Overview: More than 200 million gallons of oil surged into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. To combat the worst environmental disaster in American history, BP and the Coast Guard dumped nearly 2 million gallons of a chemical dispersant called Corexit into the Gulf. But instead of helping clean up the spill, Corexit made things worse. The seafood industry is decimated, and clean-up workers have developed debilitating respiratory and central nervous-system problems, along with skin rashes. Scientific studies have proven that Corexit exposure kills cells in the human airway, and makes oil 52 times more toxic to the environment. Four years later, mass quantities of oil still wash ashore, and our government has done nothing to ban this dangerous chemical dispersant. VICE went to Louisiana to report on the lasting effects of the BP oil spill.
Yemen, the fractured state in the Arabian Peninsula, is at the top of the worry list for President Obama’s national security team, and the rise of Al Qaeda there is only half the reason why. The Yemeni government, an American ally, has lost so much control over the years that many U.S. officials consider Yemen a failed state, declaring it the “next Afghanistan.” The real trouble is a current threat posed by the little-known Houthi rebel movement in the north of the country – a grassroots army, allegedly funded by Iran that has never granted access to any other Western film crew before. Ben Anderson went deep into Houthi-controlled territory to learn about the group that’s fighting, and beating, Al Qaeda in the east, Saudi Arabia in the north, and Yemen’s central government in the south.
Expectations: Leave it to VICE. It is capable of reminding you of something almost forgotten and shedding light on something you never thought you should pay attention to at all. It is because of that I am expecting yet another great installment.
You know, the news media controls what we hold in our consciousness and for how long, right? It told us when it was time to move on from 9/11, Malaysia Flight mh370 and any number of storms and natural calamities. When we stop hearing about it on the nightly news, because they have moved on, it forces us to move on as well. Such is the case with the BP spill of 2010. But, just because the media moves off the topic it doesn’t mean we should forget about the problem. VICE takes us back to the Gulf of Mexico and I am glad they do. I am looking forward to learning of the consequences we are paying for to this day, apparently with our lives.
I know squat about Yemen and I am sure you know just as much as I do. But it is a top concern for our government. I like the whole notion of wrapping our mind around how this rebel army can hold three fronts and raise such a fuss. Is what is happening in Yemen something really worth paying attention to? I expect a solid answer that will forever keep my attention from now on. I also love VICE for allowing me to do that too.
Gut Reaction: I love this title – Crude Awakening, which was reported by VICE co-founder Shane Smith.
The report quickly recalls the incident and the mobility to action that was taken. But, it quickly turns to the aftermath and the destructive remnants that linger along the Gulf coast well beyond 2010. At first, my gut reaction was one of anger because BP’s actions were less then admirable. One statement really was the linchpin to the anger wanting to explode. It was stated twice in the piece, by two different people, and that statement hit home. It was the declaration that if “the oil was out of sight, then it was out of mind.” If the oil company could, via dispersants, sink the oil to the bottom where no one could see it then the world could get the false sense that the oil was all cleaned up. But, that ideal bit everyone but BP in the ass. The ill effects of the toxic cocktail made up of oil and Corexit still plagues the region.
By the piece’s end, however, my focus changed somewhat. My anger was as hard to disperse as the oil, but another feeling crept in. A bit of sympathy surfaced. Come on, BP may not have said or done the right thing in the end, but this was a major chemical disaster. What were they supposed to do; they had to try something. Did they add to the mix an unsafe and dangerous chemical to combat the problem? Yes, they did, but how else were they even to attempt to clean up the slippery mess? I think they implemented the best approach they could. Did they know the consequences of their actions before and as they carried out the plans? Yes, I’d say so and, sometimes, we just have to deal with the consequences. Should have any and all been warned of the consequences? Yes, and with that the anger reminds us it is still around. Simply, there is no easy solution to this type of devastation. All that we can do is hope that we learn from our mistakes. Corexit is not the best solution apparently, but what is? This action was better than no action and I just have to believe that.
The second installment offers another great title. The Enemy of My Enemy reported by correspondent Ben Anderson.
Who would have thought of Yemen as a powder keg? Who would have thought that VICE could send someone into the heart of the issues there? Who better than Ben Anderson to do it? I like the discipline and demeanor that he delivers in his segments. He places himself in a volatile arena and needs execute his train of thought and questions quick and get out. He did that here to great effect. Like in the previous piece Anderson too made a statement that lingers about it is good to know “the enemy of your enemy.”
It is short of incredible that the Houthi rebels can hold the fort, as it were, on three fronts. They are taking on the local government, a neighboring country and the local thugs! Now, it is not a good idea for the Yemeni people and clearly a thorn in the side for Saudia Arabia, but hey, if they got the gumption and the fortitude to stick it to Al Qaeda who are we to stop them? I get that they are a faction not to be trusted, but it can’t hurt to exploit our commonality we share for a common enemy.
That relationship seems quite hopeless, I mean, come on, children chatting “death to America” doesn’t make it sound like the ideal situation we need to be walking into. Though I think it totally cool that Ben Anderson got in and out of there with this segment. I am looking forward to further insight via his Debrief.
In Conclusion: I must admit I was left with lasting feelings from this piece a couple of days out. I can still hear the chants of the Houthi children echoing in my thoughts. Now I know that there are countries who do not like the U. S. and that the chance of them hurting us on our home soil is slim, but there is still something a bit haunting when you have young children chanting out their hatred for you and declaring your quick and just death. I have also been stewing over the whole Deepwater Horizon spill of four years ago. I go round and round on it. If the actions taken were not the right solution, due to the health risks involved, then what would have been the right one? In the end, I can really only conclude that a thank you to VICE and its correspondents is in order. Thank you for stimulating my thoughts once again on issues almost forgotten and for new issues revealed.
I know for most of you GAME OF THRONES is the extent of your excitement. Hell, you are probably not reading this post anyway. To me the stories from our own world are far more exciting as VICE proves. It is not too late to catch episode 9 and all of VICE and get onboard. Find it on HBOGo. Now let’s head to our concluding clips of the week.
Here is Shane Smith’s Debrief. Is he debriefing himself?
Walk away with these three thoughts: the locals are not eating what they harvest, what does that tell you? The rest of the country is not talking about this continued problem and so this history is doomed to repeat itself; and lastly, there were alternative recommendations on how to handle the oil spill (I am going to have to research that for my own curiosity) and they were ignored meaning that this history is doomed to repeat itself.
Here is Ben Anderson and his Debrief.
Okay, so your piece builds this up as a threat and then Anderson sort of negates all that here. The chanting I found scary is not so bad, but yet VICE seemed to build it up as such in the piece and the threats to us and the world, though maybe a long-term goal seems not able to happen. It is all quite interesting. As equally interesting is the Preview for episode 10. With some many thoughts swirling around it is easiest to just offer that final clip and call it a day. Peace.