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Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting Shit Done

And that's why Obama's incrementalism, his refusal to pose as a presidential magician, and his resistance to taking the bait of the fetid right (he's president - not a cable news host) seems to me to show not weakness, but a lethal and patient strength. And a resilient ambition.
[Re-posted from earlier today]
What are the odds that Obama's huge success yesterday in getting BP to pledge a cool $20 billion to recompense the "small people" in the Gulf will get the same attention as his allegedly dismal speech on Tuesday night? If you take Memeorandum as an indicator, it really is no contest. The speech is still being dissected by language experts, but the $20 billion that is the front page news in the NYT today? Barely anywhere on the blogs.
This is just a glimpse into the distortion inherent in our current political and media culture. It's way easier to comment on a speech - his hands were moving too much! - than to note the truly substantive victory, apparently personally nailed down by Obama, in the White House yesterday. If leftwing populism in America were anything like as potent as right-wing populism - Matt Bai has a superb analysis of this in the NYT today - there would be cheering in the streets. But there's nada, but more leftist utopianism and outrage on MSNBC. And since there's no end to this spill without relief wells, this is about as much as Obama can do, short of monitoring clean-up efforts, or rather ongoing management of the ecological nightmare of an unstopped and unstoppable wound in the ocean floor.
I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control - big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms. When you do, you realize that the left's "disgruntleist" faction needs to take a chill pill. LinkHere

BP Supervisor Was Fired For Expressing Safety Concerns

Ken Abbott, a former project control supervisor on BP's Atlantis deepwater oil rig, was fired in 2009 after expressing concerns about the safety of the operation.
"I got a lot of pressure from the lead engineers and from the managers saying, 'Don't do that; don't push so much; we don't want to mess with that,'" Abbott told HuffPost in an interview Wednesday. "I feel like the real reason I was fired was because I was trying to raise a safety issue, and you know BP has a long history of getting rid of people who try to raise safety issues. I was one of those victims."
"Management sets the tone," Abbott added. "If they think that production is more important than safety, then that's the tone of the company, and that was the tone at Atlantis." LinkHere

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Joe Barton Managed To Have A Worse Day Than Tony Hayward

It's okay for a corporation to shake down the citizens of his country--but not okay for that country to require accountability for destruction of it's environment, endangering industries, wildlife and lifestyle of entire communities.
watta treasonous b@st@rd. SO typical of republicans
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, went out on a limb today to do something maybe no other American would think to do: He apologized to BP for having to put $20 billion into a fund for Gulf spill damages. Only Barton called it a "slush fund" and a "shakedown."
Barton's apology to BP led at first to a delicate dance, as some Republicans tried to move away from the so obviously toxic statements without outright condemning Barton, and later a full court press as Republican leaders publicly called Barton's comments "wrong."
The leaders reportedly gave him an ultimatum: "Apologize, immediately. Or you will lose your position, immediately."
Eventually, Barton, who would become the energy committee's chairman should the Republicans take the House this fall, said he was sorry. He first apologized if anyone had "misconstrued" his statement, and shortly after apologized for using the word "shakedown" and retracted his original apology (to BP, that is).
Nonetheless, House GOP leaders came down on Barton hard.
"The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation's largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority. Congressman Barton's statements this morning were wrong," House GOP leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence said in a statement.
It's worth nothing that the leaders have not condemned a statement put out yesterday by the Republican Study Committee, a conservative bloc of more than 100 House members led by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), that called the escrow account a "Chicago-style political shakedown." Nor has the RSC apologized. However, by Thursday evening the release appeared to have been removed from the RSC's site, replaced with the message "We are sorry, but this document is not published."
Boehner told reporters earlier today that he disagrees with Barton's characterization of the government's response. He also said he's "glad" BP is "being held accountable."
NRSC chairman Sen. John Cornyn said he "shares" Barton's concern that "this has really become a political issue for the President and he's trying to deal with it by showing how tough he's being against BP." LinkHere

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Autistic Student Eric Duquette Amazes Audience With Graduation Speech

Awesome achievement Eric, Congratulations
The parents of Rhode Island high school student Eric Duquette were told their son would end up in an institution.

Instead, Duquette went on to become salutatorian of his high school class -- and was accepted at every college to which he applied, ABC News reports.

Duquette was diagnosed with autism at an early age and didn't talk until he was five. His mother worked with him to learn to talk, even teaching him sign language. Today, Duquette speaks English and Spanish.

And addressing his classmates this week, Duquette inspired his peers with wise words.

"Daniel Webster wrote that 'if my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest,'" Duquette said. "For me, learning to communicate did mean regaining all the rest."

Duquette will start at Rhode Island College in the fall LinkHere

Is Blackwater's Erik Prince Moving to the United Arab Emirates?

"It is nobody’s business where Mr. Prince (or anyone else) chooses to live. So I’m afraid I will not be able to confirm any rumors."
Blackwater spokesperson Mark Corallo

Sources close to Blackwater and its secretive owner Erik Prince claim that the embattled head of the world's most infamous mercenary firm is planning to move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Middle Eastern nation, a major hub for the US war industry, has no extradition treaty with the United States. In April, five of Prince's top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince's longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy and Prince's former legal counsel Andrew Howell.
The Blackwater/Erik Prince saga took yet another dramatic turn last week, when Prince abruptly announced that he was putting his company up for sale.
While Prince has not personally been charged with any crimes, federal investigators and several Congressional committees clearly have his company and inner circle in their sights. The Nation learned of Prince's alleged plans to move to the UAE from three separate sources. One Blackwater source told The Nation that Prince intends to sell his company quickly, saying the "sale is going to be a fast move within a couple of months."
Mark Corallo, a trusted Prince advisor and Blackwater spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the allegation that Prince is planning to move to the United Arab Emirates. "I have a policy on not discussing my client’s personal lives—especially when that client is a private citizen," Corallo, who runs his own crisis management and PR firm, said in an e-mail to The Nation. "It is nobody’s business where Mr. Prince (or anyone else) chooses to live. So I’m afraid I will not be able to confirm any rumors."
A source with knowledge of the federal criminal probe into Blackwater's activities told The Nation that none of Prince's indicted colleagues have flipped on Prince since being formally charged, but rumors abound in Blackwater and legal circles that Prince may one day find himself in legal trouble. Former Blackwater employees claim they have provided federal prosecutors with testimony about what they allege is Prince's involvement in illegal activity.
If Prince's rumored future move is linked to concerns over possible indictment, the United Arab Emirates would be an interesting choice for a new home—particularly because it does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. "If Prince were not living in the US, it would be far more complicated for US prosecutors to commence an action against him," says Scott Horton, a Columbia University Law lecturer and international law expert who has long tracked Blackwater. "There is a long history of people thwarting prosecutors simply by living overseas." The UAE, Horton says, is "definitely a jurisdiction where Prince could count on it not being simple for the US to pursue him legally." LinkHere

Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Owner Erik Prince’s Rumored Move to UAE and Obama Admin’s Expansion of Special Forces Operations Abroad

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hypocracy thy name is GOP

Since the Republicans lost control of Congress and the White House, they have conveniently decided it’s time to rein in spending after helping President Bush bequeath the current administration with a more than $1 trillion deficit.
Part of that campaign has been to target the once sacrosanct emergency war funding. Republicans made a fuss last year because the war funding bill contained money for the IMF. Last month, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said war funding needs to be paid for. Today on ABC’s Top Line, Sen. John Thune (R-ND) indicated that most Republicans are starting to hold this view:
THUNE: Republicans are increasingly, I think, dug in on the issue of making sure that new spending is offset. … Frankly, I think that there is even a growing consensus among Republicans that we need to start budgeting for this, we need to start figuring out how to pay for it. And I think that’s kind of the majority view among Republicans now.
The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim has noted the obvious hypocrisy here:

Obama BP Meeting: Company Agrees To $20 Billion Escrow Account For Victims

Well he didn't need all those theatrics to get the job done now did he, Another one for Obama, Who the hell was it that got 20 billion no caps in 15 mins, I think that essentially is a President taking charge, without being God and capping the well with his own two hands. This is going to blow their friking minds all those nay sayers and opinionators he just blew them away again, Just thinking maybe all those states will not want the money, just like they didn't want the stimulus, just surmising here Down Under
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senior administration officials tell The Associated Press that BP has agreed to finance a $20 billion fund to pay the claims of people whose jobs and way of life have been damaged by the devastating Gulf Coast oil spill.
The independent fund will be led by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw payments to families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama met on his own turf with top BP officials on Wednesday to press his demands that the London-based oil giant pay into a claims fund for victims of the worst oil spill in the nation's history.
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO Tony Hayward, and other officials walked slowly as a group from the Southwest Gate of the White House, where they were dropped off, and climbed the steps leading to the West Wing.
The meeting comes the morning after Obama vowed to an angry nation that "we will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused." BP is the majority owner of the deep water well that blew out on April 20, killing 11 rig workers and triggering the spill.
It was Obama's first meeting with BP officials since the spill. While Hayward has served as the voice of the company, the White House has been emphasizing the role of the company's chairman, Svanberg, instead. LinkHere

BP boss says sorry, agrees to $23bn clean-up fund after pressure from Barack Obama.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The vote Tuesday to repeal the mandate failed 187 to 230.

Your country would like to know.

He's in an undisclosed location counting his petrodollars.

Janet Ritz, 06.15.2010
Publisher, editor, the-environmentalist.org
Halliburton was a player in this worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States. It was their cementing of the well that did not hold. They were involved. Is that why Mr. Cheney has been so silent?

Fox propaganda no retraction of story they hammered for months and months . ... equals NO INTEGRITY.

Vindication a little late, I think!!!!!!! ACORN Vindicated of Wrongdoing by the Congressional Watchdog Office
John Atlas, 06.15.2010
For years Republicans accused ACORN of corruption and used phony tapes to lead an effort to successfully strip the group of federal funding in 2009. Now, months later, the group has been exonerated from any wrongdoing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

APNewsBreak: Losing SC Senate candidate protesting

Source: AP

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Former state lawmaker Vic Rawl on Monday formally protested the results of the U.S. Senate primary he lost last week to an unknown, unemployed military veteran.

South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Jay Parmley said Rawl filed his protest with the party just before the noon deadline.

Greene stunned state party leaders last Tuesday when he defeated Rawl in the primary. Neither candidate had done much campaigning, but Greene had raised no money and had no ads or website.

Rawl says experts who have analyzed the data say they've noticed irregularities in the vote totals. He planned an afternoon news conference in Charleston. LinkHere

6 Days Before Explosion, BP Engineer Called Deepwater Horizon A 'nightmare Well'

Source: AP

(AP) WASHINGTON (AP) - Six days before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, a BP drilling engineer called the rig a "nightmare well" that had caused the company problems in the past.

The comment by BP engineer Brian Morel came in an e-mail April 14. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion killed 11 people and sent tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf in the nation's worst environmental disaster.

The e-mail was among dozens of internal documents released Monday in Washington by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the explosion and its aftermath. Committee leaders said BP made a series of questionable decisions before the explosion that "posed a trade-off between cost and well safety." LinkHere

This release of documents is the basis for this story:

BP’s Well Failure Due to Effort to Save $10 Million?
Well Design. On April 19, one day before the blowout, BP installed the final section of steel tubing in the well. BP had a choice of two primary options: it could lower a fu ll string of “casing” from the top of the wellhead to the bottom of the well, or it could hang a ” liner” from the lower end of the casing already in the well and install a “tieback” on top of the liner. The liner-tieback option would have taken extra time and was more expensive, but it would have been safer because it provided more barriers to the flow of gas up the annul ar space surrounding these steel tubes. A BP plan review prepared in mid-April recommended against the full string of casing because it would create “an open annulus to the wellhead” and make the seal assembly at the wellhead the “only barrier” to gas flow if the cement job failed. Despite this and other warnings, BP chose the more risky casing option, apparently because the liner option would have cost $7 to $10 million more and taken longer.

Centralizers. When the final string of casing was installed, one key chall enge was making sure the casing ran down the center of the well bore. As the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended practices explain, if the casing is not centered, “it is difficult, if not impossible, to displace mud effectively from the narrow side of the annulus,” resulting in a failed cement job. Halliburton, the contractor hired by BP to cement the well, warned BP that the well could have a “SEVERE gas flow problem” if BP lowered the final string of casing with only six centralizers instead of the 21 recommended by Halliburton. BP rejected Halliburton’s advice to use additional centralizers. In an e-mail on April 16, a BP official involved in the decision explained: ” it will take 10 hours to install them . .. . I do not like this.” Later that day, another official recognized the risks of proceeding with insufficient centralizers but commented: “who cares, it’s done, end of story, will probably be fine.” much more:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Congratulations well done, first time I have ever respected a Bush

Israel proceeds with own flotilla probe

JERUSALEM — Israel has proposed an inquiry commission into its bloody attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla two weeks ago, to be headed by a retired Israeli judge and to include two high-ranking foreign observers.
A government statement said the "independent public commission" proposal would be brought before Israel's Cabinet on Monday for approval.
Chairing the commission would be Yaakov Turkel, a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, the statement said. The two foreign observers would be Lord William David Trimble of Ireland, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and retired Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin, the former chief military prosecutor in Canada.
Israel has come under withering criticism for its May 30 raid on the flotilla, in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Arab world's top diplomat declared support Sunday for the people of blockaded Gaza in his first visit to the Palestinian territory since Hamas violently seized control of it three years ago.
The visit was latest sign that Israel's deadly raid on a flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza has eased the diplomatic isolation of the Islamic militant group.
Israel, meanwhile, appeared to grow more isolated in the fallout over the May 31 raid as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak abruptly canceled plans Sunday to visit Paris.
Barak's office said he canceled his trip while Israel forms a committee to investigate the raid. The statement denied that the decision was connected to attempts by pro-Palestinian groups to seek his arrest.
Israeli defense officials said Barak was concerned about the unwanted attention his visit would attract. In particular, they pointed to the heavy media attention and difficult questions he would face as well as the heightened security arrangements the visit would require. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
Activists have previously tried unsuccessfully to arrest Barak and other Israeli officials in Europe under the principle of universal jurisdiction. LinkHere
Call by Arab League chief for Israeli blockade to be 'broken' hailed by Hamas.
Says won't be 'impartial'; Int'l observers on panel have no votes.

Mr President this view show how hypocracy knows no bounds, it is "obscene, offensive, and reprehensible"

This past Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a wide-ranging speech at an Orthodox Union event in Washington, D.C. The senator’s lecture touched on areas such as Iran’s nuclear program, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and several domestic policy issues.
During one point of his speech, Schumer turned his attention to the situation in Gaza. He told the audience that the “Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution,” and also that “they don’t believe in the Torah, in David.” He went on to say “you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay.”
New York’s senior senator explained that the current Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip — which is causing a humanitarian crisis there — is not only justified because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it shows the Palestinians living there that “when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement.” Summing up his feelings, Schumer emphasized the need to “to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go”:
SCHUMER: The Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution. More do than before, but a majority still do not. Their fundamental view is, the Europeans treated the Jews badly and gave them our land — this is Palestinian thinking [...] They don’t believe in the Torah, in David [...] You have to force them to say Israel is here to stay. The boycott of Gaza to me has another purpose — obviously the first purpose is to prevent Hamas from getting weapons by which they will use to hurt Israel — but the second is actually to show the Palestinians that when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement. When there’s total war against Israel, which Hamas wages, they’re going to get nowhere. And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense. LinkHere

At last someone says something worthwhile.

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