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the oil spill is beginning to seem like the toxic ink that is being spewed by a giant octopus that once had its tentacles into everything and was sucking the life blood out of the planet but has been dealt a fatal blow and its death throes  is doing this final vindictive act of defilement, taking down as much other life that it can down  with it. The latest effort to plug the leak has not increased it by 20%, but only 4 or 5,  U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu assures us. BP says it is capturing 15,000 barrels a day, which it hopes to up to 40,000-53,000 by the end of the month, to 60,000-80,000 by mid-July. Then, rest assured,  in August the relief well will be finished and the flow will stop altogether. So how much is the flow ? BP has backed off 5,000 barrels a day. Now it seems to be admitting it’s at least 80,000, unless it’s getting bigger. This is why I don’t put much stock in numbers, even scientist’s ones, which often prove to be way off a year or two later. The figures are figurative, as I remarked years ago in African Madness.

In a rare moment of dark humor, the chairman of the congressional Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Ed Markey, opened one of its hearings on the long-term impacts of the spill thus :

“In preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today. What we found was that these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment. In some cases, they use the exact same words. We found that all of these companies, not just BP, made the exact same assurances.”

Like BP, Mr. Markey said, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for three million years.

“Two other plans are such dead ringers for BP’s that they list a phone number for the same long-dead expert,” he said.

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