In the Loop and out of the Bubble

In the Loop and out of the Bubble is a series I’ll bring out whenever I feel like I’m overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I don’t know about the world. I’ll pick a few big news stories, try to summarize them as best I can, and provide links to a few useful resources. I’ll be the shorthand-delivery Wikipedia. Enjoy!


The BP Oil spill

Image source

What happened:

On April 20th an oil-rig off the Gulf Coast of the United States suffered a massive failure and subsequent crippling explosions. The failure was caused by a damaged gasket that couldn’t hold down the pressure of the gas and oil allowing back flow that caused the explosions in the main generators of the rig. 11 people were killed, and the disaster caused and is causing thousands of barrels of oil a day to jet into the Gulf.

The players:

British Petroleum (BP) – They own the drilling rights and are the company at the top of the profit and authority ladder. They contracted a company called Transocean to drill the well. BP is the 3rd largest energy company and 4th largest company in the world.

TransOcean (TO) – The contractor working for BP while the disaster happened.

The Federal Government of the United States: The Obama administration has been attempting to compile teams of scientists to try to figure out how to stop the dangerous flow of oil. Also they were involved in the law enforcement since the disaster due to the possibility of terrorism being the cause of the disaster.

The Problems:

There have been several reports of widespread negligence, corner-cutting and miscommunication throughout BP.

Image source

Apparently hundreds of engineering documents required to be screened and approved before underwater operations could commence went unchecked. This is true of the Gulf spill, and at least one other rig owned by BP. The faulty gasket seems to be the crux of the debacle as both BP and TO are skirting blame. The most compelling information comes from a man who survived the blast and did an interview for 60 minutes. He had an inside view of what happened and how.

60 minutes interview

Recent news:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126886059 – modest improvement

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/05/first-underwater-images-of-bp-oil-spill-wont-show-video.php – first images

(Keep up with the Daily Show and the Colbert Report to also get the latest)

What’s happening in Thailand

Image source

What’s happening:

(Via CNN.com) Thaksin Shinawatra was the Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001-2006. In 2006 he was removed in a “bloodless” coup. The Red Shirt protestors that you may have heard of by now, support Shinawatra. Shinawatra stayed active in Thai politics which is why he is afforded the support he feels now. the current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva  has been embroiled in scandal and accused of taking an illegal donation of $8m dollars from a private company (this accusation is still under investigation). This of course did not go over well with those in support of Shinawatra or a democratic government in general. On April 10th the red Shirts stormed parliament after the current Prime Minister declared a state of emergency in lieu of the increased tension with opposition protesters.   Since then the protests and violence has escalated costing several dozen lives.

The players:

The Yellow Shirts – They were among the first to protest the current political climate with the large-scale protest that closed Thai airports. The Yellow shirts were in support of the original ruling of Thailand and the Yellow was in honour of the colour of Monday, the day on which the king was born.

The Red Shirts – They chose red to differentiate themselves from the Yellow shirts. These protesters are in opposition to the current elected government. They stormed the parliament on April 10th and have been the major force in the clashes raging through out Bangkok.

The Multi-coloured shirts – These protesters dawning different colour shirts are in opposition to all the clashes and unrest. They have clashed with Red Shirts recently and are calling for the government to quell the civil unrest.

The Problems:

Where to begin? The incumbent government is attempting to stave off an investigation related to illegal election contributions, there is civil unrest that some say is bringing the country to a possible civil war (this claim needs to be taken with a grain of salt however), and the more attention the country gets the more things seem to escalate.To add to the tension the Red Shirt leader was recently shot critically wounded. The military denies shooting the protest leader, but this hasn’t convinced the opposition.

Useful links:

http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/thailand – General info about the protests

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/BUSINESS/05/14/battle.bangkok.economy/index.html – the protest and the Thai economy

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/04/25/thailand.protests/index.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/05/13/thailand.anti-government.protests/index.html?hpt=T1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/7724262/In-pictures-Thailand-protests-turn-deadly-as-troops-clash-with-Red-Shirts-in-Bangkok.html – Pics from the protests

Image source

Without being there and knowing more about the situation, we can only see things through the lens of the media at hand. People have died and things are serious, but maybe it’s not as bad as we think. Or perhaps it’s worse. One thing to appreciate is that it’s worth following. Keep an eye on this one.

Please comment with any more info or corrections!

GRG

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~ by humanmoves on May 18, 2010.

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