vrijdag 19 januari 2007
George Bush's Crusading Scorecard (2001-2007)
The Look of a War against Islam
By Tom Engelhardt
Just five days after the September 11th attacks in 2001, in a Q and A with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, a President with a new mission, a new cause, and a new purpose in life told the American people that, though they had to "go back to work tomorrow," they should now know that they were facing a "new kind of evil." He added, "And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."
This crusade, this war on terrorism. It had such a ring to it; in the Arab world, of course, it was a ring many centuries old and deeply disturbing. And it came so naturally, so easily off the President's tongue (though it took days of backtracking by his spokesmen and prominent presidential references to "the peaceful teachings of Islam" perverted by "a fringe form of Islamic extremism" to begin to make up for it). But that little "slip" of the tongue spoke volumes. It signaled that George W. Bush was already in his own heroic dream world and, only those few days after the 9/11 attacks, had both a "crusade" on the brain and "victory" in that crusade firmly in mind. As a result, he made this promise to the American people: "It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century."
Now, here we are, just over five years further into the 21st century, and the President, who only nine months ago was still proudly (if a little desperately) trumpeting his "strategy for victory" in Iraq, now speaks vaguely about "success," or about a "victory," no longer decisive, that "will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved… [with a] surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship." And when it comes to our "children and grandchildren living peacefully into the 21st century," tell that to the 21,500 Americans about to be "surged" into the murderous streets and alleys of Baghdad.
As for that "Global War on Terror," with the fifth anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo as the Devil's Island of the twenty-first century just past; after all the extraordinary renditions, the waterboardings, the perverse tortures and perverse photos that went with them; after the "ghost prisoners" and the network of secret CIA prisons set up around the world; after that Delta Force intelligence agent stepped off a plane from Afghanistan (as journalist Ron Suskind tells the story in his book The One Percent Doctrine) with the suspected head of al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri in a "US Government" metal box (it was somebody else's); after the CIA was denounced throughout Europe for its illegal rendition flights and with its agents just now heading toward trial in Italy for a kidnapping operation on the streets of Milan; after neither Osama bin Laden, nor Zawahiri were ever apprehended; after woebegone wannabes, the innocent, and small fry of every sort were turned into Public Enemies numbers 1-1,000; after, in the name of national safety from terror, illegal spying and warrantless surveillance, as well as military intelligence activities of many kinds, made their way into "the Homeland"; after the Taliban rose from the grave and the original al-Qaeda (as opposed to the name-stealing al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia or other al-Qaeda wannabes elsewhere on our planet) found a relatively comfortable homeland, a "safe haven" along the Pakistani tribal borderlands near Afghanistan; after all of that, the GWOT (as it so inelegantly came to be known) could easily be renamed something like the "misfire on terror" (MOT) or even, with an eye to what's developed in Iraq and elsewhere, the "engine for terror" (EFT).'
Lees verder: http://www.tomdispatch.com/
'Entry Denied: Palestinian-Americans Among Thousands Blocked by Israel from Occupied Territories.
The Israeli government has effectively frozen visitation and re-entry of foreign nationals of Palestinian origin to the West Bank and Gaza. We go to Ramallah to speak with two coordinators of the “Campaign for the Right of Entry and Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” We’re also joined by a leading Israeli human rights attorney and a Palestinian-American filmmaker recently detained by Israeli officials and deported. [includes rush transcript]
We begin in Ramallah where the Israeli government has effectively frozen visitation and re-entry of foreign nationals of Palestinian origin to the Occupied Territories. Activists and human rights advocates are claiming that since last year’s election of Hamas, thousands have been denied entry into the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli government initially denied that there had been a policy change. But on Tuesday, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories released a letter stating that the policy of denying foreign nationals entry had been reversed. The letter was dated December 28th and had been sent to the Palestinian Authority.
Yet - the organization “Campaign for the Right of Entry and Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory” maintains that they know of at least 14 foreign citizens who only last week were denied entrance to the Territories. They say that in addition to being discriminatory, this policy is tearing families apart, blocking students from finishing their education, and keeping people from their jobs and businesses. The Israeli human rights group B’tzelem wrote in a recent report that the crackdown is part of a broader policy to limit the growth of the Palestinian population by “preventing the entry of spouses and children of residents, and by stimulating emigration from the area.”
We go now to the Occupied Territories where Sam Bahour and Anita Abdullah are with us from Ramallah.
Sam Bahour. Palestinian-American businessman and one of the coordinators of the Campaign for Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Anita Abdullah. Anita is on the coordinating committee for the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. She is a researcher at Birzeit University, Institute of Community and Public Health.
Leah Tsemel. Israeli Human Rights Lawyer.
Suzy Salamy.Palestinian-American filmmaker recently denied entry by Israeli authorities.'
Lees verder: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/18/1621247
Alles is marketing geworden, public relations. En alles raakt besmet met de taal van de marketing. De dood moet je meemaken, de dood is een ervaring die je 'moet meemaken,' zoals je lekker kunt huiveren in een spookhuis. De dood is verder betekenisloos in een materialistische cultuur, het is slechts het einde van een bestaan als consument. Daarom wordt de dood door een cultuurdrager als het Rijksmuseum ook verkocht als een spannende ervaring, die je 'moet meemaken.'
Wie op de site van het Amsterdamse Rijksmuseum kijkt, ziet onder andere dit staan:
'Webspecial: Voel het Rijks!
Bent u ook gefascineerd door 'De lijken van de gebroeders de Witt' of vrolijk door de 'Vrolijke Drinker' van Frans Hals? In de webspecial Voel het Rijks kunt u zelf uw mening over en gevoelens bij de Meesterwerken uit de Philipsvleugel van het Rijksmuseum uiten. Een heuse emotiemeter laat bovendien zien welke werken andere bezoekers het mooiste, het saaiste, het lelijkste of meest ontroerend vinden. Doe mee en ervaar het zelf. Voor het thema de Dood zijn enkele droevige werken geselecteerd.
Webspecial: De Dood
In de webspecial De Dood kunt u lezen wie de gebroeders De Witt eigenlijk waren en hoe zij aan hun gruwelijke einde kwamen. Ook vindt u het 17de-eeuwse antwoord op de vraag: "Hoe kom ik na mijn dood in de hemel?"' Zie: http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/dood
Gefascineerd in de lijken van de gebroeders de Witt? Een heuse emotiemeter? Ervaar het zelf? Gruwelijk einde?
Bij een schilderij van twee open gereten, ondersteboven hangende, naakte mannen staat 'Lees alle gruwelijke details' van een 'bloedige lynchpartij.'
Cultuur? Welnee, de westerse mens is dodelijk verveelt. Enkeltje Irak doet wonderen.
'Terror and starvation in Gaza.
A genocide is engulfing the people of Gaza while a silence engulfs its bystanders. "Some 1.4 million people, mostly children, are piled up in one of the most densely populated regions of the world, with no freedom of movement, no place to run and no space to hide," wrote the former senior UN relief official Jan Egeland and Jan Eliasson, then foreign minister of Sweden, in Le Figaro. They described a people "living in a cage", cut off by land, sea and air, with no reliable power and little water, and tortured by hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli troops and planes.
Egeland and Eliasson wrote this four months ago in an attempt to break the silence in Europe, whose obedient alliance with the United States and Israel has sought to reverse the democratic result that brought Hamas to power in last year's Palestinian elections. The horror in Gaza has since been compounded: a family of 18 has died beneath a 500lb US/Israeli bomb; unarmed women have been mown down at point-blank range. Dr David Halpin, one of the few Britons to break what he calls "this medieval siege", reported the killing of 57 children by artillery, rockets and small arms and was shown evidence that civilians are Israel's true targets, as in Leba non last summer. A friend in Gaza, Dr Mona el-Farra, emailed: "I see the effects of the relentless sonic booms [a collective punishment by the Israeli air force] and artillery on my 13-year-old daughter. At night, she shivers with fear. Then both of us end up crouching on the floor. I try to make her feel safe, but when the bombs sound I flinch and scream . . ."
When I was last in Gaza, Dr Khalid Dahlan, a psychiatrist, showed me the results of a remarkable survey. "The statistic I personally find unbearable," he said, "is that 99.4 per cent of the children we studied suffer trauma. Once you look at the rates of exposure to trauma you see why: 99.2 per cent of their homes were bombarded; 97.5 per cent were exposed to tear gas; 96.6 per cent witnessed shootings; 95.8 per cent witnessed bombardment and funerals; almost a quarter saw family members injured or killed." Dahlan invited me to sit in on one of his clinics. There were 30 children, all of them traumatised. He gave each a pencil and paper and asked them to draw. They drew pictures of grotesque acts of terror and of women streaming tears.
The excuse for the latest Israeli terror was the capture last June of an Israeli soldier, a member of an illegal occupation, by the Palestinian resistance. This was news. The kidnapping by Israel a few days earlier of two Palestinians - two of thousands taken over the years - was not news. A historian and two foreign journalists have reported the truth about Gaza. All three are Israeli. They are frequently called traitors. The historian Ilan Pappe has documented that "the genocidal policy [in Gaza] is not formulated in a vacuum" but part of Zionism's deliberate, historic ethnic cleansing. Gideon Levy and Amira Hass are reporters on the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In November, Levy described how the people of Gaza were beginning to starve to death: "There are thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people, unable to receive any treatment . . . The shadows of human beings roam the ruins . . . They only know the [Israeli army] will return and they know what this will mean for them: more imprisonment in their homes for weeks, more death and destruction in monstrous proportions." Hass, who has lived in Gaza, describes it as a prison that shames her people. She recalls how her mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle-train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen on a summer's day in 1944. "[She] saw these German women looking at the pris oners, just looking," she wrote. "This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side'."
"Looking from the side" is what those of us do who are cowed into silence by the threat of being called anti-Semitic. Looking from the side is what too many western Jews do, while those Jews who honour the humane traditions of Judaism and say, "Not in our name!" are abused as "self-despising". Looking from the side is what almost the entire US Congress does, in thrall to or intimidated by a vicious Zionist "lobby". Looking from the side is what "even-handed" journalists do as they excuse the lawlessness that is the source of Israeli atrocities and suppress the historic shifts in the Palestinian resistance, such as the implicit recognition of Israel by Hamas. The people of Gaza cry out for better.
This article was first published by the New Statesman - http://www.newstatesman.com/200701220021'
Aangezien de pro-israel lobbyisten hun meningen makkelijk kwijt kunnen in de Nederlandse commerciele massamedia ben ik benieuwd waarom dit soort artikelen van gerenommeerde journalisten niet even makkelijk gepubliceerd worden door bijvoorbeeld de Volkskrant, NRC, Touw, AD, Telegraaf etc. Zouden ze niet onafhankelijk zijn?
De Staat van het Klimaat beschrijft onze actuele kennis van dit belangrijke onderwerp, toegespitst op nieuwe ontwikkelingen in 2005 en 2006. Het doel van deze brochure is om op handzame wijze een compact en gedegen overzicht te geven van de ontwikkelingen in de wetenschappelijke kennis over klimaatverandering, de gevolgen ervan en de ontwikkelingen in het klimaatbeleid.
De brochure schenkt aandacht aan extreem weer, zoals het record aantal orkanen in het Atlantisch gebied in 2005 en de extreme zomer en herfst in Nederland in 2006. De brochure geeft antwoord op de vraag of en hoe de weerextremen samenhangen met de menselijke invloed op het klimaat Ook wordt een aantal discussies rond het thema klimaat beschreven, zoals de hockeystick (de temperatuurreconstructie van de laatste duizend jaar), de uitstoot van het broeikasgas methaan en het slinken van de Groenlandse ijskap. Toekomstige klimaatverandering en de verwachte effecten hiervan in Nederland krijgen ook een plaats in deze brochure.
Het beleid ten aanzien van het terugdringen van de uitstoot van broeikasgassen komt uitgebreid ter sprake. Omdat het belangrijkste broeikasgas, CO2, vooral wordt uitgestoten door energiegebruik, is het terugdringen van de emissies nauw verbonden met de energievoorziening. In 2005 en 2006 was de energievoorziening volop in het nieuws. Maar zelfs als we erin slagen om de emissies van broeikasgassen sterk te verminderen, zal het klimaat veranderen. Dat vergt beleid om klimaatverandering als factor mee te nemen bij de inrichting van Nederland. Daarom is deze brochure bij uitstek geschikt voor het nachtkastje van iedere politicus.'
'De Staat van het Klimaat 2006.
Dit is een uitgave van het Platform Communication on Climate Change (PCCC), waarin de belangrijkste Nederlandse wetenschappelijke onderzoekinstellingen op het gebied van klimaat, klimaatverandering en klimaatbeleid samenwerken. De Staat van het Klimaat beschrijft onze actuele kennis van dit belangrijke onderwerp, toegespitst op nieuwe ontwikkelingen in 2005 en 2006. Jaarlijks wordt een update gemaakt. Het doel van deze brochure is om op handzame wijze aan politici, bestuurders, vertegenwoordigers van maatschappelijke organisaties, docenten, studenten en andere geïnteresseerden een compact en gedegen overzicht te geven van de ontwikkelingen in de wetenschappelijke kennis over klimaatverandering en de gevolgen ervan en de ontwikkelingen in het klimaatbeleid.
De website van het PCCC: Klimaatportaal
Factoren in klimaatverandering
Het klimaatsysteem is complex. Dat betekent dat harde bewijzen over oorzaak en gevolg van de huidige klimaatverandering moeilijk te geven zijn. Er zijn nu eenmaal veel factoren die een rol spelen. Hoewel van veel factoren duidelijk is dat zij het klimaat beïnvloeden, bestaan er nog onzekerheden over de gevoeligheid van het klimaat en daarmee over de sterkte van de effecten van klimaatverandering. Niettemin zijn er ontwikkelingen gaande in het klimaat, die eigenlijk alleen maar kunnen worden verklaard door menselijke invloeden. Zowel de aanwijzingen hiervoor vanuit de waarnemingen als de wetenschappelijke onderbouwing ervan worden jaarlijks sterker.
Het klimaatbeleid kan zich richten op zowel aanpassing aan klimaatverandering (adaptatie), als op het terugdringen van de uitstoot van broeikasgassen (mitigatie). Keuzes in het klimaatbeleid worden bepaald door kosten en baten van de maatregelen, maar ook door percepties en belangen. Het maken van keuzes is fundamenteel lastig door onzekerheden over de risico’s van klimaatveranderingen, de effectiviteit van het (internationale) mitigatiebeleid, de kosten en baten van adaptatie- en mitigatiebeleid en ontwikkeling van deze kosten en baten in de tijd. Daar komt nog bij dat de baten van het klimaatbeleid wetenschappelijk gezien niet altijd eenduidig in geld zijn uit te drukken.
De menselijke maat
In de Staat van het Klimaat hebben wij gekozen voor de menselijke maat, dat wil zeggen dat wij hier de veranderingen op een termijn van één tot enkele eeuwen centraal stellen. Dat betekent geenszins dat begrip van klimaatveranderingen op geologische tijdschaal niet van belang zou zijn: het bestuderen van zulke veranderingen geeft wezenlijk inzicht in de werking van het klimaatsysteem. De menselijke maat is echter om verschillende redenen belangrijk. De wereldbevolking, de wereldeconomie en de wereldenergieconsumptie zijn de afgelopen eeuw in hoog tempo gegroeid, waardoor de druk op ruimte en milieu sterk is toegenomen. Meer dan de helft van de mensheid leeft in gebieden die kwetsbaar zijn voor klimaatveranderingen. Ook is van belang dat het beleid ten aanzien van infrastructurele aanpassingen aan klimaatveranderingen een tijdschaal van één tot enkele generaties kent. Hoewel de kennis van het klimaatsysteem niet volledig is, kan en moet zij optimaal benut worden om zo efficiënt mogelijk maatregelen te nemen.
De onderwerpen die in deze Staat van het Klimaat de revue passeren, zijn gekozen door de instituten die participeren in het PCCC. Naast feitelijke informatie worden interpretaties gegeven van wetenschappelijke discussies die spelen rond de beschreven onderwerpen. Ook maatschappelijke discussies, al dan niet aangezwengeld door de media, worden in deze brochure in de context geplaatst van de huidige kennis op het gebied van klimaatverandering en klimaatbeleid. Wij hopen hiermee een boeiende en informatieve brochure voor u te hebben samengesteld.'
U kunt het rapport De Staat van het Klimaat hier downloaden:
'The battle to save Iraq's children.
Doctors issue plea to Tony Blair to end the scandal of medical shortages in the war zone.
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
Published: 19 January 2007
The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors.
They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life.
In a direct appeal to Tony Blair, the doctors describe desperate shortages causing "hundreds" of children to die in hospitals. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs.
"Sick or injured children who could otherwise be treated by simple means are left to die in hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources," the doctors say. "Children who have lost hands, feet and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated," they add.
They say babies are being ventilated with a plastic tube in their noses and dying for want of an oxygen mask, while other babies are dying because of the lack of a phial of vitamin K or sterile needles, all costing about 95p. Hospitals have little hope of stopping fatal infections spreading from baby to baby because of the lack of surgical gloves, which cost about 3.5p a pair.
Among those who have signed the letter are Chris Burns-Cox, a consultant physician at Gloucester Royal Hospital; Dr Maggie Wright, the director of intensive care at James Page University Hospital; Professor Debbie Lawlor, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London; Professor George Davey Smith, professor of clinical epidemiology at Bristol university; Dr Philip Wilson, senior clinical research fellow at Glasgow University; and Dr Heba al-Naseri, who has experienced the conditions in Iraqi hospitals. Dr al-Naseri, who has worked at Diwaniyah Maternity Hospital and the Diwaniyah University Hospital, describes in harrowing detail what the conditions were like for a newborn baby - one of the lucky ones who survived - called Amin.
"Amin had to be fed powdered milk, diluted with tap water. There wasn't enough money to buy expensive formula milk or bottled water - their price had risen above the increase in wages since 2003. The problems with the intermittent electricity and gas supply meant regular boiled water could not be guaranteed. With the dormant waste and sewage disposal systems, drinking-water is more likely to be contaminated," he said.
Cases the doctors highlight include a child who died because the doctor only had a sterile needle for an adult and could not find a needle small enough to fit the vein, and another child who died because the doctors had no oxygen mask that fitted.'
Lees verder: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2165470.ece
donderdag 18 januari 2007
'Leren leven met klimaatverandering.
De gevolgen van de klimaatverandering zijn voor Nederland groter dan tot nu toe gedacht. Dat schrijven wetenschappers van onder meer het KNMI in het rapport De Staat van het Klimaat. Nederland moet volgens de onderzoekers met die veranderingen leren omgaan.Volgens de wetenschappers reageert de natuur sterk op de stijgende temperatuur. "Zuidelijke diersoorten, zoals de tijgerspin, schuiven door klimaatveranderingen onze kant op", zegt KNMI-klimaatonderzoeker Rob Van Dorland.Jan Oude Lohuis van het Milieu- en Natuurplanbureau waarschuwt dat planten en dieren zich niet snel genoeg kunnen aanpassen aan de verandering in de temperatuur. "Op een gegeven moment raken we dingen kwijt."AdaptatieDe onderzoekers pleiten niet alleen voor aanpak van het klimaatprobleem, maar ook voor 'adaptatie', aanpassen aan het veranderende klimaat. "We kiezen bewust voor beide", zegt Van Dorland. Volgens de klimaatonderzoeker moeten we in Nederland leren leven met de gevolgen van klimaatveranderingen. "Dat betekent onder meer dat dijken in de toekomst moeten worden verhoogd." In het rapport staat ook dat in Nederland beter opgelet moet worden waar we bouwen, en wat we bouwen. AanpakToch hameren de wetenschappers ook op aanpak van het klimaatprobleem. Het energieplan van de Europese Commissie voor een verminderde uitstoot van broeikasgassen met 20 procent in 2020 (ten opzichte van 1990) juichen ze toe.Nederland moet het voortouw nemen om de uitstoot van CO2 te verminderen. De Europese Commissie verklaarde afgelopen maandag dat Nederland nog niet genoeg doet om de uitstoot van kooldioxide te beperken.De onderzoekers vinden ook dat er in het nieuwe kabinet plaats moet zijn voor een aparte minister voor milieu. Op deze manier moet het onderwerp prominent op de agenda komen te staan.'
Jeroen van der Kris
Het Nederlandse plan om de uitstoot van kooldioxide terug te dringen is onvoldoende. Dat zal de Europese Commissie, het dagelijks bestuur van de Europese Unie, morgen bekendmaken volgens bronnen in Brussel. Belangrijkste kritiek is dat Nederland te veel emissierechten aan vervuilers wil toekennen.
Om de uitstoot van het broeikasgas CO2 te verminderen, heeft de Europese Unie een systeem opgezet voor emissiehandel. Bedrijven die veel vervuilen, zoals energieproducenten, mogen in dat systeem nog maar een bepaalde hoeveelheid kooldioxide uitstoten. De gedachte is dat ze daardoor worden gedwongen energiezuinig te werken, of elders uitstootrechten te kopen. Zo ontstaat emissiehandel en krijgt kooldioxide een prijs - volgens het principe dat de vervuiler betaalt. Dit systeem is een belangrijk wapen van Europa in de strijd tegen klimaatverandering.
Alle lidstaten van de EU hebben een allocatieplan moeten indienen bij de Europese Commissie. Daarin hebben ze onder meer moeten aangegeven hoeveel kooldioxide bedrijven in hun land nog zouden mogen uitstoten in de periode 2008-2012.
De Europese Commissie, die de plannen moet goedkeuren, is streng. Anderhalve maand geleden oordeelde zij al negatief over de plannen van tien andere EU-lidstaten. De commissie vond dat zij te veel emissierechten wilden toekennen aan de industrie. Commissaris Dimas (Milieu) zei dat de hoeveelheid kooldioxide waarvoor die landen rechten toekennen omlaag moest met nog gemiddeld 7 procent.
De emissiehandel bevindt zich nog in een testfase en moet vanaf 2008 volledig in werking treden. Nederland had voorgesteld de hoeveelheid kooldioxide waarvoor rechten worden toegekend te verminderen met 4 procent ten opzichte van de huidige testperiode. Morgen zal eurocommissaris Dimas bekendmaken wat zijn kritiek op het Nederlandse plan precies is.
Zestien Aziatische landen, waaronder China, India en Japan, hebben vanmorgen afgesproken de energievoorziening te verbeteren. Zij willen minder afhankelijk worden van fossiele brandstoffen. De landen kwamen niet met harde doelstellingen. Wel riepen zij op meer te investeren in milieuvriendelijke brandstoffen. Ook moeten de landen van de ASEAN proberen zuiniger met energie om te gaan.'
'The Warming of Greenland LIVERPOOL LAND, Greenland.
Flying over snow-capped peaks and into a thick fog, the helicopter set down on a barren strip of rocks between two glaciers. A dozen bags of supplies, a rifle and a can of cooking gas were tossed out onto the cold ground. Then, with engines whining, the helicopter lifted off, snow and fog swirling in the rotor wash.
When it had disappeared over the horizon, no sound remained but the howling of the Arctic wind.
“It feels a little like the days of the old explorers, doesn’t it?” Dennis Schmitt said.
Mr. Schmitt, a 60-year-old explorer from Berkeley, Calif., had just landed on a newly revealed island 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle in eastern Greenland. It was a moment of triumph: he had discovered the island on an ocean voyage in September 2005. Now, a year later, he and a small expedition team had returned to spend a week climbing peaks, crossing treacherous glaciers and documenting animal and plant life.
Despite its remote location, the island would almost certainly have been discovered, named and mapped almost a century ago when explorers like Jean-Baptiste Charcot and Philippe, Duke of Orléans, charted these coastlines. Would have been discovered had it not been bound to the coast by glacial ice.
Maps of the region show a mountainous peninsula covered with glaciers. The island’s distinct shape — like a hand with three bony fingers pointing north — looks like the end of the peninsula.
Now, where the maps showed only ice, a band of fast-flowing seawater ran between a newly exposed shoreline and the aquamarine-blue walls of a retreating ice shelf. The water was littered with dozens of icebergs, some as large as half an acre; every hour or so, several more tons of ice fractured off the shelf with a thunderous crack and an earth-shaking rumble.
All over Greenland and the Arctic, rising temperatures are not simply melting ice; they are changing the very geography of coastlines. Nunataks — “lonely mountains” in Inuit — that were encased in the margins of Greenland’s ice sheet are being freed of their age-old bonds, exposing a new chain of islands, and a new opportunity for Arctic explorers to write their names on the landscape.
“We are already in a new era of geography,” said the Arctic explorer Will Steger. “This phenomenon — of an island all of a sudden appearing out of nowhere and the ice melting around it — is a real common phenomenon now.”'
[B]y offering no larger context, [the media] lost the chance to get people involved in shaping precisely the kinds of individual and common actions that might help prevent similar storms in the future. We’d encountered a profound teachable moment, then that moment was quickly lost.
This failure to draw broader conclusions was no exception. Last May, New England made national news with the worst storms and floods since a 1938 hurricane. In June, a 200-year storm flooded the Mid-Atlantic region. In July, in St. Louis, thunderstorms knocked out power to three quarters of a million people (the city’s largest power loss ever), and then freezing rain returned in early December, two weeks before the Seattle storm, to leave another half million people without power for up to a week. Missouri and Illinois had record numbers of tornadoes, and western states record levels of forest fires. Meanwhile New York City saw balmy winter temperatures in the 60s.
Although you can’t absolutely prove a specific exceptional event was triggered by global warming, they all fit the larger predicted pattern. Yet mainstream commentators drew few broader links. As Mark Twain once wrote, “Everybody talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it.” Commentators certainly talked about these events, but by failing to place them in any broader context, they made it that much less likely that ordinary citizens will do anything to change a future that risks looking seriously ugly.
America’s major media haven’t been entirely silent on global warming. You could even say 2006 brought a sea change in their public acknowledgment of its gravity. If you really read the superb Time or Parade magazine cover stories, or even the coverage in Business Week and Fortune, you couldn’t fail to be concerned.
The link between extreme weather (or indeed, any climate change) and greenhouse gases is still difficult to declare for specific instances like a single storm or drought, even the President seems to be bound by public opinion to have to address global warming after years of naysaying. Prominent evangelical Christians (traditionally anti-environmentalist) and scientists have even declared an alliegiance to fight global warming in the past week, reports the Detroit Free Press:
Some leading scientists and evangelical Christian leaders have agreed to put aside their differences over the origin of life and work together to fight global warming.
Representatives met recently in Georgia and agreed on the need for urgent action. Details on the talks will be disclosed today in Washington.
“Whether God created the Earth in a millisecond or whether it evolved over billions of years, the issue we agree on is that it needs to be cared for today,” said Rich Cizik, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 45,000 churches.
Eric Chivian, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, agreed, saying: “Scientists and evangelicals have discovered that we share a deeply felt common concern and sense of urgency about threats to life on Earth and that we must speak with one voice to protect it.”'
CNN heeft ontdekt dat alle mensen in het midden oosten vrede wensen. U en ik kijken daar niet van op, want wie wil nu geen vrede? Ik ben nooit in mijn lange loopbaan als journalist iemand tegen gekomen die tegen me zei: 'Ik wil oorlog.' Zelfs niet eens een politicus en dat zegt wat, want het Westen voert altijd wel ergens oorlog. Toch is die vredeswens voor CNN groot nieuws. Waarom? Omdat een Amerikaanse autoriteit dit zegt, en machthebbers spreken - zoals bekend -bij CNN altijd de waarheid. Maar u en ik weten dat als politici zeggen dat ze vrede willen, we dubbel moeten oppassen, vooral als we weten dat Israel altijd door Washington geholpen wordt ten koste van de Palestijnen en de VS tegen een mogelijke vredesovereenkomst is tussen Israel en Syrie. Zie: http://stanvanhoucke.blogspot.com/2007/01/de-nuance-van-de-nrc-16.html
Hoe dan ook, CNN bericht de volgende propaganda:
'Rice: Whole of Mideast wants peace.
POSTED: 7:56 a.m. EST, January 18, 2007
BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has met German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the two sides announced a revival of peace talks.
"I believe that the whole region is looking for a way to accelerate progress and to drag toward the establishment of a Palestinian state and so this is a very important time," Rice said after her week-long trip to the Middle East.
Rice was in Berlin on Thursday to share the impression she received from Israeli and Palestinian leaders during meetings aimed at restarting the Mideast peace process and gaining support for U.S. President George W. Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq. (Watch how Germany could help the United States in the Middle East )
She traveled to the West Bank, Jerusalem, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and six Persian Gulf countries.
"I did find the parties to be very desirous of accelerating progress on the road map, of extending the momentum that has been achieved in the meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas," Rice said, referring to an ice-breaking first official meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last month.'
Lees verder: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/18/rice.germany/
En nu opletten hoe de Nederlandse commerciele massamedia dit bericht klakkeloos gaan overnemen.
woensdag 17 januari 2007
Maar daarmee is in Israël (en Damascus en Washington) allerminst het laatste woord gezegd. De militaire inlichtingendienst van Israël, de onderzoeksafdeling van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken en de meeste denktanks van de universiteiten zijn na de oorlog in Libanon tot de slotsom gekomen dat Assad wel degelijk bereid is tot een vredesverdrag. De ministers van Defensie, Buitenlandse Zaken en Interne Veiligheid en vice-premier Peres argumenteren dat er met Syrië vrede gesloten moet worden voor Irak explodeert en Iran over een kernwapen beschikt. De Mossad daarentegen denkt dat Assad spelletjes speelt en propaganda bedrijft om de internationale druk te verlichten, maar niet van plan is de koers te verleggen.
De voorstanders van vredesinitiatieven in de regering, het inlichtingenapparaat van het leger en de academische wereld redeneren dat met handreikingen aan Assad Syrië kan worden losgeweekt van Iran. Zo zou met Syrische hulp de Palestijnse Hamas gedwongen kunnen worden tot erkenning van Israël. Bovendien vinden ze dat Israël moreel verplicht is iedere serieuze mogelijkheid te verkennen om met Syrië verdragen te sluiten.
De tegenstanders, onder wie de nieuwe Israëlische minister voor Strategische Dreigingen, Avigdor Lieberman, vinden dat naïef. Ze denken dat Syrië niet meer is geïnteresseerd is in Hoogvlakte van Golan, en nooit de banden met Iran, Hezbollah en Hamas zal verbreken – zeker niet zolang het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict onopgelost blijft. Israëls veiligheid is beter gediend met politieke stabiliteit in een vijandig maar militair zwak Syrië, dan met vrede en de teruggave van Hoogvlakte van Golan, zegt bijvoorbeeld Lieberman.'
Een ander voorbeeld van de krankzinnigheid was een reportage over de milieuvervuiling door fabrieken in China waarbij de correspondent het water van een rivier testte, dat gevolgd werd door een item over een polder in Nederland dat blijft verzakken en daarom de kans loopt teruggeven te worden aan de natuur. Probleem is namelijk ook dat het water steeds 'viezer' wordt. Viezer? Waar komt die vervuiling dan vandaan? Wie heeft daar de natuur vervuilt? Maar daarover hoorden de Nederlandse kijkers niets.
Wat ik zeg: de tijden van Ulbricht zijn weer helemaal terug, dankzij nieuwslezers als Philip Freriks. Hoe vindt u ons nationaal cultuurbezit op zijn step?
Eeuwenlang hoefde de westerse macht maar met de vingers te knippen en de derde wereld volgde gehoorzaam. Die tijd is voorbij.
Al Jazeera: 'Chavez and Iran unveil anti-US fund.
By Al Jazeera01/14/07 "Al Jazeera"
The presidents of Iran and Venezuela have agreed to spend billions of dollars to help other countries free themselves from what they describe as US domination. Hugo Chavez announced the plan in a speech on Saturday with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.The two also called for Opec to cut oil production to support falling crude prices. They had previously announced plans to establish a joint $2bn fund for projects in Venezuela and Iran but on Saturday they said that the money would also be used to help friendly third countries."This fund, my brother," Chavez said, "will become a mechanism for liberation." Chavez said the fund "will permit us to underpin investments ... above all in those countries whose governments are making efforts to liberate themselves from the [US] imperialist yoke ... Death to US imperialism."Ahmadinejad, who is on a tour of Latin America, said that Tehran and Caracas had the task of "promoting revolutionary thought in the world"."The reason for all the current problems is the erroneous direction of the powerful countries, where there is poverty, hate, enmity and war," he added.Oil agreementThe two presidents announced that they would make a joint effort to obtain new oil production cuts."Today we know that there is too much crude in the market, that's why we support ... the decisions that have been taken to reduce production and protect the price of oil," Chavez said.He emphasised that he was sending the message "to all the heads of state in the Opec countries to continue to strengthen our organisation in this direction".Members of the 11-nation Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) have expressed concern about the falling price of oil, which has slid 14 per cent since the start of the year.Ahmadinejad has praised Chavez for his outspoken support of Iran's nuclear programme, which the US and European governments say may be part of a project to build atomic weapons.'
Euro displaces dollar in bond markets.
Euro displaces dollar in bond markets.
By David Oakley and Gillian Tett in London
The euro has displaced the US dollar as the world's pre-eminent currency
in international bond markets, having outstripped the dollar-denominated market
for the second year in a row.
The data consolidate news last month that the value of euro notes in
circulation had overtaken the dollar for the first time. Outstanding debt issued in
the euro was worth the equivalent of $4,836bn at the end of 2006 compared with
$3,892bn for the dollar, according to International Capital Market Association
Outstanding euro-denominated debt accounts for 45 per cent of the global
market, compared with 37 per cent for the dollar. New issuance last year accounted
for 49 per cent of the global total.
That represents a startling turnabout from the pattern seen in recent
decades, when the US bond market dwarfed its European rival: as recently as 2002,
outstanding euro-denominated issuance represented just 27 per cent of the global
pie, compared with 51 per cent for the dollar.
The rising role of the euro comes amid growing issuance by debt-laden
European governments. However, the main factor is a rise in euro-denominated issuance
by companies and financial institutions.
One factor driving this is that European companies are moving away from their
traditional reliance on bank loans and embracing the capital markets to
a greater degree.
Another is that the creation of the single currency in 1999 has permitted
development of a deeper and more liquid market, consolidated by a growing
This has made it more attractive for issuers around the world to raise funds
in the euro market. And, more recently, the trend among some Asian and Middle
Eastern countries to diversify their assets away from the dollar has further
boosted this trend.
Ren Karsenti, executive president of ICMA, said: "It is the stable
interest rates in Europe that have helped and the fact that [the euro] has
strengthened and shown resilience."
Since the start of 2003, the European Central Bank's main interest rate
has fluctuated only 1.5 percentage points, ranging from a low of 2 per cent in
the middle of that year to 3.5 per cent, its rate today.
In comparison, the Fed funds rate, the main US interest rate, has fluctuated
4.25 percentage points, ranging from 1 per cent in the middle of 2003 to 5.25
per cent, its level today. The euro has also risen to trade around $1.30
against the dollar, from around parity three years ago. Sterling issuance has grown
in the past three years, reinforcing its attraction as a niche currency among
some investors. The yen, in comparison, has fallen out of favour.
Overall, international capital markets have doubled in size in terms of bond
issuance during the past six years.'
by Manning Marable; MR Zine;
Several weeks ago, with much media fanfare, the James Baker-Lee Hamilton Committee submitted to President George W. Bush its long-awaited, bipartisan report on the U.S. war in Iraq. On balance, the report provided Bush with a face-saving strategy for pulling out all U.S. combat forces by the beginning of 2008. The Baker-Hamilton report favors an increase of U.S. advisers being embedded inside Iraqi troops and direct negotiations with regional powers Iran and Syria.
Bush, however, almost immediately distanced himself from key proposals in the Baker-Hamilton report. He now seems prepared to flagrantly flaunt his contempt for the majority of American voters, who purged both the Senate and House of their Republican majorities last November. Why does Bush defy public opinion by pursuing this unpopular war?
The answer lies not in America's need to "combat Islamic terrorism" but in the economic necessity for the United States to control international markets and valuable natural resources, such as petroleum. Bush's economic strategy is that of "neoliberalism" -- which advocates the dismantling of the welfare state, the abolition of redistributive social programs for the poor, and the elimination of governmental regulations on corporations.
In a recent issue of the New York Times (December 5, 2006), Professor Thomas B. Edsall of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism astutely characterized this reactionary process of neoliberal politics within the United States in these terms: "For a quarter-century, the Republican temper -- its reckless drive to jettison the social safety net; its support of violence in law enforcement and national defense; its advocacy of regressive taxation, environmental hazard and probusiness deregulation; its 'remoralizing' of the pursuit of wealth -- has been judged by many voters as essential to America's position in the world, producing more benefit than cost."
One of the consequences of this reactionary political and economic agenda, according to Edsall, was "the Reagan administration's arms race" during the 1980s, which "arguably drove the Soviet Union into bankruptcy." A second consequence, Edsall argues, was America's disastrous military invasion of Iraq. "While inflicting destruction on the Iraqis," Edsall observes, "Bush multiplied America's enemies and endangered this nation's military, economic health and international stature. Courting risk without managing it, Bush repeatedly and remorselessly failed to accurately evaluate the consequences of his actions."
What is significant about Edsall's analysis is that he does not explain away the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and current military occupation as a political "mistake" or an "error of judgment." Rather, he locates the rationale for the so-called "war on terrorism" within the context of U.S. domestic, neoliberal politics. "The embroilment in Iraq is not an aberration," Edsall observed. "It stems from core [Republican] party principles, equally evident on the domestic front."
The larger question of political economy, left unexplored by Edsall and most analysts, is the connection between American militarism abroad, neoliberalism, and trends in the global economy. As economists Paul Sweezy, Harry Magdoff, and others noted decades ago, the general economic tendency of mature capitalism is toward stagnation. For decades in the United States and Western Europe, there has been a steady decline in investment in the productive economy, leading to a decline in industrial capacity and lower future growth.
Since the 1970s, U.S. corporations and financial institutions have relied primarily on debt to expand domestic economic growth. By 1985, total U.S. debt -- which is comprised of the debt owed by all households, governments (federal, state, and local), and all financial and non-financial businesses -- reached twice the size of the annual U.S. gross domestic product. By 2005, the total U.S. debt amounted to nearly "three and a half times the nation's GDP, and not far from the $44 trillion GDP for the entire world," according to Fred Magdoff.
As a result, mature U.S. corporations have been forced to export products and investment abroad, to take advantage of lower wages, weak or nonexistent environmental and safety standards, and so forth, to obtain higher profit margins. Today about 18 percent of total U.S. corporate profits come from direct overseas investment. Partially to protect these growing investments, the United States has pursued an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy across the globe. As of 2006, the U.S. maintained military bases in fifty-nine nations. The potential for deploying military forces in any part of the world is essential for both political and economic hegemony.'
Lees verder: http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=11844§ionID=11
In dit artikel wordt de context beschreven van de huidige ontwikkelingen. Zeer de moeite waard!
'Petraeus! Is Baghdad Burning?
Editor’s note: In this piece, a retired U.S. Special Forces soldier takes an oil-filtered look at Bush’s “surge” plan for Iraq.
“Jodl! Is Paris burning?”
—Adolf Hitler Aug. 25, 1944
The United States makes up about 5 percent of the Earth’s population, but as an aggregate we burn more than 25 percent of its fossil energy. That’s roughly true of all three main forms of fossil energy—oil, natural gas and coal.
The coal we get mainly by having West Virginians surrender their mountains, where coal operators now lop the tops off those mountains to get at the seams of coal and dump the rubble into nearby watercourses. That’s what we do for most of our electricity. Canada sells us most of the natural gas we use ... nearly 90 percent in fact.
The problem we have is that our nation’s transportation fleet is almost completely dependent on that other store of ancient sunlight, petroleum. Neither natural gas nor coal can feasibly run fleets of tractor-trailer trucks, trains, airplanes and a quarter-billion passenger vehicles (around 98 million of which are SUVs and larger). Neither coal nor natural gas can run ships, tanks and attack helicopters either.
The other thing we need oil for is food ... more than people realize. In Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” he traces the U.S. food chain back to the oil fields through corn, which is now the basis of most of our other foods, then back to the oil field. It is widely known that each calorie of food consumed in the world today represents an expenditure of 10 calories of fossil energy, but Pollan’s remarks while observing a cattle feed lot, where the beef-on-the-hoof was being force-fed corn produced by Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, are more to the point than any statistical review:
I don’t have a sufficiently vivid imagination to look at my steer and see a barrel of oil, but petroleum is one of the most important ingredients in the production of modern meat, and the Persian Gulf is surely a link in the food chain that passes through this (or any) feedlot. Steer 534 started his life part of a food chain that derived all of its energy from the sun, which nourished the grasses that nourished him and his mother. When 534 moved from ranch to feedlot, from grass to corn, he joined an industrial food chain powered by fossil fuel—and therefore defended by the U.S. military, another never counted cost of cheap food.
Empty gas tanks and empty bellies are not the basis of political stability, or profit, here in the United States of America, where the appropriation of immense amounts of time and space, using this store of ancient sunlight, is considered almost our birthright.
The Hydrocarbon Law
The reason I lead into a discussion of the Bush administration’s military “surge” plan for Iraq by talking about fossil fuels is that neither the government nor the media seem inclined to talk about the subject. The desperation of the coming escalation of criminal lunacy is based not on some fantasy but on a real and coming competition between the U.S. and basically everyone else for these energy stores, even as most honest experts agree that world production of oil has now peaked and will begin an inexorable and irreversible decline. The reason for attempting to implant permanent U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf area and install compliant governments (the real reason for the war from the very beginning) has everything to do with securing control over the region.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070112_petraeus_is_baghdad_burning/
'The Doomsday Clock: Nuclear threat to world 'rising.'
For 60 years, it has depicted how close the world is to nuclear disaster. Today, scientists will move its hands forward to show we are facing the gravest threat in at least 20 years.
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Published: 17 January 2007
Five years of international headlines tell of growing turmoil in the Middle East, international terrorism in Western capitals and more countries seeking the ultimate national security insurance policy.
Now climate change and oil insecurity is driving countries to seek nuclear power, bringing with it new dangers of proliferation in volatile parts of the globe.
Today the Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 at the dawn of the nuclear age, will make official what most thinking citizens feel in their bones - that the world has edged closer to nuclear Armageddon than at any time since the most precarious moments of the Cold War in the early 1980s.
At 2.30pm, simultaneous events will take place in London and Washington at which the symbolic clock will be moved forward from its present seven minutes to midnight, where it has stood since 2002. The reasons for the time being advanced five years ago were crumbling arms control treaties and a terrorist threat brought into shattering relief by 9/11.
At the start of 2007, not only is the picture darker on both those scores. The nuclear threat has also acquired an added and unquantifiable dimension, thanks to global warming - prompting the Bulletin to warn of a "Second Nuclear Age". The existing dangers could not be more obvious: the problem is where to start. What about Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, and the thinly veiled warnings from the undeclared but assumed nuclear power Israel that it will strike first to remove what it sees as an existentialist threat comparable to the Holocaust?
Or the nuclear test last year by North Korea, a member of George Bush's "axis of evil", which could have neighbouring Japan and South Korea seeking protection with nuclear weapons of their own? Or the nuclear arsenal of unstable Pakistan, where Islamic extremists have staged several assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf?
Or - perhaps the greatest danger of all - that having visited conventional terror on an unprecedented scale upon New York City on 11 September 2001, al-Qa'ida or some similar organisation will either get hold of a ready-made nuclear device or build one of its own, and then use it?
And why not? Grave doubts surround Russia's ability to secure its nuclear materials, many of them dating from the Soviet era, and to prevent its nuclear scientists from selling their skills to the highest bidder. If a terrorist group did explode even a crude dirty bomb (and the US claims to have disrupted such plots) the taboo that has prevented states from using nuclear weapons in anger since 1945 might be broken.
And in this new nuclear age, the deterrence doctrine of "mutually assured destruction", or MAD, that kept the Cold War cold, would not apply. The US and Russia may have 2,000 launch-ready weapons between them - but these would be of no more use against an amorphous terrorist group than Israel's nuclear arsenal against the Palestinians. Even so, a threshold would have been crossed and a regional, even generalised nuclear war, would become conceivable.
In 1947, the Doomsday Clock was first set at seven minutes to midnight, exactly where it has stood since 2002. On the Bulletin's reckoning, the planet's closest brush thus far with Armageddon came in 1953, when the clock's hand moved to two minutes to midnight after the US and the Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs within nine months of each other.'
Lees verder: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2160081.ece
dinsdag 16 januari 2007
Washington Dispatch: Let's assume for a moment the president does have a plan: It might not be what you think.
What Bush proposed was a straightforward pacification program in Baghdad, made possible by an intensified American occupation -- a facade of Iraqis, to be sure, but with Americans running the show, just as GIs ended up running the show in a massive gun battle on Baghdad's Haifa Street Tuesday.
As Bush has said in the past, Americans know what the word victory means, So, whatever happens, and no matter what anyone says, America must win: "Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States."
As usual, observers are grasping wildly for an explanations as to why Bush is doing what he's doing. No matter what one thinks of the President, when push comes to shove, it's hard to believe he really wants to drag out the war so it can be handed over to a successor in 2008; or that he is such a psycho he can't stop referring to defeat as victory. That's not the kind of stuff the Bush family legacy is made of.
There may well be a much more sinister game plan here, one that centers around the emergence of Henry Kissinger over the last year as an adviser to Bush and other top officials in Washington. Gareth Porter, the historian who ran the Indochina Resource Center in the early 70s, points out in a January 11 article in Asia Online that "although he knows very little about how to deal with Sunnis and Shi'ites, Kissinger does know how to convey to the public the illusion of victory, even though the U.S. position in the war is actually weak and unstable."
Porter continues, "One of Kissinger's accomplishments was to sell the news media on the Nixon administration's propaganda line that the Christmas 1972 bombing of Hanoi had so unnerved the North Vietnamese that it had allowed president Richard Nixon and Kissinger to achieve a diplomatic victory over the communists in the Paris Agreement. That line was a gross distortion of what actually happened before and after the bombing." Moreover, it was Kissinger who figured out how Ford could claim a Vietnam victory and blame the whole mess on the Democrats.
So, it's quite possible that Bush will plunge into a counterinsurgency operation in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, and then amidst mass civilian carnage, declare victory and announce negotiations -- which sooner or later will have to happen. But things may not work out that way, as the Haifa Street firefight Tuesday -- in which American troops found themselves in the middle of an ongoing ethnic cleansing operation by Shia militias -- made clear.
GIs call Haifa Street "grenade alley." As Juan Cole points out, Haifa Street has become a fixture of the civil war, twisting and turning in one pacification effort after another. In July 2004, U.S. commanders deployed 3,000 troops in a mini-surge called Operation Haifa Street. A police station got blown up in a major bombing there. In March 2005, reports had things calming down a bit, and some said the tide had turned. Today Haifa Street is once again considered a terrorist stronghold -- thus the U.S. operation -- but things are getting ever more complicated, with at least one report in Arabic claiming Shia invaded the area Sunday, killed residents, and threw their bodies into the street. "In this context, some Sunni Arabs see the U.S. as having been duped by the Shiites to join in the ethnic cleansing of the Karkh district," says Cole. And now there are reports that Shia militias are worming their way into the Green Zone, a feat long attempted unsuccessfully by Sunni insurgents. So is the Bush administration simply throwing in its lot with one set of death squads over another? It wouldn't be the first time.
James Ridgeway is the Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones.'
by Arundhati Roy.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the text of a speech by acclaimed author and peace and social justice advocate Arundhati Roy on behalf of the "jury of conscience" at the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul June 24-26, 2005. For full proceedings of this event, visit this website.
This is the culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq. It is of particular significance that it is being held here in Turkey where the United States used Turkish air bases to launch numerous bombing missions to degrade Iraq's defenses before the March 2003 invasion and has sought and continues to seek political support from the Turkish government, which it regards as an ally. All this was done in the face of enormous popular opposition by the Turkish people. As a spokesperson for the jury of conscience, it would make me uneasy if I did not mention that the government of India is also, like the government of Turkey, positioning itself as a ally of the United States in its economic policies and the so-called War on Terror.
The testimonies at the previous sessions of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Brussels and New York have demonstrated that even those of us who have tried to follow the war in Iraq closely are not aware of a fraction of the horrors that have been unleashed in Iraq.
The Jury of Conscience at this tribunal is not here to deliver a simple verdict of guilty or not guilty against the United States and its allies. We are here to examine a vast spectrum of evidence about the motivations and consequences of the US invasion and occupation, evidence that has been deliberately marginalized or suppressed. Every aspect of the war will be examined--its legality, the role of international institutions and major corporations in the occupation, the role of the media, the impact of weapons such as depleted uranium munitions, napalm, and cluster bombs, the use of and legitimation of torture, the ecological impacts of the war, the responsibility of Arab governments, the impact of Iraq's occupation on Palestine, and the history of US and British military interventions in Iraq. This tribunal is an attempt to correct the record. To document the history of the war not from the point of view of the victors but of the temporarily--and I repeat the word temporarily--anguished.'
How much money will big oil companies make in Iraq, how much money and blood
will US citizens lose?
Can those with economic background or research skills give me a better
picture of this issue. These are my rough calculations based on bits and
pieces of information on oil production costs, royalties etc.
According to a study by Prof R. Dobie Langenkamp (Director, National
Energy-Environment Law and Policy Institute University of Tulsa College of
“Iraq has reserves of at least 112 billion barrels. The significance of this
number is often overlooked. Imagine all the oil reserves in the U.S., the
North Sea, China, the Caspian Sea, and West Africa all combined under one
jurisdiction. This oil is not to be found under high seas in 1,000 feet of
water or more, in arctic snows, in equatorial jungles or in third world
conditions where men and material must be brought in from great distances.
Iraq’s oil is on land in a flat, temperate, geographically compact area and
at a depth which is commonly drilled without difficulty. Iraq is not a
third world country and possesses considerable experience and skill in
Iraqi oil production costs are the lowest anywhere but of course do not
include security because that is picked up not by the oil companies but by
US taxpayer funded; as one retired general put it, the US army has become
corporate mercenaries paid by tax payers. So far we have spent $400 billion
for securing Iraq and that is not counting billions more separate issues.
Projects like the separately funded $600 million US “embassy”: a large US
city that will serve to house all the 8000 imperial employees of the US who
will use it as a base not just to control/manage Iraq but be the epicenter
of US power in West Asia. The cost of production in Iraq for oil companies
is estimated at $1/barrel. But even if one doubles that to $2 and the
current price of Iraq crude on the market is $52-60/barrel, this means that
at a minimum there are $50 per barrel profit. It is not clear where this
money has gone in the past nearly four years (roughly $150 billion in
profit, perhaps congress will find the guts to investigate?) but I am more
interested in a forward looking projections/understanding.
The draft oil bill pushed by the US (and mentioned in Bush’s speech) offers
Big oil companies production rights for 20 years at a mere 12.5% royalties
to the Iraqi government
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1576593,00.html) . The delay
in approval is not about whether to accept the 12.5% (this was not
negotiable) but about how to divvy up the 12.5% among the provinces (as Bush
clearly pointed out)! The US imposed that number of 12.5% based on deep see
royalties on US oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico but this is a rip-off
1) Deep see drilling costs about 20 times higher than surface drilling
2) American and British oil companies pay significant local tax and incur
significant other expenses (e.g.; on environmental issues0 that they do not
have to do in Iraq.
3) US law promotes sharing of US natural resources with US companies not
OK so this leaves the oil companies with roughly $44/per barrel. But what
about exploration costs you say: well much of Iraq oil is located in well
designated and discovered areas and close to the surface, the cost would be
minimal. But even if it triples the cost to $3 , that would still leave
$43/barrel profit. OK say $40 to account for the $100-500 million executive
pays of these companies/administration etc. At a minimum of 3 million
barrels per day production, this is $120 million per day profit or $43,800
million per year or $876 billion for the 20 years at a minimum (if no new
field development happens). But this is assuming production remains as is.
Iraq actually has reserves estimated at 120-300 billion barrels. Taking an
intermediate/low level of 150 billion barrels and an extraction rate of
2/3rd means roughly 100 billion barrels total x $44/barrel profit, that
means $4.4 TRILLION. The bottom line is that it appears the Big oil
companies are about to make between $1 to $4.4 trillion over the next 20
years if Bush succeeds in his plan (he says “win in Iraq”). If he fails,
that money could be used for the Iraqi people AND the security for oil
company profits would Corporate greed would not be watered by US and Iraqi
blood and fertilized by our taxes. For those with backgrounds or research
skills, I would love to have more information or corrections to this
guestimation of the oil loot. Email me.
Addendeum: the following link a brief history of Iraq oil policy under the
leadership of Kassem before CIA asset Saddam Hussain tried to assainate hjm
and later Baath party with Saddam being key succeded in ousting him.
Increased US military activity in the Gulf is aimed at Iran's "very
negative" behaviour, the Bush administration said today.
The defence secretary, Robert Gates, told reporters that the decision
to deploy a Patriot missile battalion and a second aircraft carrier
to the Gulf in conjunction with a "surge" of troops in Iraq was
designed to show Iran that the US was not "overcommitted" in Iraq.
Speaking in Brussels after meeting Nato officials, Mr Gates said: "We
are simply reaffirming that statement of the importance of the Gulf
region to the United States and our determination to be an ongoing
strong presence in that area for a long time into the future."
His remarks followed tough comments on Iran at the weekend from other
senior US officials. The vice-president, Dick Cheney, accused Iran of
"fishing in troubled waters inside Iraq", while the national security
adviser, Stephen Hadley, said the US was "going to need to deal with
what Iran is doing inside Iraq".Such remarks, following the prospect
of "hot pursuit" raids into Iran as raised by George Bush in his
televised address last week, have fuelled speculation that the US is
softening up the American public for possible action against Tehran. The increasingly confrontational pose struck by the US is a
repudiation of one of the key recommendations of the Iraq Study
Group, which called for the start of a dialogue with Iran and Syria
in an effort to extricate the US from Iraq.
Mr Gates, who as recently as 2004 publicly called for diplomatic
engagement with Iran, said the situation was now different. In 2004,
Iran was concerned by the presence of US forces on its eastern and
western borders, in Iraq and Afghanistan, but its behaviour had changed.
"The Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that
they have the initiative, that they are in position to press us in
many ways," he said. "They are doing nothing to be constructive in
Iraq at this point."
"And so the Iranians are acting in a very negative way in many
respects. My view is that when the Iranians are prepared to play a
constructive role in dealing with some of these problems then there
might be opportunities for engagement."
Besides concerns about Iran's nuclear programme, the US has accused
Tehran of supporting Shia militia and of not doing enough to stop
foreign fighters from infiltrating Iraq.
US-led forces in northern Iraq arrested five Iranians last week who
the US military says were connected to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard
faction that funds and arms insurgents in Iraq - a claim Iran has
Lees verder: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1990962,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1
By Moscow News01/15/07 "MosNews"
U.S. Navy nuclear submarines maintaining vigil off the coast of Iran indicate that the Pentagon’s military plans include not only control over navigation in the Persian Gulf but also strikes against Iranian targets, a former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard Baltin has told the Interfax news agency.“The presence of U.S. nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear targets in Iran. With this aim a group of multi-purpose submarines ready to accomplish the task is located in the area,” Admiral Baltin said.He made the comments after reports that a U.S. submarine collided with a Japanese tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.“American patience is not unlimited,” he said. “The submarine commanders go up to the periscope depth and forget about navigation rules and safety measures,” the admiral said. Currently there is a group of up to four submarines in the Persian Gulf area, he said. So far they only control navigation in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and in the Arabian Sea, he said. They might receive different orders in future: to block off the Gulf of Oman, that is the Iranian coast, and, if need be, launch missile strikes against ground targets in Iran, he said.'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article16186.htm Of: http://www.mosnews.com/news/2007/01/15/admiral.shtml
Washington has warned that it will not tolerate Iran supporting armed
groups fighting in Iraq, but in the far northeast of the country Al
Jazeera discovered armed Iranian exiles training to overthrow the
government in Tehran.
John Cookson visited members of the outlawed left-wing Kurdish-
Iranian Komala group, in their base.
The group accuses the Islamic government of persecuting the country's
From their base the fighters cross the porous border into Iran to
carry out attacks. Al Jazeera witnessed a group of highly motivated
men carry out a mock attack on Iranian forces.
Komala, otherwise known as the Revolutionary Toilers of Iran, was
founded in 1969, and is affiliated to the Communist party of Iran but
has softened its left-wing stance in recent years.
The United States has become interested in working with the group and
last year Abdullah Muhtadi, a senior representative of the party,
travelled to Washington for a conference of Iranian minority groups.
"The change is possible and this is not the destiny of the Kurds to
live under oppression. Yes, everybody feels that something is going
to happen and something must happen," Muhtadi told Al Jazeera.
After 40 years in exile many of the group believe their time has come.
One Komala commander told Al Jazeera: "I can see the end ... I think
it is going to be very soon."'