Day: June 10, 2010

DeMint: No, we didn’t ‘plant’ Alvin Greene

Dave Weigel – Washington Post

As Democratic Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) speculates that mysterious U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene might be a Republican “plant,” it’s worth noting that the man who’s set to defeat Greene fully denies any connection to this bizarre saga.

“No,” said Wesley Denton, a spokesman for DeMint. “It’s ridiculous even to suggest that.”

One theory coming out of Republicans right now — more a response to Clyburn than anything serious — is that Democrats, for all their bluster, might have gotten Greene into the race to give defeated candidate Vic Rawl a boost. In South Carolina, if a candidate has no opponent, he is not listed on the ballot. Even then, why this guy?

Why Kevin Costner spent $24 million of his own money to fight oil spills

 

Now I know why I like this guy so much! 

From  Field of Dreams  to 3000 Miles To Graceland to Swing Vote, KevinCostner has been one of my all time favorite actors. 

He has shown another side of him, which in my mind simply enhances my already positive view of his character.

Here’s why…

Mother Jones

Kevin Costner is definitely not an oil spill expert. Flanked by four seasoned marine scientists with doctoral degrees in the subject, he was the least likely member of a panel testifying to a House subcommittee about oil spill clean ups on Wednesday. He acknowledged as much in opening remarks. “There’s been some question as to why I’m here,” he said. “It’s not because I heard a voice in a cornfield.”

But over three hours of hearings Wednesday, Costner became the unlikely voice expressing the heart of an issue that has become very clear in the past 7 weeks. Neither oil companies nor the government were adequately prepared for a major oil spill. In fact, no one really believed that one would ever happen, and for years under-invested in and under-planned response technology.

Costner seems to have developed somewhat of an obsession with oil spill clean up. He got interested in the subject in 1995, and although he says he was inspired by the Exxon Valdez spill, some have pointed out that the interest also arose right around the time he released the post-apocalypse epic Waterworld. Since then, he’s spent $24 million funding Ocean Therapy Solutions, a company that has created a centrifuge device that separates oil from water.

“I have spent all my profits on oil spill clean up,” Costner told the panel. The amount of money he has personally spent becomes even more significant when you consider that an official from the Minerals Management Service told the panel yesterday that it only receives between $6 million and $7 million in government funding for the research and development of oil spill clean-up technology every year.

For more than a decade now, he’s presented the contraption to oil companies and government agencies, but his enthusiasm was “met with apathy,” he said. “I was told it was too expensive, that spills were becoming less frequent.”

The contraption is best described as a portable, vacuum-like metal unit that spins the oil out of the water. They have five different models, the largest of which can separate 210,000 gallons of water and oil per day. The company says it leaves the water 99 percent clean. BP has run several tests on the technology since the leak began, and approved it for use last month. Since then, BP has placed an order for 32 machines, the company reports, and ten machines are already out working in the Gulf. Ocean Therapy Solutions CEO John W. Houghtaling said he believes that when all these are in use, they will be able to clean 6 million gallons of water per day. (It’s not clear how much of a dent this could put in the spill, the total volume of which has not been determined. And since much of the oil has been dispersed into the Gulf using chemicals, it may be harder to do much with Costner’s contraption). The company envisions hundreds of these mobile units deployed around the world, ready for the next spill wherever it may occur.

Like many, I at first thought the idea of Kevin Costner as Gulf savior sounded absurd. But unlike BP or the federal government, he’s actually been thinking about this issue for the past 15 years. Meanwhile, the government’s response plans have remained essentially unchanged in the two decades since our last big oil spill. The two panels of independent scientists and government officials more than made that clear on Wednesday.

Costner, at least, may finally see his work validated after all these years: “If we’re going to continue to see oil coming up on shore and the best we can do is hay and rubber boots,” he told the committee, “maybe we can do better.”

Left-Wing Icon Daniel Ellsberg: ‘Obama Deceives the Public’

 

Thanks LTL for  sending me this article.  As I mentioned earlier:

What he says in that interview has a ring of truth to it.  Clinton was a disappoinment to progressives also.  I don’t think Obama purposely lied just to get in office.  However, once there, he had no choice but to go with the status quo of how Washington, lobbyists and corporations work.
 
I feel bad for Obama, because he really had lofty dreams of hope and change coming into the job as POTUS.  All he got was “nope” and “angst” from the haters and they are determined to see him defeated in 2012.

Spiegel Online 

Daniel Ellsberg, legendary leaker of the “Pentagon Papers” in 1971, still has a bone to pick with the White House. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the 79-year-old peace activist accuses President Obama of betraying his election promises — in Iraq, in Afghanistan and on civil liberties.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Ellsberg, you’re a hero and an icon of the left. But we hear you’re not too happy with President Obama anymore.

Daniel Ellsberg: I voted for him and I will probably vote for him again, as opposed to the Republicans. But I believe his administration in some key aspects is nothing other than the third term of the Bush administration.

 SPIEGEL ONLINE: How so?

Ellsberg: I think Obama is continuing the worst of the Bush administration in terms of civil liberties, violations of the constitution and the wars in the Middle East.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: For example?

Ellsberg: Take Obama’s explicit pledge in his State of the Union speech to remove “all” United States troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. That’s a total lie. I believe that’s totally false. I believe he knows that’s totally false. It won’t be done. I expect that the US will have, indefinitely, a residual force of at least 30,000 US troops in Iraq.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about Afghanistan? Isn’t that a justifiable war?

Ellsberg: I think that there’s an inexcusable escalation in both countries. Thousands of US officials know that bases and large numbers of troops will remain in Iraq and that troop levels and bases in Afghanistan will rise far above what Obama is now projecting. But Obama counts on them to keep their silence as he deceives the public on these devastating, costly, reckless ventures.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You doubt not only Obama’s missions abroad but also his politics back home in the US. Why exactly are you accusing the president of violating civil liberties?

Ellsberg: For instance, the Obama administration is criminalizing and prosecuting whistleblowers to punish them for uncovering scandals within the federal government …

SPIEGEL ONLINE: … Such as the arrest, confirmed this week, of an Army intelligence analyst for leaking the “Collateral Murder” video of a deadly US helicopter attack in Iraq, which was later posted online at WikiLeaks.

Ellsberg: Also, the recent US indictment of Thomas Drake.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Drake was a former senior official with the National Security Agency (NSA) who provided reporters with information about failures at the NSA.

Ellsberg: For Obama to indict and prosecute Drake now, for acts undertaken and investigated during the Bush administration, is to do precisely what Obama said he did not mean to do — “look backward.” Of all the blatantly criminal acts committed under Bush, warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, aggression, torture, Obama now prosecutes only the revelation of massive waste by the NSA, a socially useful act which the Bush administration itself investigated but did not choose to indict or prosecute!

Bush brought no indictments against whistleblowers, though he suspended Drake’s clearance. Obama, in this and other matters relating to secrecy and whistleblowing, is doing worse than Bush. His violation of civil liberties and the White House’s excessive use of the executive secrecy privilege is inexcusable.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why would Obama reverse himself?

Ellsberg: He’s a good politician. He said what he needed to say to get elected, and now he’s just taking advantage of the office. Like any administration before, his administration caters to the profits of big corporations like BP and Goldman Sachs — even though I think BP won’t get off that easily this time. His early campaign contributions, the big corporate contributions, came from Wall Street. They got their money’s worth.

In fact, during the campaign of 2008, three candidates were backed by Wall Street: Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. If you look at the rhetoric, the most promising was John Edwards. Too bad he turned out to be a jerk.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But Obama has been very verbal about his criticism of Wall Street.

Ellsberg: His actions are totally uncoupled from his public statements. I don’t even listen anymore. He has turned 180 degrees. Another example: His promise to filibuster a law giving the phone companies legal immunity for any role they played in the Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program. Then he not only voted not to filibuster it, he also voted for the law — against the wishes of his backers.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you think that will backfire for the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections?

Ellsberg: I don’t think what Obama is doing is the best way to get votes. But it’s the best way to get campaign contributions.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You were the ultimate whistleblower. In 1971, you leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, revealing that the government was well aware the Vietnam War couldn’t be won. You changed history but were vilified and prosecuted for it. Would you still do it today?

Ellsberg: I wouldn’t wait that long. I would get a scanner and put them on the Internet.

 SPIEGEL ONLINE: Would that still have the same impact?

Ellsberg: If the Pentagon Papers came online today all at once, the government wouldn’t be tempted to enjoin it. Back then, we got this long duel going between newspapers and the government. In the end, 19 newspapers ended up putting up parts of the documents, day after day after day. It created this ongoing scandal. I don’t think it would have the same impact online as having it in the Times

Gulf Oil Spill From Space: NASA Satellite Image Shows Extent Of Spill (PHOTO)

No matter how much BP executives lie about the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf, or if in fact there are oil plumes under the ocean the photos from NASA tell us the real deal.

Huffington Post

It’s difficult to fathom the size of the ongoing Gulf oil spill, but NASA can help put things in perspective thanks to this image captured by their MODIS Rapid Response System, which was “developed to provide near realtime imagery from the MODIS instrument for users who require an immediate view of a specific phenomenon from satellites.”

In other words, here’s what this mess looks like from space.

The image won’t tell you everything about the spill, of course. According to NASA:

Photo-like satellite images are not a perfect tool for detecting oil on the surface of water. Outside of the sunglint area (the part of the satellite image where the mirror-like reflection of the Sun is blurred into a wide, washed out strip by waves), the oil may be imperceptible against the dark background of the water. Scientists and disaster responders in the Gulf are combining photo-like satellite images and aircraft and shipboard observations with weather and ocean current models to predict the spread of oil.

Updated images are being added to NASA’s website twice daily. This one from Wednesday shows the slick off the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.