Saturday, July 31, 2010

100 plus days

BP has capped the well & now all is well? Not exactly. The above photo is a massive fish kill. 
Locals waiting for claims $, and doing more waiting than "claiming", and many folks are out of work. 
These are the current reported numbers from the Fish & Wildlife Dept:

Dead Birds - 3117
Dead Sea Turtles - 498

For as much rhetoric as was tossed about re the crude spill- even the "keeping the boot on the throat" of BP, look where we are at today. The cameras have gone blank- apparently we don't need to see what is going on in the murky, deep waters. Is there seepage? What are the pressure readings? Apparently they think we don't need to know. I'm reading reports BP will be taking a $10 BILLION tax write off. 
They created the worst environmental spill in US history, and can use it as a major tax write off?
That is a sweet deal for them, Eh?  Not like the U.S. could use $10 billion- oh wait! We are $13.3 trillion in debt. 
BP intends to ship nearly $10 billion of the costs related to the Gulf oil spill to the backs of the American taxpayers.” Last year BP paid $10.5 billion in taxes worldwide.
What BP is doing is perfectly legal. BP can’t write off any fines or penalties assessed by the government, but the $20 billion BP set aside in an escrow fund plus additional costs of containing the spill are all fair game.
In a statement to CNN, BP’s spokesman said, “BP is folling the U.S. Tax Code with respect to the income tax treatment of costs associated with the MC 252 incident. Taxes are paid on profits and the Gulf of Mexico spill response costs have reduced BP’s U.S. profits—so it follows that our tax obligations will be lower as well.”

 I am not satisfied with the current situation. Roll the cameras. Make public the well cap pressure numbers. Do not allow them to find & exploit tax loopholes. 
If the damaged well is seeping, we need to know about it. If they are still releasing dispersant, we need to know about it.  Also in the following video Thad Allen states this info (@ the 3:48 time in the video)



 US Attorney General Eric Holden has opened criminal and civil investigations into the BP oil spill.  Should BP be found guilty of a crime, any caps on their financial liability would no longer apply.

The clean water act of 1972 gives the US environmental Protection Agency the power to seek civil penalties for each barrel of oil that leaks into US waters.

Under normal circumstances the fine is $1,100 per barrel. However if BP is found guilty of gross negligence because they reportedly failed to repair the damaged  blow out preventer on the Deepwater Horizon, that penalty rises to $4,300 per barrel.

At the spill rate of 53,000 barrels a day beginning on April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, until the completion of relief wells in August, the fines from the EPA alone would be over $20.5 billion dollars.

EPA oil spill fines are well known throughout the industry, so BP had a great deal of motivation to underestimate their original figures on the amount of oil being spilled."

Let's keep these numbers fresh in our minds as we move forward, and remember this "boot on the throat of BP" concept. We don;t want the US to go soft on BP & back down with clouded memories of just how much oil spilled, the testimonies of those who knew for sure the blowout preventer was broken & BP ignored it- that's gross negligence if ever we witnessed it. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Here he comes to save the day.....

This is great feel good story~ we all need one every now & again.

 MSN reports:

"Asylum reports that a family was packing up their belongings after their bank had started foreclosure proceedings, when they came across a box of comic books in the basement.

But this wasn't just any box, and the family suspected they'd struck gold when they discovered among the titles "Action Comics No. 1," the comic that introduced Superman to the world and brought to life the superhero genre, which remains popular to this day.

In the nick of time, the Man of Steel saved a family's home ... for real. A couple facing foreclosure found the collateral they desperately needed with the discovery of an Action Comics #1 (aka, the Holy Grail of comic books) in their basement. 

As any true fanboy knows, Action Comics #1 is the most significant comic of all time because it was Superman's debut. In fact, the issue birthed the entire genre of the superhero. 

It also happens to be worth upward of $250,000. Asylum writes:

The house had been in the family's possession since the 1950s, which is probably when the wife's father stashed the issue in a box with some other, mere mortal titles.

When the family contacted Stephen Fishler, the co-owner of ComicConnect and Metropolis, he was naturally skeptical after receiving countless similar calls, of which "99.9%" turn out to be reprints, he told Asylum. But then they texted him a cell phone picture of its cover, which features Superman holding a car, and Fishler knew he'd found the key to comic book fans' collections all over the world.

The comic is expected to fetch more than a quarter-million dollars when it goes up for auction on ComicConnect -- and that's a low estimate. In February of this year, an unrestored copy of "Action Comic No. 1" sold for $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Times, followed a month later by the sale of another copy in better condition at $1.5 million.

But don't go hunting down the family for what's left over after they get back up to speed on their mortgage. They told Fishler they'd like to remain anonymous, although they did tell Asylum that they were "shell-shocked about finding this book.":

"I know I am very fortunate, but I will be greatly relieved when this book finds a new home."

Thankfully, it looks like they'll get to keep theirs.

Wow! What a cool story. Way to go Superman!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What the????

Much to my surprise disgust, I discovered this device installed @ my workplace on Monday.

I shit you not! They actually put this obnoxious motion sensor device in the restroom. I mean seriously... what is this Romper room? Are we being punked? Is this a candid camera stunt?
We are adults here.  Then I started to wonder if this robotic Mother/intrusion device would have new phrases on different days.... first it was telling me to please remember to wash my hands before I even hit the throne, what would it say tomorrow?
Stand up straight, you're slouching!
Did you make your bed today?
Eat your vegetables!

I swear, my gut instinct is to rip this annoying bitch off the ceiling & flush it down the toilet. Also just to put some perspective on it, this is a 10 stall bathroom- so besides your own entry & exit this thing mouthing off, it does so for anyone else paying homage @ the flushers as well.  You might hear the robotic message 5 or more times in the course of one piss in the pot!

Oddly they only installed them in 2 of the 4 banks of restrooms.
This device could not be more annoying.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cut the tax cut for the rich

I just watched an hour long documentary on poverty in America. Not the people the fat cat republican Senators claim to be "living high on the hog", uninspired to work because unemployment is so appealing and such an easy life. Real life people working minimum wage jobs. Genuinely struggling- on every front- to have a place to live, to be able to feed their children, and to have a job that can support their families.
To know that Wall Street hacks saw fit to take their big bonus money- even in the year they took Federal Treasury money to bail them out, is to reach the last straw.

I dare any Senator to go live in the places I just watched in the documentary. An old trailer with no running water. A grandmother's house with 14 family members living under one roof in a very small house, on a very small Social Security budget. A single parent with two small children living in a car in the extreme winter months in Ohio. All those people living on the edge with small children, all seem to say the same thing- the kids get fed first, the kids needs are always at the forefront.

So now that ending the Tax Cut for the rich question is on the table, I want to scream YES. When did this nation become so selfish & careless? If you are fortunate enough to be making over $250,000 a year, then you can afford to be pitching in a greater amount.
Anyone profiting from the military industrial complex ought to belly up & pay for it. Same as those who are big oil profiteers (like the Bush family).... it looks like we have a little problem on our hands re the oil situation.

Because the "small people" always pay a disproportionate amount of income to taxes, it is time those most able to contribute pay their fair share.  Stop whining that you think someone on unemployment is getting free money. Realize that although the COBRA insurance gap program exists, it is mostly unaffordable for those without work. No work. No healthcare insurance. No easy life.

Although former president Bush called the ultra wealthy his "base", his tax cut for the wealthy was off base. Wrong & stupid as most of his policies were.  In the end, he was the one that came pleading to Congress to fix Wall Street because the floor was dropping out from the greedy & risky subprime mortgage mess.  The tax cuts for the rich are set to expire- but already there is clamor-- that they must sell it to the GOP, to let expire the tax cut for the very wealthy, but install a tax cut for the middle & lower income people.

Seriously? Let me share with them a secret--- it's an election year.  You think the general public is in favor of letting taxpayers making a quarter million or more, deserve more tax breaks?

The only reason this is a hard sell is because so many in the Senate are that wealthy.
They have a personal conflict of interest. But that is not the majority of We the People.

The median household income in the United States is $46,326

That means it would take the average American 10.7 years to make the bonus money of one Wall Street worker's annual bonus.  More than 20 years to make bonus plus salary- for 1 YEAR of your average Goldman Sachs employee. 

So yes, please tax the hell out of the $250,000 & above crowd. 
They all yammer about generational theft-- start paying down the National Debit oh you with lots of cash. 
It is about caring for & about your country in meaningful ways. 
We need to get real with budget issues. 

Meanwhile the old coot from  Utah has this to say:

"We are eager to oblige our friends on the other side of the aisle who want to have this debate," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) said in a statement Sunday. "This is about stopping a job-killing tax hike on small businesses during tough economic times."
Job killing? Someone please tell the Senator that ship has already sailed, back when Bush was in charge & the economy tanked. 
About 2% of U.S. households earn more than $250,000 annually, according to recent statistics. 
To answer the question when did the Bush tax cuts begin....
Bush-era tax cuts -
* The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA)
• The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA)
• The 2008 stimulus package, and a series of annual AMT patches — enacted since 2001. 
Together, the tax cuts account for $1.7 trillion in extra deficits in 2001 through 2008, and $3.4 trillion over the 2009-2019 period. Finally, we added the extra debt-service costs caused by the Bush-era tax cuts, amounting to more than $200 billion through 2008.
The point is, the "haves" have had a huge tax break for almost a decade. The "have not's" are suffering & in dire straits. 
This should be an easy thing for Congress to do. Because the voters are mad as hell & not going to take it anymore. For instance, the UK had the balls to impose a 50% tax on bankers with big buck bonuses, during a time of financial crisis. 
Bottom line: The GOP extension of Bush tax cuts would add $3.4 Trillion to the Deficit. 

These are the people calling for fiscal responsibility. That loathe the concept of generational theft.  The debt & the deficit are already causing a lot of pain & suffering right here in America, right now. 
A trillion dollar debt will financially strap many generations to come. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In my future?

I just requested to sign up for the intro to Taiko Drum class in the fall. Not sure about the details just yet...
but I have done African & Latin/Conga drumming & was always impressed & intrigued with these huge wooden barrel Japanese drums.  Amazing sound live & in person. This is the local Eugene Taiko drum troupe. I'm hoping the beginners are not required to do the fancy spinning & tossing of the beater sticks this featured drummer is doing!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My faith in humanity restored

For all the bad things happening in the world, it was refreshing to hear this good news. Cascade Medical Team, a group of volunteer Medical professionals, and other assistants, go to Guatemala each year to do a medical & dental care blitz, are going to do a two day stint in Eugene, Oregon.
Doctors & Dentists will be available this weekend in the town of Coburg @ Monaco Coach.

This has to be one of the most humane and kind things to do.... Doctors, Dentists & Nurses donating their time to help out the most needy.  So heartening. They put a call out for volunteers, and so we signed up to help out, in whatever way we can.

You can read more about the Cascade Medical Team by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We need answers!

Seriously! They are serving up some bullshit reason that the seepage near the well is um, from another well. Just how does one prove that? If anything, they need to let the oil flow for a few reasons.

1. We need to know how much oil they have been spewing, because the fine is per barrel. Collecting it 100% is they only way we could know.

2. Why are they not publishing what the pressure numbers are? Transparency please.

3. If there is seepage, then stop the cap & collect oil. If there is the slightest chance the backed up gas seepage just might blow, or cause problems with the relief wells, then stop the experiment & collect the oil.

4. It still irks me that the Coast Guard guy handling the matter just retired. Thad Allen seems to be doing an awful lot of compromising with BP.

The Sierra club set up this display on the Ntl Mall in D. C. on the 4th of July. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

"It always seems impossible until its done. "

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." 

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, 
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Nelson Mandela is a living hero in my book. He did not go for the glitz or intentionally high profile hero kind of thing, just a person who saw injustice, and sought to make a change. 
A change that was considered impossible.  Mandela has quite the resume:

• Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life in prison. 
• Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island.
• Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. 
• Mandela served as president from 1994 to 1999.
• Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
Mandela got his first law school education while in Prison

After spending 27 years in prison Mandela went on to become President. South Africa's first multi-racial elections in which full enfranchisement was granted were held on 27 April 1994. The ANC won 62% of the votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as the country's first black President.
Mandela has been married three times, has fathered six children, has twenty grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren.
Mandela became the oldest elected President of South Africa when he took office at the age of 75 in 1994. He decided not to stand for a second term and retired in 1999.
In June 2004, at age 85, Mandela announced that he would be retiring from public life. His health had been declining, and he wanted to enjoy more time with his family. Mandela said that he did not intend to hide away totally from the public, but wanted to be in a position "of calling you to ask whether I would be welcome, rather than being called upon to do things and participate in events. My appeal therefore is: Don't call me, I will call you."
He is white-haired and walks slowly with the support of a stick. There are reports that he may be suffering from age-related dementia.
If anyone deserves a break, and thankful recognition, Nelson Mandela does. 
Mandela Day on 18 July is an annual international day adopted by the United Nations. Individuals, communities and organisations are asked to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Nelson Mandela gave to the struggle for social justice.

Namaste, and thank You Nelson Mandela for your vision & dedication.

Raffi's song "Turn This World Around" is based on a speech given by Mandela where he explained the world needs to be "turned around, for the children"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

BP's crap shoot

They say it looks like dog poop, the tar balls that have washed up on the white sugar sands of the Florida coast. See the layer of oil covered in sand, covered with more oil in this photo?
It is gooey, stinky & sticky. Just how is BP going to clean this up?
The latest news is the pressure dropped on the new cap seems unstable, although they are being awful quiet, which means trouble. There are rumblings of them resuming the tanker suck plan (see I can make up creative names too!). 

 It could mean that capping the well as they did, may wind up creating a geological blowout that would literally rip open the ground, resulting in a new & worse gush.  Of course we all hope that does not happen. 

We realize what a grand experiment this is. The latest news as reported by MSNBC:

Methane might be escaping through cracks in the seafloor, the source said, and that could be a sign of leaks in the well that's been capped off for three days as part of a test of its integrity.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement about the next steps had not been made yet. Testing had been extended until 4 p.m. ET Sunday, but that came and went without any word on whether it would continue even longer.
The official is familiar with the spill oversight, but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official says BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring.
The official said National Incident Commander Thad Allen would issue a letter to BP shortly allowing testing to proceed in 24-hour increments, but also requiring more analysis of the seep and the possible observation of methane over the well.
If Allen doesn't get the response he wants, the testing could stop, the official said."
What? BP is not complying??? Make then go to the crude sucking method before the whole thing blows! There  should be ZERO chance for BP to not comply.  WTF!!!???

It makes the US look like fools for not only allowing BP to drill recklessly, but to also allow them to  dump over 1.4 million gallons of chemicals into the water. BP would not be allowed to use Corexit in their own home country. The UK has banned the use of Corexit for a decade. 

Besides putting oil on the shores of 5 States in the Gulf, the wildlife death toll increases:
Collected Dead:
Birds- 2283
Sea Turtles- 472
Mammals- Including Dolphins - 62

To coin their own phrase.... "Making this right" seems fictional. What a load!

An about face re PTSD

Finally! The Military has changed the rules about PTSD- Post traumatic stress disorder. Back in the day, they called it many different names-- "railway spine, stress syndrome, shell shock, battle fatigue, and traumatic war neurosis". "Battle fatigue".... just a little too much time in the trenches amidst the bloody reality of war & it got to people. They were supposed to suck it up, pull it together & carry on. Be a man.
That is why many World War II vets refuse to even talk about what it was like. They wish they could forget. But even now, the military has downplayed PTSD-- they had to address it, after years of denying it.
They set up counseling programs-- a little deep breathing, a few stress reduction techniques, a slap on the back, & back out to active war duty.  One soldier even stated he thinks of suicide daily.... he was sent back to active duty in Iraq.
About one soldier per day commits suicide.
Many Vets make it through their tour(s) of duty to return home. They return physically, but are mentally traumatized ~ never the same. The war experience changed them forever.

Up until now, if someone claimed to have PTSD, the military required the soldier to document the one event that triggered it. I know of a soldier who was in the Navy... they just called her up & said we need you in the Army & we need you in Iraq. They did basic boot camp, but she had said she never was really told what to do when nearby explosions happened around the Green Zone. With bombs exploding all around, and the stench of a burning vehicle & tires hung in the 121 degree hot air, body parts strewn about the latest attack.... how could a person pinpoint a particular "event" that put them over the top? The moment in which witnessing war became traumatic.
How many soldier friends had to die? How many IED explosions & injuries... what was the breaking point? Soldiers are trained to not be emotional. They are supposed to be the troops that carry out orders without question.
But humanity exists under the standard military garb & the shaved heads. Their hearts & minds are still their own, even though they are temporarily owned by the military.

This week, the military changed the rules-  no longer requiring documentation of a specific event that traumatized soldiers.

USA Today reports:

"Troops are returning with invisible wounds that can be as debilitating as any physical battlefield trauma. As in every conflict in our nation's history, today's warriors are suffering emotional injuries just as they do physical ones.
The residual effects of combat manifest themselves in every combatant's life. 
At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) there is only one goal — to ensure that veterans of every generation receive the best possible health care and the benefits they have earned.
Previously, veterans filing for health care and disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were required to document in detail the causes of their symptoms. These have traditionally been called "stressors."
The rules stringently required veterans, who served in the combat branches of the military, where the likelihood of direct action against an armed enemy was highest, to provide detailed documentation of those engagements. For those not serving in the combat branches, the burden of proof was even higher. But in either case, these rules were neither fair nor sustainable.
At VA, we're now moving to treat all veterans equally. On Monday, VA begins simplifying the process by which veterans with PTSD are able to access health care and receive benefits.
Streamlining this process will help not just the veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, but generations of veterans who have previously "borne the battle" for our nation.
We're publishing a regulation Monday in the Federal Register that simplifies the process for claiming service connection for PTSD by reducing the documentation needed for veterans to validate the specifics of place, type and circumstance of incident.
  From this point forward, VA will not require corroboration of a PTSD stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity, if a VA doctor confirms a diagnosis of PTSD and the stressful experience recalled by the veteran adequately supports that diagnosis.

This decision to simplify the process has been validated by an Institute of Medicine study, which concluded that service in a war zone is inherently linked to increased risk of PTSD.

In Profiles in Courage, President John F. Kennedy, himself a combat veteran, noted, "Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men ... have lived. The courage of life ... is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy."

In reality the previous process, further increased the trauma to the soldiers who had to cut through a ton of bureaucratic red tape to get the help they desperately needed. 
Many gave up, or worse, took their own lives to try to find peace. 
Soldiers can get the help they need, and this side effect of being in a war zone is now being taken seriously.  No longer just lip service, Veterans can get much needed care, for the mental wounds they suffer as a result of being involved in war. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A handslap for Goldman Sachs

The SEC slapped Goldman Sachs' hand with a $550 million dollar settlement on a fraud charges, that it misled investors about collateralized debt obligations re subprime mortgages.

You have to understand, that is chump change to GS-- their BONUS money pool was TRIMMED to $16 BILLION last year.                                          
                                                                                    The average bonus $ @ SC is $500,000.
The average pay of a GS employee is $498,000

With a  $45 billion dollar profit margin in 2009, the $550 million is 1.2% of their income.

POP QUIZ: Who do you think will take that financial hit?

Look for the answer in your  401K quarterly report.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Check out this view....

Just thought I'd put up this beautiful photo of the High Country in Utah~ Cedar Breaks Ntl. Monument, 10,000 foot elevation, today. 
Quite the view! I am taking today as being a positive/ happy day-- a coworker offered to take my whole shift, so  a 3 day weekend (no hesitation there!).
Also, for now anyway, the gusher cam shows no gushing crude. 
I know that scene is still on thin ice & shaky ground, but maybe they figured something out that will stop the disaster. One can hope. 
Happy Friday People!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Theme song

This is the only version of Everything is broken sung by Bob Dylan I could find.
I seem to be in some kind of vortex of things breaking down.
Dishwasher, Oven, Coffee Maker. Today the frames of my glasses just fell apart (10 months old), and the lawnmower would appear to be on it's lasts gasps.

On the world scene, the Blowout preventer is definitely broken in the Gulf Coast, and who knows if the fixes they are working on will be broken too?

We may as well have a theme song!

Monday, July 12, 2010

more More MORE!!!

I came across this link on the Interwebs-- Plus Size Living.

So don't get me wrong-- I am both big & tall & my husband is more tall than big- 6 foot 6". We fully understand that one size does NOT fit all. I respect that real life sizes are not the bulimic & anorexic models we see used to sell fashion. People should feel comfortable in their own bodies, and we all have genetics that  predispose towards certain body types.  I get that. 
But I have to wonder if this company takes it over the top. For one thing the header really does use the verbiage "more more more" in the intro to the site. Do we really need one person camp chairs that hold up to 800 pounds? A human weight scale that can handle up to 1000 pounds? A step stool with a 1000 pound capacity?
Now they do throw in the line about healthy exercise gear.... which is good. If you are in the 800 pound range, you really need to consider exercise. 
Still the "healthy living" section sells a portable grill, and other countertop cooking gadgets. 
Ok they do have a juicer, and a diabetic cookbook....  but also an inflatable bar & insulated food
backpack.  Hmmmm. Is Plus Size Living a part of the problem?

The Big John toilet seat can hold up to 1200 pounds!
Also-- if you are a size 9X, you should probably not go with the red orange swim trunks!
This web site has some real mixed messages. I'm thinking less less less!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A local perspective~

Jerry Biggs, a commercial fisherman in Pass Christian, Miss., who has had to shut down because of the spill, is now hiring out his 13 boats and 40-man crew to BP for cleanup. He said the skimming operation is severely hampered by the weather.

Biggs, clearly angry over the situation, said the hurricane season will just further hurt the cleanup effort, saying one big storm will push the oil everywhere.
"This isn't going away. This isn't a sneeze or a hiccup. This is diarrhea for a long time," he said. "My lifestyle is screwed. It's over. The thing that I love the most I'm not going to be able to do anymore."

Friday, July 9, 2010

More questions than answers....

Admiral Thad Allen recently officially retired from his career in the U.S. Coast Guard, yet he will continue his duties as the national incident commander of the BP oil spill.

They have a new Admiral Robert Papp, but they are keeping the retired guy in charge?

I have to ask-- What is it Thad Allen could not do as an employed Coast Guard employee incident commander that he can do as a retired employee?

This is what happens when trust has eroded, and so much misinformation has been given, you start to question everything.

That is also the case with the EPA.
They can not seem to grasp they should be issuing orders to BP, not the other way around.

After 80 days of oil spewing, isn't it long overdue that the EPA &
 Coast Guard  lay down some rules -
 other than a 65 foot exclusion zone for the media & bloggers?