Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Teabagger take over

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Is it time to blow up the leaking Gulf oil well? BP doing its best to keep that option under wraps

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Shepard Smith had a fascinating segment on the catastrophic Gulf oil spill today, featuring an interview with a former nuclear-sub captain who argued persuasively that it was time -- past time, really -- to blow up that leaking oil well in the Gulf and put an end to the massive pollution that's resulted from its being open.

Smith originally brought on Christopher Brownfield to discuss the potential for using a nuclear bomb to stop the leak, and Brownfield said that yes, it was decided a viable way to stop it -- it has been done four times previously. But he gave many compelling reasons NOT to use a nuclear warhead for the job -- the biggest one being that the same job could be accomplished with conventional explosives.

So why aren't we talking about doing this? Well, Brownfield explained that too:

Brownfield: If we demolish the well using explosives, the investment's gone. They lose hundreds of millions of dollars, from the drilling of the well, plus no lawmaker in his right mind would allow BP to drill again in that same spot. So basically, it's an all-or-nothing thing with BP: They either keep the well alive, or they lose their whole investment and all the oil that they could potentially get from that well.

As Brownfield explains, "We need to seal this thing off." Desperately. But why hasn't anyone been bringing a complete shutdown of the well to the table?

Brownfield: Yes, I think -- stopping the spill immediately. And the reason why we haven't seen that option is because, frankly, BP is still at the helm. I think President Obama needs to take charge of this, bring all the assets of our military to bear, bring the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, bring the U.S. Navy, and bring in all the private-sector organizations that have the equipment for deep-sea operations to make this happen. Let's explode this, collapse the well, and put an end to it.

http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/it-time-blow-leaking-gulf-oil-well-b

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Crime and Punishment, Corporate Style

The Case for Nationalization

by Ted Rall
 
The Supreme Court says that corporations have the same rights as individuals. When they misbehave, shouldn't they face consequences as serious as those imposed upon an individual?

It goes without saying that a person who commits a crime ought to face punishment proportional to the offense. Large and midsize corporations, which employ thousands of employees, have far vaster reach and power than even the wealthiest ordinary citizens. So their crimes can be breathtaking in scope. The 1984 industrial catastrophe at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India killed 15,000 people. An additional 200,000 have since suffered serious injuries. Compared to the boards of directors of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, which bought the company in 2001, Ted Bundy was small potatoes.

Unlike small-time serial killers, however, corporations get away with murder. For at least a year, management of the Toyota auto company knew that brakes in millions of its cars might fail. A 2009 ABC News investigation found that at least 16 people had died. "Safety analysts found an estimated 2000 cases in which owners of Toyota cars including Camry, Prius and Lexus, reported that their cars surged without warning up to speeds of 100 miles per hour," reported the network. Yet Toyota did nothing. Instead they blamed their customers, saying they were resting their floormats on the gas pedals.

On May 18th, Toyota finally faced the wrath of the federal government. Its "punishment": a paltry $16.5 million fine, not one cent of which went to the victims or their families. The fine, which amounted to a ridiculous 5.5 percent of its 2009 profit, went into the U.S. Treasury's general fund—in other words, to kill Afghans and Iraqis.

Available to Congress and the President is a far more appropriate punishment: nationalization without compensation. Toyota's American operations ought to be seized and operated by the federal government. The top officials of the parent company in Japan, whose willful negligence murdered at least 16 American citizens, ought to be extradited and face trial in U.S. federal court.

Extreme? Expropriating private property is commonplace—when the target is Joe and Jane Sixpack. Just ask hundreds of homeowners of New London, Connecticut. When the city destroyed an entire neighborhood to build a luxury office development, the U.S. Supreme Court backed them up, radically expanding the concept of eminent domain. Unlike a lot of evil corporations, those homeowners didn't do anything wrong.

The U.S. government has not only the right but the duty to take over criminal corporations.

A 5.5 percent fine is a slap on the wrist. Nationalizing a company, on the other hand, protects the public interest. Hitting corporations in the balance sheet is a genuine deterrent to the managers of other companies contemplating lawless behavior. It brings in significant cash assets that can be used to compensate the victims of the company's criminal activities.

Nationalization can also serve the interest of public safety. The mine explosion that left at least 25 coal miners dead in West Virginia earlier this year left members of the public feeling helpless and frustrated at the slow and inept rescue attempt by Massey Energy, the site's owner and operator. Setting aside the obvious argument that natural resources ought to be exploited for the benefit of the American people rather than private businesspeople, the rescue operation would have benefited from the involvement of top experts at such government agencies as the Army Corps of Engineers.

In 2009 the Upper Big Branch mine received 450 safety violations. Massey Energy paid the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration less than $1 million total. That's less than one percent of its annual profits. That's roughly $2,000 per violation.

If you get caught speeding in Virginia, you'll pay more than what Massey Energy pays for deliberately risking the lives of its employees.
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BP's Shocking Memo

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by Rick Outzen

A document obtained by The Daily Beast shows that BP, in a previous fatal disaster, increased worker risk to save money. Are there parallels with the Gulf explosion?

This is a story about the Three Little Pigs. A lot of dead oil workers. And British Petroleum.

From the minute the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig exploded, BP has hewed to a party line: it did everything it could to prevent the April 20 accident that killed 11 men and has been spewing millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico ever since. Some critics have questioned the veracity of that position.

Now The Daily Beast has obtained a document—displayed below—that goes to the heart of BP procedures, demonstrating that before the company's previous major disaster—at a moment when the oil giant could choose between cost-savings and greater safety—it selected cost-savings. And BP chose to illustrate that choice, without irony, by invoking the classic Three Little Pigs fairy tale.

EXCLUSIVE: This internal BP document shows how the company took deadly risks to save money by opting to build cheaper facilities for workers. The company estimated the value of a worker's life at $10 million.

Three Little Pigs - Outzen

A BP spokesman tells The Daily Beast that the company has "fundamentally changed the culture of BP" since the previous disaster, an explosion at a Texas refinery five years ago. But given that a $500,000 valve might have prevented the massive spill that is now threatening to devastate the Gulf of Mexico, one has to wonder.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-05-25/shocking-bp-memo-and-the-oil-spill-in-the-gulf/?cid=hp:mainpromo1

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New Rule: The Republican Leadership in America Must Produce Their Birth Certificates

by Bill Maher

New Rule: The Republican leadership in America must produce their birth certificates! Not because I doubt they're Americans, I just want to make sure they're not eight-years-old. I mention this because a major talking point on Fox News and hate radio these days is that, after a year and a half of Obama, it's time to bring the "adults" back into power, so they can rein in our deficit, defeat terrorism, and focus on America's real enemy: cleaning ladies in Arizona. But I must protest the premise, because conservatives are the ones who tend to believe in magical ideas, like: America is never wrong; you can defeat terrorism militarily; and lower taxes will somehow fix the deficit. And I'm not even mentioning the stuff about how Jesus used to fly around on a pterodactyl and just hated it when homos ate wedding cake.

Now, am I saying there are no adults in today's Republican Party? Absolutely not, there are -- but like a lot of parents today, the adults let their kids cow them. And silence them. And rule over them. Rush Limbaugh is a child, a primal scream of a man, but he gets his way because he's the fat bully on the playground; and Glenn Beck is the weepy kid who's always crying because he's insane and you don't know what he's going to do and who he's going to take with him.

For example: to solve our debt crisis, a bunch of Republican senators suggested a bipartisan debt commission, which is the adult thing to do. But when Obama agreed to it, immediately seven of them said no -- now they're against it. Because Obama has cooties. Democrats have cooties, so you can't vote with them, or work with them, and compromise is treason. Compare this to England, where they just had an election two weeks ago and, power changed hands -- but the party that lost is working WITH the part that won -- they are not accusing them of being Bolshevik Zulus out to destroy the Magna Carta. Because the English are grown ups, including their conservatives who enjoy a wonderful luxury that conservatives on this side of the pond do not. They're allowed to be sane. They don't have to pander to creationists and anti-intellectuals. Only in this dumb country do liberals and conservatives argue over things like "evolution" and "climate change" and whether "sick people should be left to die in the street."

The conservative who won in England, David Cameron, was asked if he's religious, and he said, "I don't feel I have a direct line." That's right, he distanced himself from God. If Obama did that we wouldn't see him again until neighbors called the cops about the smell. Conservatives in England don't care about the 3 Gs -- God, guns and gays -- that tilt so many elections in America. And they don't get their policy ideas from TV shows, like 24. You never hear a Brit say, "I'm for torture because it worked on The Avengers."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/new-rule-the-republican-l_b_585542.html

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The Last Days of Mary Beth 'Loose Cannon' Buchanan

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The federal prosecutor who put Tommy Chong behind bars in 2001 has resigned after her eight-year run as U.S. Attorney of Western Pennsylvania. Mary Beth Buchanan's biggest regret? Accepting a plea from Chong, who served nine months for interstate bong sales.

Tommy ChongRetorts Chong: "I'm honored to be Mary Beth's only regret. Now does she regret going after me? Or does she regret that I never got enough time? I tend to think she wishes she'd never heard my name. I have become her legacy. Mary Beth Loose Cannon is now looking for a job. She blew her last job busting me. Karma is so sweet! She's looking for a work while Cheech and I start our second multi-million dollar tour thanks to the publicity she created for us! Thank you Mary Beth - may you find peace and happiness in your search for your soul."

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Jamaica drug raid toll reaches 27

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Christopher "Dudus" Coke (Photo: Jamaica Constabulary Force)At least 27 people, almost all civilians, have died in gun battles in Jamaica, police have said, as the hunt continues for a suspected drug lord.

Troops and police had stormed the stronghold of Christopher "Dudus" Coke in the Tivoli Gardens district of the capital Kingston.

A state of emergency has been in place in parts of Kingston since Friday, when several police stations were attacked.

A decision to extradite Mr Coke, 41, to the US had angered his supporters.

Mr Coke, who insists he is a legitimate businessman, enjoys the support of many impoverished Kingston residents who see him as a benefactor and have vowed to protect him at any cost.

But the US justice department accuses him of being one of the world's most dangerous drug barons.

Fierce fighting

On Tuesday, the third consecutive day of unrest, thousands of heavily-armed police and soldiers continued their assault into the capital's most violent slums, battling masked gunmen loyal to Mr Coke.

It doesn't feel safe in downtown Kingston today.

Out on the streets, the police are watching for snipers. The occasional bullet whizzed through the air and hit the palm trees.

This is a disaster for Jamaica's reputation. The main offensive is a mile away, but even in the commercial heart of the capital, people are being pinned back against the walls. Normal life is on hold.

Dudas is seen by many here as a kind of Robin Hood figure, a protector of the poor.

And that's why it's hard to see what happens next - the authorities are intent on capturing Dudas; those loyal to him intent on stopping that at whatever cost.

Gangs from slums just outside the capital also joined the fight, erecting barricades on roadways and shooting at troops, the AP news agency reported.

At least one member of the security forces and 26 civilians were killed in the two-day raid, a police statement said. Another seven officers and 25 civilians were also injured.

A total of 211 others have been detained, including six women, but there was no confirmation that Mr Coke was among them.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/latin_america/10156140.stm

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Top GOP leaders line up against D'Annunzio

Judge in 1998 child-support case called him a 'self-described religious zealot.'

By Jim Morrill
 
Republican Party leaders have escalated an unprecedented campaign against one of their own congressional candidates, with N.C. GOP chairman Tom Fetzer calling Tim D'Annunzio "unfit for public office at any level."

Fetzer's remarks came after copies of D'Annunzio's court records were circulated among party officials in Raleigh and Washington.

D'Annunzio finished first in the May 4 primary. But his party has since gone to increasing lengths to portray him as unelectable.

"By my personal observation of his behavior, and by acquaintance with his record and background, I consider Mr. D'Annunzio unfit for public office at any level," said Fetzer. "What he could do to the party as our nominee is secondary in my view to what he could do to the country if he got elected. If he got elected, for crying out loud, that would be a disaster."

D'Annunzio, of Hoke County, faces fellow Republican Harold Johnson on June 22 in the 8th Congressional District runoff. The winner meets first-term incumbent Larry Kissell in November.

Court documents portray D'Annunzio as "a self-described religious zealot" who once called the U.S. government the Antichrist and told his ex-wife that he'd found the Ark of the Covenant.

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The Greeks Get It

LOGO: Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines. A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.

AP / Petros Giannakouris
Numerous riots have gripped Athens during the last year or so of unrest.

By Chris Hedges

Here's to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it. 

The former right-wing government of Greece lied about the size of the country's budget deficit. It was not 3.7 percent of gross domestic product but 13.6 percent. And it now looks like the economies of Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are as bad as Greece's, which is why the euro has lost 20 percent of its value in the last few months. The few hundred billion in bailouts for other faltering European states, like our own bailouts, have only forestalled disaster. This is why the U.S. stock exchange is in free fall and gold is rocketing upward. American banks do not have heavy exposure in Greece, but Greece, as most economists concede, is only the start. Wall Street is deeply invested in other European states, and when the unraveling begins the foundations of our own economy will rumble and crack as loudly as the collapse in Athens. The corporate overlords will demand that we too impose draconian controls and cuts or see credit evaporate. They have the money and the power to hurt us. There will be more unemployment, more personal and commercial bankruptcies, more foreclosures and more human misery. And the corporate state, despite this suffering, will continue to plunge us deeper into debt to make war. It will use fear to keep us passive. We are being consumed from the inside out. Our economy is as rotten as the economy in Greece. We too borrow billions a day to stay afloat. We too have staggering deficits, which can never be repaid. Heed the dire rhetoric of European leaders.

"The euro is in danger," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers last week as she called on them to approve Germany's portion of the bailout plan. "If we do not avert this danger, then the consequences for Europe are incalculable, and then the consequences beyond Europe are incalculable."

Beyond Europe means us.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_greeks_get_it_20100524/

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Excessive anti-gay legislative proposal

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