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FATTENING WALL STREET — Mike Whitney reports on the rapid metamorphosis of new Fed Chair Janet Yallin into a lackey for the bankers, bond traders and brokers. The New Religious Wars Over the Environment: Joyce Nelson charts the looming confrontation between the Catholic Church and fundamentalists over climate change, extinction and GMOs; A People’s History of Mexican Constitutions: Andrew Smolski on the 200 year-long struggle of Mexico’s peasants, indigenous people and workers to secure legal rights and liberties; Spying on Black Writers: Ron Jacobs uncovers the FBI’s 50 year-long obsession with black poets, novelists and essayists; O Elephant! JoAnn Wypijewski on the grim history of circus elephants; PLUS: Jeffrey St. Clair on birds and climate change; Chris Floyd on the US as nuclear bully; Seth Sandronsky on Van Jones’s blind spot; Lee Ballinger on musicians and the State Department; and Kim Nicolini on the films of JC Chandor.
Reflections on the Fifth Anniversary of One of the Biggest Oil Spills in History

Deepwater Capitalism

by QUINCY SAUL

In memory of Gabriel García Márquez, March 6, 1927-April 17, 2014.

In September of 2009, the BP corporation dug the deepest oil well in history. The 35,055-foot deep Tiber prospect, 300 miles off the Texas coast, promised six billion barrels: one of the largest oil fields ever discovered in the country. So of course, they kept looking for more: They moved their massive drilling rig named Deepwater Horizon fifty miles south of the Louisiana coastline, to a prospect called Macondo, named after the setting of the famous book 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez.

On April 20, 2010, as they began to seal the well, something went wrong: a mix of oil and gas escaped, rushing up through earth and water, blowing up the Deepwater Horizon, and killing eleven workers, whose bodies were never recovered. Over the next eighty seven days, the whole world watched as over 200 million gallons of oil erupted from the ocean floor into the Gulf of Mexico.

It was the largest oil spill in history – more than ten times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. The images of animals covered in oil began to haunt our screens again, and the scale of death was so great it still seems impossible to quantify – estimates of the number of birds killed within the first hundred days ranges between 100,000 and one million. But the real nightmare was offshore, as riptides and hired hands collected thousands of animal carcasses into “death gyres”. Riki Ott explains:

“Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen managed to get the only footage of what I came to call the ‘death gyres.’ the rip currents that collected dead animals offshore. The Incident Command – BP and the US Coast Guard – kept the media 1,500 feet up in the air so the press couldn’t really capture the situation there. The animal carcasses were corralled, taken out to sea, and dumped at night, according to fishermen who were involved with so-called ‘Night-time Operations.’ Offshore workers reported ‘thousands of dolphins, birds too numerous to count, sea turtles too numerous to count,’ and even whales in the death gyres.” (Earth at Risk, Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planetedited by Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith, p. 49)

Five years later, what can we say? If hindsight is 20-20 then presumably we can learn from our mistakes. How did it happen? Was it BP’s fault? Or is there a bigger picture to blame? Five years later, the common sense of this tragedy has yet to dawn, as if the oil has clogged our hearts and minds along with our oceans and beaches. Like the pioneers of Márquez’s Macondo, searching for a way through...

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