Seattle Police arrested two activists this morning for criminal trespass at the Canadian Consulate in Seattle's Century Plaza building after the activists U-locked their necks to the doors of a conference room. The activists were protesting the proposed expansion of Canadian tar sands oil production and export. Carlo Voli, a 46 year-old Edmonds resident, and Lisa Marcus, a 57 year-old Seattleite, were both cut free and arrested after 30 minutes of being locked to the doors, according to Adam Gaya, another activist on the scene.
Two other activists poured fake oil over unfurled Canadian and American flags in the consulate, while a dozen others protested outside the Century Plaza building in Westlake park. Rachel Stoeve, an activist who was carrying a banner in Westlake Park, wrote in the group's official statement, "We’re here to expose the collusion between the tar sands industry and the Canadian government."
Today's action was independent of, but in solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade, a group based out of Southwest Texas that is trying to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian oil to American refineries. Less well-publicized is the proposed increase in the number of tankers carrying tar sands through the Salish Sea and pipeline expansions in British Columbia. The pipeline expansions proposed in January by Canadian company Kinder-Morgan would nearly triple tar sands oil transport through the Trans Mountain Pipeline. They have also proposed an increase of oil tankers that would bring the total number to 360 tankers in the Salish Sea. Stoeve is worried that the Department of Ecology has no plan to deal with a potential spill, which could result in the loss of some 165,000 jobs and wipe out wildlife, such as the vulnerable resident orca population.
The Seattle group reports 50 arrests for the Tar Sands Blockade and its solidarity actions around the country this month.
Have you heard about the eight-acre sinkhole in Louisiana? Apparently, it's been "burping" up "debris"—including hydrocarbons, which are found in crude oil—and the surrounding swamp has been bubbling and smelling like gas. Local authorities have warned of explosions and evacuated hundreds of residents, who are angry that Governor Jindal, who only lives 50 miles away, hasn't visited.
Some say the sinkhole could be related to the BP Deepwater disaster and that "methane-bubble tsunami" people were talking about two years ago. Others blame a collapsed "brine storage cavern"
related to closer oil-drilling operations. (It appears this salt cavern was involved with salt mining, though engineered salt caves in the region are also used for oil and gas storage.)
Either way, this apparent drilling operation across the street from Stranger HQ—at least it sounds like a drilling operation—has us all on edge:
If we disappear into a smoking crater in the near future, don't blame the smiting hand of god. Blame the oil industry.
Why is gas almost 50 cents cheaper here (the middle of nowhere) than where I live, Columbia City (the middle of somewhere)?
No one died this time, so they've got that going for them.
This video is a couple of years old, but it reminded me of the story The Stranger ran last month about the way (or one way, at least) that Jiffy Lube misleads its customers. The difference between that story and the one below: Jiffy Lube executives evaded the TV reporter, but agreed to talk with The Stranger, and fully admitted that the bullshit was happening. ("We want to thank you for identifying that opportunity to improve our customer service," they said.)
As Goldy wrote in a post earlier today to Occupy Seattle's media team: "It's more effective to spin the facts than to ignore them."
Maybe the TV story below taught the Jiffy Lube higher-ups that lesson.
Thanks to Slog tipper Ned.
BP last week was awarded its first drilling permit since last year's Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that eventually leaked an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. The permit allows for drilling in the Kaskida prospect, a huge area nearly 250 miles south of Lafayette, La. It will be in 6,000 feet of water—deeper than the ill-fated Macondo well whose blowout triggered last year's spill.
Today, I'm working on a story that has to do with how local government uses oil and oil filters for its automotive fleet. I called the city a few minutes ago, and the operator who picked up said: "Well, I have some ideas of who you can talk to—I gotta list, but I want to make sure I get you someone who’s still working here and hasn’t been laid off yet. The list just can't keep up with the layoffs."
Food for thought for those of you at Occupy (not everyone at Occupy, but you know who you are) who think any government employee (cops, Parks and Rec, etc.) is The Enemy and that The People can do for their own selves—maybe volunteer to change some oil filters for a fire truck or two. It sounds like city mechanics are being laid off, which is a pity, and it'd be a double pity for a firetruck to throw a rod while rushing to extinguish the fire at your house. Or at anybody's house.
Government workers and the services they provide (fire, police, homeless shelters) are also part of the 99%. If you really want to smash the state, realize that we'll have to extinguish our own fucking house fires.
Meanwhile, Occupy can't even settle on one goddamned campsite—Westlake, City Hall, SCCC, wherever some faction decides to camp next week—much less put out a house fire. If you want to be taken seriously (and Lord knows, so many people in Seattle want to take you seriously), you must get your shit together.
And if you don't, and if you fall on your own self-righteous sword of rhetoric, The Man won't have killed you. You will have killed yourselves.
Citing this year's strong tourism season along the Gulf Coast and a "too generous" settlement formula. From the NYTimes:
Last Friday, in a court filing that included a detailed list of indicators of “the strength of the gulf economy,” BP argued that “there is no basis to assume that claimants, with very limited exceptions, will incur a future loss related to the spill.”
But cities, businesses, and families in the affected zone argue that recovering from a 4.9-million-barrel oil spill is more nuanced than having one successful summer tourism season:
...one concern about the future is raised more than any other.
It was the topic of another document sent out last week, this one to state and local officials from the command center of the spill cleanup operation in New Orleans. It is a draft version of a “decision matrix,” a list of several factors to consider in deciding when and when not to remove submerged mats of oil that are still being found, some even in recent days, sitting just offshore.
The prospect of not removing a mat for just about any reason is unacceptable to Taylor Kirschenfeld, an environmental officer for Escambia County, Fla. If a tropical storm or hurricane comes through and whips up those mats, sending tar patties onto the beach, “it could be the whole thing all over again."
So you can forget the fact that one year ago today, the Deepwater Horizon exploded destroying much of the Gulf Coast for an untold number of years and killing thousands of animals forever. Now there's a spike in stillborn dolphins washing up onshore. The ban on drilling has since been lifted. Next up: Earth Day!
If you don't want your head to explode, absolutely don't watch this video of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) defending federal tax subsidies for Exxon-Mobil, by arguing that without them "they'll go out of business."
Exxon-Mobil. The largest publicly traded company in the world. Raked in over $30 billion in profits last year. Will. Go. Out. Of. Business. Unless, US taxpayers lavish it with billions in tax credits and subsidies. $45 billion worth, over the next decade. Really.
Also a potential risk factor for spontaneous cranial detonation? Rep. Barton's insistence that federal tax subsidies should be maintained "so long as you believe in the free market capitalist system." Because nothing exemplifies free market capitalism better than federal tax subsidies.
BP announced Tuesday it is suspending work on the most critical piece of its $1.5 billion Liberty oil field development in the Beaufort Sea — a massive drilling rig.All of this caution, this stepping back, these concerns about safety would not be in existence if the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe was not in existence. "...BP will apply any lessons it has learned from the Deepwater rig accident to the Liberty project." Socialist Alaska, count your lucky stars.
BP said it needs to begin a broad engineering review of the rig to address a number of problems that have arisen during the rig's construction on a man-made island.
"We've gotten to the point that we need to step back, take a time out and make sure that all of these systems, including some critical safety systems, are just like they need to be," said BP spokesman Steve Rinehart.
....Liberty is considered one of the most advanced deep-water drilling projects in the world because it requires drilling the world's longest wells — eight miles long and two miles deep. It's the biggest oil development project under way in Alaska.
It's a sweat lodge drum circle or something!!!
Via the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — Tests performed before the deadly blowout of BP's oil well in the Gulf of Mexico should have raised doubts about the cement used to seal the well, but the company and its cementing contractor used it anyway, investigators with the president's oil spill commission said Thursday.
It's the first finding from the commission looking into the causes of the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. And it appears to conflict with statements made by Halliburton Co., which has said its tests showed the cement mix was stable. The company instead has said BP's well design and operations are responsible for the disaster.
Halliburton reportedly tested the cement mixture four times in February and April but only one of their tests—the last one—proved that the mixture would hold. BP didn't even have the results of this successful test on hand when the blowout occurred—just an earlier test that showed the cement could fail.
The Coast Guard is responding to a report of a rig explosion and fire "and people in the water'' in the Gulf of Mexico south of Vermilion Bay, authorities said.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Casey Ranel said the rig is around 90 miles south of Vermilion Bay and that a helicopter earlier today reported that it was in fire "and that there was smoke and there were people in the water.''
Holy fucking shit. Maybe we should work on alternative forms of energy, maybe? For real this time?
(Thanks to Slog tipper Brian.)
Front page, NYT:
TEXAS CITY, Tex. — While the world was focused on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a BP refinery here released huge amounts of toxic chemicals into the air that went unnoticed by residents until many saw their children come down with respiratory problems.
For 40 days after a piece of equipment critical to the refinery’s operation broke down, a total of 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, poured out of the refinery.
What's BP stand for again? Butterfingers Petroleum? (Huh-yuk, huh-yuk.)
This is how we do it!
Incoming BP chief executive Bob Dudley has said it is time to scale back some parts of the oil spill clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico.If only our generals had BP's dedication to an exit strategy.
Oil from BP's damaged Gulf of Mexico well is clearing from the sea surface faster than expected, scientists say, 100 days after the disaster began.All that matters to these people is the information of the surface, the seen. This type of information has a long history of being unreliable.
Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said much oil had been "biodegraded by naturally occurring bacteria".
BP announced Tuesday that Robert Dudley, an American, will become the company's first non-British CEO on Oct. 1, when he replaces Tony Hayward, widely criticized for his handling of the Gulf oil spill.They should have gone all the way and replaced Dudley with a black American. That way would have made the corporation's propinquity with the black American president impossible to contest. That way would have made it even more difficult for the black American president to do his terribly popular tough talk thing.
In the first few days after BP's Deepwater Horizon wellhead exploded, spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, cleanup workers could be seen on Louisiana beaches wearing scarlet pants and white t-shirts with the words "Inmate Labor" printed in large red block letters. Coastal residents, many of whom had just seen their livelihoods disappear, expressed outrage at community meetings; why should BP be using cheap or free prison labor when so many people were desperate for work? The outfits disappeared overnight.It makes perfect sense: criminals hiring criminals. It also would make perfect sense if our banks used inmate labor. Like likes like.
....Hiring prison labor is more than a way for BP to save money while cleaning up the biggest oil spill in history. By tapping into the inmate workforce, the company and its subcontractors get workers who are not only cheap but easily silenced—and they get lucrative tax write-offs in the process.
Child witchcraft allegations are increasing in parts of Africa, as thousands of children have been attacked, beaten or killed, according to a new report.These witch-doctors are not unrelated to the heads of BP.
...The accused children are mostly boys, ages 8 to 14... [and] often suffer from extreme physical or psychological violence as a result of being branded a "child witch," the report said.
Exorcisms that include pouring petrol into children's eyes or ears, and forcing them to swallow various substances have been reported by researchers as ways to "cleanse" the accused.
I-1053's top contributors are all oil refineries—Equilon donated $50,000, ConacoPhilips donated $50,000, Tesoro Corporation donated $50,000, and, most recently, BP donated $50,000. Eyman explains that "local businesses don't like taxes, either, because they're forced to pass those increases straight on to their customers." BP, Equilon, ConacoPhilips, and Tesoro Corporation all have refineries in Washington.
All day long, Americablog has been picking apart a promotional photo from BP showing the alleged BP Deepwater Horizon command center. It turns out that the entire command center seems to have been composed—and composed poorly—in Photoshop.
This is a minor scandal as far as this whole crisis is concerned but it's emblematic of something larger, I think: BP is too goddamned cheap to even fake this properly—all they'd have to do if they wanted to pull one over on us was hire some actors and build a phony crisis response set. If they can't even be bothered to get this right, their contempt for the American people is probably bottomless.
This is so depressing. From the AP:
"Everything we cook with is seafood, generation to generation," he says. "Yeah, once in a while a hamburger tastes good, but it's not seafood."
Until this summer, the 56-year-old had never eaten a hot dog, preferring a soft-shell crab. He speaks wistfully of what he's missing—shrimp and grits or a crab omelet for breakfast, shrimp on a bun for lunch, some sauteed shrimp with red beans and rice for dinner.
Never mind that the water could explode if it comes into contact with the wrong substance. "It likely happened due to the presence of either methanol, or methane gas, or the presence of the dispersant," says Bob Naman, who's got more than 30 years in the field, seen here testing beach water samples for WKRG 5 in Pensacola, Florida.
When Naman combined the sample with an organic solvent that separates the oil from the water, which he did for all the other samples as well, it exploded in his lab, breaking the container and destroying the sample in the process. Naman thinks the reaction was caused by the presence of methane gas or Corexit, the dispersant that BP has been using in the Gulf.
h/t: Joe Szilagyi, quote via Huffington Post.
Once again, the 1994 film On Deadly Ground proves to be the most prophetic text of the late 20th century, and Steven Seagal proves to be our most important sooth-sayer. Here he speaks out against the BP oil spill, 16 years early:
Seriously, though: When two-decade-old B-movie schlock makes more sense than reality, you've got a problem.
I'm coming back from the Gulf with some terrible news. Yesterday and today I was in Waveland, Mississippi and the oiling wasn't just on the beach, it's already moved inland into the wetlands. The oil on the beach and in the water is beyond what I could have imagined. I think this disaster is going to destroy the Southern US Gulf region, it's going to kill the wetlands. God knows I hope I'm completely wrong about that, but from what I saw I can't see how they can be saved.
I've got a lot to sort out and I just started to save the photos. I hope to have some more posted by Monday with a much longer update.
I've got to sort out the "art" from the "journalist" possibilities, I'm pretty sure 3 or 4 of these photos are important to show as a straightforward recording of what's happening there. But to be honest, the scope of what's happened is impossible to articulate, in words or photos.
More photos—of non-Gulf people and places—by Strauss here.
Journalists who come too close to oil spill clean-up efforts without permission could find themselves facing a $40,000 fine and even one to five years in prison under a new rule instituted by the Coast Guard late last week.
It's a move that outraged observers have decried as an attack on First Amendment rights. And CNN's Anderson Cooper describes the new rules as making it "very easy to hide incompetence or failure."
The Coast Guard order states that "vessels must not come within 20 meters [65 feet] of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law."
Anderson Cooper breaks down the things reporters can't cover:
Greedy corporations, environmental degradation, and now this:
The tanker flipped over Friday afternoon, said Omalanga, the country's minister of communications. It was attempting to overtake a bus in Sange, in South Kivu province, on the country's eastern border.I do not blame the smoker; I blame the system.
When oil began to spill from the overturned tanker, local residents attempted to collect the oil. One was smoking a cigarette, causing the tanker to explode, Omalanga said.
The largest group of victims had been sitting in a bar near the accident site watching the World Cup match between the Netherlands and Brazil, he said.
The spill is not only destroying a major body of water but also exposing superhuman levels of greed:
When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform set off the worst oil spill at sea in American history, it was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. Registering there allowed the rig’s owner to significantly reduce its
The owner, Transocean, moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Cayman Islands in 1999 and then to Switzerland in 2008, maneuvers that also helped it avoid taxes.
At the same time, BP was reaping sizable tax benefits from leasing the rig. According to a letter sent in June to the Senate Finance Committee, the company used a tax break for the oil industry to write off 70 percent of the rent for Deepwater Horizon — a deduction of more than $225,000 a day since the lease began.
With federal officials now considering a new tax on petroleum production to pay for the cleanup, the industry is fighting the measure, warning that it will lead to job losses and higher gasoline prices, as well as an increased dependence on foreign oil.
But an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.