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Shell Wins Rights To Iraq's Giant Manjoon Oil Fields
By Sinan Salaheddin and Tarek El-Tablawy | Huffington Post
Iraqi officials cheered and clapped as the first oil field up for bid went to a major international consortium at the opening of the country's biggest postwar auction Friday. But from there, the chill set in.
Oil executives from around the world made deals on only two fields, both in Iraq's relatively stable south, while shunning six others in regions with sporadic violence – and where the risk outweighs the profits that the Iraqi government is offering.
Iraqi officials portrayed the day as a success because they secured deals that will ramp up production in the two giant fields. But the lack of energetic bidding highlighted Iraq's difficulties in turning its wealth of oil – the world's third largest reserves – into a financial bonanza.
Energy experts say Iraq has been tightfisted in the deals it has offered major producers. There is also a long-running feud between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurds over control of petroleum reserves in the north.
Security is yet another issue, particularly in central Iraq and areas north of the capital. Read more.
Here's a portion of Tom Englehard's introduction on this (dangerously and sadly) timeless topic: Let me be blunt about what amazes me when it comes to global warming. In the U.S., it’s largely an issue for Democrats, “progressives,” liberals, the left, and I simply don’t get that. Never have. If the word “conservative” means anything, the key to it must be that word at its heart, “conserve”; that is, the keeping or not squandering of what already is, especially what’s most valuable.
And for us humans, what’s better than our planet? It’s the only home we’ve got and -- though I was one of those 1950s boys who read H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov, as well as plenty of pulp sci-fi, and spent too much time dreaming about other planets and the stars -- probably the only one we’ll ever have. For us, there is nowhere else. Wreck it and you wreck us.
...Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and TomDispatch regular, explains just why conservatives and everyone else around should board the global-warming express, and pull hard on the brake cord before it’s too late. You can, by the way, catch a TomDispatch audio interview with McKibben on President Obama and climate-change politics in the U.S. by clicking here. Tom
Climate Change as Just Another Political Problem
When it comes to global warming, however, this is precisely why we’re headed off a cliff, why the Copenhagen talks that open this week, almost no matter what happens, will be a disaster. Because climate change is not like any other issue we’ve ever dealt with. Because the adversary here is not Republicans, or socialists, or deficits, or taxes, or misogyny, or racism, or any of the problems we normally face -- adversaries that can change over time, or be worn down, or disproved, or cast off. The adversary here is physics.
Physics has set an immutable bottom line on life as we know it on this planet. For two years now, we’ve been aware of just what that bottom line is: the NASA team headed by James Hansen gave it to us first. Any value for carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million is not compatible "with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” That bottom line won’t change: above 350 and, sooner or later, the ice caps melt, sea levels rise, hydrological cycles are thrown off kilter, and so on.
And here’s the thing: physics doesn’t just impose a bottom line, it imposes a time limit. This is like no other challenge we face because every year we don’t deal with it, it gets much, much worse, and then, at a certain point, it becomes insoluble -- because, for instance, thawing permafrost in the Arctic releases so much methane into the atmosphere that we’re never able to get back into the safe zone. Even if, at that point, the U.S. Congress and the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee were to ban all cars and power plants, it would be too late. Read more.
By Dave Lindorfff
When I was back in eighth grade, my science teacher, Mr. Malone, a brittle old man with a shock of white hair and a stern classroom demeanor, but a sharp sense of humor, had made a banner that ran across the top of the blackboard. It read: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”
I used to ponder at that admonition every morning back in 1962, and its message did sink in, as I think it did in the minds of every student in the class who wasn’t just falling asleep in the back of the room, or idly daydreaming. Students in that class went on to become brain surgeons, genetic engineers, writers, computer scientists, horticulturalists and lawyers. I don’t think too many of us are conspiracy theorists.
Why We Left Our Farms to Come to Copenhagen
Speech of Henry Saragih, general coordinator of Via Campesina at the opening session of Klimaforum
By La Via Campesina | Copenhagen, 7th December 2009 | Common Dreams
Tonight is a very special night for us to get together here for the opening of the assembly of the social movements and civil society at the Klimaforum. We, the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, are coming to Copenhagen from all five corners of the world, leaving our farmland, our animals, our forest, and also our families in the hamlets and villages to join you all.
Why is it so important for us to come this far? There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, we would like to tell you that climate change is already seriously impacting us. It brings floods, droughts and the outbreak of pests that are all causing harvest failures. I must point out that these harvest failures are something that the farmers did not create. Instead, it is the polluters who caused the emissions who destroy the natural cycles. So, we small scale farmers came here to say that we will not pay for their mistakes. And we are asking the emitters to face up to their responsibilities.
Secondly, I would like to share with you some facts about who the emitters of green house gases in agriculture really are: new data that has come out clearly shows that industrial agriculture and the globalized food system are responsible of between 44 and 57% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.
HUNGER STRIKERS ARRIVE AT ONE MONTH WITHOUT FOOD RESOLVED IN CALLS FOR WORLD TO TAKE ACTION ON ROOT CAUSES OF CLIMATE CHANGE | Press Release
Seven climate justice activists from around the world have entered the fourth week of a water-only hunger strike,having gone totally without food since November 6. They have been joined by hundreds of solidarity fasters, from 22 different countries, including Romania, Honduras, and the Central African Republic.
Recent announcements from world leaders – including President Obama – indicate that a legally-binding international climate treaty won’t be signed at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December. The members of the ’Climate Justice Fast!’ remain resolute, insisting that both world leaders and the global public must use the much-anticipated summit as an opportunity ‘to shift away from business-as-usual and start addressing the root causes of the climate crisis – fossil fuels, over consumption, and a socio-economic paradigm that rewards abuse and exploitation of people and the planet.’
Anna Keenan, a 23 year-old Physics graduate from Australia and one of the key organizers of Climate Justice Fast! explains,“I am doing this hunger-strike because I am inspired by the philosophy of Albert Einstein – that problems can't be solved at the level of awareness that created them.” “In order to solve the climate crisis, we must challenge the assumptions that fossil fuels are ‘cheap’ forms of energy, that infinite economic expansion on a finite planet is possible, and that people and places are expendable commodities.”
Diane Wilson, a 61-year old fisherwoman from Texas part who is participating in the hunger strike, adds that “by rectifying the root causes of climate change, we are confident that our political demands – like commitments from wealthy, high-emitting countries to reduce the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 ppm and to pledge 195 billion USD per year for adaptation efforts in countries most vulnerable to climate change – will be met as well.”As the global hunger strike enters its fourth week, the diverse members of Climate Justice Fast! show no sign of abandoning their fasts or easing their moral call for immediate, effective action on climate change. The hunger strikers intend to fast at least until the end of the Copenhagen talks, which conclude on December 18. A number of the hunger strikers will be present inside the UN climate summit.
Energizer Bunnies: Turning Rabbits into Green Fuel
By Tara Kelly | Time
Sweden's Tommy Tuvuynger and his team of professional hunters don't have to go far to find their prey. Tuvuynger is employed to keep down rabbit numbers in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. The rabbit population there has exploded over the past few years thanks to owners setting free their pets. Last year the eradication squad killed 6,000 of the furry critters, which are not native to Sweden. When the city started killing the rabbits in 2006, officials realized they would have to dispose of their carcasses. At around the same time, the European Union passed a law that makes it illegal to dispose of raw meat or carcasses in landfills. Solution: use the bunnies as fuel to heat Swedish homes.
When German newspaper Der Spiegel broke news of the novel fuel source last month, many Swedes were outraged. "It feels like they're trying to turn the animals into an industry rather than look at the main problem," says Anna Johannesson of the Society for the Protection of Wild Rabbits. Johannesson and other wildlife campaigners recommend spraying the park with a chemical that makes shrubs and plants unappetizing to the animals. Tuvuynger, though, has little sympathy for that argument. "If you do that you only move the problem 100 meters away. Overpopulation is not good for the animals' well-being because they use up limited natural resources for survival, so shooting them is the only answer." Read more.
Bill McKibben of 350.org wrote:
We don't organize events for their own sake--there needs to be a strategy to make them worth your effort, because your time is this movement's most precious commodity.
Here's our sense of what will be happening at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, and why we're hoping some of you will start or join a candlelight vigil at a strategic or iconic location in your community on Dec. 11th or 12th.
The weekend for these vigils falls smack in the middle of the two-week Copenhagen talks. President Obama just announced that he will visit Copenhagen on December 9th--and there's no doubt that he'll deliver a rousing and eloquent speech. The following day, December 10th, he'll go on from Copenhagen to Norway to collect his Nobel prize.
We need to send a signal to say that speeches and prizes are good, but action is what's really required--enough action to head us back towards 350 parts per million.
Obama will bring an emissions target to the table in Copenhagen, a bittersweet development in this political drama. Sweet because having any sort of commitment from the U.S. increases the chances of global collaboration on a climate deal, bitter because US emissions target represents a paltry 3% reductions below 1990 levels--far from the ambitious cuts scientists say are necessary to get back to 350.
"The Obama administration's decision to continue the Bush administration's policy of refusing to join the international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines is a reprehensible rejection of the most successful disarmament and humanitarian treaty of the past decade," HRW said. [Read the full statement from Human Rights Watch.]
The Obama administration announced yesterday that it would not be joining a treaty signed by 158 other countries to ban landmines. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the decision "lacks vision, compassion, and basic common sense."
The group was also stunned by the manner in which the decision was apparently made and subsequently announced.
Although anti-landmine activists and congressional leaders had been urging the administration to begin reviewing the treaty for months, Obama administration officials never indicated that it had even started the process. Read more.
EFF to Represent Yes Men in Court Battle Over Chamber of Commerce Action | Electronic Freedom Foundation
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Also Joins in Free Speech Fight
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, will defend the Yes Men and other activists in a lawsuit filed against them by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over political criticism of the Chamber's stance on climate change legislation.
In mid-October, the activists staged a "press conference" in which the Chamber of Commerce ostensibly reversed its position and promised to stop lobbying against strong climate change legislation -- a stance that has caused numerous Chamber members to leave the organization. As has been widely reported, before the press conference was even completed, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and revealed that the Chamber's position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed.
"The action was a brilliant piece of political theater, but it had a serious purpose: calling attention to the Chamber's political activities," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "This is core political speech, protected by the First Amendment. We're very pleased that Davis Wright Tremaine -- with its long, successful history of protecting free speech rights of Americans -- has joined us in helping these activists battle a transparent attempt at censorship."
"U.S. courts have recognized that political parody lies at the heart of the First Amendment," said Davis Wright Tremaine LLP partner Bruce Johnson. "Even if the party parodied refuses to giggle--or even panics and sues--free speech will ultimately triumph. We look forward to a prompt dismissal of this case and a reaffirmation of the rights of all Americans to poke fun at the pompous and powerful." Read more.
Maine says NO to Nestle again!
By Jamilla El-Shafei, Organizer | Save Our Water | Kennebunkport, ME
Once again, Maine voters said NO to Nestle! Activists in the communities which surround the Branch Brook Aquifer, located in the southern part of the state handily defeated a water extraction ordinance on a referendum vote in the town of Wells. The ordinance, written under the direction of the Nestle Corporate lawyers, would have opened the door to large scale bottled water extractors. The vote was 3,194 against large scale extraction and 1,420 for, a 69.2% margin!!! This was a stunning defeat for the corporation who was ousted from McCloud, California and in Shapleigh and Newfield, Maine. This was convincing testimony that a grassroots campaign cannot be replaced by slick marketing and Greenwashing.
This was a classic David and Goliath battle. Activists were armed with photocopies to educate citizens about the dangers of corporate control of their groundwater resources but Nestle waged an unprecedented advertising blitz. They spent hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars to influence the vote in the small seaside community. However, their campaign backfired, as the townspeople were overwhelmed and annoyed by the barrage of ads and the appearance that Nestle was trying to "buy their vote."
Still, it was not enough that Nestle was pouring money like water into the campaign to play "spin the bottle," to convince people that they are good environmental stewards. Their PR firm resorted to employing many dirty tricks such as printing the WRONG POLLING HOURS on not just one advertising piece which they mailed to every household, but two! A mistake they said! but twice?! It is a tired old election trick the opposition employees when they are loosing.
Home to a worldwide summit on climate change in early December, Denmark is setting a global example in creating clean power, storing it, and using it responsibly. Their reliance on wind power to produce electricity without contributing to global warming is well known, but now they're looking to drive the point home with electric cars. To do this, they've partnered with social entrepreneur Shai Agassi and his company Better Place.
PBS’ NOW investigates how the Danish government and Better Place are working together to put electric cars into the hands of as many Danish families as possible. The idea is still having trouble getting out of the garage here in America, but Denmark be an inspiration.
Will so much green enthusiasm bring about a "Copenhagen Protocol"? This show is part of a series on social entrepreneurs at work that PBS’ NOW calls "Enterprising Ideas."
By Dave Lindorff
It would be easy to read too much into the few statewide races that were decided last night, but I think it’s fair to say that the results in New Jersey and Virginia, where Republican gubernatorial candidates won--in New Jersey’s case knocking off a well-funded Democratic incumbent--that the results were a blow to the Barack Obama/Rahm Emanuel strategy of playing to the right, of avoiding confrontation in Congress and of ignoring the progressive voters whose enthusiasm and effort back in the 2008 campaign put Obama in office.
BYD says that its new E6 electric car due out before the end of the year will do 250 miles (400km) on a single charge. READ MORE AT BBC.
By Dave Lindorff
The Nuclear Regulator Commission will be holding hearings tomorrow and Wednesday in Hawaii on an application by the US Army for a permit to have depleted uranium at its Pohakuloa Training Area, a vast stretch of flat land in what’s called the “saddle” between the sacred mountains of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island, and at the Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. In fact, what the Army is asking for is a permit to leave in place the DU left over from years of test firing of M101 mortar “spotting rounds,” that each contained close to half a pound of depleted uranium (DU). The Army, which originally denied that any DU weapons had been used at either location, now says that as many as 2000 rounds of M101 DU mortars might have been fired at Pohakuloa alone.
But that’s only a small part of the story.
The Labor Network for Sustainability needs you
-- And you need it.
Are you in the labor movement? Are you concerned about a sustainable future? Climate change? Economic justice? If so, you should know about the Labor Network for Sustainability.
The LNFS was launched in October, 2009 by labor activists who are concerned about a more just and sustainable world.
Reflecting the growing concern within organized labor and its allies not only with climate change but with an array of issues that threaten our long-term future, the LNFS will bring together activists from many different labor organizations to make labor a more effective force for sustainability. It will address the issues -- from water resources to food security, from economic justice to corporate accountability, from climate protection to renewable energy -- that will determine whether we have a just and sustainable future.
Conservationists fear the decision to allow Shell to drill for offshore oil in the Arctic will threaten polar bears and endangered animals. Photograph: Hans Strand/ Hans Strand/Corbis
U.S. gives Shell green light for offshore oil drilling in the Arctic
Conservationists say the decision by the Obama administration to allow drilling in the Beaufort Sea repeats Bush era mistakes
By Ed Pilkington | Guardian.UK
Conservation groups based in Alaska have accused the Obama administration of repeating the mistakes of George Bush after it gave the conditional go-ahead for Shell to begin drilling offshore for oil and natural gas in the environmentally sensitive Beaufort Sea.
The Minerals Management Service, part of the federal Interior Department, yesterday gave Shell the green light to begin exploratory wells off the north coast of Alaska in an Arctic area that is home to large numbers of endangered bowhead whales and polar bears, as well as walruses, ice seals and other species. The permission would run from July to October next year, though Shell has promised to suspend operations from its drill ship from late August when local Inuit people embark on subsistence hunting.
Environmentalists condemned the decision to allow drilling, saying it would generate industrial levels of noise in the water and pollute both the air and surrounding water. Rebecca Noblin, an Alaskan specialist with the conservation group the Centre for Biological Diversity, said: "We're disappointed to see the Obama administration taking decisions that will threaten the Arctic. It might as well have been the Bush administration." Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
How absurd is it that we have the government on the one hand pulling back from using a hollowed out mountain in Nevada to store nuclear waste because of a fear (legitimate I grant) that hundreds or thousands of years hence, some earthquake or other catastrophe could cause the stored waste to leak into the water table, while on the other hand we have this same government deliberately taking some of the most dangerous waste--the actual uranium from the used fuel rods--and putting it into bombs, shells and bullets to be splattered and burned all across the landscape?
And I should note that it's not just remote places like Iraq and Kuwait and Afghanistan that are being covered in super toxic and radioactive uranium dust--and I'm not just talking about the stuff that gets picked up in the wind and carried around the globe, or the stuff that gets inhaled by our troops and carried home internally, bad enough as that is.
By David Swanson
Pulling pranks on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is just too easy. The Yes Men held a press conference this week pretending to speak for the chamber and fooled the journalists in the room, because "We are no longer going to promote the destruction of the earth's climate" is such a compelling position that it's very tempting to imagine that any human being could adopt it.
But Tom Donohue and his chamber take the opposite position and have for years. William Kovacs, a senior vice president at the chamber, told the LA Times he'd like to stage a "Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" to deny, not evolution, but human-made climate change.
Yes Men, Activist Group, Teamed Up On Chamber Hoax
Zachary Roth | TPM Muckraker
Well, it looks like we were right.
The Chamber of Commerce hoax was perpetrated by the Yes Men, in tandem with a group of activists known as the Avaaz Action Factory.
Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum showed up at the 11am press conference that had earlier been announced by a "Chamber of Commerce" press release, and, impersonating a Chamber executive, declared:
We at the Chamber have tried to keep climate science from interfering with business. But without a stable climate, there will be no business.
At some point, reports Mother Jones, an actual Chamber spokesman showed up and yelled: "This is fraudulent!" Read more.
A press release sent out under the banner of the Chamber of Commerce, announcing a major shift in the group's position on climate change, is a hoax.
J.P. Fielder, a spokesman for the Chamber, confirmed the hoax to TPMmuckraker. He said the Chamber was unaware of who was behind it.
The name Erica Avidus is listed as a contact on the press release. A recording at the number listed for Avidus says "this is Erica Avidus with the Chamber of Commerce." But Fielder said that no one by that name works there. Avidus is Latin for "greedy." Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
The horrors of the US Agent Orange defoliation campaign in Vietnam, about which I wrote on Oct. 15, could ultimately be dwarfed by the horrors caused by the depleted uranium weapons which the US began using in the 1991 Gulf War (300 tons), and which it has used much more extensively--and in more urban, populated areas--in the Iraq War and the now intensifying Afghanistan War.
Translated from original
Climate Organizations: “Trouble-maker legislation” scares demonstrators
New “trouble-maker legislation” is unnecessary and prevents people from using their democratic right to demonstrate, say climate organizations.
The government is playing double jeopardy when they on one hand donate 20 million Danish kroner to peaceful activists and on the other want to impose hard punishment on people who wish to speak up.
This is the opinion of the organization People’s Climate Action (PCA), founded in 2008 by the Danish Foreign Ministry in order to secure a peaceful and organized course with activists during the climate conference.
Today the Danish Minister of Justice, Brian Mikkelsen presents “trouble-maker legislation”, which will give the police more opportunities to make arrests and sentence demonstrators during the climate conference.
The world has failed to slow the accelerating extinction crisis despite 17 years of national and international efforts since the great hopes raised at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The last big promise to act was in 2003, when government ministers from 123 countries committed to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
Experts convening an international meeting in South Africa this week agree that target will not be met next year, which is also the International Year of Biodiversity.
"It is hard to imagine a more important priority than protecting the ecosystem services underpinned by biodiversity," said Georgina Mace of Imperial College in London, and vice chair of the international DIVERSITAS programme, a broad science-based collaborative.
"We will certainly miss the target for reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010," said Mace in a statement.
Biodiversity is not just weird-looking animals and pretty birds. It is the diversity of life on Earth that comprises the ecosystems that provide vital services, including climate regulation, food, fibre, clean water and air.
By some estimates, 12,000 species go extinct every year, and the rate is accelerating. Akin to a cataclysmic asteroid, pollution, logging, over-exploitation, consumption, land use changes and engineering projects have produced the planet's sixth great extinction of species. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
It’s not as much of a travesty as when Henry Kissinger, a war criminal of the first order who was an architect of the latter stages of the Indochina War, and was personally responsible for the slaughter of well over a million innocent people, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, while that war was still raging, but the awarding of the latest Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama is travesty enough.
We’re talking about a man whose practically first act upon taking office early this year was to escalate the ugly and pointless war in Afghanistan with the addition of some 20,000 troops, and who, even as the Nobel committee was discussing his award, was meeting with his military and political advisors to consider expanding that war even further, both in Afghanistan and across the border into Pakistan.
New Film Seeks Answer to Mystery of Vanishing Bees
By Mike Collett-White | ABC News
A new documentary seeks to unravel the mystery of why billions of honey bees have been disappearing from hives across the United States, and concludes that the chief suspect is pesticides.
"Vanishing of the Bees," which has a limited theatrical release in Britain from next week, follows the fate of a group of U.S. beekeepers hit by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which first struck in 2004 and made U.S. headlines three years later.
Countless bees would suddenly vanish, leaving an empty hive but few bodies, and the phenomenon has variously been linked to mites, disease, genetically modified crops, mobile phones and, in the words of one beekeeper, "PPB," or "piss-poor beekeeping."
While the cause has yet to be established, the film suggests there is a link to pesticides, and particularly those applied to seeds as opposed to sprayed on existing plants. Read more.