forest rent corruption cheney stimulus exemptions

Corruption Afflicts Africa and America Dearly
bp bribing environmental violations kbr dispersants

Dick Cheney faces bribery scandal charges in Nigeria

Corruption is not just a problem in Africa. Look at America, too. Everywhere needs the Earth ethic. We trim, blend, and append five 2010 articles from: (1) Daily Monitor, Nov 14, on Uganda by Chris Obore; (2) BBC, Dec 3, on Kenya by Kevin Mwachiro; (3) Reuters, Dec 3, on Cheney by Nick Tattersall; (4) Center for Public Integrity, Nov 28, on oversight by Kristen Lombardi and John Solomont; and (5) Al Jazeera, Dec 6, on the EPA by Dahr Jamail.

by Obore, by Mwachiro, by Tattersall, Lombardi & Solomon, and by Jamail

A senior official at Uganda’s Internal Security Organization is being accused of using his office to encroach on forest land and unlawfully trying to displace a foreign investor.

Lt. Herbert Asiimwe Muramagi, the director of operations at ISO, has reportedly taken 180 hectares of forest land from a company -- Global Woods -- that had been given a 50-year lease to manage the Kikonda Forest Reserve in Kiboga District.

Hudson Andrua, the acting executive director of National Forest Authority, is charged with aiding Lt. Muramagi in using the land leased to others for their own tree farm. Allegedly, Mr Andrua authorized NFA to receive Shs1.019 million from Lt. Muramagi as rent for the grabbed land.

Andrua tried to justify his dealings with Lt. Muramagi by saying that Global Woods was not paying annual ground fee for the area encroached by the spy chief.

This matter raises the issue of well placed security officials who use their offices to frustrate other investors and who also use their positions to intimidate managers of public entities to grant them either tenders or other deals without following the due process.

The Kenyan government has said it could be losing nearly one-third of the national budget to corruption. Senior finance ministry officials told a parliamentary committee the losses could be nearly $4bn (£2.5bn) a year.

Kitu kidogo -- the Swahili for "something small" -- is how the huge kickbacks meant for development projects are commonly described in Kenya.

Taking 10% of an awarded tender or inflating project costs are said to be the commonest means of dipping into government coffers.

Dick Cheney, former US vice president under Texan George Bush, will be charged by Nigerian anti-corruption police in a $180 million bribery case against a former unit of oil services firm Halliburton. Cheney once headed the firm.

Houston-Texas-based engineering firm KBR is the former Halliburton unit. Albert "Jack" Stanley, a former KBR chief executive officer, worked under Cheney when he headed Halliburton. Stanley pleaded guilty in 2008 to bribing Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in construction contracts.

KBR pleaded guilty last year to US charges that it paid $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to Nigerian officials to build the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the Niger Delta.

KBR and Halliburton reached a $579 million settlement in the United States but Nigeria, France, and Switzerland have conducted their own investigations into the case.

Halliburton split from KBR in 2007 and has said that its current operations in Nigeria are unrelated. Nigeria, a member of the oil cartel OPEC, is one of the largest oil exporters in the world.

JJS: With an election coming up in Nigeria, this charge could merely be dirty politics, an attempt to smear the party in power -- or not. The flow of public dollars in the US is also hard to call corrupt -- or not.

The Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars to some of the nation’s biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight.

The administration has awarded more than 179,000 “categorical exclusions” -- 96% of stimulus projects so far -- funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Firms with histories of serious environmental violations have won blanket NEPA exemptions.

The so-called “stimulus” funding came from the $787-billion legislation officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009.

Some polluters acknowledged they would produce hazardous air pollutants or toxic metals. Still others won stimulus money just weeks after settling major pollution cases. Yet nearly all got exemptions, including DuPont.

“It’s outrageous,” said Joe Kiger, a Parkersburg WV school teacher suffering from liver disease. Kiger filed a 2001 class-action lawsuit alleging he and thousands of citizens were being poisoned by DuPont’s C8 in their drinking water. His suit ended in a multimillion-dollar cleanup effort and a medical study funded by the company for area residents devastated by cancer and other ailments.

JJS: Corporations tried to gut NEPA in Congress. What failed legislatively is now happening administratively.

Several Gulf Coast residents were experiencing sicknesses attributed to toxic chemicals released from BP's well blow-out and the dispersants the company has used to sink the oil. These chemicals are extremely hazardous to humans.

In October, Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, conducted blood tests for volatile solvents on eight people who live and work along the coast. Most had these toxic chemicals at levels several times higher than the national average.

In response to the explosion that released 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP used 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants -- banned in 19 countries -- to sink the oil.

On May 20, the EPA told BP it had 24 hours to find a less toxic alternative, but the EPA's request was ignored.

Jesse Fineran works within the Hancock County Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. He said, "Nothing the EPA has told us has turned out to be true."

He continues to find submerged oil patties and patches in State/County waters and marshes, as well as a mysterious dark colored foam.

Residents say their pleas for help and transparency continue to be ignored by regulators.

JJS: Personally, I don’t ask much of government. Yet even that much -- defend our rights to a healthy Earth and to a share of Earth -- we do not get. We must call for geonomics loudly.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

Also see:

East Africa against corruption cartels, for common market

Will BP Make Out Like Bandits From Its Gushing Oil?

Whoever they are, criminals must face the consequences

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