Monday, May 31, 2010

BP's Tony Hayward: Hospitalized dispersant workers are suffering from "food poisoning"

Posted By on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 8:09 PM

This week, at least nine men working with BP's Corexit dispersant were taken from the coastal cleanup site -- some by helicopter -- to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, where they complained of various respiratory ailments, including shortness of breath and nosebleeds. Yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward proffered a unique explanation for their ailments; the men were suffering from food poisoning:

Corexit, a dispersant, is being sprayed into the Gulf to break down the oil. The safety data information sheet from the manufacturer states that people should "avoid breathing in vapor" from Corexit, and that masks should be work when Corexit is present in certain concentrations in the air.

BP has not supplied workers with masks when they work near the oil and dispersants. ...

Tony Hayward, the chief executive officer of BP, offered another explanation for the fishermen's illness: spoiled food.

"Food poisoning is clearly a big issue," Hayward said Sunday. "It's something we've got to be very mindful of. It's one of the big issues of keeping the Army operating. You know, the Army marches on their stomachs."

An expert on foodborne illness cast doubt on Hayward's theory.

"Headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds -- there's nothing there that suggests foodborne illness," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "I don't know what these people have, but it sounds more like a respiratory illness."

This is the warning label on Corexit (as taken from Yobie Benjamin's blog on the San Francisco Chronicle website):

corexit

The federal government assures us that cleanup workers are covered by OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard:

Workers involved at the oil spill cleanup sites are covered by OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard (1910.120 and 1926.65). This standard requires that workers be provided protective equipment and special training by specially trained personnel who have received extensive training. ...

Safe work practices and personal protective equipment (e.g., oil-resistant gloves, boots, coveralls, and safety glasses) should protect oil spill response and cleanup workers. These precautions need to fit the hazards of the job. Because of this, employers need to evaluate each job; decide what the hazards are; use safe work practices; provide workers with the right protective equipment; and train workers about the job, hazards, and required protections. Workers have the right to be trained about the hazards they may face and how to protect themselves from harm.

Nothing in the OSHA standards about food poisoning.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

BP oilspill protest draws hundreds to French Quarter

Posted By on Sun, May 30, 2010 at 11:58 PM

Hundreds of New Orleanians gathered in Washington Artillery Park adjacent to the French Quarter on Sunday afternoon to express their outrage over the response to the ongoing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The target of most of their frustration was BP, the oil giant that had said that morning the oil volcano under the Gulf of Mexico may not be capped until August -- but there was also plenty of invective directed against the federal government, which many of the speakers felt was bowing to the demands of BP rather than taking charge of the situation and telling BP what to do. The protest was staged by Murdered Gulf, an ad hoc group which sprang up to organize the protest and has compiled a list of demands -- and ways citizens can help -- on its website.

Alex Woodward's recap is in the post below this one, and here are some photos from the protest. For others, check out WWL-TV's gallery or this Flickr set by Gambit reader boxchain.

bp crowd

Continue reading »

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"Brass Balls Not Tar Balls"

Posted By on Sun, May 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM

(from a sign held by John "Spud" McConnell)

In the face of BP's oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the weeks (now months) following the rig explosion and the deaths of 11 rig workers, everyone and everything are targets. Today, organizers for the BP Oil Flood Protest gave New Orleans a voice and a focus so its residents and the people of the Gulf coast do not remain hopeless against the powers that be. Hundreds gathered in the Jackson Square amphitheater and endured the rain. There were calls to action: write your representatives, demand action on all levels of government, invest in renewable energies, boycott, reduce your carbon footprint, volunteer. And then there was the collective voice — whether it was a release of anger and frustration, an inspiring voice, or an education. Those voices ranged form Dr. John, Treme star Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, fishermen, nonprofit organizations, and locals with big enough voices to ring out in the crowd, over a brass band and the surreal irony of a steamboat calliope pumping out patriotic hymns. "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore" was embraced as the de facto chant.

"Louisiana did not land on BP," Leblanc said. "BP landed on Louisiana. ... Together we stand or divided we fall. We have to stand together and bring their asses down."

Lisa Gautier with Matter of Trust noted the the Gulf coast's international aid and support — from volunteers in New Zealand in Australia to across Europe and South America. Even Hooters, Hanes and Broadway musicals have pitched in. Gautier also made the organization's intentions loud and clear, despite BP's ongoing refusal to cooperate with the program. "Not going to name names, but they said the synthetic booms are superior and they float better. 'Hm, let's test.' And we did. ... You can all decide for yourselves."

Heather Glass with the similarly minded Oil Hair Project said the organization is calling for volunteers and giving potential volunteers a gateway to help through its website. Glass called for the coast to stop at nothing to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster.

"We will not take excuses, and we will not make excuses," she said. "The Gulf will not die. Not on our watch."

Emcee Henry Thomas ended the rally as members from the New Orleans Anti-Authoritarian Organization addressed the crowd, calling for a "militant stand" against BP.

"This is a peaceful organization," Thomas said. "This is a peaceful protest."

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Social Aide and Pleasure Club Task Force Second Line Sunday 3-5pm

Posted By on Sun, May 30, 2010 at 3:28 AM

The New Orleans Social Aide and Pleasure Club Task Force Fifth Year Anniversary Parade is happening Sunday, May 30, 2010 from 3-5pm. Parade starts at Washington Ave & LaSalle St. No route is given.

Clubs representing include: Dumaine St. Gang, Dumaine Ladies, New Generation, Original 4, Prince of Wales, Lady Wales, Single Men, Single Ladies, Women of Perserverance , Women of Class, Men of Honor, Undefeated Gents, Undefeated Divas, Pigeon Town Steppers, VIP Ladies, We Are One, Valley of Silent Men, Nine Times, Lady Nine Times, Bayou Steppers, Versatile Ladies, and Men Buckjumpers.

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Verti Marte owner: "We will be back!"

Posted By on Sun, May 30, 2010 at 1:06 AM

Sam Hatfield, one of the owners of the Verti Marte, left a message on our post about the fire that destroyed the Royal Street grocery store/deli/landmark the wee hours of the morning:

Thank you for the kind note/write-up. Please let everyone know that WE WILL BE BACK! Hopefully no later than the end of July. We so apprecited all of our loyal custumer's support. In the meantime I will be VERY busy over the next 2 months bringing back your Verti Marte.

Great news for everyone in the lower French Quarter -- and we'll stay in touch with Sam and let you know when the grand re-opening is scheduled and we can start eating Royal Feasts and All That Jazzes again.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

We Aren't the World

Posted By on Sat, May 29, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Live Aid. Farm Aid. There seems to be an Aid for everything that needs aid, from Hurricane Katrina to the Haiti earthquake. And it was impressive to see so many local people come together May 16 to produce a Gulf Aid concert with mostly Louisiana musicians (the concert raised more than $300,000).

live aid
It's pointless to compare one tragedy to another, of course, but the ongoing oil disaster has left thousands of people with no way to make a living for the foreseeable future ... except to go to work for the folks who have ruined their lives, which is making some of them physically ill.

We all know about so-called "Katrina fatigue" among Americans (though they should check in with those who lost their homes regarding "fatigue), and it's clear that many people think New Orleans, and New Orleanians, have had their share of charity. But this disaster isn't about New Orleanians -- it's about the people of Grand Isle and Port Fouchon, of Lafourche and lower Jefferson Parish. They need help.

Has anyone else wondered where the Hollywood/music outpouring of support has been? Tim Robbins, Mos Def and Lenny Kravitz are a few of the people who have pitched in -- the operative word being 'few.' We haven't seen Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Aniston, Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell or Sean Penn. No sightings of Bruce Springsteen, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow or Dave Matthews. Where's George Clooney? Where's Bono?

These people, of course, have no obligation to help -- but they've shown their willingness to be generous in the past, and I'm wondering: why is the biggest oil-related disaster in American history suddenly unworthy of celebrity-charity attention?

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Verti Marte burns

Posted By on Sat, May 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

In a week that seemed to bring nothing but bad news comes this new sadness: The Verti Marte, the legendary grocery and takeout spot on Royal Street in the lower French Quarter, burned last night. (Pix of the destruction taken by French Quarter blogger Bigezbear here, here and here.)

"Real Food for Real People at Real Prices" was the motto, and that was the truth; if you lived in the Lower Quarter -- as I used to -- you depended on the Verti Marte for everything: take-out plate lunches and bags of chips, BC headache powders and Dr Pepper, Hubig's Pies and ice cream bars. It was the place you went to get a bottle of water on a hot day or a bottle of wine to carry across the street to Mona Lisa.

You never knew who you'd be pressed up against in the Verti Marte's impossibly crowded aisles: laborers and drag queens, wide-eyed visitors and crusty locals, rich folks and poor folks. Brad and Angelina bought smokes there and took their kids there for treats. I've waited on line there with Harry Shearer, Henri Schindler and Hoda Kotb (who was returning from a morning jog in pants so tight that every man in the store burst out laughing when she left). And behind the counter, nearly always, was Sam -- Sam, I've never learned your last name -- who had an Elvis quiff and the patience of a saint, no matter what was transpiring on the other side of his register.

And the food -- getting a butcher paper-and-masking taped po-boy or a Styrofoam container of entree-plus-two-sides from the deli workers was as quintessential a New Orleans experience as eating at Commander's or Dooky's. Who hasn't had an "All That Jazz" (ham, turkey AND shrimp, topped with "WOW" sauce) or my favorite, the "Royal Feast" ("cheese capped grilled and stacked roast beef, turkey & ham complimented with hot pepper cheese, black olives, grilled onions and our original "WOW Sauce")?

The phone at Verti Marte has been busy all morning, but one of our readers who's been over there sent us this Flickr photo set (it's heartbreaking). If there's any good news in this, it's this caption on one of his photos: "I talked to the owner and she said they will definitely rebuild. And she wouldn't give up the WOW sauce recipe."

Sam and our Verti Marte friends: if you need any help, you'll have hundreds of hungry friends waiting to lend a hand.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

This guy wants to take over Louisiana, kindly offers Bobby Jindal a job under the new regime

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 11:20 PM

My inbox is constantly filled with the desperate pleas of Nigerian princes and Chinese widows that miss my spam folder, where so many fake bank statements and male enhancement offers go to die. I routinely delete these messages, and the message I received from a Robert Philippe Webb de Orleans with the subject line "URGENT" nearly received the same fate. But a quick glance at this message told me this guy is not some spambot, firing phishy missives from somewhere in Africa: he appears to be a real life crazy person, and he wants to be the king of Louisiana.

Addressed to Mitch Landrieu, Bobby Jindal, James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Mary Landrieu and David Vittler, the 2,172-word email begins with Webb claiming to be the descendant of royalty, a relative of Robert E. Lee and a member of the Lykes shipping family.

Meet Robert Philippe Webb — your next king.
  • Meet Robert Philippe Webb — your next king.

He advocates seceding from the union, doesn't like President Obama very much, talks about some conspiracy theories, is sore about the Louisiana Purchase, and would totally let Jindal and crew have jobs under his leadership. Here some of the highlights:

• "President Barrack Obama worries me deeply. He is part of a massive Nazi and Mafia based Eugenics Conspiracy underway in The Federal Government’s intelligence circles."

• "I am writing to formally express my willingness in this turbulent time to lead The People of New Orleans, Louisiana and The Louisiana Purchase Territory as lawfully installed King of Louisiana. There is no clear leadership in these lands which rightfully belong to me and my Family."

• "I would be willing to offer each of you a Title and position in a new government which I propose to lawfully put in place with International United Nations Laws and the support of all The Citizens in my Homeland."

• "There are many of these violations but in particular I cite The United States Federal Government’s creating The HIV and AIDS Virus in 1970 at Ft. Detrick, Maryland’s Biological Weapons Laboratory."

• "It is our legal right to bear arms against a Tyrannical and unwanted oppressive Government. I do however advocate my peaceful installation."

I checked out his website, and apparently he's an architect? I guess with this oil disaster going on, we all want to do something. While some of us just want to donate hair that may or may not be used for oil booms, or scrub oil-slicked ducks with Dawn soap, or never go to a BP gas station ever, ever again, this guy wants to be king. Just his way of coping. And it's in his blood.
The entirety of his weirdo email is after the jump.

Continue reading »

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NOWFE supports Louisiana fishermen

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 10:23 PM

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The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience and chef John Besh raise funds to support the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.

By Jennifer J. Kilbourne

Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) celebrates Louisiana seafood at Saturday's Grand Tasting in the Superdome with cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, and proceeds from the day benefit the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, which was recently added the nonprofit’s list of beneficiaries.

Food Network stars Paula Deen and Aaron Sanchez and award-winning local chef John Besh will prepare dishes that highlight Louisiana seafood. ??And the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board sponsors its annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, in which 11 local chefs will compete for top honors. The winner will compete in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in August.

Continue reading »

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Happy birthday, Wendy O. Williams

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 9:51 PM

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Legendary punk queen Wendy Orlean Williams would have turned 61 today. The former Plasmatics lead singer and film star died on April 6, 1998.

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