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Regret, apology not part of BP's oil spill report

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  • But it does provide an early look at the company's probable legal strategy — spreading the blame among itself, rig owner Transocean, and cement contractor Halliburton — as it deals with hundreds of lawsuits, billions of dollars in claims and possible criminal charges in the coming months and years.
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  • Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report
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Dina Cappiello, Associated Press

File - In this April 21, 2010 file image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Oil giant BP PLC says in an internal report released Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010 that multiple companies and work teams contributed to the massive Gulf of Mexico spill that fouled waters and shorelines for months.

BP's long-awaited internal report on what it believes went wrong when a rig exploded and started the massive Gulf oil spill never mentions the words blame, regret, apology, mistake or pollution. The word fault shows up 20 times, but only once in the same sentence as the company's name.

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BP took some of the blame, acknowledging among other things that it misinterpreted a key pressure test of the well that blew out and eventually spewed 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. But in a possible preview of its legal strategy, it also pointed the finger — and plenty — at its partners on the doomed rig.

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Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report, Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

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  • Rather than take issue with the report's findings, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's (BOEMRE) new reform-oriented director, Michael Bromwich, has responded with an implementation plan aimed at fixing the problems.
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  • Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil
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Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report

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  • Rather than take issue with the report's findings, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's (BOEMRE) new reform-oriented director, Michael Bromwich, has responded with an implementation plan aimed at fixing the problems.
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  • Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil
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Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

In a dramatic illustration of regulatory capture, a new report from an Interior Department review board has found that poorly trained, ill-equipped and overextended federal inspectors who were supposed to be policing the nation's offshore oil and gas drilling facilities were routinely bullied by industry representatives and were often undercut by their managers when they reported safety violations.

The review board was appointed after a BP rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, causing the worst accidental offshore oil spill in history. Its report paints a devastating picture of the Minerals Management Service, the agency now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).

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Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil, Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t

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  • Toxic Dispersants Found on Recently Opened Mississippi Shrimping and Oyster Grounds
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  • BP and Administration: Lies, Deceit, and Coverup in the Gulf
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Steep rate hikes on way for individual health insurance

Double-digit rate increases are hitting most individual health-insurance plans in Washington state, hurting jobless workers and worrying insurance regulators.

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Carol M. Ostrom, Seattle Times | WA

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Whopping rate increases are coming soon for many people with individual health-insurance policies.

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Most insurers offering individual policies in the state have asked for and been granted rate increases, effective Oct. 1, according to the state's insurance commissioner.

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Regence BlueShield's rate increase — an average 16.5 percent — was one of the highest. It was topped by Asuris Northwest Health, a Regence subsidiary, with an increase of 23.7 percent.

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Group Health Cooperative, the fifth-largest insurer of individuals, was considerably lower, with an 8.2 percent increase. But its newer program, Group Health Options, asked for a 22 percent increase.

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A lot of angry customers are asking why. Fat-cat insurance executives raking in bonuses? Hospitals and docs cranking up prices? Aging boomers insisting on MRIs for every ache? Pricey health-care mandates?

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State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who reviews rate requests, has some answers, but his lips are sealed somewhat — by law. He can't talk about insurers' costs or profit margins.

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Mobile Payment Systems Could Leave Consumers At Risk


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Consumers Union Calls on Regulators to Require Mobile Payment Providers Abide by Strong Consumer Protections

Consumers Union

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Recent news stories have highlighted how consumers in the U.S. soon will be able to pay for products and services with a wave of their smart phones. But while mobile payment technologies may offer a convenient new way to pay for goods and services, consumers could be at risk of losing money when mistakes are made by merchants and processors or as a result of fraud, according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

“As mobile payments systems come to the U.S., product providers and regulators need to make sure that they are at least as safe for consumers to use as traditional credit card and debit card payments,” said Michelle Jun, staff attorney for Consumers Union. “It is critical that mobile payment systems are covered by strong rules to protect consumers from losing money because of fraud, processor error or a dispute with a retailer.”

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Less college? First, define your terms

A more educated workforce is a must, but schooling can take various forms.

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Jennifer Godinez and Matt Kane, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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In "Maybe fewer people should go to college'' (Aug. 15), Mitch Pearlstein laid out some key challenges in higher education, especially the problems with soaring college costs and debt, and the inordinate time many students are taking to acquire a four-year degree nowadays.
And it was courageous of Pearlstein to suggest that some current university students from affluent families might not really be motivated or qualified for the demands of traditional four-year colleges.

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Unfortunately, the headline may have implied to many readers that fewer students overall should obtain some form of post-secondary education. That would be about as wrong a signal as one can send on this subject. And it's especially discouraging to the aspirations of our students of color, who need to dramatically improve their higher-education completion rates.

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Maybe fewer people should go to college, Mitch Pearlstein, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN
Maybe they'd be happier learning a trade. ... Or maybe nothing will change.

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Deregulation, Market Concentration at the Root of Egg Recall

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  • And this is how we get the circumstance that the FDA cannot even recall foods, and has to hope that corporations do it on a voluntary basis.
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  • Proper levels of funding for the agency have languished
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  • Please ask your senators to make recalling unsafe food mandatory.
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David Dayen, FireDogLake

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

Jon Cohn explores the egg recall in greater detail, and comes to a similar conclusion as I did: that it just shows a continuation of e.coli conservatism, particularly the fervor for deregulation that goes back 30 years:

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This is not a story that begins with the administration of George W. Bush. It begins, instead, with the administration of Ronald Reagan. Convinced that excessive regulation was stifling American innovation and imposing unnecessary costs on the public, Reagan’s team changed the way government makes rules.
Prior to the 1980s, agencies like the FDA had authority to finalize regulations on their own. Reagan changed that, forcing agencies to submit all regulations to the Office of Management and Budget, which cast a more skeptical eye on anything that would require the government or business to spend more money. The regulatory process slowed down and, in many cases, the people in charge of it became more skittish.

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There are new egg regulations in place now, implemented this year, but the food safety bill, which would give the FDA authority over recalls, has languished. So has proper levels of funding for the agency.

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Rotten Eggs, Andre Delattre, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)
Please ask your senators to make recalling unsafe food mandatory.

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Auto comeback celebrated, but there’s a cost

Right-wingers have no answer for today's problems in the auto industry, where the situation is far different from a year ago. The dust has settled but it came at a cost.

John Rummel, People's World

President Obama visited a General Motors in Hamtramck and a Chrysler plant in Detroit Friday (August 13) to celebrate the comeback of the two auto companies. But the comeback has come with a cost.

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The president received enthusiastic receptions from workers at both plants. Over a thousand at Chrysler's North Jefferson plant gathered to hear him.

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At GM's Hamtramck plant, where the new electric Chevy Volt is being made, Obama told cheering workers, "It's estimated that we would have lost another million jobs if we had not stepped in."

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Warehouse workers suffer while Wal-Mart rakes in cash

"Major companies are making millions of dollars, like Wal-Mart, and they're far from broke. In fact they treat their workers bad in order to increase their profits while some guy working at a warehouse can't feed his kids. It's just wrong."

Pepe Lozano, People's World

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Tory Moore of Warehouse Workers for Justice.

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Tory Moore, 37, from Kankakee, Ill., worked as a temp warehouse worker in the southwest suburbs of Chicago for six years before he was fired in December 2009, after standing up for his rights.

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Moore said he asked for a pay raise each year and noticed that his paychecks were consistently short. So naturally he complained.

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"That's why I got fired," he said.

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