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President Obama Gets $20 Billion Escrow Fund From BP

The oil spill claims process may improve after the announcement today that BP will deposit $20 billion into an escrow fund to pay people who have been financially damaged by the Gulf oil spill. The establishment of the escrow fund was announced after BP’s Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO Tony Hayward, and other company executives met with President Obama and other administration officials. The White House blog gives an account of the meeting. We’ve got a more in-depth look at the BP oil spill escrow fund at

Oil Spill Pictures and the Media Blackout

BP’s media blockade, oil spill pictures, and the First Amendment – Has the First Amendment been repealed?

We’ve got a new post at on oil spill pictures and the media blackout. Unfortunately there is a very public record going back several weeks of BP’s efforts to prevent the media from photographing the wildlife affected by the oil spill. An even more unfortunate aspect of the blackout is that it has been enforced by the U.S. Coast guard, federal wildlife officials, and local sheriffs’ deputies, as well as BP contractors and employees. There are several examples of flagrant violations of First Amendment rights, and the sole beneficiary of the blockade is British Petroleum.  We’ve called on President Obama to tell government officials not to allow citizens (including the press) to be blocked from public property. On a more practical level, we’ve suggested that Gulf Coast residents do what Iranians did when faced with a media blackout of anti-government demonstrations: use Twitter and other social media to document the effects of the oil spill.

Here’s an example of the oil spill pictures that British Petroleum does not want you to see. After watching the video, there’s no question in my mind that BP has good reason to try to keep this off television and the Internet. The real question is whether we will allow them to succeed.

Go to to see oil spill pictures that BP doesn’t want you to see.

Using Social Media to Engage in the BP Oil Spill Discussion

Social media and the gulf oil spill

I’m writing this for people who may be interested in the use of social media to “cover” a disaster such as the Gulf oil spill. For those of you who tend to “bounce” from one website to another, here are links to the BP Oil News blog, BP Oil News Twitter feed, BP Oil News Facebook fan page, and BP Oil News Group discussed in this article.  Also, a warning: the next paragraph of this post contains a little personal history which some may find boring. For pure social media talk, skip to the third paragraph. [Read more…]

Federalize the Oil Spill Cleanup

Over at, we’ve published over 200 suggestions submitted by the public for plugging BP’s Gulf oil leak, or for reducing damage from the oil spill. Now I want to make a suggestion of my own. No, I don’t have an idea for plugging the hole. But I do think I have a common-sense suggestion for cleaning up the spill in a way that also minimizes economic losses to people and businesses on the Gulf coast. (Go to to read the rest of my suggestion for the Gulf oil spill cleanup.)

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