Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

Archive for November 2011

Sitting at the kid’s table…

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You can't handle the truth...

Time magazine, in honor of Thanksgiving dinners across the country, felt it appropriate to put its American readers at the kids table this week, giving them a cover they could handle while the rest of the world got the real news, the scary stuff…

So, in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, their readers were greeted with a cover depicting the ongoing struggles in Egypt, demonstrated by a photo of a revolutionary, who stands in defiance of their miliary and still forming government, demanding democracy.

In America, we got a cover story about how anxiety is actually good for us…

And this is probably a good thing considering our politicians don’t listen to the people, they listen to think tanks…our police departments are now militarized and in many major cities, assaults, murders and even rape investigations are given lower priority than drug cases, which make money for police departments…oh, and our state leaders are trying to push through a settlement with the major banks over their fraudulent foreclosure practices that will do nothing to help the victims of their fraud…and again, no one in the banking industry sees the inside of a jail cell…

Our democracy is the dog and pony show for those who purchased their own rule of law.

So yeah, Time magazine would certainly not want Americans, in light of the growing unrest in this country, to be greeted by images of what some people outside this country are doing, are seeing as a solution to many of the same problems being experienced here, in America, where truth and reality exist as someone else’s version, the correctness of which can only be confirmed by big media outlets owned by those with a vested interest in keeping the vast majority of people powerless.

It’s a closed system they don’t want opened…but it is time to open it…

Get involved in your community, discuss your own versions of the truth, and your own solutions and then make your own demands…and don’t stop. What’s the worst that can happen, maybe a little less isolation and the realization that you can work with your neighbors to make your lives better?

Hell, we all might even wind up a lot more empowered…and a little less anxious.

Have a nice day.

BP, Batman and the Joker’s natural oil seeps…

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So when British Petroleum says...

Okay…so riddle me this Batman:

In August, fresh oil slicks are discovered near the Macondo well site. BP denies they are there. The Coast Guard denies they are there. Bonnie Shumaker, pilot for Wings of Care flies out and takes pictures, proving the oil is there. BP then admits the oil is there as does the Coast Guard, after confirming BP admitted it too, but both say the oil is not from the Macondo reservoir. Then reporters from the Alabama Press Register take a boat out to the slicks, take samples, have it tested and sure enough, it is from the Macondo reservoir.

Hmm…

BP responds to this by sending an ROV down to look at the well-head. They don’t release the video, but they assure everyone still paying attention the well-head isn’t leaking, nope…not at all…it must be residual oil being released from the collapsed pipes and equipment on the seafloor. In response, Transocean sends an ROV down to check the collapsed pipes and equipment and says…nope, no oil leaking from there.

Hmm…

And this month, BP denies they are still checking into this oil. Then a pilot flies over, and confirms several large oil-related vessels operating at the surface above the Macondo well. BP says…oh, those ships, and yes, they then confirm they are conducting a study to track the oil from seabed to surface.

Track what from where?

In an emailed statement late Friday, a representative from BP verified that several vessels are in the vicinity of the Macondo well: “There are several vessels there participating in a study of natural oil seeps. This study has been ongoing for the past month or so. Data continues being collected and we provided an update on the natural oil seeps at the SETAC [Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry] conference in Boston this week. … The study is documenting the specific locations of these seeps and is seeking to track oil flow from seabed to surface,” BP wrote.

Natural oil seeps?

To which Stuart Smith, a New Orleans attorney replies:

If there are seeps in the area, they are not natural. I can assure you of that. BP was required to conduct a seafloor survey prior to applying for a permit to drill. If these seeps were not discovered during the survey – which they apparently weren’t – they must be related to the disaster and the heavy-handed methods used to attempt to seal the well.

To which BP quickly responds:

When we used the word “natural,” we meant it in the way that plastic surgery is meant to “naturally” erase the effects of aging, a bit of botox, a brow-lift, a cheekbone implant, a face-lift, a slight ear raise, and then the smallest of nose jobs…and voila! The seafloor is naturally leaking oil, natural as a smile from Jack Nicholson’s Joker…

Or in other words…

Robin: “Natural” is to nature, like animals are in nature and animals have fat…and this fat can be used to make soap and when we use soap, we typically are trying to remove dirt from our skin and what is skin but a part of the human body which is composed of 70% water, water like what’s found in the Gulf of Mexico…and all that Gulf water is above the seafloor…the seafloor! So what does it mean, Batman?”

Batman: “Obviously Boy Wonder, it means we need to have done what Stuart Smith suggests…a full survey of the seafloor around the Macondo Well so we will finally know what the hell is going on down there…”

Drake: “Seriously, how many times does BP get to creatively tell the truth?”

Read the article:

Breakthrough in the Macondo Mystery: BP Admits to New Activity at Deepwater Horizon Site

Have a nice day.

The hardest political choice…

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Yeah, I gotta hard choice for ya...

Compassion…

That’s right, compassion… I keep hearing politicians talk about hard choices, about tough decisions and being realistic…you know, their usual line and all of it typically means only one thing…but I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Let me start over…

So, few days ago I was blocking traffic on a bridge as part of a national day of action. Good time, didn’t necessarily agree with the tactic but felt it important enough to be a part of the overall message, the anger at the destruction wrought by income inequality in this country, the idea that people, wealthy people and corporations need to pay their fair share for a society they reap untold benefit from yet seem to feel they have little to no responsibility towards, this despite all the assistance they get, be it the use of roads, protection from the police, fire, maybe even generous financial subsidies from the government. Would seem pretty simple. If society goes to shit, wealthy people and corporations are going to be affected same as anybody else…perhaps not as severe but affected nonetheless. In any case, on the bridge, good feelings of doing something active, being a part of things and making a positive choice, myself and everybody else made a choice to be on that bridge…don’t know what everybody else gave up but I gave up needed sleep, some time to myself and it turned the better part of my day into a rush job so I could get back to work: third shift all night talking to and assisting people who have reached their end of it, either with thoughts of suicide, or actual attempts…and that night, like last night, like tonight…finances are a tremendous stressor and in these hard financial times, this is precisely when many people need help the most…but then, in between my time on the bridge and going to work I read in the news about how the mayor has passed a new budget, and surprise, surprise…the talk is about “hard choices,” about an “honest budget,” and while he and the city council talk solemnly about their honesty…they lie their asses off, either that or they are absolute bastards and either way, it doesn’t speak much to any of their character.

Why?

Simple…

Their “hard choices” meant they chose to close budgetary holes by attacking the needs of the poor and middle class.

These politicians chose to privatize city health clinics, thus ensuring fewer people get medical care and those that do,wait longer…all so someone else gets a profit and the city saves money. They chose to close half of the city’s mental health clinics, thus ensuring people with mental health issues either cannot get treatment or also must wait much longer. They also chose to lay off people working the 911 lines, this ensuring people who call for help, they too will wait longer…and they chose much more…higher city fees and penalties which will affect those of meager means far more than their wealthier neighbors…and by neighbors, I mean the people who live on the other side of town, far away.

These austerity measures are the politicians’ “hard choices,” for their “honest budget,” but in truth, there wasn’t anything hard about it at all. That’s just a vernacular they use at get togethers, or with the press to make themselves feel better for the damage they cause to real people.

You see, these politicians have been making these choices for forty fucking years and these politicians, and the corporations and the wealthy? They are the ones who benefit the most from these “hard choices.” Everybody else? Yeah, screwed just a little more, year after year after year…budget cut after cut after cut… The only way these choices would really be hard for the politicians who make them is if they truly cared about those who suffered as a result, but I would argue they don’t care, not really for if they did they simply wouldn’t do it. They would raise taxes, they would cut spending on subsidies for wealthy corporations, they would do a number of things that might even be the kind of hard choices to jeopardize their future electability…all in the name of compassion, and doing the right, moral thing.

Yes, compassion is the hard choice, the choice they are unwilling to make…and because of that people will suffer.

Some who are mentally ill will lose jobs, alienate family, abuse drugs and alcohol, or only receive treatment in prison where some will wind up as a result of their symptoms and what they do to alleviate them, which is especially sad as the city will pay more to lock them up then they would to provide treatment in the first place. Some people will die from physical illness or perhaps not go to the doctor until their ailments grow far worse and even more expensive, again to the city. Longer response time for 9-11 calls…again, suffering and some will die.

How many degrees of separation need to occur before these politician can sleep at night, distancing themselves emotionally from the blood on their hands as a result of their ballyhooed “honest budget?”

Hard to say, you’d have to ask the politicians themselves, but not just the politicians in my city, go across the country because these same decisions are happening nation wide and the same people are suffering as a result throughout the entire country.

Oh…but some will say we just can’t afford compassion anymore.

Yeah? Why is that?

I know…because for the past thirty plus years, politicians have been deregulating the markets, signing free trade agreements that are anything but, deregulating the banks and lowering tax rates on the wealthiest all so they can get elected, and as a result all the money that used to be used to pay for people, for compassion has been concentrated, hoarded, moved out of the country by the constituents these politicians actually do care about…the people who are not you or me and certainly not anyone who needs anymore help…They only really care about the job creators, those same job creators who aren’t creating any jobs…

And how long until this bullshit charade ends in the United States?

I don’t know…look in the mirror and ask yourself that question, because it really is up to you, up to all of us…and we’re all going to have to be patient in this fight because great change takes a long time…so if you’re game, settle in and let’s rebuild a nation that again gives a damn about the people living in it, and when this fight is over, it will be worth it…and if you have kids they’ll thank you for your trouble…everybody will except the 1% that loves it the way it is now…

Just a thought.

Oh, and on a more personal note…

Rahm?

You are truly pathetic and it’s easy to see how you were Obama’s chief of staff…the both of you only pay lip service to helping those who need it…especially around election time you lying sons of bitches…

And Boeing?

I lived in Seattle back when you played your corporate lottery to see which city would give you the sweetest deal for the headquarters of your corporate offices. Yeah just the latest company at the time to play community blackmail, thus forcing “hard choices” and “honest budgets” so you can line your coffers with blood money. You were a part of Seattle’s history and once a vital part of its community and identity, and you just betrayed them for profit.

Oh, and Twitter?

The progressive company…right. You threatened San Francisco with moving your company out of the city until they gave you a huge break on payroll taxes amongst other goodies that cost the city millions, all the while the city is forced to cut back on services, cut bus routes, cut, cut, cut…but hey, as long as you greedy assholes and frauds are getting wealthier…who cares, right?

Okay then, everybody else…

Have a nice day.

Revoke BP’s probation: patterns don’t lie…

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The problem, and it ain't getting better...

In Alaska, whereas they have not suffered a spill as extreme as the one the company unleashed on the Gulf Coast, they have become quite familiar with this oil company’s pattern of negligence, their complete focus on profits and the willingness to let lawyers attempt to clean up the messes left behind by their poor safety conduct. Now, federal prosecutors are asking a judge to revoke BP’s probation from a conviction in 2007, stating the company is a recidivist offender and repeatedly, negligently discharges oil into the environment.

The hearing will be on November 29th in Anchorage…where surely they will examine:

Prosecutors said in their brief that BP’s history of environmental crimes in Alaska began in February 2001 when it pleaded guilty to releasing hazardous materials at its Endicott facility on the North Slope. The company was fined $500,000, placed on probation for five years and ordered to create a nationwide environmental management program, prosecutors said.

The March 2006 spill of 200,000 gallons of crude (in Prudhoe Bay) was caused by corrosion, and BP’s leak detection system failed to notice it, prosecutors said. The company’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act in 2007 resulted in three years of probation, a $12 million fine, and restitution and community service payments totaling $8 million to the state of Alaska and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, BP attorneys said.

Prosecutors contend BP violated the conditions of its probation by allowing the 2009 spill from an 18-inch pipe moving oil, water and gas from drill pads to BP’s Lisburne Processing Center. That spill, prosecutors said, leaked 13,500 gallons of oil onto tundra and wetlands. “This rupture was the result of a predictable and preventable freezing of produced water within the pipeline that caused the pipe to over-pressurize and burst,” prosecutors said. It was eerily similar to the 2006 spill, prosecutors alleged, because BP ignored alarms that warned of the pipe’s eventual rupture and leak. The 2009 spill also followed a similar pipe freezing and rupture in 2001, they said, and BP failed to put in place preventative measures that their own experts recommended.

Prosecutors said the spill site directly abuts Prudhoe Bay and the damaged wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act. They also contend the spill criminally violated state pollution laws because of BP negligence.

It should be noted for those in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, it is expressly this type of pattern that BP recently requested be rendered inadmissible in the trial for the events concerning the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, asking Judge Barbier to exclude not only these convictions, but the convictions surrounding the explosion of their oil refinery in Texas City which killed several workers…because such facts are, you know, prejudicial and shows British Petroleum’s irresponsible and unsafe actions to be well, irresponsible and unsafe.

Barbier has yet to give his decision on the matter, but along with hoping BP’s probation is revoked, here’s hoping Judge Barbier recognizes it’s time for this company, finally, to really pay for their horrendous actions, for their record to be laid bare in the court and for them to pay not only through the nose, but every other available orifice, two times.

But you know, I fear even that won’t be enough.

Eleven men died on the Deepwater Horizon. Fifteen died and over 170 were injured in the explosion of BP’s refinery at Texas City.

Some court of law, somewhere, some time needs to send some of these bastards to prison: two explosions – twenty-six people dead.

Jail does need to happen. It’s the only way BP’s behaviors will change, simply because if these pricks can afford to throw out $20 billion, (how much of which are U.S. government subsidies?) to pay damages for the consequences of their behavior, how else will they understand the criminality of their actions until the people of the Gulf Coast and Alaska can finally line-up on visiting day and take their turns spitting in the face of those convicted for the actions leading to the death of their loved ones and the destruction of their environment and livelihoods?

Because right now, the only thing BP’s getting for their behavior is more money.

So for the jail thing, I pick Bob and Tony.

I know, a no-brainer, but what can I say? I like to keep it simple, and I’m thinking rather than continue making millions of dollars in salary, these two begin to pay for their negligence, and for their lies and their pattern of violence against the people of the United States, and environment we live in.

It’s a thought…

Read the article:

BP Alaska Probation: Prosecutors Seek To Revoke 2007 Ruling

Have a nice day.

BP and Zucotti Park, the divide ain’t just about money…

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Nope, nothing at all, because we told you so...

Last summer, when the Macondo Well was still flowing, the US government allowed British Petroleum to keep the press out of the immediate, oil impacted areas. A number of reasons were given at the time…encroachment on private property, safety of cleanup workers, or keeping press boats from running over boom meant to contain the oil.

These reasons were all bullshit, of course.

Hell, at first they even tried to deny they were attempting a media blackout, but what it all comes down to is a private company, with government ascent was allowed to restrict the rights of the press, thus negating much information and imagery that we, as American citizens have a right to read and witness, to be informed about.

And this media blackout is not an anomaly, it is part of a larger overall pattern, evidenced again by the eviction from Zucotti Park of the Occupy Wall Street protestors. When the NYPD entered the park, they also attempted to keep the media out, keep them from documenting the raid:

At a news conference after the park was cleared Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the police behavior, saying that the media was kept away “to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press.”

Some members of the media said they were shoved by the police. As the police approached the park they did not distinguish between protesters and members of the press, said Lindsey Christ, a reporter for NY1, a local cable news channel. “Those 20 minutes were some of the scariest of my life,” she said. Ms. Christ said that police officers took a New York Post reporter standing near her and “threw him in a choke-hold.”

Journalists were arrested, pepper-sprayed and beaten by the police, to keep them safe, protected, out of harms way…again, bullshit. It was an obvious attempt to hide what the police were doing, and how they were doing it. Much like British Petroleum tried to keep images of the oil spill from the mainstream press, or limit them however they could to better enable BP to construct the narrative, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD do a similar thing, keeping images from the press knowing full well that more images of the NYPD beating down or pepper spraying protestors would provoke greater sympathy and hamstring their ability to say whatever they like about how the events occurred.

Facts and law are not important…in fact, laws are mere guidelines, something for lawyers to argue about later…

Laws are something for the people to follow, not for those who see themselves in charge…

Press freedom and the rights entailed therein are handed down, controlled from on high – not from the courts, but by larger business interests, politicians and their police departments…

Yes, the great wealth divide in this country is not just about money and who has it, it’s also about who must follow the rule of law, who gets to be heard and by whom and who gets to be on the blunt end of the ongoing militarization of this country’s police departments.

From British Petroleum to Michael Bloomberg to one more police beat down of Berkeley college students…at what point do the laws of this country protect us and our freedoms, instead of protecting those who move so quickly to take these freedoms away in order to protect themselves?

Have a nice day.

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