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DATE: 29 May 2010


TO: My Political E-Mail List


SUBJECT: See No Oil. Hear No Oil. Speak No Oil.

Even though Pres. Obama has promised that oil company reps would no longer be — literally as well as figuratively — in bed with government regulators, it seems now as if another arm of the federal government has too “cosy” a relationship with BP ...




[N]ews photographers are complaining that their efforts to document the slow-motion disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials — working with BP — who are blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible. More than a month into the disaster, a host of anecdotal evidence is emerging from reporters, photographers, and TV crews [including a CBS TV crew threatened with arrest, a Mother Jones reporter, and Jean-Michel Cousteau] in which BP and Coast Guard officials explicitly target members of the media, restricting and denying them access to oil-covered beaches, staging areas for clean-up efforts, and even flyovers. ...

“It’s a running joke among the journalists covering the story that the words ‘Coast Guard’ affixed to any vehicle, vessel, or plane should be prefixed with ‘BP,’” says Charlie Varley, a Louisiana-based photographer. “It would be funny if it were not so serious.”

The problem, as many members of the press see it, is that even when access is granted, it’s done so under the strict oversight of BP and Coast Guard personnel. Reporters and photographers are escorted by BP officials on BP-contracted boats and aircraft. So the company is able to determine what reporters see and when they see it.


And thus what the rest of us see and when we see it (I’ve wondered why there were far fewer pictures of oil-soaked birds and beaches than when the Exxon Valdez crashed ashore). Government limiting media coverage embarrassing to big business? Alarmingly, that reminded me of something else I read today ...




After years of being pushed to work 12-hour days, six days a week on monotonous low-wage assembly line tasks, China’s workers are starting to push back.

A strike at an enormous Honda transmission factory here in southeastern China has suddenly and unexpectedly turned into a symbol of this nation’s struggle with income inequality, rising inflation and soaring property prices that have put home ownership beyond the reach of all but the most affluent. ...

... [P]rint and television reporters from state-controlled media across the country ... started covering the walkout here, even waiting outside the nearly deserted front gate on Thursday and Friday in hope of any news. All the Chinese reporters disappeared on Saturday morning, however, as the government, apparently nervous, suddenly imposed without explanation a blanket ban on domestic media coverage of the strike.


I’m confused. Has our capitalist system become more communist, or China’s communist system become more capitalist? Or is it simply that we in the public are just supposed to follow the old Asian maxim of the Three Wise Monkeys: “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.”


So the oil spill in the Gulf is simply, as BP CEO Tony Hayward has been reassuring us, a “natural disaster” causing “very, very modest” environmental damage.


Silly me. I’ve been pissed off and worried.




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