As of March 2010, Google is no longer supporting FTP publishing of it's Blogger blogs. Therefore I will be consolidating all of my blogs into a single front page format that I will be experimenting with and changing from time to time until I find something I like.
More Pain for Devastated Haiti: Under the Pretense of Disaster Relief, U.S. Running a Military Occupation (Arun Gupta, AlterNet, February 12, 2010) Official denials aside, the United States has embarked on a new military occupation of Haiti thinly cloaked as disaster relief. While both the Pentagon and the United Nations claimed more troops were needed to provide "security and stability" to bring in aid, according to nearly all independent observers in the field, violence was never an issue. . . . the Western powers rushing in envision sweatshops and tourism as the foundation of a rebuilt Haiti. This is opposed by the popular organizations, which draw their strength from Haiti’s overwhelmingly poor majority. Thus, if a neoliberal plan is going to be imposed on a devastated Haiti it will be done at gunpoint. . . . The rapid mobilization of thousands of U.S troops was not for humanitarian reasons; in fact it crowded out much of the arriving aid into the Port-au-Prince airport, forcing lengthy delays. . . . In the first week, the U.S. commander, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, said the presence of the Haitian police was "limited" because they had been "devastated" by the earthquake. The real powers in Haiti right now are Keen, U.S. ambassador Louis Lucke, Bill Clinton (who has been tapped by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to lead recovery efforts) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. When asked at the press conference how long U.S. forces were planning to stay, Keen said, "I'm not going to put a time frame on it" while Lucke added, “We’re not really planning in terms of weeks or months or years. We’re planning basically to see this job through to the end." . . . A new occupation of Haiti -- the third in the last 16 years -- fits within the U.S. doctrine of rollback in Latin America: support for the coup in Honduras, seven new military bases in Colombia, hostility toward Bolivia and Venezuela. Related to that, the United States wants to ensure that Haiti not pose the "threat of a good example" by pursuing an independent path, as it tried to under President Aristide -- which is why he was toppled twice, in 1991 and 2004, in U.S.-backed coups. . . . The latest scheme, on hold for now because of the earthquake, is a $50 million "industrial park that would house roughly 40 manufacturing facilities and warehouses," bankrolled by the Soros Economic Development Fund (yes, that Soros). The planned location is Cite Soleil. James Dobbins, former special envoy to Haiti under President Bill Clinton, outlined other measures in a New York Times op-ed: "This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms" including "breaking up or at least reorganizing the government-controlled telephone monopoly. The same goes with the Education Ministry, the electric company, the Health Ministry and the courts." . . . It's clear that the Shock Doctrine is alive and well in Haiti. But given the strength of the organisations populaires and weakness of the government, it will have to be imposed through force. . . . For those who wonder why the United States is so obsessed with controlling a country so impoverished, devastated and seemingly inconsequential as Haiti, Noam Chomsky sums it up best. "Why was the U.S. so intent on destroying northern Laos, so poor that peasants hardly even knew they were in Laos? Or Indochina? Or Guatemala? Or Maurice Bishop in Grenada, the nutmeg capital of the world? The reasons are about the same, and are explained in the internal record. These are 'viruses' that might 'infect others' with the dangerous idea of pursuing similar paths to independent development. The smaller and weaker they are, the more dangerous they tend to be. If they can do it, why can’t we? Does the Godfather allow a small storekeeper to get away with not paying protection money?" . . . Read more!
Watch the British Police Act Like Nazi Storm Troopers Be sure to watch to the end when the police attack the campers. It reminds me of the Chicago police riot in 1968. Is it any wonder that sensible people no longer can trust the police? It's a sad day when parents must tell their children that the police are our enemies.
700 Military Bases Spread Across Afghanistan, More than 1,000 Around the World (Nick Turse, Alternet, February 10, 2010) Nearly a decade after the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, TomDispatch offers the first actual count of American, NATO, and other coalition bases there, as well as facilities used by the Afghan security forces. Such bases range from relatively small sites like Shinwar to mega-bases that resemble small American towns. Today, according to official sources, approximately 700 bases of every size dot the Afghan countryside, and more, like the one in Shinwar, are under construction or soon will be as part of a base-building boom that began last year. . . . Existing in the shadows, rarely reported on and little talked about, this base-building program is nonetheless staggering in size and scope, and heavily dependent on supplies imported from abroad, which means that it is also extraordinarily expensive. It has added significantly to the already long secret list of Pentagon property overseas and raises questions about just how long, after the planned beginning of a drawdown of American forces in 2011, the U.S. will still be garrisoning Afghanistan. . . . "Currently we have over $3 billion worth of work going on in Afghanistan," says Colonel Wilson, "and probably by the summer, when the dust settles from all the uplift, we’ll have about $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion worth of that [in the South]." By comparison, between 2002 and 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers spent more than $4.5 billion on construction projects, most of it base-building, in Afghanistan. . . . The Pentagon’s most recent inventory of bases lists a total of 716 overseas sites. These include facilities owned and leased all across the Middle East as well as a significant presence in Europe and Asia, especially Japan and South Korea. Perhaps even more notable than the Pentagon’s impressive public foreign property portfolio are the many sites left off the official inventory. While bases in the Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates are all listed, one conspicuously absent site is Al-Udeid Air Base, a billion-dollar facility in nearby Qatar, where the U.S. Air Force secretly oversees its on-going unmanned drone wars. . . . The count also does not include any sites in Iraq where, as of August 2009, there were still nearly 300 American bases and outposts. Similarly, U.S. bases in Afghanistan -- a significant percentage of the 400 foreign sites scattered across the country -- are noticeably absent from the Pentagon inventory. . . . the total number of U.S. bases overseas now must significantly exceed 1,000. Just exactly how many U.S. military bases (and allied facilities used by U.S. forces) are scattered across the globe may never be publicly known. What we do know -- from the experience of bases in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea -- is that, once built, they have a tendency toward permanency that a cessation of hostilities, or even outright peace, has a way of not altering. . . . After nearly a decade of war, close to 700 U.S., allied, and Afghan military bases dot Afghanistan. Until now, however, they have existed as black sites known to few Americans outside the Pentagon. It remains to be seen, a decade into the future, how many of these sites will still be occupied by U.S. and allied troops and whose flag will be planted on the ever-shifting British-Soviet-U.S./Afghan site at Shinwar. . . . Read more!
US Corporations, Private Mercenaries and the IMF Rush in to Profit from Haiti's Crisis (Benjamin Dangl, Alternet,January 19, 2010) US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people. . . . In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble. One report from IPS News in Haiti explained, "In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren't seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists." . . . It is not this type of solidarity that has emerged in the wake of the crisis - and the delayed and muddled response from the international community - that most corporate media in the US have focused on. Instead, echoing the coverage and calls for militarization of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, major media outlets talk about the looting, and need for security to protect private property. . . . Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez responded to the US troop deployment. "I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said. "They are occupying Haiti undercover." The Venezuelan President pledged to send any necessary amount of gasoline needed to the country to aid with electricity and transport. . . . There is also little mention in the major news outlets' coverage of how the US government and corporations helped impoverish Haiti in the first place, creating the economic poverty that makes disasters like this so extensive. Nor is there mention of the country's heroic struggle against imperialism and slavery. . . . Disaster Capitalism Comes to Haiti . . . As Noami Klein thoroughly proved in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, throughout history, "while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times." This push to apply unpopular neoliberal policies began almost immediately after the earthquake in Haiti. . . . In a talk recorded by Democracy Now!, Klein explained that the disaster in Haiti is created on the one hand by nature, and on the other hand "is worsened by the poverty that our governments have been so complicit in deepening. Crises-natural disasters are so much worse in countries like Haiti, because you have soil erosion because the poverty means people are building in very, very precarious ways, so houses just slide down because they are built in places where they shouldn't be built. All of this is interconnected. But we have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy, which is part natural, part unnatural, must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti, and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interests of our corporations." . . . Following the disaster in Haiti, Klein pointed out that the Heritage Foundation, "one of the leading advocates of exploiting disasters to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies," issued a statement on its website after the earthquake hit: "In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region." . . . The mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) immediately offered their services to provide "security" in Haiti to its member companies, according to Jeremy Scahill. . . . On January 14, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a $100 million loan to Haiti to help with relief efforts. However, Richard Kim at The Nation wrote that this loan was added onto $165 million in debt made up of loans with conditions "including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low." This new $100 million loan has the same conditions. Kim writes, "in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms." . . . The last thing Haiti needs at this point is more debt; what it needs is grants. . . . While international leaders and institutions are speaking about how many soldiers and dollars they are committing to Haiti, it is important to note that what Haiti needs is doctors not soldiers, grants not loans, a stronger public sector rather than a wholesale privatization, and critical solidarity with grassroots organizations and people to support the self-determination of the country. . . . "We don't need soldiers," Patrick Elie, the former Defense Minister under the Aristide government told Al Jazeera. "There is no war here." In addition to critiquing the presence of the soldiers, he commented on the US-control of the main airport. "The choice of what lands and what doesn't land, the priorities of the flight[s], should be determined by the Haitians. Otherwise, it's a takeover and what might happen is that the needs of Haitians are not taken into account, but only either the way a foreign country defines the need of Haiti, or try to push its own agenda.". . . Read more!
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom's former ambassador to the United States, is reportedly under house arrest over a conspiracy against the monarch. ... Saad al-Faqih, head of the opposition group Islamic Reform Movement, told Arab-language TV al-Alam that Prince Bandar has been disappeared and the media has published no word from the ex-diplomat's whereabouts since nearly three months ago.
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India's Farming Economy on the Verge of Crisis (Gethin Chamberlain, The Observer, 12 July 2009) In Bhopal, and across much of northern India, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought and setting neighbour against neighbour in a desperate fight for survival. ... India's vast farming economy is on the verge of crisis. The lack of rain has hit northern areas most, but even in Mumbai, which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, authorities were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week as levels in the lakes serving the city ran perilously low. ... Across the country, from Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, the state that claims to be "the rice bowl of India", special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon season figures fell 43% below average. ... On Friday, India's agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a "matter for concern", with serious problems developing in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. ... In Bhopal, which bills itself as the City of Lakes, patience is already at breaking point. The largest lake, the 1,000-year-old, man-made Upper Lake, had reduced in size from 38 sq km to 5 sq km by the start of last week. ... The UN has warned for many years that water shortages will become one of the most pressing problems on the planet over the coming decades, with one report estimating that four billion people will be affected by 2050. What is happening in India, which has too many people in places where there is not enough water, is a foretaste of what is to come.. . . Read more!
Top French Court Declares Internet Access 'Basic Human Right' (The Times, June 12, 2009) France's highest court has inflicted an embarrassing blow to President Sarkozy by cutting the heart out of a law that was supposed to put France in the forefront of the fight against piracy on the internet. . . . The Constitutional Council declared access to the internet to be a basic human right, directly opposing the key points of Mr Sarkozy's law, passed in April, which created the first internet police agency in the democratic world. . . . The strongly-worded decision means that Mr Sarkozy's scheme has backfired and inadvertently boosted those who defend the free-for-all culture of the web. . . . Mr Sarkozy and Christine Albanel, his Culture Minister, forced the law through parliament despite misgivings from many of the President's centre-right MPs. It was rejected in its first passage through Parliament. . . . The law innovated by creating an agency, known by its initials HADOPI, which would track abusers and cut off net access automatically to those who continued to download illicitly after two warnings. . . . The law was supported by the industry and many artists. They saw it as a model for the USA and Europe in the fight to keep earning a living from their music and film. Net libertarians saw it as the creation of a sinister Big Brother. Many called it technically unworkable. Some artists saw it as hostile to the young consumers who are their main customers. . . . The Socialist opposition appealed to the council on the grounds that the constitution was breached by the creation of an extra-judicial agency with powers to punish internet offenders. . . . The council, which includes two former presidents and is usually seen as elderly and out-of-touch, gave the Left more than it was hoping for. . . . Les sages – the wise men – as the council is known, took the teeth out of the law. They ruled that "free access to public communication services online" is a right laid down in the Declaration of Human Rights, which is in the preamble to the French constitution. It also said the law breached privacy by enabling the HADOPI agency to track people's internet activity. . . . It agreed that the law reached the separation of powers because if gave an administrative authority power to impose justice. And to boot, it violated the presumption of innocence because alleged pirates would be cut off without being able to defend themselves, the council said. . . . The Government insisted today that the HADOPI law would still be put into force, without its censured sections. Ms Albanel, whose job is now on the line, said that the agency would still send warnings to abusers although it was not clear how it would track them. It would then be up to prosecutors and the courts to take action, she said. . . . That situation already exists and does not work in France and most other countries. Courts do not have time to haul in the millions of ordinary users who pilfer copyright material online. . . . While bloggers and internet users cheered the council decision, announced last night, the affair has left a bad taste in the entertainment world. Young musicians opposed the law as a weapon designed to protect the big recording companies. . . . Old-school leftists like Juliette Greco, the grande dame of Left Bank song in the 1950s, strongly supported the crackdown and reproached the Socialists for betraying artists with their opposition to the law. . . . Patrick Bruel, a middle-aged popular singer with leftwing views, railed against the council decision this morning. Downloading a song free is like walking out of the bakers' with a baguette and refusing to pay for it, he said. . . . Read more!
Irish Reform Schools: Thousands Beaten, Raped (SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Huffington Post, May 20, 2009) A fiercely debated, long-delayed investigation into Ireland's Roman Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades _ and government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation. . . . Nine years in the making, Wednesday's 2,600-page report sides almost completely with the horrific reports of abuse from former students sent to more than 250 church-run, mostly residential institutions. But victims' leaders said it didn't go far enough _ particularly because none of their abusers were identified by name. . . . The report concluded that church officials always shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest to protect their own reputations and, according to documents uncovered in the Vatican, knew that many pedophiles were serial attackers. . . . The investigators said overwhelming, consistent testimony from still-traumatized men and women, now in their 50s to 80s, had demonstrated beyond a doubt that the entire system treated children more like prison inmates and slaves than people with legal rights and human potential. . . . "A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from," the final report of Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded. . . . More than 30,000 children deemed to be petty thieves, truants or from dysfunctional families _ a category that often included unmarried mothers _ were sent to Ireland's austere network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s until the last church-run facilities shut in the 1990s. . . . The report, unveiled by High Court Justice Sean Ryan, found that molestation and rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless. . . . "In some schools a high level of ritualized beating was routine. ... Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body," the report said. "Personal and family denigration was widespread." . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Yet, my family wonders why I can no longer support an evil institution like this.] . . . Irish church leaders and religious orders all declined to comment Wednesday, citing the need to read the massive document first. The Vatican also declined to comment. . . . But the commission said its fact-finding _ which included unearthing decades-old church files, chiefly stored in the Vatican, on scores of unreported abuse cases from Ireland's industrial schools _ demonstrated that officials understood exactly what was at stake: their own reputations. . . . It cited numerous examples where school managers told police about child abusers who were not church officials _ but never did when one of their own had committed the crime. . . . "Contrary to the congregations' claims that the recidivist nature of sexual offending was not understood, it is clear from the documented cases that they were aware of the propensity for abusers to re-abuse," it said. . . . Read more!
The Declaration of Cumaná: Capitalism 'threatens life on the planet' Capitalism is leading humanity and the planet to extinction. What we are experiencing is a global economic crisis of a systemic and structural nature, not another cyclic crisis. Those who think that with a taxpayer money injection and some regulatory measures this crisis will end are wrong. The financial system is in crisis because it trades bonds with six times the real value of the assets and services produced and rendered in the world, this is not a "system regulation failure", but a integrating part of the capitalist system that speculates with all assets and values with a view to obtain the maximum profit possible. Until now, the economic crisis has generated over 100 million additional hungry persons and has slashed over 50 million jobs, and these figures show an upward trend. . . . Capitalism has caused the environmental crisis, by submitting the necessary conditions for life in the planet, to the predominance of market and profit. Each year we consume one third more of what the planet is able to regenerate. With this squandering binge of the capitalist system, we are going to need two planets Earth by the year 2030. . . . The global economic crisis, climate change, the food crisis and the energy crisis are the result of the decay of capitalism, which threatens to end life and the planet. To avert this outcome, it is necessary to develop and model an alternative to the capitalist system. A system based on: - solidarity and complementarity, not competition; - a system in harmony with our mother earth and not plundering of human resources; - a system of cultural diversity and not cultural destruction and imposition of cultural values and lifestyles alien to the realities of our countries; - a system of peace based on social justice and not on imperialist policies and wars; - in summary, a system that recovers the human condition of our societies and peoples and does not reduce them to mere consumers or merchandise. . . . We question the G20 for having tripled the resources of the International Monetary Fund when the real need is to establish a new world economic order that includes the full transformation of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, entities that have contributed to this global economic crisis with their neoliberal policies. . . . As for climate change, developed countries are in an environmental debt to the world because they are responsible for 70% of historical carbon emissions into the atmosphere since 1750. Developed countries should pay off their debt to humankind and the planet; they should provide significant resources to a fund so that developing countries can embark upon a growth model which does not repeat the serious impacts of the capitalist industrialization. . . . We condemn the discrimination against migrants in any of its forms. Migration is a human right, not a crime. Therefore, we request the United States government an urgent reform of its migration policies in order to stop deportations and massive raids and allow for reunion of families. We further demand the removal of the wall that separates and divides us, instead of uniting us. . . . We wish a world where all, big and small, countries have the same rights and where there is no empire. We advocate non-intervention.. . . Read more!
'Blue-eyed bankers' prompt G20 divide (Gaby Hinsliff, The Observer, 29 March 2009) The struggle of the world's poorest to survive a crisis minted by the richest is shooting up the agenda of this week's G20 summit in London, the largest gathering of world leaders here for 46 years. And Lord Malloch Brown, the Foreign Office minister, fears the economic storm buffeting a fragile continent may have violent consequences. . . . "If you look at the Democratic Republic of Congo, 200,000 miners have lost their jobs: in Katanga [the mining province] it is living hand to mouth with a few days' worth of foreign exchange, waiting to get an IMF loan," he said. . . . "The effort to integrate rebels in the national army, all that peacebuilding, is being incredibly affected by the fact they can't afford to pay the army. There have been four coups in Africa in the past 12 months, not all of them solely as a consequence of this, but I have a sense of a creeping tide of instability coming back. . . . "This is not to belittle people here losing their homes and their jobs, but in Africa I heard Bob Zellick, chairman of the World Bank, say that 400,000-500,000 infant deaths could occur as a result. People are dropping back into poverty, with a real risk to life." . . . The attack last week by Brazil's president, Luis da Silva, on "white blue-eyed bankers" revealed a new anger among some of the world's most populous countries at being dragged into a mess not of their making - and a determination to hold the west to account. . . . India's prime minister will use the summit to challenge what it says is creeping protectionism costing Asian jobs. China will exact more influence over the IMF in return for bailing it out. Chile's Michele Bachelet used a joint appearance with Brown to stress how, unlike Britain, her country saved vast revenues "during the good times" - which it is now having to spend. . . . Even George Soros, the currency speculator and major Africa donor, yesterday warned that the G20 must insulate developing countries "against a calamity that is not of their making". . . . So will a new world order emerge from this clash of nations? . . . But the predominant mood swirling around this summit remains one of anger, from the corridors of power to the streets of London where protesters threaten to hang effigies of bankers from the lampposts. . . . "There are 20 of them and they are in a room for maybe 10 hours. So they've got 30 minutes each, in effect," says Tony Dolphin, chief economist at the IPPR, a think tank. "Even if there were only six issues, that's five minutes per person per issue: what can they say in that time?" . . . Read more!
White, blue-eyed bankers have brought world economy to its knees': What the Brazilian President told Gordon Brown (JAMES CHAPMAN, Daily MailOnlin,27th March 2009) President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, launched a bizarre tirade in which he warned that next week's G20 summit in London would be a 'spicy' affair. . . . Gordon Brown's efforts to broker an 80billion (pound) bailout for world trade on a trip to Brazil hit a stumbling block tonight when the country's president lashed out at 'white, blue-eyed' bankers for bringing the world economy to its knees. . . . President Lula said it was completely unfair that the poorest people in the world were suffering most for the mistakes of wealthy, Western financiers. . . . 'This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of people that are white, blue-eyed, that before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics,' he declared. . . . 'Now they have demonstrated that they don't know anything about economics.' . . . President Lula, head of Brazil's main left-wing party, said that 'no black man or woman, no indigenous person, no poor person' had been in any way culpable for the global banking crisis. . . . 'I’m not acquainted with any black banker,' he said. 'The part of humanity that's responsible should pay for the crisis.' . . . Turning to the G20 summit in London, he added: 'Normally we are very polite with each other - but this meeting in London, it has to be a little bit spicy, a little bit of heat.' . . . Read more!
UK population must fall to 30m, says Porritt (Jonathan Leake and Brendan Montague, The Sunday Times, March 22, 2009) JONATHON PORRITT, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society. . . . Porritt's call will come at this week's annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron. . . . The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably. . . . Porritt said: "Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure. . . . Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact." . . . Population growth is one of the most politically sensitive environmental problems. The issues it raises, including religion, culture and immigration policy, have proved too toxic for most green groups. . . . However, Porritt is winning scientific backing. Professor Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum, will use the OPT conference, to be held at the Royal Statistical Society, to warn that population growth could help derail attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. . . . Rapley, who formerly ran the British Antarctic Survey, said humanity was emitting the equivalent of 50 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. . . . "We have to cut this by 80%, and population growth is going to make that much harder," he said. . . . Such views on population have split the green movement. George Monbiot, a prominent writer on green issues, has criticised population campaigners, arguing that "relentless" economic growth is a greater threat. . . . Many experts believe that, since Europeans and Americans have such a lopsided impact on the environment, the world would benefit more from reducing their populations than by making cuts in developing countries. . . . This is part of the thinking behind the OPT's call for Britain to cut population to 30m - roughly what it was in late Victorian times. . . . Britain's population is expected to grow from 61m now to 71m by 2031. Some politicians support a reduction. . . . Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: "You can't have sustainability with an increase in population." . . . Read more!
Three Million People Take to the Streets in France The protests, which polls show are backed by three quarters of the French public, reflect growing disillusion with Sarkozy's pledges of reform as the crisis has thrown tens of thousands out of work and left millions more worried about their jobs.
Streets in central Paris were packed with protesters waving anti-Sarkozy placards and chanting slogans, with badges reading "Get lost you little jerk!", the now infamous comment made by Sarkozy to a protestor at an agriculture show, much in evidence.
"There are more and more workers who feel they are not responsible for this crisis but that they are the main victims of it," said Bernard Thibault, head of the CGT, one of the eight trade unions organising the strikes.
More than 2 million people are out of work in France and despite an easing in inflation, even many with a job struggle with the high cost of living.
Workers at the Continental tyre factory pelted managers with eggs at the protest this week and the government and business leaders have been acutely aware of the danger of unrest spilling over into the kind of violence seen in the urban riots of 2005.
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#16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11 Osama bin Laden’s role in the events of September 11, 2001 is not mentioned on the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted" poster. On June 5, 2006, author Ed Haas contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters to ask why, while claiming that bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 1998 bombings of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the poster does not indicate that he is wanted in connection with the events of 9/11. . . . Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI responded, The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11." Tomb continued, "Bin Laden has not been formally charged in connection to 9/11." Asked to explain the process, Tomb responded, "The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11." . . . Haas pauses to ask the question, "If the US government does not have enough hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11, how is it possible that it had enough evidence to invade Afghanistan to 'smoke him out of his cave?'" . . . Haas strongly suggests that we begin asking questions, "The fact that the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Osama bin Laden to 9/11 should be headline news around the world. The challenge to the reader is to find out why it is not. Why has the US media blindly read the government-provided 9/11 scripts, rather than investigate without passion, prejudice, or bias, the events of September 11, 2001? Why has the US media blacklisted any guest that might speak of a government-sponsored 9/11 cover-up, rather than seeking out those people who have something to say about 9/11 that is contrary to the government's account?" Haas continues. "Who is controlling the media message, and how is it that the FBI has no 'hard evidence' connecting Osama bin Laden to the events of September 11, 2001, while the US media has played the bin Laden-9/11 connection story for [six] years now as if it has conclusive evidence that bin Laden is responsible for the collapse of the twin towers, the Pentagon attack, and the demise of United Flight 93?" . . . Read more!
Protesters Flood Thailand's Main Airport, Shutting Down Flights (Tim Johnston, Washington Post, November 25, 2008) Activists trying to bring down Thailand's government seized key parts of the capital's main airport Tuesday, forcing authorities to cancel all flights and dealing another blow to the country's reeling tourist industry. . . . "We want to seize the airport to show the media that the prime minister cannot control anything in Thailand," Suwan Kansanoh, a retired government official who was among the protesters, told journalists by phone. . . . The airport raid was the culmination of two days of demonstrations billed by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy as the "final mass rally" to oust the "killer government." . . . The government, led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, has refused to resign, insisting that the overwhelming mandate it won in elections held at the end of last year still stands. . . . At the core of the dispute lies the legacy of Thaksin Shinawatra, the controversial telecommunications billionaire and former prime minister who was removed from office in a military coup in 2006 amid allegations of corruption and cronyism. . . . Thaksin inspires visceral hatred among PAD supporters, who believe that the current government is his proxy. Somchai is the former prime minister's brother-in-law. . . . But as last year's elections proved, Thaksin and his allies still have the support of Thailand's rural poor -- a constituency he and his successors have courted with cheap health care and subsidized loans. . . . Although PAD leaders had made bold predictions about this week's demonstrations, the turnout, at about 20,000 people, has been smaller than expected, and a threatened strike by state enterprise workers caused little disruption. Political analysts say that despite their success in disrupting operations at the airport, the movement is struggling to maintain momentum. . . . "The reality is that they can't raise the numbers on the streets to force anybody to do anything," said Chris Baker, a Bangkok-based political scientist who has written a number of books on Thailand's troubles. . . . The past two days had been mostly peaceful. But there was an outbreak of violence on Tuesday night when PAD guards fired on opponents. The shooters were apparently responding to pro-government protesters who allegedly threw stones at a car carrying PAD members returning from another rally. Local media reported that 11 people were injured. . . . Although it has managed to paralyze the political process for the past six months, the anti-government PAD has had little success in articulating an alternative vision to end Thailand's political stalemate. . . . Gen. Anupong Paojinda, the army chief, said there would be no coup, even if violence broke out. . . . "The armed forces have agreed that a coup cannot solve our country's problems, and we will try to weather the current situation and pass this critical time," Anupong told reporters in Bangkok. . . . Over the past two days, the police have taken a deliberately nonconfrontational line, falling back as the PAD protesters, many of them armed with iron bars, wooden clubs or sling shots, advanced. The police tactics not only minimized the possibility of clashes, they also allowed the protesters to spread so widely that the demonstration became diffuse and directionless. . . . There are also economic pressures. Thailand is starting to feel the pain of the global slowdown, and many here worry that political paralysis is doing lasting damage to the country's ability to counter the mounting economic threat. The closure of Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi Airport will be another blow to a tourist industry already badly damaged by previous violent clashes between protesters and police. . . . Read more!
China 'winning cyber war', US told China has developed such a sophisticated and active cyber warfare programme that the US "may be unable to counteract or even detect" an attack, a US congressional panel has warned. . . . In its annual report presented to the US congress on Thursday, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said China was already stealing "vast amounts of sensitive information from US computer networks". . . . It said networks owned by the US government, defence contractors and US businesses were the focus of Chinese cyber attacks. . . . "China is aggressively pursuing cyber warfare capabilities that may provide it with an asymmetric advantage against the United States," the commission said. . . . "In a conflict situation, this advantage would reduce current US conventional military dominance." . . . The commission's report was released on the same day that a separate study by US intelligence agencies forecast a decline in US economic and political dominance over the next two decades, with rising powers such as China and India competing for influence and access to scarce resources. . . . In its report, the commission also warned that China's space programme posed a growing security challenge and potential threat to the US. . . . The commission, made up of six Democrats and six Republicans, was set up in 2000 to advise, investigate and report on economic and national security issues between China and the US. . . . In its report, running to almost 400 pages, the panel also criticised China for exercising "heavy-handed government control" over its economy and "continuing arms sales and military support to rogue regimes" such as Sudan, Myanmar and Iran. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Doesn't this also sound like what the U.S. Government does?] . . . On the economic front, it said "China relies on heavy-handed government control over its economy to maintain an export advantage over other countries". . . . As a result, the report said, "China has amassed nearly two trillion dollars in foreign exchange and has increasingly used its hoard to manipulate currency trading and diplomatic relations with other nations". . . . But it was China's expanding space and computer warfare programmes which took the bulk of the commission's attention - referring to Chinese capabilities in these fields as "impressive but disturbing". . . . The commission recommended that congress step up funding across a range of areas including "additional funding for military, intelligence and homeland security programmes that monitor and protect critical American computer networks". . . . China has yet to officially comment on the commission's findings, although it has responded to past reports by saying it does not try to undermine other countries' interests and seeks healthy ties with the US. . . . Read more!