What does BP’s oil spill fund have in common with “being in jail”? Escrow

You’re painfully aware of the deepwater oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that has produced the worst spill in U.S. history.

This week the company responsible, BP, apologized for the damage and agreed to set aside $20 billion in compensation funds to be put in escrow.

In a twist of language irony, escrow derives from an Old French word (spoken in the years 900 to 1400) meaning scrap, shred, and — most obviously — scroll. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this connects in Modern French to the verb écrouer, to lock up in jail, and to a noun that means ”entry of a name in a jail register.”

Outrage over the tragedy suggests that people might prefer a little less escrow from BP and a lot more écrouer.

So does this $20 billion escrow have anything in common with the process average people go through when they buy a house?

Escrow is a special agreement and fund managed by a third, independent party. This party finalizes the agreement only once all the terms and conditions of the deal are met. So, in the case of the oil spill, the fund will be overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, who managed the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He also has mediated cases as varied as an agent orange class-action lawsuit and a dispute over the value of the JFK assassination film.

Those of you who buy and sell items on eBay might use escrow. In this case, a third party holds onto a buyer’s money until the buyer approves a purchase. Escrow is also used sometimes when software programmers are selling source codes to clients.

But not all kinds of escrow are high stakes. Vending machines use a form of escrow. A customer’s money is kept in a separate area before a purchase is made. If the customer doesn’t follow through on the purchase, the money is returned. If a purchase is made, the customer’s money is deposited into the vending machine’s bank.

D.C. Sniper Shapshots of Death

AP Online October 11, 2002 | JERRY SCHWARTZ, AP National Writer 00-00-0000 There was nothing powerful about the sound. It was, an assistant store manager says, something like a lightbulb popping. And there was nothing cataclysmic about the damage _ just a small hole in the display window, about the size of a marble.

It was 5:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and an epic nightmare was beginning.

But no one knew it _ no one, that is, except the person who fired the rifle into a busy Michaels crafts store at the Northgate Plaza shopping center in Aspen Hill.

No one was injured or killed by the single rifle blast. But then the sniper’s aim turned deadly.

___ It is 6:04 p.m., 44 minutes after the shot pierced the store window. James D. Martin is in the parking lot of the Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton, a mile away from Michaels.

Martin, a 55-year-old program analyst for a federal department, has been shopping. But not for himself _ he is buying stuff for the kids at Shepherd Elementary School in Washington. People in his department at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations serve as mentors there, and Martin is devoted.

The lot is full _ cars are waiting in line for spaces _ but the report of the gun resounds over the sounds of idling engines. Across the street, officers at a district police station jump to their feet and out to the street, looking for the source.

But some shoppers are unaware. One walks by, assuming the figure on the ground is merely a motorist working under his car. When the officers find him, they perform CPR, but to no avail. Martin _ Civil War buff, ardent volunteer, father of an 11-year-old son _ is dead.

This alone is a peculiar thing for this community. Montgomery County is not to be confused with the neighboring District of Columbia. It is Maryland’s most affluent; “violent crime is not regarded as a serious problem,” says the county Web site.

___ At 7:41 a.m. Thursday, the sky is a brilliant blue. James L. “Sonny” Buchanan cuts the grass at the Fitzgerald Auto Mall on Rockville Pike in the county’s White Flint area.

Buchanan is a 39-year-old poet, a self-employed landscaper who likes to teach children about plants. He has moved to Virginia and a Christmas tree farm he owns with his father, but he still comes back to Maryland and mows the grass for the dealership, as he has for 10 years. see here fitzgerald auto mall

There’s a loud sound _ like a huge object hitting the ground, thinks body shop manager Gary Huss. Outside, Buchanan stumbles 200 feet into the lot and collapses, face forward.

A hundred dealership employees surround the bleeding man. They, too, react to murder with disbelief _ surely, the lawnmower exploded. When the ambulance arrives, about 10 minutes later, emergency workers find the hole in his chest left by the bullet.

Thirty-one minutes later, 54-year-old Prem Kumar Walekar fills the tank of his cab at the Mobil station on Aspen Hill Road in Rockville. He immigrated 30 years ago, and worked hard all his life to raise his two children, now in their 20s, to help his family back in India, and to bring his siblings to the United States.

He does not usually take to the road this early, but the day is beautiful, and he wants to finish early and enjoy the sunshine.

Police Cpl. Paul Kukucka is nearby, driving to the funeral of a fellow officer who died of a heart attack, when a woman runs toward him, her arms waving.

“This man has just been shot! He’s bleeding!” she shouts.

Kukucka runs to the pumps and finds Walekar, blood flowing from his chest, dying.

A little more than a mile away, in front of a post office in Silver Spring, a Salvadoran immigrant sits on a metal bench and reads. Sarah Ramos was a law student in her native country; now she is a 34-year- old housecleaner, waiting for her ride to work. The shot, like all the others, comes from nowhere. It passes through her head and into the Crisp & Juicy carryout restaurant behind her.

“She was sitting on the bench, just sitting there,” says a witness, Dolores Wallgren.

It is 8:37 a.m., and three people have died in the past 56 minutes.

___ With horrible and abrupt clarity, the police realize they are in the middle of a massacre.

The brass convenes at the Mobil station to plot their next move. They would send every officer available to patrol the area, ordering them to wear their bulletproof vests. Park police, state police, police from surrounding areas all are drawn into the maelstrom.

There is one clue: According to a witness to the Ramos shooting, two men in a white “box truck” with black lettering sped away from the scene. All across the area, police stop and search white delivery vans.

But they cannot protect Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25-year-old mother of a preschooler. She pulls her burgundy minivan up to a Kensington Shell station’s coin-operated vacuum, removes her daughter’s car seat and begins to clean her car.

At 9:58 a.m., a single bullet strikes her, knocking her to the ground.

Mechanic John Mistry is working nearby under the hood of a car when he hears the loud “crack.” An electrical short, he figures. But when he looks up, the lights are still on.

Mistry and fellow mechanic Jimmy Ajca run out of the garage to find Lewis-Rivera under her van door, blood trickling from her mouth.

Small bubbles dribble from her lips as she struggles for breath.

Nor can police protect Pascal Charlot. The 72-year-old handyman is gunned down while standing on Kalmia Road and Georgia Avenue in Washington, half a block from the border with Montgomery County.

It is 9:15 p.m. In a little more than 27 blood-soaked hours, six people have been killed _ each apparently with a single, .223-caliber bullet fired at long range, each for no apparent reason. site fitzgerald auto mall

___ On Friday, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose appeals for an end to the murders. “We implore him to surrender, stop this madness, ” he pleads.

But the shootings do not stop. Instead, they spread to other places.

At 2:30 p.m. Friday, a 43-year-old woman from Spotsylvania, Va., the mother of two young sons, is parked in front of the Michaels craft store in Fredericksburg, 50 miles south of Washington. She has made her purchases, and is loading her champagne-colored Toyota minivan.

The bullet hits her in the lower right side of her back, exits under her left breast and is embedded in the rear of the minivan. Miraculously, her vital organs are spared.

“She’s very lucky,” says Spotsylvania County sheriff’s Major Howard Smith.

She is the first to survive this rampage. Police will not give her name; there are fears that her safety is still in jeopardy.

On Saturday, nothing. On Sunday, nothing.

On Monday, a 13-year-old student at Benjamin Tasker Elementary School in Bowie, Md., changes his daily routine, and almost pays for it with his life.

Normally, he attends a prayer service at a neighbor’s house before taking the bus to school. But on this day, he skips the service, and his aunt drives him to school. As he walks to the front door, he crumples to the ground, shot once in the chest.

His aunt is a nurse. She scoops him up and drives him to the hospital. He survives.

And this time, the gunman leaves a message. A police search a wooded area 150 yards from the school turns up a .223-caliber shell casing and a tarot card _ the Death card.

On it, someone had written this:

“Dear policeman, I am God.” People are unnerved by a villain who seems to be everywhere, all powerful and invisible. Some keep their children out of school. Soccer and baseball leagues cancel their games, and outdoor recesses are put on hold.

Adults find themselves looking over their shoulders as they scurry about, nervously doing chores that once entailed no risk.

“You think you’re safe, but you’re only as safe as your next step, ” says Sharon Healy, whose son Brandon attends school at Tasker.

On Wednesday, Dean Harold Meyers stops at the Battlefield Sunoco station, seven miles south of Manassas, Va. He is 53, a project manager and design engineer from Gaithersburg, Md., who has worked for the same engineering firm for 20 years.

He finishes filling the tank. He prepares to return to his black Mazda. There is a shot. It is 8:15 p.m., and the body of Dean Meyers lies crumpled on the station’s concrete floor.

And then, a little more than 25 hours later, another death: a man, gunned down at yet another Virginia gas station. A witness across the street from the Exxon station on Route 1 in Fredericksburg says he heard a single shot, saw a white van nearby.

It all fits the pattern. But for now, authorities say, they cannot be certain that this was the latest victim of a self-elected God.

___ EDITOR’S NOTE _ Stephen Manning, David Dishneau, Gretchen Parker, Angela Potter and David Crary in Maryland and Adrienne Schwisow in Virginia contributed to this story.

JERRY SCHWARTZ, AP National Writer

D2 Rail

The Pantagraph Bloomington, IL December 17, 2006 Todays events BASKETBALL College women Eastern Michigan at Illinois State, 2:05 p.m.; Illinois Wesleyan vs. Blackburn at Millikin Tournament, 3 p.m.

TV/Radio Basketball 12:30 p.m. – Women: Tennessee at Texas – Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest 4 p.m. – Belmont at Illinois – WCIA (3), WAOE (59), WTRX-FM (93.7) 4:30 p.m. – Wake Forest at Virginia Tech – Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest 7 p.m. – Southern Illinois at Indiana – ESPN 7 p.m. – LSU at Oregon State – Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest Bowling Noon – PBA: Columbia 300 Classic – ESPN Football Noon – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears – FOX (43), (55), WJBC-AM (1230) Noon – Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers – CBS (3), (31) 3 p.m. – St. Louis Rams at Oakland Raiders – FOX (43), (55) 7:15 p.m. – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers – NBC (17), (25) Golf 2 p.m. – PGA: Target World Challenge, final round – ABC (15), (19), (20) Schedule and times are provided to the Pantagraph, which is not responsible for errors due to last-minute changes. foxsportsmidwest.org fox sports midwest

From Pages Past 5 years ago (2001) When Roger Powell walks into the Assembly Hall for the basketball matchup between Illinois and Illinois State, he will wear his red and white Illinois State jacket. His son, Roger Jr., is a freshman forward for the Illini but the elder Powell was a standout player at ISU in the 1970s. “ISU is still close to my heart,” he said.

15 years ago (1991): Junior forward Allison Young scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a rebound basket with nine seconds left, to lead Prairie Central to a 57-56 win over University High in the championship game of the U High Girls Basketball Tournament.

25 years ago (1981) With 51 students, Bellflower High School is the states smallest school with a basketball team but veteran coach Don Harden isnt complaining. Twenty of the schools 26 boys are playing basketball. He had a run of superb teams in the mid-1960s when the Dragons won five district crowns and had a record of 103- 26. in our site fox sports midwest

50 years ago (1956) Fullback Rick Casares ripped off 190 yards including a 68-yard touchdown run, powering the Chicago Bears to a 38- 21 victory over the Detroit Lions and the Western Division title in the National Football League.

From Pages Past compiled by Roger Cushman from Pantagraph files

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  1. ESCROW | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 18, 2010 - 7:51 am

    [...] “ESCROW” seems a favored word among the Banks and Lawyers. — Even knowledge is held in escrow such as an interview between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers — There’s some sort of protective custody when it comes to intrinsic value — with a guarantee it’s there to be unless someone makes a booboo. — BP made no mistake — somethings are accidents waiting to happen — To suck the earth of all it’s Blood — We still enjoy Shrink Rappin. — the hip hop stuff is a different language as are many a cultural difference — Back to BP and Halliburton their name is MUD the expression — ““Mud, a stupid twaddling fellow. ‘And his name is mud!” was quoted from John Bee Badcock — This is no joke to plug a hole and keep some oil in escrow. –>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme [...]

  2. Brandon shipero -  June 18, 2010 - 8:20 am

    this is stupid as hell your all grown men and women stop spending your time B itching about all of this. go work, go do something besides this damnit guys

  3. Fawn -  June 18, 2010 - 4:34 am

    jc–no one FORCED BP to drill anywhere. Citizens and environmentalists fought for regulations to prevent more heinous oil spills close to shore, as happened off Santa Barbara, CA in 1969, and has happened elsewhere.. (Nigerians are surprised that the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe should command front-page news. “The Niger Delta has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years.”

    Pollution from oil spills is a normal part of business. Scandinavians have figured out how to proactively require quick response measures for any drilling activity off their shores, and apparently they actually enforce regulations–as their fishing industry and its reputation relies on pristine waters. But rubber-stamp regulators under the Bush administration actively weakened standards, and basically “trusted” the industry to police itself. OIl-funded politicians in the Gulf states opened it up to the current disaster.

    And no, accidents are not always criminal. But getting behind the wheel of a car with a 1.2 BAC, and then causing an accident, is. BP decision-makers were drunk on greed when they repeatedly cut corners on the well.
    (see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/science/earth/15rig.html?scp=1&sq=internal%20email%20BP%20Deepwater%20Horizon&st=cse)

    BP CHOSE to use well casing that violated their own safety policies and design standards.
    BP CHOSE to skimp on the centralizers required to ensure the even flow of cement around the casing (using 6 instead to 21).
    BP then CHOSE to override doubts by Halliburton (the cement contractor) that the cement could adequately seal off gases.
    BP CHOSE to skip the step of circulating heavy mud through the well to prevent contamination of the cement.
    BP ignored their own engineers’ worries that the cement job was weak, and CHOSE to send home a testing crew without testing the quality of the cement.
    BP CHOSE to ignore warning signs that gas was bubbling into the well in the days leading up to the explosion.
    They repeatedly CHOSE to continue operations despite signs that the blowout preventer was faulty.
    BP also CHOSE not to use a lockdown sleeve” to ensure that the top seal would hold.

    The electronic paper trail is pretty damning. Criminal negligence, anyone? BP engineers and execs should be in jail, not just BP’s money in escrow.

    And btw–if they really ARE about “Beyond Petroleum,” as they like to claim, they should put their money where their mouth is. Had the world’s political and moneyed powers invested in renewables for the last 4 decades instead of in dead-end oil, we’d be running on wind, sun, and tides by now–no climate crisis!! You are right–”We’ve got to be smart in situations like this.” Not ostriches focused on short-term shareholder profit. Nor lemmings lining up to pump ever more dollars into Big Oil.

    Bless you Bedazz’elle; also wolfsbane7, sonja s., and tr. i myself keep needing to look/go outside, walk under trees, hear the birds, and breathe a prayer of thanks for the precious green earth that, as yet, sustains us. May we become more attentive stewards of the bounty with which we cohabitate.

  4. Jimmy -  June 18, 2010 - 1:04 am

    My point, “ban-all-idiots,” is that I’m sick of seeing this catastrophe unfold on the TV, with everyone from the bloke-in-the-street right up to the president apportioning blame before all the facts are know … and trying to pretend that the problem is somehow “British.” The best and most knowledgable people in the world are working flat-out on the problem, and there simply isn’t a “Quick fix”. For Obama, this is politically unfortunate, but one cannot politic one’s way around ocean physics – so he does the next-best-thing, which is to make a very great deal of (useless) noise about how it’s anybody’s fault but his. Comparing it with 9/11, for instance, is preposterous and no doubt sickening and insulting to the people of New York. People really need to get on with the job of trying to stop the leak and to clean the place up … anything else is just noise. Blame can be apportioned later. As for the $20bn fund – it’s all starting to look like an exceeding ugly (and typically American) money-grabbing exercise. The American-led banking disaster has done a great deal more damage to the lives of a far greater number of people than will suffer as a result of this oil leak … and yet you don’t see the rest of the world behaving in this childish, hypocritical and self-absorbed manner. We all need oil to run our economies, and explosions and leaks are an occupational hazard. Playing the blame-game is really not helping.

  5. Lauren -  June 17, 2010 - 2:01 pm

    HAHA Alex you must not have read the post… they explain how it connects in the etymology.

    This guy Kenneth Feinberg must make BANK. Handling huge escrow funds like that. He’s gotta be under the IRS microscope!

    Good topic and interesting info on ESCROW!

  6. ban-all-idiots -  June 17, 2010 - 1:45 pm

    The majorityu of you bloggers should go on a comedy show.

    -wolvesbane7@aol.com: I suppose you think the managers of BP could know that the spill was going to happen, rush of to the ocean rig, fix the problem??? Nup. Its not their fault. INSTEAD, BLAME THE ONE OR TWO WORKERS THAT DIDN’T FOLLOW SAFETY REGULATIONS, NOT THE BIGBOYS.

    -sonia: You have an excesive amout of undesireable gulibility. “Thos poor innocent animals. Boohoo” GO AND START A COURTCASE AGAINST SHARKS. THEY KILL SEALIFE TOO.

    -Meh: People died from the explosion, but I can’t see how the actual oil spill will affect us. Whatsmore, Count all the dearlovelysweet pelicans that have been affected by 2015 and then count all the rest of the pelicans in the world still flapping around unharmed. I think you’ll find that it would be a very very very very small percentage that have been affected.

    -Jimmy: Your point???

    -tr: You should be ashamed of yourself. Look at the natural cycle of earhs temperature over the last few million years. Guess!! It goes up and down in cycles every so many hundreds of years. In 200 years, the scientists will be worrying about “Global Cooling”. They Just need somthing to gabble about, so let them and don’t worry about them.

    -Garry: Are you a politition???

    -Karen: I agree. Shutup, stop complaining, fix the prob, and get on with life.

    -jc: 2tru. You have to be smart not idealistic.

    -Bedazz’elle: You pain. I thought the BooHooists had left this site after Karen and JC. Get a life and get the facts. Earth is over 70% water. It will take a lot of oil to contaminate a tiny fraction of that so stop worrying.

    -alex. Ferpectly right.

  7. AW -  June 17, 2010 - 1:33 pm

    This was not a direct consequence of environmentalists forcing drilling to take place in deep waters. It may have been a factor; but the main fault lies with the steps skipped in the drilling procedure. If said steps were not skipped, this would not have happened.

    If the drilling occurred in shallow waters, it would be way easier to clean up. But that doesn’t reconcile the fact that it was those on the oil rig’s fault that the well exploded into the terrible situation to which we now bear witness. They are to blame, and unfortunately some of them paid with their lives.

    All this is because of a reckless attitude. Mistakes were made that could have been avoided if money was not so greedily sought. But hey, a business is a business, and it’s no business of theirs to care about the environment or the people affected by their careless actions.

  8. alex -  June 17, 2010 - 12:25 pm

    >What does BP’s oil spill fund have in common with ‘being in jail’? Escrow

    the title is absolutely idiotic. wtf does jail has to do with escow???

  9. Bedazz'elle -  June 17, 2010 - 11:36 am

    This oil spill makes my gut wrench. Did we not learn our lesson with 1991 Exon Valdez? There is STILL oil floating from that spill!!! Think of the innocent wildlife, people’s livlihood , the effect the spill will have on global warming. Mother nature is telling us the earth can not tolerate any more ” abuse’!!! The thick crude oil that is spilling out gallon after gallon will have an effect on the ecosystem for YEARS! BP are liar’s and so is our own government! We are in desperate times people. Its a fact humans are destroying the beautiful earth. Go Green is not enough now. Go green education should of been implemented YEARS ago! Our water is polluted. Our air is polluted. Nothing is going to change. The earth is dying, we are murdering it! The time is near…….REVELATION MOTHER EARTH.

  10. jc -  June 17, 2010 - 10:25 am

    Karen’s right!

  11. jc -  June 17, 2010 - 10:23 am

    tr- you’ve got the imagination of a Monty Python character.

    sonia- you have more opinion than knowledge.

    Accidents are not necessarily crimes. This tragedy is a direct result of the environmentalists forcing the oil companies to drill in more difficult places. And if you think that we can survive our energy consumption without fossil fuels then how would our electrical grid survive the added drainage when at it’s current state blackouts are not uncommon in peak times. We’ve got to be smart in situations like this. Not idealists.

  12. Karen -  June 17, 2010 - 9:18 am

    Let’s just ground all planes, all buses and EVEN YOU when u have an accident. Absurdity is to STOP drilling. Those people contribute a lot to our economy…these are GOOD hardworking Americans who have tremendous work ethics and contribute much to the LOCAL restaurants, banks, stores, etc. They should NOT be punished for ONE accident where the compnay shirked the SAFETY responsibilities. The economy will suffer greatly when these people are PERMANENTLY without work.
    I say, LIFT the moratorium so I can see these 7 houses posted in the last week For Sale (in my neighborhood) come down and these people get their lives BACK. Everything and EVERYBODY suffers when there are no jobs. The Gulf area was MAINLY without heartache during this horrible American recession and now WE are suffering horribly. We need to stop blaming, get back to work, clean up and save the animals that we can. After we deal with this, then we can point fingers and fire the a$$holes who caused this and the idiots who faulted on their duties of responding.
    Let’s work together now to get people BACK to work.

  13. GARY ROBERTS -  June 17, 2010 - 8:04 am


  14. tr -  June 17, 2010 - 7:12 am

    Has anyone forgotten the global warming which is going to be put into hyper mode as result of this spill? The seas have been deluged with black crude oil, black absorbs heat, heat creates condensation, condensation rises and comes down as precipitation….need I say more? I think we are going to see explosive hurricanes and other inclement weather processes in an already delicate ecosystem. It makes me wonder what mother natures real temper is capable of.

  15. Jimmy -  June 17, 2010 - 6:25 am

    The company hasn’t been called “British Petroleum” for many years. It’s just BP. Furthermore, it is not the owner of the rig that exploded: that’s Transocean.

  16. Meh -  June 17, 2010 - 4:42 am

    This is something that will harm us for a lifetime, we obviously can’t mess around with it. Besides, those ritzy yachts that wolvesbane7 is talking about might just be floating atop murky water soon.

  17. sonia salazar -  June 17, 2010 - 2:53 am

    I agree with wolvesbane7. This is a real tragedy that mother nature and all the innocent animals in the waters and on the beaches have to deal with. We, the people, shuld stop oil drilling under water. Our earth is being destroyed and we, the people, are doing it. All the money that BP makes shuld b used to help clean up the mess and make the oceans and beaches a safer place for the animals that live there. Shame on the oil tycoons.

  18. wolvesbane7@aol.com -  June 17, 2010 - 1:19 am

    this is not a crime where the oil tycoons should get to keep drinking champagne on their yachts. this is a crime against mother nature and the entire U.S.


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