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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Today in BP Oil Disaster: Day 79

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 4:56 PM

  • BP and the U.S. Coast Guard announced last week the new rules concerning "safety zones": come within 65 feet, and you could face felony charges and massive fines. Not only have reporters been routinely shut out of supposed "open access" areas, under this new provision they'll also be labeled criminals. How can reporters, photographers and others in those "safety zones" do their jobs — that is, sending information to the rest of the world about a disaster now enforcing as little oversight as possible. This is nothing less than a police state, folks, and Gambit don't take kindly to police states. Is this not our home? If you live in Louisiana, do you not expect to know what the hell is happening to it? Anderson Cooper tells BP "We are not the enemy":

    One of several organizations trying to get some rational response to the "law," the National Press Photographers Association has appealed to President Barack Obama to rescind the ban on interviewing oil cleanup workers, and to "instruct the federal government to work with the press to create a more reasonable 'safety zone' for journalists who are covering the Gulf oil spill and attempting to document the Deepwater Horizon booming efforts."
    Champion of First Amendment-toting lampooning, Leroy Stick, the guy behind the BPGlobalPR Twitter, revealed himself to PBS — while wearing a balaclava and using a voice modulator. Close enough, I guess. "The brand is dead," he says. As a doorknob.

  • Meanwhile, BP stands to gain about $600 million this year from ethanol tax breaks. The corn lobby is using the Gulf oil disaster as a talking point for using more ethanol — thus (incidentally or no) promoting BP injecting the corn-based fuel into its oil mix. Happenstance, shmappenstance.

  • Sure, BP claims agents have been more than visible and approachable to Gulf folk — thanks to ads like these and Darryl Willis' regular WWL radio call-ins — but as the Associated Press reports, it's often impossible to provide BP with the "necessary" documents, especially in a cash-only business. BP requests tax returns from 2007 to 2009, along with a number of other documents.

    Stuart Smith, an attorney handling oil-spill lawsuits, said seeking aid can be intimidating, and some cash workers fear that they'll face penalties or prosecution for not paying taxes if they come forward.

    "Proving that you worked in that capacity is going to be an issue for a lot of these people because they're not sophisticated businessmen," Smith said.

  • "Our universe is getting very small."
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