I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to celebrate by sharing my 10 favorite pictures from the past five years. Given it’s a Friday wrapping up a long holiday week, I figured, “Why not?” Here we go!
1) The Eiffel Tower
I took this beauty in late November of 2009. It was drizzling, and I had to take a slow capture to get the light to glow like this. Fortunately the rain didn’t mess up lens too badly, and the shot turned out quite nicely! Taken with a Nikon D-90.
2) The First Presidential Tweet
I had the honor of attending the first presidential town hall, which was moderated by Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey. Somehow, I ended up in the first row on the side, and took this shot of Obama typing out the first presidential tweet. Taken with my Nikon, this shot has Jack reflected in the computer screen. It still gets used frequently in Obama blog posts across the web!
3) The Devil’s Horns
The centerpiece of the W Trail in Chilean Patagonia, the Devil’s Horns are viewed here from across Lake Pehoe at sunrise. This trail kicked my ass and is legendary for trying experienced hikers who attempt its courses in three or five days. Taken with the Nikon.
It has been six months since the height of public outrage about the Deep Horizon catastrophe and ensuing oil spill. Periodically, news bubbles up about potential lawsuits against BP and partners, but for the most part, the media has moved on to more current pastures. Meanwhile the damage left behind still ravages the Gulf Coast environs and economy.
Meanwhile economic relief efforts seem to be hitting some walls. While tourist centric business like casinos located far away from Gulf shores are getting Gulf Coast Claims approved by the government, fishermen are being denied after one of the worst shrimping seasons every recorded. These fisherman fall into four classes:
Small vocal number who have presented Feinberg with strong documentation.
A much larger group that has been paid, but far less than their emergency claims called for.
Another group of more than 30,000 claimants, led by an organized Vietnamese contingent in Louisiana.
Thousands who can’t produce enough documentation to satisfy the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
No one asked BP to negligently contract and manage the operation of the oil Deep Horizon rig and its ensuing damage. Regardless of how the government and BP spin it, Americans, and the global environment will suffer for years to come.
If you would like to take action to help the fishing families of New Orleans, please consider Citizen Effect’s CitizenGulf project. Money goes to provide fishing children after school education programs.
The Citizen Effect Gulf Mission team sat down yesterday with Natalie A. Jayroe, president and CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans (serving 23 south Louisiana parishes). Our ongoing goal remains finding an actionable way for Americans to take positive mindful ways to act in the wake of the Deep Horizon disaster.
Jayroe told us her view of how the fishing families of Louisiana have been affected by the oil spill. The following post is based from that conversation.
There is nothing finite right now on how to handle the post oil spill economy. One step forward has yet to be determined. There are 49,000 Louisianans that have fishing licenses, and in all 150,000 people are affected immediately. The oil drilling moratorium has put another 40,000 people out of work.
The secondary and tertiary circles of job loss have yet to be felt in the Gulf. The ripple effect could be huge. The local economy is tourism and oil, so both of the big economic drivers of the state have been challenged.
Fishing is an up and down business. The fishing families of Louisiana are traditional and self sufficient, and do not gladly take government benefits. Fishing families take advantage of federal benefits at a rate 10-20% lower than the rest of the state. They don’t accept help readily. They don’t like case work. They just want to go back to work.
Five or six generations of fishing families live by the tides. When this is taken away from them, there is little chance to take on a new career.
Their next job opportunity is often oil rigs. So they are less likely to take swipes at BP, it’s a huge part of their economy.
The fishing families think about how they are going to get through this today and tomorrow. Most of them are still trying to keep the oil off the shores. They liken it to fighting a war, and hope they will be able to shrimp next year. If there’s a way to survive they will do it. They are about subsistence and survival, and they will what they have to live with the land.
To create that next generation of sustenance income would require the community to take on a lot of education work. You would need to do a lot of front line activity with the community to evolve. They would need to band together. Given the fiercely independent culture of the fishing families here, it’s a dubious outcome…
Second Harvest knows this issue will continue a long time after the oil spill is capped. It could take years. The organization estimates that more than 47,500 fishing homes may eventually require food assistance as a result of the Gulf oil spill.
Because it’s not a national disaster declared by the President, federal food commodities (via disaster SNAP) can’t be given out.Fact Check: Louisiana Department of Social Services. If Obama declares the oil spill a National Disaster, BP would no longer be liable. The bailout fund is not necessarily going to benefit the Gulf directly. That means disaster resources are not making it to the Louisiana parishes today.
The organization has already provided 200,000 meals through disaster relief sites in the impacted areas since May 1. The demand is making a direct impact on Second Harvest’s stores before hurricane season, stretching their resources. BP has paid the organization $350,000 to replace these recources.
Second Harvest Food bank became the largest foodbank in history following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The foodbank distributed 8 million pounds of food in September 2005 alone.
Our mission has grand hopes. We don’t just want to engage in Citizen journalism. We want to provide a means for Americans across the country to act in a mindful, impactful way. The above 2 minute video details our line of thinking.
Wow! The spin war has begun in earnest. And who loses? The Gulf community and environment, and the American taxpayer. The Deep Horizon incident is quickly becoming the greatest eco-disaster in modern history. And instead of focusing on useful actions, Obama seems bent on spinning BP as the villain.
No Need to Kick. BP Is Already Down.
BP’s shoddy PR and poor actions has done enough to vilify the company, at this point. Obama and the Democrats are sacrificing the company for public opinion points. We need leadership, not PR.
As to claims that BP’s profits should be stripped, please. The company has lost 1/3 of its market cap. Isn’t that enough? We need BP employees feeling like they have a job to do (plug well, refine oil, etc.). We need this company still for fuel because we don’t have a clean energy economy yet.
Let’s be clear: BP has owned responsibility and has maintained that it will pay the necessary financial damages. There is a lawsuit being actively explored to hold criminal offenders accountable. What else do people want?
Yes, BP PR and execs need the watchdogs, and if you read me you know I am one of those watchdogs. In fact it seems everyone is one of them now. I hardly see how BP will be able to get away with anything.
How will destroying the entire company like this help? I don’t see how putting 90,000 more people out of work helps the 10,000 fisherman who will lose their jobs. I don’t understand how killing their clean energy programs — fueled by their profits and market cap — will help us become an oil free economy. That’s what you do when you stop shareholder payouts.
What Needs to Happen
Chest beating and mindless witch hunting will only hurt all of us. We need to channel our anger towards both the government and BP and hold them to the task at hand. Specifically, protect unpoisoned Gulf waters, clean poisoned Gulf beaches and waters as best we can, plug the leak, and finally, activate citizen volunteers.
Obama needs to do a better job getting a capable command and communications structure in place to clean up the Gulf. BP is not an environmental clean up company, nor do they defend shores from danger. Last I checked that was the Coast Guard, EPA and U.S. Navy’s job. BP is an energy company that drills and refines oil. Why are they being asked to handle clean-up? Let the military do it and hand BP the bill.
Obama needs to ensure not only communications, but that the DoJ investigation holds his own administration accountable, too. For surely, some EPA/MMS employees broke the law, too. Speaking of, has the Obama Administration been checking on the safety of all the other off-shore sites? What’s the status on other active oil platforms?
The president needs to activate citizens to help, because we are angry and feel powerless. Some folks, like the video featuring the farmers above, have stopped waiting for Obama and BP to get the public engaged, and started acting on their own (See my Mashable article on four ways to clean-up the Gulf using social media). What happened to “Yes, We Can?” Heck, how about taking some of the 10% of unemployed Americans and paying them to clean up, then giving the bill to BP?
BP needs to be quiet about whether or not oil plumes exist, whether or not 10-20k barrels a day are spilling, and simply focus on getting the leak filled. There’s no further advantage to be gained by trying to minimize public perception of how bad this is. Instead, let the facts tell the story, fix the well, and simply focus on being supportive to all clean-up, DoJ and scientific efforts. Ethical, factual communications are the only way out for BP.
No elected official should take pot shots at oil company profits without first disclosing how much oil money they have in their campaign war chest. In the words of Ben Franklin, “Clean your finger before you point at my spots.” Congress and the administration need to get big corporate dollars out of their pockets and reform themselves if they want anyone to take them seriously.
Enough BS and spin about who is to blame. Let the DoJ investigation figure that out. We all need to mindfully address the Herculean problems Deep Horizon presents with solution-oriented actions.