Sharing countercultural history. Investigating ideas on how to co-create sustainable community outside the box. Establishing said online resources content in one place. Thereby, mirroring the long process of what it takes to raise social justice, political and cultural consciousness collectively. Your mission, should you decide to join us, is to click on the yellow daisy on the left! All the best to you, in a world-wide affiliation!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship in Turbulent Times

"What's startling to me is that when I started talking about ideas like these 30 years ago, they were so new and strange that people looked at me as if I had two heads. In retrospect, I think I was looked on as something of a cultural clown - a "crazy" who was fun to listen to. The reaction I get now worries me a lot more, because what most people say is "Bob, today you're right, but we're not going to do anything about it."'
"My goal is to create a situation of full unemployment--a world in which people do not have to hold a job. And I believe that this kind of world can actually be achieved." _Robert Theobald

It is time for action in the streets, concerning full employment in America!

From his book, Rapids of Change, I quote the author, economist and futurist_ whose time is now:

Avoiding Catastrophic Failures (p.178-181)
The long-run cycles in Western industrial systems have played a critical part in ensuring the continued viability of rich societies. They have purged the excesses which accumulated as oversupply built up. Obsolete goods and facotires were consigned to the dustheap. Of course, this unemotional description of a slump hides the agony of people who (were)(my parenthesis) made useless. It also enables us to foget the wars that have been fought for markets./ Nevertheless, the mechanisms did work, despite the pain caused.
Today, however, we must learn how to prevent slumps and other massive catastrophes because the potential consequences are too dangerous. To do this we must gain a better understanding of what goes on during the development of the long-run cycle.
Economies emerge from a slump in a state of relative balance. People have been sufficiently firghtened by the disasters they have experienced that they choose to be careful. But as the years go by, excitement grows and the magnitude of the short-run cycles begins to increase.
Constraints, both regulatory and within professions, are imposed. But the general trend remains upward, and over excitement begins to take hold. Governments try to control these excesses. But the trends still look good to people. At this point, systems move onto a very dangerous downward slope through feverishness controlled by ever increasing power and then chaos.
At the end of the Carter Administration, we were firmly set on a course through fever into chaos because of excessive demand and inflation. The Reagan administration controlled inflation, but was also willing to allow other imbalances by pushing hige amounts of credit into the system, and by allowing business funding though junk bonds. Other countries have followed similar policies.
Can we move back up the circle and reverse the normal direction of flow toward entropy and breakdown? this question arises not only for economic slumps but also in human breakdowns. We can learn how we might act economically if we look at personal patterns. We used to assume that alcoholics and drug users had to fall, literally and figuratively, into the gutter before they would be willing to save themselves. It was thought that they would not be willing to make the effort to escape their cravings uintil there was absolutely no other option. We have now discovered ways to surround the alcoholic with fammily, friends and colleagues and to challenge her or him into accepting the need for change. this is a tough role because the alcoholic has perfected avoidance mechanisms and escape hatches just to avoid facing the ultimate consequences of his or her path. But an individual can be effectively confronted and the approaches to make the challenge as successful as possible have been developed over time.
Similarly, we have learned better skills for preventing catastrophic breakup in marriages if people wish to avoid anger and hatred. Families can be counseled in ways which help them decide whether they can effectively get back together or need to break up. If breaking up is necessary this cvan also be handled positively, although the need for leagal processes all too often detroys this possibility. Similar processes have been developed for larger groups including institutional renewal. I was able to healp a community college in Dallas rediscover the excitement of teaching and the joy of education. We do know the patterns and understandings which are required for both personal and institutional renewal.
We need to develop large-scale social processes similar to those which have been learned for individuals, families, and groups. We can confront people with the need for change in ways they cannot easiliy avoid. Personal change is achieved by forcing people to listen to what they don't want to hear. It might seem then that all we have to do is send more and more messages about growing evidence of potential catastrophe. This will not work, however, because most people have become experts at tuyning out messages they don't want to hear.
Unpleasant messages are all to easily blocked unless the messenger is trusted. The alcoholic eventually listens because the costs of ignoring the challenges of family, friends and colleagues is too high to be tolerable. We must develop a trust relationship with those we want ro influence in the society if we hope to get them to listen and then commit to avoiding total breakdown.
People are so stressed out today that the first step toward trust is to give them a chance to unwind. This is a fundamentally different strategy from that usually chosen by the change agents. Rapids is one step toward this new approach. It starts from the assumption that we can challenge people to move toward an attitude of realistic hope. Most people no longer believe that there is a shortcut to a better world, but many are still willing to try to build new approaches with each other.
The core aspect of our work will be to pull individuals, groups and systems away from the chaos into which we are drifting and back toward balance. Fortunately, a great deal of imaginative work has already been done in this area. We have the tools and models that can be employed, once we fully understand our directions and why they are fundamentally different from those of industrial systems."

To be continued... Ask yourself how much of this reading is a review? Where are we now? How is any of this information different? Should "industrial systems" be replaced with "corporate institutional/environments"?

*Thank-you for this uplifting inspiration from Diane Wilson!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Modest Needs, can you help?

ModestNeeds.Org - Small Change. A World Of Difference.

Have you ever heard of Modest Needs?

Even though the link I have provided takes you straight to my particular grant request, you can go to the homepage to check out the whole Modest Needs story from the "Start Here" section on the menu bar, or really, from the top of any page_ including mine.

My own grant request is modest, as I transition back into new employment, after a recession lay-off 10 months ago. Your donation, of any size to my request, will be ever so appreciated! Just click on the link below and thank-you, very much!!

Application 159557:  New Job - Rent Help - Modest Needs®

*Be sure to pass this information on to those you know who may need the kind of help available through a Modest Needs grant!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I for one will always stand for peace; What my father's costly death in US WAR taught me

An End to Constant War
Seven reasons we're always at war... and seven ways to quit.
by William J. Astore

"Most Americans are not only convinced we have the best troops, the best training, and the most advanced weapons, but also the purest motives." Photo by Jayel Aheram.

If one quality characterizes our wars today, it’s their endurance. They never seem to end. Though war itself may not be an American inevitability, these days many factors combine to make constant war an American near certainty. Put metaphorically, our nation’s pursuit of war taps so many wellsprings of our behavior that a concerted effort to cap it would dwarf BP’s efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Our political leaders, the media, and the military interpret enduring war as a measure of our national fitness, our global power, our grit in the face of eternal danger, and our seriousness. A desire to de-escalate and withdraw, on the other hand, is invariably seen as cut-and-run appeasement and discounted as weakness. Withdrawal options are, in a pet phrase of Washington elites, invariably “off the table” when global policy is at stake, as was true during the Obama administration’s full-scale reconsideration of the Afghan war in the fall of 2009. Viewed in this light, the president’s ultimate decision to surge in Afghanistan was not only predictable, but the only course considered suitable for an American war leader. Rather than the tough choice, it was the path of least resistance.

Why do our elites so readily and regularly give war, not peace, a chance? What exactly are the wellsprings of Washington’s (and America’s) behavior when it comes to war and preparations for more of the same?
Consider these seven:

1. We wage war because we think we’re good at it—and because, at a gut level, we’ve come to believe that American wars can bring good to others (hence our feel-good names for them, like Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom). Most Americans are not only convinced we have the best troops, the best training, and the most advanced weapons, but also the purest motives. Unlike the bad guys and the barbarians out there in the global marketplace of death, our warriors and warfighters are seen as gift-givers and freedom-bringers, not as death-dealers and resource-exploiters. Our illusions about the military we “support” serve as catalyst for, and apology for, the persistent war-making we condone.

2.    We wage war because we’ve already devoted so many of our resources to it. It’s what we’re most prepared to do. More than half of discretionary federal spending goes to fund our military and its war making or war preparations. The military-industrial complex is a well-oiled, extremely profitable machine and the armed forces, our favorite child, the one we’ve lavished the most resources and praise upon. It’s natural to give your favorite child free rein.

3. We’ve managed to isolate war’s physical and emotional costs, leaving them on the shoulders of a tiny minority of Americans. By eliminating the draft and relying ever more on for-profit private military contractors, we’ve made war a distant abstraction for most Americans, who can choose to consume it as spectacle or simply tune it out as so much background noise.

4. While war and its costs have, to date, been kept at arm’s length, American society has been militarizing fast. Our media outlets, intelligence agencies, politicians, foreign policy establishment, and “homeland security” bureaucracy are so intertwined with military priorities and agendas as to be inseparable from them. In militarized America, griping about soft-hearted tactics or the outspokenness of a certain general may be tolerated, but forceful criticism of our military or our wars is still treated as deviant and “un-American.”

High-tech drones, such as this Reaper drone are examples of machinery that drive up the cost of war. Photo by US Air Force.

5. Our profligate, high-tech approach to war, including those Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles, has served to limit American casualties—and so has limited the anger over, and harsh questioning of, our wars that might go with them. While the U.S. has had more than 1,000 troops killed in Afghanistan, over a similar period in Vietnam we lost more than 58,000 troops. Improved medical evacuation and trauma care, greater reliance on standoff precision weaponry and similar “force multipliers,” stronger emphasis on “force protection” within American military units: All these and more have helped tamp down concern about the immeasurable and soaring costs of our wars.

6. As we incessantly develop those force-multiplying weapons to give us our “edge” (though never an edge that leads to victory), it’s hardly surprising that the United States has come to dominate, if not quite monopolize, the global arms trade. In these years, as American jobs were outsourced or simply disappeared in the Great Recession, armaments have been one of our few growth industries. Endless war has proven endlessly profitable—not perhaps for all of us, but certainly for those in the business of war.

7. And don’t forget the seductive power of beyond-worse-case, doomsday scenarios, of the prophecies of pundits and so-called experts, who regularly tell us that, bad as our wars may be, doing anything to end them would be far worse. A typical scenario goes like this: If we withdraw from Afghanistan, the government of Hamid Karzai will collapse, the Taliban will surge to victory, al-Qaeda will pour into Afghan safe havens, and Pakistan will be further destabilized, its atomic bombs falling into the hands of terrorists out to destroy Peoria and Orlando.

Such fevered nightmares, impossible to disprove, may be conjured at any moment to scare critics into silence. They are a convenient bogeyman, leaving us cowering as we send our superman military out to save us (and the world as well), while preserving our right to visit the mall and travel to Disney World without being nuked.

The truth is that no one really knows what would happen if the United States disengaged from Afghanistan. But we do know what’s happening now, with us fully engaged: We’re pursuing a war that’s costing us nearly $7 billion a month that we’re not winning (and that’s arguably unwinnable), a war that may be increasing the chances of another 9/11, rather than decreasing them.

Capping the Wellsprings of War

Each one of these seven wellsprings feeding our enduring wars must be capped. So here are seven suggestions for the sort of “caps”—hopefully more effective than BP’s flailing improvisations —we need to install:

1. Let’s reject the idea that war is either admirable or good—and in the process, remind ourselves that others often see us as “the foreign fighters” and profligate war consumers who kill innocents (despite our efforts to apply deadly force in surgically precise ways reflecting “courageous restraint”).

2. Let’s cut defense spending now, and reduce the global “mission” that goes with it. Set a reasonable goal—a 6-8 percent reduction annually for the next 10 years, until levels of defense spending are at least back to where they were before 9/11—and then stick to it.

3. Let’s stop privatizing war. Creating ever more profitable incentives for war was always a ludicrous idea. It’s time to make war a non-profit, last-resort activity. And let’s revive national service (including elective military service) for all young adults. What we need is a revived civilian conservation corps, not a new civilian “expeditionary” force.

4. Let’s reverse the militarization of so many dimensions of our society. To cite one example, it’s time to empower truly independent (non-embedded) journalists to cover our wars, and stop relying on retired generals and admirals who led our previous wars to be our media guides. Men who are beholden to their former service branch or the current defense contractor who employs them can hardly be trusted to be critical and unbiased guides to future conflicts.

5. Let’s recognize that expensive high-tech weapons systems are not war-winners. They’ve kept us in the game without yielding decisive results—unless you measure “results” in terms of cost overruns and burgeoning federal budget deficits.

6. Let’s retool our economy and reinvest our money, moving it out of the military-industrial complex and into strengthening our anemic system of mass transit, our crumbling infrastructure, and alternative energy technology. We need high-speed rail, safer roads and bridges, and more wind turbines, not more overpriced jet fighters.

7. Finally, let’s banish nightmare scenarios from our minds. The world is scary enough without forever imagining smoking guns morphing into mushroom clouds.

There you have it: my seven “caps” to contain our gushing support for permanent war. No one said it would be easy. Just ask BP how easy it is to cap one out-of-control gusher.

Nonetheless, if we as a society aren’t willing to work hard for actual change—indeed, to demand it—we’ll be on that military escalatory curve until we implode. And that way madness lies.

William-J.-Astore.jpgWilliam J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and regular contributor to where this article first appeared.
He has taught at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School and currently teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

*Find the source from which I reposted this article, here!

When the Greater Good for All Prevails

Find the original article in Yes! Magazine, posted here!
Pecos Singer, a student at Santa Fe Waldorf High School in New Mexico, read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "Who Will Rule?" by Michael Marx and Marjorie Kelly.

Prompt: The article Who Will Rule? by Michael Marx and Marjorie Kelly in YES! Magazine, opens with these lines: “Corporate power lies behind nearly every major problem we face–from stagnant wages to unaffordable health care to over consumption and global warming.” What are corporations, why are they so bad, and why are they so powerful?

Read the original article "Who Will Rule?" Illustration by Don Baker for YES! Magazine.

A corporation is simply a group of shareholders, organized into a conglomerate that can be held liable separate from its owners. This maneuver helps CEOs and major shareholders avoid being held accountable for their business-related activities. The word “corporation” comes from the Latin corporare, meaning “to embody” (“corporation”).

The corporation is a machine, with a computer at its head. The script that the computer reads is called the charter, which dictates how the company will run. Nearly every corporation in the world today is a for-profit corporation that operates with only one objective: to generate high dividends for its shareholders. Here lie two major problems. The first is that most major shareholders are high up in the company. With their large portion of shares, they profit doubly as corporate executives and as incorporated investors. The second problem is that these people are also “incorporated” in politics. Not only do they use their tremendous monetary strength to influence the legislative and elective processes, they also end up holding offices in these very institutions. This, in turn, gives rise to a third problem. These powerful people who control many facets of government have their eyes focused on only the nearest future and the highest returns. The critical issue of “short-termism” causes blindness and greed to infiltrate important corporate and government decisions.

Michael Marx and Marjorie Kelly suggest in their article “Who Will Rule?” that “we need to restore democracy and … control corporate power.” “This means elevating the rights of local municipalities over corporations.” In a sense, this just means allowing power to rest with the people, not with the money, which is perhaps the primary issue with corporations in the world today. Because of the media, itself a massive for-profit industry, many high-ranking public officials gain office through sheer brute spending. And through corporate lobbying in D.C., laws are put into place that support the agendas of the biggest spending companies. As if this weren’t enough, people in the top corporations transition smoothly into powerful political offices and back again. This “revolving door” between corporations and politics, facilitated by a steady flow of cash, is the backbone of corruption in the modern West.

Corporations are like firearms. People don’t shoot people; guns shoot people. If there were no guns, no one would be shot. The government is the casing, and the money is the ammunition. These machines fire a million times a day, and no Kevlar vest can protect us. The only protection comes from severely restricting “the realms in which for-profit corporations operate.” “The solution is to develop strong institutions that have ownership rights over common wealth.” Imagine a corporation charter that viewed all profits as “for-benefit.” And shareholders who expected dividends “for the greater good,” investing in “well-being” and “happiness,” rather than gambling on monetary profits and losses.

Marx and Kelly recommend that we use the power of community to overcome corporations. “We can stop thinking that the solution is more Democrats in power, and realize it is more democracy.” By working together, we can achieve feats of immense magnitude:

“We can knit ourselves into a single movement by adopting common frames and by integrating strategic common priorities into existing campaigns. For example, campaigns covering any issues from the environment to living wages could demand that targeted companies end all involvement in political campaigns.”

By striking boldly and accurately, the people of the world can reclaim the realm of politics and the economy.

I disagree with the first line of the article, blaming the corporations for the world’s problems. The problems arose before the corporations, who are merely a new face on the scene of humanity. The stage was set long before paper money and credit ratings, and before banks and machine guns. There is a chance for these new entities to be harnessed and used for good as well.

When you write, for example, that “By working together, we can achieve feats of immense magnitude,” I find my heart feel a hopefulness. - Majorie Kelly's response to this essay

The origins of the corporation lie next to the human desire to join together in order to fulfill something impossible for each part to accomplish individually. Yet this act of social community threatens to extinguish all that is human. The modern-day corporation shares ties not only with nature, where bees live in hive-communities to amass life-giving honey, but also with most organized religions, where people of similar beliefs congregate to achieve something holy or sacred. All three seek to unite many parts in order to benefit the whole. There is one fatal difference, however. The corporation itself takes on a persona, not as a human-like “God” character of the Middle Ages, who is either wrathful or merciful, but as a monster of accumulation and insatiable hunger. Because the conventional goal of the corporation is to make profits for its shareholders, the creators of a corporation incarnate a portion of their own innate, human greed into an entity of self-restraint.

The answer will not come through politics, nor will it come solely through economical means. This next revolution will be no different from those that came before it. It will be a philosophical revolution, but it can only be achieved when human beings resolve their relationship with technology, intellectualism, and machines, whose tremendous power for destruction could spell out doom for all life. At the heart of the philosophical revolution will be the determination and courage to spell out: “That is wrong and this is right for the good of all.”

Practically speaking, however, it will be the grassroots initiatives that will pull us into a glorious twenty-first century. This laurel will rest with cooperative movements and ecologically sustainable communities. But the crown gem of this revolution could be the powerful bankers, the CEOs, and the senators who hear the call and also rally for the greater good. These people are in an excellent place to greatly affect our future; all they need is a bit of persuasion.

Yes, this may sound utopian, but I agree with Marx and Kelly when they say, “with a citizens movement, we could turn these musings into reality in 20 years.” In the words of John Lennon, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Pecos SingerDaniel "Pecos" Singer is a graduate of the Santa Fe Waldorf High Schooland is matriculating at the University of Oregon, School of Music and Robert D. Clark Honors College, in the Fall 2010. Pecos plans to turn his passion into a career by majoring in music.


* Want an opportunity for your students to step up their writing and write for a real audience? Learn about how to join the YES! Magazine Exemplary Essay Project here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July Fourth Outrage: British Gov't Elevates Disgraced BP Boss

by Tom Bower

The U.K. government has appointed former BP chief Lord Browne as its new efficiencyczar. Tom Bower on the extraordinary insult of promoting the man who bears huge responsibility for the Gulf oil crisis.

The British government appointed Lord Browne, the former CEO of BP, as a new “super-director” to cut waste and increase the efficiency of the British government machine in Whitehall. The announcement of Browne’s appointment was delayed while officials weighed the consequences of inevitable controversy. Browne is widely blamed for the drastic cuts of BP’s safety and maintenance program of its oil installations in the U.S. while he was BP’s CEO between 1998 and 2007. The consequence of those cuts were three major accidents in the U.S.—an explosion at the Texas City refinery in 2005, two oil spills in Alaska in 2006; and the current catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Adamantly, Browne has refused to discuss his responsibility for the Gulf crisis. He is undoubtedly relieved that the British government decided to ignore the allegations about his culpability and promote him to a senior position. Ever since he was forced to abruptly retire from BP after signing an untruthful court statement about his gay relationship with a young Canadian, he has struggled to restore his reputation as the “Sun King.”

The hapless Tony Hayward who inherited the poisoned legacy was never suitable to repair the damage which inevitably led to the explosion one mile beneath the Gulf’s waters.

Lord Browne's spotty tenure at BP

Small, dapper, and authoritarian, Browne transformed BP from a dying oil corporation in the early 1990’s into the world’s second largest oil behemoth. By re-focusing BP on “elephants”—the big oil reservoirs—and ruthlessly cutting costs, his mastery of financial engineering used BP’s rising share price to stage audacious takeovers of failing oil companies, especially Arco and Amoco in America. BP flourished by consistently discovering new reserves to replenish the oil it was extracting. His stint at BP showed he was the master of so-called efficiency savings and self-publicity. In a speech at Stanford, he re-branded BP as “Beyond Petroleum”—the world’s most environmentally friendly oil company. The re-labelling was condemned by many environmentalists as a cynical ruse but, with the help of lobbyists and donations to Congressmen and senators, Browne won praise in Washington as a pathfinder for the oil industry and, unusually, a CEO who could be trusted.

Full coverage of the BP oil spill

In reality, behind BP’s new sunburst logo, some insiders were railing against an increasingly putrid organization. Unwilling to tolerate their criticism, Browne ruthlessly removed talented executives and potential rivals who threatened to prematurely inherit his crown. What remained were “the turtles,” the sycophants trusted by Browne to carry his burden and unquestioningly deliver his ambition. Tony Hayward ranked among the chosen ones, as did Robert Dudley, the new American supremo.

Cutting costs was Browne’s obsession. His philosophy was ‘More for less”—100 percent of a task would be completed at a cost of only 90 percent of the previous resources. Targets became his Gospel. On July 11, 2000, he announced that BP’s production would annually grow over three years by 5.5 percent to 7 percent, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Angola. In fact, growth never exceeded 2.9% and skilled oil men resigned rather than worship Browne’s impossible dream. Among them was Doug Ford, the ex-Amoco executive responsible for refineries including Texas City. Ford was appalled by Browne’s confrontational challenges to cut costs accompanied by the unspoken threat: “You’d better deliver.” Meetings with Browne were characterized by Al Kozinski, also an ex-Amoco refinery specialist as “a clash of big egos.” Browne expected clicking of heels in obedience rather than measured discussion. He ignored warnings about the consequences of his draconian cuts. Along with hundreds of BP’s engineers, Ford and Kozinski resigned and were replaced by a Browne “turtle,” John Manzoni, an accountant who zealously pruned safety and maintenance costs. The first casualties were 15 sub-contractors killed at an explosion in Texas City. A US government report blamed “systemic lapses” by BP’s management and budget cuts which knowingly left at Texas City “unsafe and antiquated designs…in place, and unacceptable deficiencies in preventive maintenance were tolerated.”

Although he paid lip-service to investing in maintenance, Browne rejected the criticism and continued to replace BP’s engineers with sub-contractors. Just as ExxonMobil was hiring engineers because “drilling is the core of our business,” Browne was ditching BP’s in-house expertise which could second-guess every technical operation on land and under the sea. Farming-out saved money but changed BP’s culture. Instead of specializing in oil engineering—needed to minutely supervise the sub-contractors working on Deep Horizon in the Gulf—Brown pursued financial engineering to fulfill his ambition: to overtake ExxonMobil and transform BP into the world’s biggest oil corporation. His goal could only be realised if BP’s high profits sustained a record share price to grease a merger with Shell. He was betting the house on beating his competitors.

Despite the condemnation of Browne by the U.S. government’s regulator in Texas, he approved Manzoni’s continued cut backs on maintenance in Alaska—even abolishing the employees annual lobster feast. When oil burst through a corroded pipeline, Browne pleaded honest apologies but Congressional investigators unearthed negligence and even suppression of the evidence. In London, Peter Sutherland, BP’s highly respected Irish chairman, was exasperated by Browne’s behaviour and suspicious of his excuses. He wanted Browne out but the wily executive had made the appointment of a suitable replacement impossible. No one of real aptitude had been left standing after Browne’s cull. The hapless Tony Hayward who inherited the poisoned legacy was never suitable to repair the damage which inevitably led to the explosion one mile beneath the Gulf’s waters.

Since his retirement, Browne published, Beyond Business: An Inspirational Memoir From a Visionary Leader. So far the British, with bizarrely civilized manners, have not damned Browne for his “vision.” Instead, the government has promoted him to deploy the same skills for Britain as he applied to BP.

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.

Tom Bower is a distinguished investigative historian, broadcaster, and journalist, as well as the author of several bestselling books about tycoons, politicians, intelligence and post-war Europe.

Get a head start with the Morning Scoop email. It's your Cheat Sheet with must reads from across the Web. Get it. For more books coverage follow Book Beast on Twitter.

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* Find the complete article here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Health concerns emerge over BP oil spill

By Bill Lindner

Seventy-three days after the Gulf Coast oil crisis began, people are being advised to avoid some coastal areas affected by the BP oil spill. Also, there are concerns over the health and safety of workers involved in clean-up efforts.
More than two months since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up, causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, oil continues spewing unabated into the Gulf of Mexico and reaching land in several states. Now health concerns of residents and cleanup workers in the areas affected by the spill are growing.
There are reports from parts of Florida that water in the Gulf may not be safe for swimming. The CDC says that swimming in water affected by the oil spill will be unpleasant and could be harmful. They also recommend avoiding contact with oil that ends up on shore because coming into close contact with the oil for long periods of time can be harmful. CNN reports a health advisory was issued Thursday for all beaches in Escambia County, including Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key and parts of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Advisories were also issues for beaches along certain stretches of Mississippi and Alabama.
In Louisiana, the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau website reports "most of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, 70 percent, is unaffected by the oil spill and remains open for commercial and recreational fishing...All affected areas, as well as areas of uncertainty, have been closed to fishing by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in portions of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Terrebonne parishes."
More oil will be pushed onto Gulf Coast beaches and further inland this hurricane season, which will reportedly shut down BP's clean up and recovery efforts for a couple weeks.
'Large gaps' in health data of the 34,000 workers that are cleaning up the largest oil spill in U.S. history are reportedly reaping concern that British Petroleum (BP) will cover up problems should they arise.
According to a Business Week report, there are few studies on the long-term ramifications of exposure to crude oil toxins, but a 2002 study from the Prestige Oil spill off the Galician Coast found biomarkers indicating that those cleanup workers, coastal residents and fishermen faced a higher-risk of cancer than the rest of the population.
Business Week reported that Linda McCauley, dean of the Emory University's school of nursing in Atlanta who led a panel on health effects of the Gulf spill at a U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) hearing, is worried about transparency because the cleanup workers are hired by the same company responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

CDC Advises People to Avoid the Oil and Spill-affected Areas

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims to have reviewed sampling data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and says that levels of the chemical dispersant are 'well below' the level that could harm pregnant women or their unborn children, but goes on to say that the effects of the chemicals depends on many factors. The CDC is working with the EPA to monitor the levels of oil in the environment.
The CDC further notes that: "People, including pregnant women, can be exposed to these chemicals by breathing them (air), by swallowing them (water, food), or by touching them (skin). If possible, everyone, including pregnant women, should avoid the oil and spill-affected areas" and recommends using a N95 respirator mask -- something BP refuses to let cleanup workers wear -- with an odor control feature to provide some relief from the smell in the Gulf Coast, but says you do not need to use one for your safety based on what they know now.
Some of the chemicals in the dispersant can cause harm to people under some conditions according to the CDC. For most people, brief contact with small amounts of oil spill dispersant won't be harmful, but longer contact with them can cause a rash, dry skin, and eye irritation. Breathing in or swallowing the dispersant can cause nausea, vomiting and possibly throat and lung irritation.
BusinessWeek also reported that children are among the most-susceptible population after the spill workers. Children could be more prone to inhalation problems associated with the spill, absorption through their skin and ingestion because children tend to put things in their mouths and fail to follow public guidelines.

More Than a Million Gallons of Corexit Dumped into the Gulf

Eight researchers interviewed by Business Week over a period of several days said that the government must track the extent of the exposure, gather consistent and clear data, and routinely test cleanup workers to detect early signs of problems.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has $10 million set aside to study the public health impact of the oil spill which will focus on cleanup workers and residents in the Gulf Coast. The health problems won't be limited to physical ailments and illnesses. Louisiana officials are reportedly warning of a potential mental health crisis in communities affected by the oil spill and are calling on BP to fund mental health programs.
In May, the EPA Administrator reportedly promised to conduct tests to determine the least toxic, most effective dispersant available in the volumes necessary for a crisis the magnitude of the Gulf Coast spill. As of June 27, those tests have not been completed and at least 1.4 million gallons of Corexit has been dumped into the Gulf. There have already been widespread reports of cleanup crews suffering from various injuries including respiratory distress, dizziness and headaches.
The Corexit dispersant is also suspected of inflicting widespread crop damage and a whistle blower is reportedly testifying that BP's use of Corexit is a deliberate attempt to sink oil as a coverup. The last two months have revealed why anyone would worry about BP withholding information or covering things up: BP's most recent coverup reportedly involves trucking in sand to cover up the oil on the beaches instead of cleaning the oil up.
A recent article from the New York Times that claims the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) -- which enforces worker-safety standards onshore and near shore in the Gulf of Mexico -- continues affirming that its tests show no risk of unsafe chemical exposures among responders to the spill from the chemical dispersant being used by BP despite the Environmental Protection Agency's directive to stop using them.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that "As much as 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, enough to potentially deplete oxygen and create a dead zone, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday."

Majority of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Cleanup Workers now Dead

BP said that Methane makes up about 40 percent of the leaking crude by mass in late May. Large amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide, benzene and methylene chloride -- in addition to the Methane -- are also leaking into the Gulf. Throw in the toxic dispersant being used by BP and you've got a deadly chemical cocktail that could easily be absorbed and spread by hurricanes, killing virtually everything it comes into contact with, including humans. Plans are reportedly being put in place for the mandatory evacuation of cities and towns within a 200-mile radius of the gusher.
Rachel Maddow recently pointed out that BP netted $58.5 billion over the past three years. They reportedly spent $29 million researching safer ways to drill over those same three years and spent nothing -- zero dollars -- researching how to respond to an oil spill. BP falsified their clean up response plan, which the U.S. government quickly approved, using dead experts. A recently uncovered BP document bragged of Gulf of Mexico growth and cheap production costs.
A recent CNN report claims that the vast majority of those who worked on the clean up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 are now dead, and one expert told CNN that the life expectancy for those who worked on it is about 51 years. The Gulf of Mexico spill has surpassed the Exxon Valdez many times over and will continue doing so. A video released by John L. Wathen reveals some of the damage done by the oil spill that paints a damning picture of oil saturated water that is killing schools of dolphins and more.
A lengthy article from Uruknet -- Gulf Coast Toxicity Syndrome -- reports on effects from the oil spill that you can see, like oil washing ashore, and those you can't see, like when oil compounds break down and go airborne, highlighting part of the nightmare unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, the disastrous cost to mankind, and the epic, ongoing coverup by Federal health officials, the government and BP.
Why is BP in charge of the oil spill response? A report from the Washington Examiner reveals just how bad BP's clean up response has been. There are reports of shoddy disposal work being done by cleanup workers hired by BP that is actually doing more harm than good.
The Institute of Medicine recently held a two-day workshop assessing the human health effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Information from the EPA regarding health and the oil spill can be found at their website. It's impossible to say what the overall health impact will be at the moment, and as noted by Daily Finance, there are far more questions than answers at this stage. More information on crude oil spills and health can be found from the National Library of Medicine, the CDC, and the LSU media center.