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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.
Loyaulte Me Lie: clameron tiesshocolate on June 11th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Auror!Harry as his bodyguard with Draco and Dave rolling their eyes at the pair of them would happy me just as much!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 11th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
Draco can't be rolling his eyes, he's being his press secretary!
kestrelsparhawkkestrelsparhawk on June 12th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
Oh no...
Yes he can. He's Draco. He can be press secretary and roll his eyes anytime he wants to. And does, regularly.