Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a time and place

this be the time and this be the place
and this be you all over your face,
the more you hide it the more
you confide it in everyone
you meet, you sittin in
the seat of here and
now like it or not,
you can lay your
ass down or go
forth at a trot.

santa johnson

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Exxon Valdez Judgement Not A Good Sign For Gulf Residents

Remember the Exxon Valdez?

One Amazon customer reviews a book by John Keeble regarding this 11-million-gallon oil spill.

Newspaper stories about the oil spill created the impression that the cause of the accident was simply that the captain was drunk. This book shows that the real situation was far more complex. The captain was definitely not drunk. He did have a few drinks, which is against regulations. Even after all the analysis it is not clear what exactly went wrong. The fact that the captain had a few drinks was not the only breach of regulations. None of the officers had a six-hour off duty time in the twelve-hour period before departure.

The ship was single hulled instead of double hulled as was foreseen when the oil terminal was built.

When Congress granted permission to build the pipeline and the terminal one of the conditions was that there would be a state-of-the-art contingency plan for oil spills. There was nothing of the sort.

A Vessel Traffic Services station was supposed to monitor the movement of the ships through the strait. Due to cost cutting measures the station was unable to monitor the movement of the ship.

A major cause of inefficiency in the clean up was the lack of clarity about who was in charge, the Coast Guard or Exxon.

It is not just the captain that acted irresponsibly, so did all parties concerned. This is described in one part of the book.

The second part of the book describes the impact of the oil spill and especially of the clean up on the communities affected. Each of the communities split in the middle. Half of the members took the position of trying to squeeze as much money out of Exxon as possible whilst the other half did not want to have anything to do with Exxon.

Exxon did not succeed in engaging the communities in a positive way.

The third part describes the nature in Alaska. These descriptions are wonderful and make you want to go there. These three parts are interwoven.

The advantage is that the reader gets a three dimensional understanding of what happened: the responsibility for the disaster and the clean up, the impact on different members of the community and the impact on nature.

The author places the ultimate responsibility on the consumer. He writes,

"the American population prefers to live in a fog and is willing to accept almost anything in return for the opportunity to keep its gas tanks topped up" (with cheap gas).

The reviewer concludes:

The combination of corporations maximising short-term profits and consumers closing their eyes to the consequences of their behaviour makes one worried. There must be a better way.

The book is here:
More reviews of Out of the Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill In Prince William Sound.

NOW that we've been warmed up.

Some observations:

1st. "Spill?!!!!"
words are powerful and this word is propogandy fer durn sher.
rupture? volcano? nightmare? toxic plume?


2nd. This toxic oil catastrophe was only the 53rd largest in history, says Wikipedia.

3rd. What happened afterward.

This is why Gulf residents are in for a sucky time.

The Exxon toxic plume savaged Prince William Sound in 1989.

In 1991, a jury recommended a 900 Million penalty for Exxon.

In 1994 a judge added a 5 Billion punitive judgement against Exxon.

In 2008, SCOTUS slashes the award to 1/10th of its size: 500 million
to the residents of Cordova, Alaska.

But what else was going on with Exxon in 2008?


That's right.

The very same year the Supremes reduced Exxon's cleanup cost obligations for this most horrific, toxic event, Exxon reported record profits for the previous year -- 40.61 Billion, or 1,300.00 per second, during the year 2007.

Congratulations, Exxon.

Also, by 2008 the price of gas had skyrocketed 60 per cent.
Cordova residents found themselves gouged coming and going just
for wanting to drive their petrol-guzzling conveyances to work and
wherever else they needed to go. Because what else do we have, Mr. Keeble?
Without reliable mass transit, is it really so much about
consumers driving the economy? Or maybe Mr. Keeble should read up on the history of the highways, the auto makers, and the development of cities, and then tell us
just how much our car-centered infrastructure is the fault of people who are in a fog.

I'll agree about the fog, but not the fault.

Here's a glimpse of how long oil stays stuck in all the trillions of nooks and crannies that it can get stuck in, in ocean habitats. This is the Exxon Valdez spill, 20 years later, as documented by National Geographic.

20 Years After The Exxon Befoulment.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

AT & T Customer Service Rep Comments On Job

Comments from an AT&T customer service rep:

August 30, 2007 5:03 PMModerate |Flag for review

There is nothing shocking or secret about the AT&T customer service policy. The policy was put together years ago by a platoon of lawyers in order to protect AT&T and the customer (believe it or not.) I know because I have been a Service Representative with AT&T for over 20 years. What I have seen happening in those years is this: what was once a true Service oriented mentality has become a Sales oriented / bottom line mentality. Within the company, Sales and Service are synonyms. One is said to be servicing their customer well by causing that $20 monthly POTS line account to become a $150 - $300 monthly bill by adding "Bundles" (which the company claims the customer wants, when in reality they don't), second and third and fourth lines, adding Cellular, Dish Network or U-Verse, DSL, or whatever else they can possibly think of to cause that customer to be paying as much as possible on a monthly basis. But there is still nothing particularly "wrong" with that either. AT&T is a publicly traded, for-profit company. The real problem is the people who work there. From the CEO down to the lowly CSR. With few exceptions, their sole motivation is the bottom line. How many DSL's, Dishes or Packaged services got sold that day? AND THEY DONT CARE HOW IT HAPPENS. If the numbers are good, you might get lucky and have a great experience with your CSR on a given day. But if the numbers are bad, and the Division President is coming down on his GM's, then the shit trickles down from the GM to the Sales Managers to the Team Leaders down to the CSR's whose performance numbers may not be that great. Threats are made. Insults hurled. Pressure is brought to bear. Then you hear that saccharine greeting on the other end of your phone..."Thank you for calling AT&T, how can I help?" YOU are toast. In many cases, like it or not. I cant tell you how many customers I have talked to...angry customers. YOU will be lied to. YOU will be presented with promotions and gimmicks that either don't exist, or are "embellishments" of actual promotions. In many cases, the CSR is acting on orders from his/her Manager, who cant get chewed out again by their Sales manager or the GM again. In other cases, its the CSR's lack of Training that is to blame, as AT&T views training as a drain on the system, and would not do any of it unless the Unions which represent the CSR's and Technicians insisted upon it. But there are still other cases of simple greed. CSR's get a nice commission in addition to their excellent salary. Any method that can be used to boost their bottom line while not getting caught is OK with them. And if you make your numbers reliably, Management has been known to turn a blind eye to questionable, sometimes highly questionable sales practices, in spite of the multitudes of customers, many of whom have been loyal to the company for decades, calling in to the Customer Care Center 3, 4...8 times to have some package removed that they didn't ask for, or were unaware they had alternatives to because the CSR never offered it to them. You donut offer the most affordable plan to the customers; you offer the plan that costs them the most so we can collect $600 a year for a service that costs the company $10 a year to maintain. Multiply that out by the millions of customers AT&T has and what do you get? Then imagine all the other customers...the ones who donut call us. They just assume that we wouldn't steer them wrong and they pay their phone bill for months...years...decades...never realizing they are paying for services they donut need, donut want or donut even know that they have because they donut read their bill. You may be thinking that I'm shilling for the Unions. Far from it. The union spends all of the dues it collects from me and all my "Brothers and Sisters" defending and in many cases, getting fired employees who were fired with good reason, back on the job. Why? Because the company has to make a case against the person they want to fire. And if they messed up some minor detail of that case, they will lose their Arbitration hearing to the Union and the CSR who paid for his brand new Escalade with the money he made from lying to you over the phone, gets his job back, in many cases, WITH BACK PAY. In the meantime, the people who go to work everyday and bust ass and remain ethical are lost in the morass. The union is obsessed with this kind of bullshit, while the rest of the employees are forced to work overtime, which is a clear violation of our Union contract. But because the union thinks it ensures job security, they donut put up a fight. But I digress...Ultimately, if AT&T ever ACTUALLY put their own policy into effect, they think they would lose profits.

source: comments

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Staring Into Screens Replaces Actually Living Life For Millions

The Average American Adult Spends 8 1/2 Hours a Day Staring into Screens
Author: Mark Alvarez 31

The average American adult spends eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen, whether it’s on a computer, TV, mobile phone or other gadget.

Users who spend the most time in front of a screen are those in the 45-54 age group, who dedicate nine and a half hours to this per day.

These are the results of a new study by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence (CRE) and Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CMD).

TV is still the main media activity, followed in descending popularity by computers, radio and print media.

The report finds that the average American spends 142.5 minutes daily in front of a computer, which is dwarfed by TV’s 353.1 minutes. PC users spend almost as much time working with software (46.1 minutes) as they do on the Web (48.8 minutes).

The report doesn’t make clear if the software is installed on PCs or in the cloud.

The biggest computer users are those between the ages of 35 and 44, who spend a half-hour more than any other group in front of the computer, 199.3 minutes.

While the report doesn’t focus on social networking per se, you can see its influence, especially on younger users.

While those in the youngest age group, 18-24, spend the second-highest amount of time on the Internet (67 minutes), their email usage of 20.3 is significantly lower than the average of 37.4 minutes across all age groups, and is only higher than one group, adults 65 and over.

Since we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift in advertising, and are concerned that all the old models are breaking (or have broken) down, it’s fascinating to see CRE report that, despite DVR and channel-surfing, the average American adult watches 72 minutes of TV ads a day.

The CRE study is most interesting in its methodology and what it might have revealed about the accuracy of survey-based studies - it observed users and reported their actions at 10-second intervals, and found that users’ habits were different than what the users themselves reported.

One of these findings flies in the face of most reports about the increases in computer video watching, as it found that the average American does this for a little over two minutes a day, or just a few seconds more than they text.

Of course, Ball State has admitted members of my own family as students, so you might want to question the intellectual standards of the institution behind the report, though they’re surely higher than Purdue’s. To this we should also add: Go IU!


and comments--one from someone unknown and the latter is by me.

Like A Population of Over-Stimulated Newborns | Rich Harris
June 10th, 2010 at 8:19

[...] The average American adult spends 8 1/2 hours a day staring into screens. We have gotten down on our knees and ripped the faucet off the water main of information with mouths and hands wide open. By majority, we are a culture of people in a constant state of waiting for the next thing to do, the next thing to react to, to eat, to drink, to socialize, to attend, to take care of, to engage on whatever level enough to prompt us to feel like we know what we’re supposed to do next while we are awake. I truly believe it’s NOT human nature that we are control freaks with how much idle time we allow. I believe we are taught by our environment how to, and why we should limit our solitude, deviate from it, stay misinformed on how to leverage it for personal growth. We do this out of fear. To us I think deep down we know that solitude is the ultimate place of vulnerability, where we are forced to face the truth, ourselves, with no distraction, and it’s uncomfortable. [...]

August 3rd, 2010 at 20:39

Silence, slowing down, refusal to admit advertising into my personal space, and hours of the day spent not staring into screens, but actually doing and experiencing things—rather than observing life through the screens–has become my main objective.

It’s lonely here in the actual world, though. I’m amazed to even find this article. There is so little material on this phenomenon. During my 40-hour work week I am chained to the computer. That is where I am right now. This is the “land of the free,” right? But I’m not free to not use computers.

Computers have really messed up my sense of time, space and physical focus. I appreciate the flow of information. But I fear the cost is too high, for me, personally, anyway. I get a lot of crap for this. But after my 8 hour day where I am only virtual—all my skills used in my job come from my head and through the computer –I am more and more feeling disembodied, unreal, and I fear I will have to quit my job, because I don’t know how long I can take it.

I am also very tired lately and have been sleeping far more than I used to. I have never had to interface with machines so much. Plus all customer service is on the phone. Little to no human voice contact. Very unnerving. I honestly don’t know how people aren’t going mad.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Letter to President Barack Obama, 07.30.10


Dear Mr. President,

Please forgive my abruptness. I literally feel deserted by you.

"Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change to Washington. "I don't want to just end the war," he said early this year. "I want to end the mindset that got us into war." That is going to be very difficult if Obama employs a foreign policy team that was central to creating that mindset, before and during the presidency of George W. Bush."

Click here to read article, url is included in letter to the President.

We deserve an explanation. That's what it will take to be here
for you. I am really struggling with this.

Cynthia Burkey

Friday, July 23, 2010


In the morning we will wake up and take to the air
Look back at the planet - I'm glued to my chair

Southern half is burning as we climb through the sky
Sea-birds softly falling, smoke way up high

There's the contours of the mountains, the deserts and the plains
And a hurricane is blowing, and it turns once again

Now there's oil spills in the water where Columbus once sailed
And there's history and mystery and it's rolling away

I wish you could see this great mystery
Earth and sun and moon human tribe, thin blue line

Eath and sun and moon will survive
Sediment is plowing from river to sea

Now where are the mighty nations, no lines to be seen
An axe upon the broken ground, the sigh of the trees

And its floating in the ether, it brings me to my knees
Too messed up to care,

Anyone got a wing and a prayer,
In the blink of an eye

Thank you and good night
Earth and sun and moon human tribe, one thin blue line
Earth and sun and moon will survive, will survive, we will survive

Midnight Oil

More Than Plenty of Reasonable Doubt

I think the police focused too early on Scott Peterson, that’s my opinion. They didn’t follow up on any other leads. I also want to say that there are people walking the streets today who’ve had their convictions reversed,
and their cases were investigated by police also.

--Matt Dalton, author of Presumed Guilty: What the Jury Never Knew About Laci Peterson's Murder and Why Scott Peterson Should Not Be On Death Row

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hallelujah--Kurt Nilson, Espen Lind, Askil Holm og, Alejandro Fuentes

Since I can't embed it here, I must ask you to go to Youtube and watch and listen.

I used to love music so much and take so much comfort from it every day. Once in a while I hear something like this and it reminds me of how powerful music can be. It really reaches places that words and otherwise unmusical thoughts cannot. The only times in my life I've really believed in god were when listening to music.

The link is right here below!

Hey man. Whatever you did to the template, it's all fucked up now. You go away forever, never post, then change the template all of a sudden. WTF?

so go here to Youtube and watch these guys sitting around in chairs and transforming the energy around them into transcendence.

It's really something else.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Woodchip Gazette -- found blog

I always like to find an interesting voice. Plumbing layer upon layer of cyberspace I am always amazed at how many sane, sensible, articulate voices out there. (Which makes it all the more amazing that George W. Bush was the President, a reality I still have not accepted even as I recognize that it is now historical fact).

The internet is freaking me out lately. Majorly freaking me out, to use an 80's term. It's nothing but writing on the wall, on walls that might never be seen by anyone. What exactly do we think we're doing here? Are we going to change the world by writing on the wall?

True, only now that we have the internet do we have real-time wall writing made accessible to everyone. But has the internet changed our civic life at the core?

What if what's really happening is that with every minute, hour, day, week, month, year that we fix our eyes on screens and our hands on keyboards, rather than elsewhere, we are getting more and more accustomed to doing nothing but typing to address our concerns? It's a three-dimensional world. Are we hypnotized by the idea that what we write here makes a difference?

These are the questions I ask myself lately, especially after whole days go by and my mind spends so many hours in a space that has no physical relationship to any reality that I know. It's the dark mind-space where all our thoughts go as we communicate here. But it is a different place than the three dimensions in which I live and breathe and move and walk and ....

OK, the Pres. is talking, and I'm going to listen. But first a found blog..

Sunday, December 6, 2009
The Fetish of the Health Care Product

To: Truthout
Re: Health Care Should be driven by Mission / Phillip Casper MD,
___describing the corporatization-for-profit of health care in the U.S.

Although Dr. Casper falls into the prevailing habit of describing phenomena in their moral aspect, he is not romanticising anything. At bottom, he is simply describing the effects of what Marx called the Fetish of the Commodity -- i.e., the way in which the capitalist exchange system perpetuates itself by becoming a mental fetish.

Not only do people (including Obama) believe a whole bunch of ridiculous mantras -- such as the "magic of the market place" and the like -- they actually see the world as a matrix of for- profit exchanges and they actually believe that this perception emanates from an unalterable objective reality. Last but not least they believe that this system -- the object of their beholding -- is capable of producing goodness and joy.

The Catholic theologian Von Balthasar went deeper and attributed our moral dysfunctionality to the ruthless reductionism of Cartesian thought, which his mentor, Pope Benedict has written produces pathologies of thought which end up being both unscientific and immoral.

Alas the American mind (such as it is) is incapable of grasping anything larger than a pea. It thinks it can "fix" health care "within the system" without revolutionizing the system of which the broken health care "product" is a manifestation. This atomization of thought produces little more than political heteronomy in which everyone chases willy-nilly after his or her object of desire and personal-validation issue without grasping or dealing with the whole.

By the time the country figures anything out it will be far too late. The US has become a colossal, obnoxious, boring failure. The sooner it self-destructs (which it is doing) the better for all concerned.

from this guy's blog

Friday, June 11, 2010

thanks for keeping the fire going...

I've been going crazy in kim world. these two weeks are full of high school summer music camp, college rock history, negotiating a better job at the latter gig, getting ready for a major theatre show week after next and personal daily swim/stop eating marathon.

and, frankly, I've been so addicted to Facebook many of my on-line hours have been spent there.

but I'll try to be a better blogger. really nice public awareness stuff here. I always adore Noam. he thinks like I do only he says it a LOT better than I do and has the international stage. every time I hear him or read his work I bemoan the fact most people Arent listening and seeing through the pristine prism he uses to grasp the truth. I literally believe Everything he says cause it just makes too much sense to believe otherwise.

Noam says it, I believe it, that settles it!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wikileaks Soldiers Apologize And Call For Dialogue On Iraq War

Just read this:

Editor's Note: The WikiLeaks "Collateral Murder" video shook an apathetic and misled public awake with images of civilian killing in the chaotic streets of Baghdad in July 2007. US forces wounded two small children and killed over a dozen people including members of the media. Two soldiers from the company involved in the shooting incident have written a letter of reconciliation and apology to the people affected by the incident, which is published below. -Matt Renner.

An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People: From Current and Former Members of the US Military
Peace be with you,
To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the "Collateral Murder" Wikileaks video:
We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.
We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.
There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize what we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.
We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.
We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of "god and country". The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn't have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.
More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.
Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the values of our nation's leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won't lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation's importance pales in comparison to our common humanity.
We have asked our fellow veterans and service-members, as well as civilians both in the United States and abroad, to sign in support of this letter, and to offer their names as a testimony to our common humanity, to distance ourselves from the destructive policies of our nation's leaders, and to extend our hands to you.
With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask. Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.
Solemnly and Sincerely,
Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army

Defense Companies Sap Taxpayers, Spread Culture Of Death

Ladies and Gentlemen, the inimitable Noam Chomsky (not the most electrifying speaker in the world by a long shot, but a smart and articulate elder and scholar well worth respecting and listening to.

Thanks to MrInformationMan;

"Chomsky launches a savage, two-pronged assault on national economic policies and efforts at global domination.By now the stakes are so high that issues of survival arise, says Chomsky.

The basic principle underlying our current economy is to make rich people happy and make everybody else frightened. Chomsky lays particular blame for this doctrine on Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan-- Saint Alan-- who claims the economy is working well because of private entrepreneurial initiative and expanding consumer choice. Chomsky disagrees. He claims that in the last 30 years, it has been public spending on such technologies as computers, satellites, the Internet and lasers that has fed the economy. And the wealth derived from these technologies has gone primarily into the hands of corporate masters, who represent a fraction of the American people. The government has used a succession of bogeymen—the Soviets, Communist insurgents around the world, and now global terrorism—to scare taxpayers into supporting core defense programs whose technologies ultimately spin off into private hands. The current administration advocates not merely controlling space, but owning it, with a new missile-based system and satellite-guided unmanned drones. This expensive strategy, combined with the doctrine of striking first at perceived enemies, may well bring global calamity."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes In The Gulf

One commenter wrote:

"If anyone thinks the oil industry actually cares about the environment, they are a fool. The drunken greed for monopoly and power is the very reason all the "new" technology never came to be these last 40 years. Promoting societies addiction to fossil fuel was intentional. This article pulls back the covers and exposes the true intentions of this evil industry. This is not an accident, this is a clear example of willful negligence that 'allowed' something so horrific to happen, that it should fully illustrate the insanity that is going to destroy us. If we destroy our oceans, we are DONE!!!!!!!And since we do have options (but if we don't get our act together now, we wont) this whole offshore drilling issue should be dead in the water, for good! We have a big and complex problem that has only one answer, we have to get serious about alternative energy and maximizing every drop of oil we currently use, and at the same time, we have to require strict responsible standards for the industries presently in place. Because on-shore practices in other parts of the world by these same companies would make you extremely sick when you see what happens when operations are allowed to happen without any responsible standards. And you thought this was bad?"

I like this article so much, I'm going to re-print it here, in its entirety. Jason Leopold is very cool.

A former contractor who worked for BP claims the oil conglomerate broke federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, according to internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout.
The whistleblower, whose name has been withheld at the person's request because the whistleblower still works in the oil industry and fears retaliation, first raised concerns about safety issues related to BP Atlantis, the world's largest and deepest semi-submersible oil and natural gas platform, located about 200 miles south of New Orleans, in November 2008. Atlantis, which began production in October 2007, has the capacity to produce about 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
It was then that the whistleblower, who was hired to oversee the company's databases that housed documents related to its Atlantis project, discovered that the drilling platform had been operating without a majority of the engineer-approved documents it needed to run safely, leaving the platform vulnerable to a catastrophic disaster that would far surpass the massive oil spill that began last week following a deadly explosion on a BP-operated drilling rig.
BP's own internal communications show that company officials were made aware of the issue and feared that the document shortfalls related to Atlantis "could lead to catastrophic operator error" and must be addressed.
Indeed, according to an August 15, 2008, email sent to BP officials by Barry Duff, a member of BP's Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Atlantis Subsea Team, the Piping and Instrument Diagrams (P&IDs) for the Atlantis subsea components "are not complete" and "there are hundreds if not thousands of subsea documents that have never been finalized, yet the facilities have been" up and running. P&IDs documents form the foundation of a hazards analysis BP is required to undertake as part of its Safety and Environmental Management Program related to its offshore drilling operations. P&IDs drawings provide the schematic details of the project's piping and process flows, valves and safety critical instrumentation.
"The risk in turning over drawings that are not complete are: 1) The Operator will assume the drawings are accurate and up to date," said Duff's email to BP officials Bill Naseman and William Broman, the existence of which was revealed three days ago, but is being detailed here for the first time. "This could lead to catastrophic Operator errors due to their assuming the drawing is correct. Turning over incomplete drawings to the Operator for their use is a fundamental violation of basic Document control, [internal standards] and Process Safety Regulations."
BP did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. Despite the claims that BP did not maintain proper documentation related to Atlantis, federal regulators authorized an expansion of the drilling project.
Last May, Mike Sawyer, a Texas-based engineer who works for Apex Safety Consultants, voluntarily agreed to evaluate BP's Atlantis subsea document database and the whistleblower's allegations regarding BP's engineering document shortfall related to Atlantis. Sawyer concluded that of the 2,108 P&IDs BP maintained that dealt specifically with the subsea components of its Atlantis production project, 85 percent did not receive engineer approval.
Even worse, 95 percent of Atlantis' subsea welding records did not receive final approval, calling into question the integrity of thousands of crucial welds on subsea components that, if they were to rupture, could result in an oil spill 30 times worse than the one that occurred after the explosion on Deepwater Horizon last week.
In a report Sawyer prepared after his review, he said BP's "widespread pattern of unapproved design, testing and inspection documentation on the Atlantis subsea project creates a risk of a catastrophic incident threatening the [Gulf of Mexico] deep-water environment and the safety of platform workers." Moreover, "the extent of documentation discrepancies creates a substantial risk that a catastrophic event could occur at any time."
"The absence of a complete set of final, up-to-date, 'as built' engineering documents, including appropriate engineering approval, introduces substantial risk of large scale damage to the deep water [Gulf of Mexico] environment and harm to workers, primarily because analyses and inspections based on unverified design documents cannot accurately assess risk or suitability for service," Sawyer's report said. He added, "there is no valid engineering justification for these violations and short cuts."
Sawyer explained that the documents in question - welding records, inspections and safety shutdown logic materials - are "extremely critical to the safe operation of the platform and its subsea components." He said the safety shutdown logic drawings on Atlantis, a complex computerized system that, during emergencies, is supposed to send a signal to automatically shut down the flow of oil, were listed as "requiring update."
"BP's recklessness in regards to the Atlantis project is a clear example of how the company has a pattern of failing to comply with minimum industry standards for worker and environmental safety," Sawyer said.
The oil spill blanketing roughly 4,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed eleven workers, was exacerbated, preliminary reports suggest, by the failure of a blowout preventer to shut off the flow of oil on the drilling rig and the lack of a backup safety measure, known as a remote control acoustic shut off switch, to operate the blowout preventer.
Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter Thursday to BP Chairman and President Lamar McKay seeking documents related to inspections on Deepwater Horizon conducted this year and BP's policy on using acoustic shut off switches in the Gulf of Mexico.
The circumstances behind the spill are now the subject of a federal investigation.
Profits Before Safety
Whether it's the multiple oil spills that emanated from BP's Prudhoe Bay operations in Alaska's North Slope or the March 2005 explosion at the company's Texas refinery that killed 15 employees and injured 170 people, BP has consistently put profits ahead of safety.
On October 25, 2007, BP pled guilty to a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act and paid a $20 million fine related to two separate oil spills that occurred in the North Slope in March and August of 2006, the result of a severely corroded pipeline and a safety valve failure. BP formally entered a guilty plea in federal court on November 29, 2007. US District Court Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced BP to three years probation and said oil spills were a "serious crime" that could have been prevented if BP had spent more time and funds investing in pipeline upgrades and a "little less emphasis on profit."
Also on October 25, 2007, BP paid a $50 million fine and pleaded guilty to a felony in the refinery explosion. An investigation into the incident concluded that a warning system was not working and that BP sidestepped its own internal regulations for operating the tower. Moreover, BP has a prior felony conviction for improperly disposing of hazardous waste.
In 2007, the Department of Interior's federal Minerals Management Services (MMS), the agency that monitors offshore drilling practices, fined BP $41,000 for not properly training employees in well control management related to a near blowout due to a rise in gass pressure on the Ocean King Rig five years earlier that forced the evacuation of all 65 workers for two days and halted drilling for a week.
According to MMS, Diamond Offshore Drilling, operator of the rig, and BP did not know that the critical safety procedures they employed to try and stop the increase in gas pressure on the Ocean King Rig could also have caused a blowout.
"Operator failed to verify employees were trained to competently perform the assigned well control duties," MMS said. "Additionally, they failed to have a remote-controlled station that could operate the valves in the flow and vent lines of the diverter. These violations contributed to a loss of well control event on November 14, 2002. There was no pollution or injuries."
MMS also cited BP and contract workers in the incident for what they said was a 'lack of knowledge of the system, and lack of pre-event planning and procedures."
Additionally, MMS fined BP $25,000 in February 2004 for another incident that took place a year earlier on the Diamond Offshore drilling rig. MMS said "the rig's Gas Detection System was bypassed with ongoing drilling operations being conducted."
In July 2004, BP was fined $190,000 by MMS due to a fire that occurred two years earlier "involving the as-built diverter system [on another rig] leading to damage to property and the environment."
"The diverter system was not installed as in the approved plan, had inadequate supports, added right angle turns at the ends, and did not provide for downwind diversions," MMS said.
In 2003, MMS fined BP $70,000, this time due to inadequate water pressure on the fire protection system on one rig. BP racked up a separate $80,000 fine that year as well for "bypassed relays for the pressure safety... for four producing wells."
That's similar to "what caused the near-blowout in 2002," according to environmental publication Clean Skies.
And the list goes on.
BP was also fined $25,000 in 2003 by MMS because a drilling rig operator "failed to conduct crane dismantling and removal operations in a safe and workmanlike manner, resulting in the crane falling into the Gulf of Mexico. Accident occurred due to failure to follow the procedures established in the Job Safety Analysis (JSA)."
Finally, BP was fined $20,000 by MMS the same year because a "surface-controlled subsurface safety valve...was blocked out of service."
The incident involving Deepwater Horizon, now the subject of a federal investigation, may end up being the latest example of BP's safety practices run amuck.
The issues related to the repeated spills in Prudhoe Bay and elsewhere were revealed by more than 100 whistleblowers who, since as far back as 1999, said the company failed to take seriously their warnings about shoddy safety practices and instead retaliated against whistleblowers who registered complaints with superiors.
In September 2006, days before BP executives were scheduled to testify before Congress about an oil spill from a ruptured pipeline that forced the company to shutdown its Prudhoe Bay operations, BP announced that it had tapped former federal Judge Stanley Sporkin to serve as an ombudsman and take complaints from employees about the company's operations.
That's who the whistleblower complained to via email about issues related to BP's Atlantis operations in March 2009 a month after his contract was abruptly terminated for reasons he believes were directly related to his complaints to management about BP's failure to obtain the engineering documents on Atlantis and the fact that he "stood up for a female employee who was being discriminated against and harassed." The whistleblower alleged that the $2 million price tag was the primary reason BP did not follow through with a plan formulated months earlier to secure the documents.
"We prepared a plan to remedy this situation but it met much resistance and complaints from the above lead engineers on the project," the whistleblower wrote in the March 4, 2009, email to Pasha Eatedali in BP's ombudsman's office.
Federal Intervention
Additionally, he hired an attorney and contacted the inspector general for the Department of the Interior and MMS and told officials there that BP lacked the required engineer-certified documents related to the major components of the Atlantis subsea gas and oil operation.
In 2007, MMS had approved the construction of an additional well and another drilling center on Atlantis. But the whistleblower alleged in his March 4, 2009, email to Eatedali in BP's Office of the Ombudsman that documents related to this project needed to ensure operational safety were missing and that amounted to a violation of federal law as well as a breach of BP's Atlantis Project Execution Plan. The ombudsman's office agreed to investigate.
MMS, acting on the whistleblower's complaints, contacted BP on June 30, 2009, seeking specific engineering related documents. BP complied with the request three weeks later.
On July 9, 2009, MMS requested that BP turn over certification documents for its Subsurface Safety Valves and Surface Controlled Subsea Safety Valves for all operational wells in the Atlantis field. MMS officials flew out to the platform on the same day and secured the documents, according to an internal letter written by Karen Westall, the managing attorney on BP's Gulf of Mexico Legal Team.
But according to the public advocacy group Food & Water Watch, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, which became involved in the case last July, BP did not turn over a complete set of materials to MMS.
"BP only turned over 'as-built' drawings for [Atlantis'] topsides and hull, despite the fact that the whistleblower’s allegations have always been about whether BP maintains complete and accurate engineer approved documents for it subsea components," Food & Water Watch said in a 19-page letter it sent to William Hauser, MMS’s Chief, Regulations and Standards Branch.
During two visits to the Atlantis drilling platform last August and September, MMS inspectors reviewed BP's blowout preventer records. Food & Water Watch said they believe MMS inspectors reviewed the test records and failed to look into the whistleblower's charges that engineering documents were missing. The blowout preventer, however, is an issue at the center of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
An MMS spokesperson did not return calls for comment. MMS does not have clean hands when it comes to its oversight role. The agency was embroiled in a scandal when a 2008 report by the Interior Department's inspector general found that regulators "had inappropriate relationships with industry that could compromise their objectiveity." Those relationships were sexual and also included sharing drugs, such as cocaine, with industry personnel.
Last October, Food & Water Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for expedited processing, seeking documents from MMS that indicate BP "has in its possession a complete and accurate set of 'as built' drawings ... for its entire Atlantis Project, including the subsea sector." "As-built" means lead engineers on a specific project have to make sure updated technical documents match the "as-built" condition of equipment before its used.
MMS denied the FOIA request.
"MMS does not agree with your assessment of the potential for imminent danger to individuals or the environment, for which you premise your argument [for expedited response]. After a thorough review of these allegations, the MMS, with concurrence of the Solicitor's Office, concludes your claims are not supported by the facts or the law," the agency said in its October 30, 2009, response letter.
In response, MMS said that although some of its regulatory requirements governing offshore oil and gas operations do require "as built" drawings, they need not be complete or accurate and, furthermore, are irrelevant to a hazard analysis BP was required to complete.
Unsatisfied with MMS's response, Food & Water Watch contacted Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), a member of the Committee on Natural Resources and chairman of the subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, about the issues revolving around BP's Atlantis operations and provided his office with details of its own investigation into the matter.
"Unsubstantiated" Claims
On January 15, Westall, the BP attorney, wrote a letter to Deborah Lanzone, the staff director with the House Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals, and addressed the allegations leveled by Food & Water Watch as well as indirect claims the whistleblower made.
Westall said BP "reviewed the allegations" related to "noncompliant documentation of the Atlantis project ... and found them to be unsubstantiated." But Westall's response directly contradicts the findings of Billie Pirner Garde, BP's deputy ombudsman, who wrote in an April 13 email to the whistleblower that his claims that BP failed to maintain proper documentation related to Atlantis "were substantiated" and "addressed by a BP Management of Change document." Garde did not say when that change occurred. But he added that the whistleblower's complaints weren't "unique" and had been raised by other employees "before you worked there, while you were there and after you left."
Westall noted in her letter that "all eight BP-operated Gulf of Mexico production facilities" received safety awards from MMS in 2009.
"Maintenance and general housekeeping were rated outstanding and personnel were most cooperative in assisting in the inspection activities," MMS said about BP's Gulf of Mexico drilling facilities. "Platform records were readily available for review and maintained to reflect current conditions."
Westall maintained that the whistleblower as well as Food & Water Watch had it all wrong. Their charges about missing documents has nothing to do with Atlantis' operational safety. Rather, Westall seemed to characterize their complaints as a clerical issue.
"The Atlantis project is a complex project with multiple phases," Westall said in her letter to Lanzone. "The [August 15, 2008] e-mail [written by Barry Duff, a member of the Atlantis subsea team] which was provided to you to support [Food & Water Watch's] allegations relates to the status of efforts to utilize a particular document management system to house and maintain the Atlantis documents. The document database includes engineering drawings for future phases, as well as components or systems which may have been modified, replaced, or not used."
But Representative Grijalva was not swayed by Westall's denials. He continued to press the issue with MMS, and in February, he and 18 other lawmakers signed a letter calling on MMS to probe whether BP "is operating its Atlantis offshore oil platform ... without professionally approved safety documents."
Grijalva said MMS has not "done enough so far to ensure worker and environmental safety at the site, in part because it has interpreted the relevant laws too loosely."
"[C]ommunications between MMS and congressional staff have suggested that while the company by law must maintain 'as-built' documents, there is no requirement that such documents be complete or accurate," the letter said. "This statement, if an accurate interpretation of MMS authorities, raises serious concerns" and requires "a thorough review at the agency level, the legal level and the corporate level. The world's largest oil rig cannot continue to operate without safety documentation. The situation is unacceptable and deserves immediate scrutiny.
"We also request that MMS describe how a regulation that requires offshore operators to maintain certain engineering documents, but does not require that those documents be complete or accurate, is appropriately protective of human health and the environment."
On March 26, MMS launched a formal investigation and is expected to file a report detailing its findings next month.
Zach Corrigan, a senior attorney with Food & Water Watch, said in an interview Thursday that he hopes MMS "will perform a real investigation" and if the agency fails to do so, Congress should immediately hold oversight hearings "and ensure that the explosion and mishap of the Horizon platform is not replicated."
"MMS didn't act on this for nearly a year," Corrigan said. "They seemed to think it wasn't a regulatory or an important safety issue. Atlantis is a real vulnerability."
Editor's note: On Monday, May 17, BP issued a statement revolving around claims the whistleblower had made regarding Atlantis. The whistleblower, Kenneth Abbott, revealed his identity on 60 Minutes Sunday and recounted many of the allegations about Atlantis covered in this story.
BP said in a statement Monday in response to Abbott's claims:
BP today rebutted allegations that its Atlantis platform in the Gulf of Mexico operated with incomplete and inaccurate engineering documents.
Responding to claims that flawed or missing documentation posed a threat to safe operation of the platform, recently made in various news programs and print media, BP said it had thoroughly investigated these claims when they were first made by a former contract worker in 2009 and found them to be without substance.
The investigation found that the operators on the platform had full access to the accurate, up-to-date drawings (topsides, hull and subsea) necessary to operate the platform safely.
A second investigation of the same allegations by the Ombudsman’s office focused on project document and filing procedures and had no bearing on operating or regulatory issues. After this review BP made some procedural changes in the project execution plan, but these likewise had no connection with the safe operation of the platform.
“As CEO Tony Hayward constantly makes clear, safe and reliable operations are his number 1 priority for BP and the company has a very strong record of safe and reliable operations in the Gulf of Mexico,” a company spokesman said. “It is completely erroneous to suggest that the minor internal process issue we identified and immediately amended last year on the Atlantis platform suggests anything different.”
The design, construction, installation and operation of Atlantis have received a high level of oversight by both the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the US Coast Guard. BP has and will continue to work with the MMS or any other regulator when concerns are raised about any aspect of our operation.
The Atlantis field has been in service since October 2007 and has safely produced many million barrels of oil. The platform was successfully maintained through the course of two major hurricanes in 2008. Its safety, operations and performance record is excellent.

*This story has been updated and reposted since it was first published April 27 to reflect information obtained from MMS.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Michael C. Ruppert

Bush Administration Foreknowledge of 9/11?

The documented pre-Sept. 11 insider trading that occurred before the attacks involved only companies hit hard by the attacks. They include United Airlines, American Airlines, Morgan Stanley, Merrill-Lynch, Axa Reinsurance, Marsh & McLennan, Munich Reinsurance, Swiss Reinsurance, and Citigroup.

In order to argue that the massive and well-documented insider trading that occurred in at least seven countries immediately before the attacks of Sept. 11 did not serve as a warning to intelligence agencies, then it is necessary to argue that no one was aware of the trades as they were occurring, and that intelligence and law enforcement agencies of most industrialized nations do not monitor stock trades in real time to warn of impending attacks. Both assertions are false. Both assertions would also ignore the fact that the current executive vice president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for enforcement is David Doherty, a retired CIA general counsel. And also ignored is the fact that the trading in United Airlines stock -- one of the most glaring clues -- was placed through the firm Deutschebank/Alex Brown, which was headed until 1998 by the man who is now the executive director of the CIA, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard.

One wonders if it was a coincidence then, that Mayo Shattuck III, the head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutschebank -- which had its offices in the WTC -- suddenly resigned from a $30 million, three-year contract on Sept. 12, as reported by the New York Times and other papers.

The American exchanges that handle these trades, primarily the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) and the NYSE, know on a daily basis what levels of put options are purchased. "Put options" are highly leveraged bets, tying up blocks of stock, that a given stock's share price will fall dramatically. To quote 60 Minutes from Sept. 19, "Sources tell CBS News that the afternoon before the attack, alarm bells were sounding over unusual trading in the U.S. stock options market."
It is hard to believe that they missed:

- A jump in UAL put options 90 times (not 90 percent) above normal between Sept. 6 and Sept.10, and 285 times higher than average on the Thursday before the attack. [CBS News, Sept. 26]

- A jump in American Airlines put options 60 times (not 60 percent) above normal on the day before the attacks. [CBS News, Sept. 26]

- No similar trading occurred on any other airlines. [Bloomberg Business Report, the Institute for Counterterrorism (ICT), Herzliyya, Israel citing data from the CBOE]

..."tell me that one again about how the 19 goatherders outsmarted NATO?" (anonymous comment)

Rachel Corrie

The investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who stood up to bulldozers razing Palestinian homes, who was bulldozed.

She was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket.

from wikipedia:

Joe Carr, an American ISM activist who used the assumed name of Joseph Smith during his time in Gaza, gave the following account in an affidavit recorded and published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR):

Still wearing her fluorescent jacket, she knelt down at least 15 meters in front of the bulldozer, and began waving her arms and shouting, just as activists had successfully done dozens of times that day... When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer... Her head and upper torso were above the bulldozer’s blade, and the bulldozer driver and co-operator could clearly see her. Despite this, the driver continued forward, which caused her to fall back, out of view of the diver. [sic] He continued forward, and she tried to scoot back, but was quickly pulled underneath the bulldozer. We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted; one activist with the megaphone. But the bulldozer driver continued forward, until Rachel was all the way underneath the central section of the bulldozer.[24]

On March 18, 2003, only two days after Corrie's death, Joe (Smith) Carr was interviewed by British Channel 4 and The Observer reporter Sandra Jordan for a documentary that was aired June 2003 on Channel 4 titled The Killing Zone.

"It was either a really gross mistake or a really brutal murder"[25]

According to the Seattle Times, "Smith, who witnessed Sunday's incident, said it began when Corrie sat down in front of the bulldozer. He said the driver scooped her up with a pile of earth, dumped her on the ground and ran over her twice."[26]

Smith also observed:

"We were horribly surprised. They had been careful not to hurt us. They'd always stopped before."[18]

British ISM activist Tom Dale, who was standing yards away from Corrie, told journalist Joshua Hammer, Jerusalem bureau chief for Newsweek:

The bulldozer built up earth in front of it... She tried to climb on top of the earth, to avoid being overwhelmed. She climbed to the point where her shoulders were above the top lip of the blade. She was standing on this pile of earth. As the bulldozer continued, she lost her footing, and she turned and fell down this pile of earth. Then it seemed like she got her foot caught under the blade. She was helpless, pushed prostrate, and looked absolutely panicked, with her arms out, and the earth was piling itself over her. The bulldozer continued so that the place where she fell down was directly beneath the cockpit... The whole [incident] took place in about six or seven seconds.[5]

An individual giving the name Richard, who stated that he witnessed Corrie's death, as recorded by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

There's no way he didn't see her, since she was practically looking into the cabin. At one stage, he turned around toward the building. The bulldozer kept moving, and she slipped and fell off the plow. But the bulldozer kept moving, the shovel above her. I guess it was about 10 or 15 meters that it dragged her and for some reason didn't stop. We shouted like crazy to the driver through loudspeakers that he should stop, but he just kept going and didn't lift the shovel. Then it stopped and backed up. We ran to Rachel. She was still breathing.[27]

British ISM activist Richard Purssell gave the following account, in an affidavit made in a manner similar to Carr's:

As the bulldozer reached the place where Rachel was standing, she began as many of us did on the day to climb the pile of earth. She reached the top and at this point she must have been clearly visible to the driver, especially as she was still wearing the high visibility jacket ["orange fluorescent... with reflective strips"]. She turned and faced in my direction and began to come back down the pile. The bulldozer continued to move forward at [5-6 mph]. As her feet hit the ground I saw a panicked expression on her face... The pile of earth engulfed her and she was hidden from my view.[24]

Advance Warning Of 9/11?

The Strange Case of Delmart Vreeland

Ain't it funny how I never heard of this guy before today?

Either he's a crackpot's crackpot, or it's a major fucking story. What say you?

Unpopular Questions Department

Hedy Epstein on a question I have wondered about: What were the aftereffects of the Holocaust? Is it possible that Israel is perpetrating oppression against Palestinians?

Hedy Epstein: They tried to intimidate me, to silence me, hoping I would never come back. Though momentarily they may have succeeded, ultimately they did not. To quote General McArthur, an American army general, who said "I shall return", I have returned four times since the January 2004, event at the Tel Aviv airport, on my way back from Israeli occupied territory, and will continue to return. They will not be able to stop me. And, so, I plan to aboard ship to Gaza in a few months.

Silvia Cattori: Was it not too traumatic for a sensitive person like you to go back to the West Bank and see the Isreali soldiers humiliating, threatening, killing, and destroying Palestinians lives and properties?

Hedy Epstein: As an American I am a privileged person. I am very much aware of this and feel uncomfortable wearing this cloak, especially when I am in Palestine, conscious of the fact that I can come and go any time I want to, a privilege denied the Palestinians, who have great difficulty in moving from one place to another, restricted by road blocks, check points, the imprisoning 25 foot high wall, by young Israeli soldiers who can decide who can pass and who cannot, who can go to school, to the hospital, to work, to visit family and friends.

I have seen the long lines of Palestinians at the Bethlehem checkpoint. I spoke to a 41 year old man, who told me he works three days a week; in order to get to work on time, he gets up at 2:30 A.M. and arrives at the checkpoint at 3:15 A.M. to wait in line, a long line, with others, for the checkpoint to open around 5:30 A.M. He has to come this early because many people line up. Sometimes the Israeli soldiers allow no one to go through. He would like to work full time, but there are no jobs in Bethlehem.

During each of my five visits I have spent some time in Jerusalem. I have been painfully aware how increasingly its current size and boundaries share very little with the city's historic parameters, Israeli only settlements, such as Har Homa and Gilo are referred to as Jerusalem neighbourhoods. East Jerusalem is dotted with Israeli flags flying from homes from which Palestinians were "removed," thus judaizing the area more and more.

During my last visit, in August 2007, I only had time for a brief visit with my dear Palestinian friend, and her husband in Ramallah. During prior visits, I and some of my American travel companions were their houseguests for several days, basking in their hospitality, typical Palestinian hospitality, which is unlike any other I have ever experienced anywhere. The wife, ever cheerful in the past, seemed downcast, though she did not complain, simply stating "Life is more difficult since my husband is no longer working." In a conversation later, alone with her husband, he stated that he left his job in order to go to school and study. There is truth in both statements, but the husband's comments reflect an effort to salvage and maintain some of his dignity.

I also visited and stayed overnight with my Palestinians friends and their children in Bethlehem. The TV, which is always on, at one point caught our attention. There was a story about Jews from all over the world, immigrating to Israel. There were many small Israeli flags waving and welcoming the new citizens of Israel arriving at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. A big banner in the background spelled out in English and Hebrew "Welcome Home".

As the story continued, we all stared at the TV, silently. Then one of us, I don't remember who, broke the heavy silence, asking no one in particular "What about the return of the Palestinians?"

At the regular weekly non-violent demonstration in Bi'lin, as the teargas tossed at us by young Israeli soldiers, choking us, as we all ran to get away from it, I overheard a conversation between two Palestinian boys, one saying to the other "I don't want to die" "Nor do I" said the other. Their fear has stayed with me. What will happen to them? What is their future?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Liberal Vs. Conservative

I have a cool internet friend. We met randomly and started talking to each other. We email almost every day and sometimes talk on the phone. We both like to write, and devote time to it. She lives in Pennsylvania, one state over from my early-years stomping grounds in northeastern Ohio. Attitudes are very conservative there, and her ideas on things are pretty enlightened for that part of the country. She's able to think for herself without apology which is one of the reasons I like her. She also is a good communicator.

Anyway, here's part of a letter I wrote to her. Someone was saying how NPR is "liberal" and she overheard it. I found that to be a laugh.

Don't get me wrong, I think NPR still does some of the best reporting around. The problem is that they fall into line with everyone else on what topics are OK to report on. They'll give you facts, but maybe not the ones you need. For this reason I fell out of love with them (in addition to their solemn and momentous, *unquestioning* coverage of the Iraq war, one of the most evil things our country has perpetrated in the last decade).

So is NPR "liberal"? Ha. I guess I think anyone who thinks that is listening to what right-wing talk radio hosts say about NPR's politics. And you know how reliable those commercial talk radio guys are.

Anyway, here's my letter.

When it comes to political parties, ie dem/rep, they are all part of the same corrupt garbage. There are good people of both parties. However the deregulatory policies pushed by republicans have had a devastating effect on the economy. There has to be rule of law for both the powerful and the not so powerful.

If wanting rule of law for ALL citizens is liberal, than I'll accept the label there. Since Liberal is an epithet spoken by idiots, I generally welcome it anyway. I don't know how you manage over there in PA, it is a different universe from California, very very conservative.

If it's liberal to believe that the 1996 telecommunications act destroyed the already-tenuous local business of radio and TV, then I'm liberal. If it's liberal to believe NAFTA was a disaster, then I'm liberal. Al Gore was all for NAFTA and he was dead wrong. Perot was warning about the sucking sound of jobs going across borders and it has only gotten worse since then.

If it's liberal to believe in representative democracy, then I'm liberal. If it's liberal to believe what Thomas Jefferson said about how banks would destroy the economy if given the power, then I'm liberal.

This is what he said:

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Abraham Lincoln tried to restore issuing power to the people, and was shot. Kennedy tried the same thing and was shot. Coincidence? You can look that up if you want...or I will supply links. But what it shows is how damn easy it is to shoot a President. Obama is rightly scared from his mind. He is a good man, though an innocent one who's been engaged in losing that innocence these last two years. I would have voted for McCain if he'd stood up to the bailouts. Neither of them did. Which admitted to me how entrenched in the current, corrupt system they both are.

Who's running things? And what does it have to do with conservative or liberal?

People who believe the two parties stand for different things are kidding themselves. Our two-party system is thoroughly corrupt. There are a lot of people today who believe that the enemies of our country are people who differ on policy positions (liberals). This is a dangerous lie propogated by talk radio hosts and television personalities like Sean Hannity. The enemies of our country are those who would suppress the voice of the people, and I certainly count corporations, with their ill-gotten status and power, among the enemies. The enemy is systemic. It is ignorance. The real enemy is in each person, at the point where that person's mind closes down to new information. The real enemy is the point at which people begin to believe that violence and acrimony is the only source of power. This is power over others, rather than power in collaboration with others. These are two very different things.

Many conservatives I have known believe that the only real power is "over" others. And that everything is determined by who you have power over, or who has power over you. The idea of self-governance relies upon the value of collaborative, representative government. But this requires an informed populace, which we largely do not have.

I differ from most people I meet because I have an attitude they consider condescending. My attitude is that most people are badly misinformed.

I don't think I'm especially smart (otherwise I'd have figured out a lot more stuff at this point) but what I do have that I count as a value is my curiosity and open-mindedness. And I do look down on people who don't have those two things, because I think at the point where you limit your learning, you make life dangerous for everyone around you. I chose communications as my field, in part because I wanted to try to make sense of the world. I chose NPR because it was the best in the business (despite the fact that so many people genuinely don't even have it on their radar--including some people I consider friends). I spent eleven years saturated in NPR news all the livelong day, and not just when I was at work. I learned some stuff. If you quizzed me, I wouldn't be able to do very well. My brain cannot retain facts. However, if you watch for long enough, you can easily see the difference between commercial news reporting and NPR-style journalistic engagement. And continuing to watch as the internet makes information available, it's more starkly clear than ever that the vast majority of media is limited to a certain number of stories a day, news cycles following each other relentlessly, with extremely important stories, and viewpoints, being left out of the coverage. I have seen this for far too long to have any respect left at all for television news. I genuinely think people like Dan Abrams and whatshisname, Anderson Cooper, are highly-paid knuckleheads who are trained monkeys in their profession, which is talking on camera. They are far too steeped in the culture of mainstream TV to actually have any idea what's going on.

Both of those guys have infinitely more power and money than I do. They reach into people's minds and take up residence there because the news machine supports what they do. I, on the other hand, don't even have a radio audience anymore. That doesn't change the fact that I have no respect for them. They are part of the problem, and it's really that simple. Anyone who is not pushing the envelope, pushing against the establishment, is a part of what gives the establishment its ill-gotten power. Anyone who thinks journalism can happen without subversiveness is just on another planet entirely. And those guys certainly qualify. They'll color within the lines, and they'll genuinely believe that's OK. The old farts who run things and allow them to talk on camera and make all that money will continue to allow them to do it, as long as they don't try to cover issues not vetted (censored) by the suits.

The establishment MUST be relentlessly questioned. Otherwise, we live in an authoritarian society. In our society, those who question, today, are called "traitors" "truthers" or "tin-foil hat wearers." People are scared to be seen that way----so they don't speak up too loudly if their views are controversial. That is the opposite of democracy.

Closing one's mind around a subject and then allowing violence to happen around those beliefs *in any way* is unbearable to me, and I no longer can be around people who do this, like that man at the American Legion. I am a fully dedicated peacenik. Unfortunately, people are angry and hurting right now, and want to blame someone. The very people they should be blaming are still running things. It is not the poor we have to fear, but the rich and powerful.

Conservatives tend to believe we should venerate the rich and powerful because they must be smart, having figured out how to take a bunch of stuff for themselves. I can understand this inclination, but when they accept propoganda that tells them they have immigrants to fear, that they have to fear the least powerful elements in society, then these people become dangerous, their ignorance supports the corruption and ensures the establishment's continued power to break the law, not pay taxes, not follow regs, pollute, kill, gamble away hard-won pensions, etc.

The law in arizona is just the tip of the iceberg. There is real hatred of immigrants right now. It is boiling over on the internet. It frightens me, because it's a complete distraction from the real problem. The real problem is the new slave labor tradition in the marketplace. Who decides that? Not the slaves.


Friday, April 30, 2010

more from the Joe anti-Anderson thing below

"Trade is the road to peace. Commerce and business know no national boundaries. They link nations together on productivity, creating jobs and peace across the world."
It sounded good at the time. Who would have thought that the people enjoying all this harmony and peace brought about through globalization would be enjoying it in a one big happy planetary work gulag?

. . .

I like the way Joe thinks and certainly concur the talking puppet syndrome we live with. plus his thought above re: nafta, world trade, etc.. 15 years ago I would have likewise said "Global economy...cant stop it!" but that was before I realized the crushing potential of job and industry exportation. before I realized the depth to which huge companies would stoop to satisfy their greed. I really had No idea they how effortlessly they would screw their employees and how completely unimportant things like moral compass and humanity were.

I truly did not know enough about ego and business "savvy" and how it would betray EVerything America is supposed to stand for in the name of wealth and winning. Scum is far too generous a category for these guys. self esteem is nothing more than a fake rolex to these turd brains. not having to pick up a check for a $1000 lunch is enlightenment. Screwing the competition while causing hellish suffering on those who work for you because every penny in the budget is more important than Any given worker down the's too horrible the whole lot unthinkable.

but there it me me me...fuck you you you you and you. I win. I only wish I was a super hero with a cloaking costume I could spend everyday zooming around catching these guys in the act of making their demonic calls in the boardroom or in their limos and watch them die the slowest most painful deaths I could muster till their population numbers were reduced to a manageable few. I believe it emphatically...some people do Not deserve to live.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vengeance Against Gayness


in fact, when it comes to reasons for living, finding someone gone yet still logged on was one of the most joyful imaginable. I already liked you a lot and targeting you in such a scam was my way of showing you affectionate attention. I wanted to include you in my little joke in pure prankish fun.

I remember that evening very well...about 7...looking into Abby's darkened office and seeing she was still on yet I'd just said good bye to her. "gotcha!" seems like I was able to sting Karen and Chris, too. the rules were clear: if you left without logging off you were fair game. there was no assumption I had a chance of not getting "busted". the final revelation of what had happened was part of the game.

anyway, I'm sorry if that episode upset you. for me it was pure office shenanigans theatre of the absurd and that incident was a glorious victory in the genre.

as far as the rest of it, I never realized how sinister the adult rites were and how infected the place was till I was fired. countless times I said, "you have to kill someone to get fired here." which spoke of my overly optimistic feeling of family and belonging. how can you fire your eccentric goofy uncle? he means you no harm.

but the commercial virus had entrenched itself to fatal levels. they had become the enemy.

as you say it would Seem the kind hearted 'family' would protect itself against the virus of the few, would itself purge the poison in public radio. but no...they're too far gone.

and as far as the remnants of the family are concerned they know the loose fabric of commercial radio ethics. they know how radio gypsies move from one job to the next like migrant workers. they know administrators make inhuman decisions based on inhuman often power politics that have nothing to do with skill and heart. so the gypsies do what theyre told and avoid the ax till there's no other choice. they submit with the understanding of their own weakness.

it used to kill me that a radio great like glenn mitchell was under the thumb of relatively worthless administrators and their arbitrary hiding skirts of ratings and executive decisions. ludicrous, insanity, the opposite of justice and logic like some super athlete confining his/her movements to what the boss's son advises cause he plays a mean Madden '06.

and it keeps me off the radio horse. I'm not going back in there knowing what I know about the relationship between idiot management and the talents they squash as a daily matter of course.

A Lesbian Fling With Abby Goldstein

When email was young..

Early 1990's, I had just come to work at KERA 90.1, in Dallas, Texas. Out under that big southern sky, one radio station out of all of them was gentle on the ears, playing the salt of the earth and the wailing winds and the African blues and Jaco Pistorius and the ringing bells of the Roches' voices and wandering esoterica late at night, while the commercial stations blasted away with their big mixes and most music and the same fifty songs that get killed over and over again on the radio today, as they did then. One station had the Kronos Quartet, quiet between the voices, unpracticed jocks without scripted liners, and even some French bluegrass. A room wall-to-wall with vinyl, rattling sliding walls of compact discs, and decades-old carpet and equipment was the source of the sound. It was part of the shack that once stood where now the impressive public broadcasting cellblock houses sleek studios with blondwood floors.

Back in the days of the shack was when I came to work for One of A Kind,
KERA, 90.1; And it really was one of a kind. Everyone dutifully repeated those words, but they weren't really needed. KERA needed no slogans.

I found KERA because the "creatives" at the ad agency would blast it at full volume in the back room when Sam Phillips or Lyle Lovett played. It was the little radio station that commanded wide respect in the boring wilds of cosmo Dallas. When it was on, you had the feeling that while you were listening, others in the city were listening too, others you might want to meet or hang out with one day. The lame attempt at branding did not harm the coolness, and the station reminded any and all lonely artists that other artists were out there, creating; and they were creating outside of the primary colors and primary-school ideas that saturated other media.

That such a station existed was the end of the line for me. There was no more job search.

I ended up fired from the ad agency. I only had one friend there anyway, a guy named Jim Branstedder who had a cool loft downtown where we one night sat on the roof and looked at the city. He had the craggiest, most impossible face ever on a guy, and for that I liked him. His teeth were crooked, but he had a cute smile. He was the nicest one of all of them.

I worked on a letter to KERA's PD, Craig Allen. I drew a pencil rendering of my own hand in light, fine lines, and filled the edges with a soft bright yellow from an old colored pencil. Upon this I laid down black words with my electric typewriter explaining why I had to come work with ya'll. I know you had your issues with Allen (but I can barely remember why, except that it had to do with pointy-headed middle managementism) but he liked my letter and it hung up on his wall for some time.

He didn't mind that I also worked on Saturday nights deejaying at a commercial classic rock station. It was besides the point. Or maybe it wasn't.

Because I learned later that there was a push to sound more "commercial," which was actually what I was escaping from, when I came to KERA. I vaguely remember something about wanting to sound smooth and incorporate little slogans and stuff into the announcing. Whatever. I was a trained robot and took all that for granted. What was interesting to me was the music. KERA had no formal playlist.

It was one of the last stations in the country without one. Radio programmers had jumped into computer-generated song machines as if they were the absolute only possible way to pick music. Most people never knew their radios were being taken over by computers. Visions of disc jockeys a la' WKRP happily filled the heads of those whose listening was invisibly invaded by the grind of payola and perks and market research jerks. If at some point people began to realize that they were hearing the same songs over and over and over again, they never mentioned it. And who would they tell, anyway? Maybe they changed the channel to where a slightly different tightly-wound playlist circulated according to a different clock, wearing out the almost-invisible hairs on the inside of the inner ear that, when triggered, catch on something in the heart and cause an explosion of awareness and awe.

The unexpected was no longer to be found on our airwaves. The sensibilities were silently flattened and if life seemed a little more pedestrian and forlorn, who could blame a program director at a radio station? His boss said it wasn't about the music, it was about the money. And his boss was The boss. And so forth. And so the day the music died was more than just one day. It was decades of death to music, without a goodbye, without a drop of sentimentality.

The computer decided what songs went where. It was all done for you. The disc jockey didn't even man the turntables. He or she plugged in carts, like 8-tracks, and then pulled them out. They re-cued us the trouble..isn't that nice? Let the machines do what we once did. An artificial arm, a little less trouble, and they were set to fire off automatically, too.

So being a dj in the early 90's meant, first and foremost, you followed rules. Make your arm go back and forth. Make your arm go back and forth. All day long.

I came to KERA to get away from that.

But you guys didn't know that, either. So you were pretty surly to me for a while. I remember you even called me "conservative" once. I think it was because I had gone to Baylor and didn't wear birkenstocks. And we had that new computer installed in master control and we could type emails to each other on the in-house system. Remember MS DOS? That was my very first email account--the in-house account at KERA. And I'll never forget the email I got from Abby.

I hadn't been at the station all that long and had met everyone, thought everyone was cool, and was just discovering that though there was a computer-generated playlist, nobody used it. It was there to make the suits happy, but in actual fact each and every song got crossed off from where the computer put it, and the actually chosen song was hand-written and squeezed into the spaces that were left. The playlists were filed at the end of the day, dense with scribbles and doodles, and that was it. The software churned out dismal bloopers like the same artist and song every evening at 8pm several times a week. I was just discovering (from you, probably) that it didn't matter. As long as I played four of the new records an hour, the rest was up to me. My gig was to engineer Karen Dennard's talk show at 7 and put callers on the air, and then I had four great hours to play music for Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton.

The email was sort of shy, sly and sweet at the same time. It was a couple of paragraphs long and chatted about how nice it was to have met me and how she liked my show so far. I didn't know Abby well and thought she was funny. She was sitting in master control one day with her feet up on the console, sitting across from whoever was on the air. She had sneakers on with no socks. "I like those socks," someone said. "They're the same color as my underwear," she replied without a blink.

She said she liked the songs I was picking and thought the station sounded good with my show and would I like to get together and maybe have coffee sometime? I thought that was a nice, neighborly offer. Let's welcome the new kid in town. Maybe we could go for spinach enchiladas with sour-cream sauce down at the mex joint, near the ad agency over by the Crescent building. Or we could catch a show together sometime. She hoped it was OK to let me know that she really liked the way I dressed. However I picked out my clothes it somehow seemed to work.

OK, maybe she should just come right out and say it, and please don't be mad at her or feel awkward or whatever. It's just that she really thought I was cool and liked me so much and hoped it was OK if she took the direct approach: she was really attracted to me. Please don't get upset! This might not be the right thing to do, but she just had to let me know she had thought about kissing me already, and if I wasn't interested, pleaassse just tell her to shut up and she would go away. Could she get in trouble for writing this? Maybe, so please keep it to myself, she just felt I was a really special person and had to take a chance to tell me.

I printed out the email on the dot matrix printer, folded it, and tucked it into my purse, where it burned a hole all night. The letter came on a Friday evening and on Saturday I pulled it out again at home and examined it. She had included her phone number. She wanted me to call so we could have a conversation so things were less awkward, because I might feel weird after getting her email, so please, please call her so she could be sure I wasn't all freaked out, because it was NO big deal, she just liked me and thought we could be friends, or more.

My hand hovered over the phone. I picked it up, I put it down. I put the letter back in my purse. Later that afternoon, with the shadows growing longer and my boyfriend over at his parent's house watching golf, I took it out again. I put it on the table. I poured a glass of wine. I thought about joining my boyfriend and his parents and rejected it out of hand. I called Abby.

She seemed delighted to hear from me. I asked her how she was doing, what she was up to. Everything she said sounded like blah, blah, blah, to me. I was nervous. I cared more about how I sounded than what she was actually saying. Through layers of self-consciousness I realized she had asked me a question. "What email?"

"You know, the email," I said. "The one you wrote me."

"Did I send you an email?" she pondered.

Then she said, "Shit!"

And she said, "Read me the email!!"

And you, Kim Corbet, were busted.

"I left myself logged in at my desk the other night!!!" She told me. "I didn't write that love note. Kim Corbet wrote that love note, during the overnight, when he was wandering around and found my computer still logged in. That's how it looked like it came from me, son of a bitch. But look, it's all true. I still think you're really cool and all, but I'm not a lesbian."

"That's good, because I'm not either," I said. "But it's one of the nicest letters I ever got."