Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chevron & Iraq

Chevron Corp. confirmed Thursday that it is negotiating with the Iraqi government for a contract to help expand production at a major oil field near Basra.
The company plans to work with French oil giant Total to improve operations at the West al-Qurna field in southern Iraq, said Chevron spokesman Kurt Glaubitz.
The negotiations had been widely reported earlier this year, but San Ramon's Chevron has not confirmed them until now. The company took the step after Total's chief executive officer publicly discussed the proposed deal Thursday at an oil industry conference in Paris.

The above is from David R. Baker's "Chevron seeks contract with Iraq on oil field" (San Francisco Chronicle). The article goes on to repeat the usual (3rd largest country in oil reserves, etc.) including the "outdated equipment". If you paid attention during last week's Senate hearings, you may have been caught by surprise to learn (repeatedly) that Iraq's oil production is now above pre-war levels.

So what's with the "equipment" talking point that we hear over and over. It's not about concern for the environment. There's no cry of "new equipment to save the country!" (Though considering Harper's report a few months back on the pollution, that might be what the oil industry next latches on to.) Old equipment or not, Iraq's perfectly able to continue pumping up out tons of barrels of oil for the forseeable future. But "equipment" is one of the rallying cries of the oil industry. They've used that repeatedly to argue that the "production sharing agreements" (theft of Iraqi oil) are 'fair' and 'legitimate.' Iraq needs to fork over approximately 70% of the profits from the oil under the nation's land to foreign multi-nationals, Big Oil argues, because they need new equpiment! It's all a bit like Summer Stock when Judy Garland wants a new tractor for the farm but learns after that she's expected to marry the son of the man who gave her the tractor on credit. With or without the tractor, Garland's farm would have gotten along just fine. And with or without the equipment Big Oil floats to ensnare Iraq, the country would get along just fine.

A trinket for control of a the Iraqi's resource, Big Oil wants to call it a fair trade.

Chevron's also in the news today for their new hire of William Haynes II as chief corporate counsel. Mavis Scanlong (East Bay Business Times) notes Haynes "is under Senate scrutiny for his role at the Pentagon, specifically his role in crafting policies that led to alleged abuses of detainees and terror suspects at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay" and his arrival at Chevron as the court battles "over alleged pollution by its Texaco subsidiary" in Ecuador heat up:

But Haynes is familiar with the attorney who launched the Ecuadorian actions against Chevron, human rights lawyer Cristobal Bonifaz.
He oversaw the government defense in a 2003 case, Doe v. Bush, brought by active-duty military members and their families and members of the House, that sought an injunction that would prevent the president and Donald Rumsfeld, then the Secretary of Defense, from launching the war in Iraq. Bonifaz was the attorney representing the plaintiffs in that action.

Tess highlights Margaret Kimberley's "Pope Benedict Go Home" (Black Agenda Report):

Why would American media, politicians and average citizens welcome a Hitler Youth member who personally worked to insure Bush's re-election and who openly praised the genocide conducted against American Indians? If the man in question becomes pope, it obviously doesn't matter what he says or does. Otherwise sensible people suddenly act like illiterate medieval peasants and fight to kiss his ring.
Benedict XVI will make his first visit to America as pope next week. Since his elevation in 2005, Benedict has proven himself to be among the worst, most retrograde popes in modern times. Worse even than his predecessor, John Paul II. John Paul's iconic "pope mobile" and international visits gave him the appearance of a warm and cuddly spiritual leader. Yet he was every inch a politician, and a right wing one at that.
John Paul personally and forcefully opposed the liberation theology movement that swept Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, was just like his boss. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which used to be called the Inquisition, Ratzinger crushed all efforts to question church authority or promote leftist political activity. Known as "God's Rottweiler," Ratzinger forced Fr. Leonardo Boff, the father of
liberation theology, to retire to a monastery and shut up about liberating oppressed people.

A visitor who estimates he's written 17 times this year to gripe about what's been up here e-mails this morning with a highlight and to say "Obama lost me" -- due to Barack's remarks about Small Town America:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

The visitor notes that his state (Kansas) already voted and he voted for Barack but he is now supporting Hillary. He writes "I applaud this" and he's referring to "Hillary Clinton Responds to Senator Obama's Recent Characterizations of Pennsylvanians" (

Hillary Clinton delivered the following remarks at a campaign event in Indianapolis, Indiana:
For video,
click here:
"I grew up in the Midwest. Born in Chicago, raised outside of that great city. I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakeable faith in America and its promise.
"Now, like some of you may have been, I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small town America. Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and they are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know -- not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York.
"You know, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a matter of Constitutional rights. Americans who believe in God believe it is a matter of personal faith. Americans who believe in protecting good American jobs believe it is a matter of the American Dream.
"When my dad grew up it was in a working class family in Scranton. I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith.
"The people of faith I know don't "cling to" religion because they're bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich. Our faith is the faith of our parents and our grandparents. It is a fundamental expression of who we are and what we believe.
"I also disagree with Senator Obama's assertion that people in this country "cling to guns" and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration. People of all walks of life hunt - and they enjoy doing so because it's an important part of their life, not because they are bitter.
"And as I've traveled across Indiana and I've talked to a lot of people, what I hear are real concerns about unfair trade practices that cost people jobs.
"I think hardworking Americans are right to want to see changes in our trade laws. That's what I have said. That's what I have fought for.
"I would also point out that the vast majority of working Americans reject anti-immigration rhetoric. They want reform so that we remain a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws that we enforce and we enforce fairly.
"Americans are fair-minded and good-hearted people. We have ups and downs. We face challenges and problems. But our views are rooted in real values, and they should be respected.
"Americans out across our country have borne the brunt of the Bush administration's assault on the middle class. Contrary to what Senator Obama says, most Americans did much better during the Clinton years than they have done during the Bush years.
"If we are striving to bring people together -- and I believe we should be -- I don't think it helps to divide our country into one America that is enlightened and one that is not.
"We know there is an unacceptable economic divide in America today, but that is certainly not the way to bridge it. The way to do that is to roll up our sleeves and get to work and make sure we provide, once again, economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all Americans.
"People don't need a president who looks down on them; they need a president who stands up for them. And that is exactly what I will do as your president.
"Because I believe if you want to be the president of all Americans, you need to respect all Americans. And that starts with respecting our hard working Americans, and what we need to do here is to take a lesson from Allison transmission."

The visitor wants it noted that (a) he lives in a small town in Kansas and (b) he went to see Barack speak in Kansas and applauded loudly "but I guess he wasn't telling me what he really thought."

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