Current Events

Reactions to Global Warming Report

Reuters wrote on February 2:

“The world’s top climate scientists said on Friday global warming was man-made… The scientists said it was ‘very likely’ — or more than 90 percent probable — that human activities led by burning fossil fuels explained most of the warming in the past 50 years… The Kyoto Protocol is the main plan for capping emissions of greenhouse gases until 2012 but it has been severely weakened since the United States, the top source of greenhouse gases, pulled out in 2001. Emissions by many backers of Kyoto are far over target… A 21-page summary of IPCC findings for policy makers… says it is ‘more likely than not’ that greenhouse gases have made tropical cyclones more intense.”

The Associated Press added on February 2:

“Scientists from 113 countries issued a landmark report Friday saying they have little doubt global warming is caused by man, and predicting that hotter temperatures and rises in sea level will ‘continue for centuries’ no matter how much humans control their pollution… The 21-page report represents the most authoritative science on global warming as the panel comprises hundreds of scientists and representatives. It only addresses how and why the planet is warming, not what to do about it… The scientists said global warming was ‘very likely’ caused by human activity, a phrase that translates to a more than 90 percent certainty that it is caused by man’s burning of fossil fuels. That was the strongest conclusion to date, making it nearly impossible to say natural forces are to blame. It also said no matter how much civilization slows or reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and sea level rise will continue on for centuries.”

On February 2, BBC News quoted Sharon Hays, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as saying: “This report is a comprehensive and accurate reflection of the current state of climate change science.”

The Washington Post wrote on February 2 that “In 1965, the concern that greenhouse gases would lead to global warming was a prediction. Today, it is an established scientific fact.”

AFP added on February 2:

“In its first assessment in six years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dealt a crippling blow Friday to the shrinking body of opinion that claims higher temperatures in past decades have been driven by natural, not man-made, causes… British Environment Minister David Miliband said the report ‘is another nail in the coffin of the climate change deniers’… The exhaustive IPCC study, culled from work by 2,500 scientists in more than 100 countries, sounded alarms about the impact of carbon pollution, mostly from the burning of oil, gas and coal. These fossil fuels release CO2, which traps heat from the sun instead of letting it radiate safely into space.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 2:

“A new United Nations report on climate change makes for sobering reading. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, humans are almost certainly responsible for global warming. And the consequences could be worst than previously thought. For years, global warming was dismissed as an apocalyptic vision dreamt up by cranks and hippies. But recently consensus has been growing that the climate is indeed changing and humans are directly responsible. Now the United Nations has concluded that humans are almost certainly responsible for global warming and issued its strongest-ever warning about the consequences.

“The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its keenly awaited report on climate change Friday in Paris. It contains the UN’s strongest conclusion yet that human activities are leading to global warming, and warns of more droughts, stronger storms and rising sea levels by 2100… According to the report, human-made emissions of greenhouse gases can be blamed for fewer cold days, hotter nights, killer heat waves, floods and heavy rains, devastating droughts, and an increase in hurricane and tropical storm strength.”

The Los Angeles Times wrote on February 2:

“In the strongest language it has ever used, a United Nations panel says global warming is ‘very likely’ caused by human activities and has become a runaway train that cannot be stopped… The phrase ‘very likely’ indicates a 90% certainty. The last IPCC report, issued five years ago, said it was ‘likely’ that human activity was at fault, indicating a certainty of 66%. Many scientists had argued during the editing process that the report should say it is ‘virtually certain’ that human activities are causing global warming. That would indicate a 99% certainty. But the change was strongly resisted by China, among other nations, because of its reliance on fossil fuels to help build its economy…In addition, the report says, for the first time, that it is ‘more likely than not’ that the strong hurricanes and cyclones observed since 1970 have been produced by global warming.”

Bild Online wrote in sensational words, “Climate Horrors–Man is to be blamed when our earth dies.” The article quoted some of the German co-authors of the “shocking” study, as well as other weather experts, as saying that cities like London or Sydney were in danger of overflooding. According to the article, commencing in 2020, Dublin and Ireland will experience drought; the Sahara might stretch as far as Berlin, and man will become more and more violent…

No Universal Agreement on Global Warming

Not everyone agrees with the finding of the IPCC report–nor, that there is unanimous consensus of all reputable scientists on the issues of man-made global warming or climate change. To reach this conclusion, one does not have to go so far as to focus on controversial “commentator” Rush Limbaugh, who postulates on his shows that the extent to which fossil fuel emissions have contributed to the rise in global atmospheric air temperatures since about the mid-1800s is still debatable, and that the Antarctica ice is actually increasing.

Other voices, which are normally more accepted within the scientific community, can be heard as well. The highly-respected conservative German newspaper, Die Welt, wrote on February 3 that those scientists who disagree with the findings of the UN report are rejected as “deniers”–a highly explosive term, especially in Germany, where Holocaust deniers are committing a crime. Die Welt also stressed that there are scientific critics, including respected meteorologists, who have gathered and analyzed data and who have reached different and less dramatic results pertaining to the weather and the climate. The paper stressed, too, that in the negotiations in Paris, which resulted in the UN report, politicians, and not scientists, had the final say.

Another highly respected newspaper, the German left-liberal publication, “Die Zeit,” likewise criticized the fact that politicians, and not scientists, seemed to have run the show in Paris. This began–according to Die Zeit–when counties selected “their” representative scientists for Paris–a procedure which hardly guarantees independence. And the report itself had to be agreed to by the representatives of the individual governments–and these representatives had received directives from their governments what to agree to and what not. In an interview with sociologist Peter Weingart, Die Zeit raised tough questions, including the fear that the report could not be objective, as it had become part of the political mainstream to predict global warming. The additional fear was voiced that a scientist who would not agree to such a postulate would be cut off from receiving further funds for scientific research. The paper also stated that, due to inconsistent scientific “findings” of the past, “no one is sure anymore what to believe, when it comes to climate change.”

Political Pressure on “Dissenters”

In our last Update, we reported about alleged political pressure from the Bush Administration on scientists believing that global warming is man-made.  But it goes both ways. Set forth below is an article reporting about political pressure from the state of Oregon on the state’s Climatologist who believes that man does not cause global warming. reported on February 7:
“In the face of evidence agreed upon by hundreds of climate scientists, George Taylor holds firm. He does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change… Taylor has held the title of ‘state climatologist’ since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU. The university created the job title, not the state. His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon’s policies. So the governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint…

“In an interview [Taylor] told KGW, ‘There are a lot of people saying the bulk of the warming of the last 50 years is due to human activities and I don’t believe that’s true.’ He believes natural cycles explain most of the changes the earth has seen. A bill will be introduced in Salem soon on the matter. Sen. Brad Avakian, (D) Washington County, is sponsoring the bill. He said global warming is so important to state policy it’s important to have a climatologist as a consultant to the governor.”

European Pressure on the USA

The New York Times reported on February 1 that continuous critic of the USA, French President Jacques Chirac, “has demanded that the United States sign both the Kyoto climate protocol and a future agreement that will take effect when the Kyoto accord runs out in 2012… he warned that if the United States did not sign the agreements, a carbon tax across Europe on imports from nations that have not signed the Kyoto treaty could be imposed to try to force compliance. The European Union is the largest export market for American goods.”

Chirac expresses, to a large extent, the European opinion which blames the U.S. in this matter. They openly deride America for not signing on to the Kyoto Protocol. This is another arena in which the United States is viewed as a rogue nation that is disinterested in what others think. The impact of this latest go-round is only serving to further isolate the U.S.A.

This can also be seen, when considering the following excerpts from an article in The Associated Press of February 3:

“Fear of runaway global warming pushed 46 countries to line up Saturday behind France’s appeal for a new environmental body that could single out — and perhaps police — nations that abuse the Earth… Without naming the United States directly, Chirac expressed frustration that ‘some large countries, large rich countries, still must be convinced.’ They are ‘refusing to accept the consequences of their acts,’ he said.”

Angela Merkel–Peacemaker or Economist?

Deutsche Welle reported on February 6:

“Chancellor Angela Merkel met Emirati President Khalifa Monday as part of her efforts to revive the Middle East peace process… Merkel said Germany, as the current European Union president, would throw its weight behind the reconciliation talks in Mecca on Tuesday between Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political supremo Khaled Meshaal… adding the EU would stay in close contact with Saudi Arabia, which is hosting the meeting… Merkel later told the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies in a speech on EU foreign policy that reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ‘absolutely central to bringing stability to the region.’… She said that working towards a two-state solution is the best way forward…

“Merkel also criticized Iran and Syria for their role in the Middle East… ‘There are forces, in the region and elsewhere, that do not want success in these efforts,’ Merkel said in the United Arab Emirates’ capital. ‘On this account we have concerns, especially with respect to Iran… Syria has not used its opportunity to play a constructive role…’

“Elsewhere, the meeting with Sheikh Khalifa focused on… economic ties between Berlin and Abu Dhabi… Sheikh Khalifa also called for a boost to economic ties between the UAE and Germany, whose two-way trade increased 25 percent last year to seven billion dollars… In Riyadh, she met King Abdullah as well as the crown prince and foreign minister of the oil-rich monarchy, and Abderrahman al-Attiya, secretary general of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.”

“Limited” Mandate to Help NATO troops in Afghanistan?

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 7:

“The German cabinet decided on Wednesday to send six Tornado reconnaissance jets to Afghanistan to help locate Taliban bases in response to a request from NATO. The German pilots will be accompanied by around 500 support staff. The mission has to be approved by parliament in March and the Tornados could be deployed in April for a six-month tour…. Germany has around 2,900 troops serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan…. The mission will cost around €35 million. With more than 4,000 people killed in violence, last year was the bloodiest in Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001. Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said the Tornados… could help prevent civilian casualties and that the mission was necessary given that the Taliban had announced it would launch 2,000 suicide attacks.

“Meanwhile an opinion poll showed a big majority of Germans are opposed to sending Tornado jets to the south of Afghanistan. Only 21 percent were in favor, with 77 percent opposed… Former German air force general Hermann Hagena said the Tornados might end up getting involved in combat. If troops on the ground were in danger a pilot should be prepared to open fire, Hagena told NDR Info radio.”

While Bild Online asked the question, “Has Germany entered the war,” Der Spiegel Online voiced the opinion that “Germany has already been at war for a while,” and that the German government should be honest enough to admit this fact.

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 8:

“In approving the deployment of Tornado jets to Afghanistan, but only for reconnaissance purposes, the German cabinet has revealed the full extent of Germany’s schizophrenic Afghanistan policy. This double game has to stop. The chancellor should finally say it like it is: Germany is at war. The German government approved the deployment of Tornado jets to Afghanistan on Wednesday. ‘Are we now at war?’ the tabloid Bild wrote, clearly hedging its bets. German Chancellor Angela Merkel should be honest enough to answer this question with a clear ‘Yes.’ While she’s at it, she should add that this has been the case for the last five years.”

Pagan Christians or Christian Pagans?

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 7:

“The old natural religions continue to thrive in Africa. While Christianity and Islam vie for supremacy in many countries, they have failed to banish the rain gods and spirits south of the Sahara. Frequently the pagan rites have fused with a faith in Jesus Christ… The clash of civilizations and religions… can be witnessed firsthand here in Africa…  Islamic Fundamentalism is advancing from the west, penetrating all the way to the continent’s eastern reaches. In some regions it collides head-on with an equally aggressive brand of Christianity. The clashes are becoming increasingly bitter because the desert is expanding, bringing more poverty in its wake… Yet, as hard as the two great monotheistic faiths have struggled for supremacy, they have failed to wrest power from [pagan] priests… With its nature deities, the old African mythology is often the only stabilizing force in a world full of suffering, displacement and death, where everything is in constant flux but rarely changes for the better, where – in many respects – time has stood still. This is a world populated by nymphs and sirens, by elfin spirits, sun and moon gods, and by animal deities such as cows, stags, lambs and calves.

“At the end of the 19th century, the British ethnologist Edward Burnett Tylor coined the term animism (the Latin word anima means soul or breath) to describe this pantheon [explaining that] plants, animals and objects also have souls in the minds of these ‘primitive peoples.’… Despite the best efforts of Christian and Islamic missionaries, some 40 percent of the people in Burkina Faso, western Africa, are still considered animist. In East African Ethiopia, a largely Christian domain, the figure is still thought to be 10 percent. Yet these numbers remain pure conjecture. In truth, religious distinctions have long blurred, indeed evaporated, in Africa. Someone who attends church in the morning and the mosque at midday might easily invite a voodoo priest over in the evening to read the kola nuts. Practically everywhere the cult of the dead intermingles with Christianity…

“In Kenya, for example, the modernminded Kikuyu, flashing cell phones and Ray-Bans, happily journey to Mount Kenya and pray to Ngai, the supreme God of the animists – despite often being members of one of the numerous Christian sects, such as the Pentecostals or the gospel churches. In this way… Christianity and the pagan belief in nature deities and demons mutually impact one another. The existence of a god of creation in nearly all pre-Christian African religions encourages this process. This cross-fertilization is not as strange as it may sound, even to Christians in the West. Something quite similar occurred there centuries ago, ‘when pagan Germanic customs mingled with Christian rites,’ says [religious scholar Fritz] Stenger [from the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi]. ‘Even Christmas – that most traditional of Christian celebrations – has ancient Germanic roots.”

New U.S. Military Command HQ in Africa–and Germany Will Help…

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 7:

“With the end of the Cold War, Germany lost much of its strategic importance for the United States military, a development reflected in the ongoing drawdown of US forces from bases here. But Germany hasn’t lost all of its significance — it is still home to the US forces’ European headquarters and soon it will also serve as temporary host to the US military command for Africa, Africom…

“The move reflects increased US interest in the continent as a result of fears that Islamist militants could find havens in countries with weak governments such as Somalia. US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were targeted in simultaneous al-Qaida attacks in 1998, killing over 250 people, and US forces recently targeted al-Qaida militants in Somalia with air strikes. Washington is also keen to foster stability on the continent with an eye to AFRICA’S OIL RESERVES which could provide an alternative to Middle Eastern oil. The new unit will initially be based in the western German city of Stuttgart, also HOME to the military’s EUROPEAN COMMAND, and it is expected to be in full operation by September 2008.”

“The West Must Pay Closer Attention” to Russia!

On February 2, Der Spiegel Online published an interesting interview with Russian author Vladimir Sorokin. In the interview, Sorokin stated:

“…what would happen to Russia if it isolated itself completely from the Western world — that is, if it erected a new Iron Curtain. There is much talk about Russia being a fortress. Orthodox churches, autocracy and national traditions are supposed to form a new national ideology… Putin likes to quote a sentence from Czar Alexander III, who said that Russia has only two allies — the army and the navy. As a citizen, this makes me sit up and take notice. This is a concept of self-imposed isolation, a defense strategy that sees Russia surrounded by enemies.

“When I turn on the TV I see a general calmly claiming that our missiles are ahead of the latest American models by three five-year plans. It’s a nightmare. We are creating a concept of the enemy, just as they did in the Soviet era. This is a giant step backward… . My television teaches me that everything was wonderful in the Soviet Union. According to the programs I watch, the KGB and apparatchiks were angels, and the Stalin era was so festive that the heroes of the day must still be celebrated today…”

The article continued to quote Sorokin, as follows:

“The West should be even more vocal in insisting that the Russians respect human rights. All compromise aside, I ask myself whether Russia is moving in the direction of democracy. I don’t believe it is! Bit by bit, Russia is slipping back into an authoritarian empire. The worst thing that can happen to us is indifference in the West — that is, if it were interested in nothing but oil and gas. I am always surprised when I watch the weather report on German television. First they show the map of Europe and then the camera moves to the right. Then comes Kiev, then Moscow and then everything stops. This seems to be the West’s view of us — of a wild Russia that begins past Moscow, a place one prefers not to see. This is a big mistake. The West must pay closer attention.”

Bird Flu Isolates Britain

The Associated Press reported on February 5 about an outbreak of the bird flu virus H5N1, which is also dangerous for humans:

“Poultry farmers around Europe were on guard Monday against the possible spread of bird flu across the North Sea from infected Britain, fearing the disease could be carried by wild birds.The Netherlands and Norway ordered restrictions on commercial poultry over the weekend after the outbreak last week of the H5N1 strain of the virus, which hit poultry stocks in Asia in 2003. About 2,500 turkeys died of the H5N1 strain on the farm, owned by… Europe’s largest turkey producer… and all of the facility’s 159,000 turkeys were ordered slaughtered. It was the first time H5N1 had been found on a British farm.

“Authorities in both parts of Ireland banned bird shipments from Britain and revoked poultry-import licenses Monday… the ban in Japan, which imported more than 160,000 fowl from Britain in 2006, was effective as of Saturday. Russia will stop imports from Tuesday, including eggs and poultry feed…”

Army Officer Might Have to Go to Jail

The following serves as a good example to illustrate that once you are in the army, you have to follow orders unconditionally–even if they violate your personal conscience and convictions. Therefore, for this reason alone, young men and women should carefully consider the consequences, before joining the military.

The Associated Press reported on February 4:

“Denied a chance to debate the legality of the Iraq war in court, an Army officer who refused to go to Iraq now goes to trial hoping to at least minimize the amount of time he could serve if convicted… Ehren Watada… has spoken out against U.S. military involvement in Iraq, calling it morally wrong and a breach of American law. ‘As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order,’ Watada said in a video statement [in the past]… ‘Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and the rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crime,’ Watada said then…

“Seitz [Watada’s attorney] unsuccessfully sought an opportunity to argue the legality of the war, saying it violated Army regulations that specify wars are to be waged in accordance with the United Nations charter. His final attempt was quashed last month when the military judge… ruled Watada cannot base his defense on the war’s legality. [The judge] also rejected claims that Watada’s statements were protected by the First Amendment.”

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