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The oil spill in the Gulf was the topic of an item posted yesterday, which cited the remarks of a man who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in the United States. I received further interesting comments from him today:
[There was an] oil spill in the Niger Delta in the years after high school when I worked with the Shell-BP Petroleum Development Co. Nigeria Ltd. So I was quite aware of the implications of the accident when it happened in the Gulf as I watched folks’ reaction escalate from day to day. It was interesting for me to observe how totally violated people here feel to a practice that is routine in the Niger Delta. There, the people’s environment have been ruined for generations. Folks cannot farm their lands or fish their waters and they breathe polluted air all their lives. When they complained they were killed or threatened by the government. Only the current government is trying to make good with the Delta communities, too little too late, after violent resistance.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”