Disenfranchised Citizen

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

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times

So which is it…BP drills again or no? Permits or no? Vitter’s an idiot or no?

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The flag behind him means he's patriotic, the wedding ring means he's married and his open mouth means he likes to tell almost everybody he's both married and patriotic.

BP says this, the government says that…and then, David Vitter says what?

According to two British newspapers, the Financial Times and the Sunday Times, British Petroleum could be coming back to the Gulf this July…or will they? A government spokeswoman said the government had reached no agreement and no permits are in the offing, but the New York Times reports negotiations are underway with BP exchanging stricter government oversight for rights to again bore holes into the Gulf of Mexico’s sea floor.

Course, that new oversight could be only so much spilled milk as David Vitter this past week released the GOP’s alternative to Barack Obama’s energy plan which among other things would…

“Include some new provisions, including one designed to, in Vitter’s words, “properly limit” the time frame for environmental and judicial review of drilling permits. It would require any party wanting to challenge a federal drilling permit to do so within 60 days, with no chance to later add another legal challenge. It would limit court review to six months, and force litigants appealing a District Court ruling to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejects the vast majority of appeal filings.”

The GOP plan is fittingly called the “3-D act: Domestic jobs, Domestic energy and Deficit reduction act of 2011.” 3-D, as in what an illusion.

So, to sum up:

BP may be drilling again in the gulf this summer, depending on an agreement that has not been reached which would allow greater oversight that Louisiana Senator David Vitter proposes to end, you know, to save jobs that were lost when poor governmental oversight helped result in BP fucking up the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Okay, well…in the world of Gulf Coast predators and their enablers, that sounds about right.

Have a nice day.

“Tremendous” oil spill!

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Dumb and Dumber

So, when you saw footage of the Deepwater Horizon explosion or the oil blasting out of the Macondo Well, what did you think about it?

The New York Times described it this way:

Dazed and battered survivors, half-naked and dripping in highly combustible gas, crawled inch by inch in pitch darkness, willing themselves to the lifeboat deck. . . . Crew members, certain they were about to be cooked alive, scrambled into enclosed lifeboats for shelter, only to find them like smoke-filled ovens.”

Well, that would be one perspective (from those alarmists on the liberal left), however Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tx) saw things differently. He described it kinda like…no, he described it exactly like this:

As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion.

Yeah, I’m too cynical in my beliefs and opinions…how about if I mentioned that Mr. Hall is about to become the chair of the House Science and Technology committee.

Brilliant.

Have a nice day.

A Few Thoughts About Wikileaks…

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National Security's newest enemy, keep a look out...

For anyone not following the story, Wikileaks has begun to publish more than 250,000 secret State Department documents on its website, in one of the largest leaks of classified information in history. Previous to their release, the documents were shown to the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel and several weeks ago, they were also shown to the US government who were given opportunity to help edit and comment. The US government declined, and the White House responded, “To be clear — such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government.”

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, commented on this refusal in a letter to the State Department “I understand that the United States government would prefer not to have the information that will be published in the public domain and is not in favor of openness…that said, either there is a risk or there is not…you have chosen to respond in a manner which leads me to conclude that the supposed risks are entirely fanciful and you are instead concerned to suppress evidence of human rights abuse and other criminal behavior.”

In publishing the documents, The New York Times wrote, “The question of dealing with classified information is rarely easy, and never to be taken lightly. Editors try to balance the value of the material to public understanding against potential dangers to the national interest…The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security. The Times’s redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit the documents they planned to post online.”

So, what do the documents say?

A number of things, but to explore this would not be what is most on my mind this morning, so feel free to check it out yourself:

Wikileaks US Embassy Cables: New Documents Released – HuffingtonPost

State’s Secrets – New York Times

The US Embassy Cables – Guardian

What is on my mind this morning is the US governments desire to have things both ways, oftentimes at the expense of its citizens in the name of “National Security,”  and how Wikileaks release of the cables effectively does what an American citizen is unable to do, shine a light on a government that seems to no longer feel it is accountable for its actions.

Since 9-11, government abuse of privacy and civil rights in our country has sped up to an alarming degree. Illegal wiretapping, infiltration and monitoring of activist groups including the prior arrests of citizens in New York and Denver before national political conventions, the government monitors the internet, shuts down websites without court order…etc, all in the name of business and National Security. We have our citizens being spied on, inadvertently put on no-fly lists, intrusively screened and patted down at airports, being told they can’t get within shouting distance of politicians and in many other ways restricted, all with little to no recourse at all.

Wars are begun in Afghanistan and Iraq. People are illegally extradited. Large financial institutions are bailed out with our money while the same financial institutions illegally foreclose on our homes, in process making even more money while the government does nothing to stop it. In the Gulf of Mexico there is an alarming and growing health crisis as a result of chemical poisoning from the BP oil spill and the government simply pretends it isn’t happening. Katrina killed well over a thousand people and though everyone knew the levees had been suspect for years, the government did nothing about it and seemingly even less when they broke. We now have torture in this country, we are lied to every day and encouraged to feel afraid by politicians who dismissively speak the phrase, “It’s a new world,” and then justify all by telling us “we don’t understand the real dangers,” all while a complicit media agrees to being embedded with troops, accompanied by the National Guard in New Orleans, and in the Gulf told to get on board or get out.

And we as citizens have no recourse.

The Freedom of Information Act has been gutted, thus enabling the government to be even more secretive as to what it is doing, leaving any concerned American citizen in the dark, and time and time again we are told the same thing:

Its about our safety.

Its about National Security.

All of these arguments hold the same water these days as a parent telling a child to do or not do something, simply because the parent “told you so.” The American government has become so accustomed to manageable reaction, they now engage freely in these acts of lazy parenting where we are told our patriotic duty is not to question, but instead go shopping.

So Wikileaks comes along and does what none of us has been able to do, they shine a flashlight on the whole damn thing by exposing our unvarnished foreign policy goals, our comments about various leaders, our diplomats unfiltered opinions about the actions of our government, their successes, their failures and their embarrassments.

Already various members of Congress are calling for Wikileaks to be declared a terrorist operation as a result of this release because it is, of course, harmful to National Security.

Well, as an ignorant child, I would guess it is not my place to speculate but should I get too upset and decide to throw a tantrum in the aisles of Wal-Mart, I might so respond to these same politicians how they should hope no inside staffer gets a bug far enough up his ass that they go after their secrets and expose them to the country, because as a Guardian columnist writes about the Embassy Cable release: “Clearly, there is no longer such a thing as a safe electronic archive, whatever computing’s snake-oil salesmen claim. No organization can treat digitized communication as confidential. An electronic secret is a contradiction in terms.”

And I’d also like to think, like any child growing up, eventually “because I said so,” will finally stop working and the parent must at last begin to explain their reasoning to every American citizen.

Have a nice day.

Dear Google, you net-neutrality killing, betraying son of a bitch…

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Google, they brought you into this world, and they'll take it out

The internet as we know it will begin a slow death on Monday, as this is the day that Google is set to announce a deal with Verizon, one that will create the first tiered system on the Internet. Right now, all is equal, all sites moving at the same speed, regardless of content where the consumers choose which sites will be successful, but this deal “could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.”

Net-neutrality has been the operating principle since the internet’s inception and the telecoms have been trying to erase it for years. They argue that since they control the wires, they should have the choice on which traffic goes at what speed, but internet advocates beg to differ, “The point of a network neutrality rule is to prevent big companies from dividing the Internet between them,” said Gigi B. Sohn, president and a founder of Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group. “The fate of the Internet is too large a matter to be decided by negotiations involving two companies, even companies as big as Verizon and Google.”

This will turn the internet into your cable company, pay for this tier of channels, pay for HBO, Skinemax, the cable company choosing what will be offered…and then the  providers have to pay the cable companies to be part of their packages.

Right now, you click on this site and it will move just as quickly as if you clicked on Wal-Mart, all voices are heard, equally. If net-neutrality disappears, this will no longer be the case. Internet traffic will be routed faster to the websites that Verizon chooses, and if Verizon gets this deal done, the other telecoms will surely follow.

And yes, that means it’s over.

The internet will become clear channel as independent voices aren’t necessarily squashed, but they will be thrown to the margins, relegated to the long forgotten routes through long forgotten towns while those willing to pay thrive on the interstate.

How did this happen? In an article by Josh Silver, he explains:

We have a Federal Communications Commission that has been denied authority by the courts to police the activities of Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast. All because of a bad decision by the Bush-era FCC. We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision, conducting back room dealmaking, and willing to sit on his hands rather than reassert his agency’s authority. We have a president who promised to “take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality” yet remains silent. We have a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry. Yes, more than half of the US congress will do pretty much whatever the phone and cable companies ask them to. Add the clout of Google, and you have near-complete control of Capitol Hill.

Google, the company that advocates internet freedom, time and time again has sold us all out for profit. If Verizon and Google are allowed to kick down this door it will never be closed again and in this day and age where independent voices have been run off the radio, television and thrown out of publishing companies, the internet is all that’s left for free discourse, and some would argue, this is a large part of the point, more consolidation, more power and profit…less trouble from those who don’t follow the company line…

Google…ever been stabbed in the back by your brother?

Please contact your elected representatives…if the outcry isn’t huge, this deal will go through…

The FCC won’t stop it and who the hell can depend on Barack Obama?

Read the article…

Google-Verizon, the end of the internet as we know it

Join…

Save the Internet

Don’t have a nice day…

Get Angry.

BP: A history of disaster, a culture of empty words

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Thunder Horse Rig - Almost a Disaster

A great article in the New York Times explores BP’s track record of disaster, safety violations, and maximum profits at high risk, all the while claiming safety is their number one priority. Much like the talking head politicians on Sunday morning talk-shows, or television and radio programs by your Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s, Tony Hayward seems to believe that just because you say something, and say it often, it will be true. In a recent memorandum to his employees that touched on BP’s improving safety record, Tony claimed, “This (Deepwater Horizon BP Catastraphuk) accident has been a terrible exception to that trend and we must learn the lessons from it, but at the same time, it does not invalidate all the hard work you have put in to improve our safety standards around the world. Safety is our first priority. It will remain so.”

First priority? Jesus, I’d hate to see what might happen if it was your second or third. Problem is Tony, a number of facts kind of get in the way of your memorandum, consider:

March 23rd, 2005, at their Texas City Refinery an explosion killed 15 and injured 170. Two months before the accident, a consulting firm named the Telos Group hired to examine conditions at the plant had this to say “We have never seen a site where the notion ‘I could die today’ was so real.” An investigation after the explosion found more than 300 safety violations and BP paid 21 million in fines. Four years later, OSHA inspected the same plant at Texas City and this time, found more than 700 safety violations; BP was ordered to pay 87 million in fines this time, a judgment currently under appeal.

2005: Another oil rig, the Thunder Horse in the Gulf of Mexico almost sank, caused by an improperly installed check valve. When the rig heated up during a hurricane, instead of water being pumped out, the rig flooded, listed dangerously and almost sank. While BP was repairing the damages, they discovered ominous cracks and breaks in the welding throughout the platform caused by bad performance and previously missed. Had the well been started, the cracks would have broken and oil would have poured into the Gulf. Yeah, that’s right: Deepwater Horizon would have been the second time BP did this to the Gulf of Mexico.

2006: In Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 267,000 gallons oil leaked from BP’s pipelines, the worst spill on Alaska’s north slope in history. BP paid 20 million dollars in fines.

March, 2010: OSHA found 62 violations in an Ohio BP refinery.

May 25th, 2010: BP created the third largest spill on the Trans-Alaska pipeline system, caused by a power failure; it dumped 200,000 gallons of oil.

And lest we forget:

April 20th, 2010: Deepwater Horizon explodes…11 dead and on Day 84, still going strong.

Deepwater Horizon - the Legend - the Champion

There are different takes on the culture and policies of the company of course – BP’s, and everybody else’s.

In the article, BP Public Relations guru, Scott Dudley is quoted, saying it was unfair to blame cultural failings at BP for the string of accidents, “Everyone realized we had to operate safely and reliably, particularly in the U.S., to restore a reputation that was damaged by the accident at Texas City,” he said. “So I don’t accept, and have not witnessed, this cutting of corners and the sacrifice of safety to drive results.”

But as I mentioned, not everybody feels the same:

“Senior management told us they are very serious about safety, but we observed that they haven’t translated their words into safe working procedures and practices, and they have difficulty applying the lessons learned from refinery to refinery or even from within refineries,” said David Michaels, an OSHA administrator.

Congressional Representative, Henry Waxman, whose committee is investigating the Deepwater Horizon accident, also has a different view than BP. When Mr. Hayward testified a month ago, Waxman had this to say “There is a complete contradiction between BP’s words and deeds. You were brought in to make safety the top priority of BP. But under your leadership, BP has taken the most extreme risks.” “BP cut corner after corner to save a million dollars here and a few hours there,” Mr. Waxman said. “And now the whole Gulf Coast is paying the price.”

And now, British Petroleum is expanding their refinery at Whiting, Indiana which already has had hundreds of violations; they are trying to get permission to do both directional drilling under Lake Michigan and exploratory drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bully…what me, worry?

Read the article:

At BP, a History of Boldness and Costly Blunders – New York Times – Sarah Lyall, Clifford Krauss and Jad Mouawad

And have a nice day…

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