Daily edition of our Newsletter for the months of April 2011 to August 2011
For most recent daily edition click here
The Global Community has held the Global Information Media (GIM) proclamations ever since 1985. A short list of our previous work on the
Global Information Media proclamations is shown here.
For more recent work on the Global Information Media proclamations, read the following table.
| Date sent
|| Theme or issue
| September 2011
Authors of research papers and articles on issues of overpopulation.
Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation of the NCC India,
, Richard Heinberg
, Gary Holt
, Md. Hasibur Rahman
Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation of the NCC India, Madurai Declaration On Climate Change
Ghali Hassan, NATO of Terror
Richard Heinberg, Conservation: There Is No Alternative
Gary Holt, A Global Constitution
Dianne Monroe, Raising Children In Changing Times
Md. Hasibur Rahman, Increasing Population is the Major Problem in Bangladesh
| August 2011
Authors of research papers and articles on issues of overpopulation.
, Jeremy Brecher
, Michelle Chen
, Geoff Dembicki
, Robert Engelman
, Michael T. Klare
, Dr. Charles Mercieca
, Thomas C. Mountain
, Brendan Smith
, Scott Thill
Cynthia Boaz, 14 Propaganda Techniques Fox 'News' Uses to Brainwash Americans
Jeremy Brecher, Why Unions Should Reconsider Support for Tar Sands Oil Pipeline
Michelle Chen, The Globe is Not Only Getting Hotter. It is More Unjust and Unstable, Too
Geoff Dembicki, How the Toxic Tar Sands Industry Fuels the Ubiquitous Aluminum Can
Robert Engelman, The World at 7 Billion People: How Much More Growth Can the Planet Support?
Michael T. Klare, The New 30-Years' War: Who Will Be the Winners and Losers in the Great Global Energy Struggle to Come?
Bill McKibben, A Climate-Killing Oil Pipeline May Make North America the New Middle East
Dr. Charles Mercieca, Divine Versus Human Mind-Set
Dr. Charles Mercieca, One Proclaimed Objective: Two Different Motives
Dr. Charles Mercieca, Fast Way to Eliminate America’s Phenomenal Debt
Dr. Charles Mercieca, Methodical Insanity at Work
Thomas C. Mountain, Libya War Lies Worse Than Iraq
Brendan Smith, Why Unions Should Reconsider Support for Tar Sands Oil Pipeline
Scott Thill, The UN Is Aiding a Corporate Takeover of Drinking Water
| July 2011
Authors of research papers and articles on issues of Global Peace.
Agence France-Presse, Nnimmo Bassey
, Maude Barlow
, Farooque Chowdhury
, Juan Gonzalez
, Amy Goodman
,James E. Hansen
, Chris Hedges
, Michael T. Klare
, David Krieger
, Steven B. Kurtz
, Stephen Lendman
, Wangari Maathai
, Dr Gideon Polya
, Steve Salmony
Agence France-Presse, Report: If We Don't Stop Destroying Our Oceans, We'll See "Mass Extinction" of Marine Life
Nnimmo Bassey, Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future
Maude Barlow, Vision: Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet
Farooque Chowdhury, Profit, Pollution And Poor
Juan Gonzalez, Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
Amy Goodman, Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
James E. Hansen, Tar Sands Pipeline: Silence Is Deadly
Ghali Hassan, NATO Of Terror
Chris Hedges, The Sky Really Is Falling and Our Only Salvation Is the Rapid Dismantling of the Fossil Fuel Industry
Michael T. Klare, 3 Massive World Events That Will Change Your Life
David Krieger, How Many Nuclear Weapons Still Threaten Humanity?
Steven B. Kurtz, Feedback And Dis-Equilibrium In Human Overpopulation
Stephen Lendman, IMF Financial Terrorism
Stephen Lendman, Lies, Damn Lies, And Liberating Wars
Laurence Lewis, Why Climate Change is the Most Important Issue Humanity Has Ever Faced
Wangari Maathai, Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves By Replenishing The Earth
Dr Gideon Polya, Country By Country Analysis Of Years Left Until Science-demanded Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Steve Salmony, Speaking Out About The Last Of The Last Taboos: Human Population Dynamics And Overpopulation
| April and May 2011
Authors of research papers and articles on issues of Global Peace.
Ammar Banni (2), Maude Barlow, Thierry BÃ©court (2), Mirza A. Beg, Phyllis Bennis, Monika Berghoff, M K Bhadrakumar, Michael Boldin, Madeleine Bunting, MARIE DAVID C., Fidel Castro, Guy CREQUIE, CODEPINK: (Dana, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janet, Jodie, Medea, Nancy, Paris, Rae, Suzanne, and Whitney), Most Honorable Bilongo Bolo Serge Christian (2), Radha D'Souza, Germain Dufour, Dr Michael Ellis, S. Faizi, Freedom Socialist Party, Martine Gilhard, Peter Gleick, Andrew Glikson, Global Footprint Network, Nina Goncharova, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jacques L. Hamel, Steve Hochstadt, Indegenous Peoples' Declaration, Chalmers Johnson, Mariam Khan, Tara Lohan, Mary Hamer M.D., Dot Maver, Dr. Charles Mercieca, Leslaw Michnowski (2), Jason Miller, Dr. Matjaz MULEJ, Verlag Meiga, Madeline Ostrander, Pablo Ouziel (3), Gideon Polya, Dr. Leo Rebello, Mme Marie Robert, Kamala Sarup, Dr. Leo Semashko, Cindy Sheehan, Vandana Shiva, Mme Gabrielle SIMOND, Soul of all Life, Soul of Humanity's Message, David Sparenberg, David Allen Stringer, David Swanson, Scott Thill, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2), Manuel Valenzuela, Dr. JosÃ© G. Vargas-HernÃ¡ndez, John Vidal, Rene Wadlow, John Waldman (2), Rev.Dr.Awoa Allo Paul Yannick, Kourosh Ziabari.
More writers on global issues for months April and May
, Shannon Biggs
, Paul Chefurka
, Noam Chomsky
, Alister Doyle
, Brad Johnson
, Pastor Don Mackenzie
, Paul Rosenberg
, Steve Salmony
, Catherine Traywick
Sharon Astyk, Will We Pass 10 Billion?
Shannon Biggs, If Nature Had Rights, Would We Need Earth Day?
Paul Chefurka, Bearing Witness To Collapse
Noam Chomsky, The Dice Are Stacked Against Humanity
Alister Doyle, Arctic Warming May Raise Global Sea Levels Five Feet
Brad Johnson, Top Scientists Explain How Deadly Tornadoes in the South May Be Influenced by Climate Change
Pastor Don Mackenzie, Violence Disguised As Religion
Vi Ransel, Population Growth, Pollution and the Global Environment "People Are Not Pollution"
Paul Rosenberg, The Link Between Deadly Weather and Global Warming Is Real -- and Conservatives Can't Just Wish It Away
Steve Salmony, Willfully Ignoring The Science Of Human Population Dynamics
Pablo Solon, We Cannot Command Nature Except By Obeying Her
Catherine Traywick, US Landowners Preserving the Future: Indigenous Women in the U.S. and Canada are Taking on Big Oil ? and Winning
| March 8, 2011
State Of The Planetary Life Support System
by Dr Andrew Glikson , Inter Press Service, Countercurrent
In contrast to the impression of gradual climate projections which may be obtained by IPCC projections (Figure 1), the spate of heat waves/fire, hurricanes and floods around the world, which doubled in frequency between 1980 and 2009 , manifests the response of the atmosphere-ocean system to increased radiative forcing by anthropogenic greenhouse gas, namely the over 320 billion tons carbon (GtC) emitted since the 18th century, more than 50 percent the original inventory of the atmosphere
| March 18, 2011
U.S. Love Affair with Murderous Dictators And Hate For Democracy
by Ghali Hassan, Inter Press Service, Countercurrent
Millions of people around the world are overwhelmed and encouraged by the popular uprisings against U.S.-imposed dictatorship regimes in the Arab world. Yet what is lacking is any serious examination of the complicity of the U.S. government and its allies in supporting murderous regimes. Far from promoting stability and democracy, the U.S. is the source of instability and an enemy of democracy.
To serve its imperialist interests, the U.S. government backed and financed murderous dictators around the world. From the fascist Augusto Pinochet in Chile to the criminal regime of François Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) in Haiti to the corrupt Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic to the murderous Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines to the criminal Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) to Indonesia’s mass murderer Suharto to the vicious Shah Reza Behlavi in Iran.
Today, the U.S. love affair with murderous dictators and oppressive regimes – including Columbia, the murderous regime in Iraq, King Abdullah of Jordan, the criminal regime of Zine Bin Ali in Tunisia, the oppressive and illegitimate despotic regimes in the oil-rich Gulf Sheikhdoms (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Saudi Arabia), the torturous regime of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the fascist regime in Israel – continues to be an open secret.
By financing and arming murderous dictators and despots against their own people, the U.S. is able to strengthen its power, exert total domination and exploits vital resources at the expense of the local population. Any murderous regime – criminal, religious extremist or fascist – will do as long as it is not independent and committed to serve U.S. imperialist interests. The relationship is a master and servants relationship. In order to receive U.S. backing and U.S. finance, a regime must be brutal, oppressive and prepares to use violence against its own population. In reality, the U.S. has a near total monopoly on supporting murderous dictators.
The U.S. government love affair with murderous dictators is matched only by its hate for democracy and democratic principles. While the U.S. government publicly claims to promote democracy, development and human rights, in reality the U.S. government despises democracy, development and human rights. Democracy is only allowed if it serves U.S. imperialist interest. In countries throughout the world, the U.S. had worked to destabilise and undermine democratically-elected governments. Hence, the U.S. government is widely hated for its role by ordinary people struggling against dictatorship regimes, for democracy, freedom and equality.
Since World War II, the U.S. has undermined, subverted or violently overthrow some 60 mostly democratically-elected and independent governments world-wide and replaced them with murderous corrupt dictators subservient to U.S. dictates. In 1953, the U.S. undermined and overthrew the democratically-elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and replaced it with one of the most brutal dictators. In September 1973, the democratically-elected president of Chile, Dr. Salvador Allende, was toppled in a U.S.-sponsored military coup and replaced by a fascist military junta led by Augusto Pinochet. The violent event is known as Chile 9/11. According to Defence Intelligence Agency analysts, the Pinochet’s regime was “militaristic, fascists, tyrannical and murderous” regime. Yet, the U.S. has backed and financed the military junta all along.
The U.S. contempt for democracy reached its zenith of in 2004. On the night 28 February 2004, the Haiti’s first democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by CIA agents and a mercenary squad of “thugs and criminals” including, drug dealers and members of the former Haitian military. Aristide was taken with his American-born wife to the Central African Republic and latter forced into exile in South Africa. He was replaced by the usual U.S.-baked criminals. Ever since, Haiti’s tragedy continues under a U.S.-UN military occupation.
The U.S. and its allies despised democracy and work tirelessly to undermine democratic development. Billions of U.S. dollars are paid to Western organisations and opposition groups to undermine and subvert democratically-elected governments around the world, with the option of military invasion is always on the table.
Since 2000, the U.S. spends millions of dollars trying to destabilise and topple the Venezuelan Government of President Hugo Chávez. The world most democratically-elected President, Hugo Chávez is considered by the U.S. and its European allies as a dictator. In 2002, a coup d'état – backed and financed directly by the U.S. – failed to oust President Chávez from office, thanks to a quick and well-organised popular uprising against the Venezuelan Oligarchy and their U.S. backers.
Like President Chávez, Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who enjoys the support of the majority of the people and was re-elected President of Belarus recently by more than 72 per cent, is being demonised and called a dictator by Western media and Western politicians. The fact that President Lukashenka’s policies of maintaining an independent economy characterised by a social system that do not accord with capitalist orthodoxy make him an enemy of the U.S. and its allies. Of course, the Belarusian people are somehow lucky, they have a powerful neighbour.
In 2006, the Palestinian Resistance Movement (HAMAS) in Gaza contested and won fair and free legislative elections. Immediately, the U.S. and its allies, including the EU, Israel and Egypt imposed collective sanctions on the Palestinian people for daring to democratically-elect their own representatives in order to topple the HAMAS government. In 2008/2009, Israel carried out an unprovoked aggression against Gaza that killed more than 1,450 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including some 350 children. The 22-day attacks were coordinated with the U.S. and Egypt. The U.S. government not only supplied and paid for the Israeli bombing, including chemical and phosphorous bombs, it also defended Israel’s terror.
Furthermore, the ongoing campaign of demonization of Iran and Islam is part of a wider terrorist campaign to destabilise the democratically-elected government of Iran. According to an analysis of multiple polls of the Iranian public conducted by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the choice of the majority of the Iranian people (3-1). However, Western politicians and Western media are accusing Iran of being a dictatorship and thus qualify for “regime change”. The U.S. and its allies are undermining the Iranian government through sanctions, sabotage and state-sponsored acts of terrorism. In short, the U.S. is not only an enemy of democracy; it is a source of instability.
EGYPT AS A CASE STUDY
On 04 June 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama chose Cairo to deliver his much-anticipated fraudulent address to the “Muslim world”. It was the strongest public endorsement of one of the most murderous regimes on the planet, openly backed and financed by the U.S. and its allies.
Egypt has been under military dictatorship since the death of the much-beloved Arab leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Under Nasser, Egypt were an independent, anti-imperialist and a net exporter of food nation. Egyptians enjoyed unprecedented access to housing, education, health services, and nourishment as well as other forms of social welfare. “When Nasser died in September 1970, more than five million people jammed the streets of Cairo to mourn him, far more than are demonstrating against the Mubarak regime ... In 1974, when [Anwar] El-Sadat opened Egypt’s economy [and submitted] to the United States, his country was a net exporter of food. By the time he died, Egypt was dependent on American handouts. His death, like King Farouk’s departure in 1952, came as a relief. So too will the abdication of Hosni Mubarak. Although no Egyptian regime tolerated participatory democracy, only Nasser stood up to Britain and the U.S. Only Nasser reformed the economy to the benefit of the Egyptian majority. Only Nasser refused to enrich himself and his family at the expense of his countrymen. They loved him for it, as they loved no other leader. When he died, the people in the streets lamented, ‘There is no shade’. The harsh sun of repression and corruption has burned them ever since”, writes the American journalist Charles Glass. Hosni Mubarak who succeeded Anwar El-Sadat – the traitor of the Arab-Muslim nation – ruled through a state’s emergency power for the last three decades.
The Mubarak’s regime has succeeded in destroying Egypt as an independent Arab-Muslim nation. Today’s Egypt is in totally submitted to the U.S.-Israel and dependents on U.S. handout. There is no “middleclass” in Egypt. Nearly 80 per cent of Egyptians lives in extreme poverty – eked out a bare existence and surviving on a day-to-day basis in overcrowding slums –, while the Mubarak’s clique enjoys an affluent lifestyle. The regime has been a vital imperialist instrument in the destruction of Iraq and a brutal enforcer of Israel’s fascist policies in Palestine. For his service to U.S.-Israel Zionism, the U.S. paid Mubarak between $1.5 and $2 billion annually. Most of the money spent on Mubarak army and his internal security, which includes 1.5 million police officers (a collection of thugs). It is a formidable U.S.-armed force against unarmed and the vastly poor Egyptian population.
In the region, the Mubarak’s regime has a criminal record of treachery against other Arabs. The Mubarak’s regime is complicit in U.S.-Israel war crimes, including the U.S. aggression against Iraq, the U.S.-Israel war against the Palestinian people and U.S. torture practice of Muslim men. The regime was an instrument of naked U.S. imperialism. The destruction of Iraq is unforgivable and criminal act. Iraq was not only a lifeline for millions of poor Egyptians in Iraq and in Egypt. Iraq was the only country to have stood-up to Israel’s fascist expansion.
In 1991, the Mubarak regime not only facilitated the U.S. criminal attack on Iraq, his army took part in the destruction of Iraq and the mass murder of Iraqi civilians. For his criminal complicity, Mubarak was rewarded $7 billion as a “debt relief”. The U.S.- and Britain-imposed and enforced UN genocidal sanctions were a bonanza to the Egyptian business elites. With the blessing of Mubarak, they enriched themselves while Iraqi children starved to death. Without the complicity of Mubarak and the other corrupt dictators in the region, the U.S. would have never attacked Iraq.
In 2003, the Mubarak regime was instrumental in fabricating the lies that led to U.S. aggression against Iraq. Egypt is considered one of the U.S. destinations where Muslim men were sent to be tortured – and later disappeared – on behalf of the U.S. government. The criminal cover-up is dubbed “extraordinary renditions”, where suspects are kidnapped by U.S. agents and sent for torture in other countries. Mubarak’s criminal complicity in U.S. war crimes against Iraq extended to providing logistic and launching pads for U.S. war of aggression. As a result of an illegal aggression against Iraq and eight years of murderous U.S. military Occupation, at least 1.3 million Iraqis have been killed and some 5 million Iraqis have become displaced refugees. Unashamed, Mubarak had the audacity to warn Iran not to interfere in “Iraqi politics” and respect Iraq’s “sovereignty”. Mubarak’s Foreign Minister, the Zionist stooge Ahmed Abul-Gheit ranted that, “Iraq needs support from the Arabs to counter non-Arab influence”. According to a WikiLeaks cable, Mubarak has recently urged the Americans to install a dictator as Iraq’s “strong man”. Iraqis are “tough” people and do not need democracy, he warned his master.
Unlike Mubarak’s fall, which celebrated by millions of Egyptians, the U.S. had to import criminals, corrupt thugs and torturers, including prime ministers to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein (statue in Firdos Square) and the destruction of Iraq as an independent and sovereign Arab nation. Unlike Mubarak, Saddam built Iraq, with universal healthcare and education including university – the best in the region – for all Iraqis. Unlike Mubarak, Saddam died an honourable death, murdered by illegal foreign invaders.
On Palestine, Mubarak has continued his predecessor’s policy of complicity in U.S.-Israel perpetuated genocide in Palestine. Since the so-called “peace treaty” with Israel – a betrayal of the Arab people, the Palestinian people in particular –, Egypt has become a vassal serving U.S. imperialist and Israel Zionist interests. Under Mubarak, Egypt was committed to Israel-U.S. agenda of anti-Palestinians policies, including the Nazis-like siege of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Concentration Camp. It is a policy against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Egyptians. In fact, many Egyptians accused Mubarak of being an Arab Zionist. According to a report by Amnesty International, the situation is: “The wretched reality endured by 1.5 million people in Gaza should appal anybody with an ounce of humanity. Sick, traumatised and impoverished people are being collectively punished by a cruel, illegal policy imposed by Israeli [fascist] authorities” and help enforced by the Mubarak’s regime. As if this brutal siege is not enough, the Mubarak’s regime has recently accused Palestinians in Gaza of a deadly attack on Christian churches. However, reliable Western intelligence argues that the attack was orchestrated by Mubarak’s security in order to bolster Western support for his regime.
In welcoming Mubarak to the White House on July 30, 1996, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, one of America’s most murderous presidents said: "I don't think we would be where we are today if it weren't for President Mubarak ... We believe that working together we can help to bring more prosperity to the Egyptian people ... I thank you for your wise counsel, your strong leadership, and your iron determination ... I especially want to thank President Mubarak for Egypt's partnership in the peace process and for playing a critical role in our efforts here”. Clinton, of course, is an enemy of the Palestinian people and a mass murderer of Iraqi children.
Moreover, most Western leaders remained faithful to Mubarak to the last minute and no one wanted him to go. From Barack Obama to David Cameron to Angela Merkel to Nicolas Sarkozy to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, everyone is happy with an “orderly and peaceful transition” from Mubarakism to Mubarakism without Mubarak.
The U.S. and its allies argue that their aim is what the Zionist propaganda organ, the BBC, called promoting “Western values” through regime change and mass murder of innocent civilians, not democracy. Democracy is bad for the U.S. and it is bad for Israel. Hence, a murderous dictator like Mubarak provides the U.S. and Israel with “stability” and “peace”, which means in American parlance giving Israel and the U.S. free hands to unprovoked aggression, wanton destruction and ongoing ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Indeed, the U.S. and Israel are widely recognised as the greatest threat to world peace and stability in the world today.
LIBYA AND THE HYPOCRISY OF WESTERN GOVERNMENTS
Western governments have openly interfered in the affairs of the legitimate Libyan Government and have called on Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi’s removal by force. France, the U.S. and other EU members have recognised the mixed bag of anti-Libyan armed militia as the “legitimate” government in Benghazi, paving the way for foreign military intervention and the imperialist division of Libya in the same way Iraq has been divided by the U.S. and its allies. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, went as far as calling for the assassination of al-Qaddafi. France, of course, offered armed security to the Tunisian dictator (Zine Ben Ali) to crush the pro-democracy protesters before he fled the country.
Meanwhile, U.S. secretary of State, Hillary Clinton offered “assistance to anyone” against al-Qaddafi “who wishes to receive assistance from the United States”, but not for those who are struggling for democracy. “We are reaching out to the opposition inside and outside of Libya”, Clinton said recently. The U.S. and its allies are inciting an internal conflict and used it as an opportunity to serve U.S. imperialist interests.
Using Libyan seized assets, the U.S. has begun arming the militia – through the brutal regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt – with anti-tank rockets, assault rifles, mortars and ground-to-air missiles. The timing of the insurrection in Libya is not coincidence and is designed to deflect attention away from the legitimate popular uprisings against U.S.-installed dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. The aim is to create a humanitarian crisis and justify military invasion. Indeed, the U.S. has a history of using civilian lives to justify aggression. In Iraq the U.S. created the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, and still is. The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is another.
It should be pointed out that while al-Qaddafi has recently cooperated with the U.S. and other European governments, he is an independent and an anti-imperialist leader. After liberated Libya from the rule of the imperialist stooge King Idris El-Senusi in1969, he nationalised Libya’s oil and used the oil revenue to free Libya from the clutched of imperialism-induced poverty. Under al-Qaddafi, Libya has “a medium-high per capita income of 12,000, six times greater than that of Egypt” (IL Manifesto, 25 February 2011). Al-Qaddafi used the oil revenue to raise the living standards of Libyans. Libya has the highest Human Development Index (HDI) of any country in Africa – which measures life expectancy, education and living conditions. Like most politicians, al-Qaddafi is not a saint, but nothing justifies U.S. violence and murderous invasion.
Al-Qaddafi has been demonised and characterised in racist terms by Western politicians and media. He was framed as a “terrorist” and attacked. In 1986, the U.S. attacked Libya with massive aerial bombings designed to assassinate al-Qaddafi. It was a classic act of state-sponsored terrorism that killed hundreds of innocent people, including al-Qaddafi’s infant daughter. The two-decade long U.S.- and Britain-sponsored sanctions devastated Libya’s economy..
In addition, al-Qaddafi is loathed by all the despotic Arab regimes, and their recent submission to U.S. dictates to recognise the violent anti-Libyan Government militia and support U.S. war agenda against Libya is just a case in point. They believe that a war against Libya will divert public attention away from their own illegitimate and despotic regimes and provides a cover for more brutality .
While the U.S. government and its allies have attacked the Libyan Government for cracking-down on the violent CIA-sponsored armed militia, they remained silent on the ongoing violent attacks against peaceful protesters by despotic regimes elsewhere, including Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, Bahrain and Iraq. The hypocrisy and contradictions are sickening, even to the most hypocrites.
In the early hours of 17 February 2011, riot police in Bahrain attacked the non-violent and sleeping encampment of thousands of protesters at Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama with tear gas, batons, and bullets. Several people were killed, including a two-year old girl, and hundreds of protestors were wounded. Two days after U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates left Bahrain on 12 January 2011 heavily armed troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE invaded Bahrain to crackdown on a peaceful uprising by the Island’s majority and protect another U.S.-backed despotic regime. Imagine the outrage in the ‘moral West' if Iran invading Bahrain to protect the majority of the population.
According to AFP News (15 February 2011), ‘at least 200 people have been shot and wounded in the village of Sitra, south of the Bahraini capital’. In responding to the bloodshed, Hillary Clinton ‘urged restraint and stressed that the only durable solution is a credible political process, not a military one’. Like Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, ‘governments should respond to calls for change with reform, not repression’. Both, Clinton and Cameron are on a mission to garner support for a military aggression against Libya, not Bahrain.
Bahrain is considered a launching pad for U.S. aggression abroad and one-fifth of the Island occupied by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. Fifth Fleet. The regime of King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifa is considered one of the worst in the Gulf Sheikhdoms. The regime has recently resorted to importing ‘secular’ Muslims from other countries – like Pakistan and Bangladesh – and granted them citizenship in an effort to increase the number of people supporting the regime. Indeed, the small counter protests organised by the government was mostly of Asian foreign workers.
On 25 February 2011, at least 29 Iraqi civilians were killed when security forces belonging to the U.S.-installed colonial dictatorship in Iraq fired live bullets on thousands of Iraqi protesters defying a curfew to call for democracy, and an end to the U.S. murderous Occupation. Hundreds of Iraqis have been detained, including journalists and prominent Iraqi professionals taking part in the uprising against the Occupation and the U.S.-backed murderous regime. After eight years of murderous U.S. Occupation, today’s Iraq is a repressive colonial dictatorship under U.S. control.
In relation to Mubarak, no Western leader even dared to mention sanctions, “no-fly” zone or “crimes against humanity”. As dictated by Barack Obama, the Egyptian military – controlled by the U.S. and has been a long-time collaborator with Israeli regime – took over and Mubarak retired to his palace in the protected enclave of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.
Meanwhile, Western politicians have began to prepare for the next “humanitarian” war, while ignoring their illegal aggression and mass murder of women and children in Iraq and the ongoing bloodbath in Afghanistan. Careful not to upset the U.S. and Israel, Western politicians regurgitated U.S. false propaganda against Libya in the same way they did against Iraq.
When Mubarak’s thugs killed at least 360 Egyptian demonstrators, imprisoned and tortured thousands others, the U.S. and its allies called for “restraint on both sides” and portrayed Mubarak a “democrat”. They used what they called “diplomacy” to encourage Mubarak to make an “orderly and peaceful transition” to military rule. By contrast, the same imperialists are calling on al-Qaddafi to “step down and leave” and they stepped up their support for the militia. They are accusing al-Qaddafi of “crimes against humanity”. They alleged that al-Qaddafi has committed crimes and must stand trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Libya does not recognise the ICC authority and there is no evidence that al-Qaddafi has committed any crimes against Libyans. In fact, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva had recently praised Libya’s record on human rights, particularly the right of women. If the ICC is serious about justice and International Law, it is oblige to investigate crimes of genocide committed by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair or crimes committed by Israeli leaders against the Palestinians. The ICC could also hold U.S.-NATO leaders responsible for civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The ICC, which is not recognised by the U.S. and has no jurisdiction over Americans accused of crimes, is nothing more than a tool of Western imperialism and will be used as a pretext to get around the UN Security Council veto for aggression.
It is clear that the ongoing violent insurrection in Libya has nothing to do with democracy, dictatorship and inequality. It has much to do with a U.S.-sponsored insurrection to topple the current Libyan Government and take control of Libyan valuable natural resources (oil and natural gas). The main group leading the insurrection is the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition which includes the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). The NFSL, which is leading the violence, is a U.S.-sponsored armed militia of mostly Libyan expatriates and tribes opposed to al-Qaddafi. Unlike the peaceful uprisings against U.S.-backed dictatorship regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq and elsewhere, the violence in Libya has been directed against government buildings and properties, including army barracks and police stations.
Unlike the peaceful uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq and elsewhere, the violence in Libya “underscored the contrast between the character of Libya’s revolution and [the peaceful uprisings that toppled dictators in Egypt and Tunisia]”. The militia leading the insurrection against the Libyan government has been led by “people who are more mature and who have been actively opposing the government for some time.” (NYT, 24 February 2011). It is most likely that the “mixed bag” contains U.S.-baked extremists, like “al-Qaeda”. They have already refused to negotiate and have called for U.S.-NATO to impose a “no-fly” zone over Libya, i.e., military intervention.
A “no-fly” zone is an act of illegal aggression to seize Libyan airspace and attack Libyan military infrastructure. The U.S. and NATO supported by no others than the illegitimate despotic Arab regimes have began to preparing of the imposition of a “no-fly” zone over Libya. What is shameful about the “no-fly” zone is the Arab regimes hypocrisy. Acting with obedience of imperialist servants, the Arab regimes have succumb to U.S. pressure and agreed to participate in the U.S.-NATO illegal intervention in Libya. These are the same U.S.-backed despots that are using violence and oppressive methods against their own people.
It is important to remember that the illegal unilateral U.S.-Britain “no-fly” zone over Iraq was instrumental in destroying Iraqi defence capabilities and led to two criminal wars. For two decades, U.S. and Britain pilots flying high altitude have terrorised the Iraqi people and divided the country. The Australian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, playing as mouthpiece for U.S. terror, was the first to call for a “no-fly” zone to be enforced over Libya. Rudd wants the world to know that when it comes to violence, Australia is the most reliable U.S. vassal. Not long ago, Rudd and nearly all Australian members of parliament stood idly by while the Israeli fascist regime was massacring Palestinian women and children in Gaza. There were no similar proposals to protect Arab civilians demonstrating elsewhere in the Middle East. Furthermore, the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had the audacity to preach against nonviolence as if she has forgotten Australia’s continues criminal complicity in U.S. illegal aggressions and massacres of Afghan civilians.
On 25 February 2011, the U.S. government forced the UN Security Council to impose stringent economic sanctions on Libya, including arms embargo. In addition, the UN froze (confiscated) some $50 billion Libyan assets held in U.S. and EU banks. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon has the audacity to demand a “decisive action” against Libya, while playing an active role defending and legitimising U.S. and Israel atrocities elsewhere. Mr Ki-Moon must know something about the UN-sponsored and U.S.-Britain enforced genocidal sanctions on Iraq that killed more than 2 million Iraqis, a third of whom were under the age of five, and destroyed the social fabric of the Iraqi society.
The U.S. and its Western allies have begun the process of manufactured pretexts to justify a “humanitarian invasion” of Libya and the occupation of the oil-rich region. Of course, “humanitarian invasion” in Western language has nothing to do with humanitarian per se; it is a cover-up for military invasion accompanied by terror mayhem and displacement of people. The same pretexts that were used to justify the illegal and murderous invasion and Occupation of Iraq and the premeditated mass murder of more than 1.3 million innocent Iraqis will be used to justify the invasion of Libya. Indeed, the same group of U.S. fascist Jews – Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Joe Lieberman, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith and many more former senior officials from the Bush administration – who fabricated lies that led to the U.S. aggression against Iraq in 2003, are calling for a U.S.-NATO military invasion of Libya. “Those who promote the use of military force against Libya do not seek to defend human rights, but to establish a protectorate in order to violate them, as is always the case, in a country which is one of the most important sources of oil and energy in the Middle East”, said Jorge Valero, Venezuelan ambassador to the UN.
The CIA-sponsored insurrection in Benghazi and other oil-rich regions in Libya is part of a U.S. plan to control Libyan oil and natural gas that supplies China and upon which Europe largely depends. Like the invasion of Iraq, a U.S. invasion of Libya is the worst that could happen to the Libyan people. However, any student of Libyan history of resistance to foreign occupation knows that at least a third Libyans have died in order to liberate their country from Italian colonial rule.
MEDIA DISTORTION AND FALSE PROPOGANDA
Western media hate for truth and impartiality far exceed that of Western leaders hate for democracy and democratic principles. Aided by a collection of pro-U.S. Arab media, Western media have distorted the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen and the armed insurrection in Libya.
The BBC and most of the Zionists-controlled U.S. media, such as CNN, Fox News, NPR, CBS and New York Times have portrayed the peaceful uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen as demonstrations against rising food prices and living conditions while the violent and armed insurrection in Libya is portrayed as a “revolution for democracy” against Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi. In reality, the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen are against U.S.-baked dictators and the U.S.-Israel Zionist domination of the region. The demonstrators were calling for the agents of U.S. and Israel to go. The armed insurrection against the Libyan Government has nothing to do with revolution and democracy. It is a U.S.-sponsored violent insurrection against the independent Libyan Government.
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera and Western media have accused the Libyan forces of indiscriminate bombardments of “rebel-controlled” areas in the eastern part of the country, but independent media showed no evidence of bombing or destruction on the ground by the Libyan forces. It is important to bear in mind that Al-Jazeera is no known for its pro-Libyan propaganda.
The Qatar-based and Qatar-funded news network has adopted a completely biased position against the Libyan Government, attacking al-Qaddafi and supporting the U.S.-sponsored insurrection. The Qatari Government has recently introduced a new “media freedom law” which restricts journalists writing on issues “concerning national security and friendly countries”. Of course, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, the U.S. NATO, etc. are considered “friendly countries”, Libya is not. Hence, U.S.-made tanks firing on Bahraini protesters are ignored, while Libyan forces fighting U.S.-sponsored insurrection are magnified.
The BBC accused the Libyan military of mistreating three members of a BBC team. The fact that the three have admitted that they were ‘allowed to travel around the country freely and see what they want’ proved that the BBC is involved in distortion. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, during the recent popular uprising in Egypt, at least 140 journalists have been detained, attacked – including killings, rapes and physical assaults – covering the uprising. The BBC had nothing to say on that.
Meanwhile, Western pundits and “activists” (the “Left”) argued that the uprising against the Mubarak’s regime was fuelled by the Zionists-controlled Internet “social networking” media (Google, Twitter and Facebook) – a better description of these Internet sites is surveillance media. If that were true, there would be uprisings all over the U.S. Inequality, poverty rate and repression in the U.S. are much higher than in Egypt, Tunisia or Bahrain. In relation to Libya, the “Left” are united in their condemnation of al-Qaddafi and have begun advocating the invasion and division of Libya in line with U.S.-NATO agenda.
The aim of this Zionist propaganda is to claim ownership of the uprisings against U.S.-sponsored dictators and strip Arabs of their ability and their desire for change. As the Lebanese leader, Hassan Nusrellah said; “The Americans [and their friends] are trying to ride the wave. They are trying to take advantage of this revolution. They are trying to curb and absorb this revolution. They are trying to beautify their ugly image in our Arab and Islamic world, and they are trying to present themselves as defenders of people, of their rights, wills, and freedoms, after decades of absolute support for the worst dictatorships witnessed in our region”.
The popular uprisings against the Mubarak’s and other U.S.-backed Arab regimes was initiated by ordinary people (young and old) who, in the case of Egypt and Tunisia live in extreme poverty and have no way to pay for Internet. In fact, the Mubarak’s regime was able to turn off Internet and mobile phone services on the first day of the uprising, using U.S.-supplied technology tools. The popular uprisings in the Arab world were not for bread, as claimed by Western media and pundits; they are against U.S.-backed oppressive regimes and their submission to U.S.-Israel Zionist agenda. Indeed, ordinary Arabs hate the submission of their regimes to U.S.-Israel fascist hegemony.
Furthermore, the media focus on the Muslim Brotherhood Party has nothing to do with the Party itself. This smear campaign is part of a Zionist propaganda campaign designed to demonise Islam and Muslims and promote Islamophobia throughout Europe and the U.S. The dirty campaign second aim is to delegitimize the anti-Mubarak uprising. It is noteworthy that during the long uprising there has never been one single attack against any non-Muslim minority and extremism was never part of the uprising. In fact, the uprising was devoid of religious ideology.
Like many U.S.-co-opted “opposition” groups, the Muslim Brotherhood is not an anti-U.S. and it is not anti-imperialism. At the start of the uprising, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the demonstrators. They sided with the demonstrators only when they saw they have run out of options. As the Egypt-born scholar Samir Amin argued: “In case of ‘success’ and ‘elections’, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) will become the major parliamentary force. The US welcomes this and has qualified the MB as ‘moderate’, that is, docile and accepting the submission to the U.S. strategy, leaving Israel free to continue its occupation of Palestine. The MB is also fully in favour of the ongoing ‘market’ system, totally externally dependent. They are also, in fact, partners in the ‘comprador’ ruling class. They took a position against the working-class strikes and the peasants’ struggles to keep their ownership of land”. In 1950s, the Muslim Brotherhood collaborated with the CIA against President Gamal Abdel Nasser. “The Muslim Brotherhood in fact has been complicit with the [Mubarak’s] regime”, added Amin. Their support among the Egyptian population stands between 10-15 per cent.
In Australia, the racist media of five TV channels of distortions and a small fishpond of print media controlled by the fascist Murdoch Press (75%) and the Fairfax tabloids (25%) have used the occasions of the uprisings against U.S.-installed dictators to attack Muslims and spread anti-Muslim dirty propaganda. In a recent Op-Ed in the Sydney Morning Herald on the popular uprising in Egypt, Paul Sheehan, one of Australia’s most racist Islamophobe journalists writes: “Of the 16 Arab nations, not one is an open democracy. The words ‘Arab’ and ‘democracy’ have never coexisted in the same sentence as a political reality because of a third word, ‘Islam’, which is not merely a religion, it is a system ordering the entirety of society, from government to law to social mores”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 07 February 2011). Only an illiterate racist is ignorant enough to make such false statement based on the impotence of a few U.S.-installed and U.S.-backed dictators.
First, there are 22 Arab countries and territories (the Arab nation) with a combined population of some 360 million Arabic-speaking people. Long before they were dominated by Western imperialism, most, if not all Arab/Muslim countries have experienced democratic governments. Sheehan should know that Muslims an Arabs of the Middle Ages have pioneered the fields of science and knowledge, and built the finest universities and research centres while “white” Europe was still shrouded in medieval darkness. Of course, the words Islam and democracy have always coexisted in the same sentence. Islam stipulates the popular consent as a prerequisite to the establishment of any legitimate political authority. Islam principles are essentially democratic. Islam is based on three basic precepts: (1) all persons in any given society are equal in human and civil rights; (2) public issues are best decided by majority view; and (3) justice, equality and human dignity are best realized in personal as well as public life. Second, Sheehan pretends to ignore that in any accurate description of white Australia, the words “racism”, “violence” and “corruption” have coexisted in the same sentence since the establishment of the penal colony and remain so today. In racist white Australia, Indigenous Australians and Australians from small minorities are treated worse than dogs. Australian “democracy” – like U.S. “democracy” – is an illusion designed to manipulate and seduce a passive population ruled by “faceless” white (old) men.
The popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia by ordinary Arabs have ended decades-long U.S.-backed repressive regimes and opened a new chapter in Arab revival. Mubarak and Zine Ben Ali ousting were good news, others will follow. Without exception, the illegitimate and despotic Arab regimes have robbed the Arab people of their freedom, sovereignty and their pride. “Other than to wait and see what others might do, Arab regimes have no clear and effective approach toward any of the issues vital to their collective future, and what policies they do have contradict popular feeling. It is that indifference that condemned the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt to irrelevance”, write Hussein Agha of Oxford University and Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group, (Washington Post, 11 February 2011).
The Arab regimes criminal complicity in the destruction of Iraq and their failure to defend the Palestinian people and liberate Palestine from Zionism are evident of their impotence, corruption and subservient to U.S.-Israel dictates. In fact, it is easier for the Arab regimes to participate in the imperialist destruction of another Arab country than say “no” to U.S. imperialism.
While Israel possesses some 400 nuclear warheads, the Arab regimes remain weak and divided like never before. The Arab armies posed no deterrence to Israel, a racist ethno-religious entity that has no recognised international borders and openly espouses a fascist ideology of expansion. In fact, Israel can invade and occupy with ease any Arab country, terrorises its population and leaves.
Despite its abundant natural and human resources, the Arab world remains less developed and backward than the rest of the world outside Africa. Billions of U.S. dollars are being wasted on buying second-hand U.S.-made arms and military hardware rather than building a strong economy and long-term investment in education, health and employment opportunities. In October 2010, Deutsche Welle revealed that, the U.S. arms industry struck $123 billion in new arms deals with Kuwait, the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, ‘the largest procurement of arms by the Gulf Arab’s states in living memory’. Saudi Arabia alone accounts for $67 billion. It is most likely, if ever to be used, the arms will be used against Muslims, including the local population.
While they rule over mostly Muslim population, most of the Arab regimes are laic. They have deserted Islam as a way of life. Some have enforced their own form of “Islam” in order to stay in power and to please the U.S. and other Western governments. They use Islam to manipulate the population and enforce their brutal and repressive rule. In fact, the Arab regimes are the antithesis of Islam and Islamic principles.
Finally, the U.S. love affairs with murderous dictators will continue unless people around the world stand up together against U.S. imperialism. The goal of the Arab people should be the total eradication of U.S.-imposed murderous dictators and a complete rejection of U.S. imperialist domination. Only this will steer the Arab world on an independent and sovereign path and allows all Arabs to enjoy democracy, freedom and equality.
Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia.
 For an incisive view on the crisis in Libya: See Sara Flounders, No U.S. attack on Libya, www.workers.org, 02 March 2011).
| March , 2011
UN Vote Clears Way For US-NATO Attack On Libya
by Bill Van Auken , WSWS.org, Countercurrent
The United Nations Security Council Thursday night approved a resolution that paves the way for the United States and other major imperialist powers to conduct a direct military intervention in Libya under the pretense of a “humanitarian” mission to protect civilian lives.
The resolution, sponsored by the US, France, Britain and Lebanon, goes far beyond earlier proposals for a no-fly zone, authorizing the use of military force including “all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.” These “areas” include Benghazi, the city of one million which remains the sole stronghold of the revolt that began against the Gaddafi dictatorship one month ago. The sole limitation placed by the resolution is its exclusion of “a foreign occupation force on any part of Libyan territory.”
The vote sets the stage for a bombardment of Libya by US, French and British warplanes. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told France-2 Television that military action could begin within hours of the resolution’s approval. And the Associated Press cited an unnamed member of the British Parliament as saying, “British forces were on stand by for air strikes and could be mobilized as soon as Thursday night.”
American military officials have already warned that even the imposition of a no-fly zone entails the prior destruction of Libya’s air defense capabilities, meaning a major bombing campaign against Libya that will undoubtedly entail “collateral damage” measured in the killing and maiming of Libyan civilians.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Pentagon officials as saying, “Options included using cruise missiles to take out fixed Libyan military sites and air-defense systems … Manned and unmanned aircraft could also be used against Col. Gaddafi’s tanks, personnel carriers and infantry positions, with sorties being flown out of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization bases in the southern Mediterranean.”
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Gen. Norton Schwartz, the chief of the US Air Force, said that a no-fly zone would take “upwards of a week” to prepare, signaling a sustained bombing campaign. He also warned that in addition to US warplanes based in the US and Europe, aircraft would also have to be diverted from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Like other military officials, Schwartz said that the imposition of the no-fly zone would “not be sufficient” to halt the advance of forces loyal to the dictatorship of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which have swept steadily eastward toward Benghazi over the past 10 days. Clearly, what is being prepared are air strikes against Gaddafi’s ground forces. The prospect of carrying out a bombing raid aimed at assassinating Gaddafi has also been broached.
These plans for war are motivated not by any desire to protect the Libyan people or further the cause of democracy, as its proponents within the UN Security Council proclaimed. The impending intervention in the oil-rich North African country is driven by profit interests and geopolitical imperatives that have nothing to do with the “humanitarian” pretenses of the major powers. The aim is to exploit the civil war in Libya to impose a regime that is even more subordinate to these powers and to the major Western oil conglomerates intent on exploiting the country’s resources.
The gross hypocrisy and cynicism of the imperialist powers backing the intervention was underscored by the choice of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé to motivate the UN resolution. Juppé, who invoked the “Arab spring” as one of the “great revolutions that change the course of history,” recently assumed his post after his predecessor, Michèle Alliot-Marie, was forced to resign over a scandal involving her close political and private relations with the ousted Tunisian dictator Ben Ali. Juppé’s government was in the process of shipping anti-riot gear to its former colony when the mass protest forced the dictator to flee.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who had worked to insert the “all necessary measures” language allowing for an open-ended military assault on Libya, praised the passage of the resolution, declaring, “The future of Libya should be decided by the people of Libya.”
This is unquestionably the case. The task of overthrowing the right-wing dictatorship of the Gaddafi clique is that of the workers and oppressed of Libya, who had begun to carry it out. The aim of the US-backed intervention, however, is precisely to abort any genuine revolution and ensure that any regime that replaces Gaddafi serves not the interests of the Libyan people, but rather the demands of Washington and Big Oil. The US hopes to use Libya, moreover, as a base of operations for suppressing revolutionary movements of workers throughout the region.
The Security Council vote was 10 in favor and five abstentions. The countries abstaining included Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India. While, as permanent members of the council, both Russia and China had the power to defeat the resolution by casting “no” votes, they chose not to do so, ensuring that the UN continued to fulfill its function as a rubber stamp for the demands of the major imperialist powers.
In their statements explaining their abstentions, however, the ambassadors of the five countries made clear that the impending attack on Libya has nothing to do with any consensus by the “world community” to protect the Libyan people, but rather is the outcome of a conspiracy worked out in secret between Washington, London and Paris.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that the measure “opens the door to large scale military intervention” and stressed that questions had been raised in the prior discussions of the resolution as to how it would be enforced, by what military forces and under what rules of engagement, but there had been “no answers.”
India’s ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri noted that while the UN Security Council had appointed a special envoy on the situation in Libya, it had received “no report on the situation on the ground” and was acting despite having “little credible information.” He said that there had been no explanation as to how the resolution was to be enforced, “by whom and with what measures.” He expressed concern over the fate of Libya’s “sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”
Singh also voiced reservations about a range of new economic sanctions, which target, among other entities, Libya’s national oil company. He said that the measures could disrupt trade and investment by member states.
Germany’s ambassador, Peter Wittig, warned that the authorization of the use of military force increased the “the likelihood of large-scale loss of life” and said that Germany’s armed forces would take no part in the intervention.
China’s ambassador Li Baodong, the acting president of the Security Council, also voiced reservations, but then justified Beijing’s failure to veto the measure by invoking the vote last weekend of the Arab League calling on the UN to implement a no-fly zone.
NATO has also claimed this vote as somehow legitimizing intervention by demonstrating “regional support.” The reality is that the Arab League is itself composed of a collection of dictatorships, monarchies and emirates that in no way represent the desires or interests of the Arab people. Many of them are actively engaged in the violent suppression of popular upheavals.
While Washington has stressed that any intervention against Libya should include direct participation by the Arab countries, it appears that their involvement will be minimal. Following the visit to Cairo by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told Reuters: “Egypt will not be among those Arab states. We will not be involved in any military intervention. No intervention, period.”
On Thursday, the Arab League could name only two countries prepared to join the US-NATO assault: Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Both ruled by royal dynasties, the two emirates are direct participants in Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Bahrain to suppress the mass movement against the ruling monarchy. While security forces have shot protesters dead in the streets, invaded hospitals and carried out a reign of terror in Shia villages, none of the supposed champions of democracy in Libya are proposing any UN intervention in Bahrain, the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet.
The Gaddafi government warned that any attack on Libya “will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger and civilian and military facilities will become targets of Libya’s counter-attack.”
US Secretary of State Clinton set the new strident US tone towards Libya in a statement made in Tunisia denouncing Gaddafi as “a man who has no conscience and will threaten anyone in his way. … It’s just his nature. There are some creatures that are like that.”
As recently as April 2009, the same Hillary Clinton warmly welcomed Gaddafi’s son and minister of national security to the US State Department, declaring, “We deeply value the relationship between the United States and Libya. We have many opportunities to deepen and broaden our cooperation and I am very much looking forward to building on this relationship.”
Like her European counterparts, only months ago Clinton was currying favor with the Gaddafi regime in pursuit of oil profits and the collaboration of his secret police apparatus in prosecuting Washington’s “global war on terrorism.”
Now, under the cover of a crescendo of human rights propaganda, with sections of the media claiming that the repressive actions of the Gaddafi regime amount to “genocide”, Washington together with French and British imperialism are intervening in a civil war in Libya which they themselves had no small part in provoking.
No amount of rhetoric about “saving lives” can mask the fact that what is being carried out is an act of out and out imperialist banditry, comparable to the attempts to partition the Congo and Nigeria during the second half of the 20th century. In those cases, as in Libya, behind the interventions was the drive for control of strategic resources.
The justifications given for the Libyan intervention are full of grotesque contradictions. Washington, which professes to be outraged over the killing of Libyan civilians and bent on saving lives, is itself responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan and, on the very eve of the UN vote, carried out the cold-blooded murder of some 40 civilians in a drone attack in Pakistan.
The US and its allies have shown no inclination to seek a resolution authorizing the use of military force in the Ivory Coast, where a conflict comparable to that in Libya is unfolding. The obvious explanation is that cacao is not considered to have the same strategic importance as oil.
And, while claiming that the intervention in Libya is needed to ensure the triumph of democracy in the Middle East, Washington continues to back the regimes in Bahrain and Yemen as they mow down protesters demanding democratic rights.
There is an element of extreme recklessness in the US-NATO intervention. What will it produce? One likely variant would be Libya’s partition and the resurrection of Cyrenaica, the colonial territory set up by Italy in Benghazi in the 1920s. Any elements coming to power under such a regime would be right-wing puppets of imperialism, comparable to Karzai in Afghanistan or Maliki in Iraq, and would inevitably carry out an even bloodier slaughter of the Libyan people.
| March 20, 2011
Gas Dirtier Than Coal
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrent
The current global Gas Boom, Gas Rush and Gasland perversion is enabled by corporate greed, lobbying and the lie that ?gas is clean?. Methane (CH4) is a major greenhouse gas (GHG) that on a 100 year time scale has a relative global warming potential (GWP) that is 25 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2). However a re-assessment by US scientists that takes atmospheric aerosol responses to CH4 into account has found that on a 20 year time scale CH4 is 105 times worse than CO2 as a GHG. Recent data from the US EPA indicates that the industrial leakage of CH4 in the US is 3.3%. Using this information it can be estimated that gas burning for power can be much dirtier GHG-wise than coal burning.
Dr Drew Shindell and colleagues (NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies) have published a paper in the prestigious scientific journal Science (US) that takes gas-aerosol interactions into account in assessing the GWP effectiveness of various GHGs as summarized in the Abstract of their paper : ?Evaluating multicomponent climate change mitigation strategies requires knowledge of the diverse direct and indirect effects of emissions. Methane, ozone, and aerosols are linked through atmospheric chemistry so that emissions of a single pollutant can affect several species. We calculated atmospheric composition changes, historical radiative forcing, and forcing per unit of emission due to aerosol and tropospheric ozone precursor emissions in a coupled composition-climate model. We found that gas-aerosol interactions substantially alter the relative importance of the various emissions. In particular, methane emissions have a larger impact than that used in current carbon-trading schemes or in the Kyoto Protocol. Thus, assessments of multigas mitigation policies, as well as any separate efforts to mitigate warming from short-lived pollutants, should include gas-aerosol interactions.? .
The key technical quote from Shindell et al. (2009) provides an estimate that the GWP of CH4 relative to CO2 on a 20 year time scale is 79 (without aerosol effects) and 105 (with aerosol effects considered): ?Fig.2. The 100-year GWPs for methane, CO, and NO x (per Tg N) as given in the [IPCC] AR4 and in this study when including no aerosol response, the direct radiative effect of aerosol responses, and the direct+indirect radiative effects of aerosol responses. The AR4 did not report uncertainties for methane or CO and gave no mean estimate for NO x . The range for the GWP of CO is from the third IPCC assessment and encompasses values reported up through the AR4. Our calculations for the shorter 20-year GWP, including aerosol responses, yield values of 79 and 105 for methane, 11 and 19 for CO, and ?335 and ?560 for NO x , including direct and direct+indirect radiative effects of aerosols in each case. The 100-yr GWPs for SO 2 (per Tg SO 2 ) and ammonia would be ?22 and ?19, respectively, including direct aerosol radiative effects only, and ?76 and ?15 adding indirect aerosol radiative effects. GWPs for very short-lived NO x , SO 2 , and ammonia will vary widely by emission location and timing, and hence global values are of limited use.? [2, 3]
The Nature News part of the prestigious scientific journal Nature (UK) has summarized the key findings of Shindell and colleagues as follows: ?Aerosols' complicated influence on our climate just got more threatening: they could make methane a more potent greenhouse gas than previously realized, say climate modellers. Drew Shindell, at NASAGoddard Institute for Space Studies, New York , and colleagues ran a range of computerized models to show that methane's global warming potential is greater when combined with aerosols ? atmospheric particles such as dust, sea salt, sulphates and black carbon. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol assume methane to be, tonne-for-tonne, 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. But the interaction with aerosols bumps up methane's relative global warming potential (GWP) to about 33, though there is a lot of uncertainty around the exact figure.? .
Dr Shindell (NASA Goddard Institute for Spaces Studies, New York ) has given a succinct summary of these findings: ?What happens is that as you put more methane into the atmosphere, it competes for oxidants such as hydroxyl with sulphur dioxide. More methane means less sulphate, which is reflective and thus has a cooling effect. Calculations of GWP [Global Warming Potential;] including these gas-aerosol linkages thus substantially increase the value for methane.? .
This re-assessment upwards of the GWP of CH4 to be 105 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time scale must have a big effect on assessment of total annual GHG pollution and the urgency with which this is addressed.
Thus based on a 20 year time scale CH4 GWP relative to CO2 of 72, World Bank analysts have estimated that global livestock production contributes over 51% of total annual global GHG pollution that they have re-assessed upwards from 41.8 billion tonnes CO2-e (CO2 equivalent) to 63.8 billion tonnes CO2-e. .
Further, based on a CH4 GHG contribution 25 times bigger than that of CO2 (on a 100 year time scale), eminent climate scientist Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber CBE (Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research [PIK], Germany) has estimated that for a 67% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise (the EU target; would you board a plane if it had a 33% chance of crashing?) the World has to cease CO2 emissions by 2050. ?All men are created equal? means that all human beings must be allotted equal shares of CO2 pollution until 2050. This in turn means that high annual per capita GHG pollution countries such as the US and Australia must reach zero CO2 emissions by 2020 while low per capita emitters (e.g. India and Burkina Faso) can increase their emissions until finally reaching zero emissions by 2050. .
Similarly, based on CH4 being 25 times worse than CO2 as a GHG, Dr Vicky Pope (Head of Climate Change Advice, UK Met Office Hadley Centre): ?Latest climate projections from the Met Office Hadley Centre show the possible range of temperature rises, depending on what action is taken to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions. Even with large and early cuts in emissions, the indications are that temperatures are likely to rise to around 2 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. If action is delayed or not quick enough, there is a large risk of much bigger increases in temperature, with some severe impacts. In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5 °C by the end of the century. This would lead to significant risks of severe and irreversible impacts. In the most optimistic scenario, action to reduce emissions would need to start in 2010 and reach a rapid and sustained rate of decline of 3 per cent every year. Even then there would still only be a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below around 2°C. This contrasts sharply with current trends, where the world's overall emissions are currently increasing at 1 per cent every year.? .
On the same CH4 GWP assumptions, Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK) concluded: ?According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [carbon dioxide equivalent = CO2 -e, atmospheric concentration measured in parts per million by volume] requires, at least, global energy related emissions to peak by 2015, rapidly decline at 6-8% per year between 2020 and 2040, and for full decarbonization sometime soon after 2050 ?Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650 ppmv CO2-e ... Ultimately, the latest scientific understanding of climate change allied with current emissions trends and a commitment to ?limiting average global temperature increases to below 4 o C above pre-industrial levels?, demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda, and the economic characterization of contemporary society.? .
In short, the re-assessment that CH4 is 105 times worse than CO2 as a GHG on a 20 year time scale means that (a) the annual GHG must be well over 50% greater than hitherto thought and (b) the time for 100% economic decarbonization must be substantially less than the current expert estimate of about 40 years.
A key aspect of economic decarbonization is obviously an urgent shift to non-polluting renewable energy (wind, wave, tide, concentrated solar thermal and solar photovoltaic) and geothermal energy. However this transition has been falsely obfuscated by fossil fuel corporations and their associates in the Western Lobbyocracies who falsely assert that ?gas is clean energy? or that ?gas is cleaner energy? than coal burning and are hell-bent on a transition from coal burning to gas burning for power. As a result of these false assertions there is currently a major Gas Boom and Gas Rush around the world that is set to become a global Gasland (see the movie ?Gasland?).
Professor Robert Howarth (Cornell University) has considered the consequences of a 1.5% industrial methane leakage and a CH4 global warming potential 72 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time scale and has concluded: ?A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than oil and not significantly better than coal in terms of the consequences for global warming ?Far better would be to rapidly move toward an economy based on renewable fuels. Recent studies indicate the U.S. and the world could rely 100% on such green energy sources within 20 years if we dedicate ourselves to that course. ? .
I have done simple calculations showing that a 3.7% leakage of CH4 and a CH4 GWP 72 times that of CO2 yields that same greenhouse gas effect as burning the 96.3% remaining CH4 i.e. a roughly doubled GHG emissions from gas burning  . However assessment of recent US EPA data indicates a methane leakage rate in the US of 3.3% [13, 14] and, as outlined above, the global warming potential of CH4 on a 20 year time scale is 105 relative to CO2 if the impact on global-dimming aerosols is included.
I have accordingly performed a re-calculation of the gas burning greenhouse gas effect based on these updated assessments as outlined below .
Methane (CH4) has a molecular weight of 16 and carbon dioxide (CO2) has a molecular weight of 44.
When you burn CH4 you get CO2: CH4 + 2O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O.
Accordingly burning 16 tonnes of CH4 yields 44 tonnes of CO2 and burning 100 tonnes of CH4 yields 100x 44/16 = 275 tonnes of CO2.
However if there is industrial leakage of CH4 then one must consider the greenhouse gas effect of the released methane (105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas on a 20 year time scale).
Of our 100 tonnes of CH4, how much CH4 leakage (y tonnes) gives the same greenhouse effect (in CO2 equivalents or CO2-e) as burning the remaining CH4?
y tonnes CH4 x (105 tonnes CO2-e/tonne CH4) = (100-y) tonnes CH4 x (2.75 tonnes CO2-e/ tonne CH4).
105y tonnes CO2-e = (100-y) 2.75 tonnes CO2-e
105y = 275 ? 2.75y
107.75y = 275
y = 275/107.75 = 2.55 i.e. a 2.6% leakage of CH4 yields that same greenhouse effect as burning the remaining 97.4% of the CH4 .
This result has been checked thus: 2.55 tonnes leaked CH4 corresponds to 2.55 tonnes CH4 x 105 tonnes CO2-e/ tonne CH4 = 268 tonnes CO2-e . Burning the remaining 97.4 tonnes of CH4 corresponds to 97.4 tonnes CH4 x 2.75 tonnes CO2/tonne CH4 = 268 tonnes CO2.
What does this mean when we compare the greenhouse gas dirtiness of gas-burning or coal-burning for power? This question can be addressed by using data for gas-fired and coal-fired power stations in the major state of Victoria , Australia .
In Victoria, Australia, gas-fired power stations (0.60 ? 0.90 tonnes CO2-e/MWh) are roughly twice as efficient in producing energy as brown coal-burning power stations (1.21-1.53 tonnes CO2-e/MWh) according to a report by Green Energy Markets commissioned by Environment Victoria (EV). This report offers 2 scenarios for replacement of the dirtiest coal-burning plant, brown coal-fired Hazelwood Power Station, with 62% gas (Scenario 1) and 33% (Scenario 2) in relation to total annual energy production (measured in MWh) and 96% gas (Scenario 1) and 75% gas (Scenario 2) in relation to peak summer power (measured in MW). .
If we assume that burning gas with no leakage gives an average of 0.75 tonnes CO2-e /MWh, what is the efficiency when methane leakage is factored in?
(A).At a leakage of 2.6% of industrial methane, the greenhouse gas (GHG) from leakage is the same as the GHG effect from burning methane to give CO2 i.e. the GHG/MWh ratio roughly doubles to 1.5 tonnes CO2-e/MWh, equivalent to that of one of the world's dirtiest coal burning-based power plants, Hazelwood in Victoria, Australia (1.53 tonnes CO2-e/MWh).
If we consider the dirtiest Victorian gas-fired power plants (0.9 tonnes CO2-e/MWh) the GHG/MWh ratio increases by a factor of 2.0/0.974 = 2.05 to 1.80 tonnes CO2-e/MWh, 20% dirtier than Hazelwood. (1.53 tonnes CO2/MWh). If we consider the cleanest Victorian gas-fired power plant (0.60 tonnes CO2-e/MWh), the GHG/MWh ratio increases to 2.05 x 0.6 = 1.23 tonnes CO2-3/MWh, 80% as dirty as Hazelwood. If we consider the average gas-fired plant (0.75 tonnes CO2-e/MWh) the GHG/MWH increases to 2.05 x 0.75 = 1.54 tonnes CO2-e/MWh, slightly more than for Hazelwood.
(B) At the current gas leakage rate in the US (3.3%) an overall consumption of 100 tonnes CH4 results in 3.3 tonnes leaked CH4 x 105 tonnes CO2-e/ tonne CH4 = 346.5 tonnes CO2-e (from gas leakage) plus 96.7 tonnes CH4 x 2.75 tonnes CO2-e/tonne CH4 burned = 265.9 tonnes CO2-e (from burning the remaining methane) = 612.4 tonnes CO2-e/100 tonnes CH4 i.e. the GHG/MWh ratio roughly increases by a factor of 612.4/(275.0 x 0.967) = 2.30.
The GHG/MWh in units of CO2-e/MWh for Victorian gas-fired power stations accordingly increases on this 3.3% leakage scenario to (a) 2.30 x 0.6 = 1.38 tonnes CO2-e/MWh (cleanest gas-fired power station; 90.2% of Hazelwood's); (b) 2.30 x 0.75 = 1.73 tonnes CO2-e/MWh (average gas-fired power station; 113.1% of Hazelwood's) and (c) 2.30 x 0.90 = 2.07 tonnes CO2-e/MWh (the dirtiest gas-fired power station; 135.3% of Hazelwood's i.e. 35% dirtier than the coal-fired Hazelwood power plant, the dirtiest in Victoria).
Accordingly, these latest estimates of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane relative to CO2 on a 20 year scale (105) and of methane leakage (3.3%) indicate that gas burning for power can be much dirtier greenhouse gas-wise (GHG-wise) than coal burning. On these estimates a stationary energy sector transition from coal burning to gas burning to reduce GHG pollution is strongly contra-indicated. Gas burning for power can be much dirtier greenhouse gas-wise (GHG-wise) than coal burning.
Notwithstanding the science, the fossil fuel industry and allied lobbyists, commentators and politicians in the Western Lobbyocracies and Murdochracies continue to promulgate the falsehoods that ?gas is clean energy? or that ?gas is cleaner energy than coal?, most notoriously so in climate criminal Australia, a world leader in per capita greenhouse gas pollution, coal exports and liquid natural gas (LNG) exports. .
Decent people around the world must (a) inform everyone they can that gas is dirty energy, that gas burning for power can be much dirtier greenhouse gas-wise (GHG-wise) than coal burning and (b) resolutely, through voting, sanctions and boycotts, eschew any avoidable dealings with countries, corporations, people and politicians involved in the worsening, terracidal Gas Boom, Gas Rush and Gasland perversion. Please tell everyone you can ? a coal to gas transition will cripple timely implementation of 100% renewable energy, stop realization of zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and prevent the return of atmospheric CO2 concentration from the current dangerous and damaging 392 ppm to the 300 ppm required for a safe planet for all peoples and all species. .
. Drew T. Shindell , Greg Faluvegi, Dorothy M. Koch , Gavin A. Schmidt , Nadine Unger and Susanne E. Bauer , ?Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions?, Science 30 October 2009:
Vol. 326 no. 5953 pp. 716-718: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5953/716 . . Shindell et al (2009), Fig.2: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5953/716.figures-only . . IPCC AR4, ?Synthesis report summary for policy makers?, 2007: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/spm.html
. . Katharine Sanderson, ?? Aerosols make methane more potent?, Nature News, 29 October 2009: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091029/full/news.2009.1049.html#B1 .
. Dr Drew Shindell, quoted in Mark Henderson, ?Methane's impact on global warming far higher than previously thought?, The Times, 30 October 2009: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/earth-environment/article6895907.ece .
. Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang, ?Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are ? cows, pigs and chickens??, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf .
. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, ?Terra quasi-incognita: beyond the 2 degree C line?, < 4 Degrees & Beyond, International Climate Conference, 26-30 September 2009, Oxford University , UK : http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/4degrees/ppt/1-1schellnhuber.pdf .
. Dr Vicky Pope, ?Met Office warn of ?catastrophic? rise in temperature?, The Sunday Times, 19 December 2008: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5371682.ece .
. Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows, ?Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends?, Proc. Trans. Roy. Soc, A, 2008: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1882/3863.full .
. Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, ?A path to sustainable energy by 2030?, Scientific American, November 2009, pp 58 ? 65: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030 .
. Robert Howarth, ?Preliminary assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing?, Cornell University , 1 April 2010: http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/energy/files/39646/
. Gideon Polya, ? Gulf oil & gas disaster, lobbyists, Obama & huge threat of natural gas (methane) to Humanity & Biosphere?, Bellaciao, 19 June 2010: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article19926 .
. David Lewis, "EPA confirms natural gas leakage rates", The Energy Collective, 7 December 2010: http://theenergycollective.com/index.php?q=david-lewis/48209/epa-confirms-high-natural-gas-leakage-rates .
. Gideon Polya, ? Resource to stop gas-fired power plants, fossil fuel burning, GHG pollution & man-made climate change?, Bellaciao, 27 February 2011: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article20592 .
. Green Energy Markets, ?Fast-tracking Victoria's clean energy future to replace Hazelwood?, 2010: http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/sites/default/files/Fast-tracking%20Victoria%27s%20clean%20energy%20future
. Gideon Polya, ? Gas is dirty energy & may be dirtier than coal - Oz Labor's "gas is clean energy" means Put Labor Last?, Bellaciao, 10 June 2010: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article19894 .
. 300.org, ?300.org ? return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm?: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---
Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History? (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot..com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/ bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
| March 20, 2011
Japan's Horror Reveals How Thin Is The Edge We Live On
by Bill McKibben , The Guardian, Countercurrent
Climate change may not be responsible for the tsunami, but it is shrinking our margin of safety. It is time to shrink back ourselves
It's scary to watch the video from Japan, and not just because of the frightening explosions at the Fukushima plant or the unstoppable surge of tsunami-wash through the streets. It's almost as unnerving to see the aftermath – the square miles of rubble, with boats piled on cars; the completely bare supermarket shelves. Because the one thing we've never really imagined is going to the supermarket and finding it empty.
What the events reveal is the thinness of the margin on which modernity lives. There's not a country in the world more modern and civilised than Japan; its building codes and engineering prowess kept its great buildings from collapsing when the much milder quake in Haiti last year flattened everything. But clearly it's not enough. That thin edge on which we live, and which at most moments we barely notice, provided nowhere near enough buffer against the power of the natural world.
We're steadily narrowing the margin. Global warming didn't cause the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Miyagi coast, but global warming daily is shrinking the leeway on which civilisation everywhere depends. Consider: sea levels have begun to rise. We're seeing record temperatures that depress harvests – the amount of grain per capita on the planet has been falling for years. Because warm air holds more water vapour than cold, the chance of severe flooding keeps going up and in the last year countries from Pakistan to Australia have recently ended up on the wrong side of those odds.
Those changes steadily eat away at that safety margin. With less food stored in our warehouses, each harvest becomes critical. With each massive flood, we have to spend more money rebuilding what was there before: there are still as many as 4 million homeless from Pakistan's floods, which means "development" has given way to "getting a tarp over your head". Even rich countries face this trouble: Australia cut much of its budget for renewable energy to help pay the recovery bill for soggy Queensland. Warmer temperatures are helping dengue fever spread; treating one case can use up the annual health budget for a dozen people in some Asian nation, meaning that much less for immunisations or nutrition. Just the increasing cost of insurance can be a big drag on economies: a study by Harvard and Swiss Re found that even in rich nations such as the US, larger and more frequent storms could "overwhelm adaptive capacities", rendering "large areas and sectors uninsurable". The bottom line was that, "in effect, parts of developed countries would experience developing nation conditions for prolonged periods".
There have always been natural disasters, and there always will be. For 10,000 years the planet has been by and large benign; you could tell where the safe margin for civilisation was because that's, by definition, where civilisation was built. But if the sea level rises a metre, that margin shrinks considerably: on a beach that slopes in at 1 degree, the sea is now nearly 90 metres nearer. And it's not just a literal shrinkage – the insecurity that comes with smaller food stocks or more frequent floods also takes a psychological toll: the world seems more cramped because it is more cramped.
We can try to deal with this in two ways. One is to attempt to widen it with more technology. If the Earth's temperature is rising, maybe we could "geoengineer" the planet, tossing sulphur into the atmosphere in an effort to block incoming sunlight. It's theoretically possible. But researchers warn it could do more harm than good, and maybe this isn't the week to trust the grandest promises of engineers, not when they've all but lost control of the highest technology we've ever built, there on the bluff at Fukushima. The other possibility is to try to build down a little: to focus on resilience, on safety. And to do that – here's the controversial part – instead of focusing on growth. We might decide that the human enterprise (at least in the west) has got big enough, that our appetites need not to grow, but to shrink a little, in order to provide us more margin. What would that mean? Buses and bikes and trains, not SUVs. Local food, with more people on the farm so that muscles replace some of the oil. Having learned that banks are "too big to fail", we might guess that our food and energy systems fall into that same category.
Imagine, for instance, a nation that got most of its power from rooftop solar panels knitted together in a vast distributed grid. It would take investment to get there – we'd have to divert money from other tasks, slowing some kinds of growth, because solar power is currently more expensive than coal power. We might not have constant access to unlimited power at every second of every day. In the end, though, you'd have not only less carbon in the atmosphere, but also a country far less failure-prone. The solar panels on my roof could break tonight – and I'd have a problem if they did – but it wouldn't ramify into rolling blackouts across the continent (and no one would need to stand in my driveway with a Geiger counter). Such changes wouldn't make the world safe: climatologists promise us we've already put enough carbon out there to raise our planet's temperature two degrees in the decades to come, which will make for a miserably difficult century. But they also promise that if we don't stop burning coal and oil, that number will double, and miserable will become impossible.
With Japan's horror still unfolding, there's nothing to do for the moment except watch, pray, and try to find some small ways to help people caught up in forces beyond their control. But the lesson we should learn, perhaps, is that it's time to back off a little. Suddenly squat and plain words – "durable", "stable", "robust" – sound sweeter to the ear.
Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of 350.org, and a TomDispatch regular. His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited
| March 21, 2011
US, France And Britain Launch War Of Aggression Against Libya
by Patrick Martin , WSWS.org, Countercurrent
The United States, France and Britain began air strikes and missile attacks on Libyan targets Saturday, initiating a war of aggression that threatens to destabilize North Africa and the entire Middle East. The first two days of bombing have already claimed many lives among the Libyan population that the imperialist powers falsely claim to be protecting.
The war is the first step in a campaign by Washington and its partners in crime to strike back against the popular movements that have overthrown US stooge regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening US-backed monarchies and dictatorships in Bahrain, Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Press accounts from Benghazi, the headquarters of the rebel forces in eastern Libya, suggest that hundreds have already been killed in the air and missile strikes. There were reports of seven to ten smoldering hulks of tanks on a road outside the city. Libyan army troops are virtually defenseless against attacks with high-tech weaponry, including cruise missiles and smart bombs.
French warplanes reportedly struck the first blow, with 20 Mirage and Rafale jets hitting Libyan army forces outside Benghazi. The Royal Air Force deployed Tornado GR4 fast jets, which flew 3,000 miles from Britain to Libya and back, the longest-range British air strike since the Falklands War in 1982.
The US attacks included cruise missiles fired by two guided-missile destroyers and three submarines, as well as bombs dropped by B2 stealth fighter bombers which flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to strike Libyan airfields in a 36-hour round trip.
On Sunday, it was reported that US Air Force F-15s and F-16s were attacking Libyan troop concentrations in coastal cities that have been the focus of recent fighting with rebel forces, including Ras Lanuf, Adjibiya and Brega, as well as around Misurata, Libya’s third-largest city.
Forces from Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway were also said to be in action.
The claims by President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and other US spokesmen that the military intervention will be limited to “days, rather than weeks” have no credibility. The scope of the attacks on Libya has widened enormously in the first 48 hours of military action.
There is a logic to military action, and the initial bombardment leads inexorably to the dispatch of “advisers” for the Libyan rebel forces, and then the deployment of imperialist troops to occupy the former Italian colony.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the top military adviser to Obama, appeared on all five television network interview programs Sunday morning to give the Pentagon’s evaluation of the initial bombardment.
On Fox News Sunday, he confirmed that the air and missile strikes had gone well beyond those required for enforcement of a no-fly zone on the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. “We hit a lot of targets,” he said, “focused on his command and control, focused on his air defense, and actually attacked some of his forces on the ground in the vicinity of Benghazi.”
On several of the programs, Mullen was asked about the double standard of the Obama administration, which claims to be attacking Libya in order to prevent Gaddafi from “slaughtering his own citizens,” while supporting other Middle East regimes that are equally engaged in bloody repression, most notably Bahrain and Yemen.
“Each one of these countries, I think, is different,” Mullen said on NBC, emphasizing the strategic interests of imperialism, not the humanitarian baloney used to dupe American public opinion. “We’ve had a great friendship with Bahrain for many, many decades. We’ve got one of our main naval bases there.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Mullen dredged up one of the oldest and most discredited of propaganda ploys, claiming that any deaths caused by US and allied attacks were the fault of the Libyan leader. He said, “What Gaddafi has done is—has put in place both human shields in some cases, as well as…said that we have generated civilian casualties.”
US government spokesmen have advanced such claims after every atrocity perpetrated by American bombs and missiles in the past quarter century. The only thing new is that the top US military officer is announcing ahead of time that when hundreds die from US military action, the blame should be placed on the victims.
Mullen also suggested that US air strikes would be aimed not merely at overtly military targets but at Gaddafi’s supply lines and logistic capabilities. This means that all of Libya’s economic resources—with the exception of the oil industry, which the imperialist powers hope to seize intact—are likely targets for bombs and missiles.
Mullen denied that the attack was aimed at the assassination of Gaddafi and his family. But within a few hours of his television interviews, journalists in Tripoli reported huge explosions near Gaddafi’s family compound in the Libyan capital city. Antiaircraft batteries opened up throughout the city, responding to a new and more widespread aerial attack.
While the Obama administration has been at pains to declare the assault on Libya the common venture of a “broad coalition,” seeking to distinguish it from the Bush administration’s unilateral decision to go to war in Iraq, there is no question that American imperialism is playing the leading and decisive role.
An American commander, General Carter Ham, head of the Pentagon’s African Command (AFRICOM), is in charge of all allied operations against Libya, giving directives to French and British warplanes, British submarines, and Italian naval vessels, as well as an array of US warships, submarines and bombers.
And despite the claims by Obama of “no boots on the ground,” there is little doubt that American, British and other special forces operatives and intelligence agents are already in action inside Libya, helping direct fire at critical targets, particularly the Libyan political leadership and the field commanders of the Libyan army.
Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi vowed resistance, making an appearance on national television Sunday morning and calling the US-European attack “simply a colonial crusader aggression that may ignite another large-scale crusader war.” Libyan state television reported that a hospital in Tripoli had been hit in the bombardment, with 48 dead and over a hundred wounded.
Gaddafi meanwhile continued to plead with the imperialist powers to resume the alliance he forged with them in 2004, when he shut down his nuclear research program, turned over his nuclear assets to the United States, and agreed to pay compensation to the victims of the 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
He reiterated his declaration that the Libyan rebels consist exclusively of Al Qaeda supporters, sending a letter to Obama that addressed the US president as his “son” and offered his collaboration in the US struggle against terrorism.
At the same time, Libyan Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem announced that the country’s oil resources were still open to Western exploitation and urged the big oil companies to send their technicians and administrative personnel back to the country. He said that despite the open warfare, Libya would honor all its obligations to foreign companies, including its most recent $900 million contract with BP.
The ferocity of the initial air attacks on Libya has produced widespread shock and anger throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Officials of the Arab League, who last week acceded to French, British and American pressure and issued a call for a no-fly zone in Libya, said Sunday they were reconsidering their support.
Five Arab countries—Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates—sent representatives to the meeting Saturday in Paris that ratified the use of military force. Only Qatar agreed to participate directly.
The African Union, which groups 53 countries on the continent, including Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, issued a public condemnation of the war at a meeting of its panel on Libya in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. Three members of the African Union—South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon—voted for the UN Security Council resolution Thursday that gave the green light for the attack.
There are serious divisions within the imperialist camp as well—demonstrated by the abstention of Germany in the UN Security Council vote, along with Russia, China, Brazil and India.
Despite their common military engagement, there are significant tensions between the United States, France and Britain, each of which seeks to insure a major role in a post-Gaddafi Libya and in North Africa as a whole.
The Obama administration only finally made up its mind to push for military action at a late-night meeting Tuesday, March 15, according to several media reports. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “A lot of factors drove the shift, they say, including the administration’s concern about being out of step with the changes sweeping the Arab world and of being outmaneuvered by the U.K. and especially France…”
What lies behind the war against Libya is not the common front of “civilization” against “barbarism,” as Obama administration spokesmen claim, but the struggle of rival imperialist powers to dominate one of the world’s major sources of oil and gain control of a key strategic location and base of operations against the mass movements erupting throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
| March 21, 2011
Libyan War, Libyan Holocaust Start On Iraq Invasion 8th Anniversary
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrent
20 March 2011 marked the 8th anniversary of the illegal, war criminal invasion of Iraq by the US , UK and Australia . In post-invasion Iraq , violent deaths (1.4 million) and non-violent avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation (1.2 million) have totalled 2.6 million (so far). Yet the West ignores the carnage of the ongoing Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide and marked this dreadful anniversary by commencing a devastating high technology war on another Arab nation, Libya . A legitimate fear from the US-backed Palestinian Genocide, the Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide and the Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide is that this latest US war, the Libyan War, will likewise evolve to holocaust and genocide dimensions and to a Libyan Holocaust and Libyan Genocide.
As of 20 March 2011, the 8th anniversary of the illegal US, UK and Australian invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003, the human cost the Iraq War since 2003 involves 2.6 million violent and non-violent avoidable deaths of Indigenous Iraqis (4.5 million since 1990; see: http://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/9-january-2010 ). In comparison, post-2003 US Alliance deaths in the Iraq War total 4,758 (see: http://icasualties.org/oif/ ).
According to the 2006 Revision UN Population Division data, medical literature data, and other authoritative sources, the Iraqi Holocaust has been associated with 1.2 million post-invasion non-violent avoidable deaths; 1.4 million violent post-invasion deaths; and 0.8 million post-invasion under-5 infant deaths (90% avoidable and due to gross US Coalition violation of the Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War which demands that an Occupier supplies food and medical requisites to ?the fullest extent of the means available to it.? In addition, avoidable deaths under Sanctions (1990-2003) totalled 1.7 million, violent deaths in the Gulf War totalled 0.2 million and under-5 infant deaths under Sanctions totalled 1.2 million. Iraqi refugees (both inside and outside Iraq ) totalled 5-6 million.
The ongoing Iraqi Holocaust (1990-2011) involves 1.6 million violent deaths, 2.9 million non-violent excess deaths, 4.5 million violent and non-violent excess deaths, 2.0 million under-5 infant deaths, 1.8 million avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths and 5-6 million refugees ? an Iraqi Holocasut and an Iraqi Genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention definition of ?acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group? (see: http://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/9-january-2010 ). The Iraqi Genocide - still continuing under Nobel Peace Laureate and warmonger Obama - is of a similar magnitude to the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million killed, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) (see: Gilbert, M. (1969), ?Jewish History Atlas? (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London) and Gilbert, M. (1982), ?Atlas of the Holocaust? (Michael Joseph, London)).
The US Coalition invasion of Iraq was illegal and a war crime. Thus UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg told the House of Commons in 2010 that the invasion of Iraq was illegal: ?I am happy to account for everything that we are doing in this coalition government, a coalition government which has brought together two parties working in the national interest to sort out the mess that he left behind. Maybe one day, and perhaps we'll have to wait for his (Jack Straw's) memoirs, he could account for his role in the most disastrous decision of all, which is the illegal invasion of Iraq .? (see ?Clegg says invasion of Iraq was ?illegal??, Reuters, 21 JHlu 2010: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/07/21/uk-britain-clegg-iraq-idUKTRE66K4PT20100721 .?
And in Australia , the former President of the ultra-conservative Liberal Party. John Valder, slammed his party colleague Liberal PM John Howard as a war criminal over the Iraq Invasion: ?Bush, Blair, and Howard, as leaders of the three members of the coalition of the willing, inflicted enormous suffering on the people of Iraq . And, as such, they are criminals. I believe the only deterrent to a repetition of the Iraq situation is punishment in some form as war criminals? (see ?Howard is a war criminal says former colleague?, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2004: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/18/1090089035899.html ).
The war criminality of the Iraq invasion and occupation extends beyond the initial criminal invasion and the estimated 1.4 million Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion ( Just Foreign Policy: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/156 ). Thus Iraqi avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation (1.7 million, 1990-2003, 1.2 million, 2003-2011) also constitute evidence of a huge US Coalition war crime through imposition of sustained, deadly deprivation on a civilian population. It is worth repeating that of the 5-6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in WW2 about 1 in 6 died from deprivation.
Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War make clear the responsibility of an Occupier to provide life-sustaining food and medicine to its Conquered Subjects ?to the fullest extent of the means available to it?. These Articles are set out below.
Article 55. To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.
The Occupying Power may not requisition foodstuffs, articles or medical supplies available in the occupied territory, except for use by the occupation forces and administration personnel, and then only if the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account. Subject to the provisions of other international Conventions, the Occupying Power shall make arrangements to ensure that fair value is paid for any requisitioned goods.
The Protecting Power shall, at any time, be at liberty to verify the state of the food and medical supplies in occupied territories, except where temporary restrictions are made necessary by imperative military requirements.
Article 56. To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.
If new hospitals are set up in occupied territory and if the competent organs of the occupied State are not operating there, the occupying authorities shall, if necessary, grant them the recognition provided for in Article 18. In similar circumstances, the occupying authorities shall also grant recognition to hospital personnel and transport vehicles under the provisions of Articles 20 and 21.
In adopting measures of health and hygiene and in their implementation, the Occupying Power shall take into consideration the moral and ethical susceptibilities of the population of the occupied territory.
Yet the US Alliance has grossly violated these Geneva Convention demands in both Occupied Iraq (1990-2011 non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation total 4.5 million) and in Occupied Afghanistan (2001-2011 non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation total 4.5 million). WHO (see: http://www.who.int/countries/en/ ) informs that the annual per capita total medical expenditure in Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan is US$124 and US$29, respectively, as compared to US$6,714 for the Occupier the United States. Yet under-5 year old infant deaths total 2.0 million in Iraq (1990-2011) and 2.6 million in Afghanistan (2001-2011).
The victims of cowardly Western high technology wars are mostly women and children dying from war-imposed deprivation. Thus in post-1950 US Asian wars violent deaths and non-violent deaths from war-imposed deprivation total about 23 million, the breakdown being 1 million Korea, 13 million (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) , 4.5 million (Iraq) and 4.9 million (Afghanistan).
Now the West has marked the 8th anniversary of the war criminal invasion of Iraq by commencing to bomb Libya back to the Stone Age. The ostensible reason is to ?protect civilians? and to support the legitimate desire of many Libyans for democracy but the horrible reality is that Libyan civilians need protection from the genocidal French-UK-US (FUKUS) Coalition. The examples of Iraq and Afghanistan give an indication of the horrendous avoidable mortality that may come in a FUKUS-devastated bombed Libya and the sham of Western-imposed democracy.
Thus ?American-installed democracy? in Afghanistan has meant a US Puppet Afghan President who was the only candidate in the recent presidential elections held under Occupier guns and the dominant but banned Taliban could field no candidates. In Occupied Iraq, as in Occupied Afghanistan, ?American-installed democracy? has meant elections held after a major party the US did not like (the Ba'ath Party) was banned and its members were variously imprisoned, tortured and killed on a huge scale.
Thus annual under-5 infant deaths currently total 3,000 in Libya (population 6.4 million) but are expected to soar if the France-UK-US (FUKUS) Coalition, already bombing urban areas and killing Libyans, succeeds in doing to Libya what the genocidal, Zionist-backed US Alliance has achieved in Occupied Iraq (41,000 under-5 deaths yearly, population 30.7 million) or in Occupied Afghanistan (237,000 under-5 infant deaths yearly, population 28.2 million) (latest UNICEF data: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/index.html ).
Libya's very low current pre-invasion infant mortality (2010) is about 16.9 deaths per 1000 live births (cf 5.7 in the US) as compared to 185 (1950, under British occupation) and 115 (in 1969 when Gaddafi took over from the UK-backed dictator King Idris). However, food, shelter, medicine and medical services cost money and with the oil-based Libyan economy already largely stopped by the already civilian-targetting, war criminal FUKUS Coalition, the Libyan infant mortality is expected to eventually soar to that in Occupied Iraq (32 deaths per 1,000 live births) or Occupied Afghanistan (152) (latest UN Population Division data: http://esa.un.org/unpp/index.asp?panel=1 ; the Iraq and Afghanistan data are probably under-estimates from the respective Puppet Quisling regimes).
The devastation of Iraq by the US Coalition under Sanctions and US, UK and Israeli no-fly zone bombing (1.7 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from deprivation, 1990-2003) and under Occupation (1.2 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from deprivation, 2003-2011) was enabled by Mainstream media non-reportage and warmongering in the Western Murdochracies. Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. On this 8th anniversary of the illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq , decent people must (a) tell everyone they can about the horrendous human cost, and (b) insist that the war criminals be held accountable through sanctions, boycotts and criminal prosecutions.
All decent folk will have great sympathy for the desire of the Libyan people and indeed of all people and all Arab people for human rights and genuine democracy but they must oppose the cowardly, turkey-shoot destruction of Libya by the genocidal, war criminal US Alliance. One hopes that the Libyans themselves will find a solution through dialogue before too much damage has been done in terms of Libyan lives, infrastructure and the economy on which life depends.
Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History? (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/ bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and
| March 17, 2011
U.N. Authorizes No-Fly Zone Over Libya
by Adele M. Stan , AlterNet,
The United Nations Security Council Thursday evening authorized a resolution supporting a no-fly zone over Libya. The move comes as Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi threatened to destroy the eastern city of Bengazi -- which has a 2,500-year history -- and to show "no mercy" to the people of the city.
In a strongly worded statement by Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said "The United States stands with the Libyan people in support of their universal human rights."
There were no votes against the resolution, but China, Russia, India, Brazil and Germany abstained. The Indian ambassador said the council had taken its vote "with very little credible information" about the situation on the ground in Libya. The Brazilian ambassador stated her nation's concern that the resolution, she felt, went "far beyond" the call by the Arab League for a no-fly zone, and expressed concern that the resolution could "exacerbate tensions" on the ground.
Any way you look at it, it appears that the world is now at war against Gadhafi.
The Peak Oil Crisis: Inflection Point
by Tom Whipple , Falls Church News-Press, Countercurrent
It has taken two months for the contagion that began with the immolation of a fruit seller in Tunisia to reach the first significant oil producing nation.
As oil production in Libya grinds to a halt and Muammar Gadhafi clings to power amidst increasing turmoil, it is beginning to look as if it may be sometime before Tripoli resumes its normal oil exports. While the 1.6 million barrels a day (b/d) that the Libyans pumped in January may not appear significant in a world that produces some 88 million barrels each day, we should remember that those barrels are being consumed somewhere in a world where they are consumed just as fast as they are produced. If there is anything that we have learned in the last 40 years, it is that relatively small disruptions in oil production can lead to relatively large increases in oil prices.
OPEC, the International Energy Agency, and the Saudi oil minister are already rushing to reassure us that we have nothing to fear. The OECD has reserve stockpiles totaling 1.6 billion barrels of oil and OPEC is forever reminding us about the six million b/d of spare oil production capacity that they claim can be turned on as soon as it becomes necessary. This of course would be nice if the upheaval in Libya was going to be the only problem, but it isn't. There are at least half a dozen major Middle East oil exporters with large numbers of digitally-connected underemployed youths and are run by heredity or less-than-democratic corrupt governments. In recent days we have seen flavors of the "Tunisian contagion" erupt in Algeria, Kuwait, Iran, and Iraq which are indeed very significant oil exporters. The upheaval in Bahrain, not a major exporter, has even had a, so far minor, reflection in the Shiite portions of Saudi Arabia with its 8 and maybe 10 or 12 million b/d of oil production. This week the King of Saudi Arabia announced $35 billion worth of government aid to the poorest of his subjects suggesting that someone in Riyadh is getting nervous.
The conditions that created the current upheavals can only worsen. Rising oil prices are bound to stifle tourism and foreign investment in the Middle East and a looming global food shortage seems likely to make life even tougher for the growing ranks of un- or underemployed poor. Governments that have massive oil revenues can afford to buy, or try to buy, the acquiescence of their peoples, but adequate food supplies could turn out to be a different matter. As we saw with Russia last summer, massive crop failures can easily shut down food exports as governments become more concerned about domestic food riots than the wellbeing of other countries. The bottom line is that it seems likely we shall be seeing disruptions, perhaps serious ones, in other oil producing states in the not too distant future.
Those closely watching the balance between worldwide oil supply and demand are well aware that getting the global economy through the next 18 months without a major oil price spike depends largely on two factors. First is a significant drop in the rate of increase in China's demand for oil which has been growing unusually quickly in the last six months. Second is the existence of OPEC's spare production capacity which will have to come into play to prevent shortages from developing. While the IEA currently puts this spare capacity at 4.7 million b/d, and the Saudis alone insist they can pump another four million b/d, other observers say this figure is likely to be too optimistic. No country, not even the Saudis, can or would want to pump up and sell its last possible barrel for long. Some well-informed observers believe that the Saudi's effective spare capacity may be more on the order to two million b/d provided they decide to produce it.
Add the loss of all or a major portion of Libyan oil production for an unknown period and the likely more-than-forecasted increase in Chinese demand, to the possibility that the Saudis will never produce much more than 10 million b/d, and the world is in for some real problems. To avoid shortages, the price of oil will be moving significantly higher. This week we have already seen oil trade in London at $108 a barrel and analysts are already talking about oil moving beyond the $147 all-time nominal peak set three years ago - a notion that was widely rejected four weeks ago. Should oil get back in the vicinity of $150 or beyond later this year, recent history tells us that a violent reaction is likely to set in. Given the fragility of the US and other OECD economies, the demand for oil is likely to drop sharply and with it will fall much economic activity fostered by people moving around in cars and planes or spending discretionary money.
The question of the day, however, is whether or not the current political upheavals will come to be recognized as a major turning point in the history of the oil age. There is no question that the loss of Libyan production, if prolonged, will accelerate the day when global oil production begins its final decline towards the end of the oil age.
However, the optimistic case holds that any outage of Libyan production will be of short duration and the upheavals will not spread to other oil exporting countries. If this should be true much higher oil prices could be delayed for a year or two. The pessimistic case says that the Libyan outage will continue for a while; will not be replaced by a rapid increase in Saudi exports; additional shortages will develop if other oil exporters have significant domestic problems: and the current price increases continue steadily until the global economy falters. If this should occur the Tunisian contagion really was an inflection point in world history.
| February 28 , 2011
NY Times Report: Fracked Water Thousands of Times More Dangerous Than They're Telling Us
by Steven D., AlterNet, Booman Tribune
Good old hydrofracking. You know about it right? It's the method to produce natural gas by fracturing rock formations with millions of gallons of water and toxic chemicals. It's been contaminating groundwater in the Western US for many years and now it is being pursued with a vengeance in the East, particularity with respect to the Marcellus Shale formation that extends across Pennsylvania and New York.
Everyone in the know has warned us for years that hydrofracking was highly dangerous to sources of groundwater used for human consumption. But only now are we being told how much worse is that contamination of our water supplies. So bad it will make you ill after you read this investigative report from the NY Times:
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
In short, if your source of drinking water is a water plant that receives treated waste water from hydrofracking operations, your health and the health of your children and your neighbors and everyone else you know is at serious risk, a risk far greater than previously acknowledged by the oil and gas industry and federal regulators.
The Industry has known of these problems for many years, as has the EPA, as the documents shown to the NY Times reporters demonstrate. Yet neither the Industry nor the EPA has acted on those reports. Instead, both have turned a blind eye to the fact that waste water from hydrofracking is hazardous to your health. Indeed, since 2006, beginning with the Bush administration, the EPA told hydrofracking operators in Pennsaylvania that they did not need to test the the waste water that was released for radioactivity.
Astonishing, but true. Your government, politicians and the Oil and Gas Industry collaborated in a conspiracy of silence regarding the safety of using hydrofracking techniques to produce natural gas. As one alarmed expert stated:
“We’re burning the furniture to heat the house,” said John H. Quigley, who left last month as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “In shifting away from coal and toward natural gas, we’re trying for cleaner air, but we’re producing massive amounts of toxic wastewater with salts and naturally occurring radioactive materials, and it’s not clear we have a plan for properly handling this waste.”
The risks are particularly severe in Pennsylvania, which has seen a sharp increase in drilling, with roughly 71,000 active gas wells, up from about 36,000 in 2000. The level of radioactivity in the wastewater has sometimes been hundreds or even thousands of times the maximum allowed by the federal standard for drinking water.
And as the Times report notes, waste water treatment plants that receive this tainted water are not capable of removing such high levels of toxic radioactive elements. Waste treatment plant operators openly admit that they cannot remove enough of these radioactive elements to meet the federal standards before the treated water is dumped into reservoirs, rivers and streams which provide the primary sources of drinking water for millions of people across the country. Water that men, women, children and even infants are drinking as we speak. In Pennsylvania alone:
¶More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than has been previously disclosed. Most of this water — enough to cover Manhattan in three inches — was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste.
¶At least 12 sewage treatment plants in three states accepted gas industry wastewater and discharged waste that was only partly treated into rivers, lakes and streams.
¶Of more than 179 wells producing wastewater with high levels of radiation, at least 116 reported levels of radium or other radioactive materials 100 times as high as the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. At least 15 wells produced wastewater carrying more than 1,000 times the amount of radioactive elements considered acceptable.
At least 32 states permit the use of hydrofracking to extract natural gas. The toxicity of groundwater found in those states is alarming.
Fracking, as the practice is commonly called, is a means of extracting natural gas by pressure-drilling a mix of water, sand and chemicals more than a mile vertically and horizontally into the earth. The sand and chemicals break up the dense rock to release methane, the compound comprising natural gas, which is pumped back up along with the fracking liquid, now infused not only with the chemical additives but heavy metals and radioactive material as well. The problem is that these materials are leaching into our water supplies, sickening people, vegetation and animals.
And Big Oil is pressuring more and more states to allow the process to be employed, including my state of New York. Greed apparently knows no moral limits. The industry and government officials know the dangers posed to our nation's water supplies, yet in their eagerness to turn a buck (or allow the oil and gas companies to buy key political figures with campaign contributions) they are putting the lives of millions of people at risk.
In Pennsylvania, these treatment plants discharged waste into some of the state’s major river basins. Greater amounts of the wastewater went to the Monongahela River, which provides drinking water to more than 800,000 people in the western part of the state, including Pittsburgh, and to the Susquehanna River, which feeds into Chesapeake Bay and provides drinking water to more than six million people, including some in Harrisburg and Baltimore.
Lower amounts have been discharged into the Delaware River, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million people in Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania. [...]
“Hydrofracking impacts associated with health problems as well as widespread air and water contamination have been reported in at least a dozen states,” said Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting, a business in Ithaca, N.Y., that compiles data on gas drilling. [...]
There were more than 493,000 active natural-gas wells in the United States in 2009, almost double the number in 1990. Around 90 percent have used hydrofracking to get more gas flowing, according to the drilling industry.
Gas has seeped into underground drinking-water supplies in at least five states, including Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, and residents blamed natural-gas drilling.
Aside from the obvious risk of radiation poisoning, water contaminated with radioactive elements is highly carcinogenic. And there is no tax or cost imposed on Big Oil to prevent or re-mediate the problems caused by hydrofracking or pay for the future medical costs of people who are now unwittingly drinking this toxic brew because the hands of the EPA and local state environmental agencies have been tied by bought and paid for politicians who support hydrofracking. And groundwater contamination is not the only concern. Respiratory illness such as asthma related to air polution from hydrofracking is also a great problem for people who live near these wells:
In Texas, which now has about 93,000 natural-gas wells, up from around 58,000 a dozen years ago, a hospital system in six counties with some of the heaviest drilling said in 2010 that it found a 25 percent asthma rate for young children, more than three times the state rate of about 7 percent.
The desire to make profits is amoral at best. However, deliberately covering up the dangers to the health and lives of million of Americans in order to generate profits is immoral, and would, in any just society, be prosecuted as a crime. That crime would be attempted premeditated murder. These industry executives know that statistically a certain percentage of people who drink this contaminated water will contract diseases, including cancer, that will kill them. Yet they intentionally persist in pushing the use of fracking. Yet no one will prosecute them when people start to die from cancers and other illnesses related to the toxic waste products of hydrofracking.
Instead, they will likely be given government subsidies and tax breaks to do ever more damage and create ever more harm to the people of the United States.
| March 20, 2011
Vision: Revolution Is "Unpredictable and As Beautiful as Spring"
by Rebecca Solnit, AlterNet, Tomdispatch.com
When do the abuses that have been tolerated for so long become intolerable? When does the fear evaporate and the rage generate action that produces joy?
Revolution is as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring. Its coming is always a surprise, but its nature should not be.
Revolution is a phase, a mood, like spring, and just as spring has its buds and showers, so revolution has its ebullience, its bravery, its hope, and its solidarity. Some of these things pass. The women of Cairo do not move as freely in public as they did during those few precious weeks when the old rules were suspended and everything was different. But the old Egypt is gone and Egyptians’ sense of themselves -- and our sense of them -- is forever changed.
No revolution vanishes without effect. The Prague Spring of 1968 was brutally crushed, but 21 years later when a second wave of revolution liberated Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek, who had been the reformist Secretary of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, returned to give heart to the people from a balcony overlooking Wenceslas Square: "The government is telling us that the street is not the place for things to be solved, but I say the street was and is the place. The voice of the street must be heard."
The voice of the street has been a bugle cry this year. You heard it. Everyone did, but the rulers who thought their power was the only power that mattered, heard it last and with dismay. Many of them are nervous now, releasing political prisoners, lowering the price of food, and otherwise trying to tamp down uprisings.
There were three kinds of surprise about this year’s unfinished revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and the rumblings elsewhere that have frightened the mighty from Saudi Arabia to China, Algeria to Bahrain. The West was surprised that the Arab world, which we have regularly been told is medieval, hierarchical, and undemocratic, was full of young men and women using their cell phones, their Internet access, and their bodies in streets and squares to foment change and temporarily live a miracle of direct democracy and people power. And then there is the surprise that the seemingly unshakeable regimes of the strongmen were shaken into pieces.
And finally, there is always the surprise of: Why now? Why did the crowd decide to storm the Bastille on July 14, 1789, and not any other day? The bread famine going on in France that year and the rising cost of food had something to do with it, as hunger and poverty does with many of the Middle Eastern uprisings today, but part of the explanation remains mysterious. Why this day and not a month earlier or a decade later? Or never instead of now?
Oscar Wilde once remarked, “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” This profound uncertainty has been the grounds for my own hope.
Hindsight is 20/20, they say, and you can tell stories where it all makes sense. A young Tunisian college graduate, Mohammed Bouazizi, who could find no better work than selling produce from a cart on the street, was so upset by his treatment at the hands of a policewoman that he set himself afire on December 17, 2010. His death two weeks later became the match that lit the country afire -- but why that death? Or why the death of Khaled Said, an Egyptian youth who exposed police corruption and was beaten to death for it? He got a Facebook page that said “We are all Khaled Said,” and his death, too, was a factor in the uprisings to come.
But when exactly do the abuses that have been tolerated for so long become intolerable? When does the fear evaporate and the rage generate action that produces joy? After all, Tunisia and Egypt were not short on intolerable situations and tragedies before Bouazizi’s self-immolation and Said’s murder.
Thich Quang Duc burned himself to death at an intersection in Saigon on June 11, 1963, to protest the treatment of Buddhists by the U.S.-backed government of South Vietnam. His stoic composure while in flames was widely seen and may have helped produce a military coup against the regime six months later -- a change, but not necessarily a liberation. In between that year and this one, many people have fasted, prayed, protested, gone to prison, and died to call attention to cruel regimes, with little or no measurable consequence.
Guns and Butterflies
The boiling point of water is straightforward, but the boiling point of societies is mysterious. Bouazizi’s death became a catalyst, and at his funeral the 5,000 mourners chanted, "Farewell, Mohammed, we will avenge you. We weep for you today, we will make those who caused your death weep."
But his was not the first Tunisian gesture of denunciation. An even younger man, the rap artist who calls himself El General, uploaded a song about the horror of poverty and injustice in the country and, as the Guardian put it, “within hours, the song had lit up the bleak and fearful horizon like an incendiary bomb.” Or a new dawn. The artist was arrested and interrogated for three very long days, and then released thanks to widespread protest. And surely before him we could find another milestone. And another young man being subjected to inhuman conditions. And behind the uprising in Egypt are a panoply of union and human rights organizers as well as charismatic individuals.
This has been a great year for the power of the powerless and for the courage and determination of the young. A short, fair-haired, mild man even younger than Bouazizi has been held under extreme conditions in solitary confinement in a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, for the last several months. He is charged with giving hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents to WikiLeaks and so unveiling some of the more compromised and unsavory operations of the American military and U.S. diplomacy. Bradley Manning was a 22-year-old soldier stationed in Iraq when he was arrested last spring. The acts he’s charged with have changed the global political landscape and fed the outrage in the Middle East.
As Foreign Policy put it in a headline, “In one fell swoop, the candor of the cables released by WikiLeaks did more for Arab democracy than decades of backstage U.S. diplomacy.” The cables suggested, among other things, that the U.S. was not going to back Tunisian dictator Ben Ali to the bitter end, and that the regime’s corruption was common knowledge.
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a 1958 comic book about the Civil Rights struggle in the American South and the power of nonviolence was translated and distributed by the American Islamic Council in the Arab world in 2008 and has been credited with influencing the insurgencies of 2011. So the American Islamic Council played a role, too -- a role definitely not being investigated by anti-Muslim Congressman Peter King in his hearings on the “radicalization of Muslims in America.” Behind King are the lessons he, in turn, learned from Mohandas Gandhi, whose movement liberated India from colonial rule 66 years ago, and so the story comes back to the east.
Causes are Russian dolls. You can keep opening each one up and find another one behind it. WikiLeaks and Facebook and Twitter and the new media helped in 2011, but new media had been around for years. Asmaa Mahfouz was a young Egyptian woman who had served time in prison for using the Internet to organize a protest on April 6, 2008, to support striking workers. With astonishing courage, she posted a video of herself on Facebook on January 18, 2011, in which she looked into the camera and said, with a voice of intense conviction:
“Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire to protest humiliation and hunger and poverty and degradation they had to live with for 30 years. Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire thinking maybe we can have a revolution like Tunisia, maybe we can have freedom, justice, honor, and human dignity. Today, one of these four has died, and I saw people commenting and saying, ‘May God forgive him. He committed a sin and killed himself for nothing.’ People, have some shame.”
She described an earlier demonstration at which few had shown up: “I posted that I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor. No one came except three guys -- three guys and three armored cars of riot police. And tens of hired thugs and officers came to terrorize us.”
Mahfouz called for the gathering in Tahrir Square on January 25th that became the Egyptian revolution. The second time around she didn’t stand alone. Eighty-five thousand Egyptians pledged to attend, and soon enough, millions stood with her.
The revolution was called by a young woman with nothing more than a Facebook account and passionate conviction. They were enough. Often, revolution has had such modest starts. On October 5, 1789, a girl took a drum to the central markets of Paris. The storming of the Bastille a few months before had started, but hardly completed, a revolution. That drummer girl helped gather a mostly female crowd of thousands who marched to Versailles and seized the royal family. It was the end of the Bourbon monarchy.
Women often find great roles in revolution, simply because the rules fall apart and everyone has agency, anyone can act. As they did in Egypt, where liberty leading the masses was an earnest young woman in a black veil.
That the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can shape the weather in Texas is a summation of chaos theory that is now an oft-repeated cliché. But there are billions of butterflies on earth, all flapping their wings. Why does one gesture matter more than another? Why this Facebook post, this girl with a drum?
Even to try to answer this you’d have to say that the butterfly is born aloft by a particular breeze that was shaped by the flap of the wing of, say, a sparrow, and so behind causes are causes, behind small agents are other small agents, inspirations, and role models, as well as outrages to react against. The point is not that causation is unpredictable and erratic. The point is that butterflies and sparrows and young women in veils and an unknown 20-year-old rapping in Arabic and you yourself, if you wanted it, sometimes have tremendous power, enough to bring down a dictator, enough to change the world.
Other Selves, Other Lives
2011 has already been a remarkable year in which a particular kind of humanity appeared again and again in very different places, and we will see a great deal more of it in Japan before that catastrophe is over. Perhaps its first appearance was at the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson on January 8th, where the lone gunman was countered by several citizens who took remarkable action, none more so than Giffords’s new intern, 20-year-old Daniel Martinez, who later said, "It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots. But people needed help."
Martinez reached the congresswoman’s side and probably saved her life by administering first aid, while 61-year-old Patricia Maisch grabbed the magazine so the shooter couldn't reload, and 74-year-old Bill Badger helped wrestle him to the ground, though he’d been grazed by a bullet. One elderly man died because he shielded his wife rather than protect himself.
Everything suddenly changed and those people rose to the occasion heroically not in the hours, days, or weeks a revolution gives, but within seconds. More sustained acts of bravery and solidarity would make the revolutions to come. People would risk their lives and die for their beliefs and for each other. And in killing them, regimes would lose their last shreds of legitimacy.
Violence always seems to me the worst form of tyranny. It deprives people of their rights, including the right to live. The rest of the year so far has been dominated by battles against the tyrannies that have sometimes cost lives and sometimes just ground down those lives into poverty and indignity, from Bahrain to Madison, Wisconsin.
Yes, to Madison. I have often wondered if the United States could catch fire the way other countries sometimes do. The public space and spirit of Argentina or Egypt often seem missing here, for what changes in revolution is largely spirit, emotion, belief -- intangible things, as delicate as butterfly wings, but our world is made of such things. They matter. The governors govern by the consent of the governed. When they lose that consent, they resort to violence, which can stop some people directly, but aims to stop most of us through the power of fear.
And then sometimes a young man becomes fearless enough to post a song attacking the dictator who has ruled all his young life. Or people sign a declaration like Charter 77, the 1977 Czech document that was a milestone on the way to the revolutions of 1989, as well as a denunciation of the harassment of an underground rock band called the Plastic People of the Universe. Or a group of them found a labor union on the waterfront in Gdansk, Poland, in 1980, and the first cracks appear in the Soviet Empire.
Those who are not afraid are ungovernable, at least by fear, that favorite tool of the bygone era of George W. Bush. Jonathan Schell, with his usual beautiful insight, saw this when he wrote of the uprising in Tahrir Square:
“The murder of the 300 people, it may be, was the event that sealed Mubarak’s doom. When people are afraid, murders make them take flight. But when they have thrown off fear, murders have the opposite effect and make them bold. Instead of fear, they feel solidarity. Then they ‘stay’ -- and advance. And there is no solidarity like solidarity with the dead. That is the stuff of which revolution is made.”
When a revolution is made, people suddenly find themselves in a changed state -- of mind and of nation. The ordinary rules are suspended, and people become engaged with each other in new ways, and develop a new sense of power and possibility. People behave with generosity and altruism; they find they can govern themselves; and, in many ways, the government simply ceases to exist. A few days into the Egyptian revolution, Ben Wedeman, CNN’s senior correspondent in Cairo, was asked why things had calmed down in the Egyptian capital. He responded: “[T]hings have calmed down because there is no government here," pointing out that security forces had simply disappeared from the streets.
This state often arises in disasters as well, when the government is overwhelmed, shut down, or irrelevant for people intent on survival and then on putting society back together. If it rarely lasts, in the process it does change individuals and societies, leaving a legacy. To my mind, the best government is one that most resembles this moment when civil society reigns in a spirit of hope, inclusiveness, and improvisational genius.
In Egypt, there were moments of violence when people pushed back against the government’s goons, and for a week it seemed like the news was filled with little but pictures of bloody heads. Still, no armies marched, no superior weaponry decided the fate of the country, nobody was pushed from power by armed might. People gathered in public and discovered themselves as the public, as civil society. They found that the repression and exploitation they had long tolerated was intolerable and that they could do something about it, even if that something was only gathering, standing together, insisting on their rights as the public, as the true nation that the government can never be.
It is remarkable how, in other countries, people will one day simply stop believing in the regime that had, until then, ruled them, as African-Americans did in the South here 50 years ago. Stopping believing means no longer regarding those who rule you as legitimate, and so no longer fearing them. Or respecting them. And then, miraculously, they begin to crumble.
In the Philippines in 1986, millions of people gathered in response to a call from Catholic-run Radio Veritas, the only station the dictatorship didn’t control or shut down.
Then the army defected and dictator Fernando Marcos was ousted from power after 21 years.
In Argentina in 2001, in the wake of a brutal economic collapse, such a sudden shift in consciousness toppled the neoliberal regime of Fernando de la Rúa and ushered in a revolutionary era of economic desperation, but also of brilliant, generous innovation. A shift in consciousness brought an outpouring of citizens into the streets of Buenos Aires, suddenly no longer afraid after the long nightmare of a military regime and its aftermath. In Iceland in early 2009, in the wake of a global economic meltdown of special fierceness on that small island nation, a once-docile population almost literally drummed out of power the ruling party that had managed the country into bankruptcy.
Can’t Happen Here?
In the United States, the communion between the governed and the governors and the public spaces in which to be reborn as a civil society resurgent often seem missing. This is a big country whose national capital is not much of a center and whose majority seems to live in places that are themselves decentered.
At its best, revolution is an urban phenomenon. Suburbia is counterrevolutionary by design. For revolution, you need to converge, to live in public, to become the public, and that’s a geographical as well as a political phenomenon. The history of revolution is the history of great public spaces: the Place de la Concorde during the French Revolution; the Ramblas in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War; Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 (a splendid rebellion that was crushed); the great surge that turned the divide of the Berlin Wall into a gathering place in that same year; the insurrectionary occupation of the Zocalo of Mexico City after corrupt presidential elections and of the space in Buenos Aires that gave the Dirty War’s most open opposition its name: Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, the Mothers of the Plaza of May.
It’s all very well to organize on Facebook and update on Twitter, but these are only preludes. You also need to rise up, to pour out into the streets. You need to be together in body, for only then are you truly the public with the full power that a public can possess. And then it needs to matter. The United States is good at trivializing and ignoring insurrections at home.
The authorities were shaken by the uprising in Seattle that shut down the World Trade Organization meeting on November 30, 1999, but the actual nonviolent resistance there was quickly fictionalized into a tale of a violent rabble. Novelist and then-New Yorker correspondent Mavis Gallant wrote in 1968:
"The difference between rebellion at Columbia [University] and rebellion at the Sorbonne is that life in Manhattan went on as before, while in Paris every section of society was set on fire, in the space of a few days. The collective hallucination was that life can change, quite suddenly and for the better. It still strikes me as a noble desire..."
Revolution is also the action of people pushed to the brink. Rather than fall over, they push back. When he decided to push public employees hard and strip them of their collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a gamble. In response, union members, public employees, and then the public of Wisconsin began to gather on February 11th. By February 15th, they had taken over the state’s capitol building as the revolution in Egypt was still at full boil. They are still gathering. Last weekend, the biggest demonstration in Madison’s history was held, led by a “tractorcade” of farmers. The Wisconsin firefighters have revolted too. And the librarians. And the broad response has given encouragement to citizens in other states fighting similar cutbacks on essential services and rights.
Republicans like to charge the rest of us with “class war” when we talk about economic injustice, and that’s supposed to be a smear one should try to wriggle out of. But what’s going on in Wisconsin is a class war, in which billionaire-backed Walker is serving the interests of corporations and the super-rich, and this time no one seems afraid of the epithet. Jokes and newspaper political cartoons, as well as essays and talks, remark on the reality of our anti-trickle-down economy, where wealth is being pumped uphill to the palaces at a frantic rate, and on the reality that we’re not poor or broke, just crazy in how we distribute our resources.
What’s scary about the situation is that it is a test case for whether the party best serving big corporations can strip the rest of us of our rights and return us to a state of poverty and powerlessness. If the people who gathered in Madison don’t win, the war will continue and we’ll all lose.
Oppression often works -- for a while. And then it backfires. Sometimes immediately, sometimes after several decades. Walker has been nicknamed the Mubarak of the Midwest. Much of the insurrection and the rage in the Middle East isn’t just about tyranny; it’s about economic injustice, about young people who can’t find work, can’t afford to get married or leave their parents’ homes, can’t start their lives. This is increasingly the story for young Americans as well, and here it’s clearly a response to the misallocation of resources, not absolute scarcity. It could just be tragic, or it could get interesting when the young realize they are being shafted, and that life could be different. Even that it could change, quite suddenly, and for the better.
There was a splendid surliness in the wake of the economic collapse of 2008: rage at the executives who had managed the economy into the ground and went home with outsized bonuses, rage at the system, rage at the sheer gratuitousness of the suffering of those who were being foreclosed upon and laid off. In this country, economic inequality has reached a level not seen since before the stock market crash of 1929.
Hard times are in store for most people on Earth, and those may be times of boldness. Or not. The butterflies are out there, but when their flight stirs the winds of insurrection no one knows beforehand.
So remember to expect the unexpected, but not just to wait for it. Sometimes you have to become the unexpected, as the young heroes and heroines of 2011 have. I am sure they themselves are as surprised as anyone. Since she very nearly had the first word, let Asmaa Mahfouz have the last word: "As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope."
| March 7, 2011
The Oil Economy Is Collapsing With Every Protest in the Middle East
by Michael T. Klare , AlterNet, Tomdispatch.com /
The old oil order is dying, and with its demise we will see the end of cheap and readily accessible petroleum -- forever.
Whatever the outcome of the protests, uprisings, and rebellions now sweeping the Middle East, one thing is guaranteed: the world of oil will be permanently transformed. Consider everything that’s now happening as just the first tremor of an oilquake that will shake our world to its core.
For a century stretching back to the discovery of oil in southwestern Persia before World War I, Western powers have repeatedly intervened in the Middle East to ensure the survival of authoritarian governments devoted to producing petroleum. Without such interventions, the expansion of Western economies after World War II and the current affluence of industrialized societies would be inconceivable.
Here, however, is the news that should be on the front pages of newspapers everywhere: That old oil order is dying, and with its demise we will see the end of cheap and readily accessible petroleum -- forever.
Ending the Petroleum Age
Let’s try to take the measure of what exactly is at risk in the current tumult. As a start, there is almost no way to give full justice to the critical role played by Middle Eastern oil in the world’s energy equation. Although cheap coal fueled the original Industrial Revolution, powering railroads, steamships, and factories, cheap oil has made possible the automobile, the aviation industry, suburbia, mechanized agriculture, and an explosion of economic globalization. And while a handful of major oil-producing areas launched the Petroleum Age -- the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Romania, the area around Baku (in what was then the Czarist Russian empire), and the Dutch East Indies -- it’s been the Middle East that has quenched the world’s thirst for oil since World War II.
In 2009, the most recent year for which such data is available, BP reported that suppliers in the Middle East and North Africa jointly produced 29 million barrels per day, or 36% of the world’s total oil supply -- and even this doesn’t begin to suggest the region’s importance to the petroleum economy. More than any other area, the Middle East has funneled its production into export markets to satisfy the energy cravings of oil-importing powers like the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union (EU). We’re talking 20 million barrels funneled into export markets every day. Compare that to Russia, the world’s top individual producer, at seven million barrels in exportable oil, the continent of Africa at six million, and South America at a mere one million.
As it happens, Middle Eastern producers will be even more important in the years to come because they possess an estimated two-thirds of remaining untapped petroleum reserves. According to recent projections by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Middle East and North Africa will jointly provide approximately 43% of the world’s crude petroleum supply by 2035 (up from 37% in 2007), and will produce an even greater share of the world’s exportable oil.
To put the matter baldly: The world economy requires an increasing supply of affordable petroleum. The Middle East alone can provide that supply. That’s why Western governments have long supported “stable” authoritarian regimes throughout the region, regularly supplying and training their security forces. Now, this stultifying, petrified order, whose greatest success was producing oil for the world economy, is disintegrating. Don’t count on any new order (or disorder) to deliver enough cheap oil to preserve the Petroleum Age.
To appreciate why this will be so, a little history lesson is in order.
The Iranian Coup
After the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) discovered oil in Iran (then known as Persia) in 1908, the British government sought to exercise imperial control over the Persian state. A chief architect of this drive was First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Having ordered the conversion of British warships from coal to oil before World War I and determined to put a significant source of oil under London’s control, Churchill orchestrated the nationalization of APOC in 1914. On the eve of World War II, then-Prime Minister Churchill oversaw the removal of Persia’s pro-German ruler, Shah Reza Pahlavi, and the ascendancy of his 21-year-old son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Though prone to extolling his (mythical) ties to past Persian empires, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was a willing tool of the British. His subjects, however, proved ever less willing to tolerate subservience to imperial overlords in London. In 1951, democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq won parliamentary support for the nationalization of APOC, by then renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). The move was wildly popular in Iran but caused panic in London. In 1953, to save this great prize, British leaders infamously conspired with President Dwight Eisenhower‘s administration in Washington and the CIA to engineer a coup d’état that deposed Mossadeq and brought Shah Pahlavi back from exile in Rome, a story recently told with great panache by Stephen Kinzer in All the Shah’s Men.
Until he was overthrown in 1979, the Shah exercised ruthless and dictatorial control over Iranian society, thanks in part to lavish U.S. military and police assistance. First he crushed the secular left, the allies of Mossadeq, and then the religious opposition, headed from exile by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Given their brutal exposure to police and prison gear supplied by the United States, the shah’s opponents came to loathe his monarchy and Washington in equal measure. In 1979, of course, the Iranian people took to the streets, the Shah was overthrown, and Ayatollah Khomeini came to power.
Much can be learned from these events that led to the current impasse in U.S.-Iranian relations. The key point to grasp, however, is that Iranian oil production never recovered from the revolution of 1979-1980.
Between 1973 and 1979, Iran had achieved an output of nearly six million barrels of oil per day, one of the highest in the world. After the revolution, AIOC (rechristened British Petroleum, or later simply BP) was nationalized for a second time, and Iranian managers again took over the company’s operations. To punish Iran’s new leaders, Washington imposed tough trade sanctions, hindering the state oil company’s efforts to obtain foreign technology and assistance. Iranian output plunged to two million barrels per day and, even three decades later, has made it back to only slightly more than four million barrels per day, even though the country possesses the world’s second largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.
Dreams of the Invader
Iraq followed an eerily similar trajectory. Under Saddam Hussein, the state-owned Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) produced up to 2.8 million barrels per day until 1991, when the First Gulf War with the United States and ensuing sanctions dropped output to half a million barrels daily. Though by 2001 production had again risen to almost 2.5 million barrels per day, it never reached earlier heights. As the Pentagon geared up for an invasion of Iraq in late 2002, however, Bush administration insiders and well-connected Iraqi expatriates spoke dreamily of a coming golden age in which foreign oil companies would be invited back into the country, the national oil company would be privatized, and production would reach never before seen levels.
Who can forget the effort the Bush administration and its officials in Baghdad put into making their dream come true? After all, the first American soldiers to reach the Iraqi capital secured the Oil Ministry building, even as they allowed Iraqi looters free rein in the rest of the city. L. Paul Bremer III, the proconsul later chosen by President Bush to oversee the establishment of a new Iraq, brought in a team of American oil executives to supervise the privatization of the country’s oil industry, while the U.S. Department of Energy confidently predicted in May 2003 that Iraqi production would rise to 3.4 million barrels per day in 2005, 4.1 million barrels by 2010, and 5.6 million by 2020.
None of this, of course, came to pass. For many ordinary Iraqis, the U.S. decision to immediately head for the Oil Ministry building was an instantaneous turning point that transformed possible support for the overthrow of a tyrant into anger and hostility. Bremer’s drive to privatize the state oil company similarly produced a fierce nationalist backlash among Iraqi oil engineers, who essentially scuttled the plan. Soon enough, a full-scale Sunni insurgency broke out. Oil output quickly fell, averaging only 2.0 million barrels daily between 2003 and 2009. By 2010, it had finally inched back up to the 2.5 million barrel mark -- a far cry from those dreamed of 4.1 million barrels.
One conclusion isn’t hard to draw: Efforts by outsiders to control the political order in the Middle East for the sake of higher oil output will inevitably generate countervailing pressures that result in diminished production. The United States and other powers watching the uprisings, rebellions, and protests blazing through the Middle East should be wary indeed: whatever their political or religious desires, local populations always turn out to harbor a fierce, passionate hostility to foreign domination and, in a crunch, will choose independence and the possibility of freedom over increased oil output.
The experiences of Iran and Iraq may not in the usual sense be comparable to those of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. However, all of them (and other countries likely to get swept up into the tumult) exhibit some elements of the same authoritarian political mold and all are connected to the old oil order. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Oman, and Sudan are oil producers; Egypt and Jordan guard vital oil pipelines and, in Egypt’s case, a crucial canal for the transport of oil; Bahrain and Yemen as well as Oman occupy strategic points along major oil sealanes. All have received substantial U.S. military aid and/or housed important U.S. military bases. And, in all of these countries, the chant is the same: “The people want the regime to fall.”
Two of these regimes have already fallen, three are tottering, and others are at risk. The impact on global oil prices has been swift and merciless: on February 24th, the delivery price for North Brent crude, an industry benchmark, nearly reached $115 per barrel, the highest it’s been since the global economic meltdown of October 2008. West Texas Intermediate, another benchmark crude, briefly and ominously crossed the $100 threshold.
Why the Saudis are Key
So far, the most important Middle Eastern producer of all, Saudi Arabia, has not exhibited obvious signs of vulnerability, or prices would have soared even higher. However, the royal house of neighboring Bahrain is already in deep trouble; tens of thousands of protesters -- more than 20% of its half million people -- have repeatedly taken to the streets, despite the threat of live fire, in a movement for the abolition of the autocratic government of King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifa, and its replacement with genuine democratic rule.
These developments are especially worrisome to the Saudi leadership as the drive for change in Bahrain is being directed by that country’s long-abused Shiite population against an entrenched Sunni ruling elite. Saudi Arabia also contains a large, though not -- as in Bahrain -- a majority Shiite population that has also suffered discrimination from Sunni rulers. There is anxiety in Riyadh that the explosion in Bahrain could spill into the adjacent oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia -- the one area of the kingdom where Shiites do form the majority -- producing a major challenge to the regime. Partly to forestall any youth rebellion, 87-year-old King Abdullah has just promised $10 billion in grants, part of a $36 billion package of changes, to help young Saudi citizens get married and obtain homes and apartments.
Even if rebellion doesn’t reach Saudi Arabia, the old Middle Eastern oil order cannot be reconstructed. The result is sure to be a long-term decline in the future availability of exportable petroleum.
Three-quarters of the 1.7 million barrels of oil Libya produces daily were quickly taken off the market as turmoil spread in that country. Much of it may remain off-line and out of the market for the indefinite future. Egypt and Tunisia can be expected to restore production, modest in both countries, to pre-rebellion levels soon, but are unlikely to embrace the sorts of major joint ventures with foreign firms that might boost production while diluting local control. Iraq, whose largest oil refinery was badly damaged by insurgents only last week, and Iran exhibit no signs of being able to boost production significantly in the years ahead.
The critical player is Saudi Arabia, which just increased production to compensate for Libyan losses on the global market. But don’t expect this pattern to hold forever. Assuming the royal family survives the current round of upheavals, it will undoubtedly have to divert more of its daily oil output to satisfy rising domestic consumption levels and fuel local petrochemical industries that could provide a fast-growing, restive population with better-paying jobs.
From 2005 to 2009, Saudis used about 2.3 million barrels daily, leaving about 8.3 million barrels for export. Only if Saudi Arabia continues to provide at least this much oil to international markets could the world even meet its anticipated low-end oil needs. This is not likely to occur. The Saudi royals have expressed reluctance to raise output much above 10 million barrels per day, fearing damage to their remaining fields and so a decline in future income for their many progeny. At the same time, rising domestic demand is expected to consume an ever-increasing share of Saudi Arabia’s net output. In April 2010, the chief executive officer of state-owned Saudi Aramco, Khalid al-Falih, predicted that domestic consumption could reach a staggering 8.3 million barrels per day by 2028, leaving only a few million barrels for export and ensuring that, if the world can’t switch to other energy sources, there will be petroleum starvation.
In other words, if one traces a reasonable trajectory from current developments in the Middle East, the handwriting is already on the wall. Since no other area is capable of replacing the Middle East as the world’s premier oil exporter, the oil economy will shrivel -- and with it, the global economy as a whole.
Consider the recent rise in the price of oil just a faint and early tremor heralding the oilquake to come. Oil won’t disappear from international markets, but in the coming decades it will never reach the volumes needed to satisfy projected world demand, which means that, sooner rather than later, scarcity will become the dominant market condition. Only the rapid development of alternative sources of energy and a dramatic reduction in oil consumption might spare the world the most severe economic repercussions.
Michael T Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. A documentary film version of his previous book, Blood and Oil,is available from the Media Education Foundation. To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest TomCast audio interview in which Klare explains how resource scarcity is driving protest and much else on our planet, click here
, or download it to your iPod here
| March 1, 2011
New Arizona Anti-Immigrant Bill Threatens Health Care, Education
by Valeria Fernandez , AlterNet, New America Media
The 'papers please' law isn't the only monstrosity cooked up in Arizona.
A new set of far-reaching anti-immigrant measures passed by an Arizona State Appropriations Committee early this morning has human rights activists and health care professionals contemplating civil disobedience.
The bills would deny birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants; make it a crime to drive without a license, punishable by 30 days in jail; ban undocumented students from accessing higher education; require proof of legal status to attend K-12 schools; and require hospitals to inquire about the immigration status of their patients.
There are also provisions that would increase penalties for government employees who fail to report undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities if they apply for public benefits.
The bulk of these proposals are contained in one omnibus bill, SB 1611, that Sen. Russell Pearce introduced at the last minute. Pearce, who is the author of the anti-immigrant law SB 1070, reportedly planning to run for Congress in 2012.
SB 1611, along with other anti-immigrant legislation, was passed early this morning during a session that lasted more than 12 hours. The bills still need to clear the Senate and the House of Representatives before they reach the governor’s desk.
Human rights activists called the bills “worse than SB 1070.”
“It’s without a doubt miles beyond SB 1070 in terms of its potential to role back the fundamental rights of citizens and non-citizens,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
SB 1070, signed into law last year, is considered one of the toughest anti-immigrant laws in the nation. It made it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Arizona, but a federal judge subsequently enjoined portions of it.
Meetze said SB 1611 is more problematic because it would effectively create the crime of driving as an undocumented immigrant. Currently, Arizona doesn’t grant driver’s licenses to people who are in the country illegally.
“This will allow a police officer to detain somebody if he or she believes they are undocumented. Anyone (who) is perceived to be an immigrant is going to be stopped and questioned,” she said.
Meetze said bill would also create a “massive government bureaucracy” by requiring government employees and agencies to routinely check people’s immigration status when they are going to the hospital, trying to enroll in school, or applying for public benefits.
SB 1611 is more expansive than a law passed two years ago that sanctioned state and local employees for not reporting undocumented immigrants when applying for benefits. It also limits the types of services an undocumented person can get.
Meetze said the bill is expected to face legal challenges, especially for provisions that would keep undocumented children from going to school. This runs up against the Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, which explicitly prohibited states from discriminating against students based on their immigration status.
“It’s a police-state type of bill. It’s punishing good working people that did a lot for the state,” asserted retired physician Dr. George Pauk, the Arizona representative with the group Physicians for a National Health Program, who testified during the hearing.
“The elephant in this room is the racism that is present among us,” Pauk said.
Senate president Pearce drafted SB 1611 on Friday and introduced it on the deadline to get a hearing, admitting there might be some errors on the legislation that needed to be fixed.
“This bill simply tightens up the laws,” he said.
He argued that the legislation passed by the state has had an impact in diminishing the population of undocumented immigrants and stopping what he referred to as “an invasion” that he believes is costly for Arizona’s tax payers.
“We have a war on our borders,” said Pearce, “and the federal government’s response was to post signs 30 miles from Phoenix saying, ‘Americans stay out.’”
But Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema argued the legislation is a remix of measures that have failed to pass in the state legislature over the last six years, and that it would open the state to more lawsuits based on their unconstitutionality.
During a debate that went on for hours, she dissected several problematic aspects of SB 1611, from its impact on domestic violence victims seeking shelter to the unfairness of denying education to children who come across the border against their will.
“I don’t know how we can ensure our future when we are choosing as a policy decision to deny people that are going to continue to live here an education,” said Democratic Sen. David Schapira.
SB 1611 passed by a vote of 7 to 6. Opposition to it also came from some Republicans.
Republican Sen. Rich Crandall, a supporter of SB 1070 and the employer sanctions law against businesses that hire illegal labor, said this legislation would hurt the economy and the state’s plan to bump up tourism at a time when Arizona has lost millions due to an economy boycott.
“In this bill, every single car rental company in Arizona now has to check for citizenship before you rent a car,” he said.
Legislators debated past 2:00 in the morning Wednesday.
One of the final bills that was passed would require hospital personnel “to confirm a person’s citizenship or legal status during the course of admission or treatment for emergency or nonemergency care if the person cannot provide valid health insurance information.”
Sen. Steve Smith, the bill’s main sponsor, said it is “unfortunate that we have people that come to this country for their last refuge. Ladies and gentleman, we can’t support the world. If we do it, there’s peril for every one of us and our children.”
But health care workers from the Phoenix Urban Health Collective spoke out against the bill, saying they wouldn’t comply with a law that would essentially turn them into immigration agents.
The hearing was marked by a strong presence of immigrants’ rights groups and immigrant families who filled an overflowing room to witness the proceedings.
“These laws are going to scare people even more. They are going to keep pregnant immigrant women from taking care of their pregnancies,” said Pastor Magdalena Schwartz from the Disciples of the Kingdom Free Methodist Church in Mesa, Ariz.
Schwartz said the bills are “murderous,” and are aimed at trying to “exterminate our Hispanic community.”
Others say that whether or not the bills become law, they have succeeded in changing the conversation around immigration in Arizona.
“Their strategy is to move the discussion towards the right,” said Salvador Reza, an activist from the PUENTE movement. He said it was part of a plan to “infect the rest of the country with this anti-immigrant wave.”
| February 25 , 2011
4 Ocean Wonders You've Never Heard Of That Desperately Need Your Protection
by Casson Trenor, AlterNet
Sadly, many of these wonders are threatened by unbridled fishing pressure, deluges of castaway plastics and rising seas.
This is the latest installment in Casson Trenor's monthly column, 4 Oceans, about protecting our fisheries and ocean health through sustainable seafood.
The ocean is mysterious. It has obscured many of our planet's most fantastic treasures from view since time immemorial, tucking them away in remote tropical waters, or hiding them deep beneath the white-capped fangs of raging polar seas. Sadly, many of these wonders are threatened by unbridled fishing pressure, deluges of castaway plastics, and a simple but devastating characteristic that, more than anything else, could guarantee their destruction: anonymity. In this installment of "4 Oceans," we'll take a look at four astonishing marine marvels that most people have never heard of, and then discuss how these delicate ecosystems are under threat and what we as consumers can do to protect them.
Zhemchug ("pearl" in Russian) is the longest, widest and deepest canyon in the world. Its total volume is nearly twice that of the Grand Canyon. It is vast beyond description and teems with fascinating organisms. It is also hundreds of fathoms underwater.
Zhemchug, sprawling southwest from the Alaskan shore and deep into the Bering Sea, is home to dozens of soft corals, sponges and other invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. Only in the last five years have scientists have begun to plumb the depths of Zhemchug, and we still have virtually no information on what marvels it may conceal. That said, time is already running out.
Every year, the Alaskan pollock fleet rakes Zhemchug repeatedly with gigantic trawl nets in its relentless quest for fish protein (pollock is the low-value, high-volume fish often used to make products like fish sticks and fast-food fish sandwiches). While there is an argument for using pollock in our food system, there is no excuse for pulverizing Zhemchug Canyon (or its neighbor, Pribilof Canyon) to get it. The pollock fishery covers thousands upon thousands of square miles outside of the canyons, and the vast majority of pollock is caught in these areas rather than Zhemchug or Pribilof. Pollock producers and companies that sell pollock products must commit to sourcing their pollock from outside the canyons if these amazing treasures are to survive.
To help protect Zhemchug Canyon: Avoid pollock products until leading seafood companies pledge only to source pollock from outside of the canyons, and then support those companies.
The Ross Sea
The Ross Sea, a remote, half-frozen dent in the side of Antarctica, is aptly nicknamed the "the Last Ocean" -- it is the only remaining oceanic ecosystem on our planet with a relatively intact animal population at all levels of the food chain. Elsewhere in the world, the ocean's apex predators -- sharks, bluefin tuna, swordfish, etc. -- have been fished to the point of near-collapse. After nearly a century of industrialized fishing, the Ross is the only remaining sea that still has a strong top-level predator population.
The Ross Sea has no sharks. Instead, the food chain is dominated by two predators: the Antarctic toothfish and the Ross Sea orca. The toothfish, more commonly known by its menu-friendly moniker "Chilean sea bass" is the largest fish in the Ross Sea and a lynchpin of its ecosystem. The Ross Sea orca is a rare and isolated subspecies of killer whale found nowhere else in the world. Both species are under threat.
The Ross Sea is under increasing pressure by an emerging fishery targeting Antarctic toothfish. In order to satisfy a hunger for Chilean sea bass fillets, ships are now beginning to enter the last pristine ocean in search for white-fleshed plunder. Chilean sea bass is also a prime prey item for the Ross Sea orca, and recent science has identified a correlation between decreasing Antarctic toothfish populations and a diminishing orca presence.
To protect the Ross Sea: avoid Chilean sea bass, especially from the Ross Sea. Also, don't be fooled by certifications -- astonishingly, the Ross Sea toothfish fishery is Marine Stewardship Council-certified.
Cast far into the Pacific like a stone that has lost a child's interest, Palmyra is a tropical wonderland upon which humanity has taken a sort of self-serving pity. Once privately owned by a wealthy American family, Palmyra was purchased some time ago by the Nature Conservancy in an effort to safeguard this virtually untouched ecosystem for study and posterity, and the atoll still boasts strong populations of many species that are disappearing from other areas of the tropics at astonishing rates.
Unfortunately, localized precautions cannot forestall a larger creeping doom that threatens to swallow Palmyra like a massive turtle -- the menace of global climate change. As we pump carbon into our atmosphere, we increase the rate at which our polar ice caps melt and give these areas less time to re-freeze in the winter. As such, water that had been frozen for eons is now streaming into the ocean, causing global sea levels to rise. A few vertical inches can spell the end for atolls like Palmyra, which is just one of the many sandbank jewels scattered about our world that may not survive to see the coming decades.
To save Palmyra: the best we can do is support clean energy efforts, limit our consumption of fossil fuels, and keep the climate crisis in mind as we go about our daily lives.
The Sargasso Sea
The world's only "sea without shores" is geographically defined not by a neighboring land mass, but rather by the spatial dimensions of its own ecosystem. There is no other expanse of ocean like the Sargasso; a unique conflux of swirling currents, temperate weather, and the calming winds of the horse latitudes has given rise to an enormous morass of Sargassum seaweed. This vast aquatic jungle is the basis of an entire ecology involving dozens of species found nowhere else in the world.
Between the leafy sea dragons, pipefish and man-o-war peppering the Sargasso swim American and European freshwater eels, known in the sushi industry as unagi. These animals hatch in the waters of the Sargasso and are slowly swept along by the currents of the Atlantic Ocean. When the tiny eels enter water with decreased salinity -- due to a nearby river mouth -- they transform, developing muscles and the ability to propel their bodies through the water. These eels -- now known as "elvers" -- swim directly upriver, where they feed, grow and mature. They will spend their life in fresh water until they reach adulthood, whereupon they leave the river system and return to the Sargasso Sea to mate. All freshwater eels from both sides of the North Atlantic come to the Sargasso, and nowhere else, for this purpose.
But the Sargasso is in trouble. Not only are eels themselves severely overfished (that unagi at your local sushi bar may be "farmed," but in reality, it was captured from the wild as an elver and transferred to a rearing facility for fattening), but the greedy eddies of the Sargasso attract massive amounts of jetsam from all over the Atlantic, especially plastic and container waste, which disrupt the ecosystem and hinder many animals' ability to feed.
To help save the Sargasso: avoid unagi, and be judicious about the use of plastic bags and other refuse that often ends up in the oceans.
Casson Trenor is senior markets campaigner with Greenpeace USA, where he spearheads efforts to hold restaurants and supermarkets accountable for their seafood sustainability practices and to help educate the public about the global fisheries crisis. He is the author of Sustainable Sushi
| March 3 , 2011
US Landowners Fighting Back Against Pipeline That Would Run From Alberta to the Gulf Coast
by Suzanne Goldenberg , AlterNet, The Guardian
What are the dangers of pumping gritty, thick crude at high temperature and pressure through a pipeline with walls less than half an inch thick across vital sources of groundwater?
He is not doing badly for a man taking on big oil in the home of black gold. Growing opposition to a Canadian project to pump crude from tar sands in Alberta across six American states to the Gulf coast could force the Obama administration to reconsider – and possibly delay – the project.
The grassroots rebellion will come to Washington on 9 March, just as the state department is due to decide whether to grant final approval to the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline. If it orders additional environmental or safety reviews it would force a delay in the construction start date, now set for the end of the year.
But a delay could also be forced by activists along the proposed pipeline route through Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. About 750 landowners have refused to allow the company, TransCanada Corp, on their land, setting the stage for court battles over compulsory purchase.
It's more than Daniel expected when he began posting "stop the pipeline" signs on roads near his rural east Texas home. "Normally people are so used to pipelines that they don't think twice about it," said Daniel, a carpenter who gave up his life as a stuntman six years ago when he settled on 20 acres near Winnsboro. "Everybody has a pipeline running through their yard, or will have one eventually, so it is kind of the accepted standard," he said. "There is a mindset of apathy."
But last year Americans began to pay more attention to the potential for oil and gas disasters. In addition to the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, a natural gas explosion killed six people and destroyed 35 homes in California, and a pipeline leak spewed 1m gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo river in Michigan. That pipeline was owned by another Alberta firm.
Then there were the environmental consequences associated with tar sands crude, which has a far higher carbon footprint than other sources. Its exploitation has turned Canada into the villain of international climate change negotiations.
National environmental organisations said the project jeopardised Obama's commitment to a clean energy future.
Activists are worried about the dangers of pumping gritty, thick crude at high temperature and pressure through a pipeline with walls less than half an inch thick across vital sources of groundwater.
A report by a coalition of environmental organisations said piping oil from the tar sands was inherently more risky than other pipelines. The pipeline crosses one of the world's largest aquifers in Nebraska, which provides drinking water to eight states and irrigates about a third of the farmland in the midwest. Daniel's stretch of Texas, meanwhile, is rich in lakes that locals fear could be contaminated if there is a leak.
But environmental concerns alone did not turn Daniel's neighbours against the pipeline. They claim that bullying did.
Locals in east Texas accuse TransCanada's agents of threatening them with compulsory purchase and of dismissing their concerns about safety in case of a leak.
"They just laid some papers down on the table and said: 'Read these papers. We have eminent domain.' That scared me nearly to death," said Susan Scott, who blames her heart attack on the stress.
Daniel said the company did not bother to notify him when it sent the first survey team to his property in 2008. A neighbour told him outsiders had been on his land. He found surveyors' stakes with flags reading PL. "My heart was just falling," he said. "I knew that meant pipeline."
The anger spread to Tea Party conservatives, the local chapter of Hawks – which stands for Handguns Are Worth Keeping Sacred – and even those who owed their fortunes to oil. "I had nothing against it at first," said Eleanor Fairchild. Her late husband headed international exploration for Hunt oil, and she has an abandoned pipeline on her 300 acres of land, which is wooded with oak, pine and sweetgum trees and fed by its own springs.
"It was later I found out about the pollution and I got involved with this environmental stuff. They don't tell you it is not a regular pipeline, or that the pipeline is so thin, or that the grit going down there is going to wear out the pipeline."
Fairchild said she got angry when TransCanada's lawyers told her she had no choice but to agree on their terms.
TransCanada says it has reached agreements for nearly 90% of the route. "Whenever you build a project, especially a project of this size, you know not everybody will agree with you," said a spokesman, Shawn Howard. He said the pipeline would be the safest ever built, with 16,000 sensors to detect the first sign of a leak.
But opposition may be gaining momentum. "Nobody likes it when somebody comes and says you are going to sell to us, like it or not," said Harlan Hentges, an Oklahoma lawyer representing families suing TransCanada. "The Canadian executives have been a little bit tone deaf."
He said he knows of about a dozen landowners in Oklahoma who are challenging TransCanada's claim, as a foreign corporation, to be expropriating land in the national interest. In Nebraska, 21 members of Congress have signed a petition calling on the Obama administration to re-route the pipeline away from its aquifer. In South Dakota, the state legislature is considering a bill that would compel corporations to obtain all the necessary permits before they start trying to obtain rights to privately held land.
Activists like Daniel hope the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will be forced to rethink her support for the project.
The Environmental Protection Agency rejected TransCanada's draft environmental study of the project last July. Daniel and other activists now hope the state department will order further studies on the safety of transporting gritty crude, the potential damage to groundwater from a leak, and emergency response plans.
He doesn't yet dare to hope that the pipeline will be halted. But he is ready to use skills he picked up as a stuntman.
If the state department signs off the pipeline, Daniel says, he will build a platform in an elm on his land and live on it. "If I am in it, they can't cut the tree down."
| March 14, 2011
Let My Children Go: Ethical World Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour and Exploitation
by Rene Wadlow, firstname.lastname@example.org
Download full WORD document by author
* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
Postal address: 186 Bowlsby Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 5K1
Electronic mail: email@example.com