Tillerson alias e-mails from his ExxonMobil era prove elusive

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate. (Reuters)
Updated 23 March 2017
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Tillerson alias e-mails from his ExxonMobil era prove elusive

NEW YORK: Emails sent under a pseudonym by current US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was still CEO of ExxonMobil, and which are sought by a court, cannot be produced, lawyers for the oil giant said.
According to a letter dated March 21 and sent Wednesday by ExxonMobil to AFP, these e-mails, sent under the name Wayne Tracker, cannot be recovered for the period from September 5, 2014 to November 28, 2014.
The letter is addressed to the Supreme Court of the State of New York as part of an investigation opened in November 2015 by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
It is investigating whether ExxonMobil had adequately informed investors and the general public of potential financial risks posed by the need to limit the use of fossil fuels to fight global warming.
The probe established that Tillerson had used a personal account under the pseudonym Wayne Tracker for a number of years, in addition to his official corporate e-mail account. Wayne is his middle name.
As the Wayne Tracker account was classified as non-personal, it was “exempted from the suspension of the ordinary course ‘file sweep,’” the letter said.
Attorneys for ExxonMobil said that after several search series on this account, it was not possible to produce e-mails between September 5, 2014 and November 28, 2014.
The issue was limited to the Wayne Tracker account, according to the letter.
Schneiderman said in mid-March that Tillerson used this e-mail address between 2008 and 2015 to communicate with other group leaders on a number of issues including those linked to climate change.
A spokesman for ExxonMobil told AFP on Wednesday that “many of the e-mails from the secondary account (Wayne Tracker) were also available from Tillerson’s primary account or from e-mail accounts of employees he communicated with, which were on litigation hold.”
He added that at a Wednesday hearing the New York State Supreme Court found that the oil group had responded adequately to Schneiderman’s demands.
Tillerson, who celebrates his 65th birthday on Thursday, took the helm of ExxonMobil in 2006 and adopted sharply contrasting views with those of his predecessor Lee Raymond on global warming.
He notably spoke up in favor of a carbon tax in 2009.
But as head of the State Department Tillerson now works under the administration of President Donald Trump, which has voiced skepticism of climate-change science.


North Korea destroys 10 guard posts to lower tensions

Updated 34 min 20 sec ago
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North Korea destroys 10 guard posts to lower tensions

  • Seoul’s Defense Ministry said it confirmed the dismantling of 10 North Korean guard posts on Tuesday
  • South Korea began dismantling 10 of its guard posts with dynamite and excavators last week

SEOUL: North Korea on Tuesday blew up some of its front-line guard posts as part of an agreement to ease tensions along its heavily fortified border with South Korea, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said.
In September, the Koreas’ militaries agreed at a leaders’ summit in Pyongyang to eventually dismantle all guard posts inside the 248-kilometer long, 4-kilometer wide border. They later withdrew weapons and troops from 11 of their guard posts and decided to completely dismantle 10 of them by the end of November.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry said it confirmed the dismantling of 10 North Korean guard posts on Tuesday. It said North Korean soldiers had used hammers to tear down parts of the guard posts ahead of Tuesday’s near-simultaneous demolitions. A ministry statement said North Korea had informed the South of its plans in advance.
The ministry released photos showing parts of structures on what it said was the North Korean side of the central portion of the border, an explosion with black smoke at the site, and debris scattered around the area with no trace left of the structure.
South Korea began dismantling 10 of its guard posts with dynamite and excavators last week. Ministry officials said Tuesday that they haven’t completed the dismantling work yet.
The Korean border, the world’s most heavily armed with an estimated 2 million land mines, has been the site of deadly fighting and bloodshed. Called the Demilitarized Zone, it was originally created as a buffer at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
South Korea had about 60 posts inside the DMZ guarded by layers of barbed wire and manned by troops with machine guns. North Korea was estimated to have 160 such front-line posts. Once the dismantling is done, the two Koreas are to jointly verify their work by the end of December. They haven’t decided when they will dismantle the rest of the guard posts.
Under the September agreements, the Koreas have also taken steps to disarm the shared border village of Panmunjom, halted live-fire drills along the border and have been removing mines at a front-line area to conduct their first joint searches for Korean War dead.
Relations between the Koreas have improved since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reached out to South Korea and the United States early this year with a vague promise to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. US-North Korea talks on the North’s nuclear program haven’t produced much progress since Kim and US President Donald Trump held the countries’ first summit in Singapore in June.