Turning Tide of History #34: Global Juggernaut of Changes Underway
If you've been following the news in these past couple days, you are already aware that a political tectonic shift is underway in the Arab world with the increasing likeliness that the 30 year long US-supported dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak is now coming to an end, a change apparently fully supported by the Obama administration despite the anxieties of its stalwart ally Israel. Barack and Hillary probably reason that it is better to side with the people and get the recognition that the U.S. has helped them when it counted, in spite of having financed its dictator's army to the tune of 1.5 billion every year for 30 years, than to being further alienated from the Egyptians and thus running the risk that this country may no longer be willing to uphold the historic peace deal signed on by former Nobel Peace Prize winner, Egyptian president Anouar El Sadate to make peace with Israel in 1979. As the good poker player he is, Obama figured out he is better to place his bet on the right side of history despite the existential threat that radical Islamists may end up having the upper hand in the political shuffling that will ensue once senile Mubarak is out of the Egyptian picture.
We shall see. It will also be interesting to see to what extent this domino effect will unleash more upheavals in other countries (Algeria, Yemen and Jordan, being now in the line of fire of growing popular unrest) and what will result from all of this. One way or another, we are living a historic moment akin to the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet empire, and I think we frankly ain't seen nothing yet as we near December 2012...
One final, important thing. There won't be any compilation in February as I will not be available to prepare any. I'll be working on a new book that I hope to complete by the time I'll have another translation job next April. I won't be checking my emails either. So don't expect any reply till early March if you write to me, and I would appreciate you all hold off sending me anything till then.
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WORTH NOTING RIGHT AWAY
Cairo in near anarchy as protesters push to oust president (January 28, 2011) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/28/AR2011012806404.html
CAIRO - The Egyptian capital descended into near anarchy Friday night, as the government sent riot police, and then the army, to quell protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators determined to push President Hosni Mubarak from office. By the end of the day-long battle, the protesters were still standing and the police were nowhere to be seen. Mubarak - who had not spoken publicly since the protests began Tuesday - made a televised speech after midnight, announcing that he had asked his Cabinet to resign. The move fell far short of protesters' demands, and seemed likely to ensure that the anti-government demonstrations that have erupted here would continue. President Obama said a short time later that he had talked with the Egyptian president after his speech and pressed Mubarak to make long-promised reforms. "What is needed are concrete steps to advance the rights of the Egyptian people," Obama said. It remained unclear late Friday night what role the Egyptian military might play. Mubarak, a former air force officer, draws much of his strength from the military, and any decision by the armed forces to withdraw support would mean the certain end of his reign. But unlike the police, which unleashed an arsenal of weapons against the demonstrators, the military did not take any immediate action, and protesters gleefully welcomed the soldiers' arrival in a thundering of personnel carriers. Protesters were honking their horns in celebration and roaming freely through central parts of the city late in the evening, in defiance of a strict curfew. The night air was thick with black smoke, and the sounds of explosions, gunshots, sirens, cries and occasional cheers echoed through the darkness. The protests, which were launched in cities nationwide but were largest in Cairo, were the most serious in Egypt's modern history. Protesters have called for Mubarak, who at 82 has ruled this country with an iron fist for 30 years, to give up his position, leave the country and allow fresh elections. Success in ousting Mubarak would be a remarkable achievement for a group of demonstrators who have no charismatic leaders, little organization, and few clear objectives beyond removing this nation's autocratic president and other members of his ruling clique. CLIP
Pulling the plug on the Internet (Jan. 28, 2011) http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/930211--pulling-the-plug-on-the-internet
It took about 20 minutes for the Internet to all but vanish in Egypt, a swift and sweeping shutdown that experts say is unprecedented. While other countries have blocked certain sites or Internet service to certain regions in times of crises, the sudden clampdown just after midnight Friday prompted international condemnation.
(...) Its such a blunt instrument to have used against a population, said Cowie, who tracked the shutdown and blogged about it.Criticism quickly rolled in.Very concerned about violence in Egypt government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and Internet, Robert Gibbs, press secretary to U.S. President Barak Obama, posted via Twitter.In a statement, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said: Although the turmoil in Egypt is a matter for the Egyptian people and their government to resolve, limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community.It is essential to communication and to commerce, said Noyes. No one should be denied access to the Internet. Twitter also issued a statement earlier in the week, via Twitter: We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people. The shutdown effectively limited the ability for protesters to share words, pictures and video of what was happening on the ground. Another possible rationale for the clampdown was the scheduled release Friday of the WikiLeaks Egypt cables and fears, perhaps, the information would further fuel demonstrations. The leaked U.S. diplomatic cables do paint a disturbing picture of police brutality in the country, describing it as routine and pervasive. Police, according to one cable, use brutal methods on accused criminals but also on Islamist detainees, activists, demonstrators and bloggers. There were also allegations of sexual abuse of female prisoners and routine use of electric shock. In turning off the switch on the Internet, Egypt was also likely looking over its shoulder at Tunisia, where services remained up and protests prompted the ruling family to flee. CLIP
U.S. secretly supported Egyptian opposition groups: Wikileaks (January 28, 2011) http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/106472/20110129/egypt-us-wikileaks.htm
The U.S. government secretly supported leading opposition figures in Egypt who have been preparing to topple President Hosni Mubarak for the past three years, according to cables released by Wikileaks The UK newspaper, the Daily Telegraph reported that the U.S. embassy in Cairo assisted a young Egyptian dissident to attend a US-sponsored summit in New York, while concealing his identity from Egyptian state police. Upon the young mans return to Cairo in December 2008, he informed American diplomats that opposition group devised a plan to overthrow Mubarak and put in place a democratic government in 2011.In the cables, the dissident in question alleged that several opposition forces had agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections. Apparently, this young man has been arrested by Egyptian police during the current unrest. The cables also revealed that US diplomats urged Mubaraks regime to free other dissidents. The documents appear to indicate how thin US support for Mubarak really is.
Obama tells Mubarak to deliver promised reforms (Jan 28, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/29/us-egypt-usa-idUSTRE70R6A920110129
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Friday and said he told him to undertake sweeping reforms, while U.S. officials made clear that $1.5 billion in American aid to Egypt is at stake. Obama said he pushed Mubarak to make good on his pledges of greater democracy and economic freedom shortly after Mubarak gave a televised speech in which he dismissed his government in response to days of violent protest in Egyptian cities."I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," Obama told reporters following a 30-minute telephone conversation with the Egyptian leader.Mubarak called in his televised statement for a national dialogue to avoid chaos, while ordering tanks and troops onto the streets to restore control."I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters," Obama said.The U.S. president also said protesters in Egypt have a responsibility to remain peaceful. "Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek," Obama said.Obama called on Egypt's government to reverse actions it has taken to "interfere with access to the Internet, to cellphone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.""What's needed now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people, a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people," Obama added. CLIP - CHECK ALSO Egypt in Turmoil: Why Mubarak's Offer Won't Work - MUCH MORE THROUGH THIS LINK AND BELOW, IN THE MAIN ARTICLES SECTION, ABOUT THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SPREADING MOVEMENT FOR REAL DEMOCRACY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE IN ARAB COUNTRIES.
The People Stand Firm, Unafraid, and Listen
By Steve Beckow (firstname.lastname@example.org) - 28 Jan 2011
In the face of rising warmth and light, a flower opens to the new day's Sun.
In the face of rising light and love, a planet's population wakes from sleep, emerges from control, and reclaims its freedom.
It wakes from fear, throws off paralysis, and reclaims its power.
It wakes from hate, throws off suspicion, and reclaims its love.
It wakes from violence, throws off control, and reclaims its peacefulness.
And the people stand firm, unafraid, and listen.
And all around, the forces that controlled them lash out with every weapon they possess police, provocateurs, military, water cannons, tear gas, guns. They issue threats; warn of reprisals; unleash storms and earthquakes; rain chemicals from the air; disrupt their travel, business, education, families.
But the people join together not as citizens of Iran, Tunisia, Myanmar, or France; not as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, or Jews; but as citizens of the world. They recognize how they've been carved up into nations, classes, religions; had language differences and class divides imposed on them; and in every other way been divided and conquered. They reject all division and join together as one - men women, and children.
They raise the banner of light and love, peace and harmony. They tell the truth and seek more of it. They declare the freedom of all people and the right to health and choice and learning. They reject the use of force and control, censorship and manipulation, indebtedness and impoverishment.
They set their faces against fear and hate. They refuse to harm or kill or cooperate with those who do. They lay down their weapons everywhere. They walk away from bombs and poisons, warships and warplanes.
They depart from organizations that produce pandemic viruses and tainted vaccines, plot to overthrow democratic regimes, issue threats and carry out assassinations, suppress new technologies, and pollute the Earth.
They liberate the halls of power, courts of justice, places of confinement, and mediums of communication.
And the people stand firm, unafraid, and listen.
They learn of their part in bringing on their own subservience and in throwing off their chains.
They wonder how this could have happened and what is next.
They hear how this new age has been expected and anticipated, fostered and nurtured. They learn how this awakening, emergence, and rebirth are supported by a cast of millions, who until now have worked in the shadows and behind the scenes.
They learn how these people are our families from other places, dimensions, and even ages. They learn how these people have come here to end our impoverishment, debilitation, and subjugation.
They learn how these people have seen to it that the light of freedom was never quenched or servitude imposed on us as a planet.
They learn how these people have in hand the means of abundance, freedom, and fulfilment and give it freely.
And the people stand firm, unafraid, and listen.
They hear how our controllers intended to depopulate the globe and retain a fraction of us to serve them. They hear how fear has been used to control and exploit us. They drop their anxiousness of terrorism, Armageddon, starvation, catastrophe, and annihilation.
They rejoice at what awaits us - freedom from suppression and control. They realize the future is ours to decide with no new master looming; They see that no one seeks to place us under heel but to liberate us.
They breathe in new energy, share new abundance, look upon new technologies, and see the Earth being newly cleansed. They realize the sleep of millennia is over and a new day has dawned, a day without barriers, fear, or control.
And the people stand firm, unafraid, and listen. And the people laugh and shout for joy, in loving anticipation.
Kurt Haskell Blows Whistle On Underwear Bomber: Given Bomb By US Government To Boost TSA Budget & Implement Body Scanners (Jan 28, 2011) http://www.prisonplanet.com/kurt-haskell-blows-whistle-on-underwear-bomber-given-bomb-by-us-government-to-boost-tsa-budget-implement-body-scanners.html
I contend that this story is just the tip of the iceberg into the US governmentŐs black operations to further the Patriot Act, funding for Homeland Security and the TSA, and to keep intensity up for the so called War on Terror. Respected lawyer and community leader, Kurt Haskell, has nothing to gain from pointing his finger at the federal government. He witnessed the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, being whisked past security and led onto NorthWest Airlines flight 253, by a well-dressed man with an American accent- all without the passengerŐs proper visa and passport documentation. What the news piece doesnŐt mention is that the State Dept did indeed put Mutallab on the plane, at the behest of Ňan unnamed US intelligence agency.Ó Undersecretary Patrick F. Kennedy (Detroit news article was removed from web!). THIS is why we are being groped, molested, and body scanned at the airport by the TSA! Because the government claims the underwear bomber is a real threat! Stand up America- the politicians say our rhetoric is dangerous. Maybe the government itself is terribly dangerousÉ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoDqUyqsxgg -- Hmmm... Will that trial wake up US citizens into launching their own political revolution?
"Thanks Jean for this newsletter, very well put for us ancient ones that have a hard time discerning from some, not all but I like this. I am amazed at all the conspiracies about Obama so far, but am attempting to keep up with what he is doing. But sometimes the junk news gets in the way and I get thrown for a loop. I am still doing my meditations and prayers and know without a shadow of a doubt they are working. Just have to stay clear of all negativity, which is everywhere, but getting less potent as time goes on. I am looking forward to the changes that inevitably will happen for it is written in stone, so to speak. I'm becoming less and less interested in the illusions that seem to crop up periodically, but with a brush of the hand they seem to disappear immediately. Thanks for continuing you letters, appreciate them."
"An uprising in Tunisia led to the overthrow of the countrys 23-year long dictatorship of President Ben Ali. A new transitional government was formed, but the protests continued demanding a totally new government without the relics of the previous tyranny. Protests in Algeria have continued for weeks, as rage mounts against rising food prices, corruption and state oppression. Protests in Jordan forced the King to call on the military to surround cities with tanks and set up checkpoints. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Cairo demanding an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of activists, opposition leaders and students rallied in the capitol of Yemen against the corrupt dictatorship of President Saleh, in power since 1978. Saleh has been, with U.S. military assistance, attempting to crush a rebel movement in the north and a massive secessionist movement growing in the south, called the Southern Movement. Protests in Bolivia against rising food prices forced the populist government of Evo Morales to backtrack on plans to cut subsidies. Chile erupted in protests as demonstrators railed against rising fuel prices. Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Albania, resulting in the deaths of several protesters. It seems as if the world is entering the beginnings of a new revolutionary era: the era of the Global Political Awakening. While this awakening is materializing in different regions, different nations and under different circumstances, it is being largely influenced by global conditions. The global domination by the major Western powers, principally the United States, over the past 65 years, and more broadly, centuries, is reaching a turning point. The people of the world are restless, resentful, and enraged. Change, it seems, is in the air. As the above quotes from Brzezinski indicate, this development on the world scene is the most radical and potentially dangerous threat to global power structures and empire. It is not a threat simply to the nations in which the protests arise or seek change, but perhaps to a greater degree, it is a threat to the imperial Western powers, international institutions, multinational corporations and banks that prop up, arm, support and profit from these oppressive regimes around the world. Thus, America and the West are faced with a monumental strategic challenge: what can be done to stem the Global Political Awakening? Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and arguably one of the intellectual pioneers of the system of globalization. Thus, his warnings about the 'Global Political Awakening' are directly in reference to its nature as a threat to the prevailing global hierarchy. As such, we must view the 'Awakening' as the greatest hope for humanity. Certainly, there will be mainy failures, problems, and regressions; but the 'Awakening' has begun, it is underway, and it cannot be so easily co-opted or controlled as many might assume."
Violent Seismic Activity Tearing Africa in Two (01/20/2011) WITH SPECTACULAR PICTURES! http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,740641,00.html
The fissures began appearing years ago. But in recent months, seismic activity has accelerated in northeastern Africa as the continent breaks apart in slow motion. Researchers say that lava in the region is consistent with magma normally seen on the sea floor -- and that water will ultimately cover the desert.
(...) The earth is in upheaval in northeastern Africa, and the region is changing quickly. The desert floor is quaking and splitting open, volcanoes are boiling over, and seawaters are encroaching upon the land. Africa, researchers are certain, is splitting apart at a rate rarely seen in geology.The first fracture appeared millions of years ago, resulting in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The second fracture, stretching south from Ethiopia to Mozambique, is known as the Great Rift Valley, and it is lined with several volcanoes. Millions of years from now, it too will be filled with seawater. Could Go Quickly - But in the Danakil Depression, in the northern part of the valley, the ocean could arrive much sooner. There, low, 25 meter (82 foot) hills are the only thing holding back the waters of the Red Sea. The land behind them has already dropped dozens of meters from previous levels and white salt deposits on the desert floor testify to past encroachments of the sea. But lava soon choked off its access.For now, no one can really say when the sea will finally flood the desert. But when it does, it could go quickly. "The hills could sink in a matter of days,"
(...) In recent months, the quaking in the Gulf of Tadjoura has been getting closer and closer to the coastline. As Ebinger explains, the splitting of the ocean floor will gradually extend to dry land. This is already the case along some fault lines in the Ethiopian desert, creating a geological spectacle that can otherwise only be witnessed deep below the surface of the ocean.Even the pattern of earthquakes supports the conclusion that the desert landscape is transforming into a deep seafloor, according to a recent article in the Journal of Geophysical Research published by Zhaohui Yang and Wang-Ping Chen, two geologists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The researchers have recorded several strong earthquakes at a shallow depth in northeastern Africa similar to ones that are otherwise only seen on mid-ocean ridges far out at sea.In recent months, researchers have also recorded an up-tick in volcanic activity. Indeed, geologists have discovered volcanic eruptions near the earth's surface at 22 places in the Afar Triangle in northeastern Africa. Magma has caused fissures up to eight meters (26 feet) wide to open up in the ground, reports Derek Keir from the University of Leeds. While most of the magma remains beneath the surface, in places like Erta Ale it has made its way above ground.
(...) The new burst in activity began in 2005, when a 60-kilometer-long fissure suddenly formed in the Afar Depression. Since then, roughly 3.5 cubic kilometers of magma have gushed forth, according to Tim Wright -- enough to cover the entire area of London to an average person's height.From a geological perspective, the speed with which the magma is pushing forth is astonishing. It has been channeling its way through the rock below the earth's surface at speeds of up to 30 meters per minute, reports Eric Jacques from the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris. Satellite measurements attest to the consequences: In one 200-kilometer stretch welling up with magma, the ground looks like asphalt on a hot summer day. Magma is also pooling up under the Dabbahu Volcano in northern Ethiopia, Lorraine Field reported in San Francisco.
(...) The satellite data has also shown that a much larger area has been scarred by fissures than previously assumed, says Keir. Subterranean currents of magma are also causing ground temperatures to spike in eastern Egypt, a team of geologists from Egypt's National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics recently reported in Seismological Research Letters. At the AGU conference, Columbia University's James Gaherty reported that magma eruptions have ripped a 17-kilometer gash into the desert floor in the northern part of Malawi and that the lateral pressure they have exerted has even lifted the surrounding earth up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) in places. CLIP
SOUTH AFRICA: STOP 'CORRECTIVE RAPE' https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_corrective_rape/
Corrective rape, the vicious practice of raping lesbians to cure their sexuality, is a crisis in South Africa. Millicent Gaika, pictured above, was bound, strangled, and repeatedly raped in an attack last year. But brave South African activists are risking their lives to ensure that Millicents case sparks change. Their appeal to the Minister of Justice has exploded to over 140,000 signatures, forcing him to respond on national television. If enough of us join in to amplify and escalate this campaign, we could help get urgent action to end 'corrective rape'. Let's call on President Zuma and the Minister of Justice to publicly condemn corrective rape, criminalise hate crimes, and lead a critical shift against rape and homophobia. Sign the petition now and share it with everyone.
Ex-China Foreign Ministry Official says Extraterrestrials live among us (December 20, 2009) http://exopoliticsnews.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/ex-china-foreign-ministry-official-says-extraterrestrials-live-among-us/
Izvestia reports that China has a record number of UFO scientific and community-based organizations. There are many who even attempt to establish some sort of a contact with extraterrestrials. Their actions are protected by the National Society of the Extraterrestrial Studies, which was founded 25 years ago. This National Society is financed by the government.Only professional scientists and engineers are allowed members in the Society. A person also required to have Ph.D. in science and have several published works about UFOs. About a third of all members of the society are also members of the Government of China.The study and civic appreciation of Extraterrestrials are NOT systematically marginalized as the case in the industralized West, which tries to use dogma to ridicule community and academic UFO research initiatives, and also the work of Exopolitics groups. Hundreds of scientists and engineers in China conduct thorough studies of apparent Extraterrestrial phenomenon. Do Extraterrestrials live among humans? Chinese scientists also say that aliens live among humans. This includes Sun Shili, a retired foreign ministry official who is now president of the Beijing UFO Research Society who also concludes that waixingren (extraterrestrials) are living among us.
(...) The best-known alien abduction story in China is the case of Meng Zhao Guo, a young tree farmer, from Wuchang, near Harbin in Heilongjiang province.In June 1994 Zhao Guo and two other farm workers, working at Red Flag logging camp saw something unusual on nearby Mount Pheonix.T he complex and bizarre encounter that followed involved Meng being hit by a beam of light, as well as allegedly experiencing an abduction and a sexual encounter with a female alien. Meng Zhaoguo. Meng Zhaoguo, a rural worker from northeast Wuchang city, explains he was 29 when he broke his marital vows for the first and only time with an extraterrestrial of unusually robust build. She was 10 feet [3.03 metres] tall and had six fingers, but otherwise she looked completely like a human, he says. I told my wife all about it afterwards. She wasnt too angry.During September 2003 Zhang Jingping, a Beijing-based UFO researcher, had psychologists and police technicians subject Zhao Guo to hypnosis and a lie detector test in Beijing. Zhang indicated the test results proved the abductee was telling the truth.
(...) In December 1999 Cao Gong, a middle-aged man from Beijing, indicated to Bill Chalker, that he had been abducted by aliens and flown to Qinhuangdao in their UFO. They looked like humans but had large hands and were very pale, Cao said. He said he had also met a Chinese girl in the flying saucer. Zhang Jingpings research investigation began in April 2000. The first step was hypnosis. Zhang invited a famous psychologist from Suzhou and asked him to conduct hypnosis on Cao in helping him to remember the whole incident. Then he brought Cao to the Beijing Bureau of Public Security and gave him a lie detection test. He passed the test, says Zhang. According to Cao, who is the principal of a private school in Fangshan District, he met a Chinese girl in the flying saucer, who looked around 13 years old. The aliens cured her disease in the flying saucer, he claimed. In order to find the girl, Zhang brought Cao to the Tangshan Bureau of Public security in July 2000. The policemen made up a computer image photo-fit of the girls face according to Caos description, says Zhang. In November 2002, Zhang led a group of students from Beihang University and set out on a trip to Qinhuangdao, in search of the mysterious girl.
(...) In Dalians UFO Society, 90 per cent of the 400 members have college degrees. Its exciting for us to use science to decipher UFO sightings, said Zhou Xiaoqiang, secretary-general of the Beijing UFO Society.While few Chinese claim to have managed to get quite as intimate with an extraterrestrial as Meng, a growing number of people in China believe in unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. In fact, Officially registered UFO associations in China have about 50,000 members, but some estimate the actual number of Chinese interested in the subject is probably in the tens of millions.China has a bimonthly magazine circulation 400,000 devoted to UFO research. The conservative state-run media also report UFO sightings on a regular basis, in contrast with Western government organization which, as a policy, deny verifiable human contact with Extraterrestrial. UFO buffs in China claim support from eminent scientists and liaisons with the secretive military, giving their work full scientific respectability. If something flies over [ET spacecraft], theres a very good reason for trying to understand why theyre here, why they come to us, what is their relationship between us and them, he says. CLIP
An Arab future for the taking (January 28, 2011) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/27/AR2011012707471.html
It's a sign of the times that some Arab journalists attending the gathering of international power brokers here were spending their free time scanning Twitter messages about political protests back home. It's that kind of moment in the Arab world, when people are nervous about anything that is connected to the status quo.The unrest that toppled a government in Tunisia has spread across the region, with big street demonstrations in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. It's a movement that appears leaderless - more like a "flash mob." But it shares a common sensibility - the rising expectations of a younger generation that sees global change on the Internet and has momentarily lost its fear of corrupt, autocratic leaders."I think it's overdue," says Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who runs the Alwaleed 24-hour news channel, speaking about the street protests in Egypt. "There were reasons for people to get angry 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and now it is here." Indeed, he says, "the Arab world has been seeking renaissance for the last hundred years" but has stalled the last several generations, caught between fear of authoritarian regimes and anger at their corruption. It's an easy revolution to like, and U.S. officials have wisely endorsed the protesters' goals of openness and reform. But in truth, there's little America could do to bolster the octogenarian Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, even if it wanted to. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may endorse reform, as she did Wednesday, but this is a post-American revolution, encouraged in part by a recognition of the limits of U.S. power. The unrest follows a series of American failures in the region. President Obama promised change. But he couldn't bring Israel and the Palestinians to a peace agreement, and he couldn't counter Hezbollah in Lebanon or its patron, Iran. America is not the stopper in the bottle anymore, and the Arab man in the street knows it. U.S. officials are encouraged by the fact that the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries seem autonomous of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups. But that may be false comfort; this process is still in its early stages. History teaches that revolutions are always attractive in their infancy, when freedom is in the air and the rebellion seems spontaneous. But from the French and Russian revolutions to the Iranian uprising of 1979, the idealistic but disorganized street protesters usually give way to a manipulative revolutionary elite - the "Revolutionary Guard," as the Iranians like to call them. MUCH MORE ON THE EXPLOSIVE SITUATION IN EGYPT BELOW IN THE MAIN ARTICLES SECTION
Security forces disappear off Cairo streets (Jan 28, 2011)!! http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j_I10o3uf6-s5lJSPfKp94DAJlpw?docId=39ae3e99ea8442f1880a07d29424af12
CAIRO (AP) Egyptian security forces have all but disappeared from the streets in the heart of the country's capital ahead of planned demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak's rule. Egyptians had expected a huge police presence ahead of Friday's planned protests. Instead, there is no sight of riot police on Cairo's main streets and key bridges, including areas where security forces are visible even in normal times. CLIP
Egypt, Algeria, Jordan could see political unrest: S&P (Jan 27, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/27/us-middleeast-ratings-sandp-idUSTRE70Q5QB20110127
Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, and Morocco to a lesser extent, are more susceptible than other nations in the region to the type of political unrest that led to the resignation of Tunisia's president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Standard & Poor's said on Thursday. The ratings agency said it does not expect "a wave of regional political instability," but said that political and fiscal uncertainty are weighing on the sovereign ratings of several Middle Eastern and North African countries
Amnesty: Tunisian Security Forces Acted Brutally (January 27, 2011) http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Amnesty-Brutality-by-Tunisian-Security-Forces-114730259.html
The Tunisian government has used brutal methods to quell anti-government protests, according to the international rights group Amnesty International. Amnesty Internationals Middle East North Africa Program Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui says Tunisian doctors have found bullet wounds that show some protesters were shot from behind. "The evidence we have show that people were killed by single shots to the chest or the head, sometimes at the back of the head, showing clearly that the people were not presenting a threat and this evidence suggests deliberate intent to kill," said Sahraoui. Amnesty International sent a research team to Tunisia on January 14, the same day now-ousted president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. He was forced out by weeks of angry protests, as people rallied against poverty, repression, and corruption. Amnesty says some protesters acted violently, but the security response was disproportionate. It says tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition were widely used and people were tortured in police custody. Sahraoui says Tunisias security service needs a fundamental overhaul. "It is a body that has ruled the life of Tunisians for so many years. It is a body that is not accountable to anyone for the moment," said Sahraoui. "And it is really fundamental reform that is needed. Unless the whole mind setting is changed abuses are likely to continue to take place."Tunisias interim government says it will set up an independent commission to investigate human-rights abuses committed during weeks of protests. Sahraoui says it must be a thorough investigation. "A commission of inquiry or a Commission that is not able to summon officials, including very high level officials, a commission that is not able to have access to archives to really see what were the instructions that were given or a commission that is simply looking into processes rather than really providing responses to families will not satisfy, at least, the families Amnesty International has met with," Sahraoui said. The government says 78 people were killed in the violence, the United Nations says it might be closer to 100. Amnestys research team in Tunisia said it met with families of those killed, individuals who were injured, witnesses, lawyers, and doctors.
OTHER RECOMMENDED NEWS AND INFORMATION
Obama Pledges Responsible Cuts to Reduce Deficit (January 27th, 2011) http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/01/27/obama-pledges-responsible-cuts-to-reduce-deficit/
U.S. President Barack Obama is pledging to make responsible budget cuts as he looks for ways to bring down the nation's mounting deficits without hurting the economic recovery.In an interview Thursday on the video sharing site, YouTube, President Obama said the budget he plans to send to lawmakers next month will save about $400 billion. Mr. Obama did not provide much information about the proposed budget. He did, however, say that community action grants that support economic and development initiatives are examples of programs that probably will lose money.The president also said there will be areas where spending is increased, such as in the fields of education, research and development and innovation.In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama outlined his plan for increasing U.S. jobs and making America more competitive in the global economy. He also called for bipartisan cooperation to address the nation's ballooning budget deficit, which could reach a record of nearly $1.5 trillion this year. Additionally, the U.S. government's overall accumulated debt now totals more than $14 trillion. It is a figure that has risen rapidly as the government pumped money into the national economy and bailed out failing corporations in an effort to counteract the effects of the 2008 financial meltdown. CLIP
Is Lockheed Martin Shadowing You? (January 11, 2011) http://www.counterpunch.org/hartung01112011.html
How a Giant Weapons Maker Became the New Big Brother -- Have you noticed that Lockheed Martin, the giant weapons corporation, is shadowing you? No? Then you haven't been paying much attention. Let me put it this way: If you have a life, Lockheed Martin is likely a part of it.True, Lockheed Martin doesn't actually run the U.S. government, but sometimes it seems as if it might as well. After all, it received $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history. It now does work for more than two dozen government agencies from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. It's involved in surveillance and information processing for the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service. Oh, and Lockheed Martin has even helped train those friendly Transportation Security Administration agents who pat you down at the airport. Naturally, the company produces cluster bombs, designs nuclear weapons, and makes the F-35 Lightning (an overpriced, behind-schedule, underperforming combat aircraft that is slated to be bought by customers in more than a dozen countries) -- and when it comes to weaponry, that's just the start of a long list. In recent times, though, it's moved beyond anything usually associated with a weapons corporation and has been virtually running its own foreign policy, doing everything from hiring interrogators for U.S. overseas prisons (including at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq) to managing a private intelligence network in Pakistan and helping write the Afghan constitution.
(...) Consider all this but a Lockheed Martin précis. A full accounting of its "shadow government" would fill volumes. After all, it's the number-one contractor not only for the Pentagon, but also for the Department of Energy. It ranks number two for the Department of State, number three for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and number four for the Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development. Even listing the government and quasi-governmental agencies the company has contracts with is a daunting task, but here's just a partial run-down:
(...) When President Eisenhower warned 50 years ago this month of the dangers of "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," he could never have dreamed that one for-profit weapons outfit would so fully insinuate itself into so many aspects of American life. Lockheed Martin has helped turn Eisenhower's dismal mid-twentieth-century vision into a for-profit military-industrial-surveillance complex fit for the twenty-first century, one in which no governmental activity is now beyond its reach.
Nike and Kimberly-Clark lead the corporate pack on forest sustainability (January 27, 2011) EXCELLENT! http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0127-hance_ffd.html Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD), which asks international companies to reveal their impact on forests around the world, has released their second review. From biofuels to travel to media, FFD named corporate leaders in 19 categories, including Kimberly Clark for Personal-Household products and Nike for Clothing, Accessories and Footwear. "Kimberly-Clark has been integrating sustainability into all aspects of our businessfrom the design and manufacture of our products, to serving the communities where we operate and sell our portfolio of essential products," Suhas Apte, Kimberly-Clarks VP of Global Sustainability said in the press release. Kimberly-Clark is the first big tissue company to require wood suppliers to have independent certification and have shown preference for paper products with Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC). The company also funds efforts to map high conservation value forests in Brazil and Indonesia, the countries with the two largest deforestation rates. For its part Nike is working to avoid purchasing any leather from cattle grown on newly deforested areas. In Brazilian Amazon, cattle are the largest cause of deforestation. Reaching out to 285 companies, FFD received responses from 78 an improvement from their first report by 31%. The organization has called on more companies to come forward on their impact on forests. "Its not just environmental good sense, it makes increasingly sound business sense to understand and reduce deforestation pressures driven by agricultural expansion right nowto prepare for both future legislation and market opportunities," said Tracey Campbell, Director of the FFD Project. FFD hopes that its initiative saves forests on the ground by increasing corporate transparency. They challenge companies to identify which commodities lead to deforestation, purchase only sustainably-certified products, and map their supply chain. "190 Governments have now recognized halting deforestation is a key world prioritybusinesses should do the same. Engaging with Forest Footprint Disclosure is one small step through which companies can make sure their supply chain choices are not destroying the natural capital on which their future wealth creation depends," Andrew Mitchell, Chairman of FFD, said. This year's leaders include Stora Enso Oyj (Basic Materials), Greenergy International (Biofuels), Adidas and Nick (Clothing, Accessories, and Footwear), IOI Group (Farming and Fishing), Carrefour and J Sainsbury (Food and Drug Retailer), Marks and Spencer (General Retailer), Dalhoff, Larsen and Horneman and Weyerhaeuser (Industrials and Autos), Reed Elsevier (Media), Nestle Oil (Oil and Gas), Kimberly-Clark (Personal and Household), BBritish Airways (Travel and Leisure), and Drax Group (Utilities).
Updating the top 100 weirdest and most imperiled mammals (January 24, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0123-hance_edge_100.html
A lot can change in three years. In January 2007, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) jumpstarted a program unique in the conservation world: EDGE, which stands for Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered, selects the species it works with not based on popularity or fund-raising potential but on how endangered and evolutionary unique (in laymen's terms: weird) they are. When EDGE first arrived in 2007, it made news with its announcement of the world's top 100 most unique and endangered mammals. While this list included a number of well-known speciessuch as the blue whale and the Asian elephantit also introduced the public to many little-recognized mammals that share our planet, such as the adorable long-eared jerboa, the ancient poisonous solenodon, and the ET-like aye-aye. However, after three years the EDGE program found that their top 100 mammals list already need updating. (...) While finding a new species of mammal is far more difficult than discovering a new insect or bird, researchers continue to stumble on mammals unknown to sciencesome nearly as odd as the echidnas. For example, discovered in a market in Laos in 2005, the kha-nyou "was subsequently shown to be a living fossilthe sole surviving member of an ancient group of rodents that was previously considered to have gone extinct some 11 million years ago," says Waterman. "The kha-nyou is extremely distinct from all other mammal species, having separated from its closest living relatives, the gundis of Africa, 44 million years ago. It resembles a cross between a squirrel and a large rat, with its elongated head, small, rounded ears and bushy tail." But the kha-nyou isn't the only new mammal on the list. In 2001 researchers announced a new species of sloth in 2001 surviving on a single island off the coast of Panama.
Tragically, Average Child in U.S. Gets Seven Radiation Scans (January 20 2011) http://emf.mercola.com/sites/emf/archive/2011/01/20/tragically-average-child-in-us-gets-seven-radiation-scans.aspx
An average child in the United States will undergo more than seven radiation scans by the age of 18. Most of the scans involve X-rays but some children also get CT scans, which entail far more radiation and can raise the risk for cancer.A recent large study found that X-rays of the chest, hand and foot are the most common. Forty-two percent of the children examined had at least one radiation procedure, and 25 percent had two or more just during the three-year study period -- and that doesn't even count dental X-rays, which were not included in the study. Parent Dish reports:"The rapid growth of CT scans, which provide extremely detailed pictures of the body, and other medical imaging in recent decades has led to big increases in the average American's total radiation exposure ... The authors extrapolate from their data that nearly 6 million U.S. children will get at least one CT scan during a three-year period."
(...) As Parent Dish reported, one study found that an infant has an eight times higher risk of suffering from a fatal cancer caused by an abdominal CT scan than a 50-year-old receiving the same procedure, so the risk cannot be taken lightly.
(...) If you take your child to the emergency room and a CT scan is suggested, you'll want to think, hard, about whether the benefit of the scan is worth the risk. What is the risk? X-rays and other diagnostic tests that rely on ionizing radiation, such as mammograms and CT scans: Cause chromosomal mutations that are often irreparable, and the effects are cumulative (meaning the more x-rays and scans your child receives, the worse the effects will be).Cause DNA changes that are proven to lead to cancer.Cause DNA damage in your arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Often result in misdiagnosis and false positives, increasing the likelihood of follow up testsfurther increasing your radiation exposure. Further, CT scans alone will cause nearly 30,000 unnecessary cancer cases (about 2 percent of cancer cases), which will lead to about 14,500 deaths, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. A New England Journal of Medicine study from 2007 also estimated that overuse of diagnostic CT scans may cause up to 3 million excess cancers over the next 20 to 30 years. CLIP
EMF-Omega-News 22. January 2011 http://www.buergerwelle.de/cms/content/view/543/70/
Risk of parotid malignant tumors in Israel - Electromagnetic fields from your cell phone affect your cells - Mutagenic response of 2.45 GHz radiation exposure on rat brain - This Is The Death Of Humanity - Fallout Over Smart Meters Persists - Health Impact of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters - Radiation injuries - FCC Pressured to Acknowledge the Risks of Cell Phone Radiation - Save the bee or so go we - EMFs and Changes in the Complete Blood Count - On cell phones, its a matter of life and death - Is Your Cell Phone Giving You Brain Cancer? - BBC breaches its Parliamentary Sevice Licence - Families start fight to halt phone mast - Victory in north Leeds mast plan battle - Mobile phone giants Vodafone and O2 withdraw application for mast in Boughton Heath, Chester - Phone giants to meet protesters over Thornton Heath mast plans - Your Phone Could Mess With the Plane - Mobile phones, gadgets may cause plane crash - Texting dangerous for youth walking, outside and in cars, say parents
Protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak raged in Egypt for a third day yesterday as leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei returned home, offering to step into the breach.
As the deadly unrest continued, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that violence was not the answer, urging restraint on both sides, and also pressing Mubarak to adopt political reforms.
ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and former UN nuclear watchdog chief, arrived in Cairo from Vienna, and said he would join mass protests planned after weekly Muslim prayers today.
"It is a critical time in the life of Egypt. I have come to participate with the Egyptian people," ElBaradei, a vocal critic of Mubarak, said before leaving Cairo airport.
Earlier, in Vienna, he told reporters he was ready to "lead the transition" in Egypt if asked.
The angry nationwide demonstrations have swelled into the largest uprising in three decades.
Seven people have been killed -five protesters and two policemen -and more than 100 injured.
And a security official told AFP around 1,000 people had been arrested since the protests began.
A heavy security clamp prevented protesters from massing in the centre of Cairo as they did on Tuesday and Wednesday, but clashes erupted in the cities of Suez and Ismailiya, and in a Sinai town where police shot dead a protester, witnesses said.
The demonstrations against Mubarak's autocratic rule, inspired by the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, have sent shockwaves across the region and prompted Washington to prod its longtime ally on democratic reforms.
Obama, in his first on-camera reaction to the demonstrations sweeping Egypt, said "violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt."
In a YouTube question-and-answer session about his state of the union address on Tuesday, he said "the government has to be careful about not resorting to violence. The people on the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence."
He described the demonstrations as the result of "pent-up frustrations" of Egypt's people, and said he had always made clear to Mubarak it was "absolutely critical" for him to move towards political reform.
Meanwhile, the secretary general of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party told reporters yesterday the authorities are open to dialogue with the country's young people, who are spearheading demonstrations.
Earlier in the day, members of the pro-democracy youth group April 6 Movement said they would continue to take to the streets, defying a ban on demonstrations.
This morning, disruptions were reported in Internet and text messaging services in Cairo.
Also this morning, Egypt rounded up members of the Muslim Brotherhood including at least eight senior leaders of the group.
"The reason is of course known: it's what is expected to happen" today, a lawyer for the men said.
In Egypt, deep resentments are at heart of unrest (January 28, 2011) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/27/AR2011012707657.html
IN CAIRO Abdel Zaher Dandarwi does not look like a revolutionary. At 53, his hair is graying at the temples and his eyes betray more fatigue than fury.But it was fatigue - with the daily corruption, the detached ruling clique and the rot permeating this once-proud nation at the heart of the Arab world - that drove him to the streets this week to voice a revolutionary thought: "Down with Mubarak!"The tens of thousands of Egyptians who did the same had personal reasons for joining the unexpectedly massive demonstrations that have rattled authorities here and continue to threaten the 30-year rule of a man who once seemed invincible, President Hosni Mubarak. But for many it came down to this: a pervasive sense that the world has passed Egypt by, that money and power have become hopelessly entrenched in the hands of the few and that if the country is ever going to change, it has to do it now. "There's a suffocating atmosphere in Egypt, and I'm tired of it," said Dandarwi, a lawyer dressed impeccably in a dark blue pinstriped suit, who quietly sipped coffee Thursday afternoon as he waited for the next protest to begin. "The elections are fraudulent. The people in power monopolize all the resources. There are no jobs. There's no health care. And I can't afford good schools for my children."The protests this week have been unlike any other in Egypt's modern history, primarily because the outcome remains uncertain. Most protests in Egypt are bits of theater - stage-managed affairs in which opposition parties rally the faithful, the police make arrests and everyone else goes home. This time, the protests have no clear leader, and no limit to how large they could grow. Those who have taken part see no limit to what they might achieve. In a region where transfers of power are almost always either hereditary or at the barrel of a gun, events this week have raised the prospect that Mubarak, now 82, may be forced by popular unrest to yield authority before he can hand it to his son, Gamal.Mubarak's government will not go quietly, of course, and security services have attempted to crush the protests through force. But with demonstrators driven by deep resentments and long-suppressed rage, police have been unable to squelch the nascent movement. Mubarak 'will have to go' While the primary organizers have been university students, others have spontaneously joined the demonstrations as those in the streets beckoned in unison to those watching from the balconies: "If you are Egyptian, why don't you come with us?" Many have, and while the demonstrations Wednesday and Thursday were significantly smaller than those on Tuesday, organizers said they were planning a much larger show of force after prayers Friday, despite a government ban on such gatherings. CLIP
Egypt unrest rages; web shut ahead of big protest (Jan 27, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/28/us-egypt-protest-idUSTRE70O3UW20110128
Egyptian demonstrators fought security forces into the early hours of Friday in the city of Suez, and the Internet was blocked ahead of the biggest protests yet planned against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule Emboldened by this month's revolt that toppled the authoritarian leader of Tunisia, Egyptians have staged mass protests since Tuesday. The biggest demonstrations yet are planned for Friday afternoon after weekly prayers. "This is a revolution," one 16-year-old protester said in Suez late on Thursday. "Every day we're coming back here."Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned to Egypt from Vienna on Thursday, has called for Mubarak to resign and said he would join the protests on Friday. Internet access was shut down across the country shortly after midnight. Mobile phone text messaging services also appeared to be partially disabled, working only sporadically. Activists have relied on the Internet, especially social media services like Twitter and Facebook, to organize. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a "tweet" message on Twitter: "We are concerned that communications services, including the Internet, social media, and even this tweet are being blocked in Egypt." A page on Facebook social networking site listed more than 30 mosques and churches where protesters were expected gather."Egypt's Muslims and Christians will go out to fight against corruption, unemployment and oppression and absence of freedom." In Suez, which has been ground zero for some of the most violent demonstrations, police fired tear gas at protesters who hurled stones and petrol bombs into the early hours of Friday. Fires burned in the street, filling the air with smoke. The city fire station was ablaze. Waves of protesters charged toward a police station deep into the night. Demonstrators dragged away their wounded comrades into alleys.Security forces shot dead a protester in the north of the Sinai region on Thursday, bringing the death toll to five.Video images obtained by Reuters showed the man among a small group of protesters some distance from the security forces when he suddenly collapsed with a gunshot wound and was dragged away by other demonstrators. The video circulated widely on the Internet, galvanizing anger. CLIP
Hosni farewell (JANUARY 28, 2011) http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Hosni+farewell/4181928/story.html
What began as a seemingly benign Egyptian regime has become more brutal and corrupt over the years. It's a matter of when, not if, it will fall, writes John Sainsbury. -- Hosni Mubarak has demonstrated remarkable survival skills during his long presidency. But he's now likely facing the humiliation of becoming the first Egyptian president to be driven from power by a popular uprising.Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's second president, died in office in 1970, his spirit broken by his country's shattering defeat at the hands of Israel in the Six-Day War and by the collapse of his vision of pan-Arab unity. Yet such was Nasser's charisma that, even after his death, he retained iconic status with the Egyptian masses and for many throughout the Arab world. They worshipped him as an agent of social equality and as someone who had withstood the neo-colonialist bullying of Britain and France. His successor, Anwar Sadat, could never aspire to Nasser's popularity, but he exceeded expectations with his bold statecraft. After declaring victory in the October war of 1973 (even as Israeli troops were surrounding the bulk of the Egyptian army), he launched a remarkable diplomatic reversal, bringing Egypt closer to the United States and signing a peace treaty with Israel. His policy infuriated diehard Nasserites and Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood, but his success in reclaiming the Sinai from Israel helped to mollify public opinion. Until Sadat was felled by an assassin's bullet in 1981, he retained a firm grip on the levers of power. And so to Mubarak, Sadat's successor. I had small glimpses (no more) into the character of his regime when I lived in Egypt from 1984 to 1989, working as a history professor at the American University in Cairo. Like many observers, I puzzled over these questions: Was Egypt a working democracy with a powerful presidency (something equivalent, say, to France under the Fifth Republic when Charles de Gaulle was at the helm) or was it a police state, its so-called parliamentary institutions no more than a fig-leaf over what in reality was one-man rule? The signals were ambiguous. On the one hand, the secret police were everywhere, and one quickly learned to recognize them. On the other hand, Egyptians, or at least those I met, hardly seemed cowed or intimidated. CLIP
Thousands demand president step down (JANUARY 28, 2011) http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/todays-paper/Thousands+demand+president+step+down/4182075/story.html
Thousands of Yemenis, apparently inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, held a mass demonstration yesterday calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit after holding power since 1978.It came a day after a 28-yearold man set fire to himself in the port city of Aden, the ex-capital of the the formerly independent south, witnesses said. That brought to four the number of such copycat self-immolation attempts in the Arab world's poorest nation. The United States, which has played an increasingly active role in efforts to stem Al-Qa'ida's use of the Arab world's poorest nation as a rear-base for its worldwide activities, said it backed the right to peaceful protest.Washington backs the right of Yemenis to "express themselves and assemble freely," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters, echoing the message that it has been delivering to key Arab ally Egypt. "Enough being in power for (over) 30 years," chanted protesters in demonstrations staged by the Common Forum opposition in four different parts of the capital Sanaa.In reference to the ouster of veteran Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the demonstrators said he was "gone in just (over) 20 years." But Interior Minister Motahar Rashad al-Masri dismissed any resemblance between the protests in Yemen and the public outcry in the north African country that led to Ben Ali's departure. "Yemen is not like Tunisia," he told AFP, adding that Yemen was a "democratic country" and that the demonstrations were peaceful. Witnesses said that during protests on Wednesday a bus station employee set fire to himself in a central square in Aden and was only saved from death by the swift action of passers-by who put out the flames. Medics said he remained in intensive care after suffering extensive burns. He was at least the fourth such protester, security sources said. Security measures at the demonstrations appeared relaxed, but were tight around the interior ministry and the central bank. Saleh's ruling General People's Congress (GPC), meanwhile, organized four simultaneous counter-demonstrations which were attended by thousands of the government's backers. "No to toppling democracy and the constitution," the president's supporters said on their banners.On Saturday, hundreds of Sanaa University students held counter protests on campus, with some calling for Saleh to step down and others for him to remain in office.
From Egypt to Jordan and Algeria to Yemen, Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" has begun to undermine Arab regimes that have for decades maintained their control through fear, analysts say.
"The question is who remains," not which country is next, said Amr Hamzawy, research director at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, adding protests could affect most Arab states except for Gulf oil monarchies.
"There have been some protest activities in the past in a scattered manner, but now there is a regional trend where citizens are taking to the streets to protest for social, economic and political rights -- it's not a one-country issue and a one-day phenomenon."
"What happened in Tunisia has broken the shackles of fear and showed that it was possible -- with surprising speed -- to topple a regime, and that it wasn't as difficult as the people imagined," said Burhan Ghalioun, director of the Centre d'etudes sur l'Orient Contemporain in Paris who in 1977 wrote a Manifesto for Democracy in the Arab world.
Egyptians have long shared the grievances that drove Tunisians to revolt. Unemployment, low wages and sky-rocketing food prices have all contributed to the rumbling wave of popular discontent.
But the fear of serious strife in Egypt has set alarm bells ringing in Israel.
"The Israeli strategic community is praying that this unrest in Egypt will fade away and not escalate into a prolonged period of instability," said Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of the respected Reut Institute think tank.
Israel has long sought normal relations with its neighbours, but Egypt was its only Arab associate until the peace process launched by the 1993 Oslo interim accords led to a treaty with Jordan and a few other Arab countries.
However, Egypt remains by far its most important Middle East partner, a regular facilitator in interminable peace negotiations and until now a rock of stability in an otherwise turbulent area.
Israeli officials say in private they cannot believe President Hosni Mubarak will be overthrown by the demonstrations. But if he should fall, there is no guarantee whoever might follow him will continue to tend to Israel ties.
Ordinary Egyptians have never warmed to Israel, despite more than three decades of peace, and regularly blame it for their woes.
"If Mubarak is toppled then Israel will be totally isolated in the region," said Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a former ambassador to Turkey.
The unrest in Egypt has also presented the Obama administration with a delicate balancing act, juggling its desire for a return to Middle Eastern stability, its support for democratic principles and its determination to avoid the rise of an anti-U. S. Islamist government in Cairo potentially allied with Iran.
Weighing in for the first time after three days of Egyptian unrest, U.S. President Barack Obama called on Mr. Mubarak to make "absolutely critical" political reforms.
The Arab protest movements have also highlighted weaknesses and the lack of popular legitimacy of some Arab regimes.
"You cannot run society without offering social justice, without distributing revenues in a just manner and without giving people their political freedom and rights. Nobody can accept that in the 21st century, and Arabs are showing they are no exception," said Mr. Hamzawy.
Ghassan Sharbel, editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, said, "Either Arab regimes listen to popular demands and decide to start real reforms, or they continue to rely only on the security apparatus, and in that case these regimes could collapse" one after the other.
(CNN) -- The U.S. relationship with President Hosni Mubarak's Egypt is full of contradictions and tensions, according to recently published U.S. diplomatic cables, but also underpinned by similar basic interests in a rough and unpredictable part of the world.
A CNN analysis of secret and confidential cables published by WikiLeaks and its media partners reveals U.S. frustration with Mubarak's lack of succession planning, concerns over stuttering economic reform and private criticism of the Mubarak government's hard line toward domestic opponents.
But the cables also show that Washington sees Egypt as an important and -- until now -- stable ally on issues, including Iran's nuclear program, promoting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and making life difficult for Hamas in Gaza.
And above all, Egypt is regarded as a moderate bulwark against Iranian-sponsored Islamist fundamentalism.
The cables show that Mubarak has taken a persistently hard line toward Iran, telling U.S. diplomats in 2008 that he had warned Tehran "not to provoke the Americans" on the nuclear issue and insisting Egypt could never accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
Mubarak has also repeatedly warned of Iran's influence with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in a cable from February last year, was quoted as describing "Tehran's hand moving with ease throughout the region, from the Gulf to Morocco."
A 2009 cable noted that with "the discovery of a Hezbollah cell in Egypt, the Egyptians appear more willing to confront the Iranian surrogates and to work closely with Israel." To that end, the cables describe the Mubarak government as a helpful partner in stopping smuggling into Gaza from Egypt. A cable from 2008 quoted a senior Egyptian military figure as stating that Egypt had spent approximately $40 million to purchase the steel for an underground wall on the Gaza border, "and Egypt was paying the cost of this wall in terms of public opinion both within Egypt and the region."
There is no guarantee that any "successor" to the Mubarak government would take such a hard line with Hamas.
For the U.S., the alliance between Egypt and Saudi Arabia has also been an important counterweight to growing Iranian influence on the "Arab street" and among states such as Syria and Qatar.
Egyptian officials, from Mubarak down, have also repeatedly impressed upon visiting Americans -- military, diplomatic and Congressional -- that it alone among Arab states can play a mediating role between Israel and the Palestinians. [Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Mubarak has resisted popular opposition to it.]
Ahead of Mubarak's visit to Washington in May 2009, Ambassador Margaret Scobey wrote from Cairo that "the Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America's indispensable "Arab ally."
Scobey continued that Mubarak was "a tried and true realist, innately cautious and conservative, and has little time for idealistic goals."
He viewed himself as "someone who is tough but fair, who ensures the basic needs of his people."
At the same time, the Mubarak government has been very sensitive to any perceived slight from Washington. It has complained about cuts in U.S. economic aid and a stagnant level of military aid "because it shows our diminished view of the value of our relationship" according to one cable.
On pressure to improve human rights, according to one cable from Scobey in 2009, "Mubarak takes this issue personally, and it makes him seethe when we raise it, particularly in public."
In a later cable, she said that Mubarak "harkens back to the Shah of Iran: the U.S. encouraged him to accept reforms, only to watch the country fall into the hands of revolutionary religious extremists."
The Egyptian president relied on his interior minister and intelligence service to "keep the domestic beasts at bay, and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics."
The U.S. cables display frustration with Mubarak's reluctance to address human rights issues, with one in 2008 saying: "While Egypt has made some limited gains over the last several years, such as on freedom of the press, progress overall has been slow."
In a later cable, Scobey suggested the new U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton "may wish to lay down a marker for a future discussion on democratization and human rights concerns." But given Mubarak's sensitivities, the U.S. has trodden carefully in pressing the Egyptian government on human rights. A cable from 2009 said the United States now avoided "the public confrontations that had become routine over the past several years" over human rights.
Over the past five years, the cables reveal a growing unease with the lack of a succession plan, and apprehension about the prospect of Mubarak's younger son, Gamal, taking over from his father. As far back as April 2006, one cable observed that Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, was their son's "most ardent booster" but added: "The possibility that Gamal might succeed his father remains deeply unpopular on the street."
It adds that "unlike his father, (Gamal) cannot take the military's support for granted," having never served as an officer. But the same cable laments the lack of obvious contenders to succeed the aging Mubarak -- a situation that appears to hold today.
Scobey wrote in apparent frustration two years ago that Mubarak "seems to be trusting to God and the ubiquitous military and civilian security services to ensure an orderly transition."
Recent events may have eroded that confidence, but one cable in 2007 pointed out that Egypt's internal security apparatus, "an estimated 1.4 million strong, is at least twice the size it was under Sadat ... and makes any kind of violent change of leader unlikely."
That perspective is now being challenged -- and the role of the military may be critical in deciding the outcome. A cable from 2008 cites Egyptian experts as describing a "disgruntled mid-level officer corps" with military salaries falling far behind the civilian sector and the top brass averse to Gamal succeeding his father.
Egyptian commentators also noted that many officers were frustrated that loyalty to the regime trumped competence, and that the best military talent was sidelined in case it should pose a threat to the government. Even so, one cable concludes: "The military still remains a potent political and economic force."
After discussing whether the military might step in to prevent Mubarak from passing the baton to his son, the cable concludes: "In a messier succession scenario, however, it becomes more difficult to predict the military's actions."
Recent studies point to the feasibility of a global clean energy revolution.
Last night US President Barack Obama called for a massive green energy make-over of the world's largest economy. Describing the challenge as 'this generation's Sputnik moment' the US president set a goal of producing 80 percent of America's energy by clean sources by 2035. While this may sound improbable, two recent analyses back the president up, arguing that a global clean energy revolution is entirely possible within a few decades using contemporary technology and without breaking the bank.
"Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources," Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford said in a press release. "It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will."
Political will has been difficult to come by, especially in the US where comprehensive climate legislation failed to pass last year, and the nation still refuses to sign on to the Kyoto Treaty, although it has become a more proactive participant in international negotiation under the Obama Administration.
Yet, according to Jacobson's paper published in Energy Policy, not just the US's, but the entire world's energy needs could be met by electricity produced 90% from wind and solar sources alone. The final 10% could be generated by geothermal, hydro, wave, and tidal power. Ground transportation would be run by electricity or hydrogen fuel cells, and planes would be powered by liquid hydrogen. Since electricity is far more efficient than combustion, the world would see a 30% decrease in energy demand simply by switching to electric power.
In this truly revolutionary scenario, natural gas, coal, and oil would become energy sources of the past by mid-century.
Jacobson's timeline isn't too different from Obama's. The study finds that all new energy sources would be green by 2030, while all sources of energy could become green by 2050.
But what would this cost? Nay-sayers have argued for decades that it is simply too costly to switch to green energy. However, according to the researchers and a number of previous studies, the cost would not be much different than what society is paying today.
"When you actually account for all the costs to societyincluding medical costsof the current fuel structure, the costs of our plan are relatively similar to what we have today," Jacobson said who factored into the cost the lives saved2.5 to3 million people every yearby the massive reduction in air pollution from ridding society of fossil fuels.
In order to overcome legitimate concerns about the variability of wind and solar energy, the authors say that various energy sources should be packed together.
"The most important thing is to combine renewable energy sources into a bundle," Jacobson explains. "If you combine them as one commodity and use hydroelectric to fill in gaps, it is a lot easier to match demand. [ ] With a system that is 100 percent wind, water and solar, you can't use normal methods for matching supply and demand. You have to have what people call a supergrid, with long-distance transmission and really good management."
Finally, the study found that worries that wind and solar power would require too much land were overblown.
"Most of the land between wind turbines is available for other uses, such as pasture or farming," Jacobson said. "The actual footprint required by wind turbines to power half the world's energy is less than the area of Manhattan."
Although Jacobson's utopian vision of a green energy within a few decades may appear hard to believe, a series of studies by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has also found that a similar energy transformation is quite feasible, saving the world from the worst impacts of climate change.
According to the study a combination of a green energy boom, improvements in efficiency, and carbon capture and storage could meet the international community's goal to avert the world warming over two degrees Celsius. After last year's climate warnings2010 witnessed a number extreme weather events linked to climate change, and saw record melting in Greenland, and tied for the hottest year on recordthe UNIDO reports are an optimistic respite from increasingly grim news on the climate.
Except for a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s, Earth's surface temperatures have increased since 1880. The last decade has brought the temperatures to the highest levels ever recorded. The graph shows global annual surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 mean temperatures. As shown by the red line, long-term trends are more apparent when temperatures are averaged over a five year period. Image credit: NASA/GISS.
According to the UNIDO studies, a green energy revolution could provide a quarter of the cuts needed by 2050, while another quarter would come from energy efficiency improvements, especially in developing nations. The rest of the emissions cuts required would then come from carbon capture and storage.
"This technology is rapidly evolving not only for power plants but also for a wide range of industrial applications," writes the UNIDO.
In regards to cost, UNIDO agrees with Jacobson's study that clean energy can compete with fossil fuels. However, UNIDO found one caveat.
"Renewables are not cost competitive where fossil fuels are subsidized. They are, however, already cost competitive in many cases and many countries with unsubsidized fossil fuels," explains the UNIDO.
As of last year the world spent $500 billion on subsidies for oil, gas, and coal, which David Victor, a professor of political science with UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, at the time called mostly "a complete waste of money".
President Obama appeared to agree last night during his State of the Union. He pledged to end subsidies to oil companies and move these funds to support the American green energy revolution he envisions.
Still, Jacobson adds that while a green energy revolution is technologically and economically feasible, it will by no means be easy.
"This really involves a large scale transformation. It would require an effort comparable to the Apollo moon project or constructing the interstate highway system." Jacobson says, using the space-race metaphor that Obama also employed. "But it is possible, without even having to go to new technologies. We really need to just decide collectively that this is the direction we want to head as a society."
Greenland melt is the worst yet (January 24, 2011) http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0124-hance_greenlandmelt.html
Melting of the Greenland ice sheet was the most extreme yet in 2010, beating the previous melt record from 2007. This continues a long-term trend whereby melting in Greenland has increased on average 17,000 square kilometers every year since 1979. "This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average," explains Dr. Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at The City College of New York (CCNY CUNY), in a press release. "Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid-September." The record melt was due to summer temperature hitting 3 degrees Celsius above average (approximately 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit) and decreased snowfall. Nuuk, Greenland's capital, had the warmest spring and summers temperatures since record keeping began there in 1873. Melting of the Greenland ice sheet is especially worrisome since it contributes to the rise of the globe's sea levels. "Sea level rise is expected to top 1 meter by 2100, largely due to melting from ice sheets. And it will not stop therethe longer we take to limit greenhouse gas production, the more melting and water level rise will continue," said WWF climate specialist Dr. Martin Sommerkorn. Greenland wasn't the only warmer-than-average place last year. Worldwide, 2010 was the tied for the warmest year on record with 1998 and 2005, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The top 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. Climate experts overwhelmingly conclude that the world is warming due to extensive greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
Huge Numbers Of Dead Animals, Dead Birds And Dead Fish What In The World Is Happening Out There?
January 22nd, 2011
Just what in the world is going on out there? Large groups of animals are keeling over dead, thousands of birds are falling out of the sky dead and millions of dead fish are washing ashore all over the globe. Something is happening. Do any of you know what is causing all this, because I sure don't. This all seemed to start around the end of December when mass bird deaths and mass fish deaths began to be reported all around the world. Normally "weird" news stories like this kind of fade away after a time, but reports of bird deaths and fish deaths continue to come in and now there are even reports of large groups of land animals suddenly dropping dead. As these reports from all over the globe continue to pile up, it doesn't take a "conspiracy theorist" to figure out that something very much out of the ordinary is going on. Unfortunately, at this point we have a whole lot more questions than we do answers.
A couple good summaries of the mass bird and fish deaths that we witnessed during the first few weeks of this crisis can be found here and here. Unfortunately, large groups of animals, birds and fish continue to keep dying. The following is just a handful of the reports that have poured in from all over the globe during the past week or so....
It was easy enough to brush off one or two "mass death" news stories, but when they start coming in day after day after day it really starts to get your attention.
So does anyone know why all of this is happening all of a sudden?
Well, there certainly are a lot of theories being floated around out there. When things like this start happening people start coming up with all sorts of really wild ideas. Posted below is a list of some of the most common theories about these mass death. Some of the theories seem to have some substance to them, while others seem just downright bizarre.
Theories That Have Been Put Forward To Explain The Huge Numbers Of Dead Animals, Dead Birds And Dead Fish Around The Globe
*Changes In The Magnetic Field Of The Earth
*A Pole Shift
*Other Secret Government Programs
*The Approach Of 2012
*UFOs Are Responsible
*Effects Of The BP Oil Spill
*The Second Coming Of Jesus
*Birds Are Dying Because Of Indigestion
*Increased Radiation From The Sun
*Large Groups Of Animals Always Die And This Is All Normal
But what about the dozens of other "mass death" reports that have been pouring in from all around the earth? How do we explain all of those?
That is something to think about.
Hopefully all this will end up being nothing.
Hopefully it will turn out that all of this can be easily explained.
We certainly don't need any more problems right now.
As I wrote about the other day, the entire world financial system is on the verge of collapse. At this point any kind of major event could be the "tipping point" that pushes the global economy into chaos.
The world as we know it can literally change overnight. Today a reader emailed me the following video. It is entitled "The Day After The Dollar Crashes", and it takes the viewer through what a potential unraveling of the global financial system might look like. As you watch this, keep in mind that any type of "big event" could set off a panic like this...
Boat Harbour residents baffled by dead seals (January 17th, 2011) http://www.northernpen.ca/News/2011-01-14/article-2117717/Boat-Harbour-residents-baffled-by-dead-seals/1
'I've never seen anything like it'As many as 20 dead harp seals have washed ashore in Boat Harbour over the past couple of weeks leaving perplexed locals scratching their heads as to the reasons why. Wallace Woodward, who has lived in Boat Harbour most of his 52 years, says none of the residents can remember a scene that now faces them. Last week when the Pen stopped by, carcasses of several dead seals lolled about in the breakwater, some had been pushed ashore by strong waves and others were buried under three feet of seaweed.And its not just harp seals that have been swept into the harbour hundreds of dead catfish have washed onto land becoming entangled with the seaweed that is strewn along the shore.A myriad of other marine life like sea slugs, sea urchins and star fish have also perished in the past three weeks.Ive never seen anything like it by in all my years, Mr. Woodward told the Pen last Thursday, its just unbelievable.The former fishermen said the catfish appeared to be malnourished and skinny suggesting they may have been struggling to find food.The seals though, the seals look like they were healthy before they died, he said. CLIP
Hundreds of dead seals in Labrador (January 17, 2011) http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/01/17/nl-dead-seals-117.html
People on the north coast of Labrador say scores of dead seals have been washing ashore since early December. A conservation officer with the area's Inuit government estimated late last week that hundreds of adult and young seals have died in the area between Hopedale and Makkovik this winter. CLIP
Thousands of fish and animals die in floods (January 20th, 2011) http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2011/01/20/238171_news.html
FLOODS have killed thousands of fish, birds and other animals at Geelong's Reedy Lake.Recent heavy rains have filled the normally shallow freshwater lake at Moolap, dumping dead animals from other nearby waterways into it and sucking away the water's oxygen.Thousands of dead creatures are now floating on the lake's surface after having drowned or suffocated in the water, which has turned black. CLIP
Lester Brown's World On The Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse
"We now have an economy that is destroying its natural support systems. We are liquidating the earth's natural assets to fuel our consumption," Academy Fellow Lester Brown writes in his latest book, World on the Edge, the must-read book of 2011.
He warns: "If we continue with business as usual, civilizational collapse is no longer a matter of whether but whena time period more likely measured in years than decades." Before offering a road map for change, he tells a gripping tale of converging trends and missed signals.
Brown writes that "the market does many things well," and that no central planner could imagine, much less achieve, the efficiency with which it al locates resources. "But as the world economy expanded some 20-fold over the last century, it has revealed a flawa flaw so serious that if it is not corrected it will spell the end of civilization as we know it. The market, which sets prices, is not telling us the truth. It is omitting indirect costs that in some cases now dwarf direct costs."
He asks: "How can we assume that the growth of an economic system that is shrinking the earth's forests, eroding its soils, depleting its aquifers, collapsing its fisheries, elevating its temperature, and melting its ice sheets can simply be projected into the long-term future? What is the intellectual process underpinning these extrapolations?"
He compares the situation in economics today to that in astronomy when Copernicus arrived on the scene and had to marshal observations and mathematical calculations to dispel the notion that the sun revolved around the earth. We need "a new economic worldview based on several decades of environmental observations and analysis."
Brown states that the "key to restructuring the economy is to get the market to tell the truth through fullcost pricing . If we can create an honest market, then market forces will rapidly restructure the world energy economy."
Throughout the book, Brown marshals a chilling array of facts to document "the ongoing liquidation of the earth's natural assets. Among the most chilling parts of the book is his graphic description of how the world is hitting peak water.
"Melting glaciers coupled with the depletion of aquifers present the most massive threat to food security the world has ever faced." Half the world's people live in the 20-some countries where water tables are falling as aquifers are being depleted. China, India, and the U.S., which together produce half the world's grain, are in this group of 20.
"Water-based 'food bubbles' that artificially inflate grain production by depleting aquifers are starting to burst, and as they do, irrigation-based harvests are shrinking." Soil erosion, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the diversion of grain harvests to biofuels, more frequent crop-shrinking heat waves, and population growth all are compounding the problem, making food the "weak link in our 21st century civilization."
As part of the new geopolitics of food scarcity, numerous countries, led by Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and China, are leasing and buying up land (and therefore water) in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. Other buyers include India, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Libya, Qatar, and Bahrain. The details show the enormity of the implications.
One of the two policy cornerstones of Brown's roadmap for ending this crisis ("Plan B") is to restructure taxes by lowering income taxes and raising the tax on carbon emissions to include the indirect costs of burning fossil fuels.
Brown ends with a call to action, saying that lifestyle changes won't be enough. "Restructuring the global economy means becoming politically active . The choice is oursyours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress. The choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come."
"World on the Edge is brilliant. Author Lester Brown is one of humanity's greatest voices for the environment. In this volume, he presents the reader with a clear prescription for restoring sanity to our relationship with the biosphere. Highest recommendation."Geoffrey Holland, Author, The Hydrogen Age
"This is the ultimate survival guide for our species. Lester Brown plots a path around and beyond the looming environmental abyss with courage, compassion and immense wisdom." Jonathan Watts, Asia Environment Correspondent for The Guardian and author of When A Billion Chinese Jump
"No one is better informed than Lester Brown of the multi-faceted crisis facing our planet. And no one has spelt out so clearly how our civilisation could be saved from falling 'over the edge' while there ishopefullystill just time." John Rowley, founder/editor www.peopleandplanet.net
"Lester Brown has produced another 'planetary survey' book that tells us how to get off the wrecking train we are on by courtesy of a dozen environmental assaults such as climate change. The better news (and theres plenty) is that turning problems into opportunities generally puts money into our pockets." Norman Myers, 21st Century School, University of Oxford
"World on Edge details the vice closing around us: a quadruple squeeze of global warming and shortages in food, water and energy. Then it explains the path outand how little time we have left to take that path. Got anything more important to read than that?" Peter Goldmark, former head of the Port authority of New York and New Jersey, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and CEO of the International Herald Tribune
Read this month's Currents In Commerce from the World Business Academy by clicking here.
The Year of Living Dangerously (January 23, 2011) http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175345/
Rising Commodity Prices and Extreme Weather Events Threaten Global Stability -- Get ready for a rocky year. From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest. Start with a simple fact: the prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world.Its not surprising then that food and energy experts are beginning to warn that 2011 could be the year of living dangerously -- and so could 2012, 2013, and on into the future. Add to the soaring cost of the grains that keep so many impoverished people alive a comparable rise in oil prices -- again nearing levels not seen since the peak months of 2008 -- and you can already hear the first rumblings about the tenuous economic recovery being in danger of imminent collapse. Think of those rising energy prices as adding further fuel to global discontent.Already, combined with staggering levels of youth unemployment and a deep mistrust of autocratic, repressive governments, food prices have sparked riots in Algeria and mass protests in Tunisia that, to the surprise of the world, ousted long-time dictator President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his corrupt extended family. And many of the social stresses evident in those two countries are present across the Middle East and elsewhere. No one can predict where the next explosion will occur, but with food prices still climbing and other economic pressures mounting, more upheavals appear inevitable. These may be the first resource revolts to catch our attention, but they wont be the last.Put simply, global consumption patterns are now beginning to challenge the planets natural resource limits. Populations are still on the rise, and from Brazil to India, Turkey to China, new powers are rising as well. With them goes an urge for a more American-style life. Not surprisingly, the demand for basic commodities is significantly on the rise, even as supplies in many instances are shrinking. At the same time, climate change, itself a product of unbridled energy use, is adding to the pressure on supplies, and speculators are betting on a situation trending progressively worse. Add these together and the road ahead appears increasingly rocky. CLIP
Food prices to rocket by 50% as global hunger epidemic causes riots and famines (24th January 2011) THIS LOOKS LIKE A THINLY DISGUISED PRO-GMO PR STUNT TO ME... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1350009/Food-prices-rocket-50-global-hunger-epidemic-causes-riots-famines.html
The cost of food will soar by 50 per cent over the next few decades as the world becomes racked by famine, mass migrations and riots, experts have warned.The increase will be triggered by the exploding world population, rising cost of fuel and increased competition for water, according to a leading Government think-tank. Spiralling food prices will push hundreds of millions of people into hunger, trigger mass migration and spark civil unrest, the report warned. And in the UK, the price of basics such as bread, rice and milk will spiral to inflation-busting record prices within the next few decades. The report, from Foresight, a think-tank set up to predict future crises, called for urgent action to prevent food shortages, and said genetically modified crops may be needed to prevent famines. Even a modest rise in food prices could push 100 million people into hunger, the report warned Global food prices are already at a record high. Last month the price of cereals, sugar and meat soared on the worlds markets after a series of crop failures caused by bad weather. Foresight predicted that the worlds population would rise from 6.9 billion today to around 9 billion by the middle of the century. As the world gets more crowded and more wealthy, demand for food, water and energy will soar.At the same time, climate change will increase the risk of droughts, floods and crop failures creating a perfect storm of food shortages and above-inflation rises in prices.Co-author Prof Charles Godfray of Oxford University said: There is a very large risk of a quite substantial increase in prices over the next 30 or 40 years. We are going to have to produce considerably more food. So, inescapably, we are going to have to produce more food from the same amount of land without wrecking the environment. The report, written by 40 scientists in 35 countries, calls for a green revolution to boost production using traditional, organic and genetically modified crops designed to be resistant to drought or salt water and better training for farmers in less well-off countries.It also called for a massive crackdown on food waste. A typical British household wastes £500 to £700 a year on food that they buy and then throw away.
Global Poverty, Food Riots, and the Economic Crisis - Excerpt from: "The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century" by Michel Chossudovsky (January 25, 2011) http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22926
The sugar-coated bullets of the free market are killing our children. The act to kill is instrumented in a detached fashion through computer program trading on the New York and Chicago mercantile exchanges, where the global prices of rice, wheat and corn are decided upon. People in different countries are being impoverished simultaneously as a result of a global market mechanism. A small number of financial institutions and global corporations have the ability to determine the prices of basic food staples quoted on the commodity exchanges, thereby directly affecting the standard of living of millions of people around the world. This process of global impoverishment has reached a major turning point, leading to the simultaneous outbreak of famines in all major regions of the developing world. Famine is the result of a process of free market restructuring of the global economy which has its roots in the debt crisis of the early 1980s. It is not a recent phenomenon associated with the 2008-2009 economic crisis, as suggested by several Western analysts. Poverty and chronic undernourishment are pre-existing conditions. The dramatic hikes in food and fuel prices which preceded the 2008-2009 financial crash contributed to exacerbating and aggravating the food crisis. These price hikes, which reached their peak in July 2008, have hit the market for basic food staples, including domestic retail prices, in all regions of the world. Protest movements directed against the hikes in the prices of food and gasoline erupted simultaneously in different regions of the world. The conditions are particularly critical in Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, India and Bangladesh: CLIP
Recommended by Karen Anderson (email@example.com) who wrote: "I just read a fantastic, fierce, and starkly honest article by Terry Tempest Williams on the BP disaster. It is a very long article, but worth reading. You might want to excerpt it in a compilation..."
- April 20, 2010: the Macondo well blowout occurred approximately five thousand feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, causing the BP-Transocean drilling platform Deepwater Horizon to explode, killing eleven workers and injuring seventeen others.
- 5 million barrels of crude oil were released into the sea from the BP blowout. On average, sixty thousand barrels a day were escaping from the well before the gusher was capped on July 15, 2010.
- 632 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline have been oiled: 365 miles in Louisiana; 110 miles in Mississippi; 69 miles in Alabama; and 88 miles in Florida.
- There have been 411 controlled burns on the surface of the sea, killing hundreds of sea turtles and untold numbers of dolphins. The number of deaths has been greatly underreported.
- Four hundred species of wildlife are threatened by the spill, including marine life from plankton to whales, dolphins, sea turtles, tuna, and shrimp; dozens of species of birds, including brown pelicans and piping plovers; land animals such as the gray fox and white-tailed deer; and amphibians, the alligator, and the snapping turtle.
- 8 million feet of absorbent boom have been used to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; 3 million feet of containment boom have also been set around islands and shorelines for protection.
- 2 million gallons of a dispersant called Corexit have been applied on and beneath the surface of the sea to break up the oil. It is produced by Nalco Holding Company, which has corporate ties to BP and ExxonMobil. The EPA, on May 20, 2010, gave BP twenty-four hours to find a less toxic alternative. Corexits known toxicity, acknowledged following its use in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, was denied by BP. The EPAs request was ignored.
- On May 25, the EPA gave BP a directive to scale back their spraying of the sea with dispersants. The Coast Guard overlooked the EPAs edict and granted BP seventy-four exemptions in forty-eight days, essentially rubber-stamping their continued routine use of Corexit.
- Defense Secretary Robert Gates authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to fight the massive oil spill, alongside an army of 42,500 individuals paid by BP to protect and clean up vital shorelines in the Gulf of Mexico. Over 5,300 vessels of opportunity have registered with BP, captains with their own boats being paid to look for oil.
- August 5, 2010: BP officials reported a permanent stop to the spill. Crews used a static well kill to plug the gusher with drilling mud and then concrete. Two relief wells at depths of 17,864 feet and 15,963 feet are being drilled to ensure a secure and final closure of the well.
- Amid reports of the oil in the Gulf being nearly gone, an article in the August 19 issue of Science describes the presence of a plume of hydrocarbons at least twenty-two miles long and more than three thousand feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, residue from the Macondo well blowout. The plume was said to be moving in a southwesterly direction at a rate of about 6.5 kilometers a day.
I AM ANGRY. I AM OUTRAGED. And I am in love with this beautiful, blue planet we call home.
This story in the Gulf of Mexico is not a new story. Living in the American West, I understand the oil and gas industry, both its political power in a state like Wyoming and its lack of regard for the safety of workers. Broken necks and backs are commonplace injuries. So are lost fingers. Occasional blowouts occur on land as well, resulting in fatalities. Production is paramount at the expense of almost everything else.
And I have seen the environmental degradation that is left in the wake of collusion between government agencies and oil companies. Federal regulations are relaxed or ignored, putting the integrity of our public lands at risk. Ecological health is sacrificed for financial gain. This sense of entitlement among oil companies is supported by the U.S. Congress. It has direct results on the ground: burning slag pools; ozone warnings; contaminated water wells flushed with benzene; and loss of habitat for sage grouse, prairie dogs, and pronghorn antelope. The scars on the fragile desert of southeastern Utah, from endless road cuts to the sheared oil patches themselves, will take decades to heal. These are self-inflicted wounds made by a lethal economic system running in overdrive.
After months of watching the news coverage on the blowout and subsequent oil spill, I had to see for myself what I felt from afar: this catastrophic moment belongs to all of us.
On July 28, 2010, I traveled to the Gulf Coast with two friends: Avery Resor, a recent environmental science graduate from Duke University, and Bill Weaver, a seasoned filmmaker from Montgomery, Alabama, who now lives in British Columbia. Avery grew up on her familys cattle ranch in Wilson, Wyoming, where she continues to live in a log cabin without running water or electricity. She is twenty-four years old and bikes wherever and whenever she can. Her name ties her to a deep family history rooted in Louisiana: Avery Island, famous for Tabasco Sauce made from hot peppers, vinegar, and salt. Bill has dedicated his life to making films that illuminate issues of environmental and social justice. He facilitates Media that Matters, a yearly conference committed to more transparent journalism. He is more cat than human, quiet and nimble. When he rolls his camera, you dont know it. He has learned how to disappear so the authentic story can be told.
We arrived on the hundredth day of the oil spill and stayed until the static kill was complete. We sniffed out stories and followed them. We listened and we engaged. I took notes. Avery took pictures. Bill filmed.
The oil is not gone. This story is not over. We smelled it in the air. We felt it in the water. People along the Gulf Coast are getting sick and sicker. Marshes are burned. Oysters are scarce and shrimp are tainted. Jobs are gone and stress is high. What is now hidden will surface over time.
Meanwhile, 1 billion birds are migrating through the Gulf of Mexico this fall, resting, feeding, and finding sanctuary as they have always done, generation after generation. The endangered piping plover will be among them. Seventy percent of all waterfowl in North America fly through the Mississippi Delta. Their energy will be compromised, with food not as plentiful. Their health will be vulnerable to the toxic traces of oil and dispersants lingering in the marshes.
The blowout from the Macondo well has created a terminal condition: denial. We dont want to own, much less accept, the cost of our actions. We dont want to see, much less feel, the results of our inactions. And so, as Americans, we continue to live as though these 5 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf have nothing to do with us. The only skill I know how to employ in the magnitude of this political, ecological, and spiritual crisis is to share the stories that were shared with me by the people who live here. I simply wish to bear witness to the places we traveled and the people we met, and give voice to the beauty and devastation of both.
To bear witness is not a passive act.
Margarets fast speaking clip slows down. And then youve probably already heard about the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico created by all the dumping of pesticides from farmingthe nitrates from farms upriver? She pauses. My sense of hope is fading fast.
She looks away and then her gaze becomes direct. Dont believe 75 percent of what you hear about this blowout down here. Ask the people on the ground. People are not being allowed to talk. My husband has been working on the water for the past three months. Most of what is being done to clean up the oil is to make the American people think something is being done.
So whats the story that isnt being told? I ask.
Two things: how much oil actually has gone into the sea and the amount of dispersants used to make it disappear, she says.
The workers are getting sick with contact dermatitis, respiratory infections, nausea, and god knows what else. The BP representatives say all it is is food poisoning or dehydration. If it was just food poisoning or not enough water, why were the workers clothes confiscated? As we say in these parts, Answer me dat!
I never really got nervous until I got a call at nine-thirty on a Sunday night from the BP claims office telling me to back off. But Im speaking out. I kid my friends and family and say Ill leave bread crumbs. The other day, two guys from Homeland Security called to take me to lunch. Im a chef. They tried to talk food with me, to cozy up and all, and one of them told me he was a pastry chef. Margaret shakes her head. But I knew what they was up to, Im not stupid. They just wanted to let me know I was bein watched.
Heres the truth, Margaret says, now emotional. Where are the animals? Theres no too-da-loos, the little one-armed fiddler crabs. Ya dont hear birds. From Amelia to Alabama, Kevin never saw a fish jump, never heard a bird sing. This is their nestin season. Those babies, theyre not goin nowhere. We had a very small pod of sperm whales in the Gulf, nobodys seen em. Guys on the water say they died in the spill and their bodies were hacked up and taken away. BP and our government dont want nobody to see the bodies of dead sea mammals. Dolphins are choking on the surface. Fish are swimming in circles, gasping. Its ugly, Im tellin you. And nobodys talkin about it. Youre not hearing nothin about it. As far as the media is reportin, everythins being cleaned up and its not a problem. But you know what, unless I know where my fish is coming from, Im eatin nothin from here.
THE CONFLICT IN THE PERSIAN GULF and the conflict in the Gulf of Mexico are the same story, predicated on our collective thirst for oil. Our inability to connect the dots, the same oily dots that cover Comfort Island and the bodies of the dead in Iraq, is our unwillingness to see the world we are both creating and destroying simultaneously.
In 2010 alone, there have been major oil disasters off the coasts of China, Australia, and India. The people of the Niger Delta are drenched in oil, at risk physically and politically, every day. Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged for his protesting voice. And in 2009, forty-seven indigenous communities were decimated by an oil spill on the Santa Rosa River in Ecuadors Amazon rainforest. Our consumption of oil is murdering life.
We know what is required. Change. Change that is both personal and political, creating an uprising among us that will hold our government and corporations accountable for the warming of the seas and the disordering of Earths natural processes. We must also hold ourselves accountable for the choices we continue to make.
What are the 5 million barrels of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico worth to America? The oil now sullying shorelines and sea would have powered the U.S. economy for a total of four hours.
I am sick. I am tired. And I am shattered by what I saw: an ocean of oil that we had been told was nearly gone. But the people who live and work in the Gulf of Mexico give me great heart because they are speaking forcefully and truthfullyasking us to listen.
We are losing our minds if we believe that the source of our power lies in a circle of rigs named Deepwater Horizon. The source of authentic power is housed in the sacred nature of life, interdependent and whole, where a reverence for what is both human and wild is not only cultivated but honored. We must see our denial of this truth for what it is: madness.
China to create largest mega city in the world with 42 million people
China is planning to create the world's biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42 million.
By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai and Peter Foster in Beijing - 24 Jan 2011
City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta.
The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales.
The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.
Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.
"The idea is that when the cities are integrated, the residents can travel around freely and use the health care and other facilities in the different areas," said Ma Xiangming, the chief planner at the Guangdong Rural and Urban Planning Institute and a senior consultant on the project.
However, he said no name had been chosen for the area. "It will not be like Greater London or Greater Tokyo because there is no one city at the heart of this megalopolis," he said. "We cannot just name it after one of the existing cities."
"It will help spread industry and jobs more evenly across the region and public services will also be distributed more fairly," he added.
Mr Ma said that residents would be able to use universal rail cards and buy annual tickets to allow them to commute around the mega-city.
Twenty-nine rail lines, totalling 3,100 miles, will be added, cutting rail journeys around the urban area to a maximum of one hour between different city centres. According to planners, phone bills could also fall by 85 per cent and hospitals and schools will be improved.
"Residents will be able to choose where to get their services and will use the internet to find out which hospital, for example, is less busy," said Mr Ma.
Pollution, a key problem in the Pearl River Delta because of its industrialisation, will also be addressed with a united policy, and the price of petrol and electricity could also be unified.
The southern conglomeration is intended to wrestle back a competitive advantage from the growing urban areas around Beijing and Shanghai.
By the end of the decade, China plans to move ever greater numbers into its cities, creating some city zones with 50 million to 100 million people and "small" city clusters of 10 million to 25 million.
In the north, the area around Beijing and Tianjin, two of China's most important cities, is being ringed with a network of high-speed railways that will create a super-urban area known as the Bohai Economic Rim. Its population could be as high as 260 million.
The process of merging the Bohai region has already begun with the connection of Beijing to Tianjing by a high speed railway that completes the 75 mile journey in less than half an hour, providing an axis around which to create a network of feeder cities.
As the process gathers pace, total investment in urban infrastructure over the next five years is expected to hit £685 billion, according to an estimate by the British Chamber of Commerce, with an additional £300 billion spend on high speed rail and £70 billion on urban transport.
Silence is Complicity: The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force
by Dr. David Halpin - January 20, 2011
The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010. (1) Some of the facts have been published in national newspapers. These barbarous acts contravene international and national law but there are no judicial responses. The caring professions see the physical and mental pain of those who suffer and they should be in the vanguard in calling for this great cruelty to cease forthwith. Political leaders have failed to act.
The Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which is of central importance in holding war criminals to account in the jurisdiction of the UK, is being emasculated.
Most of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza strip is impoverished. Half are refugees from Mandate Palestine or their stock. About 50% of the male population is without work. It has been isolated and occupied for decades. A commercial port was being built in 2000 but that was bombed by Israel. The isolation and the hobbling of its commerce was increased by a siege which was started in March 2006 in response to the election of a majority of Hamas members to the legislature. It was further tightened in June 2007 after the Hamas government pre-empted a coup by the Fatah faction that was led in Gaza by Mohammad Dahlan.
The misery was further deepened with 'Operation Cast Lead' that was unleashed 27/12/08. This was promised 29/02/08 (2). "The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves. - Matan Vilnai Deputy Defence Minister to Israeli Army Radio. There was a massive bombardment which killed 220 adults and children in the first 15 minutes. This was followed by a full scale invasion. 1400 humans were killed and approximately 5000 injured physically. The minds of very many more were injured too. 4000 homes were totally destroyed, almost all the factories and 40 mosques. The two gleaming science blocks of the Islamic University of Gaza were flattened by very powerful thermobaric bombs, the blasts being heard throughout the 360 square kilometres of the Gaza 'Strip'. The siege has been even more draconian since. Cement, ballast and steel rods are only let in at about 5% of the rate needed for rebuilding, the pretext being that 'bunkers' could be constructed. At the present rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza. (3) Chocolate, writing paper and all manner of things have been blocked. The 1000 tunnels at Rafah have provided a way in for goods but in the face of bombing and roof falls.
The lack of any work and the extreme poverty of the large extended families has drawn the boys and men to scavenge for broken concrete ('gravel') in the evacuated Eli Sinai 'settlement' and in the industrial zone by the Erez border control post at the northern limit of the 'Strip'. The factories of the industrial zone have been progressively demolished by Israeli shelling etc. They are seen to the west as one enters Gaza through Erez. A donkey and cart, shovel, pick, sieve, muscles and courage are the tools. The rubble is used to make cement blocks and poured concrete with the cement that is imported largely through the tunnels. Many dozens of men and boys do this work for precious shekels in the shadow of manned watch towers and under 'drones' above.
The 23 boys who have been shot between 26/03/10 (Said H) and 23/12/10 (Hatem S) are listed in the table below with skeletal facts. These points are made:-
- In 18 there were single shots and not automatic fire
- The reported range in most cases confirms that the weapon was a sniper's rifle in the hands of a sniper
- Almost always there were many dozens of other men and boys at work; these victims were picked off
- A leg was the target in most cases. Where the leg was not the target it is likely the sniper was 'aiming up' so the flank, elbow etc was hit instead.
- No weapons were being borne by the gravel workers so they posed no threat to the Israeli Occupation Force personnel. Instead they were bending their backs to their menial work within their internment camp
- The histories refer often to the recovery of the injured boy by friends and relatives under fire. This was a feature during 'Cast Lead' or instead the paramedics were barred from getting to the victims so they died without care.
The history of the injury and sequel for each boy are linked to in (1). It has been done meticulously and the translation into English is perfect. The pain, and often the terror, felt by the boy as the bullet struck home are vividly recorded. No bullets have been recovered yet so the calibre/type is unknown.
- How many boys will regain full, or nearly full function is difficult to judge without the radiographs being present. Cases 3,4, 5,7,13 and 15 are likely to have joint involvement and thus some lifelong disability.
- In cases 1 and 3 there is nerve injury. If that proves to be an axonotmesis in either, it is possible that a first class repair will not be available in Gaza.
- The fractures are open by definition and no doubt comminuted. Delayed or non-union is possible. Deep infection is a real risk, antibiotic therapy not withstanding. The risk of deep infection relates to a. the possible inclusion of fabric b. the high energy injury causing irregular and wide devitalisation of the tissues c. the probability that these difficult bullet wounds were not laid open and a complete wound toilet performed. One or two of these boys might end with an amputation.
- Almost all the boys have been frightened off or forbidden from gravel work. There are few, if any, other means of earning shekels.
The shooting to wound and kill Palestinians is relentless. DCI-P notes that according to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea. At least 27 of these civilians were children. It also notes that the targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of circumstances.
These quotations from the available stories convey a little of the poverty, the suffering and the courage:-
- 'The three of us would wake up every day at around 5:30am and leave to collect gravel. We were not the only ones doing this type of work. Hundreds of youngsters aged between 13 and 22 used to work with us, despite the danger we faced because we were close to the Israeli border.' Awad W- 3
- The work was exhausting and dangerous. Israeli soldiers would sometimes shoot at us, and sometimes shoot in the air to intimidate us, recalls Ibrahim . 'Sometimes they wouldshoot at the carts, horses and donkeys we used to move the gravel. But we had to do the work despite the dangers, because we didn't have any other job to do. Ibrahim K- 4
- Mohammad was taught by his neighbours to watch for birds flying away from the watch towers, as this was a sign to start running, as it meant soldiers were climbing into the towers and the shooting would soon begin. Mohammad M - 6
- 'They killed our three horses and one donkey in four months, and we had to spend the money we earned on replacing them.' They were down on their stomachs pointing their rifles towards us, but they didn't shoot. We got used to such things.
On January 26, 2011, long-time ERN subscriber Lisa Rene Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
Thanks again for the wonderful work you do!
I am actively spending many hours of my own time to spread the word about the effect of microwaves and EMF "smog" on people and the environment through devices such as cell towers, smart meters and cell phones. See www.CellTowerDangers.org and I am EMF sensitive myself-- perhaps from using a cell phone for many years. Now they want to place a broadcasting smart meter 5 feet from our bed!
There is very little feedback from the spiritual community about this topic and I feel it is one of the most important issues of our time. I am hoping you or your readers might provide some insight into this, since many people are being affected. Any guidance would be appreciated!
Thanks, Lisa Rene Anderson
AND MY REPLY WAS:
Dear Lisa Rene
Thanks for your kind words of appreciation and for your commitment to help raise awareness about the nefarious effects of the growing electrosmog invasion of our environment.
I was thinking about this irresponsible promise, showing his lack of understanding of the threat posed by ever-increasing microwave radiations, especially for the growing number of electro-hypersensitive people, and the vision of him as being like Goofy, the Disney cartoon character, came to mind because like Goofy I'm sure he means well with this project, but this still amounts to a major environmental blunder as there should be, in recognition of the plight suffered by electro-hypersentivive people, large enough areas, throughout the US (and around the world) set aside as "Very Low Emissions Zones" with not cell phone coverage, no wifi radiation, no smart meters and no antennas of any kind allowed so as to create safe havens for those who are gravely affected by this health problem and who might want to move and live permanently in those protected areas. Concomitantly, these areas could also be designated as "Very Low Chemical Exposure Zones" where people who are extremely allergic to any kind of chemical exposure would also find a safe heaven.
Now concerning the potential blatant disrespect of your health condition by your utility company, you have 3 choices at least that comes to mind toughing it out NOT being an option, of course:
1) You get one or several physician(s) to recognize your hypersensitivity problem, get each of them to put that down on paper (with some kind of prestigious-looking letterhead) with a forceful recommendation that your utility company refrains from installing any smart meter within a 100 meter radius from your home hopefully that distance will suffice and especially none that would place your home on an emission pathway between any smart meter and a local cell phone mast. Then you get a lawyer to prepare a strongly worded threat of court litigation against the utility company if they dare ignore your request. Then you go visit everyone in your neighborhood with a flyer explaining in simple terms the problem everyone is going to face that is, incurring the risk of suddenly acquiring electro-hypersentivivity because of their exposure to the microwaves to be blasted at them 24/7 and asking them to sign a petition you'll design to request the utility company to stick with the existing "dumb" meters and avoid the public opprobrium and bad media exposure that will be unleashed upon it if they dare disrespect their clients' request. Then you request a personal meeting with the head of the Utility company in your area aim as high as possible in their hierarchy and avoid wasting your time with non-decision-making staff. Make sure that all along you have at least one sympathetic journalist avoid at all cost the skeptical type as he/she could torpedo all your efforts that is going to be kept informed of what you are going to do and bring a recording gizmo (or better a friend with a video camera) when you'll meet face to face the top dog at the utility company and let him/her know in no uncertain terms that you will not back down and raise a holy ruckus if your request is not promptly honored with a written commitment that guarantees they won't try to finess their way out of this and renege on their pledge to you. I know this sounds like a LOT of work, but you would set a precedent - if successful - that could spell the end of this infamy. Oh... it would help also to have your town council get behind you with a formal statement and/or with voting resolution asking the utility to back down from their project. Also perhaps their could be an NGO or a group in your area involved in fighting back these smart meters that could help you with organizing your campaign and making it high profile enough that it cannot be ignored.
2) If taking this rote above proves to be unfeasible or too much of a hassle, you ask the utility to disconnect your house from the utility pole the minute they try to install a smart meter, and you buy solar and/or wind energy production units to become self-sufficient energy-wise. You learn to live off the grid as people do in remote areas. That would not prevent you from being blasted by your neighbors' smart meters, but, in theory, not having one installed 5 feet from your bed would be a good mitigation measure.
3) If you cannot do #2, you move your bed as far away as possible from the meter or you move to live elsewhere altogether... hoping the same problem won't occur there.
I hope this is helpful. Please keep me informed about what you'll do, as I'll be most happy to keep other ERN subscribers informed of your progress with this. Perhaps, some will even get in touch with you and offer you their assistance and support. I'll include this in my next compilation ;-)
Countries around the world are beginning to apply the science of well-being to the decisions they make. News from the 5th International Conference on Gross National Happiness.
by John de Graaf - Dec 06, 2009
The study of happiness is experiencing a boom. Its practitioners include economists who believe that gross domestic product (GDP) is too limited a tool to measure the success of societies, psychologists and sociologists who feel that their disciplines have focused too much on neuroses and social problems and not enough on determining what kind of activities and policies actually contribute to happier societies, and political leaders who want to know how to make use of their findings.
During the 5th International Gross National Happiness Conference, held last week in Brazil, happiness proponents from around the world were able to come together and compare notes about the practical application of happiness science.
The Science of Happiness
Not surprisingly, that science has found that beyond a certain minimum level of income, greater happiness comes from strong and plentiful human connections, a sense of control over ones life and employment, meaningful work, good health, basic economic security, trust in others and in government, and other factors less directly connected with monetary remuneration.
I was invited to the conference to speak about the connection between work (or overwork), health, and happiness. I made the case that shorter working hours are crucial to happiness, health, and long-term sustainability. The United States, with among the longest working hours in the industrial world, scores far below northern European nations in calculations of leisure time, longevity, and overall health, while having an ecological footprint nearly twice as largefacts which are clearly related.
Studies of life satisfaction can now compare regular polling data from many countries, making it easier to understand how economic and policy decisions impact national happiness. In recent years, such polls have consistently found that the highest levels of satisfaction are found in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Swedencountries with a strong sense of social solidarity and attention to work-life balance, small income gaps, high taxation rates, and strong social safety nets.
These studies also find that many relatively income-poor nations, such as Costa Rica and Colombia, also have high rates of life satisfaction, leading one group of British researchers to establish a Happy Planet Index, which compares life satisfaction scores, life expectancies, and ecological footprints to produce a net rating for happiness. Many so-called developing countries actually rank at the top of their index.
Gross National Happiness
One country that takes happiness very seriously is Bhutan, the small Himalayan kingdom that hosted the first Gross National Happiness Conference. In 1972, Bhutans king proclaimed in 1972 that Gross National Happiness is more important then Gross National Product.
Since then, Bhutan has enshrined the concept in its constitution and looked for ways to apply it and measure it. Karma Ura, the Bhutanese director of the Center for Bhutan Studies and a speaker at the conference, explained that, over time, the Bhutanese have identified nine aspects that factor into analyses of happiness. They include: psychological well-being; good health; time use (work-life balance); community vitality; education; cultural preservation; environmental protection; good governance; and financial security.
They have developed questionnaires, used in regular polls of the Bhutanese people, by which they assess life satisfaction in each of these areas. Included are such questions as: How safe do you feel from human harm? Rarely? Usually? Always?
Bhutan then uses the results of its questionnaires to guide public policy. Each governmental decision is based on assurance that it will not lowerand should in fact raiseoverall life satisfaction. One such analysis led Bhutans government to decide not to join the World Trade Organization.
Bhutans research, frameworks, and results can be found at its excellent website. While the country is among the worlds poorest materially, the Bhutanese have quite a high level of Gross National Happiness, especially in the countryside, and especially when compared to the resources they consume.
Bhutan is far from the only country where happiness has become a serious topic of conversation. This fall, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, only two years ago the champion of economic growth and American-style economics, made headlines by singing a very different tune: he organized a commission led by Nobel Prize economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to re-examine how France measures progress. The commission called for a focus on indicators such as health, family cohesion, and leisure time instead of the current emphasis on GDP. Sarkozy embraced their recommendations and suggested they be adopted by the European community.
In August, a European Union commission released a report called GDP and Beyond: Measuring Progress in a Changing World. It recommends more accurate reporting on economic inequality as well as the development of social and environmental indicatorsincluding a comprehensive measurement of environmental stewardship that would consider water and air pollution, climate change and energy use, biodiversity, waste, and resource use.
John Hall, leader of the Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societiesa project of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ratified by 30 countriesreported that the OECD is developing a whole new set of indicators on which to judge the progress of member countries. Its new Global Project aims at collecting so-called best practicessocial and economic policies that are clearly shown to increase life satisfaction.
In October, the 3rd OECD World Forum in Busan, South Korea brought together 2,000 researchers and activists from more than 100 countries to consider policies that focus on happiness instead of economic growth.
It really is a movement now, Hall declared.
No Vacation Nation (Sept 04, 2009) http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/no-vacation-nation
Its Labor Day weekend, and another summer vacation season has come to an end. For the 71 percent of working Americans who actually get a paid vacation, that is. If this year was like last year or the one before that, half of all Americans will have taken only a weekor lessoff work this summer. Compare that to an average of five weeks in Europe and you get an idea why some people call the United States No Vacation Nation.In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller lamented that we suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation, but even those two weeks arent a legal right, and millions of working Americans dont get them.Nearly all other countries in the world have something we dont: a national law mandating that workers receive some amount of paid vacation each year. Only the Guyanas, Nepal, and that paragon of human rights, Myanmar (Burma) join the US in having no vacation law.Whats with the difference? And does it really matter if people have vacation time or not? Some 50 experts from the fields of medicine, psychology, business, labor, recreation, environmental sciences, and family studies joined a group of activists at Seattle University to try to answer those questions.Their answers were resoundingly clear: vacations are not an idle luxury. Theyre a crucial ingredient in creating a healthy, civically engaged, and environmentally responsible society.Vacations matter, especially for health. Sarah Speck, a cardiologist at Seattles Swedish hospital, scared everyone at the conference with a graphic look at the impact of stress, and especially workplace stress, on heart health, concluding that such stress is the new tobacco, and that vacations are an important way to reduce stress and burnout.
(...) Vacations also offer considerable benefits for productivity and creativity in the workplace, explained Joe Robinson, a business consultant. Several experts from both the U.S. and Canada pointed out the value of vacations for family bonding. Moreover, working less is essential to a sustainable environment. We Americans consume more than the planet will bear. Its time to begin trading gains in productivity for time instead of for stuff. A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that simply by cutting our work time to European levels, we could reduce our energy use and carbon footprint by 25-30 percent. It would also make us happierForbes magazine reported that the four happiest nations on earthDenmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Swedenare all characterized by the comparatively short working hours and attentiveness to work-life balance. CLIP
The Economics of Happiness (Sept 21, 2009) http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/the-economics-of-happiness
(...) The main problem with using GDP as a primary economic indicator is that, ultimately, it is simply the sum of all transactions in a country. It values guns and prisons in the same way it values music and medicine: by how much money changes hands. When the Exxon Valdez spilt its oil on the shores of Alaska in 1989 it increased U.S. GDP by $2 billion, thanks to the costs of the clean-up operation. But when a free concert is put on in a town square, or a parent participates on a school board, or a volunteer helps a charity, the change to the balance sheet is a big zero. CLIP
The Rise and Fall of the G.D.P. (May 13, 2010) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/magazine/16GDP-t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=gdp&st=cse
(...) For decades, academics and gadflies have been critical of the measure, suggesting that it is an inaccurate and misleading gauge of prosperity. What has changed more recently is that G.D.P. has been actively challenged by a variety of world leaders, especially in Europe, as well as by a number of international groups, like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The G.D.P., according to arguments I heard from economists as far afield as Italy, France and Canada, has not only failed to capture the well-being of a 21st-century society but has also skewed global political objectives toward the single-minded pursuit of economic growth. The economists messed everything up, Alex Michalos, a former chancellor at the University of Northern British Columbia, told me recently when I was in Toronto to hear his presentation on the Canadian Index of Well-Being. The index is making its debut this year as a counterweight to the monolithic gross domestic product numbers. The main barrier to getting progress has been that statistical agencies around the world are run by economists and statisticians, Michalos said. And they are not people who are comfortable with human beings. The fundamental national measure they employ, he added, tells us a good deal about the economy but almost nothing about the specific things in our lives that really matter.In the U.S., one challenge to the G.D.P. is coming not from a single new index, or even a dozen new measures, but from several hundred new measures accessible free online for anyone to see, all updated regularly. Such a system of national measurements, known as State of the USA, will go live online this summer. Its arrival comes at an opportune moment, but it has been a long time in the works. CLIP
Thinley: From the governments point of view, Bhutan has undertaken this pursuit through four broad strategies, or indicators. First, we are promoting sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development which can be measured to a larger extent through conventional metrics.
Second is the conservation of a fragile ecology, [using] indicators of achievement, [such] as the way the green [vegetation] cover in my country has expanded over the last 25 years from below 60 to over 72 percent. The very conscious efforts and the very deliberate program interventions ensure that in no way will Bhutan have loss of biodiversity. We of course continue to be very directly involved in raising consciousness and concern and trying to promote policy reorientation especially with respect to battling climate change. And it is to that end that Bhutan will be hosting, sometime early next year, a mountain countries summit on climate change.
The third strategy is promotion of culture, which includes preservation of the various aspects of our culture that continue to be relevant and supportive of Bhutans purpose as a human civilization. Among the various things that we do is ensure that, as small as we are and as vulnerable as we may appear to be, no Bhutanese should suffer a sense of insecurity arising from loss of their cultural identity, language, and so on, under the onslaught of modernization. Today, Bhutanese have an appreciable sense of pride and dignity about themselves, which I think, again, is key to happiness. Family values and community vitality are things that we are promoting in a very conscious way. It is our hope that, unlike many of the developed, industrialized, and urbanized societies, Bhutan will always have the benefit of the social safety net in the form of the extended family network. There are various ways in which we can do this. Not least among these are, for instance, religious festivals, traditional festivals, and social festivals, which serve to bond community and family. It heartens me to see the multi-generational participation of families in these social bonding activities, giving very clear evidence of the vitality of the extended family networkas opposed to the state-supported artificial and unsustainable welfare systems that we try to prop up.
Then there is the fourth strategygood governanceon which the other three strategies or indicators depend. We know that democracy is the best form of governance. Democracy is what enables and empowers each individual not only to express his or her point of view, but gives the power to determine what kind of people should lead and how these people should be held accountable. From the moment that my government was elected we have devoted and continue to devote much of our time to trying to promote a democratic culture. CLIP
As I compose my first article of 2011, overwhelming gratitude floods through my entire being for this magnificent experience we call Life. I am joyous with gratitude for all the experiences that my choices conscious and unconscious have been answered by the Universe, bringing before me further experiences and further chances to define and choose again-the Highest Vision of my Self that I choose to Be. I am totally in love with the Magnificence of our Creator, the Power and Beauty of Love and the enduring Infinity that We All Are.
I am filled to overflowing with gratitude for my physical experience in this rich, diverse tapestry of Life and for having chosen, choosing and continuing to choose my experience of Creating and Manifesting consciously and for the expression of Truth, Love and Joy through the words I write. The written word is the aspect through which, in which and by which I enable myself to communicate to commune to join with you, hundreds of you, thousands of you, millions of you. I give thanks to the Universe that my words carry the power to dispel fear, eradicate pain, offer courage and encourage those who read them in their times of trouble, distress and confusion. I give thanks that they expose the misperceptions that have led us into wrong thinking about our Selves; thoughts such as; we die, that we need to seek forgiveness from a judgmental God, or that we can be destroyed, attacked or harmed by others in any way. I give thanks that my words are to remind you of how truly Magnificent You Are, and how utterly Eternal by design. I re-mind you of your eternal nature. I give thanks that my words are as gentle as the summer's breeze drying the wings of the newly emerged butterfly's wings, yet as powerful and creative as volcanic larva that breaks through hard shell to bring new life.
We are the everlasting living Expression of Creation in our purpose as Co-Creators, expanding creation through our experiences that we ourselves choose. We are one.
Each time I sit down to write, I start in the space of the Absolute, wherein All is contained. All potential resides there. My choice is bringing aspects of the All-Ness into Manifested Form, into the physical world for us all to share. That is what I can do in the human aspect of myself and in my chosen form of expression as a writer in my purpose as Co-Creator. I now consciously inhabit both realms at the same time; the Absolute and the physical expression we know as this life experience. They have now merged into one, there is no division. I hear, smell, touch, and most importantly feel the All in the everlasting Moment of Now. How then do I pull down those realities into the physical in a few hundred words for us to share? By aligning the One Will, mine and the Creators Absolute Will, knowing and experiencing it as being simply One Will.
Three words: Ask, Believe, Receive.
Shall I remind you of rainbow hued unicorns, of crystal waterfalls of healing? -For these and other wonders exist because of your greatness, my greatness, and Our Greatness. I am therefore Great-Full. We as One have created Universes and All the variety and wonders of life therein. We Are abundance, love, joy and peace personified.
You who read these words can choose two options for what you experience in life, the truth of love or the illusion of fear. You can choose to feel the power and truth of them and thus remind yourself that you and I are the same One- Loves Choice. Or you can see me as separate to yourself, another in relation to who you believe you are-Fears Choice. I tell you that we are one. How you Will (to) choose creates your world and your experience of the world you create. You alone choose and define your own well-being, your joy, happiness, truth, compassion, wisdom, from how you think, what you think and where you concentrate your energy on. There are no victims in this Universe, only Creators. You choose your abundance, your experiences. There is no other. There is only you. All you.
I choose to remind you, that you may choose to remember and thus we are rejoined consciously.
.My heart flows over with Love of you and Who You Are. I give thanks and praise for your Vastness your Be-Ing, and your Truth I honor.
You are a magnificent creator who chose to experience the physical experience in order to create consciously and thus expand your experience of who you truly are and that in turn expands the whole of creation. This is what you came here to do. This is your great gift to us all. You are free to choose and choose again and by the law of attraction all that you choose will be given to you. It is there the instant you ask for it. Believe that it is yours, feel in your heart that it is yours and it is yours, no matter what it may be, no matter how impossible it may seem. Open your heart to receive and it is yours. That is the secret of Life.
I thank and bless all those who by my conscious or unconscious asking have provided me the opportunity to experience hurt, pain, sorrow, anguish, betrayal, deceit, destruction of my illusions, my beliefs and my ego. Especial blessings to those who would will to destroy or reduce me for they are my true salvation. Through them I am able to know Who I Am Not and thus Who I Am. They are the ones who polish the golden crown of my Be-ing from the base metal I thought I was. They are the true Philosophers Stone of my life. Thus on January 18th 2011 I bless and give thanks for all the days of my life and all the experiences of my Being. I Am great-full and blessed. Bless our One-Ness and Our Being. Glory Be to the Highest Vision or Our-Selves that We Are and contain the potential to be.
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