Monday, December 5, 2011

Book review: Vulture's Picnic

Prince William Sound. Southern Louisiana. The Gulf of Mexico. The Caspian Sea. Ecuador. Nigeria.

In his latest book, Vultures Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum, Pigs, Pirates and High Finance Carnivores, investigative journalist Greg Palast takes us on a frenzied world tour of the damage wreaked by the oil companies and financial speculators (or thieves, as the case may be).

From Houston to New Orleans to Alaska to Liberia to Switzerland, Mr. Palast does as Woodward and Bernstein were told to do in All the President's Men - follow the money.

What follows is a tale of how transnational capital has decimated the lives of the poor across the planet. The oil companies polluted the people and the environment and the vultures of high finance have swooped in and forced foreign governments to kowtow to the will of their corporate overseers. The result of his investigation will open your eyes and make you think twice about what you think you know.

You'll recall that after the Exxon Valdez ran aground that folks cut up their Exxon credit cards, dipped them in oil and mailed them back. My wife refuses to go to an Exxon station to this day. But guess who was really at fault for the disaster in Prince William Sound. Not Exxon. BP - you know the company that portrays itself as green as a hemp-wearing tree hugger - was in charge of the terminal at Valdez. BP was in charge of ensuring that the clean up equipment was there. But guess what? There was no clean up equipment. But, for the good of the Seven Sisters, Exxon bent over and grabbed its ankles.

After the Transocean disaster in the Gulf, it was BP's turn to grin and bear it. But the boys in green weren't the ones making the decisions out there. All of the sisters were supposed to have a plan in place just in case a deep water well went to hell - and, as you know by now, there was no plan.

But what you probably didn't know is that the Transocean disaster wasn't BP's first rodeo. Out in the Caspian Sea, BP used a nitrogen-concrete blend to seal a well and, let's just say that didn't work out so well. But we're sold the line that what happened out in the Gulf was an accident. Once, my friends, is an accident. Twice is a pattern.

And, if you have trouble staying awake late at night, just read the section on the backup diesel generators at nuclear plants around the world. Here's a hint... Mother Nature wasn't to blame for the meltdown at Fukushima.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You say folow the money.
Good point.
How come the author of vultures Picnic did not
follow the $$$& , $ 50 million handed over
to operative Grynberg by BP.
See what it set in motion:
Google another book review ; on Irregular times, on
the Palast book , snow job.
You are right on as to BP.
I lived in Alaska.
BP had several judges in nits pocket.
BP is tight with Dick Cheney.
Cheney flew over to London to BP events.
He placed on his Energy Panel BP operatives.
You are right on as to BP.
But, Palast never really followed all the money
which is sad.