Tag: devastation

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – So, Who’s the Hair Apparent Now? (Special Appeal)

Crossposted at Daily Kos and The Stars Hollow Gazette

GOP Hair Apparent by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, Buy this cartoon

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Note: Sections 1-4 contain dozens of additional editorial cartoons and commentary.  I’m not sure why but I was getting the below error when trying to post the complete diary.  Check out the remaining portions of the diary at Daily Kos.

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Dear Pachamama: This Too Can Heal

despacho 6/19/10

The Despacho

Beyond the anger, frustration, sadness, depression and fear of the BP oil disaster there must be something else.  The Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming a deadly petroleum gumbo garnished with oil coated, dead pelicans, life in the sea is massing and trying unsuccessfully to escape the pollution, and there may really be nothing on a practical level that can be done to staunch the hemorrhage of Pachamama’s vital fluids.  We watch in horror.  And grief.  Is our mother dying?  I awoke in the middle of the night to write this haiku:

I watch you dying.

Pelican can’t fly away.

Oceans fill my eyes.

Pachamama, I Beg You Please Forgive Us


This is deeply troubling.  And beyond sickening.  AP reports:

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.

Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange – and troubling – phenomena.

Fish and other wildlife are fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast. But that is not the hopeful sign it might appear to be, researchers say.

The animals’ presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily get devoured by predators.

“A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable,” said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.

Dear Pachamama, Mother Earth, Santa Madre Tierra, Gaia, Sweet Mother, I am so sorry for what we have done and are doing to you and your creatures, our brothers and sisters, the creatures who live in and near the sea.  We don’t know how to stop the oil, and we don’t know how to save all of these beings. Please understand our remorse, our regret, our shame and accept out deepest apologies for destroying this part of this wondrous, blue pearl planet.  Please forgive us.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles

Day 47

Day 47

Once again, my hair’s on fire.

These are the salient facts. The BP oil leak continues unabated.  Oil has transformed the Gulf Coast into the largest man made ecological disaster in history.  It may be impossible to stop the leak.  Even if it’s possible to stop the leak, it may take months and luck to do so.  Neither the Government nor BP apparently has the resources to stop the leak quickly.  Flying over the leak and visiting the Gulf Coast and making repeated speeches about the leak and trying not to look completely helpless or to cry on camera is apparently all that Government can do for us.  There has not been an all out, dramatic, gigantic mobilization of human and other resources to capture oil or to contain it.  Oil has arrived and more is expected on beaches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  There’s no end in sight.

My hair’s on fire.  I’m not really able to be with the situation.  The Gulf has turned into an oil gumbo with dead animal croutons, and my emotions are a boiling, raging, oil stew.  There is no real relief, no real change in sight.  There is no comfort.  Even thinking about impermanence, which can be an ally at times like this, doesn’t help.  Because there’s my ever present dread that while the current situation cannot continue forever, it just might become much, much worse.  What would that look like?  It would be the death of an ecosystem.

At the moment there seem to be only two real possibilities.  These are not disjunctive.  Choice one: pick up my shovels and drive to the coast.  Do whatever I can to be of help there.  Choice two: ceremony and prayer.  Beg Santa Madre Tierra, Pachamama, Mother Earth for forgiveness and healing.  I don’t have anything else.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles

BP And Obama And The World’s Largest Man Made Environmental Disaster

We’ve all had a month to stew about this.  The Gulf of Mexico is slowly turning into a petroleum gumbo laced with oil coated pelicans and dead dolphins.  We’ve been watching a slow motion train wreck.  Except it’s not just two colliding steam engines.  No.  No such luck. It’s the Gulf of Mexico, teaming with life, and its currents are moving the spilled oil around.  Eventually it will be everywhere.  And while we’re watching that unfold, and seeing clumps of tar and oil all over the beaches, we are beginning to suspect that, hard as it is to believe, maybe nobody, that’s right nobody, knows how to plug the leak.  And stop the spill.  So we’re going to have to watch a colossal ecological disaster we are utterly helpless to stop.  Or mitigate.  The signs are already everywhere, preparing us for a spectacle of wildlife and oceanic death, slowly breaking to us the very bad news we really don’t want to hear.

Just look at this from AP:

Oil spill frustration is rampant.

The White House is being pounded for not acting more aggressively in the month-old oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration is hitting back, mostly at BP. Louisiana is threatening to take matters into its own hands. The truth is, the government has little direct experience at either the national or state level at stopping deepwater oil leaks – and few realistic options.

With the oil flowing and spreading at a furious rate, President Barack Obama has accused BP of a “breakdown of responsibility.” He named a special independent commission to review what happened.

But the administration seems to want to have it both ways – insisting it’s in charge while also insisting that BP do the heavy lifting. The White House is arguing that government officials aren’t just watching from the sidelines, but also acknowledging there’s just so much the government can do directly.

“They are 5,000 feet down. BP or the private sector alone have the means to deal with that problem down there. It’s not government equipment that is going to be used to do that,” Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen told a White House briefing on Monday.

This is a recipe for a most horrible outcome.  Our frustration today is absolutely nothing compared to what is coming.  What is coming is the largest man made environmental disaster in history.  This is going to make Chernobyl look like Three Mile Island.  This is going to make Exxon Valdez and Santa Barbara look like a joke.

The administration has stated that it is going to have “a special independent commission” “review what happened.”  But I don’t need no stinking commission to know what happened.  We’ve been over it and over it and over it.  That’s all back story anyway.  If the Gulf of Mexico dies, as surely it will from enough oil, “what happened” is going to be the least of anyone’s concerns.  It’s going to be a footnote in a narration of the extensive misery and suffering that the spill has caused.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Interior supposedly has his foot on the throat of BP.  And the government continues to rely on oil company “expertise” to deal with the spill.  But the Interior Department was still apparently granting permits for underwater drilling even after he declared a moratorium on that.  And we’re already being told that the feds can supervise and direct BP, but that they aren’t capable to doing anything on their own.  Look at this.  The Coast Guard’s guy who’s in charge of this federal emergency response is saying that it’s BP or the private sector that has “the means to deal with that problem”, not the government.  If you kick them out of the way, who will take over?  Nobody, he claims. I asked before and I ask again, whether this is the first time that a claimed foot on the throat has been confused with fellatio.

No, the administration isn’t going to elbow BP aside.  Ever.  Absolutely not.  No matter what.  We’re already being told that BP, the fourth largest corporation in the world, has all the “means to deal with that problem,” and that the rest of us can just sit here and watch the largest man made ecological disaster in history slowly, but inexorably unfold.  And the expertise, we’re being told, is all in the hands of the oil companies.  They’re doing, so we’re told, all they can do.

There are some very, very smart people in the United States.  I’d like to tell you that they can be quickly called together to solve this problem.  That it’s that big a disaster that unconventional approaches are required.  But I don’t think that’s going to happen.  I don’t think the administration will take over the efforts to close the spill.  I don’t think anything will change in the way this disaster is being handled until much later.  Until we’ve been made physically and emotionally sick by the condition of the Gulf of Mexico.  Then maybe things will change. If it’s not too late.

simulposted at The Dream Antilles and dailyKos

BP: A Video Is Worth A Zillion Words

This is a sea turtle swimming in BP’s oil spill.

Is This Obama’s Katrina? Nice Work, Kenny.

Exactly how far does BP have to go, how many times does it have to blunder and fail and make excuses while it tries to preserve its investment in the leaking well, before the US pushes BP out of the way and stops the leak that is now destroying the Gulf of Mexico?  Apparently, pretty damn far.  Long story short, the US isn’t going to take over the problem at this point.  You know we’re in big, big trouble when the intervention of the US Army Corps of Engineers looks like an improvement in disaster management.  

This from Reuters makes the US government’s intentions less than perfectly clear:

The U.S. government will move aside BP (BP.L) from the operation to try to halt the Gulf of Mexico oil spill if it decides the company is not performing as required in its response to the well leak, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Sunday.

“I am angry and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this oil from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading,” Salazar told reporters after visiting BP’s U.S. headquarters in Houston.

“We are 33 days into this effort and deadline after deadline has been missed,” Salazar added, referring to the failure of containment efforts attempted so far by London-based BP to control the gushing undersea well one mile (1.6 km) down on the ocean floor.

President Barack Obama’s administration is facing growing public and political pressure to take full charge of the oil spill containment operation as criticism against BP grows.

Yeah, Ken, we’re all angry and frustrated.  But, guess what?  We’re not the Secretary of the Interior or of anything else.  We’re not in the cabinet.  We’re sitting here watching the Gulf of Mexico turn into a petrol gumbo laced with oil coated pelicans.

And what exactly do you  mean when you say, “if” the company isn’t performing as required?  Performing as required means that the leak is stopped.  Closed up.  That there’s no more oil.  Running a straw into the leak so that BP can sell it and make money on it isn’t exactly “performing as required.”

If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately,” Salazar said, but he did not specify at what point this would occur or what might be the trigger for it.

“This is an existential crisis for one of the world’s largest companies,” he said, in a reference to the billions of dollars of cleanup and damages costs that BP faces.

Give me a f*cking break. That last paragraph has to be some kind of sick joke.  “An existential crisis for one of the world’s largest companies?”  Dude, it’s an existential crisis for the Gulf of Mexico, its inhabitants, and its wild life if not the oceans generally and the planet.  You think I or anybody else gives a rat’s ass whether BP fails?

If you know how to stop the leak, it’s really time to stop it.  This sitting and watching as BP diddles and tries to harmonize stopping the leak with preserving its investment in the well is going to kill the Gulf, if it hasn’t done so already.  33 days is more than enough time to stop the leak.

The federal response, described in your brilliant statements today, is what I call feckless.  And that’s the nicest term I can find to describe it.  This is a disgrace.  The only thing we’re lacking at the moment is the icing.  That would be Obama telling Ken Salazar what a great job he’s doing.  I wish I didn’t think that was next up.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles and dailyKos

Join My Spontaneous BP Boycott: How To

As you can see, I’ve gotten tired of just typing and complaining about this. That just didn’t seem to be enough, especially because BP is now collecting oil from the spill that it can sell, their stock is still traded, they’re still doing business. No, I wanted to do something else. So here’s an invitation to join me in creating a leaderless, spontaneous national boycott of BP.

Well, it isn’t exactly Alice’s Restaurant.  Yet.  But who knows what this can lead to.

Please join me.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles and docuDharma

Free The Tigers! Spare The Tigers!


Captive Tigers in China Waiting For Slaughter

A few days ago I was worried that tigers might be becoming extinct, so I wrote an essay about it.  The idea that tigers were becoming extinct was making me ill: it brought on feelings of anger, sadness, despair, grief, longing.  I found myself thinking about it.  Constantly.  

Peru: The Devastation Continues, The US Traditional Media Ignore It

peru floodDevastation in Peru continues.  Today’s La Republica reports the bad news:

Intense Rains Leave More than 100,000 Affected

The prolonged rainfall that fell on the southeastern Andes Sunday night left over 100 thousand people affected, with particular intensity in the Cusco region, regional authorities reported.

The regional president of Cusco, Hugo Gonzales, told the AP that on Sunday the rains had left “more than 60 thousand people affected, seven thousand homes destroyed, 17 thousand hectares of crops affected and so far 14 bridges that may collapse from being in poor condition.

Gonzales said that “losses translate into almost $ 250 million dollars and that tourism, the largest employer in the region is losing almost a million dollars a day, which is aggravated by the isolation of Machu Picchu from tourists.

(translation by me)

The report from Puno, to the Southeast, is particularly disturbing:

the rains left “more than 22 thousand farmers affected, 23 million acres of crops worthless, and 25 thousand dead cattle including llamas and vicunas.”

But if you’re not going to read Peruvian newspapers on line, you won’t know much about this disaster.  If you’re in the US, just try a Google news search for “Peru floods” and see what it turns up.  Right now the top story is from Brunei.  And that’s one of the very few entries from today.  The rest concern rescuing tourists at the end of last week, some first person tourist stories about being rescued, and the thinnest of reports from Saturday and Sunday.

Long story short, the traditional US media just aren’t reporting about this disaster.  And they are apparently not going to.  That makes it harder to get contributions and other aid from the US for Peru’s relief.  And it also continues the extremely distorted way the US traditional media cover events in this hemisphere.

If we want to end this embargo on news, if we want others in the US to know what’s going on in Peru, the only thing I can think of is writing essays like this one and this one and this one.  And if you, dear reader, would consider doing the same, writing an essay, we might be able eventually to overcome the enforced silence and bring US attention to the devastation in Peru.  And to other events in this hemisphere.

Finally, I urge readers to make donations to Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles and daily Kos and Wild Wild Left

Google Earth & Maps: Haiti Devastation

This is going to be short but might be helpful to some for a wide variety of reasons.

Google has teamed up with GeoEye to bring updated aerial views of the devastation from the Haiti Earthquake.

Google Earth Reveals the Devastation in Haiti    

Haiti: US Kakistocracy In The Caribbean

Please donate to Haiti Relief through Doctors Without Borders

This essay was first printed in The Dream Antilles on March 23, 2008.  I’m republishing it here, because it might help in putting the horrific events in Haiti in perspective.

This morning’s NY Times has an extremely strange story about Haiti.  The premise is that things are now so bad in Haiti, that some Haitians wish they still had Papa Doc or Baby Doc Duvalier back as their military despot:

But Victor Planess, who works at the National Cemetery here, has a soft spot for Mr. Duvalier, the man known as Papa Doc. Standing graveside the other day, Mr. Planess reminisced about what he considered the good old days of Mr. Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, who together ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1986.

“I’d rather have Papa Doc here than all those guys,” Mr. Planess said, gesturing toward the presidential palace down the street. “I would have had a better life if they were still around.”

Mr. Planess, 53, who complains that hunger has become so much a part of his life that his stomach does not even growl anymore, is not alone in his nostalgia for Haiti’s dictatorial past. Other Haitians speak longingly of the security that existed then as well as the lack of garbage in the streets, the lower food prices and the scholarships for overseas study.

Haiti may have made significant strides since President René Préval, elected in 2006, became the latest leader to pass through the revolving door of Haitian politics. But the changes he has pushed have been incremental, not fast enough for many down-and-out Haitians.

The article is worth reading in its entirety, primarily because of its conceit that Haiti, seething on one end of the island of Hispaniola in the midst of the US sphere of influence in the Caribbean, has developed its present dystopia all by its lonesome self, without any assistance worth mentioning from its gigantic hemispheric neighbor, the United States.