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SeizeBP.org: The “Seize BP” Demand, Pres. Obama’s Response & the truth about the $20 billion fund

Seize BP!

Seize BP!

Community Forum:

The “Seize BP” Demand, Pres. Obama’s Response
& the truth about the $20 billion fund

Friday, June 18 at 7:00pm
Justice Center: 617 Florida Ave. NW
(between 6th St. and Georgia Ave./7th St., green line to Shaw-Howard)

Featured guest speaker: Attorney, Carl Messineo

Noted civil rights attorney and Seize BP spokesperson Carl Messineo will analyze the political, legal and economic consequences of the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including the recent announcement of a $20 billion fund to compensate the victims.

This special forum offers a unique opportunity to hear a penetrating analysis of the deeper issues hidden beneath the headlines and the public relations propaganda of BP and the federal government.

Messineo and the Seize BP movement present the case for the continuation and expansion of a mass grassroots movement for justice against BP, Big Oil and a government policy that has put corporate super-profits before the needs of working families and the environment.

Bring your questions and comments. Join the discussion and get involved!

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948

Community Forum: The “Seize BP” Demand & Pres. Obama’s Response
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Community Forum

Kindra Arneson drills lawmakers
Kindra Arneson, the wife of a Gulf Coast fisherman, nearly
cries as she grills government officials about the use of
dispersants over an oil spill created by the collapse of the
Deepwater Horizon drilling platform on April 20.

The “Seize BP” Demand & Pres. Obama’s Response

Featured guest speaker:
Attorney, Carl Messineo

Friday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m.

Justice Center
617 Florida Ave. NW
Shaw/Howard University Metro
yellow/green line

Noted civil rights attorney and Seize BP spokesperson Carl Messineo will analyze the political, legal and economic consequences of the Obama Administration’s response to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

This special forum offers a unique opportunity to hear a penetrating analysis of the deeper issues hidden beneath the headlines and the public relations propaganda of BP and the federal government.

Messineo and the Seize BP movement present the case for the expansion of a mass grassroots movement for justice against BP, Big Oil and a government policy that has put corporate super-profits before the needs of working families and the environment.

Bring your questions and comments. Join the discussion and get involved!

Sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation

Gulf of Mexico Deja Vu
June 16, 2010, 9:36 am
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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


A message from Seize BP about the Obama administration’s new position on BP
June 14, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,
Seize BP!

Seize BP!

A message from Seize BP about
the Obama administration’s new position on BP

The Obama administration has just announced a major shift in its handling of BP and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

For six weeks the Obama administration just said NO to the growing nationwide chorus of public opinion demanding that the government seize BP’s assets in an amount commensurate with the damage caused by their criminal negligence, and that the funds be placed into a trust that could quickly and easily pay for damages and compensation now and into the future as more damages accrue.

Directly on the heels of Seize BP’s demonstrations taking place in more than 50 cities — with more demonstrations occurring every day — officials from the administration are now announcing a “new” approach to BP: President Obama has given BP an ultimatum to create an escrow fund administered by an independent body for the payment of claims and damages or the White House will invoke its legal authority to create such an escrow account from BP’s assets. He plans to address the country in a nationwide television address Tuesday night and meet with BP executives at the White House on Wednesday.

But what is the reality undergirding the Obama administration’s announcement? It may appear that the administration is now close to the demand of seizure of assets for an escrow account unless BP commits to the establishment of such an escrow account on its own accord. There are several key factors:

  1. The administration’s 55 days of coddling BP has become unsustainable from a political and public relations standpoint. The government has revealed itself as a subservient appendage to corporate interests. Now they are going out of their way to present a different image.
  2. In recent days, Florida and Louisiana have both made demands on BP that funds be escrowed as a down payment to cover initial damages, totaling $7.5 billion. BP says that it only has $6.8 billion in cash and cash equivalents available. BP itself is reassuring its investors that the damages in the Gulf that BP will have to pay will not exceed $3 billion to $6 billion. It needs to be understood that it is not a lowball estimate of the scope of the damage but a statement of intent, of just how little BP intends to pay. BP is reported to have called its large U.S. stockholders — J.P. Morgan Chase controls deposits and services for 30 percent of BP’s U.S. stock — to pressure the administration. The administration’s plan for an escrow account may be seen like a get-tough-against-BP policy but still be designed to further protect BP. The telltale indicator will be the amount of BP assets set aside for the escrow fund.
  3. The anger of the people is spreading around the country especially as estimates of the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf are growing exponentially. To be more precise, what is changing is the weakening of the corporate and political cover-up of actual spill volume. Substantial amounts of oil being funneled to the surface by BP from its new cap are not being processed by BP’s on-site tanker because it lacks capacity, so the oil is being dumped back into the Gulf. BP says it can’t get more tankers to the area until July. The relief well planned for August may not even work then.
  4. At the same time, President Obama held what was reported as a “warm and constructive” phone call with the British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday in which he recognized that BP “is a multinational company” and reassured Cameron that he did not want to undermine BP’s value. Obama had been hoping that BP would suspend its upcoming shareholder dividend (estimated at more than $10 billion annually), but BP has vacillated publicly on whether it intends to do so. The administration is worried that BP might not do enough to placate the public and that the dire necessity of the situation, as evidenced by Louisiana’s and Florida’s independent demands, will overtake the administration’s attempts to appear in control of the problem.

Seize BP’s position on the Obama administration’s New Approach Toward BP’s Assets

While it is clear that the Obama administration has undertaken what appears to be a dramatic shift in its handling of one part of the crisis, there are two central issues that will indicate whether it is just another sham public relations offensive or something that will make a real difference for the suffering people and communities in the Gulf states: (1) The size or amount of the escrow fund taken from BP’s assets (the real costs are likely to be in the tens of billions of dollars) and (2) that the “real people” of the affected communities, and not corporate and banking representatives or Wall Street lawyers, be selected to be the trustees of the fund.

Seize BP, since it inaugurated the demand to create a trust from seized BP assets, has demanded “that a trust established with the funds seized from BP should be administered by the people from the harmed area. The trustees should include representatives of the fishers, shrimpers, crabbers, unions, small business people and workers in the tourism and recreation industry, local elected officials, clergy, and independent scientists and environmentalists.”

Seize BP will continue to organize demonstrations, rallies, press conferences and banner drops, collect tens of thousands more petitions, and engage in the kind of mass grassroots organizing that can, as it already has, shift the political climate in a way no politician can fail to ignore.

Spread the word. Tell your friends to sign up at SeizeBP.org.

A message from Seize BP
Seize BP!

Seize BP!

By Carl Messineo
A message from Seize BP http://seizebp.org

There are three roads, or options, by which compensation can be provided for those who have been harmed from the BP oil disaster.

The first path, or option, is the BP claims process whereby BP determines what to cover and how much to pay. On this road all power rests with BP.

The second path is through the courts, where people can file litigation and lawsuits against BP. The burden of proof lies with the harmed individuals, who must employ lawyers and then battle BP’s army of attorneys for years, possibly decades.

Both BP and the Obama administration want to push everyone seeking compensation down these two paths, but these two paths lead nowhere.

There is, however, a third option: the seizure of BP’s assets in an amount commensurate with estimated damages and the delivery of immediate and ongoing compensation to all those who have suffered and will suffer lost jobs, wages and business for years to come.

People around the country are mobilizing for the third option.

The case for freezing and seizing BP’s assets

For those who are directly affected by the BP oil spill, there is urgency for action. Every affected person and family should be able to go to sleep at night knowing, regardless of the final measure of spillage, regardless of the scope of environmental harm, that they will be taken care of financially, that they will be made whole. Not 20 years from now or in some distant future, with victims worn down and claims whittled away by an army of BP lawyers, as occurred with the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Compensation must be immediate. It must be ongoing. Make-whole relief will require enormous assets, amounting to tens of billions of dollars by all estimates.

The Seize BP demand is simple: Seize the assets of BP, place those assets in trust for the immediate and ongoing relief of those directly affected. Simplified and swift claims processes.

BP has no intention of paying tens of billions of dollars in costs and damages. Tony Hayward, responding to plummeting stock values, reassured the financial industry that BP can escape this disaster paying no more than $3 billion in costs and damages. His projection included all physical cleanup costs.

BP has every interest and intention of avoiding claims and damages. BP is a profit-maximizing corporation. It is not a creature of social beneficence. Like any profit-maximizer, BP has as its purpose the maximization of revenues while avoiding costs or expenditures.

BP is a profit predator that grows fat on the accumulation of mega-profits. BP lied about the volume of spillage, first denying any spillage, then conceding 1,000 barrels per day and ultimately low-balling the actual spillage volume by insisting that it is only 5,000 barrels per day.

BP simultaneously announces that its recent containment efforts have resulted in the collection of 15,000 barrels of oil per day. It’s a veritable miracle, apparently, that so much can be collected when so little is spilling. More to the point, BP is lying.

Yesterday, on June 9, BP’s chief operating officer told the Today show that there is “no evidence” of plumes of toxic oil beneath the surface. It just disappeared, never mind the scientific and government confirmation by research vessels that massive plumes not only exist but are on the move, placing coastlines at risk even up the Atlantic Seaboard. BP is, to say the least, self-interested and untrustworthy.

Yet, President Obama supports the system whereby victims’ claims are processed by BP. Victims of BP’s environmental violence and economic dislocation must first ask BP to please pay them something. BP is sole determiner of what claims are “legitimate,” determines the compensation level if any is to be allowed, and does not have to make any ongoing commitment to continued payments. If victims are dissatisfied, they can go to court.

The BP-based model of compensation, unsurprisingly, has resulted in widespread dissatisfaction. It is so unwieldy that the governor of Alabama has mobilized the National Guard to provide assistance to victims in filling out forms.

Even with assistance, the forms go to BP.

The second model of compensation is court based. But the court system is in no way set up to provide timely and sufficient compensation. The legal process takes years, potentially decades. People need relief today. An army of corporate lawyers will use the judicial requirements of proof and process and will assert theories of liability limitation to delay and whittle away claims to next to nothing.

The problem with going to the courts is that it turns the entire process of proof and responsibility upside down. In court, the burden of proof is on the claimant, when we all recognize that the burden of fault and responsibility is on BP, as well as Halliburton and Transocean.

It is not fair to demand that a small business owner who cannot feed his or her family or continue operations hire an attorney for a decade or so and engage an expert in forensic accounting to be able to “prove” that the current and future season’s revenues are off because of the economic disruption of BP’s oil spill.

The BP-centric model of payments and the court-centric model of litigation do not satisfy the public interest and certainly will not satisfy the immediate needs of those affected.

Only seizure will protect the interests of the people

The Seize BP demand is focused on relief to those affected. Relief today and for the future. Without extensive claims processes. Seize BP demands that the U.S. Congress with the support of the President enact legislation to seize assets of the responsible parties, and place those assets in trust for immediate compensation and relief.

The Seize BP demand is for seizure of assets to provide relief. The amount seized can be assessed by an agency determination, updated on an ongoing basis, of current known damage estimates. Because damages occur over time, asset seizure and set-aside can be done over time. Whether the seizure or assessment has the result of impairing BP’s operations depends, ultimately, on the damage it has caused. Given BP’s capitalization, assets and revenue-producing abilities, it is not a foregone conclusion that its operations would be dissolved or sold or even impaired.

There is no issue as to the legality of such a seizure. This is not a “taking.” It is not a punitive measure, even, although punitive measures and penalties are amply justified through independent processes. The amount to be seized is commensurate with the damage done. It is compensatory. It does not seek to nationalize or have the government assume operations of BP, actions which the Supreme Court countenanced could occur with Congressional approval in the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

The people who are suffering today, here and now deserve nothing less. They are not at fault. We know who the responsible parties are.

There is a crass reality underlying the urgency of this demand. If a trust is not established now, it will never be. The convergence of political demands for Congressional and Presidential action will never be greater than they are right now. A few months from now, a year from now, the attention of lawmakers will be elsewhere. The shocking graphic images of the environmental damage will be images to which the public will grow accustomed, and in which the media will lose interest. The pain and suffering for those affected will burn even worse, but the possibilities of political action and remedy will have long passed.

The time for action is now.