Archive for March 10th, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has endorsed Arab news organization Al Jazeera as offering “real news”, superior to ersatz U.S. news which is full of commercials, talking-heads and soundbites that are “not particularly informative to us.” Perhaps that explains a part of the reason why U.S. audiences are largely unaware of the continuing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout last year.
Al Jazeera, on the other hand, brings us this story of sickness and death on the Gulf Coast.
[caption id="attachment_16980" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Eco-terrorism in Gulf of Mexico. Image via Leoma Lovegrove (creative commons)"][/caption]
“I have critically high levels of chemicals in my body,” 33-year-old Steven Aguinaga of Hazlehurst, Mississippi told Al Jazeera. “Yesterday I went to see another doctor to get my blood test results and the nurse said she didn’t know how I even got there.”
Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.
“I swam underwater, then found I had orange slick stuff all over me,” Aguinaga said. “At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good. I’ve been extremely sick ever since.”
[More . . . ]
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) passed the Senate unanimously last December. It was tweaked and passed unanimously in the House, then sent back to the Senate for a final vote – where someone blocked it by the an anonymous hold, killing it on December 22.
On January 7th, NPR’s On the Media, with the Government Accountability Project, set out to find out who. Now they are down to three: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), all of whom have declined to deny placing the hold.
WNYC and the GAP still need help to blow the whistle on who killed the WPEA. They need residents of Alabama, Arizona and Idaho to call their respective Senators and ask for confirmation or denial of responsibility for the hold, and more pointedly, ask “why they believe the public does not have a right to hold them accountable for something as basic as killing a bill.”
They suggest asking the following questions “as a way to guide the conversation”:
1) Did you place the anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act?
2) What is the Senator’s policy regarding inquiries from constituents about his use of the anonymous hold?
3) When is the Senator’s “hold” the public’s business, about which the public has the right to know?
4) What determines when use of the “hold” is a “personal, private matter” that is not the public’s business?
5) Why would the Senator be publicly supportive of the bill but work to defeat it in private?
6) All but three Senators have confirmed that they did NOT use the hold to kill S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. Assuming that the senator who placed the hold is eventually identified – as they frequently are – and it is your senator, is he prepared to deal with the fallout that comes from ignoring constituent questions?
These are good questions to ask about any anonymous hold on Senate bills, not just this one.