VIDEO: Shell killing in Nigeria (so that white fat americans can drive to the mall for yet another burger)

In May 2009, multinational oil giant Shell will stand trial in United States federal court to answer to charges that it conspired in human rights abuses including murder in Nigeria in the 1990s. This mini-documentary tells the story of the rise of an inspiring and nonviolent movement for human rights and environmental justice, and the lengths Shell was willing to go to stop it.

Don’t Let Shell Kill Again (1997) 13:39 TRT…this video was edited from two films (by CATMA) to support the City of Berkeley’s boycott of Shell Oil Company because of its environmental impact on N…

This epic documentary, courtesy of Aljazeera TV clearly indicate that successive Nigerian Governments, including the current one appear not have awoken to the fact that a genuine desire to sooth the minds of these poor youths of Ogoni, as well as other such communities would and should begin with a task force for reconstruction and creating jobs, rather than the display of power. The courage of the Ogoni youths is heavily admired, despite the unacceptable practice of roguery and kidnappings, by a minority section of the community.

Follow the Oil money (a brillant tool)

Gas and Oil Company Contributions to Federal Races

This tool is a visual demonstration of the network of funding relationships between oil companies and politicians.

The Relationship View and Table Views are two alternate presentations of the campaign contributions from company executives (and company Political Action Committees) to the candidate’s campaign committee.
Relationship view
In the relationship view, the more money a member has accepted from the oil industry, the bigger their picture is on the map. The more money they have accepted from an individual company, the thicker the line will be that connects them. Elected officials and companies are positioned by their relationships, those that are close together tend to have similar patterns of giving and receiving.

I believe in a Separation of Oil and State. I support candidates who are least beholden to Big Oil and who vote to end fossil fuel subsidies and fund clean energy.

Ref: Oil change USA

The worlds biggest Stat terrorist –

U.S. is Promoting Secession in Bolivia, Repeating Venezuela Effort

Having avoided any meaningful coverage of Bolivia since the election of Evo Morales in December, 2005, the international media is now obliged to play catch up. Yesterday, the Andean nation of 9.1 million held a crucial vote which could pave the way for secession of the resource-rich Santa Cruz region.

In a challenge to Morales’ authority, more than 80% of voters approved a referendum which would allow more powers for Santa Cruz, an area which is responsible for about 30 percent of Bolivia’s gross domestic product while making up about a quarter of the country’s population. Morales, who rejected the autonomy vote as illegal, called on the opposition to engage in a dialogue with his government.

Fundamentally, the Santa Cruz imbroglio is a struggle over oil and gas.

The mixed race elite in the lowlands wants more local control over the resources while Morales, who has the support of indigenous peoples in the highlands, wants the wealthier eastern regions to contribute more to the poorer west.

Affluent leaders in Santa Cruz are particularly incensed by a new draft constitution which would limit large land holdings. In a repudiation of the constitutional reforms, the people of Santa Cruz voted yesterday to give their region more control over land distribution, as well as rich oil and gas reserves.

So what happens next?

The Santa Cruz referendum has set an ominous precedent: three other eastern provinces, Tarija, Pando, and Bendi, which also possess large fields of crude oil and natural gas, have said they too will vote on greater autonomy. If voters there move to repudiate the central government as well, it could set up a civil war scenario leading to national breakup.

The Secret Hand Behind Secession

If political tensions were not high enough, Morales escalated matters further when he accused the U.S. of backing eastern secessionists. Warning that he would take “radical decisions” against foreign diplomats who become involved in Bolivian politics, Morales remarked “I cannot understand how some ambassadors dedicate themselves to politics, and not diplomacy, in our country. That is not called cooperation. That is called conspiracy.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Álvaro García accused the U.S Embassy of financing “publications, trips, and seminars” to help Morales’ opposition develop “ideological and political resistance” to the administration.

Morales has some just reason to be paranoid. As I document in some detail in my current book, Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan), Morales’s socialist agenda, coca-style nationalism and hostility to economic neo-liberalism has hardly succeeded in ingratiating himself amongst the Beltway elite. The Bolivian leader’s increasingly close ties to Venezuela and Cuba have similarly set off the alarm bell for U.S. diplomats.

In an effort to rollback social and political change in Bolivia, the U.S has funneled millions of dollars to opposition groups through USAID and The National Endowment for Democracy. What’s more, USAID explicitly supports demands of the right wing for greater regional autonomy in the east.

It’s not the first time, however, that the U.S. has sought to encourage secessionist sentiment within South American regions possessing rich natural resources.

Flashback: Venezuela

In 1908, the US helped to support a military coup d’etat in Venezuela launched by Juan Vicente Gómez. Gómez’s primary goal was to establish a strong, centralized state. To achieve this, he would have to head off secessionist sentiment in the westernmost state of Zulia.

Gómez, a brutal dictator, could ill afford political problems in the west. Measuring 63,100 square kilometers, with 178,388 inhabitants in 1908, Zulia was not only large in terms of sheer land mass, but also economically important. When Gómez took power, Zulia had the most substantial budget of any Venezuelan state. The largest city, Maracaibo, had a population of about 39,000 at the turn of the century.

The discovery of vast oil deposits in Lake Maracaibo complicated matters somewhat for Gómez. U.S. President Warren Harding attached singular importance to promoting the expansion of U.S. oil interests abroad, and the State Department was riddled with officials compromised by conflicts of interest.

For example, William T.S. Doyle, the resident manager of Shell Oil in 1919-1920, was a former head of the State Department’s Division of Latin American Affairs. Jordan Stabler, another State Department official, went on to work for Gulf Oil. Francis Loomis, a powerful State Department official, later worked for Standard Oil.

In December 1921, Gómez received a shock when he was apprised of a plot for a military invasion of Venezuela. The plan was foiled when the Dutch authorities stopped a ship setting forth from Holland. The ship had been chartered to travel to Venezuela, apparently to engage in a “filibustering expedition.” Another ship was prevented from setting sail from England. Both ships, the British Public Records Office stated, had been funded to the tune of $400,000 by “oil interests of the United States,” which “had been pulling every possible string in order to block the development of the British Concessions which they ultimately hoped to get hold of.”

Though the plot hatched by American oil interests never came to fruition, the growing oil presence was a concern for Santos Gómez, the Zulia state governor. In 1923, he personally wrote Gómez, warning his chief that oil workers could be subverted by enemies of the regime.

The U.S. Navy in Zulia

Officially, the later Republican administration of Calvin Coolidge espoused a policy of non-intervention in Latin American affairs. Nevertheless, Gómez acted decisively to appoint a stronger and more competent state governor in Zulia, Vincencio Pérez Soto. According to the historian Brian McBeth, rumors of oil companies sponsoring Zulia secession concerned Gómez and convinced the dictator of the need to appoint a stronger man as state president. Clearly, the oil-rich Zulia region was increasingly critical. By 1928, in fact, Venezuela would become the leading world oil exporter.

In the 1920s, U.S. economic interests in Zulia grew, with American oil companies such as Standard Oil and Gulf joining their British counterparts in the Lake Maracaibo area. According to the U.S. consul in Maracaibo, Alexander Sloan, there was widespread disaffection in Maracaibo against the Gómez government. Sloan said that Zulia natives as well as Maracaibo residents “do not now and have not for years felt any great affection for the central government.”

Meanwhile, Pérez Soto was confronted with unsettling news. On July 2, 1926 the USS Niagara arrived off the coast of Zulia. The U.S. consul requested that the sailors be allowed to celebrate the 4th of July in Venezuela. When an air officer attached to the Niagara requested permission to fly over Maracaibo in honor of July 4th, Pérez Soto grew suspicious. Reports reached the governor that the real reason for the over flight was to take aerial photographs of the region. Pérez Soto barred the disembarking of the Niagara crew and refused to authorize the over-flight.

Writing Gómez, the governor related that the U.S. sought to station the Niagara in Venezuelan waters “as a kind of sentinel of North American interests in Venezuela.” Pérez Soto then employed his intelligence to obtain detailed reports concerning the activities of U.S. marines from the Niagara on Zapara island, located in the mouth of the Maracaibo Bar.

Pérez Soto uncovered that the Niagara crew had mounted a wireless radio with a reach of 2,000 miles. Pérez Soto was particularly concerned that powerful sectors of Maracaibo society might conspire with the United States to further Zulia secession with the aim of separating the state from the rest of Venezuela.

The Republic of Zulia

In an effort to lessen tensions with foreign interests, Pérez Soto assured oil company managers that he was “anxious to discuss their problems with them and to lend them any aid in his power.” Pérez Soto sought to assert his authority over the oil companies through diplomatic and legal means. As the U.S. consul put it, Pérez Soto and local officials were determined “that conditions such as existed in Tampico [Mexico] are not to be tolerated here, and [they] have become much stricter in enforcing discipline and obedience to the laws.” In a note to Gómez, Pérez Soto mused that perhaps the oil companies would put up with legality and honesty—”or maybe not, and they will try to undermine me,” through their representatives in Caracas.

In many respects Pérez Soto had been more a more forceful governor than his predecessors. For Gómez, however, the risk was that the more powerful Pérez Soto became, the greater the possibility that the charismatic politician would become a rival in his own right. As Gómez consolidated power he faced yet further military unrest, and there were ample opportunities for Pérez Soto to create intrigue.

In July 1928 Col. Jose Maria Fossi, a trusted Gómez subordinate, turned against the dictator, taking the city of La Vela de Coro for a few hours. The military uprising, which called for revolutionaries to be reinforced by 300 Venezuelan and 90 Dominican rebels working in Curacao, was crushed by Gómez’s troops. Fossi later remarked that Pérez Soto had approached him and offered him money in exchange for his support in fomenting a separatist movement. The ultimate aim was to form a new republic comprising the Venezuelan states of Zulia, Falcon, and the Catatumbo region of Colombia. The venture, added Fossi, would have the support of the oil companies in Lake Maracaibo.

While such reports must be treated cautiously, Colombian authorities were apparently concerned about a plot and Bogotá’s House of Deputies met in secret session to discuss “moves of Yankee agents in the Departments of Santander and Goagira which sought to provoke a separatist movement which, united to Zulia, would form the Republic of Zulia.” Pérez Soto dismissed rumors of his involvement in Zulia secession as “treason against the Fatherland, and an immense dishonor.” However, Pérez Soto’s credibility was further damaged when correspondence reached Gómez himself hinting at efforts to involve Pérez Soto in Zulia secessionist plots. McBeth writes that “important oilmen with close connections with the State Department had enquired about the suitability of Pérez Soto as President of Zulia.”

What is the present day relevance of all this history? We must remember that the U.S. helped to install Gómez in the first place and sent U.S. gunboats to help the dictator to power in 1908. What’s more, Gómez himself was a solid anti-Communist. And yet, powerful interests in the United States were still not satisfied with Gómez’s reactionary credentials and sought to intrigue against the dictator. Given the history, it is hardly surprising that the U.S. would now encourage secessionist sentiment in Bolivia, a country whose President displays far less ideological affinity with Washington than Gómez during the early twentieth century.

Ref: Counterpunch, by Nikolas Kozloff

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), and Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2008).

Addicted to Oil – US recentless drive for energy security

Addicted to Oil is the first book to undertake an in-depth analysis of the motorisation of US society which explicitly links it to America’s foreign policy adventures, past and present.

America’s love affair with the car is leading to a relentless drive for energy security, at any cost – even war.

Fahrenheit 9/11 – Halliburton Scene

War on Words – (Mis)labeling isn’t an exclusively Iranian prerogative

Less than a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left a bemused and scornful audience at Columbia University, Iran’s parliament voted by a margin of 215 to declare the “aggressor U.S. army and the Central Intelligence Agency…terrorists [who] nurture terror.” Their reasoning might seem dubious—apparently based on the U.S.’s decision to drop atomic bombs 60 years ago—but the vote provides a unique opportunity for American introspection.

The Iranian parliament’s resolution uses the word “terrorist” rather liberally and, given conventional definitions, incorrectly. But U.S. lawmakers should think twice about condemning this propagandist political move. The American government, in conducting its “war on terror” is no stranger to semantic sleights of hand, displaying a tendency to label (or mislabel) just as egregiously as the Iranian parliament.

The Iranian action is a clear response to the US Congress’s recent resolution labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) a “foreign terrorist organization.” Supposedly, Iran’s longstanding support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and its current support for Iraqi insurgents justifies the “T” word. But this argument has many problems, including inaccuracy and meaninglessness.

First of all, calling a state instrument, specifically the recognized army of a legitimate state, a terrorist organization akin to Al Qaeda or Hezbollah goes against the conventional understanding of what a terrorist organization is. We might as well say that the entire state of Iran is a terrorist organization. While this might please some interests and provide a symbolic slap in the face to Iran’s government, it would be ignorant. The army, just like the state, may have some components that support other terrorist organizations (such as training Hezbollah), but this does not mean the entire armed forces are terrorists.

So the declaration is meaningless, especially since it is only a non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution, which cannot officially influence the president’s foreign policy. The move is generally recognized as symbolic posturing designed to aggravate relations. It also reduces the meaning of the word “terrorism” from actions characterized by their deliberate use of civilian death and terror to further a goal, to a nasty word used to describe those we don’t like.

But this is more than just an argument over semantics. Under Executive Order 13224, the U.S. government can disrupt financial assets of any terrorist organization. Conducting such acts against a sovereign state is essentially an act of war. Labeling the IRG in such a way is potentially tantamount to imposing clandestine unilateral sanctions on Iran using a legal loophole.

And this isn’t the first time the U.S. has engaged in linguistic gymnastics. Perhaps the best known case of disingenuous mislabeling in the “war on terror” is the now-famous term “enemy combatant.” This term has existed since at least World War II, used generally to describe non-uniformed enemy personnel such as spies. With the invasion of Afghanistan, the term was broadened to include those who supported Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and it now seems to include potentially any person picked up by the army during operations. Such labeling allows for the skirting of the Third Geneva Convention, which deals with prisoners of war. Even the Supreme Court has not offered a great deal of clarity on this issue, deciding in 2004 that detaining without trial at Guantánamo was legal, and deciding in 2006 that, in fact, special executive tribunals violated the Geneva Convention. The government’s mislabeling amounts to a deliberate attempt to create legal ambiguity and a screen for the army’s actions.

This irresponsible rhetoric has real harms, for individuals and for international relations. It shouldn’t be a surprise when countries the United States calls “evil” respond in kind with similar posturing and ridiculous assertions. While the Iranian government’s logic is seriously flawed, it’s less easy to dismiss if we consider our own government’s inaccurate name-calling. This mutually disingenuous verbal battle only increases enmity and tension between nations. Before criticizing Iran, even if such criticism is deserved and accurate, we should examine our own misappropriation of language.

Ref: The Harward Crimson, by Shai D. Bronshtein

Shai D. Bronshtein ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a social studies concentrator in Lowell House.