Early voting ends this Tuesday, October 30th. After that you have to line up on November 6th. Our ballot in Louisiana contains NINE Constitutional Amendments, so it’s best that you become informed so you can vote intelligently. This link will give you the background on the amendments and explain – in plain English – what […]
Category Archives: National Politics
I’ll admit a couple of things, first off. Last night, I didn’t watch the second presidential debate. I’ve sadly become cynical about this election. I already have a darned good idea of how I’ll be voting, and it won’t be for the guy talking about…what was it again?… Women in bondage? A book of mail-order […]
Last night I was at dinner in someone’s home and the following is the abridged version of a portion of dinner conversation. I say abridged because I was so mad that one, the guest had the audacity to discuss politics in a room of people this person had never met, save one, and two I […]
With signs ranging from End the War to Government is Organized Crime, the message of the protesters was at times hard to fathom. To be frank, I all but dismissed them as an oddity that was interesting to photograph, but not something that I took seriously. As I thought and read more about the movement, I came across a great Op Ed in the NY Times yesterday that helped me put into words what I was seeing. ”As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.” The full opinion is here; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/opinion/sunday/protesters-against-wall-street.html?scp=5&sq=Occupy%20Wall%20Street&st=cse
I was really glad that I found that link prior to posting these images….I have had some conversations recently with friends and acquaintances about the fact that this might be the hardest time to finish a college degree and enter the workforce than any other time in US history. Imagine being twenty-two years old, with a fresh bachelors degree in hand, with numerous college loans that you needed to finance that degree, hanging over your head that you need to repay. It is not a pretty sight just now here in the US for those individuals. Young college graduates still lag far behind older college-educated workers: 9.3% of them are unemployed, more than double the 4.7% unemployment rate for college graduates age 25 and older and the class of 2011 will likely face the highest unemployment rate for young college graduates since the Great Recession began. What a terrifying time to arrive in the US job market.
Add to the mix, the average American who has lost their trust in a government that bails out banks and Wall Street while ignoring the pain that the Wall Street fallout has caused to middle class America. We are constantly being assailed by the profits that JP Morgan (successor to Bear Stearns) , AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, the auto industry continue to make even after receiving extraordinary bailouts from the US. It seems unbelievable that the US government was forced to bailout such companies, at the expense of the American public who has had to endure job losses, home equity losses, a credit bubble that cost them their homes and jobs, while Wall Street has hummed merrily along, thanks to the bailout, and the politicians who were elected pledging to reform Wall Street continue to maintain the status quo, all while raking in money from the corporate sponsors they had pledged to reform. Is it any wonder that the ordinary American is angry? When you factor these in, you begin to understand the need for such protests. Indeed it has even been suggested that the Occupy Wall Street protests that are beginning to spread across the US, might even become similar to the 1960′s protest. Time will tell on that forecast. For now, I think that the politicians, the pundits and the elite who are denouncing these protests should think twice about them; if you continue to bailout and coddle the rich while ignoring the middle class, the protests of the sixties could pale in comparison to these protests currently in their infancy.
The rest of my photos are here; http://laurabergerol.photoshelter.com/gallery/Occupy-NOLA/G0000vZy4n3gOvi4/
The following is a list of companies that are being granted protection for any future litigation when claimants sign a no sue waiver when opting to receive a lump sum final payment from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, known as the GCCF. The GCCF released a sample of the waiver, listing these companies in their attachment A, on their website on Friday, December 17, 2010.
- Aerotek, Inc.
- Ameri-Force, Inc.
- Anadarko Petroleum Company
- Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
- Anadarko E&P Company LP
- Art Catering, Inc.
- BJ Services Company, USA
- BP America Inc.
- BP America Production Company
- BP Company North America Inc.
- BP Corporation North America Inc.
- BP Corporation North America Inc. Savings Plan Investment Oversight Committee
- BP Energy Company
- BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.
- BP Global Special Products (America) Inc.
- BP Holdings North America Limited
- BP plc
- BP Products North America Inc.
- Brett Robinson Gulf Corporation
- Cameron Corporation
- Cameron International Corporation f/k/a Cooper Cameron Corporation
- Cameron International Corporation d/b/a/ Cameron Systems Corporation
- Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health L.L.C.
- Chouest Shorebase Services, LLC
- Clean Harbors
- Core 4 Kebawk, LLC
- Crowder/Gulf Joint Venture
- Crowder Gulf Disaster Recovery
- Diamond Offshore Company
- DOF Subsea USA, Inc.
- Drill-Quip, Inc.
- Entrix, Inc.
- Environmental Standards
- EPS Corporation
- ES&H Environmental Services
- ESIS, Inc.
- Global Diving & Salvage, Inc.
- Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC
- Gulf Offshore Logistics International,LLC
- Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.
- Halliburton Company
- Hamilton Eng.
- Hilcorp Energy Company
- Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd, Inc.
- Hyundai Motor Company
- In Rem Vessels
- Island Ventures II
- Jupiter Insurance Limited
- LaBorde Marine Services, LLC
- Lloyd’s of London
- Marine Spill Response Corporation
- MEG Energy Corp
- M-I L.L.C.
- M-I Drilling Fluids L.L.C.
- M-I Swaco
- Miller Environmental Group, Inc. Mitsui & Co. (USA), Inc.
- Mitsui & Co. Ltd.
- Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. Ltd.
- Moran Environmental Recovery, LLC
- MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC
- Moex USA Corporation
- MV Monica Ann
- MV Pat Tilman
- MV Damon B. Bankston
- MV Max Chouest
- MV Ocean Interventions
- MV C. Express
- MV Joe Griffin
- MV Mr. Sidney
- MV Hilda Lab
- MV Sailfish
- MV Seacor Washington
- MV Seacor Vanguard
- Nalco Holding Company
- Nalco Finance Holdings LLC
- Nalco Finance Holdings Inc.
- Nalco Holdings LLC
- Nalco Company
- Nautical Ventures, LLC
- Nautical Solutions, LLC
- O’Brien’s Response Management, Inc.
- Ocean Runner, Inc.
- Oceaneering International, Inc.
- Offshore Cleaning Systems L.L.C.Offshore Service Vessels, LLC
- Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services, Inc.
- Ranger Offshore, Inc.
- Reel Pipe, LLC
- Schlumberger, Ltd.
- Seacor Marine, LLC
- Seacor Marine, Inc.
- Seacor Marine International, Inc.
- Siemens Financial, Inc.
- Seafairer Boat, LLC
- State Street Bank and Trust Company
- Subsea 7 LLC
- The Response Group, Inc.
- TestAmerica, Inc.,
- Tiburon Divers, Inc.
- Tidewater Marine LLC
- Tiger Safety, LLC
- TL Wallace
- Transocean Inc.
- Transocean Deepwater, Inc.
- Transocean Drilling (U.S.A.) Inc.
- Transocean Enterprise Inc.
- Transocean Holdings Inc.
- Transocean Holdings LLC
- Transocean Ltd.
- Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc.
- Transocean Offshore USA, Inc.
- Triton Asset Leasing GmbH
- Triton Hungary Asset Management KFT
- Triton Hungary Asset Management Limited Liability Company
- USES/Construct Corps
- Weatherford International Ltd.
- Weatherford U.S. L.P
- Worley Catastrophe Services, LLC
- Worley Catastrophe Response, LLC
I don’t deal with death well. At thirty-four years old, I have seen death take my parents, a child and many very good friends from me. When dealing with death, I grieve out loud. I weep. I cry. I question. I scream and then I weep once more.
Living in Southeastern Louisiana lately, death surrounds us, creeping into all aspects of our lives. Work is no longer work; it is working while we can. Cooking no longer means going to the grocery store and getting what is cheapest, but stocking up on local seafood before our seafood ceases to exist. It is saying good-bye to the memories we would make on the beaches, because the beaches are closed off. Watching the television means watching local news or Anderson Cooper 360 since those seem to be the only outlets really reporting what is happening here. It means becoming the ‘them’ again, the ‘them’ that is stupid enough to live there, stupid enough to have a state that depends on oil to run, the ‘them’ that is getting what they deserve. We are the ‘them’ who are hurting but the ‘them’ not being listened to. We are the ‘them’ being held hostage by a foreign corporation, the Federal government and the Coast Guard.
Armed security guards in pastel t-shirts and camo pants guard the beaches, not allowing passage, particularly if you have a camera or pen and paper. In your community, you become the outsider, the enemy, the background music that no one really listens to but is just sort of there. Except we aren’t there, because they won’t let us be.
What was once familiar has become foreign, unrecognizable. The spot on the beach, my spot, where I have written so many words and have contemplated so important life decisions is not longer there, now only an oil-covered mess exists, tainted by negligence, blanketed in betrayal and marked with corruption. The calm has been strangled from it, possibly never to return, a victim the no one heard scream in the middle of the night.
Even harder to bear is the defeated looks on the faces of those all around, whether it be the fisherman who no longer has an income or the bartender that has had his hours cut and watched his tip amounts disappear or the children that know what is happening in the Gulf, wondering why this had to happen, mourning their own things in their own way. They are left confused, seeing the adults in their life struggle with the rhyme and reason, unable to feel really secure after seeing the hopelessness enter the lives of the adults that they trust.
So many adults want to help, but we are held back. If adults, who wield the real power, are unable to help, what can children do?
Culture is dying. The days of the familial fishing business is gone, leaving, well, nothing for those who have dedicated their whole lives to the industry, the sport. No longer can one get on a boat and hitchhike from shrimper to crabber down through the bayou and back up again, offering to help chip in for fuel or work off your ride. Gone are the days of the catch, coming home and celebrating with your family a particular bountiful day. The only thing left to celebrate is what once was and no one likes reliving what we have lost.
We plead for answers from our government, the body we should turn to in an event of a disaster of this size. The government looks the other way, pointing to the criminal that is responsible for this crime, telling us to ask them. When we do ask, because all other rational options have been exercised, we are not given answers but press releases. We then receive information contradictory to what was just released to the national press when we call to speak with individuals for clarification. BP is not even in the same genre of book, let alone on the same page, yet, we are expected to put faith in these people that our loss will be accounted for and trust that they will do the right thing and help us make it through this preventable homicide against nature.
Is there anyone there? Is anyone listening to us? Our voices are being muffled by politics, by serious covering of asses, by a system that has been allowed to become an outlaw, doing as it pleases with no consequences for bad behavior. Mainstream media attempt to distract us, trying to fill us with ‘developments’ that aren’t developments but recycled news stories they didn’t bother paying attention to the first time. No one is looking out for us. No one is being our voice. It feels like we live in our own third world country.
It is for these reasons, and many more that cannot adequately be described with words but must be experienced to fully understand, that I’m not okay. The death. The desperation. The hopelessness. The abandon. The shame of it all. I’m not okay.
I’m not okay.
I have a habit of watching CNN on the television, while having BBC or Al-Jazeera English running on my computer through Live Station while I read newspapers online, check out my Google alerts and have my morning coffee. This morning when I turned CNN on,extended reporting aired about a link between the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, and deals made in regards to BP. Annoyed, I turned to MSNBC and what was being discussed on The Morning Joe? A connection between BP and the release of al- Megrahi. Fox News? You guessed it, the possible connection between BP and al-Megrahi release.
What’s all the noise about?
Politicians in the United States are now calling for an investigation into a possible connection that exchanged al-Megrahi release for big oil contracts in Libya for BP.
My question is why, after eighty-some days of obscene negligence, dishonesty that cannot be described any other way than profane, irresponsibility and fleecing of Louisiana’s working class, is this now becoming an issue being reported on the mainstream American media and receiving attention by those powers that be in the US when this information has been available for some time? Like a few years.
In 2007, the rumblings of a BP-influenced deal with Libya began making rumblings shortly after images of Tony Blair and Muammar al-Gaddafi shaking hands (see above photo) appeared in the media. Shortly after this photo-op, it was announced on May 29, 2007 that BP would be going into Libya after a 33 year absence. This was a 900 million dollar deal that gave BP rights to oil exploration and prospecting. United States publications like the New York Times also briefly covered this story. (As well as endless British mainstream publications such as The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent)Is one to believe that the US was just made aware of the information connecting BP with the Lockerbie trade? Heck no! The Washington Post published this article on August 31, 2009 on the connection. MSNBC published this report on August 29, 2009. There are many others.
So, why is it now that US politicians are calling for an investigation into the connection between these two entities? Was it easier to look the other way when Big Oil was filling politicians pockets without consequence or possibility of guilt by association? Is it because we still live in a society fueled by Bush Administration fear of the elusive boogeyman – the terrorist and for a company to have made a trade for a terrorist is just not acceptable? Is it because now it is trendy to speak ill of BP? Or is it because it is a slow news week, with stalled progress on domestic or foreign policy, not to mention the clusterfuck between BP and the Feds in dealing with the oil spill and the mainstream media clan are puppets and report only what each other are reporting, without doing any sort of research or looking for ledes in important stories such as the oil spill? Or perhaps it is because finally we have caught another country red-handed and just as guilty as the US for allowing oil to influence our domestic and foreign policies?
Whatever the reason, this isn’t a new development, folks. This isn’t a new discovered secret deal uncovered by intelligence agencies or leaked documents. This has been there, right under most of our noses, hidden on the back pages of newspapers for at least three years. Don’t fall for the hype. Demand more.
This is just another example of our suffering and tragedy in the Gulf being hijacked by politics to help build someone’s career.
Today is the point in 2010 when the average woman’s wages finally catch up to her male counterpart’s salary from the prior year and the impetus for Blog For Fair Pay Day. The average pay gap between men and women in America is $10,662.00 and the theme for this year is “What would it mean if there weren’t a $10,662 wage gap?”
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed The Equal Pay Act making it illegal to pay women and men different wages for the same work. Fast forward to 2010 and that gap has still not closed. I’ve been working since the age of 16 with only a few months between then and now when I was unemployed. As a young married woman in the late ’70′s I wasn’t concerned with whether men were making more money than I, as a woman. I was too concerned with the day to day struggle of making my meager earnings stretch to cover my husbands and my living expenses while my husband finished college. We lived in a government subsidized apartment, I car-pooled to work with friends and we ate a lot of macaroni and cheese. Once my husband finished college, we moved to New Orleans where he began his career and our lives became financially and emotionally comfortable. But I know how fortunate I am and I know there are many, many women who still have to stretch their dollars eating lots of macaroni and cheese and many of them have children to raise and provide for as well. These are our sisters out there busting their butts trying to make a decent living wage for themselves and their children with little to no help from anyone else. Fighting for fair wages may be a luxury they can’t afford for now so it’s up to the rest of us to carry the torch for them.
On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the first act of Congress of his presidency, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Lilly Ledbetter amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stating 180-day limitation for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck, thereby ending the discrimination sanctioned by The Supreme Courts’ decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
A companion legislation, The Paycheck Fairness Act, passed the House in January 2009 and is currently in the Senate where it’s languishing. Here is a link where you can write your senators urging them to pass this important legislation.
Additionally, here is the 2008 American Community Survey of Men & Women’s Earnings By State which shows Louisiana women earned less than 75.4 percent of what men earned for that year.
All the stastistics in the world, though, cannot put a face to the thousands of women who are affected by the disparity in pay so for my blog post I decided to poll some of the hard-working women I know to find out how that extra $10,662.00 could be put to use in their lives.
I would personally use the extra money to create a savings and investing plan to double that number. I would take it as an opportunity to build wealth and work on other independent projects I have for the future.
Shercole’s websites: New Orleans Tech, Minority Weirdos, Good Nola
As a single mother, this is a significant question because such a pay increase means the absolute difference between being able to do things and not being able to do them, as I have no secondary male income to pick up the slack. I would:
#1 Get the neglected dental work done that I can’t afford, but that would hopefully be a one-time expense that would take up more than half of the increase. With the remainder, or in a dental work-free year, I would also
#2 Shop at places like Whole Foods, where I could and buy better quality food for myself and my kids without worrying so much about the cost.
#3 Take my kids on an actual vacation that’s not an evacuation. We haven’t had one in over 10 years.
#4 Take my kids out to dinner once in a while for something other than fast food, pizza or Chinese food and occasionally say yes when friends want me to join them out for a meal.
#5 Put some away so that maybe I could grow a little wealth and retire with fewer worries one day.
~~Lisa, Professor, University of New Orleans,and mother of two
Because I have pre-existing medical conditions, I am currently without health insurance. Due to the nature of my health problems, monthly doctor visits and prescriptions are required, being paid out-of-pocket on the salaries that my husband and I make. The additionally $10,662 would off-set my health care expenses, my monthly health care expenses, spending nearly $1000/month maintaining my health care needs. This would help my family tremendously, to meet our monthly living expenses and not only fulfill all of our needs, but perhaps some of our wants as well.
~~Amanda Mueller, independent journalist and human rights activist, married, one child
Amanda’s websites: Dateline Palestine , Je ne regrette rien
With $10,662 more a year I could have provided more for my children—simple things like health care and art programs. We would have had our own house because I wouldn’t have always been trying to scrimp pennies to get by. These days, with the damage the storm has done to all of our finances, I would have been better able to survive some of the ravishes and be in less debt. Now, all I do is struggle—like all my other women friends. Fortunately, like a lot of women, particularly single mothers, I am strong-willed and have managed to stay alive and continue moving forward. Both my children are college graduates; both graduated with honors; my son went on to get his Ph.D and my daughter chose to return to school for design. Of course, if I had that extra $10,662 a year I would not still be paying off her school loan for those first four years and I would have been able to help her get a better car. Being their mother’s children, they are strong-willed as well and are both successful young adults.
~~Valentine Pierce,Graphic Designer
two children, now adults
Valentine’s website: Poet Sense and Sensibilities, Valentine Pierce Designs – Graphics, Valentine Pierce Designs on Etsy
With an increase of over $10,000 in yearly income, I could easily improve my quality of life, especially in a city like New Orleans. That would give me the ability to upgrade to a better apartment without needing a roommate, and would also afford me the opportunity to obtain a more comprehensive health insurance plan. I’m okay most of the time, but I have little wiggle room in the event of an emergency. It’s difficult to feel comfortable day to day when you are aware of that. I also would be more comfortable increasing the amount of money I put into the creative projects I love doing, such as my pod cast.
~~Aura Shannon, Sales associate, Actress, Pod cast developer.
Aura’s Website: Backstage on the Bayou
Here is a list of bloggers participating in Equal Pay Day 2010.