That's right, folks! With this, my 100th post on Toasterhead's Blogosphere, I will be providing live updates on the goings-on of my happy fun-time weekend in New York. Why? Because it's ludicrously silly, that's why!
(This is the archived version containing all posts from the weekend. Read in reverse order for chronological accuracy.
Friday, September 28, 2007
That's right, folks! With this, my 100th post on Toasterhead's Blogosphere, I will be providing live updates on the goings-on of my happy fun-time weekend in New York. Why? Because it's ludicrously silly, that's why!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees erports that conditions are improving for some of the estimated 15 million stateless people in the world. Citizenship has been granted to ethnic Biharis in Bangladesh, Tamil tea-pickers in Sri Lanka, and remote villagers in Nepal. The total number of beneficiaries of these three breakthroughs total over 3 million. However, the problem extends far beyond South Asia:
And there has also been movement on this issue in South America and Europe. Last Thursday, Brazil's Congress passed an important constitutional amendment granting nationality to children born to a Brazilian parent living abroad. Previously such children risked ending up stateless, and it is estimated that up to 200,000 children could benefit from this development. And in a further step, later Tuesday the Brazilian Congress was scheduled to debate acceding to the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Stateless.
Globally, however, relatively small numbers of states have ratified the two statelessness conventions – just 33 in the case of the 1961 Convention (including Rwanda which signed up to both at the end of 2006) and 62 in the case of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. This compares to the 147 states that have now signed up to the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol.
"Despite the recent advances, millions of other people remain without an official identity, living in the Kafkaesque world of the stateless. In many cases they are unable to educate their children, benefit from government health care, get a legal job, travel abroad – or do any of a wide range of things which most of us take for granted," [UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer] Pagonis said.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Al-Jazeera reports that more than 2,000 people in Iraq are suffering from cholera, and 11 deaths from the disease has been confirmed. The WHO estimates that the number may be as high as 30,000 and is spreading into the northern provinces:
Since late August 2007, an outbreak of cholera has spread to 25 districts of Northern Iraq and 4 districts in Southern Iraq and across the centre of the country. It is estimated that more than 30 000 people have fallen ill with acute watery diarrhoea, among which 2 116 were identified as positive for Vibrio cholerae. The case fatality rate is 0.52% and has remained low throughout the outbreak, although it continues to spread across Iraq and dissemination to as yet unaffected areas remains highly possible.
The outbreak was first detected in Kirkuk province, where 68% of laboratory-confirmed cholera cases have so far been reported, and then spread to Sulaymaniah and Erbil provinces. Additional isolated cases of Cholera have also been identified in other parts of the country, including Tikrit (6 cases confirmed), Mosul (2 cases confirmed), Basra (1 case confirmed), Baghdad (2 cases confirmed) and Dahuk (1 case confirmed).
This is not the first time conflict and mass displacement has led to a cholera outbreak in Iraq. The last incident was in 1991.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
As more and more environmentalists start to tout the benefits of nuclear power as the lesser of two power-generation evils, the usual warnings about accidental power plant release and nuclear waste have been tossed back into the public agenda. Less-discussed are the hazards of uranium extraction and processing, which many mining companies are considering as a source of increased revenue.
From Doug Brugge's article in In Motion Magazine:
Last year, however, the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American government in the U.S., outlawed the mining of uranium. While the tribe’s jurisdiction is being challenged, the larger question, given the recent enthusiasm for nuclear power across the political spectrum and the potential to collect revenue from mining, is why would the Navajo Nation take such an action? They do not have nuclear plants operating nearby, nor is there a proposal to store nuclear waste on their lands.
The Navajo people’s opposition to nuclear power arises from a little discussed, but devastating, history of the effects of the early stages of the nuclear cycle, the mining, milling and processing of uranium on the health and well being of workers and affected communities. It has been estimated that over 1,000 uranium miners died from their exposure to radon gas in the mines in the U.S. and that many more died of silicosis. Certainly on a global scale the toll is considerably higher.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Naseem reports on a new Jordanian initiative to monitor web sites and blogs in order to keep them in line with the Kingdom's strict press and publication laws.
This new policy is the latest in a series of restrictions on free speech in the Kingdom, including the jailing of journalists for writing things “harmful to the country’s diplomatic relations.”
Sunday, September 23, 2007
New research on the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of greenhouse-gas-driven global climate change 55 million years ago, offers a glimpse into what the immediate future may hold for our planet.
The study has relevance because of the gigatonnes of methane locked in the Siberian permafrost today.
With the permafrost slowly retreating as a result of global warming, some experts fear a threshold whereby this huge stock of greenhouse gas may also be released, unleashing unstoppable climate change.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Longtime foreign aid critic William Easterly offers a lengthy review of aid agency performance in the October 2007 issue of Economic Policy:
The record of the aid agencies over time seems to indicate weak evidence of progress in response to learning from experience, new knowledge, or changes in political climate. The few positive results are an increased sensitivity to per capita income of the recipient (although it happened long ago), a decline in the share of food aid, and a decline in aid tying. Most of the other evidence – increasing donor fragmentation, unchanged emphasis on technical assistance, little or no sign of increased selectivity with respect to policies and institutions, the adjustment lending-debt relief imbroglio – suggests an unchanged status quo, lack of response to new knowledge, and repetition of past mistakes.
On this, the fifth annual International Day of Peace, the world situtation is not looking all that good. UN OCHA lists more than 25 current "complex emergencies" - aid-speak for humanitarian situations directly or indirectly related to internal and cross-border conflicts. OneWorld.net has a rundown of some of the major ones.
We can do better, as a country and as a species. Perhaps the best passage I've seen is from the preamble of the Earth Charter:
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world
becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move
forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human
family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global
society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards
this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater
community of life, and to future generations.
Happy International Day of Peace, everyone.
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله تعالى وبركاته
Thursday, September 20, 2007
We at toasterhead's blogosphere are proud to announce the instantiation of the new semi-weekly feature we like to call Dance, You Fools! For This Is Club Toasterhead!. If you like to listen to music whilst you read or blog or otherwise tilt your windmill against the establishment, then this feature is for you!
DYF!FTICT! will feature music from around the world that I enjoy, with a new regional or thematic theme every week. You can listen by clicking the big "Play" button on the DYF!FTICT! panel on the right-hand side of this page (you may need to be a Last.fm subscriber in order to listen, but it's free and I highly recommend it), and you can find out more about the individual artists by clicking the link in the list below.
A high-ranking Defense ministry official has spoken out (anonymously) against the collective punishment of Ghaza's 1 million residents, saying that the move "is just antagonizing the average Palestinian citizen."
The source went on to say that such a decision will strengthen Hamas rather than weakening it as the movement will become the victim while Israel becomes the one to be blamed.
"The recent demonstrations by Fatah loyalists in Gaza Strip, backed by Ramallah-based Palestinian authority exerted pressures on Hamas , and this Istraeli decision came to benefit Hamas," the same source explained.
16-year-old Palestinian boy run over by Israeli bulldozer
He continued, "The Palestinians in Gaza know that Hamas rule is bad, and that Hamas will attempt to make the autumn conference fail, yet the real threat is when the Palestinians feel frustrated about the conference, and desperation prevails in Palestinian territories. The Palestinians need hope and we must provide it for them."
Looks like the U.S. isn't the only country where the government isn't listening to the military officials...
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Greg Palast blogs about the police brutality towards one of his readers at the University of Florida. The response from Senator Kerry's team seems a bit revisionist.
I want my country back.
UPDATE: Even the Chinese are laughing at the hypocrisy of this incident in a democratic United States.
What's the easiest way to comply with a possible worldwide ban on cluster bombs? According to Landmine Action, Amnesty International, and several other rights organizations, the UK has simply reclassified its cluster bombs. Britain's CRV-7 "Happy Fun Machine," which can deliver 171 M-73 "Good Time Capsules" from a helicopter-mounted rocket pod, was classified as a cluster munition as recently as November 2006, but had its designation changed this summer. M-73s delivered "Good Times" extensively to targets in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, including to many children who picked up one of the 6% of munitions that failed to detonate on impact.
In February 2007 the UK joined 46 other nations in calling for a world wide ban on cluster bombs. This initiative, called the Oslo process, is expected to lead to a treaty banning cluster bombs next year.
“Ten years after it championed a treaty banning landmines the UK has a chance to do the same with cluster bombs – but instead it is spinning a cluster bomb con,” said Simon Conway, Director of Landmine Action. “This is a deeply cynical move. The UK Government needs to announce an immediate end to the use of these indiscriminate killers.”
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
An interim M&E report from the NEPAD e-Schools Demonstration Project, though short on detail and long on the glaringly obvious, presents a frank and interesting look at the promise and pratfalls of e-learning projects in Africa. The project, coordinated by the NEPAD e-Africa Commission (eAC), is a 16-country pilot for a larger initiative that aims to wire 550,000 schools by 2020. In each country, a pair of public-private partnerships between the education ministry, eAC, and a consortium led by AMD, Cisco, HP, Microsoft, or Oracle are to provide equipment, connectivity, training, learning materials, and a year of tech support to six selected schools in each country.
The World Bank press release summarizes some of the issues involved in the rush to meet Target 18 of the Millennium Development Goals:
Noting that the vision for the NEPAD e-Schools Demo may well have exceeded the practical bounds of its reach within the expected timeframe of the initial Demo project, and that the project is a very complex undertaking, given its range of stakeholders and its international scope, the report finds that NEPAD e-Schools remains a ‘work in progress’. That said, the report states that "the purpose of a demonstration project is not just to demonstrate, but also to learn from the experience", noting that lessons about how to coordinate the successful introduction of ICTs into African schools are being learned and applied in a number of areas.
What the release omits are some of the more interesting details of the report:
- As of year four of a one-year implementation, only three of the 16 countries (Kenya, Rwanda, and Mauritius) have fully completed the implementation in all six schools. Implementation has not yet begun in Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.
- Local IT partners are key to sustainability, as repair and maintenance support was otherwise nonexistent. (Duh!)
- Although students and teachers who got computer training reported that their tech skills were improved, the expected pedagogical shift toward student-centered learning didn't happen.
- Thanks to the initiative, African education ministries discovered the existence of computers and began shifting budget and policy priorities to high-profile ICT development.
- Perceived turf wars between the project implementers and civil society organizations prevented a lot of information and knowledge exchange that might have sped up implementation considerably. Whoopsie!
Monday, September 17, 2007
What do you do if you run into an uncontacted Peruvian tribe while searching for just the place to rape their rainforest land for oil? According to Survival International, some oil companies plan to shout at them through megaphones. This plan has been decried by indigenous-rights organizations.
No one knows the languages the Indians speak, and they are likely to view oil crews as hostile intruders. In the past oil company workers in the Amazon region have been killed by isolated Indians.
Despite this critical risk to their own workers, and the equal danger of spreading fatal diseases to the Indians, the companies, Barrett Resources of the US and Repsol YPF of Spain, have refused to suspend their plans.
Amongst the phrases Barrett’s workers are expected to say to their potential attackers are, ‘How many days (moons or suns) have you walked for?’, ‘We are people just like you’, ‘Is something disturbing you?’ and ‘We haven’t come here to look for women, we have our own women in our own village.’
If you'd like more on the politics and protocol of uncontacted tribes, Kojo Nnamdi spoke with Survival International's Jonathan Mazower on a show rebroadcast today.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
A new OECD study examines the potential costs and benefits of biofuels, and the picture isn't too good. Constraints on land use, effect of soil degradation, impact on food markets, carbon emissions and cost of fuels for production, and inefficient government subsidies and regulations all contribute to the dim forecast for biofuels, which the authors project will satisfy just 11% of global demand for transportation fuel by 2050.
Among the policy recommendations the authors make are a focusing of attention on second generation biofuels, global certification of biofuels, lowering trade barriers to biofuel imports, and a shifting of current policy away from single technologies or crops and towards more technology-neutral policies such as a carbon tax. Still, even with sound policy, it doesn't look like biofuels will have much impact on greenhouse gas emissions without a major shift on the demand side.
Bummer. And it was such a nice planet, too.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has unveiled a plan to create a carbon-neutral ecotourism development zone in Cyrene, a site of ancient Greek and Roman ruins and one of the last areas of undeveloped coastline on the Mediterranean. However, the elaborate press junket accompanying the opening ceremony of the Green Mountain Sustainable Development Area (for which hundreds of guests were flown in to a remote landing strip, driven to the site in a convoy of Mercedes vans, and housed in climate-controlled silk tents,)has some wondering whether the splan is more style than substance.
For archeologists, this is one of the most enticing regions in the world. Cyrene was a vast Greek city in the 7th century B.C., including temples, gymnasiums and villas with luxurious mosaics. "This place was really, really rich," said Serenella Ensoli, director of the Italian Archeological Mission to Cyrene, who has been working on the site for nearly 30 years. She noted that the leader of Cyrene brought the emperor Nero a kilogram of silphyium - a medicinal plant that was more expensive than gold. In the 1st century A.D., the city was part of the Roman Empire.
Saif Qaddafi noted that the project would bring tens of thousands of jobs and small industry to a now impoverished area. In a speech filled with talk of creeping deserts, deforestation and carbon emissions, he said that the project "had the potential to support the local economy based on environmental and cultural tourism."
The project's brochure is filled with photos and renderings that portray it as a green, upmarket version of Thailand's luxurious Phuket resort - though it is not clear where the tourists will come from, and basic infrastructure like an airport remains to be built.
Still, some at the festivities praised the effort. "They've got 1,000 miles of undeveloped coastline which they are trying to develop in an environmentally friendly way," said Anthony Pearce, an environmental consultant, of the 1,600-kilometer untouched area. "You've got to give them credit for that."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Our Voices Together is a nonprofit organization started by family and friends of 9/11/01 victims who have chosen to respond to their loss by making the world a better place. By building homes through Habitat for Humanity, connecting Afghan and American schoolchildren, or simply building cross-cultural connections, Our Voices Together recognizes that the only way to truly defeat terrorism is with compassion and understanding.
Monday, September 10, 2007
IPS reports on the imbalanced coffee trade relationship between European countries and Uganda, which is impoverishing farmers even as the demand for high-grade African coffee grows. Despite the efforts of fair-trade cooperatives such as Thanksgiving Coffee's Mirembe Kawomera ("delicious peace" in Luganda) partnership, most Ugandan coffee growers and exporters receive only 6% of the finished product's price.
"The biggest loser is the person directly involved in coffee bean production," says Henry Ngabirano, director of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority. Moreover, Ugandan producers get an ‘‘unequal share of the revenue generated by coffee beans".
But farmers face a number of challenges, involving the unavailability of bank loans or government subsidies to jumpstart their farming. ‘‘What we are lacking as Ugandan farmers, is support,’’ says Ronald Buule, a coffee bean farmer in central Uganda.
One of the biggest obstacles to eradicating poverty through coffee, however, is the heavy subsidizing of European farmers that makes even low-cost Ugandan coffee uncompetitive in the Eurpoean market. Combined with restrictive organic certification processes and exploitative economic partnership agreements, the prospects for Uganda's 1 million coffee farmers are dim.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
As reported by the folks at Gristmill, AlwaysOn Magazine has selected the top 100 private companies working to make eco-friendly technology both possible and profitable in the manufacturing, transportation, construction, agriculture, and other industries.
Hundreds of private companies were nominated by dozens of top venture capital firms and a wide breadth of green technology insiders. To make the final selection, companies needed to demonstrate that they excelled in our five primary evaluation criteria: innovation, market potential, commercialization, stakeholder value creation, and media attention or “buzz.”
The GoingGreen 100 winners will be honored at GoingGreen, an executive summit presented by AlwaysOn and the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management on September 10-12 at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis campus.
The overall winner was GridPoint, a Washington D.C.-based firm working to integrate load-balancing, energy storage, alternative energy generation, and hybrid electric vehicles into an energy-saving SmartGrid system.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
So after a three-year hiatus, the Yemeni millionaire, al-Qa'ida founder, mere symbol, indicted criminal, and possible dead guy, has produced another video message to the world. And despite some quibbling over his appearance and the simultaneously forbidden and recommended practice of dying of the beard, the experts seem pretty sure it's the real deal.
We were promised a "gift," and boy, does Mr. bin Muhammad bin 'Awad bin Laden deliver! There's a little something for everyone in this meandering rant.
Kennedy Assassination buffs get this bit:
In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation." "And so Kennedy was killed, and al-Qaida wasn’t present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing.
Congressional Democrats get a well-deserved scolding:
Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there, which has led to the vast majority of you being afflicted with disappointment.
Environmentalists get this shout-out:
And with that, it has become clear to all that they are the real tyrannical terrorists. In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations, yet despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the death and displacement of the millions of human beings because of that, especially in Africa.
The (Abrahamic) co-faithful (not counting Shi'ites) get a few plugs:
And did you know that the name of the Prophet of God Jesus and his mother (peace and blessings of God be on them both) are mentioned in the Noble Quran dozens of times, and that in the Quran there is a chapter whose name is "Maryam," i.e. Mary, daughter of 'Imran and mother of Jesus (peace and blessings of God be upon them both)? It tells the story of her becoming pregnant with the Prophet of God Jesus (peace and blessings of God be upon them both), and in its confirmation of her chastity and purity, in contrast to the fabrications of the Jews against her.
The holocaust of the Jews was carried out by your brethren in the middle of Europe, but had it been closer to our countries, most of the Jews would have been saved by taking refuge with us. And my proof for that is in what your brothers, the Spanish, did when they set up the horrible courts of the Inquisition to try Muslims and Jews, when the Jews only found safe shelter by taking refuge in our countries. And that is why the Jewish community in Morocco today is one of the largest communities in the world.
Even Libertarians get a tempting offer to convert to Islam:
There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling only 2.5%. So beware of the deception of those with the capital.
But by far the biggest winner is the Neoconservative Right. They are simply overflowing with baksheesh from the Usama bin Lottery!
They get an excuse to stay in Iraq indefinitely, fighting the 850 or so al-Qa'ida in Iraq fighters threatening to "follow us home" (since Iraqis in Jordan and Syria are already stacked three deep):
So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war.
However, there are two solutions for stopping it. The first is from our side, and it is to continue to escalate the killing and fighting against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out, and I ask God to grant them resolve and victory. And the second solution is from your side. It has now become clear to you and the entire world the impotence of the democratic system and how it plays with the interests of the peoples and their blood by sacrificing soldiers and populations to achieve the interests of the major corporations.
The racists and bigots and assorted Islamophobes get plenty of excuses to bash Islam, as if Usama himself hasn't already done enough damage to his alleged faith:
There is a message for you in the Mujahideen: the entire world is in pursuit of them, yet their hearts, by the grace of God, are satisfied and tranquil. The true religion also puts peoples' lives in order with its laws; protects their needs and interests; refines their morals; protects them from evils; and guarantees for them entrance into Paradise in the hereafter through their obedience to God and sincere worship of Him Alone."
And it will also achieve your desire to stop the war as a consequence, because as soon as the warmongering owners of the major corporations realize that you have lost confidence in your democratic system and begun to search for an alternative, and that this alternative is Islam, they will run after you to please you and achieve what you want to steer you away from Islam. So your true compliance with Islam will deprive them of the opportunity to defraud the peoples and take their money under numerous pretexts, like arms deals and so on.
But mostly the neocons and warmongers get the chance to conflate liberalism and terrorism, as Usama directs most of his ranting at the government-industry-military complex of the corporatocracy. Citing Noam Chomsky and Michael Scheuer and the American Empire, he echoes what many liberals have been talking about on the blogosphere for years:
This war was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like "no to spilling red blood for black oil," yet he paid them no heed. It is time for humankind to know that talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.
If you were to ponder it well, you would find that in the end, it is a system harsher and fiercer than your systems in the Middle Ages. The capitalist system seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of "globalization" in order to protect democracy.
And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system.
Those of us on the left, the voices of reason and sanity, must not take this lying down. We are not going allow ourselves to be bullied and conflated with terrorists. We may agree with some points of the message, but that does not mean we support the messenger or his tactics. This may be difficult for some thick-skinned ideologues on the right to understand, but it is a very important distinction that we must reinforce at every opportunity.
We need to take back our ideology.
This blog is my declaration in this regard. I hope others on my side of the blogosphere will do the same. Peace be upon he or she who follows THIS guidance.
Friday, September 07, 2007
A new report from Human Rights Watch reveals that most of the 900 Lebanese civilian deaths suffered during the 2006 War of Penis-Measuring were the result of indiscriminate Israeli airstrikes, and not their use as "human shields" by Hezbollah.
The 249-page report, “Why They Died: Civilian Casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 War,” represents the most extensive investigation to date of civilian deaths in Lebanon during the war. In five months of research, Human Rights Watch investigated 94 cases of air, artillery and ground attacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to discern the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 510 civilians and 51 combatants, nearly half the at least 1,109 Lebanese deaths during the conflict. Of the approximately 510 Lebanese civilian deaths investigated by Human Rights Watch, at least 300 were women or children. Human Rights Watch visited more than 50 Lebanese villages and interviewed 316 victims and eyewitnesses, as well as 39 military experts, journalists and Israeli, Lebanese government and Hezbollah officials.
Human Rights Watch found that a simple movement of vehicles or persons – such as attempting to buy bread or moving about private homes – could be enough to cause a deadly Israeli airstrike that would kill civilians. Israeli warplanes also targeted moving vehicles that turned out to be carrying only civilians trying to flee the conflict. In most such cases documented in the report, there is no evidence of a Hezbollah military presence that would have justified the attack.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Tom Engelhardt, author of The End of Victory Culture has a fascinating essay on his blog about the reemergence of victory culture in the Iraq Quagmire. In this culture, body counts and benchmarks replace traditional metrics of military success, and send our leaders on a pointless quest for a meaningless victory, at a price of thousands of lives and livelihoods.
When, finally -- 2010, 2012? -- we do pack up, head home from the Iraqi dead zone, and try to forget, it surely won't be as easy as it was 40-plus years ago (and, as the inability of our rulers to eradicate the "Vietnam syndrome" from their own brains indicates, it wasn't so easy even then). Whether or not, as the President claims, the crop of "terrorists" he's helped to grow will "follow us home," something will certainly follow us home. After all, when the troops return, if they do, they will return to a "superpower" that, in population life expectancy, has plunged from 11th to 42nd place in only two decades, and, in infant mortality terms, now ranks well below many far poorer countries.
Of course, by then, the President, Vice President, and those true believers still left in his administration will undoubtedly have entered the true American Green Zone, the one where a lecture to an audience of admirers can net you 75,000-100,000 greenbacks; where your story, no matter who writes it for you, will be worth millions; where your "library" can be a gathering place for "scholars"; and the "institute" you sponsor, a legacy recreating locus. It's a zone in which the accountant, not accountability, rules.
Monday, September 03, 2007
While the Bush Administration continues to futz around with a half-assed proposal to propose a series of meeting with other industrialized nations that will delay any politically-inconvenient action until well after the Bush regime is safely out of extradition range, the rest of the world is stepping up to the proverbial plate to combat climate change.
Another even more encouraging development is the recent proposal by Indonesia to form a coalition of eight countries that are home to 80% of the world's rainforests. The Rain-8, as I've dubbed them, comprise Brazil, Cameroon, Congo, Costa Rica, Gabon, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.
"It's important for the eight countries to have a joint consensus on their contribution to efforts to control global warming," spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said, adding that the group would look at how forest conservation can happen in tandem with economic development.
[AFP] reported that the grouping was a response to flaws in the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at reducing global carbon emissions, which focuses more on emissions from industry and overlooks forestry.
"The point is that we, the rainforest countries, want to ensure that we will have full ownership of our forests," Djalal was quoted as saying.
Imagine - countries actually owning their own natural resources. CRAZY!
Note to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - hire your bodyguards carefully and don't fly in any chartered planes.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
According to a new study to be published by the American Geophysical Union next, greenhouse gases were a driver of at least half of the near-record temperatures in the United States in 2006, and not the El Niño event previously suspected.
Using data from 10 past El Nino events observed since 1965, the authors examined the impact of El Nino on average annual U.S. surface temperatures. They found a slight cooling across the country. To overcome uncertainties inherent in the data analysis, the team also studied the El Nino influence using two atmospheric climate models. The scientists conducted two sets of 50-year simulations of U.S. climate, with and without the influence of El Nino sea-surface warming. They again found a slight cooling across the nation when El Nino was present.
To assess the role of greenhouse gases in the 2006 warmth, the researchers analyzed 42 simulations of Earth's climate from 18 climate models provided for the latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The models included greenhouse gas emissions and airborne particles in Earth's atmosphere since the late 19th century and computed their influence on average temperatures through 2006. The results of the analysis showed that greenhouse gases produced warmth over the entire United States in the model projections, much like the warming pattern that was observed last year across the country.
Take THAT, climate deniers!