|AFRICA: Blood diamond scheme 'is failing'|
June 24th, 2009
Officials are meeting to review the Kimberley Process, amid criticism that the scheme, set up to certify the origin of diamonds to assure consumers that by purchasing diamonds they are not financing war and human rights abuses, is failing. The Kimberley Process emerged from global outrage over conflicts in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone, largely funded by the plundering of diamond resources.
|IRAQ: Big Oil Ready for Big Gamble in Iraq|
by Gina Chon, Wall Street Journal
June 24th, 2009
Next week, Iraqi officials will auction off oil contracts to foreign companies for the first time since Iraq nationalized its oil industry three decades ago. Some 120 companies expressed interest in bidding for the contracts, and thirty-five companies qualified. They include Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Italy's Eni SpA, Russia's Lukoil and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec.
|AFRICA: Battle to Halt Graft Scourge in Africa Ebbs|
by Celia W. Dugger, New York Times
June 9th, 2009
The fight against corruption in Africa is faltering as public agencies investigating wrongdoing by powerful politicians have been undermined and officials leading the charge have been dismissed, subjected to death threats and driven into exile. The search is on for more effective ways to tackle corruption, including intensified legal efforts to prosecute multinational corporations that pay the bribes and reclaim loot that African political elites have stashed abroad.
|GHANA: Energy groups lured by Ghana’s Kosmos|
by Carola Hoyos, Financial Times
June 4th, 2009
Big international energy groups and state-owned oil companies from China and India are circling Kosmos Energy for its Ghanaian oilfield assets, which have been valued at $3bn-$6bn by analysts. The sale could open an oil corridor off the west African coast, stretching as far north-west as Sierra Leone.
|US: 'Roadless' Forest Areas Now Under Vilsack|
by David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post
May 29th, 2009
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a temporary order yesterday governing development in "roadless" areas of national forests, requiring all new projects to be approved by him personally. A USDA official said it is unclear whether projects with a strictly commercial aim, such as logging or mining, will be allowed.
|WORLD: When Chevron Hires Ex-Reporter to Investigate Pollution, Chevron Looks Good|
by Brian Stelter, New York Times
May 10th, 2009
When Chevron learned that “60 Minutes” was preparing a potentially damaging report about oil company contamination of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador, it hired a former journalist to produce a mirror image of the report, from the corporation’s point of view. An Ecuadorean judge is expected to rule soon on whether Chevron owes up to $27 billion in damages.
|NIGERIA: A Writer’s Violent End, and His Activist Legacy|
by Patricia Cohen, New York Times
May 4th, 2009
A new novel, "Eclipse," by Richard North Patterson, is based on the case of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed in November 1995 by the government of General Sani Abacha. The circumstances, along with related incidents of brutal attacks, are getting another hearing. This month the Wiwa family’s lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell over its role in those events goes to trial in federal court in Manhattan.
|US: Oil Giants Loath to Follow Obama’s Green Lead |
by Jad Mouawad, New York Times
April 7th, 2009
The Obama administration seeks the most ambitious transformation of energy policy in a generation. But Big Oil is not on board. Royal Dutch Shell said last month that it would freeze research and investments in wind, solar and hydrogen power, and focus its alternative energy efforts on biofuels. BP, a company that has spent nine years saying it was moving “beyond petroleum,” has been getting back to petroleum since 2007, paring back its renewable program. The list goes on.
|WORLD: The Jewel Trade's Fading Luster|
by V. Dion Haynes and Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post
March 28th, 2009
The drop in U.S. demand for high-end jewelry in a slumping economy is having ripple effects around the globe as stores close, workers are laid off in mass in the diamond-polishing factories of Gujarat, and countries like Botswana experience a dramatic drop in diamond revenue.
|AFRICA/CHINA: As Chinese Investment in Africa Drops, Hope Sinks|
by Lydia Polgreen, New York Times
March 25th, 2009
As global commodity prices have plummeted and several of China’s partners in Africa have stumbled deeper into chaos, China has backed away from some of its riskiest and most aggressive plans. China has sought to secure minerals in Africa through agreements to build huge projects in exchange for minerals. African governments are now realizing that these deals are loans against future revenue, and falling prices could leave them saddled with debt.
|US/CANADA: Alaskan lake’s fate could echo across continent|
by Todd Wilkinson, Christian Science Monitor
March 24th, 2009
A landmark legal case now before the US Supreme Court holds huge implications for lakes across the continent. Nearly four decades the Clean Water Act was passed to protect waterways from industrial pollution, a proposal by Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. to dispose of tons of effluent in Alaska's Lower Slate Lake has sparked an international debate.
|CHILE: Chilean Town Withers in Free Market for Water|
by Alexei Barrionuevo, New York Times
March 15th, 2009
Nowhere is the system for buying and selling water more permissive than in Chile, where water rights are private property, not a public resource, and can be traded like commodities with little government oversight or safeguards for the environment. The small town of Quillaga is being swallowed up in the country’s intensifying water wars.
|ECUADOR/CANADA: Canadian Mining Firm Financed Violence in Ecuador: Lawsuit|
by Jennifer Moore, Tyee Online
March 3rd, 2009
Three villagers from the valley of Intag in northwestern Ecuador are suing Copper Mesa Mining Corporation and the Toronto Stock Exchange. They allege not enough has been done to reduce the risk of harm being faced by farmers and community leaders who have faced violent threats and attacks for opposition to a large open-pit copper mine in their pristine cloud forests.
|EUROPE: Europe to Allow Two Bans on Genetically Altered Crops|
by James Kanter, New York Times
March 2nd, 2009
European Union governments delivered a blow Monday to the biotechnology industry, allowing Austria and Hungary to maintain national bans on growing genetically modified crops from Monsanto. The market for genetically engineered crops is worth several billion dollars worldwide.
|CANADA: The Canadian Oil Boom: Scraping Bottom|
by Robert Kunzig, National Geographic
March 1st, 2009
Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alberta's oil sands is now a gamble worth billions.
Syncrude and Suncor are two of the largest producers of bitumen; Canada is now the largest importer of oil to the United States, with tar sands exploitation slated to increase rapidly over the next five years.
|US: Mr. Whipple Left It Out: Soft Is Rough on Forests|
by Leslie Kaufman, New York Times
February 25th, 2009
The U.S. obsession with soft toilet paper has driven the growth of brands like Cottonelle Ultra, Quilted Northern Ultra and Charmin Ultra. But fluffiness comes at a price: millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada.
|US: Plant That Spilled Coal Ash Had Earlier Leak Problems|
by John M. Broder, New York Times
January 8th, 2009
The chief executive of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the coal-burning power plant responsible for an enormous flood of coal ash in East Tennessee late last month, acknowledged Thursday that the plant’s containment ponds had leaked two other times in the last five years but had not been adequately repaired.