Monday, June 28, 2010

Obama won't charge Blackwater with violation of Sudan sanctions

So, Yahoo! News focus on the fact that the Obama administration is "negotiating a multimillion-dollar fine". It's suspicious, true, but into the article you'll learn how Blackwater aka Xe Services is headed by a evangelical Christian and tried to get paid in Sudan's natural resources, not cash. Not exactly war for resources - but selective security for resources then.

The story of Blackwater's efforts in Sudan is a tale of mixed motives that echo an earlier era of overseas empires, of evangelical Christians who offered to help defend Christian and animist Southern Sudan from the Muslim Arab military dictatorship in the north, but also sought to exploit the region's oil and mineral wealth.

According to two former senior U.S. officials, the firm headed by Prince, who's long been active in evangelical groups, at one point proposed a broad defense package that would have required the south to pledge as much as half its mineral wealth to pay for Blackwater's services.


After negotiating a $2 million draft contract to train Kiir's personal security detail, Blackwater in early 2007 drafted a detailed second proposal, valued at more than $100 million , to equip and train the south's army. Because the south lacked ready cash, Blackwater sought 50 percent of the south's untapped mineral wealth, a former senior U.S. official said.

In addition to its well-known oil and natural gas reserves, Southern Sudan has vast untapped reserves of gold, iron and diamonds.

A long article, dive in!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Growing Problem Of Oil Theft In China

China may be leaking more oil and gas from its pipeline network than any country in the world, much of it because of criminal activity.
the biggest and least-known problem is oil pilferage by thieves who drill into oil pipelines. This is the cause of at least 40 percent of China’s oil pipeline leaks. This criminal activity started in the early 1990s and it has never stopped since. Although alarm systems are installed along the pipelines, men have to be used to prevent oil theft.
Oil theft from pipelines has become so widespread that even undersea pipelines are being attacked. In 2006, both oil and gas pipelines at the bottom of the sea in the Shengli oilfield were drilled and 70 barrels of crude oil were stolen. But much more oil was spilled and that leak caused serious pollution in the area. The government came down hard on the perpetrators and two were executed. The Shengli oilfield had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the damaged pipelines, clean the seawater pollution and compensate local farmers.
Sometimes local police and security personnel side with the oil stealing criminals or even become their accomplices.
the rewards are too great for criminals to quit, even at the risk of the death penalty.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Professor Montonen talk on environmental impact of war

Claus Montonen at Klimaforum09 from Benno Hansen on Vimeo.

Claus Montonen, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Helsinki, Finland, speaks at "Climate change and conflict - The Danger of future wars", Klimaforum09 Sunday the 13th of December 2009 about the environmental impact of war.

Climate change will create both floods and draught and force millions of poor people to flee their homes. The world will be short of the basic needs of human beings. We will experience more conflicts about farmland, water and food. According to UN, 20 million people were made homeless because of climate related disasters in 2008. We need solutions that are social and global just and responsible. We need the money used on weapons of mass destruction and warfare to be transferred to social and sustainable development.

Also, see the events 2009 page at INES' own site (presentations and some audio) and my TH!NK2 article Klimaforum09 talks: “Climate change and conflict - the danger of future wars” (videos of the two other speakers at the event and transcriptions of selected highlights).

Ecowar - the music video

OK. Not quite.

But running a blog called 'Ecowar I have received various updates on a song of the exact same name by a French hard core band. Today I actually clicked a link from my Splitweet brand surveilance thingy:

HouganVoyeur J'aime vraiment le son de cette chanson malgré que c'est un autre style...#nowplaying Tagada Jones - Ecowar - 16 hours ago from web

Turns out it's not exactly unrelated (obvious even though I don't understand French). If you need more check out my recent Bleeding heart heavy metal music (16 YouTube videos with heavy metal about the environment and war) at TH!NK3 and the blog Rock & Ecology (someone chronicling ecology related rock lyrics).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

UN envoy calls for tough Security Council action on recruitment of child soldiers

One of this week's UN campaign videos

"[...] today the nature of conflicts has changed dramatically. It can be prolonged by the race for natural resources [...]"

The news this week
The New York Times quotes United Nations officials and Somali human rights groups as saying the government is fielding hundreds of children, some as young as nine, on the front lines. The paper also reports that the United States, a strong backer of the government, is helping to pay the soldiers.
"[The US is] particularly concerned about the situation in Somalia [where all parties to the conflict have] placed several thousand children in the line of fire."
- US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice

Report: Somali Government Using Child Soldiers, UN condemns Somalia's use of child soldiers, but US aid still flows, UNICEF seeks to end use of child soldiers across Central Africa.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Greenpeace Activist Harpooned by French Fisherman

"In a non-violent action, Greenpeace activists in zodiac boats attempted to lower the side of a purse seine net with sand bags to free the fish. At that moment, fishermen violently attacked the activists, harpooning one of them through the leg."
- Isabelle Philippe, Greenpeace France
"The French fishermen were attacked by helmeted Greenpeace activists, equipped for and engaged in a violent operation - the destruction of a work tool...After trying to get the species classified as endangered, based on an erroneous reading of the scientific facts regarding the stock of bluefin tuna, now (Greenpeace) assumes the right to attack fishermen out at sea."
- France's National Maritime Fisheries Committee

Seen at Treehugger's Greenpeace Activist Harpooned by French Fisherman. Reminds me of Wednesday, July 08, 2009 Workers of polluting and nature exploiting industries in violent attacks against environmentalists and Friday, October 24, 2008 Old growth forest lumberjacks attack environmentalist protestors.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

US National Security Strategy 2010

The White House recently released its National Security Strategy report and the UN DISPACH were happy to report the Millennium Development Goals are in it. From page 39, chapter "Promote Dignity by Meeting Basic Needs":
The freedom that America stands for includes freedom from want. Basic human rights cannot thrive in places where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. The United States has embraced the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and is working with others in pursuit of the eradication of extreme poverty—efforts that are particularly critical to the future of nations and peoples of Africa.
The report is about how the USA will get the world it wants. Still sounds a bit strong-arm there but otherwise a somewhat comforting read. I.e. from part I " Overview of National Security Strategy", page 3:
we must focus American engagement on strengthening international institutions and galvanizing the collective action that can serve common interests such as combating violent extremism; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; achieving balanced and sustainable economic growth; and forging cooperative solutions to the threat of climate change, armed conflict, and pandemic disease. [...] Constructive national steps on issues ranging from nuclear security to climate change must be incentivized, so nations that choose to do their part see the benefits of responsible action.

Page 5, chapter "Advancing Top National Security Priorities":
our efforts to shape an international order that promotes a just peace must facilitate cooperation capable of addressing the problems of our time. This international order will support our interests, but it is also an end that we seek in its own right. New challenges hold out the prospect of opportunity, but only if the international community breaks down the old habits of suspicion to build upon common interests. A global effort to combat climate change must draw upon national actions to reduce emissions and a commitment to mitigate their impact. Efforts to prevent conflicts and keep the peace in their aftermath can stop insecurity from spreading. Global cooperation to prevent the spread of pandemic disease can promote public health.

Part II. "Strategic Approach", "The Strategic Environment—The World as It Is", page 8:
The gravest danger to the American people and global security continues to come from weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. The space and cyberspace capabilities that power our daily lives and military operations are vulnerable to disruption and attack. Dependence upon fossil fuels constrains our options and pollutes our environment. Climate change and pandemic disease threaten the security of regions and the health and safety of the American people. Failing states breed conflict and endanger regional and global security. Global criminal networks foment insecurity abroad and bring people and goods across our own borders that threaten our people. [...] Profound cultural and demographic tensions, rising demand for resources, and rapid urbanization could reshape single countries and entire regions.

Still part II, chapter "The Strategic Approach—The World We Seek", page 10:
The United States must ensure that we have the world’s best-educated workforce, a private sector that fosters innovation, and citizens and businesses that can access affordable health care to compete in a globalized economy. We must transform the way that we use energy — diversifying supplies, investing in innovation, and deploying clean energy technologies. By doing so, we will enhance energy security, create jobs, and fight climate change.

And page 11, chapter "Pursuing Comprehensive Engagement":
Our ability to advance constructive cooperation is essential to the security and prosperity of specific regions, and to facilitating global cooperation on issues ranging from violent extremism and nuclear proliferation, to climate change, and global economic instability — issues that challenge all nations, but that no one nation alone can meet. [...] Our diplomacy and development capabilities must help prevent conflict, spur economic growth, strengthen weak and failing states, lift people out of poverty, combat climate change and epidemic disease, and strengthen institutions of democratic governance.

Page 12, chapter "Promoting a Just and Sustainable International Order":
we will enhance international capacity to prevent conflict, spur economic growth, improve security, combat climate change, and address the challenges posed by weak and failing states. [...] . Force will sometimes be necessary to confront threats. Technology will continue to bring with it new dangers. Poverty and disease will not be completely abolished. Oppression will always be with us.

Fast forward to part III. "Advancing Our Interests", chapter "Enhance Science, Technology, and Innovation":
As long as we are dependent on fossil fuels, we need to ensure the security and free flow of global energy resources. But without significant and timely adjustments, our energy dependence will continue to undermine our security and prosperity. This will leave us vulnerable to energy supply disruptions and manipulation and to changes in the environment on an unprecedented scale.
The United States has a window of opportunity to lead in the development of clean energy technology. If successful, the United States will lead in this new Industrial Revolution in clean energy that will be a major contributor to our economic prosperity. If we do not develop the policies that encourage the private sector to seize the opportunity, the United States will fall behind and increasingly become an importer of these new energy technologies.
We have already made the largest investment in clean energy in history, but there is much more to do to build on this foundation. We must continue to transform our energy economy, leveraging private capital to accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies that will cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, increase use of renewable and nuclear power, reduce the dependence of vehicles on oil, and diversify energy sources and suppliers. We will invest in research and next-generation technology, modernize the way we distribute electricity, and encourage the usage of transitional fuels, while moving towards clean energy produced at home.

"Accelerate Sustainable Development", page 34:
We will shape the international architecture and work with our global partners to address these challenges, and increase our investments and engagement to transition to a low-carbon growth trajectory, support the resilience of the poorest nations to the effects of climate change, and strengthen food security. We must also pursue potential “game changers” for development such as new vaccines, weather-resistant seed varieties, and green energy technologies.

"Promote Democracy and Human Rights Abroad", page 38:
d we will institutionalize transparent practices in international aid flows, international banking and tax policy, and private sector engagement around natural resources to make it harder for officials to steal and to strengthen the efforts of citizens to hold their governments accountable.

"International Order", page 40:
without effective mechanisms to forge international cooperation, challenges that recognize no borders—such as climate change, pandemic disease, and transnational crime—will persist and potentially spread.

Page 47, chapter "Sustain Broad Cooperation on Key Global Challenges":
The danger from climate change is real, urgent, and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe. The United States will therefore confront climate change based upon clear guidance from the science, and in cooperation with all nations — for there is no effective solution to climate change that does not depend upon all nations taking responsibility for their own actions and for the planet we will leave behind.

Page 50:
The United States is an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic region, where we seek to meet our national security needs, protect the environment, responsibly manage resources, account for indigenous communities, support scientific research, and strengthen international cooperation on a wide range of issues.

Signed Barack Obama, The White House. (But bold emphasises added by me.)

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