ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Oil

Mercs, R2, Blackwater And The UAE.

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This is an informative article on a successor to that terrible company, Blackwater.

R2, a creation of Erik Prince, are essentially upmarket mercenaries, who will work for anyone with money and are finalising a deal with the UAE, according to the Nation:

“Erik Prince did leave the US, but he isn’t teaching high school and is certainly not out of the mercenary business. In fact, far from emerging as a neo-Indiana Jones, the antithesis of a mercenary, Prince is more like Belloq, offering his services to the highest bidder. Over the weekend, The New York Times revealed that Prince was leading an effort to build an army of mercenaries, 800 strong—including scores from Colombia—in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. They would be trained by US, European and South African Special Forces veterans. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, also known as R2, was bankrolled to the tune of $529 million from “the oil-soaked sheikdom,” according to the Times, adding that Prince was “hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi” Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Erik Prince is not mentioned by name in corporate documents outlining the deal, but is instead referred to as “Kingfish.”

The contract between R2 and the UAE kicked in last June and is slated to run through May 2015. According to corporate documents on the private army Prince is building in the UAE, its potential roles include “crowd-control operations,” defending oil pipelines from potential terrorist attacks and special operations missions inside and outside the UAE “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.” Other sources said the Emiratis wanted to potentially use the force to quell potential rebellions in the country’s massive labor camps that house the Filipinos, Pakistanis and other imported laborers that fuel the country’s work force. Prince also has plans to build a massive training base, modeled after the 7,000 acre private military base Blackwater built in Moyock, North Carolina.

When Prince moved to the UAE last summer, he said he chose Abu Dhabi because of its “great proximity to potential opportunities across the entire Middle East, and great logistics,” adding that it has “a friendly business climate, low to no taxes, free trade and no out of control trial lawyers or labor unions. It’s pro-business and opportunity.”

The timing of Prince’s move was auspicious to say the least. It came just month after five of Prince’s top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince’s longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy, and Prince’s former legal counsel, Andrew Howell. The UAE does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. “If Prince were not living in the US, it would be far more complicated for US prosecutors to commence an action against him,” said Scott Horton, a Columbia University Law lecturer and international law expert who has long tracked Blackwater. “There is a long history of people thwarting prosecutors simply by living overseas.”

Not good.

Written by modernityblog

16/05/2011 at 23:08

Dolphins, Whales And Kangaroos.

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I should probably cover more environmental matters, as way of recompense, I thought my readers might like this, someone has developed toothpaste for kangaroos:

[H/T:Jennifer Lipman]

Elsewhere the news is not so good, it seems that dolphins and whales may have suffered more from BP’s negligence than was first thought, Mother Jones has more:

“Consider, for example, one sperm whale being detected as a carcass, and a necropsy identified oiling as a contributing factor in the whale’s death. If the carcass-detection rate for sperm whales is 3.4%, then it is plausible that 29 sperm whale deaths represents the best estimate of total mortality, given no additional information. If, for example, 101 cetacean carcasses were recovered overall, and all deaths were attributed to oiling, the average-recovery rate (2%) would translate to 5,050 carcasses, given the 101 carcasses detected.”

Written by modernityblog

31/03/2011 at 20:46

BP’s Message Thus Far.

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In my view, this video clip pretty much sums up BP’s approach thus far:

Written by modernityblog

17/06/2010 at 12:36

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Carter-Ruck, Trafigura And Those Emails.

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These posts could get a bit big, so I will split them up, Richard Wilson’s comments are here.

The BBC will probably clear down any criticism, no matter how mild, of Trafigura, so I think it is best to keep a copy of those Trafigura emails which indicate they knew what they were doing and why.

A copy of those emails is at the BBC.

More on journalism.co.uk too.

Trafigura Intimidates The BBC.

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Trafigura are still at it.

Despite overwhelming and compelling evidence which demonstrate their culpability and negligence in polluting the Ivory Coast, Trafigura are using highly paid lawyers to bully people and silent the media.

In this instance, they’ve managed to intimidate the rather weak will BBC as Left Foot Forward reports:

“Libel reform campaigners have reacted with “dismay” at the BBC’s decision to concede to toxic waste shippers Trafigura in the High Court. In a statement, the BBC said it withdrew “the allegation that deaths, miscarriages or serious or long-term injuries were caused by the waste and apologises to Trafigura for having claimed otherwise.”

The case was brought by Carter Ruck on behalf after the BBC claimed in its Newsnight programme of 13 May 2009 titled ‘Dirty Tricks and Toxic waste‘ that Trafigura had caused deaths by being involved in the dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. A number of blogs carried the report even after it was removed by the BBC. In February 2007, Reuters reported that “Ivory Coast has confirmed the deaths of a five more people from exposure to toxic waste dumped in Abidjan last August, taking the death toll to 15.”

Readers will remember how Trafigura employed these tactics recently.

Minton, Carter-Ruck and Trafigura.

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Trafigura’s desire to keep the lid on the Minton report meant it spent an inordinate amount of money hiring the best lawyers that money can buy in Britain, Carter-Ruck, to keep even the name of the Minton report secret, lest people read it. The Guardian examines some of its contents:

“The Minton report, commissioned in 2006 from the London-based firm’s scientific consultants, said that based on the “limited” information they had been given Trafigura’s oil waste, dumped cheaply the month before in a city in Ivory Coast , was potentially highly toxic, and “capable of causing severe human health effects”.

The study said early reports of large scale medical problems among the inhabitants of Abidjan, including respiratory and eye problems, discomfort, and nausea, were consistent with a release of a cloud of potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas over the city.

The author of this initial draft study, John Minton, of consultants Minton, Treharne & Davies, said dumping the waste would have been illegal in Europe and the proper method of disposal should have been a specialist chemical treatment called wet air oxidation.

Although the report was cautious in tone, pointing out that unreliable press reports and “mass hysteria” might have led to exaggeration of alleged ill effects, its contents were unwelcome.

Trafigura subsequently did not use the report in the personal injury report in the claim against them and did not disclose the report’s existence.

It issued a series of public statements over the next three years saying the waste had been routinely disposed of and was harmless. Trafigura based this decision on other reports produced from an analysis of the slops obtained from the Probo Koala ship. Trafigura dismissed complaints of illness in a lawsuit brought by 30,000 inhabitants of Abidjan, before being eventually forced last month to pay them £30m in compensation and legal costs in a confidential out of court settlement.”

The actual report is on Wikileaks here as a PDF.

Trafigura have spent vast sums of money trying to override press freedom, keep secret the Minton report and protect their reputation, yet in the age of the Internet their actions have had the opposite effect.

Update 1: This page contains the related Guardian, Trafigura and the Probo Koala information.

Update 2: More on Twitter’s role in breaking the veil of secrecy imposed by Carter-Ruck.

Update 3: Stephen Fry as seen by the Torygraph.

Update 4: findingDulcinea on British Libel Law Examined After Controversial Gag Order Against The Guardian.

Around The World.

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There were a few stories that caught my attention, particularly what’s going on in Peru.

We are often told that the Amazon is the lungs of the Earth, a precious resource to care for and not to recklessly exploit, yet the actions of Alan Garcia’s government in Lima gives lie to that notion, the Times reports:

“These men are part of a growing resistance movement crystallising deep in the jungles of Peru. For the first time isolated indigenous groups are uniting to fight the Government’s plans to auction off 75 per cent of the Amazon — which accounts for nearly two thirds of the country’s territory — to oil, gas and mining companies.

They oppose 11 decrees issued by President García, under special legislative powers granted to him by the Peruvian Congress, to enact a free trade agreement with the US. These would allow companies to bypass indigenous communities to obtain permits for exploration and extraction of natural resources, logging and the building of hydroelectric dams.

Indigenous leaders say that the laws will affect more than 50 Amazonian nations representing hundreds of thousands of Indians.

One by one the men step forward and deliver angry, defiant messages. “If an oil company tries to come here, we will block its path and block the rivers. We will not let them in and we will take strong action,” Jempe Wasum Kukush, a local leader, said. Another, Tayajin Shuwi Peas, warns: “We are not scared and we will fight to the death over this.”

On the other side of the world, in related news Rwandan government suppresses Greens (thanks to Jim for spotting this), Green Party Watch has more:

“Kigali: They moved hundreds of kilometers – some for the first time to the capital. Others braved the trouble of having to move with babies. Some abandoned their jobs to be in Kigali for the event that did not happen. Up to 900 supposed delegates of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) found themselves at the center of an unexpected controversy, RNA reports.

The newly formed party was on Friday told it could not hold a scheduled delegates’ conference. Interim party officials had booked St. Famille CANA hall – owned by the Kigali catholic diocese. The large number of delegates meant some had to stand outside anxiously waiting for the grand event to start.

These delegates had come all the way to give their nomination signatures to the new party. It is these signatures which party officials hoped would form part of the registration dossier with the Ministry of Local Government.”

Elsewhere in Africa the quest for raw materials goes on as China is about to sign an agreement with the dictatorship in Guinea. Readers will remember the recent massacre by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara’s forces. The Times discusses China’s role in Africa:

“China is preparing to throw the junta in Guinea a lifeline in the form of a multibillion-pound oil and mineral deal, financed largely by soft loans. Such policies have already served China well with rogue and discredited regimes from Angola to Sudan. The move comes as the European Union, spurred on by France, the former colonial power, and the African Union are considering sanctions against Guinea if its young military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, continues to renege on a deal to stand down in favour of free elections.

The massacre occurred after 50,000 demonstrators took to the streets when Captain Camara — who seized power in December after the death of the long-time dictator Lansana Conte — announced that he would stand in the poll. Thousands stayed at home yesterday and riot police patrolled empty streets as the opposition called two days of mourning for the dead.

Beijing, meanwhile, was reported to be close to agreeing a deal, financed by its China International Fund, of about £4.4 billion covering a range of projects. Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, also has huge deposits of uranium, iron ore, diamonds and a host of other minerals. It is also believed to have significant off-shore oil reserves.
..
There is only one condition: any money provided must be used to pay Chinese companies and buy Chinese goods that flood the continent’s bustling street markets. Stalls now overflow with cheap plastic sandals, underwear, artificial flowers and cut-price motorbikes and tools.

Ordinary Africans are far less enthusiastic than the governing elites. Rights activists accuse the Chinese of cutting corners, exploiting corrupt local officials and ignoring health, safety and environmental concerns.”

I just wonder what will happen, if and when, China’s source of precious materials becomes blocked by locals agitated at their exploitation, will China’s dictatorship be tempted to move some of their troops into the region?

Written by modernityblog

14/10/2009 at 14:23