News and analysis: mostly about oil

Birds killed as a result of oil from the Exxon...

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In this edition, the BP oil spill and some more oil  spills, BP strike-breaking in Colombia, Tata in India, the Eurozone crisis, India’s gap between rich and poor and the crisis of consumerism.


NEWS

The Oil Spills We Don’t Hear About

The disastrous BP oil spill is now believed to be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Even worse than Exxon Valdez. Exxon Valdez stirs up strong memories. Who can forget the images of birds covered in black oil slick? Imagine an Exxon Valdez happening every year for 50 years. Pretty unimaginable.

Yet, this is what residents of Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta have been living with for the last 50 years.

Experts estimate that some 13 million barrels of oil have been spilt in the Niger Delta since oil exploration began in 1958. This is the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez every year for 50 years. [READ THE REST]

Colombian Army Attacks Striking BP Workers

A five month long mobilisation against BP in the Casanare region of Colombia has escalated after the Colombian army entered the BP installations with force this week and confronted workers who have been peacefully occupying BP installations since May 23 to protest BP´s failure to conclude negotiations with the workers and community. [READ THE REST]

Workers at BP PLC (BP) operations in Colombia are striking and blocking the entrance of a natural-gas processing plant at the Cusiana field, located in the eastern Casanare province, union and company official said Friday. [READ THE REST]

Mac McClelland on GritTV: BP Blocking Workers from Wearing Respirators

During an interview with GritTV’s Laura Flanders, our featured author in March, Mac McClelland, reports on BP’s fascist lockout of the press. McClelland, a human rights reporter forMother Jones magazine, was trying to report from the Gulf Coast on the local consequences, but BP locked her out. “It’s a public beach,” she said. “But it’s BP’s oil,” she was told. [WATCH THE VIDEO]

India: villagers clash with police over Orissa steel project

Two peasant protesters were injured in a police charge while blocking the entry of survey teams for an industrial project into Nuagaon village in Jagatsinghpur district of India’s Orissa state on June 2. The violence came five days after talks opened between the state government and local residents opposed to a proposed steel plant to be built by South Korean major Posco. Hundreds of villagers blocking a road at Balitutha were similarly charged by police on May 15, leaving several injured. (The Telegraph, Calcutta, Kalinga Times, Odisha, June 2; Sanhati, May 19)

ANALYSIS

What is capital?

Karl Marx, Capital:

The circulation of commodities is the starting-point of capital.

Capital is not so much a thing, money, as it is a process in which money is converted into more money through an exchange of commodities. So “capitalism” is a system of capital accumulation that is based on widespread commodity production and exchange.

A commodity, for our purposes here, is any commercial product. [READ THE REST]

The Eurozone Crisis

The Eurozone seems to have temporarily averted a serious sovereign debt crisis in its periphery. This sovereign debt crisis had the potential to quickly spread from Greece to Portugal, Spain and possibly even wider afield while morphing into a full-blown banking and financial crisis – with a nearly 750 billion euro bail-out plan [1]. The plan requires European governments to commit about 500 billion euros for emergency loans through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), the IMF to promise another 250 billion euros if the need arises, countries receiving emergency loans to agree to harsh “austerity measures” and the European Central Bank to agree to purchase bonds of member countries. With the real fear of contagion spreading across the Atlantic, the US Federal Reserve has reopened swap lines to provide dollar funding to European banks, again, if needed. [READ THE REST]

Do 600 Million Cellphone Accounts Make India a Rich Country?

Speaking at a meeting in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) organized by the NSUI, the student wing of the Congress Party, the home minister of India, Mr. P. Chidambaram, shared, among other things, his remarkable understanding about poverty and inequality in India. If there are 60 crores (1 crore=10 millions) wireless subscription accounts in India today, he asked, how can we square that with the oft-quoted figure that 77 per cent of Indians spend Rs. 20 a day or less (i.e., about Rs. 600 per month)? [READ THE REST]

W(h)ither the Dollar?

For more than half a century, the dollar was both a symbol and an instrument of U.S. economic and military power. At the height of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, the dollar served as a safe haven for investors, and demand for U.S. Treasury bonds (“Treasuries”) spiked. More recently, the United States has faced a vacillating dollar, calls to replace the greenback as the global reserve currency, and an international consensus that it should save more and spend less.

At first glance, circumstances seem to give reason for concern. The U.S. budget deficit is over 10% of GDP. China has begun a long-anticipated move away from Treasuries, threatening to make U.S. government borrowing more expensive. And the adoption of austerity measures in Greece—with a budget deficit barely 3% higher than the United States—hovers as a reminder that the bond market can enforce wage cuts and pension freezes on developed as well as developing countries. [READ THE REST]

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