BP oil spill; air traffic controllers asleep; Czech president mocked for pen theft


The mural that sparked a labor dispute in Maine. The governor of Maine removed this mural about the history of workers from the Department of Labor because it was too pro-labor. (Joe Phelan/AP)

Almost one year after the oil spill that blanketed part of the Gulf of Mexico, ProPublica’s Kim Barker takes a look at a group of people who have benefited — in a major way — from the disaster. “Spillionaires” or the “BP rich” have made millions of clean-up contracts and claims. Barker writes:

Those documents show that companies with ties to parish insiders got lucrative contracts and then charged BP for every possible expense. The prime cleanup company submitted bills with little or no documentation. A subcontractor billed BP $15,400 per month to rent a generator that usually cost $1,500 a month. Another company charged BP more than a $1 million a month for land it had been renting for less than $1,700 a month. Assignments for individual fishermen also fell under the control of political leaders.

“This parish raped BP,” said Wayne Landry, chairman of the St. Bernard Parish Council, referring to the conduct of its political leadership. “At the end of the day, it really just frustrates me. I’m an elected official. I have guilt by association.”

Elsewhere, the Atlantic Wire asks if we’re being duped about the Gulf Oil Spill.

Asleep at the airport

When an air traffic controller was caught snoozing as planes tried to land in Washington last month, it seemed like a freaky, but singular event. Turns out its happened five times this year. The Federal Aviation Administration has finally ruled to end the practice of leaving only one controller on duty overnight.

Language gap

The last two speakers of a dying language do not speak to each other. It turns out they have nothing to say to one another. “They don't have a lot in common,” Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, told the Guardian about Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69. The two men are the last fluent speakers of Ayapaneco in Mexico. Suslak is working to create a dictionary of Ayapaneco.

Sneaky fingers

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has come under fire after a video caught him on tape surreptitiously taking a pen from a ceremonial bill signing session with Chile. The Christian Science Monitor recounts another tale in which a pair of gloves found their way into the president’s pocket:

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