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Scientists Warn Oil Spill Could Threaten Florida Scientists warned Monday that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico was moving rapidly toward a current that could carry it into the Florida Keys and the Atlantic Ocean, threatening coral reefs and hundreds of miles of additional shoreline.
Government officials insisted that the oil had not yet entered the gulf’s so-called loop current, and that they were continuing to monitor the movement of the spill closely. But two independent scientists, analyzing ocean current and satellite data, said the oil was in an eddy that was quickly being drawn into the current, portending a much wider spread of the hazardous slick.
The White House, meanwhile, said late Monday that President Obama would soon name an independent commission to investigate the cause of the spill and the response to it, largely supplanting the inquiry now being conducted by the United States Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, the Interior Department agency responsible for overseeing offshore oil operations. The role of both agencies in approving the drilling, preparing for an accident and supervising the cleanup are part of any overall inquiry and have raised questions about the independence of their work. (New York Times)
60 Minutes-Blowout: The Deepwater Horizon Disaster A Survivor Recalls His Harrowing Escape; Plus, A Former BP Insider Warns Of Another Potential Disaster - The gusher unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew crude oil. There are no reliable estimates of how much oil is pouring into the gulf. But it comes to many millions of gallons since the catastrophic blowout. Eleven men were killed in the explosions that sank one of the most sophisticated drilling rigs in the world, the "Deepwater Horizon."
This week Congress continues its investigation, but Capitol Hill has not heard from the man "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley met: Mike Williams, one of the last crewmembers to escape the inferno. (CBS)
Flood of outside money hits the primaries $9.6 million from independent groups spent on Arkansas race - The flood of money comes under campaign laws that bar coordination with the candidates and sometimes allow donors to hide their identity. Outsiders can be left guessing about the true political objective, and already, one organization has produced an ad that's drawn accusations of racism. According to campaign professionals in both parties, these independent efforts can achieve their stated purpose — or actually hinder the candidate they are designed to help. (Associated Press)
Found: genes that let you live to 100 SCIENTISTS have discovered the “Methuselah” genes whose lucky carriers have a much improved chance of living to 100 even if they indulge in an unhealthy lifestyle. The genes appear to protect people against the effects of smoking and bad diet and can also delay the onset of age-related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease by up to three decades. No single gene is a guaranteed fountain of youth. Instead, the secret of longevity probably lies in having the right “suite” of genes, according to new studies of centenarians and their families. Such combinations are extremely rare — only one person in 10,000 reaches the age of 100. (London Times)
CFR Meeting: Zbigniew Brzezinski Fears Global Political Awakening "For the first time in all of human history, mankind is politically awakened. That's a total new reality. Total new reality. It has not been so for most of human history, until the last 100 years. And in the course of the last 100 years, the whole world has become politically awakened. And no matter where you go, politics is a matter of social engagement and most people know what is generally going on -- GENERALLY going on -- in the world, and are consciously aware of inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation." (Council on Foreign Relations)
U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts Earlier this year, government officials admitted that the military had sent a group of former Central Intelligence Agency officers and retired Special Operations troops into the region to collect information — some of which was used to track and kill people suspected of being militants. Many portrayed it as a rogue operation that had been hastily shut down once an investigation began. But interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials and businessmen, and an examination of government documents, tell a different a story. Not only are the networks still operating, their detailed reports on subjects like the workings of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan and the movements of enemy fighters in southern Afghanistan are also submitted almost daily to top commanders and have become an important source of intelligence. (New York Times)
CONTRACTS Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded an $8,925,518 contract which will develop innovative cyber security capabilities and network defense for Air Force information systems. At this time, $164,682 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002, Delivery Order 0410). (US Department of Defense)
Bailout Is ‘Nail in the Coffin’ for Euro, Rogers Says "I was stunned," Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Singapore. "This means that they’ve given up on the euro, they don’t particularly care if they have a sound currency, you have all these countries spending money they don’t have and it’s now going to continue." (Bloomberg)
Oil spill: BP had wrong diagram to close blowout preventer Frank Patton, a drilling engineer for the government's Mineral Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling, told a separate inquiry in Kenner, La., that drilling mud "is the most important thing in safety for your well." He said that any alteration to the blowout preventer would have required both BP and MMS approval. (McClatchy Newspapers)
Pentagon says military response to cyber attack possible The Pentagon would consider a military response in the case of a cyber attack against the United States, a US defense official said on Wednesday.
Asked about the possibility of using military force after a cyber assault, James Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy, said: "Yes, we need to think about the potential for responses that are not limited to the cyber domain."
But he said it remained unclear what constituted an act of war in cyberspace.
"Those are legal questions that we are attempting to address," Miller said at a conference in Washington, adding that "there are certainly a lot of grey areas in this field." (Agence France-Presse)
An Imperfect Improvement: Obama's New Drug War Strategy There's no question that it points in a different direction and embraces specific policy options counter to those of the past thirty years. But it differs little on the fundamental issues of budget and drug policy paradigm, retaining the overwhelming emphasis on law enforcement and supply control strategies that doomed the policies of its predecessors. (Huffington Post)
Kagan Argued to Ban Political Pamphlets The court, in its 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ruled against Kagan’s contention that the government can limit political speech by corporations. In a scathing concurrence to the opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts blasted Kagan’s argument. (Newsmax)
EPA Approves BP’s Use of Questionable Chemicals to Break Up Oil BP resumed spraying dispersants  into the Gulf of Mexico today, according to The Associated Press. The company started using the chemicals a week after the spill first occurred, but had halted their use in order to test their environmental impact.
As we've reported, the chemicals -- which are intended to thin out the oil -- contain harmful toxins of their own . Their exact makeup is kept secret, but they do contain a compound "associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems at high doses."
They're also called dispersants for a reason. The chemicals break up the oil and then disperse it, so instead of having the oil collect at the surface, dispersed droplets of oil can spread more quickly and in more directions. This means the droplets linger longer in the water, collecting on the seabed and harming the ecosystem offshore (ProPublica)
Justice Elena Kagan, and President Larry Summers Kagan's connections to Summers are interesting. She was a professor there when Summers arrived from his work at Treasury, under Bill Clinton, to deregulate banks and derivatives to get the gambling moving...guaranteed by the taxpayer. As President Summers of Harvard from 2001 to 2006, Kagan thrived. She was made a full professor, then Summers tapped her to be the Dean of Harvard Law. Her pet peeve there was to keep the American military and ROTC off campus because she disputes the "don't ask, don't tell" provisions put in place by Clinton. (NJ.com)
Mariana Griggs Ain’t OK W/ City Option 4 Community Gardens Today’s upcoming (2 p.m. rooom 6ES) community gardens briefing for the city council’s transportation and environment committee should prove to be a doozy if Oak Cliff Community Gardens President Mariana Griggs has some time at the podium. We checked in with her this a.m. via e-mail to get a read on how she felt about the city’s new “Option 4″ permitting community gardens. She forwarded us a brief thesis on the subject that she sent to Oak Cliff Community Garden members last night... (Oak Cliff People)
Obama Drug Policy Focuses On Prevention, Treatment The new drug control strategy to be released Tuesday boosts community-based anti-drug programs, encourages health care providers to screen for drug problems before addiction sets in and expands treatment beyond specialty centers to mainstream health care facilities. (Huffington Post)
Rupert Murdoch Loves Hillary Clinton: Conservative Media Mogul To Host Fundraiser For Liberal N.Y. Senator To call them a political odd couple would be a rash understatement.
Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch will host a fundraiser for liberal New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Financial Times reports.
The mating ritual of the unlikely allies has been under way for months. Clinton set political tongues to wagging last month by attending a Washington party celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fox News, the cable news channel owned by Murdoch.
The Financial Times quoted one unnamed source as describing the Clinton-Murdoch connection in this way: "They have a respectful and cordial relationship. He has respect for the work she has done on behalf of New York. I wouldn't say it was illustrative of a close ongoing relationship. It is not like they are dining out together." (CBS)
City Hall Continues to Bury Community Gardens Under Permits and Procedures On this beautiful Saturday morning following National Public Gardens Day, here's the absolute latest concerning City Hall's deeply felt desire to regulate community gardens.
First, the recap: Back on March 8 Kris Sweckard, director of the Office of Environmental Quality, put before the council's Transportation and Environment Committee three options that would allow Dallas citizens to plant community gardens -- one of which involved shelling out an are-you-effing-kidding $1,170 for a specific use permit. To which most of the council members said, "Uh ... no." And so off they went to try, try again.
And here's what Sweckard's come up with: a fourth option known as "Gardens By Right with Neighbor Input." It's spelled out in the briefing docs for Monday's meeting, but long story short ...
Elena Kagan's Goldman Sachs Ties Brought Up Again The Justice Department, likewise, downplayed the findings in statements issued to inquiring reporters. "This advisory group was comprised of leaders from various sectors including academia, the media, business, and other industry," said spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler. "They met once a year for a daylong conference organized around public policy matters. The group was not involved in making any investment decisions for the company." (Huffington Post)
Audit the Fed Amendment Modified – Allows Fed To Keep Secrets Ron Paul: “Bernie Sanders has sold out and sided with Chris Dodd to gut Audit the Fed in the Senate. His “compromise” is what the Administration and banking interests want: they’ll allow the TARP and TALF to be audited, but no transparency of the FOMC, discount window operations or agreement with foreign central banks. We need to take action and stop this!” (Ron Paul)
Boots & Coots Reports First Quarter Results "One event was the mobilization cost for the new ONGC secure and salvage project. By the end of the quarter we had mobilized and expect to realize the positive financial impact of the project in the second quarter. In addition there were costs associated with a higher than expected currency devaluation expense in Venezuela and expenses incurred relating to our announced merger agreement with Halliburton, both non-operational items." (Wall Street Journal)
Gerald Celente: Crash of 2010 inevitable The Dow Jones industrial market is down and looks to continue to head that direction. This is not good news for the worlds economies that are trying to bounce back after this recession hit many different nations. Is this a direct reflection of the Greece financial crisis? (Russia Today)
House Vote On Puerto Rico’s Status Divides Hispanic Lawmakers The House last week approved a measure that would allow a referendum on Puerto Rico’s political future. The bill provides for a two-step process in which Puerto Ricans would first vote on whether they wish to maintain the island’s current status as a U.S. commonwealth or change direction. If the latter choice prevails, Puerto Rico could then hold a second vote presenting four options: statehood, independence, the current status or sovereignty linked to the United States. (Democracy Now)
Safety fluid was removed before oil rig exploded in Gulf In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, Scott Bickford, a lawyer for a rig worker who survived the explosions, said the mud was being extracted from the riser before the top cement cap was in place, and a statement by cementing contractor Halliburton confirmed the top cap was not installed. Mud could have averted catastrophe - But Halliburton said in a statement that it had completed pouring cement that lines the well 20 hours before the blowout. After that cement lining is done, the federal Minerals Management Service requires at least two prefabricated cement plugs to be placed at the bottom of the well and farther up, with mud packed in between. Halliburton's official statement shows there was still one more cement plug to be inserted. (The Times-Picayune)
The Cover-up: BP's Crude Politics and the Looming Environmental Mega-Disaster WMR has been informed by sources in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that the Obama White House and British Petroleum (BP), which pumped $71,000 into Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign -- more than John McCain or Hillary Clinton, are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP's liability for damage caused by what can be called a "mega-disaster." (Wayne Madsen)
NY bomb attempt reignites security camera debate The thwarted Times Square car bombing has fueled the debate over security cameras and expensive surveillance for major cities, possibly providing a business opportunity to the security industry. - The bomb scare and quick capture of the suspect prompted U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York and others to ask for at least $30 million more in federal aid for video and security measures for New York City. That would be in addition to the $20 million in federal funding that has already been appropriated for 2010. (Reuters)
Video of SWAT Raid on Missouri Family SWAT team breaks into home, fires seven rounds at family's pit bull and corgi (?!) as a seven-year-old looks on. They found a "small amount" of marijuana, enough for a misdemeanor charge. The parents were then charged with child endangerment. (Reason)
Chernobyl Death Toll: 4,000 or 1 Million? Last week, a few alternative and environmental news outlets drew attention to a newly published science book that put the cumulative death toll of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident at more than a million—a story that had particular resonance on the 24th anniversary of the reactor meltdown, the book’s publication date. But the story did not bleed out into the mainstream media, and even the progressive website Alternet seemed suspicious, calling the 1 million estimate an “astounding allegation” in its headline.
The number is dramatically higher than the estimate of 4,000 deaths presented in a 2005 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Development Program—a figure that has often been criticized as being far too low and influenced by the IAEA’s pro-nuclear agenda. (UTNE Reader)
Netroots to Obama FCC: Inaction Is Not an Option Bloggers were joined by online advocacy groups including MoveOn, CredoAction, ColorofChange.org, SavetheInternet.com, Care2 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which are urging the FCC chair not to abdicate his responsibility to stop corporations from picking and choosing how users access information over the Internet. (Huffington Post)
BP's Worsening Spill Crisis Undermines CEO's Reforms When Mr. Hayward took over BP's leadership from John Browne three years ago this week, the company was at one of the lowest points in its history: badly run, accident-prone and accused in the aftermath of a deadly explosion at its Texas City refinery of putting profits before safety. Mr. Hayward turned BP around, boosting production, cutting costs and significantly reducing on-the-job injuries. Last month, he was confident enough to talk of an irreversible "change of culture" at BP. (Wall Street Journal)
Police cameras to flood Manhattan to prevent attacks The system "will greatly enhance our ability and the ability of the police to detect suspicious activity in real time, and disrupt possible attacks," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. The high-tech system, modeled on the "ring of steel" in London's financial district, is already in service in lower Manhattan, where Wall Street and the World Trade Center reconstruction site are located. (Agence France-Presse)
Usama Bin Laden Is Living Comfortably in Iran, Documentary Asserts The idea that Bin Laden is in Iran got a strong boost recently with the premiere of a documentary called “Feathered Cocaine.” In it, Alan Parrot, the film’s subject and one of the world’s foremost falconers, makes a case that Bin Laden, an avid falcon hunter, has been living comfortably in Iran since at least 2003 and continues to pursue the sport relatively freely. (FOX)
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