Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Allegations emerge BP is dumping sand to cover oil

Posted in BP, environment, offshore drilling, United States by allisonkilkenny on July 1, 2010

Photojournalist C.S. Muncy at Grand Isle, Lousiana. (Photo by C.S. Muncy)

Yesterday, I contacted a friend of mine, C.S. Muncy, who is a photojournalist currently raising all kinds of hell down in southern Louisiana.

C.S.’s original goal was to gain access to some of the areas being guarded by BP contractors and deemed “off limits” to reporters, but yesterday he, along with Save Our Shores‘s Judson Parker, made an unexpected discovery.

They believe that BP has been dumping sand on the beaches in order to cover up oil. You can view some video Judson shot of the beach over here.

I called C.S. to ask him about the alleged cover-up.

AK: Is it true that BP has been covering some of the oil on the beach with sand?

CM: Yeah. Yeah, this is interesting…We went down onto the beaches, and we started inspecting them. There were tar balls, tar residue, and there was some oil on the beach. Apparently, the day before there was a lot of tar balls, and BP was working in the area pretty heavily, and we started noticing there was a different consistency in the sand.

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Privatization pirates want to pillage Social Security, but Americans aren’t buying the lies

Posted in privatization, social security, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 27, 2010

The official logo from http://www.americaspeaks.org/

Pete Peterson and his merry band of thieves recently rolled out the hilariously titled “America Speaks” propaganda tour, which was designed to brainwash citizens into voting against their own interests by supporting Social Security privatization.

Peterson wants to do this because he owns Blackstone Group, which has a subsidiary called Blackrock Financial, the firm that would — surprise! — be in charge of handling your privatized Social Security dollars, and that rerouting process could earn Peterson hundreds of billions of dollars.

The tour should be called “Peterson and Company Speak,” because it is their financial interests — not the interests of the American people — that are represented in this tour. One of Peterson’s lackeys, David Walker, is also involved in the “national discussion.” Walker is the man who openly pined for the return of debtors’ prisons, which already exist in six states, but apparently aren’t harsh enough punishment for being poor in David’s world.

If this ridiculously transparent tour actually represented Americans’ concerns, the focus would be on job creation. Numerous polls indicate that Americans’ primary concern is unemployment – not the deficit.

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SCOTUS and Obama broadly define ‘material support’ of ‘terrorist organizations’

Posted in Barack Obama, Supreme Court, terrorism, United States, war crimes by allisonkilkenny on June 26, 2010

Jesus, take the wheel. SCOTUS recently handed down a decision — reenforcing an Obama administration policy — that is so dumb it rivals John Roberts’s “what is this ’email’ you speak of?” moment of shame.

The court, and Obama, broadly defined “material support” of so-called terrorist organizations.

While the relevant statute defines “material support” to include a long list of items that are clearly connected to the violent activities of terrorists, it also includes more ambiguous terms such as “any…service,…training, expert advice or assistance.”

Basically, this decision means peacekeepers like Jimmy Carter could be accused of offering “material support,” meaning any service, which could include counsel or mediation, to groups like the democratically elected Hamas.

Also, notice the term “terrorist group” is a completely arbitrary label. Hamas, though they came to power in a democratic election, is a terrorist group, while Israel, which receives billions of dollars in aid from the US, and uses illegal weapons like white phosphorous against a civilian population, and continues to exercise collective punishment unabated by western bystanders, is an “important ally.”

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(Updated) Ron Paul calls BP victim compensation a ‘PR stunt’

Posted in BP, corporations, deregulation, environment, offshore drilling, politics, regulation, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 24, 2010

* Updated the headline: I originally wrote that Rand Paul said the following statement. It was actually his equally oblivious father, Ron. The rest of the article is really about Rand’s previous statements that illustrated how disengaged he is from average Americans, and his sense of entitlement that probably comes from his awful dad, whose terribleness is demonstrated in the quote.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rand Paul turned out to be a DNC plant.

BP’s $20 billion escrow fund is a “PR stunt” that came about through a “suspicious” process, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Tuesday night.

Though Paul didn’t go as far as fellow Texan Rep. Joe Barton (R), who called the fund a “shakedown,” he nevertheless said the “process is sort of suspicious.”

“They have agreed to this and this is sort of a PR stunt as far as I’m concerned,” Paul told Fox News. “BP had already been making a lot of payments to people who had been injured.”

He said this… on television…while the crisis is still happening.

This follows Rand’s comments about unemployed people being a bunch of lazy shit sacks, who are too “picky” and insist on passing up all kinds of sweet, sweet employment opportunities (like the jobs that don’t offer benefits or a living wage).

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Americans flee industrial wasteland, seek shelter in taxless Texas

Posted in Economy, poverty, Texas, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 16, 2010

Here is an interesting interactive map that shows the more than 10 million relocations made by Americans from one county to another during 2008. I took a few screen shots to highlight some interesting trends.

Sully focuses on the migration to Texas, which he calls the “Blue flight to a red state.”

I really doubt the people fleeing from New York and California are mostly diehard Libertarians, who don’t want their tax dollars going to The Man. More than likely, they’re looking for jobs, and hey, if they can save money by not being taxed by the state, what poor person is going to turn that down?

I’m not condoning that logic. After all, citizens fleeing to Texas is a race to the bottom. If all states suddenly adopted Texas’s bare bone approach, citizens would lose all kinds of services, namely because no one would be paying to preserve public services. What I’m saying is it’s understandable that poor, desperate people would see moving to taxless Texas as a perk.

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Class war: Criminalizing poverty

Posted in class divide, poverty, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 16, 2010

As opposed to supporting raising wages and passing a public option in order to forge a more egalitarian future, it appears members of the elite have committed themselves to controlling the growing underclass by criminalizing poverty.

David Walker, a lackey of billionaire and Social Security pirate, Pete Peterson, openly pined for the days of debtors’ prison, which is actually already a reality in six states.

WALKER: You know, the fact of the matter is we have to change how we do things. We are on an imprudent and unsustainable path in a number of ways. You talk about debtors’ prisons, we used to have debtors’ prisons, now bankruptcy is no taint! Bankruptcy is an exit strategy! Our society and our culture has changed. We need to get back to the opportunity, we need to move away from entitlement, we need to provide reasonable risk but we need to hold people accountable when they do imprudent things. It’s pretty fundamental.

Right! We need to hold people accountable. Er, poor people – not the rich people, who sold them the shit mortgages, and gave them credit cards with astronomical interest rates. Those people are entrepeneurs and can go free.

Digby has been reporting on the demonization of the unemployed. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has proposed an amendment that would demand mandatory drug tests for welfare and unemployment beneficiaries. Because, as one of this blog’s less enlightened commenters put it, “you gotta make sure they’re not on the crack pipe.” After all, we know the only reason people are unemployed is because they’re all a bunch of Welfare Queen drug addicts. Mind you, cocaine addicted Yale and Harvard grads won’t face this obstacle when re-entering the business world. This is just a filter for the undesirables.

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Did Exxon know the primary ingredient in Corexit is very toxic?

Posted in BP, corporations, environment, offshore drilling, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 15, 2010

A worker sprays dispersants into the ocean

Exxon researchers have already admitted that its dispersant products, Corexit 9527A and Corexit 9500A, are significantly toxic for aquatic life. But no one knew how toxic the chemicals are for humans. John Sheffield, president of Alabaster Corporation, which makes Sea Brat 4, a safer, less toxic alternative to Corexit, contacted me with accusations that he believes Exxon has known for quite a while that the primary ingredient in Corexit is very toxic.

He included the material safety data sheets for various Corexit products and documents issued from the companies involved to support his claims, which I have pasted below (pdf). In some cases, I have included screen shots from outside sources (CITGO, for example) to bolster Sheffield’s claims.

This gets a little dense, but the key word to look out for is”Norpar,” Exxon’s line of solvants.

Sheffield writes:

This product (Norpar) is basically kerosene. Although kerosene and napthalene (cigarette lighter fluid) are typically the main ingredients.

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Rich white man declares victory for feminism

Here is Ross Douthat explaining why a billionaire, anti-choice zealots, and right-wing extremists hijacking U.S. politics is a victory for vaginas everywhere.

When historians set out to date the moment when the women’s movement of the 1970s officially consolidated its gains, they could do worse than settle on last Tuesday’s primaries.

I’ll give him points for a hilariously hyperbolic opening. Make your case, sailor.

It was a day when most of the major races featured female candidates, and all the major female candidates won. They won in South Dakota and Arkansas, California and Nevada. They won as business-friendly moderates (the Golden State’s Meg Whitman); as embattled incumbents (Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln); as Tea Party insurgents (Sharron Angle in Nevada). South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley even came in first despite multiple allegations of adultery.

But mostly, they won as Republicans. Conservative Republicans, in fact. Conservative Republicans endorsed by Sarah Palin, in many cases. Which generated a certain amount of angst in the liberal commentariat about What It All Meant For Feminism.

The question of whether conservative women get to be feminists is an interesting and important one. But it has obscured a deeper truth: Whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.

Yesterday, I wrote about media pundits’ propensity to portray the extremely old and familiar as fresh and exciting. They do this to sell papers, drum up website hits, and to appear insightful and necessary. Maybe a handful do it out of boredom, or stupidity, believing what they are seeing really is something revolutionary.

In reality, there is nothing more sexist than assuming any woman’s political victory — regardless of the type of woman — is a progressive step forward for the feminist movement. Women are people, and people are a diverse bunch. It still matters what kind of woman wins the election. And the kind of women that won these races are either preposterously wealthy, staunch anti-feminists, or a healthy combination of both.

What happened on election day is an old story: rich, mostly white, right-wingers won. Oh, and they also happen to be girls. Hooray.

Basically, it will take more than Douthat calling this a victory for feminism to make it so.

California

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay chief executive, won the Republican nomination for governor after spending a record $71 million of her money on the race. Quite simply, Whitman bought her victory, and this has nothing to do with the bonds of sisterhood or feminine strength. This is corporatism in a skirt.

In fact, Whitman herself seems to hate the notion of feminism. At least, she certainly doesn’t want anyone calling her such an offensive term. When asked if she is a feminist, Whitman replied, “I am a big believer in equal rights for all people … in a level playing field.” But she said, “I’m not a big label person.”

This could be NOW’s new slogan: Taking action for women’s equality since 1966…or whatever…we’re not big label people.

Arkansas

I know when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were taking on the male-dominated establishment, what sustained them was the thought that one day Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart) would squeak out a victory despite being a corporate whore.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter than Lincoln is a turncoat Blue Dog Democrat, who voted with Republicans to allow warrantless government surveillance, the invasion of Iraq, and shot down the public option. All that matters is the stuff between her legs, which sort of goes against the whole notion of “feminism,” but nevermind. A girl won!

Nevada

And then there’s Sharron Angle. I’ve written about her support of the right-wing extremist fringe, but Douthat skims over such silly details for the sake of preserving his narrative i.e. Things Are Super Awesome For Women Right Now. He’s going to jam this premise down your throat even though women earn around 79% of men’s median weekly salaries, and Congress just passed a healthcare bill that dramatically diminishes a woman’s right to choose the fate of her own body.

Angle proposed a bill that “would have required doctors to inform women seeking abortions about a controversial theory linking an increased risk of breast cancer with abortion.” (The abortion-causes-breast cancer theory is a myth, and was spread, in part, to discourage abortions). But I hear lying to scared, pregnant women for the sake of controlling their bodies is all the rage right now in the neo-feminist movement.

South Carolina

Other than the novelty of having survived not one — but multiple — allegations of adultery, Nikki Haley is extremely typical of the right-wing fringe. She has a 100 percent rating from the anti-abortion S.C. Citizens for Life group, and she calls on her website for the deportation of illegal immigrants. Oh, and if any of her white supremacist base, who may confuse her for a “raghead,” were concerned, don’t worry. She converted to Christianity.

Modern Republicans have grown wise to the fact that they’re never going to defeat feminism. Try as they did to shame, humiliate, and dismiss feminists as a bunch of ugly, barren spinsters, who refuse to shave their legs and can’t land a man, the propaganda campaign didn’t stick. Now, they’re left with only one option: hijack the movement.

In the same way President Obama’s victory was a sign that affirmative action is “no longer necessary,” so the victories of a handful of women (be they billionaires, right-wing extremists, turncoats, or militant anti-choicers) herald the dawn of a new feminism: one that is staunchly anti-woman, and represents only a class of wealthy, pro-Business, right wing extremists.

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There can be no transformative leader in a paralyzed government

Posted in Barack Obama, media, politics, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 13, 2010

Photo from humanitieslab.stanford.eduI feel sorry for Matt Bai. It was just three years ago that he sighed over the wasteland of the Clinton era and pondered aloud, what was it all for?

Even without the allusions to the old days, his speech seemed strangely reminiscent of that first campaign, and not necessarily in a good way. Listening to him talk, I found it hard not to wonder why so many of the challenges facing the next president were almost identical to those he vowed to address in 1992. Why, after Clinton’s two terms in office, were we still thinking about tomorrow? In some areas, most notably health care, Clinton tried gamely to leave behind lasting change, and he failed. In many more areas, though, the progress that was made under Clinton — almost 23 million new jobs, reductions in poverty, lower crime and higher wages — had been reversed or wiped away entirely in a remarkably short time. Clinton’s presidency seems now to have been oddly ephemeral, his record etched in chalk and left out in the rain.

Yeah, what’s up with that? Why does America seem to be forever spinning its wheels, and why has politics been reduced to a series of empty promises and arguments about abortion and gay marriage?

Apparently, Matt has been asking this question for three years because he has yet to find an answer.

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Nevada victor Sharron Angle dips into right-wing extremist pool

Posted in right-wing extremism, Tea Party Movement, terrorism, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 10, 2010

Harry Reid must be ecstatic right now. It might have been easy enough to beat the always hilarious Sue “Can I trade three chickens for my root canal?” Lowden, but the outcome of the Republican primary in Nevada supplies Reid with an even crazier opponent: Tea Party sweetheart Sharron Angle.

Angle is somewhat of an unknown, but the glimpses I’ve seen of her ideologies are incoherent, at best.

“My greatest problem with marijuana is that it’s illegal, which gives Nevadans a false sense of security in this whole thing. If the DEA has the manpower and wanted to go after this, there is no place in Nevada state law that can protect people because federal law supersedes state law. I would tell you that I have the same feelings about legalizing marijuana, not medical marijuana, but just legalizing marijuana. I feel the same about legalizing alcohol. The effect on society is so great that I’m just not a real proponent of legalizing any drug or encouraging any drug abuse. I’m elected by the people to protect, and I think that law should protect.”

I will give anyone who can tell me what the fuck this means a shiny nickel. Here is the best I can translate: Alcohol, which is legal, should be treated like marijuana, which is illegal(?) I’ve heard lots of good arguments for decriminalizing marijuana, and some — at least coherent — arguments against decriminalizing it, but it takes a special breed of bad politician to advocate outlawing alcohol again.

At her worst, Angle has been known to dip into the right-wing extremist fringe.

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