Tag Archives: State Department

Is Rex Tillerson Going To Save Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Life?

The State Department has been in the state of chaos over several days, between the Trump Transition Team failing to staff up the Executive Branch, high level officers leaving on their own accord, and so on.

And a mere hours ago, Oil Man Rex Tillerson has been officially sworn in as Security of State.

Given Tillerson’s alleged and real links to Russia and Putin, his inexperience in matters of government and international affairs, his newness, and the state of the State Department, we are moved to ask the following question:

Is anyone in the United States, in the State Department, going to do anything to save Vladimir Kara-Murza’s life?

Who is Vladimir Kara-Murza, you ask?

The Body of Boris Nemtsov, in the bag, at the location of his assassination. The Kremlin is in the background.  One wonders if anyone in particular was watching out a window to see it happen.
The Body of Boris Nemtsov, in the bag, at the location of his assassination. The Kremlin is in the background. One wonders if anyone in particular was watching out a window to see it happen.
Boris Nemtsov was a strong and widely respected leader of the opposition against Vladimir Putin. In February, 2015, as he was crossing the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, a short distance away from the Kremlin, a handful of gunmen jumped out of a car and gunned him down.

Vladimir Kara-Murza was Nemtsov’s long time colleague and advisor, and to a large extent, Kara-Murza was Nemtsov’s heir apparent.

In May 2015, not long after the assassination of Nemtsov, Kara-Murza was poisoned. He nearly died, and his recovery was long and arduous. During his sickest days, while in a Russian hospital, British and American movers and shakers, mainly in the foreign service (so, for the US, that meant the State Department) acted aggressively to get Kara-Murza out of Russia and to the US. He had been living in the US, where he had a green card, and his family lives in Virginia. This worked. Kara-Murza ended up in the US where he has been recovering from his near death.

Meanwhile, a documentary has been made about the Nemtsov, and Kara-Murza decided to go back to Russia to partake in the showing of that documentary. People tried to talk him out of it, but he decided he needed to go to carry out his political activities.

This morning, Kara Murza lies again in intensive care, this time at least as sick as before, in Russia, poisoned.

So, here’s my question.

Is anyone in the United States, in the State Department, going to do anything to save Vladimir Kara-Murza’s life?

Is Rex Tillerson, who in 2013 received the Russian Order of Friendship award, and who now heads a State Department in the state of chaos, going to order immediate action to intervene as needed to save Kara-Murza’s life again? Are state department people already doing this on their own? If so, will Tillerson encourage and support that? Or order it stopped? Or what?

Just asking. I hope they can save his life.

The whole story and more:

Did the Keystone XL Environmental Contractor and the State Department Act Inappropriately or Illegally?

Several environmental advocacy groups are asking the US State Department to launch an investigation over the State Department’s handling of the Keystone XL review.

This is a bit nuanced but important, and I want to make clear what is going on here.

Normally, environmental impact assessments are done by private contractors ultimately hired by the entity that is building the project that could have the impacts. I often hear people complain that Trans Canada, the group that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline across the United States to allow the export of it’s bitumen (a kind of soft coal like oily thing) overseas to places like China and Europe, “hired the contractor” that did the environmental impact assessment, and therefore they are corrupt and evil and so on and so forth. But this is how it works. The entity doing the work is responsible to pay for and supply support for the review. There is nothing wrong with that.

Also, there is a more specific allegation that individuals who work for the contractor that did the Keystone XL Pipeline review have worked previously for Trans Canada and other oil interests and therefore the are corrupt and evil and so on and so forth. This, in itself, is also incorrect. Yes, those individuals have worked for Trans Canada and other oil interests, but this is normal, expected, and in fact, a good thing. You really don’t want to have individuals with zero experience working on these important jobs, and you really don’t want to have an industry where people get trained up, with advanced degrees and apprenticeship, to work in a given sub sector of environmental management, then allow them to have one contract then put them on an ice flow.

Having said all that, which is true and must be kept in mind when complaining about Trans Canada and Keystone XL, there is a problem. The system where corporations hire contractors to look into environmental effects is corruptible. This isn’t the most corruptible way to do this. If government agencies did the work themselves, or hired subcontractors, that would be corruptible too. There is no way to do this that is not corruptible.

For this reason, regulatory agencies are supposed to keep a close eye on what happens. There are forms that must be filled out honestly that might reveal potential conflicts of interest, for example. Once these forms are in the hands of the appropriate regulatory agencies, their veracity must be checked, and if there is any problem, that must be very closely looked into.

From the information I’ve seen, it seems almost 100% likely that the process of arranging for the second Keystone XL environmental impact assessment involved some serious mistakes, and there is almost as good of a chance that those mistakes involved purposeful manipulation of information by the environmental contractor as well as by the State Department itself.

I’m not going to try to prove this to you or even summarize the information because it is all well laid out in THIS PDF of a letter from Bold Nebraska, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nebraska Farmers’ Union, Public Citizen, Sierra Club and 350.org. It would appear that the contractor, ERM, failed to disclose its ties to the American Petroleum Institute, TransCanada and other companies that stand to benefit from Keystone. There may be nothing wrong with having those ties but they must be disclosed so they can be looked into and monitored. Also, the State Department employees attempted to cover these ties up during the review process, which implies collusion between the regulatory agency and the contractor.

Go read the letter and learn all the details.

Then, you might want to sign this petition from Friends of the Earth to “Tell Secretary of State John Kerry: Investigate Big Oil’s Influence on the Keystone XL Review.”

Private contractors hire other private contractors to do environmental review, and this process is overseen by regulatory agencies, with the State Department in this case being a regulatory agency. But who oversees that process, to makes sure it stays clean, fair, and legal? Well, you, the citizen. And who helps you do that? Organizations created by citizens, such as those noted above.

So that’s what is happening now. Time to act. Your move…..