Monday, May 31, 2010

Gulf Coast Catastrophe


Click to enlarge huge

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (3rd L) scoops crude oil from the water during a tour of areas where oil has come ashore with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser (2nd L), James Carville (2nd R) and Anderson Cooper (R) May 26, 2010 near Brush Island, Louisiana. As BP prepares to try and stop the oil leak with a 'top kill' method, the Louisiana coastline is reeling from the effects of the continued gusher.
(May 25, 2010 - Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

When To Say IT!

When it's okay to say "FUCK!"



Justified Anger


Louisianan Becomes Face of Anger on Spill

Billy Nungesser, the Plaquemines Parish president, on a tour to Cat Island, where brown pelicans nest and oil has come ashore.

By Campbell Robertson
Published: May 31, 2010

BELLE CHASSE, La. — The Plaquemines Parish emergency operations center, which looks like a suitable place to plan an invasion of Europe, sits on the third floor of a nondescript government building off the highway.

At 8 a.m. every day, a collection of officials from the parish, the state, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and BP gather for a staff meeting. On a recent morning, the group sat, waiting, surrounded by television screens, a buffet counter of walkie-talkies and placards emblazoned with serious-looking acronyms that hang from the ceiling over a long conference table.

Mr. Nungesser at the command center in parish headquarters in Belle Chase. His impatience with the parish council is not something he takes pains to hide, railing against “the egos and the jealousy” of his political opponents with the same irritation he displays when criticizing the response to the oil spill. Credit: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

They were waiting for Billy Nungesser. When he marched in, he had already been up for hours, as usual, appearing on the morning TV news shows. He sat down and yanked an eyedropper out of a paper bag — a bug had flown into his eye during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN. He squeezed out some drops, then got down to business.

Mr. Nungesser, a native Louisianan, is president of Plaquemines Parish, an elongated rural jurisdiction that runs southeast from New Orleans and escorts the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

Within hours of the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Mr. Nungesser, 51, became a go-to guy for the news media. In the ensuing weeks, he has turned into the angry everyman of the oil spill, whether delivering a broadside against the government and BP’s response efforts on CNN or standing in the gymnasium of Boothville-Venice Elementary School (Home of the Oilers!) before an anxious crowd of shrimpers and fishermen.

Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, La., pilots an air boat as he leads journalists to a pelican nesting area threatened by the oil spill. Within hours of the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Mr. Nungesser became a go-to guy for the news media. In the ensuing weeks, he has turned into the angry everyman of the oil spill, whether delivering a broadside against the government and BP’s response efforts on CNN or standing in a school gymnasium before an anxious crowd of shrimpers and fishermen. Credit: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

“I know it’s going to be rough,” he said to the crowd in a speech that sounded at times like a locker room pep talk. “I know everything’s not going to go our way. But they’re not going to beat us.”

“Go get ’em, Billy,” someone shouted from the bleachers.

To hear Mr. Nungesser tell it, the big boys — BP, the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers — have all been better at pointing fingers than solving problems.

Along with Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mr. Nungesser has been a dogged advocate for a plan to build barrier islands out of dredged material to keep the oil off the shores.

There are a number of experts, including the Army Corps of Engineers, who think this is a bad idea, citing cost, time and environmental impact. In Mr. Nungesser’s gospel, that kind of response, even if it turns out to be true, is only half an answer. Come up with a better idea, he tells critics, or keep your reservations to yourself.

“These guys have no clue and no ability to think outside the box,” he said at the morning staff meeting.

Despite an affinity for the spotlight, Mr. Nungesser is a hard man to pin down. Between a cellphone that buzzes like an angry wasp, an unending string of interview requests, a visit by the president and the actual work of managing the parish, it is nearly impossible to slow him down long enough to confirm some basic biographical facts.

For example: How did Mr. Nungesser come to own an elk ranch in the parish?

The elk, he said late Thursday night over a 10-minute dinner of Sun Chips and soda, were bought from a man in Nebraska with the money he got from selling his house to his sister when he went to live in a shipping container.

Mr. Nungesser throws out sentences like that, and before one has a chance to ask him to elaborate, he is back on the phone, talking to a state trooper or a parish official or his fiancée, who needs to know that a television camera crew was following him home that night.

Back to the shipping container.

“I had a Jacuzzi,” he clarified. “It was nice.”

In his 20s and early 30s, Mr. Nungesser worked for his father’s business, a catering company that served offshore drilling rigs. In 1991, before he got involved with the elk (he sells the velvet off the antlers for arthritis medicine), Mr. Nungesser realized that metal shipping containers could be modified and used as living quarters for workers on offshore rigs.

He had a hard time at first selling the idea to investors, mainly friends and friends of friends, and so he moved into a container himself. The company, General Marine Leasing, eventually reached $20 million in sales, and now, instead of a shipping container, he lives on a palatial estate built on a man-made hill in front of an artificial lake.

Mr. Nungesser rode out Hurricane Katrina on this estate and decided to run for parish president as a Republican in 2006, he said, out of frustration over the local response to the recovery.

It was a big decision. A run for state representative in his early 20s had left him cynical about politics, despite his pedigree: his father was the chairman of the State Republican Party when there was not much of one to speak of, and he was the chief of staff for Gov. David C. Treen, the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, in the early 1980s.

Mr. Nungesser’s preparations for public office had come from running a business, an experience that made him good at laying into uncooperative oil companies but not always agile when it came to the give and take of a democracy.

“In private business, Billy was, in essence, the chief cook and bottle washer,” said Anthony Buras, a member of the parish council. “In the private business mentality, you move forward the minute you make a decision. Sometimes in government that isn’t always doable. There have been some times where there’s been some conflict with that.”

Mr. Nungesser’s impatience with the parish council is not something he takes pains to hide, railing against “the egos and the jealousy” of his political opponents with the same irritation he displays when criticizing the response to the oil spill.

That is the mode he seems to enjoy most, and one he was fully engaged in late Thursday night on the front porch of the Myrtle Grove Marina.

He had just taken a regiment of journalists out in boats to see oiled pelicans, and now, his clothes drenched from a sudden downpour, he was balancing a flurry of phone calls with the demands of the news media.

Standing in white shrimp boots that he called his Cajun Reeboks, he kept up the phone conversation while hooking up his microphone for a CNN interview like a seasoned correspondent.

Then there was a moment of quiet as the cameraman counted down to the broadcast, a calmness that was striking. Mr. Nungesser was still for a full minute.

Then he heard something in his earpiece, and he began telling Mr. Cooper why things just were not working right.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 1, 2010, on page A16 of the National edition.

The Adventures of AC & BM


Anderson Cooper & Benjamin Maisani

New York, Los Angeles, Berlin (sorry I didn't have any pictures
of the two of them while in India, maybe next time).
Where else will this sexy, dynamic duo show up?

Caminada Pass Bridge

Less than a year ago another catastrophe took place on Grande Isle, La., the historic Caminada Pass Bridge caught fire. Anderson has been reporting from the area, he may mention this tragedy... or not.

Grand Isle - A fire has destroyed 2,000 feet of the historic Caminada Pass fishing pier in Grande Isle.

Officials say an electrical problem may have sparked the fire, and a chemical used to treat the wooden ties likely fueled the flames.

The bridge, which is owned by the state, actually was reduced to a pair of piers when Hurricane Katrina washed out its middle section. The portion closest to Grand Isle was rebuilt after the storm and reopened for fishing in July 2008.

The section that burned Saturday was just beyond the rebuilt section. Authorities have roped off the entire pier.

Historic Bridge Destroyed By Fire

(02:10 min.)

From: HoumaToday

Added: September 22, 2009

Description: A historic wooden bridge crossing Caminada Pass in Grand Isle was destroyed by fire early Saturday morning.


Next to the modern access bridge to Grand Isle, La., is the old wooden vehicle bridge that extends about halfway out into Caminada Pass from the west end approaching the island shown above. It has recently been refurbished and is an excellent, lighted fishing pier! It extends out into the bay and is accessible from both shores, the old center section was removed as a channel for navigation through Caminada Pass to Caminada Bay.

I just though you'd like to know... besides, there is very little (nothing) to report about Anderson's reporting anything from Louisiana on this Memorial Day.

Commemorate Memorial Day!


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war.

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and has never been officially named. The Tomb of the Unknowns stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater.

The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classic pilasters, or columns, set into the surface. Sculpted into the east panel which faces Washington, D.C., are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor.

The Tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza. Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery

Click to enlarge

The irony: Memorial Day, red poppies and Afghanistan...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Leak Increase

N e w Z e a l a n d

Oil leak efforts 'will increase spill'


Last updated 13:12 -- 31/05/2010

CONTAMINATION: CNN reporter Anderson Cooper lays down on the bow of an air boat to take a picture as Governor Bobby Jindal, right, removes a fishing net from the oil contaminated water in Pass A Loutre near Venice, Louisiana.

BP's next effort to contain the oil spewing from a damaged well in the Gulf could result in a temporary 20 percent increase in the flow, warns White House energy czar Carol Browner.

BP's latest attempt to stem the leak involves cutting and removing a damaged pipe. Browner said in a news release Sunday that government scientists believe the oil gusher would increase as much as 20 percent from the time the pipe is cut to when a containment valve is in place.

BP spokesman John Curry did not know how much time would pass between the procedures. The operation began Saturday and is expected to take four to seven days.

With BP declaring failure in its latest attempt to plug the uncontrolled gusher feeding the worst oil spill in US history, the company is turning to yet another mix of risky undersea robot maneuvers and longshot odds to keep crude from flowing into the Gulf.

Six weeks after the catastrophe began, the oil giant is still casting about for at least a temporary fix to the spewing well underneath the Gulf of Mexico that's fouling beaches, wildlife and marshland.

The relief wells currently being drilled - which are supposed to be a better long-term solution - won't be done until August at the earliest. That would be in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins Tuesday.

The crude probably won't affect the formation of storms, but the cyclones could push the oil deeper into coastal marshes and estuaries and turn the oil into a crashing black surf.

BP said Saturday that the procedure known as the "top kill" failed after engineers tried for three days to overwhelm the crippled well with heavy drilling mud and junk 5000 feet (1.5km) underwater.

Robert Dudley, BP's managing director, said on Fox News Sunday that company officials were disappointed that they "failed to wrestle this beast to the ground." But scepticism is growing that BP can solve the crisis.

Rep Ed Markey, who leads a congressional committee investigating the disaster, told CBS Face the Nation on Sunday that he had "no confidence whatsoever in BP."

"So I don't think that people should really believe what BP is saying in terms of the likelihood of anything that they're doing is going to turn out as they're predicting," he said.


BP chief executive Tony Hayward has disputed claims by scientists that large undersea plumes have been set adrift by the Gulf oil spill and said the cleanup fight has narrowed to surface slicks rolling into Louisiana's coastal marshes.

During a tour of a company staging area for cleanup workers, Hayward said BP's sampling showed "no evidence" that oil was suspended in large masses beneath the surface. He didn't elaborate on how the testing was done.

"The oil is on the surface," Hayward said. "Oil has a specific gravity that's about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity."

Scientists from several universities have reported plumes of what appears to be oil suspended in clouds stretching for kilometres and reaching hundreds of metres beneath the Gulf's surface.

Those findings - from the University of South Florida, the University of Georgia, Southern Mississippi University and other institutions - were based on initial observations of water samples taken in the Gulf over the last several weeks. They continue to be analysed.


The spill is the worst in US history - exceeding even the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster - and has dumped between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf, according to government estimates. The leak began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April, killing 11 people.

"This scares everybody, the fact that we can't make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven't succeeded so far," BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said Saturday. "Many of the things we're trying have been done on the surface before, but have never been tried at 5000 feet."

He said cutting off the damaged riser isn't expected to cause the flow rate of leaking oil to increase significantly.

Experts have said that a bend in the damaged riser likely was restricting the flow of oil somewhat, so slicing it off and installing a new containment valve is risky.

"If they can't get that valve on, things will get much worse," said Philip Johnson, an engineering professor at the University of Alabama.

In the days after the spill, BP was unable to use robot submarines to close valves on the massive blowout preventer atop the damaged well, then two weeks later, ice-like crystals clogged a 100-ton box the company tried placing over the leak. Last week, engineers removed a mile-long siphon tube after it sucked up a disappointing 900,000 gallons of oil from the gusher.

Word that the top kill had failed hit hard in fishing communities along Louisiana's coast, where the impact has been underscored by oil-coated marshes and wildlife.

The top official in coastal Plaquemines Parish said news of the top kill failure brought tears to his eyes.

"They are going to destroy south Louisiana. We are dying a slow death here," said Billy Nungesser, the parish president. "We don't have time to wait while they try solutions. Hurricane season starts on Tuesday."

OIL SLICK: Workers clean up oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Pass a Loutre, Louisiana.

A House In The Hamptons

Did you know that there is such a thing as Anderson French Doors? I didn't, so I was surprised when I came across this beautiful style of floor to ceiling, glass paneled doors. I've seen them many times, but I never knew they were called Anderson French Doors.

Well, I think Anderson should install "Anderson Cooper French Doors," in his house, not the Fire station No 2, but his house in the Hampton's. It's only fitting. Here are some samples of how his Hampton's home would look:

Sampling the Anderson Cooper French Doors.

Fresh and airy looking in the living room.

His bedroom would have a full view of the garden that Benjamin would be an expert at keeping green and flowering all the time.

Pay no attention to the guy on the bed, he came with the house, he is the pool guy and sometimes the sun combined with the heavy work -- picking leaves out of the pool can be exhausting, and that makes him very tired.

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AC's Book

A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival," a "New York Times" best seller, is his account of the people he's met, the things he's seen and the lessons he's learned in the midst of devastation.

Dispatches from the Edge
Woven into the narrative is Anderson's struggle to understand his own family's personal tragedies. The paperback version came out May 8, 2007.

Excerpt: Dispatches from the Edge
Review: Anderson cooper's journey
'360' Blog: Anderson on the new book

Peter's Books

(3 short stories and 1 short play.)

The first installment of "The Gay Ghost Trilogy" is the story of Charles Lanier, a young gay guy who rents an apartment on Lake Shore Drive on the near north side of Chicago, and the unexpected adventures he encounters from the day he moves in. And that's only the beginning; follow up with "The Next Gay Ghost" and "The Two Gay Ghosts." Each story can be read independently from the other two installments. Or get all three books in one with "The Gay Ghost Trilogy."

"The Gay Ghost"

Paperback: $9.97 + shipping

"The Next Gay Ghost"

Paperback: $9.97 + shipping

"The Two Gay Ghosts"

Paperback: $9.97 + shipping

"The Gay Ghost Trilogy"

Paperback: $22.91 + shipping

And a One Act Play about a gay Garamatean and a gay Earthling:


Paperback: $10.70 + shipping

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