09/27/2011 archive

Keystone XL Redux

BP Gulf Drilling Plan Criticized by Environmentalists, Lawmakers

By Katarzyna Klimasinska and Brian Swint, Bloomberg News

Sep 26, 2011 8:43 AM ET

BP was “ultimately responsible” for the accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 and started the leak, though rigowner Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co (HAL), which provided cement, share some of the blame, a U.S. report said Sept. 14. The 212-page document issued by the Interior Department and Coast Guard said BP managers were distracted by cost overruns and personal conflicts.

Gulf of Mexico oil is more than twice as profitable as production from the rest of BP’s portfolio, yielding about $60 in profit to the company when oil prices are $100 a barrel. In 2010, the Gulf of Mexico accounted for 28 percent of the company’s cash flow and just 10 percent of production, according to research by Citigroup Inc. analyst Alastair Syme.

BP’s Dudley said July 26 that BP is eager to “get back to work” in the Gulf, working closely with regulators, and that the pace of BP’s return depends on getting approvals for new wells. He said the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Management says BP won’t be held to a higher standard than its peers in its applications.

What could possibly go wrong?

Study shows dispersants BP used in oil spill may cause cancer

Kimberly Blair, Pensacola News Journal

12:00 AM, Sep. 26, 2011  

The report indicates that the 1.8 million gallons of oil dispersants – including Corexit 9500 and 9527 – sprayed on or dumped into the Gulf of Mexico after the spill could contain cancer-causing agents, endocrine-disrupting chemicals and hazardous toxins.

And the chemicals mixed with the sweet Louisiana crude that flowed into the Gulf for 87 days from the Deepwater Horizon oil well may have created a brew that is more harmful to marine life, humans and the environment than the oil.

Gulf oil spill could cause lasting damage to fish populations, study finds

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

Published: September 26

Fish living in Gulf of Mexico marshes exposed to last year’s oil spill have undergone cellular changes that could lead to developmental and reproductive problems, a group of researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Their biology is telling us that they’ve been a), exposed to these chemicals and b), affected by them in negative ways,” said Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at LSU and the paper’s lead author. “Very low-level exposures can cause these toxic effects.”

Whitehead said the results show that just because fish from the gulf have passed federal inspections, it does not mean these species are unaffected by the spill.

“You can have a fish that’s safe to eat but is still not healthy,” he said, adding that as sediment containing hydrocarbons is dredged up by storms, it could expose species over time. “The sediments are going to act as this long-term reservoir of oil, of potential exposure.”

Docs show US gov’t bias to Keystone XL during environmental study

by Lynn Herrmann

Sep 26, 2011

Washington – New documents reveal the US State Department was “doing favors” for TransCanada during a government review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and sheds light on a White House bias in favor of the pipeline.

Among the initial batch of 34 documents (pdf) released, all originating from the Office of the Secretary, are concerns over State Department “bias” and Clinton’s comment herself before the required environmental review had been completed in which she stated she was “inclined” toward project approval.

Other documents reveal State Department officials helped TransCanada by “providing information about State’s internal thinking and by coaching TransCanada on what to say” in response to the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Friends of the Earth notes.

In another email correspondence (pdf) from December 6, 2009, Elliott offered to have TransCanada lobby the Canadian government on behalf of the State Department, with Elliott stating “TransCanada executives spend a great deal of time with Ottawa government officials” and added “TransCanada can be an asset for the state department and I hope you might see us as such.”

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 Reich: Why This is Exactly the Time to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure

Seems like only yesterday conservative nabobs of negativity predicted America’s ballooning budget deficit would generate soaring inflation and crippling costs of additional federal borrowing.

Remember Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States? Recall the intense worry about investors’ confidence in government bonds – America’s IOUs?


Last week ten-year yields on U.S. Treasuries closed at 1.83 percent.

In other words, they were wrong.

In fact, it’s cheaper than ever for the United States to borrow. That’s because global investors desperately want the safety of dollars. Almost everywhere else on the globe is riskier. Europe is in a debt crisis, many developing nations are gripped by fears the contagion will spread to them, Japan remains in critical condition, China’s growth is slowing.

David Sirota: Why white liberals are (really) ditching Obama

Racism isn’t responsible for the president’s drop in popularity. His right-wing policies are

A few weeks ago, I wrote an essay that got me a much larger truckload of hate mail than usual. The piece concerned the persistent problem of denialism in parts of White America when it comes to race. I lamented how, despite media and political insinuations that whites have become an oppressed group, it is people of color — and in particular, African-Americans — who remain the real casualties of discrimination:

   You can see [this racism] in black unemployment rates, which are twice as high as white unemployment rates — a disparity that persists even when controlling for education levels. You can see it in a 2004 MIT study showing that job-seekers with “white names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews” than job seekers with comparable resumes and “African-American-sounding names.” And you can see it in a news media that looks like an all-white country club and a U.S. Senate that includes no black legislators.

I stand by my argument. It is a fact that the most problematic and widespread application of this denialism takes the form represented by white conservatives who angrily insist that racism against minorities is not only dead, but that African-Americans enjoy undue favoritism.

Eugene Robinson: Nothing but Dogs in This Hunt

Here’s my question for the Republican Party: How’s that Rick Perry stuff workin’ out for ya?

You’ll recall that Sarah Palin asked a similar question last year about President Obama’s “hopey-changey stuff.” Indeed, hopey-changey has been through a bad patch. But now the GOP is still desperately seeking a candidate it can love. Or even like.

That Perry was crushed by Herman Cain-yes, I said Herman Cain-in the Florida straw poll Saturday confirms that the tough-talking Texas governor’s campaign is in serious trouble. He’s the one who put it there with a performance in last week’s debate that was at times disjointed, at times disastrous.

Allison Kilkenny: Abysmal Occupy Wall Street Coverage: Rubbernecking At The New York Times

Over the weekend, my inbox exploded with angry messages from people who had just read this New York Times article (though it reads more like an op-ed) about the Occupy Wall Street protest. Ginia Bellafante gives a devastating account of the event’s attendees, depicting them as scatterbrained, sometimes borderline psychotic transients.

Bellafante, who is not a reporter but a critic for the Times, offered a representation of the protesters that is as muddled as the amalgam of activists’ motives she presents in the span of the article. She first claims a Joni Mitchell lookalike named Zuni Tikka is a “default ambassador” of the movement. In one of the following paragraphs, she then describes the protest as “leaderless.” Either the people at Zuccotti Park have official leadership or they don’t (they don’t, by the way). So either Tikka is an official spokesperson who warrants first-paragraph favorability, or Bellafante’s own biases persuaded her to put the kooky girl dancing around in her underwear in the spotlight.

The more serious aspect of the protest – the “scores of arrests” that occurred over the weekend including the arrests of more than 80 people, several of whom the police first penned and then maced- is offered as an aside in Bellafante’s article (she doesn’t mention the macing at all).

Stergios Skaperdas: Greece Needs to Default on Its Debt and Exit the Eurozone

If the current Greek government can’t take the necessary steps to do this, it should give way to other political forces than can

The demands of the EU, European Central Bank (ECB), IMF troika and the political climate in the northern parts of the eurozone have sent a clear message to the Greek people and the government of George Papandreou: “Do as we say, regardless of the consequences for you – or even for us.” The demands go well beyond those prescribed by conventional economics. They will deepen the depression and make full debt repayment even less likely than it now is. Therefore, the clear, strong nudge is for Greece to default as soon as practicable.

Michelle Chen What Do Students Learn When Cities Refuse to Fairly Treat Their Teachers?

Schools these days can be dangerous places: a volatile mix of fiscal crisis, ideological tension and impressionable young minds. But our troubled public schools can teach us a lot when they push struggling teachers from the classroom to the picket line.

On Friday, stalled contract talks at Cincinnati State Technical & Community College compelled nearly 200 teachers to go on strike. Basic labor rights are at stake, with the administration “claiming it needs financial flexibility and teachers claiming the right to negotiate critical working conditions,” according to the Enquirer. The standoff appears to be a proxy battle over Ohio Senate Bill 5, which aims to strip away collective bargaining rights. The measure mirrors the infamous anti-union bill that rocked Wisconsin earlier this year, and parallels a national debate over public sector labor in which many educators have taken the helm.

Jeff Biggers; Coalfield Activists Turn Tables at Mountaintop Removal Hearings

In gut-wrenching testimonies on the devastating economic costs and mounting humanitarian crisis related to reckless mountaintop removal operations, two courageous Appalachian coalfield leaders turned the tables on an EPA-bashing Republican-led Natural Resources House Committee hearing in Charleston, West Virginia today.

“The coal industry obviously wants to bury and pollute all of our water and all of who we are, for temporary jobs,” 2009 North American Goldman Prize winner Maria Gunnoe testified. “Jobs in surface mining are dependent on blowing up the next mountain and burying the next stream. When are we going to say enough is enough?

In holding the hearing in the Appalachian coalfields, Republican members — and their Big Coal bankrolled Democrat allies — had initially brought their thinly veiled political circus of coal industry wags under the banner of “”Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.” In a parting gift to the coal industry, George W. Bush altered the ineffective but longstanding rule that was supposed to prevent companies from dumping toxic coal waste within 100 feet of a stream. Under the Obama administration, the Interior Department has spent more than two years to study a reversal of the manipulation by the Bush administration.

On This Day In History September 27

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.

September 27 is the 270th day of the year (271st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 95 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1922, Jean-François Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone with the help of groundwork laid by his predecessors: Athanasius Kircher, Silvestre de Sacy, Johan David Akerblad, Thomas Young, and William John Bankes. Champollion translated parts of the Rosetta Stone, showing that the Egyptian writing system was a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs.

Thomas Young was one of the first to attempt decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, basing his own work on the investigations of Swedish diplomat Akerblad, who built up a demotic  alphabet of 29 letters (15 turned out to be correct) and translated all personal names and other words in the Demotic part of the Rosetta Stone  in 1802. Akerblad however, wrongly believed that demotic was entirely phonetic or alphabetic. Young thought the same, and by 1814 he had completely translated the enchorial (which Champollion labeled Demotic as it is called today) text of the Rosetta Stone (he had a list with 86 demotic words). Young then studied the hieroglyphic alphabet and made some progress but failed to recognise that demotic and hieroglyphic texts were paraphrases and not simple translations. In 1823 he published an Account of the Recent Discoveries in Hieroglyphic Literature and Egyptian Antiquities. Some of Young’s conclusions appeared in the famous article Egypt he wrote for the 1818 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

When Champollion, in 1822, published his translation of the hieroglyphs and the key to the grammatical system, Young and all others praised this work. Young had indicated in a letter to Gurney that he wished to see Champollion acknowledge that he had made use of Young’s earlier work in assisting his eventual deciphering of hieroglyphics. Champollion was unwilling to share the credit even though initially he had not recognized that hieroglyphics were phonetic. Young corrected him on this, and Champollion attempted to have an early article withdrawn once he realized his mistake. Strongly motivated by the political tensions of that time, the British supported Young and the French Champollion. Champollion completely translated the hieroglyphic grammar based in part upon the earlier work of others including Young. However, Champollion maintained that he alone had deciphered the hieroglyphs. After 1826, he did offer Young access to demotic manuscripts in the Louvre, when he was a curator. Baron Georges Cuvier (1825) credited Champollion’s work as an important aid in dating the Dendera Zodiac.

Plant A Tree For Wangari

Plant a Tree for Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai Dead at 71

Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves by Replenishing the Earth

by Wangari Maathai

I didn’t think digging holes and mobilizing communities to protect or restore the trees, forests, watersheds, soil, or habitats for wildlife that surrounded them was spiritual work.

During my more than three decades as an environmentalist and campaigner for democratic rights, people have often asked me whether spirituality, different religious traditions, and the Bible in particular had inspired me, and influenced my activism and the work of the Green Belt Movement (GBM). Did I conceive conservation of the environment and empowerment of ordinary people as a kind of religious vocation? Were there spiritual lessons to be learned and applied to their own environmental efforts, or in their lives as a whole?

When I began this work in 1977, I wasn’t motivated by my faith or by religion in general. Instead, I was thinking literally and practically about solving problems on the ground. I wanted to help rural populations, especially women, with the basic needs they described to me during seminars and workshops. They said that they needed clean drinking water, adequate and nutritious food, income, and energy for cooking and heating. So, when I was asked these questions during the early days, I’d answer that I didn’t think digging holes and mobilizing communities to protect or restore the trees, forests, watersheds, soil, or habitats for wildlife that surrounded them was spiritual work.

Occupy Wall St. Finally Gets Media Attention

Keith Olbermann reports on Occupy Wall St. and the “clear case of police brutality”. Going into its eleventh day, the protest has finally started to get attention from the media, sadly, not because of the mission of the protest to bring attention on the abuses of Wall St and the banks but because of the over-reacton of the NYC Police Department to an essentially peaceful demonstration and obvious police brutality.

The movement has received attention in the world press such as the Guardian UK and Al Jazeera. Also filmmaker and activist Michael Moore has taken up the cause, visiting the site and Noam Chomsky announced his solidarity adding to the encouragement of the protesters to continue bring their message about corporate greed and social inequality. It was also revealed that the white shirted police officer who maliciously maced the young women on Saturday has been accused of civil rights violations at the time of the 2004 Republican national convention protests.

In case anyone has missed the reason of Occupy Wall St. here it is:

Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.

The occupation will continue and if you can’t be there, please, donate.

“I Dream Of Another Recession”

Never mind dreaming of Jeannie, trader Alessio Rastani tells the BBC host that he goes to bed dreaming of the next recession and doesn’t care what happens to the economy because people like him will make a fortune from the crash. He almost makes an ambulance chasing lawyer sound like a humanitarian but he’s not wrong just painfully realistic.

‘Governments Don’t Rule the World, Goldman Sachs’ Does

“This is not a time right now for wishful thinking that governments are going to sort things out,” Rastani told the BBC. “The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.”

In a candid interview about the Eurozone rescue plan, Rastani said the market is ruled by fear and cannot be saved by the rescue plan.

“They know the stock market is toast,” he said. “They know the stock market is finished.”

Rastani said most investors are moving their money to places it would be more safe, like U.S. treasuries and the dollar, as they simply do not care about the state of the economy but rather about their own pockets.

“Personally it doesn’t matter,” he said. “See I’m a trader. I don’t really care about that kind of stuff. If I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that.”


“For most traders…we don’t really care that much about how they’re going to fix the economy, how they’re going to fix the whole situation,” Rastani said. “Our job is to make money from it.”

h/t Yves Smith @ naked capitalism

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 9.23.2011

Worst Persons: A “peck” of Republicans, O’Reilly and Pam Olsen

“Find out why a “peck” of Republicans comprised of Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan and conservative columnist John Feehery is WORSE; FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly is WORSER; and Pam Olsen, Rick Perry’s new Florida campaign co-chair, is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for September 23, 2011.


Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 48 stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Former aides of Japan strongman Ozawa sentenced


1 hr 17 mins ago

Three former aides of veteran Japanese power broker Ichiro Ozawa were found guilty in a political funding scandal Monday in a surprise ruling which could block his return to the centre stage.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced the trio to suspended prison terms of one to three years for filing false reports on political funds involving Ozawa.

Ozawa, 69, who helped the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to power in a 2009 electoral landslide, has also been indicted on charges of conspiring in the case and his trial is due to start on October 6.