2 years ago
On Tuesday (May 26 2009), there was a last-minute announcement that the trial is postponed with no new date given but it is expected to commence soon, and the plaintiffs -- Ogoni villagers and family members of people who were killed -- will finally have their day in court.There has been a flurry of media attention as the lawyers prepare for battle in the courtroom.
However, some of the most interesting events are happening behind-the-scenes in the lead up to the trial. They show that Shell continues to do everything in its power to keep the truth from coming out.
On May 12, Shell's lawyers filed a motion opposing the admission of prominent human rights attorney Paul Hoffman to serve as trial counsel for the plaintiffs.
[download PDF of the document]
As standard procedure for a trial of this kind, Hoffman had filed a "pro hac vice" application with the court. The Latin pro hac vice is a legal term meaning "for this occasion," and refers to the lawyer being granted permission to serve in a state where he or she may not hold a law license. In this case, California-based Hoffman was filing to represent the plaintiffs in federal court in New York.
In the motion by Shell's lawyers to oppose Hoffman as counsel, they explain how seriously they take it:
"Defendants' counsel have over 70 years of experience among us, and none of the three of us has ever had occasion to oppose a pro hac vice application."So why was Shell opposing Hoffman's participation in the trial?
The video Shell doesn’t want you to see
May 5th, 2009
This 8 1/2-minute mini-documentary is an excellent introduction to what is at stake in the upcoming Wiwa v. Shell trial. It was produced by Rikshaw Films for EarthRights International (ERI) & the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the plaintiffs’ co-counsel in the case.
Business as usual: Shell trying to suppress the truth. The video was a highlight of the WiwavShell.org website run by ERI & CCR to educate the public about the trial but it was recently removed. Investigation of public legal documents reveal that the video was removed under order from the trial judge after legal motions by Shell. Read the story about it on Huffington Post.
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20090526 Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: Drawing A Line In The Congressional 'Sand' For The Rethuglicans - On President Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Raised By A Puerto Rican Single Mother Who Lived In 'The Projects'
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The massive military operation in the midst of a populated area has now displaced 2.3 million persons, according to the UN.
Dawn editorializes that the displaced persons situation threatens the economy of the North-West Frontier Province, insofar as the military operation has kept farmers from harvesting their crops and therefore left them with no money to buy seed and equipment for putting in next year's crop.
Aljazeera English reports on the hardships of Swat refugees living in tents in 115 degrees F. [In Full with Linkage]
"Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom." [In Full]
"When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?'"From "Blackwater Down", Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, September 21, 2005
“In the Sept. 11 disaster that never seems to stop exacting its toll, one of the subtler but more serious losses is a consequence of the booming private security industry, which is draining the [NYPD] of some of its most desirable workers: the serious, smart and experienced senior officers the city needs most in a crisis.”In Full @ ISN Security Watch
Fast forward nine years later and one finds a young industry built almost entirely on the backs of former military and police personnel who have provided everything from diplomatic, convoy, embassy, weapon storage and energy infrastructural security to gathering intelligence, conducting interrogations, patrolling borders on land, fighting pirates on sea and transporting goods and personnel by air. It would seem there is nothing these forces cannot do.
On private patrol
Policing some of the most dangerous US cities has quickly become the newest line of business for many of these companies which have already replaced police officers in cities from Portland to Baltimore.
The phenomenon runs deeper than the normal shopping center or bank security guard. While in many cases private security personnel act more as city cleanup, organization or local ambassadors, some cities are pushing for armed private security personnel to patrol the streets, perform arrests and transport civilians. This is somewhat of a cause for concern, especially because of the more controversial issues surrounding the role of private military and security companies abroad in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cities are turning to the private sector for a variety of reasons. Some local and state governments are under pressure from budget deficits and are often convinced that privatized industries are more cost-effective than state agencies and bureaucracies. Other cities have an already overstretched force that cannot respond to increases in crime, so private contractors are seen as a quick fix and an easy force multiplier.
From Oakland to New Orleans
Oakland, California is the latest city looking to hire private companies to patrol some of its rougher neighborhoods in the wake of record municipal budget deficits. Last April, according to the Wall Street Journal, the city successfully voted to outsource part of its police patrol to International Services Inc, but later retracted after “two of its vice presidents were accused […] by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office of defrauding the state of California out of more than $9 million in workers compensation.”
According to the daily Portland Mercury newspaper, Portland, Oregon’s downtown area is patrolled by armed personnel with arrest powers that are supplied by Portland Patrol, Inc, a company which, according to local media, has repeatedly evaded requests to appear before the city’s oversight committee.
Over 2,000 miles away, Chicago has turned to a company that currently operates in police-like automobiles marked “special patrol,” according to CBS News, and are expected to have their powers expanded as the city combats increased crime rates with an overstretched police force.
Down south in New Orleans, Louisiana, armed private guards patrol wealthy neighborhoods and private schools. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, “Some areas of New Orleans have used armed private patrols since 1997, when residents in an east New Orleans community petitioned Louisiana's legislature to create a tax on property owners to pay for a private force. About 20 residential tax districts have been established, employing an estimated 100 private guards. This month, seven more neighborhoods voted to create such districts.”
During the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was patrolled by approximately 150 heavily armed Blackwater personnel alongside several other big contractor companies like Dyncorp, Wackenhut and most interestingly, ISI, an Israeli company that flew in former Israeli Special Forces commandos.
Most notably of all of these companies is Capital Special Police, which not only supplies guards and corporate escorts, but offers “real police officers [that] arrest for felonies and misdemeanors; issue citations for infractions; and enforce local ordinances.”
"After the training and indoctrination is over, I wonder how readily these young people would, without thinking, open fire on US citizens…"
"...the Explorers have faced problems over the years. There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them.
Several years ago, two University of Nebraska criminal justice professors published a study that found at least a dozen cases of sexual abuse involving police officers over the last decade. Adult Explorer leaders are now required to take an online training program on sexual misconduct."
[See Boy Storm Troopers of America for the context to his comment:]
Sunday, 06 May 2007
JOURNAL: Shell facilities disappear from Niger Delta (UPDATE)
Last year, Shell Oil abandoned facilities that produced 600,000 barrels a day of oil due relentless attacks by the global guerrilla facilitator MEND.
Upon its return to these facilities this month, the company found much of its infrastructure missing. In the area near the Forcados terminal alone, 435 miles of pipeline disappeared (likely disassembled by hand, loaded onto barges, offloaded onto Ukrainian transport ships offshore, and delivered to Chinese scrap metal dealers -- globalization is grand, isn't it).
Estimates of the reconstruction costs now exceed $2 billion, under the assumption both Shell and its construction partners will be allowed to return unimpeded.
That isn't a good bet: 11 Daewoo construction workers working on a power plant deep inland (which shows the guerrillas have more reach than ever) were kidnapped and two assaults were made on off-shore platforms as recently as last week. Further, MEND like its counter-parts in Iraq, are very adept at the disruption of corporate activity.
So far, the returns on its investments (ROIs) have been stellar. [In Full]
Nigeria’s main rebel group, Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), today declared a ceasefire a week after it launched an “oil war” in the country’s restive, oil-producing region.
"Effective 0100 Hrs, September 21, 2008, exactly one week (since) we launched our reprisal, MEND will begin a unilateral ceasefire till further notice," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in a statement.
“After one week of intense lopsided fighting and an unprecedented sabotage on the oil industry prompted by an unprovoked attack on one of our positions including indiscriminate attacks on civilian communities, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will downgrade the oil war code named Hurricane Barbarossa to a state of alert code named Tropical Storm Vigilant.
“We hope that the military has learnt a bitter lesson. The next unprovoked attack will start another oil war that will be so ferocious that it will dim the pleas of the elders. That blood oil war will come in the form of another hurricane and its devastation and mode of operation will be different from what was seen with Barbarossa.
“MEND can only speak for itself and will not vouch for the other angry groups that aligned with the operation.” [Source]
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