First Arrest Finally Made in BP Oil Spill

A few days ago, the U.S. Justice Dept. brought its first arrest in connection with the BP Horizon oil spill that occurred on 4-20, 2010.  In connection with the worst off-shore spill in U.S. history, the first arrest is well overdue.  However that the arrest was for the deletion of text messages is troubling.  Understand that (if true) the deletion of text messages and corresponding coverup by a high level engineer who was part of a team tasked with halting the oil spill is by no means excusable.  However, Obstruction of Justice is like tax evasion — if you don’t have the evidence for the actual crime, often times you get ‘em for the cover up or the failure to pay taxes.  Serious crimes, indeed, yet the convictions are not based upon the ultimate crimes we really care about as a society.

That the worst environmental disaster in this century, and the worst oil spill in the United States’ long history in oil refinery and production, has resulted in just one arrest of a relatively high level employee, yet who is by no means the boss.  A senior engineer who deleted text messages from his phone.  After 11 deaths, upwards of 70 billion dollars in economic damage, and an intangible amount of environmental damage, a single arrest for a senior engineer who deleted messages from his phone, makes Kurt Mix seem less like a scape goat and more like a scape blue whale.

As noted previously – burning down the house is Party Foul # 1 –  and while the rigs’ explosion leveled devastation upon states, families, businesses, the person that is “BP” (because businesses are people) walks free while its low level employee looks at 20 years of jail time, even though Mix likely has little to do with causing or preventing the ultimate explosion.  If corporations are people, shouldn’t the corporation be arrested when crimes are committed?  Or those responsible for the ultimate criminal negligence?

We have noted a disturbing trend occurring in American society which is that corporate interests and corporations in general are being increasingly granted the privileges of citizenship and the protections of the Constitution yet without the corresponding responsibilities or accountability that goes with citizenship.  While corporations increasingly have the right of free speech, free association, and corporate interests play larger roles in political discourse through the “corporate capture doctrine” (aka regulatory capture), the externalities produced by such activities often have a devastating effect on the surrounding communities and economies, who simply are so disbursed or poorly funded that those affected by the harms or delicti simply go overlooked.

The choice therefore, becomes ours as a society – do we simply want to allow certain corporations to continue to unleash harmful consequences onour planet, for short term benefit that may result in poluted lakes, air, streams, rivers, oceans, all of which not only cause various diseases and ailments but are also litterally cooking the planet, or do we promote corporate accountability in a manner that can encourage free enterprise and protect the planet’s future?  While the second seems like the logical choice, the argument in favor of the first is that the planet is inevitably moving towards “green” energy sources, and that we are simply “bridging the gap” and we all use energy, so we are all responsible for its damages on the planet.

This argument is simple sophistry, logical trick.  We all use energy, yet we all do not profit from it.  The devastation of a planet which belongs to all of the natural or human world, to which we owe our lives, should not be encouraged for any reason – even for profit – if for the simple fact that such an approach will do us in at the end.

Economics is called the dismall science because of its basic approach to human nature — essentially that humans act in a “rational way” as first proposed by Adam Smith and his “invisible hand” — dictates humanity’s ultimate downfall because there are not enough materials to go around and eventually humans will eat themselves to death (like the song American Eats Its Young, by Funkadelic).

However, this rule is based simply on the primacy of the dollar, that humans act in ways to promote their short term gain in terms of profitability.  In the late 60’s Garrett Hardin pointed out the Tragedy of the Commons, namely that humans frequently act for short term benefit in ways that do not serve the long term interest of the public or even the individual.

Economics, at the end of the day, is simply a social science – it makes certain assumptions as to how humans act, and postulates, through models, what to expect into the future. Modern economics simply presumes that humans act in a way that holds the dollar above all else. While considered a “science,” it is simply a Darwinian social model developed out northern based societies in which humans were often at odds with their environment, and viewed their environment as hostile.

This self-defeating psychological paradox that is the Tragedy of the Commons (i.e. that humans who  can effectively look to the future would act in ways that are negative for long term survival) displays how economics truly is the “dismal science.”  It envisions a world in which we act for the short term dollar above all else.

The rationale is as follows: namely, that we have to use so many resources to stay alive, and the decision is ultimately based upon the notion that others are taking the resources, so I should too.  The lack of a governor leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy – the fear of depletion implies that I must deplete as quickly as possible.

The most recent examples seem to be highlighted in energy policy.  Deepwater Horizon’s explosion was facilitated by cost cutting and questionable oversight, and the results from the explosion were devastating.  If corporations are people, then corporations should be responsible for their negative effects.  They enjoy the benefits of doing business, so they should also have to deal with the burdens.  The Tragedy of the Commons, namely that the commons in England were overgrazed because it was in each individual sheppard’s interest to keep their flock as large as possible and graze as much as possible, until the commons became barren, can be avoided through taxation or resource management.  Simply, if you enjoy the benefits of labor, you also have to account for the burdens as well.

Horizon is going to take upwards of 20 years (potentially) before it is cleaned up and dealt with, and it is impossible that all of the individuals who were harmed will be fully compensated (if simply they lost their jobs and livelihoods, this psychological damage can never be recouped).  Fracking has been proven problematic (see the EPA’s finding in December, 2011, that horizontal hydro-fracking resulted in contamination), mainly because those engaged in the extraction of natural gas do so through using highly toxic chemicals that are pumped directly into the ground and inevitably leach into the ecological systems around the drilling areas.  The approach therefore, is simply, create a system in which actors are encouraged to prevent negative consequences or participate in effective oversight.

Here are some approaches:

  • Create a system of environmental policing whereby state or federal authorities can impose regulatory penalties  upon actors that pollute the air, water, or ground.  By transferring these costs away from the public at large, the corporate actors are encouraged to do business and extract minerals or other resources responsibly.  The EPA has authority over water, yet its powers have been increasingly limited recently, it is exempt from directly regulating horizontal fracking, and conservative / industry favorable politicians, including various Republican presidential candidates, have expressed desire to further limit the EPA’s authority.
  • Require companies to account for their polution or create limitations to the amount of air polution corporations are permitted to release.  The Clean Air Act currently covers polution, as regulated by the EPA, yet it continues to be under attack from industry proponents.
  • Since corporations are people, those individuals who failed to remedy or take investigatory action should be held criminally liable, such as the individual directors or officers.  Sarbanes Oxley, in the wake of the Enron scandal, constructed criminal liability for those engaging in accounting fraud for any publicly traded businesses.  Likewise, fraudulent or negligent activity in terms of the environment should be met with criminal consequences.
  • Create a reward system so that employees (aka “whistleblowers”) who report negligent activity or questionable business practices are encouraged to come forward in ways that can protect the environment.  For example, in Pennsylvania, there are no whistleblower laws protecting individual employees who might report violations of good standards or potential polluting activity.  In fact, the new laws passed in Pennsylvania prevent doctors from disclosing with the public what potentially harmful chemicals are in fracking fluids.

Ultimately, for humanity to succeed in the long term, we need to recognize that all are responsible for their actions, and that all are equal, in the law, at the party, or otherwise.  If corporations are people, it is time for them to hold the same responsibilities as well.

Possible Options for 4/20

That time of year again party people.  Whether you partake in cannabis or not, party people, you must acknowledge that 4/20 has become a phenomenon in the US, Canada, Nederlands, and anywhere else where there is a party. I have read various stories about the origin of 420, the most humorous and interesting posted here, on Huff Po.  Whether you buy that story or not, Ryan Grim did do a good job of reporting the phenomenon.  The PartyBlog agrees with the premise (whether we agree with the factual argument or not), that most likely, 420 represents the time of day when classes or sports let out and was likely popularized in the 1970s.  One recent aphorism we have popularly heard, is that 420 is the time at UC Santa Cruz between the day classes and the night classeys.  Basically, day classes finish up, it’s 420, you eat mounds at the cafeteria, then go to night classes.

“420 fest at UC Santa Cruz’s Porter Meadow”

What is left out from this whole notion of the Huff Po story, however, is that by simply limiting 420 to the cannibus culture that has sprung around it, or more appropriately, created it, one truly overlooks the mystical quality of the date / time / number.  There is something numerological about 420 – all the numbers perfectly divide or multiply into each other and the date falls perfectly in the spring time. 

To the PartyBlog, 420 truly represents a quasi-religious, non-denominational, possibly pagan celebration of the onset of spring, freed of the limitations of Passover, the various Easters, or other organized religion’s spring festivals.  In truth, what 420 represents is a celebration of life, and an invitation to question the status quo.  Most particularly, it should be regarded as the national holiday dedicated to the protest of prohibition, and its failures, by getting out and having a good time.  The day has become much larger than simply a celebration of THC and its various forms of consumption.  The celebration of 420 should be encouraged and celebrated by all who tire of strictly religious spring feverishness or severely outdated, draconian drug policies promoted by the fear and loathing of racial stereotypes, at the behest of a political or corporate agenda.  In reality, the prohibition that still rules the land is ineffective, and has trapped swaths of society into the prison system from which there is little hope of escape, instead drawing our own people into recidivism and assisting in the decline of urban communities in America.

Instead, PartyBlog eUncourages all to celebrate 420 by going out and having a good time.  Be smart however.  Don’t do anything stupid in public or harmful in general.  Don’t get too intoxicated, keep your cool, and remember that if you are doing something illegal in public around “the man” you are likely to get arrested, fined, and that badge follows you forever

The federal government denies federal financial aid to those with any drug offenses, and applying for jobs, college, grad school, or trade associations becomes a major pain in the a** too  (b/c you have to check the “no-no” box even for something you did when you were 16!!!). 

This is why, even if we disagree with the laws, here at PartyBlog, we encourage you to follow them for your own safety and protection.  Remember that dancing and socializing releases the same endorphins as sex!

(Now that we have gotten the “party at your own risk” warning out of the way — here are some good options so far that the PartyBlog has uncovered in the northeast to dig your partyfangs into for 4/20.)

420 PARTY OPTIONS

  • BASSNECTAR / BASS CENTER V- 4/20 @ the Liacouras Center (Temple U.), in North Philly.  Here’s what was posted on Bassnecter.net on the event:

“It’s time for another of our massive Bass Center meltdowns, as the Bassnectar crew brings the VAVA VOOM TOUR 2012to Philadelphia, PA at The Liacouras Center on Friday, April 20th, 2012.

This is sure to be another sold-out bass frenzy of epic proportions, so don’t delay in getting your tickets. More details coming soon…

We are excited to welcome A-Trak and VibeSquaD to the line up for this event!

This is an All Ages show.

Doors: 6:00 PM”

http://www.bassnectar.net/2012/01/4202012-bass-center-v-in-philadelpihia-pa/

Tickets are still available but not for long.

  • Shpongle – 4/20 @ The Roseland Ballroom (Times Square, NY, NY).  DJ Set (w/ EOTO + Phutureprimitive)

PartyBlog’s favorite duo and purveyor of techno-jazz-godmusicawesomeness is playing Time’s Square in one of New York’s finest party venues.  Tickets can be purchased here, and for $40 is a steal (Note: we have paid three times as much to see Paul Van Dyk at the Roseland in 2008, which was also an amazing show, and went until 5 AM, nobody parties like those int’l djs, which bodes well for Shpongle):

http://shpongle.frontgatetickets.com/choose.php?a=1&lid=65231&eid=73971

Showtime: 9:00 PM

Dirty Ghosts @ phillymoca. 4/20/12

http://www.philamoca.org/

Doors: 8:30 PM

Spring Shakedown @ theblockley (3801 chestnut st. Philly PA)

http://www.theblockley.com/event/105719/

Feat. Splintered Sunlight (Dead tribute), Control for Smilers (Phish tribute), Cabinet, Philly Funk Hustle.

Doors @ 8.Make sure to arrive on time b/c Funk Hustle, one of Philly’s up and coming funk bands are playing at 8. Last time Funk Hustle played the Blockley to open for Perpetual Groove on St. Paddy’s Day, Funk Hustle killed it, and arguably stole the show.

(NOTE: The PartyBlog will continuously update this post as we come across more promising parties for 4/20, but please comment on this post or in the public comments section to update us with other parties worth our while.  While many places and venues in the area are doing their own 4/20 thang, so far, these seem to be the most promising and therefore get the coveted PartyBlog “PartyStamp of Approval,” and the PartyBlog won’t waste your time by telling you to check out budge shows.)

 

ONE NIGHT ONLY – TONIGHT – BERNIE WORRELL

Bernie Worrell TONIGHT AT THE BLOCKLEY (38th & Chestnut, Philly, PA 9 PM). Tickets – $15 at the door.
http://www.theblockley.com/event/104175/The Woo Wizard Himself Bernie Worrell, one of the first funk masters, a truly innovative genius to which we owe so much of the development of electronic and funk music due to his wizardry and mastery of the Moog Taurus (bass) keyboard, who singlehandedly and fundamentally altered the progression of modern music and thereby culture at large, best exemplified by transformative basslines and key strokes in songs such as FLASHLIGHT and the MOTERHSHIP, IS PLAYING TONIGHT ONLY BY SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT AT THE BLOCKLEY POUR HOUSE!!! OH MY BOD, PRAY FOR ME, THE FUNK SAVES!!!Even today, over 30 years after Worrell first pioneered his legendary sound, his style is still futuristic and exciting. This is the funk baby. It’s what we live for.

Why lack of grand jury might be a good thing for Trayvon

If you have been reading the news, which the PartyBlog always does, you have been watching tv, or just generally don’t live under a rock, the lost city of Atlantis and/or at Walden Pond, you likely have heard about the tragedy that is the Trayvon Martin case.  Yes, it is a tragedy, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of the issue.  It is an undeniable tragedy.  An unarmed teenager walking home (or more accurately to the house in which he had been invited to by his father’s girlfriend and therefore legally had the right be at the Retreat at Twin Lakes development in Sanford, FL) is (by what PartyBlog has surmised in the media) shot without having provoked an encounter with a neighborhood watch block captain George Zimmerman, who had been informed by 911 not to follow and not to initiate contact with Martin.

Such an event occurs, with no arrest, and there will inevitably be calls for the Zimmerman’s head.  Two factions have predictably emerged.  While the more conservative wing has come out in support of Zimmerman’s right to defend himself, the overall tragic nature of this event has seemingly been missed by those who are quick to defend Zimmerman and vilify the ultimate victim here, the teenage Martin.  The other wing may also be guilty of portraying Zimmerman as a gun nut, a vigilante, taking the opportunity not to mourn this tragedy, yet making a politicized episode calling for changes to the Stand Your Ground law and Florida’s gun-happy policies in general.

Sadly, these two sides seem to miss the point.  Here are the facts — there is no dispute that a youngster, walking around in an area where he was permitted, unarmed, was shot and killed.  This itself is a tragedy of grand magnitude, and as anyone would acknowledge, if Martin were your relative, brother, boyfriend, son, or friend, you would be calling for Zimmerman’s arrest as well.

The PartyBlog was confused by the decision announced by special prosecutor Angela Corey on Monday, April 9, 2012, not to charge Zimmerman before a grand jury.  However, after reviewing numerous articles about the issue, it seems that by avoiding the grand jury, it also prevents the prosecutors from “passing the buck” of a politicized case to a non-public, non-accountable grand jury to answer the question, and possibly to condone not only Zimmerman but the Stand Your Ground policy in general that has gripped the entire country, regardless of which side you lend your support.  By the nature of this case, the decision of whether to prosecute has taken on so much more meaning, especially in the shadow of an upcoming presidential election, after the president himself has given public support to Martin’s cause, the same president who has been effectively branded as an anti-gun advocate despite having failed to pass a single piece of legislation that would point to such a conclusion.  Yet, the ultimate message that seems to have been lost is the simple tragic nature of this case.  We have a killing, potentially done in cold blood against a young man, who was unarmed, therefore the decision to prosecute should be an easy one, so that the family of this fallen victim may have their day in court.

Unfortunately for the Martin family, this tragedy occurred at a time when Florida, by way of the “Stand Your Ground” law, promoted by lobbyists when it was passed, likely against the perceived threat against gun ownership in this country, has essentially turned traditional self-defense law on its head.  Under the common law, self defense was only available as an affirmative defense, meaning that if you undoubtedly killed someone, it was your duty to prove that you acted in self-defense.  Without engaging in an in-depth legal analysis of the “Stand Your Ground” law, it appears that the Florida law provides that if a suspect claims self defense, and makes a minimal showing in support thereof (for example, by saying “I was in fear of my life”), it becomes the duty of the prosecutors to prove it was not the case (this is a simplification, but this is how the law seems to operate based upon reporting on the issue), a challenge once the victim is dead.  Certainly, many experts of the Florida law have even stated publicly that the Zimmerman prosecution will be a difficult case to win, especially due to the contradicting stories, which, if true (that Zimmerman’s head was in fact “slammed” into the pavement by Martin, or that Martin punched him while Zimmerman was on the ground) would indicate that Zimmerman may have acted in accordance with self defense per the Florida Law (even though, having been around and involved in many street fights, PartyBoy Geezy never feared for its life in such a situation, even when getting slammed into the ground, obviously, because a PartyBoy doesn’t need to carry a gun to make noise, and it would follow logically, that only an individual intending to use a gun in a fight would feel threatened with one’s life once the fight turns against him, because the cheapy-fighter who resorts to gun battle in hand to hand combat would probably assume the other party would use the same type of dirty tactics).

Again, however, the PartyBlog wants to highlight problems with Florida’s self-defense law, for it does not seem to discourage aggression.  The main issue the PartyBlog has with the Stand Your Ground is that it does not discourage an individual from acting aggressively in an explosive situation.  So in any type of situation, including fights in da club, once fists break out, guns can quickly break out too, and the shooter can walk free.  The entire purpose of the self-defense in the common law is to discourage fighting and the use of deadly force – to invoke the defense, traditionally, one could not be the aggressor, or initiate the contact.   Like abortion, it should be rare and necessary.  Once Zimmerman allegedly gives chase to Martin, it would seem that common law self defense would not be available to Zimmerman, because Zimmerman seems like the aggressor and Martin seems like the one defending himself.  Under traditional self-defense, you cannot be the aggressor and the individual privileged to act with deadly force.  Are these not questions that should be decided in a court-room, as opposed to a public debate which has devolved into arguments about the victim’s facebook account, thuggery, and vigilantism?

Ultimately, this case is rife with questions:  Why would Martin run away, only to return by swooping around Zimmerman’s car to attack his would-be pursuer? Who is telling the truth when Zimmerman claims that Martin was on top of Zimmerman punching him and slamming his head into the pavement when witnesses have told the press otherwise?  What about the calls for help heard on 911 that witnesses claimed belonged to Martin but Zimmerman claims to be his own?  If Zimmerman was defending himself in accordance with the Stand Your Ground law – this case has raised to the surface the a law that the PartyBlog would deem a sheer and utter failure in preventing violence (the ultimate purpose of these laws) by permitting an individual to start a fight or chase somebody then claim self defense after the shooting occurs.

It is the opinion of the PartyBlog that due to all of the bad reporting, questionable circumstances and contradictory stories surrounding this story that the most appropriate venue to determine the propriety and reasonableness of Zimmerman’s actions is a court of law.  For that reason, the decision to avoid a grand jury was a good one, eliminating the the risk that a grand jury would make the political decision to throw out this case.   Under normal circumstances, a grand jury proceeding is like a rubber stamp for the prosecution.  Do not be fooled, however, this is not a normal case.  Everybody has an opinion, and it’s getting ugly.  One side seeking to demonize an average teenager who may have made mistakes in his life yet certainly was no thug, the other side seeking to demonize Zimmerman who is innocent until proven guilty, the Florida Law of self defense, and possibly the Sanford police that let Zimmerman walk. Ultimately, even a grand jury might let their prejudices (based upon which camp you are in) dictate the decision.  Best to wait until a public trial to let a jury decide the matter.

Fact of the matter is, if Florida declines not to prosecute, Zimmerman can be and likely will be prosecuted by the Federal government.  So it is better to allow Corey to make the decision herself, without turning a grand jury into a referendum for the country-at-large.  Ultimately, if Corey is the reliable and tough prosecutor she’ll see what the PartyBlog sees, that this case — with the contradictory accounts and the questions surrounding this tragedy, which left a young man, who was unarmed, dead within moments of being shot in the chest on the front yard in a quiet subdivision — should be handled in the good old fashioned American way, in a court of law and not in the court of public opinion.  Also, party people, be aware that what happened to Trayvon can happen to anyone caught off guard, in the club, honking at the car in front of you while frustrated at traffic.   It reminds us partiers to keep our cool, and be prepared to try to defuse a situation if someone else is the aggressor.  Because if you fight back, you don’t know who knows [insert racial group here] “judo” (as the inappropriate and racist joke goes)…judo know I gotta knife, judo know I gotta gun…the joke seems funny until it’s not a joke anymore, and you realize it’s both really offensive and really scary because judo know whose got one – white black yellow Peurto Rican or Hatian.  And above all else, partypeople, recognize this whole politicized debate as what it really is, an American tragedy.

 

PARTY UPDATE — as of April 11, 6 PM, special prosecutor Angela Corey has charged Zimmerman with 2d degree murder.  This means that the prosecution believes it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted with the intent to harm without regard to human life, and that Zimmerman did not act in accordance with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, but the murder was not pre-meditated.  Often prosecutors will seek the harshest punishment possible, and then juries may downgrade the crime to a lesser degree, such as manslaughter, in order to split the baby.   Second degree murder is the harshest penalty Florida prosecutors may seek in this instance, without convening a grand jury.  Feel free to comment or ask the PartyBlog and its legal experts (by way of comment) any questions you may have about the ongoing developments of this case. 

Camp Bisco Line Up Released

Last week, the line up for Camp Bisco 2012 was released.  Here is the response I received from Corbisco Rodisco:

holyshitholyshitholyshit, the lineup is better than I could have possibly imagined.  Amon Tobin!  Bassnectar!  Skrillex!  Big Boi!  Portugal the Man!  It’s settled, I’m going.  Pretty sure my friend Steve is going too.  Who’s in??

Well, Corbisco, I’m fairly certain that about 30 thousand other people are in, as are the results Party People.  From the looks of things, this is going to be the best Camp Bisco yet, and if you haven’t bought your tix yet, maybe time to start saving and do it before the prices go up.  Considering that Shpongle is going to be there too, and if you have seen their tour this year or listened to their new album, “The God Particle,” the reasons not to miss Camp Bisco keep growing…Let’s just say Shpongle just played the e-factory this past weekend, and they certainly did not disappoint!  Yes, PartyBlog thinks it is time to bear witness to Camp Bisco, despite the fact that it is also guaranteed to be a total hippie crack fest.  Remember kids – do music, not hippie crack…