Wednesday, 16 June 2010

More news from nowhere

The Deepwater Horizon spillage in the Gulf of Mexico continues to dominate the UK media, with President Obama having moved to suggest that the catastrophe will forevermore change the way people think about the environment.

In accordance with such significance, the US government has this week raised demands that BP ring-fence a sum of $20,000,000,000, in order to clean-up wildlife and compensate victims of the disaster. It has also been suggested that BP compensate workers on other offshore oil rigs, who have been made redundant by the Obama administration's six-month drilling moratorium. The US Treasury, with a debt in excess of $13,000,000,000,000, are refusing to rule-out the possibility of levying such demands against other foreign corporations, in efforts at regaining a handle on their own deficit obligations.

BP, their share-price now half what it was on the day of the explosion, have railed against such claims upon their culpability, and are said to be enlisting the services of the UK anti-Bullying Alliance. Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, left a press conference in tears having taken great pains to highlight that the Deepwater Horizon rig was jointly owned by BP alongside US firms, Halliburton, and the world's largest oil-rig contractor, Transocean. Hayward and the BP top brass are said to be losing hope of a Bhopal-style settlement, invoking the precedent of the 1984 disaster in Madyah Pradesh, India, where at least twenty thousand people lost their lives after an explosion at the factory of US chemicals company, Union Carbide. Compensation paid-out in lieu of the Bhopal disaster to-date represents approximately 32pence per fatality, an amount that BP said they were prepared to treble in compensation for the eleven lives lost in the initial blast upon Deepwater Horizon. Shareholders were thought to have been happy with the £10.56 proposed settlement.

Following the US administration's throwing-out of such an offer as 'deeply insensitive to the lives effected by the tragedy', market analysts have been moved to suggest that BP might curtail their own financial catastrophe by rebranding themselves as American Petroleum, or considering a sale of all operations to US operators, with both Chevron and Exxon rumoured to be interested. The Obama administration acknowledged that such an arrangement "may prove satisfactory".

Back in England, the coalition government have not remained silent concerning the future of one of the FTSEs much-vaunted, 'blue-chip' corporations. Prime Minister David Cameron released the following statement three and a half weeks after the first explosion.

"Whilst we recognise the massive damage being caused by incidents in the Gulf of Mexico, we must recognise the value of BP to the British economy, and recognise the need stand firmly behind this well-recognised company of ours. Whilst we recognise the value of BP to the British economy, we must also recognise the value of this country's special relationship with the United States, which has given many young British men and women the opportunity to see parts of the Middle-East and Hindu Kush that they could never have otherwise hoped to experience. Recognising both of these facts, I rest my case".

Returning from Afghanistan, new Tory Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, has caused insult to the government and people of Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, by suggesting that the country was reminiscent of the feudal age. Fox referred to Afghanistan as a "broken, medieval state from the thirteenth-century", comments which led Karzai to brand the remarks as evidence that Britain remains a "colonial, orientalist and racist country". Apologising for any offence caused, Fox revealed that his presence in Afghanistan formed part of a research trip on behalf of the new coalition government, the purpose being to investigate ways in which Britain could be strengthened in the model of a feudal state from the thirteenth century. With no offence intended, Fox stressed his great admiration for what Karzai, the Taliban and NATO forces are presiding over in Afghanistan, and looks-forward to the day that such a social model can be rolled-out by Westminster.

The future of the UK economy may well be illustrated by events currently unfolding in Greece. In the first good news to hit the beleaguered state for some time, Chinese delegates are this week present in Athens to sign export deals and contracts for infrastructure ownership. Although export of olive oil to China has been heralded as central to the deal, more telling seem to be the sale of rights to develop shopping-centres and airports in traditionally popular tourist destinations such as Crete. These concessions augment existing Chinese ownership of cargo management in the major shipping port of Piraeus, a contract rumoured to be worth approximately a billion Euros to the Greeks. Tory Chancellor, George Osborne, who presides over a budget deficit of 12% of GDP (the Greek budget deficit is only 9.3%), is said to be keeping a close eye on developments, and is rumoured to be considering an offer to the Chinese of as many amenities and services as they will buy, plus all the cheddar cheese they can eat.

In lighter news, and showing brave resistance to any talk of economic gloom, London is currently whispering about the prospect that the as-yet unbuilt olympic stadium may have to be demolised after the games have been completed. The 2012 Olympics, dubbed 'The Sustainable Games' are yet to find a new owner for the £525million stadium, a quandry that presents either the need for demolition, or taxpayer-funded upkeep of the stadium once its Olympic use is over. Although low-lying football team, Leyton Orient, have expressed an interest in taking-on the venue as their own stadium, Olympic organisers, who have always championed the "legacy of the games" in a deprived, East London district, envisage a venue that retains facilities for athletics events. Prime Minister Cameron hailed the half-billion pound uncertainty as resounding evidence that the British economy remained buoyant and the British taxpayer possessed of boundless wealth.

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