that handbook which Solnit -- known for, as in her most recent book, finding "paradise" in a hell of disaster -- focuses on in her usual irrepressible way.
This is simply must-read Solnit about a must-read book by a must-read author. She concludes: "If the ship of state can’t turn in time to avert catastrophe, it's time to jump ship and put ourselves into small, mobile lifeboats, canoes, outriggers, and kayaks. The age of the giants is over; the future belongs to the small fry. If we want to have a future, that is. It’s really your choice because, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you’re also starring in this movie." Read more.
Officials Say Burning Oil Rig in Gulf of Mexico Has Sunk
Burning Oil Rig Sinks in 5,000 Feet of Water While Seach Continues for 11 Men; One Suit Already Filed
By Lee Ferran, Jeffrey Kofman and Michael Murray | ABC News
A burning oil rig sank into 5,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico today while the search by air for 11 workers still missing continued.
The U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the search, said it will now begin to assess the pollution the disaster has caused. About 300,000 gallons of crude oil have been released into the Gulf.
Nearly 100 survivors of Tuesday's explosion -- which sent several workers diving off the 75-foot platform -- arrived in a New Orleans port early this morning, Kerver said. Seventeen others were taken to area hospitals, some with critical injuries.
Overnight two Coast Guard cutters continued the search for the 11 missing, eerily illuminated by the massive fireball on the platform that has yet to be extinguished. The Coast Guard said aircraft were scheduled to resume the search at first light. Already nearly 2,000 square miles have been scoured, the Coast Guard said. Read more.
THE GREENING OF THE GRAY PANTHERS
By Joan Wile
One had always thought of the Gray Panthers as an admirable organization advocating for the dignity and rights of older people, as so brilliantly represented by its founder, the magnetic Maggie Kuhn.
But, one would have been not fully informed. On Saturday, April 17, the Panthers celebrated their 40 years of existence, and held two actions in Washington DC which made it clear that they are a multi-issue group on behalf of persons of all ages. Their struggle against ageism is still a very important part of their agenda, but they vest other causes with as much weight.
The first of their actions on Saturday was a mixed-generation rally at the White House with unique features exemplifying the theme of environmental protection. They carried three faux open coffins with fabric effigies of a man, woman and child. Rally attendees wore white protective masks to symbolize the dangers of global warming on the air we breathe. Other colorful touches were the repeated throwing of many facsimiles of Earth globes made of cotton into the air, another symbol of how we are all affected by the dangers of global warming. Two people wore hazmat suits while pushing two wheelchaired participants. A Hazmat suit is a garment worn as protection from hazardous materials or substances and is generally combined with a breathing apparatus.
By Linda Milazzo
Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy).
One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.