Noam Chomsky on the GOP: Has Any Organisation Ever Been So Committed to Destruction of Life on Earth?
Amy Goodman recently spoke with Noam Chomsky about comments he made regarding the Republican Party’s committment to the destruction of life and being “the most dangerous organisation on on earth”. (Noam Chomsky)
On the same day the Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson as Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the House voted to kill a transparency rule for oil companies that Tillerson once lobbied against while CEO of Exxon Mobil.
So all in all, a good day for America’s largest oil and gas firm.
Using the little-known Congressional Review Act, the House GOP voted on Wednesday to kill an Obama-era regulation that would require publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose any payments that they made to foreign governments, including taxes and royalties.
The rule itself dates back to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act — when senators from both parties included a provision requiring greater disclosure from mining and drilling companies working abroad. The hope was to cut down on corruption in resource-rich developing countries by increasing transparency.
Exxon Mobil Corp. boasts that it drills for oil and gas on six continents and sells fuel and chemicals in almost every country on the planet. That global reach will pose a wealth of conflict-of-interest questions for former CEO Rex Tillerson now that he’s the U.S. secretary of state.
Tillerson, who spent his entire 41-year career at Exxon, cut his financial ties under an ethics agreement after Donald Trump nominated him, giving up deferred stock rights in return for a $180 million cash payout to an independently managed trust. Tillerson also must recuse himself from decisions “directly and substantially related to” his former employer for two years under the president’s ethics order for his appointees.
“He has severed himself in a pretty final and conclusive way, and I just don’t see him being influenced given the structure of his disengagement,” Stan Brand, an ethics lawyer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, said in an interview.
Yet the $350 billion company is so big, and so deeply entrenched in countries around the world, that Tillerson’s past will inevitably shadow him, critics say. They say that no ethics agreement can protect against Tillerson viewing the world through “oil-coated glasses,” as Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said this week.
[…] This is the backdrop for Trump’s rise to power—our movements were starting to win. I’m not saying that they were strong enough. They weren’t. I’m not saying we were united enough. We weren’t. But something was most definitely shifting. And rather than risk the possibility of further progress, this gang of fossil-fuel mouthpieces, junk-food peddlers, and predatory lenders have come together to take over the government and protect their ill-gotten wealth.
Let us be clear: This is not a peaceful transition of power. It’s a corporate takeover. The interests that have long-since paid off both major parties to do their bidding have decided they are tired of playing the game. Apparently, all that wining and dining of politicians, all that cajoling and legalized bribery, insulted their sense of divine entitlement.
So now they are cutting out the middleman and doing what every top dog does when they want something done right—they are doing it themselves. Exxon for secretary of state. Hardee’s for secretary of labor. General Dynamics for secretary of defense. And the Goldman guys for pretty much everything that’s left. After decades of privatizing the state in bits and pieces, they decided to just go for the government itself. Neoliberalism’s final frontier. That’s why Trump and his appointees are laughing at the feeble objections over conflicts of interest—the whole thing is a conflict of interest, that’s the whole point.
We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.
All this is dangerous enough. What’s even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.
Speculation is unnecessary. All that’s required is a little knowledge of recent history. Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” a history of the ways in which crises have been systematically exploited over the last half century to further a radical pro-corporate agenda. The book begins and ends with the response to Hurricane Katrina, because it stands as such a harrowing blueprint for disaster capitalism.
It began with a tweet, as so much does these days. The first shot in the coming war was fired in a 140-character burst by Shervin Pishevar, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. “If Trump wins I am announcing and funding a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation,” said the first in a volley of tweets by the Iranian-American technology investor. “As 6th largest economy in world,” he said three tweets later, “economic engine of nation, provider of a large % of federal budget, California carries a lot of weight.”
This call to arms was retweeted thousands of times in those bewildering first hours of the Age of Trump. By the next morning, the movement for California to secede from the United States had made national headlines, with Pishevar anointed the movement’s leader. It even had a name, Calexit, an echo of the Brexit movement, which will eventually cleave Great Britain from the European Union. The nativist tone of Brexit foreshadowed the xenophobia of Donald Trump. Calexit is a kind of nativism too, except it’s fundamentally sunny in disposition—a Brexit for American liberals much more closely aligned with Western Europe than West Virginia.
Unrelated to Pishevar’s tweetstorm was a Sacramento rally held the day after the election (but planned long before) by Yes California, a secession group run by a young man from San Diego named Louis Marinelli. Marinelli, 29, wants to use California’s ballot measure process to have his fellow citizens vote for secession, much as they have voted to ban plastic bags and legalize recreational marijuana. Unlike Pishevar, whose secessionary tweets were plainly fired off in a fit of frustration, Marinelli has been long at work on this issue and will eagerly lay out his reasoning to anyone willing to listen. “America is a sinking ship, and the strongest position for California to take is one on its own lifeboat setting its own course forward,” he tells me. “A strong California holding its ground and attempting to influence the decisions of those in Washington at the helm of this sinking ship will find itself at the bottom of the ocean with them.”
Exxon Mobil under its CEO Rex Tillerson frequently pressed the U.S. State Department for help in negotiating complex business deals and overcoming foreign opposition to its drilling projects, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept.
The requests for help — documented in diplomatic cables obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from DeSmogBlog as well as some previously released by Wikileaks — raise a whole new series of conflict-of-interest concerns about Tillerson, who retired as Exxon Mobil CEO soon after being nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state.
Consider: Exxon Mobil sent State Department officials a request to help overcome local opposition to fracking in Germany; in Indonesia, the State Department acted as a advocate for Exxon Mobil during contentious negotiations between the firm and the Indonesian government over a major gas field in the South China Sea; and in Russia, Exxon Mobil asked the U.S. ambassador to press the Russians to approve a major drilling program, noting that a “warming of U.S.-Russian relations” overall would also help the company.
Under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, the State Department started its own in-house energy promotion department, the Bureau of Energy Resources. The team works on a variety of energy projects, but its most high-profile programs have been focused on spurring the worldwide spread of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technology, with the hope that doing so would blunt the influence of certain foreign powers. The Bureau’s Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program (formerly the Global Shale Gas Initiative) has in the past engaged with Exxon Mobil for projects in Poland and eastern Europe.
Exxon’s Climate Change Denial and Human Rights Record Make Rex Tillerson Unfit to be U.S. Secretary of State
In the first interview, Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman speak to oil and energy journalist Antonia Juhasz about the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Juhasz’s recently wrote an article titled ‘Rex Tillerson Could Be America’s Most Dangerous Secretary of State‘. In the second interview, Sharmini Peries speaks to CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. In the third interview, Kim Brown speaks to Jamie Henn and Antonia Juhasz about whether Tillerson would conduct U.S. foreign policy in the interest of the oil and natural gas industry. And in the fourth interview, Kim Brown speaks to Kathy Mulvey of the Union of Concerned Scientists about Exxon continuing to avoid accountability for its climate change disinformation campaign. Mulvey worked on The Climate Accountability Scorecard. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)
Last September, a few outlets were reporting the counterintuitive findings of a new HSBC research report on global oil supply. Unfortunately, the true implications of the HSBC report were largely misunderstood.
The HSBC research note — prepared for clients of the global bank — found that contrary to concerns about too much oil supply and insufficient demand, the situation was opposite: global oil supply will in coming years be insufficient to sustain rising demand.
Yet the full, striking import of the report, concerning the world’s permanent entry into a new age of global oil decline, was never really explained. The report didn’t just go against the grain of the industry’s hype about ‘peak demand’: it vindicated what is routinely lambasted by the industry as a myth: peak oil — the concurrent peak and decline of global oil production.
INSURGE intelligence obtained a copy of the report in December 2016, and for the first time we are exclusively publishing the entire report in the public interest.
Four British companies are alleged to have played a key part in a multimillion pound bribery scandal involving a leading Italian politician.
Luca Volontè, a former member of the Union of the Centre party in Italy, has been accused of helping quash a human rights report criticising Azerbaijan, one of the world’s most authoritarian countries. The Observer has also established that one of the UK companies was allegedly linked to a scandal involving Russian organised crime.
Volontè, who is also president of the European People’s party in the Council of Europe, is being investigated by the Milan public prosecutor’s office for allegedly accepting €2.39m in bribes.
It is claimed that Volontè received the money in exchange for persuading the People’s party to vote against a 2013 report by the council, Europe’s leading human rights organisation, that highlighted the plight of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. He denies any wrongdoing.
The heads of the CIA and FBI have both come on the record to say that America’s traditional enemy, Russia, covertly interfered in the elections by hacking the Democrat Party.
Whether you believe this story or not is irrelevant to a far more important point: that the American establishment is now at war with itself. By leaking information on what it says is evidence of a Russian information influence operation, the US intelligence community is conducting its own influence operation against an incoming president.
Trump is preparing his team to take over the White House in January 2017. Yet make no mistake: Trump is the establishment. His proposed appointees are hardly unfamiliar with the corridors of power in the US, many of them having held long careers in US military and intelligence agencies, or in the House and Senate, or as billionaire entrepreneurs.
And yet, he finds himself at logger heads with the incumbent establishment. So the establishment is fracturing, as a powerful fringe comes to fore.
The news that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State is astonishing on many levels. As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.
Tillerson figures prominently in “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” a book I wrote about the corporation that came out in 2012. He declined my requests to interview him for that project, but I turned up at several public appearances he made and asked him a few questions from the reporters’ gallery. I also studied his public remarks, reviewed accounts of his activities reported in State Department cables obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests or released by WikiLeaks, and conducted interviews with other ExxonMobil executives, retirees, friends, competitors, civil-society activists and business partners from Asia to Africa to the Middle East.
- Rex Tillerson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
- Behind the deep ties between Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and Russia
- Russia Applauds Trump Dream Team as Exxon CEO Eyed for State
- Exxon CEO Expected to Head State, While ‘Enemies List’ Worries Energy Dept.
- Inside Exxon’s Great Climate Cover-Up: From Early Climate Change Researcher to Epic Climate Denier
Trump And Exxon: CEO Who Could Be Secretary Of State Runs Company That Often Lobbied The State Department
If ExxonMobil’s top executive is appointed to run the State Department, he will be running an agency his company has repeatedly lobbied in recent years.
Under Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who is expected to be nominated Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the oil colossus has directly lobbied the State Department on everything from sanctions against Russia and Iran to climate policy to the Trans-Pacific partnership and other controversial trade deals. An IBT review of federal records shows Exxon has been listed as lobbying the State Department on 20 separate government disclosure forms since the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. The forms list a combined $43 million worth of total Exxon spending on lobbying, though not all of that was spent specifically lobbying the department that Tillerson would run.
Tillerson has mocked investments in renewable energy and has downplayed the effects of climate change. As secretary of state, he would be in a position that has been deeply involved in matters that affect Exxon and other oil and gas corporations. In the last few years, the State Department has forged an international drilling pact, promoted hydraulic fracking across the globe and negotiated climate and trade pacts that shape the fossil fuel economy
The European Commission has announced its new blueprint to phase out coal and energy inefficiencies, while supporting clean energy — but a coalition of civil society groups warns that the revised EU Renewable Energy Directive is fatally flawed.
And guess why? Because certain industries are not going to let go of their profits.
The campaign groups — Global Forest Coalition, Woodland League, Econexus, Biofuelwatch, Transnational Institute, NOAH, Corporate Europe Observatory, and Amis de l’Afrique Francophone-Bénin — point out that in the EU energy plan, bioenergy and waste account for some two-thirds of all energy classed as ‘renewable’. Most of this ‘bioenergy’ will also come from burning wood, both in power stations and for heating.
However, scientific studies increasingly prove that big bioenergy projects produce more greenhouse gases even than traditional fossil fuels.
According to Biofuelwatch, the EU’s cavernous demand for wood to burn for energy is directly tied to the acceleration of logging, land-grabbing from indigenous peoples in countries like Brazil and Ghana, and the conversion of more forests, farmland and grasslands into monoculture tree plantations. This has endangered biodiversity and caused “added harm to forests and people.”
Meanwhile, a new report by the conservation group Birdlife reveals that masses of protected forest areas across Europe are being felled to provide wood for the burgeoning biomass industry.
The European Union’s proposals for revising its renewable energy policies are greenwashing and don’t solve the serious flaws, say environmental groups.
The EU gets 65 per cent of its renewable energy from biofuels – mainly wood – but it is failing to ensure this bioenergy comes from sustainable sources, and results in less emissions than burning fossil fuels. Its policies in some cases are leading to deforestation, biodiversity loss and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than burning coal.
“Burning forest biomass on an industrial scale for power and heating has proved disastrous,” says Linde Zuidema, bioenergy campaigner for forest protection group Fern. “The evidence that its growing use will increase emissions and destroy forests in Europe and elsewhere is overwhelming.”
On 30 November the European Commission unveiled a draft “clean energy” package for the period up to 2030. On the surface, these proposals address some of the issues with existing renewable energy policies.
But environmental groups who have been analysing the proposals say that the changes will make little difference.
“It’s almost worse than doing nothing,” says Sini Erajaa, the bioenergy policy officer for BirdLife Europe & Central Asia, who describes the changes as greenwashing.
Yes, Donald Trump’s politics are incoherent. But those who surround him know just what they want, and his lack of clarity enhances their power. To understand what is coming, we need to understand who they are. I know all too well, because I have spent the past 15 years fighting them.
Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.
I first encountered the machine when writing about climate change. The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.
[…] The battle against criminality has intensified under President Muhammadu Buhari. The NSCDC has stepped up its patrols, and the army has launched Operation Crocodile Smile against armed militants, young men who claim they are fighting for a greater share of the wealth generated from their region.
The gunmen have responded with attacks on oil installations, the kidnapping of oil workers and assassinations. The military, so far, has avoided the heavy-handed clampdowns that were its tactics in the past.
It’s been a long struggle for the communities in the delta, who feel they’ve always been exploited by the powers that be. A century ago, it was over the valuable palm oil they produced. Now the fight has turned to crude.
What some call the “120 years’ oil war” began in January 1895, when 1,000 ethnic Brass men in 40 canoes sailed to an outpost of the colonial Royal Niger Company in the delta to protest the control the trading company had over the palm oil trade.
It was a violent confrontation, and they took 60 hostages. In revenge, three weeks later, the British Navy attacked a Brass village and massacred 300 people.
Many still celebrate King Koko, the leader of the Brass people at the time, as the first freedom fighter in an ongoing struggle for a fair distribution of oil wealth.
Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya was a miserable place for a business trip.
In 2008, a few years after renouncing its nuclear and chemical weapons program, the desert nation remained a menacing and ugly place, with cratered highways, awful restaurants with no booze, and Qaddafi’s leathery visage everywhere, staring balefully down from billboards. The dreary capital, Tripoli, sat at the edge of the Sahara, in the least barren sliver of a country defined in the West by dictatorship, terrorism, and billions of dollars’ worth of oil.
Goldman Sachs’s Youssef Kabbaj was one of the few that enjoyed the commute. A securities salesman based out of the bank’s London headquarters, Kabbaj found that Libya reminded him of his native Morocco, and he considered the ruins in Tripoli’s old quarter enchanting. The city had a single decent hotel, the Corinthia, a crescent hulk the color of sand, and that year Kabbaj was such a frequent guest that he stored a rack of pressed suits there at all times. With slick black hair, round cheeks, and a mischievous smile, he was fluent in English, French, Arabic, and the language of international finance.
Qaddafi’s peaceful turn had reopened Libya to Western banking for the first time in two decades. Its $60 billion in oil wealth, no longer dammed up by international sanctions, was ready to flood into the market, as directed by the Libyan Investment Authority, Qaddafi’s brand-new sovereign wealth fund. With his North African pedigree, Kabbaj had been one of the first at Goldman to spot the opportunity. The LIA had become his biggest client, transforming him in a year from rookie salesman into possibly the No. 1 rainmaker at the world’s most profitable investment bank. He was 31 years old.
[…] That argument has been made in a number of places over the last few years, but the most widely republished version is an essay by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Politico, arguing that the Obama administration began to lay the groundwork for overthrowing the Assad regime in 2009 after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected a pipeline proposed by Qatar. That planned pipeline agreed to by Qatar and Turkey, Kennedy argues, would have linked Qatar’s natural gas to European markets through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, so it would have deprived Russia of Europe’s dependence on its natural gas.
But Assad not only prevented the realization of the Qatari plan but signed up with Iran for an alternative pipeline that would make Iran, not Qatar, the principal Middle East supplier of natural gas to European energy markets, according to the “pipeline war” account, so the Obama administration decided that Assad had to be removed from power.
It’s easy to understand why that explanation would be accepted by many anti-war activists: it is in line with the widely accepted theory that all the US wars in the Middle East have been “oil wars” — about getting control of the petroleum resources of the region and denying them to America’s enemies.
But the “pipeline war” theory is based on false history and it represents a distraction from the real problem of US policy in the Middle East — the US war state’s determination to hold onto its military posture in the region.
A BBC investigation has uncovered a catalogue of safety concerns at the UK’s most hazardous nuclear site.
Panorama found parts of Sellafield regularly have too few staff to operate safely and that radioactive materials have been stored in degrading plastic bottles.
The programme was told that parts of the facility are dangerously rundown.
Sellafield says the site in Cumbria is safe and has been improved with significant investment in recent years.
The Panorama investigation was prompted by a whistle-blower – a former senior manager who was worried by conditions.
Why Did Hillary Clinton Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition Team?
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times, about Hillary Clinton announcing former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. (Democracy Now!)
Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity.
She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen.
And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team — the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments.
With the Republican National Convention set to wrap up on Thursday, and the Democratic National Convention getting ready to kick off in Philadelphia next week, one prominent oil executive is noting that the industry has fared better under Democrats than Republicans.
Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, says that he has noticed the trend during his 42 years in the business.
That may sound strange considering the two parties’ diverse platforms when it comes to energy. The Republican party is touting deregulation and has said that it does not support the Paris Climate Accords. Going a few steps further, the party has plans to defund renewable energy, and open public lands and the outer continental shelf to drilling. Additionally, the party also wants to leave the regulation of fracking and drilling to the states, and increase oil and gas exports.
Conversely, the Democrats are calling for an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and oppose the expansion of oil and gas production. They also want to phase down energy production on public lands. The party supports the inquiries into the alleged “climate change cover-up” by Exxon Mobil, and wants to see the nation using only renewable energy by the middle of the century.
The long-awaited Chilcot Report was finally released today, examining the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War and occupation. Unfortunately, on the most important question, the report’s conclusions are all but silent: why did the UK go to war?
Chilcot takes at face value the Blair government’s claim that the motive was to address Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and limits its criticism to mistakes in the intelligence on WMD, and on insufficient administrative and military planning. He shows a remarkable lack of curiosity about the political factors behind the move to war, especially given the weakness (even at the time) of the WMD case.
Most important of these is oil. Buried in deep in volume 9 of the 2.6 million-word report, Chilcot refers to government documents that explicitly state the oil objective, and outlining how Britain pursued that objective throughout the occupation. But he does not consider this evidence in his analysis or conclusions. Oil considerations do not even appear in the report’s 150-page summary.
Does Exxon Mobil have a constitutional right to sow doubt about climate science? That’s the subject of a high-stakes legal battle playing out between dozens of state attorneys general, members of Congress, corporate executives, and activists.
Last fall, investigations by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that the oil giant has decades of internal documents showing that its own scientists and executives knew fossil fuels contributed to climate change. Publicly, the company argued that the threats posed by global warming were far from certain, presumably as part of an effort to fight off regulations.
The revelations have sparked a barrage of legal actions. The attorney generals of Massachusetts, California, and New York launched investigations of Exxon, while Democratic AGs from other states have expressed their support. Some have drawn parallels to the tobacco industry’s deception on the dangers of smoking. Exxon has countered that the investigations are unconstitutional and has filed motions asking courts to block the subpoenas. “This…is about freedom of political speech,” the company recently argued in the Massachusetts case.
The Gulf of Mexico has been struggling with the pollution from offshore oil drilling for a long time, a struggle that was dramatically highlighted by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill six years ago.
But now it has come to light that the oil industry is conducting offshore fracking in the Gulf, which is even more dangerous than conventional oil drilling, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The group received copies of more than a thousand fracking permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) following a court order.
Under the Obama administration, between 2010 and 2014, more than 1,200 permits to frack in the Gulf were approved through a largely rubber-stamp process, the Center for Biological Diversity said. The EPA, which does not permit offshore drilling, has meanwhile allowed fracking companies to dump their wastewater directly into the ocean, with little to no environmental review and no system of water monitoring.
Corrupt Elites Will Fight Hard to Stop the Dismantling of the Looting Machines from Which They Draw Their Vast Wealth
Can corruption be controlled by reform or is it so much the essential fuel sustaining political elites that it will only be ended – if it ends at all – by revolutionary change?
The answer varies according to which countries one is talking about, but in many – particularly those relying on the sale of natural resources like oil or minerals – it is surely too late to expect any incremental change for the better. Anti-corruption drives are a show to impress the outside world or to target political rivals.
The [recent] anti-corruption summit in London may improve transparency and disclosure, but it can scarcely be very effective against politically well-connected racketeers, busily transmuting political power into great personal wealth.
This is peculiarly easy to do in those countries in the Middle East and Africa which suffer from what economists call “the resource curse”, where states draw their revenues directly from foreign buyers of their natural resources. The process is described in compelling detail by Tom Burgis in his book, The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth. He quotes the World Bank as saying that 68 per cent of people in Nigeria and 43 per cent in Angola, respectively the first and second largest oil and gas producers in Africa, live in extreme poverty, or on less than $1.25 a day. The politically powerful live parasitically off the state’s revenues and are not accountable to anybody.