Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eyeless Shrimp and Toothless Government

So, there has been a huge ongoing cover-up of the disastrous effects of the Gulf oil spill! The government, the corporate-controlled mass media, and BP have all conspired to hide the truth that the worst episode of pollution in the history of the planet continues unabated. Massive portions of the sea floor are dead, and fish and other marine life have become so diseased and deformed that the people fishing those waters all their lives have never seen anything like it.

It took a news outlet half a world away to gather together obscure reports, connect the dots, amd expose the shocking truth. In case you have not yet seen it, do make sure to watch the video and read the story that Al Jazeera started running this week. Then ask yourself why virtually no American broadcasters or newspapers have picked it up, and why the United States government is belching a big "No Comment."

Tune in any time to MSNBC or CNN or Fox, and interspersed with the manufactured outrage stories of presidential politics, you will see those flashy, happy, slick, ubiquitous BP commercials. They lead you believe that the oil spill was actually good for the Gulf -- the water is clearer than ever, the seafood more abundant and tastier, the sand is whiter, tourism is booming, wildlife is thriving, and the mildly inconvenienced business owners have been handsomely compensated. The spots usually feature African-American actors, thus delivering the message that BP is socially liberal as well as environmentally responsible. (Ironically, the latest $100 million ad inadvertently includes a shot of some anti-BP protesters in the distance!)

The TV networks are obviously raking in the profits from these greed-washing spots. Do you really think they are going to bite the BP hand that feeds them? President Obama and the rest of the political elite class are not about to offend the corporate interests on whom they depend either, especially in an election year. They have been complicit in covering up the magnitude of this disaster from day one. Why should they rock the boat now, by admitting that the tragic effects will be playing out long after we have all faded away? The president, desperate to prove to independents that he is no environmental softie, has actually expanded drilling in the Gulf, allowing operations in even deeper water than that in which the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded.

The truth exposed by Al Jazeera is the polar opposite of the BP public relations assault. Tar balls are still washing up on beaches and getting caught in fishing nets.There are reports of third generation eyeless shrimp, hardshell crab that have devolved into softshell crab, rotting from the inside out, and fish and crabs with lesions and burns believed to be caused by the chemical dispersants used to break up the oil.  From the Al Jazeera report:

Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.
"I've seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out," Ladner told Al Jazeera. "The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday."
While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and "their shells missing around their gills and head".
"We've fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this," he added.
Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.
Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week".

Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.

"We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills."

Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was "ten per cent what it normally is".
Al Jazeera gleaned much of its information from poring through esoteric scientific journals not easily accessible to the general public. When its journalists asked the the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration for comment, they were referred to NOAA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). NOAA, in turn, declined to comment because of "ongoing lawsuits".

Meanwhile, if you rely on the Paper of Record (the N.Y. Times)  for all the latest BP disaster news, the only thing you learned this week is that lawyers hammered out their fees in the civil case, and that BP CEO Bob Dudley echoed his rosy TV commercial talking points. And there was this bland editorial about Congress being the opposite of Progress. Oh yeah, a criminal investigation by the Obama Justice Department is "continuing".

And continuing and continuing and continuing. The second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion is tomorrow. Halliburton is still in business and more profitable than ever. Dick Cheney still has a new heart. Ann Romney is still fabulously rich. BP is still here, and so is the oil spill.

 Cancerous and Eyeless Shrimp from the Gulf (Al Jazeera)


DreamsAmelia said...

What an apt metaphor for the ruling classes-- they're like these blinded, wounded insensate crustaceans miring in the oil, still animated by what looks like play money compared to the all-too-real and yet surreal devastation here and now--The 1% as "fried blind shrimp," surely as snappy a nursery rhyme as "three blind mice"...

In their dementia, the blind politicians ignore the massive suffering around them to whine about "our grandchildren! our furture!"--yet squiggling in the sand between their toes are the eyeless grandchildren of the toxin-exposed previous generations of shrimp. The human residents may be scarred for life and have shortened lives, but have signed away their right to sue BP--
See also this excellent reporting in _The Nation_ about how EPA has excluded the dispersant, Corexit, from its monitoring of long-term health effects, and of the overall struggles of local residents to have their chronic illnesses documented or treated.

The Times did add a new report at 11:21 am today in their usual, vehemently anti-hysterical tone--attempting as ardently as they can to cast doubt on linking any human or fish health effects directly to the oil by being ever so damningly muted, indicted by their own over-zealous attempts at dryness....I can hear the Grey Lady saying right now, "Ahem. Class. Open your books to page 387, and we shall begin reading, '2 Years Later, Fish Sick Near BP Oil Spill Site.' Keep in mind, the term "sick" implies something like a little cold from which the cute little baby fish can rapidly recover. Nothing so grim as species depletion or extinction. Johnny, would you like to begin our reading today?"

Valerie said...

Well, anyone with half a brain could figure out that the 4.9 billion barrels of oil and all those chemical dispersants - which I have read are actually worse for the environment than the oil - were going to kill and poison all life in the Gulf of Mexico. Mother Nature can only take so much abuse! Where is the 60 Minutes interview to bring the carnage into mainstream awareness for those who think BP did its duty as they mindlessly fill up their SUV's?

And I want to know - what happens to all that diseased and deformed seafood that manages to still cling to life in the Gulf. Is it finding its way into our pre-packaged foods? Truly, people need to buy locally grown food and organic if possible. If I lived in the U.S., I would seriously consider giving up dairy, meat and fish unless I could verify its source like wild Alaskan salmon.

Why are average Americans so blind to the effects of pollution and cost of consuming these fossil fuels? Would it be so terrible to drive tiny cars and walk or bike to local shops? Would it be so terrible to take public transportation? Are these inconveniences so terrible when compared to having a clean ocean, healthy seafood and not needing to be in a state of constant war in order to secure the oil we “need” to maintain our giant car lifestyles?

Where is our common sense as a nation?

As always, the only place we are reading these great pieces of investigative journalism is on the blogosphere and specifically here at Sardonicky. Would that this site get the widespread circulation that it deserves.

Elizabeth Adams said...

BP is still reaping riches, raping beaches, and Big Oil has not been reigned in one bit. Back in the day, we could tear up a corporation's charter.

Update on the Bartholomew Brothers:

Bonnie said...

Bless you, Karen, for telling the truth. We need you more than ever.

Karen Garcia said...

Hi again,
Just wanted to share a comment I wrote in response to the Times editorial on rich donors getting White House invites and other perks....

In a country where 94% of all elections are decided by which candidate raises the most money, democracy is nothing but a sham. Citizens are invited to pull the lever every four years for a one percent candidate who has learned to be loyal to his own kind.

We are being asked to choose between Obama, Inc and Romney, Inc. We are invited to to participate in what is essentially a mere spectator sport for the masses. Pick a side and root for your team. Revel in the illusion that your participation matters. Heads they win, tails you lose. The only victors are the boards of corporate givers/directors, many of whom sit at both tables, hedging their bets the good old American way. Donors who invest huge chunks of money to campaigns are playing with weighted votes. They have the golden ticket with a name attached. We are but fleeting anonymous blips on a touch screen.

What makes this particular contest particularly odious is the recent invasion of Citizens United, which allows unlimited corporate -- even foreign -- interests to decide the outcome. The constant and shameless grasping for money by both candidates is a gross violation of the public trust. With luck and grit, we will succeed in overturning C.U. with a constitutional amendment. Our venal politicians certainly cannot be counted on to reform the system once they are elected. A systemic culture of greed and pay-to-play has irrevocably corrupted them.

Jay - Ottawa said...

"There are reports of third generation eyeless shrimp, hardshell crab that have devolved into softshell crab, rotting from the inside out, and fish and crabs with lesions and burns .... "

Good grief. How will I sleep tonight; and if I do sleep, what dreams? You Casandras are such big-pill, high-dose depressants. Haven't you ever heard, 'Time heals all wounds.'? Give it ten thousand years or so.

Besides, fishermen are known for their tall stories. Note how they all have a different version of what's ailing the shrimp. Make up your minds, guys. Is it the eyes or the gills, the shell or the gut?

Just maybe these strange sea creatures are a new species, like the ever-expanding number of New Americans, true children of the empire, who see nothing, hear nothing and -- most curious of all -- say nothing.

Denis Neville said...

Recommended reading:

Antonia Juhasz’s book Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill

As well as her Nation article, “BP vs. Gulf Coast: It’s Not Settled Yet”

“If the people and places of the Gulf Coast are to achieve full justice and restoration, and if future disasters are to be prevented, the public must remain vigilant in demanding that the unfolding legal process is transparent, fair and rigorous, holding BP and all responsible parties fully to account for their failures and crimes.”

She writes about one of four factors driving the parties away from a trial and toward a settlement:

“Evidence presented at trial could also prove damning to the Obama administration. In Black Tide, I document the administration’s failure to adequately hold BP to account for its catastrophic Macondo well operations and the subsequent disaster, as well as the administration’s own role in keeping the truth about the scope of the disaster from the public. Again, it is anticipated that even more damning evidence could come to light at trial.”

Yet again, Barry?

BP named the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Macondo, which was the name of the cursed village in Gabriel García Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.

“One hundred years of refusing to acknowledge the world outside of their village had destroyed them; and races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on Earth.” - Gabriel García Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Kat said...

The New Yorker always has a full page or two from Chevron. (apparently all they really want is to create clean energy and make sure our school children are fully engaged in their science curriculum) Do you think the magazine pulled any punches when covering the judgement against the energy behemoth in Ecuador?

Kat said...

Oh, I wanted to share this: Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Piers Morgan.
Piers attempts to get them to speak out about Ted Nugent's comment. Cornel and Tavis turn attention back to the utter bankruptcy of our electoral process. When Piers attempts to talk about race Cornel wants to talk class (and also acknowledges prejudice against Mormons). They just refuse to follow the script!

John in Lafayette said...

Down here in Lafayette people are torn. The oil industry is very powerful here, and they control a lot of jobs. The industry represents a huge portion of our economy. At the same time we rely on the gulf both for commercial fishing and for sport fishing, which attracts much of our tourism.

So when the local newspaper runs a front page story about this very thing, you know the effects of the spill are real:|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

You will note that they couch their terms carefully, to avoid saying explicitly what we all know to be true. But the fact remains.

Of course, our friends in the Obama administration have closed the books on this whole episode. Nobody will ever do the perp's walk of shame, and whatever clean-up money we've already gotten is all we're ever going to get.

This sucks.

Valerie said...

Question for John in Lafayette -
Are they actually getting fish out of the Gulf? Are people thinking the fish is safe to eat? I can't believe that there is any tourist industry left in terms of sports fishing. Just wondering. The thought of people eating that fish really creeps me out!

John in Lafayette said...


Sorry to take so long getting back to you.

As Sarah Palin would say, you betcha! BP assures us that Gulf shrimp are safe to eat. But my friend the marine biologist tells me that since oysters are nature's filters, he won't feel safe eating an oyster from the Gulf until after he's dead.