Tag Archives: Jeff Neumann

And He Was Installing The Alarm System, Too…

Melissa Bell at WaPo:

One oft-told tale of Pablo Picasso is that when presented with a bill at a bar, he’d whip off a sketch on a napkin, sign and date it, and the bill would be considered paid. The artist produced some 20,000 pieces of work in his long life, the Metropolitan Museum of Art told the Associated Press. And 271 of those pieces have just been discovered in a trunk at a retired French electrician’s home.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker:

A retired French electrician, Pierre Le Guennecsays he has “hundreds” of Picasso paintings, notebooks, lithographs and a watercolor believed to be worth around 60 million euros, which he claims Picasso gave him as a gift. Picasso’s son disagrees.

Tyler Cowen

Kate Deimling at Art Info:

Including lithographs, paintings, drawings, and a Blue Period watercolor — none of which appears in the inventory of Picasso’s estate — the trove is valued at €60 million ($79 million), according to French paper Libération, which broke the story. Experts estimate the nine Cubist collages alone to be worth €40 million ($53 million). The 71-year-old electrician managed to have the works authenticated by the artist’s estate in September, but the estate subsequently sued for possession of stolen goods and the works were seized last month by the Office Central de Lutte contre le Trafic de Biens Culturels, the French art-trafficking squad.

Jonathan Turley:

The very notion of 271 new Picasso paintings is amazing. The man worked for Picasso in the 1970s and this could create a fascinating contest over credibility if has no written record. The absence of any prior disclosure certainly makes the claim somewhat suspicious. Such cases can become the ultimate jury question — with members looking at the practices of the artist. It is quite common for many artists to give away their works, even as payment for services. This number of paintings, however, would represent a lot of work or a lot of friendship. It is also striking that the paintings were not previously known to be missing.

Picasso died a few years later and was already an international superstar in the art field. This was not some starving painter trading paintings for baguettes. Moreover, it is hard to see how much of a friendship could have developed over the course of the installation of a security system. Of course, there is always the possibility that Picasso was simply eccentric and a bit daffy in his final years. Anyway it goes, it should make for an interesting tort or criminal case or both.

Jen Doll at Village Voice:

Aspiring screenwriters, take note. This is a plot goldmine.

Let the art ownership battle begin.

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And The Fire Spreads

CBS News:

Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said.

WTVF reports firefighters were alerted by a passerby who saw flames at the site. One large earth hauler was set on fire before the suspect or suspects left the scene.

The chair of the center’s planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff’s department.

“Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen,” said Fathy. “They are so scared.”

The fire was smoldering by the time Fathy and the center’s imam, Ossama Bahloul, had arrived. Fathy was told that responders had smelled gasoline near the fire.

Fathy was later contacted by members of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, who told him the incident was under investigation and to remain calm.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

In recent weeks we’ve been covering the controversy over a proposed Muslim community center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which has been pulled into several local and statewide political campaigns. Now the ATF and FBI are investigating a suspicious fire and vandalism that occurred at the construction site Saturday morning.

Steve Benen:

“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers told the local CBS affiliate. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”

Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the center’s planning committee and a professor of engineering technology at Middle Tennessee State University, noted that Murfreesboro’s Muslim Americans have been part of the community for 30 years, largely without incident. But the proposed center has apparently driven local bigots to violence.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker:

Last month, Tennessee Lieutenant Gov. Ron Ramsey, who was running for governor but lost in the primary, had this to say about Muslims in America, and specifically the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro:

Now, you know, I’m all about freedom of religion. I value the First Amendment as much as I value the Second Amendment as much as I value the Tenth Amendment and on and on and on,” he said. “But you cross the line when they try to start bringing Sharia Law here to the state of Tennessee — to the United States. We live under our Constitution and they live under our Constitution.”

That’s right. Tennessee doesn’t need to worry about a 9.8% jobless rate, the state needs to watch out for the Muslim takeover which is just around the corner. It’s no surprise when these things happen, especially when you have men like Ron Ramsey tapping into people’s fear of The Other. Good job, asshole.

Glenn Greenwald:

The arsonists undoubtedly will be happy to tell you how much they hate Terrorism.  And how there’s a War on Christianity underway in the U.S.  The harm from these actions are not merely the physical damage they cause, but also the well-grounded fear it imposes on a minority of the American population.  If you launch a nationwide, anti-Islamic campaign in Lower Manhattan based on the toxic premise that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11 — and spend a decade expanding American wars on one Muslim country after the next — this is the inevitable, and obviously dangerous, outcome.

John Cole:

We’re getting to the point that I just don’t want to even talk about politics any more. It is just too depressing, and even smart people I know are spouting nonsense. I had a discussion with someone I’ve known a long time about the Glenn Beck nonsense yesterday, and all that person could say was “If the Democrats want my vote, they need to distance themselves from Al Sharpton.” Because you know how much power Al Sharpton has in the Democratic party, as opposed to the lunatics in the driver’s seat of the GOP. I swear to God every white person over the age of fifty has just completely lost their shit.

I just changed the topic. FOX news and the race-baiters have us all by the balls.

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A Saber Rattle Called An Ambassador

Jeff Neumann at Gawker:

Ahmadinejad unveiled his new jet-powered giant dildo bomber one day after Iran began fueling its first nuclear power reactor. The Ambassador of Death has a range of 620 miles and can carry four cruise missiles to “keep the enemy paralyzed in its bases.” Ahmadinejad spoke about his new toy’s dual purpose: “The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship.” How cute!

Israel Matzav:

Hmmm. That ought to make ‘our friends the Saudis’ feel real secure.

Scott Lucas at Enduring America

Weasel Zippers:

Ahmahomo Introduces the “Ambassador of Death”…

Isn’t that the “prophet” Mohammed’s role?…

Keith Thomson at Huffington Post:

Depending on the mission, according to the Iranian Defense Ministry, the 13-foot-long, remotely-piloted aircraft can deliver either a pair of 250-pound bombs, a single 450-pound laser-guided bomb, or a quartet of cruise missiles. The UAV travels 560 miles per hour with 620-mile range. It should be noted that past Iranian defense claims have made fish stories seem reliable, and, among other red flags waving today, cruise missile capability would extend the Ambassador of Death’s range well past 620 miles. But taking the specs at face value, here’s how Ahmadinejad’s new saber measures up:

The poster child of UAVs, the 27-foot-long Predator has a cruise speed of 84 mph and a range of 454 miles. Originally developed for reconnaissance by the U.S. Department of Defense in the mid-1990s, Predators were fitted with a pair of Hellfire missiles after an American general remarked, “I can see the tank. Now I’d like to see it blown up.”

When that worked, the Department of Defense commenced development of the Reaper UAV. In operation since 2006, the 36-foot-long Reaper boasts a cruise speed of around 230 mph, a 3,682-mile range, and a relative arsenal including Hellfires, Sidewinder missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs–a potent enough package overall that the Air Force subsequently decided to train more pilots to fly aircraft from ground operations centers than from cockpits.

Two years later, Israel unveiled the Heron UAV, 43 feet long with a wingspan of 85 feet, or about that of a Boeing 737. Its range is 5,000 miles–or deep into Iran and back twice. The Karrar’s stated range would leave it nearly 500 miles shy of Israel. The Heron’s weapons payload, meanwhile, can be 4,000 pounds, or about eight times that of Iran’s new aircraft.

This April brought the introduction a jet-powered version of the Predator, the Avenger, with a top speed of close to 500 mph and, more importantly, a good deal of infrared and radar-proof stealth design–without stealth, the Ambassador of Death may find itself the jet-powered version of a sitting duck.

James Jewell, President of UAV MarketSpace and one of America’s top unmanned aerial systems experts, speculated that Iran’s new offering is “nothing special,” adding of today’s announcement, “I suspect it has an element of hyperbole since it comes so close to the nuclear reactor fueling announcement.”

Jewell also noted several other countries with UAV systems comparable or superior to Iran’s, notably France, Italy, and South Africa (for a fairly extensive international UAV roster, see Wikipedia’s unmanned aerial vehicle page).

The Ambassador of Death, however, has the scariest name.

Noah Shachtman at Wired:

According to the official word from Tehran, the 13-foot Karrar (’striker”) drone is capable of carrying four cruise missiles. That’s really unlikely. Even smaller-sized cruise missiles, like the Russian Kh-135s, weigh a more than a thousand pounds and are about nine feet long; it’s tough to imagine a relative pipsqueak like the Karrar lugging such a hefty package. [Update: As Pirouz notes in the comments, Iran calls its anti-ship missiles, like the Chinese C-701, “cruise missiles.” Those are compact enough for drone duty.] State television later claimed that the Karrar could carry a pair of 250-pound bombs or a single 500-pounder. That’s more believable (although the single bomb the drone is carrying in the video above looks more like a 250-pound model to me).

Iran has been making its own drones for a while; the U.S. even shot one down over Iraq last year. Since 2004, a small number of those unmanned aerial vehicles have made their way into Hezbollah’s hands. This, however, would be Iran’s first armed robo-plane. In so doing, state television crows, “Iran broke the military advantage of America” — and prepped the country for the looming days of all-robot warfare. That should arrive around 2020, the Iranian Defense Ministry guesstimates.

Tehran’s scientists went “500,000 hours without sleep and eating” while designing the drone, according the state TV report. That figure sounds about as authentic as Iran’s 2007 pronouncement that it had fired off a space-ready missile (which turned out to be nothing more than a modified Scud), or July 2008’s picture of a missile barrage (most of which were Photoshopped dummies).

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All The President’s Libraries

Adam Nagourney at NYT:

The sign at the entrance to the largest exhibition room devoted to a single subject at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum reads “Watergate.” But on Friday, the exhibit was nearly empty, dominated by a 30-foot blank slate of a wall that is testimony to a new battle set off by this still-polarizing former president: how to mark the scandal that forced him from office 36 years ago.

Officials at the National Archives have curated a searing recollection of the Watergate scandal, based on videotaped interviews with 150 associates of Richard M. Nixon, an interactive exhibition that was supposed to have opened on July 1. But the Nixon Foundation — a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled this museum until the National Archives took it over three years ago — described it as unfair and distorted, and requested that the archives not approve the exhibition until its objections are addressed.

The foundation went so far as to invoke Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, noting that those presidents surreptitiously taped White House conversations before Nixon stepped on the scene.

Bob Bostock, a former Nixon aide who designed the original Watergate exhibit and has been enlisted by the foundation to challenge the installation, filed a 132-page letter of objection to the archives last week, claiming that the exhibit lacked the context needed to help young visitors learning about Watergate to understand exactly what Nixon did.

“Taping and wiretapping go back as far as F.D.R.,” Mr. Bostock said. “It lacks the context it needs: that Nixon was not the first president to do some of these things and that some of these things had been going on with many of his predecessors, in some cases, much more than he did.”

The Nixon Foundation does not have veto power and by law serves in an advisory role. The final ruling will be made by officials of the National Archives within the next few weeks.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker:

Uh, sure! It’s pretty hard to argue with someone like that. The Times also interviewed the director of the museum, Timothy Naftali, who offered this:

Think about it,” he said. “I am not a Nixon loyalist. I am not even a Republican. I am gay. I am from Canada. I was 12 years old when Richard Nixon resigned. I have no skin in the game.”

Mr. Naftali spoke in his basement office, where – with no apparent appreciation of the irony – he flinched when a reporter took out a tape recorder for an interview, saying that he would not agree to taping of an interview in his office in the Nixon museum.

For years the National Archives has been trying to add the Nixon Library to the presidential library system. But the Nixon Foundation, apparently unwilling to accept facts, has held the process up with protests like this latest one involving the Watergate exhibit. Bostock adds:

Definitely the president did things that were wrong. He said so himself. The real question always comes to, ‘Did the actions that he took that were wrong, did they merit impeachment and removal from my office?’ My view is that they did not reach the level of offenses for which he could be impeached and convicted.”

Yeah, seriously. Watergate wasn’t that big of a deal. But getting blow jobs and ruining perfectly good cigars in the Oval Office, well…

Also, looking for a picturesque, meaningful setting for your wedding? Try the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California! They can offer you and your guests “an unparalleled experience.”

Matthew Yglesias:

I was invited to do a book talk at the Nixon Presidential Library a couple of years ago, and while out there I naturally saw the museum itself. It was at the time a fascinating project in a state of transition from being run by an organization of Nixon loyalists to one being run by real historians from the National Archives. Adam Nagourney has a really interesting piece in the NYT about the latest battles playing out as the new management unveils their version of the exhibit on Watergate.

Jonathan Bernstein:

In case you’re wondering whether Richard Nixon was a crook, imagine the following:

Suppose that Barack Obama was convinced that Marc Thiessen, John Bolton, and Paul Wolfowitz had removed important secret files from their various government offices when they left the Bush administration, files that revealed embarrassing, and perhaps illegal, actions by the administration.  Suppose further that Obama believed that Wolfowitz et al. had secured those files at AEI.

With me so far?  Now suppose that Obama repeatedly ordered Rahm Emanuel and other top White House officials to break into AEI in order to get those files back, either in order to leak them to embarrass the Republicans or, perhaps, to blackmail George W. Bush.  That is, suppose that Emanuel suggested to the president that perhaps they could blackmail Bush, and Obama responded by continuing to order the break-in.

That’s one of the things that happened in Watergate (substituting Nixon for Obama, Haldeman for Emanuel, and Brookings for AEI).  The orders, that is; as it turned out, the president’s men never quite did get around to breaking into Brookings, although they did hire and assign people to do it, and scheme and plot about it quite a bit.  The president’s men, sometimes at Nixon’s instructions, sometimes with his knowledge, and sometimes perhaps without his direct instructions or knowledge but always in keeping with his general orders to his stop staff, also planted spies in the camp of Democratic campaigns; broke into Democratic headquarters, photographed documents, and planted bugs; broke into the the office of a Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in order to learn things that could be used to destroy his image in the press; attempted to plant left-wing materials in the home of the guy who shot George Wallace; planned to (and perhaps did) selectively leak classified materials about foreign policy in order to hurt the Democrats; forged materials about foreign policy (the death of South Vietnam’s President Diem) in order to plant false stories in the press that would hurt the Democrats; wiretapped government officials; paid a private investigator to tail Ted Kennedy; performed other dirty tricks such as forged letters intended to manipulate the Democratic presidential nomination process (efforts that may indeed have been successful); and other illegal, abuse and unethical actions — this is not a comprehensive list.

Those were the original crimes.  What followed was obstruction of justice as the White House, with the active leadership of the president, lied to FBI investigators and grand juries, destroyed evidence, suborned perjury by prearranging false testimony; suborned perjury by paying off witnesses and either promising or at least hinting at the promise of presidential pardons in exchange for false testimony, and using the authority of the presidency to derail and undermine FBI investigators and prosecutors.  Again, the president was personally actively involved in all of those things.

(And that’s not counting other important abuses of power such as waging war without the authorization of Congress and illegally disrupting the legal disbursement of government funds, and also not counting the president’s purely personal possible crimes involving his taxes).

Oh, and for what it’s worth…Nagourney writes that Nixon resigned “in the face of likely impeachment.”  That’s too weak.  It was certain impeachment, and virtually certain conviction.  The House Judiciary Committee had voted in favor of impeachment while Nixon was still fighting against turning over several (additional) tapes of White House conversations; when those tapes were released, each of the Republicans on the Committee declared that he would now flip and support impeachment on the House floor.  As far as the trial, Nixon’s congressional liaison estimated that only seven Senators still supported the president.  I can’t imagine any combination of circumstances that would have prevented impeachment, and while there’s always uncertainty in human affairs, it’s very difficult to imagine how Nixon could have escaped conviction.  It’s worth mentioning too that all of that was the case even though plenty of incriminating evidence was still unknown to Congress at the time.

Richard Nixon announced his resignation on August 8, 1974, so it’s been 36 years.  The paper of record should do a better job of getting these things right.

Mark Kleiman:

If you’re a scientist offended by the right-wing war on science, please don’t take it personally. The wingnuts hate history, too.

Every form of reasoned discourse has the same liberal bias. The whole notion that there is a world of facts subject to investigation, rather than merely competing assertions, is deeply offensive to the unreality-based community.

Are there illiberal, anti-rational forces on the left? Of course there are. But they’re aberrational. Even the mainstream right now seems to have adopted Nineteen Eighty-Four as an operations manual, rather than a warning.

Anne Laurie:

The anti-Fidelistas in Little Havana, the Japanese soldiers who hid out in the New Guinea brush for forty years after their emperor surrendered, are mere hobbyists compared to the ferocious defenders of all things GOP. Although one can’t blame the surviving CREEPsters—monsters such as Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz—for strenuously resisting any exposure of the true “Nixon legacy”. A hundred years from now, I believe the decision to allow Nixon to escape a full accounting will be considered possibly the greatest political tragedy of its era.

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An Oily Smorgasbord Of BP-Related Blog Posts

Michael Whitney at Firedoglake:

Early on the Fourth of July, the US government announced it was taking over the main website of the BP oil disaster response, deepwaterhorizonresponse.com. From early on in the disaster, that site has served as a joint venture of BP and various government agencies to post press releases, media advisories, photos, video, and other PR materials about the oil, including a mailing list for media and other interested parties.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security wants to make a “one-stop shop” for the disaster response under a .gov URL. That means shutting down the current site, and taking another look at who has access to post on the site, with government deciding control of the content and message.

So why did DHS allow BP to walk off with the mailing list of everyone who signed up for information about the disaster?

I’ve received emails from the site every day since it went live 10 days after the disaster. Every email has come from some variation of “Joint Information,”  or “Deepwater Horizon Response.” Yet today, less than 24 hours after DHS announced it planned to take over the response website, I get my very first email from “BP America Press Relations,” titled “BP update on Gulf of Mexico spill.” The email from BP was sent to the same address with which I signed up on the original response website.

It seems quite clear that either BP made a copy of the mailing database before it loses access to the site, or the government will continue to give them access to the database. It’s also clear that no matter what, this is in clear violation of the privacy policy of the website, of the US Coast Guard, and of the government itself.

Juliet Eilperin at WaPo:

In recent weeks, the Obama administration has sought to distance itself from BP in handling the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — with one notable exception: When it comes to assessing how badly the spill has harmed the gulf, the two sides are working hand in hand.

Their shared goal? To calculate the incalculable: how much it will cost to restore the gulf to its pre-spill state.

But this close collaboration between federal and state authorities and BP — which is routine procedure under a legal process known as the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) — has begun to spark concerns among lawmakers and some environmentalists.

“I want this to be independent, for the credibility of the information,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who as chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife will hold hearings this month on the issue.

The collaborative approach, established under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, marks a sharp departure from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, where the federal government kept the oil company at arm’s length. Exxon hired its own boats and experts, who followed state and federal officials at a distance, replicating the tests they believed were being done so they could provide a rival analysis

Ed Crooks and Lina Saigol at Financial Times:

Although BP generates a huge amount of cash with oil prices at their present levels, the market is still concerned about its financial strength in the face of rising liabilities.

So it is only natural that BP is looking at a range of options for improving its liquidity.

Its problem is that very few sources of finance are open to it at the moment. Since the failure of its attempt to use a “top kill” – pumping drilling fluid down the well so it can be cemented over – at the end of May, the markets have become alarmed about BP’s financial position.

The shares have hit 14-year lows, its bonds have also fallen sharply, and the price of its credit default swaps – the cost of insuring the company’s debt against default – have soared. Its debt has been downgraded by all the major rating agencies, pushing up the cost of its borrowing.

The UK oil producer is not in a position to make a significant difference to its financial position until its second-quarter results on July 27 at the earliest, when it will give some idea of the total bill it is facing. More crucial to investor confidence is the success of BP’s latest plan to stop the leak – a relief well, which is scheduled for completion in August.

In the near-term, the company is not facing a liquidity crisis. The agreement it reached with the White House in mid-June, which gave it three-and-a-half years to pay into a $20bn (£13.2bn) fund to compensate victims of the spill, has bought BP precious time.

By suspending the dividend for the rest of the year and cutting capital spending, it is freeing about $10bn of cash, and plans another $10bn of disposals during the next 12 months.

However, a rapid escalation of liabilities, or a squeeze on cash flows caused by a fall in the oil price, could still force it to raise new funds.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker:

According to a report in today’s Washington Post, in the current fiscal year, BP has fuel contracts with the US military worth at least $980 million. And the Environmental Protection Agency, before the oil spill, had looked into barring BP from all federal contracts due to its 2006 Alaskan oil spill and the deadly 2005 explosion at one of its refineries in Texas. If successful, the EPA would have cut BP off from signing contracts with the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), which handles military fuel purchases. From The Washington Post:

Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who until recently oversaw the review of BP’s possible debarment, has said she initially supported taking such action but held off after an official at the Defense Department warned her that the Pentagon depended heavily on BP fuel for its operations in the Middle East. “My contact at DESC, another attorney, told me that BP was supplying approximately 80 percent of the fuel being used to move U.S. forces” in the region, Pascal said. She added that “BP was very fortunate in that there is an exception when the U.S. is involved in a military action or a war.”

A Defense Department spokeswoman, Wendy L. Snyder, disputed Pacal’s claims, saying the DESC “informed the EPA that there are adequate procedures and processes to protect the U.S. military missions should EPA determine that BP should be debarred.” The Post talked to BP spokesman Robert Wine, who said he knew of at least one “big contract” agreed to between BP and the Pentagon after the Gulf oil spill, and:

He did not challenge Pascal’s claim that BP’s health, safety and environmental unit had been moved lower on the corporate structure before the gulf spill, reporting to the head of a business unit instead of directly to the top executive. But, Wine said, “what difference does that make?”

“Safety comes through the organization through every root,” he said, and remains “paramount in every part of the business.”

Yeah, why should safety and people’s lives be put in the hands of the person who actually runs the company, when you can pawn that stuff off to some desk jockey? But at least we know the government is living up to all of the big talk, right? We’ll see. On June 2, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “If we find evidence of illegal behavior [by BP], we will be forceful in our response.”

Glenn Greenwald:

Last week, I interviewed Mother Jones‘ Mac McClelland, who has been covering the BP oil spill in the Gulf since the first day it happened.  She detailed how local police and federal officials work with BP to harass, impede, interrogate and even detain journalists who are covering the impact of the spill and the clean-up efforts.  She documented one incident which was particularly chilling of an activist who — after being told by a local police officer to stop filming a BP facility because “BP didn’t want him filming” — was then pulled over after he left by that officer so he could be interrogated by a BP security official.  McClelland also described how BP has virtually bought entire Police Departments which now do its bidding:  “One parish has 57 extra shifts per week that they are devoting entirely to, basically, BP security detail, and BP is paying the sheriff’s office.”

Today, an article that is a joint collaboration between PBS’ Frontline and ProPublica reported that a BP refinery in Texas “spewed tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the skies” two weeks before the company’s rig in the Gulf collapsed.   Accompanying that article was this sidebar report:

A photographer taking pictures for these articles, was detained Friday while shooting pictures in Texas City, Texas.

The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said that shortly after arriving in town, he was confronted by a BP security officer, local police and a man who identified himself as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security. He was released after the police reviewed the pictures he had taken on Friday and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.

The police officer then turned that information over to the BP security guard under what he said was standard procedure, according to Rosenfield.

No charges were filed.

Rosenfield, an experienced freelance photographer, said he was detained shortly after shooting a photograph of a Texas City sign on a public roadway. Rosenfield said he was followed by a BP employee in a truck after taking the picture and blocked by two police cars when he pulled into a gas station.

According to Rosenfield, the officers said they had a right to look at photos taken near secured areas of the refinery, even if they were shot from public property. Rosenfield said he was told he would be “taken in” if he declined to comply.

ProPublica’s Paul Steiger said that the reporting team told law enforcement agents that they were working on a deadline for this story about that facility, and that even if DHS agents believed they had a legitimate reason to scrutinize the actions and photographs of this photographer, there was no reason that “should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company.”

These are true police state tactics, and it’s now clear that it is part of a pattern.  It’s been documented for months now that BP and government officials have been acting in unison to block media coverage of the area

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The Getting Back Of One’s Life Is Best Done On A Boat Named Bob

Joshua Green:

In a classic Friday afternoon news dump, BP has apparently demoted the bumbling Tony Hayward. According to the New York Times:

A day after he came under relentless attack at a Congressional hearing, BP chief executive Tony Hayward was displaced as the man in charge of the company’s response to the spill.

This move might have made sense a month ago, when it first became clear that Hayward had been born, tragically, without a smidgen of self-awareness. But after yesterday’s performance before Congress, I’m not so sure this is justified or wise for BP: whatever Jedi mind trick Hayward employed to compel Joe Barton’s apology seems like a most useful asset. Most of the reaction today wasn’t about “evil BP” but about what a blinkered moron Barton was for apologizing. If I were running BP, I wouldn’t be so quick to give that up.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

After his grueling testimony before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward is being moved out of the limelight. Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman of the company, has announced that Hayward will no longer be overseeing day-to-day clean-up operations in the Gulf. He will return to England while BP’s managing director, Robert Dudley, takes over the company’s spill response effort.

Dudley’s appointment is a clear attempt on BP’s part to re-brand its reaction to the spill. He grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and often spent summers on the Gulf Coast. He has expressed horror at the damage the spill has levied on the region and lends a more sympathetic, in-touch, and, significantly, American presence to BP’s leadership team.

Hayward, on the other hand, has been pegged as an arrogant, unfeeling Brit. The American media slammed his cold, complacent demeanor at yesterday’s hearing, but the U.K. papers took a different stance. The Daily Mail ran a story titled, “Sliced and Diced on Capitol Hill: BP Boss Treated Like Public Enemy No. 1 by American Politicians,” while the Daily Express compared the hearing to a “public execution.” Hayward has not done much to endear himself to the reeling residents of the Gulf Coast, notoriously saying that he wants to get the spill under control because he’d “like [his] life back.”

Brian Merchant at Treehugger:

Of course, Hayward’s dismissal from US public operations, means little to the elements of the spill that truly matter — like stopping it, for starters. Whether or not Hayward is around to make an ass of himself and his company probably has little bearing on how the cleanup effort is orchestrated (though if his public remarks have been any indicator, his common sense may be, well, lacking …).

Regardless, the well keeps on gushing oil, crude continues to make landfall, and life around the Gulf continues to be threatened. So let’s all bid our pal Tony adieu — I mean, the poor guy is finally getting his life back.

Danny Groner at Huffington Post:

With word that Hayward is out as a spokesperson, bloggers delivered the expected and necessary snark upon word of his dismissal. They did their jobs in eerily similar ways, taking Hayward’s words and using them against him. Here, a collection of some of the headlined punch lines being hurled at the executive:

“Tony Hayward, BP CEO, gets his life back, no longer in charge of running Gulf cleanup operations”- New York Daily News

“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-Time

“Rejoice: BP’s Tony Hayward Will Get His Life Back”-Gawker

“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-DealBreaker

“BP’s Hayward ‘Gets Life Back’ in Demotion”-NewsMax

“BP CEO Tony Hayward Relieved Of Day-To-Day Gulf Duties, Gets Life Back”-Mediaite

“BP CEO Tony Hayward Does Not Want His Life Back Anymore”-New York magazine

Here’s hoping Carl-Henric Svanberg steps down and in turn gets repeatedly labeled a “small person” for it.

Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice:

For Tony Hayward, after dealing with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history every day for 60 days, it’s vacation time. He’s currently attending a yacht race around England’s Isle of Wight, where his 52-foot boat named “Bob” is participating. “He’s spending a few hours with his family at a weekend. I’m sure that everyone would understand that,” said a BP spokesperson, insisting it was Hayward’s first break since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20. Sixty days and nights! As for the race, Hayward is “well known to have a keen interest in it.” Straws, camels, backs, etc. Tony, get used to vacation. Though it seemed like Hayward’s time running (ruining?) operations in the Gulf of Mexico was over, today it’s merely a brief reprieve, according to the New York Times:

BP officials scrambled on Saturday to say that Tony Hayward, their embattled chief executive, was still in charge of all BP operations in spite of comments from the company’s chairman the day before indicating that Mr. Hayward was relinquishing his duties in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Shit Sandwich, called it “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.” At this point, the only question remaining is how many hours until the official Hayward-getting-yanked announcement comes through. Or if someone’s going sink his boat. “To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Emanuel continued.

If Hayward is around when I am next Saturday, I’ll eat my shoe and put it on YouTube.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker

Hugh Collins at Politics Daily:

The race’s website describes it as a “great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first time racers.” Every boat receives a memento to mark the race and there are over 60 prizes up for grabs, according to the website.

Hayward’s boat finished fourth in its class, Fox News reported.

“This will be seen as yet another public relations disaster for him from people who have got exceedingly upset about this whole thing,” Hugh Walding of the environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, said, according to The Daily Mail. “He should at least be managing the image of the company better.”

Yesterday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that Hayward would be taking a back seat in the Gulf clean-up operation. Svanberg acknowledged that some of Hayward’s comments in the aftermath of the disaster had harmed the company.

“It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people,” Svanberg told Sky News.

Hayward’s blunders include downplaying the size of the spill by saying, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean” and commenting that growing health problems among clean-up workers may be related to food poisoning, rather than their exposure to crude oil and dispersants.

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