April 22, 2009
The Big Scoop Series #23: Hidden Truths Staring Us All in The Face
As usual there is a whole lot of information that is brought to your attention in this compilation that no media would dare report either because they are too controlled, corrupted, afraid to stir controversy or simply too lazy to investigate in any depth.
There is such a huge disconnect between the real facts on the ground - with so many critical issues never mentioned in the public discourse - and the well-packaged, entertainment-oriented and profit-driven matrix world most people are buying into because they don't know any better.
It takes a significant effort to go beyond one's comfort zone and look into credible information that utterly destroys this fantasy world -- projected to us by the Western media and endorsed by most everyone's silent acquiescing, go-along-with-whatever-is-told-them -- that nearly everyone is immersed in.
If you have been reading these compilations for the past several years and are still willing to be challenged by the eye-opening, soul-searing stuff I bring to your attention - thanks in no small part to the many subscribers who send me their "discoveries" - then you ought to be commended for your perseverance.
I've been doing this work for over 10 years now as my little token contribution to greater awareness and with the hope of stirring much needed changes, and I'm glad to know so many of you have been sticking around for this long ride. There are still about 3 years to go before I cease doing this as I've set myself as an objective, several years ago, to do this till the end of 2012, at which point I'll be 60 and in need to given my attention to other matters. Of course, I also envision and hope that, by then, things will have taken a turn for the best and that this type of service will no longer be as important as it continues to be.
Of course, for that to happen you also need to do your part and help network, as I do, the stuff that may help further the current global awakening process, and do/be whatever is needed locally and globally to help shift things in the right direction. Whatever tickles your activist bone into action, let it stir you, as guided from within, into bringing your unique and vital contribution so there will be better tomorrows for us, our children and their own children for centuries to come.
And may Peace prevail on Earth and Love in every heart... Oh!... and happy Earth Day! ;-)
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"During the era recently ended, we adapted to hundreds of TV channels and multiple phone companies and airlines that arise and disappear as fast as strip-mall stores. Women have come close to achieving real equality; being gay has become astoundingly public and unremarkable. And speaking of shaking off addictions, half again as many of us smoked cigarettes in the early '80s. We watched (and helped) the Soviet Union and its European empire collapse and watched (and helped) China change from a backward, dangerous Orwellian nation into a booming, much less Orwellian member of the global order. During just the past 15 years, we've managed to reduce murders in New York City by two-thirds; grown accustomed to the weird transparency and instant connectedness of the new digital world; sequenced the human genome; and inaugurated a black President. That's change."
1. The New Age of Extinction
2. Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat
3. Gorbachev: the model for the Obama doctrine
4. CIA chief Leon Panetta orders closure of secret rendition sites
5. You Are Being Lied to About Pirates
6. U.S. shipped 989 munitions containers to Israel week before Gaza invasion
7. How 'bout them defenseless nukes?
8. DU, Dioxin, Deformities, Dimes and Deceit
9. Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film
10. More than abductees
11. The Right-To-Laugh Party Humanifesto
SPECIAL FEATURE - A MUST SEE VIDEO
The President Who Told The TRUTH (11 min) MUST SEE! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaH-lGafwtE
This video contains one of the most awesome, inspiring and truthful speeches ever given by a president. This very speech must have caused a lot of panic among the higher echelons of the elite. Kennedy had been in office for only 3 months and he was already taking unprecedented steps to empower ordinary people. Kennedy did more for civil rights than any other president since Abraham Lincoln. Kennedy was a big supporter of the constitution, he was against the tyranny of big government. He wanted to withdraw US troops from Vietnam. He wanted to abolish the CIA and Federal Reserve, and he warned us of criminal elements within the establishment who wanted to seize an opportunity to restrict peoples freedoms. He urged the press to be more open and to fulfill its obligation to inform the American people about pertinent facts. And on top of that he spoke openly and candidly about the dangers of secret societies and their influence over the way government works. So is it any wonder that he was dramatically silenced only two years after making this epic speech? You can hear the full "President And The Press" speech using this Google Video link. And here is a transcript of the speech. For this video I have included the main parts of JFK's speech, where he warns us about the dangers of secret societies.
It seems that Kennedy wanted to blow the whistle when he found out about the true scale of corruption within the establishment and how freemasonry and other secret societies play an integral part in this corrupt agenda. It also seems that Kennedy wanted to speak out about the closed and secretive nature of organisations like the freemasons, especially at the higher levels. And it is only when a freemason reaches the higher levels that he can gain a fuller understanding of the kind of organisation he is part of. Freemasonry also has its own set of rules, oaths, allegiances and rituals that are considered higher in importance than the ordinary code of conduct that we ordinary people live by. And the higher up you go in freemasonry, the more strange and daring the initiation rituals become; this is a hallmark of the way criminal gangs operate. Remember, just because someone wears a suit and a tie, that doesn't necessarily make them a better person than the mugger in the alley with the baseball bat.
I find it very curious that some people compare Obama with Kennedy, as if they are both one and the same. But you only have to look at the people that Obama has recruited to work alongside him to realise where hes coming from. Employing Zbigniew Brzezinski as his Chief Foreign Policy advisor is just one example. Then on top of that, Obama admits to being a globalist and he has publicly admitted to attending a CFR meeting where he gave a speech. But what makes me feel most uncomfortable is the way that Obama stuttered and lied about the significance of his speech at the CFR. When question about his CFR involvement, Obama said I don't know if I'm an official member - He wants us to believe that the CFR would allow someone to attend their meeting and give a speech, and yet not even discuss the issue of membership. You're either a member of something or you're not, so the word official is an irrelevant filler word. If he doesn't know that hes a member then that could only mean that he is not a member - in which case, why didn't he just say: I am not a member, although I did speak there once? Why not just be open and honest about it instead of stuttering and lying and attempting to downplay the significance of it?
JFKs assassination was probably executed by CIA resources developed in the anti-Castro campaign Kennedy was canceling, and redirected against the internal threat, Kennedy. The investigation which followed the assassination was overseen and directed by Freemasons, who could influence the selection of the rest of the investigative team and effectively control the results. The JFK assassination appears to have been part a campaign of assassinations against a generation of leaders, who posed challenges to the entrenched power structure. The death toll included John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Viewed as a whole, one is driven to the conclusion that anyone advocating or supporting serious social reforms will not be tolerated in a leadership position. Many more related videos through this LINK
Dark Legacy http://www.jfkii.com/
JFK II The Bush Connection has been re-issued as Dark Legacy George Bush and the Assassination of JFK. Longer, better organized, and MUCH better looking than JFK II, Dark Legacy is still a thorough, documented, criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy. - Dark Legacy trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CMF6AcGvuU
The Assassination of JFK Jr. http://www.jfkii.com/
Murder by Manchurian Candidate - Overwhelming, jaw-dropping evidence of foul play in the death of John Kennedy Jr., all based on official government documents: - the search of the crash site was delayed an incomprehensible 15 hours; - there was, indeed, a flight instructor on the plane, whose body is missing; - it is clear that someone on that plane committed suicide, shutting off the fuel control valve before plunging the plane into the sea. - The prime suspect, George W. Bush, though very publicly running for president, disappeared the day of the murder, and stayed missing for 3 days. View trailer at http://revver.com/video/14470/murder-of-jfk-jr/
Film: Core of Corruption http://www.coreofcorruption.com/index.php/?page_id=16
Core of Corruption is a documentary film series which details a comprehensive investigation into clandestine intelligence operations and conspiracies. The project is surfacing exclusive whistle blowers, insiders and critical evidence for the very first time. Over 2,000 hours of credible network news clips have been surfaced for this ground breaking event, most of which have never been seen since they aired and have never been available on the internet. Some of the video news segments for this project, when requested from the networks, were denied access to and corporate representatives would say that the information sought does not exist or has been misplaced. Someone doesnt want the public to see these stories, that when put together, establish a conspiracy of the magnitude that could change the way one views the world. Countless millions of people are being manipulated and lied to by a network of individuals within government that work on behalf of private interests. The individuals were involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Many of those same figures are are connected to historical events that have shaped our understanding of government crime. For instance, the Iran Contra affair involved many figures that showed up in the 9/11 attacks. Some clips in the above trailer, and in the above trailer only, are from Everyones Gotta Learn Sometime. I did not use these in my film, but asked and received permission to use them. Please go and support John Albanese and his film. Drug running, terrorism, money laundering and arms trading are carried out in concert with this network. They manipulate the worlds response to these issues on behalf of very high profile figures in some of the most influential think tanks and political interest groups. Figures include well known politicians as well as established businesses on Wall Street. This project, started more than five years ago, is going to break ground in mapping and identifying the most important and credible evidence as well as establish why these networks operate with impunity.
SPECIAL EARTH DAY FEATURE
EARTH DAY 2009: THE GREEN GENERATION http://www.earthday.net/earthday2009
Earth Day 2009, April 22, will mark the beginning of The Green Generation Campaign which will also be the focus of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. With negotiations for a new global climate agreement coming up in December, Earth Day 2009 must be a day of action and civic participation, to defend The Green GenerationTM's core principles: A carbon-free future based on renewable energy that will end our common dependency on fossil fuels, including coal.An individual's commitment to responsible, sustainable consumption.Creation of a new green economy that lifts people out of poverty by creating millions of quality green jobs and transforms the global education system into a green one. Much more through Earth Day's website at http://www.earthday.net/
Welcome to the Green Generation http://www.earthday.net/greengeneration
Earth Day Network's "Green Generation" campaign is a two-year initiative that will launch in 2009 and culminate on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. Similar to "The Greatest Generation" that confronted the challenge of World War II, who inspired the major societal changes that followed, the Green Generation includes ordinary people who are engaged in individual and collective activities to improve their health, to improve their schools, to participate in building a solution to urgent national and global issues, such as climate change or the world's water crises. Join the Green Generation now! People are increasingly bound together in a green movement that will no doubt equal or eclipse other monumental changes in social and industrial history. Earth Day Network is joined by many "futurist" writers who believe that history will view this period as the launch of an era devoted to a whole new way of living and doing business sustainably. Earth Day 2010 will mark that beginning of the change. Click here to see what futurists say... (...) The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010 will be recognized by future generations as a turning point for all people worldwide and will mark the beginning of a new era of personal, corporate, and government responsibility for preserving the Earth. CLIP
Eat less beef, pork, and lamb
Beef's carbon footprint is 3 to 7 times larger than chicken's.
Producing 1 pound of beef uses up 29 times more water than 1 pound of chicken and 50 times more water than 1 pound of soybeans.
Three liters of oil are required to produce one pound of beef.
Eat out at restaurants less
11-13% of the food served on an average plate at a restaurant goes to waste.
In the UK, 30-40% of all food at restaurants is never eaten.
The lighting, cooling, operation of the restaurant, and the energy used to drive there all cost the environment more than cooking that same meal at home.
Eat fewer dairy products
Together with meat, dairy products are responsible for emissions such as CO2, nitrous oxides and methane - all big factors in global warming.
Cheese can be just as energy intensive as some meats.
Ten liters of milk are used for one kilogram of cheese
Drink fewer soft drinks Soft drinks are carbonated sugar water in a plastic bottle.
200 billion beverage containers were sold last year - and over 130 billion of those ended up in landfills or incinerators.
If all of the beverage containers discarded last year had been recycled, 15.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases would have been avoided.
Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season (and local when possible) Fresh fruits sold in the winter are often imported or grown in greenhouses, both of which require significant energy use.
Importing food by air has a carbon footprint 6 times larger than by ground.
A fruit's origin can have a significant impact on the environment - the energy used to transport grapes from Chile to San Francisco is far greater than transporting them from Napa Valley.
Eat fewer packaged snacks and junk food
The boxes, bags and packets that hold our food account for 10-12% of the cost of our food products.
More than half of all plastic packaging is used to package food.
One third of the energy used to produce food goes to snacks, candy and soft drinks.
Upgrade to an energy efficient refrigerator
Your refrigerator is likely the biggest energy sink in your house using up to 5 times as much electricity as your television.
Switching to an Energy Star certified refrigerator will save you money and reduce your CO2 emissions.
Eat wild fish that are not endangered
High-tech fishing practices are depleting fish stocks, endangering entire species, and damaging habitats.
Some farmed fish have been found to contain concerning levels of PCBs and dioxins.
Look for fish that are sustainably managed. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's list of sustainable seafood. (NOTE: if you like salmon, check what they say on this seafood!)
Drink less bottled water
Producing the bottles for US consumption of bottled water for one year requires the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil.
Bottling this water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
Walk to your local farmer's market or grocery store
The food on the typical American family's dinner table has travelled an average of 1,500 miles.
Most American meals contain ingredients from at least five countries.
One Canadian study estimated that picking 58 selected food items locally and regionally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49,485 tons annually - the equivalent of removing 16,191 vehicles from the road
GoodGuide strives to provide the world's largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of products and companies. GoodGuide's mission is to help you find safe, healthy, and green products that are better for you and the planet. Much more through http://www.goodguide.com/
Environmental leaders and Laggards http://www.goodguide.com/slideshows/2009/4/19/environmental-leaders-and-laggards
We've uncovered some leading companies working to improve their environmental performance, and in some cases actually working to significantly reduce their global warming impacts. One has retooled its machines to save water, another has minimized its packaging, and a third has harnessed the wind and the sun to run its factory. Keep reading to find out more.
When it comes to going green, intention can be easier than action. Case in point: you decide to buy a T shirt made from 100% organic cotton, because everyone knows that organic is better for Earth. And in some ways it is; in conventional cotton-farming, pesticides strip the soil of life. But that green label doesn't tell the whole story - like the fact that even organic cotton requires more than 2,640 gal. (10,000 L) of water to grow enough fiber for one T shirt. Or the possibility that the T shirt may have been dyed using harsh industrial chemicals, which can pollute local groundwater. If you knew all that, would you still consider the T shirt green? Would you still buy it?
It's a question that most of us are ill equipped to answer, even as the debate over what is and isn't green becomes all-important in a hot and crowded world. That's because as the global economy has grown, our ability to make complex products with complex supply chains has outpaced our ability to comprehend the consequences - for ourselves and the planet. We evolved to respond to threats that were clear and present. That's why, when we eat spoiled food, we get nauseated and when we see a bright light, we shut our eyes. But nothing in evolution has prepared us to understand the cumulative impact that imperceptible amounts of industrial chemicals may have on our children's health or the slow-moving, long-term danger of climate change. Scanning the supermarket aisles, we lack the data to understand the full impact of what we choose - and probably couldn't make sense of the information even if we had it.
But what if we could seamlessly calculate the full lifetime effect of our actions on the earth and on our bodies? Not just carbon footprints but social and biological footprints as well? What if we could think ecologically? That's what psychologist Daniel Goleman describes in his forthcoming book, Ecological Intelligence. Using a young science called industrial ecology, businesses and green activists alike are beginning to compile the environmental and biological impact of our every decision - and delivering that information to consumers in a user-friendly way. That's thinking ecologically - understanding the global environmental consequences of our local choices. "We can know the causes of what we're doing, and we can know the impact of what we're doing," says Goleman, who wrote the 1995 best seller Emotional Intelligence. "It's going to have a radical impact on the way we do business."
Over the past couple of decades, industrial ecologists have been using a method called life-cycle assessment (LCA) to break down that web of connection. The concept of the carbon footprint comes from LCA, but a deep analysis looks at far more. The manufacture and sale of a simple glass bottle requires input from dozens of suppliers; for high-tech items, it can include many times more.
The good news is that industrial ecologists can now crunch those data, and smart companies like Coca-Cola are using the information to clean up their corporate ecology. Working with the World Wildlife Fund, Coke analyzed its globe-spanning supply chain-the company uses 5% of the world's total sugar crop-to see where it could minimize its impact; today Coke is on target to improve its water efficiency 20% by 2012.
Below the megacorporate level, start-ups like the website Good Guide are sifting through rivers of data for ordinary consumers, providing easy-to-understand ratings you can use to instantly gauge the full environmental and health impact of that T shirt. Even better, they'll get the information to you when you need it: Good Guide has an iPhone app that can deliver verdicts on tens of thousands of products. Good Guide and services like it "let us align our dollars with our values easily," says Goleman.
But ecological intelligence is ultimately about more than what we buy. It's also about our ability to accept that we live in an infinitely connected world with finite resources. Goleman highlights the Tibetan community of Sher, where for millenniums, villagers have survived harsh conditions by carefully conserving every resource available to them. The Tibetans think ecologically because they have no other choice. Neither do we. "We once had the luxury to ignore our impacts," says Goleman. "Not anymore."
TIME to make plans for the Wesak!
In 2009 the Festival of the Wesak full moon in Taurus occurs on Friday, May 8 at 9:01 pm PDT (04:01 UT Saturday, May 9). More details in The Wesak Festival - Significance of Wesak - The Legend of The Wesak - Suggestions for a Wesak Full Moon Ritual and Wesak Safeguarding: The Most Sacred of Days where we can read... "Wesak is a present time cosmological event, and not one simply commemorating a past spiritual happening that was historical, as are most holy days. The extraordinary power of the Shamballa force, the energy of the will-to-good, was unleashed in three major impacts during the last century, supplying our planet with an energy source enabling humanity to express the will-to-good in its affairs in a new and wholly constructive way. (...) All people of spiritual aspiration who meditate and make their minds available to the inpouring energies can contribute to the building of a channel for impression on the mental plane, through which the energies directed by the Hierarchy towards humanity can pour."
Cold Fusion Is A Reality (April 20, 2009) http://www.rense.com/general85/cold.htm
For those of you who know how critical I have been of the "mainstream media" down through the years, my commendation of 60-minutes (for their excellent and courageous show on COLD FUSION) may come as a shock. 60-Minute's report is a welcome breath of fresh air and gives me hope that the mainstream media, at least some of it, may be waking up to its greater responsibility to the public. Apparently COLD FUSION is real. The show, which just aired tonight at 7PM EST on NBC, gave a great overview of the COLD FUSION debate along with a rare interview of Dr. Fleishmann in Europe (...) Fleishmann said the technology could be deployed quite quickly. The technology would in essence provide a new type of battery that would never need to be discarded or recharged in many cases. Your laptop computer would just run for its lifetime. Your car would just run on electric motors powered by cold fusion power cells. Your house would have all the electricity it needed with NO connection to the grid -- just a large cold fusion cell sitting outside next to the heat-pump. Commercial power stations would simply replace palladium rods periodically. Every gallon of sea water will provide the energy content of 10 gallons of gasoline. Coal, oil, natural gas, solar, wind, thermal and fission will eventually become obsolete technologies. This IS going to change the world. The Oil Establishment WILL fight back however, so expect a back lash. Even right after the 60-Minutes show concluded, Big Oil had a TV commercial talking about "increasing production for oil." What gall. CLIP
Susan Boyle (click on HD and enlarge the screen) - Britain's Got Talent - MUST WATCH! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OcQ9A-5noM
The singer that shocked the UK. Over 15 million people have seen this video in less than a week. Lyrics HERE
Singing 'spinster' strikes chord in talent contest http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hmSkZdDWivKGBoG0OQBqJadleSHgD97JQV1G3
BLACKBURN, Scotland (AP) - Susan Boyle lives alone in a row house with her cat Pebbles, a drab existence in one of Scotland's poorest regions. She cared for her widowed mother for years, never married and sang in church and at karaoke nights at the pub. Neighbors knew she could sing, and now - what with YouTube, Twitter and countless blog postings - just about everyone else does, too.Since wowing the judges on the TV show "Britain's Got Talent," the frumpy 47-year-old, who says she's never been kissed, has gained celebrity fans and millions of admirers."I did this for my late mother," the unemployed Boyle told The Associated Press at her home in this scruffy Scottish village Thursday. "I wanted to show her I could do something with my life."And that she did - as well as showing a thing or two to the show's smug judges, who include Simon Cowell of "American Idol" fame. When she mounted the stage for Saturday's broadcast, her frizzy gray-tinged hair curling wildly and a gold lace dress clinging unflatteringly to her chubby frame, Boyle looked the antithesis of the American idols Cowell normally anoints. She was greeted with giggles from the audience and eye rolls from the notoriously acerbic Cowell. The audience chuckled in embarrassment as she wiggled her hips awkwardly. Then she opened her mouth. Launching into "I Dreamed a Dream," from the musical "Les Miserables," her soaring voice drew startled looks and then delighted smiles from Cowell and the other judges. The audience leapt to its feet to applaud. More than 11 million people watched Saturday's show, but Boyle's instant success is due as much to new media as to the power of television, with a clip of her performance posted on YouTube by the show's producers drawing nearly 13 million views. Not to mention the skillful packaging of the segment, a mini-opera of underdog triumph. In the past few days, Boyle has appeared on TV around the world. Her fans include actors Demi Moore and husband Ashton Kutcher who flagged the performance on Twitter, as well as Oprah Winfrey, who has invited Boyle onto her show. Interview requests have poured in. CLIP Check all 1229 news articles!
The Susan Boyle phenomenon: redefining beauty, grace, and success? (April 21, 2009) http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0421/p06s13-wogn.html
Commentators find deeper meaning in British singer's YouTube popularity. (...) All eyes are now looking to Boyle's May 23 performance on the talent show, which promises the ultimate winner - the opportunity to perform in front of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. Elaine Paige, the singer whom Boyle has said she would like to emulate, has also suggested the two might one day record a duet.In the meantime, Boyle herself has told reporters camped outside her home that she is "taking it all in my stride." "It's all been complete mayhem, like a whirlwind going like an express train. I never expected all this attention. It's been indescribable and completely mad. But I could get used to it," she told the Observer.
The Voca People - Astounding vocal performance!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6EYrqIn0yI
The Voca People is an international vocal theater performance combining vocal sounds and an acapella singing with the art of modern beat-box.
Historic disclosure: Brazils secret Government UFO files revealed (16 April 2009) http://www.allnewsweb.com/page6716719.php
In what is a milestone and historic event for Brazilian ufology and for ufologists around the world Brazils UFO community has gained access to previously classified top-secret UFO files. The UFO community headed by the CBU or Commission of Brazilian Ufologists has been fighting for access to these files for a number of years under freedom of information provisions and appears to have emerged from this battle victorious. (...) Now the ufologists are working on the details of a working relationship with the Air Force that will allow them to permanently access and utilise even these top-secret files as well as collaborate with the military to understand the UFO phenomena.Rafael Cury, one of the heads of the CBU recently noted that This represents a coming of age for Brazilian ufology.Indeed. With the Air Force releasing its UFO files to ufologists and conceding that they dont understand what the craft involved are and are happy to co-operate to gain an understanding, this event might be the closest any government has come to disclosure. Ufologists around the world will undoubtedly be filled with optimism by these developments.
Jasmine the Greyhound - Touching story of animal love in action http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/jasmine.asp
Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.
Answer Engines vs. Search Engines (03/10/2009) Fascinating stuff! http://www.twine.com/item/122tfm1r8-7k/answer-engines-vs-search-engines
(...) Answer engines are different category of tool from search engines. They understand and answer questions -- they don't simply retrieve documents. (Note: in fact, Wolfram Alpha doesn't merely answer questions, it also helps users to explore knowledge and data visually and can even open up new questions) Of course Wolfram Alpha is not alone in making a system that can answer questions. This has been a longstanding dream of computer scientists, artificial intelligence theorists, and even a few brave entrepreneurs in the past.Google has also been working on answering questions that are typed directly into their search box. For example, type a geography question or even "what time is it in Italy" into the Google search box and you will get a direct answer. But the reasoning and computational capabilities of Google's "answer engine" features are primitive compared to what Wolfram Alpha does. CLIP Check also Wolfram Alpha is Coming -- and It Could be as Important as Google Stephen Wolfram is building something new -- and it is really impressive and significant. In fact it may be as important for the Web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose. CLIP
History Of Staged Terrorism Exposed In German Mainstream Media http://www.911video.de/news/170409/gladio.htm
The conservative german Süddeutsche Zeitung on April 4 published an remarkable article within a series on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of NATO. Excerpts and summary here: CLIP
Urgent Warning about Gardasil (17 avril 2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msoyRYSoSJk
New information links the Gardasil vaccine to thousand of health complaints and more than 30 deaths. Jenny Thompson of the Health Sciences Institute exposes the real truth, some shocking side effects you aren't hearing about, and why this so-called "cervical cancer vaccine" could be completely unnecessary. Watch this before you or your daughter considers Gardasil. -- Merck has moved 24 States legislators to attempt to MANDATE Gardasil for girls in order to go to school. Merck is publicizing it for 9 year old girls.
AVIAN FLU - FEMA TRAIN CONNECTION! UPDATE Part 1 - An exercise in discernment! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wae--Tp1OU
"Mary", caller to the Power Hour on March 30, 2009, gives many details that the Dept of Homeland Security is transporting and distributing bird flu in mass quantities. Transcript of this phone call and much more through Truckers Unwittingly Used to Transport Dangerous Avian Flu Materials? Call Genesis Communications, The Power Hour, 1 877 817 9828 with any further information or tips you may have. Part 2 is HERE more on this at http://www.freerangehumans.net/ - Now some facts: So far this year, there has been only 23 confirmed human cases of Avian Influenza worldwide and only 7 deaths, as detailed HERE by the World Health Organization. Alex Jones Tv: The Bird Flu Saga on Youtube debunks this as a new Internet hysteria and explains that such overinflated warnings based on unprovable claims are actually diverting attention away from real threats documents in the mainstream media that should get alarm bells going but get scant attention.
Chemtrails - The Latest Assault on Us http://www.rense.com/general85/chemm.htm
These past two days there has been a dramatic Chemtrail assault around much of New England.Friday morning, April 17 at 6 a.m., the sky was a vibrant deep rose-red, dotted with synthetic blackish clouds. By mid-morning, the cloud cover had changed to artificial, Chemtrail-laden clouds that resembled Morgellons with tendrils. Later in the morning, many counties saw sometimes more than eight planes in the sky, going about their nefarious work making miles and miles of toxic parallel lines.How could anyone look up at the sky and think this was normal? With this latest toxic offensive, the air now smells full of chemicals. There is no such a thing as "fresh air" anymore. By mid-afternoon, the sky was entirely blanketed with a greyish-white covering. It lasted the rest of the day and into Saturday. Meanwhile, there are many reports of hard-to-cure upper respiratory illnesses (colds, severe hacking coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia). Children and the elderly seem hardest hit. It takes weeks and weeks (sometimes two months!) to get over these illnesses. Many people I know are going to work with pneumonia! What some doctors are diagnosing as colds or bronchitis are not the usual variety that we had prior to about 2000. Drugs do not seem to be working. Alternative choices seem to be doing better. Upper respiratory illnesses are now the third leading cause of death. Five years ago, lung illnesses ranked number eight. All mammals are targeted. So animals, too, are suffering. Domestic cats and dogs have chronic itchy skin. This also can be seen with farm animals (cows, sheep, pigs, and goats). In my own backyard (and those of many neighbors), the squirrels, hedgehogs, and an occasional raccoon are always scratching themselves. CLIP
ITALIAN SAYS 9-11 SOLVED http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/9-11_solved118.html
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, who revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, has told Italys oldest and most widely read newspaper that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad, and that this was common knowledge among global intelligence agencies. In what translates awkwardly into English, Cossiga told the newspaper Corriere della Sera: All the [intelligence services] of America and Europe know well that the disastrous attack has been planned and realized from the Mossad, with the aid of the Zionist world in order to put under accusation the Arabic countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part in Iraq [and] Afghanistan. CLIP
World War II casualties - Really sobering figures!!! Imagine a war today killing 72 million people! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties
World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Tens of millions were killed. The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses. World War II casualty statistics vary greatly. Estimates of total dead range from 50 million to over 70 million. The sources cited on this page document an estimated death toll in World War II of roughly 72 million, making it the deadliest ever. Civilians killed totaled around 47 million, including 20 million from war-related disease and famine. Total military dead: about 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 4 million prisoners of war. Axis dead: approximately 11 million; Allied dead: about 61 million. CLIP
War in Afghanistan (2001present) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan_(2001present)#Casualties
(...) In 2008 the number of Coalition deaths in Afghanistan reached 1,000, and is now higher. There are no official figures of civilian deaths caused by the invasion. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that 2,118 Afghan civilians were killed by armed conflict in 2008 (the highest number since the end of the initial 2001 invasion), 55% by insurgents and 39% by international-led military forces.  Wikinews has related news: NATO report on Afghanistan leaked According to Marc W. Herold's Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States' Aerial Bombing at least 3,700 and probably closer to 5,000 civilians were killed by the end of 2002 as a result of U.S. bombing CLIP
America's 20 Percent Unemployment Rate (April 6, 2009) http://www.truthout.org/041009LA
Measuring unemployment is an art that can result in widely varied rates. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Government uses a method that excludes millions of Americans seeking employment. This lower rate is used to prove that America's economic system is superior to those in Europe. Their higher unemployment rates are blamed on unions and socialism, which guarantee workers health care and paid vacations. The implication is that while many American workers lack such benefits, at least they have jobs. This argument is faulty since unemployment is measured differently. (...) The U.S. Government compiles data on these uncounted unemployed Americans, but does not mention it in news releases. It can be found in Table A-12 on the Department of Labor's website where it shows an unemployment rate of 16% for Feb. 2009. It explains why these unemployed Americans are not included in their official unemployment rate: "Marginally attached workers are persons who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not looking currently for a job. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule." In typical government doublespeak, it notes they are not "looking for work" but want work and "have looked for work in the recent past." As a result, these people who want to work are not counted as unemployed. This 16% figure does not include a few million Americans who excluded by the survey parameters for these reasons: Students seeking work are never counted as unemployed. So anyone taking college classes at night and seeking a full-time day job is not counted as unemployed. Pensioners seeking work are never counted as unemployed. This includes those who receive a minimal monthly pension because they retired early, often forcibly. Soldiers in the U.S. military can retire with a small pension as young as age 37, yet they must find work to support their family. However, they are classified as retired and not counted as unemployed.Anyone seeking a full-time job who works a few unpaid hours a week at a family farm or small business is not counted as unemployed. People seeking their first job, such as recent high school and college graduates, and housewives are excluded. The logic is that since they were never employed, they are not unemployed. These games allow the U.S. Government to report a current unemployment rate of just 8.1%, even though its own data of unemployed Americans who want to work indicates an unemployment rate of around 20%. This should concern all Americans because the unemployed burden society by collecting welfare or resorting to crime. A recent surge in Social Security Disability claims indicates another path the desperate unemployed are seeking. CLIP
The Crisis That Could Bring Down Obama (April 15, 2009) http://www.progressive.org/mag/rc041509.html
Goldman Sachs reports better-than-expected profits this quarter. Wells Fargo cleared record profits last week. The President, understandably, points to signs of hope and encourages Americans to be optimistic about the economy. But when do we move from healthy confidence to a confidence game? The banks are reporting profits thanks to massive infusions of taxpayer bailout funds. It's simply silly to be lulled by cheery-sounding reports when the institutions are actually insolvent. At some point we have to take a clear-eyed look at the massive failure of our financial system. Ignoring it won't make it go away.That's more or less what Elizabeth Warren, the distinguished chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, says in her panel's six-month report on the bank bailout. CLIP
The Tower of Basel: Secretive Plans for the Issuing of a Global Currency (April 20, 2009) http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13239
Do we really want the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) issuing our global currency - In an April 7 article in The London Telegraph titled "The G20 Moves the World a Step Closer to a Global Currency," Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote: "A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order. "'We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity,' it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century. "In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global 'quantitative easing'. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it." Indeed they will. The article is subtitled, "The world is a step closer to a global currency, backed by a global central bank, running monetary policy for all humanity." Which naturally raises the question, who or what will serve as this global central bank, cloaked with the power to issue the global currency and police monetary policy for all humanity? CLIP
Meltdown losses of '$4 trillion' (21 April 2009) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8009734.stm
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned credit crunch losses could reach $4 trillion (£2.75tn), damaging the financial system for years to come. It says that even if urgent action is taken to clean up the banking system, the process will be "slow and painful", delaying economic recovery.Banks may need $1.7 trillion in additional capital, the IMF forecasts. And it warns that the cost of the bail-out will severely hit UK government finances with its added debt burden. The IMF report estimates that the total costs of bailing out the UK banking system will add 13.4% to government debt, or about £200bn - compared with 12.1% in the US and 13.9% in Ireland. CLIP
The Housing Bust Takes Center-stage By Mike Whitney (April 21, 2009) http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/the-housing-bust-takes-center-stage-by-mike-whitney/
(...) Assuming the U.S. continues going down the tracks of past financial crises, perhaps the scariest prospect is the likely evolution of public debt, which tends to soar in the aftermath of a crisis. A base-line forecast, using the benchmark of recent past crises, suggests that U.S. national debt will rise by $8.5 trillion over the next three years. Debt rises for a variety of reasons, including bailout costs and fiscal stimulus. But the No. 1 factor is the collapse in tax revenues that inevitably accompanies a deep recession. Eight and a half trillion dollars may sound like a lot. It is more than 50 percent of U.S. national income. But if one looks at the Obama administrations stunning budget-deficit projections, with exceedingly optimistic projections on growth and bank-bailout costs, we think the U.S. is right on track.Tax revenues are already falling sharply across the country as the recession deepens. In fact, Bloomberg News reports that State and local sales-tax revenue fell more sharply in the fourth quarter of 2008 than at any time in the past half century (Corporate and personal income taxes are also declining at a record pace.) This makes it impossible to predict the ultimate cost of the crisis. But what makes it even harder is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner refuses to remove toxic assets from the banks balance sheets using the usual tried and true methods. A recent report from a congressional oversight committee (The Warren Report) revealed that there are three ways to fix the banking system; liquidation, reorganization and subsidization. Geithner has rejected all three of these preferring to implement his own make-shift Public Private Investment Program (PPIP) which is thoroughly untested, has no base of public or political support, and is clearly designed to shift the toxic debts of the banks onto the taxpayer through publicly-funded non recourse loans. (Geithners plan will allow the banks to establish off-balance sheet operations so they can buy their own bad assets from themselves using 94 percent public money) The whole thing is a obvious swindle papered-over with gibberish.So far, less than $10 billion has been transacted through Giethners PPIP; a mere drop in the bucket. The IMF estimates that the banks and other financial institutions may be holding up to $4 trillion in toxic assets. At the current rate, Geithners strategy will take a century to succeed. Theres simply not enough time. The Treasury Secretary knows his plan wont fix the banking system; hes just hoping that the economy rebounds before the government is forced to nationalize the big banks. Its just a stalling ploy, but, even so, there are risks. As the economy worsens, the likelihood of another financial meltdown or a run on the dollar increases. Foreign central banks and investors on getting antsy and are starting to rattle Geithners cage. In recent months China has slowed it purchases of US Treasuries, traded tens of billions of USD in currency swaps, and gone on a spending spree for raw materials; all to protect itself from perceived weakness in the dollar. CLIP
Stock market bulls have got it wrong, warns Nouriel Roubini (21 April 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/stock-market-bulls-have-got-it-wrong-warns-nouriel-roubini-1671690.htm
Nouriel Roubini, the so-called "arch bear" economist who predicted the current financial crisis in 2006, added further gloom yesterday after he wrote off recent rises in global stock markets as no more than a dead cat bounce. (...) However, Mr Roubini, dubbed "Dr Doom" for his warnings about financial meltdown, said there would be more bad news in the next few quarters.In particular, the economist warned of further dangers ahead for the financial services industry in the US. "I see financial shocks in the months ahead. Some financial institutions are in so much trouble we may have to take them over," he said, before adding that losses in the industry could rise from $1 trillion to as high as $3.6 trillion. Firms from across financial services will go out of business or be taken over, he said, particularly focusing on the bleak future for hedge funds. CLIPl
World Bank Calls China: A "Ray of Hope" (04-14-09) http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/world-bank-calls-china-a-ray-of-hope-33134
The Dow has been on a mini-roll. Therefore, most investors are thrilled to see battered stock portfolios recover even a smidgen of their massive losses. The problem is that these investors aren't paying attention to what's happening elsewhere around the globe. And they may be missing out on the opportunity of the decade! That's because the morsels of good economic news coming out of the U.S. are completely overshadowing what's happening in Asia. Just last week, a new report from the World Bank painted a very pretty picture about the economies of China, the world's third-biggest economy, and its Asian neighbors. The World Bank is forecasting that the Chinese economy will grow by 6.5 percent this year and expects it to really take off in 2010. Thanks to China's $586 billion stimulus spending plan, the World Bank is forecasting that the Chinese economy will grow by 6.5 percent this year. Could you imagine the cartwheels Bernanke and Obama would do if the U.S. economy was growing by that amount?Things are so positive in China that the World Bank called China "a bright spot in the region and the global economy" and expects the Chinese economy to really start rocking and rolling in 2010. Vikram Nehru, the World Bank's chief economist for its East Asia region, thinks the worst is behind China and that China has or is very close to bottoming. He said: "The evidence on what's happening in China seems so pervasive and seems to cross so many indicators that I think there is now a growing degree of confidence that the stimulus package in China is having impact. Purchases of inputs have soared. Even consumer confidence is up and of course everybody knows bank lending has accelerated quite significantly." CLIP
Appomattox Again http://www.truthout.org/041009R
(...) Lately, the news has been flooded with reports of citizens arming themselves to the teeth, egged on by right-wing media personalities prophesying doom, the rise of socialism, and that a Marxist dictator now sits in the Oval Office. This frenzy has been spilling from talk radio and television out into the streets for weeks now, and has recently metastasized into acts of outrageous violence. It smells like a new beginning of something this nation has not been forced to endure for nearly a decade. CLIP
Thousands turn out for anti-tax 'tea parties' http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2009/04/thousands-nationwide-turn-out-for-antitax-tea-parties.html
As part of the nationwide "Tax Day Tea Party," an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 demonstrators protested taxes, the federal government and deficit spending outside the White House. But the Secret Service interrupted the rally this afternoon when a suspicious package was thrown over the White House fence. Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and Lafayette Park, across from the White House, were cleared and a bomb-squad robot was brought in to inspect the package. It turned out to be a box of tea bags, and the park was reopened. The Washington Post has video, plus an online Q&A with Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Protesters had wanted to dump a million tea bags into the Potomac, but dumping anything into the river is illegal. In Indiana, however, a big box of tea bags was dumped into the Wabash River despite concerns about possible pollution. Several hundred people attended the protest in Lafayette. Organizers said 760 protests were being held from coast to coast, stoked by tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of angry Americans. Here are roundups from The Associated Press and CBS News. CLIP
Sociopaths in charge - In case you have not seen this yet... http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/604.html
Fraudulent loans are profitable... for crooks - How bad is the current banking crisis? Just one bank alone - IndyMac - generated as many fraudulent loans as the entire Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s. How did it happen? The Bush administration completely shut off all banking regulation. Fraud was everywhere - at the level of the loan broker, at the level of the loan packager, at the investment bank level.
Dubai Collapse (April 17, 2009) NOT A MINUTE TOO SOON! 300,000 SLAVES TOILING IN HORRENDOUS CONDITIONS - AND NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA IS REPORTING THIS IGNOMINIOUS EXPLOITATION OF POOR PEOPLE! http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Find-Freedom.htm?At=048944
This is a long article, that tells a grim story of state sponsored human exploitation that is awful. Of course, the writer has dug up the worst and most dramatic cases but this is still a very bad scene. Systemic abuse of labor is hardly a new innovation and the game is always the same. Recruit the most vulnerable and ill educated who have little capacity to reach out and then grab their passports and put them on starvation wages to keep them tame.Remember, if you starve an animal long enough, he will follow you like a dog. There are many ways to play that game, but it boils down to a daily shortage of calories and plenty of work to fill your time.In the meantime, this paradise in the sand was built on wide open funny money loans that all went poof this past few months, The music has stopped and the ex pats are fleeing. Confidence has evaporated.This state is now going to have to make a living in a world in which available credit has been cut in half and what remains is going to migrate to earning assets. There will be no money for this fantasy on the Gulf for a long time, and pretty soon most of these slaves will be going home, never to return.
(...) There are three different Dubais, all swirling around each other. There are the expats, like Karen; there are the Emiratis, headed by Sheikh Mohammed; and then there is the foreign underclass who built the city, and are trapped here. They are hidden in plain view. You see them everywhere, in dirt-caked blue uniforms, being shouted at by their superiors, like a chain gang -- but you are trained not to look. It is like a mantra: the Sheikh built the city. The Sheikh built the city. Workers? What workers? Every evening, the hundreds of thousands of young men who build Dubai are bussed from their sites to a vast concrete wasteland an hour out of town, where they are quarantined away. Until a few years ago they were shuttled back and forth on cattle trucks, but the expats complained this was unsightly, so now they are shunted on small metal buses that function like greenhouses in the desert heat. They sweat like sponges being slowly wrung out. Sonapur is a rubble-strewn patchwork of miles and miles of identical concrete buildings. Some 300,000 men live piled up here, in a place whose name in Hindi means "City of Gold". In the first camp I stop at -- riven with the smell of sewage and sweat -- the men huddle around, eager to tell someone, anyone, what is happening to them.Sahinal Monir, a slim 24-year-old from the deltas of Bangladesh. "To get you here, they tell you Dubai is heaven. Then you get here and realise it is hell," he says. Four years ago, an employment agent arrived in Sahinal's village in Southern Bangladesh. He told the men of the village that there was a place where they could earn 40,000 takka a month (£400) just for working nine-to-five on construction projects. It was a place where they would be given great accommodation, great food, and treated well. All they had to do was pay an up-front fee of 220,000 takka (£2,300) for the work visa -- a fee they'd pay off in the first six months, easy. So Sahinal sold his family land, and took out a loan from the local lender, to head to this paradise. As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat -- where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees -- for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told him, go home. "But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket," he said. "Well, then you'd better get to work," they replied.
(...) Dubai is not just a city living beyond its financial means; it is living beyond its ecological means. You stand on a manicured Dubai lawn and watch the sprinklers spray water all around you. You see tourists flocking to swim with dolphins. You wander into a mountain-sized freezer where they have built a ski slope with real snow. And a voice at the back of your head squeaks: this is the desert. This is the most water-stressed place on the planet. How can this be happening? How is it possible? The very earth is trying to repel Dubai, to dry it up and blow it away. The new Tiger Woods Gold Course needs four million gallons of water to be pumped on to its grounds every day, or it would simply shrivel and disappear on the winds. The city is regularly washed over with dust-storms that fog up the skies and turn the skyline into a blur. When the dust parts, heat burns through. It cooks anything that is not kept constantly, artificially wet. Dr Mohammed Raouf, the environmental director of the Gulf Research Centre, sounds sombre as he sits in his Dubai office and warns: "This is a desert area, and we are trying to defy its environment. It is very unwise. If you take on the desert, you will lose."Sheikh Maktoum built his showcase city in a place with no useable water. None. There is no surface water, very little acquifer, and among the lowest rainfall in the world. So Dubai drinks the sea. The Emirates' water is stripped of salt in vast desalination plants around the Gulf -- making it the most expensive water on earth. It costs more than petrol to produce, and belches vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as it goes. It's the main reason why a resident of Dubai has the biggest average carbon footprint of any human being -- more than double that of an American. If a recession turns into depression, Dr Raouf believes Dubai could run out of water. "At the moment, we have financial reserves that cover bringing so much water to the middle of the desert. But if we had lower revenues -- if, say, the world shifts to a source of energy other than oil..." he shakes his head. "We will have a very big problem. Water is the main source of life. It would be a catastrophe. Dubai only has enough water to last us a week. There's almost no storage. We don't know what will happen if our supplies falter. It would be hard to survive."Global warming, he adds, makes the problem even worse. "We are building all these artificial islands, but if the sea level rises, they will be gone, and we will lose a lot. Developers keep saying it's all fine, they've taken it into consideration, but I'm not so sure." CLIP Check THESE PICS of Dubai a monument to blatant human rights abuse and human folly!
Dubai: How not to build a city (Apr 05, 2009) http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/613885
A cross between Vegas and Mississauga, Dubai is in danger of becoming a ruin-in-waiting (...) To most, the image conjured up by Dubai is one of superlatives: This is the location of the world's tallest tower (the Burj Dubai), the world's most expensive hotel (the Burj Al Arab), the world's richest horse race (the Dubai World Cup), the world's ... Well, you get the idea.And not to be outdone, there's the brand new The Tiger Woods Dubai, a golf course in the desert that requires four million gallons of water a day to stay green. This in a country built on sand.It's also the site of some of the planet's worst congestion. It's not just that everyone here drives; everyone drives badly. In March 8 of last year, for example, three people were killed and 277 injured in a highway pile-up that involved more than 200 vehicles. Still, it's hard not to be impressed by what has been accomplished here. The extent of this ruin-in-waiting is truly mind-boggling.(...) It's Abu Dhabi, back down the road, that has the vast bulk of the U.A.E.'s oil reserves 95 per cent. Dubai has less than five per cent, and it is not expected to last more than a decade. The economy relies on real estate, tourism and Abu Dhabi, the emirate that is reported to have invested upwards of $10 billion (U.S.) in Dubai's economy. The truth may be that this city will be obsolete in less time than it takes most communities to figure out who and what they are. CLIP
Daredevil Plans Handstand on Top of Burj Dubai (20 April 2009) http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=/data/theuae/2009/April/theuae_April494.xml§ion=theuae
DUBAI - Eskil Ronningsbakken is often just a heartbeat away from death. As a balancing artist, he has performed death-defying handstands on the cliff edges of some of the worlds highest mountains.But now he faces his biggest challenge yet - performing a one-handed handstand at the summit of the Burj Dubai. Eskil Ronningsbakken, from Norway, has applied for permission from master developer Emaar to perform the stunt when the tower opens in September.In his first interview with Dubai media, the 29-year-old said that he wanted to perform the balancing act on the tips of the fingers of one hand. When you only have five fingers touching the building, you feel like you are flying, he said in a telephone interview from his home in Kenya. The Burj Dubai is a testament to human mastery over nature. It sends out the message that anything is possible, he said. I want to do the same thing by performing this act.A spokesman for Emaar declined to comment on whether or not they would allow Ronningsbakken to go ahead with his stunt. In January the Burj Dubai reached the height of 2,684 ft, becoming the tallest man-made structure in history. According to a forecaster at Dubai Met office, who declined to be named, wind pressure at the top of the building would be roughly around 25-30km per hour. Thats not so strong whereby you couldnt stand up, the forecaster said. Its certainly a lot less than it is for other structures at that height.Whether or not he could do it or not would depend on what the wind is like for that day.Experts also warn that at the peak of the Burj Dubai, the building is likely to sway slightly in the wind. Ronningsbakken has been climbing and perfecting his balancing act from the age of five, where he grew up in Norways fjordsw. In one jaw-dropping stunt, he performs a handstand on top of an upturned chair, balanced on top of a pole, balanced on top of a rock wedged between two cliff faces. (more on him HERE)
Obama's First 100 Days: Worse Than Even We Predicted (April 20, 2009) http://www.prisonplanet.com/obamas-first-100-days-worse-than-even-we-predicted.html
From protecting Bush officials who ordered
torture from prosecution, to maintaining and expanding the American empire, to warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, all have remained and intensified under Obama - As President Barack Obama approaches his first 100 days in office, the corporate media prepares a new round of fawning idolatry about the Obama administration's "achievements," yet a summary glance at what Obama has actually done in that short time with regard to expanding the Bush police state and the Neo-Con empire is worse than even we predicted. (...) "The egregious spending will continue, government will balloon in size, American soldiers will be used as cannon fodder for more interventionist wars of the military-industrial complex, U.S. citizens will continue to have their phone calls tapped and their rights curtailed," we forecast last year, "and the Federal Reserve will continue to rule the financial system with an iron fist while the middle class is squeezed out of existence."Who can deny that all those things have only intensified under the Obama administration?The honeymoon is over - Barack Obama has proven himself to be nothing more than we predicted all along - another stooge for the global banking syndicate that has controlled every U.S. president since JFK, and nothing more than a black face on the new world order - sworn to continue and intensify the same agenda that the Bush-Clinton-Bush dynasty advanced before him.
UN Conference Approves Anti-Racism Declaration (21 April 2009) http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-04-21-voa52.cfm
More than 100 countries with delegates at a global conference on racism have agreed on a declaration calling for an end to intolerance and xenophobia. The declaration, adopted Tuesday in Geneva, reaffirms a 2001 statement issued at the first United Nations conference on racism in Durban, South Africa.The decision Tuesday by consensus came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stirred controversy with an address in which he described Israel as "cruel, repressive and racist." Mr. Ahmadinejad's address sparked a walkout by delegates from 23 European Union nations. The United States and eight other Western countries boycotted the conference over fears that it would become a forum for anti-Semitism. U.N. and Western diplomats criticized the Iranian president's remarks as outrageous, anti-Semitic and an incitement to hatred. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Iranian leader used the meeting "to accuse, divide and even incite."
The UN's tough win in Geneva (APRIL 22, 2009 ) http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/04/200942245649870891.html
The United Nations needed a big diplomatic victory, and they got it. Delegates at the Geneva conference on racism managed to adopt a closing resolution and it has come three days ahead of schedule.It carries no small demand, just that the world fights intolerance, racism and hatred of foreigners. The countries that boycotted this gathering, including the US, Australia and Canada are not among the signatories. It has been a difficult few days for the UN. The fall-out from the speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, carried over into the second day, with some of the delegates who walked out of Monday's gathering during his controversial attack on Israel opting not to return, and instead boycotting the rest of the conference.Behind the scenes, in the high ornate halls, officials worked hard getting the agreements they needed from the diplomats, trying to win back the headlines. (...) However, there were many in the hall who believed that not only did the Iranian president have the right to say what he did but that he was right to say what he did.But one man believes Ahmadinejad's outburst helped the Israelis by allowing them to avoid any serious discussion of the treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Jamal Zahalka is a Palestinian-Israeli and sits in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.He told me: "What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians is worse than what happened to black people in the time of apartheid. hey are separating not just Palestinians from Jews, but Palestinian from Palestinian. Yet no one can discuss what is going on because President Ahmadinejad dominated the agenda".Yet, despite the drama and the controversy, the UN has arrived at where it wanted to be. For months there have been debates, discussions and divisions. Now it has a declaration. It has been described as a foundation, the basis of a unity of purpose. But it is missing some important names, and therefore, significant political clout.
France criticizes U.S. for shunning U.N. racism talks (Apr 21, 2009) http://uk.reuters.com/article/usTopNews/idUKTRE53K1Q220090421
PARIS (Reuters) - France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner criticized the United States Tuesday for boycotting a United Nations conference where Iran's president launched a verbal attack on Israel.France, which has strong diplomatic and business ties with the Middle East, had joined a walk-out of delegates in Geneva after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel cruel and racist in a speech Monday, but then returned to the meeting.Kouchner said it was wrong of the United States to shun the conference after announcing it was open for negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. "It's paradoxical -- they don't want to listen to Iran in Geneva but they are ready to talk to them," Kouchner told French radio Europe 1. "More than a paradox, that could really be a mistake." France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has worked hard to mend ties with the United States after a rift over the war in Iraq, and was eager to show off his good relations with U.S. President Barack Obama at this month's NATO summit in Strasbourg. But France has also been keen to maintain close relations with Arab governments, who have supported the conference. Kouchner said France would continue to work on the draft text prepared for the Geneva meeting and expected a result later Tuesday, adding that the declaration would condemn anti-Semitism and the Holocaust."It will be a defeat for Ahmadinejad because there will be, I hope by tonight, this declaration. But the politics of the empty chair is easy. You leave and you shout at the others," Kouchner said. The United States, Canada, Australia and a number of European governments stayed away from the conference on fears it would be hijacked by critics of Israel.
Governments Should Endorse Anti-Racism Declaration (APRIL 22, 2009) http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/04/22/governments-should-endorse-anti-racism-declaration
UN Racism Conference Agrees Document Despite Eight-Nation Boycott (Geneva) Governments that boycotted the UN racism conference should now demonstrate their commitment to fight racism by endorsing the conference declaration, Human Rights Watch said today. By so doing, they can ensure that the conference will be remembered for its commitment to victims of racism and not for an inflammatory speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.The document affirms the right to freedom of expression while combating racism, and calls on governments to take action to eradicate multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination.Nations that attended this conference in good faith proved that its possible to reaffirm the global commitment to fight racism, despite efforts to derail the process, said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. The adoption of this document by consensus only a day after Ahmadinejads divisive speech is a clear message against intolerance. CLIP
Is Leon Panetta Covering Up Torture? http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-04-08/the-cia-torture-cover-up/
Why doesnt Leon Panetta want the CIA investigated or prosecuted for torture allegations? Maybe because some of the men implicated, John Sifton reports, are the ones advising him. On Monday night the confidential report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the CIAs secret detention and interrogation program was published on the website of the New York Review of Books. The report confirms previous allegations about CIA abuses against detainees. Unlike earlier reporting, however, the document is based on irrefutable first hand information: interviews with detainees and U.S. officials. The document describes in stark detail the CIAs use of forced standing, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, assaults, and waterboarding. It also discloses the participation of CIA medical personnel in torture. CLIP
Why Obama Needs to Reveal Even More on Torture (April 20, 2009) http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1892352,00.html
Despite the outcry it has prompted, the Administration was absolutely right to declassify the Department of Justice-CIA interrogation memos. The argument that the letters compromise national security does not hold water. As noted in the memos, the interrogations techniques are taken from the military's escape and evasion training manuals, known as SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) - which in turn were taken from Chinese abusive interrogations used on our troops during the Korean War. If there is any doubt the techniques were already in the public domain, released detainees have more than detailed the abuse interrogation techniques they were subjected to. But Obama should not stop there. The memos justify abusive interrogations by the completely discredited "ticking time-bomb" defense - that if we don't torture a suspect when we know there is an imminent threat, we stand to lose many, many American lives. But what ticking bomb? In one memo it states that it was thanks to waterboarding 9/11's mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who was, according to the memo, subjected to the procedure 183 times) that we learned about a "Second Wave" of attacks. There has been little heard since about the "Second Wave," so without more documents declassified, it can be assumed that KSM made it up to stop the waterboarding CLIP
On Prosecuting War Crimes (21 April 2009) http://www.truthout.org/042109J
(...) I believe that had Nixon and Kissinger been held accountable for their war crimes, we probably would not be in the wars we are in today. That is because in the very divisive process of investigating and prosecuting Nixon and Kissinger and others, we the American people would have learned something life-changing about ourselves as a people and about our acceptance of war. Barack Obama is not given the right by our Constitution to be the judge and jury for torturers. I include Bush and Cheney in this category although they committed other war crimes. Mr. Obama and our Congress took oaths to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land. They must be reminded that they must do this job regardless of whether they think it is divisive or not. If President Obama and the Congress do their jobs of enforcing the law with respect to torture and other Bush and Cheney war crimes, they will begin unraveling the web of deceit that has supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We as Americans will learn things that we must learn to save countless lives here and in countries where we are supporting and waging war.
Richard Armitage: 'Maybe I should have quit' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hEvvUBkYDk
Richard Armitage, the former US Deputy Secretary of State, tells Avi Lewis on Al Jazeera's Fault Lines why he should have resigned from the Bush administration over its lack of respect for the Geneva conventions.
Obama open to prosecution, probe of interrogations (April 21, 2009) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obama_interrogation_memos
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama left the door open Tuesday to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations, saying the United States lost "our moral bearings" with use of the tactics. The question of whether to bring charges against those who devised justification for the methods "is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that," Obama said. The president discussed the continuing issue of terrorism-era interrogation tactics with reporters as he finished an Oval Office meeting with visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan.Obama also said he could support a congressional investigation into the Bush-era terrorist detainee program, but only under certain conditions, such as if it were done on a bipartisan basis. He said he worries about the impact that high-intensity, politicized hearings in Congress could have on the government's efforts to cope with terrorism.The president had said earlier that he didn't want to see prosecutions of the CIA agents and interrogators who took part in waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, so long as they acted within parameters spelled out by government superiors who held that such practices were legal at the time. But the administration's stance on Bush administration lawyers who actually wrote the memos approving these tactics has been less clear and Obama declined to make it so. "There are a host of very complicated issues involved," Obama said. (...) Far from putting the matter in the past, the move has resulted in Obama being buffeted by increased pressure from both sides.Republican lawmakers and former CIA chiefs have criticized Obama's decision, contending that revealing the limits of interrogation techniques will hamper the effectiveness of interrogators and critical U.S. relationships with foreign intelligence services.The release also has appeared to intensify calls for further investigations of the Bush-era terrorist treatment program and for prosecutions of those responsible for any techniques that crossed the line into torture. Obama banned all such techniques days after taking office. CLIP
President Obama in historic handshake with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (April 18, 2009) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6117242.ece
President Obama has been photographed shaking the hand of Venezuela's anti-American leader Hugo Chavez at Summit of the Americas in Trinidad - a moment of considerable symbolism after years of antagonism and outright hostility. Mr Chavez's office was quick to distribute a picture of the pair smiling and clasping hands during the encounter, which came shortly after regional leaders arrived for the 34-nation summit.The Venezuelan leader's office said that he wanted things to change between their two nations. "I want to be your friend," Mr Chavez told his counterpart.The move came as Mr Obama also announced he was seeking a "new beginning" with Cuba, and was willing to work with its government on issues ranging from human rights to migration and the economy. CLIP
Obama calls for 'new beginning' with Cuba (April 18, 2009) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-cuba18-2009apr18,0,813079,full.story
The president signals hope for an end to Cold War acrimony, welcoming Havana's unprecedented gesture a day earlier. - The U.S. and Cuba built sudden momentum Friday toward easing half a century of hostility as President Obama met Havana's willingness to discuss sensitive topics, including human rights, with a declaration that he was ready for a "new beginning" in relations.One official acknowledged that the Obama administration was caught off guard by Cuban President Raul Castro's willingness to discuss issues long considered off-limits by the communist leadership. Obama wants Cuba to make the next move, possibly by releasing political prisoners or removing restrictions on the press, the official said. Cuba's willingness to talk does not mean it is willing to change policies. But the rhetorical exchange was the most hopeful sign in years of a thawing in relations between the two countries. The possibility of change was emphasized by a friendly greeting between Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a longtime U.S. critic and supporter of Cuba. CLIP
The Pulitzer-winning investigation that dare not be uttered on TV (APRIL 21, 2009) http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/21/pulitzer/index.html
(...) Identically, CNN ran an 898-word story on the various Pulitzer winners -- describing virtually every winner -- but was simply unable to find any space even to mention David Barstow's name, let alone inform their readers that he won the Prize for uncovering core corruption at the heart of CNN's coverage of the Iraq War and other military-related matters. No other major television news outlet implicated by Barstow's story mentioned his award, at least as far as I can tell. The outright refusal of any of these "news organizations" even to mention what Barstow uncovered about the Pentagon's propaganda program and the way it infected their coverage is one of the most illuminating events revealing how they operate. So transparently corrupt and journalistically disgraceful is their blackout of this story that even Howard Kurtz and Politico -- that's Howard Kurtz and Politico -- lambasted them for this concealment. Meaningful criticisms of media stars from media critic (and CNN star) Howie Kurtz is about as rare as prosecutions for politically powerful lawbreakers in America, yet this is what he said about the television media's suppression of Barstow's story: "their coverage of this important issue has been pathetic."Has there ever been another Pulitzer-Prize-winning story for investigative reporting never to be mentioned on major television -- let alone one that was twice featured as the lead story on the front page of The New York Times? To pose the question is to answer it.
Up, Up and Away: The Wests Hysterical Reaction to North Korea By Scott Ritter (Apr 17, 2009) http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090417_up_up_and_away_the_wests_hysterical_reaction_to_north_korea/
Six minutes before 1 oclock in the afternoon, on Jan. 23, a 173-foot-tall, two-stage rocket lifted off from Northeast Asia. Capable of carrying a giant 33,000-pound payload, the rockets liquid-fuel engine, supplemented by two solid-fuel strap-on booster rockets, generated nearly half a million pounds of thrust before giving way to the second stage, likewise powered by a liquid-fuel engine. After reaching a height of nearly 430 miles, the rocket released into orbit a 3,850-pound satellite, along with seven smaller probes. Other than the small community of scientists interested in the data expected to be collected from the Ibuki Greenhouse Gases Observatory Satellite (GOSAT), the rockets main payload, very few people around the world took notice of the launch. The United Nations Security Council did not meet in an emergency session to denounce the launch, nor did it craft a package of punitive economic sanctions in response. The reason? The rocket in question, the H-2A, was launched by Japan, at its Tanegashima Space Launch Facility. Deemed an exclusively civilian program, the H-2A has been launched 15 times since its inaugural mission on Aug. 29, 2001. Four of these launches have been in support of exclusively military missions, delivering spy satellites into orbit over North Korea. Although capable of delivering a modern nuclear warhead to intercontinental ranges, the H-2A is seen as a non-threatening system since its liquid-fueled engines require a lengthy fueling process prior to launching, precluding any quick-launch capability deemed essential for a military application.About the AuthorScott Ritterwas a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 and a U.S. Marine intelligence officer. He is author of Target Iran (Nation Books, 2006) and the forthcoming On Dangerous Ground: Following the Path of Americas Failed Arms Control Policy, also published by Nation Books.For more on Scott Ritter, including his previous Truthdig columns, click here.In contrast, on April 5, at 11:30 in the morning, North Korea launched a three-stage rocket called Unha, or Milky Way, which it claimed was carrying a single small communications satellite weighing a few hundred pounds. Like the H-2A, the Unha, better known in the West as the Taepodong-2, is liquid-fueled, requiring weeks of preliminary preparation before launch. Although North Korea declared the vehicle to be intended for launching a satellite, the launch was condemned even before it occurred as dangerous and provocative, unlike Japans similar efforts. CLIP
Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies (April 2, 2009) http://cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10080
On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were "decriminalized," not "legalized." Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense. While other states in the European Union have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization - whereby substances perceived to be less serious (such as cannabis) rarely lead to criminal prosecution - Portugal remains the only EU member state with a law explicitly declaring drugs to be "decriminalized." Because more than seven years have now elapsed since enactment of Portugal's decriminalization system, there are ample data enabling its effects to be assessed.Notably, decriminalization has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law. And while there is a widespread perception that bureaucratic changes need to be made to Portugal's decriminalization framework to make it more efficient and effective, there is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. More significantly, none of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents - from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for "drug tourists" - has occurred. The political consensus in favor of decriminalization is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies - such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage - have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens - enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization. CLIP Check also The success of drug decriminalization in Portugal
Sri Lanka warned of 'catastrophe' (APRIL 22, 2009 ) http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/04/20094221184335402.html
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said that there is a "catastrophic" humanitarian crisis in northern Sri Lanka's conflict zone, where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped.The warning comes as government forces closed in on fighters from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are defying a government ultimatum to give up or face a "final assault", saying they will not surrender. The Red Cross said on Tuesday that about 50,000 people were still stranded in the tiny strip of land in the island's northeast, and a final offensive "could lead to a dramatic increase in the number of civilian casualties"."The situation is nothing short of catastrophic," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the Red Cross operations director in Sri Lanka, said."Ongoing fighting has killed or wounded hundreds of civilians who have only minimal access to medical care."I cannot remember ... as much concentrated pain and exposure to violence with very, very minimal possibilities to reach anywhere that could be called safe."Thousands killedThe United Nations, which estimates that more than 4,500 civilians have been killed in the past three months, has joined calls for a negotiated truce to allow civilians to leave the rebel-held coastal strip.A UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman expressed concern about the "dramatic situation" for civilians still in the war zone."There are innocent civilians, women and children, caught in the middle of the conflict ... so the high commissioner is saying there should be a pause in the hostilities and the LTTE should allow civilians to leave," Ron Redmond, the spokesman, said. Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates those trapped at between 50,000 and 100,000. CLIP
Tough search for Sri Lanka truths (21 April 2009) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8010565.stm
Reporting from Sri Lanka at the moment is extremely difficult. There is no independent access to the northern war zone, or to the thousands of Tamil civilians who have crossed over to government-controlled territory. The only regular sources of information are the government on one side, and websites sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) on the other. There is a propaganda war alongside the conflict on the ground, and confirming details of what is going on is all but impossible. Many journalists covering South Asia have been unable to get visas to travel to Sri Lanka. Some have tried to enter the country as tourists and have been turned back at the airport. Those who do try to travel to the north independently are stopped at a series of checkpoints far away from the war zone. (...) After more than 25 years of civil war, Sri Lanka senses that the defeat of the LTTE is at hand. But the lack of independent accounts of what is happening in the north has given rise to growing concern around the world. "How the war ends will be critical to Sri Lanka's future," argues Robert Templer, the Asia director at the International Crisis Group. "Will it be in a bloody massacre whose memory will be used to incite decades more war and terrorism? Or will we see renewed efforts to find a negotiated end to the fighting, and with it, the possibility of building a new, more peaceful Sri Lanka for all its people?"
Sri Lanka: Protect Civilians in Final Attack (APRIL 20, 2009) http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/04/20/sri-lanka-protect-civilians-final-attack
(New York) - An expected major attack following the Sri Lankan government's "final warning" to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam underscores the need for heightened measures to minimize civilian casualties, Human Rights Watch said today. The continuing laws of war violations by both the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE indicate the need for a United Nations commission of inquiry to investigate war crimes by both sides, Human Rights Watch said. (...) Under international humanitarian law applicable to the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, both the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE are obligated to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilian life and property. But since January, both sides have shown little regard for the safety of civilians in the embattled Vanni region in northeastern Sri Lanka, and more than 4,500 civilians are believed to have died in the fighting, according to UN estimates. The LTTE has violated the laws of war by using civilians as "human shields," by preventing civilians from fleeing the combat zone, and by deliberately deploying their forces close to densely populated civilian areas. The Sri Lankan armed forces have indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas, including hospitals, in violation of the laws of war. (...) "The Sri Lankan government needs to hear loudly and clearly from a concerted international community that they, just as the Tamil Tigers, will be held accountable for what happens to the civilians in the no-fire zone," said Adams. "It is high time for the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka to be officially taken up on the Security Council's agenda. "Individuals who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law with criminal intent - that is, deliberately or recklessly - should be prosecuted for war crimes, Human Rights Watch said. War crimes include using human shields and deliberately attacking civilians. Evidence as to whether indiscriminate attacks on civilians were deliberate or reckless would include information on the known number of civilians in the area under attack, attacks striking presumptively civilian objects such as hospitals, and a showing that such attacks occurred repeatedly. In addition to those who ordered or executed unlawful actions or attacks, commanders who knew or should have known of war crimes being committed and failed to take measures to stop them can be held responsible as a matter of command responsibility. "Military commanders on both sides need to be taking civilian security into account in every action they take," said Adams. "By not doing so, they are leaving themselves open to future investigations and prosecution."
Mass Tamil exodus from rebel area (21 April 2009) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8010818.stm
Sri Lanka says 63,000 Tamil civilians have escaped from the last remaining area of territory held by Tamil Tiger rebels in the past two days. The army said it had made further inroads into the small area in the north, searching for the rebel leader. It said some civilians fled by sea and were met by the navy. They were being transferred to government-run camps. The rebels alleged the army had killed about 1,000 civilians in the latest fighting. There is no confirmation. The rebels also said that about 2,300 civilians have been injured since Monday morning, and accused the government of using Tamil people as human shields and forcing them to clear landmines.See map of the regionA deadline for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to surrender or face a final assault expired at 0630 GMT on Tuesday with no word from the Tigers. However, hours later a rebel official vowed to continue the battle."LTTE will never surrender and we will fight and we have the confidence that we will win with the help of the Tamil people," Seevaratnam Puleedevan told Reuters news agency. CLIP
FM urges against offensive after Sri Lanka ceasefire (April 13, 2009) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jP69uW4KIHZ-mIKEhJgWKjLfa4Tw
LONDON (AFP) - Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged Sri Lanka not to return to all-out fighting against Tamil Tiger rebels after a ceasefire, in a telephone call Monday with his Sri Lankan counterpart.Miliband reiterated to Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollogama his welcome of Colombo's unilateral two-day ceasefire to allow trapped civilians to escape the conflict zone, a spokesman said, and urged rebels to allow civilians to leave."He (Miliband) said that the ceasefire could be an important first step towards the end of conflict without further civilian casualties," a Foreign Office spokesman said."It would be a tragedy if there is a return to intense fighting and civilian deaths after 48 hours -- the government of Sri Lanka will likely need to allow more time."After Sri Lanka stripped Norway of its role as broker of the island's moribund peace process, the spokesman added: "The foreign secretary also emphasised that the international community has a role and can support Sri Lanka."
Norwegian lawyers to accuse Israeli leaders of war crimes (April 21, 2009) http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090421/wl_mideast_afp/mideastconflictisraelgazanorwayjustice
Israel's former prime minister Ehud Olmert and other top officials could face legal action in Norway over the Gaza offensive after six Norwegian lawyers said Tuesday they would accuse them of war crimes. The lawyers, who plan to file their complaint with Norway's chief prosecutor on Wednesday, said they will call for the arrest and extradition of Olmert as well as former foreign affairs minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and seven senior Israeli army officers. Under the Norwegian penal code, courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights.The lawyers released a statement accusing Israel of "massive terrorist attacks" in the Gaza Strip from December 27 last year to January 25, killing civilians, illegally using weapons against civilian targets and deliberately attacking hospitals and medical staff. CLIP
Cash for Clunkers: A Deal to Help Detroit - and the Planet? (Apr. 13, 2009) http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1891065,00.html
(...) In its broad outlines, the prospective policy - for which a number of proposals have been put forward in Congress - would offer Americans cash rebates of up to several thousand dollars if they traded in an old, inefficient car for a new, greener one. The ailing U.S. automakers would receive a shot in the arm - potentially worth up to 2 million additional sales a year - while polluting cars would be taken off the road and replaced with more efficient ones. (All cash-for-clunkers programs require the old cars to be scrapped rather than resold.) "There are significant environmental advantages and substantive benefits for the auto sector," says Benjamin Goldstein, a policy analyst for left-leaning think tank the Center for American Progress. "This goes right for the source of the problem, for vehicles sales and for oil use."President Barack Obama has signaled that he would favor a cash-for-clunkers-style program, saying in a speech on March 30 that he wanted to work with Congress on finding money for rebates in existing stimulus spending. And similar programs already in place in Germany and other European countries have proved very successful - thanks to continental Europe's cash-for-clunkers plan, analysts say that European car sales are now running at more than 13 million vehicles a year, up from an 11 million pace at the start of the year. "It has been pretty successful so far in Germany," says John Wolkonowicz, senior automotive analyst for the research firm IHS Global Insight. CLIP
Obama: High-Speed Rail System Needed (April 16, 2009) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/16/obama-highspeed-rail-syst_n_187684.html
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Thursday outlined plans for a high-speed rail network he said would change the way Americans travel, drawing comparisons to the 1950s creation of the interstate highway system.Obama characterized his plan as a down payment on a rail system that will take decades and hundreds of billions of dollars to build, connecting Chicago and St. Louis, Orlando and Miami, Portland and Seattle and dozens of other metropolitan areas around the country."This is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future," Obama said during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is adjacent to the White House. "It is happening right now. It's been happening for decades. The problem is it's been happening elsewhere, not here."The United States trails other developed countries in developing high-speed rail. The Spanish can travel the 386 miles from Madrid to Barcelona at speeds averaging almost 150 miles per hour. Japan's Shinkansen links its major cities at speeds averaging 180 mph and France's TGV train averages about 133 mph in carrying passengers from Paris to Lyon. CLIP
Cyclones spurt water into the stratosphere, feeding global warming (April 20, 2009) http://www.physorg.com/news159447949.html
Scientists at Harvard University have found that tropical cyclones readily inject ice far into the stratosphere, possibly feeding global warming - The finding, published in Geophysical Research Letters, provides more evidence of the intertwining of severe weather and global warming by demonstrating a mechanism by which storms could drive climate change. Many scientists now believe that global warming, in turn, is likely to increase the severity of tropical cyclones. CLIP
House Republicans Bring Strange Theories and Wacky Witnesses to Climate Hearings (April 20, 2009) http://www.grist.org/article/2009-04-20-house-republicans-bring/
Democratic leaders in the House are pushing hard to get a comprehensive climate and energy bill passed by summer, with discussion of their draft bill slated to begin this week. But at hearings designed to discuss the particulars of climate policy, Republican representatives and their witnesses have been bogging down the proceedings with skeptical rants and cockamamy theories. Take, for example, the March 25 hearing on climate-change adaptation in the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, chaired by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The earth will end only when God declares its time is over, declared Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), explaining why its unnecessary to worry about climate change. In an exchange with witness Lord Christopher Monckton (more on him below), Shimkus suggested the planet is carbon-starved and asked, If we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? ... So all our good intentions could be for vain. In fact, we could be doing the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying. CLIP - STUPIDITY WRIT LARGE!!! AND HERE ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES... (below)
Only 34% of USA Voters Now Blame Humans for Global Warming - Watts Up With That? (April 20, 2009) http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/environment/energy_update#
Note the reversal from just one year ago - On the day the EPA declares CO2 a "dangerous pollutant" we have the from Rasmussen ReportsJust one-out-of-three voters (34%) now believe global warming is caused by human activity, the lowest finding yet in Rasmussen Reports national surveying. However, a plurality (48%) of the Political Class believes humans are to blame.Forty-eight percent (48%) of all likely voters attribute climate change to long-term planetary trends, while seven percent (7%) blame some other reason. Eleven percent (11%) aren't sure. These numbers reflect a reversal from a year ago when 47% blamed human activity while 34% said long-term planetary trends. Most Democrats (51%) still say humans are to blame for global warming, the position taken by former Vice President Al Gore and other climate change activists. But 66% of Republicans and 47% of adults not affiliated with either party disagree. Sixty-two percent (62%) of all Americans believe global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem, with 33% who say it's Very Serious. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it's a not a serious problem. The overall numbers have remained largely the same for several months, but the number who say Very Serious has gone down. Forty-eight percent (48%) of Democrats say global warming is a Very Serious problem, compared to 19% of Republicans and 25% of unaffiliateds. President Obama has made global warming a priority for his administration. Half (49%) of Americans think the president believes climate change is caused primarily by human activity. This is the first time that belief has fallen below 50% since the president took office. Just 19% say Obama attributes global warming to long-term planetary trends.Forty-eight percent (48%) rate the president good or excellent on energy issues. Thirty-two percent (32%) give him poor grades in this area. Sixty-three percent (63%) of adults now say finding new sources of energy is more important that reducing the amount of energy Americans currently consume. However, 29% say energy conservation is the priority. A growing number of Americans (58%) say the United States needs to build more nuclear plants. This is up five points from last month and the highest finding so far this year. Twenty-five percent (25%) oppose the building of nuclear plants. While the economy remains the top issue for most Americans, 40% believe there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Thirty-one percent 31% see no such conflict, while 29% are not sure.
Losing the North (18 April 2009) http://www.truthout.org/042109F
When does one stop development? The customary answer to this question is: You can't refuse Southern countries the possibility of escaping from poverty and, in one way or another, of catching up to the level of comfort enjoyed in Northern countries. Certainly. So, let the countries of the South develop. But when must the countries of the North, for their part, stop developing? (...) Its Prime Minister, Jean Charest, representing business milieus, announced a "Plan for the North," intended to exploit the region of Québec situated north of the 49th parallel - a territory twice as large as that of all France - to National Assembly of the "Belle Province" on March 10. The plan consists of creating great hydroelectric dams and vast mining operations. New roads will be opened. One may imagine that the forest industry will demand to participate in the party. Thus will Québec increase its exports to the United States. It goes without saying, as the prime minister emphasized, "this is a project we will make an model of sustainable development." This project will indubitably generate a flood of dollars, but, also, incontestably, a torrent of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of lakes and other forests, an impoverishment of fauna linked to the opening up of these regions forgotten up until now by men. One or several national parks will certainly be created to delude the willingly credulous citizens into the belief that, in actuality, development of the North is a measure of environmental protection. Let's restore the problem to its most crudely simple terms: If it's true that climate change, the erosion of biodiversity and chemical pollution are major problems, the North must not be developed. Does Québec need that development? According to the Statistical Institute for that province, disposable income per inhabitant is roughly equal to that of France or Japan. One may consider that that's enough and that there is no necessity for enrichment. It's up to Québec's society to decide whether, by occupying it, it wishes to lose the North. But the situation suggests an obvious fact that holds true for all rich countries: Developed countries no longer need to grow.
PG&E makes deal for space solar power (April 13, 2009) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30198977/
Utility to buy orbit-generated electricity from Solaren in 2016, at no risk - California's biggest energy utility announced a deal Monday to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016.San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric said it was seeking approval from state regulators for an agreement to purchase power over a 15-year period from Solaren Corp., an 8-year-old company based in Manhattan Beach, Calif. The agreement was first reported in a posting to Next100, a Weblog produced by PG&E.Solaren would generate the power using solar panels in Earth orbit and convert it to radio-frequency transmissions that would be beamed down to a receiving station in Fresno, PG&E said. From there, the energy would be converted into electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid. CLIP
Blind to be cured with stem cells (April 19, 2009) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article6122757.ece
BRITISH scientists have developed the worlds first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years time. The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells.
Bacteria found thriving beneath Antarctic glacier (April 16, 2009) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jTRUqsKpmAlP526xzV-DVfeHMZgAD97JOFJ00
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hidden in the bone-chilling dark beneath an Antarctic glacier, a colony of strange bacteria is thriving. Scientists investigating the flow of blood-red water from beneath the glacier discovered the bacteria, which have survived for millions of years, living on sulfur and iron compounds, they report in Friday's edition of the journal Science."Among the big questions here are: 'How does an ecosystem function below glaciers?', 'How are they able to persist below hundreds of meters of ice and live in permanently cold and dark conditions for extended periods of time, in the case of Blood Falls, over millions of years?" said lead researcher Jill Mikucki of Harvard University. (...) The pool is so deep under the ice and so far back from the edge that the researchers couldn't drill down to it, but they were able to collect some of the outflow for testing."When I started running the chemical analysis on it, there was no oxygen," Mikucki said. "That was when this got really interesting, it was a real 'eureka' moment." Most of the bacteria she found were descended from marine microorganisms - not from those found on land - and they were able to live without the food and light sources of the open ocean. CLIP - Check also Ice bugs colony forces life rethink
The Mother's Act - infringement or salvation? http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=222x58155
(...) Women fought for years to gain acceptance of the fact that many female health problems were real and not symptoms of hypochondria. The psycho-pharmaceutical cartel's profit-driven invention of an epidemic of pregnancy-related mental disorders will wipe out a century of work toward that acceptance.Sadly, the end result of this latest marketing scheme will be that the relatively few women who truly do suffer from postpartum depression will not be taken seriously.The Mother's Act legislation has already passed in the US House of Representatives. A majority vote in the Senate would represent a major coup for a multibillion dollar industry."Like many of the acts of Congress, the real beneficiary will not be the mothers and their children but the "mental health" workers who will be handsomely paid and the drug companies that are behind this legislation," says Steve Hayes, the director of he Novus Medical Detox Center, in the center's July 31, 2008 newsletter. The Mothers Act (S. 1375: Mom's Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act) has the net affect of reclassifying the natural process of pregnancy and birth as a mental disorder that requires the use of unproven and extremely dangerous psychotropic medications (which can also easily harm the child). Urgent consumer action (see below) is needed to stop this atrocity, as the Senate could now vote any day. CLIP More on this through this LINK Here are a couple comments on this bill from http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/111_SN_324.html "This bill is a shameless promotion for Pharmaceutical company profits. Does it strike anybody as strange it is named for a lady who committed suicide probably BECAUSE of the drugs?" -- "Absolutely should not pass, these drugs are dangerous to both mother and infants, the effects are unknown long term. Way too dangerous to be used by anyone with too many side effects that are worse than the symptoms of the original problem were in the first place. No way, no how, not ever, throw this bill into a giant shredder where it belongs."
'Wi-fi networks must be removed from schools to stop children getting cancer,' teachers insist (9th April 2009) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1168547/Wi-fi-networks-removed-schools-stop-children-getting-cancer-teachers-insist.html
Wireless 'wi-fi' technology should be removed from schools to prevent millions of children suffering a heightened risk of cancer and sterility, teachers have demanded. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers called for classroom wireless networks to be suspended immediately until research has properly considered the threat to health. Members said they were concerned by scientific reports linking wi-fi with impaired concentration, loss of short-term memory, chromosome damage and increased incidence of cancer. But there have been no long-term studies into the health effects, they said, even though 70 per cent of secondary schools and 50 per cent of primaries have already introduced it. Wi-fi systems use high frequency radio waves to transmit and receive data over distances of several hundred feet. They allow users to surf the internet on demand within range of a wireless transmitter and remove the need to connect via a cable.Colin Kinney, Cookstown High School, in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, who highlighted the issue at the ATL's annual conference, cited international experts who had called for caution when introducing wi-fi technology. He said research from Sweden had warned about the increased cancer risk and the Government there now funds shielding agents, such as foil covered rooms and anti-radiation point. Mr Kinney said a Government scientist from Austria had called for wi-fi to be removed from schools claiming there was evidence of 'increased symptoms as well as increased cancer rates'.He said Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, had called for a precautionary approach when siting masts near schools. CLIP
Wake Up Call (April 3, 2009 - 13 min - Full transcript included) MUST WATCH! Quite moving... http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=797215
If you own a mobile phone, you must see this. For years, the experts have been arguing over them. Some say they're perfectly safe, others claim they fry your brains. Well, an international team of doctors, including two of Australia's finest surgeons, have just released their latest, comprehensive research. And, as the father of young children, it really made Liam Bartlett sit up and take notice. They say prolonged use of mobile phones could double the risk of malignant brain tumours. The deadliest of all cancers, the kind that leaves no survivors. With an entire generation now growing up hooked on their mobiles, that could be absolutely devastating. -- There is an important comment on this TV report taken from HERE: "Australias 60 Minutes investigative TV program tonight aired a report on cell phone dangers not to be missed. In it, Australian neurosurgeons Charles Teo and Vini Khurana tell of their concerns, including an apparent alarming increase in children with aggressive brain tumours. The other side of the controversy is also given by Rodney Croft, Director of the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research (ACRBR) who is adamant that cell phones are harmless and that Teo and Khurana are wrong. Although ACRBR presents itself as a leader in cell phone research it has a huge conflict of interest problem by being a joint partner with Telstra - and an examination of its history finds links with the transnational public relations agency Burson Marsteller , the worlds biggest PR firm well known for its work on behalf of the tobacco industry, the industry group the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) and Motorola.Telstra has good reason to be partners with ACRBR. This is seen in the 2004 Telstra Annual Report where it was stated in bold type, under the heading Risk factors that [t]he establishment of a link between adverse health effects and electromagnetic energy (EME) could expose us to liability or negatively affect our operations. Consequently, any research effort into this possible link would be of vital importance to Telstra, not because of the truth it may uncover but its potential to adversely impact on litigation, regulation and the corporations bottom line. As Sheldon Krimsky observed: Corporations view science not as a generator of truth but as one among many inputs into production(See: Science in the Private Interest: Has the lure of profits corrupted biomedical research? Sheldon Krimsky, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2003)." More on this story HERE - You can also download from HERE a peer-reviewed article by Dr Khurana & colleagues on CELL PHONES & BRAIN TUMORS published in Surgical Neurology - Key finding: Using a cell phone regularly for 10 or more years DOUBLES the risk of the user developing a brain tumor on the same side of the head as that preferred for cell phone usage. "The authors have provided the most comprehensive study and analysis to date of this topic, which, until the last year or so, has remained controversialmost studies denying a relation between cell phone use and a risk of brain tumor development." - Comment by Dr R. PAWL, USA, Neurosurgeon & Section Editor of Surgical Neurology. Here is the conclusion of this VERY extensive study entitled Cell phones and brain tumors: a review including the long-term epidemiologic data: "The authors believe that the aforementioned epidemiologic and laboratory findings underscore the need for reassessment by governments worldwide of cell phone and also mast radiation exposure standards and the usage and deployment of this technology. If the epidemiologic data continue to be confirmed, then in the absence of appropriate and timely intervention and given the increasing global dependence on cell phone technology especially among the young generation, it is likely that neurosurgeons will see increasing numbers of primary brain tumors, both benign and malignant."
Killers Exposed Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuptoOcRSho
Killers Exposed Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5KDdKSs2k4
People who started using cell phones in their teens have 5 times more risks of getting a deadly brain cancer by the end of their 20's. This is the worst time bomb ever created with literally 100's of millions of deadly brain cancer tumors stealthily developing - all of which is now fully and credibly exposed while most national governments (except Russia, India, Israel, Finland and France which have now warned their citizens about the possible health dangers of mobile phones around children, while the European Union parliament has voted overwhelmingly last September 2008 to recommended tighter safety standards for mobiles) are sleeping at the wheel and allowing deadly devices to be sold - and there are now 4 billions cell phone users worldwide... just imagine the consequences!!! No wonder... most government officials have had their brain so thoroughly fried by their cell phone use they can no longer see the extent of mobile phone industry's influence in preventing the truth from coming out about their highly profitable but criminally lethal products... These 2 videos are a MUST see and for God's sake take these loaded cell phone guns out of your kids' hands - permanently!! - and think twice before putting any such brain frier to your head next time you feel too lazy to use your regular land line to talk on the phone.
Cancer and Mobile Cell Phone EMR EMF Radiation in Children http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2U2-7dgykc
Are we literally talking ourselves to death? While there is evidence for and against, this compelling video may make you rethink letting your child use a mobile phone, and may even may you think twice about using it yourself. Dr. Charlie Tia, a preeminent Australian neurosurgeon has a message well think twice about using one yourself. I have certainly reduced my usage. Whatever your position, this video makes for an interesting watch. 100's of related videos through this LINK including Dr. George Carlo EMF Cell Phone Dangers Interview - in 2006 - Dr. Carlo talks about the cell phone industry's marketing towards children and the epidemic projections from cell phone use.
There are at least 8 million unique species of life on the planet, if not far more, and you could be forgiven for believing that all of them can be found in Andasibe. Walking through this rain forest in Madagascar is like stepping into the library of life. Sunlight seeps through the silky fringes of the Ravenea louvelii, an endangered palm found, like so much else on this African island, nowhere else. Leaf-tailed geckos cling to the trees, cloaked in green. A fat Parson's chameleon lies lazily on a branch, beady eyes scanning for dinner. But the animal I most hoped to find, I don't see at first; I hear it, though - a sustained groan that electrifies the forest quiet. My Malagasy guide, Marie Razafindrasolo, finds the source of the sound perched on a branch. It is the black-and-white indri, largest of the lemurs - a type of small primate found only in Madagascar. The cry is known as a spacing call, a warning to other indris to keep their distance, to prevent competition for food. But there's not much risk of interlopers. The species - like many other lemurs, like many other animals in Madagascar, like so much of life on Earth - is endangered and dwindling fast.
Madagascar - which separated from India 80 million to 100 million years ago before eventually settling off the southeastern coast of Africa - is in many ways an Earth apart. All that time in geographic isolation made Madagascar a Darwinian playground, its animals and plants evolving into forms utterly original. They include species as strange-looking as the pygmy mouse lemur - a chirping, palm-size mammal that may be the smallest primate on the planet - and as haunting as the carnivorous fossa, a catlike animal about 30 in. long. Some 90% of the island's plants and about 70% of its animals are endemic, meaning that they are found only in Madagascar. But what makes life on the island unique also makes it uniquely vulnerable. "If we lose these animals on Madagascar, they're gone forever," says Russell Mittermeier, president of the wildlife group Conservation International (CI).
That loss seems likelier than ever because the animals are under threat as never before. Once lushly forested, Madagascar has seen more than 80% of its original vegetation cut down or burned since humans arrived at least 1,500 years ago, fragmenting habitats and leaving animals effectively homeless. Unchecked hunting wiped out a number of large species, and today mining, logging and energy exploration threaten those that remain. "You have an area the size of New Jersey in Madagascar that is still under forest, and all this incredible diversity is crammed into it," says Mittermeier, an American who has been traveling to the country for more than 25 years. "We're very concerned."
Madagascar is a conservation hot spot - a term for a region that is very biodiverse and particularly threatened - and while that makes the island special, it is hardly alone. Conservationists estimate that extinctions worldwide are occurring at a pace that is up to 1,000 times as great as history's background rate before human beings began proliferating. Worse, that die-off could be accelerating.
Price of Extinction
There have been five extinction waves in the planet's history - including the Permian extinction 250 million years ago, when an estimated 70% of all terrestrial animals and 96% of all marine creatures vanished, and, most recently, the Cretaceous event 65 million years ago, which ended the reign of the dinosaurs. Though scientists have directly assessed the viability of fewer than 3% of the world's described species, the sample polling of animal populations so far suggests that we may have entered what will be the planet's sixth great extinction wave. And this time the cause isn't an errant asteroid or megavolcanoes. It's us.
Through our growing numbers, our thirst for natural resources and, most of all, climate change - which, by one reckoning, could help carry off 20% to 30% of all species before the end of the century - we're shaping an Earth that will be biologically impoverished. A 2008 assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature found that nearly 1 in 4 mammals worldwide was at risk for extinction, including endangered species like the famous Tasmanian devil. Overfishing and acidification of the oceans are threatening marine species as diverse as the bluefin tuna and reef-forming corals. "Just about everything is going down," says Simon Stuart, head of the IUCN's species-survival commission. "And when I think about the impact of climate change, it really scares me."
Scary for conservationists, yes, but the question arises, Why should it matter to the rest of us? After all, nearly all the species that were ever alive in the past are gone today. Evolution demands extinction. When we're using the term extinction to talk about the fate of the U.S. auto industry, does it really matter if we lose species like the Holdridge's toad, the Yangtze River dolphin and the golden toad, all of which have effectively disappeared in recent years? What does the loss of a few species among millions matter?
For one thing, we're animals too, dependent on this planet like every other form of life. The more species living in an ecosystem, the healthier and more productive it is, which matters for us - a recent study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates the economic value of the Amazon rain forest's ecosystem services to be up to $100 per hectare (about 2? acres). When we pollute and deforest and make a mess of the ecological web, we're taking out mortgages on the Earth that we can't pay back - and those loans will come due. Then there are the undiscovered organisms and animals that could serve as the basis of needed medicines - as the original ingredients of aspirin were derived from the herb meadowsweet - unless we unwittingly destroy them first. "We have plenty of stories about how the loss of biodiversity creates problems for people," says Carter Roberts, WWF's president.
Forests razed can grow back, polluted air and water can be cleaned - but extinction is forever. And we're not talking about losing just a few species. In fact, conservationists quietly acknowledge that we've entered an age of triage, when we might have to decide which species can truly be saved. The worst-case scenarios of habitat loss and climate change - and that's the pathway we seem to be on - show the planet losing hundreds of thousands to millions of species, many of which we haven't even discovered yet. The result could be a virtual genocide of much of the animal world and an irreversible impoverishment of our planet. Humans would survive, but we would have doomed ourselves to what naturalist E.O. Wilson calls the Eremozoic Era - the Age of Loneliness.
So if you care about tigers and tamarins, rhinos and orangutans, if you believe Earth is more than just a home for 6.7 billion human beings and counting, then you should be scared. But fear shouldn't leave us paralyzed. Environmental groups worldwide are responding with new methods to new threats to wildlife. In hot spots like Madagascar and Brazil, conservationists are working with locals on the ground, ensuring that the protection of endangered species is tied to the welfare of the people who live closest to them. A strategy known as avoided deforestation goes further, incentivizing environmental protection by putting a price on the carbon locked in rain forests and allowing countries to trade credits in an international market, provided that the carbon stays in the trees and is not cut or burned. And as global warming forces animals to migrate in order to escape changing climates, conservationists are looking to create protected corridors that would give the species room to roam. It's uncertain that any of this will stop the sixth extinction wave, let alone preserve the biodiversity we still enjoy, but we have no choice but to try. "We have a window of opportunity," says Kassie Siegel, director of the climate, energy and air program of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). "But it's slamming shut."
To Save the Species, Save the People
Madagascar, which Mittermeier calls the "hottest of the hot spots," is where all the new strategies can be road-tested. In 2003, after decades when conservation was barely on the government's agenda, then-President Marc Ravalomanana announced that the government would triple Madagascar's protected areas over the following five years. That decision helped underfunded parks like Andasibe's, which protects some of the last untouched forest on the island. "You can't save a species without saving the habitat where it lives," says WWF's Roberts.
Do that right, and you can even turn a profit in the process. In Madagascar, half the revenues from national parks are meant to go to the surrounding communities. The reserves in turn help sustain an industry for local guides like Razafindrasolo. In a country as poor as Madagascar - where 61% of the people live on less than $1 a day - it makes sense to give locals an economic stake in preserving wildlife rather than destroying it. "If you don't get the support of the people living near a conservation area, it's just a matter of time before you'll lose [the area]," says Steven Sanderson, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat
A small portion of the world's people use up most of the earth's resources and produce most of its greenhouse gas emissions
by Fred Pearce - April 16, 2009
It's the great taboo, I hear many environmentalists say. Population growth is the driving force behind our wrecking of the planet, but we are afraid to discuss it.
It sounds like a no-brainer. More people must inevitably be bad for the environment, taking more resources and causing more pollution, driving the planet ever farther beyond its carrying capacity. But hold on. This is a terribly convenient argument - "over-consumers" in rich countries can blame "over-breeders" in distant lands for the state of the planet. But what are the facts?
The world's population quadrupled to six billion people during the 20th century. It is still rising and may reach 9 billion by 2050. Yet for at least the past century, rising per-capita incomes have outstripped the rising head count several times over. And while incomes don't translate precisely into increased resource use and pollution, the correlation is distressingly strong.
Moreover, most of the extra consumption has been in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population.
By almost any measure, a small proportion of the world's people take the majority of the world's resources and produce the majority of its pollution. Take carbon dioxide emissions - a measure of our impact on climate but also a surrogate for fossil fuel consumption. Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environment Institute, calculates that the world's richest half-billion people - that's about 7 percent of the global population - are responsible for 50 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile the poorest 50 percent are responsible for just 7 percent of emissions.
Although overconsumption has a profound effect on greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of our high standard of living extend beyond turning up the temperature of the planet. For a wider perspective of humanity's effects on the planet's life support systems, the best available measure is the "ecological footprint," which estimates the area of land required to provide each of us with food, clothing, and other resources, as well as to soak up our pollution. This analysis has its methodological problems, but its comparisons between nations are firm enough to be useful.
They show that sustaining the lifestyle of the average American takes 9.5 hectares, while Australians and Canadians require 7.8 and 7.1 hectares respectively; Britons, 5.3 hectares; Germans, 4.2; and the Japanese, 4.9. The world average is 2.7 hectares. China is still below that figure at 2.1, while India and most of Africa (where the majority of future world population growth will take place) are at or below 1.0.
The United States always gets singled out. But for good reason: It is the world's largest consumer. Americans take the greatest share of most of the world's major commodities: corn, coffee, copper, lead, zinc, aluminum, rubber, oil seeds, oil, and natural gas. For many others, Americans are the largest per-capita consumers. In "super-size-me" land, Americans gobble up more than 120 kilograms of meat a year per person, compared to just 6 kilos in India, for instance.
I do not deny that fast-rising populations can create serious local environmental crises through overgrazing, destructive farming and fishing, and deforestation. My argument here is that viewed at the global scale, it is overconsumption that has been driving humanity's impacts on the planet's vital life-support systems during at least the past century. But what of the future?
We cannot be sure how the global economic downturn will play out. But let us assume that Jeffrey Sachs, in his book Common Wealth, is right to predict a 600 percent increase in global economic output by 2050. Most projections put world population then at no more than 40 percent above today's level, so its contribution to future growth in economic activity will be small.
Of course, economic activity is not the same as ecological impact. So let's go back to carbon dioxide emissions. Virtually all of the extra 2 billion or so people expected on this planet in the coming 40 years will be in the poor half of the world. They will raise the population of the poor world from approaching 3.5 billion to about 5.5 billion, making them the poor two-thirds.
Sounds nasty, but based on Pacala's calculations - and if we assume for the purposes of the argument that per-capita emissions in every country stay roughly the same as today - those extra two billion people would raise the share of emissions contributed by the poor world from 7 percent to 11 percent.
Look at it another way. Just five countries are likely to produce most of the world's population growth in the coming decades: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The carbon emissions of one American today are equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians.
Even if we could today achieve zero population growth, that would barely touch the climate problem - where we need to cut emissions by 50 to 80 percent by mid-century. Given existing income inequalities, it is inescapable that overconsumption by the rich few is the key problem, rather than overpopulation of the poor many.
But, you ask, what about future generations? All those big families in Africa begetting yet-bigger families. They may not consume much today, but they soon will.
Well, first let's be clear about the scale of the difference involved. A woman in rural Ethiopia can have ten children and her family will still do less damage, and consume fewer resources, than the family of the average soccer mom in Minnesota or Munich. In the unlikely event that her ten children live to adulthood and have ten children of their own, the entire clan of more than a hundred will still be emitting less carbon dioxide than you or I.
And second, it won't happen. Wherever most kids survive to adulthood, women stop having so many. That is the main reason why the number of children born to an average woman around the world has been in decline for half a century now. After peaking at between 5 and 6 per woman, it is now down to 2.6.
This is getting close to the "replacement fertility level" which, after allowing for a natural excess of boys born and women who don't reach adulthood, is about 2.3. The UN expects global fertility to fall to 1.85 children per woman by mid-century. While a demographic "bulge" of women of child-bearing age keeps the world's population rising for now, continuing declines in fertility will cause the world's population to stabilize by mid-century and then probably to begin falling.
Far from ballooning, each generation will be smaller than the last. So the ecological footprint of future generations could diminish. That means we can have a shot at estimating the long-term impact of children from different countries down the generations.
The best analysis of this phenomenon I have seen is by Paul Murtaugh, a statistician at Oregon State University. He recently calculated the climatic "intergenerational legacy" of today's children. He assumed current per-capita emissions and UN fertility projections. He found that an extra child in the United States today will, down the generations, produce an eventual carbon footprint seven times that of an extra Chinese child, 46 times that of a Pakistan child, 55 times that of an Indian child, and 86 times that of a Nigerian child.
Of course those assumptions may not pan out. I have some confidence in the population projections, but per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide will likely rise in poor countries for some time yet, even in optimistic scenarios. But that is an issue of consumption, not population.
In any event, it strikes me as the height of hubris to downgrade the culpability of the rich world's environmental footprint because generations of poor people not yet born might one day get to be as rich and destructive as us. Overpopulation is not driving environmental destruction at the global level; overconsumption is. Every time we talk about too many babies in Africa or India, we are denying that simple fact.
At root this is an ethical issue. Back in 1974, the famous environmental scientist Garret Hardin proposed something he called "lifeboat ethics". In the modern, resource-constrained world, he said, "each rich nation can be seen as a lifeboat full of comparatively rich people. In the ocean outside each lifeboat swim the poor of the world, who would like to get in." But there were, he said, not enough places to go around. If any were let on board, there would be chaos and all would drown. The people in the lifeboat had a duty to their species to be selfish - to keep the poor out.
Hardin's metaphor had a certain ruthless logic. What he omitted to mention was that each of the people in the lifeboat was occupying ten places, whereas the people in the water only wanted one each. I think that changes the argument somewhat.
In the first of a series of articles marking his first 100 days, Rupert Cornwell assesses his foreign policy
21 April 2009
Some already talk of an 'Obama Doctrine'. Others, sensing that everything may end in tears, compare him to Mikhail Gorbachev, who set out to change the image of Communism and ended up by destroying Communism itself. One thing however is incontestable. Barack Obama has set a new imprint on his country's foreign policy and far more quickly than the last Soviet leader ever did.
Mr Gorbachev had been in power for 18 months before the "new thinking" and "perestroika" got under way in earnest in 1986. By contrast, Mr Obama still has a week left of his first 100 days in office, by which a new American president is judged, and his approach is visible everywhere.
The changes have been breathtaking in their speed and scope. He has signalled readiness to talk to those two longstanding foes of the US, Iran and Cuba. He has announced a "reset" of relations with Russia, launching a new round of nuclear arms negotiations and even offering to quietly drop plans to install missile defence units in central Europe, a plan Moscow detests, in return for Russian help in getting Iran to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
He has held a civil conversation with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, arch "Yanqui"-baiter and troublemaker of Latin America. He has admitted to the Europeans that, yes, a lack of regulation of US financial markets was largely responsible for the global credit crisis.
He has shut down the CIA's ghost camps and ordered the publication in their virtual entirety of memos that set out in minute detail the "enhanced interrogation techniques" i.e. torture authorised by the previous administration of George Bush.
He has pledged a new drive for peace in the Middle East, that by all indications would involve a two-state solution for the Israel/Palestine conflict, and a deal between Israel and Syria that would return to the latter the Golan Heights. He has taken action on greenhouse gases and climate change that would have been unthinkable under Mr Bush. The world is still rubbing its eyes.
Indeed, in terms of style there is already an Obama Doctrine: of coming across as being as different from his predecessor as can be imagined.
"I have come to listen," the 44th President said on his first trip to Europe last month, a trip that included both G20 and Nato summits, forums in which the US would have previously sought to lay down the law. Listening was never a quality attributed to Mr Bush.
To a large degree this more respectful approach reflects Mr Obama's unusual background. The first President from a racial minority, the first to have lived in another country (and Muslim Indonesia to boot), he can instinctively understand how other countries see the US in a way that his predecessors even that super-quick study Bill Clinton never could.
But it also reflects Mr Obama's personality. Pragmatism is his trademark, and the quality he is said to prize most highly in those around him. You see it in the cool and measured thoughtfulness with which he articulates policy. Mr Obama is a realist, who surely agrees wholeheartedly with that classic definition of madness: continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.
Thus, in particular, the change in strategy towards Cuba and the gra-dual abandonment of a policy that had stood unchanged for half a century. That policy, as any realist can see, is no nearer than it was in the early 1960s to delivering its objective of toppling the Castro regime. In other words, if it's broke, fix it.
Last weekend's Summit of the Americas provided another fine example of Obama realism, this time in response to the howls of outrage from the right back at home over his meeting with Mr Chavez. Venezuela, he noted when a reporter raised the issue, had a defence budget that was "probably one-600th of that of the US". It was therefore "unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States". The language was vintage Obama, dry and faintly mocking. Its subtext might have been, why can't we all grow up?
But growing up is not easy. Even many Republicans admit that Mr Bush's unilateralist, "either with us or against us" approach, which was especially visible in his first term, had been counterproductive and that the damage inflicted on America's moral standing by Abu Ghraib and the like had to be made good.
Go too far in the other direction however, and sweet reason can be seen as a sign of weakness. That was the error of Mr Gorbachev. For the first time, the Soviet Union had a leader who did not inspire fear. His own citizens despised him for it; those of its client states rejoiced and broke free.
America of course does not have an authoritarian system of government, built upon fear. Even so, admission of error clashes with a widespread assumption that America is somehow "better" than other countries. History's great powers have rarely been comfortable apologising for their behaviour. The US, where the doctrine of American exceptionalism still burns bright, is no exception. More important (and more pragmatically), the Obama approach may not work. On the streets of Europe, the crowds were cheering. But in the conference chambers, Europe's governments balked at the new President's demands for a global stimulus package and for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Russians quickly shot down the trial balloon of a trade-off between missile defence and Iran. And Iran responded to US signals of closer diplomatic engagement by hauling the Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi before a one-day kangaroo court and sentencing her to eight years in prison for being a spy.
As Lord Palmerston, among others, pointed out, countries do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests. Foreign powers may admire Mr Obama, but they will not let that affection blind them to their own interests and the same is true in reverse. Better relations with friend and foe alike are desirable. But what will happens when the Obama doctrine of sweet reason collides with the American national interest?
CIA chief Leon Panetta orders closure of secret rendition sites
Ed Pilkington - 10 April 2009
The head of the CIA moved yesterday to formalise the new Obama administration's break with the past in its approach to national security, when he ordered the final decommissioning of secret overseas sites where the US had held, and in some cases tortured, al-Qaida prisoners.
Leon Panetta told the agency's staff that he was overturning one of the causes of complaint of human rights groups about detentions of terrorist suspects under the Bush regime: the use of private contractors to secure prisoners. From now on private security firms will no longer have any role in the sites, a shift that has the added benefit of saving the CIA some $4m (£2.7m).
The rejection of the services of private security firms in itself marks a clean break with past practices. During the Bush era, contractors enjoyed a bonanza - particularly in Iraq, where they were used to perform many of the roles of the overstretched military.
Panetta said that the sites - which are now empty, having received no new detainees since he took over the agency in February - would be decommissioned under the auspices of the agency itself. His announcement puts into practice the signal given by President Obama on the second day of his administration that he would have the facilities closed.
The overseas detention sites, in Afghanistan, eastern Europe, Thailand and elsewhere, became one of the most potent symbols of George Bush's controversial reign in the White House. Human rights groups protested that they were used for "renditions" of suspects to locations where they were withheld habeas corpus and subjected to harsh interrogations, in some cases amounting to torture.
Up to 100 suspects were held in the sites, about a third of whom were put through interrogation methods that were toughened up after 9/11 well beyond the limitations previously laid down in the army field manual. That included the technique known as water-boarding in which the prisoner has water poured over a cloth placed over his face, inducing the sensation of drowning.
In his email statement to CIA employees, Panetta also made clear that suspects would no longer be "renditioned" to foreign security forces in order for them to be tortured outside the ethical rules set by the US. Under the Bush administration, several suspects are understood to have been flown to countries such as Syria and put at the mercy of their interrogators.
"CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behaviour or allegations of abuse. That holds true whether a suspect is in the custody of an American partner or a foreign liaison service," he said.
This week the Red Cross issued a report in which it said that CIA doctors had been used to monitor the health impacts of torture, which it condemned as a "gross breach of medical ethics".
Waterboarding aside, the methods used included slamming prisoners heads against walls and making them stand naked with arms above their heads for two or three days.
Related article and video:
General Taguba: Accountability for Torture Does Not Stop at White House Door http://www.truthout.org/041809B
Andrew Kalloch, Harvard Law Record: "Major General Antonio Taguba called for an independent commission to investigate war crimes committed by senior members of the Bush Administration in remarks in Ames Courtroom on Tuesday, April 14. The event was sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School."
Keith Olbermann: US Must "Move Forward" with Torture Accountability Now http://www.truthout.org/video/041809Y
Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on why a better future for the United States must begin with a criminal investigation into who is responsible for the Bush administration torture memos.
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as "one of the great menace of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell -- and some justice on their side.
Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age of piracy" - from 1650 to 1730 - the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda-heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains of All nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then - plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry - you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O' Nine Tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.
Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century." They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy." This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.
The words of one pirate from that lost age - a young British man called William Scott - should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live." In 1991, the government of Somalia - in the Horn of Africa - collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish-stocks by over-exploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia's unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."
This is the context in which the men we are calling "pirates" have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a 'tax' on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and it's not hard to see why. In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas." William Scott would understand those words.
No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters - especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But the "pirates" have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalian news-site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking - and it found 70 percent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country's territorial waters." During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America's founding fathers paid pirates to protect America's territorial waters, because they had no navy or coastguard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn't act on those crimes - but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world's oil supply, we begin to shriek about "evil." If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause - our crimes - before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia's criminals.
The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail in today - but who is the robber?
Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent newspaper. To read more of his articles, click here, or here.
POSTSCRIPT: Some commenters seem bemused by the fact that both toxic dumping and the theft of fish are happening in the same place - wouldn't this make the fish contaminated? In fact, Somalia's coastline is vast, stretching to 3300km. Imagine how easy it would be - without any coastguard or army - to steal fish from Florida and dump nuclear waste on California, and you get the idea. These events are happening in different places - but with the same horrible effect: death for the locals, and stirred-up piracy. There's no contradiction.
Pirates and Poverty http://www.truthout.org/042109C
(...) Piracy off the Somali coast has become a major growth industry for this failed state. While the pirates are hardly al-Qaeda, they've learned from al-Qaeda's example the enormous power of the clever use of simple weapons. But there's a more important parallel here than tactics. Piracy in Somalia, like terrorism, is an act of violence fed not just by ideology or greed, but by the indifference of the developed world to the fate of poor, distant, lawless places where desperation grows unchecked. CLIP
'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/10/2008109174223218644.html
Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said."The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast.According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year.While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al Jazeera the world body has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline."I must stress however, that no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible," he said. Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s. But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a "frightening activity" that has been going on for more than decade."Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said."European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne."And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes you name it." Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments. "We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem," he said.However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues. "What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean," he said. CLIP
U.S. shipped 989 munitions containers to Israel week before Gaza invasion
Australian Herald - 10th April, 2009
In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.
Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.
According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.
The international organization says 300 of the containers had been unloaded at Ashod in March by a German cargo ship, Wehr Elb.
"We are sure that the consignment contained arms and munitions." We have a strong suspicion that it contained white phosphorous which has been used against civilians in Gaza," Brian Wood, head of Arms Control Campaign at Amnesty International in London said late this week.
"The cargo ship had been chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command. It left the USA for Israel on December 20, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. The vessel was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes," he said.
"The world community including the Palestinians should be able to know where the remaining 680 containers on board the Wehr Elbe have gone and why the US is not transparent about the final destination of the dangerous cargo.
"A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that "the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod on March 22," Wood pointed out.
The spokesperson had said the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned munitions stockpile in Israel, he said. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.
"There is a great risk that the new munitions may be used by the Israeli military to commit further violations of international law, like the ones committed during the war in Gaza," Wood said.
"Legally and morally, this US arms shipment should have been halted by the Obama administration given the extent of the evidence showing how military equipment and munitions of this kind were recently used by the Israeli forces for war crimes. Arms supplies in these circumstances are contrary to provisions in US law," he said.
An independent inquiry into possible abuses of international law by both sides in the Gaza conflict has been launched by the United Nations. The panel is being headed by Justice Richard J Goldstone of South Africa.
"The victims of this brutal conflict have a right to justice and reparation. The perpetrators on both sides must be held accountable if there is to be an end to the cycles of violence and impunity that have persisted for so long. There must be no excuse for either Israel or the Palestinians not to fully cooperate with the inquiry,' Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Malcolm Smart said this week.
When he tested the limits of his security oath in 1995 and went public with how a UFO crippled a nest of nuclear missiles in Montana during the Cold War, former Air Force captain Robert Salas was on his own. No one else who worked inside or around those subterranean silos dared talk about how the world's top superpower was unable to defend its own nuclear arsenal.
Today, "UFOs and Nukes" author Robert Hastings has 115 ex-USAF eyewitnesses on record, due in no small measure to Salas willingness to gamble that the feds wouldn't go after him because prosecution would put them in a credibility jam. "If they did," Salas says from his home in Ojai, Calif., "we could have a righteous trial."
In 2005, the erstwhile deputy missile combat crew commander waved the red cape with even more vigor at the government bull by co-authoring "Faded Giant: The 1967 UFO/Missile Incidents." Salas story was augmented by other witnesses and FOIA-acquired USAF documents acknowledging the Minuteman shutdown but without mentioning the U-word.
Salas and co-author Jim Klotz demonstrated how the hovering phenomenon that disabled fully armed nukes on the early morning of March 24, 1967, acted with impunity and deliberate intent, and that its actions weren't confined to Salas post. On March 16, UFOs also visited an ICBM site some 60 miles away, and shut down all 10 of its missiles in similar fashion.
Having apparently dodged legal repercussions, the 68-year-old former FAA aircraft certification engineer remains puzzled over the lack of MSM interest in the vulnerabilities of our deadliest weapons systems. Aside from appearances on Larry King and niche shows like Art Bell and The History Channel, Salas story and those of a growing number of colleagues has been pretty much ignored by American media.
"I had high hopes for the Peter Jennings special," says Salas in reference to the ultimately feckless ABC prime-time "investigation" in 2005. "They seemed really interested. They flew me out to Dallas and got two, three hours on videotape. But a week before the show, they called and said, Sorry, we've got to cut you out I don't know if somebody got to them or what."
Forty-two years later, Salas remains in awe of what happened at Oscar Flight, the code-named Minuteman silo belonging to the 341st Strategic Missile Wing. Shortly after jittery topside guards reported bright aerial objects pulsing silently above the security gate, klaxons started shrieking and the missiles began losing power in rapid succession, one by one, until six to eight amid the 10-shot cluster were reduced to no-alert status. Security upstairs reported the objects flew off immediately afterwards.
"Somehow," recalls Salas, who monitored the control panels alongside bunker colleague Lt. Fred Mywald, "these objects were able to penetrate 65 feet of earth and a completely shielded cabling system with an electromagnetic pulse that sent signals to upset the most sophisticated weapons in the world."
Those signals were strong enough to foil the missiles guidance and control mechanisms, Salas says. An account of the March 67 incidents is available at http://www.cufon.org/cufon/malmstrom/malm1.htm, but by no means are they the only ones involving UFO security breaches with nukes. Salas is in contact with plenty of other witnesses who've yet to come forward.
But even if they did, would the media bother to shrug?
"To me, it was a benevolent message," says Salas, whose world view was forever altered by the event. "My own speculation is that these objects were saying we shouldn't be messing with nuclear weapons because we might destroy ourselves."
This article ran on page 5 of the April 2009 issue of Works in Progress, a free monthly newspaper in Olympia, WA.
DU, Dioxin, Deformities, Dimes and Deceit - Part I
by David W. Griffiths
Before 1991, when an Iraqi woman gave birth, the first question she was likely to ask her doctor was, Is it a boy or a girl? Now, after 18 years of war, both military and economic, after the poisoning of air, water and soil as well as of flesh, blood and genes, after the almost total destruction of Iraqs medical infrastructure, now a new mothers first question is more likely to be, Is it normal? Even more alarming, with increasing frequency, the answer is, No.
According to Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Centre in Toronto, Ontario and Dr. Siegwart Horst Guenther, a German doctor who has worked in Iraq for over 40 years, over the last 18 years, since the U.S. first attacked Iraq, there has been a rapid increase in the number and severity of birth defects seen in Iraqs remaining hospitals. Certain types of deformities, many never before seen in Iraq, have become almost common. Children are being born without eyes, without faces, without heads, with organs outside their bodies or missing entirely, with their spines partially or completely exposed or, again, missing entirely. Some, apparently lacking skin, are literally blobs of unrecognizable bloody tissue.
Dr. Guenther and Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a co-founder of the UMRC, say that the sharpest increase in the occurrence of these horrifying deformities has come within the last six years, since the beginning of the Iraq War. Geographically speaking, the areas with the highest rates of such deformities are also the areas with the heaviest exposure to depleted uranium. Depleted uranium, or DU, is a by-product of the nuclear weapons and nuclear energy industries. In short, it is nuclear waste. However, it is used to enhance both munitions and armor because of its extraordinarily high density. Because DU-enhanced rounds are not designed to produce a nuclear reaction, they are not technically nuclear weapons, but they do release radioactive fallout. DU has an estimated half-life of 4.5 billion years, roughly equivalent to the estimated age of the planet. As far as this writer knows, the government and military of the U.S. have yet to offer any explanation as to how conventional weapons with a radioactive half-life do not constitute dirty weapons, which are prohibited under international laws governing the conduct of warfare.
It has been argued by Leuren Moret, an internationally recognized expert on the effects of DU and environmental commissioner for the city of Berkeley, CA, that the U.S. has now conducted four illegal nuclear wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and twice in Iraq. Moret says that the Israeli army has also used DU against the people of Palestine. According to Moret and Dr. Durakovic, similar patterns of genetic mutations and congenital deformities have been observed in all of these countries. They have also been observed in children of American and British soldiers, according to medical investigators and those brave veterans willing to tell their stories, as well as in civilian populations in areas where DU weapons are produced, stored and tested, says Moret. Arguably, DU is one of the main identifiable causes of birth defects in the world today.
One might think that in the face of such a crisis, humanitarian interests would prevail, and that governmental, philanthropic, charitable and other institutions and entities would all want to come together to try to develop a solution, or at least determine the extent of the problem. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. Many allegedly humanitarian institutions and organizations are under the control of, or in some way beholden to, the very same corporate interests on whose behalf or at whose behest these illegal wars are waged. Therefore, as the rates of disease and deformity are mounting in certain parts of the world, for those in certain other parts of the world whose stated mission is to fight and prevent such conditions, its business as usual.
Lets look at one such humanitarian organization, the March of Dimes, and its response to the DU crisis. According their website, the MOD, originally founded in 1938 to fight polio, has been funding research and educational programs to save babies from birth defects, premature birth and low birthweight since 1958. This 50-year history makes them the oldest charitable organization in the country, if not the world, dedicated specifically to preventing birth defects and other birth complications. What does the oldest, richest, best-known defender of babies health have to say about the threat posed by depleted uranium? In a word, nothing. The word uranium doesnt even appear on their website. Radiation only appears in the context of radiation therapy or fleeting mentions as a common cause for concern, but there is no information anywhere on the site about the types of birth defects or other health issues known to be associated with radiation exposure. Nor is there any information about common sources of radiation exposure, or how to avoid them. In fact, the MOD provides far more information about the risks associated with peanuts than about the genotoxic and teratogenic (causing birth defects) properties of depleted uranium, or of any radioactive material.
The complete avoidance of any mention of birth defects connected with radiation exposure raises certain questions, beginning of course with, Why? Could it be for the same reason that the MOD is also suspiciously silent on the subject of dioxin, another known genotoxic and teratogenic substance? On-site searches for dioxin and Agent Orange both produce exactly zero results. Ironically, leaving the quotes off of the term Agent Orange returns over 600 links, mostly to pages containing references to insurance agents or orange juice.
Why hasnt the MOD called for a ban on the production and use of dioxin? Could it be for the same reason that almost 18 years of reports of birth defects possibly connected to DU havent prompted them to even study the issue? Could it be that when the MOD says, All babies deserve to be born healthy, that doesnt necessarily include babies in parts of the world where the U.S. wages illegal wars? But what about the children of U.S. soldiers, who are being born with similar types of deformities and other health problems as children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Yugoslavia? Why doesnt the MOD use its considerable political and economic clout to encourage the U.S. government to tell the truth about DU and dioxin, or at least conduct honest investigations to determine what the truth is? Dont all babies deserve to be born healthy? Dont our soldiers, and their children, deserve better?
Apparently, the MOD would rather use its lobbying power (and your money) to push legislation such as the Mothers and Newborns Health Protection Act, the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and the Birth Defects Prevention Act. Legislative efforts such as these, along with mandatory vaccinations and screening for certain conditions, have the effect of imposing unnecessary medical treatment upon every child born in this country; medicalizing and institutionalizing the birth process, and ultimately, every aspect of life; and eradicating our personal autonomy at the most fundamental level, especially for those of us with disabilities. All of this is being accomplished while generating unimaginable wealth for healthcare and insurance corporations, and increasing the political power of executives of those corporations who also serve in state and federal government.
Why does the MOD, which spends millions of dollars every year to study human genetics and learn about the causes of birth defects, have more to say about peanuts and orange juice than about dioxin and depleted uranium? More importantly, why does the MOD work so hard and spend so much money, donated to them in good faith, fighting perceived threats to the world they want to see, while ignoring real dangers and allowing so much suffering in the world that is?
Some possible answers to the questions raised here, along with a whole host of other questions about the MODs intentions, present themselves with more thorough investigation of the MODs history. We will explore that history, including the MODs connections to Nazi Germany, and to the American military/medical/industrial complex and the national security establishment, in Part II.
Related audio file and articles:
BBC Reports Depleted Uranium munitions in Afghanistan Dramatic Rise Of Birth Deformities
BBC Radio on March 26, 2009 broadcasted a very interesting report on the use Depleted Uranium munitions used in Afghanistan. During the last year hospitals in Afghanistan report a dramatic 100% rise of birth deformities. 25 minutes audio download available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p002fscl/One_Planet_26_03_2009/
Dawood Azam looks at the effects of the depleted uranium used in Afghanistan to weight shells so that they can pierce armour. MANY more related news on Depleted Uranium and other toxic weapons' effects through this LINK
Will Obama Stop The DU Environmental Hell The U.S. Military Has Created? (December 18, 2008) http://futurestorm.blogspot.com/2008/12/will-obama-stop-du-environmental-hell.html
While many Americans are extremely concerned with global warming, very few Americans are even aware of the absolute environmental hell that the U.S. military has created in Afghanistan and Iraq by using depleted uranium munitions in those nations. Under President George W. Bush, the United States has been using thousands upon thousands of tons of depleted uranium munitions - dirty bombs made from nuclear waste - in their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resulting devastation from using these dirty nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity of the utmost magnitude and it is time for Barack Obama to declare that he will permanently ban these weapons. So what is depleted uranium?Depleted Uranium is actually a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process. Despite claims that depleted uranium is much less radioactive than natural uranium, the truth is that it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity as natural uranium.When DU munitions impact a target, the uranium coating of these weapons becomes a powder which is easily contaminates the air, the soil and any surrounding water. Depleted uranium is both chemically toxic and highly radioactive. In laboratory tests it severely damages human cells, causes DNA mutations and has other carcinogenic effects. Depleted uranium poisoning has been shown to cause almost every illness one can imagine including severe skin rashes, intense muscle and joint pain, major birth defects, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors and just about every type of cancer. Depleted uranium also replaces calcium, destroying teeth and bones. As a result of the acute depleted uranium contamination in Iraq and Afghanistan, severe birth defects and cancer have dramatically increased in both U.S. soldiers and in Iraqi and Afghan civilians in the affected areas. Depleted uranium munitions are classified by the United Nations as illegal weapons of mass destruction. Since the uranium used in these DU weapons has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the U.S. military has ensured that countless generations of Afghans and Iraqis will suffer terribly from horrific cancers and deformities. Just look at the picture of the baby (yes that is a baby) at the top of this article. Babies like this are being born every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.When a woman has a baby in Iraq now, they no longer ask if it is a boy or a girl. Instead they ask: "Is it normal?" To see many more of these tragically deformed babies visit this site: http://www.afghanistanafterdemocracy.com/page10.html According to doctors at maternity and children hospitals in Kabul, Afghanistan the rate of various congenital deformities has multiplied dramatically since the U.S. invasion of their country.Most Americans also do not seem to know that thousands upon thousands of our own troops are getting sick and dying from exposure to depleted uranium. According to official (but unpublicized) U.S. government data, there have been over 70,000 deaths and over 1 million disabilities among American soldiers as a result of America's wars in the Middle East. The truth is that we have been slowly nuking our own troops and most Americans don't even realize it. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article that clearly demonstrates how the Bush administration has been killing our own troops.....-----Excerpt from "Death By Slow Burn: How America Nukes Its Own Troops" CLIP
ELEVEN REASONS FOR ENDING THE OCCUPATION OF AFGHANISTAN (February 4, 2009) http://jamesrichardbennett.blogspot.com/2009/02/omni-newsletter-on-afghanistan.html
(...) The illegal occupation of Afghanistan has led to the illegal bombings of Pakistan, despite its government's repeated protests against violations of its sovereignty that often kill civilians and undermine its own campaign against terrorists. The US has staged more than 30 missile strikes inside Pakistan since August 2008. "At leastd 263 people have been killed in the strikes since last August." (Brummitt) The militants retaliate. For example, in Dec. 2008 near Peshawar, Pakistan, they killed a guard and torched 160 US vehicles, including 70 Humvees (costing about $100,000 each), on their way to Afghanistan for US forces. (Khan). Imagine Mexico firing rockets into the US to kill its enemies, which resulted in their enemies killing US police guarding equipment on the way to Mexico. 4 The invasion killed many civilians and the occupation continues killing them, some 6000 in 2008 alone, and some four million Afghans have been displaced since 2001. We properly opposed the invasion, for we saw the human suffering coming permitted by the violation of civilized treaties our best have struggled to establish (from Hague IV of 1899, the Convention Regarding the Laws and Customs of War on Land to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and its protocols protecting civilians in time of war). And we should continue to oppose the occupation on this basis, and other reasons, of defending noncombatants, innocents, namely, children, the elderly, the injured and ill, and noncombatant women On humane grounds alone the invasion should not have occurred and the occupation should not be continuing. (Grayling). But in addition, these killings and the refugees have incited violent opposition to the U.S. throughout Afghanistan and the world. President Karzai has repeatedly expressed concern over civilian deaths, and the forthcoming increase of 30,000 more troops caused him to demand that his government should be consulted about prior US operations and missions. (Grayling, Straziuso). Yet the Obama administration continues the Afghanistan policies of the Bush administration, with Vice-President Biden leading the way. CLIP
Depleted uranium risk 'ignored' (1 November 2006) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6105726.stm
UK and US forces have continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite warnings they pose a cancer risk, a BBC investigation has found. (...) He described a process known as genotoxicity, which begins when depleted uranium dust is inhaled."The particles that dissolve pose a risk - part radioactive - and part from the chemical toxicity in the lung," he said.Later, he said, the material enters the body and the blood stream, potentially affecting bone marrow, the lymphatic system and the kidneys. The research was not included in the WHO report, and Dr Baverstock believes it was blocked. CLIP
Gaza: Civilian Casualties Contaminated with Uranium in Gaza (Jan 9, 2009) http://www.turntoislam.com/forum/showthread.php?t=49221
A letter from Croft Woodruff PhDCoquitlam, BC CANADA - "Norwegian medics in Gaza allege civilian casualties contaminated with Depleted UraniumIf, as recently alleged by Norwegian medics in Gaza, that civilian casualties have been found to be contaminated with Depleted Uranium that would mean that munitions used by the Israelis are clad with DU (Depleted Uranium). Such use against civilians, never mind the opposing military forces, is a war crime in itself. Depleted Uranium is the unforgiving gift of war that keeps on giving. Any warhead - be it bullet, bunker busting bomb, missile or rocket - capped with DU will cut through the thickest steel armor plate like a hot knife through butter. On impact, the DU vaporizes to a fine toxic dust which, when inhaled, will ultimately poison anyone unfortunate to have been exposed to it. Unfortunately for Israeli soldiers if they are exposed to DU dust they will get a toxic dose just as much as the Gazans.As the unforgiving gift that keeps on giving, just like the NATO military (including Canadians) in Bosnia and NATO troops in Iraq, Israeli soldiers will bring their now DU poisoned bodies home to Israel, contaminating their spouses with this invasive teratogenic metabolic poison. This curse will spread and poison Israeli children, including the unborn who will be subjected to monstrous birth deformities of the most hideous kind - the same deformities that been inflicted on the people of Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo and anywhere such insane, diabolical weapons have been used."
Six Years Later: How Are We Doing So Far? (March 20, 2009) WITH UTTERLY HORRIFIC PICTURES! http://zenberg.blogspot.com/2009/03/six-years-later-how-are-we-doing-so-far.html
Yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have a military presence there for a long time to come. So much for change.To me, one of the most socially impacting and unreported aspects of our involvement in Iraq, is the toxic landscape we have created there. Long after America's troops have all left Iraq, traces of depleted uranium will continue to cause severe birth defects* and drastically affect the quality of life there. Many Americans are completely unaware that our military used uranium tipped munitions throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. You'd have thought that we'd learned our lesson in Yugoslavia where the terrible effects of depleted uranium were observed and documented. Unfortunately, we adopted an "ignore it and it will go away" attitude toward the obvious side effects of the toxic but effective new weapon.
For the Yugoslav Victims of Imperialist Terrorism (April 3, 2009) http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/for-the-yugoslav-victims-of-imperialist-terrorism
March 24 2009 marked the 10th Anniversary of the NATO imperialist bombing of Yugoslavia. Operation Allied Force, the 78-day NATO aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia, precipitated the displacement of over one million persons (1), resulted in the deaths of over 2000 persons (2), and left up to 4000 injured (3). NATO dropped millions of dollars in bombs (79,000 tons), cruise missiles (10,000 launched), depleted uranium, and cluster bombs (35,000 bomblets) causing US$30 billion in damage to the Yugoslavian economy. (4) NATO consciously bombed Yugoslavias civil infrastructure, its waterworks, power plants, bridges, factories, hospitals, churches, agriculture, transportation and communications systems. NATO dropped bombs on cities round the clock and dumped thousands of tons of highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into the water, air, and soil, poisoning agricultural fields and rivers, maiming and killing thousands, exposing millions to depleted uranium and obliterating the productive capital of an entire nation. (5). Michael Parenti illustrates NATO criminality thus: NATO planners actually spelled out beforehand the estimated number of people who would be killed when they bombed a Belgrade office building that housed political parties and television and radio stations: 50 to 100 government and party employees, and 250 civilians. As William Blum notes, here were decision-makers consciously planning to hit a particular target, knowingly killing a substantial number of civilians, then publicly insisting afterward that it was unintended. (6). Such was the true nature of NATOs imperialist mission in Yugoslavia, contrary to self-serving hype around preventing genocide of Muslims and humanitarian disaster. Australian journalist John Pilger reports: At the Davos summit of neo-liberal chieftains in 1999, [UK Prime Minister and war criminal Tony] Blair berated Belgrade, not for its handling of Kosovo, but for its failure to fully embrace economic reform. In the bombing campaign that followed, it was state-owned companies, rather than military sites, that were targeted. NATOs destruction of only 14 Yugoslav army tanks compares with its bombing of 372 centers of industry, including the Zastava car factory, leaving hundreds of thousands jobless. Not one foreign or privately owned factory was bombed, wrote Clark. (7) Such deliberate targeting of civilians is, of course, a war crime under international law and also meets any reasonable definition of terrorism. CLIP
(CNN) -- Just as "Y2K" and its batch of predictions about the year 2000 have become a distant memory, here comes "Twenty-twelve."
Fueled by a crop of books, Web sites with countdown clocks, and claims about ancient timekeepers, interest is growing in what some see as the dawn of a new era, and others as an expiration date for Earth: December 21, 2012.
The date marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle on the Long Count calendar developed by the Maya, the ancient civilization known for its advanced understanding of astronomy and for the great cities it left behind in Mexico and Central America.
(Some scholars believe the cycle ends a bit later -- on December 23, 2012.)
Speculation in some circles about whether the Maya chose this particular time because they thought something ominous would happen has sparked a number of doomsday theories.
The hype also has mainstream Maya scholars shaking their heads.
"There's going to be a whole generation of people who, when they think of the Maya, think of 2012, and to me that's just criminal," said David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
"There is no serious scholar who puts any stock in the idea that the Maya said anything meaningful about 2012." Find out more about the history and culture of the Maya »
But take the fact that December 21, 2012, coincides with the winter solstice, add claims the Maya picked the time period because it also marks an alignment of the sun with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and you have the makings of an online sensation.
Type "2012" into an Internet search engine and you'll find survival guides, survival schools, predictions and "official stuff" to wear, including T-shirts with slogans such as "2012 The End" and "Doomsday 2012."
Theories about what might happen range from solar storms triggering volcano eruptions to a polar reversal that will make the Earth spin in the opposite direction.
If you think all of this would make a great sci-fi disaster movie, Hollywood is already one step ahead.
"2012," a special-effects flick starring John Cusack and directed by Roland Emmerich, of "The Day After Tomorrow" fame, is scheduled to be released this fall. The trailer shows a monk running to a bell tower on a mountaintop to sound the alarm as a huge wall of water washes over what appear to be the peaks of the Himalayas.
'Promoting a hoax'
One barometer of the interest in 2012 may be the "Ask an Astrobiologist" section of NASA's Web site, where senior scientist David Morrison answers questions from the public. On a recent visit, more than half of the inquiries on the most popular list were related to 2012.
"The purveyors of doom are promoting a hoax," Morrison wrote earlier this month in response to a question from a person who expressed fear about the date.
A scholar who has studied the Maya for 35 years said there is nothing ominous about 2012, despite the hype surrounding claims to the contrary.
"I think that the popular books... about what the Maya say is going to happen are really fabricated on the basis of very little evidence," said Anthony Aveni, a professor of astronomy, anthropology and Native American studies at Colgate University.
Aveni and Stuart are both writing their own books explaining the Mayan calendar and 2012, but Stuart said he's pessimistic that people will be interested in the real story when so many other books are making sensational claims.
Dozens of titles about 2012 have been published and more are scheduled to go on sale in the coming months. Current offerings include "Apocalypse 2012," in which author Lawrence Joseph outlines "terrible possibilities," such as the potential for natural disaster.
But Joseph admits he doesn't think the world is going to end.
"I do, however, believe that 2012 will prove to be... a very dramatic and probably transformative year," Joseph said.
The author acknowledged he's worried his book's title might scare people, but said he wanted to alert the public about possible dangers ahead.
He added that his publisher controls the book's title, though he had no issue with the final choice.
"If it had been called 'Serious Threats 2012' or 'Profound Considerations for 2012,' it would have never gotten published," Joseph said.
Another author said the doom and gloom approach is a great misunderstanding of 2012.
"The trendy doomsday people... should be treated for what they are: under-informed opportunists and alarmists who will move onto other things in 2013," said John Major Jenkins, whose books include "Galactic Alignment" and who describes himself as a self-taught independent Maya scholar.
Jenkins said that cycle endings were all about transformation and renewal -- not catastrophe -- for the Maya. He also makes the case that the period they chose coincides with an alignment of the December solstice sun with the center of the Milky Way, as viewed from Earth.
"Two thousand years ago the Maya believed that the world would be going through a great transformation when this alignment happened," Jenkins said.
But Aveni said there is no evidence that the Maya cared about this concept of the Milky Way, adding that the galactic center was not defined until the 1950s.
"What you have here is a modern age influence [and] modern concepts trying to garb the ancient Maya in modern clothing, and it just doesn't wash for me," Aveni said.
Meanwhile, he and other scholars are bracing for growing interest as the date approaches.
"The whole year leading up to it is going to be just crazy, I'm sorry to say," Stuart said.
"I just think it's sad, it really just frustrates me. People are really misunderstanding this really cool culture by focusing on this 2012 thing. It means more about us than it does about the Maya."
See the interesting analysis of possible warnings conveyed through crop formations in this Google cache document
The Mayan calendar comes to an end on Sunday, December 23, 2012. On that day, through the eyes of one man, all mankind will see...
Forwarded by Kathy Roberts (email@example.com)
The Hills' story, widely considered to be the first documented and bona fide case of abduction, is the focus of a public forum and new exhibition at the University of New Hampshire beginning Friday. It also examines the interracial couple's contributions to the state's civil rights community.
Yes, Betty and Barney Hill said aliens whisked them away. But they also worked for equal rights.
By AMY AUGUSTINE -- April 11, 2009
It's been nearly half a century since Betty and Barney Hill claimed they were abducted by aliens while driving through the White Mountains on Sept. 19, 1961, but there's still no logical explanation for what happened to them that night.
The Hills' story, widely considered to be the first documented and bona fide case of abduction, is the focus of a public forum and new exhibition at the University of New Hampshire beginning Friday. It also examines the interracial couple's contributions to the state's civil rights community.
Artists' renderings of the described aliens - or "Greys" as they're also known, thousands of pages of correspondence, documents of additional close encounters, as well as the famous ripped dress Betty Hill allegedly wore aboard the UFO, are all on display.
"Betty wanted (the dress) to be kept safe somewhere so that when human science caught up with alien science, they could do testing," said David Watters, director of UNH's Center for New England Culture and a friend of Betty before she died in 2004 at age 85. "The story is fascinating. It's hard to judge what could've happened that night, but there's no question whether they believed it."
The Hills' version of events - fodder for countless movies, books and media accounts since the story became public in 1965 - is best summed up like this: The couple was driving home to Portsmouth along Route 3 after word came that bad weather would soon hit the Seacoast. The sky was clear and the moon nearly full when their 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air reached Lancaster about 10 p.m.
Betty said she saw a bright light in the sky that Barney, a World War II veteran, assumed was an off-course satellite. When they stopped to let their dachshund, Delsey, out of the car, Betty took out binoculars to get a closer look at the erratically moving UFO.
A letter she later wrote to the National Investigations Committee of Aerial Phenomenon described "several figures scurrying about" and a figure wearing a shiny black uniform "observing us from the windows" of the craft.
Barney, who died of a stroke in 1969, became hysterical and drove away quickly, convinced they would be captured. The beings appeared before them in the road, and that's when their memories - at least the conscious ones - trailed off.
Kathleen Marden, the couple's niece, was 13 when the abduction occurred. She said yesterday that she was skeptical at first, but she changed her mind after analyzing a series of recorded tapes, also on display, in which the Hills were hypnotized separately by a well-respected Boston psychiatrist.
What finally convinced her, she said, weren't merely the similarities in each one's story recounted from that night, but the differences neither could have known about.
One example, said Marden, who's written a book on the subject, is that when both were hypnotized, they each remembered Betty staying behind and arguing with the leader while the crew took Barney and put him back in the car, where he remembered grabbing a gun under the seat in the car and sitting on it until she returned.
Both were hesitant to tell their story publicly for fear of ridicule, Marden said. It would've remained a secret had it not been leaked.
"They thought they'd lose their jobs and standing in the community," she said.
Betty, who graduated from UNH in 1958, was as a social worker, and Barney, an African-American from Boston, was a postal worker. Both were politically active, involved in the NAACP, various literacy programs and registered voters to help elect Lyndon Johnson.
Marden, who became a social worker, remembered being invited to Washington, D.C., with her aunt and uncle for Johnson's inauguration.
Barney was also appointed by the state's governor to serve as an adviser to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. It was a big deal at the time, Watters said, because many areas on the Seacoast were still segregated.
"At a time in New Hampshire's history when things were very segregated, they both actively committed to civil rights," Watters said. "I think it was difficult for (Barney) in some ways; he was afraid that they would become laughingstocks. He thought it would take away from the work they were trying to do."
Creating a legitimate outlet for people to discuss UFOs and abductions became an important issue to them, particularly to Betty after Barney passed away.
"She was really concerned that these materials be available for people who wanted people to take her seriously," Watters said. "She thought the university could make that happen."
Marden said that each would like to be remembered for their political and social work, rather than solely being known for the abduction.
"It's ironic that they were remembered for this one night in their lives, and they never wanted to have it known publicly," Marden said, adding that Betty, in later years, became an unfair target for debunkers. "That's why it was so important to set the record straight. Their story should be told."
The forum, "Betty and Barney Hill: Tales of Alien Abduction and Civil Rights Activism in New Hampshire," begins at 1 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building, Room 334/336.
We believe that every human has the right to laugh, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unless of course happiness is a warm gun, in which case some restrictions may apply.
We have the right and duty to laugh at our leaders, particularly those times when their actions are either seriously foolish or foolishly serious. We have the right to help them laugh with each other and at themselves, and if they are incapable of doing that, we have the right to laugh them out of power.
We have the right to laugh at the obscene foolishness of spending so much of our precious livelihood on weapons of deadlihood, and at the utter absurdity of doing the same things that haven't worked in the past and expecting them to work now and in the future.
We propose creating the office of Supreme Court Jester to encourage citizens to use the light of laughter to illuminate the shadow, especially in those poorly lit corridors of power.
We seek to extend this Right to Laugh all across the globe, especially places where things just aren't funny.
We propose that the United Nations and all levels of government begin each session with the Hokey Pokey. You put your whole self in - that is commitment. You pull your whole self out - that is detachment. You turn yourself around - and that is transformation and that's what it's all about.
We believe the problem is serious. But the solution is humorous. It's a scientific fact. The best way to overcome gravity is with levity. So all those who want to take a vow of levity please rise! Put your hand on your jocular vein, and recite the Right to Laugh Pledge: All for fun and fun for all.
Congratulations! You have now joined farces with the Pro-Laugh movement to raise the laugh force and increase the laugh expectancy on this amazing planet.
May we all wake up laughing, and leave laughter in our wake. For surely, the Farce is with us!
Declared and Absurdified by
Although we are enthusiastically pro-laugh, we are pro-choice as well. We respect each and every individual s right to not laugh. If you want to be miserable, go right ahead. Whatever makes you happy.
One big party, everyone is invited.
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