Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Big Oil Boss goes to Washington

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the Atlantic Institute

For all the talk and promises of "Draining the Swamp," a phrase that itself has a negative connation because of history, President elect Trump is packing his administration and advisors with all kinds of Wall Street people. Trump himself is no stranger to Wall Street and has been friends and buddies with CEOS of Corporations who could careless about their employees let alone the larger American society.  As long as their respective corporations and multinational companies keep churning money and the employees do not complain too much about their salaries.

Rex Tillerson considered for U.S. Secretary of State

Among his latest pick is Texan Rex Tillerson the CEO of ExxonMobil for U.S. Security of State. The name is appropriate. Rex in Latin means King. Tillerson is no king of the company. He has been with the company all his life from university until now, literally working from the bottom of the company to the top. He started at the company in 1975 when Exxon and Mobil were still two separate entities. While Tillerson might represent the stereotypical Texas oil tycoon minus the cowboy imagery, he insists that he has the business experience that would compensate for his lack of diplomatic skills. He is no George W. Bush Jr either.

Tillerson interview with Charlie Rose 2013

ExxonMobil has experienced a few questionable and outright shady events concerning fracking and pollution in several towns across Louisiana among them Baton Rogue oil refinery fire. It is one of the largest refineries in the United States. Local Baton Rogue environmental groups blamed EXxon's poor facility maintenance as one of the main causes of the refinery fire. Exxon is perhaps still remembered for the ExxonValdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska on Good Friday March 24, 1989. Exxon is not the only big oil company to be blamed for environmental disasters. Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil pipe lining product in the U.S. was also at fault a few months ago for an oil explosion that killed one person and caused damage to Shelby, Alabama. The explosion caused gas prices to spike and the fire lasted for a few days that was finally put out on November 1st. There was also the unforgivable BP (British Petroleum) disaster that affected the poorest states Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana that is still affecting local people. Many families of oil workers and oil spill cleaners are suffering from chemical sickness ranging from rashes, respiratory problems and skin peelings five years later. The fishing businesses and wildlife continue to suffer to this day. Louisiana relies on fishing for its livelhood. Louisiana cuisine is famous for its stews, meats and seafood particulary the crayfish. The oil workers and their families and local people affected by the explosion and pollution will never forget ExxonMobil, BP or Colonial Pipeline.

America's Gulf Oil Spill Cover up Journeyman Pictures (2010)

It's about the Oil Pipelines

The mainstream media networks and geopolitical pundits have only focused on Tillerson's supposed personal connection to Putin. Like Trump, Tillerson is seen as more of "Putin's pick" for U.S. government and not Trump's own choice alone. The pundits wrongly believe and insist to the heavens that Russia is solely responsible for hacking the U.S. elections. That Trump's victory is by default Putin's victory. The accusation alone is mind blowing and makes no sense. It not only brings up the question of why Russia would even want to tamper with U.S. elections to point of assuring Trump victory. But the whole "Russia hacked the U.S. elections" is not true. There is no evidence for it. It is true that Russia is perhaps one of the few countries that doesn't annoy Trump. The president elect has a quite relaxed attitude to Russia in general. Tillerson also appears to be chilled in his previous oil dealings with Russia. He is a businessman by trade and like Trump, Tillerson understands the importance of putting business before anything else. He's been doing it most of his life. Being a petroleum industry insider Tillerson will tend to do business with countries that have lucrative oil pipelines flowing with sweet crude. Russia has access to the strategic oil pipelines in Baku, Azerbaijan and Turkey Cephan pipeline. Plus Russia has one of the largest oil companies Gazprom exporting oil to most of Europe. This includes Gazprom's oil exports to Western Europe too. If anything Tillerson would want to avoid the geopolitics and turn a deaf ear to foreign policy criticisms to keep ExxonMobil's trade deals with Russian oil companies intact. He is not the first or last oil CEO to do so. Tillerson's final hurdle before he even sets foot at the Department of State will be to pass the senate confirmations in January. If he survives that, he'll be on his way to being secretary of state. If he is not picked, the victims of oil spills and refinery explosions will be relieved.


Monday, 12 December 2016

Marrekesh Climate Change Summit COP 22, Moroccan beauty and Great Green Wall

Morocco and its place in the world. A kingdom for the last thousand years, Morocco is in Africa. North Africa to be exact. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to its West and Canary Islands. To the South is the occupied country of Western Sahara, to East is Algeria and South east is Mauritania. To Morocco's North is Spain and Corsica.

Marrakesh, the historical and famous city in Morocco is currently hosting COP 22 short for the Conference of Parties on Climate Change. The North African country has been dealing with its own climate change and is currently home to one of the largest solar power farms in Africa. The Sahara Desert is expanding south below Senegal, Mali and Chad. Many African countries are facing climate changes. Flooding and coastal erosion are huge problems in countries such as Liberia, Sudan, Senegal, South Africa and Ethiopia. Drought has historically been a reoccurring problem for many  countries from East to West and North to South. Johannesburg, South Africa's largest metropolis just experienced one of the worst flash flooding in years that swallowed thousands of homes, destroyed bridges, highways and left many people homeless and stranded. Major African leaders are currently in Marrakesh to attend COP 22. Also in attendance is outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who hoping that climate change will be at the top of many country's agenda. Among the African leaders at Marrakesh are Uhuru Kenyetta Kenyan Prez and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.

International Festival of Culture and Language Senegal and Morocco

Morocco and Senegal are ancient neighbours. Both countries share centuries old trade and diplomatic relations going back 500 years. Senegalese Islam and some architectures was influenced by Morocco and Morocco by Senegal. Outside Senegal, the Moroccan government has been reaching out to its other West African neighbours lately as part of its push to revive Moroccan interest in the wider African continent. Morocco is not part of the African Union although Moroccan history, culture and language is tied to Africa. It was originally kicked out of the African Union in for its illegal occupation of Western Sahara, the last remaining colony on the African continent.
Senegal and 10 other Saharan countries have been working on the Great Green Wall in Widou, Senegal to stop the spread of desertification from heading south towards Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and DR Congo. At least once a year, West Africa experienced mini sandstorm wind known as the hammatan winds that travel from the sahara to the cities and towns south of Senegal and Mali. 

Great Green Wall Al Jazeera

Morocco is known around the world for being a beautiful country. It has been featured in many movies, TV series and documentaries on Africa and the Middle East. Many authors and travellers of the past and present have commented on Moroccan beauty. Moroccan cuisine is a blend between African, Asia and slightly European. Most famous being the Coucous and targine. While the architecture and mountains is unique. There is also the cities of Tangier, Fez and Casablanca, Essouia not to forget movie studios. Marrekesh is famous for its ancient city, Jemaa el fna markeplace which led to the launch of UNESCO in 1980s (Jemaa is a UNESCO World Heritage site), its non political local culture and traditions going back to Almorovids and even before Islam. That's why Marrekesh was chosen because it is apolitical and more cultural and friendly face of Morocco.

Fidel Castro Ultimate Political Survivor

A pain in the butt for the U.S., Castro became the boogeyman of U.S. Latin American policy for more than half a century. Soon after the 1959 Revolution, Cuban government launched an anti-literacy campaign Alfabetizacion across the country especially in Rural Cuba to completely eradicate illiteracy in Cuba by sending armies of teachers to educate millions of Cubans who didn't have access to schools or substandard education. Today, Cuba's literacy rate is 99.8% and every citizen has access to school. Following the philosophy of global solidarity, Cuba exports specialized doctors to neighboring countries and around the world also provides financial and educational support to doctors from across the developing world to study at the Medical School of the Americas in Cuba. Still Castro is condemned as a dictator by the United States and Western countries.

The Real Life old man and the Sea. Castro with Ratzinger

This time the news is for real. The world is shocked. Fidel Castro Ruz died on November 25, 2016 at the age of 90 years old. He died so far from natural causes. It would make him one of the last remaining revolutionary leaders from the early days of the Cold War era. Curiously, he died 3 days after the 53rd anniversary of JFK's death on November 22. For decades the tabloids have jokingly and falsely reported that Castro had died some years back. However, the reports proved to be false. Fidel Castro's death was announced yesterday by the younger Castro brother Raul. First through Cuban state media than carried across the world by international media. The Cuban exiles in Miami, Florida (who celebrated his death with joyful cheers and flag waving) have always seen Fidel as an unending oozing wound in their sides for more than 50+ years. The exiles were so sure that Fidel would croak soon enough.
       As history would have, Fidel Castro has become the ultimate political survivor. He has lived through 11 U.S. presidencies, outlive six American presidents, also witnessed 6 papal conclaves beginning with Pope John 23rd in 1958 and ending with the current Pope Francis. He and the Cuban government aided many African liberation movements throughout the 1960s-1980s beginning with Congo to Eritrea. Most of his allies of the Cuban Revolution and 1960s anti colonial independence movements are all gone including Muamar Gaddafi. Even Castro's recent strongest ally Hugo Chavez couldn't outlast him. Castro has lived long enough to see himself become a mythical figure and a legendary icon. He has also witnessed the reopening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Not to mention that Castro never broke from standing up to the United States and imperialism. Even up to his last week. Castro has driven the CIA insane over his ability to cheat death on multiple occasions. Even more rare, Castro was able to meet with the more popular popes John Paul II, Ratzinger and Francis.

CCTV News: Castro was a Liberation Icon in South Africa

The man had friends and supporters all around the world. They are all saluting and consider him a lasting inspiration in the same vain as Che, Simon Bolivar, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, etc. Giants in their own right. The die-hard revolutionaries, decolonization writers, artists, fighters, intellectuals, separatist movements, the veterans and heroes of the liberation and independence movements in Angola and South Africa who received help and back up from Cuban soldiers many Afro-Cubans. Cuba is respected for fighting against the apartheid regimes in South African, Angola, Naimba and providing support for Eritrean Liberation Front against Ethiopia in 1970s. Inside Cuba and outside, many ordinary people have playfully regarded Castro has immortal.

Castro and Che with (back turned)

Castro as a teen playing basketball

He survived the 1959 guerilla war along with his right hand man Che Gueverra (died in 1967) that turned into 1959 Cuban Revoluton that overthrew the hated dictator Fulencio Batista. He next survived the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, a U.S. back invasion where hundreds of Cuban exiles were used in hopes of creating an American style Democracy on the island. He traded through the ongoing U.S. embargo on Cuba. So far, the embargo is the only thing that Castro couldn't beat. The CIA tried to assassinate him over the last 50+ years to no avail. Castro managed to survive 600+ assasination attempts. A world record that has not been repeated by any world leader since. Castro is also one of the longest ruling leaders (1959-2008) that is not a monarch. The onslaught of propaganda and the U.S.' negative outlook on Cuban revolution couldn't shake Castro's popularity in Cuba and across the Third World. He was one of the earliest revolutionary leaders to be vilifed and demonized as a terrorist, madman, a permanent thorn in the side of the U.S. government and American Empire, an existential threat to the U.S., a Soviet puppet and a Communist boogeyman bent on world domination. Castro knows what it is like to be hated beyond reason. Heaven forbid the Global South see an inspiration in Cuban Revolution and the benefits of Cuba's 1960 Literacy campaign and one of the best healthcare systems in the world built with less resources than many wealthy countries. Inside Cuba, Castro was both admired and hated. He was also an enigma.