Two women scaled flagpoles outside Chevron’s world headquarters in San Francisco yesterday and unfurled a banner that said, “Do people kill for oil? People do.” This was part of a day of protests against the oil transnational giant that were held in California, Lagos and the Niger Delta. Demonstrators charged that Chevron has blood on its hands, after reports confirmed once again that the oil company had flown the Nigerian military into communities along the Niger Delta, this time this past January 4, and that a number of villagers were killed and injured as a result. The two women in San Francisco, Genevieve Raymond and Shannon Wright of the Rainforest Action Network, were subsequently arrested by police. While Shannon Wright was perched atop the flagpole, she spoke with Democracy Now! on a cellular phone.
Shannon Wright: “This is Shannon Wright from Rainforest Action Network. I’m here with Project Underground, as well. And we are about 35 feet up the flagpoles at Chevron’s world headquarters deploying a banner that reads, 'Do people kill for oil? People do.' We are denouncing Chevron’s complicity and participation in killings in Nigeria. There’s been a series of killings of villagers in Nigeria who are trying to defend their rights and have a clean environment. They have asked that the oil companies operate in a respectful and clean way, or they must leave. Chevron has all but admitted that their helicopters and boats have been used to actually transport the Nigerian military, who have been taken — raided different communities. So we are here at Chevron’s headquarters asking that Kenneth Derr, the CEO, come forward and take a step in the right direction by suspending operations in Nigeria until a peaceful and meaningful dialogue takes place with the communities and their concerns are directly addressed.”
That was Shannon Wright. In fact, yesterday was her birthday. After the protest, four people were arrested, were held overnight. And they did get part of what they wanted: Chevron has finally agreed to a dialogue with community activists. Also, the latest news from Washington, D.C., Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich is calling for a congressional investigation into Chevron and other oil giants’ participation in killings and violence in the Niger Delta, and the Securities Exchange Commission is still considering whether to allow a shareholder resolution introduced by some shareholders against Chevron as a result of their activities in Nigeria.
The Pentagon is sending 51 U.S. warplanes to keep up the pressure on Serb leaders to approve a peace plan for Kosovo. NATO has threatened airstrikes if a deal isn’t reached by this weekend. Speaking this morning upon his arrival in Seattle, defense chief William Cohen said the U.S. wants to at least prepare for taking action.
Today’s Washington Post reports that photos obtained by states for driver’s licenses may be then sold to a New Hampshire company. The firm, Image Data, supposedly wants to build a database of license photos to help fight crimes like credit card and check fraud. But the paper says Image Data didn’t disclose that it got nearly $1.5 million from Congress, as well as technical help from the Secret Service. According to The Washington Post report, officials in Washington apparently saw a potential for battling terrorism and other crimes, but Florida and Colorado quickly canceled photo sales after a rash of complaints.
This news from London: Seven environmental protesters were arrested today after dumping four tons of genetically modified U.S. soybeans outside British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official residence. Greenpeace U.K. Director Peter Melchett said, “This is one of the few households in the United Kingdom where the occupier seems to want to eat the stuff.” He said this as police moved the protesters’ truck, decorated with the slogan, “Tony, don’t swallow Bill’s seed.” The giant sacks of beans blocked the entrance to Downing Street and the official residence of Blair, who has spoken out enthusiastically in favor of genetically modified foods and says he eats them himself. The government has found itself embroiled in a national panic over the possible risks to human health and the environment from GM products. Newspapers have dubbed them “Frankenstein foods,” and supermarkets have been trying to reassure their customers.
And this news from Indianapolis: German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG participated in World War II atrocities committed by Nazi doctors who experimented on Jews, this according to a federal lawsuit filed by a Holocaust survivor. Bayer paid Nazi officials for access to those confined in concentration camps and collaborated in Nazi experiments as a form of research and development.