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A Convenient Delusion

A Convenient Delusion
Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor | The Crisis Papers

"Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." --Richard Feynman

The same sort of public relations wizardry that once convinced a sizeable portion of Americans that cigarette smoking was harmless, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, that Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet, and that John Kerry's war record was fraudulent, is now convincing an increasing number of our citizens that global warming is at least of little consequence, or, at most, a massive hoax.

This trend is reported by the Pew Research Center which, in August, 2006, found that 77% of the public believed that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming. In October, 2009, that number had dropped to 57%. In the same period, the percentage of those who denied that there is such evidence increased from 17% to 33%. An early Pew poll found that "global warming ranked dead last among 40 concerns ranked by the 1503 respondents to the poll."

Unfortunately, as John Adams observed, "facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Here are some of those stubborn facts:

  • The decade of the 2000s was the warmest on record, containing eight of the ten warmest years.
  • The summer Arctic ice cap is likely to disappear completely in 30 to 40 years. This alarming trend is reported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and McGill University (Canada). Ice reflects 80% of solar radiation, while the open sea absorbs 80% of the radiation, which means that an open Arctic Ocean is certain to heat up the atmosphere.
  • Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means that it "captures" incoming solar radiation. This is fortunate, for without atmospheric CO2, most of the earth would be too cold to support human life. These facts were discovered by John Tyndal in 1859 and confirmed by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. But with the advent of the industrial revolution and the massive consumption of fossil fuels, the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide has almost doubled to nearly 390 parts per million today.
  • Methane is about 22 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and vast amounts of methane are being released in the warming arctic tundra and from the warming oceans (in the form of methane cathrate).

Climate change skeptics have succeeded in convincing much of the public that global warming is a live issue of contention among climate scientists. The facts tell us otherwise. For example, in December, 2004, Science Magazine (AAAS) reported:

Opinion: Big Oil Gets The Biggest U.S. Energy Subsidies of All

Opinion: Big oil gets the biggest U.S. energy subsidies of all
By Blaine Townsend | Mercury News

Ever since New England Whalers ran the oil business, we've been a country of "barrel half-full" types. There will always be more oil! All it takes is a prone leviathan, a deposit in an unstable, war-torn country or a new find in the middle of some environmentally sensitive area.

Unfortunately, we need to find the equivalent of a new Saudi Arabia every four years just to keep up with demand around the world. And that isn't getting any easier. Pumping seawater under the Arabian Desert and squeezing oil from tar sands near Glacier National Park is a lot more expensive than boiling blubber or watching oil gush on the West Texas plains. And we all foot the bill.

Today, the oil industry receives north of $100 billion per year in subsidies and collateral support. This is the equivalent of one AIG bailout per year, every year. The web of direct subsidies includes billions in government sponsored low-cost construction loans and tax breaks like the Foreign Tax Credit. "Last in, first out" accounting practices, special write-downs for core operations and royalty "relief" for leases in the Gulf of Mexico have robbed the federal coffers of billions more.

This past September, the Environmental Law Institute released a study on direct subsidies to Big Oil from 2002-2008. The conservative tally was $72 billion, compared to $13 billion for nonethanol alternatives. And unlike support for alternative energy or other industries, many of these direct subsidies are written permanently into the tax code, not phased in and out of various legislations.

By contrast, funding for alternative fuels waxes and wanes with political will. For example, funding for alternatives took a precipitous drop in 2006 and 2007 before rebounding last year. Read more.

U.S. Companies Shut Out as Iraq Auctions Its Oil Fields

U.S. Companies Shut Out as Iraq Auctions Its Oil Fields
By Vivienne Walt | Time

Those who claim that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to get control of the country's giant oil reserves will be left scratching their heads by the results of last weekend's auction of Iraqi oil contracts: Not a single U.S. company secured a deal in the auction of contracts that will shape the Iraqi oil industry for the next couple of decades. Two of the most lucrative of the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts went to two countries which bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion — Russia and China — while even Total Oil of France, which led the charge to deny international approval for the war at the U.N. Security Council in 2003, won a bigger stake than the Americans in the most recent auction. "[The distribution of oil contracts] certainly answers the theory that the war was for the benefit of big U.S. oil interests," says Alex Munton, Middle East oil analyst for the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, whose clients include major U.S. companies. "That has not been demonstrated by what has happened this week."

In one of the biggest auctions held anywhere in the 150-year history of the oil industry, executives from across the world flew into Baghdad on Dec. 11 for a two-day, red-carpet ceremony at the Oil Ministry, broadcast live in Iraq. With U.S. military helicopters hovering overhead to help ward off a possible insurgent attack, Oil Minister Hussein Al-Shahrastani unsealed envelopes from each company, stating how much oil it would produce, and what it was willing to accept in payment from Iraq's government. Rather than giving foreign oil companies control over Iraqi reserves, as the U.S. had hoped to do with the Oil Law it failed to get the Iraqi parliament to pass, the oil companies were awarded service contracts lasting 20 years for seven of the 10 oil fields on offer — the oil will remain the property of the Iraqi state, and the foreign companies will pump it for a fixed price per barrel.

Far from behaving like the war-ravaged, bankrupt country that it is, Iraq heavily weighted the contracts in its own favor, demanding a low per-barrel price and signing bonuses of up to $150 million. Only one U.S. company, Occidental Petroleum Corp., joined the bidding last weekend, and lost. Read more.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on How to Tackle Climate Change: “We Must Go from Capitalism to Socialism”

We speak with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about climate change, the Copenhagen summit and President Obama. Chavez calls the COP15 summit undemocratic and accuses world leaders of only seeking a face-saving agreement. “We must reduce all the emissions that are destroying the planet,” Chavez says. “That requires a change in the economic model: we must go from capitalism to socialism.”

Tomgram: Terminator 2009, Judgment Days in Copenhagen

From TomDispatch this evening, a fabulous near end-of-year piece by Rebecca Solnit on our apocalyptic imagination versus the real apocalypse that may await us -- Rebecca Solnit, "Terminator 2009, Judgment Days in Copenhagen."

Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch regular and author of A Paradise Built in Hell, recently watched Terminator 2 on a TV set in New Orleans, the Superdome where thousands were trapped after hurricane Katrina just out the hotel window. In a fever dream, possibly from swine flu, she conjurs up Sarah Palin ("a Terminator cyborg sent from the future to destroy something -- but what?") and the film's heroine Sarah Connor, attempting to save the human race from a plague of Terminators, but in the wrong apocalypse. How comfortable, she thinks, T2's apocalypse now seems in which our own intelligent machines set out to destroy us when, unfortunately, it's our perfectly dumb ones that seem determined to do the actual deed, while the leaders of the world's major greenhouse gas emitters fail to agree in a meaningful way at Copenhagen and elsewhere.

Like Solnit's state in New Orleans, our world might be mistaken for a fever dream of some sort. After all, the Terminator who, in T2, saves John Connor (and so the world), is now the governor of California, a "state with an uncertain shoreline," thanks to globally rising waters, a conservative who has nonetheless tried to deal with climate change. She considers the governor releasing California's 2009 "climate adaption strategy" on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, which "with even modest further rises in sea-level... will disappear entirely. Hasta la vista, baby." And assesses our world and its fate from the coast of California to Copenhagen.

This marvelous post manages to catch the dark edge of a difficult and dangerous situation, but in the normal Solnitsian fashion, with hope for what we -- all of us -- can still do. She concludes:

"The learning curve for so many of us, for so many people and even nations, has been speeding up impressively. If we had 40 years to figure it all out, we might be headed toward just the sort of victory that civil society has, in fact, achieved on so many other environmental and human-rights ideas. But there aren’t decades to spare. It needs to happen now. It should have happened even before the last century ended.

"Even in my fever dream, with the Superdome just out the window, I couldn’t help noting the key axiom repeated in Terminator 2: 'The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.'

"So here’s the lesson: there are no superheroes but us.

"And here’s the question: what are you going to do about it?"

Terminator 2009: Judgment Days in Copenhagen
By Rebecca Solnit | TomDispatch.com
For Isaac Francisco Solnit, born December 17, 2009

It’s clear now that, from her immovable titanium bangs to her chaotic approximation of human speech, Sarah Palin is a Terminator cyborg sent from the future to destroy something -- but what? It could be the Republican Party she’ll ravage by herding the fundamentalists and extremists into a place where sane fiscal conservatives and swing voters can’t follow. Or maybe she was sent to destroy civilization at this crucial moment by preaching the gospel of climate-change denial, abetted by tools like the Washington Post, which ran a factually outrageous editorial by her on the subject earlier this month. No one (even her, undoubtedly) knows, but we do know that this month we all hover on the brink.

I’ve had the great Hollywood epic Terminator 2: Judgment Day on my mind ever since I watched it in a hotel room in New Orleans a few weeks ago with the Superdome visible out the window. In 1991, at the time of its release, T2 was supposedly about a terrible future; now, it seems situated in an oddly comfortable past.

What apocalypses are you nostalgic for?  The premise of the movie was that the machines we needed to worry about had not yet been invented, no less put to use: intelligent machines that would rebel against their human masters in 1997, setting off an all-out nuclear war that would get rid of the first three billion of us and lead to a campaign of extermination against the remnant of the human race scrabbling in the rubble of what had once been civilization. Read more.

Climate Conference In Copenhagen Ends With Statement Of Intent

Climate conference in Copenhagen ends with statement of intent
After two weeks of delays, theatrics and frantic deal-making, the U.N. climate-change talks concluded in Copenhagen early Saturday with a grudging agreement by the participants to "take note" of a pact shaped by five major nations, including the United States.
By Andrew C. Revkin and John M. Broder, The New York Times | Seattle Times

The key elements of the Copenhagen Accord, worked out among the United States, China, Brazil, India and South Africa, on Friday:

  • Nations agreed to cooperate in reducing emissions "with a view" to scientists' warnings to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels.
  • Developing nations will report every two years on their voluntary actions to reduce emissions. Those reports would be subject to "international consultations and analysis," a concession to the United States by China, which had seen this as an intrusion on its sovereignty.
  • Richer nations will finance a $10 billion-a-year, three-year program to pay for poorer nations' projects to deal with drought and other climate-change impacts, and to develop clean energy.
  • They also set a "goal" of mobilizing $100 billion-a-year by 2020 for the same adaptation and mitigation purposes.

After two weeks of delays, theatrics and frantic deal-making, the U.N. climate-change talks concluded in Copenhagen early Saturday with a grudging agreement by the participants to "take note" of a pact shaped by five major nations, including the United States.

The final "Copenhagen Accord," a 12-paragraph document, was a statement of intention — not a binding pledge to begin taking action on global warming — a compromise seen to represent a flawed but essential step forward.

Many delegates of the 193 countries that had gathered left Copenhagen in a sour mood, disappointed that the pact lacked so many elements they considered crucial, including firm targets for mid- or long-term reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions and a deadline for concluding a binding treaty next year. Read more.

DC Nuclear Disarmament Planning Kicks Off TONIGHT, 7 PM

DC AREA DISARMAMENT PLANNING
WHEN: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 7:00pm
WHERE: St. Stephen's Church - Auditorium, 16th St & Newton St., NW (1525 Newton Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010-3103) - Green line, Columbia Heights Station

In the wake of President Obama's repeated advocacy for "the peace of a world without nuclear weapons," many things are happening on the Nuclear Disarmament front.

The next six months represent historic opportunity for disarmament progress, or a perilous descent into another "generational commitment" to further Weapons Development, at enormous cost. (Currently the US alone spends $52+ Billion a year on nukes.)
Please join us for a review of disarmament progress, proposals on the table, likely prospects for the near and further terms, and what we, the people, can do to help secure the peaceful future that we deserve.

Considering:
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference - May 2010, United Nations, New York City - This periodic review (every 5 years) of the "mother treaty" for nuclear disarmament is driving the disarmament bus right now. Diplomatic positioning for this May treaty is ongoing. Of course, so much depends on what the US brings to the table beyond our president's rhetoric. Including:

Renewal of the START Treaty with Russia - December 2009?
Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) - Spring 2010 (Possible) - Signed in 1996 but rejected by the US Senate in 1999, the CTBT still must be approved by 67 US Senators before it goes into effect. . .
Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) - Language pending. (Advocated by Secretary of State Clinton in her signal USIP nuclear policy speech.)
Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone
Mayors For Peace/Cities Are Not Targets (CANT)
Legislative Opportunities (HR 1653, H Res. 333, H Res. 278, HR 515, HR 644, more?)

Planning for Potential Actions:

Shell Wins Rights To Iraq's Giant Manjoon Oil Fields

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.

Key Oil Auction in Iraq Today: Foreign Companies Could Produce Majority of Iraq's Oil for First Time in 35 Years

Key Oil Auction in Iraq Today: Foreign Companies Could Produce Majority of Iraq's Oil for First Time in 35 Years
By Antonia Juhasz | Huffington Post

Will Bush's Oil Agenda Lock Obama Further Into War?

Today and tomorrow (12/11 & 12/12/2009) in Baghdad, the world's last great oil bonanza opens to the highest bidders. This auction will finalize an oil revolution in Iraq placing the majority of the nation's oil production in foreign hands for the first time in 30 years.

Some 44 international companies will bid on 11 groups of massive oil and gas fields, Iraq's "non-producing" and as of yet "undiscovered" fields. A prior round of bidding, for eight of Iraq's currently producing fields, completed in November.

Iraq has eighty known oil fields holding some 115 billion barrels of oil, just seventeen of which currently pump oil. There has been no meaningful oil exploration in Iraq for over twenty years and it is estimated that it's "undiscovered" fields could hold as much as an additional 285 billion barrels of oil - giving Iraq the largest oil reserves in the world.

Before the U.S. and British invasion, Iraq had a fully nationalized oil sector. But things were changing. Saddam Hussein was negotiating contracts with foreign oil companies. None of the contracts, however, could take effect while the UN sanctions remained in place. Three countries held the largest contracts: China, Russia, and France--all members of the UN Security Council and all in a position to advocate for the end of sanctions. Court proceedings revealed that lists of these contracts were reviewed by oil and energy company representatives as part of Vice President Cheney's National Energy Policy Development Group (better known as the Cheney Energy Task Force). None of their companies' names were on the lists. Were Hussein to remain in power and the sanctions to be removed, these contracts - none with any U.S. or major British companies - would take effect, and the U.S. and its closest ally would be shut out.

The Cheney Energy Task Force released its final report in May 2001, arguing that Middle Eastern countries should be urged, "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment." This has now been achieved in Iraq. The sanctions are gone, foreign investment can proceed, and the problem of U.S. and British exclusion is over.

It has taken the full six years since Saddam Hussein ouster for the oil companies to finalize contracts. Read more.

US-Iran Talks: The Road to Diplomatic Failure

US-Iran Talks: The Road to Diplomatic Failure
By Gareth Porter | Truthout

The talks between the G5 plus 1 and Iran are careening toward a premature breakdown. If they do fall apart, it will be due in large part to a serious diplomatic miscalculation by the Obama administration.

Along with its European allies, the Obama administration seized on a plan that cleverly asked Iran to divest itself of the bulk of its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU). It seemed to represent a golden opportunity to set back Iran's nuclear program, and despite the warning signs that such an objective is not achievable by the West, it lured the West away from a serious effort to find a diplomatic compromise with Iran aimed at defusing the decades-long hostility between Washington and Tehran.

The origins of the immediate diplomatic drama surrounding the proposal lay in Iran's need to supply fuel for its US-built Tehran research reactor producing medical radioisotopes. Iran had obtained 23 kilograms of fuel enriched to 20 percent from Argentina under a cooperation agreement signed in 1988 that ended in 1993. But that supply is expected to run out in late 2010, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki sent a letter to the IAEA in June requesting its help in purchasing enough 20 percent enriched uranium under the agency's supervision so that the medical reactor would again have a long-term supply.

But that would require a relaxation of the international sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. And when the Obama administration got wind of the Iranian request, it created a new diplomatic strategy aimed at forcing Iran to accept terms that would force it to give up most of its LEU for about a year. During a visit to Moscow in July, President Barack Obama's White House adviser on the Iranian nuclear issue, Gary Samore, reportedly approached Russian officials about a proposal that would require that Iran send its low-enriched uranium to Russia to be converted into the more highly enriched fuel rods, thus setting the clock of Iran's already-achieved breakout capability back for about a year. Read more.

Why We Left Our Farms to Come to Copenhagen

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.

Climate Justice Hunger Strikers Arrive At One Month Without Food

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.

Teflon Dick: How Cheney Uses Media For Protection

By Linda Milazzo

On January 29, 2001, just nine days after taking office, Dick Cheney created The National Energy Policy Development Group, commonly known as the Cheney Energy Task Force. The task force was charged with the critically important task of designing America's national energy policy. Although the group's efforts would directly impact the entire nation, the new Vice President refused to divulge the names of its members or their specific activities, claiming the Executive Branch's right to confidentiality.

Iran Approves Building 10 Enrichment Sites

Iran Approves Building 10 Enrichment Sites
Iran approves plans for 10 new uranium enrichment plants in defiance of UN censure
By Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer | ABC News

The Iranian government approved a plan Sunday to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities, a dramatic expansion in defiance of U.N. demands it halt the program.

The decision comes only two days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency censured Iran, demanding it immediately stop building a newly revealed enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom and freeze all uranium enrichment activities. The rebuke angered Iran, raising demands from lawmakers Sunday to cut back cooperation with the U.N.

The enrichment announcement is likely to stoke already high tensions between Iran and the West over its controversial nuclear activities. The U.S. and its allies have hinted of new U.N. sanctions if Tehran remains defiant. Read more.

Energizer Bunnies: Turning Rabbits into Green Fuel

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.

Climate Change Actions Forming Now Across The Nation

Bill McKibben of 350.org wrote:

Dear Friends,

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.

IAEA Chief Says Iran Talks at 'Dead End'

IAEA Chief Says Iran Talks at 'Dead End'
As ElBaradei Ends 12-Year Stint at Helm of the U.N. Nuclear Watchdog, Board Considers Resolution Rebuking Tehran
By David Crawford and Matthew Karnitschnig | WSJ

Iran appeared headed for further confrontation with the U.S. and other world powers over its nuclear program after the chief of the United Nations' atomic watchdog said the agency's cooperation with Tehran had reached a "dead end."

The declaration by Mohamed ElBaradei, departing director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, sets the stage for the U.N.'s Security Council to impose new sanctions against Tehran.

Diplomats said the IAEA's 35-member board of governors would likely approve a resolution on Friday rebuking Iran for failing to comply with its international obligations. A draft of the resolution being discussed by IAEA governors Thursday expressed "serious concern" about Iran's course and called for the matter to be taken up by the Security Council. Read more.

DC IVAW & Global Exchange Hosts Benefit Discussion of Iraqi War & Oil


What: Please Join Global Exchange and Iraq Veterans Against the War for a discussion on WAR and OIL. A fundraiser for the Washington, DC Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

When:Monday, December 7th 2009, 6:00-8:00pm

Where: Bus Boys & Poets
1025 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
202-789-2227

Based upon the new paperback release, updated with a new preface, of The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry--And What We Must Do To Stop It - To be released Dec. 10, 2009..

With author, Antonia Juhasz, Director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange and Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi, President, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.

Antonia and Hassan will be joined by Geoff Millard, Chair of the National Board of Directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Did Big Oil Win the War in Iraq?

Did Big Oil Win the War in Iraq?
As U.S. and British oil companies sign contracts with the Iraqi government, is it time to declare Big Oil the "victor" in the bloody venture?
By Antonia Juhasz | AlterNet | November 14, 2009

Last week, ExxonMobil became the first U.S. oil company in 35 years to sign an oil-production contract with the government of Iraq.

As I write, several other contracts with the world’s largest oil companies are being finalized, and more are expected when a new negotiating round kicks off in Baghdad on Dec. 11.

Do these contracts represent a "victory" for Big Oil in Iraq? Yes, but not one as big as the companies had hoped for (at least, not yet).

Before the United States and Britain invaded Iraq in March 2003, their oil companies were shut out of oil-production contracts being negotiated by the government of Saddam Hussein. Today, more than six years of war later, Saddam is gone, and the U.S. and British oil companies are not only in on the oil contracts, they have managed to sweeten the terms.

However, organized resistance by Iraqis and people around the world has thus far succeeded in denying Big Oil its Big Prize: passage of the Iraq Oil Law, alternatively called Iraq Hydrocarbons Law, which would grant far greater control over Iraqi oil to foreign companies on terms much less favorable to Iraq than the current contracts provide. Read more.

A New United Movement Stops Mexico for a Day

A New United Movement Stops Mexico for a Day
By Tamara Pearson | Upside Down World

In the many metro stations of giant Mexico city, amidst the ugly smell of Pizza Hut and the newspapers vendors yelling out, “Gráfico! 3 pesos!”, youth crowd around the hand written posters recruiting for the national police daily. At 12,000 pesos (US$1000) per month, and with increasing unemployment and harder prospects for the country’s youth, the offer is very tempting.

Since the US-Mexico trade agreement, NAFTA, the number of Mexicans illegally crossing the border into the US seeking employment has risen to 500,000 a year. Add to this the financial crisis (Mexicans repeat to me “When the U.S sneezes Mexico gets pneumonia”) and Mexican president Calderon’s measures to handle the crisis, which consist in a “fiscal package” of an increased consumption tax including food and medicine, new communication taxes and decreased government spending. Then add the fact that the minium wage in Mexico today buys a third of what it bought twenty years ago, and you can see how the government’s firing of 44,000 electricity workers, members of the county’s most combative and independent union, SME (Mexican Electrical Union), became catalyst for a movement of people deeply angry at both an unfair economic system, and towards a president who, most studies admit, used fraud to win the elections in 2006.

The electricity workers were fired on October 10th. On October 16th, around 500,000 people marched in the capital in protest. One month after the firing the people’s anger still had not cooled, and on November 11th there were again massive marches, road blocks, full strikes and partial strikes all across the country. Read more.

Afghanistan’s Oil Binge: 22 Gallons of Fuel Per Soldier Per Day

Afghanistan’s Oil Binge: 22 Gallons of Fuel Per Soldier Per Day
By Noah Shachtman | Wired

Wanna know why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are so expensive? Here’s one big reason: The U.S. military consumes 22 gallons of fuel per soldier, per day. And each gallon costs $45 or more to haul to the battlefield. Read more.

Korean Naval Base To Bring Unwanted Change

Korean naval base to bring unwanted change
Gagnon encourages Jeju residents to fight for the preservation of the Island
By Nicole Erwin | JeJu Weekly

Despite heavy opposition from Jeju residents the proposed Korean naval base is scheduled to begin construction later this year. Jeju Governor Kim Tae-hwan survived a recall vote over his plan to allow the base in early October. The Jeju Elections Commission resolved the vote was invalid after a turnout of only 11 percent of the 33 percent required showed. In lieu of the negative attention surrounding the contradictory notion of missile defense warships docked at Jeju’s proclaimed “Island of Peace,” people from all over are coming out of the wood work to shout about how destructive the base would be not only to the ideal of a peaceful society, but to the precious environment that will inevitably suffer as well.

The southern part of the island, specifically Gangjeong, the proposed location of the base, bears international significance for multiple reasons. Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and recently, he visited Jeju to determine the severity of the proposed naval base. He says the most noteworthy reason for the base is structured around the fact that Jeju is the crossroad for the Malaka Straight where 80% of China’s oil is transported from the middle east.

“If the United States is able to militarily choke off the straight then the U.S. would be able to hold the keys to China’s economic engine. As the U.S. economy is collapsing the U.S. military strategy has been determined that the way we will control the world is to control the distribution of oil and natural gas…I believe that the base at Jeju is the key for this particular strategy and particularly for choking off the straight and controlling China,” said Gagnon. Read more.

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower

By Terry McAlister, the Guardian

Grangemouth oil refinery

Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

READ MORE AT THE GUARDIAN

Exxon Group Wins Iraq Oil Contract

Exxon Group Wins Iraq Oil Contract
Deal Would Pay Set Fee for Developing Giant Field With Royal Dutch Shell
By Gina Chon | US Labor Against War

The Iraqi Oil Ministry on Thursday said it has awarded a consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC the right to develop the West Qurna-1 oil field, representing the first American-led team gaining access to the country's oil patch.

The pact is the latest in a series of deals Iraq has recently signed or initialed with some of the world's biggest oil companies. Earlier this week, Iraqi officials completed a final agreement with BP PLC and China National Petroleum Corp. and an initial agreement with a consortium led by Italy's Eni SpA. U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp. participated as a junior partner in the Eni-led team.

The Exxon-Shell team, combining two of the world's biggest publicly listed oil companies, had been seen as the favorite to win the contract, which calls for the consortium to boost production at the already-pumping field in southern Iraq in exchange for a per-barrel fee. Among the three competitors, it offered the highest production target for the field, the Oil Ministry said. Read more.

Electric Car Dreams

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."

2010 Looms: Democrats Crash and Burn in Virginia and New Jersey

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.

Chomsky Says President Obama Continues Bush Policy to Control Middle East Oil

CHOMSKY SAYS PRESIDENT OBAMA CONTINUES BUSH POLICY TO CONTROL MIDDLE EAST OIL
By Sherwood Ross

Political activist Noam Chomsky says that although President Obama views the Iraq invasion merely as “a mistake” or “strategic blunder,” it is, in fact, a “major crime” designed to enable America to control the Middle East oil reserves.

“It’s (“strategic blunder”) probably what the German general staff was telling Hitler after Stalingrad,” Chomsky quipped, referring to the big Nazi defeat by the Soviet army in 1943.

“There is basically no significant change in the fundamental traditional conception that if we can control Middle East energy resources, then we can control the world,” he said.

In a lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London Oct. 27th, Chomsky warned against expecting significant foreign policy changes from Obama, according to a report by Mamoon Alabbasi published on MWC News.net. Alabbasi is an editor at Middle East Online.

“As Obama came into office, (former Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice predicted he would follow the policies of Bush’s second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky said the U.S. operates under the “Mafia principle,” explaining “the Godfather does not tolerate ‘successful defiance’” and must be stamped out “so that others understand that disobedience is not an option.”

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