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Well do I remember how my heart leapt for joy as I gazed out of the subway train that took me across the Charles River from Boston to Harvard Square and saw the yachts on the Charles plying joyously to and fro on the river below, their white sails gleaming in the summer sunshine.

Brought up by the sea, I cannot resist a good boat race, such as the J. P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race that took place around the Isle of Wight off England’s southern coast yesterday.

Nor, it seems, can another feller who’s been in the news lately, and who owns the yacht, Bob, pictured left.

Any guesses?

Clue: Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, said: “I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil.”

Commenting on the owner’s jaunty outing, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, sardonically observed, “he’s got his life back.”

No doubt, its owner is today nursing his disappointment at failing to secure the Roman Golden Bowl trophy, Bob coming in at fourth. That said, there’s nothing like a good boat race to take your mind off things!

Boats round the Needles on the Isle of Wight during the Round the Island Race. No short cuts here, it seems! Photograph: onEdition

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FDL- By: Jim White Friday June 18, 2010 8:41 am

Commenter cbl2 just alerted us to this video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Videos Of Oil Leaking Thru Cracks In The Sea Floor
Uploaded by rashachadash. – Watch the latest news videos.

If oil is indeed leaking from the sea floor near the well, this suggests that the well casing has been breached.

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Did BP Start Losing Containment of the Oil Well in February?

Washington’s Blog-  Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20th, and sank a couple of days later. BP has been criticized for failing to report on the seriousness of the blow out for several weeks.

However, as a whistleblower previously told 60 Minutes, there was an accident at the rig a month or more prior to the April 20th explosion:

[Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon, and one of the last workers to leave the doomed rig] said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks.

With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace.

“And he requested to the driller, ‘Hey, let’s bump it up. Let’s bump it up.’ And what he was talking about there is he’s bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down,” Williams said.

Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called “mud.”

“We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe,” Williams explained.

That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.

“We were informed of this during one of the safety meetings, that somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million was lost in bottom hole assembly and ‘mud.’ And you always kind of knew that in the back of your mind when they start throwing these big numbers around that there was gonna be a push coming, you know? A push to pick up production and pick up the pace,” Williams said.

Asked if there was pressure on the crew after this happened, Williams told Pelley, “There’s always pressure, but yes, the pressure was increased.”

But the trouble was just beginning: when drilling resumed, Williams says there was an accident on the rig that has not been reported before. He says, four weeks before the explosion, the rig’s most vital piece of safety equipment was damaged.

MORE HERE

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The president wrapped up his address Tuesday night by asking Americans to pray for the victims — both human and environmental — of the BP oil spill. I thought it was a strange way to end his first Oval Office address during a national emergency insofar as praying makes the situation appear too big for conventional solutions. As though all that remains between us and a sea of oil is the Hail Mary.

This morning it occurred to me that this was the only thing he could really ask Americans to do.

Why? Simply stated, it doesn’t require any effort to silently invoke spirituality while stopped at a traffic signal or while chewing a gluttonous mouthful of Double Down. Actually, I take back that second part. I can’t imagine doing anything other than suffering a massive infarction while eating a Double Down.

Instead of prayer, the president could have asked us all to make sacrifices towards the goal of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Maybe he should have asked for sacrifice. It probably wouldn’t have hurt. But it would have been mostly ignored.

Americans simply don’t do “national sacrifice” anymore. During World War II, Americans were asked to ration everything from sugar to oil to cheese — even shoes. Those days are long gone. Today, we’re asked to go to Disneyland or the beach. Or we’re asked to pray. (It’s difficult to imagine the modern right-wing, for example, accepting the rationing of anything at the behest of the current president when most of them refuse to fill out a U.S. Census form. More on that presently.)

The BP oil spill has been a daily reminder of our toxic relationship with decomposed dinosaurs. On just about every blog and every cable news show, we’ve watched in shock-horror as 75,000,000 gallons of oil spew from the top of the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer. We see it. We cringe. Some of us shout, “Why, oh, why?!” Others curse Tony Hayward and BP. Maybe some of us curse President Obama or former President Bush. A clear majority of Americans are pissed off, and they’re taking it out on everyone except themselves: the ones actually buying the oil.

Once we’re exhausted with blaming and yelling, we climb into our oversized cars, crank up the air conditioner, drive to Burger King and order a ammonia-washed beef sandwich the size of a baby — while mindlessly idling at the drive-thru.

As the president pointed out last night, scientists, experts and politicians alike have been urging us to make the transition to clean energy and away from fossil fuels. In the last ten years alone, we’ve endured the largest terrorist attack on our soil and subsequently fought two wars, all prompted by American intrusions into the Middle East to satisfy our collective petro fix.

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BP is using federal agencies to shield itself from public accountability and is actually disappearing oiled wildlife.

June 12, 2010 |

Marine Photo Bank / Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Marine Photo Bank / Flickr Creative Commons

Orange Beach, Alabama — While President Obama insists that the federal government is firmly in control of the response to BP’s spill in the Gulf, people in coastal communities where I visited last week in Louisiana and Alabama know an inconvenient truth: BP — not our president — controls the response. In fact, people on the ground say things are out of control in the gulf.

Even worse, as my latest week of adventures illustrate, BP is using federal agencies to shield itself from public accountability.

For example, while flying on a small plane from New Orleans to Orange Beach, the pilot suddenly exclaimed, “Look at that!” The thin red line marking the federal flight restrictions of 3,000 feet over the oiled Gulf region had just jumped to include the coastal barrier islands off Alabama.

2010-06-12-UPLOAD1.jpg

“There’s only one reason for that,” the pilot said. “BP doesn’t want the media taking pictures of oil on the beaches. You should see the oil that’s about six miles off the coast,” he said grimly. We looked down at the wavy orange boom surrounding the islands below us. The pilot shook his head. “There’s no way those booms are going to stop what’s offshore from hitting those beaches.”

BP knows this as well — boom can only deflect oil under the calmest of sea conditions, not barricade it — so they have stepped up their already aggressive effort to control what the public sees.

At the same time I was en route to Orange Beach, Clint Guidry with the Louisiana Shrimp Association and Dean Blanchard, who owns the largest shrimp processor in Louisiana, were in Grand Isle taking Anderson Cooper out in a small boat to see the oiled beaches. The U.S. Coast Guard held up the boat for 20 minutes – an intimidation tactic intended to stop the cameras from recording BP’s damage. Luckily for Cooper and the viewing public, Dean Blanchard is not easily intimidated.

2010-06-12-UPLOAD2.jpg

A few days later, the jig was up with the booms. Oil was making landfall in four states and even BP can’t be everywhere at once. CBS 60 Minutes Australia found entire sections of boom hung up in marsh grasses two feet above the water off Venice. On the same day on the other side of Barataria Bay, Louisiana Bayoukeeper documented pools of oil and oiled pelicans inside the boom – on the supposedly protected landward side – of Queen Bess Island off Grand Isle.

With oil undisputedly hitting the beaches and the number of dead wildlife mounting, BP is switching tactics. In Orange Beach, people told me BP wouldn’t let them collect carcasses. Instead, the company was raking up carcasses of oiled seabirds. “The heads separate from the bodies,” one upset resident told me. “There’s no way those birds are going to be autopsied. BP is destroying evidence!”

The body count of affected wildlife is crucial to prove the harm caused by the spill, and also serves as an invaluable tool to evaluate damages to public property – the dolphins, sea turtles, whales, sea birds, fish, and more, that are owned by the American public. Disappeared body counts means disappeared damages – and disappeared liability for BP. BP should not be collecting carcasses. The job should be given to NOAA, a federal agency, and volunteers, as was done during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

MORE HERE

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We must become the owners, or at any rate the controllers at the source, of at least a proportion of the supply (of oil) which we require….and obtain our oil supply, so far as possible, from sources under British control, or British influence.” (Winston S. Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, 1919)

A BP petrol prices sign outside a BP Shop garage in the United Kingdom (prices in UK pence per litre)

From the bedroom window in  my house at the end of a little cul de sac in a large village/small town called Syston on the outskirts of Leicester, England, I can see a row of houses built in neo-Georgian style on the other side of the road, another row of similar styled houses to the right at the end of the cul de sac, a few flags with the cross of St. George, the flag of England (it’s the World Cup), draped from upper story windows, a “Sold” sign, and a “For Sale” sign, and, between the gap in the two rows of houses a disused and dirty BP (or should I say, as President Obama, in this mid-term election year, is wont to do, British Petroleum), sign, lying on its side, its top visible above a garage roof.

Ever since I moved into Syston in the summer of 2001, there have been two petrol-filling stations, one at my end of the village, which was run by Shell when I first moved in, and the other, at the other end, owned by Texaco.  (“Petrol”, btw, is what we Brits call the stuff you Yanks call “gas”, or “gasoline”.) Then Shell sold up and BP took over with their bright, shiny green and yellow logo betokening their much trumpeted commitment to the environment and green issues! (In fact, bp’s environmental record is the worst of all the major oil companies, as this video of an interview of Steve Lendman by James Fetzer shows.) It is the back end of this garage that I can see from my bedroom window.

Of the two petrol-filling stations, Texaco’s was usually the slightly cheaper.

Then the Texaco-filling station was closed down and into their place, yes, you’ve guessed it, came another BP station with the same bright, shiny green and yellow logo betokening their…etc. etc., etc,.

The heart-rending events in the Gulf of Mexico are, naturally, concentrating minds here in the UK, home, as Obama continually likes to remind us, of BP, and my cogitations on the subject revolve around three main issues.

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Bill Maher On BP Oil Spill: ‘I Feel Oily … I Feel Their Sh*t On Me’ (VIDEO)

Huff Post- First Posted: 06-12-10 01:06 AM   |   Updated: 06-12-10 09:09 AM

Friday marked Bill Maher’s last show of the season, and while the BP oil spill has been a subject on “Real Time” from week to week, this time Maher defined it as the subject.

“I have been holding my nose about this oil issue. Every week, I do not want to talk about it and we do. But you know, this is the last show of the season, my last time to vent, so I kind of had a change of heart this week, and this whole show might just be about how much oil sucks,” he said at the opening of the show’s panel segment. “And I feel oily. Now that those pictures come in of the wildlife, I feel dir– I feel their shit on me. I feel like someone from Greenpeace should scrub me down every night.”

Rachel Maddow, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) joined Maher on the panel, and when he asked what would have to happen for the gulf catastrophe to have some meaning, all three turned to the obvious answer — a major step forward on a comprehensive alternative-energy policy.

“We’re trying to drill all of our oil, or a huge proportion of our oil, from the place where we get all our shrimp and oysters. And that’s awkward, it turns out,” Maddow quipped.

Maher let loose on a host of villains-of-the-week during the segment, laughing at Blanche Lincoln’s claim that her vote was “not for sale” and calling the Houston oilman, lifelong game hunter and recent estate-tax dodger Dan Duncan a “world-class asshole.” But the panel zeroed in on the Senate filibuster as the reason why President Obama, in Maher’s words, “had to lie, basically.”

“I saw this week that Lindsey Graham is pulled out of the global warming bill, and the whole reason Obama was coming out in favor of more drilling was as a sop to the conservatives. To try to get Lindsey Graham on his side, somebody like that, to get a couple of Republican vote, which would not be necessary if we did not have this filibuster nonsense, if you didn’t need 60 votes to pass anything. That’s why this president said something. That’s why he had to lie, basically. And the lie was, drilling has never been safer. And we know for a fact, actually, drilling has never been more dangerous. Not just this spill, but before this spill.”

Frist employed several less-than-coherent defenses of Senate procedure and minority rights (most notably: “In the Senate, you can do anything that can’t be done”), but Maddow laid the blame at his party’s door for paralyzing Congress by procedural means. “And Republicans should have to answer for that,” she said, “because it’s a really stupid way to run the country.”

Later on, Maher targeted the political canard of “running a state like a business,” which he and Maddow pointed out can be foolish given the cross-purposes of government and private enterprise. And Arizona won the final showdown in Maher’s “Stupidest State” contest, edging out Texas to receive a trophy of a man with his head up his ass. Maher claimed he’d send the trophy to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

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On her Facebook page this week, Sarah Palin outlined a pretty solid case for tough government regulations against corporations. (By the way, none of the sentences ended with the word “also,” nor did the entry read like a really bad local newspaper letter to the editor, so I assume it was ghost-written.)

Yes, seriously. Sarah Palin is in favor of the federal government planting its gigantic boot on the throats of energy companies. She put it in writing. Not only that but she even proposed that our socialist, anti-capitalist, wealth-redistributing president call her on the phone so she can describe to him specifically how to impose all kinds of big government regulations against BP and others.

It’s about damn time.

I knew if we just continued to make the case for serious government regulation of corporations, we’d finally win some minds and hearts — even minds as airy, and wolf-snipering hearts as hardened as Sarah Palin’s.

Here’s the centerpiece of what she wrote:

Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must!

I can only assume she was suggesting that “we must!” regulate and drill. For the record, we’re already drilling offshore, so enough of this hackish “drill, baby, drill” screeching. There are already 3,858 oil and gas platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico alone, according to NOAA. Here’s a convenient map with yellow dots indicating all of the locations where we’re already, you know, drilling, baby, drilling:

2010-06-09-Gulf_Coast_Platforms.jpg

I understand, however, that most Republicans aren’t satisfied and want more drilling. They want the moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits to end, and they want new exploration for oil in heretofore untapped leases all along the entire coast of the United States. The problem is that it would take around 10 years to get platforms online and producing in the areas where there are untapped leases, and the deepwater platforms that are ready to drill now don’t have the failsafe mechanisms — and the regulations Sarah wants — in place yet. So how about this compromise: we continue to drill with the existing offshore wells, but, as Sarah Palin suggests, we regulate the hell out of them? Once those regulations are in place, maybe we can talk about new offshore leases rather than drilling willy-nilly.

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