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Jul. 4 2010 — 9:13 am | 397 views | 2 recommendations | 9 comments

Independence Day in the year of the corporate citizen

Fireworks and the Lincoln Memorial during the ...

Image via Wikipedia

The U.S. Supreme Court has been busy in its laboratory in 2010, creating a new class of citizen with dynamic new powers. At first, it seemed that citizen might be the corporation, but recently we’ve learned more about what the court has in mind.

When the justices struck down the ban on corporate funding for political campaigns in January– ruling that corporations enjoy the First Amendment right to free speech–dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens suggested we might as well give corporations the vote: continue »



Jul. 3 2010 — 9:15 am | 1,183 views | 1 recommendations | 8 comments

How a YouTube video stopped BP from torching turtles

Photo by John L. Wathen, bpoilslick.blogspot.com

Appended with correction below.

When BP conducts a controlled burn in the Gulf of Mexico, two shrimp boats drag a boom across the water’s surface, collecting floating oil until it’s thick enough to set afire. The boom also captures everything else on the surface, including oiled sea turtles, and until yesterday, BP was blithely setting them afire as well.

Jupiter, Fla. resident Catherine Craig blew the whistle on this practice on June 13, not by going to The New York Times or The Washington Post, but by going to YouTube, where she opened a new account and posted an impromtu interview with Mike Ellis, a Venice, La., fishing captain hired by BP to collect sea turtles trapped in the slick.

Ellis describes turtles being caught in the loops of boom dragged by the shrimp boats. He saved some of those trapped turtles until BP ordered him to stop: continue »



Jun. 27 2010 — 5:52 pm | 269 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

Unpublished G-20 Report: Fossil fuel subsidies cost the world $557 billion

Old Gas Pump

G-20 tries to hurry fossil fuels to antique status. Image via Wikipedia

World governments undermine themselves and their nations’ infrastructure and cost the global economy half a trillion dollars each year by subsizing the oil and coal industries, according to a scathing report–still unpublished–that ministers from the G-20 nations received in Toronto this weekend.

The White House released a brief but colorful summary of the report this afternoon: continue »



Jun. 17 2010 — 10:58 am | 606 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Texas Congressman Joe Barton apologizes to BP for ’shakedown’

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 26:  Rep. Joe Barton (R...

Texas Rep. Joe Barton has received $1.5 million from oil companies. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Updated with Barton’s retraction of apology to BP and a new apology.

Updated with statement from White House calling Barton’s comments “shameful.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward at this morning’s hearing of the House subcommittee investigating BP’s oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barton focused on a $20 billion claims fund BP had agreed to set aside to cover the costs of commerical and environmental damages from the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

“I apologize,” Barton said to Hayward as members offered opening comments. “I do not want to live in a country where anytime a citizen or a corporation who does something legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize.” continue »



Jun. 15 2010 — 8:18 am | 1,841 views | 1 recommendations | 4 comments

Why is Cuba so quiet about BP oil spill?

Beach in Varadero, Cuba.

Varadero Beach on Cuba's north coast. Image via Wikipedia

NOAA’s projected trajectory for the BP Oil Spill shows the first tongue of oil poking south on Wednesday, aiming toward Cuba, the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Loop Current.

If the plume continues in that direction, oil that has been roiling in Gulf Waters could reach the Gulf Stream and begin to streak toward the North Atlantic, fouling beaches in Cuba and the Bahamas before fanning out in the open ocean.

There has been little official comment out of Cuba about the spill. Cuban officials have said they are monitoring the situation and have pledged cooperation with the United States. The United States has been even more taciturn about the threat to Cuba. continue »



Jun. 13 2010 — 9:30 am | 3,348 views | 1 recommendations | 23 comments

Retail sales are down because Americans are crazy

NORTH MIAMI - MARCH 13:  Michael Kaire (2nd L)...

A full shopping cart is a sign of mental health. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Faced with seemingly contradictory financial data–retail sales dropped in May but consumer confidence rose–the stock market plunged and then soared Friday, ending slightly higher on light trading.

This erratic behavior tested the financial press, which tasks itself with finding psychological explanations for financial data. Here is Yian Q. Mui, for example, writing in yesterday’s Washington Post:

The constant barrage of complicated and often contradictory data on the state of the economy has left American consumers dazed and confused and reluctant to spend.” continue »



Jun. 11 2010 — 10:18 am | 183 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Coast Guard requires BP to double collection at oil spill site

Aerial view of the Discoverer Enterprise deepw...

Image by AFP via @daylife

The U.S. Coast Guard is requiring BP to develop a plan to collect 40,000 to 50,000 barrels of oil per day at the site of the Deepwater Horizon well site, Admiral Thad Allen told reporters moments ago.

Two facilities currently at the surface, the Discoverer Enterprise drilling ship (pictured) and the Q4000 floating platform, can handle 28,000 barrels per day, Allen said, a number that has begun to look inadequate in the face of increasing estimates of the amount of oil that has been spilling from the severed pipe on the sea floor. continue »



Jun. 10 2010 — 5:10 pm | 383 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Murkowski vote reveals dirty Democrats

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 12:  U.S. Sen. Lisa Murko...

Senator Lisa Murkowski R-Alaska. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

UPDATED with tally of Gulf Coast senators.

If you want to know why the United States has failed to act on climate change–a political failure that could precipiate a larger political failure for the world–here’s one answer: Evan Bayh of Indiana, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

continue »



Jun. 9 2010 — 7:41 am | 188 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

Coast Guard says BP has not been paying oil spill claims

WASHINGTON - JUNE 07:  U.S. Coast Guard Admira...

Admiral Thad Allen. Image by Getty Images North America via @daylife

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen released a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward this morning demanding BP release detailed information on claims people have submitted for damages and lost income because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. continue »



Jun. 8 2010 — 2:19 pm | 194 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Sen. Lugar’s climate plan: more oil drilling and ‘amnesty’ for coal plants

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind, admires a car. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez via Daylife)

It comes in pretty green wrapping. Sen. Richard Lugar’s “Practical Energy and Climate Plan” calls for increased energy efficiency in buildings and industry, increased vehicle efficiency, more choices in automotive fuels and more diverse domestic energy sources, all in the name of reduced dependence on foreign oil. The wrapper is pretty enough to sway The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein: continue »


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    About Me

    Environmental reporting recruited me 25 years ago—on my first day as a reporter for my college newspaper, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in the regular city trash. Since then I've written hard news for dailies, including the Arizona Republic, and slanty news for alternative weeklies, including Newcity. I've written a column for New Times, stories on the Web for Forecast Earth, essays for PEN International and other magazines. I lived in an idyllic California village nestled among volcanoes and vineyards until my batteries were full of sunshine, and then I returned to my origins on the South Side of Chicago, where hope persists with no illusions about the struggle ahead. I cross the asphalt jungle by bicycle and el, mostly to get to the University of Chicago, where I teach journalism. But what matters more than any of this is a lifelong love for the natural world. We are all born with it, I believe, but some turn away.

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