Nigeria: Bribery investigators accuse Cheney
On Dec. 2, authorities arrested 23 officials of companies accused of paying $180 million in bribes to secure a $6 billion liquefied natural gas contract during the 1990s. They include the Texas-based Halliburton Corporation, the world’s second largest oilfield services provider, which was headed from 1995 to 2000 by former U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney. According to globalresearch.ca, an arrest warrant for Cheney “will be issued and transmitted through Interpol.” At issue are payments to Gibraltar based Tristar Company that served the consortium of corporations involved with the natural gas project. Last year Albert Stanley, an executive with Halliburton subsidiary KBR, pled guilty to the bribery charge and Halliburton offered a $579 million settlement of the case, which apparently was not the end of the matter.
Gaza: Report claims humanitarian disaster
Oxfam UK reports that five months after Israel announced the easing of its “illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip,” almost no construction material enters Gaza, “humanitarian items, including vital water equipment” are unavailable, and two-thirds of Gaza factories lack raw materials. As a result, 80 percent of the population depends upon international aid. These findings are part of a detailed report jointly released on Nov. 30 by 26 humanitarian aide and human rights groups, including Amnesty International UK, Oxfam International, and Save the Children UK. The report, entitled “Dashed Hopes,” calls for a new diplomatic initiative aimed at lifting the blockade, including a UN Security Council meeting, free movement of people, exports and imports across Gaza borders and accountability for human rights violations. See full report.
South Korea: Temp workers on strike, UAW supports
Temporary contract workers began a sit-down strike at Hyundai’s Ulsan plant on Nov. 15. The corporation hires one-fifth of its workers for brief terms and thus can get away with “poverty level wages,” according to UAW president Bob King. The Supreme Court in July struck down an arrangement by which façade subcontracting companies do the hiring, a practice that nevertheless continues. Temporary workers struck after their subcontractor employer closed down and Hyundai indicated its replacement would rehire only those who had dropped their new membership in the Korean Metal Workers’ Union. Korea Times reports the strike has delayed completion of 18,700 autos. The UAW staged a solidarity demonstration at a Hyundai installation in Ann Arbor on Dec. 6. Learn more here.
Cuba: Solidarity with the Cuban Five
“Terrorism was the constant shadow” enveloping the sixth International Colloquium for the Liberation of the Five, held in Holguin Nov. 17 – 21. The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, celebrating its 50th anniversary, had organized the event. Andres Gomez, based in Miami and Havana, reports on rebelion.org that 15 Cuban émigrés from the United States attended, along with 325 delegates from 50 countries, in order to build international solidarity with five Cuban men in U.S. jails. Their crime had been to defend Cuba against terror attacks. The conference featured workshops, plenary sessions, informal contacts, interchange with Holguin residents, and a march through the city joined by thousands of students.
Guatemala: Plague of violent deaths continues
The Catholic Archdiocese of Guatemala’s Human Rights office (ODHA) reported Nov. 30 that between 1997 and Sept. 2010, the annual average of people killed or disappeared in that country was 4,487. EFE news reports also that when 200,000 Guatemalans died during 36 years of armed conflict, between 1960 and 1996, the comparable figure was 5,556. The annual rate of violent deaths since 2008, when President Álvaro Colom took office, is the highest since 1996. Slightly more than half the respondents to an ODHA-conducted survey link epidemic violence to poverty. Government data indicate 3,000 women have been killed since 2005 – 577 so far this year, with no perpetrator identified in 95 percent of cases.
Spain: U.S. may have meddled in judicial proceedings
Following Wikileaks’s release recently of U.S. diplomatic communications, leftist parliamentarians are castigating the Attorney General for failure to prosecute U.S. soldiers accused of killing journalist José Couso in Baghdad in 2003. In 2005, a Spanish court ordered the arrest of three of them. A cable released in May 2007 has U.S. Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre assuring the State Department that the Spanish government had “helped in the wings” so that an appeals process would “end the investigation into the reporter’s death.” In another communication reported by IPS, Aguirre indicated “behind the scenes we have fought tooth and nail to make the charges disappear.” To reporters, Couso’s family complained that the government “rather than defend national sovereignty [acts] in the service of a foreign power.”