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What the HELL is going on?!

Oil covered pelican on island off Louisiana coast (MSNBC)

Why isn’t President Obama mobilizing every possible resource to deal with the mess that BP has made in the Gulf of Mexico? What the HELL is going on here? Now is the time for action, not “just words.” I’m getting sick and tired of seeing photos of dead and dying sea birds and pools of oil ruining irreplaceable marshlands.

Frustration grows over oil spill says CNN. No f*cking kidding!! According to CNN, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today that

If the government finds out that BP is “not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately, and we’ll move forward to make sure everything is being done to protect the people of the Gulf Coast, the ecological values of the Gulf Coast and the values of the American people,”

So what is he waiting for? It’s been about a month since the oil started gushing out. It’s pretty obvious BP has no clue how to stop it.

Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, told reporters that while BP has failed to meet its own schedule for stopping the gusher, their schedule was probably not feasible from the outset given that the tasks involve construction, mobilizing equipment and fabricating devices.

“I think everyone has to understand that the kinds of operations they’re doing in the deep sea have never been done before,” said McNutt, who is helping lead a team of scientists from the Department of Energy, NASA and others in helping find a solution to the leak.

So why the HELL were they allowed to drill a hole deeper than Mt. Everest is high then? Should there have been a plan A, plan B, and plan C already prepared in case of an emergency?

Why the HELL are we allowing a foreign oil company to run the show while the gross and disgusting mess they have made gets worse and worse and damages our country’s precious natural resources forever and kills off endangered species like the brown pelican?

Does Obama really want the Mississippi River to be permanently fouled with BP oil? Does he really want New Orleans to become a ghost town? Again, I ask, what the HELL is going on here?

I read this post by Rayne at FDL last night: “White House in Denial; Public Wants Real Action on BP Oil Disaster NOW” and finally it has made it onto Memeorandum. Perhaps it will get some attention. Rayne writes:

It’s been more than 30 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and the well nearly a mile below on the sea floor began to erupt oil and methane, killing 11 of our fellow citizens and injuring even more both immediately and in the continuing damage which followed.

And nothing has happened of any consequence since then.

Oh, we’ve had a Category 5 hurricane of hot air, some decent questions from Congressional hearings, but zippo-zilch-nada in the way of an effective solution.

I agree. It’s waaaayyyyy past time for some action! Rayne offers 11 suggestions, beginning with:

1) Obama needs to use that goddamned unitary executive power he’s been clinging to and declare a state of emergency in federal waters along the Gulf of Mexico, using an Executive Order. This is now an international situation, not just an American one, because the oil will eventually end up in the North Atlantic.

and ending with:

11) And right now I’m tempted to tell one Barack Obama to get really, genuinely excitedly-upset, be more than that Spock character for once, add the passion of Captain Kirk and the anger of Dr. McCoy in the mix. That fakery last week only made us heave with nausea.

Not likely Obama will show any genuine emotion, but maybe someone could help him figure out how to fake it. While the US media remains mostly cowed by the WH’s efforts to pretend this ecological horror isn’t really happening, the UK press is covering the very real damage that has already been done. From the Daily Mail:

A pelican colony off Louisiana’s coast was seen awash in oil yesterday with birds and their eggs coated in the ooze.

Nests rested in mangroves precariously close to the crude that had washed in.

Workers had surrounded the island with oil-absorbing booms, but puddles of oil had seeped through the barrier.

Anger with the government and BP PLC, which leased the rig and is responsible for the cleanup, has boiled over as more wildlife and delicate coastal wetlands are tainted.

The story says that Obama has sent some “officials down to survey the damage.” Isn’t it a little bit late for that? How about we actually DO something like kick BP out of the Gulf and then prosecuting them to the full extent possible? And then how about listening to the scientists who are evaluating what is really happening, but are being ignored by the do-nothing Obama administration? And Salazar should be gone yesterday.

I read in Dakinikat’s post from last night that some communities are actually trying to raise their own money to try to deal with the oil. What the HELL??!!! What is wrong with our government? And what is it going to take for Americans to rise up and demand real change? We need leadership right now, and if President Obama can’t do the job, he should step aside so we can find someone else who will.

From Daily Mail: nesting pelicans as oil washes ashore

Monday Morning News

Summer Tanager (male)

Good Morning Conflucians!!

I’m “back home again in Indiana,” visiting my mom. This afternoon we saw a beautiful bird–a Summer Tanager. It was bright red all over and gorgeous. I never even knew they existed. The females are beautiful too. They look something like a goldfinch, only they are olive green.

Summer Tanager (female)

It’s little moments like these that remind me that life is worth living even while the world economy is crumbling, the Gulf Coast may become a permanent dead zone, and we still have an incurious, uncaring, narcissistic President, even though George W. Bush has left the public stage for now.

As for the news, you’ve probably heard that BP finally managed to get their 100-mile-long siphon into the Deepwater Horizon gusher, but government officials say this is “not a solution.”

“This technique is not a solution to the problem, and it is not yet clear how successful it may be,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a joint statement.

“I don’t think we should get our hopes up until we know for sure that all of the oil is staying down,” said Edward Markey, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.

“With reports of miles-long undersea clouds of oil floating around the Gulf of Mexico, and the very real possibility that more oil has been spilled than previously estimated, this crisis is far from over,” he said.

According to BBC News, the chemicals that BP has been using to break up the oil may be causing the huge oil slicks that are building up down below the surface of the water.

Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology said they had detected the slicks lurking just beneath the surface of the sea and at depths of 4,000ft (1,200m).

Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia, said: “It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s impossible to fathom the impact.”

MSNBC reports that BP rig inspections were fewer than advertised

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that the Deepwater Horizon was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that the rig be inspected at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

In fact, the agency’s inspection frequency on the Deepwater Horizon fell dramatically over the past five years, according to federal Minerals Management Service records….Since January 2005, inspectors issued just one minor infraction for the rig. That strong track record led the agency last year to herald the Deepwater Horizon as an industry model for safety.

And did you hear that Brit Hume thinks the BP oil spill is no big deal? Here, from Think Progress, is an exchange that took place on Fox News this morning between Hume and Juan Williams:

WILLIAMS: First of all, don’t you think, this spill now is going to be in excess of what happened with Exxon Valdez.

HUME: Let’s see if that happens. There’s a good question today if you are standing on the Gulf, and that is: Where is the oil?

WILLIAMS: “Where is the oil?”

HUME: It’s not on — except for little of chunks of it, you’re not even seeing it on the shore yet.

WILLIAMS: But I think it will damage the environment in the gulf and damage tourism and damage fishing. I don’t think there’s any question this is in excess of anything we’ve previously asked the ocean to absorb.

HUME: We’ll see if it is. We’ll see if it is. The ocean absorbs a lot, Juan, an awful lot. The ocean absorbs a lot.

Here’s the video:

The Washington Post says that Obama is about to have another legislative victory–a financial “reform” bill.

Administration officials, along with Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), have walked a fine line: fending off most conservative efforts to scale back core elements of the legislation while resisting most liberal attempts at harsher regulations, including strict caps on the size of big banks. Senate Democrats also have courted key Republicans, including Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, by accepting some of their recommendations, including adding rules tying capital requirements to risk and clarifying which businesses would be covered by the new consumer agency.

Something tells me this bill is going to hand over a lot more money to banks and their lobbyists. I hope I’m wrong.

In other news, Glenn Beck gave the commencement address yesterday at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and received an honorary degree. Beck told the graduates that he

…never graduated from college but spent one semester at Yale University when he was 30…leaving because he could not afford the tuition.

Beck, who is Mormon, delivered a speech that emphasized the power of faith in righting a country that he said has gone off track.“I look at the things that are facing you today: the worst economy in generations, the euro on the road to collapse, we’re spending ourselves into oblivion…” he said. “We live in a time where you must have great courage; you must have great faith. We live in a time where it seems truth is on the run.”

His message to the graduates was peppered with tears, humor and even some offbeat wisdom, such as “cabs smell worse in the summer” and “labels are meaningless, but Louis Vuitton shoes are really the best.”

The article didn’t say if Beck had been drinking heavily before his speech.

At Boston University a very special graduation ceremony was held today for the class of 1970.

The accouterment and spirit of their era still radiate from the class of 1970, despite the harsh and abrupt ending to their years at Boston University.

That spring was supposed to bring a flowery conclusion to their four years of academe. But President Richard M. Nixon had invaded Cambodia. National Guardsmen had gunned down students at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Young men still faced the draft. And this campus, like many across the country, was in turmoil, with strikes, sit-ins, building takeovers and fire-bombings.

The situation became so incendiary that, for safety’s sake, university officials called off final exams, canceled graduation and sent students packing.

This weekend, on what would have been the 40th anniversary of that ceremony, the university sought to make amends with a proper graduation.

What the heck is going at Ohio colleges these days? It’s a lot worse than anything in Animal House from the reports I’ve been reading.

Sorority at Miami University of Ohio accused of drunken debauchery at Underground Railroad museum

Members of the Alpha Xi Delta at Miami University and their dates are accused of a laundry list of bad behavior at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati during a spring formal, the Associated Press reported.

Accusations include smoking inside the museum, excessive trashing of the dance floor and bathrooms, vomiting in different places, leaving puddles of urine in the men’s bathroom, stealing bottles of booze from the bar and smuggling their own alcohol inside the museum in flasks and plastic bottles.

But that’s not even the worst of it. In a letter to Miami U. officials, event coordinator Rhonda Miller wrote that

…she followed a male partygoer who ducked under the stanchions around the Slave Pen exhibit, which was built in the early 1800s and was used by Kentucky slave trader, Capt. John W. Anderson.

“In catching up with him, I found him about to relieve himself on the corner of this priceless and sanctified artifact,” Miller wrote.

“I told him to get out of the closed off area and use the restroom on the main floor. A Bensons Catering employee later found the same boy attempting to relieve himself on the freight elevator where Bensons had stored their food.”

After a sorority member vomited at the dinner table about a half hour into the 7 p.m. event, Miller said “we realized that seemingly every single sorority sister had illegally brought alcohol into the building in plastic juice or soda bottles and flasks.”

Previously, the Pi Beta Phi sorority at Miami of Ohio had been suspended by the university for similar behavior at another event venue. The suspension came after

a lodge owner complained about damage and unruly behavior at a spring formal including guests urinating in sinks, men scrambling over the bar for drinks, and couples caught having sex.

And at the University of Dayton,

A third Ohio sorority is in trouble after a wild party that authorities said involved vandalism.

The University of Dayton’s Alpha Phi sorority faces a May 27 disciplinary hearing for a March gathering at the Top of the Market banquet hall in Dayton.

Authorities said students were accused of urinating and vomiting on carpet and alcohol theft. A men’s bathroom sink was ripped off the wall and mustard and ketchup was sprayed around the facility.

And Obama thinks this younger generation is going to clean up the mess we baby boomers supposedly made back in ’60s and ’70s?

Here’s a WTF story for you: Congress may override Gates’ plans to cut defense spending

Lawmakers from both parties are poised to override Gates and fund the C-17 cargo plane and an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — two weapons systems the defense secretary has been trying to cut from next year’s budget. They have also made clear they will ignore Gates’s pleas to hold the line on military pay raises and health-care costs, arguing that now is no time to skimp on pay and benefits for troops who have been fighting two drawn-out wars.

The competing agendas could lead to a major clash between Congress and the Obama administration this summer. Gates has repeatedly said he will urge President Obama to veto any defense spending bills that include money for the F-35’s extra engine or the C-17, both of which he tried unsuccessfully to eliminate last year.

Let’s all keep this in mind when Congress and the President try to take away our Social Security and Medicare. There’s always plenty of money for weapons and banks and nothing for the ordinary people who pay the bills with our taxes.

I’ll end with this old song about Indiana, sung a cappella by “Straight, No Chaser,” a choral group from Indiana University.

So what are you reading this morning? Got any good news? Any bird sightings or other nature stories to share? Post whatever stories you like in the comments, and have a marvelous Monday. Where there’s life there’s hope!

Saturday Morning News and Views: May Day Edition

Beltane Fire Ritual, Edinburgh, Scotland

Happy May Day, Conflucians!! It’s the feast of Beltane. In Edinburgh, 12,000 people gathered for the Beltane Fire Festival spring rituals. Here is a little information on the pagan holiday:

By Celtic reckoning, the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30, because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Bel-fires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill, Co. Meath, in Ireland). These “need-fires” had healing properties, and skyclad Witches would jump through the flames to ensure protection.

Frequently, cattle would be driven between two such bonfires (oak wood was the favorite fuel for them) and, on the morrow, they would be taken to their summer pastures.

Other May Day customs include: processions of chimney-sweeps and milk maids, archery tournaments, morris dances, sword dances, feasting, music, drinking, and maidens bathing their faces in the dew of May morning to retain their youthful beauty.

In the words of Witchcraft writers Janet and Stewart Farrar, the Beltane celebration was principly a time of “…unashamed human sexuality and fertility.” Such associations include the obvious phallic symbolism of the Maypole and riding the hobby horse. Even a seemingly innocent children’s nursery rhyme, “Ride a cock horse to Banburry Cross…” retain such memories. And the next line “…to see a fine Lady on a white horse” is a reference to the annual ride of “Lady Godiva” though Coventry. Every year for nearly three centuries, a sky-clad village maiden (elected Queen of the May) enacted this Pagan rite, until the Puritans put an end to the custom.

May Day is also an important day for the labor movement.

At its national convention in Chicago, held in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which later became the American Federation of Labor), proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.” The following year, the FOTLU, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated their proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations. At first, most radicals and anarchists regarded this demand as too reformist, failing to strike “at the root of the evil.” A year before the Haymarket Massacre, Samuel Fielden pointed out in the anarchist newspaper, The Alarm, that “whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave.”

Despite the misgivings of many of the anarchists, an estimated quarter million workers in the Chicago area became directly involved in the crusade to implement the eight hour work day, including the Trades and Labor Assembly, the Socialistic Labor Party and local Knights of Labor. As more and more of the workforce mobilized against the employers, these radicals conceded to fight for the 8-hour day, realizing that “the tide of opinion and determination of most wage-workers was set in this direction.” With the involvement of the anarchists, there seemed to be an infusion of greater issues than the 8-hour day. There grew a sense of a greater social revolution beyond the more immediate gains of shortened hours, but a drastic change in the economic structure of capitalism.

Back here in the 21st Century, it’s been quite a week for news.

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