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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."
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
Who would have guessed that an oil spill was caused by Halliburton?
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.
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.
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.
Fatal mining disaster not just tragic, but criminal
By Amy Goodman | Rabble.CA
Massey Energy runs the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine in Montcoal, W.Va., where 29 miners were killed last week. The loss of life is tragic, but the UBB explosion is more than tragic; it is criminal. When corporations are guilty of crimes, however, they don't go to prison, they don't forfeit their freedom -- they just get fined, which often amounts to a slap on the wrist, the cost of doing business. No one makes this clearer than the CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship. He has been the bane of climate-change activists and mine safety advocates for years. This latest mine disaster, if nothing else, will surely bring needed attention to this poster boy for malevolent big business trampling on communities, the environment and workers' rights.
Days after the Massey explosion, Blankenship admitted in a radio interview: "Violations are, you know, unfortunately, a normal part of the mining process ... there are violations at every coal mine in America. And UBB was a mine that had violations." The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette has consistently reported critically on Massey Energy and Blankenship, prompting him to attack its editors in a November 2008 speech, saying: "It is as great a pleasure to me to be criticized by the communists and the atheists of the Gazette ... would we be upset if Osama bin Laden were to be critical of us? I don't think so."
Initial speculation on the cause of the explosion is methane in the mine. The Massey UBB mine has received thousands of citations for violations, including many for failing to remove the methane with ventilation. Another cause may be the mine's proximity to Massey mountaintop removal operations. Mountaintop removal involves the massive blasting away of mountaintops, providing access to seams of coal, but causing widespread destruction of the environment. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that a West Virginia state investigation into the explosion will include possible impact of nearby mountaintop mining operations. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson issued new rules restricting mountaintop removal on April 1, just days before the Massey explosion. Massey is the principal target of a growing grass-roots campaign against mountaintop removal. Among those arrested at protests have been renowned climate scientist James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and actress Daryl Hannah. Read more.
Harvey Wasserman spoke in Charlottesville, Va., on April 19, 2010. He discussed past activist successes and new strategies, and the vision of his book Solartopia, as well as the concerns expressed in his recent popular article "Will the Climate Bill Nuke Earth Day?" Wasserman laid out five key steps to fix the mess we're in. You'll want to hear them. Hint: one has to do with corporate power and another with wars.
US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015
• Shortfall could reach 10m barrels a day, report says
• Cost of crude oil is predicted to top $100 a barrel
By Terry Macalister | Guardian.co.UK
The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.
The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.
"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.
It adds: "While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India." Read more.
StopTheChamber.com Campaign Calls For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide
No More Business As Usual
Our StopTheChamber.com Campaign Today Called For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide Of 29 West Virginia Miners
We Also Called For Congress Members To Order Halt Contact With Chamber Lobbyists
YOU CAN HELP BY JOINING AND SUPPORTING OUR CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE CHAMBER!
Our StopTheChamber.com campaign has been warning for months about the devastating effect of U.S. Chamber of Commerce policies on the well being of Americans. Specifically, we have condemned the Chamber for spending hundreds of millions to fight regulation of its dues paying members and regulation of pollution caused by those members. These actions have been led by Chamber CEO Tom Donohue and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the latter who runs vast coal mining operations in West Virginia, including the serial offending Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners were killed last week.
In a recent press release, attorney and campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said: “The convergence of the Chamber’s policies against regulation of workplace safety and the disaster of mining coal without regard for the environmental impact resulted in the death of 29 hard working West Virginian miners. This was not an accident, but rather the result of deliberate and intentional decisions and actions of Don Blankenship, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Blankenship and Chamber CEO Tom Donohue must be held accountable for these deaths. What is it going to take for Congress and the President to stop coddling criminals, masquerading as legitimate businessmen, who cause the death of our loved ones? Blankenship, with the lobbying army of the Chamber to back him up, has thumbed his nose at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, ignoring or appealing every violation, including the scores that resulted in coal mine evacuations and the hundreds of other serious violations. As the Washington Post pointed out in a Saturday editorial, these 29 deaths would not have occurred absent this intentional conduct of Blankenship. He is just as criminally culpable as any mass murderer.”
Today we called on federal law enforcement officials to charge Don Blankenship with homicide, and for a complete criminal investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its CEO Tom Donohue to determine what policies and practices led to the death of these miners, and whether Chamber lobbyists and lawyers were used to cover-up or avoid compliance with safety regulations. Criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrible crime will ensure accountability, expose the Chamber’s criminal conduct and pave the way for real worker safety across the nation.
We also called on all Congress Members to immediately issue a standing order to their staff to cease all communication and contact with U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyists. Now that the Chamber and its directors have been directly implicated in the homicide of 29 workers, there can be no more business as usual. Congress Members must stand up for working people by refusing to meet with and do the bidding of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose directors, policies and practices have killed and will kill again if they are not stopped.
When scientists at Dow Chemical looked at the possibility of manufacturing solar panels a few years ago, the company rejected it out of hand, says Chief Executive Andrew Liveris. Dow had no experience building solar panels. Yet their concept was alluring: integrate thin-film solar cells into roofing shingles. In place of traditional asphalt shingles, several hundred of these nailed onto the roof could generate enough electricity to power a home. Liveris sent them back to the lab, then decided to take the plunge.
Today those scientists are testing prototypes of the product, which Dow calls Powerhouse. Dow's aim is to start selling Powerhouse next year. Because they look like traditional roofing material, the solar shingles are more likely to get the nod from uptight homeowners' associations. Now, says Liveris, "I believe this will be solar for the masses."
That change of heart reflects the sunny outlook of Dow's solar champion, William Banholzer, whose title is chief technology officer. "I don't see any reason why people wouldn't want to generate clean electricity from their roof," he says. He adds that the market for this product could be $5 billion by 2015 and envisions that "someday Dow would be a solar company that happens to make chemicals." Read more.
Thousands of Iraqis have been holding demonstrations throughout Iraq to mark the fall of Baghdad during the 2003 US-led invasion.
Marchers on Friday called for an end to what they said was the continued occupation of their country by hundreds of thousands of foreign troops and military contractors.
Supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadrturned out in massive numbers in the city of Najaf, south of Baghdad.
Iraqi broadcaster Alsumaria said the tens of thousandsof waved Iraqi flags, and trampled on US, UK and Israeli flags.
Marchers on Friday chanted slogans such as "yes, yes to unity" and "Sunni and Shia Muslims, we won't sell this country".
Protests against US and foreign forces in the country have been held every year on April 9, primarily by Sadr supporters, since Saddam Hussein, the former president, was ousted from power in 2003. Read More.
The Joint Operating Environment 2010 report, of the US Joint Forces Command, released March 15, 2010, expressed this view:
The economic importance of the Middle East with its energy supplies hardly needs emphasis. Whatever the outcome of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces will find themselves again employed in the region on numerous missions ranging from regular warfare, counterinsurgency, stability operations, relief and reconstruction, to engagement operations. The region and its energy supplies are too important for the U.S., China, and other energy importers to allow radical groups to gain dominance or control over any significant portion of the region.
Engineers of Technital SpA, the Italian firm that designed the system to save Venice from flooding, are working on the future of Iraq as embodied in their plan for the "New Al Faw Grand Port" at the southern tip of Iraq, a $6 billion major deep-water port on the Persian Gulf that will be the largest in the Gulf.
At the same time, officials of Deutsche Bahn, the German railway system, are hoping to work with the Iraqi government on a rail system that would link Al Faw to Europe. It is possible that the system might carry crude oil and petroleum products as well as dry freight to the West to augment existing pipelines and avoid ocean shipment through choke points such as the Straits of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandab and the Suez Canal.
These plans point to a dramatically different Iraq from the emotionally, culturally and economically drained nation that it is today, horribly wounded by the US-led 2003 invasion. The Iraq of the planners will earn billions from its oil reserves, the third largest in the world, and it will attract billions from investors seeking to capitalize on its economically strategic location at the top of the Persian Gulf. Read more.
Just because you're smarter, more erudite and articulate than "Dubya" if your policies are essentially unchanged from his, that is not "change", it is just new "packaging" of the same damaged goods.
Obama must be calculating that his "constituency" has nowhere else to go, believing they certainly won't embrace Republicans (or the "tea baggers") so he feels he can do as he pleases and embrace right wing ideas like increased offshore drilling and nobody on the left will notice or just ignore it.
Americans have to wake up (and go beyond the rants of the screaming wack jobs on the right). We're at the 11th hour and the clock is ticking. Our two party system is dysfunctional and broken and there is little difference between them. The people are being stiffed as neither party acts in its interests. Both parties are beholden to their corporate backers and our office holders are mostly sycophants and dutiful water carriers doing their bidding.
And that includes the current occupant in the White House.
The headline read, "Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time"
After a stunned double take (and hardly believing what one was reading ), there it was, Obama is going to "open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time."
George W. (oops!), Barack Obama is going to do EXACTLY what his predecessor vowed to do!
That it was (and is) completely unnecessary and will do nothing to seriously reduce our dependence on foreign oil or make us any closer to reaching energy independence apparently was lost on the "current occupant" in the White House. Read more.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said yesterday that he would honour deals signed with global oil majors in recent months and would move quickly to pass a new hydrocarbons law if his bloc forms the government.
But Allawi, whose cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition won the greatest number of seats in Iraq’s March 7 parliamentary election, said the deals might need some minor adjustments and he wanted to see more competition in Iraq’s energy sector.
“We are going to honour all contracts. We are going to honour all agreements because we believe this is very important,” Allawi said. Iraq awarded billions of dollars of contracts to oil majors to refurbish its dilapidated oil fields after years of neglect and war. Baghdad’s goal is to expand production capacity to 12 million barrels per day (b/d) in about six years from about 2.5m b/d now.
The contracts could catapult Iraq into the top ranks of global producers. The war-shattered nation has the world’s third-largest reserves but is just the 11th largest producer. Companies involved in the deals include US major ExxonMobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company; Russia’s Lukoil and China National Petroleum Corp. Read more.