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12 June 2010 @ 12:42 am
Oh FFS ...  
I know the Americans on my flist aren't wackos. Some of you take the occasional foray into loopiness, but as a rule, you're mostly sane. But I have been watching and reading the news again. So this isn't really addressed to my American flist as much as it is to sundry American politicians, who will never read it.

You will receive no argument from me that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a tragedy and a disaster. But let's talk briefly about your wacky anti-British attacks that have been peppering my news reading and watching today.

BP is 40% owned by British interests and 39% owned by American interests. It employs about 10,000 Britons and 22,000 Americans. Those dividends that American politicians are demanding not be paid are very often major parts of the pension packets of British pensioners.

You remember British pensioners, don't you American politicians? They're the same people you fucked in the arse with the GFC, brought about by your years of campaigning for deregulated markets. Let's not pretend anyone's forgotten about Lehman Brothers.

Now I am ALL for companies taking responsibility for their environmental impact. BP should absolutely pay the costs of this spill (if only the banks who caused the GFC would pay the people they fucked over ...), and just maybe the whole wacky idea of energy efficient cars that people like me have been raving about since the Carter administration might catch on. (That's probably as likely as responsible banking, isn't it?)

But while we're talking about corporate responsibility, I want to mention that seven Indian businessmen went to jail this week for two years each (eight were convicted, but one is dead). They were found guilty of causing death by negligence. They used to work for the American company Union Carbide, and were 'responsible' for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

People of my vintage probably know what that is, but for you younger set, let me give you a brief rundown of the events. In December 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking toxic fumes. At least 2259 people died pretty much immediately, this is the lowest official figure, the Indian government released a revised figure of 3787 deaths directly linked to the gas leak. They were mostly poor people, many women and children, who lived near the gas plant.

Film and photographs of rows of sari-clad bodies with blackened hands horrified us in the West, as did stories of their agonising deaths -- so wrongly reminiscent of the worst tales of gas in wars from which Europeans were still trying to recover.

Indian government agencies and NGOs working in the area have estimated 15,000 deaths from the gas leak and up to 200,000 people severely affected. Campaigners say that 25,000 people have died. The area continues to have dramatically higher cancer and birth defect rates than the rest of India, and there are hundreds of tonnes of leaking chemicals in storage and polluted soil still at the site.

Warren Anderson was the CEO of Union Carbide at the time and there is a large body of evidence that he was personally aware of major defects in the Bhopal plant, which had been brought to his attention in detailed reports two years earlier. Those reports formed the basis of upgrades to American Union Carbide plants before the disaster, but not Indian. Moreover, the ingredient that caused the toxic gas, methyl isocyanite, had been phased out of use by most other pesticide manufacturers by December 1984 due to its risks being seen as too great despite its cheaper cost.

At the time of the disaster, Anderson, who was in India, was arrested, but was quickly released and fled the country. He has never returned and has never faced court over the incident. Union Carbide declared that the disaster was not in fact their fault, since the Bhopal plant was operated wholly by Indian personnel.

In 1989, Union Carbide paid US$470 million in damages for the tragedy. This was the amount covered by its insurer, plus interest. This is less than US$2350 for each of the individuals affected by the disaster. It won't surprise you to learn that the money, which was insufficient to clean up the site, did not flow through to to the victims.

So although BP could be doing a better job, and the death of those 11 oil workers is a tragedy that should not have occurred, that spill is a fucking disaster, and yeah, Tony Hayward is a tosser -- a sense of proportion would not hurt.

Also, Sarah Palin? Fuck off.
jolinar_rosha: moogie approvedjolinar_rosha on June 11th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
what you said.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Moogie! (A fine figure of a Ferengi!)
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
I could live with her so much better were she a comedienne rather than a politician ...
oldenuf2nboldenuf2nb on June 11th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
We are wackos. Just saying.

And this is a nightmare all 'round, but I'm betting the people who SHOULD be taking responsibility for this mess? Are Americans.

And we all wish Sarah Palin would fuck off. Well, all of us who have at least one active brain cell. There are a stunning number of us who seem to be operating without a damned thing between our ears.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
BP definitely cocked up by continuing to operate in the face of failing safety guards, but today's ravening masses seem intent on closing down the company, which not only doesn't solve the problem, it removes the revenue stream needed for funding the clean-up and monies that the communities affected will need.

James Hardie, who have massive asbestos liabilities in Australia, are (now, after much struggle) a good example of how politicians and regulatory authorities should deal with multinational corporations in situations like this. The politicians involved actually went through the struggle in productive ways, with the result that the people affected are largely covered. That is the important thing, not point scoring.

And are you talking about the Tea Party? I swear that it was months before I believed they were a real thing and not an ongoing joke by bloggers ...
(no subject) - mabonwitch on June 12th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Loyaulte Me Lieshocolate on June 11th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
Nick Clegg today warned that a row between Britain and the US over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was in danger of turning into a destructive bout of "megaphone diplomacy".

"I don't frankly think we are going to reach a solution to stop the release of oil into the ocean any quicker by allowing this to spiral into a tit-for-tat political and diplomatic spat," said Clegg, speaking in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

Edited at 2010-06-11 03:12 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
I bet he said it in Spanish, too!
(no subject) - shocolate on June 11th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shocolate on June 11th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Oh no... - kestrelsparhawk on June 12th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
calanthe_fics on June 11th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes. I've been waiting for someone to mention Union Carbide.

I'm afraid Obama has plummeted in my estimations. It's junior school political savvy he's showing just now.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
With the sentences coming down this week, I couldn't avoid the comparison.

It's certainly not just Obama, and I do think that he has reacted more strongly than reason would dictate due to pushes from a populace primed by ridiculous political stances over the last two (well, thirty) years. But you would think that some of them would have made the logical connection between the fact they want everything paid for by BP and the need for BP to continue to function as a successful company? (Or at least that an oil-based economy is a bad idea, but that's about as likely as Americans noticing that a religion-based society is a bad idea.)
wemyss: oblairawemyss on June 11th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
I'm not best pleased with Mr Obama.
Then again, I never have been. I'm not best pleased with Mr Cameron either, who is being rather too polite to the Yank Wanker-in-Chief, whom, again, I have always despised in the same way in which I despise, oh, Ed Balls, say.

I need hardly say that I don't at all agree that it was market deregulation that caused the financial crisis, but we've been over that, you and I, I think.

Yank pensioners are also threatened by Mr Obama's inane ranting.

I've no idea why Ms Palin is being mentioned in this context, unless it's on general, well, principles, I suppose.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm not best pleased with Mr Obama.
She has loudly declared that 'foreign' companies were not to be trusted: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7686978/Gulf-of-Mexico-oil-slick-Sarah-Palin-fuels-anti-British-sentiment.html

And also said that Obama should call on her to help, as, by virtue of being an Alaskan, she is apparently something of an expert.

In the same vein, I intend to offer up my services for any marsupial-related crises that may occur. In the time I have lived here, I have met many of them!
Hmm. - wemyss on June 11th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sarah: Nice Hair, Clever, Has Her Own Gun: Fucking Things Upthenotoriousso4 on June 11th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
Most of us are pretty fed up with all the media sensationalism of the oil spill.

I'm well aware of how bad it is, and how it's damaging our ecosystem, and how people died, but do we really need news/video footage of it 24/7 while talking heads try to blame everyone they can think of for it?

I'd much rather spend that time getting everyone I could think of together to try and solve the problem, or to help with cleaning up all those poor animals.

Obama seems very much like a child to me, right now. He claims that the oil spill is his first priority, and then spends all his time going to basketball games and handing out awards, and didn't he even go to a NASCAR event?

Dude, I really think those things could wait a few weeks while you try and take this oil spill a little more seriously.

But I guess my whole point of this comment was to say that the majority of us don't have anti-British sentiments over this at all. But our media will jump on any topic that keep them flapping their gums.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
It's definitely a handful of loud politicians and a bunch of lazy journalists, yes. And IF ONLY the amount of effort that is going into political beat-ups was being spent on animal rescue!

I greatly admire the town that has rented barges to stabilise their anti-slick barriers and protect their bay and waterways -- THAT'S what I think of as American spirit!
(no subject) - kareina on June 12th, 2010 07:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
kestrelsparhawkkestrelsparhawk on June 11th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
1) remember Obama got a landslide of a vote BECAUSE US citizens thought he'd be different. It's telling that as his popularity with most of the US is plunging, the right is grumbling less. (I'm one of those people who believed his campaign promises; it won't happen again. Or trusting his brain; blind ambition trumps sanity every day, it would appear.)

Just to add my two cents: it's not the nationality of the people employed, or even of the owners. The profit motive will always trump humanism. The whole point is to set -- and ENFORCE -- appropriate safeguards on any company which is doing something risky. I'm glad you brought up Bhopal; I remember it too. Besides, there are no American, or British, or whatever companies anymore. They're multinational.

I know why BP is being targeted, too. If you can blame an individual, you can distract from the root cause, and continue to make stupid decisions about things like risking the ocean's destruction.
some kind of snark faeryshyfoxling on June 11th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
1) remember Obama got a landslide of a vote BECAUSE US citizens thought he'd be different. It's telling that as his popularity with most of the US is plunging

Which apparently is a pattern with many US Presidents, interestingly enough.
Hubris - kestrelsparhawk on June 12th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
cassie_black: stupid people/large groupscassie_black12 on June 11th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
The whole thing smacks of a cheap attempt by Obama to score points on the domestic front at the expense of international relations with us. [He's also conveniently not mentioning the two American companies involved]

Also, Sarah Palin? Fuck off.


Edit: And as if that's not enough Brit-bashing, now they're poking their damn noses into the Falklands.

Edited at 2010-06-11 05:21 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 12th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
Oh that's been going on for a while. Hillary needs friends in South America and it's a handy point to waffle on about. My vote has always been for letting the Islanders decide, and everyone else can bugger off, I have to confess.

As to Obama, I am not sure what he is doing at the moment. I am being generous and assuming he is very cross and having his equivalent of a personal tanty, which in a way is fair enough. But some of that complex diplomacy he's good at would be helpful here!
emansil_08 on June 11th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
I was watching news coverage of this last night, almost in tears over the plight of the animals, and listening to the politicians rant about BP and the dividends. At first I was all for it, but then another person started talking about the British pensioners and the fact that BP employees thousands of Americans and how this could effect them, and all of those around that depend on BP for their retirement or pension.

This is truly one of those catch 22 situations, I really wish we didn't have to "blame" anyone, because truly there is more than just BP responsible for the f**king disaster. I just want the oil to stop gushing, I don't want to watch anymore birds drowning in the oil and i want it cleaned up!! But I don't want BP to go bankrupt over it, I don't want to see old age pensioners in Britain losing their pensions while at the same neither do I want americans who have lost their source of income for, god only knows how long to not get any compensation. No, I don't know the answer-I'm just glad at times like these I"m not a decision maker.

As for the GFC. I can't help but think that there are times when this global economy is not necessary I good thing.

The Butterfly Effect is well and good in our age. The possible ramifications for the entire earth for this oilspill disaster, simply cannot be imagined.

Edited at 2010-06-11 06:09 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 12th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Yes! That's the level of complexity this whole things needs to have brought to bear in thinking about it. There's an analogous situation in Australia where a company named James Hardie made a fortune from asbestos products long after it was well known that asbestos caused cancers including mesothelioma.

The company at first behaved badly: htey separated the parts of their organisation that held the liabilities off from the main company, then set up an underfunded 'foundation' that they said would meet all the future compensation needs. The main company then buggered off and set up headquarters in the Netherlands.

The NSW government said 'Hang on, that foundation has nothing like the amount of money needed!' to which James Hardie said 'Nothing to do with us!'

At which point the Australian Federal government and all Australian state governments said 'Right, then, we're blacklisting your products', and the unions here began a global campaign to boycott Hardie everything everywhere.

James Hardie said 'We can't fund it properly, it'll bankrupt us!' The Australian Federal government said 'All right, let's sit down and look at your books and taxes and work out a way that you can manage this and remain successful as a company even if it means we lose a bit (a bit, mind you) of tax revenue.'

By dint of combined effort and hard work (alas, only coming from JH at the end when they had a new executive), the compensation fund was fully funded.

And all the executives who lied along the way are facing charges, which is my favourite part of the story.

Governments can be massively effective, but they need to be well directed. They were lucky in Australia because the objectives were clear cut and unidirectional (the compensation fund). The Gulf spill will be more complex than this, but it is achievable!

And in the meantime, yeah, animal relief is going to be a very big issue. And spare time and funds could be well directed there. Do your lot use little jumpers on the animals after they have been denuded of oil? I made a stack for penguins once - quite the best knitting job in the world!
(no subject) - emansil_08 on June 12th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 12th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα_inbetween_ on June 11th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Yes. Sense of proportion, always absent, that's all I'll let myself say.
being_herebeing_here on June 11th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
This is the first post I've read on this situation that I agree with. Thank you.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 12th, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
You're very welcome.
Meredythmeredyth_13 on June 11th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
I DO love you. :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 12th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
MERE! I have missed you darling! I love you, too, and hope you are well!
jamafantajamafanta on June 12th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
I've been following the BP mess with interest, but here in Canada I've seen no anti-British attitudes about it at all. Interesting! Lots of discussion about blame, of course, but nothing on a national scale.
Eanelineaeanelinea77 on June 12th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
I can give you some behind the scenes about many of us Americans (not ALL of course, so there WILL be Americans who don't do this).

When everything is going well and good and money is being made, and Americans have jobs that are fairly permanent, Americans will stick up for/love/worship/etc etc other countries.

When something bad happens over here, or to Americans, and they are told the source is a company/person from another country (even if that country was giving us buckets of money and millions of jobs) we will blame you/hate you/curse your country to the nine hells/wish harm on your country.

Americans are selfish, entitled people, we want it now, we want it working.

Unfortunately, people like this make Americans like me look very bad.

I've never liked Sarah Palin. I don't like her looks, I don't like her voice, I don't like what she stands for. And I think she should stay out of this whole mess.

I feel sad for all the poor animals out there. =(

I read about the Union Carbide case. If I remember correctly, it was when I took political science.

I sometimes hate my country just for the sheer wtf-ery of it all.