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Archive for July 11th, 2010

Remember,

close your eyes and you can see.

Brother O’s Bread and Circuses administration’s plan to contain the leak could suck up as much as 90 percent of the gushing oil by the end of June.

Remember,

life is never as it seems;

dream…

During an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I think the containment strategy that the Coast Guard and the federal government pushed BP to accelerate will capture most of the oil that is leaking from the Gulf right now.”

Long ago,

far away,

life was clear;

close your eyes

I.M. Kane


 

White House says it could contain 90 percent of spilling oil

By Michael O’Brien

The Obama administration’s plan to contain oil leaking from a deepwater pipeline could be sucking up as much as 90 percent of the spewing oil by the end of June.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the strategy BP is pursuing — at the behest of the federal government — will have a high efficiency rate in containing the oil spill by the time the end of this month rolls around.

“I think the containment strategy that the Coast Guard and the federal government pushed BP to accelerate will capture most of the oil that is leaking from the Gulf right now,” Gibbs said during an appearance on “Good Morning America” on ABC this morning.

Gibbs said he “absolutely” agreed with reported assessments that the strategy could mean an effective containment rate of 90 percent of the leaking oil.

The ongoing strategy has involved sending a series of ships to the area surrounding the leaking oil pipeline, onto which a cap to help manage the flow of oil had been fitted in recent weeks. These containment ships are able to siphon leaking oil up to the surface and onboard their vessels, instead of allowing the oil to flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gibbs confirmed that these ships could be capturing as many as 50,000 barrels a day that would otherwise be spilling into the Gulf, leading to optimism over the efficiency rate.

Still, officials have long maintained that a permanent solution won’t be available until BP finishes drilling two relief wells nearby to relieve the pressure on the well from which oil is currently leaking. Those relief wells are expected to be completed sometime in August.

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If I Were President

by Nancy Matthis at American Daughter

Our writers here at American Daughter have been critical of Obama’s response to the oil disaster. Reader MaryAnne reasonably asks:

Could you please detail exactly what you think Obama should personally do about BP’s complete disregard for the safety of its workers and the destruction of Gulf Coast beaches? I have gone to the trouble of reading some of your past posts and have yet to see you offer one workable solution to any of the problems you address.

I haven’t done this until now, because it doesn’t make any difference what I would have done. The mission of our news magazine is to inform our readers of the capabilities and shortcomings of public figures, so they can make informed decisions about their political activism, financial support, and voting. But such a discussion may offer a useful baseline for comparison, and it certainly is something that I have given a lot of thought. Here’s what I would do if I were president:

  1. If I were president, I would immediately assume personal executive responsibility for the response to one of the greatest environmental disasters to face our planet, that happened under United States jurisdiction. I would NEVER abdicate that authority to any profit-motivated corporation. I would use every legal means to force that corporation to finance the clean-up, but I would manage the clean-up myself, by delegating tasks to my government officials.
     
  2. The assessment of “guilt, fault, and blame” is only useful if it prevents future mistakes based on “lessons learned.” And technological mistakes usually result from policy driven by wishful thinking rather than scientific data. In this respect, the Deepwater Horizon disaster is almost an exact reprise of the Challenger disaster, in which decision makers ignored the warnings of scientific personnel about the O-ring’s potential failure at freezing temperatures.

    If I were president, I would immediately make it perfectly clear and well understood by the public that the deepwater drilling was promoted during the Clinton administration (the Outer Continental Shelf Deepwater Royalty Relief Act of 1995) without due consideration of disaster contingencies. Our government gave British Petroleum a “categorical exclusion” for the well during the Obama administration. I would do this, not to indulge in partisan finger-pointing at Democrats, but to prevent the root administrative causes and lax safety standards of our own government agencies from being obscured by Democrat partisans throwing up smoke-screens about Dick Cheney’s relationships with the oil industry.
     

  3. Within hours of the first phone call notifying the White House of the rig explosion, I would have assembled a crisis team, booked a hotel on the Gulf Coast, and taken the whole team there on location to assume personal positive control of the situation. Within the first twenty-four hours I would have convened an emergency meeting with the governors of the Gulf States. For the entire duration of the crisis, I would not have played one hour of golf, nor done anything else but be the country’s executive.

    To be president of the United States is an honor, and it is an executive position, a management position, and a good executive “rests in action.” A qualified executive does not need the personal recreation of sports or parties to “recharge his batteries.” He draws his strength and energy from his passion for the job, from the personal satisfaction of giving his hands and heart to the cause and knowing he has done his best.
     

  4. Upon first being notified of the rig explosion, I would have placed an emergency call to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I would have decreed, under the executive powers, that she bypass the normal protocols for data calculation and delivery, assemble her best scientists immediately (waking them up if necessary) and get back to me within eighteen hours with her best estimate of the latitude/longitude coordinates of the point above the blown hole where the center of the oil “volcano” was most likely to first breach the ocean surface.

    I would have asked the Gulf State governors to mobilize their National Guards to protect the beaches and wetlands, and asked Congress for emergency funding for same. I would have tasked the Secretary of the Navy to identify some Naval assets in the Gulf for assisting oil containment operations. I would have instructed the Coast Guard to immediately mobilize a fleet of boats on standby, awaiting the NOAA calculations. As soon as the NOAA coordinates were received, I would have had the Coast Guard deploy five widely spaced concentric rings of oil booms around the NOAA-calculated surface point. The containment booms would have been in place within two days, tops. (Those measures would impede, but not prevent, the spread of oil. They would buy time for dredging and bioremediation.)
     

  5. I would have ordered dredging to begin immediately to create sand reefs connecting the barrier islands offshore from sensitive wetlands and marshes, to protect the pelican rookeries and sea turtle hatching grounds from contamination. As executive, I would have taken the responsibility for my decision and not hidden behind the requirement for an Environmental Protection Agency impact study that could take months or years.
     
  6. Under the authority of the Executive Powers, I would have forbidden British Petroleum or any other agency from using the toxic chemical dispersant Corexit 9500. I would have personally taken the responsibility for ordering the bioremediation of oil-eating microbes, stored in large enough quantities in Texas warehouses.
     
  7. With respect to the potential for environmentally friendly solutions, I would have immediately tasked Cornell University’s Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering to recommend plant-based bioremediation. I would have used discretionary grant money for a crash program aimed at the specifics of the Gulf situation.

    I would also have used discretionary grant money to task Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences to do a systems analysis of the oil spill response, and to quantify risk factors associated with various strategies — chemical dispersant, burn-off, booms, reefs, skimmers, bioremediation via plants or microbes. (I have no doubt that the combination of chemical dispersant and burn-off currently being implemented is the worst possible choice with respect to long-term environmental considerations. It has short-term cosmetic appeal, in that it masks the full dimensions of the disaster, but we will pay a long term price worse than that for DDT.)
     

  8. Under the authority of the Executive Powers, I would have suspended the Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and accepted help from the foreign governments that offered it on DAY ONE — Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

    The fact that Obama deferred his leadership role to British Petroleum is most egregious here:

    Four weeks after the nation’s worst environmental disaster, the Obama administration saw no need to accept offers of state-of-the-art skimmers, miles of boom or technical assistance from nations around the globe with experience fighting oil spills.

    “We’ll let BP decide on what expertise they do need,” State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters on May 19….

  9. Under the authority of the Executive Powers, I would have relaxed the oil-to-water ratios required for returning processed ocean water to the Gulf, thereby permitting the immediate deployment of the South Korean-built, Taiwanese-owned, Liberian-flagged ship “A Whale” for oil-skimming in the Gulf. The Obama administration allowed it to languish tied up to the docks in Norfolk, Virginia for weeks.
     
  10. If I were president, I would never have limited access to the oil spill damage by the press or by photographers, except to the extent required for their safety. I would have valued our mutual stewardship of our natural resources above any concerns for my political reputation. I do not believe that the American public is a mindless herd of sheep whose perceptions need to be manipulated. I do believe that they are a resourceful and creative force that should be kept FULLY INFORMED and engaged in the solution to this truly earth-changing disaster.
     
  11. If I were president, I would never have used phrases like “boot on the neck” or “kick ass.” The empty rhetoric and political grandstanding characteristic of this administration does nothing to solve the problem, and it does nothing to reassure the public that a responsible leader with a thoughtfully reasoned plan is in charge. It is the language of a guttersnipe, not a statesman.
     
  12. As for the other part of MaryAnne’s question, what “Obama should personally do about BP’s complete disregard for the safety of its workers,” the remedy, if any, is the province of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. The president can make clear to Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, and to David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, his deep personal concern about this matter, and ask them for a study and special report with recommendations. But that is “locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.” It would, however, have serious value with respect to the remaining nearly 4,000 active oil and gas platforms in the Gulf.

And that’s just the first couple of days….

References:

American DaughterThe Executive Orders

LENTAHow to remove oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico? (translated from the Russian)

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Preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Department of Labor find that, in 2009, states made more than $7.1 billion in overpayments in unemployment insurance, up from $4.2 billion the year before. The total amount of unemployment benefits paid in 2009 was $76.8 billion, compared to $41.6 billion in 2008.

In New Jersey, fraud alone stripped $25 million from the state unemployment insurance fund in 2009.

Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Jane Oates testified … that the top cause for overpayments was people returning to work and continuing to claim benefits.

Employment benefits experts note that such overpayments aren’t always the result of deception; sometimes it’s a matter of confusion. Technically, workers are no longer eligible for benefits on the first day they start at a new full-time job, but many believe they should continue to claim benefits until they actually receive their first paycheck.—Alice Gomstyn


 

Labor Dept. Estimates $7.1 Billion in Overpayments to Unemployed Overpayment Figure Increases From $4.2 Billion the Previous Year

By Alice Gomstyn

While many Americans are feeling the pain of expired unemployment benefits, some have gotten a good chunk more than they were legally eligible for.

Preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Department of Labor find that, in 2009, states made more than $7.1 billion in overpayments in unemployment insurance, up from $4.2 billion the year before. The total amount of unemployment benefits paid in 2009 was $76.8 billion, compared to $41.6 billion in 2008.

Fraud accounted for $1.55 billion in estimated overpayments last year, while errors by state agencies were blamed for $2.27 billion, according to the Labor Department. The department’s final report will be released next month.

Some of the overpayments likely can be traced back to the overwhelming workloads facing state employment agencies during the recession, said George Wentworth, a policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project.

“You’ve got a system that’s been under siege like the unemployment insurance system has been for the last two years,” Wentworth said. “You’ve got a lot of new staff coming into the system, there’s been a lot of federal extensions [to unemployment insurance benefits] that have had to be programmed in and so on. There’s just been a lot of change that states have had to handle. … I just think the volume and the new staff have made the systems more susceptible to error.”

The newly-unemployed, meanwhile, have found themselves frustrated when trying to reach out to state officials for help in properly filling out their claims.

“In 2009, it was a fairly regularly event to see different states’ call centers basically reaching maximum capacity where people would not be able to get through for hours or days at a time,” Wentworth said.

The Unemployment Claims ‘Tsunami’

Heidi Myhre, of Hudson County, N.J., questions whether she could have avoided an overpayment dispute with the state if she had gotten help filling out her unemployment claim early on. When filing for unemployment insurance in 2007, she called the state several times for guidance, she said, and got nowhere.

Among Myhre’s questions: Where on her claim form she should disclose that she receives more than $100 a week in dividends from a family-owned elder care business?

Myhre ultimately decided not to list the payment as earnings because, at the time, she wasn’t working for the business. She would go on to receive six months’ worth of benefits totaling just under $14,000.

Earlier this year, the state demanded that Myhre to return all the money and also pay a $3,500 fine for fraud after state officials determined that the payments from her family business should have, in fact, been considered earnings. With the help of a lawyer, Myhre successfully appealed the state’s decision and reduced what she owed to $6,300.

She remains bitter about the experience.

“It was the most poorly managed debacle I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” she said.

Myhre’s lawyer, Jef Henninger, said that in the last six months, he’s seen a big uptick in calls from people who have made mistakes on their unemployment claims and now face payback demands from the state. Henninger expects the situation to grow worse before it gets better.

“With so many more people applying for unemployment, statistics tell you you’re going to get more incidents like this,” he said.

New Jersey labor officials said they could not comment on specific overpayment cases, but Labor Department Assistant Commissioner Ron Marino conceded that the recession did put a significant strain on his department. He had to pull employees from their regular roles — including work preventing overpayments — to handle new claims, he said.

“Our whole impetus for last couple of years has been ‘Pay benefits. Pay benefits. Pay benefits,’ because of the 90-foot tsunami that we got,” he said. “No state recognized the recession was going to be this severe and longstanding.”

In New Jersey, fraud alone stripped $25 million from the state unemployment insurance fund in 2009, according to a review by The Star Ledger newspaper. Non-fraud overpayments in the state totaled $59.9 million in 2009, up from $53.9 million in 2008, New Jersey state officials told ABCNews.com.

Thanks to the hiring of more part-time workers and the use of an online employment claim filing system, Marino said, he has been able to redirect staff back to their regular duties, including preventing and identifying overpayments.

Back at Work, Still Getting Unemployment?

Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Jane Oates testified before Congress in May that the top cause for overpayments was people returning to work and continuing to claim benefits.

Employment benefits experts note that such overpayments aren’t always the result of deception; sometimes it’s a matter of confusion. Technically, workers are no longer eligible for benefits on the first day they start at a new full-time job, but many believe they should continue to claim benefits until they actually receive their first paycheck.

“An individual goes to work and they report their earnings as soon as they get paid — so they’re overpaid [by the state] for a week or two,” said Marie Moss, the assistant administrator of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Moss said that such confusion proves to be the culprit in about half the cases in which Tennessee workers fail to report earnings.

Other overpayments are often the result of the unemployed errantly claiming that they were laid off instead of fired for cause — the latter of which typically disqualifies a person for benefits.

Such claims also don’t necessarily amount to fraud, Wentworth said.

“Most of these cases are about the employer and the claimant looking at the same set of facts from a different perspective,” he said.

Such overpayments are identified after employers successfully challenge their former employees’ claims.

Indiana Department of Labor spokesman Marc Lotter said the reversal of benefits decisions following employer challenges account for many of the overpayments in his state, where non-fraud overpayments totaled $34.3 million in 2009, up from $22.5 million the year before, according to state data.

“The federal law requires states to pay unemployment benefits from the moment you’re determined initially eligible. In many cases, after your initial eligibility is determined, a company will file an appeal and say, ‘No, that person wasn’t laid off. I fired them,’ ” Lotter said.

Until a hearing is held to determine whether the employer is correct, he said, “we are required by law to keep paying.”

Recovering Overpayments

After a state identifies an overpayment, officials like Tennessee’s Moss know not to expect payback immediately.

“It is more difficult to recoup funds from individuals who have been unemployed because they’re already digging out of a hole,” she said.

The department, which saw overpayments of $17 million in 2009, recovered $10.6 million that same year. Some of the recovered money stemmed from overpayments in previous years.

Moss said the state relies on repayment plans that allow claimants to repay what they owe over time. When necessary, she said, the state also can garnish wages.

In Indiana, state officials have the power to intercept state tax refunds to recoup overpayments and also can hire collections agencies, Lotter said.

Help may be on the way for states grappling with overpayments. Under federal law, when states recover overpayments, they must deposit the money back into their unemployment funds.

Legislation backed by the Obama administration would allow states to spend up to five percent of the recovered money to prevent, identify or recover future overpayments. It also would require states to issue penalties of at least 15 percent of the amount owed for fraud-related overpayments.

Oates told Congress in May that the extra money could be used by state labor departments to beef up personnel and technology.

“Because the program is now more important than ever, we must ensure that it is run as efficiently as possible,” she said.

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Members of the New Black Panthers were videotaped in front of a polling place harassing and intimidating voters and at a festival celebrating African heritage calling for blacks to kill white “crackers” and their babies. Now, Panther leader Malik Shabazz is shown praising Osama bin Laden only months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Clearly, the Panthers are a Fifth Column in America and it’s up to patriots in the blogosphere to get the word out about their subversive activities.  

EyeBlast.tv has uncovered another rare video of the New Black Panthers Chairman Malik Shabazz from a closed door meeting, this time the footage shows him praising Osama bin Laden just 6 months after the September 11 terrorist attacks on March 22, 2002.

Shabazz stated he has to “give his respect” because “he’s bringing reform to the world”. He also believes that the attacks were an inside job, saying he doesn’t know if he can trust that bin Laden was the mastermind, because the government “knows how to fix up the videos.” He has a long and storied history of blaming everything on Jewish people–claiming there was Jewish involvement in the attacks.

At one point, Shabazz told the audience to “give him a hand” and those in attendance began to clap and cheer. He also tells the other panthers that mathematically, bin Laden is their friend because he got Bush and Rumsfeld, “shakin and quakin.” He finishes by saying his name will go down in history because he won’t die a “punk” or a “sissy.”

The NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) turned a blind eye and deaf ear toward voting rights and election law violations and lobbied hard for the Justice Department to drop all charges against the Black Panthers for harassing and intimidating those who planned to vote against Brother O.

The Ku Klux Klan generated hatred against blacks and Jews, and the Panthers do likewise only they target whites and Jews. Leaders and members in both groups are rabid, virulent racists, yet Brother O and the DoJ deliberately refuse to prosecute Panther leaders and members for voter intimidation and terroristic threats against white Americans.  

If Republicans regain control of the Congress, they need to stand firm against the left’s intimidation and bulling tactics to investigate and prosecute fully the New Black Panthers organization, and then topple the Race Industry’s poverty pimps in the CBC, NAACP, Democrat Party, and Bread and Circuses administration by exposing their deeds to the light of day.

I.M. Kane


 

New Black Panther Party Leader Malik Shabazz Heaping Praise on Osama Bin Laden 3:16 Video

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