Pigs at the Trough

Thirty-five international oil companies have qualified to bid for future oil and gas contracts to develop one of the world’s largest oil fields, an Iraqi oil ministry statement said Sunday.

“The total number of the companies and consortia that participated in the prequalification process was 120 from various nationalities,” said the ministry’s petroleum contracts and licensing office.

The office listed 35 companies that it said were qualified. They include, among others, BP PLC, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Lukoil Holdings, China National Petroleum Corp., Edison International SpA and Eni SpA.

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Being a torture architect -Stephen Hadley- doesn’t preclude you from going on tv to war pimp.

Please no not Berlusconi again!

Shin Bet admits it threatens the families of suspects.

And that polygamy cult got US defence contracts, as Republican tries stand up career-

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, the Fort Worth Republican who sits on the House Appropriations Committee that deals with issues of defense, military and homeland security, said she is surprised that the federal government is doing business with a group accused of mistreating women and children.

And we’re back to the torture regime in the Whitehouse. Interesting background on another torture architect -William Haynes II- at Mask of Anarchy

Haynes’ role as chief corporate counsel could have serious repercussions for Chevron’s ongoing battle in Ecuador relating to a charge of environmental damage…

During the course of the investigations, Chevron has been accused of “engaging in a pattern of vicious,defamatory and unethical attacks” . These attacks include full page advertisements accusing Cabrera of being a criminal, stalking him whilst he was completing his fieldwork and filing a separate motion with another court to have him removed from the case. In fact, the harassment became so grave, that the trial judge ‘ordered security agents to keep Chevron representatives away from Cabrera so he could complete his field work without interference or fear of intimidation’.

James at Mahatma X Files finds an alarming instance of waterboarding in a corporate training seminar-

it’s widely acknowledged that the supervisor, Joshua Christopherson, then told the assembled sales team, whose numbers had been lagging: “You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales.”

What’s interesting to note is that as the stories of human rights violations have become merely part of the background noise of our lives, there’s been something of a spill-over effect in our everyday lives…

When discussing torture and genocide a couple years ago, I mentioned distal causes of torture, which we can think of as the “background noise” that exists in our society that makes us more prone to accept and engage in the odious practice. In a way, our mass media has normalized torture practices, discounted the role of policy (those grunts caught doing torture end up being “bad apples”), and played up the myth of American Exceptionalism. Under such circumstances, it was only a matter of time before a supervisor in a sales office concocted “waterboarding” as a team-building exercise.

Taser Creep

More evidence that what Tasers do culturally is not replace lethal force so much as cause electrocution to become a method of forcing compliance in situations that firearms would never have even been considered for. They are weaponising a whole range of incidents, a pocket size mobile personal shock treatment for “individuals with drink, drugs or psychological problems” delivered by security forces-

Police chiefs were criticised yesterday for using Taser stun guns to handle routine public order situations involving people under the influence of alcohol, and the mentally ill.

An official report on the use of “less-lethal weapons” since the wider use of Tasers was approved last year has revealed that the vast majority of incidents involved individuals with drink, drugs or psychological problems.

The report shows that, in the four months after ministers extended situations in which Tasers – which deliver a 50,000-volt shock to victims, temporarily immobilising them – could be used, officers in England and Wales drew the weapons 390 times and fired them in one in three incidents. Of the 390 incidents, 150 involved cases of “drunkenness” and 150 related to people suffering from “psychological problems or mental illness”. A further 60 cases involved people under the influence of drugs, while 20 more had significant health problems. Four of the people involved were under 18.

The former home secretary David Blunkett allowed police chiefs in England and Wales in 2004 to issue Tasers to authorised firearms officers. Ministers have since increased the numbers of officers authorised to use them “where facing violence or threats of violence”. Rates of deployment have risen from around 25 a month to almost 100.

Shami Chakrabati, director of the human rights group Liberty, said yesterday : “We have always been sold Tasers on the basis that, in extreme circumstances, they would be safer than firearms. If they are being used for routine convenience, then our worst fears about encouraging trigger-happy policing would be realised.”

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Terrorists May Be Under Your Bed RIGHT NOW!

Won’t someone tell us how afraid we should be and make us understand how the best solution is to become a police state? Hang on here comes Home Secretary Jacqui Smith!

British police and security agencies are keeping tabs on 30 terror plots, Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, has told a Sunday newspaper.

“There are 22,000 individuals who are being monitored. There are 200 networks involved and 30 active plots,” Smith said in an interview with the News of the World. “We now face a threat level that is severe. It’s actually growing,” the home secretary said. Smith said the level of threat showed why the British government is seeking legislation to extend the detention of terror suspects to 42 days from the current 28-day limit.

“We task the police and the security agencies with protecting us. Frankly, if they say to me it’s getting more difficult and we need more time to investigate thoroughly, it is my duty to provide them with the tools they need,” Smith said. “We can’t wait for an attack to succeed and then rush in new powers. We have got to stay ahead.”

Frankly I’m disappointed she didn’t end with something about mushroom clouds and nerve gas. But good on her for taking it to the News of the World where the lower intelligence of the general readership is no challenge to her fabulous fearmongering. Lucky she had this detention without charge habeas schmabeas plan to promote at the same time she made these unverifiable claims of Apocaterrorlypse!

And people it’s already in place to hold you and question you for four weeks without any charge at all or put another way the police can imprison you for four weeks, no courts, no charges. But the real deal is this, when you give police the opportunity to rely on weeks of interrogation (utilising all those special techniques shared from the CIA to the IDF to Northern Ireland) they have little incentive to do, y’know, actual police work. Why bother with expensive and difficult intelligent policing when you can create criminals -and thus career enhancing results- from just your suspicions and four weeks of fun? It’s a charter for good police to be sidelined while ‘results orientated’ officers create today, tomorrow’s new Birmingham Six and Guildford Four.

David Heathcoat-Amory, Not At All Racist, Honest

The House of Commons, held up as a beacon of democracy, has a ‘dirty little secret’, according to black MPs – its racism. Dawn Butler, only the third black woman ever to have become an MP, said she faced such frequent racism from politicians of all parties that she had to ‘pick her battles’ to avoid being constantly in conflict with her colleagues.

In an article written for the Fawcett Society’s new collection of essays, Seeing Double: Race and Gender in Ethnic Minority Women’s Lives, Butler describes how former Tory minister David Heathcoat-Amory confronted her as she went to sit in the members’ section on the terrace. ‘He actually said to me: “What are you doing here? This is for members only.”

‘He then proceeded to ask me: “Are you a member?” And I said: “Yes I am, are you?” And he turned around and said to his colleague: “They’re letting anybody in nowadays.”

‘This man could not equate the image he saw in front of him with that of an MP. It was quite upsetting for my team and so we had to take it further.’

In an interview with The Observer, Butler went on to describe how an official complaint she made was stonewalled. ‘It’s not as though Parliament has a human resources department that you can complain to and expect disciplinary action from,’ Butler said. ‘So after being told by the Tory chief whip and the Speaker of the House that there was nothing to be done about it, I had no choice but to let it drop.’

Heathcoat-Amory, MP for Wells, rejected the allegation that his remarks to Butler in September 2006 were racist. ‘It is quite absurd,’ he said. ‘What she is actually objecting to is that I didn’t recognise her as a new MP. I simply asked her what she was doing at that end of the terrace, and they are quite sensitive about this kind of thing, they think that any kind of reprimand from anyone is racially motivated.’ He agreed that there was a problem with too few black and minority ethnic MPs being elected.

beacon of democracy“? Anyway, Heathcoat-Amory, “They’re letting anybody in nowadays.” & “they are quite sensitive about this kind of thing, they think that any kind of reprimand from anyone is racially motivated.” They David, they? You mean the Right Honourable Member, ‘reprimand’ used to having servants are we? Oh boy, start planning on spending more time with your family. The article goes on to show how most MP’s being male and white and relatively wealthy are dismissive of the staff and when it came to this black woman MP they would often assume she was a cleaner and treat her with little respect, racism, sexism, classism- yep, beacon of democracy.

Zohra Moosa, editor of the Fawcett Society book, said: ‘With only two black women MPs and not a single Asian woman, Parliament has never once been representative of Britain. There is no excuse for an unrepresentative democracy in this day and age but, until we change the way our institutions work, we will never have the politicians we need.’