Our regular featured content-
These featured articles-
- The White Rose by ek hornbeck
- Mortgage Fraud: Task Force Still An Empty Promise by TheMomCat
- The “C” Word by ek hornbeck
This is an Open Thread
Apr 19 2012
Our regular featured content-
These featured articles-
This is an Open Thread
Apr 19 2012
(Note: this is kind of a compliment to Magnifico’s Next Big Oil Spill Disaster Set for the Arctic.- ek)
This is kind of a tough story to assemble because the images are graphic and disturbing. Just warning you before you click through on the links.
A lot of people are talking about Al-Jazzera’s story on the horrible consequences of the BP Oil Disaster on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem-
Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists
Dahr Jamail, Al-Jazzera
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2012 03:16
“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber,” Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. “It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known”.
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic – able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus – and carcinogenic.
Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP’s submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from “a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor”.
(Dr. Andrew) Whitehead’s (associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University) work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP’s oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf’s food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.
“What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil,” Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.
According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.
“That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish,” he explained. “So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can’t think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish.”
But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.
Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a “keystone” species in the food web of the marsh, “Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences.”
Back on shore, troubled by what he had been seeing, Keath Ladner met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration and asked them to promise that the government would protect him from litigation if someone was made sick from eating his seafood.
“They wouldn’t do it,” he said.
What is Al-Jazeera’s special expertise in this story? The Persian Gulf has been experiencing the toxic effects of oil spills for nearly a century.
There’s no way that every one of these mutated fish was caught before it ended up on a dinner plate. I don’t know what that means for humans who consume them; the process of cooking may have removed some of the toxics. But I am no longer hankering for Gulf sushi. And the Gulf of Mexico provides 40% of all seafood consumed in the US, so it’s not really “Gulf” sushi at all.
Scientists know enough about dispersants to say fairly confidently that they’re causing the mutations in the Gulf. I’m sure the American Petroleum Institute can find some who think otherwise. And the office of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, contacted for the story, claimed that “Gulf seafood has consistently tested lower than the safety thresholds established by the FDA for the levels of oil and dispersant contamination that would pose a risk to human health.”
At Naked Capitalism George Washington has an excellent post with many, many links to the terrible damage that has already been documented-
George Washington: 2 Years After the BP Oil Spill, Is the Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?
By Washington’s Blog, Naked Capitalism
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Mother Jones points out that the White House pressured scientists to underestimate BP spill size. And see this Forbes write up, and our previous reporting on the topic.
This is exactly like Fukushima and the financial mess, because government’s approach to crises is consistent, no matter what area we are talking about: let the giant companies which fund political campaigns do whatever they want … and then help them cover up the extent of the crisis once it inevitably hits.
And what is BP doing about it? Extend and Pretend, because that’s working oh so well.
The Big Spill, Two Years Later
The New York Times
Published: April 17, 2012
BP has paid $14 billion in cleanup costs and $6.3 billion in damages to individuals and businesses, with another $7.8 billion pledged. The company is also likely to owe several billion dollars for damages to natural resources under the Oil Pollution Act, and somewhere between $5 billion and $20 billion in penalties under the Clean Water Act, depending on the level of negligence.
BP may well prefer a negotiated settlement of these damages to a long and potentially damaging trial. If so, the Justice Department should press for the best possible deal from what is still a deep-pocketed company. Congress must make sure that the bulk of this money is used not only to address particular damage from the spill but to carry out a broad program of ecosystem restoration – the wetlands and barrier islands that had been weakened well before the spill by industrialization and mismanagement of the Mississippi River and by Hurricane Katrina.
BP proposes Gulf spill accord terms, trial delay
By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters
Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:16pm EDT
If BP wins a trial delay, the schedule suggests that any trial on federal and state government pollution claims, claims against BP’s drilling partners, and claims among BP and those partners would not start until well into 2013, if not later.
“States represent millions of citizens, and they deserve their day in court,” Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who coordinates state interests with his Louisiana colleague James “Buddy” Caldwell, said in a telephone interview.
“I think quite frankly that BP is not going to focus on a comprehensive settlement until it is up against a trial deadline,” Strange added.
The medical settlement addresses claims by people made ill from exposure to oil or chemical dispersants. It covers clean-up workers and residents of beachfront or wetland areas, and allows people who develop symptoms later to sue BP at that time. About 16,000 plaintiffs have submitted claims, court papers show.
Victims who are unhappy with the settlements may opt out and pursue their claims separately.
Those ineligible to recover include financial institutions, casinos, people claiming hardship from an Obama administration moratorium on deepwater drilling, and some private plaintiffs in Florida and Texas.
“Neither side will receive everything it wants,” but the settlements are “more than fair, reasonable and adequate” and could avert a decade of litigation, BP and plaintiffs’ lawyers said in papers filed in New Orleans federal court.
“BP made a commitment to help economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast,” Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement. “This settlement provides the framework for us to continue delivering on that promise, offering those affected full and fair compensation, without waiting for the outcome of a lengthy trial process.”
Prior to the settlement, the lawyer Kenneth Feinberg had paid out $6.1 billion to spill victims who submitted claims under BP’s $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
BP expects the $7.8 billion payment to come from that trust. Claimants with final offers from Feinberg can receive 60 percent of their money now, and if eligible under the new program may receive the remaining 40 percent or seek higher awards.
BP still faces tens of billions of dollars of potential claims from the U.S. government; Gulf states; and drilling partners Transocean Ltd, which owned the rig, and Halliburton Co, which provided cementing services.
The oil company’s potential liability for violating the federal Clean Water Act alone could reach as high as $17.6 billion upon a finding of gross negligence. BP has already taken a $37.2 billion charge for the spill.
Your tax dollars at work-
Congress falls short on oil spill safety, panel says
By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau, L.A. Times
April 17, 2012, 6:24 p.m.
The report by members of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling complained that Congress had failed to pass legislation requiring the offshore oil and gas industry to bear the costs of federal oversight through fees on leasing and permitting reviews. The presidential panel had also recommended that the $75-million liability cap for offshore oil spills be increased substantially.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has passed a bill to funnel penalties from the spill to restoring the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem, but House Republicans have yet to approve it.
Several recent developments signal the need for more serious steps to bolster offshore drilling safeguards, the report said. In the last 10 months, “at least three offshore oil and gas rigs around the world have experienced significant leaks, demonstrating again and again how risky this activity is,” the report said. “Risks will only increase as drilling moves into deeper waters with harsher, less familiar environmental conditions.”
Some senior administration and congressional staffers complained that the report used simple letter grades to sum up complicated efforts.
And as usual, Magnifico scooped me on that story too-
U.S. oil production is increasing and offshore drilling is expanding, but yet the problems that contributed to the BP Gulf oil disaster remain. “It is unfortunate that two years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, Congress has yet to take action to bolster the government’s program for managing offshore activities,” the commission wrote in their report card.
With increased drilling and intentionally negligent oversight, it isn’t a matter of if there will be another oil drilling disaster off the American waters, but when it will happen. The environment and people who depend on it for their existence, which is everyone, will be negatively impacted. With the inevitable oil spills, the commission reports that “Congress has provided little support” for spill response and containment too. So, the country remains unready to respond to the next disaster.
So, while the Obama administration has been opening up more areas for drilling, the Republican-controlled House and the ineffective Senate have been at best doing nothing to responsibly oversee offshore oil drilling and at worst been proactively trying block oversight.
The commission is being generous when it gave Congress a “D” grade. “Congress has provided neither leadership nor support for these efforts,” the commission wrote summarizing nearly two years of inaction.
We need to do better electing people to represent us and our nation’s interests. More oil at the expense of our country’s environment is not the solution.
Apr 19 2012
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
April 19 is the 109th day of the year (110th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 256 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1775, the American Revolution beginsAt about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his “Concord Hymn”, described the first shot fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge as the “shot heard “round the world.”
A British officer, probably Pitcairn, but accounts are uncertain, as it may also have been Lieutenant William Sutherland, then rode forward, waving his sword, and called out for the assembled throng to disperse, and may also have ordered them to “lay down your arms, you damned rebels!” Captain Parker told his men instead to disperse and go home, but, because of the confusion, the yelling all around, and due to the raspiness of Parker’s tubercular voice, some did not hear him, some left very slowly, and none laid down their arms. Both Parker and Pitcairn ordered their men to hold fire, but a shot was fired from an unknown source.
According to one member of Parker’s militia none of the Americans had discharged their muskets as they faced the oncoming British troops. The British did suffer one casualty, a slight wound, the particulars of which were corroborated by a deposition made by Corporal John Munroe. Munroe stated that:
“After the first fire of the regulars, I thought, and so stated to Ebenezer Munroe …who stood next to me on the left, that they had fired nothing but powder; but on the second firing, Munroe stated they had fired something more than powder, for he had received a wound in his arm; and now, said he, to use his own words, ‘I’ll give them the guts of my gun.’ We then both took aim at the main body of British troops the smoke preventing our seeing anything but the heads of some of their horses and discharged our pieces.”
Some witnesses among the regulars reported the first shot was fired by a colonial onlooker from behind a hedge or around the corner of a tavern. Some observers reported a mounted British officer firing first. Both sides generally agreed that the initial shot did not come from the men on the ground immediately facing each other. Speculation arose later in Lexington that a man named Solomon Brown fired the first shot from inside the tavern or from behind a wall, but this has been discredited. Some witnesses (on each side) claimed that someone on the other side fired first; however, many more witnesses claimed to not know. Yet another theory is that the first shot was one fired by the British, that killed Asahel Porter, their prisoner who was running away (he had been told to walk away and he would be let go, though he panicked and began to run). Historian David Hackett Fischer has proposed that there may actually have been multiple near-simultaneous shots. Historian Mark Urban claims the British surged forward with bayonets ready in an undisciplined way, provoking a few scattered shots from the militia. In response the British troops, without orders, fired a devastating volley. This lack of discipline among the British troops had a key role in the escalation of violence.
Nobody except the person responsible knew then, nor knows today with certainty, who fired the first shot of the American Revolution.
Witnesses at the scene described several intermittent shots fired from both sides before the lines of regulars began to fire volleys without receiving orders to do so. A few of the militiamen believed at first that the regulars were only firing powder with no ball, but when they realized the truth, few if any of the militia managed to load and return fire. The rest wisely ran for their lives.
Apr 19 2012
I supported Eric Schneiderman in his run for NY state AG in hopes he would carry on the legacy of Eliot Spitzer as the “sheriff of Wall St.” I was wrong, he sold out for whatever reasons, as did NY’s current governor Andrew Cuomo. In the article by Matt Stoller at naked capitalism, (a good analysis of NY AG Schneiderman), the comments about Clinton, Obama, Democrats and the alleged 2 party system would get them all banned from certain pro Obama/”Democratic” web sites.
Just a sample:
“Yeah, when ya get promoted from shaved ape and get sworn in as a human being, one of the things you do have to sign up for is the Torture Convention. This is true of everyone. Commit torture, condone torture, acquiesce to torture, and you are, in the technical legal terminology, hostis humani generis, enemy of all mankind. So in what parallel universe could notional “good Democrats” exist in a party whose leader, Barack Obama, openly violated Articles 12 and 16 of The Convention Against Torture?”
“It is quite amazing how the left-most Democrats on economic issues, like Schneiderman and Elizabeth Warren, casually support massive war crimes.
Look what Schneiderman and Warren support: massive secret wars in over 100 countries, drones that kill far more innocent than targets, cluster bombs, assassination lists, obscene rules of engagement that allow for the targeting of civilians, proxy wars, massive media manipulation and propaganda, and legalized torture.
The Democrats have surpassed even the Nazi party in their extremism!
Right now, in fact, the Democrats are aiding and abetting a criminal act of aggression against Syria (even down to the level of NGOs like MoveOn and Avaaz possibly supporting terrorism).”
“But…but…if Obama isn’t re-elected, then Mitt Romney will, uh… he’ll, uh… well, I guess he’ll do exactly the same things. But he’ll be a Republican, you see!”
The comments about Bill Clinton are equally scathing;
And what exactly did Clinton accomplish ? Repeal Glass-Steagall ? Undo the New Deal ? Start a private debt bubble that led to our current depression ?
But getting back to Schneiderman. He sold out, crossed over to the dark side. He went from being a hero to being a sellout. He’s got nuthin.
Don’t forget Clinton negotiated a deal to cut Social Security, which was only stopped by the Lewinsky scandal.
You forgot….in addition to eliminating Glass Steagall, Clinton also passed that wonderful “job creator” NAFTA…..remember?
But wait! That’s not all! From Slick Willie-for the same low, low bribe – you also got the Telecom Act, aka Rupert Murdoch Monopoly Act. And for a limited time, while supplies last, lobbyists will pay all your shipping and handling charges.
According to Common Cause: “…the Telecom Act failed to serve the public and did not deliver on its promise of more competition, more diversity, lower prices, more jobs and a booming economy.
“Instead, the public got more media concentration, less diversity, and higher prices.
“Over 10 years … cable rates have surged by about 50 percent, and local phone rates went up more than 20 percent.”
As WEB Dubois said in 1956 when he announced, I will not vote “:
In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party.
I am nearly to that point. If there is no other choice but evil. I will not vote.
Apr 19 2012
Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River. It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.
I have mentioned this is passing before, but here is the whole story about Ma getting running water. In those days, and I am thinking around 1964 or 1965, the City of Hackett decided to start a central water supply.
That was a BIG deal for lots of folks in my little town, and Ma was typical. Before we get into the details, let us see how she lived before running water.
Apr 19 2012
Shell Oil is on its way right now to a location less than 15 miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. “Shell has proposed drilling up to four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea this summer, beginning on July 1,” Subsea World News reported last month.
“The potential harm from a BP-scale spill is almost beyond comprehension,” David Yarnold, president of the National Audubon Society wrote at the Huffington Post.
If there is a spot on Earth as sacred or as critical to the future of our wild birds as the Gulf of Mexico, it is probably the unspoiled Arctic. Here, hundreds of bird species arrive every spring from all four North American flyways — the superhighways in the sky that birds use to travel up and down the Americas. Here, they mate, lay eggs and raise their young. Here also, many of America’s remaining polar bears make their winter dens along the coasts.
Siri wrote earlier today on Daily Kos on how the BP-spill in 2010 has caused unprecedented mutations and deformities in ocean life in Gulf of Mexico. Today, I’ll look at how our government and Big Oil are setting the stage in the Arctic for the sequel to Deepwater Horizon disaster. The script is already written and the leading actors are already on their way to the set.