11.11.04 Palestinian militant group Al Aksa now Arafat Martyrs Brigades
The armed wing of the Fatah on Thursday changed its name from Al Aksa to Arafat Martyrs Brigade. They denounced Mahmoud Abbas as the replacement of Arafat as chairman of the PLO executive committee and Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Querei heads the National Security council overseeing the Palestinian security forces. They complained that the men represent the Old Guard and are supported by the US and Israel. The group distributed a leaflet in Ramallah Thursday night vowing to step up attacks on Israel. [Full story>>Jerusalem Post]
11.11.04 Three UN workers held as hostage moved from mountain quarters
Sabir Momin, spokesman for Jaish-e-Muslimeen, the group that is holding three UN hostages, claims that the hostages have been moved from a mountain location to warmer quarters. The hostages are Filipino Angelito Nayan, Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo and Annetta Flanigan of Northern Ireland. Sabir Momin claims they are negotiating with the Afghan and US governments a swap of 26 Afghan prisoners for the UN hostages. The Afghan government and US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, during his visit in Kabul last Monday, said that there would not be any swap. [Full story>>jang.com.pk]
11.11.04 About 22,000 Afghan militia men and 20 Afghan commanders turn to regular jobs
50,000 former Afghan fighters are in the sights of the UN-backed Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme. It has been using its $2.5 million fund (primarily from Japan) to cajole fighters into disbanding their militias and turning over a new leaf. Commanders are given rewards (up to $500 per month over two years) or a lump sum incentive to start new businesses in return for demobilization of their units. About half, or 30,000 fighters, remain to be permanently disarmed under the program. [More>>irinnews.org]
11.11.04 Iranian drug trafficking arrests up
According to a report in (London) iranmania.com drug trafficking arrests involving mainly hashish and opium are up. Since the start of their current year, March 20, 2004, police have arrested 23 bandits and 10,871 traffickers and seized 4 ,386 kilograms (9, 669 pounds) of drugs. Wednesday Police seized 630 kilograms (1,424 pounds) in a car that was left behind in a shoot out. [More >>iranmania.com]
Intercepts on the Afghan-Tajik border and in southwestern Iran are no doubt hurting bin Laden's activities, since a large part of the terrorist activities have been funded through drug trafficking.
Today the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released drug trafficking information specifically relating to the other corridor for Afghan drug trafficking: Turkmenistan. Assessing drug traffic through Turkmenistan is not easy, since President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan hasn't been releasing any data. Estimates are that drug use in the energy-rich former Soviet republic could be 1% of the population of 6.4 million. Drug use at weddings has replaced the traditional shot of vodka, said the IRIN report.
The 700 km border Turkmenistan shares with Afghanistan is poorly policed, in contrast with the other borders. Tajikistan has a far higher rate of seizures than any of the others. IRIN concludes, "some observers speculate that Tajikistan's success in counter-narcotics efforts and higher rates of seizures of drugs coming from Afghanistan, coupled with a short border with Uzbekistan, also pretty tightly controlled, could lead drug traffickers to turn to the Turkmen-Afghan border, the Afghan side of which is not controlled at all. Should that happen, the Turkmen border could be very vulnerable." [More>>]
11.11.04 Bush II adopts Hama Rules
One thing leads to another. An interesting article by Charles Glass [11.09.04 article in belfasttelegraph.co.uk ; also carried by kurdistanobserver.com/] compares the US assault on Fallujah to the Syrian assault on a rebel stronghold of Hama, Syria in the spring of 1982. The US condemned Syria for destroying the city and its people. Says Glass, "The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood seized Hama as the first step towards its goal of a national uprising against the secular Baathist regime. The Syrian President demanded their surrender. His army shelled the city, and special forces went in to kill or capture the militants. The Syrians employed the same strategy that the US is using now. Its tanks and artillery waited outside the city; they fired on militants and civilians alike. Its elite units, like the American Marines surrounding Falljuah today, braced themselves for a bloody battle.
"The US condemned Syria for the assault that is believed to have cost 10,000 civilian lives. The Syrian army destroyed the historic centre of Hama, and it rounded up Muslim rebels for imprisonment or execution. Syria's actions against Hama came to form part of the American case that Syria was a terrorist state. Partly because of Hama, Syria is on a list of countries in the Middle East whose regimes the US wants to change." [Glass, Belfast Telegraph article] The Glass article refers to a previous article in the New York Times by Thomas L. Freidman, "Hama Rules,": "President Hafez al-Assad faced a mortal threat from Islamic extremists, who sought to topple the Assad regime..How did he respond?..he literally leveled it.."
It is clear that Bush II plays by his own rules most of which are made up as he goes along. His vision of a free world is a world that caters to him, after he has pounded his opposition into submission. That is to say, he wants to play Caesar and so far has been getting away with it.
It has been said that "the winners write history" and this may be what the Bush family have counted upon all along, since they can achieve their ends through force and win their mandate justifying another old adage, "might makes right." Greek and Roman historians, however, have shown that tyrants are held accountable in the end and might doesn't make right when all is said and done. See Tacitus, Polybius, etc. on this.
Speaking from a historical perspective there are power mongers who creep into our confidence from time to time and smash our naive perceptions that they are here to do good an American President should do good.
If we call Hama Rules as "not good" then we need to take stock in ourselves as to what we have put into our highest office the most powerful instrument in the world allowing us to believe that leveling Fallujah is good. Today there are new outbursts in Mosel, and we will be watching a campaign, I suppose, leveling one city after another, as in Vietnam, to drive out rebels. Bush II has shown me that historical judgment is mere fantasy. He lives for the moment regardless of legacy.
It may be that the "War on Terrorism" is confusing our vocabulary. Before Bush II invaded Iraq there were no terrorists in that land, only a brutal dictatorship. The terrorist Osama bin Laden did not operate from Iraq but from Afghanistan. He's still in the area and I still have problems trying to understand how leveling Iraq's cities and historical places will lead to the arrest of bin Laden and his thugs.
11.11.04 Hostage freed in Fallujah sweep
A taxi driver who had been kidnapped and held for ten days shackled to a wall, without food and water, was freed Wednesday afternoon. [Washington Post].
A military officer said that it would take "at least ten days to clear the city." Insurgents claim they still control the town: "Abu Shams al-Fallujy, a member of the National Islamic Resistance in Falluja, told Aljazeera that US forces had entered the city's centre rapidly because they were surrounded in the Julan neighbourhood and were being targeted by snipers." [More at Al-Jazeera]
While several slaughter houses of hostages have been found, besides the live taxi driver, one wonders whether the US / Iraqi forces will find more live hostages held by the insurgents. Did insurgents leave Fallujah with their hostages before the sweep?
11.10.04 Asiatimes says insurgents planned a strategy of moving city to city
Asiatimes.com reports that their sources in Iraq say the insurgents did not plan to stay in Fallujah, but rather would spread out to other cities and continue guerilla attacks.
11.10.04 Update on Arafat's condition
Some Russian doctors though they were not privy to the details of Arafat's exact condition expressed the opinion that Arafat is in a "4th stage" coma, and with life support can live a long time, several weeks or more months, years [rian.ru]
9:00pm update. Arafat pronounced dead. Secretary-general of the Palestinian presidency, Tayib Abd al-Rahim, confirmed the death.
11.10.04 Militants from Afghanistan stopped at border
Several armed men crossing the Tajik-Afghan border shot and killed a Russian border guard near Dushanbe. The group of trespassers, who offered fierce armed resistance, tried to pass through the mountainous region in Tajikistan which is guarded by the Moscow Border Guard Force. Russian spokesmen suggested that the armed men may have been involved in drug trafficking. Tajikistan is a nation that holds a strategic location in the war on terrorism, sharing the intersecting borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. [ See rian.ru]
11.10.04 Dalai Lama XIV will be visiting the Russian Republic of Kalmykia
The Russian Republic of Kalmykia, bordering the northeastern corner of the Caspian Sea, will be visited by the Dalai Lama November 13 - 18, 2004. "Kalmykia, along with two other mainly Buddhist regions of Russia, Buryatia and Tyva, have been asking for the Dalai Lama to be allowed to visit for a long time, but the Russian authorities have refused, reluctant to spoil the relationship with China," says the World Tibet Network News . The Buddhist leader had attempted to visit the Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia in 2002 but was denied. The Dalai Lama a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize has lived in exile in India since 1959, after Chinese troops crushed a revolt in Tibet's capital Lhasa. The President of Kalmykia, Mr. Nikolayevich llyumzhinov, in August 2003, had met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama. The people of Kalmykia have been waiting 12 years for the Dalai Lama's visit.
Dharamsala, described as the Little Lhasa, is in the state of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas. Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India, was buried there in 1863.
11.10.04 French Ministry of Industry and 25 companies discuss trade in Kazakhstan
[11;00am post] Minister of Industry for France, Patrick Devedjian, met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to discuss trade arrangements, the main topic being oil projects. The French company Total and the Kazakhstani government would be cooperating in the export of oil to the developing countries. 25 French companies accompanied Mr. Devedjian on his visit prior to the scheduled visit of French President Jacques Chirac. [More at khabar.kz]
Other Kazakhstani news:
Last week officials of South Korea met with Nazarbayev et al. to discuss the development of plastic pipe factories.
11.09.04 Deputy Commanding General of the US Central Command, Lance Smith, arrived in Kazakhstan to visit the Ministry of Defense.
11.09.04 Kazakhstan reached a prelimary agreement for a stake in the British Gas owned Kashagan offshore oil field. The Kashagan project in the Caspian Sea is the largest and most complex of several under way and is seen by the West as a potential alternative to traditional Middle East producers. [More at independent-bangladesh.com]
11.09.04 Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov and President of the LUKOIL open joint stock company,Vagit Alekperov, have discussed further cooperation on the implementation of oil and gas projects on the Caspian Sea shelf and the creation of the engineering infrastructure of transportation of hydrocarbon raw materials. Lukoil and KazMunaiGaz Kazakh national company in early 2004 launched a geological survey on two sea projects in the central part of Kazakhstan's sector of the Caspian Sea. These projects are the Tyub-Karagan and the Atashsky. [More at en.rian.ru]
11.10.04 Palistinian Parliament Speaker to serve as acting head of Palestinian Authority for 60 days
[18:30 PST jang.com.pk] Palestinian leaders agreed that parliament speaker Rawhi Fattuh would serve as acting head of the Palestinian Authority for 60 days in the event of yasser Arafat's death.
11.10.04 Members of Israeli Knesset come to grips over Arafat
Nina Gilbert reported in the Jerusalem Post that two members of the Israeli Knesset nearly came to blows Tuesday evening when Arafat's health was discussed: "MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said the only good thing he could say about Arafat is that 'he is dead.' MK Issam Mahoul (Hadash) responded by saying that Eldad is 'suited to deliver a speech in German. You are a Nazi fascist,' Mahoul said to Eldad." After a guard prevented the two men from coming to blows several other members of the Knesset expressed their opinions. Gilbert's article highlights up close what Israel faces in the matter of the Palestinian struggle. The death of Arafat does not change the inherent difficulties of the struggle. Arafat has been a symbol and a leader of that of a murderer, from one point of view, and from another point of view that of a savior of sorts. Following a link from Palestinechronicles.com I reviewed in part the President of Palestine's web site, http://www.p-p-o.com/, and I was overwhelmed by the argument put forward on the site. The argument was simple, for it is a daily record of Israeli "aggressions" against Palestinians. People, houses, stores, offices everything that has been destroyed for the past years has been recorded [to the extent of their memories].
While this record exists, one cannot forget the fact that the Israelis have their records perhaps not in one place as in the Arafat complaint which list all of the people, houses, stores and offices destroyed by Palestinians, particularly by the suicide bombers.
Eventually both sides have to bury their grievances and begin anew, living peacefully side by side as the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel vowed before the United Nations. We all know that exterminating people is not the way to peace. Let's revisit this short excerpt from Israel's Declaration of Independence:
1.13 The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
1.14 The State of Israel is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representative of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.
1.15 We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the community of nations.
We appeal--in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months to Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
1.16 We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish the bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The state of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
1.17 We appeal to the Jewish People throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream the redemption of Israel.
1.18 Placing our trust in the Almighty [be-Zur Yisra'el], we affix our signatures to this Proclamation at this session of the Provisional Council of State, on the soil of the homeland, in the city of Tel-Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the 5th day of Iyar, 5708 (14th May, 1948). [end of document]
There is much to be said in the above clauses, should the two sides and the United Nations choose to revisit them. But this would go against the trend since May 14, 1948, which has been to settle disputes with the sword. Keep in mind that there are people in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who are of Jewish and Palestinian origin, who have been living in peace for much longer under a similar document called the Constitution of the United States of America. Thus, living according to the dream and will of a document is possible, even for Jews and Palestinians.
11.10.04 India gets special EU partner status alongside the United States, Canada, China and Russia
The European Union and India signed a broad "strategic partnership" agreement that will tighten their economic and political ties. The EU is both the leading foreign investor in India and its biggest trading partner. This agreement recognizes the increasingly important role India is playing both economically and politically. The EU-India trade has grown from 4.4 billion euros in 1980 to 28.4 billion euros in 2003. [Full article by K Gajendra Singh at atimes.com.]
11.09.04 Sunni party quits Iraqi interim government
Iraq's Sunni party quit the Allawi government, except for Minister of Industry Hashim Al-Hassani, who dissented from the group and decided to keep his post in the government. [Full story at Al-Jezeera]
11.09.04 Arafat in coma and has hours to live
Arafat's coma has deepened. According to The Associated Press, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia saw Arafat in a two-hour visit at Percy Military Training Hospital outside of Paris. According to the Palestinian visit with Arafat's doctors, Arafat is not dead they are "counting the hours." [The Jerusalem Post].
A report in Debka claims that Arafat is dead. It says that he died minutes after the Palestinian officials visited his hospital. They report that Afrafat will be buried in Ramallah. The Palestinian delegation plans to fly home Tuesday night upon reaching agreement with Suha Arafat's lawyers. [debka.com]
11.09.04 Hezballah unmanned aerial craft was capable of carrying 40 kilos; Iranians helped in launch
Israeli chief of staff General Yaalon's report to the Knesset committee Tuesday revealed that an unmanned aerial craft spent 7-12 minutes over the northern town of Nahariya. It was capable of carrying 40 kilos (~88 pounds). [debka.com]
Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz International and Reuters, reports that the Iranians helped with the launch of the drone which also carreid a camera. [Haaretz]
11.09.04 Pipeline gives new look to Russian, Indian and Chinese cooperation
Not so many years ago China and India were engaged in a border dispute. The world's two most populous countries fought a brief but bitter war in 1962 and have yet to agree on a border. The dispute involved 14,670 square miles of Indian territory in Kashimir that India claims China occupied. Now the development of transportation links between Xinjiang and India and the laying of a natural-gas pipeline connecting the two countries is fueling a sudden need to cooperate, even to the extent that the old border dispute can be [finally] settled. Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is reported to have suggested a strategic triangle involving Russia, China and India, and now the idea seems to have some significance.
M K Bhadrakumar of Asia Times online says that China has doubtless edged closer to the Russian position on the question of India's membership in an expanded UN Security Council.
11.08.04 Weakening Dollar, falling below $1.30 to the euro causes European concern
The dollar has been in somewhat of a free fall and on Monday, 11.08.04, broke the psychologically important level of $1.30 dollars to the euro. The weakening dollar against the euro creates concern with regard to the eurozone's recovery. The eurozone depends upon exports to the US and the falling dollar has created an enormous account deficit the difference between America's import and export of goods and services. While increasing exports from the US to Europe are good for the US, the deficit in imports from Europe forbodes economic gloom to the Europeans. [See Mark Tran's article in the guardian.co.uk]
May 6, 2003 the dollar dove below the euro for the first time, as discussed in an AP article:
Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Dollar Plunges As Euro Surpasses $1.14
NEW YORK - The dollar fell hard Tuesday, with the euro leaping above $1. 14 for the first time since January1999, after the Federal Reserve flagged deflation as a possible risk on the U.S. horizon.
After the Federal Open Market Committee's announcement, the dollar stumbled quickly, with the euro shattering resistance around $1.1395. The dollar also hit a four-year low against the Swiss franc, a five-and-half-year low versus the Canadian dollar and three-year lows against the Australian dollar. It also touched two-month troughs versus the yen and sterling.
You need to keep your eye on this one.
11.08.04 Britain offers to build a light nuclear reactor for Iran; China moves a piece in the nuclear chess game
Here's the deal: Three European nations offered to help Iran with nuclear power plants, and stop any attempt to apply UN sanctions on Iran, if Iran accepts what may be a pretty good bargain. Britain, France and Germany offered a controversial deal to build a light nuclear reactor for Iran, and supply it with other nuclear material, if Iran stops its nuclear activities. The talks, held in Paris 11.07.04, were contingent upon Iran abandoning its own uranium enrichment program for a period of six months and to stop its other controversial work at its nuclear facilities. Officials from Britain, France and Germany were included in the talks. [ Full story at timesonline.uk ]
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday that negotiations between Iran and the European trio in Paris were "complicated and difficult but constructive and progressing." He said the talks, which lasted over 20 hours, had made "considerable progress" towards reaching a preliminary agreement on a common approach to the Iran nuclear issue. Efforts were made to reach a compromise that the two sides could agree upon and which would protect their interests, he added. [ Full story at IranMania.com ]
A report 11.09.04 by Saloumeh Peyman in asiatimes.com says that the US position is to pursue sanctions against Iran through the UN Security Council. Part of the bargaining position of Britain et al. stressed that Iran's decision on the proposal must be made by the time the Internatinal Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hears the issue on November 25. If there is no agreement with Iran by then the three Europeans will pursue the option of UN sanctions.
Saturday, China gave Iran its support in the matter. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Iran's Kamal Kharazi in Tehran that there is no reason to send the issue to the Security Council, since it would only make the issue more complicated. China can use her veto in the Security Council to stop a sanction.
11.09.04 (Update)11.08.04 Chaos in Iraq increases as the attack on Fallujah proceeds
Assault on Fallujah underway. American troops have occupied the center of Fallujah. Foreign fighters (Egyptians, Syrians) are among those captured. Chaos in Iraq increases as the attack on Fallujah proceeds and the guerilla resistance spreads out. We recall that Saddam Hussein proclaimed on several occasions before he was overthrown that Iraqis would fight in the streets, house to house. Bush II did not apparently give much credit to that claim. Note what the Daily Times said
Israeli and American military sources believe that if Saddam decides to fight rather than flee, he will try to draw coalition troops into a potentially punishing battle for Baghdad. The longer he can prolong messy urban street fighting, the sources say, the greater the chance of international uproar should Washington and London proceed without United Nations backing.[dailytimes.com]
The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) appealed to Iraqis to "beware of being deceived that you are fighting terrorists from outside the country...history will record every drop of blood you spill in oppressing the people of your nation." [See "AMS warns Iraqi forces," at Al-jazeera ]
The guardian.uk reports that the Saudi religious scholars signed an open letter urging Iraqis to support jihad against US-led forces:
"Fighting the occupiers is a duty for all those who are able," they said in a statement posted on the internet at the weekend. "Resistance is a legitimate right. A Muslim must not inflict harm on any resistance man or inform about them. Instead, they should be supported and protected."
26 scholars signed the letter. [ Full story at www.guardian.co.uk ]
11.08.04 US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Islamabad
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage arrived Monday for talks on Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism, the Pakistani Foreign Office said. The discussions will also include dialogue between Pakistan and India, as well as regional and international issues. Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan also noted that later on this year the Pak-US Defense Consultative Group was planning to hold a meeting on a wide range of topics promoting defence cooperation, including the sale of F-16s to Pakistan. [jang.com.pk]
11.08.04 Militant blows himself up in Kashmir, injuring four soldiers
A Militant with explosives strapped to his body blew himself up outside an army camp in Kashmir, injuring four soldiers. Militants clashed with army patrols, three of them killed. [jang.com.pk]
11.07.04 Arafat has liver disease and may be moved to Cairo
Arafat's has been diagnosed with a liver disease. Plans are to bury him when his time comes in the Gaza Strip. The latest information from the Jerusalem post is that Arafat may be buried next Thursday, and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, Israel "will do everything" to let foreign dignitaries attend Arafat's funeral if it is held in Gaza. Israel is preparing for different scenarios, as there is no way to predict Palestinian reactions when he dies. It is possible [some] Palestinians may attempt to bury his body at the Temple Mount, where Arafat wanted to be buried. [re: Jerusalem Post article 11.08.04]
11.07.04 Violence in Thailand continues
Two Buddhist men have been shot dead by unidentified assailants in Thailand's south. One man sprayed a Buddhist shrine in Yala province. [See our 11.04.04 article]
11.07.04 People from Bangladesh trying to make illegal entrance into Kazakhstan
People from Bangladesh are being transported into Kazakhstan by a human trafficking network. A group of 21 people from Bangladesh were intercepted 11.06.04 at the Kazakhstani border with Kyrgyzstan. Emigrants from Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are seeking better opportunities using Kazakhstan as the corridor to a better future. [Full story at www.khabar.kz]
11.07.04 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) study predicts Arctic ice melt by 2100
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) will be having an International Scientific Symposium on Climate Change in the Arctic in Reykjavik, Iceland on 9-12 November 2004. A report to be released 11.08.04 predicts the Arctic ice to melt by the end of this century. Sea levels are expected to rise about 1 meter, affecting low-lying places such as Bangladesh, which contains 17 million people living in the flood range. Florida, Louisiana and the Asian cities of Bagkok, Calcutta, Dhaka and Manila are also at risk.
We know that the climate is getting warmer, as we may be towards the end of a warming period between ice-ages. Alternatively, we may be entering a perpetual warming, to become another planet like Venus. Hopefully the ACIA symposium will be able to give us some better indication as to the trend. Authors attending the symposium are from the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands .
A chart published on the International Arctic Research Center site gives a consensus of the assessment on the Arctic ice melt:
A recent PBS documentary of Alaska's sinking forests recording how permafrost is melting, causing Alaskan tundra to turn into bogs and huge icebergs floating from Antarctica and the Arctic confirm the global-warming trend the Bush administration choose to ignore. The largest iceberg ever sighted was 335 km (208 mi) long and 97 km (60 mi) wide, about the size of Belgium. It was sighted in November 1956 by the crew of a United States Coast Guard icebreaker in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. May 4-6, 2000 three icebergs, together the size of Connecticut, broke off from Antartica's Ronne Ice Shelf. The largest of the three was 107 miles long by 21 miles wide. May 23, 2002 two large icebergs broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The larger of the two was 108 miles long by 17 miles wide; the smaller 41 by 4 miles. The continuing break off of huge icebergs from the Arctic ice pack and Antarctica causes oceans to cool in the areas where they drift. So there is an argument that glaciers drifting into temperate seas may in the long run generate the next ice-age.
Besides an increase in typhoons and hurricanes there are other indications, such as the rise in the Caspian Seas level of about 2.25 meters since 1978, disucssed at maravot.com/ Banquet3.html.
Archeologists digging back 10,000 - 12,000 years to the time of the last Ice Age have been able to trace warming and cooling periods, and their data can be compared to current trends. Sudden warming events, as seen in Britain somewhat of a canary in our global-warming cage has shown a correspondence to population movements. [Basic story picked up from Al-Jezeera]
11.06.04 Islamic radical( s) attack Netherlands' film director suspected of threatening others
[Reuters] A descendant of Vincent van Gough, film director Theo van Gogh, was stabbed and shot Tuesday, as he cycled to work in Amsterdam. The 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan defendant, identified in the media as Muhammad B., was charged with the murder and attempting to kill a policeman and a bystander. He was wounded in the leg during a shoot-out during the arrest and is now in a hospital in the town of Scheveningen.
Theo van Gogh had produced a short documentary, called Submission, which was reportedly critical of the way Moslems treat their women, and a note pinned on his body by the murderer said, "Dear Mrs. Hirshi Ali (sic). Since you stepped into the political arena in the Netherlands you have been constantly busy terrorising Muslims and Islam with your remarks."
Amsterdam police arrested a 23-year-old Moroccan. They seized computers and video cassetts from his house and the man is being held on suspicion of belonging to a criminal organization with "terrorist intent.."
A total of nine people have been arrested in the wake of the stabbing and shooting. Two were subsequently released.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali the person to whom the note on van Gogh's body was written is a Somali refugee who serves as a liberal parliamentary deputy. She wrote the film script and is reported in hiding.
11.09.04 Update: Two muslim schools were attacked in apparent retaliation. Moslems feeling uneasy in the Netherlands.
11.06.04 China oil deal with Iran challenges US hegemony
The new deal China made with Iran , billed as the deal of the century, has the Bush administration scratching their heads, if not fuming over strategic maps on where to attack Iran first. Last week's gas agreement between Beijing and Tehran is worth $100 billion, with an estimated total sale of $200 billion, including another agreement currently in negotiation. The deal will provide for the export of 10 million tons of Iranian liquified natural gas for 25 years. China's state oil company will participate in the agreement in exploration, drilling, petrochemical and gas industries, pipelines and services. To meet the requirements Iran will need to purchase another 87 vessels, in addition to the 10 just purchased.
The deal considerably exceeds the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) which provides for the penalization of foreign companies who try to invest more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas industry. The Iranian field, the Yad Avaran, at 17 billion barrels per day, is capable of producing 300 to 400 barrels per day. In addition the huge South Pars field shared with Qatar is a point of concern. The South Pars alone possesses about 8% of the world's gas reserves, but restrictions upon Iran have given Qatar unbalanced access to that field a point of contention still in discussion between Qatar and Iran.
This is not the first deal between China and Iran, but its size sets a precedence and to fulfill it other countries will no doubt be participating in the venture. The deal also gives a hand to Indian interests in their (1993) 2,670 kilometer pipeline from Iran through Pakistan. Russia and the G8 countries appear to be sitting on the sidelines, in any event, caught up in Iran's uranium-enrichment program.
China was sleeping and subsequently awakened by US industrialists anxious to export their technologies to China to cash in on her coming into the techno-revolution. She's a major supplier of most things Americans use and to do that she needs fuel. America created the titan and now needs to learn how to get along in this new world of giants. The Bush administration, like the Roman god, Saturn, is wondering how it can devour its latest child.
For those who aren't familiar with mythology except Bush and his cronies who create their own mythology, to the media's delight Saturn is considered to be one of the older gods of the Indo-European pantheon. In Greek mythology he is called Cronus, the ruler of the Titans, who were children of earth (Ge) and sky (Uranus). Cronus overthrew his father by castrating him. The genitals of Uranus landed in the sea near Crete, and from the foam of the castration was born Aphrodite (Roman Venus). Cronus was warned by his parents that he was destined to be deposed by one of his children. He married his sister Rhea who gave birth to Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus. When Zeus (Roman Jupiter) was born, Rhea secreted the child away with Ge in Crete and gave Cronus (Saturn) a rock dressed up in swaddling clothes. Later the wise Oceanid Metis married Zeus when he reached maturity and applied an emetic to Cronus, causing him to vomit up his other children. Among them was Hera, who also married Zeus and took the sides of the Mycenaeans in the Trojan war. Zeus and his band engaged in a war with Cronus and the Titans and after defeating them divided up the world: Zeus, the thrower of thunderbolts, reigned supreme from Mount Olympus, Poseidon (Roman, Neptune), reigned over the sea and Hades (Roman, Pluto meaning "wealth") presided over the Underworld (Hell, Hades) where wealth obviously rules, since everyone has to go there eventually and they, like the goddess Persephone, are stripped as they descend into its abyss. A good mythology link is: http://www.pantheon.org/ if you are amused by the Muses (3).
Meanwhile, we wait while George W. Bush gorges on his capital...
[Based on the Asia Times report]
11.06.04 Where to bury Arafat?
The big news to come is the philandering that will be involved in burying Arafat. Regardless of the world's view of the man (George Bush did say, "God bless his soul") we are left with gnawing doubts about Bush and his connection to God, wondering how much God would bless Arafat: whether He would allow Arafat to be buried in the precincts of Jerusalem, near the Dome of the Rock where Mohammed is said to have left the earth atop his charger. The main gate to the Dome of the Rock, the Golden Gate, has been sealed either by Saladin in 1187 A.D. or Suleiman the Magnificent when he rebuilt the city ramparts and wall around Jerusalem in 1541 A.D.
The area in front of the Golden Gate has been a great place to bury Moslems. For the burials in front of the gate are presumed to prevent the Jewish Messiah from entering the Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is located. It is believed that the Messiah would immediately rebuild the Third Temple in the place where the Dome of the Rock is now located (I don't subscribe to that theory, myself). Christians believe in the same tradition, that Christ (Greek for Messiah) will return and enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate. Moslems counter with the issue that the gate is not only sealed with stones, it is protected (was protected in 1985 when I was there) by a wrought-iron fence.
Golden Gate with the Dome of the Rock behind and the Muslim cemetery in the foreground
Though the stone walls sealing the gate and the wrought-iron fence should stop the Jewish or Christian Messiah from entering the Temple Mount, Moslems took the additional precaution of placing a cemetery in front of the entrance, believing that no Messiah would walk through a cemetery and defile himself before entering the Temple Mount.
Control of the Temple Mount is under the Palestinians. When I was in Jerusalem, after going into the Dome of the Rock, I meandered over near the top of the stairs from the Golden Gate, but was told to go back by a Palestinian guard near the stairs. They guard the gate pretty well. So there you have it. A possible dispute over an old disputed burial ground before the oldest Muslim building which has survived basically intact in its original form, the Dome of the Rock. It was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik and completed in 691 A.D., and is considered to be the third holiest site for Muslim pilgrimage, after Mecca and Medina. The building encloses a huge rock located at its center, from which, according to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven at the end of his Night Journey. There are lots of legends around the Dome of the Rock. To read a few of them go to: http://www.thehope.org/DomeLegends.html. (The link is for your reference, to appreciate the eons of deep-seated stories of the place where the Second Temple of Jerusalem was located and not an endorsement I don't agree with their conclusions).
If Palestinians seek to bury their hero near the Dome of the Rock, perhaps there might be room for a bit of negotiation. I suggest that Arafat be buried there provided the Palestinians open the Golden Gate and move the graves aside. They could relocate the graves into nicely decorated tombs built from the stones sealing the gate on either side of the new rue.
Until the way is cleared for anyone to go up through that gate, it is doubtful that there will be any peace in Jerusalem. (God forbid that George W. tries to put his image on the gate). Great photos of Jerusalem are available at: http://www.holylandhotel.com/Album/.
11.04.04 An interesting summation of the Bush-Cheney record
[T.V. image from Skippy via American Politics Journal]
In my commentary on the policy of Bush Borrowing I pointed out how the borrowing on the debt is essentially the sale of US Bonds to pay off the interest on the national debt each year. The borrowing to pay off interest drags down our economy in an exponential manner, called a "J" curve. The debt of $5.7 Trillion ever since 2001 equates to George H. W. Bush's debt of $5 Trillion. During the former Bush's times, the interest accumulated on the debt was equivalent to Defense expenditures, of about $350 Billion per year.
The increase of the debt in four years of 29% reflects the exponential increase experienced by most credit card holders who get buried in debt because the debt reaches a point where it increases faster than they can pay off. A good example of nations getting into this kind of trouble is Brazil who needed repeated bail-outs through the World Bank. Our debt is beyond the World Bank's capacity to relieve.
11.01.04 (Trend Story) Central Asian Common Market and the critical role of Afghanistan
Aloke Shekhar interviewed Mr. Saddik Safaev, Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, on this eve of Safaev's visit to India. Points discussed in the interview reflect issues that are critical to American interests in fighting the war in Afghanistan. An examination of the map of the Central Asian Group of nations gives one a better appreciation why America and the world have their eyes on Afghanistan.
The Central Asian Group, & the passage to India & China. Click on map for a larger image. (Rand McNally map)
Most Americans by now know where Afghanistan is, that it is adjacent to Pakistan; and east of Pakistan are the 21st century giants, India and China. Marco Polo (1271-1295) brought this part of our world to our attention through his travels on the Silk Road to China. On the way to China he and other traders passed through Samarkand, Uzbekistan: the mysterious capital of the mythical Prestor John. In the 6th century it was the western capital of the Turks. Under Tamerlane in 1365 it became the most important economic and cultural centre in Central Asia. It was the romantic hospice where thousand-camel caravans passed through her thousand tiled gates. But this is nothing compared to what is going through its gates now. The nations surrounding the Si lk Road are once again entertaining important traders from the east and the west. Where thousand-camel caravans used to trek the steppes of Asia there come trucks, and a hoped-for pipeline from the Caspian Sea to supply the rapidly growing industrial centers of India and China. Uzbekistan is suddenly again in the center of a world in renaissance, at the crossroads of history. The Uzbeks captured Samarkand in 1500 and their name is thought to refer to Öz Beg (Uzbek), the Mongol khan under whom the Golden Horde attained its greatest power.
Because Uzbekistan is a double-landlocked nation (all of its neighbors have no access to the sea) it needs strong relationships with its neighbors; and they depend upon nations who have ports. India has the nearest ports. Thus, Mr. Safaev is on a mission to India.
Uzbekistan is a major cotton producer and looks to more trade opportunities with India. As most Americans know from the labels on their clothing, India is now a major supplier of quality fabrics. It follows that Uzbek cotton and Indian technology could open new vistas for the two nations.
Other issues, including an oil pipeline through Central Asia serving India and China, give more importance to the road through Samarkand, and since the road leads through Afghanistan, securing the peace in Afghanistan is all important. But securing the peace so all concerned will benefit has its problems: from radical Muslims and terrorists to the drug trade. Afghanistan grows a lot of poppies and the revenue from drug trafficking, is one of the major sources of income for terrorists operating in the region. Hence, hordes of entrepreneurs and generals are studying the area of this map these days. The Bush Administration's interests in this remote area of the world are thus more delicate and bring to mind the story Polybius told of Hannibal who marched an army with elephants over the Alps to vacation in Italy for 16 years. Or Alexander the Great crossing the Hindu Kush to raft in the Ganges, whose army quickly hastened back to Babylon to bargain over a pine box. History likes to repeat itself.
May freedom ring in Afghanistan, I say.
Mel Copeland 11.01.04
[Story by Aloke Shekhar is at: english.pravda.ru]