Why the no-fly zone over Arkansas tar sands spill?

Could it be they don’t want people to see just how bad it is?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had a “no fly zone” in place in Mayflower, Arkansas since April 1 at 2:12 PM and will be in place “until further notice,” according to the FAA website and it’s being overseen by ExxonMobil itself. In other words, any media or independent observers who want to witness the tar sands spill disaster have to ask Exxon’s permission.

Mayflower is the site of the recent major March 29 ExxonMobil Pegagus tar sands pipeline spill, which belched out an estimated 5,000 barrels of tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) into the small town’s neighborhoods, causing the evacuation of 22 homes.

The rules of engagement for the no fly zone dictate that no aircraft can fly within 1,000 feet of the ground in the five-mile radiussurrounding the ExxonMobil Pegasus tar sands pipeline spill. The area located within this radius includes the nearby Pine Village Airport.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed that the FAA site noted earlier today that “only relief aircraft operations under direction of Tom Suhrhoff” were allowed within the designated no fly zone.

Suhrhoff is not an FAA employee: he works for ExxonMobil as an “Aviation Advisor” and formerly worked as a U.S. Army pilot for 24 years, according to his LinkedIn page.

Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokesman, told Dow Jones a no fly zone was issued because “at least one” helicopter was needed to move clean-up crews around, as well as to spot oil that can’t be seen from the ground.

“The pilot of the helicopter needs to be able to move about freely without potential conflicts with other aircraft,” he told Dow Jones.

This also means press is prohibited from the area, though Lunsford told Dow Jones that the FAA “is in the process of amending the restriction to allow news media aircraft into the area.”

When will news media be allowed back into the designated no fly zone area? That portion of the question was either never asked by Dow Jones or never answered by Lunsford.

Virtually Speaking Thursday

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd 6pm Pacific, 9p Eastern
Stuart Zechman considers trust funds, specifically about how the redirection of the Highway Trust Fund to general federal revenues presages the plans for the Social Security Trust Fund if the centrists, ‘moderates” and other Very Serious People in Washington have their way. Follow @StuartZechman

Listen http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/04/05/stuart-zechman-virtually-speaking-with-jay-acrkroyd

Offshore accounts

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have done a remarkable job with this story — or rather, stories. Don’t know who gave them these records, but damn! Go read, here’s just a taste:

Secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveal tens of thousands of people in more than 170 countries and territories linked to offshore companies and trusts. Here are some examples from around the world:

Georgia
Bidzina Ivanishvili
Prime Minister

Details: Georgia’s richest man, with a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at more than $5 billion. Was elected prime minister in October 2012, straight from the business world.

Offshore business: Director of Bosherston Overseas Corp. in the British Virgin Islands (2006). The company is still in existence, according to BVI records.

Comment: “For the reporting period of 2011-2012 Prime Minister Ivanishvili had no interest in the company you have mentioned in your inquiry and therefore there was no obligation to report it in his declaration. The Prime Minister takes these reporting requirements seriously and everything is done according to the law,” a spokesman said.

France
Jean-Jacques Augier
Publisher

Details: Campaign treasurer of François Hollande for the 2012 presidential elections. They studied together at the prestigious National School of Management (ENA). He’s also chief executive officer of investment holding company Eurane SA, mainly focused on the publishing field.

Offshore business: Shareholder — through Eurane SA — and director of International Bookstores Ltd (2005) in the Cayman Islands.

Comment: Jean-Jacques Augier said he used the company to do a large investment in China in 2005. One of his partners in the offshore firm was Xi Shu, a businessman and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body in China dominated by the Communist Party but with representatives from other parties and organizations.

Digging

ur

Until I was about 16, I wanted to be an archaeologist. So I still find this stuff fascinating:

BAGHDAD (AP) — British archaeologists said Thursday they have unearthed a sprawling complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham.

The structure, thought to be about 4,000 years old, probably served as an administrative center for Ur, around the time Abraham would have lived there before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible.

The compound is near the site of the partially reconstructed Ziggurat, or Sumerian temple, said Stuart Campbell of Manchester University’s Archaeology Department, who led the dig.

“This is a breathtaking find,” Campbell said, because of its unusually large size — roughly the size of a football pitch, or about 80 meters (260 feet) on each side. The archaeologist said complexes of this size and age were rare.

“It appears that it is some sort of public building. It might be an administrative building, it might have religious connections or controlling goods to the city of Ur,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the U.K.

The complex of rooms around a large courtyard was found 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Ur, the last capital of the Sumerian royal dynasties whose civilization flourished 5,000 years ago.

Campbell said one of the artifacts they unearthed was a 9-centimeter (3.5-inch) clay plaque showing a worshipper wearing a long, fringed robe, approaching a sacred site.
Beyond artifacts, the site could reveal the environmental and economic conditions of the region through analysis of plant and animal remains, the archaeological team said in a statement.

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