“Figuratively and literally, we’re dying”:
Reposted verbatim from Stuart Smith’s site, where he lawyers up on behalf of the people of the Gulf Coast, fights for his homeland, and disseminates information nobody else will touch. Now that’s a good lawyer. Original link here.
February 12, 2011 5:17 pm
An open letter to members of the national media:
I know many of you with national voices read this blog, because you’ve been kind enough to tell me so. I’ve raised a glass or two with some of you, and traded barbs with others. It’s been an honor to, on occasion, be included in your work. Your reporting and attention is valued, and that’s why I’m addressing you personally and collectively in this post.
We’re dying down here on the Gulf – and we need your help to restore our way of life and our culture.
The economic devastation is hitting everyone from waitresses to fishermen to restaurateurs to property owners. Figuratively and literally, we’re dying. My neighbors and some of my clients are reporting severe illnesses directly related to the spill. We have names, we have case studies. We even have some local reporters with the courage to cover what is fast becoming a health crisis among cleanup workers and residents living in coastal communities. But local coverage, compelling as it is, isn’t enough.
We need the attention of the national media, and we need it right away.
From the beginning, human health effects of the spill have largely been pushed aside both by the federal government and the national media? We were hyper-focused on “who’s to blame?” and “when will they cap the well?” and how economic damages would be assessed. All the while, cleanup workers and coastal residents were inhaling toxic fumes – touching and, in some cases, swimming in contaminated Gulf waters. And soon enough the oil and dispersants washed ashore, into our food chain and our population.
Government officials continue to say we’re all-clear – particularly when it comes to seafood safety. But these are the same BP “partners” who sold you the story of 5,000 barrels a day and rubber-stamped the use of the toxic dispersant Corexit. Let’s not forget when the U.S. Coast Guard became BP rent-a-cops and setup “safety zones” around heavily impacted areas to prevent journalists, photographers and other prying eyes from seeing the damage. Or when there were no underwater oil plumes, until of course, there were. Or the “vast majority of oil is gone” message, until that was laughed out of the debate. I don’t know about you, but I see a pattern here.
We’re awash in oil, dispersant and misinformation.
They tell us about the number of seafood tests they’ve conducted. But the bottom line is this: You can do a million of the wrong tests, and it won’t tell you a thing. You can sniff every damn shrimp in the Gulf, but if the toxins can’t be detected by smell, you’ll find nothing. If you control the test (and the government does) and you control the “safe levels” – you can declare anything safe.
For example, the consumption level for shrimp is set at FOUR. That’s four shrimp a week. Four? In New Orleans, that’s not a consumption level, that’s a shrimp cocktail – and a tiny one at that.
Look, four weeks after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and began the BP oil spill, some of us were saying that the real story was human health. In fact, my firm and others stepped in to prevent BP from demanding that cleanup workers sign legal waivers (so they couldn’t sue when they got sick or injured). Believe me, BP knew the risk early on. They just didn’t issue a press release.
But it seems the national media is still reluctant to shine a light on human health impacts. The congressional focus has remained on “who’s to blame?” and the media is focused on the claims process. It’s like our homes were firebombed, and the first responders were the arson investigators and insurance agents – rather than firemen with a hose.
A month after the explosion, I wrote that “human health is the real oil spill issue,” but was told “it’s too early to know, we have no test results.” (see http://oilspillaction.com/human-health-is-the-real-oil-spill-issue) Well, after the testing showed high-level toxic exposures, we were told “well, it’s not a story, because nobody is actually sick.” (see http://oilspillaction.com/no-safe-harbor-on-gulf-coast-human-blood-tests-show-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-exposure) Now that people are getting sick all over the Gulf, we’re told “well, how do we know the spill caused it?”
Come on. We all know what it will take to make post-spill human health a story: When people start dying in large numbers. And make no mistake, that’s the next phase if we don’t address it, now. My colleagues, the researchers who work with me and with our environmental clients, are almost never wrong – that’s why they have been bullied around by government agencies hoping to intimidate independent researchers (see http://oilspillaction.com/alert-is-the-national-oil-spill-commission-trying-to-intimidate-our-researchers). Even that got more coverage than most health issues.
Some of you have explained to me that your news organizations have their limits, and the implication is that a few hundred million in advertising and all those Important People who know your bosses are quick to discredit the “local” research. I’ll bite my tongue on that.
I applaud the media outlets that have been diligent and courageous enough to challenge the campaign of misinformation coming from BP and the federal government. To those news organizations that are reluctant to take a stand, I urge to get back to doing what has made the American media the envy of so many countries around the world: Seek the truth and hold responsible parties accountable (whoever they may be).
We’re really not so far from the heady media days of the Vietnam War and Watergate, and this unprecedented disaster demands an equally courageous response from our national media.
Please get back to doing what you do best!
© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved
archival oil spill & spillionaire-related LINKS:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst.: First study of dispersants in Gulf spill suggests a prolonged deepwater fate (“The decision to use chemical dispersants at the sea floor was a classic choice between bad and worse,” Valentine said. “And while we have provided needed insight into the fate and transport of the dispersant we still don’t know just how serious the threat is; the deep ocean is a sensitive ecosystem unaccustomed to chemical irruptions like this, and there is a lot we don’t understand about this cold, dark world.” … “The good news is that the dispersant stayed in the deep ocean after it was first applied,” Kujawinski says. “The bad news is that it stayed in the deep ocean and did not degrade.”)
HuffPo: Spill commission concludes dispersants are an acceptable ‘tradeoff’ (“Independent studies on all aspects of the spill have been hampered by both a lack of funding and the withholding of critical data from researchers by government agencies and BP. Even as the report was released and commissioners holding forums and press briefings along the Gulf Coast, record amounts of crude continue to roll in with the tides. On Thursday, January 13, a record 17,000 lbs of crude was collected from the surf on one small section of beach in the Ft. Morgan area of Alabama.”)
CNN Fortune: BP ‘An accident waiting to happen’ (EXCELLENT: “When Tony Hayward took over BP in 2007 – after the oil giant had experienced a series of calamitous accidents – he vowed that safety would be his top priority. So how did he come to preside over one of the worst industrial disasters in history? A Fortune investigation reveals a saga of hubris, ambition, and a safety philosophy that focused too much on spilled coffee and not enough on drilling disasters.”)
hey. watch this clip from the movie The Secret of Nikola Tesla and ask yourself: Is there technology available to us, that should’ve been perfected a long time ago, instead of the inventors being murdered or otherwise discredited? Cars that run on water or air, perhaps? Solar energy? Tides and wind? Anything that costs a lot up front but doesn’t require a steady supply of quantifiable and taxable fuel you have to keep purchasing from the world’s most powerful companies? …
KPBS.org: Green crude is the new gold (“Bill Gates, the Rockefellers, the Department of Energy and the USDA have put hundreds of millions of dollars into refining algae, or “green crude oil,” which is made by Sapphire Energy in San Diego. … Former BP Oil executive CJ Warner is now president of Sapphire. She says green crude is chemically identical to ancient crude oil drilled from the ground now—so it can be “dropped-in” to any gas engine as is.”)
ISN: The Mean Green Military Machine (“Last October, the US Navy unveiled the first military vessel to run on “eco-friendly fuel.” The 49-foot command ship can carry up to 24 troops and runs entirely on a combination of algae-based fuel and diesel. As the Wired report notes, this came months after the US Military launched its “Green Hornet” jet in celebration of Earth Day – an “unmodified F/A-18 Super Hornet [using] a 50/50 blend of camelina-sourced biofuel and traditional JP-5 fuel.” In 2009, General Dynamics created a military ground vehicle based on hybrid technology.”)
YouTube: Turning algae into oil the NASA way –
“BP didn’t invent cellulosic biofuels,” she says. “And BP didn’t build the first pilot plant or demonstration unit. BP will, however, construct the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic biofuels facility and begin to commercialize this industry at scale.”
Last year, BP paid Verenium $98.3 million for all of its cellulosic interests, including the Jennings plant, its cellulosic ethanol technology and the joint venture’s Global Biofuels Technology Center in San Diego, where research and development is conducted for technologies to convert perennial grasses to biofuels. BP is currently operating the Jennings facility, where it is streamlining its production process before constructing a commercial-scale plant in Highlands County, Fla. Ellerbush says she believes the $400 million project, operated under the name Vercipia Biofuels, will be the first operating commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the U.S. when it comes online in 2013. The 36 MMgy Florida plant will convert perennial grasses, including energy cane, napier grass and high-biomass sorghum to ethanol, using biological fermentation technology.”
HuffPo: Joshua Kors – Oscar Nominee Josh Fox speaks out about oil lobby’s efforts to crush his film (“If it weren’t for the Halliburton loophole, the oil companies wouldn’t be able to do what they’re doing. Now, thanks to the loophole, they’re allowed to blast toxins into the ground without reporting it or even telling us what chemicals they’re using. If we don’t know exactly what’s being injected into our land, how can we know whether it’s safe or not?… When I started making the film, most congressmen weren’t even aware of that loophole. Hopeful now more of them will get involved in this fight.”)
Factory Farm Map (excellent site)
“Local fishers complain that BP contractors simply cut the boom from the anchors, leaving the hazards in waterways. The fishers say their nets have snagged and been torn by the anchors, and boat propellers have become tangled in the ropes that come up from the anchors and float to the surface. … BP has maintained that its contractors removed all the anchors that weren’t embedded deep in sediment or had not long ago drifted away.”
National Geographic: Gulf spill dispersants surprisingly long-lasting (Who’s surprised? We’re not surprised. We’ve been saying it all along. Every Valdez surivor knows it.)
American Free Press: Fluoride is Poison, says Dartmouth doctor (we know, #tinfoilin, but — gross:)
“Now, a massive study of young children who have been subjected to fluorosilicic acid fluoridation in their New York communities shows that the water additive does not improve kids’ teeth and could even be poisoning them. Until that time, most people were under the impression that water fluoridation used sodium fluoride, rat poison, a by-product of aluminum manufacturing. Glasser, however, pointed out that more than 75 percent of the U.S. water fluoridation communities have been using the even more toxic fluorosilicic acid since the late 1970s. Glasser was the first to stress the excessive toxicity inherent in using the hydrofluorosilicic acid residue that is removed from the industrial pollution control “scrubbers” in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers. The chemists refer to this material as silicofluorides and have now conclusively shown that the fluoridation material is linked to other heavy metal toxins that are found in drinking water—lead, arsenic, aluminum and cadmium for example.”
YouTube: BP tries to escape compensating Gulf residents –
Guardian UK: Julian Assange – the teen hacker who became insurgent in information war (“Our initial idea was, ‘Look at all those people editing Wikipedia. Look at all the junk that they’re working on,” he wrote. … “Surely all those people that are busy working on articles about history and mathematics and so on, and all those bloggers that are busy pontificating about … human rights disasters … surely those people will step forward, given fresh source material, and do something?’ No. It’s all bullshit. It’s all bullshit. In fact, people write about things, in general (if it’s not part of their career), because they want to display their values to their peers, who are already in the same group. Actually, they don’t give a fuck about the material.“)
ActivistPost: Micro Drones to fly surveillance missions over the U.S. (“micro” as in 18-lb. supersized to secret, R&D-funded “dragonfly-sized”)
The brothers own Koch Industries, an energy conglomerate ranked by Forbes magazine as the second-largest privately held company in the United States, and are known to underwrite the Cato Institute and other libertarian and conservative causes.
Common Cause earlier this month asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether two U.S. Supreme Court justices who have attended past political retreats hosted by the Koch brothers should have recused themselves from a landmark campaign finance ruling last year by the high court.
The two justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, sided with the court’s 5-4 majority in the Citizens United decision that lifted many of the restrictions once placed on campaign contributions by corporations and labor unions.
Raw Story: Sundance film [“Hot Coffee”] shows corporate influence on justice (“Those front groups that fundraise, people think, because of their names, that they are citizens’ groups. They don’t know that they are front groups for corporations trying to elect or defeat a judge. It’s a very scary process.”)
Congressman Raul Grijalva: Grijalva calls on White HOuse to release unredacted documents in response to oversight request on Federal response to Horizon spill (“The Dec. 3 response from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), housed at the Department of Commerce (DOC), included heavily blacked-out portions of conversations between government officials, in some cases extending to entire pages.”)
POGO also criticized the White House for glossing over uncertainties in the scientific data regarding the size of the oil spill in order to appear more in control of the situation. An early draft from NOAA recommended the White House define the size of the spill as 3 million to 5 million barrels. The White House chose 4.9 million barrels rather than appear uncertain of the size of the spill. … In June, the Center issued a report revealing first responders to the Deepwater Horizon blowout did have a grasp of the severity of the spill. Coast Guard logs indicate officials estimated up to 8,000 barrels a day. The early leak estimates showing an awareness of the coming catastrophe were absent from the White House’s timeline of the oil spill.”
WWL.TV: More Gulf sea turtles die in wake of spill than in past 20 years [600 turtles … that we know of. -ed.] (“More than 90 percent of North American sea turtle nesting happens on Florida’s beaches. Five of the planet’s seven species of sea turtles are found in the state. Four of those — green, hawksbill, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley — are considered endangered, or at risk of becoming extinct. The fourth, loggerheads, is listed as threatened, or likely to become endangered.”)
“The Patriot Act drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments–the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments–and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well. The Patriot Act also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.” (…. and on and on, this article outlines ALL the freedoms compromsed with passage of this most Fascistic act… -ed. )
“Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”–Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), voicing his concerns over Congress’ passage of the USA Patriot Act (Oct. 25, 2001)
Thom Hartmann: Here’s how you know that Big Business runs America –
“For the first few years it was let’s take the conservative take on things. And then after a few years it evolved into, well it’s not just the conservative take on things, we’re going to take the Republican take on things which is not necessarily in lock step with the conservative point of view.
“And then two, three, five years into that it was, we’re taking the Bush line on things, which was different than the GOP. We were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece. It was just what Bush says goes on our channel. And by that point it was just totally dangerous. Hopefully most people understand how dangerous it is for a media outfit to be a straight, unfiltered mouthpiece for an unchecked president.
Bruce Lee: Be Water My Friend – using your mind to transform matter –
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