Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oil Industry Lobbied Against Blow-Out Preventer

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Five hundred grand is chicken feed for the likes of BP/HALLIBURTON. That's how much a blow-out preventer would have cost BP. But the U.S. oil industry 'lobbied' against laws mandating their use.

In psychotic denial, BP asserts its innocence; oil giants remain united against regulations of any type requiring that they be responsible, regulations that would in fact require them to pay damages as a result of incompetence, greed or indifference! This record is unconscionable and follows from a lie called "corporate personhood' --an evil, pernicious doctrine recently espoused and 'made law' by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If 'corporations' were 'persons' as the 'Supreme' court has said they are, then BP and Halliburton would have already been arrested, charged, jailed and awaiting trial on numerous charges. Perhaps it is not too late to lock them all up --board chairman, members of the board, voting stockholders! Lock them all up!

Five ideologues who presume to judge us are, I believe, bought and paid for by a handful of corporations who presume to own the world. I can think of no other explanation for the worst decision since Bush v Gore and Dred-Scott.

If the rule of law is to be restored, the current SCOTUS must be expunged, reformed, by revolution if need be! Lock up the corporate criminals on the U.S. 'high' court!

In the meantime, relatives of workers presumed dead claim that BP and rig owner TransOcean violated "numerous statutes and regulations" issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard. According to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.
...Sen. Lisa Murkowski [has] blocked a bill that would have raised the maximum liability for oil companies after a spill from a paltry $75 million to $10 billion. The Republican lawmaker said the bill, introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would have unfairly hurt smaller oil companies by raising the costs of oil production. The legislation is "not where we need to be right now" she said. Murkowski's move came just hours after Washington's top oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute (API) expressed vociferous opposition to raising the cap. It argued that doing so would "threaten the viability of deep-water operations, significantly reduce U.S. domestic oil production and harm U.S. energy security." API's membership includes large oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP America, as well as smaller ones.

In an article for The Washington Post of June 24 2010, ‘Beyond the BP Oil Spill, A Case of Chronic Pollution,’ author Steve Tracton, states,
‘According to government estimates, as of yesterday anywhere from 39 million to 111 million gallons of crude oil has gushed into the Gulf of Mexico (that excludes captured oil)...2.5 million gallons more continue to spill each day -- that's an Exxon Valdez spill (nearly 11 million gallons total)... every four days.’
Read more at Suite101: BP Oil Spill, BP Shares Plummet as the Environment Is Massacred 'Lobby' is a euphemism for the corporate ownership of the U.S government, indeed, corporate ownership of any government, be it Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain. Corporations --recently created 'persons' by SCOTUS --are not above the law despite the worst efforts of Scalia, Roberts and the other extremists on the U.S. high court. International law, in fact, obligates states to 'regulate' offshore drilling.
Considered to be a “Constitution for the ocean”,10 and adopted by over three-uarters of the 192 member-States of the United Nations,11 the LOSC is the primary, overarching, legally binding, global instrument on the law of the sea. According to the preamble, its Parties intended “to settle all issues relating to law of the sea” and to establish “a legal order for the seas and oceans,” bearing in mind “that the problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a whole”. The LOSC is not a “framework treaty”; it does not depend for its implementation on the development of annexes and protocols, and “its provisions form an integral whole.”12 It governs all activities, including geoengineering projects, which involve or affect the marine environment.
--Geo-engineering, the Law of the Sea, and Climate Change,The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, [PDF]
States have a responsibility, perhaps a 'duty' to “adopt laws and regulations" to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment. States are required to utilize all means ' their disposal' to address every issue relating to the marine environment. As stated in the above cited material: "Doing nothing about marine pollution is not an option..!"

But as the gulf catastrophe continues to unfold it would appear that little is done but PR and posturing.
Yet relatives of workers who are presumed dead claim that the oil behemoth BP and rig owner TransOcean violated "numerous statutes and regulations" issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.

Both companies failed to provide a competent crew, failed to properly supervise its employees and failed to provide Rushto with a safe place to work, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The lawsuit also names oil-services giant Halliburton as a defendant, claiming that the company "prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion."

BP and TransOcean have also aggressively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year by a federal agency that oversees offshore drilling -- which were prompted by a study that found many accidents in the industry.
Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Right Wing Scams: 'Why Don't You Start Calling Me Gordon?'

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

All but forgotten now, Enron --it's rise and calamitous fall --dominated front pages and sucked up airtime until knocked out of contention by 911. As I was reminded, it was the ghost of Gordon Gekko, brilliantly portrayed by Michael Douglas in 'Wall Street', who both presaged and haunted the fail of Enron and all those who served it or were temporarily enriched by its corporate shams and schemes.

As was the case in the 'Roaring Twenties', fortunes were lost in a heart beat, economic empires collapsed in the blink of an eye. Enron was one of them. Conveniently for the new Bush administration, indeed, the GOP itself a crime syndicate, corporate 'person-hood' benefited from a timely stay of execution -- 911.

Wall Street was one of Hollywood's more pertinent parables even if the name "Gekko" was a bit obvious. Real Gekkos (spelled Gecko) make fairly good pets --or so I am told! They eat roaches. And of late there are no shortage of roaches. The largest roach colonies are found in Washington D.C., Austin, TX, K-street or Wall Street --all sites of irradicable infestations. As we have seen, the GOP eats it own.

Opportunities for metaphor and analogy are endless and every comic needs a foil. Had there been no crooks or idiots, the careers of Voltaire and Mark Twain would have been much less brilliant. We owe a great debt to totalitarians, snobs, goppers, corporate crooks, Bush's surrogate torturers and would-be dictators. Where would Stephen Colbert be without them? Alas, the blog-o-sphere would be scrambling for material.

Enron was run by a gang that most certainly thought that, being "captains" of "industry", they could just pull out and disappear. I suppose every crook thinks that they will get away with it.
Enron will prove to be one of the most important episodes in the history of American business, and its story, from beginning to end, is inseparable from Ken Lay, its founder and long-time chairman. Thus, what people make of Enron—and what lessons they draw from it—will depend to a considerable degree on how they understand Lay.

As I’m sure you know, Enron has to date been blamed largely on free-market politicians, heartless corporate managers, and an egoistic chairman. In fact, as my book will show, Enron relied heavily on government favors, was run by postmodernist managers, and had as its chairman the kind of person Ayn Rand would have called “a second-hander.”
--On the Fall of Enron and Ken Lay: 'Philosophical Fraud' at an Errant Energy Company (and cap-and-trade, renewables forerunner), Robert Bradley Jr.
The US is, likewise, a financial shell. When GM, at last, is swallowed up by a foreign auto maker, what incentive will the new entity have to employ American workers when they can do just as well in Japan or Malaysia or China?

We have become a nation of consumers lent money by China so that we can buy goods manufactured in China. We are cattle, cows to be milked. When the teat runs dry we will be abandoned to third world status if we are not already.

In the meantime, the Bushies and other GOP Geckos will have run off with the last scraps of US wealth if they have not done so already. See the CIA's World Fact Book which lists the U.S. at the very bottom of the list with the world's largest negative Current Account Balance, formerly called the 'balance of trade deficit'. China tops the list with the world's largest POSITIVE Current Account Balance. Every banker can equate that with his own balance sheet and conclude that China, because of the policies of the GOP, now owns America if not the entire world.

The house of cards appears to have fallen --but not just yet! Like Ken Lay, Bush and his gang are most surely clinging to the belief that, unlike Lay, they will get away with it. Chances are good that Bush will live out the rest of his wasted life too stupid to regret a damn thing! It is this luxury, available only to the stupid, that I resent most!

Iraq was a big screw up. The invasion and theft of Iraqi oil was supposed to bail them out. Things have not quite worked out as planned. Then again, perhaps they have exceeded Bushco expectations. They are not yet jailed nor executed for capital war crimes (see: U.S. Codes, Title 18, Section 2441).

Just as Hitler thought he had learned from Napoleon's mistakes, Bush most certainly thought he had learned from Hitler's.