Friday, June 4, 2010

National Donut Day, BP Turned Down Russian Minisubs, Nukes to Myanmar

David Brooks
Eugene Robinson

“People change and forget to tell each other.” - Lillian Hellman
"When you give power to an executive you do not know who will be filling that position when the time of crisis comes." - Ernest Hemingway
"Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can." - Mark Twain

June 4th is National Donut Day, probably proposed by the powerful donut lobby composed of retired cops... Krispy Kreme is giving out a free donut to anyone who asks at the few remaining stores that are left open. One of my favorite memories from childhood, was when the Helm's Bakery truck would stop by and deliver, the driver pulling out a tray of fresh-made donuts that had all of the neighborhood kids salivating over the sight and smells. Nowadays, there aren't many independent donut shops around, and even fewer that make anything fresh. Dunkin' Donuts serves frozen product to their shops. Here in Colorado Springs, the pickins are pretty slim, and the stuff we buy at Safeway and King's Super tastes like cardboard. We also can't find a decent loaf of French bread around here, the one place that we liked went out of business two years ago. If my favorite coffee roaster retires, it will be time to move...

While we were sleeping, BP fit its containment cap over the leaking well. It's too early to tell how successful it will work. Right now about 1000 barrels of oil is being sent up the pipe and into a waiting tanker. The well is leaking 12,000 to 15,000 barrels of oil per day, so they have a ways to go. If they are successful, their public relations will suddenly go from zero to hero, and we can be more forgiving of the insensitive gaffes of the CEO Tony Hayward. To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, he may be an idiot but he's our idiot (2 points for the original quote and whom Mr Johnson was referring to). The Louisiana marshlands are fried, there's no conceivable way to get the oil out without destroying them further. Your shrimp and gulf prawns will have to be farm-raised for the next few years. Anyway, from the Environmental News Service: "The goal is to bring the oil and gas mixture to the drillship Discoverer Enterprise, which is positioned directly above the leaking well. There, the oil will be stored for refinement onshore, the gas will be flared off, and any water in the mix will be poured back into the gulf.

Admiral Allen said subsea dispersants are being applied at the wellhead "to minimize oil on surface while we shift to the containment cap." The admiral said that during the last 24 hours, increasingly southerly winds have been pushing the spilled oil to Alabama, Mississippi and Florida as well as into the Louisiana marshlands.

He was frank about the futility of cleaning the oil from the fragile Louisiana marshlands. "There really is no good way to clean up the marshes, mechanical means do as much damage as oil would do in the marshes," the admiral said. "We need to do everything we can to keep it from getting ashore, attack this containment at the source. None of us anticipated such a wide area," he said. "We now have a battle line from Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida, an extrordinarily wide area."

In an interesting aside, UPI reports that the director James Cameron talked to US officials about using the Mir minisubs to help in the Gulf, that he used in making the film Titantic. The Mirs are made in Russia: "Cameron raised the issue of deploying Mirs during meetings with U.S. regulators Wednesday. Sagalevich said executives at BP rejected the proposal, the Russian news agency noted.

"We are Russians and if we go to the Gulf of Mexico with Mirs and do something there, the Americans would be appalled," he explained. Would you be appalled if Russian technology helped better than american in this case? Hasn't the Cold War ended and they are our new Best Friends Forever? Or, at least until Mr Medvedev is replaced again by Mr Putin...

If they can no longer lash out at the world and cry victim, the right wing extremists inside Israel have decided to go after their citizens who participated in the flotilla. There is a call to charge them with treason, and members of Hamas living in Jerusalem have had their identity cards confiscated and will face deportation. More pop musicians have decided to cancel their stadium shows in Israel, and now there are pundit claims that the Jewish diaspora has failed them in their hour of need... An unfortunate series of events has let some more rockets be fired from Gaza into Israel, and Hamas at least had curbed that action pretty well. This means that the rockets were blessed by Hamas, who is beginning to realize that the Palestinian people don't need them anymore. They are sounding like a sour and grumpy uncle who refuses to sit down at the table with everyone else, and sits and sulks by themselves in the darkness.

But we have more important events to worry about than the dysfunction of the Israeli government. Like who has taken over as Japan's premier. Our relationship with Japan is more important strategically than our relationship with Israel, and the previous premier resigned because he couldn't fulfill his campaign promise to re-negotiate the contract for the military base on Okinawa. The US is hoping to forge a better relationship with a less idealistic man, who is more pragmatic and an economist.

More to worry about, is the small country of Myanmar, or what the British named Burma. They are currently building underground storage facilities for storing nuclear warheads. They are making a deal with North Korea to either buy the nukes outright or buy the technology to make them by themselves. The ruling junta is hoping that with the world focusing on Iran, they won't notice this sneaky deal. Expect jets from neighboring Thailand to try and disrupt this any day now... Yep, another poor country that can't feed its people diverting most of its money to buy weapons of mass destruction...


  1. La Baguette has good French bread, almost as good as bread one gets in France (but not quite).

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I've spent many a morning having breakfast in the Old Colorado City La Baguette, no offense, but I was not impressed. I have to admit to being a west coast snob here, I lived for over 30 years in a town near San Francisco, and love sourdough. My favorite bakery, Gayle's, went to France and Italy every couple of years to bring back bread and pastry recipes, and is where we took our tourist friends whenever we wanted to impress them.

    Do you prefer La Baguette over Whole Foods?


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