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Louisiana looks for ‘smoking gun’ to link Isaac tar balls to Gulf oil disaster

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Louisiana is investigating whether tar balls deposited on Gulf of Mexico beaches by Hurricane Isaac were relics of the 2010 BP oil disaster.

Government agencies and environmental groups this week reported weathered oil in areas which took the brunt of last week’s hurricane – and which were also heavily damaged by the 4.9m barrel gusher from BP’s leaking oil well.

“I’d say there is a smoking gun,” Garrett Graves, the coastal adviser to Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal, told news organisations. “It’s an area that experienced heavy oiling during the spill.”

State officials shut down commercial fishing and all shrimping in a 13-mile stretch from Port Fourchon to Caminada Pass, after observing tar mats and high concentration of tar balls on beaches.

The Gulf Restoration Network, which has been touring the aftermath of Isaac by air and boat this week, said crew had reported 109 dead pelican in the wake of the storm and oil in a number of locations on the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

“We saw a fair amount of oil sheen and fresh tar balls at Ship Island, one of the Mississippi barrier islands,” said Aaron Viles, a spokesman for the coalition of environmental groups. “The storm really delivered a shock to the ecosystem, and we are seeing BP oil showing up again and we are seeing, unfortunately, real impacts to an ecosystem still struggling to recover.”

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The Gulf network had repeatedly warned that powerful storms risked dredging up oil that had been purposely sunk to the ocean floor, by the use of chemical dispersants in the wake of the BP oil spill.

“When a storm system comes through it re-exposes oil that has settled to the bottom or was buried under sediment, and that newly re-exposed oil is showing up in places that had a lot of oil during the BP spill,” Viles said.

The oil company said the high number of offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico made it impossible to tie the tar mats to the runaway BP well without comprehensive testing.

The US coastguard is investigating about 90 reported cases of oil and chemical leaks following Isaac, including suspected leaks from offshore platforms and a vacated storage terminal at Myrtle Grove.

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Environmental groups have warned of damage to wetlands and a citrus grove from an oil spill from a Conoco Phillips refinery in Plaquemines Parish, which took a battering in Isaac.

There was also a chemical release in Braithwaite, where two people were killed in flooding.

The coastguard has sent oil samples to it lab in Connecticut for testing, officials said.

BP said in its statement that it would be “premature” to draw any conclusions about the sources of the oil before tests came back.

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“It is important to fingerprint the residual oil to determine its origin. If any of it is connected to the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP stands ready to remove it,” the oil company said.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

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Rachel Maddow unleashes hellfire on Trump’s long history of appointing shady characters to his cabinet

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On Tuesday, in response to the news that Defense Secretary nominee Patrick Shanahan is withdrawing over a domestic violence scandal, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow walked through President Donald Trump's catastrophically bad attempts to staff the top levels of the military system — attempts that led to a long parade of people withdrawing in disgrace.

First, Maddow noted, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort unsuccessfully tried to get a bank CEO he struck a corrupt deal with to the Pentagon — only for that CEO to himself be arrested and charged with a federal crime.

"Don't worry, though, they had a plan 'B,'" said Maddow. "The president found another guy to nominate for that same job ... That announcement, Vinnie Viola, that plan "B" seemed to be going well until this part of that nominee's track record was released by the local police department in Saratoga Springs, New York. A police incident report about the new Trump Army Cecretary nominee punching a guy out at a high-end horse auction in Saratoga Springs ... less than six months before Trump announced him as his plan 'B' nominee to be Secretary of the Army. I guess they didn't Google him."

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Trump says ‘Republicans do not believe in socialism’ — but promises to ‘defend Medicare and Social Security’

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President Donald Trump complained about socialism seconds before promising to defend socialist programs during his official 2020 re-election campaign kickoff in Orland, Florida.

Trump first complained about Medicare for All, which would expand the popular health care program for seniors to those below age 65.

"America will never be a socialist country," Trump argued, to applause.

"Republicans do not believe in socialism," he argued. "We believe in freedom, and so do you."

"We will defend Medicare and Social Security for our great seniors," Trump bizarrely said next.

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Trump introduced his family at his official campaign kickoff — including ‘my late brother Fred, Jr’

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President Donald Trump introduced a long-deceased sibling moments after officially announcing his re-election bid during a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida.

"And I am profoundly thankful to my family, I have a great family. Melania, Don, Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, baron, Lara, Jared, Robert, Marianne, Elizabeth and my late brother, Fred, Jr." Trump said.

Fred, Jr. was Trump's older brother and died of a heart attack almost four decades ago, passing in 1981.

"In a telephone interview last week, Mr. Trump said he had learned by watching his brother how bad choices could drag down even those who seemed destined to rise," The New York Times reported in 2016. Seeing his brother suffering led him to avoid ever trying alcohol or cigarettes, he said."

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