Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oil Companies the Root of World Terror

Watching the repeat of Bush/oil company carnage in Burma, is enough to make one's blood boil with indignation. While America's corporate owned "media" cover for the slime committing the crimes, big oil crime is simply repeated again and again and again.

Corporations and Human Rights

A shift in the terms of the debate over corporate social responsibility for human rights occurred in 1996. In the previous two years, corporations and governments had touted the positive impact of business and trade in enhancing respect for human rights in countries with widespread violations. They had promised that corporations would bring greater respect for essential human and labor rights, such as freedoms of association and expression, as well as an end to cruelty and discrimination and inequality on the basis of ethnicity or gender. However, during 1996 multinational corporations in several product sectors— Royal Dutch/Shell, British Petroleum Company, Total, Unocal, Freeport-McMoRan, Nike, Disney, Heineken, and Carlsberg, —were placed on the defensive by damaging exposures of corporate complicity in human rights violations. Throughout the year CEOs and corporate directors were stung again and again by charges that their companies had abused workers and propped up repressive governments. Accounts of child labor and sweatshop working conditions stirred public opinion to become human rights issues of broad popular concern. Corporate management defended its presence abroad by citing the advantage of company wage scales over local ones.
These issues were initially publicized by a growing number of activist groups. Frequently, these organizations brought workers on tours of the U.S. to publicize their situations. Extensively covered in the news media, the charges were taken up by consumers and grassroots organizations in Europe, Asia and North America. In a few instances, this had an important positive effect. After protests in Denmark and the Netherlands, both Carlsberg and Heineken decided to sell their shares of a proposed brewery in Burma. Liz Claiborne also decided to end its sourcing from Burma. At the height of the exposures of corporate complicity with human rights abuse, in July, The Economist magazine, reflecting the shift, observed that multinational corporations were increasingly worried about protests against their activities in developing countries. The same issue editorialized that when governments failed to uphold international human rights, the moral burden of responsibility shifted to corporate management.

(It is quite laughable to think of this administration being "burdened" by the moral aspect of anything)

However, with billions of dollars’ worth of investment and profit at stake, most of the business community resisted pressure. Generally corporations in oil, mining and heavy manufacturing made no pretense of concern. A small number in the apparel and footwear industries reacted to negative publicity by expressing a commitment to human rights and took limited steps to address the problems.

In the countries where the companies are headquartered, governments are caught between their promotion of global corporate investment and the expectations they profess about investment advancing human rights. In 1996, political considerations and growing pressure forced many governments to take these issues seriously, yet did not lead to effective or credible policies. There were some exceptions, however. In Germany, the debate on child labor associated with the carpet industry in South Asia intensified due to mounting public concern. Based on consumer outrage over the use of child labor, the German government, beginning in 1993, gave serious consideration to the issue. Initially, Bonn funded the Rugmark campaign, a consumer-based effort to promote rugs produced without child labor. By 1996, the government shifted tactics to mix support of Rugmark and the Indian government-sponsored label with a preference for educational programs for children in South Asia. Nevertheless, the German government granted loan guarantees to Siemens and ABB for work on China’s controversial Three Gorges Dam, which had been criticized internationally for environmental risks and the forcible relocation of more than one million residents of the areas affected by construction.

Human Rights Watch/Middle East took a strong stand criticizing the role of British corporations in pressuring the British government to deport exiled Saudi dissident Dr. Muhammed al-Mas’ari, a spokesman for the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR). Human Rights Watch/Middle East wrote the chairs of the arms corporations Vickers and GKN, both British corporations, citing their reported part in the decision to expel Dr. al-Mas’ari in violation of British law. Vickers is a leading manufacturer of arms and weaponry and a large supplier to the Saudi military. Human Rights Watch/Middle East protested the company’s reducing al-Mas’ari’s right to an asylum hearing to the status of an obstacle to British business and the company’s business.
The Corporate Response

Some corporations displayed a flatly intransigent attitude to human rights criticism of their practices. Before and after the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Royal Dutch/Shell provided both increased financial investment and a diplomatic public relations shield for the Nigerian government. In newspaper advertisements Shell ran in Europe, the company blamed Saro-Wiwa’s execution on those protesting his unfair trial. Likewise, in response to criticisms of its practice of sex discrimination against women workers in its Mexican maquiladoras, the Zenith Corporation, now owned by the South Korean conglomerate Goldstar, acknowledged the use of the practice without apology. In a letter to our Women’s Rights Project, the company justified the discrimination—which is illegal under Mexican law—by citing the prevalence of pregnancy testing in “the local labor market.” In October, despite specific concerns over human rights and environmental issues surrounding the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, in China, the Swiss-Swedish company ABB, a major turbine manufacturer, requested risk guarantees from the Swiss government for the export of its equipment for the dam. The U.S.-based Caterpillar corporation mounted a fierce campaign against a White House-initiated recommendation to deny loan guarantees for U.S. companies involved with the dam. The burgeoning international movement on Burmese human rights drew varied corporate reactions: as noted above, some apparel manufacturers pulled out, as did Pepsi-Cola, while the oil giant, Unocal, remained indifferent to protests.

The United SHAME of America is the fact that American companies behave as ignorant slave barons abroad. Mercenary armies have pillaged the world, treating local populaces as they do in Burma. While, American, British, Canadian, French and Australian media do NOT tell the public that the oil firms OWN the militia in Burma. That is the shock and awe - a media devoid of conscience owned by the corporate owned state of America.

And Alberta, you better cover you butts raising royalities for your gas - you should see what US companies have done around the world to others who wanted a fair share of their own country's resources. Expect the death squads - and the sad part is - I'm not kidding.


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