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The latest chapter in the media's ongoing struggle to cover the Gulf Oil Spill comes courtesy of PBS Newshour's Bridget Desimone, who has been working with her colleague, Betty Ann Bowser, in "reporting the health impact of the oil spill in Plaquemines Parish." Desimone reports that on the ground, officials are generally doing a better job answering inquiries and granting access to the clean-up efforts.
But Desimone and Bowser have encountered one "roadblock" that they've struggled to overcome: access to a "federal mobile medical unit" in Venice, Louisiana: "The glorified double-wide trailer sits on a spit of newly graveled land known to some as the "BP compound." Ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing, it's tightly restricted by police and private security guards."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up the facility on May 31. According to a press release, the medical unit is staffed by "a medical team from the HHS National Disaster Medical System -- a doctor, two nurses, two emergency medical technician paramedics (EMT-P) and a pharmacist."
For over two weeks, my NewsHour colleagues and I reached out to media contacts at HHS, the U.S. Coast Guard and everyone listed as a possible media contact for BP, in an attempt to visit the unit and get a general sense of how many people were being treated there , who they were and what illnesses they had. We got nowhere. It was either "access denied," or no response at all. It was something that none of us had ever encountered while covering a disaster. We're usually at some point provided access to the health services being offered by the federal government. Read more.
Take Action: Can "emergency" new nuke loans be stopped despite cover of war?
By Harvey Wasserman | July 1, 2010
Amidst a grassroots uproar over funding for the military, the nuclear power industry has again forced $9 billion in loan guarantees onto an "emergency" war appropriations bill for Afghanistan and Iraq.
Citizen opposition helped delay a similar vote scheduled last month. Now green energy advocates are again asked to call Congress immediately.
The move comes as part of a larger push for federal funding for a "new generation" of reactors.
Because independent investors won’t fund them, the reactor industry has spent some $645 million in the last decade lobbying Congress and the White House for taxpayer money.
This $9 billion is for two new reactors proposed for the South Texas site, on the Gulf of Mexico, and another at Calvert Cliffs, Maryland.
Continued operations of the two reactors now at South Texas are threatened by oil gushing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon. Calvert Cliffs is just 40 miles from the nation’s capital.
French and Japanese companies are among the leading candidates to profit from the loans. "Nearly all the major parts that would go into new reactors will be built overseas," says the Nuclear Information & Resource Service.
July 1, 2010
In this video, made from from Alabama resident John Wathen, a private pilot volunteer who flew over the area where the oil rig sank, shot this incredible video footage, bringing home the fact that this disaster is unstoppable, and BP is trivializing it. Officials have stopped guessing at the amount of oil leaking although some speculate it may be closer to 1 million gallons per day.
Some say it may be up to 5 million gallons a day.
Whistle Blower To Testify On Oil Spill Worst Fear: BP Deliberately Sinks Oil With Corexit As Cover Up
Testimony before a Senate investigative panel this week is expected to reveal what many have suspected about BP all along; they don’t care about the environment, the animals that are dying, and the lives that are being destroyed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In a shocking interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on June 29th, Allegiance Capitol Corporation V.P. Fred McCallister said that BP is deliberately sinking oil with the toxic chemical disbursant Corexit, to hide the size of the oil spill. By sinking the oil before it can be collected, BP won’t have to pay fines on it.
McCallister said, “Everybody in Europe, where the standard practice is to raise the oil and collect it, is scratching their heads, and quite honestly laughing at what’s happening in the Gulf.” He added, “Everyone is looking at us and wondering why we’re allowing this to happen.” Read more.
TomDispatch: Stephen Kinzer: BP in the Gulf -- The Persian Gulf, How an Oil Company Helped Destroy Democracy in Iran
From TomDispatch today: From a well-known author, a powerful reminder of just what a reckless company BP has been, the almost forgotten story of how BP's great political "spill" of 1953 helped slime our world -- Stephen Kinzer, "BP in the Gulf -- The Persian Gulf, How an Oil Company Helped Destroy Democracy in Iran."
"To frustrated Americans who have begun boycotting BP," writes Stephen Kinzer, author of Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future, "Welcome to the club. It's great not to be the only member any more!"
In a bracing reminder of the historical recklessness of BP that no one has yet explored, even as the Gulf of Mexico is being destroyed for generations, Kinzer, well known for his work on the CIA in Guatemala (Bitter Fruit) and the U.S. record of "regime change" (Overthrow), points out that he's been driving past BP stations long before this year's oil spill. "My decision not to give this company my business," he writes, "came after I learned about its role in another kind of 'spill' entirely -- the destruction of Iran's democracy more than half a century ago."
Here he tells just how, in 1953, BP, then known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and in possession of all Iran's oil, in conjunction with the CIA overthrew a democratic Iranian government eager to nationalize its own oil supplies. It was the first government the CIA ever toppled and the reckless decision of the company and the Agency would change our world in devastating ways which, like the present spill in the Gulf of Mexico, reverberated for generations.
This is an event that should have, but hasn't, come to mind in the midst of BP's latest disaster. Kinzer brings it back powerfully. He concludes:
"The oil company re-branded itself as British Petroleum, BP Amoco, and then, in 2000, BP. During its decades in Iran, it had operated as it pleased, with little regard for the interests of local people. This corporate tradition has evidently remained strong. Many Americans are outraged by the relentless images of oil gushing into Gulf waters from the Deepwater Horizon well, and by the corporate recklessness that allowed this spill to happen. Those who know Iranian history have been less surprised." Read it now.
Iraqi Energy Protests Grow
Officials call for calm and patience as citizens’ fury at outages boils over, Khalid Waleed writes for IWPR.
By Khalid Waleed for Institute for War and Peace Reporting(IWPR)
The interim Iraqi government is reeling from riots and demonstrations that have erupted across the country to protest severe electricity shortages.
Anger has been growing for weeks over the continued power cuts and rising fuel prices - resulting from the demand for generators - and the stalled efforts to form a new government.
At least two demonstrators were killed June 19 in the southern city of Basra when security forces opened fire on a mob enraged after electricity was reduced to less than two hours per day.
Seventeen police were wounded in Nasiriyah on June 22 when hundreds of protesters clashed with riot troops outside provincial administrative offices. Protests have become an almost daily occurrence in some poor neighborhoods of Baghdad.
The crisis saw its first political casualty on June 23 when the embattled electricity minister, Karim Waheed, handed in his resignation to caretaker prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose own bid for a second term has now been cast in doubt. Read more.
As recently as 30 minutes ago, Facebook has removed the main "Boycott BP" from it's page. With it, it leave almost 800,000 fans hanging.
This group was created with the intent of sending a clear and strong message to BP and to Washington that what has happened in the Gulf has to stop everywhere.
People from all over the world shared video clips, pictures, and frustration over what has been seen incredibly slow process to an ever growing economic and environmental disaster.
Boycott BP and it's creator, Lee Perkins, have been focused in several interviews recently, one of which was done with Diane Sawyer. To say he has made a large impact in a short amount of time is an understatement.
The question is: Why did Facebook suddenly take down the site? Read more.
Even as President Obama is insisting that BP pay for all the damage caused by its oil spill, his administration is leaning on the Indian government to render its citizens unable to claim damages from U.S. power-plant suppliers in the event of a nuclear accident.
Before U.S. companies enter India's burgeoning nuclear-power market, the U.S. government is pushing for legislation limiting their liability. "The passing of the bill by Indian parliament would mean a win-win situation for both the countries, generating employment as well as giving India abundant clean energy," U.S. Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer said.
Clean is a curious word to use in this context, given that the bill is necessitated by the potentially catastrophic filthiness of nuclear power. The bill in question would indemnify foreign suppliers and make India's domestic operators responsible for the costs of nuclear disasters - though only up to a point. Read more.
A telling sign of the now 'Higher Education' Industry Mills cranking out those pieces of papers saying intelligence with bodies attached, many of those bodies shouldn't be and give those who actually sought the same professional name recognition as they deserved that and much more and not just they but us!
by Linda Milazzo
Photo by Venice Paparazzi
There are some things we humans have just one of. We have one heart, one liver, one tongue, one nose... Of course, there are probable anomalies to even these similarities. I'm sure in the annals of medicine there are cases of individuals with multiples of even these, although physiologically, we humans need just one.
BLOWOUT PREVENTERS: Rig workers had reported cheating.
Peace of the Action would like to invite you to join us in the Capitol of the Empire for two weeks of protest.
Sunday, July 4th:
Meet up with us in Lafayette Park (across from the White House--Pennsylvania Ave side) at 1PM as we declare our Independence from Petroleum. Very few people can break this addiction 100%, but very few of us can't reduce our consumption by a significant amount. If you can't make it to DC, consider having a protest in solidarity with us at a local BP or ARCO/AMPM station.
Monday, July 5th-Friday, July 9th
Say "So long" to Drones!
We will be meeting in Lafayette Park every day at 9am to go to various places in DC (the Smithsonian; General Atomics, etc) to protest the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the illegal and immoral wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Tuesday, July 6th
Prime Minister of Israel, inyamin Netanyahu, is visiting the White House--we will be there to demand that the siege on Gaza is lifted and that the occupation of Palestine be ended with a solution that is fair to the Palestinian people.
Saturday, July 10th
Take Back the Land.
We will help a homeless organization set up a homeless camp in DC
Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16th
War is a Racket!
Join us in Lafayette Park every day at 9am as we go to various locations in DC (recruiters' and war profiteers) to protest the preying on of our children by military recruiters.
Monday, July 12:
Trial of the Century for the POTA 3 and three others begins in DC City Court.
Even though the Alaskan spill was from an Exxon Ship since that, and many other spills, the now huge oil companies have not invested in technology and crews to take care of any possible accidents nor in the needed cleanup technology for devastating accidents. If we in the construction industry cut common sense corners in building anything, especially as lessons came from past engineering mistakes or just better understanding, there'd be buildings and more collapsing all over the place or when mother nature or mother earth hits with force more deaths! Alaska's present, after 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, might be Gulf Coast's future
U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, a 1983 Reagan appointee to the federal bench, issued what, on its face, would have to be regarded as an astounding decision [PDF] in which he blocked a six month moratorium on deep water off shore drilling, ruling that the Department of the Interior had erroneously assumed that because one rig failed, there was an imminent danger of others failing as well.
A perplexed Justice Department promptly announced that it intends to seek an immediate stay of Judge Feldman's preliminary injunction pending an appeal.
Setting aside what appears to be an inappropriate judicial intrusion by a Federalist Society-connected jurist into the prerogatives of the Executive branch in protecting public health, safety and the environment, setting aside the misguided notion that the burden rests with the government rather than the oil companies when it comes to demonstrating whether deep water drilling procedures are safe, Judge Feldman's decision --- and his failure to recuse himself despite conflict-of-interest concerns --- raises a significant question as to whether he should be impeached... Read more.
Venezuela has nationalised a fleet of oil rigs owned by a US-based company which had been shut down in a dispute over payments.
In a statement the Venezuelan government said that seizing control of the 11 rigs was the only way to get them restarted after a year of idleness.
The move comes as Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's socialist president, pushes ahead with a policy of energy nationalisation as he seeks to expand the state's role in the economy.
He has also taken over assets in telecommunications, power, steel and banking.
The fleet of oil rigs belonging to Oklahoma-based energy firm Helmerich and
Payne have been idled for months following a dispute over payments by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA.
Announcing the takeover of the rigs Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan oil minister, said companies that refused to put their rigs into production were part of a plan to weaken Chavez's government,
"There is a group of drill owners that has refused to discuss tariffs and services with PDVSA and have preferred to keep this equipment stored for a year," Ramirez told reporters in the oil producing state of Zulia.
"That is the specific case with US multinational Helmerich and Payne." Read more.
By Robert C. Koehler
You couldn’t call it a dialogue. It was more like a momentary rip in the global power continuum, a spill of outrage on the stage of a major oil conference in London.
On Tuesday, two Greenpeace activists interrupted a speech by British Petroleum chief of staff Steve Westwell — sandwiched him at his podium, trespassed on time and space that didn’t belong to them, and spoke to an audience that hadn’t come to hear them. They had about 20 seconds, not much time to talk about the complexity of ecosystems or draw attention, say, to the plight of the Gulf of Mexico’s Sargassum algae. They did the best they could.
One unfurled a banner that read “Go Beyond Petroleum.” The other, as she was being ushered off the stage and out of the hotel, shouted, “We need to speed up progress and make a push to end the oil age.”
That was it. Time’s up. That’s how protest is — shouted and emotional, sometimes illegal. Even when it’s videotaped and the world gets to witness those 20 seconds of public theater, all we hear are slogans, all we see are disruption and scuffle: disorder, quickly dealt with. Money gets its hair mussed a little, then returns to its agenda. Nothing seems to change. The disorder implicit in that agenda returns to “let our children worry about it” status, and we remain on the track described by Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress, his investigation into why civilizations collapse:
“The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general populace begin to suffer.”
Some call him Stanley the Fixer, Catherine Austin Fitts for one, a former high level government and Wall Street insider, now editor of Solari.com and running Solari, Inc., an ethical online investment firm specializing in preserving family wealth. Besides on her own firm and a wealth of information on important topics, her site provides extensive coverage of Sporkin, including unanswered questions about him.
On September 5, 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that BP hired him as ombudsman "to hear worker complaints from Alaska and elsewhere in the US," a move to quiet criticism about company operations, given its history of safety and environmental violations, and long record as a serial scofflaw, making daily headlines for the past two months and sure for much longer, keeping Sporkin hyperactive on the job.
"I'll report them as I see them," he said when appointed. "My mandate is to do whatever is necessary to ascertain the facts about and identify solutions for problems that exist today as well as those likely to become issues in the future."
According to Kim Eisler in his Washingtonian.com July 16, 2007 article headlined, "Stanley Sporkin Does Things His Way:"
Sporkin "landed a very big client, BP America, and has been seen around town with (its then) president Bob Malone in tow....attempting to guide (him) through a maze of Capital Hill hearings and state inquests (concerning investigation(s about the company) over everything from Alaska pipeline failures to refinery fires and lost....worldwide CEO in a scandal."
Sporkin calls his job troubleshooting, "leading a team of investigators through the charges and countercharges," using his longtime fixer influence. While his compensation isn't known, "it's said to be substantial - more than (he) ever made during his years as a judge or at the CIA and SEC."
Who then is Sporkin, and what about his dark side? More on the latter below.
New Emergency Committee Condemns “Drill, Baby, Drill” Ruling; Demands “Stop Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico”
New Emergency Committee Condemns “Drill, Baby, Drill” Ruling; Demands “Stop Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico” | Press Release
Calls for Mass Independent Action to Stop Gulf Oil Catastrophe | GulfEmergencySummit.org
A new Emergency Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster, formed this past weekend following an Emergency Summit in New Orleans, has condemned the Federal Court decision to overturn a temporary ban on oil drilling and has called for a complete half to offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, demanding that all those affected by a shutdown be provided full compensation, retraining and new employment if needed.
“Judge Feldman’s decision that the government didn’t make its case to shut down deepwater drilling flies in the face of common sense and sanity,” said committee member and NOLA resident Elizabeth Cook. “The oil lapping at our shores, killing our wildlife and marine life, IS the case for shutting down deepwater drilling.”
“This decision is an outrage,” said committee member Larry Everest, an author and writer for Revolution newspaper. “Millions of gallons of oil are spewing into the Gulf everyday, BP has removed even its temporary cap on the gusher, and the system is basically saying ‘drill, baby, drill.’ The people must act to stop this catastrophe. This system is not a fit caretaker of the earth.”
The new Emergency Committee argues that this decision and the entire course of this disaster show that “the response to this catastrophe must not be left in the hands of BP and the government.” Organizers state, “We won’t sit by or be reduced to passive spectators, we’re committed to getting out the truth, mobilizing mass independent action, and galvanizing many, many more to act to stop the oil catastrophe.” On Monday, June 21, the new Committee organized the first protest at the offices of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command Center now in New Orleans, where it presented the following demands:
If you're wondering why BP "agreed" to the $20 billion escrow fund, wonder no more....
In the end, one aim of the fund—and a prime reason BP agreed to it—will be to minimize lawsuits against the company. To do that, Mr. Feinberg will offer big lump-sum payments to workers and businesses as an enticement to stay out of court.
"At some point, I will have to make an offer—'You take this amount in full satisfaction of your claim, but only if you waive your right to future litigation,'" Mr. Feinberg said. "And if I package it right, people will see that it makes no sense to fight it out in court."
Ding ding ding ding.
Now there's the reason for it folks.
There was never a reason for BP to agree to this fund unless they got something in return. Now we know what it was - a means to cap off liability claims against the company, which could otherwise bankrupt them.
If you remember, on the 15th BP's head said he had "no intention" of establishing an escrow account - under oath in Congressional testimony.
So what "changed his mind?" Read more.
Worry Underwater: Oxygen Levels Drop as Oil Continues to Flow
Marine Animals Crowd Shallow Gulf Waters as Worries Over Oxygen Levels Grow
By Matt Gutman and Sadie Bass | ABC News
Biologists told ABC News that the entire food chain had been disrupted -- partly from the mass of oil and partly because the oil has sapped the water of oxygen. "What we're really witnessing may be a shift in the whole ecosystem feeding structure, the food web," said Bob Shipp, director of marine biology at the University of Southern Alabama. "It also may be altered permanently -- as we've seen in other parts of the world where these things happen." The oil spill has disturbed plant life too. Algae cannot survive if there isn't enough oxygen in the water, and a loss of algae could damage the ecosystem and the fisheries that rely on marine life.
Evidence of marine biologists' doomsday scenario thrashes in the Gulf waters as sharks crowd into shallow waters.
Marine biologists say the sea animals flee the spill zone the way others would flee a forest fire. With thousands of gallons of oil contaminating their natural habitats, marine creatures press into oil-free waters.
"Their habitat is shrinking, tens of thousands of square miles are affected, and animals moving away from them," said Mobi Salangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. "There are changes in food, the food they eat and their prey."
Plumes of dense oil in shallow waters, up to 50 feet below the surface, have sucked up oxygen. Tests by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab usually show oxygen levels in the shallow waters at nearly eight parts per million. They're now down to two parts per million -- four times lower than normal. Read more.
BP Oil Spill Disaster: Two Killed in Accidents; Containment Cap Removed After Robot Sub Collision
Gulf of Mexico Well Leaking at Nearly Full Force Until Repairs Can Be Made
By Ned Potter | ABC News
Oil from the BP oil spill disaster is spewing again into the Gulf of Mexico at nearly full force after a venting system connected the so-called containment cap over the blown-out wellhead was damaged in an accident with a robot sub, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the commander in charge of the government's effort to control the 65-day-old spill.
Separately, Allen said two cleanup workers have died in unrelated accidents in the Gulf, the first deaths reported since 11 people died in when Deepwater Horizon drilling rig burned and began the crisis in April.
Allen said the small sub bumped into the venting system connected to the containment cap. That sent gas rising through the plumbing that sends warm water down to the cap to prevent solid crystals -- known as hydrates -- from forming in the cap.
"They are checking the containment cap right now," said Allen at a midday briefing in Washington. "If there are no hydrates in the containment cap, they will attempt to reinstall the containment cap and begin producing later on today. If there are hydrates they will probably have to re-run the pipeline and that'll take a considerable amount longer."
Before the problem with the containment cap, Allen said it had collected about 700,000 gallons of oil in the previous 24 hours. Another 438,000 gallons were burned. Read more.
Hear the horrors of the front lines and behind scenes workings of the BP Gulf Oil Spill Catastrophe.
BP is blocking access to rescuing turtles and is incinerating turtles in the oil. Interview by Catherine Craig.
TomDispatch: Michael T. Klare: BP-Style Extreme Energy Nightmares to Come, Four Scenarios for the Next Energy Mega-Disaster
From TomDispatch this afternoon: In our extreme energy era, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn't a one-shot disaster but an arrow pointing to a nightmarish future -- Michael T. Klare, "BP-Style Extreme Energy Nightmares to Come, Four Scenarios for the Next Energy Mega-Disaster."
If you think the catastrophe in the Gulf is some kind of anomalous event (needing only better safety regulations), think again. "The only question is," writes energy expert and TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, "What will the next Deepwater Horizon disaster look like (other than another Deepwater Horizon disaster)?"
In his latest post, Klare offers four striking scenarios for future energy catastrophies in a world desperate for ever tougher-to-find, tougher-to-extract fossil fuels in ever more geologically, environmentally, and politically unsafe areas. A giant oil platform off Newfoundland is destroyed by an iceberg in a fierce north Atlantic winter storm in 2018. ("As a result, one of the world’s most prolific fishing grounds -- the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Cape Cod -- is thoroughly poisoned.") The U.S. finds itself in a literal quagmire oil war in Nigeria in 2013. A rare cyclone hits Brazil's "pre-salt" oil rigs, drilling for energy a mile and half under the water and from beneath two-and-a-half miles of shifting sand and salt, in 2020. ("In a matter of weeks, parts of Brazil’s coastal waters have become a 'dead ocean.'”) In 2022, China and Japan launch a resource war over disputed natural gas fields in the East China Sea amid environmental disaster.
None of these particular catastrophes is guaranteed to happen -- though all are based scrupulously on what's known today -- but what's guaranteed is an era of "extreme energy nightmares."
Another great post from Klare. This is must-read stuff.
"Let Them Eat Oil"
By Cindy Sheehan
I am now on an airplane heading home (for two days) after my very profound and moving experience in the Gulf Region.
Monday, June 21st, a few dozen activists, scientists, environmentalists and concerned citizens gathered in front of the Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command Center to present our list of demands to the office that houses BP and 14 Federal Agencies (the FBI also has offices in the building).
We pulled this protest together in two days and I was gratified at the turnout (one woman, Cyndie, came up from Florida) and especially with the turnout from the media. Usually the corporate media presents some hostility, but not today. After my interviews, many of them said words to this affect: "Thank you for being here to help us call attention to this disaster." Wow! Even the jaded press realizes what an enormous tragedy this is!