Monday, 2 August 2010

How the media helped create the BP Gulf crisis with low life politician's help

Nine years ago when Steve Waugh's Aussies were administering the customary Ashes thrashing to England I took my son and his friend then aged around 12 one Saturday to see the Aussies play Somerset at Taunton. Somerset for some inexplicable reason did not put out their strongest side and one of the Aussie quicks, not known for his batting duely hit many boundaries and one even into the river Tone. The crowd enjoyed this hitting and much beer was consumed.

Then when Somerset batted, abysmally as usual, the crowd got a bit bored and started to rib S Warne inquiring what colour lipstick he was wearing etc. Steve Waugh, always a bad loser at anything, took exception to this complained to the square leg umpire and they both came across to the square leg boundary to remonstrate with the crowd. This was not well received by the well lubricated crowd who rightly felt the Aussie crowds dished out far worse to the England touring sides and I think the teams left the field for a while and the match was interrupted.

The point of my story is that we left early and got back home in time to catch the main BBC evening news. Stone me, but the lead item was, 'Crowd riot at Somerset Aussie match at Taunton'! A complete travesty of the truth. There was a bit of heckling and an Aussie skipper who like many can dish it out but is not so good at taking it. My young son was flabbergasted and he was able to learn from this not to believe everything on the BBC news. In slack periods especially they just pump up any incident.

Thus it has been in the Gulf as a DT article on Friday entitled, 'Was Hayward Right After All' when he described the Gulf spill's effects as 'tiny'. It seems numerous American media crews have been dispatched to the Gulf Coast to get gut wrenching picture of dead or dying oil soak animals, pelicans, turtles, seals and have been reporting back they can't find any! Connoisseurs of Drop the Dead Donkey will recognise  syndrome of the  ubiquitous teddy bear the reporter carried round with him to every disaster to provide a heart wrenching tale of a possible dead child. Thus it was with the footage of that poor oil soaked pelican which was replayed ad nauseam.

The total number of animals found dead and covered in oil for the whole period is 1296 birds, 17 sea turtles and three dolphins. During the same period the number found dead without any oil on them was 1675 birds, 82 turtles and 53 dolphins. These totals are less than one per cent of the birds killed by oil in the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in 1989 in Alaska, an American company Mr President!

Remember the picture of that sordid politician Obama walking along a beach poking at the odd tar ball. I remember seeing the Cornish beaches after the Torrey Canyon, owned and operated by a subsidiary of the Union Oil Company  of California,  an American company Mr President, went down spilling 120k tons of crude. You could not have walked along these beaches without getting your shoes covered in oil. No need to bend down and poke the odd tar ball!

And did the American owners cough up for the clean up cost? As John Wayne would have said, 'the hell they did'. I copy the section below from Wikepedia on the UK and french governments efforts to recover some of the costs.

Claims were made by the British and French governments against the owners of the vessel and the subsequent settlement was the largest ever in marine history for an oil claim. The British government was only able to serve its writ against the owners by arresting the Torrey Canyon's sister ship, the Lake Palourde, when she put in for provisions at Singapore, four months after the oil spill. A young British lawyer, Anthony O'Connor, from a Singaporean law firm, Drew & Napier, was deputised to arrest the ship on behalf of the British government by attaching a writ to its mast. O'Connor was able to board the ship and serve the writ as the ship's crew thought he was a whisky salesman. The French government, alerted to the Lake Palourde's presence, pursued the ship with motor boats but were unable to board and serve their writ. 

For the record, around15000 sea birds were killed and all fish within a 75 mile radius again much worse than the Gulf. On a human scale in 1988 in the North Sea, 167 men died in the Piper Alpha rig disaster operated by Occidental,  an American company Mr President! The UK government made no reference at all to it being an American rig. It was an accident and we treated it as such. No one, even the Scot Nats, tried to make political capital out of a human disaster as this sordid US president did!

Obama would do well to remember the story of Brer Rabbit and the tar baby he might find this story sticks to him like, well, tar balls.

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