View Full Version : Katrina: Trading oil for oil

Mark Hamilton
September 9th, 2005, 07:49 AM
As we continue to witness increasingly sickening images coming to our TV screens from (principally) New Orleans, I truly wonder whether the Bush Administration has lost the plot big time. I've watched both BBC and ABC coverage of events and, for once, the BBC - and in particular its correspondent Matt Frei - has pulled almost no punches in its condemnation of the way in which the Federal Government has reacted to this emergency.

Not only was the Government slow to react to an event it could have prevented (more about this later) but, in so many ways, it reacted in a wholly inappropriate manner. Scenes of military personnel forceably entering peoples' homes and businesses with weapons drawn and pointed gives the impression of a country at war with a portion of its citizenry - the poor and dispossessed. There are reportedly over 60,000 military and an army of NGO personnel in and around the affected areas and yet nobody is collecting the dead. An ambulance from Kentucky was filmed yesterday parked-up on one of the bridges, its crew taking souvenir photographs. When asked if they were there to assist with collecting the many dead bodies - one of which was only a few metres from where they stood - one of the crewmen shrugged his shoulders and said that they were not tasked for this.

As Frei passionately reported earlier this week "there are some 60 thousand soldiers on the streets but there's only one doctor still working in downtown New Orleans. One doctor and no medical supplies....."

There are nine major oil refineries along that stretch of the Gulf coast which have been disabled mainly by flooding - not forgetting the many oil platforms in the Gulf itself. For years now, officials in Louisiana have been warning that the levee system that protects the New Orleans area needs upgrading and have petitioned for federal funds to enable them to undertake this work. Federal funding for such projects has been diverted to fund Bush's war in Iraq - a war necessitated not by the need to prevent Sadam using WMD, for there were none, but to secure the availability of Iraq's oil supplies to the US. Sadam posed no threat to the US but hurricanes and Mother Nature always have and always will.

Bush gambled the cash to secure the Gulf Coast - and its refineries - against natural disasters to pay for his overseas adventures. As well over 10% of US petrol supplies are refined in the New Orleans area, there are now shortages of petroleum products in many areas. Of course American oil companies know that US citizens, with their gas guzzlers, would never pay anything like the same price per gallon as we in Europe have to endure, so they're busily buying up as much petrol as they can from European refineries and have chartered 20 supertankers to ship it all to the US. This will ensure that we Europeans continue to pay in excess of $1.86 a litre (or roughly $5 a gallon) for many months to come.


Judy G. Russell
September 9th, 2005, 04:06 PM
If it makes you feel any better, there are a lot of us in the US who ain't happy either...

Mark Hamilton
September 9th, 2005, 06:17 PM
I'm aware of that, Judy. What is interesting is to contrast the television coverage by the BBC and the US networks. The former is unashamably not afraid to show the full horrow of the story whilst the latter seem to be more reticent. One of the correspondents the BBC quite often uses is a woman called Gloria (I'm not sure of her last name) who also files reports for ABC. Her reports for the BBC are more detailed whilst those for ABC are really tame by comparison.

But the fact that Washington Suits seem to be in denial is amazing. Tonight there was an interview (on BBC2's "Newsnight" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/default.stm)) with a spokesman from some pro-Republican organisation campaigning for lower taxes and smaller Government. He claims that the poorest Americans enjoy a better standard of living than the average French citizen: they all drive cars, have washer-dryers and TV sets he stated. This guy knows very little about being poor in America and even less about France which has one of the costliest social welfare programmes in the first world. Tonight's programme, available via the above link, can be accessed until 22.00 GMT tomorrow.


September 9th, 2005, 10:06 PM
But the fact that Washington Suits seem to be in denial is amazing.
The right wing here seems to be under the impression that they can change reality simply by denying it. They've gotten away with it for a long time now, but I think reality may finally be catching up with them. Unfortunately, it's those at the bottom of the totem pole who, once again, end up paying the price.


Judy G. Russell
September 9th, 2005, 11:23 PM
This guy knows very little about being poor in AmericaVirtually no-one from the extreme right wing has a clue about being poor in America... or anywhere else.