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The Koch-Brothers, two Billionaires, who have run oil refineries and control thousands of miles of pipeline, giving them a massive personal stake in the fossil fuel industry may be the biggest forces behind the refusal of th USA, to do something serious against the escalating climatechange!

 

From Fossil Fuels to Global Warming Denial, Koch Brothers May Be Biggest Force Behind U.S. Inaction

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are known for funneling vast donations into Republican campaigns in the United States. But what impact are the Koch brothers having on global warming? As the United States is accused of blocking progress at the U.N. climate talks in Doha, a new report says the Koch brothers may be the biggest force behind the climate stalemate. The Kochs run oil refineries and control thousands of miles of pipeline, giving them a massive personal stake in the fossil fuel industry. Researchers say they have also funneled tens of millions into climate denial science, lobbying and other efforts to derail policy that could lessen the impact of global warming. We’re joined by Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization. [includes rush transcript]

GUEST:

Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization and co-author of the new report, “Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and UN Climate Deadlock.”

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.DONATE >

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: Singfortheclimate.com. Yes, 5 percent of the Belgian population came out into the streets and sang this song. Today at the Doha summit, we went to a news conference where major climate negotiators from Belgium and the European Union sang this song, as well, singfortheclimate.com. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’re broadcasting from the 18th U.N. climate change summit. I’m Amy Goodman.

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are known for funneling vast donations into Republican campaigns in the United States. But what impact are the Koch brothers having on global warming? As the U.S. is accused of blocking progress here at COP18 talks in Doha, a new report says the Koch brothers may be the biggest force behind the climate stalemate. The Koch brothers run oil refineries and control thousands of miles of pipeline, giving them a massive personal stake in the fossil fuel industry. But researchers say they’ve also funneled tens of millions of dollars into climate denial science, lobbying and other efforts to derail policy that could lessen the impact of global warming. The report is called “Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock.”

To talk more about this, we’re joined by one of its authors, Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization.

Victor, we welcome you to Democracy Now! And I just want to point out, for people who are watching on television, you may have noticed a spider over my left shoulder. And that is a piece of art here at the convention center. It’s a massive nine-meter-high sculpture by the sculptor Louise Bourgeois. It’s called Maman, and it’s got marble eggs inside the spider’s sac. And it was—she thought of it fondly, actually, for her mother, who was a weaver in France. You have an image of the—what you call the “Kochtopus,” Victor Menotti, not exactly what you consider a positive image, but not looking so different from this work of public art behind us.

VICTOR MENOTTI: It is—it’s the perfect backdrop to explain what’s going on here in Doha. It’s a follow-the-money story. And it goes from Doha to Washington, to Wichita, which is where the Kochs are based. A lot of people may think this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but if you look very soberly at what the—who’s moving the money and where it’s coming from, these two brothers, Charles and David, are now the world’s wealthiest individuals. Their combined net worth now exceeds that of the world’s wealthiest man, Carlos Slim. And they have spent more than anybody, more than any gas and oil company, more than even Exxon, in campaign contributions—

AMY GOODMAN: The richest men are—number one?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Carlos Slim.

AMY GOODMAN: Number two?

VICTOR MENOTTI: It’s Bill Gates. Number three is Warren—Amancio Ortega from Spain of Zara, the clothing company. Then Warren Buffett. But if you took the Koch brothers together and combine them, we consider them a single financial, political entity, the way they operate.

AMY GOODMAN: So they’re number one.

VICTOR MENOTTI: They’re at $80.2 billion, and Carlos Slim at $71.8 billion. So, they wield their wealth to really stop the process in the U.S. for phasing out fossil fuels. They’ve spent more than anybody on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, climate denial science. And they’re—we’re not saying they’re the only force. They are part of the fossil fuels complex. But they are the financial force and the ideological leaders of the countermovement.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about an action that took place this week. I wanted to play a comment of one of the people who were arrested this week protesting in Texas, as delegates and activists gather here in Doha at the U.N. climate conference. On Monday, two activists in Texas locked themselves inside of a section of pipe that’s part of the Keystone XL pipeline that’s now under construction by the company TransCanada. The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, a project opponents say would produce lethal levels of carbon emissions while endangering communities along its path. President Obama now faces a decision about the pipeline’s approval, after delaying it until after the 2012 election. The section of the pipe where activists locked themselves would run less than a hundred feet from homes near Winona, Texas. This is Matt Almonte, speaking in the dark from 25 feet inside the section of pipe, after he locked himself between two barrels of concrete weighing over 600 pounds each.

MATT ALMONTE: So, this is the first night being here in this pipe. And basically, we’ve set up shop here. I feel it’s very important for people to feel empowered to take action against resource extraction. The Keystone XL pipeline is—it doesn’t really serve to benefit anybody but the corporations who will reap all of the profit at the expense of the communities that will be poisoned, through their water, through their air. And it’s just not right, and I wanted to plant myself in the middle of that fight.

AMY GOODMAN: That was activist Matt Almonte speaking 25 feet inside a section of the Keystone XL pipeline. He and two others were later removed from the pipe by police and charged with resisting arrest, criminal trespassing and illegal dumping. Victor Menotti, what does the Keystone XL pipeline, which thousands have protested and many have been arrested for in front of the White House in the last year—what does it have to do with the Koch brothers?

VICTOR MENOTTI: The 25 percent of the current tar sands imports, they process already. The Kochs have vast holdings in Canada in tar sands territory. They already have some of the networks of the pipelines. The refinery is existing in Corpus Christi. We call it the Koch Keystone pipeline.

AMY GOODMAN: Your final conclusions as you finish this “US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock”?

VICTOR MENOTTI: That the world needs the United States to mobilize around the force of these Koch brothers to get private money out of politics and to isolate their extreme elements in the Republican Party. These aren’t all conservatives thinking this way. These are extremists, and they need to be isolated.

AMY GOODMAN: Victor Menotti, with the International Forum on Globalization. “Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock” is his report. And we’ll link to it at democracynow.org.

Oh, I’ll be speaking in Oslo, Norway on Saturday, and we’ll be broadcasting from just outside the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Monday, so check that out and go to our website at democracynow.org.

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/5/from_fossil_fuels_to_global_warming

Reasons why western military intervention in Syria is coming soon: to protect Israel! The question is: Will military intervention take place end of this year? Or will it wait for a declaration of war against Iran in the coming spring at the most? The big lie about Syria’s chemical weapons: won’t get fooled again?

Reasons why western military intervention in Syria is coming soon: to protect Israel

11 December 2012
Abdel Bari Atwan
Syria

The question is: Will military intervention take place end of this year? Or will it wait for a declaration of war against Iran in the coming spring at the most?


By Abdel Bari Atwan
@abdelbariatwan
7 December 2012


NATO Patriot missiles and troops are being positioned along the Turkish border with Syria.

THE SUDDEN US-European concern about Syria’s chemical weapons, and the growing panic over the possibility of their use by Syrian President Bashar al-Asad against his own citizens reveal an almost certain intention to intervene militarily in Syria to decisively settle the situation and overthrow the ruling regime in Damascus.

A close source to UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi cited him as saying that a key Arabian Gulf ruler told him that the Syrian crisis would be over within two months and that the new Syrian coalition would assume power.

Focusing on the peril of nuclear weapons at this time is reminiscent of the rabid US campaign that preceded the US invasion of Iraq.

The chief difference between the two cases is that Iraq had no such weapons, something the United States was aware of, whereas Jihad al-Maqdisi, the spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, who recently defected, has officially admitted to the existence of such weapons in Syria.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will chair a meeting of the Friends of Syria in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh next week, said there were two possibilities regarding the Syrian chemical weapons: First, the Syrian regime may use them if it reaches a state of despair or, second, if it loses control over these weapons, and thus fall into the hands of extremist Islamic groups.

The Syrian regime stressed through Jihad al-Magdisi before his defection that it would not use such weapons against its own people, but would use them should Syria come under foreign aggression. This may explain the current growing US and Israeli concern about these weapons.

I do not believe that the United States, or all the Arab countries that support US policy in the region, have any concern about or fear for the Syrian people. After all, the Syrian regime committed a massacre in Hamah in 1981, a massacre that Washington did not condemn or withdraw its ambassador from Damascus in protest even though that massacre left more than 30,000 people dead. Likewise, Washington kept silent on the Syrian regime’s dictatorship and violations of human rights for more than 40 years.

What concerns the United States first and foremost is Israel. What the United States really fears is the possibility of these weapons being used against Israelis whether by the regime in a state of despair, which cannot be ruled out, or by the currently militarily stronger jihadist groups in the Syrian territories. When jihadist groups fight against a common enemy like the Syrian regime, this fight would be commendable, but after toppling the Syrian regime, as happened in Libya and earlier in Afghanistan, the Americans’ new enemy would be these very groups.

Overthrowing the regime in Syria has absolutely nothing to do with democracy and human rights, but with the Iranian nuclear programme. This does not mean that the Syrian people’s demands for democratic change are not legitimate. These legitimate demands have been and are being exploited and used by the United States, Europe, and Arabs to shatter Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

US military intervention in Syria is under preparation, awaiting a green light from the White House. The “Eager Lion” manoeuvres, in Jordan, in which 19 countries participated in an area near Syria’s southeast border, included training on ways of fighting in war circumstances in which chemical weapons would be used.

The question is: Will military intervention take place end of this year? Or will it wait for a declaration of war against Iran in the coming spring at the most?

There are two assumptions: First, the Syrian chemical weapons may be seized before a US-Israeli carpet bombing of Iran to prevent the Syrian regime from using them against Israel, should it reach a state of despair; the second assumption envisions that the United States and Israel are more likely to wait for a major offensive that will target Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and perhaps the Islamic resistance movements in the Gaza Strip.

Turkey’s request for the installation of patriot missiles on its border with Syria has absolutely nothing to do with fear from the Syrian regime or its aircraft and rockets. The Syrian regime is exhausted and its forces are losing ground while the opposition forces are mounting attacks in the proximity of Damascus, just a few kilometres from the Republican Palace. Turkey’s request for Patriot missiles has to do with an imminent war against Iran.

We have learned from previous experience that there are two key indicators for impending wars in our region: First, exaggerated talk about Arab weapons of mass destruction and, second, US-European interest in Arab-Israeli peace.

The sudden US-European protest of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to build 3,000 housing units in occupied Jerusalem and their summoning of the Israeli ambassadors in the Western capitals to protest this step are an exposed theatrical move to cover up the imminent military intervention and to deceive some naive Arabs. This happened during the era of former US President George Bush senior when in 1991 he called for convening the Madrid peace conference to justify the later destruction of Iraq under the label of liberating Kuwait. Similarly, former President Bush junior did the same thing, pledging that a Palestinian state would be created in 2005, he made this pledge prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003.

Settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories has continued for the past 60 years, but Washington never moved a finger to stop it. Nor did it impose any sanctions against Israel, and absolutely never summoned any Israeli ambassador in protest. So why the current spineless anger against Israel’s settlement construction, anger that involves no sanctions.

The Syrian chemical weapons were obtained to serve as deterrence against nuclear Israel, not to be used against the Syrian people or any other people. If the Syrian regime really uses such weapons against its people, something we doubt and strongly oppose, it would deserve any potential consequences. These are Syrian Arab weapons and must remain in Syrian hands. Neither the United States nor any other country has a right to seize or destroy them, as happened to Iraqi weapons, unless all weapons of mass destruction –biological and nuclear — in the Israeli military arsenal are destroyed.

Related

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  • There is no hypocrisy or silence in Stop the War’s stance on Syria
  • Western intervention in Syria will impose a semi-puppet regime on the Libya model
  • Learning nothing from Afghanistan, the West supports Islamist fighters in Syria
  • The big lie about Syria’s chemical weapons: won’t get fooled again?

    09 December 2012
    Robert Fisk & Alex Thomson
    Syria

    All the usual pseudo-experts who couldn’t find Syria on a map have been warning us again of the mustard gas, chemical agents, biological agents that Syria might possess – and might use.


    Robert Fisk The Independent
    Alex Thomson Channel 4 News
    8 December 2012


    Alex Thomson, Channel 4 News: Cooked-up WMD ‘evidence’.

    THE BIGGER THE LIE the more people will believe it. We all know who said that – but it still works. Bashar al-Assad has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own Syrian people. If he does, the West will respond.

    We heard all this stuff last year – and Assad’s regime repeatedly said that if – if – it had chemical weapons, it would never use them against Syrians.

    But now Washington is playing the same gas-chanty all over again.

    Bashar has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own people. And if he does…

    Well if he does, Obama and Madame Clinton and Nato will be very, very angry. But over the past week, all the usual pseudo-experts who couldn’t find Syria on a map have been warning us again of the mustard gas, chemical agents, biological agents that Syria might possess – and might use.

    And the sources? The same fantasy specialists who didn’t warn us about 9/11 but insisted that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in 2003: “unnamed military intelligence sources”. Henceforth to be acronymed as UMIS.

    And now, the coup de théâtre. Someone from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called me up this week to talk about the use of chemical weapons by Hafez al-Assad in Hama during the Sunni Muslim uprising in the city in 1982. Their sources were the same old UMIS. But I happened to have got into Hama in February 1982 – which is why the Canadian was calling me – and while Hafez’s Syrian army was very definitely slaughtering its own people (who were, by the way, slaughtering regime officials and their families), no one ever used chemical weapons.

    Not a single soldier I saw in Hama carried a gas mask. No civilians carried gas masks. The dangerously perfumed air which I and my colleagues smelt after chemicals were used by our (then) ally Saddam against Iranian soldiers in the 1980s was not present. And none of the dozens of civilian survivors I have interviewed in the 30 years since 1982 ever mentioned the use of gas.

    But now we are to believe that it was used. And so the infantile new fairy tale has begun: Hafez al-Assad used gas against his own people in Hama 30 years ago. So his son Bashar may do the same again. And wasn’t that one of the reasons we invaded Iraq in 2003 – because Saddam had used gas against his own people already and may do so again?

    Yes, the bigger the lie, the better. Certainly we journos have done our duty in disseminating this bunkum. And Bashar – whose forces have committed quite enough iniquities – is about to be accused of another crime which he has not yet committed and which his father never did commit. Yup, chemical weapons are bad news, folks. That’s why the US supplied Saddam with the components for them, along with Germany (of course).

    That’s why, when Saddam first used gas on Halabja, the UMIS told CIA officers to blame Iran. And yes, Bashar probably does have some chemicals in rusting bins somewhere in Syria. Madame Clinton has been worrying that they may “fall into the wrong hands” – as if they are presently “in the right hands”. But the Russians have told Bashar not to use them. Would he piss off his only superpower ally?

    And by the way, which was the first army to use gas in the Middle East? Saddam? Nope. The Brits, of course, under General Allenby, against the Turks in Sinai in 1917. And that’s the truth.


    Won’t get fooled again?

    By Alex Thomson, Channel 4 NewsWe need to remind ourselves in the UK that we won’t get fooled again.

    Once more, weapons of mass destruction could become weapons of mass deception at screaming high volume these past few days. From the western media who, in the heated atmosphere pre-Iraq and under pressure from Bush and Blair, brought us the Baghdad WMD story, now we have the “Damascus chemical weapons threat”.

    William Hague has said any use of chemical weapons would invite an immediate western military response. The Americans too.

    The US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said : “The president of the United States has made very clear that there will be consequences. There will be consequences if the Assad regime makes a terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their (sic) own people.”

    And the president: “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised. That would change my calculus.” Well, that was Obama back in August, and recent days have only ramped up the bottom line: you use chemical weapons – we bomb you.

    But just to be old fashioned: what’s the evidence of any threat? What’s the basis for all this? What, in short, are they all talking about? Yes, by all accounts Syria has nerve and chemical agents. But possession does not mean threat of use. Israel is not credibly threatening to use nuclear weapons against Iran, despite possessing them.

    Equally, as yet there simply is little credible evidence Syria is threatening to use chemical or nerve agents against its own people. Finally, after days of evidence-free rhetoric from the US government and their ever-obedient Westminster franchise, it was left to UN boss Sec-Gen Ban Ki Moon to point out that there is, as yet, no confirmation that Syria is preparing to use them.

    “Recently we have been receiving alarming news that the Syrian government may be preparing to use chemical weapons. We have no confirmed reports on this matter,” Ban said after visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey. Vague US “intelligence reports” are routinely and often unquestioningly trotted out in US papers as the basis for Obama, Panetta and Clinton wagging their fingers at Damascus.

    This then gets taken up elsewhere, and the story built upon nothing is soon accepted as global fact when it’s nothing of the kind. After Iraq and WMD, if the CIA or MI6 say it’s cold at the north pole, any sensible person would seek at least a couple more sources or would fly there and check. So they should look to produce the evidence that Syria has begun mixing chemicals as a preparation for use (and thus an excuse for the west to consider bombing) or perhaps stop theregular calls for it to be stopped.

    We should question why, and why now, there is suddenly a supposed chemical weapons “threat”? Where’s the proof? What is the evidence? The past should be a lesson to us all.

    http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/syria/2114-why-western-military-intervention-in-syria-is-coming-soon-to-protect-israel

It may well turn out that the victor of the elections, six weeks from now, will be Avigdor Lieberman, the man of the cold revenge. And that will be the beginning of a new chapter altogether.

 

 

Cold Revenge

08/12/12

“Revenge is a dish that is best eaten cold,” is a saying attributed to Stalin. I don’t know if he really said that. All the possible witnesses were executed long ago.

Anyhow, a taste for delayed revenge is not an Israeli trait. Israelis are more impulsive. More immediate. They don’t plan. They improvise.

In this respect, too, Avigdor Lieberman is not Israeli. He is Russian.

WHEN “IVET”, as he is called in Russian, selected his Knesset faction four years ago, he acted, as always, according to his mood of the moment. No nonsense about democracy, primaries and such. There is a leader, and the leader decides.

There was this very beautiful young woman from St. Petersburg, Anastassia Michaeli. Not very bright, perhaps, but good to look at during boring Knesset sessions.

Then there was this nice man with the very Russian name, Stas Misezhnikov, which no Israeli can pronounce. He is popular among the Russian immigrants. Davay, let’s take him.

And this Israeli diplomat, Danny Ayalon, may be useful if I become Foreign Secretary.

But moods pass, and people elected stay elected for four years.

The beauty turned out to be a bully, in addition to being stupid. In a public Knesset committee meeting, she stood up and poured a glass of water over an Arab member. On another occasion, she physically attacked a female Arab member on the Knesset rostrum.

The nice Russian man was rather too nice. He regularly got drunk and organized parties for his mistress abroad, expenses paid by his ministry. Even his bodyguards complained.

And the diplomat trumped the lot, when he invited journalists to witness his humiliation of the Turkish ambassador, putting him on a very low seat during a meeting. This led on to the famous Turkish Flotilla incident and did – is still doing – incalculable damage to Israel’s strategic interests. Also, Ayalon was a compulsive leaker.

Lieberman did not react to all this. He defended his people and criticized their critics, who were anyhow leftist trash.

But now has come the time to appoint Lieberman’s faction to the next Knesset, again without democratic nonsense. To their utter consternation, the three were dismissed with five minutes’ notice. All without any display of emotion. Cold. Cold.

Don’t mess with the likes of Lieberman. Any more than with Vladimir Putin and Co.

IF I were Binyamin Netanyahu, I would not worry about Abbas, Ahmadinejad, Obama, Morsi and the combined opposition in the Knesset. All I would worry about would be Lieberman, somewhere behind my back. I would worry very, very much. Every minute, every second.

Two weeks ago, two fateful things happened that may hasten the political demise of “King Bibi”. One was not of his making, the other was.

In the Likud primaries, dominated by ugly deal-making and manipulations, a new Knesset faction was selected that was almost exclusively composed of extreme rightists, including outright fascists, many of them settlers and their appointees. Against Netanyahu’s wishes, all the moderate rightists were unceremoniously booted out.

Netanyahu is, of course, an extreme rightist himself. But he likes to pose as a moderate, responsible, mature statesman. The moderates served as his alibi.

The new Likud has nothing to do with the original “revisionist” party that was its forerunner. The founder of the party some 85 years ago, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, an Odessa-born and Italian-educated journalist and poet, was an extreme nationalist and very liberal democrat. He invented a special Hebrew word (“Hadar”) for the ideal Jew he envisioned: just, honest, decent, a hard fighter for his ideals but also magnanimous and generous towards his adversaries.

If Jabotinsky could view his latest heirs, he would be revolted. (He once advised Menachem Begin, one of his pupils, to jump into the river Vistula if he did not believe in the conscience of mankind.)

JUST BEFORE the Likud primaries, Netanyahu did something incredible: he made an agreement with Lieberman to combine their two election lists.

Why? His election victory already seemed assured. But Netanyahu is a compulsive tactician without a strategy. He is also a coward. He wants to play safe. With Lieberman, his majority is as sound as Fort Knox.

But what is going to happen within the fortress?

Lieberman, now No. 2, will pick for himself the most important and powerful ministry: defense. He will wait patiently, like a hunter for his prey. The joint faction will be much closer in spirit to Lieberman than to Netanyahu. Lieberman, the cold calculator, will wait until Netanyahu is compelled by international pressure to make some concessions to the Palestinians. Then he will pounce.

This week we saw the prelude. After the UN overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a state, Netanyahu “retaliated” by announcing his plan to build 3000 new homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, the inevitable future capital of Palestine.

He emphasized his determination to fill up the area called E1, the still empty space between West Jerusalem and the giant settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim (which alone has a municipal area larger than Tel Aviv). This would in effect cut off the northern West Bank from the southern part, apart from a narrow bottleneck near Jericho.

World reaction was stronger than ever before. Undoubtedly encouraged behind the scenes by President Obama, the European countries summoned Lieberman’s ambassadors to protest the move. (Obama himself is far too cowardly to do so himself.) Angela Merkel, usually a mat under Netanyahu’s feet, warned him that Israel risked being totally isolated.

If Merkel thinks that this would intimidate Netanyahu or the Israelis at large, she is vastly mistaken. Israelis actually welcome isolation. Not because it is “splendid”, as the British used to think, but because it confirms again that the entire world is anti-Semitic, and not to be trusted. So, to hell with them.

WHAT ABOUT the other parties? I almost asked: what parties?

In Israeli politics, with their dozens of parties, what really count are the two blocs: the rightist-religious and the…well, the other one.

There is no “leftist” bloc in Israel. Leftism is now, like Oscar Wilde’s homosexuality, “the love that dares not speak its name”. Instead, everybody claims now to be “in the center”.

A seemingly small matter aroused much attention this week. Shelly Yachimovich’s Labor party has terminated its long-standing “spare votes” agreement with Meretz, and made a new one with Ya’ir Lapid’s “There is a Future”.

In the Israeli electoral system, which is strictly proportional, great care is taken that no vote is wasted. Therefore, two election lists can make a deal in advance to combine the leftover votes that remain to them after the allocation of the seats, so that one of them can obtain another. In certain situations, this additional seat can be decisive in the final division between the two major blocs.

Labor and Meretz had a natural alliance. Both were socialist. You could vote for Labor and still be satisfied that your vote may end up helping another Meretz member to get elected. Displacing this arrangement with one with another party is meaningful – especially if the other is a hollow list, devoid of serious ideas, eager to join Netanyahu’s government.

By representing nothing but the personal charm of Lapid, this party may garner some eight seats. The same goes for Tzipi Livni’s brand-new “the Movement”, cobbled together at the last moment.

Meretz is a loyal old party, saying all the right things, unblemished by corruption. Unfortunately it has the lackluster charisma of an old kettle. No exciting new faces, in an age where faces count more than ideas.

The communists are considered an “Arab” party, though they do have a Jewish candidate. Like the other two “Arab” parties, they have little clout, especially since about half the Arab citizens don’t vote at all, out of indifference or disgust.

That leaves Labor. Yachimovich has succeeded in raising her party from the half-dead and imbued it with new life. Fresh new faces enliven the election list, though some of the candidates don’t speak with each other. In the last few hours, Amir Peretz, the former Minister of Defense, left Shelly for Tzipi.

But is this the new opposition? Not if it concerns little matters like peace (a word not to be mentioned), the huge military budget (ditto), the occupation, the settlers ( Shelly likes them), the Orthodox ( Shelly likes them, too). Under pressure, Shelly concedes that she is “for the two-state solution”, but in today’s Israel that means next to nothing. More importantly, she categorically refuses to undertake not to join a Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition.

It may well turn out that the victor of the elections, six weeks from now, will be Avigdor Lieberman, the man of the cold revenge. And that will be the beginning of a new chapter altogether.

http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/index.html

 

Veteran journalist Charles Glass joins us to discuss his recent trip to Syria and its largest city, Aleppo. Addressing U.S.-led warnings that the Assad regime could deploy chemical warfare, Glass says: “I think it’s pretty clear that the Syrians have never used chemical weapons, that there is no advantage to them to use chemical weapons. The areas where there is fighting are areas where people who support them are living, and their own soldiers would themselves be vulnerable to inhaling chemical gases. … It sounds to me pretty much like the propaganda that was used prior to the invasion of Iraq, where the chemical weapons were held up as an excuse to bring about Western intervention, ultimately, when it wasn’t true.” A former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent, Glass’s book on Syria, “Tribes With Flags,” was reissued this year.

Syria-2

Charles Glass on Syria’s Mutual Destruction and the Unconvincing Fears of Assad’s Chemical Weapons

Veteran journalist Charles Glass joins us to discuss his recent trip to Syria and its largest city, Aleppo. Addressing U.S.-led warnings that the Assad regime could deploy chemical warfare, Glass says: “I think it’s pretty clear that the Syrians have never used chemical weapons, that there is no advantage to them to use chemical weapons. The areas where there is fighting are areas where people who support them are living, and their own soldiers would themselves be vulnerable to inhaling chemical gases. … It sounds to me pretty much like the propaganda that was used prior to the invasion of Iraq, where the chemical weapons were held up as an excuse to bring about Western intervention, ultimately, when it wasn’t true.” A former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent, Glass’s book on Syria, “Tribes With Flags,” was reissued this year. [includes rush transcript]

Filed under  Syria, Charles Glass
Guest:

Charles Glass, former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent. His book on Syria, Tribes With Flags, was reissued this year. His most recent article for The New York Review of Books is called “Aleppo: How Syria Is Being Destroyed.”

Rush Transcript

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Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. And a shout out to the interns of The Nation magazine, who have come to watch the broadcast of Democracy Now! today. And speaking of Nation interns, last night on the plane back from Oslo, Norway, covering the Nobel Peace Prize, I was on the plane with the British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who was representing Britain at the Nobel Peace Prize. I asked him, “How does being an intern at The Nation,” which he was, “prepare you to be deputy prime minister of Britain?” And he said he wouldn’t hold a news conference on the plane.

Well, we turn now to the ongoing crisis in Syria, where rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad are seeking recognition ahead of a meeting with U.S. and European Union officials tomorrow in Morocco. The meeting comes as the United States has raised concerns that radical Islamists associated with al-Qaeda are flocking to the country and that Assad’s regime may be preparing to use chemical weapons. On Monday, the U.S. added the Syrian rebel group al-Nusra Front to its global terrorist list as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Britain’s military chiefs have drawn up plans to provide Syrian rebels with maritime and possibly air power, but say they will only act if the United States also intervenes. European Union foreign ministers met Monday with the head of the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition, which could be recognized as the legitimate replacement for President al-Assad. This is EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

CATHERINE ASHTON: It’s important that there has to be a political process alongside everything else. You know, you have to get from here to the position where you have an inclusive and chosen government in Syria that the people can all feel proud of. And that’s really important. So you do need a political process.

AMY GOODMAN: After the talks, the European Commission announced it would provide another 30 million euros in humanitarian aid to help people affected by the Syrian crisis. At least half-a-million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries since fighting began. Meanwhile, Syrian regime ally, Russia, said Monday plans for Syria’s political future must not be forced on it from outside. More than 42,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President al-Assad began last March, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

For more, we’re joined by journalist Charles Glass, former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent. And his book on Syria, Tribes With Flags, was reissued this year. His most recent piece for The New York Review of Books is called “Aleppo: How Syria Is Being Destroyed.”

Charles Glass, welcome to Democracy Now! Welcome back. If you could start off with this piece, with your recent visit to Damascus and Aleppo, focusing on Aleppo, the significance of the city in what is taking place in Syria right now?

CHARLES GLASS: Aleppo is the economic center of Syria. It probably is responsible for 65 percent of the economic activity of the whole country, if you take away—if you take the oil sector apart. It’s where most of the things are made. It’s where the big pharmaceutical companies in Syria manufacture their products. It’s where furniture is made. It’s where the electronics, such as it is, electronics industry is, where the artisans are. It’s also a cultural capital of Syria. It claims, as Damascus does, to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It was the cradle of the rebellion of 1979 against the Assad regime. But it is a city that is, in and of itself, now divided between those who want the regime to remain and those who want to destroy the regime, with a large number of people in the middle who would rather see both sides go away and see the war end so they can resume their lives.

AMY GOODMAN: When this latest news that I’ve just been a sharing around the—around Syria—I wanted to go to an exclusive report on Monday. The U.K.’s Independent newspaper suggested Western powers are negotiating some form of military intervention in Syria. The paper reports, quote, “A plan to provide military training to the Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime and support them with air and naval power is being drawn up by an international coalition including Britain.”

Charles Glass—we wanted to get a comment from Charles Glass. We’ve just lost him. So we’re going to bring him back on the video stream. But let’s go to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said on Sunday his country is not holding any talks on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

SERGEY LAVROV: [translated] You can demand Assad’s resignation forever, but the war is continuing. And our American colleagues—we met with Hillary Clinton in Dublin three days ago, as well as with the U.N. and Arab League special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who acts as a mediator in the Syrian conflict—they offered that we hold a special expert meeting on the deputy foreign minister’s level, along with Lakhdar Brahimi, for a brainstorming session. We said we would be ready, under one condition: that the basis of such brainstorming sessions will be formed by the Geneva document without any additions, without any ultimatums, without any preconditions, like President Assad’s resignation.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The latest that is coming out of Syria right now, Charles Glass, including the significance of the U.S. calling the Syrian rebel group al-Nusra Front a terrorist organization, an alias for al-Qaeda in Iraq, and how the European countries and the European Union, the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is organizing right now?

CHARLES GLASS: Well, there are many Islamist Salafist groups in Syria who have come from neighboring countries to take part in the Syrian revolution in the hope of overthrowing what they see as a heretical Alawite regime and replacing it with a strict Sunni regime. That’s their goal, and they are in the forefront of some of the fighting. And they are the best—probably the best armed and best trained and most experienced fighters on the rebel side in Syria.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does it mean for the U.S. to put al-Nusra Front on the terrorist list? And the preparations for—do you see a kind of united European, possibly U.S., involvement in any kind of intervention?

CHARLES GLASS: Well, clearly, the British and the French would like to intervene but can’t do so without the United States, as happened in Libya. But they have their own people on the ground on the borders of Syria training some of the non-Salafist groups, while the Saudis and the Qataris are helping the Salafist groups. And they would like—they want very much to intervene to get rid of the Assad regime and have some influence on the opposition that would ultimately take power if it succeeds. But I think, in fact, given that the regime is as strong as it is and the opposition is as divided as it is, and some of the opposition being absolute anathema to Western countries, it’s likely that this will simply help the fighting to go on and on and destroy more of Syria in the process.

AMY GOODMAN: As talks approach to determine the European Union’s recognition of the Syrian opposition, EU foreign ministers have urged the Syrian National Council to uphold human rights. This is British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

WILLIAM HAGUE: I have urged him once again to make very clear the commitment of the national coalition to all the things the Assad regime is not committed to—to human rights, to international humanitarian law, to democracy and freedom for the people of Syria. And I believe they will do that, clearly, at the Marrakech meeting.

AMY GOODMAN: The implications of the EU, Charles Glass, potentially recognizing the Syrian National Council as the official opposition in its Marrakech meeting?

CHARLES GLASS: I think you mean the Syrian National Coalition, of which the Syrian National Council is a small part. The Syrian National Coalition has been recognized by much of the groups that are—they call themselves the “Friends of Syria,” including the United States. This is meant to be an umbrella group that embraces just about everyone. However, the fighting forces on the ground refuse to recognize it, from—basically from the day that it was announced in Qatar. So it’s not—it’s not having much influence on the ground. It’s going to be seen, I assume, as another exile group without strong roots in the country, which often happens when the West decides to use people to intervene in a third-world country.

AMY GOODMAN: In your interviews that you did in Syria, one of the people you spoke to allowed you to use his name, is Zaidoun al-Zoabi, professor at the Arab European University in Damascus. Talk about his assessment of the situation today.

CHARLES GLASS: Well, he and many of his colleagues, who were at the forefront of the peaceful demonstrations at the beginning of the rebellion in 2011, are in despair at the way the opposition has become purely violent, and that those who were willing to risk of being tortured and arrested and having their families arrested and being shot at in the streets, willing to risk all that, against a regime that is so powerfully armed that it could not be easily defeated without bringing destruction to the entire country. So they—they still try to have peaceful demonstrations, which the regime controls and puts down, but they’re not—they see that their tactics have become irrelevant, because what is going on now is a civil war, in which neither side is winning, in which the great majority of the population is suffering to no benefit.

AMY GOODMAN: And the U.S. talking about chemical weapons that Bashar al-Assad could use, warning him not to, what do you make of this being raised? Do you think this is a real threat?

CHARLES GLASS: I think it’s pretty clear that the Syrians have never used chemical weapons, that there is no advantage to them to use chemical weapons. The areas where there is fighting are areas where people who support them are living, and their own soldiers would themselves be vulnerable to inhaling chemical gases. There is absolutely no advantage to the regime to do it. It sounds to me pretty much like the propaganda that was used prior to the invasion of Iraq, where the chemical weapons were held up as an excuse to bring about Western intervention, ultimately, when it wasn’t true.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think President Bashar al-Assad will ultimately step down?

CHARLES GLASS: I think whether it happens peacefully through a transition—I mean, if there can be discussions sponsored by the United States and Russia to bring about a peaceful transition that would allow him to save face and step down at the end of his term in 2014, that would be a positive outcome for the country, or he may be overthrown sooner through violence. Ultimately, I suspect that he won’t be able to survive.

AMY GOODMAN: Charles Glass, I want to thank you very much for being with us from Britain, former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent. His piece in The New York Review of Books, we’ll link to, “Aleppo: How Syria Is Being Destroyed.”

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/11/charles_glass_on_syrias_mutual_destruction

Zbigniew Brzeziński: With the new chances of massinformation and communication the political awarness will grow globally. People will not accept anymore dominance by elites or USA. And if a movement is carried out by the common people there will be no chance to held it down!

“Global Trends”- CIA: Asia will as before be the center of economich development – Europa and US will losse their postions. Middleclass will be soon most important globally, but consume more and more, which will be a big problem for environment!

GT2030 Blog Posts

A Snapshot of the Global Trends 2030 Report

Dan Twining & Ash Jain Moderated – What is the impact of the rise of the rest on the liberal international order: End of the Western world?

Bill Burke-White Moderated – What Will be the Shape of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2030? 

Thomas Mahnken Moderated – Will China’s economic growth stall out?  What will be the impact on the global economy?

Zachary Riskind – Can China Avoid the “Middle Income Trap” without Political Reform?

Peter Feaver Moderated with Ionut Popescu & Seth Cantey – What Will be the US Role in a Multipolar International System?

Jackie Newmyer Deal Moderated – How will the security environment of 2030 be affected by the proliferation of advanced technologies to a variety of smaller regional actors and even non-state actors?

Steve Weber Moderated – How Will Employment Change with the Expansion of New Technologies—like Robotics—in Manufacturing?  Will We See a New Unemployable Underclass?

Robert O. Moderated – Future trajectories of migration and issues policy makers will face.

Drew Erdmann Moderated – Urbanization Dynamics and Challenges

William Inboden Moderated – American Decline

Richard Cincotta Moderated – Will Aging Cripple the West?  Will It Cripple China’s Development?

Ralph Espach is Moderated – Brazil’s Future Role in the International System

Allan Dafoe Moderated – Will the Long Peace Persist?

Richard Engel (from the National Intelligence Council) Posted – Climate Change 2030: More Extreme Weather

Howard Passell Moderated – Will Mega-Cities be a Cauldron for Revolution or Be an Engine for Technological Revolutions?

Cung Vu Moderated – Will Shale Gas Give a Second Burst to US Manufacturing? 

http://gt2030.com/

 

More journalists are held in the world’s jails than ever before – As the graph above shows, 232 individuals were identified as being behind bars on 1 December. Turkey, the world’s worst jailer of journalists Turkey has 49 journalists behind bars, with dozens of Kurdish reporters and editors held on terror-related charges. A number of other journalists are detained on charges of involvement in anti-government plots. Saudi Arabia: columnist faces death penalty Saudi Arabia also has four journalists in jail. One of them, newspaper columnist Hamza Kashgari, faces a potential death penalty on religious insult charges stemming from Twitter postings that described a fanciful conversation with the Prophet Muhammad.

More journalists are held in the world’s jails than ever before

preThe imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, according to research carried out by the New York-based press freedom watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

As the graph above shows, 232 individuals were identified as being behind bars on 1 December, an increase of 53 over the 2011 total.

Large-scale imprisonments in TurkeyIran, and China lifted the global tally to its highest point since CPJ began conducting worldwide surveys in 1990, surpassing the previous record of 185 in 1996.

All three nations – the world’s worst jailers of the press – each made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views, including those expressed by ethnic minorities.

Overall, anti-state charges such as terrorism, treason, and subversion were the most common allegations brought against journalists in 2012. At least 132 journalists were being held around the world on such charges.

Eritrea and Syria also ranked among the world’s worst, each jailing numerous journalists without charge or due process and holding them in secret prisons without access to lawyers or family members. In total, 63 journalists are being held without any publicly disclosed charge.

Here, country by country, are the 10 worst jailers…

Turkey, the world’s worst jailer of journalists

Turkey has 49 journalists behind bars, with dozens of Kurdish reporters and editors held on terror-related charges. A number of other journalists are detained on charges of involvement in anti-government plots.

In 2012, CPJ conducted an extensive review of imprisonments in Turkey and found that broadly worded anti-terror and penal code statutes have allowed the authorities to conflate the coverage of banned groups and the investigation of sensitive topics with outright terrorism or other anti-state activity.

These statutes “make no distinction between journalists exercising freedom of expression and [individuals] aiding terrorism,” said Mehmet Ali Birand, an editor with the Istanbul-based station Kanal D. He calls the use of anti-state laws against journalists a “national disease.”

Birand said “the government does not differentiate between these two major things: freedom of expression and terrorism.”

Iran, the second-worst jailer

Iran has 45 journalists behind bars following a sustained a crackdown that began after the disputed 2009 presidential election. The authorities have followed a pattern of freeing some detainees on six-figure bonds even as they make new arrests.

The imprisoned include Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, an award-winning editor of the Iranian Women’s Club, a news website focusing on women’s issues. She began serving a one-year term in September on charges of “propagating against the regime” and “insulting the president” for articles she wrote during the 2009 election. Her husband, journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, is serving a five-year prison term on anti-state charges.

China, the third-worst jailer

China has made extensive use of anti-state charges to jail online writers expressing dissident political views and journalists covering ethnic minority groups. Nineteen of the 32 journalists held in China are Tibetans or Uighurs imprisoned for documenting ethnic tensions that escalated in 2008.

The detainees include Dhondup Wangchen, a documentary filmmaker jailed after interviewing Tibetans about their lives under Chinese rule. CPJ honoured Wangchen with one of its 2012 International Press Freedom Awards.

“Journalists who report on areas deemed ‘most sensitive’ by the state—China’s troubled ethnic regions of Tibet and Xinjiang—are most vulnerable,” said Phelim Kine, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.

“Journalists living and working in those areas are not just concerned with the red lines set by the state for all journalists but also the shifting gray lines, where the Chinese government’s security footing is at an ongoing, all-time high.”

Eritrea: journalists arrested without charge

Eritrea, with 28 journalists in detention, is the fourth-highest jailer. No Eritrean detainee has ever been publicly charged with a crime or brought before a court for trial.

President Isaias Afwerki’s government has refused to account for the whereabouts, legal status, or health of the jailed journalists, or even confirm reports that as many as five have died in custody due to inhumane treatment.

“If you write anything contrary to what the state says, you end up in prison,” said Bealfan Tesfay, who worked as a reporter and editor for a number of Eritrean state media outlets before fleeing the country.

Syria: detainees held incommunicado

At least 15 journalists are held by President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities, making the country the fifth-worst jailer. None of the detainees have been charged with a crime, and the authorities have been unwilling to account for the detainees’ whereabouts or well-being.

Among those being held incommunicado is thought to be Austin Tice, a US freelancer who was reporting for the Washington Post and several other news outlets. “As the uprising became more militarised, there was a greater risk of getting picked up,” said Rania Abouzeid, a Beirut-based correspondent for Time magazine.

Vietnam: cracking down on bloggers

With 14 journalists behind bars, Vietnam was the sixth-worst jailer of the press. In each of the past several years, Vietnamese authorities have ramped up their crackdown on critical journalists, focusing heavily on those who work online.

All but one of the reporters imprisoned in 2012 published blogs or contributed to online news publications. And all but one were held on anti-state charges related to articles on politically sensitive topics such as the country’s relations with China and its treatment of the Catholic community.

Azerbaijan: user of fabricated charges

Azerbaijan, the world’s seventh-worst jailer, viciously cracked down on domestic dissent while hosting two major international events – the Eurovision 2012 song contest and the Internet Governance Forum.

The authorities imprisoned at least nine critical journalists on a variety of retaliatory charges, including hooliganism, drug possession, and extortion. CPJ concluded that the charges were fabricated in reprisal for the journalists’ work.

Ethiopia: ‘journalism is criminalised’

With six journalists in prison, Ethiopia was the eighth-worst jailer in the world. The authorities broadened the scope of the country’s anti-terror law in 2009, criminalising the coverage of any group the government deems to be terrorist, a list that includes opposition political parties.

Among those jailed is Eskinder Nega, an award-winning blogger whose critical commentary on the government’s extensive use of anti-terror laws led to his own conviction on terrorism charges.

“Basically, they are criminalising journalism,” said Martin Schibbye, a Swedish freelance journalist who was jailed along with a colleague, Johan Persson, for more than 14 months in Ethiopia.

They were convicted of terrorism charges because they had travelled with a separatist group as part of research for a story.

Uzbekistan: two have spent 13 years in prison

Uzbekistan has four journalists in jail. They include Muhammad Bekjanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov – the two longest-imprisoned journalists on CPJ’s survey – who were jailed in 1999 for publishing a banned newspaper.

Saudi Arabia: columnist faces death penalty

Saudi Arabia also has four journalists in jail. One of them, newspaper columnist Hamza Kashgari, faces a potential death penalty on religious insult charges stemming from Twitter postings that described a fanciful conversation with the Prophet Muhammad.

One imprisoned journalist, Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti, died in custody. He was arrested in October on charges of “acting against national security.” Fellow prisoners said Beheshti, was beaten during interrogation and suspended from the ceiling.

Now for the good news…

For the first time since 1996, Burma is not among the nations jailing journalists. As part of the country’s transition to civilian rule, the authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists in a series of pardons over the past year.

NB: CPJ’s list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01am on 1 December 2012. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year. And journalists who either disappear or are abducted by non-state entities, such as criminal gangs or militant groups, are not included in the census.

Source: CPJ

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/dec/11/journalist-safety-press-freedom