Monday, September 03, 2007

"They're Back!" 130 Liberty Street Official's Record at Ground Zero

Patterns That Reveal Gold Price Capping
How Far Will the Crash Go and What Do We Do Now?
Baer Says Iran Conflict is Coming
Zbig Endorses Obama
Most Interesting Hypothesis To Date on Motives for Iraq Invasion

Wisdom from Saturday night's fortune cookie: A bargain is something you don't need at a price you can't resist.

"They're Back!" 130 Liberty Street Official's Ground Zero Record

Jenna Orkin*

The fire at 130 Liberty Street on August 18 resulting in the deaths of two firefighters, Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino, has shed light on a number of metaphorical cockroaches and other scurrilous characters who have been operating behind the scenes of the ill-fated 'deconstruction' of the toxic former Deutsche Bank building.

One such, brought to light by the New York Sun , is Michael Burton, project manager at the site for United Research Services, a company linked to the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge this summer.

Burton rose to prominence during the cleanup of Ground Zero when he was Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction which he had helped create in 1997.

While one might have expected federal agencies such as FEMA and EPA to take charge of the cleanup, in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by Worby Grone Edelman and Napoli Bern against the city, Burton stated that FEMA's role in the disaster was simply to pay the State. while the abdication of EPA has been voluminously documented.

As far as speed goes, Burton’s m.o. worked. While initially projected to take 1½ years and cost $1.4 billion, in the end the cleanup took only 10 months and cost $800 million. But other priorities got lost in the process.

One was legal. The premium placed on "getting back to normalcy" [sic] led to the destruction of evidence from a crime scene of international importance. Burton and other DDC officials made the decision to transport much of the structural steel to scrap yards, to be shipped abroad and melted down for reuse.

Burton cleared the decision with Richard Tomasetti of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, the prime consultant on the cleanup job. However, referring to the subsequent WTC investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology... Tomasetti later admit[ted] that had he known the direction that investigations into the collapses would take, he would have taken a different stand.

The other cost was human health. By waiving environmental laws on the pretext of emergency, the cleanup exposed the surrounding community to record levels of contamination. The barge operation, for instance, took place largely at the doorstep of Stuyvesant High School, (where this writer’s son was a student) and within a few blocks of a college, several elementary schools, a middle school and a residence for 5000.

Nor was the exposure restricted to Lower Manhattan or even New York City. This writer also remembers receiving an email from South Korea around December 2001 saying they were getting WTC scrap - Was it contaminated?

According to the WGENB lawsuit, safety during the cleanup was also not a high priority with Burton although defenders of the operation point out that injuries were comparatively low.

Bechtel, one of the four main contractors involved, maintained that the safety discrepancies they reported to Burton were wholly ignored. And in an intra-agency memo to Burton, DDC Health and Safety Officer Bob Adams wrote, “There was minimal follow-through by project management on safety... Universal opinion at the WTC Site was that there was a lack of commitment by senior project management to address safety concerns in a timely manner; and hold the supervision accountable. The City, the DDC and the contractors appeared to only address safety issues when doing so was convenient for the schedule of the project."

As for health, despite the by now infamous assurances that post-9/11 conditions downtown were relatively harmless, Burton apparently knew better. Unlike some Ground Zero workers who went home in contaminated clothes, thereby exposing their families, when Burton got home, he stripped before going inside to avoid contaminating the house, his main worry at that moment being that the neighbors might be looking.

The demolition of the former Deutsche Bank is 9/11 Redux, the same cast of characters (not only Burton but also Bovis, one of the four main companies at Ground Zero which is also implicated in the WGENB lawsuit) performing the same activities with the same ASAP mindset. And once again, the scope of the scandal is only being fully recognized when it's too late.

*Jenna Orkin of the World Trade Center Environmental Organization is one of twelve original plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the EPA.


Rice Farmer said...

"Motive for Iraq invasion" -- very interesting! I recall reading, some time ago, an article about a photo analyst who found what he thought was evidence of pipeline construction activity in Iraq from nighttime satellite photos. Was a new pipeline being built, or this existing pipeline being repaired?

In other news:
Oil refiners agree to phase out LPG exports

This is interesting because it is more evidence that the Export Land Model is correct.

Tyler Havlin said...

Cheney Orders Media to Sell Attack on Iran

An organized mass media campaign to propagandize for a military strike on Iran mirrors exactly what happened in late 2002 in preparation for the invasion of Iraq and would be seen as par for the course in anticipation of an attack that presidential candidate Ron Paul amongst other expert observers fear will take place within 12 months .

The issuance of orders for Neo-Con mass media arms to push for an assault on Iran also puts the U.S. on red alert for a terror attack, whether real or manufactured, which Dick Cheney has already promised will immediately be blamed on Iran no matter who the real culprits are.

Rice Farmer said...

Couple of noteworthy items on the financial page today. First, China's dependency on oil imports is now 48.8%. Although stated matter-of-factly in the article, I sense a bit of panic from Japan. Here's an article in English.

Second, Japan's government announced yesterday that it's adding 137 items to a list of products and industries that require advance notification from foreign investors who want to buy in. Some of the additions are carbon fiber, titanium alloys, industrial robots, machine tools, optical lenses, cameras, batteries, and optical fibers for communication cables.

Rice Farmer said...

According to the link you give, Burton got the "Award of Excellence." I'm speechless.

Rice Farmer said...

There's lots of talk about currencies -- the Euro, US$, the "Amero," -- but few people seem to know there are also plans for an Asian regional currency.

Robert Paulsen said...

"How far will the crash go?" Asking that question, I also have to ask, what does anyone here know about the Northeast Intelligence Network? Are they some kind of Mossad offshoot? They claim to have some interesting inside info:

$1 Billion in suspicious stock activity reminiscent of pre-9/11 conditions
Submitted by admin on Thu, 2007-08-30 01:41. U.S. News

29 August 2007: In the weeks preceding the 2001 attacks on America, there were very significant financial warning signs that something big – and bad – could be about to happen. Huge surges in purchases of “put options” on stocks of United Airlines and American Airlines, the two airlines used in the attacks, and “put options” on Merrill Lynch & Co., and Morgan Stanley, stocks of two financial services companies hurt by the attack were noted. Put options are essentially “bets” that a stock or stock index will drop on or before a certain date; the larger the drop, the bigger the gain for the purchaser of the option.

Fast forward to the present day, and we have the same type of trading that took place in the days that preceded the 9/11 attacks – but on a larger scale. Nearly $1 billion of “put options” have been purchased, basically betting that Standard and Poor's 500 index will fall significantly by the third Friday in September. A large number of these options have also been purchased calling for 50% decline by September 21, 2007. For example, a 5% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average would be the current equivalent of about 670 points. A decline of 11% would equal about 1,470 points in today’s market. Obviously, larger drops, such as a 50% decline, would cause an unprecedented market collapse. Money would be made for the purchaser(s) of the put options – but the same purchaser(s) stand to lose over $1 BILLION in the investment if the market remains relatively static through September 21, 2007.

The questions are: who can stand to lose $1 BILLION, who will gain in the wake of such a devastating collapse, who are the investors, and what do they know that we don’t?

A 50% decline in the S&P 500 by 9/21? Sounds like more than just the current subprime fiasco. This story was written a week ago, in which time the S&P has gone up. But within the past week, look what else happened concerning the S&P:

Standard & Poor's president makes an abrupt departure
By Danny Fortson
Published: 01 September 2007

The president of Standard & Poor's, the world's biggest credit-rating agency, has stepped down with immediate effect amid growing controversy about the role that ratings agencies have played in the global credit crisis.

An S&P spokesman said the resignation of Kathleen Corbet, announced yesterday, had "absolutely nothing" to do with the turmoil in the markets. "Kathleen stepped down to pursue other professional opportunities and to spend more time with her family," he said. Her exit was nonetheless seen as the latest instance of a scalp claimed by the meltdown in credit markets.

There's part of me that thinks maybe this is just about the credit crisis. There's another part of me that thinks this has shades of Buzzy Krongard written all over it.

gaelicgirl said...

James Howard Kunstler has posted on his website a letter from an oil industry insider in Britain regarding Britain's energy 'prepardness' in the near future. Scary and quite revealing. Go to the website and scroll down to "The Daily Grunt":

Rice Farmer said...

Iraqi Crude Oil Flowing Through Turkey

Could it be this pipeline?

Rice Farmer said...

On a mailing list to which I subscribe, one person running a small business said that he was stunned recently when a certain big bank, at which he had an account, suddenly sent him a curt letter announcing that they would no longer be doing business with him, and he had two days to close his account. He had done nothing wrong, the bank acknowledged. That sparked postings by a number of other people which revealed a pattern in which big banks seem to be shedding customers who aren't big and rich. It's increasingly becoming a rich man's world.