Monday, May 31, 2010

Ankit Shukla

"Its five in the morning, I can see the first rays of sun trying to penetrate through this grey sky, trying to change its color to dark blue, and declare the dawn, but it's strange, dawn and dusk both have the same color, both have that same murky feel about them, but how different is their nature. One exemplifies the end, while the other symbolizes a new beginning... but is that end the end of hopes or end of sorrows... or is that beginning the beginning of a new life or new difficulties which lie ahead... we can't ever figure it out... it's all written and that's what destiny is. Every beginning can be a new end and every end can be a new beginning."
- Ankit Shukla

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Violent galaxy mergers can feed supermassive black holes. Theoretically, the result is intense emission from regions near the supermassive black holes, creating some of the most luminous objects in the universe. Astronomers dub these Active Galactic Nuclei, or just AGN. But for decades only about 1 percent of AGN seemed to be associated with galaxy mergers. New results from a premier sky survey by NASA's Swift satellite at hard (energetic) X-ray energies now solidly show a strong association of AGN with merging galaxies, though. The hard X-rays more readily penetrate dust and gas clouds in merging galaxies and reveal the presence of emission from the active black holes.
Click image for large size.

In fact, these panels show the location (circled) of Swift X-ray detected supermassive black holes in a variety of merging galaxy systems. The optical images are from the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. At top center is NGC 7319 and the compact galaxy group known as Stephan's Quintet."

Jerome Groopman, "Hope"

"Hope gives us the courage to confront our circumstances and the capacity to surmount them."
- Jerome Groopman

Chris Floyd, "Memory, Meanings, Moments and Madness"

"Memory, Meanings, Moments and Madness:
Wanderers In No Man's Land"
by Chris Floyd

"Zachary Mason's remarkable new novel, "The Lost Books of the Odyssey," is based on a grain of fact. Before the stories of the Iliad and the Odyssey were crystallized and canonized in the books of Homer sometime in the 8th century B.C., various (and often conflicting) tales of the Trojan War and its heroes had floated around in various forms for hundreds of years. Some of these variants survive in fragments of other ancient works, like ghostly echoes of alternative universes. Mason's intriguing fictional conceit is that he is translating one of these: a "pre-Ptolemaic papyrus excavated from the desiccated rubbish mounds of Oxyrhynchus" which "contains forty-four concise variations on Odysseus's story." And that is what he proceeds to offer us: 44 chapters, 44 alternative (and conflicting) universes, where some tale of Odysseus - or, occasionally, the whole arc of his life - is presented in sharply etched, psychologically penetrating modern prose. (No faux-epic stylizations.) Sometimes there are gods and magic; sometimes Odysseus lives in a world of the grimmest realism.

It's not my intention here to give a literary review of the book. I just wanted to highlight two passages which seem to me to have some particular relevance for our current political situation. Both come from a chapter called "The Iliad of Odysseus." This is the longest chapter in the book, and one of the most "realistic." As Odysseus puts it toward the end of the section: "There are, as far as I have seen, and I have seen much, no gods, no spirits and no such thing as witches, but I seem to be the only one who knows it."

In this chapter, Odysseus begins as a rather soft, dreamy young prince, more given to the songs and stories of the bards than to the role of warrior-king for which his father is rigorously - and violently - molding him. In time, the young man learns to fake his way through the role, and when Agamemnon comes calling for troops to take to Troy, Odysseus is given command of Ithaca's armies. An attempt to get out of the war by faking an epileptic fit fails; instead of being rejected as sickly, Odysseus is now considered touched by the gods. In any case, he goes to war. He avoids combat whenever he can, without losing face, often by following in the wake of the berserking Achilles, and picking off his wounded victims. Achilles is killed after five years, and Odysseus, desperate to end the war, bribes a maid to kill Helen of Troy, in the hope that scotching the cause of the war will bring it to a close. It doesn't; a massive battle ensues in which both sides are almost completely destroyed, Troy is sacked, and only a few Greeks manage to slink away in their boats.

But Odysseus has already walked away in the midst of the battle, and begins wandering down the Ionian coast. He takes on the persona of a bard, singing for his supper. He is skillful, becomes popular, well-paid - and begins to incorporate tales of the Trojan War into his repertoire: fanciful stories filled with the gods and spirits that he has never seen, with many passages celebrating the great cunning and courage of the warrior Odysseus. After 10 years of enriching himself, he goes home, is greeted with amazement and celebration - which he finds tedious: "I just wanted it to end so I could spend my remaining years with sword and harp on the wall, making loans at high interest and fathering sons." The first relevant passage comes early in the chapter, when young Odysseus is still hoping to become a bard, only to be slapped down by his father, who scorned such a lowly fate for his son, insisting instead that he become a warrior: "My father and his men would say things like, 'We are here to live the stories, not compose them!' Sing, Muses, of the wrath of god-like shit-for-brains, hereditary lord of the mighty Coprophagoi, who skewered a number of other men with his pig-sticker and valued himself highly for so doing. (In a handy footnote, Mason reminds us that "Coprophagoi" means "excrement eaters.")

Here we have the essential foundations of militarism, which, along with greed and fearmongering, has become the organizing principle of modern American society. (And innumerable other societies since the days of Troy.) Another passage in the chapter speaks to the guiding mindset of our ruling elites, and their forbears down through the ages: "Many times I was on the verge of just leaving and sailing back to Ithaca. I did not flee only because I would have lost all face with my father and our subjects. As Father and I know, and as we try not to remind them, there is no good reason for our subjects to pay their taxes, row our ships, fight our battles or tip their caps to us other than tradition and the threat of violence (which is implicit, nicely civilized and glossed over in the older, better families like mine). Much as I loathed the war, there was at least the prospect of a tolerable life afterward ... I would rather have died than come down in the world."

And here we have our elites in a nutshell. Their power and privilege - though real enough in their deadly application- are, at their core, empty shams, and entirely illegitimate. Arthur Silber* wrote eloquently on this theme just a few days ago, in a piece outlining the need - and great effectiveness - of non-violent non-cooperation with evil. You should read the whole piece, and follow the links, to get the full scope of the piece, but here is an excerpt: "It is only the slavish obedience to authority, the reluctance and refusal to break the goddamned rules and "cause trouble," that makes the elites and their hold on power possible. Take away that obedience, take away the refusal to deny the legitimacy of the ruling elites and their demands that all the rest of us support them in their rule, and they have nothing. The elites know that; most Americans don't ...

The ruling class is corrupt, immoral, deadly, and entirely illegitimate. Their greatest fear is that you will realize it. My statement that the ruling class has "nothing" if and when a critical number of people refuse to obey (i.e., when they choose non-cooperation) doesn't contradict my observations concerning the weapons our rulers could use against those who don't obey. The "nothing" refers to the ultimate foundation of the elites' power; the weapons they possess represent only one aspect of the day-to-day operations of that power, as terrible as that particular aspect is. And it cannot be overemphasized that peaceful non-cooperation can be enormously effective against even the most vicious of totalitarian regimes. The power of "No" is far, far greater than most people ever permit themselves to understand."

Of course, the matrix of myth, legend and history from which the stories of Odysseus arose has much deeper resonance than the political exigencies - now lost to us forever - surrounding the Trojan War. Even at a remove of thousands of years, these tales are still imbued with numinous power, conveying and representing a heightened awareness of many aspects of human reality, states of being by which we are seized, or enlightened, or harrowed, or destroyed, as the ancient heroes were possessed and guided, and often ruined, by the gods.

Odysseus is one of the best representatives of human consciousness, that strange spirit of knowing and confusion that arises from the ever-churning matrix of biological and neurological activity that makes up our physical being. Odysseus the wanderer is a man of many identities, a man of deception and self-deception, of keen insight and rash impulse. Perhaps the most telling of his false personae is the one he used in talking and scheming his way past the Cyclops. My name, he tells the giant, is Nobody (or No Man). He hopes by this to forestall any revenge for blinding the creature, who, when asked who has wounded him so grievously, can only cry, "Nobody! Nobody did this to me!"

Here Odysseus is true to his role as an avatar of consciousness - both in his attempt to escape responsibility for his actions, and, inadvertently, in revealing the empty core at the center of that furiously firing neurological matrix. Who are you, really? Are you Odysseus, a king, a warrior, an ally, a husband, a son, a wanderer, a killer, a hero? Lay each torn scrap of defining - and reductive - identity aside, or have them torn from you by fate, and who are you? "I am Nobody," says the man; I am just this "I am," making himself up as he goes along, in a world of chaos and danger, with the eternal night of death looming at every turn.

All share this condition; there are no elites. No amount of power or privilege can lift you above it, or above another single living soul. We are all wanderers, bound in a universal union of separateness, made bearable and given meaning only by the moments, the numinous moments - of genuine connection with our fellow wanderers (each locked in the mystery of their own unique, ever-shifting coalescence of neural networks, hormonal flows, memory and perception), of insights and flashes of awareness into some aspect of reality that seize us (through nature, art, books, thought and many other venues) and carry us, for a moment, into a higher, deeper apprehension of being.

As Odysseus learned, you cannot force the gods to give you these moments, you can't call them forth at will. But you can stand ready for them, you can try to stay open to them, to recognize them when they come, and feel their quickening power. And you can strive to make the networks of association that we wanderers form, on large scales and small, to be more conducive to these connections, to foster their occurrence and their recognition, to remember and honor them, and pass on their good effects - to enhance whatever good that has emerged from the countless millennia of breakage and mutation that have molded, so imperfectly, our human kind.

But we live today in networks given over to death and domination - rapacious, aggressive, degraded and degrading. Networks which actively, at times gleefully destroy the moments of connection and awareness, and instead seek to impose ever-more reductive and false definitions of reality, which then must be defended with manic ferocity against the mysterious flows and eruptions of being. We are now hurtling a thousand miles an hour in the wrong direction, deeper into death and degradation, which are no longer resisted, or lamented, or regretted, or even debated, but embraced and celebrated, in a sickening inversion of the "civilized values" that our degraded, militarist-corporatist system purports to defend.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than in America's current political state, where a warmongering, corporate-coddling political hack who claims the tyrannical power to assassinate anyone on earth or imprison them for life without charges or trial is somehow considered a "progressive," a "liberal," or, god help us, a "socialist" ... while his most vocal and powerful opponents rail against him for not being even more degraded, elitist and death-ridden.

Like Mason's Odysseus, we live in an age where murderous pig-stickers and corporate Coprophagoi demand that we tip our caps to them, sing songs of their goodness and glory, and praise the hideous system they have made. For generations now, we have taught our children that this is the way the world should be, this is the only form of reality - this crabbed, cruel, diminished, hollowed-out travesty.

The power of "No" that Silber speaks of is the most positive, productive response you can make to such insanity. Saying no to cooperation with evil, in whatever form it takes, on whatever scale - including the scale of our own chaotic, wandering, mysterious psyches. What we need, desperately, is more and more of the power of No - and the determination in live in - and live for - those moments of connection and awareness that the free flow of being can provide."

Dr. Jakob Ruchti

"History cannot be permanently falsified;
the myth cannot stand up to the scrutiny of research;
the sinister web will be brought into the light and torn to pieces,
however artfully it has been spun."
- Dr. Jakob Ruchti, 1915

Ed Encho, "Finis"

by Ed Encho

"You can't handle the truth!"
-Colonel Nathan R. Jessep

"This is the end, sorry it won't be more eloquent but it is the end nonetheless. Ed Encho is now retiring from blogging, immediately and permanently. Times have changed and I have changed as well. After a pretty extended hiatus brought on primarily by health concerns led to my thinking a bit more and realizing that I was leaving the 'left' or what sad remnants of it. The left/progressive farce in this now fully functional corporate fascist society has done nothing but to enable the rot and I have gone on long enough now and have decided to leave this altogether. It was no one event, person, argument or relationship gone bad, it was just the whole accumulated weight of all of it. In ending a longtime collaboration with certain friends over the past week as well as disagreements over how to best move forward and reach new people using new technologies with others, I have just decided that this is just one big waste of fucking time. I have been involved in this for too long now and like the famous scene at the end of "The Outlaw Josey Wales" where Fletcher tells him that the war is over, well I reckon so.

Of course I am not the only one to decide this is basically no longer worth dealing with. There have been far more influential folks than my humble ass who have moved on out of frustration, notably the great Paul Craig Roberts who in his recent farewell to arms piece: "Good-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It" summed it up perfectly:

"There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest. Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it. Truth is an unwelcome entity. It is disturbing. It is off limits. Those who speak it run the risk of being branded "anti-American," "anti-semite" or "conspiracy theorist." Truth is an inconvenience for government and for the interest groups whose campaign contributions control government. Truth is an inconvenience for prosecutors who want convictions, not the discovery of innocence or guilt. Truth is inconvenient for ideologues."

Roberts' lament rings as true as any in this rotting nation of sheep, TV lobotomized zombies, snake mean racists, Jesus juicers and willfully ignorant lemmings. There is zero desire to hear the truth and with the reflating of the latest economic bubble that only benefits the Wall Street looters, the ongoing demagoguery over the latest idiotic would be terrorist allowing for more and more police state powers and the complete failure of the American public to stop the endless state of war that is bankrupting us both morally and financially. What is the point?

The worst being of course the perpetuating of the myth of 9/11 that changed everything forever, and it's never coming back. Whatever remains of the 9/11 Truth Movement has been thoroughly infiltrated by disinformation agents and profiteers and the 'left' has ZERO nerve to do anything but try to recycle Bush and Cheney's talking points for political gain. We hear highly paid shills for American fascism like Glenn Beck getting rich while conning millions to buy his products and ghost-written tripe pontificate about his ridiculous 9/12 movement that has spawned misled faux patriot groups and a huge Astroturf political arm of the criminal Republican party in the co-opted Tea Party Movement. All this while there is an abysmal failure of any rational counter force from the left or from antiwar groups about a 9/10 movement and in restoring our civil liberties to the day prior to the American Reichstag Fire... It has always been 9/11 and thereafter and it will always be used to justify more war, torture, detentions without trial and now the ability to strip dissenting Americans of their citizenship, I could never imagine even Bush and Cheney being able to get away with pissing away taxpayer money on naked body scanners in airports from which TSA goons can ogle the private partes of prepubescent teenage girls and boys. There is NO opposition to any of this either from the Teabaggers or the champaign socialists on the fake 'left', at least none that is more effective than a mosquito on a rhino's ass. The most abysmal failure comes from the 'left' in their collective failure to articulate or offer any sort of alternative vision to counter to the well funded, organized American Gladio on the right. They are so intent on waging their petty cultural jihads, distorting the words of cranks and conducting political correctness purity purges to bother with either pragmatism or reality.

To see people who once screamed for George W. Bush to be strung up by his balls (which he truly deserved) now become total apologists for the Obama administration and the vile continuation of the same policies just because it is their team in the White House makes me want to vomit. If something was wrong under Bush then it sure as hell is wrong under Obama and by definition every U.S. President is a war criminal so in not recognizing this and speaking out then they are all hypocrites of the worst type. Perhaps even worse than the hypocrisy is the general lack of any sort of a spine when it comes down to engagement with the enemy. The left of old, the labor left would have showed up at fascist Tea Party rallies enmasse and there would have been blood, today's social issue driven left is content to tote an occasional sign around, sign up for or send money to the corrupt Democratic Party. A good argument could be made than when the backs of the old left was busted first by McCarthyism, then by Reaganism and finally what was left whipped into acquiesence by the corporate DLC and when that was allowed it opened the door to the ongoing slide into the abyss, both politically and economically. I cannot denounce the 'left' strongly enough for being woefully ineffective, delusional and no help in staunching the bleeding. When the definitive history of the fall of the United States is written there will be a serious analysis of the role of the enabling 'left' in the implosion.

The truth about 9/11 will never be seriously challenged, the establishment won't allow it to happen because no matter what the truth is the resulting police state, the power of controlling it and the exponentially growing surveillance and control systems is just too seductive to ever be reigned in. The United States of America is a failed state, choked with corruption, pollution and poverty - the rest of the world is ahead of the curve as civil unrest grows as essential services are cut to bail out the criminal scum, the politicians and the casino banks for destroying their economies. It isn't going to get any better here either but we as Americans are too easily made to accept the unacceptable, for those who are angry there are controlled pressure valves like the Tea Party and the progressive blogosphere. There is lots of noise and clamor but nothing changes does it?

Again, I excerpt from Paul Craig Roberts farewell piece: "The American corporate media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government. America's fate was sealed when the public and the anti-war movement bought the government's 9/11 conspiracy theory. The government's account of 9/11 is contradicted by much evidence. Nevertheless, this defining event of our time, which has launched the US on interminable wars of aggression and a domestic police state, is a taboo topic for investigation in the media. It is pointless to complain of war and a police state when one accepts the premise upon which they are based.

These trillion dollar wars have created financing problems for Washington's deficits and threaten the U.S. dollar's role as world reserve currency. The wars and the pressure that the budget deficits put on the dollar's value have put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. Former Goldman Sachs chairman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is after these protections for the elderly. Fed chairman Bernanke is also after them. The Republicans are after them as well. These protections are called "entitlements" as if they are some sort of welfare that people have not paid for in payroll taxes all their working lives.

With over 21 per cent unemployment as measured by the methodology of 1980, with American jobs, GDP, and technology having been given to China and India, with war being Washington's greatest commitment, with the dollar over-burdened with debt, with civil liberty sacrificed to the "war on terror," the liberty and prosperity of the American people have been thrown into the trash bin of history. The militarism of the U.S. and Israeli states, and Wall Street and corporate greed, will now run their course. As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off."

Yes, the worst is coming. I have read my history and know all too well the signs of the rising tide of totalitarianism, the parallels between the present day U.S. of A and Weimar era Germany are astonishing, only here it is much, much more subtle but the ongoing economic collapse is setting the stage just perfectly for the real new Hitler, he or she just hasn't emerged yet to capitalize on the seething resentment and desperation that our failed political system and woefully ignorant citizens have created. A prophetic and favorite warning of mine came from Earling Carothers 'Jim' Garrison, the only man to attempt to bring about a serious legal action over the assassination of President Kennedy: "In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can't spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can't look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won't be there. We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line."

It was roughly forty years ago that Garrison uttered those words. Today, May 12, 2010 how can any reasonable person even attempt to deny the truth in that statement? It is the lack of those reasonable people that have now driven me to leave this behind as well. Life is too short to continue to expend considerable energy and waste considerable time in trying to make any sort of a meaningful difference - there is no desire to hear the truth and no sense of shared duty to transcend the petty differences that control what passes for discourse in this diseased country.

So now I take my leave, I have better things to do than to tilt at windmills with the rest of you and would strongly advise you all to think very seriously about how you want to spend your remaining days. Don't fail to take into consideration that today is the best day of the rest of your lives, each day will be incrementally worse because of the abject failure to do anything to stop the war machine and the fascist state that provides the lynchpin for it.

So as I ride off into the sunset I offer a tip of my hat to my good friends, I want to especially note Diane and Gottlieb, Elian, Woody, Ed and Bob as those who I will miss most, your hearts were always in the right place and may you continue to fight the good fight despite our differences. To all of the others who I have worked with and who are of varying political affiliations, intellectual backgrounds and long term goals I salute your efforts as well. There are too many of you to name here and for the sake of brevity I won't. The one thing in common is that I am proud of the time that we were able to work together and honored to have done so. As Reggie Hammond once famously remarked..."Y'all Be Cool". This is Ed Encho signing out."

There is absolutely nothing I disagree with in this article. But I'm not going anywhere,
if anything, a much sharper edge on things may reveal itself. Stick around... - CP

The Daily "Near You?"

Seattle, Washington, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

The Lighter Side: "Red Wine Increases Women's Sexual Appetite?"

"Red Wine Increases Women's
Sexual Appetite?"

by TN

"Researchers: "While this finding needs to be interpreted with some caution, it nevertheless suggests a potential relationship between red wine consumption and better sexuality." In the project, described as the first to examine red wine intake and women's sexual function, doctors at the University of Florence recruited 800 women aged 18 to 50. The women, none of whom had reported a sexual health problem, were split into three groups – those who regularly consumed one or two glasses of red wine a day, those who consumed less than one glass a day of any sort of wine or other alcohol, and those who were teetotal. Women who drank more than two glasses a day were excluded from the study to avoid the possible confounding effects of drunkenness.

All participants completed a questionnaire, the "Female Sexual Function Index," which is used by doctors to assess women and sexual health. It includes 19 questions with a total score range between two and 36, with higher scores meaning better functioning. Overall the red wine drinkers scored an average of 27.3 points, compared to 25.9 for the less-frequent tipplers and 24.4 for the non-drinkers.

Researchers concluded that levels of sexual desire were higher in women who were moderate drinkers of red wine than in their counterparts who preferred other alcoholic drinks, or were teetotal. One theory put forward by the team of Italian doctors who carried out the study is that chemical compounds found in red wine may improve sexual functioning by increasing blood flow to key areas of the body. In particular, antioxidants in red wine have a beneficial effect on the lining of blood vessels, widening the vessels and increasing blood flow to key areas of the body."

"What the Native Americans Should Have Done"

(Inspired by a post by RealityZone. Big hat tip!)

Gulf Oil Disaster: "A Timeline: The Mother of All Gushers"

"A Timeline: The Mother of All Gushers"
by Niall Bradley and Richard Sawyer

"This is the Seventh Sign: You will hear of the sea turning black,
and many living things dying because of it."
- White Feather, a Hopi of the ancient Bear Clan.

"On Wednesday 21st April an explosion rocked an offshore oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, sending a column of fire into the sky and claiming the lives of 11 oil workers. 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, Deepwater Horizon was built in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in South Korea. It was owned by Houston based Transocean Ltd, under contract to British Petroleum Plc. Almost immediately a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of one of the victims in New Orleans, Louisiana, alleging the companies connected to the oil rig explosion were negligent.

The mainstream media has been performing consistently in downplaying just how catastrophic this disaster is, for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, for inhabitants along the coast and, depending on how this plays out, possibly for the entire planet. Never before has the blind greed of so few been so immediately damaging and obvious to so many. Let us hope that the shock, revulsion and anger generated by this truly catastrophic event inspires masses of people to see how the psychopaths that rule our world guide humanity's destructive trajectory towards oblivion for all life on Planet Earth.

Thursday 22nd April - CNN cites the U.S. Coast Guard stating that the oil rig had sunk and that crude oil was leaking at the rate of about 8,000 barrels per day.

Thursday 29th April - CNN reported that the estimated amount of oil leaking from the sunken rig increased to as much as 5,000 barrels a day - "five times more than what was originally believed" - 2/3 less than they had reported 5 days previously.

Friday, 30th April - A former contractor whistleblower who worked for British Petroleum (BP) reports that the oil conglomerate broke federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firm's other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico. A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear that the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."

Friday, 30th April - Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast, the Wall Street Journal reports. Though the investigation is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the "cementing" process - that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon. An increase in the number of deaths of turtles is reported as they swim closer to shore to nest and shrimping season gets into full swing along the upper Texas coast.

Saturday, 1st May - Natural News reports that nearly 50% of the seafood consumed by Americans comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Even before the oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico is home to one of the planet's largest ocean "dead zones" - over 6,000 square miles of dead water where fish can't even survive. "Ninety-seven percent of commercial fish and shellfish in the Gulf depend on estuaries and wetlands during their life cycle," said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Those wetlands are about to be covered with a thick brown slime that will make reproduction of seafood species virtually impossible. Pressure builds for the US to release worst-case scenario estimates so residents of the Gulf Coast can adequately prepare. Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Alabama Press-Register. Stuart Smith, an environmental attorney in New Orleans, said in a statement. "Why are BP and the Environmental Protection Agency not releasing such information to the public?

Sunday, May 2nd - BP begins drilling a relief well that could permanently plug the leak, an effort that will take 90 days to complete. Comment: All attempts since 2nd May when they commenced drilling a relief pipe (which will take at least 90 days to complete) seem to be a publicity exercise that follow a similar formula: a week or two filling the public mind with factoids related to the latest 'plan of action', the attempt to carry it out, 48 hours or so to assess whether or not it was successful, abject failure followed by the announcement of a new plan with a catchy name. This formula combined with the initial under-reporting and downplaying of the scale of the damage by both BP, the federal government and the media, suggests they're just trying to make it look like they're doing something about it when they know full well that it is completely beyond their capability.

Monday, May 3rd - The spill more than triples in size to 4,000+ square miles - about the same size as Chesapeake Bay. The slick is so big, it is visible from space.

The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) offers to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster caused by the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. NIDC managing director Heidar Bahmani announced "Our oil industry experts in the field of drilling can contain the rig leakage in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent an ecological disaster in that part of the world." ABC and NBC morning news shows spend 30 seconds on the main news updates before changing tack completely. NBC viewers were treated to a special guest appearance by "Elmo" the talking puppet. "Elmo" engaged in childish and mindless chatter with the Today show clown Al Roker, and then with the queen of fake emotions, Ann Curry. The "Elmo idocy" was then followed by a segment on "plus-size models" and women's self esteem.

An engineer with 25 years of experience explains what "Elmo" didn't: That the Mother of all gushers could kill the worlds oceans: "First, the BP platform was drilling for what they call deep oil. They go out where the ocean is about 5,000 feet deep and drill another 30,000 feet into the crust of the earth. This it right on the edge of what human technology can do. Well, this time they hit a pocket of oil at such high pressure that it burst all of their safety valves all the way up to the drilling rig and then caused the rig to explode and sink. Take a moment to grasp the import of that. The pressure behind this oil is so high that it destroyed the maximum effort of human science to contain it.

When the rig sank it flipped over and landed on top of the drill hole some 5,000 feet under the ocean. Now they've got a hole in the ocean floor, 5,000 feet down with a wrecked oil drilling rig sitting on top of is spewing 200,000 barrels of oil a day into the ocean. Take a moment and consider that, will you! First they have to get the oil rig off the hole to get at it in order to try to cap it. Do you know the level of effort it will take to move that wrecked oil rig, sitting under 5,000 feet of water? That operation alone would take years and hundreds of millions to accomplish. Then, how do you cap that hole in the muddy ocean floor? There just is no way. No way.

The only piece of human technology that might address this is a nuclear bomb. I'm not kidding. If they put a nuke down there in the right spot it might seal up the hole. Nothing short of that will work. [See Paul Noel's ideas below] If we can't cap that hole that oil is going to destroy the oceans of the world. It only takes one quart of motor oil to make 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife. Are you starting to get the magnitude of this?"

Wednesday, 5th May - The New York Times reports about a closed-door briefing for members of Congress. "A senior BP executive conceded Tuesday that the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow." Looking at what past spills have done to ecosystems, the prognosis for the Gulf of Mexico and the world's oceans is not good. Under the wrong conditions, oil can linger for decades and longer, causing permanent damage. A 2002 study by British researchers suggests mangrove swamps are exceptionally vulnerable to oil spills. The Gulf is home to the only mangrove swamps in the continental United States, so the BP disaster could not have happened in a worse place. BP said that it would have a giant, 100-ton dome-like device placed over the wellhead Thursday, which could begin to collect oil as soon as the following Monday.

Reuters cites the Center for Responsive Politics to report that BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama. Members of Congress are also bought and paid for by BP. For example, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who the previous week had cautioned that the incident should "not be used inappropriately" to halt Obama's push for expansion of offshore drilling, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of BP's largesse. Her comments created some blowback, with critics complaining that she was too blasé about the impact of the disaster.

Thursday, 6th May - It is revealed that a rule change two years ago by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs, allowed BP to avoid filing a plan for handling a major spill from a blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project - exactly the kind of disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. An AP review of BP's regional oil-spill plan found that it failed to specifically address all of the points required by the MMS in a blowout scenario. It is not surprising to find out that In 2008, the Interior Department took disciplinary action against eight MMS employees who accepted lavish gifts, partied and - in some cases - had sex with employees from the energy companies they regulated.

Friday, 7th May - BP's internal investigation finds the deadly blowout of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding when it hit the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Saturday, 8th May - BP faces over 200 class action lawsuits from people seeking damages from the spill. BP had issued 17-page long agreements to fishermen who wanted to work in the oil spill clean up. According to M. Orr, BP wanted to have the fishermen "sign away their rights" [...] "It said that fishermen would have to have their own [health] insurance and not BP's. They also couldn't tell anyone what they saw. It took away their rights to sue BP if they got sick from the chemicals."

Are we witnessing an extinction event? If it's true that millions upon millions of gallons of crude oil are flooding the Gulf with no end in sight, the massive oil slicks being created could make their way into the Gulf Stream currents, which would carry them not only up the East Coast but around the world where they could absolutely destroy the global fishing industries. Already these slicks are making their way into Gulf wetlands and beaches where they are destroying birds, fish, and even oyster beds. This is disastrous for both the seafood industry and the people whose livelihoods depend on it. It's also devastating to the local wildlife which could begin to die off from petroleum toxicity. Various ecosystems around the world could be heavily impacted by this spill in ways that we don't even yet realize. There's no telling where this continuous stream of oil will end up and what damage it might cause. Theoretically, we could be looking at modern man's final act of destruction on planet Earth, because this one oil rig blowout could set in motion a global extinction wave that begins with the oceans and then whiplashes back onto human beings themselves.

Sunday, 9th May - The dome that took two weeks to build and three days to cart out, fails. BP says it will take 48 hours to "assess and put forward a new solution." As they were placing the dome over the leak source a large volume of methane hydrates formed inside the top of the dome. These hydrates are highly flammable and present a danger to BP workers on ships above the leak. If they dethaw in an uncontrolled manner, they could send a flood of natural gas to the top of the ocean surface and potentially ignite. It's clear that there is more than gushing oil to worry about. A recent study by the Minerals Management Service pegged methane hydrate resources in the Gulf of Mexico at 21,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - 100 times the country's current proven supply. Meanwhile, thick blobs of tar washed up on Alabama's white sand beaches, yet another sign the spill was worsening.

"Top Kill" planned and 'big box' put somewhere else. Pure semantics from BP: "I wouldn't say it's failed yet," BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said of the containment box. "What I would say is what we attempted to do ... didn't work." 'Flummoxed' BP engineers ask public for oil leak solutions. Well, these two farmers presented a brilliant cost-effective solution, but were completely ignored. A massive spill off Saudi Arabia in 1993, pretty much censored from history until now, dumped nearly 800 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf, which would make it more than 70 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill. But remarkably, by employing a fleet of empty supertankers to suck crude off the water's surface, a dedicated team was not only able to clean up the spill, but also salvage 85 percent of the oil. And of course, as we saw above, the Iranian national oil company was ignored despite offering its expertise with cleaning up regular spills in the Persian Gulf.

The spill is spreading west, further from Florida but toward the important shipping channels and rich seafood areas of the Louisiana shoreline, where fishing, shrimping and oyster harvesting bans have been widened. FEMA was put on standby to evacuate residents from the Tampa Bay area in the event of onshore wind bringing toxic fumes ashore from controlled burns off the Florida coastline.

Monday, 10th May - The chemical dispersants BP is dumping in the Gulf of Mexico are a cosmetic solution only. And deadly they're toxic. Dispersants decrease the amount of oil that directly reaches the shores or the creatures that live on the shores or sea surface. But they increase the exposure to oil by creatures that live in the water or on the sea floor - like, say, shrimp or oysters. The chemical dispersant can harm animal and human life alike, but also the fumes from the crude itself - hydrocarbons and benzene - can make people sick. Corexit is particularly toxic. It contains petroleum solvents and a chemical that, when ingested, ruptures red blood cells and causes internal bleeding. It is also bioaccumulative, meaning its concentration intensifies as it moves up the food chain. BP has sprayed/dumped 700,000 gallons of it into the Gulf so far.

Tuesday, 11th May - Dead dolphins wash up on the coast. It emerges that workers aboard the exploding offshore drilling platform were told to sign statements denying they were hurt or that they had witnessed the blast that rocked the rig, according to their attorneys.

Wednesday, 12th May - CBS News is the first media outlet to raise the specter of detonating a nuclear bomb to fuse the gaping hole on the sea floor. The Soviets apparently did this was some success at remote inland oil leaks, as a last resort. Some always manage to see the silver lining: the Kerry-Lieberman Cap-and-Trade bill is back on the cards, in the name of saving the climate of course, thanks to the disaster.

Thursday, 13th May - BP officials finally made public an underwater video of its broken well gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, after being pressured to do so by media outlets and the White House, and then claimed they hadn't received requests for the footage until then.

Friday, 14th May - BP tries to insert a tube into the leaking pipe and prepares a "junk shot" for "sometime around the end of next week" that would inject tire pieces and golf balls, to be followed by injecting "heavy mud" (really a toxic solution of water and chemicals) and then cement to plug the wound. Obama gave credence to the insane rumors that nuclear weapons were on the table by sending a team of nuclear physicists to the Gulf. It emerges that an oil spill occurred from a pipeline operated jointly by Chevron and BP two weeks before the Deepwater explosion. The US Coast Guard estimated that 18,000 gallons of crude oil washed through the Delta National Wildlife Refuge near Venice, Louisiana. Meanwhile "odd smells" were being reported in New Orleans, with many residents suspecting the "chemical smell" was wafting in from the giant oil slick out to sea.

Sunday 16th May - Bombshell as The New York Times reports that scientists calculate as much as 3.4 million gallons of oil could be leaking into the Gulf every day - 16 times more than previously thought. The insertion tube attempt to siphon oil from the leak fails. Methane gas reaches the surface and needs to be flared off to prevent another catastrophic explosion.

Monday 17th May - It's becoming apparent that this is an ecological disaster on a scale never seen before. The oil slick is far bigger than previously reported ("100 miles long and 40 miles wide") and the threat to marine life is total. Below the surface enormous plumes of oil are beginning to loop throughout the Gulf. New Scientist reports that "surface slicks may account for as little as 2 per cent of the oil now spilling into the Gulf of Mexico."

Tuesday 18th May - The first reports of tarballs reaching Florida's Key West. Florida Democrat Senator Bill Nelson says "this is looking like really out-of-control bad." A CBS News crew was told to "turn around or be arrested" by a boatload of BP contractors (and two token Coast Guard officers) as it tried to film a beach with heavy oil on the shore in South Pass, Louisiana, bringing to light how closely the government and BP are working together to keep details of the disaster in the dark.

Thursday 20th May - Worst fears are realised as the first images emerge of oil spreading throughout the Louisiana marshes "at a rapid pace". Meanwhile European Space Agency satellites showed oil being pulled into the powerful clockwise-moving Loop Current that joins the Gulf Stream, the northern hemisphere's most important ocean current system. Further suggesting that this was becoming an environmental disaster of global proportions was that Congress was told that around 104,000 barrels of oil is jetting out of the well each day. That is upwards of 4,000,000 US gallons.

Friday 21st May - BP denies that it's keeping strict control of press coverage from the affected areas, but the cat is already out of the bag following th CBS News report of Tuesday 18th. At this point, it's obvious even to the compliant US media that a cover-up is in full operation. The New York Times reports that, "Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill's true scope." Independent researcher Dr. Robert Bea reports that "This disaster was preventable." One of the key pointers suggesting criminal negligence was the early warning signs of belches or 'kicks' of methane gas, which came up from the depths of the well in the weeks before the accident. One incident was serious enough to shut the well down. At this point, the oil spill's surface slick is larger than the US states of Maryland and Delaware combined.

Sunday 23rd May - Highlighting the extent to which government regulators have submitted legal authority to corporations, BP rebuffs the US Environmental Protection Agency's order to halt its use of Corexit, 715,000 gallons of which has been used to this point, and switch to a less toxic dispersant.

Monday 24th May - Exasperated Louisiana officials do what the federal government won't by overriding official protocol to commandeer BP boats for the spill cleanup: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said he supported a decision by local and Jefferson Parish leaders on Grand Isle on Saturday to commandeer about 30 fishing vessels that BP had commissioned but hadn't deployed to lay down protective boom as the oil came ashore. The normally dispassionate Jindal even joked that he would go to jail with the mayors of Grand Isle and Jean Lafitte if federal authorities tried to stop them.

A disturbing report in The Guardian, citing the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, explained that when released on a large scale, methane hydrates can even cause tsunamis. This explosive hazard is the most significant factor hampering efforts to stop the gushing oil well: "the cofferdam that BP lowered over the broken pipe gushing oil to contain the spill was almost immediately clogged by methane hydrates." published a report in 2005 that illustrates how oil executives were fully aware of the hazards presented by methane hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico. It was known that trillions of cubic meters of the gas in hydrate form lay mingled with the deep sea oil deposits in the Gulf of Mexico. It was also known that upsetting these pockets of methane can trigger gigantic underwater landslides, prompting tsunamis above water. Scientists hypothesize, in fact, that 8,000 years ago, decomposing hydrate helped to generate a gigantic landslide under the North Sea. The resulting tsunami scoured the Norwegian fjords and scattered seafloor sediment across Holland and Scotland. Charlie Paull, a geochemist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, warned that, "When drilling, oil engineers usually just roar right through the zone where hydrate is stable."

Despite the so-called moratorium on new deep sea drilling licenses, it is reported that the US government continues to give oil drillers environmental waivers: "At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper - and therefore more difficult and dangerous - than where Deepwater Horizon was operating," the New York Times' Ian Urbina wrote Monday. "While that rig, which was drilling at a depth just shy of 5,000 feet, was classified as a deep-water operation, many of the wells in the six projects are classified as "ultra" deep water, including four new wells at over 9,100 feet."

Tuesday 25th May - It is reported that BP played a key role in the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. BP owned a controlling interest in the Alaska oil industry consortium that was required to write a cleanup plan and respond to the spill two decades ago. It also supplied the top executive of the consortium, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

Wednesday 26th May - MSNBC's Rachel Maddow highlights how the unfolding catastrophe mirrors an eerily similar oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979. Exactly the same procedures were followed as in the current attempt to plug the well, but in the end it only stopped when the well emptied many months later. More press photographers come forward with reports that BP and government officials are aggressively preventing them from documenting the damage.

Fishermen hired by BP to assist with cleaning up its mess become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant. They report severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing from the fumes of the surface oil alone. Many of them felt they had no choice but to take up BP's offer as the closure of fisheries and widespread contamination of fishing waters left them unemployed. Matt Simmons, oil industry insider, tells MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan that "there's a much bigger leak 5 or 6 miles away" from the original site.

Thursday 27th May - Obama plays politics over the "resignation" of Elizabeth Birnbaum, head of the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service. It turns out that she was fired, despite having landed the job long after the damage was done in terms of gutting deep sea drilling regulations. US media excitedly broadcast the White House's declaration that the "top kill" method had worked. The leak was stopped and the hole plugged.

Friday 28th May - Actually, BP hit a "snag". "Top kill" failed. Oil, mud and methane was still gushing from the well "like a volcano." A day after scientists reported finding a huge plume of oil extending miles east of the leaking BP well, James H. Cowan Jr., a professor at Louisiana State University, said his crew located another vast plume of oil, miles in the opposite direction. A White House correspondent reveals that Obama's Press Secretary Gibbs had privately scolded the Washington press corps for "asking too many questions" about BP, while Obama calls a press conference to announce that the government was taking charge of the operation, over 5 weeks since the Deepwater explosion. Too little, far too late. The New York Times reports that just days before the explosion, BP "used cheaper casing on the oil well to save money".

Saturday 29th May - The case for criminal negligence strengthens as Douglas Harold Brown, the top mechanic and acting engineer on the Deepwater Horizon, informs the House Judiciary Committee that "downsizing by Transocean had contributed to a breakdown of basic safety measures." A lengthy Wall Street Journal analysis published Thursday, and based on internal BP and Transocean documents, reveals other ways in which BP sped along the well-capping process. Among other decisions, BP expedited a procedure involving drilling fluid that is normally used to detect gas in a well and passed over a usual quality test of the durability of cement around the rig's riser. It did so in spite of warnings from cement contractor Halliburton, which had said the rig risked "a SEVERE gas flow problem." Many of BP's decisions to speed up or bypass usual steps in the capping process were approved by the Minerals Management Service, according to the report. Criminal complicity all round then.

Sunday 30th May - The Obama administration "comes clean" and admits that it has all but given up hope of containing the gushing oil well. The US government is "prepared for the worst," expecting oil to keep gushing until relief wells are finished sometime in August. BP announces that the "top kill" effort to stop the Gulf oil leak failed. It will resume spraying chemical dispersants, even as BP workers are increasingly being sent to hospital with illnesses.

BP's CEO Tony Hayward, denies there are any large undersea plumes from the Gulf oil spill, despite scientists from several universities reporting plumes of oil suspended in clouds that stretch for miles and reach hundreds of feet beneath the Gulf's surface, Hayward said the oil is on the water's surface, and that BP's sampling shows "no evidence" of oil in the water column. His comments confirm their damage-limitation PR strategy of using toxic dispersants to reduce the visible impact of the spill and their own 'research' to try and talk down just how bad this disaster will be.

But is damage control the only thing on BP's mind? Reporter for Natural News Mike Adams doesn't think so, and neither do many residents of the Gulf Coast. Adam's interviewed several people who have worked for BP and they are adamant, he claims, that BP is not so much interested in stopping the spill as in capturing the oil. The point seems well made; every effort BP has made so far has been to siphon off the oil not plug the leak for good. As Adam's notes: 'To collapse the well and plug it for good would destroy BP's chance to siphon off oil and sell it for profit (until at least August, when the pressure relief wells are expected to be completed). And that is perhaps the single most important reason why oil is still flowing out of that well right now.'

Just how bad will it be? We know the immediate environmental impact on marine life in the Gulf of Mexico is catastrophic. The economic impact on fishing and tourism maybe unrecoverable. Will the August relief drilling be successful? Or will the gushing leaks continue spewing until the massive reserves are exhausted? How much of the hidden oil will the oncoming hurricane season dump on coastal areas or further inland? And will the lingering toxic fumes make living in the Southern States a humanitarian crisis?

There are many speculative predictions circulating the internet: Will the vacuum created by the unchecked gusher swallow and heat seawater to create a tsunami that destroys the southern states? Will the massive quantities of methane hydrates cause further geological disruption and earthquakes? Will toxic dispersants evaporate and fall across north America in acid rain showers? Will this lead to the death of the worlds oceans and our ultimate extinction? The truth is no one really knows. Or if they do, we can guarantee it will not make the front page headlines of the mainstream media. To protect their profits, BP will continue to employ its PR machine to under-report the true magnitude of this disaster and their legal team work overtime to drag-out and defend the myriad of law suits they are facing for many years to come."

"Only after the last ocean has been destroyed, Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been killed, Only then will you find that oil cannot be eaten."
- BP Prophecy

Gulf Disaster Update: "Failure, By the Numbers"

"Failure, By the Numbers"
by NY Times Editorial Staff

"BP’s latest failure to plug the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is one more crushing disappointment to Louisiana’s beleaguered people, one more strike against the company and one more signal to President Obama to redouble efforts to contain and clean the spill. BP now pins its hopes — and those of the country — on yet another containment strategy, its fifth since the April 20 explosion. It does so amid mounting public anger and a report in The Times on Sunday that the company may have violated its own safety standards by ignoring warnings about design flaws in the well. These disclosures add to the growing list of questions that must be addressed by the special commission President Obama has appointed to examine the root causes of the spill and recommend ways to prevent future catastrophes. Here are others:

WHAT HAPPENED, AND WHY: Five weeks after the blowout, there is no clear picture of the fatal sequence of events. Gas somehow escaped up the well, then exploded, collapsing the rig. The blowout preventer — a giant set of valves on the ocean floor — failed to work, and oil began spurting into the gulf at a rate recently estimated at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. The total spill now exceeds* the estimated 250,000 barrels that leaked from the stricken tanker Exxon Valdez in 1989. The public needs to get an honest accounting of the spill’s size, and BP’s word is not enough since it has to pay for the cleanup.

A joint Interior Department-Coast Guard investigative committee in Louisiana, and numerous Congressional panels, have been seeking clarity. Their search has not been helped by industry grandstanding and finger-pointing, with BP blaming the rig operator, Transocean, for the faulty blowout preventer. It is also unclear which company was calling the shots on the rig, and there have been ominous suggestions that BP short-circuited standard drilling procedures to cut costs.

THE RESPONSE: The questions about whether BP and the government responded quickly enough, and with the right weapons, could fill a book — and probably will. Both parties seem to have underestimated the size of the spill, and neither had a coherent underwater response plan in place. Though the oil industry had experienced blowouts at shallower depths, BP’s disjointed response suggested it had given little thought to the possibility of a blowout at 5,000 feet. Partly as a result of laws passed after the Exxon Valdez, industry and the Coast Guard were better prepared to deal with the oil when it hit the surface. But the techniques — the controlled burns, the skimmers, the booms, the dispersants — were little more sophisticated than they were in 1989. Why no progress? And why was there only one dispersant available (and a toxic one at that) made by one company, Nalco?

REGULATORY FAILURE: Much has been said — including by President Obama — about the incestuous relationship between the oil industry and its chief regulator, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, which routinely ignored basic environmental laws and its own rules to fast track drilling permits. But while these were terrible failures, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s promise to reform the agency is overdue, it is hard to believe that other agencies in Washington, and even the Congressional oversight committees, were not also culpable.

NEW WEAPONS: One outside-the-box question that looms large is whether the federal government should now develop its own capacity to deal with a huge blowout. As things stand now, industry has all the equipment and experience. In an interim report to the president on Thursday, Mr. Salazar suggested the creation of a kind of parallel technological universe in which government would have the robots, the coffer dams and the other tools necessary to help control a big blowout. That could be expensive, but Mr. Obama indicated on Friday that he had been thinking along the same lines. As well he should be. The images from the last month — Washington essentially powerless, BP flailing away — have been deeply disheartening."

* By the numbers: BP is lying through their teeth about how much oil has been vented, as well as about cleanup efforts and the amount of dispersant they've used. Matt Simmons, a long time expert in these matters said, after examining the video of the rupture, that the volume of oil escaping was approximately 120,000 barrels per day. Each barrel contains 42 gallons of oil. The rupture has been flowing for 42 days now. Let's do the math:

42 days X 120,000 barrels per day= 5,040,000 barrels, or 211,680,000 gallons to date.

The relief wells being drilled will not be finished for at least another 60 days. So,

60 more days X 120,000 barrels= 7,200,000 more barrels, or 302,400,000 more gallons released.

Grand total, if the relief wells stop this process sometime in August:

Total barrels released: 12,240,000 barrels, or 514,080,000 gallons.

Video: "Soviets Nuke Runaway Gas Well"

Note that this is in a desert, not 22,500 feet below the Gulf of Mexico...

"How It Really Is"

The Mogambo Guru, "Guarding Your Money from Government Onslaughts"

"Guarding Your Money from Government Onslaughts"
By The Mogambo Guru

" is famous for presenting whole constellations, in graphic form, of horrors about the mess that fiat money and government, in the hands of incompetent do-gooders, has allowed. He writes that, in 2009, people worked, “3 times longer per year to pay all taxes more than they pay for food, housing and clothing combined.” Yikes!

This is where I learned that the combined onslaught of government (from local corruption to Congressional corruption) consumes half of all income in the USA! And this grasping, gobbling government colossus spends half of GDP, which to this day – to this day! – makes me have nightmares full of every post-apocalyptic horror movie I ever saw, pervasive darkness and gloom, dripping in despair and suffering, where government goons and killer robots relentlessly track down “undesirable” citizens, who, you gotta admit, are always the best looking men and the hottest hubba-hubba women of the whole bunch, which gives rise to the lesson that if you have to go down, these are the people to be with until then!

Of course, there are many lessons in these movies beyond this timeless philosophical gem, such as not trusting anybody because they are probably aliens from outer space or government killer goons. Or both. Anyway, I thought I had made peace with myself about our system of governments consuming half of everything, but I entered a whole new land of fear and loathing (as Hunter Thompson might have termed it), when Grandfather goes on, “Increased government (at all levels) not only consumes national income by its spending, but their employees continually issue new regulations aimed at the reduced private sector, with the cost of compliance passed to the private sector as un-funded mandates to the tune of 15% of national income.”

By this time you are hardly paying attention, and are saying to yourself “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me something new” in a kind of bored, I’ve-seen-it-all, “we’re screwed” ennui, but without yawning. I was the same way! So, like you, I was not ready for him going on to say “Adding this 15% to the 49% spending ratio increases government’s control-share of the economy to 64%”, which bring our taxpayer’s share of income down to 36%.” Wow! The government consumes two-thirds of my income!

And so we learn that in 2009, people worked, “3 times longer per year to pay all taxes, more than they pay for food, housing and clothing combined” when, in reality, the taxpayer is left with much, much, much less than that paltry estimate of 36% of gross income, and everyone is getting lesser and lesser, too, since taxes are rising and there is talk of, and the certainty of, new taxes, while inflation (which has the same effect as a tax) is rising and rising, and destined to rise some more, and then more and more until the very life is being crushed out of you by inflation in prices, which will happen because inflation in prices is caused by inflation in the money supply, which is caused by the monstrous Federal Reserve creating the extra money, which it does so that the despicable federal government can borrow and spend the extra money, which drives up the proportion of the economy that the government consumes, making it all worse and worse in a big, ugly spiral, spinning around and around, spinning, spinning, spinning until you are so dizzy that you are think you are going to throw up, and then you realize that you are not puking your guts out because of vertigo, but because the government has destroyed the country!

Of course, there is much, much more at, and there are graphs of gold and gold-related things, too, making you come away both dazed and scared out of your freaking mind, but with the idea floating around in your mind that “Hey! Maybe that Horse’s Butt Mogambo (HBM) was right about that buying gold thing that he was always yammering on about! And it looks like he may be right about silver and oil, too! How could such an idiot be right about anything, much less three things?” How? The answer is that the Austrian school of economics – found free at – makes it easy! So easy, in fact, that it makes you squirm in delight and exclaim, “Whee! This investing stuff is easy!”

Howard Zinn

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
- Howard Zinn

Patrick J. Buchanan, "What War With Iran Means"

"What War With Iran Means"
by Patrick J. Buchanan, 04/02/2010

"Diplomacy has failed," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told AIPAC, "Iran is on the verge of becoming nuclear and we cannot afford that." "We have to contemplate the final option," said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., "the use of force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." War is a "terrible thing," said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., but "sometimes it is better to go to war than to allow the Holocaust to develop a second time." Graham then describes the war we Americans should fight: "If military force is ever employed, it should be done in a decisive fashion. The Iran government's ability to wage conventional war against its neighbors and our troops in the region should not exist. They should not have one plane that can fly or one ship that can float."

Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, Neocon Central, writes, "The only questions remaining, one Washington politico tells me, are who starts it, and how it ends." As to who starts it, we know the answer. Teheran has not started a war in memory and is not going to launch a suicide attack on a superpower with thousands of nuclear weapons. As with Iraq in 2003, the war will be launched by the United States against a nation that did not attack us - to strip it of weapons it does not have.

But to Graham's point, if we are going to start this war, prudence dictates that we destroy Iran's ability to fight back. At a minimum, we would have to use airstrikes and cruise missiles to hit a range of targets. First, Iran's nuclear facilities such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the U.S.-built reactor that makes medical isotopes, the power plant at Bushehr, the centrifuge facility near Qom and the heavy water plant at Arak. Our problem here is that the last three are not even operational and all are subject to U.N. inspections. There are Russians at Bushehr. And there is no evidence that diversion to a weapons program has taken place.

If Iran has secret plants working on nuclear weapons, why have we not been told where, and demanded that U.N. inspectors be let in? Why did 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, three years ago, tell us they did not exist and Iran gave up its drive for a nuclear weapon in 2003? If Iran is on the "verge" of a bomb, as Schumer claims, the entire U.S. intelligence community should be decapitated for incompetence. This week, in a hyped headline, "CIA: Iran capable of producing nukes," the Washington Times said that a new CIA report claims, "Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so." Excuse me, but this is mush. We could say the same of a dozen countries that use nuclear power and study nuclear technology.

But let us continue with Graham's blitzkrieg war. To prevent a counterattack, the United States would have to take out Iran's 14 airfields and all its warplanes on the ground. We would also have to sink every warship and submarine in Iran's navy and destroy some 200 missile, patrol and speedboats operated by the Revolutionary Guard, else they would be dropping mines and mauling our warships. Also, it would be crucial on day one to hit Iran's launch sites and missile plants for, like Saddam in 1991, Iran would probably attack Israel, to make it an American and Israeli war on an Islamic republic.

Among other critical targets would be the Silkworm anti-ship missile sites on Iran's coastline that would menace U.S. warships and oil tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz. Any Iranian attack on ships or seeding of mines would likely close the gulf and send world oil prices soaring. Revolutionary Guard barracks, especially the Quds Force near Iraq, would have to be hit to slow troop movement to and across the border into Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers and civilians. The same might be necessary against Iranian troops near Afghanistan.

With Iran's ally Hezbollah in south Beirut, all U.S. civilians should probably be pulled out of Lebanon before an attack lest they wind up dead or hostages. And how safe would Americans be in the gulf, especially Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, a predominantly Shia island? And whose side would Shia Iraq take? Would we have to intern all Iranian nationals in the United States, as we did Germans and Italians in 1941? How many terror attacks on soft targets in the USA could we expect from Iranian and Hezbollah agents in reprisal for our killing thousands of civilians in hundreds of strikes on Iran? Before the War Party stampedes us into yet another war, the Senate should find out if Teheran is really on the "verge" of getting a bomb, and why deterrence, which never failed us, cannot succeed with Iran."

"The Threat of a Nuclear War: WW III"

"The Threat of a Nuclear War: WW III"
by General Léonid Ivashov

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
- Albert Einstein

"Analysis of the current state of the conflict with Iran shows that the world faces the possibility of a new war which can start at any time. The US and its allies continue the psychological preparation of the world public opinion for the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons to resolve 'the Iranian problem'. The US propaganda machine is working hard to create the impression that a 'surgically precise' use of the nuclear weapon with only limited consequences is possible. However, this has been known to be untrue since the 1945 US nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the very first nuclear strike, it will become totally impossible to prevent the use of all of the available means of mass destruction. In the situation of a mass extermination of their nations, the conflicting sides will resort to whatever means they have without limitations. Therefore, not only the nuclear arsenals of various countries, including those whose nuclear status is not recognized officially, will come into play. No doubt, chemical and biological warfare (and, generally, any poisonous substances), which can be produced on the basis of minimal industrial and economic resources, will be used.

Currently, one can assert that peace and mankind are in a great danger. Consider the military-technical aspect of the situation. Practically, the operation's objective declared by the US - destroying some 1,500 targets on the territory of Iran - cannot be accomplished by the forces already amassed for the mission. This objective can only be met if tactical nuclear munitions are used. An examination of the military-political aspect of the matter reveals even more significant facts. The attack on Iran is not planned to include a ground offensive. Strikes on selected military and industrial installations can cause a severe damage to the Iranian defense potential and economy. Casualties are likely to be substantial, but not catastrophic from the military point of view. At the same time, it is impossible to gain control of the territory of a country as large as Iran without a ground operation. The planned offensive will entail a consolidation of forces not only in Iran, but also in other Muslim countries and among the public throughout the world. The support for the country suffering from the US-Israeli aggression will soar. Certainly, Washington is aware that the result will be not the strengthening but the loss of the US positions in the world. Consequently, the goal of the US attack against Iran has to be seen in a different light. The nuclear offensive must boost the use of the nuclear blackmail in the global politics by the US and fundamentally transform the world order.

Further evidence of the radicalization of the goals of the US and its allies is available. The early 2007 leaks, which exposed Israel's plans to use three nukes against Iran, were quite dangerous for a country in a hostile environment, but certainly they were deliberate. They meant that the decision on the character of Israel's activity had already been made, and all that remained to be done was to influence the public opinion accordingly.

The pretext for the operation against Iran does not appear serious. Judging from both the technical and the political points of view, there is no possibility of its developing nuclear weapons in the nearest future. One must remember that allegations of Iraq's possessing weapons of mass destruction have been used by the US as a pretext for the war against the country. As a result, Iraq was devastated, and the civilian death toll rose to hundreds of thousands, but no evidence for the claims had ever been discovered.

The really important question is not whether Iran is capable to make nuclear weapons. The only function of small stockpiles of nuclear weapons not backed by various forms of support is that of containment. The threat of a retaliation strike can stop any aggressor. As for attacking other countries and winning a nuclear war in the situation of a conflict with a coalition of major powers, this would require a potential that Iran neither has nor is going to have in the foreseeable future. The allegations that Iran can become a nuclear aggressor are absurd. Anyone having at least some theoretical knowledge of military affairs must understand this.

What might cause the force majeure event of the required scale? Everything seems to indicate that Israel will be sacrificed. Its involvement in a war with Iran - especially in a nuclear war - is bound to trigger a global catastrophe. The statehoods of Israel and Iran are based on the countries' official religions. A military conflict between Israel and Iran will immediately evolve into a religious one, a conflict between Judaism and Islam. Due to the presence of numerous Jewish and Muslim populations in the developed countries, this would make a global bloodbath inevitable. All of the active forces of most of the countries of the world would end up fighting, with almost no room for neutrality left. It is hard to imagine a quiet heaven where one might hide from the coming doom. Forecasts of the territorial distribution of the fighting, the quantities and the efficiency of the armaments involved, the profound character of the underlying roots of the conflict and the severity of the religious strife all leave no doubt that this clash will be in all respects much more nightmarish than WW II.

So far, the response of the world's major political players to the developments gives no cause for optimism. The inconsequent UN resolutions concerning Iran, the attempts to appease the aggressor who no longer disguises his intentions are reminiscent of the Munich Pact on the eve of WWII. The intense shuttle diplomacy focusing on all sorts of international problems except for the main one discussed above is also indicative of the problem. This is a usual practice on the eve of a war, aiming to provide for alliances with third-party countries or to ensure their neutrality. Such politics seeks to avert or soften the first strikes, which would be the most sudden and devastating ones.After the very first nuclear blast, mankind will find itself in an entirely new world, an absolutely inhumane one. The chances to prevent this outcome must be used completely."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

"All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time, if we believe for one second that nuclear fission and fusion, that type of weapon, would be used in such a war — what is a preventive war? I would say a preventive war, if the words mean anything, is to wage some sort of quick police action in order that you might avoid a terrific cataclysm of destruction later.

A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today. How could you have one if one of its features would be several cities lying in ruins, several cities where many, many thousands of people would be dead and injured and mangled, the transportation systems destroyed, sanitation implements and systems all gone? That isn't preventive war; that is war.

I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing. It seems to me that when, by definition, a term is just ridiculous in itself, there is no use in going any further. There are all sorts of reasons, moral and political and everything else, against this theory, but it is so completely unthinkable in today's conditions that I thought it is no use to go any further. When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it.

After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing. I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

We honor their service and sacrifice...

"Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain."

"For the Fallen," by Laurence Binyon

Robert Slayton, "Norman Cota- An American Hero"

"Norman Cota- An American Hero"
by Robert Slayton

"It's Memorial Day, so I'm going to do something different, but, I feel is appropriate. I'm going to nominate someone for the Congressional Medal of Honor, and by so doing, try to give credit to an overlooked American hero. When I was eleven years old, my mother took me to see "The Longest Day," the best movie ever made about June 6, 1944. Yes, Saving Private Ryan has that epic scene, but it is isolated. Longest Day tells the entire story, better than anyone has done before or since. And the actor who stole the picture, for me was Robert Mitchum, who played Brigadier General Norman Cota. If there was one character who sent chills up my spine, it was this one. I kept asking, for years after, who was this guy?

I'm a lot older more, and I know a lot more- about the battle and about Cota- and I am even more impressed. Cota was the Assistant Commander of the 29th Infantry Division, a National Guard unit. The Allied high command understood that Omaha Beach would be the tough nut to crack. But they had to take it anyway, as it sat right in the middle of the landing areas; without it, the Brits and the Americans would be cut off from each other, and could be cut up, piecemeal. Because it was so difficult, so heavily manned and fortified by the Nazis, this was the only beach assigned two, instead of one divisions. The first of these was the 1st Infantry Division, The Big Red One, the most experienced outfit in the U.S. Army. The other was the 29th, which had never been in combat before.

It was as bad as they expected. Omaha Beach was a killing field, carefully set up to stop the Allies at the waterline, and kill as many of our soldiers as possible. I have visited this site, and despite all that I had read and seen in movies, was stunned. Standing by the German guns, you recognized how well each had been sited, to rake down as much of the beach as possible. No one should have made it through that alive.

The Allied plan centered on getting to the exits, or draws. Generals recognized that one of the American Army's great strengths was its incredible mobility, the most advanced in the world. If they were going to put that mass of tanks, halftracks, trucks, and jeeps to use, they had to take those pathways. Doing so, however, was not going to be easy. The Germans knew the same thing we did, and poured twenty foot thick concrete to block these roads, and put mortars, cannons, machine guns and infantry to guard them. We tried again and again, and couldn't do it.

While we were failing, more and more troops came ashore, and died. They piled up on the beaches, or on a seawall, and got torn to bits by shells or rifle fire. Many of those who got hit drowned. When I visited I discovered that the tide on those beaches moved at an incredibly fast pace. I had stopped on the beach for a brief conversation, suddenly discovered the tide had passed me by, and that I was now standing on a sandbar. I had to get my feet wet to reach safety, and if I had dawdled, it would have been much worse. If you were shot and couldn't get up, the water swept in over your head and you died.

Cota had previously decided that the men would need leadership early on, and went in early that morning, the highest ranking officer on the beach. He found chaos, and began to organize and inspire. Amidst heavy fire, he rallied his men; it was Cota who called out to one special unit, "Rangers, lead the way," a line that is now the official motto of that elite force. But he did a lot more than that. In one of those "Eureka" moments that seems simple- after the fact- he realized that the only way the Americans could win was by attacking the bluffs. These were the elevations, rolling hills, that linked the draws, only about 100-150 feet high, and relatively undefended. Once they took these positions, the soldiers could work their way along the ridgelines, then take the German fortifications in the flank. Cota grabbed a bunch of troops and then he, not the Rangers, lead the way. Up and over they went; at one point the general got far ahead of his men, and when they caught up, he was standing, twirling his .45 pistol on his forefinger, admonishing the lower ranks that they couldn't always depend on him to show them how to do things. We took the bluffs, then the draws, then Omaha Beach. Put as bluntly as possible, D-Day succeeded because of Norman Cota.

In time he was promoted to Major General, and installed as CO of the 28th Division. This was sent into the Hurtagen Forest, one of the great hell-holes of the Second World War. Dense forest- trees so thick it was dark under their awning- blocked the use of mechanized equipment. The Germans had sown fields of mines, including the horrible Bouncing Bettys, that popped up when struck, then exploded at crotch height. German artillery shells did not even have to be precise to kill; they exploded amongst the trees, showering soldiers with sharp wood fragments that cut through them. The 28th was chewing up German units, but it had come to a standstill. Eisenhower was prepared to relieve Cota. Till he saw the casualty figures. No general could have been expected to do more. Cota kept his job. Cota left the Army in 1946, died in 1971, and is buried in the cemetery at the United States Military Cemetery at West Point.

Douglas MacArthur won the Congressional Medal of Honor, not for storming a machine gun nest, but, according to his citation, for "conspicuous leadership," how, "His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops..." Cota received the Distinguished Service Cross, and there was some discussion of upgrading this to the Medal of Honor, but no one ever followed through on this. It is long overdue time to correct that omission. Norman Cota served his country well under fire, leading troops when no one else could. Above all, he saved the Second Front. I call for a national effort to get the military and Congress to award, posthumously, the Congressional Medal of Honor to Norman Cota, for his outstanding service in World War II."

A personal comment: I'm a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. And, as long time readers of this blog will know, I'm very anti-war. I've watched for far too long as lying, opportunistic politicians, on behalf of their corporate masters, have deceived us with outrageous stories about WMD's, "terror", "nuclear threats", "bringing democracy" and the like, outrageous lies told by cowards too fearful to serve themselves, all to generate public support for their military campaigns of illegal aggression. We're now 9 years into these "wars", having spent a trillion dollars, and lost nearly 6,000 precious human lives. I despise the creatures whose manipulation has caused all this harm. But I have always, and will continue, to totally support our troops, whose honor and courage are unquestioned. Please see the distinction here. I, and all of us, honor their service. But the best way to honor these brave men and women is to end these wars, and bring them home, safely. - CP