– says Constitution sets limits on use of natural resourcesBy Samuel SukhnandanA local attorney who has extensive experience working with many oil companies is cautioning the current Government against making rash decisions when it comes to the remaining oil blocks offshore Guyana. This attorney, Melinda Janki, has said there should be no auction of the remaining blocks.Janki, who worked as an in-legal counsel for British multinational oil and gas company BP at its head office in London, said the first priority of the Government now should be to change the Petroleum Sharing Agreement (PSA) that Minister Raphael Trotman signed with Esso, Hess and Nexen. “The Government did not obtain competent legal advice. They did not obtain competent financial advice.Attorney-at-Law Melinda JankiObviously, the Government failed in its legal duties to the people of Guyana. They need to fix that before they do anything else,” Janki told Guyana Times on Sunday in an exclusive interview. Opposition Leader of Guyana, former President Bharrat Jagdeo, has called for the implementation of competitive bidding for the remaining oil blocks, or for the blocks to be kept for future generations.Jagdeo has been extremely critical of Government’s handling of the PSA with these oil companies. However, Government has said that a process of both direct engagement and selective bidding would be used to allocate the remaining blocks. Minister Trotman has expressed that direct engagements with other State-owned companies, such as Brazil’s Petrobras, would be sought in the future, but Janki has reminded that the Constitution of Guyana sets limits on what can be done with Guyana’s natural resources. She pointed to Article 149 J, which states: Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health or well-being; the State shall protect the environment, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures designed to prevent pollution and environmental degradation; promote conservation; and secure sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. “Present and future generations” means that one cannot use up everything now. They must take into account children, grandchildren. You must put aside things for the future. This is not about infrastructure and other projects. That is out of date economics based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth,” she opined adding that there is a legal duty is to hand on to the next generation an intact natural capital base.According to her, this is clear from Article 36 of the Constitution, which also states that, “The wellbeing of the nation depends upon preserving clean air, fertile soils, pure water, and the rich diversity of plants, animals and eco-systems.” Janki maintains that money can’t be eaten, nor can oil be drunk.“The Government has to comply with Article 36. They have to preserve clean air, fertile soils, pure water, and the rich diversity of plants, animals and eco-systems. Before they auction any blocks, they must correct the mistakes they have made in the deal with Esso, Hess and Nexen,” she added.Oil contractOn the issue of the largest oil contract signed with Government, the British-trained Guyanese lawyer told Guyana Times that most people have failed to realize that the PSA is not with ExxonMobil, but with Esso, Hess and Nexen. “The focus is on Exxon, (but) the focus should be on these 3 companies. Who are they? What are their assets? Do they meet the requirements of the law? Has the Government carried out a proper due diligence investigation of these 3 companies?” she lamented. Janki said the criticisms about this agreement are too many for the Government to simply ignore. “These criticisms have to be taken seriously on the financial aspect of the deal… From a legal perspective, the contract is very unbalanced. The Government of Guyana has agreed to terms and conditions that give these 3 oil companies (an) unusual amount of benefits. For example, there seems to be no real mechanism to check what is happening. How will Guyana know something as basic as how much oil comes out?”The attorney said the contract should be replaced by something that is fair to Guyana and the people of Guyana. She said it is not a matter of being pro- or anti-Government, but a matter of the national interest. “This is a matter of law. The Government owes a legal duty to the people of Guyana. If the people of Guyana are not satisfied with this deal, if they are not satisfied with what the Government has done, then the people are perfectly entitled to object to the deal, and to insist that the terms of this deal are altered,” she explained. She said ministers cannot just sign any deal that they like. A minister, she said, must exercise his or her power for the benefit of the country. Therefore she believes there is scope to change the contract.
“We are not safe and we will not be safe for many years,” LAPD Deputy Chief Mark Leap said at the forum sponsored by the university’s School of Public Affairs. “There are many, many more people who consider themselves jihadists now. And criminal enterprises are being used to support terrorist activities.” Officials said the links between organized crime and terrorism are particularly troubling in light of a message posted on an al-Qaida Web site saying the group wants to kill 4 million Americans in retribution for the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. and its allies in recent years. “Al-Qaida recently announced on their Web site that they have two main targets – Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia,” said Michael Intriligator, a terrorism expert and UCLA professor who moderated the forum. “I don’t know why they picked Melbourne, but Los Angeles was specifically mentioned as a target for their next terrorist attack.” Intriligator said Los Angeles has a number of potential targets, including LAX, its downtown skyscrapers and the nation’s largest port complex. He is especially concerned about the potential for an attack using a black-market nuclear device. “I think we are not at all prepared for this and we are living in what psychologists call a state of denial,” Intriligator said. “It’s such a horrendous thing to think about. We think it happened way back in 2001 and that it can’t happen again.” Gang involvement Sheriff’s Department Lt. John Sullivan, who helped found the county’s Terrorism Early Warning Group that has since been emulated by 26 cities nationwide, said organized crime groups in Los Angeles County are supporting international terrorists. “Al-Qaida has stated their intent to obtain nuclear weapons,” he said. “Whether they can do so is unknown. They have often in the past made good on their threats. So it’s reasonable to believe that it’s viable. “As far as attacking Los Angeles, they have attempted to attack Los Angeles in the past. It’s reasonable to believe they will again.” Sullivan also said officials are concerned about the notorious MS-13 street gang and its involvement in human smuggling and other activities on behalf of organized crime syndicates. “MS-13 has a lot of the characteristics that could facilitate terrorist activities,” Sullivan said. Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp., said officials are especially concerned about growing organized criminal activity and lawlessness in parts of Mexico and South America, the erosion of government authority and whether terrorist groups can exploit the situation to attack the U.S. “When we have criminal organizations becoming more powerful than the government then we will end up with increasing militarization along the southern border,” Jenkins said. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Jenkins said, the U.S. government has made undeniable progress in degrading the capabilities of al-Qaida, destroying its training camps, disrupting its flow of funding and thwarting a number of terrorist plots around the globe. “But we’ve had failures as well,” Jenkins said. “What we have not been able to do is dent their determination one bit. We have not been able to stop them from turning angry young men around the world into self-destructing terrorists.” email@example.com (213) 974-8985 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Are we safer today from terrorists than we were on 9-11? No, according to a panel of experts at a forum Monday at University of California, Los Angeles. America is just as vulnerable to attack as it was on 9-11, with street gangs funding terrorist groups and also draining resources from law enforcement agencies working to head off future attacks. The experts said the war on terrorism has been replaced by the war on gangs – a huge concern in Los Angeles, which has an estimated 40,000 gang members and is an attractive target for terrorists.