Friday, July 23, 2010

Worker Testifies BP Rig had Alarms Turned Off on a Regular Basis

As the government is investigating just what went wrong on the BP/Transocean Deep Water Horizon rig, the list of problems looks pretty long and moreover, pretty damming for BP.

In an article on the New York Times Mike Williams, chief electronics technician aboard the Transocean rig, testified that emergency alarms and procedures were routinely disabled or just set to bypass mode. The safety alarm system was set to "inhibited" to avoid its noisy siren going off and waking the crew in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately when the rig caught fire, that siren did not alert anyone and 11 men died.

On Friday, Mr. Williams added several new details about the equipment on the vessel, testifying that another Transocean official turned a critical system for removing dangerous gas from the drilling shack to “bypass mode.” When he questioned that decision, Mr. Williams said, he was reprimanded.

“No, the damn thing’s been in bypass for five years,” he recalled being told by Mark Hay, the subsea supervisor. “Why’d you even mess with it?”

He recalled that Mr. Hay added: “The entire fleet runs them in ‘bypass.’ ”
Problems existed from the beginning of drilling the well, Mr. Williams said. For months, the computer system had been locking up, producing what the crew deemed the “blue screen of death.”

“It would just turn blue,” he said. “You’d have no data coming through.”
Replacement hardware had been ordered but not yet installed by the time of the disaster, he said.
The rest of the article details even more infractions and for me it was sickening.  The whole thing smacks of corporate expediency and just plain cutting corners at the expense of safety and the environment.  In case you are wondering, that adds up to just plain GREED.  Make money as fast and as long as you can and if there are accidents, well that will not show up in this quarter's report.

The result of these investigations is still in play, but from what I have read, BP, Transocean and the rest have no business operating in US waters.  Furthermore, the callous disregard for safety shown by BP and Transocean must be rectified.  I sincerely believe that the only just way to deal with these criminals is to seize their assets and either sell them off for damages or operate them safely to pay for the lives and livelihoods they have destroyed.  Just fining them a few billion is not enough.  They need to be put out of business.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

US House Votes To Ban "Crush" Vids

And to think some people call me twisted?  In a million years I would never consider watching or worse yet making videos of animals being deliberately crushed to death.  It gives me shivers just to say it, but apparently it's all the rage on the sick side of viral videos.

In an effort to stop the despicable practice the US House has passed a bill to prohibit the making or distribution of such videos.  The new bill specifically exempts videos showing hunting, trapping, fishing, or any typical veterinary practices.

And please, do not send me any links to these disgusting videos!  Seriously.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Republicans Declare War On Unemployed

In a continuing effort to block just about any legislation at all, the Senate Republicans are trying to block the unemployment extension by tactical means.  They are filing a batch of motions design to delay it as long a possible.  Apparently they feel they can make some kind of political gains by starving Americans who are unemployed. 

The GOP lives in a fantasy land where people do not seek jobs because they are rolling in government money.  If you have ever collected unemployment it is hardly a windfall, and without it many people are falling below subsistence level.  Though the GOP feels there are plenty of jobs out there, apparently they have never had to actually search for a job.

Write your GOP Senator and tell him or her to stop diddling and get this relief bill passed now!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pete Sessions Asks What Would You Cut From the Budget? Start WIth His Salary!

I once wrote a letter to Pete Sessions, my Congressperson, or at least the Representative from my part of Texas and BINGO I am on his mailing list! That is a mixed blessing. First it lets me know what the GOP propaganda line is on whatever is going on in Washington, and second, it occasionally gives me a chance to screw up their "push polls" and other disinformation initiatives.

In my last update, Representative Sessions wanted me to join other "loyal supporters" and tell the GOP what we thought could be cut from the budget. As a start they suggested a half dozen red herrings and then made the mistake of asking me what I thought could be cut. Well let me tell you what I told Pete.

For starters how about trimming tax subsidies we give the oil companies. In a study by the Center for American Progress it is stated that "the total government savings from eliminating these subsidies is projected to be $45 billion over 10 years." That's not chump change and a good start.

Next I suggested that the C-17 Cargo plane the military uses was another example. The military already says it needs 180 of these heavy lifting cargo planes for efficient operation. So what does the Congress do? It authorizes 223 of them, 43 more that the military even wants. In 2009 Congress continued to fund the production of C-17s with a $2.5 billion appropriation, despite the strong objection by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the President.

The military in general is a problem. The Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion. That represents more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. In fact the US spends 55% of the global military budget, more than any other country. How about a little trimming the fat there?

Another spot where a little fat could be snipped? Tobacco Subsidies in the United States totaled $944 million from 1995-2009. How about making that $0? Spend enough to transition farmers to less deadly crops and stop subsidizing the deaths of millions of Americans.

Shall I continue?

Now do I think Sessions will read or much less care about my suggestions? Aw hell no. Pete is in business for Pete. He and his cronies will manipulate public opinion and federal dollars to benefit their pals, that is a given especially with the GOP. But at least it made me feel better.

Oh and the best cut we could make wold be to snip his salary. If we did, he might resign and go into the "private sector". After all the Private Sector does everything better, right Pete?