Monday, June 28, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
First Louisiana, then Alabama, Florida, now Mississippi. Who's next? Georgia? South Carolina? Will it never end?
Mississippi’s lucky streak appears to have ended, with oil from the BP disaster washing into the Mississippi Sound and likely to make landfall on mainland beaches within the next few days, said Trudy Fisher, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Oh, but much worse for whales and anything else that lives in/off of the sea, I can assure you. We're all that really matters though.
Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth's oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood.
A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said.
The researchers found mercury as high as 16 parts per million in the whales. Fish high in mercury such as shark and swordfish — the types health experts warn children and pregnant women to avoid — typically have levels of about 1 part per million.
The whales studied averaged 2.4 parts of mercury per million, but the report's authors said their internal organs probably had much higher levels than the skin samples contained.
"The entire ocean life is just loaded with a series of contaminants, most of which have been released by human beings," Payne said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting.
Payne said sperm whales, which occupy the top of the food chain, absorb the contaminants and pass them on to the next generation when a female nurses her calf. "What she's actually doing is dumping her lifetime accumulation of that fat-soluble stuff into her baby," he said, and each generation passes on more to the next.
"You could make a fairly tight argument to say that it is the single greatest health threat that has ever faced the human species. I suspect this will shorten lives, if it turns out that this is what's going on," he said.
The consequences of the metals could be horrific for both whale and man, he said.
"I don't see any future for whale species except extinction," Payne said. "This is not on anybody's radar, no government's radar anywhere, and I think it should be."
Cause no government cares. Those of Japan, Norway and Iceland are trying to empty the oceans of whales and there are lots of other piece of shit governments lining up behind them, awaiting the chance to engage in "scientific" whaling or whatever they try to call it. Filthy murder pirates. Fuck them all.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
And COMPLAINING about it. Well doesn't that figure? I bet a lot of us would like to get free oil like they are! Ingrates.
In Florida, thick pools of oil washed up along miles of national park and Pensacola Beach shoreline as health advisories against swimming and fishing in the once-pristine waters were extended for 33 miles east from the Alabama/Florida border.
"It's pretty ugly, there's no question about it," Gov. Charlie Crist said.
The oil had a chemical stench as it baked in the afternoon heat. The beach looked as if it had been paved with a 6-foot-wide ribbon of asphalt, much different from the tar balls that washed up two weeks earlier.
"This used to be a place where you could come and forget about all your cares in the world," said Nancy Berry, who fought back tears as she watched her two grandsons play in the sand far from the shore.
Disgusting. Not only are they getting (a very important) something for nothing, but they are acting outraged by it. Everyone knows it's really just an act they're putting on to mock the rest of us.
Alright! We have now finally returned to blowing out several million gallons of crude oil a day!
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says an underwater robot bumped into the venting system. That sent gas rising through vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming in the cap.
Allen says the cap has been removed and crews are checking to see if crystals have formed before putting it back on. In the meantime, a different system is still burning oil on the surface.
Before the problem with the containment cap, it had collected about 700,000 gallons of oil in the previous 24 hours. Another 438,000 gallons was burned.
The current worst-case estimate of what's spewing into the Gulf is about 2.5 million gallons a day.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Israel, in its never-ending quest to improve Palestine (showing us all how to truly leave things better than you found them, just like signs at campgrounds tell you), is treating the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to an Israeli tourist center:
A Jerusalem planning body on Monday approved a plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem to make room for an Israeli tourist center, a decision that could raise tensions in the divided city and deepen the conflict with the Obama administration...The plan calls for the construction of shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community center on the site where some say the biblical King David wrote his psalms. The 22 displaced families would be allowed to build homes elsewhere in the neighborhood, though it is not clear who would pay for them...
Barkat says the plan gives a much-needed facelift to Jerusalem's decaying al-Bustan neighborhood, which Israel calls Gan Hamelech, or the King's Garden.
The contested site is a section of a larger neighborhood called Silwan, which is home to some 50,000 Palestinians and 70 Jewish families. Demolitions elsewhere in Silwan have made the neighborhood a hub of tension between Palestinians and Jews.
Israel, generous as ever, is giving Palestinians a direly necessary community center at which they will not be welcome, in a section of the city that is barely occupied by Israeli Jews. That's a lot of spending.
This makes those stupid Palestinians who say they are oppressed or live under apartheid or whatever look dumber than ever.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Yes, now the federal government says that BP's hole in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is blowing out up to 2.52 million (2,520,000) gallons of oil per day. That is now sixty thousand (60,000) barrels, compared to the initial figure of one thousand (1,000) barrels.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
How fun. A perfect illustration of capitalism, rendering the abstract in high relief:
As the black tide of BP crude oil moves toward the Florida Panhandle, thousands of fishermen are trying to salvage a way of life. BP's lifeline: Vessels of Opportunity, a program designed to hire the fallow charter and commercial fishing boats to clean up the very mess that has caused untold numbers to lose their livelihood. But a Daily Beast investigation reveals that this much-touted program is far more effective as a PR stunt than a financial savior. Specifically, a large number of the 1,900 contracts BP has issued across the Gulf have gone to the owners of pleasure boats: doctors, lawyers, and the like, who use their vessels for Saturday fishing trips or family outings, rather than the decimated commercial fishermen.
"We have these weekend warriors taking away jobs from those who fish for a living," says Biloxi boat captain Tom Becker, an officer of the National Association of the Charterboat Operators, who estimates that as much as 90 percent of the BP contracts in his Mississippi harbor had gone to pleasure boats. "Every day I see the boat trailers fill the parking lot as the pleasure boats get their assignments for day while the commercial fleet sits idle. This is like stealing. These jokers are taking money away from those who are trying to feed their families."As I sit among one of the largest charter boat fleets on the Gulf Coast, in Destin, Florida, Scott Robson, president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, echoes the same message. "Vessels of Opportunity is a fiasco," he says. "We have nearly 100 charter boats in Destin, only 13 boats are on contract. The rest are pleasure boats—people being paid for their boats who don't make their livings on the water..."Real money is at stake: Vessels of Opportunity pays the boat captains $1,200 to $3,000 per day depending on the size of the vessel—their deckhands are paid $200 each per day while they are under contract.
"We've got guys trying to make payments on their boats, tackle, and dock spaces who could use the $2,000 a day BP is paying," says Robson. "Instead, it's going to these private boats."
This shit, to me, is such a sadly wonderful example of what capitalism really is. People who already have money will do anything to get more and don't give a FUCK about anyone else. More more more. Stockpile that money just so you can look at your balance sheet and jerk off.
Best part - BP is fully aware of it. But, they don't care. That's how the rich do. The rich help the rich, and fuck everyone else. And people say there's no class solidarity these days:
So what's going on? BP spokesman Graham MacEwen acknowledges the complaints, and says that changes have been made to the program to favor fishermen over weekend warriors.
But my sources say their interactions with BP haven't been so amicable. "When I tried to point this out at the meetings, BP shut me up," says Zales. "In my mind, one pleasure boat is too many."
"We've suggested an easy fix to this problem," adds Becker. "There are several federal and state databases available that identify who the licenses commercial fishing and charter boats are."
In Pensacola, emotions are running high as bank accounts are drained. One wife of a charter boat captain, with two boats carrying a mortgage of $500,000, describes how BP hired a boat owned by a chiropractor, with purple and yellow flames on its hull. "They have activated freaking ski boats," she cries, "while my husband, who has been in the charter business for two decades, sits idle."
Fuck these rich assholes. They should all be barred from the goddamn water. Some lawyer scumfuck does not need another three grand. Don't care what the situation is. You need money that bad? Sell your fucking boat. Best case scenario - guerilla war on the seas where these money-loving pieces of shit get thrown into the water, to watch their boats burn while they drown.
Seems some people in Britain are unhappy with Americans' public views of BP. Aww.
“When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP, it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the airwaves,” Mr. [Boris] Johnson [the Conservative mayor of London] told BBC radio’s Today program.
Prime Minister David Cameron refused to criticize the United States, however, saying he sympathized with its “frustration” in dealing with its worst environmental disaster in memory. But the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, signaled careful support for BP, saying that he had spoken to its chief executive, Tony Hayward, and that it was important to remember “the economic value BP brings to people in Britain and America.”
BP is the third largest oil company in the world, after ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, with 80,000 employees worldwide as of last December, sales of $239 billion in 2009 and a market value — even after the recent losses — of more than $100 billion. At a time when Britain is desperate to reduce its deficit, BP is a huge contributor to British tax revenue, paying nearly $1.4 billion in taxes on its profits last year.
Its reputation for reliability and its generous dividends have long made it a favorite of British pension funds. The company’s dividend payments accounted for about 13 percent of the dividends handed out by British companies last year, according to FairPensions, a London-based charity.
The message - BP can do whatever it wants, just don't do anything in response that might hurt anyone else financially. It's like having a crackhouse in your neighborhood and everyone agreeing that is indeed thoroughly a detriment, but hey, don't get rid of it, cause it keeps up foot traffic for the corner store.
This reminds me of people saying how you shouldn't boycott BP stations because the ballyhooed small businessman will get hurt, not BP. That's unfortunate, but the reality of the situation is that when you deal with the devil, you should expect some negative consequences. It's that same mentality - coercing people to still buy from BP.
Here's some "vicious" criticism from some bank fuck:
Iain Armstrong, an analyst at Brewin Dolphin, an investment manager here [in the UK], said that the situation had become “overpoliticized” and had confused the markets about BP’s actual strength.
“It’s gotten completely out of hand,” he said. “Ironically, by being extremely strong financially, BP has become a target.”
Well, no, it's more that they have a big pipe on the ocean floor that is shitting oil and gas into the water at the rate of well over one million gallons per day since April 20th (4/20 bro). It is now June 12th. Long time, yeah? And you see, even though it is a big body of water, like CEO Tony Hayward has said, it's a whole lot of oil. It really is. And the problem with all that is that oil and water still don't mix. I don't know why, I guess oil is stubborn, or maybe water is racist. Then you wind up killing lots of birds, dolphins, fish (I wish Phish as well) and many smaller organisms (though not walruses, seals or sea lions) that are essential for the ocean to function as a source of life, not to mention all those jobs you wipe out. You could put those people to work cleaning up your big mess, but you generally don't, you give those jobs to rich people instead. To conclude, Iain Armstrong has no fucking point. At all.
Finally, we see the most ostentatious and offensive manifestation of this attitude, casting BP as the victim:
Writing on his Web site, a Conservative peer, Lord Tebbit, called the American response “a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan, political, presidential petulance against a multinational company.”
Yes, Americans are crude, bigoted, xenophobic and partisan, not to mention racist, homophobic, sexist, rude, hostile, selfish and destructive, but they are mostly not political. Poor multinational company with $100 billion value with a $17 billion profit last year. Stop kicking it around, America! It's from another country, so you have to accept it, no matter what! Otherwise you are an asshole! You can't criticize!! Fuck, this sounds like Zionism. Financial Zionism. Capitalist Zionism.
Friday, June 11, 2010
From the EPA's site on the BP disaster:
Are any human health effects expected as a result of using the dispersants?
People working with dispersants are strongly advised to use a half face filter mask or an air-supplied breathing apparatus to protect their noses, throats, and lungs, and they should wear nitrile or PVC gloves, coveralls, boots, and chemical splash goggles to keep dispersants off skin and out of their eyes. CDC provides more information on reducing occupational exposures while working with dispersants during the Gulf Oil Spill Response.
What effects could the use of dispersants have on marine life?
It’s important to understand that the use of dispersants is an environmental trade-off. We know dispersants are generally less toxic than the oils they breakdown. We know that surface use of dispersants decreases the environmental risks to shorelines and organisms at the surface and when used this way, dispersants breakdown over several days. However the long term effects on aquatic life are unknown, which is why EPA and the Coast Guard are requiring BP to implement a robust sampling and monitoring plan.
How will we know the future and total effects on marine life of dispersant use?
It is too early in the process to know what the scope of the natural resource damage will be. Look to federal partners such as NOAA and DOI for information on impacts to fish, shellfish, marine mammals, turtles, birds and other sensitive resources as well as their habitats, including wetlands, beaches, mudflats, bottom sediments, corals and the water column.
Apart from marine life, has the Unified Command been able to make an assessment on the effects of the dispersant on the environment?
The harm or toxicity of dispersed oil in the environment is generally associated with the oil rather than with the dispersant alone. However, use of dispersants breaks up a slick of oil on the surface into smaller droplets that can go beneath the surface. When applied on the surface before spills reach the coastline, dispersants will potentially decrease exposure for surface-dwelling organisms (such as sea birds) and intertidal species (such as mangroves and salt marshes), while increasing exposure to a smaller population of aquatic life found deeper in the water. It is unknown if dispersed oil has toxic implications to the human population because bioaccumulation through the food chain has not been evaluated.
All that stuff about "not been evaluated" and "too early in the process to know" is coded language for "we're fucked but don't want to tell you."
Finally, the agency states very clearly that there are plumes of oil beneath the surface and tells the reader exactly why:
How do dispersants work on the water's surface?
Oil spill dispersants are chemicals applied directly to the spilled oil in order to break it into small droplets that fall below the surface. Dispersants are usually applied to the oil slick with specialized equipment mounted on an airplane, helicopter or ship. Once applied, dispersants help break up oil into tiny micron-sized droplets which mix into the upper layer of the ocean. Dispersed oil forms a "plume" or "cloud" of oil droplets just below the water surface. The dispersed oil mixes vertically and horizontally into the water column and is rapidly diluted. Bacteria and other microscopic organisms are then able to act more quickly than they otherwise would to degrade the oil within the droplets.
These few paragraphs are a great read, as they directly contradict so much of what BP has been saying and show them to be the liars that they are.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Those banks and realtors have kept shifting their games to easily outmaneuver fair housing laws, making sure that housing in this country is still largely segregated and black people pay much higher prices to buy homes or rent apartments. And they've managed to do this while removing all explicit references to segregation (redlining), blockbusting and price gouging (high-interest/risk mortgages) from their rules, regulations and written guidelines for doing business. Memphis seems to be getting it about the worst right now. It's an old story, but it looks a little different these days, with black people actually having had some real money over the last couple of decades and being able to buy houses and keep them. The recession hurricane is taking care of that though:
For two decades, Tyrone Banks was one of many African-Americans who saw his economic prospects brightening in this Mississippi River city.
A single father, he worked for FedEx and also as a custodian, built a handsome brick home, had a retirement account and put his eldest daughter through college.
Then the Great Recession rolled in like a fog bank. He refinanced his mortgage at a rate that adjusted sharply upward, and afterward he lost one of his jobs. Now Mr. Banks faces bankruptcy and foreclosure.“I’m going to tell you the deal, plain-spoken: I’m a black man from the projects and I clean toilets and mop up for a living,” said Mr. Banks, a trim man who looks at least a decade younger than his 50 years. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. But my whole life is backfiring.”
The median income of black homeowners in Memphis rose steadily until five or six years ago. Now it has receded to a level below that of 1990 — and roughly half that of white Memphis homeowners...
Black middle-class neighborhoods are hollowed out, with prices plummeting and homes standing vacant in places like Orange Mound, Whitehaven and Cordova. As job losses mount — black unemployment here, mirroring national trends, has risen to 16.9 percent from 9 percent two years ago; it stands at 5.3 percent for whites — many blacks speak of draining savings and retirement accounts in an effort to hold onto their homes. The overall local foreclosure rate is roughly twice the national average.
For every dollar of wealth owned by a white family, a black or Latino family owns just 16 cents, according to a recent Federal Reserve study...As of December 2009, median white wealth dipped 34 percent, to $94,600; median black wealth dropped 77 percent, to $2,100. So the chasm widens, and Memphis is left to deal with the consequences.
The mayor and former bank loan officers point a finger of blame at large national banks — in particular, Wells Fargo. During the last decade, they say, these banks singled out blacks in Memphis to sell them risky high-cost mortgages and consumer loans.
The City of Memphis and Shelby County sued Wells Fargo late last year, asserting that the bank’s foreclosure rate in predominantly black neighborhoods was nearly seven times that of the foreclosure rate in predominantly white neighborhoods. Other banks, including Citibank and Countrywide, foreclosed in more equal measure...
Camille Thomas, a 40-year-old African-American, loved working for Wells Fargo. “I felt like I could help people,” she recalled over coffee.
As the subprime market heated up, she said, the bank pressure to move more loans — for autos, for furniture, for houses — edged into mania. “It was all about selling your units and getting your bonus,” she said.
Ms. Thomas and three other Wells Fargo employees have given affidavits for the city’s lawsuit against the bank, and their statements about bank practices reinforce one another.
“Your manager would say, ‘Let me see your cold-call list. I want you to concentrate on these ZIP codes,’ and you knew those were African-American neighborhoods,” she recalled. “We were told, ‘Oh, they aren’t so savvy.’ ”
She described tricks of the trade, several of dubious legality. She said supervisors had told employees to white out incomes on loan applications and substitute higher numbers. Agents went “fishing” for customers, mailing live checks to leads. When a homeowner deposited the check, it became a high-interest loan, with a rate of 20 to 29 percent. Then bank agents tried to talk the customer into refinancing, using the house as collateral.
Yes yes, dirty banks playing dirty, complex tricks on people. Also an old story. Such is capitalism, social Darwinism at its best:
Former employees say Wells Fargo loan officers marketed the most expensive loans to black applicants, even when they should have qualified for prime loans. This practice is known as reverse redlining.
Webb A. Brewer, a Memphis lawyer, recalls poring through piles of loan papers and coming across name after name of blacks with subprime mortgages. “This is money out of their pockets lining the purses of the banks,” he said.
For a $150,000 mortgage, a difference of three percentage points — the typical spread between a conventional and subprime loan — tacks on $90,000 in interest payments over its 30-year life.
That's a lot of money. Banks love money, or more accurately, the people who run them do. They also seem to love white people:
A study by the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project and six nonprofit groups found that the nation’s four largest banks, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, had cut their prime mortgage refinancing 33 percent in predominantly minority communities, even as prime refinancing in white neighborhoods rose 32 percent from 2006 to 2008.
Sure, some black people bought big houses that they could obviously not afford because they were being greedy and materialistic and the bank would give them a loan, just like a bunch of Americans did, especially over the last decade or so. I don't believe that to be the case in much of what's going on in Memphis, or anywhere else across the country. Looking at Wells Fargo's foreclosure rates in Memphis' black neighborhoods (again, seven times higher than white neighborhoods), it's just not possible to say that black people made those kinds of really bad purchases at seven times the rate of white Memphis residents, and only with one bank.
It's easy to blame people for taking on these loans that they ultimately couldn't afford. Even if we put aside the charges of banks altering applications without applicants' knowledge and refusing to disclose all details of a loan, the fact of the matter is that many black people in this country, historically, have not had and still do not have substantial choice of where to live. Their choices are deeply circumscribed by banks and realtors, who literally determine, to a great extent, the ethnic makeup of neighborhoods. Black people were and are denied mortgages in many parts of town, or entire towns, and common racial hostility takes care of the rest.
For the greater part of the last century, racial discrimination crippled black efforts to buy homes and accumulate wealth. During the post-World War II boom years, banks and real estate agents steered blacks to segregated neighborhoods, where home appreciation lagged far behind that of white neighborhoods.
Blacks only recently began to close the home ownership gap with whites, and thus accumulate wealth — progress that now is being erased. In practical terms, this means black families have less money to pay for college tuition, invest in businesses or sustain them through hard times.
“We’re wiping out whatever wealth blacks have accumulated — it assures racial economic inequality for the next generation,” said Thomas M. Shapiro, director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University.
What it really comes down to is that, for many black people, if you want to own a home, a high-interest/risk mortgage is basically your only option:
“The more segregated a community of color is, the more likely it is that homeowners will face foreclosure because the lenders who peddled the most toxic loans targeted those communities,” Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, told a Congressional committee.
Imagine there being only certain places you could realistically live, regardless of how much money you have? It's an unstated apartheid, and it's entirely a product of banking, realty and federal policy. This stuff is all laid out very well in a whole host of books, such as When Affirmative Action Was White, American Apartheid, Family Properties, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, and American Babylon, among many.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I make my way to the back of the boat unaware of just how covered I am. To be honest, I look a little like one of those poor pelicans we've all been seeing for days now. The oil is so thick and sticky, almost like a cake batter. It does not wipe off. You have to scrape it off, in layers until you finally get close to the skin. Then you pour on some Dawn dishwashing soap and scrub. I think to myself: No fish, no bird, no turtle would ever be able to clean this off of themselves. If any animal, any were to end up in this same puddle there is almost no way they could escape.
The cleaning process goes on for half an hour before the captain will even think about letting me back in the boat. I'm clean, so I stand up. But the bottoms of my feet still had oil, and I fall back in the water. The process starts again. Another 30 minutes of cleaning and finally I'm ready to step into the boat.
In a shocking development, BP is still lying about how much oil is shooting out of their hole in ocean floor
BP refuses to provide any estimate aside from that old 210,000 gallons a day bullshit scenario that the government put forth way back when. Why? They say something to the effect of "it does not matter how much oil is coming out. All that matters is that we stop it." Actually, it matters quite a bit how much oil is coming out, and not just for the obvious environmental holocaust reason. They get fined on every barrel (42 gallons) of oil that comes out of that hole, and will likely be charged royalties on each barrel as well. Of course they are not going to help dig that part of their grave:
Some scientists involved in the Flow Rate Technical Group say that they would like to produce a better estimate, but that they are frustrated by what they view as stonewalling on BP’s part, including tardiness in producing high-resolution video that could be subjected to computer analysis, as well as the company’s reluctance to permit a direct measurement of the flow rate. They said the installation of the new device and the rising flow of oil to the surface had only reinforced their conviction that they did not have enough information.
“It’s apparent that BP is playing games with us, presumably under the advice of their legal team,” Dr. Leifer said. “It’s six weeks that it’s been dumping into the gulf, and still no measurements..."
The company, which for several weeks had publicly rejected the idea of using subsea equipment to measure the flow rate, now says it is up to the flow-rate group itself to decide whether to undertake such a step.
[Ira] Leifer [a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara who is also a member of the government's flow-rate panel, tasked with determining the size of the oil spill] said based on the data he's seen so far, the rate of flow from the broken well has increase since the initial April 20 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers. He believes BP's decision last week to sever the well's damaged riser pipe in order to install the containment cap has increased the flow by far more than the 20 percent BP and government officials had predicted.
In fact, Leifer says, the well may be spewing what BP had called before the spill its worst-case scenario — as much as 100,000 barrels a day from a freely flowing pipe.
He said he's seen no evidence from BP to date that would be inconsistent from that dire scenario.
Judging by live undersea videos, "it looks like a freely flowing pipe," Leifer said. "From what it looks like right now it suggests to me they’re capturing a negligible fraction."
It's unclear how much oil is still escaping because scientists don't have access to enough data and the video feeds show a "disorganized cloud" of oil shooting out of open vents in the containment cap and between the riser and the cap, Wereley said.
"It’s very difficult to judge flow rates from these multiple sources," he said. "My position is that the claims (of capturing the 'vast majority' of oil) cannot be made because the flow is too complicated."
100,000 barrels is four million, two hundred thousand. 4,200,000. People have been estimating this number all along, but the government has been blowing them off, and the newspapers have all been reporting the pathetically low number of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels, which is shit.
Today is day 51 of this. Anywhere from 51,000,000 to 200,000,000 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic death dispersants.
Not making a very good case for self-defense on the part of Israeli commandos, even if you discard the fact that the Israelis boarded a cargo ship by force in international waters:
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.
The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
Hard to shoot someone in the face and the back at the same time. They were either running or coming, and then you caught them again either on the floor, running or falling.
Read on about the Israeli bravery:
The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain today, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a "shoot to kill policy".
He calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just two feet in front him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.
The Israelis seemed to have unveiled a new weapon in this assault:
Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, said that in only one case was there a single bullet wound, to the forehead from a distant shot, while every other victim suffered multiple wounds. "All [the bullets] were intact. This is important in a forensic context. When a bullet strikes another place it comes into the body deformed. If it directly comes into the body, the bullet is all intact."
He added that all but one of the bullets retrieved from the bodies came from 9mm rounds. Of the other round, he said: "It was the first time we have seen this kind of material used in firearms. It was just a container including many types of pellets usually used in shotguns. It penetrated the head region in the temple and we found it intact in the brain."
They are firing entire shotgun shells now. Wow. Shotgun shells are big.
Israeli pig speaks:
An unnamed Israeli commando, who purportedly led the raid on the Mavi Marmara, today told Israeli news website Ynet News that he shot at a protester who approached him with a knife. "I was in front of a number of people with knives and clubs," he said. "I cocked my weapon when I saw that one was coming towards me with a knife drawn and I fired once. Then another 20 people came at me from all directions and threw me down to the deck below …
"We knew they were peace activists. Though they wanted to break the Gaza blockade, we thought we'd encounter passive resistance, perhaps verbal resistance – we didn't expect this. Everyone wanted to kill us. We encountered terrorists who wanted to kill us and we did everything we could to prevent unnecessary injury."
Everyone is a terrorist these days. It seems very difficult to terrorize the military. Especially when you have pipes and maybe knives and they have helicopters, guns and extensive training. And when they are the ones boarding your ship illegally. Interesting perspective.
Monday, June 7, 2010
It's all part of that tired old story where money and the unrestrained pursuit of it trumps whatever logic, caution and concern may be present. I will give you the absolute best part of this post first:
The rig’s [Deepwater Horizon, the one that was pumping oil out of that hole in the ocean and then blew up] “spill response plan,” provided to The Times, includes a Web link for a contractor that goes to an Asian shopping Web site and also mentions the importance of protecting walruses, seals and sea lions, none of which inhabit the area of drilling. The agency [Minerals Management Service] approved the plan.
Deepwater oil production in the gulf, which started in 1979 but expanded much faster in the mid-1990s with new technology and federal incentives, is governed as much by exceptions to rules as by the rules themselves.
Under a process called “alternative compliance,” much of the technology used on deepwater rigs has been approved piecemeal, with regulators cooperating with industry groups to make small adjustments to guidelines that were drawn up decades ago for shallow-water drilling...
“The pace of technology has definitely outrun the regulations,” Lt. Cmdr. Michael Odom of the Coast Guard, who inspects the rigs, said last month at a hearing.
As a result, deepwater rigs operate under an ad hoc system of exceptions. The deeper the water, the further the exceptions stretch, not just from federal guidelines but also often from company policy.
So, for example, when BP officials first set their sights on extracting the oily riches under what is known as Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico, they asked for and received permission from federal regulators to exempt the drilling project from federal law that requires a rigorous type of environmental review, internal documents and federal records indicate...
As BP engineers planned to set certain pipes and casings for lining the well in place in the ocean floor, they had to get permission from company managers to use riskier equipment because that equipment deviated from the company’s own design and safety policies, according to internal BP documents obtained by The New York Times...
Its [the Mineral Management Service] safety inspections usually consist of helicopter visits to offshore rigs to sift through company reports of self-administered tests.
Even Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, who oversees the minerals agency, has said that oil companies have a history of “running the show” at the agency, a problem he has vowed to correct...
On the Deepwater Horizon, for example, the minerals agency approved a drilling plan for BP that cited the “worst case” for a blowout as one that might produce 250,000 barrels of oil per day, federal records show. But the agency did not require the rig to create a response plan for such a situation.
If a blowout were to occur, BP said in its plan, the first choice would be to use a containment dome to capture the leaking oil. But regulators did not require that a containment dome be kept on the rig to speed the response to a spill. After the rig explosion, BP took two weeks to build one on shore and three days to ship it out to sea before it was lowered over the gushing pipe on May 7. It did not work...
More broadly, regulators have not required technology and strategies for dealing with deepwater spills to be improved.
Engineers trying to control the blowout are using the same tactics they used in 1979 when the Ixtoc I well blew up in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico. In the earlier blowout, they first tried lowering a containment dome over the leak. When that failed, they unsuccessfully tried to inject golf balls and other material in a move called a junk shot, which was also tried and abandoned for the Deepwater Horizon...
Questions of oversight also came up in the New Orleans hearings last month. For example, Michael J. Saucier, an official with the Minerals Management Service, said that his agency “highly encouraged” — but did not require — companies to have backup systems to trigger blowout preventers in case of an emergency.
“Highly encourage?” Captain Nguyen of the Coast Guard asked. “How does that translate to enforcement?”
“There is no enforcement,” Mr. Saucier answered...
As early as June 2009, BP engineers had expressed concerns in internal documents about using certain casings for the well because they violated the company’s safety and design guidelines. But they proceeded with those casings...
More than five weeks before disaster, the rig was hit by several sudden pulsations of gas called “kicks” and a pipe had become stuck in the well. The blowout preventer, designed to seal the well in an emergency, had been discovered to be leaking fluids at least three times.
Dealing with these problems required teamwork, a challenge to the throng of different companies with responsibilities on the rig. Of the 126 people present on the day of the explosion, only eight were employees of BP. The interests of the workers did not always align.
In testimony to government investigators, rig workers repeatedly described a “natural conflict” between BP, which can make more money by completing drilling jobs quickly, and Transocean, which receives a leasing fee from BP every day that it continues drilling.
Halliburton was also on hand to provide cementing services, while a subsidiary monitored various drilling fluids. A different company provided drilling fluid systems, another provided technicians to operate the remote-control vehicles that are they eyes of the rig crew deep underwater, and yet another provided the well casing.
Amid this tangle of overlapping authority and competing interests, no one was solely responsible for ensuring the rig’s safety, and communication was a constant challenge...
BP had fallen behind schedule and over budget, paying roughly $500,000 a day to lease the rig from Transocean. The rig was 43 days late for starting a new drilling job for BP by the day of the explosion, a delay that had already cost the company more than $21 million.
With the clock ticking, bad decisions went unchecked, warning signs went unheeded and small lapses compounded.
On April 1, a job log written by a Halliburton employee, Marvin Volek, warns that BP’s use of cement “was against our best practices.”
An April 18 internal Halliburton memorandum indicates that Halliburton again warned BP about its practices, this time saying that a “severe” gas flow problem would occur if the casings were not centered more carefully.
Around that same time, a BP document shows, company officials chose a type of casing with a greater risk of collapsing.
Despite noticing cementing problems, BP skipped a quality test of the cement around the pipe. Federal regulators also gave the rig a pass at several critical moments. After the rig encountered several problems, including the gas kicks and the pipe stuck in the well, the regulators did not demand a halt to the operation. Instead, they gave permission for a delay in a safety test of the blowout preventer.
About 10 hours before the explosion, the challenges of trying to keep the pressure in the well under control led to an argument among the workers about how best to finish the well and move the rig to the next site.
Douglas Brown, a Transocean mechanic on the rig, told investigators that an unnamed BP official whom he called “the company man” had instructed rig workers to execute a new plan for removing the riser and sealing the well. Mr. Brown testified that workers thought the plan was too risky. But he could not hear details of the argument that ensued.
“The company man was basically saying, ‘Well, this is how it’s going to be,’ ” Mr. Brown told investigators at a hearing on May 26 near New Orleans, adding that the Transocean rig workers “reluctantly agreed.”
But the partnership between BP and the government has strained along with the failure of efforts to plug the well. Mr. Salazar, for example, assured the public on May 2 that the administration was keeping its “boot on the neck” of BP. Next he was being publicly chastised by President Obama for using antagonistic language.
"Suddenly from everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully equipped commandos came up on the boat," said Greek activist Dimitris Gielalis, who had been aboard the Sfendoni. He was among six Greeks returned home Tuesday.
"They came up and used plastic bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think of, they used," he said.
He said the boat's captain was beaten for refusing to leave the wheel, and had sustained non-life-threatening injuries, while a cameraman filming the raid was hit with a rifle butt in the eye, he said.
"Of course we weren't prepared for a situation of war.," he added.
The returning Greeks said those still in custody were refusing to sign papers demanded by Israeli authorities.
"During their interrogation, many of them were badly beaten in front of us," said Aris Papadokostopoulos, who was aboard the Free Mediterranean traveling behind the Turkish ship and carrying mainly Greek and Swedish activists.
A fitting retribution for bring wheelchairs and medicine to deeply impoverished people. This is typical for Israel. They love overpowering people and intimidating the helpless. Read on:
Activists returning to Europe said that the commandos had beaten passengers and used electric shocks during the clashes.
Six Greeks and several others, including a Turkish woman and her 1-year-old baby, were released Tuesday.
Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin, who had hidden with her baby in her cabin's bathroom aboard the Mavi Marmara, told reporters she believed there were 11 dead.
”The ship turned into a lake of blood," Cetin told reporters in Istanbul, having returned after Israeli officials warned that jail would be too harsh for her child.
"We were aware of the possible danger in joining the trip," she said. "But there are thousands of babies in Gaza. If we had reached Gaza we would have played with them and taken them food."
She said Israeli vessels harassed the flotilla for two hours starting around 10 p.m. Sunday, and returned at around 4 a.m. Monday, fired warning shots and told the ships to turn back.
When the Mavi Marmara continued on its course the harassment turned into an attack.
"They used smoke bombs followed by gas canisters. They started to descend onto the ship with helicopters," she said, calling the clashes that then erupted "extremely bad and brutal."
"I was one of the first victims to be released because I had a child," she told reporters, "but they confiscated everything, our telephones, laptops are all gone."
Her husband - the ship's engineer - was still being held by Israeli authorities.
Some 400 Turkish activists were on the six-ship flotilla, along with more than 30 Greeks and people of some 20 other nations including Germany, the U.S. and Russia.
Also typical is that Israel cut all communications aboard the ship, and then kept all seven hundred incommunicado while they were detained:
An Al-Jazeera journalist delivering a report before Israel cut communications said Israel fired at the vessel before boarding it. In one web posting, a Turkish television reporter on the boat cried out, "These savages are killing people here, please help" — a broadcast that ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, "Everybody shut up!"
Al-Jazeera said that eight staff members were detained while covering the story, and asked for the Israeli government to release them immediately...
Of the hundreds of activists who were detained aboard the ships after they were escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod, 15 were sent to Beer Sheva Prison, according to a spokesman for the Israeli prison authority. Another 25 were slated for deportation and 50 others who refused to identify themselves were being held separately.
Then Israel went on to propagate a bunch of bullshit about how they, the Israeli military, were set up, victims of an ambush. This is amazing. They allege that somehow, through deliberately placing themselves on the deck of a ship, in international waters, armed with guns and authorized to kill, they were the victims in this situation:
Israel's prime minister claimed Sunday that the Turkish activists who battled Israeli naval commandos in a deadly clash last week prepared for the fight ahead of time, before boarding the ship in a different city from the rest of the passengers.
Benjamin Netanyahu's charges highlight Israel's frantic efforts to portray the activists as terrorists and counter a wave of harsh international condemnation that has left the Jewish state isolated and at odds with some of its closest allies...
Netanyahu told his Cabinet that "dozens of thugs" from "an extremist, terrorism-supporting" organization had readied themselves for the arrival of the naval commandos.
"This group boarded separately in a different city, organized separately, equipped itself separately and went on deck under different procedures," he said. "The clear intent of this hostile group was to initiate a violent clash with (Israeli) soldiers..."
On Sunday, the Turkish daily Hurriyet showed new pictures taken by unidentified people of wounded Israeli commandos, including some with bloodied faces. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the images seemed to corroborate Israel's version of the events.
"It shows that our boarding party in fact did face deadly violence from the hardcore Islamist activists on the boat ... and that our boarding party was forced to respond," he said. "Had they not, they would have been killed."
Boarding party. Did you get that? BOARDING PARTY? Good one, Mark Regev. When you get tired of lying and killing for a living, you should try writing for Saturday Night Live. They could use someone like you.
The head of the IHH, the Islamic Charity organization that sponsored the Freedom Flotilla, as the six aid ships were called, disagrees with Netanyahu and Regev's assertions:
In Turkey, IHH head Bulent Yildirim said all passengers boarded the ship in the Turkish port of Antalya, and rejected suggestions that those who clashed with the soldiers were trained militants.
"Take a look at who was killed. They had pot bellies. They were old. They were young. Who would believe that they received special training?" he said.
Israel says the IHH is a terrorist organization. Again, even the United States says that they aren't.
Overall, I would say that Israel is taking this well, showing a good amount of contrition for its military escapades:
In a sign of Israeli frustration, some hard-liners produced a music video that parodies the events on the raided ship and has received more than a million hits on YouTube. A group of Israeli men and women portray the activists as Arab and Turkish militants with keffiyehs and mimic their accents. At the end, the mock activists wave clubs and knives in the air.
They sing a song with crude lyrics called "We Conned the World" — set to the tune of "We Are The World."
"We'll make the world abandon reason, we'll make them all believe that the Hamas is Mama Theresa," they sing.
The Israeli government press office relayed a link to the video to foreign correspondents on Friday, then recalled the message and apologized.
Nothing like kicking people who are down. That's Israel's specialty though, and what endears them so closely to many throughout the world.
Further displaying their will to do anything it takes to make themselves the victims in every situation, the Israeli government was forced to admit that it edited the invasion tape to include anti-Semitic rhetoric that wasn't really there:
Israel acknowledged Sunday that it edited recordings of what it said were anti-Semitic and anti-American radio calls by pro-Palestinian activists who tried to run the Gaza blockade and that it could not identify the origin of the broadcasts.
The Israeli military released a 26-second recording Friday night in which a warning call to a ship in the flotilla was met with the reply of "Shut up -- go back to Auschwitz." After another voice reports that the convoy has the permission of Palestinian officials to dock in Gaza, a third voice responds, "We are helping Arabs going against the U.S. Don't forget 9/11, guys."
But after the organizers of the aid convoy accused Israeli officials of manipulating the tapes, the Israel Defense Forces reported it had mistakenly identified one of the six ships in the activists' "Freedom Flotilla" as the source of the broadcasts. And it released a nearly six-minute recording of radio traffic that included those calls and several others, along with bursts of static and calls in other languages on the same channel.
Nice. Nothing like a good lie to drum up support for war. It's a classic technique - Vietnam, Iraq, etc.
I would like to conclude with the fact that Israel has not alleged even once that these ships were carrying weapons, nor anything that Hamas could use as such. Accordingly, despite Israel's best attempts to search the cargo looking for them, all they found were medical supplies and construction materials. Again, this was clearly an entirely just response. What a bunch of fucking monsters.
P.S. The Pixies canceled their first-ever show in Israel because of this. AWESOME. Hooray for people still giving a fuck.
Salt water crocodiles of the Indian/Pacific Oceans routinely ride currents for hundreds of miles, know when to ride them, and can not only figure out when they're going the wrong way, but know how to get out of the current and wait until it switches to the direction they want:
One satellite-tagged crocodile, 12.6-foot-long male (3.8 meters) - left the Kennedy River and travelled 366 miles (590 km) over 25 days, timing its journey to coincide with a seasonal current system that develops in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Another croc - a 15.8-foot-long male (4.8 meters) - traveled more than 255 miles (411 km) in only 20 days through the Torres Straits, which are notorious for strong water currents. When the reptile arrived at the straits, the currents were moving opposite to his direction of travel - he then waited in a sheltered bay for four days and only passed through the straits when the currents switched to favor his journey.
They also don't drill holes in the ocean floor, which makes them even smarter.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Just without hormones. Isn't that nice? Read about how the CEO of Pacific Natural Foods, Chuck Eggert, treats the "organic cows" that he thinks he owns:
Eggert tapped son Charlie to run the complex operations: managing the milking cows and 100-plus calves; seeing to artificial insemination; and feeding herds an organic mix of alfalfa, barley, flax, composted corn silage and minerals. He found himself birthing calves at 2 a.m. -- and collecting and disposing of millions of gallons of waste each year.
Kimbirauskas, with Friends of Family Farmers, says there's a simpler way to reduce manure impacts: Cut herds and get them in pastures. That reduces odor and the volume of waste to be handled.
"There are other organic dairies that aren't putting millions of dollars into waste technology," she says. "They're just putting their cows on grass."
Until now, national organic standards have only required dairies to provide "access to pasture." Some of the Eggerts' neighbors say they've rarely seen cows grazing in the past.
His twin dairy farms near the Willamette River southwest of Wilsonville were intended as an extension of that ethos: organic, cutting-edge operations that would be models of environmentally sustainable and economically successful agriculture.
It has not gone well. Eggert's Mayfield and Rock Ridge dairies have repeatedly mismanaged the manure that 700 milking cows produce, racking up 20 manure-related violations and $35,000 in state fines. A $20,000 fine this month was the largest ever by the state's Confined Animal Feeding Operation program.
"If you just say no dairy should be more than five cows, all you're doing is providing an elitist food system," says Eggert, 61. "Some people might go to the store and pay $10 a gallon for a gallon of organic milk. Most people can't afford that."
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Fucking communists, just taking and taking:
Driftwood and seashells glazed with rust-colored tar lined the surf along the Gulf Coast's once-pristine white sand beaches Saturday, the crude from a busted oil well deep underwater showing up in greater quantities and farther east.
A cap placed over the gusher was collecting only a fraction of the oil, which had stained beaches with a waxy mess of tar balls and created an unusual orange foam in the surf.
In Gulf Shores, Ala., wooden boardwalks leading to beachfront hotels were spotted with oil from beachgoers' feet, and some condominiums were providing solvents for guests smeared with the brown goo. At Pensacola Beach, the retreating high tide left an orange stain in its wake.
Erin Tamber moved to the beach area after surviving Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where she had lived for 30 years.
"I feel like I've gone from owning a piece of paradise to owning a toxic waste dump," she said as she inspected the beach Saturday morning.
I wish I could have the slightest feeling that this is going to be a turning point, where people really push back in a sustained way against destructive capitalism and the government that loves it, but I don't. People don't care. Now that Lost and American Idol and whatever else are going to repeats, I guess people have to find some other distraction. Baseball? I don't know. I'm fairly confident that people's attention, in significant amounts, will not turn to BP and the federal government. I would love for it to, but it's not realistic. Katrina didn't do it; why should this? I guess it's a bit more spread out, but it hasn't killed anyone aside from Deepwater Horizon workers. People just don't care. Too fucking busy with hating immigrants or Muslims or whatever the political distraction issue of the day is.
Anyway, Florida's western beaches are getting fucked and people can't go in the water anymore:
Swimmers at Pensacola Beach rushed out of the water after wading into the mess, while other beachgoers inspected the clumps with fascination, some taking pictures.
Health officials said that people should stay away from the mess but that swallowing a little oil-tainted water or getting slimed by a tar ball is no reason for alarm.
On Saturday morning at a public beach in Gulf Shores, a long line of brown globs marked the high water line from overnight at the public beach.
Finally, somehow, real thought worked its way into a news story, if ever so slightly:
"This is disgusting," said Macon Srygley, of McCalla, Ala. "I hate it for BP, but this has to be a lesson for anyone drilling in the ocean. We've got all this technology, but are we not smart enough to realize we can end ourselves with it?"
Right on. We aren't, and we will.