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Who Runs America’s Response to the Oil Blowout?

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Posted on Jun 2, 2010

By William Pfaff

PARIS—The conduct of Barack Obama in the BP affair, and all that preceded it, has become to this writer all but incomprehensible. Possibly it is that I do not live in Washington; but surely, in that city above all, the priorities of national interest and the self-preservative instincts of presidents and presidential administrations cannot have fundamentally changed.

On Sunday, I watched the president on international television as he walked on a Louisiana beach, accompanied by two or three others, including, I would imagine, a U.S. Coast Guard officer, and obviously—off-scene—by hundreds if not thousands of newsmen, broadcasters and cameramen.

He looked sad. He bent over and picked up a handful of sand and let it run through his fingers. He shook his head in concern. A cutaway showed his speeches earlier in this affair declaring that his administration is in charge of the great effort to save America’s coast and waters from the terrible pollution taking place, and the Caribbean Sea itself, from the volcano of oil erupting from the sea’s floor, meeting the sickly-colored, toxic chemicals being mixed into the sea, meant to disperse the oil. He insists that BP will pay for all the damage and cleanup and will be held responsible for any illegalities.

I cannot imagine a more compelling portrayal of impotence—of pathetic abdication and submission by this administration to victimization by forces it claims to be unable to control.

How can the president possibly say that his administration has “been in charge”? BP has been in charge from the start—it and its contract companies, all of them desperately trying to plug the hole in the bottom of the sea, and all with corporate interests of their own. The president has been in his office or operations center pleading with his associates and advisers to get BP to end the crisis. They claim that they are technically incompetent to give instructions to BP. That might be, but they can and must tell BP what priorities must be set, and what must be accomplished on what timescale.

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BP’s lawyers and lobbyists obviously have just as desperately been striving to allow BP to evade responsibility and blame it on anyone or everyone else, including incompetent or irresponsible or compromised federal regulators—and probably on God Himself in the end, if they cannot find anyone else to push it off onto. But God would, on the evidence of the existing universe, seem a more competent engineer than any employed by BP. In addition, He is not profit-driven in His decisions.

Allow me, in the house style of the eminent metropolitan columnists read with attention and respect in Washington, to write a speech for the president:

“My friends:

“The American nation has suffered a grievous blow from the catastrophe produced in the Caribbean by the British Petroleum company. This is the latest in a series of major accidents produced by this company’s American operations, causing loss of lives among its workers, unforgivable human suffering by private citizens, and great damage to private and public interests, continuing today in the Caribbean. This company has repeatedly given evidence of incompetence, disregard for the public interests of Americans, and for the national interest of the United States.

“I have therefore today given orders that the American functions of this company be seized by the American government, as in recent months we have been forced to seize banks and corporations devastated by economic crisis, such as General Motors, AIG and certain financial institutions.

“BP’s American management will be placed under public authority and will be instructed to terminate this oil emergency as rapidly as possible and in disregard of whatever costs must be incurred by the company. This effort will be conducted by BP through its own unrestricted best efforts, supervised by officers of the United States Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, the Energy and Treasury Departments of our government, and will be accompanied by an investigation by the Justice Department and its executive agencies, including the FBI, for any possible evidence of fraud, malfeasance or profiteering, contributing to this disaster. None of these agencies of government will incur any responsibility whatever for the decisions and actions of BP while conducting its operations to terminate this oil blowout.

“In no circumstances will company, proprietary or stockholder interest be given priority over measures to terminate this emergency and to safeguard the assets or interests of the United States public or government. No funds of this company shall be expended on political lobbying intended to influence Congress or the executive agencies of federal government until this emergency has formally been determined to have been ended.

“I am instructing that all BP assets within the United States, or in its surrounding waters, including funds immediately at its disposal, and all other BP funds accessible to the United States government, be seized and immediately sequestered so as to prevent the transfer of any funds or assets of this company outside United States jurisdiction and access. The disposition of those assets will eventually be determined by the courts, with priority given to the reimbursement of U.S. persons, property holders, and the redressment of damage or destruction to public assets and municipal, state and national interests for which the British Petroleum corporation is deemed by the courts to have been responsible.”

This is what the American people want to hear! President Obama wishes to be seen as decisive and as a leader? Here is the way to accomplish that. He wants a Democratic Congress elected in the fall? And a second presidential term for himself in 2012? This would make a decisive contribution to those ambitions.

Indeed, he could suitably conclude his speech by saying to his political opponents that any Republican who wishes to run for office in November as an opponent of these Obama administration crisis measures, and as a defender of British Petroleum and its corporate and stockholder interests, or its customary executive remuneration practices, as against the national interest of the United States, and redress of the damage that continues at this moment to be done to the United States and its individual citizens, is more than welcome to do so. Barack Obama may conclude that he relishes the prospect of taking them on at the polls in November.

Visit William Pfaff’s website for more on his latest book, “The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America’s Foreign Policy” (Walker & Co.), at www.williampfaff.com.

© 2010 Tribune Media Services Inc.


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By samosamo, June 6, 2010 at 12:30 am Link to this comment

****************


By FiftyGigs, June 4 at 8:46 am

It is sobering to hear other sides and possibilities to this
particular disaster and certainly many are probably on que as to
how a president or the president should react. Hardest thing to
get through all the muck about what is going on such as why bp
is in charge of the ‘stoppage’ operation and why so many people
‘hired’ by bp to clean up are done so only on condition of no
talking to the press, just clean, whatever there is to clean even if
bp denies the protective gear to wear to keep from being
poisoned by this raw petroleum.

What I have observed since o’s inauguration is that despite his
campaign promises, he has for the most part still played the
corporate side of decisions that have any and everything to do
with favoring the corporate side while leaving the people to
search around them to wonder where those campaign promises
went. And as for most all the crises, disasters and wars that this
country feels the need to indulge in, he has had the position to
do something about them if not stop them, he is the
commander-in-chief, for whatever that is worth.

So, as to this devastation I surely cannot understand why more
control and oversight isn’t placed on bp in their part in plugging
this rupture and I really question why o has not actually put the
Navy and the USGS and NOAA in charge, as any of these 3
american institutions have the equipment and capability to do
something that would have worked in stopping the flow instead
of leaving it in the hands of someone who ’ wants his life back’.
Pretty greedy for hayward to say, think and act like that, but he
is corporate poster boy number 1 right now.

Finally, if it were possible for the president to require the msm
to do so, he should make sure that the whole measure of
everything about this incident is publicly recorded and
broadcast to all the people of the world, this corporate idea of
not allowing even photographers to get in and take pictures
should be and I would say IS illegal because even the people
living in the effected areas have a right to record however they
can what is happening in and around their homes and state.
And bp (big profits) has NOT a right whatsoever to stop them,
neither does the u.s. government.

Report this

By Great article!, June 5, 2010 at 9:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree completely.  But why stop there?

The Greek people (perhaps in concert with others) should seize the assets of Goldman Sachs, the Chinese should seize The Blackstone Group, the Iraqi people should seize American assets, the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank should seize Israeli assets, and the Cubans should storm Guantanamo.  That’s for starters.

The British should withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan, and all other American adventures that they have had no business being involved in, and should concentrate on developing closer relationships in Europe.  They need to be more cooperative and learn from others, instead of always touting Anglo supremacy, banding with Americans, and imitating their worst characteristics.

American bases should be pushed out of all 39 foreign countries, starting with Japan.  The assets should be seized and put to peaceful use.  We could also disband NATO.  It has no legitimate defensive purpose.

Now this would be real progress.

Uh, no, actually.  I am not kidding. 

I am serious.

(What do you say, Mr. Pfaff?  Agreed?  Agreed!)

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, June 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

hey mrtmbrnmn: is your shift key broken?

Report this

By mrtmbrnmn, June 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

i originally sent this comment to a ruth marcus article.  it should rightly have been directed at pfaff’s:

there is no longer any doubt that barack oilbama totally lacks the neccesities to be president of the u.s. he wishy-washied in the face of the al-qaeda of wall street bank robbery, giving trillions to the criminals who caused the global financial collapse and demanding nothing in return (except, perhaps more campaign contributions). his health care bill was a complete wank, in reality a multi-billion dollar handout to the health business scoundrels, the insurance and drug companies. he couldn’t even publicly defend the bill against criticism, because he was with the insurance and drug companies all along. he was totally trickerated by the incompetant boobs at the pentagon into sending thousands more troops to afghanistan bananastan in order to keep the cash flowing to the defense department and the crooked contractors. we will be in iraq until the 23rd century and in afghanistan until they kick us out. now (and always) he is with bp and the oil companies, in the beginning hiding in the lincoln bedroom while the villains who caused the drilling explosion and the spill were given the lead in solving the catastrophe they caused and the crimes they committed. and now flopping around like an oil-drenched pelican (or, more accurately, peli-can’t). oilbama is a complete wuss. absolutely the wrong man for the moment. and i fear his pathological and congenital inadequacies (not to mention his excessive rodney king gene) will pave the way for complete corporate facism in the usa and the 2nd coming of pinochet. at the risk of sounding racist, which i am not, i wish we actually had a black man in the white house instead of this bland man. jeeeze louise!!!

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, June 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

I would like to see the EPA set up camp in BP’s boardroom and oversee all aspects of this cleanup.

All BP assets within the US reach should be seized to ensure liabilities are covered.  Put insurors on notice.  Hire 150,000 unemployed to clean beaches and repair infrastructures.

The US fleet needs to be onsite with DRV’s and all matter of deep sea equipment.

We have spent too much time dicking around with this.

Report this

By Flummox, June 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

Arouete, June 3 at 6:21 am:

“[Obama] now has a perfect platform to push his progressive reforms[.]”

What progressive reforms are you talking about? Ask and I’ll point you to a dozen articles where Obama supporters, answering progressive disappointment in him, say he is a straight line centrist and any progressive tenancies attributed to him were made up by starry-eyed idealists who see what they want to see.

So what progressive reforms are going to be pushed by Obama?

Report this

By Glen Wayne, June 4, 2010 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

The Horizon Depths       empirePie   June 4th, 2010

follow the trail of the nested progress of blight
follow the goods to the neighborhoods
follow the vows,....... follow the DOWs
........to inheritance and feuds,
............. to squabbling families and assets both split
follow the flow, from the guilds to the Bilderbergs
follow the dynasties, follow the Kings and Queens of yore
follow the battles and gilded castles and courtly beaus and bows
follow the fawning courtiers,

and now…...

follow the compliant marketers of serfdom
the Millennials of the iPad hand me down nests; B-52 blest,
horizonless
deep sixed in the deception of the black gold lifestyle
from the vista of deep despair.

follow the deep water geyser
follow the footprint
follow the tale

Report this

By FiftyGigs, June 4, 2010 at 4:46 am Link to this comment

There’s some great comments on this thread, even by
some people with whom I disagree, but it’s good to
read thoughtful comments from people who think.

My caution to the frustrated is not to take too
seriously your second-guessing of what Obama wants,
or thinks, or is doing (or not doing).

Obama isn’t the second coming of Jesus, and he
probably isn’t even flawless. But keep in mind that
this media culture moves way faster than any
bureaucracy can respond. What did you do today? Wake
up to discover a drilling platform collapsed in the
Gulf of Mexico, and everybody on earth jumping on
every media outlet on earth to market their spin
about why you haven’t done anything about it?

While you sit there in your shorts reading blogs, ask
yourself, what would you do? Right now. Literally.
Call who? Order who to do what? Because the bottom-
line is that Obama is a lot like you, maybe with a
tad more knowledge of the bureaucracy and law than
you, but not much.

Finally, for those frustrated by lack of “change”, I
believe there’s a difference between Bush and Obama
in terms of raw capability, and in terms of affinity
for things I believe in. That’s clear change.

Now, would you rather try instituting more change
starting from now? Or starting from a Bush
administration?

We, the people, like Obama, have to play with the
cards dealt us, and the hand we’ve got says we need
more than 60 Democrats in the Senate. Turn out the
vote, elect 5 more Democrats, and Mitch McConnell
won’t be able to spin his babble fast enough to stop
anything.

Keep going!

Obama isn’t the end game. But we are on the verge of
turning back a multi-decade conservative tide that
has gone way too far.

Report this

By hamburger, June 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Well said!  Hopefully Obama will have the courage to say much them same thing.  Soon.

Report this

By Big Jess, June 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Obama was serious about any of this he would fire Ken Salazar and immediately appoint a genuine kick-ass reformer to lead the Int. Dept.

But, of course, real change and reform is the very last thing Obama wants. Why, that would require confrontation with special interests! Perish the thought.

Report this

By Lawrence Baker, June 3, 2010 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

Americans sure are stupid, brainwashed and pathetic whiners.
May, 2010 was a very fast pace month. We had the Democrat Kabuki act of SEC vs. Goldman; the worlds greatest fraud where no one gives back the money or goes to jail.
Next, the President and the Democrats blocked the full auditing of the Federal Reserve. It was no accident that the terrorist stock market crash on May 7 Th was a command performance to threaten Senators.
Than, there is the issue of financial reform, that is blocked by the Republicans. The oil terrorist attack was also not by accident, and is designed to bankrupt the US and be a distraction from reform and to show the Senators who is boss.
The NWO transition President is doing great and the propagandized American people are as dumb as ever. The overthrow of the US government into the New World Order is right on schedule.
All of you anti-American, stupid bastards who were behind Greed, Oil Wars, Multinational Corporations, Globalization and “Free (sic) Trade” are the ones to blame. You see, we are the shit bags that the rest of the world sees us as; it is not just our government. It is the ignorant, brainwashed, apathetic Americans who made for their own demise and now we are faced with a hundred year revolution; Americans really don’t deserve any better.

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By Arouete, June 3, 2010 at 2:21 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

The United States of America is not a mom and pop grocery store. I have been very critical of Obama.  His position on marriage equality is intellectual and legal rubbish that should not get past a second year law student.  So what part of “Loving” doesn’t he get?  But these attacks are dumber than stupid. Can people read?  How many children have been left behind?

Wash Post, “Obama cites spill to urge action on climate REDIRECTING U.S. OUTRAGE Addiction to fossil fuel must be broken, he says ...”

And “U.S. orders BP to pay for more barrier islands. The White House ordered BP to pay for construction of five more large sections of Louisiana barrier island sand berms Wednesday as efforts to contain the gushing Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit more obstacles and the slick approached Florida. ( The Washington Post)

Very, very smart! Once in a while in American history the crooks in the Whitehouse are replaced by men of ‘good faith.’ He now has a perfect platform to push his progressive reforms,  to further fund the watch dog agencies Reagan/Bush stripped bare, to reinstate regulations undone, to put limits on corporate powers. Now, more than ever, he has the power to actually walk his talk. There is now little ground to challenge him and those who do risk backlash.

I think he will come out of this far stronger then before it hit.  The criminal charges are also wise - this guy is noone’s fool!  One cannot escape criminal liability via bankruptcy - it’s a against public policy.  If BP goes belly up (which we can expect) it can’t escape criminal liability and the feds (and all other damaged plaintiffs) can still go after Halliburton et al under the doctrine of alternative liability. Not in control? Rubbish. He is just putting his ducks in a row.  This man is brilliant!

Obama is not a dictator.  He is subject to the law and the laws enacted by Bush prevent his intervention right now. Point your fingers in the other direction. The Pollution Control Act (thank you G. Bush et. al.) actually requires the government to stay out of the way and make the polluters to the clean up.  It’s the LAW.  Thank you G.  Bush II.

There is really not much Obama can be blamed for here. This is the result of 30 years of deregulation via conservatives (Reagan/Bush) who, in the famous words of Grover Norquist, wanted to get the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”  Well, here you have it. “Mission accomplished.” This is the natural and probable consequence of three decades of attack on the New Deal.

I think Obama is already on a clear path to restoring regulatory sanity and enforcing corporate liability. What a job this guy has. Two wars, a financial crash, a rotting infrastructure, and eroded tax base (thank you Ragan/Bush et. al.)  And these no-nothing know-it-alls think Obama can just come in and (in the ultimate act of socialism!)  take over private enterprise, put this on the government, and relieve the industry of it’s legal responsibility.  That is really dumbing stupid down.

I don’t think he will allow the Big Spill to be his Katrina - this is not going to go down that way. This as a very smart man and he will use it all to his best advantage.  I think he will prove this greatness.

Report this

By Hammond Eggs, June 3, 2010 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

The conduct of Barack Obama in the BP affair, and all that preceded it, has become to this writer all but incomprehensible.

There is nothing incomprehensible about it.  Obama is totally corrupt and a coward.  So he does what a corrupt coward does, crawling through his masters’ dung.

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, June 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Obama is to blame for not making sure that Salazar fixed the institutional corruption set in place by the Bush Administration (As illustrated by Cheney’s secret meetings with the energy company moguls.)

Laissez faire economics and the push for deregulation are the culprits most responsible for this tragedy.

Report this

By Xntrk, June 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

As for the suggestions made in the ‘editorial’ of the actions Obama should take: “It will be a cold day in Hell…”

And, the commentators who want to let BP and Obama off the hook for the Gulf Oil Catastrophe, because worse things happen elsewhere, all the time, seem to want to see the big picture and ignore the tiresome details. Their reasoning is the same kind that excuses our behavior in Afghanistan because of Israel’s excesses in Gaza. Or maybe, it excuses Israel’s excesses because of our behavior in Iraq…

These circular arguments let everyone off the hook by pointing to worse behavior elsewhere. Once again, no one is responsible: Not Obama; not British Petroleum; not the technocrats; and certainly not the Bush Administration; or the Corporate Thieves who run our Government.

Isn’t it past time for actions rather than excuses? Defending the status quo because things could be worse, is pure pettifoggery. If no one is to blame, then no one can fix it. I’ve heard these same arguments presented by a bunch of 10 year olds who just broke a window!

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, June 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

firefly:

Plug the hole himself?

Why not?

He’s just filling his pockets with ill-gotten gains.

Why not plug a few holes?

Report this

By firefly, June 2, 2010 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

arouete:

I agree with you. The vitriol against Obama is unjust.
Every government is in the pocket of big oil, because
oil corporations are so powerful, they practically run
the military (at least wars are fought on their behalf
all over the world). Obama made it clear that BP is
responsible for the clean up which is what he should
have done. Do these people expect him to swim down and
plug the hole himself?

Report this

By firefly, June 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

truthspill,

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “is followed by
this…”

The fact that the WWF UK wrote a report in 2006,
doesn’t correlate with the article I found in the
Guardian. Does it make a difference?

I don’t think so. The point is merely that
environmental disasters on epic scales happen with
increasing regularity where oil companies are
concerned (not to mention that oil is the root cause
of government corruption around the world and wars).
The difference is that the US only takes notice when
it’s on its own doorstep and yet, the US is the
biggest oil consumer in the world by far..

Targeting BP is all fine and well, but it doesn’t
address the issue of America’s addiction to oil, nor
does it mean that Exxon Mobile, Chevron or any other
oil tycoon, are any more virtuous than BP. Unleashing
our rage against just one oil company may break BP,
but Shell (so I’ve heard) is ready to buy out BP as
its shares plummet. Is Shell any better? Will that
solve the wider problem???? No. It won’t.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, June 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

arouete:
’...  It is utterly revolting to hear people blame Obama for this mess. All this, every bit of it, is the result of decades of deregulation and de-funding of watch dog agencies. ...’

So why was Mr. O telling us, a few weeks before the present catastrophe, that offshore drilling was perfectly safe, and nothing could go wrong?

Why weren’t people like Mr. Salazar told to clean house when they took over their departments?  Corruption and willful ignorance in the Department of the Interior has apparently been uninterrupted by the change of administration.

There is a limited amount of time during which the party currently in power can blame the previous administration.  That time has now run out.

Report this

By cyrena, June 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

Why is there an ad for Israel tourism on this page?

Report this
moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, June 2, 2010 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

In Gringolandia—as well as in much of the rest of the world—the Fox always guards the henhouse.

Obomba was put in the White House by the same folks that have brought you the massive petroleum meltdown, the narcowar in Mexico, the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan—among other sparkling spectacles.

The Fox—in blackface and a 5000 buck suit.

Report this

By Arouete, June 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

Sir! Comprehend the law. The Oil Pollution Control Act enacted by the Bush Congress after the Exxon Valdez spill requires that the government stay out of the way and requires the polluter to take control of the cleanup. All this was done by the Bush Congress - it’s “big government” you see. It is utterly revolting to hear people blame Obama for this mess. All this, every bit of it, is the result of decades of deregulation and de-funding of watch dog agencies.  Our ‘big government’ was not dis-empowered by Obama but by the VERY people who blame him for the weak government THEY created. Give me a break!

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By truthspill, June 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Firefly,

Common sentiments aside that yes we should also care about what happens in Nigeria, I think ironically, that article seems to attempt to diminish the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf.

The article, which I also read is confusing.  The part you quote…

“More oil is spilled from
the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping
stations and oil platforms every year than has been
lost in the Gulf of Mexico,”

is followed by this…

“One report, compiled by WWF UK, the World Conservation Union and representatives from the Nigerian federal government and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, calculated in 2006 that up to 1.5m tons of oil – 50 times the pollution unleashed in the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Alaska – has been spilled in the delta over the past half century. Last year Amnesty calculated that the equivalent of at least 9m barrels of oil was spilled and accused the oil companies of a human rights outrage.”

That is also horrifying, but the numbers don’t square with the prior unsubstantiated claim that more oil is dumped each year in Nigeria than the entire amount spilled in the Gulf so far.

I just found that article very sloppy reporting.

Report this

By gerard, June 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Truth is, technology is so far out of hand (evidence—weapons of mass destruction plus worldwide pollution, oil spills, electronic gadgetry and the ability to broadcast inanity worldwide)—so far out of hand that human intelligence is being suckered to death.

Obama can no more control this than any other one person.  It requires a wideespread renaissance of the spirit of relationship, of understanding, of will power, of courage, of sensibility.  At this point, one can only hope that somewhere, somehow this spirit will arise and act to reveal the path out of darkness and despair.

The first step is recognition of the problems. The second step is unity of purpose and agreement on methods. The third is action—hopefully non-violent as, obviously, violence hasn’t worked and isn’t working toward human well-being.

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By firefly, June 2, 2010 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

That previous piece was by Elisabeth Rosenthal.

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By firefly, June 2, 2010 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Americans have watched with growing horror as a huge
leak on a BP oil rig has poured millions of gallons
of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. On Sunday, I wrote in
the Week in Review section of The Times, that there
is also shock that technology has so far not been
able to control it.

But it is important to remember that this mammoth
polluting event, so extraordinary here, is not so
extraordinary in some parts of the world. In an
article published on Sunday in The Guardian of
London, John Vidal, the paper’s environment editor,
touchingly recalls a trip to the Niger Delta a few
years ago, where he literally swam in “pools of light
Nigerian crude.”

A network of decades-old pipes and oil extraction
equipment in the delta has been beleaguered by
serious leaks and spills. “More oil is spilled from
the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping
stations and oil platforms every year than has been
lost in the Gulf of Mexico,” he writes.

O.K., Nigeria may seem far away to most Americans. So
what does this have to do with us?

Well, consider this: Nigeria ranks fifth among the
nations supplying crude oil exports to the United
States. Companies that drill in the Niger delta
include Shell and Exxon.

Here in the United States, people express outrage at
BP’s actions in the gulf and demand that the oil
giant behave responsibly in our waters. But should
they also insist that oil companies behave well in
the developing countries where their oil comes from?
After all, many people insist on “fair trade” coffee
and non-sweatshop clothing.

The writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people
says “If this gulf accident had happened in Nigeria,
neither the government nor the company would have
paid much attention. This kind of spill happens all
the time in the delta.”

Report this

By firefly, June 2, 2010 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

I don’t agree with this. Obama got criticized for
helping the big banks, now he’s criticized for telling
big oil to clean up it’s own mess. The man can’t win.

Report this

By firefly, June 2, 2010 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

The danger here with focusing so strongly on BP, is
that other oil corporations and Halliburton and
Transocean
are ignored. Focussing solely on BP diverts attention
away from
the wider environmental and global disasters, if
saying once we’ve prosecuted BP and put them out of
business, everything will be fine. It won’t. Other
oil corporations exist too and we ignore them at our
peril.

At least BP is in the spotlight, at least there are
calls for it to be criminally investigated. But, this
disaster should not just be about BP but about BIG
OIL in general.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines
around the world, yet the people who live in the
Niger delta have had to live with environmental
catastrophes for decades

On 1 May this year a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in
the state of Akwa Ibom spilled more than a million
gallons into the delta over seven days before the
leak was stopped. Local people demonstrated against
the company but say they were attacked by security
guards. Community leaders are now demanding $1bn in
compensation for the illness and loss of livelihood
they suffered. Few expect they will succeed. In the
meantime, thick balls of tar are being washed up
along the coast.

Within days of the Ibeno spill, thousands of barrels
of oil were spilled when the nearby Shell Trans Niger
pipeline was attacked by rebels. A few days after
that, a large oil slick was found floating on Lake
Adibawa in Bayelsa state and another in Ogoniland.
“We are faced with incessantoil spills from rusty
pipes, some of which are 40 years old,” said Bonny
Otavie, a Bayelsa MP.

This point was backed by Williams Mkpa, a community
leader in Ibeno: “Oil companies do not value our
life; they want us to all die. In the past two years,
we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can
no longer sustain their families. It is not
tolerable.”

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By MeHere, June 2, 2010 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

Please read “Intoxicated by Fundraising” by Ruth Marcus on this site. It is perhaps
the most important article of all.

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By Lawrence Baker, June 2, 2010 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

The gulf oil well, like the Wall Street World Banksters and Big Oil, is out of control and the President and corrupt Congress refuse to take command to abate the damage, make recovery and take control of the ecological and economic disaster from the hands of the Totalitarian world criminals.
The Federal Agencies, in particular DOE, whine that they can do nothing to stop the oil flow because they know nothing, is not acceptable. Their assumption that if they no nothing about stopping the oil flow, than no one else could possible know anything, is also invalid and a cover-up of solutions.
BP is lying when they state that the relief bore near the original bore will be a “fix” for the out of control wellhead. The relief bore will only slow down the flow, if any, and the wellhead will still be out of control and gushing gas and oil (about 95,000 bpd). The wellhead may never be sealed completely. The BP “plan”, if you want to call it a “plan”, is ecological suicide and is completely unacceptable. 
Why are there no Stop the Oil Flow Task Force of FBI, scientist, engineers, private contractors, Navy and corps of Army Engineers; are the politicians afraid that they will interfere with the failed operations of BP with new solutions? I will bet that there are at least 100 practical science solutions in the suggestion box of BP to permanently stop the flow of oil at the wellhead that could be implemented tomorrow. BP refuses to implement real solutions, and threatens and defies government with refusing to cooperate and keeping secrets of the actual damage. The government is afraid and refuses to interfere; so who is going to stop the flow of oil? We need an independent Stop the Oil Flow Task Force today to stop the flow of oil tomorrow! 
Why is there only one small tanker on site sucking up and separating the oil? Unlawful dispersants are used at the well head site instead of sucking the pool of oil into tankers. The illegal dispersants have hid the oil (and the liability) in massive plumes that are floating away underwater. Why are there no tankers following the plumes around and sucking up and separating the oil?
Why, because there is no profit in it and no planning or budget for a spill; Nature can heal herself and hide the spilled oil for BP! BP stands for “Beyond Prosecution” and will only act for profit or to cover-up evidence of damage to limit liability.
BP claims they do not have the technology to control the flow or to suck up and separate the mass amount of oil in the water. They have the technology but do not have recovery tankers rigged because they believe that a budget for control and recovery technology is a waste of profit. If BP had the clean-up and control technology rigged on their tankers they would have to make more effort, which will cost more money. If they have only one tanker rigged for recovery, there is less expense and they will not have to spend as much money in effort to clean up the spill. What clean-up effort citizens perform is covered in BP’s limited liability so they will only pay a fraction of the actual damage by doing nothing. It is far cheaper to use unlawful dispersants and buy politicians than to be prepared for a spill.
Obama is the “transition” President of the New World Order and is in the bag along with the Treasonous 111 Congress. By design, our Democracy has totally collapsed. The Totalitarian World Banksters and Big Oil are in charge and world chaos, governance, and control is their agenda.
We have stood by during the American economic genocide with hope for Democracy. We can not stand by with hope and trust as Big Oil commits unabated ecological genocide against the American people and our country. We need to fight back today and demand that an independent Stop the Oil Flow Task Force be formed today to stop the flow of oil tomorrow!

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By balkas, June 2, 2010 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

Hey, william! It is US laws which manages the oil spill.
Lack of dealing with it is also governed by laws. End of story. tnx

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By FiftyGigs, June 2, 2010 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

“The conduct of Barack Obama in the BP affair, and
all that preceded it, has become to this writer all
but incomprehensible.”

Don’t forget to add to the list the
incomprehensibility of a media culture that spews
nothing but ‘tude for a fee.

Minimal (if any) facts about the technology. Minimal
(if any) facts about the legal constructs. Minimal
(if any) facts about the activity and behavior of
people directly involved at the scene. Minimual (if
any) information of real use.

But lots and lots of “expertise” about how “bad” this
“looks” to “people”. Or how to “fend off” Republican
“opponents” who aren’t the least engaged.

“On Sunday, I watched the president on international
television…”

This is what we do with all this technology and all
this education and all this networking. Watch tv.
Unbelievable.

Hope you didn’t strain yourself, dude.

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