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May 16, 2013

What BP Doesn’t Want You to Know About the 2010 Gulf Spill

What BP Doesn’t Want You to Know About the 2010 Gulf Spill - Newsweek and The Daily Beast
One mile underwater, the Macondo well had blown apart, unleashing a gusher of oil into the gulf. At risk were fishing areas that supplied one third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., beaches from Texas to Florida that drew billions of dollars’ worth of tourism to local economies, and Obama’s chances of reelection. Republicans were blaming him for mishandling the disaster, his poll numbers were falling, even his 11-year-old daughter was demanding, “Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?” Griffin did as she was told: “I tried Pine-Sol, bleach, I even tried Dawn on those floors.” As she scrubbed, the mix of cleanser and gunk occasionally splashed onto her arms and face. Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. She lost her voice. “My throat felt like I’d swallowed razor blades,” she says. Then things got much worse. Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July, unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws. In August, she began losing her short-term memory. After cooking professionally for 10 years, she couldn’t remember the recipe for vegetable soup; one morning, she got in the car to go to work, only to discover she hadn’t put on pants. The right side, but only the right side, of her body “started acting crazy. It felt like the nerves were coming out of my skin. It was so painful. My right leg swelled—my ankle would get as wide as my calf—and my skin got incredibly itchy.” “These are the same symptoms experienced by soldiers who returned from the Persian Gulf War with Gulf War syndrome,” says Dr. Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana physician and former state senator, who treated Griffin and 113 other patients with similar complaints. As a general practitioner, Robichaux says he had “never seen this grouping of symptoms together: skin problems, neurological impairments, plus pulmonary problems.” Only months later, after Kaye H. Kilburn, a former professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and one of the nation’s leading environmental health experts, came to Louisiana and tested 14 of Robichaux’s patients did the two physicians make the connection with Gulf War syndrome, the malady that afflicted an estimated 250,000 veterans of that war with a mysterious combination of fatigue, skin inflammation, and cognitive problems.

May 14, 2013

Rich Families Hiring Tour Guides With Disabilities So They Can Skip Long Lines At Disney World

Rich Families Hiring Tour Guides With Disabilities So They Can Skip Long Lines At Disney World – Consumerist
Do you know who deserves to skip lines at amusement parks? People with disabilities. Do you know who probably doesn’t deserve to skip lines at amusement parks? People who just can’t stand the thought of waiting with the rest of us peons but who don’t want to pay for VIP guides or fast passes. Unfortunately, one report says the latter has recruited the former so wealthy parents and their children can cut to the front of lines at Disney World. The New York Post spoke to a social anthropologist who claims to have discovered a scheme that makes us feel icky inside: Wealthy Manhattan moms and dads who hire disabled people to act like family members, so they and their children can cut to the front of the line. These so-called “black-market Disney guides” use the amusement park’s policy of allowing handicapped guests to bring up to six guests to a “more convenient entrance.” The price for such a service runs $130 an hour or $1,040 for an eight-hour day at the park. Compare that to Disney’s VIP guided tours, which go from $315 to $380 per hour. It’s reportedly organized by a tour company out of Florida, and is apparently all the rage among the one percenters.

When is a journalist not a journalist?

When he's a Palestinian. 'Newseum' folds under pressure, will not honor Gaza journalists killed reporting on Israeli attack
Last week we reported Israel supporters were pressuring the Newseum to drop two Palestinian journalists, Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama, from its yearly event honoring reporters killed in the line of duty. Al-Kumi and Salama worked for Al-Aqsa television and were killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza last November. Although the Newseum originally defended their inclusion, this morning the Washington, DC-based museum dedicated to the news industry announced that al-Kumi and Salama would in fact not be a part of today's ceremony.