Tagged: death

BP ruled “grossly negligent” in Gulf oil spill

BP Plc was “grossly negligent” for its role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, a U.S. district judge said on Thursday in a ruling that could add billions of dollars in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken so far for the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history…

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans held a trial without a jury last year to determine who was responsible for the April 20, 2010 environmental disaster. Barbier ruled that BP was mostly at fault and that two other companies in the case, Transocean Ltd and Halliburton, were not as much to blame.

“The Court concludes that the discharge of oil ‘was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct’ by BP, the ruling said.

BP said it would appeal the ruling…blah, blah, blah…

BP has already been forced to shrink by selling assets to pay for the cleanup. Those sales erased about a fifth of its earning power…

Barbier has yet to assign damages from the spill under the federal Clean Water Act. A gross negligence verdict carries a potential fine of $4,300 per barrel fine.

BP says some 3.26 million barrels leaked from the well and the U.S government says 4.9 million barrels spilled. The statutory limit on a simple “negligence” is $1,100 per barrel…

Even after the Clean Water Act fines are set, BP may face other bills from a lengthy Natural Resources Damage Assessment, which could require BP to carry out or fund environmental restoration work in the Gulf, and other claims.

They deserve to pay every penny of fine, every dollar of public compensation, every billion of responsibility owed the environment of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Director charged over crew death while producing Greg Allman biopic


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The director of a biopic about singer Gregg Allman, and two of the film’s producers, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges.

It follows a fatal train crash on the film’s set in south east Georgia in February, which led to the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones.

A grand jury charged Randall Miller, producer Jody Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish…

Jones, 27, was hit by a train on the first day of filming Midnight Rider.

Seven other crew members were injured in the incident, which saw the camera assistant fatally struck after the crew placed a bed on the railway tracks in Doctortown while filming a dream sequence.

It is understood the crew were expecting two local trains to pass through, but a third had arrived unexpectedly. A warning whistle was blown, but they had less than a minute to remove the bed from the track.

Miller, Savin and Sedrish are each charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, according to a statement from local district attorney Jackie Johnson…

It remains unclear whether the crew had permission to be on the tracks. Local police investigators say they did have permission to be on property nearby.

The manslaughter charges against the film team could bring a possible sentence of 10 years in prison under Georgia law…

Filming on Midnight Rider was suspended in the aftermath of the train tragedy, and actor William Hurt – who was due to play Allman – pulled out of the production.

I haven’t any personal insight into the case. Though I spent an important though small portion of my life with folks deeply committed to the craft of acting all I can say is there wasn’t any uniform opinion of producers or directors, film or stage. Most discussion resolved to questions of political courage or cowardice – for that was in the darkest days of the blacklist throughout this so-called land of freedom.

Thanks, Mike

Why was 1918 flu pandemic so deadly? New clues…

In 1918, as one global devastation in the shape of World War I came to an end, people around the world found themselves facing another deadly enemy, pandemic flu. The virus killed more than 50 million people, three times the number that fell in the Great War, and did this so much faster than any other illness in recorded history.

But why was that particular pandemic so deadly? Where did the virus come from and why was it so severe? These questions have dogged scientists ever since. Now, a new study led by the University of Arizona (UA) may have solved the mystery…

They hope the study not only offers some new clues about the deadliness of the 1918 pandemic, but will also help improve strategies for vaccination and pandemic prevention, as Prof. Worobey explains:

“If our model is correct, then current medical interventions, especially antibiotics and vaccines, against several pneumonia-causing bacteria, could be expected to dramatically reduce mortality, if we were faced today with a similar set of pandemic ingredients…”

Researchers reconstructed the origins of the 1918 pandemic virus, the classic swine flu and the postpandemic seasonal H1N1 flu virus lineage that circulated between 1918 and 1957, to find out why the 1918 pandemic was so deadly…

For their investigation, the researchers developed an unprecedentedly accurate “molecular clock,” a technique that looks at the rate at which mutations build up in given stretches of DNA over time…

Prof. Worobey and his team used their molecular clock to reconstruct the origins of the 1918 pandemic virus, the classic swine flu and the postpandemic seasonal H1N1 flu virus lineage that circulated between 1918 and 1957…

They found that a human H1 virus that had been circulating among humans since around 1900 picked up genetic material from a bird flu virus just before 1918 and this became the deadly pandemic strain.

Exposure to previous strains of flu virus does offer some protection to new strains. This is because the immune system reacts to proteins on the surface of the virus and makes antibodies that are summoned the next time a similar virus tries to infect the body.

But the further away the new strain is genetically from the ones the body has previously been exposed to, the more different the surface proteins, the less effective the antibodies and the more likely that infection will take hold.

Prof. Worobey notes…”We believe that the mismatch between antibodies trained to H3 virus protein and the H1 protein of the 1918 virus may have resulted in the heightened mortality in the age group that happened to be in their late 20s during the pandemic.”

He says their finding may also help explain differences in patterns of mortality between seasonal flu and the deadly H5N1 and H7N9 bird flu viruses.

The authors suggest perhaps immunization strategies that mimic the often impressive protection that early childhood exposure provides could dramatically reduce deaths from seasonal and new flu strains.

Biologists of this calibre are walking encyclopedias of science, history, chemistry and the knowledge to assemble it all within the guidance of evolution into a unique illuminating dialectic.

It is a delight to stand inside the cone of enlightenment made possible by dedication to science, the addition of something of value to human understanding.

OTOH, you may spend your spare time watching reality TV. :)

Thanks, Mike

FDA proposed E-Cigarette regulation leaked to industry first

After years of FDA foot-dragging amid calls for action on electronic cigarettes, an industry group nearly stole the agency’s thunder with an apparently leaked copy of an impending draft regulation.

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) put up a picture of the scanned document on its website Friday, indicating it was the “Deeming Tobacco Products to be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products.”

However, the e-cigarette advocacy group said it decided not to go ahead with plans to release the document following informal discussions with the agency on Friday.

“[W]e all decided that [it would be] in the best interest of the regulatory process, as well as the industry and the public, not to post the document on Tuesday,” TVECA explained in a brief note on its website…

The title of the document shown by TVECA appeared to fit expectations that the FDA’s move will be to bring e-cigarettes under largely the same regulatory scheme as other tobacco products, which would involve blocking sales to minors and restricting marketing.

The agency has had e-cigarettes on its agenda for years, but finally sent a draft proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last fall; action was further delayed by the partial government shutdown.

The document was still with the OMB as of last month. Whether the copy obtained by TVECA indicates an impending release for public comment wasn’t clear.

Anyone surprised? Anyone expect documents which might affect corporate profits and the health of Americans to be leaked to scientists or public interest advocates? Our government is working harder than ever to squash the possibility of another Edward Snowden popping up, say, in the FDA or USDA.

A train, a narrow trestle and 60 seconds to escape – the death of Sarah Jones

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The Feb. 20 death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones on the set of Midnight Rider outside Doctortown, Ga., spread grief and anger through Hollywood. It has led to an industrywide reckoning on safety standards and inspired some Oscars attendees to wear black ribbons on their lapels in her memory. Many of the details of the accident remain murky and unknown. But now a THR reconstruction, based on an exclusive eyewitness account and interviews with Jones’ parents and others, reveals harrowing new details of what happened when a 20-person film crew tried to shoot a scene on a live train track…

As the day wore on, director Randall Miller moved the shoot from the land beside the river onto the narrow gridwork of the trestle itself, which extends over the edge of the Altamaha. The trestle’s wood and metal bottom was covered with pebbles and had gaping holes in some places. The blustery wind rang through the girders, making it hard to stay steady, says Gilliard…

From shore, several dozen yards away, a voice shouted to the crew that in the event a train appeared, everyone would have 60 seconds to clear the tracks. “Everybody on the crew was tripping over that,” says Joyce Gilliard. “A minute? Are you serious?” By now, she and two other crewmembers were nervous enough that before shooting, they gathered in an informal prayer circle…

While Gilliard prayed, Jones helped load film, monitor the cameras and transport gear. A fresh-faced South Carolinian with a passion for travel and books, Jones wasn’t really the type to fret much. The crew was filming a dream sequence, and they had placed a twin-size metal-framed bed and mattress in the middle of the tracks. Then, Gilliard looked up and saw a light in the distance, followed by the immense howl of a locomotive. It was a train — and it was hurtling toward them.

Read the long, detailed, sad tale, a cautionary tale. Sooner or later a court will make decisions about precautions that didn’t seem to exist, protocols that were engaged decades ago to protect film crews – and ignored IMHO.

A tale worth reading for the death of a young working woman that never should have happened.

Thanks, Mike

Big-hearted oil company hands out pizza gift certificates after deadly explosion

The Chevron Corp. donation of free pizzas to Greene County, Pa., residents affected by a gas well explosion last week is not going over well, residents say.

Chevron is dispensing 100 gift certificates for pizza and soft drinks to those in the area of the southwestern Pennsylvania county where a gas well exploded Feb. 11. The incident killed a worker, injured another and sparked a fire that burned for four days…

Chevron’s attempted outreach was the topic of a Twitter user, who wrote Tuesday, “Worst apology ever. Sorry our fracking well exploded, here’s a free pizza.”

Another unidentified resident said he found the gift certificate when he returned home Sunday, and noted it was the first and last time Chevron contacted him about the incident…

BTW, Chevron says…the situation at the well “remains serious, and teams are working around the clock to safely approach and shut the well.”

Golly gee. They’re sticking around for a spell to clean up their mess. How thoughtful.

Where’s the beef? Unsound, unwholesome and unfit for human consumption…


It all ends up looking like this

A California meat company has issued a recall of some 8.7 million pounds of meat as it was processed from “diseased and unsound” animals.

The Department of Agriculture”s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) revealed that the said meat was processed and sold without federal inspection.

Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp. has recalled the meat that was sold in the form of beef carcasses and boxes of beef oxtail, liver, cheeks and tongue in four U.S. states; California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

The recalled products were produced from in the first week of January and had pack sizes ranging between 30 pounds and 60 pounds. The Beef carcasses and boxes carried the establishment number “EST. 527″ inside the USDA mark of inspection…

“The products are adulterated, because they are unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food and must be removed from commerce,” the FSIS said.

The recall has been categorized as ‘Class 1 level’ which is considered to be the most serious and indicates that the product in question has the potency to cause “serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

We keep being told we have the safest, healthiest food in the world. That is – unless you apparently shop at Walmart, Kroger, Brookshire’s, and on and on. Sometimes, I think those low price value meats make it to store shelves because some chain store executive figures the profits are larger than the lawsuits from survivors!

Of course, if state and federal officials performed the tasks we entrust them with – we might stand a better chance of a long and healthy life.

Descanso honors BREAKING BAD’s Walter White


Descanso honors “Breaking Bad” character Walter Whitecourtesy of Michelle Valdez-Browning

“Breaking Bad” fans continue to honor Walter White.

North Valley resident Michelle Valdez-Browning and her brother, Marc Valdez, and son Aaron Browning made a descanso near the Nazi compound where White passed away in the show. (A descanso is a roadside memorial that commemorates a site where a person died. They are seen along roads in New Mexico.)

Valdez-Browning says her brother was part of the locations crew who helped scout the various areas…“He put his heart and soul into finding the right places,” she says.

Once the show aired, the trio decided to pay tribute to White and put the descanso in front of the area…The location is near Second and Los Ranchos Road NW.

In case you want to be among the hundreds who continue to visit Albuquerque to pay their respects.