07 January 2011


OIL VILLAINS. From Blunders Abounded Before Oil Spill, Panel Says, reported in today's NYTimes -- "The Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was an avoidable accident caused by a series of failures and blunders by the companies involved in drilling the well and the government regulators assigned to police them, the presidential panel named to study the accident has concluded. The companies -- BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, and several subcontractors working for them -- took a series of hazardous and time-saving steps without adequate consideration of the risks involved .... The panel also found that company officials had failed to consult with one another on critical decisions and that senior management had paid insufficient attention to the troubled well, which was being drilled a mile below the Gulf's surface. The commission warned that without major changes, another such accident was likely."

I suppose that such reports are a formal necessity in order to pursue legal sanctions and policy changes (ending all offshore drilling would be a nice start). But anyone who has been paying attention hardly needs this report to understand who the culprits are. This writer first identified them by name in comments posted barely a month after the April 20, 2010 disaster. Regular readers will know that deep concerns were expressed in this forum for several months before the accident, as well as after. If a humble writer in Missoula, MT, has access to such knowledge, so does everyone else on the planet. And yet the companies involved will continue to stonewall and finger-point at each other, and will continue to rake in obscene profits from hundreds of similar oil wells.

It will be months, perhaps years, before we understand the full impact of the spill on both deep sea and shoreline wildlife and habitat, not to mention the impact on human residents of the Gulf. It is critical that we not let this event fade from our awareness. Full restitution and criminal accountability are called for. You play, you pay.

MUSLIMS. Here's a short quiz to measure your understanding (or ignorance) of the Muslim world. Since many in the U.S. view all Muslims as enemies, and since one would be wise to know one's enemy, the feature 5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam may be an eye-opener. Be sure to scroll to both pages to see all five misconceptions, and the corresponding five reality checks.

2010. Finally, a hilarious animated short film, The Year That Wasn't, which lampoons a few of the painfully ridiculous topics on which we obsessed during the past year. Alas, we can anticipate more of the same in 2011 -- good news for late-night comedians, I suppose.

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