Saturday, January 04, 2003

New Zealand News - World - British trials show GE crops breeding with plants in the wild This report, released on Christmas eve in the U.K., is causing an absolute stink down under, where we just imported 50,000 tons of GE seed corn for poultry feed into Brisbane with no public debate or awareness.

"The studies, carried out between 1994 and 2000 by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, shows that genes from GM oil seed rape, engineered to be resistant to herbicides, contaminated conventional crops. And GM oil seed rape that had escaped from a crop harvested in 1996, persisted for at least four years. The report also shows that the GM crop interbred with a weed, wild turnip, giving it resistance to herbicides and thus raising the prospect of the development of super weeds."
New Zealand News - Dialogue - Sam Neill: In the field of GE food we're being sold a pup "The Government has been persuaded to sell us a dog. A rather ugly five-legged dog at that. And on close inspection it looks like the dog might be sporting a toad's rear end."
George Monbiot But the United States is unique among major donors, in that it gives its aid in kind, rather than in cash. The others pay the World Food Programme, which then buys supplies as locally as possible. This is cheaper and better for local economies. USAID, by contrast, insists on sending, where possible, only its own grain. As its website boasts, "the principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American firms. Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans."
Bush on the warpath without proof Recent surveys call into question a key assumption of water carriers for Shrub: that Americans themselves will support any war on Iraq. Only 52 percent of Americans support a war, according to Gallup. "Moreover, two-thirds of Americans insist that they want to see proof--either from the report of the United Nations inspectors or from American intelligence evidence--of the ''weapons of mass destruction'' that Iraq is alleged to possess."
Enron: History of Human Rights Abuse in India (Human Rights Watch Press release, January 23, 2002) "The World Bank repeatedly refused to finance the project because it was "not economically viable," but the U.S. government extended between $290 million and $300 million in loan guarantees to Enron for its investment in Dabhol.

Virtually crying out for a proper expose showing how Cheney's energy advisors screwed up bigtime in India while pocketing millions in "aid".
State Tracking Of Auto Movements By GPS Called 'Nutty' -- 01/02/2003 "If a proposal by an Oregon State task force becomes law, the government would be able to use satellite equipment to keep track of each driver's mileage and tax that driver accordingly in order to pay for road repairs."

This is already happening with corporate fleets and their "citizens" -- what's to stop a government from extending the concept to its own citizens, particularly those with "no rights"?

Friday, January 03, 2003

Los Alamos Lab Chief Quits Amid Criticism (washingtonpost.com) "The director of the beleaguered Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has resigned amid mounting allegations of corruption and mismanagement that threaten to end the University of California's 60-year role in managing the lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons."

Hmmm. Haven't heard too much since this story broke.
Korean War "Chiang Kai-Shek and Rhee...feared that peace would be the end of them. Dulles feared that peace would fatally interfere with the plan to rebuild the old Axis powers for a new anti-Soviet crusade...the dominant trend in American political, economic and military thinking was fear of peace. General Van Fleet summed it all up in speaking to a visiting Filipino delegation in January, 1952: 'Korea has been a blessing. There had to be a Korea either here or someplace in the world.' In this simple-minded confession lies the key to the hidden history of the Korean War."
--I. F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War
(New York: Monthly Review Press, 1952)
Unknown Truth about Korea The Unknown Truth About Korea: U.S. Sanctioned Death Squads and War Crimes, 1945-1953
Visa ban may land Ruddock in court Doyle Canning, a 22-year-old who has been a S11 anti-globalisation activist, has only one apparent crime to her name, that of taking part in a sit-in at a US congressman's office.
Preempting preemptive action | csmonitor.com "Nobody's going to attack North Korea," Powell says with refreshing candor, because a strike against the Yongbyon reactor, now that it is operational, could cause radioactive fallout over a wide area.
So watch for the next edition of the administration's strategy statement - preemptive action against a rogue state, unless it is too late for preemption.
"Evil" - Scoff if you must, but you can't avoid it. By Christopher Hitchens Though the word is often heard on the lips of preachers and moralists, it does also figure in the reflections of modern moral philosophers. Faced with the evidence of genocidal politics in 20th-century Europe, Hannah Arendt, for example, posed the existence of something she termed "radical evil" and suggested that intellectuals were failing to allow for its existence as a self-determining force. Her phrase "the banality of evil" also enjoys wide currency, serving to help us understand the ways in which "ordinary men" can be mobilized or conscripted to do exceptionally ghastly things. If she had said "radical sinning" or "the banality of sin" she might have seemed sermonizing or naive, but then President Bush did not refer to an "axis of sin," did he?
No Support for Strikes Against N. Korea (washingtonpost.com)"Kanter, one of the advocates of military action in 1994, said he is not sure whether he would propose military action today because of the administration's assessment that North Korea already has two nuclear weapons. "Given the enormous risks a military strike would entail, going from two to six bombs changes the situation," he said. "At a minimum, it's a much closer call."

The reason being now they have the means to deliver them long distances, which the DPRK didn't have in '94.
World War Three If the North Korean assertions are true — and administration officials assume they are — the government of Kim Jong Il began in the mid- or late-1990's a secret, parallel program to produce weapons-grade material from highly enriched uranium. That does not require nuclear reactors, but it is a slow process that the United States may have discovered through Korean efforts to acquire centrifuges. That is also the process that the administration believes the Iraqis are undertaking.
World War Three On 5 November the Washington Post released information that confirmed that the CIA had assessed the DPRK as possessing smallpox cultures, with a "medium" quality of evidence.

"The last country on WINPAC's list is North Korea, which the authors wrote "has a longstanding and active biological weapons program." Though assessing that Pyongyang has the smallpox pathogen, WINPAC said its evidence was of "medium" quality.
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall "But it doesn't end the argument, it just gets it going. If war is such an ugly and unviable option -- and it is -- then why in the hell did they provoke this situation in the first place?"
The Nation: What if the Hunt for 'Evildoers' Aimed at Us? "What new devilish inventions are being worked on in that vast network that this nation has assiduously devoted to weapons of mass destruction for more than half a century? Perhaps our lab directors don't want the truth to come out and, like Hussein, are in need of a bracing visit from international inspectors empowered to offer the US scientists safe exit and the security of a witness protection program."

With Boeing now up against the US government for allegedly selling the Chinese sensitive military technology, I think a visit by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Commission and other relevant UN officials to US defence labs is long overdue. It's time for Americans to know what their government has cooked up in those labs as a matter of national security.
Gazette Online - Synfuels help Marriott hotels increase profits The act encouraged entrepreneurs to make synthetic fuels from “unconventional sources.” Some companies began claiming synfuel credits for producing ethanol from corncobs or oil from shale deposits in the West.
Then, beginning in the fall of 1999, a handful of electric utilities and coal companies began spraying already-usable coal with latex, diesel and pine-tar sprays to qualify for the credits.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

ABCNEWS.com : Israel's Likud Loses Ground in Polls Amid Scandal A survey in the left-wing Ha'aretz newspaper forecast Likud, which heads a right-wing government, would win 31 seats in the 120-seat parliament, down from 35 seats a week ago and 41 seats three weeks ago. A second poll, published in the mainstream Maariv newspaper, showed Likud taking 34 seats, a loss of one seat compared with its showing in its previous survey.
ABCNEWS.com : Germany Might Support War Against Iraq Meanwhile, Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass lambasted Bush as posing a "threat to world peace" for his policy toward Iraq, saying Bush's interest in oil and his status as the son of a former president add up to an almost Shakespearean tragedy.
"I consider the man a danger," Grass told Germany's Welt am Sonntag weekly Sunday.
"He reminds me of a figure from Shakespeare's history plays whose only motive is to show his father, the old, dying king, 'Look, I have fulfilled your task.'"
William A. McDonough William McDonough's new book, written with his colleague, the German chemist Michael Braungart, is a manifesto calling for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design. Through historical sketches on the roots of the industrial revolution; commentary on science, nature and society; descriptions of key design principles; and compelling examples of innovative products and business strategies already reshaping the marketplace, McDonough and Braungart make the case that an industrial system that "takes, makes and wastes" can become a creator of goods and services that generate ecological, social and economic value.
BBC NEWS | Health | GM potato 'could improve child health' Pete Riley, GM spokesman for Friends of the Earth, told BBC News Online: "Any GM food that's put on the market, in India or any other country, needs to have gone through the proper safety checks.
"We need to have a system in place that makes sure that even a crop which on paper might bring long-term benefits is not going to have any unforeseen consequences."
The Australian: Tim Blair: I'm afraid you must be myth taken, mate [January 02, 2003] Myth five: The Australian Greens are a powerful new force in Australian politics, heralding an era of idealism.
Maybe, but not for the Greens. Green MP Michael Organ's choice of parliamentary vehicle – a fuel-skolling supercharged Holden – heralds an era of idealistic resource consumption and drag racing.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Wildlife seeks cooler climes The authors say: "These analyses reveal a consistent temperature-related shift, or 'fingerprint', in species ranging from molluscs to mammals and from grasses to trees...the balance of evidence from these studies strongly suggests that a significant impact of global warming is already discernible in animal and plant populations.
Scientific American: Life on Earth Is Feeling the Heat In the second report, Terry L. Root of Stanford University and her colleagues analyzed data from 143 previously published scientific studies that included information on 1,473 species. The team found that a consistent temperature-related shift, noting that "the balance of evidence from these studies strongly suggests that a significant impact of global warming is already discernible in animal and plant populations." Species that live at higher latitudes are particularly affected because temperature increases in these regions have been more pronounced than those at lower latitudes, according to the report. The authors posit that their findings may only hint at what is to come. Says Root: "Clearly, if such ecological changes are now being detected when the globe has warmed by an estimated average of only one degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, then many more far-reaching effect on species and ecosystems will probably occur by 2100, when temperatures could increase as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit." -- Sarah Graham
Quicken Brokerage - News Center Hughes Electronics Corp. (GMH, news) and Boeing Co.'s (BA, news) Boeing Satellite Systems Inc. unit are accused of illegally giving technical data to China following failed launches by China of rockets carrying U.S. satellites in 1995 and 1996.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | China claims train blue riband But this difficulty is more easily solved in China than in more developed countries, because the government still has the power to force through hugely expensive construction projects, and there is plenty of cheap labour.
US policy stokes South Korea anger "Oppose US pressure on North Korea. No more war on the Korean peninsula," read a banner held by one of the protesters. Others said they doubted whether Pyongyang's nuclear weapons, if they existed, were directed at South Korea."The North probably built them to protect itself from the United States." protester Min Keong-min told Reuters news agency."

All the more reason why the US should back off as gracefully as it can from the blunder and let South Korea, Japan, China and Russia decide how to handle the problem.
Bush Vows to End Iraq, N.Korea Crises Peacefully "Our economy is strong, it's resilient, we've got to continue to make it strong and resilient," Bush said. But he added: "This economy cannot afford to stand an attack."

The economy can't afford it? "Stand an attack" -- does that mean, "Our economy can't withstand another terrorist attack like 9/11" -- which is obviously untrue -- or the US and allies can't really afford to go to war at the moment?
OK, Let’s Get this Axis of Evil Straight Was Rumsfield the bad guy in ABB nuke sale to North Korea? Vanitysite thinks so.

"Clinton is obviously the bad guy here, since he signed the agreement, but who sold Kim Il Sung the equipment he needed to make his bomb? Donald Rumsfeld."

It's not true, however. The reactor the North Koreans restarted last week was a Soviet design, not the new so-called peaceful lightwater reactors made by ABB and purchased by Bush in April 2002 as part of the Carter deal with DPRK in '94. Although DPRK probably could also use these to eventually produce nukes, these reactors haven't even been built yet.

More damning by far is Bush's April 2002 exemption of North Korea's existing plutonium stocks from UN weapons inspectors when releasing the $95 m in funding to build the reactors.

Talking Points Memo: NK calls Bush's bluff, US credibility takes a king hit in region "Tough talk sounds great until your opponent calls your bluff and everybody sees there's nothing behind the trash talk. Then you look foolish. That's where we are right now with North Korea. As Nelson says, no doubt the NKs are the bad guys. And this is an extremely complex problem with no easy solutions. But the Bush administration has pursued a keystone cops policy on the Korean Peninsula for two years now, mixing think-tank braggadocio with feckless inconstancy. Now we're all going to pay the price."

As well as the North Korean fiasco, the US needs to junk its outdated policy on South Korea, in drift since Clinton. A Chosen Ibo editorial dryly notes: "We have not observed any involvement from our government during the process of establishing the "tailored containment policy," and this reflects malfunctions in the Korea-US alliance." The way the US handles this relationship, and in turn the developing relationship between Seoul and Beijing, is critical for regional peace and security.

North Korea's neighbours, via the UN, should resolve the nuke crisis peacefully by getting the US to step out of the picture (as I believe it must and will) before any containment policy on DPRK is put into place. Those sanctions mooted by the US will likely cause significant civilian deaths in DPRK and probably won't work rapidly enough to dissuade the DPRK from its nuke plans.

TimBlair: Tracking the SIEV-X smuggler "THE FEDERAL Government has vowed to track down the person responsible for the drowning of 353 people on SIEV-X, the people-smuggling vessel that sank en route to Australia last year.

It might surprise Margo Kingston to learn that John Howard isn't the man they're looking for."

Of course not, Tim...why would they risk examining in public the people smuggler interdiction program of the Federal Police in Indonesia, and what Howard and his ministers knew about it?
SE Queensland Councils in line to go online with ownership [01jan03] "Within three years of the changes, the Government expected advanced services to be rolled out to "knowledge nodes" including hospitals, airports, the Enoggera Army Base, Canungra Army Training Centre, the Milton-Toowong corridor, Movie World, Valley-Newstead area, Kelvin Grove arts precinct, Herston medical precinct and Griffith Research Park."

Don't hold your breath.
Garrett will play song of the rivers in Parliament - smh.com.au "Land clearing should also be at the top of the agenda. "We love to point the finger at the environ-mental vandalism in the Brazilian and Indonesian rainforests but really, we're no different," Mr Garrett said. "As Australians we love the bush, but at the same time we're still clearing around 32 MCGs worth of bushland every hour of every day."

Pete will also target environmental flows to Australian rivers, especially the Murray.
Likud corruption probe heats up "Yesterday saw harsh exchanges between "sources" close to both politicians, with [Likud Infrastructure Minister] Blumenthal broadly hinting that the prime minster's son, Omri, is largely responsible for the corruption scandal in the Likud, due to his handling of the massive Likud membership drive that brought in "criminal elements to the party," according to Blumenthal. According to friends of Blumenthal, she has remained silent on her lawyer's advice, until he has studied the affair and knows how to proceed."
Yahoo! News - N. Korea Accuses U.S. of Plotting War "Ambassador Pak Ui Chun said that Washington had threatened North Korea "with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. These conditions also make it impossible for us to abide by the treaty, whose main provision bans nuclear powers from using nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them."

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Counting on the Internet
"Most Americans expect to find key information online, most find the information they seek, and many now turn to the Internet first."
Howard defiant over asylum fires "Mr Howard conceded that the country's network of detention centres was facing serious unrest, but denied the situation was out of control. "I don't accept there is a crisis," he told ABC radio."
Price of his power is a soulless land - smh.com.au "Of the left parties the only one to flourish in 2002 was the Greens, with their victory at Cunningham and their breakthrough performance in the Victorian state election. There are now a large number of young, well-educated Australians who are not only concerned about the environment and ashamed about Australia's retreat from reconciliation and its inhumane treatment of refugees, but who also refuse to accept a mainstream politics premised on individualistic aspirationalism and the abandonment of the struggle for a better world. If there is any hope for the emergence of an oppositional politics, at the time of the Howard ascendency, it lies with the Greens."

Robert Manne, former conservative editor of Australia's Quadrant. Right on, Robert!
German Green Party Minister Softens Stance Against Iraq War "When asked in an interview in the German weekly Der Spiegel, whether Germany would consider voting in favor of military action, Mr. Fischer responded, "No one can say in advance what will happen, as no one knows how and under what terms the Security Council will deal with this."

Unlike the old parties, the Greens are not seemingly beholden to a permanent war economy.The Greens, however, have always supported resolving the Iraqi situation primarily via the United Nations Security Council. Fischer is simply reiterating this point of view, which I also share.
New level of irony (via Atrios) "In Godley, Tex., a 20-year-old man was fatally shot as he was wrestling for a gun with a 21-year-old man. Police said the two had been aggressively debating which of the two was more likely to get to Heaven."

The 20 year old won I guess.
U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup (washingtonpost.com) " In addition, the United States itself has changed. As a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. policymakers take a much more alarmist view of the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Oh really? I guess that's why Bush dropped sanctions against Pakistan for its nuclear testing, which we now find almost led to a nuclear war this year?

Monday, December 30, 2002

Alert after GM crop altered other plants "The National Institute for Agricultural Botany at Cambridge says current safety margins of 50 metres between GM crops and normal crops are not acceptable. Any normal crops being grown for seed or to be labelled organic would be rendered unfit for market because of contamination, and the research evidence shows that cross-pollination over large distances is possible."

More evidence of how GE and GMOs are shaping up to become the crack cocaine of agriculture.
Daily Telegraph: Racing Green [28dec02] Avid Greens watcher and member of the Australian Democrats, Greg Barnes, said a Greens MP choosing the Supercharged S was the height of hypocrisy. "It is gross hypocrisy of Mr Organ to not practice what he preaches but on the other hand its only one of many inconsistencies that one sees from the Greens," Mr Barnes said. "What it demonstrates is that the Greens tend to represent a rag bag of views with no consistency."

This from a person who recently deserted his own party, the Liberals in Tasmania, to join with a party of unmatched inconsistency, the remainders of the Australian Democrats.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

BBC NEWS | Monitoring | Media reports | Pyongyang media keeps up rhetoric Despite the media's focus on the nuclear issue, the North Korean news agency found time to issue a end-of-year round up on what it called the "hot wind of admiration, fascination, reverence, praise and worship for the greatness of leader Kim Jong-il" which it said had been "blowing all over the world this year".

That's a hot wind you're feeling, Kim, but not one of admiration I'm afraid.

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