Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shell Alaska Refuses to Rule Out Moving the Kulluk to Asia on Floating Drydock

My picture of the Kulluk in Vigor's Seattle drydock,
behind the SBX platform - August 3, 2011
Dan Joling of the Associated Press, in response to today's posting of the Unified Command's Update #44, which really didn't say much, posed questions to Shell's Kevin Hardy, based on my information earlier in the week from anonymous informants:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The united command overseeing the salvage of the Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill barge says the vessel's damage poses no threat to its stability while it's anchored off an Alaska island.  
But spokesman Kevin Hardy said Wednesday he could not answer whether hull damage will make the Kulluk unsuitable for towing, whether it could be moved by heavy lift ship rather than by towing, or whether it will be moved for repairs to an Asia shipyard rather than a Pacific Northwest shipyard. 
"The evaluation continues," Hardy said in regard to hull damage. "When there's something to report, I presume, that will be reported as appropriate." He referred other questions to Shell. Spokesman Curtis Smith said he did not have new information to pass on. Details of future actions will depend on the outcome of ongoing assessments and permissions.
"I'm not going to speculate on potential next steps," he said.
Alaska blogger Steve Aufrecht wrote a blog entry based on ideas he had to consider, based on my same post Joling got his information from.  As some longtime readers here may know, Steve was one of the people who inspired me to begin my own blog.  I sometimes refer to him as my ethicist.

Steve looked at my earlier post in regard to whether or not its use of anonymous informants went out of bounds of what he described as journalism.  He begins with this:
Bloggers are still writing their own rules about how to go about reporting the news. Traditional journalists used to have strict rules about confirming what they write. There seems to be a spiraling down of such standards these days though. 
This all comes up because a fellow Alaska blogger posted Monday that Shell's oil rig Kulluk is significantly damaged and may be sent to Asia for repairs. This would be a pretty big story if it turns out to be true. There's been no hint of something like this from the Unified Command, which has been silent for over a week now. I don't have enough knowledge about oil rigs and shipping to read between the lines of their reports that say "the Kulluk is stable and no oil was released." Nor do I know how significant seawater leakage is. But the Unified Command's minimalist updates have raised the question: 
What are they hiding? 
So, what should bloggers do when people on the scene give them information that isn't available through the formal channels but hard to verify further? And what should other bloggers do when they see such stories?
Steve's entire post is well worth reading.  Later, he responded to the Unified Command release #44, asking if it had "debunked" my post.  He didn't think it had.  He's beginning to distrust Shell's narrative as a responsible Alaskan corporate citizen:
Am I being unduly harsh on Shell here? Look, I'm one little blogger asking questions of one of the largest multi-national corporations in the world. And Shell isn't being responsive at all, using the Unified Command and the Coast Guard to refuse to answer very reasonable questions about their operations in Alaska. I know that they did horrendous things in Nigeria in the 1990's. There's enough evidence that they've gotten some standing - however temporary - in a US Court. I don't know what they've learned from that situation. But my suspicion is that they will do whatever they can get away with - less where laws and the justice system are stricter, more where they are not. And even where they are good, Shell's enormous wealth can buy them the best lawyers available. So, no, I don't think I'm being harsh.
Another question we should be asking is "Why is the Noble Discoverer still berthed in Seward?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Obama Administration Quietly Reopens Case That Could Criminalize Peer Review Process

Dr. Charles Monnett, in the process of getting peer feedback on his observations that some Polar bears appeared to be dying in the Arctic Ocean, due to stress from long swims between dwindling ice packs, sent emails to scientific colleagues.  He was going through the peer review process, in order to publicize findings in a paper. That was in 2004, through 2006.  The paper was published in 2006.  Information from Monnett's research found its way into Al Gore's Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

On July 18, 2011, Dr. Monnett was placed on administrative leave from his post at the BOEMRE.  On August 25, 2012, he was returned to work, but with considerably reduced responsibility.  Closely watched.

Today, his legal representatives, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, revealed that the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior quietly reopened their case against Monnett sometime between his reinstatement and December of 2012:
In late December, the IG first revealed that its nearly three-year fruitless pursuit of Dr. Charles Monnett, a senior scientist with the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM), had been reopened although its final report was issued last September. The IG has not stated the reasons for the unusual action of reopening a closed case, except to say that it is awaiting BOEM’s response to unspecified new recommendations. 
The new open status is slowing the ability of PEER to obtain documents relating to the controversial IG probe under the Freedom of Information Act. Under an appeal, however, PEER managed to obtain the basis for the IG seeking criminal referrals against Dr. Monnett after the IG initially refused to disclose the information. The four separate charges resemble the legal version of “everything but the kitchen sink” – 
One rejected charge was false official statements in connection with the peer review process for the publication of a 2006 observational note by the journal Polar Ecology; 
Another un-pursued charge was criminal conflict of interest in connection with the award of a joint research contract with the University of Alberta on polar bear transnational migrations; 
and Twice, once at the beginning of the investigation and a second time at the end, the IG sought to have Dr. Monnett prosecuted for supposedly unauthorized emails he sent to other researchers in 2007-8. The second time, the IG maintained the emails amounted to theft of government property.
The 2007-2008 email distribution led to protests from Alaska Native and environmental organizations that Shell Oil was not being transparent in their statements and documents pertaining to proposed drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.  One of the scientists Monnett had sent some of the emails to was University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner, who was already in Shell's crosshairs for attending a conference organized by Bristol Bay area organizations, critical of Shell's plans to drill in the world's richest salmon return habitat.  Shell has since withdrawn the Bristol Bay plan.  Steiner was later hounded from his U of A job.

PEER executive director, Jeff Ruch, is concerned that the "theft of government property" charge may pertain, in the reopened investigation, to not only the 2007-2008 emails, that helped shut down Shell operations for almost four years, but to the 2005-2006 emails, which sought peer feedback for a scholarly paper:
This new information underlines how irresponsible and misguided the Inspector General has been in its attempt to ‘get’ a target while trampling over obvious truths.  Especially dangerous is this clumsy attempt to criminalize the academic peer review process. [emphasis added]
Firedoglake's coverage of the witch hunt against Shell opponent Dr. Charles Monnett.

Firedoglake's coverage of the hounding of Shell opponent Prof. Rick Steiner

Monday, January 28, 2013

Shell Drill Rig Kulluk Heavily Damaged – To Be Put on Oceangoing Drydock and Moved to Asia

I have now received word from two anonymous sources on Kodiak Island that it appears damage assessment of the Shell Oil drill rig Kulluk is far worse than has been thus far disclosed by the Unified Command:

Severe hull damage, making it unsafe to tow it to Puget Sound

Severe power plant damage from saltwater contamination

Severe damage to wiring, ventilation and other internal control systems

Supposedly, a very large, oceangoing dry dock will be underway soon to Kodiak from Asia, and the rig will then be brought to Asia, most likely Korea, where it has been worked on before. At present, the rig is being attended in Kiliuda Bay, an the southern shore of Kodiak Island by the tugs Pt. Oliktok, Warrrior, Lauren Foss, Ocean Wave and Corbin Foss.  Also on the scene is the anchor-handling vessel Aiviq, oil service vessel Nanuq, and the recently arrived oil service vessel, Sisuaq.  Several other smaller vessels are also present.  The Kulluk is presently at anchor in the bay:

I called the 17th U.S. Coast Guard District headquarters this morning for possible confirmation.  I was told they have no public information, and referred to Shell Alaska's press representative, Jennifer Taylor.  She did not answer my call, and there was no message service.  The Unified Command HQ has ceased to list a contact phone.  I contacted Shell's U.S. media relations for the Kulluk incident, and was able to leave a message.  I also left a message with the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Oil Spill Prevention and Response.

The latest information published by the Unified Command on the vessel's condition was posted back on January 18th, nine days ago.  In the UC release, it was stated in part:
•  Multiple entities are involved in the review of data, including: the U.S. Coast Guard, Shell, Smit Salvage and Det Norske Veritas. These reports involve precise calculations; it is important to ensure the accuracy of any reports in order to develop the next steps for the Kulluk. At this time there is no firm date for completion of the damage assessment report. 
•  Once the damage report is completed, the Kulluk and any plans to move the vessel will be evaluated before it is moved to its next location. 
•  Water did enter some spaces of the vessel through damaged hatches. However, the water has been captured and is being safely stored in a compartment. 
•  The damage discovered on the Kulluk is consistent with what is expected from a vessel of this type being on hard ground. The fuel tanks are intact. 
•  Points of entry for water into the Kulluk are being sealed (i.e., windows and hatches). Additionally, tow brackets are being added for preparation for the next move.
Alaska blogger, Steve Aufrecht was just one of many who has been frustrated by the extended news blackout at Unified Command.  He has written several posts on the incident and is increasingly frustrated by his inability to find out anything of substance:
But they aren't just mum about damage extent.  They are mum about everything.  At least at the news briefings there was a chance to ask questions to real people.  But the last one, to my knowledge, was January 5.
Aufrecht is a retired Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the fact that he is this upset is significant.

Alaska's leading maritime oil spill expert, retired University of Alaska Professor, Richard Steiner feels that if my Kodiak information on Shell's Asia renovation and repair plans turns out to be accurate, Shell's 2013 Alaska drilling season, perhaps even 2014's, are non-starters.

Thursday, I discovered that Sen. Mark Begich's proposed hearing (he's chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard) on the Kulluk and Shell's readiness to drill off our shores will be held sometime in March.  I asked his office the following questions:
1. When will the hearing or hearings take place? 
2. Where will they be? 
3. Will witnesses be sworn in? 
4. Do you plan on subpoenaing any documents, such as the Aiviq log book, correspondence and phone records between Shell and the Aiviq crew prior to departure from Dutch Harbor, or other important records? 
5. Will the entire subcommittee participate?
Friday,  in Washington DC, a small number of pro-environment organizations held a congressional briefing on Shell's 2012 string of screwups and near-disasters:
Environmentalists from Alaska are hoping to persuade Congressional staffers Shell Oil should not continue its drilling operation in the Arctic this summer. 
The groups held a Congressional briefing on Friday. 
Congressional briefings are free of the formalities and TV cameras of Congressional hearings. And they lack the members of Congress themselves. 
And many in this town think that’s a good thing, because it’s the staffers who attend the briefings. And it’s the staffers who have the policy expertise. The briefing was organized by the office of California Democrat Barbara Boxer – she chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
I suppose one aspect of Shell's attempting to hide this as long as they can may be the impact such adverse news will have on the value of their stock share price.

I've seen a lot of poorly managed operations in Alaska over the years, but this clusterfuck (a term first used by my informant at the Arctic Challenger containment dome testing fiasco, several clusterfucks ago) clearly sets a new standard of haplessness, negligence, lies and coverups.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Was Palin's Latest Quit Enough Reason to Write Another Chapter of "Saradise Lost"? - After Watching Broomfield's "You Betcha!" - Nah

The announcements at the end of last week, broken first at Malia Litman's blog, that Sarah Palin would not be renewing her contract with FOX News, didn't surprise many.  It certainly didn't surprise me.

It did drive Palin back into the news for a few brief hours, though.  She even made it to the top of Twitter for about six hours.  It may be the last time she's able to do that.

Her supporters don't view it that way.  I commented at TBogg's obligatory post on her latest quit, in response to monoceros4:
monoceros4: She’s gonna run for office again, I predict, with no real intention of winning. It’ll just be about making a lot of noise and (more importantly) collecting all that sweet sweet campaign money. 
Edward Teller: Her followers are chipping in already: 
We should all go to Sarahpac and donate today, in a show of thanks and solidarity!! I’m going right now. 
I soooo wish I had some extra money right now!!! 
Me too! I know, the economy is not the greatest, Obama is blasting us every day, it is after the holidays, etc. Hopefully a lot of people will at least be able to scrounge up a few dollars to make a statement in quality if not in quantity!!
I all but stopped writing about Sarah Palin after October 5, 2011, when Palin announced she would not be a GOP primary candidate for the 2012 presidential race.  I've got enough to do already, with 2.5 jobs, and with my wife handling more work than that, and sometimes needing my support.

And there's another thing.  Even thinking about what Palin brought me, a lot of my friends, Wasilla - where I live, Alaska, and people outside Alaska through, gives me the creeps.

Even though I no longer feel compelled (until now) to write about Palin, a lot of others do.  Basically, they fall into four camps:
1).  Her avid devotees: The Zombies.
2).  The Palin haters, most of whom still standing represent die-hard Trig Truthers.
3).  Unfortunate reporters, assigned the Palin beat at their media outlet.
4).  Gossip columnists who still get an uptick in hits when her name is in a headline.
Back to Palin giving me the creeps.

When she first made national news in late August 2008, I was torn between getting the truth out and an inner fear that someone might harm me, my family or one of our pets.  Some of the news reports, blog articles and books about Wasilla and Palin that have come out in the succeeding 4.5 years have thoroughly documented that my concern was warranted.

But I got sucked into the phenomenon of close Palin coverage.  And I did my job, which was to just plain get the fucking truth out about an incredibly poor VP choice, from a local perspective.  After Palin and McCain went down, the important part of the job was truly over, but Palin was such a changed governor, that the ride went on.

When she quit as governor, I was ready to quit the Palin beat too.  Unfortunately, she was already riding the rise of the Tea Party and her resonance with the rural, less educated part of the GOP base.

Then, when she made her "blood libel" remarks after the Tucson shootings, most knew she was finished as a national figure.  However, she was making a lot of money through SarahPAC, and - let's face it - she was no more of a clown than any of the other GOP primary candidates in early 2011.

Palin did strike out at some of the local Alaska bloggers who wrote critical articles, and who were interviewed for national media stories:

The first was Linda Kellen Biegel, who had filed an ethics complaint about Palin wearing snowmobile company-provided clothing with their logos, while officiating at an opening ceremony in which her husband participated.

Then she attacked radio commentator and blogger Shannyn Moore, for merely reporting there was speculation Palin was resigning as governor because of a criminal investigation.  I had reported the same thing, but Moore was more of a threat, so she was threatened with litigation. 

Far worse, Palin's supporters sought to utterly destroy Anchorage blogger, Jesse Griffin, for his persistent articles questioning the Trig Palin birth narrative.

When I posted a poll at my blog, asking whether the term "saint" or "slut" (the former term got 15%, the latter got 85%) was more applicable to Palin, a Palin Zombie blog recommended following me, posting my address, calling my employer to complain (all of which had happened to Griffin).

Three weeks later, my Outback's engine seized up, having been drained of the oil I had checked and topped off 280 miles earlier.  It took me a while to figure out how it had been done.  Had to get a new engine.

I now lock my cars.  And we constantly check our oil.

As irrelevant as Palin should always have been outside Alaska, there must be some lessons to be learned here.  The summations in Geoffrey Dunn's The Lies of Sarah Palin, Joe McGinniss' The Rogue and other critical works on Palin's rise and stumbling only go so far, as she was still a "player."

Dunn's book was dignified.  McGinniss' was hilarious.

Nick Broomfield's film on Palin, for British media, You Betcha!  may be the last major attempt to portray Palin's Wasilla background that gets major play.  It has been available for months, and segments on youtube for weeks.  I'd been avoiding it, as I knew it would be creepy, and suspected I'd be in it.  I am (beginning at 31:36).  I truly did not want to immerse myself back into this for 90 minutes, but given the coverage of Palin's fallout with FOX, and its significance, I had to watch it.

It is creepier than I imagined it would be.  It should be.  The cheap, Twin Peaks music is actually appropriate.  Watching it, and hearing people I've known for years express their fear of Palin's hold over her advocates didn't just give me the willies.

About 15 minutes into the film, I went out into the two feet of snow behind my boat. 

I puked.

And puked.

Again and again.

Until all the bile having had to think about her for the past three days had brought was purged. 

Thank God it is far from my garden, far from my well.

I covered it up, so my dog won't find it before the ravens do.

You Betcha! - by Nick Broomfield:

The Uninvited Ones - Obama: Words and Deeds

---- by RALPH NADER 

A friend asked me what I was thinking while listening to President Obama’s inaugural address. 

Here were my reactions: 

Obama: “They [the Patriots of 1776] gave to us a republic, a government of and by and for the people.”

The flood of money-shaping elections and politics has given us a corporate government of the Exxons, by the General Motors, for the DuPonts. 

Obama: “Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”

In his first term Obama was indifferent to the more than 300,000 preventable fatalities a year in this country from hospital infections and malpractice, adverse drug effects, and occupational disease/trauma, in addition to coming perils of viral epidemics from abroad. 

Obama: “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”

He reneged and kept silent on his repeated 2008 campaign promise to push for a $9.50 minimum wage by 2011 and for a card-check system to facilitate the growth of unions. In his first term he discouraged Democrats from championing these measures in Congress even though thirty million workers are making wages less than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation (see He also opposed a Wall Street financial transaction tax and declined to reduce gigantic corporate welfare programs (that conservatives call “crony capitalism”) that beg for repeal. 

Obama: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

Obama and the emissaries he sends to international climate change conferences have brought up the rear among nations, infuriating our allies who looked to the U.S.A. for leadership. He never pressed for a carbon tax that even Exxon and leading conservatives, such as Gregory Mankiw, support (Mankiw was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush). I also believe that Obama will approve the Keystone XL Pipeline that will carry 900,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil through the U.S. every day. A decision that Jim Hansen of NASA said would be catastrophic. 

Obama: “[E]nduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war….We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and the rule of law.”


This coming from the ex-Constitutional law teacher who has turned his imperial presidency into an institutionalized violator of the Constitution, federal statutes and international treaties. He has personally ordered many unlawful military incursions and slayings in countries that are not at war with the U.S. against people who do not constitute “imminent threats.” (See the new documentary Dirty Wars.) 

The week of his inauguration President Obama sent drones to destroy “suspects” and whoever may be with or near them, including children, without the rule of law being observed. He is the law – the secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner for such attacks that have taken many civilian lives and produced increased hatred toward the U.S. from Pakistan to Yemen. The alleged “secret law” in Justice Department memos that he relies on is designed to strip the Congress and the courts of their Constitutional roles, as well as to keep the American people in the dark about drone attack decisions he makes on what his aides called “Terror Tuesdays.” 

Obama: “We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East….”

What about attending to our deteriorating democratic protections and civil liberties in our country? Washington, D.C. is corporate occupied territory in all three branches of government. Never in the past half century have the people and concern for their necessities been more shut out of their government. It continues to be “pay to play” time in the nation’s capital. 

Obama: “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time…”

Well, then how about working to shift more power away from the few and toward the many? How about campaign finance reform and federal ballot access reform so voters can have more choices from third parties whose candidates, by the way, he should have been gracious enough to invite to his January 21, 2013 gala. 

Granted, inaugural addresses are meant to be general and inspirational, not programmatic and revelatory. In a few days, Mr. Obama will have a chance to present his program in his more lengthy State of the Union address before the Congress. But inaugurations set tones as did the dominant militaristic displays and the managed adulation of the “imperial presidency.” 

Tom Sherwood, a local commentator, watching the Inaugural parades up Pennsylvania Avenue from the sixth-floor balcony of the Newseum decried “the extraordinary expense – financial and psychological – of turning America’s Main Street into an armed camp where democracy is suspended for several days…. Protest groups are ‘assigned’ demonstration areas, and required to pay fees and adhere to strict assembly instructions…. This being the week of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it makes you wonder what success would have been achieved if civil rights workers had acceded to police demands not to march here or there, or to pay to get detailed permits first.” 

Sherwood adds: “but why not a parade that showcases the social services, arts and industries, and sciences along with our military services.” He then gives examples for his refreshing proposal. (You can follow him on Twitter @tomsherwood.) 

Writing in The New York Times, David Brooks had qualms in an otherwise laudatory column on Obama’s speech, concluding that “we have no party that is comfortable with civil society, no party that understands the ways government and the market can both crush and nurture community, no party with new ideas about how these things might blend together.” 

Good point, Mr. Brooks, but not true for some third parties and their candidates who were the Obama parade’s uninvited ones.

Mark Begich Asks for Help - Sign the NO FRANKENFISH! Petition

Those of us who have watched the degradation and evisceration of the wild salmon runs of the British Columbia coastal waters over the past decades, and the relationship that catastrophe has had to unsound fishery and fish farm practices by the provincial and Canadian national governments understand how vulnerable salmon are.  Alaska has maintained the most sound salmon fishery practices in the world since statehood.  There are faults, for sure, but with the exception of the effects of climate change and major questions about trawler bycatch, we're doing OK.

That could change markedly with the introduction of genetically modified salmon.  Although Obama's Food and Drug Administration is claiming the frankenfish will be raised in Panama, that claim is a lie:
Mr. Entis, who no longer works for [Aquabounty], has formed a new company to rear the salmon in the United States.
Alaska's congressional delegation is united in attempting to thwart the first genetically modified animal from being grown in the United States, and in questioning the methods involved in the Obama administration's handling of the potential introduction of this new creature into the wild.

Sen. Mark Begich sent out an appeal to supporters and contributors today, asking for help:
I'm sure you've heard of Frankenstein, but have you heard of Frankenfish? Unlike the fictional monster, Frankenfish are very real. And they may pose a very real threat to fisheries up and down the Pacific coast.  
Right now, the FDA has an open public comment period regarding approval of these genetically altered salmon -- and I need you to show them how you feel.  
Tell the FDA: No Frankenfish! Click here to add your name to my open letter. 
Genetically modifying salmon with some kind of super-growth formula sounds like a plot line to a bad horror flick.  
The FDA has been charged with examining the effect that these salmon could have on our environment and on human health. But there is no way to know what would happen if these Frankenfish escaped into the wild.  
Well-managed wild salmon are one of America's richest resources, and best foods. There is no reason to mess with that.  
Before the public comment period closes, help me tell the FDA: No Frankenfish! 
Click here to sign the open letter right now 
Up in Alaska, we take pride in knowing that our salmon is the best in the world. We take pride in having a thriving fisheries industry that supports working families. And the simple truth is there is no way to tell what impact Frankenfish will have on our environment, our ocean ecosystem, and even human health.   
Sign the letter today 
Thank you.

The impact frankenfish will have on Alaska can not be positive, no matter how one tries to spin it.

More on Monday's Upcoming Idle No More Noon Rally at the Anchorage Town Square

From a press release issued by Alaska Rising Tide:

Press Advisory: 

Idle No More Rally
Monday J28, Noon
Town Square, Anchorage
Contact: Kirby Spangler, Alaska Rising Tide, 907-746-3733
Brandon Hill, Alaska Rising Tide, 207-632-0861

Celebrating Indigenous Sovereignty 
Giving Voice to the Spirit of OUR Lands and Waters 

Anchorage, AK- There will be drumming, singing, dancing, praying and giving voice to the Spirit of our lands and waters, which need our defense now.

Once again, indigenous people and allies from across Alaska will gather in Town Square at noon in solidarity with the Idle No More Movement for indigenous sovereignty sweeping across Canada and the Globe.

“The taking of our lands, and their subsequent desecration is intolerable. To resist the unquenchable thirst of colonization and corporate resource exploitation, we must stand up together as indigenous peoples of the world and demand our rights. Across the land crisis is giving rise to a growing spirit of solidarity.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the many allies and Alaska Native peoples who have stepped out to support Canada’s First Nations in our time of need through the Idle No More events. It shows we are truly all related in a bond that transcends all the boundaries and borders that have been imposed upon us” said Paul Pike, a First Nation tribal citizen from the Mi’kmaq Nation of Canada.

Drumming by members of PAMYUA, Medicine Dream, and the Mount Susitna/Sleeping Lady Drummers

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sierra Club to Join to Protest Obama's Climate Change Inaction - February 17th

November 2011 White House climate protest
Fourteen months ago, organized a massive demonstration outside the White House in Washington, DC.  Its purpose was to put pressure on Obama to not OK the Keystone XL pipeline project in the USA.

In his second inaugural address Monday, Obama said:
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries - we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure - our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet.
Fancy words.  Words that are meaningless without meaningful action.  Many of us are watching to see if Obama acts on the looming nuclear waste storage crisis (crisis is far too mild a word!), ocean acidification, the threats to infrastructure from rising oceans, bays and inlets, and the rapid depletion of biomass from our oceans. is teaming together with The Sierra Club, in what will mark the first public demonstration involving the National Sierra Club organization in its history, to put pressure on Obama:
When: February 17th, at 12 Noon  
Where: The National Mall, Washington D.C.  
Who:, The Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus  
Why: To tell Barack Obama it's time to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  
For more information about rides, housing and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit  
Just over a year ago, 15,000 people surrounded the White House -- and President Obama listened, delaying the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This is our best chance to show the President how strong this movement has become since then -- sign up today.
The organizers are hoping that this demonstration will be the biggest protest outside the White House in U.S. history.  Good for them.

I doubt it will have any impact on Obama's policies.  Obama didn't delay the Keystone XL decision out of concern for the environment.  He delayed it to reign in votes in the 2012 election from the left.  He will make his second-term decisions on the environment with as much concern for justice as he did in the prosecution of Wall Street banksters in his first term.

Here's a video put together by the event organizers:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dumbest Alaska Headline of the Week

Does anyone knowledgeable about Northern Pike in Alaska not know this?


Mr. Miller Goes to Washington - Yikes!

According to Sen. Begich's office:
Joe Miller and his wife are proud parents of their son, Jacob Miller, who was recently nominated to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Let's hope young Jacob serves his country more honestly than his father has. Chances are better than even that he will.

Perseverance Theater's "Pay-What-You-Can" Preview of "Bigfoot" Thursday Evening

Juneau's Perseverance Theater is offering students at local schools and colleges a "pay-what-you-can" preview of their new musical, Bigfoot and Other Lost Souls,"  which will have its formal premiere at the Anchorage Performing Arts Center on Friday the 25th.

The preview is Thursday evening - tonight - and to assure you get a seat, you should be there by 7:00 p.m. It will be in the Sydney Laurence Theatre.

The plot goes like this:
It’s 1981 and Bernie Bernstein, novice scriptwriter and shoe-size eleven narrow, is broke and brokenhearted. She takes the only job she can get: writing a Bigfoot documentary. The quest launches her into the woods where she meets a fugitive Weatherman, a Bigfoot expert and his wife, a Scottish cable-access camera crew, and the sheriff of Mt Shasta and her dog. This is a World Premiere musical written by Adrien Royce and Tony Award-winning composer Mark Hollmann.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bartlett Club Thursday at Noon: APRN's Steve Heimel

Defending My Earlier Post on Obama's Inaugural Address

First of all, I wasn't alone in feeling uncomfortable with the president using imagery drawn from Martin Luther King Monday.  My earlier post drew an accusation of "racism" on my part, for use of the term "Uncle Tom" to reflect how Obama is dealing with some of the contemporary problems he might be doing more to stem or reverse, or has even intentionally exacerbated.  I've seen the same term hurled at other critics of the president today, even when they didn't make use of that term.

Cornel West made some of the same comparisons between Obama and King that Glenn Greenwald and I had made.  I hope some see his statements here as something of a vindication of my point of view:

West does compare Obama's policies here as "the new Jim Crow."  He is quite eloquent.

firedoglake, where I often write, ran several viewpoints on the inauguration, the speech, and other inaugural events.  Some were in support of the president, some critical.

Martin Luther King's Greatest Antiwar Speech Compared to Obama's Uncle Tom Inaugural

Martin Luther King gave two profound antiwar speeches in April, 1967.  The first, at Riverside Church in New York City is justifiably one of his most well-known sermons.  He spoke for just under an hour on April 4th, exactly one year before his assassination.  It was recorded on audio tape, and there are several sources that provide complete transcripts.

At the end of the month, he gave a shorter version at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.  Between the two, on April 15th, he attended what was then the largest protest against the Vietnam War, in New York City, where he stated:
I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.
At the time King made these speeches, the United States was spending about 21% of the world share of annual military expenditures.  Last year - 45 years later - our share of global military spending for a country's own defense was 43%.  Under President Obama, we recently set a world record for arms exports to other nations - almost $8.7 billion.  Mostly to countries who would be far better off spending these funds on education, infrastructure and green economic development.

Having saturated countries surrounding Iran with unneeded military equipment and systems over the past four years, Obama is now courting southeast Asian nations with the same weapons and systems, touting fear of China as the sales pitch.

Writing today about MLK's April 4,1967 speech, Glenn Greenwald notes:
Citing the massive violence brought by the US to the world, King urged: "How can they trust us when now we . . . charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions." Anticipating the predictable smears of him that he knew were coming from making this argument - from pointing out the US's own responsibility for the violence and extremism it claimed to be fighting - he said: "We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who . . . recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days."  
But a citizenry whose "soul becomes totally poisoned" by endless war is incapable of considering nonviolence as an alternative. It loses its capacity for empathy (to understand what motivates others' actions), for self-assessment (to acknowledge the role one's own actions play in perpetuating this violence), for rationality (to consider whether those being killed are actually implacable foes), and for communion (to see "the enemy" as anything more than dehumanized Others who must be extinguished). Thus do we hear - in the face of endless reports of dead children and innocent adults from US violence - this morally stunted defense: I can't think of an alternative other than boots on the ground. That's the mantra of a degraded citizenry trained to recite from a script of endless war.
Indeed, our pro-war mindset has numbed us to almost too many things to list.  Non-response to the real dangers of climate change, degradation of lands and oceans through insane agricultural practices that poison each almost irremediably, decaying nuclear plants and the ticking time bombs of nuclear waste in spent fuel pools, top my list.

Of course, none of these dangers came up in Obama's second inaugural speech today.  After all, it was partially paid for by Exxon-Mobil ($260,000), a company that has spent more than any other to create disinformation and lies about the seriousness of climate change:
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the most comprehensive documentation to date of how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry's disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.
I watched Obama's uninspired speech this morning.  Afterward, I cleansed my mind, listening to both of King's April, 1967 speeches, which damned so fully the war empire Obama epitomizes.

It is very sad that had it not been for King's sacrifice, Obama might not have ever made it to the podium where he could perform for the elite today as the ultimate Uncle Tom.

Martin Luther King at Riverside Church:
Martin Luther King at Ebenezer Baptist Church:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Abby Martin Interviews Rachel Corrie's Parents as the 10th Anniversary of Rachel's Death Approaches

March 16th, less than two months away, will mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Evergreen College senior, Rachel Corrie, in Rafah, near the Egyptian border of the Gaza Strip, as she sought to and succeeded in keeping an Israeli military armored Caterpiller bulldozer from destroying the house of a large Palestinian family.

Her action cost her her life.  But her legacy lives on through the work of her parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, and through the inspiration she has provided to hundreds of thousands of young people, worldwide.

RT TV commentator and reporter, Abby Martin, in an interview with Rachel's parents, notes:
Rachel served as a symbol for me to really wake up about this issue.
Here's Martin's interview:

There will be hundreds of commemorative events worldwide as March 16th approaches.  I hope to  cover some of the more significant ones here.

If you, like Abby Martin, have been inspired or influenced by Rachel Corrie's determination on March 16th, 2003, please comment on that here.

Meanwhile, ponder this interview with Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar about his disgust over the gratuitously cruel carnage wrought by Israeli forces during 2008-2009's Operation Cast Lead.

J28 Solidarity - Idle No More to Hold Another Anchorage Town Square Gathering on January 28th

More information can be found by going to the Idle No More J28 facebook page.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The REAL Obama Emerges Again - Austerity's Agent

--- by Dr. Jill Stein

If you’re having political déjà vu as Obama’s second term in the White House gets underway, you’re not alone.

The supposedly populist candidate — who won re-election promising to tax the rich, protect Social Security, and make the economy fair — has morphed back into an invaluable ally of the economic elite. Yet again, he’s willing to let you fall under the bus.

In carving out 2013′s first round of self-inflicted budget pain, President Barack Obama has laid the groundwork for much worse to come. By making most Bush tax cuts permanent, he gave away the massive bargaining chip he could have used to protect safety net programs in the next negotiating round. Now, thanks to his pre-emptive capitulation, austerity advocates hold all the cards.

While the deal extends unemployment insurance, this temporary relief is overwhelmed by massive, permanent gifts to the super-rich. Estate taxes have been repealed for all but the wealthiest 0.1 percent with a whopping $10.5 million per couple exemption. The agreement also locks in low capital gains and dividends rates of 15-20 percent, ensuring that billionaire bosses everywhere will pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.

Among new corporate favors, the deal retained one of the loopholes that multinational firms are using to dodge taxes on their foreign subsidiaries — an incentive to export jobs that cost us $1.1 billion in 2012. Meanwhile, vulnerable workers are hit with a big increase in Social Security payroll taxes, as rates revert to 2010 levels.

The fig leaf Obama provided to cover this surrender is a token tax increase on wealthy households earning over $450,000 per year. This marks a brazen retreat from his promise to raise taxes on those earning over $250,000, a meager reform to begin with in a tax system already rife with favors for the rich.

In this past round of budget bargaining, Obama proposed alarming cuts to key safety net programs that will be considered in upcoming negotiations. This tossed aside another key promise: to protect Social Security. It comes as nearly half of Americans are either low-income or living in poverty, and one in three seniors relies on Social Security to stay out of poverty.

Obama also offered to slash needed reductions in bloated military spending from $500 billion over 10 years, the amount included in the 2011 budget deal, to a mere $100 billion.

Obama’s abandonment of his progressive base repeats 2008 post-election history, when the hope-and-change candidate suddenly devolved into a fearless defender of economic privilege. His early White House appointments of Wall Street darlings Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner were followed, with breath-taking irony, by the naming of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, America’s leader in layoffs, to head the jobs council.

Team Obama then led the charge for trillions in Wall Street bailouts, corporate-driven trade agreements that send jobs overseas and depress U.S. wages, health care reform that locked public options out of the debate, drill-baby-drill energy policies, the sabotage of international climate accords, foreclosure neglect, surging immigrant deportations, drone attacks, assaults on civil liberties, and more.

As Obama’s second term begins, he’s again undermining the progressive base, paving the way for more austerity, disparities, war and corporate power.

Washington’s failure to deal justly and effectively with the fake fiscal cliff calamity leaves little hope it will resolve the real looming crises — the unraveling economy and accelerating climate catastrophe. The enormity of these threats compel solutions of equal magnitude — like the Green New Deal I promoted as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2012. It would obliterate the fiscal cliff while putting America back to work, greening the economy, cutting the oversized military, saving trillions through Medicare for All, and taxing the wealthy.

Fortunately, grassroots movements and non-corporate political parties have begun to lead the way. It’s time to join them while we still can, putting our voices, bodies, and votes behind real solutions that can truly deliver a peaceful, just, green future for us all.

Friday, January 18, 2013

After Kulluk Hull Damage Assessment, Shell Mum on Damage Extent - State of Alaska Could Care Less

The oil drilling rig Kulluk, which spectacularly went aground on Sitkalidak Island south of Kodiak late on New Years Eve, was salvaged on January 6th, and towed about 40 miles to Kiliuda Bay, where it has been anchored since. Salvage experts have thoroughly gone over the inside and outside of the rig over the intervening days.

The so-called Unified Command structure, which was enacted before the grounding, and peaked on January 6th at over 700 people, more than half of which were government or Alaska Native corporation employees, is still in place, though much reduced. There are about 250 people involved on Kodiak Island, a smaller team in Anchorage.

However, Shell Alaska appears to be calling the shots at this point, when it comes to letting people know anything about the extent of the damage the ungainly rig sustained during severe storm conditions, and while being knocked about upon a rocky coast for a week:
The operation is under the direction of unified command structure made up of the Shell, the Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Kodiak Island Borough. The unified command has acknowledged that the vessel remains upright, has not leaked fuel and has been examined by divers, but not much else. 
"I know you're looking for specific answers but we wanted to let you know that due to the fact that multiple entities are involved in the assessment of data, including Unified Command, Shell, Smit Salvage and Det Norske Veritas, Unified Command will not comment on the assessment until the report is finalized," said spokeswoman Deb Sawyer by email in response to questions about the operation. She did not provide a timetable of when the report would be done.
Meanwhile, after the U.S. Coast Guard, other Federal agencies, the Alaska Department of Conservation, other Alaska state agencies, Native entities and other local governmental functions have spent millions from the public purse, it appears the State of Alaska, perhaps the most oil-friendly state in the country, could care less.

Marine ecosystem and oil spill expert Rick Steiner queried Gary Mendivil, an Environmental Program Specialist with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's Office of the Commissioner, about his concerns over the fragility of the damaged rig's hull:
Under the auspices of the Alaska Public Records Act, I request a copy of all records, whether printed documents, still photographs, and/or video from the underwater ROVs or divers, pertaining to the inspection of the condition of the Kulluk as of this date.
Mendivil's response was quick and brief:
Our response that no records exist is true for the entire department, including the Commissioner.
Steiner is concerned that the state DEC is a blank slate on this. He should be, as should we all. He wrote to me earlier Friday:
The rig is anchored in state waters, had been hard aground for a week, has 150,000 gallons of fuel still on board, and has been extensively inspected, and that rests in the Unified Command, which state is part of .... And this is the state government that asserts it will maintain very stringent oversight of Arctic offshore drilling?
I had a short talk with Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell early this afternoon, after a presentation we both had attended.  I didn't push him on the Kulluk grounding, but should have.

I suspect the Unified Command will make an announcement on the hull and inner structure damage to the Kulluk soon.  But, given the millions of dollars, and risks to scores of lives Shell's hubris and negligence have so far caused because of this ungainly contraption, it should not be allowed to proceed until their assessment has been vetted by the USCG and the Alaska DEC and has been made public.

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Evening's Sunset at Home

A lot of people around southcentral Alaska took pictures of a gorgeous sunset.  Here's mine - from our deck overlooking Neklason Lake.  There's water atop the ice.

FBI Informant Who Took Down Right-Wing Alaska Militia Claims Palin Was Already in Line for VP Slot in March, 2008

Last week, William Fulton, the FBI informant whose testimony in the Schaeffer Cox conspiracy to murder trial was a key to the latter's conviction, came out of his silence.  Since March 15th, 2011, Fulton has been protected by the Federal government, and had disappeared from his Spenard Avenue military surplus and equipment store, the Drop Zone, the day before:
Five days after members of an Interior Alaska militia group were arrested in connection with plots to kill Alaska State Troopers, judges and others, Anchorage businessman William Fulton -- a man once identified as the "supply sergeant" for the Alaska Citizens Militia -- went missing. He has not been seen since. 
Fulton was the owner of Drop Zone, a military surplus store on Spenard Road. He gained some notoriety during the 2010 U.S. Senate race when, acting as security for failed candidate Joe Miller, he handcuffed and detained Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger at a public meeting. 
On March 15, a Drop Zone employee arrived at work to find Anchorage attorney Wayne Anthony Ross waiting for him in the parking lot. Ross had documents, signed by Fulton, handing over the shop with all its debts and assets to the employee.
Fulton resurfaced to testify in Cox's Anchorage trial, then disappeared again until Schaeffer Cox's and some of his co-conspirators' sentencing last week.  Now Fulton has been interviewed by news outlets, beginning with Salon and  Huffington Post, on January 11th.

In the HuffPo interview, Fulton revealed that 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate GOP nominee Joe Miller began wearing a bulletproof vest after the nomination.  Fulton was in charge of candidate Miller's security during many of the Tea Party- and Koch Brothers-backed candidate's public appearances throughout the late summer and fall of 2010:
Alaska Tea Party favorite Joe Miller wore a bulletproof vest the night he beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to become the Republican Party's 2010 Senate nominee, his former private security guard told The Huffington Post. 
"As we're finding out that he's winning, I'm in the bathroom putting a bulletproof vest on the guy," William Fulton said in one of several interviews this week. Describing Miller as "paranoid," Fulton said the underdog conservative was afraid he'd be targeted at election headquarters in Anchorage on that August night. "It was fucking ridiculous."
Monday morning, the Palin-centric (still!!!) Alaska blog, The Immoral Minority featured an extended interview between Jesse Griffin, the blog's owner, and Fulton. Griffin ran a teaser on the interview late last week, promising that on Monday he would run the Fulton interview, and that readers would then have a chance to ask Bill questions.  Griffin, as recently as this weekend, commenting on the ongoing power struggle within Alaska's GOP, between the realists and the Teas Party Jihadists, noted:
I am reasonably certain that Russ Millette is only a puppet, and that his strings are being pulled by Joe Miller, and more than likely, Sarah Palin
No WONDER the Alaska GOP is trying so hard to keep their hands off of the Republican money!
Not very people believe Palin has much of a hand in GOP struggles anymore.  From my perch in Wasilla, I find the idea of Palin continuing to have a significant following absurd.  But Griffin's followers view Palin as some sort of a Zombie force with talons creeping into every nook and cranny of Alaska politics.

Griffin's interview with Fulton is interesting, though.  The questions Gryph's cult followers ask vary between quite good and inane and bizarre. Griffin wrote, at the bottom of the interview:
Now as I mentioned before Bill will answer some of YOUR questions next. 
What we have worked out is that you can submit them in the comment section, he will choose the ones he feels he can answer, and then I will type them out in a later post, either tomorrow or the next day depending on time constraints. 
Please remember that there are still certain questions that Bill will not be able, or willing, to answer.
An occurrence that keeps on coming up is a meeting that was held in the Captain Cook Hotel, on the morning of March 14, 2008, at the Alaska State GOP Convention.

Interestingly, that's the same morning I met Schaeffer Cox.

Here's Fulton's rendition of aspects of that in Monday's interview with Griffin (emphasis added):
Q: Well that's an understatement, however could you please elaborate on why this meeting, which was ostensibly about forcing Randy Reuderich out of the Alaska GOP Chairman's seat and taking over, suddenly changed direction? 
Fulton: Well yes the original intent was to shitcan Reuderich and replace him with somebody else. But then they decided not to do that it so that it wouldn't distract from the last minute decision to run Sean Parnell against Don Young.  
Q: What changed? 
Fulton: I'm not entirely sure, but it had something to do with the fact that Sarah Palin was going to be tapped as the VP candidate. 
Q: Really? This was happening in March of 2008, according to Palin, AND the McCain campaign, they did not choose her until the very last minute, late in August of 2008, which is why they did not have time to vet her carefully. 
Fulton: Bullshit. Frank Bailey and Joe Miller discussed the nomination as if it was a done deal, and claimed that she was already being vetted. 
Q: In March of 2008? 
Fulton: Yes, in March of 2008.
So Fulton is at odds with a lot of narratives, including that of the book and movie, Game Change.

Before it became public knowledge that William Fulton had been working undercover to bring down Schaeffer Cox and his colleagues, the former was best known for his arrest and handcuffing of Alaska Dispatch reporter and chief editor, Tony Hopfinger, at a Joe Miller rally in Anchorage, on October 17th, 2010.  Fulton's act was more instrumental in the write-in victory of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, in a strange three-way race, than any other single event.  Miller's reaction to the Hopfinger incident struck some as paranoid (emphasis added):
Q: And on that note how do you think Joe Miller feels now knowing that you were working with the FBI while you were also working on his security detail? 
Fulton: I KNOW how he feels. He has been writing about it on his blog. He thinks I was a plant that was dedicated to sabotaging his campaign from within.  
Q: Were you? 
Fulton: No. I just did what Miller hired me to do. He also has complained that my version of fitting him for body armor in the bathroom due to his paranoia is an exaggeration and that I had "followed him around the convention center warning him of threats."  
Q: And did you? 
Fulton: Hell no! Nobody needed to help Joe Miller feel paranoid.
After the 2010 election Alaska political activist and muckraker Ray Metcalfe and I bought the handcuffs Fulton had used on Hopfinger:
Craig says "Fulton has now told the Huffington Post that he thought putting the cuffs on Tony Hopfinger, the co-owner and editor of Dispatch, while working for Miller, a conservative Republican, appeared a great idea. Fulton said it bolstered his image with the militias." 
When Ray Metcalfe and I bought the same handcuffs Bill had used to cuff Tony at Begich Middle School, Bill told us "If I had it to do all over again, I'd do it all over again." 
He sold them to us a bit below cost for new ones, but they were used - S&W Model M-100. Charged us $40.00. 
We later gave them to Tony as a gift. 
You can see an image of them here.

(photo I made of the handcuffs, before giving them to Tony)

 Fulton reiterated what he told Ray and me in 2010 in today's interview with Griffin:
I still feel that the bust was legitimate, and my people and I had done the same thing at various events and concerts all over town. However because of who Joe Miller was, and the way the media was portraying him, the arrest served as the perfect catalyst to give the media permission to define him as somebody who would hire jack booted thugs to rough up reporters who tried to question him.  
In fact I performed my duties to the best of my abilities, and would do so again in similar circumstances.
Schaeffer Cox is now on his way to a 25-year stint in a Federal Penitentiary.  Bill Fulton says he wants to keep on working for the government:
I am looking to teach a law enforcement course dealing with extremists and infiltrating their ranks. I am also planning to write a book about my experiences in Alaska, and with the militia up there.
As for Joe Miller, whose star shone so brightly, if briefly, in the Alaska political firmament, here's from a statement that came out at his web site shortly after the Fulton interviews began to be published last week:
I have no idea what makes people like Bill Fulton and Schaeffer Cox tick. But I do know this: Joe Miller has an extreme love for this country and its people and will continue to fight selflessly to restore Liberty. 
Too many have become weary in their efforts against increasing regulations and decreasing rights. William Wilberforce did not give up after all his years of failure in Parliament and because of it slavery was abolished in England. 
Joe Miller and I believe in a limited government that stays out of the way of its citizens freedoms. I hope you will join the cause of Liberty and support the people who champion her cause.
Hang in there, Joe.  You're extremely fun to watch.
Joe Miller and close friend berating me at the 2010 Alaska State Fair

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Alaska World Affairs Council Presents "Horse Dancing Over the Fences of Tradition"

My longtime friend, Dr. Jocelyn Clark, will be the guest speaker at this Friday's AWAC luncheon. She's a dynamic public speaker.  Come hear Dr. Clark bring us up to date on some interesting cultural trends in Korea.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why is the Noble Discoverer Still Docked in Seward?

Noble Discoverer's position 12/01/2013

I don't know.  Do you?

After their farcical 2012 drilling season ended in late October, Shell Alaska wanted to move both their drill rigs, the half-century old Noble Discoverer and the 30-year-old Kulluk, to Puget Sound.

We know they had engaged a firm to do maintenance on at least one of them in Everett, Washington.  We don't know what they were going to do, though.

Since November, the Noble Discoverer has been in the port of Seward.  They aborted their Dutch Harbor to Seattle trip because the vessel was encountering problems. Upon inspection in Seward by the U.S. Coast Guard, the rig was impounded.  A criminal investigation is underway.   The crew has been provided attorneys.

And the rig, according to Shell and others, is clear to continue its odyssey to that notorious tax haven, Washington state.  Presumably, now that the Vigor-contracted facilities in Everett won't be seeing the Kulluk any time in the next week or so, the Noble Discoverer could pull right in there and get fixed up.


Noble Discoverer in better days
Why not?

Why the hell is the Noble Discoverer still here?

Shell's 2012 drilling season may qualify for several Guinness Book of World Records entries - most expensive training session, most holes drilled above 70 degrees North for nothing, most energy company hubris - who knows what else?

Idle No More Rally – Anchorage, Friday January 11th, 2013 – A Good Start

Idle No More has rapidly spread from Southcentral Canada, into the U.S. upper midwest, the U.S. side of the St. Lawrence river valley, to the Pacific Northwest south of British Columbia, and into other countries with subjugated indigenous populations.  Begun less than two months ago, it is spreading like the Ghost Dance movement on steroids.  I've heard it referred to locally as "Re-Occupy Wounded Knee," which might not be fair, as that de-Canada-izes the movement's origin.

It is propelled by the internet, social media such as facebook, twitter, youtube and skype, and good old grapevine word-of-mouth.  21st century smoke signals.  What started in Saskatoon as a small protest and hunger strike over a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper over his Omnibus Bill, C-45, the resulting teach-ins in Canada have led to concerns about other Omnibus bills, and their elements that reduce indigenous rights.

In late December, there was an Idle No More flash mob dance in Juneau.  It has been followed by three more solidarity demonstrations, including teaching aspects.  Here's Alaska Native story teller Ishmael Hope, on one of the Juneau actions:
On a deeper level, something I really love about this movement is it helps get people together, and right now, all we’re doing — we’re not making big speeches. We’re getting together and we’re singing our ancient clan songs. … What this helps us remember is there’s no separation between a culture, our language and our sovereignty. They strengthen each other. So we sing our songs, we know ourselves more and we’re able to stand up for ourselves better.
The Anchorage event, with its major component of teaching materials handed out by the event's sponsors, resembled many of the education and awareness-based INM actions in Canada and elsewhere.

The rally's sponsors were varied, and representing issues from all parts of Alaska:

REDOIL: Their network consists of grassroots Alaska Natives of the Inupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Tlingit, Gwich'in, Eyak and Denaiana Athabascan tribes. The REDOIL network addresses the human and ecological health impacts of the unsustainable development practices of the fossil fuel industry in Alaska.  REDOIL's main concern in the past has been with the oil industry, and the physical deterioration of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline.

Chickaloon Village Traditional Council: The organization currently operates seven departments: Health and Social Services, Housing, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Justice, Transportation, and Accounting/Administration.  They help serve the needs of  Tribal citizens and another estimated 2,373 Alaska Natives and Native American Peoples living in their service area, as well as the non-native community members living in Glacier View, Chickaloon, Sutton, Palmer, and Butte.  CVTC is deeply involved in coal industry development on and near traditional tribal lands.  They are not supportive of any current coal mining projects.

Alaska Community Action on Toxics: ACAT is a statewide environmental health and justice organization established in 1997.

They hope to assure justice by advocating for environmental and community health. They believe that everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, and toxic-free food.

Their active programs help communities implement effective strategies to limit their exposure to toxic substances and to protect and restore the ecosystems that sustain them and their way of life.

Since the end of the first decade of the 21st century, ACAT has been increasingly involved in providing health information abut coal mining and other mineral development projects in the state, such as the proposed Pebble Mine.

Alaska Rising Tide:  The Alaska chapter of this international grassroots organizing collective has been deeply involved in Alaska Native rights and mineral development issues.

At Friday's rally, speakers represented each of Alaska's main tribal families, Eskimo, Aleut, Athabaskan and Southeastern.  None were supportive of the ongoing development projects, such as Shell Oil's Arctic offshore drilling project, the gigantic Pebble Mine, or any of the many contemplated coal mines around the state.

I was happy to see articulate speakers like CVTC's Theresa Wade, speaking about projects I'm directly involved in, like stopping local Mat-Su coal developments, right in our back yards, or in the case of Chickaloon - front yards.

Idle No More is so new, so fresh.  I wonder if, like Occupy Wall Street and the American Indian Movement, the FBI and other Federal agencies are already targeting INM for infiltration, disinformation, and the creation of fake plots.


Here's my video of Friday's rally.  It is just three short clips from the 80-minute long rally:

1). Lisa Wade, an Athabascan from the Chickaloon Traditional Council, speaking about impending coal developments on traditional tribal lands, and the struggle against this.

2). Marcelle McIntyre and Matt Walker from the Tsimshian Dance Group in Southeast Alaska, from Metlakatla.

3). Paul Pike, from the Mi'kmaq Nation on the island of Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland), in Canada. He is a founder of Medicine Dream.

Bob Hallinan from the Anchorage Daily News took some fine photographs.

My longtime friend, Linda Scates, posted hers at her photo niche.

And Anchorage Idle No More's facebook page is getting packed with photos.