Offshore drilling disaster: West Atlas Oil Rig now on Fire

A Flood of Controversial Semantics Over Fire-Related Losses

Last Friday, we posted an Open Thread with some videos that helped teach American Sign Language. Did anyone give it 'em a shot? They're reposted, below the fold. Today, this morning's Open Thread about Net Neutrality -- check it out.

Thiis piece, meanwhile, is nothing so educational or informative -- we're going to make note of a wonderful new way an insurance company is attempting to avoid paying out on a policy.

You might want to sit down for this.

From The Houston Chronicle (hat-tip DWoods12), insurance provider Great American Insurance Company is attempting to argue in a federal court that the smoke that killed three people in a 2007 fire in Houston was "pollution" and that surviving families shouldn't be compensated for their losses since the deaths were not directly caused by the actual flames:

Great American Insurance Company is arguing in a Houston federal court that the section of the insurance policy that excludes payments for pollution — like discharges or seepage that require cleanup — would also exclude payouts for damages, including deaths, caused by smoke, or pollution, that results from a fire.


Great American has asked U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to find that the deaths caused by the smoke, fumes and soot from the March 2007 fire set by a nurse working in the building will not be covered by the policy because there is a specific exclusion for pollution and it mentions smoke, fumes and soot.

The insurance company that carries the primary $1 million policy hasn't made this argument.

Aside from the story itself, it is curious to note the last name of the reporter who wrote this story for the Chronicle -- "Flood." A woman named Mary Flood ( wrote a story about an insurance company trying to get out of paying a claim on a fire insurance policy. Talk about ironic.


Where's there's smoke, there's fire -- and burning evidence.

The news of the recent White House fire isn't the first time an area near and dear to national security went up in flames shortly after a judge ruled against Cheney's log privilege.

Remember the NSA building fire at Fort Meade last year? Curiously enough, it too was around the time that a judge ruled Cheney's logs are not privileged.

Judge Orders Cheney Visitor Logs Opened

"A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President

Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.

"While researching the access lobbyists and others had on the White House, The Washington Post asked in June for two years of White House visitor logs. The Secret Service refused to process the request, which government attorneys called 'a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency.'" (AP)

(via TPM Muckraker)

Also, the Fort Meade complex had an interesting web page that is no longer available.

I've scrapbooked it, of course.

From the former site:

    The 902D Military Intelligence Group is the US Army's largest Counterintelligence Unit, conducting the full range of CI activities, throughout the spectrum of conflict, and at all echelons, from tactical to strategic.

    The 902D Military Intelligence Group conducts counterintelligence with a worldwide focus to serve as a force multiplier for US Army Commanders.

    We serve as the Army's first line of defense in force protection, technology protection, counterespionage, counterterrorism and Foreign Intelligence Service threat awareness, CI advice and assistance, and operational security support.

Curiouser and, how deep does the rabbit hole go, and how far are we willing to get sucked into it before we start excavating?