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Friday, August 13, 2010

Dauphin Island, Alabama - BP says it is no longer using toxic dispersants to break up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Gulf Coast residents claim otherwise, and say they have the sicknesses to prove it.

On Aug. 5, Donny Mastler, a commercial fisherman who also works on boats, was at the Dauphin Island Marina.

"I was with my friend Albert, and we were both slammed with exposure," Mastler, told IPS, referring to toxic chemicals he inhaled that he believes are associated with BP's Corexit dispersants. "We both saw the clumps of white bubbles on the surface that we know come from the dispersed oil."

Both of their eyes were watering and their throats were burning, so Albert went to sit in his air-conditioned truck, while Mastler headed home.

"I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also," Mastler said. "I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhea unlike anything I've ever experienced."

BP has been using two oil dispersants, Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527, both of which are banned in Britain. More than 1.9 million gallons of dispersant has been used to date on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Pathways of exposure are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, dizziness, chest pains and tightness, irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs, difficulty breathing, respiratory system damage, skin irrigation and sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic damage and mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage, among several others.

Not along ago, at the same marina, WKRG News 5 took a water sample to test for dispersants. The sample literally exploded when it was mixed with an organic solvent separating the oil from the water.

Bob Naman, the chemist who analysed the sample, told the station, "We think that it most likely happened due to the presence of either methanol or methane gas or the presence of the dispersant Corexit."

As for Mastler's physical reaction to his exposure, Hugh Kaufman, an EPA whistleblower and analyst, has reported this of the effects of the toxic dispersants:

"We have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that's what dispersants are supposed to do…And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around 50. It's very dangerous, and it's an… economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public."

Full Story

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Democracy Corps, and Campaign for Amerca's Future released a new poll this morning on the economy with a press call featuring pollster Stan Greenberg, Campaign For America's Future's Robert Borosage and MoveOn.org's Nita Chaudhary.

The most salient result from the polling, said Greenberg is that it reflected that the electorate is "remarkably sophisticated about the economic crisis and its causes" and hold the firm belief that the only way to address the deficit long term is with investment in the economy. The survey of 1,000 people who voted in 2008 was conducted at the end of July. Here are the key findings:

  • 68 percent said they would oppose making major spending cuts in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit, while 28 percent said they would favor cutting those programs. That included 61 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents.
  • Strong majorities support progressive solutions for addressing the federal deficit: 63 percent back lifting the Social Security cap on incomes higher than $107,000 a year; 64 percent would favor eliminating tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs; 62 percent would support a tax on excessive Wall Street bank profits.
  • Strong majorities also oppose common conservative proposals for addressing the budget deficit: 65 percent oppose raising the Social Security retirement age to 70; 65 percent oppose replacing Medicare with a private sector voucher; 62 percent oppose a 3 percent federal sales tax; 60 percent oppose raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67.
  • More people support a message that embraces the need for both investments in our future and reduce the deficit over time (52 percent) than a message that only stresses cuts in spending (42 percent). Also, almost equal percentages of respondents were favorable toward “a plan to invest in new industries and rebuild the country over the next five years” (60 percent) and “a plan to dramatically reduce the deficit over five years” (61 percent).
  • 62 percent of respondents support more federal to states once they understand that the aid comes in the context of states laying off teachers, first responders and other essential workers due to the recession. That includes 55 percent of independents and 48 percent of Republicans.
  • 60 percent of those surveyed responded positively to an economic message that said that “we have a budget deficit, but ... we also have a massive public investment deficit” that requires us to “rebuild the infrastructure that is vital to our economy” and to the economic growth that will “generate revenues to help pay down the budget deficit.” This message tests better than any other progressive message on investment as well as more conservative messages focused on spending cuts.

Here's what that looks like:

Click the image to enlarge.

Note two of the hot political debates at the moment: letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire polls at 54 percent, while raising the retirement age to 70 nets 33 percent.

As Bob Borosage said on the call, "Republicans are getting this exactly wrong" politically and in terms of policy when they argue the way out of economic ruin is to slash spending, turn Medicare into a voucher program (Paul Ryan's big "roadmap" idea) and cut Social Security benefits or raise the retirement age. These are highly unpopular. And the average American voter is a lot smarter than the average Republican in Congress, because they understand that the only way to grow out of this economic crisis is with aggressive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and that that is necessary to reduce deficits.