Daily Archive: 01/13/2011

Jan 13 2011

Presidential Oil Spill Commission Final Report

Tuesday the Presidential Oil Spill Commission released it’s final report.  Some reactions from Google News.

Oil spill panel calls for tighter federal rules, new fees for drilling

By Juliet Eilperin and David S. Hilzenrath, Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 9:16 PM

The presidential oil spill commission said Tuesday that the federal government should require tougher regulation, stiffer fines and a new industry-run safety organization, recommendations that face an uncertain future in the new Congress.

Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), one of the commission’s co-chairmen, said that the Deepwater Horizon accident was “both foreseeable and preventable,” and that Congress and the administration needed to enact reforms in order to prevent a repeat of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

“I am sad to say that part of the answer is the fact that our government helped let it happen,” Graham said. “Our regulators were consistently outmatched.”

Oil spill panel calls for reforms, fees

By Juliet Eilperin and David S. Hilzenrath, Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Environmental groups immediately protested that the recommendations do not go far enough, and industry groups argued that the government should stop standing in the way of offshore drilling and production.

While calling for tougher government regulation, the commission also called for the oil and gas industry to establish a “self-policing” organization that would set and enforce safety standards. In addition, it endorsed a system used in the North Sea that calls on drilling companies to assess the risks involved in a particular well and tailor their operations accordingly.

University of Maryland law professor Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, said such deference to the companies would be “tragedy compounded,” adding, “If there ever was an industry that didn’t deserve to write its own plans, it’s this one.”

The Next Oil Spill: Five Needed Mandates to Head it Off

Marianne Lavelle, National Geographic News

Published January 11, 2011

As the oil industry forges deeper into riskier waters and other frontiers, both companies and government overseers need to radically overhaul their approach to safety, concluded the U.S. commission appointed by President Obama to examine the causes of BP’s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The seven-member commission agreed unanimously that the spill was not caused by the actions of one rogue player, but by a systemic failure born of years of complacency.

“In the past 20 years, exploration moved into deeper and deeper and riskier and riskier areas of the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in abundant revenues for private companies and the federal Treasury,” said former Florida Senator Bob Graham, co-chairman of the panel.

Oil spill’s health effects raise concern, but are unproven, commissioner says

By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune

Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 8:20 PM

But in the end, the commissioners had to admit that their recommendation that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency establish stricter monitoring of the health effects of major spills is unlikely to help those who say their work in oiled waters and marshes has raised the level of carcinogenic benzene in their bodies and caused the onset of respiratory and intestinal illnesses.

A really deep and worthwhile article.

Berms and boom were largely ineffective responses to oil spill, panel reports

Jonathan Tilove, NOLA.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011, 7:35 AM

About of a third of the way through the National Oil Spill Commission’s 400-page report, there is a 43-page chapter on the oil spill response and containment efforts that suggests that berms and boom were pretty much a bust, collecting more headlines than oil.

About what you would expect, but confirmed in more detail.

Halliburton’s Legal Fate in Gulf Spill Still Uncertain

By LAWRENCE HURLEY of Greenwire, The New York Times

Published: January 13, 2011

The release Tuesday of the federal oil spill commission’s report into the Deepwater Horizon disaster raises further questions about when Halliburton Co. will be added to the list of defendants in the federal government’s civil complaint filed last month.

The Justice Department named nine defendants, including BP PLC and Transocean Ltd., when it filed its lawsuit in the Eastern District of Louisiana, but Halliburton, which played a major role in the Deepwater Horizon drilling operation, was conspicuous by its absence (Greenwire, Dec. 15, 2010).

The government is expected to announce criminal charges relating to the spill at some point, but so far, the focus has been on civil enforcement under such statutes as the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act. All the parties involved are also named as defendants in hundreds of private lawsuits filed by individuals and businesses affected by the spill.

It’s not entirely impossible we’ll see some perp walks, these guys did murder 11 people.

Deepwater Horizon Report Raises Further Obstacles to New Alaska Oil Drilling

January 12, 2011, 2:09 PM GMT

The report, which blamed specific mistakes by BP, Halliburton and Transocean as well as wider industry failings for the oil spill, said drilling can continue in the Gulf of Mexico with improved oversight, but questioned whether anyone would be capable of dealing with a similar accident if it occurred off the coast of Alaska.

There are, “serious concerns about the Arctic oil spill response, containment, and search and rescue,” in the chief areas of offshore drilling interest-Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas-the commission said.

“Current federal emergency response capabilities in the region are very limited: the Coast Guard operations base nearest to the Chukchi region is on Kodiak Island, approximately 1,000 miles from the leasing sites. The Coast Guard does not have sufficient ice-class vessels capable of responding to a spill under Arctic conditions,” the report said.

Gulf oil disaster has changed pace for drilling permits, official says

Jonathan Tilove, NOLA.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011, 12:02 PM

Michael Bromwich said that he is asked, “when will the pace of permitting return to the pre-April 20 level, and the honest answer is, probably never.”

So maybe some good news for the environment.

Jan 13 2011

“Gangstas”, Goldman and Twitter

Which Is More “Gangsta,” 50 Cent’s Twitter Stock Pitch or Goldman’s Facebook Deal?

Music was Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s second career. News reports say he began dealing crack at the age of twelve, after the murder of his coke-dealer mother. Early tracks like “Ghetto Quran” and “How to Rob” reflect a brutal, street-hustling life, and Jackson has the bullet wounds to match. He’s talented, wildly successful, and I sure wouldn’t mess with him.

But when he starts mixing social media with pumped-up investment pitches, 50 Cent is moving into Goldman Sachs territory. “Fitty” reportedly earned millions for touting a stock on Twitter, without disclosing that he owned shares in the company. How does that stack up against Goldman’s own social media deal with Facebook? When you move into the stock market, you’re going where the real gangstas roll. . . . . .

“Ok ok ok my friends just told me stop tweeting about HNHI so that we can get all the money. Hahaha check it out its the real deal.”

50 Cent about a marginal stock all weekend and into early Monday, calling it “BIG MONEY” and saying “you can double your money right now.” The effect was mindblowing.

Jackson’s credited with moving the stock of a company called HNHI by $50 million dollars in one day, even though its own auditor reportedly “expressed concerns about its financial future.” Fitty didn’t mention that he held 30 million shares of the stock, which he picked up for $750,000 last fall. Yesterday’s surge reportedly netted him somewhere between $8.7 million and $10 million. No wonder so many news accounts repeated the name of his hit album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

HNHI increased in value by about 200%. Even after it dropped more than 23% today, Jackson was way ahead of the game. Fitty’s attorneys presumably got a little worried, because the disclaimers started appearing late Monday: “HNHI is the right investment for me it might not be for u! Do ur homework,” “I own HNHI stocks thoughts on it are my opinion. Talk to your financial advisor …”

Jan 13 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Robert Sheer: Perps in the White House

While it is widely recognized that the banking meltdown has left enormous economic pain and political upheaval in its wake, it is amazing that the folks who created this mess are rewarded with ever more important positions in our government. Yet the recent appointments of Gene Sperling and William Daley, key Wall Street-connected perps of this crisis, to the most critical positions in the Obama White House have not generated much controversy.

The justification for the media’s indifference appears to be that the new appointees can hardly be worse than the hustlers they replaced. From its beginning, the Obama administration has been flooded with veterans of the Clinton White House who pushed through the radical deregulation that Wall Street had long sought and were rewarded with fat fees from the big banks when they left government.

Nancy Goldstein: Will Bush’s Torture Memo Team Face Justice in Spain?

There may yet be justice for the victims of the post-9/11 US torture program. Just not in the United States.

Here, our previous president is enjoying terrific sales for a memoir where he boasts about having authorized waterboarding. The current administration’s commitment to “moving past” the illegalities incurred on its predecessor’s watch is so hardcore that the Department of Justice decided late last year against prosecuting anyone from the CIA for destroying ninety-two videotapes that showed the torture of prisoners detained as suspected terrorists. Which leaves Attorney General Eric Holder more time to subpoena Twitter records and figure out how to criminalize Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for promoting government transparency.

But perhaps there will be justice in Spain. This past Friday, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed papers urging Judge Eloy Velasco to do what the United States will not: prosecute the “Bush Six,” the group of senior Bush-era government lawyers led by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, for violating international law by creating a legal framework that aided and abetted the torture of suspected terrorists.

Leonard Pitts Jr: Censoring N-word in Mark Twain’s ‘Huck Finn’ is ridiculous

. . . . . (It) is troubling to think the state of reading comprehension in this country has become this wretched, that we have tweeted, PlayStationed and Fox Newsed so much of our intellectual capacity away that not only can our children not divine the nuances of a masterpiece, but that we will now protect them from having to even try.

Huck Finn is a funny, subversive story about a runaway white boy who comes to locate the humanity in a runaway black man and, in the process, vindicates his own. It has always, until now, been regarded as a timeless tale.

But that was before America became an intellectual backwater that would deem it necessary to censor its most celebrated author.

The one consolation is that somewhere, Mark Twain is laughing his head off.

Jan 13 2011

On This Day in History January 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 13 is the 13th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 352 days remaining until the end of the year (353 in leap years).

It is still celebrated as New Year’s Eve (at least in the 20th & 21st centuries) by countries still using the thirteen day slower Julian calendar (Old New Year).

On this day in 1898, French writer Emile Zola’s inflammatory newspaper editorial, entitled “J’accuse,” is printed. The letter exposed a military cover-up regarding Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, a French army captain, had been accused of espionage in 1894 and sentenced in a secret military court-martial to imprisonment in a South American penal colony. Two years later, evidence of Dreyfus’ innocence surfaced, but the army suppressed the information. Zola’s letter excoriated the military for concealing its mistaken conviction.

Dreyfus Affair

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. When the French intelligence found information about someone giving the German embassy military secrets, anti-semitism seems to have caused senior officers to suspect Dreyfus, though there was no direct evidence of any wrongdoing. Dreyfus was court-martialled, convicted of treason and sent to Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

LL Col. Georges Picquart, though, came across evidence that implicated another officer, Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, and informed his superiors. Rather than move to clear Dreyfus, the decision was made to protect Esterhazy and ensure the original verdict was not overturned. Major Hubert-Joseph Henry forged documents that made it seem that Dreyfus was guilty and then had Picquart assigned duty in Africa. Before leaving, Picquart told some of Dreyfus’s supporters what he knew. Soon Senator August Scheurer-Kestner took up the case and announced in the Senate that Dreyfus was innocent and accused Esterhazy. The right-wing government refused new evidence to be allowed and Esterhazy was tried and acquitted. Picquart was then sentenced to 60 days in prison.

Émile Zola risked his career and even his life on 13 January 1898, when his “J’accuse“, was published on the front page of the Paris daily, L’Aurore. The newspaper was run by Ernest Vaughan and Georges Clemenceau, who decided that the controversial story would be in the form of an open letter to the President, Felix Faure. Émile Zola’s “J’Accuse” accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and antisemitism by having wrongfully convicted Alfred Dreyfus to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Zola declared that Dreyfus’ conviction came after a false accusation of espionage and was a miscarriage of justice. The case, known as the Dreyfus affair, divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church, and the more liberal commercial society. The ramifications continued for many years; on the 100th anniversary of Zola’s article, France’s Roman Catholic daily paper, La Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a major turning-point in the affair.

Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898, and was convicted on 23 February, sentenced, and removed from the Legion of Honor. Rather than go to jail, Zola fled to England. Without even having had the time to pack a few clothes, he arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July. After his brief and unhappy residence in London, from October 1898 to June 1899, he was allowed to return in time to see the government fall.

The government offered Dreyfus a pardon (rather than exoneration), which he could accept and go free and so effectively admit that he was guilty, or face a re-trial in which he was sure to be convicted again. Although he was clearly not guilty, he chose to accept the pardon. Émile Zola said, “The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it.” In 1906, Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court.

The 1898 article by Émile Zola is widely marked in France as the most prominent manifestation of the new power of the intellectuals (writers, artists, academicians) in shaping public opinion, the media and the state.

Jan 13 2011

Six In The Morning

Can America Learn From This  



Tucson shootings: Let us heal together, Obama says at memorial event

TUCSON – President Obama comforted a community suffused with grief and summoned the nation to recommit to a more civil public discourse as he delivered a eulogy Wednesday evening urging Americans to talk with each other “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

Evoking memories of the six killed here Saturday, Obama seized upon the mass shooting at a congresswoman’s supermarket meet-and-greet to tackle directly the subject of the nation’s harsh political dialogue. He sharply decried the “politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”

Jan 13 2011

Prime Time

Some premiers, none of note except for American MastersJeff Bridges, part of a marathon with The Doors.

I never got to say goodbye to my father. There’s questions I would’ve asked him. I would’ve asked him how he felt about what his company did, if he was conflicted, if he ever had doubts. Or maybe he was every inch of man we remember from the newsreels. I saw young Americans killed by the very weapons I created to defend them and protect them. And I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero-accountability.

Later-

Dave hosts Kevin James, Olivia Munn, and The Low Anthem.  Jon has Tim Pawlenty (yuck), Stephen Bernard-Henri Levy.  Conan hosts Denis Leary, Tim Minchin, and Ice Cube.

Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have a choice. My friend Harry taught me that. He chose to be the best of himself. It’s the choices that make us who we are, and we can always choose to do what’s right.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Jan 13 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 South Sudan rulers hail ‘valid’ independence vote

by Peter Martell, AFP

1 hr 47 mins ago

JUBA, Sudan (AFP) – South Sudan’s ruling party said Wednesday that the 60-percent turnout threshold required for a landmark independence vote to be declared valid has been reached after just three days of polling.

The former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement cited its own estimates for the achievement which must still be officially confirmed by the South Sudan Referendum Commission that organised the week-long vote.

But there were long queues at polling stations again on Wednesday as voters responded to calls from the party for a “100 percent turnout.”