Why Obama Should Put BP Under Temporary Receivership by Robert Reich June 1, 2010 by Robert Reich’s Blog
It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way for the public to know what’s going on, be confident enough resources are being used to stop the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge.
If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
The Obama administration keeps saying BP is in charge because BP has the equipment and expertise necessary to do what’s necessary. Under temporary receivership, BP would continue to have the equipment and expertise. The only difference: the firm would unambiguously be working in the public’s interest. As it is now, BP is responsible first to its shareholders, not to the American public. As a result, the public continues to worry that a private for-profit corporation is responsible for stopping a public tragedy.
[Five reasons for taking such action:]
The President should temporarily take over BP’s Gulf operations. We have a national emergency on our hands. No president would allow a nuclear reactor owned by a private for-profit company to melt down in the United States while remaining under the direct control of that company. The oil meltdown in the Gulf is the environmental equivalent. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-5
Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His “Marketplace” commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.
BP Clashes with Scientists over Deep Sea Oil Pollution
Obama team ‘incensed at being kept in the dark’ as company denies existence of underwater oil clouds by Chris McGreal June 1, 2010 by The Guardian/UK
BP has challenged widespread scientific claims that vast plumes of oil are spreading underwater from its blown-out rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The denial comes as the oil giant prepares for a new operation to put an end to the worst oil spill in US history – which could see the leak get worse before it gets better. The company’s challenge to scientific studies puts it further at odds with an increasingly angry Obama administration, which accuses BP of minimizing the size of the leak to limit the size of probable fines.
BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, said it had no evidence of underwater oil clouds. “The oil is on the surface. Oil has a specific gravity that’s about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity.” Hayward’s assertion flies in the face of studies by scientists at universities in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, among others, who say they have detected huge underwater plumes of oil, including one 120 metres (400ft) deep about 50 miles from the destroyed rig.
BP’s claim is likely to further anger environmentalists and the White House, which is increasingly suspicious of the company’s claims to be frank and transparent. The president’s environmental adviser Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy director, Carol Browner, has accused BP of misstating the scale of the leak.
The start of the hurricane season has added more urgency stop the oil flow.
Forecasters are predicting an unusually high number of storms over the next six months. A hurricane is likely to disperse oil spread on the sea over a wider area and push it deeper into marshlands and other inland areas, making the environmental disaster worse.
The US military has ruled out taking charge. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, said military chiefs looked at available equipment and concluded “the best technology in the world, with respect to that, exists in the oil industry.”
A day earlier, the former US secretary of state, Colin Powell, said the military should step in because the crisis was now “beyond the capacity” of BP to stop. “.READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/06/01-2
Nigeria’s Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. The US and Europe Ignore It
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 by John Vidal, environment editor Sunday, May 30, 2010 by The Observer/UK
We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike. Ahead lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garages and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.
The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for months. Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”
In fact, 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. Worse may be to come. One industry insider said: “Major spills are likely to increase in coming years as the industry tries to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond.” Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and few people seem to care. Big oil companies act as if they are beyond the law. What we conclude from the Gulf of Mexico pollution incident is that the oil companies are out of control. It is clear that BP has been blocking progressive legislation, both in the US and here. In Nigeria, they have been living above the law. They are now clearly a danger to the planet. The dangers of this happening again and again are high. They must be taken to the international court of justice. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/30-0
BP Faces FBI Probe over Oil Spill by Giles Whittell, Robert Lea, Ian King June 1, 2010 by TimesOnline/UK
BP’s future as a global concern was at stake tonight after the US Attorney General, announced that he was launching a criminal and a civil investigation into the Louisiana oil spill.
As Eric Holder made his announcement, the British company’s chief executive fought to halt a headlong slide in its stock price.
After losing a third of its value in just six weeks, BP is expected to promise shareholders their full annual dividend in a last-ditch bid to retain their loyalty. More than £12 billion was wiped off the company’s value today alone, as Mr Obama dispatched his top prosecutor to Louisiana and vowed to bring to justice those responsible for what he called “the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history”.
Shares in what used to be Britain’s biggest company endured their worst day’s trading in more than two decades, dragging down the FTSE 100 index and with it the value of dozens of leading pension funds.
Any cut in BP’s dividend would be a traumatic event for the company. It last cut its payout to shareholders in August 1992 after reporting its first-ever quarterly loss.
With much of today’s share price fall being attributed to fears that the company may have to cut its dividend, BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, is expected later this week to assure investors that the payout will be maintained.
The company’s share price fell to as low as 412.25p at one stage today before a partial rally. That followed an admission from BP that the cost of its repeated failed bids to stem the flow from the blow out, the clean-up operation, and early payments of claims by affected American and by states around the Gulf has already topped $1 billion. BP is privately putting the total cost of the disaster at $4 billion by the end of the year. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/06/01-6
Israel Reveals Its True Face
The murder of these peace activists will count. Sanctions must surely be the price by Ahdaf Soueif June 1, 2010 by The Guardian/UK
This will count. A flotilla of relief boats attacked in international waters. Armed commandos boarding a vessel carrying supplies for a besieged civilian population. More than 10 peace activists reported killed. This has to be made to count.
The dead have joined Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, James Miller and Brian Avery in giving up their lives for the Palestinians. None of these young men and women went out to die or wanted to die or was accepting of death. Each and every one of them ultimately believed that they were safe; that there was a boundary – call it a boundary of legality, a boundary of civilisation – that Israel would not cross. They were wrong. And in proving them wrong, Israel has revealed, once again, its true face to the world.
My anger and my sadness are so great that I have to deliberately draw a deep breath from time to time to ease the bands I feel around my chest. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that millions of people in the world are feeling the same. People everywhere see and understand what is happening. Many of us feel that Palestine is nearing its South Africa moment. This latest outrage must push it closer. And it will. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-2
Ahdaf Soueif is an Egyptian writer, novelist, political and cultural commentator
Related article: NOTHING IS HOLY IN THE “HOLY” LAND: Any claim to “holiness” in ownership of the “Holy” Land, by any constituent of any side, is preposterous. People of every persuasion have been killing each other over this crap hunk of real estate for thousands of years, to no apparent resolution, pretty much to malign purpose, and to the point of certifiable mental disease. READ MORE: FOX NEWS, HOLY LAND, SUPERMAN
PETITION FROM AVAAZ
Israel’s deadly assault on a flotilla of aid ships headed for Gaza has shocked the world.
It’s an outrageous use of lethal force to defend an outrageous and lethal policy — Israel’s blockade of Gaza, where two thirds of families don’t know where they’ll find their next meal.
The UN, US, and nearly every other government and multilateral organization have called on Israel to lift the blockade and, now, for a full investigation of the flotilla raid. But their words aren’t backed by action. The European Union, Israel’s top trading partner, could change Israel’s course – if the people of Europe and the world demand it.
Let’s call on Catherine Ashton, EU Foreign Affairs High Representative, to demand that Israel comply with an international enquiry and lift the Gaza blockade — or lose its special trade relationship with Europe. To be heard, we’ll need a massive outcry; click to sign the petition and then forward this message.