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US House Approves Bill Increasing Compensation for Oil Spill Victims
By Sarah Miley | Jurist via Truthout
The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would increase compensation for injured workers and victims' families that have filed claims against BP as a result of the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill [JURIST news archive] in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill marks the first piece of legislation passed by the House in response to the oil spill. The Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability (SPILL) Act would change several laws applying to legal liability on the high seas. The jurisdiction of the 1920 Death on the High Seas Act, which allows families of decedents to bring a civil action in federal court, would be extended from three to 12 miles from the US coastline. The amendment would also allow the families of workers who died in the BP oil rig explosion to file a claim for both compensatory and punitive damages, including pain and suffering and loss of companionship. SPILL also amends the 1920 Jones Act to allow recovery for loss of care, comfort and companionship by a individual injured in the course of employment at sea. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) sponsored the bill, calling the previous legislation "ancient" and "outdated." Some Republicans argued that the bill was too broad because it covers all companies operating on the high seas but did not act to block its passage. Representatives from both parties did agree on at least one issue—that companies directly responsible for the Gulf oil spill should not be allowed to limit damages under outdated laws. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, and was therefore not recorded. The bill will now go before the US Senate. Read more.
It's the largest environmental disaster in U.S. - and possibly world history.
But do you know exactly where it is? Could you point to a map and show where the oil rig sank?
Do you know what the topography of the surrounding area is?
Hint: If you think it's flat seafloor - as implied by BPs drawings - you'd be wrong (the spill site is actually located within a giant canyon system, rather than on flat ground).
This essay will provide some basic orientation as to ground zero for the oil spill. Read more.
The BP Environmental Catastrophe: Living on a Dying Delta
By Dahr Jamail | Global Research
Our first full day in Louisiana finds us venturing south from New Orleans to Houma, a town about an hours drive to the southwest. It is from here we are to take a flight over the marsh to inspect the damage, thus far, caused by the ongoing BP oil catastrophe.
Walking into the office of Butler Aviation Services at the airport, the downtrodden mood, and accompanying anger, are palpable. Of course this is not assisted by the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Louisiana today.
“What would you tell Joe if he walked into your office,” Robbie Butler, with the flight service of his name, asks me. He then adds, “Hey Joe, lead, follow, or get out of the way. That’s what I’d tell him.”
At approximately the same time Butler is telling me of these three excellent suggestions, Biden is in downtown New Orleans inside the “command center” meeting with more than 100 BP, government and military officials inside a cavernous office dubbed “the bullpen.” In case anyone wasn’t clear about the priorities of the US government, included in Biden’s entourage are BP’s chief operating officer Doug Suttles, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. It was Jindal who, on June 2nd, sent an urgent letter to President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding his grave concerns at the time of the administration’s decision to place a moratorium on deepwater drilling.
The lead paragraph in that letter made it very clear how Jindal’s concern is not with the ongoing catastrophic loss of ecosystems, or even the fisherpersons of his state, but with placating big oil. His letter begins: Read more.
Move over Hawaii -- there's a new vacation destination forming in the Pacific, and its name is "Recycled Island."
A Netherlands-based architecture company, WHIM, plans to contstruct the island from 97 million pounds of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean, turning it into a fully sustainable island with enough space for half a million inhabitants, according to WHIM's Ramon Knoester.
Although plastic, the island will be green in both appearance and environmental impact. Knoester said he plans to recycle the plastic and construct the island on site, sparing the environment of long shipments across the ocean. The island will also be powered by wave and solar energy, and residents will be able to use seaweed as bio fuel and fertilizer. Read more.
Allegations Emerge BP Is Dumping Sand To Cover Oil
By Allison Kilkenny | Huffington Post
Yesterday, I contacted a friend of mine, C.S. Muncy, who is a photojournalist currently raising all kinds of hell down in southern Louisiana.
C.S.'s original goal was to gain access to some of the areas being guarded by BP contractors and deemed "off limits" to reporters, but yesterday he, along with Save Our Shores's Judson Parker, made an unexpected discovery.
They believe that BP has been dumping sand on the beaches in order to cover up oil. You can view some video Judson shot of the beach over here. Read more.
BP Oil Spill: World's Largest Oil Skimmer Arrives in Gulf of Mexico
ABC News Goes on Board Taiwanese Billionaire's 'Whale' of a Ship
By Jeffrey Kofman and Bradley Blackburn | ABC News
Of the thousands of people who've come forward with big ideas for cleaning up BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one company has come forward with a giant idea it claims could collect hundreds of thousands of barrels of oily water per day and make a whale of a difference.
The company's massive skimming ship currently floating off the Louisiana shoreline is called, literally, "A Whale," and with good reason. The 1,100-foot long tanker is 10 stories tall, stamped with a blue whale on the side of its bridge, and has been specially retrofitted by its owner, TMT Shipping of Taiwan, to collect oil from the Gulf.
Upon hearing about the oil spill, now the largest ever in the Gulf of Mexico, the owner of the ship, mysterious Taiwanese billionaire Nobu Su, ordered his engineers to cut vents in the bow and redesign the tanks inside, creating the largest skimming vessel in the world. Read more.
As the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew out ever more toxic oil and methane into the sea, and as floating toxic sludge, by the millions of gallons, starts destroying the wetlands across the American Southeast, the dead hand of President Ronald Reagan is at work, making sure nothing is done to prevent yet another such disaster from occurring.
The name of that dead hand is Martin Leach-Cross Feldman, a federal judge in Louisiana, a part of the notoriously right-wing Fifth Circuit.
Feldman, appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan and approved by the Republican-led Senate in 1983, has been a craven supporter of corporations over the public interest for years. In the wake of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans, for example, the judge ruled against homeowners who tried to bring a racketeering case against Clipper Estates, the corporate owner of their housing development, claiming that the company had stolen money it collected from them allegedly for repairs, for the owner’s personal use. Feldman ruled that homeowners had no standing to sue.
Now, using classic Reaganesque logic (remember our senile ex-president’s mocking argument to environmentalist that because trees release carbon dioxide at night, they must be “polluters”?), Judge Feldman has issued a temporary restraining order against the White House’s six-month freeze on offshore drilling. His rationale for overturning the moratorium on drilling: The government hadn’t provided an adequate justification for it. Read more.
NOAA has used modeling of historical wind and ocean currents to project the likelihood that surface oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill will impact additional U.S. coastline. This modeling, part of NOAA’s comprehensive response to the unprecedented Gulf oil disaster, can help guide the ongoing preparedness, response and cleanup efforts.
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.