Connecting The Gooey Dots

   This is going be a kind of “stream of consciousness” thing today, so please hang with me as it could take some time to get to the point.  About the oil.  Again.  Down in the Gulf, where things appear to be even worse than anticipated, with as much as 210,000 gallons a day gushing from that hole in the ocean’s floor and giant clouds of oil forming beneath the surface in addition to the slicks up above.  One of the “clouds” is reported to be 3-miles long, 300 feet thick and 3-miles wide.  Big cloud.

So what do they do?  They stick a 4-inch pipe into the 22-inch hole that’s gushing oil, and the oil doesn’t stop gushing.  Golly.  I’m no engineer, but isn’t that kinda like sticking a straw into a malt glass, then tipping it upside down and thinking all the malted milk will magically be drawn into the straw instead of falling all over the floor?

Relax, America.  The pros from Dover have arrived.  They say their straw in the big hole method is capturing 15-20% of the leaking oil.   That’s 15-20% of 210,000 gallons a day.

First they tried a giant dome with a pipe on the top, which, theoretically, would have given them the ability to funnel the oil up through the dome, into the pipe and then up to a tanker on the surface.    Didn’t work.  Now they tried the little pipe in the big hole method, again in an attempt to channel the oil through a pipe up to a tanker on the surface.  That’s capturing 15-20%, which means it isn’t working well.  Even if it had worked, how much oil can one of those tankers hold and how rapidly would they be able to switch the pipe from one tanker to another?

Any of this bother you?

A couple of other methods are still under consideration.  One, is the so-called “junk shot.”  Dropping a bunch of golf balls and pieces of old tires and what-not on the leak, which I really can’t comprehend, but please understand, I’m no scientist.  Another technique, would involve dumping a combination of cement and mud on the leaky pipe, which sounds as though it might just overwhelm the oil flow and stop the leak.   The macho oil guys call it a”top kill.”

So why didn’t they try that first?  Before worrying about inserting some kind of a pipe that could direct the “product” up to tankers on the surface?

Is the objective to stop the leak, or to seal the leak AND recover some or all of the oil through a pipe running to the surface?   Who’s setting the agenda out there, the Coast Guard or BP?

I haven’t heard anyone raise the question, but it may be too delicate an issue for our leaders to handle.  Could be another one of those “too big” issues.  Like the banks that are “too big to fail.”  So big, their failure could threaten the country’s future.   So they’re holding that over our heads.  “Leave us alone, or we’ll bring you all crashing down!”

Be kind us, Mr. big banker man.  Please be good to us.  It’s all way over our heads, and we really need you to run the world for us.

Thank you,  Mr. Bush.  Thank you Mr. Clinton.  Thank you “shotgun” Cheney.   Thank you for this new world order.  Government of, by and for the multi-nationals.

If you think the banks have power, do a little reading about the oil companies.  If you’re over 40 or 50, you may remember a time when there were independent gas stations all over town that actually competed with one another.    Any number of independent refineries too.  Pretty much all gone now, aren’t they?

A couple of years ago, when gas prices were approaching the ability to attain an independent orbit, a guy who runs a service station just up the street here in the beautiful San Fernando Valley, begged me to do a story about the high gas prices.   “Somebody” he said, “has got to tell people that the price is being set by the refinery, and that the refinery is owned by the oil company, not me.”  Poor guy was tired of people chewing his head off.  Can’t blame him.  He was only making a couple of pennies on each gallon he sold.  The real profits were going to the oil company that owned the operation.

Control the supply and the distribution, and you control the price at the pump.   Come to an unspoken agreement with your competitors about what that price at the pump should be (what the disinformation experts are now referring to as “letting the market seek its own level”) and you can pretty much  just sit back and let the money roll on in.  Unless a big oil spill happens.  And all the fish and oysters and shrimp die, putting thousands of people out of work.

And now our nation’s leaders are attempting to get BP to agree to pay for the cleanup and other damages associated with the spill.  Oh, they’ve already said they will, but apparently there’s nothing in writing and federal legislation puts a cap of $75 million on how much the oil company is obligated to spend.   Why did our government geniuses agree to that when the oil companies are pulling in billions and a bad spill can easily go above $75 million?  Why did Senate Republicans, just kill a bill to increase the cap to $10 billion?

Maybe they weren’t all that worried?  In the words of British Petroleum CEO, Tony Hayward,  “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” 

Oh well, then.  That makes it all okay, doesn’t it?   “No,” you say?  Tough darts, Bubba.   The oil and gas industry has purchased our government, just as the  health insurance and pharmaceutical industries have.  And that brings me to the point.

Yesterday, a voter’s guide for our state election arrived in the mail.   It got me to thinking about the mid-terms and all the noise the pundits are making about incumbents being booted out of office regardless of party affiliation because “the government is broken and America is fed up.”

Fine.  Let’s get rid of everyone regardless of party affiliation, even if it means reverting to a Republican majority in the House and Senate.  Let’s go back to those 8 impossibly miserable, ignorant, mind numbing years of the neocon Bush/Cheney Administration.

Now there’s a really bad idea.  But the oil companies would love it.  Why?

“Over the past 20 years, the energy industry has pumped more than $500 million into the coffers of candidates and party committees, $334 million in the past decade, with three-fourths of it going to Republicans” –Texas on the Potamac

Here’s video of the oil flow, from CBS News-

Watch CBS News Videos Online

16-Year-Old Completes Sailboat Trip Around The World

Need something to make you feel good?   Here it is.  Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old from Australia, has completed a trip around the world in a 34 foot sailboat.  She did it alone, making her the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted.

Watson, refused to be discouraged, even after a collision with a coal tanker took out her mast on a 10-day solo trial prior to her round the world voyage.  Metaphorically speaking, she got back up on the horse (or in this case, back up on deck) and headed back out to sea, undaunted by naysayers and critics calling for her to abandon her dream.

Following 210 days at sea, she stepped back on terra firma near the Sydney Opera House on Saturday to the cheers of thousands.   Her next move, she says, will be to get a driver’s license.  Shouldn’t be much of a problem.

She blogged about the voyage as she sailed along in her boat, “Ella’s Pink Lady,” weathering storms, a motor that had to be jury-rigged, extreme cold, seven “knockdowns” (when the mast is nearly parallel to the ocean’s surface) and other ordeals.  She was running out of food when she sailed into Sydney Harbor.  You can read her blog by clicking here.

“People don’t think you’re capable of these things — they don’t realize what young people, what 16-year-olds and girls are capable of.  It’s amazing when you take away those expectations what you can do.” -Jessica Watson

Below, is Jessica’s video diary message as she rounded Cape Horn, on the 13th of January.


Insurance Companies Refuse To Withdraw Support For Iran

California State Insurance Commissioner, Steve Poizner is getting some ink for coming down on big insurance companies that refuse to stop making new investments with companies doing business with Iran, a country identified by the U.S. Government as a sponsor of terrorism.

Marc Lifsher, reports in the Los Angeles Times, that nearly 300 companies are involved, including State Farm, Geico and Prudential.  According to the Times, the insurance companies question Poizner’s authority to impose sanctions.   Poizner, says more than one-thousand companies have indicated they will comply with his request.

True, Poizner is running for Governor.   The upcoming election notwithstanding, it would seem to be just common sense, and a good business practice,  that U.S. companies should refrain from making any new investments with companies that support the fascist military/theocracy of Iran.

Arizona Legislators Need A Reality Check

   To borrow from Joan Rivers, “Can we talk?”  The good folks over in the great state of Arizona are piling on….themselves.  First they pass anti-immigrant legislation, signed by their woman who would be Governor,  Jan Brewer (R), infuriating the Latino community (and others) and essentially turning AZ cops into an anti-immigrant police force.   It’s also prompted bans on doing business with AZ, from a few small burghs like the City of Los Angeles.  But why would Brewer and her fellow rednecks care about a little thing like that?

Now the piling on part.  Their next move was to introduce another bill, this one threatening to pull state funding from schools with ethnic studies classes.  Schools stand to lose funding if they offer classes that “promote resentment of a race or class of people,” or “promote the overthrow of the United States government.”

Governor Brewer, have you lost your mind?

It is not possible to teach history without promoting some resentment.  Do you really think  African-Americans are going to feel all warm and fuzzy after studying the history of slavery in the U.S.?   Or Native-Americans with regard to the “settling” of the west?  Are Armenians supposed to feel okay about the Turks after studying the genocide?  Likewise, the Jewish community and Nazi Germany?   Does teaching about the War of 1812, promote the overthrow of the U.S. Government?   Of  course it does (in the minds of wacko extremists).  Wipe if from the books!  Pretend it never happened!

Just how dumbed down and totally ignorant of history do want the American people to be?  Or maybe that’s your plan?  An ignorant populace is oh so much easier to control.

So let’s do it!   Dumb and dumber we go, with our freedom slipping away as we set aside the First Amendment and ignore history to avoid any “resentment” or free thinking of any kind.  God forbid.   Can’t have any of that.

Ohio State Still Doesn’t Get It

 Alex Kotran - photo: The Lantern  An update on that recent story about Alex Kotran, a photographer for the student newspaper, “The Lantern” at Ohio State and the incident involving demon cows.

A first year student, Kotran was out taking pictures of campus cops and others, trying to round up a couple of cows that escaped from the agriculture department.   One of the cops decided Kotran shouldn’t be there and he ordered him to go away.  First Amendment be damned, I guess.  Maybe he just doesn’t know about it?

Long story short, Kotran, who reportedly never got closer than 50 yards to a cow, refused to stop doing his job.  He moved to a different location but kept shooting pictures.  The cop didn’t like that and slapped on the cuffs, taking him into custody under suspicion of criminal trespass.  This guy was going to charge an Ohio State Student, a photographer for the campus newspaper, with criminal trespass for taking photos of something that was happening on the campus of Ohio State?   What nonsense.

Today, the Lantern reports that the “university does not believe that the situation warrants the filing of criminal charges.” How big of them.  How magnanimous.  However, they still want Kotran to meet with the police for a discussion of how “his actions put him in harms way and caused danger to others.”  Unbelievable.

The University, by its statement, is assigning blame to Kotran, even before the meeting takes place?  These are supposed to be educators?

Rather than supporting the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the right and need of journalists to do what they are supposed to do — getting the story, Ohio State has decided to provide cover for its campus police by forcing Kotran to go in for a wrist slapping.

This sounds like one cop was miffed because a journalist refused to respect his authority.  Never mind that his orders may have been unlawful.

Okay, fine, I wasn’t there, but it sounds like Ohio State needs a reality check.  If campus police believe the First Amendment doesn’t apply to student journalists, then the University should stop hassling this photographer and look into the possibility of problems with police procedure.

As far as putting himself and others in harms way, that’s the same old cop-out the cops use every time they overstep their bounds.  Sounds like that’s exactly what’s happened here.    Either way, OSU should conduct an investigation before issuing a statement assigning blame.

Kotran, by the way, is apparently still under the threat of a review by the University Judiciary Committee.   Apparently, he could still be expelled for photographing runaway cows for the campus newspaper.

These guys at Ohio State really need to get out of their ivory tower more often.   What an embarrassment for the University.


Late Update:  The Lantern reports the police fired eight shots at one of the cows, hitting it four times.   The newspaper reports the shots were not fatal.  The cow, a pregnant “Belted Galloway” worth around $2,800 is apparently doing well.   An initial statement from campus police indicated deadly force was not used.

I’m a country boy from Minnesota.  Lots of cattle there.  Thousands.   This is the first time I’ve heard of anybody feeling a need to open fire on a cow, or a bull, for that matter, except for some out of control hunters who were mixing alcohol with buckshot.

This is looking more and more like the campus police may have overreacted and are now looking for something (or someone) to hide behind.

The Society of Professional Journalists of Central Ohio, has sent a letter of support for Alex Kotran, to the University.

Johnny Gets A Post Office

johnny grant presents star to joe pasternak - photo: alan warren   Congresswoman Diane Watson put it in the form of a bill.   President Obama put his signature to the legislation and now the U.S. Post Office on Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood,  will be named in honor of the late Johnny Grant.

Johnny who?

Apart from a small role, playing a reporter in the movie “White Christmas,” Johnny Grant was a kind of local phenom.

When I arrived in Hollywood in 1982 to go to work for KABC-TV, one of my first assignments was to go out and cover the Hollywood Christmas Parade.  The parade’s staging area was the KTLA-TV lot on Sunset.   We arrived to find this short, stout fellow running all over the place barking orders and organizing everything.  I was told it was Johnny Grant, and that he was a “must interview.”    “Johnny who?” I asked.   “Why do I want to interview him?”

In the years that followed I moved from one tv station to another, eventually ending up at KTLA, where Johnny was a company VP.  It was rumored that his contract with the company gave him the title for life, that it was a gift from his old friend Gene Autry, when Gene sold Golden West Broadcasting.  Rumor was, no matter how many times KTLA was sold, certain of  Gene’s friends kept their jobs, that they were untouchable and stayed with the company no matter what.  I think it was probably true.  And so it was that Mr. Grant stayed on even after “the cowboy” sold the company.  And the Hollywood Christmas Parade was his big annual event.  Did you know the song  “Here Comes Santa Claus” is about the Hollywood Christmas Parade and that it was written by Gene Autry?

There were also the USO tours.  Johnny said he had flown off to do more USO shows than Bob Hope, and I believe he probably had.  He never had a problem recruiting a big military contingent for his Christmas Parade.  I say “his” Christmas Parade, because Johnny appeared to be the moving force behind it.  He had the contacts.  He was able to draw out the stars.  Thanks to Johnny I met Sammy Davis Jr., Roseanne Barr, Gene Autry and so many others.  Johnny knew them all.  When Johnny Grant died, the parade faded away.  Well, in truth, it started fading even before Johnny passed on, as Hollywood fell into decline and the stars were no longer interested in riding in floats on a parade route that might not be all that safe.   Particularly in the 80’s with the rise of cocaine use and gang warfare.

Sparkplug that he was, Johnny fought back, side by side with the Hollywood Chamber.  He fought to restore and maintain the world famous Hollywood sign.  He did the same with the Hollywood Walk of Fame, officiating as more than 500 stars were cemented into the ground (Gene Autry has five stars – the only celebrity to have that many).     At the same time he worked behind the scenes to convince developers to invest in the area, and invest they did.   The Kodak Theater went up along with the Hollywood and Highland Mall.  It turned out Hollywood hadn’t lost its magic after all, as the area came back from the brink.

You have to understand, that when I arrived in Los Angeles, Hollywood was a kind of up-scale slum.   It was still Hollywood, but there were hookers on nearly every corner of the Boulevard.  The corner lot housing the old Director’s Guild building was among their favorite spots.   The place was a combination of hookers, the homeless and bewildered touristas, walking around in bermuda shorts and sandals with cameras around their necks wondering where the stars were and what went wrong.

Hollywood, had been neglected by the City of Los Angeles, that’s what went wrong.  Johnny Grant was a key player, or maybe the key player, in bringing it back.

I recall one day on the lot at KTLA.  “Hey Tyg!” he yelled over at me.  “Tyg” was short for “tiger.”  Johnny called you that, if he liked you.  “Let’s take a walk!”   Mr. Grant was being honored for one reason or another, and I had been tapped to do a story about it.  And so, he decided at that particular moment that he wanted to give me a guided tour of Hollywood.  So off we went, walking and talking.  No camera or anything, just the two of us , with Johnny filling me in on the history of nearly every building, street and structure we passed.  His knowledge of the area was amazing.

Say what you will about Johnny Grant, the man loved Hollywood and it was there that he lived his final days, at the old Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home to the first presentation of the Academy Awards.  The last time I saw Johnny, that’s where he was.  Having lunch in the dining room at the Hollywood Roosevelt.   “Hey Tyg, how’r ya doin!”  “Just great General,” I replied.  In addition to all else, Johnny was a Brigadier General.   A byproduct of all those USO tours.

Johnny Grant, was Hollywood.  Hollywood, still is Johnny Grant.   Naming a building in his honor was the right thing to do.

Betty White Is Great – SNL Still Lame

 Betty White

     photo: alan light

Betty White is energetic, enthusiastic, impish and charming.  Gotta love her.   No substitute for professionalism born of experience, intelligence and talent.    She’s a pro.  End of story.

And so I looked forward to her appearance on what was billed as a “Mother’s Day Special” on Saturday Night Live.

This wasn’t a show I could watch with my mother.   Didn’t think it would be.  This was Saturday Night Live, after all.    Except for the occasional political skit, it’s a show that’s become increasingly crude and less sophisticated with age.  But this time they had Betty White and I was hoping for something more.

It didn’t happen.  It was just one more SNL, filled with humor straight out of the boy’s room at your local middle school.   Oh sure, the talent is there, but the smart writing and physical comedy that made Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Gilda Radner legendary, is overshadowed by the sensationalism of the writers trying to be as dumbed down and vulgar as possible.    Beyond that, this Mother’s Day Special” at times, appeared to be flirting with the denigration of women.

The new comedy credo appears to be: “No vulgarity, no humor.”  Or maybe it’s just so much easier to go for the kind of cheap laughs demanded by a teenage demographic?  Also of note, were the commercials for the movie “MacGruber,” disguised to look like regular segments of the show.    Flat out boring.

Perhaps my expectation of resurrecting standards that once demanded wit, sophistication and professionalism is simply unrealistic?

The vulgarity of SNL’s “Special” notwithstanding, a very happy Mother’s Day to one and all.   And to all you moms, considering the garbage the entertainment industry is feeding your children’s young minds, be afraid.  Be very afraid.

This stuff isn’t funny.  It’s just vulgar.

I still love Betty White.  SNL, as currently constituted, is beneath her.

The emperor has no clothes, other than the coattails of seasons gone by.

Oil Spill Spreads, Sweden Offers To Help

 photo: u.s. coast guard  From the morning papers:  The big inverted funnel didn’t work.  Ice crystals plugged it up.  Now it’s sitting there on the bottom while BP considers its next move.  The oil company says the idea isn’t a failure.  Even though it didn’t work.

“I wouldn’t say it’s failed yet…what I would say is what we attempted to do … didn’t work.”-Doug Suttles, BP

The other day I was talking to a friend from Finland.  I asked if he felt the Scandinavian countries would be handling the oil spill differently.  He said the Scandinavians have equipment on standby,  just waiting to deal with a problem like the spill in the Gulf.    I thought that perhaps he was being overly enthusiastic about his homeland, possibly underestimating our ability to respond to an oil spill.

Apparently, he was spot on.

This morning I read in the NY Times, that the European Union, the United Nations and 14 individual countries, like Sweden, are offering to help the big bad U.S. clean up the mess in the Gulf of Mexico.  Little Sweden, the land of my ancestors,  is offering to send three ships with the ability to skim 50 tons of oil per hour from the water’s surface with a  capacity of 1000 tons.   It could take several weeks for the ships to get here.  Swedish officials say the offer has been made and they’re just waiting for a request from Washington.

If Sweden can afford to have ships like this on standby,  why can’t we?  Why haven’t the oil companies, with their monster profits, been ordered to keep a fleet of such ships on standby in the Gulf?

Oops, sorry.  There I go again.  Letting reality slip away.  The reality of course,  is that the Minerals Management Service (MMS) didn’t require a $500,000 backup blowout valve or proper safety reports to be filed by BP.   That being the case, why in the world would this oil company cozy government agency ever dream of demanding a fleet of ships?  It would, after all, be such a terrible imposition on the oil companies.   

“The rules on what plans must be filed by exploration companies before drilling a well were relaxed in early 2008 by the Bush administration. Thereafter there was reportedly some confusion over whether the BP well qualified to be exempted, but that appears to be precisely what happened.

If so, lawmakers in Washington are likely to target the Interior Department for falling down on its responsibilities and becoming too cozy with the oil giants. “I’m of the opinion that boosterism breeds complacency and complacency breeds disaster,” said Congressman Edward Markey. “That, in my opinion, is what happened.”‘ -The Independent

 A report in the Washington Post in April of 2009, pointed to the  MMS giving BP a “categorical exclusion” from filing reports on what exactly it would do in the event of a blowout at the Deepwater Horizon.   According to the Post, the MMS, in its infinite wisdom,  concluded any blowout that might occur wouldn’t be bad enough to threaten coastal ecosystems.  So why worry?

There’s also all that wonderful money the oil and gas industry spreads around Washington.  By one account they dumped $169 million on the Dist.  last year.

The finger pointing on why the federal government has fallen behind on regulating the industry and foreseeing the possibility of a need to have a more effective response is just getting started.   First they’ll clean up the mess.  Then they’ll accuse one another of being short-sighted, cheap, and once again, putting profits way out in front of the environment.

But you should be getting used to this by now.  It’s the same thing our federal lawmakers have done with healthcare, putting profits ahead of lives.  It’s called “getting screwed.”  You’ve heard of that?

The maps they’re putting up this morning show the slick spreading out over an area of about 150 miles.  However, blobs of oil are reportedly washing up on the white sand beaches of Alabama.

Somebody better get the Swedish ambassador on the phone.

As Oil Spreads In The Gulf, Shell Prepares To Drill In The Arctic

Shell Oil is gearing up to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer and has asked a Federal Appeals Court to expedite a ruling on a challenge by environmentalists worried about the oil spill in the Gulf.   A lawyer for the oil company says Shell has spent at least $3.5 billion in preparation for drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

“But a coalition of environmentalists and Native Alaska groups who are challenging the drilling plans told the court the federal Minerals Management Service failed to consider the potential threat to wildlife and the risk for disaster before it approved the Shell project.

Christopher Winter, an attorney for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, said the Interior Department agency “simply ignored key aspects” about the possible effects of drilling operations on bowhead whales, including interruption of feeding patterns.”-AP

Anthem Blue Cross Withdraws Rate Hike


“Anthem Blue Cross Folds on Rate Hike – With the
attempted terrorist car bombing in NY’s Time Square, the
disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the brouhaha
over Arizona’s new immigration law, (comes) news that
Calif.’s biggest individual health care provider, Anthem
Blue Cross, folded under tremendous pressure and withdrew
its proposed 39% premium hike. It was big news
the day of the announcement, but has faded quickly from
the front page. Well Point, ABC’s parent company,
earned $877 million dollars in 1st Qt. of 2010. To say the
Well Point was acting like a greedy pig gives a bad name
to that very intelligent animal. AG candidate Rocky
Delgadillo was one of the few Demo AG candidates to
repeatedly bash ABC. Delgadillo said the ABC incident
makes it clear that passing rate regulation legislation in
Sacto is a must and so is U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s
legislation to authorize a review of all rate hikes to assure
they are reasonable and based on accurate data.”…”

Judge Orders Documentarian To Turn Over Film Footage To Oil Company

   A U.S. District Court Judge in Manhattan, has ordered documentarian Joe Berlinger, to turn over more than 600 hours of film shot during the production of his documentary “Crude” to the Chevron Oil Company.   The film deals with a lawsuit against Texaco (now owned by Chevron),  and tells the story of Ecuadorians who claim their water was polluted by an oil field.

The NY Times quotes filmmaker Michael Moore as saying the decision by Judge Lewis Kaplan should be overturned.  If not, he says, it could have a chilling effect on those who make documentary films, with the filmmakers now having to worry about getting rid of all their out takes.   Beyond that-

“I’ve never had to deal with any corporation suing me to find out how I gather this information,” he said. “Obviously the ramifications of this go far beyond documentary films, if corporations are allowed to pry into a reporter’s notebook or into a television station’s newsroom.”-Michael Moore

Gotta agree with Moore.  If Chevron and their lawyers want the finished film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, fine.  Buy a copy and show it to the jury.    Better yet, buy a dozen DVD’s  and give one to each juror as a keepsake.  Chevron can afford it.

Apart from that, as with any news outlet, this documentary filmmaker’s work product (beyond what’s been released to the public) is covered by the First Amendment and should be off limits to the lawyers.

Why?  It’s very simple.  I feel silly even mentioning it here but there always seems to be somebody that still just doesn’t get it.  Like this judge.

Your Honor, doumentarians,  like news reporters, must be able to guarantee confidentiality.   There may be out takes that would compromise the filmmakers commitment to hold some aspects of his work in confidence.   Betrayal of that confidentiality will mean sources will stop providing information to anybody seeking the truth.

Sir, the Amendment goes to “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”   It’s fairly certain, documentary filmmakers will feel abridged by the weight of legal restriction if  they can’t move forward without the fear that their entire work product could one day be subjected to a subpoena.

Freedom of the press hangs in a delicate balance.  If we don’t consistently fight for it we could lose it.  Not much at stake.  Just our way of life.

The Best They Can Do?

   So they are about to lower a big metal and concrete box down onto the damaged wellhead that continues spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico.  2010, and this is the best technology available.

We’ve been to the moon.  Surgeons can re-attach severed limbs.   The world has gone wireless.  Even the third world.  But when it comes to the oil industry, lowering a 100-ton  metal and concrete box down onto the ocean’s floor is the best they can do?

Well, not really.  They could have installed a remote control blowout preventer but decided not to, apparently because its “efficacy” has not been proven.  There is also the fact that it would have added $500,000 to the cost of building the well.  Not all that much when looking at the big picture, really.   The WSJ reports it would cost around $560 million to replace the Deep Sea Horizon.  On top of that, the oil company claims to be spending around $6 million a day fighting the spill.

CBS reports BP’s market value has dropped by about $40 billion.

And now comes word from the AP, that BP didn’t have to file a plan with regard to how it would handle a blowout on the deepwater rig.  Apparently, the feds changed the rules two years ago, exempting certain projects in the central gulf region from doing so.  Fascinating.


Over at Treasury, our current emissary from Wall Street, Tim Geithner, is warning against placing too many restrictions on the banking industry.

“The lesson of this crisis … is that we cannot make the economy safe by taking functions central to the business of banking, functions necessary to help raise capital for business and help businesses hedge risk, and move them outside banks, and outside the reach of strong regulation.”-Timothy Geithner

Can you figure out what he’s talking about?  Isn’t there a contradiction in there somewhere?  Golly, gee.

Let’s see. Wall Street, made what they were doing so confusing with high finance double-speak and new terminology most of us had never heard, that it was next to impossible to follow the scams as they led the nation into an economic disaster.  And now our Treasury Secretary is using the same kind of palaver to help them avoid regulation.

Or maybe we the people are just too stupid to be expected to follow the high and mighty ramblings of the captains and the kings.  That’s how it goes in a plutocracy.   Bill Moyers is right.  You can have a plutocracy or a democracy.  You can’t have both.


It’s being reported this morning that ABC is expanding the conclusion of “Lost” on May 23rd. by 30 minutes.  It will run from 9-11:30 PM Eastern.   Oh joy, oh rapture.

Truth is, I no longer care.  Not gonna watch.   With the absence of anything resembling a plot and the show degenerating into a bad joke, they lost me weeks ago.

Of course I could always change my mind and watch anyway.  The possibility that they might be able to pull all the nonsense together into something understandable is difficult to resist.  Then again, if they don’t, if it turns out to be another insane, nonsensical sucker punch, leaving the viewer without closure — well, that’ll be just one more bad joke, won’t it?

Nope.  Not gonna take the chance.  Dude!  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big Hugo fan, but I’ve sailed into those uncharted waters too many times only to have my hopes dashed on the rocks.

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”-A. Einstein

I’ll wait and read about it later.

Have a great day.

Student Journalist Detained As Cows Run Wild At Ohio State

 Alex Kotran

photo: “The Lantern”

So a couple of cows get loose from the ag department at Ohio State.  A photographer for the campus newspaper “The Lantern,”  Alex Kotran, hears the commotion, grabs his camera and runs out the door.  He arrives at “the scene” to find campus police and others trying to contain the bovine breakout on an athletic field.  Kotran, does his job.  He starts shooting pictures.

A representative for the school of agriculture tells him he can’t be there.  She tells him to go away.  He identifies himself as a photog for the campus paper, says he is on public property and that he has every right to be standing there taking pictures.  The ag department lady calls a cop.  The cop orders him to leave.  So he does.  He moves to the other side of the field and shoots pictures through a fence.  He is again approached, by “educators” and police.  He is again told he can’t be there taking photos of the “roundup.”  He again says he is on public property, shooting pictures for the campus paper, and that he has every right to be there.

Long story short, the student journalist is eventually handcuffed and detained by campus police officer William Linton, who files a charge of criminal trespass.

So a student at Ohio State, a journalist for the campus newspaper none the less,  has been charged with criminal trespass for being on the grounds of The Ohio State University.

According to a piece in The Lantern, the roundup lasted for about two hours.  Through it all, a veterinary student was flipped up in the air and an officer received minor injuries after a cow charged his car.  Kotran though,  apparently never got closer than 50 yards as the cow he was photographing was eventually tranquilized.

Deputy Chief Richard Morman says police were considering the use of deadly force.  Against the cow, not Kotran.

University officials say neither they, nor the campus newspaper, can provide legal support for Kotran, who is now looking to hire a criminal defense attorney.   It’s a conflict of interest, they say.   However, it appears they will continue providing support for the campus police.

“I find it odd that the university has the resources to pursue prosecution of a student who hasn’t done anything wrong, but it doesn’t have the resources to help defend a student who hasn’t done anything wrong.”-Tom O’Hara, Lantern Adviser, OSU

Here in California, officers from the Dept. of Fish and Game have just rescued a 200 pound bear from a tree, and they did it without handcuffing or detaining a single journalist.

Nice to know Ohio State supports a free and unhindered press.