Volume 12 Issue 8 April 2014
Nafeez Ahmed, Maude Barlow, Guy Crequie, Herman Daly, Tom Engelhardt, Thom Hartmann,
Alex Kane, Marty Kaplan, Chandra Muzaffar, Nazia Nazar, Dr. John O'Connor,
Paul Craig Roberts, Peter Rothberg, Dave Saldana, Gabrielle Simond, Rebecca Solnit, Colin Todhunter
Nafeez Ahmed, Collapse Of Modern Civilization A Real Possibility: Study
Maude Barlow, Humanity Has Got to Come to Grips with the World's Fresh Water Crisis
Guy CREQUIE, ASSEZ DE LARMES - DE SANG ET DE REPRESSION AU VENEZUELA !
Herman Daly, A Medical Missionary’s Environmental Epiphany
Tom Engelhardt, What's the Role of American Empire in the New World Order?
Thom Hartmann, Mr. President: Regulate Our Emissions Now or We Face Extinction
Alex Kane, Senate Democrats Burn the Midnight Oil to Address Climate Change
Marty Kaplan, The Closest Humanity Ever Came to Preventing Its Own Extinction from Climate Change
Chandra Muzaffar, Ousting A Democratically Elected Leader In Ukraine And Elsewh
Nazia Nazar, Is The Abolition Of War Possible?
Dr. John O'Connor, Alberta Doctor Says Canada Lying About Tar Sands Health Impacts
Paul Craig Roberts, Washington Has Set The World On A Path To War
Peter Rothberg, Youth Plan Mass Civil Disobedience to Protest Keystone XL This Sunday
Dave Saldana, Keystone PipeLIES Exposed: The Truth Is that Stopping the KXL Matters
Gabrielle Simond, Cercle Universel des Ambassadeurs de la Paix France/Suisse
Rebecca Solnit, By the Way, Your Home Is On Fire: The Climate of Change and the Dangers of Stasis
Colin Todhunter, Contamination, Bio - Pollution And Duplicity: GM Sector Criminality
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|March 16, 2014||
Washington Has Set The World On A Path To War
by Paul Craig Roberts, Countercurrents.org
Why is Washington so opposed to Crimean self-determination? The answer is that one of the main purposes of Washington’s coup in Kiev was to have the new puppet government evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base in Crimea. Washington cannot use the government Washington has installed in Ukraine for that purpose if Crimea is no longer part of Ukraine.
What Washington has made completely obvious is that “self-determination” is a weapon used by Washington in behalf of its agenda. If self-determination advances Washington’s agenda, Washington is for it. If self-determination does not advance Washington’s agenda, Washington is against it.
The Washington-initiated UN Security Council resolution, vetoed by Russia, falsely declares that the referendum in Crimea, a referendum demanded by the people, “can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea; and calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of Crimea on the basis of this referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”
Washington could not make it any clearer that Washington totally opposes self-determination by Crimeans.
Washington claims, falsely, that the referendum cannot be valid unless the entire population of Ukraine votes and agrees with the decision by Crimeans. Note that when Washington stole Kosovo from Serbia, Washington did not let Serbians vote.
But overlook Washington’s rank hypocrisy and self-serving double-standards. Let’s apply Washington’s argument that in order to be valid any change in Crimea’s status requires a vote on the part of the population of the country that it departs. If this is the case, then Crimea has never been a part of Ukraine.
Under Washington’ s interpretation of international law, Ukraine is still a part of Russia. When Khrushchev transferred Crimea (but not Sevastopol, the Black Sea base) to Ukraine, Russians did not get to vote. Therefore, according to Washington’s own logic it is invalid to recognize Crimea as part of Ukraine. That also goes for other parts of Russia that Lenin transferred to Ukraine. Under the logic of Washington’s UN resolution, large parts of Ukraine are not legitimately part of Ukraine. They have remained parts of Russia, because Russians were not allowed to vote on their transfer to Ukraine. Thus, there is no issue about “Russia annexing Crimea,” because, according to Washington’s logic, Crimea is still a part of Russia.
Do you need any more proof that the Ukrainian crisis is made up out of thin air by schemers in Washington who created the entire crisis for one purpose–to weaken Russia militarily?
No one was surprised that the New York Times published on March 14 the warmongering rant, written by neoconservatives for John McCain, which described Washington’s aggression in Ukraine as Russia’s aggression. The US government overthrows an elected democratic Ukrainian government and then accuses Russia of “invading and annexing Crimea” in order to divert attention from Washington’s overthrow of Ukrainian democracy. There is no elected government in Kiev. The stooges acting as a government in Kiev were put in office by Washington. Who else choose them?
What surprised some was Rand Paul joining the hysteria. Rand Paul wrote his propagandistic rant against Russia for Time. Rand Paul claims, falsely, that Putin has invaded Crimea and that it is an affront to “the international community.” First of all, the decision of Crimea to leave Ukraine is a decision of the Crimean population and the elected government, not a decision by Russia. But, for the sake of argument, let’s take Rand Paul’s lie as the truth: Is “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a gross violation of that nation’s sovereignty and an affront to the international community” like Washington’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington-sponsored invasions of Libya and Syria, and Washington’s ongoing slaughter of Pakistanis and Yemenis with drones, and Washington’s violation of Iran’s sovereignty with illegal sanctions, and Washington’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by overthrowing the elected government and imposing Washington’s stooges?
If Putin is behaving as Rand Paul ignorantly asserts, Putin is just following the precedents established by Clinton in Serbia, by Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by Obama in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Washington’s argument is reduced to: “We, the exceptional and indispensable nation can behave this way, but no other country can.”
As some Americans have misplaced hopes in Rand Paul, it is just as well that he revealed in Time that he is just another fool prostituting himself for the neoconservative warmongers and the military/security complex. If Rand Paul is the hope for America, then clearly there is no hope.
As I have been pointing out, the propaganda and lies issuing from Washington, its European puppets, New York Times, Time, and the entirety of the Western media are repeating the path to war that led to World War 1. It is happening right before our eyes.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
|March 16, 2014||
Collapse Of Modern Civilization A Real Possibility: Study
by Nafeez Ahmed, Guardian Blog, Countercurrents.org
A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.
These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.
Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."
In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."
Applying this lesson to our contemporary predicament, the study warns that:
However, the scientists point out that the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, and suggest that appropriate policy and structural changes could avoid collapse, if not pave the way toward a more stable civilisation.
The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:
The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business - and consumers - to recognise that 'business as usual' cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.
Although the study is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused studies - by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance - have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a 'perfect storm' within about fifteen years. But these 'business as usual' forecasts could be very conservative.
Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter
|March 2, 2014||
Contamination, Bio - Pollution And Duplicity: GM Sector Criminality
by Colin Todhunter , Countercurrents.org
There is currently a battle waging across the planet over genetically modified (GM) crops. It seems like not a month goes by when a new report is released on the health, environmental or productivity aspects of GM organisms. The GM biotech industry tries to assure governments and the public about the safety and efficacy of their products, while study after study calls into question its claims.
The industry has succeeded in getting its GM foods onto the commercial market in the US largely due to its political leverage within government and regulatory authorities (1). However, Europe and elsewhere have so far not been the pushovers that the industry and the US State Department, which actively promotes the US GM biotech sector courtesy of the taxpayer (2), thought they would. The sector continues to push at the doors of Europe and India but is meeting stiff resistance.
And there is good reason for this resistance; one reason (among many) being that the introduction of GM crops leads to an increase in the use of the herbicide gyphosate (3) . This is of concern because gylphosate could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson's, infertility and cancers, according to a peer-reviewed report from 2013, published in the scientific journal Entropy. The study concluded that residues of glyphosate have been found in food, and these residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment and disrupt normal body functions and induce disease (4). Other evidence from Argentina shows that as GM crops have become more prevalent, the use of gyphosate has spiraled as have cancer rates and birth defects (5).
The GM debate may ultimately not be decided by scientific debate or on the pages of journals, however. The battle could be lost for those opposing GM crops by default, or to be more specific, by the flagrant contamination of our food supply and our air and water as well.
Contamination by all means necessary
Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International some 13 years ago, was quoted by the Toronto Star on 9 January 2001 as saying that the hope of the GM industry is that over time the market is so flooded with GM organisms that there's nothing you can do about it; you just sort of surrender. However, Westfall did not go far enough. It is not just a vague hope. It's a deliberate strategy by the industry.
Genetically engineered wheat is not approved to be grown for commercial use in the US or anywhere else in the world. Yet last year the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that unapproved GE wheat had been found growing in an Oregon wheat field. Since 1994, Monsanto has conducted 279 field trials of RoundUp Ready wheat over more than 4,000 acres of land in 16 US states (6). The USDA has admitted that Monsanto's GMO experiments from 1998 to 2005 were held in open wheat fields. The genetically engineered wheat escaped and found its way into commercial wheat fields in Oregon (and possibly 15 other states), causing self-replicating genetic pollution that now taints the entire US wheat industry.
Prior to this, in 2006 the USDA granted marketing approval of genetically-engineered Liberty Link 601 of Bayer CropScience. (GE) rice variety following its illegal contamination of the food supply and rice exports (7). The USDA effectively sanctioned an approval-by-contamination' policy.
In India, back in 2005, biologist Pushpa Bhargava alleged that there were reports that unapproved varieties of several genetically modified crops were being sold to farmers. And Arun Shrivasatava wrote in 2008 that illegal genetically modified okra had been planted in India and that poor farmers had been offered lucrative deals to plant special seed' of all sorts of vegetables (7). He asked: who knows at how many places illegal genetically engineered rice have been planted? It's a valid concern given that t he story of open air trials of GM crops in India is a story of blatant violations of biosafety norms, hasty approvals, a lack of monitoring abilities, general apathy towards the hazards of contamination and a lack of institutional oversight mechanisms (8). Concerns have also been expressed in Europe over the contamination of basmati rice exported by India (9).
Without doubt, though, the most alarming findings associated with contamination pertaining to GM crops come from new research. It shows that we do not have to eat GM food in order to be adversely affected by it. The findings have been released on the GreenMedInfo website, where it is argued that the GM farming system has made exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide (gylphosate) a daily fact of people's existence in the US (10).
A new study from the US Geological Survey, accepted for publication online ahead of print in the journal Enviromental Toxicology and Chemistry, re veals that Roundup and its toxic degradation byproduct AMPA were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007.
This study highlights the extent to which GM farming has altered daily exposure to chemicals - even the rain and air people in the US now breath contains physiologically relevant and potentially health damaging levels of glyphosate 'fall out' from what Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo calls the war against any plant not part of the monocultured, genetically engineered system of production.
Regardless of the contamination of non-GM crops by GM crops, Ji argues that findings like these reveal just how illusory the perception of choice and health freedom is when it comes to the GM/non-GM debate and people's right to avoid harm from GM organisms by refusing to buy or consume them. Ji says that the environment is becoming so saturated with the 'fall out' from ever-expanding GM agricultural/agrichemical farming that even if we find a way to avoid eating GM-contaminated food, we will still have to deal with its adverse health effects.
If we are to believe Don Westfall,
at this point we simply accept things and surrender . But that depends on how much you value your live and health, your children's lives and health and the environment around you. Be informed and take action:
In India : http://indiagminfo.org/
Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in various other newspapers, journals and books. His East by Northwest website is at: http://colintodhunter.blogspot.com
|March 2, 2014||
Is The Abolition Of War Possible?
by Nazia Nazar , Countercurrents.org
The year 2014 is set to refresh the memories of the human folly of the First World War, which began one hundred years ago and created unimaginable horror. During these 100 years, we have seen innumerable other wars including the Second World War, which eventually compelled the world leaders to think about averting the future wars. Whereas the number of wars has decreased gradually, the scale of destruction of recent wars has increased tremendously with more civilian casualties due to the use of evermore lethal weapons. Albert Einstein aptly said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Advancement in technology has left us in a situation where we should think a thousand times before unleashing our weapons on other human beings. In a drone war, for instance, hundreds or thousands of people can be snuffed-out by remote control without scarifying a single “attacking soldier,” as if playing a video game. It sends shivers down the spine that we can play war as a video game but with real human casualties.
This scenario has led to a growing realization that war is a folly, which needs to be abolished permanently. Intellectuals and peace activists have embarked upon the task of mobilizing people to say ‘no’ to war and to look for peaceful solutions to resolve their issues. Finland, one of the most peaceful countries in the world, has always been very active to contribute to peace efforts around the world. Recently, a conference was held on ‘The abolition of war’ at the Åbo Akademi University Finland where world renowned experts from the fields of anthropology, biology, psychology, journalism and art presented their thoughts on the possibility of abolition of war in the future. The pertinent question always arises: Is the abolition of war really possible? Unfortunately, there have always been some war mongers who directly or indirectly support wars and justify it by presenting a host of excuses. Some blame genetic disposition responsible for all human atrocities. However, the latest research finds no correlation between war and genetic disposition, innate drives, or a killer human nature.
Anthropological research proves that warfare is not very old phenomenon but started some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, and this contradicts the popular misconceptions that war is part and parcel of human nature. For this and other reasons, Kaj Björkqvist, President-Elect of the International Society for Research on Aggression, strongly rejects the misconception that war is in our genes. Even if we think for a moment that we human beings have a gene for aggression which compels us to wage war, the question arises: are we destined to live this way forever? There is another question of common sense. Do we leave a person to die of a disease just because it lies in the genes? Certainly not; we try to cure the disease. The need is to understand that war is also a disease whether it lies in our genes or not. Hence, we have to cure and save humanity from it. Dr. Douglas P. Fry, a renowned anthropologist and the author of several books including ‘Beyond war’ (2007, Oxford) presents a thought-provoking argument to support that the abolition of war is possible. He has shown through anthropological research that there exist many peaceful societies some of which have never waged war. Europe is an example from recent history which was shaken by wars and destruction only sixty-six years ago, but nowadays even the idea of another war in Europe is inconceivable. If the abolition of war is possible in some parts of this earth, why can’t it be applied to the entire world? Isn’t it a logical argument? Hence, a future without war is conceivably possible. Achieving this objective requires untiring efforts on all fronts: at the individual, leadership and institutional levels.
The Dalai Lama is right when he says that if we want global disarmament, we need to start from internal disarmament of an individual. It is the actual foundation to build up a non-warring future and it should start from early childhood. Douglas P. Fry’s anthropological research proves that strong belief system based on peace values has been a landmark of various peace societies around the world. It raises the question as to what sort of human values we tend to inculcate into the minds of our children through formal and informal education.
Changing the mindset is imperative to move towards a future without war. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow says: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” In this regard, our educational curriculum needs to be revised since it has become a tool to propagate jingoism around the world. We need to teach our children that killing innocent people is not a thing of pride; but rather saving humanity from the perils of war is the act of real heroism. Moreover, we should rid ourselves of all those artifacts which refresh the memories of war and serve to justify the continuation of war. Krzysztof Wodiczko, the author of the book The Abolition of War (2012), emphasizes the need to abandon the ‘culture of war’ including war monuments which glorify war and aggression.
There also arises a need to revisit the concept of nationalism. The European countries, after waging horrible wars under the flags of nationalism, found the solution in building a transnational institution in the form of the European Union (EU). Regional integrations based on strong political and economic cooperation and sovereignty-sharing is a key to curtail jingoistic nationalism in a region. Strong institutions to counter purely self-interested national sovereignty and to promote international cooperation are cornerstones for a non-warring future. Apart from regional institutional bonds, there arises the need of an impartial global central body to prevent war between nations and to provide speedy justice without any discrimination. The United Nations was established to serve this purpose but its role has been questionable since it has itself sanctioned some recent wars. Hence, the UN needs to be reformed or replaced by a more effective institution that guarantees equal representation of all countries in decision-making matters.
John Horgan, the author of ‘The end of war’ (2012, Mcsweeney), argues that “war begins with human decision.” Hence, the most important ingredient to end war is a strong ‘will’ to do so. Ending war requires a strong, courageous and sincere leadership, which could turn this vision into reality. Judith Hand, the author of a very recent book ‘Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War’ (2014) believes that a non-warring future is possible within a few generations if we have an effective and visionary leadership. However, there is a need to realize that it’s not the sole responsibility of intellectuals, leaders and thinkers to work to achieve this objective. In fact, the onus lies on all of us to save this world from the dangers of wars.
There is no greater power on earth than people’s power. We, as individuals, need to realize that we are ‘global citizens’ of this earth before belonging to any state. To save this planet from death and destruction in this nuclear age, we need to reject warmongers and raise our voice against aggressive policies of our states. We need to realize that war is a parasite which not only feeds on the blood of our people but also drains our financial resources, thus depriving generations from a prosperous future. In fact, war is not a solution but pollution. When enough people realize this fact, the abolition of war will become inevitable.
Nazia Nazar is based in Finland and pursuing her studies in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at Abo Akademi University. She can be reached at email@example.com
|February 4, 2014||
Ousting A Democratically Elected Leader In Ukraine And Elsewhere
by Chandra Muzaffar, Countercurrents.org
If Ukraine is on the brink of a catastrophe, it is mainly because the present regime in Kiev and its supporters, backed by certain Western powers had violated a fundamental principle of democratic governance. They had ousted a democratically elected president through illegal means. President Viktor Yanukovich who had come to power through a free and fair election in 2010 should have been removed through the ballot-box.
His opponents not only betrayed a democratic principle. They subverted a ‘Peace Deal’ signed between them and Yanukovich on 21 February 2014 in which the latter had agreed to form a national unity government within 10 days that would include opposition representatives; reinstate the 2004 Constitution; relinquish control over Ukraine’s security services; and hold presidential and parliamentary elections by December 2014. According to the Deal, endorsed by Germany, France and Poland, Yanukovich would remain president until the elections.
His co-signatories had no intention of honouring the agreement. Without following procedures, parliament, with the backing of the military, voted immediately to remove Yanukovich and impeach him. The Parliamentary Speaker was elected interim President and after a few days a new regime was installed. One of the first acts of parliament was to proclaim that Ukrainian is the sole official language of the country, thus downgrading the Russian language, the mother-tongue of one-fifth of the population. Anti-Russian rhetoric which had become more strident than ever in the course of the protest against the Yanukovich government has reached a crescendo in the wake of the overthrow of the government.
The protest gives us an idea of some of the underlying issues that have brought Ukraine to the precipice. There was undoubtedly a great deal of anger in the Western part of the country, including Kiev, over the decision of the Russian-backed Yanukovich to reject closer economic ties with the European Union (EU) in favour of financial assistance from Moscow. It explains to some extent the massive demonstrations of the last few months. Police brutality, corruption within government circles, and cronyism associated with Yanukovich had further incensed the people.
But these legitimate concerns tell only one side of the story. The protest movement had also brought to the fore neo-Nazis and fascists sworn to violence. Armed and organised groups such as the Svoboda and the Right Sector provide muscle power to the protest. They are known to have targeted Jewish synagogues and Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. It is the militias associated with these groups that are in control of street politics in Kiev.
Elites in Germany, France, Britain, the United States and within the NATO establishment as a whole are very much aware of the role of neo-Nazi and fascist elements in the protest and in the current Kiev regime. Indeed, certain American and European leaders had instigated the demonstrators and were directly involved in the machinations to bring down the Yanukovich government. The US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, had in her infamous telephone conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine admitted that her country had spent 5 billion US dollars promoting anti-Russian groups in Ukraine. For the US and the EU, control over Ukraine serves at least two goals. It expands their military reach through NATO right up to the doorstep of Russia, challenging the latter’s time-honoured relationship with its strategic neighbour. It brings Ukraine within the EU’s economic sphere. Even as it is, almost half of Ukraine’s 35 billion dollar debt is owed to Western banks which would want the country to adopt austerity measures that would remunerate the banks.
It is largely because of these geopolitical and geo-economic challenges that Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is flexing his military muscles in Crimea, in the eastern Ukraine region, which not only has a preponderantly Russian-speaking population but is also home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Besides, Ukraine is the cradle of Russian civilisation. This is why Putin will go all out to protect Russian interests in Ukraine, but at the same time, there is every reason to believe that he will avoid a military confrontation and try to work out a political solution based upon the Peace Deal.
The catastrophe in Ukraine reveals five dimensions in the politics of the ouster of democratically elected governments. One, the determined drive to overthrow the government by dissidents and opponents which is often uncompromising. Two, the exploitation of genuine people related issues and grievances. Three, the mobilisation of a significant segment of the populace behind these mass concerns. Four, the resort to violence through militant groups often with a pronounced right-wing orientation. Five, the forging of strong linkages between domestic anti-government forces and Western governments and other Western actors, including banks and NGOs, whose collective aim is to perpetuate Western control and dominance or Western hegemony.
Some of these dimensions are also present in Venezuela where there is another concerted attempt to oust a democratically elected government. Some genuine economic grievances related to the rising cost of living and unemployment are being manipulated and distorted to give the erroneous impression that the Maduro government does not care for the people. President Maduro, it is alleged, is suppressing dissent with brutal force.
The truth is that a lot of the violence is emanating from groups linked to disgruntled elites who are opposed to the egalitarian policies pursued by Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. They are disseminating fake pictures through social media as part of their false propaganda about the Venezuelan government’s violence against the people --- pictures which have now been exposed for what they are by media analysts.
Support for this propaganda and for the street protests in Venezuela comes from US foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It has been estimated that in 2012 alone, the NED gave more than 1.3 million dollars to organisations and projects in Venezuela ostensibly to promote “human rights,” “democratic ideas” and “accountability.” The majority of Venezuelans have no doubt at all that this funding is to undermine a government which is not only determined to defend the nation’s independence in the face of Washington’s dominance but is also pioneering a movement to strengthen regional cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean as a bulwark against the US’s hegemonic agenda. It is because other countries in the region such as Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Paraguay know what the US elite is trying to do in Venezuela that they have described “the recent violent acts” in the country “ as attempts to destabilise the democratic order.”
A third country where a democratically elected leader is under tremendous pressure from street demonstrators at this juncture is Thailand. Though some of the issues articulated by the demonstrators are legitimate, the fact remains that they do not represent majority sentiment which is still in favour of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her exiled brother, former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. As in Ukraine and Venezuela, violence --- albeit on a much lower scale --- has seeped into the struggle for power between the incumbent and the protesters. However, foreign involvement is not that obvious to most of us. Both Yingluck and the protest movement are regarded as pro-Western. Nonetheless, there are groups in Washington and London who perceive the current government in Bangkok as more inclined towards China compared to the opposition Democratic Party or the protesters. Is this one of the reasons why a section of the mainstream Western media appears to be supportive of the demonstrations?
There are a number of other instances of democratically elected leaders being overthrown by illegal means. The most recent --- in July 2013 --- was the unjust ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt. In 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile was killed in a coup engineered by the CIA. Another democratically elected leader who was manoeuvred out of office and jailed as a result of a British-US plot was Mohammed Mosaddegh of Iran in 1953.
It is only too apparent that in most cases the ouster of democratically elected leaders have been carried out directly or indirectly by the self-proclaimed champions of democracy themselves! It reveals how hypocritical they are. What really matters to the elites in the US, Britain and other Western countries is not democracy but the perpetuation of their hegemonic power. Hegemony, not democracy, has always been their object of worship.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
|March 5, 2014||
A Medical Missionary’s Environmental Epiphany
by Herman Daly,The Daly News, Countercurrents.org
Dr. Paul Brand was the son of British missionary parents in South India where he grew up. He returned to England to study medicine, then went back to take care of people with leprosy in India, mainly doing reconstructive hand and foot surgery — some 3,000 operations over many years. He also spent some time in Ethiopia doing similar things, and finally ended up as director of the only leprosy hospital in the U.S., located in Carville, Louisiana. I believe that hospital closed about ten years ago, after Dr. Brand retired. He died in 2003. His son happened to be a student of mine at Louisiana State University (LSU), so that is how I met him. Medically he is credited with having established that leprosy is not the direct cause of decay or necrosis of the hands and feet universally observed in people with leprosy. Rather the damage to extremities is self-inflicted, resulting from the loss of sensation and inability to feel pain. Without pain there is no feedback to tell you that you are damaging yourself. Brand developed routines and practices to help avoid self-inflicted injuries, and wrote a book entitled Pain: the Gift that Nobody Wants. He also wrote the standard medical textbook on hand and foot surgery.
LSU is a big football school, and an assistant coach invented a super-cushioned helmet that much reduced head pain on impact. This was thought a great thing until Dr. Brand pointed out that head pain was what kept football players from breaking their necks. Would you rather have a headache or a broken neck?
So much for background. I want to focus on a paragraph that Dr. Brand wrote in 1985:
What led him to such a statement? Living in India, Ethiopia, and Louisiana — and witnessing the same thing in each place.
In India he received his first lesson in soils management at age six, from an old Indian farmer who reprimanded him and some other boys who carelessly broke the little turf dams on the terraced rice paddies along the mountain side while chasing frogs in the wet level terraces. The old man scooped up a handful of mud and said, this soil will feed my family year after year. But the soil has to stay up here. The water wants to carry the soil down the mountain to the river, and then to the sea. Do you think the water will bring it back up? No, they answered. Will you be able to bring it back up? No, grandfather. Will rocky hillsides without soil feed my family? No. Well, that is why the dams must be cared for. Do you understand? Yes, grandfather, we’re sorry. Returning to this area many years later Brand observed barren rocky hillsides — the result of government programs to use ex-prisoners to grow potatoes, but without first teaching them the wisdom of the old farmer.
In Ethiopia most of his leprosy patients were farmers, and that brought him again to the farms where he witnessed terrible erosion where there had once been trees and grasses. The Nile carried Ethiopian soil to Egypt. Farms grew poor crops, and the fields were full of large stones. But the stones were not so large that they could not be levered up and rolled to the edge of the field where they could have made useful walls instead of obstacles to tilling and harvesting. Why were such simple improvements not made, Brand asked. The peasants explained that if they made their fields look good and productive they would lose them to the ruling class. Someone from the city would claim that his ancestors had owned it, and the peasants had no chance in court. So injustice, as well as water and wind, contributed to erosion of the soil. People with leprosy who returned to the eroded farms did not have a good prognosis even if their leprosy was now under control.
The leprosarium at Carville, Louisiana, was just a stone’s throw from the Mississippi river. It dated from before levies had been built to contain the river. Therefore all the buildings and houses were built on stilts — maybe four to eight feet high. For a week or so each year water swirled under your house, but you got around in a skiff or pirogue. (Nowadays a fiberglass bass boat with a 200 horsepower Mercury outboard engine is the standard mode of transportation in Louisiana bayous.) Meanwhile the water deposited its silt before returning to its banks, transferring Midwestern topsoil to the Louisiana delta or rebuilding the eroding marshlands or barrier islands. Now the river is contained between levies to eliminate annual floods, so the silt is deposited in the river bottom rather than on the land, necessitating higher levies. Or the silt flows all the way out into the Gulf of Mexico and over the continental shelf, no longer rebuilding coastal marshlands that are now disappearing — and would have served New Orleans as a buffer against Hurricane Katrina. In addition to silt, the Mississippi carries fertilizer and pesticide runoff from Midwestern farms into the Gulf, creating a dead zone the size of New Jersey. “Cheap” corn and soybeans do not include the costs of lost seafood in the Gulf.
So in light of these experiences in Dr. Brand’s life, let us reread the first part of his statement:
A physician treats our internal organs — heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc. in order that we may live longer and better. But our lives depend on external organs as well, environmental life support systems. What good are our lungs if there are no trees and grasses capable of photosynthesis? What good is our digestive tract if the land won’t grow food? What good are our kidneys if the rivers run dry, or are toxic? I think it is not much of a stretch for a good physician to realize that health and wellness now depend as much on care of our collective external organs as on our individual internal organs. Reconstructing a patient’s hands and feet, and then sending him to slowly starve on eroded farmland is at best a partial cure.
The other part of Dr. Brand’s statement, his questions, is also important:
Environmental destruction, like other sins, is not just the result of ignorance. There is ignorance to be sure, but mostly we know what we are doing. We are caught up in structures that demand fast growth, rapid turnover, and quick profits. And that is facilitated both by ignorance of environmental costs, and by willingness to shift those costs on to others. Simple denial also plays a role — pie-in-the-sky savior fantasies of space colonization and belief in perpetual motion schemes — technological Gnosticism, I call it.
We all seem to suffer from a symptom of leprosy, we do not feel pain in our external organs and structures (our environmental extremities), and therefore do not stop the behavior that is damaging them. In part this is because often the benefits of the damaging behavior go to the people responsible for the behavior while the costs fall on others — the painful feedback is diverted to people who did not cause the damage. The fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico pay the cost of pesticide and fertilizer runoff caused by careless farming. Environmental costs have been shifted from those who caused them to those who did not.
It would be easy to say, “Well this is nothing new, just the same old prophets of doom in modern dress — there is nothing new under the sun.” But there is something new — the earth is now relatively full of us and all our stuff. In my lifetime world population has tripled, and the populations of livestock, automobiles, and refrigerators have vastly more than tripled. Meanwhile the size of the earth has stayed the same — so it is a lot more full. And the growing scale of the economy means that environmental and social cost-shifting is ever larger and more dangerous.
Consequently there are many more environmental problems than soil erosion. I focused on that because it was what led Dr. Brand to his realization. Other, newer environmental problems, many of them interrelated, include climate change, biodiversity loss, ozone layer depletion, overpopulation, oil depletion, etc. Not to mention modern warfare. I’ll spare you a complete litany.
Many environmentalists look at this list and despair. Humans, after all, they say, are just one more animal species and will over-consume and over-reproduce until they provoke a collapse — just like deer on an island or bacteria in a flask. But Christians like Dr. Brand, and other thoughtful people as well, cannot take that attitude. Yes, we are a part of the Creation, and share many commonalities with our fellow creatures, and we are kin to them by evolution. But we are inescapably the creature in charge — the one that bears the capability and responsibility of the imago Dei. Dr. Brand was an example and witness to that truth.
Herman Daly is an American ecological economist and professor at the School of Public Policy of University of Maryland, College Park in the United States. He was Senior Economist in the Environment Department of the World Bank, where he helped to develop policy guidelines related to sustainable development. He is closely associated with theories of a Steady state economy. He is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award
|February 26, 2014||
Youth Plan Mass Civil Disobedience to Protest Keystone XL This Sunday
by Peter Rothberg, AlterNet
This article is copyright the Nation, where it originally appeared, and is reprinted here with their permission.
Here we go again. With President Obama on the cusp of a decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, on March 2, hundreds of students and young people are expected to risk arrest in an act of civil disobedience at the White House to pressure President Obama to reject the project.
The sit-in is expected to be the largest act of civil disobedience by young people in the recent history of the environmental movement and it will be led by just the demographic that helped propel Obama to the presidency. The protest, known as “XL Dissent,” is meant to send a clear signal to President Obama that the base that helped elect him sees Keystone XL as a decision that will define his entire legacy.
“Obama was the first president I voted for, and I want real climate action and a rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Nick Stracco, a senior at Tulane University. “The people that voted him into office have made it absolutely clear what we want, and that’s to reject Keystone XL.”
The tar sands, also known as the oil sands, are one of the largest remaining deposits of oil in the world, and efforts to extract the resource from a mix of clay and other materials underneath Canada’s Boreal forest have created the biggest, and by the accounts of numerous scientists and environmental groups, one of the most environmentally devastating energy projects on earth. For details and background, the Natural Resources Defense Council has compiled an extensive document.
The Keystone XL fight has become an iconic issue for environmentally minded young people across the country, many of whom are involved in local campaigns to help stop the pipeline or the broader fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has spread to over 300 universities across the United States.
As 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben aptly puts it:
The “XL Dissent” protest on March 2 will begin with a march from Georgetown University to the White House. After a rally in Lafayette Square, hundreds of students and young people are expected to risk arrest at the White House fence. The day before the protest, students will meet for a nonviolent direct action training and fossil fuel divestment conference.
Peter Rothberg, the Nation's Associate Publisher, has been writing a blog covering the world of activism since 2003. A periodic radio commentator, Rothberg is a former speech-writer for civil rights leader Julian Bond and the editor of "Lived History: Lives We've Lost, 2012-13."
|March 2, 2014||
What's the Role of American Empire in the New World Order?
by Tom Engelhardt, AlterNet
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There is, it seems, something new under the sun.
Geopolitically speaking, when it comes to war and the imperial principle, we may be in uncharted territory. Take a look around and you’ll see a world at the boiling point. From Ukraine to Syria, South Sudan to Thailand, Libya to Bosnia, Turkey to Venezuela, citizen protest (left and right) is sparking not just disorganization, but what looks like, to coin a word, de-organization at a global level. Increasingly, the unitary status of states, large and small, old and new, is being called into question. Civil war, violence, and internecine struggles of various sorts are visibly on the rise. In many cases, outside countries are involved and yet in each instance state power seems to be draining away to no other state’s gain. So here’s one question: Where exactly is power located on this planet of ours right now?
There is, of course, a single waning superpower that has in this new century sent its military into action globally, aggressively, repeatedly -- and disastrously. And yet these actions have failed to reinforce the imperial system of organizing and garrisoning the planet that it put in place at the end of World War II; nor has it proven capable of organizing a new global system for a new century. In fact, everywhere it’s touched militarily, local and regional chaos have followed.
In the meantime, its own political system has grown gargantuan and unwieldy; its electoral process has been overwhelmed by vast flows of money from the wealthy 1%; and its governing system is visibly troubled, if not dysfunctional. Its rich are ever richer, its poor ever poorer, and its middle class in decline. Its military, the largest by many multiples on the planet, is nonetheless beginning to cut back. Around the world, allies, client states, and enemies are paying ever less attention to its wishes and desires, often without serious penalty. It has the classic look of a great power in decline and in another moment it might be easy enough to predict that, though far wealthier than its Cold War superpower adversary, it has simply been heading for the graveyard more slowly but no less surely.
Such a prediction would, however, be unwise. Never since the modern era began has a waning power so lacked serious competition or been essentially without enemies. Whether in decline or not, the United States -- these days being hailed as "the new Saudi Arabia" in terms of its frackable energy wealth -- is visibly in no danger of losing its status as the planet’s only imperial power.
What, then, of power itself? Are we still in some strange way -- to bring back the long forgotten Bush-era phrase -- in a unipolar moment? Or is power, as it was briefly fashionable to say, increasingly multipolar? Or is it helter-skelter-polar? Or on a planet whose temperatures are rising, droughts growing more severe, and future food prices threatening to soar (meaning yet more protest, violence, and disruption), are there even "poles" any more?
Here, in any case, is a reality of the initial 13 years of the twenty-first century: for the first time in at least a half a millennium, the imperial principle seems to be ebbing, and yet the only imperial power, increasingly incapable of organizing the world, isn’t going down.
If you survey our planet, the situation is remarkably unsettled and confusing. But at least two things stand out, and whatever you make of them, they could be the real news of the first decades of this century. Both are right before our eyes, yet largely unseen. First, the imperial principle and the great power competition to which it has been wedded are on the wane. Second and no less startling, war (global, intrastate, anti-insurgent), which convulsed the twentieth century, seems to be waning as well. What in the world does it all mean?
A Scarcity of Great Powers
Let’s start with the imperial part of the equation. From the moment the Europeans dispatched their cannon-bearing wooden ships on a violent exploration and conquest of the globe, there has never been a moment when one or more empires weren’t rising as others waned, or when at least two and sometimes several “great powers” weren’t competing for ways to divide the planetary spoils and organize, encroach upon, or take over spheres of influence.
In the wake of World War II, with the British Empire essentially penniless and the German, Japanese, and Italian versions of empire crushed, only two great powers were left. They more or less divided the planet unequally between them. Of the two, the United States was significantly wealthier and more powerful. In 1991, after a nearly half-century-long Cold War in which those superpowers at least once came to the edge of a nuclear exchange, and blood was spilled in copious amounts on “the peripheries” in “limited war,” the last of the conflicts of that era -- in Afghanistan -- helped take down the Soviet Union. When its army limped home from what its leader referred to as “the bleeding wound” and its economy imploded, the USSR unexpectedly -- and surprisingly peacefully -- disappeared.
Which, of course, left one. The superest of all powers of any time -- or so many in Washington came to believe. There had never, they were convinced, been anything like it. One hyperpower, one planet: that was to be the formula. Talk of a “peace dividend” disappeared quickly enough and, with the U.S. military financially and technologically dominant and no longer worried about a war that might quite literally end all wars, a new era seemed to begin.
There had, of course, been an ongoing “arms race” between great powers since at least the end of the nineteenth century. Now, at a moment when it should logically have been over, the U.S. instead launched an arms race of one to ensure that no other military would ever be capable of challenging its forces. (Who knew then that those same forces would be laid low by ragtag crews of insurgents with small arms, homemade roadside bombs, and their own bodies as their weapons?)
As the new century dawned, a crew led by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ascended to power in Washington. They were the first administration ever largely born of a think tank (with the ambitious name Project for a New Century). Long before 9/11 gave them their opportunity to set the American military loose on the planet, they were already dreaming of an all-American imperium that would outshine the British or Roman empires.
Of course, who doesn’t know what happened next? Though they imagined organizing a Pax Americana in the Middle East and then on a planetary scale, theirs didn’t turn out to be an organizational vision at all. They got bogged down in Afghanistan, destabilizing neighboring Pakistan. They got bogged down in Iraq, having punched a hole through the heart of the planet's oil heartlands and set off a Sunni-Shiite regional civil war, whose casualty lists continue to stagger the imagination. In the process, they never came close to their dream of bringing Tehran to its knees, no less establishing even the most rudimentary version of that Pax Americana.
They were an imperial whirlwind, but every move they made proved disastrous. In effect, they lent a hand to the de-imperialization of the planet. By the time they were done and the Obama years were upon us, Latin America was no longer an American “backyard”; much of the Middle East was a basketcase (but not an American one); Africa, into which Washington continues to move military forces, was beginning to destabilize; Europe, for the first time since the era of French President Charles de Gaulle, seemed ready to say “no” to American wishes (and was angry as hell).
And yet power, seeping out of the American system, seemed to be coagulating nowhere. Russian President Vladimir Putin has played a remarkably clever hand. From his role in brokering a Syrian deal with Washington to the hosting of the Olympics and a winning medal count in Sochi, he’s given his country the look of a great power. In reality, however, it remains a relatively ramshackle state, a vestige of the Soviet era still, as in Ukraine, fighting a rearguard action against history (and the inheritors of the Cold War mantle, the U.S. and the European Union).
The EU is an economic powerhouse, but in austerity-gripped disarray. While distinctly a great economic force, it is not in any functional sense a great power.
China is certainly the enemy of choice both for Washington and the American public. And it is visibly a rising power, which has been putting ever more money into building a regional military. Still, it isn’t fighting and its economic and environmental problems are staggering enough, along with its food and energy needs, that any future imperial destiny seems elusive at best. Its leadership, while more bullish in the Pacific, is clearly in no mood to take on imperial tasks. (Japan is similarly an economic power with a chip on its shoulder, putting money into creating a more expansive military, but an actual imperial repeat performance seems beyond unlikely.)
There was a time when it was believed that as a group the so-called BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (and some added Turkey) -- would be the collective powerhouse of a future multi-polar planet. But that was before the Brazilian, South African, Indian, and Turkish economies stopped looking so rosy.
In the end, the U.S. aside, great powers remain scarcer than hen’s teeth.
War: Missing in Action
Now, let’s move on to an even more striking and largely unremarked upon characteristic of these years. If you take one country -- or possibly two -- out of the mix, war between states or between major powers and insurgencies has largely ceased to exist.
Admittedly, every rule has its exceptions and from full-scale colonial-style wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) to small-scale conflicts mainly involving drones or air power (Yemen, Somalia, Libya), the United States has seemingly made traditional war its own in the early years of this century. Nonetheless, the Iraq war ended ignominiously in 2011 and the Afghan War seems to be limping to something close to an end in a slow-motion withdrawal this year. In addition, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has just announced the Pentagon’s intention to cut its boots-on-the-ground contingent significantly in the years to come, a sign that future conflicts are far less likely to involve full-scale invasions and occupations on the Eurasian land mass.
Possible exception number two: Israel launched a 34-day war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 and a significant three-week military incursion into the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 (though none of this added up to anything like the wars that country fought in the previous century).
Otherwise when it comes to war -- that is, to sending armies across national boundaries or, in nineteenth-century style, to distant lands to conquer and “pacify” -- we’re left with almost nothing. It’s true that the last war of the previous century between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea straggled six months into this one. There was as well the 2008 Russian incursion into Georgia (a straggler from the unraveling of the Soviet Union). Dubbed the “five-day war,” it proved a minor affair (if you didn’t happen to be Georgian).
There was also a dismal U.S.-supported Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 (and a Kenyan invasion of that mess of a country but not exactly state in 2011). As for more traditional imperial-style wars, you can count them on one hand, possibly one finger: the 2013 French intervention in Mali (after a disastrous U.S./NATO air-powered intervention in Libya destabilized that neighboring country). France has also sent its troops elsewhere in Africa, most recently into the Central African Republic, but these were at best micro-versions of nineteenth century colonial wars. Turkey has from time to time struckacross its border into Iraq as part of an internal conflict with its Kurdish population.
In Asia, other than rising tensions and a couple of ships almost bumping on the high seas, the closest you can get to war in this century was a minor border clash in April 2001 between India and Bangladesh.
Now, the above might look like a sizeable enough list until you consider the record for the second half of the twentieth century in Asia alone: The Korean War (1950-1953), a month-long border war between China and India in 1962, the French and American wars in Vietnam (1946-1975), the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978; China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979; and Indian-Pakistani wars in 1965, 1971, and 1999. (The Bangladeshi war of independence in 1971 was essentially a civil war.) And that, of course, leaves out the carnage of the first 50 years of a century that began with a foreign intervention in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In fact, judged by almost any standard from just about any period in the previous two centuries, war is now missing in action, which is indeed something new under the sun.
Driving With the Lights Off
So an imperial era is on the wane, war in absentia, and no rising great power contenders on the horizon. Historically speaking, that’s a remarkable scorecard in an otherwise appalling world.
Of course, the lack of old-style war hardly means no violence. In the 13 years of this new century, the scorecard on internal strife and civil war, often with external involvement, has been awful to behold: Yemen (with the involvement of the Saudis and the Americans), Syria (with the involvement of the Russians, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Iranians, Hezbollah, the Iraqis, the Turks, and the Americans), and so on. The record, including the Congo (numerous outside parties), South Sudan, Darfur, India (a Maoist insurgency), Nigeria (Islamic extremists), and so on, couldn’t be grimmer.
Moreover, 13 years at the beginning of a century is a rather small sampling. Just think of 1914 and the great war that followed. Before the present Ukrainian crisis is over, for instance, Russian troops could again cross a border in force (as in 2008) along the still fraying edges of the former Soviet Union. It’s also possible (though developments seem to be leading in quite a different direction) that either the Israelis or the Americans could still launch an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, increasing the chaos and violence in the Middle East. Similarly, an incident in the edgy Pacific might trigger an unexpected conflict between Japan and China. (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently compared this moment in Asia to the eve of World War I in Europe and his country and China to England and Germany.) And of course there are the “resource wars” expected on an increasingly devastated planet.
Still, for the moment no rising empire and no states fighting each other. So who knows? Maybe we are off the beaten path of history and in terra incognita. Perhaps this is a road we’ve never been down before, an actual new world order. If so, we’re driving it with our headlights off, the wind whipping up, and the rain pouring down on a planet that may itself, in climate terms, be heading for uncharted territory.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), has just been published in November.
|February 26, 2014||
Humanity Has Got to Come to Grips with the World's Fresh Water Crisis
by Maude Barlow, AlterNet
Have you heard? The world is running out of accessible clean water.
Humanity is polluting, mismanaging, and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared. The Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the U.S. breadbasket will be gone “in our lifetime,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
By 2030, global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent, a surefire recipe for great suffering. Five hundred scientists recently told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter “a new geologic age” and that the majority of the planet’s population lives within 31 miles of an endangered water source.
Yet in election after election the world over, no one’s paying attention to this urgent issue.
That’s why I’m calling for a new water ethic that places water and its protection at the heart of all policy and practice. This may strike you as far-fetched, but we must do it now. The future of the planet and the human race both depend on it.
And taking our water crisis seriously will change everything.
What would farm policy look like if we understood that the global food system is depleting local watersheds through the export of a torrent of “virtual water”? Vast quantities of water are embedded in apples, corn, and other crops.
How would trade policy change if we understood that global trade deals give global firms the right to claim “ownership” of the water they use in other countries?
Would our energy policies change if we realized that water-guzzling biofuels may be more environmentally dangerous than the fossil fuels they’re supposed to replace?
This new water ethic should honor four principles.
First, water is a human right and must be more equitably shared. The United Nations has recognized that drinking water and sanitation are fundamental rights and that governments have obligations not only to supply these services to their people but also to prevent harm to source water. This provides an important tool to local communities as they confront dangerous mines, dams, and fossil-fuel extraction operations around the world.
Second, water is a common heritage of humanity and of future generations and must be protected as a public trust in law and practice. Water must never be bought, hoarded, sold, or traded as a commodity on the open market and governments must maintain the water commons for the public good, not private gain. While private businesses have a role in helping find solutions to our water crisis, they shouldn’t be allowed to determine access to this basic public service. The public good trumps the corporate drive to make profits when it comes to water.
Third, water has rights too, outside its usefulness to humans. Water belongs to the Earth and other species. Our belief in “unlimited growth” and our treatment of water as a tool for industrial development have put the earth’s watersheds in jeopardy. Water isn’t merely a resource for our convenience, pleasure, and profit. It’s the essential element in a living ecosystem. We need to adapt our laws and practices to ensure the protection of water and the restoration of watersheds — a crucial antidote to global warming.
Finally, I deeply believe that water can teach us how to live together if only we will let it. There is enormous potential for water conflict in a world of rising demand and diminishing supply. But just as water can be a source of disputes, conflict, and violence, water can bring people, communities, and nations together in the shared search for solutions.
Preserving water supplies will require more collaborative and sustainable ways of growing food, producing energy, and trading across borders. It will demand robust democratic governance.
It is my deepest hope that water can become nature’s gift to humanity and teach us how to tread more lightly on the earth — in peace and respect with one another.
|February 24, 2014||
Mr. President: Regulate Our Emissions Now or We Face Extinction
by Thom Hartmann, AlterNet
President Obama has decided that since Congress won’t act on anything, he’s going to get things done with his regulatory agencies. He may want to start with the EPA if he wants humans to continue living on this planet over the next few generations.
There’s a crisis in the arctic, and we’re helping cause it. And the EPA may be able to do something about it.
Here’s the situation: As greenhouse gases increase, our planet warms – and CO2 is now above 400 parts per million for the first time in the 165,000-year history of humans on this planet. This January was, worldwide, the fourth warmest on history and arctic sea ice was the fourth-lowest level in the history of satellite measurements.
As the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes, “In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface.” This is fancy science-speak for “temperatures are associated with atmospheric pressure.”
You’ll recall from your fourth-grade science class that the eye of a hurricane is the point of lowest barometric pressure. And that the intensity of a storm front – like when a giant thunderstorm rolls through – is largely a function of the difference in the temperature and pressure differences behind and in front of the front.
Which takes us to one theory about why it’s so damn cold in DC and the rest of the US east of the Rockies, and so hot in Alaska and California.
The arctic is warming a lot faster than the mid-latitudes like most of the United States. The Danish Meterological Institute notes that average temperatures in the arctic have been between 9 and 27 degrees F above normal over the past few weeks.
There used to be a huge temperature difference between the US and the arctic, and that temperature difference – and the pressure difference associated with it – used to maintain a giant wall of air north of us that kept the Jet Stream in place. The Jet Stream – a river of air that runs around the world just south of the Arctic – used to keep cold polar air over the north pole. It did so because of the big difference in temperatures and pressures between us and the Arctic.
But now that the arctic has warmed so much – that 27 degrees F measured just a few weeks ago – that difference in temperature and pressure isn’t so great.
The Jet Stream is going to keep rolling along – in part it’s doing so because of the rotation of the earth, which hasn’t stopped – but without that giant wall of air to hold it in place, the main thing that’s controlling where it can go are mountains. And we have a big chain of them that runs from Alaska down to New Mexico that we generally refer to as the Rockies.
Which may well explain why it is that the Jet Stream is being kept above the area from Anchorage to Los Angeles – keeping that area very warm – while just east of the Rockies it’s drooling all the way down to Texas and Georgia. And when the Jet Stream falls, it lets the cold polar air slide off the North Pole like a man’s hat falling over his face, and that cold polar air makes it insanely frigid here.
This is a big, big problem for a bunch of reasons, like how it’s screwing with our weather, but more importantly, it may well be the beginning of a catastrophic “positive feedback loop” of warming in the arctic. When the cold polar air comes down here, warmer air from other parts of the world goes up toward the North Pole. And when it gets there, it makes the North Pole warm up even faster.
Beyond the damage this is doing to the Arctic, the biggest danger here is that a thawing arctic could release millions of tons of methane frozen below the arctic. And there’s a lot of methane up there, as NASA’s Dr. Charles Miller noted in an interview with me a few months ago. He noted that it’s estimated that “there are approximately one thousand eight hundred billion metric tons of carbon sequestered…” in the arctic. You can see how much that is when you contrast it that with the 350 billion tons that we have pulled out of the earth as fossil fuels, burned, and dumped into our atmosphere since the Civil War and the beginning of the industrial revolution.
As Dr. Miller noted, most of that won’t be free any day soon, but it’s still a huge loaded gun pointed at our heads. Particularly if the carbon that’s released comes out as methane (CH4) as opposed to Carbon Dioxide (CO2). This is a big deal because methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than is Carbon Dioxide.
Which brings us to the most recent satellite views and air measurements of the arctic – from just the past few weeks.
As Sam Carana notes over at the Arctic News blog, there’s been a virtual explosion of methane melting up from under the water and ice of the arctic over the past few weeks.
This could represent a tipping point that we’re either close to or have already passed when more and more warming in the arctic leads that region to release more and more carbon into the atmosphere. That carbon then speeds up the warming of the arctic, which speeds up the release of more carbon, spinning out of control.
This is a scenario the planet has seen before – five times in a big way, and few other smaller ones. We refer to them as extinctions, as you can see over at www.lasthours.org.
Which brings us back to the EPA. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that the EPA has the authority to regulate the atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide. While the fossil fuel industry was back before the Supreme Court today arguing against that, it’s the law right now.
If there’s even a small chance of an extinction – the death of more than half of all life on earth – the President and the EPA should be acting today. No matter how much the barons of carbon – from the Koch brothers to ExxonMobil to TransCanada – may dislike it, the weird behavior of the Jet Stream is warning us right now, today, that we have to do something and do it quickly.
Mr. President, please move forward with your instructions to the EPA to regulate and reduce our Carbon Dioxide emissions. Now.
Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — and What We Can Do to Stop It."
|February 25, 2014||
Keystone PipeLIES Exposed: The Truth Is that Stopping the KXL Matters
by Dave Saldana, AlterNet
It's difficult to name an issue that is more fundamental to humankind than a functional global environment. In American society, it would be even more difficult to find agreement on what can and must be done to ensure that our actions do not render our global ecosystem uninhabitable.
First, it would be near impossible to reach consensus on the central premise, that human action impacts the environment and could eventually damage it to the extent that society as we understand it could not function.
The vast and overwhelming weight of scientific research is virtually unanimously concludes that humans’ burning fossil fuels in ever-increasing quantities over the past two centuries caused Earth’s temperature to rise, and continuing to do so could yield devastating results. The research comes from a variety of fields, including climatology, economics, and national security, and from sources with unimpeachable credentials and reliability.
And yet, there remains a stubborn and defiant cabal of Americans who refuse to believe that the phenomenon is real. Though the warnings on climate change have been increasingly troubling and urgent, the so-called “climate deniers” —including many elected officials— shrug them off, or more derisively spurn them as part of an elaborate hoax.
Complicating the matter are the twin offspring of our current economic crisis—the quest for jobs, and the need for low-cost energy. A promised solution to both of these comes in the form of newly economically feasible, unconventional fuels. From natural gas and shale oil made accessible through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to petroleum rich but difficult-to-process tar sands, the fuel production industry promises that exploiting those resources will produce cheap energy and bountiful of jobs.
However, to make immense petroleum reserves buried beneath Canada’s boreal forest economically viable, they must have access to the refineries and global markets that yield the highest profits.
Enter, the Keystone XL pipeline.
The proposed pipeline would connect tar sands extraction facilities in northern Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas, from which it can be exported to the international market. Its proposed route traverses the central United States, through the Plains states on its way to Port Arthur, Texas, the home to some of the world’s largest refineries.
TransCanada, the Canadian corporation behind the project, promises that the pipeline will create thousands of U.S. jobs, provide U.S. households with a reliable source of low-cost fuel, and will lessen U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East.
Those who oppose the pipeline and tar sands exploitation believe TransCanada’s promises are a tissue of lies. They say it will create precious few jobs, exacerbate climate change, endanger vital natural resources in the American heartland, and spread toxins in already disadvantaged communities. They call it an "all risk, no reward" proposition for the American people.
The mainstream news media have fallen into the comfortable, formulaic he-said-she-said coverage that may seem balanced, it does little to explain the competing interests in such a highly complicated matter.
This report and short film, "Keystone PipeLIES Exposed," seeks to fill the gap left by analysis-free media coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline controversy. Obviously, we can neither prove nor disprove the claims made by TransCanada and its opponents; neither the corporation’s lofty promises nor the opposition’s ominous warnings could be tested unless the pipeline is built. Which, of course, would render the debate moot.
We can, however, look to the past.
Keystone XL would not be the first pipeline to move tar sands petroleum across the United States, so there is real-life evidence of what happens when tar sands product is piped through communities. There is also substantiation for the argument that alternative energy resources would be a greater economic boon to the United States, creating jobs and providing genuine energy independence.
The decision to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline project is presently in President Barack Obama's hands. He has expressed doubt about the project’s benefits and some concern about its potential impacts on the environment. This has many Keystone opponents feeling optimistic.
But the political process is fraught with intrigue that frequently comes in the form of millions of dollars, of whichTransCanada and its allies in the American Petroleum Institute have many more than their adversaries do. We will also investigate how the public debate has been shaped to this point, and how grassroots activism has impacted the political process.
We must also make this point very clear: we have an opinion and an objective in producing this report and our film.
Our opinion is based upon our research and the evidence we encountered, which compels us to conclude that the Keystone XL pipeline project is a bad idea. The evidence, which will be laid out in the sections to follow, dictates that projections of job creation are grossly inflated; that alternatives would provide greater benefits to the American economy and national energy security; and that risks to the environment, both globally and locally, overwhelmingly militate for Keystone’s rejection.
Our objective is to present the evidence accurately, to that end that you also will conclude, and tell President Obama, that Keystone XL is not in the best interests of the United States of America.
Tell the State Department what you think about Keystone XL by taking action here.
Dave Saldana is Director, Writer, and Producer of "Keystone PipeLIES Exposed," a new short film that is a production of the Center for Media and Democracy Investigative Fund.
|March 16, 2014||
The Closest Humanity Ever Came to Preventing Its Own Extinction from Climate Change
by Marty Kaplan, AlterNet
Those who tell the stories rule the world, it’s said, but it’s hard to tell a story unless you know the ending.
We don’t yet know the ending of the climate change story. The beginning of the ending happened in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, where delegates from 37 industrialized nations and the European Union agreed to the binding greenhouse gas reductions known as the Kyoto Protocol. This is the best the people of the world have been able to do so far to prevent our own extinction. Unfortunately, the Kyoto emission cuts didn’t go into force until 2008; Canada, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, wouldn’t sign it; the U.S. didn’t ratify it, nor did Australia, one of the world’s top coal producers; China, India and the rest of the developing world weren’t covered by it; and its limits lasted only until 2012. The result of the treaty was that 20 percent of the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide since people lived in caves occurred between 2000 and 2011.
When 2012 arrived, the world, meeting in Doha, gave itself an extension until 2020. But because China (now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the U.S.), India (in third place), Brazil and the developing world were again given a pass, and the U.S., Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine didn’t sign on, the caps currently in effect cover only 15 percent of the world’s emissions — making way for last year’s news that for the first time since millions of years ago, the concentration of carbon dioxide blanketing the earth hit 400 parts per million.
So when 2020 rolls around, and the Kyoto Protocol expires, what plan will be in effect for the decade beyond? Scientists say our fate will likely be sealed by 2030: “Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies.”
These coming 15 years of negotiation and enforcement are arguably the most important 15 years in human history. If we want to have a meaningful agreement in place for 2020, a plan the U.S., Russia, China, India and the rest of the developed and developing world will commit to and that will actually move us back from the brink, we better move our global ass.
The body that will negotiate the next deal, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, meets annually. It has given itself until its 2015 meeting in Paris to come up with a plan that’s better than a suicide note. Later this year, there’ll be a U.N. climate change meeting in Lima, Peru, but Paris 2015 is le grand enchilada, when the world will call its own bluff.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wants the world to know what’s at stake in Paris. He’s announced a September 2014 climate change summit in New York to hold the world’s leaders’ feet to the fire, to put them on the spot to make bold commitments now. The presidents of the U.S. and China will be there, as will heads and ministers of more than 190 other countries. The 2014 summit offers a priceless opportunity for climate change to grab the world’s attention and change the narrative — to raise awareness and understanding of global warming, to activate people’s civic engagement with the crisis, to hear about mitigation and solutions, to demonstrate to political and business leaders that there is a deep hunger for them to lead.
I wonder what would happen if the world’s storytellers and artists were to throw themselves into making the 2014 summit succeed. Invite the wizards of digital creation and distribution, the social media entrepreneurs and software geniuses, the networks and studios, to lend their talents to a communication campaign. Imagine if film-, video- and game-makers, musicians, photographers, screenwriters, graphic novelists, comedians, actors, essayists and fashionistas were inspired to tell the tale of climate change. Think of what designers, logo makers, branders and advertisers could contribute. Picture entertainment and sports celebrities using their fame to spread the message. Take advantage of the insights of pollsters, market researchers, audience analysts, big data crunchers, behavioral scientists, neuroscientists, social scientists. Ask doctors and public health experts to tell us what carbon and methane pollution already are doing to our bodies, and how global warming is spreading infectious diseases where they haven’t penetrated before. Build alliances and coalitions with environmental advocates, grassroots movements, NGOs, religious and business leaders, philanthropists and foundations, mayors whose cities are threatened by floods, skiers who can’t find snow, farmers and ranchers devastated by drought, indigenous peoples facing extinction, young people who can’t believe how inadequate, even insane, the world’s response has been so far.
Make the narrative so compelling that the news media won’t be able to escape covering it — not just as a one-day summit story, but as the most important story of our time.
Of course, the global fossil fuel industry won’t take this lying down. Already, no doubt, their counter-narrative is being formulated; their charge that climate change is a "hoax" was only the first wave in a hugely well-financed disinformation campaign using the dark arts of propaganda and enabling the political dysfunction that billions of legal extortion can buy.
Last week, speaking in Indonesia, Secretary of State John Kerry said we’re at a tipping point, calling climate change “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Global warming is as threatening as the asteroid that caused the extinction of three-quarters of the plant and animal species on earth 66 million years ago.
I don’t know if apocalyptic warnings about unthinkable human misery are the best way to mobilize the world’s people to pressure their leaders not to make Paris 2015 a joke. Maybe a message of optimism about what we can accomplish — a change of genre from horror to heroism — is a smarter approach. But I do know that if the most creative and committed lovers of this planet don’t use all their genius and all their power to make this present moment count, we’ll have to come up with a better story to tell our grandchildren than the one about how the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil and China were the bad guys who stole their effing futures.
|March 2, 2014||
Alberta Doctor Says Canada Lying About Tar Sands Health Impacts
by Dr. John O'Connor , AlterNet
WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2014 (ENS) – The governments of Alberta and Canada have been “lying,” to cover up the health impacts of the Canadian tar sands industry on northern Alberta communities, a Canadian medical doctor told U.S. senators at a news conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Dr. John O’Connor, a family physician who serves mostly aboriginal patients between Fort McKay and Fort McMurray, appealed to the lawmakers “to keep up the pressure. This is an ongoing tragedy. A total disgrace.”
Dr. O’Connor was invited to brief two U.S. Senators on the health effects of extracting, refining, transporting and burning the world’s largest deposits of bitumen, or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta.
Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who serves on the committee, invited Dr. O’Connor to Washington to brief them on his experiences.
Saying the health impacts of tar sands oil are being ignored, the two senators Wednesday called on Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama Administration to conduct “an immediate and comprehensive study” of the public health risks to communities from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry diluted bitumen from Alberta, across the U.S.-Canada border to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
“Health miseries follow tar sands – from extraction to transport to refining to waste disposal,” Senator Boxer told reporters at the news conference.
O’Connor said he came to Washington “with absolutely no political agenda” but felt he had to act as an “advocate for patients” because his frequent calls for Canadian authorities to take precautionary measures of safeguard the health of northern Alberta communities have been ignored.
“In my experience, when pressure is exerted outside Canada, the government reacts,” said O’Connor at the Washington news conference.
“These are published, peer-reviewed studies that indicate that the government of Alberta and Canada have been lying, misrepresenting the impact of industry on the environment,” said O’Connor.
The Alberta physician cited statistics for rare cancers that are now 400 times more frequent than would be expected in the tiny community of Fort Chipewyan, which lies just north of the oil sands.
O’Connor pointed to the case of Fort Chipewyan Councillor John Chadi who fell ill last fall just 48 hours after being sworn into office. He was diagnosed with rare, incurable bile duct cancer, also found in other people living nearby.
The Alberta government denies any link between the oil sands industry and cancer, stating on its website that there is “insufficient evidence to link the incidence of cancer in Fort Chipewyan to oil sands operations” and rates of cancer are “within the expected range.”
O’Connor said Canadian physicians are afraid of repercussions, “if they dared to speak ‘health issues and tar sands’ in the same sentence.”
But he told the news conference of a December 2013 study by scientists from the University of Michigan and UC Irvine showing that rates of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have soared since 2004, particularly among men who live downwind of emissions from the tar sands operations.
One of those scientists, Dr. Stuart Batterman, professor of environmental health sciences at the U. Michigan School of Public Health, was also at Wednesday’s news conference.
“We need to be proactive and avoid this situation in the first place,” Batterman said. He said the problem should be solved before cancer develops, not relying on damage control after the disease has appeared.
Boxer told reporters at the news conference, “We need to clearly understand that as tar sands oil flows to our Gulf Coast refineries, it will increase the toxic pollution that already plagues communities like Port Arthur, Texas, which is near many refineries that will process tar sands.”
Hilton Kelley, a community representative from Port Arthur, told the news conference that his city is already on the U.S. EPA’s list of cities with dangerous ozone levels, and its residents suffer from asthma, respiratory ailments, skin irritations, and cancer. Tar sands will add another threat to Port Arthur and other communities that are already in distress.
“To get to the Gulf Coast, tar sands will be transported by pipeline through communities in environmentally sensitive areas in six states. We know from experience how harmful this can be, because tar sands oil is very difficult to clean up when a spill occurs,” said Boxer.
In their letter to Secretary Kerry requesting a public health study of the Keystone XL pipeline, the senators wrote, “Tar sands oil is very difficult to clean up when a spill occurs, and a 2010 tar sands pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River still has not been resolved.”
“In neighborhoods in Detroit and Chicago, massive open piles of tar sands waste byproduct, known as “pet coke,” have resulted in billowing black clouds containing concentrated heavy metals. Children playing baseball have been forced off the field to seek cover from the clouds of black dust that pelted homes and cars,” the senators wrote.
First proposed by the Alberta company TransCanada in 2008, Keystone XL requires a Presidential Permit because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border into Montana.
The State Department is responsible for reviewing applications for cross-border oil pipelines, deciding whether the pipeline would serve the U.S. national interest and making a recommendation to the President, who makes the final decision.
The Keystone XL pipeline is now in the National Interest Determination/Final Decision phase after years of environmental impact reviews and challenges to those reviews.
In their letter requesting an assessment of the public health risks, Boxer and Whitehouse wrote, “The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was woefully inadequate regarding human health impacts, and we believe it is critically important that peer-reviewed research on these issues is fully considered before any decision is made on the Keystone XL pipeline.”
“We believe that putting more Americans at risk for asthma, cancer, and other serious health impacts is not in our national interest,” the senators wrote to Kerry. “Clearly much more needs to be done before any final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is made, and we urge you to complete a comprehensive human health impacts study – nothing less than the health of our families is at stake.”
|March 11, 2014||
By the Way, Your Home Is On Fire: The Climate of Change and the Dangers of Stasis
by Rebecca Solnit, AlterNet
To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.
Call it a nightmare that passes for good news. Recently, the New York Times optimistically headlined a front-page piece by reporters Coral Davenport and Steven Erlanger, "U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin." It offered an eerie overview of where the administration of the president who came into office committed to reversing global warming has ended up. If there’s "green" left in his presidency, it’s evidently the green of envy -- that's what some of his advisors believe countries like Russia will feel on learning that, with our new frackable energy wealth, we are going to be "Saudi America" in a decade or two. Then, the implication is, Washington will really be able to throw its weight around geopolitically.
The Times piece began, "The crisis in Crimea is heralding the rise of a new era of American energy diplomacy as the Obama administration tries to deploy the vast new supply of natural gas in the United States as a weapon to undercut the influence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine and Europe." Admittedly, given the lack of facilities for exporting those new reserves of natural gas, this isn’t going to happen any time soon. Still, filled with hair-raising quotes -- "'In World War II, we were the arsenal of democracy,' said Robert McNally, who was the senior director for international energy issues on the National Security Council during the Bush administration. 'I think we’re going to become the arsenal of energy'" -- it describes an approach that’s been caught with eerie accuracy by Michael Klare under the label "petro-machismo" in a piece at the Nation magazine.
According to the Times, in 2011 Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, set up an 85-person bureau to channel "the domestic energy boom into a geopolitical tool to advance American interests around the world." In a sentence that goes right to the heart of the matter in the sixth year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Times article pointed out that "the administration’s strategy has attracted unlikely allies, including major oil and gas producers like ExxonMobil and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill..." Amusingly, in the online version, that ill-chosen phrase "unlikely allies" has been expunged and the sentence rewritten (without any indication of a change or correction) -- since, in the Green Revolution president's new version of energy geopolitics, ExxonMobil and its big energy compatriots are now clearly “likely” allies.
There’s little new in an imperial power (or wannabe) using its control over energy resources as a source of geopolitical influence. (See: the United States in the twentieth century; see: Russia today.) In fact, in normal times on a different planet, the Obama administration’s new energy path would pass for a sensible approach to maximizing national strength. As it happens, these are not normal times and we are not on the planet we once thought we knew. As a result, this supposed renaissance of American global energy and power, which will put the production of ever more fossil fuels on the American agenda for decades, is in climate change terms the path to hell. No matter who hails it, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Solnit makes vividly clear, the new normal, the logical, the obvious, the prudent is these days a formula for, and a guarantee of, a planetary train wreck. And if anyone cares about irony at all a couple of decades from now, this could well be Barack Obama’s true legacy. --Tom
|March 11, 2014||
Senate Democrats Burn the Midnight Oil to Address Climate Change
by Alex Kane, AlterNet
28 Democratic Party members held an overnight Senate session to raise the alarm over climate change. The Senators’ efforts to amplify the issue of global warming lasted for 15 straight hours.
“Climate change is real. It’s here,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. He then said those who believe it isn’t a reality--like many members of the Republican Party--don’t have “a valid point of view.”
The same group of Democrats have been working together by holding weekly meetings with environmental activists, lobbyists and corporate leaders who support their climate change policies. While they recognize no climate change legislation will be passed in this session, they’re trying to plant the seeds so that effective bills could be passed in the future.
While Republicans criticized the gathering, the White House praised it. “We commend those who are participating because it’s a very important subject that the president, as you know, is concerned about and has a climate action plan dedicated to addressing,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. But what the White House may not have liked are demands to halt the Keystone XL pipeline.
For three hours, no Democrats mentioned the pipeline, which has become a lightning rod for criticism and split Democrats. Climate change activists have made stopping the pipeline, which would transport tar sands through the U.S. and burn up oil, causing a massive carbon footprint. In February, a State Department report stated that the pipeline would have little impact on the environment, potentially clearing the way for its approval.
On the Senate floor, though, Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine had no kind words for the proposed pipeline. “It would be very good thing if the president right now rejected the use of tar sands oil in the Keystone pipeline,” Kaine said. “Why would we embrace tar sands oil and backslide to a dirtier tomorrow?”
|March 11, 2014||
Cercle Universel des Ambassadeurs de la Paix
Universal Ambassador Peace Circle
Cercle Universel des Ambassadeurs de la Paix France/Suisse
by Gabrielle Simond
Download pdf document: anglais
Download pdf document: espagnol
Download pdf document: francais
Download pdf document: portugais
voici la nouvelle n° 23 concernant le travail de paix de certains membres
du cercle universel des ambassadeurs de la paix
nous attendons vos textes pour préparer la 25 ème nouvelle
les précédentes "Nouvelles" sont à votre disposition sur simple demande.
bonne réception et belle journée de paix
Gabrielle Simond présidente
here the news n° 23 concerning the work of peace of certain members universal circle of the ambassadors of peace
we await your texts to prepare the 25 th news
the preceding ones " NEWS" are at your disposal on request
good reception and beautiful day of peace
Gabrielle Simond president
ahí tienes la noticia n° 23 elativa al trabajo de paz de algunos miembros del círculo universal de los embajadores de la paz
esperamos sus textos para preparar la 25 noticia buena recepción y bonito día de paz los anteriores " NOTICIAS" tán a su disposición previa petición
Gabrielle Simond Presidente
eis a notícia n° 23 elativa ao trabalho de paz de certos membros do círculo universal dos embaixadores da paz
esperamos os vossos textos para preparar a 25 a notícia boa recepção e bonito dia de paz precedentes os " NOTICIAS" vossa disposição a simples pedido
Gabrielle Simond presidente
|March 16, 2014||
ASSEZ DE LARMES - DE SANG ET DE REPRESSION AU VENEZUELA !
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain franÃ§ais Ã finalitÃ© philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
ASSEZ DE LARMES - DE SANG ET DE REPRESSION AU VENEZUELA !
(il est temps que des disposition de sortie de crises soient exigées par l’opinion publique mondiale et ses Instances gouvernementales et institutionnelles
DEPUIS UN MOIS, LES MANIFESTATIONS pour dénoncer la criminalité, l'inflation et les pénuries sont brutalement réprimées au Venezuela !
En France et en Europe, certes, de par la proximité, les médias et hommes politiques sont surtout préoccupés par la situation ukrainienne, cependant :le philosophe n’ a pas de frontière là où la souffrance existe, elle doit être dénoncée avec la même vigueur et des propositions s’établir !
Les experts de l’ONU ont appelé le Venezuela à faire la lumière sur les violences qui secouent le pays depuis un mois : détentions arbitraires et utilisation excessive de la force, contre des manifestants notamment. De leur côté, plusieurs ONG disent avoir recensé des cas de tortures.
Les cinq experts de l’ONU demandent aux autorités vénézuéliennes d'enquêter rapidement sur les violences, les détentions arbitraires de manifestants et de journalistes, ainsi que des cas de torture par les forces de sécurité. Les experts sur la liberté d'expression, la liberté de réunion, la détention arbitraire, la torture et les défenseurs des droits de l'homme appellent le Venezuela à mettre un terme au plus vite à ces violences.
Carlos Nieto Palma de l'ONG Una ventana a la libertad, qui travaille sur la situation des détenus, espère que le gouvernement vénézuélien entendra cet appel : « On parle de 18 morts, voire de 20 morts, de plus de 400 blessés, plus de 1 200 personnes qui ont été détenues. Certaines sont toujours en prison et d’autres sous contrôle judiciaire, souligne-t-il. C’est une situation bien sombre que nous traversons en ce qui concerne le respect des droits des citoyens. Je pense que c’est très intéressant que la communauté internationale commence à s’intéresser à ce qui se passe au Venezuela car c’est très grave. Donc on va voir ce qui va se passer avec ces rapporteurs ».
« La manifestation pacifique est une forme d'expression »
Les experts de l’ONU se disent prêts à effectuer des visites dans le pays pour participer à un dialogue constructif avec toutes les parties, selon le communiqué. Ils disent espérer que le gouvernement vénézuélien répondra positivement à leur demande de visites. « Je pense qu'il serait possible de nous rendre au Venezuela, indique Frank Larue, rapporteur spécial de l'ONU sur la liberté d'expression. Nous pourrions aider à lancer un dialogue positif entre les parties. Les autorités doivent elles aussi avoir tout intérêt à résoudre cette crise le plus vite possible car il me semble que personne n'a rien à gagner avec la prolongation d'une situation comme celle-ci ».
Frank Larue est à l'initiative du communiqué diffusé hier : « Il nous a paru que c'était le moment opportun pour mettre l'accent sur la complexité de la situation, avec la tension, les actes de violence terribles, les morts et la nécessité de trouver une solution pacifique au plus vite, explique-il. La manifestation pacifique est une forme d'expression et elle doit être respectée, et la force publique doit se limiter à faire respecter l'ordre, et n'a pas à arrêter une manifestation de façon violente ».
Ajout de Guy CREQUIE :
L’ONU doit accélérer ses décisions et mises en œuvre. Les résolutions du conseil de sécurité dans l’urgence ne s’appliquent pas que pour l’Afrique, l’Asie, et l’Europe .Si la répression continue, il faut aller au –delà et prévoir des casques bleus de protection des populations
Ensuite, face à cette situation économique et sociale calamiteuse, dans l’urgence il faut des solutions
Des concertations et un plan d’aide de ce pays en relation avec le FMI et la banque mondiale doivent s’envisager avec un contrôle strict de sommes débloquées dans leur utilisation, le retour à l’initiative privée, l’aide au développement et l’investissement doivent être prévues, minutieusement élaborées ;ce sera à la justice internationale le moment venu de statuer et de décider, si des accusations nominatives doivent être prononcées et instruites.
Enfin, toutes ces mesures peuvent apaiser des tensions, donner de l’espoir, mais ne supprimeront pas la défiance et le mécontentement du peuple à l’égard des appareils politiques, des corruptions, mensonges,…
Actuellement, il est ce constat de ce que en philosophie j’appelle : un plan nodal de défiance ! Après le passage de la situation actuelle de contradiction antagonique en contradiction non antagonique, il faut donner la parole au peuple avec de nouvelles élections et le suffrage universel
Certains émettront des doutes, s’interrogeront sur la possibilité et la volonté politique au Venezuela et au plan international de mettre en œuvre ce que je préconise . Cependant, à un moment donné, il faut mettre en œuvre ce que le Professeur GALTUNG appelle le dépassement par la créativité, et ne pas en rester au fonctionnement binaire d’une situation et son contraire explosif. Comme nous l’on démontré il y a bien longtemps le philosophe chinois LI CHI, et ceux japonais de l’école dite de Kyoto, à chaque instant, l’homme dispose de multiples possibilités de choix ;ceci, de par ses 10 états psychologiques possibles ou état intérieur de vie, ses modalités d’expression de l’apparence à l’essence, et les principes de différenciation qui tiennent compte des réalités géographiques, culturelles, …des divers pays, ce que MONTESQIEU rappela bien plus tard dans l’esprit des lois.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique-Observateur social
Messager de la culture de la paix de l’UNESCO
Représentant français d’ONG internationales de paix et d’harmonie
Of: Guy Crequie [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Envoy: Sunday, March 16, 2014 08:13
Subject: ENOUGH TEARS - OF BLOOD AND REPRESSION IN VENEZUELA!
ENOUGH TEARS - OF BLOOD AND REPRESSION IN VENEZUELA!
(it is times that provision of way out of crisis are required by the world public opinion and its governmental and institutional Authorities!
FOR ONE MONTH, the DEMONSTRATIONS to denounce the crime, inflation and the shortages have brutally been repressed in Venezuela!
In France and Europe, certainly, from the proximity, the media and politicians are especially worried by the Ukrainian situation, however:the philosopher does not have a border where the suffering exists, it must be denounced with same strength and of the proposals to be established!
The experts of UNO invited Venezuela to clarify violences which have shaken the country for one month: arbitrary detentions and excessive use of the force, against demonstrators in particular. On their side, several ONG say to have listed cases of tortures.
The five experts of UNO ask the authorities Venezuelans to inquire quickly into violences, arbitrary detentions of demonstrators and journalists, as well as cases of torture by the security forces. The experts on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, arbitrary detention, the torture and the defenders of the human rights invite Venezuela as fast as possible to put an end to these violences.
Carlos Nieto Palma of ONG Una ventana has the libertad, which works on the situation of the prisoners, hopes that the government Venezuelan will hear this call: “One speaks about 18 dead, even of 20 died, of more than 400 wounded, more than 1,200 people who were held. Some are always in prison and others under judicial control, he underlines. It is a quite dark situation which we cross with regard to the respect of the civil rights. I think that it is very interesting that the international community starts to be interested in what occurs to Venezuela because it is very serious. Thus one will see what will occur with these rapporteurs”.
“The peaceful demonstration is a form of expression”
The experts of UNO are ready to pay visits in the country to take part in a constructive dialog with all the parts, according to the official statement. They say to hope that the government Venezuelan will accept their request for visits. “I think that it would be possible to return to us to Venezuela, indicates Frank Larue, special protractor of UNO on freedom of expression. We could help to launch a positive dialog between the parts. The authorities must also have any interest to solve this crisis as quickly as possible because it seems to me that nobody has anything to gain with the prolongation of a situation like this one”.
Frank Larue is on the initiative of the official statement diffused yesterday: “It appeared to us that it was the convenient period to focus on the complexity of the situation, with the tension, the terrible acts of violence, deaths and the need for finding a peaceful solution as fast as possible, he explains. The peaceful demonstration is a form of expression and it must be respected, and the police must be limited to make respect the order, and does not have to stop a demonstration in a violent way”.
Addition of Guy CREQUIE:
UNO must accelerate its decisions and implementations. The resolutions of the Security Council in the urgency do not apply only for Africa, Asia, and Europe.If repression continues, it is necessary to go beyond and envisage blue helmets of protection of the populations
Then, vis-a-vis this economic situation and social calamitous, in the urgency one needs solutions
Dialogs and a plan of assistance of this country in relation to the IMF and the World Bank must be considered with a strict control of sums resolved in their use, the return on the initiative deprived, the development assistance and the investment must be envisaged, thoroughly elaborate;it will be with international justice at the proper time to rule and decide, so personal charges must be marked and educated.
Lastly, all these measurements can alleviate tensions, to give hope, but will not remove the distrust and the dissatisfaction with the people with regard to the political apparatuses, of corruptions, lies,…
Currently, it is this report of what in philosophy I call: a nodal plan of distrust! For the passage of the antagonistic current situation of contradiction in nonantagonistic contradiction, it is necessary to call on the people with new elections and the universal suffrage
Some will express doubts, will wonder about the possibility and the political will in Venezuela and the international plan to implement what I recommend. However, for a given moment, it is necessary to implement what Professor GALTUNG calls the going beyond by the creativity, and not about it to remain with the binary operation of a situation and its explosive opposite. Like us one shown the Chinese philosopher a long ago LI CHI, and those Japanese of the school known as of Kyoto, at every moment, the man has multiple possibilities of choice;this, from its 10 possible psychological states or interior state of life, its methods of expression of appearance to the petrol, and the principles of differentiation which take account of geographical realities, cultural,… of the various countries, which MONTESQIEU recalled well later in the spirit of the laws.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
French writer with finality social philosophical-Observer
Messenger of the culture of the peace of UNESCO
French representative of ONG international of peace and harmony
Postal address: 186 Bowlsby Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 5K1
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