Sunday, May 03, 2009

Amazon Defense Coalition A Fake Company Created By Hinton Communications For Chevron Ecuador Case

Ok.  Here's one for the books.  Because I dare bring a balanced view of the Chevron Ecuador case, Karen Hinton of Hinton Communications decides that I must be paid by Chevron.  In other words, no one can possibly take a middle ground position, or even think that one exists.

The problem is that it does.  Moreover, I have evidence here that the claims against Chevron are part of Ecuador's plan to clear the Amazon of foreign oil interests and replace them with state-owned Petroecuador's oil drilling activities.  Ecuador cares about the poor of the Amazon far less than it cares about extracting petrodollars from the Amazon. 

A Front For Ecuador and Petroecuador

Ok.  Let's do some house-cleaning over the mess Hinton Communications has left for me to clean up.  The first fact is this:  the "Amazon Defense Coalition" does not exist except in the mind of Karen Hinton.  It's presented as a firm, a group, a company, but Hinton is the only constant spokesperson who issues material for this supposedly operating organization.

In point of fact, there's no "Amazon Defense Coalition" there's no website, no office, no president, no secretary and no budget.  The only person who is consistently listed is Hinton herself.  What she's done, in a brilliant stroke of PR genius that I've got to stop and admire for a second, is to consistently flood the Internet with press release after press release with the words "Amazon Defense Coalition" on the title, so what comes up in a search is for "Amazon Defense Coalition" are results with that listing, so the layperson says "Well, there is an Amazon Defense Coalition because of all these search results."

Yeah.  Right.  Look deeper.

The vast majority of the results are reprints of the same press releases Hinton sends out.  There's no evidence of anyone consistently writing for the "Amazon Defense Coalition" other than Hinton herself or Hinton Communications.  It's no wonder a Google lookup of "Amazon Defense Coalition Hinton" shows over 3,000 results!  

Karen Hinton should come clean and reveal what I already know: that her American company is working for the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa as a foreign agent and appears to be financed by them.

Hinton's ties in this matter are deep.  She's linked with Washington lobbyist Ben Barnes, who's linked with Steve Donziger, of the law firm Kohn, Swift, and Graft (who hired Barnes), and who's the master lawyer in the lawsuit against Chevron and who may be getting resources from the Ecuadorian government, too.   Indeed, the The Ben Barnes Group is listed as one of Hinton's clients and Hinton's the Amazon Defense Coalition so one can effectively say that Barnes has a major role in the Amazon Defense Coalition because it's really just Hinton who's paid by Barnes, who in turn is paid by Donziger / Kohn, Swift, and Graft, who must get its money from the Ecuadorian government, because they too stand to rake in billions, even with the one-third award stake Donziger will gain should he prevail in these legal battles.    It's worth the investment. 

The Ben Barnes Group is an effective lobbying organization, and its founder, Barnes, has made millions doing deals between special interest groups, companies, and powerful Democratic office-holders.  Barnes has served as the spokesperson for R. Allen Stanford, who's the focal point of the Stanford Investment Scandal. (To be fair, Barnes says he has played no role in Stanford's business dealings and is said to be "shocked and saddened" by the allegations against his friend and client.) 

It's hotly rumored that The Barnes Group hired former Speaker of the California Assembly, San Francisco Mayor, and SF Chronicle Columnist Willie Brown to work with them and Donziger against Chevron in the Ecuador case, and that news is "loose" because my friends - and I have a lot of them - tell me Willie's yappin' about the deal all over San Francisco!  I wonder how much of this gravy train he's going to take in? 


President Correa, Donziger, Barnes, and Hinton care about bucks, not the people of the Amazon.  And it's questionable at best that President Correa himself really cares about the poor people of the Amazon over oil exploration, as he would have others believe.  Indeed, in 2007, Correa's advanced a proposal where countries would pay them $4 billion to protect a part of their country called Yasuni National Park in the Amazon from oil exploration, but if they didn't get the money, Ecuador itself will drill for oil there anyway!

Guess what?  They didn't get the money!  That led to a new round of drilling that effected the Yasuni National Park, which is supposed to be the "protected area" according to the "World Rainforest Movement" which reports:

In December 2008, the Waorani denounced new oil exploration activities in the Cononaco oilfield. In order to appease the community, the Ecuadorian state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, paid them 35,000 dollars. But these new activities affect the Yasuní National Park, a protected area.

Previous oil operations in Cononaco have been inspected as part of the trial underway against Texaco, since the activities in the field were undertaken by this multinational oil giant. Of the 35 samples taken, 30 showed readings higher than those permitted by law.

The area in question forms part of both the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve and the Waorani people’s ancestral territory, and the contamination caused by oil activities there directly affects Yasuní National Park.

When the pipeline between the Auca and Cononaco oilfields burst in 2006, the resulting oil spill contaminated the Tiputini River which runs through the National Park. But the new exploration activity is even more menacing, because it is taking place in areas vital to the survival of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation.

So much for Ecuador's real concern about their own people, let alone the environment. Ecuador fans will say President Correa stopped oil exploration in the area, but he didn't stop it.  He put a stay on it.  That means after June 2009, oil exploration activities start again.  The Amazon is a revenue generator for Ecuador, but Correa knows he can't effectively win a lawsuit against Chevron and stick it to Ecuador's poor at the same time, so he made a brilliant political move designed to get him good press.

For a month.

If the "Amazon Defense Coalition" really cares about the Amazon, ask Karen Hinton why Correa's planning another round of oil exploration in the Yasuni National Park area?   Don't ask "SOSYasuni" because they cover for the Ecuadorian Government.  Indeed, by first asking for Western oil companies for payment to protect Yasuni, then threatening to drill for oil themselves (using Petroecuador) if they don't get the money, Ecuador's trying to crowd-out its own oil market from foreign interests and pave the way for the state-owned Petroecuador and the Petroecuador-owned Petroamazonas S.A to drill and gain revenue.   A very clever campaign.

Petroamazonas S.A  got the rights to drill at "Block 31" from Ecuador, which retook control from the Brazilian-owned oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras in 2008:

Petroamazonas, which is majority-owned by state oil company Petroecuador, is looking for financing from multilateral lenders and foreign countries to develop block 31, but Pastor didn't give details.
"We are in talks to get financing. If we obtain financing this block will be developed this year. We plan to drill around 14 wells," Pastor said.
Last year, the Ecuadorian government and Brazil's state-run oil firm, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, agreed to finish the contract for block 31, which was transferred to the state.
Block 31 has 200,000 hectares, some of this within the Yasuni National Park, which Unesco has declared a world biosphere reserve.

To the press, it looked like Ecuador's Correa was being an environmental hero, but in point of fact, he was just gathering more Ecuadorian territory to be drilled by the Ecuadorian government.  U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp was litterally kicked out of the country and while Chevron / Texaco left long ago, Ecuador's trying to extort money from them via this disingenuous environmental damage claim ; the indigenious people of the Yasuni area are an afterthought both to them and to Donziger's people; the color of money is the only green they care about.  Have doubts?  Ask Steve Donziger if he would work for free.

Joanne Colan Leaves Rocketboom

Ok, this is old news, but it's news. After three years and replacing Amanda Congdon, Rocketboom host Joanne Colan says "I'm outta here!"...Sorta.

Jack Kemp: Star Athlete and Politician Passes at 73

At this stage in history, 73 is considered young by some. It's at that age Congressman Jack Kemp passed away on Saturday. Of all Republicans, Representative Kemp is one I held in great respect. He wasn't the kind of conservative that demonized liberals. He was a gentleman and a football player that representated the best of the NFL.

This thing we call cancer -- which felled Kemp -- must be beated at all costs. It's all I read about of late, someone's death due to cancer.