Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oil Companies Are Destroying Burma


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Even as we screech at the Palestinian peasants, we exploit peasants brutally all over the globe. One place we never ever hear from, aside from Nigeria, is Burma. The military coup that runs the place are totally insane. They just moved their capital deep into the hinterlands to prevent revolutions. Oil companies kill peasants, stealing their lands, polluting their farms.

From the BBC:
Burma's decision to shift its seat of government has left many analysts at a loss to explain the move.

After all, why go to the huge trouble and expense of relocating thousands of officials to a remote mountainous region, when there is a well-established political infrastructure in the port city of Rangoon?

Information Minister Kyaw Hsan said the site of the new capital, near the town of Pyinmana, was a more strategic location for Burma's military rulers.

"It is centrally located, and has quick access to all parts of the country," he told reporters on Monday.

But analysts outside the country were unconvinced.
The BBC has pictures of the work going on that were sneaked out of that police state. Even as America pretends to want democracy to spread so long as no one really votes or has any influence outside of our chosen Quislings, we ignore our own, self-installed dictatorships. The oil companies fear, above all things, a nationalist government in any country they are draining dry. We will assassinate, create riots in the streets, attack openly, any and all possible challenges to oil company power. The need to keep a death grip on all oil across the planet is costing us half a trillion dollars and is endangering us here at home, as we saw on 9/11. But we consume 24% of the world's oil and so, we need to be utterly ruthless and brutal.

Here is another English Newspaper, the Independent:
One of America's most powerful oil conglomerates looks likely to get its comeuppance in court over its overseas business practices after spreading a trail of misery through a small rainforest village in the Tenasserim region of Burma in November 1994.

The prospect of an avalanche of suits against big corporations has so spooked the Bush administration - always a good friend to the oil industry - that last month the Justice Department filed a brief in the Unocal case denouncing the Alien Tort Act as "an obscure provision" and arguing its application posed a direct threat to, among other things, the war on terrorism.

When the Union Oil Company of California, or Unocal, started working on a gas pipeline project there, it contracted out security operations to the Burmese military regime; and that was when the horror began.

According to court documents, Burmese soldiers entered a house in the village, broke into the rice storeroom with an axe, kicked the woman of the house and pushed her down some stairs. After a brief hunt for her husband, the soldiers came back and kicked the woman again, knocking her unconscious and pushing her into a lighted fireplace. They kicked her infant daughter into the fire too.
When the Chinese tried to bid for Unocal, they were rebuffed by puffed up American legislators who feared the Chinese would take over our oil.

We obviously have tremendous influence on Burma. We could, say, boycott all that oil. Heh. Fat chance. Instead, we point to the budding democracy in Iran (which has tremendous problems, what with the winning team acting like they are Republicans and doing all that cheating stuff!) and scream, they should be boycotted and the neo cons put in zillions of editorials screaming that we need to free the people of Iran. Meanwhile, we silently stand by, watching our stooges in Burma torment the people there!

In 2003, humanist organizations tried to strike back using lawsuits designed to force American oil companies to stop oppressing people in oil pumping countries.
What is new is the legal approach to challenge the corporations. The Alien Tort Act was first revived about 20 years ago to chase down disgraced generals and deposed despots such as Ferdinand Marcos but it was adapted in the 1990s to pursue corporations.

Rick Herz, a lawyer with Earth Rights International, said: "The principle is the same, since corporations are persons under the law.

"Aiding and abetting - that's a direct liability. Companies like Unocal argue that they are not responsible for the actions of their subsidiaries and contractors, but notions of liability through joint venture or agency are basic tort theories, common throughout the United States and the rest of the world." Another suit, against ChevronTexaco over the deaths of villagers in Nigeria who had opposed its plans for a series of oil platforms, is also close to coming to trial.

The prospect of an avalanche of suits against big corporations has so spooked the Bush administration - always a good friend to the oil industry - that last month the Justice Department filed a brief in the Unocal case denouncing the Alien Tort Act as "an obscure provision" and arguing its application posed a direct threat to, among other things, the war on terrorism.
We all know, the Justice Dept thinks not only various acts and laws are obscure and even obscene, they think the Constitution is a dirty rag to wipe their feet with.

Well, nothing much has changed since this article appeared overseas three years ago except for things to get worse and worse. The resolution to take all the oil out of the planet's crust has only accelerated. China, rebuffed from buying Unocal, has simply gone over our heads and using the fistful of a trillion dollars, is outbidding us across the planet.

From Xinhua net:
The government is expected to relax controls over retail oil prices in its domestic market soon, bringing them more into line with international prices, a National Bureau of Statistics official said.

Li Deshui, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, told a media briefing in Beijing yesterday that he believes the government will allow retail oil prices to rise in response to market forces in the near future, despite the flow-on inflationary effect on the economy.
See? This is today's news in China. The ruling elites think this will work. We shall see if the Chinese people protest this. We know, Americans are getting very dicey about oil price hikes. Breathlessly, the media reports any drop in prices, no matter how minute. But the constantly escalating prices are devastating whole industries such as the auto makers here.

And here is Iran and China, drawing closer, thanks to American efforts to isolate the Iranians. From Xinhua net:
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing held talks here Thursday with visiting Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

They had an exchange of views mainly on Iran's nuclear issue and other related issues concerning the growth of bilateral relations.
We can kiss our "we need to go to war with Iran" goodbye. The Israelis were really nice to the Chinese for a long time, funnelling information and weapon systems from America to China. Now, that pipeline is down and China is reconsidering their relationship with Israel, namely, they don't need them anymore, they have much nicer contacts and since Israel has no oil and the Chinese have no popular demand to support the annexation of Palestinian lands such as we see in America, they are free to join forces with the Iranians or the Palestinians who are anxious for a powerful friend and who are a potential portal for all sorts of things including mischief and tying down America in futile, dangerous wars over dust.

The consolidation of influence and power on the World Go Board continue. Relentlessly, China plunks down one stone after another, right alongside ours. And they don't have to kill anyone while doing this.
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