Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Bjy32YbCYAAE11RI’m going to remind you today of some events that happened 4 years ago with the BP Oil Gusher and show you that bad things are still going on in the Gulf.The leftover issues from abandoned oil rigs are bigger than Louisiana.Please consider this an open thread while I let you know how I feel.

If corporations are people, then BP and others in the extraction business are serial killers.    All over our country and throughout our history, extraction companies have killed their employees, the people that live around their businesses, and the wildlife and the environment and water systems that sustain the life of our country.  Look at that map.  Those are active and orphaned/abandoned oil wells/pipelines that are disintegrating, leaking, and killing someone.

“I started noticing, towards the end of 2010, other leaks that were unrelated to the BP disaster,” Henderson says. “I would find wellheads that were leaking or platforms that were leaking. Just in the last year, I have filed 50 reports for different leaks and spills unrelated to the BP disaster.”

Under the Clean Water Act, when a company spills any amount of oil in the water, it must file a report with the National Response Center run by the Coast Guard. But when Henderson checked, he found many of those smaller spills were not making that list.

So environmental groups formed the Gulf Monitoring Consortium to get a better count on spills. The partnership is a blend groups of complementary skills.

Gulf Restoration Network, for example, has personnel who can spot spills from the air and file complete reports.

SouthWings, a group of volunteer pilots, helps get those spotters aloft.

Louisiana relies largely on the oil industry to self-report leaks and spills. The Gulf Monitoring Consortium was formed to improve that effort and said it often finds smaller leaks like this one, near Golden Meadow, that go unreported by the companies.

A third member, the West Virginia-based tech group SkyTruth, finds the spills on satellite photographs, then applies a formula used by spill experts to translate the size of the oil sheen into gallons of oil in the water.

SkyTruth spokesman David Manthos says its estimates typically are much higher than what’s been reported.

“We found that the spill was usually 10 times larger than had been reported, and that was averaged out across a lot,” he says. “In some, the mismatch was much larger than that.”

The sheer size of the industry here means there’s seldom a quiet day for the consortium. In an average year, the NRC receives 10,000 reports of spills in the Gulf.

It’s a number that surprised even SouthWings Gulf Program Director Meredith Dowling, a veteran of monitoring efforts.

“I can’t think of a single instance where our volunteers have flown offshore and not found spills,” Dowling says. “This was something that was really amazing to me when I first moved here … that is was a continuous, absolute failure of business-as-usual practices.”

There are many active spills around here.  Many come from orphaned and abandoned wells.  Many come from active wells.  They are all spewing toxicil_570xN.378041774_q0qdwaste and it’s not just in Louisiana.  Here is a program in Pennsylvania dedicated to plugging orphaned and abandoned wells.  There are similar issues in Texas, New York State, and just nearly anywhere there’s been activity.  Louisiana alone has about 6000.   You can see that they are nearly everywhere if you look at the map at the top of the post.  Many of these  wells were first put into play in the 1850s and were just left where they were.  They are rotting, they are decaying, and they are leaking.  They are also dangerous. 

Methane is an odorless, colorless gas that exists naturally below the surface. It isn’t poisonous, but it’s dangerous. When enough methane gathers in an enclosed space — a basement or a water well, for instance — it can trigger an explosion.

The gas didn’t come from the Butters well, nor did it originate from the Marcellus Shale formation that a nearby Shell well had recently tapped into. What most likely happened to cause the geyser in June, Shell and state regulators say, was something of a chain reaction.  As Shell was drilling and then hydraulically fracturing its nearby well, the activity displaced shallow pockets of natural gas — possibly some of the same pockets the Morris Run Coal company ran into  in 1932. The gas disturbed by Shell’s drilling moved underground until it found its way to the Butters well, and then shot up to the surface.

Areas impacted by oil spills are never the same. The BP Oil Gusher has introduced issues into the ecosystem that have left endangered species teetering further towards extinction.  In the case of Louisiana, it’s even the state bird.

On a bright spring morning, P.J. Hahn is walking through a graveyard in the middle of Barataria Bay.

It’s a 30-yard patch of mud and sand bristling with bare, dead mangrove brush surrounded by miles of open water. Each mangrove is a tombstone marking the death of a nesting site used for decades by brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills on what was once the string of wetland pearls that made up the Cat Islands chain.

But in 2010 the oil spewing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon would send them all to an early grave.

“Four years ago we had more than five acres of habitat and there were tens of thousands of birds nesting on these islands,” said Hahn, director of coastal zone management for Plaquemines Parish. “Then the oil came in and coated the mangrove roots, and two years later the islands started going.

“I don’t know where those birds are nesting now – but they can’t do it here any more.”

The post-BP story of the brown pelican, Louisiana’s official bird, is the perfect metaphor for the crisis confronting the state’s coast.

Before the Deepwater Horizon blew out on April 20, 2010, brown pelicans were living the good life in southeast Louisiana as one of the great wildlife comeback stories. In 1963 not a single brown pelican could be found in the state due to impacts from the insectiside DDT.  The comeback started in 1968 when the state began transplanting birds from Florida, and populations began to soar after DDT was banned in 1972. Thanks to the abundant food in one of the world’s most productive fisheries, by 2010 their numbers were thought to be near historic levels, as high of 85,000.*

il_570xN.369622702_4p2jFour years later, the sea floor closest to the spill and even the shores in the Gulf of Mexico are  comparable to an Arizona Desert. It is barren, bleak and dead.  There was life there.  Now, there is the look of a forest fire without the resultant new growth.  Nothing will grow back amid the poison of Corexit and Oil.

When a crew of journalists and environmental groups studying the effects of the BP Deepwater Macondo oil spill disembarked on Cat Island in Baratria Bay last week, there was a collective gasp.

“It looks like the Arizona desert,” said Eileen Fleming, who’s reported for WWNO spring after spring since the April 20, 2010 spill.

“It looks like there was a fire here,” said Doug Meffert, vice president of the National Audubon Society and president of the Louisiana chapter, “but there wasn’t a fire.”

The bones of black mangrove stumps are all that remain of what was a thriving bird rookery here in Plaquemines Parish Four years ago, footage of oiled brown pelicans and the thousands of shorebirds nesting here went around the world in the aftermath of the 200 million gallons of thick crude that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

Today the only green thing on the beach is a glass bottle. There are no pelicans, no mangroves, and worse, much of Cat Island itself is washing away. It and most of the barrier islands and marsh in Barataria Bay are steadily degrading, losing their battles with coastal erosion and subsidence faster than ever.

The NIH is still studying some of the direct health impacts of both the oil and the toxic Corexit used to hide the extent of the spill.

Areas around Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, La. were particularly hard hit, but they weren’t the only affected areas. Moreover, thousands of birds, other wildlife and marine life including dolphins perished, were oiled, sickened and overall left in distress. The effects on the area resonate now, which is only a shock to those either unfamiliar with garish oil spills or unwilling to accept the truth.

In the days following the “spill”, BP, apparently colluding with the US Government, doused a horrific amount of a deadly dispersant in the affected areas. Called “Corexit”, the cutesy name belies the sickening effects it brings to all it touches. On background, an environmentalist working in the area explained to me last year that they were, essentially, damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t, but chose the lesser of two ills.

That remains to be seen as the National Institutes of Health continues its 10-year “GuLF” study of BP spill health effects, from those most affected out on the Vessels of Opportunity boat that included BP-hired personnel trying to contain the spill, to residents in the line of fire, such as around Barataria Bay.

There is a way of life dying along the southern parts of the Gulf Coast in Louisana.  The coastline disappears daily, the salt water intrudes in to the fresh il_570xN.382956444_9et2water marshes, and the land doesn’t sustain the people or the animals like it once did.  There is not better place to study the impacts of the extraction business and human addiction to fossil fuels than many parts of Cajun Louisiana.

Sea level rise is like an ultra-slow-motion hurricane for low-lying areas, but unlike a hurricane, it can be forecast decades in advance. Projections that some town or road will be underwater in 100 years can—and must—be mitigated against today.

Osborn characterizes the choice as “being proactive rather than reactive. Once you get into situations like Louisiana facing some very serious challenges in a very near time frame, all of a sudden you’re in a reactive posture.” Louisiana is a harbinger of things to come for New York, Miami, and other major coastal cities that would do well to look 20 to 75 years ahead and budget accordingly. Local, state, and federal governments will have to make critical decisions about infrastructure, water and sediment diversion, and wetlands restoration in the next 10 to 15 years, he says, and while NOAA scientists can contribute data, they can’t green-light projects or secure funding.

Osborn makes a technical distinction: “Right now it’s what’s called frequently flooded. And the risk is it will be routinely flooded.” Routine flooding will start to happen as early as 10 years from now, he says. They can call it whatever they want, but Gill says soon LA 1 will be “flooded every day during high tide.”

NOAA scientists predict that eventually all the marsh that surrounds LA 1 and Port Fourchon will disappear, connecting two major bodies of water that now are distinct: Barataria Bay and Terrebonne Bay. The only thing out in the water at all, by 2100, may be a raised road and Port Fourchon. “I can imagine Port Fourchon being like the Florida Keys,” says Chiasson, “being on its own, in the middle of open water, maybe a little marsh around it, but nothing between here and there.”

The fact that the entire extraction business is so fraught with so many bad things is why the men that run it must find politicians to protect them from lawsuits and regulations.  Making these guys pay for what they’ve done would undoubtedly run their companies deeply into the red. Donation whores like Republican Governor Bobby Jindal will do anything to protect the benefactors that he hopes will fund him to the White House. There is nothing about Louisiana that this man is interested in except as a step on the rung of his personal ascent.

The state Senate targeted the flood protection authorities around New Orleans and the lawsuit one of the levee boards filed against the oil and gas industry for damages to the state’s wetlands.

In one bill, advanced by a Senate panel Wednesday morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal would get sweeping power to remove members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities. Opponents said the move, which would allow a governor to remove authority members under certain conditions, reintroduces politics into the levee boards, which is precisely what revamp after the 2005 hurricanes was designed to prevent.

Another measure, which was passed by the full Senate late Tuesday night, would derail a lawsuit filed last year by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East against 97 oil and gas companies. The levee board sought damages for contributing to coastal erosion and led to higher than anticipated storm surges.

Jindal opposes the lawsuit and has called it a windfall for lawyers, who would be paid with a portion of any winnings rather than a flat fee. Critics say the legislation would keep the oil and gas industry from taking responsibility for damage caused by drilling and productions activities over the years.

SB553 is aimed at a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. It would not impact similar suits filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. But other measures currently being considered might.

The legislation passed Tuesday night, Senate Bill 553, would apply to retroactively. That measure was sent Wednesday morning to the Louisiana House.

Even kindergartners know they should clean up their messes.  That is ones that aren’t sociopaths.

But, wherever there has been the extraction business, there are the sociopaths.  We have the hundred year anniversary of just such an example.

Linda Linville climbed down the steep stone steps into the dugout on the southern Colorado prairie Sunday where one branch of her family was wiped out in one day 100 years ago.

Her great aunt, her unborn baby and two children died in a fire that broke out during a battle between coal miners striking against John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Colorado National Guard in what became known as the Ludlow Massacre. Twenty-seven-year-old Cedilena Costa, 4-year-old Lucy and 6-year-old Onofrio suffocated from the smoke as they hid below ground to escape the battle. Linville said Cedilena’s husband, Charlie Costa, was captured and shot in the head that day and never knew his family’s fate.

“Anyone who says they died in vain is wrong,” said Linville, a retired history teacher from Corona, Calif., referring to the fact that the miners eventually ended up going back to work without winning any of their demands.

The massacre and battle left 21 people dead, including the Greek-American union leader Louis Tikas, and set off 10 days of civil war in which the miners killed 30 mine guards, supervisors and strikebreakers. They surrendered only after President Woodrow Wilson sent federal troops to the state.

The deaths drew national attention to the long running strike and forced Rockefeller to take a public role in Colorado Fuel & Iron. He instituted a company union and grievance system, which the miners later rejected when the won a right to unionize on their own during the New Deal. The massacre and the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 are credited with the helping win the eventual passage of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.

Linville and over 100 others — including members of the United Mine Workers of America wearing the red bandanas the strikers wore — gathered at the site of the former Ludlow tent colony to mark the massacre’s 100th anniversary with a Greek Orthodox Easter service. It was very similar to the one the miners, who came from a variety of countries, shared in 100 years ago with the Greek strikers the day before the massacre. In a coincidental reminder of Ludlow’s international community, the Easter service will include the traditional reading of the Gospel story in many languages to symbolize the universality of its message.

It is easy to look back at the years of coal and oil and see that not much has really changed in terms of the business.  The only thing that’s changing is that people, nature, and animals don’t have a chance at all and the deathtoll and damage are obvious if you actually get to see it.  I have a small car.  I really don’t drive much at all.  I think in a busy week I may put on 15 miles.   I have a bike and nearly everything I need is about a mile away. I suppose, for me, that it’s nothing to say that I really don’t benefit from any of this.  I’d frankly rather pay for every single person to have some form of solar or wind generator in their home than the tax breaks we give to the oil industry.  I think it would save every one in the country a lot less grief in the short and long run.  But then, I could care less how much money the likes of the Koch Brothers earn.  I’d frankly rather be dancing on their graves.

I just wanted to add that I found some of  these wonderful skull art prints from this site. 

I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is an open thread.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Let them drink tap water…

Good Morning

76c7d10c3f207359ba1ad1a52277554f

I used to think of Twitter as a stream of consciousness thing, where

you type out a thought that comes to you…abstract, free-form and unassuming.

It just floated out there in the mass twit universe.

Facebook was more like a personal thought because it was “friends” or “family” that would see the shit you typed out into your little space on the wall.

More like a statement made out-loud…right?

I make statements out-loud at home all the time. Hell, don’t we all. I mean, sometimes I do it when no one is listening. (And lots of those times they include the words asshole and shithead preceded of course by the key adverb “fucking”) But when someone is listening in my home…they usually know what my thought process is and can complete the fragment of a statement I make even if I don’t state my case in a full and intelligent manner.

I realized the other day that I do the same exact thing here…in the comments. And it is funny because the same people who pick up on my cues here…are the ones who pick up on the shit I type out on my Facebook wall.

The was a little item in the news over the weekend, Rep. Steve King was talking out of his ass again…and of course it pissed me off. I mentioned it here and on my Facebook page. I think I called King a fucking asshole and posted a link to his comment:

Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanentban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”

“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.

When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”

Antikamnia calendar 1897 ebayMy mind was working on his comical statement, considering his PLUBic stance on providing that woman and her fetus with funding for food stamps and other “welfare” assistance once that fetus pops out of the incubation hole and becomes a living breathing tax burden.

That is what I was thinking..but I didn’t write it all down. Do you all do that? I don’t know. Is it cause I am lazy. Or cause I just tend to write stuff here like you are my family and this is my way of talking to you all? It is a ridiculous observation…but there it is.

BTW, images are from The Antikamnia Chemical Company via BibliOdyssey:

After beginning his working life as a printer’s apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 (‘Funny Bones’). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.

3f74509875adde36355821a9b9bf19a5Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia (‘opposed to pain’) Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.

30 of the Crucius ‘dance of death’-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars – between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.

Now for the morning’s reads, starting with a series of links on the chemical spill in West Virginia.

Antikamnia calendar 1900 jan.feb francaisThe Wait Continues for Safe Tap Water in West Virginia – NYTimes.com

As hundreds of thousands of residents faced a third day without water because of a chemical spill in a local river, a water company executive said on Saturday that it could be days before it was safe for them to drink tap water again.

Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said that officials had set up four labs to test the amount of chemical in the water, but that it might take days to provide enough samples to determine whether the water was safe.

A state official also said that thousands of gallons more of the chemical had leaked into the river than was initially believed.

b3207cde6c4bbfd534d17a42ef2990d6Not only that…but it turns out the company was not the one who notified authorities of the leak. It was the EPA. The amount of chemicals spilled was under-reported at first, and it sounds like the company Freedom Industries…fucking ironic isn’t it, is starting to cooperate a little more.

About 7,500 gallons of chemical was spilled into the river, about 2,500 more than previously estimated, said Mr. Dorsey, the state environmental official.

After local officials complained of problems communicating with Freedom Industries, Mr. Dorsey said on Saturday that the company had been more cooperative. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate well,” he said.

State officials said the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, used in coal processing, seeped from the ruptured storage tank on Thursday into the Elk River, just upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Exposure to the chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation and difficulty breathing, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

This story is only going to get more disturbing as the investigation starts to delve deeper into the spill and the companies involved. For that I turn to the local newspaper, The Charleston Gazzette. Check these articles out, they are excellent and you need to read them in full:

b90be3d5b21e135e560f746f18366d72This one details the discovery of the leak…Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill  by Ken Ward-  The Charleston Gazette

When West Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.

[...]

“It’s a bad situation,” said Mike Dorsey, chief of the DEP’s homeland security and emergency response division.

Dorsey said the tank contained about 30,000 gallons of material at the time of the leak, and that the company had pumped the rest of the material out and shipped it to another of its operations.

Dorsey has said DEP officials began an investigation after receiving odor complaints from nearby residents starting at about 8:15 a.m. The DEP and Kanawha County emergency officials traced the odors to Freedom Industries, which had not self-reported any sort of leak or accident, officials said.

48f2b6c2785da61fb771d518cfd47cd4So the company did not notify EPA…it was residents in the area that started to smell this shit who called the local DEP…and they were the ones who contacted Freedom Industries and told them they had a spill on company property. WTF? This is where you want to pay attention to the matter:

In an air-quality enforcement order, the DEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said more information needs to be gathered, but that it seems possible the spill into the river might not have been as bad if Freedom Industries had acted more quickly.

“Depending on when they knew [about the leak], had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.

e40bafcc09badbd0d8276c631335e864Oh yeah and you want more ridiculous ways Freedom Industries handled the situation?

Smells from the spill were reported early Thursday morning, but Freedom mostly stonewalled media inquiries — releasing only a bland news release through a public relations firm — until a 10-minute news conference Friday evening.

At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions.

Prior to the news conference, the most extensive public statement from anyone connected with the company came Friday afternoon from Kathy Stover-Kennedy, the girlfriend of Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell.

Stover-Kennedy stressed that the spill was an accident and said that Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.

“I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!” Stover-Kennedy wrote on her personal Facebook page.

5dacfaf261a33961e3624575c89a56cdYeah…Let them drink tap water!!!!!

“There has been criticism from many about how Freedom Industries is handling this,” she continued. “Denny is not a spokesperson and has no desire to be. His expertise was much needed elsewhere. If he had taken the time to talk to the numerous media networks, giving statements, he would not have been able to react to the situation and perform his job accordingly. It wasn’t his decision to hire a spokesperson and it isn’t his job to be one.”

Well, if you look at these links I am giving you here, it seems Denny did not do much…in the way of working his expertise. The Charleston Gazette is examining this leak, and the company, Freedom Industries, rather well…I wish there were reporters like these out there doing the same in other towns where industrial environmental disasters have devastated more than the water supply. (But then perhaps there is a reason for the silence too…)  (And really, I could go further and add political governmental disasters as well but that would get me off on another tangent.)

Anyway, take a look at this…regarding the leak and what actions took place after it was discovered…and prior to? Why wasn’t there a plan?  Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill By Ken Ward Jr. – The Charleston Gazette

7fab6c1c0717cc9b7b640f1ec3c9abeaA few specific points:

Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2″ form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.

Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.

Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.

Sounds like that diagram from the movie Office Space, “Planning to Plan”

Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.Water company officials are equally puzzled. For example, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre told reporters on Friday that his company didn’t know much about the chemical’s possible dangers, wasn’t aware of an effective treatment process, and wasn’t even sure exactly how much 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol is too much.

“We’re still trying to work through the [material safety data sheet] to try to understand the risk assessment of this product,” McIntyre said during a Friday-morning news conference. “We don’t know that the water is not safe. But I can’t say that it is safe.”

8f42e52c3854bfd3029ca566071b45a3It only gets better. /snark

McIntyre said his company hadn’t at that point had any contact directly with Freedom Industries, and he wasn’t able to identify any previous efforts by the two firms to work together on emergency response planning.

“I can’t answer that question,” McIntyre said when asked about such planning. “I don’t have that information.”

Fred Millar, a longtime chemical industry watchdog in Washington, D.C., said the lack of better planning was an example of how the landmark emergency response law hasn’t been properly enforced around the country.

“Obviously, the whole idea of the chemical inventory reports is to properly inform local emergency officials about the sorts of materials they might have to deal with,” Millar said Friday. “It’s just head-in-the-sand to be ignoring this type of threat.”

No shit.

7611aeb45bd1056859790bac0e8ec809But this next article is one that starts to peel at the toxic layer of protections “corporations” can muster when it comes to being people…Freedom Industries execs are longtime colleagues- by Dave Gutman   The Charleston Gazette

Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical spill is responsible for the contamination of much of the Kanawha Valley’s water, has existed in its current form for less than two weeks.

On the last day of 2013, Freedom Industries, which distributes chemicals used in coal mining, merged with three other companies: Etowah River Terminal, Poca Blending and Crete Technologies, a Delaware company.

Poca Blending, in Nitro, and Etowah River Terminal, in Charleston, now comprise the two branches of Freedom Industries.

The company’s website says the Charleston branch, which spilled the chemical, “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively.”

They can leak the shit rapidly too.040b20741beeaa72604faa1e72bb5f52

And what exactly is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know  – by Ken Ward Jr – The Charleston Gazette

That should really get you all up to speed on the spill in West Virginia. The rest of the links will be quick, in dump format after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Funny Evening Open Thread: Weird stuff too…

2034152199_633cd4b5eeGood Evening

After this morning’s post, I thought we all could use a laugh…or at least a smile. So tonight, let’s look at some weird news of the day.

Today makes two years since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and because this post will not touch on upsetting news, I will not link to anything about the Fukushima disaster.

Floating tsunami trash to be a decades-long headache

Earthquake and tsunami debris lie at Yamada town in Iwate prefecture on June 6, 2011. The tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011 created the biggest single dumping of rubbish, sweeping some five million tonnes of shattered buildings, cars, household goods and other rubble into the sea.

Earthquake and tsunami debris lie at Yamada town in Iwate prefecture on June 6, 2011

The tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011 created the biggest single dumping of rubbish, sweeping some five million tonnes of shattered buildings, cars, household goods and other rubble into the sea. About three-and-a-half million tonnes, according to official Japanese estimates, sank immediately, leaving some 1.5 million tonnes of plastic, timber, fishing nets, shipping containers, industrial scrap and innumerable other objects to float deeper into the ocean.

That is some mess in that picture…

Tracking the 2011 tsunami debris
Tracking the 2011 tsunami debris Graphic on tracking the debris created by the tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011. Official Japanese estimates say about three-and-a-half million tonnes of debris sank immediately while another 1.5 million tonnes float deeper into the ocean

Read the rest at that link.

I’ve also got some news on space debris, Chinese space debris collides with Russian satellite

According to Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI) has determined that on January 22, 2013 debris from the Chinese FENGYUN 1C collided with Russia’s BLITS satellite. The FENGYUAN 1C is the satellite that was destroyed by China on January 11, 2007 in a test of an anti-satellite missile. The collision changed the orbit of the Russian satellite, along with its spin velocity and attitude. The animation above is from AGI and it depicts the event. The collision wasn’t reported until February 4, 2013 when engineers at the Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering (IPIE) in Moscow reported to CSSI a significant change in the orbit for their BLITS satellite. BLITS is tracked to high precision by the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS), and IPIE had detected a sudden decrease of 120 meters in the semi-major axis of its orbit and a change in its spin velocity and attitude.

And one more science/math link: Mathematicians calculate chances of actually discovering King Richard III were less than 1%

As part of a maths project, undergraduate students on the Business Applications of Mathematics module were asked to work out the probability of the University of Leicester archaeologists finding the remains at the time they started the investigation. They concluded that there only a 0.84% chance of the team discovering Richard – or about 120 to 1 against. And they further calculated: the chances of Richard having been buried in the Grey Friars church were about 85% there was about a 98% chance that the location of the Grey Friars precinct had been identified with sufficient accuracy only 2,322m² of the total area of the Grey Friars precinct of 13,648m² (about 17%) was available for investigation. The students thought the chances of the choir –where Richard was reputed to have been buried – being in the available area were about 25%. The skeleton might not have survived, even if it were in the available area. The students assessed the chances of the body still being there (if it had been there at all) as about 66%. One of the most difficult chances to assess was that the investigation carried out would identify the choir. The students assessed the chances of the investigation finding the choir, if it were there, at about 15% and the chances of finding the grave within the choir if the choir were found at 80%. The students considered that the odds on being able to identify the skeleton as Richard’s were about 50%.

Over a decade ago, I went to a local fiber artist to learn how to spin yarn. She had photographs of her herd of sheep and  there was just a couple of pictures that had a sheep looking directly into the camera. She told me that those particular sheep were abandoned by their mothers and had been hand raised from birth. Supposedly, sheep will only look humans in the eyes if they were raised by humans. (Not sure if this is true or not, I never Googled it. )

Anyway, I thought about those sheep when I read this next article: Why Your Brain Like Art That Looks Back At You

A new study of art through the ages suggests that a more accurate adage might be “beauty is in eye contact with the beholder.” Research shows that what we find beautiful — or at least engaging — are works of art that look back at us. Of course, we still wouldn’t recommend staring for very long into the eyes of Vigo, the Scourge of Carpathia.

The new study is rooted in a concept known as cognitive attraction, and it states that our neurological processes — our hardwired human brains — cause us to favor specific cultural traits more often than not. That plays out in our unconscious preferences, and has been used to explain our interests and desires in everything from religion to  video games.

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior and authored by Olivier Morin, goes on to state that the psychology of cognitive attraction led painters during the Renaissance to favor direct-gaze portraits over others. That is to say, paintings where the subjects are looking back at us — at you — instead of the profile, the three-quarters shot, or the looking-totally-somewhere-else style of painting that came before. Morin’s paper points out this cultural shift over the course of 16th century Europe didn’t take much into account for the subject’s age or sex. Whether the subject was young, old, male, female, pretty, or ugly — a young woman or Carpathian tyrant, it doesn’t matter – the direct-gaze approach was favored during the Renaissance. And here’s the clincher: It still is. Our museum collections and our coffee table books still demonstrate a preference for the creepy I’m-watching-you style of painting.

Morin posits that whenever cultural restrictions don’t override it, our neurological preference is the Mona Lisa approach in creating or observing. He even found a parallel artistic evolution in the poses of historical Korean paintings, showing that this isn’t a European trend but a human one.

Eye-to-eye contact, whether from a living person or a 2D, rendered image, are simply easier for us to identify — the same is true for infants — and are there more attractive to us. We’re just hardwired this way. Of course, “attractive” is not synonymous with “handsome.” It just means we have an easier time looking away from people not looking back at us.

For this next link, art meets immigration issues. Photos: Life in Mexico’s Fast Lane

Alejandro Cartagena

While working on an assignment to capture how people made use of the streets in Monterrey, Mexico, photographer Alejandro Cartagena discovered an unusual perspective on commuting. Two or three mornings a week for a year, Cartagena would stake out pedestrian bridges overlooking a southbound highway to snap shots of workers riding in the back of pickup trucks.

The trick, he says, was to “try to predict which trucks would be carrying people on the back,” then run across the overpass and prepare to quickly photograph the moving vehicle’s passengers. Many of the men were ducking down to avoid attention, though some were likely just protecting themselves from the cold.

The “Car Poolers” photos, now on display at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, show workers preparing for the mundane—another day of construction in one of Monterrey’s many suburbs. Taken together, they serve as an unusual portrait of survival and adaptation amid sprawl and uncertainty.

Okay, this one is for Boston Boomer and Pat Johnson…and anyone else in the Bean Town greater area.

The Postal Tower: 1908 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

SHORPY_4a22645a.preview

Can you guess where that photo was taken?  “Post office in Lowell, Massachusetts.” Circa 1908.

And finally, this last link made me think of those weasel toys they sell at Cracker Barrels. Weasel Interrupts A Soccer Match [VIDEO]

Technically, it was a “marten” (basically a weasel) that was on the field. That’s not the exciting part, though. Watch as the helpless players and stadium officials struggle to capture the varmint as the game was momentarily halted for the sake of comedy.

Anyone ever hear that expression about having a face like a cats ass? Well, see if you can spot an ass in this picture, from pinterest:

That is an illustration for some early book of fairy tales…

This is an open thread.


Friday Nite Lite: If we build a large wooden badger…

Good Evening

Things are still very hazy for me, so just a quick post tonight.

Here are your cartoons:

Pope Retires – Truthdig

Pope Retires Today by Political Cartoonist Malcolm Evans

127969 600 Pope Retires Today cartoons

Scalia and Fox News by Political Cartoonist John Cole

127951 600 Scalia and Fox News cartoons

Jim Crow Jr by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

127883 600 Jim Crow Jr cartoons

0301/Luckovich cartoon: Best seller | Mike Luckovich

030113-toon-luckovich-ed

Doh by Political Cartoonist Chris Britt

127865 600 Doh cartoons

I love this last one:  Horses Have a Beef by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

127905 600 Horses Have a Beef cartoons

This is an open thread.