Gulf Oil Spill’s One Year Mark Approaching

It’s been a while since I’ve posted..it’s been a busy couple of months. I realized the other day that it’s been almost one year since the oil spill in the gulf. One year…can you believe that?!

I noticed that the Sierra Club has asked to be a part of the BP lawsuit. This is interesting, because a non-profit is joining forces with the Justice Department. Why would they want to be a part of a large federal lawsuit? Apparently they want to ensure that coastal communities are represented…why aren’t more non-profits stepping up and asking to be a part of this lawsuit?

Meanwhile, 5 more dolphins were found dead in gulf waters. Damn, no one is listening. The article questions whether this was a result of the oil spill. Seriously? What else would it be, people? The amount of oil and corexit in the gulf of mexico is staggering. It’s been one big federal science experiment for almost one year. One year! According to scientists studying the dolphin deaths, it’s a “mass mortality”.  Yes, I hope it’s due to algae blooms, but let’s get real. We all know what caused it, let’s not try to blame it on algae blooms for the millionth time.

At least the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has launched a massive, long-term study on the health affects of the oil spill. A little too late? Maybe. Maybe not. Where in the hell were these people almost a year ago?

At least someone has been telling the truth since the beginning and that’s Dahr Jamal. Here’s his latest article from the gulf entitled, “We’re Poisoned, We’re Sick”.

Alright gang, it’s time to come out of our winter hibernation and start kicking some ass again. I’ll be back soon and keep fightin’ the good fight.

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Gulf Seafood Safety in Question

I realize that the safety of gulf seafood has been in question for a while, but there seems to be mounting evidence that it is not safe to eat. The Institute of Southern Studies released evidence today that testing of gulf seafood is not being done correctly and questions its safety. Based on this report, the toxic chemicals seem to be moving up the food chain. And who, by golly is at the top of that food chain? Well, lemme think about that one.  Hmmm….could it possibly be…humans? In fact, certain environmental groups are protesting FDA seafood standards, saying that they aren’t safe.

Recently, Obama told all military commissaries and mess halls around the world to begin selling and serving seafood from the gulf. I think it’s ironic that Obama is waging a war in Afganistan, but at the same time seeks to poison all military personnel along with himself and members of the White House. Oh, and I forgot to mention that prisons and public schools are also encouraged to eat gulf seafood.  Seriously??  This video, put out by Al Jazeera follows a few local fishermen as they speak openly about the fact that there is still oil in the water.

Play that video at the White House and then bring out the shrimp cocktails and the raw oysters.  As my grandma would say, “that’s enough to gag a maggot”.  Hey, I’m all for eating gulf seafood, as long as it doesn’t turn me into the Toxic Avenger. So, for now, I am not eating anything that lived or lives in gulf waters…and neither should you for that matter…and that’s a bold statement from someone who’s been eating gulf seafood her entire life.

Giving thanks…

It’s hard to think about the silver lining, sometimes.  Especially around the holidays, when we’re reminded of the people or things that we’ve lost along the way. For me, I remember going to the beach on a bright, cool Thanksgiving day and staring at the gorgeous blue water stretched out in front of me.  That memory is tarnished with the thought of crude oil laying at the bottom of it, Corexit floating through it’s veins…it’s sad. But, we have to remember that there is always a silver lining.  By that I mean those who have been working tirelessly on behalf of the people and the oceans of the gulf coast.

First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share it with your friends, family and other concerned folks. You have been and are still an incredibly important part of getting the truth out about this disaster.

A big thank you goes out to other bloggers such as Summer Burkes from the Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse, Editilla from the New Orleans Ladder and Drake Toulouse from the Disenfranchized Citizen, who have been writing nonstop and constantly keeping us updated on the situation.

Thanks also to the community organizations and nonprofits who are relentlessly fighting for us, such as the Gulf Restoration Network, the Waterkeepers, Project Gulf Impact and the Surfrider Organization.

Thank you to all of those in the Twitter universe who are following the #oilspill, #corexit, #gulf, #bpcrud, #blacktide, and #BP hashtags and tweeting or retweeting (or both!) your hearts out to let folks know that this disaster is still going on.

And finally, thank you to the people on the front lines, the people like Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association, Kindra Arnesen, and Dahr Jamail who have captured this disaster from day one and risked their lives to cover it.

I’m sure that there are folks that I’ve forgotten to include in this list of thanks, and in saying that, I’d like to thank them too…

Thanks to all of you for everything you do and please keep fighting for the truth, because one day…maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day, the truth will be told about the largest environmental disaster in this nation’s history.

People are sick and dying on the Gulf Coast

Have you ever walked down an aisle in the Garden Center at Wal-Mart or Kmart and smelled the chemicals? I walked  through that aisle a few days ago and felt like I was about to pass out. It only had a couple canisters of pool chemicals, insect killer and weed killer, but I had the most terrible headache when I left. For those of you who don’t live on the gulf coast and have trouble grasping what is happening with the oil spill and the chemical poisoning, the federal government has basically dumped millions of gallons of a toxic cocktail containing pool chemicals, insect killer and weed killer in the backyards of  Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. This article just came out today and highlights the illnesses that people are still battling due to the oil spill and the Corexit.

So, the federal, state and local officials want to keep this dirty truth quiet. They don’t want the rest of the world to pick up on the fact that people are sick, extremely sick, and dying because of the oil spill and the government’s response to it.

In fact, Aljazeera (yes, you read that right, Aljazeera) has picked up on the illnesses being caused by the Corexit and the oil spill in this article. It’s amazing to me that this type of journalism is happening halfway around the world and our own media has completely forgotten about the gulf coast.  Anderson Cooper, where are you now? Have you abandoned the gulf in search of more high profile stories? Are the people living and dying in the gulf not newsworthy enough for you?

Obama and the rest of those that are keeping this story under wraps are negligent. They are killing people. They are killing our beautiful oceans. They are murderers. I’m sorry, those are some harsh words for a Monday morning, but they are killers.

If BP, the Obama administration and all of those who are keeping this story quiet were put on trial, would it be involuntary manslaughter or would it be murder in the first degree? I firmly believe it’s murder in the first degree, because they know what they are doing and they aren’t doin’ a damn thing to stop it.

Takin’ care of business in the Gulf

At the six month mark of the worst environmental disaster in American history, many gulf coast residents feel abandoned by federal, state, local governments and the general public.  So, in light of this, they are rallying together to make change happen. In fact, this is an article that Rocky Kistner wrote that focuses on how gulf residents are now issuing a call to arms. One of Elvis Presley’s favorite sayings was “TCB”, which stood for “Takin’ Care of Business”.  I’m an Elvis fan and I have to tell you that there are several organizations who are takin’ care of business in the gulf and gettin’ down to it.

For instance, the Gulf Restoration Network has joined forces with several nonprofit and community based organizations to put together “The Weeks Bay Principles for Gulf Recovery”. This is an amazing effort which is outside of the federal government’s initiative and really addresses issues that the feds are ignoring such as seafood safety and Corexit dispersant poisoning amongst gulf coast residents.

Also, faith-based organizations have come together and created “After the Spill”. If you remember, many faith-based organizations served as the backbone of support after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the gulf coast. This is a great article that spotlights their efforts to bring multiple denominations and religious beliefs together in support of one common goal.

I’m so proud of these efforts and want to get the word out there about the great work these folks are doing.  Please support them in any way that you can, even if it’s sharing this blog post with your friends and family.

Takin' Care of Business

Walton County, Florida Beaches Contaminated with Oil + Corexit

A friend of mine that lives in Walton County, Florida recently posted this article and I wanted to share it with ya’ll. The tourism boards, BP and local government officials are calling it “all clear” on the beaches within Walton County and surrounding areas, encouraging more people to come to the gulf for their vacations.  According to University of South Florida researcher Rip Kirby, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, in this article by The Walton Sun, Kirby says “This beach is as contaminated as all the rest…I took the local government officials’ word that these beaches were not impacted…”.  Walton County officials didn’t return any calls from The Walton Sun on Kirby’s findings. Not surprising.

If anything, this is more evidence that independent testing needs to be done on the waters and beaches in the gulf.  BP along with the local, county and federal government officials are not telling the truth.  The oil and the Corexit dispersant are in the water and on the beaches. This is impacting both locals who live in the area and folks who are traveling to this area for their vacations. In fact, many who live in the area are going back into the water and back onto the beaches.  This is especially troubling because these are the people who live in the gulf on a daily basis.  Alot has been said about the tourists, but what about the locals? Should they be swimming, surfing, snorkeling or building sandcastles? 

Since there hasn’t been much of an answer on this topic and most of the answers have been “There’s no oil, the beaches and waters are fine”, many people are unsure what to do.  Walton County, Florida is home to the famous Seaside community and within a stone’s throw away of Destin, Florida.  In fact, they’ve opened up the waters and the Destin Fishing Rodeo is taking place this month.   If this article by the Walton Sun shows us anything it’s that BP, local and federal officials do not know what’s going on and they are trying to keep a public health disaster quiet.

Gulf coast residents (along with the rest of the country) are being misled and lied to, and the saddest thing about it is that no one seems to care.  As I’ve said before, we need action and we need it now.  The beaches and waters are CONTAMINATED. I mean, what does that word CONTAMINATED do to you? Does it scare you? It sure as hell scares the crap outta me and something needs to be done about it for the health of our country.  We need independent testing.  We need task forces. We need Superman. Seriously.

Is our Southern nature killing us?

The South is known for its genteel nature, or it’s “southern charm”, if you will. Sweet tea, barbeque, and mint juleps line the pages of magazines such as Southern Living. Not a whole lot of people in the South really want to “rock the boat”.

As I see it, so many people in the gulf are layin’ low with regard to the oil spill and the Corexit poisoning.  There are only a few brave souls like Kindra Arnesen, who are speaking out and saying “enough is enough”.  Why aren’t more people speaking out? Surely, their children and families are being poisoned by oil and Corexit as well. Is their southern nature killing them?

If this was happening in Boston or San Francisco, you’d probably see riots, burning cars…you name it.  I’m not sayin’ that we should be burnin’ gas stations, but think about it. Why is the South different? Are we the sweet, southern doormats of the nation? We just lay down and let BP and the federal government run over us…doesn’t that piss you off? It pisses me off and that’s why I started this blog.

The media keeps sayin’ “Oh, those people in the gulf, they’re so resilient”…in fact, the recent gulf recovery plan is called “One Gulf, resilient gulf: A plan for coastal community recovery”.  Are we truly resilient or are we just really good at smilin’, puttin’ our heads down, gettin’ to work and keepin’ our mouths shut? I wrote about hangin’ in there last month, but I swear, the keepin’ the mouths shut part is what gets me. 

I appreciate the sentiment of “resiliency” and I appreciate that there are organizations trying to help the gulf, but there needs to be action and it needs to happen now. Not five years from now, but ASAP.  The people of the gulf don’t need your sympathy or pity. They need you to believe them when they say that the oil is still in the gulf and that they are being poisoned by Corexit exposure.

Listen fellow Southerners, you’ve got to stand up and give Obama, BP, and the rest of ’em your middle finger and tell ’em it isn’t right.  They have poisoned our friends, families, waters and seafood and they could care less.  In fact, Erin Brockovich spoke to folks in Pensacola, Florida at the beginning of the spill about just that, and here’s the article.  This is one of my favorite Johnny Cash pictures:

Bloody Mississippi Bayous

This is a YouTube video of oil and Corexit in the bayous of Ocean Springs, Mississippi that was posted today by Lorrie Williams. She has a YouTube channel where she posts video updates of the oil spill’s affects on her hometown.  I initally found it on the Ladies’ Guide to the Apocolypse blog (which is an awesome blog, by the way) and had to share it with all of you. Man, this video is intense. It totally blows my mind that the federal government continues to tell us that the water is “clean” and the oysters, fish and shrimp are fine to eat.

Take a look at this video and tell me if you’d eat an oyster, a shrimp or a strawberry shortcake outta this water…

What kind of crap are the feds tryin’ to pull? Seriously? What the hell?

Oh, and BP has waltzed out of town with it’s drawers still in tact. In fact, their shares went up a point today. But, the residents of Ocean Springs, Mississippi’s housing values went into the toilet along with their health. Am I still living in America?

Bad habits are hard to break…

Why are we just now thinking about reducing our energy consumption? Why now?

A year ago, I wasn’t this concerned with the amount of plastic I was using or how many miles I was driving in my car. Now, I’m completely obsessed with it and cringe each time I can’t recycle something. I think that it’s because this oil spill has really hit home for me. I thought that the oceans and beaches of my hometown would always be there. In the back of my mind, regardless of where I was living at the time, I knew I could go home, and they would be there waiting for me. Well, that’s not necessarily true anymore. I’m nervous to put one toe in that water, especially because of the Corexit. Which is so crazy, because that is the exact same body of water that I spent years of my life swimming in. 

For the first time in American history, we’ve got friends and families who are divided over whether or not to swim in the Gulf of Mexico, a giant body of water that has been there for thousands, if not millions of years. That’s heavy. I mean, really, really heavy when you stop and think about it. In fact, last week they were telling people in Pensacola not to make sandcastles because of the amount of oil underneath the sand!  Not making a sandcastle at the beach? What is this? The Book of Eli? I mean, seriously. That’s pretty post-apocolyptic to someone who has built thousands of drip sandcastles in her lifetime…here’s the video to go along with it:

So, is this all a part of the great awakening? A friend of mine is very much into 2012 and the events that surround it. I’m not so sure about the whole 2012 thing, but I have to say that more Americans are thinking about their energy consumption.  I guess when you see millions of gallons of oil spewing out of a fractured hole in the ground it does something to you.

Or does it? What did it do to you? Did you reduce your energy consumption for a few weeks and then fall off the wagon? Hell, I’ll admit that I did. And, it was subconcious. The other day, I left almost all of the lights in the house on. I like light, it makes me feel good, and I typically like to have a few on. But, after that oil spill, that was it. I was like a Quaker. My house was almost completely dark. It looked like a Hobbit Hole.  I didn’t care. I just wanted to do something in my life to make a difference. But, just like a recovering alchohlic, I hit the bottle again. I turned every one of those damn lights on without thinking about it. A few minutes later, I thought “Shit! I left all the lights on!”  I guess what I’m trying to say that is that we’ve got some bad habits that we’ve got to break. My gramma used to put tabasco on my fingernails so that I wouldn’t bite them. If that’s what it takes then I’m puttin’ tabasco on those damn light switches. And my steering wheel. And my toaster oven. 

What are you gonna do to fight your energy addiction? Even if it’s turning off one light switch or walkin’ to the store, you’re doin’ somethin’….as my dad likes to say, “Git ‘er done”.

Hang in there!

I was talking to my mom on the phone last night and we were reminiscing about all of the time my brother and I spent in the water while we were growing up. She said that she was really happy that we were able to swim, surf, and enjoy the water before the oil spill.  When she said that, I started to feel so many different emotions.  Anger, regret, sadness…and then, a will to fight.  That’s why I started this blog in the first place. To continue to fight for my hometown and the people in the gulf.

Battle fatigue has set in across the nation. Many people have turned to other news, such as Hurricane Earl, Paris Hilton’s recent jail time and the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.  Where will the people of the gulf fit into the daily news feeds? Well, we’re slowly fading away, thanks to the federal government’s recent announcement that the oil has “disappeared”.   Tourists are slowly coming back to the gulf coast, but the locals know better and aren’t going in the water.  Where’s the disconnect here?

Last week’s telethon “The Gulf is Back”  looked like it was sponsored by BP. The panaoramas of tourists eating gulf seafood and playing in the water was maddening.  I had to change the channel because it just isn’t true.  The tourism boards want gulf seafood to be safe (we’d all like for it to be safe, if that truly was the case) and the water to be crystal clear. But, the truth is always right underneath the surface…all you have to do is scratch a little bit and you’ll find it. Kinda like scratch off Lotto tickets.  The tarballs are right underneath that first layer of sugary sand, waiting to be exposed. If you scroll down and look at the fine print of the “Gulf is Back” website, you’ll see that it’s sponsored by the State of Mississippi…hmmm.  I mean, on one hand, great, I know people are losing money and revenue needs to be created…but like I’ve said in the past, does it have to be at the expense of the health of American people?

So, how do we combat battle fatigue and keep going? Here’s some inspiration from Kristina Johnson, Senior Press Secretary at the Sierra Club, as she writes about the resiliency of gulf coast residents.  Her story is short, but sweet.  The skeptical side of me always cringes when they call us “resilient”, though.  Aren’t there other resilient folks in the rest of the US? But hey, let’s not focus on that…we are resilient, we will keep going…this is a great article written in the LaCrosse Tribune about disaster fatigue and how it shouldn’t foil relief efforts in the gulf.

One of the things that we have to do is manage our stress about the oil spill…starting this blog was one of the ways that I’m managing my stress. I mean it, I couldn’t hardly sleep. So, I decided to start blogging and telling my story.  Are you telling your story about the spill and about the gulf?  I’m trying to find the positive in all of this and let me tell you, it’s difficult. But, I’m reminded of people like Jack Rudloe with Operation Noah’s Ark who are fighting every day to be heard. He’s not giving up, and neither should we. I’m always reminded of the cat hanging onto the tree limb with the quote that says “Hang in there!”  Find your groove and hang in there, guys. It’s may be tough, but we can do it. I’m counting on you!

Hang in there

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