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Canadian Oil Company Allegedly Requested Assault on Villages

By greenrd in News
Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 03:58:14 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

On May 9, 1999, in Ruweng county, Sudan, "government [of Sudan] bombers, helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery were used against unarmed civilians to clear a 100-kilometer area around the oil fields", to quote Leonardo Franco, former Special Rapporteur for Sudan. "Witnesses reported that over 1,000 government soldiers swept through Ruweng county, wreaking human and material destruction, including destroying 17 churches."

The Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group has been arguing for over two years that the Canadian oil company Talisman is complicit in human rights violations. Now they claim to have a "Smoking Gun" linking Talisman with the Ruweng offensive, which will be used in evidence in an ongoing "ethnic cleansing" class-action suit against Talisman in NYC.

1. Allegations: Ethnic Cleansing, Extrajudicial Killing and Enslavement

In their news release, AASG claim to have come into the possession of an internal Sudanese police document which casts light on alleged Talisman involvement:

The memo, issued on May 7, 1999, reported that "... fulfilling the request of the Canadian Company (Talisman)... the armed forces will conduct cleaning up operations in all villages from Heglig to Pariang."

Two days later, a major offensive was launched and villages from Heglig to Pariang were destroyed. A Canadian Foreign Ministry report described how civilians were killed, homes and whole villages destroyed, foodstocks looted or burned, humanitarian aid forced into flight. It is estimated the attacks reduced the overal population in the county by 50% - all so that oil could be more easily extracted.

The secret document, issued from Petroleum Security Headquarters in Khartoum was cited as part of the amended complaint filed by Carey R. D'Avino, Esq. And Stephen A. Whinston, Esq., of Berger & Montague, P.C. against Talisman and the Republic of Sudan. The complaint is taken on behalf of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, and the Nuer Community Development Services in U.S.A., a charitable organization whose members include more than 10,000 Sudanese refugees currently living in the United States.)

If this evidence is genuine, it would be one of the strongest ever links associating a transnational corporation with orders for a military assault on a civilian population. However, even before this new development, a number of human rights reports (commissioned by both governments and NGOs) have tied the oil companies operating in Sudan to human rights abuses. For example:

"Oil is the justification for the government's scorched-earth strategy---the driving force behind the killings and displacements of tens of thousands of civilians. Not a single oil company has spoken out against this strategy. Oil companies have asked for protection by government forces directly implicated in human rights violations. Company infrastructure, including airstrips and roads, is used in the government's military operations. Oil revenue is funding the expansion of the war."
[Emphasis added]
Christian Aid, The Scorched Earth: Oil and War in Sudan

"[Our] investigation has determined that at least two of the government's helicopter gunships are based at oil facilities in Heglig. Defecting soldiers from the Government of Sudan army base in Heglig and civilian victims of gunship attacks testified to investigators that gunships have flown regular sorties from Heglig to attack civilian settlements.

"The investigators obtained eyewitness accounts from people attacked by gunships in non-government controlled areas of the concession throughout 2000 and 2001. Eyewitnesses identified flight patterns of the attacking helicopters that indicated they came from and returned to Heglig and other oil fields in the concession."
Report by Georgette Gagnon and John Ryle [quoted here]

The ongoing class action suit also alleges a "join strategy" between the government of Sudan and Talisman, involving ethnic cleansing, enslavement and extrajudicial killings (i.e. killings which take place outside international norms of justice). The complaint begins:

This is a class action brought by Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated non-Muslim, African residents of southern Sudan who have been, and are being, damaged by extrajudicial killing (including murder and summary execution), forced displacement, military bombings and assaults on civilian targets, confiscation and destruction of property, kidnappings, rape and slavery, related to or arising from the oil exploration and extraction activities of Defendants Talisman Energy, Inc. ("Talisman") and the Republic of the Sudan ("Sudan" or the "Government"). Defendants have collaborated in a joint strategy to deploy military forces in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign against a civilian population based on their ethnicity and/or religion for the purpose of enhancing Defendants' ability to explore and extract oil from areas of southern Sudan by creating a cordon sanitaire surrounding the oil concessions located there. The armed campaign, which is ongoing and has resulted in massive civilian displacement, the burning of villages, churches and crops, and the extrajudicial killing and enslavement of innocent civilians, is possible only through Defendants' collaboration and the Government's utilization of infrastructure, such as roads and airfields, constructed and maintained by Talisman. Defendants' acts, as set forth herein, violate customary international law incorporated into federal law.
Slavery is unfortunately still a big problem [alternate link] in Sudan. Although the problem is complex, particularly in light of the civil war in Sudan, it should hardly need stating that if Talisman are found to have co-operated in enslavement, then - irrespective of any commendable things they might have done - they would be guilty of one of the most fundamental human rights violations, recognised as such by libertarians, (non-extreme) conservatives, liberals and anarchists alike.

2. Divestment

Opposition to Talisman (and the Sudanese government) is proceeding on multiple fronts. In addition to the lawsuit mentioned above, there is a divestment campaign aimed at hitting Talisman where it hurts - in the share price. This campaign is targeting large institutional investors such as Fidelity Investments (US) and Royal Bank (Canada) [information current as of July 2001].

Not surprisingly, some individual investors would rather not financially support companies embroiled in the kinds of allegations described above. However, typical mutual funds do not screen investments against purely ethical criteria such as human rights abuses - except, of course, insofar as those factors are believed likely to impact profitability. However, both individuals and institutions can now opt to invest in ethical funds - a burgeoning field, with widely varying standards. A well-researched, genuine ethical investment fund enables investors to avoid at least those corporations who are known or strongly suspected to be involved in undesirable activities. In fact, even savings account holders can attempt to ensure that their money is only lent out to companies who follow certain standards, if they have the opportunity to bank with banks with strict ethical policies, such as the UK's Co-operative Bank.

3. Legislative Measures

Sudan is already subject to US sanctions; of course, these sanctions do not apply to Talisman as it is not a US company. However, Talisman is still listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which allows US corporations and individuals to invest in Sudan in a manner which is hardly very indirect. Indeed, Christian Aid argues that the oil companies are directly fuelling the conflict in Sudan.

Charles Jacobs of the AASG notes: "The Senate has been holding up legislation (the Sudan Peace Act) which would bar Talisman from funding its operations on Wall. St. The House voted 422 to 2 to deny Talisman access to U.S. capital markets. Perhaps this secret Security memo will spur the Senate to finally act."

In fact, the Senate voted unamimously in favour of the Sudan Peace Act as well. However, according to the AASG it is being held up in committee. US citizens may wish to write to Trent Lott and make their views known on this issue.

Of course, neither the Sudan Peace Act, nor the divestment campaign - nor the lawsuit - is guaranteed to force Talisman or the government of Sudan to change their ways. Perhaps together, however, they might have some positive effect.

In any case, some would argue that it is immoral for people to investigate in gravely immoral corporations, because it leaves them with "blood on their hands" - irrespective of whether divestment would in fact have any tangible benefit. (Moreover - putting my philosopher hat on here - ethical reasoning based on consequences of individual actions is notoriously problematic. Not least because it seems to imply the absurd conclusion that, in some cases, if multiple agents contribute towards an immoral outcome, no-one has done anything unethical at all! This is because, if they hadn't made their contribution - but everyone else involved still had still made their contribution - the same result would have obtained, and therefore, so the argument runs, there is no harm in contributing. [see note 1] In common parlance, this is a variant of the "everyone else is doing it" argument.)

4. Talisman's response

Talisman, of course, paints a very different picture of their involvement in Sudan. In 1999, in a report in the Canadian National Post, Talisman's CEO argued that they had a positive effect on Sudan:

Talisman's chief executive officer, Jim Buckee, said the campaign by the Boston anti-slavery group is unlikely to hurt his company. But if it did, he said it would only worsen the situation in Sudan. Mr. Buckee said the Sudanese government is desperately sensitive to world opinion, and Talisman represents the only western interests in the country. "Our presence ensures a Western eye, and brings the West's attention to the problems."

Mr. Buckee said Sudanese officials have repeatedly pledged to spend oil revenues on schools and hospitals in the south as well as the north.

They argue that "Remaining in Sudan is the moral thing to do." (quotation taken from Christian Aid report, above).

According to Amnesty International's 2000 report, Sudan: The Human Price of Oil, "oil companies involved in Sudan frequently assert that there are no settlements in the oil-rich areas and that allegation of mass displacement are therefore inaccurate. This is clearly not so."

Moreover, Talisman have not acknowledged any wrongdoing on their part with regard to the "scorched earth" policy of the Sudanese government. Irrespective of whether or not the oil revenues generated by Talisman's operations help or hinder the people of Sudan - and Christian Aid's reports argues that they do not, because they help fuel the ongoing conflict - it is not clear how the violent, mass forced displacements around the oil concessions can be justified. It is not surprising, then, that the oil companies seek to cast doubt on the eyewitness reports.

On their webpage on Sudan, Talisman's only reference to the accusations is the following oblique comment: "We continue to make important strides in the areas of community development and social responsibility."


5. Further information:

[1] For those of a philosophical bent, Derek Parfit briefly addresses this important issue in his thoughtful book Reasons and Persons. However it is my contention that he glosses over the vital issue of reconciling "collective" moral reasoning with the absurd-sound "individual" moral reasoning described above. Unfortunately, without this central plank - which is relevant to an absolutely vast range of issues, from specific ones like contributions to global warming, to very general ones like rule-breaking in general! - I would argue his entire thesis is in doubt.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o clear a 100-kilometer area
o American Anti-Slavery Group
o Talisman
o "Smoking Gun"
o "ethnic cleansing" class-action suit
o news release
o The Scorched Earth: Oil and War in Sudan
o here
o big problem
o alternate link
o civil war
o informatio n current as of July 2001
o Co-operati ve Bank
o write to Trent Lott
o report in the Canadian National Post
o Sudan: The Human Price of Oil
o Talisman Denial of Oil Development Realities
o The Presbyterian Church of Sudan vs. Talisman Energy, Class Action Lawsuit
o Corporate Responsibility: Talisman-Sudan Project
o Talisman's Corporate Responsibility pages
o iAbolish - the AASG's Anti-Slavery Portal
o A Beginner's Guide to Fighting Slavery
o Also by greenrd

Display: Sort:
Canadian Oil Company Allegedly Requested Assault on Villages | 125 comments (90 topical, 35 editorial, 0 hidden)
On the bias of the story (3.60 / 10) (#11)
by iwnbap on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 01:38:10 AM EST

It may be that this story is biased; however I don't mind reading stories where the bias is something of the form "mass execution is wrong" or even "denying lots of people their property is wrong". If you have a problem with this kind of bias I might suggest moving back into the real world.

That's nice (2.66 / 6) (#12)
by notafurry on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 01:42:14 AM EST

But illogical.

We're not saying he's wrong about the horrible aspects of the story. But the plain and simple truth is, this is not a news story. A news story presents the facts - the attacks, the deaths, the links to the oil company, the evidence that the government is behind the attacks, etc. This story is an opinion piece, and failing to label it as such is yellow journalism.

[ Parent ]

What the hell? (4.16 / 6) (#27)
by streetlawyer on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:22:18 AM EST

What are you reading, both on kuro5hin and in the outside world? The article above does exactly what you said, and the news media in general does not. You appear to be viewing the world through some sort of bizarre distorting mirror.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Wrong (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by notafurry on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 12:42:40 PM EST

The article does not do that. It presents some facts in support of an opinion in the manner of an Op-Ed.

Some news media organizations do the same thing - Fox News, most of the major broadcast networks, quite a few newspapers. (Al Neuharth's presentation of how the NYT would present a story about the end of the world: "World Ends. Third World Hit Hardest")

However, not all of them do things that way, and those that do should not be allowed to do so without having their flaws pointed out. Those that present the facts clearly without distortion or bias should be praised. (BBC is usually pretty good at it, Sky News does a fair job, even CNN is at least acceptable most of the time.)

[ Parent ]

All's in the eye of the beholder (none / 0) (#118)
by myshka on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 08:58:49 AM EST

It's interesting to note that most people define even handed news as that which matches their own beliefs the closest. It's not unnatural, of course, since reading opinions similar to our own simply confirms the "facts" we know to be "true".

As an exercise, consider the following news from CNN.com's front page viewed through the eyes of someone who thinks that CNN is one of the least reliable, most opinionated news sources around, contrary to popular belief:

From the CNN front page:

"Conflicted" doesn't begin to explain the problems at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but it's a start.

A great lead immediately sets the tone for a factual story abstracted from the author's and his employer's agenda.

This is the agency with an organizational chart that defies a one-sentence explanation, whose divisions don't always work together -- an agency so hampered by itself that the INS' own administrator has condemned its "illogical processes."

A sprawling bureaucracy ripe for some downsizing indeed. The author doesn't waste space and proceeds straight into the available facts. A supporting quote serves to underscore the immutable truth.

Add to that the descriptions immigration experts use to describe the INS -- unmanageable, insubordinate, prone to whim. It's like the mother who finds herself trying to corral a collection of overtired, underfed 2-year-olds: It's nearly impossible.

Independent, trustworthy sources have obviously provided the author with expert inside information on the situation. The author then personally observes a parallel between his research topic and the world at large. The neutrality of the language is commendable, given the touchiness of the subject.

The federal agency mailed visa approval notices for Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, identified as the two pilots who crashed planes into the World Trade Center on September 11. They applied to change their visa status from visitor to student a year before the attack and recently received approval -- six months after the deadly terror attacks.

A large news organization with CNN's investigative resources can provide the reader with factual, well researched information as evidenced in the preceding paragraph. Omitting the inconsequential issue of the true nature of the information the INS sent out to the Huffman flight school - a long-ago approved change of status form returned to the sender after a six month holding period in the INS' contractor's warehouse - clearly demonstrates that CNN does not get sidetracked in its examination of the issue at hand.

INS Commissioner James Ziglar faced those very questions Tuesday when he testified at a congressional hearing filled with lawmakers skeptical that the agency could fix itself.

An excellent summary of Tuesday's hearing in front of the Congressional subcommittee on Immigration. Representative Conyers' ad hominem attacks on James Ziglar and Representative Lee's inspired defense of her own reform program have been clearly witnessed by the author.

An outside, private company with an INS contract to handle some agency paperwork followed procedures in mailing out the notices, Ziglar said. The INS approved the request to change visa status for the two last summer, he said, adding that such notices are routinely mailed six months later to educational institutions for filing purposes. In the case of Atta and Al-Shehhi, those notices were sent to a flight school the men had attended.

A confirmation of the statement made a few short paragraphs earlier for those readers who are reading the piece attentively. For the others, the soundbyte "terrorists get visas after attack" will have to do.

"Reorganization of INS is necessary to provide clearer lines of decision-making and specific accountability," he told lawmakers in an opening statement.

The author describes in detail the issues involved in reforming the agency and provides the chairman's theory on the best way of implementing change. It may be a bit long-winded, but a quality news source cannot afford to let important information remain unreported.

A former INS commissioner agreed. Wayward regional offices "tend to be the case in any large government agency, and that certainly is the case with the INS," said Doris Meisner, who oversaw the INS from 1993 until 2001 during the Clinton administration.

An insider's word is worth a thousand research papers. The source is well chosen: it is trustworthy, having no personal stake in the situation; it is qualified, having successfully demonstrated its competence in the field; and it is eminently quotable, managing to confirm the article's facts in a mere nineteen words.

And while Congress continually increases the INS' budget to make improvements -- Ziglar has requested $6.3 billion for the next fiscal year -- "it is nowhere near the level of personnel and resources it needs to fortify the borders," Helton said. "The INS is not anywhere near the capacity it needs to be to do what it's supposed to do."

The problem unveiled. Again, expert testimony is used in a clear demonstration of the reporter's intimate knowledge of the topic at hand.

How can the agency accomplish its mission? The answer, said Helton, lies in ripping the INS apart or putting it all together.

A logical, non-partisan solution to the problem presented in the preceding paragraph. The clarity and consistency of the article's argument is good material for an introductory journalism class at the local community college.

House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, supports dismantling the INS as it exists now. "It is my intention to schedule hearings and a committee vote on my bill to abolish the INS as we know it next month after Congress returns from the Easter recess," he said last week in an interview with CNN.

Again, facts remain unobscured by unimportant details of the source's vested interest in the story. After all, commenting on the possible link between Representative Sensenbrenner's membership of the Judiciary committee and his hard work in ensuring that large parts of the INS come under his committee's supervision when transfered to his ally Attorney General Ashcroft's department would be conjecture. As such, the CNN writeup rightly foregoes presenting opinion as fact.

"(T)he organization isn't as important as shocking it into a different culture, " Helton said. "It really requires one of those corporate makeover experts who understands government personnel issues and can come in with a hatchet and shake things up."

The efficiency of private institutions masterfully contrasted with the backwardness of government bureaucracies. If it weren't coming from an independent news source, the reader might think that he's being swindled into supporting yet another "government is bad, private alternatives are good" argument.


Dedicated to all fans of balanced news reporting, the mainstream way.

[ Parent ]

What to do? (4.85 / 7) (#21)
by ariux on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 03:51:53 AM EST

I was just typing up a comment calling for imposition of great big fines by courts, which would get the job done in a way a voluntary boycott probably couldn't...

...but then I traced events forward, and realized that this, by itself, isn't enough.

Talisman would withdraw, and we'd get a nice warm feeling that our "civilized" compatriots are no longer participating in the carnage, but from the point of view of the actual civilians, this wouldn't achieve the result of stopping them from getting killed.

The killing would actually continue, and would just pass into different hands as some less reputable company or nation jumps in to fill the vacuum.

In fact, Sudan could just nationalize the oil fields and go on running the massacres itself. We could boycott the oil it would be producing, but sanctions are inhumane too, remember?

So from the pov of, "how can we prevent these people from getting killed," not the loophole-eaten "how can we prevent our guys from killing these people," what to do?

Murder (4.33 / 3) (#31)
by Weezul on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:49:43 AM EST

I'm not shure it would help in this situation, but I've never understood why crimes committed by orperations are that diffrent from crimes committed by individuals. The Monsanto Annistan Texas things provides an interesting example. There were Monsanto executives responcible for not informin the population about risks and very youn children did die as a result. It seems like all personel (Monsanto, ex-Monsanto, state) participating in the "cover up" are guilty of manslaughter. I can see that there are "cover up is stages" situations where there are a large number of people who each lied to those further down the line into beliving that the problem was less serious, but this is not what happened in the Anniston case.

Anyway, it seems like the executives of this company *should* be found guilty of some kind of human rights abuses.. if Canada can convict its own citizens for crimes committed in another country. The only real mitigating factor that I can imagine would be if the executives had no reason to expect the local gov. to cary out their suggestions.. at which point they should have some kind of freedom of speech protections.

As far as I can see that only reason to force Talisman to withdraw, is to punnish it's stock holders. I'd suggest that mearly removing all the gains of the buisness practice plus a reasonable punitive measure would be a better solution. This could take the form of auctioning off Talisman's Sudan buisness to another Canadian oil company plus fines equal to Talisman's current market cap. minus it's projected market cap without the Sudan buisness (start up costs for the Sudan buisness should be negligable if it's been runningh for a long period of time). You really can not expect stock holders to take note of these sorts of things unless your fines are done in terms of market cap.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
You miss the point of my question... (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by ariux on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:58:08 AM EST

...which is not, "how to make Talisman to withdraw?" or, "how to make all Western oil companies to withdraw?" - neither of which seems it would end up achieving the result of actually preventing Sudanese civilians from getting killed.

My question is, "from the point of view of said civilians, how can the killings actually be stopped?"

[ Parent ]

Ahh (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by Weezul on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 05:53:44 AM EST

I was not saing that western oil companies needed to withdraw. I was saying that jail time for executives and fines relitive to market cap. would make them behave themselves.

I have no idea how to keep the locals from just killing one another or the fun/profit of it. It's seems highly situation specific.

I don't think sanctions are really that good an idea. I tend to like a more black and white war vs. no war approach, i.e. you tell the leaders that they should stop it and take some miimal steps to make their lives less pleasent (sanctions on luxery items and weapons), if they don't stop it you must ask yourselves are we prepaired to kill people to make them stop, i.e. will bombing the shit out of the countryside and sending in special forces to kill the leaders sufficently reduce suffering in the long run to justify it now. Interestingly, I'd have projected that this sort of activity would never have reduced suffering in Afganistan as warfare is too much a part of the culture there. Shows what I know. :) (I suppose I could still be right, but I hope I'm not)

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
That's not everybody (4.50 / 2) (#38)
by ariux on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 06:14:51 AM EST

...so Western oil companies, owing to their host countries' liberal principles, are evicted by court order, and local miscreants are forced to disarm by the threat of international military action.

What about powerful non-Western countries that might serve as patrons? Remember, it takes just one exception to effectively perpetuate the slaughter.

(As a sidelight, how can any military action be forced to stick to actual humanitarian goals instead of everything else in the geopolitical book, and even given a force with honest intent, are humanitarian goals really achievable by war?)

[ Parent ]

reasonable question (4.66 / 3) (#43)
by Weezul on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:46:02 AM EST

As a sidelight, how can any military action be forced to stick to actual humanitarian goals instead of everything else in the geopolitical book, and even given a force with honest intent, are humanitarian goals really achievable by war?

That is certonly a reasonable question. The short answer is undoubtably yes. WWII did end the slaughter of the Jews. That was not the whole reason why it was being fought, but it had the desired humanitarian effect.

In general, it tends to be highly situation specific.. and the U.S. has a poor track record. The thing about WWII is that people were willing to take the necissary measures to make shure the problem did not come back, i.e. rebuilding Japan and Germany. This included preventing whole sale corperate exploitation of Japan and Germany, i.e. we created democrasies instead of dictatorships friendly to U.S. commercial interests.

We would have a lot less trouble in the middle east today if we had actually finnished the job in Iraq and rebuilt the country. This would have undoubtably cost civilian casualities, but it would have (a) protected Iraq's minority populations by removing Sadam and (b) prevented 10 yeras of devistating sanctions. Like I said, I felt the opposite way about Afganistan, i.e. war could never help, but it seems to be working out thus far. Regardless, it's highly situation specific.
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]

good piece... (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by dazzle on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 03:57:58 AM EST

Well written and an interesting read. The only bit I want to know is what has been left out from this quote:

'"... fulfilling the request of the Canadian Company (Talisman)... the armed forces will conduct cleaning up operations in all villages from Heglig to Pariang." '

The, conspicuous, '...' means something has been left out to make the document appear as though it is saying what the AASG want it to say.

Where's the document in full?

the internet: a global network of small minded people

Some info (4.66 / 3) (#25)
by ariux on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:14:14 AM EST

The "AASG's page on the class action lawsuit" link leads to more links, including the full text of a complaint filed last November in New York courts.

The gist of the allegation is that the Sudanese government, engaged since 1983 in a nakedly genocidal war against a large portion of its own population, sought foreign oil partners who would build infrastructure for that war, and turn a blind eye to its use, in return for land rights.

Talisman is alleged to have bought out one such partner and then expanded its operations, fully understanding the implications.

[ Parent ]

Very Eloquently Written... (3.66 / 3) (#33)
by m0rzo on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 05:18:16 AM EST

Thanks for bringing this to my attention Greenrd. I agree with some other posts that give insight into how massive this problem actually is. If Talisman are forced out of Sudan by imposing massive fines on them, then the vacuum will just be filled by another, perhaps more iniquitous, company.

Obviously, Talisman can not be allowed to get away with it though. The United Nations (or whoever regulates this kind of thing) should employ a body to investigate, and curb the companies unforgivable behaviour in this region. The war will continue regardless of whether Talisman is removed from the equation, which just goes to show how difficult corporate power is to curtail. ..

My last sig was just plain offensive.

Actually.... (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by m0rzo on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 05:22:33 AM EST

I'm probably wrong. Perhaps Talisman should be forced out of Sudan to serve as a warning to any other corporation that should see fit to willfully finance an on-going genocidal war, regardless of the country. Corporations should be made to account for their crimes in courts just as an individual criminal would be.

My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

What kind of warning is it... (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by ariux on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 05:39:53 AM EST

...if it's dependent on the liberal sentiments of a western jurisdiction?

Those outside such jurisdictions (like China and India, not to mention Sudan itself) will feel free to ignore it, and nothing will be achieved.

[ Parent ]

Bad idea (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by wiesmann on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:55:49 AM EST

The corporation will pull out. And probaly will return using a proxy company. If not the company looses some money (it has lots), and the sudanest economy also (it has much less). Guess who looses the most? The problem with multi-national corporation is that they can always threaten to leave.

The most reasonable thing as far as I'm concerned would indeed to bring those responsible to trial for crimes agains humanity. Not the company, but the people in charge. Obeying order was not a good defence in Nurenberg, and should not be in this case either. Of course this would imply that countries like the China or the US recognise and international tribunal...

[ Parent ]

Worse than elsewhere, but just an extension (4.10 / 10) (#37)
by Afty on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 06:11:25 AM EST

When the UK and French governments decided to build the Channel Tunnel (chunnel) to facilitate fast trains from the UK to Continental Europe it was decided that some houses and small settlements of the UK population would have to be moved.

The UK government did not shell or shoot up these civilians, but as with any government order they *had* to sell their homes, possibly for less than the market value and move elsewhere. They were given no choice, as every government order is backed by the threat of force, and loss of freedom (jail time). If one tries to defend ones property with force, one can be lawfully shot dead.

Needless to say, the channel tunnel was created by, and for private companies which now make large profits from the tunnel. These people were forced out of their homes in order to provide private companies with greater levels of profit.

The only difference I can see is that the UK government attempted to do it with the minimum of force, whereas the sudanese government did it with maximum force. To me there isn't a great deal of distinction, it is putting the profits of companies ahead of the private lives of individuals.

Tragic, and the government ministers and corporate lobbyists / whores responsible should be criminally charged in both cases.

These kinds of things happen all over the world, just as often at home as they do elsewhere, only in western countries it is done 'by the law' with the backing of the courts, and the *single biggest difference* is that we have the free press to report this sort of thing. I hope we always will have. Another large difference is the fact that western populations are educated enough to realise a violent stand against a government backed group can only end in failure, this is not that case for many poorly-educated peoples.

Possibly rather worse (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by ariux on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 06:20:17 AM EST

The materials linked to allege that the war is the basic goal, and the oil exploitation a convenient means, rather than the other way around.

[ Parent ]

Please elaborate (none / 0) (#42)
by synaesthesia on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:40:30 AM EST

If one tries to defend ones property with force, one can be lawfully shot dead.

Are you sure? There are very few situations in which UK law provides for killing people.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
Depends how much force... (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by gordonjcp on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:34:52 AM EST

If you're standing outside the house with a shinty stick with nails through it, you'll probably just get "pepper spray"-ed.
OTOH, if you face down the plod with a 12-bore, things might go a bit harder for you.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
It's happened (none / 0) (#79)
by streetlawyer on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 02:39:37 PM EST

One of the situations in UK Law is when you are a bit loony, and so you hole up in your house and start taking pot shots at the old Bill with a .22. It happened in Scotland a couple of years ago.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Whores, huh? (4.75 / 4) (#56)
by gauntlet on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:43:53 AM EST

So you're thinking that the UK government was sitting around thinking, "Hmmm... how can we give more money to our friends in private industry?"

And of course the solution they came up with is the Chunnel? Like that would have been the easiest way to give away money. What's that? You say they were able to justify giving the money away because people wanted/needed/would benefit from the Chunnel? Ah, well aren't they devious.

Heaven forfend that that a government, elected by the people, should have the power to cause major inconvenience to a small portion of the population, in order to give the whole something they want/need/benefit from and in the process create jobs.

You know what? My government bought out some land to build a hospital. And doctors get paid pretty damn good. The government must therefore be putting doctors' profits ahead of the private lives of individuals.

I'd love to stay and talk, but I have to go protest the government I elected doing what I elected it to do.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

So, what you're saying is... (2.00 / 1) (#91)
by beergut on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:27:08 PM EST

... that you elected your current government so that it could put the shackles of slavery on your fellow citizens?

God forbid you ever get caught up in an eminent domain dispute. Maybe if you did, though, your mind would be changed.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

compulsory purchase (none / 0) (#78)
by streetlawyer on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 02:38:13 PM EST

but as with any government order they *had* to sell their homes, possibly for less than the market value

What, in your opinion as a real estate professional, is the market value of a house which is standing on land that's about to have a tunnel dug under it?

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Immense. (none / 0) (#90)
by beergut on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:25:03 PM EST

If it is land that a developer needs, logistically, then that land's value increased dramatically. It increased to the amount that the developer is willing to pay the land owner, or else be forced to change his plans.

In a civilized place, the land owner could simply refuse to sell his property, no matter the monetary benefit being offered, if he so desired.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Unfamiliar territory (none / 0) (#95)
by streetlawyer on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:19:57 PM EST

People get lost in thought because they are in unfamiliar territory, eh?

Well, you seem to be in unfamiliar territory here; you seem to have a view of the law relating to real estate which is utterly at odds with anything in history.

Why does the developer care whether somebody sells a house on the surface if he's digging a tunnel? If your answer involves the government, do feel free to explain why your solution is better than the existing law relating to compulsory purchase. Also, do feel free to learn thing one about that law before shooting your mouth off.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Wow... you are a heartless dumbass. (none / 0) (#100)
by beergut on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:58:33 PM EST

Well, you seem to be in unfamiliar territory here; you seem to have a view of the law relating to real estate which is utterly at odds with anything in history.

I won't claim to know the details of any given laws in the UK. Nor do I care. They've made their beds, and now they can lie in them. What I do claim is that "eminent domain is morally wrong, and that those who wield that power are morally bankrupt." I feel compassion for people forced to sell their homes, because they are human beings. But, then, a leftist knows naught of compassion, as you so eagerly demonstrate.

Since I live in the US, I will comment about laws here. In fact, the US does have eminent domain laws. That is, in my not-so-humble opinion, a human rights abuse. Mineral rights, water rights, etc., and theories about "my property extends to the core of the Earth below, and to the depths of infinity above" are contract details, negotiated when you assume ownership of a piece of property. If you find a clause which states that there is an implicit right-of-way fifty feet below the surface to be too onerous, then don't sign the contract and assume the deed. If, however, your deed did not mention such a right-of-way, you should have a case.

If I own a piece of land, it should be mine to dispose of (or not) however I see fit. If I want to live there in a tarpaper shack, ekeing out a subsistence living with a small garden and a few goats, then that should be my right, and there should be no governmental authority which could say otherwise. If I did not want to sell my property to the highway department, or that stripmall developer, then I should certainly have the right to not do so.

Do you comprehend this? I am not saying "is", but rather "should".

That the government can trespass upon my property, apprehend me by force, sieze my property, confine me (or just kill me, and make up some lame story to cover their asses in the court of public opinion,) and then hand over my property to some well-connected developer is an abuse of the very rights that I have simply because I am a human being.

Because I cannot defend myself, my property, my existence, from these jackbooted thugs (at least, not forever,) means that I am forced to comply. That they have subsumed my rights as a property owner, and as a human being, and wield eminent domain (or whatever your phrase-of-the-day may be,) clearly indicates that they have too much power over me, and by extension, over society.

Why does the developer care whether somebody sells a house on the surface if he's digging a tunnel?

You would have to ask the developer that question now, wouldn't you? I will assume that, at some point, the tunnel must reach the surface. It wouldn't be very useful if that were not the case, now, would it? What of the poor schmuck whose property happens to be located where they want to bring the tunnel to the surface? What if he has a nice little place, and is happy, and has worked all his life to build his home, and does not want to be bought out, forcibly or otherwise?

In that case, the property is of great value to this person, indeed. Just because you and your band of jackboots feel saucy and want to drag this man off his property does not make it right.

If your answer involves the government, do feel free to explain why your solution is better than the existing law relating to compulsory purchase.

My answer is superior, because my answer is morally correct, while yours is purest hogwash. My answer involves the government only inasmuch as it is the government's abuse of power that makes such "laws" a reality.

Also, do feel free to learn thing one about that law before shooting your mouth off.

... he says, caring nothing for the human beings whose rights are being trampled, and whose lives are being turned upside-down for the good of some developer's pocketbook. Obviously, you did not pause to actually read my previous posting for "content", but rather decided that it was "invective".

Man... I didn't think it would be this easy to pinpoint leftists' philosophical inconsistencies.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

I am trying to explain this to you (none / 0) (#111)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 02:24:13 AM EST

What I am trying to explain to you is that "compulsory purchase" is actually a limitation on the power of the government; it is compulsory for them to purchase land when they want to do something like this, rather than just going ahead and doing it.

The fact that you believe some strange things about mineral rights extending to the core of the earth is of interest to you and, quite probably trhurler, but that's about the end of it. The historical concept of a property right is that it is the right to prevent someone from crossing the boundaries of a piece of land. The law on property has always grown up side-by-side with the law on easements; it has always been recognised that property rights over land (the quintessential finite resource) come hand in hand with obligations toward neighbours. It has never been the case that ownership of a plot gives you the right to act the cunt and screw your neighbours; a quick think about the right to dam a river should disabuse you of that. You're taking a bizarre position which is certainly not in Locke or even in Ayn Rand here; if you have a theory of property rights at all, it appears to be based on that of medieval princes or something.

Quite apart from anything, the idea that property rights could extend "to the centre of the earth below and to infinity above" is actually inconsistent with the geometry of the universe as it is currently designed. You basically lost me when you used the word "naught", as it demonstrated that you are ranting rather than thinking.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Fine... (none / 0) (#120)
by beergut on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 11:27:21 AM EST

"Compulsory purchase" may sound well and good. It may be a limitation upon the powers of government, such that they can't just evict you. The rub is, the owner of the property would be forced to accept this buyout, even if he doesn't want to sell.

Easements are different from rights of way. An easement at the edge of an established roadway, extending perhaps twenty or twenty-five feet, is reasonable. This allows whatever agency is responsible for maintaining the roads to have access to the roadsides for their equipment and whatnot. Additional easements may be granted by the property owner to, say, electric utilities for installation and maintenance of their power lines; this easement then becomes part of the property's deed, once granted, and subsequent owners can abide by the easement, or not buy the property. This is spelled out on your deed.

Right of way, such that a landowner whose property is surrounded on all sides by someone else's property may still access his property by traversing the surrounding property is, well, a right. Usually, the property owners can come to an equitable agreement as to how this is done, by one or both owners establishing a roadway over the surrounding property. In any case, this is an agreement between neighboring property owners, of how one owner can accomodate the rights of another owner. Since it is a right, the owner of the surrounding property cannot deny it to the owner of the surrounded property, and the surrounded property owner can petition the courts for enforcement of his rights.

Redress against neighbors whose actions make your own property worthless (pollution, damming a river, whatever) may be had through the courts, both civil and criminal depending on the nature of the damage. My point about mineral rights, water rights, and other rights was that these things are spelled out in the title deed, and that a government should not be able to, at a whim, infringe upon those rights. If I signed a deed which gave easement to a local governmental body to tunnel under my property for the purpose of building a subway tunnel, then I am bound by the contract I signed. If they construct this tunnel, then I live with it. If they have to use the top of my property to construct this tunnel, then I am within my rights as a property owner to demand that they repair the damage done to my property during the construction. If they damage my dwelling, it is within the scope of my rights to demand redress.

I fail to see how any of this has any bearing upon eminent domain, however, in which a property owner is forced to relinquish his title to some property. That it is made more palateable by the government being forced to pay for the property is not at issue. The point is, a landowner must accept what the government offers. If he refuses, it is likely that his property will be condemned, that he will be found in contempt of some law, and that he will be jailed. Ultimately, the property owner will lose his property, if the government wants it. This is an abuse of the man's rights by his government.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Are you actually a lawyer? (none / 0) (#101)
by haflinger on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 09:21:03 PM EST

There's a medieval tort called trespass. First year law students get taught about it. One of the ways in which you can get sued under it is by doing things which damage somebody else's land. IIRC, the precise term was interfering with the enjoyment of property.

It's still around. But it's also clearly historical. I'm not sure if it predates the Magna Carta; it might.

Anyway, digging tunnels which cause other people's houses to collapse is interfering with the enjoyment of property, to be sure; whether it's right or not is another argument, but you oughtta check, say, Gallant v. F. W. Woolworth Co., (1970) 15 DLR (3d) 248 (Sask. C.A.) for a recent contrary view.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

yes, I'm a street lawyer (none / 0) (#113)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 06:00:58 AM EST

There's a medieval tort called trespass. First year law students get taught about it.

There's also a medieval concept called an "easement", which they teach you in the later classes.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Indeed they do. (none / 0) (#117)
by haflinger on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 08:46:24 AM EST

However, in order to get an easement, you kind-of have to have a signed agreement from the property owner. Or show a right of way, which normally needs about 20 years of use without any objection by the property owner.

I'm not saying that building the chunnel wasn't a good idea; I'm just trying to say you're overstating your case - just a tad.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Eminent domain, social contracts, and tradeoffs (none / 0) (#124)
by ToastyKen on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 08:09:03 PM EST

I don't understand people who claim that our right to property is absolute, and that eminent domain is an evil evil thing. I mean, it's a situation where we've signed the social contract to risk losing some property in order to get the benefit to society as a whole.

Like every other such situation, there's a tradeoff. It's not an absolute in either direction. Yes, it sucks for the people who have to give up their property, and the protection of the individual against the will of the majority is a major founding principle of this country. However, at the same time, society as a whole will stagnate if new city developments can never be made because everyone holds on really tightly to their property. We all give up certain rights in order to be part of a society.

Here in the US, things generally lean toward property owners, and this drastically drives up the cost of any public construction project that requires rezoning and such. This is very nice to the people with the property, but it also means that everyone must pay the cost. Is that cost worth the security it buys? I would say that that's something that's to determined on a case-by-case basis.

In the opposite direction, (and at the risk of provoking single-minded China-bashers) I have many relatives in Shanghai who have had to move out to the suburbs because their apts were getting torn down for new developments. (I have to admit it's a bit easier in most cases because the people don't own the apts, but rather rent them for a very small amount of money from the gov't in the first place.) And you know what? It's a complicated situation.

On one hand, it's obviously the richer people and, in many cases, corporations, who can afford to buy/rent the new developments closer to the center of the city. The people who have had to leave often have to spend hours commuting each day or pool together lots of money to find some place closer.

So you would think that these people would be hopelessly bitter. After all, it's not like they're mindless socialists.. China is in many ways more capitalistic than the US, even (and often in a bad way). They care about their individual rights, certainly. Well, they are bitter to some degree, but at the same time, almost every relative I have in Shanghai is very very proud of the city. Over all, salaries are increasing, the place is modernizing.. And if you go to downtown Shanghai, it is simply filled to the brim with new architecture. It looks like the city of the future, when the cities here in the US look like cities of many years ago. (I'm from San Francisco, and I swear the city's stayed essentially the same for decades.)

Do I think that China's cavalier attitude toward eminent domain is the best way? No. Things really do suck for a lot of the people who've been kicked out of their homes to make way for rich people. But do I think that we should ignore the need for city development? no as well.

Like most things in life, we need to find a balance somewhere in between.

[ Parent ]

Crimes against Humanity? (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by Scott Robinson on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:19:38 AM EST

The murder and killing, and the alleged justification behind it, seem particularly cruel and calculating. The last time I checked, if a government or set of government officials were responsible for these actions (as well those they directed) would be held responsibile.

If the close linkage turns out to be true, I would be shocked if nothing more than economic sanctions against a corporation were performed. (Sudan is already under U.S. sanctions, right?)

I haven't slept for 20 hours, so maybe I'm not thinking straight.


Might be tricky... (none / 0) (#82)
by haflinger on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:23:18 PM EST

Talisman's a Canadian company. Under NAFTA, they get a bunch of rights.

I'd hate to see Talisman suing the US gov't for imposing sanctions against it. Now, that'd be a turnaround...

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

a good book on modern slavery (3.66 / 3) (#41)
by danny on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:21:04 AM EST

I highly recommend Kevin Bales' Disposable People - it's a passionate but scholarly survey of modern slavery. (Though Sudan isn't among the case studies.)

[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Because I know someone will try to (1.88 / 9) (#44)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:18:40 AM EST

Don't blame this on capitalism. This horrible act was done through a government's exercise of eminent domain; in a capitalist society, government has no power of eminent domain.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
Capitalism and eminent domain (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by akepa on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:21:15 AM EST

"in a capitalist society, government has no power of eminent domain"

Wrong. The US is a capitalist society, but our government still has the power of eminent domain.

"Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion." --Edward Abbey
[ Parent ]
But (none / 0) (#49)
by Ken Arromdee on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:34:12 AM EST

To the extent to which the government does have this power, it's not capitalist. Even if the rest of the society is capitalist (highly doubtful here), it becomes a bit of socialism inserted in an otherwise capitalist society.

[ Parent ]
There's no pure society. (4.50 / 2) (#73)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 02:04:49 PM EST

There's no such thing as pure capitalism or socialism. Please stop using arguments that make that assumption; it is really obnoxious.

[ Parent ]
No... he's right. (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by beergut on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:19:25 PM EST

To the extent that the government has the power of "eminent domain", it is not the government of a "capitalist" society, wherein the rights of the property owner are supreme.

If a developer or other business interest, or even a government interest, can influence a government entity to force a person off his own property by violence, then that developer, businessman, or government entity is not playing by the "rules" of a capitalist society. If I don't want to vacate my house to let some developer or government entity demolish it, and give me a pittance in return, then in a capitalist society, that is my right. I may not like what happens to the property surrounding mine (for which I would no doubt have legal recourse, if the usage was wholly onerous,) but I can keep my property as I wish. In a society wherein a government agency can use force to evict me from my own property, that society is not a capitalist one.

Bitch and moan all you want about there being "no absolutes", but his point is valid. It is a fact that eminent domain is an improper abuse of government power. A power that, in a real capitalist society, that government would not have.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

You missed the point (none / 0) (#125)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 01:16:20 PM EST

The United States is a Democratic Republic, not a Capitalist Plutocracy.

Agents of the Government who use powers of eminent domain are granted that power and regulated by the elect legislative and executive of the Government. The legislators and executives are granted their power from the people.

In a similar vein, business enterprises conduct their business within the framework established by the republic. The states regulate the formation and operation of business entities, and the national government regulates the operation of business entities as it relates to interstate and international trade.

We are no more a capitalist society than the Soviets were a communist one.

[ Parent ]
capitalism and eminent domain (4.50 / 8) (#52)
by Wolf Keeper on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:57:40 AM EST

Kurt, I love Ayn Rand's ideals. I do. But she made some incorrect assumptions. If you have a true capitalism with an almost powerless government, you allow capitalism to prosper... wntil the day when (not if) an ailing company buys enough influence in government to legislate its survival. Then you get dumped right back into the situation the US and Europe are in presently.

If you write an immutable constitution, the first serious issue it doesn't account for will destroy it. If you write a changeable one, money, favors, and blackmail from the dishonest capitalists of the world will mess with it until you have your Enrons and Sudan oil scandals.

Pure capitalism will never work because there is no way to keep it pure capitalism. Ayn Rand put too much trust in the honesty of entrepreneurs. For every John Galt there is a thousand James Taggerts.

[ Parent ]
Well said...pure capitalism is unstable (none / 0) (#126)
by sacrelicious on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:38:05 PM EST

Just like anyt other "pure" ideal in the world. I just wish more people would realize that.

[ Parent ]
Not to debate Libertarianism (4.66 / 3) (#53)
by dachshund on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:09:55 AM EST

In a capitalist society, the corporation could just buy all of the land around the villages and refuse to allow anything (including food shipments) to pass. When the starving villagers "voluntarily" surrendered and sold their land, the company would have acheived roughly the same effect. So yes, in a limited sense, life'd be better in your society.

Don't like my example? I bet you can come up with a dozen of your own, if you try.

[ Parent ]

See "The Lockeian Proviso" [OT] (none / 0) (#55)
by Anatta on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:30:55 AM EST

as referenced by both John Locke and Robert Nozick (easily accessable in "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" by Nozick).
My Music
[ Parent ]
Not to debate it either (3.33 / 3) (#59)
by Ken Arromdee on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 12:01:45 PM EST

In a purely capitalist society, the property owners would also own rights-of-way that let food be brought to their property. They couldn't be starved out by buying from the surrounding owners because they, not the surrounding owners, would own those rights-of-way.

(How do they *get* the rights-of-way in the first place? If they're the first owner of the property, their original claim to the property included a claim to the surrounding right-of-way. If they bought the property from someone else, then they bought the right-of-way too; the title search would likely include a right-of-way search.)

[ Parent ]

not quite (5.00 / 6) (#77)
by streetlawyer on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 02:36:42 PM EST

In a purely capitalist society, the oil company could hire a bunch of hoodlums to massacre the villagers, and suffer no consequences more severe than a few people tutting and saying "how dreadful". Remember that under a pure anarcho-capitalist system there is no law enforcement other than private arbitration of torts, and dead men don't litigate.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
"Anarcho-capitalist" is an oxymoron (2.00 / 2) (#84)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:56:50 PM EST

A capitalist society is by definition NOT anarchic, because a capitalist society requires that there be a government to protect its citizens from the initiatory use of violence against themselves or their property.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
OK; you're ignorant (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by streetlawyer on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:14:02 PM EST

Perhaps you'd better make this point to Robert Nozick and David Friedman, among others, who have gained significant fame by making the point that there is no genuine necessity for government, and calling their philosophy "anarcho-capitalism".

You'll forgive me for not carrying on any discussion on the subject with you; I really don't have time to conduct kindergarten for libertarians.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Incorrect (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 01:10:02 PM EST

In fact they do. I know first hand becuse the state is taking my house due to a road widening. My options:

1) Accept their offer.
2) Reject the offer. They still give you their offered amount and you can take them to court. Almost all cases result in the state getting what it wants and at most the landowner getting a little more money.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
In that case (none / 0) (#83)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:54:26 PM EST

You do not live in a capitalist society, regardless of what you may have heard. Eminent domain is the antithesis of capitalism, and any government that exercises eminent domain and calls itself "capitalist" is lying.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
In that case... (5.00 / 2) (#87)
by Danse on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 06:13:49 PM EST

Is there now, or has there ever been, a capitalist society?

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Speaking of Thomas Jefferson... (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by mister slim on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:27:56 PM EST

Jefferson said countries should have a revolution every twenty years. we are now about 200 years behind (though Civil War, civil rights movement, some of environmental movement, abortion, etc have been treated by our government as a war).

"Fucking sheep, the lot of you. Yeah, and your little dogs too." -Rogerborg
[ Parent ]

Where was Jefferson? (5.00 / 2) (#105)
by dachshund on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:44:09 PM EST

Jefferson said countries should have a revolution every twenty years.

Jefferson also spent much of the American revolution in Europe. So he wasn't exactly in the thick of battle when people were getting ripped to pieces by British bullets.

So don't take the guy too seriously, especially where he didn't intend to be taken literally.

[ Parent ]

Eminent Domain. (none / 0) (#102)
by minra on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 09:57:06 PM EST

And you enjoy driving down nice, straight highways precisely because your government, as does every other western democracy, exercises some degree of eminent domain to build infrastructure.

Libertarians need to cede the existence of 'social goods' in the (few) cases where they are obvious.

[ Parent ]
Hey... (none / 0) (#106)
by Danse on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:49:15 PM EST

I'm not dissing eminent domain. I was simply inquiring as to whether a capitalist society has ever existed. I'm curious to know whether such a thing has ever been tried. Personally I don't think it would work. I may have libertarian leanings, but I try not to carry it to the point of utopian fantasy.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#123)
by kurtmweber on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 05:09:15 PM EST

Government should NOT build roads...rather, they should be built, owned, and maintained privately. People need roads; thus, they will be more than willing to voluntarily sell some of their property so that these roads may be built.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Smoking Gun (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:30:33 AM EST

I'd sure like to see a scan of the "Smoking Gun" before going off the handle. Searching the net I can find tons of stories talking about Sudan + human rights + oil development, but nothing more on the "Smoking Gun" than the sentence quoted here.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
africa (3.20 / 5) (#50)
by paf0 on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:46:53 AM EST

I like the recent articles on k5 concerning Sudan and Zimbabwe. The American news media usually ignores the injustices in Africa and elsewhere only to focus on the homefront. I wish the media here would have more of a world view, like the BBC seems to. However, the BBC doesn't seem to have anything on this problem. I have to ask, why do you think it is that you were only able to find information on civil rights websites?

The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. --B. F. Skinner
icq 3505006
I sorta lean the other way a bit. (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:35:30 PM EST

Don't get me wrong, I like to hear what is going on in other countries. However, I'm very much in favor of putting the major focus of news on things near one's home. If we busy worrying about what is going on in Africa 24/7, then there would be no public oversight of local politicans and businesses.

Unless you think that people in Africa are going to oversee your local politicans for you, I suggest you make sure that you always have an eye on them. They are the ones that can violate your rights and cause you the most harm.

[ Parent ]

a bit of a fallacy here (none / 0) (#110)
by leifb on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 12:14:10 AM EST

If we busy worrying about what is going on in Africa 24/7, then there would be no public oversight of local politicans and businesses.

By "here", I'm assuming you mean the United States of America, a nation with close to 300 million citizens.

Set aside the logistics of getting every one of those people to do the same thing at the same time[1].

With that many potential observers, you can't really attribute a lack of public innvolvement to people "worrying about what is going on in Africa 24/7".

[1] Actually, this is a fairly simple, two-stage process:
a) get a classroom of kindergarteners to do the same thing at the same time.
b) Scale up.

[ Parent ]

Very good point. (n/t) (none / 0) (#112)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 04:01:41 AM EST

[ Parent ]
While We're Bashing Oil Companies (4.90 / 11) (#51)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:55:53 AM EST

Go to www.EXXON.com and type "valdez" in the little search box at the bottom.


Results for: valdez No documents.

The query is in English.

No results were found for your search.
Try changing some of the words in your query.

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Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
so? (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by sonovel on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 12:13:47 PM EST

Are you compelled to tell prospective mates about your compulsive masturbation?

Cheap shot, but we would never expect a person to point out his own faults, why would we expect a company to?

(really, I meant it as a humorous jab, not a hack)

[ Parent ]
so wji? (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by sonovel on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:09:08 PM EST

What is your point?

Didn't like the joke?

Didn't like the point?

How about a post rather than a rating?

Maybe you need to get a sense of humor.

[ Parent ]
Yup, that's Talisman for you (1.75 / 4) (#57)
by Ken Pompadour on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:49:09 AM EST

Canada's dirty little secret. These guys make the US Government look like a bunch of goody two shoes.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
Talisman (2.33 / 6) (#60)
by ryeshy on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 12:02:21 PM EST

Talisman ----- Taliban ... come on am I the only one with a mind for conspiracy?

I'm not sure if I belive this (3.40 / 5) (#64)
by 0xA on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 12:43:46 PM EST

I find myself in a bit of a quandry here. I have no problem beliving a corporation would do this, I have serious trust issues with coroprate structures in North America. On the other hand I spent a few years working in the Canadian energry sector, I still have many friends that do, many friends that work for Talisman. My brother works there as a matter of fact.

I have never met someone working for an oil company I would think is capable of this. I like most of the Talisman people I know, my brother is a good guy. How am I supposed to feel about this? I am angered and disgusted but I have trouble beliving this becuase it doesn't fit with these people at all. Strange situation.

I frankly doubt the veracity of this document. As is almost always the case the truth probably lies in the middle. I doubt that Talisman has directly insigated these actions, they're presence and the revenue they generate for the goverment no doubt caused it though. I think they should discontinue their operation in Sudan, they are not helping the situation. It is kind of tough to paint the company as a buch of evil bastards when my brother is one of them though.

Hmm (2.50 / 2) (#70)
by Ken Pompadour on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 01:46:21 PM EST

I have never met someone working for an oil company I would think is capable of this.

Why not? Before I even read the article and saw the headline, it was obvious that the "Canadian Oil Company" was Talisman - they have so much blood on their hands that talisman is practically a synonym for Evil in Canada.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]

Ken, don't Spurt (none / 0) (#92)
by minra on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 07:34:49 PM EST

Ken, you claim that Talisman has "so much blood on their hands that Talisman is practically a synonym for Evil in Canada."

This is a strong statement and as such requires considerable supporting evidence. It isn't a foregone conclusion in everyone's mind and if it were, it'd be unnecessary to mention it.

Unsubstantiated, extremist, off-the-cuff content-free comments drag the quality of debate here to the level of that found in your average rural bar.

Please make an effort to contribute more substantial comments in the future. In this case, if you could enlighten us as to exactly what blood Talisman already has on their hands, we could better judge whether such tragedies are anomalous, or part of a pattern of abuse.

[ Parent ]
Sigh (none / 0) (#99)
by Ken Pompadour on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:56:30 PM EST

I assume that people can do their research on their own. Ask a Canadian - Talisman Oil is one fucking evil company.


etc etc. These links aren't great, but the best source is Canadian newspapers. I'm not going to go looking through thousands of articles for articles about Talisman, sorry.

Links chosen from

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]
You can't necessarily judge the facts this way (4.87 / 8) (#71)
by jolly st nick on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 01:50:20 PM EST

Most of the Americans I know and all the American solider's I've ever known well are decent people; but My Lai happened. Most doctors I know are ethical, but the Tuskegee syphillis experiment still happened. I've met Chinese officials who I would be happy to call friends, but the Tienanmen massacre still happened. I met Soviet officals in the pre-breakup days who were genuinely good people, but state oppression still existed.

You simply can't judge a group by the typical qualities of an individual in that group.

The overwhelming majority of people in a group may be ethical, but if the group has no mechanism to bring ethical violations to light and to react to them, then there is no means to guarantee that morality of individuals, even the vast majority of individuals, can govern all the behavior of the group.

So, the only thing that people can do, even if they work for such a company, is look to the credibilty of sources of accusations. It's problematic, and we shouldn't automatically rush to judgement one way or the other based on our preconceptions (one way or another) about transnationals or energy companies.

[ Parent ]

That should have been 2 comments really (none / 0) (#85)
by 0xA on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 05:03:38 PM EST

I basically have 2 trains of thought on this. 1) The feelings generated by this story and the fellings I have for my friends and family that work for Talisman are hard to reconsile. Just sharing my feelings, difficult to have a discussion about this becuase it is my perspective and emotion, logic is not the only driver. 2) I still doubt the veracity of the document refered to in the story. It is by no means a "Smoking gun" as it is presented. I don't belive that Talisman directly insigated this incident, although thier precence was certainly the root cause. Any massive source of revenue woudl have caused this. I also am not sure they were complicit (sp?) with the events, although it sure looks like they went along with it. There maybe some reason they couldn't either stop it or take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again. Or maybe they did do something, they aren't saying and nobody seems to know.

[ Parent ]
Not how I see it... (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by Danse on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 06:20:46 PM EST

Just because there are good people working for the company doesn't mean that there aren't some truly evil bastards calling the shots. It's quite conceivable that only a few top people in the company were involved and that's why they're able to deny it. People who have friends/family that work there will not want to believe, and if they were smart enough to minimize the number of people involved and cover their asses, it will be quite difficult to prove anything.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Comalco example (none / 0) (#97)
by iwnbap on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:35:40 PM EST

In the 1960/1970s in FNQ in Australia there were mass evictions carried out by Comalco (now part of Alcan I think). Despite the constitution guaranteeing just compensation for resumption, there was a loophole - aborigines weren't covered as "people" by the consitution.

It's difficult to tell whether this was the government trying to court Comalco or Comalco putting pressure on the government, and ultimately its irrelevant which it was. Whole communities were starved out or rounded up by armed police. It certainly assisted the project that there were fewer people in the area.

My guess is that Comalco asked the government to "assist with troubles in the area" or some similar euphenism. The government then persecuted and starved out the people. The Comaclo people didn't look to hard at what was happening. I would imagine the situation with Talisman is the same; it doesn't make Talisman any less responsible. They're the ones profiting out of actions which they instigated.

See: http://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/about/community/pdf/capeyork/01.pdf
for a government report on the matter.

[ Parent ]
This is what I guess happened (none / 0) (#104)
by 0xA on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:24:44 PM EST

Purely a guess but imagine this:

Talisman guy: "Mr Government dude we are concerned about security in this area, could you look into it?"

Government dude: "Certainly"

Maybe Talisman thought they were going to send some cops to poke around, maybe station some soldiers in the area. I imagine they were as shocked as everyone else at what actually happened. Maybe not, nobody knows.

In a stituation like that is the company responsible for events? Yes. Could the company handle it better than Talisman has? Yep. Are they the same as the guy pulling the trigger? I don't think so.

All anyone knows is that the company asked the government to help. Nobody has been able to say what they asked for. It is hardly inconcivable that a Sudanese military officer decided to exterminate the residents rather than trying to properly police the area or make the company stop doing whatever was pissing of the residents.

There is no proof I am aware of that supports or excludes this example.

[ Parent ]

Whoa! (3.80 / 5) (#80)
by ksandstr on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 03:05:14 PM EST

And all this time, the Holy, Righteous North-American Empire has been going after advertised hitlers in eastern Europe. I knew the oil addiction does change the behaviour of suchly afflicted nations; I just didn't guess how much.

Talisman is not a transnational company. (none / 0) (#81)
by haflinger on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 04:15:15 PM EST

Talisman is an oil producer. It's a pretty big oil producer. But it's not one of the corporations that's bigger than a government, like Sony or Coca-Cola.

Its site places its worth at 10 billion dollars. It doesn't state which currency, but I suspect Canadian. It made about 900 million dollars Canadian in 2000 after taxes. By comparison, Coca-Cola made nearly 4 billion US in 2001. That's about seven times as much. (Sony, incidentally, either had a terrible year in 2001 or have some very strange accounting practices, maybe both. They managed to make $134 million US on over $58 billion of revenues.)

That said, it's interesting to speculate on what would happen if Talisman was forced to pull out of the Sudan. The OPEC countries have no interest in going in there (what? increase global production? we don't think so) and the Americans have imposed sanctions, which is why the Texan companies aren't there. Would BP go? Has the UK or the EU imposed sanctions? I don't know.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey

Those gentlemen are wrong (1.50 / 4) (#98)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 08:50:46 PM EST

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
If the Sudanese Christians were Kurds or Israelies (3.66 / 3) (#103)
by wytcld on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:10:35 PM EST

... we'd give them advanced weapons and/or air cover so that they could effectively declare their own state.

At least we can't be accused of overly favoring Christians - what with the better favors going to Muslims and Jews.

But seriously, the Sudanese government is about as straightforwardly evil as they come - we're talking about a place where slavery and slaughter are normal. Talisman should have its assets frozen for collaborating with them.

The notion that this is "constructive engagement" through trade would have also excused IBM for selling Hitler the punch cards to track Jews.

Kurds? (none / 0) (#115)
by linca on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 08:27:03 AM EST

When in recent history have the western nations overtly and significantly helped the Kurds? This people is still continuously being pounded on by the Turkish government, which treats them as terrorists. Oh, you mean only those from Irak? The US dropped leaflets encouraging them to revolt. They revolted, were repressed by the remnants of Saddam's forces, and finally were given a little bit of air cover. Nothing that compares with the amount of weaponry sold to Israel.

[ Parent ]
Oil and Blood (4.63 / 11) (#108)
by xs euriah on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:31:08 PM EST

Unfortunately, this is by far not the first story of this nature.

The NYTimes has an excellent special report on Shell in Nigeria. The villagers in the surrounding areas became fed up with remaining entrenched in poverty, whilst oil platforms were built centrally to their villages. With promises of new money, the surrounding villages remained without electricity, or fresh water. Further, the engineers assigned to the platforms would court the women of the villages, with money and everything that goes with it. The villagers, without promised money and with the unmarried village women being enticed away, attacked the platforms forcing out the staff in anger and protest. What happens thereafter is stirring, and rife with blood, brought about by the notion that the oil must flow.

The article is archived here.

Want more?

Human Rights Watch has an in depth examination of the situation here.

Business and Human Rights has a very good, current resource on the oil industry in Africa here.

Another solid NYTimes report is one of which you may have heard: Chevron helicopters transporting Nigerian death squads to drop off points in villages, ensuring again that the oil flows. It's entitled Deep in The Republic Of Chevron, written by Norimitsu Onishi. It's archived here.

There's a more liberal account of such ravagings by the Natural Heritage Institute. It's a .pdf, and can is located here.

Also, be sure to read the Shell report entitled People, planet, and profit. A link to the .pdf file can be found here. In the report, Shell brings up various issues concerning them, like offshore piracy, as well as the current situation in Nigeria. You can see their response to the bloodshed around page 25 of the report.

There is more to list, and unfortunately there will be more again.

And Myanmar (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by linca on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 08:29:34 AM EST

You're not even talking about what is happening there, where Total is supporting happily one of the most reppressive governments on the planet.

[ Parent ]
Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest (5.00 / 2) (#109)
by bigbird on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 11:52:02 PM EST

Many people will recall from their history texts that Henry II had a few issues with Thomas Becket.

With a "smoking gun" limited to an internal Sudanese police e-mail, I would tend to give Talisman the benefit of the doubt. Yes, bad stuff is happening in Sudan, and the world, unfortunately, does not care. However, don't call it a smoking gun until it bears the unmistakable signature of a Talisman executive, and the evidence of Talismans complicity is good enough to stand up in court.

I have no trouble believing that the Sudanese government is involved in the ethnic cleansing, as they have the troops and the (smoking, at least immediately after firing) guns. But without clear evidence linking Talisman to ethnic cleansing directives, I have to ask why this story even made the front page.


Sounds good enough to me (none / 0) (#114)
by dash2 on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 08:26:49 AM EST

Why wouldn't this evidence stand up in court? If they can prove it is a genuine internal email, it says that the Sudanese police believed themselves to be following the instructions of Talisman. It is hard to imagine a reason why the police would lie about this. To my mind, the email provides strong evidence that Talisman are doing what the article alleges: sponsoring human rights abuses in the Sudan.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
[ Parent ]
dash2 told me to abuse human rights in the Sudan (none / 0) (#119)
by sonovel on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 11:21:59 AM EST

Hello everyone. I've have gotten orders from dash2 for us to abuse human rights in the Sudan. So you all know what to do. Go nuts. That is all.


Can this be used to prove you are involved? Of course not.

Unless valid communication _from Talisman_ can be found, the email is hearsay.


To all and everyone, including echelon, carnivore, etc.:

dash2 did not tell me to commit human rights abuses. This post was just an example of how the above mentioned email means very little about Talisman's guilt or innocence. There is no smoking gun. Than you for your attention to this disclaimer.

[ Parent ]
two to tango (none / 0) (#121)
by maskatron on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 03:27:33 PM EST

Let's look at this situation, and assume the story is true. Talisman is hardly innocent, but let's also question why a government would mass murder it's own people. There's not any mention of this is the article. I know people don't expect much from their government, but shouldn't we expect them not to murder us for foreign interests and $$. Besides, governments have never done this sort of thing before...oh wait...nevermind.

Seriously, is the defense of the Sudanese government something like "well, Talisman told us to". C'mon, let's look at what is really wrong with this picture!

From a right-wing Christian organization... (none / 0) (#122)
by anazoal on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 04:33:00 PM EST

...That has had it's "relief" accreditation revoked by the U.N... Anything coming from the afore-mentioned group has to be taken with a grain of salt. BTW, atrocities have been committed by BOTH the government troops AND the rebels (look up UN documents).

Canadian Oil Company Allegedly Requested Assault on Villages | 125 comments (90 topical, 35 editorial, 0 hidden)
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