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The Triple Curse of the Corporate Climate Bill


The Triple Curse of the Corporate Climate Bill
By Harvey Wasserman

Legend says curses come in threes. Let's pray that doesn't happen with the unholy trinity of the Corporate Climate Bill.

It demands drilling for oil, digging for coal and big money for new nukes. How such a devil's brew could help save the Earth conjures a corporate cynicism beyond the scope of the human mind and soul.

It all now bears a special curse. It was meant for Earth Day. Then it slipped to the April 26 Chernobyl anniversary. But co-sponsor Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pitched a fit over immigration and pulled his support.

As did Earth herself. Just prior, more than two dozen hill country miners were killed in a veritable Three Mile Island of black carbon. This entirely avoidable accident was built on years of sloppy denial by King Coal and the tacit assent of pliant regulators. With mountains of offal being pitched into rivers and streams, and underground hell holes filled with gas and soot, coal has been slaughtering people and eco-systems here for more than a century. Now, as at TMI, the death has become visible.

Meanwhile, the undersea gusher destroying the Gulf of Mexico may soon pour up the east coast. Like Chernobyl, it defies comprehension.

Take Action, DC: Support Social/Environmental Activist Ted Glick At Trial May 11th


Ted Glick wrote:

I go on trial, a jury trial, on May 11th in Washington, D.C. This is for hanging a banner last Sept. 8th, 2009, the day Congress returned from their summer recess, which said: "Green Jobs Now, Get to Work." This was part of a demonstration of about 40 people inside the Hart Senate Office Building.

It's ironic, and sad, that this call for action is as relevant now as it was eight months ago.

I was originally scheduled for trial in late February but it was postponed until May 11th. The government has made it clear they want to make an example of me because of prior convictions for similar actions. Their plea deal offer to me, which I rejected, was that if I pleaded guilty I'd have to serve 30 days in jail. They have filed a motion that, because of my past convictions, they may be asking for additional jail time if I'm convicted beyond the maximum 6 months that I'm liable for right now. I will be defending myself, with the assistance of lawyer Ann Wilcox.

I'm asking people who can to show up in court the morning (or the afternoon) of the 11th. The courtroom is the Superior Court building, 500 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington DC, Judge Frederick Weisberg presiding.

Please sign up at this link if you will be able to attend. Thanks much, Ted Glick

Click to read about Ted's lifelong work for social and environmental justice.

Uh-Oh: Hurricane Season and the BP Oil Rig Disaster

Dave Lindorff

One thing you don’t hear much mention of in all the coverage of the BP oil rig blowout that is now pouring 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, just a few dozen miles off the coast of Louisiana, is the 2010 hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1, but which can start significantly earlier.

This is, after all, an El Nino year, so storms could be more frequent and stronger than usual. In 2007, recall, the first storm of the season was Tropical Storm Andrea, which reached a size strong enough to merit a name on May 7, just a week later than today.

Why does this matter? Because any attempt to use booms or chemicals keep the oil away from the Gulf Coast would be completely impossible in the event of a major storm entering the Gulf. The combination of high winds, storm surges and high waves would push the oil slick way inland up the bayous and onto the shelter islands that protect 40 percent of America’s wetlands.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. And Eliot Spitzer Ask, Where Are The Prosecutors?


Bobby Kennedy Jr. And Eliot Spitzer Ask, Where Are The Prosecutors?
Watchdog Group Calls For Criminal Prosecutions Of U.S. Chamber Of Commerce

Washington, D.C.--StopTheChamber.com, a network of national organizations dedicated to corporate accountability, has been calling for months for a full criminal investigation into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its top staff, including CEO Tom Donohue, for racketeering, fraud, false reporting, and campaign finance violations. Now the network is adding obstruction of justice to that list. In the past two weeks, the United States has been hit with three major disasters, all tied to the polices and practices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. First, 29 miners were killed in a Massey Energy coal mine explosion, second, 11 oil workers were killed in an British Petroleum oil rig fire, and third, Goldman Sachs was charged with a massive billion dollar fraud enterprise. Each of these companies uses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with its army of lobbyists and lawyers, as its first line of defense, corruptly influencing politicians and judges to protect corporations and thwart investigations, and spinning public relations to justify criminal conduct.

The Chamber has spent hundreds of millions on behalf of Wall Street robber barons, and has been directly coordinating with Goldman Sachs to maximize its profits and minimize the fallout from its criminal activities. The Chamber has been fighting laws and regulations to protect worker safety on behalf of Massey Energy and British Petroleum, and in fact, Massey CEO Don Blankenship is a Director of the Chamber and confidant of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue. Massey and BP have been cited for thousands of safety violations, while the Chamber has been representing them and their trade groups to avoid regulation of any kind.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. said on Sunday (watch video here) that “Massey Energy is a criminal enterprise” that “cannot stay in business without breaking the law.” He says that Don Blankenship should “be in jail” for creating the conditions that led to the deaths of the 29 miners. On Tuesday, Eliot Spitzer, probably the most experienced attorney general to go after Wall Street criminals, asked, with regard to Goldman Sachs, “Where are the prosecutors?”

StopTheChamber.com calls on both the United States Attorney General and state attorneys general to launch widespread criminal investigations of the operations of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, racketeering and other serious felonies. “The Chamber is like the mafia dons of past eras,” said campaign spokesman and attorney Kevin Zeese. “All the criminal companies have to pay off the Chamber in order to get protection. The Chamber in turn launders that money in secret, and then pays off judges, politicians and even the media with donations, advertising, jobs, and other means of corruption. Tom Donohue, to quote Eliot Spitzer, ‘has never once found a crime that he couldn't justify, as long as it was committed by one of his dues-paying members.’ The Chamber, like the mafia, also uses threats to get its way, unleashing waves of goons, lobbyists and lawyers to intimidate anyone who dares to challenge it. Tom Donohue proudly says that the Chamber is so strong that ‘when it bites you in the butt, you bleed.’ We are calling on attorneys general across the country to focus their prosecutorial resources on the root of the corporate wrongdoing problem, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which enables, protects and conspires with these criminal companies to violate the law to the detriment of all Americans. There can be no more business as usual, and the Chamber must be held accountable in the same way the mafia dons were held accountable—prosecutions for conspiracy and racketeering.”

The Progressive Movement is Officially Dead

The Progressive Movement is Officially Dead
By Jane Hamsher | FireDogLake

Hey, Sierra Club: There’s a giant flaming ball of oil being pushed straight for the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi. Might be the worst environmental event in decades. I know it makes the President’s recent decision to allow offshore drilling look. . . well, awkwardly timed, but this is, sort of, you know, your issue, and there’s no mention of it on your landing page. Was it not on the agenda at the Tuesday afternoon veal pen meeting?...

Shortly after Obama took office, the White House tried to cut Social Security benefits, but they had to back off, fearful that they would lose the support of liberal interest groups who joined together en masse behind the scenes to oppose it. The administration subsequently herded them all into a room, threatened their funding, and captivated them in an effort to pass a health care bill written by the Heritage Foundation and the insurance industry. And the progressive groups went along with it, proving that there is absolutely no limit to what they’ll accept.

Of course, the White House is going to go after Social Security again. It’s the pot of gold at the end of Wall Street’s rainbow, and they desperately want that injection of cash which could keep their giant ponzi scheme from exploding. . . for a little while.

Lucky for them, Obama has successfully dismantled the opposition that kept George Bush from privatizing Social Security at Wall Street’s behest only a few years ago. Did anybody fail to get that message when majority whip Dick Durbin yesterday told “bleeding heart liberals” that they need to be willing to accept cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits for the economic well-being of the nation? And there will be zero pushback. Read more.

Pokeberry Valuable In Solar Production


Pokeberry valuable in solar production | UPI

"It's a low-cost solar cell that can be made to work with local, low-cost agricultural crops like pokeberries and with a means of production that emerging economies can afford," Carroll said.

A purple berry used by U.S. Civil War soldiers to write letters home could be used to advance solar power in poor rural areas, scientists said....When applied to fiber-based solar cells, the berry's dye acts as an absorber, helping the cell's fibers capture more sunlight to convert into power, Carroll said in a release from the university Thursday. Read more.

Nation's First Offshore Wind Farm Approved For Nantucket Sound

Nation's first offshore wind farm approved for Nantucket Sound
By Wayne Drash | CNN

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday approved the nation's first offshore wind farm, signing off on a project that has bitterly divided Cape Cod over the last nine years.

The 130 turbines are to be located several miles from the Massachusetts shore in the iconic waters of Nantucket Sound. The interior secretary said Cape Wind, as the project is known, is the start of a "new energy frontier."

"The United States is leading a clean energy revolution that is reshaping our future," Salazar told reporters in Boston. "Cape Wind is an opening of a new chapter in that future, and we are all part of that history."

"Cape Wind will be the nation's first offshore wind farm, supplying clean power to homes and businesses in Massachusetts, plus creating good jobs here in America," he said. "This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast." Read more.

Iraq Today: Afflicted by Violence, Devastation, Corruption, and Desperation


Iraq Today: Afflicted by Violence, Devastation, Corruption, and Desperation
By Stephen Lendman

Seven years under occupation, Iraqis still cope with what Refugees International calls "a dire humanitarian crisis that sees huge numbers of displaced (and other Iraqis) struggl(ing) to survive," a situation "for which the US bears special responsibility" but does nothing to correct.

Recent UNHCR figures estimate around 4.5 million refugees, nearly 2.8 million internal ones (IDPs), a third of these in squatter slums in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah al-Din. Many fear returning home. Most are impoverished. Settlements lack basic services, including water, sanitation, electricity, and health care. Education is difficult where available.

Camps are built in precarious places - under bridges, alongside railroad tracks, and near garbage dumps. In 2009, they were ordered to vacate. They remain. The directive was postponed, but they fear eviction with nowhere else to go, and little help for their needs and welfare.

Most get no government, US, UN or NGO aid given security's top priority. "The zero-risk mentality of the burgeoning security industry has hijacked more rational and creative thinking" to provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance.

As a result, the occupation grinds on while conditions deteriorate, "3,000 new individuals registering for refugee status each month," adding to a growing crisis. They lack proper shelter, food, health care and other essentials, living day to day fearing greater misery, disease or death.

Murphy's Law and the Stupidity of Obama's Drill-Drill-Drill Offshore Oil Policy

By Dave Lindorff

British Petroleum had a fail-safe system for it’s Deepwater Horizon floating deep-water drilling rig.

You know, the one that blew up and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a tangled spaghetti pile of 22-inch steel pipe one mile long all balled up on the sea floor a mile below the surface, and that is leaking oil at 42,000 gallons per day...so far.

The thing is, the fail-safe system, about the size of a McMansion sitting at the wellhead on the ocean floor, um, failed. It didn’t collapse and shut off the flow of oil as intended, and it could take months now to shut the well down--during which time the leak rate is likely to increase to up to 300,000 gallons per day, or over two million gallons a week.

Chernobyl Demands A REAL Climate Bill


Chernobyl demands a REAL climate bill
By Harvey Wasserman | April 26, 2010

This week 24 years ago, untold quantities of lethal radiation began pouring into the atmosphere from the catastrophic explosion at Chernobyl Unit 4. Nearly a million people have died because of it.

And on this horrific anniversary we have now seen the stumble of a very bad climate bill. The events are directly related.

Chernobyl's death toll has been bitterly debated.

But after nearly a quarter-century of industry denial, the New York Academy of Sciences has published, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, the definitive catalog and analysis. Drawing on some 5,000 studies, three Russian scientists have placed the ultimate death toll at 985,000.

The authors include Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the president of Russia; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist who was, at the time of the accident, director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. The book has been edited by Dr. Janette Sherman, a toxicologist expert in the health impacts of radioactivity.

As Karl Grossman has shown, Chernobyl's death toll stretches worldwide. Its apocalyptic cloud blanketed Europe and blew across the northern tier of the United States. Sheep in Scotland and milk in New England were heavily contaminated, along with countless square miles of land and sea.

Ohio's Davis-Besse may have come within a fraction of an inch of such a disaster, and has again been found with potentially apocalyptic structural flaws. Michigan's Fermi I and the infamous Three Mile Island Unit 2 did melt.

Now the brand new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 design has been deemed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as unable to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, and has turned up with a critical generic flaw that could cause it to explode.

Which is where the climate bill comes in.

TomDispatch: 350 Degrees of Inseparability, The Good News About the Very Bad News about Climate Change


From TomDispatch this morning: a typically inspired Rebecca Solnit on Bill McKibben's remarkable new book, Eaarth, and possible paths out of a global catastrophe. This is must-read Solnit about a must-read book by a must-read author -- "350 Degrees of Inseparability, The Good News About the Very Bad News about Climate Change." (And you can catch a TomCast audio interview with Solnit in which she discusses what hope can do in the worst of circumstances here.)

"These days, I see how optimistic and positive disaster and apocalypse movies were," begins TomDispatch regular Rebecca Solnit in her latest incandescent post. "Remember how, when those giant asteroids or alien space ships headed directly for Earth, everyone rallied and acted as one while our leaders led? We’re in a movie like that now, except that there’s not a lot of rallying or much leading above the grassroots level. The movie is called 'Climate Change,' and you can tell its plot in a number of ways.

Her piece focuses on one way that story has just been told -- in environmental activist Bill McKibben's new book Eaarth whose premise, she writes, "is not that something terrible came to Earth -- after all we were the ones, over the last 200 years, who sent all those billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere -- but that we ourselves have landed on a strange, dangerous, unfamiliar new planet he calls Eaarth. Think Forbidden Planet without Robby the Robot; think The Tempest with neither Ariel nor Prospero." If the first half of that book offers a nightmare vision of the transformed planet we're already living on, "the second half," she adds, "is a very practical handbook," and it's that handbook which Solnit -- known for, as in her most recent book, finding "paradise" in a hell of disaster -- focuses on in her usual irrepressible way.

This is simply must-read Solnit about a must-read book by a must-read author. She concludes: "If the ship of state can’t turn in time to avert catastrophe, it's time to jump ship and put ourselves into small, mobile lifeboats, canoes, outriggers, and kayaks. The age of the giants is over; the future belongs to the small fry. If we want to have a future, that is. It’s really your choice because, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you’re also starring in this movie." Read more.

Earth Day Tragedy: Officials Say Burning Oil Rig in Gulf of Mexico Has Sunk

Officials Say Burning Oil Rig in Gulf of Mexico Has Sunk
Burning Oil Rig Sinks in 5,000 Feet of Water While Seach Continues for 11 Men; One Suit Already Filed
By Lee Ferran, Jeffrey Kofman and Michael Murray | ABC News

A burning oil rig sank into 5,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico today while the search by air for 11 workers still missing continued.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the search, said it will now begin to assess the pollution the disaster has caused. About 300,000 gallons of crude oil have been released into the Gulf.

Nearly 100 survivors of Tuesday's explosion -- which sent several workers diving off the 75-foot platform -- arrived in a New Orleans port early this morning, Kerver said. Seventeen others were taken to area hospitals, some with critical injuries.

Overnight two Coast Guard cutters continued the search for the 11 missing, eerily illuminated by the massive fireball on the platform that has yet to be extinguished. The Coast Guard said aircraft were scheduled to resume the search at first light. Already nearly 2,000 square miles have been scoured, the Coast Guard said. Read more.

The Greening of the Gray Panthers

THE GREENING OF THE GRAY PANTHERS
By Joan Wile

One had always thought of the Gray Panthers as an admirable organization advocating for the dignity and rights of older people, as so brilliantly represented by its founder, the magnetic Maggie Kuhn.

But, one would have been not fully informed. On Saturday, April 17, the Panthers celebrated their 40 years of existence, and held two actions in Washington DC which made it clear that they are a multi-issue group on behalf of persons of all ages. Their struggle against ageism is still a very important part of their agenda, but they vest other causes with as much weight.

The first of their actions on Saturday was a mixed-generation rally at the White House with unique features exemplifying the theme of environmental protection. They carried three faux open coffins with fabric effigies of a man, woman and child. Rally attendees wore white protective masks to symbolize the dangers of global warming on the air we breathe. Other colorful touches were the repeated throwing of many facsimiles of Earth globes made of cotton into the air, another symbol of how we are all affected by the dangers of global warming. Two people wore hazmat suits while pushing two wheelchaired participants. A Hazmat suit is a garment worn as protection from hazardous materials or substances and is generally combined with a breathing apparatus.

FLOOR FIGHT! It's On! Challenger Winograd Takes Harman To CA Democratic Convention Floor

By Linda Milazzo

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Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy).

IT'S ON!

One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.

Kucinich Voices Concern Over Futenma Base Relocation

Kucinich Voices Concern Over Futenma Base Relocation
By Robert Naiman | Just Foreign Policy

Representative Dennis Kucinich sent a letter to Norman Dicks, chair of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, expressing concerns about U.S. plans to relocate the U.S. base at Futenma in Okinawa to Nago, and urging that the concerns of Okinawa residents be taken into account. The letter is here.

US Military Warns Oil Output May Dip Causing Massive Shortages By 2015

US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015
• Shortfall could reach 10m barrels a day, report says
• Cost of crude oil is predicted to top $100 a barrel
By Terry Macalister | Guardian.co.UK

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: "While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India." Read more.

StopTheChamber.com Campaign Calls For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide


No More Business As Usual

Our StopTheChamber.com Campaign Today Called For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide Of 29 West Virginia Miners

We Also Called For Congress Members To Order Halt Contact With Chamber Lobbyists

YOU CAN HELP BY JOINING AND SUPPORTING OUR CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE CHAMBER!

Our StopTheChamber.com campaign has been warning for months about the devastating effect of U.S. Chamber of Commerce policies on the well being of Americans. Specifically, we have condemned the Chamber for spending hundreds of millions to fight regulation of its dues paying members and regulation of pollution caused by those members. These actions have been led by Chamber CEO Tom Donohue and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the latter who runs vast coal mining operations in West Virginia, including the serial offending Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners were killed last week.

In a recent press release, attorney and campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said: “The convergence of the Chamber’s policies against regulation of workplace safety and the disaster of mining coal without regard for the environmental impact resulted in the death of 29 hard working West Virginian miners. This was not an accident, but rather the result of deliberate and intentional decisions and actions of Don Blankenship, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Blankenship and Chamber CEO Tom Donohue must be held accountable for these deaths. What is it going to take for Congress and the President to stop coddling criminals, masquerading as legitimate businessmen, who cause the death of our loved ones? Blankenship, with the lobbying army of the Chamber to back him up, has thumbed his nose at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, ignoring or appealing every violation, including the scores that resulted in coal mine evacuations and the hundreds of other serious violations. As the Washington Post pointed out in a Saturday editorial, these 29 deaths would not have occurred absent this intentional conduct of Blankenship. He is just as criminally culpable as any mass murderer.”

Today we called on federal law enforcement officials to charge Don Blankenship with homicide, and for a complete criminal investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its CEO Tom Donohue to determine what policies and practices led to the death of these miners, and whether Chamber lobbyists and lawyers were used to cover-up or avoid compliance with safety regulations. Criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrible crime will ensure accountability, expose the Chamber’s criminal conduct and pave the way for real worker safety across the nation.

We also called on all Congress Members to immediately issue a standing order to their staff to cease all communication and contact with U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyists. Now that the Chamber and its directors have been directly implicated in the homicide of 29 workers, there can be no more business as usual. Congress Members must stand up for working people by refusing to meet with and do the bidding of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose directors, policies and practices have killed and will kill again if they are not stopped.

New Solar Panel Roofs to Debut Next Year

New Solar Panel Roofs to Debut Next Year New $10K Solar Roofs Look More Traditional Than You Might Think
By Christopher Helman, Forbes.com | ABC News

When scientists at Dow Chemical looked at the possibility of manufacturing solar panels a few years ago, the company rejected it out of hand, says Chief Executive Andrew Liveris. Dow had no experience building solar panels. Yet their concept was alluring: integrate thin-film solar cells into roofing shingles. In place of traditional asphalt shingles, several hundred of these nailed onto the roof could generate enough electricity to power a home. Liveris sent them back to the lab, then decided to take the plunge.

Today those scientists are testing prototypes of the product, which Dow calls Powerhouse. Dow's aim is to start selling Powerhouse next year. Because they look like traditional roofing material, the solar shingles are more likely to get the nod from uptight homeowners' associations. Now, says Liveris, "I believe this will be solar for the masses."

That change of heart reflects the sunny outlook of Dow's solar champion, William Banholzer, whose title is chief technology officer. "I don't see any reason why people wouldn't want to generate clean electricity from their roof," he says. He adds that the market for this product could be $5 billion by 2015 and envisions that "someday Dow would be a solar company that happens to make chemicals." Read more.

French Theme Park Goes Au Naturel

French theme park goes au naturel
By Matthew Knight | CNN

... "Our attitude is simple and infuses everything we do. Come here and remember our connection to nature and our dependence on it for all we need. "Our work with communities across the country and abroad shows how quickly change can be made to happen when people work together and understand that 'sharing' makes us more than the sum of our parts."

The construction of a theme park in France's Loire Valley might cause the most benign environmentalist's strident tendencies to be awakened.

But they needn't fear. Log flumes, roller coasters and concrete castles are not on the agenda at Terra Botanica, a brand new environmental theme park near Angers, in the country's north-west.

The region, traditionally known as "The Garden of France" -- thanks to a horticultural heritage stretching back centuries -- is now home to an 11-hectare site devoted entirely to the enjoyment of the natural world. Read more.

Grand Iraqi Dreams - for Whom?

Grand Iraqi Dreams - for Whom?
By Nick Mottern | Truthout

The Joint Operating Environment 2010 report, of the US Joint Forces Command, released March 15, 2010, expressed this view:

The economic importance of the Middle East with its energy supplies hardly needs emphasis. Whatever the outcome of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces will find themselves again employed in the region on numerous missions ranging from regular warfare, counterinsurgency, stability operations, relief and reconstruction, to engagement operations. The region and its energy supplies are too important for the U.S., China, and other energy importers to allow radical groups to gain dominance or control over any significant portion of the region.

Engineers of Technital SpA, the Italian firm that designed the system to save Venice from flooding, are working on the future of Iraq as embodied in their plan for the "New Al Faw Grand Port" at the southern tip of Iraq, a $6 billion major deep-water port on the Persian Gulf that will be the largest in the Gulf.

At the same time, officials of Deutsche Bahn, the German railway system, are hoping to work with the Iraqi government on a rail system that would link Al Faw to Europe. It is possible that the system might carry crude oil and petroleum products as well as dry freight to the West to augment existing pipelines and avoid ocean shipment through choke points such as the Straits of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandab and the Suez Canal.

These plans point to a dramatically different Iraq from the emotionally, culturally and economically drained nation that it is today, horribly wounded by the US-led 2003 invasion. The Iraq of the planners will earn billions from its oil reserves, the third largest in the world, and it will attract billions from investors seeking to capitalize on its economically strategic location at the top of the Persian Gulf. Read more.

Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle To Sell For Less Than $33,000


Nissan Leaf electric vehicle to sell for less than $33,000
Written by Weston Sedgwick | Green Technology Daily

Nissan announce this week that its new electric vehicle (EV), the Leaf, will have a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $32,780 for the standard model.

The vehicle, designed to travel 100 miles on an average battery charge, will be available in some markets this December, with nationwide sales beginning in 2011.

Nissan said it would begin accepting online reservations for the Leaf on April 20 for a fully refundable fee of $99. The automaker noted that each Leaf would be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, as well as any potential state tax rebates for such alternative transportation. The nonprofit Plug In America called the pricing for the Leaf a "game changer" that will help to build a robust EV market. See the Plug In America press release.

As part of the buying process, Nissan will offer to install personal charging docks that operate on a 220-volt supply. The company said the average cost of the docks would be $2,200, but they too would be eligible for rebates. Read more.

Barack Obama Reverses Campaign Promise and Approves Offshore Drilling

Barack Obama Reverses Campaign Promise and Approves Offshore Drilling
President allows oil and gas exploration off several coastal areas to horsetrade with Republicans over climate change bills
By Suzanne Goldenberg | Guardian UK

Barack Obama took the Republican slogan "drill, baby, drill" as his own today, opening up over 500,000 square miles of US coastal waters to oil and gas exploitation for the first time in over 20 years.

The move, a reversal of Obama's early campaign promise to retain a ban on offshore exploration, appeared aimed at winning support from Republicans in Congress for new laws to tackle global warming. Sarah Palin's "Drill, baby, drill" slogan was a prominent battle cry in the 2008 elections.

The areas opened up are off the Atlantic coast, the northern coast of Alaska and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. However, in a concession to his environmentalist base, Obama did retain protection for Alaska's Bristol Bay, the single largest source of seafood in America and home to endangered species of whale. The Pacific Coast from Mexico to Canada is also off-limits.

Obama said the decision to allow oil rigs off the Atlantic coast was a painful one, but that it would help reduce US dependence on imported oil.

"This is not a decision that I've made lightly," the president said. "But the bottom line is this: given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we're going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy." Read more.

Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time

Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time
By John M. Broder | NY Times

The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.

Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border.

The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies. Read more.

If it doesn't kill them first

Iraq War Stunts Children’s Growth, Researchers Find

ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2010) — Iraqi children born in areas affected by high levels of violence are shorter in height than children born in less violent areas, according to a study at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The level of violence has varied across the provinces and districts, with the south and centre of Iraq being most affected and it is in these areas that estimates show children are on average 0.8cm shorter than their peers growing up elsewhere in the country.

The Wrong Kind of Green

The Wrong Kind of Green
By Johann Hari | The Nation

Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests--and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal?

At first glance, these questions will seem bizarre. Groups like Conservation International are among the most trusted "brands" in America, pledged to protect and defend nature. Yet as we confront the biggest ecological crisis in human history, many of the green organizations meant to be leading the fight are busy shoveling up hard cash from the world's worst polluters--and burying science-based environmentalism in return. Sometimes the corruption is subtle; sometimes it is blatant. In the middle of a swirl of bogus climate scandals trumped up by deniers, here is the real Climategate, waiting to be exposed.

I have spent the past few years reporting on how global warming is remaking the map of the world. I have stood in half-dead villages on the coast of Bangladesh while families point to a distant place in the rising ocean and say, "Do you see that chimney sticking up? That's where my house was... I had to [abandon it] six months ago." I have stood on the edges of the Arctic and watched glaciers that have existed for millenniums crash into the sea. I have stood on the borders of dried-out Darfur and heard refugees explain, "The water dried up, and so we started to kill each other for what was left."

While I witnessed these early stages of ecocide, I imagined that American green groups were on these people's side in the corridors of Capitol Hill, trying to stop the Weather of Mass Destruction. But it is now clear that many were on a different path--one that began in the 1980s, with a financial donation. Read more.

Executive Director of Greenpeace Joining Reality-Based Community

FROM THE DESK OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
March 25, 2010

I cannot believe that I am writing you this letter...

The international ban on commercial whaling, which Greenpeace fought tirelessly to pass in the 1980ís, is now in critical danger of being overturned.

A proposal has been put forth at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that would not only reinstate commercial whaling around the world, it would legitimize Japan's "scientific" slaughter in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Nearly 25 years of protection for the whales could be tossed out the window if this proposal passes at the next IWC meeting in June 2010.

Shockingly, the Obama administrationís representatives at the IWC actually support the deal to reinstate commercial whaling and are urging other nations to do the same. The delegates say that their directive comes directly from President Obama himself.

Stewart Udall, RIP

I cannot claim to be an expert on Stewart Udall, the Arizona Congressman, conservationist, supporter of environmentalist casandra Rachel Carson, and interior secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson who died this week at the age of 90.

I can say, from personal experience, though, that he was a breed apart from the money-grubbing, corporate ass-kissing, Washington cocktail circuit, elitist pigs who have headed up federal government departments in the days and years since Richard Nixon, in 1969, inaugurated the "Imperial Presidency."

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