Monday, June 21, 2010




When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. This Halliburton-developed drilling technology has unlocked a "Saudi Arabia of natural gas" just beneath us...but is fracking safe? Can you imagine being able to light your tap water on fire? This is just one of the many shocking results Gasland demonstrates. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown. Fox encounters EPA whistleblowers, congressmen, world recognized scientists, and some of the most incredibly inspiring and heart-wrenching stories of ordinary Americans fighting against fossil fuel giants for environmental justice.

For more information go to GASLANDTHEMOVIE.COM




ROV films oil leak coming from rock cracks on seafloor.


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Circulate as Widely as Possible!
Historic Victory - Mass Picket Blocks Unloading of Israeli Ship

Today for the first time ever an Israeli ship was boycotted in a U.S. port. More than 800 spirited picketers gathered at 5:30 a.m. today, blocking four entrances to the Stevedore Services of America terminal in the Port of Oakland. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, citing safety concerns, refused to cross the picket lines. The ILWU has a long and great history of supporting progressive struggles here and around the world.

Protest Israel's Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla!
Boycott Israeli Ships and Goods!
Lift the Blockade NOW - Let Gaza Live!
Bring Down Israel's Apartheid Wall!

Unions, labor federations and other organizations around the world have condemned Israel's deadly attack against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, 2010. Nine people were killed and dozens seriously injured in the Israeli commando attack in international waters on ships attempting to bring humanitarian cargo to the suffering and blockaded people of Gaza. Six people aboard the ships are still missing and presumed dead.

Israel maintains a deadly blockade against 1.5 million people in Gaza, with claims ranging from the control of weapons to achieving demographic superiority in favor of Israel 's occupation. The construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank aims to create Jewish-only colonies on Palestinian territories. Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, rose to prominence calling for the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian people living in the borders of the Israeli green line.

Along with dock workers from Sweden and Norway, calls from Malaysia, and following previous actions from liberated South Africa, we will picket the arrival of Israel's Zim ship liner. In San Francisco in 1984, a picket line and refusal by dockworkers to unload a ship carrying South African cargo was a key event in mobilizing the anti-apartheid movement worldwide. We will be picketing the Zim ship and asking the workers to do the same with apartheid Israel.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All
Israeli apartheid must fall!

Labor / Community Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People:
Arab American Union Members Council, ANSWER- Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, Palestine Youth Network, US Palestine Community Network, Al Awda- Right to Return Coalition, Arab Youth Organization, MECA-Middle East Children's Alliance, SJP-Students for Justice in Palestine, AROC-Arab Resource and Organizing Center, ISM-International Solidarity Movement, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, International Socialist Organization, Peace and Freedom Party - SF, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, Bay Area US Labor Against the War, Bay Area Committee for Peace and Justice, Barrio Unido, Movement for Unconditional Amnesty for All Immigrant Workers, National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupation, Friends of Deir Ibzi'a, Socialist Viewpoint, FMLN in Northern California, San Jose Justice for Palestinians, Code Pink - SF, World Can't Wait - SF, International Action Center, Uhuru Solidarity Movement, Skyline Against Cuts, Industrial Workers of the World -SF, Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee, QUIT!- Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, Fred Hirsch, Executive Board Member of Plumbers & Fitters Local 393, Delegate to the south Bay AFL -CIO Labor Council, and many labor activists in the Bay Area

Updates on the actions:

Legal Hotline: 415-285-1011
For questions: 415-821-6545


United National
Peace Conference
July 23 - 25, 2010, Albany, NY or UNAC at P.O. Box 21675, Cleveland, OH 44121

Call to Action!
United National Antiwar Conference (UNAC)
Join us in Albany, New York!
July 23-25, 2010

The National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now will take place against the backdrop of major developments in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Our planet is aflame with unending wars, threats of new wars and horrendous sanctions against Iran, atrocious attacks on innocent Freedom Flotillas bringing humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Palestinians of Gaza, and with an unprecedented corporate-driven environmental catastrophe.

With U.S. acquiescence, a humanitarian flotilla in international waters, carrying 10,000 tons of food, medical, construction and educational supplies and toys for children, has been brutally attacked by the Israeli military - nine killed and six others missing and/or presumed dead. The 750 peace activists aboard, including NGO members, pacifists, journalists, and members of the European Parliament, were kidnapped, then arrested - their cargo seized. As we write, Iranian and Turkish ships, also loaded with humanitarian supplies, have announced plans to head for beleaguered Gaza to challenge the illegal blockade and Israeli siege. Will the Israeli government once again attack with deadly force bringing the world closer to yet another war?

We are witness to seven years of war against Iraq, a war whose every pretext has been discredited and whose people demand U.S. withdrawal. War for oil, occupation and plunder does not sit well with Iraqis who have suffered 1.4 million dead. "Phased withdrawal" is designed to assuage the U.S. public, and Iraqi majority opposition notwithstanding, there is no end in sight.

Meanwhile, 60,000 barrels of oil daily for the past two months, barely impeded, pour into the Gulf of Mexico, wreaking death, destruction and massive loss of income in adjacent states and north to the Atlantic and beyond. Corporate greed and the absence of a semblance of serious government regulation threaten long-term destruction of the ocean's ecosystem. British Petroleum, the Transocean corporation, and subcontractor Halliburton Industries demonstrate once again that oil profits, whether in the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Mexico, trump human life and indeed life on earth in all forms. The insatiable drive for "black gold," the very resource that with continued use threatens all life, has brought us to the brink of what Mother Earth and its inhabitants can endure.

At the same time, our movement has registered some impressive gains while the government is registering important setbacks.

• Public opposition to the Afghanistan War is on the rise!
• The "victory" in Marja has proven ephemeral!
• The economic and political crises have awakened millions to the government's twisted priorities!
• Congressional debates reflect doubts about the war's objectives and costs!
• 24 Guantanamo torture protesters have been acquitted!

History demonstrates time and again that united, democratic and principled mass movements open the door to fundamental social change. That is the lesson of the fight against the Vietnam War, the broad civil rights movements, the struggles for equal rights for women and gays, and labor's struggle to unionize and advance the well-being of tens of millions.

And that's why the Albany conference is so timely. One hundred and twenty-five plenary and workshop speakers are scheduled! They include national and international leaders in the fight against war and for social justice. Twenty-nine national organizations are equal co-sponsors. (See For the first time in many years, a broad and diverse range of U.S. antiwar forces will be in the same room. Joined by social activists across the country and from around the world, they will lay plans to mobilize the American people to Bring the Troops and War Dollars Home Now! and to Fund Human Needs Not War!

The time to act is now! All antiwar and social justice activists welcome! One person one vote! See Draft Action Program online. Related amendments and resolutions are welcome.

The need now is to find common ground in the fight for life itself. The crisis-ridden system cries out for a challenge the world over. Let us be among the first to chart a winning course for the U.S. and for all humanity.

We say, "Massive funds for jobs, education, housing, pensions, the environment and health care! Bring the Troops, Mercenaries, War Profiteers and War Dollars Home Now! Close the 860 Military Bases! Bail Out the People, Not the Banks!"

United we can change the world!


For more information: or call 518-227-6947. A registration form is attached. Brochures announcing the conference can be ordered by writing


Education 4 the People!
October 7 Day of Action in Defense of Public Education - California

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference at SFSU on OCT 16th
Posted on May 24, 2010 by ooofireballooo
Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference
@ San Francisco State University on October 16th

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Proposal: Form a conference organizing listserve immediately!

Please join the google group today.

* Group home page:




Oil Spill Threatens Native American "Water" Village
The town of Grand Bayou, Louisiana, has no streets and no cars, just water and boats. And now the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens the very existence of the Atakapa-Ishak Indians who live there. "We're facing the potential for cultural genocide," says one tribe member.
(c) 2010 National Geographic; videographer and field producer: Fritz Faerber


Mumia Abu-Jamal - Legal Update
June 9, 2010
Robert R. Bryan, Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

Dear All:

There are significant developments on various fronts in the coordinated legal campaign to save & free Mumia Abu-Jamal. The complex court proceedings are moving forward at a fast pace. Mumia's life is on the line.

Court Developments: We are engaged in pivotal litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia. At stake is whether Mumia will be executed or granted a new jury trial on the question of the death penalty. Two years ago we won on that issue, with the federal court finding that the trial judge misled the jury thereby rendering the proceedings constitutionally unfair. Then in January 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that ruling based upon its decision in another case, & ordered that the case be again reviewed by the Court of Appeals.

The prosecution continues its obsession to kill my client, regardless of the truth as to what happened at the time of the 1981 police shooting. Its opening brief was filed April 26. Our initial brief will be submitted on July 28. At issue is the death penalty.

In separate litigation, we are awaiting a decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on prosecutorial abuses, having completed all briefing in April. The focus is on ballistics.

Petition for President Barack Obama: It is crucial for people to sign the petition for President Barack Obama, Mumia Abu-Jamal & the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty, which was initially in 10 languages (Swahili & Turkish have since been added). This is the only petition approved by Mumia & me, & is a vital part of the legal effort to save his life. Please sign the petition & circulate its link:

Nearly 22,000 people from around the globe have signed. These include: Bishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa (Nobel Peace Prize); Günter Grass, Germany (Nobel Prize in Literature); Danielle Mitterrand, Paris (former First Lady of France); Fatima Bhutto, Pakistan (writer); Colin Firth (Academy Award Best-Actor nominee), Noam Chomsky, MIT (philosopher & author); Ed Asner (actor); Mike Farrell (actor); & Michael Radford (director of the Oscar winning film Il Postino); Robert Meeropol (son of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953); Fatima Bhutto, Pakistan (writer); Noam Chomsky, MIT (philosopher & author); Ed Asner (actor); Mike Farrell (actor); Michael Radford (director of the Oscar winning film Il Postino); members of the European Parliament; members of the German Bundestag; European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights; Reporters Without Borders, Paris.

European Parliament; Rosa Luxemburg Conference; World Congress Against the Death Penalty; Geneva Human Rights Film Festival: We began the year with a major address to the annual Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin, Germany, sponsored by the newspaper junge Welt. The large auditorium was filled with a standing-room audience. Mumia joined me by telephone. We announced the launching of the online petition, Mumia Abu-Jamal & the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty.

A large audience on the concluding night of the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland, February 25, heard Mumia by telephone. He spoke as a symbolic representative of the over 20,000 men, women & children on death rows around the world. The call came as a surprise, since we thought it had been canceled. Mumia's comments from inside his death-row cell brought to reality the horror of daily life in which death is a common denominator. During an earlier panel discussion I spoke of racism in capital cases around the globe with the case of Mumia as a prime example. A day before the Congress on February 23, I talked at the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival on the power of films in fighting the death penalty & saving Mumia.

On March 2 in the European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, members Søren Søndergaard (Denmark) & Sabine Lösing (Germany) announced the beginning of a campaign to save Mumia & end executions. They were joined by Sabine Kebir, the noted German author & PEN member, Nicole Bryan, & me. We discussed the online petition which helps not only Mumia, but all the condemned around the globe.

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense & Online Petition: The complex litigation & investigation that is being pursued on behalf of Mumia is enormously expensive. We are in both the federal & state courts on the issue of the death penalty, prosecutorial wrongdoing, etc. Mumia's life is on the line.

How to Help: For information on how to help, both through donations & signing the Obama petition, please go to Mumia's legal defense website: .

Conclusion: Mumia remains on death row under a death judgment. He is in greater danger than at any time since his arrest 28 years ago. The prosecution is pursuing his execution. I win cases, & will not let them kill my client. He must be free.

Yours very truly,

Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Please forward widely

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

Forgive this hasty note updating Lynne's situation. I am off to Brazil shortly and must catch a plane soon.

I just spoke with Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter last night and learned the following.

A regularly scheduled follow up test to check on whether Lynne's breast cancel had reappeared revealed that Lynne now had a spot on her liver. Lynne struggled with prison authorities to have a required biopsy and related tests conducted at her regular, that is, non-prison, Roosevelt Hospital. Her requests were denied and she was compelled to have the biopsy done in a notoriously inferior facility where the results could not be determined for a week as compared to the almost immediate lab tests available at Roosevelt.

During Lynne's prison hospital stay she was shackled and handcuffed making rest and sleep virtually impossible. A horrified doctor ordered the shackles removed but immediately following his departure they were fastened on Lynne's feet and hands once again.

She is now back in her New York City prison cell. Her attorneys have filed for a postponement of her scheduled July 15 court appearance where Federal District Court sentencing Judge John Koeltl is to review the original 28-month jail sentence that he imposed last year.

This sentence was appealed by government prosecutors, who sought to order Koelt to impose a 30-year sentence. The U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, was sympathetic to the government's position and essentially stated that Koeltl's 28-month sentence exceeded the bounds of "reasonableness." Koeltl was ordered to reconsider. A relatively recent Supreme Court decision granted federal district court judges wide discretion in determining the length of internment. Koeltl's decision took into consideration many factors that the court system allows in determining Lynne's sentence. These included Lynne's character, her service to the community, her health and financial history and more. He ruled, among other things that Lynne's service to the community was indeed a "credit to her profession and to the nation."

Contrariwise, the government and prison authorities see Lynne as a convicted terrorist. Lynne was the victim of a frame-up trial held in the post-911 context. She was convicted on four counts of "aiding and abetting terrorism" stemming from a single act, Lynne's issuance of a press release on behalf of her client, the "blind" Egyptian Shreik Omar Abdel Rachman. The press release, that the government claimed violated a Special Administrative Order (SAM), was originally ignored as essentially trivial by the Clinton administration and then Attorney General Janet Reno. But the Bush administration's Attorney General John Ashcroft decided to go after Lynne with a sledge hammer.

A monstrous trial saw government attorney's pulling out all the stops to convince an intimidated jury that Lynne was associated in some way with terrorist acts across the globe, not to mention with Osama bin Laden. Both the judge and government were compelled to admit in court that there were no such "associations," but press clippings found in Lynne's office were nevertheless admitted as "hearsay" evidence even though they were given to Lynne by the government under the rules of discovery.

It is likely that Lynne's request for a postponement will be granted, assuming the government holds to the law that a prisoner has the right to partake in her/his own defense. Lynne's illness has certainly prevented her from doing so.

In the meantime, Lynne would like nothing more than to hear from her friends and associates. Down the road her defense team will also be looking for appropriate letters to the judge on Lynne's behalf. More later on the suggested content of these letters.

Please write Lynne to express your love and solidarity:

Lynne Stewart 53504-054
150 Park Row
New York, New York 10007

In Solidarity,

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


Lynne Stewart and the Guantanamo Lawyers: Same Fact Patterns, Same Opponent, Different Endings?
Lynne Stewart will be re-sentenced sometime in July, in NYC.
By Ralph Poynter
(Ralph Poynter is the Life partner of Lynne Stewart. He is presently dedicated 24/7 to her defense, as well as other causes.)

In the Spring of 2002, Lynne Stewart was arrested by the FBI, at her home in Brooklyn, for materially aiding terrorism by virtue of making a public press release to Reuters on behalf of her client, Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman of Egypt. This was done after she had signed a Special Administrative Measure issued by the Bureau of Prisons not permitting her to communicate with the media, on his behalf.

In 2006, a number of attorneys appointed and working pro bono for detainees at Guantanamo were discovered to be acting in a manner that disobeyed a Federal Judge's protective court order. The adversary in both cases was the United States Department of Justice. The results in each case were very different.

In March of 2010, a right wing group "Keep America Safe" led by Lynne Cheney, hoping to dilute Guantanamo representation and impugn the reputations and careers of the volunteer lawyers, launched a campaign. Initially they attacked the right of the detainees to be represented at all. This was met with a massive denouncement by Press, other media, Civil rights organizations ,and rightly so, as being a threat to the Constitution and particularly the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

A second attack on the Gitmo lawyers was made in the Wall Street Journal of March 16. This has been totally ignored in the media and by civil and human rights groups. This latter revelation about the violations, by these lawyers, of the Judge's protective orders and was revealed via litigation and the Freedom of Information Act. These pro bono lawyers serving clients assigned to them at Gitmo used privileged attorney client mail to send banned materials. They carried in news report of US failures in Afghanistan and Iraq . One lawyer drew a map of the prison. Another delivered lists to his client of all the suspects held there. They placed on the internet a facsimile of the badges worn by the Guards. Some lawyers "provided news outlets with 'interviews' of their clients using questions provided in advance by the news organizations." When a partner at one of the large Wall Street law firms sent in multiple copies of an Amnesty International brochure, which her client was to distribute to other prisoners, she was relieved from her representation and barred by the Military Commander from visiting her client.

This case is significant to interpret not because of the right wing line to punish these lawyers and manipulate their corporate clients to stop patronizing such "wayward" firms. Instead it is significant because, Lynne Stewart, a left wing progressive lawyer who had dedicated her thirty year career to defending the poor, the despised, the political prisoner and those ensnared by reason of race, gender, ethnicity, religion , who was dealt with by the same Department of Justice, in such a draconian fashion, confirms our deepest suspicions that she was targeted for prosecution and punishment because of who she is and who she represented so ably and not because of any misdeed.

Let me be very clear, I am not saying that the Gitmo lawyers acted in any "criminal" manner. The great tradition of the defense bar is to be able to make crucial decisions for and with the client without interference by the adversary Government.

I believe that they were acting as zealous attorneys trying to establish rapport and trust with their clients. That said, the moment the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice tried to remove Julia Tarver Mason from her client, the playing field tilted. Ms Tarver Mason was not led out of her home in handcuffs to the full glare of publicity. There was no press conference. The Attorney General did not go on the David Letterman show to gloat about the latest strike in the War on Terror, the purge of the Gitmo lawyer...NO.

Instead an "armada" of corporate lawyers went to Court against the Government. They, in the terms of the litigation trade, papered the US District Courthouse in Washington D.C. They brought to bear the full force of their Money and Power-- derived from the corporate world--and in 2006 "settled" the case with the government, restoring their clients to Guantanamo without any punishment at all, not to say any Indictment. Lynne Stewart, without corporate connections and coming from a working class background, was tried and convicted for issuing, on behalf of her client, a public press release to Reuters. There was no injury, no harm, no attacks, no deaths.

Yet that same Department of Justice that dealt so favorably and capitulated to the Gitmo corporate lawyers, wants to sentence Lynne Stewart to thirty (30) YEARS in prison. It is the equivalent of asking for a death sentence since she is 70 years old.

This vast disparity in treatment between Lynne and the Gitmo lawyers reveals the deep contradictions of the system ---those who derive power from rich and potent corporations, those whose day to day work maintains and increases that power--are treated differently. Is it because the Corporate Power is intertwined with Government Power???

Lynne Stewart deserves Justice... equal justice under law. Her present sentence of 28 months incarceration (she is in Federal Prison) should at least be maintained, if not made equal to the punishment that was meted out to the Gitmo lawyers. The thirty year sentence, assiduously pursued by DOJ under both Bush and Obama, is an obscenity and an affront to fundamental fairness. They wanted to make her career and dedication to individual clients, a warning, to the defense bar that the Government can arrest any lawyer on any pretext. The sharp contrasts between the cases of Lynne and the Gitmo lawyers just confirm that she is getting a raw deal--one that should be protested actively, visibly and with the full force of our righteous resistance.


Roger Waters - "We Shall Overcome" for Gaza


Bernadette McAliskey Quote on Zionists:

"The root cause of conflict in the Middle East is the very nature of the state of Israel. It is a facist state. It is a international bully, which exists not to protect the rights of the Jewish people but to perpetuate a belief of Zionist supremacy. It debases the victims of the holocaust by its own strategy for extermination of Palestine and Palestinians and has become the image and likeness of its own worst enemy, the Third Reich.

"Anyone challenging their position, their crazed self-image is entitled, in the fascist construction of their thinking, to be wiped out. Every humanitarian becomes a terrorist? How long is the reality of the danger Israel poses to world peace going to be denied by the Western powers who created this monster?"


Rachel Maddow: Disgraceful response to the oil itself


It Ain't My Fault by Mos Def & Lenny Kravitz |


Gulf Oil Spill?

Dear Readers,

If you are wondering why an antiwar newsletter is giving full coverage to the oil spill, it's because:

(1) "Supplying the US army with oil is one of BP's biggest markets, and further exploration in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico is part of its long-term strategy."*
(2) "The Senate on Thursday, [May 27, 2010] approved a nearly $60 billion measure to pay for continuing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq..."**

The two are inextricably entwined and interdependent.

--Bonnie Weinstein

*The black hole at the bottom of the Gulf
No one seems to know the extent of the BP disaster
By David Randall and Margareta Pagano
Sunday, 23 May 2010

**Senate Approves Nearly $60 Billion for Wars
May 27, 2010

Watch BP Live Video Webcam Camera Feed of Gulf Oil Spill Here! (Update 7)

What BP does not want you to see:
ABC News went underwater in the Gulf with Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of famous explorer Jacques Cousteau, and he described what he saw as "one of the most horrible things I've ever seen underwater."

Check out what BP does not want you to see. And please share this widely -- every American should see what's happening under the surface in the Gulf.

Live BP Gulf Oil Spill Webcam Video Reveals 5 Leaks

Stop Shell Oil's Offshore Drilling Plans in the Arctic

Sign the Petition to Ban Offshore Drilling Now!



[ The poem does not mention that the popular herb cardamom is banned from importation into Gaza. Israel probably fears that cardamom can be used as a biological weapon. Rockets with cardamom filled projectiles landing in Israel could cause Israeli soldiers 'guarding' the border to succumb to pangs of hunger, leave their posts to go get something eat, and leave Israel defenseless. - Howard Keylor]

Richard Tillinghast is an American poet who lives in Co Tipperary. He is the author of eight books of poetry, the latest of which is Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2010 ), as well as several works of non-fiction


No tinned meat is allowed, no tomato paste,
no clothing, no shoes, no notebooks.
These will be stored in our warehouses at Kerem Shalom
until further notice.
Bananas, apples, and persimmons are allowed into Gaza,
peaches and dates, and now macaroni
(after the American Senator's visit).
These are vital for daily sustenance.

But no apricots, no plums, no grapes, no avocados, no jam.
These are luxuries and are not allowed.
Paper for textbooks is not allowed.
The terrorists could use it to print seditious material.
And why do you need textbooks
now that your schools are rubble?
No steel is allowed, no building supplies, no plastic pipe.
These the terrorists could use to launch rockets
against us.

Pumpkins and carrots you may have, but no delicacies,
no cherries, no pomegranates, no watermelon, no onions,
no chocolate.

We have a list of three dozen items that are allowed,
but we are not obliged to disclose its contents.
This is the decision arrived at
by Colonel Levi, Colonel Rosenzweig, and Colonel Segal.

Our motto:
'No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.'
You may fish in the Mediterranean,
but only as far as three km from shore.
Beyond that and we open fire.
It is a great pity the waters are polluted
twenty million gallons of raw sewage dumped into the sea every day
is the figure given.

Our rockets struck the sewage treatments plants,
and at this point spare parts to repair them are not allowed.
As long as Hamas threatens us,
no cement is allowed, no glass, no medical equipment.
We are watching you from our pilotless drones
as you cook your sparse meals over open fires
and bed down
in the ruins of houses destroyed by tank shells.

And if your children can't sleep,
missing the ones who were killed in our incursion,
or cry out in the night, or wet their beds
in your makeshift refugee tents,
or scream, feeling pain in their amputated limbs -
that's the price you pay for harbouring terrorists.

God gave us this land.
A land without a people for a people without a land.
Greta Berlin, Co-Founder
+357 99 18 72 75


This is just inspiring! You have to watch it!
Don't Get Caught in a Bad Hotel



[While this is a good beginning to a fight to put safety first--for workers and the planet--we must recognize that the whole thrust of capitalism is to get the job done quicker and cheaper, workers and the world be damned!

It is workers who are intimately aware of the dangers of production and the ways those dangers could be eliminated. And, if, say, a particular mine, factory, industry can't be made to be safe, then it should be abandoned. Those workers effected should simply be "retired" with full pay and benefits. They have already been subjected to the toxins, dangers, etc., on the job.

Basically, safety must be under worker's control. Workers must have first dibs on profits to insure safety first.

It not only means nationalizing industry--but internationalizing industry--and placing it under the control and operation of the workers themselves. Governmental controls of safety regulations are notoriously ineffectual because the politicians themselves are the corporation's paid defenders. It only makes sense that corporate profits should be utilized--under the worker's control--to put safety first or stop production altogether. Safety first has to be interpreted as "safety before profits and profits for safety first!" We can only hope it is not too late!]


The government of the United States must seize BP and freeze its assets, and place those funds in trust to begin providing immediate relief to the working people throughout the Gulf states whose jobs, communities, homes and businesses are being harmed or destroyed by the criminally negligent actions of the CEO, Board of Directors and senior management of BP.

Take action now! Sign the Seize BP petition to demand the seizure of BP!

200,000 gallons of oil a day, or more, are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico with the flow of oil growing. The poisonous devastation to human beings, wildlife, natural habitat and fragile ecosystems will go on for decades. It constitutes an act of environmental violence, the consequences of which will be catastrophic.

BP's Unmitigated Greed

This was a manufactured disaster. It was neither an "Act of God" nor Nature that caused this devastation, but rather the unmitigated greed of Big Oil's most powerful executives in their reckless search for ever-greater profits.

Under BP's CEO Tony Hayward's aggressive leadership, BP made a record $5.6 billion in pure profits just in the first three months of 2010. BP made $163 billion in profits from 2001-09. It has a long history of safety violations and slap-on-the-wrist fines.

BP's Materially False and Misleading Statements

BP filed a 52-page exploration plan and environmental impact analysis with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, which repeatedly assured the government that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities." In the filing, BP stated over and over that it was unlikely for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill causing serious damage to beaches, mammals and fisheries and that as such it did not require a response plan for such an event.

BP's executives are thus either guilty of making materially false statements to the government to obtain the license, of consciously misleading a government that was all too ready to be misled, and/or they are guilty of criminal negligence. At a bare minimum, their representations constitute gross negligence. Whichever the case, BP must be held accountable for its criminal actions that have harmed so many.

Protecting BP's Super-Profits

BP executives are banking that they can ride out the storm of bad publicity and still come out far ahead in terms of the billions in profit that BP will pocket. In 1990, in response to the Exxon Valdez disaster, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Oil Pollution Act, which immunizes oil companies for the damages they cause beyond immediate cleanup costs.

Under the Oil Pollution Act, oil companies are responsible for oil removal and cleanup costs for massive spills, and their liability for all other forms of damages is capped at $75 million-a pittance for a company that made $5.6 billion in profits in just the last three months, and is expected to make $23 billion in pure profit this year. Some in Congress suggest the cap should be set at $10 billion, still less than the potential cost of this devastation-but why should the oil companies have any immunity from responsibility for the damage they cause?

The Oil Pollution Act is an outrage, and it will be used by BP to keep on doing business as usual.

People are up in arms because thousands of workers who have lost their jobs and livelihoods as a result of BP's actions have to wait in line to compete for lower wage and hazardous clean-up jobs from BP. BP's multi-millionaire executives are not asked to sacrifice one penny while working people have to plead for clean-up jobs.

Take Action Now

It is imperative that the government seize BP's assets now for their criminal negligence and begin providing immediate relief for the immense suffering and harm they have caused.

Seize BP Petition button*:


Rachel Carson's Warnings in "The Sea Around Us":
"It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself. . ."


Operation Small Axe - Trailer


Shame on Arizona

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just signed a law that will authorize officers to pull over, question, and detain anyone they have a "reasonable suspicion" to believe is in this country without proper documentation. It's legalized racial profiling, and it's an affront on all of our civil rights, especially Latinos. It's completely unacceptable.

Join us in letting Arizona's leaders know how we feel, and that there will be consequences. A state that dehumanizes its own people does not deserve our economic support

"As long as racial profiling is legal in Arizona, I will do what I can to not visit the state and to avoid spending dollars there."

Sign Petition Here:


Please sign the petition to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and
and forward it to all your lists.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal and The Global Abolition of the Death Penalty"

(A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www.

[Note: This petition is approved by Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco (E-mail:; Website:]

Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012


Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia's freedom and life. His legal defense needs help. The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level. To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501c)3), and should be mailed to:

It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row. His life hangs in the balance. My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases. I will not rest until we win Mumia's case. Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Collateral Murder



5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.

Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.


San Francisco City and County Tramples on Civil Liberties
A Letter to Antiwar Activists
Dear Activists:
On Saturday, March 20, the San Francisco City and County Recreation and Parks Department's Park Rangers patrolled a large public antiwar demonstration, shutting down the distribution of Socialist Viewpoint magazine. The rally in Civic Center Plaza was held in protest of the illegal and immoral U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Park Rangers went table-to-table examining each one. They photographed the Socialist Viewpoint table and the person attending it-me. My sister, Debbie and I, had set up the table. We had a sign on the table that asked for a donation of $1.25 for the magazine. The Park Rangers demanded that I "pack it up" and go, because selling or even asking for donations for newspapers or magazines is no longer permitted without the purchase of a new and expensive "vendors license." Their rationale for this denial of free speech is that the distribution of newspapers, magazines, T-shirts-and even food-would make the political protest a "festival" and not a political protest demonstration!
This City's action is clearly a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution-the right to free speech and freedom of the press-and can't be tolerated.
While they are firing teachers and other San Francisco workers, closing schools, cutting back healthcare access, cutting services to the disabled and elderly, it is outrageous that the Mayor and City Government chose to spend thousands of dollars to police tables at an antiwar rally-a protest demonstration by the people!
We can't let this become the norm. It is so fundamentally anti-democratic. The costs of the permits for the rally, the march, the amplified sound, is already prohibitive. Protest is not a privilege we should have to pay for. It's a basic right in this country and we should reclaim it!
Personally, I experienced a deep feeling of alienation as the crisply-uniformed Park Ranger told me I had to "pack it up"-especially when I knew that they were being paid by the City to do this at this demonstration!
I hope you will join this protest of the violation of the right to distribute and, therefore, the right to read Socialist Viewpoint, by writing or emailing the City officials who are listed below.1
In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, Editorial Board Member, Socialist Viewpoint
60 - 29th Street, #429
San Francisco, CA 94110

1 Mayor Gavin Newsom
City Hall, Room 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Board of Supervisors
City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689

San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department Park Rangers
McLaren Lodge & Annex
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Chief of Police George Gascón
850 Bryant Street, #525
San Francisco, CA 94103
(I could not find an email address for him.).



Lynne Stewart in Jail!

Mail tax free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: "Lynne Stewart Defense." Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.



U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


On June 30, an innocent man will be given a second chance.

In 1991, Troy Davis was sentenced to death for allegedly killing a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. There was no physical evidence tying him to the crime, and seven out of nine witnesses recanted or contradicted their testimony.

He was sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit. But it's not too late to change Troy's fate.

We just learned today that Troy has been granted an evidentiary hearing -- an opportunity to right this wrong. Help give him a second chance by telling your friends to pledge their support for Troy:

Troy Davis may just be one man, but his situation represents an injustice experienced by thousands. And suffering this kind of injustice, by even one man, is one person too many.

Thanks to you and 35,000 other NAACP members and supporters who spoke out last August, the U.S. Supreme Court is granting Troy Davis his day in court--and a chance to make his case after 19 years on death row.

This hearing is the first step.

We appreciate your continued support of Troy. If you have not yet done so, please visit our website, sign the petition, then tell your friends to do the same.

I will be in touch soon to let you know how else you can help.


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) High Rate for Deaths of Pregnant Women in New York State
June 18, 2010

2) Thousands Protest Electricity Shortage in Iraq
June 19, 2010

3) BP Chief Draws Outrage for Attending Yacht Race
[Tony Hayward's "getting back to his life" while the Gulf dies.]
June 19, 2010

4) Fishing Tournament Cancellations Spread With Oil Spill
June 19, 2010

5)Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident - it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism
Naomi Klein visited the Gulf coast with a film-crew from Fault Lines, a documentary programme hosted by Avi Lewis on al-Jazeera English Television. She was a consultant on the film. [This is an important film to view. Scroll to the bottom of the page in the Guardian to view it or look it up on YouTube. Everywhere there is a refinery or drill site, poisons are being released into our environment.]
BY Naomi Klein
The Guardian
Saturday 19 June 2010

6) Tuberculosis: Mining Plays Bigger Role in TB in Africa Than Had Been Realized, Study Finds
By Donald G. McNeil Jr.
June 21, 2010

7) Regulators Failed to Address Risks in Oil Rig Fail-Safe Device
"In Senate testimony on June 9, Mr. Salazar made clear that Mr. Obama had no intention of pulling back permanently from deepwater drilling off the United States coast.
"'It was the president's directive that we press the pause button,' Mr. Salazar said. 'It's important for all of you on this committee to know that word - it's the pause button. It's not the stop button.'"
This article is by David Barstow, Laura Dodd, James Glanz, Stephanie Saul and Ian Urbina.
June 20, 2010
[Video and graphics accompany this article on]

8) For the Crew of a Drill Ship, a Routine Task, a Far-From-Routine Goal
June 20, 2010

9) Panel Is Unlikely to End Deepwater Drilling Ban Early
"But Mr. Reilly said that ending the moratorium would require that the industry adopt safer drilling techniques and that the government regulatory agencies, particularly the Minerals Management Service, a part of the Interior Department, be markedly strengthened. 'Those things would have to happen faster than past history would suggest is possible,' he said. He also noted that a Congressional hearing last week revealed that the five major domestic oil companies relied on a common and clearly inadequate plan for responding to a major offshore spill."
June 21, 2010

10) Monitoring the Manatee for Oil Ills
June 20, 2010


1) High Rate for Deaths of Pregnant Women in New York State
June 18, 2010

More mothers die during pregnancy or soon after in New York than in almost every other state, and according to reports released on Friday by the New York Academy of Medicine and the city's health department, social factors like poverty, obesity and lack of insurance may be responsible.

While the total number of maternal deaths are small - an average of about 40 a year across the state - city health officials said their analysis showed that maternal mortality was being driven by environmental factors like poor nutrition that could be changed through public policy.

New York City's analysis, billed as one of the most sophisticated looks at maternal mortality in the country, studied 161 women who died of pregnancy-related causes in the city from 2001 to 2005.

It found that 49 percent of the women who died were obese. Black women, who were more likely to be obese, were seven times as likely to die in pregnancy as white women. Hispanic and Asian women were twice as likely to die as white women.

The death rate was highest in the Bronx and Brooklyn, which have large poor and minority populations. The neighborhoods with the highest death rates were Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn and Jamaica in Queens. Those with the lowest death rates - actually zero - were Chelsea and Greenwich Village in Manhattan, Bensonhurst in Brooklyn and Flushing in Queens.

Women without health insurance - who may receive less preventive care - were four times as likely to die as women with such coverage, but women covered by Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor, fared as well as women with private insurance, the city found.

"Black women are more likely to be obese, and they are more likely to be uninsured, and they are more likely to live in communities where the environment does not promote healthy decisions," Deborah Kaplan, the assistant commissioner of the city's bureau of maternal health, said as the city's data was presented at the Academy of Medicine headquarters in Manhattan.

The city's report acknowledged, however, that while factors like obesity, poverty and race were strongly correlated with maternal mortality, it was not possible to say that those factors actually caused the deaths.

The study did not look beyond the statistics to the particular circumstances of each death, which might reveal whether the hospitals that treated the women or decisions made by doctors had contributed to their deaths. "I think we can see this as an issue that needs more clarity," the academy's president, Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, said.

Of the women who died during childbirth, 79 percent were delivered by Caesarean section, which carries all the risks of any other surgery, like hemorrhaging and infection. The top four causes of death were blood clots, hemorrhage, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and infection, which together accounted for 63 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths, according to the city's report. Half of the pregnancy-related deaths occurred within a week of delivery.

Prenatal care, or the lack of it, however, did not seem to play a strong role in the deaths. The study found that half the women who died received care that was considered adequate or better in their first trimester.

Women 40 or older were 2.6 times as likely to die as those under 40.

In 2007, the most recent year cited in the academy's report, New York State's rate was about 16 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. It ranks as the fourth worst rate in the country, followed by Maryland, New Mexico, Georgia and the District of Columbia, according to a multiyear analysis by the National Women's Law Center.

The national rate in 2006 was 13.3 maternal deaths per 100,000, three times as high as the federal government's target for 2010 of 4.3 deaths, and ranking the United States below more than 30 other nations.

New York City has fared even worse. The average maternal mortality rate from 2001 to 2005 in New York City was 23.1, nearly twice the national average of 11.8 during that period, according to the city's report.

In addition to the 161 women whose deaths were directly related to pregnancy, the city looked at another 105 women whose deaths were indirectly related to their pregnancies. Homicide accounted for more than a fifth of these deaths, suggesting that the stress of pregnancy may be related to domestic violence. Black women were five times as likely to be murdered as white women, and Hispanic women were more than twice as likely to be killed as white women.


2) Thousands Protest Electricity Shortage in Iraq
June 19, 2010

BAGHDAD - Thousands of demonstrators surged through the sweltering streets of Iraq's second-largest city to protest persistent shortages of electricity on Saturday, clashing with the police in a disturbance that underlined the growing popular anger here over the Iraqi government's inability to provide the basic necessities of life.

One person was killed when the police opened fire on the demonstrators, who were throwing rocks at the provincial headquarters in Basra. But the symbolism of the event may prove greater than the death toll: Diplomats, officials and politicians have warned that popular frustration over basic services is escalating significantly as summer temperatures climb past 110 degrees and more months pass without a new government.

Voters went to the polls on March 7 after a campaign dominated by promises of more jobs, electricity, housing and better drinking water. None of those pledges has been fulfilled as deadlocked negotiations over a governing coalition threaten to drag into the fall.

"The government should know that the people have been waiting for a long time now," said Samir Kadhum, a 34-year-old protester. "We're no longer patient." Another, 29-year-old Qaisar Banwan, promised "a revolution of electricity."

From the very first days of the American occupation, until now, electricity has proven a constant in the suffering of Iraq's people. The lack of it helped shape sentiments in the summer of 2003 toward the American military, which inherited utilities already crumbling from decades of wars and sanctions. Many are dumbfounded that, seven years later, it remains so scarce, despite billions of dollars in American aid.

Wealthier neighborhoods of Basra have as many as eight hours of city electricity a day; during blackouts, they can also afford the $50 or more a month for power from a generator shared by several blocks. The city's poorer neighborhoods, by far the majority, often have just one hour of electricity a day, a situation not uncommon in Baghdad and other regions. The temperature in Basra on Saturday was 113 degrees.

Sewage still gathers in the streets; the city, about 340 miles southeast of Baghdad and humid because of its proximity to the Persian Gulf, is one of Iraq's most decrepit.

The protest was organized by followers of Moktada al-Sadr, a populist cleric whose movement has long managed to straddle the divide between high politics in the capital and the popular sentiments of the street. Mr. Sadr's group was one of the most successful in the March 7 vote, and his lawmakers are deeply involved in the negotiations over a new government. But they still cast themselves as outsiders, and at Friday Prayer and elsewhere, the movement's clerics insist that they are representing the people's demands.

The protest gathered before the provincial headquarters, where residents ruefully noted that Basra is located in an oil-rich region. "Prison is more comfortable than our homes," one banner read. The protest turned violent when demonstrators began throwing rocks and security forces opened fire. Three people were also wounded, and officials in Basra said they would investigate the shooting of the protester who died.

Some of the protest's leaders said more demonstrations were planned.

"We're going to keep demonstrating until the government meets our simplest needs," said Mohammed al-Bahadli, a 41-year-old cleric and protest organizer.

Hours after the protest, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered a delegation to travel to Basra to address the problem. The group met provincial officials Saturday night, but there was no word on what, if anything, would be done.

An Iraqi employee of The New York Times contributed from Basra, Iraq.


3) BP Chief Draws Outrage for Attending Yacht Race
[Tony Hayward's "getting back to his life" while the Gulf dies.]
June 19, 2010

BP officials on Saturday scrambled yet again to respond to another public relations challenge when their embattled chief executive, Tony Hayward, spent the day off the coast of England watching his yacht compete in one of the world's largest races.

Two days after Mr. Hayward angered lawmakers on Capitol Hill with his refusal to provide details during testimony about the worst offshore oil spill in United States history, and one day after BP's chairman said the chief executive would not be as involved in daily operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Hayward sparked new controversy from afar.

"He is having some rare private time with his son," a BP spokeswoman, Sheila Williams, said in a telephone interview on Saturday.

But Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who taped an interview for ABC's "This Week," called Mr. Hayward's attendance at the race "part of a long line of P.R. gaffes and mistakes" that he has made.

"To quote Tony Hayward, he's got his life back," Mr. Emanuel said.

On May 31, six weeks after the spill began, Mr. Hayward uttered "I'd like my life back," a comment that struck many in the gulf region as insensitive, and for which he eventually apologized.

On Saturday, Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, called Mr. Hayward's yacht outing the "height of arrogance," in an interview with Fox News.

"I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil," Mr. Shelby said. "He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on. Not in a cocoon somewhere."

But Mr. Hayward's role in the gulf became the topic of further speculation on Saturday, even as Ms. Williams, the BP spokeswoman, insisted that Mr. Hayward was still in charge of the company and the enormous cleanup operations.

"Tony receives regular updates from the gulf," she said in an e-mail message.

On Friday, the chairman of the board of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg, told the British TV network Sky News that Mr. Hayward would be "now handing over" the daily operations in the gulf to Robert Dudley, an American who joined BP as part of its acquisition of Amoco a decade ago.

On Saturday, BP tried to clarify what Mr. Svanberg had said about the transition of leadership in the gulf. "What he meant by 'now,' " Ms. Williams said, was that "there would be a transition over to Bob over a period of time."

"Obviously, Tony's main priority remains overseeing all BP operations," she said. "Over all, there will be some responsibilities handed over, but Tony will remain in full control until we have stopped the leak."

When that might happen is not clear. Crude oil is flowing at a rate estimated between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil a day from the damaged well, and BP has been able to capture only a percentage of that with its current containment methods.

BP said it was aiming to stop the leak in August, when two relief wells it is drilling will intersect with the damaged one. The company said on Friday that it was ahead of schedule on one of the wells and within 200 feet of the side of the damaged well, but that the drilling would proceed more slowly the closer it got.

Workers had captured 24,500 barrels of oil on Friday before shutting down the operation because of a malfunction on the vessel that is siphoning the oil from the leaking well - 1,000 fewer barrels than on Thursday. Operations restarted early Saturday.

By then, Mr. Hayward was already in Cowes on the southern coast of England for the J. P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, a yacht race around the Isle of Wight. A spokeswoman for the race said in an e-mail message "that a gentleman by the name of Tony Hayward is a co-owner of an entered boat called 'Bob' that was racing today, however his name did not appear on any crew list."

The boat finished fourth in a class of 45 others.


4) Fishing Tournament Cancellations Spread With Oil Spill
June 19, 2010

Shawna Meisner, the director of the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic offshore sports fishing tournament in the Gulf of Mexico, had been one of the last holdouts. But on Thursday - five days before the tournament's start - the spreading BP oil spill left her little choice.

Meisner canceled the event, a team fishing competition in Destin, Fla. It is ranked by Marlin magazine as having the gulf's richest purse, reaching a peak of $1.5 million in 2008.

In the wake of the oil spill, many of the top fishing events in the gulf have been postponed or canceled. Those in recreational fishing regard the sport as a key part of the region's economy. Industry-financed studies estimate that the annual number of day trips on boats to fish in the gulf is 23.5 million, in addition to millions fishing from the shoreline.

Although a small percentage of boating anglers compete in offshore tournaments, they are among the biggest spenders. Each team pays $5,000 to enter the two-day Emerald Coast competition, and the fees can reach more than $50,000 depending on the categories it competes in.

About half a dozen other key tournaments in June and July had been canceled, but Meisner and her tournament committee persisted. In May, they issued a statement that they were "proceeding with optimism."

But some teams pulled out, anyway. About 20 remained last week, down from the more than 70 that typically compete. That decline was not the reason for the cancellation, Meisner said. The breaking point, she said, was when oil spread into the waters off the Florida Panhandle last week, leading to intermittent closures of a waterway that leads to deeper water. The federal authorities also widened the area closed to fishing.

"The long-reaching effect of canceling these events is devastating," said Jim Simons, the president of the World Billfish Series, a major championship in the rapidly growing sport.

The World Billfish Series and the International Game Fishing Association, the two major offshore fishing series, choose top competitors from qualifying tournaments around the world. They will have to adjust their process for selecting the gulf fishing teams for their championships.

The Billfish Series championship is in December in Costa Rica. It plans to invite last year's top competitors in the gulf and will also allow those who just missed qualifying to enter.

The game fishing association runs its championship in Mexico. Dan Jacobs, the tournament director, said it was considering allowing those from the gulf who qualified last year to enter. It may also allow fishing clubs like Emerald Coast to designate representatives.

Previous tournaments that were canceled or postponed stretch from Pensacola, Fla., to Mobile Bay, Ala., Biloxi, Miss, and Venice, La. But the cancellations may benefit other competitions. Jacobs said several teams unable to take part in gulf tournaments planned to compete in events in Bermuda and elsewhere.

In sport fishing competitions, teams essentially bet on who will catch particular kinds of fish. The prize money is divided among top finishers. In catch-and-release categories, teams document the number of fish they catch. Other winners are determined by the weight of individual fish brought to shore.

"It is no longer just a sport for the rich," Simons said. The number of anglers competing in the gulf has increased fivefold in the last decade, rising to about 5,000 people a year, mostly men. The growth has led to more tournaments, including the Emerald Coast competition, which started seven years ago.

Along with devastating the commercial fishing industry in the gulf, the oil spill is crippling the business of offshore recreational sport fishing. Offshore fishing, including tournaments, is worth $1.9 billion a year to the gulf region, based on an American Sportfishing Association-financed analysis of spending on items like hotels, docking and gear. The group said that millions of dollars had been lost.

"It's a disappointing season," said Jeff Shoults, a professional fisherman whose company owns the Mollie, a $3 million, 66-foot boat for deepwater fishing. He was among those who had planned to fish in the Destin tournament and four others in the gulf.

He estimated that in a typical year, his teams spent $80,000 to enter tournaments and grossed $250,000.

"I don't go to practice; I go to win," Shoults said.

His boat is outfitted with radar and satellite imaging to find seams where cold and warm water collide and fish are usually most plentiful. For a typical tournament, his boat may burn 1,500 gallons of fuel and venture more than 200 miles into the gulf in search of a prize blue marlin.

Shoults, 45, conceded his training did not include going to the gym. He just fishes and tries to stay awake for long hours at sea.

"It's a lot of Coca-Colas, Mountain Dews, anything with a lot of sugar," he said. "When you catch a big fish, it's a great feeling. It's a fun ride back to the dock when you know you've got a winner."


5)Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident - it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism
Naomi Klein visited the Gulf coast with a film-crew from Fault Lines, a documentary programme hosted by Avi Lewis on al-Jazeera English Television. She was a consultant on the film. [This is an important film to view. Scroll to the bottom of the page in the Guardian to view it or look it up on YouTube. Everywhere there is a refinery or drill site, poisons are being released into our environment.]
BY Naomi Klein
The Guardian
Saturday 19 June 2010

Everyone gathered for the town hall meeting had been repeatedly instructed to show civility to the gentlemen from BP and the federal government. These fine folks had made time in their busy schedules to come to a high school gymnasium on a Tuesday night in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, one of many coastal communities where brown poison was slithering through the marshes, part of what has come to be described as the largest environmental disaster in US history.

"Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to," the chair of the meeting pleaded one last time before opening the floor for questions.

And for a while the crowd, mostly made up of fishing families, showed remarkable restraint. They listened patiently to Larry Thomas, a genial BP public relations flack, as he told them that he was committed to "doing better" to process their claims for lost revenue - then passed all the details off to a markedly less friendly subcontractor. They heard out the suit from the Environmental Protection Agency as he informed them that, contrary to what they have read about the lack of testing and the product being banned in Britain, the chemical dispersant being sprayed on the oil in massive quantities was really perfectly safe.

But patience started running out by the third time Ed Stanton, a coast guard captain, took to the podium to reassure them that "the coast guard intends to make sure that BP cleans it up".

"Put it in writing!" someone shouted out. By now the air conditioning had shut itself off and the coolers of Budweiser were running low. A shrimper named Matt O'Brien approached the mic. "We don't need to hear this anymore," he declared, hands on hips. It didn't matter what assurances they were offered because, he explained, "we just don't trust you guys!" And with that, such a loud cheer rose up from the floor you'd have thought the Oilers (the unfortunately named school football team) had scored a touchdown.

The showdown was cathartic, if nothing else. For weeks residents had been subjected to a barrage of pep talks and extravagant promises coming from Washington, Houston and London. Every time they turned on their TVs, there was the BP boss, Tony Hayward, offering his solemn word that he would "make it right". Or else it was President Barack Obama expressing his absolute confidence that his administration would "leave the Gulf coast in better shape than it was before", that he was "making sure" it "comes back even stronger than it was before this crisis".

It all sounded great. But for people whose livelihoods put them in intimate contact with the delicate chemistry of the wetlands, it also sounded completely ridiculous, painfully so. Once the oil coats the base of the marsh grass, as it had already done just a few miles from here, no miracle machine or chemical concoction could safely get it out. You can skim oil off the surface of open water, and you can rake it off a sandy beach, but an oiled marsh just sits there, slowly dying. The larvae of countless species for which the marsh is a spawning ground - shrimp, crab, oysters and fin fish - will be poisoned.

It was already happening. Earlier that day, I travelled through nearby marshes in a shallow water boat. Fish were jumping in waters encircled by white boom, the strips of thick cotton and mesh BP is using to soak up the oil. The circle of fouled material seemed to be tightening around the fish like a noose. Nearby, a red-winged blackbird perched atop a 2 metre (7ft) blade of oil-contaminated marsh grass. Death was creeping up the cane; the small bird may as well have been standing on a lit stick of dynamite.

And then there is the grass itself, or the Roseau cane, as the tall sharp blades are called. If oil seeps deeply enough into the marsh, it will not only kill the grass above ground but also the roots. Those roots are what hold the marsh together, keeping bright green land from collapsing into the Mississippi River delta and the Gulf of Mexico. So not only do places like Plaquemines Parish stand to lose their fisheries, but also much of the physical barrier that lessens the intensity of fierce storms like hurricane Katrina. Which could mean losing everything.

How long will it take for an ecosystem this ravaged to be "restored and made whole" as Obama's interior secretary has pledged to do? It's not at all clear that such a thing is remotely possible, at least not in a time frame we can easily wrap our heads around. The Alaskan fisheries have yet to fully recover from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and some species of fish never returned. Government scientists now estimate that as much as a Valdez-worth of oil may be entering the Gulf coastal waters every four days. An even worse prognosis emerges from the 1991 Gulf war spill, when an estimated 11m barrels of oil were dumped into the Persian Gulf - the largest spill ever. That oil entered the marshland and stayed there, burrowing deeper and deeper thanks to holes dug by crabs. It's not a perfect comparison, since so little clean-up was done, but according to a study conducted 12 years after the disaster, nearly 90% of the impacted muddy salt marshes and mangroves were still profoundly damaged.

We do know this. Far from being "made whole," the Gulf coast, more than likely, will be diminished. Its rich waters and crowded skies will be less alive than they are today. The physical space many communities occupy on the map will also shrink, thanks to erosion. And the coast's legendary culture will contract and wither. The fishing families up and down the coast do not just gather food, after all. They hold up an intricate network that includes family tradition, cuisine, music, art and endangered languages - much like the roots of grass holding up the land in the marsh. Without fishing, these unique cultures lose their root system, the very ground on which they stand. (BP, for its part, is well aware of the limits of recovery. The company's Gulf of Mexico regional oil spill response plan specifically instructs officials not to make "promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal". Which is no doubt why its officials consistently favour folksy terms like "make it right".)

If Katrina pulled back the curtain on the reality of racism in America, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order fish species to survive, or brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money - not BP's recently pledged $20bn (£13.5bn), not $100bn - can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

"Everything is dying," a woman said as the town hall meeting was finally coming to a close. "How can you honestly tell us that our Gulf is resilient and will bounce back? Because not one of you up here has a hint as to what is going to happen to our Gulf. You sit up here with a straight face and act like you know when you don't know."

This Gulf coast crisis is about many things - corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it's about this: our culture's excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we can radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us. But as the BP disaster has revealed, nature is always more unpredictable than the most sophisticated mathematical and geological models imagine. During Thursday's congressional testimony, Hayward said: "The best minds and the deepest expertise are being brought to bear" on the crisis, and that, "with the possible exception of the space programme in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the gathering of a larger, more technically proficient team in one place in peacetime." And yet, in the face of what the geologist Jill Schneiderman has described as "Pandora's well", they are like the men at the front of that gymnasium: they act like they know, but they don't know.

BP's mission statement

In the arc of human history, the notion that nature is a machine for us to re-engineer at will is a relatively recent conceit. In her ground-breaking 1980 book The Death of Nature, the environmental historian Carolyn Merchant reminded readers that up until the 1600s, the Earth was alive, usually taking the form of a mother. Europeans - like indigenous people the world over - believed the planet to be a living organism, full of life-giving powers but also wrathful tempers. There were, for this reason, strong taboos against actions that would deform and desecrate "the mother", including mining.

The metaphor changed with the unlocking of some (but by no means all) of nature's mysteries during the scientific revolution of the 1600s. With nature now cast as a machine, devoid of mystery or divinity, its component parts could be dammed, extracted and remade with impunity. Nature still sometimes appeared as a woman, but one easily dominated and subdued. Sir Francis Bacon best encapsulated the new ethos when he wrote in the 1623 De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum that nature is to be "put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man".

Those words may as well have been BP's corporate mission statement. Boldly inhabiting what the company called "the energy frontier", it dabbled in synthesising methane-producing microbes and announced that "a new area of investigation" would be geoengineering. And of course it bragged that, at its Tiber prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, it now had "the deepest well ever drilled by the oil and gas industry" - as deep under the ocean floor as jets fly overhead.

Imagining and preparing for what would happen if these experiments in altering the building blocks of life and geology went wrong occupied precious little space in the corporate imagination. As we have all discovered, after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, the company had no systems in place to effectively respond to this scenario. Explaining why it did not have even the ultimately unsuccessful containment dome waiting to be activated on shore, a BP spokesman, Steve Rinehart, said: "I don't think anybody foresaw the circumstance that we're faced with now." Apparently, it "seemed inconceivable" that the blowout preventer would ever fail - so why prepare?

This refusal to contemplate failure clearly came straight from the top. A year ago, Hayward told a group of graduate students at Stanford University that he has a plaque on his desk that reads: "If you knew you could not fail, what would you try?" Far from being a benign inspirational slogan, this was actually an accurate description of how BP and its competitors behaved in the real world. In recent hearings on Capitol Hill, congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts grilled representatives from the top oil and gas companies on the revealing ways in which they had allocated resources. Over three years, they had spent "$39bn to explore for new oil and gas. Yet, the average investment in research and development for safety, accident prevention and spill response was a paltry $20m a year."

These priorities go a long way towards explaining why the initial exploration plan that BP submitted to the federal government for the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon well reads like a Greek tragedy about human hubris. The phrase "little risk" appears five times. Even if there is a spill, BP confidently predicts that, thanks to "proven equipment and technology", adverse affects will be minimal. Presenting nature as a predictable and agreeable junior partner (or perhaps subcontractor), the report cheerfully explains that should a spill occur, "Currents and microbial degradation would remove the oil from the water column or dilute the constituents to background levels". The effects on fish, meanwhile, "would likely be sublethal" because of "the capability of adult fish and shellfish to avoid a spill [and] to metabolise hydrocarbons". (In BP's telling, rather than a dire threat, a spill emerges as an all-you-can-eat buffet for aquatic life.)

Best of all, should a major spill occur, there is, apparently, "little risk of contact or impact to the coastline" because of the company's projected speedy response (!) and "due to the distance [of the rig] to shore" - about 48 miles (77km). This is the most astonishing claim of all. In a gulf that often sees winds of more than 70km an hour, not to mention hurricanes, BP had so little respect for the ocean's capacity to ebb and flow, surge and heave, that it did not think oil could make a paltry 77km trip. (Last week, a shard of the exploded Deepwater Horizon showed up on a beach in Florida, 306km away.)

None of this sloppiness would have been possible, however, had BP not been making its predictions to a political class eager to believe that nature had indeed been mastered. Some, like Republican Lisa Murkowski, were more eager than others. The Alaskan senator was so awe-struck by the industry's four-dimensional seismic imaging that she proclaimed deep-sea drilling to have reached the very height of controlled artificiality. "It's better than Disneyland in terms of how you can take technologies and go after a resource that is thousands of years old and do so in an environmentally sound way," she told the Senate energy committee just seven months ago.

Drilling without thinking has of course been Republican party policy since May 2008. With gas prices soaring to unprecedented heights, that's when the conservative leader Newt Gingrich unveiled the slogan "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" - with an emphasis on the now. The wildly popular campaign was a cry against caution, against study, against measured action. In Gingrich's telling, drilling at home wherever the oil and gas might be - locked in Rocky Mountain shale, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and deep offshore - was a surefire way to lower the price at the pump, create jobs, and kick Arab ass all at once. In the face of this triple win, caring about the environment was for sissies: as senator Mitch McConnell put it, "in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas, they think oil rigs are pretty". By the time the infamous "Drill Baby Drill" Republican national convention rolled around, the party base was in such a frenzy for US-made fossil fuels, they would have bored under the convention floor if someone had brought a big enough drill.

Obama, eventually, gave in, as he invariably does. With cosmic bad timing, just three weeks before the Deepwater Horizon blew up, the president announced he would open up previously protected parts of the country to offshore drilling. The practice was not as risky as he had thought, he explained. "Oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced." That wasn't enough for Sarah Palin, however, who sneered at the Obama administration's plans to conduct more studies before drilling in some areas. "My goodness, folks, these areas have been studied to death," she told the Southern Republican leadership conference in New Orleans, now just 11 days before the blowout. "Let's drill, baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall!" And there was much rejoicing.

In his congressional testimony, Hayward said: "We and the entire industry will learn from this terrible event." And one might well imagine that a catastrophe of this magnitude would indeed instil BP executives and the "Drill Now" crowd with a new sense of humility. There are, however, no signs that this is the case. The response to the disaster - at the corporate and governmental levels - has been rife with the precise brand of arrogance and overly sunny predictions that created the disaster in the first place.

The ocean is big, she can take it, we heard from Hayward in the early days. While spokesman John Curry insisted that hungry microbes would consume whatever oil was in the water system, because "nature has a way of helping the situation". But nature has not been playing along. The deep-sea gusher has bust out of all BP's top hats, containment domes, and junk shots. The ocean's winds and currents have made a mockery of the lightweight booms BP has laid out to absorb the oil. "We told them," said Byron Encalade, the president of the Louisiana Oysters Association. "The oil's gonna go over the booms or underneath the bottom." Indeed it did. The marine biologist Rick Steiner, who has been following the clean up closely, estimates that "70% or 80% of the booms are doing absolutely nothing at all".

And then there are the controversial chemical dispersants: more than 1.3m gallons dumped with the company's trademark "what could go wrong?" attitude. As the angry residents at the Plaquemines Parish town hall rightly point out, few tests had been conducted, and there is scant research about what this unprecedented amount of dispersed oil will do to marine life. Nor is there a way to clean up the toxic mixture of oil and chemicals below the surface. Yes, fast multiplying microbes do devour underwater oil - but in the process they also absorb the water's oxygen, creating a whole new threat to marine life.

BP had even dared to imagine that it could prevent unflattering images of oil-covered beaches and birds from escaping the disaster zone. When I was on the water with a TV crew, for instance, we were approached by another boat whose captain asked, ""Y'all work for BP?" When we said no, the response - in the open ocean - was "You can't be here then". But of course these heavy-handed tactics, like all the others, have failed. There is simply too much oil in too many places. "You cannot tell God's air where to flow and go, and you can't tell water where to flow and go," I was told by Debra Ramirez. It was a lesson she had learned from living in Mossville, Louisiana, surrounded by 14 emission-spewing petrochemical plants, and watching illness spread from neighbour to neighbour.

Human limitation has been the one constant of this catastrophe. After two months, we still have no idea how much oil is flowing, nor when it will stop. The company's claim that it will complete relief wells by the end of August - repeated by Obama in his Oval Office address - is seen by many scientists as a bluff. The procedure is risky and could fail, and there is a real possibility that the oil could continue to leak for years.

The flow of denial shows no sign of abating either. Louisiana politicians indignantly oppose Obama's temporary freeze on deepwater drilling, accusing him of killing the one big industry left standing now that fishing and tourism are in crisis. Palin mused on Facebook that "no human endeavour is ever without risk", while Texas Republican congressman John Culberson described the disaster as a "statistical anomaly". By far the most sociopathic reaction, however, comes from veteran Washington commentator Llewellyn King: rather than turning away from big engineering risks, we should pause in "wonder that we can build machines so remarkable that they can lift the lid off the underworld".

Make the bleeding stop

Thankfully, many are taking a very different lesson from the disaster, standing not in wonder at humanity's power to reshape nature, but at our powerlessness to cope with the fierce natural forces we unleash. There is something else too. It is the feeling that the hole at the bottom of the ocean is more than an engineering accident or a broken machine. It is a violent wound in a living organism; that it is part of us. And thanks to BP's live camera feed, we can all watch the Earth's guts gush forth, in real time, 24 hours a day.

John Wathen, a conservationist with the Waterkeeper Alliance, was one of the few independent observers to fly over the spill in the early days of the disaster. After filming the thick red streaks of oil that the coast guard politely refers to as "rainbow sheen", he observed what many had felt: "The Gulf seems to be bleeding." This imagery comes up again and again in conversations and interviews. Monique Harden, an environmental rights lawyer in New Orleans, refuses to call the disaster an "oil spill" and instead says, "we are haemorrhaging". Others speak of the need to "make the bleeding stop". And I was personally struck, flying over the stretch of ocean where the Deepwater Horizon sank with the US Coast Guard, that the swirling shapes the oil made in the ocean waves looked remarkably like cave drawings: a feathery lung gasping for air, eyes staring upwards, a prehistoric bird. Messages from the deep.

And this is surely the strangest twist in the Gulf coast saga: it seems to be waking us up to the reality that the Earth never was a machine. After 400 years of being declared dead, and in the middle of so much death, the Earth is coming alive.

The experience of following the oil's progress through the ecosystem is a kind of crash course in deep ecology. Every day we learn more about how what seems to be a terrible problem in one isolated part of the world actually radiates out in ways most of us could never have imagined. One day we learn that the oil could reach Cuba - then Europe. Next we hear that fishermen all the way up the Atlantic in Prince Edward Island, Canada, are worried because the Bluefin tuna they catch off their shores are born thousands of miles away in those oil-stained Gulf waters. And we learn, too, that for birds, the Gulf coast wetlands are the equivalent of a busy airport hub - everyone seems to have a stopover: 110 species of migratory songbirds and 75% of all migratory US waterfowl.

It's one thing to be told by an incomprehensible chaos theorist that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. It's another to watch chaos theory unfold before your eyes. Carolyn Merchant puts the lesson like this: "The problem as BP has tragically and belatedly discovered is that nature as an active force cannot be so confined." Predictable outcomes are unusual within ecological systems, while "unpredictable, chaotic events [are] usual". And just in case we still didn't get it, a few days ago, a bolt of lightning struck a BP ship like an exclamation mark, forcing it to suspend its containment efforts. And don't even mention what a hurricane would do to BP's toxic soup.

There is, it must be stressed, something uniquely twisted about this particular path to enlightenment. They say that Americans learn where foreign countries are by bombing them. Now it seems we are all learning about nature's circulatory systems by poisoning them.

In the late 90s, an isolated indigenous group in Colombia captured world headlines with an almost Avatar-esque conflict. From their remote home in the Andean cloud forests, the U'wa let it be known that if Occidental Petroleum carried out plans to drill for oil on their territory, they would commit mass ritual suicide by jumping off a cliff. Their elders explained that oil is part of ruiria, "the blood of Mother Earth". They believe that all life, including their own, flows from ruiria, so pulling out the oil would bring on their destruction. (Oxy eventually withdrew from the region, saying there wasn't as much oil as it had previously thought.)

Virtually all indigenous cultures have myths about gods and spirits living in the natural world - in rocks, mountains, glaciers, forests - as did European culture before the scientific revolution. Katja Neves, an anthropologist at Concordia University, points out that the practice serves a practical purpose. Calling the Earth "sacred" is another way of expressing humility in the face of forces we do not fully comprehend. When something is sacred, it demands that we proceed with caution. Even awe.

If we are absorbing this lesson at long last, the implications could be profound. Public support for increased offshore drilling is dropping precipitously, down 22% from the peak of the "Drill Now" frenzy. The issue is not dead, however. It is only a matter of time before the Obama administration announces that, thanks to ingenious new technology and tough new regulations, it is now perfectly safe to drill in the deep sea, even in the Arctic, where an under-ice clean up would be infinitely more complex than the one underway in the Gulf. But perhaps this time we won't be so easily reassured, so quick to gamble with the few remaining protected havens.

Same goes for geoengineering. As climate change negotiations wear on, we should be ready to hear more from Dr Steven Koonin, Obama's undersecretary of energy for science. He is one of the leading proponents of the idea that climate change can be combated with techno tricks like releasing sulphate and aluminium particles into the atmosphere - and of course it's all perfectly safe, just like Disneyland! He also happens to be BP's former chief scientist, the man who just 15 months ago was still overseeing the technology behind BP's supposedly safe charge into deepwater drilling. Maybe this time we will opt not to let the good doctor experiment with the physics and chemistry of the Earth, and choose instead to reduce our consumption and shift to renewable energies that have the virtue that, when they fail, they fail small. As US comedian Bill Maher put it, "You know what happens when windmills collapse into the sea? A splash."

The most positive possible outcome of this disaster would be not only an acceleration of renewable energy sources like wind, but a full embrace of the precautionary principle in science. The mirror opposite of Hayward's "If you knew you could not fail" credo, the precautionary principle holds that "when an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health" we tread carefully, as if failure were possible, even likely. Perhaps we can even get Hayward a new desk plaque to contemplate as he signs compensation cheques. "You act like you know, but you don't know."

Naomi Klein visited the Gulf coast with a film-crew from Fault Lines, a documentary programme hosted by Avi Lewis on al-Jazeera English Television. She was a consultant on the film


6) Tuberculosis: Mining Plays Bigger Role in TB in Africa Than Had Been Realized, Study Finds
By Donald G. McNeil Jr.
June 21, 2010

Dust-choked mine shafts, crowded working conditions and stifling hostels where up to 16 miners share a room - all conspire to make mining a more important contributor to tuberculosis in Africa than had been realized, a new study finds.

Rates of the illness have doubled in Africa over the past two decades, and have tripled in South Africa, which even in 1996 had the highest TB rates in the world. Until now it has been assumed that the increases were driven by Africa's high rates of infection with the AIDS virus, which weakens the immune system, helping latent TB become active.

But researchers from Brown and Oxford Universities, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of California, San Francisco, compared 44 African countries and found that even some with low rates of H.I.V. infection rates had high TB rates. When a country's mines shut down, tuberculosis often fell. The study appeared in The American Journal of Public Health.

The paper notes that many miners are migrant laborers who may go home only once or twice a year. Not only can they infect their wives and children, the authors found, but they stop seeing the mine clinic doctors who are familiar with tuberculosis and may interrupt taking their antibiotics, increasing the chances that they will develop a drug-resistant strain.

Gold seems to be the most dangerous product to mine, because workers in those deep, hot shafts breathe in more rock dust.


7) Regulators Failed to Address Risks in Oil Rig Fail-Safe Device
"In Senate testimony on June 9, Mr. Salazar made clear that Mr. Obama had no intention of pulling back permanently from deepwater drilling off the United States coast.
"'It was the president's directive that we press the pause button,' Mr. Salazar said. 'It's important for all of you on this committee to know that word - it's the pause button. It's not the stop button.'"
This article is by David Barstow, Laura Dodd, James Glanz, Stephanie Saul and Ian Urbina.
June 20, 2010
[Video and graphics accompany this article on]

It was the last line of defense, the final barrier between the rushing volcanic fury of oil and gas and one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.

Its very name - the blind shear ram - suggested its blunt purpose. When all else failed, if the crew of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig lost control of a well, if a dreaded blowout came, the blind shear ram's two tough blades were poised to slice through the drill pipe, seal the well and save the day. Everything else could go wrong, just so long as "the pinchers" went right. All it took was one mighty stroke.

On the night of April 20, minutes after an enormous blowout ripped through the Deepwater Horizon, the rig's desperate crew pinned all hope on this last line of defense.

But the line did not hold.

For days, technicians and engineers worked furiously to figure out why, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of previously unreleased notes scrawled by industry crisis managers in the disaster's immediate aftermath.

Engineers sent robotic submersibles 5,000 feet deep to prod the blind shear ram, nestled in the bosom of a five-story blowout preventer standing guard over the Macondo well.

They were driven on, documents and interviews reveal, by indications that the shear ram's blades had come within a few maddening inches of achieving their purpose. Again and again, they tried to make the blades close completely, knowing it was their best chance to end the nightmare of oil and gas billowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

"If that would've worked," a senior oil industry executive said of the blind shear ram, "that rig wouldn't have burned up and sunk."

Much remains unknown about the failure of this ultimate fail-safe device. It continues to be a focus of inquiries, and some crucial questions will not be answerable until the blowout preventer is recovered from the sea.

But from documents and interviews, it is possible to piece together some of the decisions and events that came into play when the Deepwater Horizon most needed the blind shear ram.

Engineers contended with hydraulic fluid leaks that may have deprived the ram of crucial cutting force. They struggled to comprehend what was going on in the steel sarcophagus that encased the shear ram, as if trying to perform surgery blindfolded.

They wondered if the blades had by chance closed uselessly on one of the nearly indestructible joints that connect drilling pipe - a significant bit of misfortune, given a decision years before to outfit the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer with just one blind shear ram when other rigs were already beginning to use two of them to guard against just this possibility.

But the questions raised by the failure of the blind shear ram extend well beyond the Deepwater Horizon.

An examination by The New York Times highlights the chasm between the oil industry's assertions about the reliability of its blowout preventers and a more complex reality. It reveals that the federal agency charged with regulating offshore drilling, the Minerals Management Service, repeatedly declined to act on advice from its own experts on how it could minimize the risk of a blind shear ram failure.

It also shows that the Obama administration failed to grapple with either the well-known weaknesses of blowout preventers or the sufficiency of the nation's drilling regulations even as it made plans this spring to expand offshore oil exploration.

"What happened to all the stakeholders - Congress, environmental groups, industry, the government - all stakeholders involved were lulled into a sense of what has turned out to be false security," David J. Hayes, the deputy interior secretary, said in an interview.

Even in one significant instance where the Minerals Management Service did act, it appears to have neglected to enforce a rule that required oil companies to submit proof that their blind shear rams would in fact work.

As it turns out, records and interviews show, blind shear rams can be surprisingly vulnerable. There are many ways for them to fail, some unavoidable, some exacerbated by the stunning water depths at which oil companies have begun to explore.

But they also can be rendered powerless by the failure of a single part, a point underscored in a confidential report that scrutinized the reliability of the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer. The report, from 2000, concluded that the greatest vulnerability by far on the entire blowout preventer was one of the small shuttle valves leading to the blind shear ram. If this valve jammed or leaked, the report warned, the ram's blades would not budge.

This sort of "single-point failure" figures prominently in an emerging theory of what went wrong with the Deepwater Horizon's blind shear ram, according to interviews and documents. Some evidence suggests that when the crew activated the blind shear ram, its blades tried to cut the drill pipe, but then failed to finish the job because one or more of its shuttle valves leaked hydraulic fluid.

These kinds of weaknesses were understood inside the oil industry, documents and interviews show. And given the critical importance of the blind shear ram, offshore drillers began adding a layer of redundancy by equipping their blowout preventers with two blind shear rams.

By 2001, when Transocean, now the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, acquired the Deepwater Horizon, it had already begun equipping its new rigs with blowout preventers that could easily accommodate two blind shear rams.

Today, Transocean says 11 of its 14 rigs in the gulf have two blind shear rams. The company said the three rigs that do not were built before the Deepwater Horizon.

Likewise, every rig currently under contract with BP, which had been renting the Deepwater Horizon, comes with blowout preventers equipped with two blind shear rams, according to BP. While no guarantee against disaster, drilling experts said, two blind shear rams give an extra measure of reliability, especially if one shear ram hits on a joint connecting two drill pipes.

"It's kind of like a parachute - it's nice to have a backup," said Dan Albers, a drilling engineer who is part of an independent investigation of the disaster.

But neither Transocean nor BP took steps to outfit the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer with two blind shear rams. In a statement, BP pointed to the need for the rig to carry its blowout preventer from well to well.

BP said space limitations on the Deepwater Horizon would have prohibited the company from adding a second blind shear ram to the existing configuration on the blowout preventer. But other experts told The Times that a second blind shear ram could have been swapped in for some other component.

In a statement, Transocean said BP would have been responsible for deciding whether the blowout preventer was equipped with one or two blind shear rams; BP said both companies would have been involved.

Whatever the reasoning, the result was that the Deepwater Horizon was left with just one blind shear ram to contain a blowout. And yet, The Times examination found, government regulations do not require any regular checks of several important elements of blind shear rams.

What's more, when those elements were put to the test after the blowout, some appeared to malfunction. In addition, interviews and documents show that after the crew abandoned the rig, the initial frantic efforts to find another way to activate the blind shear ram were hampered by the lack of submersibles with sufficient power.

Teams of engineers knew they were up against the clock. With each passing hour, more oil and well debris were rattling up through the blowout preventer under tremendous force, almost certainly chewing away at the blades of the blind shear ram - the very blades they still hoped and prayed would come to their rescue.

Vulnerable Devices

Last year, Transocean commissioned a "strictly confidential" study of the reliability of blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs.

Using the world's most authoritative database of oil rig accidents, a Norwegian company, Det Norske Veritas, focused on some 15,000 wells drilled off North America and in the North Sea from 1980 to 2006.

It found 11 cases where crews on deepwater rigs had lost control of their wells and then activated blowout preventers to prevent a spill. In only six of those cases were the wells brought under control, leading the researchers to conclude that in actual practice, blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs had a "failure" rate of 45 percent.

For all their confident pronouncements about blowout preventers (the "ultimate failsafe device," some called it), oil industry executives had long known they could be vulnerable and temperamental.

Rising five or more floors and weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds, these devices were daunting in their scale and complexity. There were hundreds of ways they could malfunction or be improperly maintained, tested and operated. Not only did they have to withstand extreme environments, they were relied upon to tame the ferocious forces often unleashed when drilling rigs penetrate reservoirs of highly compressed oil and gas.

They were also costly to maintain. An industry study last year estimated the price of stopping operations to pull up a blowout preventer for repairs at $700 per minute.

Those costs could be enough to draw the attention of Wall Street. Last August, during a conference call with investment analysts, Steven L. Newman, the chief executive of Transocean, was asked why his deepwater fleet had been paid for fewer days of drilling compared with earlier in the year.

Mr. Newman said the fleet had experienced a "handful of B.O.P. problems."

But he assured the analysts that the problems were not systemic. "They were anomalies," he said. "I would just leave it at that."

A draft of another industry-financed study this year contended that companies cut corners on federally mandated tests of blowout preventers. A copy obtained by The Times described a mentality of "I don't want to find problems; I want to do the minimum necessary to obtain a good test."

It also included this observation: "Often there is a great deal of pressure to run the B.O.P. stack before it is deemed fit for purpose by the experts who maintain and test the equipment."

When the report was finalized, those criticisms were omitted, although it is not clear why.

Last Finger in the Dike

Blowout preventers are designed to handle a range of well control problems. They come with several types of rams, giving rig workers flexibility if a situation escalates. But one component in particular has to work properly: the blind shear ram, the last finger in the dike during an uncontrolled blowout.

The danger is not merely theoretical.

More than three decades ago, the failure of a shear ram was partly to blame for one of the largest oil spills on record, a blowout at the Ixtoc 1 well off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Descriptions of the accident at the time detailed problems both with the shear ram's ability to cut through thick pipe and with a burst line carrying hydraulic fluids to the blowout preventer.

In 1990, a blind shear ram could not snuff out a major blowout on a rig off Texas. It cut the pipe, but investigators found that the sealing mechanism was damaged. And in 1997, a blind shear ram was unable to slice through a thick joint connecting two sections of drill pipe during a blowout of a deep oil and gas well off the Louisiana coast. Even now, despite advances in technology, it is virtually impossible for a blind shear ram to slice through these joints. In an emergency, there is no time for a driller to make sure the ram's blades are clear of these joints, which can make up almost 10 percent of the drill pipe's length.

The problems highlighted by these cases were common knowledge in the drilling industry.

But in two studies, in 2002 and 2004, one of the industry's premier authorities on blowout preventers, West Engineering Services of Brookshire, Tex., found a more basic problem: even when everything worked right, some blind shear rams still failed to cut pipe.

West's experts concluded that calculations used by makers of blowout preventers overestimated the cutting ability of blind shear rams, so-called because they close off wells like a window blind. Modern drill pipe is nearly twice as strong as older pipes of the same size. In addition, the intense pressure and frigid temperatures of deep water make it tougher to shear a pipe. These and other "additive pressures," the researchers found, can demand hundreds of thousands of additional pounds of cutting force.

Yet when the team examined the performance of blind shear rams in blowout preventers on 14 new rigs, it found that seven had never been checked to see if their shear rams would work in deep water. Of the remaining seven, only three "were found able to shear pipe at their maximum rated water depths."

"This grim snapshot," the researchers concluded, "illustrates the lack of preparedness in the industry to shear and seal a well with the last line of defense against a blowout."

Yet as the industry moves into deeper waters, it is pressing to reduce government-mandated testing of blowout preventers. BP and other oil companies helped finance a study early this year arguing that blowout preventer pressure tests conducted every 14 days should be stretched out to every 35 days. The industry estimated the change could save $193 million a year in lost productivity.

The study found that blowout preventers almost always passed the required government tests - there were only 62 failures out of nearly 90,000 tests conducted over several years - but it also raised questions about the effectiveness of these tests.

"It is not possible," the study pointed out, "to completely simulate" the actual conditions of deepwater wells.

Flawed Oversight

BP is the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico. It pumped 182 million barrels of crude oil from the gulf last year, and it is leading the charge to go deeper. Last fall, while working on another BP well, the Deepwater Horizon drilled a record 35,055 feet.

As with BP, the rig's owner, Transocean, was aware of the vulnerabilities and limitations of blowout preventers.

But they were not the only ones.

The Minerals Management Service knew the problems, too. In fact, the agency helped pay for many of the studies that warned of their shortcomings, including those in 2002 and 2004 that raised doubts about the ability of blind shear rams to cut pipe under real-world conditions.

In some cases, the agency did not act on the recommendations of its consultants. But in 2003, it adopted a regulation requiring companies to submit test data proving that their blind shear rams could work on the specific drill pipe used on a well and under the pressures they would encounter. Companies had to submit this information to get drill permits.

At least, that was the way it was supposed to work.

Last year, when BP applied for its permit to drill the Macondo well, its application was reviewed by Frank Patton, an engineer in the New Orleans office of the Minerals Management Service. With nearly three decades of experience working for the agency and the oil industry, Mr. Patton was fully aware of the blowout preventer's importance.

"It is probably the most, in my estimation, the most important factor in maintaining safety of the well and safety of everything involved, the rig and personnel," he testified last month during the Coast Guard's inquiry into the disaster.

Yet Mr. Patton said he approved BP's permit without requiring proof that its blowout preventer could shear pipe and seal a well 5,000 feet down. "When I was in training for this, I was never, as far as I can recall, ever told to look for this statement," he explained.

Mr. Patton said he had approved hundreds of other well permits in the gulf without requiring this proof, and BP likewise contends that companies have never been asked to furnish this proof on drilling applications.

In subsequent testimony, Michael Saucier, the agency's regional supervisor for field operations in the gulf, insisted that the regulation was enforced. But asked if anyone ensures that a blowout preventer functions properly, Mr. Saucier replied, "I don't know if somebody does or not."

Capt. Hung M. Nguyen, the co-chairman of the Coast Guard inquiry, seemed incredulous at the agency's deference to the industry on the most critical of safety devices.

"So my understanding," Captain Nguyen said, "is that it is designed to industry standard, manufactured by industry, installed by industry, with no government witnessing oversight of the construction or the installation. Is that correct?"

"That would be correct," Mr. Saucier said.

Adding Protection

As a consequence of this arrangement, the agency had little likelihood of knowing what engineering consultants had determined in 2000, when they were asked to assess the specific vulnerabilities of the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer. The consultants, hired by the blowout preventer's manufacturer, Cameron, zeroed in on what they considered the most serious weakness: the potential failure of the blind shear ram to close.

The consultants said the Deepwater Horizon's blind shear ram was vulnerable to "single-point failure." In other words, the breakdown of just one part could result in a catastrophic failure. The consultants focused on one of several T-shaped shuttle valves, which control the flow of pressurized hydraulic fluid that pushes the shear ram's blades together.

This particular valve has no backup, so if it gets stuck or leaks hydraulic fluid, disaster beckons. In fact, the consultants concluded that this one shuttle valve represented 56 percent of the blowout preventer's "failure likelihood."

"Care should be taken to ensure the highest reliability possible from this valve," they wrote.

In a written statement, BP said the consultants' report was used "to ensure that critical components and maintenance activities are clearly understood so that system reliability remains high." The company said a portion of the assessment not seen by The Times found that the blowout preventer's overall risk of failure was tiny. It declined to release that part of the report.

In the 61 days since the blowout, BP and Transocean have clashed over who was responsible for what on the Deepwater Horizon. In written responses to questions, BP and Transocean differed yet again on why the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer was not originally outfitted - or later converted - to have two blind shear rams.

Transocean said that BP, as the rig's operator, would have determined the blowout preventer's configuration. "Operators select B.O.P. stack configurations based on their anticipated operating environments, including water depths, seismic data, anticipated well conditions and the like."

BP, however, said it was a collaborative decision driven by "contractor preference and operator requirements." The company emphasized that blowout preventer reliability did not simply boil down to the number of blind shear rams. "These choices are risk assessed to provide the overall stack and system reliability to perform in a wide variety of situations."

In 2001, just as BP and Transocean were pressing the Deepwater Horizon into service, the Minerals Management Service was being warned against allowing deepwater rigs to operate with only one blind shear ram. The agency had commissioned a study that documented more than 100 failures during testing of blowout preventers.

"All subsea B.O.P. stacks used for deepwater drilling should be equipped with two blind shear rams," said the report, written by the SINTEF Group, a Scandinavian research organization that advises the oil industry and maintains detailed records on blowouts around the world.

The agency made no such requirement. Indeed, it waited until 2003 to require even one blind shear ram. By then, the industry had already started moving to two blind shear rams - although industry and government records show that roughly two-thirds of the rigs in the gulf today still have only one.

The benefit of two shear rams was examined last year in a report to Transocean. It estimated that while a blowout preventer with a single blind shear ram was 99 percent reliable, having two shear rams increased that reliability to 99.32 percent. Still, the study said, blowout preventers remain vulnerable to the same "single-point failures."

In 2003, BP and Transocean experienced firsthand the benefits of redundant blind shear rams. On May 21 at 4 a.m., the Transocean rig Discoverer Enterprise, working on a deepwater BP well, was violently jolted. The steel riser that connected the rig to the well had cracked apart in two places. A BP executive would later write that if there had been a blowout, more oil would have spilled in a week "than occurred during the whole of the Exxon's Valdez oil spill."

One of the blowout preventer's blind shear rams was triggered shortly after the jolt and worked as expected. But when a robotic submersible was sent down, it found the blowout preventer damaged. Workers then activated the second blind shear ram, giving an extra layer of safety.

On the other hand, BP and Transocean officials could have drawn reassurance from another close call that year, this one involving the Deepwater Horizon itself. On June 30, 2003, while drilling a 25,000-foot-deep well in the gulf, high winds and strong currents pushed the rig away from the well hole. The crew was forced to perform an emergency disconnect from the blowout preventer, which triggered the blind shear ram.

It worked perfectly. Whether it would have worked as perfectly in an actual blowout, or with a different type of drill pipe, was another matter. The following year, BP opted to remove a layer of redundancy from the blowout preventer. It asked Transocean to replace one of the blowout preventer's secondary rams with a "test ram" - a device that would save BP money by reducing the time it took to conduct certain well tests. In a joint letter, BP and Transocean executives confirmed that BP was aware that the change "will reduce the built-in redundancy" and raise Transocean's "risk profile."

The Deepwater Horizon was scheduled for a series of extensive maintenance checks later this year. The last time it was checked so thoroughly, records indicate, was in 2005, when significant problems with the blowout preventer were uncovered. The control panels on the rig that operate the blowout preventer acted strangely, giving unusual pressure readings and flashing unexplained alarm signals. A critical piece of equipment, the "hot line" that connects the rig to the blowout preventer, was "leaking badly," Transocean maintenance documents said.

As part of its assessment of the blowout preventer, Transocean hired West Engineering, which had a checklist of more than 250 components and systems to examine. It did not perform 72 of them, mostly for a simple reason: at the time, the Deepwater Horizon was operating in the Gulf of Mexico, and the blowout preventer was on the seafloor and therefore inaccessible.

According to a West Engineering document, one of those 72 items was verifying that the blowout preventer could shear drill pipe and seal off wells in deepwater. This checkup appears to be the last time an independent expert was asked to perform a comprehensive examination of the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer.

The rig's blowout preventer did get lots of attention from Transocean's maintenance workers. In January, as the Deepwater Horizon sailed toward the Macondo well site, technicians spent 145 hours repairing and checking the blowout preventer, records show. And the maintenance continued, almost daily, as the drilling began.

A Rich, Difficult Well

The Macondo project yielded a rich prize: one of the largest finds in the Gulf of Mexico. But the crew repeatedly struggled to maintain control of the well against powerful "kicks" of surging gas. They contended with stuck drilling pipes and broken tools. The job fell weeks behind schedule, costing BP millions of dollars in rig rental fees. In e-mail messages, BP engineers vented their frustrations, calling it a "crazy well" and a "nightmare well."

Yet in April, as BP prepared to seal the well for later production, the company took what numerous industry experts and fellow oil executives say were highly questionable shortcuts. These included using a well design that presented few barriers to high-pressure gas rising up; skipping a crucial $128,000 test of the quality of the cementing; and failing to install capping devices at the top of the well that could also have kept gas from lifting a critical seal.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asserted last week that the common thread behind all of these decisions was that they saved BP time and money but raised the risk of catastrophe. "BP has cut corner after corner to save $1 million here, a few hours or days there, and now the whole Gulf Coast is paying the price," Mr. Waxman said.

However, as Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, repeatedly told Mr. Waxman's committee last Thursday, many of these decisions were approved by the Minerals Management Service.

But if federal regulators did not see any problems, some crew members on the Deepwater Horizon appeared to believe that BP's decisions were, increasing the odds of a catastrophic blowout that only the rig's blind shear ram could stop. In testimony in the Coast Guard inquiry, Douglas Brown, the rig's chief mechanic, recalled an argument hours before the explosion between a BP official and Jimmy Harrell, a senior Transocean manager.

Mr. Brown recalled Mr. Harrell walking away, grumbling, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for."

Moment of Crisis

Minutes after the blast at 10:20 p.m. on April 20, Chris Pleasant headed for the bridge. As a subsea engineer who operated the blowout preventer, his first thought was to activate "the pinchers" with the ship's emergency disconnect system. The system is supposed to trigger the blind shear ram and then free the rig by disconnecting the riser.

Mr. Pleasant immediately noticed that something was amiss. An alarm on the control panel indicated that "the pressure had dropped" in the blowout preventer's hydraulics, he testified at the Coast Guard hearing. Without hydraulic pressure, the blowout preventer, and especially its blind shear ram, would be useless.

"I'm E.D.S.-ing," he told the rig's captain, referring to the emergency system.

The captain told him to hold off and calm down, he recalled. But Mr. Pleasant said he disconnected the system anyway. At first, he said, all seemed well. A control light switched from green to red, indicating that the blind shear ram had been activated.

But then he checked the panel's flow meters, which measure whether hydraulic fluid is actually flowing under pressure to the blowout preventer. The meters showed no flow, he said. At that moment, he realized the ship and crew were in terrible danger.

"I knew it was time to leave."

Yet even as emergency rescue operations began under the crippled Deepwater Horizon, the scramble was on to activate the blind shear ram in some other way. The chaos and confusion of those efforts emerge from testimony and documents, including the handwritten crisis team notes.

It was a race against time. The destructive force of oil, drilling mud and well debris blowing through the guts of the blowout preventer was sure to rapidly erode the shear ram's blades and chew away its seals, leaving it useless.

Some people thought they had days at most. One study considered it "highly unlikely" the blades and seals could withstand a blowout for even five minutes.

It would be 27 hours after Mr. Pleasant abandoned ship before engineers could make their next effort to trigger the blind shear ram, according to BP documents.

Within the first few days, engineers had already begun to wonder whether a leak of hydraulic fluid had crippled the ram. "May have had leak & have lost pressure," one entry reads. Using a robotic submersible equipped with a hydraulic pump, they injected seawater into the blind shear ram, hoping to drive its pistons and blades closed. But the pump did not have nearly the needed strength; it could not pump water fast enough to budge the blades.

Industry studies had highlighted the problem of submersibles without sufficient strength years earlier. Now, as BP and Transocean officials searched the globe for more powerful ones, engineers plotted out a plan essentially to trick the blind shear ram into closing.

When the rig's control panels fail, two separate backup systems, the deadman and the autoshear, are supposed to close the blind shear ram automatically. The deadman is designed to close the shear ram if the electronic and hydraulic lines connecting the rig to the blowout preventer are severed.

An underwater robot cut several lines at 2:45 a.m. on April 22.

Nothing happened.

The situation was rapidly deteriorating. "2 explosions around 3:30-4:00 this morning & rig listing at about 35 degrees," a crisis manager wrote. "High risk of sinking."

The autoshear is designed to trigger the blind shear ram if a rig drifts out of position and yanks its riser loose from the blowout preventer.

At 7:30 a.m., a submersible cut a firing pin on the blowout preventer, simulating the rig's pulling free. This time, the blowout preventer shuddered, as if struggling to come back to life. "L.M.R.P. rocked & settled," one note says, referring to the top half of the blowout preventer. But after a few moments, as oil continued to flow, it became clear that this, too, had failed.

Soon after, the Deepwater Horizon sank.

Stunning Discovery

The deadman, the autoshear and the underwater robots constitute the critical backup systems that have given regulators and oil industry officials great confidence that no matter what, they could always find a way to activate their last line of defense.

This was more an act of faith than a fully tested proposition.

The Minerals Management Service had never required any of these backup systems to be tested despite a report it commissioned in 2003 that said these systems "should probably receive the same attention to verify functionality" as the rest of the blowout preventer. The agency had also declined to take the modest step of requiring rigs to have these backup systems in place at all, though it had sent out a safety alert encouraging their use.

At a BP complex in Houston after the Deepwater Horizon's sinking, in a room called the hive with video screens displaying feeds from as many as a dozen underwater robots, engineers considered their options. BP officials theorized - perhaps based on the lower estimates of leakage in those first days - that the blind shear ram might have crimped, but not quite severed, the pipe.

The idea provided a comforting mental picture. Just a few more inches with the blind shear ram, the reasoning went, and perhaps it would snap shut and stanch the spewing oil.

So six days after the explosion, they began the fifth effort to close the blind shear ram. This time they sent down tanks of pressurized hydraulic fluid that a submersible could inject directly into the ram.

Shockingly, the blind shear ram's hydraulic system leaked, meaning pressure could not be maintained on its shearing blades.

This leak shocked engineers because the blowout preventer's hydraulic system was obsessively checked for leaks. "We see tests fail because the hydraulics leaked two drops," said Benton Baugh, a leading authority on blowout preventers. Indeed, the blind shear ram had been tested for leaks only hours before the blowout, and according to Transocean, no hydraulic leaks had been detected in the weeks before the blowout.

The underwater robots tried to find and fix the leak, but by now, leaks were springing up on nearly every component of the blowout preventer.

"Retighten leak," reads a note from 4 a.m. on April 26. At 4:45: "Retest & leak still present." Fifteen minutes later: "Retighten loose connection."

Some of those leaks appeared to be coming from shuttle valves leading to the blind shear ram - possibly the "single-point failure" that had been identified as the blowout preventer's biggest vulnerability back in 2001. Or the leaks could have come from shuttle valves that let hydraulic fluid from the robots reach the blind shear ram.

The leaks pointed to a gaping hole in the government's mandated leak tests. Those tests do not require rig operators to look for leaks in the connection points used by submersibles to activate a blowout preventer in an emergency.

Finally, seven long days after the explosion, operators of the underwater robots managed to repair the leak on the blind shear ram and apply 5,000 pounds per square inch of hydraulic pressure on its blades. This was nearly double the pressure it typically takes to shear pipe.

A BP report tersely described the results: "No indication of movement."

But engineers could not be absolutely sure. Without any way to see into the blowout preventer, engineers had essentially been operating blind, using the rate of oil flow, for example, to deduce the conditions inside.

Help came from Scott Watson, an expert in gamma ray imaging at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Gamma rays, a form of electromagnetic radiation similar to X-rays but higher in energy, might at least penetrate a few inches into the blowout preventer's thick steel walls. Then engineers might be able to see a device called a wedge lock, which slides into place behind the shear ram to hold it closed.

In mid-May, Mr. Watson ventured to the well site, where robotic submersibles were sent down to the seafloor with cobalt 60, a radioactive isotope that generates gamma rays. The team from Los Alamos was able to get a clear view of only one half of the blind shear ram. But the images showed one wedge lock fully engaged, meaning at least one half of the shear ram had deployed.

"I don't think anybody who saw the pictures thought it was ambiguous," Mr. Watson said.

It was a crushing moment.

Engineers realized that all their efforts to revive the blowout preventer had probably never budged the critical component at the machine's core, the blind shear ram. They had assumed that at some point early on, the blades had tried to close. They had hoped to close them all the way. But now, the gamma ray images showed that at least one blade was fully deployed, and they had run out of options for forcing the other one closed. Continuing to push on the ram's pistons with more hydraulic fluid would achieve nothing.

The last line of defense was a useless carcass of steel.

False Sense of Security

Barely three weeks before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, President Obama announced that he planned to open vast new tracts of ocean for oil exploration, including environmentally sensitive areas that for decades had been declared off limits by presidents from both parties.

Environmental groups were bitterly disappointed, but Mr. Obama said he had arrived at his decision after more than a year of study by his administration, including a careful weighing of environmental risks. Yet the administration's examination did not question the oil industry's confident assertions about its drilling technology. The well-known weaknesses of blowout preventers and blind shear rams simply did not make it onto the administration's radar, interviews and documents show.

Mr. Hayes, the deputy interior secretary, said senior officials were reassured, perhaps wrongly, by "the NASA kind of fervor" over the oil industry's seemingly "terrific technology." They took comfort in what appeared to be a comprehensive regime of regulations. Most of all, he said, they were impressed by the rarity of significant oil spills even as more of the nation's domestic oil supply was being drawn from ultradeep wells.

"The track record was good," he said. "The results were significant."

Not even environmental groups bitterly opposed to expanding offshore drilling were raising concerns about the industry's technology for preventing deepwater spills, he added. "We were not being drawn by anybody to a potential issue with deepwater drilling or blowout preventers."

As for the Minerals Management Service's own studies on the vulnerabilities and failings of blowout preventers, Mr. Hayes faulted the agency for not bringing them to the administration's attention. Long before Mr. Obama's announcement, Mr. Hayes said, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had asked the agency for a report describing the potential risks and benefits of expanding offshore drilling.

The report, 219 pages long, made no mention of blind shear rams. It barely mentioned blowout preventers. It did, however, assure Mr. Salazar that safety and engineering requirements were "extensive" and that blowouts were "very rare."

"We did not have red flags about a problem with the enforcement culture at M.M.S.," Mr. Hayes said. "We certainly have that now."

After the Deepwater Horizon blowout, Mr. Obama declared a moratorium on offshore drilling and ordered Mr. Salazar to look for ways to improve safety. Within weeks, Mr. Salazar came back with a long list of changes, most of them clearly responsive to weaknesses that industry and government studies had identified years before.

Mr. Salazar recommended, for example, that all blowout preventers be equipped with two blind shear rams - a step suggested to the Minerals Management Service in 2001. He recommended new rules to make sure rigs were equipped with the right kind of underwater robots and had emergency backup systems to activate blowout preventers - a step suggested to the Minerals Management Service in 2003.

He also urged a break from the agency's tradition of taking the drilling industry's word. From now on, he said, government inspectors should witness actual testing on blowout preventers. Rig operators, he said, should have to pay an independent expert to verify that their blowout preventers were properly designed and had not been compromised by modifications.

But Mr. Salazar stopped short of what Mr. Hayward, the BP chief executive, said was called for in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. "We need a fundamental redesign of the blowout preventer," Mr. Hayward testified last Thursday.

Still, J. Ford Brett, a drilling expert who contributed to Mr. Salazar's list of suggestions, cautioned that blowout preventers, whatever their design, "will not save you in every situation."

Mr. Salazar has yet to offer ideas for what to do if another blowout preventer fails thousands of feet beneath the sea. In the absence of a Plan B, he ordered his department to come up with new "deepwater well control procedures" in the next four months.

Already, though, pressure is building on the administration to let offshore drilling operations resume. Last month, Mr. Obama lifted the moratorium on drilling in shallow waters. But along the Gulf Coast, where drilling operations are responsible for an estimated 150,000 jobs, politicians are clamoring for an end to the deepwater moratorium, too.

In Senate testimony on June 9, Mr. Salazar made clear that Mr. Obama had no intention of pulling back permanently from deepwater drilling off the United States coast.

"It was the president's directive that we press the pause button," Mr. Salazar said. "It's important for all of you on this committee to know that word - it's the pause button. It's not the stop button."

Michael Moss and Henry Fountain contributing reporting.


8) For the Crew of a Drill Ship, a Routine Task, a Far-From-Routine Goal
June 20, 2010

ABOARD DEVELOPMENT DRILLER II, off Louisiana - The first thing that greets visitors to the Development Driller II is a large official sign that bears the name pencil pushers have given the well being drilled by this mammoth floating rig: OCS-G 32306.

But the rig's tool pushers and other workers - and, by now, the rest of the world - know that this is not just another deepwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of two relief wells meant to put an end, once and for all, to the undersea gusher that has been spewing oil into the gulf for two months.

Working 12-hour shifts for 21 days at a stretch in the thick gulf air 40 miles offshore, the crew may have gotten into its familiar drilling routine, but conversations with family and friends back home constantly reinforce the importance of the work.

"They know that it is us, that we need to stop it," said Mickey Frugé, the senior representative on board for BP, the oil company responsible for the leak and for this well, being drilled at a cost of about $100 million. "People are asking us questions. All we want to do is get the oil stopped."

So far the DD II, as everyone refers to the rig, is about halfway there, in terms of depth, having drilled 10,000 feet below the surface of the gulf since the operation began May 16.

In one of the first visits by journalists to the scene of the disaster, a small group of reporters watched Saturday as, a few feet away, a team of roughnecks and others prepared a tool that would be used to lower several thousand feet of steel casing to the bottom of the hole, where it would form part of the well's permanent lining.

It was hard work on the slick steel of the drilling floor below the rig's 220-foot-high derrick, surrounded by soaring lengths of drill pipe stacked vertically like drinking straws on a lunch counter. Pipe and tools were maneuvered into position by heavy-duty lifting equipment, operated from inside a small cabin on one side of the floor. Inside the air-conditioned cabin, working joysticks and seated in an overstuffed chair, the operator was the only one of the crew who could possibly be comfortable.

And amid the finest drilling equipment that a half-million-dollar-a-day rig can buy, the workers resorted to wrapping the tool in duct tape and rags to protect it until it was lowered into the well.

The other relief well, being drilled by the Development Driller III nearby, got started earlier and, at 15,900 feet, is closer to the target area of the damaged well, 18,000 feet down. Once one or both relief wells reach the target - perhaps by late July, Mr. Frugé said, barring storms, major mechanical failures or other problems - heavy drilling mud will be pumped into the damaged well, followed by cement, to plug it permanently. Drilling experts both inside and outside BP insist the approach will work.

None of the 172 workers on board the DD II need to be reminded of that leaking well and the blowout on April 20 that caused it - as well as the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Nine of the 11 workers killed that day worked for Transocean, the company that owned the Horizon and owns the two relief well rigs.

"Some of the guys on board here did know some of the guys that were on it," said Wendell Guidry, drilling superintendent of the DD II.

But reminders are ever-present anyway, just half a mile away through the haze. There, at the spot where the Deepwater Horizon once sat, a production ship collects oil from a cap on the damaged well 5,000 feet below, flaring the accompanying natural gas like a fire-breathing monster.

Just beyond that sits another vessel that, since last week, has been burning both oil and gas from the well through a device that creates a rosette of flame so large and hot that workboats constantly douse the equipment with plumes of water. And off in the distance, black smoke rose from two controlled burns of oil on the surface.

There are so many vessels in the area - Mr. Frugé said he counted 66 one day recently, including oil skimmers, supply boats and support ships for the robotic submersibles working at the seabed - that coordinating their movements is a major concern. It is a far cry from the DD II's previous task, drilling wells in BP's Atlantis oil field about 150 miles away, where at most there might be one or two vessels nearby.

From a drilling standpoint, Mr. Frugé said, there was little difference between this well and a normal one. And the pace of drilling is the same, said Eric Jackson, who as a tour pusher - a kind of deputy tool pusher, or drilling manager - was leading the crew working on the casing tool.

"It's business as usual," said Mr. Jackson, wearing, like everyone, a hard hat and clad, like nearly everyone, in magenta Transocean coveralls. With preshift meetings and other work-related activities, he said, "sometimes you have 13 to 14 hours a day invested in what you're doing."

Once the well gets near completion - it is currently being drilled vertically, but soon will be redirected at an angle toward the runaway well - special instruments will be used to make sure it hits its target.

Mr. Frugé said the operation relied on specialists with expertise in what is called "measurement while drilling," as well as on what he referred to as "rock doctors," geologists who have studied the underground formations of stone and sand, to know where the drill bit was at all times and where it had to go.

The work continues round the clock, and setbacks do occur. In the early hours of Saturday a 5,500-pound hydraulic "tong," a tool used to hold lengths of pipe as they are screwed together, broke. It took three hours to get it repaired, said Elton Jack, a contractor working on the casing.

Once the 18-inch string of casing is run down to the bottom of the well - one of successively narrower strings - cement will be pumped down to fix it in place, and then the next section of the well can be drilled. Mr. Frugé estimated that drilling would begin again in about two days.

Mr. Guidry said that although there was another well doing the same task just a few thousand feet away, there was little sense of competition between the two rigs.

"Whichever one gets there first," he said. "The main thing is we try to keep the guys focused."

Like the Deepwater Horizon and all other drilling rigs, the DD II has its own blowout preventer, an enormous stack of safety valves designed to keep the well under control. The device was lowered to the seabed through the rig's "moon pool" - an opening in the deck below the drilling floor - early in the drilling process.

Given the disaster that occurred just a half mile away when the Deepwater Horizon's preventer failed, Mr. Guidry, who has 27 years of experience and has worked on the DD II since 2005, said that avoiding a blowout with the relief well was even more of a concern than usual.

"Always on our mind," he said.


9) Panel Is Unlikely to End Deepwater Drilling Ban Early
"But Mr. Reilly said that ending the moratorium would require that the industry adopt safer drilling techniques and that the government regulatory agencies, particularly the Minerals Management Service, a part of the Interior Department, be markedly strengthened. 'Those things would have to happen faster than past history would suggest is possible,' he said. He also noted that a Congressional hearing last week revealed that the five major domestic oil companies relied on a common and clearly inadequate plan for responding to a major offshore spill."
June 21, 2010

WASHINGTON - The bipartisan commission named by President Obama in May to study the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the future of American offshore drilling will hold its first formal meeting in mid-July at the earliest, most likely delaying the delivery of its final report into next year, a co-chairman of the panel said in an interview.

The co-chairman, William K. Reilly, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under the first President Bush, also said it was unlikely that the panel would recommend the lifting of the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling before it completes its report. Such a move would require profound changes in industry practice and government oversight that cannot be done that quickly, Mr. Reilly said in his first extensive remarks on the commission's work.

The oil industry, its supporters in Congress and Gulf Coast officials have called for swiftly lifting the moratorium, saying the ban was causing severe economic hardship and that drilling could resume safely under tighter interim rules. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and some other administration officials had given the industry hope that the ban would be lifted as soon as new regulations were in place.

But Mr. Reilly said that ending the moratorium would require that the industry adopt safer drilling techniques and that the government regulatory agencies, particularly the Minerals Management Service, a part of the Interior Department, be markedly strengthened.

"Those things would have to happen faster than past history would suggest is possible," he said. He also noted that a Congressional hearing last week revealed that the five major domestic oil companies relied on a common and clearly inadequate plan for responding to a major offshore spill.

"I would be very wary of encouraging more deepwater development until I was confident that the response plans were more realistic," Mr. Reilly said. "They are not realistic at this time."

Mr. Reilly has taken a leave from the board of ConocoPhillips, one of the oil companies whose chief executives testified before Congress last week.

Mr. Obama set a six-month deadline for the panel to produce its report, but the clock does not begin until the seven-member body officially meets. The group's start has been set back by delays in naming the other five members and by a complicated White House vetting process for staff.

Mr. Obama named the two co-chairmen, Mr. Reilly and former Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, on May 22. But the White House did not designate the other five members until June 14. They are Frances G. Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Terry D. Garcia, an executive vice president at the National Geographic Society; Cherry A. Murray, dean of the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Frances Ulmer, chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The panel as yet has no staff or budget, although the White House has requested $15 million from Congress for the group.

Mr. Obama said that the mandate of the commission was to find the causes of the BP disaster and to make recommendations for preventing such accidents in the future. Mr. Obama was explicit, both in public comments and in private statements to Mr. Reilly and Mr. Graham, Mr. Reilly said, that the United States would depend for the foreseeable future on oil and natural gas from beneath the gulf. The investigative panel is not charged with determining whether offshore oil development can be conducted safely; rather, its mission is to show how it can resume with greater safeguards.

"The president was clear," Mr. Reilly said. "He was not inviting us to revise his energy policy. He said he was much more concerned to look ahead than look backward."

Mr. Reilly said he expected his group to examine the reliability of blowout preventers, the toxicity of dispersants, the quality and frequency of inspections, and the possible need for simultaneous relief wells in deep water.

Officials with experience in earlier investigative panels said that it was essential to understand why the Deepwater Horizon accident happened before meaningful recommendations could be made about future actions.

Bruce Babbitt, who served on the commission that investigated the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and later was President Bill Clinton's interior secretary, said the entire culture of the offshore drilling industry would have to change.

"You have to strengthen regulation," Mr. Babbitt said, "but there has to be some way of implanting some safety DNA across the entire industry."

The Three Mile Island panel's recommendations led to the creation of a nuclear safety institute that trains plant operators and inspectors. Mr. Babbitt said something similar may be needed in the oil and gas industry.

He also said that the Minerals Management Service should be blown apart, not merely restructured, as Mr. Salazar has proposed. Environmental regulation must be taken out of the Interior Department and transferred to the E.P.A., Mr. Babbitt said.

Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, urged the new panel to follow the 9/11 group's path by writing a narrative history of the accident. That is the best way, he said, to understand the factors that led to the disaster and to generate public and political support for the changes that will be needed to prevent a recurrence.

"To explain is not necessarily to excuse," Mr. Zelikow said, "but it is the first step in understanding."

He said that in studying previous disasters, like the shuttle Challenger explosion, he learned that government agencies and private corporations engaged in cutting-edge endeavors, like deep-sea drilling or space exploration, over time begin to "normalize" and discount the risk.

"Here is an industry increasingly obliged to engage in ultra-hazardous activity," Mr. Zelikow said. "I wouldn't look just at BP. They are functioning in a much larger institutional culture. Everyone who worked on this rig has worked on other projects, maybe at other companies. What you want to discover is if there is something distinct and pathological about all of these institutions, or something distinctly pathological about BP."

He added that it might be impossible for Mr. Reilly and the other commissioners to avoid the question of whether deepwater drilling should be pursued at all before recommending how it could resume, even though that matter was beyond their presidential mandate.

"I don't think you can answer one question without answering the other," Mr. Zelikow said.


10) Monitoring the Manatee for Oil Ills
June 20, 2010

APALACHICOLA, Fla. - To the people who know her best, Bama is a skittish creature: smart, a good traveler, does not mix much with her peers. On a recent afternoon, Allen Aven watched her from an anchored pontoon boat, counting the time between her breaths.

"This is a good environment for her," Mr. Aven said, looking around the busy, narrow waterway of Scipio Creek, across from the Up the Creek Raw Bar. "It's sheltered from wave action. There's lots of vegetation, and it's relatively fresh water."

A large gray snout belonging to Bama, a manatee, broke the water's surface.

"Breath," Mr. Aven yelled.

Mr. Aven is part of a team of researchers from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama who are monitoring Bama and other manatees - massive aquatic mammals that are on the list of endangered species - for signs that they are being affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Aven and Nicole Taylor gathered water samples and recorded that Bama appeared to be eating regularly - she weighs in at around 1,200 pounds - and was not discolored, a sign of infection.

Until recently, biologists believed that manatees rarely ventured west of peninsular Florida, where, so far, no oil has appeared. But in 2007, Ruth Carmichael, who leads the Dauphin Island team, began documenting a relatively large summer migration of manatees to Mobile Bay, Ala. - leading them directly into and through the path of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak. From a couple of dozen to as many as 100 come to Mobile Bay for the summer, out of a total North American population of 5,000, she said.

As oil spreads into the bay, these travelers are now in danger of having their migratory routes and habitats contaminated, putting at risk a group that Dr. Carmichael believes may represent the scouts for the larger population.

"They're not here accidentally," Dr. Carmichael said. "Maybe they're coming because of habitat loss in Florida. So even though they're a small part of the overall manatee population, a loss of even one or two animals represents a large percentage of those in this group."

Using VHF radio transmitters and aerial surveillance, the researchers monitor the manatees' positions and the progress of the oil contamination, looking for signs of unusual behavior. But even if the manatees avoid oil in the bay, by the time they are ready to return to Florida in winter, their route back may contain deadly concentrations of oil and dispersants.

Because they raise their snouts to breathe, any surface chemicals or fumes would affect them directly. "These animals don't know to avoid it," Dr. Carmichael said.

The manatees' size makes rescues extraordinarily difficult, involving Sea World, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal Geological Survey and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Rescuers have to lift the animals by hand onto specially equipped boats, then transfer them by truck to a rehabilitation center in Tampa, Fla.

Jim Helland, a Mobile, Ala., businessman, has been trying to raise money for rescues. "We can't save all the wildlife," he said. "But maybe we can save these few." But at most they could rescue a handful in a season, and even these might swim back into the oil when released, Dr. Carmichael said.

"So much is unknown," she said. Manatees eat 10 percent of their body weight in sea vegetation per day. If oil clings to the sea grass, the animals could eat it, get the oil on their bodies and pass it to others by contact. After a 1983 oil spill in the Persian Gulf, between 38 and 60 dugongs, a species that is similar to manatees, died from exposure.

For Bama, that exposure is yet to come. She left her winter home near a nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Fla., just before the spill, and researchers expected her to head for Mobile Bay, as she did last year. But after quickly reaching Apalachicola, nearly 200 miles east, she has stopped. She may sense trouble in the waters ahead, Dr. Carmichael said.

As Mr. Aven recorded Bama's movements, a mullet jumped in the placid water behind her. The manatees, it seems, and the researchers, like the rest of this coast, are still waiting to see where and in what quantities the oil is going to wash in. "We've been bracing ourselves for this for eight weeks," Mr. Aven said. "I wake up every morning and say, 'Is this going to be the day?' "


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