04/24/2014 archive

Deepwater Horizon 4 Years On

4 Years After BP Disaster, Ousted Drilling Chief Warns U.S. at Risk of Another Oil Spill

Democracy Now

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of what’s been called the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. It was April 20th, 2010, when an explosion and fire on BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform killed 11 workers and caused more than 200 million gallons of oil to spew into the Gulf of Mexico. Today, oil continues to wash up on some of the beaches of Louisiana.

Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business

Real News Network

April 22, 14

Well, I was looking for the evidence, because no one knew, when the Deepwater Horizon went down, that there was an identical blowout halfway around the world on a BP Transocean platform in the Caspian Sea.

And, by the way, both rigs, both rigs blew out for the same exact reason. BP uses something called quick-dry cement, because–you know the old phrase–watching cement dry is the slowest process out. But you can make cement dry quicker by actually shooting it with nitrogen gas, like, literally laughing gas. It turns the cement into, like, a milkshake consistency and it speeds up the drying. Well, that’s fine, except in high-pressure areas, when you use milkshake cement, quick-dry cement, which is just to save money, you’re going to blow out. That’s what happened in the Caspian Sea. And they covered it up. BP had never ever admitted that there was a blowout in the Caspian Sea.

Experts Warn: US ‘on Course to Repeat’ BP Gulf Disaster

Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

Friday, April 18, 2014

Birnbaum and Savitz write that the Obama administration has yet to act on recommendations which could make offshore drilling safer.

“We would never have imagined so little action would be taken to prevent something like this from happening again. But, four years later, the Obama administration still has not taken key steps recommended by its experts and experts it commissioned to increase drilling safety. As a result, we are on a course to repeat our mistakes,” they write.

Rather than scale back drilling, oceans face another assault with the administration’s proposal to allow the use of seismic air guns for oil exploration along the Atlantic coast, which Oceana has warned could amount to “death sentence” for marine mammals.

“We have seen this pattern before. The expansion of drilling into deeper water and farther from shore was not coupled with advances in spill prevention and response,” Birnbaum and Savitz write in their op-ed.

Compensation battle rages four years after BP’s U.S. oil spill

By Jemima Kelly, Reuters

Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:37am EDT

Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlement. Its portrayal of the aftermath of the well blowout and explosion of its drilling rig has also caused anger.

“They got an advert on TV saying they fixed the Gulf but I’ve never been fixed,” said Melancon, who was compensated by BP, but deems the sum inadequate.

The oil company has spent over $26 billion on cleaning up, fines and compensation for the disaster, which killed 11 people on the rig and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days after the blast on April 20, 2010.

That is more than a third of BP’s total revenues for 2013, and the company has allowed for the bill to almost double, while fighting to overturn and delay payments of claims it says have no validity, made after it relinquished control over who got paid in a settlement with plaintiff lawyers in March 2012.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: Lions to the Ballot Box

It’s important to vote in presidential election years, to make sure that the leader of the free world is truly representative of the country. But presidential politics is only part of the political apparatus – the part furthest from most individuals. Much of the rest of the political power has a much lower center of gravity, playing itself out on the state and local level. In fact, the more local an election or ballot measure, the more powerful the individual votes, because the universe of all voters shrinks.

This is what more voters must be made to understand: It’s negligent at best, and derelict at worst, to elect a president but stay home when the legislatures with which a president must work are being elected. Apathy insures enmity, as the president and the legislative branch both rightly proclaim that they have been sent to Washington at the behest of diametrically opposed voting populaces – the president by a broader, more diverse (in terms of race, age, income and ideology) demographic group, and many members of Congress by a more narrowly drawn one.

Jessica Valenti: When you call a rape anything but rape, you are just making excuses for rapists

From college campuses to Game of Thrones, why the sudden urge to re-name sexual assault?

If you kill a person, you’re a murderer. If you steal, no one would hesitate to call you a thief. But in America, when you force yourself on someone sexually, some people will jump through flaming hoops not to call you a rapist.

As reported by Al Jazeera America, colleges across the country are replacing the word “rape” in their sexual assault policies with “non-consensual sex” because schools don’t want label students “rapists”.

Brett Sokolow of the National Center for Higher Education Risk – the consultant and lawyer behind this reprehensible shift – says that hearing boards are “squeamish” about hearing or using the word, even for students actually found guilty of raping their classmates.

They’re not alone. Artist and Vice co-host David Choe described sexually assaulting a massage therapist but would only go so far as calling it “rape-y” and eventually denied it happened at all. Game of Thrones director Alex Graves gave an interview just this week in which he described a what was clearly a rape scene on Sunday night’s episode as “consensual.”

How can we stop rape if we’re not even willing to call it what it is?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: So You’ve Read (or Read About) Piketty. Now What?

When a product sells phenomenally well, as Thomas Piketty’s new book is currently doing, popular economic theory says that means one of two things: either it’s filling a substantial unmet demand, or the product is exceptionally well executed. In the case of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” both statements are true.

We are told that “Capital” is now at the top of the Amazon sales charts, outselling even mass-market novels with movie tie-ins like “Divergent.” That kind of meritocratic success story is, as Piketty’s work demonstrates, increasingly rare.

Piketty has given us a superior product. He has brilliantly and eloquently analyzed the crisis of inequality which threatens the global economy. The question now is, What do we do about it?

Daniel Denver: Welcome to Comcast Country

COMCAST’S executive vice president, David L. Cohen, did not seem fazed when Senator Al Franken warned at a recent Judiciary Committee hearing that the company’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable would “result in fewer choices, higher prices and even worse service for my constituents.” Comcast argues that the merger will not decrease competition among cable television or broadband Internet providers because the two companies do not directly compete – though the reason for that is that they already maintain virtual monopolies in many of their service areas.

In Comcast’s case, that monopoly is predicated upon exerting overwhelming political control. Just ask anyone who lives in Philadelphia, where the shiny 975-foot Comcast Center looms over the skyline. As buttons at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia proclaimed: “Welcome to Comcast Country.”

Clara Long: Obama’s red line on ‘good deportations’ is inhumane – and he has crossed it

He has tried to go both ways on immigration. But ask immigrants up close, and you’ll see that ‘border removals’ destroy lives

When it comes to immigration, President Obama wants to be seen two ways by two different audiences. For Americans resistant to immigration reform, he presents himself as a stalwart enforcer of the law. For those in favor of reform, he casts himself as a humane administrator of an inhumane system.

In an attempt to keep everyone happy, the Obama administration offers “tough on the outside, soft on the inside” rhetoric: secure the border to “finally stem the tide of illegal immigrants” while targeting serious criminals, not “folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families“. It’s an appealing formula – but it’s not what Obama’s administration is actually doing. [..]

President Obama has tried to convince us that there are good deportations and bad deportations, and that the more than 2m deportations carried out by his administration are mostly the good kind. But there are good reasons for thinking that many of those removed are settled residents who have been torn from their families and communities – and their deportation is inhumane and unnecessary.

Jillain C. York: The fight to protect digital rights is an uphill battle, but not a silent one

As awareness of censorship increases, so might attempts to create a sense of global solidarity against censorship

As more and more governments attempt to crack down on online speech, there are several possible outcomes. While this generation has become accustomed to watching sites disappear from their view, the next may take for granted the version of the Internet that lay before them, never questioning what may be beyond their view. On the other hand, as awareness of censorship increases, so might attempts to create a sense of global solidarity against censorship.

While views on speech often differ from culture to culture, the reaction to the NSA’s online surveillance project has been swift and global. A set of principles demanding an end to mass surveillance (full disclosure: these were developed in part by my organisation) has attracted signatories from hundreds of countries, united in their opposition to dragnet surveillance everywhere. At the same time, engineers and developers are working together across national lines to build software and tools that will help users everywhere protect themselves against spying.

The fight to protect digital rights is most certainly an uphill battle, but a new generation of activists is ensuring that it’s not a silent one.

The Breakfast Club-Troll This Diary!

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.  

(Truth be told, friends, we're really not that disorganized; the fact that we've managed to put this series together and stick with it disabuses the notion that we're disorganized, right?  Also, I wish I had a censored night once in awhile, but alas, this is something my producers made me say.)


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This Day in History



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On This Day In History April 24

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.

(Click on images to enlarge)

April 24 is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 251 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1916, Easter Rebellion begins.

On Easter Monday in Dublin, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret organization of Irish nationalists led by Patrick Pearse, launches the so-called Easter Rebellion, an armed uprising against British rule. Assisted by militant Irish socialists under James Connolly, Pearse and his fellow Republicans rioted and attacked British provincial government headquarters across Dublin and seized the Irish capital’s General Post Office. Following these successes, they proclaimed the independence of Ireland, which had been under the repressive thumb of the United Kingdom for centuries, and by the next morning were in control of much of the city. Later that day, however, British authorities launched a counteroffensive, and by April 29 the uprising had been crushed. Nevertheless, the Easter Rebellion is considered a significant marker on the road to establishing an independent Irish republic.

Following the uprising, Pearse and 14 other nationalist leaders were executed for their participation and held up as martyrs by many in Ireland. There was little love lost among most Irish people for the British, who had enacted a series of harsh anti-Catholic restrictions, the Penal Laws, in the 18th century, and then let 1.5 million Irish starve during the Potato Famine of 1845-1848. Armed protest continued after the Easter Rebellion and in 1921, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties won independence with the declaration of the Irish Free State. The Free State became an independent republic in 1949. However, six northeastern counties of the Emerald Isle remained part of the United Kingdom, prompting some nationalists to reorganize themselves into the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to continue their struggle for full Irish independence.


The Act of Union 1801 united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland, abolishing the Irish Parliament and giving Ireland representation at Westminster. From early on, many Irish nationalists opposed the union and what was seen as the exploitation of the country.

Opposition took various forms: constitutional (the Repeal Association; the Home Rule League), social (disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; the Land League) and revolutionary (Rebellion of 1848; Fenian Rising). Constitutional nationalism enjoyed its greatest success in the 1880s and 1890s when the Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell succeeded in having two Home Rule bills introduced by the Liberal government of William Ewart Gladstone, though both failed. The First Home Rule Bill of 1886 was defeated in the House of Commons, while the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893 was passed by the Commons but rejected by the House of Lords. After the fall of Parnell, younger and more radical nationalists became disillusioned with parliamentary politics and turned towards more extreme forms of separatism. The Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League and the cultural revival under W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, together with the new political thinking of Arthur Griffith expressed in his newspaper Sinn Féin and the organisations the National Council and the Sinn Féin League led to the identification of Irish people with the concept of a Gaelic nation and culture, completely independent of Britain. This was sometimes referred to by the generic term Sinn Féin.

The Third Home Rule Bill was introduced by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith in 1912. The Irish Unionists, led by Sir Edward Carson, opposed home rule in the light of what they saw as an impending Roman Catholic-dominated Dublin government. They formed the Ulster Volunteer Force on 13 January 1913.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) saw an opportunity to create an armed organisation to advance its own ends, and on 25 November 1913 the Irish Volunteers, whose stated object was “to secure and to maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland”, was formed. Its leader was Eoin MacNeill, who was not an IRB member. A Provisional Committee was formed that included people with a wide range of political views, and the Volunteers’ ranks were open to “all able-bodied Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics or social group.” Another militant group, the Irish Citizen Army, was formed by trade unionists as a result of the Dublin Lockout of that year. However, the increasing militarisation of Irish politics was overshadowed soon after by the outbreak of a larger conflict-the First World War  and Ireland’s involvement in the conflict.

TDS/TCR (Commedìa)



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