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Saturday, June 12, 2010

OIL IN THE GULF, RAFA NADAL, SUDAN, DARFUR NEWS, LETTER TO OBAMA, TV SERIES TO FILM IN RHODE ISLAND JULY 2010

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Uploaded by CBS June 08, 2010Fifty days after oil first began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, environmentalists are dealing with its tragic impact on the natural wildlife in the region. Mark Strassmann reports from Grand Isle, La.

That last statement sounds like just something to say....you know like when we say "Never again" at the end of every genocide we acknowledge has happened. We never mean it.


IN THIS POST


* Oil Weighing Down Wildlife
* National Geographic - Gulf Oil Disaster - Are birds better off dead?
* More Gulf Oil Spill Coverage »
* Rafael Nadal - Very nice interview with Rafa
* Oil in the Gulf - June 11, 2010
* SUDAN - Live Webcast June 16, 2010, 4:00 p.m. USA EDT
* Darfur News
* Letter to Obama that I signed with other groups
* World Refugee Day - June 20, 2010
* South Carolina candidate Alvin Greene
* BP in charge of what it shouldn't be in charge of
* TV Show - Body of Proof being filmed entirely in Rhode Island
* Watching America
* Is the US learning the oil spill lesson?
* Report from Pravda, Russia America's Chernobyl
* National Geographic - Oil in the Gulf of Mexico Pictures
* Click the post title to AlJazeeraEnglish looks at what engineers are facing in trying to stem the flow of oil. Dated May 1, 2010

Here goes.....


Oil Weighing Down Wildlife
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Christine Dell'Amore

National Geographic News

Published June 9, 2010

Since late last week a flood of pictures of oil-coated Gulf of Mexico birds—and conservationists painstakingly cleaning them—has added new emotional impact to the BP oil spill.

Some experts—citing traditionally low survival rates for rescued birds—are controversially arguing it would be better to immediately and humanely kill the suffering birds.

In a Spiegel Online article last month, German biologist Silvia Gaus argued that workers helping birds caught in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, should "kill, not clean." Gaus said studies show that more than 99 percent of rehabilitated birds will die anyway as a result of oil exposure, mainly due to kidney and liver damage caused by oil ingestion.

Each oil spill is different, however, and survival rates often depend on factors such as climate and species, according to Nils Warnock, a wildlife specialist with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at the University of California, Davis.

No one knows what the survival rate will be for the Gulf species affected by the oil spill. But, Warnock said, "I don't believe that all these birds that are being rehabilitated for the Deepwater Horizon spill will end up dying."

He added that Gaus's statistics are related to past North Sea oil spills, where birds are more prone to freezing after oil has compromised their natural waterproofing.

Conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, the studies also represent an "old paradigm" of bird rehabilitation, Warnock said. More recent work contradicts their conclusions of poor survival rates, he added.

For instance, a January 2009 study published in the African Journal of Marine Science said that only 27 percent of oil-rescued penguins had been unable to breed following their release—a relatively low rate.

And other recent studies found that, in the United States, 40 to 60 percent of some species of rehabilitated birds had survived after release, thanks to improved treatment, according to Roger Helm, chief of environmental quality for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Over the years, rehabilitators have learned—mostly from trial and error—how better to care for injured birds, which is particularly important for rare species, Helm added.

But biologist J.V. Remsen is skeptical of the higher survival rates, at least in the context of the Gulf oil spill. That's because the birds may have ingested toxic oil before they ever reach a rescue center.

"If the rehabbers can convince me that 25-50 percent are going to be successfully cleaned and released back into the environment and not die subsequently and painfully from the oil they have ingested, then OK, let's give it a try," said Remsen, ornithologist and professor at the Louisiana State Department of Biological Sciences in Baton Rouge.

But, he said, "emotionally painful as it is, I would be for euthanizing those birds if it can be shown that the probability of them being successfully rehabbed is low."

As of Monday, 594 dead oiled birds and 413 live ones have been collected along the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, according to the joint federal-industry response team.

Thirty-nine birds have been released back into the wild, some of them to Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is currently outside of the oil's trajectory, according to the National Audubon Society.

Emotional Case for Rehabbing Oiled Birds

Of course, the decision to kill or clean is tough to make on mathematics alone.

"The public demands that something be done," the Oiled Wildlife Care Network's Warnock said. "It's heart-wrenching—you see this totally oil-covered animal. The only way you can see that they're alive is that their little eye blinks. That kills me every time."

Added USFWS' Helm, "We have responsibility for the birds, so we make the choice to do rehabilitation."

Saving even a few birds of rare species can make a real difference, said David Mizejewski, a naturalist at the Virginia-based National Wildlife Federation, a conservation nonprofit.

For instance, in the case of the brown pelican—a Gulf native only recently taken off the U.S. endangered species list—"every individual counts," Mizejewski said.

Gulf Oil Toxic to Birds

Oil harms birds in two ways: internally and externally.

Oil-soaked birds vigorously preen their feathers to remove the toxic crude, accidentally ingesting it, which can cause internal ailments.

"Try removing crude oil from your arm with your mouth and not getting any of it into your body," Louisiana State's Remsen said.

"How much damage has already been done [by the time the bird is rescued]? That's the big unknown in all of this rehabilitation."

Externally, oil degrades the birds' waterproofing oils, allowing cold water to touch skin and making the animals vulnerable to hypothermia, especially in cold regions, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network's Warnock said. "It's like surfing in the Northern Pacific—if your wet suit gets a hole, you're going to be cold fast."

Fortunately many of the hard-hit Gulf species, such as brown pelicans and laughing gulls, don't spend much time at sea, making their waterproofing less critical, Warnock pointed out. (Gulf Oil Spill Pictures: Ten Animals at Risk.)

But addressing the external effects is still an especially tricky task right now in the Gulf.

For instance, the Deepwater Horizon crude is especially sticky, which requires workers to clean the birds with more "intense" detergent, which in turn strips more of the birds' waterproofing oils, according to USFWS' Helm.

Conservationists have to wait weeks or even months for the birds' waterproofing to be naturally replenished, further stressing the animals and reducing space for incoming patients, Helm said.

Rescued Birds' Homing Instincts May Backfire

When a bird is rehabilitated, finding locations to release the animal so it won't get re-oiled is "problematic," Helm added.

That's why rehabilitators tend to choose oil-free habitats far away, Louisiana State's Remsen said. Yet many seabirds are "notorious for exceptional homing abilities, even over completely unfamiliar territory and vast distances.

"Many bird biologists would wager that the released birds would head right back where they came from, back into harm's way, especially during breeding season," Remsen said.

There's also the possibility that the birds won't adjust to their new homes, noted the National Wildlife Federation's Mizejewski. "If you're moved 500 miles [about 800 kilometers] away, even if you're following your instincts, you don't know the topography or where to look for food."

There's "no easy solution to clean up this mess," Mizejewski added. "We can't just take a few birds and put them in dish detergent and say we fixed the problem.

"It's a tragic, real example, in our face, [of the fact] that this problem is going to be with us for decad
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Rafael Nadal BBC Interview - after Rd 1 at The Queens Club
June 11, 2010
Uploaded by thisroomsforsquares

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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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June 11, 2010

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Please note: This event will be webcast live beginning at 4:00pm EDT on June 16, 2010 at www.usip.org/webcast.html.

A Critical Moment in Sudan: Views from President Thabo Mbeki and SRSG Haile Menkerios

Co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the U.S. Institute of Peace


With seven months until the referendum in Sudan to determine whether or not the south remains part of a united Sudan, coupled with the recent increase of violence in Darfur, the country remains volatile and its future uncertain. The United States and the international community - particularly the African Union and the United Nations - remain deeply involved in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the preparations for the referendum. As the countdown to this all-important vote begins, the Africa Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the United States Institute of Peace are jointly hosting a discussion with two key leaders of the international effort to manage this difficult process in Sudan: former South African President Thabo Mbeki, now head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (Sudan), and Haile Menkerios, the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general in Sudan and head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan. They will discuss the current situation in Sudan and international efforts to achieve peace and ensure a smooth referendum process.

With:

  • President Thabo Mbeki, Former President of South Africa
    Head of the African Union High Level Implementation Plan (Sudan)
  • Halie Menkerios, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in Sudan
    Head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)

Darfur In the News

Reuters: ICC seeks UN council aid on Sudan arrests. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on Thursday that he will ask the U.N. Security Council this week to order Sudan to hand over two men indicted for war crimes in Darfur. "What we need now is to declare that the Security Council will ensure their arrest," ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters.

Reuters: Sudan retires general sanctioned over Darfur. Sudan's president replaced the top leadership of his armed forces, the army said late Thursday, including removing one senior officer facing U.S. sanctions for his alleged role in the Darfur conflict. Sudan's army spokesman told Reuters the move was nothing to do with politics but was part of an annual review of senior posts, promoting officers to replace commanders who had reached retirement age. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir removed five generals, including the deputy chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the armed services General Mohammed Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, blacklisted by Washington for his role as the army's head of military intelligence and security during the Darfur conflict. Auf is included on Washington's list of Specially Designated Nationals which freezes any of their assets in the States and blocks U.S. nationals from doing business with them.

Sudan Tribune: Civil society call for independent referendum commission. With Sudan's long-awaited referendum just months away, civil society members under the 'Southern Sudan Civil Society Referendum Taskforce' are already advocating for the formation of an independent referendum commission. "This civil society referendum taskforce will serve as a think tank for information sharing, analysis and dissemination. It will also act as an advocacy group that will promote the needs of the population prior to the forthcoming referendum," a member told this reporter yesterday.

The following op-ed by George Clooney and John Prendergast was featured in USA Today: U.S. must help stop Sudan's slow-motion war. "The largest conventional war on the face of the earth in 2011 will occur in Sudan unless bold diplomacy led by the U.S. prevents it. The most dangerous tripwire will be in seven months, when southern Sudanese will vote to determine whether the South splits off and forms a new country. Some ruling party officials don't want to give up the oil-rich South without a fight. Southerners spilled a great deal of blood to win the right to opt out of Sudan, and they will keep fighting until they have their own state [...] The good news is that this path to all-out war is unfolding in slow motion, and there is time to prevent it. The U.S. has a history of leading international efforts in Sudan, including helping to broker the 2005 peace deal. But the Obama administration has not taken a direct, leading role in the negotiations to avert renewed war in the South or to end the Darfur conflict. Furthermore, some U.S. officials believe that the United States has no leverage in Sudan. U.S. officials can break out of this box and build leverage in support of peace by presenting a Door 1 vs. Door 2 scenario, in which good outcomes would result from peace, and serious consequences would be triggered by war. Parallel carrots and sticks are the key to this approach."

The following piece by John Prendergast was featured in The Huffington Post in response to reactions to his above op-ed: The Value of Sticks AND Carrots. "Some strong reactions to the op-ed I wrote with George Clooney yesterday, published in USA Today, prompt me to follow up with some additional thoughts that we weren't able to convey in a 600 word article. In the piece, we wrote:

'On the carrots side, the U.S. should present a quid pro quo with an expiration date by the end of the year: In exchange for peace in Darfur and the South, the U.S. would move to normalize relations with Sudan and work in the U.N. Security Council to suspend the war crimes indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir under Article 16 of the International Criminal Court charter. On the sticks side, a U.S.-led initiative should build international support for severe consequences for anyone promoting war, whether they are ruling party officials, militias, rebels, or southern Sudan's leaders.'

This in no way diminishes my (or Enough's) belief that - in light of the pattern of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party to renege on its written agreements and work behind-the-scenes to undermine peace - multilateral sticks remain the greatest tool with which to promote policy and behavior change on the part of the NCP. Promoting parallel carrots is required to increase the chances of being heard by Obama administration officials and allies who do not respond to a sticks-only message, and to increase the odds that the NCP will actually alter its behavior in favor of peace if there is a real prospect of achieving some of its foreign policy goals with respect to its relations with the rest of the world."


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Letter to President Obama on ICC

My signature is second from the last in the above letter.

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World Refugee Day
June 20, 2010

Follow the refugees on Twitter:
twitter.com/refugees

see the embed images at http://www.refugeedaylive.org/share.html




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SO, WHO IS GOING TO LASSO BP IN?

There's been something noticeably absent from the media coverage of the oil spill. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tallied hundreds of dead birds, sea turtles, and dolphins drenched with oil. But where are the photos?

The reason you're not seeing many is because BP doesn't want you to. They've barred workers from sharing photos of oiled wildlife and, according to locals, have been whisking away dead and injured wildlife to buildings and offshore ships.


For animal lovers, one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the Gulf spill is the oil-drenched wildlife washing up on shore. If you're too horrified to look at any photos, you're in luck — BP doesn't want you to see them.

BP Tries to Block Photos of Dead Wildlife

by Laura Goldman

As of Friday morning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s tally of dead animals collected in the Gulf area was 527 birds, 235 sea turtles (six to nine times the average rate), and 30 mammals, including dolphins. Yesterday morning, the spill washed over Queen Bess Island (called “Bird Island” by locals), which is a habitat for Louisiana brown pelicans, the state bird that was once an endangered species. Forty-one of the birds were coated with oil, and that number is expected to rise.

Have you seen the terrible pictures of all this carnage? Neither have I. And neither has anyone else.

Wonder why? The New York Daily News reported on Wednesday that BP has ordered its contractors not to share pictures or otherwise publicize the scores of dead and injured wildlife.

An unnamed BP contractor gave a reporter a very different tour from the one presented to President Obama during his recent visit. Among the “highlights,” if that's what they can be called, was a decomposing dolphin that the worker said had been found filled with oil. The shoreline grass of Queen Bess Island was covered with stricken marine life, some dead and some struggling to breathe. The normally white heads of pelicans were dark with oil.

The worker said BP was insistent it didn't want any photos of the dead animals. "There is a lot of coverup for BP," the worker told the reporter. "They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence."

As extra assurance that most of us will never see photographic or any other evidence of the true extent of the carnage, Louisiana residents said BP quickly whisks off dead and injured wildlife to inaccessible buildings and offshore ships. Out of sight, out of mind ... but forever in locals' memories.

New York Daily News reporters trying to get a closer look at the disaster were escorted from a beach by police who said they were taking orders from BP. Even Louisiana residents have been required to sign non-disclosures.

Really, BP? Did you not get the memo this isn’t a police state? You may be able to control politicians by lining their pockets, but your bucks stop there. This disaster is going to affect all of us, and we have every right to see the extent of the damage.

In an encouraging development, this week Charlie Riedel of the Associated Press was somehow able to bypass BP's myriad roadblocks and snap some appalling photos. They may make us want to shield our eyes, but it's important we don't bury our heads just as BP would love for us to do.

Photo Credit: marinephotobank

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NEW TV SERIES TO FILM ENTIRELY IN RI

The Rhode Island Film & TV Office is pleased to announce that a new television series, BODY OF PROOF (formerly BODY OF EVIDENCE), has been picked up for ABC’s fall primetime schedule and will start filming episodes for its first season throughout the Ocean State in July 2010.

Pre-production will commence immediately in the Warwick offices. The ABC Studios original television pilot was filmed in Rhode Island earlier this year.
BODY OF PROOF is a procedural drama that centers on a brilliant and tenacious female medical examiner whose background as a neurosurgeon gives her a unique and refreshing crime-solving perspective at the ME’s office, one that often puts her at odds with just about everyone who crosses her path.

Dana Delany stars as Dr. Megan Hunt, Jeri Ryan as Dr. Kate Murphy, Geoffrey Arend as Dr. Elliot Gross, John Carroll Lynch as Detective Bud Morris, Windell Middlebrooks as Dr. Curtis Brumfield, Nic Bishop as Peter Dunlap and Sonja Sohn as Detective Samantha Baker.
Christopher Murphey wrote the pilot, which was directed by Nelson McCormick. Murphey will serve as Executive Producer along with Matt Gross. Richard Heus is co-Executive producer.

Steven Feinberg
, Executive Director of the Film & TV Office said, "We are extremely proud to announce this great news. ABC Studios has chosen our beautiful state as the base of operations to film their new network television series, which will premiere on Friday nights at 9PM. As a result, more jobs will be immediately available to our local crew and talent pool. The production will quickly feed new money into our state’s small businesses and help pump up Rhode Island’s economy. This is further proof that our Ocean State has the heart, resources and foresight to compete in even the most challenging of climates…and win."

“Rhode Island will once again be featured as the backdrop for an exciting television drama,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “Rhode Island’s natural beauty, historic architecture, and talented workforce will help make BODY OF PROOF an instant success with television viewers.”

House Speaker Gordon D. Fox
said, "The continuation of the television and film tax incentive program created by the General Assembly played a major role in securing this television series for our state. I am extremely proud of the work of our many talented individuals who have great expertise in the arts' industry. This series will provide steady work for them, as well as many businesses in the hospitality field and other companies that will benefit from the presence of a major TV production."

President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D - Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) said, "News that ABC will pick up this series and will be filming in Rhode Island can help Rhode Island workers through jobs and internships in the film industry, use of Rhode Island vendors, and the promotion of our state through greater exposure of its many magnificent locations. Our beautiful state is diverse and compact, which lends itself wonderfully to the demands of the film industry. This is another example of the ways in which Rhode Island can build upon its strengths to foster job creation."
"This is a great development for Rhode Island and for our community, where pre-production will begin," said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. "We look forward to working with the state Film and Television Office as well as all who are involved with BODY OF PROOF to assure the series' success and to showcase all that Warwick and our state have to offer."

Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline
said, "We are pleased that BODY OF PROOF had a positive experience while filming the pilot in Providence in March and will be returning to the Ocean State. I would like to thank ABC and the production for its commitment to creating jobs for Rhode Islanders by hiring local crew.”

ABC Studios is a leader in the development, production and strategic distribution of entertainment content across television and emerging digital platforms. As a key content driver for the Disney-ABC Television Group, the studio has produced four consecutive seasons of hit programming. For more information go to: http://abc.go.com/shows/body-of-proof

The Rhode Island Film & TV Office is a division of The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.


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