Friday ReadsPosted: July 26, 2013
There appear to be a few interesting headlines up this morning for a good change. Some of them actually involve stories that we’ve followed here for some time. I have a few things involving the Gulf Coast, Oil Spills, and Coastal Restoration. The breaking news is that Halliburton is going to plead guilty in the Gulf Gusher case.
Oilfield services giant Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced Thursday evening.Halliburton was the cement contractor on BP’s ill-fated Macondo well that blew out in April of 2010. The blowout and explosion of Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and ultimately dumped several million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.Halliburton has agreed to pay the “maximum-available statutory fine,” will be subject to three years of probation and continue cooperating with the federal government’s ongoing criminal probe, DOJ said in a summary of the case.
I’m not sure if you have heard this news but there is an additional leaking oil rig in the Gulf right now. It’s spewing natural gas and has been on fire. Forty-Seven folks were rescued from the rig about two days ago.
A fire has broken out on a rig drilling for gas in the Gulf of Mexico, 55 miles (85km) off the Louisiana coast, US officials say.
A blowout at the well on Tuesday morning forced the evacuation of 44 workers from the platform.
US Coast Guard and federal safety officials are still trying to assess the potential hazards.
The area was hit by the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in 2010, leaking millions of gallons of oil.
Eleven oil rig workers were killed in what was the worst US offshore disaster.
The latest blowout was not of that magnitude, officials told the Associated Press news agency.
On Wednesday morning the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said the fire was damaging the rig structure.
“As the rig fire continues, the beams supporting the derrick and rig floor have folded and have collapsed over the rig structure,” the agency said in a statement.
But after an aerial tour of the rig, no gas sheen was visible on the water surface.
One Coast Guard cutter, Pompano, is near the scene and another, Cypress, is travelling to the area.
In addition, “a third vessel equipped with fire-fighting capability and improved monitoring system is enroute,” the BSEE added.
The portable drilling rig – which operates in shallow waters of 154ft (47m) – is owned by Hercules, a contractor for the exploration and production company Walter Oil & Gas Corporation.
The BSEE said the fire broke out while workers were completing construction of a “sidetrack well”. The purpose of the sidetrack well was not immediately clear, but industry analysts say they are sometimes used if there is a problem with the main well.
The most disgusting of the headlines explains the actions of my idiot Governor Bobby Jindal who is trying to protect the oil and gas industry from local governments trying to get coastal restoration and clean up funds. He is trying to interfere with them and trying to get the taxpayers to foot the bills.
The board that oversees the levees in the New Orleans region filed suit in state court Wednesday against about 100 leading oil and gas companies, asking that they repair damage done by the industry’s network of access roads and pipeline canals, which has contributed to the loss of thousands of acres of wetlands a year since the 1930s.
But by the end of the day, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority had overstepped its purview, and he demanded that it cancel contracts with the four law firms that had agreed to handle the case on a contingency basis.
In the suit, the flood authority asks the oil and gas companies to restore the wetlands, which once acted as essential buffers against storms. Without them, the authority said, too much pressure is placed on its levees, which were designed as protection against Mississippi River floods, not as bulwarks against the Gulf of Mexico.
Jindal, however, said the best strategy is to persuade the federal government to share more of its royalties with states to finance restoration projects.
The flood authority’s lawsuit — and Jindal’s response — mark another chapter in a state where politics and oil have been closely entwined for decades. Onshore oil production in Louisiana began in the early 20th century and peaked at 1.35 million barrels a day in 1970, according to the Energy Information Administration, providing the industry with influence.
“For nearly a century, the oil and gas industry has continuously and relentlessly traversed, dredged, drilled and extracted in coastal Louisiana,” the flood protection authority said in its lawsuit. “It reaps enormous financial gain. . . . Yet it also ravages Louisiana’s coastal landscape.”
The agency added that “an extensive network of oil and gas access and pipeline canals slashes the coastline at every angle, functioning as a mercilessly efficient, continuously expanding system of ecological destruction.” It said that the canal network allowed “corrosive saltwater” to flow into interior coastal lands, “killing vegetation and carrying away mountains of soil.”
“What remains of these coastal lands is so seriously diseased that if nothing is done, it will slip into the Gulf of Mexico by the end of this century, if not sooner,” the lawsuit asserts.
I am wishing and hoping and praying that our next Fed Chair will be a woman. Specifically, I am pulling for Janet Yellen. You may recall that I lived blogged a speech she gave about 1 1/2 years ago for the FMA Conference in Denver where I was presenting a paper. She has a lot of fans and her reported competition is Larry Summers.
A letter circulating among U.S. Senate Democrats in support of Janet Yellen’s candidacy to succeed Ben Bernanke as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bloomberg reports.
It was drafted by Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, and it is said to have signatures of other Democrats.
Bernanke’s term ends this year, and many expect him to retire.
Yellen, who is currently the Vice Chair of the Fed, has been long considered the favorite for the position.
But in more recent periods, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has emerged as someone who could also take the vacated spot.
Just yesterday, Ezra Klein wrote a piece titled “Right now, Larry Summers is the front-runner for Fed Chair.”
“President Obama really likes Summers,” said Klein. “And he’s surrounded by Summers’s longtime colleagues and friends.”
Earlier today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Yellen during an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt.
“I think it would be great to have a woman — first woman chairman of the Fed, no question about it,” she said. “She’s extremely talented. It’s not just that she’s a woman.”
Word in Washington is President Obama will nominate either Janet Yellen or Larry Summers to be the next Fed chief. It’s not quite as important a decision as a Supreme Court nomination but it’s a very big one: The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is the single most important economic player in the United States. So who would be best — Yellen or Summers? I know both fairly well. Janet Yellen has impeccable credentials. She’s now vice-chairman of the Fed, after having been head of the San Francisco branch of the Fed, and before that, an economics professor at Berkeley. In 2007 she was one of the very few voices sounding the alarm about the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Not incidentally, she’s also a delightful person. Those who have worked with her tell me she listens carefully to all views, and is respectful of her employees. If selected, she’d be the first woman to head the Fed.
I worked with Larry Summers in the Clinton administration, where he eventually became Treasury Secretary. Under Obama, he ran the National Economic Council. Personally, I like Larry. He’s very bright, and able to see the nub of most policy problems very quickly. But he has the tact and personality of a bull in a China shop, and he’s been notoriously wrong about a few big things. In the late 1990s, he urged Clinton to sign off on legislation killing off Glass-Steagall, and was also part of the Rubin-Greenspan cabal that rejected the arguments of Brooksley Born, then chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for why the CFTC should regulate financial derivatives. Summers’ subsequent tenure as president of Harvard came to an end after he suggested one reason women were not well-represented in the sciences is they don’t have the mind for it. As chair of the National Economic Council under Obama, he and Tim Geithner, then Treasury Secretary, bailed out Wall Street while refusing to impose tough conditions on the banks.
Yet another person speaks out on the lack of critical and rational thought in our national conversation. This is from Henry A. Giroux at Truthout. It’s an essay that is worth reading.
America has become amnesiac – a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed. Politicians such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich along with talking heads such as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter are not the problem, they are symptomatic of a much more disturbing assault on critical thought, if not rational thinking itself. Under a neoliberal regime, the language of authority, power and command is divorced from ethics, social responsibility, critical analysis and social costs.
These anti-public intellectuals are part of a disimagination machine that solidifies the power of the rich and the structures of the military-industrial-surveillance-academic complex by presenting the ideologies, institutions and relations of the powerful as commonsense.  For instance, the historical legacies of resistance to racism, militarism, privatization and panoptical surveillance have long been forgotten and made invisible in the current assumption that Americans now live in a democratic, post-racial society. The cheerleaders for neoliberalism work hard to normalize dominant institutions and relations of power through a vocabulary and public pedagogy that create market-driven subjects, modes of consciousness, and ways of understanding the world that promote accommodation, quietism and passivity. Social solidarities are torn apart, furthering the retreat into orbits of the private that undermine those spaces that nurture non-commodified knowledge, values, critical exchange and civic literacy. The pedagogy of authoritarianism is alive and well in the United States, and its repression of public memory takes place not only through the screen culture and institutional apparatuses of conformity, but is also reproduced through a culture of fear and a carceral state that imprisons more people than any other country in the world.
One last interesting item that’s worth looking at. More than 3.700 photos of Marilyn Monroe are going on the auction block in LA.
The photos — plus negatives, slides and copyrights — are part of a collection of more than 75,000 images taken by fashion photographer Milton Greene in the 1950s and 1960s.
They will go on the block both at the auction house and online on Saturday.
By pairing the images with their copyrights, buyers will be allowed to print, sell and earn royalties off the photos.
The photographer’s son Joshua Greene said earlier this month in online journal The Huffington Post that it was “a bad business deal.”
The archive also includes photos by Greene of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Farrah Fawcett, Jane Fonda, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
Some of the Monroe photos depict a racy starlet against a black background, covered in a black sweater that highlights her bare skin.
Other more innocent shots show Monroe in a white coat against a white background.
Greene and Monroe met in 1953 at a photo shoot for Look magazine, when the photographer was 26.
When Greene sent her a copy of the images, Monroe responded with two dozen roses and phoned to say they were the most beautiful photos she had ever seen, according to the Profiles in History auction house.
During the next four years, until Monroe married Arthur Miller, Greene took more than 5,000 pictures of her, the auction house said on its website.
Greene worked for magazines such as Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar during his long career.
Be sure to check out the photos. Some of them are truly amazing.
So, that’s enough to get us started this morning. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?