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Beaker

Mounting Liability on Gulf Coast: Corexit Maker Will Not Get Immunity from Thousands of Personal Injury Claims

Spraying chemical dispersant Corexit
© n/a
Spraying chemical dispersant Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico
It's been a brutal few weeks for BP and the other companies involved in last year's Gulf oil spill. BP in particular has been throttled by a barrage of bad news as the date looms for the massive multi-district liability trial to begin in New Orleans.

A highly critical government report released last month blasts BP for egregious safety lapses and reckless cost-cutting efforts - opening the door to hefty punitive-damage awards and greatly increasing the likelihood that criminal charges will be brought. At the same time, two academic studies signaled that BP's liability could be much farther-reaching than the company and its attorneys predicted. One study focuses on the spill-related developmental and reproductive problems of the Gulf's killifish while the other reveals that the oil BP sunk to the seafloor with dispersant isn't breaking down as expected (see links to my previous posts below).

Well, if the defendants thought it couldn't get any worse, they need to think again - and those who thought they were immune from prosecution should go ahead and lawyer up if they haven't already.

You see, up to this point, the bulk of the liability had been tied to the 200 million gallons of oil that BP's Macondo Well spewed into the Gulf. But now, according to an Oct. 3 report from Courthouse News, a federal judge has ruled that the "companies involved in the use of the dispersant Corexit during the Deepwater Horizon spill last year cannot get immunity from what may be hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims."

Comment: While it is welcome news that those damaged by BP's reckless actions with respect to the Gulf spill, the damage is much more catastrophic than is being publicised.

Life on this Earth Just Changed: The North Atlantic Current is Gone


Bulb

Turning Warren Buffett's quick-fix deficit plan into reality

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Occupy Everything
Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971... before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Che Guevara

Comrades in Cairo send solidarity, and advice, to Occupy Wall Street

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© Nick Turse/Alternet
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in sol­i­dar­ity. Having received so much advice from you about tran­si­tion­ing to democracy, we thought it's our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call "The Arab Spring" has its roots in the demon­stra­tions, riots, strikes and occu­pa­tions taking place all around the world, its foun­da­tions lie in years long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repres­sion, dis­en­fran­chise­ment and the unchecked ravages of global cap­i­tal­ism (yes, we said it, cap­i­tal­ism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhab­i­tants. As the interests of gov­ern­ment increas­ingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transna­tional capital, our cities and homes have become pro­gres­sively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic devel­op­ment or urban renewal scheme.

An entire gen­er­a­tion across the globe has grown up realizing, ratio­nally and emo­tion­ally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under struc­tural adjust­ment policies and the supposed expertise of inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, indus­tries and public services were sold off and dis­man­tled as the "free market" pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immis­er­a­tion rein­forced by a massive increase in police repres­sion and torture.

Eagle

Setup? 5 People, 4 Companies Indicted in Iran Exports

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© Bendib
Some radio devices turned up in roadside bombs in Iraq, prosecutors say

Washington - Five people and four companies have been indicted for allegedly plotting to export 6,000 radio control devices to Iran, including 16 of the items that were found in improvised explosive devices in Iraq, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Authorities in Singapore arrested four people in the case Monday. The fifth defendant is a resident of Iran who remains at large.

According to the indictment, in 2008 and 2009, U.S.-led forces in Iraq recovered numerous radio controls manufactured by a Minnesota firm used in a remote detonation system for IEDs. The radio devices can transmit data wirelessly as far as 40 miles with a powerful antenna.

The defendants allegedly made tens of thousands of dollars for arranging the transportation of the 6,000 radio devices in five shipments from June 2007 to February 2008.

Some of the defendants also are accused of conspiracy involving exports of military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong.

The defendant who is at large, Hossein Larijani, is a citizen of Iran. The four people arrested are all citizens of Singapore. They are Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson.

Wong, Nam, Seng and Hia allegedly conspired in the shipment of 6,000 of the radio control devices from a Minnesota company through Singapore to Iran. Seng and Hia also are accused of conspiring to ship military antennas from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Comment: This whole story has a rancid odor to it. A [unnamed Massachusetts] company is the initial seller. The items could possibly be for a remote controlled airplane for all we really know.

A strange suspicion in this is the items are sold to another country, that country sells them to any so-called enemy of the U.S. and blame is created [by the US], so that said enemy can be attacked for something that cannot be proven it has done [for the creation of IED's which has been disproven]. This creates tension so the cycle of violence can continue, and cross new boarders. This is how the Secret Team is able to make up new enemies world wide - blame your enemies for what you yourself are doing. The technique has been effective in Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Afghanistan, Libya and others.


Wall Street

Lemony Snicket's 13 observations about Occupy Wall Street

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Unfortunate
Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn't mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. "Fortune" is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child - rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

Bomb

Swiss Police: 1 Dead, 14 Injured in Building Blast

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© AP/Keystone/Dominic Favre
Firefighters try to extinguish the fire in an apartment building in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, Tuesday Oct. 25, 2011.
Geneva - Swiss police say one person has died and 14 are injured after an explosion at an apartment block in the western city of Yverdon-les-Bains.

A spokesman for Vaud cantonal (state) police says the blast occurred shortly after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday (1130 GMT; 7.30 EST) on the fourth floor of a residential building in the center of the city.

The spokesman, Jean-Christophe Sauterel, told The Associated Press that police are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion.

Amateur footage taken from the scene, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the capital Bern, showed a blackened hole in the side of the building and passers-by stepping over debris that was strewn across the street.

Sauterel says eight of the injured have been hospitalized.

Ambulance

2-week-old girl, mom rescued from Turkey quake rubble

Mother clutched infant to her chest when rescuers reached them
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© Cem Ozdel/Abaca
Rescue workers and heavy equipment work at the site of a collapsed building following the earthquake in Ercis, on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Ercis, Turkey - Rescuers pulled a two-week-old baby girl alive from the wreckage of a collapsed apartment block Tuesday as they battled to find survivors from a earthquake in eastern Turkey that killed at least 432 people and left thousands homeless.

The baby's mother and a grandmother were also brought out alive on stretchers to jubilant cries from onlookers who followed the dramatic rescue under cold, pouring rain.

"It's a miracle!," said Senol Yigit, the uncle of the baby, Azra, whose name means "purity" or "untouched" in Arabic. "I'm so happy. What can I say. We have been waiting for two days. We had lost hope when we first saw the building," he said sobbing.

Television footage showed rescuers in orange jumpsuits clapping as the baby was removed from the wreckage. A rescuer cradled the naked infant, who was wrapped in a blanket and handed over to a medic.

The baby's mother, Semiha, had been pinned next to a sofa inside the flattened building before her rescue. She had been clutching the infant to her chest when rescuers reached them.

Sheriff

California, US: Police Clear Protesters Near Oakland's City Hall

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© Ben Margot/AP Photo
Protesters walk along a path beside tents erected in front of Oakland City Hall on Wednesday.
Police in riot gear cleared anti-Wall Street protesters on Tuesday morning from the plaza in front of Oakland's City Hall where they have been camped out for about two weeks.

Television news footage showed numerous people in plastic handcuffs being led away from the site by police around 5 a.m. The protesters did not appear to be resisting, although an officer did fire a non-lethal projectile from a shotgun at a protester who lobbed a bottle, authorities told the San Francisco Chronicle.

One of those arrested, Aiyahnna Johnson, 30, of Oakland, had been living at the camp with her 2-year-old daughter. "We want the best for you guys, that's all," she was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle telling two officers who were leading her away.

The police action began around 4:40 a.m. when an officer on a loud speaker told the protesters they were illegally blocking the plaza and were subject to arrest, according to the Chronicle. The newspaper reported that several hundred people appeared ready to defend the camp about an hour before police moved in, placing Dumpsters, boards, pallets and even metal police-style barricades around the plaza.

Alarm Clock

Millions of aborted girls imbalance India

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© Davinder Kumar/Plan International
India has only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to the latest census

Gender selective abortions have skewed birthrates, so millions of men will never find wives, potentially causing strife.

Dr Neelam Singh is on the front line of India's battle to save its girls.

Modern medical technology - specifically ultrasounds for determining the baby's sex - coupled with ancient cultural values which give preference to boys, mean that hundreds of thousands of girls are never being born.

There were only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six in India, according to the 2011 census, compared with 927 for every 1,000 boys in the 2001 census. Today's ratio is the highest imbalance since the country won independence in 1947.

Bad Guys

Millionaires and Corporations are Using Tax Breaks to Help Sway Public Opinion

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© Daniel Pudles
Since the late 19th century, the very rich have been paying people to demand less government. The work of Herbert Spencer, for example, was sponsored by Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller and Thomas Edison. Spencer believed that society changed according to evolutionary laws. Humans were evolving towards perfection, but this process was inhibited by interference from the state. By protecting people from the consequences of their own actions (or their own bad luck), it stopped the winnowing process that would otherwise result in the survival of the fittest.

Social security, publicly funded education, compulsory vaccination, laws enforcing safety at work all interrupted social evolution. But a self-regulated free market would swiftly ensure that those who were best adapted would survive and triumph. It's not hard to see why the millionaires loved him. They saw themselves as winners of the evolutionary race, taking their rightful place at the pinnacle of the social order. Any attempt to limit their freedoms would prevent society from achieving perfection.

Today, sponsorship by millionaires and corporations explains why free-market thinktanks outnumber and outspend the thinktanks arguing for public services and the distribution of wealth. Or so I guess. But their absence of accountability means that guesswork is all we've got. As I showed last month, only one of the rightwing thinktanks I contacted was prepared to reveal who funded it. All the others refused on the grounds that they had to respect the privacy of their donors. These organisations exert great influence in public life. But we have no means of discovering on whose behalf they do it.