Two days ago, Carl Barbier, the federal judge overseeing the Deepwater Horizon litigation decided that a gang of lawyers, so named the plaintiff steering committee, should benefit from a reimbursement fund, designed to pay them for the money they’re spending to sue BP on behalf of their clients. One of the many problems with this decision is this fund will not be paid for by British Petroleum, the originators of this whole oil spill catastraphuk, but from a 6% deduction from people who’ve settled, including claimants who went through Ken Feinberg’s GCCF, including claimants who didn’t even use the fucking lawyers.
Barbier reasoned the work of the plaintiff’s attorneys had been to the benefit of all claimants involved in the second catatraphuk to hit the Gulf, the aforementioned GCCF.
Barbier then wrote these deductions should be taken from all GCCF claims paid on or before November 7th…otherwise known as two months ago.
In response, Feinberg promptly suspended all GCCF payments until he got an explanation of just how the hell he was supposed to accomplish deductions from payments paid almost two months ago.
Judge Barbier was reportedly then informed that November 7th occurred the aforementioned two months ago, to which he promptly cursed his aides, turned red and hid in the bathroom until coaxed out by those same, aforementioned aides.
At this point, he then spoke to Feinberg on the phone and said he was just kidding about the aforementioned date of November 7th and what he meant to say was that 6% should be deducted from all claims paid on or after December 30th.
Feinberg then reportedly laughed aloud, and thanked Barbier profusely for stepping up and making such an ass out of himself, thus taking some of the heat off the “neutral” arbitrator and his client, British Petroleum.
And then Feinberg resumed payments from the GCCF…paltry as they may be.
So there you have it.
This update has been brought to you by Disgusted Inc.
Oh…and if you haven’t read this great article on the whole Barbier ruling and all the politics behind it…do yourself a favor and check out Slabbed for all the background on the lawyers and politicans influencing Barbier’s decision…’tis required reading:
So, been away for a little while…well, more than a little while…
I feel like I’ve been away for six weeks or so, even though I’ve written a number of things up here during that time…guess one could say I felt like I was running out of things to say, or maybe trying too hard to say what I think people want me to say…
Plus, I’ve been having a hell of a time trying to rectify a move to San Francisco with everything I’ve been working on up here for the past year and a half or so…and frankly, I still don’t know how to sync it up…I mean, what do the people who’ve been following the oil spill care about homelessness in San Francisco? What might people in San Francisco care about British Petroleum and the Gulf of Mexico?
I don’t know…
What I do know is that in 77 days, I’m leaving the Midwest for California, for San Francisco…my second favorite place in this country, next to New Orleans…and I guess you might call this blogger’s block…hell, I could show you the series of posts I’ve started and not felt it worth finishing to prove it…
In any case, I’m still around…and I’m working this out…
But this doesn’t mean I can’t be imbued with the holiday spirit, I am…in my own way. Just yesterday I was standing at the corner of Mandeville and St. Claude Ave when I noticed an SUV going much faster than it should have, so I took out the driver side rear tire with one well placed shot. Had to. There was a group of teenagers up ahead and I didn’t want to take any chances that Christmas might be ruined for another family, well, at least not for a family that didn’t deserve it.
Pay it forward, I always say.
‘Tis the season.
Anyways, I just wanted to mention a couple of things up here, send out a hearty Ho-Ho-Ho…and note a couple of people, in a good way, who’ve been doing a lot of good work for the city I love…
To those at NOLAFemmes for their social/political commentary and the great architectural photography…Merry Christmas.
To American Zombie for his political coverage and the well done documentary about that computer crash…I got my eye on the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court office…
To all the people at Slabbed for helping me narrow down my, well, let’s just call it my “christmas” list.
To Editilla at New Orleans Ladder for helping me stay informed about the entire region…when you’re an assassin, it all starts with the information. You can’t put the cart before the horse…Merry Christmas.
To Levees.Org and their petition to request the New York Times begin referring to the real cause of the New Orleans flooding…it was the Levees, stupid, even an assassin knows the importance of language in framing the debate.
To The Lens and their ongoing coverage of the whole New Orleans jail facility situation…some of you out there might think I couldn’t possibly have a conscience, what with the killing and all, but I do…a strong conscience, one that has been known to plague me on occasion. When I fulfill a contract, I only do so if it’s my belief that the…well, let’s just call him or her the “FCC”…when I am called to fulfill a contract I only do so if I believe the “FCC” has committed a crime and belongs in jail. If I don’t feel the “FCC” belongs in jail, then I don’t fulfill the contract, but believe me you, the “FCCs” recommended to me almost always belong in jail. That being said, one of the techniques used in reasoning with my conscience is how the city of New Orleans just doesn’t have the room in their jails for all the “FCCs” I have to kill, but as the Lens has been writing about, the city and their sheriff (Gusman…major idiot, believe me…in my line of work…I know) are getting approval to build the most ridiculously sized jail for the population size of New Orleans. If you build it, they will come, eh? Well, If this jail and its thousands of beds go through, that’s more trouble for my conscience and I don’t like that kind of trouble. It makes me want to kill the FCC.
And finally, to all the other New Orleans bloggers, writers and most importantly, to all the people in the city and the region who are suffering as a result of the economy and British Petroleum’s oil spill. For what it’s worth, you’re in my thoughts and I wish you all moments of joy over the holidays and a better year to come…
Merry Christmas everybody…
This one’s from the New Orleans Assassin:
Be well, and if ya need me, as always, leave a chalk “X” under the last pew, furthest to the left at St. Louis Cathedral and I’ll find you, I can always find anybody, at any time.
In a quick perusal of the news this morning…and yesterday for that matter, I felt like a boxer taking punch after punch…and I gotta say it, I’m aggravated and disappointed, yet at the same time, more comfortable and secure in the correctness of my views that the government doesn’t care about anything but corporations and what they believe they can get away with, the problem with wilileaks isn’t what they reveal about our state department but instead that they have been revealed, the government’s importance of controlling information at every level, more government handouts to large business as the order of the day while cutting off unemployment benefits to people, and at the same time, the GOP demands to keep tax cuts for the wealthy…oh, and global warming? What do you mean global warming?
Walk with me:
From Peter S. Goodman at Huffingtonpost – “Republicans in Congress have held up the extension of unemployment benefits and are also demanding an extension of the tax cuts President George W. Bush handed out to the wealthiest Americans. They are selling this as a stand against fiscally reckless spending and oversized government — a form of pandering that poses dire consequences to the economy. Unlike wealthy people handed tax cuts, laid-off workers receiving unemployment checks tend to inject nearly all of that money directly into the economy, leaving their dollars at the local supermarket, the hardware store, and the auto repair shop, supporting jobs for people who work at those places. Cutting off those checks deprives the economy of cash just as the market is showing tentative signs of improvement.”
Yet, we are supposed to believe that extending tax cuts to those who don’t need them, who don’t create jobs, who don’t inject money into the economy, this is a good thing and fiscally responsible. Meanwhile, the banks have been given billions, trillions, to stay afloat, because they are more important then…um…you.
From Rawstory – Under pressure from Joe Lieberman, Amazon stopped hosting Wikileaks. In a statement from Joe – “I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on Wikileaks’ previous publication of classified material. The company’s decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organization that is hosting Wikileaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. Wikileaks’ illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company – whether American or foreign – should assist Wikileaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with Wikileaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information.”
Hey Joe, first off, when we read stories such as this one about the Supreme Court, the very conservative supreme court questioning the broad government use of Freedom of Information Act exemptions to withhold documents and keep Americans in the dark about what the government we pay for is doing…well, you reap what you sow. Of course people are going to put this info out there when they get it and of course people are going to want to read it. From you, we get, “war on terror,” and “these are dangerous times,” and “national security”…ad nauseum, treating us like children who wouldn’t understand. Worse still, what the hell are you diplomats doing? Sounds to me like a lot of games, lying and bad behavior. Instead of treating us like children, perhaps it is time for us to be the parents because you jackasses have obviously been left to your own devices for too long.
Also from the Huffingtonpost – Incoming House Republicans plan to scrap “unnecessary” global warming committee. They claim they are doing this in a cost cutting move, designed to save waste. yeah, you guys are brilliant. In the spirit of cost-cutting I think if I’m ever diagnosed with cancer, I’ll tell my doctor I don’t want treatment because it will save me money in the short term.
Back to Rawstory and the FCC’s proposal for internet freedom: learning the rules of new politics, the FCC finally figured out how to get net neutrality for all, they simply have to create a piece of (shit) legislation that glad-hands corporations and internet service providers while screwing the general public, and then call it “net-neutrality” despite the fact it is anything but. It’s kind of like how the Patriot Act curtailed personal freedoms and invited the government to spy or how Bush’s Forest Preservation act actually allowed more clear-cutting of the nations forests. Same thing. The rules proposed by the FCC will allow for tiered systems and higher pay rates, essentially taking the free and open internet and turning it into cable television, pay for basic, extended, shell out some extra cash for HBO, Showtime, and for all you losers who still want things free, go watch the fucking networks. Oh, and on wireless technology, the future of the internet? No rules. It all adds up to restricted information, pay rates, less innovation and most importantly, a ton of money to AT+T, Google, Verizon, Comcast, Sprint, all paid for, by you, despite Obama’s pledge to do precisely the opposite.
And on a more amusing nature – it would appear that Congress is going to soon be back in the business of attacking art museums. Wonderful. Important stuff. An image of ants on a crucifix? That’s the crime? Are you fucking kidding me? So some dipshit congressman from Georgia wants an investigation…good for you, sir…good for you.
Ah yes, so here we are if you’re keeping score:
Telecom corporations, multinational banks, wealthy tax breaks, government transparency, foreclosures, saving money at the expense of science, global warming debate and attacking art…good.
Unemployment benefits, knowledge and the American people, you…bad.
Ain’t nothing over down there…nothing, much as BP and the NOAA are trying to convince you otherwise.
Okay, I think it might be time to go put an “X” in chalk on the farthest left, third pew to the back inside St. Louis Cathedral, or maybe I’ll just go get a drink. Yeah, after work tonight I think I’ll just go get a drink and then get to thinking about where this country is heading, have some conversation and try to figure out a way to get more people involved in their own future, cause it sure won’t happen watching reality television.
That was the sound of me getting off my soapbox, time to go to work.
I’ve written a number of things about Ken Feinberg in the past, but one of the many things that continues to stick in my mind is in regards to the $20 billion dollar escrow account, and how Feinberg predicted that after all is said and done, he will pay out $6 billion dollars and the remaining $14 billion dollars will be given back to British Petroleum.
This newer information, which he stated to Fox news, is an important lens through which to view all things claims related, and in doing so, eyebrows raise when reading such things as:
Kenneth Feinberg has recently been making the rounds on national television to give interviews about the claims fund. In these interviews, his once “white knight” tones of hope, the same tones he rode into the Gulf Coast on, have now changed to harsher, more dismissive arguments which paint Gulf Coast residents as people who don’t know how to properly document a claim or just get on with their lives.
Feinberg says, “A fisherman will apply and say: ‘I lost $30,000 during the spill because I couldn’t fish, pay me’ and he attaches his fishing license with no further documentation.”
In discussing how his final settlement option is better than a lawsuit, Feinberg says, “I hope my lump–sum payment will be sufficiently generous to take into account the unknown future that many claimants will see the wisdom of taking the lump–sum payment and move on with life.”
In my readings of these statements, the first comes off as rather dismissive and the second wholly insensitive to what people are suffering through. Coming from a wealthy Boston attorney who is being paid millions of dollars for this job, getting on with life is something that will be rather simple to do once the job is done, but for the people of the Gulf Coast, as Feinberg puts it himself, they have an “unknown future.” This can make moving on rather difficult and perhaps Ken might be better served assisting with documentation or thinking outside of the box on claims payments as opposed to giving national interviews and painting people harmed by this spill as ignorant.
Are you trying to help Ken, or are you making your case in the national media to justify figures such as this:
More than 55,000 Alabama individuals and businesses had filed for compensation from his Gulf Coast Claims Facility. More than 21,000 had been paid, with more than 16,000 — 77 percent — being paid at or above the amount they requested.
About 1,300 individuals and businesses received less than 25 percent of the amount of money they requested. Another 1,300 received 25 to 50 percent. Another 1,300 claimants received 50 to 75 percent. And about 900 received 75 to 100 percent.
More than 1,500 claimants sought $100,000 or more. About 700 were paid, but only 39 percent received the amount they requested.
There were 101 claims filed for $1 million or more. Thirty-five of those were paid, but none for the amount sought
And as I wrote before, keeping in mind that any money he doesn’t pay out goes back to British Petroleum in the end, I have fewer questions about bad claims and more questions about whose interests you serve because you seem far from neutral and much more inclined to be on the side of your own self-promotion and the interests of British Petroleum.
Either way, it’s a nearly impossible thing to cast BP and their response over the past seven months in a positive light, but by comparison it would seem you are doing the best you can.
Typically, I try not to make these things all that personal, usually covering up a lot of feelings with humor, dark cynicism, take a few jabs at politicians while emotionally stepping slightly outside of myself, a calculated distance learned from many years of social work that makes it easier to blunt the emotional impact of what I do for a living, but I don’t really feel like doing that today.
Today’s kind of different for me, sometimes it’s okay to let the guard slip a bit.
Today’s “Black Friday,” and I understand that if I were to head out into the early morning darkness, it would be likely I’d encounter a large number of people waiting in line outside various stores – get there early, get the best deals and all that. Good enough, I’ll cast no dispersions here because its not really any of my business, but I have to wonder how the people in the Gulf Coast feel about the term “Black Friday” this year. I imagine it would bring about certain associations they haven’t previously had to deal with, at least not so harshly, not so emotionally charged. Keeping that in mind, I have a few things I’d like to write down, put out there for anyone so interested:
Personally, I don’t know anyone who’s lost anything as a result of the British Petroleum oil spill.
Perhaps this might come as a surprise to people who’ve read this blog, perhaps not. Knowing this, one might be inclined to question why I might spend the time I spend doing this. It’s certainly a question I’ve asked myself and after much thought I’ve come up with a number of reasons – my love for the city of New Orleans, my disgust with injustice in this country, my job as a social worker and my resulting desire to try to help people (Chicken and egg argument to me, been doing it so long I don’t remember what came first anymore – the job or the desire?). I tend to hold a lot of anger, simply because I see a lot to be angry about and all these reasons, my reasons, are good enough for me but I think the most important reason, the one that typically wakes me at five am to sit at my computer is I do know what it is like to watch, seemingly powerless, as something so important to you is taken away.
This is what continues to happen in the Gulf, and this is what makes me very angry.
Everything changed for so many on April 20th, due to the errors, malfeasance, greed – what have you, of corporations operating in the Gulf of Mexico. And that is not a story of mistakes by a business just trying to get ahead, you know, engaged in the act of trying to do right, of trying to honestly bring needed product to market. It’s the story of greed, of domination, of wink wink nudge nudge with government regulators set up to ensure things like this don’t happen. It’s unromantic piracy of the worst sort, filled with half-truths, buried information and powerful people sitting in well decorated offices and mahogany boardrooms making insulated decisions with very little regard for the impact of their decisions beyond the bottom line and the company’s shareholders.
It’s simply, wrong.
In the offices of British Petroleum, Transocean and Halliburton, in the offices of the NOAA, the EPA, the FDA, the MMS, on the oil platforms, in the engineering departments, in the contractor’s offices and in all the state government buildings and even in the Oval Office, people will be sitting next week and some of them will be aware that they knew something. They made a decision, they changed a policy, they cut a corner because they were greedy, or busy, or they figured the next guy would catch it. They thought, that’s a problem for later, for next week, for after vacation…or that can’t be proved in court, I have deniability, I covered my ass, I decided it was necessary to look at the big picture.
And nobody really thought the current big picture in the Gulf of Mexico would be the result.
Nobody thought that for five states, “Black Friday” would take on a new meaning or carry with it new word associations.
But it has.
So to them, and more specifically to Mr. Bob Dudley, I know you have a corporation to run, but the decisions your company made ruined thousands of lives, have made thousands sick, destroyed places so beautiful and much of the wildlife that once thrived there. Everything’s gone legal now, positions are being chosen, strategies adopted and everything’s become precedent so you’re being careful…but as you run through the next few years of your life doing what it is you do, take a minute every now and again to think about, not “the people” because you’ve learned how easy it it to distance emotionally from a label or a group, but think of one person. That’s a bit more difficult, person is personalized, think of one person whose kids are hungry, who can’t pay her bills, who cries more than she used to, who is depressed, who has a sick husband, who is feeling overwhelmed by all the paperwork, the worries that she didn’t have before or are stronger now, and then realize there are thousands of this person. Realize your company had a big hand in doing this to all of these thousands of persons.
And then stop hiding behind your rhetoric, your boardroom walls, your feelings of legal responsibilities and liabilities, of what can be proven and what can’t, your newest commercials…
Not much I can do about it personally, but keep writing and hope you know the spit in your face, some of it’s mine.
Enjoy your Black Friday, whatever it means to you.
And to the residents of the Gulf Coast and everyone affected, for whatever it’s worth, I wish you the best today and hope that it soon gets better for every person that’s suffering, right now.
And first off, I just wanted to extend a hearty handshake, a nod of the head, I’d even be willing to give a little lead time to every French Quarter resident who voted down the French Quarter Security District.
Yes, that was nice, too kind and now that those two to three security guards won’t be wandering the Quarter and getting in my way, I am completely free to accept jobs there. Just put an “X” in chalk on the farthest left, third pew to the back inside St. Louis Cathedral and walk away. Don’t worry, I’ll find you and perhaps we can do some business. Despite usually doing only government work, I like to oh, I don’t know…”give back” so to speak and keeping that in mind, I am here to let you in on a bit of a secret. Call it a thank you, just a small token of my appreciation.
Okay, your government?
They really don’t care about you. I know, I know…big surprise, but I don’t mean that in that in the “disgruntled throw away comment over a beer at your favorite bar – grousing” kind of way. No, I mean, they really do not care. You should hear the shop talk my brethren and I have. You know we refer to citizens as “cogs”? We do, but lately I’ve been thinking even this is a stretch. To imply that people are mere cogs in a machine would indicate that if one of you is removed, the machine might break down and this is simply not the case. I think a more apt metaphor would be like people are the dirt on the floor below the machine. When necessary you’re just swept away, and the machine keeps running, just fine. I know, kind of hurts, don’t it?
Sorry, but I think after you all did me such a solid, I had to return the favor even if that favor is a little painful.
And this brings me to that whole BP oil spill thing. What I want you to realize is the spill and all its after-affects is not a be all, end all to a situation, it is just a symptom of the main problem, kind of like Katrina. It isn’t the disease. It’s merely a symptom to the greater, overall virus.
And the virus itself?
To the top 1%, you are mere chattel.
But don’t take my word for it. Want some proof?
Let’s talk food safety in the Gulf. How many times have you all heard by now from “your” government the food is safe, go ahead, eat away, we opened the waters for fishing, have fun? This is absolute crap of course. Look, your government, what they want are people to have jobs and the tourists to come back, and whereas this could be construed as admirable, unfortunately they are willing to risk the health of everyone in the Gulf Coast in the process. Opening waters for fishing and tourists being about revenue, revenue for states means more government services and fewer cutbacks. This brings about votes for those in power and those in power want to keep their power. So, the FDA uses shoddy tests that don’t detect PAH’s and toxic metals and then go about telling everyone how safe it all is, despite the fact that PAH’s and toxic metals cause cancer. Meanwhile, independent scientists are finding all sorts of goodies in the seafood, even seafood that is already on its way to market for consumption and nobody, I mean nobody seems to want to look at the long-term effects of eating this stuff on a regular basis. You might be inclined to think if the government cares, they should care about the long-term health of its people. Yeah, you’d think that, but they’re far more focused on short-term politics and cash. A health catastrophe twenty years down the road is a problem for those assholes twenty years down the road.
How many of you out there have accounts at Bank of America? That “too big to fail” thing is primed for a comeback. Yeah, the largest bank in this country is in trouble and they are doing their best to conceal it, but when appraisers estimate your institution as being only worth half as much as you say it is, it ain’t going to end well. Your government is going to be again put in the position of giving them a bunch of money, all while the bank CEO’s give each other bonuses, all while they use fraudulent paperwork to foreclose on your homes, all while letting all of you out there lose everything.
And while people are losing everything, the Obama administration, as much as I appreciate all they and the previous administrations have done for me, they agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts thus further reward those who are making life so difficult for all of you. With the loss of revenue, there will have to be further cutbacks, and rather than take back the money they so gratuitously gave to the wealthy, Obama’s own fiscal commission has recommended severe cutbacks to the poor by way of social security and medicare cuts, all while suggesting the retirement age be raised to 69 0r 70.
So yes, I’m sorry to be the barer of bad news and yes, I do understand how some of you might wonder how I feel that what it is I tell you could be considered a “thank you,” but it is.
As an assassin, I work in cold, hard facts: trajectory, wind speed, rifles, bullets, distance and time.
And as a citizen, once you realize the facts, this prompts newer, more effective insights, thoughts and finally, solutions.
If your government has broken the “social contract,” is it necessary for you to continue the struggle to fulfill its obligations?If I walk up to you on the street, shake your hand, smile and then slap you in the face, would you continue to stand there while I apologized and then did it again? How about the tenth time? The twentieth? The hundredth?
Think about it.
As for me, as I am sure you can understand, business is booming. Especially now that the French Quarter has been freed up. Still making plans on my condo. The dog’s doing well. I stay away from the shrimp, work out, read when I have the time. Check out Will Self’s “Quantity Theory of Insanity.” It’s a good read, for a Brit. Oh, and if you want an idea about how you might take the power of your community into your own hands, check out Common Ground Relief for a few ideas. If you can’t reform the government, substitute the lost function of government with an organization of your own.
Believe me you, a few of the people running that place are being watched but I won’t accept any of those jobs. I may be a killer, but I got a strong sense of right and wrong.
As a teenager, my sisters used to enjoy exploiting my temper to get me in trouble, pushing my buttons until I did something stupid and wound up grounded. I fell for it all the time. I think it was their secret game but I’ve never been able to prove it. One day when our parents were out, my younger sister and I argued about taking out the garbage and I became so angry, I decided to scare her so she would leave me alone – so in a typical teenage ill-advised move, I punched the pantry door in the kitchen. Problem is, the pantry door was a hollow door and I put my fist through it. Oops, and of course my sister immediately ran for the phone to tell my parents what I had done. My father came home, I got grounded and he charged me fifty dollars for a new door.
He never bought the door though, instead opting to take my mother out to dinner with the money. When they moved ten years later, the broken door still had not been replaced. Didn’t need to. He just hung a picture over the hole so it looked good as new.
Six months later, the Obama administration and British Petroleum are hanging pictures all over the Gulf.
They are doing it with words, press releases and commercials.
They are doing it with meaningless promises.
They are doing it, waiting for everyone to stop paying attention so they don’t have to do it anymore.
In the same week that Bob Dudley announced his new plan of giving bonuses tied to safety at British Petroleum, it was noted by the Wall Street Journal that those who were in charge of company operations leading up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon are those who remain in charge today.
Lamar McKay, the chairman and president of BP America, remains in place. James Dupree, the man directly responsible for “safe and compliant operations” in the Gulf of Mexico, has suffered just a cosmetic change in his job title. Doug Suttles, one of the public faces of BP’s oil spill response, is no longer in his previous role as chief operating officer of BP’s now defunct Exploration and Production unit, but it seems likely to take up another role in the company.
It would seem that to keep the old guard in place, not only makes it difficult to institute a radical change in policy, but also sends a message down the company line that this new change in policy is not being taken as seriously as it needs to be. Three huge accidents in recent BP history, costing lives, cultures and still as yet undetermined destruction and the only people to get fired are people like Tony Hayward who maintains he didn’t even know there was a problem. What about the people who did?
Meanwhile, despite what the government would have you believe the oil is still everywhere, yet BP continues to lay off clean-up workers. These same workers are starting to give up on certain beaches because they don’t have the personnel and British Petroleum is getting away with it, still holding to that promise of making things right.
They’re only hanging pictures.
They’re holding the nail while the Obama Administration hammers it home.
Remember back in August when the administration put out that whole 74% of the oil gone scenario which was roundly mocked. As Stuart Smith points out, they’ve never really backed away from it. For every finding of oil on the seafloor, question about air safety, seafood and water safety, Jane Lubchenco reassures us all that everything is fine:
“Each reopening (of fishing areas) is a reassuring sign that areas once impacted by oil can again support sustainable fishing activities,” said NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, “Tourists and consumers should know most Gulf waters are open for fishing and seafood from these waters is safe to eat.”
The problem of course is Jane appears to be one of the few people who actually believe such statements. Independent scientists continue to doubt her and the government’s claims, instead finding dispersants and oil in the water still, and harboring serious questions about the long term effects of heavy metals which are making their presence known in the Gulf and even in the rainwater. A scientist at the University of Georgia, Dr. Samantha Joye recently compared the sea floor to a “graveyard,” stating that of the 78 core samples taken, only five had life where typically all 78 of the sea floor samples should; obviously this is a problem and one the NOAA isn’t addressing or commenting upon.
This is not over, six months later…we’re just beginning and those that should be helping are only hanging pictures on the wall. Although British Petroleum and the Obama Administration make quite a team, each policy change from BP is only another picture. Each statement from Jane? Just another picture. Each commercial during the Sunday football game, or every time the NOAA re-opens more water despite not testing for dispersants or heavy metals… picture after picture after picture, and at this rate, it would seem they’ll keep hanging pictures until the accumulation of nail holes destroys the wall for good.
This has gotta stop.
Keep talking, keep writing, keep pressing…it would appear it is up to the independent scientists, the people of the Gulf Coast and the rest of this country who cares about the reality in the water to keep shouting for the truth, to ignore these pictures they’ve placed in the foreground.
Shit, when I was a teenager at least I got grounded. In the Gulf of Mexico and in this country today, it would seem they just hope we forget about it.
Almost six months after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and the Macondo Well became a petroleum free for all, the Gulf Coast has become a crazy mix of truths, cautions and hopes, a petri dish, much like the aftermath of Katrina where agendas did battle inside the square circle with the winner this time to be given the British Petroleum Federation belt and allowed to rule over a four state zone of healing? of mess? of aquatic death? of astounding ecological recovery?
Of something…Yes, we got the government, the press and the people because apparently the corporations are off somewhere making feel good commercials starring – golly gee – real live New Orleans residents, buying stock in Nalco and begging Iraq to let them come in and drill, baby drill…please?
In the Alabama tourist town of Orange Beach, the city’s engineering director, Kit Alexander is finishing up on preliminary testing of water samples, hundreds of water samples they have taken to “at least partly…allay concerns about oil dispersant lingering along the Gulf Coast.” The mayor, Tony Kennon, states they are taking the samples in order to potentially pursue legal action against BP PLC, but Kit has said the Corexit they are finding is in such small percentage it wouldn’t be harmful to people. Meanwhile, Robert Naman, an analytical chemist from Mobile directly contradicts these findings concluding that due to the amounts of propylene glycol and 2-butoxyethanol, BP and/or its contractors is still spraying Corexit in the Gulf. In addition, Orange Beach councilwoman Pattisue Carranza, a pharmacist has said she believes more people were getting sick this summer than summers past. She suggested this might have something to do with the oil spill, but Mayor Kennon quickly called such comments “reckless.”
An editorial came out this morning in the Press Register titled Perception is the Problem; it comes to the interesting conclusion that people outside the Gulf Coast are under the perception that people on the coast are still warding off a steady onslaught of oil. J.D. Crowe makes the case the environmental impact isn’t as much as had been feared. He reports Dr. Crozier, the director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab as saying that environmental issues are “way, way secondary to our economic issues and our human issues.” He concludes his editorial by writing, “Yes, Alabama is in the early stages of recovering from the effects of the BP oil spill. But its restoration will have much more to do with the human fallout from the spill — the damage inflicted by perceptions to people’s livelihoods, to their pocketbooks and to their mental well-being.”
Project Gulf Impact held a Fishermen’s Forum held a conversation this past Sunday at Loyola University in New Orleans where Vicki Perrin with the Coastal Heritage Society said “The oil is ten feet, twelve feet into the grasslands…On June 16th I walked out of my front door and hit the ground. The smell was so strong I could not breathe. It literally took my breathe away. I didn’t think I would ever smell anything like that ever.. and we smell it every now and again,” said Perrin. It’s because of those strong odors that Perrin said she began testing rainwater. “Aluminum, magnesium, chloride, copper, nickel.. these are things you shouldn’t find in your rainwater,” said Perrin.
In Buras, LA, another group of fisherman got together to talk about their struggles, about ways to show the public the oil is not gone:
Rocky Kirstner writes:
They felt abandoned and desperate. Some have had to accept free groceries and school supplies because they have run out of money to feed their families or buy gas for their trucks. They are incensed by million dollar ad campaigns aired during Saints games touting how BP “will make it right.”They know what’s coming. The cleanup boats are being pulled off the job and their only income will be handouts from government and charities. And those sources are drying up too. “It’s time to standup,” local shrimper Darla Rooks told the assembly of fishermen in this fishing town still devastated by Katrina. “This is my land and I cannot let me children fish here anymore. We need to stand up and fight or there will be nothing left. If you say nothing, you get nothing.”
“People out there don’t have a clue what’s going on,” says Acy Cooper, an official with the Louisiana Shrimp Association. No one wants to buy our shrimp. We can’t say for certain it’s safe while there’s still oil coming in here.”
So, as I wrote above, here we are.
The Gulf Coast, she is a big place and she has many agendas and many narratives and personally, it is the agendas I pay most attention too. In a nutshell, the fishermen want to fish, get their culture back and the people don’t want to worry about their homes, their families, getting sick. Local governments are concerned about the economy, the tourist industry so many depend upon as well as the fishing industry. The bigger press, many of them now owned by companies have financial agendas as well, and especially in the editorial section, varying political agendas.
But even with all these localized, competing agendas, I would imagine there to be several areas of agreement: we all want the oil to be gone, we all want the environment and the seafood to be safe. We want the tourists to come back as well as the physical, emotional and the economic health of Gulf Coast residents. Nobody wants the economy to keep suffering. Nobody wants to put people in danger. Nobody wants to let BP off the hook.
But, we do need caution. And we do need to continue to ask questions:
Why is it everyone but the NOAA can find oil? Why is it everyone but government officials can find dispersant in the water? Why is it BP is allowed to say they aren’t using dispersant anymore, and then qualify this declarative statement, without question from anyone in the government or media by saying, but we have a lot of contractors, implying they can’t know or control what the people they hire are doing? Why is it waters are being declared free from oil, opened for fishing but fishermen are finding oil in their catch from these oil free waters? Why is it people keep getting sick?
And finally, this last question, one of my own…why can’t the local government and press work more closely with the people? The entities they are fighting against are monstrous: the Federal Government, British Petroleum, twenty-four hour media conglomerates who only want, it would seem of late, is to pronounce this whole BP oil spill thing over.
The more localized agendas need to be more closely aligned.
Healthy Gulf, healthy people…go get British Petroleum and everyone else responsible for this clusterphuk. Go get them, together.
The White House did in fact, not, hold any information back from the American public. They vehemently deny the conclusions of the Oil Spill Commission, the same commission they created.
So much for mea culpa’s from the Obama Administration.
So much for regaining lost credibility.
Despite their own commission’s evidence to the contrary, Robert Gibbs, White House Spokesman said the White House gave us “the most accurate and timely information” regarding the flow rate of oil from the busted Macondo Well…as it became available of course.
And how do we know this as the truth?
Because Robert Gibbs said so.
Did I mention I don’t feel any better? Oh wait, yeah I did, I mentioned it yesterday.