Updated (2x) – 80,000 Dead In Burma: The High Cost Of Oil

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Despite economic sanctions against Myanmar by the United States and the European Union, Total continues to operate the Yadana gas field, and Chevron Corp. has a 28 percent stake through its takeover of Unocal. Existing investments were exempt from the investment ban.

Both Total and Chevron broadly defended their business in the nation.

enter site “Far from solving Myanmar’s problems, a forced withdrawal would only lead to our replacement by other operators probably less committed to the ethical principles guiding all our initiatives,” Jean-Francois Lassalle, vice president of public affairs for Total Exploration & Production, said this week in a statement.

link: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/BU…

ABC News Australia is now reporting that the death toll from Cyclone Nargis in Burma could be as high as 80,000 right now, and a perfect storm of lack of sanitation, food and aid workers to – among other things – dispose of dead bodies decomposing in rice fields and local water supplies could lead to an even larger human tragedy. link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/sto…

A tragedy of massive proportions, brought to you by Big Oil.

China has consistently – and rightly – been criticized for propping up the military junta in Burma. But as Drew Thompson, director of China studies and Starr senior fellow at the Nixon Center in Washington, writes in this piece in the Asia Times, local competition for energy resources has given the junta some options:

With proven natural-gas reserves of about 2.48 trillion cubic meters, representing 1.4% of the world supply, and little capital or infrastructure to exploit it, Myanmar is increasingly at the center of a growing competition between India and China to develop and transport offshore natural gas to their respective home markets.

snip

India is the sixth-largest energy importer, and its import growth rate is climbing faster than China’s. Last month, India’s oil minister publicly expressed his concerns that it is losing out to China in the race to ensure its energy security. Though subsequently disputed by other parties, the minister illustrated his point by announcing that Myanmar had awarded China the right to build a pipeline from two offshore gas fields in which Indian state-owned companies hold a 30% minority stake.

link: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/C…

India isn’t the only country may look the other way when dealing with Burma due to short-term interests. CNN reports that the companies choosing to do business with the junta include ones from South Korea and Thailand, and that even economic santions by countries like the US and those in the European Union don’t completely shut off the spigots:

Despite economic sanctions against Myanmar by the United States and the European Union, Total continues to operate the Yadana gas field, and Chevron Corp. has a 28 percent stake through its takeover of Unocal. Existing investments were exempt from the investment ban.

Both Total and Chevron broadly defended their business in the nation.

“Far from solving Myanmar’s problems, a forced withdrawal would only lead to our replacement by other operators probably less committed to the ethical principles guiding all our initiatives,” Jean-Francois Lassalle, vice president of public affairs for Total Exploration & Production, said this week in a statement.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy urged Total this week to refrain from new investment in Myanmar; the French concern said it had not made any capital expenditure there since 1998.

Chevron’s interest in the Yadana project is “a long-term commitment that helps meet the critical energy needs of millions in people in the region,” said Nicole Hodgson, corporate media adviser for Asia.

link: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/BU…

Cue the ad featuring cute babies and sympathetic seniors strolling through a lush meadow on a spring day to the mellow sounds of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. (Not that Yoko Ono would give permission for that one).

The reality is that this small country, with a military dictatorship so inept that they can’t even figure out how to unload a Thai military aircraft with relief supplies at the airport (really, no joke) is sitting on a small but strategically valuable supply of natural gas and oil and go that is what keeps them in power.

And then all of that lovely oil is pumped out of the ground, refined, delivered to the local gas station where it ends up in a Ford SUV that then gets driven to the local grocery store, greenhouse gases leaking out the tailpipe. Those gases end up in the atmosphere, enhancing the effects of global warming which in turn creates extreme weather patterns like cyclones…

…and around and around we go.  

As bad a human tragedy as this natural disaster is, just like with Katrina, the lack of competent response by government officials will make it even that much worse.

And by comparison, Bush’s “heck of a job” is downright competent when compared with the actions of the junta to date.

The Telegraph UK is reporting that prisoners, instead of being evacuated during the storm, were shot instead:

More than 1,500 prisoners were locked in a hall and rioted, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

It reported: “Even though prisoners requested prison guards to open the doors and move them to safety, the authorities ignored their request. Some prisoners set fire to the prison hall and a riot ensued.”

Soldiers and riot police called to the prison then opened fire and killed 36 prisoners and injured 70, AAPP said.

link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…

Reuters is reporting that even though authorities in Myanmar have granted permission for the UN to fly into the country, aid workers are still waiting on visas:

“The government has given the authorisation to have the U.N. ship relief items to Myanmar,” said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“They may also give authorisation to a small team from OCHA to accompany the relief flight,” Byrs said, adding that the flight would leave “as soon as possible”.

snip

Byrs said a five-member U.N. disaster management assessment team in Thailand had not yet received visas allowing them to enter Myanmar.

Other U.N. and international aid agencies are also awaiting visas to allow them into the former Burma, which borders China, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand.

link: http://www.reuters.com/article…

If aid workers can’t get to the affected areas soon, the disaster could magnify as cholera and starvation stalk the survivors.

This is what we get when we decide to let our short-term comfort ride roughshod over the direction of our lives. Instead of developing alternate energies and conserving energy, we are left propping up a repressive government that – in the wake of a natural disaster which may indeed be linked to global warming created by burning the oil that the same government provides to willing buyers – shoots prisoners.

I’ll say it again: shoots. prisoners.

The human causes of this natural disaster – and the man-made disaster that will more than likely follow in its wake – are directly linked to the world’s insatiable need for dead dinosaurs to fuel our economy. If we are to solve problems like the one existing in Burma, the one in Tibet, and the one in Sudan as a logical first step we need to seriously discuss decoupling ourselves from our dead dinosaur addiction and look for safer, cleaner and less morally reprehensible ways to heat our homes and drive to the grocery store.

Please keep the people of Burma in your thoughts, prayers and meditations, along with the people of Tibet and all of the rest of us who – in large and small ways – contribute to the sorrows affecting so many in the world.

source link UPDATE  Due to frustrations over the red tape in getting aid workers into the country, France is floating a proposal that would force the Burmese government to accept international aid under the auspices of the UN:

International patience is already wearing thin, with France suggesting invoking a U.N. “responsibility to protect” clause and delivering aid directly to Myanmar without waiting for approval from the military.

“We are seeing at the United Nations if we can’t implement the responsibility to protect, given that food, boats and relief teams are there, and obtain a United Nations’ resolution which authorises the delivery and imposes this on the Burmese government,” Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Paris.

link: http://www.reuters.com/article…

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=comprare-viagra-generico-200-mg-pagamento-online-a-Bologna UPDATE (2)  This report from Al Jazeera sheds some light on the opposition’s claims that during the storm and immediately thereafter the military junta, instead of trying to stabilize the situation, was busy trying to prevent opposition activists from campaigning against the upcoming vote on the Constitution (which they claim would only entrench the junta’s hold on the country):

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  1. You are a true asset to the blogsphere!

    • kj on May 8, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Doctors Without Borders

    http://www.doctorswithoutborde

    http://www.doctorswithoutborde

  2. is that more and more resources, globally, will be going to treating symptoms, rather than causes.  Food aid, rather than resources for PermaCulture / Urban Agriculture / Etc …  Money for paying for fossil fuels rather than estabilishing sustainable energy systems … And, massive resources for disaster relief post hurricanes / cyclones rather than resources for reducing CO2 emissions/global warming.

    We have a moral / ethical responsibility for that disaster relief, but those resources can’t come at the expense of doing investment to change toward a better path for the future.

    PS:  Well done discussion with very powerful videos.

    • kj on May 9, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    an entire country’s landscape now waste. people rotting alive and dead, all to rape the earth for oil.

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