Friday, May 29, 2009
The Real War "Game", Pipelineistan poker - It all comes down to the top two global players - Pepe Escobar, Asia Times
Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan Goes Af-Pak
Back in March, Pepe Escobar, that itchy, edgy global reporter for one of my favorite on-line publications, Asia Times, began laying out the great, ongoing energy struggle across Eurasia, or what he likes to call Pipelinestan for its web of oil and natural gas pipelines. In his first report, he dealt with the embattled energy corridor (and a key pipeline) that runs from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey -- and the Great Game of business, diplomacy, and proxy war between Russia and the U.S. that has gone with it.
Now, in the second of what will be periodic "postcards" from the energy heartlands of the planet, he plunges eastward into tumultuous Central and South Asia and the great devolving battleground that, in Washington, now goes by the neologism of Af-Pak (for the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations). There, the skies are filled with planes and unmanned aerial drones, and civilians as well as combatants die every day in increasing numbers as ever more frequent attacks and expanding conflicts make daily headlines, while, in Afghanistan, Washington continues to build new military bases and ready itself to send in reinforcements.
Those are, of course, the front-page stories. Energy, especially in the form of oil and natural gas, fuels everything from civilization to its various discontents and means of destruction, and yet it remains largely on the business pages of our papers. Even in a time of relatively depressed oil and gas prices, energy runs like an undercurrent just beneath global headlines. Under the carnage of war, that is, courses what Escobar likes to call the Liquid War, and just how the energy flows and through which territories controlled by whom does turn out to make -- quite literally -- a world of difference, even if that isn't what captures our attention most of the time.
Today, let Escobar, whose latest book is Obama Does Globalistan, take you deep into the "New Great Game" that will determine the shape of our future planet. Tom
Blue Gold, Turkmen Bashes, and Asian Grids
Pipelineistan in Conflict
By Pepe Escobar
As Barack Obama heads into his second hundred days in office, let's head for the big picture ourselves, the ultimate global plot line, the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order. In its first hundred days, the Obama presidency introduced us to a brand new acronym, OCO for Overseas Contingency Operations, formerly known as GWOT (as in Global War on Terror). Use either name, or anything else you want, and what you're really talking about is what's happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It's there that the Liquid War for the control of Eurasia takes place.
Yep, it all comes down to black gold and "blue gold" (natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond compare, and so it's time to trek back to that ever-flowing wonderland -- Pipelineistan. It's time to dust off the acronyms, especially the SCO or Shanghai Cooperative Organization, the Asian response to NATO, and learn a few new ones like IPI and TAPI. Above all, it's time to check out the most recent moves on the giant chessboard of Eurasia, where Washington wants to be a crucial, if not dominant, player.
We've already seen Pipelineistan wars in Kosovo and Georgia, and we've followed Washington's favorite pipeline, the BTC, which was supposed to tilt the flow of energy westward, sending oil coursing past both Iran and Russia. Things didn't quite turn out that way, but we've got to move on, the New Great Game never stops.
Now, it's time to grasp just what the Asian Energy Security Grid is all about, visit a surreal natural gas republic, and understand why that Grid is so deeply implicated in the Af-Pak war....
In Full @ TomDispatch
Travus T.Hipp @ Cabale News Service also has a few commentaries committed to audio at Archive.org on the topic:
[November 03 2009] Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: Facing Up To Reality In Central Asia - The West Is Losing The AfPakistan War... And Losing Badly [Here]
[August 04 2005] Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: A Laymans Guide to the 'Stans: Chapter 1 - 'Themistan' [Here]
[August 01 2005] Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: The 'Stans: Quietly, we are a very big part of it as Uzbekistan drops out of 'The Great American Alliance' [Here]
[March 24 2005] Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: The 'Stans & The U.S. Military Presence In Central Asia [Here]
Does MEND Know? Royal Dutch Shell Goes On Trial In Bribery For Nigerian Environment Activist/Reporter State Executions
Update June 14 2009:
Nigerian activists score victory
(Settlement: $15.5 million) against Shell Oil
Nigerian activists score victory
(Settlement: $15.5 million) against Shell Oil
A Follow-Up on a couple of recent Buffalo Twitters
Does MEND Know?
Mr. Saro-Wiwa, a popular author who helped create a peaceful mass movement on behalf of the Ogoni people, was executed in November 1995 along with eight other environmental and human rights activists on what many contended were trumped-up murder charges. His body was burned with acid and thrown in an unmarked grave.
Lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell accuses them of helping frame Nigerian journalist for execution
More on Shell Oil Bribery for execution of Nigerian Journalist Here.
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.
After watching, SIGN UP for updates & action alerts, and TAKE ACTION to support our campaign.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
20090526 Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: Drawing A Line In The Congressional 'Sand' For The Rethuglicans, USSC Nominee Sonia Sotomayor
|"All The News You Never Knew You Needed To Know ...Until Now."|
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'
[Pop Out Player? Click Here]
Prefer An MP3 Playlist?
It's Here: [192kbps VBR 13:40 Minutes]
Other Audio Formats Available [ Here ]
Twitter This Commentary
President Obama spins the news cycle his way after making headlines saying that the North Korean's nuclear weapons test over the weekend is cause for "grave concern" and says "The United States and the international community must take action in response,".
The president went on to keep his choke hold on the media by announcing he's nominated a Puerto Rican woman, Sonia Sotomayor, for Supreme Court justice who at one point in her life lived in 'the projects' and went on to be a federal appeals court judge. Her "Creds", from CNN.
More court... The California Supreme Court is about to announce it's decision on Proposition 8, the Gay Marriage proposition.
But it's notable that the walls are coming down on THAT 'closet' if you are a US diplomat, and you're Gay. Hillary Clinton says your significant other is going to be covered by your health care program etc.
The president of Pakistan says he's going to call off the military offensive in Waziristan despite the fact that the 'best' US intel says that's where "Al Qaeda's stronghold" is and there are refugees streaming out of the region despite the supposed lack of military activity. (Personally, THIS Buffalo thinks all one would have to do is hang out at the back gate of CIAHQ @ Langley Virginia for a sighting of Usama bin-hidin'.)
There are approximately 2.4 million refugees in Pakistan now according to the UN, and counting, due to the military offensives in Swat and other areas of the country.
Juan Cole @ Informed Comment with more:
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]
NASA's new administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. has military and aerospace experience as a pilot and astronaut compared to all previous administrators who had been political or sciences discipline related... and he's African-American.
Oh, and HERE'S an interesting note for the Fascism Watchers of America out there... US Army Colonel Ralph Peters threatens the US media with war (or MAYBE it a threat to sic the remnant's of Big Dick Cheney's JSOC assassination squad Seymour Hersh spoke of on the WaPo's and NYT's foreign affairs desk personnel) in an article written for JINSA.
JINSA is the Israeli-US interface of their joined-at-the-hips-and-brain military industrial complex... as Wikipedia describes PART of their agenda "Support for joint U.S.-Israeli training and weapons development programs.". In other words, they're The people who are embedded in the US military R&D/procurement apparatus who see to it that America's latest 'toys of annihilation' fit launchers and jet fighters that have their nomenclature and documentation in Hebrew.
Colonel Peters said:
"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]
Important Note: As of today, there were 1,001 mornings of Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary posted at archive.org. Da' Buffalo is going to take a sabbatical at this point... a week to a month... and further, his site "My Buffalo River Home", is going to be taken offline. "Razed By Wolves" will continue, and some postings from MBRH will be reposted (the popular ones according to current sitemeter stats). When Da' Buffalo returns, Razed By Wolves will be mirroring the Cabale News Service postings at archive.org, but expect at least a week to a month before that occurs. Until then, if your work hours or time zone of residence doesn't allow you to 'listen live', KPIG has recently put a player for Travus T. Hipp's Cabale News Service commentaries on their front page. Here's a direct link to the player.
Just select Travus T. Hipp and pick your date.
[After the commentary, Rodney Crowell sings about "Judgement", and not 'going there'. Courtesy of the respective artists and KPIG radio Freedom California Earth...].
I'll be back soon...
Travus T. Hipp's Commentary Archive Is [ Here]
Search the archive by topic [Here]
Cabale News RSS Feed Via Internet Archive
Creative Commons Copyright
Cabale News Service and KPIG Radio
Via My Buffalo River Home
Internet Explorer Recommended (IE 6 Tested).
FireFox May Not Show Controls
Be patient. Some browsers show a 'sponsor message' before playing.
Others wait, wondering.
Related@ Technorati: Travus T. Hipp, Cabale News Service, KPIG, Politics, News, Alternative News, U.S. Foreign Policy, U.S. Domestic Policy, Breaking Politics News, Realpolitik, Republican Family Values, Social Justice
Monday, May 18, 2009
Private Police State: Domestic police operations in the US are becoming the newest business for private security companies - ISN Security Watch
The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces "join[ing] the hurricane relief effort." But its men on the ground told a different story.
Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone's apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony's railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action.
Armed men shuffled in and out of the building as a handful told stories of their past experiences in Iraq. "I worked the security detail of both Bremer and Negroponte," said one of the Blackwater guys, referring to the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and former US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte. Another complained, while talking on his cell phone, that he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem.
"When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?'"From "Blackwater Down", Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, September 21, 2005
Police: Going Private
Domestic police operations in the US are rapidly becoming the newest line of business for private security companies, Jody Ray Bennett writes for ISN Security Watch.
By Jody Ray Bennett
18 May 2009
“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.”
Friday, May 15, 2009
3 Florida prison officers dismissed 2 others resign after 40 children deliberately shocked with stun guns
Three US prison officers have been dismissed and two others have resigned after 40 children in Florida were deliberately shocked with stun guns.
The incidents at two prisons occurred last month during a national day when people take their children to work.
In one case, a group of children were told to hold hands in a circle before one of them was shocked with a stun gun and the shock ran round the group.
No one was seriously hurt, but an official said it was "inexcusable".
In the other case in a second prison, children were given individual shocks.
The children, aged from five to 17, were all sons and daughters of employees of the Florida Department of Corrections.
[In Full @ BBCNews]
"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:]
A Buffalo's personal, relatively recent experience:
At the beginning of the war on Iraq I was standing at the town clock where I live, a focal point for whatever protest is occurring due to it's proximity to the heart of downtown and commuter/tourist car traffic.
A California Highway Patrol car pulled up behind some cars stopped at the traffic light, right in front of the hundred or so peaceful sign-waving demonstrators.
Then, a young boy (16-19 years old judging by facial features) in the patrol car's passenger seat pulled out a digital camera and started taking pictures of the assembled crowd, chilling the spirit of the middle-class affluent protesters and young people in the crowd, many of whom were inexperienced and needed regular reminders that their task was to hold the signs towards the traffic, not commiserate with each other, and that the constitution of the US absolutely allowed for them to protest in that manner.
An unknown but most likely significant number of them never returned for further protests.
Fun & Games you say?
Two years ago, Global Guerrillas:
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]
More details on events in that time period @ Reuters
MEND offered a ceasefire a little over a year later
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]
Fast forward to last month, April 15 2009
[In Full] (article now archived. create an account)
Here and now:
May 15 (2009)
Nigeria's MEND declares 'all-out war' in Niger Delta
LAGOS (AFP) — The rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) Friday declared "all-out war" in Nigeria's southern oil region, blaming the security forces for the death of one of their hostages.
The group also alleged the army had deliberated targeted civilians in its latest attacks.
Nigeria's military denied both accusations.
The hostage was killed by a stray army bullet during a clash between MEND's fighters and the Nigerian security forces in the oil-rich region, said a statement from the movement.
"He is a Filipino national," a spokesman for MEND said a statement to AFP.
Earlier Friday, MEND repeated a warning to foreign oil producers to pull out of the region by midnight (2300 GMT) or risk being caught up in increasing violence.
"MEND is declaring an all-out war in the region and calls upon all men of fighting age to enlist for our freedom," the group said in a statement to the media.
"The Nigerian armed forces today launched indiscriminate aerial bombardment on the defenceless civilians in the Gbaramatu region of Delta State," MEND charged.
Oil markets, however, remained largely indifferent to the warning, with two benchmark contracts falling back towards the 58-dollar mark.
MEND has so far provided no further details on the hostage they say was killed.
It has not said if he was part of the group of 15 foreigners held hostage aboard the 'MV Spirit' tanker hijacked on Wednesday.
"One hostage has been killed by stray bullets from the Nigerian army who attacked an area (where) they were being held in Delta state," the MEND said in an earlier email.
A spokesman of the special military unit in the volatile region, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, denied the rebel account of their gun battle with the MEND fighters.
"It is a lie. None of them was killed," he told AFP.
Earlier, he denied accusations that his forces had targeted civilians, and dismissed rebel claims that they had got the better of his men. Operations were still ongoing, he said.
"We did not target civilians in the operation because these are the people we are out to defend and protect," he told AFP.
"Our target is the militants, who are the criminals and we will not stop until they are completely flushed out."
He refused to comment on MEND reports of air attacks, describing the operation as "multi-faceted."
Earlier Friday, Jonjon Oyeinfie, an activist and former ethnic Ijaw youth leader in the region, said a fierce battle was raging along the Warri-Forcados river, with the army deploying 13 gunboats and helicopter gunships.
A Warri resident reported having seen clouds of smoke rising from the Chanomi Creek area in Gbaramatu.
MEND also said it had captured a "warship deployed from Liberia to assist the military... along with its entire crew of officers and ratings" and was in the process of setting it ablaze.
Navy spokesman Commodore David Nabaida dismissed MEND's statement.
"This claim is mere propaganda," he told AFP.
"MEND has no capacity to capture our warship or any of our ships for that matter. Again, we do not have any ship deployed from Liberia to Niger Delta."
The rebel group said it had captured three army gunboats intact and had sunk or destroyed nine others.
"Many soldiers have been killed and the military has made a hasty retreat," the group said.
Major oil companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, have declined to comment on the threats.
In the past three and a half years MEND has been behind a series of kidnappings of staff and attacks on oil installations.
It says it is fighting for a greater share of the region's vast oil resources.
Unrest in the region means Nigeria last year lost its position as Africa's leading crude exporter, to Angola. Its oil output has fallen by about a quarter since 2006.
Nigeria, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, derives more than 95 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from crude oil.
A Chronology of the war for the Niger Delta is HERE, from africamasterweb.com (Current >>> 2008)