- On April 23, a New York Times editorial headlined, "Quick
Help for the Gulf," mocking grave environmental damage as well as
affected communities and residents in typical Times cavalier fashion, saying:
- BP's April 21 announced "$1 billion down payment
on its obligation to restore the Gulf of Mexico to good health is such
welcome news that it seems almost churlish to offer caveats" or question
- In fact, BP committed America's greatest ever environmental
crime, destroying the entire Gulf, as well as the welfare, livelihoods,
health and futures of millions of coastal residents, a disaster perhaps
no amount of money can restore, but don't expect BP even to try.
- However, saying "(l)ong-term restoration is a goal
we have backed ever since Hurricane Katrina," The Times dismissively
suggested $1 billion "is enough for now just to get started."
In fact, it's inconsequential pocket change for the incalculable human,
economic and environmental toll. But don't expect Times editors to explain.
- Others do, however, including Dahr Jamail, detailing
Gulf "toxicity, suffering and death" on April 16, and on April
20, its "criminal negligence," discussing mounting lawsuits for
what BP won't pay.
- Ryan Lambert is one of many affected. Jamail quoted him
- "I'm seeing people starving to death and BP won't
pay them....They know what they did is wrong and they still won't pay me
(or most others). I'm done playing their games. All they are doing is starving
people out and trying to get them to take (pocket change settlements to)
give up their right to sue. I know thousands of people in the fishing industry,
and I don't know one person who has been made whole yet."
- In previous articles, Jamail covered similar ground,
highlighting the plight of Gulf residents stonewalled by BP and Kenneth
Feinberg's firm, paid nearly $1 million a month to administer compensation
by denying it, a dirty expertise he developed years ago handling previous
- An earlier article explained, saying BP established a
paltry $20 billion compensation fund for victims, containing a slim $3
billion deposit, the idea being to help BP, not them. Claims czar Feinberg
was appointed to assure it, a man notorious for serving wealth and power
- His resume includes managing a similar account for 9/11
victims, then later was appointed pay czar for bailed out Wall Street banks
and other companies. Like BP ombudsman Stanley Sporkin, he's a notorious
"fixer," fronting for power, not people, earlier negotiating
a lawsuit settlement for Agent Orange producers, benefitting them, not
affected veterans, getting $1,200 not to litigate.
- He later performed similar services for AH Robins, maker
of the Dalkon Shield, injuring 235,000 women with potentially lethal pelvic
infections, a settlement giving most of them $725 or less.
- He's now point man in charge of doing to Gulf residents
what he did earlier, saving corporate criminals billions, getting victims
to waive their right to sue in return for amounts too meager to matter.
In a 2010 Wall Street Journal interview, he said:
- "When I go to the Gulf, I hear a lot about the underground
economy. 'Mr. Feinberg, I got paid $5,000 a month all cash. Do I have a
claim?' Well, you have to prove your claim. There's nothing illegal about
all cash business, but do you have your tax return....Do you have documentary
evidence....Will your ship captain vouch for the $5,000....I need something.
I can't be paying claims that can't be proven. And I can tell you that
this is going to be a big issue."
- Indeed it has been, reports confirming he's on BP's payroll,
his mandate being to deny, deny, deny, or pay minimum amounts, mostly in
lump sums, victims waiving their right to litigate, even those losing livelihoods,
years of lost income, and health.
- In early February 2011, Feinberg issued a report claiming,
"Full economic recovery in the Gulf region is likely within two to
three years" from last April. As a result, "losses in 2011 will
be approximately 70% of" last year's amount. He'll thus cap payouts
to twice the paltry $3.5 billion 2010 level.
- He commissioned biologist Wes Tunnell to produce bogus
findings based no scientific legitimacy as justification for denying claims,
hanging desperate residents out to dry for bottom line priorities.
- On April 20, an NAACP special investigation also revealed
broken promises, saying:
- "(T)he needs of residents attempting to cope with
the increased stress have been largely unmet."
- Titled, "My Name is 6508799," it covers the
state of the Gulf a year later. The full report can be accessed through
the following link:
- Among complaints heard, most affected residents feel
like they've been reduced to numbers in BP's Gulf Coast Claims Facility
database with "so much power over life, livelihood, health and overall
- As a result, many thousands haven't been "made whole."
They're now affected by dangerous toxins, "community conflicts, (destroyed)
families, culture erosion, loss of property, including homes, cars, boats,"
and other possessions. For many, perhaps most, their way of life is gone,
and for all, they're out of sight and mind to company, government, and
major media reporters, focusing on money and power issues, not people.
- Persistent, Increasing, Anguished Unmet Needs
- They include bankruptcies, destroyed livelihoods, domestic
violence, severe anxiety, trauma, PTSD, drug and alcohol abuse, serious
illnesses, suicides, massive lost of plant and wildlife, and vast ecological
destruction from toxic oil and dispersants, in combination more deadly
- Louisiana fisherman Elmer is like many thousands, saying:
- "I'm not asking for the world. I'm just asking for
something to live on, man....At Thanksgiving, I was under review. My kids
barely ate. I barely ate. Christmas came. My child is 13 years old. She
got nothing. You know what she woke up to? No water (and) no power. What
do you want me to do? Get on my knees and beg for it? Look, I'm here. I'm
on my knees for it. I need my money sir, to live."
- Alabama oyster fisherman Nga Da said:
- For 20 years, "I earned $1,500 - $2,000 a month.
I received $1,000 a month for two months from BP. Then I got $800 for a
month afterwards. Then I received nothing for the past five months."
- As a result, he borrowed money to pay rent. BP's claims
facility offered a lump sum $5,000 for not suing, "but I don't know
the future because there is no prospect for employment because most of
the processing companies have closed."
- Another resident's poignant sign read:
- "Remember our way of life It's OIL gone."
- The overall scope of unmet human, environmental, and
community need is scandalous and largely unreported.
- NAACP's Climate Change Initiative director Jacqueline
- "....(T)he ocean floor is severely damaged and many
underwater habitats are struggling to recover. The same can be said for
Gulf Coast residents. News reports that have focused on the 'Spillionaires'
- those who have cashed in big on the BP payouts - fail to look below the
surface and see (the great majority of) unhealed mental and physical wounds
left by the disaster."
- Overall, NAACP's report highlighted appalling levels
- -- financial devastation;
- -- unsafe seafood;
- -- increasing physical and emotional health issues;
- -- distressed communities and families;
- -- underpaid, grossly delayed, and denied claims "without
- -- unavailable physical and emotional healthcare;
- -- "insufficient seafood safety testing and analysis;"
- -- "under-resourced and overwhelmed community assistance
- A Final Comment
- For most Gulf residents, financial, health, family and
community circumstances are much worse now than a year ago because of BP's
stonewalling and government dismissiveness to their plight, complicit with
the company's bottom line priorities.
- From the start, the Obama administration conspired with
BP, imposed censorship and cover-up, and barred the public and news media
from coming within 65 feet of clean-up efforts under penalty of law without
Coast Guard permission.
- Suppressing the disaster's magnitude and overall harm,
Obama's Gulf commission shielded BP officials from criminal culpability
so they can keep raping America's environment with impunity. It also recommended
self-regulation and justified offshore drilling, no matter the extreme
hazards, assuring repeat disasters as great or worse than BP's with no
attention given human or ecological considerations.
- Inside Washington's Beltway, only wealth and power issues
matter, despite the cost to society and ordinary people bearing it most.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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