Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

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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The nation’s other non-BP disasters

Surely, the BP disaster deserves the obsessive coverage it has received (thus far). But at the risk of missing some other important stories, I want to briefly address two somewhat overlooked catastrophes – one that has already taken place, and one that possesses the potential to be horrific, but we still have time to stop.

Many Americans would be surprised to hear there’s another domestic oil spill – in Salt Late City. (via)

Chevron says a hole the size of a quarter caused their pipeline to rupture around 33,000 gallons of oil into the creek.

The manager of Chevron’s refinery in the Salt Lake City area said Monday that the company believes the rupture in the 10-inch pipeline was caused by an electrical arc that traveled through a metal fence post. Mark Sullivan says the arc acted like an electrical torch, causing the hole.

Sullivan couldn’t say how long the pipeline was leaking before Chevron was notified of the problem Saturday morning. But Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says residents could smell the odor of petroleum overnight Friday.

The spill has coated about 300 birds at area creeks and ponds, and the oil is possibly threatening an endangered fish.

Chairman of the Salt Lake City Council,  J.T. Martin, calls the event a horrible tragedy.

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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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In case you missed the following awesome Citizen Radio interviews…

Posted in Citizen Radio by allisonkilkenny on June 12, 2010

Remi Kanazi

I realized I haven’t been keeping you fine people up to date with Citizen Radio interviews. Apologies all around. Last week, we interviewed the fantastic Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian poet and activist. We got all shouty about Flotilla, Gaza, and the occupation. You can here Remi (IMHO one of the best and brightest young Palestinian spokespeople in the country) over here.

Guy Aitchison

We also interviewed legendary tattoo artist Guy Aitchison about tattoos, nerds, and the universe. My co-host, Jamie Kilstein, managed to keep his shit together and ask some super interesting questions even though he was getting a half-sleeve from Guy at the time of this taping.

Friday’s episode didn’t have any interviews, but we did discuss corporate blue dogs, the crazy election results, and how Michele Bachmann is – surprise! – a total hypocrite, so if you’d like to hear that stuff, head thisaways.

Citizen Radio airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can subscribe to the podcast for free here (just click the iTunes link at the top,) and join our Facebook group.

Contractors raking in mad cash in wake of BP disaster

Posted in Barack Obama, BP, corporations, deregulation, environment, offshore drilling, regulation by allisonkilkenny on June 12, 2010

A rescue worker captures one oil-covered brown pelican off the coast of Louisiana. AP Photo

God, this is depressing. The industrial sector is just about extinct, corporations are fleeing the country to exploit cheap foreign labor, unions are gasping their last breaths, and 6.8 million Americans have been unemployed 27 weeks, or longer (the numbers are higher in places like Detriot, which has 30 percent unemployment, but the media doesn’t really focus on that reality).

But there is good news! Well, kind of. If your trade is oil spill clean-up, you’re experiencing a bonanza right now.

Hundreds of contractors and subcontractors are doing jobs both complex and mundane, whether it’s building the robots that BP sends 5,000 feet underwater to capture live video of the broken wellhead or providing boats to skim oil from the water’s surface. And then there is the cottage industry that has sprung up overnight to support the 24,600 cleanup workers, catering their meals, hauling away their trash and supplying portable toilets.

“There’s money flowing in the streets,” said Michael E. Hoffman, director of research at Wunderlich Securities, a Memphis-based brokerage firm.

America may be losing the race to evolve technology, and alternative fuels, but at least we still lead the way in creating horrible catastrophes that our unemployed masses can then toil to clean up.

Ever the barometer of compassionate altruism, Wall Street immediately rushed to figure out who would be the winners of the BP disaster. The financial sector doesn’t price superfluous biological waste like sea turtles, or oceans because things like endangered pelicans don’t make the right people money. However, Wall Street does know how to price stuff like hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic dispersants.

Within two weeks of the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the stock price of Clean Harbors, a Boston-based hazardous-waste management company, shot up more than 20 percent. During the same period, Nalco Holding Co., which makes the chemical dispersant Corexit, rose to nearly a year high.

Sure, Nalco, made a killing during the disaster. It helps that one of its board members, Rodney F. Chase, is a former BP board member. That cozy relationship provides Nalco with unique access to the big business of oil spill cleanup. The Wapost article doesn’t mention that stuff (why get messy?) but it does include this nugget:

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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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BP stonewalling efforts to get better oil volcano damage estimate

Posted in BP, deregulation, energy, environment, offshore drilling, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 9, 2010

A bird covered in oil flails in the surf at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The other day, I was discussing the “branding” of the BP disaster with a friend. Calling this catastrophe a “spill” seems like a laughable understatement, and my phrasing (the “oil geyser”) wasn’t really catchy. A few weeks ago, the term “oil volcano” emerged, I think because it was first used by Rachel Maddow, and I believe it captures the severity of the situation.

So this thing, the oil volcano, has been pumping thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean every single day. That much is undeniable. BP can’t approach the media and say, “Epic disaster is all over, folks!” because there are cameras (now HD video) down there, filming the whole thing.

The company attempted to use dispersants (hundreds of thousands of gallons of the toxic stuff) in order to coagulate the oil and sink it to the bottom, conveniently hiding the true toll of the oil volcano from the world. Except, that didn’t work entirely, and some endangered birds got snagged in the sludge.

Literally, there is nothing BP can now do in order to mend its public image except lie. And lie they have. Tony Hayward blamed workers’ illnesses on food poisoning instead of acknowledging exposure to oil fumes and dispersants tend to make individuals sick. BP denied the existence of those massive underwater oil plumes. You know, the ones NOAA just confirmed exist.

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Citizen Radio Live! with The Nation’s Chris Hayes, The Onion’s Joe Randazzo

Posted in Citizen Radio by allisonkilkenny on June 5, 2010

Joe Randazzo (The Onion) and Chris Hayes (The Nation) (Screengrab by Zach Roberts)

The audio from last week’s Citizen Radio Live! at the UCB Theatre in NYC is up here. (The video of the event is posted at Citizen Radio’s Youtube channel). Guests included: Chris Hayes (The Nation, Rachel Maddow,) Joe Randazzo (The Onion,) hilarious comic W. Kamau Bell, and the beautiful musicians Emilyn Brodsky and Anthony Da Costa.

The next Citizen Radio Live! will be on July 19th at 9:30PM, featuring musician and activist, Moby! More guests TBA. Keep checking back here for an announcement when tickets are officially for sale. And you’ll definitely want to get tickets fast because this one will sell out.

Citizen Radio airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Subscribe to the show for free here.

Next Citizen Radio Live! guest confirmed: Moby!

Posted in Citizen Radio by allisonkilkenny on June 4, 2010

Hey there. In the past, Citizen Radio Live! has brought you such excellent guests as Jeremy Scahill, Matt Taibbi, Janeane Garofalo, The Onion‘s Joe Randazzo, and The Nation‘s Chris Hayes.

Now, for our next show at the UCB theatre in NYC (July 19th 9:30PM,) Citizen Radio brings you…Moby! Other guests: TBA. Keep checking the blog for when tickets go on sale. Show WILL sell out, so be sure to snag tickets when they’re up.