The Green Holocaust Files #21: State of Denial Towards the State of the Earth
I'd love to have only good, upbeat news to share with you, but unfortunately this one has a pretty good load of disquieting news about the state of our beleaguered planet. Of course, most of you may think that you've heard it all before and that you are very well aware that progress is sorely lacking when it comes to actually protecting our unraveling web of Life. Like you I thought I had a pretty good idea of how difficult the situation is. But after reading through all the material I've gathered on this sorry topic, I came to realize that there is a sense of urgency that is sorely lacking considering how dire things are. Our planetary home is burning, the very existence of millions of species is at risk and billions of human beings may soon have major problems finding enough to eat to stay alive, and yet nearly everyone of this planet appears to be blissfully oblivious to the obvious which has become so familiar that we have literally become blind to it. In short, we all seem to be in a state of denial concerning the state of our planet, which is probably due to a built-in coping mechanism which allows us to remain sane and functional in an insane world. Yet unless we all soon wake up from our self-induced complacency and overcome this blind spot in out awareness to actually act like we should ba acting in such a situation, we may very well end up in a state of shock out of which it will be really hard to mount any kind of meaningful rescue operation for our planet.
You think I'm exaggerating? Well just read what is in WE ARE LOSING THE PLANET AND ITS OUR OWN FAULT, watch the recommended videos and review the articles #1 to #7 and you may come to agree with my alarm. Once you are likewise convinced something ought to be done, then may I suggest you take part in next Sunday's Meditation Focus #220: Sensing/Feeling/Being as One (to be networked Saturday night) and over the course of this next month as we will be collectively working on the root cause of this Problem, namely our deep-seated illusion of separation from all Life on Earth (and beyond) and collectively invest our soul energies which can be colossally powerful into nurturing and fostering into humanity subconscious collective self the sense of profound unity that pervades all Life and thus breaking the spell of this dangerous delusionary mind-set that has kept us in the dark as to our true dazzling Nature. Of course, stating that "something ought to be done" is a misnomer in the sense the real Solution will come about first and foremost through Being, while the "doing" part will naturally unfold from this state of Being One with all Life once we have reached the much anticipated critical mass of spiritual awakening that will allow this Oneness Awareness to fully spread to our entire species, something that has already started years ago through the growing global environmental awareness which is now a fait accompli for most people, even if it has translated so far only in superficial lifestyle changes. This inner shift of perspective is the lever with which we are soon to lift humankind out of its state of denial.
And then we will see real changes taking hold and a bright "green" future emerge as we will learn to remain in a state of permanent OneLoveness...
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"Just to say that I love your idea of manifesting a book which traces back to 1981. It really has been a journey hasn't it - in which so many of us have shared consciously through these compilations over those years. Our happy band of travellers have walked many footsteps throughout that time, with highs and lows that have led us to where we are now hopefully. I for one feel that I am now in a space where I can at last observe dispassionately the shenanigans of those whose goal is to reduce the frequency potential of many, knowing that despite their attempts they lose ground all the time and are slipping away from our growing higher frequency reality faster and faster. I joined you on our journey back in 1999 I think, and wonder how those very first compilations got out and about there were only very basic computers back then! Thank you for all your hard work. I have always enjoyed what you do and wish you well in all your future endeavors."
"We are one as we pay tribute to Congresswoman Giffords and all of the other victims of violence in Tucson. Our gathering reflects the truth of America's first motto, which is above this chamber, E Pluribus Unum: out of many, we are one. It is vital that we acknowledge our oneness, not just as a Congress, but as a nation and as a world. In that appreciation for oneness we find human sympathy, compassion and love. It is an awareness of the imperative of human unity which can bring us to the threshold of understanding our power to bring an end to the violence which is consuming our loved ones. It is an awareness of the imperative of human unity which can help us to create a new America, where the omnipresence of violence is understood as a challenge to be met, not as an unyielding truth of the human condition to be accepted. Our hearts are open now as we recognize the victims. So let us be open to a new direction where we in this nation can take an organized approach to deal with the causes of violence, not just the effects. We are one with our sister Congresswoman Giffords and all the other victims. Let us continue to be one with each other as we struggle to bring light to this moment of darkness."
"Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 4 April, 1968, shortly after he started speaking out against the global elite and the injustice they inflict on all of humanity though orchestrated wars and economic oppression. He believed that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. While King may not physically be with us today, we are fortunate that he left us with powerful principles and tools for defeating tyranny. King, Gandhi and many others have set the precedent for our liberation, proving that courage, love, persistence, and some simple tools are ultimately victorious. In fact, the tools and principles utilized by King are so powerful that they rocked the foundation of the global elites power structure. As Andrew Gavin Marshall writes: When Martin Luther King began speaking about more than race, and openly criticized the entire social structure of empire and economic exploitation, not simply of blacks, but of all people around the world and at home, he posed too great a threat to the oligarchy to tolerate him any longer. It was at this point that the National Security State chose to assassinate Martin Luther King, and the philanthropies greatly expanded their financing of the Civil Rights Movement to ensure that it would be led in their desired direction. (...) We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. We must demand our freedom now and use the tools listed above to peaceably bring it into existence. Martin Luther King, Jr. broke silence, and the Civil Rights Movement set the precedent. Just as the globalists have spent many years implementing their plans to enslave mankind in debt and fear of war, our victory will not be gained overnight. Each individual that desires freedom must be the change that he or she wants to see in the world. Once our freedom is obtained, it must be vigilantly guarded, as the masters of deception always quickly regroup when defeated. But rest assured, by all of us who desire true freedom, following Kings example in our local communities, the banking and corporate sowers of inequity will lose their control over humanity. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice. "
NOTE from Jean: The massive man-made extinction of species worldwide that is now wiping out at a record pace millions of species from the face of the Earth in a "short" geological time span. Something like half of the species of this planet could be gone within 50 years - at least 125 disappear everyday and it is increasing FAST.... and our governments, obsessed as they are with their short term political fortune and the unrelenting expansion of national GDPs - and BTW runaway economic expansion IS precisely what is tearing apart the web of Life - aren't doing a damn thing about this... which is suicidal because once the intricately interconnected web of life is fully unravelled, our species is next in line for total extinction... and then afterwards it will apparently take about a 'mere' one million years for the excessive CO2 build up in the atmosphere to be absorbed by life's processes which will inevitably rebound after a few 100,000 years and over time - looong time - this planet will regain a new thriving web of Life, and perhaps cockroaches will evolve and be this time the new dominant species... See below the evidence I've gathered this afternoon for my next compilation.
Call of Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRDvsOwwK0Y
This is the trailer for CALL OF LIFE, the first feature length film to investigate the growing threat from the current Mass Extinction, an event that is more threatening than anything humanity has faced before because it is destroying the biological systems needed for our very existence. It is a crisis we must avert now or the Earths ability to support life will be irreversibly affected. The film brings together interviews with leading scientists, social scientists, historians, environmentalists, activists, and visionary thinkers to explore the causes, scope, and potential effects of the Mass Extinction. It also considers how cultural myths and psychological patterns have allowed this crisis to develop and continue to determine our response to it. The film looks beyond technological solutions, which are insufficient to meet the challenge because it is human thought and behavior that are inextricably linked to the factors driving the Mass Extinction. Instead, we need to create change in our minds, our culture, and our hearts. The film tells a story of a crisis not only in nature, but also in human nature, and suggests that we have been given a great opportunity: one last chance to preserve the vitality and magnificence of our planet. YOU MAY ALSO WATCH THIS Biodiversity Video AND THE Official video of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 (130 species become extinct every day!!!) Check also HERE links to many 10+ years old articles that just show how long this has been a concern for the scientific community and, conversely, how little real progress has been made since the warnings started raining...
We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened BY George Monbiot (1 November 2010) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/nov/01/deal-to-save-the-natural-world-never-happened
The so-called summit in Japan won't stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act -- Countries join forces to save life on Earth", the front page of the Independent told us. "Historic", "a landmark", a "much-needed morale booster", the other papers chorused. The declaration agreed last week at the summit in Japan to protect the world's wild species and places was proclaimed by almost everyone a great success. There is one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen it. I checked with as many of them as I could reach by phone: all they had read was a press release which, though three pages long, is almost content-free. The reporters can't be blamed for this it was approved on Friday but the declaration has still not been published. I've pursued people on three continents to try to obtain it, without success. Having secured the headlines it wanted, the entire senior staff of the convention on biological diversity has gone to ground, and my calls and emails remain unanswered. The British government, which lavishly praised the declaration, tells me it has no printed copies. I've never seen this situation before. Every other international agreement I've followed was published as soon as it was approved.The evidence suggests that we've been conned. The draft agreement, published a month ago, contained no binding obligations. Nothing I've heard from Japan suggests that this has changed. The draft saw the targets for 2020 that governments were asked to adopt as nothing more than "aspirations for achievement at the global level" and a "flexible framework", within which countries can do as they wish. No government, if the draft has been approved, is obliged to change its policies. In 2002 the signatories to the convention agreed something similar, a splendid-sounding declaration that imposed no legal commitments. They announced they would "achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss". Mission accomplished, the press proclaimed, and everyone went home to congratulate themselves. Earlier this year the UN admitted the 2002 agreement was fruitless: "The pressures on biodiversity remain constant or increase in intensity." CLIP
World needs urgent action to stop species loss: U.N (Oct 18, 2010) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69E0BF20101018
(Reuters) - The world cannot afford to allow nature's riches to disappear, the United Nations said on Monday at the start of a major meeting to combat losses in animal and plant species that underpin livelihoods and economies. The United Nations says the world is facing the worst extinction rate since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, a crisis that needs to be addressed by governments, businesses and communities. (...) "If our planet is to sustain life on earth in the future and be rescued from the brink of environmental destruction, we need action by governments to protect our oceans and forests and to halt biodiversity loss," said Nathalie Rey, Greenpeace International oceans policy adviser. Developing nations say more funding is needed from developed countries to share the effort in saving nature. Much of the world's remaining biological diversity is in developing nations such as Brazil, Indonesia and in central Africa. CLIP
U.N. study highlights price of nature to mankind (Oct 20, 2010) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69E0BF20101020
(Reuters) - Governments and businesses need an overhaul of policies and strategies to respond to the rapid loss of nature's riches, worth trillions of dollars but long taken for granted, a U.N.-backed study said on Wednesday. Damage to natural capital including forests, wetlands and grasslands is valued at $2-4.5 trillion annually, the United Nations estimates, but the figure is not included in economic data such as GDP, nor in corporate accounts. That "invisibility" needs to change so steps can be taken to save ecosystems that are a vital source of food, water and income, said Pavan Sukhdev, study leader for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a U.N.-backed initiative. "We can not treat this lightly," he told a news conference on the sidelines of an Oct 18-29 U.N. meeting in Nagoya, Japan, where envoys from nearly 200 countries are aiming to set targets for 2020 to fight losses in biological diversity. "Unfortunately, the lack of an economic lens to reflect these realities, has meant that we have treated these matters lightly, that they are not center-stage when it comes to policy discussions nor center-stage when it comes to business discussions." Sukhdev, on secondment from Deutsche Bank, unveiled the final installment of several TEEB reports that analyze the value of nature, including forests that clean the air, bees that pollinate crops and coral reefs that are home to millions of species. For example, halving deforestation rates by 2030 would cut damage from climate change estimated at more than $3.7 trillion, while Swiss bee colonies ensured yearly agricultural production worth $213 million by providing pollination, the report said. CLIP CHECK ALSO Factbox: Putting a value on nature to preserve its riches
Marine ecosystems at risk from pollution, climate: U.N. (Oct 19, 2010) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69I2P620101019
(Reuters) - Marine ecosystems around the world are at risk of substantial deterioration in coming decades as oceans face growing threats from pollution, over-fishing and climate change, a U.N. report showed on Tuesday.The global U.N. Environment Programme report, based on studies of 18 regions, predicted that productivity would fall in nearly all areas by 2050, with fisheries to be dominated by smaller species toward the bottom of the food chain. The report was unveiled as envoys from nearly 200 countries gathered for a U.N. meeting in Nagoya, Japan, aimed at protecting and restoring ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs and the oceans that underpin livelihoods and economies.Surface sea temperatures could rise by 2100 if no steps are taken to address climate change, affecting coral reefs and other marine organisms, the report said. Another threat was a continued increase in nitrogen levels, which could trigger algal blooms and lead to the poisoning of fish and other marine life. "Multi-million dollar services, including fisheries, climate-control and ones underpinning industries such as tourism are at risk if impacts on the marine environment continue unchecked and unabated," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), said in a statement. "This global report, based on 18 regional reports, underlines that ambition and actions now need to match the scale and the urgency of the challenge." Regional reports outlined steps that could be taken for policymakers, with the study for the North West Pacific covering China, Japan, South Korea and Russia calling for more management of ships' ballast water and regulation of fish stocks. Ballast water from ships can be harmful to seas by transporting marine invasive species to regions from elsewhere, threatening a rise in extinctions of native marine life, the global report said.
Italy and Panama continue illegal fishing, says new report (January 15, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0115-morgan_NOAA_fishing.html
On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its biennial report identifying six countries whose fisheries have been engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing during the past two years. The report comes at a time when one-fifth of reported fish catches worldwide are caught illegally and commercial fishing has led to a global fish stock overexploitation of an estimated 80 percent. The countries listed in the report - Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Venezuela - have fishing vessels which engaged in practices such as fishing during closed seasons, using banned driftnets, and possessing undersized bluefin tuna. Other violations included illegal gear modifications, fishing without proper authorization, and problems with vessel registry lists. The identified nations will have two years to comply with mandates against IUU fishing or risk economic sanction. "If a nation fails to take appropriate action to address the instances of illegal fishing described in the report, that nations vessels may be denied entry into U.S. ports and the President may prohibit imports of certain fish products from that nation or take other measures," said Russell Smith, NOAA deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries. We are encouraged that the nations identified in 2009 have taken significant actions to address illegal fishing by their vessels, and we are now reaching out to the six countries identified in todays report, CLIP
The Crisis of Life http://www.crisisoflife.net/
We do not burn down the Louvre. We do not set fire to the Library of Congress. So why do we go on erasing the database of life itself? By exploiting the living world, we are dangerously impoverishing our planet, putting our own welfare in danger. Every day, species are dying, never to come back. Ecosystems around the world are unravelling, leaving many people without access to healthy food, clean water, and other essentials for their daily needs. This is a Crisis of Life, and it is up to us to stop it. In the "Crisis of Life" video project, ecologists and activists talk about ways to stop the ongoing biodiversity crisis to ensure the survival of all living beings, including ourselves.
A Steady, Steep Decline for The Lowly, Uncharismatic Eel (2 SEPT 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_steady_steep_decline_for_the_lowly_uncharismatic_eel/2316/
The freshwater eel, which spawns in the middle of the ocean, was once abundant in much of the world. But the proliferation of dams, coastal development, and overfishing have drastically reduced eel populations, with few defenders coming to the aid of these fascinating though still not fully understood creatures. (...) As an international symposium on plummeting eel populations declared in 2003, In recent decades, juvenile abundance has declined dramatically: by 99 percent for the European eel, Anguilla anguilla, and by 80 percent for the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica. Recruitment of American eel, Anguilla rostrata, to Lake Ontario, near the species northern limit, has virtually ceased. The decline of the worlds eels mirrors crashing populations of many other magnificent marine creatures. But unlike the salmon, swordfish, or giant bluefin tuna bold and magnificent emblems of the rivers and seas that have attracted funds to the coffers of conservation groups that support these charismatic creatures the worlds eels have few defenders and are quietly slipping away. CLIP
BEE POPULATIONS IN U.S. HAVE DECLINED SHARPLY, STUDY SHOWS (4 JAN 2011) http://e360.yale.edu/digest/bee_populations_in_us_have_declined_sharply_study_shows/2739/
Populations of four of the eight common species of bumblebees in the United States are in steep decline, falling by up to 96 percent in recent decades, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois. The study, which compared present-day estimates of bee abundance with historical data Wikimediacollected by museums, also showed that the geographic ranges of the four species had contracted by 23 to 87 percent. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the likely causes of the steep drop in bumblebees were disease, increasing use of pesticides, and low genetic diversity among bee populations as farmers rely on a small number of species to pollinate their crops. The sharp drop in bee numbers could have profound implications for the pollination of wild and farmed plants, as bees pollinate 90 percent of the worlds commercial plants, including most fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The study said that the four severely affected bee populations had higher infection levels of a pathogen called Nosemba bombi, which has taken a heavy toll on bee populations in Europe and has now reached the U.S.
As Tigers Near Extinction, A Last-Ditch Strategy Emerges (15 NOV 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/as_tigers_near_extinction_the_world_bank_and_environmental_groups_craft_last-ditch_strategy/2339/
In the past century, populations of wild tigers have plummeted from 100,000 to 3,500. Now the World Bank and conservationists have launched an eleventh-hour effort to save this great predator, focusing on reining in the black market for tiger parts and ending the destruction of tiger habitat.by caroline fraserThe most venerated predator on Earth, the tiger is also the most vulnerable, described in a recent World Bank document as enforcement-dependent. The phrase is borrowed from the medical world, where patients reliant on blood products are known as transfusion-dependent. Saved only by scarce conservation dollars and thin ranks of poorly equipped park guards, the tigers hold on life is tenuous. Without future infusions of expensive, well-coordinated, state-of-the-art life-support, Panthera tigris is doomed in the wild.Now, in one of the most high-profile conservation interventions in recent memory, the World Bank is stepping in to try to secure that life support. At a meeting later this month, the bank's president, Robert Zoellick, will seek approval from the leaders of 13 tiger range countries for an extraordinarily ambitious plan to save the worlds few remaining tigers and their habitat. At the same time, a group of leading tiger scientists and conservationists is lobbying for a similar effort to protect the tigers last remaining breeding populations. The tigers situation has grown desperate in a mere century. A hundred years ago, there were over 100,000 in the wild, with more than 40,000 in India alone. Currently, the total number of tigers worldwide is calculated at fewer than 3,500. Three subspecies Javan, Bali, and Caspian tigers vanished during the 20th century. A fourth, the South China tiger, has not been seen in the wild for more than 25 years and is assumed to have gone extinct during the 1990s.Remaining populations including 1,850 Bengal tigers and a few hundred each of the Siberian, Indochinese, Malayan, and Sumatran subspecies are pressed into tiny, isolated protected areas comprising less than 7 percent of their former range. Found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and China, the Bengal tiger possesses the highest genetic variation, and is considered the key to the species survival. Blocking tiger recovery efforts in India and elsewhere is the black market in the animals body parts. Although the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies cooperated with conservation efforts by removing tiger bone Tiger is occasionally served in restaurants in Hanoi and Beijing, where rare dishes denote status. from their pharmacopeia in 1993, skins still sell for up to $35,000, and organs and body parts bones, whiskers, eyeballs, penises, paws, claws are snapped up as souvenirs or ingredients of traditional Asian medicine. In Russia, the uber-wealthy have acquired a taste for tiger pelts as home décor; in Sumatra, magic spells require tiger parts.Potential profits are so corrupting that criminal entrepreneurs in China raise captive tigers in cages, eventually slaughtering the animals for their body parts, skin, and bones, which are boiled to make a medicinal tiger wine. CLIP
Last year worst yet for rhino killings in South Africa (January 19, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0119-hance_rhinos.html
Three hundred and thirty-three rhinos were killed in South Africa last year, the highest number yet. Ten of the rhino were black rhinos, which are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the rest were white rhinos, listed as Near Threatened. In total South Africa has over 20,000 rhinos.The record level of poaching is being committed by well-equipped criminal networks. In South Africa, poachers are employing helicopters, night-vision, tranquilizers, and weapons fitted with silencers often allowing them to drug a rhino, cut off its horn, and leave it to bleed to death from the wound before it is found. "Only a concerted international enforcement pincer movement, at both ends of the supply and demand chain, can hope to nip this rhino poaching crisis in the bud," said Tom Milliken, Director of TRAFFICs East and Southern Africa program, in a news release. Rhino poaching has a human toll as well. Both poachers and park rangers, who defend the animals, have lost lives. Last week five suspected rhino poachers were killed in South Africa's largest park, Kruger, during a shootout with the nation's elite police force. Three suspects got away. Rhinos are primarily being poached for an illegal and booming trade in Asia. Powdered rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine, although there is no scientific evidence that the horns contain any curative elements. Fueled by a trade that is both illegal and underground, last year it was estimated that one kilo of rhino horn was worth approximately $60,000, nearly $20,000 more than a kilo of gold. Poaching, along with habitat loss, has pushed four of the world's five rhino species toward extinction, three of these species are considered Critically Endangered, including Africa's black rhinoceros, of which around 4,000 survive. Asia's rhinos are even worse off: there are less than 50 adult Java rhinos in the world and less than 250 adult Sumatran rhinos.
For Hudson Bay Polar Bears, The End is Already in Sight (8 JULY 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/for_hudson_bay_polar_bears_the_end_is_already_in_sight/2293/
The polar bear has long been a symbol of the damage wrought by global warming, but now biologist Andrew Derocher and his colleagues have calculated how long one southerly population can hold out. Their answer? No more than a few decades, as the bears decline closely tracks that of the Arctics disappearing sea ice. CLIP
Rewilding the World: A Bright Spot for Biodiversity (11 FEB 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2239
As burgeoning human populations place greater pressure on wild areas, a strategy is emerging for preserving threatened lands and wildlife. Known as rewilding, it involves expanding core wilderness areas, connecting them via corridors that allow humans and animals to co-exist, and protecting and reintroducing top predators. (...) In several projects, job creation is paired with carbon sequestration. The Baviaanskloof Mega-reserve Project in South Africa has created hundreds of jobs in ecotourism and restoration, training workers to remove invasives and plant native bush in a delicate Cape habitat overgrazed by goats. In Australia, ecological restoration of salt-damaged wheat farms conducted by the Gondwana Link project has provided carbon sequestration while regrowing native bush. In the United States, the restoration of wetlands is generating jobs, from Chesapeake Bay in the east to Puget Sound in the west. The Puget Sound Partnership, a network of environmental groups and state agencies tasked with cleaning up decades of pollutants represents one of the most massive ecological restoration projects in the nations history: The partnership recently identified a half-a-billion dollars worth of shovel-ready stimulus projects, from removing tons of fishing nets and other debris to restoring tidal salt marsh habitat, itself a powerfully-effective means of sequestering carbon.Rewilding represents what Dan Janzen has termed sustainable conservation: It opens up significant areas to conservation management, and it puts people to work. What international agencies and NGOs need to do is identify rewilding programs that are demonstrably working, support them, and replicate them. As it stands now, even the most successful are not big enough to make the difference for biodiversity. But they could be and for considerably less money than it will cost to replace the ecosystem services we are destroying, estimated at two to five trillion dollars a year worldwide. What conservation has been doing for decades is simply not working. Its time to move forward with something bigger, something proven, something new.
Calculating the True Cost Of Global Climate Change (6 JAN 2011) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/calculating_the_true_cost_of_global_climate_change__/2357/
Researchers disagree about what the economic costs of climate change will be over the coming decades. But the answer to that question is fundamental in deciding how urgent it is to take action to reduce emissions. When climate legislation died last summer in Congress, one cause was the powerful drumbeat of claims that the bill would bring economic disaster. The legislation would amount to a massive tax hike, devastating an already crippled economy and throwing more people out of work, charged Senator James Inhofe (R-Ok) and Glenn Beck. It would be the final nail in the coffin of the American middle class, proclaimed an ad from the Conservative Society of America. Despite supporters protests that the price tag of greenhouse gas curbs would be modest, voters fear of hits to their pocketbooks forced even many Democrats to backpedal. The heated argument about economic costs, however, barely touched one vitally important issue: the costs of NOT taking action on climate. What if last summers Russian heat wave and drought, which destroyed one third of the countrys wheat crop, or the catastrophic floods in Pakistan and China, or category 5 hurricanes like Katrina are just glimpses of future havoc from warming left unchecked? As Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, observes, Certain events would have been extremely unlikely to have occurred without global warming, and that includes the Russian heat wave and wild fires, and the Pakistan, Chinese, and Indian floods.The economic costs of such disasters could make even inflated estimates of the legislations price tag look small, says University of California, Berkeley, economist Michael Hanemann. Yet Congress didnt seem to care. The question of damages from climate change never penetrated the debate in Theres a deeply rooted perception in the U.S. that the economy will suffer little damage from climate change. Washington, Hanemann says. Why not? Partly, it was a conscious political calculation. Polls show that scare tactics work better to block legislation than to bring sweeping change.
2010 ties for the warmest year on record (January 14, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0114-2010_temp.html
2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year on record, according to separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global surface temperatures in 2010 were 1.34°F (0.74°C) warmer than the average global surface temperature from 1951 to 1980 and 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average. "If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long," said James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), in a statement. The global land surface temperatures for 2010 tied for the second warmest on record, while global ocean surface temperatures for 2010 tied with 2005 as the third warmest on record, according to the NOAA. CLIP - Check also 2010 hits global temperature high
ANALYSIS CONTENDS CO2 LEVELS MAY REACH LEVELS NOT SEEN IN 30 MILLION YEARS (14 JAN 2011) http://e360.yale.edu/digest/analysis_contends_co2_levels_may_reach_levels_not_seen_in_30_million_years/2757/
If industrial carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could by 2100 reach levels not seen in at least 30 million years, when Earths average temperature was 25 to 30 degrees F warmer than today, according to an analysis by a U.S. scientist. Writing in the journal, Science, Jeffrey Kiehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that if carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could reach 900 to 1,000 parts per million by 2100 triple levels two centuries ago. Analyses of molecular structures in fossilized organic materials show that the last time atmospheric concentrations of CO2 reached those levels was 30 million to 100 million years ago, Kiehl writes. Average temperatures in much of that era were as much as 30 degrees F warmer than today, Kiehl says. Kiehl is not forecasting such a drastic temperature increase within a century, but he warns, If we dont start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced. Kiehl also says the planets climate system may be twice as sensitive to carbon dioxide as currently believed, since models do not factor in the amplifying effect that melting ice sheets and sea ice will have on warming.
Amount of carbon absorbed by ecosystems each year is grossly overstated, says new study (January 17, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0117-kirkland_methane.html
According to a new paper published in Science, current carbon accounting methods significantly overstate the amount of carbon that can be absorbed by forests, plains, and other terrestrial ecosystems. That is because most current carbon accounting methods do not consider the methane and carbon dioxide released naturally by rivers, streams, and lakes. This new paper suggests that rivers, streams, and lakes emit the equivalent of 2.05 billion metric tons of carbon every year. (By comparison, all the terrestrial ecosystems on the worlds continents are thought to absorb around 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon each year). This is, as the lead author of the paper said, is a major accounting error. Each year, rivers, streams, and lakes release 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. In addition, as this new paper explains, rivers, streams and lakes also emit 103 million metric tons of methane every yearequivalent to about 650 million metric tons of carbon. (Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas; a single ton of methane has much larger impact on the atmosphere than an equivalent ton of carbon dioxide.) It remains difficult to measure methane emissions precisely; methane bubbles may emerge from river and lake sediments suddenly, or at very irregular intervals. Given this uncertainty, these numbers may actually be under-estimates. Even so, the methane emissions calculations alone suggest that we have been overestimating the absorptive ability of the continents by 25 percent. CLIP
Thaw of Earth's icy sunshade may stoke warming (Jan. 16, 2011) http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre70f2f0-us-climate-ice/
OSLO (Reuters) Shrinking ice and snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is reflecting ever less sunshine back into space in a previously underestimated mechanism that could add to global warming, a study showed Satellite data indicated that Arctic sea ice, glaciers, winter snow and Greenland's ice were bouncing less energy back to space from 1979 to 2008. The dwindling white sunshade exposes ground or water, both of which are darker and absorb more heat.The study estimated that ice and snow in the Northern Hemisphere were now reflecting on average 3.3 watts per square meter of solar energy back to the upper atmosphere, a reduction of 0.45 watt per square meter since the late 1970s."The cooling effect is reduced and this is increasing the amount of solar energy that the planet absorbs," Mark Flanner, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, told Reuters. CLIP
As the Arctic Ocean Melts, A Refuge Plan for the Polar Bear (22 DEC 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/as_the_arctic_ocean_melts_a_refuge_plan_for_the_polar_bear_/2355/
With the Arctic Ocean heading toward a largely ice-free state in summer, scientists are looking for areas that may help preserve ice-dependent creatures. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, geologist Stephanie Pfirman talks about the need for a refuge north of Canada and Greenland that researchers say could be a kind of Noahs Ark in the age of global warming. As scientists from around the world tracked the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice in recent years, they couldnt help but notice that one part of the Arctic basin is a repository for the oldest and thickest polar ice. Stetching across northern Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, this band of reasonably sturdy ice forms as prevailing wind and ocean currents drive sea ice from Siberia, across the Arctic, and up against the opposite shore. Bruce Gilbert Leading Arctic sea ice specialists believe that this strip of ice could become a crucial ice refuge as summer sea ice all but disappears in most other parts of the Arctic by mid- to late-century. CLIP
The Warming of Antarctica: A Citadel of Ice Begins to Melt (22 NOV 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/the_warming_of_antarctica_a_citadel_of_ice_begins_to_melt_/2342/
The fringes of the coldest continent are starting to feel the heat, with the northern Antarctic Peninsula warming faster than virtually any place on Earth. These rapidly rising temperatures represent the first breach in the enormous frozen dome that holds 90 percent of the worlds ice. (...) No place on the fringes of Antarctica has warmed with the swiftness of the Antarctic Peninsula, a crooked, 900-mile finger of land that juts toward the tip of South America. A 60-year temperature record on the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula, taken at a research base originally built by the British and now run by the Ukrainians, paints a stark picture: Winter temperatures have increased by 11 degrees F and annual average temperatures by 5 degrees F. Ninety percent of 244 glaciers along the western Antarctic Peninsula have retreated since 1940. Sea ice now blankets the Southern Ocean off the western Antarctic Peninsula three fewer months a year than in 1979, according to satellite data. In addition, ice shelves large slabs of ice that flow off the land or out of submarine basins and float atop the ocean have been disintegrating up and down the peninsula. The most notable breakup occurred in early 2002, when several summers of warm weather heated up the surface of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, creating countless melt ponds that enabled warmer water to seep down into the ice shelf. That led in March 2002 to whats known as a catastrophic break-up; the ice shelf, once the size of Connecticut, shattered in a matter of days. We are already at the point where the changes were seeing in this part of Antarctica are unprecedented throughout the entire period of human civilization, said Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. The level of warming in Antarctica is far more severe than global warming of the past century, which has been about 1.4 degrees F. One major cause is that the warming of landmasses and oceans to the north has set up a sharper contrast with Antarcticas intense cold. That has led to a strengthening of northerly winds, pulling far warmer air down from the south Pacific and south Atlantic onto the Antarctic Peninsula.
(...) The physical changes especially the drop in sea-ice duration have had major ecological effects. Ice-dependent organisms, including certain species of phytoplankton, are declining where sea ice is disappearing. The most important link in the Antarctic food chain ice-dependent Antarctic krill, on which just about every seabird or marine mammal in Antarctica feeds also appears to be in decline. (One study suggested that krill in the southwestern Atlantic sector of Antarctic waters had fallen by 80 percent, but other krill specialists think the decline is not nearly so steep.) At the top of the Antarctic food chain, Adélie penguins are suffering where warming is most pronounced. Not only is their winter feeding platform sea ice shrinking. But the main components of their diet Antarctic krill and Antarctic silverfish, both of which are ice-dependent are in shorter supply. As a result, Adélie penguin populations in the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula have plummeted by 75 percent and more.
(...) If the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet eventually melts, sea levels could rise by 16 to 20 feet. CLIP
Tracking the Himalayas Melting Glacier (15 JULY 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_the_himalayas_melting_glaciers/2295/
Unearthing photographs of the Himalaya dating back more than a century, mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears has assembled a powerful visual record of the rapid retreat of the regions glaciers. By comparing archival photographs from such renowned explorers as George Mallory to photographs taken in the past three years, Breashears has documented the steady disappearance of these great rivers of ice, whose melting will eventually threaten the water supplies of hundreds of millions of people across Asia.
Seals could be in for another rough whelping season if ice remains scarce (January 6th, 2011) http://www.thewesternstar.com/News/Local/1969-12-31/article-2093587/Seals-could-be-in-for-another-rough-whelping-season-if-ice-remains-scarce/1
CORNER BROOK A second winter with relatively little sea ice may be music to the ears of those involved in shipping, but will likely put another dent in the seal population.While last winter was known for record low ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Strait of Belle Isle and the eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Ice Services forecast for this winter is calling for just as little or possibly even less sea ice for those areas. (...) The scarcity of ice did pose problems a year ago for the huge populations of harp and hood seals which almost exclusively pup on sea ice. Those animals sought out what ice they could find to bear their young and thousands of them found themselves unexpectedly pushed ashore along the Northern Peninsula. Many of those pups died for various reasons. Some were abandoned by their mothers who went with the ice when it went back out to sea. Others were crushed by the unstable ice in the rough surf, while others developed infections they likely would not have been subjected to further out to sea. There were reports that some young seals along the shoreline were taken by opportunistic predators such as coyote. CLIP
Forging a Landmark Agreement To Save Canadas Boreal Forest (29 SEPT 2010) GOOD NEWS! http://e360.yale.edu/feature/forging_a_landmark_agreement_to_save_canadas_boreal_forest/2323/
Last spring, conservation groups and timber companies signed an historic agreement to protect a large swath of Canadas boreal forest. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the Pew Environment Group's Steven E. Kallick, a key player in the agreement, explains why the accord is integral to a larger plan to eventually preserve half of Canadas extensive boreal forests. Canadas boreal forest stretches from British Columbia to Newfoundland, covering 2.2 million square miles, an area nearly 60 percent the size of the United States, including Alaska. Much of Canadas boreal is intact, making it along with the Russian taiga and the remaining, undisturbed portions of the Amazon one of three great tracts of forest on the globe.In recent years, however, industrial activity ranging from Albertas massive tar sands mines, to logging in Ontario, to hydropower development in Quebec has been nibbling away at the Canadian boreal forest, one of the globes most important ecosystems. Composed of a patchwork of woodlands (spruce, fir, birch, larch, pine, and aspen), wetlands, and peat bogs, Canadas boreal forest sequesters an estimated 22 percent of the worlds terrestrial carbon. In May, with little international fanfare, nine environmental groups and 21 forest products companies signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which calls for a three-year suspension of logging in 70 million acres of boreal forest and the introduction of improved logging practices in an additional 106 million acres. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Steven E. Kallick, the director of the Pew Environment Groups International Boreal Conservation Campaign, which brokered the agreement, says the goal is to make the logging suspension permanent by 2013. CLIP
Atlantic ocean warming confirmed by corals (January 05, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0104-morgan_corals_warming.html
A new study investigating the ability of coral to record sea temperatures indicates that the Northwestern Atlantic has experienced unprecedented warming during the past 150 years. CLIP
BIOENERGY COULD MEET 20 PERCENT OF GLOBAL ENERGY NEEDS BY 2050, STUDY SAYS (10 JAN 2011) http://e360.yale.edu/digest/bioenergy_could_meet_20_percent_of_global_energy_needs_by_2050_study_says/2749/
Energy produced from plants and trees could meet as much as 20 percent of the planets growing energy demand by 2050, including half of that production from biomass plantations alone, according to a new study. But that increased reliance on crops would require a large expansion of agricultural land and irrigation worldwide. In a series of computer simulations, researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research calculated that 25 to 175 exajoules (1 exajoule = 10 18 joules) of bioenergy could be produced annually depending on land use regulations and water availability, but that the higher end of the scale would come at significant environmental costs. The worlds energy consumption is expected to double from 500 to 1,000 exajoules over the next four decades, researchers say. Without energy production from biomass, according to many studies, ambitious goals of climate protection would be hardly achievable, said Wolfgang Lucht, research domain chair for the Potsdam Institute. How much energy can be produced at which environmental costs therefore is a critical and controversial question.
Burning up biodiversity: forest fires increase in Madagascar (January 10, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0110-madagascar_burning.html
The number of fires burning in and around forests in the northeastern part of Madagascar increased during the 2010 burning season relative the the year before, according to analysis of NASA data by WildMadagascar.org / Mongabay.com. The rise in burning corresponds to an especially dry year and continued illegal logging of the region's biologically-rich rainforests. (...) While the increase in fires is worrying to conservationists, fire is deeply entrenched in the culture of most rural Malagasy, as the people of the island nation are known. Each year vast tracts of land most of which has been previously burned go up in smoke to support subsistence cattle grazing. In some regions, poor farmers actively burn forests to establish rice fields. The resulting degradation has taken a heavy ecological toll: Madagascar suffers from severe soil erosion, declining agricultural productivity, and high deforestation. Madagascar is best known for its incredible biodiversity, roughly 70 percent of which is found nowhere else. Lemurs are its most famous residents, but the island is home to a staggering array of unusual creatures, including hedgehog-like tenrecs; the fossa, an endemic predator; colorful chameleons and bizarre geckos; and hundreds of species of frogs. Its wildlife makes Madagascar a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts and ecotourists.
As Shark Slaughter Continues, A Defender Targets Fin Trade (17 NOV 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/as_shark_slaughter_continues_a_defender_targets_fin_trade/2340/
As the economies of China and other Asian nations have boomed, demand for shark fins a prized delicacy has soared, leading to severe overfishing of many shark species. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, shark conservationist Sonja Fordham talks about the battle to save one of the worlds most magnificent fish. Few fisheries are as controversial as the trade in sharks to meet the thriving market for shark fin soup. The number of sharks killed is staggering; scientists who have studied the shark fin business say that 22 million pounds of shark fins representing millions of dead sharks are traded every year in Hong Kong, the center of the finning market. Public revulsion is growing over finning, which often involves catching sharks and slicing off their fins while the fish are alive, leaving them to drift to the bottom and die. Largely as a result of this trade, scientists estimate that one third of the worlds 1,044 shark species are now threatened with extinction. CLIP
U.S. passes legislation to protect sharks (January 05, 2011) GOOG NEWS http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0105-sharks_win.html
The U.S. Senate has passed the Shark Conservation Act, legislation that bans shark finning in U.S. waters. The move was welcomed by marine conservationists. "The Senate has acted decisively today to help protect sharks, the predators at the top of the global marine food chain," said Matt Rand, director of the Pew Environment Groups Global Shark Conservation Campaign, in a statement. "The Shark Conservation Act would once and for all end the practice of shark finning in U.S. waters and give the United States the credibility to persuade other nations and international fishery managers to follow suit." Shark finning is the practice where the fins are cut off living sharks, which are then left to die. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in parts of Asia. But finning has taken a heavy toll on shark populations. By one estimate, up to 73 million are killed every year to support the trade. 30 percent of the worlds shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction. The loss of sharks, important predators that help maintain the balance of the ocean food chain, is already having impacts. Researchers have found a decline in shellfish off the Atlantic seaboard of the United States associate with a population boom of shellfish predators which are usually kept in check by sharks. Other scientists have documented a decline in the health of coral reefs where sharks have disappeared.
A Veteran of the Climate Wars Reflects On U.S. Failure to Act (4 JAN 2011) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_veteran_of_the_climate_wars_reflects_on_us_failure_to_act_/2356/
One of the many casualties of the recent U.S. elections was Congressman Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat who played a key role in passage of cap-and-trade legislation by the House of Representatives. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Boucher discusses the bitter failure of the Senate to pass a climate bill and future prospects for tackling global warming. For those concerned about climate change, June 2009 was a heady time, with the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passing a bill that put a price and a cap on carbon emissions. Few congressmen were more instrumental in the bills passage than Rick Boucher, a moderate Democrat from southwestern Virginias coal-producing region who incorporated several key compromises that attracted the support of leading utility companies and several other coal-state legislators. Thanks, in part, to Boucher, the bill passed the house, 219 to 212. That vote was a high water mark for U.S. climate change action; afterwards, President Obama expended his political capital on health care legislation, and the Senate ultimately failed to pass the climate bill approved by the House. That failure would come back to haunt Boucher and 31 other Democrats, whose support of cap-and-trade legislation would be used as a bludgeon against them by their successful Republican opponents last November.U.S. House of RepresentativesRick BoucherIn an interview with Yale Environment 360, Boucher, who stepped down this week after 28 years in Congress, talks about the role his support of climate legislation played in his failed re-election campaign. His opponent, Morgan Griffith whose campaign declared that Boucher Betrayed Coal contends that the incumbents embrace of the climate bill was the primary factor in his defeat. CLIP
Clear Act: A Climate Bill That Can Pass (September 14, 2010) http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/a-resilient-community/clear-act-a-climate-bill-that-can-pass
How the cap-and-cash-back bill can clear a deadlocked Senateand make most Americans better off. (...) What now? With Republicans poised to gain seats in November, the future for climate legislation seems bleak. Any climate bill will have to overcome Republican objections that it is a national energy tax, and indeed, will require active Republican support if it is to have a chance of passing. Fortunately, theres a plan that can do this: the bipartisan CLEAR Act cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The CLEAR Act puts a rising economy-wide price on carbon, mainly by auctioning permits to bring carbon into the economy. It then returns three-quarters of the auction proceeds directly and equally to all legal U.S. residents, enough to assure that a majority of families in every state gets back more than they pay in higher prices. The CLEAR Act, a.k.a. cap and dividend, has the potential to attract Republicans because its the opposite of a tax it makes most Americans financially better off. Moreover, its entirely market-based: it raises carbon prices but keeps government out of the dicey and costly role of picking winners. Best of all, its cap-and-cash-back mechanism can be easily understood by skeptical American voters. None of this means the CLEAR Act can pass without some political horse-trading. But the deals needed for passage can be based on publicly supported principles rather than private gain. CLIP - CHECK ALSO 3 Steps Toward a Politics of Global Warming - Making nice doesn't work. It's time to try something else.
Mediterranean Sea may be polluted with 250 billion microplastics (January 05, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0105-fidenci_microplastics.html
The 2010 scientific expedition undertaken by the European program called Mediterranean En-Dangered (MED) reveals that 250 billion microplastics could be found in the Mediterranean Sea. The main goal of the program, which will end in 2013, is to quantify the distribution of plastic pollution and better understand its dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea. Microplastics are usually defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters, so for most part they are invisible to human eyes. Samplings were conducted within 20 centimeters depth at 40 sites located in the northwestern basins of the Mediterranean Sea mainly off France and northern Italy. Ninety percent of the samples were composed of microplastics, with some containing up to six times more micro-fragments of plastic compared to plankton, which means that the marine biomass was largely dominated by plastics. In general, micro debris floating on the Mediterranean Sea reached 115,000 particles per square kilometer with a maximum of 892,000 particles. The concentration of plastic debris found in the sea is similar to the one measured in the Atlantic of the Northern Hemisphere or in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which has a huge density of plastic debris. However, these first findings should be extrapolated with cautions to the whole Mediterranean Sea since sampling sites were limited geographically. The amount of plastic that will be manufactured in the next ten years will nearly equal the total produced in the 20th century. Plastic is a major contributor to marine pollution. Impacts of microplastics to organisms and the environment are largely unknown. More than 180 species have been documented to absorb plastic debris including Planktophagous species. CLIP - Check also Massive Outbreak of Jellyfish Could Spell Trouble for Fisheries below
SIZE OF PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH IS GROSSLY EXAGGERATED, NEW STUDY SAYS (5 JAN 2011) GOOD NEWS... SORT OF... http://e360.yale.edu/digest/size_of_pacific_garbage_patch_is_grossly_exaggerated_new_study_says_/2741/
Claims that a patch of plastic debris and other trash in the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of Texas are grossly exaggerated and misleading, according to a new study. Following a literature review and an expedition to better understand the abundance of plastic in the North Pacific, Oregon State University researcher Angelicque White concluded that the cohesive plastic patch is actually less than 1 percent of the size of Texas, contrary to other estimates about the extent of the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Related claims that the oceans contain more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has grown tenfold each decade since the 1950s, are also incorrect, White said. There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the worlds oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists, White said. According to her findings, the amount of energy it would take to remove plastics from the ocean is about 250 times the energy that went into making the plastic itself. She also reported that the amount of plastic debris covering a swath of the ocean floor off the California coast is only about half the size of the fishing gear deployed in the same location.
Is the End in Sight for The Worlds Coral Reefs? (6 DEC 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/is_the_end_in_sight_for_the_worlds_coral_reefs_/2347/
It is a difficult idea to fathom. But the science is clear: Unless we change the way we live, the Earth's coral reefs will be utterly destroyed within our children's lifetimes.by j.e.n. veronOver the past decades, there have dozens of articles in the media describing dire futures for coral reefs. In the 1960s and 70s, we were informed that many reefs were being consumed by a voracious coral predator, the crown-of-thorns starfish. In the 1980s and 90s, although these starfish still reared their thorny heads from time to time, the principal threats had moved on to sediment runoff, nutrients, overfishing, and general habitat destruction.For me, an Australian marine scientist who has spent the past 40 years working on reefs the world over, these threats were of real concern, but their implications were limited in time or in space or both. Although crown-of-thorns starfish can certainly devastate reefs, the impacts of sediments, nutrients and habitat loss have usually been of greater concern, and I have been repeatedly shocked by the destruction I have witnessed. However, nothing comes close to the devastation waiting in the wings at the moment. You may well feel that dire predictions about anything almost always turn out to be exaggerations. You may think there may be something in it to worry about, but it wont be as bad as doomsayers like me are predicting. This view is understandable given that only a few decades ago I, myself, would have thought it ridiculous to imagine that reefs might have a limited lifespan on Earth as a consequence of human actions. It would have seemed preposterous that, for example, the Great Barrier Reef the biggest structure ever made by life on Earth could be mortally threatened by any present or foreseeable environmental change.Yet here I am today, humbled to have spent the most productive scientific years of my life around the rich wonders of the underwater world, and utterly convinced that they will not be there for our childrens children to enjoy unless we drastically change our priorities and the way we live. A decade ago, my increasing concern for the plight of reefs in the face of global temperature changes led me to start researching the effects of climate change on reefs, drawing on my experience in reef science, evolution, biodiversity, genetics, and conservation, as well as my profound interests in geology, palaeontology, and oceanography, not to mention the challenging task of understanding the climate science, geochemical processes, and ocean chemistry.When I started researching my book, A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End (Harvard, 2008), I knew that climate change was likely to have serious consequences for coral reefs. But the big picture that gradually emerged from my integration of these disparate disciplines left me shocked to the core. In a long period of deep personal anguish, I turned to specialists in many different fields of science to find anything that might suggest a fault in my own conclusions. But in this quest I was depressingly unsuccessful. The bottom line remains: Science argues that coral reefs can indeed be utterly trashed in the lifetime of todays children. That certainty is what motivates me to spread this message as clearly, and accurately, as I can. CLIP
Australia's floods threaten Great Barrier Reef (January 18, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0118-floods_gbr_kirkland.html
The floods ransacking the Queensland coast have cost 31 lives and $30 billion worth of property damage. Now, huge volumes of water are pouring into the ocean, threatening the Great Barrier Reef, which extends for thousands of kilometers off the coast. Although it may take years to know the full consequences of the flooding, Australian scientists are already warning of serious damage. For now, the biggest problems are concentrated on the southern part of the reef, where three overflowing riversthe Burdekin, the Fitzroy, and the Burnetthave released millions of gallons of heavily polluted water into the sea. So far, prevailing winds have confined the majority of the floodwaters to within 65 kilometers of shore. But in time, the damage may grow to affect the entire reef system. The floodwaters are dangerous for a number of reasons. One problem is the pure volume of freshwater now rushing into the ocean. In the Fitzroy river delta alone, enough flood water has flowed into the reef to fill three Sydney Harbors. Too much freshwater lowers salinity levels and can be deadly for coral. The floodwaters are also cloudy, mixed with dirt and sedimentnot to mention debris from cities and fertilizer and pesticide runoff from farms. The cloudy floodwaters block sunlight, impeding photosynthesis and smothering the coral. In one resort area, visibility in the water has already fallen from 30 meters to one meter. In addition, agricultural chemicals and trace metals may hurt coral directly. The nutrient-rich floodwaters are also likely to encourage the growth of microalgae , which provide food for the larvae of the crown-of-thorns starfish. When mature, the starfish feed on coral. Previous floods have triggered starfish outbreaks that devastated portions of the reef. Because those starfish take time to mature, it will probably be at least three years before we see the full consequences of the flood. The floods are yet another piece of bad news for the already vulnerable reef, which was damaged by a different set floods that occurred in 2008-2009, and which is already threatened by coastal development, climate change and ocean acidification.
An Ominous Warning on the Effects of Ocean Acidification (15 FEB 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/an_ominous_warning_on_the__effects_of_ocean_acidification/2241/
A new study says the seas are acidifying ten times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. And, the study concludes, current changes in ocean chemistry due to the burning of fossil fuels may portend a new wave of die-offs.
(..) They had drilled down into sediment that had formed on the sea floor over the course of millions of years. The oldest sediment in the drill was white. It had been formed by the calcium carbonate shells of single-celled organisms the same kind of material that makes up the White Cliffs of Dover. But when the scientists examined the sediment that had formed 55 million years ago, the color changed in a geological blink of an eye. In the middle of this white sediment, theres this big plug of red clay, says Andy Ridgwell, an earth scientist at the University of Bristol. In other words, the vast clouds of shelled creatures in the deep oceans had virtually disappeared. Many scientists now agree that this change was caused by a drastic drop of the oceans pH level. The seawater became so corrosive that it ate away at the shells, along with other species with calcium carbonate in their bodies. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the oceans to recover from this crisis, and for the sea floor to turn from red back to white. The clay that the crew of the JOIDES Resolution dredged up may be an ominous warning of what the future has in store. By spewing carbon dioxide into the air, we are now once again making the oceans more acidic. CLIP
Sustainable Palm Oil: Rainforest Savior or Fig Leaf? (29 NOV 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/sustainable_palm_oil_rainforest_savior_or_fig_leaf/2345/
The push to promote sustainable palm oil is turning into a test case for green consumerism. The outcome could help determine the future of the rainforests of Asia and Africa and whether consumer pressure can really sway corporate giants. The spoof advertisement could scarcely have been nastier for the chocolate firm Nestle. It showed a worker taking a break at the office and eating a Kit Kat bar that turns into the finger of a baby orangutan, with blood oozing everywhere. The online video, which appeared early this year, helped persuade Nestle to change its policy on the use of palm oil grown so campaigners claim on land that once nurtured forested orangutan habitat. It also encouraged the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a coalition of environmentalists and palm oil growers, traders and users, to launch its trademarked logo for certified sustainable palm oil to be put on food and cosmetics packaging beginning in early 2011. And it raised afresh the question of whether consumer pressure on big companies can deliver major environmental improvement. Can we tame the corporate giants of consumerism? Or are we deluding ourselves that we can put the fright into the likes of Nestle, Wal-Mart and BP? And even if some green-minded Westerners can successfully demand that these multinational companies clean up their act, surely the rapacious new consumers across Asia will undermine our efforts? The fate of palm oil in the marketplace is rapidly become a test case for green consumers. And despite some setbacks and plenty of skepticism, I think there are causes for optimism. Palm oil has overtaken soya as the worlds number one source of vegetable oil. It is found in everything from biscuits to biodiesel, detergents to potato chips, cookies to shampoo, and candy and cosmetics. In fact, palm oil is now found in about half of all packaged goods on the shelves. Palm oil is squeezed from the red fruit of the oil palm tree, primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia. Demand has doubled in the last decade because it delivers more vegetable oil per-hectare than rival oils like soya or sunflower, and because of health concerns about these other fats. Palm oil is free of trans fats. Its two major producing nations are riding the wave of an industry that now produces 50 million tons a year valued at roughly $40 billion. But palm oil is usually grown on former rainforest land sometimes recently-cleared land. Palm oil plantations cover 30,000 square kilometers of former forests in Indonesia alone, wiping out habitat for elephants, tigers, rhinos, orangutans and much else, and triggering enormous releases of carbon dioxide from lost forests and drained peat lands. By some counts Indonesia is, as a result, the worlds third-largest CO2 emitter, after China and the U.S. With industry analysts predicting that palm oil is likely to require an extra 30,000 to 70,000 square kilometers in the coming decade, the stakes are immensely high. This is especially true as the palm oil juggernaut is now Can the palm oil industry continue to meet rising demand without trashing more forests? moving on to the forests of central and west Africa. CLIP CHECK ALSO Will REDD Preserve Forests Or Merely Provide a Fig Leaf?
Does chopping down rainforests for pulp and paper help alleviate poverty in Indonesia? (January 13, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0113-pulp_and_paper_indonesia.html
Over the past several years, Asia Pulp & Paper has engaged in a marketing campaign to represent its operations in Sumatra as socially and environmentally sustainable. APP and its agents maintain that industrial pulp and paper production as practiced in Sumatra does not result in deforestation, is carbon neutral, helps protect wildlife, and alleviates poverty [see APP documents]. While a series of analyses and reports have shown most of these assertions to be false, the final claim has largely not been contested. But does conversion of lowland rainforests for pulp and paper really alleviate poverty in Indonesia? A number of reports released over the past decade have documented the large-scale conversion of Sumatra's lowland forests for pulp and paper production. Conversion has been driven by several actors, but two firms have accounted for the bulk of the activity: Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). Both companies have been called out by environmentalists as causing egregious environmental damage, including logging of rainforests, development of carbon-dense peatlands, and road-building in sensitive areas. In APPs case, there have been allegations by Eyes on the Forest that it has engaged in open burning, in violation of Indonesian law and company policy, although it is unclear whether these fires were actually set by the plantation operator or communities surrounding the concession. In either case, such burning contributes to the choking haze that casts a pall over much of Southeast Asia on an increasingly frequent basis.According to WWF-Indonesia, APP shoulders the brunt of the blame. Together with its suppliers, APP has cleared more than one million hectares of natural forests in Riau and Jambi provinces alone, making it responsible for more forest loss than any other company operating in Sumatra. Today, APP has at least 3.1 million tons of pulp capacity in Central Sumatra, while APRIL has roughly 3.2 million tons of production capacity. While both firms, which together account for about 80 percent of Indonesia's total pulp production, have been feverishly expanding their plantations, both are still heavily dependent on deforestation: as of 2008 more than half their wood fiber came from natural forests. In 2010, the volume of timber sourced from the clearing of Riaus natural forest reached 11.3 million cubic meters, up from 4.9 million cubic meters in 2009, according to Ministry of Forestry data. The sharp increase may be attributable to two factors: a 2008-2009 crackdown by provincial authorities on the use of mixed hardwoods going into pulp and paper mills and last years announcement of the country-wide moratorium on new concessions in natural forest areas and peatlands. The moratorium led companies to scramble to secure forest land before the two-year ban takes effect later this month. Laying waste to vast tracts of rainforest and peatlands that store large quantities of carbon and which are home to endangered species like Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans, has given both APP and APRIL an image problem: they are now viewed as toxic brands by several major buyers in the United States and Western Europe.
UN and conservation organizations condemn big oil's plan to drill in Virunga National Park (January 20, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0120-hance_virunga.html
WWF, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN have all recently expressed concerns about two oil companies' plan to explore for oil in Africa's oldest and famed Virunga National Park. Home to a quarter of the world's mountain gorillas, as well as chimpanzees, hippos, lions, forest elephants, and rare birds Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of Africa's most biodiverse parks and is classified by the UN as a World Heritage Site. But according to WWF plans by oil companies SOCO International and Dominion Petroleum could jeopardize not only the wildlife and ecosystems, but also local people. "After so many years of conservation and money invested in the park by conservation groups, the international community and the government, it is devastating to see an oil company pursue profit with total disrespect for both the animals and the local Congolese," reads a statement from WWF, which reports that 30,000 local people use Edward Lake for sustainable fishing. WWF warns that oil drilling threatens to pollute the lake. According to Reuters, the UN program UNESCO also condemned the plan, warning DRC President Joseph Kabila not to move ahead with drilling in the park. Under the current agreement the two oil companies would garner 85% of the share of the oil drilling, while the DRC government would take 15%. CLIP - CHECK ALSO Protected areas vital for saving elephants, chimps, and gorillas in the Congo - "In a landscape-wide study in the Congo, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) found that core protected areas and strong anti-poaching efforts are necessary to maintain viable populations of forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzeesall of which are threatened with extinction."
The Case Against Biofuels: Probing Ethanols Hidden Costs (11 MAR 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/the_case_against_biofuels_probing_ethanols_hidden_costs_/2251/
Despite strong evidence that growing food crops to produce ethanol is harmful to the environment and the worlds poor, the Obama administration is backing subsidies and programs that will ensure that half of the U.S.s corn crop will soon go to biofuel production. Its time to recognize that biofuels are anything but green. In light of the strong evidence that growing corn, soybeans, and other food crops to produce ethanol takes a heavy toll on the environment and is hurting the worlds poor through higher food prices, consider this astonishing fact: This year, more than a third of the U.S.s record corn harvest of 335 million metric tons will be used to produce corn ethanol. Whats more, within five years fully 50 percent of the U.S. corn crop is expected to wind up as biofuels.Heres another sobering fact. Despite the record deficits facing the U.S., and notwithstanding President Obamas embrace of some truly sustainable renewable energy policies, the president and his administration have wholeheartedly embraced corn ethanol and the tangle of government subsidies, price supports, and tariffs that underpin the entire dubious enterprise of using corn to power our cars. In early February, the president threw his weight behind new and existing initiatives to boost ethanol production from both food and nonfood sources, including supporting Congressional mandates that would triple biofuel production to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Congress and the Obama administration are paying billions of dollars to producers of biofuels, with expenditures scheduled to increase steadily through 2022 and possibly 2030. The fuels are touted by these producers as a green solution to reliance on imported petroleum, and a boost for farmers seeking higher prices.Yet a close look at their impact on food security and the environment with profound effects on water, the eutrophication of our coastal zones from fertilizers, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions suggests that the biofuel bandwagon is anything but green. Congress and the administration need to reconsider whether they are throwing good money after bad. If the biofuel saga illustrates anything, it is that thinking ecologically will require thinking more logically, as well. CLIP
Earth's magnetic pole shift unleashing poisonous space clouds linked to mysterious bird deaths - BY MIKE ADAMS (January 13, 2011) http://www.naturalnews.com/030996_bird_deaths_pole_shift.html
(...) The working theory in all this, at least for the birds, is that deadly space clouds are reaching into the lower atmosphere and killing these birds in flight, after which the birds fall to the ground. The reports of the birds experiencing "blunt trauma" are likely from the birds hitting the ground.What, exactly, would be found in these deadly space clouds that might be killing the birds? One possibility is that these clouds might be moving along with gaps in the magnetosphere that would invite deadly radiation to "fry" the birds in flight, as one possibility (although this explanation seems unlikely, see below). I'm not aware whether tissues tests have been done on these birds to determine whether they died of intense radiation poisoning. It would also seem that if radiation reached so low into our atmosphere, it would have killed many plants and trees in the area, and there's no evidence of that occurring, at least not that I'm aware of.Another possibility is that the deadly space clouds could have frozen the birds in flight with blasts of extremely cold air. But such an event also would have seemingly impacted the trees and plants at ground level, and there's no evidence of that occurring either. The most likely explanation is that the birds were killed in-flight by changes in the composition of the air they were breathing. And as it turns out, Noctilucent clouds are largely made of a poisonous gas known as Hydrogen Cyanide. CLIP - Check Weather radar shows something unusual around time birds fell AND Earth's Magnetic Fields May Be Causing Bird and Fish Die-Off
A High-Risk Energy Boom Sweeps Across North America (30 SEP 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_high-risk_energy_boom_sweeps_across_north_america/2324/
Energy companies are rushing to develop unconventional sources of oil and gas trapped in carbon-rich shales and sands throughout the western United States and Canada. So far, government officials have shown little concern for the environmental consequences of this new fossil-fuel development boom. (...) As domestic U.S. pools of conventional oil and gas dwindle, energy companies are increasingly turning to unconventional fossil fuel reserves contained in the carbon rich-sands and deep shales of Canada, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain West.Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming hold oil shale reserves estimated to contain 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, half of which the department says is recoverable. Eastern Utah alone holds tar sands oil reserves estimated at 12 billion to 19 billion barrels. The tar In North Dakota and other states, residents worry that the energy boom will deplete aquifers. sands region of northern Alberta, Canada contains recoverable oil reserves conservatively estimated at 175 billion barrels, and with new technology could reach 400 billion barrels. Deep gas-bearing shales of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain West, Great Lakes, Northeast, and Gulf Coast contain countless trillions of feet of natural gas. If current projections turn out to be accurate, there would be enough oil and gas to power the United States for at least another century. But even as one of the largest energy booms in history has erupted along a great arc of the continent, the consequences are prompting civic discontent, lawsuits, and political battles in state capitals. The boom is producing fresh scars on the land and new threats to scarce water supplies. Government studies show that exploiting unconventional fossil-fuel reserves generates more C02 emissions than drilling for conventional oil and gas and uses three to five times more water. Its a pact with the devil, says Randy Udall, a consulting energy analyst from Colorado. The tar sands and shale oil and shale gas require a lot of water. It sets up a collision course for the West. In communities from Wyoming to Texas, thousands of trucks now rumble down rural roads, carrying the huge amounts of water 2 million to 4 million gallons per well needed to free oil and natural gas from shales by blasting them with high-pressure fluids. In places such as North Dakota, which receives modest amounts of rainfall, local residents and conservationists worry that the energy boom will deplete aquifers. And the explosion in development of these unconventional fossil fuels raises a troubling question at the national level: At a time when the country should be embracing a renewable energy revolution, it is hurtling in the opposite direction, developing on a massive scale sources of energy that cause considerably more environmental harm than conventional oil and gas drilling. CLIP
Oil and Gas Collection: Hydraulic Fracturing, Toxic Chemicals and the Surge of Earthquake Activity in Arkansas (January 6, 2011) THIS IS A MORE LIKELIER EXPLANATION, AT LEAST IN THIS CASE - Version française ICI http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22667
Fracking the life out of Arkansas and beyond -- The last four months of 2010, nearly 500 earthquakes rattled Guy, Arkansas. The entire state experienced 38 quakes in 2009. The spike in quake frequency precedes and coincides with the 100,000 dead fish on a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River that included Roseville Township on December 30. The next night, 5,000 red-winged blackbirds and starlings dropped dead out of the sky in Beebe. Hydraulic fracturing is the most likely culprit for all three events, as it causes earthquakes with a resultant release of toxins into the environment. A close look at Arkansas history of earthquakes and drilling reveals a shocking surge in quake frequency following advanced drilling. The number of quakes in 2010 nearly equals all of Arkansas quakes for the entire 20th century. The oil and gas industry denies any correlation, but the advent of hydrofracking followed by earthquakes is a story repeated across the nation. It isnt going to stop any time soon, either. Fracking has gone global.
(...) An earthquake of whatever scale can release a stream or cloud of gas and fracking chemicals which could easily explain why sleeping birds would suddenly take flight, and then quickly die as they succumbed to the toxic fumes. Of note, eight measured quakes within 40 miles of Beebe, and within 75 miles of Roseville, hit the area on December 30 thru several minutes past midnight on January 1st. This excludes any micro- or miniquakes which can have the same effect. Significantly, the area is known for its prolific microquakes numbering 40,000 since 1982. Canadian Geologist Jack Century crusades against induced seismicity from irresponsible drilling. In a 2009 speech before the Peace River Environmental Society, he provided a brief explanation of how fracking induces earthquakes, completely refuting industry denial that fracking causes quakes. Fracking induces not only micro- and mini-seismic actions that can compromise the integrity of well casings, but also large earthquakes registering on the order of 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, resulting in human deaths. Scott Ausbrooks, geohazards supervisor for AGS, told CNN in December that while earthquakes arent unusual in Arkansas, the frequency is. Indeed, theyve had a 1,200 percent increase in earthquakes over 2009 data just in the last four months of 2010. All of the quakes registered less than 3 on the Richter Scale; over 98% of them occurred near Guy, where we find the largest concentration of gas wells; and 99% occurred outside the New Madrid Fault zone (circled in red below) where seismic activity is expected, implying they are human induced CLIP - NOTE from Jean: Not content with polluting and destroying nature aboveground, rapacious, greedy humans are doing the same within the very bowels of our planet, thus raping Mother Earth, contaminating its watery blood (the aquifers) with a slew of toxic chemicals and endangering the existence of every life form aboveground, all for the sake of making a quick buck and burning methane, thus releasing ever more greenhouse gas with energy intensive extracting methods that overall are just as - if not more! - dirty and environmentally destructive as the oil sands extraction in Alberta... To understand how such a sorry state of affairs has been made possible (the main cause is political corruption), read the end of this article...
(...) Bateman noted that Western and Central Europe have leased their lands to frackers. Australians are suffering from the same frack contaminations as Americans, and China is also exploiting the new technology. Josh Foxs 2010 film, Gasland, documents a multitude of harmful consequences on animal and human life, as well as property values. The most infamous scene shows people able to ignite their contaminated tap water: Fox makes the point that Dick Cheneys former company, Halliburton, lobbied for and won exemptions from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Superfund, and the Safe Drinking Water Act, thanks to our corporate-owned Congress. Though it did not hesitate to pass on Wall Streets gambling debts to the public (twice), Congress has not found the will to pass the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act. Nor do drillers have to disclose the toxic chemicals used, contrary to the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that fracking poses no threat to water supplies and that no further studies were needed. From some Orwellian nightmare, however, at least 65 of the chemicals used in fracking are considered hazardous by the EPA. They have been linked to cancer; liver, kidney, brain, respiratory and skin disorders; birth defects; and other health problems, according to a 2005 report by the Oil and Gas Accountability Project. Of primary concern to citizens, OGAP notes that Approximately half of the water that Americans rely on for drinking comes from underground sources. Wyoming took a proactive stance on full disclosure of fracking chemicals when it passed new rules in September. Loopholes, however, still allow companies to claim proprietary ownership of such information, restricting the information from public view. Given the EPAs position that fracking is safe, its not likely that Arkansas citizens will get much help from the federal government. Nor will they find a friend at the state level. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has so far been unwilling or unable to stop UMETCO Minerals Corporation from illegally dumping toxic chemicals into streams. The same situation applies across the nation where state governments protect industry over environmental and human health. Recently, outgoing Governor David Paterson vetoed legislation that would have put a moratorium on vertical and horizontal hydraulic drilling. Already, Pennsylvania leases a third of its public lands to private energy drillers. Given government bias toward energy giants, and BP's destruction of the Gulf of Mexico is a case in point, more direct action may be required by citizens, if environmental and human health are to be saved from the fossil fuel industry.
"End of Days" bird kill just a fraction of real death toll (January 07, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0106-morgan_bird_kills.html
The sudden en-masse deaths of thousands of birds in the Southern U.S. on the night of New Year's Eve have created a frenzy of media attention, but in reality hardly compare to the massive number that die each year because of human activity. (...) There are many human-related causes of bird mortality including buildings, outdoor cats, pesticides, communication towers, automobiles, wind farms, and lead poisoning from spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle." said American Bird Conservancy Vice President, Mike Parr. "But because most of the deaths from those sources often occur in ones or twos, they often go unnoticed or unreported. Red-winged blackbirds often travel in huge flocks In total, says Parr, studies have estimated that up to one billion birds may be killed annually due to collisions with buildings. Another billion fall prey to domestic cats. Up to 50 million birds are killed each year after hitting communications towers, and pesticide poisoning has been linked to the deaths of up to 15 million birds each year. In addition to all these hazards, the increasing presence of wind turbines is a threat to many birds, especially when they're built in the path of migration routes. When you look at the totality of human-caused threats to birds, it has got to give cause for serious concern about our cumulative effects on their populations, Parr said. Strides have been taken in the development, implementation, and promotion of bird-safe technology. For instance, the prohibition or restriction of many pesticides most toxic to birds, such as carbofuran, fenthion, and ethyl parathion, has reduced bird mortality by as much as 75 percent. Bird-safe glass is also being developed for use in tall buildings. Bird-safe building glass is no longer a pie-in-the-sky dream." said Parr. "Its reality is on the horizon we are close. The manufacturers are working with the scientists; theyre working with us. And local communities are getting into the act as well, with more and more cities such as San Francisco looking at policies that implement bird-friendly construction, New wind technology is in the works for a turbine which would pose much less risk to birds than the design implemented in wind farms today. Called an "airborne wind turbine", the idea is to do away with the tower of a traditional wind turbine and instead use a helium-filled blimp which would enable the device to be raised much higher than is currently possible in order to capture the increased wind energy of higher altitudes. Because its height, the device could emit a bird-deterring sound too loud for use in lower turbines. However, while airborne wind turbines are on the horizon, today's turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of birds every year. The Department of the Interior is currently considering imposing operational guidelines on wind farms which would lessen their risk to birds. Parr believes those guidelines should be mandatory. CLIP
EARTHLINGS is a powerful and informative documentary about societys treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby. This multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place. As a part of our continued effort to spread awareness, Nation Earth has agreed to stream EARTHLINGS online for free. EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed the Vegan maker for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs. (...) In 1999, writer/producer/director Shaun Monson began work on a series of PSAs about spaying and neutering pets. The footage he shot at animal shelters around Los Angeles affected him so profoundly that the project soon evolved into EARTHLINGS. The film would take another six years to complete because of the difficulty in obtaining footage within these profitable industries. Though the film was initially ignored by distributors, who told Monson that the film would never see the light of day and should be swept under the rug, today EARTHLINGS is considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world. Nation Earth was established to produce documentary films on socially urgent issues. EARTHLINGS, released in 2005, was the company's first feature film and is the first of a documentary trilogy. The company is currently at work on the second installment, UNITY, which will explore the unifying force of consciousness found in nature, animals and humankind. UNITY is scheduled to be completed in 2010. For more information please see http://www.unitythemovie.com.
Earthlings - avec sous-titres français http://veg-tv.info/Earthlings
EARTHLINGS est un documentaire long-métrage sur la dépendance absolue de l'humanité à légard des animaux (animaux de compagnie, nourriture, habillement, divertissement, et recherche scientifique) mais aussi sur lirrespect total pour ceux quon peut aussi qualifier de « marchandise ».
DawnWatch: "Vegans Take America" on NPR's On Point http://groups.google.com/group/bpf-tampabay/browse_thread/thread/0687cf54fb360106/8ba0f6b8a2fa9554?hide_quotes=no
If you have been vegan for a few years and have sometimes felt like you are all alone -- especially at those family holiday dinners -- boy will you enjoy this hour from the National Public Radio show On Point:
It aired on Friday, January 14, but can still be heard in full on line. It opens with a chat with Kim O'Donnel, a food writer who is not vegan but is watching the vegan explosion across America. Cookbook writers Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Mollie Katzen are also interviewed. The host mentions many now famous vegans and closes with a song from Moby, before which he reads a quote from Moby: "Could you look an animal in the eye and say my appetite is more important than your suffering?" Many interesting points were made. I found of particular interest a comment from a reader who said she went vegan after seeing the superb, Oscar nominated, documentary Food Inc. That supports the research that shows that media does not have to have a blatant "Go Vegan" message in order to inspire a change to a vegan diet. Any coverage of the horror of factory farming reminds people that their hamburgers used to be living, feeling beings; that reminder often leads folks to decide that the veggie burger is a better choice. CLIP More through http://www.dawnwatch.com/ and in Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals - "This book could have been written in a overly-dramatic, highly inflammatory way; however, it is carefully written, balanced, and even manages to use humor in at most unexpected places. Once you know, you can never go back to looking at milk, eggs, meat, fur, pets, circuses the same way ... and it's all for the good. Why not seek to move through this world with great awareness and compassion for all life with whom we share the planet?"
MAKE SURE TO ALSO READ ARTICLES #1 TO #7 IN THE MAIN ARTICLES SECTION BELOW
NUGGETS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
Japanese Pyramids in Australian Documentary - A Challenge to Accepted History - A Japanese Atlantis? http://www.forbiddenknowledgetv.com/videos/ancient-civilizations/japanese-pyramids-in-australian-documentary.html
This Australian documentary about the mysterious underwater pyramid complex off the coast of Okinawa is the best one I've ever seen. It covers not just the geological and archeological features but the cultural ones, as well, with locals telling of legends about underwater cities and a palace belonging to the "Sea God." The underwater structures also show a striking resemblance to a surviving ancient Okinawan castle above the water, which includes large spaces carved out of bedrock. The underwater complex stretches for kilometers with a central pyramid, which Professor Masayaki Kimura is 100% certain could not have been formed by natural, geological processes. He estimates that it is 10,000 years old; twice the age of the Giza complex in Egypt. The Japanese structure is thought to have sunk beneath the waves as the sea level rose, during the end of the last Ice Age. If true, this would constitute a major re-write of human history.
US to Launch Largest Rocket Ever from West Coast (Jan 20, 2011) http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/01/20/us-to-launch-largest-rocket-ever-from-west-coast/
The United States is poised to launch the largest rocket ever from its West Coast launch pad, a 23-story-tall giant carrying a top-secret spy satellite. The rocket, known as a Delta IV Heavy, is carrying a load for the National Reconnaissance Office, which handles the nation's spy satellites. Few details have been released about the satellite being launched. The L.A. Times reports officials have warned people near the site, some 240 kilometers north of Los Angeles, that they will feel the earth shudder. They will also hear a sonic boom, as loud as a freight train, when the rocket breaks the sound barrier. Rocket-watchers are expected to gather on the beach to watch the launch.
200 Dead Cows Found In Wisconsin (1/18/11 ) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/18/200-dead-cows-wisconsin_n_810248.html
200 cows were found dead Friday on a farm in Portage County, Wisconsin. The dead cows had to be removed with semi-trucks. The rest of the farm has not been quarantined, as officials say no threat is posed toward humans or other animals, according the The AP.The owner of the dead cows was working with a local veterinarian, who initially believed a virus such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) or bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) could be the culprit, according to The Wausau Daily Herald. WSAW News reports that more recent updates have suggested pneumonia as the cause of the mass cow deaths, though such widespread cases of pneumonia are rare. Tests are still underway to determine what is responsible. See WSAW's full video report here. CLIP
Free Bradley Manning (January 17, 2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4eNzokgRIw
It is a crime to witness felonies and stay silent; Manning didn't. Quantico, Virginia - Over 150 concerned citizens risked arrest today at the gates to the Marine Corps base at Quantico in order to protest the inhumane conditions that accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has been held in for seven months and counting. Supporters marched towards the base front gate chanting "Free Bradley Manning!," approximately a mile from the brig where Bradley has been held in solitary confinement for the last five months, before being stopped by Marine MP's. CodePink activists had collected a care package for Bradley that included a blanket, a Snuggie, cookies, books and music. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, it was rejected by the Marines. Earlier in the day, many of these activists rallied outside FBI Headquarters in Washington DC to protest the September raids on anti-war organizers in Chicago and Minneapolis. These actions were organized by a wide range of organizations, including: the Defending Dissent Foundation, WarIsACrime.org, Bradley Manning Support Network, DC Bill of Right Coalition, Progressive Democrats of America, World Can't Wait, DC National Lawyers Guild, CodePink, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, Witness Against Torture, Backbone Campaign, Courage to Resist, and others. Also, photos of recent rallies in support for Bradley Manning in Oklahoma City, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. Meanwhile, the website Firedoglake.com will be delivering over 30,000 petition signatures this weekend to Quantico urging that Bradley Manning be treated humanely. There is still time to add your name today here.
Last 15 Years UFO Sightings In US Get Mapped http://www.ufo-blogger.com/2011/01/last-15-year-ufo-sighting-in-us-get.html
In the past 15 years, the Davenport, Wash. - based National UFO Reporting Center has collected more than 30,000 reports of UFO sightings through its hotline and Web site. The first plots every sighting as a small yellow dot, with lighter colors representing a higher density of reports. CLIP
Modern Earthlings would be unfazed by an alien landing (10 January 2011) http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/news/Modern-Earthlings-would-be-unfazed.6684713.jp
Proof that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is unlikely to upset modern Earthlings, an expert has claimed. Times have changed dramatically since 1961 when the US Congress was warned that evidence of extra-terrestrials would lead to widespread panic, argued psychologist Dr Albert Harrison. First contact with ET, or the discovery of ancient alien relics on Earth or Mars, would probably be met with delight or indifference today, he believes. Meanwhile, other experts, including Dr Martin Dominik, from the University of St Andrews, said that given the right conditions Earth-like life could be a "cosmic imperative" and evolve the same way everywhere. Aliens at a comparable stage of evolution to humans were therefore likely to be little different from us. Dr Harrison, from the University of California at Davis, US, wrote in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: "The discovery of ETI (extra-terrestrial intelligence] may be far less startling for generations that have been brought up with word processors, electronic calculators, avatars and cell phones as compared with earlier generations." CLIP
NZ UFO expert: On a UFO, Grey ETs merged my sons soul into his body in my womb (January 19th, 2011) AMAZING AND POWERFUL REVELATIONS! FASCINATING INSIGHTS INTO THE REALITY OF THE SOUL WORLD AND ABOUT HOW HUMANITY-SUPPORTIVE ET GREYS HAVE BEEN EDUCATING 1000's OF HUMAN CHILDREN STARTING 30+ YEARS AGO TO HELP US ALL EVOLVE TO A HIGHER MORE SPIRITUALITY-BASED CIVILIZATION. (More on these "Star Children" HERE ... THIS VIDEO IS WORTH WATCHING ENTIRELY! http://www.examiner.com/exopolitics-in-seattle/nz-ufo-expert-on-a-ufo-grey-ets-merged-my-son-s-soul-into-his-body-my-womb
In an exclusive ExopoliticsTV interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre released on January 19, 2011, Suzanne Hansen, Founding Director of UFOCUS NZ Research Network (New Zealand) publicly reveals the unique and compelling history of how she first met the soul of her son aboard a Grey ET spacecraft when she was only 8 years old and her son appeared as a Ball of Light.[A BLUE BALL OF LIGHT SLIGHTLY SMALLER THAN A SOCCER BALL] In her interview, Ms. Hansen reveals that later in her life, after she was married and pregnant with her son, she was taken aboard a Grey ET spacecraft, where she met her sons soul once more as a Ball of Light. On this occasion, her sons Soul was inserted into her womb and her sons body in a procedure by the Grey ETs, who also gave her deep information about the future positive social role her son would play on Earth. Throughout her life, Ms. Hansen states, her experiences with the Grey ETs were transformational, purposeful, and positive. Suzanne Hansens account is corroborated by Mary Rodwell, RN, who led Ms. Hansen through hypnotic regression sessions designed to help her recover her memories of her life-long experiences around her sons Soul aboard Grey ET spacecraft. Ms. Rodwell is a world leader in alien abduction counseling. Mary Rodwell was featured in an SBS documentary (SEE My Mum Talks To Aliens) alongside her son a self-confessed UFO skeptic. Mary, a former nurse and midwife and clinical hypnotherapist founded ACERN in 1997 and has since investigated over 1600 cases of ET encounters worldwide. ACERN helps alien abduction victims deal with their traumas with the support of qualified medical doctors, psychologists and therapists. In the documentary My Mum Talks to Aliens, aired nationally in Australia, Mary Rodwell and her son are followed on their journey of discovery as they travel the country in pursuit of solid evidence of an alien presence on Earth. I believe these advanced intelligences have been visiting this planet since the dawn of time, and I believe theyre here to assist evolution to another level, Ms. Rodwell said. CLIP - Other videos with Mary Rodwell HERE - MORE ON Suzanne Hansen HERE
Here is another telling excerpt taken from this webpage above:
" (1) During this experience at age eight, I was initially taken to a large room in which I 'played' with children of mixed species, using mind games to facilitate telepathic communications between us. The interesting thing is that I could 'see' the objects being produced by our minds, with both my mind (thoughts) and my eyes. You will notice a strange small bed in this drawing with a baby on it and a Grey beside it. In another regression session, Mary Rodwell regressed me to when I was 6 months old, where I could see myself lying on this small bed. I have nick-named it the 'lullaby bed' and a description of how and why this bed is used with human babies, and the technology involved, features in another chapter of my book. (2) I was invited to accompany a Grey to a room where I was to meet another 'child'. Here I am as an eight-year-old girl, during my first 'official' meeting with the ball of blue light, learning to relate to the soul of my future son through play. The Greys 'observed' from another area of the craft to see if we would be suited. (3) At age 28, I was taken onboard craft for a 'merging' procedure, where the soul of my future son would enter my body, and that of my unborn child, for the first time. Two Grey-mixed-species entities comforted me, while a Grey began a procedure to lower my metabolism prior to the soul entering my body."
The New Human: 5th Root race, Indigos, Chinas Super Psychics & Star Children. A human upgrade program orchestrated by extraterrestrial contact, the evidence and implications. http://www.ufocusnz.org.nz/content/The-New-Humans/67.aspx
Extraterrestrial contact and genetic manipulation?
UFOs and their appearance in our airspace has been systematically ridiculed as pure nonsense by governments for many years. It is an effective strategy, despite the fact that one in eleven people see these craft. Ridicule has meant most people will hesitate to say what they have seen, let alone admit they had any interactions with them. But evidence of this reality comes from many thousands of photographs, and hours of video footage, but also testimony of credible witnesses such as airline pilots and military personnel. This is apart from the radar sightings which all confirm this as a reality. A medical doctor, DR Stephen Greer heads a disclosure program, has videotaped hundreds of hours of testimony from high ranking military personal who confirm UFOs are real and that there is a systemic and deliberate cover up by government agencies. Command Sergeant-Major Robert Dean U.S. Army/NATO retired. In the 60s and 70s guarded COSMIC- classified files showed government agencies were fully aware extraterrestrials and UFOs in our air space. But, compelling as this is, the evidence of such craft in our skies is really a very small part of this phenomenon. We have to ask that if this is so, who is controlling such craft and why are they here? Robert Dean believes that we are very closely connected to them and suggests that they are responsible for the star child phenomenon. This development of a new humanity called Homo Noeticus is a term coined by John White, who studied parapsychology and noetics. (The study of consciousness.) Other well-known researchers such as author Jenny Randels ( UK) wrote Star Children on a similar theme. The reason for this amazing statement is because Contact experiences are proven to be inter-generational, and the children born to those who have been visited appear to be more intelligent, exhibit extraordinary psychic, intuitive abilities, and have knowledge not consciously learnt. Ufological research shows why these consistent genetic lines play an important factor in this phenomenon?
Podiatric physician and surgeon, Dr Roger Leir has become renowned in Ufology for his pioneering surgery removing alleged alien implants, in his autobiographical book The Aliens and the Scalpel DR Leirs research included the phenomenon of Star Children . He writes I believe that any mother that looks at her recently born child in comparison with children born twenty years ago, will testify that there is a tremendous difference. Some look upon the differences in the New humans and say they have to do with better prenatal care etc. In my opinion this supposition is nonsense AND IN LIGHT OF MY MORE RECENT STUDIES AND EXPOSURE TO THE ABDUCTION PHENOMENON, I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE RAPID ADVANCEMENT OF OUR HUMAN SPECIES IS DUE TO ALIEN INTERVENTION IN OUR BODIES AND MINDS DR Leir has based his statement not only from research into alien implants, but from his observations of children. Comparing todays statistics on the developmental stages in young children to 40 years ago, (when such records and studies began,) he discovered that the level of higher psychological functioning in some cases was increased as much as much as 80%. The question is how could this happen? DR Leir I suggest that the answer involves alien manipulation of human genetics (Page 192 The Aliens and the Scalpel.)
Recent research in genetics could well qualify the possibility of this starling revelation. There is unexplainable anomalies in our genetic history, and recently, in 2003, it was discovered that 223 genes do not have the required predecessors on our geonomic evolutionary tree. These extra genes are completely missing in the invertebrate phrase. Therefore scientists can only explain their presence as recent in evolutionary time scale, and comment that this was not through gradual evolution, vertically on the tree of life, but horizontally as a side ways insertion of genetic material. Significantly these 223 genes are two-thirds the difference between the chimpanzee and Homo-sapiens and include important psychological and psychiatric functions. How did man aquire such enigmatic genes! Certainly DR Leir and other researchers believe the answer may well be extraterrestrial genetic intervention! CLIP
March 9, 2011: Dawn of the Unity Wave by Dr. Calleman http://www.calleman.com/content/articles/dawn_of_the_unity_wave.htm
Last year large numbers of people gathered in the Conscious Convergence event on July 17-18, 2010, setting an intention to manifest unity consciousness as the Ninth, and highest, of the Mayan waves brings the universe to its highest state of existence. This event served as a base camp for intention setting and ascension towards Unity consciousness; We celebrated in joy in the most varied forms, ranging from the temples of Bali to the Mayan elders in Guatemala and from the Sami in the North to the Bushmen in the Kalahari. We could for the first time ever see our planet emerging as a sacred space encircled by a global medicine wheel.*We are now approaching the actual beginning of this wave of unity consciousness, which begins on March 9, 2011. This is the ninth wave also known as the Universal Underworld. This wave includes thirteen uaxaclahunkin (18 day) periods that propel a process designed to lead the universe and the human beings to their highest state of consciousness.** The purpose of this article is to provide some additional background to this wave, its initiation date and suggest how the energy of the wave may be used in the most beneficial way. This requires that I again summarize the basic structure of the cosmic time plan as understood from the Mayan calendar. CLIP - CHECK ALSO Unity A New Dawn
Cameroun 1955-1962 : la guerre cachée de la France en Afrique (01/01/2011) NOTE de Jean: J'ai vu a TV5 une excellente entrevue avec un des auteurs de ce livre-choc et découvert ainsi ce pan caché de l'histoire de la France coloniale. Je vous recommande de voir cette entrevue : Kamerun ! Histoire interdite http://www.rue89.com/2011/01/01/cameroun-1955-1962-la-guerre-cachee-de-la-france-en-afrique-183142
Paris a livré une guerre totale aux indépendantistes camerounais, aujourd'hui dénoncée par le livre-enquête « Kamerun ! »C'était la guerre. Une guerre avec des dizaines de milliers de morts, à 5 000 km de la métropole, loin du regard d'une opinion fascinée par les « événements » d'Algérie. Et pourtant, cette vraie boucherie s'inscrit dans la lignée des pires conflits coloniaux, Algérie et Indochine. Aujourd'hui encore, peu de Français savent que leur armée fut engagée sept ans au Cameroun, de 1955 à 1962, pour éradiquer l'UPC, un mouvement « rebelle ». Sept années de guerre totale. Cette patiente et longue enquête menée par un groupe de journalistes et d'historiens franco-camerounais devrait enfin faire sauter le couvercle. « Kamerun ! Une guerre cachée aux origines de la Françafrique (1948-1971) » de Thomas Deltombe, Manuel Domergue et Jacob Tatsitsa, confronte des dizaines de témoins retrouvés dans les deux camps et des milliers de pages d'archives (diplomatiques et militaires) pour arriver à une conclusion limpide : la France a fait la guerre au Cameroun pendant sept ans. Une guerre totale, pour reprendre l'expression des théoriciens de la doctrine de la guerre révolutionnaire (DGR), radicale et sans merci. La fameuse guerre des curs et des esprits, avec l'arsenal d'un exceptionnel dispositif de renseignement fondé sur :le regroupement forcé de villages,le quadrillage de la population, l'action psychologique à grande échelle,la chasse aux maquis clandestins,l'exécution ciblée des dirigeants de la rébellion,la torture érigée en arme de terreur massive. Bilan : de 20 000 à 120 000 morts!... BEAUCOUP PLUS DE DÉTAILS VIA LE http://www.kamerun-lesite.com/
OTHER RECOMMENDED NEWS AND INFORMATION
Hu says China not seeking arms race or domination (20 January 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12246161
Chinese President Hu Jintao has said China has no interest in pursuing an arms race or exerting military dominance over other nations."We do not engage in arms races or pose a military threat to any country," the Chinese leader said in a speech to US business leaders.Mr Hu called for US co-operation on economic and security issues.On the third day of his US state visit, Mr Hu met leading US politicians and was quizzed on a number of issues."China will never seek hegemony or pursue an expansionist policy," Mr Hu said during a speech at a lunch with senior US officials and business leaders from firms like General Electric, Coca-cola and Boeing."We will remain committed to the path of peaceful development."The Chinese leader said the relationship between the US and China had historically enjoyed a "smooth and steady growth" when the two nations considered each other's interests. CLIP
Unbowed China leader warns US (January 21, 2011) http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/unbowed-china-leader-warns-us-20110121-19y97.html
Chinese President Hu Jintao, unbowed by pressure on a state visit, warned the United States on Thursday not to press on Taiwan and Tibet as he insisted that the rising Asian power sought cooperation. A day after a gala dinner at the White House, Hu had a frostier reception as he visited Capitol Hill where top US lawmakers pressed him on economic and human rights concerns including the jailing of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. Hu afterward delivered a speech to US business and political leaders in which he urged "mutual respect" and said: "The China-US relationship is not one in which one side's gain means the other one's loss." The Chinese leader said that Taiwan and Tibet "concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and they represent China's core interests." "A review of the history of our relations tells us that US-China relations will enjoy smooth and steady growth when the two countries handle well issues involving each other's major interests," Hu said. "Otherwise our relations will suffer constant trouble or even tension," he warned.Beijing considers Taiwan, a self-governing island founded by China's defeated nationalists, and Tibet, a largely Buddhist territory where China sent troops in 1950, to be integral parts of the country.President Barack Obama, at a joint news conference with Hu on Wednesday, reaffirmed the US position that Taiwan and Tibet are part of China.But he also urged China to engage with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is widely popular in the United States, and recommitted the United States to helping Taiwan defend itself against China's growing military. The United States and its allies, particularly Japan, have repeatedly voiced concern about China's double-digit growth in defense spending. China tested a stealth fighter this month just as US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited. Hu dismissed worries, saying: "We do not engage in arms races or pose a military threat to any country. China will never seek hegemony or pursue an expansionist policy." However, much of Hu's speech was conciliatory. He urged cooperation between the world's largest developed and developing nations on issues from reviving the moribund Doha trade liberalization talks to fighting climate change. "China and the United States should pursue global cooperation as partners to fulfill common responsibilities and meet common challenges," Hu said. CLIP
As we say in Chinese, 'Why is this state dinner unlike any other?' (January 19, 2011) http://rothkopf.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/19/as_we_say_in_chinese_why_is_this_state_dinner_unlike_any_other
(...) there is something in this visit that compels a look backward to that first state visit of a foreign leader to Washington. Because this is the first time in the comparatively short history of such visits that any visiting leader has been seen by a substantial number of Americans as representing a rising power that might soon eclipse the United States.Even during the visits of Soviet leaders who were seen to be at the helm of the world's other superpower, there was always a perception among Americans that we were the ones with history on our side and also that should it come to conflict that either we would win or that both sides would lose. Further they were never seen as a real economic rival. But look at recent polling data. A Pew Study released last week showed that almost half of all Americans see China as already being the world's leading economic power while fewer than a third of Americans see the United States in that role. An Allstate/Heartland survey last month showed the same thing and also suggested that at least as many Americans feel China will be the leader in 20 years as believe the United States will rebound.While the United States has felt this kind of economic insecurity before (in the late 1980s similar polls showed a majority of Americans thinking Japan had supplanted the United States as the economic leader), China is also seen as a paramount security threat. A CNN/Opinion research poll conducted two months ago showed half of the United States thinking that China is an economic and military superpower and almost six out of ten seeing Beijing's rise as a threat to the United States. These threat perception numbers have shot up during the past decade, more than doubling since 1997.As such, Hu's visit is quite unlike any other in U.S. history. As Americans watch reports of the state dinner and his meetings with President Obama, they will be wondering whether he represents the future and whether, for the first time in the history of such visits to the United States, the host country will not be the country with the tides of history flowing in its favor. CLIP
Think Again: American Decline - This time it's for real (JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011) http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/02/think_again_american_decline
This time it's different. It's certainly true that America has been through cycles of declinism in the past. Campaigning for the presidency in 1960, John F. Kennedy complained, "American strength relative to that of the Soviet Union has been slipping, and communism has been advancing steadily in every area of the world." Ezra Vogel's Japan as Number One was published in 1979, heralding a decade of steadily rising paranoia about Japanese manufacturing techniques and trade policies. In the end, of course, the Soviet and Japanese threats to American supremacy proved chimerical. So Americans can be forgiven if they greet talk of a new challenge from China as just another case of the boy who cried wolf. But a frequently overlooked fact about that fable is that the boy was eventually proved right. The wolf did arrive -- and China is the wolf. The Chinese challenge to the United States is more serious for both economic and demographic reasons. The Soviet Union collapsed because its economic system was highly inefficient, a fatal flaw that was disguised for a long time because the USSR never attempted to compete on world markets. China, by contrast, has proved its economic prowess on the global stage. Its economy has been growing at 9 to 10 percent a year, on average, for roughly three decades. It is now the world's leading exporter and its biggest manufacturer, and it is sitting on more than $2.5 trillion of foreign reserves. Chinese goods compete all over the world. This is no Soviet-style economic basket case. Japan, of course, also experienced many years of rapid economic growth and is still an export powerhouse. But it was never a plausible candidate to be No. 1. The Japanese population is less than half that of the United States, which means that the average Japanese person would have to be more than twice as rich as the average American before Japan's economy surpassed America's. That was never going to happen. By contrast, China's population is more than four times that of the United States. The famous projection by Goldman Sachs that China's economy will be bigger than that of the United States by 2027 was made before the 2008 economic crash. At the current pace, China could be No. 1 well before then.China's economic prowess is already allowing Beijing to challenge American influence all over the world. The Chinese are the preferred partners of many African governments and the biggest trading partner of other emerging powers, such as Brazil and South Africa. China is also stepping in to buy the bonds of financially strapped members of the eurozone, such as Greece and Portugal. And China is only the largest part of a bigger story about the rise of new economic and political players. America's traditional allies in Europe -- Britain, France, Italy, even Germany -- are slipping down the economic ranks. New powers are on the rise: India, Brazil, Turkey. They each have their own foreign-policy preferences, which collectively constrain America's ability to shape the world. Think of how India and Brazil sided with China at the global climate-change talks. Or the votes by Turkey and Brazil against America at the United Nations on sanctions against Iran. That is just a taste of things to come. CLIP
Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks (16 January 2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/16/swiss-whistleblower-rudolf-elmer-banks
He will disclose the details of 'massive potential tax evasion' before he flies home to stand trial over his actions -- The offshore bank account details of 2,000 "high net worth individuals" and corporations detailing massive potential tax evasion will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland. British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, "approximately 40 politicians". Elmer, who after his press conference will return to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius to face trial, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information. He is also at a time when the activities of banks are a matter of public concern one of a small band of employees and executives seeking to blow the whistle on what they see as unprofessional, immoral and even potentially criminal activity by powerful international financial institutions. Along with the City of London and Wall Street, Switzerland is a fortress of banking and financial services, but famously secretive and expert in the concealment of wealth from all over the world for tax evasion and other extra-legal purposes. Elmer says he is releasing the information "in order to educate society". The list includes "high net worth individuals", multinational conglomerates and financial institutions hedge funds". They are said to be "using secrecy as a screen to hide behind in order to avoid paying tax". They come from the US, Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia "from all over". Clients include "business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates from both sides of the Atlantic". Elmer says: "Well-known pillars of society will hold investment portfolios and may include houses, trading companies, artwork, yachts, jewellery, horses, and so on." "What I am objecting to is not one particular bank, but a system of structures," he told the Observer. "I have worked for major banks other than Julius Baer, and the one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes, and other things such as money-laundering although these cases involve tax evasion." CLIP -CHECK ALSO WikiLeaks Likely to Disclose Info from Baer Banker - "WikiLeaks and Rudolf Elmer, a former Julius Baer executive, said on Monday that the website plans to publish information on about 2,000 clients, including about 40 prominent people, who may have evaded taxes. WikiLeaks said that it is verifying the information and plans to publish it in about two weeks." - WikiLeaks unlikely to release Swiss bank data soon - "WikiLeaks is unlikely anytime soon to make public material provided to it this week by Swiss bank whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and sources close to Elmer." - High Tide: From A Bribery Act Review Row To A Julius Baer WikiLeak (JANUARY 18, 2011) "A roundup of corruption-related news from Dow Jones and other sources."
Former banker hands big names to WikiLeaks (18 January, 2011) http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/switzerland/former-banker-hands-big-names-to-wikileaks.shtml?22701
Swiss whistleblower and former Julius Bär banker Rudolf Elmer has handed over two CDs to the website WikiLeaks, before returning home to Switzerland to stand trial on Wednesday. Elmer says the discs contain information on prominent politicians, celebrities and companies which hide money in Swiss banks. Our UK correspondent Nina-Marie Potts was at the packed press conference in London, where Elmer disappointed the media throng by not naming names.
WikiLeaks demands Google and Facebook unseal US subpoenas (8 January 2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/08/wikileaks-calls-google-facebook-us-subpoenas
Call comes after revelation that US has tried to force Twitter to release WikiLeaks members' private details -- WikiLeaks has demanded that Google and Facebook reveal the contents of any US subpoenas they may have received after it emerged that a court in Virginia had ordered Twitter to secretly hand over details of accounts on the micro-blogging site by five figures associated with the group, including Julian Assange.Amid strong evidence that a US grand jury has begun a wide-ranging trawl for details of what networks and accounts WikiLeaks used to communicate with Bradley Manning, the US serviceman accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of sensitive government cables, some of those named in the subpoena said they would fight disclosure."Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into WikiLeaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain," WikiLeaks said in a statement. CLIP
WikiFailed States: What the cables reveal about the worlds toughest place (DECEMBER 14, 2010) http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/13/wikifailed?wpisrc=obinsite
By now, you've read the WikiLeaked headlines, illuminating the inner workings of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, or detailing the intractable regimes in Iran and North Korea. But what does Cablegate have to say about the world's forgotten conflicts -- the dimmer outposts of U.S. influence where Washington arguably has even bigger messes to confront? FP went through the archives with an eye to our 2010 Failed States issue to see what light the cables shed on these benighted places -- and whether the cables themselves may disrupt the often delicate balancing act of diplomacy. Here's what we found going down the rankings: CLIP
Is WikiLeaks a Force For Good? Four Experts on Our Wiki-Future (Dec 13, 2010) ) http://www.youtube.com/user/ReasonTV#p/u/24/ux06SSzcLJk
Is WikiLeaks a force for good, allowing journalists and ordinary citizens a glimpse at what diplomats and politicians are doing in our name? Or could the latest Wikileaks information dump be a net negative for open government advocates, resulting in tighter classification of future documents? Reason.tv sat down with four experts on national security and government transparencyAaron David Miller, a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Eli Lake, National Security Correspondent at the Washington Times, Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, and Heather Hurlburt, Executive Director of the National Security Networkand asked if our Wikifuture is something to celebrate or lament.
Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused of torture (January 14, 2011) http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22802
A US rights group has filed a lawsuit charging former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with involvement in torturing former prisoners in American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) catapulted the torture case into prominence on Thursday after it lodged an appeal to a court in the District of Columbia, alleging that Rumsfeld and some senior US military officials were quite aware of a torture case involving nine detainees between 2002 and 2004 in American prisons in the two countries, AFP reported. The case initially was brought forth in December 2006, but later on was withdrawn by a federal court in March 2007 on the grounds that the ex-defense secretary and other top American military officials were immune from prosecution. The US-based human rights group stated that under the Constitution and international law, torture is strictly prohibited and commanders are obliged to act when they know or should have known of such abuses. The ACLU argued that the 78-year-old Rumsfeld and other military officials were repeatedly notified of abuse and torture at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan by the International Red Cross and other reports as well as complaints by human rights organizations, thus they are directly responsible for the abuses. The group further touched upon a case involving a prisoner identified as Ali. V, adding that prisoners, who were later released without charge, "were beaten, tortured, and sexually abused." Meanwhile, three judges at an appeals court in the District of Columbia said the case has a little chance to succeed. CLIP
Sick Gulf Residents Beg Officials for Help http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22799
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Jan 14, 2011 (IPS) - In an emotionally charged meeting this week sponsored by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, fishermen, Gulf residents and community leaders vented their increasingly grave concerns about the widespread health issues brought on by the three-month-long disaster.
(...) Dr. Rodney Soto, a medical doctor in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has been testing and treating patients with high levels of oil-related chemicals in their bloodstream. These are commonly referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Anthropogenic VOCs from BP's oil disaster are toxic and have negative chronic health effects. Dr. Soto is finding disconcertingly consistent and high levels of toxic chemicals in every one of the patients he is testing. "I'm regularly finding between five and seven VOCs in my patients," Dr. Soto told IPS. "These patients include people not directly involved in the oil clean-up, as well as residents that do not live right on the coast. These are clearly related to the oil disaster." Nevertheless, U.S. government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with President Obama himself, have declared the Gulf of Mexico, its waters, beaches, and seafood, safe and open to the public. Gulf residents at the meeting on Wednesday made sure the two commissioners were aware of the health crisis they are facing. Tom Costanza of Catholic Charities in the New Orleans area stated that the region is in the middle of a social service crisis and faced a claims process he said is fraught with problems. "People call me crying and dying," he said. "They need medical attention and support to get through this."
(...) "Over and over, people exposed to crude and dispersants from the drilling disaster told stories of serious health issues - from high levels of ethylbenzyne in their blood, to respiratory ailments and internal bleeding - and expressed an urgent need for access to doctors who have experience treating chemical exposure," she said. Stephen Bradberry, executive director of the Alliance Institute, a non-profit that provides community organising support in the Gulf South, worries that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is not accepting health claims, thus leaving sick residents unable to work and without any income to pay their medical bills. "There is bruising and skin lesions, not just with clean-up workers, these are residents not involved in the clean-up," Bradberry told IPS. "Just yesterday I learned of five people on Grand Isle who passed away people who did not have health problems prior to this. Nevertheless, there has not been any talk of monitoring of these communities." Bradberry, who also attended the forum on Wednesday, also said, "We need a separate health task force that can focus solely on testing, monitoring, and studying the long-term health issues from exposure to crude and dispersants. And this needs to happen now."
Poverty soars as millions of Americans head to food banks (January 13, 2011) http://www.NaturalNews.com/030997_poverty_food_banks.html
(NaturalNews) Those who insist the "recession" is over might want to tell that to the nearly 50 million people, and growing, in the U.S. that are now considered to be "food insecure," or unable to provide food for themselves and their families. According to Chaz Valenza, a New Jersey-based writer and small business owner, thousands of Americans that were once considered middle and even upper-middle class are now entering the ranks of the poor and hungry. For many, job losses and perpetual unemployment landed them in line at the local food bank. But for a surprising many others, inflation and the many sectors of life that are affected by it drove their otherwise stable middle class incomes into the category of poverty. And based on the way it looks, things are only going to get progressively worse for many more Americans if things do not change. Valenza explains in his article that while America's poverty crisis is nowhere close to various third-world countries where people live on mere cents a day, the trend towards poverty in the U.S. is on the rise in a way that would shock most people. Many folks who work the same amounts or even more than middle class people did just a few decades ago, for instance, are barely making ends meet today. And except for those who are financially independent, even some of the wealthiest among us are only a paycheck or two away from the bread line. CLIP
Home price drops exceed Great Depression: Zillow (Jan 11, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70961E20110111
(Reuters) - Home prices fell for the 53rd consecutive month in November, taking the decline past that of the Great Depression for the first time in the prolonged housing slump, according to Zillow.Home prices have fallen 26 percent since their peak in 2006, exceeding the 25.9 percent drop registered in the five years between 1928 and 1933, the housing data company said in a report on Monday. Prices fell 0.8 percent over the month.It is a dubious milestone for the U.S. housing market which has failed to gain much traction despite a host of government programs to reduce delinquencies and encourage demand with temporary tax credits and lower interest rates. Many economists expect further price drops, even if there are some anecdotal signs of growing demand, such as in pending home sales data. For the next six to nine months, the larger factors affecting the housing market that will produce more home price declines will be the excess inventory of homes, high negative equity and foreclosure rates, and weakened demand due to elevated employment, Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist, said in a blog post. Declines are accelerating, and it will take a while before falling unemployment and other signs of economic improvement support the market, Zillow said. Home prices fell at a 0.78 percent pace in November, the fastest since February 2009, the company said.
The Foreclosure Dump (13 Jan 2011) http://www.cnbc.com/id/41059824/
It's coming, no question.Today's report from RealtyTrac serves as a warning to big banks, Fannie, Freddie and local communities; The foreclosure glut is coming, and they'd better be ready to get rid of that glut in a big way. 2010 saw a record number of bank repossessions, over a million, even with a big drop in volume toward the end of the year, thanks to the robo-signing scandal and ensuing foreclosure freezes."Early indications in January were that this robo-signing related delay will be over by the end of first quarter if not sooner," says RealtyTrac's Rick Sharga. "I think we're going to see a significant spike in foreclosure activity early in 2011, and that will contribute in part to 2011 being a record year." Sharga estimates as many as a quarter of a million foreclosures that should have happened in 2010 will now be pushed into the 2011 numbers, and added to an already huge supply of bank owned properties. The four biggest banks already have close to $7 billion worth of foreclosed properties (REO) on their books, and Fannie and Freddie have about $24 billion collectively. While REO sales make up about one third of all sales in the current market, there is an estimated 3 year supply. CLIP
America has 'reached the point of no return,' Reagan budget director warns (January 10th, 2011) http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/america-has-reached-the-point-of-no-return-reagan-budget-director-warns/
The Obama administration's $78 billion cut to US defense spending [OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS!] is a mere "pin-prick" to a behemoth military-industrial complex that must drastically shrink for the good of the republic, a former Reagan administration budget director recently told Raw Story."It amounts to a failed opportunity to recognize that we are now at a historical inflection point at which the time has arrived for a classic post-war demobilization of the entire military establishment," David Stockman said in an exclusive interview."The Cold War is long over," he continued. "The wars of occupation are almost over and were complete failures -- Afghanistan and Iraq. The American empire is done. There are no real seriously armed enemies left in the world that can possibly justify an $800 billion national defense and security establishment, including Homeland Security."Short of that, he suggested, the United States has "reached the point of no return" with its artificial creation of wealth, and will eventually face a sharp economic decline. Stockman last fall criticized the extension of the Bush tax cuts while the federal government continued to borrow money abroad to pay for its public welfare and warfare programs. His solution to deficit spending -- a huge across-the-board tax increase -- is contrary to the current anti-tax ideology shared among tea party activists as well as fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party. Stockman, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to run the Office of Management and Budget, offered two models for the US military's compulsory demobilization: the one after World War I in 1920 and the one after World War II in 1946. Calling today's military spending running at 5.4 percent of GDP "simply an absurd level that begs for radical contraction and surgery," he said that a "reasonable target" to shrink the defense establishment would be 3 percent of GDP by 2015. CLIP
Pentagon burns bio-fuels to secure fossil fuels; more of both come from Africa (January 15, 2011) http://sfbayview.com/2011/pentagon-burns-bio-fuels-to-secure-fossil-fuels-more-of-both-come-from-africa/
Walnut Creek, Calif.- based Eco-Fuel Global is a world leader in the new biofuels industry. Opponents of its biofuels planting projects, in Africa and other parts of the global South, argue that cropland should be used to grow food to feed people, not to grow more combustible fuel, and that its jatropha biofuel crop is highly toxic.KPFA Radio News recently aired this report on the Pentagon's consumption of both fossil fuels and biofuels - and Africa as a source of both: The U.S. military uses far more fuel than any branch of the American government, and the U.S. Air Force uses far more fuel than its other branches. On Dec. 20, Defense Industry Daily, a trade publication reporting military purchasing news for defense procurement managers and contractors, reported that the Defense Logistics Agency had issued over $1.5 billion worth of fuel contracts this month. Africa peace and social justice activists say that more and more of the fuel consumed by the U.S. military, and by other U.S. consumers, comes from Africa. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.Ann Garrison, KPFA: The Defense Logistics Agency typically issues large sets of fuel contracts over concentrated periods during the year, but continues to issue fuel contracts all year long. Defense fuel purchases are typically frenzied during the month of March. In March 2009, DLA fuel contracts totaled $5.5 billion. Last month, as of Dec. 20, the agency had issued over $1.5 billion in fuel contracts.Africa activists have pointed out that more and more of the fuel consumed by the U.S. military and other American consumers comes from Africa and that Africa has surpassed the Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports. CLIP
Eisenhower's Neglected Warning (January 16, 2011) http://www.consortiumnews.com/2011/011611b.html
On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his prophetic warning about the military-industrial complex, anticipating the increased political, economic, military and even cultural influence of the Pentagon and its allies. Several weeks earlier, he had privately told his senior advisers in the Oval Office, "God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn't know the military as well as I do."His concern about the growth of the military-industrial complex was also not new for Eisenhower. Several months after his inauguration in 1953, he warned against warfare that had "humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
(...) Although the Cold War ended two decades ago with the collapse of the Soviet Union, recent presidents have found no way out of increased military deployments and expenditures, nor have they challenged the national security influence of the military. No president since Eisenhower has genuinely understood the dangers of the Pentagon's increasing influence over our national security policy.
(...) The twin military setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, where failed counterinsurgency strategies have cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives, should lead to a serious national security debate to prevent the mistakes of the past two decades.Such a debate should include subjects that aren't susceptible to a military solution, such as nationalism, religious fundamentalism, ethnic violence and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan immediately come to mind. Currently, Obama must deal with a military that wields far too much influence on Capitol Hill and within the intelligence community, controls too much of the U.S. economy and has the leading policy voice on security issues. Our economy will continue to suffer if we don't reduce the rising costs of defense ($800 billion), intelligence ($80 billion), and homeland security ($45 billion) in order to make essential investments in education, transportation, and research and development. In his first two years as president, Obama too often catered to the interests of the military. Now he must begin the task of demilitarizing U.S. national security policy. In doing so, he would do well to heed the philosophy and advice of Eisenhower, who stood alone in countering America's infatuation with military power.
How One Paragraph in a Single Speech Has Skewed the Eisenhower Record (19 January 2011) http://www.truth-out.org/how-one-paragraph-a-single-speech-has-skewed-eisenhower-record66953
The fiftieth anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address and its famous warning about the military-industrial complex presents progressives with a dilemma. They can continue the popular trend of claiming Eisenhower as a prophetic voice against militarism and for peace. Or they can set aside that manufactured image and get Eisenhower straight: they can talk about him and his policies accurately, with analysis based on research straight from the original source documents, and straighten out the distorted image the peace movement has propagated for so long. But they cannot do both, since the image so directly contradicts the reality.It's not an easy choice. The fictional Eisenhower, supposedly dead-set against wasteful spending on military (especially nuclear) armaments, has been a powerfully effective poster boy for the peace movement. After all, how could the war hawks argue with a beloved Republican war hero? The image of Eisenhower as the "man of peace" is so useful that I almost hate to burst the bubble.On balance, though, I think that fiction does more harm than good. It distorts our picture of the early cold war years and prevents us from learning valuable lessons that an accurate history of that time can teach us. So, it's healthy to see a small debate about Eisenhower triggered by this anniversary because some of the contributors give us a more honest understanding of this president who has had such a huge lasting influence.And even if you've read the most accurate op-eds of the last few days, believe me, you haven't heard anywhere near the whole story. I offered the most accurate history I could in the three books I wrote on Eisenhower, who once summed up his philosophy when he told the British ambassador that he would "rather be atomized than communized." In writing those books, I saw over and over again how Eisenhower put his anticommunist ideology above human life.He maintained elaborate plans for fighting a nuclear war. Though he was never eager for that war, he was absolutely prepared to start it if he believed the Soviets were about to destroy the "free world" in any way. "Shoot your enemy before he shoots you," he told his advisers, and "hit 'em ... with everything in the bucket." He insisted that, with the right planning, the US could "pick itself up from the floor" and win the war as long as only 25 or 30 American cities got "shellacked" and nobody got too "hysterical."(You can read a detailed summary of what I learned about Eisenhower and nuclear weapons here.) CLIP
Sputnik Moment: Historic Meeting Between U.S. and China May Spur a Clean Energy Race (January 15, 2011) http://www.alternet.org/environment/149507/sputnik_moment%3A_historic_meeting_between_u.s._and_china_may_spur_a_clean_energy_race?page=entire
In China, a race toward self-reliance and clean energy technology is certainly on, but the U.S. still needs to make some key changes if it wants to compete. -- Next week, January 19 to 21, President Obama will host Chinese President Hu Jintao for their first bilateral summit this side of the Pacific. According to former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, this "will be the most important top-level United States-Chinese encounter since Deng Xiaoping's historic trip more than 30 years ago." While economic and military issues will be on the agenda, a key part of the meeting will be energy. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has suggested that a Sputnik-like race for clean energy between China and the U.S. may be emerging. If so, how can the U.S. get in the game, given the current political climate in the country? U.S.-China relations have been rocky over the past two years. At the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, China and the U.S. wound up at a standoff in the summit's final hours.Tensions hinge on who should take responsibility for the bulk of the emissions. The U.S. blames China, a growing economy and the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, while China blames the U.S., the largest emitter historically and the larger emitter on a per capita basis, by far.
(...) Wind power has also seen dramatic increases in China in the past five to six years. The wind industry has doubled in size each year since 2004. And as the New York Times reported just this week: "More than three times as much wind power capacity was installed in China last year than in the United States."Here, too, policy played a strong role. Greenpeace's Li Yan told AlterNet that "a law required that 70 percent of wind had to be manufactured domestically. This stipulation helped to create jobs and to boost China's wind power, which has overtaken other previous leaders, such as Denmark, Spain and Germany to take the number one spot."Challenges to China's wind economy remain. According to Li Yan, "If one talks about the installation capacity, China will probably be number one by the end of this year or next year, but if we talk about wind energy that has been connected, then we are still far behind." While installation occurs more quickly, connecting, according to Li Yan, remains slowed by the centralized state owned energy structure, which has created a bottleneck. Li Yan's concern pinpoints one of the potential pitfalls of the China's implementation strategies: strong policies at the central level do not always translate well into solid implementation at the regional level. In March, China will release the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015), which will set new renewable energy targets. The plan calls for deep cuts in energy-intensity and large subsidies to bring renewable energy and electric vehicles to scale. It includes both a cap and trade program and carbon taxes. And it requires utilities companies meet energy-saving targets and invest electricity revenues in renewable energy. Additionally, China has announced that it will produce a nation-wide greenhouse gas inventory by 2012 -- its first since 1994. Producing such an inventory of greenhouse gases requires a sophisticated ability to measure emissions from a variety of sources. While implementation remains a challenge, many of these targets are being met. For example, China's National Development and Reform Commission recently announced that it will meet its target of reducing total pollution by 10 percent from 2005 to 2010. Last year, the Chinese government ordered blackouts in many parts of China in order to meet another target to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent by 2010 from 2005 levels. Thus in China, a race toward self-reliance and clean energy technology is certainly on, even if it the Sputnik Moment race itself is a U.S. construct. Chu, like China, seems to be taking the long view of the environmental and economic situation. CLIP
5 Countries Are Merging As One Large Sovereign State http://www.newworldorderreport.com/News/tabid/266/ID/6610/5-Countries-Are-Merging-As-One-Large-Soveriegn-State.aspx
East African Federation is the name of the proposed political union of the member nations of the East African Community, such that the five member states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda) would federate into a single sovereign state. The union's currency is proposed to be the East African shilling, which is already slated to become the common currency of the 5 countries in 2012 or later. At 1,820,664 km, the East African Federation would be the fourth largest nation in Africa and sixteenth in the world. With a population of 127,139,000, it would also be the second most populous nation in Africa (after Nigeria) and eleventh in the world. The population density would be 70 people/km?. The GDP (PPP) by IMF estimate would be $131,772,000,000 USD and be the fourth largest in Africa and 55th in the world. The GDP per capita would be $1036 USD. The vernacular language would be Swahili and the official one would be English. The proposed capital is the Tanzanian city of Arusha, which is close to the Kenyan border. Arusha is the current headquarters of the East African Community. It has been suggested that the current East African Community may federate into a single state by 2013. In July 2010, the East African Federation launched the East African Common Market, with free movement between the member nations, a common currency by 2012, and merging into a single political federation by 2015.
Stuxnet virus attack: Russia warns of 'Iranian Chernobyl' (16 Jan 2011) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8262853/Stuxnet-virus-attack-Russia-warns-of-Iranian-Chernobyl.html
Russian nuclear scientists are providing technical assistance to Iran's attempts activate the country's first nuclear power plant at the Gulf port. But they have raised serious concerns about the extensive damage caused to the plant's computer systems by the mysterious Stuxnet virus, which was discovered last year and is widely believed to have been the result of a sophisticated joint US-Israeli cyber attack. According to Western intelligence reports, Russian scientists warned the Kremlin that they could be facing "another Chernobyl" if they were forced to comply with Iran's tight deadline to activate the complex this summer. After decades of delays over the plant, which was first commissioned by the Shah in the 1970s, Iran's leaders are demanding that scientists stick to the schedule set last year. They argue that any delay would be a blow to Iran's international prestige. Bushehr is due to produce its first electricity for Iran's national grid this summer after Russian technicians started loading the first nuclear rods into the reactor last October.CLIP
As Brazil floods death toll rises, so does the tide of local volunteers (January 16, 2011) http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2011/0116/As-Brazil-floods-death-toll-rises-so-does-the-tide-of-local-volunteers
The death toll from Brazil's most lethal floods in memory shot past 600 Sunday, and it's still rising as rescuers continue to dig through mudslides in the aftermath of last week's torrential rains. But amid the tragedy, the worst affected cities of Teresópolis, Nova Friburgo, and Petrópolis are experiencing a groundswell of spirited local volunteerism unusual for a country that sees lethal floods almost every year.Swarms of locals wearing makeshift signs reading "volunteer" helped survivors this weekend in one gymnasium-turned-flood-shelter in the hard-hit city of Teresópolis. (...) The Red Cross in Rio de Janeiro says it has already received 150 tons of non-perishables, hygiene products, mattresses, and blankets.Three hours after the state Health Ministry opened registration on Friday, some 131 health professionals in Rio de Janeiro registered to volunteer to care for flood victims, local media reported.The Rio-based daily O Dia highlighted the broad solidarity movement among volunteers arriving in the affected cities and grassroots fundraising efforts, calling the thousands of bloggers and social network users across the country promoting disaster relief as the "largest current ever seen."
Flame Retardants Found in Common Foods (1/12/2011) http://www.naturalhomemagazine.com/natural-health/flame-retardants-found-in-common-foods.aspx
The dangers of flame retardants are nothing new. At Natural Home, weve been advising readers for years to pick natural and organic textiles, furniture and mattresses and to avoid those treated with the toxic chemicals used to make products resistant to open flames. Flame retardants have been known to cause a number of health problems, including heart, liver and thyroid damage, as well as reproductive, developmental and neurological problems. Unfortunately, avoiding flame retardants may not be as easy as purchasing organic textiles and furniture. Many common foods contain traces of flame retardantsand some at alarming levels, according to a recent study. For the study, researchers tested ten samples from 31 distinct food groups, such as meat, fish and dairy products, for traces of two brominated flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). Butter topped the list of most contaminated foods, followed closely by canned sardines and fresh salmon. The lowest detected levels of flame retardants were found in vegetables and dairy products such as whole milk and yogurt.Although PBDEs were phased out in the early 2000s, brominated flame retardants build up in the body and the environment, storing up in fat tissues of animals and resisting being broken down in the environment. Its still a little unclear how the PBDEs end up in food products, but common theories include through contaminated animal feed and during product packaging and processing. CLIP
Fluocompactes: Nausées et autres problèmes de santé - une SUPER arnaque anti-écologique - un produit très nocif à éliminer de sa demeure! http://tinyurl.com/25ot8rw
Reportage de JE sur des problèmes cardiaques, respiratoires, oculaires, neurologiques et autres causés par des fluocompactes... Voir aussi Fluocompactes : sources délectropollution nocives pour les hypersensibles et Ampoules fluocompactes: danger? et y lire les commentaires. Ou si vous avec des sous à investir achetez des ampoules LED (diodes électroluminescentes) qui peuvent durer jusqu'à 25 ans (50,000 heures), mais celles à éclairage froid (de teinte bleutée) sont, semble-t-il, très mauvaises pour la vue (éblouissement et risques pour les personnes atteintes de certaines maladies oculaires - dégénérescence maculaire) et il ne faut donc acheter que celles à éclairage chaud (teinte jaune). Avis scientifique détaillé ICI
Électrosmog: la Suisse pionnière de la précaution http://www.21esiecle.qc.ca/électrosmog-la-suisse-pionnière-de-la-précaution
La Suisse a adopté des normes parmi les plus sévères dans le monde pour limiter l'exposition du grand public à la pollution électromagnétique.Elle limite par exemple à 10 milligauss (mG) ou 1 microtesla l'exposition du public aux champs magnétiques émis par les nouvelles lignes à haute tension alors que la norme appliquée par la plupart des pays est de 2 000 mG. Détails dans cette brochure de 56 pages que le gouvernement helvète a publiée en 2005.
Les boissons "light" et l'aspartame provoqueraient des naissances avant terme (12/01/2011) http://actu.orange.fr/societe/les-boissons-light-et-l-aspartame-provoqueraient-des-naissances-avant-terme_87576.html
Les édulcorants chimiques, souvent épinglés, provoqueraient des naissances avant terme chez les femmes, selon une étude danoise, tandis que des expériences menées sur des souris consommant ces produits concluent à un risque accru de cancer chez les mâles, selon deux études récentes dont les scientifiques du Réseau environnement santé (RES) se font l'écho. La consommation de ces édulcorants est énorme. Ainsi, l'aspartame, édulcorant le plus utilisé au monde (Canderel, Nutrasweet...), se retrouve dans plus de 6.000 produits, du chewing-gum aux boissons light, dont plus de 500 produits pharmaceutiques. Selon le RES, 200 millions de personnes en consommeraient "régulièrement".Chez les enfants et les femmes en âge de procréer, l'absorption quotidienne est estimée à 2,5 à 5 mg par kg de poids corporel. La dose journalière admissible établie par l'Autorité européenne de sécurité des aliments (EFSA) est de 40 mg/kg. Une étude, conduite par le Danois Thorhallur Halldorsson, publiée fin 2010 dans l'American journal of clinical nutrition, a étudié l'impact des boissons light ou sans sucre -c'est à dire contenant un édulcorant- sur près de 60.000 Danoises enceintes. CLIP - VOIR AUSSI Les soupçons sur laspartame relancés
Smart Meter Alert: Mold vs. Radiation? http://www.schoolmoldhelp.org/content/view/2140/65/
Thousands of schools across the nation have mold-related problems that impact the health of the students and staff. In addition, many schools have installed wireless technologies, such as WI-FI, that permeate the school environment, and some schools have had to remove these due to significant increases in health complaints and excessive absences. A new danger is emerging: the mandatory installation of Smart Meters by your local utility companies on all buildings receiving utilities in many of our states, including schools. These may have been touted as a means to save energy and green the planet. The Smart Meters emit high bursts of RF radiation reported to produce such health effects such as ringing ears, pressure in head, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, skin problems, blood from sinuses and coughing up blood, and cognitive (mental confusion, communication problems, and memory). A leading expert on this topic, Cindy Sage of Santa Barbara, CA, has explained that having a damp, moldy environment and RF emissions exposure compounds the problems. Sage's new study shows Smart Meters in CA are likely exceeding even the outdated FCC standards. Dr. Dan Harper, of Solana Beach, CA, has explained that many of his environmentally ill patients reported typical RF radiation emissions health effects following the installation of their Smart Meters. For more information watch an excellent presentation on YouTube, The Dark Side of Smart Meters. The Director of the Center for School Mold Help, Susan Brinchman, of La Mesa, CA, had a Smart Meter involuntarily installed by her gas and electric utility, SDG&E, on her bedroom wall 7 months ago, very close to the head of her bed. This has resulted in a significant increase in her environmental health problems. No warning was given by the utility and she had no idea that this was a potential danger until severe symptoms were experienced six months later. Her doctor demanded that the Smart Meter be removed in a letter to the utility, and SDG&E (local utility) declined the request, to date. Read about this terrible, ongoing experience on Smart meter alert | The Canary Report. CLIP
HOW TO LIMIT YOUR WIRELESS EXPOSURE http://www.willthomasonline.net/How_To_Limit_Your_Wireless_Expo.html
With something like 3 billion cell phones loose on this planet, and more than 2 million cell phone towers in the USA alone, resistance seems hopeless. Not! We can take heart from action being taken by governments are the globe to rein in this malignant technology. A few examples:-- Israel has banned all advertising for home wireless routers.-- New Zealand prohibits cell phone towers on school yards. -- Germany is considering banning all portable phones that have "always on" base stations. -- Russia wants all children under 18 kept away from microwave exposure. -- Britain says children under 12 should have no microwave radiation exposure at all.
-- In Luxembourg, an administrative court has upheld a lower court ruling in favour of a couple after a company installed six cell phone transmitters 270 meters from their home. In its ruling, the court referred to the Precautionary Principle. The court pointed out an error in calculation regarding the permitted threshold of exposure to electromagnetic radiation calls into question the present limits. -- After a study on mobile phone use and Wi-Fi radiation, France is shutting down all cell phone use in its elementary schools, due to health concerns. Currently cell phone use is permitted on elementary school grounds, but not in classrooms. The new mandate will shut down their use completely. A ban on cell phones in public libraries is next. The French Government is also considering prohibiting cell phone use by all children 14 and under. -- The European Parliament has written to its 27 member countries urging them to ignore WHO guidelines and set exposure limits at lower levels. Don't play into "overwhelm" by trying to deal with worldwide wireless. Act locally! First, suggests cell phone author and activist Amy Worthington, establish and own your priorities. Make the choice for robust health, improved mental function and personal space. Explain to others that you are rejecting wireless devices because you regard premature aging, memory-vision-hearing loss, genetic damage and cancer as inconvenient. [The Radiation Poisoning Of America] If you absolutely must use cell or cordless phones, keep them off your body and in speaker mode only for one or two one-minute essential calls every month. Refuse to allow any identification or communication device to be implanted in your body. Defending your personal sovereignty means cleaning up "electrosmog" from your personal space. Remove all wireless routers, portable phones, cell phones and other wireless gadgets from your home. Say "Nix, nope, nyet, forget it already" to Smart Meters. Avoid airport scanners by not flying. CLIP
EMF-Omega-News 15. January 2011 http://www.buergerwelle.de/cms/content/view/540/70/
Birds, Bees, Fish, Crabs Dying: Are We Really Prepared For A Monumental Disaster? - Why not radiate the horse farms? Harm the population? - Are cell phones safe to use? - Protecting Parks, Green Spaces and Children from Cell Towers - People power must take on cell phone antennas - Campaigners' anger at mast go-ahead - Leeds residents in mast victory row - Bexleyheath: Parents concern over Vodafone and O2 phone mast appeal - Parents voice concerns over possible Wi-Fi installation at city school - Mobile phone tower fight at Katoomba - 2 women arrested at SmartMeter protest in Rohnert Park - Residents gather petition against 'insensitive' phone mast plans - Meadow Vista man airs microwave concerns to Placer supes - WiFi in area schools gets passing grade - 'Hazard' mast plan given the go-ahead in spite of fears - iBurst takes down controversial Fourways tower - Joy as mast plan pulled - TfL mast campaigner wins appeal over his email tirade at 'corrupt' Boris Johnson - Next-up News - News from Mast Sanity
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NOTE from Jean: World renowned expert Lester Brown paints a bleak picture of a world fast stripping away Nature's ability to feed our bulging population. Hence a harsh breaking point is right around the corner... Drastic measures will be inevitable to save ourselves from ourselves... Such as going vegan, doing away with our excessive dependence on fossil fuels and putting an end to the folly of food-based ethanol and diesel production areal no-brainer! , not to mention all environmentally unsustainable practices and much of our profligate lifestyle... The good news is that once we have matured enough and I trust we shall do so soon! intellectually, emotionally and spiritually to tackle head-on relentlessly! the global threats at hand, a bright future of infinite possibilities will unfold for all sentient life on Earth.
The Great Food Crisis of 2011: It's real, and it's not going away anytime soon.
By Lester Brown, Foreign Policy, Thursday, January 10, 2011
As the new year begins, the price of wheat is setting an all-time high in the United Kingdom. Food riots are spreading across Algeria. Russia is importing grain to sustain its cattle herds until spring grazing begins.
India is wrestling with an 18% annual food inflation rate, sparking protests. China is looking abroad for potentially massive quantities of wheat and corn. The Mexican government is buying corn futures to avoid unmanageable tortilla price rises.
And on January 5, the U.N. Food and Agricultural organization announced that its food price index for December hit an all-time high.
But whereas in years past, it's been weather that has caused a spike in commodities prices, now it's trends on both sides of the food supply/demand equation that are driving up prices. On the demand side, the culprits are population growth, rising affluence, and the use of grain to fuel cars.
On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and -- due to climate change -- crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future.
There's at least a glimmer of good news on the demand side: World population growth, which peaked at 2% per year around 1970, dropped below 1.2% per year in 2010. But because the world population has nearly doubled since 1970, we are still adding 80 million people each year.
Tonight, there will be 219,000 additional mouths to feed at the dinner table, and many of them will be greeted with empty plates. Another 219,000 will join us tomorrow night. At some point, this relentless growth begins to tax both the skills of farmers and the limits of the Earth's land and water resources.
Beyond population growth, there are now some 3 billion people moving up the food chain, eating greater quantities of grain-intensive livestock and poultry products. The rise in meat, milk, and egg consumption in fast-growing developing countries has no precedent. Total meat consumption in China today is already nearly double that in the United States.
The third major source of demand growth is the use of crops to produce fuel for cars. In the United States, which harvested 416 million tons of grain in 2009, 119 million tons went to ethanol distilleries to produce fuel for cars. That's enough to feed 350 million people for a year.
The massive U.S. investment in ethanol distilleries sets the stage for direct competition between cars and people for the world grain harvest. In Europe, where much of the auto fleet runs on diesel fuel, there is growing demand for plant-based diesel oil, principally from rapeseed and palm oil.
This demand for oil-bearing crops is not only reducing the land available to produce food crops in Europe, it is also driving the clearing of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia for palm oil plantations.
The combined effect of these three growing demands is stunning: a doubling in the annual growth in world grain consumption from an average of 21 million tons per year in 1990-2005 to 41 million tons per year in
Most of this huge jump is attributable to the orgy of investment in ethanol distilleries in the United States in 2006-2008. While the annual demand growth for grain was doubling, new constraints were emerging on the supply side, even as longstanding ones such as soil erosion intensified.
An estimated one third of the world's cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming through natural processes -- and thus is losing its inherent productivity. Two huge dust bowls are forming, one across northwest China, western Mongolia, and central Asia; the other in central Africa.
Each of these dwarfs the U.S. dust bowl of the 1930s. Satellite images show a steady flow of dust storms leaving these regions, each one typically carrying millions of tons of precious topsoil. In North China, some 24,000 rural villages have been abandoned or partly depopulated as grasslands have been destroyed by overgrazing and as croplands have been inundated by migrating sand dunes.
In countries with severe soil erosion, such as Mongolia and Lesotho, grain harvests are shrinking as erosion lowers yields and eventually leads to cropland abandonment. The result is spreading hunger and growing dependence on imports. Haiti and North Korea, two countries with severely eroded soils, are chronically dependent on food aid from abroad.
Meanwhile aquifer depletion is fast shrinking the amount of irrigated area in many parts of the world; this relatively recent phenomenon is driven by the large-scale use of mechanical pumps to exploit underground water. Today, half the world's people live in countries where water tables are falling as overpumping depletes aquifers.
Once an aquifer is depleted, pumping is necessarily reduced to the rate of recharge unless it is a fossil (nonreplenishable) aquifer, in which case pumping ends altogether. But sooner or later, falling water tables translate into rising food prices.
Irrigated area is shrinking in the Middle East, notably in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and possibly Yemen. In Saudi Arabia, which was totally dependent on a now-depleted fossil aquifer for its wheat self-sufficiency, production is in a freefall. From 2007 to 2010, Saudi wheat production fell by more than two thirds. By 2012, wheat production will likely end entirely, leaving the country totally dependent on imported grain.
The Arab Middle East is the first geographic region where spreading water shortages are shrinking the grain harvest. But the really big water deficits are in India, where the World Bank numbers indicate that
175 million people are being fed with grain that is produced by overpumping.
In China, overpumping provides food for some 130 million people. In the United States, the world's other leading grain producer, irrigated area is shrinking in key agricultural states such as California and Texas.
The last decade has witnessed the emergence of yet another constraint on growth in global agricultural productivity: the shrinking backlog of untapped technologies. In some agriculturally advanced countries, farmers are using all available technologies to raise yields.
In Japan, the first country to see a sustained rise in grain yield per acre, rice yields have been flat now for 14 years. Rice yields in South Korea and China are now approaching those in Japan.
Assuming that farmers in these two countries will face the same constraints as those in Japan, more than a third of the world rice harvest will soon be produced in countries with little potential for further raising rice yields.
A similar situation is emerging with wheat yields in Europe. In France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, wheat yields are no longer rising at all. These three countries together account for roughly one-eighth of the world wheat harvest. Another trend slowing the growth in the world grain harvest is the conversion of cropland to nonfarm uses.
Suburban sprawl, industrial construction, and the paving of land for roads, highways, and parking lots are claiming cropland in the Central Valley of California, the Nile River basin in Egypt, and in densely populated countries that are rapidly industrializing, such as China and India.
In 2011, new car sales in China are projected to reach 20 million -- a record for any country. The U.S. rule of thumb is that for every 5 million cars added to a country's fleet, roughly 1 million acres must be paved to accommodate them. And cropland is often the loser.
Fast-growing cities are also competing with farmers for irrigation water. In areas where all water is being spoken for, such as most countries in the Middle East, northern China, the southwestern United States, and most of India, diverting water to cities means less irrigation water available for food production.
California has lost perhaps a million acres of irrigated land in recent years as farmers have sold huge amounts of water to the thirsty millions in Los Angeles and San Diego.
The rising temperature is also making it more difficult to expand the world grain harvest fast enough to keep up with the record pace of demand. Crop ecologists have their own rule of thumb: For each 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum during the growing season, we can expect a 10% decline in grain yields.
This temperature effect on yields was all too visible in western Russia during the summer of 2010 as the harvest was decimated when temperatures soared far above the norm.
Another emerging trend that threatens food security is the melting of mountain glaciers. This is of particular concern in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau, where the ice melt from glaciers helps sustain not only the major rivers of Asia during the dry season, such as the Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers, but also the irrigation systems dependent on these rivers. Without this ice melt, the grain harvest would drop precipitously and prices would rise accordingly.
And finally, over the longer term, melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica, combined with thermal expansion of the oceans, threaten to raise the sea level by up to six feet during this century. Even a three-foot rise would inundate half of the riceland in Bangladesh.
It would also put under water much of the Mekong Delta that produces half the rice in Vietnam, the world's number two rice exporter. Altogether there are some 19 other rice-growing river deltas in Asia where harvests would be substantially reduced by a rising sea level.
The current surge in world grain and soybean prices, and in food prices more broadly, is not a temporary phenomenon. We can no longer expect that things will soon return to normal, because in a world with a rapidly changing climate system there is no norm to return to.
The unrest of these past few weeks is just the beginning. It is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices -- and the political turmoil this would lead to -- that threatens our global future.
Unless governments quickly redefine security and shift expenditures from military uses to investing in climate change mitigation, water efficiency, soil conservation, and population stabilization, the world will in all likelihood be facing a future with both more climate instability and food price volatility. If business as usual continues, food prices will only trend upward.
Food skyrockets to highest prices ever (January 10, 2011) http://www.naturalnews.com/030961_food_prices_inflation.html
(NaturalNews) Figures recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) index of 55 food commodities indicates that worldwide food prices hit a record high in December. Though the costs of some food commodities like rice, corn and soy actually decreased, oil seeds and sugar jumped significantly due to various factors including erratic weather and droughts, according to reports.In the past, such ups and downs on the commodity market did not immediately affect actual food costs for consumers, but some experts say that this is no longer the case, and that "food inflation" will occur right alongside the commodity price gains. And rapid food inflation has already taken place in India, for example, with recent reports indicating that the country experienced an overall food inflation rate of 18 percent in 2010. Low food stocks, droughts and poor weather conditions have all contributed to the escalating food crisis, which has led many nations to cut off exports in order to save supplies for their own populations. And the resulting global shortages only exacerbate the problem further as importing nations scramble to source needed commodities for their own populations. CLIP
Meat producers should replace cattle with insects, scientists say (January 10, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0109-morgan_insect_meat.html
Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that insects produce significantly less greenhouse gas per kilogram of meat than cattle or pigs. Their study, published in the online journal PLoS One, suggests that a move towards insect farming could result in a more sustainable - and affordable - form of meat production. The rearing of cattle and pigs for meat production results in an estimated 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. With worldwide consumption of beef and pork expected to double by 2020, alternatives are being investigated. Of these, perhaps the most notable has been the development of "in-vitro meat" which is lab-grown tissue not requiring the production of a whole organism. Initiated by NASA as a form of astronaut food, in-vitro meat production took its first steps in 2000 when scientists used goldfish cells to grow edible protein resembling fish fillets. Since then, turkey and pig cells have been used to create spam-like substances, and Time Magazine has included in-vitro meat in its list of the top 50 breakthrough ideas of 2009. In addition to the environmental impact of current meat production techniques, scientists believe that the inevitable increase in price as population-driven demand grows will ultimately result in traditional meat products becoming unavailable to many people around the world. This cockroach has a high feed conversion efficiency, but isn't recommended as a food source by the researchers. Photo taken in Sabah, Malaysia by Jeremy Hance. However, if the idea of eating meat grown in a lab doesn't appeal to you, there is another option. Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands looked at mealworms, house crickets, migratory locusts, sun beetles, and Dubia cockroaches, and for the first time quantified the amounts of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) released per kilogram of insect meat. They found that the amounts of gases released by insects to be much smaller than those released by cattle and pigs. For instance, mealworms produce between ten and a hundred times less greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram than do pigs. Ammonia levels also declined significantly. CLIP
Can Individual Action Save the Planet? (January 15, 2011) http://www.consortiumnews.com/2011/011511a.html
Editor's Note: Among the looming crises that the new Republican-dominated U.S. Congress is sure not to address is global warming. After all, to tackle this existential threat to mankind would violate Ronald Reagan's beloved dictum, "government is the problem." So, government inaction and corporate greed will mean that the industries of America and other nations will keep pumping tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leaving the hope of saving the planet in the hands of the rest of us, says Don Monkerud...
Recent figures indicate that 2010 tied 2005 as the hottest year on record. Indeed, nine of the ten warmest years occurred since 2001 as climate chaos creates havoc around the world. Last year, frigid snowstorms blanketed the U.S. and Europe, floods ravaged Pakistan, Australia and the U.S., and scorching heat led to forest fires and deaths in Russia as humans continue to dump carbon dioxide into the air. The resulting climate chaos bodes ill for the food supply. The most recent projections indicate this will likely be the worst year since 2008 for grains. Corn stocks will likely be at the lowest supply since 1995, and soybeans will be at their lowest levels since becoming a major crop in the U.S.Observers predict food riots over higher prices around the world, similar to those in 2008. Such developments will increase world hunger. According to the UN, 925 million people around the world go hungry every day. A third of these live in sub-Saharan Africa. Meager agricultural investments haven't helped; they've fallen from 16 percent of total development investment in 1980 to four percent today.
(...) Current agri-business practices are tremendously destructive of soil, use large amounts of fossil fuel in production and distribution, poison the land and water with fertilizer and insecticides, contribute to species destruction, and ultimately augment climate change. More than 33 percent of global greenhouse emissions can be traced to current food production practices. Moreover, the Green Revolution focused on staples of rice, corn, cassava and wheat, which do little for the one billion people in Africa who have nutrient deficiencies. Worldwatch looked at alternatives to agribusiness practices and found abundant examples in Africa. Some 530,000 farmers use green manure, crop rotation, composting and biological pest control to grow organic produce. Over 417,000 farmers mix trees and shrubs with croplands and pasture to absorb nutrients, recycle water, promote wildlife and moderate microclimates. Some 350,000 families practice zero or minimal tillage, permanent soil cover, and topsoil management to increase food production by 30 to 100 percent.
(...) Americans can learn from methods that promote biodiversity, work within natural limits, target root problems, improve soil quality, and lead to sustainable solutions.It's an uphill battle against globalization and monoculture, as our energy-intensive agriculture poisons the air and soil, leads to the loss of topsoil, and becomes increasingly reliant on genetically-modified Frankenfoods, not to mention speeding up climate change. However, it's a battle millions are joining, as Americans seek healthier alternatives in organic food and local markets.
Agricultural innovation will reduce poverty, help stabilize climate change according to new report (January 12, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0112-morgan_sow_agriculture.html
With nearly a billion people people going hungry in the world today as 40 percent of the global food stock is wasted before it is consumed, many are seeking ways to increase the efficiency of the world's food system. Worldwatch Institute, an environmental sustainability and social welfare research organization, today released State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, which highlights recent successes in agricultural innovation and outlines ways to reduce global hunger and poverty while at the same time minimizing the impact of agriculture on the environment. "The progress showcased through this report will inform governments, policymakers, NGOs, and donors that seek to curb hunger and poverty, providing a clear roadmap for expanding or replicating these successes elsewhere," said Worldwatch Institute President Christopher Flavin. "We need the world's influencers of agricultural development to commit to longstanding support for farmers, who make up 80 percent of the population in Africa."
(...) The innovations detailed in the report include 'vertical gardening', a method of urban farming which is increasingly practiced in cities throughout Africa and elsewhere around the world. In Kibera, Nairobi, the largest slum in Kenya, more than 1,000 women farmers are growing produce in sacks filled with dirt and pockmarked with holes. The technique is simple, inexpensive, conserves water, and provides a reliable and efficient way to grow food for an African urban populace which is expected to rise to 60 percent by 2050.
(...) An estimated 33 percent of children in Africa are experiencing hunger or malnutrition, a number which is expected to grow to a possible 42 million by 2025. In Uganda, the Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) program is creating curricula around native vegetable gardening, nutrition education, and cooking skills, in order to teach children how to grow local crops and combat food shortages while revitalizing national culinary traditions. To learn more about State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, or to order your own copy, visit http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/
WE ARE REALLY IN DEEP, DEEP SHIT... EXTRATERRESTRIAL ASSISTANCE WILL BE A MUST TO SURVIVE ON THIS PLANET...
Massive Outbreak of Jellyfish Could Spell Trouble for Fisheries
13 JAN 2011: REPORT
The worlds oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a new normal in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.
by richard stone
Among the spineless creatures of the world, the Nomuras jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. Its the size of a refrigerator imagine a Frigidaire Gallery Premiere rather than a hotel minibar and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan. Only three times during the entire 20th century did numbers of the Nomuras swell to such gigantic proportions that they seriously clogged fishing nets.
Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded in jelly parlance, bloomed six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.
Why has the Nomuras jellyfish become a recurring nightmare? The answer could portend trouble for the worlds oceans. In recent years, populations of several jellyfish species have made inroads at the expense of their main competitor fish in a number of regions, including the Yellow Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Black Sea. Overfishing and deteriorating coastal water quality are chief suspects in the rise of jellies. Global warming may be adding fuel to the fire by making more food available to jellyfish and opening up new habitat. Now, researchers fear, conditions are becoming so bad that some ecosystems could be approaching a tipping point in which jellyfish supplant fish.
Essential to thwarting any potential jellyfish takeover is a better understanding of the complicated dynamics between fish and jellyfish. Jellyfish free-swimming gelatinous animals are a normal element of marine ecosystems. Fish and jellyfish both compete for plankton. The predators keep each other in check: 124 kinds of fish species and 34 other species, including leatherback turtles, are known to dine on jellyfish, while jellies prey on fish eggs and, occasionally, on fish themselves. Juvenile fish of some species take refuge amid tentacles and eat jellyfish parasites. Fish and jellyfish interact in complex ways, says Kylie Pitt, an ecologist at Griffith University in Australia.
Overfishing can throw this complex relationship out of kilter. By removing a curb on jellyfish population growth, overfishing opens up ecological space for jellyfish, says Anthony Richardson, an ecologist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Cleveland, Australia. And as jellyfish flourish, he says, their predation on fish eggs takes a heavier and heavier toll on battered fish stocks.
When an ecosystem is dominated by jellyfish, fish will mostly disappear, says ecologist Sun Song, director of the Institute of Oceanology in Qingdao, China. Once that happens, he contends, there is almost no method to deal with it. Just think of attempting to purge the Sea of Japan of billions of Nomuras jellyfish, many of them hovering meters below the surface and therefore invisible to satellites or the naked eye. Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago, when the ancestors of jellyfish ruled the seas.
Sun and others are racing to get a handle on the likelihood of such a marine meltdown coming true. Like their foe, the subject is slippery. Its an enigma, for starters, why particular jellyfish run rampant. The troublemakers are only a small fraction of the several thousand species of jellyfish out there, says Richardson. These uber-jellies reproduce like mad, grow fast, eat most anything, and can withstand poor water quality. They are tough, Richardson says like cockroaches.
The big question is whether these cockroaches of the sea are poised to hijack marine ecosystems. Theres anecdotal evidence that jellyfish blooms are becoming more frequent. But there are also cases in which jellyfish gained the upper hand on an ecosystem, only to suddenly relinquish it. For
No one can say for sure whether severe jellyfish blooms are a passing regional phenomenon or a global scourge.
The jury is out on whether other jelly-blighted waters can regain ecological balance as quickly as the Bering Sea did. For that reason, says Pitt, no one can say for sure whether severe jellyfish blooms are a passing regional phenomenon or a global scourge requiring urgent measures to combat their spread.
Pitt is one of a small band of jellyfish researchers hoping to settle that question. With support from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif., she and her colleagues on the centers Jellyfish Working Group are gathering up datasets from around the world on jellyfish blooms. They expect to have a global picture and be able to take the measure of their foe in about a year, Pitt says.
Jellyfish clearly have an impact on human activity. Besides fouling fishing nets, they invade fish farms, block cooling intakes at coastal power plants, and force beach closures. Some jellies pose a mortal threat. Dozens of Jellyfish blooms can be caused by eutrophication, which can create dead zones around mouths of rivers.
people die each year from jellyfish stings, far more than from encounters with other marine creatures, including sharks. A box jellyfish, the Chironex sea wasp, may be the most lethal animal on the planet: Its toxin can kill a person in three minutes. Global warming may allow deadly jellyfish, now mostly found in tropical and subtropical waters, to conquer new turf in temperate waters as sea surface temperatures rise, warns Richardson. Its very likely that venomous jellyfish will move toward the poles, he says.
While that could be a big blow for tourism, far more worrisome to many researchers is the threat that jellies pose to fish stocks. The most important helping hand for jellyfish may be overfishing. In one well-documented episode, the devastation of sardine stocks appear to have cleared the way for the rise of Chrysaora off Namibia, in waters known as the northern Benguela. Recent research cruises there have hauled in about four times as much jelly biomass as fish biomass.
Another ecosystem tweak that benefits jellyfish is eutrophication. A flood of nutrients from agricultural runoff and sewage spurs phytoplankton growth in coastal waters, providing a feeding bonanza for jellyfish. Eutrophication, usually around the mouths of major rivers, can also create low-oxygen dead zones that jellyfish generally tolerate better than fish.
Global warming may also abet regime change. Warmer ocean temperatures are correlated with jellyfish blooms. A possible explanation, says Richardson, is that warming leads to nutrient-poor surface waters. Such conditions favor flagellates, a kind of zooplankton, over diatoms, a kind of phytoplankton. Flagellate-dominated food webs may be more favorable to
The waters off North Asia may be acutely vulnerable to jellyfish invasion.
jellyfish, he says.
For reasons yet to be fully fathomed, the waters off North Asia may be acutely vulnerable to a jellyfish invasion. Since 2000 or so, the Nomuras jellyfish and two other species Aurelia aurita and Cyanea nozakii have been plaguing the Yellow Sea. In the past 5 years, anchovy catches there have decreased 20-fold, says Sun. Perhaps as a result, just like off Namibia, jellyfish are seizing the day. During a research cruise in the Yellow Sea in the summer of 2009, jellyfish amounted to 95 percent of the biomass netted by the scientists.
Alarmed by this ascendancy of jellyfish, Sun is leading a five-year initiative to unravel why jellyfish have become a perennial pest. Among other things, his team will hunt for the elusive cradle of jellyfish in the Yellow Sea. Species of Cnidaria, the phylum with the vast majority of jellyfish, can spend years on the sea bottom as polyps. These reproduce asexually, popping off medusae the familiar bell-shaped form of cnidarian jellies that drift up toward the surface. Scientists speculate that polyps may be gaining a stronger foothold in North Asia at the expense of mollusks and other bottom-dwelling creatures. The Chinese group will search for polyps in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.
One possibility in these seas is that coastal and offshore construction and engineering works are creating new habitat for polyps. Structures as diverse as drilling platforms, embankments, and aquaculture frames introduce smooth surfaces made of plastic and other materials into the marine environment. In the past two decades, as Chinas economy boomed, such structures have proliferated, says Yu Zhigang, a marine chemist at Ocean University of China in Qingdao. The Chinese initiative will test the hypothesis that artificial landscapes are cradles for jellyfish polyps.
The bottom line is that multiple factors may favor jellyfish over fish, says Shin-ichi Uye, an ecologist at Hiroshima University who has charted the rapid rise of the Nomuras jellyfish in the Sea of Japan. The recipe for what makes jellyfish run amuck likely varies by region, and for that reason may take time to decipher. But the future of the worlds fisheries may well depend on it.
A Looming Oxygen Crisis and Its Impact on Worlds Oceans (5 AUGUST 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_looming_oxygen_crisis_and_its_impact_on_worlds_oceans/2301/
As warming intensifies, scientists warn, the oxygen content of oceans across the planet could be more and more diminished, with serious consequences for the future of fish and other sea life, Carl Zimmer writes. - The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is overshadowing another catastrophe thats also unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico this summer: The oxygen dissolved in the Gulf waters is disappearing. In some places, the oxygen is getting so scarce that fish and other animals cannot survive. They can either leave the oxygen-free waters or die. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium reported this week that this years so-called dead zone covers 7,722 square miles. Unlike the Deepwater Horizon disaster, this summers dead zone is not a new phenomenon in the Gulf. It first appeared in the 1970s, and each summer it has returned, growing bigger as the years have passed. Its expansion reflects the rising level of fertilizers that farmers in the U.S. Midwest have spread across their fields. Rain carries much of that fertilizer into the Mississippi River, which then delivers it to the sea. Once the fertilizer reaches the Gulf, it spurs algae to grow, providing a feast for bacteria, which grow so fast they use up all the oxygen in their neighborhood. The same phenomenon is repeating itself along many coastlines around the world. This summer, a 377,000-square-kilometer (145,000-square-mile) dead zone appeared in the Baltic Sea. In 2008, scientists reported that new dead zones have been popping up at an alarming rate for the past 50 years. There are now more than 400 coastal dead zones around the world. As serious as these dead zones are, however, they may be just a foreshadowing of a much more severe crisis to come. Agricultural runoff Warming is expected to reduce the mixing of the ocean by making surface seawater lighter. can only strip oxygen from the ocean around the mouths of fertilizer-rich rivers. But global warming has the potential to reduce the oceans oxygen content across the entire planet. Combined with acidification another global impact of our carbon emissions the loss of oxygen could have a major impact on marine life. Scientists point to two reasons to expect a worldwide drop in ocean oxygen. One is the simple fact that as water gets warmer, it can hold less dissolved oxygen. The other reason is subtler. The entire ocean gets its oxygen from the surface either from the atmosphere, or from photosynthesizing algae floating at the top of the sea. The oxygen then spreads to the deep ocean as the surface waters slowly sink.Global warming is expected to reduce the mixing of the ocean by making surface seawater lighter. Thats because in a warmer world we can expect more rainfall and more melting of glaciers, icebergs, and ice sheets. Since freshwater is less dense than salt water, the water at the oceans surface will become lighter. The extra heat from the warming atmosphere will also make surface waters expand and thus make them lighter still. The light surface water will be less likely to sink and thus the deep ocean will get less oxygen. Instead, more of the oxygen will linger near the surface, where it will be used up by oxygen-breathing organisms. CLIP
The Natural World Vanishes: How Species Cease To Matter (8 APRIL 2010) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/the_natural_world_vanishes_how_species_cease_to_matter/2258/
Once, on both sides of the Atlantic, fish such as salmon, eels, and, shad were abundant and played an important role in society, feeding millions and providing a livelihood for tens of thousands. But as these fish have steadily dwindled, humans have lost sight of their significance, with each generation accepting a diminished environment as the new norm.
Note from Jean: A MUST READ! Once again the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history, supporting some the worst evildoers on the planet by its inaction regarding the mandatory labelling of frankenfoods. The exact same thing can be said of the Harper government in Canada where GMO labelling law is still not enacted despite years of campaigning and public demand for this basic right to know what we eat. The ONLY way to be sure of not eating hazardous allergy-triggering genetically modified food is to buy ONLY certified organic food.
USDA Recommends "Coexistence" with Monsanto: We Say Hell No!
By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, Dec 22, 2010
"If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."
- Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994
"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."
- Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, quoted in the New York Times, October 25, 1998
After 16 years of non-stop biotech bullying and force-feeding Genetically Engineered or Modified (GE or GM) crops to farm animals and "Frankenfoods" to unwitting consumers, Monsanto has a big problem, or rather several big problems. A growing number of published scientific studies indicate that GE foods pose serious human health threats. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently stated that "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM advises consumers to avoid GM foods. Before the FDA arbitrarily decided to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into food products in 1994, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can set off serious, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored. http://www.responsibletechnology.org
Federal judges are finally starting to acknowledge what organic farmers and consumers have said all along: uncontrollable and unpredictable GMO crops such as alfalfa and sugar beets spread their mutant genes onto organic farms and into non-GMO varieties and plant relatives, and should be halted. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22173.cfm
An appeals court recently ruled that consumers have the right to know whether the dairy products they are purchasing are derived from cows injected with Monsanto's (now Elanco's) controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), linked to serious animal health problems and increased cancer risk for humans.
Monsanto's Roundup, the agro-toxic companion herbicide for millions of acres of GM soybeans, corn, cotton, alfalfa, canola, and sugar beets, is losing market share. Its overuse has spawned a new generation of superweeds that can only be killed with super-toxic herbicides such as 2,4, D and paraquat. Moreover, patented "Roundup Ready" crops require massive amounts of climate destabilizing nitrate fertilizer. Compounding Monsanto's damage to the environment and climate, rampant Roundup use is literally killing the soil, destroying essential soil microorganisms, degrading the living soil's ability to capture and sequester CO2, and spreading deadly plant diseases. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_21039.cfm
In just one year, Monsanto has moved from being Forbes' "Company of the Year" to the Worst Stock of the Year. The Biotech Bully of St. Louis has become one of the most hated corporations on Earth. http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm
Monsanto and their agro-toxic allies are now turning to Obama's pro-biotech USDA for assistance. They want the organic community to stop suing them and boycotting their products. They want food activists and the OCA to mute our criticisms and stop tarnishing the image of their brands, their seeds, and companies. They want us to resign ourselves to the fact that one-third of U.S. croplands, and one-tenth of global cultivated acreage, are already contaminated with GMOs. That's why Monsanto recently hired the notorious mercenary firm, Blackwater, to spy on us. That's why Monsanto has teamed up with the Gates Foundation to bribe government officials and scientists and spread GMOs throughout Africa and the developing world. That's why the biotech bullies and the Farm Bureau have joined hands with the Obama Administration to preach their new doctrine of "coexistence."
"Coexistence" or Cooptation?
The Agriculture Department is dutifully drafting a comprehensive "coexistence policy" that supposedly will diffuse tensions between conventional (chemical but non-GMO), biotech, and organic farmers. Earlier this week industry and Administration officials met in Washington, D.C. to talk about coexistence. Even though the Organic Consumers Association tried to get into the meeting, we were told we weren't welcome. The powers that be claim that the OCA doesn't meet their criteria of being "stakeholders." The unifying theme in these closed-door meetings is apparently that Monsanto and the other biotech companies will set aside a "compensation" fund to reimburse organic farmers whose crops or fields get contaminated. That way we'll all be happy. Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, and Dupont will continue planting their hazardous crops and force-feeding animals and consumers with GMOs. Organic farmers and companies willing to cooperate will get a little compensation or "hush money." But of course our response to Monsanto and the USDA's plan, as you might have guessed, is hell no!
There can be no such thing as "coexistence" with a reckless and monopolistic industry that harms human health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. Enough talk of coexistence. We need a new regime that empowers consumers, small farmers, and the organic community. We need a new set of rules, based on "truth-in-labeling" and the "precautionary principle" - consumer and farmer-friendly regulations that are basically already in place in the European Union - so that "we the people" can regain control over Monsanto, indentured politicians, and the presently out-of-control technology of genetic engineering.
Truth-in-Labeling: Monsanto and the Biotech Industry's Greatest Fear
In practical terms coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union, the largest agricultural market in the world, is a non-issue. Why? Because there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor consumer food products on supermarket shelves, in the EU, period. And why is this? There are almost no GMOs in Europe, because under EU law, as demanded by consumers, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to consume GMOs, while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are labeled. Of course consumers, for the most part, do not want to consume GM Frankenfoods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald's and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the axiom expressed by the Monsanto executive at the beginning of this article: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."
The biotech industry and Food Inc. are acutely aware of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don't want to be part of an involuntary food safety experiment. You don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by profit-at-any-cost chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont-the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress, much less allowing such legislation to be put up for a vote. Obama (and Hilary Clinton) campaign operatives in 2008 claimed that Obama supported mandatory labels for GMOs, but we haven't heard a word from the White House on this topic since Inauguration Day.
Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) introduces a bill in every Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don't hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right to know what's in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.
Therefore we need to shift our focus and go local. We've got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.
Millions Against Monsanto: Launching a Nationwide Truth-in-Labeling Campaign, Starting with Local City Council Ordinances or Ballot Initiatives
Early in 2011 the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, plans to launch a nationwide campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans. Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure retailers to implement "truth-in-labeling" practices; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances or ballot initiatives similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we will gather petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. Stay tuned for details, but please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interesting in helping organize a truth-in-labeling campaign in your local community. Millions Against Monsanto. Power to the people!
Ronnie Cummins is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association.
Related action to take:
Consumers have the right to know what is in their food! http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm
OCA is calling on retailers to pledge voluntary compliance with our Truth-in-Labeling campaign by clearly identifying all food products containing genetically modified ingredients with a label or shelf sign that says "May Contain GMOs" and by identifying all factory farmed animal products with a label or shelf sign that says "CAFO."
(...) More than 30% of all herbicides sprayed anywhere contain glyphosatethe worlds bestselling weed killer. It was patented by Monsanto for use in their Roundup brand, which became more popular when they introduced Roundup Ready crops starting in 1996. These genetically modified (GM) plants, which now include soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets, have inserted genetic material from viruses and bacteria that allows the crops to withstand applications of normally deadly Roundup.(Monsanto requires farmers who buy Roundup Ready seeds to only use the companys Roundup brand of glyphosate. This has extended the companys grip on the glyphosate market, even after its patent expired in 2000.) The herbicide doesnt destroy plants directly. It rather cooks up a unique perfect storm of conditions that revs up disease-causing organisms in the soil, and at the same time wipes out plant defenses against those diseases. The mechanisms are well-documented but rarely cited. The glyphosate molecule grabs vital nutrients and doesnt let them go. This process is called chelation and was actually the original property for which glyphosate was patented in 1964. It was only 10 years later that it was patented as an herbicide. When applied to crops, it deprives them of vital minerals necessary for healthy plant functionespecially for resisting serious soilborne diseases. The importance of minerals for protecting against disease is well established. In fact, mineral availability was the single most important measurement used by several famous plant breeders to identify disease-resistant varieties. Glyphosate annihilates beneficial soil organisms, such as Pseudomonas and Bacillus bacteria that live around the roots. Since they facilitate the uptake of plant nutrients and suppress disease-causing organisms, their untimely deaths means the plant gets even weaker and the pathogens even stronger. The herbicide can interfere with photosynthesis, reduce water use efficiency, lower lignin , damage and shorten root systems, cause plants to release important sugars, and change soil pHall of which can negatively affect crop health.
(...) Glyphosate can attack from above and below. It can drift over from a neighbors farm and wreak havoc. And it can even be released from dying weeds, travel through the soil, and then be taken up by healthy crops. The amount of glyphosate that can cause damage is tiny. European scientists demonstrated that less than half an ounce per acre inhibits the ability of plants to take up and transport essential micronutrients (see chart). As a result, more and more farmers are finding that crops planted in years after Roundup is applied suffer from weakened defenses and increased soilborne diseases. The situation is getting worse for many reasons.
(...) The same nutrients that glyphosate chelates and deprives plants are also vital for human and animal health. These include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, boron, and others. Deficiencies of these elements in our diets, alone or in combination, are known to interfere with vital enzyme systems and cause a long list of disorders and diseases.Alzheimers, for example, is linked with reduced copper and magnesium. Don Huber points out that this disease has jumped 9000% since 1990. Manganese, zinc, and copper are also vital for proper functioning of the SOD (superoxide dismustase) cycle. This is key for stemming inflammation and is an important component in detoxifying unwanted chemical compounds in humans and animals. Glyphosate-induced mineral deficiencies can easily go unidentified and untreated. Even when laboratory tests are done, they can sometimes detect adequate mineral levels, but miss the fact that glyphosate has already rendered them unusable. Glyphosate can tie up minerals for years and years, essentially removing them from the pool of nutrients available for plants, animals, and humans. If we combine the more than 135 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides applied in the US in 2010 with total applications over the past 30 years, we may have already eliminated millions of pounds of nutrients from our food supply. This loss is something we simply cant afford. Were already suffering from progressive nutrient deprivation even without Roundup. In a UK study, for example, they found between 16-76% less nutrients in 1991, compared to levels in the same foods in 1940. Livestock disease and mineral deficiency - Roundup Ready crops dominate US livestock feed. Soy and corn are most prevalent93% of US soy and nearly 70% of corn are Roundup Ready. Animals are also fed derivatives of the other three Roundup Ready crops: canola, sugar beets, and cottonseed. Nutrient loss from glyphosate can therefore be severe.
(...) Instead, the USDA largely marches lock-step with the biotech industry and turns a blind eye to the widespread harm that Roundup is already inflicting. If they decide to approve Monsantos alfalfa, the USDA may ultimately be blamed for a catastrophe of epic proportions.
Stop USDA Approval Of Monsanto's GE Alfalfa! http://www.care2.com/causes/real-food/blog/stop-usda-approval-of-monsantos-ge-alfalfa/
Despite a Supreme Court decision to regulate (read: ban) genetically engineered, Roundup Ready alfalfa for widespread commercial use in June 2010, the USDA is again poised to release this potentially harmful crop for national use. Help Preserve the Future of Organic; Prevent Full Deregulation of GE Alfalfa!
(...) It's important for consumers to know that any approval of GE alfalfa puts organic farmers at risk, even under the complicated scheme the agency is proposing as option 3. Alfalfa is a key component in feed for organically-raised animals. The USDA has failed to show how it will prevent GE alfalfa from contaminating organic and non-GE alfalfa crops. Without this guarantee, the integrity of thousands of organic products will be jeopardized. Although the new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledges the potential harm of GE alfalfa and says he's hoping for an amicable compromise in this legistlation, it's impossible to imagine a win-win situation for both Monsanto and organic farmers. The Atlantic's Marion Nestle points out that "Farm groups supporting GM alfalfa strongly object to Vilsack's 'coexistence' initiative. In a letter (PDF), the groups argue that the coexistence policy could 'adversely impact all producers of biotech crops, as well as the integrity of the American agriculture system.' TAKE ACTION! Tell the USDA it's time to ban GE Alfalfa once and for all. Please sign both petitions below. Help Preserve the Future of Organic; Prevent Full Deregulation of GE Alfalfa Tell The USDA Not To Allow GE Alfalfa In Any Form
WikiLeaks Unveil Vatican's Secret Approval Of GMO (Jan 17, 2011) http://www.care2.com/causes/real-food/blog/wikileaks-unveil-vatican-approval-of-GMOs/
As the debate over whether or not GMOs are fit for public consumption waxes hotter all over the world, the Catholic Church has been conspicuously silent on whether or not it endorses this biotechnology.Despite this attempt to remain publicly neutral, WikiLeaks recently uncovered a transmission from Christopher Sandrolini, a U.S. diplomat to the Holy See, that demonstrates the Vatican's clandestine approval of genetically modified crops. "Recent conversations between Holy See officials and USAID and EB representatives visiting the Vatican confirmed the cautious acceptance of biotech food by the Holy See. Vatican officials asserted that the safety and science of genetically modified foods would eventually be non-issues at the Holy See" reads the memo.GMO Journal's Deniza Gertsberg writes that while in 2000, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences gave its preliminary approval, and more recently, some of its vocal members have openly endorsed GMOs, the Holy See, in its public communiqués, always went the way of Switzerland.Despite the transmission's startling dismissal of scientific research that points to GMO's dangerous health and environmental impacts, it does acknowledge that their widespread adoption would be disastrous for farmers, especially those in developing nations."...the main issue for the Church will continue to be the economic angle of biotech food. Many in the Church fear that these technologies are going to make developing-world farmers more dependent on others, and simply serve to enrich multi-national corporations," the memo continues. Gertsberg writes that rather than shocking anti-GMO advocates, the cables merely "reaffirmed what many already believed, namely that the Vatican supported GMOs and that a more hearty endorsement from the Holy See is likely in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, WikiLeaks cemented for many the understanding that US diplomats around the world are pushing GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative."
Labeling Of GE Salmon Might Soon Be Mandatory In California (Jan 16, 2011) http://www.care2.com/causes/real-food/blog/labeling-of-ge-salmon-might-soon-be-mandatory-in-california/
Just last week, California State Assemblymember Jared Huffman introduced a landmard Assembly Bill (AB 88) which would require all future GE salmon sold in California to contain clear and prominent labeling. The issue of whether or not to approve AquaBounty transgenic salmon for unlabeled commercial sale has been before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for many months with no decision. Although the FDA maintains that it has conducted adequate inquiries into the health and environmental impacts of raising GE salmon for public consumption, Huffman like many federal scientists isn't so sure that the administration has the public's best interests at heart. Just two months ago, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) revealed a document that proves the FDA knowingly withheld vital information during previous hearings regarding the approval of GMO salmon. Stop Genetically Engineered Salmon From Reaching Your Plate! CLIP
Month Without Monsanto: One Woman's Attempt To Avoid GMOs http://www.care2.com/causes/trailblazers/blog/month-without-monsanto-one-writers-attempt-to/
In a world dominated by agribusiness giant Monsanto, is it possible to live without genetically modified organisms? That's just the question that April Dávila, a writer from Los Angeles, California is trying to answer through the month-long personal experiment she has dubbed, "Month Without Monsanto."There has been a lot of information swirling around recently about the negative effect that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been shown to have on both the natural environment and human health. Studies have linked GM corn consumption to organ damage and consumer alert organizations have questioned the fact that food manufactures in the United States still aren't required to declare the presence of GMOs on product labels.After reading an article about Monsanto and the health complications caused by its genetically modified crops, April says she was 'compelled to swear off all things Monsanto for good. How hard could it be?'A little research, however, proved that it would be quite difficult. As consumers, Dávila says on her website, "we are largely unaware that everything from last nights steak, to the Cheez-Its on our desk owe their existence to Monsanto." An accomplished writer and editor, Dávila has decided to chronicle her experience of navigating life completely Monsanto-free online, at MonthWithoutMonsanto.com. CLIP CHECK ALSO Digging Deep: Unearthing Fact and Fiction About What We Eat
THE UPCOMING WORLD CHEMTRAIL AWARENESS DAY IS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A STAND ABOUT THIS WORLDWIDE PLAGUE (a man-made global environmental crime about which I've often networked information - actually 170 times as you can verify HERE AND HERE). THE QUESTION NOW IS DO ENOUGH PEOPLE CARE ENOUGH TO EVEN TRY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?...
Date: 17 Jan 2011
Subject: Keep Looking Up: World Chemtrail Awareness Day
From: "Name Withheld Upon Request"
This is probably the most important issue of our time, yet most people are totally unaware of it. As long as we do nothing, the problem will continue... until we are all so ill we can no longer do anything.
World Chemtrail Awareness Day is the 22nd of January 2011. People are finally coming together and talking about the worldwide systematic poisoning of our planet that has been kept virtually hidden from the general public for a decade. Actually, all you have to do is look up to see the daily spraying of chemicals, mostly aluminum and barium, raining down on us in nearly every corner of the world.
This is not a conspiracy theory. Documented evidence exists and testimony from experts from the scientific community and even government employees prove it is real. High levels of aluminum can now be found in our air, water, and soil. It is making people and animals sick. Many are dying. How can this be happening? Because many people who know are keeping silent. I am guilty of that. I've been afraid to speak out because I didn't want people to think I was a crazy conspiracy theorist!
The World Chemtrail Awareness Day on the 22nd of January has motivated me to create the attached flyer. On it you will find weblinks and resources so you can decide for yourself what is fact or fiction But, don't just take my word for it! You'll find plenty of information all over the Internet about Chemtrails if you do a simple search.
If you choose to turn a blind eye to this issue, please do not deny other people the opportunity to become aware and decide for themselves. Please forward this email to people you know. You can even preface it with a note like... "some crazy person sent me this email and I don't know if it's true or not, but I thought you should make up your own mind."
Ignoring the problem, won't make it go away. As more people across the world become aware of what is happening to us, we will unite to stop this aerial chemical onslaught... indeed, it is the only thing that will.
Related websites, videos and articles:
World Chemtrail Awareness Day January 22, 2011 http://aircrap.org/world-chemtrail-awareness-day-january-22-2011/33385/
Our first World Anti Chemtrail Day Event originally took place the 20th of November, 2010. A second happening was immediately arranged (this one) because of the great success of the last and intense interest in the subject aroused by the new documentary film What in the World are they Spraying.This invitation marks a day where we have the opportunity to locally create a chemtrail-awareness event. Through our synchronization, we can reach people and politicians globally.Please share your information, with an introduction to the issues, and a presentation of the film:What In the World Are They Spraying? This new film gives you a well researched taste of what we are fighting for! YouTube: G Edward Griffin talks about new CHEMTRAIL film - Full Movie at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K9rXydMmfw
HOW TO PARTICIPATE?
No matter where you live, Chemtrails are a source of concern. This is your opportunity to join forces with people from all over the world, who have the same concerns. One thing is crucial; contact your local media. This is vital to show governments and the public that we are organized globally, and that we are prepared and serious. Tell your local governments and media you want an explanation to this destructive activity, and if you are brave enough, demand that they stop! There is safety in numbers, so join up with as many concerned citizens as you can, and make this day count! Lets create the *World We Want* Prepare prior to January 22nd, 2011: CLIP
Killer Chemtrails: The Shocking Truth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psdg3OAw_a8
This video provides a surreal but factual summary of the chemtrail phenomenon and the effect that chemtrails are having on the environment. (...) There are currently three main hypothesis for the purpose of chemical spraying in the skies: weather modification, population control, and testing of biological agents on the general poplace. Even if we assume that these trails have nothing to do with eugenics or weather modification, we cannot ignore the fact that our skies are being heavily polluted with aviation fuel emissions that contribute towards a host of different health problems. As far as I'm aware, jet engines run on kerosene (paraffin). The tetra-ethyl (lead) found in aviation fuel and its combustion products are potent neurotoxins that have been shown in scientific research to interfere with brain development in children. This 5-minute video serves only as an introduction to the phenomenon of chemtrails. I encourage you to research this subject in more detail to gain a fuller picture of what chemtrails contain, their impact on the environment, and the history of aerial spraying that has taken place in many countries. Here are some good places to start your research: http://Educate-Yourself.org/ct
- http://www.ChemtrailCentral.com - http://www.CuttingThroughTheMatrix.com
The only way we can have any hope of getting to the bottom of this, and to stop our skies from being polluted, is to raise awareness of this subject. We need to get the word out to as many people as possible.
U.N. urged to freeze climate geo-engineering projects (Oct 21, 2010) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69K18320101021
(Reuters) - The United Nations should impose a moratorium on "geo-engineering" projects such as artificial volcanoes and vast cloud-seeding schemes to fight climate change, green groups say, fearing they could harm nature and mankind.The risks were too great because the impacts of manipulating nature on a vast scale were not fully known, the groups said at a major U.N. meeting in Japan aimed at combating increasing losses of plant and animal species. (...) Some countries regard geo-engineering projects costing billions of dollars as a way to control climate change by cutting the amount of sunlight hitting the earth or soaking up excess greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide."It's absolutely inappropriate for a handful of governments in industrialized countries to make a decision to try geo-engineering without the approval of all the world's support," Pat Mooney, from Canada-headquartered advocacy organization ETC Group, told Reuters on the sidelines of the October 18-29 meeting."They shouldn't proceed with real-life, in-the-environment experimentation or the deployment of any geo-engineering until there is a consensus in the United Nations that this is okay."Some conservation groups say geo-engineering is a way for some governments and companies to get out of taking steps to slash planet-warming emissions. The U.N. climate panel says a review of geo-engineering will be part of its next major report in 2013. CLIP
Millions were in germ war tests (21 April 2002) http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/apr/21/uk.medicalscience
Much of Britain was exposed to bacteria sprayed in secret trials -- The Ministry of Defence turned large parts of the country into a giant laboratory to conduct a series of secret germ warfare tests on the public. A government report just released provides for the first time a comprehensive official history of Britain's biological weapons trials between 1940 and 1979. Many of these tests involved releasing potentially dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms over vast swaths of the population without the public being told.While details of some secret trials have emerged in recent years, the 60-page report reveals new information about more than 100 covert experiments.The report reveals that military personnel were briefed to tell any 'inquisitive inquirer' the trials were part of research projects into weather and air pollution. The tests, carried out by government scientists at Porton Down, were designed to help the MoD assess Britain's vulnerability if the Russians were to have released clouds of deadly germs over the country.
(...) One chapter of the report, 'The Fluorescent Particle Trials', reveals how between 1955 and 1963 planes flew from north-east England to the tip of Cornwall along the south and west coasts, dropping huge amounts of zinc cadmium sulphide on the population. The chemical drifted miles inland, its fluorescence allowing the spread to be monitored. In another trial using zinc cadmium sulphide, a generator was towed along a road near Frome in Somerset where it spewed the chemical for an hour.While the Government has insisted the chemical is safe, cadmium is recognised as a cause of lung cancer and during the Second World War was considered by the Allies as a chemical weapon.In another chapter, 'Large Area Coverage Trials', the MoD describes how between 1961 and 1968 more than a million people along the south coast of England, from Torquay to the New Forest, were exposed to bacteria including e.coli and bacillus globigii , which mimics anthrax. These releases came from a military ship, the Icewhale, anchored off the Dorset coast, which sprayed the micro-organisms in a five to 10-mile radius.The report also reveals details of the DICE trials in south Dorset between 1971 and 1975. These involved US and UK military scientists spraying into the air massive quantities of serratia marcescens bacteria, with an anthrax simulant and phenol.
(...) Successive governments have tried to keep details of the germ warfare tests secret. While reports of a number of the trials have emerged over the years through the Public Records Office, this latest MoD document - which was released to Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker - gives the fullest official version of the biological warfare trials yet.Baker said: 'I welcome the fact that the Government has finally released this information, but question why it has taken so long. It is unacceptable that the public were treated as guinea pigs without their knowledge, and I want to be sure that the Ministry of Defence's claims that these chemicals and bacteria used were safe is true.' The MoD report traces the history of the UK's research into germ warfare since the Second World War when Porton Down produced five million cattle cakes filled with deadly anthrax spores which would have been dropped in Germany to kill their livestock. It also gives details of the infamous anthrax experiments on Gruinard on the Scottish coast which left the island so contaminated it could not be inhabited until the late 1980s.
(...) Asked whether such tests are still being carried out, she said: 'It is not our policy to discuss ongoing research.' - CHECK ALSO Chemtrails UK Government admits deadly spraying
STOP Chemtrails http://worldgathering.net/stop/index.html
STOP CHEMTRAILS Posters: Posters1 - Posters2 - Posters3 - Posters4
'Chemtrails' or 'Chem Trails' or 'Bioweapon Trails' is a massive global spraying operation using a large fleet of many hundreds of aircraft which seem to operate over most countries of the world. This outside-of-big-media worldwide aerial aerosol-discharging operation became severe around the year 2000, and by now must be severely damaging all life on Earth. There are, according to a large number of reports over the past several years, babies, children and adults going to hospital with breathing problems and chronic and acute severe sickness all over the world because of this massive, aerial discharging of bioweapons, chemicals and metals.Don't you think pets refusing to go outside on bad spray days is an important message? (2008 note: pets were refusing to go out-of-doors in many parts of the USA in approx 2001-2003, perhaps nowadays animals have had to accept the sprayed poison as 'normal', or at least as the only option, just as humans are also forced - for the present - to accept this awful situation.)Don't you think it is time we did something about this?
Note from Jean: Here is an important complementary article on this and the accelerating train wreck of Global Warming published in December 2010 by long-time ERN subscriber Will Thomas (email@example.com). As you'll see - and please by all means make time to read this! - we are totally screwed unless we soon get our act together and STOP polluting our planetary nest AND get massive expect geo-mitigation assistance from the advanced civilizations monitoring us as that have apparently decided to do in 2015 according to information given in this radio interview by the late Stanley A. Fulham (More on this in Is the ET Council 2015 ecology cleanup a prelude to 2025 Paradise on Earth?) And for those who doubt we will ever get such exceptional assistance, there is another option that, in my view, we have already started implementing through our weekly global soul communions/meditations - something I've intuitively felt for years is a distinct evolutionary possibility which is somewhat in line with the basic premise of the book Spontaneous Evolution I've just finished translating in French (due to be available at the end of February). It entails to collectively tune into our living planet biofield and to activate/catalyze its self-regeneration mechanisms, a sort of collective self-healing of our planetary body. I was able last Sunday - as many others undoubtedly could report - to access the deep gaian field of awareness of Oneness with all Life on Earth, seeing/sensing/feeling through the entire sentient biotope (from the whale and dolphin sentience down to the micro-organism and even to mineral/crystal sentience, with all animal and plant life-forms accessed at the same time), which, of course, is merely a microcosmic sentience intricately connected with higher/large levels of macrocosmic sentience - our solar system, our local cluster of stars, our entire living galaxy, our local cluster of sentient galaxies and up to this entire universe's sentient Presence (an AMAZING constellation of sentient awareness to tap into!). I just KNOW that once enough of humanity's collective soul power will have been integrated as One through Oneness/Christic Consciousness, we WILL be able to heal our Selves, at the individual and planetary levels, and the rest of our past of Dis-unity consciousness and endless sufferings will be history. More on this in the forthcoming Meditation Focus #220: Sensing/Feeling/Being as One
PS In response to the above-mentioned hopeful vision that we are soon to "collectively tune into our living planet biofield and to activate/catalyze its self-regeneration mechanisms" Kaia Nightingale (firstname.lastname@example.org) had this insightful perspective to offer: "Sounds good! I do hope the planet isn't already full out using every regeneration mechanism she has and I also hope that this focus isnt an attempt to bypass humanity's need to live in closer alignment with spirit and the environment. Humanity seems keen to find fixes so we can continue living the way we are, even though Im sure we can think of more joyous and healthy ways of living than the current earn-spend consumer tread mill. Pollution, climate change, health issues like increasing allergies, long term disease, stress, and depression are all signs that something is not well for us too, yet the treadmill continues. Of course we all want the environment to be cleaned up, but I suspect looking for a quick fix so we can continue polluting lifestyles the planet can no longer support might be sufficient. Hoping that ETs are going to come along and clean up our mess appeals to the New Age folks, hoping we're going to find a new technology to clean up our mess appeals to the pragmatists, but we are the ones that need to shift, in consciousness and in lifestyle. So its great that we tune in to the biofield, but we also need to shift our ordinary, day to day lifestyles to be in harmony with the planet, with our spirit nature, and with our hearts."
When the "Father of the H-Bomb" Dr. Edward Teller addressed an International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies in August 1979, flagship insurer Lloyds of London was taking on water after losing almost $11 billion in just four years and the first "Category 6" hurricane ever recorded was packing sustained winds of 200 mph.
With the planet heating up more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit per century, bellwether Antarctica was warming 10-times faster than this global rate. Adele and Chinstrap penguin colonies were going extinct on the Antarctica Peninsula, where stunned scientists clad in windbreakers strolled in unprecedented rain showers marvelling at a first-time profusion of wildflowers. Frightening forecasts called for even more rapid heating over the coming decades.
Drawing on a 1975 U.S. Navy patent for a "contrail generation apparatus for producing a powder contrail having maximum radiation scattering ability to generate reflective screens for any desired purpose" and a 1979 proposal by physicist Freeman Dyson to spread fine reflective particles into the upper atmosphere to offset Global Warming, Teller called for a billion-dollar-a-year protective chemical "sunscreen" to be spread across a fragile space colony called Earth. [Foreign Policy In Focus Feb 20/07; Wall Street Journal Oct 17/97]
Computer simulations by climate modeler Ken Caldeira at the Lawrence Livermore atom bomb laboratory predicted that 10 million tons of tiny airborne particles could reflect 1% of incoming sunlight - resulting in no further warming despite an anticipated doubling of C02 emissions over the next 30 years.
Caldeira expressed public concern over the human health effects from all this fallout. The EPA later found that 10 micron particulates 1/10 the diameter of a human hair easily enter the bloodstream, triggering a 5% increased death rate within 24 hours - "particularly in people who are already susceptible to respiratory problems." [Idaho Observer May/04; Los Angeles Times Dec 29/03]
By 1991, a patent filed by Hughes Aircraft Company called for the stratospheric seeding of highly reflective aluminum oxide particles "for Reduction of Global Warming". The company cautioned that the resulting "white skies may be unpopular."
Real world confirmation of potential chemtrail effectiveness came in July 1997, when another National Science Foundation study showed that in certain heavy air traffic corridors, contrail cloud cover had increased by as much as 20%. [Blazing Tattles, July 1997]
Chemtrail spraying began in earnest in 1998, when USAF "Weather Force Specialists" began gridding North American skies with lingering white plumes spread by formations of huge aerial tankers.
IT'S NOT WORKING
Twelve years of nonstop chemtrails later, it's clear that these desperate greenhouse-mitigation measures are not working.
The first decade of the 21st century was the warmest ever recorded. 2010 saw the hottest summer ever known in Russia. Unrelenting heat sparked hundreds of wildfires that killed 15,000 people from smoke inhalation, while spreading radioactive dust from Chernobyl and even older nuclear disasters across wide regions.
Famed for freezing temperatures, wintertime Russia broke records for abnormally warm November weather. With temperatures in Altai, Siberia hovering around 41 degrees Fahrenheit, bears and hedgehogs postponed hibernation as stunned residents were visited by African pink pelicans. [newsdaily.com Nov 16/10]
As the ground 4,000 miles east of Moscow warmed by about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the last five years to its current 23F today, this was not good news for the Arctic permafrost, where 1.5 trillion tons of methane - a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide - is beginning to boil frozen Siberian lakes and bubble into the atmosphere. A climate time bomb ignored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the more than 50 billion tons of methane about to be unleashed from Siberian lakes alone are more than 10-times the amount now in the atmosphere. [AP Nov 21/10]
Three days later I was trudging in deep snow as freaky 60-mile-an-hour blizzards and frigid temperatures clobbered the Pacific Northwest. Though it was not yet officially winter, record foot-in-a-day snows turned the Northern Plains and Rockies into instant igloo factories.
Only a few months previously, much of North America had par-broiled in record-shattering heat. West Texas experienced a 111-day rainless stretch - the longest ever recorded - followed by two rainfalls so heavy such an event had occurred only once per century.
"These events really are part of bigger trends. You can go back nearly 2,000 years and the conclusion still holds - the current warmth is anomalous," stressed Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. The burst of warming over the past two decades "takes us out of the envelope of natural variability" - including solar flares and Earth's slowly changing tilt, which account for a fraction of the worldwide warming.
Even in a warming world, regions with traditionally cold winters are seeing cold air masses colliding with a warmer atmosphere that's able to carry more water vapour. The resulting precipitation is suddenly dumped as snow. "Heavy snowfall and snowstorm frequency have increased in many northern parts of the United States," notes a June 2009 report published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
In my lifetime, record high and record low temperatures occurred at approximately the same rate in the United States. But after a one-degree Celsius global temperature rise over the past sooty century, record highs are now occurring at least twice as often as record lows. As droughts, wet years and torrential rainstorms become the new norm in the American southwest, these big swings in precipitation are tied to the rapid rise and variability in Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures - directly attributed to greenhouse emissions.
Warmer areas of the USA are seeing fewer big snowstorms, but the upper Midwest and the Northeast are getting hit with more of them as cold air usually bottled up in the Arctic is blown south.
"As we lose more sea ice, we'll probably see more of that," says Jim Overland, a NOAA oceanographer.
Meanwhile, Iowa was soaked by its wettest 36-month period in 127 years of recordkeeping as Pakistan submerged under the heaviest monsoon rains on record. Thousands of people were killed and 14 million Pakistanis were left homeless or otherwise affected. [CNN Jan 22/10; AP Aug 13/10]
Here in British Columbia in late November 2010, as Russians and Englanders froze I sat comfortably on my back deck reading a magazine in t-shirt, jeans and bare feet.
As Greenland recorded its warmest year on record, 2010 was another low year for sea ice cover. (The three lowest years have taken place over the last four years.) Despite intense chemtrail activity, the largest glacier loss ever observed in Greenland happened last summer, when a 110-square-mile chunk of the Petermann Glacier broke away. Other glaciers also shrank. And this ice loss is accelerating.
Predictions about sea level rise will have to be revised upward, says Ohio State University glaciologist Jason Box. [alternet.org Dec 3/10; McClatchy Newspapers Oct 21/10]
As the rapidly warming Arctic continues to release cold winter winds over Europe and North America, "these anomalies could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia," warns scientist Vladimir Petoukhov. "Recent severe winters like last year's or the one of 2005/06 do not conflict with the Global Warming picture, but rather supplement it. Whoever thinks that the shrinking of some far away sea ice won't bother him could be wrong." [Reuters Nov 16/10]
FOUR DEGREES OF SEPARATION
"The main message is that the closer we get to a four-degree rise, the harder it will be to deal with the consequences," says Dr. Mark New, a climate expert at Oxford University.
Even if governments attending the current conference in Cancun agree to curb carbon emissions, global temperatures are set to rise another 3.5 degrees C over the next 25 years, says the International Energy Agency. To hold the line on 2 degrees C, renewables must account for 38% of total energy use by 2035, governments must end their subsidies on fossil fuels, and global demand for coal, oil, and gas must plateau before 2020.
But with the Cancun confab certain to fail to re-invigorate even the grossly inadequate and largely ignored 1990 Kyoto Protocol, and the U.S. Congress and Canadian and British governments largely sold out to Big Oil bribes, replacing 15 trillion watts of worldwide energy production with energy conservation and non-polluting renewables over the next few decades seems farcical.
Michael Mann foresees record heat waves outpacing cold records by "20 to 1" later this century "if we continue on the course that we are on with fossil fuel burning."
Even though it no longer takes an Einstein to tag doing more of something that isn't working as "insane", such frightening forecasts are sparking renewed calls for massive chemtrail spraying masquerading as pseudo-scientific "geoengineering" on both sides the Atlantic. [Christian Science Monitor Nov 11/10; Raw Story Nov 29/10]
SUDDEN CLIMATE SHIFT ALREADY UNDERWAY
Fueled by the hot air of climate change deniers, Global Warming is already happening faster than anyone predicted as intensifying winds over Antarctica's Southern Ocean disrupt the sea's ability to store carbon. By mixing the waters, these stronger winds are bringing carbon up from the deep seas and raising the carbon concentration of the surface water - allowing more CO2 to dissolve into the atmosphere.
"Only the most extreme climate models predicted this. We didn't think it would happen until the second half of the century," says Dr. Corinne Le Quere of the British Antarctic Survey. [Telegraph Oct 23/07]
After at least 12 years of intensive chemtrail air pollution, this failed experiment has only succeeded in masking the actual extent and rapidity of worldwide warming.
Contrails have given us a powerful pointer on chemtrails effects. On September 12, 2001, climate scientist David Travis was on his way to work at the University of Wisconsin when he "noticed how bright blue and clear the sky was."
For 15 years Travis had been researching whether the contrails left by aircraft were having a significant effect on climate. With the entire U.S. air fleet grounded in the aftermath of 9/11, he and his colleagues found the "change in temperature range during those three days was just over one degree C From a climate perspective that is huge."
As Travis later told the BBC, large clusters of contrails covering up to 75% of southern California skies have "got to be having an effect on temperature at the surface."
If jet vapour trails are driving down air temperatures by more than one degree, even more reflective chemtrails must be having an even stronger effect.
Could widespread contrails from more than 65 million annual high-altitude airline and military flights - and persistent chemtrails spread nearly continuously in the same stratosphere - be blanking out the sun?
Worldwide air pollution confirmed this when Dr. Gerald Stanhill of the Agricultural Research Organisation discovered a staggering 22% drop in the sunlight in Israel compared with the 1950s.
"Global Dimming" was happening everywhere. Between the 1950s and the early 1990s the level of solar energy reaching the earth's surface dropped 9% in Antarctica, 10% in the USA, by almost 30% in Russia, and by 16% in parts of the British Isles.
"This pollutant layer, which was three-kilometres thick, cut down the sunlight reaching the ocean by more than 10%," explained world-leading climate scientist, Veerabhadran Ramanathan.
But computer models consistently showed dimming from human pollution at just 1/10 this level.
Airborne research showed that while pollution (including chemtrails) is indeed blocking some incoming sunlight, far more significant is what they are doing to the clouds. It turns out that tiny particles of industrial ash, soot and sulphur dioxide - as well as aluminum oxide, barium and other chemtrails constituents - have been turning them into giant mirrors!
Because billions of human-made particles are providing ten-times as many nuclei around which water droplets form, polluted clouds contain many more water droplets - each one far smaller than it would be naturally. Many small droplets reflect more light than fewer big ones. So polluted clouds are reflecting much more light back into space than contrails and chemtrails alone - causing Global Dimming and preventing more of the sun's heat from getting through.
"Basically the Global Dimming we saw in the North Indian Ocean, it was contributed on the one hand by the particles themselves shielding the ocean from the sunlight, on the other hand making the clouds brighter. So this insidious soup, consisting of soot, sulphates, nitrates, ash and what have you, was having a double whammy on the Global Dimming," Prof. Ramanathan remarked.
The "what have you" helping to dim the sun beneath a characteristic murky haze includes millions of tons per year of 10-micron chemtrail particles being spread over much of the northern hemisphere.
These more reflective clouds are altering world rainfall patterns. Every summer, as the heat of the sun warms the ocean north of the equator, the rain belt forming over the equator is drawn northwards, bringing rain to the Sahel. But for 20 years in the 1970s and 80s the tropical rain belt consistently failed to shift northwards as air pollution from Europe and North America deflected the heat of the sun. With the heat needed to draw tropical rains northwards reflected back into space, the life-giving African monsoon has consistently failed. As the BBC reported, "What was coming out of our exhaust pipes and power stations contributed to the deaths of a million people in Africa, and afflicted 50 million more."
"The Sahel is just one example of the monsoon system," Prof. Ramanathan reminds us. In Asia, "the same monsoon brings rainfall to three point six billion people, roughly half the world's population There is no choice here. We have to cut down air pollution, if not eliminate it altogether."
NO WAY OUT?
Dr. David Travis worries that cleaner air could mean even faster warming.
"During this three day period we had a sudden drop in Global Dimming contributed from airplanes. The temperature range jumped by over a degree Celsius," he says. "If so much could happen in such a short time, removing just one form of pollution, then it suggests that the overall effect of Global Dimming on world temperatures could be huge."
In other words, he went on, "The 9/11 study showed that if you remove a contributor to Global Dimming, jet contrails, just for a three day period, we see an immediate response of the surface of temperature. Do the same thing globally we might see a large scale increase in Global Warming."
Are chemtrails shoving us toward a dead end?
While the greenhouse effect has been warming the planet, contrails, chemtrails and other air pollutants have been cooling it down. So the warming caused by carbon dioxide has been hidden from us by the cooling from air pollution - especially highly reflectant chemtrails.
Reduce air pollution from chemtrails and carbon burning and the world could get considerably hotter.
"It may already be happening," reports the BBC. "In Western Europe the steps we have taken to cut air pollution have started to bear fruit in a noticeable improvement in air quality and even a slight reduction in Global Dimming over the last few years. Yet at the same time, after decades in which they held steady, European temperatures have started rapidly to rise culminating in the savage summer of 2003. Forest fires devastated Portugal. Glaciers melted in the Alps. And in France people died by the thousand. Could this be the penalty of reducing Global Dimming without tackling the root cause of Global Warming?"
"We lived in a Global Warming plus a Global Dimming world, and now we are taking out Global Dimming. So we end up with the Global Warming world, which will be much worse than we thought it will be, much hotter," warns climatologist Dr. Beate Liepert.
Climatologists like Dr. Peter Cox of Britain's Hadley Centre, Met Office "have begun to worry that Global Dimming has led them to underestimate the true power of Global Warming. They fear that the Earth could be far more vulnerable to greenhouse gases than they had previously thought," broadcast the BBC.
"We're gonna be in a situation unless we act where the cooling pollutant is dropping off while the warming pollutant is going up, CO2 will be going up and particles will be dropping off and that means we'll get an accelerated warming. We'll get a double whammy, we'll get reducing cooling and increased heating at the same time," Cox splutters.
"We've got two competing effects really, that we've got the greenhouse effect, which has tended to warm up the climate. But then we've got this other effect that's much stronger than we thought, which is a cooling effect that comes from particles in the atmosphere. And they're competing with one another. If it turns out that the cooling is stronger than we thought, then the warming also is a lot stronger than we thought, and that means the climate's more sensitive to carbon dioxide than we originally thought, and it means our models may be under sensitive to carbon dioxide."
The BBC learned that curtailing chemtrails and industrial air pollution could see temperatures rising "twice as fast as they previously thought with irreversible damage just 25 years away."
Yet, if we do not drastically curtail carbon emissions immediately, "we could have a Global Warming exceeding two degrees," says Dr. Cox. "Ultimately it would lead to a sea level rise of seven or eight meters."
With most of the world's population situated on or near coastlines, a one-meter sea level rise is considered catastrophic. As world temperatures spike, no amount of carbon emission abatement will prevent a complete meltdown of ice caps - with ultimate sea level rise measured in hundreds of feet.
Tropical rainforests will wither and catch fire, releasing more megatons of carbon dioxide into an overstressed atmosphere, driving Global Warming still further and melting even more methane from the permafrost and ocean seafloor. If ten-thousand billion tons of methane burp into the atmosphere, the world will become at least 10 degrees hotter. Earth will experience temperatures unknown over the last four billion years.
"Ten degree warming in a hundred years is catastrophic," Cox concludes. "Ten degree warming in a hot country already makes it essentially uninhabitable."
TO CHEMTRAIL OR NOT TO CHEMTRAIL
This is why University of Calgary's David Keith urges the introduction of geoengineering experiments on a global scale "sooner rather than later."
But more chemtrails are not the answer.
Ken Caldeira publicly worries that massive aerial spraying would cool the stratosphere by diverting incoming sunlight, creating CFC-laden ice-clouds that "could destroy the ozone layer."
[Chemtrails Confirmed 2010 by William Thomas]
In 2002, the Associated Press and CBS News confirmed that Earth's sunscreen "appears poised" for the recovery they'd been long reporting. [CSIRO Telecommunications and Industrial Physics, Australia Feb 28/02]
That winter, the protective ozone layer over the Arctic thinned to the lowest levels since records. At high altitudes, 50% of the protective layer was destroyed.
As Professor John Pyle explains, "We thought things would start to get better because of the phasing out of CFCs and other chemicals because of the Montreal protocol, but this has not happened. The pollution levels have levelled off but changes in the atmosphere have made it easier for the chemical reactions to take place that allow pollutants to destroy ozone."
Because their engines deposit vast amounts of ozone-destroying nitrogen oxides directly into the stratospheric ozone layer, non-stop jet traffic - including chemtrail spray tankers - are largely to blame. For every 1% thinning of the ozone layer there is a 2% to 3% rise in skin cancer. Currently, more than one person is dying from melanoma every hour.
Increased UV-B also causes cataracts, even if dark glasses are worn. Besides harming many species, excess solar radiation cuts photosynthesis in plants, reducing the size and yield of winter wheat and other crops - while frying oceanic phytoplankton on which all life ultimately depends. [WMO 2002; Rachel's Jan 5/87]
And Professor Alan Robock insists that further tampering with Earth's interlocking atmospheric processes could create famines and droughts, threatening the lives of no less than one in every three persons on Earth.
Robock should know. He worked on the Global Dimming dilemma with Prof. Farquhar. Now this Rutgers University professor declares that geoengineering experiments (a.k.a. stepped-up chemtrails) "could create disasters, damaging the ozone layer and potentially altering the stratosphere by eliminating weather patterns such as the annual Asian monsoon rain season, which two-billion people rely upon to water their crops and feed the population.
"If you fiddle with the radiative balance of the planet, you affect all sorts of circulation patterns like monsoons, which would have horrible effects on people," Dr. Cox concludes. "So it would be extremely difficult, in fact impossible, to cancel out the greenhouse effect just by carrying on pumping out particles." [BBC Apr 19/09]
In this Last Chance Century, the time to stop chemtrails and other geoengineering - and curtail carbon emissions - is now.
Science stunner: Vast East Siberian Arctic Shelf methane stores destabilizing and venting (March 4, 2010) http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/04/science-nsf-tundra-permafrost-methane-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-venting/
NSF issues world a wake-up call: "Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming. -- Methane release from the not-so-perma-frost is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle. Research published in Fridays journal Science finds a key lid on the large sub-sea permafrost carbon reservoir near Eastern Siberia is clearly perforated, and sedimentary CH4 [methane] is escaping to the atmosphere.Scientists learned last year that the permafrost permamelt contains a staggering 1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, about twice as much carbon as contained in the atmosphere, much of which would be released as methane. Methane is is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years! The carbon is locked in a freezer in the part of the planet warming up the fastest (see Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss). Half the land-based permafrost would vanish by mid-century on our current emissions path (see Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return and below). No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.The new Science study, led by University of Alaskas International Arctic Research Centre and the Russian Academy of Sciences, is Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (subs. reqd). The must-read National Science Foundation press release (click here), warns Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming. The NSF is normally a very staid organization. If they are worried, everybody should be.It is increasingly clear that if the world strays significantly above 450 ppm atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide for any length of time, we will find it unimaginably difficult to stop short of 800 to 1000 ppm. CLIP
Methane Releases From Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated (March 4, 2010) http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116532&org=NSF&from=news
Thawing by climate change of subsea layer of permafrost may release stores of underlying, seabed methane -- A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov. The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is starting to leak large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming. "The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world's oceans," said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF's International Arctic Research Center. "Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap." Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is released from previously frozen soils in two ways. When the organic material (which contains carbon) stored in permafrost thaws, it begins to decompose and, under anaerobic conditions, gradually releases methane. Methane can also be stored in the seabed as methane gas or methane hydrates and then released as subsea permafrost thaws. These releases can be larger and more abrupt than those that result from decomposition. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane-rich area that encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean. It is more than three times as large as the nearby Siberian wetlands, which have been considered the primary Northern Hemisphere source of atmospheric methane. Shakhova's research results show that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is already a significant methane source, releasing 7 teragrams of methane yearly, which is as much as is emitted from the rest of the ocean. A teragram is equal to about 1.1 million tons. "Our concern is that the subsea permafrost has been showing signs of destabilization already," she said. "If it further destabilizes, the methane emissions may not be teragrams, it would be significantly larger." CLIP
Weather control is no myth: Scientists engineer thunderstorms over Abu Dhabi
by Mike Adams - January 13, 2011
Discussions of weather control technology used to be limited to the hushed gossip of conspiracy theorists, but it turns out the conspiracy theorists were right (again). Today in Abu Dhabi, scientists have successfully manipulated entire weather systems, causing up to fifty downpours of rain across the Al Ain region the desert nation over the last year.
It's all being accomplished by a team of scientists working for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of United Arab Emirates. They have erected entire fields of giant ionizers to generate waves of negative ions which rise into the lower atmosphere and attract dust particles. The dust particles, in turn, attract condensation from the ambient air, and when enough condensation is achieved, the clouds can't hold the water anymore and a downpour of rain is unleashed. The whole system was devices by a Swiss company named Metro Systems International.
What I find really interesting in all this is that, for decades, the so-called "skeptics" have insisted that all this talk about weather control is pure conspiracy theory. If you tell a typical conventional doctor that "weather control technology can make it rain in the desert," they'll look at you as if you were some kind of nut.
But it turns out the skeptics are getting soaked over this issue, as usual. This technology is up and running right now, bringing rain to Abu Dhabi at a fraction of the cost of desalination plants. The conspiracy theorists were right yet again about the existence of weather control technology. Jesse Ventura even did a show on it last year on his Conspiracy Theory series: Remember the episode about HAARP? (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.) Watch that episode on NaturalNews. TV right now: http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=E3CADA3AE2B04FB92F27BB09C8AE19FB
HAARP appears to be an experimental weather control technology being operated by the U.S. government right now, shrouded in secrecy. The field of HAARP ionizers looks eerily similar to those set up in Abu Dhabi (http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/), and the entire project is understood by those who have really looked into it as a "weather weapon" capable of "potentially triggering floods, droughts, hurricanes and earthquakes." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/pandora/haarp.html)
Today we know that weather control technology works. It's up and running right now in Abu Dhabi, and there's little question that controlling the weather has many applications, including military and economic applications.
So for those who raise their eyebrows when you say "weather control," just answer them with "Abu Dhabi." Fifty thunderstorms prove it already works.
Date: 17 Jan 2011
From: "Ben Wikler - Avaaz.org" (email@example.com)
Subject: Amazon under threat
Last Wednesday, Brazil's top environmental regulator resigned in refusal to license a project that experts say would be an ecological disaster: the Belo Monte Dam Complex, which would carve a scar bigger than the Panama Canal into the heart of the Amazon.
The mega-dam would flood huge tracts of rainforest and displace thousands of indigenous people. The companies who would profit from the dam have been trying to bulldoze past environmental laws -- and want to break ground within weeks.
The Amazon is a global treasure, and a worldwide outcry is needed now. The resignation could clear the way for the dam's license--or, if enough of us raise our voices, it could mark a turning point against the project. Let's make this a defining moment on the world stage for Brazil's new President Dilma. Sign the emergency petition to Dilma to stop Belo Monte and protect the Amazon -- it will be delivered spectacularly with Avaaz's indigenous partners in Brazil's capital, let's get 300,000 signatures:
Eletronorte, the company who will profit most from Belo Monte, is demanding that the license to start construction be issued even if the project does not meet environmental standards.
Experts and officials who study the proposed dam overwhelmingly reject it as a catastrophe in the making. Abelardo Bayma Azevedo, who stepped down last week as president of Brazil's environmental agency, is not the first resignation caused by pressure to allow Belo Monte; his predecessor stepped down for the same reason last year, as did Brazil's Minister for the Environment -- among other top officials. Now, it's up to us to ensure that these resignations, and decades of protest within Brazil, will not be in vain.
Belo Monte would flood at least 400,000 acres of rainforest, affect hundreds of kilometres of the Xingu river, and displace over 40,000 people, including indigenous communities of 18 different ethnic groups who depend on the Xingu for their subsistence. It is so economically risky that the government has had to turn to public funds for most of the $16 billion investment. And the dam would be one of Brazil's least efficient, operating at only 10% capacity for the dry months from July to October.
The dam's backers argue that it will supply Brazil's growing energy needs. But a far greater, greener, and cheaper supply of energy is available: energy efficiency. A WWF study found that efficiency alone could save the equivalent of 14 Belo Monte dams by 2020. The benefits of a truly green approach would go to everyone, rather than a handful of powerful corporations. But it's only the corporations who hire lobbyists and wield political muscle -- unless enough of us, in the global public, raise our voices, and ensure that Dilma faces a real choice for Brazil's future.
Belo Monte's construction could start as early as February. Brazil's Minister of Energy and Mining, Edson Lobão, says the next license will be approved soon -- we need to stop Belo Monte before the bulldozers move in. Lets welcome Dilma into the presidency with a massive outcry to do the right thing: stop Belo Monte!
Brazil might be the world's best hope for progress against climate change, and for bringing North and South countries together on the most hopeful common ground. Now, that hope resides in President Dilma. By calling together for her to reject the Belo Monte dam and pursue a better path, we invite her to live up to that opportunity -- and to help build a future that all of us, from the tribes along the Xingu to the grandchildren of today's city dwellers, can be proud of.
Ben, Graziela, Alice, Ricken, Rewan, and the whole Avaaz.org team
Brazil's environment chief resigns over controversial Amazon dam (January 14, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0114-belo_monte_ibama.html
The president of Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA has resigned over pressure to grant a license for the Belo Monte dam, a hydroelectric project on the Xingu River that faces strong opposition from environmental groups and indigenous tribes, reports O Globo. Abelardo Bayma Azevedo, the head of IBAMA, reportedly refused to grant the license due to environmental concerns. Azevedo was said to be under pressure from the country's Ministry of Mines and Energy to approve the license. Azevedo's resignation is strikingly similar to Marina Silva's resignation as Minister of Environment in 2008. She too was pressured by development interests intent on expanding dams and mining in the Amazon. Belo Monte is among the most controversial of some 146 major dams planned in the Amazon basin over the next two to three decades. The dam, which will be the world's third largest, will flood 500 square miles of rainforest and displace at least 12,000 people in the region. Scientists say the dam will block a critical corridor for migratory fish and trigger greenhouse gas emissions from rotting vegetation. $17 billion project is fiercely opposed by indigenous groups, which say it will destroy livelihoods and ruin their way of life. Amazon Watch, an environmental group protesting the dam, released a Google Earth animation on the dam last year. CLIP
This week marks the second anniversary of the horror inflicted on the people of the Gaza Strip. Nothing has changed! Gaza has returned to its pre-invasion state of siege, confronted with the usual international indifference. Two years after the Israeli assault that lasted 22 long days and dark nights, during which its brave people were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world, Gaza no longer makes the news. Its people die slowly, its children are malnourished, its water contaminated, and yet it is deprived even of a word of sympathy from the President the United States and the leaders of Europe.
The dehumanization of the Palestinians of Gaza continues unabated. But now the urgent question is how to hold Israel accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights in order to forestall further escalation.
One way to begin holding Israel accountable is through direct witness and citizen solidarity. For example, on December 27, an Asian aid convoy comprising of politicians and activists from 18 countries will arrive in Gaza in an attempt to break Israel's four year siege and to remind the world of the cruel consequences of the siege and the massacre. It is one f the remarkable undertakings by international Civil Society organizations that have decided to take action into their own hand after the miserable failure of the "International Community." Some of those activists experienced first hand what it means to show true solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza when nine Turkish actists were brutally murdered in broad-day light on Mavi Marmara.
While in Gaza, The convoy's activists will undoubtedly hear stories that will curdle the blood. During the massacre, one Israeli soldier commented, "That's what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn't have to be with a weapon, you don't have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him."
Israel could not have carried out its brutal assault, preceded and followed by a punishing siege, without a green light from leading world powers. When Israel attacked Gaza in February/March 2008, Matan Vilnai, then-deputy minister of defense (a misnomer for an aggressive, occupying power), threatened a "greater Shoah" (Holocaust). Some 102 Palestinians, including 21 children, were killed.
The reaction of the international community? Absolutely nothing substantive. On the contrary, the EU decided to reward the aggressor by upgrading its trade agreements with Israel. This upgrade in early December 2008 gave the go-ahead for the larger Gaza massacre of 2009 in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed: the majority of them civilians. But now, in spite of Israeli war crimes, both the US and the EU continue to strengthen ties with Israel.
The resemblance of Israel's violent campaign of domination to that of the apartheid South African regime has recently been articulated by the anti-Apartheid freedom fighter and former South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils: "[It] is not difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians - women, children, the elderly amongst them."
The South African apartheid regime came under repeated pressure as the United Nations Security Council passed one resolution after another condemning its inhumane treatment of blacks. This gave much-needed succor to the oppressed, while we Palestinians, today, are bereft of even this tiny comfort because the United States continues to use its veto to ensure that Israel escapes censure.
Today, there is a growing grassroots struggle inside Palestine, much as there was inside apartheid South Africa. An intensified international solidarity movement with a common agenda can make the struggle for Palestine resonate in every country in the world. Our goal now, as civil society organizations, is to lift the siege against Gaza. To accomplish this, many activists, Palestinian and international, have launched a boycott campaign modeled on the global South African anti-apartheid campaign. This campaign is a democratic movement based on the struggle for human rights and the implementation of international law. Our struggle is not religious, ethnic, nor racial, but rather universalist; it is a struggle that guarantees the humanization of our people in the face of a dreadful Israeli war machine.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights, has said, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." While the Israeli armed forces were bombing my neighborhood, the UN, EU, Arab League and the international community remained silent in the face of atrocities. Hundreds of corpses of children and women failed to convince them to intervene.
Gaza 2009, like the Sharpeville 1960 massacre, cannot be ignored. It demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. Nelson Mandela pointed the way to this shared humanity when years ago he stated, "But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."
Now is the time to boycott the Apartheid Israeli state, to divest from its economy and to impose sanctions against it. This is the only way to ensure the creation of a secular, democratic state for all its inhabitants in historic Palestine regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity.
Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University and a policy advisor with Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.
California Attorney General Issues Title and Summary for Divest from Israel Initiative http://IsraelDivestmentCampaign.org/
The Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) is the first citizens' effort in the country to appeal directly to voters to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law and human rights.Following the September 1st official assignment of a Title and Summary by the Attorney General, the IDC launched the signature gathering process. At least 434,000 registered California voters must sign the official petition by January 31, 2011. Only 14 days left until the end of signature gathering! [AS OF JAN 17, 2011] If successful, the measure will appear on the next statewide ballot after March 2011. Then, if approved by a majority of voters, it will become California law. This means that the two public retirement systems, the Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), would be required to engage in a divestment process with corporations providing equipment and services to Israel that are used in the violation of human rights and international law, including but not limited to the building of the "Separation Wall" and settlements. If you share our concern for a just peace, we hope that you will join the campaign and help us gather signatures in your community. Please click on Petition Toolkit to find out how you can participate.
Australian local council joins Israel boycott (December 21, 2010) http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/12/21/2742258/australian-local-council-joins-israel-boycott
SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) -- A local council in Australia that has a sister-city relationship with Bethlehem voted to join the international boycott of Israel. The Marrickville Council in inner Sydney voted 10-2 on Dec. 14 to support a ban on any government, academic, trade, sporting or cultural ties with Israel.The council, which is dominated by members of the Green and Labor parties, first raised the ire of the Jewish community with its 2007 vote to adopt the sister-city relationship with Bethlehem. (...) The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement also has garnered the support of the New South Wales Greens Party, which unanimously endorsed the boycott earlier this month, as did some Australian trade unions.
Disinvestment from Israel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divestment_from_Israel
Disinvestment from Israel is a campaign conducted by religious and political entities which aims to use disinvestment to pressure the government of Israel to put "an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories captured during the 1967 military campaign." The disinvestment campaign is related to other economic and political boycotts of Israel. A notable campaign was initiated in 2002 and endorsed by South Africa's Desmond Tutu. Tutu said that the campaign against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories and its continued settlement expansion should be modeled on the successful historical, but controversial, disinvestment campaign against South Africa's apartheid system. CLIP
BOYCOTT ISRAEL - Very comprehensive!! http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-israel.php
People of good conscience have chosen to boycott israeli products and companies supporting the zionist entity. Their ethical purchasing decision however is frustrated by the lack of accurate information as to which companies to boycott.We have carried out extensive research to identify the guilty companies. All our findings are provided here. Where ever possible, we have included full references for the source of our information so that you may independently verify its accuracy and understand exactly how each company is contributing its support to israel. We thank all those organizations who's research we have utilized. CLIP Check for instance the COMPANIES TO BOYCOTT and click on each company's name for details of their involvement with and support of Israel.
SPORTS BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-israel.php#sports
Sports is one of the few realms in which the international community fully recognises the Palestinian state. Perhaps its for this reason that Israel seems to have particularly targeted Palestinian sports.Israel has made it impossible with its blockades, checkpoints and travel restrictions for Palestinian sportsmen and women to even meet together to practice as a team - the first time the players of women's football team all met each other was in Jordon at an international match!In addition, Israel destroys or prevents access to the very limited training facilities available on the occupied territories. Last April (2006) FIFA condemned the israeli direct strike on Gaza Stadium which it deemed was "without any reason". Israel routinely prevent Palestinian sportsmen from attending international sports competitions. In 2004 five players were prevented from travelling to the World Cup qualifier game against Uzbekistan - as a result Palestine failed to qualify.Those players who had managed to attend the Uzbekistan match were punished on their return - after crossing from the Egyptian border to return to Rafah - a distance of just 100 metres took them 40 hours due to israeli checkpoints! Then upon reaching his home, Ziad Al Kourd discovered his house in the Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah had been demolished by the Israeli army! Earlier the israelis had killed Palestine's talented midfielder Tarek al-Quto in the West Bank. Even the children are not spared. A disproportionably high number of Palestinian children are shot whilst playing football. All of this whilst Israeli sportsmen and women travel freely around the world to compete in any competition they choose, without any regard or responsibility for what their country is doing to the Palestinians. Its not surprising then to discover that following the Jenin massacre and the israeli football team visiting Scotland were practically all serving soldiers, no doubt wanting a break after the dirty massacre. [Note from Jean: After researching this claim of an alleged "massacre", I found what actually happened in these 2 Wikipedia entries - Battle of Jenin and Talk:Battle of Jenin - "Based on figures provided by the Jenin hospital and the IDF, the UN report placed the death toll at 52 Palestinian deaths, half of whom were thought to be civilians. In 2004, Haaretz journalists Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff wrote that 23 Israelis had died and 52 had been wounded; Palestinian casualties were 53 dead, hundreds wounded and about 200 captured. (...) Human Rights Watch reported that 27 militants and 22 civilians were killed during the IDF incursion, and said that "Many of them were killed willfully or unlawfully, and in some cases constituted war crimes." (...) Subsequent investigations and reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Time Magazine, and the BBC all concluded there was no massacre of civilians."] The sports boycott exists as a way to express people's growing outrage over Israeli occupation and war crimes and the world community's failure to act. Its a peaceful means of putting international pressure on the state of Israel. If politicians won't act people must!
Global boycotts of Israel intensify after bloody Flotilla attack (4 June 2010) http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11318.shtml
Israel's bloody attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May killing at least nine and injuring dozens of activists carrying humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, has already intensified global actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it respects international law and human rights, including endorsement by major trade unions in several countries.
(...) Following the attacks opinion polls in Norway show a major increase in support for BDS. The number respondents planning to boycott Israeli products had increased from 9.5 to 43 percent. Norwegian minister of education and leader of the Socialist Left Party, Kristin Halvorsen, called for an international boycott of arms trade with Israel following Norway's existing policy. There is also an intensification of the sporting boycott as Swedish young footballers refused to play in Israel, following a similar decision of the Turkish youth football team who were in Israel at the time of the Flotilla attack but canceled their planned match and returned home.
(...) All these actions indicate growing support for the sentiment expressed by Scottish writer Iain Banks who emphasized the need for academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Writing in The Guardian the renowned science fiction author argued that the best way for international artists, writers and academics to "convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation" is "simply by having nothing more to do with this outlaw state."
Points of Unity - For Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on behalf of Palestinian rights http://boycottisrael.info/content/points-unity
We, Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, join the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel, inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid. We also call on others to do the same. As people devoted to the promotion of just peace and true democracy in this region, we are especially opposed to the international community's decision to boycott the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is particularly outrageous given the international community's prolonged support of Israel's apartheid and other daily violations of international law. We are deeply concerned about the potentially irreversible damage inflicted on Palestinians by both Israeli brutal occupation and international policies and have come to the conclusion that the occupation will end only when its cost for Israelis, its elites in particular, outweighs the benefits. In light of attacks on boycott supporters, we emphasize that a critical stance against the occupation, including explicit BDS actions taken by individuals and organizations, are not Anti-Semitic. On the contrary, only resistance of this kind as part of the struggle for peace based on justice and equality will enable a common future for Arabs and Jews in the region. We endorse the Palestinian call as is. We stand against all forms of racism and oppression and support and encourage BDS actions as a legitimate political activity and a necessary means of non-violent resistance. We will act inside and outside Israel to promote awareness and support of BDS.
MEANWHILE IN CANADA...
Canada's double standards (13 January 2011) http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11731.shtml
Canada's tax system currently subsidizes Israeli settlements that Ottawa deems illegal, however, the Conservative government says there's nothing that can be done about it. (...) This means Canadian organizations can openly fundraise for settlements Ottawa (officially) deems illegal under international law and get the government to pay up to a third of the cost through tax credits for donations.
(...) The exact amount is not known but it's safe to assume that millions of Canadian dollars make their way to Israeli settlements every year. In 1997, when it was more of a legal grey area, tax lawyer David Drache claimed that "there are hundreds of [Canadian] organizations ... supporting organizations directly or indirectly beyond the Green Line," referring to the internationally-recognized armistice line between Israel and the occupied West Bank. In the late 1990s, Israel's largest settler group, Yesha, raised more than $700,000 a year in Canada. When former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited in the mid-1990s, the Canadian Arab Federation's Jehad Aliweiwi said he "left with more than $1 million in tax-deductible funds, with no secret as to the destination." Through the 1990s the Press Foundation was probably the largest known source of funds for settlements, raising as much as $5 million annually for settlers in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron and in the occupied Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria in 1967.Illegal settlements are not the only questionable activities in Israel that Canadians subsidize through their tax system. A mid-1990s survey found more than 300 registered Canadian charities with ties to Israel, a relatively wealthy country. Every year Canadians send a few hundred million dollars worth of tax-deductible donations to Israeli universities, parks, immigration initiatives and, more controversially, "charities" that aid the Israeli army in one way or another. CLIP
Vanessa Paradis cancels Israel concert (January 18, 2011) http://www.cjpme.org/DisplayDocument.aspx?DocumentID=1388&SaveMode=0
On Jan. 15, the Israeli organizers of French pop singer Vanessa Paradiss February concert in Tel Aviv announced that the singer was cancelling. David Stern, President of Stern & Lights Group, asserted that the singer had cancelled for professional reasons,although Israeli and international media reported that the cultural boycott of Israel likely had a role. Ynet News, for example, noted that Paradis Tel Aviv concert was the only appearance of Paradiss current tour to be cancelled. Paradis had been the recipient in recent weeks of hundreds of letters from human rights activists appealing to her to cancel the concert in view of Israels treatment of the Palestinians. Pressure on international performing artists to refrain from appearing in Israel has mounted in recent months. Several international artistsElvis Costello, the Pixies, Gorillaz Sound system, Coldplay, Santana, Gil Scott-Heron and othershave cancelled concerts. Some, for example Costello, have been open about the fact that it was the situation of the Palestinians that had moved them to do so Others have simply quietly cancelled, leaving the media to speculate about their motives. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East welcomes Paradiss decision. Boycotting Israelis an extremely effective way of letting the Israeli government know that its unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated by the international community. This boycott is neither anti-Israel nor anti-Semitic. It is an age-old means of protest and pressure, says CJPME President Thomas Woodley. CJPME notes that Israel has repeatedly flouted international law and dozens of UN resolutions condemning Israeli actions on a whole range of issues. In 2005, 170 organizations of Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to be applied against Israel. CLIP - More from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East through http://www.cjpme.org/
BACK IN ISRAEL...
Israel demolishes homes and classroom in West Bank village (14 January 2011)
SUCH SENSELESS INHUMANITY! SHAME ON ZIONIST ISRAEL! http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/view-from-jerusalem-with-harriet-sherwood/2011/jan/14/palestinian-territories-israel
Children taught outdoors after bulldozers reduce unauthorised buildings to rubble - In a bleak but beautiful landscape of undulating stony hills I watched a group of Palestinian schoolchildren take their lessons yesterday in the open air next to a heap of rubble that, until this week, was their classroom.This is the village of Dkaika, about as far south in the West Bank as you can get. It's a community of around 300 people, without electricity or running water, whose days are spent tending their herds of goats and sheep and trying not to attract the attention of nearby Jewish settlers. On Wednesday, at about 7.30am, a convoy of military vehicles and bulldozers arrived to tear down 16 homes, an animal pen, a store and one of the village school's classrooms. All were subject to demolition orders, granted because the structures were built without permission, which is almost impossible for Palestinians to get around here. Dkaika is in Area C, under full Israeli military and civil control, which accounts for 60% of the West Bank.At the time there were dozens of children inside the school. The soldiers tried to prevent the its three teachers from entering the building. Sulaima Najadah, 38, who has taught English at the school since last September, told me that he sneaked in to reassure the crying children."I was in this class," he said, pointing to the pile of twisted metal and masonry. "The soldiers took us out by force."The teachers were handcuffed and blindfolded in front of their pupils before the bulldozers moved in. One girl, Mariam Odeh, 13, said she had been afraid the classroom would be demolished over their heads. Twelve-year-old Nayfeh Ka'abneh lost her home as well as her classroom. That night she slept in a tent. "It wasn't comfortable," she said, shyly twisting the ends of her headscarf. "We want to rebuild our home." In another tent, with a rug laid over bare stony ground and a small fire burning in a corner, Fida Najada, 24, said she had no money to reconstruct her home. Her husband, who was tending herds far from the village, did not yet know it had been demolished. Pregnant and with a small boy clinging to her legs, Najada had no idea how long she would have to live under canvas. Between 50 and 60 people were made homeless by Wednesday's demolitions, adding to the 478 - many of them children - displaced in Area C in 2010, according to figures from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The number for the previous year was 319.Residents had believed the demolition orders were on hold while a plan to regularise the village was considered by the Israeli authorities.They did not deny that buildings were erected without permission. Palestinian building is rarely approved in Area C, in contrast to permits for settlement expansion. The area has been inhabited by Palestinians since the Ottoman era, locals said. Its population swelled when families moved across the Green Line from the Negev after the war in 1948. A spokesman for the Israeli military told me yesterday afternoon he would make inquiries about the demolitions. I will post any comment from the IDF on the thread below when it comes through.
AND IN GAZA...
PHR-Israel Report: "Humanitarian Minimum" - Food Insecurity in Gaza, 2010 (Jan 8, 2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtaGV8SU5dA
A report published (9.1.11) by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, "Humanitarian Minimum -- Israel's Role in Creating Food and Water Insecurity in Gaza," examines the effects of the Israeli blockade policy that began in June 2007 on public health in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Cabinet Decision to ease restrictions on selected goods in the wake of the flotilla and subsequent international pressure are not expected to change this situation significantly, as they do not facilitate economic recovery and are based on the assumption that foreign humanitarian aid will continue. READ the full report - and see THIS
Palestinians have already given up so much since 1948. It's up to Israel to end its campaign of ethnic cleansing for the peace process to move forward.
Israel's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, paints a picture of an innocent Israel yearning for peace, virtually begging the intransigent Palestinians to come negotiate so there can be a "two-states-for-two-peoples solution" ("Who's stopping the peace process?" Dec. 14). But it's one that bears no resemblance to the realities Palestinians experience and much of the world sees every day.
Ayalon claims that the settlements Israel refuses to stop building on occupied land are a "red herring" and present no obstacles to peace because in the "43 years since Israel gained control of the West Bank, the built-up areas of the settlements constitute less than 1.7% of the total area."
But let us remind ourselves of a few facts that are not in dispute. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo peace agreement in 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has tripled to more than half a million. Ayalon's deceptive focus on the "built-up areas" ignores the reality that the settlements now control 42% of the West Bank, according to a report last July from the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.
B'Tselem points out that there are now more than 200 Israeli settlements "that are connected to one another, and to Israel, by an elaborate network of roads." These roads, along with various "security zones" from which Palestinians are excluded, cut across Palestinian land and isolate Palestinians in miserable and often walled, ghetto-like enclaves.
While Israel's violent actions in occupied East Jerusalem have gotten a little bit of attention, its silent ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley has attracted almost none. Israel has reduced the Jordan Valley's population of 200,000 indigenous Palestinians to just 60,000 by demolishing their villages and declaring vast areas of this vital region off-limits to them.
Israel's settlement project has one goal: to make Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a two-state solution impossible. With no prospect of drawing a line between Israeli and Palestinian populations, it's time to recognize that Israel has succeeded and what we have today is an apartheid reality across Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Prominent Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola recently told the Jerusalem Post that Jews already constitute just under 50% of the population in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip combined. In effect, a Jewish minority rules over a majority population that includes 1.4 million Palestinian (second-class) citizens of Israel, 2.5 million Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and another 1.5 million under siege in the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip. All credible projections show that Palestinians will be the decisive majority within a few years.
This injustice is intolerable. Under Israel's policies and the refusal of the United States to exert any real pressure, there will be no end to it, and the prospects for catastrophic bloodshed increase.
Absent any real action by the United States or other governments to hold Israel accountable, it is up to civil society to step in. When black South Africans saw the world doing nothing about apartheid in the 1950s, they called on global civil society to impose a boycott, divest from the country and pass sanctions. By the 1970s and '80s, such campaigns were mainstream in U.S. churches, campuses and communities, and politicians who had been reluctant to support sanctions on South Africa eventually came aboard.
This movement is not an end in itself but a vehicle to get us down the road to a just peace built on equality for Israelis and Palestinians. Israel's policies, typified by the disingenuous diversions of Ayalon, have left us with no other choice.
Note from Jean: Check the Customers' reviews for this book above! It seems like a great solution!
Example #1: "I came into the book committed to a two-country solution; I came out of it convinced that Abunimah is right and we need one fully democratic country in Israel of Palestine. Ali is passionate, honest about the difficulties, and filled with persuasive arguments. He writes openly and intimately, going into detail on how difficult the situation is for all sides, and proposing some very reasonable solutions. I appreciated most his use of the example of apartheid in South Africa. Others have spoken recently of the similarities between Israel and South Africa, but Abunimah goes further, speaking of how the Palestinians themselves now refer to their ghettos as bantustans. Then Abunimah uses this very example to show how we can have real hope for change, even in this most intractable of dilemmas. South Africa now becomes not the pariah state, but the hope for real change in an intractable situation, and real lasting peace. Thank you Ali Abunimah for being courageous enough to speak that which dare not be named, to suggest that the original ideas had some merit, and to go beyond the rhetoric to bring us hope."
Example #2: "I plead with anyone who has been concerned with the struggle in Palestine-Israel to read this amazing book. In a very low-key way, Abunimah points out that the two populations are inextricably intertwined, both by geography and the cultural similarities that living together naturally engenders and the injustices that continue to flow from the current dominance of the Israeli state over the area. Oppressed and oppressor is a social relationship, if a very unhealthy one. It is a small book with a big idea: allow yourself to think beyond the artificial borders now imposed. Two historically rich cultures are being killed by the attempt to separate them when a blending to the extent possible would save them and might even create opportunities to make them greater. Abunimah points to South Africa's Freedom Charter that ensured justice for both whites and blacks in a new South Africa as a model that could save this important area of the world from the violent downward spiral it is in right now. The basic injustice involved is stubbornly not acknowledged by world leaders and has become a source of conflict beyond Israel-Palestine. Abunimah has an unvarnished view of this injustice and the way to acknowledge it but at the same time build a path forward for the two peoples, together. He acknowledges the difficulties, both in a South Africa that has not gained full equality yet but is hopeful of doing so, and in starting the process in Israel-Palestine which requires some of the same seemingly drastic changes in thinking. However, there are both Israelis and Palestinians who have come to the same conclusion and see the only hope in this concept. Let's hope that this book will encourage others to think outside the artificially imposed boxes we have placed ourselves in."
YET THE TWO-STATE "SOLUTION" STILL HAS THE UPPER HAND...
'Domino Effect'? More Countries Recognize Independent Palestine (January 16, 2011) http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/01/16-2
Norway to be first EU nation to recognize Palestine?-- JERUSALEM - Guyana became Thursday the seventh Latin American state to recognize an independent Palestinian state. Although the official recognitions are largely nominal, they have irked the State of Israel as they expose its growing diplomatic isolation in the face of the current peace deadlock. It was the announcement in support of Palestinian statehood by Brazil on Dec. 3 that inspired other countries in the continent to follow suit. Since then, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and now Guyana, have all offered such recognition. Paraguay and Peru are expected to do so soon. Venezuela had already recognized Palestine in the mid-2000s. Israeli officials fear a 'domino effect' - Recently, Norway upgraded the Palestinian representative office in Oslo from a 'general delegation' to a 'diplomatic delegation'. And over the past four months, several countries, including none other than the U.S. (followed by other Israeli-friendly states such as France, Spain, and Portugal) upgraded the standing of Palestinian representatives.Another hundred or so other countries - most of them developing nations - had recognized 'Palestine' after Yasser Arafat unilaterally declared "independence" in 1988.Other states, mostly from the former Eastern Bloc, recognized Palestinian statehood in the wake of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.At first, when the new string of recognitions began last month, Israel expressed "regret", "sadness" and "disappointment".A Foreign Ministry statement called such moves "counterproductive" and "damaging" to peace, arguing that "to decide in advance in a unilateral manner about important issues which are disputed, only harms trust between the sides, and hurts their commitment to the agreed framework of negotiating towards peace." Then, when Chile made the move to recognize Palestine, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon wrote bluntly in his personal blog, "'The state of Facebook' is more real than 'Palestine'."
(...) Yet, besides sarcastic diatribes, Israel has had an increasingly difficult time coordinating a clear strategy with its U.S. ally against what it sees as a double-barreled challenge.On one hand, more and more states are willing to recognize a future Palestinian state with or without Israel's approval; on the other, Israel faces proportionately increasing diplomatic isolation. Israeli officials are all too aware that unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood "within the 1967 borders" underscores the increasing unwillingness in the international community to wait until Israel and the Palestinians reach a peace deal. Since the U.S.-brokered peace efforts faltered over the issue of a three-month extension of a freeze in Israeli settlement construction, the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas has lobbied nations for recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Last month, the EU staved off Palestinian pressure for such recognition, preferring a wait-and-see approach until the "appropriate" time, while the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution stating that only peace talks could set such a process in motion. In parallel, in a bid to evaluate the viability of a unilateral declaration of independence, the PA started last month to circulate a draft resolution to the members of the UN Security Council. The Palestinian document states that Israeli settlements activities are illegal and are the main obstacle to a two-state solution. In contrast to past similar resolutions which were easily thwarted due to their harsh anti-Israeli character, this draft uses moderate wording. Israeli officials worry that it will be more difficult for the U.S. to veto such a resolution."I wouldn't be surprised if within one year the whole world supports a Palestinian state, including the U.S.," says Benjamin Ben Eliezer, a senior Labour party minister in the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. CLIP
For years I have been rather ambivalent about the wisdom of boycotting Israel. While a boycott of anything related to the illegal settlements in the West Bank, which are a clear derivative of a brutal occupation, is an absolute necessity, and which I have fully supported, I have always been reserved about the boycotting of Israel proper. Today I feel that there is no choice but to call for a full and total boycott directed against Israel - Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS). For the good of Israel and in the hope that blatant pressure from abroad directed primarily at the Israeli economy is the only way to wean Israel from what Thomas Friedman in a recent editorial called "Israel's crack addiction". It is the only way to wake Israelis up from their (crack) pipe dream of "business as usual" or the feasibility of maintaining a disastrous status quo that will only lead to more land grabs, violence and war, ultimately jeopardizing Israel itself. It is the only way to convince present and future governments that the current situation is untenable and unviable. It is the only way to save us from ourselves. At this point in time, Israelis are unable to affect change from within. The atmosphere has become so poisoned that attempts at the grassroots level to affect political change are insignificant at best, particularly in light of attempts at the legislative level to delegitimise grassroots initiatives and make local NGOs seeking to advance political change illegal.
The current Israeli government (as well as past governments, whether led by Labour, Likud or the catch all Kadima party) has zero intention of moving forward with negotiations with the Palestinians. They would much rather "manage" the conflict than seek a truly just solution. The continued occupation is having a disastrous effect on Israeli society as a whole. Human life has become cheap, a form of Judeo-Fascism is developing here, led by rabbis, far right politicians in the Knesset and leaders in the occupied Palestinian territory. Jim Crow legislation has been tabled at the Knesset, rabbis have signed calls not to lease or sell property to Arab Israelis, hundreds demonstrate against Arab Israeli neighbors, and recently a group of minors were arrested for conducting what can only be called pogroms against innocent Arab citizens in the center of Jerusalem. The poison of the occupation has infected Israeli society as a whole at a level that can only be diagnosed as gangrenous. The only way to convince Israelis that the current status quo cannot be continued is to attach a real and significant price to the continued occupation, and yes, to force local political leaders to take responsibility, to lead rather than manage, to commit, rather than hide behind spin doctors or the outright lies of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Anyone who yet rationalises non-action against Israel is actively contributing to the inevitable use of the only other tool world history has provided for social and political change: violence! Please boycott my country today, you are our only hope!
The author chooses to withhold his name for fear of repercussions against his family. The threat is real. Suffice to say that the author is an Israeli academic in the field of the social sciences. While the author is fully prepared to pay the price for his opinions, there is no reason for his family to suffer. The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Israeli Democracy does not protect itself. Now is the time to JOIN Israelis supporting the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
In the past few days ACRI has launched an unprecedented domestic support campaign. The title was "Our Democracy Will Not Protect Itself join ACRI now".
Join the many Israelis moved to respond and make your pledge to Israeli Democracy by supporting ACRI.
What's the situation?
On January 5, the Knesset voted in favor of establishing a parliamentary committee to investigate Israeli human rights NGOs. This initiative is part of the broader harassment campaign waged by the current government against anyone who disagrees with its policies mainly human rights organizations. Under the guise of "increasing transparency" and "objective inquiry," these parliamentary committees - reminiscent of the dark McCarthy Era in American history - eventually aim to weaken human rights groups and make them less effective in exposing, questioning, and effecting democratic accountability.
How are Israelis responding?
In response to these threats Israelis who care for the state of Israeli democracy are stepping up to oppose these anti-democratic initiatives and pledging their support for ACRI:
Retired Judge Boaz Okon in Yediot Aharonot:
"For everyone who firmly believes in equality and staunchly opposes discrimination, now is the time to show your support for ACRI. For all those who believe in freedom of speech and in freedom from religious coercion; for those who believe in worker's rights, in rights of the physically disabled now is the time to donate to ACRI. Your donation is the single clearest response to those attempting to slander, intimidate, and silence the voices of conscience." For the full text of the article, see that attached document.
Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, Vice President of Research at the Israel Democracy
"Ironically, the new committees of inquiry established by the Knesset to 'expose' the truth behind human rights organizations in Israel are in fact intended to disguise the truth ( ) The assault on civil society organizations is not a singular incident. It is part of a general trend of the Putinization of Israeli democracy, through a general offensive on all independent and critical elements within Israeli society, including the Supreme Court and academia."
In a letter sent to Members of Knesset signed by dozens of leading public, cultural, and academic figures in Israel, they called this inquiry committee:
"A black flag now waving over the Israeli house of legislatures Last week the Knesset raised its hand to batter democracy in Israel ( ). When representatives begin to investigate citizens democracy ends."
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) http://www.acri.org.il/eng/
Founded in 1972, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) is the countrys oldest and largest human rights organization and the only one that addresses the entire spectrum of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories. ACRI's work encompasses litigation and legal advocacy, education, and public outreach as the most effective way in which to build toward our long-term vision of a just and democratic society that respects the equal rights of all persons.
The Tunisian uprising that overthrew the 23-year-old regime of strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali had resonances throughout the Middle East. Leaders of countries invested in the regions authoritarian and highly unequal status quo rejected the political revolution, while groups and states that want change welcomed it. The spectacle of masses of demonstrators pouring down Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis on Friday, overwhelming security forces and putting the president to flight, raised the hopes of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, even as it inspired a gathering dread in the breasts of the regions dictators and absolute monarchs. Whether or not, as many observers rushed to predict, a wave of discontent will radiate from Tunis throughout the Arab world (and there are reasons to be cautious about that prospect), the Jasmine Revolution is a Rorschach test for distinguishing reactionaries from innovators in the region.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom worried that the Tunisian events might lead to regime change in other countries. Originally from Tunisia himself, Shalom expressed disquiet that a more democratic Middle East might not share with Tel Aviv a concern with fighting what he called radical fundamentalists, who he said threaten Israel. He was probably talking about the possibility of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egypt or Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel that are likely be abrogated if another government comes to power. It is hypocritical, however, for the Israelis, who are always criticizing the Arab world for being undemocratic, to express such anxiety about the prospect of democratization.
Among the more forthright condemnations in the Arab world of the crowd action ironically came from an old revolutionary and populist, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. An ally of Ben Ali, Gadhafi insisted that the dictator was still the countrys legal president, and was the best person to rule it. He upbraided his Tunisian neighbors for their impatience, since Ben Ali had anyway Thursday pledged to step down in 2014. All the Tunisians had accomplished, he lamented, was to trade out one known president for an unknown one. He also denounced as fabrications the U.S. cables revealed by WikiLeaks that detailed Ben Alis corruption. (A WikiLeaks cable had reported on Gadhafis own foibles, including his voluptuous, ever-present Ukrainian nurse.)
The quirky Libyan leaders cautions were clearly aimed as much at his own people as at Tunis. Although Gadhafi rules brutally, he has been better than other rulers of oil states about sharing the wealth (a notion Ben Ali appears never to have heard of). It is not clear that Libyans, recently able to export and develop their petroleum after years of international boycotts over alleged terrorist acts emanating from their government, want to rock the boat. The only recent major protests in Libya have been by the poor over delays in completing the construction of government-funded housing.
In Jordan, the protests have been more substantive and broadly based. After a big rally condemning unemployment and high food prices Friday, some 3,000 trade unionists, leftists and Muslim fundamentalists staged a protest outside the parliament building in Amman on Sunday. They demanded that Prime Minister Samir Rifai step down in favor of a leader closer to the people, and speakers warmly congratulated the Tunisian people on their victory.
In Iraq, Arab inhabitants of the Kurdish-dominated province of Kirkuk threatened to mount a Tunisian-style uprising against Kurdish security forces and the Kurdish-dominated police. The ethnic super-province of Kurdistan, dominated by the Kurdish ethnic group, which does not speak Arabic, is attempting to annex Kirkuk to itself, alarming Iraqi Arabs who live there and feel they would face discrimination under such a circumstance.
The Lebanese Shiite party-militia, Hezbollah, expressed its pride in what the Tunisians had accomplished, and compared the Tunisian events to the 1978-79 revolution in Iran. Iran, itself shaken by its own popular uprising in summer 2009, has been more measured in its comments. Both Syria and Iran blamed Ben Alis troubles on his overly cozy relationship with a fickle United States.
Every state and movement in the Middle East is reading into the events in Tunisia its own anxieties and aspirations. Powerful states facing opposition such as Libya and Israel were unnerved, and the Tunisians have done us the favor of allowing us to see the similarities between Tripoli and Tel Aviv in this regard. Both appear to feel themselves under siege by rapid and unwelcome change in the region. Oppressed minorities, such as Arabs in Kurdish-dominated areas of Iraq, took heart from the Tunisian achievement. Those movements challenging the status quo, whether Hezbollah in Lebanon or leftists and Muslim fundamentalists in Jordan, were the most vocal in congratulating Tunisia and associating themselves with its achievement. The status quo states afraid of change, including Libya and Israel, have powerful allies in the West and substantial monetary resources. The odds are stacked against people power of the Tunisian sort.
Mood in Tunisia lifts, but revolution may not be over (20 January 2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/20/mood-tunisia-revolution-president
New president promises 'complete break from past' as people return to work amid ongoing discontent -- Tunisia's interim president, Foued Mebazaa, yesterday vowed "a complete break with the past" to calm fears that the revolution was being hijacked by the presence of the dictatorship's ruling party in the interim government. In his first televised speech, Mebazaa promised a "revolution of dignity and freedom" following the ousting of Tunisia's dictator president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, after four weeks of street protests. Mebazaa promised to honour "all the legitimate aspirations of the uprising".Yesterday, as the interim cabinet held its first meeting, around 500 protestors, mostly the radical left and trade unions, took to the streets in central Tunis demanding that the ruling RCD party be excluded. But the mood in the capital was lightening.Unlike previous days, the protesters on Bourguiba Avenue were not teargassed or beaten but were instead allowed to stand peacefully protesting until nightfall. Political prisoners, including a key dissident journalist, began to be released, the curfew was shortened, cafes reopened and people milled to work. In the narrow streets of the old medina, tourists were bartering over bags.On Bourguiba Avenue, Azizi Tej stood in the crowd of demonstrators chanting "Tunisia is free". An activist in the once banned Islamist Ennahda party, he had been imprisoned three times, tortured, had staged a series of hunger strikes, and had now taken to the streets with the secular radical left. He wanted the remnants of Tunisia's old regime, the RCD party, to be excluded from the temporary caretaker government."The Islamists want democracy," Tej said. "Lots of us were tortured, it was our Guantánamo Bay. We've paid a high price and now some people want to paint us as monsters, we're not. My religion teaches that I must accept others. We're proud to share the same God, Jews and Christians are our brothers. We don't refuse women's freedoms, we don't refuse tourism people would die of hunger if we didn't have tourism." CLIP
Tunisia's Cabinet Lifts Political Party Ban (20 January 2011) http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Tunisian-Ministers-Quit-Ruling-Party--114265364.html
Tunisia's new transitional Cabinet has decided to grant recognition to banned political parties and to adopt a general amnesty for political prisoners. Officials announced the decisions Thursday, following the interim government's first Cabinet meeting since last week's ouster of former president Zine El Abidene Ben Ali. The Cabinet also declared a three-day period of mourning that will begin Friday for the victims of the unrest that toppled the government. Meanwhile, Tunisian state television says Mr. Ben Ali's RCD party has announced it has dissolved its leadership committee. The party took the action after many leadership members quit the party in the wake of demands that the new government exclude former ruling party members. However, the state TV report says the party will continue to operate. Earlier Thursday, security forces in Tunis fired warning shots at protesters who gathered outside of the headquarters of the RCD. Large demonstrations also took place in the towns of Gafsa and Kef. The new protests erupted after interim President Fouad Mebazza promised a complete "break with the past," during an address carried on state television late Wednesday.Mr. Mebazza and Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi were among the leadership members who quit the RCD party, in an attempt to distance themselves from the former president. Also Wednesday, state television reported the arrests of 33 members of Mr. Ben Ali's extended family trying to flee the country. The reports showed images of seized gold and jewelry.
Ben Ali: EU set to freeze Tunisian ex-leader's assets (20 January 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12244199
The EU is close to agreeing to a freeze of assets belonging to ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family. Switzerland has already announced plans and France has said it intends to block suspicious financial movements. "There is broad agreement and preparations are ongoing," an EU source told the BBC News website.The proposals, from the EU's External Advisory Service, will be put to foreign ministers later this month.The exact nature of the measures is still to be considered by the EU's 27 member states and the assets the Ben Ali family have in EU countries are not yet clear.In Switzerland, a Tunisian group has said that a building in Geneva and a Falcon 9000 jet are among the family's assets.French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero has called for a list of names of the Ben Ali family and their entourage to be agreed by EU foreign ministers when they next meet on 31 January.As well as agreeing on an assets freeze, EU countries are also keen to help Tunisia hold fair and democratic elections and improve its economy.Among measures being considered are expert assistance in drafting electoral law and a possible liberalisation of trade in agricultural products.
The Lives of Dictators (Jan 18, 2011) http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_lives_of_dictators_20110118/
(...) The deposed president Ben Ali spent the first part of his career as a promising young army officer. His career led into intelligence and security, always a highway to success in the contemporary Arab world. He attended courses at Saint-Cyr in France and the U.S. Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird in Maryland. When the republics founder, President-for-life Habib Bourguiba, became too enfeebled to carry on, Ben Alis succession to the presidency was reportedly arranged collaboratively by Italian and Algerian intelligence. The former French colonial power and the CIA reportedly were not involved, although they took a proprietary interest in the regime that followed. Ben Alis economic and educational reforms produced the best educated and most prosperous of the Maghreb states, with, as the result, an underemployed intellectual class and a frustrated middle class, both contributing to his downfall. His wife, a nouveau riche ex-hairdresser, and her immediate family were generally credited, during the Ben Ali presidency, with a rapacious personal enrichment that contributed massively to the ruling familys popular repudiation. It is a familiar story, with parallels in the business and banking elites of Western countries, where enrichment is also prized, but political elites and their wives are usually more prudent. At this writing, efforts to construct a transitional Tunisian government are going badly, since, having rid themselves of Ben Ali, the public seems unwilling to see him replaced either by former associates or figures from an opposition that mostly has existed in exile. This, classically, is where a would-be Napoleon steps in, and the army in Tunisia has fairly successfully kept its hands clean during the regimes rise and fall. However, next-door Algeria, when under military rule; the grotesque Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya; and Egypts thus-far immovable Hosni Mubarak (along with his ambitious son) provide deplorable precedents for Arab elites who want to believe that events in Tunisia mark the dawn of a new future. And what about Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast? CLIP
Tunisia's Democratic Revolution (19 January 2011) http://www.truth-out.org/tunisias-democratic-revolution66977
Whether the overthrow of the corrupt and autocratic Ben Ali regime in Tunisia in a mass civil insurrection will lead to a stable, just and democratic order remains to be seen, but the dramatic events in that North African country underscore a critical point: Democracy in the Arab world will not come from foreign military intervention or sanctimonious lecturing from Western capitals, but from Arab peoples themselves.While the rioting and other spontaneous violence would seem to differentiate these recent events from the overwhelmingly nonviolent movements that brought down dictators in the Philippines, Serbia, Poland, Chile, and elsewhere, it was the nonviolent aspects of the uprising that proved most decisive. The general strike, the peaceful protests, the refusal to obey curfew orders, the explosion of alternative media, and other acts of nonviolent resistance were far more critical in the downfall of the regime than the violent mob actions, which make for such exciting imagery in the international media, but which were not representative of the movement as a whole. While the movement was impressive in the way that it was able to transform inchoate populist anger into regime change, effectively employing mass-based tactics to destabilize an autocratic government does not necessarily lead to democracy. Recent history has shown that in such situations, the chances of bringing about a genuine democratic transformation are increased if it comes from a more protracted movement with a comprehensive strategic vision, which seeks to represent the widest range of society and maintains a more conscious nonviolent discipline. The lack of a clear, cohesive leadership group may be partly responsible for the chaos that has followed Ben Ali's departure. Still, the movement was impressive regarding the way it eventually encompassed diverse elements, which transcended the nation's religious and political divides, the level of tactical coordination between groups and the way they were able to bring together people of all ages and educational levels out onto the streets. And they did so in the face of severe repression; more than 100 people were killed by government forces over the past four weeks. CLIP
A Middle Class Revolution (JANUARY 18, 2011) http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/18/a_middle_class_revolution
Ben Ali's Tunisia showed all the signs of being a stable and relatively prosperous country. Until it imploded. -- In my numerous trips to Tunisia for Human Rights Watch since the mid-1990s, I grew weary of Tunisian dissidents telling me that at any moment the people would rise up in revolt against their autocratic president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.Keep dreaming, I thought. This country was not ripe for revolution. Anyone who traveled throughout the region could see that Tunisians enjoy a relatively high standard of living and quality of life. The country's per capita income is almost double that of Morocco and Egypt. It's higher than Algeria's, even though Algeria has oil and its smaller neighbor to the east has almost none. Tunisia scores high in poverty reduction, literacy, education, population control, and women's status. It built a middle-class society by hard work rather than by pumping oil from the ground; Tunisians export clothing, olive oil, and produce, and welcome hundreds of thousands of European tourists each year. Although Ben Ali's Tunisia was a police state, his tacit bargain with the people -- "shut up and consume" -- seemed to hold, making the country appear to be a tranquil haven between strife-torn Algeria and Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya. However, a tragic protest by a street vendor caused long-simmering -- though not immediately visible -- grievances to spill over and unmask Tunisia's reputation for stability as illusory.
For the rare activist who rejected Ben Ali's bargain during his reign, this was not authoritarianism-lite: The president jailed thousands of political prisoners during his 23-year rule, the vast majority alleged Islamists serving multiyear sentences even though they were not accused of planning or perpetrating acts of violence. There was also the occasional leftist, journalist, or human rights activist or lawyer jailed for defamation or disseminating "false information," or on trumped-up criminal charges. Plainclothes police routinely tortured suspects under interrogation and broke up even the most anemic street protest, roughing up critics and openly tailing foreign journalists and human rights workers. Still, those who experienced the repression were a minority of the 10 million Tunisians. The silent majority included most of the intelligentsia, who, since the early 1990s, had increasingly checked out of political life. Some supported the government because they feared the Islamists, who had grown strong before Ben Ali crushed them early in his rule. Others saw no point in joining a hamstrung opposition when the price was relentless harassment from cops in leather jackets and dark sunglasses, dismissal from government jobs, and restrictions on travel.
Ordinary Tunisians kept their heads down and attended to their work. And there seemed to be plenty of job opportunities: Compared with neighboring countries, there were fewer men lingering all day long in cafes, and fewer hittistes -- Algerian slang for the omnipresent youths who spend their days on sidewalks "holding up the walls." Tunisian women were highly visible in public spaces and well-represented in the professional class.The government always had its critics, but by the mid-1990s Ben Ali's crushing of dissent had reduced them to a hard-core handful of "refuseniks." These lawyers, writers, and activists were hailed in Paris and Brussels for their courage -- but were virtually unknown at home because repression had atomized their movements and the media refused to cover them. It was these refuseniks who insisted that ordinary Tunisians were fed up and ready to revolt. The Tunisian economic miracle was an illusion, they claimed. Ordinary Tunisians seethed over regional inequity, their eroding standard of living, the shakedowns and mistreatment at the hands of police and local officials, and the stories of colossal corruption and wealth among the president's in-laws and cronies. CLIP
Officially, the Obama administration greeted Tunisias Jasmine Revolutionnamed after that countrys national flowerwith open arms, calling for free and fair elections as the United States scrambled to get aboard the democratic bandwagon.
However, celebration is restrained in Washington. Theres serious concern about who will take the place of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the corrupt, 74-year-old dictator, who, until the end, was considered an important American ally in the war against terror.
Assuming the Tunisian military actually agrees to hold free elections (not at all a sure thing), will the generals really throw open the doors to all political groups? Nationalists? Islamists? Marxists? Anti-militarists? What forces will roil to the surface after decades of political repression? Will they throw in their lot with Americas war against terror, or join the ranks of those in the Middle East who increasingly see whats going on as Americas war against Islam?
Washingtons ambivalent view was evident even before the revolution was victorious. In Doha on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured Arab autocrats and others meeting there on the urgent need for reform and an end to corruption if they wanted to save their regimes.
But just a couple of days earlier, as young demonstrators were being gunned down in the cities and towns of Tunisia, when Clinton was asked which side the U.S. was on, she replied that the U.S. was not taking sides.
American officials have reason to hesitate. If uprisings were to occur across the Middle East and Central Asia, that could spell disaster for American policy.
There is no way, for instance, that Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, will permit a democratic opening. Thanks to his ironclad dictatorship, only one group has been able to organize politically, the Islamic radicals. More secular-minded opponents have been co-opted, imprisoned or cowed. The influence of the religious extremists has grown throughout the country. Its only the military that stands between Mubarak and chaos.
Like a deer frozen in oncoming headlights, Washington seems immobilized. On the one hand, theres the corrupt, despotic and failing Mubarak. But hes a friend. On the other hand, free and fair elections would almost certainly bring leaders to power much more virulently anti-Israel and opposed to U.S. policies. Perhaps Washington is hoping for the Egyptian military to step in again to save itself and its privilegesand the U.S.
Elsewhere throughout the region, from Saudi Arabia to Jordan to Yemen to Ethiopia to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the picture seems markedly similar: U.S. allies are invariably corrupt dictators, maintained in power by lavish patronage and the military.
In Lebanon, where the public has had a growing voice in national politics, its the anti-American and anti-Israel Hezbollah that has ridden popular acclaim to become the decisive voice in the country.
Popular participation has also benefited Americas most outspoken enemy in Iraq: Moqtada al-Sadr, whose followers fought bloody battles against the U.S. after the invasion. Seemingly vanquished, he has returned from three years in Iran to exercise a decisive political voice in Iraq. He demands the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and bases from his country.
Because of the elections in Iraq, the country that will almost certainly be calling the shots there in the future will not be the United Statesbut Iran.
Meanwhile, moderates pushing for something akin to democracy and secular rule are losing ground. In Pakistan, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who had been outspoken in his fight against religious fundamentalism, was killed. The soldier responsible for the murder was showered with rose petals while many of the countrys lawyerswho had once gone to the streets demanding democratic reformcelebrated the murderer as a national hero.
And democracy in Israel? A true democracy with a vote for every personJews and all the Arabs under Israeli controlincluding those living on the West Bank? Forget it. It would be the end of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state. We dont hear Clinton or President Barack Obama talking much about that these days.
Indeed, at the end of her lecture to the Arab leaders in Doha, one member of Secretary Clintons audience asked why the U.S. wasnt doing its share to fight the war against Islamic fundamentalism by putting more pressure on Israel to deal with the Palestinians. Her answerpointing out that the U.S. paid more to finance the Palestinian Authority than did most of the Arab countriessimply dodged the issue.
After her civics lesson in Doha, Clinton returned to Washington, where, even after the lurid shootings in Arizona, U.S. legislators dare not even discuss clamping down on firearms, because of the powerful gun lobby. Its the same Washington where American officials, from Obama on down, are terrified of taking on the conservative pro-Israel lobbynot because the lobby represents the views of the majority of Americansor even a great majority of American Jews, but because it wields a very undemocratic power far beyond its numbers.
New Wikileaks: US Knew Tunisian Gov. Rotten Corrupt, Supported Ben Ali Anyway (01/16/201) http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/new-wikileaks-us-knew-tunisian-gov-rotten-corrupt-supported-ben-ali-anyway.html
The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten released a series of US diplomatic cables from 2006 on massive and pervasive corruption and nepotism in Tunisia and its effect on economic development and social problems. The cables show that the United States government was fully aware of the dangerous and debilitating level of corruption in Tunisia, and its anti-democratic implications. But they raise the question of whether Washington was wise to make Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, despite his clear foibles, the pillar of its North Africa policy because of his role, as a secular strongman, in repressing Muslim movements (as William MacLean of Reuters argues). The US embassy in Tunis noted the contradictions of what was once called the Tunisian miracle relative stability and security and 5% growth a year, but with Mafia style corruption on the part of ruling cliques that was discouraging foreign investment and contributing to failing banks and high unemployment. Most debilitating, and destabilizing, has been high levels of unemployment, especially for college graduates:
(...) It was in some important part the college-educated unemployed and their sympathizers that brought down Ben Alis regime.The cables recognize the pervasiveness of government corruption, and the scandals it gave rise to. The cables estimate that 50% of the countrys economic elite was somehow related to President Ben Ali, and warn that they were increasingly showing off their opulence in public, raising the hackles of the poor and unemployed.
THE FOLLOWING COMMENT (posted HERE) IS A POTENT EYE-OPENER...
By Alan MacDonald, January 19
It may surprise you (it certainly did me) that the GINI Coefficient of Income Inequality of Tunisia is lower (at .40, that means more fair) than that of the US (which the CIA is still listing as .45).
[Note: that the US GINI is more recently noted by Alan Greenspan, of all people, in his latest book, Age of Turbulence, as 0.49, and even this figure has probably gotten worse (more inequality) since the great financial fraud and looting of 2008 to 2011 continues.]
When I first compared and thought about this critically regarding Tunisia I was surprised that Tunisia would not have a GINI closer to Robert Mugabes dictatorial plutocracy of Zimbabwe (GINI 0.53), or the the disguised global corporate/financial/militarist Empire which now fully controls our former country.
I was somewhat surprised that the citizens of Tunisia would actually be revolting, since the CIA warns that only countries with a GINI above 0.45 are likely to experience civil unrest, social upheavals, and potential revolution(it may well explain why our CIA continues to use the old US GINI of only 0.45 and not the newer Greenspan figure 0.49 or the above 0.50 figures that many economists believe the US has actually risen to after the latest/greatest financial looting in history).
However, after some thought I would suggest that the US can allow its own level of GINI of Income Inequality to rise far above that of all functional democracies (in Europe and Japan, which range from the very low and egalitarian 0.23 to 0.34), above even Russia and China, and up to the levels of overt African dictatorship, royal family oil monarchies, and the worst countries on earth, and that US ruling-elite hidden Empire control can tolerate such a massive level of both Gini Income (and Wealth) Inequality, because the US populace is far more distracted by sophisticated media propaganda and far less aware of reality under this modern Two-Party Vichy sham of democracy than are the people of Tunisia- who, under a less guileful control are actually more aware of their oppressors than are America citizens.
As soon as I had the presence of mind to parse this conundrum myself, I immediately remembered the extensive study by Michael Norton of Harvard Business School (which was buried by the US corporatist media, but which is linked below), which compellingly proves that Americans are vastly unaware of just how inequitable a society they live in.
Most scholars agree that wealth inequality in the United States is at historic highs,
with some estimates suggesting that the top 1% of Americans hold nearly 50% of the
wealth, topping even the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920s
(Davies, Sandstrom, Shorrocks, & Wolff, 2009; Keister, 2000; Wolff, 2002).]
In summary, rollzone, it makes sense to me that the people of the US, since they are highly uninformed (or intentionally mis-informed) of their plight under a well disguised and hidden Empire of Illusion, seem to be tolerating a level of Income Inequality (as well as guileful and sophisticated spying and other soft police-state security measures) that would cause people less deceived by sophisticated Empire, like those in Tunisia, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and even the UK, to be in the streets and at a far more substantial level of civil unrest bordering on revolution.
So, I guess we could say, thats another thing our hidden Empire is doing for us, or as Bill Murray might say, at least we got that going for us!
Democracy over Empire Party headquarters
OTHER COMMENTS ARE...
This is a sad truth about our country. We need to fix American.
Join the Revolution
Read Common Sense 3.1 at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )
We dont have to live like this anymore. Spread the News
If one take a non-partitioned view, there is no difference between US and Islamists. Both are busy in founding their own brands of caliphate to dominate the world. Both are equally good or bad. May be US may perhaps be a little inferior to their counterpart in that the Islamists are totally autocratic, eccentric and unanswerable. But when the interests of US collide, US is no better either.
Their hands are just as gory. Even today US is fighting wars in almost half of the globe. Whereas we take pride of 21st century scientific enlightenment. Can we equally take the pride like US today? I am not sure if I can? US pretends an apostle of peace but as pointed out above, US is a party to the worlds most corrupt tyrants too in the world today.
US has no set uniform definition on terrorism except in her own interest. They blame Kayani for double dealings but overlook about their own conduct, why? Is it fair? Therefore I think US is a worst tyrant than Islamists today, may not be an unfair assertion!
Hillary could lecture in Doha but could she look in her own backyard? She has more fossil fuel burning in her own house than in her neighbour which she needs to douse before pointing finger at middle east.
But as the proverb goes, Rex non potest peccare.
Dr. O. P. Sudrania
Disgustingly accurate, in one sense!
- - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured Arab autocrats and others meeting there on the urgent need for reform and an end to corruption.
This takes the cake !
Over the last twenty years, the CIA has handed out several hundred millions in the geographical area, corrupting the leadership, illegally providing weaponry, and staffed Junior Bush's Al Kaeda until seducing enough locals into the phony group. Now, AXIS Hilly reprimands them for being corrupt.
AXIS Hilly accepted a two million dollar election contribution. She did not report it, nor has she been investigated. The misguided, too-rich man who made the contribution declared the violation on-line with a supportive video. This violation, preceded by a thirty-year history of shady and corrupt dealings. Yet, she has the gall to lecture Moslem-types for being corrupt?
Such hypocrisy reflects the historical stance of the USGov leadership, as it continues to assist the pro-Israel lobby to wield a very undemocratic power far beyond its numbers, while Israel continues to murder Palestinians and seize their property, while the Family Bush marching orders continue to commit genocide against Moslem types on a much greater scale in the larger region.
Related video and articles:
JFK Speech on Secret Societies and Freedom of the Press http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=642552841321950688#docid=1710662559138481080
That's right, old JFK says everything that's happening now is basically...well... unamerican... This is an excerpt from his speech "President and the Press." I encourage you to listen to it first and not view the picture show on the video in front of you as the words speak for themselves. Its a rushed job with this video as you can see, but I wanted to get it up as soon as possible. This speech applies to so much going on today, you will understand why "they" had him killed.
What It Was Like to Be John F. Kennedy (Jan 18, 2011) http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/what_it_was_like_to_be_john_f_kennedy_20110118/
Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president of the United States. He gave a stirring inaugural address and then took over a job for which he was unprepared. No one is ever prepared. The presidency is essentially a reactive job, with a man standing alone facing crises unforeseen. As good as Kennedys inaugural was, the speeches that define him historically were given within just over 50 hours in June 1963, one of them prepared secretly over months, the other practically ad-libbed.This is the story of those hours and those speeches: At 9:15 a.m., June 10, President Kennedy arrived in Washington from a trip to Hawaii for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. On the way home he had stopped in San Francisco to pick up his principal speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen, and they spent the flight making final edits in what was called "the peace speech," an effort known to only a few men.
(...) He said: "Some say it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament. ... But I believe we should re-examine ... our own attitude ... toward the Soviet Union. ... For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our childrens future. And we are all mortal." It was more complicated than that, of course, but he reached out to the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in a number of unprecedented ways. At 11:20 he returned to the White Housethen waited for a Soviet answer. He was despondent for hours, then at midnight, Teletypes began to clack with the news that in Moscow, Izvestia had reprinted the entire speech, word for word, on its front pagenothing like that had ever happened before. CLIP
Palins Egocentric Umbrage (Jan 18, 2011) WHAT A CONTRAST WITH KENNEDY! http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/palins_egocentric_umbrage_20110118/
In the spirit of civil discourse, Id like to humbly suggest that Sarah Palin please consider being quiet for a while. Perhaps a great while. At the risk of being bold, I might observe that her faux-presidential address about the Tucson massacre seemed to fall somewhat flat, drawing comparisons to the least attractive public moments of such figures as Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. I could go so far as to observe that Palin almost seemed to portray herself as a collateral victim. Surely a former governor of Alaskawho served the better part of an entire termwould never seek to give the impression that she views any conceivable event, no matter how distant or tragic, as being All About Sarah. Yet this is the unfortunate impression that Palins videotaped peroration seems to have left. I am at a loss to recommend any course of corrective action other than an extended period of abstinence from Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.Palin doubtless understands by now that characterizing her alleged persecution by journalists and commentators with the term blood libel was a semantic faux pas. One must question, however, not only the tone of her complaint but the content as well. Did she, indeed, have a legitimate grievance? I must be frank: The evidence suggests not.
(...) It is also relevant that most of the violent political rhetoric that blights the public discourse is emanating from the far righta constituency for which Palin speaks, often so colorfully. In the 1960s and 70s, this was not the case; anti-government invective and unsettling talk of revolution came primarily from the far left. Palin is perhaps too young to remember that era, but as a student of history, she must have read about itand must recognize the contrast between then and now. For her to take such umbrage, then, at the reporting of evident, pertinent and factual information deepens the impression that she isand I must be frankastoundingly thin-skinned and egocentric. The way Palin portrayed herself as not only a popular champion but also a martyr reminded menot for the first timeof Eva Peron. If she chooses this unpromising route to higher political office, I suggest she find a suitable balcony from which to deliver her next address to the nation. Or perhapssolely in the interest of civil discoursethat there be no next address.
Homeland Security's laptop seizures: Interview with Rep. Sanchez
BY GLENN GREENWALD - JAN 15, 2011
For those who regularly write and read about civil liberties abuses, it's sometimes easy to lose perspective of just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are. One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary. Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security's practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products -- laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like -- copying and storing the data, and keeping that property for months on end, sometimes never returning it. Worse, all of this is done not only without a warrant, probable cause or any oversight, but even without reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in any crime. It's completely standard-less, arbitrary, and unconstrained. There's no law authorizing this power nor any judicial or Congressional body overseeing or regulating what DHS is doing. And the citizens to whom this is done have no recourse -- not even to have their property returned to them.
When you really think about it, it's simply inconceivable that the U.S. Government gets away with doing this. Seizing someone's laptop, digging through it, recording it all, storing the data somewhere, and then distributing it to various agencies is about the most invasive, privacy-destroying measure imaginable. A laptop and its equivalents reveal whom you talk to, what you say, what you read, what you write, what you view, what you think, and virtually everything else about your life. It can -- and often does -- contain not only the most private and intimate information about you, but also information which the government is legally barred from accessing (attorney/client or clergy/penitent communications, private medical and psychiatric information and the like). But these border seizures result in all of that being limitlessly invaded. This is infinitely more invasive than the TSA patdowns that caused so much controversy just two months ago. What kind of society allows government agents -- without any cause -- to seize all of that whenever they want, without limits on whom they can do this to, what they access, how they can use it: even without anyone knowing what they're doing?
This Homeland Security conduct has finally received some long-overdue attention over the past several months as a result of people associated with WikiLeaks or Bradley Manning being subjected to it. In July, Jacob Appelbaum, a WikiLeaks volunteer, was detained for hours at Newark Airport, had his laptop and cellphones seized (the cellphones still have not been returned), and was told that the same thing would happen to him every time he tried to re-enter the country; last week, it indeed occurred again when he arrived in Seattle after a trip to Iceland, only this time he was afraid to travel with a laptop or cellphone and they were thus unable to seize them (they did seize his memory sticks, onto which he had saved a copy of the Bill of Rights). The same thing happened to 23-year-old American David House after he visited Bradley Manning in the Quantico brig and worked for Manning's legal defense fund: in November, House returned to the U.S. from a vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend and her family, was detained, and had his laptop and memory sticks seized (they were returned only after he retained the ACLU of Massachusetts to demand their return).
But this is happening to far more than people associated with WikiLeaks. As a result of writing about this, I've spoken with several writers, filmmakers, and activists who are critics of the government and who have been subjected to similar seizures -- some every time they re-enter the country. In September, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these suspicionless searches; one of the plaintiffs on whose behalf they sued is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen who had his laptop seized at the border when returning to the U.S. last year:
Abidor was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in May when he had his laptop searched and confiscated by Custom and Border Patrol officers. Abidor, an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student, was questioned, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charge. When his laptop was returned 11 days later, there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.
A FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people -- roughly half of whom are American citizens -- were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. But the willingness of courts to act is unclear at best. The judiciary, with a few exceptions, has been shamelessly deferential in the post-9/11 era to even the most egregious assertions of Executive Branch power in the name of security. Combine that with the stunning ignorance of technology on the part of many judges -- many of whom have been on the bench a long time and are insulated by their office from everyday life -- and it's not hard to envision these practices being endorsed. Indeed, two appellate courts have thus far held -- reversing the rulings of lower courts -- that Homeland Security agents do not even need to show "reasonable suspicion" to search and seize a citizens' electronic products when re-entering their country. Some lower court judges, however, continue to rule the practice unconstitutional: see here for one federal judge's emphatic rejection of the Obama DOJ's arguments as to why such searches fall outside of the Bill of Rights.
In a July, 2008 Senate hearing, then-Sen. Russ Feingold hosted the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, which vehemently opposes this practice, and Feingold said this:
"Over the last two years, reports have surfaced that customs agents have been asking U.S. citizens to turn over their cell phones or give them the passwords to their laptops. The travelers have been given a choice between complying with the request or being kept out of their own country. They have been forced to wait for hours while customs agents reviewed and sometimes copied the contents of the electronic devices. In some cases, the laptops or cell phones were confiscated and returned weeks or even months later, with no explanation."
Back then, this was painted as yet another Bush/Cheney assault on civil liberties, so one frequently heard denunciations like this from leading Democrats such as Sen. Pat Leahy: "It may surprise many Americans that their basic constitutional rights do not exist at our ports of entry even to protect private information contained on a computer. It concerns me, and I believe that actions taken under the cover of these decisions have the potential to turn the Constitution on its head." But now that this practice has continued -- and seemingly expanded -- under the Obama presidency, few in Congress seem to care.
Indeed, even in the wake of increasing complaints, Congress has done nothing to curb these abuses or even regulate them. But at least one member of the House, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat, is attempting to do something. Rep. Sanchez has introduced a very modest bill -- H.R. 216 -- requiring Homeland Security to issue rules governing these searches and seizures so that they are no longer able to operate completely in the dark and without standards.
Ivory Coast, called the 'pearl of West Africa', is on the brink of civil war -- and chocolate companies could play a critical role in stopping the bloodshed.
Despite losing elections in November and united international pressure and sanctions to remove him, Laurent Gbagbo is clinging to power. Revenues and tariffs from cocoa, the countrys largest export, are bankrolling his brutal army that has murdered hundreds of winning party supporters. If chocolate companies immediately and publicly refuse to do business with Gbagbo, his cash supply could dry up and without the support of the army, his power base would dwindle, and he could be forced to step down.
This situation could spiral into all-out war within days. Chocolate lovers of the world, let's flood popular brands like Nestlé, M&M/Mars and Hershey's with messages to end trade with Gbagbo now and commit to working only with the legitimate government. Click to send a message directly to leading companies -- and we will publish which companies have cut their financial ties to Gbagbo:
All regional, African and international institutions recognise Alassane Ouattara as winner of the November elections and the legitimate President of Ivory Coast, but Gbagbo refuses to step down despite threats of military intervention. More than 200 Ivorians have already been killed, and 25,000 have fled to neighboring countries, whilst pro-Gbagbo TV and radio stations are inciting violence against UN peacekeepers and sparking fears that his supporters could undertake campaigns of widespread brutality. The risk of a dangerous spiral into civil war looms ominously and threatens regional stability.
Ouattara, the legitimate winner, is doing what he can for peace and has agreed to accept ministers from Gbagbo's cabinet into his new administration, but Gbagbo insists he be President. Millions of Ivorians risked their lives to participate in democratic elections and exercise their right to vote. Caving in to Gbagbo would only reward impunity and his violent crackdown and would encourage other election-losers in Africa to cling to power, as happened recently in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The Ivory Coast accounts for nearly 40% of the world's cocoa supply. Cocoa companies alone cant unseat a dictator, but the Central Bank of West African States has just suspended services to Gbagbo -- and cutting the cocoa industry's financial support to his army could be the tipping point. Companies have long bolstered Gbagbo's abusive regime, many through shady financial operations. Three national cocoa institutions gave more than $20.3 million to finance the war effort in 2002-2003, when some of the worst killings and human rights violations were taking place.
We know these companies are making delicate calculations right now and they listen to consumers -- Nestlé just stopped sourcing palm oil from Indonesia after a massive public campaign by Greenpeace to stop rainforest destruction.
It is crucial that the international community escalate pressure, but at this critical time, if they act fast, cocoa companies could hold the key to removing Gbagbo's illegitimate regime. Click to send a message now -- if enough of us persuade them urgently to sever ties to Gbagbo and his forces, we can help pull Ivory Coast back from the precipice.
The world has taken a strong stand to support fair elections and combat impunity in Ivory Coast. Now its future hangs by a thread. If we take action and stand with the democratic Ivorian people now, we can offer hope for a peaceful solution.
Stephanie, Benjamin, Alice, Graziela, Maria Paz and the rest of the Avaaz team
P.S. The CEO of Nestlé Paul Bulcke, will co-chair the Davos World Economic Forum at the end of January. If 75,000 of us send messages, we will also deliver our appeal to cocoa companies directly to him.
EXCELLENT PROGRESS REPORT FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION GOING STRONG INTO ITS 3RD YEAR IN POWER AND REALLY STARTING TO MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE - despite the Republican millstone Obama is carrying around his neck - ESPECIALLY IN COMPARISON WITH THE 8 DARK YEARS OF BUSH/CHENEY
Grading Obama: The progress report after two years
By David Rothkopf - January 20, 2011
We are two years into the Obama administration and judging by the president's progress to date, assessments being made on this the second anniversary of his time in office are likely to be viewed not as midterm grades but as his first quarter report card. With an increasingly confident, experienced president at the helm of a country that seems to be gradually creeping toward economic recovery and with a divided opposition in search of a leader, Obama's re-election prospects are looking better and better.
Still, the reality is that any assessment of the president's progress to date must be taken with several large pillars of salt. First, as I have noted before, the first two years of any presidency are learning curve years and seldom contain either the highlights of a presidency or even a very clear signal as to its ultimate character. Second, almost inevitably political and policy types overstate the influence of the president on the great issues of the day or even on those factors that weigh in his or her re-election. As is the case with most presidents, Obama's future will most likely be dictated by exogenous developments over which he has only fairly limited influence -- global economic trends, unanticipated actions of third parties at home and abroad, public moods that impact how presidential actions are interpreted and credit and blame allocated, etc.
Nonetheless, given that today is the second anniversary of the president's inauguration, it is a natural time to take stock and offer some quick evaluations of how he and his team are doing on foreign policy issues.
Afghanistan-Pakistan: This is the administration's signature international issue. Unfortunately, it is also the area in which they have done the worst. Costs and troop commitments have gone way up but likelihood of a lasting, positive outcome -- say a stable AfPak region in which the extremist threat is materially diminished -- has not improved at all. It increasingly looks like pressure to get out will force the United States to accept a bad outcome in Afghanistan and the future for Pakistan is murky at best. Our lead ally, Hamid Karzai, is an unrepentant crook and our strongest supporters in Pakistan face strong opposition and are on shaky ground politically. The likely best outcome is strong man regimes in both places, no democracy, and festering threats. Further, despite the White House's lack of appreciation for Richard Holbrooke (and the hypocrisy of some them in terms of their comments in the wake of his untimely death was breathtaking), he will be missed and is already proving to be very hard to replace. Bob Gates will be even harder to replace. Grade: D
Iran: The administration got off to a slow start in Iran, didn't express support for protesters when it should have, and has not done anything to really counteract the threat Iran poses to the region via its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and its infiltration of the politics of its neighbors. However, the carefully coordinated, tireless efforts to find an effective diplomatic-cover action response to the Iranian nuclear program has shown some promising progress of late. (And WikiLeaks helped illustrate some of those efforts for the world.) The nuclear threat remains but the way it has been handled by the Obama administration has been about as well as anyone could have done. Grade: B
Israel-Palestine: The administration deserves credit for getting involved in this issue and not pulling back even as both of sides have done almost everything in their power to impede, delay, and complicate the process. For a change. The relationship with the Israelis has been, to be polite, fitful. And part of it is clearly due to divisions and missteps within the administration. Although blaming them is roughly akin to blaming Elin for Tiger's sins. (Sandra Bullock for Jesse James's? Charlie Sheen's ex-wife for his? Women for what men do wrong? You get the idea.) This is one case where I believe getting nowhere is about as well as could be hoped for and remaining engaged is a sign of strength. The key to a better grade going forward is whether they will break out of the box of old-think on this. My sense is that the ticking of Israel's demographic clock, the shift in global opinion, and the changing mood in the United States could actually lead to a breakthrough on this issue during the remaining (six) Obama years. Although that breakthrough could well begin with the Palestinians taking their recent Washington flag-raising to its natural next step and simply unilaterally creating a two-state reality. Grade: B
The Fragile States: The Greater Middle East is made more dangerous because everywhere you look there are fragile states that could remake the strategic situation at any time. Topping this list are Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. But the next tier of problem states from Yemen to Lebanon...but also including those in the near neighborhood where developments impact the overall regional dynamic like Tunisia, Egypt, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia...are an area taking up increasing time from the administration. Expect this to be an area where a disproportionate amount of attention is devoted going forward...and one where big, hard decisions will have to be made that could be among those x-factors impacting the administration's final grades. Grade: INC.
Iraq: This was George Bush's big issue. It has not been Obama's. That is to his everlasting credit. He has stuck with his promises and thus far managed a smooth draw down. Instability lurks in every alleyway of the country and it could all come undone -- especially thanks to the obstructive, self-interested, fecklessness of the country's political "leadership" (and I use the term loosely.) But so far so good. Grade: B
China: While Afghanistan-Pakistan is the administration's signature issue, China is the most important foreign policy issue the president will have to deal with. He got off to a weak start with a visit to Beijing that was marked by a faltering, seemingly too deferential performance by the president. It wasn't helped as the Chinese outmaneuvered the United States at recent U.N. General Assembly, climate and G-20 meetings. But in the run up to the current visit of President Hu to the United States, the Obama team has done a much better job of presenting a coordinated, tougher front. Any results from this trip? Not much more than is regularly provided thanks to the usual checkbook diplomacy by the Chinese. In fact, so far, the story of this trip is once again not how the U.S. president is doing but how easily the Chinese president has slipped into the role of being his peer among world leaders. Big challenges lurking here on economics (where we have made limited progress on currency to date), trade (where storms are looming...particularly around intellectual property), military affairs (where the Chinese are unabashedly positioning themselves as challengers), resource competition (a new global great game is going on with major implications for future strategic balance), proliferation (where China is not being constructive), climate (where China is now calling the tune), and China's muscle-flexing in Asia. Grade: B
The Other BRICs: On Russia, once again a shaky beginning has been transcended by a New START deal and better cooperation on issues from missile defense to Iran. That said, when you have Putin's Russia on the same page with you, you have to wonder if you are on the right page given the country's disturbing recent record on issues from democracy to bullying in its near abroad. On Brazil, there's been very little going on...some progress on a couple of trade related issues...but that was overshadowed by differences that emerged when Brazil sought to interject itself in the Iran nuclear issue. That said the overall relationship between the two countries has probably never been better in terms of private sector interaction. The big success among the BRICs is India -- where the president's November trip was a big hit and his call for Indian permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council was extremely well-received. (In fact, one senior Brazilian diplomat told me that if the president now goes to Brazil and doesn't offer them the same thing, "he might as well not come.") Grade: B
North Korea: The administration was seriously blind-sided by the recent flare ups with the North Koreans and in particular by the revelation that they had constructed an advanced nuclear enrichment facility. The diplomacy with the other six party members has also not been terribly productive. This remains a dangerous area, as likely to produce an unintentional conflict as it is to produce an unexpected reconciliation between the two halves of the divided country. Grade: C
Mexico -- The administration has tried to remain actively engaged and to assist the Mexican government in avoiding further deterioration due to the on-going war with the drug cartels. With over 12,000 murders in the past year and huge repercussions on the border with the United States, it cannot be said this is going well despite the best efforts of both governments. This is an issue that is going to cause more tough problems for Obama than many anticipate. Grade: B-
Europe: Obama gets high marks for restoring good feeling to trans-Atlantic relations that had been thoroughly unsettled by Bush's cowboy antics. While the current administration's relations with virtually all of Europe's leaders are formal and often, slightly frosty, communications are good, cooperation on difficult issues like managing successive economic crises has been admirable if not always optimal from the U.S. perspective, and a real healing has taken place. Grade: A-
Japan: Twenty years ago, Japan was China. It was the country everyone thought was going to supplant the United States in the world's economic pecking order. Today, after a prolonged downturn and continuing political volatility, Japan is scarcely ever brought up when top foreign policy concerns are listed. Still, were the Japanese markets to sustain another shock or were Japanese relations with the Chinese to grow more strained or were Japan drawn into a conflict involving the North Koreans, the country would instantly be front of mind. Further, in the new great power equation of the world, the Japanese represent a vitally important partner and counter-balance. The administration has recognized this, doing the best they could to maintain strong dialogue despite Japanese political churning. Grade: A-
Domestic Issues with International Impact: U.S. national security flows from our domestic economic security. And the world's economy depends on U.S. economic performance. The United States still has a giant deficit, a devastated housing market and anemic job creation...but it is also clear that great strides have been made in the past two years. A depression was averted. Jobs are (far too slowly) being created. And we seem to be on the verge of some kind of healthy national conversation on reducing the deficit. (If Obama makes a bold move to embrace the recommendations of the Deficit Commission he will essentially pull the rug out from under his potential Republican political rivals.) That's all health and to some degree, it's remarkable. For all that on this key issue, Obama and his team get a grade of: A
Management: In the past several months the Obama administration has turned a corner in terms of its own operations. It has upgraded its leadership in key areas beginning with the second most important job in the White House, that of the chief of staff. Replacements on the economic and national security teams show a renewed focus on more effective processes and making the most of the whole cabinet. Outreach to private groups is improving as it must. And on the issue of managing the key national security agency of State and Defense, important moves toward reforms have been made by two of Obama's most dependable, highest quality team members: Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates. This is one area where improvement has been great. Grade: B+
Naturally, it's impossible to have covered every issue. One could easily have also taken a look at cross cutting issues like climate (Grade: B-. .. not much progress despite much improved rhetoric), trade (Grade: B- ... a little move on the Korea deal, nothing much before or after), currency policy (slight improvements with the Chinese, eurozone on the critical list, dollar weakening a potential problem as inflationary concerns rise ... Grade: B-), development (QDDR a step forward, work in places like Haiti and Pakistan post-disaster admirable but hampered by serious problems... Grade: B-), arms control (the Russian deal, the Iranian effort, progress on missile defense all offset by continuing worries about loose nukes in Pakistan, uncertainty about Iran, the North Korean program ... Grade: B), and military affairs (you can't give credit to the military for doing a great job on the ground in Iraq and AfPak without also making them shoulder the blame for advocating policies that don't or won't work ... Grade: B-/C+).
But across the board the conclusions are similar: This is a hard-working, earnest, talented administration doing a pretty solid job in very challenging times. Overall Grade: B
Note from Jean: As a counterpoint complement to the generally optimistic views expressed, some will point to other controversial elements of Obama's policies and to some of his failures to deliver so far on his campaign promises, such as...
What Happened to the Antiwar Movement? (January 20, 2011) By Reason TV http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHEts3fqk
Even as President Obama maintains close to 50,000 troops in Iraq and continues to escalate and expand the war in Afghanistan, the antiwar movement in America continues to shrink. So, what happened? Reason.tv visited two antiwar protestsone left-leaning, one libertarianin an attempt to answer that question. Author and historian Thaddeus Russell and Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty also weigh in. War, it seems, is a bipartisan venture, which is reflected by the fact that Democrats have a favorable view of Obama's foreign policy, despite its remarkable similarity to George W. Bush's foreign policy. And though there have been rumblings of antiwar sentiment from some on the Right, Republicans remain strongly in favor of an interventionist foreign policy. Although public sentiment is turning against the war in Afghanistan, the always-shifting withdrawal deadlines and the unwillingness to touch defense spending mean that this bipartisan war is likely to continue far into the future.
36. Signed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act which gives the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud, from lending to the financial system, and creates a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial practices that brought us to this point
37. Signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures, providing $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and helping to stabilize the housing market for everybody
39. Issued a Presidential Memorandum to the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances, like dishwashers and refrigerators. Through this step, over the next three decades, well save twice the amount of energy produced by all the coal-fired power plants in America in any given year
40. Unveiled a program on Earth Day 2009 to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our oceans vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner
49. The Executive Order on Presidential Records brings those principles to presidential records by giving the American people greater access to these historic documents, severely curtailing the ability to use executive privilege to shield those documents
81. Signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act authorizing advance appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing two-fiscal year budget authority thus enabling better medical care for veterans. Endorsed by the American Legion, American Veterans, Blinded Veter...ans Association, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Military Officers Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America
82. Held impromptu press conference to urge Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross and other corporate health insurance companies that raise premiums in high amounts without explanation. Rep. Henry Waxman launches probe. In this case, Anthem Blue Cross wanted to raise premiums 39%. They have now put the increase on hold for two months (as of February 2010). Legislation preventing such increases pending
Laura Eisenhower: Unity consciousness will collapse military-industrial complex
January 17th, 2011
(...) Since my great grandfather first spoke of it 50 years ago today, the Military-Industrial Complex has thrived on official state secrecy, and even as disclosure happens, it will most likely be done in a manipulated way, never fully revealing why secrecy has flourished and what has been done behind our back for all of these years. Yet, disclosure is inevitably happening among us, and if we can understand and integrate other valuable truths, we will be protected against disclosure being used to introduce false concepts that will draw us further into the web of deceit. Fifty years after President Eisenhower warned the American people about the Military-Industrial Complex, that culture is preparing to disclose the fruits of its 50-year, Strangelovian departure from sanity, including the introduction of human robots that will act as weapons of war and even a faked war with an ET race using hologram technology that has existed for decades. Even if we witness aspects of a catastrophic timeline emerging, we must hold fast to the truth that we have a choice to not venture down that path. Ultimately, everything we see happening in our world reveals the health of the collective whole as an extension of ourselves, as we are extensions of the many dimensions and emanating the ones that match our vibratory frequency. If we are not a part of the problem, then we dont have to engage in the battles that have been prepared for us. It is my conviction that President Obama is a leader that we can feel good about, but we still dont want to turn a blind eye to the reality that is being hidden from us and perhaps even from him.
We must confront the fact that much of what has been happening in secret has created an inevitable future drama, for they have been spending trillions of our tax dollars on projects that only serve their elitist mentality. These include a secret space program with off-planet colonies reached via teleportation, the targeting of individuals that they perceive to be a threat, HAARP, psychotronic weapons, deep underground military bases, and false flag events like 9/11 to draw us further into a police state. Behind the scenes, occult practices including dark rituals, horrific child abuse, and the creation of agents and slaves to serve them are used to infect the planetary body with negative frequencies that is food to them. This is how they sustain power and influence behind the curtain. This spawns the fear, pain, and negative feelings that is the life force that they live on. As awful as this all sounds, there is, in fact, a way out. This is why it is crucial that we understand the concept of Christ-Sophia consciousness and how lower forces have affected our DNA, and produced junk DNA unused and unactivated, and how, in turn, that connects to the planetary body and its veils and the suppression of the Goddess. It is not a New Age thing. This is ancient. It doesn't need to be labeled. It is not about the physical even, or being a female. It is about Creation and what we are up against and how much the scales have been tilting towards the warmongers, abusers and control freaks. We must strive to soften it all, restore our world, and return the power to Gaia.
Their lust for our powerlessness and blind faith is further exacerbated by their use of mind control and micro-chips that do not allow individuals to access their inner voice and connection to Source. Some, of course, are directly involved in the programs, while others languish in a kind of trance state, as the ELF microwave frequencies that are emitted from our TV sets keep us locked in a lower mind-set obsessed with the lives of others and consumerism. The nerve toxins of chemtrails keep us in a state of permanent nervous system disorder, as we also are infected emotionally and psychically by delusional feelings, alongside a deep and powerful longing to be free, because things are just not right. The lower alien races and their technologies chose Earth allies to create programs with. They exist on Earth and in underground bases (particularly the Grays) for breeding programs intended to destroy the will of Nature, the Soul and the Higher Consciousness of All so that they can run the Universe and have ultimate domination, and lurk in their off-planet colonies until perhaps they can come back to Earth and rule, or take it beyond the stars and let Earth just self-destruct. There are many benevolent ET races as well, and our challenge is to know the difference. In the past, treaties have been broken, deceptions have happened, and what may seem friendly, doesnt always mean it is.
Unity consciousness and global transformation
In her statement inaugurating 2011, Laura Magdalene Eisenhower goes beyond the breakdown of the Permanent War Economy to the breakthrough of unity consciousness as a driver of a global transformation.
Ms. Eisenhower states:
Unity Consciousness and the return of the Divine Feminine; balance, nutrition, higher love and wisdom; the pulling of our energy away from feeding the false system; and choosing to detoxify, deprogram, and support the causes that count are where we can best direct our energy. It is important to have the realization that we are a part of this planetary organism, Gaia, which is essentially the body of the Goddess who morphed into the planet and whose womb is both Cosmic and Earthly. Gaia is multi-dimensional and has embodiments of herself on Earth that act as a bridge to the higher worlds and multi-dimensions. Through the cycles of Venus as a unified field, we are capable of lifting these veils and creating global transformation
Laura Eisenhower speaks of the return of the Divine Feminine. She states:
The Goddess energy is our missing link right now, as her story isnt just one of feminine power in the world she also represents cosmic power, whose origins are in the creation of all worlds, in a realm called Ain Soph, or Bythos, where Sophia came forth forming the Pleroma and the Aeons the first womb of creation that birthed divine pairs, Gods and Goddesses. She is also called the 100,000 name Goddess for her many aspects, embodiments and the different variations that each culture has attributed to her name. She has been venerated in civilizations that we now see in archeological artifacts and ruins. Many who live in those sacred places still hold a strong affinity for her and honor her and see the land as her body, the Underworld as her womb and consciousness as the Queen of Heaven and Holy Spirit. She has existed in such places as Egypt, Glastonbury, Greece, and India and in the myths and legends of Avalon, Atlantis, Lemuria and many higher star systems that revere her and embody the essence and aspects of her.
Ms. Eisenhowers statement suggests that it is this feminine, healing dimension of nature that the Military-Industrial Complex and the technocratic society that has emerged around it have sought to suppress.
Laura Eisenhowers full 2011 statement can be accessed by clicking HERE
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