Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Hatred of an American oil company

Corrupt NY officials aid and abet a corrupt prosecution in Ecuador

Chevron is not backing down to New York State officials who are pressuring the company to settle a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that involves plaintiffs from Ecuador who are suing over alleged environmental damages.

On Oct. 7, Chevron submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in an effort to flush out and detail the assistance he and his predecessor Alan Hevesi furnished to the plaintiffs’ lawyers and the consultants.

The litigation began in New York back in 1993, but the case was moved to Ecuador a decade later. Although Chevron has never operated in Ecuador, it purchased Texaco Petroleum in 2001, which was the subject of the initial suit. Plaintiffs accused Texaco of dumping oil-drilling waste in unlined pits they claim later contaminated the forest and caused illness to the local population. In response, Chevron pointed out that Texaco remediated environmental impacts that resulted from its operations. Moreover, this remediation was certified by government agencies in Ecuador.

“All legitimate scientific evidence submitted during the litigation in Ecuador proves that TexPet’s remediation was effective and that the sites it remediated pose no unreasonable risks for human health or the environment,” Chevron officials have pointed out. Moreover, Ecuador’s state-owned company, Petroecuador, was actually the majority owner of the consortium that included Texaco and bears responsibility, with the government of Ecuador, for any environmental damage that has occurred in the region, Chevron has argued.

Nevertheless, in Feb., an Ecuadorian court in Lago Agrio issued an $18 billion judgment against Chevron. Since then the company has fought back vigorously. It claims the ruling is illegitimate and unenforceable because of documented evidence of fraud on the part of the plaintiffs, the Ecuadorian government and that country’s judiciary. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York concurred after hearing the evidence and issued a preliminary injunction that barred any attempt to enforce Ecuadorian judgment outside of that country.

Diapoli has leaned on Chevron to settle the suit claiming that it could impact the state pension fund’s $780 million investment in Chevron stock, according to a report in the New York Times. The plaintiffs working through their representatives have also cajoled DiNapoli into taking a public stand against Chevron, the report says.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also interjected himself into the case while serving as state attorney general at the behest of an aide who was being paid $10,000 a month by a group that collaborated with the plaintiffs the New York Times reported.

Chevron has filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) suit that claims plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants provided “clandestine assistance” to the Ecuadorian court in drafting the judgment against Chevron.

Chevron’s RICO suit alleges that the defendants and key co-conspirators have used the lawsuit to threaten the company, dupe U.S. government officials and harass Chevron employees. Those named in the suit include: New York City-based plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger; his Ecuadorian colleagues Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza; their front organizations, the Amazon Defense Front and Selva Viva; and Stratus Consulting, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm.

Donziger, the New York attorney, has stepped down as the lead attorney and has declined to make any recent media comments. The plaintiffs have reacted to recent developments through Pablo Fajardo, an attorney in Ecuador.

Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, has issued a preliminary injunction order against RICO defendants. The order “enjoins and restrains” the defendants from receiving any benefits, directly or indirectly, until after a final determination is made about the RICO suit.



Ireland Versus Greece: A clear lesson for America

America's Celtic cousins have chosen the right path

Ireland’s refusal to bow to Eurozone pressure on tax hikes has resulted in slow but steady economic growth on the Emerald Isle — while Greece’s insistence on tax hikes in lieu of tougher “austerity” measures has crippled its economy and threatened to plunge the Eurozone (and the world) into another recession.

What lessons should U.S. policymakers take from these divergent paths? That’s easy — if economic recovery is truly your goal, cut government instead of raising taxes.

Last January, an EU report revealed the Greek deficit was 12.7 percent of GDP — more than three times its government’s previous estimate (and more than four times the amount permitted under EU rules). Three months later, that figure was adjusted upward to 13.6 percent of GDP.

Ireland’s situation wasn’t much better. From 2008-2010 government spending climbed from 42.8 percent to 67 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Ireland’s debt quadrupled over roughly the same period to more than 100 percent of GDP as Dublin took a page out of Washington D.C.’s “too big to fail” playbook.

Having forced Greece into adopting a host of new tax increases, Eurozone nations eager to enhance their own competitiveness tried to force Ireland into raising its 12.5 percent corporate income tax rate to a level more in line with rates in France (33 percent) Germany (30 percent), Spain (30 percent) and Great Britain (28 percent). Irish leaders wisely rejected this demand, however, recognizing that such a tax hike would eliminate a key competitive advantage and hamstring their economic recovery.

They were correct.

“Ireland was Europe’s second fastest growing economy in the second quarter of this year, expanding at an annual rate of 2.3 percent,” bond analyst Michael Hasenstab wrote recently. “The recovery in GDP growth in turn helped Ireland to meet and exceed the deficit-reduction targets set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.”

Hasenstab also noted that foreign direct investment climbed by 19 percent during the first six months of 2011 due to Ireland’s competitive tax climate and comparatively light regulations.

Meanwhile in Greece – which imposed higher corporate, value-added, fuel, luxury and property taxes – GDP is projected to slump by 5.5 percent this year, and another 2.5 percent next year. Meanwhile Greek debt – forecast to climb to €357 billion this year (or 162 percent of GDP) — will soar to 173 percent of GDP next year.

Clearly, Ireland will be in a much better position to weather the consequences of a possible Eurozone collapse than Greece — or for that matter Portugal, Spain or Italy.

And while European nations are doing everything within their power to plug a growing number of holes in the dam, it’s looking increasingly like “when” not “if” this collapse occurs.

Earlier this month Great Britain authorized another £75 billion worth of quantitative easing — in addition to the £200 it has previously approved. Meanwhile the European Central Bank announced it was authorizing another €40 billion in emergency loans on top of the €60 billion it already approved. A few weeks ago, Dexia — the Franco-Belgian bank that was bailed out in 2008 to the tune of €6.4 billion — received another bailout along with state guarantees of up to €90 billion to finance borrowing over the coming decade.

And of course there’s a second Greek bailout on the way that’s likely to top €110 billion.

In light of America’s deteriorating economic and financial position, when should our leaders press the panic button?

“For Greece, crisis came when its debt reached 137 percent of its economy,” U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint recently warned. “For Ireland, it was 74 percent. For Portugal, it was 82 percent. Every country and every crisis is unique, but with the United States debt-to-GDP ratio at 102 percent, there is no question we are already well within the debt ‘red zone.’”

What’s becoming abundantly clear, though, is that once that button is pressed — the key to surviving a debt crisis is cutting government, not the economy.



Occupy Wall Street’s Anti-Semitic Slurs Ignored by the Left

The President and his buddies seem to be fans of the “Occupy” movement. Some even claim they created it. They neglect to mention that there is a great deal of hate and even violence in this group.



Equally Poorer

As President Obama continues to base his reelection hopes on resentment toward the "1 percent" who are supposedly not "paying their fair share," the latest evidence suggests that his attacks are still off-target.

According to data just released by the Tax Foundation, the top 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans earned 16.9 percent of all adjusted gross income in the United States. While no doubt that's a lot of money, it actually represents a decline from 2008, when the rich earned 20 percent of all income. That's right; the rich are earning a smaller proportion of U.S. income.

In fact, there has been a 39 percent decline in the number of American millionaires since 2007. Among the so-called super rich, the decline has been even sharper. The number of Americans earning more than $10 million per year has fallen by 55 percent. Perhaps someone should tell the folks in Zuccotti Park: Inequality is actually declining.

Interestingly, the decline in earnings by the rich has corresponded with higher unemployment and rising poverty overall. We are all poorer, but at least we are more equally poor. Hooray.

Could it be that the rich might actually perform a valuable service in our economy by, say, creating jobs? After all, what does the president think that the rich do with their money: Bury it in their back yard? In reality, individuals either spend that money or they save and invest it. If they spend it, it helps provide jobs for the people who make and sell whatever it is they buy. If the money is instead saved and invested, it provides the capital that is needed to start businesses and hire workers. It is trite but true — not many Americans have been hired by a poor person.

As for their not paying their fair share, according to the Tax Foundation report, that top 1 percent of earners paid 36.7 percent of all income taxes, an amount that truly does seem disproportionate. The top one-tenth of 1 percent, the truly rich, earned nearly 8 percent of all income but paid a hefty 17 percent of all income taxes.

And while Warren Buffett may, as he claims, be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary, he is clearly an exception. In fact, the effective tax rate paid by the rich has actually gone up in recent years, and now averages roughly 24 percent, compared with an average of 11 percent for all taxpayers. Moreover, as the Tax Foundation points out, the reason that Buffett and those like him pay low effective tax rates is that much of their income is derived from capital gains and dividends, but "income derived from these sources has already been taxed once by the corporate income tax, which is not included in the current study, meaning the average effective tax rate numbers can be somewhat misleading."

All of this may be one reason why, despite the protestations of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, support among Americans for redistribution of the wealth is actually declining. According to the General Social Survey, the number of Americans who believe that "government should reduce income differences between the rich and the poor" has fallen dramatically, with barely a quarter of the population strongly supporting the proposition. And, the biggest decline for redistribution has actually occurred not among the rich but among the working class.

Perhaps the "99 percent" are not quite so seduced by class warfare as President Obama thinks. Or perhaps they understand that, as William J. H. Boetcker once said (in a quotation often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln), "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich."




The numbers refute Keynes, Obama, Krugman: "The actual numbers on consumer spending instantly refute the Keynesian economic proposals favored by President Obama and Paul Krugman. There is no lack of 'consumer demand.' Instead, consumer spending is at an all-time high. Why then do so many small business owners list 'poor sales' as their chief concern? Could it be because they need more sales in order to pay the increased burdens imposed upon them by The State?"

Censoring cash: "Some governments are weighing the outright elimination of cash. Last year, for example, Swedish officials debated going cashless. Cash still circulates, but the prominent Swedbank announced its intention to cease cash transactions in central Sweden with the exception of one Karlstad branch office."

Social cooperation doesn't mean government: "In recent months I’ve drawn attention to the emphasis that free-market liberals historically have placed on social cooperation. Contrary to the partly self-inflicted caricature of the libertarian as an atomistic, rugged, self-reliant individualist, the weightiest thinkers in this tradition have in fact stressed the indispensability of sociality to human well-being."

Occupy Wall Street demands life without hardship: "I watched cable news. The lead story was about Occupy Wall Street -- a group that seems to consist of mostly young, able-bodied, able-minded people with their well-honed sense of entitlement 'protesting' against a country that much of the world would lie, cheat, steal and kill to enter. They finally issued their list of 13 demands. These included, but were not limited to, a 'guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.' Such a life would provide the Occupy folks plenty of time to think up more demands -- while sitting around all day."

I ah tell ya, this shite will blow up on you: "The Iranian government is showing remarkable stupidity in their coverage of OWS. I know, I know, their 1% isn’t on friendly terms with our 1%, so they are happy to see our 99% pissing upward. But, honestly, have they given any thought to what your average Iranian might actually think when he sees coverage of people protesting in the streets? I don’t see how this will improve Yusuf Schmoiani’s opinion of his 1%."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


No comments: