Para el FMI causas iguales no producen efectos iguales

March 18th, 2011 by Jérôme Duval

Según el FMI su misión es «…contribuir a un nivel elevado de empleo y a la estabilidad económica, y hacer disminuir la pobreza.»[1], pero lo que vivimos es todo lo contrario: el desempleo aumenta sin cesar, reina la inestabilidad económica, y en todos los lugares en los que actuó el FMI, la pobreza alcanza sus cotas más altas. Es inequívoco: el FMI fracasa en todas sus acciones, comenzando por los objetivos anunciados en el artículo 1º de sus estatutos: «Facilitar la expansión y el crecimiento armoniosos del comercio internacional y contribuir así a la instauración y al mantenimiento de niveles elevados de empleo y de ingresos reales, y al desarrollo de los recursos productivos de todos los Estados miembros, objetivos principales de la política económica.»[2] 

Desprestigiado por los movimientos sociales y desacreditado por sus historias de corrupción, el FMI sufrió una falta de liquidez en el comienzo de la actual crisis: sus acreencias se fundieron, pasando de 106.800 millones de dólares a fines de 2003 a 15.500 millones de dólares a fines de 2007.[3] Podríamos entonces haber esperado una autocrítica de la institución que desembocara en una nueva orientación política hacia una mayor regulación. Pero eso es desconocer la razón de ser del FMI que, incapaz de apartarse de la doctrina neoliberal que lo constituye, está, a pesar de lo que diga su director general Dominique Strauss-Kahn, destinado a la continuidad sin ningún verdadero cambio estructural.

«Darle más dinero al FMI es como poner al lobo a cuidar las ovejas : se las va a comer»

En abril de 2009, los Estados occidentales, sin embargo en dificultad, decidieron reflotar el FMI por intermedio del G20 con el fin de ayudar a la institución financiera a retomar su rol de bombero pirómano momentáneamente frenado.[4] El FMI vio como sus recursos se triplicaban, pasando de 250.000 millones a 750.000 millones de dólares. Las reacciones no se hicieron esperar de parte de los movimientos sociales y también de algunos gobiernos progresistas: «Darle más dinero al FMI es como poner al lobo a cuidar las ovejas : se las va a comer», declaró el presidente boliviano Evo Morales. Por su parte, el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez enfadado, afirmó: «Decidieron aplicar la misma medicina que está matando al paciente : un billón de dólares, más dinero para un hueco sin fondo ; pero no sólo eso, sino que decidieron fortalecer a uno de los grandes culpable de la crisis que es el FMI, que por el contrario habría que cerrarlo».[5]
 

Confrontados a una crisis sin precedente, los gobiernos de los países industrializados llamaban a reformar el capitalismo, en todo caso se trataba de regularlo para mejorar su cara. Qué es lo que no habremos escuchado en aquella época: «Las agencias de calificación hacen un trabajo detestable», «Es necesario refundar el capitalismo» repetía el presidente francés Sarkozy en febrero de 2009. Un año más tarde, en enero de 2010, mientras que se esperaban más precisiones, el que se concedió un aumento del 172 % de su salario a contar desde 2008,[6] machacaba: «Francia no cuestiona el mercado. Pero un mercado sin reglas no es un mercado. Incluso si demasiadas reglas matan al mercado.» Decididamente, la tarea se pronostica mas bien difícil…

De todas maneras, las reglamentaciones y las regulaciones del capitalismo salvaje fueron fuertemente cuestionadas por los banqueros reunidos en el Foro Económico de Davos (Suiza) en enero de 2011. James Dimon, el patrón de JP Morgan Chase, delante de 2.500 patrones y dirigentes del planeta había advertido sobre los peligros de una regulación excesiva: «¡Demasiado es demasiado!» se sulfuró. Algunos días más tarde, Lloyd Blankfein, Presidente-Director General de Goldman Sachs, logró triplicar su salario para llegar a los 2 millones de dólares en 2011, «¿demasiado es demasiado?»

¿Otro G20 en vano?

Antes que a Estados Unidos, a Francia le toca la presidencia del G20 y del G8 en 2011. Excepto la foto de familia que clausura esas grandes ceremonias difundidas por todos nuestros medios comerciales, es muy difícil saber el coste que representa el evento para el contribuyente. Como ejemplo, según los cálculos suministrados por el gobierno canadiense, las ediciones precedentes del G8 y del G20 en Canadá en 2010 habrían costado 840 millones de euros, 712 de los cuales fueron para la seguridad.[7] Y es en este marco de las grandes y onerosas reuniones que los dirigentes de los países ricos intentarán regular un capitalismo sin aliento.

Para este propósito, Michel Camdessus, ex director general del FMI (1987-2000) aconseja a Nicolás Sarkozy para el G20 que debe celebrarse en Cannes en noviembre de 2011. Recordemos que el señor Camdessus está directamente implicado en las numerosas crisis que estallaron a causa de las políticas impuestas por el Fondo: México (1994), Tailandia (1997), luego toda Asia del sureste (1997-1998), Rusia (1998), Brasil (1999), Turquía (2001)… Muy cuestionado, Camdessus debió abandonar sus funciones el 14 de febrero de 2000, un año antes del fin de su tercer mandato y del estallido de la crisis en Argentina (2000-2001), no obstante un país considerado como alumno modelo del FMI.

¿Acaso Camdessus no había afirmado «Argentina tiene una historia que contar al mundo: una historia sobre la importancia de la disciplina fiscal, de los cambios estructurales y de una política monetaria rigurosamente mantenida»?[8]

En un informe [9] dirigido al jefe del Estado francés en enero de 2011, Michel Camdessus estima que la «regulación» debería estar gestionada por el FMI y aplicarla a los Estados , no a los mercados, ya que estos deben quedar libres y sin trabas con el fin de alentar la competencia más salvaje posible. Este informe preconiza especialmente «reforzar la vigilancia del FMI» sobre las «políticas presupuestarias, monetaria y financiera de los Estados» miembros y de imponerles «normas» de las que cualquier desvío podría ser sancionado. En forma clara, Camdessus aboga por «una disciplina eficaz» y una vigilancia acentuada del FMI con el objetivo de ir hacia un ajuste reforzado.

Elaborado por un panel de personalidades más liberales como Horst Koehler, ex director general del FMI, o Paul A. Volker, ex presidente de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos, el documento nos tranquiliza desde su primera frase: «La crisis mundial que se propagó a la casi totalidad de las economías desarrolladas y redujo el crecimiento mundial en el curso de la primera década de este nuevo siglo, está en vías de ser controlada» ¡Uf, dentro de poco ya estaremos a salvo! Es cierto que ya en mayo de 2008, el director general del FMI, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, había afirmado sobre el sector financiero: «las peores noticias están detrás de nosotros».

Por supuesto, habrá que esperar para que se produzca un cuestionamiento puesto que no es la hora de la autocrítica: «El objetivo de este informe no es sentar en el banquillo a todos los factores que contribuyeron a la crisis, ya se trate de la importancia relativa de las políticas económicas erróneas, de las debilidades estructurales de las instituciones financieras, de las debilidades de la regulación y de la supervisión o de las carencias de los dispositivos monetarios internacionales» Respondiendo a otro informe,[10] de la oficina independiente de evaluación del FMI, el señor Strauss-Kahn con medio millón de dólares de salario anual, dejará, aunque furtivamente, aparecer la incompetencia flagrante de la institución: «La incapacidad del Fondo de prevenir la posibilidad de una crisis sistémica de una manera suficientemente precoz, detallada y eficaz es un hecho que nos debe volver humildes…»[11]

El informe Camdessus es el enésimo informe que intenta una reforma del sistema para desarrollarse plenamente en un mundo sin crisis, pero lejos de buscar una vía salvadora y portadora de esperanza, se mantiene pegado a los fundamentos que llevan a los pueblos siempre hacia una mayor miseria. Es así como el FMI prosigue con su papel de gendarme de un mercado desregulado e impone sus sanciones a los países que no abdican. Encuadrar un capitalismo salvaje mediante unas reglas cada vez más estrictas del FMI siempre para mantener un liberalismo cada vez más desenfrenado, ésta es la única obsesión de los que detentan el poder de decisión. Sin embargo, el coste humano y ambiental de semejante gestión se ha vuelto tan gigantesco, que ya no se puede evitar la necesidad de juzgar a los jefes de orquesta de este lamentable desastre, en primer lugar el FMI del señor Strauss-Kahn.

 

Traducción: Griselda Piñero

[1] Documento del FMI de 2004 donde la institución trata de justificar sus políticas, p. 6 http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft…

[2] Estatutos del FMI, artículo 1º http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft…

[3] Leer Damien Millet y Eric Toussaint, Quand le FMI entonne un air de pipeau, http://www.cadtm.org/Quand-le-FMI-e…

[4] Rol que ha empujado a los países del Sur a la miseria, leer sobre esto Damien Millet y Eric Toussaint, 60 preguntas / 60 respuestas sobre la deuda, el FMI y el Banco Mundial, Icaria editorial, Barcelona, 2009

[5] BBC, 3 de abril de 2009.

[6] Según las cifras transmitidas en noviembre de 2007 al diario Le Monde por Roger Karoutchi, el secretario de Estado encargado de las relaciones con el Parlamento, el sueldo mensual neto del presidente de la República pasó de 7.084 euros a 19.331 euros en 2008, o sea un aumento del 172 % y no del 140 % como se había dicho.

[7] Opinión sobre el proyecto de la ley de finanzas para 2011 (nº 2824), Asamblea Nacional, 2011. Acción de Francia en Europa y en el mundo, franceses en el extranjero y asuntos consulares, presidencia francesa del G20 y del G8, por Mme. Geneviève Colot, diputada, http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/1…

[8] Michel Camdessus en la sede del FMI, 1 de octubre de 1998. Leer Martine Bulard, Les fourberies de M. Camdessus, Le Monde Diplomatique, enero de 2005

[9] El informe Camdessus, titulado : La réforme du système monétaire international : Une approche coopérative pour le vingt-et-unième siècle, 18 de enero de 2011, está disponible en http://www.global-currencies.org/sm… 

[10] Informe de la oficina independiente de evaluación del FMI, titulado: «Performance du FMI dans la période menant à la crise financière et économique : la surveillance du FMI de 2004 à 2007» http://www.ieo-imf.org/eval/complet…

[11]D. Strauss –Kahn admite el fracaso del FMI en sus previsiones ante la crisis, 9 de febrero de 2011. http://www.rtbf.be/info/article/det…

No-fly zone ma non solo: via alla nuova guerra umanitaria?

March 18th, 2011 by Maurizio Matteuzzi

Il voto al Palazzo di vetro era annunciato per le 11 di ieri sera, troppo tardi per noi. Ma tutto, nel pomeriggio, lasciava credere che la risoluzione presentata in Consiglio di sicurezza da Francia, Inghilterra e Libano per l’imposizione di una no-fly zone sulla Libia sarebbe passata. E che, ha detto il ministro degli esteri francese Alain Juppé, le operazioni militari potrebbero cominciare «entro poche ore». Anche la Nato, stando al suo segretario Rasmussen, si è detto pronta e convinta che «non è troppo tardi per un intervento in Libia», necessario perché «una vittoria di Gheddafi dimostrerebbe che la violenza paga».

Ieri pomeriggio (ora italiana) l’ambasciatore francese all’Onu, Gerard Araud, si mostrava molto ottimista e sicuro che la risoluzione sarebbe passato in Consiglio di sicurezza, anche se non all’unanimità, «ci saranno delle sorprese». Rumors al Palazzo di vetro newyorkese spifferavano che Russia e Cina, che hanno potere di veto e si erano finora dette contrario a qualsiasi intervento militare contro la Libia, anziché usare il veto avrebbero potuto astenersi consentendo così alla risoluzione, nel caso ottenga almeno 9 voti sui 15, di passare. Altri affermavano che l’India si sarebbe astenuta o avrebbe votato no. Non era ancora chiara la posizione di Portogallo e Germania, che negli ultimi giorni hanno sottolineato di preferire un inasprimento delle sanzioni piuttosto che un’operazione militare. Da tutti tutti gli altri paesi del Consiglio ci si aspettavava il via libera e almeno 10 sì.

Poi via, accendere i motori e partire per la Libia. E per un’altra bella «guerra umanitaria» dell’Occidente, dopo Iraq (due volte), Serbia, Somalia, Afghanistan.

Perché è inutile nascondersi dietro le foglie di fico umanitarie. Non solo di un’azione di interdizione si tratta – la no-fly zone -, ma di una guerra vera, e dichiarata. Infatti, secondo la bozza di risoluzione letta dal ministro degli esteri britannico William Hague, il testo impone «l’immediato cessate il fuoco, la fine completa della violenza, la proibizione dui tutti i voli nello spazio aereo libico ad eccezione dei voli umanitari», e il concomitante divieto per gli aerei libici di decollare, atterrare o sorvolare il territorio di qualsiasi stato membro dell’Onu (quindi in pratica del mondo). Ma non solo. La bozza di risoluzione prevedeva anche, ha ricordato Hague, l’adozione di «tutte le misure necessarie eccetto una forza d’occupazione», naturalmente con il nobile obiettivo di «proteggere i civili».

Se Juppé e Hague, Sarkozy e Cameron, Francia e Inghilterra, sono i più fervorosi nel sostegno a un’azione militare contro la Libia (di nuovo insieme come nel ’56 quando intervennero insieme con Israele contro l’Egitto di Nasser), gli sviluppi delle ultime ore sono stati determinati da quella che l’agenzia Reuter definisce «il rapido cambio di tono» degli Usa. Finora sembrava che l’amministrazione statunitense fosse molto prudente e poco propensa a una nuova avventura militare in un’area così esplosiva come il Nord-Africa arabo-islamico (e petrolifero), specialmente in una fase in cui l’America è già impegnata pesantemente (e con poche prospettive di vittoria o di disimpegno a breve termine) in teatri di guerra aperta quali Afghanistan e Iraq e, ora, in un teatro di immensa catastrofe naturale quale il Giappone. L’amministrazione, si diceva, era divisa con Obama e il Pentagono con il suo ministro Robert Gates riluttanti all’azione militare diretta da un lato e dall’altro il Dipartimento di stato con il suo capo Hullary Clinton (appoggiata anche dal marito Bill) favorevoli all’intervento. Alla fine, a quanto sembra, hanno prevalso i coniugi Clinton. E ieri il sottosegretario di stato William Burns ha detto che gli Usa vogliono una risoluzione Onu che consenta non solo la no-fly zone ma anche raid aerei contro «i tank e l’artiglieri pesante libici e l’uso «di tutti i metodi a eccezione di una forza d’occupazione sul terreno» («no boots on the ground», ha detto Burns). L’obiettivo è proteggere i civili libici dalla violenza di Gheddafi (e dalle probabili «atrocità» che secondo Human Rughts Watch seguirebbero alla riconquista anche di Bengasi) e, come ha precisato il portavoce della Casa bianca Jay Carey, «muoversi verso una situazione in cui Gheddafi non sia più al potere». In soldoni verso uno dei tanti regime changes in cui si sono impegnati gli Usa, sia quelli di Bush ma anche quelli di Obama (qualcuno si ricorda del marginale Honduras?).

Una delle condizioni poste da Washington per la «rapida svolta» era il coinvolgimento diretto «degli arabi» nella guerra umanitaria anti-Gheddafi. Che non pensassero di lavarsene le mani con la richiesta di una no-fly zone venuta sia dalla Lega araba, sia dal Consiglio di cooperazione del Golfo. Detto fatto. Ieri è venuta la conferma che «forse» almeno Qatar e Emirati arabi uniti, e «forse» anche la «democratica» Giordania di re Abdallah sono pronti a partecipare consentendo basi e sorvolo dello spazio aereo (secco no invece dell’Egitto, nonostante l’ammonimento della signora Clinton, da Tunisi dove si trova in visita, che la permanenza di Gheddafi al potere, «causerebbe problemi per il Cairo e Tunisi e chiunque altro»).

Nessun problema se i fighters umanitari arabi sono gli stessi che hanno chiesto giorni fa l’aiuto fraterno delle truppe saudite e dei poliziotti degli Emirati per stroncare nel sangue la «pacifica protesta» in Bahrein. C’è intervento umanitario e intervento umanitario.

http://abbonati.ilmanifesto.it/Quotidiano-archivio/18-Marzo-2011/art40.php3

Si chiama «Mox» l’incubo del reattore tre

March 18th, 2011 by Manlio Dinucci

 

Source : http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/multimedia/photos/stop-mox-demonstration-in-fu/

La decisione delle autorità giapponesi di focalizzare gli sforzi sul reattore numero tre di Fukushima, esploso lunedì, indica che esso rappresenta «una minaccia maggiore poiché è l’unico della centrale ad essere caricato con Mox, contenente plutonio: ingegneri nucleari occidentali avvertono che il rilascio di Mox nell’atmosfera produrrebbe una nube radioattiva molto più pericolosa di quella provocata dai reattori all’uranio». Questa notizia, data ieri dal New York times, conferma quanto il manifesto aveva scritto il giorno precedente, segnalando per primo la particolare pericolosità del reattore 3. Il Mox, un misto di ossidi di uranio e plutonio, essendo molto più instabile e radioattivo, aumenta i rischi di incidenti nucleari e, in caso di fuoriuscita, è estremamente più dannoso. Il plutonio, dati i tempi di dimezzamento, resta pericoloso per un tempo corrispondente a migliaia di generazioni umane.

Il reattore 3 è stato caricato con questo combustibile al plutonio il 21 agosto 2010, dopo il via libera del governatore della prefettura di Fukushima, Yukei Sato. Altri due reattori, nelle centrali di Kyushu Genkai e Shikoku Ikata, erano già stati caricati con Mox nel novembre 2009 e marzo 2010. Il piano dell’Agenzia per la sicurezza nucleare prevedeva che, in una prima fase, dovessero essere caricati con combustibile al plutonio dieci reattori.

Il Mox per i reattori giapponesi è stato prodotto in Francia, utilizzando scorie nucleari inviate dal Giappone. Dall’impianto di ritrattamento di La Hague, in Normandia, il combustibile al plutonio è stato trasportato per 1.000 km con autocarri all’impianto Melox di Marcoule, dove vengono fabbricate le barre di combustibile. Esse sono state trasportate di nuovo a La Hague per allestire la spedizione. I contenitori sono stati quindi trasportati al porto di Cherbourg e imbarcati sulle navi Pintail e Heron, con a bordo uomini armati in assetto di guerra, che sono salpate nel febbraio 2009 verso il Giappone.

Greenpeace l’ha definita la più grossa spedizione di plutonio della storia: le barre di Mox ne contenevano 1.800 kg. E ha denunciato i pericoli derivanti dal suo trasporto su terra e via mare per decine di migliaia di km, in quanto nessuno può prevedere che cosa avverrebbe in caso di incidente. Ha denunciato inoltre che il Mox favorisce la proliferazione delle armi nucleari, in quanto se ne può estrarre più facilmente plutonio: con quello della spedizione del 2009 si potrebbero fabbricare 225 armi nucleari.

Quasi nessun governo ha prestato attenzione all’allarme lanciato da Greenpeace. L’esecutivo irlandese ha cercato invano, rivolgendosi nel 2003 alla Corte di arbitraggio dell’Aia, di far chiudere l’impianto di ritrattamento di Sellafield in Inghilterra, autorizzato nel 2001 dal governo Blair: l’impianto, di cui si serve anche il Giappone, è fonte di un pericoloso inquinamento radioattivo del Mar di Irlanda e del Nord Atlantico.

Né i governi italiani si sono preoccupati del fatto che l’impianto francese di Marcoulle, in cui si fabbricano le barre al plutonio, dista appena 180 km dal nostro confine e 300 km da Torino. Anzi il governo Berlusconi vuole acquistare centrali nucleari francesi. Magari con lo stesso combustibile al plutonio del reattore di Fukushima. 73

MILA LITRI Acqua radioattiva nel Lago Ontario in seguito a un incidente alla centrale nucleare di Pickering, uno dei cinque siti canadesi, a 35 km da Toronto. Le autorità minimizzano

http://abbonati.ilmanifesto.it/Quotidiano-archivio/18-Marzo-2011/art12.php3  

How to Protect Yourself from Radiation

March 18th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

Preface: This is written for the millions of people around the world who are worried about radiation from the Japanese nuclear reactors. For those who are not worried about radiation from Japan, you can ignore this post, or save it for any future radiation scares closer to home.

How do we protect ourselves against radiation?

It is true that potassium iodide protects against high doses of a certain type of radiation. As the New York Times notes:

Fortunately, an easy form of protection is potassium iodide, a simple compound typically added to table salt to prevent goiter and a form of mental retardation caused by a dietary lack of iodine.

If ingested promptly after a nuclear accident, potassium iodide, in concentrated form, can help reduce the dose of radiation to the thyroid and thus the risk of cancer. In the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends that people living within a 10-mile emergency planning zone around a nuclear plant have access to potassium iodide tablets.

Indeed, virtually all suppliers of potassium iodide have sold out, especially after , the U.S. Surgeon General recommended that West Coast residents stock up.

But as I noted yesterday:

Keep in mind that iodide only protects against one particular radioactive element: radioactive iodine, technically known as iodine-131. Iodine-131 has a half life of only 8.02 days. That means that the iodine loses half of its radioactivity within 8 days.

The government hasn’t stockpiled much potassium iodide. As the New York Times notes:

Congress passed legislation in 2002 requiring the federal government to supply potassium iodide capsules to people living within 20 miles of nuclear power plants in the United States.

But the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have not implemented that provision, saying the law allows for alternatives.

Some states have given pills to people living within 10 miles of nuclear plants, or stockpiled the pills for those people.

But given that the government says that only minute amounts of radiation will hit the United States, and given that iodine-131 has such a short half-life, the whole issue may be moot (many, however, do not trust the government’s assurances. See this and this). And taking high doses of potassium iodide can be harmful, especially for people with certain pre-existing medical conditions. So talk to your doctor before taking any.

Other Radiation Dangers

While iodine-131 poisoning can be prevented with potassium iodide, there are no silver bullets for other radioactive isotopes.

As I pointed out yesterday:

The New York Times noted last week that – in addition to iodine-131, the big danger is cesium:

Over the long term, the big threat to human health is cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years.

At that rate of disintegration, John Emsley wrote in “Nature’s Building Blocks” (Oxford, 2001), “it takes over 200 years to reduce it to 1 percent of its former level.”

It is cesium-137 that still contaminates much of the land in Ukraine around the Chernobyl reactor.

***

Cesium-137 mixes easily with water and is chemically similar to potassium. It thus mimics how potassium gets metabolized in the body and can enter through many foods, including milk.

***

The Environmental Protection Agency says that … once dispersed in the environment … cesium-137 “is impossible to avoid.”

Cesium-137 is light enough to be carried by the wind a substantial distance.

There is no surefire prevention for cesium-137. As the EPA notes in a discussion entitled ” What can I do to protect myself and my family from cesium-137?”:

Cesium-137 that is dispersed in the environment, like that from atmospheric testing, is impossible to avoid.

Neither the EPA – nor any other government agency – gives advice on how to minimize the danger from cesium-137 poisoning. Some have theorized about

So does that mean that we’re sitting ducks?

Well, the fact that there is no silver bullet (although some have theorized about potential approaches) does not mean that there is nothing we can do.

Some Foods and Herbs May Help

Many foods and herbs have shown efficacy in helping to protect against radiation poisoning. Indeed, antioxidants in general have been found by some studies to reduce the consequences of radiation exposure.

A leading alternative health authority – Dr. Andrew Weil, a medical doctor who runs the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona – writes today in response to the question of how to protect ourselves against radiation:

I discussed other preventive strategies with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., director of The Fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and an expert on botanical health. She said that there is reason to believe that taking two to four grams of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, can help protect a number of body tissues. In addition, reishi and cordyceps mushrooms can protect bone marrow from toxic assaults, and antioxidants can help the body defend itself from radiation damage. Since radioactive particles may be carried by dust, having a HEPA filter in your home would also be a good idea in the event of a nuclear accident that is close enough to be of concern.

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog is a medical doctor who has impressive credentials in herbal medicine, and who has been tapped to fill a number of health related posts in government.

Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock – on the editorial staff of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons – also recommends foods and herbs to help protect us from radiation:

“Most of the health risks are not going to be due to acute radiation poisoning,” he tells Newsmax. “It’s going to be a risk of increased cancer.” …

If radiation does arrive in the United States, people would need “to change their diet. They need to stop eating Western farm products,” Blaylock says. …

Among the supplements he cited, iodine can protect the thyroid gland if taken before the exposure to radiation.

Gingko biloba can be protective even after exposure to radiation. Beta-glucan protects the bone marrow. Curcumin also can offer protection after exposure, particularly against breast cancer. He also suggests garlic extract, ginger, melatonin, and magnesium. …

We understand if all of this sounds a bit flakey, crunchy, woo-woo and hippy-ish.

And none of these are 100% effective even against low doses of radiation.

But there are actually numerous scientific studies backing up the ability of some foods and herbs to help protect us from radiation. Admittedly, some scientific studies are good studies and some are of worthless quality. But the rest of this post will round up some of the scientific literature for your review.

As the Journal of Clinical Biochemical Nutrition noted in 2007:

The results obtained from in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that several botanicals such as Gingko biloba, Centella asiatica, Hippophae rhamnoides, Ocimum sanctum, Panax ginseng, Podophyllum hexandrum, Amaranthus paniculatus, Emblica officinalis, Phyllanthus amarus, Piper longum, Tinospora cordifoila, Mentha arvensis, Mentha piperita, Syzygium cumini, Zingiber officinale, Ageratum conyzoides, Aegle marmelos and Aphanamixis polystachya protect against radiation-induced lethality, lipid peroxidation and DNA damage.

Many inexpensive foods have protective properties against radiation, including:

  • Garlic (one Indian tribe living in the desert of Nevada used to eat bulbs of raw garlic to help protect against radiation from the above-ground nuclear tests)

  • Curcurim (and see this) – the active ingredient in turmeric which, in turn, is in yellow curry (available in Indian and Thai dishes).
  • Miso (when it has been “long-fermented”, instead of fermented for a shorter time)

Many herbs and supplements available at health food stores and drugstores pharmacies have protective properties against radiation, including:

  • Vitamin E (see this and this; the natural form is probably much healthier for you than the synthetic form)
  • Panax Ginseng, a traditional “adaptogen” in Chinese medicine (see this and this)
  • Holy basil (and see this; also called tulasi; this is the top herb in traditional Ayurvedic – i.e. Indian – medicine)
  • Chlorella, a blue-green algae (see this and this)
  • Spirulina, a blue-green algae available at health food stores
  • Sesamol (an extract from sesame seeds)
  • Thiol family of antioxidants, such as N-acetyl cysteine, glutathione and thioproline

And many herbs commonly available in some parts of the world have protective properties against radiation, including:

  • Aloe arborescens (commonly known as “Krantz Aloe”, a lesser-known member of the aloe family)

Note: Just because herbs are “natural” does not mean that they can be swallowed in large doses without side effects. Herbs can have powerful effects, just like medicine. As such, you should treat them with respect and study proper dosage and potential side effects before taking them.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a health professional, and this should not be taken as medical advice. Nothing contained herein is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. You should consult your doctor before making any decisions about whether or not to take any of the foods, herbs, supplements or substances mentioned herein.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.” - George Orwell.

The bombing of Libya will begin on or nearly to the day, of the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the destruction of Iraq, 19th March, in Europe. Libya too will be destroyed – its schools, education system, water, infrastructure, hospitals, municipal buildings. There will be numerous “tragic mistakes”, “collateral damage”, mothers, fathers, children, babies, grandparents, blind and deaf schools and on and on. And the wonders of the Roman remains and earlier, largely enduring and revered in all history’s turmoils as Iraq, the nation’s history – and humanity’s, again as Iraq and Afghanistan, will be gone, for ever. 

The infrastructure will be destroyed. The embargo will remain in place, thus rebuilding will be impossible. Britain, France and the US., will decide the country needs “stabilising”, “help with reconstruction.” They will move in, secure the oil installations and oil fields, the Libyan people will be an incidental inconvenience and quickly become “the enemy”, “insurgents”, be shot, imprisoned, tortured, abused – and a US friendly puppet “government” will be installed.

The invaders will award their companies rebuilding contracts, the money – likely taken from Libya’s frozen assets without accounting – will vanish and the country will remain largely in ruins.

And the loudest cheerleaders for this, as Iraq, will be running round tv and radio stations in London, Europe and the US, then returning to their safe apartments and their UK/US/Europe paid tenures, in the knowledge that no bombs will be dropping on them. Their children will not be shaking uncontrollably and soiling themselves with terror at the sound of approaching planes.

And this Libyan “Shock and Awe”?  Shame on France, shame on Britain and the US and a UN avowed: “… to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Every shattered body, every child maimed or blown to bits, every widow, widower, orphan, will have their name of those countries, and the UN., written in their blood in their place of death.  

And the public of these murderous, marauding Western ram raiders, will be told that we were bringing democracy, liberating Libya from a tyrant, from the “new Hitler”, the “Butcher of Bengazi.”

The countries who have ganged together these last days to overthrow a sovereign government have, again, arguably, conspired in Nuremberg’s: ” … supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”, and yet again, plotted to overthrow a sovereign government, with a fig leaf of “legality” from an arm twisted UN. We have seen it all before.

In time, it will emerge, who was stirring, bribing, de-stabilizing – and likely few will be surprised at the findings. But by then, Libya will be long broken and its people, fleeing, displaced, distraught. 

When it comes to dealing with the usual “liberators”, be careful what you wish for. In six months or so, most Libyans, whatever the failings of the last forty years rule, will be ruing the day.

Britain, France and the US, along with several Arab countries, are to join forces to throw a protective ring around the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi as soon as a UN security council vote on military action is authorised, according to security council sources.

A source at UN headquarters in New York said military forces could be deployed “within hours” of a new security council resolution calling for states to protect civilians by halting attacks by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces by air, land and sea.

The resolution would impose a no-fly zone over Libya – but a no-fly zone was no longer enough, the source said. “The resolution authorises air strikes against tank columns advancing on Benghazi or engaging naval ships bombarding Benghazi,” he said.

Britain, France and Lebanon sponsored the new resolution, which provides the moral and legal basis for military action.

British and French forces are understood to have been placed on standby after the US said it was prepared to support the measure if Arab countries agreed to take an active role.

The security council was scheduled to vote on the new resolution this evening, and its backers expressed confidence it would pass after hours of negotiation.

In London, William Hague, the foreign secretary, indicated to MPs that military preparations to protect Benghazi were at an advanced stage. The no-fly zone would be imposed from land, and not from aircraft carriers.

“No, it is not the case that carrier-borne aircraft are necessary to do such a thing,” Hague said. “In the contingency plans of all the nations, none of them involve an aircraft carrier.”

The increase in military preparations came as Gaddafi announced that his forces would invade Benghazi tonight and would show no mercy on fighters who resisted them.

“No more fear, no more hesitation, the moment of truth has come,” he declared. “There will be no mercy. Our troops will be coming to Benghazi tonight.”

Residents and a rebel spokesman reported three air strikes on the outskirts of the city, including at the airport, and another air raid further south.

There was also heavy fighting in residential areas of nearby Ajdabiyah, where around 30 people were killed, Al Arabiya reported.

Libyan authorities also warned that all maritime traffic in the Mediterranean would be in danger if it was targeted by foreign forces.

In a statement broadcast on Libyan television, the defence ministry said: “Any foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger, and civilian and military [facilities] will become targets of Libya’s counterattack,” the statement said. “The Mediterranean basin will face danger not just in the short-term, but also in the long-term.”

The UN resolution, which calls for “all necessary measures short of an occupation force” to protect civilians, needs the support of a further six further members of the security council to pass – and to avoid vetoes from Russia and China.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister has been making a series of calls on Libya. He has spoken to a number of Arab and African leaders. We can now confirm that he has also spoken to several European leaders.

“In all his calls, the prime minister has made the case for strong action by the UN security council, to increase the pressure on Gaddafi and put a stop to the campaign he is waging against the Libyan people. The prime minister will be making further calls this evening.”

The move marks a last-gasp attempt to keep the Libyan uprising alive.

It has been relatively rare in recent years for the UN to give the go-ahead for military action – the security council, for example, refused to support the Iraq invasion. The resolution reflects the extent of despair felt in Britain, France, the US and parts of the Arab world at the prospect of total victory by Gaddafi and fears of a massacre in Benghazi.

After weeks of prevarication by the US, Washington backed the resolution. The Obama administration was stalled by a split between the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who favoured a no-fly zone, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates, who was opposed. The White House, caught in the middle, dithered.

Gates redeployed US naval vessels close to the Libyan coast and told Barack Obama that, though heavily engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military was capable of fighting on a third front.

The US, crucially, insisted it would only act if there was Arab support, in order to avoid it being seen as a western intervention. Several Arab countries have promised to provide planes, but insisted upon their identity being withheld until the resolution was passed.

Speculation as to which countries would participate include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

There is no plan to send in ground troops, other than for isolated incidents such as rescuing downed pilots.

Supporters of the resolution, speaking before the vote, said they were confident of achieving the necessary nine votes in the 15-member chamber. A source who was present at the talks said that China and Russia have vetoes that could scupper the resolution, but indicated they would abstain.

Brazil, Germany and India expressed scepticism over military action, but their votes were not needed to secure a majority.

John Kerry, the chairman of the US Senate foreign affairs committee, said: “The international community cannot simply watch from the sidelines as the Libyan people’s quest for democratic reform is met with violence … Time is running out for the Libyan people. The world needs to respond immediately.”

See also – US Pushing for Broader Military Authorization Against Libya: The U.S.is pushing for the resolution to authorize international forces to stop attacks by Gadhafi’s forces on its people conducted on land and by sea as well.

VIDEO: West Told to Stop Arming Bahrain

March 17th, 2011 by Global Research

Secretive Plan For a Global Currency

March 17th, 2011 by Ellen Brown

The following is an excerpt of a chapter by Ellen Brown from the new book by Global Research Publishers, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.”

The Global
Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew Gavin Marshall (editors)

Help us get the word out, “like” the book on Facebook, comment, and share with friends!

By acting together to fulfill these pledges we will bring the world economy out of recession and prevent a crisis like this from recurring in the future. We are committed to take all necessary actions to restore the normal flow of credit through the financial system and ensure the soundness of systemically important institutions, implementing our policies in line with the agreed G20 framework for restoring lending and repairing the financial sector. We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn into the world economy and increase global liquidity.– G20 Communiqué, London, April 2, 2009

Towards a New Global Currency?

Is the Group of Twenty Countries (G20) envisaging the creation of a Global Central bank? Who or what would serve as this global central bank, cloaked with the power to issue the global currency and police monetary policy for all humanity? When the world’s central bankers met in Washington in September 2008 at the height of the financial meltdown, they discussed what body might be in a position to serve in that awesome and fearful role. A former governor of the Bank of England stated:

The answer might already be staring us in the face, in the form of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)… The IMF tends to couch its warnings about economic problems in very diplomatic language, but the BIS is more independent and much better placed to deal with this if it is given the power to do so.[1]

And if the vision of a global currency outside government control was not enough to set off conspiracy theorists, putting the BIS in charge of it surely would be. The BIS has been scandal-ridden ever since it was branded with pro-Nazi leanings in the 1930s. Founded in Basel, Switzerland, in 1930, the BIS has been called “the most exclusive, secretive, and powerful supranational club in the world.” Charles Higham wrote in his book Trading with the Enemy that by the late 1930s, the BIS had assumed an openly pro-Nazi bias, a theme that was expanded on in a BBC Timewatch film titled “Banking with Hitler” broadcast in 1998.[2] In 1944, the American government backed a resolution at the Bretton Woods Conference calling for the liquidation of the BIS, following Czech accusations that it was laundering gold stolen by the Nazis from occupied Europe; but the central bankers succeeded in quietly snuffing out the American resolution.[3]

In Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (1966), Dr. Carroll Quigley revealed the key role played in global finance by the BIS behind the scenes. Dr. Quigley was Professor of History at Georgetown University, where he was President Bill Clinton’s mentor. He was also an insider, groomed by the powerful clique he called “the international bankers.” His credibility is heightened by the fact that he actually espoused their goals. Quigley wrote:

I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments… In general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known…

The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.[4]

The key to their success, said Quigley, was that the international bankers would control and manipulate the money system of a nation while letting it appear to be controlled by the government.

The statement echoed one made in the 18th century by the patriarch of what became the most powerful banking dynasty in the world. Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild is quoted as saying in 1791: “Allow me to issue and control a nation’s currency, and I care not who makes its laws.” Mayer’s five sons were sent to the major capitals of Europe – London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin and Naples – with the mission of establishing a banking system that would be outside government control. The economic and political systems of nations would be controlled not by citizens but by bankers, for the benefit of bankers.

Eventually, a privately-owned “central bank” was established in nearly every country. This central banking system has now gained control over the economies of the world. Central banks have the authority to print money in their respective countries, and it is from these banks that governments must borrow money to pay their debts and fund their operations. The result is a global economy in which not only industry but government itself runs on “credit” (or debt) created by a banking monopoly headed by a network of private central banks. At the top of this network is the BIS, the “central bank of central banks” in Basel.

Behind the Curtain

For many years the BIS kept a very low profile, operating behind the scenes in an abandoned hotel. It was here that decisions were reached to devalue or defend currencies, fix the price of gold, regulate offshore banking, and raise or lower short-term interest rates. In 1977, however, the BIS gave up its anonymity in exchange for more efficient headquarters. The new building has been described as “an eighteen story-high circular skyscraper that rises above the medieval city like some misplaced nuclear reactor.” It quickly became known as the “Tower of Basel.” Today the BIS has governmental immunity, pays no taxes, and has its own private police force.[5] It is, as Mayer Rothschild envisioned, above the law.

The BIS is now composed of 55 member nations, but the club that meets regularly in Basel is a much smaller group; and even within it, there is a hierarchy. In a 1983 article in Harper’s Magazine called “Ruling the World of Money,” Edward Jay Epstein wrote that where the real business gets done is in “a sort of inner club made up of the half dozen or so powerful central bankers who find themselves more or less in the same monetary boat” – those from Germany, the United States, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and England. Epstein said:

The prime value, which also seems to demarcate the inner club from the rest of the BIS members, is the firm belief that central banks should act independently of their home governments… A second and closely related belief of the inner club is that politicians should not be trusted to decide the fate of the international monetary system.[6]

In 1974, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision was created by the central bank Governors of the Group of 10 nations (now expanded to twenty). The BIS provides the twelve-member Secretariat for the Committee. The Committee, in turn, sets the rules for banking globally, including capital requirements and reserve controls. In a 2003 article titled “The Bank for International Settlements Calls for Global Currency,” Joan Veon wrote:

The BIS is where all of the world’s central banks meet to analyze the global economy and determine what course of action they will take next to put more money in their pockets, since they control the amount of money in circulation and how much interest they are going to charge governments and banks for borrowing from them…

When you understand that the BIS pulls the strings of the world’s monetary system, you then understand that they have the ability to create a financial boom or bust in a country. If that country is not doing what the money lenders want, then all they have to do is sell its currency.[7]


The Controversial Basel Accords

The power of the BIS to make or break economies was demonstrated in 1988, when it issued a Basel Accord raising bank capital requirements from six percent to eight percent. By then, Japan had emerged as the world’s largest creditor; but Japan’s banks were less well capitalized than other major international banks. Raising the capital requirement forced them to cut back on lending, creating a recession in Japan like that suffered in the U.S. today. Property prices fell and loans went into default as the security for them shriveled up. A downward spiral followed, ending with the total bankruptcy of the banks. The banks had to be nationalized, although that word was not used in order to avoid criticism.[8]

Among other “collateral damage” produced by the Basel Accords was a spate of suicides among Indian farmers unable to get loans. The BIS capital adequacy standards required loans to private borrowers to be “risk-weighted,” with the degree of risk determined by private rating agencies; farmers and small business owners could not afford the agencies’ fees. Banks therefore assigned one hundred percent risk to the loans, and then resisted extending credit to these “high-risk” borrowers because more capital was required to cover the loans. When the conscience of the nation was aroused by the Indian suicides, the government, lamenting the neglect of farmers by commercial banks, established a policy of ending the “financial exclusion” of the weak; but this step had little real effect on lending practices, due largely to the strictures imposed by the BIS from abroad.[9]

Economist Henry C K Liu has analyzed how the Basel Accords have forced national banking systems “to march to the same tune, designed to serve the needs of highly sophisticated global financial markets, regardless of the developmental needs of their national economies.” He wrote:

National banking systems are suddenly thrown into the rigid arms of the Basel Capital Accord sponsored by the Bank of International Settlement (BIS), or to face the penalty of usurious risk premium in securing international interbank loans… National policies suddenly are subjected to profit incentives of private financial institutions, all members of a hierarchical system controlled and directed from the money center banks in New York. The result is to force national banking systems to privatize…

BIS regulations serve only the single purpose of strengthening the international private banking system, even at the peril of national economies… The IMF and the international banks regulated by the BIS are a team: the international banks lend recklessly to borrowers in emerging economies to create a foreign currency debt crisis, the IMF arrives as a carrier of monetary virus in the name of sound monetary policy, then the international banks come as vulture investors in the name of financial rescue to acquire national banks deemed capital inadequate and insolvent by the BIS.

Ironically, noted Liu, developing countries with their own natural resources did not actually need the foreign investment that trapped them in debt to outsiders: “Applying the State Theory of Money [which assumes that a sovereign nation has the power to issue its own money], any government can fund with its own currency all its domestic developmental needs to maintain full employment without inflation.”[10]

When governments fall into the trap of accepting loans in foreign currencies, however, they become “debtor nations” subject to IMF and BIS regulation. They are forced to divert their production to exports, just to earn the foreign currency necessary to pay the interest on their loans. National banks deemed “capital inadequate” have to deal with strictures comparable to the “conditionalities” imposed by the IMF on debtor nations: “escalating capital requirement, loan write-offs and liquidation, and restructuring through selloffs, layoffs, downsizing, cost-cutting and freeze on capital spending.” Liu wrote:

Reversing the logic that a sound banking system should lead to full employment and developmental growth, BIS regulations demand high unemployment and developmental degradation in national economies as the fair price for a sound global private banking system.[11]

The Last Domino to Fall

While banks in developing nations were being penalized for falling short of the BIS capital requirements, large international banks managed to skirt the rules, although they actually carried enormous risk because of their derivative exposure. The mega-banks took advantage of a loophole that allowed for lower charges against capital for “off-balance sheet activities.” The banks got loans off their balance sheets by bundling them into securities and selling them off to investors, after separating the risk of default out from the loans and selling it off to yet other investors, using a form of derivative known as “credit default swaps.”

It was evidently not in the game plan, however, that U.S. banks should escape the regulatory net indefinitely. Complaints about the loopholes in Basel I prompted a new set of rules called Basel II, which based capital requirements for market risk on a “Value-at-Risk” accounting standard. The new rules were established in 2004, but they were not levied on U.S. banks until November 2007, the month after the Dow passed 14 000 to reach its all-time high. On November 1, 2007, the Office of the Controller of the Currency “approved a final rule implementing advanced approaches of the Basel II Capital Accord.”[12] On November 15, 2007, the Financial Accounting Standards Board or FASB, a private organization that sets U.S. accounting rules for the private sector, adopted FAS 157, the rule called “mark-to-market accounting.”[13] The effect on U.S. banks was similar to that of Basel I on Japanese banks: they have been struggling to survive ever since.[14]

The mark-to-market rule requires banks to adjust the value of their marketable securities to the “market price” of the security.[15] The rule has theoretical merit, but the problem is timing: it was imposed ex post facto, after the banks already had the hard-to-market assets on their books. Lenders that had been considered sufficiently well capitalized to make new loans suddenly found they were insolvent; at least, they would have been if they had tried to sell their assets, an assumption required by the new rule. Financial analyst John Berlau complained in October 2008:

Despite the credit crunch being described as the spread of the ‘American flu,’ the mark-to-market rules that are spreading it were hatched [as] part of the Basel II international rules for financial institutions. It’s just that the U.S. jumped into the really icy water last November when our Securities and Exchange Commission and bank regulators implemented FASB’s Financial Accounting Standard 157, which makes healthy banks and financial firms take a ‘loss’ in the capital they can lend even if a loan on their books is still performing, even when the ‘market price’ [of] an illiquid asset is that of the last fire sale by a highly leveraged bank. Late last month, similar rules went into effect in the European Union, playing a similar role in accelerating financial failures…

The crisis is often called a ‘market failure,’ and the term ‘mark-to-market’ seems to reinforce that. But the mark-to-market rules are profoundly anti-market and hinder the free-market function of price discovery… In this case, the accounting rules fail to allow the market players to hold on to an asset if they don’t like what the market is currently fetching, an important market action that affects price discovery in areas from agriculture to antiques.[16]

Imposing the mark-to-market rule on U.S. banks caused an instant credit freeze, which proceeded to take down the economies not only of the U.S. but of countries worldwide. In early April 2009, the mark-to-market rule was finally softened by the FASB; but critics said the modification did not go far enough, and it was done in response to pressure from politicians and bankers, not out of any fundamental change of heart or policies by the BIS or the FASB. Indeed, the BIS was warned as early as 2001 that its Basel II proposal was “procyclical,” meaning that in a downturn it would only serve to make matters worse. In a formal response to a Request for Comments by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision, a group of economists stated:

Value-at-Risk can destabilize an economy and induce crashes when they would not otherwise occur… Perhaps our most serious concern is that these proposals, taken altogether, will enhance both the procyclicality of regulation and the susceptibility of the financial system to systemic crises, thus negating the central purpose of the whole exercise. Reconsider before it is too late.[17]

The BIS did not reconsider, however, even after seeing the devastation its regulations had caused; and that is where the conspiracy theorists came in. Why did the BIS sit idly by, they asked, as the global economy came crashing down? Was the goal to create so much economic havoc that the world would rush with relief into the waiting arms of a global economic policeman with its privately-created global currency?

Notes

[1] Andrew Gavin Marshall, “The Financial New World Order: Towards a Global Currency and World Government”, Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13070, 6 April 2009. See also Chapter 17.

[2] Alfred Mendez, “The Network”, The World Central Bank: The Bank for International

Settlements, http://copy_bilderberg.tripod.com/bis.htm.

[3] HubPages, “BIS – Bank of International Settlement: The Mother of All Central Banks”, hubpages.com, 2009.

[4] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, 1966.

[5] HubPages, “BIS – Bank of International Settlement: The Mother of All Central Banks”, hubpages.com, 2009.

[6] Edward Jay Epstein, “Ruling the World of Money”, Harper’s Magazine, November 1983.

[7] Joan Veon, “The Bank for International Settlements Calls for Global Currency”, News with Views, 26 August 2003.

[8] Peter Myers, “The 1988 Basle Accord – Destroyer of Japan’s Finance System”, http://www.mailstar.net/basle.html, 9 September 2008.

[9] Nirmal Chandra, “Is Inclusive Growth Feasible in Neoliberal India?”, networkideas.org, September 2008.

[10] Henry C. K. Liu, “The BIS vs National Banks”, Asia Times, http://www.atimes.com/global-econ/DE14Dj01.html, 14 May 2002.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Comptroller of the Currency, “OCC Approves Basel II Capital Rule”, Comptroller of the Currency Release, 1 November 2007.

[13] Vinny Catalano, “FAS 157: Timing Is Everything”, vinnycatalano.blogspot.com, 18 March 2008.

[14] Bruce Wiseman, “The Financial Crisis: A look Behind the Wizard’s Curtain”, Canada Free Press, 19 March 2009.

[15] Ellen Brown, “Credit Where Credit Is Due”, webofdebt.com/articles/creditcrunch.php, 11 January 2009.

[16] John Berlau, “The International Mark-to-Market Contagion”, OpenMarket.org, 10 October 2008.

[17] Jon Danielsson, et al., “An Academic Response to Basel II”, LSE Financial Markets Group Special Paper Series, May 2001.

La nuova catastrofe del business atomico

March 17th, 2011 by Manlio Dinucci

Riguardo al nucleare, «spiegherò ai cittadini che si può fare in sicurezza e che non è giusto avere paura: garantire la sicurezza di un reattore nucleare è obiettivo non difficile»: così dichiarava il 3 marzo in una intervista alla Stampa il prof. Umberto Veronesi, appena dimessosi dal gruppo Pd del Senato per assumere la carica di presidente dell’Agenzia per la sicurezza nucleare. Una settimana dopo la catastrofe nucleare in Giappone, le cui conseguenze possono essere molto più gravi di quelle prospettate.

Il reattore n. 3 della centrale di Fukushima, esploso lunedì, è infatti alimentato da combustibile Mox, un misto di ossidi di uranio e plutonio, molto più radioattivo del combustibile all’uranio. Esso aumenta i rischi di incidenti nucleari e, in caso di fuoriuscita, è estremamente più dannoso. Una contaminazione da Mox causa livelli molto più alti di tumori. Basti pensare che il plutonio, dati i tempi di dimezzamento, resta pericoloso per 250mila anni. Questa nuova catastrofe conferma, con drammatica evidenza, che la via del nucleare è impraticabile.

I 442 reattori elettronucleari, in funzione nel mondo, sono concentrati per oltre i tre quarti in diciassette paesi dell’Ocse economicamente più sviluppati: in testa gli Stati uniti con 104 reattori, seguiti da Francia (59) e Giappone (54). Gli altri si trovano soprattutto in Russia (31), India (18), Ucraina (15), Cina (11). Complessivamente essi generano appena il 6% della produzione mondiale di energia primaria e circa il 15% di quella di elettricità.

La costruzione di reattori elettronucleari, dopo aver raggiunto il culmine negli anni ’70 e ’80, si è praticamente fermata nei paesi più sviluppati: dei 55 nuovi reattori solo uno è in costruzione negli Usa, la maggior parte si concentra in Cina, Russia e India. Anzitutto perché l’energia elettronucleare è sempre meno competitiva. Al prezzo pagato dai cittadini, si aggiunge un 30% che essi pagano indirettamente attraverso il denaro pubblico dato alle società private del settore elettronucleare. E i costi di costruzione delle centrali sono quasi raddoppiati nell’ultimo decennio.

Vi è poi il problema di dove stoccare le oltre 300mila tonnellate di scorie radioattive, in crescita ogni anno di 10mila t, che restano pericolose per secoli e millenni. Per Veronesi «ci sono le soluzioni per farlo, dentro una montagna o a grandi profondità». Nessun paese ha invece trovato la soluzione: negli Usa il senato ha rinunciato nel 2009, per ragione di costi e sicurezza, al deposito sotterraneo nel Monte Yucca (Nevada), dopo 25 anni di lavori e una spesa di 13,5 miliardi di dollari. E altri materiali radioattivi si accumulano quando, dopo 30-40 anni (non 60-100 come sostiene Veronesi), l’intera centrale deve essere smantellata.

Poiché il costo dello smantellamento e della decontaminazione del sito (circa un miliardo di dollari negli Usa) è in continuo aumento, le società private che gestiscono le centrali chiedono ai governi l’autorizzazione a prolungarne l’attività. Ciò comporta però più alte spese di manutenzione e maggiori rischi di guasti e incidenti: il reattore n. 1 della centrale di Fukushima, esploso sabato, aveva raggiunto i 40 anni di attività. Entro il 2020, oltre 150 reattori elettronucleari avranno raggiunto o superato questo limite. Entro il 2030, se ne aggiungeranno oltre 200, che per essere smantellati richiederanno altri sussidi pubblici.

Il problema più grave, praticamente insoluto, è quello della sicurezza degli impianti nucleari. Nel maggio 2010, lo stesso Veronesi e altri illustri scienziati, tra cui Margherita Hack e Carlo Bernardini, hanno chiesto con una lettera aperta al segretario del Pd Bersani di rivedere la posizione anti-nucleare, sostenendo che il nucleare costituisce una «insostituibile opportunità» per il nostro paese e che «il record di sicurezza degli impianti nucleari non ha paragoni con quello di ogni altra filiera energetica». Ne erano convinti anche coloro che hanno costruito in Giappone, in zone altamente sismiche e soggette allo tsunami, reattori nucleari al plutonio.

http://www.ilmanifesto.it/Quotidiano-archivio/16-Marzo-2011/art11.php3  

Ambición y desinformación sobre Libia

March 17th, 2011 by Luis Gutiérrez Esparza

África del Norte, Oriente Medio, el Cáucaso y Asia Central son parte de un esquema de dominio elaborado en Washington.

Libia sigue en la mira. Las consideraciones humanitarias no deben ser utilizadas como camuflaje para disimular los propósitos intervencionistas con claro perfil hegemónico y de apropiación de recursos estratégicos. África del Norte, Oriente Medio, el Cáucaso y Asia Central son parte de un esquema de dominio elaborado en Washington, por y para Estados Unidos y sus aliados de la OTAN.

Están en juego más de 60% de las reservas mundiales de petróleo y gas natural, incluidas las rutas de los gasoductos; así como minerales y acuíferos, además de redes de comunicación. “Los países musulmanes como Arabia Saudita, Irak, Irán, Kuwait, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Qatar, Yemen, Libia, Egipto, Nigeria, Argelia, Kazajstán, Azerbaiján, Malasia, Indonesia y Brunei poseen entre 66.2% y 75.9% de las reservas totales de petróleo, según la fuente y la metodología de la estimación”, señala Michel Chossudovsky en La demonización de los musulmanes y la batalla por el petróleo (Global Research, 4 de enero de 2007).

Las reservas probadas de petróleo de Libia ascienden a 46.5 millones de barriles. Son las mayores de África, superiores a las de Nigeria y Argelia, conforme al Oil and Gas Journal. Estados Unidos tenía reservas de 20.6 millones de barriles a diciembre 2008, según datos de la Administración de Información de Energía.

La situación en Libia sigue siendo confusa, no así los propósitos de quienes promueven la imposición de una medida de exclusión en el espacio aéreo libio y la intervención militar de Estados Unidos y la OTAN en ese país, por razones humanitarias.

Yo viví el bombardeo humanitario de la OTAN sobre Yugoslavia en 1999. El saldo de muerte y destrucción, que incluyó columnas de refugiados, guarderías infantiles, escuelas, hospitales, residencias de adultos mayores, instalaciones de medios de comunicación y embajadas, fue de brutalidad y salvajismo. El humanitarismo sirvió apenas como perversa cobertura mediática.

Estados Unidos ha movilizado importantes efectivos militares frente a las costas de Libia. La OTAN se declara lista para cualquier eventualidad. Y los opositores al gobierno de Muammar Gadhafi, reciben ya armamento e insumos de las potencias occidentales, aunque carezcan de mandato alguno que legitime su injerencia.

Washington y Bruselas —sede de la OTAN— deberán movilizarse con mayor rapidez, puesto que las tropas leales a Gadhafi se encaminan hacia Bengasi, donde se estableció el presunto gobierno provisional. Paralelamente se mantiene la ofensiva mediática que calla los excesos, la represión, el terror, impuestos por la cúpula de Bengasi; e insiste en la versión del bombardeo gubernamental contra civiles, sin que hasta la fecha se hayan presentado evidencias fehacientes para comprobar esa acusación.

Todo lo que se ha visto en las pantallas occidentales ha sido una serie de tomas de multitudes aparentemente presas de pánico, que miran hacia arriba, desde donde supuestamente las atacan aviones y helicópteros, pero ni una sola imagen de los agresores. La ausencia de tales elementos mueve a sospechar que puede tratarse de un montaje, como el repetido hasta la náusea donde presuntas multitudes iraquíes aclamaban en Bagdad a los contingentes de Estados Unidos y la OTAN. Se demostró que se trataba de una sola toma, manipulada y magnificada, de unas decenas de mercenarios —porque fueron pagados para ello— en el centro de la capital de Irak.

En la extinta Yugoslavia, Washington y Bruselas armaron primero al Ejército Musulmán Bosnio (EMB) y después al Ejército de Liberación de Kosovo —que contaron además con el apoyo y la asesoría de Osama bin Laden—, bandas criminales con licencia para cometer toda clase de crímenes brutales, muchos de ellos achacados a los serbios por la ofensiva mediática que siempre acompaña estas intervenciones militares de agresión hegemónica.

Libia está a punto de ser presa de los designios de dominio global. No se trata de un gobierno ni de un personaje ni de la democracia o la libertad

Se acerca rápidamente el octavo aniversario de la invasión anglo-estadounidense de Iraq en 2001.

Muchos preguntan, ¿se ha aprendido algo?

Altos responsables de política exterior en EE.UU. y la Unión Europea han ciertamente “aprendido algunas lecciones”, pero no aquellas que gozan de alta estima en la mayoría de los estadounidenses y europeos.

Hablando dentro del contexto del derecho internacional, los dirigentes de EE.UU. y de la UE han aprendido a “no dejar rastros” efectivamente. Esos dirigentes han aprendido de los diversos intentos e iniciativas internacionales por llevar ante la justicia a George W. Bush Jr., Tony Blair, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, y sus co-conspiradores por haber iniciado una guerra internacionalmente ilegal contra Iraq.

Los dirigentes de EE.UU. y la UE están acumulando los fundamentos legales para justificar la implementación de sus planes de guerra contra la Jamahiriya Árabe Libia.

  

El Consejo de Hipocresía del Golfo

El Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo (GCC) es una organización formada por los petro-emiratos/reinos de Kuwait, Bahréin, Qatar, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Omán, y Arabia Saudí. Han traicionado a Palestina, trabajaron contra Iraq, dieron la espalda al Líbano, y ahora conspiran contra Libia junto con Washington y Bruselas.

En un acto flagrante de hipocresía, los dirigentes de esos emiratos y reinos han anunciado que el régimen de Gadafi es “ilegítimo”. Forbes dijo lo siguiente sobre el anuncio de GCC:

“Las naciones del Golfo, incluidos Arabia Saudí y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos (UAE) han retirado todo tipo de apoyo para Muamar al-Gadafi al declarar “ilegítimo” su régimen…” [1] Arabia Saudí, Qatar, Bahréin, Omán, los U.A.E., y Kuwait han retirado su reconocimiento del régimen de Gadafi como gobierno legal de Libia.

Además, el GCC anunció lo siguiente: “Sobre la situación en Libia, el Consejo denunció los crímenes cometidos contra civiles mediante el uso de munición de guerra y armas pesadas y el reclutamiento de mercenarios, la matanza de una gran cantidad de víctimas inocentes y la constitución de flagrantes violaciones de los derechos humanos y del derecho humanitario internacional”. [2]

Lo que impresiona en estas declaraciones y en el comunicado de los petro-emiratos y reinos de que el gobierno de Gadafi no es el gobierno legal de Libia es su extrema hipocresía. Esas condenas son expresadas por los mismos dirigentes que utilizan la violencia y el asesinato contra sus propias poblaciones. Son también los mismos dirigentes árabes que utilizan mercenarios y violan ellos mismos abierta y continuamente los derechos humanos y las leyes humanitarias internacionales.

Arabia Saudí, Omán, Kuwait, y Bahréin utilizaron todos recientemente violencia contra manifestantes civiles pacíficos, en muchos casos gente que pedía derechos humanos básicos como ser igualdad o reconocimiento legal. En Bahréin, tanques dispararon contra manifestantes bahreiníes en la Plaza Perla, algo que la mayoría de los medios dominantes tratan de ocultar. Además, el GCC también demanda irónicamente que se establezca una zona de “no-vuelo” sobre Libia para proteger a la población civil: “El Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo demanda que el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU tome todas las medidas necesarias para proteger a los civiles, incluida la imposición de una zona de “no-vuelo”. [3]

Esos dirigentes autocráticos se encuentran entre los mayores hipócritas. No están en posición, ellos mismos, de hablar sobre la base de ninguna forma de legitimidad. Tampoco ninguno de esos autócratas es elegido. Según los mismos principios que pretenden apoyar, deberían pedir a la ONU que interviniera también en sus Estados. Hay que considerar que también encabezaron el movimiento para suspender a Libia de la Liga Árabe en El Cairo. Esos dirigentes también han presionado a la Liga Árabe para que apoye cualquier confrontación contra Libia en la forma de zonas de exclusión aérea. [4]

Qatar orwelliano

En otro caso icónico, Doha ha aprobado una así llamada “ley de libertad de los medios”. Como las leyes de libertad de los medios de Israel, la ley efectivamente restringe las libertades de los medios utilizando una lógica y un doble lenguaje orwellianos. The Peninsula, periódico en ingles qatarí, ha señalado:

“Una nueva ley mediática [en Qatar] está siendo preparada cuyo borrador preliminar sugiere que los periodistas tendrán libertad de escribir sobre temas, con la excepción de los que tienen que ver con la seguridad nacional y países amigos”. [5]

Lo que significa la ley qatarí es una restricción de la libertad de prensa. La ley qatarí denota que los periodistas tienen libertad para informar sobre cualquier cosa “con la excepción” de temas relacionados con aliados políticos y amigos o temas de seguridad nacional de Qatar. Los “países amigos” incluirían a Bahréin y Omán, lo que explicaría por qué la red Al-Jazeera apenas cubre las protestas en esos países y hace caso omiso del asesinato de manifestantes pacíficos a manos de los militares bahreiníes y mercenarios extranjeros bajo las órdenes de los Al-Khalifa.

The Peninsula informa además:

“Algunos periodistas qataríes ven la iniciativa como una estratagema para retornar ‘en un nuevo avatar’ al desbandado ministerio de información que impuso la censura de prensa hasta 1995.

“Es demasiado conocido el papel que el ministerio de información y cultura tuvo en el pasado (una referencia a la censura de los medios), “dijo Abudulla Al Athbah, destacado escritor y columnista qatarí.” [6]

Esta ley qatarí también encarna la política e intereses que regulan la red Al-Jazeera. Si supuestamente los “Estados amigos” no deben ser criticados, significa que Libia es “un Estado inamistoso”. Esto dice en sí que los medios pueden ser utilizados como arma. Vale la pena señalar que Hillary Clinton se ha pronunciado en apoyo a Al-Jazeera. [7]

Reconocimiento legal de la oposición libia

Funcionarios de EE.UU. y de la UE trabajan para crear más que un pretexto para un conflicto con Trípoli, también están creando un manto legal para prevenir su futuro enjuiciamiento. Mientras los dirigentes del GCC declararon que el gobierno del coronel Gadafi no es legítimo, Francia anunció su reconocimiento legal de la oposición en Libia basada en Bengasi. Forbes informó: “La iniciativa tiene lugar mientras numerosas naciones occidentales han subido el tono de su retórica, al reconocer oficialmente Francia el consejo gobernante rebelde, e impulsa conversaciones sobre una zona de no-vuelo en el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU y en la OTAN.” [8]

La iniciativa francesa es también una demostración de más conducta hipócrita, porque Francia ofreció ayuda a la dictadura en Túnez para aplastar a los manifestantes tunecinos. [9] La Unión Europea en su conjunto también ha otorgado su reconocimiento de facto a la dirigencia en Bengasi, calificándola de “interlocutor político”. [10] Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Agencia de Prensa Alemana) ha informado que la UE declaró que “ya no está dispuesta a negociar con el líder libio Muamar Gadafi y que en su lugar mantendrá conversaciones con sus oponentes, basados en la ciudad oriental de Bengasi”. [11] La Liga Árabe actuó de la misma manera, retirando su reconocimiento legal del régimen de Gadafi. [12]

Nada de esto es por coincidencia. Esas acciones forman parte de un esfuerzo coordinado a escala internacional. Washington dirige estos esfuerzos entre bambalinas. El gobierno de EE.UU. trata deliberadamente de mantenerse a la sombra a fin de desviar la atención.

La secretaria de Estado de EE.UU., Hillary Clinton, declaró que se va a reunir con la oposición libia. [13] En una declaración de mal agüero, mientras visitaba Chile, Clinton dijo a los periodistas: “Estamos en contacto directo con miembros de la oposición, aquí en EE.UU., en Libia, en otros países, y trabajamos con ellos para determinar qué ayuda [del gobierno de EE.UU.] podrán utilizar efectivamente [14]

El reconocimiento del Consejo de Transición pretende justificar la intervención extranjera

Como la democracia, el derecho internacional es un simple problema de conveniencia e intereses para EE.UU. y las principales potencias de la UE. Aunque se pueda cuestionar moralmente la legitimidad del régimen de Gadafi, es algo diferente según los términos del derecho internacional. [15] Según el derecho internacional, el régimen del coronel Gadafi es el representante legal y el gobierno de Libia. Encabezados por París, lo que están haciendo ahora EE.UU. y la UE, así como sus aliados del GCC, es tomar pasos para eliminar los derechos internacionalmente garantizados del régimen en Trípoli al otorgar reconocimiento legal a la oposición.

El objetivo de otorgar reconocimiento oficial a la oposición basada en Bengasi podría ser utilizado de diversas maneras por EE.UU. y sus aliados de la UE. La acción forma parte de una estrategia para balcanizar Libia. También provee lo que EE.UU. y la UE podrían indudablemente utilizar como cobertura legal para una intervención militar.

Hay que escuchar al presidente francés, Nicolas Sarkozy, para comprender el significado de todo esto. Sarkozy ha declarado repetidamente que los factores que justificarían una intervención militar serían: una resolución del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU autorizando el uso de la fuerza, una amplia coalición que incluya a los árabes, y el consentimiento del “gobierno legal de Libia”, [16] Es el guardián o habilitador.

¿Cuál es el gobierno legal de Libia según Francia? Para París la oposición libia en Bengasi, el así llamado Consejo de Transición, es el gobierno legal de Libia. No es ningún secreto que los dirigentes de la oposición libia quieren que se establezcan “zonas de no-vuelo”. [17] Por lo tanto, EE.UU., la UE, y la OTAN intentarán presentar un argumento legal para su intervención diciendo que los representantes legales internacionales de Libia pidieron la intervención, y utilizarán un pretexto humanitario.

Los dirigentes de la oposición libia quieren intervención

Hay que dejar en claro que la realidad de la situación es que “zonas de exclusión aérea” equivaldrían a nada menos que una guerra de intervención militar, lo que también significa que se requieren soldados en suelo libio. Los dirigentes de la oposición libia también han solicitado ayuda militar. Lo que sigue es un pasaje sobre la posición de la oposición libia en Bengasi:

“Necesitamos más que diplomacia. Necesitamos una zona de no-vuelo, pero necesitamos más que eso,” pidió Iman Buhaighis, una portavoz del Consejo Provisional Nacional de Transición, el autoproclamado gobierno alternativo, en la segunda ciudad [por su tamaño] de Libia. [18]

Los dirigentes de la oposición han estado emitiendo deliberadamente señales incoherentes. Algunos afirman que se oponen a la intervención militar, pero es falaz. Hay que señalar que mientras los dirigentes libios de la oposición en Bengasi piden intervención, la mayoría de los libios a ambos lados se oponen a la intervención de EE.UU. y de la OTAN.

Para derrotar a los militares libios, que siguen estando bajo el comando del régimen de Gadafi, las fuerzas de la oposición necesitan la intervención militar y armas extranjeras. The Globe and Mail dijo lo siguiente al respecto:

“Incluso Mustafa Abdul Jalil, líder del consejo transicional rebelde, acepta que los rebeldes no pueden ganar con medios militares: “Todos debieran saber que no hay un equilibrio entre nuestras capacidades y las de Muamar Gadafi”, dijo el ex ministro de justicia quien desertó al principio de la rebelión. [19]

EE.UU., la UE, y la OTAN podrán tratar de mantener simplemente un equilibrio del poder entre ambas partes, como EE.UU. y sus aliados lo hicieron con Irán e Iraq, durante la Guerra Iraq-Irán. Podrían hacerlo a fin de reforzar sus argumentos a favor de una intervención militar. Incluso podrán contemplar mientras las fuerzas de la oposición son derrotadas y luego imponer un régimen de sanciones y de fuertes castigos contra Libia. O podrán esperar hasta que las fuerzas opositoras hayan sido casi completamente eliminadas y entonces intervenir mediante una campaña aérea en gran escala.

Hacia los oasis de Libia: Otra aventura imperial en gestación

Detrás de la cortina de humo de la así llamada diplomacia, EE.UU. hace que sus aliados de la UE dirijan el ataque en lo internacional, debido a su imagen como agresor internacional. Lo que realmente está en juego es una operación de cambio de régimen. En boca de un diplomático europeo anónimo citado por Associated Press (AP): “Estamos hablando de intervención militar para librarnos de un gobierno [en Libia] y colocar a otro en su lugar [y] sólo tiene que ver con eso.” [20]

No se trata realmente de democracia. Un gobierno no elegido será reemplazado por otro gobierno no elegido, que también está formado por personajes del régimen que han desertado. También vale la pena señalar que uno de los temas de conversación cruciales de la Unión Europea para Libia posterior al conflicto es la mayor cooperación entre Trípoli y Bruselas. Dicho simplemente, el objetivo de EE.UU. y de la UE es transformar a Libia en una colonia contemporánea.

Lo que tiene lugar es una repetición de Iraq y de Yugoslavia. Esta vez, sin embargo, el gobierno de EE.UU. y sus aliados de la UE no sólo están creando un pretexto humanitario para la confrontación, sino también un manto legal más inteligente para no ser acusados de violación de leyes internacionales como en el caso de George W. Bush Jr. y de Tony Blair. Washington y Bruselas han avivado el fuego en Libia y quieren que el país se resquebraje mediante la guerra civil, y utilizan una campaña de desinformación mediática sofisticada. Son en sí crímenes que también serán sacados a la luz tarde o temprano.

………….

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya se especializa en Medio Oriente y Asia Central. Es asociado investigador del Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens.

NOTAS

[1] Agustino Fontevecchia, “Saudi Arabia, UAE Call Gadhafi’s Regime ‘Illegitimate,’” Forbes, 11 de marzo de 2011.
[2] Ibíd.
[3] Wissam Keyrouz, “Gulf states back Libya no-fly zone,” Agence-France Presse (AFP), 8 de marzo de 2011.
[4] Press Trust of India, “Gaddafi’s forces set for Benghazi, AL backs ‘no-fly’ zone, 13 de marzo de 2011.
[5] The Peninsula, “Draft law promises freedom to media,” 10 de marzo de 2011.
[6] Ibíd.
[7] Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher, “Al-Jazeera, as endorsed by Hillary Clinton,” The Guardian (Reino Unido), 10 de marzo de 2011.
[8] Fontevecchia, “Saudi Arabia, UAE,” Op. cit.
[9] Kim Willsher, “French minister defends offer of security forces to Tunisia,” The Guardian (Reino Unido), 18 de enero de 2011.
[10] Joshua Chaffin and Roula Khalaf, “Arab League prepares to back no-fly zone,” Financial Times, 11 de marzo de 2011.
[11] Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)/German Press Agency, “EU ditches Gaddafi for opposition,” 11 de marzo de 2011.
[12] Tim Pearce ed., “Libya ‘crimes’ strip it of legitimacy – Arab League,” Reuters, 12 de marzo de 2011.
[13] Reuters, “Clinton to meet Libya opposition, warns of next steps,” 10 de marzo de 2011.
[14] Ibíd.
[15] Esto no quiere decir que las leyes sean legítimas, porque en muchos casos las leyes son creadas para proteger y arraigar las bases del poder, sus privilegios, y su legitimidad. Lo que hay que considerar en este caso es la aplicación de la ley y la falta de principios consecuentes.
[16] Nicolas Sarkozy, Conseil européen extraordinaire sur la situation en Libye et en Méditerranée (Extraordinary European Council on the situation in Libya and the Mediterranean) (Press Conference, Brussels, Belgium: 11 de marzo de 2011):
<http://www.elysee.fr/president/les-actualites/conferences-de-presse/2011/conseil-europeen-extraordinaire-sur-la-situation.10882.html>.
[17] Paul Koring, “Obama rules out Libyan air strikes,” The Globe and Mail, 11 de marzo de 2011.
[18] Ibíd.
[19] Ibíd.
[20] Raf Caset et al., “Ahead of summit, European Union downplays likelihood of no-fly zone over Libya,” Associated Press (AP), 9 de marzo de 2011.

Peace is not yours to give, Mr. President

March 16th, 2011 by Kathleen Kirwin

As I listened to a friend and colleague in Afghanistan a few days ago, the difference I discerned in his voice from previous conversations was visceral. That he unswervingly and joyfully dedicates his every thought, word and deed to advocating for peace in Afghanistan through peaceful means made his tone and tenor all the more heart-wrenching. Our phone connection was not clear, but I thought I heard him say something akin to: I never thought I would hear myself say that the Afghan people need hope now more than they need peace. What I know I did hear him say distinctly, however, was: “The people have nothing to lose now. They are being killed anyway.”

That you, Mr. Obama, are now singularly responsible for stealing the hope of the ordinary People of Afghanistan is an abomination. That you continue to steal it in the way that you do, however, is a crime of the deepest shame. I have come to know my friend well enough to know that he does not “hurt” for himself because of the hopelessness and pain you inflict, but rather for each and every individual person who makes up the “ordinary” People of Afghanistan: the infants and small children, the youth a few years older, the elders, the women who care for all, and the men who now find themselves having to protect their families against you. Such is the legacy you have created for yourself.

For his safety, my friend’s name shall remain anonymous, but his sentiments shall not, if I have anything to say about it, Mr. President, which I do. (See, First Amendment to the United States Constitution: Right to Petition government for Redress of Grievances.)

As you may or may not recall, you based your campaign to be the president of this nation on the premise and promise of “hope.” The ironies here abound. The ironies here are sickening. I am not unaware that you inherited a “war” already in progress in Afghanistan on your first day in office. But such inheritance is not a defense to any concern of mine. And nor was it, nor is it, apparently, any concern of yours. You were eager to utilize this war and you championed it. You campaigned to be the supreme military commander of it. You criticized your predecessor for not paying enough attention to it. You committed to send more troops to it even before having the elected authority to do so, and you touted it as the “good war”, in juxtaposition to Iraq, the ostensible “bad war.”

More ironies abound. More ironies sicken. You are not a man of peace, as my friend in Afghanistan is, Mr. President, and your award last year would have made Alfred Nobel throw up. That you claim to have been “shaped” by the peaceful non-violence practiced, not just preached, by Gandhi and Dr. King is hypocrisy of the highest order. A man of peace would be wise enough to know that peace cannot be imposed where there are no enemies except for the enemies one creates trying to impose peace. Peace cannot be dictated from afar, it cannot be lectured, it cannot be strategized, it cannot be politicized, it cannot be threatened, it cannot be bought, and it certainly cannot be bombed into existence.

Peace is not yours to give to Afghanistan, Mr. Obama, and it never will be, no matter if you stay there until kingdom comes. Peace is a choice and it is a choice you have no standing to make in that place. Peace will come, or not, to Afghanistan and to every Afghan, from within, by and through their own choices, not by the erstwhile beneficence of whether you choose to war there on any given day in their name. Your only possible contribution to peace in Afghanistan can be to get out of the way of the only people capable of creating peace there. Simply get out of the way, for peace can never come…choices can never be made…non-violence can never be “practiced”, Mr. President, while you murder and maim, while you occupy, destroy and desecrate a people whose hope you have stolen.

Kathleen Kirwin is a trial attorney specializing in high-level civil rights and criminal cases and is currently based in Sarasota, Florida. She also practices international human rights and criminal law and has been an anti-war activist for the past 40 years. Kathleen can be contacted at [email protected]. Her new website, The Revolutionary Legal Front,is under construction and will be online soon.

Unfolding Nuclear Catastrophe: America on Radiation Alert

March 16th, 2011 by Global Research

America on radiation alert: Japan faces world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl as experts warn fallout may reach U.S. –California ‘monitoring situation closely’ amid dramatic escalation of disaster –Japan’s nuclear crisis now appears worse than the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 –Radioactive wind could reach Tokyo within hours – and radiation levels are already rising in city –Nuclear Regulatory Commission admits it is ‘quite possible’ radiation could reach the U.S. –’Worst-case scenario’ could see 30,000ft winds sending nuclear cloud across Pacific – possibly hitting by Tuesday night 15 Mar 2011 Fears that America could be hit by the nuclear fallout from the Japan earthquake have dramatically increased as workers prepared to abandon a reactor crippled by the earthquake and tsunami last night in the face of what is set to become the world’s second worst nuclear disaster – topped only by Chernobyl. Damage at the number two reactor at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex is worse than thought, the Japanese government admitted tonight, sparking fears for human health both in Japan and the U.S. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has admitted it is ‘quite possible’ the fallout could reach America.
 
Navy ships off Japan move to avoid radiation 14 Mar 2011 Ships in 7th Fleet, including the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, moved to avoid a radioactive plume flowing from a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant, the Navy said. In a post Monday on the fleet’s Facebook page, an official explained that low levels of radiation were detected in the air and on aircraft flying near the plant, a discovery that prompted the ships to move to a position away from the plume’s downwind path. The Reagan was at sea, around 100 miles northeast of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear power plant, when the hazardous material was discovered.
 
U.S. Military Crew Passes Through Radioactive Cloud –Prevailing winds picking up radioactive material from crippled reactors in northeastern Japan –U.S. helicopters flying missions north of damaged reactors became coated with particulate radiation 14 Mar 2011 The Pentagon was expected to announce that the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which is sailing in the Pacific, passed through a radioactive cloud from stricken nuclear reactors in Japan, causing crew members on deck to receive a month’s worth of radiation in about an hour, government officials said Sunday. The officials added that American helicopters flying missions about 60 miles north of the damaged reactors became coated with particulate radiation that had to be washed off.
 
Radiation spewing from reactors, residents told to stay indoors 15 Mar 2011 Radiation is spewing from damaged reactors at a crippled nuclear power plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan in a dramatic escalation of the 4-day-old catastrophe, forcing the government to tell people nearby to stay indoors to avoid exposure. Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned that there are dangers of more leaks and told people living within 30 kilometres of the Fukushima Daiichi complex stay indoors. In a nationally televised statement, Kan said radiation has spread from four reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima province that was one of the hardest-hit in Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.
 
Radiation fears after Japan blast 15 Mar 2011 Radiation fears after Japan blast 15 Mar 2011 Explosions at a Japanese quake-stricken nuclear plant have led to radiation levels that can affect human health, a senior Japanese official has said. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has urged those living within 30km (18 miles) of the plant to stay indoors. Earlier, reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was hit by a blast – the third reactor to explode in four days – leading to fears of a meltdown.
 
Rise in radiation detected in neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture: local nuclear authorities 15 Mar 2011 A sharp rise in radiation was detected in Ibaraki Prefecture, south of Fukushima, the prefectural nuclear safety department said Tuesday. The radiation monitored in Hitachiota city rose to 100 times as high as the normal level, said an official from the safety department. Radiation ten times as high as the normal level was also monitored in Naka city and Hitachi city in the prefecture, Xinhua reported.
 
Japan distributes iodine to evacuation centres-IAEA 14 Mar 2011 Japan has provided 230,000 units of stable iodine to evacuation centres as a precautionary measure in the country’s nuclear emergency, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Monday. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing information it had received from Japanese authorities, said about 185,000 residents in areas near nuclear power plants affected by Friday’s quake had been evacuated by March 13.
 
Japan’s Stricken Nuclear Power Plant Rocked by Two Blasts, Fire 15 Mar 2011 Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken nuclear power plant was today rocked by two further explosions and a fire as workers struggled to avert the risk of a meltdown. A hydrogen blast hit the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant’s No. 4 reactor, where Tokyo Electric earlier reported a blaze, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a briefing. Four of the complex’s six reactors have been damaged by explosions. Prime Minister Naoto Kan appealed for calm as he said the danger of further radiation leaks was rising at the crippled nuclear facility, 135 miles (220 kilometers) north of Tokyo.
 
4th reactor of Fukushima NPP on fire: Japan’s PM 15 Mar 2011 A fire at the fourth reactor of the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant resulted in a leak of highly concentrated radiation, the Japanese premier said on Tuesday. Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on the citizens residing within the 20-km (13 miles) distance from the reactor to immediately leave this zone and those living more than 20-30 km (13-17 miles) from the NPP to stay in their houses, but to shut windows and doors.
 
Japan crisis: third explosion raises spectre of nuclear nightmare –New explosion at Fukushima plant, as engineers fought to prevent a meltdown in the second worst nuclear accident in history. 14 Mar 2011 A huge explosion hit another reactor at an earthquake-damaged Japanese nuclear power plant early Tuesday, the third blast since Saturday, the plant operator said. “There was a huge explosion” between 6:00 am (2100 GMT Monday) and 6:15 am at the number-two reactor of Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, a Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) spokesman said. The government also reported apparent damage to part of the container shielding the same reactor at Fukushima 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo, although it was unclear whether this resulted from the blast.
 
US Nuclear Experts Worry About Possible Japan Reactor Meltdown 13 Mar 2011 Underscoring grave concerns about the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant some 150 miles north of Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. Air Force had delivered coolant to try to lower the temperature of the facility’s nuclear rods. Tokyo Electric Power Co said pressure inside a reactor at its Fukushima-Daiichi plant rose after the cooling system was knocked out by the earthquake.
 
Reactor Fuel Rods May Be Melting After Exposed a Second Time 14 Mar 2011 Tokyo Electric Power Co. can’t rule out that the fuel rods are melting at the Fukushima Dai Ichi No. 2 reactor, heightening the risk of a meltdown, after water levels dropped, exposing them a second time. An air flow gauge was accidentally turned off causing air pressure into the reactor to rise suddenly and blocking the flow of cooling water, the company said in a press conference on national broadcaster NHK’s website. Tokyo Electric is now attempting to reopen the valve to release pressure building inside the reactor and inject water to cool the rods, the company said.
 
At least 15 Japanese hospitalized with radiation poisoning 13 Mar 2011 At least 15 people have been admitted to hospital with symptoms of radiation poisoning following an accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Kyodo news agency said on Sunday. A blast ripped through the Fukushima Number One nuclear reactor on Saturday, destroying the building, but leaving the nuclear reactor itself undamaged, according to official Japanese reports.
 
Japan’s Nikkei slumps 10.6% on radiation fears 15 Mar 2011 Japanese shares plunged Tuesday on panic-selling over worries that radiation from a damaged nuclear reactor would further complicate and endanger the nation’s recovery from its worst-ever earthquake on record Friday. The benchmark Nikkei Stock Average, which fell more than 14% at one point during the session, ended 10.6% to 8,605.15 for its biggest percentage fall since late 2008; the drop comes on top of a 6.2% tumble on Monday.
 
Obama Stands By Nuclear Power 14 Mar 2011 Obama administration officials Monday brushed aside calls for a freeze on new U.S. nuclear power development, and sought to reassure the public the nation’s nuclear facilities are safe and the threat of harmful radiation reaching U.S. soil from Japan is minimal. Meanwhile, the U.S. was sending more technical experts to Japan to get more information about the damaged nuclear reactors there as Japanese crews scrambled to prevent meltdowns at the facilities. [Remember the Exelon fiasco for which most members of the left gave him a pass? Corporate-owned Obusha is *still* giving billions to his nuclear industry overlords even nuclear catastrophe won't stop him from funding construction of the plants! *Primary Obusha in 2012* - since we can't impeach, apparently! --LRP]
 
Millions of Quake Victims Face Freezing Temperatures as Snow Is Forecast 14 Mar 2011 Rain and snow are forecast for areas of northern Japan ravaged by a record earthquake on March 11 as rescue workers struggle to reach thousands of people and others huddle in emergency shelters. In tsunami-ravaged Miyagi prefecture, where officials say the death toll may reach 10,000, there is a 70 percent chance of rain this evening in the capital of Sendai, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The precipitation is expected to turn to snow tomorrow morning as the temperature drops to 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and below freezing in other areas.
 
Japan tsunami survivor Hiromitsu Shinkawa found 10 miles out at sea 13 Mar 2011 A 60-year-old man has been found on the roof of his floating house nearly 10 miles out at sea, two days after the tsunami that devastated the north-east coast of Japan. Hiromitsu Shinkawa must have resigned himself to his fate when he was swept away by the retreating tsunami that roared ashore in his home town of Minami Soma in Fukushima prefecture… Incredibly, he was spotted by a maritime self-defence force destroyer taking part in the rescue effort as he clung to the wreckage with one hand and waved a self-made red flag with the other.
 
Soldiers warn of tsunami threat in NE Japan 13 Mar 2011 Soldiers and officials in northeastern Japan are warning residents that the area could be hit by another tsunami and are ordering residents to higher ground. Sirens around the town of Soma went off late Monday morning and public address systems ordered residents to higher ground. Kyodo News Agency said the tsunami could be 10 feet (3 meters) high, citing Fukushima prefectural officials.
 
Number of missing, dead in Japan soars to 6,000 15 Mar 2011 More than 6,000 people are confirmed dead or missing in Japan, four days after an earthquake triggered a tsunami that wiped out entire towns in the country’s northeast. Police said nearly 2,475 people were confirmed dead and 3,611 missing Tuesday. But with hundreds of bodies washing ashore, the death toll was expected to climb much higher — possibly as high as 10,000.
 
Death toll in Japan expected to rise above 10,000 14 Mar 2011 Hundreds of bodies are washing up along the shore in Japan’s northeast, as officials struggled to retrieve the dead and provide relief to thousands of homeless survivors. Local officials say they have lost contact with about 30,000 people as the country faces what Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls its greatest crisis since World War Two. There is a sense of urgency among rescuers as the weather forecasts call for temperatures just above freezing. There is also worries that rain could cause deadly mudslides.
 
Japan quake upgraded to 9.0 magnitude 15 Mar 2011 US experts on Monday upgraded the strength of the earthquake which rocked Japan last week from a magnitude of 8.9 to 9.0, making it the fourth largest in the world since 1900. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said Japanese seismologists have also independently updated their estimate of the earthquake which struck offshore in northern Japan on Friday unleashing a devastating tsunami.
 
Fire and Ice: Melting Glaciers Trigger Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes –Geologists Say Global Warming Expected to Cause Many New Seismic Events By Larry West 14 Mar 2011 Climatologists have been raising alarms about global warming for years, and now geologists are getting into the act, warning that melting glaciers will lead to an increasing number of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions in unexpected places. People in northern climates who have been looking south and shaking their heads sadly over the plight of people living in the path of Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific tsunamis had better get ready for a few seismic events of their own, according to a growing number of prominent geologists.
 

Former Yugoslavia: Milosevic Put his Accusers on Trial

March 16th, 2011 by Catherine Schütz

Five years ago Yugoslavia’s president died in The Hague. The local UN tribunal denied him adequate medical treatment. A conversation with Catherine Schütz By Rüdiger Göbel, Junge Welt www.jungewelt.de  

Cathrin Schütz, who holds a degree in political science and is a writer/analyst for Junge Welt, was a member of the defense team of Slobodan Milosevic before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 2002 on. Among her contributions was “The destruction of Yugoslavia – Slobodan Milosevic replies to his accusers,” published by the Zambon-Verlag

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the death of Slobodan Milosevic, you will be protesting this Friday (March 11, 2011) at the Office of the United Nations in Vienna. Why not in The Hague where the former Yugoslav and Serbian president died in his cell during his trial before the Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY)?

The UN has created a monster with the ICTY and we’re demanding to finally remove this monster from the world. The governments of the United States and Germany set up the ICTY in 1993 as the first ad hoc tribunal in the UN Security Council, although the SC has no legal authority for such a step. A UN body, which judges citizens of member states, is in fundamental contradiction to the UN Charter. At the illegal establishment in The Hague we see no one to discuss this with.

What interest did the U.S. and Germany pursue with the establishment of the ICTY?

Because Yugoslavia stood in the way of their drive to expand in Eastern Europe, they led the way to its destruction; both states share responsibility for the outbreak and escalation of secessionist civil wars. With full awareness of the results of their plans, they had already in 1993 by diplomatic and covert operations covered their hands with Balkan blood, and then invented a “court” that could be used as a weapon to pressure the warring parties. And it should judge the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia – in true NATO-style: bring the recalcitrant Serbs to their knees and acquit the NATO countries of their responsibility. With this in mind, protected by the ICTY, NATO conducted an aggressive war against Yugoslavia in 1999 without a UN mandate. Because of its financial resources and political connections NATO spokesman Jamie Shea had described the military alliance as a “friend of the ICTY” and thus proactively explained why there would be no charges brought for NATO’s war crimes — crimes that have been certified by Amnesty International.

But there do exist international standards for fair trials.

In order to carry out the political mission, the ICTY had to disregard standards that normally apply. The Serbian opposition leader Vojislav Seselj has been held in custody for eight years. This is a clear breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. In any rule of law a defendant has a right to know what he is accused of. The ICTY has made basic changes in the particulars of the indictments several times, even after the trial had begun. It changed its own rules umpteen times and constantly violated them. Milosevic was refused his guaranteed right to defend himself. Radovan Karadzic is threatened with the same. The principle of giving equal treatment to prosecution and defense was violated every day. The prosecutor held weekly press conferences in the ICTY, and Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch, a renowned producer of anti-Serb propaganda, rushed regularly to the foyer to attack Milosevic to the media. Meanwhile our colleague was ejected from the building when he distributed a handout to a journalist. The huge budget of the ICTY stood behind the accusers. The Milosevic-defense had to rely on donations alone. When the German government criminalized the fundraising campaign, froze our funds and also blocked my account, the ICTY refused us any support. This greatly limited our work.

You describe the ICTY as anti-Serb. But there were also Croats and Bosnian Muslims convicted…

Although this was a three-sided civil war, about 80 percent of all defendants are Serbs, including many top politicians and senior military. Not so with the Croats and Bosnian Muslims. The Croatian General Ante Gotovina was indeed found responsible for notorious “ethnic cleansing of Krajina,” which removed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, but not his superior officers. The same applies to the Bosnian Muslim Naser Oric. Although he boasted during the war to the Western press with the severed heads of Serbs, the ICTY says that no one can prove he is responsible for the attacks of his soldiers on the Serbs around Srebrenica. The U.S. journalists, who were the first to see his human war trophies, were never called to testify by the ICTY. The pseudo trials against non-Serbs are meant to demonstrate to the outside world the impartiality of the ICTY.

Former ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte will now render a judgment in the case of organ trafficking by the Albanian Kosovar mafia. Serbs from Kosovo were deported to Albania and were systematically eviscerated.

Del Ponte has demonstrated in her autobiography the information needed to expose the organ trade, which led to the investigation and the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty. But I wonder if she in her current involvement wants to cover up a bigger scandal. Marty has namely discovered that under Del Ponte 2003the ICTY destroyed evidence of organ harvesting by the criminal gangs in Kosovo!

The majority of the local media [in Berlin] then described Slobodan Milosevic as they describe Muammar al Gadhafi today. Take your pick: Either he was a megalomaniac, evil, genocidal, yes, even a new Hitler. You were part of his defense team. What was it like?

Lord David Owen, former EU Special Envoy for the Balkans, described Milosevic as a “Yugoslav” who was anything but an ideologue for a Greater Serbia or promoter of “ethnic cleansing.” I agree with Owen. Milosevic often took Croats and Bosnian Muslims under his protection, and he stressed how they were used by the West and misled. He also mentioned in his defense the support of the Bosnian Muslim forces by foreign mujahideen. However, he was opposed to any overestimation of the “Islamic terror.” He stressed instead that the U.S. was responsible for the importation of Islamic fighters. It was no coincidence that the non-Serbs facing charges also respected him.

I was impressed by the reports of the defense witnesses, with whom I had close contact. They were Western politicians, diplomats, military officers, journalists who, in one way or another, witnessed the war. And all of their statements they confirmed that the allegations against Milosevic were as false as everything else that has been reported about Yugoslavia.

How did Milosevic experience his imprisonment and trial?

He probably never believed that the presumption of innocence would apply to him was that he would experience a legitimate trial. But he held his head high and put his accusers on trial. He made no compromise, no deal that would bring him privileges. He was free inside, as he himself observed. He could not help but see the ICTY as a repressive political instrument that was used to punish political leaders like him who refused to unconditionally surrender to imperialism. More and more harassment was used in order to weaken his defense. Finally the Tribunal in early 2006 refused to allow him treatment at a heart clinic in Moscow, which assured that he would not survive the Tribunal.

During the wars in former Yugoslavia, most of the media were uncritically anti-Serb. How did you find the journalists at the trial?

The press was never interested in the content of the trial. When it became clear that the prosecutors couldn’t prove their allegations, and on the other hand Milosevic could expose the arming of Croatian and Bosnian Muslim sides and later the Kosovo-Albanian side by Germany and the United States, the trial was hushed up. They did not allow the image of Serbia as the aggressor to falter. The German media did not even report it when a German witness was clearly shaken at the Kosovo portion of the trial. Ex-army officer Dietmar Hartwig was head of European observers in Kosovo and on the spot until the beginning of the NATO attack. He experienced terror, not from Serbs, but from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). And Bo Adam of the Berliner Zeitung newspaper was told by local Albanians, that the “innocent Kosovars” at Racak* were really combat deaths.

Usually no journalists were there, with the exception of Germinal Civikov, whose reports provide valuable evidence.

*In January 1999, casualties from a battle between KLA commandos and Serb police and army in Racak, Kosovo, were disguised as civilian deaths and Western politicians and media used the incident to promote anti-Serb propaganda leading to the war.–Translator

Published in Junge Welt, March 11, 2011. Translated from the German by John Catalinotto.

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment

Written by Alexey V. Yablokov (Center for Russian Environmental Policy, Moscow, Russia), Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Nesterenko (Institute of Radiation Safety, Minsk, Belarus). Consulting Editor Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger (Environmental Institute, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan).
Volume 1181, December 2009

335 Pages

    This is a collection of papers translated from the Russian with some revised and updated contributions. Written by leading authorities from Eastern Europe, the volume outlines the history of the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. According to the authors, official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations’ agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.

    Posted 4/28/2010

    NEW YORK—“Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” Volume 1181 of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, published online in November 2009, was authored by Alexey V. Yablokov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexey V. Nesterenko, of the Institute of Radiation Safety (Belarus), and the late Prof. Vassily B. Nesterenko, former director of the Belarussian Nuclear Center. With a foreword by the Chairman of the Ukranian National Commission on Radiation Protection, Dimitro M. Grodzinsky, the 327-page volume is an English translation of a 2007 publication by the same authors. The earlier volume, “Chernobyl,” published in Russian, presented an analysis of the scientific literature, including more than 1,000 titles and more than 5,000 printed and Internet publications mainly in Slavic languages, on the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.

    The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences issue “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”, therefore, does not present new, unpublished work, nor is it a work commissioned by the New York Academy of Sciences. The expressed views of the authors, or by advocacy groups or individuals with specific opinions about the Annals Chernobyl volume, are their own. Although the New York Academy of Sciences believes it has a responsibility to provide open forums for discussion of scientific questions, the Academy has no intent to influence legislation by providing such forums. The Academy is committed to publishing content deemed scientifically valid by the general scientific community, from whom the Academy carefully monitors feedback.

    REVIEW BY KARL GROSSMAN

    published in September 2010

    This past April 26th [2010] marked the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. It came as the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear government officials in the United States and other nations were trying to “revive” nuclear power. And it followed the publication of a book, the most comprehensive study ever made, on the impacts of the Chernobyl disaster.

    Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment was published by the New York Academy of Sciences.

    It is authored by three noted scientists:

    Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president;

    Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist and ecologist in Belarus; and

    Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist and at the time of the accident director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

    Its editor is Dr. Janette Sherman, a physician and toxicologist long involved in studying the health impacts of radioactivity.

    The book is solidly based — on health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports — some 5,000 in all.

    It concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died, mainly of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident. That is between when the accident occurred in 1986 and 2004. More deaths, it projects, will follow.

    The book explodes the claim of the International Atomic Energy Agency– still on its website that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The IAEA, the new book shows, is under-estimating, to the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl.

    Alice Slater, representative in New York of the Nuclear Age Peace

    Foundation, comments: “The tragic news uncovered by the comprehensive

    new research that almost one million people died in the toxic aftermath of Chernobyl should be a wake-up call to people all over the world to petition their governments to put a halt to the current industry-driven

    “nuclear renaissance.’ Aided by a corrupt IAEA, the world has been subjected to a massive cover-up and deception about the true damages caused by Chernobyl.”

    Further worsening the situation, she said, has been “the collusive agreement between the IAEA and the World Health Organization in which the WHO is precluded from publishing any research on radiation effects without consultation with the IAEA.” WHO, the public health arm of the UN, has supported the IAEA’s claim that 4,000 will die as a result of the accident.

    “How fortunate,” said Ms. Slater, “that independent scientists have now revealed the horrific costs of the Chernobyl accident.”

    The book also scores the position of the IAEA, set up through the UN in 1957 “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy,” and its 1959 agreement with WHO. There is a “need to change,” it says, the IAEA-WHO pact. It has muzzled the WHO, providing for the “hiding” from the “public of any information “unwanted” by the nuclear industry.

    “An important lesson from the Chernobyl experience is that experts and organizations tied to the nuclear industry have dismissed and ignored the consequences of the catastrophe,” it states.

    The book details the spread of radioactive poisons following the explosion of Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant on April 26, 1986. These major releases only ended when the fire at the reactor was brought under control in mid-May. Emitted were “hundreds of millions of curies, a quantity hundreds of times larger than the fallout from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The most extensive fall-out occurred in regions closest to the plant–in the Ukraine (the reactor was 60 miles from Kiev in Ukraine), Belarus and Russia.

    However, there was fallout all over the world as the winds kept changing direction “so the radioactive emissions” covered an enormous territory.”

    The radioactive poisons sent billowing from the plant into the air included Cesium-137, Plutonium, Iodine-131 and Strontium-90.

    There is a breakdown by country, highlighted by maps, of where the radionuclides fell out. Beyond Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the countries included Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The radiological measurements show that some 10% of Chernobyl poisons “fell on Asia”Huge areas” of eastern Turkey and central China “were highly contaminated,” reports the book. Northwestern Japan was impacted, too.

    Northern Africa was hit with “more than 5% of all Chernobyl releases.”

    The finding of Cesium-137 and both Plutonium-239 and Plutonium-240 “in accumulated Nile River sediment is evidence of significant Chernobyl contamination,” it states.

    “Areas of North America were contaminated from the first, most powerful explosion, which lifted a cloud of radionuclides to a height of more than 10 km. Some 1% of all Chernobyl nuclides,” says the book, “fell on North America.”

    The consequences on public health are extensively analyzed. Medical records involving children–the young, their cells more rapidly multiplying, are especially affected by radioactivity–are considered. Before the accident, more than 80% of the children in the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia extensively contaminated by Chernobyl “were healthy,” the book reports, based on health data. But “today fewer than 20% are well.”

    There is an examination of genetic impacts with records reflecting an increase in “chromosomal aberrations” wherever there was fallout.

    This will continue through the “children of irradiated parents for as many as seven generations.” So “the genetic consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe will impact hundreds of millions of people.”

    As to deaths, the list of countries and consequences begins with Belarus. “For the period 1900-2000 cancer mortality in Belarus increased 40%,” it states, again based on medical data and illuminated by tables in the book. “The increase was a maximum in the most highly contaminated Gomel Province and lower in the less contaminated Brest and Mogilev provinces.” They include childhood cancers, thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers.

    Considering health data of people in all nations impacted by the fallout, the “overall mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe was estimated as 985,000 additional deaths.”

    Further, “the concentrations” of some of the poisons, because they have radioactive half-lives ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 years, “will remain practically the same virtually forever.”

    The book also examines the impact on plants and animals. “Immediately after the catastrophe, the frequency of plant mutations in the contaminated territories increased sharply.”

    There are photographs of some of these plant mutations. “Chernobyl irradiation has caused many structural anomalies and tumorlike changes in many plant species and has led to genetic disorders, sometimes continuing for many years,” it says. “Twenty-three years after the catastrophe it is still too early to know if the whole spectrum of plant radiogenic changes has been discerned. We are far from knowing all of the consequences for flora resulting from the catastrophe.”

    As to animals, the book notes “serious increases in morbidity and mortality that bear striking resemblance to changes in the public health of humans–increasing tumor rates, immunodeficiencies, and decreasing life expectancy.”

    In one study it is found that “survival rates of barn swallows in the most contaminated sites near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are close to zero. In areas of moderate contamination, annual survival is less than 25%.” Research is cited into ghastly abnormalities in barn swallows that do hatch: “two heads, two tails.”

    “In 1986,” the book states, “the level of irradiation in plants and animals in Western Europe, North America, the Arctic, and eastern Asia were sometimes hundreds and even thousands of times above acceptable norms.”

    In its final chapter, the book declares that the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant “was the worst technogenic accident in history.” And it examines “obstacles” to the reporting of the true consequences of Chernobyl with a special focus on “organizations associated with the nuclear industry” that “protect the industry first–not the public.” Here, the IAEA and WHO are charged.

    The book ends by quoting U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s call in 1963 for an end of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.”The Chernobyl catastrophe,” it declares, “demonstrates that the nuclear industry’s willingness to risk the health of humanity and our environment with nuclear power plants will result, not only theoretically, but practically, in the same level of hazard as nuclear weapons.”

    Dr. Sherman, speaking of the IAEA’s and WHO’s dealing with the impacts of Chernobyl, commented: “It’s like Dracula guarding the blood bank.” The 1959 agreement under which WHO “is not to be independent of the IAEA” but must clear any information it obtains on issues involving radioactivity with the IAEA has put “the two in bed together.”

    Of her reflections on 14 months editing the book, she said: “Every single system that was studied — whether human or wolves or livestock or fish or trees or mushrooms or bacteria — all were changed, some of them irreversibly. The scope of the damage is stunning.”

    In his foreword, Dr. Dimitro Grodzinsky, chairman of the Ukranian National Commission on Radiation Protection, writes about how “apologists of nuclear power” sought to hide the real impacts of the Chernobyl disaster from the time when the accident occurred. The book “provides the largest and most complete collection of data concerning the negative consequences of Chernobyl on the health of people and the environment…The main conclusion of the book is that it is impossible and wrong “to forget Chernobyl.”

    In the record of Big Lies, the claim of the IAEA-WHO that “only” 4,000 people will die as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe is among the biggest. The Chernobyl accident is, as the new book documents, an ongoing global catastrophe.

    And it is a clear call for no new nuclear power plants to be built and for the closing of the dangerous atomic machines now running — and a switch to safe energy technologies, now available, led by solar and wind energy, that will not leave nearly a million people dead from one disaster.

    Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up

     Global Research Articles by Karl Grossman

    Helen Caldicott will be speaking in Montreal on Friday March 18, at Centre Saint Pierre.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on THE NUCLEAR DANGER: Nuclear War and Nuclear Power
    Montreal. March 18

    People all over the world are watching updates on the Japanese nuclear emergency in growing horror and disbelief. Despite soothing words from nuclear energy industry promoters, each update today has signalled fresh disaster and even more drastic warnings. Anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott says it could spell the end of the nuclear industry worldwide. David Donovan reports.

    There appears to be massive divergence of opinion between experts about just how cataclysmic the Japanese situation could be.

    Yesterday, Japan’s nuclear agency attempted to calm fears by ranking the incident as a Category 4 nuclear accident, below the 1979 Three Mile Island partial meltdown in the US and well below the Chernobyl meltdown and explosion 25 years ago which rated top of the scale at seven. Chernobyl was the world’s worst nuclear disaster to date, scattering a radioactive cloud over millions of people in Russia and Europe, causing massive loss of life.

    Last night, the former head of Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Association (ANSTO) and major promoter of an Australian nuclear power industry, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, spoke soothing words about the situation in Japan, saying it was well in hand and was not even Japan’s most urgent priority.

    I think the authorities have got much more urgent things to attend to than what the current nuclear challenge presents. Because I think the difficulties with the one, two or three reactors that are at the moment taking up all of the time will be progressively confronted and overcome I would think in the days ahead.

    The Japanese authorities yesterday claimed that, despite the explosions, the 6 foot steel and iron containment vessel enclosing the reactors, which are designed to limit the loss of radiation into the atmosphere, had not been breached. After the 3rd explosion reported this morning, the Japanese authorities have since been notably quiet on this point.

    As a sign of the increasing urgency, news reports at 1.03pm (AEDST) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan had takenover personal control of the official response to the nuclear disaster.

    Then, at 1.50pm today it was reported: “It is clear that radiation has been spewing out into the atmosphere”.

    The UK Telegraph has raised the spectre of a potential “nuclear nightmare” and is calling this the second worst nuclear disaster in history.

    “The Fukushima crisis now rates as a more serious accident than the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, and is second only to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, according to the French nuclear safety authority. After insisting for three days that the situation was under control, Japan urgently appealed to US and UN nuclear experts for technical help on preventing white-hot fuel rods melting.”

    Dr. Michiko Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York, yesterday offered a dire worst case scenario.

    “The worst-case scenario is a steam/hydrogen gas explosion which blows the reactor vessels apart, sending uranium dioxide fuel rods and radioactive debris into the air. This might happen if the core is fully exposed for a few hours, which is a distinct possibility. This is what happened at Chernobyl, when such an explosion blew about 25 per cent of the core’s radioactive by-products into the air.”

    Despite the authorities pumping sea-water in to cool the cores, it appears as if they have been exposed for some time today. Depending on the winds, experts say Tokyo could be at risk. At 3.30pm higher than normal radiation levels were being reported in Tokyo, though apparently not enough to harm human health.

    Confusingly, at 4.14pm, the Financial Times reported that Shan Nair, the nuclear physicist who advised the European Commission on its response to the Chernobyl disaster, as saying that “It’s a bad accident but it’s not a Chernobyl”.

    It seems we have no alternative but to painfully wait and see just how severe this disaster will turn out to be.

    Dr Helen Caldicott: ‘The situation is very grim and not just for the Japanese people’

    One person who is in no doubt about the seriousness of the incident is prominent anti-nuclear campaigner, Dr Helen Caldicott. Independent Australia spoke exclusively to Dr Caldicott yesterday as she was in transit to Canada to speak at a hearing into a proposal to build four new power plants in Darlington, Ontario.

    Dr. Helen Caldicott is perhaps most influential environmental activist in the past 35 years.

    She called the situation in Japan was an “absolute disaster” that could be many, many times worse than Chernobyl. Dr Helen Caldicott raised the possibility of cataclysmic loss of life and suggested the emergency could be far more severe than Chernobyl.

    “The situation is very grim and not just for the Japanese people,” said Dr Caldicott.

    “If both reactors blow then the whole of the Northern Hemisphere may be affected,” she said.

    “Only one reactor blew at Chernobyl and it was only 3 months old, with new cores holding relatively little radiation; these ones have been operating for 40 years and would hold about 30 times more radiation than Chernobyl’s.”

    Dr Caldicott cited a report from the New York Academy of Sciences, which said that over 1 million people have died as a direct result of the 1986 melt-down at Chernobyl, mostly from cancer. She said authorities had attempted to “hush up” the full scale of the Chernobyl disaster. The official 2005 figure from the International Atomic Energy Agency was just 4,000 fatalities.

    The NYAS is a credible 200 year-old scientific institution. Their précis of the report is as follows:

    This is a collection of papers translated from the Russian with some revised and updated contributions. Written by leading authorities from Eastern Europe, the volume outlines the history of the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. According to the authors, official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations’ agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.

    When asked whether the disaster in Japan could be, say, 30 times worse than Chernobyl, Dr Caldicott said it could be even most catastrophic than that.

    “It could be much, much, worse than that,” said Dr Caldicott.

    “This could be a diabolical catastrophe—we’ll just have to wait and see.”

    Dr Caldicott said any fall-out was unlikely to affect Australia, though the death toll in the northern hemisphere could be severe.

    “Australia is probably not going to be affected by fall-out because the northern and southern air masses don’t mix.”

    “But in the northern hemisphere, many millions could get cancer”.

    Dr Caldicott said that despite the best efforts of nuclear energy campaigners, the Japanese disaster is likely to spell the end of the industry not just in Australia but worldwide.

    “We’ve had earthquakes in Australia before—no-one will want to risk this happening in this country.”

    “But I think the nuclear industry is finished worldwide.”

    “I have said before, unfortunately, the only thing that is capable of stopping this wicked industry is a major catastrophe, and it now looks like this may be it.”

    If we could rely on the Japanese and American governments to inform us of any danger, we wouldn’t have to be so vigilant.

    But given the American government’s cover up of the severity of the BP oil disaster, the health risk to New Yorkers after 9/11, and numerous other health issues, we will have to educate ourselves.

    For example, the U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that West Coast residents stock up with potassium iodide, while other government officials say that is unnecessary, because radiation levels will not be high enough. But no government has disclosed radiation readings in the West Coast, so we can’t verify for ourselves whether or not there is currently any danger. See this and this.

    As ABC News notes, experts says that Japan has a long history of nuclear cover-ups.

    The New York Times points out:

    The different radioactive materials being reported at the nuclear accidents in Japan range from relatively benign to extremely worrisome.

    The central problem in assessing the degree of danger is that the amounts of various radioactive releases into the environment are now unknown, as are the winds and other atmospheric factors that determine how radioactivity will disperse around the stricken plants.

    BBC reports (scroll down on left side):

    Japanese engineer Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessel for Fukushima’s reactor core, says the design was not enough to withstand earthquakes or tsunami …

    Indeed, Goto said:

    “It is difficult to say, but that would be a core meltdown. If the rods fall and mix with water, the result would be an explosion of solid material like a volcano spreading radioactive material. Steam or a hydrogen explosion caused by the mix would spread radioactive waste more than 50km. Also, this would be multiplied. There are many reactors in the area so there would be many Chernobyls.

    And Goto accused the Japanese government of deliberately withholding vital information that would allow outside experts help solve the problems:

    For example, there has not been enough information about the hydrogen being vented. We don’t know how much was vented and how radioactive it was.

    The former editor of the Japan Times – Yoichi Shimatsu – states that after a high-level government meeting, “Japanese agencies are no longer releasing independent reports without prior approval from the top,” and that censorship of what is really occurring at the plant is being overseen under the Article 15 Emergency Law.France is also accusing Japan of downplaying the nuclear threat.

    And Haarertz notes:

    Since the Japanese government has not provided accurate information regarding the possible threat posed by the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, experts in Israel and abroad are divided on the scope of the disaster and the ramifications for the environment.

    There are some very incomplete real-time monitoring networks such as this and this. But the number of monitors is very small and incomplete, and it is hard to know who runs the networks.

    So we must harness the power of the Internet in order to educate ourselves.

    How?

    Simple … Everyone who has a geiger counter can post a live stream to the web like this guy:


    Live video chat by Ustream
    (and these guys).

    Make sure you give your location (city, state and country) so people know where you are, the make and model of your geiger counter, and the units of radiation being counted (i.e. counts per minute, milli-roentgens per hour or micro-sieverts per hour).

    When enough people do this, we will have a citizens radiation monitoring network, and we won’t have to rely on the lack of information coming from governments.

    Please

    The Korean War, a.k.a. the “Unknown War,” was, in fact, headline news at the time it was being fought(1950-53). Given the Cold War hatreds of the combatants, though, a great deal of the reportage was propaganda, and much of what should have been told was never told. News of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians was routinely suppressed and the full story of the horrific suffering of the Korean people—who lost 3-million souls of a total population of 23-million— has yet to be told in full. Filling in many of the blank spaces is Bruce Cumings, chair of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, whose book “The Korean War”(Modern Library Chronicles) takes an objective look at the conflict. In one review, Publishers Weekly says, “In this devastating work he shows how little the U.S. knew about who it was fighting, why it was fighting, and even how it was fighting.

    Though the North Koreans had a reputation for viciousness, according to Cumings, U.S. soldiers actually engaged in more civilian massacres. This included dropping over half a million tons of bombs and thousands of tons of napalm, more than was loosed on the entire Pacific theater in World War II, almost indiscriminately. The review goes on to say, “Cumings deftly reveals how Korea was a clear precursor to Vietnam: a divided country, fighting a long anti-colonial war with a committed and underestimated enemy; enter the U.S., efforts go poorly, disillusionment spreads among soldiers, and lies are told at top levels in an attempt to ignore or obfuscate a relentless stream of bad news. For those who like their truth unvarnished, Cumings’s history will be a fresh, welcome take on events that seemed to have long been settled.”

    Interviewed in two one-hour installments by Lawrence Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, producers of Comcast’s “Books of Our Time” with the first installment being shown on Sunday, March 20th, Cumings said U.S. coverage of the war was badly slanted. Hanson Baldwin, the military correspondent for The New York Times, described “North Koreans as locusts, like Nazis, like vermin, who come shrieking on. I mean, this is really hard stuff to read in an era when you don’t get away with that kind of thinking anymore.” Cumings adds, “Rapes were extremely common. Koreans in the South will still say that that was one of the worst things of the war (was how)many American soldiers were raping Korean women.”

    Cumings said he was able to draw upon a lot of South Korean research that has come out since the nation democratized in the 1990s about the massacres of Korean civilians. This has been the subject of painstaking research by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Seoul and Cumings describes the results as “horrific.” Atrocities by “our side, the South Koreans (ran) six to one ahead of the North Koreans in terms of killing civilians, whereas most Americans would think North Koreans would just as soon kill a civilian to look at him.” The numbers of civilians killed in South Korea by the government, Cumings said, even dwarfed Spaniards murdered by dictator Francisco Franco, the general who overthrew the Madrid government in the 1936-1939 civil war. Cumings said about 100,000 South Koreans were killed in political violence between 1945 and 1950 and perhaps as many as 200,000 more were killed during the early months of the war. This compares to about 200,000 civilians put to death in Spain in Franco’s political massacres. In all, Korea suffered 3 million civilian dead during the 1950-53 war, more killed than the 2.7 million Japan suffered during all of World War II.

    One of the worst atrocities was perpetrated by the South Korean police at the small city of Tae Jun. They executed 7,000 political prisoners while Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military officials looked on, Cumings said. To compound the crime, the Pentagon blamed the atrocity on the Communists, Cumings said. “The Joint Chiefs of Staff classified the photographs of it because they make it clear who’s doing it, and they don’t let the photographs out until 1999 when a Korean finally got them declassified.” To top that off, the historian says, “the Pentagon did a video movie called ‘Crime of Korea’ where you see shots of pits that go on for like a football field, pit after pit of dead people, and (actor) Humphrey Bogart in a voice-over says, ‘someday the Communists will pay for this, someday we’ll get the full totals and believe me we’ll get the exact, accurate totals of the people murdered here and we will make these war criminals pay.’ Now this is a complete reversal of black and white, done as a matter of policy.” Cumings adds that these events represent “a very deep American responsibility for the regime that we promoted, really more than any other in East Asia (and that) was our creation in the late Forties.” Other atrocities, such as the one at No Gun village, Cumings terms “an American massacre of women and children,” which he lays at the feet of the U.S. military.

    Initially, reporters from U.S. magazines’ “Look,” “Saturday Evening Post,” “Collier’s,” and “Life,” could report on anything they saw, the historian said. They reported that “the troops are shooting civilians, the South Korean police are awful, they’re opening up pits and putting hundreds of people in them. This is all true.” Within six months, though, U.S. reporters were muzzled by censors, meaning, “you can’t say anything bad about our South Korean ally. Even if you see them blowing an old lady’s head apart, you can’t say that.” Even though his writings on Korea years after the war ended were not censored, New York Times reporter David Halberstam wrote a book on the Korean War (The Coldest Winter”) in which “he doesn’t mention the bombing of the North (and) mentions the three-year U.S. occupation of South Korea in one sentence, without giving it any significance,” Cumings said. Besides rape, the Pentagon was firebombing North Korean cities more intensively than any of those it firebombed during World War II. Where it was typical for U.S. bombing to destroy between 40 and 50 percent of a city in that war, the destruction rate in North Korea was much higher: Shin Eui Ju, on the Chinese border, 95 percent destroyed; Pyongyang, 85 percent; and Hamhung, an industrial city, 80 percent.”By the end of 1951, there weren’t many bombing targets left in North Korea.”

    Cumings believed that Douglas MacArthur, the General who commanded U.S. forces in Korea was prejudiced against Asians and badly underestimated their fighting capabilities. On the day the North Koreans invaded the South in force on June 25, 1950, MacArthur boasted, according to Cumings, “’I can beat these guys with one hand tied behind my back’ and within a week he wants a bunch of divisions, and within a month he’s got almost all of the trained American combat forces in the world either in Korea or on their way to Korea.” MacArthur’s slight of the fighting trim of North Korean units was shared by other high American officials. “(John Foster) Dulles, (then U.S. delegate to the United Nations) even says things like, ‘They must put dope into these guys (because) I don’t know how they can fight so fanatically.’” Cumings goes on to explain, the North Korean soldiers “had three or four years of fighting in the Chinese Civil War (for the Communists), so they were crack troops, and our intelligence knew about these people but completely underestimated them, and a lot of Americans got killed because they underestimated them.” Again, when the CIA had warned MacArthur that 200,000 Chinese troops were crossing the border into North Korea, MacArthur said, “I’ll take care of it, don’t worry about it, Chinamen can’t fight.” However, the Chinese routed U.S. forces, clearing them out of Korea in two weeks. “Sometimes I wonder why the world isn’t worse off than it is,” the historian reflected, “because people make such unbelievably stupid decisions that will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people (based) on stupid biases.”

    The U.S. use of air power to inflict widespread devastation had a profound impact on future North Korean military practice. To escape the rain of death the North Korean military—starting at the time of the Korean War—built 15,000 underground facilities, putting whole factories, dormitories, and even airfields underground. “So you have jets flying into the side of mountains,” Cumings says, as well as 1 million men and women under arms in a nation of 24 million—so that one in every 24 people is in the military. The U.S. military believes the North Koreans have built their nuclear weapons facilities underground—plural, that is, as it is possible they have one or two backups if a facility is destroyed by an enemy attack. While the U.S. today is concerned that North Korea is developing the means to deliver a nuclear weapon, Cummings said the country “has been under nuclear threat since the Korean War. “Our war plans, for decades, called for using nuclear weapons very early in a new war. That’s one reason there hasn’t been a new war,” Cumings said. The armistice that terminated the peninsular war banned the introduction of new and different quality weapons into the region but the U.S. in violation of the pact inserted nuclear-tipped “Honest John” missiles into Korea in 1958. “They said, ‘Well, they’re (always) bringing in new MiGs and everything, so we can do this.’ But to go from conventional weapons to nuclear weapons essentially obliterated the article of the (armistice,) Cumings said. The U.S. has relied so heavily on nuclear deterrent in Korea that one retired general said it has reached a point where “the South Korean army doesn’t think it has to fight in a new war because we’re going to wipe out the North Koreans,” Cumings continued.

    The historian said the North Koreans detonated their first nuclear device in 2006—-of about one-half kiloton equivalent (compared to the 20-kiloton bomb that leveled Hiroshima). Three years later, they detonated a 4- to 5-ton kiloton range bomb that could “certainly blast the hell out of a major city.” While Cumings doubts the North Koreans have yet to miniaturize a bomb so that it can ride on one of their medium-range missiles, there is nothing stopping them from, say, putting such a device aboard a freighter and detonating it upon reaching its port of destination. Cummings noted the North Koreans are “very good at manufacturing missiles” and have medium-range missiles “that are among the best in the world outside of the American bailiwick.” These are sold to Iran and Pakistan and, if fired from Korea, could reach all of Japan and the U.S. base on Okinawa, as well as all of South Korea. Any new war on the Korean peninsula, the historian says, “would be an absolute catastrophe” even though the general consensus is that the North Koreans have been unable yet to miniaturize a nuclear warhead.

    Getting back to the Korean War, historian Cummings believes that all parties to the war bear some responsibility for its outbreak: “What they did was take an existing civil conflict that had been going on five years and take it to the level of a conventional war, and for that, they bear a lot of responsibility.” Both sides initiated pitched border battles from 1947 onward and the general in charge of the U.S. advisory group said “the South Koreans started more than half of these pitched battles along the 38th parallel border with North Korea between May and December of 1949,” Cumings discovered. “Hundreds of soldiers were dying on both sides and in August there nearly was a Korean War, a year before the one we know…(as the North Koreans pushed) down to the Ongjin Peninsula in the Yellow Sea south of the 38th Parallel” (but which is not contiguous to the rest of South Korea.)

    Both the North’s Kim Il-sung and the South’s Syngman Rhee wanted to fight all-out at the time but were restrained by their American and Soviet advisers, respectively. The following year, after his troops came back from China, Kim Il-sung stationed his crack Sixth Division just north of Seoul and when hostilities broke out captured the South Korean capital in just three days. “Our intelligence knew about these (troops) but…completely underestimated them,” Cumings said, “and a lot of Americans got killed because they underestimated them.” The South did not develop the kind of military that the North Koreans did, and this is one of the truly hidden aspects of the Korean War. …The North Koreans had tens of thousands (50,000)of fighters in the Chinese Civil War they sent across the border as early as Spring of 1947,” Cumings said. This gave the North Koreans a cadre of battle-tested fighters that routed the Seoul government’s troops.

    Because of the troops North Korea furnished the Chinese Communists, deep ties were forged between the two countries. “China was a kind of reliable rear area for training and for cementing a very close relationship,” Cumings said. “Our people in Washington (didn’t) begin to understand this….There (were) a lot of hard-liners in the Chinese military that really liked North Korea.” Nor did U.S. intelligence apparently take into account how repressive U.S. actions in South Korea might make its citizens unwilling to fight all-out for a U.S.-backed government run by strongman Rhee. American military officials in South Korea in the late Forties “were outlawing left-wing parties, knocking over left-wing people’s committees and things like this, for two years” on their own initiative, Cumings said. But the development of the containment doctrine and the start of the Cold War in 1947 put the official U.S. imprimatur on their ad hoc policies.

    The Massachusetts School of Law, producers of “Educational Forum,” is purposefully dedicated to providing a quality, affordable education to students from minority, low-income, and immigrant households who would otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain a legal education. Through its conferences, publications and broadcasts, the law school also provides vital information on important issues to the public. 

    Sherwood Ross formerly worked for major dailies and wire services. He is a media consultant to MSLAW. Reach him at [email protected]

    On March 14 Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council partner the United Arab Emirates deployed 1,000 troops, 500 security personnel and armored troop carriers across the 25-mile King Fahd Causeway to Bahrain to shore up their fellow monarchy after a month of protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty. The following day the Bahraini government declared a three-month state of emergency and authorized the military “to take necessary steps to restore national security.” On March 16 government security forces staged a violent crackdown against protesters in the nation’s capital with tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters, killing at least two people and injuring hundreds.

    Two weeks earlier Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that the Saudi government had sent an estimated thirty tanks to Bahrain.

    In the interim U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Bahrain on March 11 and 12 and met with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The first is Commander-in-Chief and the second Deputy Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defence Force. The Bahraini monarch underwent military training with the British Army at the now-defunct Mons Officer Cadet School and later attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1973.

    The Pentagon chief and former Central Intelligence Agency director was in the company of men who spoke his language.

    Gates commented approvingly of his hosts:

    “I am convinced they both are serious about real reform. I think that the concern now is that it’s important that they have somebody to talk to, and that the opposition be willing to sit down with the government and carry this process forward.” [1]

    He praised the king’s and prince’s “willingness to engage with the opposition,” lauding their efforts as “a model for the entire region” – the Middle East and North Africa. Bahrain lies directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran.

    The Defense Secretary confirmed that there had been “much talk of Iran” between him and his royal interlocutors and added: “One of the issues under discussion with respect to Libya, obviously, is a no-fly zone….If we are directed to impose a no-fly zone, we have the resources to do it.” [2]

    On March 7 the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – called for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan emoting: “We appeal to the international community, especially the Security Council, to meet its historical responsibility to protect this dear people.” A week after the above display of unconvincing solicitude, leading members of the organization sent troops to Bahrain to suppress protests against the hereditary autocracy.

    Last September the Financial Times reported that the U.S. had struck deals to provide four members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman – with $123 billion worth of arms in a dramatic move to confront Iran in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia accounts for over half the total, $67 billion for 84 F-15 jets, 70 Apache gunships, 72 Black Hawk helicopters, 36 light helicopters and thousands of laser-guided smart bombs, the largest weapons deal in U.S. history. Even before those transactions are finalized, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute documented last December that Washington accounted for 54 percent of arms sales to Persian Gulf states between 2005 and 2009 and France 21 percent.

    Gates flew home to Washington on March 12 from the Bahraini capital of Manama, ending a trip that started in Afghanistan five days before, after which he went to U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany where he officiated over the transfer of command from General William Ward to General Carter Ham, and to NATO Headquarters in Brussels where he engaged in two days of meetings with his 27 fellow Alliance defense chiefs and those of another 20 nations providing troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

    Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell stated of U.S. relations with allies in the Middle East region: “All of the…deep strategic interests we have with them remain the same as they were six months ago.” [3]

    That Saudi military forces entered Bahrain two days after Secretary Gates left would lead any sensible person to draw the conclusion that the Pentagon chief had discussed more than Iran and Libya with the kingdom’s top two government and defense officials. Though discussions on Iran would not have been unrelated to those concerning a U.S.-backed deployment of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council forces to Bahrain, as some 70-75 percent of Bahrain’s population is Shi’a Muslim by way of confessional background although the ruling family is Sunni.

    A Bahraini protester quoted by Reuters on March 15 commented on the Saudi-led military incursion this way: “It’s part of a regional plan and they’re fighting on our (land). If the Americans were men they would go and fight Iran directly but not in our country.”

    The U.S. Fifth Fleet, one of six used by Washington to patrol the world’s seas and oceans, is headquartered near Manama, where between 4,000-6,000 American military personnel are stationed. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, U.S. military partners but not hosts of American bases, Bahrain is vital to U.S. international military and energy strategy, and allowing a doctrinal affinity to in any manner augment Iran’s influence in its Persian Gulf neighbor is anathema to the White House, State Department and Pentagon.

    The Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility encompasses 2.5 million square miles of water, including the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as far south as Kenya. [4] Aircraft carriers, destroyers and other warships are assigned to it on a rotational basis and the fleet is the naval component of U.S. Central Command, sharing a commander and headquarters in Bahrain with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. Central Command’s purview stretches from Egypt in the west to Kazakhstan, bordering Russia and China, in the east.

    The Fifth Fleet has approximately 30,000 personnel stationed across the region.

    The geopolitical importance of Bahrain was demonstrated when the U.S.’s top military officer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, visited several nations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa last month: Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Kuwait, with a last-minute stop in Bahrain not listed on his itinerary.

    Mullen inspected the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the first major American military base on the African continent, now assigned to U.S. Africa Command.

    While in Saudi Arabia, he characterized Iran as “a country that continues to foment instability in the region and take advantage of every opportunity.”

    “There are always concerns in this region with Iran. Certainly the United States has them, as well as all the regional players. Certainly that was part of the discussion today [February 21] with the Saudis.” [5] A discussion that was held with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Deputy Interior Minister; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, commander of the National Guard; Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, Assistant Minister for Defense and Aviation; and Lieutenant General Husein Abdullah al-Qubail, Deputy Chief of the General Staff.

    Mullen was cited as saying the talks “focused largely on the tumult in Bahrain,” with him stating:

    “Obviously the Saudis, in particular – but everybody in the region – is watching what’s happening in Bahrain very closely.” [6]

    In Bahrain on February 25 he “reaffirmed our strong commitment to our military relationship with the Bahraini defense forces,” according to his spokesman. He also commended the Bahraini royal family “for the very measured way they have been handling the popular crisis here,” although several hundred protesters have now been killed and wounded, and praised the government for the “giant leaps” it has taken in recent years. [7] 

    Mullen visited the Marine Corps Forces Central Command [MARFORCENT] Forward element at the Naval Support Activity Bahrain base, home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet. The new Marine headquarters “stood up in November to bring Marine Corps Forces Central Command what its other sister services already have: a forward element within the 20-nation Centcom area of operations.”

    “Exactly how many Marines ultimately will join the element is classified, but…developments underway” are seen “as a sign of MARFORCENT’s long-term commitment to strengthening partnerships and protecting U.S. interests in the region.” [8]

    Ten days earlier North Atlantic Treaty Organization Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero addressed a conference in Qatar (immediately southeast of Bahrain), the fourth Ambassadorial Conference of NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, also attended by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Concerns expressed in Bisogniero’s keynote address were capsulized by a local newspaper as follows:

    “Gulf nations are crucial to world energy supplies and their security supplies are also important….Since 50 percent of world energy supplies transit through the Gulf region, it is Nato’s main concern to ensure these supplies.” [9]

    The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was created at the NATO summit in Turkey in 2004 to complement the upgrading of the Mediterranean Dialogue partnership with Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco to the level of the Partnership for Peace program that graduated twelve Eastern European candidates to full NATO membership from 1999-2009, an unprecedented seven at the Istanbul summit seven years ago, with new bilateral partnerships with Gulf Cooperation Council members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    In NATO’s words at the time: “NATO leaders decided to elevate the Alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue to a genuine partnership and to launch the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with selected countries in the broader region of the Middle East.” [10]

    Last month NATO’s second top civilian leader “welcomed Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partners Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, showing his interest in deepening energy security and cooperation in the Gulf region also with Oman and Saudi Arabia.” [11]

    In 2008 a NATO-Bahrain Public Diplomacy Conference was held in Manama. “The Conference brought together the Secretary General of NATO, the North Atlantic Council, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and NATO officials, with government representatives, academics and senior scholars from countries in the Gulf region invited in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.” [12]

    The groundwork has been laid for U.S. and allied military intervention in the Persian Gulf. [13]

    The day after Saudi and Emirati military forces arrived in Bahrain, several thousand protesters descended on the Saudi embassy to demonstrate their opposition to the intervention. As the Reuters news agency reported, “Bahrainis are concerned that their tiny island could become a proxy battleground for a wider stand-off between the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab countries, all U.S. allies, and Shi’ite-ruled Iran, a U.S. foe.”

    The Iranian Foreign Ministry referred to the foreign military deployment in Bahrain as “unacceptable” and the Bahraini king recalled his ambassador from Tehran in response.

    Two years ago Saudi Arabia engaged in its true first war, that against Houthi militias in northern Yemen. On December 14 of 2009 BBC News reported that 70 Yemeni civilians had been killed in a Saudi bombing raid on the village of Bani Maan. Houthi sources on the same day claimed that “US fighter jets have attacked Yemen’s Sa’ada Province” and “US fighter jets have launched 28 attacks on the northwestern province of Sa’ada.” [14]

    The U.S. is no less complicit in the Saudi military intervention currently underway in Bahrain. Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan stated the U.S. had been “informed” of but not “consulted” on the Saudi deployment, but his verbal sleight of hand was solely intended to cozen the uninformed and unwary given the recent visits to Bahrain by the head of the Pentagon and America’s top military commander, who decidedly were not there to discuss the weather.

    Notes

    1) U.S. Department of Defense, March 12, 2011
    2) Ibid
    3) Ibid
    4) Arabian Sea: Center Of West’s 21st Century War
       Stop NATO, October 25, 2010
       http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/arabian-sea-center-of-wests-21st-century-war
    5) U.S. Department of Defense, February 21, 2011
    6) Ibid
    7) Joint Chiefs of Staff, February 25, 2011
    8) Marine Forward Element Set Up to Help in Middle East
       U.S. Department of Defense, February 25, 2011
    9) The Peninsula, February 16, 2011
    10) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, June 29, 2004
        http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-DA0A4642-13E9063A/natolive/news_20811.htm?
    11) Ibid
    12) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, April 28, 2008
        http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2008/04-april/e0424a.html
    13) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
        Stop NATO, February 10, 2010
        http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/natos-role-in-the-military-encirclement-of-iran
    14) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
        Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
        http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/yemen-pentagons-war-on-the-arabian-peninsula

    Emergency Crews Battling Nuclear Disaster

    March 16th, 2011 by David Derbyshire

    ‘We’re not afraid to die’: Extraordinary courage of emergency crews battling nuclear disaster as they return to stricken power plant

    Workers battling nuclear meltdown briefly evacuated today after radiation levels increased

    French minister: ‘Let’s not beat about the bush, they’ve essentially lost control’

    Officials commandeer police water cannon to spray complex

    Attempts to dump water on reactors by helicopter fail

    Concern at radioactive steam leaking from reactor number three

    Two more previously stable reactors begin to heat up

    Japanese emergency teams say they are ‘not afraid to die’ as they face dangerous levels of radiation in the fight to stop catastrophe at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.

    The stricken power station was abandoned for hours today, as soaring radiation forced the emergency workers to flee for their lives and authorities were reduced to spraying reactors with police water cannons.

    But 180 workers this afternoon bravely headed back towards the plant to pump water onto the over-heating reactors.

    The employees had this been morning pulled back 500 yards from the complex as radiation levels became too dangerous.

    And in an extraordinary attack, the French government accused the Japanese of losing control of the situation and hiding the full scale of the disaster.

    Scroll down for video

    Damaged: This dramatic pictures shows for the first time the damage wreaked upon the Fukushima plant which was today shrouded in smoke and steam bellowing from the damaged third and fourth reactors

    ‘Out of control’: This dramatic pictures shows radioactive steam pouring from the Fukushima reactor number three  after it was damaged in an explosion

    the destruction and white smoke from reactor block 3 (3-L) and remains of reactor block number 4 (R), after both blocks suffered heavy damage following explosions. Destroyed: the four stricken reactors at Fukushima. Three were damaged in explosion while a fire broke out at the fourth

    Military helicopters made a failed attempt to drop water on the reactors from above, amid desperate efforts to cool nuclear fuel. The helicopter missions are said to have failed because radiation levels put the crews in danger. Police water cannons usually used in riot control were even requested to spray the site.

    The emergency teams had been pumping sea water into reactors using fire engines, but those efforts are thought to have stopped as the workers were pulled out. But Japanese officials said 180 workers were now back on the site.

    A source in contact with emergency teams told CBS they were ‘not afraid to die’ as they fight to stop a meltdown amid the dangerous levels of radiation.

     

    More…

    Fears of ‘an apocalypse’ were raised by European officials as radiation levels soared. In another attack, French Industry Minister Eric Besson said: ‘Let’s not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control (of the situation). That is our analysis, in any case, it’s not what they are saying.’

    In a sign of mounting panic, Cabinet Secretary Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has already warned that the long-range cooling efforts may not work.

    He said: ‘It’s not so simple that everything will be resolved by pouring in water. We are trying to avoid creating other problems.’

    Destroyed: Damage after the earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, is seen in this satellite image taken 9:35 am local time (0035 GMT)

    Destroyed: Damage after the earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, is seen in this satellite image taken 9:35 am local time (0035 GMT)

    A cloud of white smoke cam be seen rising from the nuclear power plant
    A cloud of white smoke cam be seen rising from the nuclear power plant

    Crisis: A cloud of white smoke  can be seen rising from the nuclear power plant today as workers battling to control the chaos were evacuated after soaring radiation levels

    Desperate measures: A Japanese military helicopter scoops water from the Pacific, which it later attempted to drop on overheating reactors

    Desperate measures: A Japanese military helicopter scoops water from the Pacific, which it later attempted to drop on overheating reactors

     Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

    Stricken: the diagram shows all six stricken reactors. Reactors one to four have been over-heating since the tsumani. But reactors five and six, on a separate part of the site today began heating up as well

    Nuclear experts said the solutions being proposed to quell radiation leaks at the complex were last-ditch efforts to stem what could well be remembered as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.   

    ‘This is a slow-moving nightmare,’ said Dr Thomas Neff, a physicist and uranium-industry analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

    The biggest concerns centre around the four over-heating reactors, and in particular radioactive steam pouring out of the plutonium-fuelled reactor number three which exploded on Monday.

    Plutonium is far more hazardous to health than uranium, which is used to power the other five reactors on the site.   

    There has been damage to four reactors at the Fukushima , three of which were hit by explosions and another caught fire.

    Reactor number four is the second highest concern after a nuclear fuel storage pond was exposed to the atmosphere after a fire.

    A fifth and six reactor, which were previously unharmed, were today being sprayed with water amid reports that they too were heating up.

    An official from the pant operator said today: ‘The situation at the No.4 reactor is not exactly a good situation but the No.3 reactor is a higher priority.’

    More than 140,000 residents within 19 miles of the plant have been ordered to stay indoors – in addition to the 180,000 already evacuated from the immediate area. Terrified families clogged roads as they tried to flee.

    And The French government urged its nationals living in Tokyo to leave the country or head to southern Japan due to the risk of radiation from an earthquake-crippled nuclear power plant to the north of the capital.

    The French embassy in Tokyo said in a statement that its advisory applied with immediate effect to those French nationals who were not obliged to remain in the city. It added that it had asked Air France to mobilise planes currently in Asia to evacuate French citizens, and two were already on their way.

    On Tuesday, a fire broke out in the reactor four’s fuel storage pond – an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool – causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere. TEPCO said a new blaze erupted last night because the initial fire had not been fully extinguished.

    WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE REACTORS AT FUKUSHIMA?

    Friday’s tsunami knocked out the cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear plant and emergency teams have been battling to stop a catastrophic meltdown since. There are a total of six reactor on the site, each of which has its own problems.

    Reactor one

    Was the first to explode on Saturday. Video showed  a massive blast at the reactor building, as engineers admitted the as they tried to release a build up of hydrogen gas to stop over heating.

    Reactor two

    Blew up early on Tuesday morning. It came after fuel rods were exposed on Monday, causing further overheating, as engineers struggled to pump sea water into the core.

    Reactor three

    The cause for most concern. Blew up on Monday and engineers have been struggling to keep the temperature down since. Radioactive steam is pouring from the destroyed reactor building.

    Reactor four

    Initially not a cause for concern because it was shut down when the tsunami struck. However a fire somehow broke out in the reactor on Tuesday morning. That damaged the outer wall of the reactor and exposed a pool where nuclear fuel rods are stored to the air.

    Reactor five and six

    Only became a concern last night. The two reactors are on a separate part of the site and were also shut down when the tsunami hit. Howvevr they began to heat up last night and emergency crews are now spraying the buildings with water.

    The turn of events caused European energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger to warn that Tokyo had almost lost control of events. ‘There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen,’ he told the European Parliament.

    But just before 4am this morning the Japanese government said that the fire which had raged for around seven hours had been brought under control.

    The Japanese government later ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear power complex today amid a surge in radiation. 

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers, who have been dousing the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant with seawater in a frantic effort to stabilise their temperatures, had no choice but to pull back from the most dangerous areas.

    ‘The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now,’ Mr Edano said, as smoke billowed above the crippled complex. ‘Because of the radiation risk we are on stand-by.’

    The alarm spread worldwide. In Europe, some 500 bone marrow transplant centres were put on standby to treat any victims from Japan. And in India, officials demanded that imported Japanese goods be screened for radiation contamination.

    The plant was yesterday rocked by a fire and two more explosions . One damaged the concrete and steel walls protecting reactor 2 – as concerns grew that the casing could split and potentially send out a cloud of dangerous radiation.

    Aftershocks continue to hit the country, and a 6.0 magnitude tremor struck in the Pacific just off Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, today, raising concerns that further damage would be caused to the already-weakened container walls of four reactors at the Fukushima plant.

    Hajimi Motujuku, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), said the outer housing of the containment vessel at the No 4 unit at the complex caught fire.

    The authority’s chief Andre-Claude Lacoste said: ‘It is very clear that we are at a level six. We are clearly in a catastrophe.’

    In desperation, Tokyo Electric Power, which is responsible  for the Fukushima plant, asked U.S. helicopters to drop water on to the building in an attempt to cool a reactor, as radiation levels are too high for people to approach it.

    Levels at the site peaked at a dangerous 400 millisieverts yesterday – four times the level that can trigger cancer. However, they had fallen again by the end of the day. Japan ordered a 30-mile no fly zone over the exclusion zone to stop the spread of radiation.

    Broadcasts on NHK television had an apocalyptic tone: ‘For those in the evacuation area, close your windows and doors. Switch off your air conditioners. If you are being evacuated, cover yourself as much as possible and wear a facemask. Stay calm.’

    Screening: A woman is checked with a Geiger counter at a public welfare centre in Hitachi City, Ibaraki

    Screening: A woman is checked with a Geiger counter at a public welfare centre in Hitachi City, Ibaraki

    Extreme measures: There are temporary radiation cleaning shelter, set up by across the affected area including Nihonmatsu city in Fukushima

    Extreme measures: There are temporary radiation cleaning shelter, set up by across the affected area including Nihonmatsu city in Fukushima

    A woman is scanned for radiation exposure at a temporary scanning center
    A woman holds her dog as they are scanned for radiation exposure

    Potentially exposed: Women, one holding her dog, are scanned for radiation at a temporary evacuation centre for residents living near the Fukushima plant

    Testing: Workers in protective white suits screen worried evacuees at a radiation contamination centre yesterday

    Testing: Workers in protective white suits screen worried evacuees at a radiation contamination centre yesterday

    Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan told residents: ‘The level seems very high, and there is still a very high risk of more radiation coming out.’

    Despite this, officials stressed that radiation levels were safe and called for calm.

    Panic spread to Tokyo, where radiation has risen to ten times the normal level. Shoppers stripped food and face-masks from shops and filled outbound trains.

    Potassium iodide pills, which deal with the consequences of radiation, were changing hands for £300, instead of a few pounds.

    The U.S. took new steps to protect its personnel from radiation by moving warships to safer waters.

    At the Yokoshuka Naval Base, 200 miles south of the plant, it told personnel and families to limit time outdoors and to close off ventilation systems ‘as much as practical’.

    Bustle: Passengers wait to leave at the Tokyo International Airport, some on any plane they can

    Bustle: Passengers wait to leave at the Tokyo International Airport, some on any plane they can


    Vehicles driving south out of Fukushima Prefecture, where a troubled nuclear power plant is located, make a traffic jam in Kitaibaraki, north of Tokyo

    Chaos: The Fukushima plant before the explosion, while right, hundreds of drivers desperate to flee the region pile on to the roads

    At risk: Evacuees from the 18-mile radius around the plant are screened for radiation exposure at a testing centre yesterday

    At risk: Evacuees from the 18-mile radius around the plant are screened for radiation exposure at a testing centre yesterday

    At least 17 Americans on helicopter missions have been exposed to the equivalent of around a month’s worth of background radiation.

    To make matters worse, a fresh earthquake hit Japan, registering 6.2 on the Richter Scale – and the death toll rose above 3,300, although it will inevitably climb further.

    The sense of crisis at the nuclear plant has been growing since Friday’s tsunami, caused by a massive earthquake, knocked out the cooling systems essential to prevent the plant’s uranium and plutonium fuel rods from overheating and melting. 

    Meanwhile, France’s Nuclear Safety Authority said the disaster now equated to a six on the seven-point international scale for nuclear accidents, ranking the crisis second only in gravity to Chernobyl in 1986.

    what is escaping from the reactor.jpg

    Fears of 'an apocalypse' were raised as radiation levels soared - and experts warned the crippled Fukushima plant had become a nuclear risk second only to the Chernobyl disaster

    exodus from a nuclear nightmare

    Three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors were working when the disaster struck.

    Then, on Saturday and Monday morning, fireballs rocked the site when hydrogen gas – released deliberately to ease pressure inside reactors 1 and 3 – ignited. On Monday night, a third hydrogen explosion hit reactor 2 and in the early hours of yesterday morning reactor 4 was rocked by an explosion damaging the roof.

    The blast at 2 demolished the building housing the reactor and damaged the 80-inch steel and concrete containment unit that protects the radioactive core.

    Damage to the reactor’s core, combined with a breach of the containment unit could be catastrophic.

    Japan’s nuclear safety agency said the blast may have hit the unit’s suppression chamber – a large doughnut shaped structure below the core. A crack would have allowed radioactive steam and particles to escape.

    Firms began evacuating staff from Tokyo. German companies such as BMW and Bosch said they would take foreign staff out of the country. Several German banks were doing the same.

    Austria said it would move its embassy out of the capital hundreds of miles to the south, to the city of Osaka.

    Meanwhile, German airline Lufthansa said its daily flights to Tokyo would instead fly to Osaka and Nagoya. Air China cancelled all flights to Tokyo from Beijing and Shanghai.

    India announced it would test imported products from Japan for radiation. Ports and airports were told to check food for signs of contamination.

    Exodus from a nuclear nightmare: Thousands flee as they question whether Japan’s government is telling them truth about reactors

    BY  RICHARD SHEARS

    Hundreds of vehicles sped out of the shadow of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant yesterday.

    Those inside the cars and trucks were fleeing for their lives, terrified about what might happen next and reluctant to believe anything their government was telling them.

    ‘We knew it was close by, but they told us over and over again that it was safe, safe, safe,’ said 70-year-old evacuee Fumiko Watanabe.

    ‘People are worried that we aren’t being told how dangerous this stuff is and what really happened.’

    Thousands of terrified residents emptied the shelves in last-minute panic-buying sprees. Many of the evacuees filled their pockets and bags with all the food they could carry as they piled into temporary shelters.

    Queues: Worried evacuees clutch vital supplies as they crowd a makeshift shelter in Fukushima yesterday as the nuclear meltdown spiralled out of control

    Queues: Worried evacuees clutch vital supplies as they crowd a makeshift shelter in Fukushima yesterday as the nuclear meltdown spiralled out of control

    Meanwhile scores of terrified residents began to flee Tokyo as the power plant threatened to send a cloud of radioactive dust across Japan.

    Even in Yamagata city itself, some 60 miles from the plant, residents were fearful of contamination.

    As smoke billowed from the nuclear facility, 56-year-old shopkeeper Takeo Obata said: ‘When the winds blow from the south-east you can smell the sea air.

    ‘So if we can smell the sea, don’t you think we will be able to smell that poisonous air? What are these people doing to us?’

    Empty: A young child wearing a mask walks past nearly empty shelves at a supermarket in the northwestern city of Akita as panic buying sweeps the country following the nuclear fall-out

    Empty: A young child wearing a mask walks past nearly empty shelves at a supermarket in the northwestern city of Akita as panic buying sweeps the country following the nuclear fall-out

    Health risks: Diagram of the human body with pointers detailing the effects of radiation

    Health risks: Diagram of the human body with pointers detailing the effects of radiation

    Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan was also furious. He was not told immediately about the latest explosion yesterday in one of the reactors, and is reported to have asked the plant’s operators, Tokyo Electric, ‘What the hell is going on?’

    Two 20ft holes have been blasted in the wall of reactor number four’s outer building after the last explosion.

    ‘I can’t believe them now. Not at all. We can see the damage to our houses, but radiation? We have no idea what is happening. I am so scared.’

    Others had only one objective – to escape the area around the plant. ‘I don’t care where I end up,’ said one driver as he joined a massive queue for petrol on the road to Tokyo. ‘I just want to get as far away from this place as I can.’

    As residents were evacuated from the area around the Fukushima plant, they were screened for radiation exposure.

    Experts in white and yellow protective suits passed geiger counters over thousands – even young babies – who had fled from their homes to camp in huge evacuation centres.

    Some declared that they could no longer believe what their government was telling them. ‘We want the truth,’ said Yoshiaki Kawata, a 64-year-old farmer who lives in a hillside village in neighbouring Yamagata prefecture.

    Officials of Tokyo Electric sat side by side in the capital and struggled to answer penetrating questions about the level of danger before government spokesman Yukio Edano admitted that dangerous levels of radioactive substances had been spilled into the atmosphere.

    Although the government said the real danger zone was within 19 miles of the plant, the radiation announcement caused panic among those within a radius of 100 miles.

    This was followed by the warning that anyone inside the radius had to stay indoors. Should they venture outside, they were ordered to shower and throw away their clothes when they returned.

    That order meant some 140,000 were trapped indoors in and around Fukushima. But many were already asking how long they will have to stay there.

    ‘I left my parents behind,’ said a man who was fleeing in his car with his wife. ‘They didn’t want to leave their home and now they can’t go whether they want to or not. The government needs to tell us how long this is going to last.’

    Authorities told residents not to use their own vehicles, said Koji Watanabe, a 60-year-old taxi driver.But with military vehicles focused on children, the elderly and the disabled, he got fed up waiting and decided to leave in his car.

    He and his wife, who has lung cancer, did not have enough fuel to travel far. Many petrol stations are closed, and those that are open have long queues.


     
     

    Kyodo News reports:

    A nuclear crisis at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant deepened Tuesday as fresh explosions occurred at the site and its operator said water in a pool storing spent nuclear fuel rods may be boiling, an ominous sign for the release of high-level radioactive materials from the fuel.

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the water level in the pool storing the spent fuel rods at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 4 reactor may have dropped, exposing the rods.

    The firm said it has not yet confirmed the current water level or water temperature in the pool and will try to pour water into the facility from Wednesday through holes that were created following an explosion earlier Tuesday in the walls of the building that houses the reactor.

    Unless the spent fuel rods are cooled down, they could be damaged and emit radioactive substances.

    ***

    The utility said it could not deny the possibility that the early morning explosion was caused by hydrogen generated by a chemical reaction involving the exposed spent nuclear fuel and vapor.

    But it’s not just reactor number 4. Kyodo News notes:

    Edano said water temperatures in the pools at the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors at the Fukushima plant have been rising as well.

    ***

    The agency said among the three, the situation is the severest at the No. 4 reactor because all the fuel rods are stored in the pool due to the change of the reactor’s shroud. At the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, up to one-third of the rods are being kept in the pools. The more fuel rods that are kept in a pool, the more radioactive substances could be emitted.

    To see why this is such an ominous development, let me provide some background.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    The Washington Post notes:

    At the 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi unit 1, where an explosion Saturday destroyed a building housing the reactor, the spent fuel pool, in accordance with General Electric’s design, is placed above the reactor. Tokyo Electric said it was trying to figure out how to maintain water levels in the pools, indicating that the normal safety systems there had failed, too. Failure to keep adequate water levels in a pool would lead to a catastrophic fire, said nuclear experts, some of whom think that unit 1’s pool may now be outside.

    “That would be like Chernobyl on steroids,” said Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Associates and a member of the public oversight panel for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is identical to the Fukushima Daiichi unit 1.

    People familiar with the plant said there are seven spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi, many of them densely packed.

    Gundersen said the unit 1 pool could have as much as 20 years of spent fuel rods, which are still radioactive.

    NPR provides the following graphic, showing the spent fuel pools at the top of the reactors:

    Alarm Over Spent Fuel Rods Threatens Chernobyl on Steroids   150311top2

    Please compare the location of the spent fuel pools (near the roofline) in the NPR graphic with the following photograph:

    In some of the reactors – especially those to the right of the photo – the area in which the spent fuel pools are located appears to be severely damaged.

    Nuclear expert Frank N. von Hippel explained on MSNBC that heat would release all radioactivity in the spent fuel rods, so that we could get a “worst case scenario” even if we never have a Chernobyl-like meltdown:

    (starting 10 minutes into video).

    The Christian Science Monitor writes:

    A particular feature of the 40-year old General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor model – such as the six reactors at the Fukushima site – is that each reactor has a separate spent-fuel pool. These sit near the top of each reactor and adjacent to it, so that cranes can remove spent fuel from the reactor and deposit it in a swimming-pool-like concrete structure near the top of the reactor vessel, inside each reactor building.

    If the hydrogen explosions damaged those pools – or systems needed to keep them cool – they could become a big problem. Keeping spent-fuel pools cool is critical and could potentially be an even more severe problem than a reactor meltdown, some experts say. If water drains out, the spent fuel could produce a fire that would release vast amounts of radioactivity, nuclear experts and anti-nuclear activists warn.

    “There should be much more attention paid to the spent-fuel pools,” says Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear engineer and president of the anti-nuclear power Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “If there’s a complete loss of containment [and thus the water inside], it can catch fire. There’s a huge amount of radioactivity inside – far more than is inside the reactors. The damaged reactors are less likely to spread the same vast amounts of radiation that Chernobyl did, but a spent-fuel pool fire could very well produce damage similar to or even greater than Chernobyl.”

    But another scientist said while the spent-fuel pools have capacity for high volumes of radioactive material, the amount of fuel currently in the spent-fuel pool might be less than widely believed, based on data he has seen showing only about as much spent fuel in the vulnerable pool as contained in the reactor.

    The Nation notes:

    If the spent rods start to burn, huge amounts of radioactive material would be released into the atmosphere and would disperse across the Northern Hemisphere.

    Unlike the reactors, spent fuel pools are not—repeat not—housed in any sort of hardened or sealed containment structures. Rather, the fuel rods are packed tightly together in pools of water that are often several stories above ground.

    “With damaged [fuel rod] pools, we are talking about things that were never considered a credible threat,” said Alvarez.

    Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action Kyoto, met Fukushima plant and government officials in August 2010. “At the plant they seemed to dismiss our concerns about spent fuel pools,” said Mioko Smith. “At the prefecture, they were very worried but had no plan for how to deal with it.”

    Remarkably, that is the norm—both in Japan and in the United States. Spent fuel pools at Fukushima are not equipped with backup water-circulation systems or backup generators for the water-circulation system they do have.

    The exact same design flaw is in place at Vermont Yankee, a nuclear plant of the same GE design as the Fukushima reactors. At Fukushima each reactor has between 60 and 83 tons of spent fuel rods stored next to them. Vermont Yankee has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.

    Nuclear safety activists in the United States have long known of these problems and have sought repeatedly to have them addressed. At least get backup generators for the pools, they implored. But at every turn the industry has pushed back, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has consistently ruled in favor of plant owners over local communities.

    After 9/11 the issue of spent fuel rods again had momentary traction. Numerous citizen groups petitioned and pressured the NRC for enhanced protections of the pools. But the NRC deemed “the possibility of a terrorist attack…speculative and simply too far removed from the natural or expected consequences of agency action.” So nothing was done—not even the provision of backup water-circulation systems or emergency power-generation systems.

    Similarly, Pro Publica points out:

    The plants of that design also store highly radioactive spent fuel in pools outside the protective containment structure that surrounds the reactor itself.

    Opponents of nuclear power have warned for years that if these pools drain, either by accident or terrorist attack, it could lead to a fire and a catastrophic release of radiation.

    ***

    The nuclear industry says fears about the storage pools at U.S. plants are overblown because the pools are protected and, even if fuel is exposed to the air, the chance of a fire is incredibly small. And with limited information being released about conditions at Fukushima, the status of spent fuel pools is uncertain.

    ***

    At Fukushima, these tanks are attached to the outside of the reactor’s containment structure. The pools are deep – typically the fuel lies under 25 feet of water. Although the concrete-and-steel containment is designed to trap radiation leaks, there is no such protection for pools outside.

    ***

    Many plants have been operating for 20 years and have tons of used fuel in cooling pools.

    The concern is that if the water in the pools ever drops too low, the zirconium cladding that holds the radioactive fuel pellets would begin to heat up and eventually burn. And if it did, the smoke from the fire could carry radiation away from the plant because the pool is outside the containment.

    “People should be very concerned because the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has acknowledged that spent fuel pools that are not located inside the containment have the potential to cause catastrophic accidents,” said Diane Curran, a lawyer who has represented environmental groups and governments in challenges to fuel storage plans.

    “These are not high-probability accidents,” Curran said, “but we have seen how low-probability accidents can happen.”

    After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress asked the National Academies to study the vulnerability of spent fuel to a terrorist attack.

    The resulting 2005 report, “Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage ,” concluded that “an attack which partially or completely drains a plant’s spent fuel pool might be capable of starting a high-temperature fire that could release large quantities of radioactive material into the environment.”

    The report found that the vulnerability of the spent fuel to fire depends on how old it is and how it is stored. As the fuel ages, it cools, so it becomes less susceptible to a fire.

    “The industry standard is that fuel that is older than five years can be dry-stored,” said Kevin Crowley, director of the nuclear and radiation board for the National Research Council, part of National Academies.

    The report recommended that the nuclear industry take steps to decrease the vulnerability of the storage pools to fire. Some of those steps are classified, Crowley said. But he said others, like making sure there were fire hoses or spray systems above the pools, were pretty simple.

    ***

    The nuclear industry disagreed with the national academy about the vulnerability of the spent fuel to a fire.

    Editorial
     
    BEIJING The 4th Media’s words of sincere condolences to all those yet fully-unknown number of victims in Japan’s worst disaster
     
    Peoples’ hearts and minds on the whole globe are torn apart in great dismay, shock and sorrow upon hearing the devastating news from Japan’s most disastrous tragedy by far, starting with first 9.0-magnitude earthquake, together with tsunami, and then even with daily horrifying tales of (yet fully-unknown or much too early to predict) imminent nuclear catastrophes in Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plants. 

    All of our hearts and minds, together with our sincere words of condolences and eulogy, should go first to the yet unknown number of victims in those crisis-stricken areas which are badly damaged (or even a whole city completely wiped out) by both natural (earthquake and tsunami) and/or human-made (nuclear) disasters.
     
    We wish all of them with full and speedy recovery from the heartbroken experiences either from the loss of loved ones, injured or even being contaminated by the exposure to the radioactive gases and/or particles from those failed thereby could-be catastrophic nuclear power plants.
     
    Also we do sincerely hope those nuclear crises, though human-made, in addition to the natural disasters in Japan could be contained and taken care of as fast and sufficient as enough, so that Japanese government, together with the genuine help of other countries who may have come forward with genuine supports and wishes, should be able to control the present disastrous situations as soon as possible.
     
    Serious lessons must be learnt from the past catastrophic incidents
     
    However, in the meantime, when this tragic and sorrowful saga finally comes to an end, most ordinary people of the world who seek to happily, peacefully and symbiotically cohabitate together with other humans on this universe believe the humanity must learn something very serious lessons this time from Japanese catastrophic experiences, particularly from the human-made tragedy.
     
    The lessons we the whole humanity must learn this time should be something radically different from the ones people said then we should learn something from both Three Mile Island accident (1979 in US) and Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986 in Ukrainian SSR, now Ukraine). Today’s another human-made nuclear disaster in Japan apparently shows the world must have not learnt anything serious from either history. 
     
    What we see today in our world instead with regard to the nuclear issue in general, accidental nuclear disaster and weapon system in particular seems very much identical with the problems we had then in 1970s and 80s. It’s apparent that there haven’t been any serious lessons learnt and/or appropriate preventive changes, measures, and remedies made. 
     
    Here is a distinctive example to show the world hasn’t learnt at all from the past’s human-made nuclear disasters. Tom Zeller, Jr. in his March 16 article at the New York Times argues nuclear powers’ national government regulators and nuclear businesses haven’t done enough to prevent those disasters from taking place again: “The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a [GE-made] “Mark 1” nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment.” Total 8 reactors in Fukushima nuclear power plants are made by General Electric (GE) in US.
     
    According to the New York Times’ Editorial on March 15, there are about 30 nuclear power plants in US alone (however, Zeller claims that number 23 instead 30). They are very much same or similar to the types of those GE-made power plants in Japan. It questions the very safety of those 30 plants in the States: “With the United States poised to expand nuclear power after decades of stagnation, it will be important to reassess safety standards. Some 30 American reactors have designs similar to the crippled reactors in Japan. Various reactors in this country are situated near geologic faults, in coastal areas reachable by tsunamis or in areas potentially vulnerable to flooding.”
     
    “Military Industrial Complex” (MIC): Born to be catastrophic
     
    The issue of human-made nuclear disaster is nothing new at all. It’s been that way all along since the manufacturing businesses (known otherwise as the infamous “military industrial complex”) of either nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons and, of course, all sorts of “weapons of mass destructions” have come into being in human history in the middle of last century. Since their introduction into global human affairs, as a matter of fact, born-to-be-catastrophic human-made tragedy has become human’s daily life. No matter whether we realize or not, it’s the deadly serious reality as we see it today in Japan.
     
    As former US president Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 Farewell Address, the whole humanity has become continuously captive by those “military industrial complexes” for their astronomical business profits. 
     
    Therefore, the overall nuclear issue the world is deeply concerned about today shouldn’t be limited to those accidental nuclear disasters only. There are even far more and deadly serious nuclear issue the world must look into. One of the worst examples must be former US president G. W. Bush’s infamous military doctrine of the “first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.” Since Bush era, as well-known, this aggressive, provocative and arrogant thereby catastrophic doctrine has become US government’s official policy.
     
    Two types of doomsday realities from human-made catastrophes
     
    Today humans live with two types of doomsday realities (not as theories anymore!) from those human-made catastrophes: One is with disastrous accidents such as failed Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and today’s Fukushima nuclear power plants; the other with strategic military attacks by the “first use of nuclear weapons,” specifically by USA. Needless to argue, both accidental failures in nuclear power plants and strategic use of nuclear weapons are fundamentally interconnected or intertwined with incalculable business profits of about a dozen numbers of globalized MICs, particularly those major five MICs in US.
     
    So, before too late to avoid those either or doomsday reality as we experience today from Japan, not only those could-be catastrophic radioactive materials at the hands of both most of the rich nations and global nuclear businesses, but also the nuclear weapons businesses should be equally the most urgent issues the world, together with all those supposed-to-be responsible international bodies such as IAEA, must tackle with.
     
    In addition to the yet fully-unknown number of nuclear weapons which could wipe out the entire planet several times at least, if not more than ten times, the world as a whole is now more than any other time in history gravely aware that, in very real sense, the nuclear power plants in their own daily midst they’ve been told “safe and secure” may not be wholly true. The internet-based information technology does help ordinary people find out more about than what government and/or business officials say in public. It seems the intentional cover-ups become more difficult to hide truth from being told anymore.
     
    Therefore, the New York Times’ March 15 Editorial warning was too soft or mild. It wasn’t serious enough at all! It’s most likely useless again. Last over a half century, there is no doubt the world has been dominated by the doctrine of “war is the best business.” Today is still “the business as usual.” I wonder if there will be any major and real changes made, even if someday the Japanese human-made tragedy may come to an end. Again, doubtlessly, the global weapons manufactures still run the world. This sort of mild warning from the New York Times could well end up as another lip-service before those omnipresent evermore powerful lobbies of the US-based global military industrial complex.
     


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    Another human-made disaster in Libya
     
    As they did to Iraq in 2003, this catastrophic behemoth like weapons manufactures (i.e., MICs), together with both American and Western oil businesses, are about to create another human-made disaster for another incalculable business profits through another military invasion. But this time their plan seems much more sophisticated, cunning and crafty than the past in its war preparation. So it’s much more deceptive than that of Iraq. But it’s still very much same in terms of its hypocritical nature!
     
    This time it’s Libya. However, as they did against Iraqi leader Hussein then, they’ve masterfully deceived literally the whole world again by “massive information war against Libyan leader Gaddafi. Prior to US/NATO’s military invasion, mainly in order to justify their military and economic agenda, they’ve poured out to the whole world much more vicious misinformation, disinformation and/or flat lies about Libyan situation!
     
    Why? Of course, it’s all again geared up to typical demonization campaign against Gaddafi, as US has done to Grenada’s Maurice Bishop, Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, DPRK’s (North Korea) Kim Jongil, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s entire collective leadership and so on, and so on. The US/NATO-made massive “information war” seemed very successful so far since it’s even already obtained UN Security Council’s sanctions against Libya.
     
    However, Obama administration hasn’t jumped onto the action yet. They look like as if they are concerned of further human casualties. They look even “indecisive,” according to several Israeli and other pro-US media outlets which have criticized president Obama’s so-called “inaction.” Again, this time, it looks somewhat different from its Iraqi invasion. They must have learnt something from the failed 2003 experience which was disastrous with regard to their PR campaign of the war. So, this time, they seem to spend more time to prepare their invasion. They seem to try more to cover up their real intent as best as they could with the “no-fly zone” card.
     
    US/NATO military invasion another human-made disaster like Iraq
     
    During both natural and human-made disasters in Japan when the whole world’s attentions are tied down by the impending nuclear catastrophe, one of those silent cover-ups went on with US-dominant Arab League’s March 14 call for the so-called “no-fly zone” over Libya. In order to deceive the world further by easily coalescing the US-ruling (therefore “sold-out” body like) Arab League to their side was a convenient pretext for the planned US/NATO military invasion against a sovereign nation.
     
    In his most recent article on Libya (“’Operation Libya’ and the Battle for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa”), Prof. Michel Chossudovsky charges US of its imperialist intent. He urges the world to understand the imperialist history of the US. He reminds the readers the “2000 Report of the Project of New American Century” entitled “Rebuilding Americas’ Defenses” which calls for the “implementation of a long war, a war of conquest.” He further argues “one of the main components of this military agenda is: To ‘fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars’”.
     
    For the ending of this rather long Editorial, I am going to introduce his last concluding remark together with a quotation he made from Lesley Clark, the former NATO commander in regard to US military agenda in the Middle East and the North African region:
     
    “Libya is targeted because it is one among several remaining countries outside America’s sphere of influence, which fail to conform to US demands. Libya is a country which has been selected as part of a military “road map” which consists of “multiple simultaneous theater wars.” In the words of former NATO Commander Chief General Clark:
     
    In the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan’ (Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars, p. 130).”
     
    Dr. Kiyul Chung is Editor-in-chief at the 4th Media and also Visiting Professor at Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication in Beijing, China.

    Related article by Prof. Chossudovsky: http://en.m4.cn/archives/5710.html
    Related sources on MICs: http://www.globalissues.org/article/74/the-arms-trade-is-big-business

    VIDEO: Japan on Nuclear Standby

    March 16th, 2011 by Global Research

    Slaughter in Bahrain

    March 16th, 2011 by Finian Cunningham

    Manama. They turned over the limp, lifeless body of the young man,. His back was riddled with bullet wounds. His skull flopped open revealing a bloody mess and a gaping hole where the brain used to be before it was blown out by a high-velocity weapon at point-blank range.

    A surgeon at Salmaniya Hospital in Manama said helplessly: “We could do nothing to save him.”

    Ahmed Farhan was just one of several Bahrainis killed yesterday by state forces that went on a murderous rampage in mainly Shia towns and villages deemed to be supportive of the popular uprising against the autocratic

    US-backed regime headed by King Hamad al-Khalifa.

    Another doctor said: “This is all-out war against civilians who are simply demanding democracy.”

    As hundreds of injured were ferried along the corridors of the hospital, there was an atmosphere of dread among medics that the Persian Gulf island regime had lost all restraint under international law.

    This was less than 24 hours after a large convoy of Saudi-led troops arrived in Bahrain, with the ostensible aim of “restoring stability”. At the same time, the Bahraini rulers declared: “The government will never tolerate any disruption of social peace.”

    Doctors said that the hospital at Salmaniya and elsewhere, such as Sitrah and Isa Town, have been labeled “disloyal” to the regime. They claimed that their personal details are being circulated on the internet and that they are now fearing for their lives.

    Yesterday’s violence came after a weekend of mayhem unleashed by state forces, which saw as many as 1,000 civilians injured by live fire, rubber bullets and, according to senior consultants, the deployment of illegal nerve poisons.

    “What we are seeing are crimes against humanity,” said a facial surgeon.

    Among the injured yesterday was the chief of ambulance services, Mohammed Abdul Rahim, who lay unconscious from wounds after he was reportedly attacked by state forces while trying to help victims. He was hauled out of his ambulance and severely beaten by plainclothes militia, backed up by Bahraini police forces and the army, according to several witnesses.

    Medics spoke of how three ambulances were hijacked by state forces.

    “They are preventing us from attending the wounded,” said one nurse. “This is what this government is doing to its people. Please, the international community must do something to help us.”

    There is little doubt among medics and anti-government protesters that the regime received clearance from political allies in Washington, London and the other Gulf states to step up its four-week old repression against the civilian population.

    “The US Fifth Fleet is only one kilometre from this hospital. One phone call and this slaughter would stop,” said Arif Rajab, a surgeon at Salmaniya.

    While the largely peaceful uprising has so far directed its enmity towards the royal family, there was, in the light of yesterday’s bloodshed, noticeable anger now against western governments for their support of the regime.

    Many Bahrainis pointed to the unscheduled visit last Saturday to Bahrain by US secretary of defence Robert Gates, who had closed meetings with the regime’s top brass. Days earlier, Britain’s top national security adviser

    Sir Peter Ricketts also had a private meeting with the Bahraini king.

    Middle East analyst Ralph Schoeneman said: “This level of coordination does not result in full-scale invasion 24 hours later by virtual puppet regimes without taking their cues and instruction from their military suppliers and political overseers. The Fifth Fleet is centred in Bahrain as is US and British military intelligence. It is a vital launching point for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, serving also as the staging ground for projection of western power against Iran.”

    Finian Cunningham is a Global Research Middle East Correespondent based in Manama

    The global boycott movement (BDS) and other related campaigns were aimed at exposing Israeli transgressions against the Palestinian people and galvanizing international solidarity. What is so uplifting to see now is how their achievements have far surpassed these initial aims. The campaigns have animated, accentuated and actually legitimized Palestinian civil society – a notion that long stood outside the official paradigm acceptable to Israel, and which had very little space within the restrictive realm of the Palestinian Authority (PA). 

    Now civil society has been incorporated into the overall political equation as a leading factor in the Palestinian struggle for rights and freedom. The society is also increasingly filling the vacuum created by the PA’s localization of the Palestinian struggle, and Israel’s constant attempt at downgrading any genuine alternative to the PA’s leadership. 

    The articulation of the rise of Palestinian civil society came loud and clear on July 09, 2005, when 171 Palestinian civil society organizations representing Palestinians living in the occupied territories, Israel, and the Diaspora called “upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

    They further stated: “We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”

    The statement won the approval of most Palestinians, and it inspired numerous representatives of civil society from around the world. Several tangible actions were taken, and the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions finally became a real strategy. In Israel too, a growing number of Israeli Jewish and Arab activists became committed to undermining the long held notion that the conflict was exclusively racial, ethnic or religious.

    Cleary the Israeli definitions of old are no longer appealing to an increasingly determined international civil society. In the last few years, for instance, we have seen the Gaza Freedom March, the heroism aboard the Mavi Marmara, and the tireless efforts of enumerable organizations and individuals working to bring Israeli war criminals to trial and to end the Gaza siege.

    The involvement of international civil society in aiding Palestine is actually as old as the conflict itself. However, it was not until the Second Intifada, or uprising, in 2000 that the involvement of international civil society became somewhat ‘institutionalized’ through clearly marked channels. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was a particularly meaningful example. The ISM seemed like a model of the International Brigades that went to defeat Fascism during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The ISM used a non-violent method of resistance, and its recruits of civil society activists were the very activists whose video footage, blogs, photographs, public presentations and even books helped to change international public opinion and challenge mainstream representations of the conflict that were so shamefully biased towards Israel.

    The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), despite past shortcomings, served as a unifying platform, centralizing Palestinians efforts and defying Israel’s diligent attempts at dismissing the very existence of a Palestinian collective. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir mirrored the attitude of many Zionist Israeli leaders when she stated: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”

    The significant role of the PLO, however, was overshadowed by that of the PA following Arafat’s signing of the Oslo accord in 1993. The PA had long served an extremely detrimental role in Palestine and the Palestinian people’s struggle. One of its worst long-term legacies was depriving the Palestinian people from the sense of national cohesion. Although it was Israel that largely supported and propped up this new non-representative Palestinian body, it was also this very party that decried that it had no peace partner, thus de-legitimizing its own creation.

    With the elected Palestinian government, Hamas, under physical siege in Gaza, and an even greater political siege regionally and internationally, the issue of representation is all the more pressing. Representation is a prerequisite for unifying and guiding the Palestinian people through future phases of their struggle.

    Still, it is heartening to note that such a political vacuum had its own benefits. It has revitalized civil society in Palestine, and, by extension, global civil society. This has helped to maintain a sense of centralization in Palestinian political discourse, one that is capable of juggling both national priorities and international solidarity.

    The concept of civil society is often used as a meeting point between other forces, including a healthy and fully functional state. In the Palestinian scenario, however, with the occupation, siege and regular assassinations and imprisonments of political leaders, such a state is missing. This reality has skewed the traditional balance, resulting in a political void engineered by Israel to de-legitimize Palestinian demands and rights. It is most impressive, to say the least, that representatives of Palestinian civil society have managed to step up and fill the void.

    This success would have never been possible without individuals from international civil society, including Rachel Corrie, the Turkish heroes aboard the Mavi Marmara, and the many Israeli activists and organizations who are currently being targeted by the rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigador Lieberman.

    Israel has shown alarm over the growing importance of civil society by reacting on many fronts. In Palestine, it has imprisoned Palestinian non-violent resisters. In Israel, it has cracked down on funds received by Israeli human rights groups. And internationally, it has pushed forward a media campaign of defamation.

    These Israeli efforts must be challenged on all fronts as well. Continuing to de-legitimize the illegal Israeli occupation can partly be achieved through supporting Palestinian civil society, including their call for boycott.

    Israel’s actions have not been limited to de-legitimizing Palestinian rights and dismissing their existence. Israel has also worked hard to defragment any sense of political or national cohesion, through many creative means, separation walls notwithstanding. Yet, it is the Israeli occupation that is now being de-legitimized, its own government that is being isolated, and its own country’s reputation that is constantly compromised. The power of civil society has indeed surpassed that of military hardware, archaic and exclusivist historical discourses, propaganda and political coercion.

    Indeed, Lieberman, the Israeli government and their supposedly powerful lobbies have every reason to be worried.

    Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of www.PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), available on Amazon.com.

    For a Better Global Civilization

    March 15th, 2011 by Prof Rodrigue Tremblay

    “Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), French psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and author, born in Martinique

    “One must have a strong mind and a soft heart… The world is full of people who have a dry heart and a weak mind.” Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), French philosopher

    The Seven Blunders of the World are:

    1. Wealth without work;

    2. Pleasure without conscience;

    3. Knowledge without character;

    4. Commerce without morality;

    5. Science without humanity;

    6. Worship without sacrifice;

    7. Politics without principle.”

    Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948),  Indian political leader, (“Mahatma”means “Great Soul”)

    This year in 2011, we will be 7 billion people [ http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/seven-billion/kunzig-text] sharing Planet Earth, most of the recent increase in world population originating in the developing world, as has been the case since 1950. We were 3 billion people in 1960 and we will be three times that in 2050, i.e. 9 billion people. That’s a lot of people who will have to learn how to live together, if they don’t want to perish together.

    To show you how big the number “7 billion” is, just consider that if you were today to begin counting 1, 2, 3, etc., (at the pace of one number a second), it would take you some 115 years to reach the number 7,000,000,000 (seven with nine zeros).

    I- Economists and Ethics and Morality in General

    Even though this may be a surprise to some, economists are very much concerned with the moral environment in which an efficient economy functions. That is because an environment of moral decay, corruption and savagery is not conducive to economic development, economic growth and economic progress in general. It is more a recipe for decadence, economic stagnation and poverty.

    It has often been observed through history that economic and financial crises and widespread poverty are accompanied by moral decadence, excessive greed, widespread ignorance and by private and public corruption, as well as an unhealthy widening of the gap between rich and poor.

    These are characteristics that can surely apply to our current environment. Unfortunately, I also think that things are getting progressively worse, not better, in the sense that I have the uneasy feeling that the world seems to be regressing morally, paradoxically at a time when economic development and education have reached a high level in many countries–and paradoxically also, at a time when religion in general seems to play a larger role in the politics of many countries, and that includes the United States–maybe above all, the United States.

    This is what persuaded me to write a book about ethics on a global scale that only superficially seems to be unrelated to the nitty-gritty of economics, finance and the quest for prosperity. In fact, I believe that good ethics is the foundation of good economics.

    I am very worried about the future prosperity of our nations, and I ask myself how we can avoid falling into moral regression and even to moral tribalism in this modern global age, and how on the contrary it could be possible to progress morally.

    In the past, many well known economists have framed economics in similar moral terms.

    For example, Adam Smith (1723-1790) wrote “A Theory of Moral Sentiments” some 20 years before he wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776.

    The same applies to David Hume, well known for his theory of the “Balance of Payments” (still relevant today) and who wrote “A Discourse about Natural Religion”, a book so critical of organized religion in his times that he arranged for the book to be published posthumously, for fear of severe reprisals.

    II- The sources of our morality

    Let me say a few words about the sources of our morality.

    We often talk about our judeo-christian civilization. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian ]

    In fact, this expression is incomplete, and somewhat inaccurate and misleading. It would be more accurate to refer to our greek-babylonian-egyptian-arab-judeo-christian civilization. This is because many of our core moral values come from far away times, some going back 4, 5 or 6,000 years, when most people were illiterate and only a few leaders and priests could read and write.

    I will mention rapidly only two important such sources from a historical point of view, which are both secular and religious in nature:

    1- Code of Hammurabi (around 1750 BC): 6th King of Babylon

    A few words about the Babylonian Hammurabi Code. It was the first written code of laws in human history. It is a Code inscribed in the Akkadian language, carved into stone, and which one can view today on display in the Louvre, in Paris. It can also be found on various clay tablets.

    It is a Code that students of law, and I would hope of theology, are prescribed to study.

    The Hammurabi Code was written by the 6th Babylonian king and it consists of 282 laws, rules and commandments, one of which is the well known Hebrew rule of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (lex talionis), which is much more Babylonian than Jewish, (it is rule # 200 in the Hammurabi Code), and it was written more than 500 years before Moses’ Commandments (around 3750 years ago vs. 3200 years ago for Moses).

    Some of today’s harsh Islamic rules can be found among the 282 rules of the Hammurabi Code. For instance, the Hammurabi code states that “If a son strikes his father, his hands shall be cut off.” (rule #195 of the Hammurabi Code).

    Or again (rule #205): “If the slave of a freed man strikes the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off.”

    This is probably where the Islamic idea of cutting off a thief’s hand comes from!

    So, we can say that Judaism and Islam took many of their harsh moral rules from the Babylonians.

    As for Christianity, and to a certain extent also Judaism, many of its moral rules seem to come directly from the Egyptians, especially from the Egyptian code in The Book of the Dead (Chap. 125), which was written on papyrus some 3,550 years ago.

    That’s where we find the inspiration for many of Moses’ Hebrew 10 Commandments, written about 300 years later. (Keep in mind that Moses spent 40 years in Egypt and that he surely learned the Egyptian commandments by heart).

    For example, we find these commandments in the Egyptian Code:

    “Thou shalt not kill.”—“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” —“Thou shalt not steal.” —“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”…etc.

    There is even a prayer in the Egyptian Book of the Dead that strangely reads like the Christian “Our Father”:

    PRAYER to the gods of the underworld:

    “Hail, gods, who dwell in the house of the Two Truths. —I know you and I know your names. —Let me not fall under your slaughter-knives. —And do not bring my wickedness to Osiris, the god you serve. —Let no evil come to me from you. —Declare me right and true in the presence of Osiris, because I have done what is right and true in Egypt. —I have not cursed a god. —I have not suffered evil through the king who ruled my day.”

    Our moral rules are very ancient and they come from many sources, both secular and religious. Indeed, in ancient times, political leaders liked to dress as religious leaders because this gave them more legitimacy. But such rules were also designed for a social, political and economic environment that was quite different from the one in which we live today.

    III- EMPATHY, TOLERANCE and SHARING

    If we now concentrate on the present and the future, we may ask ourselves how we can go further than what these ancient moral codes dating from 3,000 or 4,000 years ago have taught us.

    Since many of our problems did not exist 3,000 or 4,000 years ago, it would seem logical that we should design our moral rules in a more modern way.

    Personally, I am very concerned about how civility and morality can help us to progress as human beings in a changing environment and, I believe, a more demanding environment today—but more realistically, in the coming decades and even centuries.

    This motivated me in “The Code for Global Ethics,” [http://www.amazon.com/Code-Global-Ethics-Humanist-Principles/dp/1616141727/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262398544&sr=1-1] to place a special emphasis on three interrelated moral imperatives that have always been sound moral values, but which I feel will become increasingly required for humanity to go forward and survive.

    And I refer to:

    – more human EMPATHY, – more interpersonal TOLERANCE, and – more interpersonal SHARING (altruism and generosity) as a foundation for a more harmonious, for a freer and for a more prosperous world. (In practical matters, if we think about it, both altruism and tolerance are really derived from our level of empathy toward others.)

    EMPATHY

    Let me quickly define empathy:

    To have empathy towards others is to have the capacity to feel for others by imagining ourselves to be in their place and to act accordingly.

    This is simple in theory, but difficult in practice.

    Indeed, I think that to have empathy for others and to see things from their perspective (not only our own) is the foundation of all human morality and the necessary ingredient for a more advanced global civilization.

    Our understanding of the human brain and of its functioning (and the new field of “neurotheology” is most useful in this) is that morality and empathy are buried deep in our genes and even in some precise parts of the brain, as a consequence of human evolution and the requirement to live in groups for survival. However, so were other, anti-social and egoistical traits such as savagery and cruelty, also part of the requirement for survival in the distant past when survival was more a daily challenge than today.

    And, it’s here that I would hope that the world will adopt more readily what I call the Empathy Principle for the present, but especially for the future.

    According to the empathy principle, one must aim at treating others as if one were in their place, and not necessarily expecting reciprocity as is the case in the traditional Golden rule [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule ] of morality that one finds in virtually all moral systems (“Do to others as you would have them do to you”).

    The empathy principle can thus be framed this way: “Do to others what you would wish to be done to you, if you were in their place.”

    That is why I say that empathy can be the solid foundation of a more civilized global society based on the solidarity of all human beings. It is the awareness that other people can suffer, be happy and flourish just as one does, and that one should treat others accordingly.

    Therefore, what I call the Super Golden Rule of morality goes further than the traditional Golden Rule based on implied reciprocity, i.e.:

    “Not only do to others as you would have them do to you”.

    But also,“do to others what you would wish to be done to you, if you were in their place.” The emphasis may seem subtle at first blush, but the consequences are considerable.

    In practice, this moral principle requires that we judge whether an act is moral or not as if we did not know in advance if it would apply to us or to others. This is sort of a blind test of human justice that John Rawls (1921–2002) is famous for (See: A Theory of Justice).

    What does that really mean in practice?

    It means, for example,

    —that racism is morally wrong because you would not want people to treat you badly if by chance of birth you were of another race;

    —that sexism is wrong because you would not want to be treated disrespectfully if by chance of birth you were of the opposite sex;

    —that torture is wrong because you would not want to be tortured if you became a prisoner at the mercy of prison guards;

    —that wars of aggression are wrong because you would not want to have your country invaded militarily by another simply because it had invested less in armaments than another, —that our collective system of mutual help must apply to all, not knowing in advance who will be advantaged or disadvantaged…. etc. etc. etc.

    It also means that the modern apologists of egocentrism, egoism and greed as the moral foundation of our society are wrong, morally wrong, (and I would add, economically wrong.)

    As an economist but also as a humanist, I believe that collectively, we must aim at creating the greatest good for the greatest number of people, not the maximizing of purely selfish personal financial objectives.

    Many economists, and I am one of them, believe along with British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) that the pursuit of money does not necessarily lead to personal happiness and to general well-being. Happiness is more than money and power.

    Indeed, many studies have shown that while it is true that well-being tends to rise with income, it also tends to level off after reaching a certain level. Surveys show, for example, that many people often prefer to earn less rather than be deprived of sleep time, or rather than commute long distances, or rather than living away from friends. This is a reflection of the notion that economics and money are not everything in making people happy and satisfied. There are other values in the moral scale of things, and that’s what I would like to emphasize.

    It is said that no man is an island, and this is even more true today than ever as our world becomes more complex and more globalized.

    As I said, this Super Golden Rule of human morality could indirectly encompass the idea of moral reciprocity, but it goes much further towards genuine altruism, compassion and human empathy. It truly defines our moral obligations to others in positive terms about what should be done—not in negative terms with the implied fear of retaliation for bad behavior (“Don’t do to others what you would not like to be done to you, because they may do it to you if you mistreat them”).

    I think that such an approach to morality is likely to impose itself in the future as human beings realize more and more that they are all living on the same small Planet, and that if they want to survive collectively (and not repeat the disastrous experience of the dinosaurs who became extinct some 65 million years ago, after roaming the Earth for close to 200 million years.)

    Actually, however, in terms of longevity, the dinosaurs were a great success. It should be humbling to consider that the first humans appeared less than two million years ago, and our more recent ancestor, the homo sapiens sapiens, [http://www.wsu.edu/gened/learn-modules/top_longfor/timeline/32_h_sapiens_sapiens.html] less than two hundred thousand years ago.

    But, as I see it, the world today faces a fundamental moral dilemma.

    —On the one hand, we live in an environment in which technology and scientific progress—as we would expect—have made survival somewhat easier for many populations.

    —On the other hand, economically, this is done increasingly in a competitive global context, and this could have potentially perverse effects on our tendency to feel empathy for others.

    Overall economic wealth is increasing at the same time as income and wealth inequalities are also sharply on the rise.

    – Let me open a parenthesis to say that, as a matter of fact, income and wealth inequalities are as bad today as they were just before the Great Depression of the 1930′s.

    (In the U.S., for example, the top 1% of the richest Americans now own 40% of the nation’s total wealth. These devastating statistics give an indication of why this is so: The average CEO in the U.S. made 42 times the average worker’s pay in 1980, 85 times in 1990 and 531 times in 2000, that is a 12-fold relative increase in just 20 years.)

    And the consequences are all there to be seen. Such a concentration of money in a few hands has tilted the American political process toward money and plutocracy as never before. It has reduced considerably the influence of the average citizen, and it has hurt democracy.

    All this may have catastrophic effects in the long run.

    IV- Troubling findings of A Recent Study

    And some moral tendencies are also worrisome.

    It is even possible that we have entered a period of moral regression, not of moral progress.

    For example, the current generation of college students in the United States has been found to show an empathy index that is about 40 per cent lower than 20 or 30 years ago.

    (See study by Ms. Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009).

    Compared to college students of the late 1970s, indeed, a recent study found that college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as:

    “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective”

    or

    “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”

    There seems to be a growing emphasis on the self, self-centered goals, and on personal greed and on personal success at any cost, accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of other people and of their needs.

    Moreover, it has been found that the biggest drop in empathy took place most recently, i.e. after the year 2000. In other words, the moral environment seems to have taken a turn for the worse at the beginning of the new century.

    Because of these findings, it has been said—maybe with some exaggeration—that the current “Me Generation” is one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history. One possible explanation could be that the current generation of college students grew up with a huge exposure to violent media and video games that tend to trivialize violence and to numb people to the pain of others.

    And there is also the influence of television, which is a cold and passive medium, because it tends to isolate people from each other and predisposes them to be victim of propaganda.

    The advent of economic globalization can also carry part of the blame. Global competition is more acute nowadays than before, global corporations [http://www.ehow.com/facts_5682516_global-corporation_.html] playing one country against another, one government against another, in their quest for higher profits.

    In such an economic environment of unfettered international and domestic competition, the nation-state [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation_state] has come to count less and less in economic decisions and as an instrument of social justice, so people may develop the feeling that their institutions, from schools to Congress to the Supreme Court to business, are failing them, are irresponsive to their interests, and are even turning against them. In the United States, the republic is less and less a nation-state and more and more an empire devoted to promote narrow corporate interests. (I even wrote a book about that and it is titled “The New American Empire”.) [ http://www.amazon.com/New-American-Empire-Rodrigue-Tremblay/dp/0741418878/ref=sr_11_1/104-8428100-2298348?ie=UTF8 ]

    People increasingly have the feeling that the world is being organized around powerful organizations and that individuals count less and less.

    My own deep feeling is that economic globalization [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_globalization ] may have gone too far, too fast, with the unfettered international movements of capital and corporations alike being added to the free trade of goods, thus breaking the balance between capital and labor in the economico-social system.

    Indeed, since labor is much less mobile internationally than capital and corporations, labor is now at a considerable disadvantage.

    Add to that the fact that capital owners and corporations increasingly resort to outright corruption and use their access to money to set the political agenda and, more often than not, to influence and even control politicians and governments (for the reasons I have outlined), and you can understand the despair that many people face in such a degrading moral environment.

    That could be another reason why young people tend to be more self-centered today than in the past. It is because the level of competition is higher today than in the past and because people feel somewhat abandoned by their institutions, even estranged from them, be they the business corporations, the governments or even families, which are disintegrating faster today than in the past.

    At the moral level, if American college undergraduates are losing the ability to empathize with other people, this could be bad news for the future, because they will be the leaders of tomorrow. What type of world are they announcing? A world of “dog eats dog”, or a world of cooperation and mutual respect? Can such a dangerous trend be reversed? One would certainly hope so.

    But wait: As if things are not bad enough, now we are told by paleontologists that the average human brain has been shrinking [http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=] over the last 20,000 years and that if things keep going in the same direction, the human brain may go back to the size it had in the age of homo erectus, some 500,000 years ago!

    There is the unpleasant possibility, according to the “idiocracy or dumbing-down theory” that the decline in the human brain size can be a harbinger of a future dumbed-down planet with idiocracy on the rise.

    It would seem that the brains that gave us the two world wars during the 20th century were not very advanced. Indeed, the 20th century was the most murderous and the most barbaric in the entire history of the human race.

    V- Is More and Better Moral Education our Way Out?

    What therefore about the future?

    Perhaps, our best hope could be to better educate our shrinking brains!!! We would perhaps be less intelligent but we could possibly become more moral.

    This is not necessarily counter-intuitive because one explanation for why humans and domesticated animals alike have a tendency to have smaller brains over time is because aggressiveness rises with brain size, and conversely, brain size seems to shrink as the need for aggressiveness declines.

    All is not lost: If we build a world where aggressiveness is less admissible or less necessary, we could adapt to having smaller brains while being simultaneously more moral individuals.

    One would think that we could achieve such a goal if we could transfer to the international scene the rule of law [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law] that most civilized countries have established within their borders.

    As a matter of fact, it is the rule of the jungle [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Law_and_the_Jungle] that has operated in the past that is still, to a large extent, the rule today in international relations.

    The central question is: Besides teaching science and general knowledge, can we also teach empathy, compassion and civility, especially to the young?

    Studies show that only 20 percent of the population has empathy and spontaneous feelings for others. But empathy can be learned, especially if it is taught at a young age.

    Of course, there is a small proportion of psychopaths and sociopaths in any society who do not feel any remorse when they hurt others. The least we can do for them is not place dangerous arms in their hands!!!

    VI- What about Religion in the Quest for a more Moral World?

    A question begs to be answered: Can religion, especially organized religions as human institutions, help us to survive in the future?

    My short answer: Maybe; maybe not. —It depends. It depends if our numerous organized religions (there are some 5000 of them if you include all the sects and sub-sects!) can adapt to the new global environment and to our new global problems.

    — If they feed division, exclusion and fanaticism, they may hasten our downfall.

    — If they adapt and open their moral systems to the new global concerns, they may contribute positively to the solution of our global problems. I think that the jury is still out on this one.

    At the individual level, I join economist Adam Smith who wrote more than 200 years ago (in the Theory of Moral Sentiments) that the truly virtuous person is not necessarily a religious person per se, but a person: –who does no harm to others;– who promotes the happiness of others through beneficence;– and, who follows his or her conscience, as a way to restrain his or her natural self-interest, rather than relying solely on an outside system of punishments and rewards.

    Smith summarized these ideas by saying:

    “To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature. ”

    TOLERANCE

    This brings me to the contentious issue of tolerance.

    This is an issue that is much debated these days because it involves peace between individuals and between nations.

    And here, I must open a parenthesis to make a clear distinction between the rule of tolerance, as I see it, toward other individuals that we should all adhere to, in an open and free society, and the tolerance of totalitarian principles or ideologies whose aims are to undermine and even destroy the very foundations of a free and open society.

    Tolerance and respect of the individual and of his or her choices means that a society must recognize the rights and freedom of the individual. It doesn’t mean, however, that an open, democratic, and just society has to accept officially the ideologies and beliefs of everyone, but rather that there must be equality of all citizens before the law.

    Even though humans must live in society to survive, this does not mean that personal freedom has to be sacrificed in favor of social uniformity and general conformity.

    Provided that society’s survival and functioning are not threatened in a substantial way, individuals, whether they belong to a minority or to a majority, have the fundamental right to develop their own thoughts, their own philosophies, their own opinions, their own beliefs, their own religions and their own approaches to life and to living.

    The first manifestation of tolerance is showing respect, empathy, and compassion for other people who happen to have different feelings, different philosophies, different interests, or different views of the world.

    As a general rule, therefore, we should show tolerance to other people and to their choices. This is what I called the third humanist rule in my book. [ http://www.amazon.com/Code-Global-Ethics-Humanist-Principles/dp/1616141727/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262398544&sr=1-1]

    SHARING

    In the book, I write a lot about sharing, both at the individual and collective levels, even at the international level.

    Altruism and a willingness to share with others appear to be innate, even in other primates. In fact, Frans de Waal has shown that great apes share most of our more natural moral traits, including reciprocal altruism, reward and punishment, and friendship and cooperativeness. We are not the only moral species on earth.

    Moreover, researchers, doctors, and patients say the act of giving and of helping others offers deep psychological and physical benefits. American scientists are finding that being big-hearted may trigger the brain’s pleasure centers. It would seem to be true that there is more pleasure in giving than in receiving!

    The brain responds to cooperative behavior by releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine, so that helping someone else improve—or even just watching an improvement—makes us, as empathetic beings, feel better.

    But there is more. It used to be said that “Nice guys finish last.” New research now shows however that generous people tend to live longer. New research thus may say: “Nice guys die last”.

    Indeed, it seems that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has been misinterpreted and branded as a selfish theory of “every man for himself.” In fact, Darwin thought just the contrary. He believed that humans have been successful as a species precisely because of their capacity for nurturing, for their basic altruistic and compassionate traits that allowed them to live in society.

    In fact, our human capacity to care and to cooperate has been wired into our brains and nervous systems though our long evolution. Our capacity to share with others made us stronger, and it has allowed us to survive and to live longer. We will need more of this trait in the future; certainly not less.

    And here we may have one additional reason why women live longer than men. It may be the case because they are more generous toward others and more caring!

    Resources, population growth and poverty

    My concern is not about the past, but about the future and how we are going to tackle and solve some fundamental human problems.

    How are 7 to 9 billion human beings going to manage to live together on a shrinking planet, without destroying each other and without destroying the Planet? That’s a central question that must be asked and that must be answered.

    Consider the real problem of overpopulation and of poverty in some parts of the world.

    We have to keep in mind that the phenomenon of fast population growth is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is less than 300 years old, only since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the middle of the 18th century, while the acceleration of population growth that we have observed during the last century is directly connected with the discovery of cheap fossil fuel, oil and gas, in the middle of the 19th century. This has allowed for mechanization and the use of cheap fertilizers in agriculture, and for the international trade in cheap food products.

    The end of the era of cheap fossil energy is upon us and potential replacements will be much more expensive in the future. This means that the cost of growing food and of transporting food products will increase, at a time that another essential resource in agriculture—I am referring to the supply of clean water—will also become scarcer. With food becoming more expensive in the coming decades, our view of unlimited population growth will also have to be modified, lest we enter of period of widespread famine, of wars of aggression for resources, of diseases and of fast population migrations.

    (This has already begun, since I am convinced that the current wars in the Middle East and the Islamic terrorism that it has fed are closely related to the control of the oil resources in that region.)

    It is my contention that the issue of overpopulation is going to become more acute, as we progress into the 21st century, and as the world will be facing a global food crisis [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2044719,00.html] caused by climate and economic factors, on top of a growing fossil fuel crisis. [http://solutions.synearth.net/the-fossil-fuel-depletion-crisis/]

    This is because, in many countries, the prevalence of widespread poverty is directly linked to overpopulation, be it in Africa, Haiti or in Bangladesh, for example. Overpopulation and the lack of access to education and to birth control methods are the principal factors driving poverty in those lands. In those countries, life expectancy is even declining while it is increasing elsewhere. This is a real mess and a real tragedy.

    In those parts of the world, I can see, as an economist, that the link between excessive population growth and widespread poverty is likely to become more acute, as the food crisis deepens, and as oil and gas become more expensive, as water and sanitation are even less available than today, not taking into account the devastating effect that the projected rise in sea levels can have on some populations as the polar ice caps melt.

    My sad observation, (and that’s why such a problem is connected to ethics and morality), is that in these same poor countries, the principal forces working against family planning, the spread of knowledge regarding birth control and population control are often the dominant religious establishments. The contrast between China, for example, and Africa is startling. China has faced squarely its population problem and has embarked upon a policy of family planning, industrialization and international trade and is well on its way to overcoming its problem of endemic poverty.

    No such thinking is evident in Africa, however, which has the fastest growing population in the world and which is also the most religious and superstitious continent in the world, a continent where the terrible disease of HIV/AIDS is most widespread and is at the epidemic level, especially in sub-Sahara Africa. Many countries are still relying on foreign aid to survive; some are constantly involved in tribal warfare, while the young feel that they don’t have any future, except maybe through emigration to Northern Europe or to North America.

    Today, Africa accounts for about 15 percent of the world population, but has close to 90 percent of all the people infected by HIV and deaths from AIDS. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS] Moreover, this terrible disease seems to be spreading faster in Africa than elsewhere. Indeed it is spreading as quickly as ever, because of a higher incidence there of other sexually transmitted infections and because of general poverty and lack of education. (See Emily Oster, Esquire, November 30, 2006 Three Things You Don’t Know About AIDS in Africa).

    With 15 percent of the world population, the proportion of the world’s poor who live in Africa is also climbing and is expected to reach around 40 percent in 2020.

    For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty (the United Nations’ definition of absolute poverty is a family living on less than $1 a day) went up from 41 percent in 1981 to 46 percent in 2001. This translates to the number of people living in extreme poverty going from 231 million to 318 million, with women carrying a disproportionate proportion of that burden.

    —This is a huge social and economic problem, not only in Africa but also on the global stage.

    The historic fact that the rich continent of Africa has been colonized by Islamic armies and by Christian armies, plus the fact that in many places people still rely on tribal cultures, has created a legacy of retrograde intellectual and religious dependence on the outside world that is still lingering today.

    Indeed, as I say, contrast that with China, which has also been colonized by outside armies. In China, secular Confucius morality [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism] is still very strong and the outside colonizers’ morality never really took hold. That may explain why China has been able to build on its own strong national and cultural heritage to solve its problems, while Africa has not. China has even been able to overcome the damage that the foreign ideology of communism did after the Maoist cultural revolution [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution ] of 1966-76.

    Both Islam and Christianity, which are the dominant religions in Africa, have imposed on that continent their paranoiac obsession with sex and reproduction. They are opposed to family planning and to population control, while the education of women, especially by Muslims, is officially opposed and vigorously fought. These are backward and counterproductive ideas, even destructive ideas.

    Catholic Pope Benedict XVI recently opened, timidly, the door for the use of condoms, (probably in view of the AIDS disaster in Africa!) but this comes very late and is very limited, supposedly applying only to males (in the Pope’s words, “male prostitutes”), and not to women, and only as a way to slow down the spread of AIDS, and not as a tool for family planning.

    Well, Africa needs much more than that, and some religious leaders should recognize all the damage they have created with their antiquated ideas regarding sex and family planning. Africa especially needs a completely new approach to sexuality and family planning if it wants to extirpate itself from poverty and disease, and this requires educating and empowering women, a move that many religious leaders fight vehemently.

    It must be admitted that the old judeo-christian religious texts are not very useful solving the problem of overpopulation. In the Bible, the Old Testament orders humans (in Genesis 1:27-28) “to …be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” This would seem to make it a virtue to overpopulate, just the reverse of what many parts of the world will need in the future.

    In the New Testament, there are clear admonitions against establishing family life on a firm footing. For instance, it is written (Luke 14:25-33) that the only way to salvation is to abandon one’s families, wives and children; and I quote:

    “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14-26).

    It would seem unfortunately that in Africa, but also elsewhere, many men take that commandment at heart and leave their families, leaving to illiterate women the harsh task of raising large families. This is an impossible task. And, this is surely no way to build a strong social fabric.

    It is said that the Koran and the Bible cannot be amended because they are divinely inspired. I would say that it is high time that these many centuries-old texts be amended to reflect our new scientific knowledge and to be better adapted to the problems and solutions needed in today’s world—not to those prevailing in small agricultural and illiterate societies of many centuries ago.

    As to the future sources of economic development, I would add this:

    In the coming new context of a worldwide energy crisis, our societies may not have any other choice but to embrace a transition from our current hydrocarbon-based economies to even more advanced knowledge-based economies. Countries and societies that do not adopt knowledge-based policies risk being left behind to suffer.

    Well, no society should be left behind, and we should design a better way to share knowledge in a global way. This could be the best way to raise everybody’s standard of living, to bridge cultures and to promote peace. That is the reason we should place additional emphasis on education, especially the education of women worldwide. And for that we should reform existing international institutions, such as the United Nations, [http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/20/a_false_friend_in_the_white_house?sms_ss=gmail&at_xt=4d628177b28ecc2d,0] which is presently moribund, (due essentially to the actions of two countries: The United States and Israel) and create new ones that could function without the veto of imperial powers. I have an entire section in my book about this new challenge.

    Religious morality vs. humanist morality

    In the book, I don’t hesitate to criticize some ideas found in religious texts that appear to me to be contrary to logic, sound thinking and to the scientific breakthroughs that humanity has accomplished, especially over the last four centuries. Some of these ideas appear to be building fences between people rather than encouraging fraternity, cooperation and peace.

    I hope that my criticism does not offend too many people because my objective is purely positive and constructive. Let me mention a few ideas that I think need to be revisited and reformed:

    1-First, the idea that some people are “chosen” by some supernatural religious powers, while others are not, appears to me to be most anachronistic.

    Historically, this has given rise to what I called “in-group” morality, certain things being forbidden when done to other members of the group, but perfectly acceptable when done to “outsiders”. As I see it, the challenge in the future is to extend in-group morality to achieve between-group morality, in a truly global context.

    2- Another idea that is increasingly difficult to maintain in the face of new knowledge is that human beings are not only at the top of all living species, but that they happen to be the center and the masters of the Universe.

    This egocentric and anthropomorphic vision of things has unfortunately separated humans from the rest of the physical world and from other living species. By separating man from nature, indeed, the theory of “man-center-of-the-Universe” has caused us to lose respect for all other forms of life, and has prevented us from perceiving our true place in the Cosmos. We must not only have respect for our fellow human beings, but we must also have respect for all forms of life and for the environment.

    3- Another idea that needs to be revisited, since its introduction by St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century, is the subtle distinction that is often made between individual or private morality, and public or state morality. In the eyes of some, there would seem to be one morality for ordinary people in their daily lives, and another morality for leaders and government agents acting in their official capacity.

    This idea and the moral dichotomy that it introduces may be responsible more than any other for the fact that humanity is still saddled with murderous wars of aggression.

    4- Another idea that seems odd in our global age is the fiction of an eternal hell, not only to terrorize the faithful (especially children), but also to intimidate and demonize non-believers who refuse to submit to the dicta of specific religious authorities or dogmas. This would appear to condemn two-thirds of humankind to exclusion, and possibly, to persecutions, religious wars, and genocide. In 1995, the Anglican Church abolished the idea of “Hell”, and I would say “good riddance”!

    5- Last, but not least, is the curious philosophical stance regarding an assumed hypothetical separation between the human mind and the human body. Much of the negative religious morality concerning the human body comes from this erroneous distinction that has no scientific basis whatsoever and is a legacy of times when nobody understood how the human brain functions.

    VII- Democracy

    In view of what has happened in the Middle East recently, I must stress how the value of having honest and democratic governments is also a fundamental humanist value that we should all endorse and cherish. In my book, I have an entire chapter on this issue.

    Over the last thirty or so years, some 85 corrupt and repressive autocratic governments have been replaced around the world by more democratic governments. This is because democracy —civil society secular democracy, coming from the will of the people —is not only a fundamental human right; it is contagious, and given a chance, is the political regime that people around the world wish to have.

    As President Abraham Lincoln framed it, it is a form of government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is based on the concept of the equality and dignity of all human beings and on the fundamental humanist principle of equal rights among all human beings.

    VIII- Conclusions

    Albert Einstein (1879-1955) once said “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” —I certainly agree. I would add that we should all hope that human beings, who, of all of the species that have ever existed on the Planet Earth, have evolved into a relatively high stage of intelligence and of conscience, would be intelligent enough to bring this evolution to a higher level of global morality.

    I am not completely sure, but there are clear signs that justify our optimism.

    Indeed, either we stand at the threshold of a major moral regression in the world with increasing conflicts and increasing disregard for international law and global responsibility. Or rather, more optimistically, I hope, we stand at the threshold of a new global morality—a new Global ethics, that will establish in theory and in practice the basic principles of dignity and equality for all human beings.

    This means:

    –increased tolerance of others;

    –more voluntary sharing with others;

    –less domination and more beneficial cooperation;

    –more respect for our environment and for our Planet;

    –fewer wars and waste of resources on destructive armaments;

    –more democracy and citizen participation not only in public affairs, but also in economic affairs;

    –and, above all, more education for all and especially for the children of this world.

    To reach that new level of global ethics, we may need nothing less than a moral revolution in our thinking, a new moral norm, a global moral revolution, to fit the modern problems we are facing today and in the future. Such a moral revolution may even be needed for our own biological survival as a species.

    In general terms, let me say that I firmly believe that we should adopt the simple but somewhat revolutionary idea that we are living on the same small planet and that we should attempt to survive on this planet as members of the same human race.

    —This is my most cherished hope.

    * Notes for a conference by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, Emeritus professor, University of Montreal, Unitarian Universalist 2011 Winter lecture Series, Naples, Fl., USA, March 16, 2011

    Author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, [ http://www.amazon.com/Code-Global-Ethics-Humanist-Principles/dp/1616141727/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262398544&sr=1-1 ]

    Please visit the book site at:

    www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/  

    VIDEO: Resolution Proposed to End Illegal Afghan War

    March 15th, 2011 by Dennis Kucinich

    Labor Protests Spread Throughout the United States

    March 15th, 2011 by Global Research

     Madison, March 14 (RHC)– Labor protests are continuing across the United States.

    In South Carolina, thousands of teachers, religious leaders and state workers gathered at the capitol building on Sunday in opposition to cuts targeted at education, healthcare and other state services.
    In Austin, Texas, more than 10,000 protesters swarmed the grounds of the capitol Saturday to denounce Gov. Rick Perry’s proposal to fire educators, increase class sizes and cut programs.

    Protesters in Maine filled the capitol building to take a stand against Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to strip $18 million from the state’s 

    Fund for a Healthy Maine.

    And concerned parents and citizens in Maryland’s Prince George’s  County gathered at a local school to protest budget cuts that could leave hundreds of low-income, magnet high school students without school buses.

    Madison, March 14 (RHC)– In the U.S. state of Wisconsin, more than 100,000 people filled the streets of Madison over the weekend in what has been described as the state’s largest protest ever.

    The massive rally was held one day after Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill to strip most workers of their right to collectively bargain.

    The AFL-CIO put the size of the crowd on Saturday at 185,000.

    Speakers at the rally included many of the 14 Democratic senators who had fled the state three weeks ago in an attempt to stall the legislation.

    News of a third explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant sent stocks plunging on the Nikkei exchange which dropped 1,015 points on the session.  After 2 days of battering, the stock index is off more than 1,600 points in its worst performance since Lehman Brothers failed in September 2008.

    Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ordered the evacuation of all people living within a 18 mile radius of the power station and warned homeowners to remain indoors to avoid contact with “elevated levels of radiation”.

    “Substantial amounts of radiation are leaking in the area,” Kan said in an emergency broadcast on television at 0200 GMT.

    Already, the disaster at Fukushima is the second biggest nuclear catastrophe on record, just behind Chernobyl, but reactor volatility suggests that the problem could persist for some time to come, perhaps months.

    According to CBS News:  “A fire at a fourth reactor in a quake-damaged nuclear plant sent radiation spewing into the atmosphere Tuesday. Earlier, a third explosion at the plant in four days damaged a critical steel containment structure around another reactor, as Japan’s nuclear radiation crisis escalates dramatically….

    Making matters worse, the wind over the radiation-leaking nuclear plant in northern Japan will blow inland from the northeast and later from the east on Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, according to Reuters. Harmful radiation can spread via wind and rain.

    At a shelter in Sendai, workers told CBS News that everyone must avoid Tuesday’s rain, as it carries nuclear radiation. Low-level radioactive wind from the nuclear reactor in Fukushima could reach Tokyo within 10 hours, based on current winds, the French embassy says. Radiation at up to 9 times the normal level was briefly detected in Kanagawa near Tokyo.” (“Japan nuke plant fire leads to spewing radiation”, CBS News)

    The magnitude of the crisis is hard to grasp. Another two reactors saw their cooling systems breakdown late Monday increasing the probability of a meltdown. So far, there have been 4 explosions and 3 fires at various reactors following the devastating 8.9 earthquake and tsunami. 


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

     Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with the Economy Ministry, issued this warning to people living in the vicinity of Fukushima:

    “Now we are talking about levels that can damage human health….Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight. Don’t turn on ventilators. Please hang your laundry indoors.”

    The radiation level in the capital, Tokyo, was recorded at 10 times normal on Tuesday evening, but the city government said there was no threat to human health.  The prevailing winds have since shifted sending the radioactive material out to the Pacific Ocean.

    An article in the New York Times suggests that a nuclear meltdown may be less dangerous that the spent fuel rods which are no longer submerged in water. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

     ”The pools, which sit on the top level of the reactor buildings and keep spent fuel submerged in water, have lost their cooling systems and the Japanese have been unable to take emergency steps because of the multiplying crises.

    The threat is that the hot fuel will boil away the cooling water and catch fire, spreading radioactive materials far and wide in dangerous clouds….

    The bad news is that if efforts to deal with the emergency fail, the results could be worse.

    The pools are a worry at the stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant because at least two of the three have lost their roofs in explosions, exposing the spent fuel pools to the atmosphere. By contrast, reactors have strong containment vessels that stand a better chance of bottling up radiation from a meltdown of the fuel in the reactor core.

    Were the spent fuel rods in the pools to catch fire, nuclear experts say, the high heat would loft the radiation in clouds that would spread the radioactivity.

    “It’s worse than a meltdown,” said David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists who worked as an instructor on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan.”  (“In Stricken Fuel-Cooling Pools, a Danger for the Longer Term”, New York Times)

    Finally, here’s a statement delivered via You Tube on Tuesday by Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists:

    “The situation is Japan is dire. It’s grave, and it doesn’t suit anyone’s purposes to downplay it. They are engaged in desperate measures to try to prevent the cores of three reactors from completely melting down and large radiological releases that could have a major health and environmental impact on Japan. If there is a large-scale radiological release, then within tens of kilometers, people would be at risk of acute radiation exposure, that is, exposures that are so high you would see immediate and potentially life-threatening effects. Beyond 30 to 40 kilometers downwind, that threat would be lessened, but the risk of radiation exposure would still increase the risk of getting cancer significantly….There will need to be additional safeguards if we plan to have safe nuclear power in this country.”

    Watch the related video on GRTV:  http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2011/03/nuclear-expert-situation-japan-dire 

    BAHRAIN: THERE WAS a defiant mood last night among Bahrain’s pro-democracy protesters who said they viewed the unprecedented intervention of between 2,000 and 6,000 Saudi-led troops as “an illegal occupation”.

    Numbers at the protest encampment at Pearl Square in the capital, Manama, swelled well beyond the usual 50,000 to 100,000 that have been gathering every night for the past three weeks calling for the overthrow of the United States-backed monarchy.

    The arrival yesterday of troops in convoys from Saudi Arabia came after a weekend of widespread chaos and violence by police and pro-government militias against largely peaceful protesters. “This is our right to demand democracy,” said Zainab, a young Bahraini woman working as a volunteer at the protest media centre. “This is an invasion of our country by a foreign army.”

    It was a sentiment echoed by the overwhelming number of demonstrators in the square last night.

    “We will not give up on our demands,” said one man, called Fardhan. “We will not be intimidated. If these Saudi troops come here, we will meet them face to face.”

    While maintaining a peaceful protest last night, there was a heightened sense of popular anger against the regime headed by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

    Given the Saudi government’s concerns over recent protests in its Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which shares many cultural ties with Bahrainis as well as a 25km (15.5 miles) causeway bridge, there appears to be an incentive for the rulers in Riyadh to “restore order” in Bahrain.

    The protest movement in Bahrain, which is calling for an elected government and sweeping social reforms, has grown in numbers and determination.

    An upsurge in repression by state forces over the weekend, which saw more than 1,000 civilians injured and at least one dead, has failed to dampen the protests. Claims that riot police deployed toxic nerve gas against civilians, substantiated by senior medical consultants, have added to disaffection with the rulers.

    There is a sense the ruling family is losing control. There have been calls by pro-government politicians and state-run media for the imposition of emergency laws and a curfew. Bahrain’s Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said on Sunday: “The right to security and stability transcends any other considerations.”

    The General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions has renewed strike action at main industries, including oil company Bapco and aluminium producer Alba.

    © 2011 The Irish Times

    The Return of Pan-Arabism Amidst Upheaval: An end to Balkanization?

    March 14th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

    Protests and revolts have swept across the whole of Arabdom, from the Atlantic coastline of Morocco to the shores of the petro-sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf. In this regard, U.S. and E.U. double-standards are being applied to these events. There is a selective focus and condemnation by the White House and the European Union at play in regards to which Arab protests and protest leaders they support.  

    Regardless of the direction of these revolts and protests and the reaction of outside players, a new dynamic is taking shape. Democracy has not yet emerged, what is beginning to emerge is a new wave of pan-Arabism. This re-invigorated pan-Arabism will prove a challenge to the ongoing efforts to further fragment and weaken the Arab World. 

    The Categories of Protest and Revolt in The Arab World

    In regards to the mass protests and popular revolts, today the states of the Arab World can be categorized into five groupings or categories. These categories are the following:

    Group 1 – Arab countries that are in a state of civil war;

    Group 2 – Arab countries that have populations that have revolted;

    Group 3 – Arab countries where the people are currently protesting and are on the verge of revolt;

    Group 4 – Arab countries where the groundwork for revolts are taking shape;

    Group 5 – Arab countries where there are no revolts.

    Each category will be discussed and summarized. It must be cautioned that these groupings are not static either and likely to evolve.

    The Typologies of Benefit

    Taking into account U.S., E.U., and Israeli foreign policy these protests and revolts can also categorized within two different typologies. The latter can be used to explain the reactions of the U.S., the E.U., and Tel Aviv and their respective mainstream media coverage of these events.

    The typologies are:

    (A) Arab countries where the protests and possible outcomes would be beneficial to the interests of Washington, Israel, and the European Union;

    (B) Arab countries where the protests and revolts go against the interests of Washington, Israel, and the European Union.

    It should, however, also be cautioned that the outcomes of these protests and revolts are unpredictable. The behaviour of Washington and Brussels suggest that they want to cash in on projected outcomes to reinforce their geo-political influence. Both the U.S. and the E.U. seek to”manage democratization” in the Arab World to thier benefit.

    The “agency of the Arab people,” namely the grassroots, which the U.S. and its allies underestimate, has a significant role to play in these events. It is this process of an unfolding mass movement that makes these revolts unpredictable.  Coupled with pan-Arabism, a potent force is arising.

    The Arab people ultimately constitute a major challenge to Washington and its cohorts.

    Unlike in Eastern Europe during the colour revolutions, the Arab regimes are supported by Washington. The Arab people are aware of U.S. and E.U. double-standards. Arabs know full well that the U.S. and its E.U. allies are not the vanguards of democracy and liberty.

    In regards to Israel, Tel Aviv sees instability and chaos in the Arab World as serving its interests. Israel is not cutting itself off from the events in Arabdom. The Israeli strategy, in seamless alignment with both the U.S. and the older British strategies in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region, has always been to weaken and divide the Arab states. Israel has supported balkanization in the MENA region wherever it can. The Yinon Plan is very much alive today in what can henceforth be called the “Yinon Approach.” The strategy is named after Oded Yinon, a Israeli foreign policy analyst who outlined the “Zionist strategy” for breaking up and balkanizing the Arab World. [1]  

    The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must (1) become an imperial regional power, and (2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israeli satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.

     

    Note:
    The following map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).

    Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, has most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles.


    Note: The following map was drawn by Holly Lindem for an article by Jeffery Goldberg. It was published in The Atlantic in January/February 2008. (Map Copyright: The Atlantic, 2008).

    The “Yinon Approach” in the Middle East and North Africa

    While there is a move for unity amongst the people of the Middle East and North Africa, there is also a counter-push seeking their division. Either directly or indirectly, the Yinon Approach has been operational amongst the Arabs and in their region. In the backdrop, it is also a force in the Arab World.

    According to the Yinon Plan, Iraq was the largest Arab threat to Tel Aviv. That threat was removed with the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Currently, Iraq is divided alongside Kurdish, Sunni Muslim Arab, and Shiite Muslim Arab lines. Political parties in Iraq are increasingly based on sectarian schemes. The power sharing arrangements in Baghdad increasingly resemble those in Beirut, Lebanon. Since 2003, the U.S. has actively pushed ahead with a soft form of balkanization in Iraq through federalization. Moreover, Israel has been a major supporter of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

    Along with its U.S. and Western European partners, Israel is working to divide Lebanon and destabilize Syria through the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). It can even be said that Tel Aviv has its own version of a Zionist lobby in Lebanon within the March 14 Alliance. It should come as no surprise that Bashar (Bachir/Bashir) Gemayal, an Israeli ally and the assassinated former president of Lebanon, wanted Lebanon to become a de-centralized federal state with a canton system modelled on Switzerland. Only in Lebanon the canton system would be based on ethno-religious and confessional lines, rather than on linguistic demarcations as in the Swiss confederation.

    Instead of uniting the Lebanese, such a system would further magnify the sectarian atmosphere in Lebanon and play into the hands of Washington and Tel Aviv.

    The Israelis have divided Palestine with the instigation of a Palestinian mini-civil war in the Gaza Strip. The Israelis even gleefully began to talk about a “three state solution” after the Hamas-Fatah split in 2007. In Turkey, the Alawis (Alavis in Turkish) are beginning to demand greater recognition by Ankara. In Egypt, there has been a campaign against the Coptic Christians with the objective of creating Muslim-Christian tensions. In Iraq too, Christians have been targeted by unknown forces. Sudan has been balkanized with the secession of South Sudan, which Israel heavily supported and armed. In Libya there is a foreign-supported push to manipulate tribal difference and divide the country along the lines of Eastern Libya and Western Libya. At the same time, the House of Saud has been encouraging a confessional divide between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims and between Arabs and Iranians.

    Israel, like the U.S. and the E.U., is working to take advantage of the upheavals in the Arab World. It has intensified its sporadic attacks on Gaza while the Arab World has been distracted with the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere. Yet, this Yinon Approach will increasingly be challenged by pan-Arabism. The cooperation between Syria, Turkey, and Iran to form a regional bloc and common market may also prove to defy the Yinon Approach. In this context, Tehran is also working to support the protests in the Arab World and to align Iran with them.

    Who Falls into What? Categorizing the Arab States

    Group 1

    Although the fighting in Libya is being exaggerated and embellished, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is the only Arab state that falls into the first category of an Arab state undergoing a state of civil war. Yemen may also fall into this group at some point and it can be argued that Yemen is even a part of it too, because of the fighting in 2010 between Yemenite government forces (with the help of the U.S., Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan) and Yemenite rebels.

    In Yemen and Libya, however, there is a difference that must be emphasised. It is in the interests of the U.S. and its allies to have President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power. The U.S. has no alternative to Saleh. In Libya, the U.S. is actively working to remove Colonel Qaddafi so that Washington and its allies can appropriate Libyan energy reserves and financial assets.

    The alternative in Tripoli to Qaddafi is possibly a divided leadership structure comprised of an alliance of former regime officials who defected and external groups supported by Washington, like the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. On the other hand, a Libya divided into several states or fiefdoms with prolonged fighting could also be a U.S. objective in Libya.

    Group 2

    Egypt and Tunisia fall into the second category. The mood of the people has changed in both Arab republics, but the political and economic status quo remains unchanged. U.S. and E.U. interests have remained unaffected and are intact.

    As mentioned earlier, the “agency of the Arab people,” something that the U.S. and its allies underestimate, does have a significant role to play. The continued protests in Tunisia and Egypt show the continuation of dissatisfaction, because popular demands were not met. The psyches of the Tunisian and Egyptian people have changed. Despite the current status quo and Washington’s aims, the outcomes of the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt will work against the interests of Washington, Brussels, and Tel Aviv in the end.

    Group 3

    The third grouping of Arab states includes Bahrain, Yemen (if it is not considered a part of the first group with Libya), and Oman. Earlier is could have been said that Iraq could also possibly not fall into this third category. Massive protests and riots have broken out across Iraq from Baghdad and Basra to Sulaymaniah. It can now be said that Iraq is a part of this category too. These respective Arab states could ignite with open revolt and therefore become re-classified into the second group of Arab countries.

    The protests in Bahrain, Yemen, Oman, and Iraq all work against the interests of Washington and the European Union. In Iraq the people are demanding that oil deals be cancelled. Both Washington and Brussels specifically support the status quo in the Arabian Peninsula. This is why they have mostly ignored the protests in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula or presented them in a different light than the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

    Group 4

    The fourth group includes the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank that is managed for Tel Aviv by Mahmoud Abbas and the corrupt Palestinian Authority. Protests have taken place in all these Arab states and the occupied West Bank at various levels. The groundwork for revolt in these states and the West Bank is being prepared by internet-based social media groups, dissidents, and opposition officials.

    The release of the Palestinian Papers by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Network has also heightened already rising tensions amongst the Palestinians. Palestinians are now pressuring Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government. Fatah is especially under a lot of pressure and scrutiny in the West Bank. Because of the mounting pressure, Mahmoud Abbas is now talking about political change as a means to pre-empt any revolt against him. If a revolt breaks out in the West Bank, the U.S. and Israel could work to position Mustafa Barghouti into the presidency of the Palestinian Authority. Despite their high fanfare in Washington and Brussels, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Hanan Ashrawi would be too unpopular. Mohammed Dahlan and other ranking Fatah members, except for Marwan Barghouti, would not be well received either.

    It is a matter of time before protests and revolt emerge in these places of Arabdom. Protest and popular revolt in these places would also be against the interests of the U.S., the E.U., and Israel. Algeria may prove to be the exception in the fourth group. Like Libya, Algeria also exercises a degree of autonomy in regards to the U.S. and the European Union.

    Group 5

    The fifth and last group of Arab states includes Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar and Syria could also be included in this group. In comparison to the other Arab states, both Qatar and Syria have been peaceful, although there is potential unrest and the possibility of protests in both Qatar and Syria.

    In the case of Qatar the agitation appears to be internal and aimed at the Emir of Qatar, Sheikha Mozah bint Naser Al-Missned, the autocratic political structure in Qatar, and Qatari ties to Israel. In the case of Damascus the agitation widely appears to be driven externally by Syrian expatriates. With the recent appointment of a new U.S. ambassador to Syria, Washington is also set on a path towards eventually instigating and supporting revolt in Syria against President Bashar Al-Assad. 

    Mauritania, Kuwait, and Sudan do not qualify for this group either, because protests have broken out in these states. In Kuwait protests have already taken place that could place it in the third grouping. One set of protests was launched by Kuwaiti Bedouins that demanded that they be recognized and given legal rights as Kuwaiti citizens. Additional protests have been against the Kuwaiti state structure and against the discrimination of Shiite Muslims.

    The Changing Winds in Iraq

    In Iraq, after months of negotiations with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Malaki, Ayad Allawi has refused to accept a position of power as the chair of the Iraqi National Council for Strategic Policy. The position of the head of the Iraqi National Council for Strategic Policy is meant to counter-balance the role of the prime minister of Iraq. Ayad Allawi announced that he would not take the position at a press conference in Najaf alongside Moqtada Al-Sadr on March 3, 2011.

    Whereas Allawi is known for being aligned to U.S. and British interests, Moqtada Al-Sadr is known for his opposition to the U.S. and Britain. At the press conference Allawi made an interesting, if not pragmatic, statement: “We are not seeking [state or government] positions, but looking for the interests of the people, the progress of Iraq and [the] stability [of Iraq.]” [2] In this context, Ayad Allawi can be seen as a weather vane or windsock in regards to the political situation and the mood of the people in Iraq. Revolt may inflame Iraq and Allawi may be positioning himself accordingly.

    Since the protests in Iraq are being discussed it should be pointed out that Iraq sits at the borders of the Iranic World and the Arab World, as well as the Turkic World to a much lesser degree. These three conceptual realms can also be compounded and distinguished as the Turko-Arabo-Iranic World. Getting to the point, Kurdish sensitivities must be addressed. The Iraqi protests, like Iraq itself, cannot simply be characterized as Arab in nature. While the protests are purely Iraqi, they are characterized as partially Arab and partially Kurdish.

    The Threat of Foreign Intervention in Lebanon

    A storm is gathering over Beirut. Lebanon could join the first grouping of Arab states with Libya. Although weaker, Saad Hariri and his March 14 Alliance are itching for confrontation with Hezbollah and its political allies in Lebanon. This itch is far more than mere politicking.

    Over the years the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance has worked with the U.S., the E.U., Saudi Arabia, Mubarak, Jordan, and even Israel to pave the way for foreign intervention in one form or another in Lebanon against the Lebanese Resistance. Hariri and the March 14 Alliance have also been very close allies to all the Arab dictators and absolute monarchs. The support that the March 14 Alliance receives from the U.S., Britain, France, and Saudi Arabia is not due to any self-styled democratic values that its members talk about, but due to its willingness to transform Lebanon into a colony.

    In 2006, Hariri and his allies covertly supported Israel in its war against Lebanon. When Lebanon was being attacked, they ordered the Lebanese military to stand-down in the face of Israeli aggression. After the Israeli defeat in 2006, they went on to import Fatah Al-Islam into Lebanon in the hopes of using it as an armed option against Hezbollah and its allies; they would later shamelessly try to blame the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon for the materialization of Fatah Al-Islam. They also tried to dismantle the vital communications network used by Hezbollah in 2008.

    Now, Hariri and his political allies loudly criticize the Lebanese Resistance with their renewed political acquisition about its weapons. This is ironic, because the March 14 Alliance themselves have been arming their own militias over the years. This was proven during the fighting of May 2008 when both sides brandished guns. The groups within the March 14 Alliance have also been the ones who used militias in the past exclusively for fighting their own Lebanese countrymen. They have a history of fighting other Lebanese and a disregard for democracy.

    A pause is in order to consider the reasons why Hariri and his crew have armed themselves. It has not been to defend Lebanon from the external threat of Israel, but they have been arming themselves for internal fighting in Lebanon. Hariri and the March 14 Alliance only talk about democracy, because they do not have enough force to impose themselves in Lebanon.

    Today, they are attempting to use the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) as a snare to internationally indict Hezbollah. Once an indictment is made at the international level, the U.S. and its allies could intervene on the pretext of international justice. Washington and Brussels could also be called upon for help in bringing Hezbollah to justice by Hariri and the March 14 Alliance. 

    Hariri did not foresee the plug being pulled by Hezbollah and its political allies on his government and his own impotence to regain power. This has been a crushing blow to the Hariri family. They have run out of cards and are working to keep the STL alive. As long as the STL remains, it leaves an open option for some form of foreign intervention for the U.S. and its E.U. cohorts into Lebanon.

    Increasingly, the language of Hariri is that of confrontation and sectarianism. Even without the STL, Hariri and the March 14 Alliance may yet ignite another civil war in Lebanon. They can also still play the sectarian card and Hezbollah and its political allies are well aware of this. This is why Najib Al-Mikati and Hezbollah are moving forward cautiously in an effort to dismantle the sectarian card. Through starting a civil war the Lebanese could risk inviting a U.S. and NATO intervention in Lebanon.

    Double-Standards Are at Play

    Washington and the E.U. have little regard for real democracy and freedom as is evident from their reaction to the outcome of the democratic elections in the occupied Palestinian Territories. In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian elections. The U.S., the E.U., and Israel immediately refused to recognize the Palestinian elections.

    Despite the fact that Fatah lost the elections, Washington and its allies also forced Hamas to allow Fatah to co-manage the Palestinian government. Democracy is only acceptable when it works in the interests of the U.S. and Brussels. Today, these powers have let Mahmoud Abbas run the occupied West Bank as their agent and as a quasi-dictator.

    In Sudan, Washington and Brussels have put undue pressure on Khartoum, while supporting  the balkanization of the country. Yet, they have said nothing about the continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

    Western Sahara is a case of outright occupation, which has been widely ignored. The Sahrawis or the Western Saharans have also faced attacks from Morocco for wanting independence. Even during the referendum in South Sudan the Sahrawis were attacked by Moroccan forces during their protests, but there was no widely publicized condemnation by the U.S. or Brussels. [3] No big Hollywood stars have taken up their cause either in major public campaigns.

    In Iraq major protests by Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds are underway, but they have been ignored by the European Union and the U.S. government. Amongst the demands of Iraqi protesters is a key one that Iraqi oil wealth be redistributed and under the control of the Iraqi people. In Bahrain blatant brutality was used against the Bahraini protesters, which were not just Shiite Muslims as unknowledgeable people and propagandists claim. Yet, the reaction of Washington and Brussels towards the Al-Khalifa family was diametrically different than their reaction towards Colonel Qaddafi in Libya.

    In summary, the U.S. and the E.U. continue to apply double-standards. Their policies towards the Arabs are riddled with hypocrisy. Their actions are based on their own interests. Even in the midst of the Egyptian protests, U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden refused to even refer to Mohammed Husni Mubarak as a dictator in what can only amount to a display of utter hypocrisy. [4]

      

    Pan-Arabism versus the Yinon Approach

    Tel Aviv, Washington, and Brussels all oppose Arab unity. Historically, they have worked to divide the Arabs. In the past, the British separated Kuwait and Iraq, Palestine and Jordan, and Egypt and Sudan from one another, while the French separated Algeria and Tunisia in the Maghreb and Lebanon and Syria in the Levant from one another. The Yinon Approach is a continuation of this project.

    U.S. policy is part of this continuum. The White House has worked with Israel and the House of Saud to divide and isolate the Palestinians through a Hamas-Fatah split. In Iraq the process of national estrangement has been a major endeavour for Washington and its allies. Sudan has been fractured and now a civil war is being fuelled in Libya. Arab League member Somalia has also been divided into Puntland, Somaliland, and South Somalia. South Somalia has also been divided to an even greater extent.

    The interests of the U.S. government, Brussels, and Israel are to keep the Arabs divided in separate “feeble states.” There is, however, a new dynamic that is emerging in the Arab World. This new dynamic emerging from the upheavals and protests potentially challenges the Yinon Approach, which is being applied against the Arab people.

    Pan-Arabism is a new dynamic, which constitutes a potent force. The trend of decades of divisions can eventually be reversed. Nor will the issue of Palestine be left in the hands of outside powers for much longer.

    The plurality of Arabdom was constructed on the basis of inclusiveness and multi-culturalism. The Arab identity is a very open and inclusive one that has a wide embrace. According to the Arab League’s 1946 definition or description:  “An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic speaking country, [and] who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic speaking peoples.” [5] This has brought different civilizations, ethnicities, creeds, traditions, and lands together and united them under one roof, from the pre-Arabized Levantine peoples to the pre-Arabized Egyptians, Nubians, and Berbers.

    Pan-Arabism gives a political will to this inclusive Arab identity and paves the way for a political project amongst the Arab peoples. Thus, regardless of the initial successes or failures of these revolts, the Arab march towards unity as a political and popular project is an eventual assurance. Nor can its tides be contained for long as a new geo-political and sociological reality begins to take shape for the Arab Nation.

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Reseach Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

    NOTES

    [1] The Yinon Plan is a strategic Israeli policy put forward by Oded Yinon that advocates that Israel act as an imperialist power and fracture the countries of the Middle East and North Africa into tiny and feeble states.
    [2] Alice Fordham, “Allawi backing away from the Iraqi government deal,” Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2011.
    [3] “Deadly clashes as Morocco breaks up Western Sahara camp,” British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), November 8, 2010.
    [4] Daniel Murphy, “Joe Biden says Egypt’s Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn’t step down…,” Christian Science Monitor, January 27, 2011.
    [5] William D. Wunderle, Through the Lens of Cultural Awareness: A Primer for US Armed Forces Deploying to Arab and Middle Eastern Countries (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006), p.25.

    Nuclear Power Madness

    March 14th, 2011 by Norman Solomon

    Like every other president since the 1940s, Barack Obama has promoted nuclear power. Now, with reactors melting down in Japan, the official stance is more disconnected from reality than ever.

    Political elites are still clinging to the oxymoron of “safe nuclear power.” It’s up to us – people around the world – to peacefully and insistently shut those plants down.

    There is no more techno-advanced country in the world than Japan. Nuclear power is not safe there, and it is not safe anywhere.

    As The New York Times reported on Monday, “most of the nuclear plants in the United States share some or all of the risk factors that played a role at Fukushima Daiichi: locations on tsunami-prone coastlines or near earthquake faults, aging plants and backup electrical systems that rely on diesel generators and batteries that could fail in extreme circumstances.”

    Nuclear power – from uranium mining to fuel fabrication to reactor operations to nuclear waste that will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years – is, in fact, a moral crime against future generations.

    But syrupy rhetoric has always marinated the nuclear age. From the outset – even as radioactive ashes were still hot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – top officials in Washington touted atomic energy as redemptive. The split atom, we were to believe, could be an elevating marvel.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    President Dwight Eisenhower pledged “to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma” by showing that “the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.”

    Even after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 – and now this catastrophe in Japan – the corporate theologians of nuclear faith have continued to bless their own divine projects.

    Thirty years ago, when I coordinated the National Citizens Hearings for Radiation Victims on the edge of Capitol Hill, we heard grim testimony from nuclear scientists, workers, downwinders, and many others whose lives had been forever ravaged by the split atom. Routine in the process was tag-team deception from government agencies and nuclear-invested companies.

    By 1980, generations had already suffered a vast array of terrible consequences – including cancer, leukemia and genetic injuries – from a nuclear fuel cycle shared by the “peaceful” and military atom. Today, we know a lot more about the abrupt and slow-moving horrors of the nuclear industry.

    And we keep learning, by the minute, as nuclear catastrophe goes exponential in Japan. But government leaders don’t seem to be learning much of anything.

    On Sunday, even while nuclear power reactors were melting down, the White House issued this statement: “The president believes that meeting our energy needs means relying on a diverse set of energy sources that includes renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the administration is committed to learning from them and ensuring that nuclear energy is produced safely and responsibly here in the U.S.”

    Yet another reflexive nuclear salute.

    When this year’s State of the Union address proclaimed a goal of “clean energy sources” for 80 percent of US electricity by 2035, Obama added: “Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.”

    Bipartisan for nuclear power? You betcha. On Sunday morning TV shows, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell voiced support for nuclear power, while Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer offered this convoluted ode to atomic flackery: “We are going to have to see what happens here – obviously still things are happening – but the bottom line is we do have to free ourselves of independence from foreign oil in the other half of the globe. Libya showed that. Prices are up, our economy is being hurt by it, or could be hurt by it. So I’m still willing to look at nuclear. As I’ve always said it has to be done safely and carefully.”

    Such behavior might just seem absurd or pathetic – if the consequences weren’t so grave.

    Nuclear power madness is so entrenched that mainline pundits and top elected officials rarely murmur dissent. Acquiescence is equated with prudent sagacity.

    In early 2010, President Obama announced federal loan guarantees – totaling more than $8 billion – to revive the construction of nuclear power plants in this country, where 110 nuclear power reactors are already in operation.

    “Investing in nuclear energy remains a necessary step,” he said. “What I hope is that, with this announcement, we’re underscoring both our seriousness in meeting the energy challenge and our willingness to look at this challenge, not as a partisan issue, but as a matter that’s far more important than politics because the choices we make will affect not just the next generation but many generations to come.”

    Promising to push for bigger loan guarantees to build more nuclear power plants, the president said: “This is only the beginning.”

    I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.

    I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.

    But what will Obama plead? The administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas – by TEPCO and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough. Here are the facts about TEPCO and the industry you haven’t heard on CNN:

    The failure of emergency systems at Japan’s nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.

    Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called “SQ” or “Seismic Qualification.” That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from al-Qaeda.

    The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from “failed” to “passed.”


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction, which will work with TEPCO to build the Texas plant. Lord help us.

    There’s more.

    Last night, I heard CNN reporters repeat the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors, implying that water unexpectedly got into the diesel generators that run the pumps.

    These safety backup systems are the “EDGs” in nuke-speak: Emergency Diesel Generators. That they didn’t work in an emergency is like a fire department telling us they couldn’t save a building because “it was on fire.”

    What dim bulbs designed this system? One of the reactors dancing with death at Fukushima Station 1 was built by Toshiba. Toshiba was also an architect of the emergency diesel system.

    Now be afraid. Obama’s $4 billion bailout in the making is called the South Texas Project. It’s been sold as a red-white-and-blue way to make power domestically with a reactor from Westinghouse, a great American brand. However, the reactor will be made substantially in Japan by the company that bought the US brand name, Westinghouse – Toshiba.

    I once had a Toshiba computer. I only had to send it in once for warranty work. However, it’s kind of hard to mail back a reactor with the warranty slip inside the box if the fuel rods are melted and sinking halfway to the earth’s core.

    TEPCO and Toshiba don’t know what my son learned in eighth grade science class: tsunamis follow Pacific Rim earthquakes. So, these companies are real stupid, eh? Maybe. More likely is that the diesels and related systems wouldn’t have worked on a fine, dry afternoon.

    Back in the day, when we checked the emergency backup diesels in America, a mind-blowing number flunked. At the New York nuclear plant, for example, the builders swore under oath that their three diesel engines were ready for an emergency. They’d been tested. The tests were faked; the diesels run for just a short time at low speed. When the diesels were put through a real test under emergency-like conditions, the crankshaft on the first one snapped in about an hour, then the second and third. We nicknamed the diesels, “Snap, Crackle and Pop.”

    The forces against independent journalism are growing. Help Truthout keep up the fight against ignorance and regression! Support us here.

    (Note: Moments after I wrote that sentence, word came that two of three diesels failed at the Tokai Station as well.)

    In the US, we supposedly fixed our diesels after much complaining by the industry. But in Japan, no one tells TEPCO to do anything the Emperor of Electricity doesn’t want to do.

    I get lots of confidential notes from nuclear industry insiders. One engineer, a big name in the field, is especially concerned that Obama waved the come-hither check to Toshiba and TEPCO to lure them to America. The US has a long history of whistleblowers willing to put themselves on the line to save the public. In our racketeering case in New York, the government only found out about the seismic test fraud because two courageous engineers, Gordon Dick and John Daly, gave our team the documentary evidence.

    In Japan, it’s simply not done. The culture does not allow the salary men, who work all their lives for one company, to drop the dime.

    Not that US law is a wondrous shield: both engineers in the New York case were fired and blacklisted by the industry. Nevertheless, the government (local, state, federal) brought civil racketeering charges against the builders. The jury didn’t buy the corporation’s excuses and, in the end, the plant was, thankfully, dismantled.

    Am I on some kind of xenophobic anti-Nippon crusade? No. In fact, I’m far more frightened by the American operators in the South Texas nuclear project, especially Shaw. Stone & Webster, now the Shaw nuclear division, was also the firm that conspired to fake the EDG tests in New York . (The company’s other exploits have been exposed by their former consultant, John Perkins, in his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”) If the planet wants to shiver, consider this: Toshiba and Shaw have recently signed a deal to become worldwide partners in the construction of nuclear stations.

    The other characters involved at the South Texas Plant that Obama is backing should also give you the willies. But as I’m in the middle of investigating the American partners, I’ll save that for another day.

    So, if we turned to America’s own nuclear contractors, would we be safe? Well, two of the melting Japanese reactors, including the one whose building blew sky high, were built by General Electric of the Good Old US of A.

    After Texas, you’re next. The Obama administration is planning a total of $56 billion in loans for nuclear reactors all over America.

    And now, the homicides:

    CNN is only interested in body counts, how many workers burnt by radiation, swept away or lost in the explosion. These plants are now releasing radioactive steam into the atmosphere. Be skeptical about the statements that the “levels are not dangerous.” These are the same people who said these meltdowns could never happen. Over years, not days, there may be a thousand people, two thousand, ten thousand who will suffer from cancers induced by this radiation.

    In my New York investigation, I had the unhappy job of totaling up post-meltdown “morbidity” rates for the county government. It would be irresponsible for me to estimate the number of cancer deaths that will occur from these releases without further information; but it is just plain criminal for the TEPCO shoguns to say that these releases are not dangerous.

    Indeed, the fact that residents near the Japanese nuclear plants were not issued iodine pills to keep at the ready shows TEPCO doesn’t care who lives and who dies, whether in Japan or the USA. The carcinogenic isotopes that are released at Fukushima are already floating to Seattle with effects we simply cannot measure.

    Heaven help us. Because Obama won’t.

     

    A Third Japanese Nuclear Reactor Melting Down

    March 14th, 2011 by Washington's Blog


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm  Click for details

    The Fukushima I and Fukushima 3 nuclear reactors have both previously experienced explosions, and are in some stage of meltdown.

    Today, Kyodo News reports:

    Fuel rods at the quake-hit Fukushima … No. 2 reactor were fully exposed at one point after its cooling functions failed, the plant operator said Monday, indicating the critical situation of the reactor’s core beginning to melt due to overheating.

    ***

    The utility firm said a hydrogen explosion at the nearby No. 3 reactor that occurred Monday morning may have caused a glitch in the cooling system of the No. 2 reactor.

    Similar cooling down efforts have been taken at the plant’s No. 1 and No. 3 reactors and explosions occurred at both reactors in the process, blowing away the roofs and walls of the buildings that house the reactors.

    It is feared that the No. 2 reactor will follow the same path. To prevent a possible hydrogen explosion at the No. 2 reactor, TEPCO said it will look into opening a hole in the wall of the building that houses the reactor to release hydrogen.

    And see this.

    There are problems at a total of 6 Japanese nuclear power plants.

    Libia: ¿Washington se prepara para una invasión con la OTAN?

    March 14th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

    ¿Trípoli está siendo empujada hacia una guerra civil para justificar la intervención estadounidense y de la OTAN en Libia, rica en petróleo?

    ¿Las conversaciones sobre sanciones son el preludio de una intervención como en Irak?

    Algo está podrido en la llamada “Jamahiriya” de Libia

    No hay duda de que el coronel Muammar Al-Gaddafi (Al-Gadafi) es un dictador. Ha sido dictador y así llamado “qaid” de Libia durante unos 42 años. Sin embargo, parece que las tensiones están encendiendo las llamas y la revuelta esta siendo avivada al interior de Libia. Aquello incluye anteriores declaraciones del Ministro del Relaciones Exteriores británico, William Hague respecto a que el coronel Gaddafi había huido de Libia a Venezuela. [1] Esta declaración sirvió para electrificar la revuelta contra Gadafi y su régimen en Libia.

    Aunque los tres tienen en común las dictaduras, la Libia de Gadafi es muy diferente al Túnez de Ben Alí o al Egipto de Mubarak. La dirigencia libia no es lisa y llanamente servil a Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea. A diferencia de los casos de Túnez y Egipto, la relación que existe entre Gadafi, Estados Unidos y la UE es un modus vivendi. En pocas palabras, Gadafi es un dictador árabe independiente y no un “dictador manejado” como Ben Ali y Mubarak.

    En Túnez y Egipto prevalece el status quo, la maquinaria militar y el neoliberalismo se mantienen intactos, lo que obra en favor de los intereses de los Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea. En Libia, sin embargo, alterar el orden establecido es un objetivo de Estados Unidos y la UE.

    Estados Unidos y la UE ahora tratarán de capitalizar en la revuelta contra Gadafi y su dictadura con la esperanza de obtener una posición mucho más fuerte que nunca en Libia. También están siendo introducidas armas en Libia desde las fronteras del sur para promover la rebelión. La desestabilización de Libia también tendría importantes implicaciones para África del Norte, África Occidental, y las reservas globales de energía.

      

    El Coronel Gadafi, un Breve Resumen

    El ascenso de Gadafi al poder comenzó cuando era un teniente libio dentro de un grupo de oficiales militares que llevaron a cabo un golpe de Estado. El golpe de 1969 fue contra la joven monarquía libia del rey Idris al-Sanusi. La monarquía Libia era vista como condescendiente a los intereses estadounidenses y europeos occidentales.

    A pesar de que carece de cualquier cargo oficial de Estado o gobierno, Gadafi ha nutrido y arraigado profundamente una cultura política de amiguismo, corrupción y privilegio en Libia desde el golpe de 1969. A esto se suma el telón de fondo del “culto a la personalidad” que también ha instaurado en Libia.

    Gadafi ha hecho todo lo posible para presentarse como un héroe para las masas, especialmente para los árabes y los africanos. Sus aventuras militares en Chad, están también vinculadas a dejar su huella en la historia con la creación de un Estado cliente, repartiéndose el Chad. El llamado “Libro Verde” de Gadafi ha sido interpretado con fuerza y venerado como una gran hazaña en el pensamiento y la filosofía política. Numerosos intelectuales se han visto obligados o sobornados a alabarlo.

    Con los años, el coronel Gadafi ha tratado de cultivar una figura romántica de sí mismo como hombre sencillo del pueblo. Esto incluye pretender vivir en una tienda de campaña. Él ha hecho todo para destacarse. Su reprimenda a dictadores árabes, como el Rey Abdullah de Arabia Saudita, en reuniones de la Liga Árabe han sido noticia y han sido bien acogidas por muchos árabes. Mientras que en las visitas de estado deliberadamente se rodea de un séquito de guardias del cuerpo femenino con la intención de conseguir favores de los jefes de turno. Además, también se ha presentado a sí mismo como imán o líder de los musulmanes y un hombre de Dios, dando conferencias sobre el Islam dentro y fuera de Libia.

    Libia está dirigida por un gobierno bajo los edictos de Gadafi. El miedo y el clientelismo han sido claves para mantener así llamado “orden” dentro de Libia entre funcionarios y ciudadanos. Libios y extranjeros han sido asesinados y desaparecidos durante más de cuatro décadas. El caso del libanés Musa Al-Sadr, fundador del Movimiento Amal, es uno de los más famosos de estos casos y siempre ha sido un obstáculo para las relaciones entre Líbano y Libia. Gadafi ha tenido un efecto muy negativo en la creación y acondicionamiento de una jerarquía completa de funcionarios corruptos en Trípoli. Cada uno vela por sus propios intereses a costa del pueblo libio.

    Fracciones y Tensiones dentro de la Jerarquía del Régimen de Gadfi

    Debido a la naturaleza del régimen de Gadafi en Trípoli, existen montones de tensiones internas en Libia y en la estructura del régimen mismo. Uno de estos conjuntos de tensiones se desarrolla entre Saif Al-Islam Gadafi, y el círculo de ministros de edad avanzada de su padre. Los ministros de Libia se dividen generalmente entre los que se reúnen alrededor de Saif Al-Islam y los que forman parte de la “vieja guardia”.

    Incluso hay tensiones entre Gadafi y sus hijos. En 1999, Mutassim Al-Gadafi trató de derrocar a su padre, mientras el coronel Gadafi estaba fuera de Libia. Mutassim Gadafi mantiene una cartera en el gabinete de Libia como consejero de seguridad nacional. También es famoso y conocido entre los libios por ser un playboy que ha pasado gran parte de su tiempo en Europa y en el extranjero. También está Khames Gadafi que dirige su propia milicia de matones, conocida como milicia Khames. Siempre ha sido considerado como el probable candidato a la sucesión también contra sus otros hermanos.

    Siempre ha habido temores en Libia sobre la cuestión de la sucesión del coronel Gadafi. Con los años, Gadafi ha purgado a fondo Libia de cualquier forma de oposición organizada que le impidiera a él o cualquier otra persona, fuera de su familia, acumular el poder suficiente para desafiar su autoridad.

    El Problema de la Lealtad y la Deserción en Libia

    En este punto, sin embargo, hay que preguntarse quién es la “oposición” en Libia. La oposición no es un cuerpo monolítico. El denominador común es la oposición al dominio de Gadafi y su familia. Hay que señalar que “las acciones de oposición o resistencia contra un opresor” y un “movimiento de oposición” son también dos cosas diferentes. En su mayor medida, la gente común y loa funcionarios corruptos libios, que albergan odio profundo hacia Gadafi y su familia, ahora están en el mismo campo, pero existen diferencias.

    Existe una forma auténtica de oposición, que no está organizada, y una forma sistemática de oposición, que puede ser dirigida externamente o por figuras dentro del mismo régimen libio. La auténtica oposición interna de la gente de Libia no está organizada y “las acciones de oposición” de la gente han sido espontáneas. Sin embargo, la oposición y la rebelión se han animado y le piden que abandone Libia a través de redes sociales, estaciones internacionales de noticias, y eventos en el resto del mundo árabe.[2]

    Los dirigentes de la oposición interna que están emergiendo en Libia emergen del propio régimen. Los funcionarios corruptos que se han rebelado contra Gadafi no son los campeones del pueblo. Estas figuras de oposición no se oponen a la tiranía; se oponen al dominio del coronel Gadafi y su familia. Aref Sharif y Al-Yunis son figuras del mismo régimen libio.

    Hay considerar también que algunos funcionarios libios que se han vuelto contra Gadafi lo hacen para salvarse ellos mismo, mientras otros en el futuro trabajarán para mantener o fortalecer sus posiciones. Abdel Moneim Al-Honi, el enviado de Libia a la Liga Árabe en El Cairo, puede considerarse un ejemplo. Al-Honi denunció a Gadafi, pero debe tenerse en cuenta que él fue uno de los miembros del grupo de oficiales libios que ejecutó el golpe de Estado en 1969 con Gadafi y que más tarde en 1975, el mismo trató de tomar el poder en un golpe de estado fallido. Después del fallido golpe de Estado, huiría de Libia y regresaría sólo en 1990 después de que Gadafi lo perdonara.

    Al-Honi no es el único diplomático libio que renunció. El embajador de Libia en la India también lo ha hecho. Existe la intención por parte de estos funcionarios de ser miembros de la estructura de poder en Libia después de la expulsión de Gadafi:

    Embajador de Libia a la India, Ali al-Essawi dijo a la BBC que renunciaba, oponiéndose a la violenta represión de su gobierno contra los manifestantes.

    El Sr. Al-Essawi fue informado de que podría ser Ministro en Trípoli y una figura importante en un gobierno alternativo, en caso de que el presidente libio Muammar Gadafi fuese derrocado.

    El segundo diplomático libio puesto en el cargo fue el Representante Permanente de Trípoli en la Liga Árabe, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, quien dijo en El Cairo que había dejado su trabajo para “unirse a la revolución” en su país.

    “He presentado mi renuncia en protesta contra los actos de represión y violencia contra los manifestantes, y me uno a las filas de la revolución,” dijo el Sr. Al-Honi. El Segundo Secretario Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, anunció su dimisión ee China, en una entrevista con Al-Jazeera, y pidió al Ejército que interviniera en el levantamiento. [3]

    Una vez más, estos funcionarios revolucionarios, como Al-Sharif y Yunis, están dentro del régimen. No son sólo los diplomáticos, son ex ministros. También existe la posibilidad de que este tipo de “figuras de la oposición” puedan tener o puedan hacer arreglos con las potencias extranjeras.

    Fuerzas Externas que Juegan en Libia

    Los gobiernos de los Estados Unidos, Gran Bretaña, Francia, Alemania e Italia, todos sabían muy bien que Gadafi era un déspota, pero esto no impidió que hicieran lucrativos negocios con Trípoli. Cuando los medios de comunicación cubren la violencia en Libia, también deben preguntarse, ¿de dónde provienen las armas utilizadas? Las ventas de armas que Estados Unidos y la UE han hecho a Libia deben ser examinadas minuciosamente. ¿Eso fue parte de sus programas de promoción de la democracia?

    Desde el acercamiento entre Estados Unidos y Libia, las fuerzas militares de ambos países se han acercado. Libia y Estados Unidos han realizado operaciones militares y desde el acercamiento Trípoli ha estado muy interesada en la compra de equipo militar estadounidense. [4] En 2009, un portavoz del Pentágono, el teniente coronel Hibner, afirmó mejor esta relación: “[Estados Unidos] examinará las solicitudes de Libia para equipos de defensa que permitirán a [Libia] desarrollar capacidades en áreas que sirven a nuestro mutuo interés [o intereses sincronizados de Estados Unidos y Libia].” [5] El calificador aquí son los intereses estadounidenses, lo que significa que el Pentágono sólo armaría a Libia sobre la base de los intereses estadounidenses.

    En lo que parece haber sucedido de la noche a la mañana, todo un nuevo arsenal de hardware militar estadounidense ha aparecido en Libia. Aviones F-16 de fabricación estadounidense, helicópteros Apache, y vehículos de tierra están siendo utilizados en el interior de Libia por Gadafi. [6]

    Esta es una revelación sorprendente, si se corroborase. No hay registros públicos sobre algunos de estos equipos militares estadounidenses en el arsenal de los militares libios. En cuanto a los F-16, los aviones de Libia son tradicionalmente Mirage de fabricación francesa y aviones MiG de fabricación rusa.

    Silvio Berlusconi y el gobierno italiano también han sido firmes defensores del régimen de Gadafi. Hay información saliendo de Libia respecto a que pilotos italianos también están siendo utilizados por la Fuerza Aérea Libia. [7] Los mercenarios de Chad, Sudán, Níger y Nigeria también están siendo utilizados. Esto se ha verificado a través de pruebas de vídeo saliendo de Libia. El régimen libio también está considerando la contratación de empresas de seguridad estadounidenses o europeas (mercenarios).

    La Política de Al Jazeera

    El gobierno libio ha cerrado las líneas de Internet y teléfonos y está en marcha una guerra de información. Aunque es una de las cadenas de noticias más profesionales en el mundo, thay que tener presente que Al Jazeera no es un actor neutral. Está subordinada al Emir de Qatar y al gobierno de Qatar, que también es una autocracia. Al escoger y seleccionar lo que se informe, la cobertura de Al Jazeera sobre Libia es sesgada. Aquello es evidente cuando uno se estudia la cobertura de Al Jazeera sobre Bahrein, que ha sido restringida debido a los lazos políticos entre los líderes de Bahrein y Qatar.

    Los informes de Al Jazeera sobre aviones libios disparando sobre los manifestantes en Trípoli y las principales ciudades no son verificables y son cuestionables. [9] Los reportes de que aviones libios han disparado al pueblo, no fueron verificados. No se mostró evidencia visual alguna de los ataques de aviones, mientras que confirmación visual sobre otros eventos han estado saliendo de Libia.

    Al Jazeera no es el único en presentar informes cesgados sobre Libia. Los medios de comunicación sauditas también están ensalzando los eventos en Libia. Asharq Al-Awsat es un periódico de propiedad saudí que está estrictamente alineado con los intereses estadounidenses en el Medio Oriente y Africa del Norte (MENA).

    Su editor en jefe está publicando ahora editoriales glorificando a la Liga Árabe por su decisión de suspender a Libia, debido al uso de la fuerza en Trípoli contra los manifestantes libios – ¿por qué esas medidas no se tomaron en Egipto, Túnez, Bahrein, o Yemen? Dentro y fuera del mundo árabe, los medios de comunicación están creando las condiciones para algún tipo de intervención en Libia.

    El Papel de los Intereses Extranjeros en Libia

    Gadafi y sus hijos han manejado Libia como una finca privada. Han despilfarrado su riqueza y recursos naturales. Se sabe que uno de los hijos de Gaddafi había pagado a la cantante estadounidense Beyoncé más de un millón de dólares estadounidenses por un concierto privado. [10] Las corporaciones extranjeras también juegan un papel en esta historia.

    Las posiciones y acciones de las corporaciones extranjeras, estadounidenses y de la Unión Europea en lo que respecta a Libia no deben ser ignoradas.

    Cuestionar el papel de los gobiernos y corporaciones extranjeras en Libia es muy importante. Los gobiernos de Italia y Estados Unidos deben ser interrogados sobre el papel que juegan en Libia los pilotos de nacionalidad italiana y el armamento recientemente comprado a Estados Unidos.

    Está muy claro que la democracia sólo se utiliza como pretexto conveniente contra los dictadores y los gobiernos que no se inclinan y sirven a los intereses de Estados Unidos y la UE. Todo lo que uno tiene que hacer es mirar la forma en que Mutassim Gadafi fue recibido con los brazos abiertos en Washington el 21 de abril de 2009 por Hillary Clinton y la administración de Obama. Tras su reunión, la Secretaria Clinton dijo públicamente:

    Estoy muy contenta de dar la bienvenida al Ministro Gadafi en el Departamento de Estado. Valoramos profundamente la relación entre Estados Unidos y Libia. Tenemos muchas oportunidades para profundizar y ampliar nuestra cooperación y estoy muy ilusionada con la construcción de esta relación. El Sr. Ministro es bienvenido aquí. [11]

    Lo que Estadis Unidos y la UE quieren es maximizar su ganancia en Libia. La guerra civil parece ser lo que Bruselas y Washington tienen en mente.

     

    La Balcanización de Libia y el Impulso a la Guerra Civil

    El hijo de Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam ha hecho declaraciones en la televisión libia sobre organizaciones Talibanes que intentan tomar Libia. Nada más lejos de la verdad. También ha advertido de fatalidades y guerra civil. Esto es parte de los esfuerzos de la familia Gadafi para retener el poder en Libia, pero se está desarrollando el camino hacia la guerra civil en Libia.

    Dentro de los miembros de alto rango del ejército, Mahdi Al-Arab, el jefe adjunto del Estado Mayor de Libia, se dice que ha renunciado a Gadafi. [12] Al-Arab, sin embargo, ha modificado su posición diciendo que no quiere ver a Libia en una espiral de guerra civil que permita la intervención y tutela extranjera. [13] Esta es la razón por la que Al-Arab ha impedido a la gente de su ciudad, Zawarah, unirse a la revuelta y acudir a las inmediaciones de Trípoli. [14]

    El impulso hacia la guerra civil en Libia es alimentado por dos factores. Uno de ellos es la naturaleza del régimen de Gadafi. El otro es un deseo externo de dividir y debilitar a Libia.

    Gadafi siempre ha obrado para mantener a los libios divididos. Durante años han habido temores de que los hijos de Gadafi comenzarían una guerra civil entre sí o que algunos otros funcionarios de alto rango podrían tratar de luchar por el poder una vez que Gadafi se fuese.

    La guerra civil sobre la base de la etnicidad, el regionalismo, o el tribalismo no es una gran amenaza. Tribus y regiones podrían ser cooptadas o aliadas, pero la gente que pudiera provocar una guerra civil son las personalidades del régimen. Las amenazas de guerra civil surgen de las rivalidades entre los propios funcionarios del régimen. Sin embargo, debe entenderse que estas rivalidades son deliberadas y alientan a dividir Libia.

    Las llamas de la revuelta se avivaron en el interior de Libia. El caos en el mundo árabe ha sido visto como beneficioso en muchos círculos estratégicos en Washington, Tel Aviv, Londres y la sede de la OTAN. Si Libia cae en un estado de guerra civil o se balcaniza, esto beneficiará a Estados Unidos y a la UE a largo plazo y tendrá serias consecuencias geopolíticas.

    Todos los estados vecinos del norte de África se desestabilizarían por los acontecimientos en Libia. África Occidental y África Central también se desestabilizarían. Los límites tribales entre Libia y Chad se extienden a países como Níger, Argelia y Sudán. El caos en Libia también tendría un efecto significativo en Europa y la energía global. Los eventos en Libia ya están siendo utilizados para validar la unidad para controlar el Círculo Polar Ártico y sus recursos energéticos. [15]

    ¿Cuál será el Fin de Gaddafi?

    Es muy probable que Gadafi no tenga la misma suerte en la salida del poder que Ben Alí en Túnez y Mubarak en Egipto. Encontrar refugio para Gadafi no será fácil. En general, Gadafi es considerado como una carga por otros gobiernos. Arabia Saudita, que puede ser vista como un refugio para los dictadores árabes, probablemente no dará refugio a Gadafi. Libia y Arabia Saudita tienen malas relaciones.

    Él también es buscado por la investigación en el Líbano. En general, la relación de Gadafi con los líderes petro-jeques árabes en el Golfo Pérsico es tensa y negativa. No se le concederá refugio en cualquier parte del Golfo Pérsico.

    En general, los gobiernos árabes también tienen miedo de recibirlo. En sus esfuerzos por presentarse como defensor del pueblo, ha insultado a muchos de sus colegas dictadores árabes. Hay algo que decir, sin embargo, las declaraciones de Gadafi en reuniones de la Liga Árabe sobre Palestina e Irak son mucho más populares y sinceras que las del resto de los dictadores árabes.

    Es altamente improbable que cualquier país de América Latina, Europa, o ex-soviético le dé refugio. Un país en el África sub-Sahariana es el lugar más probable en el que Gaddafi podría buscar refugio.

    Sus opciones son limitadas y está decidido a mantenerse en el poder. La Guerra Civil parece avecinarse en el horizonte. Es muy poco probable que abandone Libia con toda tranquilidad y Estados Unidos y sus aliados no tienen ninguna duda en examinar este escenario. El 23 y el 24 de febrero de 2010, se reunió con los líderes de las tres principales tribus de Libia (Werfala, Tarhouna y Wershfana), para asegurar su apoyo. [16] Su propia tribu, Qaddafa lo apoya y parece que las tribus Madarha y Awlad Slieman también lo apoyan.[17]

    Amenazas de Intervención y Control de la OTAN sobre Libia

    Libia ha estado en la mira del Pentágono desde hace años. De acuerdo con Wesley Clark, el general retirado que fue comandante militar supremo de la OTAN, Libia estaba en una lista del Pentágono de naciones a ser invadidas después de controlados los talibanes de Afganistán. La lista incluye a Irak, Somalia, Sudán, Líbano, Siria, e Irán por último. En las propias palabras de Clark:

    Así que volví a verlo [un oficial militar de alto rango en el Pentágono] unas semanas más tarde, y en el tiempo que estuvimos bombardeando en Afganistán., le dije: “¿Todavía vamos a ir a la guerra con Irak?” Y él dijo: “Oh, peor que eso.” Se acercó a su escritorio. Cogió un trozo de papel. Y dijo: “Acabo de recibir esto desde arriba” – es decir, la oficina del Secretario de Defensa – “. “Hoy” Y dijo: “Esta es una nota que describe la forma en que vamos a tomar siete países en cinco años, empezando por Irak, y luego Siria, Líbano, Libia, Somalia, Sudán y, terminando, Irán.”  [18]

    De una forma u otra a todas las naciones en la lista han sido atacadas directa o indirectamente, y todos ellas, excepto Siria e Irán, han sucumbido a Estados Unidos y sus aliados. Una vez más, las únicas excepciones son Irán y su aliado Siria. En el Líbano, Estados Unidos ha logrado avances parciales, pero ahora está retrocediendo con la caída de la coalición de los 14 dirigida por Hariri.

    Libia inició negociaciones secretas con Washington en 2001 que se materializaron en un acercamiento formal después de la caída de Bagdad en manos de las tropas británicas y estadounidenses en 2003. Sin embargo, Estados Unidos y sus aliados siempre han querido expandir su influencia sobre el sector energético de Libia y la gran riqueza de Libia. Una guerra civil proporciona la mejor pantalla para ello.

    Libios: el Pretexto es la Intervención Humanitaria

    El pueblo libio debe estar con la guardia alta. Está claro que Estados Unidos y la UE apoyan ambos bandos. Estados Unidos y la UE no son aliados del pueblo del mundo árabe.

    En este sentido, Estados Unidos apoya a Gadafi en terreno a través de equipos militares, mientras también apoya la “oposición.” Si asi llamados gobiernos occidentales se tomaran en serio la democracia, hubieran cortado sus vínculos comerciales con Libia, concretamente en el sector de la energía, antes de 2011.

    Tanto Washington como los poderes de Bruselas podrían cooptar las fuerzas de oposición. Ellos han apoyado a Gadafi, pero no lo controlaron a él o a su régimen como controlaban a Ben Alí en Túnez y a Mubarak en Egipto. Libia tiene una historia muy diferente. Los objetivos de Washington y Bruselas buscan reforzar su control sobre Libia a través de un cambio de régimen o la guerra civil.

    “Las acciones de la oposición a Gadafi” son fuertes, pero no existe un “movimiento de oposición” fuerte y organizado. Los dos son diferentes. Tampoco se garantiza la democracia, debido a la naturaleza de la coalición opositora a Gaddafi, que comprende funcionarios corruptos del régimen.

    Ahora se habla de una “intervención humanitaria” en Libia, al igual que en Yugoslavia e Irak. Se ha hablado de “zona de exclusión aérea” en Libia, al igual que dela intervención militar de la OTAN. Los objetivos detrás de estas declaraciones no son humanitarios; están destinados a justificar la injerencia extranjera, que podría dar lugar a una invasión. Si esto llegase a buen término, Libia se convertiría en un país ocupado. Sus recursos serán saqueados y sus activos privatizados y controlados por empresas extranjeras como en el caso de Irak.

    Hoy en día, en Libia y el mundo árabe los fantasmas de Omar Mukhtar y Saladino están todavía muy vivos y activos. Deshacerse de Gadafi y sus hijos en no es la solución por si sola. Todo el sistema corrupto de gobierno en Libia y la cultura de la corrupción política deben ser desmantelados. Al mismo tiempo, sin embargo, no debe permitirse que eche raíces en Libia la injerencia o la dominación extranjera. Si el pueblo libio se moviliza y se pone firme, puede luchar contra esos sistemas.

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya es especializa en el Medio Oriente y Asia Central. Es Investigador Asociado del Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
    Artículo original publicado el 25 de febrero de 2011.
    Texto original: Libya: Is Washington Pushing for Civil War to Justify a US-NATO Military Intervention?

    NOTAS

    [1] “UK Hague: some information that Qaddafi on way to Venezuela,” Reuters, February 21, 2011.
    [2] One is taken back by the proliferation of pre-1969 coup Libyan flags. Where did all these flags come from?
    [3] “3 Libyan Diplomats resign,” The Hindu, February 22, 2011.
    [4] James Wolf, “U.S. eyes arms sales to Libya,” Reuters, March 6, 2009.
    [5] Ibid.
    [6] Information from sources in Libya; not publicly confirmed yet.
    [7] Ibid.
    [8] Ibid.
    [9] Ibid.; I have been given two explanations for this. The first explanation is that government agents from Libya have been disseminating misinformation to Al Jazeera. This includes reports made to Al Jazeera that jets have been attacking civilians in the streets. Gaddafi has used this to try to discredit Al Jazeera internally in Libya by pointing out to the Libyan people that no jet attacks have occurred and that Al Jazeera is broadcasting misinformation. The second explanation is that Al Jazeera is simply spreading misinformation. Whatever the case, both explanations agree no Libyan jets have attacked protesters yet.
    [10] Marine Hyde, “Beyoncé and the $2m gig for Colonel Gaddafi’s son,” The Guardian (U.K.), January 8, 2010; it was Mutassim and not Hannibal Gaddafi that the music concert was for (the article is wrong). The article is not authoritative and has been cited to illustrate that these types of escapades are even vaguely known by the mainstream press in Britain and Western Europe.
    [11] U.S. State Department, “Remarks With Libyan National Security Adviser Dr. Mutassim Qadhafi Before Their Meeting,” April 21, 2009: <http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/04/121993.htm>.
    [12] Information from sources in Libya; not publicly confirmed yet.
    [13] Ibid.
    [14] Ibid.
    [15] David Ljunggren, “Libya turmoil puts focus on Arctic oil: Greenland,” ed. Robert Wilson, Reuters, February 23, 2011.
    [16] Information from sources in Libya; not publicly confirmed yet. I have been told that Qaddafi promised the tribes reform and that he would step down in about one year in time. I was also informed that he claimed that none of his sons would control Libya either.
    [17] Ibid.
    [18] General (retired) Wesley Clark, “92 Street Y Exclusive Live Interview,” interview by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, March 2, 2007.

    War Is Illegal

    March 14th, 2011 by David Swanson

    It’s a simple point, but an important one, and one that gets overlooked. Whether or not you think a particular war is moral and good, the fact remains that war is illegal. Actual defense by a country when attacked is legal, but that only occurs once another country has actually attacked, and it must not be used as a loophole to excuse wider war that is not employed in actual defense.

    Needless to say, a strong moral argument can be made for preferring the rule of law to the law of rulers. If those in power can do anything they like, most of us will not like what they do. Some laws are so unjust that when they are imposed on ordinary people, they should be violated. But allowing those in charge of a government to engage in massive violence and killing in defiance of the law is to sanction all lesser abuses as well, since no greater abuse is imaginable. It’s understandable that proponents of war would rather ignore or “re-interpret” the law than properly change the law through the legislative process, but it is not morally defensible.

    For much of U.S. history, it was reasonable for citizens to believe, and often they did believe, that the U.S. Constitution banned aggressive war. Congress declared the 1846-1848 War on Mexico to have been “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the president of the United States.” Congress had issued a declaration of war, but the House believed the president had lied to them. (President Woodrow Wilson would later send troops to war with Mexico without a declaration.) It does not seem to be the lying that Congress viewed as unconstitutional in the 1840s, but rather the launching of an unnecessary or aggressive war.

    As Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair in March 2003, “Aggression is a crime under customary international law which automatically forms part of domestic law,” and therefore, “international aggression is a crime recognized by the common law which can be prosecuted in the U.K. courts.” U.S. law evolved from English common law, and the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes precedents and traditions based on it. U.S. law in the 1840s was closer to its roots in English common law than is U.S. law today, and statutory law was less developed in general, so it was natural for Congress to take the position that launching an unnecessary war was unconstitutional without needing to be more specific.

    In fact, just prior to giving Congress the exclusive power to declare war, the Constitution gives Congress the power to “define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations.” At least by implication, this would seem to suggest that the United States was itself expected to abide by the “Law of Nations.” In the 1840s, no member of Congress would have dared to suggest that the United States was not itself bound by the “Law of Nations.” At that point in history, this meant customary international law, under which the launching of an aggressive war had long been considered the most serious offense.

    Fortunately, now that we have binding multilateral treaties that explicitly prohibit aggressive war, we no longer have to guess at what the U.S. Constitution says about war. Article VI of the Constitution explicitly says this:

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” [emphasis added]

    So, if the United States were to make a treaty that banned war, war would be illegal under the supreme law of the land.

    The United States has in fact done this, at least twice, in treaties that remain today part of our highest law: the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter.

    WE BANNED ALL WAR IN 1928

    In 1928, the United States Senate, that same institution that on a good day can now get three percent of its members to vote against funding war escalations or continuations, voted 85 to 1 to bind the United States to a treaty by which it is still bound and in which we “condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in [our] relations with” other nations. This is the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It condemns and renounces all war. The U.S. Secretary of State, Frank Kellogg, rejected a French proposal to limit the ban to wars of aggression. He wrote to the French ambassador that if the pact, “. . . were accompanied by definitions of the word ‘aggressor’ and by expressions and qualifications stipulating when nations would be justified in going to war, its effect would be very greatly weakened and its positive value as a guaranty of peace virtually destroyed.” The treaty was signed with its ban on all war included, and was agreed to by dozens of nations. Kellogg was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929, an award already rendered questionable by its previous bestowal upon both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

    However, when the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty it added two reservations. First, the United States would not be obliged to enforce the treaty by taking action against those who violated it. Excellent. So far so good. If war is banned, it hardly seems a nation could be required to go to war to enforce the ban. But old ways of thinking die hard, and redundancy is much less painful than bloodshed.

    The second reservation, however, was that the treaty must not infringe upon America’s right of self-defense. So, there, war maintained a foot in the door. The traditional right to defend yourself when attacked was preserved, and a loophole was created that could be and would be unreasonably expanded.

    When any nation is attacked, it will defend itself, violently or otherwise. The harm in placing that prerogative in law is, as Kellogg foresaw, a weakening of the idea that war is illegal. An argument could be made for U.S. participation in World War II under this reservation, for example, based on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, no matter how provoked and desired that attack was. War with Germany could be justified by the Japanese attack as well, through predictable stretching of the loophole. Even so, wars of aggression have been illegal (albeit unpunished) in the United States since 1928.

    In addition, in 1945, the United States became a party to the United Nations Charter, which also remains in force today as part of the “supreme law of the land.” The United States had been the driving force behind the U.N. Charter’s creation. It includes these lines:

    “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

     ”All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

    This would appear to be a new Kellogg-Briand Pact with at least an initial attempt at the creation of an enforcement body. And so it is. But the U.N. Charter contains two exceptions to its ban on warfare. The first is self- defense. Here is part of Article 51:

    “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence (sic) if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

    So, the U.N. Charter contains the same traditional right and small loophole that the U.S. Senate attached to the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It also adds another. The Charter makes clear that the U.N. Security Council can choose to authorize the use of force. This further weakens the understanding that war is illegal, by making some wars legal. Other wars are then, predictably, justified by claims of legality. The architects of the 2003 attack on Iraq claimed it was authorized by the United Nations, even though the United Nations disagreed.

    The U.N. Security Council did authorize the War on Korea, but only because the U.S.S.R. was boycotting the Security Council at the time and China was still represented by the Kuomintang government in Taiwan. The Western powers were preventing the ambassador of the new revolutionary government of China from taking China’s seat as a permanent member of the Security Council, and the Russians were boycotting the Council in protest. If the Soviet and Chinese delegates had been present, there is no way that the United Nations would have taken sides in the war that eventually destroyed most of Korea.

    It seems reasonable, of course, to make exceptions for wars of self-defense. You can’t tell people they’re forbidden to fight back when attacked. And what if they were attacked years or decades earlier and have been occupied by a foreign or colonial force against their will, albeit without recent violence? Many consider wars of national liberation to be a legal extension of the right to defense. The people of Iraq or Afghanistan don’t lose their right to fight back when enough years go by, do they? But a nation at peace cannot legally dredge up centuries- or millennia-old ethnic grievances as grounds for war. The dozens of nations in which U.S. troops are now based cannot legally bomb Washington. Apartheid and Jim Crow were not grounds for war. Nonviolence is not just more effective in remedying many injustices; it is also the only legal choice. People cannot “defend” themselves with war any time they wish.

    What people can do is fight back when attacked or occupied. Given that possibility, why wouldn’t you also make an exception — as in the U.N. Charter — for the defense of other, smaller countries that are unable to defend themselves? After all, the United States liberated itself from England a long time ago, and the only way it can use this rationale as an excuse for war is if it “liberates” other countries by overthrowing their rulers and occupying them. The idea of defending others seems very sensible, but — exactly as Kellogg predicted — loopholes lead to confusion and confusion allows larger and larger exceptions to the rule until a point is reached at which the very idea that the rule exists at all seems ludicrous.

    And yet it does exist. The rule is that war is a crime. There are two narrow exceptions in the U.N. Charter, and it is easy enough to show that any particular war does not meet either of the exceptions.

    Libya has not attacked the United States.

    The United Nations has not authorized bombing Libya.

    On August 31, 2010, when President Barack Obama was scheduled to give a speech about the War on Iraq, blogger Juan Cole composed a speech he thought the president might like to, but of course did not, give:

    “Fellow Americans, and Iraqis who are watching this speech, I have come here this evening not to declare a victory or to mourn a defeat on the battlefield, but to apologize from the bottom of my heart for a series of illegal actions and grossly incompetent policies pursued by the government of the United States of America, in defiance of domestic US law, international treaty obligations, and both American and Iraqi public opinion.

     ”The United Nations was established in 1945 in the wake of a series of aggressive wars of conquest and the response to them, in which over 60 million people perished. Its purpose was to forbid such unjustified attacks, and its charter specified that in future wars could only be launched on two grounds. One is clear self-defense, when a country has been attacked. The other is with the authorization of the United Nations Security Council.”

     ”It was because the French, British, and Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956 contravened these provisions of the United Nations Charter that President Dwight D. Eisenhower condemned that war and forced the belligerents to withdraw. When Israel looked as though it might try to hang on to its ill-gotten spoils, the Sinai Peninsula, President Eisenhower went on television on February 21, 1957, and addressed the nation. These words have largely been suppressed and forgotten in the United States of today, but they should ring through the decades and centuries:

     ”‘If the United Nations once admits that international dispute can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the organization, and our best hope of establishing a real world order. That would be a disaster for us all…. [Referring to Israeli demands that certain conditions be met before it relinquished the Sinai, the president said that he] “would be untrue to the standards of the high office to which you have chosen me if I were to lend the influence of the United States to the proposition that a nation which invades another should be permitted to exact conditions for withdrawal….’

     ”‘If it [the United Nations Security Council] does nothing, if it accepts the ignoring of its repeated resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the invading forces, then it will have admitted failure. That failure would be a blow to the authority and influence of the United Nations in the world and to the hopes which humanity has placed in the United Nations as the means of achieving peace with justice.’”

    Eisenhower was referring to an incident that began when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal; Israel invaded Egypt in response. Britain and France pretended to step in as outside parties concerned that the Egyptian-Israeli dispute might jeopardize free passage through the canal. In reality, Israel, France, and Britain had planned the invasion of Egypt together, all agreeing that Israel would attack first, with the other two nations joining in later pretending they were trying to stop the fighting. This illustrates the need for a truly impartial international body (something the United Nations has never become but someday could) and the need for a complete ban on war. In the Suez crisis, the rule of law was enforced because the biggest kid on the block was inclined to enforce it. When it came to overthrowing governments in Iran and Guatemala, shifting away from big wars to secret operations much as Obama would do, President Eisenhower held a different view of the value of law enforcement. When it came to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Obama was not about to concede that the crime of aggression should be punished. The National Security Strategy published by the White House in May 2010 declared:

    “Military force, at times, may be necessary to defend our country and allies or to preserve broader peace and security, including by protecting civilians facing a grave humanitarian crisis…. The United States must reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests, yet we will also seek to adhere to standards that govern the use of force.”

    Try telling your local police that you may soon go on a violent crime spree, but that you will also seek to adhere to standards that govern the use of force.

    WE TRIED WAR CRIMINALS IN 1945

    Two other important documents, one from 1945 and the other from 1946, treated wars of aggression as crimes. The first was the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, the institution that tried Nazi war leaders for their crimes. Among the crimes listed in the charter were “crimes against peace,” “war crimes,” and “crimes against humanity.” Crimes “against peace” were defined as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.” The next year, the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the trial of Japanese war criminals) used the same definition. These two sets of trials deserve a great deal of criticism, but a great deal of praise as well.

    On the one hand, they enforced victors’ justice. They left out of the lists of prosecuted crimes certain crimes, such as the bombing of civilians, in which the allies had also engaged. And they failed to prosecute the allies for other crimes that the Germans and Japanese were prosecuted and hanged for. U.S. General Curtis LeMay, who commanded the firebombing of Tokyo, said “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. Fortunately, we were on the winning side.”

    The tribunals claimed to start the prosecutions at the very top, but they gave the Emperor of Japan immunity. The United States gave immunity to over 1,000 Nazi scientists, including some who were guilty of the most horrendous crimes, and brought them to the United States to continue their research. General Douglas MacArthur gave Japanese microbiologist and lieutenant general Shiro Ishii and all the members of his bacteriological research units immunity in exchange for germ warfare data derived from human experimentation. The British learned from the German crimes they prosecuted how to later set up concentration camps in Kenya. The French recruited thousands of SS and other German troops into their Foreign Legion, so that about half of the legionnaires fighting France’s brutal colonial war in Indochina were none other than the most hardened remnants of the German Army from World War II, and the torture techniques of the German Gestapo were widely used on French detainees in the Algerian War of Independence. The United States, also working with former Nazis, spread the same techniques throughout Latin America. Having executed a Nazi for opening dikes to flood Dutch farmland, the United States proceeded to bomb dams in Korea and Vietnam for the same purpose.

    War veteran and Atlantic Monthly correspondent Edgar L. Jones returned from World War II, and was shocked to discover that civilians back home thought highly of the war. “Cynical as most of us overseas were,” Jones wrote, “I doubt if many of us seriously believed that people at home would start planning for the next war before we could get home and talk without censorship about this one.” Jones objected to the sort of hypocrisy that drove the war crimes trials:

    “Not every American soldier, or even one per cent of our troops, deliberately committed unwarranted atrocities, and the same might be said for the Germans and Japanese. The exigencies of war necessitated many so-called crimes, and the bulk of the rest could be blamed on the mental distortion which war produced. But we publicized every inhuman act of our opponents and censored any recognition of our own moral frailty in moments of desperation.

     ”I have asked fighting men, for instance, why they — or actually, why we — regulated flame-throwers in such a way that enemy soldiers were set afire, to die slowly and painfully, rather than killed outright with a full blast of burning oil. Was it because they hated the enemy so thoroughly? The answer was invariably, ‘No, we don’t hate those poor bastards particularly; we just hate the whole goddam mess and have to take it out on somebody.’ Possibly for the same reason, we mutilated the bodies of enemy dead, cutting off their ears and kicking out their gold teeth for souvenirs, and buried them with their testicles in their mouths, but such flagrant violations of all moral codes reach into still-unexplored realms of battle psychology.”

    On the other hand, there is a great deal to praise in the trials of the Nazi and Japanese war criminals. Hypocrisy not withstanding, surely it is preferable that some war crimes be punished than none. Many people intended that the trials establish a norm that would later be enforced equally for all crimes against the peace and crimes of war. The Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, said in his opening statement:

    “The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched. The Charter of this Tribunal evidences a faith that the law is not only to govern the conduct of little men, but that even rulers are, as Lord Chief Justice Coke put it to King James, ‘under … the law.’ And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

    The tribunal concluded that aggressive war was “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” The tribunal prosecuted the supreme crime of aggression and many of the lesser crimes that followed from it.

    The ideal of international justice for war crimes has not yet been achieved, of course. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee included a charge of aggression against President Richard Nixon for ordering the secret bombing and invasion of Cambodia in its draft articles of impeachment. Rather than including those charges in the final version, however, the Committee decided to focus more narrowly on Watergate, wire-tapping, and contempt of Congress.

    In the 1980s Nicaragua appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). That court ruled that the United States had organized the militant rebel group, the Contras, and mined Nicaragua’s harbors. It found those actions to constitute international aggression. The United States blocked enforcement of the judgment by the United Nations and thereby prevented Nicaragua from obtaining any compensation. The United States then withdrew from the binding jurisdiction of the ICJ, hoping to ensure that never again would U.S. actions be subject to the adjudication of an impartial body that could objectively rule on their legality or criminality.

    More recently, the United Nations set up tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as special courts in Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Cambodia, and East Timor. Since 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has prosecuted war crimes by the leaders of small countries. But the crime of aggression has loomed as the supreme offense for decades without being punished. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the United States evicted Iraq and punished it severely, but when the United States invaded Iraq, there was no stronger force to step in and undo or punish the crime.

    In 2010, despite U.S. opposition, the ICC established its jurisdiction over future crimes of aggression. In what types of cases it will do so, and in particular whether it will ever go after powerful nations that have not joined the ICC, nations that hold veto power at the United Nations, remains to be seen. Numerous war crimes, apart from the overarching crime of aggression, have in recent years been committed by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, but those crimes have not yet been prosecuted by the ICC.

    In 2009, an Italian court convicted 23 Americans in absentia, most of them employees of the CIA, for their roles in kidnapping a man in Italy and shipping him to Egypt to be tortured. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction for the most terrible crimes, which is accepted in a growing number of countries around the world, a Spanish court indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and 9-11 suspect Osama bin Laden. The same Spanish court then sought to prosecute members of the George W. Bush administration for war crimes, but Spain is being pressured by the Obama administration to drop the case. In 2010, a judge involved, Baltasar Garzón, was removed from his position for allegedly abusing his power by investigating the executions or disappearances of more than 100,000 civilians at the hands of supporters of Gen. Francisco Franco during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and the early years of the Franco dictatorship.

    In 2003, a lawyer in Belgium filed a complaint against Gen. Tommy R. Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, alleging war crimes in Iraq. The United States quickly threatened to move NATO headquarters out of Belgium if that nation did not rescind its law permitting trials of foreign crimes. Charges filed against U.S. officials in other European nations have thus far failed to go to trial as well. Civil suits brought in the United States by victims of torture and other war crimes have run up against claims from the Justice Department (under the direction of Presidents Bush and Obama) that any such trials would constitute a threat to national security. In September 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, agreeing with that claim, threw out a case that had been brought against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing, for its role in “renditioning” prisoners to countries where they were tortured.

    In 2005 and 2006 while Republicans held a majority in Congress, Democratic Congress members led by John Conyers (Mich.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), and Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) pushed hard for an investigation into the lies that had launched the aggression against Iraq. But from the time the Democrats took the majority in January 2007 up to the present moment, there has been no further mention of the matter, apart from a Senate committee’s release of its long-delayed report.

    In Britain, in contrast, there have been endless “inquiries” beginning the moment the “weapons of mass destruction” weren’t found, continuing to the present, and likely extending into the foreseeable future. These investigations have been limited and in most cases can accurately be characterized as whitewashes. They have not involved criminal prosecution. But at least they have actually taken place. And those who have spoken up a little have been lauded and encouraged to speak up a little more. This climate has produced tell-all books, a treasure trove of leaked and declassified documents, and incriminating oral testimony. It has also seen Britain pull its troops out of Iraq. In contrast, by 2010 in Washington, it was common for elected officials to praise the 2007 “surge” and swear they’d known Iraq would turn out to be a “good war” all along. Similarly, Britain and several other countries have been investigating their roles in U.S. kidnapping, imprisonment, and torture programs, but the United States has not — President Obama having publicly instructed the Attorney General not to prosecute those most responsible, and Congress having performed an inspired imitation of a possum.

    WHAT IF THE COPS OF THE WORLD BREAK THE LAW?

    Political Science professor Michael Haas published a book in 2009 the title of which reveals its contents: “George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes.” (A 2010 book by the same author includes Obama in his charges.) Number one on Haas’s 2009 list is the crime of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq. Haas includes five more crimes related to the illegality of war:

    War Crime #2. Aiding Rebels in a Civil War. (Supporting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan).

    War Crime #3. Threatening Aggressive War.

    War Crime #4. Planning and Preparing for a War of Aggression.

    War Crime #5. Conspiracy to Wage War.

    War Crime #6. Propaganda for War.

    The launching of a war can also involve numerous violations of domestic law. Many such crimes relating to Iraq are detailed in “The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush,” which was published in 2008 and includes an introduction that I wrote and 35 articles of impeachment that Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) presented to Congress. Bush and Congress did not comply with the War Powers Act, which requires a specific and timely authorization of war from Congress.

    Bush did not even comply with the terms of the vague authorization that Congress did issue. Instead he submitted a report full of lies about weapons and ties to 9-11. Bush and his subordinates lied repeatedly to Congress, which is a felony under two different statutes. Thus, not only is war a crime, but war lies are a crime too.

    I don’t mean to pick on Bush. As Noam Chomsky remarked in about 1990, “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.” Chomsky pointed out that General Tomoyuki Yamashita was hanged for having been the top commander of Japanese troops who committed atrocities in the Philippines late in the war when he had no contact with them. By that standard, Chomsky said, you’d have to hang every U.S. president.

    But, Chomsky argued, you’d have to do the same even if the standards were lower. Truman dropped atomic bombs on civilians. Truman “proceeded to organize a major counter-insurgency campaign in Greece which killed off about one hundred and sixty thousand people, sixty thousand refugees, another sixty thousand or so people tortured, political system dismantled, right-wing regime. American corporations came in and took it over.” Eisenhower overthrew the governments of Iran and Guatemala and invaded Lebanon. Kennedy invaded Cuba and Vietnam. Johnson slaughtered civilians in Indochina and invaded the Dominican Republic. Nixon invaded Cambodia and Laos. Ford and Carter supported the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Reagan funded war crimes in Central America and supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. These were the examples Chomsky offered off the top of his head. There are many more.

    PRESIDENTS DON’T GET TO DECLARE WAR

    Of course, Chomsky blames presidents for wars of aggression because they launched them. Constitutionally, however, the launching of a war is the responsibility of Congress. Applying the standard of Nuremberg, or of the Kellogg-Briand Pact — ratified overwhelmingly by the Senate — to Congress itself would require a lot more rope or, if we outgrow the death penalty, a lot of prison cells.

    Until President William McKinley created the first presidential press secretary and courted the press, Congress looked like the center of power in Washington. In 1900 McKinley created something else: the power of presidents to send military forces to fight against foreign governments without congressional approval. McKinley sent 5,000 troops from the Philippines to China to fight against the Boxer Rebellion. And he got away with it, meaning that future presidents could probably do the same.

    Since World War II, presidents have acquired tremendous powers to operate in secrecy and outside the oversight of Congress. Truman added to the presidential toolbox the CIA, the National Security Advisor, the Strategic Air Command, and the nuclear arsenal. Kennedy used new structures called the Special Group Counter-Insurgency, the 303 Committee, and the Country Team to consolidate power in the White House, and the Green Berets to allow the president to direct covert military operations. Presidents began asking Congress to declare a state of national emergency as an end run around the requirement of a declaration of war. President Clinton used NATO as a vehicle for going to war despite congressional opposition.

    The trend that moved war powers from Congress to the White House reached a new peak when President George W. Bush asked lawyers in his Justice Department to draft secret memos that would be treated as carrying the force of law, memos that re-interpreted actual laws to mean the opposite of what they had always been understood to say. On October 23, 2002, Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee signed a 48-page memo to the president’s counsel Alberto Gonzales titled Authority of the President Under Domestic and International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq. This secret law (or call it what you will, a memo masquerading as a law) authorized any president to single-handedly commit what Nuremberg called “the supreme international crime.”

    Bybee’s memo declares that a president has the power to launch wars. Period. Any “authorization to use force” passed by Congress is treated as redundant. According to Bybee’s copy of the U.S. Constitution, Congress can “issue formal declarations of war.” According to mine, Congress has the power “to declare war,” as well as every related substantive power. In fact, there are no incidental formal powers anywhere in my copy of the Constitution.

    Bybee dismisses the War Powers Act by citing Nixon’s veto of it rather than addressing the law itself, which was passed over Nixon’s veto. Bybee cites letters written by Bush. He even cites a Bush signing statement, a statement written to alter a new law. Bybee relies on previous memos produced by his office, the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. And he leans most heavily on the argument that President Clinton had already done similar things. For good measure, he cites Truman, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush Sr., plus an Israeli ambassador’s opinion of a U.N. declaration condemning an aggressive attack by Israel. These are all interesting precedents, but they aren’t laws.

    Bybee claims that in an age of nuclear weapons “anticipatory self-defense” can justify launching a war against any nation that might conceivably acquire nukes, even if there is no reason to think that nation would use them to attack yours:

    “We observe, therefore, that even if the probability that Iraq itself would attack the United States with WMD, or would transfer such a weapon to terrorists for their use against the United States, were relatively low, the exceptionally high degree of harm that would result, combined with a limited window of opportunity and the likelihood that if we do not use force, the threat will increase, could lead the President to conclude that military action is necessary to defend the United States.”

    Never mind the high degree of harm the “military action” produces, or its clear illegality. This memo justified a war of aggression and all the crimes and abuses of power abroad and at home that were justified by the war. At the same time that presidents have assumed the power to brush aside the laws of warfare, they have publicly spoken of supporting them. Harold Lasswell pointed out in 1927 that a war could better be marketed to “liberal and middle-class people” if packaged as the vindication of international law. The British stopped arguing for World War I on the basis of national self-interest when they were able to argue against the German invasion of Belgium. The French quickly organized a Committee for the Defense of International Law.

    “The Germans were staggered by this outburst of affection for international law in the world, but soon found it possible to file a brief for the defendant.…The Germans…discovered that they were really fighting for the freedom of the seas and the rights of small nations to trade, as they saw fit, without being subject to the bullying tactics of the British fleet.”

    The allies said they were fighting for the liberation of Belgium, Alsace, and Lorraine. The Germans countered that they were fighting for the liberation of Ireland, Egypt, and India.

    Despite invading Iraq in the absence of U.N. authorization in 2003, Bush claimed to be invading in order to enforce a U.N. resolution. Despite fighting a war almost entirely with U.S. troops, Bush was careful to pretend to be working within a broad international coalition. That rulers are willing to promote the idea of international law while violating it, thereby risking endangering themselves, may suggest the importance they place on winning immediate popular approval for each new war, and their confidence that once a war has begun no one will go back to examine too closely how it happened.

    THE ACCUMULATED EVIL OF THE WHOLE

    The Hague and Geneva Conventions and other international treaties to which the United States is a party ban the crimes that are always part of any war, regardless of the legality of the war as a whole. Many of these bans have been placed in the U.S. Code of Law, including the crimes found in the Geneva Conventions, in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and in the conventions against both chemical and biological weapons. In fact, most of these treaties require signatory countries to pass domestic legislation to make the treaties’ provisions part of each country’s own legal system. It took until 1996 for the United States to pass the War Crimes Act to give the 1948 Geneva Conventions the force of U.S. Federal Law. But, even where the activities forbidden by treaties have not been made statutory crimes, the treaties themselves remain part of the “Supreme Law of the Land” under the United States Constitution.

    Michael Haas identifies and documents 263 war crimes in addition to aggression, that have occurred just in the current War on Iraq, and divides them into the categories of “conduct of the war,” “treatment of prisoners,” and “the conduct of the postwar occupation.” A random sample of the crimes:

    War Crime #7. Failure to Observe the Neutrality of a Hospital.

    War Crime #12. Bombing of Neutral Countries.

    War Crime #16. Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians.

    War Crime #21. Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons.

    War Crime #31. Extrajudicial Executions.

    War Crime #55. Torture.

    War Crime #120. Denial of Right to Counsel.

    War Crime #183. Incarceration of Children in the Same Quarters as Adults.

    War Crime #223. Failure to Protect Journalists.

    War Crime #229. Collective Punishment.

    War Crime #240. Confiscation of Private Property.

    The list of abuses that accompany wars is long, but it’s hard to imagine wars without them. The United States seems to be moving in the direction of unmanned wars conducted by remote-controlled drones, and small- scale targeted assassinations conducted by special forces under the secret command of the president. Such wars may avoid a great many war crimes, but are themselves completely illegal. A United Nations report in June 2010 concluded that the U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan were illegal. The drone attacks continued.

    A lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the practice of targeted killings of Americans. The argument the plaintiffs made focused on the right to due process. The White House had claimed the right to kill Americans outside the United States, but it would of course be doing so without charging those Americans with any crimes, putting them on trial, or providing them with any opportunity to defend themselves against accusations. CCR and the ACLU were retained by Nasser al-Aulaqi to bring a lawsuit in connection with the government’s decision to authorize the targeted killing of his son, U.S. citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi. But the Secretary of the Treasury declared Anwar al-Aulaqi a “specially designated global terrorist,” which made it a crime for lawyers to provide representation for his benefit without first obtaining a special license, which the government at the time of this writing has not granted.

    Also in 2010, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) introduced a bill to prohibit the targeted killings of U.S. citizens. Since, to my knowledge, Congress had not up to that point passed a single bill not favored by President Obama since he entered the White House, it was unlikely that this one would break that streak. There was just not enough public pressure to force such changes.

    One reason, I suspect, for the lack of pressure was a persistent belief in American exceptionalism. If the president does it, to quote Richard Nixon, “that means that it’s not illegal.” If our nation does it, it must be legal. Since the enemies in our wars are the bad guys, we must be upholding the law, or at least upholding ad hoc might-makes-right justice of some sort. We can easily see the conundrum created if people on both sides of a war assume that their side can do no wrong. We would be better off recognizing that our nation, like other nations, can do things wrong, can in fact do things very, very wrong — even criminal. We would be better off organizing to compel Congress to cease funding wars. We would be better off deterring would-be war makers by holding past and current war makers accountable.

    David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” from which this is excerpted: http://warisalie.org

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    David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” 

    http://warisalie.org
    http://davidswanson.org
    http://warisacrime.org

     

     

    «Sono molto contenta di dare il benvenuto al ministro Gheddafi qui al Dipartimento di stato. Apprezziamo profondamente le relazioni fra Stati uniti e Libia. Abbiamo molte opportunità per approfondire e allargare la nostra cooperazione. E desidero ardentemente sviluppare le nostre relazioni. Quindi, Signor Ministro, le do il più caloroso benvenuto»: con queste parole, il 21 aprile 2009, la segretaria di stato Hillary Clinton accoglieva Moutassim Gheddafi, uno dei figli di Muammar Gheddafi, in veste di consigliere per la sicurezza nazionale. E si faceva fotografare mentre, sorridente, gli stringeva calorosamente la mano tra le bandiere statunitense e libica. Senza preoccuparsi tra l’altro della pessima fama di Moutassim, ricco playboy internazionale e violento con la moglie.

    Non sono passati nemmeno due anni, e la stessa Clinton «scopre» che quella di Gheddafi e della sua famiglia è una dittatura e ne chiede l’immediata destituzione in nome della «democrazia». Che cosa è cambiato? Le relazioni con la Libia, evidentemente, non sono andate come avrebbero voluto a Washington. Soprattutto per ciò che riguarda l’accesso delle multinazionali statunitensi all’oro nero libico.

    La Libia possiede riserve di petrolio stimate in circa  60 miliardi di barili, le maggiori dell’Africa, il doppio di quelle statunitemsi (v. “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa, Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 9 marzo 2011). I costi di estrazione sono tra i più bassi del mondo: poco più di un dollaro al barile, venduto a oltre 100 dollari sui mercati internazionali. La Libia possiede inoltre riserve di gas naturale stimate in circa 1500 miliardi di metri cubi. Le compagnie che hanno avuto i contratti più vantaggiosi dalla National Oil Corporation libica sono quelle europee, tra cui l’Eni, cinesi e russe. Quelle statunitensi sono rimaste invece ai margini o hanno perso terreno.  La Chevron e la Occidental Petroleum, che si occupavano della prospezione di giacimenti di petrolio e gas, hanno deciso nell’ottobre 2010 di non rinnovare i loro contratti. Se li è accaparrati, un mese dopo, la compagnia tedesca R.W. Dia.

    Quando subito dopo è scoppiata la rivolta popolare in Nord Africa, a Washington è scattato l’allarme: gli Stati uniti rischiavano di veder uscire dalla propria sfera d’influenza paesi d’importanza strategica come l’Egitto. Per questo il presidente Obama ha premuto per una «ordinata e pacifica transizione» dell’Egitto che, mettendo da parte l’ormai insostenibile Mubarak, trasferisse il potere ai vertici delle forze armate legati a doppio filo con gli Usa.

    Quando invece è scoppiata in Libia la rivolta popolare contro il regime di Gheddafi, trasformatasi in guerra civile in seguito alla spaccatura del gruppo dirigente (già preparata), l’amministrazione Obama ha gettato benzina sul fuoco preparando le condizioni per l’intervento militare Usa/Nato, richiesto in particolare dalla Clinton. La segretaria di stato incontrerà la prossima settimana Mustafa Abd al Jalil, già ministro della giustizia con Gheddafi, oggi presidente dell’organo politico dei ribelli. Se emergerà in Libia un «governo rappresentativo» – ha annunciato a Washington il consigliere per la sicurezza nazionale Tom Donilon – gli Stati uniti gli trasferiranno i 32 miliardi di dollari confiscati al regime di Gheddafi, che Washington tiene «in deposito per il futuro della Libia».

    Un futuro – quello che hanno in mente a Washington ma anche a Parigi e Londra – in cui siano gli Stati uniti e le maggiori potenze europee, soprattutto Francia e Gran Bretagna, ad avere in mano la ricchezza energetica libica, possibilmente attraverso la privatizzazione della compagnia petrolifera nazionale.
     

    Potrebbero così controllare il rubinetto energetico, da cui dipende in gran parte l’Europa e si approvvigiona in misura crescente anche la Cina. In quel caso qualsiasi governo libico sarebbe definito «rappresentativo» e avrebbe l’attestato di «democratico». Sta al popolo libico conquistare il proprio futuro di democrazia e indipendenza.

    il manifesto, 13 marzo 2011

    THE MURDER OF THE IRAQI EDUCATION

    (Bert De Belder, coordinator of Intal and Medical Aid For the Third World)

    Openingszitting van het Irak-seminarie

     

    From March 9 to 11 a prestigious international seminar on education in Iraq in time of war and occupation took place in Ghent University. Organised by the BRussells Tribunal and the Research Center for the Middle East and North Africa from the Ghent University (MENARG), this initiative brought together up to 200 Iraqi and international experts on education and culture, and activists from all over the world.

    Prof. Sami Zemni of Ghent University outlined at the opening session a very bleak picture of education in Iraq. A recent UNESCO report states that five of the 30 million Iraqis today are illiterate – even though the country in 1982 from the same UNESCO had received a prize for eradicating illiteracy! 40% of Iraqi children leave school at an early age because of the war: they must work to increase family income, or they are displaced with their families, or it’s not safe for them to go to school. More than 400 academics have been murdered in a systematic campaign.

    U.S. officials like Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defense Secretary) called this unashamedly a policy of “state ending”, the blunt destruction of each state they target. This policy also resulted into a lamentable state of public services: electricity, sewerage, water supply. Health care is a catastrophe. Prof. Saad Naji Jawad (Baghdad University) gave the audience some staggering figures. In a recently released report from the Iraqi Health Ministry it is said that since the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 between 8000 and 9000 doctors have fled the country. More than 2000 doctors have been murdered.

    A forgotten scandal

    Hans von Sponeck was appointed in October 1998 as United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, at that time suffering heavily under Western imposed sanctions. In protest, he resigned in February 2000, and since then he has been very active as an author, speaker, professor and activist against the occupation of Iraq. Hans von Sponeck called the situation in Iraq a “forgotten international scandal “, and stressed that “all elements of international law as it has developed over 150 years, have been violated.” Eight years of war and destruction have turned Iraq into “the largest garbage belt in the world” with masses of destroyed ordnance, unexploded ordnance and mine fields. And the country seems to have also thrown the education of its people in the dustbin. Von Sponeck cited an Oxfam report: “92% of Iraqi children are suffering from learning difficulties.”

    The former UN chief blamed the United States and Britain for this disastrous situation, but underlined that we all have a responsibility not to forget Iraq. Also Saad Naji Sawad emphasized to move beyond criticism, and to suggest also solutions and take action.

    And that is exactly what the BRussells Tribunal is doing for many years with brio. In this case defending the Iraqi education with a Ghent Charter in defence of Iraqi academia, immediately signed by the rectors of five Belgian universities, and a string of national and international personalities.

    An Arab revolt, also in occupied Iraq

    Like Cairo (Egypt) also Baghdad has its Tahrir Square. On Friday, March 4, 10.000 to 12,000 people protested in the streets against corruption and repression of the Al Maliki government. Yahya Al-Kubaisa is a young Iraqi professor in Amman (Jordan), but he follows events in his country closely. He tells me that the popular uprising in Iraq is unique, “the most important qualitative change in Iraq since 2003”. And like a real professor, he systematically identifies the reasons for it:

    “1. It is the first time that the younger Iraqi generations are on the streets.

    2. The movement is nationwide. The whole country expresses the same demands, aimed against the national government. That goes against the sectarian image and efforts in trying to dividing Iraq along sectarian lines.

    3. Protests take place throughout Iraq, in 16 of the 18 Governorate (provinces, ed).

    And 4. Actually it’s the first time since the ’60s that you can speak of spontaneous and peaceful civilian demonstrations.”

    I ask about the demands of the demonstrators, and they appear to be strikingly parallel to that in Tunisia or Egypt. Yahya Al Kubaisi: “I would rank the demands in four categories. There are slogans for better public services (water, electricity, health care). The demonstrators are also carrying slogans against widespread corruption. People want more jobs. And finally, the protesters want more freedom and are opposed to violations of human rights. These demands are not necessarily present everywhere at the same time or location. And out of cautiousness they are not packaged as demands for the fall of the regime, but for the “reform” of the regime. “

    Original article: http://www.intal.be/nl/article/de-moord-op-het-iraakse-onderwijs-internationaal-aangeklaagd-gent, translated by Dirk Adriaensens, member of the BRussells Tribunal executive Committee.

    “This is a counter-revolution at work,” said the computer engineer Khaled S, one of many thousands who protested on Friday in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square. He was holding a placard with a warning for the army. “We will not allow a return to the dark times before the Revolution. The power of the state security forces and the NDP must finally be broken. What has happened so far is completely insufficient.”

    Many of the demonstrators on Friday calling for a realisation of the demands of the revolution and for unity between Muslims and Christians shared Khaled’s concerns.

    Two teenagers who spoke with the WSWS said, “We are dissatisfied with the new government. The proposals for constitutional amendments are a joke. We do not want a revision of the old constitution, but rather one which is new and genuinely democratic.”

    Both also called for the immediate dissolution of the national security, saying, “These forces are now trying to stir up hatred between Muslims and Christians. But we are brothers; we all have Christian and Muslim friends.”

    Another protester pointed to the counter-revolutionary role of the army. “The army cleared Tahrir Square on Wednesday using the services of violent thugs,” he said. “Peaceful protesters were detained and tortured in the Egyptian Museum.”

    Another young person said: “The incitement of violence and chaos once again seems to be the last card of the regime. They want to create conditions where they can bring the police back onto the streets.”

    In recent days, the old regime had resorted to terror and violence in order to sow divisions between Muslims and Christians and drive a wedge between sections of the population. Ten days ago a church in Helwan, a suburb south of Cairo, was burned down. Afterwards, the Coptic Christian minority protested in different regions in Cairo, demanding the reconstruction of the church and equal rights. Many Muslims joined the protests, including one held in front of the state television building.

    Violent clashes between Christians and Muslims erupted on Tuesday night. Radical Salafis (fundamentalist Muslims) attacked a predominantly working-class neighbourhood inhabited by Copts in Moqattam Cairo. Thirteen people were killed and 165 were injured in the fierce fighting.

    Mounir Megahd, a spokesperson for Egyptians Against Discrimination, says it’s likely the State Security apparatus has orchestrated the clashes.

    “Recent reports released have shown the close ties between the state security apparatus and the Salafist movement,” he adds. “It has been reported that state security has used them to bomb the Two Saints Church in Alexandria” (on the first of January). This is evidence, he says, that state security has infiltrated the Salafist movement and is using them now in their attempt to foment a counter-revolution.

    On March 9, new Prime Minister Essam Sharaf also announced in a television interview that the country faced a “counterrevolution”. “The government confirms that what is going on is organised and systematic. Unfortunately there are people who are attempting to destroy state structures.” Later in the interview Sharaf sought to pose as the conscience of the revolution, declaring it was now necessary to take measures to protect this “pure revolution.”

    It is not clear to what extent Sharaf is behind the most criminal excesses of the counter-revolution, but as a former member of the NDP and former minister for Mubarak he is definitely connected. The Egyptian bourgeoisie is now using the chaos which it unleashed in order to mobilize the police and military to end the protests which peaked the last weekend in the attack on the state security headquarters, as well as further strikes and student protests in the universities.

    On March 16 the Egyptian stock exchange is due to open again, for the first time since Mubarak’s ouster, and the aim of Sharaf and the military is to use every possible means to pacify the country. Sharaf has urged the population to co-operate with, and respect the police. Police officers have been a rare sight on Egyptian streets since the violent confrontations on Friday, January 28, the so-called Day of Rage, when protesters overran the despised security forces.

    The Egyptian masses, and especially the youth, oppose any return of the brutal police forces that terrorised them for decades. Only last summer, Khaled Said, an Egyptian youth from Alexandria, was tortured to death by the police. Hundreds of people were killed in the course of the revolution. According to the group “Front to Defend Egypt’s protesters,” the total number of victims is 686, and this figure is expected to rise. Most of the deaths took place on the Day of Rage when police intervened with enormous brutality against demonstrators.

    An end to the massive police violence of the Mubarak regime was one of the main aims of the revolution. When Sharaf now declares that “The police establishment is the most significant element in the mechanism of the state,” this speaks volumes about the character of the post-Mubarak regime.

    In his book State and Revolution Lenin declared that the army and the police were “The main tools for the exercise of state power” and exclusively served the class interests of the bourgeoisie. His thesis has been fully confirmed just over a month following the Egyptian Revolution.

    On Wednesday, thugs armed with machetes and stones once again attacked the peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square. Rather than protect the protesters the military lined up with the attackers and used the opportunity to forcefully dismantle the tents set up by protesters.

    According to reports, on the previous evening the military had lined up alongside such thugs to attack the Copts. An eyewitness told The Daily News Egypt that the thugs had attacked “from the tanks of the army.” When the priest at the funeral for the dead thanked military officers for ensuring the safety of Egyptians, mourners responded with angry cries directed against the military.

    The events of the last week in Egypt are reminiscent of the early days of the Egyptian Revolution when the Mubarak regime used secret service agents and goons to cause chaos. The Egyptian daily Al Ahram recently published an inquiry into the violent events and cited a high-ranking security expert in the army, who preferred to stay anonymous. He declared that it was the NDP and members of the old regime who planned the attack to make the revolution fail. “They wanted to destroy and eliminate; it was part of their counter revolution strategy,” he said. The expert pointed out that the fact that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces released a statement just hours before the battle asking protesters to evacuate Tahrir Square is suspicious.

    The events and revelations in recent days has led to growing suspicion of the role played by the army on the part of Egyptian workers and young people. Conflicting class interests are increasingly becoming apparent. For workers and youth intent on wiping out the roots of the old regime, and eliminating social inequality and unemployment, the revolution has just begun. For the Egyptian bourgeoisie and the military it is already over, and now all layers of the Egyptian ruling class now more or less uncritically support the policies of Sharaf and the military.

    Abdel Monem Abul Fottouh, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, made clear to the daily The Egyptian Gazette that the group fully supports the course of Sharaf: “The transitional phase is very important because it will determine the future of our nation. Therefore, the security forces should remain resolute and ready to help the nation.” The Muslim Brotherhood also supports the constitutional amendments proposed by the Sharaf and the military leadership.

    On March 19 there will be a vote on a number of constitutional amendments. These are a purely tactical manoeuvre designed to give the appearance of an incipient process of democratisation. In fact these amendments do little to alter the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the Constitution of 1971. Surveys show that a large majority of the population are thoroughly sceptical of the proposed amendments and reject the changes.

    Other representatives of the ruling class of Egypt such as Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei have spoken out against the proposed constitutional amendments, but basically support the course of Sharaf and the military.

    ElBaradei’s National Alliance for Change welcomed the decision of the Supreme Military Council to install Sharaf as the new prime minister after his predecessor Ahmed Shafiq was forced to resign following mass protests. Prior to this decision talks had taken place between the military, ElBaradei and Amr Moussa on how to proceed. Meanwhile, both men have announced they will stand in the proposed presidential elections.

    The Egyptian bourgeoisie is closing its ranks in order to suppress the revolutionary movement of workers and youth in Egypt and, like Mubarak regime, has demonstrated it is quite prepared to use violence against peaceful demonstrators.

    The events of the last weeks and days have shown that revolutionary workers and youth in Egypt can only realise their demands by establishing their complete independence of all bourgeois forces and take up the struggle for power. Only a government of the workers themselves would implement the requirements of the majority of the population, break with the henchmen of the old regime and establish a society based on genuine democracy and social equality.

    Arab League Backs No-Fly Zone in Libya

    March 14th, 2011 by Ann Talbot

    The decision of the Arab League on Saturday to call for a no-fly zone in Libya and recognize the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council is a significant step toward direct US-NATO intervention to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and install an even more subservient client regime.

    The Arab bourgeois governments acted with obedience and alacrity to calls from the Obama administration, Britain, France and NATO for the “Arab world” to provide a fig leaf of regional support for imperialist intervention. Their decision on Saturday precedes a meeting of NATO ministers Tuesday where the issue of a no-fly zone will be discussed.

    The 22-member organization of Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa (minus Libya, which has been suspended and whose delegates were refused admission to Saturday’s meeting in Cairo), by following France’s lead in recognizing the Libyan opposition leadership, assured a deepening of civil war in the country. The meeting declared that Libya had “lost its sovereignty” as a result of Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians, implicitly giving the US and NATO a blank check to carry out regime change.

    This corresponds to the plans of the US and its allies to use Gaddafi’s atrocities and the expanding civil war as the pretext for turning Libya into a military and political base for suppressing the ongoing mass movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan and other countries, bolstering the imperialist-backed dictatorships, and strengthening the militaries upon which both capitalist rule and imperialist control of vital energy resources are based.

    The World Socialist Web Site supports the struggle of the Libyan masses to overthrow Gaddafi’s right-wing bourgeois dictatorship. But we emphatically oppose imperialist intervention and Gaddafi’s overthrow at the hands of the US and NATO, rather than by the oppressed masses under the leadership of the working class. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, a US-led intervention will be directed against the population, which will soon become the target of American-made missiles and bombs.

    The Arab League’s action is an exercise in hypocrisy on a colossal scale. The resolution urging the United Nations Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone describes such action as a humanitarian measure and rejects “military intervention.” This is a transparent fraud, as everyone knows the imposition of a no-fly zone involves the bombing of Libyan air defenses and other installations—that is, an act of war.

    All of the 21 regimes involved in the decision are right-wing dictatorships that are hated by their own people and rule by means of ferocious repression. They signed on to the imperialist push for military intervention for their own reactionary reasons. First, they want to firm up the support for their rule by the US and the other powers because of the mounting threat from below. Second, they all seek by lining up behind the US against Gaddafi to further their own regional interests.

    Most of the leaders of the opposition National Transitional Council only weeks ago were part of the Gaddafi regime. They have gone out of their way to reassure the West that they will uphold all of the lucrative contracts and concessions granted by Gaddafi to the big oil companies.

    Of the 22 Arab League nation states, at least 13, besides Libya, have been attacking, arresting, killing and wounding their own protesting people over the past two months. The list includes Algeria, Bahrain (which fired rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds on Sunday), Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia (which blocked protests Friday with a massive police presence and preemptive arrests), Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. The latter’s delegate was voting to invite imperialist intervention ostensibly to protect Libyan civilians even as his own government was using live ammunition to kill and wound hundreds of protesters in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

    Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, foreign minister to Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said, announced the decision at a press conference following the meeting. In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa acknowledged he did not know “how nor who [would] impose this zone.” Effectively giving the US and NATO a free hand, he said, “That remains to be seen.”

    Mousa added, “The Arab League can also play a role. That is what I will recommend.” This corresponds to statements from Western governments demanding that the Arab regimes be involved in the no-fly zone and other possible military actions.

    This suggests that the US plans to use the Libyan intervention to more closely integrate the militaries of Egypt and other Arab States and bolster their strength in advance of the inevitable confrontation with the Arab working class.

    Mousa, it should be pointed out, was a long-time functionary of Mubarak, serving as his foreign minister from 1991 to 2001 and thereafter holding other key diplomatic positions.

    Meanwhile, the Obama administration is moving closer to formally recognizing the National Transitional Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to meet today with Mahmoud Jibril, who is in charge of foreign affairs for the opposition council, in Paris. Jibril was received last Thursday by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    Clinton said she would also meet the Libyan opposition during her trip this week to Egypt and Tunisia. On Friday, Obama announced that the US would name a special envoy to deal with the opposition leadership.

    Jibril and Ali Aujali, the Libyan ambassador to the United States, who defected to the opposition several weeks ago, were received Friday at the US Treasury Department, where they discussed the Libyan assets frozen under new US sanctions. They also met at the State Department with Jeffery Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.

    “Our main priority is the no-fly zone,” Aujali said.

    Reuters news service on Friday cited José Ignacio Torreblanca, the head of the Madrid office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, on a strategy to counter opposition from China and Russia to a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone.

    Reuters wrote, “If other countries join France, which Torreblanca expects, momentum could build to allow rebel leaders to directly request a no-fly zone, which would make it a lot easier for NATO and the Security Council. ‘If Benghazi authorities get more recognition, and they request a no-fly zone directly, then China and Russia will have to abstain,’ Torreblanca said.”

    It is, in any event, increasingly likely that the US and NATO will go ahead with a no-fly zone even without UN sanction, citing the Arab regimes’ endorsement as proof of support in the region. In reality, there is a great deal of opposition to US intervention among the masses of North Africa and the Middle East.

    The Washington Post on Sunday reported on an anti-Gaddafi demonstration of Egyptians and Libyans outside the Arab League’s headquarters on Tahrir Square in Cairo. The protesters carried signs, the Post wrote, describing the Libyan dictator as a “genocidal butcher.”

    “But they also expressed wariness over the potential for Western military involvement in the conflict…. ‘We are not calling for American intervention,’ said Omar Mohamed, a 21-year-old student.”

    Japan: Anti-Nuclear Groups Sound New Nuclear Danger Warnings

    March 14th, 2011 by Suvendrini Kakuchi

    Heightened tension on Saturday after a blast at a nuclear facility in Fukushima, 150 kilometres north of Tokyo, eased off after the government reported that the danger had been overstated.

    But anti-nuclear experts continued to express concern. “There are many areas that remain unclear in the government’s explanation, which is why we cannot accept that the coast is clear,” Professor Hiroaki Koiwa from the Research Reactor Institute at the national Kyoto University told IPS.

    Television footage Saturday afternoon showed a badly scarred Fukushima Number 1 nuclear power plant with white smoke plumes coming out of building. The ceiling and walls were damaged. The building is a part of four reactors that account for 18 percent of Japan’s nuclear power capacity.

    The 8.8 magnitude earthquake on Friday forced the automatic closedown of the nuclear power plant, leading to the build-up of radioactive hydrogen inside the turbine building.

    The Tokyo Electric Power Company ( TEPCO) which owns the nuclear plant had to release a large amount of hydrogen pressure in the face of reports of a possible core meltdown in the building.

    Japanese media quoting experts pointed to widespread radiation contamination if there would be a core meltdown in the plant. People in the area were advised to wear masks.

    But TEPCO and the Japan Nuclear Safety Commission reported that earlier estimates of radioactivity of around 1,000 times the normal level, had been overstated.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told media that TEPCO had successfully been able to release hydrogen pressure that had been building in the concrete containment structure, normally about 1.2 metres thick.

    “After the release of the hydrogen, TEPCO reported that radiation level has dropped to 75 siebel units, which is not dangerous to people,” he said. Internationally accepted human limits for tolerating radiation are set at 1000 seibel units annually.

    But Koike points out that if TEPCO released the hydrogen pressure using a power supply system to work the pump, what did the company then mean when it reported the shutdown of the facility following the earthquake.

    Researchers also question the legitimacy of the latest radioactivity leakage figures stated by TEPCO, pointing out that wind direction plays a key role in setting standards.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    Hideki Ban, a leading anti-nuclear power activist and head of the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Centre, said at a press conference Saturday evening that the shocking damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant points to the need for continued careful monitoring for radioactive leaks, despite government and TEPCO attempts at defusing tension.

    “The Fukushima plant explosion symbolises the terrible threat to human safety in Japan that is highly vulnerable to earthquakes. This is another opportunity to stop this dangerous nuclear power build-up,” he told media.

    With some press reports hinting at widespread leaks leading as far as Tokyo, the public have been shopping hard for basic food items, leading many supermarkets to report cleaned shelves.

    Ban contends hydrogen pressure is rising in the turbine building and the key to containing a major radiation leak is now in the hands of TEPCO that must work hard to release the pressure.

    Anti-nuclear power activists also point out that the Fukushima plant was built in the 1970s, and does not contain the superior modern safety standards of today.

    One-third of power in Japan is nuclear. Key nuclear reactors are located in seismic areas. Accidents have plagued the plants over the last decade, leading to deaths among workers and several evacuations.

    Libya welcomes African Union panel, slams Arab League

    March 14th, 2011 by Global Research

    Libya said on Sunday it welcomed an African Union panel formed to try to end the Libyan crisis and said it would facilitate its work, while condemning an Arab League resolution calling for a no-fly zone over the country.

    “The Libyan authorities will take all steps to welcome its members and offer all facilities for the accomplishment of the mission,” Libyan state television said, quoting an official statement on the AU mission.

    The African Union announced on Friday the leaders of South Africa, Uganda, Mauritania, Congo and Mali would form a panel that will travel to Libya shortly.

    At a meeting of heads of state on Thursday, the head of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, Ramtane Lamamra, said events in the north African country needed “urgent African action” to bring about an end to the hostilities.

    The AU has rejected foreign military intervention in Libya, where forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi are battling with rebels seeking to end his four decades in power.

    The Arab League on Saturday called on the U.N. Security Council to impose a no fly-zone on Libya and said Gaddafi’s government had lost legitimacy because of what it described as its crimes against the Libyan people.

    The Arab League resolution was “based on false claims and clear distortion of the facts”, Libyan state television said.

    The Arab League council should have decided to send a fact-finding mission instead, it said, describing its resolution as an “unacceptable departure” from the Arab League’s charter.

    Tsunami wreak $50 million damage in California

    March 14th, 2011 by Global Research

     The tsunami that thrashed California’s coast, triggered by the devastating earthquake in Japan, has caused damage totalling about $50 million in the west coast state. Experts have said this estimate is “preliminary” and costs will go up in the coming days.

    “It (the cost) is going to go up. This is an expensive event for California,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Humboldt Earthquake Education Centre director Lori Dengler as saying. The two ports in the state that were hit hardest were Crescent City and Santa Cruz.

    Note: this article is from February 25, 2011.

    If you want to know where the especially harsh winter weather came from, look no further than Russia – and prepare to pay more for your flour and coal this year.

    Volcanoes on the country’s eastern seaboard of Kamchatka have been unusually active for the last six months. The dust they threw up diverted winds in the Arctic, pushing cold air over Europe and North America and causing the unusually cold winter, say scientists.

    This string of volcanoes, 29 of which are active, could cause more problems this year, depressing harvests around the globe just as food prices soar, and culminating in a second freezing winter.

    The eruptions have come at the worst possible time. The Pacific Ocean has already been cooled by the “La Niña” ocean/atmosphere phenomenon, which is particularly severe this year. At the same time the Atlantic Ocean is warmer than usual.

    Erste Bank said the combination of these factors means the weather forecast for the first quarter of 2011 is extreme, and will hit both the agricultural and mining sectors, sending spiking prices up even faster. “These climatic conditions reduce the outlooks of harvests for agricultural commodities and prevent the mining of commodities like coal. The extreme weather will probably culminate in the second quarter of 2011 . . . the prices of commodities will be influenced . . . then [we will see] an acceleration of consumer inflation.”

    The combination shifts wind patterns around the world, but the spanner in the works has been the Kamchatka volcanoes, according to US climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss’s acclaimed Browning Newsletter: “Kamchatka tends to be active but recently it has been ridiculous! Since late November, Kizimen, Sheveluch, Karymsky, and Kliuchevskoi have been erupting almost constantly.”

    Volcanic ash screens out the sun, cooling the air below. This lowers air pressures, which changes wind patterns, especially in the Arctic. And, “the cold air normally trapped around the North Pole surges south”. The upshot has been some bizarre weather. The UK was colder than Russia on Christmas Day and New York was under heavy snow, while Moscow had icy rain as temperatures hovered around zero.

    The snap has already impacted agriculture. Australia’s wheat crop was down by 10pc in December – the worst fall in 100 years – and Russia’s agriculture ministry is forecasting a mediocre harvest. Add in last season’s severe drought in Argentina, floods in Brazil and Venezuela, odd weather in agricultural parts of China, and food prices have soared.

    What happens throughout the rest of this year will 
depend entirely on the  volcanic activity, says Ms Browning-Garriss, which is impossible to predict.

    Southwestern Japanese volcano Erupts

    March 14th, 2011 by Global Research

     A volcano in southwestern Japan erupted Sunday after nearly two weeks of relative silence, sending ash and rocks up to four kilometers (two and a half miles) into the air, a local official said.

    It was not immediately clear if the eruption was a direct result of the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked northern areas Friday.

    The 1,421-meter (4,689-feet) Shinmoedake volcano in the Kirishima range saw its first major eruption for 52 years in January. There had not been any major activity at the site since March 1.

    Authorities have maintained a volcano warning at a level of three out of five, restricting access to the entire mountain.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on THE NUCEAR DANGER: NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    Famed South Carolina naturalist and Chernobyl expert Rudy Mancke said Sunday that Japan’s nuclear situation could become a historic catastrophe if early reports of meltdowns turn out to be true — depending on the severity of the meltdowns.

    “If they are melting down and being released into the air, they are going to become a radioactive volcano,” said Mancke, 65, the University of South Carolina’s naturalist in residence who has studied animal and plant life around Chernobyl for more than two decades.

    Mancke is one of several S.C. experts featured on an upcoming three-part ETV series on the 25-year aftermath of Chernobyl, whose April 1986 meltdown up until now was regarded as history’s greatest nuclear reactor disaster.

    Mancke has visited Chernobyl and its environs four times and in 2003 made a half-hour ETV show on what has happened to plants and animals around Chernobyl since the 1986 disaster.

    Contamination from Chernobyl resulted in the relocation of some 336,000 people and a 30-kilometer wide exclusion zone in which no humans are supposed to live. Some 4,000 deaths from cancer will eventually occur because of the accident, scientists predict.

    The full extent of Japan’s situation, in which four nuclear reactors were damaged, is not yet known. However, early reports say safety and containment features on Japan’s reactors are superior to those at Chernobyl.

    A key difference, said Mancke, between the Japanese nuclear reactor failures and those at Chernobyl, is that Chernobyl’s were caused by a series of easily avoidable human errors, while it was a natural event that shook Japan’s reactors.

    In Chernobyl, the then-Soviet government at first refused to acknowledge a problem and warn people of the dangers. In Japan, said Mancke, although the power companies that operate the reactors haven’t released a definitive account, “at least they are admitting there’s a problem.”

    The full impact of radioactive contamination in Japan will depend on exactly what types of radioactive particles are released and where they land. “It depends on what comes out of there, whether it’s cesium or strontium, or radioactive iodine, or plutonium — which is the worst; it’s got a half life of 25 years. If you are exposed to that, you’re dead,” Mancke said. “Radiation can cause leukemia and other abnormal growth in the body, tumors, cancers.”

    Plants and animals will survive around the damaged nuclear plants. “Nature just keeps sending in the troops,” Mancke said. In Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, “birds fly back in; moose walk into Chernobyl.”

    As a lecturer and teacher, Mancke is noted for his sense of wonder about the world around us.

    Characteristically, he noted, “Isn’t this amazing this is happening a month before the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl?”

    First Japanese Geological Earthquake Report

    March 14th, 2011 by Global Research


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm. Event organized by Global Research. Click for details

    Note: This is a rush version, which may include translation errors.

    A massive earthquake of magnitude of 9.0 occurred Friday 11 March, off the Pacific coast of the northeastern part of the Japanese main land (Tohoku Region), causing devastating damages. The Japan Meteorological Agency named this earthquake “The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake.”

    Earthquake Summary

    Date and Time:
    11 March 2011 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC)

    Magnitude:
    9.0 (interim value; the largest earthquake recorded in Japan)

    Hypocenter:
    130km off the Pacific coast of Tohoku region, from Iwate to Ibaraki Prefectures, 24km depth

    Mechanism:
    Reverse fault type with WNW-ESE compressional axis (by CMT analysis)

    JMA Seismic Intensity:

    7 (Max)
    Kurihara City of Miyagi Prefecture

    6+
    28 cities and towns (including Wakuya Town, Tome City, Osaki City, Natori City) in Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Tochigi Prefectures

    6- or weaker
    Observed nationwide from Hokkaido to Kyushu

    Tsunami Warnings and Advisories:
    Please refer to real-time information at http://www.jma.go.jp/en/tsunami/

    Observed Tsunami

        High tsunamis were observed on the Pacific coast from Hokkaido to Okinawa. In addition, tsunami were also observed on the coasts of the Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, and East China Sea.

    Aftershocks

    • Number of strong aftershocks have occurred in the area off the coast of Iwate, Miyagi, and Ibaraki Prefectures, which is considered as the source region of the main shock. The area is so large that, when compared to past cases, the activity of aftershocks is very high.
    • JMA Seismic Intensity of aftershocks will often be 5- or heavier, and it may sometimes reach 6- or 6+.
    • Tsunami may occur after a strong aftershock. Be cautious when a tsunami warning or advisory is issued.
    • Estimating from the occurrence of aftershock so far, the possibility of aftershocks with magnitude of 7 or higher is 70% until 10 a.m., 16 March, followed by 50% until 10 a.m., 19 March.

    Notes on Disaster Prevention

    • Be alerted on the coast with tsunami advisories.
    • Stay away from coasts where tsunami warnings have just turned to be advisories.
    • Many places could be dangerous after tsunami and earthquakes. Be cautious and ensure adequate safety on your way back from the evacuation center, by following instructions and directions of the local emergency officers.
    • In the area where strong shaking was observed, keep vigilant to strong aftershocks which may cause landslides and house collapses.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on THE NUCEAR DANGER: NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY DAILY UPDATE

    Sunday, March 13, 2011 7:16 AM HST (Sunday, March 13, 2011 17:16 UTC)

    This report on the status of Kilauea volcanic activity, in addition to maps, photos, and Webcam images (available using the menu bar above), was prepared by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park status can be found at http://www.nps.gov/havo/ or 985-6000. Hawai`i County Kalapana Viewing Area status can be found at 961-8093. All times are Hawai`i Standard Time.

    KILAUEA VOLCANO (CAVW #1302-01-)
    19°25’16″ N 155°17’13″ W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
    Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
    Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

    Activity Summary for past 24 hours: The switch to DI inflation occurred at the summit last night; no active lava was visible on Kilauea volcano. Summit seismicity continued decreasing; SO2 emissions remain elevated from summit and east rift zone vents.

    Past 24 hours at Kilauea summit: The summit tiltmeter network recorded the switch to DI inflation at about 7:40 pm last night, almost 56 hours after the start of DI deflation. Seismic tremor levels continued to decrease but remain at elevated values; a slight decrease accompanied the switch to DI inflation. The summit GPS network recorded about 12 cm (4.7 in) of contraction across and at least 13 cm (5.1 in) of subsidence within the summit caldera between March 5 and March 8; the rates of summit deformation slowed after the 8th.

    Four earthquakes were strong enough to be located within Kilauea volcano – one within the upper east rift zone and three on south flank faults.

    No glow was visible in the webcam overnight. The summit gas plume is moving to the southwest this morning. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 700 tonnes/day on March 12, 2011.

    Past 24 hours at the middle east rift zone vents: The Pu`u `O`o and TEB vents remained inactive and Kamoamoa fissure within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park remained paused with no glow visible in any webcams overnight.

    The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 350 tonnes/day on March 10, 2011 from all east rift zone sources – a value similar to those measured for the months before March 5 but a significant decrease from the values of 10,00-11,000 tonnes/day measured on March 7 and 8.

    The tiltmeter on the north flank of Pu`u `O`o recorded continued, but slowing, deflation (-1.7 microradians/day) which flattened out just before 6 am this morning; there was no discernible tilt response at Pu`u `O`o to the ongoing DI event at the summit confirming that the two were no longer hydraulically connected. Seismic tremor levels were below those measured before March 5, 2011.

    Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park message: In response to the current volcanic conditions, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has closed some areas of the park. Check the latest information at http://www.nps.gov/havo/closed_areas.htm.

    Hazard Summary: East rift vents and flow field – near-vent areas could erupt or collapse without warning; potentially-lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide gas are present within 1 km downwind of vent areas. Kilauea Crater – explosive events are capable of ejecting rocks and lava several hundred meters (yards) from the Halema`uma`u vent; ash and potentially-lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide are present within 1 km downwind.

    Maps, photos, Webcam views, and other information about Kilauea Volcano are available at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php. A daily update summary is available by phone at (808) 967-8862.

    A map with details of earthquakes located within the past two weeks can be found at http://tux.wr.usgs.gov/

    A definition of alert levels can be found at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/activity/alertsystem/index.php

    Definitions of Terms Used:

    methane blast: when lava flows advance through a vegetated area, small explosions sometimes occur due to the ignition of methane gas, produced by lava-cooked plants and trapped beneath the ground surface. Injuries can occur as the result of airborne rock fragments.

    rootless shields: a small mound of lava, located directly over an active lava tube that is built by repeated overflows from its top. These are rootless because they are fed from a lava tube and not from a deeper source (vent). The upper part of the TEB lava tube has numerous rootless shields built from the vent down to about the 1,500 ft elevation.

    mauka, makai: Hawaiian terms for directions relative to the coast – makai (toward the coast) and mauka (away from the coast).

    composite seismic events: is a seismic signal with multiple distinct phases that has been recorded frequently at HVO from the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent area since its explosive opening in March, 2008. For the composite events recorded at Halema`uma`u, we typically see an initial high frequency vibration lasting for a few seconds that have been correlated with rockfalls. This is followed by about 30 seconds of a long-period (LP) oscillation with an approximately 2- to 3-second period. The final phase of the signal is several minutes of a very-long-period (VLP) oscillation with an approximately 25- to 30-second period. The LP signals are interpreted to be from the uppermost portion of the conduit and VLP signals are interpreted to be fluid passing through a deep constriction in the conduit through which lava rises to the pond surface we see in the webcam.

    high lava stands: Starting in June, 2010, lava within the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent rises 20-40 m over an interval of 10s of minutes, remains high for up to several hours, and then drains back to its previous level, while vigorously degassing, in several minutes. During the high stand, the gas plume becomes wispy, gas emissions halve in rate, and seismic tremor drops to very low levels; the high stand is followed by a strong seismic tremor burst, lasting several minutes, accompanying the draining. Many, but not all, high lava stands start with a rockfall event, some accompanied by VLP seismic energy.

    Inflating surface flow: is a lava flow that may not advance but continues to thicken as its top and bottom crusts grow around a continuously replenished molten interior. This can be visualized as a large flat bladder of molten lava that could burst along its edges at any time.

    Hakuma horst: a horst is an section of earth that is raised between two nearly parallel faults so that its surface is higher than the surrounding ground. The Hakuma horst is located along the coast west of Kalapana; it was responsible for diverting lava through Kalapana village in 1990 and appears to be having a similar influence on lava flows in 2010.

    Halema`uma`u Overlook vent: has been difficult to describe concisely. The vent is actually a pit, or crater, in the floor of the larger Halema`uma`u Crater in the floor of the larger Kilauea caldera or crater – a crater within a crater within a crater. It is easiest to describe as a pit inset within the floor of a crater within a caldera. The pit is about 140 m (460 ft) in diameter at the Halema`uma`u Crater floor, is about 50 m in diameter at the pit floor, and is about 200 m (660 ft) deep. As of November, 2009, a lava pond surface has been visible in a hole in the floor of this pit.

    glow: light from an unseen source; indirect light.

    incandescence: the production of visible light from a hot surface. The term also refers to the light emitted from a hot surface. The color of the light is related to surface temperature. Some surfaces can display dull red incandescence at temperatures as low as 430 degrees Centigrade (806 degrees Fahrenheit). By contrast, molten lava displays bright orange to orange-yellow light from surfaces that are hotter than 900 degrees C (1,650 degrees F).

    CD: Hawai`i County Civil Defense

    tonne: metric unit equal to 1,000 kilograms, 2,204.6 lbs, or 1.1 English tons.

    tephra: all material deposited by fallout from an eruption-related plume, regardless of size.

    ash: tephra less than 2 mm (5/64 inches) in size.

    TEB: Thanksgiving Eve Breakout, the designation used for lava flows that started with a breakout on November 21, 2007.

    microradian: a measure of angle equivalent to 0.000057 degrees.

    DI tilt event: DI is an abbreviation for ‘deflation-inflation’ and describes a volcanic event of uncertain significance. DI events are recorded by tiltmeters at Kilauea summit as an abrupt deflation of up to a few microradians in magnitude lasting several hours to 2-3 days followed by an abrupt inflation of approximately equal magnitude. The tilt events are usually accompanied by an increase in summit tremor during the deflation phase. A careful analysis of these events suggests that they may be related to changes in magma supply to a storage reservoir at less than 1 km depth, just east of Halema`uma`u crater. Usually, though not always, these changes propagate through the magma conduit from the summit to the east rift eruption site, as many of the DI events at Kilauea summit are also recorded at a tiltmeter at Pu`u `O`o, delayed by several hours. DI events often correlate with lava pulses and/or pauses in the eruption at the Pu`u `O`o/July 21/TEB vents.

    More definitions with photos can be found at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/images/pglossary/index.php.

    The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawai`i.

    HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY DAILY UPDATE
    Saturday, March 12, 2011 7:48 AM HST (Saturday, March 12, 2011 17:48 UTC)

    This report on the status of Kilauea volcanic activity, in addition to maps, photos, and Webcam images (available using the menu bar above), was prepared by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park status can be found at http://www.nps.gov/havo/ or 985-6000. Hawai`i County Kalapana Viewing Area status can be found at 961-8093. All times are Hawai`i Standard Time.

    KILAUEA VOLCANO (CAVW #1302-01-)
    19°25’16″ N 155°17’13″ W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
    Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
    Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

    Activity Summary for past 24 hours: There was no active lava visible on Kilauea volcano. On the east rift zone, the March 5 Kamoamoa fissure eruption remained paused. At the summit, the bottom of the deep vent inset within the east wall of Halema`uma`u Crater was covered with rubble and lava was no longer visible. Summit seismicity and sulfur dioxide emissions remained elevated.

    Past 24 hours at Kilauea summit: The bottom of the deep vent inset within the east wall of Halema`uma`u Crater was covered with rubble with occasional views of weak glow in the webcam and a few minor rim collapses overnight. The summit tiltmeter network recorded no significant ground tilting. Seismic tremor levels continued to decrease but remained at elevated values. Five earthquakes were strong enough to be located within Kilauea volcano – four west of Kalapana and one on south flank faults.

    The summit gas plume is moving to the southwest this morning. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 900 tonnes/day on March 11, 2011.

    Past 24 hours at the middle east rift zone vents: The Kamoamoa fissure within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park remained paused. The webcam showed several persistent glowing spots indicating residual heat but not activity.

    The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 350 tonnes/day on March 10, 2011 from all east rift zone sources.

    The tiltmeter on the north flank of Pu`u `O`o recorded continued deflation (-2.5 microradians/day). Seismic tremor levels have decreased to low values similar to or lower than those measured before March 5, 2011.

    Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park message: In response to the current volcanic conditions, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has closed some areas of the park. Check the latest information at http://www.nps.gov/havo/closed_areas.htm.

    Hazard Summary: East rift vents and flow field – near-vent areas could erupt or collapse without warning; potentially-lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide gas are present within 1 km downwind of vent areas. Kilauea Crater – explosive events are capable of ejecting rocks and lava several hundred meters (yards) from the Halema`uma`u vent; ash and potentially-lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide are present within 1 km downwind.

    Maps, photos, Webcam views, and other information about Kilauea Volcano are available at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php. A daily update summary is available by phone at (808) 967-8862.

    A map with details of earthquakes located within the past two weeks can be found at http://tux.wr.usgs.gov/

    A definition of alert levels can be found at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/activity/alertsystem/index.php

    Definitions of Terms Used:

    methane blast: when lava flows advance through a vegetated area, small explosions sometimes occur due to the ignition of methane gas, produced by lava-cooked plants and trapped beneath the ground surface. Injuries can occur as the result of airborne rock fragments.

    rootless shields: a small mound of lava, located directly over an active lava tube that is built by repeated overflows from its top. These are rootless because they are fed from a lava tube and not from a deeper source (vent). The upper part of the TEB lava tube has numerous rootless shields built from the vent down to about the 1,500 ft elevation.

    mauka, makai: Hawaiian terms for directions relative to the coast – makai (toward the coast) and mauka (away from the coast).

    composite seismic events: is a seismic signal with multiple distinct phases that has been recorded frequently at HVO from the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent area since its explosive opening in March, 2008. For the composite events recorded at Halema`uma`u, we typically see an initial high frequency vibration lasting for a few seconds that have been correlated with rockfalls. This is followed by about 30 seconds of a long-period (LP) oscillation with an approximately 2- to 3-second period. The final phase of the signal is several minutes of a very-long-period (VLP) oscillation with an approximately 25- to 30-second period. The LP signals are interpreted to be from the uppermost portion of the conduit and VLP signals are interpreted to be fluid passing through a deep constriction in the conduit through which lava rises to the pond surface we see in the webcam.

    high lava stands: Starting in June, 2010, lava within the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent rises 20-40 m over an interval of 10s of minutes, remains high for up to several hours, and then drains back to its previous level, while vigorously degassing, in several minutes. During the high stand, the gas plume becomes wispy, gas emissions halve in rate, and seismic tremor drops to very low levels; the high stand is followed by a strong seismic tremor burst, lasting several minutes, accompanying the draining. Many, but not all, high lava stands start with a rockfall event, some accompanied by VLP seismic energy.

    Inflating surface flow: is a lava flow that may not advance but continues to thicken as its top and bottom crusts grow around a continuously replenished molten interior. This can be visualized as a large flat bladder of molten lava that could burst along its edges at any time.

    Hakuma horst: a horst is an section of earth that is raised between two nearly parallel faults so that its surface is higher than the surrounding ground. The Hakuma horst is located along the coast west of Kalapana; it was responsible for diverting lava through Kalapana village in 1990 and appears to be having a similar influence on lava flows in 2010.

    Halema`uma`u Overlook vent: has been difficult to describe concisely. The vent is actually a pit, or crater, in the floor of the larger Halema`uma`u Crater in the floor of the larger Kilauea caldera or crater – a crater within a crater within a crater. It is easiest to describe as a pit inset within the floor of a crater within a caldera. The pit is about 140 m (460 ft) in diameter at the Halema`uma`u Crater floor, is about 50 m in diameter at the pit floor, and is about 200 m (660 ft) deep. As of November, 2009, a lava pond surface has been visible in a hole in the floor of this pit.

    glow: light from an unseen source; indirect light.

    incandescence: the production of visible light from a hot surface. The term also refers to the light emitted from a hot surface. The color of the light is related to surface temperature. Some surfaces can display dull red incandescence at temperatures as low as 430 degrees Centigrade (806 degrees Fahrenheit). By contrast, molten lava displays bright orange to orange-yellow light from surfaces that are hotter than 900 degrees C (1,650 degrees F).

    CD: Hawai`i County Civil Defense

    tonne: metric unit equal to 1,000 kilograms, 2,204.6 lbs, or 1.1 English tons.

    tephra: all material deposited by fallout from an eruption-related plume, regardless of size.

    ash: tephra less than 2 mm (5/64 inches) in size.

    TEB: Thanksgiving Eve Breakout, the designation used for lava flows that started with a breakout on November 21, 2007.

    microradian: a measure of angle equivalent to 0.000057 degrees.

    DI tilt event: DI is an abbreviation for ‘deflation-inflation’ and describes a volcanic event of uncertain significance. DI events are recorded by tiltmeters at Kilauea summit as an abrupt deflation of up to a few microradians in magnitude lasting several hours to 2-3 days followed by an abrupt inflation of approximately equal magnitude. The tilt events are usually accompanied by an increase in summit tremor during the deflation phase. A careful analysis of these events suggests that they may be related to changes in magma supply to a storage reservoir at less than 1 km depth, just east of Halema`uma`u crater. Usually, though not always, these changes propagate through the magma conduit from the summit to the east rift eruption site, as many of the DI events at Kilauea summit are also recorded at a tiltmeter at Pu`u `O`o, delayed by several hours. DI events often correlate with lava pulses and/or pauses in the eruption at the Pu`u `O`o/July 21/TEB vents.

    More definitions with photos can be found at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/images/pglossary/index.php.

    The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawai`i.

    Saudi military prepares to enter Bahrain

    March 14th, 2011 by Ben Quinn

    Saudi forces are preparing to intervene in neighbouring Bahrain, after a day of clashes between police and protesters who mounted the most serious challenge to the island’s royal family since demonstrations began a month ago.

    The Crown Prince of Bahrain is expected to formally invite security forces from Saudi Arabia into his country today, as part of a request for support from other members of the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council.

    Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday cut off Bahrain’s financial centre and drove back police trying to eject them from the capital’s central square, while protesters also clashed with government supporters on the campus of the main university.

    Amid the revolt Bahrain also faces a potential sectarian conflict between the ruling minority of Sunnis Muslims and a majority of Shia Muslims, around 70% of the kingdom’s 525,000 residents.

    The crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, said in a televised statement that Bahrain had “witnessed tragic events” during a month of unprecedented political unrest.

    Warning that “the right to security and safety is above all else”, he added: “Any legitimate claims must not be made at the expanse of security and stability.”

    The crown prince has also promised that national dialogue would look at increasing the power of Bahrain’s parliament, and that any deal could be put to nationwide referendum.

    However, some protesters have pressed their demands further to call for the toppling of the Sunni dynasty.

    The unrest is being closely watched in Saudi Arabia, where Shia are some 15% of the population.

    The secretary general of the Gulf Co-operation Council, Abdulrahman bin Hamad al-Attiya, expressed the “full solidarity with Bahrain’s leadership and people”, adding that “safeguarding security and stability in one country is a collective responsibility”.

    In an apparent reference to Iran, which Gulf Arab ruling elites fear may capitalise on an uprising by Shiites in Bahrain, he also expresssed “strong rejection of any foreign interference in the kingdom’s internal affairs, asserting that any acts aiming to destabilise the kingdom and sow dissension between its citizens represent a dangerous encroachment on the whole GCC security and stability.” Reports that the Saudi National Guard was poised to enter Bahrain were cited by the Foreign Office, alongside a recent increase in protests, as it changed its advice to advise British citizens against all travel to Bahrain.

    Earlier on Sunday, police moved in on Pearl Square, a site of occupation by members of Bahrain’s Shia majority, who are calling for an elected government and equality with Bahrain’s Sunnis.

    Witnesses said security forces surrounded the protesters’ tent compound, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at the activists in the largest effort to clear the square since a crackdown last month that left four dead after live ammunition was fired.

    Activists tried to stand their ground yesterday and chanted “Peaceful, peaceful” as the crowd swelled into thousands, with protesters streaming to the square to reinforce the activists’ lines, forcing the police to pull back by the early afternoon.

    At Bahrain University, Shia demonstrators and government supporters held competing protests that descended into violence when plainclothes pro-government backers and security forces forced students blocking the campus main gate to seek refuge in classrooms and lecture halls, the Associated Press reported.

    The latest demonstrations took place a day after the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, visited Bahrain and said that the Khalifa family must go beyond “baby steps” reform and enact substantial economic and political change.

    Our Time of Universal Deceit Needs An Orwell

    March 13th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

    If we were to be blessed with a 21st century George Orwell, he would coin a new “speak” to apply to “support the troops.” Would he call this “Deceptive Speak”? Or would he be more clever?

    The words certainly deserve an Orwellian name. The catch-phrase was rolled out the minute the war started, which makes one wonder about its public relations origin. Who can oppose supporting the troops, at least before we learned from WikiLeaks and Abu Ghraib of the intentional killing of civilians and torturing of whoever happened to be rounded up in the various sweeps? All for the fun and games of it.

    “Support the troops” originated in the public relations department of the military/security complex. What “support the troops” really means is to support the profits of the armaments industry and the neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony.

    “Support the troops” is a clever PR slogan that causes Americans to turn a blind eye to the brutal exploitation of our soldiers and military families for profit and for an evil ideology.

    Our soldiers and military families are paying for the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neocon wars with lives, limbs, post-traumatic stress, suicides, broken marriages, children without fathers, wives without husbands, and parents without sons and daughters.

    “Support the troops” is one of the most cruel hoaxes in human history, and yet the vast majority of the population has fallen for it. “War Is Peace.”

    When a people are so gullible, it is little wonder that they can be marched off to unaffordable open-ended wars based on nothing but lies, deceptions, and fabrications.

    America produces an endless supply of material for a new Orwell. Imagine what an Orwell could do with Hilary’s recent speech on America’s firm commitment to dissent and the First Amendment. CIA veteran Ray McGovern stood with his back to Hillary in an act of dissent from the Obama administration’s policy of coercing Internet companies into helping to eliminate WikiLeaks as a source of information. McGovern was dragged beaten and bloody from the room, while Hillary continued praising America’s commitment to dissent and freedom of information.

    To capture this level of hypocrisy requires a George Orwell. “Dissent Is Subversion.”

    “Globalism” is another doctrine that needs Orwell’s illumination. Globalism, which presidents since Clinton have told us we can’t do without, enriches transnational corporations and turns workers into serfs who cannot earn enough to pay their bills. “Poverty Is Wealth.”

    The police state measures that accompany the fake “war on terror” subject Americans to far more danger and insecurity than could ever be realized from terrorists other than those of the state itself. “Captivity Is Freedom.”

    In his marvelous book, The Emotional Lives Of Animals, Marc Bekoff describes the devastating impact on animals of being kept in small cages. US soldier Bradley Manning has been kept illegally in an even smaller cage for eight months with no end in sight. At his press conference on March 11, one reporter found the courage to ask President Obama about the conditions of Manning’s confinement. The great and noble president of the united states replied that he had asked the Pentagon and was assured that the conditions of Manning’s confinement “are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards.” Only a George Orwell could do justice to an american president who thinks that keeping a US soldier in conditions worst than those that drive caged animals insane is “appropriate.”

    The US government, which is profligate in its wars, profligate in tax cuts and bailouts for the mega-rich, and profligate in giving unlimited monopoly power to unregulated financial institutions, blames the resulting financial crisis on “handouts” to the poor and “entitlements” to the elderly. Such deception needs more than exposure. It cries out for a 21st century Orwell.

    The tsunami-triggered accident in Fukushima (Japan) Daiichi plant’s Unit 1 (operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO) brings safety issues into question regarding the operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs). In the Daiichi NPP, the automatic shutting down of the reactor by stopping the controlled nuclear fission process, did occur as designed. However, the reactor did not cool down as fast as it was expected and required to do, and called for activating the emergency coolant pumps according to design. But there was no grid power due to a combination of earthquake and subsequent tsunami to operate the pumps. Also, because of flooding due to the tsunami, the dedicated standby generators could not provide power.

    The standby battery power (standby to the standby generator) was insufficient to operate the pumps at sufficient rate and duration, and so the (radioactive) steam generated due to overheating had to be vented to relieve the increasing pressure. This has put an unmeasured quantum of radioactive elements (radionucleides) into the atmosphere. But that too did not cool down the reactor sufficiently. It was then reported that sea water was being let into the reactor to cool it to prevent a meltdown.

    By this a further unmeasured amount of radioactive material would be discharged into the environment. The TEPCO website claims that “monitoring goes on around the clock year round” but at the bottom it says in red: “THIS SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY SHUTDOWN”.


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    All this detail is provided to show three things: One, that accidents in NPPs can and do occur for one or more of several reasons; Two, monitoring can fail, and even when it operates, the public is expected to unquestioningly accept the data provided by the NPP authorities as correct, due to official secrecy conditions. Thus, how much of nuclear radiation has already been discharged into the atmosphere and sea water from the Daiichi NPP and how much more will escape in the hours and days to come will never be known. Also, how much is being discharged from the other four affected NPPs is anybody’s guess; Three, Unlike hydel or thermal power plants which can be shut down practically instantaneously, the nuclear fuel in NPPs requires cooling to prevent overheating even in normal conditions. Thus, NPPs always need independent power supply (from the grid or their own standby generators) in an emergency. That is, NPPs are not autonomous in respect of safety.

    The Japanese nuclear engineers are making heroic efforts at immense personal risk to prevent a steam explosion (not a nuclear explosion) in the NPP. This is the point at which the design and construction standards of the concrete double containment structure of the nuclear reactor will have to withstand the explosion. This could trigger a partial or total meltdown of the reactor core, similar to what happened in USA in 1971 in the Three Mile Island NPP. (This put the US nuclear power industry into the doldrums until USA revived it by negotiating the nuclear deal with India in 2009). Japan has a reputation for good design and safety standards and good quality control and quality assurance in execution. It would be the fervent wish of every thinking person on the planet that the double containment will not fail and that the engineers will control the desperately delicate situation in the Daiichi NPP. Nobody is as yet even thinking of the costs of containing the accident and the subsequent nuclear clean-up.

    But let us now cut to the nuclear situation in India. The issue of Indian design and construction quality standards stands naked when we note that the concrete containment dome of the Kaiga (Karnataka) NPP collapsed when under construction, and had to be rebuilt. It has not been revealed whether it was a failure of design or execution quality. It is not possible to obtain reliable information regarding the operation, safety standards and performance or other cost, constructional or operational aspects of any NPP because of the following reasons: One, Section 18 (Restriction on disclosure of information) and Section 24 (Offences and penalties) of the draconian Indian Atomic Energy Act 1962, do not permit anybody to even ask questions about NPPs, Two, nobody except the nuclear industry is permitted to conduct tests for radioactivity even outside the perimeter of any NPP, Three, the Environment Protection Act 1986, does not apply to NPPs, Four, the safety and monitoring agency (AERB) is not an independent agency and the public has to accept whatever health and safety information is released by the NPP or the AERB, Five, the budget of the DAE is not placed even before Parliament and the power generation and efficiency figures are not available even to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). In short, the Indian nuclear industry is a closed door to the rest of India, and this can be at the cost of public safety and health.

    Further, in the event of a nuclear accident, Government of India (GoI) has sought to cap or limit the liability of operators or suppliers of nuclear hardware and technology to assure profits to the US nuclear industry. In simpler language, this means that the real financial cost of post-accident nuclear clean-up and repair would be borne by India, as the liability of the suppliers would be limited to the cap amount, while the real costs of health and livelihood would be borne by the people.

    In view of the secrecy and the poor standards of construction even in the nuclear industry, the conflicting parameters of safety, operational cost and radioactive emissions of any NPP leave the public to guess when one of India’s NPPs may suffer a serious accident, and whether we will be able to handle the disaster effectively and efficiently. Indian nuclear engineers are second to none, thus the issue of safety in India’s nuclear establishment is institutional. The secrecy, intransparency, unaccountability and self-certification of the nuclear industry makes one doubt whether we will be able to prevent serious emergency or handle it effectively should it happen.

    This also raises questions about the advisability of going for mega NPPs such as planned in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. This is quite apart from the fact of enormous resistance to its construction from local people on the grounds of livelihood and environment. Let us hope that the Indian nuclear establishment would never need to handle a serious accident of the type of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl or Fukushima.

    S.G.Vombatkere holds a PhD in civil structural dynamics from I.I.T, Madras, and has extensive structural design and project execution experience.

    E-mail:[email protected]

    The Devastating Consequences of Israeli Weapons Testing

    March 13th, 2011 by Richard Lightbown

    Press TV on 4 March 2011 reported that cancer cases in Gaza had increased by 30 per cent, and that there was a link between the occurrence of the disease and residence in areas that had been badly hit by Israeli bombing. Zekra Ajour from the Al Dameer Association for Human Rights told the channel that Gaza had been a testing ground for illegal weapons.

    On 20 December 2009 Al Dameer had published another paper in Arabic on the increase in the number of babies born in Gaza with birth defects, thought to be the result of radioactive and toxic materials from Operation Cast Lead. [1] The birth defects included incomplete hearts and malformations of the brain. During August, September and October 2008 the number of cases had been 27. In the comparable months in 2009 the numbers had risen to 47. There was a similar rise in aborted foetuses. Al Dameer had called for scientific monitoring throughout the Gaza Strip to obtain statistics on deformed foetus cases relating to the intentional use of internationally banned weapons.

    Similar dramatic increases in birth defects over a longer period have been recorded in Iraq and have been linked to widespread use of depleted uranium weapons. (It is reported that local midwives no longer look forward to births as they don’t know what is going to come out.) Although the epidemiologist Professor Alastair Hay told the BBC in March 2010 that it was difficult to suggest any particular cause for the trend [2], scientific data has been published which contradicts his opinion.  A  review in Environmental Health in 2005 [3] concluded by saying

    “Regarding the teratogenicity of parental prenatal exposure to DU aerosols, the evidence, albeit imperfect, indicates a high probability of substantial risk. Good science indicates that depleted uranium weapons should not be manufactured or exploded.”

    When later asked in the same interview about white phosphorus, Prof. Hay had replied

    “…phosphorus is an essential element in our bodies and so you would I think have to ingest a huge amount to cause any particular problem. But there has been no investigation anywhere that I am aware of to link phosphorus with health problems…”

    Apparently the professor has not read the Goldstone Report of the previous year which states in paragraph 896:

    “Medical staff reported to the Mission how even working in the areas where the phosphorus had been used made them feel sick, their lips would swell and they would become extremely thirsty and nauseous.”

    The toxicity of phosphorus is also recorded in a report by New York medical staff [4]

    “Oral ingestion of white phosphorus in humans has been demonstrated to result in pathologic changes to the liver and kidneys. The ingestion of a small quantity of white phosphorus can cause gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Individuals with a history of oral ingestion have been noted to pass phosphorus-laden stool (“smoking stool syndrome”). The accepted lethal dose is 1 mg/kg, although the ingestion of as little as 15 mg has resulted in death.”

    UNEP reported that breathing white phosphorus for long periods causes ‘phossy jaw’, a condition in which there is poor wound healing of the mouth and breakdown of the jawbone. [5]

    Evidence of the use of depleted uranium against Gaza is tenuous and Goldstone merely recorded in paragraph 907 that it had received allegations which it had not further investigated. Much of this evidence came from Action des citoyens pour le désarmement nucléaire (ACDN: Citizens Action for Nuclear Disarmament). Their report of July 2009 hypothesizes that the GBU-39 bunker-buster bomb is packed with 75 kg of depleted uranium.  (A UNEP report also ambiguously refers to bunker-buster bombs containing depleted uranium. [5]) The U.S. delivery of 1,000 of these bombs to Israel arrived in early December 2008 shortly before the start of the war. The GBU-39 is considered one of the world’s most precise bombs and Boeing, the manufacturer, claims that the bomb will penetrate three feet of steel-reinforced concrete. (UNEP suggests that it can penetrate reinforced concrete to depths ranging from 1.8 m to over 6m.) Boeing’s patent on the weapon mentions depleted uranium. [6]

    It is not known how many bunker-buster bombs were used against Gaza but it seems reasonable to assume that the number could run into hundreds. It is thought that they were used mostly in the Philadelphia corridor against the tunnels. Desmond Travers, the former Irish Army officer who was a member of the Goldstone Commission, would only say that depleted uranium may have been used during the war, although he did agree that it would have been well suited for attacking the tunnels where maximum penetration would have been desired. [7] He was also in agreement with ACDN that the use of below ground targets would have considerably reduced the levels of aerosol uranium that was dispersed into the air.

    Col Raymond Lane, who is chief instructor of ordnance with the Irish armed forces, gave testimony to the Goldstone Commission on weapons used in the Gaza conflict. He told the Commission that he had no expertise of depleted uranium and so had not investigated it. He gave no reason for his failure to bring in specialist expertise to investigate the subject. [8]

    In April 2009 Jean-François Fechino from ACDN was part of a four-person team which went to Gaza for the Arab Commission for Human Rights. Samples that the team brought back were analysed by a specialist laboratory which identified carcinogens: depleted uranium, caesium, asbestos dust, tungsten and aluminium oxide. Thorium oxide was also found, which is radioactive, as are depleted uranium and caesium.  The analysis also identified phosphates and copper, along with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are a health hazard, especially to children, asthmatics and elders. [9]

    Depleted uranium burns at almost 1200°C (TNT by comparison burns at 576°C). [6] [10] At this temperature the fire vaporizes any metals in the target which in combination with uranium are released into the air in aerosol form. After deposition the aerosols have the potential to contaminate groundwater. (The Gaza aquifer, which is the Strip’s only water source, is also connected to ground water supplies in Egypt, although water only flows into Gaza from Israel. [11])

    There is empirical documentation that the aerosols can travel up to 42 Km and theoretical documentation that they can travel further. [3] Sderot is about 43 Km from the Philadelphia corridor and less than five kilometres from Beit Hanoun. In consequence it may be that the activities of Israel’s air force have created a greater threat to the Israeli city than all of the 8,000 well-publicized rockets from Gaza ever have.

    Depleted uranium accumulation has been recorded in the bone, kidney, reproductive system, brain and lung. It is carcinogenic, toxic to the kidneys, damaging to cellular DNA and causes malformations to an embryo or foetus. [3]

    Although an IDF spokesman told CNN on January 7, “I can tell you with certainty that white phosphorus is absolutely not being used” , the chemical had been used by Israeli forces since the beginning of the war. [12] The Goldstone Report stated that Israeli sources later claimed their forces had stopped using white phosphorous on 7 January 2009 because of international concerns. This was also untrue as there is evidence that it had been used after that date. Goldstone declared Israeli armed forces to have been “systematically reckless” in using white phosphorous in built-up areas (paras. 884, 886 & 890).

    Difficulty in detecting the extent of damage to tissue and organs gave serious problems to medical staff trying to treat white phosphorus injuries. Several patients died as a result. Doctors found that when they removed bandages applied to a wound that still contained fragments of white phosphorous, smoke would come from the wound since the chemical continues to burn as long as it is in contact with oxygen. White phosphorous sticks to tissue so that all flesh and sometimes muscle around the burn would have to be cut out. The substance is also highly toxic (Goldstone paras.892/4/5/6).

    An article published in The Lancet included photographs of a young man who was admitted to hospital in Gaza with white phosphorous burns on 30 per cent of his body. The day after admission smoke was noticed coming from the wounds and the patient was rapidly transferred to the operating room for removal of dead tissue and removal of white phosphorus particles. During the operation a particle of the chemical was dislodged and caused a superficial burn on a nurse’s neck. The patient survived. [13]

    Col Lane testified that although white phosphorus gave the best quality of smoke for military purposes it was ‘horrible stuff’ and the Irish army had stopped using it 20 years previously. He recounted how the British army had sea-dumped quantities of the material off the coast of S.W. Scotland in the 1950s, some of which had been washed up on the coast of Ireland by a storm in 2007. It had ignited on drying (the colonel had witnessed this himself) and in one instance a child had suffered burns as a result.

    Mass spectrometry analysis conducted by the New Weapons Research Group (NWRG) found aluminium, titanium, strontium, barium, cobalt and mercury in biopsies taken from white phosphorus wounds at Shifna Hospital, Gaza. (Aluminium, barium and mercury have potential for lethal and intoxicating effects, aluminium and mercury can cause chronic pathologies over time, mercury is carcinogenic for humans, cobalt can cause mutations, and aluminium is fetotoxic i.e. injurious to foetuses.)[14][15]

    White phosphorus bombs are built with alternating sectors of white phosphorus and aluminium. Analysis by NWRG of the powder from a shell near Al Wafa Hospital in Gaza also found high levels of molybdenum, tungsten and mercury. Tungsten and mercury are carcinogenic, while molybdenum is toxic to sperms.

    In a report appropriately entitled Gaza Strip, soil has been contaminated due to bombings: population in danger NWRG also conducted analyses of two craters caused by bombs in 2006 and two others by bombs in 2009. In the 2006 craters they identified tungsten, mercury and molybdenum, while in the 2009 craters at Tufah they discovered molybdenum, cadmium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, copper and zinc. Cadmium and some nickel and manganese compounds are carcinogenic. [15]

    NWRG has further conducted research of hair samples from 95 children resident in heavily bombed areas of Gaza. Again using mass spectrometry the study identified the carcinogenic or toxic metals chromium, cadmium, cobalt, tungsten and uranium. One wounded individual also had unusually high levels of lead. The study found the results alarming and considered the levels could be pathogenic in situations of chronic exposure. Thirty-nine of the examinees were recommended for further checks. [16]

    It has been reported that soil in the area of a DIME (dense inert metal explosive) bomb blast may remain barren for an indefinite period of time because of contamination from heavy metal tungsten alloy. [17] The same material in trial rapidly caused tumours in 100 per cent of rats when used at both low and high doses, with the tumours spreading to the lungs, necessitating euthanasia. [18]

    DIME weapons were first used against Gaza by Israeli drones in the summer of 2006, when Palestinian medical personnel reported that it significantly increased the fatality rate among victims. [19] Shortly after the DIME weapons were also trialled during the first week of the war in Lebanon in July 2006.   

    The Goldstone Commission was unable to confirm that DIME munitions were used by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead. Col Lane had told the Commission in testimony that there was no actual proof. He then went on to testify that he had been given samples in Gaza which analysis in Dublin had shown to contain DIME materials consisting mostly of tungsten with traces or iron and sulphur. He was of the opinion that ordnance had been used that had some sort of DIME component. He also mentioned that he had read of unusual amputations, and that tungsten and cobalt would have this effect. [8] Weaponry had been found with DIME components which was capable of amputation and there are Palestinian amputees, yet neither Col Lane nor the Commission was prepared to say that DIME weapons had been used by Israeli forces.

    DIME bombs cause a high proportion of amputations particularly legs, while patients often suffered internal burns as well. The bombs consist of powdered tungsten alloy mixed with an explosive material inside a casing which disintegrates on explosion. The tungsten powder tears apart anything it hits including soft tissue and bone, causing very severe injuries. Tungsten alloy particles, described as “finely powdered micro-shrapnel” [16], are too small to be extracted from the victim’s body and are highly carcinogenic (Goldstone paras. 902-4).

    No weapons fragments can be found from DIME bombs with standard diagnostic resources, despite the indication of heavy metals from this type of injuries. Mass spectrometry analyses by NWRG  of biopsies from amputation injuries revealed aluminium, titanium, copper, strontium, barium, cobalt, mercury, vanadium, caesium, tin, arsenic, manganese, rubidium, cadmium, chromium, zinc and nickel. [14] Doctors reported that it was difficult to determine the extent of dead tissue (which it is vital to remove). This resulted in higher rates of deep infection, subsequent amputation and higher mortality. [20] 

    The wide range of heavy metals discovered by analysis in casualties, residents and soil in Gaza suggests that other unidentified weapons may have also been trialled. (The Sensor Fuzed Weapon has been suggested as one such technological perversion that the Israeli forces may have used. [21])

    The whole Gaza population and their environment, including generations yet to be conceived, have been put at risk of serious long term injury from heavy metal pollution of the air, soil and groundwater (and possibly the seawater too), while the causal pollution is likely to cross state borders into Egypt and even into Israel. Reassurances of the legitimate and responsible use and the reduced lethality of weapons (an opinion in part shared by Col Lane) are callous and inadequate in the context of the dangerous reality that has resulted. Meanwhile the impacts of Israel’s illegal assaults on Gaza remain ignored and the deeds uncensored by the wider international community. 

     Notes

    [1]    Kawther Salam, 29 December 2009; Abortions, Cancer, Diseases and…in Gaza; Intifada-Palestine. 

    http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2009/12/abortions-cancer-diseases-and-in-gaza/

    [2]    BBCNews, 4 March 2010; Falluja Doctors Report Rise in Birth Defects.         
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8548707.stm

    [3]    Rita Hindin, Doug Brugge and Bindu Panikkar; Teratogenicity of depleted uranium aerosols: A review from an epidemiological perspective; Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source 2005, 4:17 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-4- 17. http://www.ehjournal.net/content/4/1/17

    [4]    Lisandro Irizarry, Mollie V Williams, Geri M Williams and José Eric Díaz-Alcalá, 21 October 2009; CBRNE – Incendiary Agents, White Phosphorus.        
    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/833585-overview

    [5]    UNEP, 2007; Lebanon Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment, p 149.

    [6]    ACDN, 4 July 2009; Report on the Use of Radioactive Weapons in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead.
    http://www.newweapons.org/files/ACDN%20Gaza%20report%20updated%204Jul2009%201.pdf

     [7]   Dr Hana Chehata, 9 March 2010; Disturbing Findings of Toxic Uranium Levels in Gaza; Middle East Monitor.
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/6cdf55k

    [8] Video accessed from http://blog.unwatch.org/?p=413

    [9]    Palestinian Telegraph, 24 May 2009; Israel Used Depleted Uranium in Offensive on Gaza.  
    http://www.paltelegraph.com/opinions/editorials/935-israel-used-depleted-uranium-in-offensive-on-gaza.html

    [10] Sister Rosalie Bertell; Depleted Uranium in the Human Body: Sr Rosalie Bertell, PhD.         
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgQ79-oDX2o

    [11] http://www.standwithus.com/FLYERS/WaterFlyer.pdf

    [12] Human Rights Watch, 10 January 2009; Q & A on Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza 

      http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/10/q-israel-s-use-white-phosphorus-gaza

    [13] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2960812-4/fulltext?_eventId=login          

    [14] Sobhi Skaik, Nafiz Abu-Shaban, Nasser Abu-Shaban, Mario Barbieri, Maurizio Barbieri, Umberto Giani, Paola Manduca,

    31 July 2010; Metals Detected by ICP/MS in Wound Tissue of War Injuries Without Fragments in Gaza.

    http://www.newweapons.org/files/1860524319368107_article.pdf

    [15] NWRC, 17 December 2009; Gaza Strip, soil has been contaminated due to bombings: population in danger.

    http://www.newweapons.org/files/pressrelease_nwrc_20091216_eng.pdf

    [18] NWRC, 17 March 2010; Metals Detected in Palestinian Children’s Hair Suggest Environmental Contamination.

    http://www.newweapons.org/?q=node/112

    [17] James Brooks, 6 December 2006; US and Israel Targeting DNA in Gaza? The DIME Bomb: Yet Another Genotoxic Weapon,

    Part II. Al-Jazeera.

    http://www.aljazeerah.info/Editorials/2009/January/Gaza%20Civilians%20Attacked%20With%20White%20Phosphorus%20&%20DIME%20By%20Hassan%20El-Najjar.htm            

    [18] John F. Kalinich, et al, 15 February 2005; Embedded Weapons-Grade Tungsten Alloy Shrapnel Rapidly Induces Metastatic

    High-Grade Rhabdomysoarcomas in F344 Rats; ehponline.org

      http://www.afrri.usuhs.mil/www/outreach/pdf/tungsten_cancer.pdf

    [19] James Brooks, 5 December 2006; The DIME Bomb: Yet Another Genotoxic weapon, Part 1; Al-Jazeera.

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27a/308.html

    [20] David Halpin, 14 August 2006; Are New weapons Being Used in Gaza and Lebanon; Electronic Intifada.

    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5528.shtml

    [21] James Brooks, 5 December 2006; The DIME Bomb: Yet Another Genotoxic weapon, Part III; Al-Jazeera.

    http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/oldsite/article.asp?ID=5648

    Richard Lightbown has an MSc in Environmental Forestry and researched the impacts of the Rwandan war on four Ugandan forests for his dissertation. During travels in the Arab world he has visited Gaza, the West Bank and the occupied Golan Heights. He has written a review of media sources on the Gaza flotilla raid, and a critique of the Turkel Commission Report Part 1.

    VIDEO: Cover-up Over Japan’s Nuclear Emergency

    March 13th, 2011 by Yoichi Shimatsu

    LATEST FROM JAPAN: Unfolding Nuclear Catastrophe?

    March 13th, 2011 by Washington's Blog


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

     

    Early this morning, the Fukushima I nuclear power plant melted down:

    And see this.

    Now, MSNBC reports:

    A partial meltdown is likely under way at second quake-stricken nuclear reactor [the Fukushima III reactor], Japan’s top government spokesman said Sunday.

    Fuel rods were briefly exposed and radiation levels briefly rose above the legal limit at the nuclear plant where both reactors are located, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

    His statement came after Japan’s largest electric utility started releasing steam Sunday at the second nuclear reactor while trying to stop a meltdown that began a day earlier in another.

    MSNBC also notes that “the government [is] warning there could be an explosion at a second reactor [i.e. plant number 3] crippled by Friday’s devastating earthquake.”

    BBC points out that a meltdown at number 3 could be more serious than number 1, because it uses plutonium as well as uranium:

    The plant’s operator says pressure is rising inside reactor No. 3 after it lost its emergency cooling system.

    A similar problem led to a blast at the plant’s No. 1 reactor on Saturday. …

    But the BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says the second reactor is a different type which uses MOX (plutonium plus uranium) fuel and the consequences of a problem there are potentially more severe.

    Hopefully, the problems at the 4 other troubled Japanese nuclear reactors will be contained.

    Many experts have said the disaster is not as bad as Chernobyl. But Forbes’ William Pentland notes, nuclear expert Kevin Kamp says:

    “Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.”

    And the Telegraph writes:

    Tokyo, at least, appeared to have got away without the scale of casualties seen in other parts of Japan. That was before news of an explosion, and warnings of a possible “meltdown”, at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. As the evening turned to night, the world’s second-largest metropolis was still waiting to know whether it had been exposed to what would be perhaps the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

    Emergency Special Report I

    The Wave, reminiscent of Hokusai’s masterful woodblock print, blew past Japan’s shoreline defenses of harbor breakwaters and gigantic four-legged blocks called tetrapods, lifting ships to ram through seawalls and crash onto downtown parking lots. Seaside areas were soon emptied of cars and houses dragged up rivers and back out to sea. Wave heights of up to10 meters (33 feet) are staggering, but before deeming these as unimaginable, consider the historical Sanriku tsunami that towered to 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) and killed 27,000 people in 1896.

    Nature’s terrifying power, however we may dread it, is only as great as the human-caused vulnerability of our civilization. Soon after Christmas 2004, I volunteered for the rescue operation on the day after the Indian Ocean tsunami and simultaneously did an on-site field study on the causes of fatalities in southern Thailand. The report, issued by Thammasat and Hong Kong Universities, concluded that high water wasn’t the sole cause of the massive death toll. No, it’s buildings that kill – to be specific, badly designed structures without escape routes onto roofs or, in our greed for real estate, situated inside drained lagoons and riverbeds, or on loose landfill. In the Tohoku disaster, an ultramodern Sendai Airport sat helplessly flooded on all sides while nearby a monstrous black torrent swept entire houses upstream.

    Other threats are built into the vulnerabilities of our critical infrastructure and power systems. The balls of orange flames churning out of huge gas storage tanks in Ichihara, Chiba, should never have happened if technical precautions had been properly carried out. Whenever things go wrong, underlying risks had led to a liability and, in a responsible society, accountability.

    Most people assume that the meticulous Japanese are among the world’s most responsible citizens. As an investigative journalist who has covered the Hanshin (Kobe) earthquake and the Tokyo subway gassing, I beg to differ. Japan is  just better than elsewhere in organizing official cover-ups.

    Hidden nuclear crisis

    The recurrent tendency to deny systemic errors – “in order to avoid public panic” – is rooted in the determination of an entrenched bureaucracy to protect itself rather than in any stated purpose of serving the nation or its people. That’s the unspoken rule of thumb in most governments, and the point is that Japan is no shining exception. 


    Helen Caldicott: Conference on the DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR AND NUCLEAR POWER
    Montreal. March 18. Centre Saint Pierre, 7.00pm Click for details

    So what today is being silenced on orders from the Tokyo government? The official mantra is that all five nuclear power plants in the northeast are  locked down, safe and not leaking. The cloaked reality is that at least one of those – Tepco’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant – is under an emergency alert at a level indicative of a quake-caused internal rupture. The Fukushima powerhouse is one of the world’s largest with six boiling-water reactors.

    Over past decades, the Japanese public has been reassured by the Tokyo Electric Power Company that its nuclear reactors are prepared for any eventuality. Yet the mystery in Fukushima is not the first unreported problem with nuclear power, only the most recent. Back in 1996  amid a reactor accident in Ibaraki province, the government never admitted that radioactive fallout had drifted over the northeastern suburbs of Tokyo. Our reporters got confirmation from monitoring stations, but the press was under a blanket order not to run any alarming news, the facts be damned. For a nation that’s lived under the atomic cloud of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, total denial becomes possible now only because the finger on the button is our own.

    People are the best defense

    Despite the national addiction to nuclear power that keeps the neon lights bright over Shibuya’s famous corner, Japan still remains the most prepared of all societies for earthquakes, tsunami, conflagrations and other disasters. Every work unit, large or small, has an emergency response plan. The Tohoku quake hit on a workday afternoon, meaning the staff in every factory and office could act as a team to quell small fires, shut the gas lines, render first aid and restore their communication system. Even in most homes, residents have a rechargeable flashlight plugged into a socket and emergency bottles of water.

    Northeast Japan is better prepared than other  localities because in the wake of the Kobe quake in 1995, the regional Keidanren, or federation of  industrial organizations, sponsored a thorough risk-management and crisis response study. Tohoku Keidanren staffers, who had known of my reporting on the San Francisco and Kobe quakes, asked me to write an article prioritizing disaster preparedness.

    First on my list was a people-based communications network such as the citizen’s band radio that enabled Northern Californians to self-organize despite power blackouts. That point directly led to the fast licensing of new mobile phone towers equipped with back-up batteries. Second was independent power generation inside all major factories so that these large facilities could recharge batteries, provide lighting and pump water for their neighborhoods and, if necessary, offer shelter, sanitation and medical care. These systems must be routinely used at least on weekends so that the equipment is regularly checked and the staff stay familiar with their operation.

    .Third, and most important, is the ability of individuals to rally as a self-sustaining community. In Kobe, society collapsed under a sense of personal defeat. In San Francisco, by contrast, neighbors reached out as friends and opened their doors, food stocks and hearts to victims and their kin. Without compassion, each of us is very much alone indeed.

    As participants in communities, who can suddenly find themselves naked before unthinkable hazards, we must act to defuse the deadly “bomb” that provides us lighting, energy for appliances and air-con. Prevention of the next Chernobyl or Three Mile Island  begins when we stop naively believing in the cost efficiency of uranium, and for that matter the cleanliness and healthiness of “clean” coal.

    Japan has vast untapped reserves of offshore wind energy, the only practical alternative to nuclear power and fossil fuel. Yet the nuclear lobby, coal companies and oil majors have strong-armed the government and industry to stubbornly refuse to invest in advanced and efficient turbine engineering, including magnetic-levitation rotors that eliminate the need for energy-sapping bearings.

    At certain stages of societal evolution, there arrives an unmistakable message to leave behind our worn-out security blanket and surf the wave of the future. The tsunami is just such a signal arising from the ocean’s depths to awaken Japan, as a global technology leader, to push much faster into a cleaner, greener and safer world.

    Emergency Special Report II

    Quake Monitor: Meltdown has started -  Saturday 12 March (noon Japan time zone)

    Meltdown is underway. Japan’s Industrial Nuclear Safety Agency reported that the radioactive isotopes cesium and iodine were detected by a monitoring station in  the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. The presence of these substances in air samples is a sure indicator that an uncontrolled chain reaction has started. Overheated uranium rods have eaten through their protective metal casings and have started nuclear fission. The regulatory agency’s announcement overturns the earlier claim of plant operator TEPCO that all uranium rods were intact.

    .

    The National Institute of Radiological Science, in Chiba outside Tokyo, has flown a team of doctors and nurses by helicopter to a health center 5 km from the Fukushima plant to monitor nuclear exposure in workers, emergency crew and local residents. 

    Nuclear workers, who this morning restarted the pumping of cold water into the reactor, are being hampered by aftershocks of larger than Richter 6. Plant operator TEPCO ordered the release of steam from the overheated reactor this morning because internal pressure is twice higher than the allowable limits of the original facility design. Plant officials say that the steam is being filtered of radioactive particle. Outside the plant, however, the monitoring station detected outdoor radiation levels 8 times higher than normal, indicating either leakage or filter malfunction.

    Three of the six reactors of the TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, were operating at the time of the Tohoku quake. The failure of back-up generators caused significant rise in temperatures inside No.1 (46 MW output) and No.2 (784 MW) reactors.  

    The Japanese government overnight dispatched truck-mounted power generators to both plants in order to restart cooling pumps. On-site back-up batteries that run the control system were depleted of power within 8 hours of the blackout. Authorities are now locating robots to dispatch for remote control repairs to the reactors because the interior is unsafe for human employees.

    .

    Impact on North America: 

    The Pacific jetstream is currently flowing due east directly toward the United States. In the event of a major meltdown and continuous large-volume radioactive release, airborne particles will be carried across the ocean in bands that will cross over the southern halves of Oregon, Montana and Idaho, all of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, the Dakotas, northern Nebraska and Iowa and ending in Wisconsin and Illinois, with possible further eastward drift depending on surface wind direction. 

    Most of the particles can be expected to travel high in the atmosphere, with fallout dependent on low pressure zones, rainfall and temperatures over the US. If a meltdown can be contained in Fukushima, a small amount of particles would be dispersed in the atmosphere with little immediate effect on human and animal health.

    Another climate factor to be taken into account is the potential for an El Nino Variable bulging the jetstream further northward, causing fallout over western Canada and a larger number of American states. 

    Seasonal rainfall over Japan does not normally begin until mid-April and does not become significant until early June. 

    If very high radiation releases are detected at some point, a potential tactic to lessen contamination of North America is for the US, Canadian and Russian air forces to seed clouds over the northwest Pacific to create a low pressure front and precipitation to minimize particle mass reaching North America.

    .

    Emergency Special Report III

    Ohoku Quake and Tsunami Monitor 2: “The Good News Guys”

    Sunday 13 March 2011 (0800 hrs Tokyo Time)

    Following a high-level meeting called by the lame-duck prime minister, Japanese agencies are no longer releasing independent reports without prior approval from the top. The censorship is being carried out following the imposition of the Article 15 Emergency Law. Official silencing of bad news is a polite way of reassuring the public.According to the chief Cabinet Secretary, reactor heat is being lowered and radiation levels are coming down. The Unit 1 reactor container is not cracked despite the explosion that destroyed its building.

    The explosion did not erupt out of the reactor.

    So what caused the explosion that blasted away the reinforced concrete roof and walls? Silence.

    Yes, there’s nothing to worry about if residents just stay indoors, turn off their air-cons and don’t breathe deeply. Everyone, go back to sleep.

    The radiation leak at Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant is now officially designated as a “4″ on the international nuclear-events scale of 7.  This is the same criticality rating at an earlier minor accident at Tokaimura plant in Ibaraki. Technically, there is no comparison. Tokaimura did not experience a partial meltdown.

    Enough of the Good News

    The mayor of Tsuruga City, home of the trouble-plagued Monju plutonium-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture, isn’t buying Tokyo’s weak explanation about the Fukushima 1 blast and demanded the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency to conduct an all-points investigation immediately.

    A specialist medical team from the National Radiology Health Institute, flown by helicopter from Chiba to a field center 5 km from the No.1 Nuclear Plant,  found radiation illness in 3 residents out of a sample group of 90. Overnight that number of civilian-nuclear “hibakusha” shot up to 19, but in other counts to 160. The evacuation zone has been further widened from 10 km to 20 km.

    A third reactor, Unit 6, has lost its cooling system and is overheating along with Reactors 1 and 2.

    Fukushima No.2 plant, further south, is ringed by a wall of silence as a quiet evacuation is being conducted.

    Firefighters are pumping seawater into the three overheated Fukushima 1 reactors. The mandatory freshwater supply is missing, presumably due to tsunami contamination from surging ocean waves. An American nuclear expert has called this desperation measure  the  equivalent of a “Hail Mary pass”..

    So, the Prime Minister should be hoping that Japan’s tiny Christian community is feverishly praying. Because right now, Japan and much of the world are living on a prayer. 

    Players not prayers

    USA: The White House sent in a team to consult withe US-friendly  Naoto  Kan  government. Instead of dispatching in experts  from the Department of Energy, Nuclear Safety Agency and Health Department, President Obamas sent representatives of USAID, which is cover for the CIA.

    The presence of these paranoiac bumblers only confirms suspicions of a top-level cover up. Why would the Agency be worried about the disaster? There are security considerations, such as regional “enemies” Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow taking advantage of the crisis. To the contrary, China and Russia have both offered carte blanche civilian aid. 

    Second, to coordinate a pro-American public campaign synchronized with the US relief effort from the nuclear carrier USS Ronald Reagan. Many Japanese might actually be alarmed by Navy ships offshore, reminding them of the firebombing campaign in the big  war, and US helicopters rumbling overhead as if Sendai was Danang Vietnam 1968. The whole “aid” exercise smacks of a con job aimed at keeping US military bases in Okinawa and surreptitiously at a Japanese Self-Defense Force firing range at the foot of Mount Fuji. 

    Third, to ensure the safekeeping of Misawa Air Force Base in quake-hit Iwate Prefecture. Misawa, the hub of US electronic warfare and high-tech espionage in East Asia with its fleet of P-3 Orions and an ECHELON eavesdropping antennae.

    PRC: In contrast to Washington’s ulterior motives, China in  an unprecedented move  has sent in an emergency team into Japan. Unbeknownst to the world, China has world-leading expertise in extinguishing nuclear meltdowns and blocking radiation leaks at their uranium mines and military nuclear plants. This was discovered on a 2003 visit to a geological research center in the uranium-rich Altai mountain region of Xinjiang, where a scientist disclosed “off the record” China’s development of mineral blends that block radiation “much more than 90 percent, nearly totally”. When asked why the institute doesn’t commercialize their formulas, he responded: “We’ve never thought about that.” That’s too bad because if one of China’s exports was ever needed, it’s their radiation blanket.

    Russia: Moscow too, is offering unconditional aid, despite ongoing territorial conflict with Japan over four northern islands. The Russian Air Force, from bases in Kamchatka and the Kuriles, could play a key role in cloud-seeding to prevent radioactive particles from drifting over to the United States. Americans should learn how to act as team players in an international community, especially now their own children’s lives will be at stake in the event of a total meltdown in Fukushima.

    Canada: Meteorology is becoming evermore interesting, despite the “what me worry” attitudes of the global-warming skeptics. A freak of nature called El Nino Variable, if it occurs later this spring, could push the Pacific jet stream northward, meaning western Canada and more U.S. states could find themselves along a winding stream of radiation fallout from Japan. 

    Correction to Monitor 1: In our haste, we blurred over some important details on the use of potassium iodide tablets. These are taken to block radioactive iodine-131 from affecting the human thyroid gland, thus lowering the risk of cancer and other disorders.

    Yoichi Shimatsu currently with Fourth Media (China) is former editor of the Japan Times Weekly, has covered the earthquakes in San Francisco and Kobe, participated in the rescue operation immediately after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and led the field research for an architectural report on structural design flaws that led to the tsunami death toll in Thailand.

    The eighth anniversary of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is quickly approaching.

    Many ask, has anything been learned? 

    Senior foreign policy officials in the United States and the European Union have indeed “learned some lessons,” but not the ones that the majority of Americans and Europeans would hold in high esteem.

    Speaking within the context of international law, the leaders of the U.S. and the E.U. have learned to effectively cover their tracks. These leaders have learned from the various international attempts and initiatives to bring George W. Bush Jr., Tony Blair, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and their co-conspirators to justice for starting an internationally illegal war against Iraq. 

    The leaders of the U.S. and the E.U. are putting together the legal grounds to justify the implementation of their war plans against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

    The Gulf Hypocrisy Council

    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an organization comprised of the petro-sheikdoms of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. They have betrayed Palestine, they worked against Iraq, they turned their backs on Lebanon, and now they are conspiring against Libya together with Washington and Brussels.

    In a blatant act of hypocrisy, the leaders of these sheikdoms have announced that Qaddafi’s regime is “illegitimate.” Forbes had this to say about the GCC announcement: “Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have withdrawn any sort of support for Muammar al-Gadhafi calling his regime ‘illegitimate’ and condoning its use of organized violence against a civilian population.” [1] Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the U.A.E., and Kuwait have withdrawn their recognition of Qaddafi’s regime as the legal government of Libya.

    In addition, the GCC announced the following: “On the situation in Libya, the Council denounced the crimes committed against civilians by using live bullets and heavy weapons and recruiting mercenaries, killing big number of innocent victims and constituting flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” [2]

    What is very striking about these statements and the petro-sheikdoms declaration that Qaddafi’s regime is not the legal government of Libya is that it is utter hypocrisy. These condemnations are being made by the same leaders that have used violence and murder against their own populations. These are also the same Arab leaders who use mercenaries and openly and continuously violate human rights and international humanitarian laws themselves.

    Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain all recently used violence against peaceful civilian protesters, in many cases people who were demanding basic human rights like equality or legal recognition. In Bahrain tanks fired at Bahraini protesters in Pearl Square, which is something most the mainstream media has been trying to hide. Moreover, the GCC ironically has also demanded that “no-fly zones” be established over Libya to protect the civilian population: “The Gulf Cooperation Council demands that the UN Security Council take all necessary measures to protect civilians, including enforcing a no-fly zone.” [3]

    These autocratic leaders are amongst the greatest hypocrites. They are in no position themselves to speak about any form of legitimacy. Nor are any of these autocrats elected. Under the same principles that they pretend to espouse, they should ask the U.N. to intervene in their states too. Bear in mind they also spearheaded the movement to suspend Libya from the Arab League in Cairo. These leaders have also pushed the Arab League to support any confrontation against Libya in the form of no-fly zones. [4]

    Orwellian Qatar

    In another iconic case, Doha has passed a so-called “media freedom law.” Like Israel’s media freedom laws, the law actually restricts media freedoms using Orwellian logic and double-speak. The Peninsula, a Qatari English-language newspaper, has stated: “A new media law [in Qatar] is in the offing whose preliminary draft suggests that journalists shall be free to write on issues except those concerning national security and friendly countries.” [5]

    What the Qatar law signifies is a restriction on media freedom. The Qatari law denotes that journalists are free to report on anything “except” issues pertaining to Qatar’s political allies and friends or Qatari national security issues. “Friendly countries” would include Bahrain and Oman, which would explain why the Al Jazeera Network barely covered the protests in Bahrain and Oman and brushed aside the murder of peaceful protesters at the hands of the Bahraini military and foreign mercenaries under the order of the Al-Khalifas.

    The Peninsula additionally reports:

    Some Qatari journalists see the move as a ploy to bring back ‘in a new avatar’ the disbanded information ministry that imposed media censorship until 1995.

    “It is too well-known what role the information and culture ministry played in the past (a reference to media censorship),” said Abudulla Al Athbah, a prominent Qatari scribe and columnist. [6]

    This Qatari law also embodies the politics and interests that regulate the Al Jazeera Network. If in Qatar “friendly states” are not suppose to be criticized, that means Libya is an “unfriendly state.” This in itself says that the media can be used as a weapon. It is worth noting that Hillary Clinton has also come out to endorse Al Jazeera. [7]

    Legal Recognition of the Libyan Opposition

    U.S. and E.U. officials are working to create more than a pretext for conflict with Tripoli, they are also creating a legal blanket to prevent their future prosecution. While the leaders of the GCC declared that the government of Colonel Qaddafi was not legitimate, France announced its legal recognition of the Benghazi-based opposition in Libya. Forbes reported: “The move comes as many Western nations have stepped up their rhetoric, with France officially recognizing the rebel governing-council and advanced talks of a no-fly zone in the UN Security Council and NATO.” [8]

    The French move is also a display of more two-faced behaviour, because France offered aid to the dictatorship in Tunisia in crushing the Tunisian protesters. [9] The European Union as a whole has also given de facto recognition to the leadership in Benghazi, calling it a “political interlocutor.” [10] The Deutsche Presse-Agentur (German Press Agency) has reported that the E.U. has stated that “it was no longer prepared to negotiate with Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi and would instead hold talks with his opponents, who are based in the eastern city of Benghazi.” [11] The Arab League has also followed suit, withdrawing its legal recognition of Qaddafi’s regime. [12]

    None of this is a coincidence. These moves are part of an internationally coordinated effort. Behind the scenes it is Washington which is leading these efforts. The U.S. government has deliberately been trying to stay in the shadows to deflect attention from itself.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has declared that she is going to meet with the Libyan opposition. [13] In an ominous statement, while she was visiting Chile, Clinton told reporters: “We are in direct contact with members of the opposition, here in the United States, in Libya, in other countries, and we are working with them to determine what assistance they are actually able to use [from the U.S. government].” [14]

    Recognition of the Transitional Council is meant to Justify Foreign Intervention

    Like democracy, international law is a mere question of convenience and interests for the U.S. and the major E.U. powers. While morally Qaddafi’s regime’s legitimacy can be questioned, it is a different story under the terms of international law. [15] The regime of Colonel Qaddafi under international law is the legal representative and government of Libya. Spearheaded by Paris, what the U.S. and the E.U., as well as their GCC allies, are now doing is taking steps to remove the internationally guaranteed rights of the regime in Tripoli by giving legal recognition to the opposition.   

    The objective of giving official recognition to the Benghazi-based opposition in Libya could be used in several ways by the U.S. and its E.U. allies. The move is part of a strategy to balkanize Libya. It also gives what the U.S. and the E.U. could undoubtedly try to use as a legal cover or shield for military intervention.

    One has to listen to the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to understand the meaning of this. Sarkozy has stated several times that the factors that would warrant military intervention are a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing force, a broad based coalition that includes Arabs, and the consent of the “legal government of Libya.” [16] This is it the catcher or qualifier.

    Who is the legal government of Libya according to France? To Paris the Libyan opposition in Benghazi, the so-called Transitional Council, is the legal government of Libya. It is no secret that the Libyan opposition leaders want “no-fly zones” to be established. [17] Thus the U.S., the E.U., and NATO will attempt to make a legal argument for their intervention by saying that the internationally legal representatives of Libya asked for intervention, as well as using a humanitarian pretext.

    Libyan Opposition Leaders Want Intervention

    It has to be made clear that the reality of the situation is that “no-fly zones” would equate to nothing less than a war of military intervention, which also means that boots are needed on Libyan soil. Libyan opposition leaders have also asked for military help. Here is an excerpt on the position of the Libyan opposition in Benghazi:

    “We need more than diplomacy. We need a no-fly zone but we need more than that,” pleaded Iman Bugaighis, a spokeswoman for the Provisional Transitional National Council, the self-styled alternative government, in Libya’s second [biggest] city of Benghazi. [18]

    Opposition leaders have been deliberately giving mixed signals. Some of them claim that they are against military intervention, but that is fallacious. It has to be noted that while the Libyan opposition leaders in Benghazi ask for intervention, the majority of Libyans on both sides are against U.S. and NATO intervention.

    To defeat the Libyan military, which is still under the command of Qaddafi’s  regime, the opposition forces need military intervention and foreign arms. The Globe and Mail had this to report in this regard:

    Even Mustafa Abdul Jalil, leader of the rebel transitional council, concedes the rebels cannot win militarily: “Everybody should know that there is no balance between our capabilities and Moammar Gadhafi’s,” the former justice minister who defected early in the rebellion said. [19]

    The U.S., the E.U., and NATO may attempt to merely keep a balance of power between both sides, like the U.S. and its allies did with Iran and Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War. They could do this with a view of building their case for military intervention. They may even watch as the opposition forces are routed and then enforce a sanctions regime and heavy punishment on Libya. Or they may wait until the Libyan opposition forces are almost wiped out and then intervene through a large-scale aerial campaign.

    Onwards to the Oases of Libya: Another Imperial Adventure in the Making

    Behind the smokescreen of so-called diplomacy, the U.S. is getting its E.U. allies to lead the charge internationally, because of its image as an international aggressor. What is really at hand is a regime change operation. In the words of one unnamed European diplomat quoted by the Associated Press (AP): “‘[We] are talking about military intervention to get rid of one government [in Libya] and putting another one in place [and] [t]his is what it is all about.’” [20]

    Democracy is not the real issue. One unelected government will be replaced by another unelected government, which is also comprised of regime figures who have defected. It is also worth noting that one of the European Union’s key talking points for post-conflict Libya is closer cooperation between Tripoli and Brussels. Simply said, the objective of both the U.S. and the E.U. is to transform Libya into a modern-day colony.

    A replay of both Iraq and Yugoslavia is taking place. This time, however, the U.S. government and its E.U. allies are not only creating a humanitarian pretext for confrontation, but they are also creating a sharper legal blanket so that they will not be accused of breaking international laws like George W. Bush Jr. and Tony Blair were. Washington and Brussels have fuelled the fire in Libya and want the country to fracture through civil war and are using a sophisticated media disinformation campaign. These in themselves are crimes that will be exposed sooner or latter too.

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
     

    NOTES

    [1] Agustino Fontevecchia, “Saudi Arabia, UAE Call Gadhafi’s Regime ‘Illegitimate,’” Forbes, March 11, 2011.
    [2] Ibid.
    [3] Wissam Keyrouz, “Gulf states back Libya no-fly zone,” Agence-France Presse (AFP), March 8, 2011.
    [4] Press Trust of India, “Gaddafi’s forces set for Benghazi, AL backs ‘no-fly’ zone, March 13, 2011.
    [5] The Peninsula, “Draft law promises freedom to media,” March 10, 2011.
    [6] Ibid.
    [7] Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher, “Al-Jazeera, as endorsed by Hillary Clinton,” The Guardian (U.K.), March 10, 2011.
    [8] Fontevecchia, “Saudi Arabia, UAE,” Op. cit.
    [9] Kim Willsher, “French minister defends offer of security forces to Tunisia,” The Guardian (U.K.), January 18, 2011.
    [10] Joshua Chaffin and Roula Khalaf, “Arab League prepares to back no-fly zone,” Financial Times, March11, 2011.
    [11] Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)/German Press Agency, “EU ditches Gaddafi for opposition,” March 11, 2011.
    [12] Tim Pearce ed., “Libya ‘crimes’ strip it of legitimacy – Arab League,” Reuters, March 12, 2011.
    [13] Reuters, “Clinton to meet Libya opposition, warns of next steps,” March 10, 2011.
    [14] Ibid.
    [15] This is not to say that laws are legitimate, because in many cases laws are created to protect and entrench power bases, their privileges, and their legitimacy. What has to be considered here is the application of law and a lack of consistent principles.
    [16] Nicolas Sarkozy, Conseil européen extraordinaire sur la situation en Libye et en Méditerranée (Extraordinary European  Council on the situation in Libya and the Mediterranean) (Press Conference, Brussels, Belgium: March 11, 2011):
    <http://www.elysee.fr/president/les-actualites/conferences-de-presse/2011/conseil-europeen-extraordinaire-sur-la-situation.10882.html>.
    [17] Paul Koring, “Obama rules out Libyan air strikes,” The Globe and Mail, March 11, 2011.
    [18] Ibid.
    [19] Ibid.
    [20] Raf Caset et al., “Ahead of summit, European Union downplays likelihood of no-fly zone over Libya,” Associated Press (AP), March 9, 2011.

    Two Japanese Nuclear Reactors Have Melted Down

    March 13th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

     

    Early this morning, the Fukushima I nuclear power plant melted down:

    And see this.

    Now, MSNBC reports:

    A partial meltdown is likely under way at second quake-stricken nuclear reactor [the Fukushima III reactor], Japan’s top government spokesman said Sunday.

    Fuel rods were briefly exposed and radiation levels briefly rose above the legal limit at the nuclear plant where both reactors are located, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

    His statement came after Japan’s largest electric utility started releasing steam Sunday at the second nuclear reactor while trying to stop a meltdown that began a day earlier in another.

    Hopefully, the problems at the other 3 troubled Japanese nuclear reactors are contained.

    Many experts have said the disaster is not as bad as Chernobyl. But Forbes’ William Pentland notes, nuclear expert Kevin Kamp says:

    “Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.”

    And the Telegraph writes:

    Tokyo, at least, appeared to have got away without the scale of casualties seen in other parts of Japan. That was before news of an explosion, and warnings of a possible “meltdown”, at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. As the evening turned to night, the world’s second-largest metropolis was still waiting to know whether it had been exposed to what would be perhaps the world’s worst nuclear disaster.