Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

BP to Reporter: “What are You Doing Here?”

Vodpod videos no longer available. Seems that BP is giving the press–and its workers–a hard time.

Despite BP’s recent statement that open access is allowed to the press (excepting security or safety concerns), reporters like Dan Harris, in the clip above, are continuously blocked in their efforts to cover the oil spill and its ramifications.

The trickle-down effect of BP officials not speaking to the press extends to the more than 20,000 workers cleaning up the beaches. Harris says that workers are reluctant to speak on camera because they have been told by BP not to do so. After all, who’s going to bite the hand that feeds you?

Workers use absorbent pads to clean oil from the Pelican Rookery near Grand Isle, La., on Thursday. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Still, some of BP’s workers are speaking out. George Jackson, a 53 year-old fisherman in Louisiana, took work for the BP clean-up after the company eliminated any hope for his fishing business. Not only has the disaster affected his livelihood, it has created health problems. Jackson told The Los Angeles Times:

As he was laying containment booms Sunday, he said, a dark substance floating on the water made his eyes burn.

“I ain’t never run on anything like this,” Jackson said. Within seconds, he said, his head started hurting and he became nauseated.

Like other cleanup workers, Jackson had attended a training class where he was told not to pick up oil-related waste. But he said he wasn’t provided with protective equipment and wore leather boots and regular clothes on his boat.

“They [BP officials] told us if we ran into oil, it wasn’t supposed to bother us,” Jackson said. “As far as gloves, no, we haven’t been wearing any gloves.”

Commercial fisher-woman Diane Wilson of Seadrift, Texas, pours a jar of syrup made to look like oil over herself as a police officer drags her from a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing yesterday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Seems that BP’s efforts to contain the bad publicity are failing. In addition to the press and workers talking, activists like commercial fisherwoman Diane Wilson are speaking out. Wilson interrupted a Senate hearing in which Senator Lisa Murkowski sought to limit BP’s liability. Murkoswki has been in bed with the big oil companies nearly $150,000 in campaign funds from the oil industry.

Wilson doused herself in fake oil at the beginning of the session to express her outrage over BP support on Capitol Hill. A powerful action that received lots of media attention and continues the public pressure on BP to act more responsibly.

Filed under: environmentalism, labor, media, oil spill, , , , , , , , , , ,

Voice of a Chinese Dissident

Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei reminds us how we often take our civil liberties for granted. Interviewed on Christiane Amanpour’s new show, he speaks eloquently about government oppression in his native China. A reminder that whether you’re sharing a quick 140-character Tweet, an innocuous blog post (like this one), or Googling your name on the Internet, folks in highly-censored nations like China don’t share this same freedom.

In fact, Google recently announced that it was moving its Chinese headquarters to Hong Kong in the face of continuing government censorship. Even corporations are choosing free expression over profit.

How exactly does the nation’s Communist government interfere in private lives?

“On one hand, the Prime Minister will recite my father’s poetry,” Weiwei says. “On the other hand, the police will follow me.”

Though he designed the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympics, he still suffered brutality and physical injury for his outspoken beliefs. According to CNN:

Ai has paid a heavy price for his dissent. He says he was beaten in a hotel room by Chinese police and later needed emergency brain surgery for injuries he suffered in the assault.

In this clip from Amanpour’s interview, Weiwei appears fearless in his public statements. There’s not a hint of trepidation or anger in his voice. Makes me wonder: If faced with the same oppression, would I be able to calmly defy the government’s wishes and speak truth to power?

Filed under: censorship, technology, , , , , , , , , , ,

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BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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