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…”
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:
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.
You really didn’t think they’d just give up without a fight.
Transocean, the owners of the Deepwater Horizon is reportedly at odds with British Petroleum, accusing the company of not turning over evidence for Transocean’s own investigation of the oil rig’s explosion, while the NOAA, despite congressional demand is refusing to release their data and methodology for the much maligned government study that produced the 74 % of the oil “gone” numbers. As public doubts about what is right and what is wrong, what is factual and what is fraud continue to churn in the Gulf of Mexico’s waters, it would seem that what residents of the Gulf Coast need is factual reassurance from two of the main players in the oil spill and it’s cleanup. They want to understand what happened and what is happening, but if these stories are any indication the government and corporate officials involved have set their own timetable and with the media spotlight back on and bright, this timetable appears to be one of delay.
Transocean Accuses British Petroleum of Withholding Key Evidence:
The British periodical, Daily Mail recently reported that BP declared itself innocent of gross negligence after an internal inquiry by British Petroleum into the actions of British Petroleum, proved to British Petroleum they were not at fault in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. If the company is found guilty of gross negligence by someone who disagrees with their verdict, the fine per barrel of oil released into the Gulf would quadruple, and the company plans to use their findings to defend themselves in upcoming hearings led by the US Government.
Transocean, the actual owner of the rig is also attempting their own investigation, but feels this process is being hampered by BP’s refusal to release critical evidence.
From the AP:
In a sternly worded letter to BP’s attorneys, Transocean said the oil giant has in its sole possession information key to identifying the cause “of the tragic loss of eleven lives and the pollution in the Gulf of Mexico,” and that the company’s refusal to turn over the documents has hampered Transocean’s investigation and hindered what it has been able to tell families of the deceased and state and federal investigators about the accident.
“This is troubling, both in light of BP’s frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation, and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any entity other than BP from investigating the cause of the April 20 incident and the resulting spill,” the letter said.
In a briefing before British Petroleum’s shareholders last June, former BP CEO Tony Hayward told of how he felt it was important for the company to share the “initial perspectives from our internal investigations” with the government for the reasons of “transparency and in helping the industry learn the lessons from BP’s experience as quickly as possible,” but it would appear this urgency to help others in the oil industry learn stops at the government’s door, and does not extend itself to the public or to their corporate partners, especially when guilt or innocence is being decided.
British Petroleum, of course, disagrees with Transocean’s assessment.
BP spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford called Transocean’s letter “misleading and misguided…We have been at the forefront of cooperating with various investigations commissioned by the U. S. government and others into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,” Ashford said. “Our commitment to cooperate with these investigations has been and remains unequivocal and steadfast.”
Even in the face of such firmly put words, Transocean maintains their allegation, also reporting in their letter, BP has rebuffed at least seven of its requests for information. And while BP has turned over some documents, it has not provided Transocean with any information since June 21, and has not even acknowledged the company’s requests since August 3.
Substantial charges these are, but like much of everything that transpires in the Gulf of Mexico, it would appear for the time being BP expects us to take them at their word.
NOAA Refuses to Release Data and Methodology of Study:
During a recess hearing of his Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Rep Ed Markey questioned if the government’s facts and figures on oil remaining in the Gulf might be creating a false impression of the Gulf’s recovery, “People want to believe that everything is OK and I think this report and the way it is being discussed is giving many people a false sense of confidence regarding the state of the Gulf,” he said.
He went on to issue a demand that the NOAA release their numbers.
The NOAA refused.
During a Wednesday telephone briefing on the spill for congressional staffers, NOAA scientists said the data might not be available for two months and this time frame was echoed in the hearing by the NOAA’s senior scientist Bill Lehr who also added, “Some of our academic friends have asked for this…I would suggest that patience in this case is a virtue.” The reasons the NOAA gives for this delay is the information is still being compiled, analyzed and peer reviewed.
This would appear a kinder, gentler way of saying the report isn’t ready.
Rep Markey too, was unimpressed, saying the report “shouldn’t have been released,” back on August 4th, “First you gave the answer, and now you are going to be showing your work. … and that’s the opposite of the way in which a study of that magnitude would be released.”
The White House, as Mother Jones suggests, was more interested in PR and a New York Times headline than they were in backing up their facts.
Two articles, two stories, two issues…BP and the NOAA; what they both have in common is time.
British Petroleum states they have always been cooperative with investigations and disputes Transocean’s allegations of withholding evidence, but if Transcocean’s allegations are correct, odds are at some point down the road, BP will have little choice but to release any evidence that could point to fault in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. By refusing to do so now, they are buying themselves time, and the NOAA is doing the same. They can stand by their oil spill numbers for at least another two months and should their methodology and data prove to be false or misleading, they too at least will have benefited from the passage of time.
And right now, time is very important.
Right now, big media is back on the hunt.
With the studies done by the University of Georgia, the University of South Florida and now a new report set to be released next week by Dr. Camilli and his team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, not only are the government’s numbers on the oil spill being called into question, but new evidence of a vast oil plume’s existence directly related to dispersed oil from BP’s Macondo well is making headlines. Initially both BP and the NOAA denied the existence of such plumes, but both have been forced to admit they do in fact exist.
And all the coverage of these studies has made the recent spotlight much brighter.
People are again paying attention, so the last thing BP needs right now would be to release any possible evidence that pointed to their guilt in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon while the NOAA, they would hate to have their data and methodology called into question by peer scientists, not now, not while things are getting hot again.
The official story they have both been perpetuating is beginning to smolder, why light more matches?
It is in their interest to wait it out, wait for people’s attention to wane, then perhaps on some slow news Friday, couple of months down the road…Halloween weekend would be good…let the information come out while everybody is busy making plans with their kids or friends, when they don’t have time to spend on any new headlines any new information could create. It would be a good plan, one that’s been used by governments and corporations for years and if the facts are not in their favor, it could be the only plan left. The American people are a passionate people, but also a people easily distracted and big media is not much better.
At the hearing, Rep Markey said, “The longer the time that elapses, the lower the political pressure and the public attention will be there to make sure the resources are brought to the problem,” he said of the government’s study, “If you’re wrong, the consequences are great.”
Turns out the government’s estimate of 4.9 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico may not be as entirely accurate as we were all led to believe. This really should come as no surprise, especially when it is understood the estimate translates directly into fines…money, and more importantly, British Petroleum’s money.
For each barrel of oil leaked into the Gulf, BP must pay a fine of $1100 dollars per barrel if they are found to be negligent in the Deepwater Horizon Catastraphuk. If they are found to be grossly negligible, that fine raises to $4400 dollars per barrel which at the 4.1 million barrel estimate (BP claims to have removed 800,000 barrels through containment operations) puts BP’s fine anywhere between $4.5 to $17.6 billion dollars. This is in addition to the $20 billion reparation fund BP has set up to pay people who are financially damaged by the spill.
BP’s motivation from day one to was ensure nobody ever recorded an accurate estimate of the oil amounts released into the Gulf and those estimates have been flying since day one: 5000 barrels of oil, then 10,000 despite the Coast Guard and British Petroleum both privately estimating the flow at a low rate of 36,000 and as high as 60,000. So when the Flow Rate Technical Group finally established the rates that led to 4.9 milion barrels of oil, some might have expected howls of protest from the powers that be at BP.
Instead…all we got was chirp, chirp, chirp, crickets in an oil-field…little to nothing.
Regarding the potential low-ball of the official estimate, Jason Linkins in an article on Huffingtonpost cites this exchange from NPR:
BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that. Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry. A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent.
Given that uncertainty, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note that it’s not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil. “There’s potentially some fluctuation back and forth between methane and oil,” Wereley said. But assuming that the lion’s share of the material coming out of the pipe is oil, Wereley’s calculations show that the official estimates are too low.
In addition…back on May 4th, during a briefing with Rep. Ed Markey, BP officials stated that a maximum estimated flow would be 60,000 barrels a day. So, in light of the new numbers, Markey concluded, “BP’s initial worst case scenario has been the reality since day one of this disaster.” The new federal estimate concludes that at the beginning of the spill, 62,000 barrels of oil per day were spewing out of the well, with that number decreasing to 53,000 barrels just before it was capped. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, called attention in a statement Monday night to what a coincidence those figures were.
This was back in May and the idea that British Petroleum has never internally established an accurate count is ridiculous. They have been running this show from the beginning, so one wonders, when the new numbers came out and BP barely reacted, could this be because they know the numbers are higher?
What did British Petroleum just get away with, again?
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?
A funny thing has happened in the Gulf of Mexico these past couple weeks…that oil spill?
It’s over, the oil spill is more or less over, all taken care of so you can switch the channel now.
The fisherman will be back at work soon, the oil isn’t in the marshes, it’s not on the beaches and it certainly isn’t flowing out of the Macondo Well. The wildlife, all good, didn’t you see that they relocated the sea turtle eggs and they’re now hatching on a different coast? And British Petroleum put up 20 billion dollars that will take care of everybody. No one has to suffer, not really…not anymore. Yeah, we’ll still have the occasional tar ball for a little while, but just send out your kids with toy shovels and a bucket so they can scoop it up and carry it over to a very tanned lifeguard in his chair; he’ll contact BP right away.
Tragedy yes, terrible…agreed.
It took a very long time to solve this problem, BP knows, they understand, but the important thing is its solved. Didn’t you hear? Skimmers are being sent home…no oil to clean up anymore, not really, at least not any that Thad Allen can find because the dispersants have gotten rid of it all. Those closed fisheries? They’ve started to reopen, no matter if they are still toxic and the EPA and FDA haven’t been trustworthy on the effects of the spill…these are mere details. With few minor exceptions, all is going according to the plan. They’re even removing boom now, it was doing more damage than good, don’t ya know…British Petroleum and the Coast Guard would like to thank you for your patience, America. Though we’re certainly not out of the woods, the clearing is in view and that view is a beautiful sunset over a body of water that in very short order, will be crystal clear again. In fact, it’ll be even better than before…
Well, that’s a version anyway.
Unfortunately, it is quickly becoming the official version for too many mainstream media outlets.
Oh yeah, and it’s bullshit.
From Riki Ott’s outstanding article in the HuffingtonPost:
Regarding the hard to find oil:
Bay Jimmy on the northeast side of Barataria Bay was full of oil. So was Bay Baptiste, Lake Grande Ecaille, and Billet Bay. Sitting next to me was Mike Roberts, a shrimper with Louisiana Bayoukeepers, who has grown up in this area. His voice crackled over the headset as I strained to hold the window. “I’ve fished in all these waters – everywhere you can see. It’s all oiled. This is the worst I’ve seen. This is a heart-break…”
Regarding the safety of chemical dispersants:
The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber. Spill responders have told me that the hard rubber impellors in their engines and the soft rubber bushings on their outboard motor pumps are falling apart and need frequent replacement…plastic corks used to float the absorbent booms during skimming operations dissolve after a week of use…medical doctor Ted Schettler and others warn that solvents can rapidly enter the human body: They evaporate in air and are easily inhaled, they penetrate skin easily, and they cross the placenta into fetuses. For example, 2-butoxyethanol is a human health hazard substance: It is a fetal toxin and it breaks down blood cells, causing blood and kidney disorders.
Regarding the downplaying of the dangers by BP, the Coast Guard, OSHA, NIOSH, the FDA and the EPA:
BP insists that solvents “disappear” after only a day or two. Retired toxicologist and forensic chemist John Laseter disagrees. Laseter told me that solvents “solubilize” or become soluble in oil and remain a threat for up to two months. He said the oil-solvent mixture sticks on biological tissue – gills of fish, the organic film coating sand grains and raindrops – and can wreak havoc. He told me that the dispersants are “almost certainly” making the oil penetrate more deeply into the skin and could very well be causing the rashes in the Gulf. The Mobile television station WKRG took samples of water and sand from Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Katrina Key, and Dauphin Island. The test was nothing fancy. The on-air reporter simply dipped a jar into the ocean and another into some surf water filling a sand pit dug by a small child. In the samples, oil was not visible in the water or the sand, but the chemist who analyzed them reported astonishingly high levels of oil ranging from 16 to 221 parts per million (ppm). Except for the Dauphin Island sample — that one literally exploded in the lab before testing could be completed. The chemist thought maybe the exploding sample contained methane or 2-butoxyethanol.
Yet Mr. Dudley, soon to be CEO of British Petroleum believes it is time to scale back cleanup operations…
Hey Thad Allen, meet the new boss…same as the old boss!