Archive for October, 2010

Move Along, Nothing To See Here.
October 27, 2010

The site of the largest oil sill in US history will be off-limits to anyone until October of next year. No one will be allowed to come within 750 feet in all directions of the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico. This move was done to preserve evidence for upcoming civil and, possibly, criminal trials. Here’s a copy of the news release from the Department of Justice….

Security Zone Established Around Deepwater Horizon Wreckage Site

WASHINGTON – In response to a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. District Court in New Orleans has ordered the establishment of a security zone extending 750 feet in all directions from the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon wreckage site and its debris field. The security zone extends from the center of the wreckage site, which is located at the precise coordinates N28-5491/W088-22.0293 (in the area known as the Mississippi Canyon 252) from the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico to the sea surface.

The court found it in the interest of the public to protect the search area and any evidence located in the area against intentional or unintentional loss, the order said. It ordered the United States to inform the public and advise all known parties capable of intruding into the security zone.

 In accordance with the order, the Department of Justice has informed those companies known to have the means and equipment to do so not to enter the security zone.

The order will be enforced by the United States using the full range of security assets available, including vessels, aircraft or other appropriate means and equipment.

The security zone will remain in place until Oct. 8, 2011 unless renewed for good cause, the court ordered.

A Dangerous Paradise
October 25, 2010

Before you click on the video of the chase I wanted to give you a little background on Falcon Lake. In 1953 Falcon Dam was built on the Rio Grande River to help provide irrigation and flood control for areas on both sides of the border. The lake was stocked with several different types of fish, which is one of the reasons it is such a popular spot. Falcon Lake is not actually a lake, it’s a reservoir created by the Falcon Dam. When the dam was built it submerged a small town in Mexico named Old Guerrero. Only the town’s church still partially sticks out of the water. Even though it’s on the Mexican side of the lake it is a popular spot for shutter bugs from both countries. This is also the spot where David and Tiffany Hartley were attacked. The other thing that makes Falcon Lake unique is there are no border checkpoints. You do have to have a fishing license, but boaters from the US and Mexico frequently cross the border with little or no checks.  Only metal platforms with no signage, and spaced about a mile apart, mark the border between countries.  Click on the map below to enlarge.

This chase involved the brother of a member of the Zeta cartel. Zapata County Sheriff’s Sergeant Israel Alaniz caught the guy after he turned down a dead-end street. Alaniz said the guy was in the country illegally.

We Need More Time
October 22, 2010

The joint panel investigating the cause of the BP oil spill has asked for and received a 60-day extension for delivering a final report on the disaster. The panel is composed of members of the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (seriously, was there a long name contest that day?). The panel has been holding a series of meetings since last May delving into every aspect of the spill. The panel was to have submitted a final report in January, but the deadline has now been extended until March 2011. The findings and recommendations of this panel will likely serve as a blueprint for civil, and possibly criminal trials, in the future. The panel asked for the extra time to finish forensic testing and to allow for a final public hearing on the matter. After spending a considerable chunk of my professional (and personal) life covering every tentacle of this disaster for the last 6 months I can attest to the Herculean task this panel has undertaken. The more than 100 hours of testimony has been peppered with complicated, convoluted answers and legal posturing. There has been shouting from attorneys (one even stood up during this month’s hearing and demanded the co-chair of the panel, Capt. Hung Nguyen, recuse himself), claims of incompetency on the part of panel members and threats of federal injunctions throughout the proceedings. So many lawyers crowd each hearing it is like watching a real-time, live deposition for a civil trial (the only fun part is one lawyer, who shall remain nameless, who becomes a pinata for every other lawyer in the room every time he gets up to question a witness). Still, the panel is tasked with not only getting to the bottom of what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon, but also making recommendations for both off shore drilling and safety on the water. One thing is certain, this is not Texas City. Many of the decisions made on that well and on the rig itself will be debated ad nauseam for years to come. So what’s another 60 days?

Here is a copy of the news release sent by the panel..

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) / Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Joint Investigation Team (JIT) today announced that it has requested and been granted an extension of the deadline for its final report.

This approval was provided by USCG Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp and BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. The extension was requested to allow for additional time needed to complete forensic testing, as well as provide sufficient time for a final public hearing on the forensic evidence.  This hearing is tentatively scheduled for the week of January 24, 2011.

The April 27, 2010, order convening the JIT directs that “the JIT issue a single report containing the evidence adduced, the facts established thereby, and its conclusions and recommendations within nine months of the convening date.” That original deadline is January 27, 2011. The order further states, “if this deadline cannot be met, at least thirty calendar days prior, a written explanation for the delay and the expected completion date shall be submitted to the Director, [then-MMS], and Commandant, USCG.”

Today’s approval is a 60-day extension of the deadline to March 27, 2011.

I Pledge Allegiance….
October 14, 2010

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Texas pledge of allegiance is constitutional. Here is a copy of the news release.

Fifth Circuit Upholds Texas Pledge of Allegiance

Federal appeals court rejects plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge to the State pledge

 
AUSTIN – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today ruled that the Texas Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional. The federal court’s decision rejected an appeal filed by a Dallas couple, who unsuccessfully argued that the State’s Pledge violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

“Today a federal appeals court rejected a challenge to the Texas Pledge of Allegiance and found that it is constitutional for the State to acknowledge religious faith,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. “This ruling marks not only a second consecutive victory for the
State pledge, but also a victory for all Texans’ constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.”

The words “under God” were added to the Texas Pledge of Allegiance in 2007. That year, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the phrase’s constitutionality and sought an injunction banning its use. In the district court, the State successfully argued that reciting the Texas Pledge is a patriotic exercise – and is protected by the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religion. The federal district court issued a decision rejecting the plaintiffs’ challenge in 2009, and the plaintiffs appealed their loss to the Fifth Circuit.

In today’s ruling, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, ruling that the Texas Pledge “. . . is a patriotic exercise, and it is made no less so by the acknowledgement of Texas’s religious heritage via the inclusion of the phrase ‘under God.’”

The appeals court also denied the plaintiffs’ argument that the Texas Pledge endorses a particular religious belief. Rather, the ruling acknowledged: “A pledge can constitutionally acknowledge the existence of, and even value, a religious belief without impermissibly favoring that value or belief, without advancing belief over non-belief, and without coercing participation in a religious exercise. Texas’s pledge is of this sort and consequently survives this challenge.”

The Texas Pledge of Allegiance reads: “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”

Here is the copy of the court’s ruling….pledge

According to the Handbook of Texas Online, “In 1933 the legislature passed a law establishing rules for the proper display of the flag and providing for a pledge to the flag: “Honor the Texas Flag of 1836; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.” The pledge erroneously referred to the 1836 national flag, known as David G. Burnet’s flag, instead of the Lone Star Flag. Senator Searcy Bracewell introduced a bill to correct this error in 1951, but the legislature did not delete the words “of 1836” until 1965.  The pledge was again amended by House Bill 1034 during the 80th Legislature with the addition of “one state under God. The revised wording became effective on June 15, 2007.”

Of Lottery Winnings And PayPal…
October 13, 2010

I must be the luckiest guy in the world. In the last week I have won 2, count ’em, two major international lotteries. My luck then ran out when my PayPal account was suspended. My inbox gets peppered with these scams on such a regular basis that I hit the delete key before I finish reading the subject line. Still, I wanted to pass along a few of the scams that apparently will NEVER DIE. I’m doing this just as a reminder to everyone to be careful with clicking on these nefarious missives.  Here is a copy of one email…

Your email has own you £691,252GBP contact your Claims Agent.on ukfreelottery2010agenbox@Safe-mail.net for details.

Sincerely,

Mrs.Doylce Makebe

Promotions Manager

This mail is scanned by Ironport

First tip-off should be that the email comes from India, hence the “dot-in” at the end of the sender’s address. Plus, there is no such thing as the free UK lottery.

The next email notified me I was a winner in the “email sweepstakes”. However, this prize only made me eligible for a loan interest loan from a company in Spain. Here’s an excerpt…

Good Day,

We are a Legitimate Reputable Money Lender. Getting a legitimate loan has always been a huge problem to clients who are financially in needs. VESTING FINANCE LENDERS has been accredited by the lender’s council to give out loans to local and international clients. We have been given the privilege to meet your financial needs. The issue of credit shouldn’t stop you from getting the loan that you need and we have made that difference in the lending industry. We gave out loan ranging from US$65, 000 to US$650. 000 to individuals and companies who are in need of credit / financial assistance, pending on your motive of a bad credit or in need of money to pay bills, to invest on business etc.

First off, any email that begins with “we are a legitimate reputable money lender” is in no way, shape or form legitimate. Period. Also, notice the bad grammar. Another tell-tale sign of scam artists. The biggest tip-off is that the company asks you to provide all your personal information before they’ll give you a loan. But hey, at least they don’t do credit checks.

Since I was a big winner in the free UK Lottery I decided I no longer needed a low-interest loan from Spain so I moved on to the troublesome warning that my PayPal account was suspended. Since PayPal is so popular this one can catch even savvy users off guard. I mean after all if your PayPal account has been limited or suspended how in the world will you pay for that vintage GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip (if you don’t get that line then you are too young or I am getting too old). The thing to notice about these emails is that it doesn’t provide any details, just a “dear customer”  and a subtle nudge to click on that internet link. That link will then ask you to provide all your personal information so the kind folks at PayPal can verify whether your account has been limited, suspended or, darn it to heck, they just mixed up your account with someone else. The link is usually something like, “Restore_your_account_paypal.html. This is the email I received…

Dear customer,

Your account has been temporarily limited .

Download and fill out the form to resolve the problem and then log into your account.

Thank You.

Just delete these emails or forward them to the FBI’s internet crime database at www.ic3.gov.

  

 

 

Moratorium Lifted
October 12, 2010

Today the federal government made the decision to the lift the moratorium on deepwater drilling. The question is the extent of damage that has already been done. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued the moratorium on July 12th. That measure was supposed to last until November 30th. Under increasing political and public pressure Salazar decided to lift the moratorium early after receiving a report from the head of the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. That report stated deepwater drilling could proceed safely if new and current safety measures are met by operators. However, four drilling rigs have already left the Gulf of Mexico for work in foreign waters and many companies that support off shore drilling are buckling under the financial pressure. How quickly these service companies can rebound remains to be seen. A total of 33 rigs were directly affected by the moratorium, but most of the companies operating those rigs retained employees. However, service companies asking for help have seen claims denied while the federal figures who has to pay for their lack of income.

Secretary Salazar’s signed decision to lift the moratorium is here….moratoriumlifted.

The new regulations are here….drillingrules.

Director Bromwich’s report is here…bromwich