Sunday, July 6, 2014

Free and Fair

I get a kick out of the breathless news that keeps flowing around the NSA's spying on Germany.  We're supposed to be surprised or shocked that the U.S. would hack Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.  Ooohhh!  Say it isn't so!  How could the land of the free and the home of the brave, the house on the hill, the greatest power on Earth, stoop so low as to reduce itself to petty tricks that despotic tyrants use?  Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats reassured Germans that he, "expect(s) this issue to be thoroughly clarified."  Rest well, Germans.  You're about to be bamboozled by political double-speak and the truth will not set you free!  That's for two reasons.  First, you'll never be told the truth.  And second, you've never been free and that's not about to change.  And the 31 year old German who was just arrested - like our dear Edward Snowden - will either be vilified (if he's dumb enough to have played his whole hand) or relegated to anonymous containment (if he's smart enough to keep better dirt on both the U.S. and Germany than what's been leaked to date).  Never mind though, Merkel and Spy-In-Chief Obama were on the heavily tapped phone yesterday talking about Ukraine.  I'm sure the Russians were listening.

I'm a bit surprised at how cheaply intelligence is being sold these days.  According to Bild, this spy only pulled in about 25,000 euros for his trove of documents.  You can't even get a good German car for that to say nothing about the grand old days when spying could get you matching Jaguars!  Like everything else in this damn digital world, Moore's Law is sucking all the premium out of espionage.  In a few more years, James Bond will have to take the Metro and stay at Holiday Inn Express.

And while we're watching Spy vs. Spy play out across the Atlantic, we're ignoring a much greater crime unfold.  Now I know that many of you are tired of hearing about this one but I'm going to keep writing until you pay attention and rise up to take a public stand on a great injustice of our times.  

I don't know how many times the Corporatocracy has been codified into the laws of a country in direct violation of its Constitution but a recent set of events in Papua New Guinea have once again risen to international media attention (everywhere but where investors look or care).  In the 1992 Mining Act of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the laws of the country were expressly forced (by Australian advisors and their Corporate Patrons) to exclude the U.N.  and Australian government authorized Bougainville Copper Agreement Act of 1967.  On June 6, 1967, the Australian company - Bougainville Copper Pty. Limited (owned by Rio Tinto) - negotiated with the "Territory of Papua New Guinea" (read Australian colonial appointed government) to steal the copper and gold from Bougainville.  Steal.  Isn't that a harsh characterization?  Absolutely not.  At no point was there ANY market competition or compensation for the right to develop the resources.  At no point was there ANY objective education of the people from whom the land would be taken to explain what they would receive and what the mine would cost.  And now, 47 years later, NO AUSTRALIAN, MULTI-LATERAL agency, Securities Enforcement Agency, or any other authority is standing in the way of a repeating of the exact same unconscionable acts being carried out by BCL and Rio Tinto today.

On June 25, Bloomberg's David Stringer wrote an article stating that "Proposed Laws May Impact Bougainville Lease."  Bloomberg - a news firm for which I have enormous respect - carelessly reported that Bougainville Copper Ltd (BOC) "controls a number of mining rights on Bougainville, including over the site of the former Panguna mine…," never mentioning the fact that these rights expired with the license over a year ago.  David's in Melbourne.  His "responsible editors" - Jason Rogers, Andrew Hobbs and Madelene Pearson - failed to insure that the reporting was based on facts appealing instead to the overt misrepresentations of the company and its hired guns.

If one reads the denial of Appeal in the case brought by citizens of Bougainville against Rio Tinto (Sarie v. Rio Tinto Plc, 02-56256, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ) one can readily see how far we've come from fairness and the rule of law.  The Court, ruling against the Plaintiffs concluded that "only Plaintiff's claims of genocide and war crimes fall with the limited federal jurisdiction of the Act" (Alien Tort Statute) and that unfortunately, the extraterritorial nature of this genocide and war crimes activity tied the Court's hands from being able to adjudicate the case.  In addition, Rio Tinto contended that they couldn't be held liable because they were a corporation and that the Alien Tort Statute only applies to people.  The Court (both majority and in dissent) found that it would be too imperialistic to use the Courts of the U.S. as the arbiter of genocide and war crimes.  I find that an ironic standard given the fact that U.S. investors, U.S. pensions, and U.S. tax authorities have no problem in benefiting from the activities of Rio Tinto.  When it comes to their revenue and investment income, we have jurisdiction - when it comes to morality and war crimes - not so much.

Rio Tinto and BCL are now working to coerce the Autonomous Government of Bougainville into granting them a de facto supra-legal status in the proposed new mining Act.  During this same time, the citizens of Papua New Guinea and the residents of Bougainville are watching as their government does nothing to pursue the legitimate economic claims due the people - compensation from as far back as 1989 which could be used to actually enable the citizens to have self-determination.  Over PNGK 140 million was earned by investing the people's money held by BCL in Rio Tinto's investments.  The Autonomous Government and the National Government in PNG are not doing anything to insure that this fact is known.  Rather they're letting their brand get sullied by well-meaning but misinformed media outlets who are letting BCL and Rio Tinto drive the message.

This is not right.  You can do something about it.  If you've got a 401(k) chances are you are invested in Rio Tinto.  Let them know that you're not interested in profiting from a Company that has to buy government officials, write laws to subvert citizens' interests, and obfuscate economic benefits so profits can be stolen.  And if you can't find their investor relations address, stop investing.  It's even a greater offense to anonymously support genocide and war crimes while pretending to be helpless in its face.  

We should worry about what's happening in NSA spy rings.  We should be concerned about the fact that we can't win if we haven't bribed the refs.  That's poor form and bad sportsmanship.  But its worse when we've got the facts right in front of our faces and do nothing!  That's a real crime against humanity.  Your own!

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Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave