Royal Dutch Shell confirms oil leak in North Sea

From The Guardian UK

Company confirms spill from flow line serving Gannet Alpha platform and takes further measures to isolate it

Agencies, Friday 12 August 2011

Royal Dutch Shell has said it is working to contain an oil leak at its Gannet Alpha platform in the North Sea, but declined to specify the size of the leak.

“We can confirm we are managing an oil leak in a flow line that serves the Gannet Alpha platform. We deployed a remote-operated vehicle to check for a subsea leak after a light sheen was noticed in the area,” a Shell spokesman said.

“We have stemmed the leak significantly and we are taking further measures to isolate it. The subsea well has been shut in, and the flow line is being depressurised.”

Asked about the size of the leak, a Shell spokeswoman declined to say.

One of the wells at the oilfield 112 miles east of Aberdeen has been closed, but Shell did not specify whether output was reduced.

According to Argus Media, the Gannet field produced about 13,500 barrels of oil between January and April. The field is co-owned with US firm Exxon and operated by Shell.

A document available on Shell’s website says the Gannet facilities have capacity to export 88,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

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SF Bay Area Officials Interrupt Phone Service To Stall Protest

From Huffington Post:


SAN FRANCISCO — Transit officials said Friday they blocked cell phone reception in San Francisco stations for three hours to disrupt a planned demonstrations over a police shooting.

Officials with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, better known as BART, said they turned off the electricity to cell phone towers in four stations from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The move was made after BART learned that protesters planned to use mobile devices to coordinate a demonstration on train platforms.

“A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators,” BART officials said in a prepared statement.

The statement noted that it’s illegal to demonstrate on the platform or aboard the trains. BART said it has set aside special areas for demonstrations.

The American Civil Liberties Union questioned the tactic.

“Shutting down access to mobile phones is the wrong response to political protests,” the ACLU’s Rebecca Farmer said in a blog post.

BART officials were confident the cell phone disruptions were legal. The demonstration planned Thursday failed to develop.

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Meet the Global Financial Elites Controlling $46 Trillion In Wealth

From Alternet:

The economic elite have at least $46 trillion in wealth – but who are they? We look at the people and the industries picking the pockets of the working class.

By David DeGraw
August 11, 2011

The following is an adapted excerpt from David DeGraw’s new report on the financial destruction of the United States. The full report can be read here: Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class,

the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

– Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

How Much Wealth Do The Economic Elite Have?

While 68.3 million Americans struggle to get enough food to eat and wages are declining for 90 percent of the population, US millionaire household wealth has reached an unprecedented level. According to an extensive study by auditing and financial advisory firm Deloitte, US millionaire households now have $38.6 trillion in wealth. On top of the $38.6 trillion this study reveals, they have an estimated $6.3 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.

In total, US millionaire households have at least $45.9 trillion in wealth, the majority of this wealth is held within the upper one-tenth of one percent of the population.

If all this isn’t obscene enough, to further demonstrate how the global economy has now been completely rigged, Deloitte’s analysis predicated, based on current trends, that US millionaire households will see a 225 percent increase in wealth to $87.1 trillion by 2020. Accounting for wealth hidden in offshore accounts, they are projected to have over $100 trillion in total within the next decade.

Most people cannot even comprehend how much $1 trillion is, let alone $46 trillion. One trillion is equal to 1000 billion, or $1,000,000,000,000. To put it in perspective, last year the entire cost of feeding all 40 million Americans on food stamps was $65 billion.

Now consider, according to the latest IRS data, only 0.076 percent of the population, less than one-tenth of one percent, earned over $1 million in 2009.

The graph below, based on data from the Tax Policy Center, shows how much income is earned by a household at any given percentile in income distribution:

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Gay High school student confronts Pawlenty, Bachmann on their anti-gay positions

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Israeli protests widen, poll shows 88% support

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, August 12th, 2011

JERUSALEM — The leaders of a social protest movement that has rocked Israel for a month called on demonstrators to “get out of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem” to bolster demonstrations Saturday in a dozen other cities.

Israel has gripped since mid-July by a rapidly growing protest movement demanding cheaper housing, education and health care.

“We want to strengthen the movement in the periphery, where those who have pitched tents in protest are still few, so we have made a call to leave Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to take part in rallies in twelve cities,” said Stav Shafir, a protest leader.

“The main gathering will be held in Beersheba in the south, but there will also be events in Haifa (Israel’s third-largest city), Netanya, Afula, Beit Shean, Eilat and Dimona,” she said.

“In these periphery cities people’s lives are even more difficult than in the centre, near Tel Aviv. It is essential to express the solidarity of the whole movement with the populations of these communities,” Shafir added.

She also rejected any immediate opening of negotiations with the government.

“For a month (Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to humiliate us, divide us, buy time — and he has done absolutely nothing,” she said.

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Botany Of Desire : Cannabis

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The People Beg to Differ, Mr. Romney: Corporations Aren’t People

From Truth Out:

by: Isaiah J. Poole , Campaign for America’s Future
Friday 12 August 2011

The political world is abuzz with a heat-of-the-moment comment by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that is starkly revealing.

Here’s how The Huffington Post reported it:

Pressed by an attendee at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday as to why he was focusing on entitlement reforms as a means of deficit reduction over asking corporations to share part of the burden, the GOP frontrunner shot back:

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings my friend.”

Great that we’ve gotten that cleared up. Romney has taken the view codified by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case, which says that corporations are people when it comes to our political system, and since money is their vocal chord, government can’t tell them to lower their volume so other voices can be heard.

But Romney’s basic point is an economic one, that corporations are just part of a virtuous cycle of which we are all a part. Money goes in, money comes out. “The Circle of Life” plays in the background. Everybody benefits.

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Walmart Job Applicants: ‘I’ll Take Anything’

From Huffington Post:

By Dave Jamieson

SPRINGFIELD, Penn. — Among those here in the parking lot of the Masonic Hall, there’s an abiding sense that the economic recovery has stalled, if it was ever there to begin with.

Young and old, well educated and uneducated, they’re all coming here for the same thing: a job at the new area Walmart, which has set up a hiring center inside the hall; and most of them don’t care how many hours the store can give them, what they’ll have to do, or even how much they’ll be paid. They just want a job.

First requirement: Humility.

“I’ll take anything,” many say.

In less than two weeks, managers have fielded well over 1,000 applications for just 300 jobs. On Wednesday, one of those applications was filled out by Andrea Parella, another by Tee Dempsey. The two women just met here, and outside in the parking lot they give each other words of encouragement after long, brutal spells without work.

“It will get better. It has to,” says Dempsey.

Parella, a graphic designer with an associate’s degree, has been out of work for the two-and-a-half years since her company went under. She long ago exhausted her 99 weeks of unemployment, and she now finds herself filling out up to 25 online applications a day, many of them well outside her chosen field. The search is like a full-time job, punctuated with disappointment, and she says it’s tougher than any paying gig she’s ever had. The biggest challenge is staying positive.

“It’s hard to keep up the smile,” says Parella. “I worry that they can read in my face how I really feel.”

Dempsey, who lives in nearby Havertown, has her own business hanging wallpaper, but the work has ground to a halt during the prolonged downturn.

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Rick Perry Says Social Security And Medicare Are Unconstitutional

From Think Progress:

By Ian Millhiser
Aug 12, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has, to say the least, a very odd understanding of the Constitution. He thinks Texas should be able to opt out of Social Security, and he believes that everything from federal public school programs to clean air laws are unconstitutional. Yet in an interview with the Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano, Perry makes his most outlandish claim to date — Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional:

The Constitution says that “the Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes… to provide for the… general Welfare of the United States.” But I noticed that when you quoted this section on page 116, you left “general welfare” out and put an ellipsis in its place. Progressives would say that “general welfare” includes things like Social Security or Medicare—that it gives the government the flexibility to tackle more than just the basic responsibilities laid out explicitly in our founding document. What does “general welfare” mean to you?

[PERRY:] I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care. What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that. From my perspective, the states could substantially better operate those programs if that’s what those states decided to do.

So in your view those things fall outside of general welfare. But what falls inside of it? What did the Founders mean by “general welfare”?

[PERRY:] I don’t know if I’m going to sit here and parse down to what the Founding Fathers thought general welfare meant.

But you just said what you thought they didn’t mean by general welfare. So isn’t it fair to ask what they did mean? It’s in the Constitution.


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Anti-Gay Marriage State Rep. Accused Of Offering Young Male Money ‘For A Really Good Time’

From Talking Points Memo:

ByJillian Rayfield
August 12, 2011

An Indiana state Representative, who recently voted for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, has been accused of using Craigslist to offer an 18-year old male $80 for “a couple hours of your time tonight” plus a tip “for a really good time.”

The Indianapolis Star obtained e-mails sent from Rep. Phillip Hinkle’s (R) publicly listed personal address, responding to a Craigslist posting by Kameryn Gibson that said “I need a sugga daddy.” Gibson told the Star that the post was in the “Casual Encounters” section under m4m, or men for men. He used his sister Megan’s e-mail address — and she later sent the e-mails to the Star.

“Cannot be a long time sugar daddy,” says the e-mail response from what is allegedly Hinkle’s address, “but can for tonight. Would you be interested in keeping me company for a while tonight?”

“I am an in shape married professional, 5’8″, fit 170 lbs, and love getting and staying naked,” the e-mail says.

Another e-mail says: “If u want to consider spending night u might tell ur sis so she won’t worry. Would have u back before 11 tomorrow. No extra cash just free breakfast and maybe late night snack.”

The Star reports:

The young man told The Star that they met, but that he tried to leave after the man told him he was a state lawmaker. He said the lawmaker at first told him he could not leave, grabbed him in the rear, exposed himself to the young man and then later gave him an iPad, BlackBerry cellphone and $100 cash to keep quiet.

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