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Monday, July 26, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg describes Afghan war logs as on a par with 'Pentagon Papers'

Former US military analyst leaked documents in 1971 revealing how the American public was misled about the Vietnam war

By Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian
July 27, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg, a former US military analyst, has described the disclosure of the Afghan war logs as on the scale of his leaking of the "Pentagon Papers" in 1971 revealing how the US public was misled about the Vietnam war.

"An outrageous escalation of the war is taking place," he said. "Look at these cables and see if they give anybody the occasion to say the answer is 'resources''. He added: "After $300bn and 10 years, the Taliban is stronger than they have ever been … We are recruiting for them."

However, the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers on Afghanistan – top secret papers relating to policy – had yet to be leaked, he said.

People could read the logs to discover what they now need to ask, such as what their money was being spent on, he said. They would have an effect on public opinion, but the question, Ellsberg said, was how they would influence the US and UK governments.

He compared them to the document leaked in 2003 by the GCHQ officer, Katharine Gun, which revealed how the US asked Britain to spy on neutral countries at the UN before the invasion of Iraq. The disclosure influenced the attitude of the neutral countries who refused to vote for the invasion.


US Senate deals blow to global climate talks

by Shaun Tandon & Emmanuel Parisse
Sydney Morning Herald
July 24, 2010

A year and a half after President Barack Obama breathed new life into global talks on a climate treaty, the United States is back in a familiar role -- the holdout.

The Senate's decision Thursday to shelve legislation on climate change is certain to cast a long shadow over December's meeting in Cancun, Mexico that will work on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Obama's Democratic allies acknowledged they lacked votes to approve the first-ever US plan restricting carbon emissions blamed for global warming. The task is unlikely to get easier soon, with Democrats facing tight congressional elections in November.

"This is going to change the mood dramatically in terms of what countries are willing to put on the table in Cancun," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which backs action to curb global warming.

"This will seriously downplay what we can realistically achieve."

Obama vowed to act on climate change when he was elected president, sharply reversing course from his predecessor George W. Bush, who was a sworn foe of the Kyoto Protocol, which he considered biased against wealthier countries.

Obama's climate negotiators enjoyed rousing welcomes when they arrived on the scene -- especially from the European Union, Kyoto's most enthusiastic champion.

The State Department, which leads international negotiations, said the Obama administration still considered climate a "priority" and would engage with other countries and with Congress.

"This is a global challenge and we have to resolve it through global cooperation and joint action by all of the key countries and key emitters. We are one of them," agency spokesman Philip Crowley said.

"And central to our ability to do our part is passing climate and energy legislation."

The clock is ticking on sealing a new treaty, with the Kyoto Protocol's obligations for rich nations to cut emissions expiring at the end of 2012.

Climate talks, including the contentious Copenhagen summit in December, have been plagued by fighting between wealthy and developing nations, which are both looking for clear commitments from the other side.

Major emerging nations have resisted any legally binding requirements to cut emissions and pressed first for industrialized powers to seal their commitments.

"Countries like China and India are not likely to commit to any sort of binding obligation if the US is not part of the discussion, part of the negotiation and makes some similar commitment," said Daniel Fiorino, an expert on environmental politics at American University.

While the United States may be the most visible holdout, other major developed nations have also grappled with controversy on climate change, a major issue ahead of Australia's August 21 elections.

Arabinda Mishra, a climate expert at India's Energy and Resources Institute, said the lack of an international treaty "has a real danger in domestic will" in his country to invest political capital on fighting global warming.

The Obama administration has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon, potentially offering a way to meet US promises at Copenhagen to curb emissions by 17 percent by 2020 off 2005 levels.

But without Senate action, it would be difficult for the United States to meet another promise -- to contribute, along with the European Union, Japan and other rich nations, to a 100 billion-dollar fund to help poor nations cope with climate change.

Climate legislation was passed by the House of Representatives last year, but Republican lawmakers have strongly opposed it, rejecting Obama's arguments that a green economy would create jobs.

"We're still facing a very weak economy and we're still facing questions on the cost of any meaningful reduction," said Ben Lieberman, an energy expert at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think-tank.

"It's pretty clear that no post-Kyoto treaty is in the making -- certainly not in Cancun, and maybe not ever."

© 2010 AFP
This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Animal Autopsies in Gulf Yield a Mystery as Gulf Wildlife Dies

The New York Times
July 14, 2010

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle lay belly-up on the metal autopsy table, as pallid as split-pea soup but for the bright orange X spray-painted on its shell, proof that it had been counted as part of the Gulf of Mexico’s continuing “unusual mortality event.”

Under the practiced knife of Dr. Brian Stacy, a veterinary pathologist who estimates that he has dissected close to 1,000 turtles over the course of his career, the specimen began to reveal its secrets: First, as the breastplate was lifted away, a mass of shriveled organs in the puddle of stinking red liquid that is produced as decomposition advances. Next, the fat reserves indicating good health. Then, as Dr. Stacy sliced open the esophagus, the most revealing clue: a morsel of shrimp, the last thing the turtle ate.

“You don’t see shrimp consumed as part of the normal diet” of Kemp’s ridleys, Dr. Stacy said.

This turtle, found floating in the Mississippi Sound on June 18, is one of hundreds of dead creatures collected along the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Swabbed for oil, tagged and wrapped in plastic “body bags” sealed with evidence tape, the carcasses — many times the number normally found at this time of year — are piling up in freezer trucks stationed along the coast, waiting for scientists like Dr. Stacy, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to begin the process of determining what killed them.

Despite an obvious suspect, oil, the answer is far from clear. The vast majority of the dead animals that have been found — 1,866 birds, 463 turtles, 59 dolphins and one sperm whale — show no visible signs of oil contamination. Much of the evidence in the turtle cases points, in fact, to shrimping or other commercial fishing, but other suspects include oil fumes, oiled food, the dispersants used to break up the oil or even disease.

The efforts to finger a culprit — or culprits — amount to a vast investigation the likes of which “CSI” has never seen. The trail of evidence leads from marine patrols in Mississippi, where more than half the dead turtles have been found, to a toxicology lab in Lubbock, Tex., to this animal autopsy room at the University of Florida in Gainesville. And instead of the fingerprint analysis and security camera video used in human homicides, the veterinary detectives are relying on shrimp boat data recorders and chromatographic spectrum analysis that can tell if the oil residue found in an animal has the same “chemical signature” as BP crude.

The outcome will help determine how many millions BP will pay in civil and criminal penalties — which are far higher for endangered animals like sea turtles — and provide a wealth of information about the little-known effects of oil on protected species in the Gulf.

“It is terribly important to know, in the big scheme of things, why something died,” said Moby Solangi, the director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., where the initial turtle necropsies and some dolphin necropsies were performed.

We might be doing what we can to address the issues of today and manage the risk,” he said. “But for tomorrow, we need to know what actually happened.”

Searching for a Smoking Gun

In a laboratory at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jennifer Cole, a graduate student, was slicing a precious chunk of living dolphin tissue into 0.3-millimeter sections.

Supervised by Céline Godard-Codding, an endangered species toxicologist, Ms. Cole was studying cytochrome P450 1A1, an enzyme that breaks down hydrocarbons.

Tissue samples are one of the only ways to learn more about poisonous substances in marine mammals and sea turtles, whose protected status limits the type of studies that can be done — researchers cannot do experiments to determine how much oil exposure the animals can withstand.

Oil — inhaled or ingested — can cause brain lesions, pneumonia, kidney damage, stress and death. Scientists working on the BP spill have seen oil-mired animals that are suffering from extreme exhaustion and hyperthermia, with the floating crude reaching temperatures above 130 degrees, Dr. Stacy said.

Far less is known about the effects of dispersants, either by themselves or mixed with oil, though almost two million gallons of the chemicals have been used in the BP spill.

Studies show that dispersants, which break down oil into tiny droplets and can also break down cell membranes, make oil more toxic for some animals, like baby birds. And the solvents they contain can break down red blood cells, causing hemorrhaging. At least one fresh dolphin carcass found in the Gulf was bleeding from the mouth and blowhole, according to Lori Deangelis, a dolphin tour operator in Perdido Bay.

Investigators plan to take skin and mouth swabs, stomach contents, slices of organ tissue and vials of bile from animals that have died and test them for disease and hydrocarbons, as well as for dispersants, before a final report on the cause of death is written. But no samples have yet been sent to labs, because scientists are still evaluating what type of tests will prove most useful.

Jacqueline Savitz, a marine biologist with Oceana, an ocean conservation group, said there was no excuse for any delay in testing.

“It’s absolutely urgent that it should be done immediately,” she said, because the findings could influence response measures like BP’s experimental use of dispersants underwater.

In the meantime, at places like the Texas Tech institute, the oil spill has set off a mad scramble to fill in the gaps in knowledge. In one laboratory, jars of BP crude in various stages of weathering await analysis to determine their relative toxicity. In another lab, graduate students paint precise amounts of oil on incubating duck eggs. Tanks of fiddler crabs awaited a shipment of Corexit 9500, the dispersant being used by BP in the Gulf.

In the end, Dr. Godard-Codding said, scientists will not find a single smoking gun. The evidence — results of laboratory tests, population counts, assessments of how well oil-drenched animals survive after rehabilitation — will all be circumstantial.

Suspicions Fall on Shrimpers

When Lt. Donald Armes of the Mississippi Marine Patrol heard about the rash of dead sea turtles littering the state’s shores, his first thought was not of oil but of shrimp boats.

“Right off the bat, you figure somebody’s gear was wrong,” he said recently, after patrolling for shrimpers in the Mississippi Sound, a few days before floating islands of oil forced officials to close it. By gear, Lieutenant Armes meant turtle excluder devices, which shrimp trawlers are supposed to have. Without them, trawls can be one of the biggest dangers for turtles, which can get trapped in the nets and drown. The devices provide an escape hatch. Another kind of shrimp net, called a skimmer, is not required to have an excluder device — instead, the length of time the skimmers can be dragged is limited by law to give trapped turtles a chance to come up for air.

When shrimp season began in Mississippi on June 3, the marine patrol inspected all the boats and found no violations involving the excluders, Lieutenant Armes said. But on June 6, 12 dead turtles were found in Mississippi in a single day. Similar spikes have occurred when parts of Louisiana waters were opened to shrimpers, and since most of the waters in the spill area have closed, the turtle deaths have subsided.

Shrimpers emerged as a prime suspect in the NOAA investigation when, after a round of turtle necropsies in early May, Dr. Stacy announced that more than half the carcasses had sediment in the airways or lungs — evidence of drowning. The only plausible explanation for such a high number of drowning deaths, he said, was, as he put it, “fisheries interaction.”

Environmentalists saw the findings as confirmation of their suspicions that shrimpers, taking advantage of the fact that the Coast Guard and other inspectors were busy with the oil spill, had disabled their turtle excluder devices.

The devices are so contentious that Louisiana law has long forbidden its wildlife and fisheries agents to enforce federal regulations on the devices. Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation that would have finally lifted the ban, citing the “challenges and issues currently facing our fishermen.” By contrast, Mississippi officials strengthened turtle protections by decreasing the allowable tow time for skimmers, posting observers on boats, and sending out pamphlets on turtle resuscitation.

Officials in both states say that turtles die in shrimp season even when shrimpers follow the law, from boat strikes and other accidents. They also say there have been far fewer shrimpers working since the spill, in part because many have hired out their boats to BP. That should mean fewer, not more, turtle deaths.

But there has also been illegal activity. In Louisiana, agents have seized more than 20,000 pounds of shrimp and issued more than 350 citations to commercial fishermen working in waters closed because of the oil spill.

In Mississippi in June, three skimmer boats were caught exceeding legal tow times — one just hours after the shrimper had been given a handout explaining that the maximum time had been reduced, Lieutenant Armes said.

As for the piece of shrimp that Dr. Stacy found lodged in the turtle’s throat during the necropsy, it, too, pointed to shrimpers. A turtle is normally not quick enough to catch shrimp, Dr. Stacy said. Unless, of course, it is caught in a net with them.

Diagnosing Difficulties

In the necropsy lab in Gainesville, Dr. Stacy was slitting open the turtle’s delicate windpipe, looking for traces of sediment, a tell-tale sign of drowning. He finds none there, so he examines a crinkled papery membrane barely recognizable as lungs. Nothing.

“Drowning can be a difficult diagnosis,” he said. He has requested data that will show the level of commercial fishing in the area. But, he cautioned, “A lot of times our evidence is fairly indirect.”

In a sense, the necropsies so far have posed more questions than answers, demonstrating how oil has become just another variable in an already complex ecosystem. Late in June, a dolphin examined at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport showed signs of emaciation, but its belly was full of fish, suggesting that it may have gorged itself after a period of difficulty finding food.

Another dolphin, its ribs broken, was hit by a boat, a catastrophe that dolphins are normally nimble enough to avoid. The veterinarian, Dr. Connie Chevis, found a tarlike substance in the dolphin’s throat. The substance will be analyzed to see if it is oil, but one theory is that the animal could have been disoriented by oil exposure, which can have a narcotic effect, rendering it incapable of avoiding a boat strike. Ms. Deangelis said the dolphins on her recent tours have been “acting like they’ve had three martinis.”

The results raise questions about oil’s indirect effects. Is crude, for example, responsible for what anecdotal reports say is a steep increase in turtles in Mississippi and Louisiana waters? The population of Kemp’s ridleys has been rebounding thanks to years of protective measures. But some scientists have speculated that the spill is driving wildlife toward the coast, crowding areas where there is more boat traffic and setting the stage for fatal accidents.

In a normal year, one or two turtles might get snagged on the hooks of recreational fishermen at the piers.

Now, the marine mammal institute in Gulfport is caring for 30 such turtles, a possible indication that they are desperate for food. In recent weeks, Dr. Chevis said, she has begun to see elevated white blood cell counts and signs of pneumonia in rescued turtles, both of which are symptoms of oil exposure, but could easily have other explanations.

In Gainesville, Dr. Stacy returned the jumbled remains of the turtle that ate the shrimp to its plastic wrapper and sent it back to the freezer. There, it will be stored indefinitely, just one piece of evidence among thousands.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

BP Texas Refinery Had Huge Toxic Release Just Before Gulf Blowout

by Ryan Knutson
July 2, 2010

This story is part of an ongoing collaboration between ProPublica and FRONTLINE (PBS).

Two weeks before the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the huge, trouble-plagued BP refinery [1] in this coastal town spewed tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the skies.
The release from the BP facility here began April 6 and lasted 40 days [2]. It stemmed from the company's decision to keep producing and selling gasoline while it attempted repairs on a key piece of equipment, according to BP officials and Texas regulators.

BP says it failed to detect the extent of the emissions for several weeks. It discovered the scope of the problem only after analyzing data from a monitor that measures emissions from a flare 300 feet above the ground that was supposed to incinerate the toxic chemicals.

The company now estimates that 538,000 pounds of chemicals escaped from the refinery while it was replacing the equipment. These included 17,000 pounds of benzene, a known carcinogen; 37,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to respiratory problems; and 186,000 pounds of carbon monoxide.

It is unclear whether the pollutants harmed the health of Texas City residents, but the amount of chemicals far exceeds the limits set by Texas and other states.

For years, the BP refinery in this town of 44,000 has been among the company's most dangerous and pollution-prone operations. A 2005 explosion killed 15 workers [1]; four more workers have died in accidents since then. Last year, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $87 million for failing to address safety problems that caused the 2005 blast.

In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf, BP has insisted that the incident, the nation's worst environmental disaster, was a disastrous but unusual misstep for a company that has done much in recent years to change its ways.

But a look at BP's record in running the Texas City refinery adds to the mounting evidence that the company's corporate culture favors production and profit margins over safety and the environment. The 40-day release echoes in several notable ways the runaway spill in the Gulf. BP officials initially underestimated the problem and took steps in the days leading up to the incident to reduce costs and keep the refinery online.

Former workers and industry experts say BP's handling of the recent release of chemicals was typical of the plant's and company's operating practices.

The 40-day emissions were initially reported [3] by the Daily News of Galveston, Texas, but received little national attention.

The unit was never completely shut down, and if it would have been, the event probably would have received more attention. Any reduction in production for even as little as 24 hours is considered sufficiently important to be reported in the financial press to investors and others.

Michael Marr, a BP spokesman, said the company had invested more than $1 billion since 2005 to improve the refinery.

Marr said BP initially monitored the emissions using a method approved by Texas regulators. It did not show any release in "excess of regulatory exposure limits to workers or the community during anytime." Using what Marr described as a method that "enables us to better understand the unit's emissions," BP found the much higher rate of release and notified Texas regulators on June 4.

Environmental experts say the amount of chemicals released was one of the largest in recent Texas history.
"This was a giant release over that 40-day period," said Neil Carman, who worked for the regulators for 12 years before joining the Sierra Club. "Even 50,000 pounds is big."

Carman said a study he performed showed the BP Texas City Refinery was already releasing more benzene into the atmosphere than any other place in the U.S. from 1997 to 2007.

BP spokesman Marr says the refinery's 2009 emissions dropped 20 percent from 2008, including a 50 percent drop in benzene emissions. BP had also invested in onsite chemical treatment to reduce emissions, Marr said.

"I would already argue that there's too much benzene in the air in Texas City," Carman said, "and then you add this release over 40 days, and it's just unconscionable that BP would do this."

Officials in Texas City, who were not informed of the scale of the release until after it was over, have asked BP to explain how this could have occurred. Marr said the company is now reviewing its procedures.

"I'm like, 'Oh goodness,'" Bruce Clawson, Texas City's coordinator for emergency management, recalls thinking when BP notified him about the release. "I had a lot of questions and they didn't have a lot of answers at that time."

Clawson said he is not yet satisfied. "Obviously, we do not like anything to be released," he said. "We expect better from them."

Marr said the incident began on April 6 when a component of the refinery's ultracracker went offline. The ultracracker, an integral part of the plant's processing of crude oil into gasoline and other petroleum products, processes 65,000 barrels of oil per day. A financial analyst who follows the industry said that each barrel should earn BP $5 to $10 in profits.

The part that malfunctioned, a hydrogen compressor, traps noxious chemicals, which can then be reused for fuel in the plant and other purposes. When the compressor stopped working, BP decided to send the gases to a 300-foot high flare, whose high temperatures turn the dangerous material into carbon dioxide.

The company knew that the burning process was incomplete and that at least trace amounts would escape. Marr said BP believed the plant's existing monitors, which are placed just a few feet above the ground level and approved by Texas regulators, would detect any excess emissions.

According to Marr, BP immediately also received measurements from a separate monitor that took readings from the flare. It was not until June 4, he said, that the company understood that the emissions were far higher than was permitted.

Despite repeated requests for clarification, Marr declined to say how long the company spent analyzing the data from the flare.

Industry experts say BP had reason to believe from the outset that emissions from the flare would be substantial.

Widely circulated industry guidelines assume that at least 2 percent of what is sent to a flare goes unburned and passes into the atmosphere. Because such large quantities of gas move through a refinery, this can amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

Carman of the Sierra Club says that flares also may be substantially less efficient than the industry believes. He said studies have shown that as much as 20 percent of what is sent to flares is released into the atmosphere.

"A 20 percent release from the flare would equal 5 million pounds and the benzene would have been 170,000 pounds," said Carman.

California regulators said that couldn't happen there. In Contra Costa County, home to several refineries, flares are to be used to handle chemical releases only in emergency situations, not regular operations.

"Refineries aren't allowed to do that in the Bay Area," said Randy Sawyer, the director of the hazardous materials programs in Contra Costa County. "If you have an upset and you need to get rid of gases in a hurry, you can send it to a flare. But if you continue to operate and dump a lot of stuff to a flare, that's not what they were designed for and it adds to pollution." California requires refineries to keep backup hydrogen compressors on hand and it stations regulators at the plants who are alert for any unscheduled flaring.

Last year, the Texas Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit [4] against BP for “poor operating and maintenance practices’’ that caused an “egregious amount of emissions.”

That case cited 53 separate incidents that, taken together, are roughly equal to the 538,000 pounds BP calculates it released over the 40 days this year.

If BP had shut down the ultracracker, it would have lacked a key component needed to create gasoline suitable for its customers, said Mark Demark, the department chair of process technology at Alvin Community College.

"It's a big deal to shut the ultracracker down," he said. "It's operating at two to three thousand pounds of pressure, 700 degrees Farenheit; so it would take you a week just to cool that place down."

Demark, who worked for Shell for 33 years, said if he had been faced with that choice, he would probably have halted operations.

"Just from a public relations standpoint, for 40 days to have a flare going, you have to be really inconsiderate to your community," he said.


Sunday, July 04, 2010

First Amendment suspended in the Gulf of Mexico as spill cover-up goes Orwellian

by Mike Adams
The Health Ranger
NaturalNews Editor

As CNN is now reporting, the U.S. government has issued a new rule that would make it a felony crime for any journalist, reporter, blogger or photographer to approach any oil cleanup operation, equipment or vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone caught is subject to arrest, a $40,000 fine and prosecution for a federal felony crime.

CNN reporter Anderson Cooper says, "A new law passed today, and back by the force of law and the threat of fines and felony charges, ... will prevent reporters and photographers from getting anywhere close to booms and oil-soaked wildlife just about any place we need to be. By now you're probably familiar with cleanup crews stiff-arming the media, private security blocking cameras, ordinary workers clamming up, some not even saying who they're working for because they're afraid of losing their jobs."

Watch the video clip yourself at NaturalNews.TV:

The rule, of course, is designed to restrict the media's access to cleanup operations in order to keep images of oil-covered seabirds off the nation's televisions. With this, the Gulf Coast cleanup operation has now entered a weird Orwellian reality where the news is shaped, censored and controlled by the government in order to prevent the public from learning the truth about what's really happening in the Gulf.

The war is on to control your mind

If all this sounds familiar, it's because the U.S. government uses this same tactic during every war. The first casualty of war, as they say, is the truth. There are lots of war images the government doesn't want you to see (like military helicopter pilots shooting up Reuters photographers while screaming "Yee-Haw!" over the comm radios), and there are other images they do want you to see ("surgical strike" explosions from "smart" bombs, which makes it seem like the military is doing something useful). So war reporting is carefully monopolized by the government to deliver precisely the images they want you to see while censoring everything else.

Now the same Big Brother approach is being used in the Gulf of Mexico: Criminalize journalists, censor the story and try to keep the American people ignorant of what's really happening. It's just the latest tactic from a government that no longer even recognizes the U.S. Constitution or its Bill of Rights. Because the very first right is Freedom of Speech, which absolutely includes the right to walk onto a public beach and take photographs of something happening out in the open, on public waters. It is one of the most basic rights of our citizens and our press.

But now the Obama administration has stripped away those rights, transforming journalists into criminals. Now, we might expect something like this from Chavez, or Castro or even the communist leaders of China, but here in the United States, we've all been promised we lived in "the land of the free." Obama apparently does not subscribe to that philosophy anymore (if he ever did).

So how does criminalizing journalists equate to "land of the free?" It doesn't, obviously. Forget freedom. (Your government already has.) This is about controlling your mind to make sure you don't visually see the truth of what the oil industry has done to your oceans, your shorelines and your beaches. This is all about keeping you ignorant with a total media blackout of the real story of what's happening in the Gulf.

The real story, you see, is just too ugly. And the government has fracked up the cleanup effort to such a ridiculous extent that instead of the "transparency" they once promised, they're now resorting to the threat of arrest for all journalists who try to get close enough to cover the story.

Yes, this is happening right now in America. This isn't a hoax. I know, it sounds more like something you might hear about in Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela or some other nation run by dictators. But now it's happening right here in the USA.

As Anderson Cooper reported on CNN:

"Now the government is getting in on the act. Despite what Admiral Thad Allen promised about transparency just nearly a month ago.

Thad Allen: "The media will have uninhibited access anywhere we're doing operations..."

Anderson Cooper: The Coast Guard today announced new rules keeping photographers, reporters and anyone else from coming with 65 feet of any response vessel or booms out on the water or on beaches. What this means is that oil-soaked birds on an island surrounded by a boom, you can't get close enough to take that picture. Shot of oil on beaches with booms? Stay 65 feet away. Pictures of oil-soaked booms uselessly laying in the water because they haven't been collected like they should? You can't get close enough to see that. Believe me, that is out there. But you only know that if you get close to it, and now you can't without permission. Violators could face a fine of $40,000 and Class D felony charges."

See the video yourself at:

Welcome to the (censored) club

All I can say to CNN is: Welcome to the club! This kind of censorship, intimidation and tyranny has been going on for decades in the field of health, where the Orwellian FDA has treated the entire U.S. public to a nationwide blackout on truthful health information about healing foods and nutritional supplements. CNN has never covered that story, by the way. Most of the mainstream media has, in fact, gone right along with censorship of truthful health information by the FDA and FTC.

Now they're suddenly crying wolf. But where was the media when the FDA was raiding nutritional supplement companies and arresting people who dared to sell healing foods with honest descriptions about how they might help protect your health? The media went right along with the cover-up and never bothered to even tell its viewers a cover-up was taking place.

You see, even CNN is willing to tolerate some Orwellian censorship, as long as its advertisers are okay with it. The only reason they're talking about censorship in the Gulf of Mexico right now is because oil companies don't influence enough of their advertising budget to yank the story.

Censorship is not okay in a free society

I like the fact that CNN is finding the courage to speak up now about this censorship in the Gulf, but I wish they wouldn't stay silent on the other media blackouts in which they have long participated. Media censorship is bad for any nation, and it should be challenged regardless of the topic at hand. When the media is not allowed to report the truth on a subject -- any subject! -- the nation suffers some loss as a result.

Without the light of media scrutiny, corporations and government will get away with unimaginable crimes against both humanity and nature. That's what's happening right now in the Gulf of Mexico: A crime against nature.

Obama doesn't want you to see that crime. He's covering it up to the benefit of BP. He's keeping you in the dark by threatening reporters and photographers with arrest. How's that for "total transparency?"

The only thing transparent here is that President Barack Obama has violated his own oath of office by refusing to defend the Constitution. By any honest measure, in fact, these actions, which are endorsed by the White House, stand in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. And that means this new censorship rule in the Gulf, which suspends the First Amendment, is unconstitutional. It also means those who decided on this rule are enemies of freedom.

They are the ones who should be arrested and hauled off to federal prison, not the CNN reporters who are trying to cover this story.

The seeds of tyranny

The loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico isn't the only catastrophe taking place here, you see: Now we're losing our freedoms while our government tries to intentionally blind us all from the truth of what's happening on our own public beaches.

When those who seek truth are branded criminals by the government, it is only a matter of time before that government expands its criminalization labeling to include anyone who disagrees with it. These are the seeds of tyranny, and Obama is planting them at your doorstep right now.

What BP did to the Gulf Coast, Obama is now doing to your freedom.