Archive for May 19, 2010

Oil Stain Removal–Lessons From The Laundry Room

We’ve all had it happen–you spill a bit of greasy or oily food on your clothes and then frantically try to get it out before it stains–warm water, a bit of soap, stain remover.  But the spot is still there, and your favorite blouse is ruined.  Imagine this concept on a very grand scale…

Yesterday on Twitter,  Kate Sheppard, an environmental reporter for Mother Jones, posted the following comments by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding the oil disaster in the Gulf at a Congressional hearing on the matter:

  1. Jackson: EPA reserves right to stop use of dispersants under the water if determined that risks out weigh benefits.
  2. Jackson: “We are working with BP and other to get less toxic dispersants to the site as quickly as possible.”
  3. Jackson: “In the use of dispersants we are faced with environmental tradeoffs.”
  4. Jackson: “We are also deeply concerned about the things we don’t know. The long term effects on aquatic life are not known.”
  5. Jackson: “… and the use of subsea dispersants is unprecedented.”
  6. Jackson: “That there are very large, unprecedented volumes of dispersants being used at the surface … “
  7. Jackson, still on UK Corexit ban: “We’re still looking into it.”
  8. Also, re: UK ban on Corexit: seems like their ban “had less to do with inherent toxicity and more to do with near-shore impacts”
  9. Jackson says that perhaps the science is far enough along in understanding the impacts of dispersant use in this volume.
  10. Jackson, more on dispersants: “There has been a real reliance on them, maybe more than anybody thought would ever happen.”

Regarding the first statement above–there is only one itsy bitsy problem with this–we likely won’t know the harms until after it is used since obviously any sort of realistic scientific testing has not been done.  And the comments in total amount to bureaucratic doublespeak for hell if we know/we got nothing.  Which makes this morning’s announcement that BP has been given a go-ahead to use the dispersants below the surface very ominous indeed.

“Based on the scientific analysis of the EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and review by the National Response Team, it has been determined that the use of dispersants at the subsea source is the prudent and responsible action to take along with other tactics including surface dispersant, skimming and controlled burns,” said Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen, the spill’s national incident commander…

…to safeguard nearshore areas from any dispersant-related harm, these chemicals may not be used within three miles of the U.S. coastline or where water is less than 10 meters deep.”

Really?  Did someone tell the dispersant to stay in the deep end and not even to think about surfing on in to shore.  Forgive me for not feeling re-assured.  I’ve posted a lot about this disaster in the last few weeks.  It isn’t because it is the only horrific problem facing this world, but for reasons that I can’t even verbalize, it has pierced my soul.  It wakes me at night and haunts me during the day.  William Rivers Pitt says it more eloquently than I in describing his response to this series of photos of the disaster from the Boston Globe:

“I’m beginning to believe I have lost the capacity to weep. We’ve been through so much in the last ten years. So much damage has been done in so many places and in so many ways. Millions of people have died in wars and acts of terrorism, of disease and starvation and neglect and atrocity. Our Constitution has been ravaged, our economy pillaged, New Orleans was shattered and Detroit has been left to rot. The Supreme Court sealed the deal and made us all slaves to the corporate ethic, which scantly exists beyond a profit motive devoid of morals or genuine patriotism.

But something in those pictures makes me feel worse than I have in a long time, even after encompassing every other horror we have endured. I can’t explain why; worse things have happened than this Gulf spill (maybe), but my heart hurts and my gut feels hollow when I look at the pictures, and I cannot weep.”


In the end perhaps it comes to this–you can always buy a new blouse, but when the ocean is ruined, it cannot be replaced.


Post Election Reflection On Tea Parties In Bourbon Country

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to vote in the Kentucky primary with my youngest son who was voting for the first time. Afterwords, I congratulated my son for becoming a stakeholder in everything that is wrong in this country.

This morning I’m sitting here sipping a lovely cup of organic green tea, wondering how it is that a wingnut crazy tea partier like Rand Paul could win the Republican primary for Senate. I mean Mitch McConnell is the man in this state and he supported Paul’s opponent. And that so far as I know is the only time I ever agreed with McConnell. This morning ABC’s Robin Roberts wondering how this ‘populist’ movement leader could have delivered his victory speech at a country club, gotta love Paul’s explanation:

“This morning on ‘GMA’ Republican and Tea Party victor in Kentucky’s Senate Primary, Rand Paul spoke with Robin Roberts about his victory. He’s already coming under fire for holding a victory party at a private country club while at the same time claiming to be a man of the people:

ROBIN: Some people find it a bit ironic that your victory party last night was at a private country club in Kentucky. Doesn’t that kind of send a mixed message there?

PAUL: I think at one time people used to think of golf and golf courses and golf clubs as being exclusive. But I think in recent years now you see a lot of people playing golf. I think Tiger Woods has helped to broaden that in the sense that he’s brought golf to a lot of the cities and to city youth, and so no, I don’t think it’s nearly as exclusive as people once considered it to be.”

Presumably we will soon see Paul campaigning on the golf courses on the west (and decidedly less white and rich) side of Louisville. Oh wait, what golf courses?

And here is a picture of Paul’s private security detail before the election–let’s just gaze upon that for a bit and try to imagine what this guy would be like if he got elected. In November, how about we actually get out there and vote, because when less than 30% of us do so, it isn’t the voters who bear the blame, it is those who don’t.


Election Promises And The Games People Play

For some of us, today is a primary election day.  This cartoon was done in honor of the eve of the recent British elections, but it will strike a chord wherever you happen to be voting:

“It’s the eve of our general election and … well, we are terribly excited, we just can’t begin to describe. Democracy is the shit, let me tell you that. Tomorrow, we get to choose which flavour of inept repression we’d most like for the next 5 years. You can have any flavour, as long as it’s “self-serving”.

Most likely, you’ll be voting for someone you don’t give a fig about, just because you don’t want the Tories/Labour/LibDems getting in. Ahh, glorious democracy, how can we celebrate thee? (except for putting an ‘x’ in a box every 5 years)”

These hilarious folks also have a couple of note-worthy  games available for purchase:

War On Terror:  The Boardgame: It’s got suicide bombers, political kidnaps and intercontinental war. It’s got filthy propaganda, rampant paranoia and secret treaties and the Axis of Evil is a spinner in the middle of the board.

It’s got suicide bombers, political kidnaps and intercontinental war. It’s got filthy propaganda, rampant paranoia secret treaties…

You can fight terrorism, you can fund terrorism, you can even be the terrorists. The only thing that matters is global domination – err, liberation.

They also offer a board game called Crunch:

As the CEO of a global bank, it’s your personal responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Call in government bailouts, award yourself inappropriate bonuses and – when no one’s looking – embezzle as much as you can, before it all comes crashing down around you.

(H/t) to Common Dreams for pointing to this cornucopia of attitude.)


The Fossil Fuel Party–Oil Over?

One of the problems with the gulf oil disaster is it isn’t a 30 second and we’re done sort of a story.  Nor is it a simple story–the amount of leaking oil, the extent of the damage, who is to blame, the path it will follow and how well the ‘cleanup’ will work are all aspects of the story that will be unknown for quite some time.

It’s a hard story for the media to cover and a hard one for the public to fully grasp.  In an effort to try to understand what we know at this point, I started making a list of links to information about various parts of this story.  And because I’m a really nice person who likes to share, here is what I found:

Meanwhile, dead turtles like this are starting to wash up on our shores:

And how did it happen–this excellent graphic from NOAA explains:

  • So just how much oil is gushing?  Good question–probably more than we’ve been told.
  • And as if that weren’t all depressing and infuriating enough, the story that should be screaming at the top of page one but is almost completely awol in the media is this:

Peak oil is coming to an end

  • Finally, here is a series of videos running around the web this morning showing just how easy it is to boycott BP–you drive away and go to another gas station to tank up.  While boycotting BP is a worthy idea, doing it in your car might possibly be missing the point.  Here is another idea that makes the point in a slightly more principled way.  Call some friends, get some drums to bang on and make some signs and go stand in front of a well-traveled gas station and make some noise.  Count me in.



BP Sets Up Website For Cleanup Suggestions

Oh how cool is this–BP has set up a website where you, yes you can submit your suggestions for how to clean up all that nasty oil that they accidentally spilled.  No word yet on if they are offering a prize for the winning idea.  Great chance to tell them where they can go shove themselves.


BP CEO Says Amount Of Oil In Gulf Is “Tiny”

Well it isn’t really, but he really said it.

Strong contender for the most effed up quote ever, via Grist:

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

— Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum

One wonders how Mr. Hayward would categorize the number of dead fish, the destroyed wetlands, the lost jobs in the fishing industry, the lost tourism…oh never mind.

Can we say delusional? Memo to Mr. Hayward:  Jail cells aren’t all that big either.


Let’s Quit Calling It A Spill

There are many ways in which to describe the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Any of the following will do:



Greedy, Criminal Corporate Arrogance

But spill? Not so much.

When I think of a spill, I think of this:

NOT this:

What happened should not be allowed to be framed in terms of oops, my bad. It is the catastrophic aftermath of the perfect storm that is the result of our very failed national energy policy and the persistent prioritizing of corporate greed over the public good.


Snake Oil Salesmen

The gulf oil disaster is beginning to become a predictable story–too little oversight, lax laws (and if you want to know why, just follow the money), profit over environment rather literally blows up in our faces and we got nothing except a lot of Congressional hearings, hand-wringing, brow-beating and good old fashioned buck passing, maybe a quick trip to bankruptcy court which will lead to lack of financial culpability and then surprise surprise, BP will be back to profitability in no time while the fishing and tourism industries die, along with the flora and fauna and we’ll keep drill baby drilling. Another episode of mourning in America and still we don’t get that this can’t continue.

Tennessee Coal Ash Disaster 2008--They called that a spill too.

Tennessee Coal Ash Disaster 2008--They called that a "spill" too.


I saw a story this morning about the media being denied access to the disaster response headquarters which makes me grateful for the media heroes who are determined to tell the truth even if they do get turned away at the door.  Watching Alabama resident John Walthen’s fly-over video of the slick reminds me of the citizen videos of the Tennessee coal ash disaster, absolute environmental destruction.

In Walthen’s words,

“At nine miles out, we began to smell the oil… What I see on the horizon–nothing but a red mass of floating goo.”

Watch Walthen’s devastating video.  And then cry.  And scream.  Do not let BP and Halliburton, or the government or the media push this story to the back page, do not let them frame it as an accident, a spill.  It is neither of those 2 things–it is an eco-catastrophe caused by negligence and greed, no matter what the snake oil salesmen tell us.


Reversing Reality

What happens when we totally reverse our thinking?  A great exercise in how little it really takes to change the frame. H/t to Martha Allen for sharing this.

Don’t just listen, Watch:


From June Jordan’s “The Revolution Now”

The following is an excerpt from “The Revolution Now:  Update On Beloved Community”, an essay by June Jordan written in 1997 and delivered at a celebration of Martin Luther King’s life.  Necessary strength and faith during these overwhelming times, and still so relevant:

June Jordan

June Jordan

And you cannot achieve a stabilized mutually respectful, conscientious, neither dominant nor submissive, love, without a revolution of the spirit that invented and imposed and enforced iniquities of inequality in the first place.

Is there reason for hope?…

,,,I know there is.

It may be small.  It may be dim.  But there is a fire transfiguring the muted, the daunted spirit of people everywhere.  Like the “still small voice” that came to the prophet Elijah, this is not a spectacular, televised conflagration.  But the burning away of passivity and misplaced anger and self-loathing among the poor and the invisible and the inaudible and the insecure and the economically dispensable and the socially ostracized–that burning away persists like the undeniable light from the farthest stars.

I know that it is happening.

–from Affirmative Acts, pg. 207