Sunday Reads: You got the stuff?

8464966081_d02fe0274aGood Morning!

Oh yeah…I got the stuff!

Plenty of things for you today, so much that I have decided to break this post up into two…one for the morning…one for the early afternoon.

First some headlines:

Police Say Officer Mistakenly Killed Hofstra Student in Hostage Standoff

A 21-year-old Hofstra University student who was killed in a home invasion on Friday was mistakenly shot in the head by an officer who fired eight times at a man who was holding a gun to the student’s head and then pointed it at him, the police said on Saturday. Seven of the bullets hit the man, who was also killed.

[…]

At least one officer had entered the home as Mr. Smith, clutching Ms. Rebello in a headlock with a gun to her head, tried to get to the back door, Detective Azzata said. After noticing the officer in the hallway, Mr. Smith brought Ms. Rebello closer to his body, Detective Azzata said. Mr. Smith then pointed his gun at the officer.

“At that point, the police officer fires several rounds,” Detective Azzata said. “Seven of those rounds struck our subject; one of those rounds struck the victim.”

Ms. Rebello was taken to the hospital, where she died. Mr. Smith’s weapon, a 9-millimeter handgun, had one bullet in the chamber and another in the magazine, Detective Azzata said. He never fired a shot.

Detective Azzata said the officer who fired the shots was a 12-year veteran of the force, but would not identify him or say whether the officer had acted according to protocol. He said the authorities were still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

When this shooting first took place, the police insisted the victim was shot by the suspect.

A Hofstra University student was killed in her home Friday morning during a botched robbery.

Andrea Rebello, 21, of New York, was shot dead by a masked gunman while her twin sister was in the house, cops told the New York Post. The gunman was also killed in a firefight with police.

The intruder broke into the home at about 2:20 a.m., where the sisters, one of their boyfriends and another woman were staying. The suspect held them hostage for a short time, but let the unidentified woman go to get cash from an ATM. She called police, NBC News reports.

Rebello and the gunman were killed during a firefight that erupted when police arrived. Police told the Post that the suspect killed Rebello, and cops killed him.

It is a shame that this young woman is dead, I won’t get into a debate about the details of how she became a victim of a policeman’s bullet…considering this was a hostage situation, the police knew it was a hostage situation, a lone cop entered the house, the gunman was found to have had two bullets in gun and did not shoot his weapon, the cop unloaded his gun (well, fired 8 times and hitting suspect 7 times, Rebello once) and the investigation is ongoing.

I guess we all expected this nugget of news about the IRS thing:  Evidence emerges that Obama administration official knew of IRS targeting during 2012 campaign – CBS News

There were new questions Saturday night concerning if anyone in the White House was aware of the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

Inspector General Russell George said he informed a deputy at the Treasury Department in June of 2012 about the probe into the IRS.

The Treasury Department confirmed the timeline but said they did not know the details of the investigation until last week.

It’s the first evidence that someone within the Obama administration knew about the practice during the presidential campaign.

It is unknown whether anyone in the White House was told of the federal investigation.

And, if any of you are lucky enough: Lucky numbers for biggest Powerball jackpot are…

The winning Powerball numbers are 10, 13, 14, 22, 52 with a Powerball number of 11.

Hot Damn!  $590Million plus Powerball: 1 winning ticket sold at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida!

After all the mess BP caused with their Deepwater Horizon Spill you’d think drilling into deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico would be out of the question. Shell presses ahead with world’s deepest offshore oil well

Royal Dutch Shell is pressing ahead with the world’s deepest offshore oil and gas production facility by drilling almost two miles underwater in the politically sensitive Gulf of Mexico.

[…]

John Hollowell, a Shell executive vice-president, said: “This important investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to usher in the next generation of deepwater developments, which will deliver more production growth in the Americas. We will continue our leadership in safe, innovative deepwater operations to help meet the growing demand for energy in the US.”

The move comes despite ongoing controversy over offshore exploration – especially in the Gulf of Mexico, where in April 2010 a fire and explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and started a leak that took three months to cap. Last month BP said it had paid $25bn (£16bn) of the $42bn it has set aside to cover the damage caused by the spill.

Shell’s Gulf of Mexico field, called Stones, was discovered eight years ago 200 miles south-west of New Orleans and is 2,900 metres (9,500ft) below the sea. Perdido, another Shell site in the region, is currently the world’s deepest offshore well at 2,880 metres below the surface. Meanwhile the company has several other projects nearby, including its 900 metre-deep Mars field, where it is adding new infrastructure, plus its Appomattox and Vito discoveries.

Sticking with environmental issues for now, Google Earth enters fourth dimension, highlights humanity’s heavy hand | Ars Technica

Las Vegas grows, even as the water supply that feeds the growth is shrinking.

Roughly four years ago, Google engineers started working with the US Geological Survey to create what it’s now calling Google Earth Engine. Thanks to NASA satellite imagery obtained as part of the Landsat program, the USGS has decades of historic images of the Earth from space, totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 900TB of data. Google has now combed through these pictures, finding a series of consecutive images that collectively cover much of the planet’s land surface. All of the images were chosen specifically for being cloud-free and having good lighting conditions.

But these are only links dealing with the earthly environment, let us take a look at something spectacular that occurred on the lunar surface.  Check it out, Huge Rock Crashes Into Moon, Sparks Giant Explosion | Space.com

https://i1.wp.com/i.space.com/images/i/000/029/147/i01/moon-meteor-impact.jpg

This photo shows the bright flash of the light that resulted from a huge boulder slamming into the moon’s surface March 17, 2013.
CREDIT: NASA

The moon has a new hole on its surface thanks to a boulder that slammed into it in March, creating the biggest explosion scientists have seen on the moon since they started monitoring it.

The meteorite crashed on March 17, slamming into the lunar surface at a mind-boggling 56,000 mph (90,000 kph) and creating a new crater 65 feet wide (20 meters). The crash sparked a bright flash of light that would have been visible to anyone looking at the moon at the time with the naked eye, NASA scientists say.

“On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement. “It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before.” [The Greatest Lunar Crashes Ever]

Video and larger photos at the link.

Last week there was a showdown between Gohmert and Holder that involved a vegetable…asparagus to be precise. Colbert Takes On Gohmert’s ‘Asparagus-gate’: ‘How Dare You Cast Aspersions On That Man’s Asparagus!’ | Mediaite

Of all the contentious moments during Eric Holder‘s time before a congressional committee Wednesday, the one that stuck out to Stephen Colbert was when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) exclaimed, seemingly out of nowhere, that the attorney general was trying to “cast aspersions on my asparagus.”

Gohmert’s remark was particularly appropriate, in the eyes of Colbert, since cable news pundits had spent the hours leading up to the hearing hyping the “grilling” Holder would receive and previewing the questions he’d be “peppered with.”

“Grilled and peppered,” Colbert said. “That explains why Darrell Issa was wearing that ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron.” But, he added, Holder “bit off more than he could chew” when he went face-to-face with “magical talking cantaloupe” Louie Gohmert.

Holder challenged Gohmert’s assertion that the FBI wasn’t completely thorough in their investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings, which led to Gohmert’s accusation that the attorney general was trying to “cast aspersions on my asparagus.”

“How dare you cast aspersions on that man’s asparagus,” Colbert fired back at Holder. “What is next, sir? Libeling his lettuce? Questioning his quinoa? Arguing with his arugula? Repudiating his rutabaga? Vilifying his vinaigrette before drizzling it on his scandal salad?”

“Clearly, nation,” Colbert concluded, “we are going to need a lot more hearings on Asparagus-gate. Because the more I digest this, the worse it smells.”

Too funny…

Now a bit on LGBT Rights…in the country of Georgia. What I find interesting is and the men of faith who are leading the violent protest: Gay Rights Rally Is Attacked in Georgia

A throng of thousands led by priests in black robes surged through police cordons in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday and attacked a group of about 50 gay rights demonstrators.

Carrying banners reading “No to mental genocide” and “No to gays,” the masses of mostly young men began by hurling rocks and eggs at the gay rights demonstrators.

The police pushed most of the demonstrators onto yellow minibuses to evacuate them from the scene, but, the attackers swarmed the buses, trying to break the windows with metal gratings, trash cans, rocks and even fists.

At least 12 people were reported hospitalized, including three police officers and eight or nine of the gay rights marchers.

“They wanted to kill all of us,” said Irakli Vacharadze, the head of Identoba, the Tbilisi-based gay rights advocacy group that organized the rally.

Violence promoted at the hands of the priest, what I do find curious is the statement at the end of this article…regarding the priest and the law.

Reuters

A police officer helped an injured man. Gay rights marchers said priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church led the charge past police cordons.

The attack comes amid an increase in antigay talk in Russia and Georgia, whose Orthodox churches are gaining political influence.

In a statement Wednesday, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, compared homosexuals to drug addicts and called the rally a “violation of the rights of the majority” of Georgians.

Conservative-minded Georgians traveled from other cities to condemn the gay rights demonstrators, and one told a television station that she had come to “treat their illness.”

“We are trying to protect our orthodoxy, not to let anyone to wipe their feet on our faith,” said Manana Okhanashvili, in a head scarf and long skirt. “We must not allow them to have a gay demonstration here.”

In a telephone interview, Mr. Vacharadze of Identoba said that priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church had led the charge that broke through a heavy police corridor.

“The priests entered, the priests broke the fences and the police didn’t stop them, because the priests are above the law in Georgia,” he said.

Things never change do they. Priest always seem to be above the law.

As far as women’s rights go, in Egypt: Man Dresses As Woman to Experience Egypt’s Sexual Harassment

Would men stop sexually harassing women, or at least understand what it feels like to be verbally and physically abused, if they were to experience it themselves?

One TV program in Egypt has looked at the issue of sexual harassment by doing just that.

“Awel el Khayt” – roughly translated as “The Thread”–- is a seven-episode series aimed at covering longstanding socio-political and economic problems in the North African country.

[…]

In a recently aired 30-minute episode titled “Sexual Harassment in Egypt,” young actor Waleed Hammad took to the streets of downtown Cairo dressed as a woman in order to experience harassment firsthand.

According to an interview with Waleed Hammad at AllAfrica.com,

Hammad, who studied Economics and Theatre at the American University in Cairo, told Aswat Masriya on Monday that he blames neither men nor women for sexual harassment, but society as a whole.

“Honestly, I felt sorry for all Egyptians because the harassment wasn’t only from men; it was from women as well,” Hammad told AM, adding that receiving assaults from women was even sadder because they were oppressing their own gender.

The 24-year-old actor said that some of the catcalls were mild, while others were obscene, adding that when they first started filming, he feared that someone would blow his cover and “make a scene”.

He explained, however, that his fear was minimal as he was surrounded by the television crew which followed him during the experiment.

“When I put on the veil in the experiment, harassment became more vicious and in your face, so it’s not a problem of covering up,” Hammad said, explaining that his experiment proves wrong the argument that covering up is the solution for sexual harassment.

Take a look at the rest of the allAfrica article to read the rest of the interview with Hammad, interesting to see what his experience has showed him about living as a woman in Egypt.

And since we are on the subject of Egypt, I don’t know if you could call this life imitating art? Or at least life imitating South Park…Tunneling KFC to Gazans Craving the World Outside

https://i1.wp.com/graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/05/16/world/GAZA/GAZA-articleLarge.jpg

The French fries arrive soggy, the chicken having long since lost its crunch. A 12-piece bucket goes for about $27 here — more than twice the $11.50 it costs just across the border in Egypt.

And for fast-food delivery, it is anything but fast: it took more than four hours for the KFC meals to arrive here on a recent afternoon from the franchise where they were cooked in El Arish, Egypt, a journey that involved two taxis, an international border, a smuggling tunnel and a young entrepreneur coordinating it all from a small shop here called Yamama — Arabic for pigeon.

[…]

Professor Abu Heen noted that when Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, breached the border with Egypt in 2008, during the height of the Israeli siege, thousands of Gazans flooded into El Arish and bought not just medicine and food staples but cigarettes, candy and things they did not need — just to show they had managed to bring something back from outside. Breaking the blockade, then and now, is seen as part of resisting the Israeli enemy, giving a sense of empowerment and control to people here, even if it comes in the form of fried chicken.

Even as Israel has relaxed restrictions on imports over the past few years, hundreds of illegal tunnels have flourished in Rafah. Weapons and people are smuggled underground, but so are luxury cars, construction materials and consumer goods like iPads and iPhones. And now: KFC.

Yes, they smuggle KFC through tunnels, like drugs are smuggled through Border tunnels here in the US.   Now that image up top, look how closely it resembles the one below, taken from the South Park episode Medicinal Fried Chicken where:

…the South Park KFC is replaced by a medicinal marijuana dispensary, and Cartman gets involved in black market selling the KFC chicken.

You Got The Stuff? In this clip Cartman is picking up a delivery of goods and discovers a problem…

The chicken deal goes down.

The chicken deal goes down.

[Elsewhere in South Park, Cartman walks into an alley and looks around. Further in the alley he runs across a man]

Cartman: Are you Teabag?

Teabag: Maybe I am. Who’s askin’?

Cartman: Cut the crap. You got the stuff?

Teabag: Oh, I got the hookup. Question is, you got the money? [Cartman hands him a wad of bills] Alright, we’re in biz. [turns right and grabs a couple of bags of KFC food, then hands them to Cartman, who looks inside each bag] It’s all there, man.

Cartman: Extra crispy? [opens a small bowl of gravy and samples it carefully]

Teabag: ‘Course, man, I ain’t no fool.

Cartman: You trying to fuck me dude? This is cut with Boston Market gravy!

Teabag: Awww, it’s all the same shit, man.

Cartman: IT’S NOT THE SAME SHIT! [reaches behind his back for a pistol and aims it at Teabag]

Teabag: Okay okay I’m sorry, oh… [gets on his knees and shields his face]

Cartman: You’re cuttin’ Colonel’s gravy with Boston Market to try and save yourself some fuckin’ money!

Teabag: I’ll take back the gravy.

Cartman: [lunges at him with the pistol, making him get on all fours] Like anybody wants KFC without gravy!

Teabag: AAAH please. Please, I’m sorry! Take your money back! Take the KFC too! [Barbrady walks by and stops to look]

Barbrady: What’s going on back there?

Cartman: Nothin’, it’s cool.

Well, that all for this morning edition…I’ve got some real cool ass links coming up this afternoon! (Cool ass? That doesn’t sound right…) Anyway, be sure to let us know what you are reading about if you are around the internets and have a few minutes to comment today. Otherwise, see ya later on for the second half of the show.


Thursday Reads: Crazy Republicans, Nuclear Meltdowns, MLB Follies, and More

Good Morning!!

According to Politico, Republicans are escalating their game of chicken with demands they want met before they agree to raise the debt limit.

One day after being named to a presidential task force to negotiate deficit reduction, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fired off a stark warning to Democrats that the GOP “will not grant their request for a debt limit increase” without major spending cuts or budget process reforms.

The Virginia Republican’s missive is a clear escalation in the long-running Washington spending war, with no less than the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance.

Wait a minute…Obama put ERIC CANTOR on a deficit task force??!! Okay, the joke’s over. This guy cannot legitimately run on a Democratic ticket in 2012.

Cantor says he’s ready to plunge the nation into default if the GOP’s demands are not met. People close to Cantor say that he hopes to make clear that small concessions from Democrats, including President Barack Obama, will not be enough to deliver the GOP on a debt increase….

Republicans are floating a wide range of major structural reforms that could be attached to the debt limit vote, including statutory spending caps, a balanced budget amendment and a two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases and debt limit increases.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has finally admitted that nuclear fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 has melted. From reading the article, it isn’t exactly clear what has happened, but I still detect efforts to minimize the damage. There’s a little more detail in an article from the Irish Times:

The head of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Takashi Sawada, said yesterday that fuel rods in reactors 1 and 3 have melted and settled at the bottom of their containment vessels, confirming fears that the plant suffered a partial meltdown after last month’s huge earthquake and tsunami.

Engineers have been struggling since to bring four reactors under control by pouring water onto overheating nuclear fuel, and that water is highly contaminated as a result. Mr Sawada warned the condition of the plant could worsen if another strong quake knocks out power to its cooling systems.

“That would destabilise pressure and temperatures inside the reactors and the situation would become extremely unpredictable again,” he said.

The story also says that there was an aftershock yesterday centered around 25 miles from the plant.

All the news outlets are covering the BP oil gusher and the damage it has done to the Gulf, because yesterday was the anniversary of the explosion that killed 11 oil rig workers. Don’t worry, they’ll drop the subject like a hot potato in a couple of days. Here’s an article from the NYT.

Even in the worst days of the BP spill, coastal advocates were looking past the immediate emergency to what the president’s oil spill commission called “the central question from the recovery of the spill — can or should such a major pollution event steer political energy, human resources and funding into solutions for a continuing systemic tragedy?”

That tragedy is the ill and declining health of the Gulf of Mexico, including the enormous dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi and the alarmingly rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, roughly 2,000 square miles smaller than they were 80 years ago. Few here would take issue with the commission’s question, but the answer to it is far from resolved.

Eclipsed by the spill’s uncertain environmental impact is the other fallout: the vast sums in penalties and fines BP will have to pay to the federal government. In addition to criminal fines and restitution, BP is facing civil liabilities that fall roughly into two categories: Clean Water Act penalties and claims from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, whereby state and federal agencies tally the damage caused by the spill and put a price tag on it. This could add up to billions, perhaps tens of billions, of dollars.

Awwww, gee. Poor BP. It sounds like the writer feels sorry for them.

In Wisconsin, JoAnne Kloppenburg has asked for a recount in the race for the state supreme court.

JoAnne Kloppenburg arrived at the state Government Accountability Board’s office in Madison barely an hour before the 5 p.m. local time deadline by which she had to ask for a recount or concede defeat. According to the vote count finalized by the state last week, she trails Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast in the April 5 election.

“Today, my campaign is asking the Government Accountability Board to conduct a statewide recount,” Kloppenburg said at a news conference. The announcement was met with applause and cheers of “thank you.” She’s requesting the recount “in part to determine what the proper outcome of the election will be and to ensure that elections form this point forward will be fair.

“I do not make this decision lightly … I have weighed the options and I have considered the facts,” Kloppenburg, currently an assistant state attorney general, said. The tight margin — small enough to trigger a provision allowing the state to pay for the recount process — means that “the importance of every vote is magnified and doubts about every vote are magnified as well,” she said.

And in silly Republican news, eight Wisconsin doctorswho wrote excuses for protesting teachers are being investigated.

The state Department of Regulation and Licensing and the Medical Examining Board said Wednesday that they had opened investigations into eight individuals who allegedly wrote doctor excuse notes for protesters at the state Capitol during rallies in February.

Last month, the Department of Regulation and Licensing said it had identified 11 people who may have provided the medical excuses, and it asked them to submit information about their activities at the Capitol.

Three members of the Medical Examining Board reviewed the information and decided to open investigations on eight of the 11, according to a department news release.

The eight being investigated are all licensed physicians, department spokesman David Carlson said.

Are Wisconsin taxpayers going to have to pay for this silliness? How ridiculous.

As a Kindle owner, I’m excited about this news. Amazon’s Kindle Will Offer E-Books From Libraries

Bookworms who own Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Kindle electronic reader will finally be able to borrow digital books from public libraries….

The move is likely to have major repercussions for public libraries and the digital-reading market generally, since Amazon currently dominates the e-book industry and its actions in the space are closely watched. There are an estimated 7.5 million Kindles in the U.S., which gives Amazon a two-thirds share of the $1 billion digital-book market, said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.

Many major public libraries, including those in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, offer free digital-book lending. A physical trip to the library isn’t required. Instead, library-card holders can download books from library websites. Each library sets its own digital-book lending policy, but typical lending periods are 14 or 21 days.

Major League Baseball has seized the LA Dodgers and will now control day-to-day operations for the team. Owner Frank McCourt is having financial problems.

The move was prompted by a number of issues surrounding the Dodgers, including owner Frank McCourt’s recent receipt of $30-million personal loan to meet payroll and the parking-lot attack at Dodger Stadium on March 31 that left a San Francisco Giants fan in a coma, according to a league source.

“This has been like watching a soap opera unfold,” said Gary Toebben, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “We want a financially solvent Dodgers. We want a winning team.”

The league will now have approval rights over every significant expenditure by the team, including a trade or contract extension. This will likely put the franchise on the path to being sold.

The commissioner’s move adds to the turmoil surrounding a team already embroiled in divorce proceedings between McCourt and his wife, Jamie, who is seeking joint ownership.

McCourt tried to buy the Red Sox back when the the former owner died. Thank goodness he didn’t succeed in buying the team–they probably never would have beat the curse and won the World Series twice.

Some nutty right wing talk show host says the Bible forbids net neutrality.

The idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally is against the teachings of the Bible and America’s Founding Fathers, according to evangelical Christian minister and political activist David Barton.

During his radio show on Tuesday, he said that net neutrality violated the Biblical principle of free markets, a principle upheld by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

“That is part of the reason we have prosperity,” Barton said. “This is what the Pilgrims brought in, the Puritans brought in, this is free market mentality. Net neutrality sounds really good, but it is socialism on the Internet.”

“This is really, I’m going to use the word wicked stuff, and I don’t use that word very often, but this is wicked stuff,” he added.

Well that settles it then!

Monday was the 40th anniversary of Charles Manson’s conviction, so some media types decided to give him an opportunity to spout a bunch on nonsense. Manson’s new lawyer has asked the president to let the maniac out of prison, but Manson ruined his chances by giving his honest opinion of Obama.

Manson, 76, called Obama foolish in reference to Wall Street, saying he considered the president “a slave of Wall Street.”

“He doesn’t realize what they are doing. They are playing with him,” he said, according to the magazine.

Bla, bla, bla … so what else is new?


That’s about it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Scientists Ordered Not to Talk about Dophin Deaths in the Gulf of Mexico

From Huffpo Green, via National Wildlife blog:

BILOXI, Mississippi — The U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on its probe into scores of unexplained dolphin deaths along the Gulf Coast, possibly connected to last year’s BP oil spill, causing tension with some independent marine scientists.

Wildlife biologists contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to document spikes in dolphin mortality and to collect specimens and tissue samples for the agency were quietly ordered late last month to keep their findings confidential.

The gag order was contained in an agency letter informing outside scientists that its review of the dolphin die-off, classified as an “unusual mortality event (UME),” had been folded into a federal criminal investigation launched last summer into the oil spill.

A number of scientists said they have been personally rebuked by federal officials for “speaking out of turn” to the media about efforts to determine the cause of some 200 dolphin deaths this year, and about 90 others last year, in the Gulf.

On top of that, scientists are being kept in the dark about results of tests on the specimens they have collected and given to the government. That can’t be a good thing.

This is an open thread.


Here we go again x3: Oil Spills 3, New Drilling Permits 4

I just got a tweet from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).  This comes days after complaints that the government isn’t approving Gulf drilling permits quick enough. I should also mention that the Obama Administration has approved the fourth deep-water drilling permit since the BP oil gusher approximately one year ago. So, here’s information from the NWF where they are tracking THREE separate incidents in the Gulf right now.

At this point, we’re following what are likely three different incidents in the Gulf:

  • Oil coming ashore west of the mouth of the Mississippi River near Grand Isle
  • Reports of possible oil east of the mouth of the Mississippi in Chandeleur Sound
  • A large amount of sediment mixed with a small amount of oil at the mouth of the Mississippi

The Times Picayune reports on the first oil occurring near beleaguered Grand Isle, LA and a Houston company has accepted responsibility for that one. TP also reports on the second oil sighting near the Chandeleur islands.  That’s a picture of it at the top of the thread.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman said the Coast Guard had received no reports of oil-like material east of the river, but a group of environmentalists, engineers and scientists flew over Chandeleur Sound on Monday and Tuesday, and shared photographs and detailed descriptions with The Times-Picayune showing black, streaky plumes over a 20-mile stretch from just east of Quarantine Bay to just west of the shoal remains of Curlew Island.

While the oil industry whines it’s not getting to drill quickly enough, it’s becoming evident that their record of maintaining and inspecting existing rigs is pretty pathetic.  Also, we’ve seen no push by the administration or any one in Congress to implement the recommendations of  the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Furthermore, BP is not living up to its obligations to deal with its damage to the wetlands done by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Louisiana’s congressional delegation has asked BP for $15 million to restore oyster beds and fisheries.  Louisiana is ponying up $12 million of state funds to begin some kind of effort. BP is still supposedly cleaning up the damage still but has no projects active to restore wetlands.

BP set up the GCRO to deal with the spill. On Tuesday, the GCRO opened up its New Orleans office, in an effort to show they are still working on the oil spill.

“BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization is really centered on four things,” Utsler said. “The first and foremost is continuing the completion of this response.”

Dan Favre is with the environmental advocacy “Gulf Restoration Network.” The group has a similar name to BP’s GCRO, but with a totally different take on the response.

“Unfortunately, the response is clearly lacking,” Favre said. “We’re coming up on the one-year memorial mark of the beginning of BP’s disaster here in the Gulf. And so it’s just crazy that there hasn’t been any action to actually start to repair the damage that’s been done.”

That is true, in part. BP set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for their restoration organization, but a year after the spill, only one of their restoration projects is so far underway.

“One of those is already in progress in Mississippi, in terms of wetland restoration,” Utsler said. “Other projects are in discussion in readiness for being approved and agreed to with NRDA [Natural Resource Damage Assessment] trustees, the states and ourselves to conduct.”

However, none of those projects is currently underway in Louisiana — arguably the state hardest hit by the spill. Utsler said they are working on a list of projects, with pending approval. Yet, some environmental groups believe the federal government needs to step in to move the restoration along.

“I don’t think we can leave it to BP to do it on their own accord,” Favre said. “I want to see Congress and the administration actually make BP pay for Gulf ecosystem restoration, by levying the maximum fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act and then allocating those resources directly to environmental restoration in the Gulf.”

It seems somewhat premature to allow these businesses continued access to drilling in the Gulf when they obviously haven’t maintained the rigs, inspected rigs for problems, and shown signs of good faith following damage to the ecosystem and people living in the Gulf.  I think the administration should ask for implementation of the recommendations before allowing any more new permits.  We also need to look for patterns of abuse so that operators with bad records are not allowed new permits.  That’s just one shrimp lover’s opinion. But then, there’s Michelle Bachmann that wants to do away with the EPA and she’s a congress critter.  Newt Gingrich–oil industry suck-up extraordinaire wants that too. I just want my seafood and vacations in warm Gulf Waters to be safe again.

Oh, and honk if you’ve seen or read any of this on MSM from the village.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!! Today is the official Martin Luther King birthday holiday. I hope everyone has the day off. I think I have a few interesting reads for you this morning.

I’ll start with this in depth report by Naomi Klein on scientific studies of the impact of the BP oil gusher on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. While the government reassures Americans that everything down in the gulf is safe safe safe, scientists are finding plenty of evidence that that’s not the case. According to

Ian MacDonald, a celebrated oceanographer at Florida State University. “The gulf is not all better now. We don’t know what we’ve done to it.”

MacDonald is arguably the scientist most responsible for pressuring the government to dramatically increase its estimates of how much oil was coming out of BP’s well. He points to the massive quantity of toxins that gushed into these waters in a span of three months (by current estimates, at least 4.1 million barrels of oil and 1.8 million gallons of dispersants). It takes time for the ocean to break down that amount of poison, and before that could happen, those toxins came into direct contact with all kinds of life-forms. Most of the larger animals—adult fish, dolphins, whales—appear to have survived the encounter relatively unharmed. But there is mounting evidence that many smaller creatures—bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, multiple species of larvae, as well as larger bottom dwellers—were not so lucky. These organisms form the base of the ocean’s food chain, providing sustenance for the larger animals, and some grow up to be the commercial fishing stocks of tomorrow. One thing is certain: if there is trouble at the base, it won’t stay there for long.

There is evidence of permanent changes in organisms likely caused by the oil and dispersants, and those changes may be passed on to future generations as mutations. In addition, the damage to creatures at the lower end of the food chain is so extensive that it may lead to collapses and even extinctions in larger species. While it will be difficult to directly pin all the damage on BP, there really isn’t much doubt that the oil and dispersants are at the root of the problems. It’s very bad, folks.

Ms Magazine has gotten involved in a protest against the New Yorker.

Last week, Anne Hays put her latest copy of the New Yorker back in the mail, with a note explaining that the august publication owed her a refund for putting out the second issue in a row featuring almost no pieces by women. In a December issue of the New Yorker content by women made up only three pages of the magazine’s 150; one January issue contained only two items by women, a poem and a brief “Shouts and Murmers” item.

“I am baffled, outraged, saddened, and a bit depressed that, though some would claim our country’s sexism problem ended in the late ’60s, the most prominent and respected literary magazine in the country can’t find space in its pages for women’s voices in the year 2011,” wrote Hays in the letter, promising to send back every issue containing fewer than five female bylines. “You tend to publish 13 to 15 writers in each issue; five women shouldn’t be that hard,” she concluded.

Her letter, posted to Facebook and widely circulated last week, has prompted Ms. magazine to start an online petition reminding the magazine’s editors that there are in fact lots of women in the world and that many of them write feature articles, reviews and poems, and that the premier literary/current events magazine in the country should reflect that fact.

According to the article, the New Yorker is not alone in ignoring women writers. Read it and weep.

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Gulf Gusher Update: Oil Does NOT Vanish

They may have killed the well, but don’t believe any one when they say that the worst is over.  The problem is that you’re probably not hearing anything or seeing anything about the aftermath because there seems to be no media around the Gulf Coast other than the locals.  Here’s the latest one that I was tweeted today that sent me off to a blogging state of mind.  This is from Project Gulf Impact and you really need to watch their video.

This is of special interest to me because I swear the last batch of shrimp I got at the ghetto Winn Dixie had something greasy in the intestine.  It was so bad, I threw them away.  When I rubbed the black gunk between my fingers, it smeared and stayed there.  It took quite a bit of Dawn to get it to go away. It also tasted gritty and greasy.

Despite repeated statements from the EPA and NOAA assuring residents that thorough Gulf of Mexico seafood testing has revealed levels safe for human consumption, public skepticism has continued to deter many locals from their usual seafood medley. Independent scientists have expressed concern over the published methods and protocols used by federal agencies to open sensitive fishing grounds & determine seafood safety. Invertebrates, such as shrimp, crab, & oysters, are of particular concern due to their feeding habits, relatively stationary lifestyle, and inability to process highly toxic compounds found in crude oil called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). Unfortunately, their concerns have proven valid.

One local activist, “Mac” Mackenzie of NOLA Emergency Response, decided that it was time to take matters into her own hands. After an incessant 7-week investigation, Mac was able to obtain crucial information from our government regarding the specifics of Gulf shrimp testing. Particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, it is common for shrimp to be prepared and even served whole, with the shell and digestive tract intact. When Mac learned that the Gulf shrimp testing performed to date had not included an analysis of whole shrimp with intact shells or digestive tract, she decided to mobilize. She obtained two pounds of locally caught shrimp from Venice, a small town located in the heart of Southern Louisiana. The samples were promptly transported on ice to a laboratory in Mobile Alabama, where Chemist Dr. Robert Namen tested the digestive tracts of the shrimp for components of crude oil. What they found was an alarming 193 parts per million of “Oil & Grease.”

This story came on top of another one this week concerning dead and dying Coral close to the killer wellhead.  This is from The Times Picayune.

Image courtesy of Lophelia II 2010 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEMRE A single colony of coral with dying and dead sections on left, apparently living tissue at right, and bare skeleton with sickly looking brittle star on the base.

A brown substance is killing coral organisms in colonies located 4,600 feet deep about seven miles southwest of the failed BP Macondo oil well, according to scientists who returned Thursday from a three-week cruise studying coral reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The finding is the first case in which researchers have found evidence that living organisms in the deepwater area near the well site might have been killed by oil from the spill.

Penn State University biology professor Charles Fisher, chief scientist aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown said soft coral in a 15-meter to 40-meter area was covered by what appeared to be a brown substance.

“Ninety percent of 40 large corals were heavily affected and showed dead and dying parts and discoloration,” according to a news release reporting the findings by Fisher and other scientists issued jointly by NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Managment, Regulation and Enforcement, which co-sponsored the research. “Another site 400 meters away had a colony of stony coral similarly affected and partially covered with a similar brown substance.”

“While this mission was not designed to be focused on oil spill research, the timing and location provided an opportunity to observe any impacts to our research areas,” Fisher said in the news release. Fisher was unavailable for further comment on Thursday night.

The release said the scientists “observed dead and dying corals with sloughing tissue and discoloration.”

That’s just some of the continued impact on the ecosystem down here.  The town of Gulf Shores, Alabama reports  they are still owed $2 million in lost revenues. A city meeting also discussed outstanding claims by businesses and individuals.  This, despite the uptick in local advertising I’ve seen on ad ‘stories’ of how BP has made me whole again run by BP here on our local TV stations. The ad revenues for this things must be unbelievably large.

A BP spokesman did not respond to inquiries about the lost revenue claims.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Dyken reported that officials were still trying to work out problems with the lack of claims paid by Ken Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility to individuals and businesses.

Officials in south Baldwin County were expected to meet with Feinberg this week, Dyken said.

Baldwin County had received about $219 million, Dyken said.

“Some people still haven’t been paid on claims that are legitimate,” he said. “They have distributed a large amount of money. It’s just whether that money has gone to the appropriate parties in the appropriate places. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to some payments being made and others not. There’s also not the degree of transparency we would like in the process.”

In order to ensure that the oil spill’s lingering affects do not carry into next year, Doughty suggested expanding the tourist season.

“We need rebranding of the Gulf so that people understand the Gulf is safe, whether it’s Gulf seafood, Gulf beach, air whatever,” she said. “With tourism being our No. 1 economic engine here, anything we can do to help tourism would be great.”

This is particularly weird given the report by a Pensacola/Mobile TV station that a tourist was slimed with aging Oil last week.  You can see the pictures and the news report here at the Channel 5 website.

Jonathan Jones’ palm still has an oil mark. He says he emerged from the water after a brief swim in Gulf Shores with trace amounts of crude.

“We looked at it and kind of smeared it a bit and figured out it was oil,” says Jones. He says he had to bathe with dish soap to get it off. At first he was worried about dispersants but then he quickly calmed down.

“There are hundreds of people on this beach and no one else had this happen,” says Jones. It’s probably important to put what happened to Jonathan in perspective. This appears to be an isolated incident and the beaches are most certainly still open

Meanwhile, future troubles lurk too. MoJo has identified the BP Atlantis–something BostonBoomer has written about–as another ‘Ticking Time Bomb in the Gulf’.

Located 124 miles off the Louisiana coast, the Atlantis platform produces 200,000 barrels of oil daily, more than triple the amount of oil that spilled from the Horizon site each day. But long before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a whistleblowing former BP contractor tipped off regulators that the Atlantis may be violating the law, and environmental groups and members of Congress have been publicly questioning the platform’s safety ever since.

According to Kenneth Abbott, a former BP contractor who worked on the platform from 2008 through early 2009, more than 7,000 documents necessary to operate the platform safely are missing or incomplete. Abbott says the vast majority of the project’s subsea piping and instrument diagrams were not approved by engineers, and the safety systems are out of date. In practice, the lack of documentation on this platform would make it extremely difficult to respond in the event of an accident like the Deepwater Horizon blowout, critics say, because no one really has an accurate picture of the Atlantis’ design.

This seems to be the forgotten disaster and environmental disasters do not just disappear.  Down here, the big election

Tony Bologna apologizes endlessly in the new series of BP spoofs on South Park at Comedy Central.

story was between Vitter and Melancon and both were fighting over who could be the most welcoming to the drillers and spillers.  The MSM appeared more fixated on political personalities than issues.  The only program still properly fixated on the BP Gusher is South Park that has a completely hilarious bit where Tony continually apologizes and then keeps on with making worse decisions.  You can click on the picture to watch the episodes at Comedy Central or just the apology ad campaign send up.

If  you live down here were there are daily reports of “massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in the Gulf of Mexico”. This report on a sighting is dated from October 23, 2010.  That means it’s post well plugging.  Again, this is from the Times Picayune here in New Orleans.

Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.

The discovery, which comes as millions of birds begin moving toward the region in the fall migration, gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened.

The oil was sighted in West Bay, which covers approximately 35 square miles of open water between Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the river, and Tiger Pass near Venice. Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up. The captains said most of their sightings have occurred during stretches of calm weather, similar to what the area has experienced most of this week.

The Coast Guard is saying parts of it are just algae but frankly, I believe the captains of Louisiana’s Cajun/Creole fishing fleet. Again, this thing and its impact are not over by a long shot.  It’s absolutely necessary to continue to hold our elected officials and BP accountable for all the damage done and still happening to the ecosystem, wildlife, and people of the Gulf.