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Health Care & Environment

07.20 Until Emissions Drop, Nothing Has Been Accomplished: The Climate Resistance Handbook Is Here. [Trump can't be bothered as the world turns into a large cinder. His laser focus is on personal greed.]

07.20 Babies Born Near Oil and Gas Wells Are Up to 70% More Likely to Have Congenital Heart Defects, New Study Shows

07.20 Giving 'Upper Hand to Corporate Polluters,' EPA Drops Surprise Inspections

07.20 With Petition to Congress, 100,000+ People Demand Green New Deal 'That Fixes Our Food System' [Realtime proactive response to reality—now and threatening—doesn't get attention in this greed focused administration]

07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]

07.19 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat

07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

News Media Matters

07.19 Fox News’s star names excuse the inexcusable after Trump's latest racist attack

07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.20 Puerto Rico: top US politicians join chorus calling for governor's resignation

07.20 Fact check: Trump says Puerto Rico got $92 billion. They've seen only a fraction [If he opens his mouth, Trump's lying.]

07.20 "Trump Says Go Home, Ilhan's Community Says Welcome Home": Rep. Omar Greeted With Cheers of Love and Support in Return to Minnesota

07.20 WATCH: Amid Extreme Anti-Refugee Push, Trump Displays Neither Interest Nor Knowledge of Asylum Seekers' Plight in Oval Office Meeting

07.20 Trump Denies Being at North Carolina Rally [Not sure if Trump supporters 'get' satire, but here goes....]

07.19 Are progressives working on a climate plan for 2021? You bet.

07.19 House Democrats demand Hope Hicks clarify testimony after Cohen document dump

07.19 The 51 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump's repugnant North Carolina rally

07.19 The Real Meaning of ‘Send Her Back!’

07.18 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Breaking up Homeland Security

07.18 Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California

07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]

07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]

07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]

07.18 "Can't Change a Corrupt System by Taking Its Money": Sanders Urges All 2020 Democrats to Reject Insurance, Big Pharma Cash [49:02 video w/ lousy sound]

Justice Matters

07.19 UN urged to act over 'purge' of Turkey's lawyers by Erdogan

07.19 DOJ Releases Strong Evidence of Trump’s Campaign Finance Violations But No Explanation of No Charges [The statement]

High Crimes vs. Human Rights

07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.20 US to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia in face of 'credible' regional threats [Working with Osama bin Laden's godfathers, Trump wants to profit like Erik Prince (for-profit education secretary Betsy DeVos' brother) of Blackwater infamy (hurriedly renamed ‘Academi’), the U.S. taxpayer to pay inflated costs while Trump siphons off long-term emolument largesse]

07.20 Iran on 'dangerous path' with seizure of Stena Impero, says UK [Which is this, a tit or a tat?]

07.20 'Dark satanic mills': Tony Abbott continues his crusade against wind turbines [Too much CO2 air pollution makes you stupid, and turns your country into an “Idiocracy” (1:36 video clip)]

07.20 Bolsonaro declares 'the Amazon is ours' and calls deforestation data 'lies' [Lazy and willfully stupid whenever it serves his purpose, just like Trump. “And the rest of you can all go to hell.” Again, just like Trump. Has your country turned into an “Idiocracy”? (1:36 video clip)]

07.19 U.N.'s Bachelet says Congresswomen opposing Trump are 'fantastic'

07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]

07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]

07.18 Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market

07.18 There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff

07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]

07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]

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  US Inspector General Report: Falsified Oil Rig Inspections and Other Improprieties

REPORT:

US Inspector General Report: Falsified Oil Rig Inspections and Other Improprieties

by Stephen Lendman
Thursday, 27 May 2010
With the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service compromised, inspectors on the take, using drugs, engaging in other improprieties follow—apparent longstanding practices at Interior, likely also throughout government agencies, serving business when they're supposed to be watchdogs.

On May 24, Mary L. Kendall, Acting Interior Department Inspector General's memo to her boss, Secretary Ken Salazar, discussed an "Investigative Report," titled "Island Operating Company, et al," addressing allegations that Lake Charles, Louisiana District Office Minerals Management Service (MMS) employees (in charge of inspections and oversight) "accepted gifts from oil and gas production companies."

Occurring prior to 2007, it provides evidence that "a much-needed (MMS ethics) change is required." Ordinarily, public release would have followed a formal MMS response, 90 days after getting it. But today's events forced Kendall "to release it now," saying her greatest concern is the "environment in which these inspectors operate - particularly the ease with which they move between industry and government."

She found evidence that MMS and industry personnel fraternized and exchanged gifts, and have known each other since childhood. MMS staff used illegal drugs, viewed pornography on their government computers, and sent emails with racist comments, citing one manager saying:

"Obviously, we're all oil industry. We're all from the same part of the country. Almost all of our inspectors have worked for oil companies out on these same platforms. They grew up in the same towns." They've been friends all their lives. "They've hunted together. They fish together. They skeet shoot together....They do this all the time."

John E. Dupuy, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, prepared the report for S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, MMS's Director.

It says industry gifts included hunting and fishing trips, lunches, and other favors from the Island Operating Company (IOC), working on Gulf oil and gas rigs. In addition, one inspector was in the process of "negotiating and later accepting employment with that company."

The investigation followed an anonymous October 28, 2008 letter, addressed to the New Orleans US Attorney's office, citing improprieties and recommending an investigation. Dupuy found "a number of MMS employees....admitted to attending sporting events prior to 2007 in which which oil and gas production companies sponsored teams, as well as receiving lunches" and other gifts.

His investigation showed a pervasive gift-acceptance culture in the Lake Charles, LA District Office, suggesting similar improprieties elsewhere.

Background

MMS leased Gulf drilling sites to about 130 oil and gas companies, including BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, and many others. About 4,000 rigs are located throughout four Louisiana districts - Lake Charles, Lafayette, New Orleans, and Houma - as well as one in Lake Jackson, TX.

The Outer Continental Shelf Act requires that MMS inspect these platforms to assure they comply with federal regulations with regard to safety and environmental considerations, issuing "incidents of non-compliance" for known deficiencies. From 2004 - 2009, IOC's experience was instructive. It was fined a mere $572,500, pocket change too little to matter.

The current investigation followed an earlier one into former New Orleans regional supervisor Don Howard's activities - fired in January 2007 for accepting drilling contractor gifts, failing to report them, then making false statements for cover.

His impropriety "appears to have been a generally accepted practice by MMS inspectors and supervisors in the Gulf of Mexico region."

Gifts included sports tickets, skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, Christmas parties, among others, at times including travel and other expenses. If they exceed $335 dollars from any one source during the reporting period, they're required to be disclosed, and the identity of the source.

According to one former Lake Charles inspector, "everyone has gotten some sort of gift before at some point," showing a practice way out of hand, suggesting the possibility that maybe cash and other favors were given.

According to one inspector, what oil and gas companies got in return was a "better working relationship." Indeed so, including letting them prepare their own audits in pencil, inked over by inspectors to look legitimate - a practice far worse than gross mismanagement.

It's a crime demanding prosecutions of industry and government offenders. They're not coming. Informed about the Inspector General's report, the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana declined further action, absolving serious offenses.

One or more inspectors also used cocaine and methamphetamine, may have been under the influence on the job, and not for the first time according to an internal 2008 investigation, prepared by Inspector General Earl E. Devaney.

On May 11, AP noted a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" by MMS inspectors and other workers. The agency has a duel role - collecting over $10 billion in annual royalties while enforcing drilling regulations, a clear conflict of interest.

Devaney found MMS royalty collection personnel having sex and using drugs with energy company employees, besides inspectors on the take. He described a "culture of ethical failure" in an agency rife with conflicts of interests, including the longstanding practice of being too cozy with the oil and gas industry.

On May 24, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, "Inspector General's Inquiry Faults Regulators," saying:

MMS "inspectors (also) accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company (from 2005 - 2007) while they were overseeing the industry," more evidence of lax oversight and cozy industry ties.

"At least seven inspectors cited in the report as having been involved in inappropriate or illegal activities were still employed by the agency when the report was completed in March." No surprise under Ken Salazar's watch at Interior, a man rife with conflicts of interest.

He's a rancher, former Colorado junior senator, and one of the "Gang of 14" against filibustering extremist Bush judicial appointments. In addition, he supported Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, then introduced and sat with him at his Senate confirmation hearing.

In 2001, he also backed Gale Norton (a former Colorado Attorney General) for Interior Secretary, and the worst of her pro-business, anti-environmental policies. William Myers III as well, a former ranching industry lobbyist and Interior Department solicitor, for the federal bench even though the American Bar Association rated him "not qualified."

It gets worse. His overall environmental record is abysmal. In 2005, he voted against higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, so-called "Corporate Average Fuel Economy" (CAFE). He also opposed an amendment to repeal tax breaks for Exxon Mobil and other Big Oil and gas companies, and supports unregulated drilling on federal lands, including offshore.

He voted limiting offshore Florida Gulf coast drilling, and backed subsidies for the livestock industry, ranchers, and other users of public lands and national forests. He fought efforts to increase Farm Bill protections for endangered species and the environment, and threatened to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service when its scientists determined that the black-tailed prairie dog was endangered.

In 2007, he was one of the few Democrats against a bill requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects. According to Project Vote Smart, the US Humane Society rated his voting record a low 25%. The Fund for Animals scored him zero during 2005 and 2006.

Other critics expressed dismay about a man with close ranching and mining industry ties as well as no interest in environmental protection or reforming drilling and other energy development practices. Unsurprisingly, the criminal Gulf incident happened on his watch, and he's spearheading coverup.

When the Interior Department's head is compromised, inspectors on the take, using drugs, and engaging in other improprieties follow - apparent longstanding practices at Interior, likely also throughout government agencies, serving business when they're supposed to be watchdogs.

A Final Comment

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reported that since the April 20 Gulf incident, MMS approved 27 new regional offshore projects and exempted 26 others from environmental review, from April 21 - May 7 - 26 got "categorical exclusion(s)" under the National Environmental Policy Act. According to Salazar, Interior has no intention of stopping new oil and gas operations in the Gulf, despite Obama's announced moratorium.

CBD's executive director, Kieran Suckling said:

"Under pressure from the oil industry and an agency he seems incapable of controlling, Secretary Salazar has watered down the drilling moratorium to a point where it is virtually meaningless." Like Obama, he's more interested in political damage control than protecting the environment. His "so-called moratoriums and reforms are little more than rhetorical dispersants designed to break up and hide the political scandal threatening to wash up on his shore."

On May 25, New York University Professor Paul Light called the moratorium "so ridiculous that it defies understanding." Instead of one with teeth, it "appears to have been basically done through the most casual way possible under federal law," to deflect criticism, not institute reform or environmental protection.

Lewis and Clark Law School Professor Daniel J. Rohlf said "The moratorium does not even cover the dangerous drilling that caused the problem in the first place." He and others doubt that the Interior Department can institute reforms, given its longstanding coziness with the industry.

On May 25, the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the Inspector General's Report, citing an agency "riddled with illegal drug use, and worst of all, falsification of inspection reports crucial to ensuring the safe operation of drill rigs in our waters....The extent of the culture of corruption in the MMS is mind boggling. Steps (Salazar) proposed to fix this dysfunctional organization do not come close to what is needed to root out the systematic corruption of the agency."

Shades of Paddy Bauler, former Chicago alderman who once famously said: "Chicago ain't ready for reform," nor is it today under Mayor Richard M. Daley or his predecessors, in Illinois under successive governors, or in Washington where the criminal class is bipartisan, Obama no different from the rest, and in many respects much worse.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on May 27, 2010.
 

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