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Will the World Bank Stop Investing in Campesino Assassinations?

By Arthur Phillips | CEPR Americas Blog | March 8, 2013

On February 27, the office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched an audit of the lending arm’s $30 million investment in Tegucigalpa-based Corporación Dinant, which produces palm oil and food products. The audit comes in response to widespread claims of violence, intimidation, and illegal evictions carried out by Dinant’s private security guards in Honduras’ Bajo Aguán valley, the center of the country’s ongoing land struggle. In offering its resources and reputation to the company, the World Bank and its member countries are complicit in the deaths of countless innocent farmers.

The COA’s review began just two days after the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries urged the Honduran government “to properly investigate and prosecute crimes committed by private security guards and to ensure that victims receive effective remedies.” A delegation from the Working Group was in the country from February 18 to 22, when it met with government officials and representatives of civil society and the private sector, including security firms. The delegates voiced their particular concern about the “alleged involvement of private security companies hired by landowners in widespread human rights violations including killings, disappearances, forced evictions and sexual violence against representatives of peasant associations in the Bajo Aguán region.” Dinant is the largest single landholder in the region.

An appointed panel of unnamed experts is currently convened in Washington, D.C., to review both the IFC’s adherence to its social and environmental policies and the role Dinant has played in the abuses. Many human rights observers consider the company’s owner, Miguel Facussé, to be one of the country’s most powerful men and hold him responsible for the killings of dozens of campesinos.

The audit had been a long time coming. On November 19, 2010, the human rights organization Rights Action wrote a letter to the World Bank’s then-president Robert Zoellick demanding that the financial institution suspend its funding to Honduras. The group cited the “context of grave human rights abuses and lack of independence of the justice system” as grounds to withhold funding, and characterized support for Dinant as “a case of gross negligence of the World Bank’s human rights and due diligence obligations.” In the letter, Rights Action also noted that “at least 19 farmers in this region have been killed in the context of conflicts with biofuel industry interests.” (In a new report released two weeks ago, the same group declared that 88 farmers and their supporters have been killed in Bajo Aguán since January 2010, most of them in targeted assassinations.)

In the ensuing period, the office of the CAO maintained discussions with local civil society organizations and in April 2012, CAO Vice President Meg Taylor informed the IFC that her office was initiating an appraisal of the funding group’s investment in Dinant. That appraisal, having found sufficient grounds for further investigation, culminated this August in the decision to conduct the current audit.

A diverse group of international organizations, including Oxfam, Vía Campesina and the Latin American Working Group, welcomed CAO’s decision. In a co-signed letter, though, the groups expressed their firm demand that the IFC halt its financial cooperation with the palm oil company

until a) clear evidence is provided of significant progress in overcoming impunity of crimes and human rights abuses committed against organized peasants and their supporters in the Lower Aguán; and b) a comprehensive, just, peaceful and sustainable resolution is provided to the conflicts over land between the Corporación Dinant, the government of Honduras and the local peasant movements.

The panel is scheduled to conclude its audit on March 8.

On Friday, March 1, while the CAO panel gathered in Washington, journalist Carlos Augusto Lara Cruz was reportedly threatened by a Dinant employee while covering a confrontation between campesinos and a military unit. It must be noted that Honduran human rights defenders have consistently and credibly accused military and police units of collaborating with Dinant security guards in kidnapping, torturing, and murdering land rights activists.

One of the latest assassinations in the area took place on Thursday, February 21, when lawyer José Andrés Andrade Soto was shot dead in the town of Tocoa. Andrade Soto led the regional office of the National Agrarian Institute until former president Manuel Zelaya was deposed in the June 2009 coup. Today, farmer organizations continue to struggle for land titles that the Zelaya government granted to them shortly before it was overthrown.

As part of its Summary of Proposed Investment, written before the program’s approval in order to boost the institution’s transparency, the IFC described its cooperation with Dinant as an opportunity to help small farmers in Bajo Aguán. It also declared that there was no controversy regarding the land in question. “Land acquisition is on a willing buyer-willing seller basis, and there is no involuntary displacement of any people,” the report assured.

Since that report was published, scores of campesinos have been assassinated for efforts to re-appropriate their rightful land. The World Bank and its member countries bear some degree of responsibility for their deaths. No matter the outcome of the CAO audit, the IFC should apologize for the suffering in which it has been complicit and should immediately revoke its support for Facussé and Corporación Dinant.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Will the World Bank Stop Investing in Campesino Assassinations?

The Green Green Gold of Ethiopia

By GRAHAM PEEBLES | CounterPunch | March 8, 2013

Ancestral land that for generations has served as home and livelihood for hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in Ethiopia is being leased out, on 99-year renewable contracts at nominal sums to foreign corporations. The land giveaway or agrarian reforms as the government would prefer to present them began in 2008 when the Ethiopian government, under the brutal suppressive Premiership of Meles Zenawi invited foreign countries/corporation to take up highly attractive deals and turn large areas of land over to industrial farming for the export of crops. India, China and Saudi Arabia were all courted and along with wealthy Ethiopians have eagerly grabbed large pieces of land at basement prices; rates vary from $1.10 to $6.05 per hectare (HA), comparable land in India would set you back $600 per ha.

A total of 3,619,509 ha, the Oakland Institute (OI), a US based think tank, estimate has been leased out. Land made available by the forced re-location of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people under the government’s universally condemned Villagization progamme, which aims to forcibly re-locate over 1.5 million people from their homes.

Indian corporations have taken the lion’s share, acquiring around 600,000 ha concentrated in Gambella and Afar, split between 10 investing companies. The term ‘investing’ implies benefits for Ethiopia, which is misleading; ‘profiteering’, or ‘exploiting’ sits closer to the truth of these land deals, as the OI make clear, “taking over land and natural resources from rural Ethiopians, is resulting in a massive destruction of livelihoods and making millions of locals [farmers and pastoralist communities] dependent on food handouts”. With small scale farmers being evicted from their land, prices of staples such as Teff, used by millions throughout Ethiopia to make Injera (bread), has rocketed in price, according to Ethiotribune 22/5/2012, increasing fourfold since 2008.

Corporate expansionism: small change big profits

In line with its ambitions of diversity and world food dominance – Karuturi Global, the world’s largest grower of roses, leads the Indian charge, leasing 311,700 ha in Gambella. Not satisfied with this, GRAIN (an international NGO, working to support small farmers) report Mr.Karuturi “wants to set up farming operations [throughout Eastern and Southern Africa] on more than 1 million [ha]” – too much never enough in corporate expansionism.

Almost a quarter of Gambella’s 25 million ha has been earmarked by the federal government for agricultural ‘development’. Karuturi, whose profits “rose 55.13% to Rs 1.21 crore [10 million] in the quarter ended June 2012”, took their chunk without even seeing it, paying only $1.10 per ha. For the Indian giant it is, John Vidal in ‘Land Grab Ethiopia (LGE)’ says, “the sale of the century”. ‘Green Gold’ is how Mr. Karuturi in GRAIN (‘Who’s Behind the Land Deals’), describes his 300,000 ha of Ethiopian soil, “for which he pays $46 per ha per year including water and labour and expects at least $660 [per ha] in profit per year”. (Ibid)

In addition to paddy, Indian farmers are being sub-contracted to grow maize, cereals, palm oil and sugarcane amongst others. All of which are destined for export, either to India or Europe, where companies farming in Ethiopia (and other Sub-Saharan African nations), benefit from lower import duties applied to developing countries, notwithstanding the fact that the land is leased to, and the crops produced and sold by, multi million-rupee rich companies.

Another major Indian company leasing land in Gambella is the decidedly green sounding BHO Bioproducts. Following the corporate rhetoric, BHO Chief Operating Officer Sunny Maker told Bloomberg in 2010 that, they have “plans to invest more than $120 million in rice and cotton production”, which, by 2017, should “generate about $135 million a year from sales divided equally between domestic [Indian] and international markets.” He added that the “incredibly rich fertile land”, will all be “cleared within the next three years”. Cleared yes, violently, indiscriminately and totally; villages, people, forests, woodland, all destroyed, burnt, relocated, displaced, desecrated. The governments promise to such prized investors is that the land is handed over stripped of everything and everyone. Dissent is not allowed and dealt with brutally should it occur, as Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of OI makes clear. “The repression of social resistance to land investments is even stipulated in land lease contracts, [it is the] state’s obligation to ‘deliver and hand over the vacant possession of leased land free of impediments’ and to provide free security ‘against any riot, disturbance or any turbulent time.”

The ‘rich fertile land’, lovingly cultivated at the hands of the men and women who have farmed it for generations, is unlikely to be nurtured so carefully by Indian (or indeed Chinese or Saudi Arabian) corporations with their thirsty ‘GM seeds’ (Ibid). For as Oxfam in their detailed report ‘Land and Power’ diplomatically point out, “investors short time scales may tempt them into unsustainable cultivation, undermining agricultural production.”

The devolution of development

Land is a prime cut asset in the commercialization of everything, everywhere, and the “rich fertile land” in Ethiopia is cheap, even by Sub-Saharan African standards. Along with long-term leases, the government offers a neat bundle of carrots, including tax incentives and unrestricted export clauses, incentives that the OI state “deny African countries economic benefits” from land deals that the Ethiopian regime wraps up neatly in its complete disregard for the human rights of the indigenous people. Government indifference encouraging corporate irresponsibility – and they need little encouragement. Businesses hardly seem to be grabbing the land, so much as accepting it as a gift, parceled up and ready to be torn open.

In exchange for such attractive deals, the Ethiopian government has been extended, the OI reports “a $640 million line of credit… over five years to boost sugar production in the country’s Lower Omo region”. Not a philanthropic gesture, more a sales trap by India’s EXIM (export and import) Bank, who stipulate, “Ethiopia must import 75% of the value of the credit line in the form of Indian goods and services.”

The government-owned sugar plantations in the Lower Omo are themselves attracting a great deal of concern and criticism from human rights groups, who highlight the environmental and human damage being perpetrated. Government acts of violence and abuse, in the various land deal regions, are justified under the overused and misleading title of ‘development’; a term appropriated by the international monetary machine – the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) primarily – misunderstood and distorted by government development agencies, acting in line with foreign affairs policies by promoting national self interest and perverted by the corrupt ideologically-blinkered governments of developing nations. An undeveloped ideological trinity whose actions have drained the 21st century sacred cow and its stable mate ‘growth’ – dry of any true and relevant meaning. Far from supporting human and or social development the “unfair terms and near give-away prices [of land deals]… are hindering development…. Foreign corporations and the World Bank are pressuring African leaders to give them exemptions from taxes, import and export duties, and local labor laws – not to mention water and mineral rights that could be worth billions”, the OI confirm.

More concerned with sitting at the top table and cultivating the right international allies than with doing their constitutional duty and serving the needs of the people, the Ethiopian government is in danger of giving away, and for peanuts, it’s ‘rich and fertile’ land to overseas companies who have no interest in Ethiopia, it’s environment, its culture and even less in its people.

Increasing hunger

Hunger and poverty stalk the land of both Ethiopia and India. 12 – 15 million people survive on food aid in Ethiopia, which ranks at the bottom of the World Hunger Index at 76. India, with the highest rate of malnourished children in the world, where 25% (around 270 million) of the world’s hungry live, despite the fact that, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), “the country grows enough food for its people”, comes in 65th of the hungriest nations, below Niger and the Sudan – neither of which, to my knowledge, boast 61 billionaires and 200,000 dollar millionaires unlike India. And whereas “most countries have made consistent progress in reducing hunger, India has seen hunger rise over the last decade compared with the late 1990s.”(Ibid) This so-called economic miracle nation refuses to feed it’s own people.

Food insecurity, the WFP makes clear is caused not by lack of produce, but by an unwillingness to share the Earths bounty equitably. The states in India with the greatest numbers suffering from hunger and malnutrition, as per WFP records, “include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh”; these are the states where the poorest (Adivasi – indigenous and Dalit) people in the country and quite possibly in the World happen to live. The poor are dying of hunger not because India cannot feeed everyone, as the United Nations report on regional cooperation makes crystal clear, “the root cause of hunger across the sub-region and the world today is not a lack of food. It is the economic and social distribution of that food which leaves populations undernourished and hungry.”

Men women and children living in dire poverty starve to death, in India, Ethiopia and throughout the world. They starve and die for want of the food that is rotting in warehouses, food served up to rats or destroyed by the Indian government, because it is cheaper to burn it than to distribute it to those in need. As Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (26/01/13) said, “globally, a third of all food produced is wasted, and… if one could avoid this waste it would be possible to feed all the hungry people [in the world] and have food to spare.” Food to spare!Such is the inhumane ethos that underpins market fundamentalism, that allows men women and children, young and old to starve – simply because the do not have the financial means to feed themselves. Shame on governments Indian and the rest, that allow such inhumane injustice to prevail, as a wise teacher said, “throughout the world there are men, women and little children who have not even the essentials to stay alive; they crowd the cities of many of the poorest countries in the world… My brothers, how can you watch these people die before your eyes and call yourselves men”.

The commercialization of the countryside in India and Ethiopia, which is displacing large numbers of small-scale farmers and concentrating crop production in the hands of multi-nationals, is intensifying existing levels of hunger. Substantive agricultural reform and real development would see the army of skilled small scale producers, with generations of local knowledge and love of the land, supported with the needed capital and technology, given access to markets that corporations bring. Such an agrarian revolution, ethically founded, environmentally healthy and socially sustained, would build long-term food security and feed the hungry.

Soft targets easy profits

India as the WFP makes clear, has no domestic need for food produced by the overseas industrial farms that are causing such far-reaching damage, to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people of Ethiopia as well as the natural environment. The movement in Ethiopia mirrors what is taking place to a much greater degree in India. The government has shifted all support away from Indian farmers and is supporting the transfer of land from the rural poor to large companies – wealthy government benefactors, causing the displacement of millions (60 million to date, according to Arundhati Roy) of indigenous people.

Corporations are targeting countries with “poor governance”, Oxfam 7/02/2013 makes clear, that “allow investors to secure land quickly and cheaply…. [They] “Seem to be cherry picking countries with weak rules and regulations”. Needy nations like hungry people make easy targets for multi-national men, whose pockets governments are desperate to nestle inside. The driving force behind such destructive land developments, undertaken by corporations obsessed by an insatiable desire for growth and world leading economic development, is, as Oxfam suggests, profit and profit alone.

Graham Peebles is director of the Create Trust. He can be reached at: graham@thecreatetrust.org

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Green Green Gold of Ethiopia

Number of natives in Canada’s prisons alarming: Officials

Press TV – March 8, 2013

A Canadian official says the number of aboriginals including Métis and Inuit in Canada’s prisons is increasing at ‘an alarming rate’.

According to a statement issued by the Correctional Investigator of Canada Howard Sapers on Thursday, “There are just over 3,400 aboriginal men and women making up 23 percent of the country’s federal prison inmate population.”

“In other words, while aboriginal people in Canada comprise just four percent of the population, in federal prisons nearly one in four is Métis, Inuit, or First Nations,” he added.

He went on to say that “the over-representation of aboriginal people in federal corrections and the lack of progress to improve the disparity in correctional outcomes continues to cloud Canada’s domestic human rights record.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s official opposition party, the New Democrats, issued a statement saying “What we find in this report is a shocking indictment of how… (Ottawa) has failed aboriginal Canadians.”

Also, former Supreme Court Justice Frank Lacobucci has revealed in a study that the aboriginal youths are treated more harshly by the justice system than other groups.

Lacobucci showed in a study that about one quarter of young native offenders were sent to jail for assault, in contrast to less than 15 percent of non-aboriginal youth.

He severely criticized the Canadian judicial system for “systemic racism” and stated that the jailing of aboriginals is a “serious crisis.”

In 2012, the United Nations called on Canada to take “urgent measures” to reduce the overrepresentation of aboriginals and blacks in the criminal justice system and out-of-home care.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Palestinian Solidarity an Occupied Zone?

By Gilad Atzmon | March 9, 20013

Once involved with Palestinian Solidarity you have to accept that Jews are special and so is their suffering; Jews are like no other people, their Holocaust is like no other genocide and anti Semitism, is the most vile form of racism the world has ever known and so on and so forth.

But when it comes to the Palestinians, the exact opposite is the case. For some reason we are expected to believe that the Palestinians are not special at all –  they are just like everyone else. Palestinians have not been subject to a unique, racist, nationalist and expansionist Jewish nationalist movement, instead, we must all agree that, just like the Indians and the Africans, the Palestinian ordeal results from run-of-the-mill 19th century colonialism – just more of the same old boring Apartheid.

So, Jews, Zionists and Israelis are exceptional, like no one else, while Palestinians are always somehow, ordinary, always part of some greater political narrative, always just like everyone else. Their suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, or Jewish racism, or even AIPAC dominating USA foreign policy no, the Palestinian is always a victim of a dull, banal dynamic – general, abstract and totally lacking in particularity.

This raises some serious questions.

Can you think of any other liberation or solidarity movement that prides itself in being boring, ordinary and dull? Can you think of any other solidarity movement that downgrades its subject into just one more meaningless exhibit in a museum of materialist historical happenings? I don’t think so! Did the black South Africans see themselves as being like everyone else? Did Martin Luther King believe his brothers and sisters to be inherently indistinguishable?

I don’t think so. So how come Palestinian solidarity has managed to sink so low that their spokespersons and supporters compete against each other to see who can best eliminate the uniqueness of the Palestinian struggle into just part of a general historical trend such as colonialism or Apartheid?

The answer is simple. Palestinian Solidarity is an occupied zone and, like all such occupied zones must dedicate itself to the fight against ‘anti Semitism’. Dutifully united against racism, fully engaged with LGBT issues in Palestine and in the movement itself, but for one reason or another, the movement is almost indifferent towards the fate of millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps and their Right of Return to their homeland.

But all this can change. Palestinians and their supporters could begin to see their cause for what it is, unique and distinctive. Nor need this be all that difficult.  After all, if Jewish nationalism is inherently exceptional as Zionists proclaim, is it not only natural that the victims of such a distinctive racist endeavor are at least, themselves, just as distinctive.

So far, Palestine solidarity has failed to liberate Palestine, but it has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in creating a Palestine Solidarity Industry, and one largely funded by liberal Zionists. We have been very productive in schlepping activists around the world promoting ‘boycotts’ and ‘sanctions’ meanwhile Israel trade with Britain is booming  and Hummus Tzabar is clearly apparent in every British grocery store.

All those attempts to reduce the Palestinian ordeal into a dated, dull, generalised materialist narrative should be exposed for what they are – an attempt to appease liberal Zionists. Palestinian suffering is actually unique in history at least as unique as the Zionist project.

Yesterday I came across this from South African minister Ronnie Kasrils. In a comment on Israeli Apartheid he said : “This is much worse than Apartheid… Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had Jets attacking our townships; we never had sieges that lasted months after months. We never had tanks destroying houses.”

Kasrils is dead right. It is much worse than Apartheid and far more sophisticated than colonialism. And why? Because what the Zionists did and are doing is neither Apartheid nor is it colonialism. Apartheid wanted to exploit the African, Israel wants the Palestinian gone. Colonialism is an exchange between a mother and a settler state. Israel never had a mother State, though it may well have had a few ‘surrogate mothers’.

Now is the time to look at the unique ordeal of the Palestinian people. Similarly, now is the time to look at the Zionist crime in the light of Jewish culture and identity politics.

Can the solidarity movement meet this challenge? Probably, but like Palestine, it must first, itself, be liberated.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Speaks at AIPAC

By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | March 7, 2013

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, was in comfortable territory at the current AIPAC policy conference meeting in Washington, D.C.

I have deconstructed his arguments before, as he reiterates the current Harper government of Canada position in its unqualified support for Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and all that goes along with that. I will not repeat those arguments here as they are the same old-same old regurgitations of support for the militaristic Israeli state from a Canadian government that does not truly represent the majority of the people of Canada.

Baird presents the same arguments about Palestine living up to all previous agreements without recognizing that Israel has a lot to live up to as well; in particular that the UN Security Council has previously recognized withdrawal from occupied territories and the right of return of refugees. And as usual, the fault of the violence is the very nature of Arab/Palestinian social-political life, a mythology that Israel and its western supporters are careful to nurture.

What interested me most about his current statements, apart from the ego flattering standing ovations the AIPAC audience rendered unto him, are his comments about stopping aid to the Palestinian National Authority. Baird threatened a similar stopping of aid during the vote to recognize Palestine at the UN, then backed off after the overwhelming support displayed for Palestine.

These threats are being renewed again, against Palestine taking Israel to the International Criminal Court, but one has to wonder if the Canadian government is really aware of what the consequences of that cut might be.

Most of Canada’s aid to Israel is bound into corporate military research and development, including the realm of security and surveillance. The aid to the Palestinian Authority helps the PA maintain their fragile grip on the Palestinian population as it is used for similar areas of security, surveillance, and support for the few Palestinian elites who harvest the aid supplies for their own benefit. The Canadian military and the Canadian national police force, the RCMP, serve as trainers for the PA authorities own militarized units.

So what happens if the aid to Palestine is cut? Many things are possible, the most counterproductive one from the Israeli perspective would be the decrease in the control that the PA is able to exert over the Palestinian population on its behalf as the money supplies dry up. The Palestinian economy, such as it is, mainly in the West Bank, where the majority of the funds are utilized, would suffer even more.

With more economic weakness, and with a weakened PA no longer able to buy influence among its own people, the Palestinians would certainly be more restive and perhaps more aggressive towards their own elites as well as the Israelis – a third intifada would become more probable. Of course, more Palestinian violence would only make the current Canadian government say, “See, we told you they were a violent people,” and so the mythology of Israeli victimization will continue.

It would be a good thing perhaps to shed the yoke and burden of foreign control bought by the power of foreign dollars manipulating the economy and political scene in Palestine. The outcomes of such a cut are indeterminate, but usually in the world of political manipulation, unexpected outcomes are to be expected. For that reason alone, one can expect John Baird and the Harper government to prevaricate over cuts for some time to come.

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Speaks at AIPAC

Free to go…not! Syrian rebels backpedal over UN hostages

RT | March 8, 2013

The Syrian rebels who captured a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers failed to release them despite earlier promises to hand over the hostages to the Red Cross, the Philippines government said.

The Syrian militant group that had captured 21 blue helmet troops in Golan Heights is sticking to its initial demands, said the spokesman for the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez. After seizing the peacekeepers on Wednesday, the Syrian rebels demanded that Syrian government forces withdraw from the village of Jamlah in exchange for the release of the captives.

The abrupt change of plans appears a sign of discord among the Syrian rebel group, which is detaining the Filipinos. Earlier on Friday they seemed to have played down their demands, calling the hostages “guests” and stressing that they would not harm them.

It comes after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video showing some of the 21 peacekeepers, with one man – who identified himself as a captain in the UN Philippines battalion – saying that he and his men are in “a safe place.”

The peacekeepers were taken by Syrian rebels in Golan Heights, a territory that Israel captured from Syria in 1967. The land grab was not recognized as legitimate by either Syria or the international community.

The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974. As of late January, there were more than 1,000 troops and about 100 civilian personnel deployed there.

A flurry of condemnation followed the ill-fated capture, as the countries and organizations usually seen as supporters of the Syrian armed opposition demanded their freedom. The US called it “absolutely unacceptable,” while the EU called such moves “serious breaches of international law.”

The UN and the Philippines government had condemned the capture of the peacekeepers and urged the insurgents to immediately release them. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said the seizure of the UN observers showed “gross disrespect for the United Nations.”

It’s not clear whether the militant group had changed their intentions about the hostages due to the international pressure or because they thought that holding UN personnel does not give them enough leverage on the Syrian government to force their troops out of Jamlah.

The incident will not make the UN withdraw its peacekeeping force from the Golan Heights, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on Free to go…not! Syrian rebels backpedal over UN hostages

Сhina considers investing $40 billion in US shale oil

RT | March 07, 2013

China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s state-run oil major, is looking for its first stake in the US, as the three largest Chinese oil companies together plan to spend $40 billion to access US crude riches.

The announcement came on Wednesday from Jiang Jiemin, the chairman of china’s biggest oil company during the National People’s Congress in Beijing, Bloomberg reports. “We are currently studying [investing in US oil], ” Jiang Jiemin said.

Last month CNPC’s domestic competitor China Petrochemical Corporation agreed to buy a stake in an Oklahoma oil field from Chesapeake Energy for $1.02 billion.

A trend is unfolding for Chinese oil companies to use government loans to buy stakes in the US energy fields.

“Stake participation by Chinese companies in US oil fields would be welcomed,” a London-based analyst for Global Energy & Natural Resources at Eurasia Group, Will Pearson told Bloomberg. “Full buyouts will continue to be scrutinized and opposed.”

China already owns many entire oil and gas fields across Canada and Latin America, Africa and Australia. However the US is not rushing to sell off their fields, especially in the regions where military or other technology can be accessed for fear of intellectual property theft, Pearson said. In September 2012 President Obama barred a Chinese-owned company from building wind farms near a US Navy base in Oregon as a national security risk.

“The Chinese want to gain experience in shale gas, oil sands and deep water so they can redeploy the best US practices and technologies” back in China says Mirae Asset Securities Ltd. analyst Gordon Kwan.

China has already invested a record $1.52 billion purchasing stakes in oil and natural gas fields in the US this year, Bloomberg reports. China National Petroleum alone plans to double overseas production to 200 million tonnes a year by 2015.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Comments Off on Сhina considers investing $40 billion in US shale oil