Fifty days into the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, and BP is still pissing off the press. In a long, infuriating article in the Times, the oil giant's repeated attempts to keep the media from covering the spill are covered in galling detail. And it's not just BP; the FAA has denied reporters access to air space over the spill, and the Coast Guard stopped Senator Bill Nelson from bringing a small group of journalists with him on a Coast Guard vessel. Even the local constabulary is keeping press away from public beaches, at the behest of BP:

A reporter and photographer from The Daily News of New York were told by a BP contractor they could not access a public beach on Grand Isle, La., one of the areas most heavily affected by the oil spill. The contractor summoned a local sheriff, who then told the reporter, Matthew Lysiak, that news media had to fill out paperwork and then be escorted by a BP official to get access to the beach... "For the police to tell me I needed to sign paperwork with BP to go to a public beach?" Mr. Lysiak said. "It's just irrational."

And CBS News says one of its news crews was threatened with arrest for trying to film a public beach where oil had washed ashore. "I think they’ve been trying to limit access," Representative Edward J. Markey tells the Times. "It is a company that was not used to transparency. It was not used to having public scrutiny of what it did."

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Kevin Costner testified before Congress yesterday about his oil-spill cleanup machine, which filters oil from water by using centrifugal forces to separate the dirty particles. His centrifuges are finally being deployed by BP to clean up a small amount of the oil, and Costner expressed frustration they haven't been used since the beginning. "I'm the only one here who doesn't have a 'Dr.' in front of his name," Costner told the Science and Technology Committee. "It may seem an unlikely scenario that I am the one delivering this technology at this moment in time. But from where I'm sitting, it is equally inconceivable that these machines are not already in place."

And BP's pension fund dividends are under attack by President Obama and 43 lawmakers who want BP CEO Tony Hayward to suspend the dividends to "put progress before profits." To put a face on the dividend debate, Bloomberg News found one Miriam Sullivan, a 74-year-old wife of a retired schoolteacher in Haddonfield, New Jersey, who could lose about $10,000 a year of her retirement income if BP suspends its dividend. "It’s a nice amount of money to have coming in," said Sullivan. "They’re penalizing people that are innocent by cutting the dividend at this point, when they don’t even need to. It seems very political."