The Blob Lives On!

It’s been a year since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 people outright and destroyed an entire ecosystem. It’s the worst environmental catastrophe to ever hit the US. The US celebrates Earth Day on Friday, yet, I never hear one politician make hay over the “lessons of 4/20”.  This is because policy makers refuse to learn the lessons. They’d rather sell oil and tainted seafood than deal with the real issues of the disaster.

Most of the coastline of Louisiana is still coated with oil either right in the marshes or just below the surface. The Oyster populations are way down. Dead Dolphins and Sea Turtles are washing up onto the beaches in record numbers. Where is the outrage? Where is the move to seek justice? Where are the calls about what we’re going to leave to our children?

No one who could make this right is carrying the banner to do so. Thousands of small businesses that rely on the Gulf are still hurting and going under. Those that are hurting include people who fish, oyster, shrimp, and run services businesses that support other businesses or tourist trade. It’s an ongoing tragedy and one that’s been ignored for the most part.   The Times Picayune editorial staff and even Republican Politicians in the area who are obsessed with drilling for oil and the oil industry here aren’t shying away from pointing fingers and blame.  BP is doing the same half-assed job of cleaning up that they did of drilling on the Deepwater Horizon.  There is no justice and no peace down here on the Gulf.  Real people are dying and local economies are going under.  There has been more guffaw in Washington DC over defunding Planned Parenthood than making things right for people impacted by the BP Oil Gusher.  Just ask Congressman Markey who has tried endlessly to pass bills to make it right and hasn’t got one through yet.

The oil lurking just under the soil in the marshes of Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area is a testament to that. The area was thick with roseau cane a year ago, Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham told reporters this week. “It was a thick, luscious, green tropical marsh,” he said. Now it is “weathered, stressed, unhealthy.”

The shoreline has visibly retreated in the past year, shrinking several yards from where the water line had been marked in the days after the spill. That is discouraging to Louisianians and ought to worry all Americans, given the importance of our coastal wetlands to the creation of fish and other marine life.

The state created the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area nearly 100 years ago, and it has been an important refuge for migratory birds. Now, the state is using air cannons to keep the birds away from the oily marshes.

This is just one spot on the Gulf Coast that is still suffering from the massive amount of oil that spilled from BP’s well last spring and summer.

In some locations, we are losing 5 feet of marshes and shore line a day.  Deep Horizon oil is everywhere and making things much worse.  All you have to do is talk to the people that live in the affected areas like Grand Isle or Plaquemines Parish or Barataria Bay to see and hear about oil oozing along the coastline.

The noise of the cannons, combined with the swish and flash of metallic strips flapping from poles above the cane, are designed to keep birds from settling into the oily area.

“This is the very terminal end of the Mississippi Flyway,” said Todd Baker, biology program manager for Wildlife & Fisheries. “You get a wide variety of birds, waterfowl, neotropical migrants, raptors, all of them. When they come through, this is the first piece of land they see. When they leave, this is the last place they rest up before they jump across the Gulf of Mexico.

“The hazing cannons are not foolproof,” Baker said, as a Louisiana red-winged blackbird chirped from atop a cane stalk a few yards away.

About 15 miles away as the birds fly — or 30 by boat — Graves used a shovel and his hands to dig about a foot beneath the surface of a spit of sandy beach at the end of South Pass, turning over black-stained sand that smelled like diesel.

Here’s some testimony from people whose health has been impacted by working on the clean-up.  There will probably be lots more of them in the coming months in years.

What does it say about a government that will not make right injustices done to so many people for the benefit of a profit-seeking company? What does it say that our media only shows up to report this story on anniversary days?  How do we explain to our children that we no longer have an entire lifestyle or set of animals and birds or group of human beings because oil is more important than anything?

The silence of Congress is deafening and deadly. They’ve been more concerned with gutting the EPA than learning the lessons from this deadly oilspill and its omnipresent aftermath.  Shame on them and every one else who has forgotten their fellow Americans and the country they profess to love.  This is killing people and it’s killing our land.  We should be talking about the lessons of 4/20 daily.  Instead, we’re just learning how much more Congress loves their donors than the people they are supposed to represent.  It’s a damn shame.


Wednesday Reads

Minx here with your Wednesday morning reads. Can you believe it is March already? I guess time flies when you are having fun…uh, you know I say that with a huge dose of snark. I know that my family is not the only one out there with only 3 bucks in their bank account to get them to the next payday…which is at the end of the week. Individuals and families seem to have to “shut down” when it gets like this. Y’all know what I mean, you can’t buy any food or gas and just hope that no one gets sick or hurt during the next few days til payday. Well, that is enough of that, let’s get on with it shall we?

Looks like the possibility of a government shutdown has been put off for at least 2 weeks. NationalJournal.com – Shutdown Fears Fade as CR Deal Advances – Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The slim possibility of a government shutdown grew even more remote today when Republicans sent a two-week spending package to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., anticipated passage after a vote scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Okay, so now that we got that bit out-of-the-way, lets dig into something more interesting. (At least for me anyway….)

Click on the map to see Region in Turmoil on Al Jazeera English

Yesterday, I was discussing a possible post with some of the gang here on Sky Dancing. It was going to be an overview of the Mid East and Northern African region with information on the countries and links to any updates on the situation there. What do you know, they have done an excellent job of this over a AJE. Damn, I really am fond of this news agency.

Region in turmoil – Spotlight – Al Jazeera English

The world’s attention has been focused on a handful of countries – Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya – since the first popular protests broke out in Tunisia in December. But nearly a dozen countries in the region have seen political unrest, and the protest movement shows no signs of stopping.

Below is a summary of the demonstrations so far, and links to our coverage. You can also click a country on the map above for more information.

I highly suggest you bookmark this AJE page. There are links to articles for each country discussed.

There is some fast-moving news over in Libya, so for the latest be sure to check the Al Jazeera English Website.

Armed conflicts in poor countries keep 28 million children out of school, a new UNESCO report reveals.

Also from AJE, UN: Conflict robs kids of education – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education, by keeping them out of school where they are often targets of sexual abuse and violence, according to a report released by UNESCO.

Released on Tuesday, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report warned that of the world’s primary school aged children not attending schools, 42 per cent of these live in poor countries that are wracked by conflict.

“Armed conflict remains a major roadblock to human development in many parts of the world, yet its impact on education is widely neglected,” Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, said in a statement released at the report’s launch in Dakar.

This often leads to a vicious cycle where poverty and lack of development are reinforced by a lack of education, and the risk of further conflict is heightened as millions of youths fail to find employment.

Thirty-five countries were affected by armed conflict from 1999 to 2008, of which 15 are in sub-Saharan Africa.

[…]

Children are also being used as soldiers in 24 countries including the Congo, Chad, the Central African Republic, Myanmar and Sudan, the report said.

UNESCO cited evidence in reports from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that rape and sexual violence are widely used as a weapon of war in many countries.

“Many victims are young girls,” the report said, citing Congo, where one-third of rapes involve children and 13 per cent are carried out against children under the age of 10.

According to the report, insecurity and fear associated with sexual violence keeps young girls in particular out of school.

I realize that many in these war-torn countries are just trying to survive, and education is not on the top of the list when it comes to dealing with the horrors of war and conflict. However, I wanted to highlight this issue here because it is yet another  reason to support  humanitarian aid to these countries. Children have rights as well, they have the right to attend a safe school and receive an education, but I think this tends to get lost in the shuffle in these areas of high conflict.

For another article on Libya, and other oil producing countries in the Mid East, Juan Cole has a new post up: Libya Standoff as Saudi Quivers and Iran, Iraq under Pressure | Informed Comment

It increasingly appears that outside intervention via the UN or NATO is off the table, and so the end game will likely play out inside Libya and based on Libyan dynamics.

Brent crude oscillated between $112 and $114 a barrel on Tuesday, and West Texas crude hit $100 on Middle East uncertainty, but analysts say that the price would have to stay high for weeks or months to have a serious impact on Western countries’ economic recovery. Prices may in fact stay high for a while, since Saudi Arabia is said to be willing to have Brent crude go as high as $120 before intervening with another increase in its own production.

Cole also points out that the Saudi’s have arrested a Shiite Clergyman that was speaking out for a constitutional monarchy:

Saudi authorities on Tuesday detained a Shiite clergyman in the Eastern Province who preached a sermon calling for a constitutional monarchy. Shiites are probably about 12 percent of Saudis and are culturally and politically repressed by the Wahhabi establishment, which typically views them as idolaters. Had the call for constitutional monarchy come from other quarters, it would be more significant, since it is hard to imagine Wahhabi-Shiite political unity. Unrest among Saudi Shiites might affect the oil-rich Eastern Province where they mostly reside, but the Saudi state has significant repressive capacities in that area.

It is a very interesting read, so check it out.

Oh, and did you see this: Obama Administration Approves First Gulf Deepwater Well – And BP Is the Majority Owner | FDL News Desk As Dayen points out, BP is the major stakeholder in the Noble Energy company that just got the permit.

So to recap, BP owns twice as much a stake in this well as Noble Energy, and yet the announcement of the permit says that Noble Energy received it. Noble operates the well, but BP is the biggest stakeholder, and as such could be the biggest voice in making key decisions about cost and safety. Reuters managed to mention this, unlike the AP.

I won’t say anything about this now, I will leave it for the comment section. (Search engines don’t like it when you curse on a blog post…)

On Sunday the Academy Award for Best Documentary– Feature Film was given to Inside Job and during the acceptance speech, the director mentioned that not one of the people responsible for the fraud that led us to the economic meltdown have been held accountable for their crimes.

For more information on this, take a look at this article: What Juror Wouldn’t Convict A Bankster On Known Facts? | Firedoglake

Okay, I am putting up this next link cause I just love it when Faux News gets caught in its own web of lies.

Fox News reporter appears to have lied about being ‘punched’ by protester | The Raw Story

Fox News has been making a lot of hay about one of their reporters allegedly being “punched” by a protester in Madison, Wisconsin.

Turns out, that didn’t happen.

Mike Tobin, reporting from amid the massive demonstration on Friday, claimed that one of the protesters “punched” him in the arm. In another broadcast, he claimed a man threatened to break his neck.

In both cases, supporting evidence for these claims was not broadcast — yet still, Tobin’s reports have been widely cited across conservative blogs that seem eager to depict union workers as hateful and violent.

What’s worse, Tobin’s allegation that he was assaulted might have slipped past without rebuttal were it not for a camera-equipped bystander, who captured the scene.

Turns out, someone merely touched his shoulder, as evidenced in the video below. The incident he claimed was a “punch” could instead be described as a pat, at most.

Excuse me while I laugh out loud! Ha…Ha…

Okay, on to one last link before I turn you over to the comment section. Funny this link is about comments people leave on news or blog post.  Mostly this post deals with the horrible comments during the reporting of the Lara Logan assault. We touched on this here on Sky Dancing. It also discusses the culture of online comments, and how different websites deal with the hate that many people will post, because they see their comments as being hidden behind an anonymous or made up name.

Anonymous Comments | Online Comments | James Rainey LA Times | Mediaite

Rainey goes through several ways different outlets have dealt with the in-fighting, trolling, and barrage of racist / sexist / homophobic / ableist / you-name-it-ist comments frequently dotting their comments sections. The LATimes.com, for instance, “kicks off” comments that have been reported as abuse by two different visitors, and The Huffington Post employs a team of 30 people who monitor threads for abusive posts with the help of a special computer system – a system which is both necessary, given the millions of visitors HuffPost receives, and enviable to certain bloggers (working at, let’s say… oh, Mediaite) who have to manually comb through comments to clean away the muck. It’s no secret that dealing with abusive commenters is a job in itself, and not something a lot of online writers have the time or patience to deal with in addition to churning out content.

So what are you reading today? We don’t have a team of 30 people here on Sky Dancing, but we love reading your comments.  So get to it and let us know how you feel.