Posts Tagged ‘nalco’
In the Gulf of Mexico, the government serves two fundamental roles:
1. They are the protective savior, providing certain corporations and clean-up contractors legal cover for any consequences that might arise from the manufacture and use of poisonous products.
2. They are an overprotective savior, goose-stepping boogeymen who don’t know shit about marine life, and waste everyone’s time getting in the way of big oil and natural gas.
Man…it’s a damned if you do situation that’s almost enough to make one sympathetic towards the Obama administration…almost, but not quite.
Nalco, the makers of “safe as dish soap” Corexit, and other companies involved in cleaning up the oil filed a motion in Judge Barbier’s court asking the judge to dismiss them from liability because
their product is safe they were operating on behalf of the feds, and therefore feel they are entitled to immunity from any later health claims.
You see, Nalco only manufactured the stuff, it was the government and BP who actually used it, and that is not Nalco’s fault.
And you see, the clean-up companies only didn’t provide proper protective gear to cleanup workers, it was the government and BP who actually…uh provided…who uh, what, no? Look damnit, the clean-up contractors were working for the government and therefore feel they too should be given immunity from the consequences of all their bullshit money saving, PR working tactics to score contracts and make everyone happy, well, everyone except the actual workers.
Thank God that Plaintiff Steering Committee is in place to put a stop to this kind of corporate dodge. I mean, after the actions of the banks in ’08, what with their causing, then benefiting from the recession at the expense of so many, you just know the attorneys aren’t going to sit still and let yet another group of companies screw the people for their own financial benef…wait, what?
“In mid-February, the plaintiffs steering committee filed a motion saying that it believed that BP would ultimately be responsible for any health issues associated with responding to the spill, so it asked the court if it could remove the clean-up, responder and dispersant defendants from its complaint so it could concentrate on BP. The plaintiffs said that such a move would dismiss the companies from the litigation, but not let them entirely off the hook.”
The PSC filed to remove Nalco and the clean-up companies because going after all these companies would be too hard? Because they just wanted to focus on BP? What, are they not getting paid enough to handle such complexities?
Okay…okay…now true, the PSC did ask for dismissal without prejudice, meaning they can re- file against these companies later, but in doing so…didn’t they just help Nalco and the cleanup companies bolster their case for getting themselves dismissed “with prejudice,” or in other words, dismissed for real? It sure would seem so…the PSC takes a half-step and Nalco sees that half-step and raises them a full, all the while arguing they were just following orders, man…it ain’t them, it was the government. We didn’t tell the Feds to dump two million gallons of this poison into the Gulf, we just brought it in on tanker trucks. They asked. We delivered. Yes, right, and the banks were just trying to turn a profit under the law, they didn’t do anything wrong either.
Recession? What recession?
Cancer cluster? What cancer cluster?
Dolphin deaths off the Louisiana coast?
Huh? What dolphin deaths?
“From February 2010, NOAA has reported 180 dolphin strandings in the three parishes that surround Barataria Bay — Jefferson, Plaquemines and Lafourche — or about 18 percent of the 1,000 estimated dolphins in the bay. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it had found 32 dolphins in the bay underweight, anemic and showing signs of liver and lung disease. Nearly half had low levels of stress hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.
Lori Schwacke, a NOAA scientist, said the dolphins’ hormone problems could not definitely be tied to the oil spill but were “consistent with oil exposure.” Over the same period of time, NOAA says 714 dolphins and whales have been found stranded from the Florida Panhandle to the Texas state line, with 95 percent of those mammals found dead. Normally, the region sees 74 reported dolphin deaths a year.”
So then, it would appear that something is not only wrong in the courthouse, something is very wrong with the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, especially around Louisiana where the oil spill flowed the heaviest…and in response to all this death and dying, the feds stepped in to ban the seismic equipment used by oil and natural gas companies to find geologic deposits for drilling. These seismic surveys are done with air-guns that emit pulsing sounds known to disturb marine mammals and could also disrupt mother and calf bonding for the dolphins. Okay…government being cautious…good and how long is the ban in effect for? Just until the beginning of May when calving season ends.
Again…good, so everybody’s happy, right?
Of course not…
Global Geophysical Services Inc. the company being paid to do these surveys and therefore having no conflict of interest dispute the dangers of their testing, saying, “We see no hazard to them (the dolphins) whatsoever.”
Oh, okay…well there you have it then. The company also notes that since the government has stepped in with their new unnecessary regulations, they have had to lay off thirty people…so there. Man, just give it a day until Jindal’s giving a speech somewhere to talk about what a rat bastard Obama is…
What a drag to be a fed these days.
Not only should the government provide immunity to companies that manufacture poisons or perhaps lack proper cleanup gear, thus causing health problems for untold amounts of people, but the government should stop enforcing regulations that protect marine life in the same Gulf where all those toxic poisons were dumped.
Total drag, these two roles of government in the Gulf:
You exercise a lack of caution, companies demand you provide legal immunity.
You exercise any caution, companies demand you get out the way of big business because you’re costing money and jobs.
It’s gotta almost be enough for Obama to grab a seismic air-gun, march into Barbier’s courtroom and point it at not only the defendants, but the entire Plaintiff Steering Committee and I for one, wouldn’t mind if he did.
Hell, I might even meet him there to see if he’d let me pull the trigger.
That’s the one role I think I’d like to play.
Read the articles:
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When Ken Feinberg took over administration of BP’s $20 billion dollar fund, he stated many, many times one of his primary objectives was to keep people out of the court system…ahhhh yes, do you remember those halcyon days, back when the Macondo well had just been capped, when hope was beginning to spring eternal and Feinberg dove into the scene, promising claims offers bigger than any the court would ever consider?
It seemed in those days the only way a claimant could screw it up would be to commit the ultimate blasphemy…filing the lawsuit. And why do that?
No need, just fill out your paperwork, get to planning, get to fixing up your boats and cleaning and soon…you and the banks would be all good…
Feinberg was here, the overseer of your oil spill lottery! Lawsuits were for posers!
The second spill hit the Gulf Coast, the paper one created by creditors and banks issuing warnings, letters of non-payment, demands for their money, the money Feinberg wasn’t giving out because he was demanding more paperwork, more documentation, more, more, more and…denied!
Or maybe you took the quick pay, just to be done with the bastards…
Let it begin or should I say, continue…off to the courts!
“More than 100 people and businesses have filed a new lawsuit against BP, saying the company’s Gulf oil spill damaged their livelihoods. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on behalf of 122 plaintiffs, most from Terrebonne Parish. Since the Claims Facility was set up, there have been constant complaints from claimants of lost paperwork, slow processing times and low-ball payments…and creditors and banks have been demanding money fishermen and others haven’t been able to pay.
“Kenneth Feinberg does not want to pay for future damages,” Hutchinson (plaintiff attorney) said. “If you’re a fisherman who lost his entire income in 2010, it’s difficult to settle your claim for $25,000. It’s an insult.””
Hmm…I suppose whether it was an insult would depend completely on perspective…from what I keep reading, British Petroleum is back in the black, Ken Feinberg is raking in the money and even Nalco, makers of Corexit are doing pretty damned good…in fact, it would seem all the companies involved in damaging lives throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are doing just fine indeed…even Halliburton?
Maybe Feinberg has had a secret agenda all along.
Maybe he realized early on how he’d be unable to keep as many from the court system as he wanted, as his bosses at BP hoped…in fact, wait a minute, maybe Ken Feinberg has been a secret spy, a double agent from the get-go… maybe he figured along with making a ton of money for himself, he could finally do something about unemployment along the Gulf Coast…that harsh unemployment rate for lawyers.
Well, well, well…birds of a feather…
In any case, here’s betting Hutchinson won’t be the last attorney to file suit against BP as a result of Feinberg’s system…the GCCF’s meager payouts and problematic lack of transparency almost ensure it.
Read the article:
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Nalco, the makers of Corexit disperant, are on the line for what could be hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims with the company’s request for immunity being quashed yesterday in a ruling by US District Court Judge Carl Barbier.
The chemical company, whose product British Petroleum execs once called safe as dish soap had requested immunity from any lawsuit because they claimed to be just following orders from President Obama in giving the chemical to BP for use.
Barbier, however, called bullshit on that.
It turns out that whole disagreement between the EPA and British Petroleum on what dispersant to use might have consequences after all.
For those who’ve forgotten:
Judge Barbier writes:
“‘After the disaster, BP began implementing a disaster response plan to prevent oil from escaping the blown out well, to manually contain the oil, and to disperse oil in the water using Nalco’s chemical dispersants….”‘Upon information and belief, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, on or about April 23, 2010, BP began subsea and aerial application of chemical dispersants manufactured by Defendant Nalco to the resulting oil slicks and sheens on the surface of the Gulf.
“‘On or about May 19, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator directed BP within 24 hours of issuance to identify and to change to chemical dispersants that are less toxic than Nalco’s Corexit® dispersants BP had been using…On May 20, 2010, BP objected to changing dispersants and notified the EPA that it would continue using Nalco’s Corexit. BP and clean-up defendants used and, upon information and belief, continue to use the dispersants Corexit® 9500 and 9527 (more than 1.8 million gallons to date) to disperse the crude oil…”
You see, if the EPA hadn’t objected to BP’s use of Corexit, then Nalco would have automatic immunity, granted to them by legal provisions in both the government contractor defense and the Clean Water Act. But the EPA did object, ordering the company to find a less toxic alternative and British Petroleum, with financial connections to Nalco, said too bad, were using it anyway.
And whereas Nalco might be forgiven for mistaking BP for the government last summer, their role in the spray of their chemicals which, as the plaintiffs allege “may lead to serious problems, disease, and medical conditions’ and plaintiffs are at a ‘significantly increased risk of contracting serious latent disease,” is unforgivable.
And really, if your product is so safe, what the hell do you need immunity for anyway?
Read the article:
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In a great article about the GCCF, Riki Ott attacks both Feinberg’s recent declaration that he’s received no health related claims, and also how being the scientist he is, hasn’t seen any scientific evidence of the link between BP and Nalco’s chemicals and Gulf Coast sickness:
“Recently Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer overseeing the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility to “make it right” for people harmed by the British Petroleum oil blowout disaster, told a Louisiana House and Senate committee that he had not seen any claims, or any scientific evidence, linking BP’s oil and dispersant release to chemical illnesses. Feinberg also stated that chemical illnesses take years to show up — conveniently well after his tenure with the compensation fund.
Instead of tossing the media a juicy bone, Feinberg tossed a red herring. He is wrong at worst, or intentionally misleading at best, on all points.
The GCCF process makes it difficult for people to be compensated for medical claims or even raise illness claims, while making it easy to release claims and rights to future medical care and benefits for chemical illnesses or other medically-proven illness related to the BP blowout and disaster response…”
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Okay, so first we acknowledge the obvious:
Lawyers being lawyers, and British Petroleum having long since given up that whole “making things right,” and “actions, not words” schtick – at least in reality – of course BP is going to try to use every legal maneuver to pay as little as possible to anyone. Their company’s in trouble now that the Rosneft deal looks blown so yeah, that whole Gulf Coast thing…it’s one big financial/legal liability and since the media interest flags, it’s time for corporate law to rear the ugliest of heads to take the biggest bite they can…
So stated, let’s move on to the latest from British Petroleum’s attorneys in Judge Carl Barbier’s court, shall we?
Turns out (surprise) British Petroleum is of the legal opinion that the claims for economic and punitive damages as a result of their little ‘ol spill, including those who lost jobs/wages as a result of the drilling moratorium, including those first responders who got sick during the cleanup, including basically…everybody, should be summarily dismissed by Judge Barbier.
Because these people must go through Feinberg’s GCCF claims process, first.
That pesky Oil Pollution Act of 1990, that’s why. Andrew Langer, BP’s head legal talking head argues that OPA states claimants must first attempt to redress their grievances with the responsible party – BP, and if they are then denied by the responsible party, only then can they file a claim in court. Langer also claims the Oil Pollution Act supersedes maritime law, and since OPA doesn’t allow for the punitive damages allowed under maritime law, these claims must be dismissed as well.
Dismissed, just like that…upwards of 130,000 legal claims.
Judge Barbier gave no timeline on when he would rule on the matter, but perhaps Feinberg now should really want to hold off on closing all those GCCF claims offices, you know, just in case.
BP’s desire isn’t surprising, it makes sense they would want these people to go through the GCCF. Much as the oil company would like to control a United States court of law, they don’t, but the GCCF and Feinberg are a different matter. There they hold much more sway. Hell, their guy wrote the rules, the same man Judge Barbier already ruled can’t claim himself as independent of BP. Good ‘ol Ken, the lawyer whose law firm is paid $1.25 million dollars a month by BP. Way back when, the GCCF and Feinberg’s stated mission was to keep people out of court, but this didn’t entirely happen, especially when his “generous” payments turned out to not be so generous after all. So now British Petroleum argues Judge Barbier should rule in their favor and complete Feinberg’s mission for them, kick the claimants into BP’s court, where they can be delayed, stalled, and hopefully, so frustrated that some throw up their hands and take Feinberg’s “generous” claims instead of heading back into court to be delayed, stalled and frustrated anew by BP’s lawyers.
From a legal standpoint, it makes sense. What does British Petroleum really have to lose? Self respect? The goodwill of the Gulf Coast? Well, self-respect and goodwill ain’t worth a dime and this whole mess has appeared to be about the money for this company since day one.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, of course, disagree with BP, arguing OPA was created after the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill because legal remedies available at the time were insufficient. They further argue the companies involved in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon shouldn’t be able to now use OPA as a legal shield to escape punitive damages and throw these legal claims into the GCCF mess. Besides, the oil pollution act of 1990 doesn’t expressly declare an intent to displace maritime law, whereas other statutes that prevent punitive damages do specifically prohibit them.
Judge Barbier, who questioned both sides’ arguments, asked how it is he is supposed to go through the 130,000 cases to determine which should be thrown out and which should be allowed to proceed. Nobody seemed to have an answer on this, beyond saying such a process will be exceedingly time-consuming.
Even more so pehaps, then the GCCF’s claim process.
But British Petroleum wasn’t the only company to get in on this four-hour hearing, and all involved had an argument on why these pesky economic claims should be dismissed. Represented in court were Anadarko, Halliburton, Cameron International and Transocean. Transocean argued that since BP is the responsible party, economic claims should only be made against BP under OPA, and then it would be BP’s right to go after the other companies to pay their share. You see, the people have filed suit against the wrong companies in the wrong order.
In other words, much like Feinberg’s screaming about unsatisfactory documentation, all of the big companies on the hook here are claiming the businesses and the people of the Gulf Coast are doing it wrong, not adhering to the correct process, not filing suit against the right company, not going through the GCCF process first, where they would inevitably be unable to document their claims in the correct way.
Or in other, other words…the claimants, the victims in this colossal fuck-all, the right thing for them to do would be to do as they are told, hurry up and wait, and go back to a GCCF process many consider long since broken.
All unless Judge Barbier, much like finally declaring Feinberg not independent, sides again on behalf of the people so harmed by this disaster, a catastraphuk not of their own creation.
Oh, but that’s not all, there’s more…
On the drilling moratorium: BP also asked for a dismissal of the claims by people who lost jobs/wages as a result of the drilling moratorium, saying it was the government who declared the moratorium, not BP, so why are they at fault? According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the moratorium was something the government would reasonable feel was necessary when they realized, hey, those oil rigs aren’t as safe as we ignored/were led to believe and you know what? We don’t have the resources to fight off these kind of spills so we better do a safety check. The plantiffs’ attorneys are also guessing the moratorium wouldn’t have happened had the Deepwater Horizon not exploded and since, under OPA, BP is the responsible party…well…they should be liable because one plus one usually equals two.
Unless you’re watching the latest “making it right,” advertisement by British Petroleum.
Attorneys for Nalco were also in court, the makers of Corexit dispersant and they argued they should have immunity from damage claims by people who got sick inhaling their toxins because the Federal government was in charge of the response, and it was the federal government who chose to use Corexit, “This was a spill of national significance, which put all of the decision-making in the hands of the federal government,” said their attorney.
One might wonder if this attorney is referring to the same government whose EPA expressly ordered British Petroleum to stop using Corexit dispersant, only to have BP refuse…somehow equating BP’s ability to do as they wished throughout the spill response with the ability of the government to be in charge of all the decision-making.
There’s also the matter of all the private contractors who claim they deserve immunity too because they were doing cleanup under the same fully authoritative decision-making of the same federal government who had everyone listening intently on that whole Corexit deal. The plaintiffs’ attorneys in this case rightfully argued said contractors weren’t working for the government, they were hired by and working for BP and thus, why should they have immunity?
The entire hearing lasted a total of four hours and there’s more, but damn, my fingers are getting tired so perhaps I should just try wrapping this up:
British Petroleum, Transocean, Anadarko, Cameron International, Nalco…dismiss everything so we can better direct our funds to making things right for the Gulf Coast…
Residents and businesses of the Gulf Coast…get out of their way, you’re doing it wrong so go talk to Feinberg and he’ll tell you in no uncertain terms just how wrong you all are, while he painstakingly helps you to move on, being the loyal
neutral arbitrator that he is…
The lawyers? Well, they’re busy being lawyers…
But most importantly, Judge Barbier, it’s up to you now and I for one, hope your ruling continues the process of finally making things right for all the people along the Gulf Coast that British Petroleum has made so wrong.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
For over a year now, ever since the oil spilled, the Gulf Coast has suffered from a deluge of promises that have been left unfulfilled. We hear talk of making things right, of actions not words, various members of Congress and a President declare their disgust with British Petroleum but all the same, pass no bills to change the unfortunate status quo and make it any safer. Ken Feinberg promises to be more generous than British Petroleum, makes claims to neutrality…also false. Residents were told Nalco’s corexit dispersant was safe as dish soap, the seafood is just fine and everything will be right by 2013.
No, no and no…
So, what might it take to change things around?
What would be necessary for there to finally be real accountability in the Gulf of Mexico?
How about a 100,000 Cheri Foytlins?
In an excellent piece written by Sue Stergis and appearing in Facing South, much of Cheri’s story is told:
Cheri, a reporter in Louisiana, feared the stories of Gulf Coast residents weren’t being heard after the disaster began so she travelled to Gulf communities where pollution was washing ashore, only to return to her home in Louisiana, 150 miles west of New Orleans suffering from severe headaches and respiratory problems. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe bronchitis, and when she asked him to conduct tests to see if her illness was linked to chemical exposure, her doctor refused.
This led her to involvement with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), who did do the tests she requested and they found her blood levels of ethylbenzene were three times the national average. Ethylbenzene is a possible human carcinogen, linked to oil, and these results, along with her experiences led her into activism, determined to make the truth known.
And the truth is, it isn’t just oil in the water.
Corexit dispersant, used at unprecedented levels to combat the spill, also remains in the Gulf.
And a year later, the long-term effects of its use on people and the Gulf environment are as known today as they were when the Deepwater Horizon exploded…and that knowledge is scant at best. So where are the studies? “Organizational delays,” are being cited as reason why BP’s promised research funding has not yet been disbursed while the EPA, who has proposed additional research into dispersant toxicity and effectiveness for 2012 finds its agency on the Republican hit list, already facing $1.6 billion dollars in cuts.
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say British Petroleum, Nalco (the producers of Corexit) and the government who okayed the dispersant’s use are in any hurry for such evaluations to be conducted..
Like Cheri Foytlin, other activists are of course involved in the Gulf, everyone from Kindra Arnesen, to Riki Ott, to Dr. Wilma Subra. All have a story to tell, and all want the nation to know that this catastrophe is not over, far from it…
Riki Ott, who had experience dealing with the Exxon Valdez, came to the Gulf Coast and has also been working with LEAN, and she makes a very valuable point, “Figuring out what to do together is the key.” She is currently educating people on the common symptoms associated with chemical exposure, symptoms being seen throughout the Gulf, from residents to cleanup workers, all with a growing pile of medical bills on their kitchen tables.
And British Petroleum isn’t paying.
Some might argue British Petroleum has done their part, by being engaged in the cleanup, or by creating the $20 billion dollar escrow account to help pay claims, but this is of course only half the story. A long list of people who worked in the VOO cleanup program still wait to be paid. British Petroleum wrote off $13 billion dollars in clean up costs with the IRS this year, effectively rendering the claims payouts of only $4 billion so far, moot, especially when Ken Feinberg, the arbitrator of the claims process has said on several occasions it is his belief he can complete the claims process and return half of the $20 billion escrow account to BP.
$13 billion back in taxes. $10 billion back from their escrow account. $4 billion paid so far to claimants.
Foreclosures, lost jobs, a questionable fishing and seafood industry, mental health problems and the host of suspicious sicknesses occurring now along the Gulf Coast: BP’s claims to accountability are nothing more than a sick joke. And British Petroleum will of course, try to deny their actions have anything to do with Gulf Coast illnesses, despite…again, from Sue Sturgis:
Wilma Subra — an award-winning environmental chemist who works with LEAN — conducted environmental analyses to document spill-related contamination. She analyzed air monitoring test data and confirmed that Gulf Coast residents were being exposed to potentially dangerous levels of airborne contaminants. She also conducted independent tests that confirmed the presence of significant levels of oil pollution in coastal soils and plants as well as in sea life. She’s also been sampling the blood of cleanup workers and coastal residents — and finding unusually high levels of contaminants associated with petroleum pollution in people’s bodies. “We are gathering evidence that I don’t believe you can dismiss,” says Marylee Orr, LEAN’s executive director.
The plight of cleanup workers, a year later, is being realized in countless stories of workers toiling in 100 degree heat with no training and no respirators and now suffering from debilitating illness, with unpaid medical bills, all being blamed on exposure to oil and toxic dispersants. Cleanup workers are suffering from symptoms such as respiratory distress, memory loss, continuing heart palpitations, headaches, sore throats, rashes and coughs.
From Roosevelt Love:
“We worked 12 hours a day seven days a week picking up boom and cleaning up oil. I saw people who passed out from working out there. But we were told not to complain or talk to the press about it or we would be fired. You started to feel like you were being used.”
From Janet Hennessey:
“It made me sick,” Janet says. “I often would have to stop while driving to work and vomit on the side of the road. We had to clean up the oil and maggots and algae would be all over the place. There were hundreds of people working there. And we never saw a respirator.” Janet says she still feels sick and she fears that the oil she brought home on her clothes may have contributed to health problems her granddaughter now experiences.
All healthy people previously, all sharing one thing in common, cleanup along the Gulf Coast…yet their medical bills remain unpaid.
This is not accountability, and it demands that people affected be heard.
Cheri Foytlin, to draw attention to the illnesses occurring in the Gulf, recently walked from New Orleans to Washington DC. There she joined a group that presented BP with a bill for $9.9 billion dollars. And now, Cheri knows this fight will have to go on…
“We’re going to keep fighting,” says Foytlin. “This is going to be a lifelong project for me.”
And it will have to be…
British Petroleum, in no small part due to their tax write-offs are again making profits…and by their own projections, will be back in the Gulf of Mexico drilling for oil before the year is over. It’s quickly becoming business as usual for a company that devastated an entire region and continues to shrug off its responsibilities, actions allowed to happen by a government that despite a lot of angry words and condemning speeches, accomplished nothing to require the oil extraction to be any safer.
Masses of people, activists and those so harmed may be the only thing the government and British Petroleum are finally forced to listen to…and I suspect angry masses of people might also assist the thousands of residents who still wait for word from Feinberg… and wonder when/if they can get back to business as usual like British Petroleum has so successfully done. They also might wonder why the promises made over the past year by the corporations and their politicians have turned out to be just one more batch of oil sunk by one more round of disperants, the promises may linger in mind but they were quickly disappeared into the Gulf, even as the waves still bring tar balls ashore.
What the Gulf needs is 100,000 more Cheri Foytlins, people working together to bring those promises back…
Until then, all we got is more waiting…
If interested, contact:
Also, read this piece by the American Zombie:
Have a nice day.