United States

“What the hell did we do to deserve this?”, BP CEO Tony Hayward asked fellow executives in the company’s London office, days after the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the April 29 New York Times said.

Eleven workers died in the explosion that has generated the US’s worst ever environmental disaster.

BP finally managed to place a cap over the well on July 15, although its status remains tenuous. Associated Press reported seepage detected from the cap on July 21.

The US Senate passed the much-ballyhooed financial reform bill this week to applause from an increasingly thin crowd of Obama administration supporters.

Most focused on the “something is better than nothing” features of the bill. But this could barely disguise the fact that the new regulations will do little to curb the activities of the mega-financial institutions at the centre of the economic crisis that ensued in 2008.

The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years.

“He had a choice”, said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad”. “Wow!” said the anchorwoman.

Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, teeth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by the war in Afghanistan, presented by a correspondent sweating in a flak jacket.

A jury voted on July 8 to convict a transit police officer who killed an unarmed 22-year-old African American man, Oscar Grant III, on an Oakland station platform 18 months ago. But the officer was convicted of the least serious possible manslaughter charge.

The verdict left Grant’s family and their supporters — and the community that Grant called home — bitter and angry.

A Washington DC court convicted a repeat-offender in May for a crime that could have seen him spend years in prison.

The offender was not a BP executive found guilty of criminal negligence over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Nor was it any other environmental vandal.

It was climate change activist Ted Glick.

His crime was to hang two banners off the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in September last year.

The financial reform legislation just passed by Congress was proclaimed by US President Barack Obama as “the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression”.

This is a kind of doublespeak. The entire thrust of financial reform in the decades since the 1930s has been toward financial deregulation. Being the toughest financial reform measure by that standard merely means that it didn’t give the house away.

How do wars begin? With a “master illusion”, according to Ralph McGehee, one of the CIA’s pioneers in “black propaganda”, known today as “news management”.

In 1983, he described to me how the CIA had faked an “incident” that became the “conclusive proof of North Vietnam’s aggression”.

This followed a claim, also fake, that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked a US warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.

When Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca and US assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela met at the start of June, it appeared that relations between the US and Bolivia were on the verge of being normalised following an 18-month diplomatic chill.

But hope for improved relations appeared to be dashed two weeks later when Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the US government-funded US Agency for International Development (USAID) of financing groups opposed to his government.

On June 1, part-Peruvian US actor and indigenous rights activist Q’orianka Kilcher was arrested for “disorderly conduct” after chaining herself to the White House fence while Peruvian President Alan Garcia met with US President Barack Obama.

Garcia refers to the Amazonian indigenous peoples of his country as barbaric savages. Kilcher had doused her body in black paint, symbolic of the oil killing the Amazon and its people.

On June 20, US group Act Now to Stop War and Racism (ANSWER) released a statement, abridged below, on the blockade of the docks in Oakland that prevented an Israeli ship unloading its goods as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targetting apartheid Israel.

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