Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/3/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/3/2009The situation with the Russian gas pipeline through Ukraine is interesting. The new pipeline through the Baltic — which will allow Russia to cut off supplies to Eastern Europe without disturbing the flow of energy to its reliable Western European customers — is not ready yet, so the cutoff of gas to Ukraine is having effects further west.

Thanks to Abu Elvis, C. Cantoni, Frontinus, Gaia, JD, RRW, SS, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Burris Sought Death for Innocent Man
Preaching to the Court House and Judging in the Temple
Europe and the EU
Atheist or Not, Many Czechs Attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
EU Presidency: Israel Ground Op in Gaza ‘Defensive Not Offensive’
Fake Euros Rise
Gaza: Gang on Rampage in Golders Green
Hate Preacher Omar Bakri Instructs Followers to Convert Aliens to Islam
UK: “Racist” Residents of Middle England…
UK: Council’s ‘Litter Police’ Spy on People — Before They Drop Rubbish
UK: Councillor Slams Muslim Lecture ‘New York in Flames’ Poster
UK: Primary School Drops Word School From Name as ‘Too Negative’
UK: The Blunkett Bobbies Who Solve Just One Crime Every Four Years
Israel and the Palestinians
Hamas: Gaza Will Become Graveyard for Israeli Troops
Hezbollah Urges Hamas to ‘Kill as Many Israeli Soldiers as They Can’ During Gaza Op
IDF Official: for Time Being, No Massive Resistance to IDF Op
Israeli Offensive Kills Senior Hamas Commander
Middle East: Gaza Attacks Central to Israeli Elections, Say Analysts
Polite Leaflets Before Deadly Bombs in Gaza
Son of Hamas Leader Gives Glimpse Into Terror Organization
UNRWA: Stop the Killing in Gaza
Middle East
Saudi Needs 60,000 Staff, Nurses for Its Hospitals
Turkey: New Issues to be Added to EU Talks in Brussels
U.S. Leaves Saddam Palace
U.S. Military Takes First Step to Quit Iraqi Cities
History: New Evidence of a Soviet Spy in the U.S. Nuclear Program
Russia Gas Row Disruption Spreads
South Asia
Indian Christians Appeal to Prime Minister Singh for Protection
Nepal: Clashes Between Hindu Monks and Police at Temple of Pashupati
Orissa: Christmas of Namrata, the Little Dalit Disfigured by a Bomb
More and More Africans Risk Sea Crossing to EU
Somalia-Malta Protest
Climate Scientists: It’s Time for ‘Plan B’


Burris Sought Death for Innocent Man

Former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pick to replace Barack Obama in the Senate, is no stranger to controversy.

Public fury over the governor’s alleged misconduct has masked the once lively debate over Burris’ decision to continue to prosecute, despite the objections of one of his top prosecutors, the wrong man for a high-profile murder case.

While state attorney general in 1992, Burris aggressively sought the death penalty for Rolando Cruz, who twice was convicted of raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. The crime took place in 1983.

But by 1992, another man had confessed to the crime, and Burris’ own deputy attorney general was pleading with Burris to drop the case, then on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Burris refused. He was running for governor.

“Anybody who understood this case wouldn’t have voted for Burris,” Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, told ProPublica. Indeed, Burris lost that race, and two other attempts to become governor.

Burris’ role in the Cruz case was “indefensible and in defiance of common sense and common decency,” Warden said. “There was obvious evidence that [Cruz] was innocent.”

Deputy attorney general Mary Brigid Kenney agreed and eventually resigned rather than continue to prosecute Cruz.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Preaching to the Court House and Judging in the Temple

by Nathan B. Oman, William & Mary Law School

Brigham Young University Law Review, Forthcoming
William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 08-09


A number of American religious denominations — Quakers, Baptists, Mormons, and others — have tried with varying degrees of success to opt out of the secular legal system, resolving civil litigation between church members in church courts. Using the story of the rise and fall of the jurisdiction of Mormon courts over ordinary civil disputes, this article provides three key insights into the interaction between law and religion in nineteenth-century America. First, it dramatically illustrates the fluidity of the boundaries between law and religion early in the century and the hardening of those boundaries by its end. The Mormon courts initially arose in a context in which the professional bar had yet to establish a monopoly over adjudication. By century’s end, however, the increasing complexity of the legal environment hardened the boundaries around the legal profession’s claimed monopoly over adjudication. Second, the decline of the Mormon courts shows how allegiance to the common-law courts became a prerequisite of assimilation into the American mainstream. While hostility to the secular courts had been a hallmark of a major stream of American Protestantism during the colonial period and the first decades of the Republic, by the end of the nineteenth century, Mormons’ rejection of those courts marked them off as dangerous outsiders. Part of the price of their acceptance into the national mainstream was the abandonment of legal distinctiveness. Finally, the story of the Mormon courts also illustrates the importance of law for the development of religious beliefs and practices. Other scholars have documented the “public law” side of this story, showing how the federal government’s effort to eradicate Mormon polygamy was central to Mormon experience in the last half of the nineteenth century and ultimately forced a revolution in Mormon beliefs and practices. The rise and fall of the Mormon court system, however, shows that private law could exercise no less of a power over the religious imagination.

           — Hat tip: Frontinus [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Atheist or Not, Many Czechs Attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass

Czechs have a reputation for being one of the most atheistic nations in Europe, but when it comes to Christmas, churches are packed. According to a survey conducted by the Median agency, about one quarter of the Czech population will be attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Ruth Franková spoke to Tomáš Roule of the Prague Archbishopric and asked him what brings so many Czechs to church at Christmas time.

The population of the Czech Republic is 30 percent Catholic, if we talk about the figures on paper. I would think that for some of those Catholics the traditional Christmas mass, once a year, is their measure of identification with the institutional church. Plus you have people who view attendance of the mass as part of Christmas. I believe it is their effort to bring some spiritual dimension to the mostly material way of celebrating Christmas. “

So you are saying that not all of the people that come to church are necessarily religious?

“They might be religious in their own way, without necessarily identifying themselves with the institutional church. In the present day the Church tries to meet this need of religiousness. The listeners might be familiar with the new custom of spreading the light of Bethlehem, which has become very popular. The Church also meets this need by having carols sung in the churches and playing the famous Czech Christmas mass by Jakub Jan Ryba and by not pushing religion too much down their throats.”

Is that idea reflected in the mass itself, in the themes addresses in the mass?

“Yes, I believe it is a great challenge for every priest having, once a year, a church packed with people. It is a great challenge to touch people’s lives and share a different message than the one saying that a nice Christmas is about expensive gifts, which may even bring some people into financial difficulties and some sort of depression, something that we experience every time before Christmas.”

On the other hand Czechs seem to be quite conservative. Around ten thousand people recently signed a petition calling for the preservation of the Czech Christmas tradition according to which it is Baby Jesus — not Santa -who brings the gifts at Christmas.

“Only rightly so, because Santa Claus is a commercial figure really. I believe that trying to preserve these traditions and these values which have been passed on through many generations, something that doesn’t change that much, is only right.”

[Return to headlines]

EU Presidency: Israel Ground Op in Gaza ‘Defensive Not Offensive’

European Union president, the Czech Republic, said Saturday an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was “defensive, not offensive” action.

“At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action,” Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is leading an EU delegation to the region Sunday, and Potuznik said the presidency will wait to see the results of that visit.

Israel sent troops into Gaza on Saturday evening, eight days after launching air strikes on the coastal strip, which came in the wake of a breakdown in a six-month truce with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Dozens of rockets have been fired at Israel’s southern communities over the past two weeks, killing four Israelis. The air strikes in Gaza have killed at least 420 Gazans, according to Palestinian reports.

U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday branded the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel an act of terror and outlined his own condition for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying no peace deal would be acceptable without monitoring to halt the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups.

[Return to headlines]

Fake Euros Rise

As part of a special investigation, Sky News was able to purchase forged €50 banknotes from a man calling himself “Tony” in London.

He charged £100 for €300.

A Sky News team was then able to spend the fake notes in five different shops and pubs in Dublin.

Not one of the small businesses targeted had a machine or special marker to detect counterfeit currency.

Dublin cafe manager Chris Tecklenberg was disappointed his staff did not spot the fake note.

He said: “I was quite surprised really because we are normally quite vigilant with that sort of thing.

“The actual note on first glance looks quite genuine.”

Barry Robinson works in his family’s art shop and also accepted a fake banknote without question.

He said: “This time of year it’s easier to pass because it’s busy and people are just concerned with getting money in to the till.”

The counterfeit dealer in London denied selling fake notes when he was confronted by Sky News.

But figures from the European Central Bank show there are potentially many organised criminals operating in the UK and Europe, taking advantage of the latest printing technology.

In the first half of 2008, 312,000 counterfeit Euro notes were withdrawn from circulation.

That is an increase of 18% on the first six months of 2007 when 265,000 notes were seized.

The bank also says the €50 note has been the most counterfeited.

Banknote expert Yasher Beresine said: “The quality doesn’t have to be particularly excellent and this is why you will very rarely see completely new bank notes when they are forged.

“They are always a little bit torn, a little bit used, because it is of course much more difficult then to detect.”

[Return to headlines]

Gaza: Gang on Rampage in Golders Green

A gang of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rampaged through the heart of the Jewish community on Wednesday evening, attacking businesses and assaulting a motorist.

Police and the CST have increased patrols and security following the incidents in Golders Green, North-West London, amid concerns of further trouble during Shabbat.

The group of around 15 men had been demonstrating in support of Palestinians in Gaza but then made their way along Golders Green Road, attacking the man as he got into his car.

They attempted to gain access to a number of kosher restaurants and Jewish businesses, and at one point entered Solly’s restaurant, but were thrown out by staff and diners.

Despite officers arriving in the area quickly, the gang was able to escape on the Tube.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Tucker, acting borough commander of Barnet police, said: “We were aware that the activity in Gaza was going to have an impact on antisemitism because of our very large Jewish population in Barnet.

“We have liaised with the CST in advance to make sure our response is joined up.

“We will not tolerate any incidents of antisemitism and will investigate any allegations robustly.

“People have a legitimate right to demonstrate but that cannot be a front for antisemitism or any other type of crime.”

A CST spokesman said: “The gang-related incident in Golders Green is extremely troubling.

“The idea that events in the Middle East can trigger this kind of rampage is something that the community, police and politicians need to now consider with the utmost urgency.

“The incidents that have occurred this week are very serious and reflect exactly why we have such a large scale security operation already in place.”

He said urgent talks were taking place with police to ensure a visible police presence around synagogues and other Jewish community sites.

Earlier this week, the slogans “Jihad for Israel” and “Jihad the only solution for Palestine” were daubed on buildings in Stamford Hill, Golders Green and Manchester, and outside the main entrance of Finchley Synagogue.

Abusive messages were also left on the switchboard of the Board of Deputies.

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis [Return to headlines]

Hate Preacher Omar Bakri Instructs Followers to Convert Aliens to Islam

Exiled hate preacher Omar Bakri has ordered his followers to convert aliens to Islam.

The extraordinary instruction was issued during a bizarre rant posted on an extremist website.

The Syrian-born imam, who is notorious for praising the 9/11 bombers, told Muslims to not only spread the religion across the world, but across the galaxy. He said: ‘We are obliged as Muslims to make the whole galaxy subservient to almighty Allah.

‘Allah has created all living beings to obey him and worship him.’

A security source is reported to have said: ‘Perhaps he could show his people the way — it would give everyone a break if he was beamed up.’

The rant, which appeared on an extremist website, comes after Bakri claimed he had recently been stopped from using the internet to preach to followers in the UK.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: “Racist” Residents of Middle England…

…who wanted to reject gipsy camps

This idyllic corner of England is where council chiefs want to put a new gipsy camp.

When locals, protested, they branded them racists and threw out their complaints. So much for democracy…


Yet all of them, and thousands of other residents in Stotfold (population 8,500) and surrounding villages, are now having to defend themselves against accusations of racism.

So were their names perhaps on the membership list of the British National Party which was posted anonymously on the internet recently?

Far from it. The ‘damning evidence’, as it turns out, is contained in council questionnaires, completed in good faith by the likes of the Huckles, to provide feedback on plans to build gipsy camps in the area.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Council’s ‘Litter Police’ Spy on People — Before They Drop Rubbish

A squad of anti-litter officials has been given instructions to film suspects on the street — even before they have done anything wrong.

The team of 11’ environmental enforcement officers’ has been equipped with mobile phone cameras and told to use them to film people they think may be about to drop litter.

The use of cameras to record individuals who have committed no crime or offence has generated a row over the spying powers of local councils and the growing willingness of officials to stretch them to the limit.

Ministers have already called on town halls to stop abusing the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which has allowed councils to watch those suspected of trying to cheat on school catchment areas, those thought to be wrongly parking with blue disabled badges and families who officials think are putting their bins out on the wrong day.

Litter police are employed by councils under environmental laws passed three years ago that allow officials to hand out onthespot fines to those who drop litter or break wheelie bin regulations.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Councillor Slams Muslim Lecture ‘New York in Flames’ Poster

A POSTER showing New York being destroyed by meteors from the sky—to promote a New Year’s Day ‘end of time’ lecture at the East London mosque—has been condemned by the Opposition on Tower Hamlets council.

The mosque and Islamic centre is allowing organisers to run the all-day event including a video link-up with controversial Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who America says had connections with New York’s 9/11 attacks.

Al-Awlaki, who gives his talk by video link from Yemen, was named by America’s Department for Homeland Security for having acted as a ‘spiritual advisor’ to three of the men involved in 2001’s September 11 attacks.

Now the poster advertising tomorrow’s event at Whitechapel—showing meteors crash down on Manhattan, setting fire to the city and shattering the Statue of Liberty—has been slammed by the Tory Opposition leader on the local authority.

“The poster strikes me as extremely inappropriate,” Cllr Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser today (Dec-31).

“It would be very disturbing if an event was to be held which damaged the good work the mosque has done. The mosque plays an important role in the life of Tower Hamlets.”

           — Hat tip: SS [Return to headlines]

UK: Primary School Drops Word School From Name as ‘Too Negative’

A new primary school has banned the use of the word “school” in its title because it has “negative connotations”.


“We decided from an early stage we didn’t want to use the word ‘school’, this is Watercliffe Meadow, a place for learning,” said Linda Kingdon, the head teacher.

“One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school.

“Instead we want this to a be a place for family learning, where anyone can come.

“We were able to start from scratch and create a new type of learning experience.

“There are no whistles or bells or locked doors.

“We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life.”

But the move was described as “ridiculous” and part of a “political correctness agenda” by the Campaign for Plain English, the organisation which opposes the use of gobbledygook in public life.

“Here we are introducing our children to education and instead of giving them something familiar, something that they understand, we go and send them to a ‘place for learning’,” said Marie Clair, the organisation’s spokeswoman.

“Who has spent time and money and effort thinking up this whole new idea? And to what benefit?

“We all know that they are going to be going to a school whatever you call it.”

Among examples of confusing terminology the campaign has fought against in recent years was the widespread rebranding of lollipop ladies as “school crossing patrol officers”, teachers being known as “knowledge navigators” and the emergence of the “education centre nourishment production assistant” — otherwise known as dinner ladies.

It follows efforts to rebrand libraries as “idea stores”, dustmen’s trucks being referred to as “provider vehicles” and a recent high-level attempt to ban the use of the word “inmates” for prisoners in case it offends them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: The Blunkett Bobbies Who Solve Just One Crime Every Four Years

Police community support officers solve less than one crime every four years and only hand out a fine every eight months, figures reveal.

Several forces have admitted that their squads of ‘plastic police’ failed to clear up a single crime or give out even one fixed-penalty notice during the past year.

Leaders of rank-and-file police officers said the findings proved that PCSOs are ineffective and do little to tackle the low-level offences and anti-social behaviour that they were brought in to deal with.

Chief constables are under pressure to employ more of the cheaper community officers rather than full-time sworn officers.

The number of PCSOs has more than doubled in the past two years to 15,805 in England and Wales in the year ending March 2008.

The officers, dubbed Blunkett’s Bobbies after then Home Secretary David Blunkett who introduced them in 2002, have been given new powers since the start of 2008.

Although PCSOs cannot arrest suspects, they are allowed to detain them until a police officer arrives.

They may also issue fixed-penalty notices for offences including public disorder and anti-social behaviour and may seize drugs.

Yet figures obtained by the Daily Mail under the Freedom of Information Act from forces throughout the country reveal that in most constabularies the growing army of PCSOs, who can earn £24,500 a year, rarely use their enforcement powers. Simon Reed, vice- chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rankand-file officers, said: ‘These figures show that community support officers are not that effective at tackling lower level crimes and anti-social behaviour.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hamas: Gaza Will Become Graveyard for Israeli Troops

As Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza on Saturday night, a Hamas spokesman warned in a televised speech that the coastal strip will become a graveyard for Israeli soldiers.

The spokesman, Ismail Radwan, appeared on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV shortly after Israel sent its troops into Gaza. It was not clear if the appearance was live or taped.

After the incursion began, Hamas spokespeople and militants fired off fiery warnings to the Israeli forces. In another message, Hamas warned Israeli forces that “Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell.”

The militant organization seized control of Gaza in June 2007, following days of bloody street battles with rival Palestinian movement Fatah.

By sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip, Hamas said, Israel was falling into “the trap that our fighters had prepared for its soldiers and tanks.”

The movement’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement that “the Zionist enemy will see surprises and will regret carrying out such an operation and will be a heavy price. Our militants are waiting with patience to confront the soldiers face to face.”

Hamas has long prepared for a ground invasion, digging tunnels and rigging some areas with explosives. At the start of the offensive, Israeli artillery hit some of the border areas, apparently to detonate hidden explosives.

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis [Return to headlines]

Hezbollah Urges Hamas to ‘Kill as Many Israeli Soldiers as They Can’ During Gaza Op

The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah called late Saturday on Hamas to “defeat Israel and kill as many Israeli soldiers as they can.”

“Hamas will defeat Israel in the ground attack,” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah told his followers in Beirut’s southern suburbs during the Shiite religious ceremony of Ashoura.

Nasrallah urged Hamas to inflict heavy losses on the Israeli soldiers who launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip after eight days of attacks by air and sea on the region.


“It is by inflicting the biggest possible losses on the Israeli enemy during the ground confrontation that (Hamas) will win the battle,” Nasrallah told an Ashoura gathering.

“It is when they kill soldiers and destroy tanks that the course of the battle will be determined.”

Nasrallah addressed his followers through a giant television in Beirut’s southern suburbs, hotbed of the militant group.

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis [Return to headlines]

IDF Official: for Time Being, No Massive Resistance to IDF Op

IDF troops are advancing in the northern Gaza Strip according to plan, an IDF official told Ynet.

“For the time being, we are facing several hubs of resistance, yet we are not dealing with massive resistance,” he said. “Since we entered there have been no unusual incidents, and the troops are operating in line with pre-determined objectives.” (Hanan Greenberg)

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis [Return to headlines]

Israeli Offensive Kills Senior Hamas Commander

An Israeli air strike killed a senior Hamas commander in Gaza Saturday as the military offensive against the Islamist faction entered its second week. From his base in the Syrian capital Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal issued a warning to Israel.

The sounds of explosions again rocked Gaza on Saturday as Israeli air strikes continued for the eighth consecutive day.

Israel has been targeting senior Hamas militants. On Saturday, senior commander Abu Zakaria al-Jamal was killed in an Israeli air strike, two days after another militant leader, Nizar Rayyan and his family were killed in a bomb attack.

Medical officials in Gaza say more than 420 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive and over 2,000 injured. U.N. officials estimate that a quarter of those killed were civilians.

Israel has also massed troops, tanks and artillery around Gaza in preparation for a possible ground offensive.

In a televised address carried by Arab media from Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had his own warning for Israel.

His message was clear — if you enter Gaza, our fighters will be waiting for you.

Meshaal warned of a “dark fate” if Israeli troops move into Gaza and said they would end up killed or captured.

Israel says it had no choice but to strike at Hamas militant targets in Gaza, after truce talks with Hamas broke down and the Islamist group stepped up rocket attacks against southern Israel. Four Israelis have been killed in those attacks.

But televised footage of Gaza houses and mosques being bombed, wounded Palestinian children bloodied and crying, mangled bodies being dug out of the rubble have been shown across the region.

These images have fueled anger across the Muslim world and elsewhere. Thousands have turned out in anti-Israel protests in Arab and other capitals around the world and there are increasing calls for an immediate halt to the violence.

Israel has made it clear it is not yet ready to stop and Hamas says it is not begging for a truce either.

[Return to headlines]

Middle East: Gaza Attacks Central to Israeli Elections, Say Analysts

Israel’s attacks in the Gaza Strip will have a crucial impact on the fortunes of political leaders ahead of national elections in February. Some Middle East analysts even believe the offensive is a cynical move to boost domestic popularity.

Jerusalem/Beirut, 2 Jan. (AKI) — As Israeli leaders showed no sign of ending the week-long air attacks in the Gaza Strip on Friday, the political impact of their action was already being assessed. Analysts told Adnkronos International (AKI) that attacks on the ruling Hamas movement were certain to boost the flagging popularity of Defense Minister and Labour Party leader, Ehud Barak, and the political fortunes of acting Prime Minister Tzipi Livni.

One poll published in the the daily, Haaretz, has already shown that Barak’s domestic popularity has been boosted by Israel’s action.

Michael Widlanski, a research fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, said that support for the Labor Party leader had collapsed in the past six months and Barak needed to show Israelis he was decisive.

“The current warfare, which is justified, is an opportunity for him to solidify his base with the centre and the right,” Widlanksi said.

As prime minister in 2000, Barak decided to withdraw Israeli forces from Lebanon. While the move was well received at the time, it was later questioned by many Israelis after the Lebanon war of 2006.

Widlanski said the Gaza offensive which has killed more than 400 people and injured more than 2000 others,would be a test of the Defense Minister’s resolve.

“There is no question that the public was clamouring for a strong response to the situation in Gaza as it had in Lebanon,” he said. “But the government of Olmert and Livni had not exactly shown forthrightness or decisiveness.”

In the Haaretz poll published on Thursday, 53 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Barak’s performance — up from 34 percent six months ago.

The turnaround means that the current coalition between Barak and Livni may be renewed.

But Widlanski stressed that Hamas, far more than the Israeli leaders, had really “set the stage” for Israel’s action in Gaza. He said Hamas had launched 223 rockets and 130 mortar shells at Israel during the six month truce that ended in December and most took place in the past six weeks.

He said Hamas militants had launched a total of 800 attacks throughout 2007.

“Hamas has been escalating (their attacks) since the middle of November. They have been the ones that set the agenda. If you look back at Prime Minister Olmert, Livni, (President Shimon) Peres and even Barak they have basically been reactive,” Widlanski said.

Talal Nizameddin, political analyst at The American University, said despite denials by the Israeli leaders, domestic political considerations were the main reason for the attacks against Gaza.

He told AKI both Barak and Livni were using the air raids to foil hardline political rival Binyamin Netanyahu, from the right-wing Likud Party.

“This would leave Netanyahu with no options. What would Netanyahu do if he does win the elections? That would make him meaningless as an Israeli prime minister because he promised to come in as a tough leader who would clean up Gaza from what he calls Palestinian terrorism,” he told AKI.

“In my opinion, there is a clear hint of political manoeuvering.”

Livni is the newly elected head of the ruling conservative Kadima Party, while Barak leads the centre-left Labour Party. He was prime minister from 1999 to 2001.

Israel’s elections are due to take place on 10 February after Livni, currently Foreign Minister, failed to form a government in October to replace outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who is now facing corruption charges.

However the election date may be postponed until 17 February due to a Jewish holiday.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Polite Leaflets Before Deadly Bombs in Gaza

GAZA — The Israeli air force is dropping thousands of leaflets over Gaza warning people to leave their homes before targeted bombing raids.

In the past few days of their air offensive on Gaza, Israeli forces have zeroed in on the houses Hamas leaders and militants.

The polite warning from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is addressed to “residents of the area”.

“Because of the terrorist actions carried by some terrorist figures out of the area of residence against the state of Israel, the IDF was forced to immediately respond and act inside your area of residence,” it says.

“For your own safety you are required to leave the area immediately.”

As well as the leaflets, the Israeli military has called local numbers with an automated warning message giving residents several minutes’ grace to flee.

As new air strikes on Saturday boomed over Gaza, leaflets dropped over the area scared many residents, witnesses said.

Many families have fled, mostly to friends and relatives in what they hope are safer districts, but some remained defiant.

“We are staying, we are not leaving. How would anyone leave their own house?,” said Umm Kamell, a mother of 11 baking bread at home.

“We are afraid, of course we are. They said they bombed the military people, this is a lie. They are bombing the civilians.”

Israel says it is doing it all can to avoid civilian casualties but that some are inevitable as militants from the Islamist group Hamas which controls Gaza use homes, mosques and schools as bases for rocket attacks on Israel.

So far, it has killed at least two senior Hamas leaders. On Friday, Nizar Rayan was picked off but four of his wives and 11 children were also killed after refusing to evacuate. The house was used to store arms, the Israeli military said.

“We are living in horror. My grandchildren escape into my arms,” said another women helping Umm Kamell bake the bread.

“We will never evacuate our houses. We are tired and we only have God on our side.”

[Return to headlines]

Son of Hamas Leader Gives Glimpse Into Terror Organization

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other world leaders try to broker a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, one former member of the militant Islamic organization said there will never be lasting peace between the two groups.

“There is no chance. Is there any chance for fire to co-exist with the water?” said Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the group’s founding members.

Yousef added: “It’s not about Israel, it’s not about Hamas: it’s about both ideologies.”

Yousef, son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the most influential leaders of the militant group, said the organization betrays the Palestinian cause and tortures its own members.


Yousef said he was indoctrinated at an early age to use violence to challenge Israeli control in the region. As a teenager he moved up within the organization and became the leader of the radical Islamic Youth Movement that fought Israeli tanks and troops in the streets, celebrated suicide bombings and recruited young men to the cause.

Yousef, 30, said he realized the true nature of Hamas and radical Islam during a stint in an Israeli prison. He renounced his Muslim faith, left his family behind in Ramallah and converted to Christianity.

“Islam is not the word of God,” said Yousef. “If you want to be offended it’s your problem. But you know something? Go study. Think for a second that I might be right. So wake up, look at your path, see where you’re going. Are you really going to heaven with 72 virgins after you kill yourself and kill another 20 people?”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UNRWA: Stop the Killing in Gaza

[Note from VH: this is a UNRWA press release dated December 27, 2008; the very same day Israel launched operation “Cast Lead” against Hamas.]

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Abu Zayd, expressed her horror to the extensive destruction visited upon Gaza Strip today and her deep sadness to the terrible loss in human life. UNRWA, the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, strongly urges the Israeli Government to heed calls for ceasing its bombardment on Gaza. Israel is a signatory to international conventions that protect non-combatants in times of conflict. These conventions are worthless if they are not upheld.

… more

UNRWA will exert all efforts to respond as quickly as possible to relieve suffering and pain. The killings and destruction today followed weeks of a tight blockade that prevented UNRWA, and other humanitarian agencies, from assisting the population and mitigating the difficult economic situation. The population is paying the price from the prolonged blockade, absence of basic needs to 1.5 million persons and now a military escalation.

UNRWA recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns however, its actions should be in conformity with international humanitarian law and it should not use disproportionate force. UNRWA calls on Israel to guarantee humanitarian agencies unrestricted and secure access into Gaza and respect its obligations under international humanitarian law by ensuring the safety of the Palestinian civilian population.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Saudi Needs 60,000 Staff, Nurses for Its Hospitals

A TOP Saudi Arabian hospital is interviewing Filipino nurses here to fill 60,000 hospital positions in the Kingdom in the next six months, an executive said yesterday.

“Even with the economic crisis, the demand for nurses and other medical staff in the Middle East is very high and very urgent,” said Lito Soriano, a senior officer of LBS E-Recruitment Solution.

“Unlike in the United States, the projected need for nurses in the Middle East is immediate.”

Soriano said the King Fahd Medical Center was only one of many Saudi hospitals looking for Filipino nurses, and that its officials were here to interview candidates.

He said King Fahd had only recently hired two Philippine recruitment agencies to fill up its vacancies.


Soriano said Saudi Arabia was paying $600 to $1,000 a month in basic salaries “on top of free housing, free transportation and yearly vacation.”

The Kingdom had only recently increased its inflation allowance to 10 percent from 5 to preserve its workers’ purchasing power, he said.

Soriano, also executive director of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, said his group was urging President Arroyo to grant indefinite visas to foreign principals employing Filipino workers.

Mrs. Arroyo recently signed Executive Order 758, which grants indefinite visas to foreign businessmen who hire 10 or more Filipinos for their businesses here.

Soriano said his group hoped the President would extend the same privilege to foreigners recruiting for their respective countries.

[Return to headlines]

Turkey: New Issues to be Added to EU Talks in Brussels

Ankara, 16 Dec. (AKI) — The European Union will add the “free movement of capital” and “information society and media” to Turkey’s negotiations for joining the bloc, the ANKA news agency reported on Tuesday. The 27-member bloc will officially open the new chapters in fresh talks to be held in Brussels on Friday.

The EU has regularly opened only two chapters in Turkey’s accession negotiations with each presidential term. France hands the presidency to the Czech Republic at the end of December.

Greek Cypriots blocked France’s efforts to open discussions about “energy”, considered crucial as the EU sees Turkey as a key partner in its efforts to diversify energy supply routes, sources also told ANKA.

Eight chapters in the negotiations were suspended due to Turkey’s refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels before the EU eases its isolation of the Turkish community on the island.

Turkey has been under increasing pressure to improve freedom of expression and minority rights to enable its membership bid to progress and European access to the Turkish markets is expected to become more difficult if membership talks collapse.

Turkey began open-ended talks with the European Union in October 2005 and is unlikely to join the bloc before 2015.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

U.S. Leaves Saddam Palace

U . S. officials withdrew Wednesday from the Saddam Husseinera palace they have occupied in Baghdad since 2003,a sign of the change of power that will occur when American troops come under Iraqi authority at midnight.

The U.S. force in Iraq, now more than 140,000-strong, has operated since 2003 under a UN Security Council resolution that expires at midnight on New Year’s Eve. From Jan. 1, U. S. troops will operate with authority granted by the Iraqi government under a pact agreed by Washington and Baghdad.

The pact—seen by both countries as a milestone in restoring Iraqi sovereignty —requires U. S. troops to leave within three years, revokes their power to hold Iraqis without charge and subjects contractors and off-duty troops to Iraqi law.

Iraq also reached a deal with Britain, Washington’s main ally, on Tuesday, giving its 4,100 troops until the end of July to depart.

Small contingents from Australia, El Salvador, Romania, Estonia and the NATO alliance will also leave in 2009.


U. S. and Iraqi officials are planning a ceremony for this morning to formally hand over control of the Green Zone, the heavily fortified central sector of the capital that houses western diplomats and Iraqi government offices.

Under the bilateral pact that takes effect from midnight, U. S. combat forces will withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities by mid-2009 and all troops must leave by the end of 2011.

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U.S. Military Takes First Step to Quit Iraqi Cities

The U.S. military took a step towards pulling combat troops from Iraqi cities on Saturday, moving out of a Baghdad base that Iraqi officials said would be dismantled and converted back into a shopping mall.

It was the first U.S. military base to be handed over to Iraq since U.S. forces came under Iraqi authority on Jan. 1 in step with a new bilateral security pact.

The pact, which replaced a U.N. mandate, requires Iraqi authorisation for U.S. military operations, gives U.S. forces until mid-2009 to pull combat troops out of Iraq’s towns and cities, and until 2011 to withdraw completely.

[Return to headlines]


History: New Evidence of a Soviet Spy in the U.S. Nuclear Program

In a new book, two former nuclear weapons scientists make the case that Soviet spies didn’t just steal atomic secrets from the Manhattan Project in the 1940s — something historians have known for years — but say a previously unknown spy also helped the Soviets design their first hydrogen bomb. The Soviet Union detonated its first thermonuclear bomb in 1955, only a year after the first American H-bomb was tested, ending the period of nuclear supremacy the U.S. military enjoyed after World War II.

In The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation, published this month, Danny Stillman and Thomas Reed, two longtime veterans of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, do not provide the name of the spy they say took hydrogen bomb secrets out of the Los Alamos, N.M., weapons lab. But they do offer some of his biography, saying he was born in the United States, raised abroad, came under the sway of the Communist Party in the 1930s, and took a job at Los Alamos during World War II.

Stillman and Reed say in the book that they have refused to reveal the name of the suspected spy, who is now dead, because he “can neither defend his family name nor refute our arguments.” They say his name doesn’t really matter, anyway: “His fingerprints are what count.”


As the Cold War faded into memory, the authors say they began to get their first real confirmation that the Soviet H-bomb effort had help from someone inside the American nuclear program. In particular, they say Russian scientists told them at a meeting in the late 1990s that the Soviet bomb designer, Andrei Sakharov, had privately refused to take full credit for the hydrogen bomb. The Russians hinted that Sakharov knew he’d gotten a boost from someone in the American program.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russia Gas Row Disruption Spreads

Russian gas flows to four European Union countries dipped below normal on Saturday after Moscow cut off supplies to Ukraine in a pricing row, and there were no talks in sight to resolve the dispute.

Temperatures were under zero overnight in Europe, and Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz joined energy firms in Poland, Romania and Hungary in saying they had noted falls in supply, though flows to Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, were not affected.

The European Union, which gets a fifth of its gas from pipelines that cross Ukraine, said it would call a crisis meeting of envoys in Brussels on Monday and demanded that transit and supply contracts be honoured.

It also urged both sides to reach an agreement soon, but added that it did not intend to become a mediator and that the bloc had sufficient gas reserves for now.

The prospects of a swift settlement to the row appeared remote as Russian gas monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said President Dmitry Medvedev had approved its move to take Ukraine to the arbitration court in Stockholm over gas transit to Europe…

Moscow alleged Kiev was stealing gas intended for Europe and playing political games. Ukraine accused Russia of using “energy blackmail” and of not providing enough gas for the proper functioning of the transit system.

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South Asia

Indian Christians Appeal to Prime Minister Singh for Protection

Catholics and Protestants call on central government to provide protection and guarantees for a peaceful Christians. European diplomats meet Orissa’s home affairs secretary for reassurances that Christians will be able to celebrate Christmas in security.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) — Indian Christians want New Delhi to protect their co-religionists in the State of Orissa and guarantee they can enjoy peaceful Christmas celebrations, this according to a petition promoted by the National United Christian Forum (NUCF) signed by Mgr Vincent Concessao archbishop of Delhi, and Methodist Bishop Taranath S. Sagar, president of the National Council of Churches of India.

In its address to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the NUCF wants a stop to the anti-Christian violence. In the petition the signatories express hope that the new Home Affairs Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, appointed on 30 November after the Mumbai attacks, will take new initiatives to prevent more violence.

More concretely the Forum would like to see the authorities take actions like banning the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the radical Hindu movement Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The petition coincides with the deadline of the ultimatum set by the VHP with regards to the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Hindu nationalists said that they would organise demonstrations and strikes if the murderers of the swami had not been apprehended by 15 December.

The VHP leader was assassinated on 23 August, and his death sparked an anti-Christian pogrom that sowed death and destruction across Orissa.

So far the authorities have five people in custody on suspicion of involvement in the murder but according to investigators more than 20 people are wanted in the affair.

In recent days representatives of the Embassies of Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Finland have met Orissa Home Affairs Secretary AP Padhi.

The state official reassured the European diplomats about steps that are being taken to ensure peaceful Christmas celebrations, saying that the state has a security plan that should cope with every eventuality.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to the article)

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Nepal: Clashes Between Hindu Monks and Police at Temple of Pashupati

The government of Prachandra has put two Nepalese monks in charge of the place of worship. Since 1904, the ceremonies had been led by Indian monks, now dismissed from their posts. The Maoist government is interfering in religious affairs in order to mark the beginning of the new course in the country.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — The Hindu monks of the temple of Pashupati are in revolt (in the photo, a scene from the clashes). The violent protests that have led to the police intervention were unleashed after the decision of the government of Kathmandu to remove the Indian component of the monks responsible for the temple, and replace it with priests of Nepalese origin.

The Maoist government, headed by President Prachandra, has entrusted responsibility for the temple of Pashupati to the monks Bishnu Prasad Dahal and Saligram Dhakal. The two are replacing the Indian Mul Bhattas, removed from his post together with other non-Nepalese monks who, since 1904, had served at the place of worship dedicated to Shiva, “lord of the cattle,” and situated in Deopatan, three kilometers from the capital.

Following the decision, the monks removed from their position asked the government to reverse it, sending a petition to the supreme court against the government and the Pashupatinath Area Development Trust (PADT): their accusation was that the government was interfering in the private business of the monks, and violating a long-standing tradition.

According to Hindu ritual custom, in order to lead the ceremonies the monks must follow several months of preparation. The Nepalese monks appointed by the government have not gone through this period of formation.

Barricaded inside the structure, the monks have prevented the new religious authorities from entering the temple and leading the ceremonies. On January 1, security forces together with government supporters and members of the Young Communist League broke into the temple together with the two Nepalese monks. The blitz was followed by clashes, and it was only in the late afternoon that the Nepalese Bishnu Prasad Dahal and Saligram Dhakal, after waiting outside the temple for three hours, were able to officiate over the ceremonies, although only in partial form.

Pramananda Shakya, recently appointed by Prachandra as head of the PADT, has said that the appointment of the two Nepalese monks reflects the new course of the country: “The former royals used to be the patrons of the temple trust and used to approve the selection of the priests. With the changed political situation this tradition has been broken,” says Shakya. “The prime minister has replaced the king as the patron now.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Orissa: Christmas of Namrata, the Little Dalit Disfigured by a Bomb

Hers is the best-known face among the victims of the attacks against the Christians. After 45 days in the hospital, she is now healed. Her family, who are day laborers, have lost everything. Fears and hopes ahead of Christmas.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) — Namrata Nayak is a 10-year-old Dalit from the village of Sahi Panchayat, near Raikia (district of Kandhamal, Orissa). Three months ago, at the outbreak of violence against the Christians, the little girl’s face was disfigured by a bomb thrown by Hindu extremists. After 45 days in the hospital, she has healed, and is happy. “Christmas is joy and peace,” says Namrata, “and I am so happy here: so many people take care of us; so many are praying for us and for peace and justice in Kandhamal.” Namrata, together with her mother Sudhamani and 20 other people, have gone to Bangalore from the refugee camps in Orissa, thanks to the efforts of the Global Council of Indian Christians.

The little girl was disfigured on August 26. When she arrived in the hospital of Berahampur, she had lesions on 40% of her body. Now she is practically healed. “For me,” Namrita tells AsiaNews, “Christmas is a time to thank the Baby Jesus who saved me from the fire and saved my face, which was disfigured and wounded. I am one of the few fortunate ones who escaped death, although I had to spend a long time in the hospital. I feel very loved by the people of India, and by so many people in the world who have seen my photo and have prayed for me.

“In Kandhamal, there is so much pain and suffering, and I don’t know how long the special forces will protect us. But Christmas is a time of gratitude. I am afraid that my people will still be attacked, but this is our life. If God has saved me, he can save other Christians too.”

The radical Hindus have promised to organize another strike on Christmas, if those responsible for the killing of Hindu leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati are not arrested. His assassination began the pogrom against Christians last August 23. The Churches are afraid that the gatherings of radical Hindus could break out into uncontrolled violence again. “Christmas is also a time of forgiveness,” says Namrata, “and we forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes. They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future. The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace. I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel.”

Namrata’s parents (Akhaya Kumar, 45, and Sudhamani, 38) are agricultural day laborers. Their three daughters and one son are students. In order to supplement the family’s meager income, the oldest daughter, Trusita (18) also works as a maid in the home of a Hindu convert, Harihar Das. When the violence against Christians broke out, Akhaya and Sudhamani fled to the forest, sending their children to hide in the home of Harihar Das.

On the night of August 26, the Hindu radicals entered the house, breaking down the door and destroying and burning everything. The family of Harihar Das and Namrata and her sisters hid in a little bathroom. Before they left, the Hindu fanatics left a bomb in a dresser. After the attackers had gone, the occupants came out of the house, but little Namrata was curious and stayed behind to look at the damage. The bomb exploded, burning her face, while some of the shrapnel wounded her face, hands, and back.

Sudhamani continues the story: “The next day, I and my husband came out of the forest, running to the house of Harihar. We saw everything burned, and feared that everyone had died in the flames. Instead, thanks to God, everyone was safe. Only that my daughter had been wounded. But Jesus took care of her. We took her to the hospital in Berhampur, still unconscious and badly hurt. But after 45 days of care, she’s well now.”

“My hope,” she tells AsiaNews, “is that we can still have a future in Raikia. We possess nothing, and we could still leave, but in Sahi Panchayat we have some relatives, and our neighbors. If we leave, we will be wanderers.

“Christmas brings hope, hope is our only treasure now: we were poor, and now even the little we had has been destroyed. But Christmas means that Christ is born, and every birth means a new life. Jesus came down from heaven to save us from this misery, from the pain, from abandonment, from our homelessness. His power fills us with hope, love, and forgiveness.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]


More and More Africans Risk Sea Crossing to EU

UN figures indicate a big leap in the number of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean to the EU, with people increasingly willing to take the risk in winter as well as summertime.

Over 35,000 African migrants landed in Italy in 2008 compared to some 20,000 in 2007, according to fresh figures from the UN refugee centre, the UNHCR, cited by The Guardian on Tuesday (30 December).

Migrants put their lives at risk when crossing the Mediterranean to the EU (Photo: wikipedia)


Comment article

“We can no longer consider summer the only season when people arrive. Now they are coming all year round,” UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said. “That is more dangerous because the sea conditions are apt to change more abruptly in the colder months.”

The remarks come after 2,400 people arrived on the small Italian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa over two days last week. The Maltese coastguard picked up another 139 migrants on Monday.

Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are planning to discuss a joint strategy on the issue on 13 January ahead of an EU home affairs ministers meeting in Prague two days later.

The latest landings in Italy have caused political controversy, with the left-wing opposition saying Silvio Berlusconi’s immigration crackdown has failed and that Libya has reneged on promises to help.

Right wing interior minister Roberto Maroni said on national radio that the migrants will be swiftly thrown out. “We need to let it be known that those who land in Lampedusa will be repatriated within a few days …Tomorrow or maximum the day after tomorrow the first repatriation flights will begin.”

The UNHCR and NGOs such as Arci have warned that any group deportations may violate asylum rights, however. In the past, most of the people trafficked to Europe have been economic migrants from Maghreb states. But a significant proportion were also fleeing conflict zones, such as Somalia and Eritrea.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Linosa have promised to shelter people in schools and churches, while flying others to an already-overcrowded holding pen in Lampedusa.

Malta recently passed a law to automatically detain illegal migrants for 18 months, while around 4,000 African settlers live in squalour in open camps on the island, the Guardian reports.

“These people come from terrible places and are running from the extremes of human behaviour — torture, rape and violence — and deep poverty. It cannot be right to treat them with contempt, detain or house them in horrible conditions in Europe,” Jesuit Refugee Service activist, Father Joseph Cassar, told the paper.

Fortresseurope — a blog charting local news reports — says that since 1988 at least 9,400 people have died at sea trying to get to Europe, on top of those who actually arrive.

[Return to headlines]

Somalia-Malta Protest

Somali migrants in Malta protest against their continued detention

APA-Mogadishu (Somalia) More than 1,200 Somali migrants who illegally entered Malta in 2008, Friday night held a big demonstration against their continued detention in a camp in the Maltese capital Valleta where they are currently being held, APA learns from sources here Saturday.

The leader of the Somali migrants’ demonstration Mohamed Hassan Omar told APA by telephone from his detention in Valleta that their living conditions are good but what they want is to be freed from the continued imprisonment.

“We have been here in custody for a year and we don’t see signs of our being released. So we want the United Nations to put pressure on the Maltese government to release us from detention so that we can go to the other European nations to seek for a better life,” Mohamed Hassan Omar told APA on Saturday.

Shafici Moalim Fariid, the co-organizer of the demonstration for his part said that 11 of the Somali migrants were accused of not being Somalis after they failed to answer to certain questions put to them.

“When you come here in Malta, the first question you are asked is to tell the names of the Mogadishu warlords, which area each one of them used to control and if you fail they say that you are not a Somali, and that is something impossible because every Somali is not from Mogadishu,” he said.

“Those whom they said are not Somalis are actually from Puntland and Somaliland and they failed to distinguish the faces of Mogadishu’s former warlords from photos shown to them. This is not a good ruling and we are confirming that they are our brother Somalis,” he added.

He said they the leaders of detained Somali migrants in Malta have shown the authorities some documents indicating that the eleven people are real Somalis but they were rejected once again and that was one of the major reasons of their demonstration.

Somalis and other African illegal migrants use Malta and other islands in the Mediterranean Sea as their gateway to Europe.

A total of 1,400 Somali migrants entered Malta last year, bringing the number of Somalis who arrived in Malta since 2002 to more than 3,600.

           — Hat tip: RRW [Return to headlines]


Climate Scientists: It’s Time for ‘Plan B’

An emergency “Plan B” using the latest technology is needed to save the world from dangerous climate change, according to a poll of leading scientists carried out by The Independent. The collective international failure to curb the growing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has meant that an alternative to merely curbing emissions may become necessary.

The plan would involve highly controversial proposals to lower global temperatures artificially through daringly ambitious schemes that either reduce sunlight levels by man-made means or take CO2 out of the air. This “geoengineering” approach — including schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms — would have been dismissed as a distraction a few years ago but is now being seen by the majority of scientists we surveyed as a viable emergency backup plan that could save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, at least until deep cuts are made in CO2 emissions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/3/2009

  1. Hamas: Gaza Will Become Graveyard for Israeli Troops

    By sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip, Hamas said, Israel was falling into “the trap that our fighters had prepared for its soldiers and tanks.”

    That sounds a lot like the old Star Trek movie line: “Now that we’ve got them right where they want us.”

    Hezbollah Urges Hamas to ‘Kill as Many Israeli Soldiers as They Can’ During Gaza Op

    Not so much cheer leading in reality but rather that Nasrallah probably would prefer his own troops have fewer Israelis to face.

  2. Climate Scientists: It’s Time for ‘Plan B’

    The plan would involve highly controversial proposals to lower global temperatures artificially through daringly ambitious schemes that either reduce sunlight levels by man-made means or take CO2 out of the air. This “geoengineering” approach — including schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms — would have been dismissed as a distraction a few years ago but is now being seen by the majority of scientists we surveyed as a viable emergency backup plan that could save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, at least until deep cuts are made in CO2 emissions.

    These monster raving loons must be stopped. This planet’s entire food chain depends upon the oceans. Muck them up and everything could slide over the edge in a big hurry. MMGW (Man Made Global Warming) must be exposed for the hoax that it is before it’s too late. Al Gore should face charges of criminal fraud for his role in foisting this preposterous pseudo-science upon our world.

    Even a slight possibility of damaging the oceans could promise a catastrophe of tremendous proportions.

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