BP hasn't yet been able to stop the flow of oil, but it's been more successful at controlling the information coming out about the Gulf disaster.
McClatchy reported on Tuesday that BP has been withholding the results of "tests on the extent of workers' exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning crude over the Gulf." The data is important to determining whether current conditions are safe for workers in the Gulf, researchers told McClatchy. BP said it's sharing the data with "legitimate interested parties," but would not release it publicly. [...]
BP has maintained there's "just no way to measure" the oil flow, even as the company turned down scientists offering to measure it with techniques that could yield a more accurate result. A BP spokesman told The New York Times that calculating the flow is "not relevant to the response effort."
When a crew from CBS News tried to film an oil-covered beach in Louisiana, they were stopped and threatened with arrest by a group of BP contractors and members of the Coast Guard. "This is BP's rules, it's not ours."
Besides lying to everyone about the extent of the damage, and the company's culpability in the spill, BP has started to wield its power over the US government by having the Coast Guard keep prying journalists from seeing the effects on Louisiana's shoreline. Governor Bobby Jindal had recently visited the site, telling reporters, "This wasn't just sheen, we were seeing heavy oil out there." When the CBS News crew arrived to film the area, BP's muscle showed up, too.
The latest video footage of the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico show that oil is escaping at the rate of 95,000 barrels -- 4 million gallons -- a day, nearly 20 times greater than the 5,000 barrel a day estimate BP and government scientists have been citing for nearly three weeks, an engineering professor told a congressional hearing Wednesday.
The figure of 5,000 barrels a day or 210,000 gallons that BP and the federal government have been using for weeks is based on satellite observations of the surface. But NASA's best satellite-based instruments can't see deep into the waters of the Gulf, where much of the oil from the gusher 5,000 feet below the surface seems to be floating. [...]
He said the calculation could be off by 20 percent -- meaning the spill could range from between 76,000 to 104,000 barrels a day. But Wereley said he would need to see videos that were not compressed and showed the flow over a longer period so that it would be possible to get a better calculation of the mix of oil and gas from the wellhead.
"The true extent of this spill remains a mystery," Markey said. He said the BP had said that the flow rate was not relevant to the cleanup effort. "This faulty logic that BP is using is... raising concerns that they are hiding the full extent of the damage of this leak."
Australian customs officers have been given new powers to search incoming travellers' laptops and mobile phones for pornography, a spokeswoman for the Australian sex industry says.
Customs confirmed the new reference to "pornography" on the Incoming Passenger Cards and the search powers, acknowledging that searches conducted by officers may involve the discovery of "personal or sensitive possessions".
A spokesman said officers were trained to apply "tact and discretion" in their dealings with passengers.