Sep 18 2011

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Three Environmental Disasters in 2010


“In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill … All these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.” Alexander King, Bertrand Schneider – founder and secretary, respectively, of the Club of Rome – The First Global Revolution, pp.104-105

There were many significant events in 2010 that have changed the social and environmental landscape of the U.S and the world. The environmental disasters began on January 12, 2010 when the largest earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Haitians and destroyed their homes and cities, combined with the added destruction of a hurricane that further devastated the country in August of 2010. 1.3 million Haitians still remain homeless and tens of thousands are now dying of Cholera, Tuberculosis, and starvation. Worldwide charitable efforts have aided the Haitians however, the initial poverty of the Haitian people prior to the quake and the impotence of the Haitian government to help its citizens have caused even greater hopelessness for the Haitian people. The American news media has said little about the ongoing problems in Haiti, because (in part) of their reporting on America’s own problems, and because of actions of the former G.W Bush administration, who deposed the well loved and democratically elected leader Aristide in a military coup in 2004, replacing President Aristide with an American puppet military regime.

The following news excerpt is from DemocracyNow.org. from 2004. NYT Exposes U.S. Role in Coup of Haitis Aristide: The New York Times has revealed new details of the US role in the overthrow of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. In a lengthy expose published Sunday, former US ambassador Brian Dean Curran says the White House and State Department actively ignored his complaints over the Haiti activities of the International Republican Institute a government-funded group with close ties to the Bush administration. Over Curran’s objection, the IRI convened training sessions for anti-Aristide groups at a Santo Domingo hotel. These meetings were financed by the US government. On one occasion, two key leaders of the armed rebellion that eventually toppled AristideGuy Phillipe and Paul Accelin were staying at the same hotel where the meetings took place. Curran was removed from his post in July 2003 six months before his term was set to expire. Otto Reich, who served as Assistant Secretary of State during President George W. Bush’s first term, said Curran was replaced because QUOTE “we did not think the ambassador was carrying out the new policy in the way we wanted it carried out.” Aristide was deposed just months later, on February 29th 2004, in what he called a modern-day kidnapping in the service of a coup d’etat backed by the United States.”

Through their individual generosity and concern the American people responded to the earthquake disaster with heartfelt charity raising over 50 million dollars in small donations made by millions of elementary and high school students and adult Americans, whose hearts went out to the Haitian people. Within days of the Haitian earthquake 13,000 American troops were sent to Haiti to prevent political upheaval, under the guise of humanitarian aid. The following paragraphs are from the official Whitehouse.gov website as of January 21st 2010. “As of January 21, approximately 13,000 military personnel (10,000 afloat and 3,000 ashore) are a part of the relief effort. The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) continues to provide assistance in support of Leogane and Petit Goave. They currently have 356 Marines ashore. The remaining assets from 2/82 Brigade Combat Team and equipment will complete deployment to Port-au-Prince by January 22. They currently have 3,062 soldiers on ground.”

How ironic it was to see such quick response by the U.S government, when it took more time for the Bush and Obama administrations through FEMA not the National Guard or the Military to respond to the greatest disasters in U.S history, Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill in New Orleans. The Haitian people are virtually left to survive on their own individual resolve. The U.S main stream media has all but ignored the Haitian crisis since Bill Clinton (the American charity spokesman) became embroiled in the U.S Midterm Elections, travelling from city to city to stump for Democratic candidates. Former President G.W Bush was also a designated spokesman, but because of the hatred of the Haitian and American people towards him he was seen as more of a liability than an aid in raising funds or support for the Haitian relief effort, and completely dropped out of the news media’s focus, until the release of his book on November 8, 2010.

The next global disaster was the Chilean earthquake, which happened on February 27th, 2010. The following statement appeared that day in BostonGlobe.com.

“At 3:34 am local time, today, February 27th, a devastating magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. According to Chilean authorities, over 400 people are now known to have been killed. The earthquake also triggered a Tsunami which is right now propagating across the Pacific Ocean, due to arrive in Hawaii in hours (around 11:00 am local time). The severity of the Tsunami is still not known, but alerts are being issued across the Pacific.  As the destruction and aftershocks were reported the New York Times reported several days later: “More than 1.5 million people have displaced by the quake, according to local news services that quoted the director of Chile’s emergency management office. In ConcepciĆ³n, which appeared to be especially hard hit, the mayor said Sunday morning that 100 people were trapped under the rubble of a building that had collapsed, according to Reuters&.The quake Saturday, tied for the fifth largest in the world since 1900, set off tsunami waves that swamped some nearby islands before moving across the Pacific. Hawaii began evacuations before dawn, but by early afternoon there  more than 15 hours after the earthquake first struck 6,500 miles away  the fears of a destructive wave had passed. Countries including Japan and the Philippines were on alert and ordered limited evacuations in anticipation of waves hitting Sunday. ” Within weeks of the Chilean earthquake little more news attention was given to the plight of the Chilean people until later in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were trapped alive in a mine collapse and all survived for over 60 days as the world media reported daily on their plight. All miners were rescued and became instant world celebrities. One miner was brought to the United States to appear on the David Letterman Show where he did an Elvis impersonation.

On April 20th 2010, and explosion on the British Petroleum Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killed 11 workers and caused the largest oil spill and natural disaster in U.S history. The following timeline is an excerpt from a report published on August 5, 2010 by News Inferno.com stating that;

Transocean Ltd., the owner of the doomed Deepwater Horizon oil rig, had safety problems on at least three other Gulf of Mexico platforms prior to the April 20 explosion that spawned the BP oil spill. According to a report in The New York Times, those concerns prompted Transocean to commission risk management company Lloyds Register to investigate the safety culture of its North American operations just a month before the disaster.

According to the Times, Transocean owns 14 rigs now operating in the Gulf and 139 others in locations around the globe. As part of its investigation, Lloyds Register looked into the safety culture on Deepwater Horizon, three other Gulf rigs the Development Driller II, the Marianas, and the Discoverer Clear Leader and at Transocean’s Huston, Texas headquarters. The review was commissioned in response to a series of serious accidents and near-hits within the global organization, according to the Times. Among Lloyds findings: ” Nearly 40 percent of workers interviewed on the four rigs said that past problems were typically investigated by company officials strictly to attribute blame. ” About 43 percent of workers on the four rigs expressed fears of reprisals for reporting problems, with about 54 percent of Deepwater Horizon workers citing such fears. ” Some workers said the company was systematically deferring maintenance to save money. A report from TPM Muckraker, by Jullian Eliot published April 30th, 2010, creates a timeline of events that happened from the first day of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. April 20: At around 10 p.m. a fire is reported on the central time on the Deepwater Horizon rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. and under lease to energy giant BP, according to an April 21 statement from Transocean. There is no mention of any possible spill. Eleven workers are killed.”

April 22: With the media coverage of the explosion focusing on the missing workers and, initially, not about the possibility of a spill, AFP notes the possibility of an environmental disaster: the rig had been drilling 8,000 barrels of oil per day, and had 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board. “Worst case scenario, there is a potential environmental threat,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Katherine McNamara tells the wire service. BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, says BP will do “everything in our power to contain this oil spill and resolve the situation as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible.” The company said it dispatched a team to deal with the oil that dispersed from the original blast. April 23: The day after the rig sank, the AP reports: “Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said Friday morning that no oil appeared to be leaking from the well head at the ocean floor, nor was any leaking at the water’s surface. However, Landry said crews were closely monitoring the rig for any more crude that might spill out. April 24: In the late afternoon, the AP reports that the Coast Guard has reversed its earlier statement that there was no oil leaking. The wire service quotes Guard officials as saying an estimated 1,000 barrels of oil per day are coming out of the well head on the ocean floor, 5,000 feet under water. Landry says that the oil may have been pouring out since the rig sank on April 22. BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, speaking about options on responding to the spill, says, “Over the next several days, we should determine which method is the best one to follow” April 26: BP says in a press release it is ‘accelerating offshore oil recovery and continuing well control efforts. Improved weather “combined with the light, thin oil we are dealing with has further increased our confidence that we can tackle this spill offshore,” says BP chief exec Tony Hayward. April 27: After underwater robots fail to stop the flow of oil, the coast guard floats the idea of containing pools of oil in containment booms and then setting it on fire. Meanwhile, BP says it will begin drilling a new relief well near the spill site later in the week; the process could take months.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the Energy and Commerce committee, writes a letter (.pdf) to the chairman of BP notifying him of an investigation into “what the companies knew about the risks of drilling at the site and the adequacy of the companies’ response plans.” He charges that “[a] striking feature of the incident is the apparent lack of an adequate plan to contain the spreading environmental damage. The two companies involved, BP Exploration and Production, Inc., and Transocean Ltd., are attempting to contain the oil spilling from the well with techniques that have never been used before at these ocean depths.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announce an investigation of the explosion.

April 28: Late Wednesday, the Coast Guard announces that 5,000, not 1,000, barrels a day of oil are spilling, citing a new National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration estimate. At the same press conference as the Coast Guard announcement, BP COO Doug Suttle disputes the new estimate and argues that a newly discovered leak does not change the rate of the spill. “He showed a diagram showing where the leaks are and said the newly discovered leak is upstream from the previous leaks,” the AP reports. ” April 29: Suttle acknowledges on the Today Show that the government’s new estimate may be accurate. In a Rose Garden statement, Obama says the Administration will use “every single available resource” to address the spill, including the military. He also says BP will have to pay the costs.

This was the beginning of the 89 day environmental nightmare that caused a 2700 sq mile oil slick covering the Gulf Coast waters from Louisiana to Florida. It became President Obamas Katrina. Nearly 3 weeks passed before the White House issued a statement of any significance with a plan and an erroneous estimate of damage. The oil spill was estimated by independent scientists and experts at approximately 220,000 barrels per day were gushing from the spill. The world watched 24hr televised (supposed) live camera footage of the spill from the underwater base of the broken well pipe. Anyone could see that 5000 barrels a day was a ridiculously low estimate of the oil gushing out of the hole in the sea floor. The following excerpts are from the Whitehouse.gov website. On April 20th 2009, BP was granted an exemption from the new offshore oil drilling regulations implemented as one of the first official acts by President Obama. Ironically exactly one year later, BP was responsible for the largest oil spill in U.S History.

The Following articles were a few of the press reports that came out in 2010 on this Gulf oil disaster. Deepwater BP Oil Spill Posted on May 06, 2010 at 09:56 AM EST, on the Whitehouse.gov website. Federal departments and agencies are responding to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill: RestoreTheGulf.gov RestoretheGulf.gov is the official federal portal for the Deepwater BP oil spill response and recovery. This site provides the public … and platforms are underway. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Since the Deepwater BP Oil Spill, EPA has provided full support to the U.S. Coast Guard and is monitoring and responding to potential public health and environmental concerns … Business Administration SBA is making low-interest loans available to small businesses in the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi suffering financial losses following the April 20 Deepwater BP oil spill that shut down … The White House, Office of the Press Secretary : For Immediate Release June 14, 2010

President Obama Announces Members of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission. WASHINGTON Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to complete the membership of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling:

Daily reports were presented on the Network News outlets by BP and Coast Guard spokesmen, as all news reporters were banned from filming the oil spill or interviewing the BP workers cleaning up the shorelines. The EPA issued a warning to BP to cease its use of the oil dispersant Corexit, which was sprayed over the 2700 miles of oil slick. BP ignored the EPA order and continued the wide spread use of the dispersant which caused the death of millions of sea life and evaporated into the atmosphere causing toxic oil filled rain to drop on Gulf Coast population of millions. Medical reports were released by doctors who were treating thousands of Gulf residents for biological reactions to the highly toxic Corexit dispersant and the fumes from the oil.

In a last ditch effort and long delayed response by the White House President Obama met with the executives of BP and negotiated a settlement of 40 billion dollars be set aside by the oil company for sea and coastal repair and reimbursements to the hundreds of thousands of people in the gulf who lost their jobs and companies all dependent on the fishing, restaurant and vacation industries. No network news reports came from the Gulf Coast as Americans were being prepped and goaded by the media to spend their last remaining cash and credit on Christmas shopping. Another Gulf Coast report stating the independent and federal findings of the remaining uncontained oil and its impact on the gulf region was Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 11:58 AM Updated: Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 4:52 PM by

Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune “More than 8,500 response workers are still cleaning up oil along the coast, federal officials say, with 93 miles of shoreline experiencing moderate to heavy oil impacts, including 86 miles in Louisiana. Another 483 miles of shoreline have light to trace oil impacts, including 226 miles in Louisiana. The biggest change in the new report is in the estimate of the amount of oil that was turned into tiny droplets by chemical dispersants. The original report said 16 percent of the oil had been naturally dispersed, while 8 percent was chemically dispersed.”

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” –Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister


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