NASA’s timelapse images of Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Time-lapse video of the devastating Gulf region oil spill. The images are from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Satellite Timelapse April 20 – May 24 2010

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 25.6.10

Across the West Bank, Friday was a day of protest against Israel’s blood diamonds, which are harvested while infringing on human rights in African countries and then polished in apartheid Israel and then exported. The diamond trade accounts for 30% of Israel’s total manufacturing exports:

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Let them have F-16s

A poverty-stricken Pakistani woman and her child wait in an impoverished locality of Khori Garden for free distribution of food items at the same place where earlier a stampede killed 20 women and children queuing for food handouts in an impoverished district of financial capital Karachi. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

On June 16, in Lahore, a rickshaw driver, his wife, and three children took poison, driven to despair by extreme poverty. Only the wife survived. On June 17, another young man committed suicide pushed over the edge by poverty and unemployment. On June 18, the Pakistani information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira advised people who are killing their children because of dire poverty to instead hand them over to the Baitul Mal (the Islamic treasury which serves as a social support system). Today in Raheem Yar Khan, a woman in her early thirties jumped in front of an approaching train along with her three children, ages 2 to 7. All died on the spot…

In related news, Pakistan received a shipment of the first three of its order of 18 new F-16 fighter jets from the United States. It has also received over $10 billion in military aid since 2002. It’s to keep Pakistanis safe, you see.

The Bhopal Disaster: an ongoing tragedy

by Saffi Ullah Ahmad

Recent talk surrounding BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico due to corporate negligence has drawn light on the Exxon Valdez disaster and one which devastated one of India’s poorest regions with its effects still very much raw and constantly ignored by the US media. Obama’s anti-BP rhetoric has spurred many of those affected by this disaster to point out Western double standards.

The old plant (Photo: Christian Saltas)

Twenty five years after the world’s biggest industrial disaster, Union Carbide’s old pesticide factory remains untouched, haunting the crowded city of Bhopal, a constant reminder of the region’s darkest night.

On the night of 3 December 1984 the lethal gas methyl isocyanate (MIC) alongside other noxious fumes, engulfed the city of Bhopal and killed thousands. It is thought that the disaster has claimed 25,000 lives thus far, and adversely affected over 500,00. Gross negligence by Union Carbide is widely viewed as the cause of the tragedy.

Earlier last week, after a quarter century of waiting and sloppy, almost reluctant court action, lamentable sentences were passed down to seven Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) officials. Sentences of two years were administered to some of those presiding over the corporation when the tragedy occurred; a small group of incredibly wealthy Indian men, all in their 70’s, one of whom is a billionaire, and none of whom are expected to serve their sentences. In addition to the sentencing, each of the seven men were fined a paltry £1400, an amount which would barely pays for the yearly healthcare of one of the victims, let alone serves as meaningful punishment for this appalling crime.

These convictions are so far the only to have materialised in a case that was opened the day after the tragedy in 1984. Those ultimately responsible for the tragedy, namely the corporation’s CEO and equally negligent Western officials, remain unpunished.

Survivors and campaigners have been outraged, calling last week’s decision an ‘insult’. However, as we are about to see, this is only the most recent of a long history of insults.

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Blockade ‘eased’ as Gaza starves more slowly

‘Let Them Eat Coriander!’

by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

As Israel this week declared the “easing” of the four-year blockade of Gaza, an official explained the new guiding principle: “Civilian goods for civilian people.” The severe and apparently arbitrary restrictions on foodstuffs entering the enclave – coriander bad, cinnamon good – will finally end, we are told. Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants will have all the coriander they want.

This “adjustment”, as the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it, is aimed solely at damage limitation. With Israel responsible for killing nine civilians aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla three weeks ago, the world has finally begun to wonder what purpose the siege serves. Did those nine really need to die to stop coriander, chocolate and children’s toys from reaching Gaza? And, as Israel awaits other flotillas, will more need to be executed to enforce the policy?

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McChrystal’s ‘counter-terrorism’ without McChrystal

In this clip, the host isn’t particularly well-informed about Afghanistan and some of his comments are plain silly. But some of Wilkerson’s commentary is interesting. As Gareth Porter has repeatedly pointed out, the war is rooted in domestic political consdierations. It has nothing to do with US strategic interests, Leftist conspiracy theories notwithstanding (which for some reason excuse the war’s present architects to always focus on Zbigniew Brzezinski, a man who has been advising against occupying Afghanistan for 9 years).

Lawrence Wilkerson: Overall objectives and basic strategy in Afghanistan are wrong – it’s time to leave.

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That lean and hungry look

by Tariq Ali

General Stanley McChrystal’s kamikaze interview had the desired effect. He was sacked and replaced by his boss General David Petraeus. But behind the drama in Washington is a war gone badly wrong and no amount of sweet talk can hide this fact. The loathing for Holbrooke (a Clinton creature) goes deep not because of his personal defects, of which there are many, but because his attempt to dump Karzai without a serious replacement angered the generals. Aware that the war is unwinnable, they were not prepared to see Karzai fall: without a Pashtun point man in the country the collapse might reach Saigon proportions. All the generals are aware that the stalemate is not easy to break, but desirous of building reputations and careers and experimenting with new weapons and new strategies (real war games are always appealing to the military provided the risks are small) they have obeyed orders despite disagreements with each other and the politicians.

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“Americans Don’t Flinch” – They Duck!

by Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson

June 24, 2010

Yesterday, accepting General McChrystal’s resignation, President Obama said that McChrystal’s departure represented a change in personnel, not a change in policy. “Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks.” he stated, “We persist and we persevere.”

Yet, President Obama and the U.S. people don’t face up to the ugly truth that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. has routinely committed atrocities against innocent civilians. By ducking that truth, the U.S. reinforces a sense of exceptionalism, which, in other parts of the world, causes resentment and antagonism.

While on the campaign trail and since taking office, President Obama has persistently emphasized his view that attacks against civilians are always criminal, unless the U.S. is the attacker, in which case they are justified. We heard this again, yesterday, as the President assured the U.S. people that we will persevere in Afghanistan. “We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan security from within, and launch attacks against innocent men, women, and children in our country and around the world.”

In considering the security of Afghan civilians, it’s crucial to ask why, on May 12, 2009, General McChrystal was selected to replace General McKiernan as the top general in Afghanistan. News reports said it was because he had experience in coordinating special operations in Iraq. That experience involved developing death squads, planning night raids, and coordinating undercover assassinations. McChrystal proved, since his appointment, that he could organize atrocities against Afghan civilians and simultaneously present himself as a protector of Afghan civilians. In doing so, he relied on collaboration and cooperation from Defense Secretary Gates, General Petraeus and President Obama. They are united in their culpability.

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Taliban is a national insurgency, not an international terrorist movement

Riz Khan interviews Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Afghan ambassador to Pakistan under the Taliban regime, and Jere van Dyk, author and journalist and one time captive of the Taliban.

In 2002, Pakistan violated diplomatic protocol to kidnap Zaeef and hand him over to the United States. He spent the next several years first at Bagram and then at Guantanamo Bay, constantly being tortured and abused. Jere van Dyk on the other hand is a US journalist who at one point was kidnapped and imprisonsed by the Pakistani Taliban. Here both recount their respective experiences under captivity and their views on Afghanistan’s future. Zaeef insists that the Taliban’s goals are regional, and they have no interest in picking fights abroad.

Law of Boycott Prohibition

Note: The following article ignores said law’s implications on Palestinians. To read a compressive article on that, I recommend Band Annie’s Weblog.

Israelis calling for support of the Palestinian call for BDS are under attack from all sides. Whether it be the media, private people in the name of some seriously disturbing organizations [Hebrew], government members, or as of late: Law makers taking fascism in Israel up a notch.

The Weapon of Mass Destruction Called “Email”

I’m a signed and active member of the group called BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within. This group is a non-profit, non-governmental group of citizens of Israel (some Jews, some Palestinians). It’s what you might call a tactical, one-track group, that will probably break up (under this title) as soon as our goal is fulfilled.

What’s our goal? Well, contrary to what the common belief in Israel is, it’s not the isolation of Israel- that’s just the means. As we endorse the Palestinian call “as is”, the goals are clearly stated in the call:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

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